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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where To Start

Last week while I was browsing the American Preppers Network, there was one theme that seemed to pervade the posts of all the new members...

  "HOW DO I START???"

I remember feeling that way.  Overwhelmed.  Insecure.  Fearful.  Completely out of my comfort zone. 

I found this list to be so incredibly helpful.  Of course it's not the "be-all end-all" guideline to beginning preparedness, but it did give me a sense of direction and made me think in terms of survival.  I printed this list and kept it on the fridge, crossing off items as we acquired them.  I also kept a copy in my purse, for staying organized while shopping clearance sales, yard sales, auctions, etc.  Hope you find this as useful as I did!   

100 Items to Disappear First
1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:
Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents and
friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate
    near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war
   quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to
   do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without
    heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of
    the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs
    enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in
    bulk.
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more
    valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival
    guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll
    have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many
    people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of
    toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to
    lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches





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Incorporating: Grains Part 1

In my humble opinion, grains are often the most difficult food items to incorporate in our food stores, especially for folks my age. 

Why?

Because my generation is the Wonder Bread/Instant Gratification generation.  We're worldly and we know the score:

Bread is white, light and airy and comes with a 3-week shelf-life.

Flour is white and comes in 5lb bags from the grocery store.

Rice is white and can be prepared in under 1 minute.

Popcorn comes in a microwaveable bag.

Barley, Kamut and wheat berries are nutty and crunchy and are generally consumed by people who are nutty and crunchy themselves...

Yes sir, my generation knows where it's at :)

I jest, but really, my generation is one of processed, convenience foods, uneducated when it comes to using whole grains and maybe a bit biased against them.  (Yes, that's a sweeping generalization and I know there are folks out there who don't fit that description.  Just sayin....)   But I'm sure it's not only my generation that's at a bit of a loss when it comes to using whole grains.  When you begin prepping, it's easy to go out and buy a couple hundred pounds of whole wheat, barley, rice and popcorn; it's more difficult to actually use them and be satisfied with the results. That's the true test of food storage; using and enjoying the food.

Before I begin sharing my experiences on using stored grain with you, let me just get this out of the way: I am not an expert on grains nor do I portray one on TV.  I AM however a mama to 2 healthy kids with huge appetites and sophisticated palates and these are the lessons I've learned.

Storing whole wheat is easy.  You need 5 gallon buckets, oxygen absorbers, maybe a food saver and a block of uninterrupted time.  Using whole wheat, however, can be much more difficult.  It can take a long time to develop your bread-making technique and you may go through a dozen recipes and dozens of loaves of rock-hard bread before you find a technique, recipe and flavor that you appreciate.  Start learning now, for the love of Pete!

Hard red wheat is the wheat we're all familiar with as it's a staple food around the globe.  It's what bakeries use for their wheat bread.  It's what we buy ground in sacks at the grocery store.  It's inexpensive and stores well but has a strong, nutty flavor that may not appeal to all palates.  Hard red wheat produces a bread that has definite texture, real flavor and depth as opposed to white bread which is just a carrier for meats, cheeses and condiments.  When you've eaten a slice of homemade wheat bread, you know it.  It's a meal in itself and not just a gut-filler like many baked products.  Here's a link to the wheat bread recipe I use: again, it takes practice, learning how to knead the dough and perfecting the flavor to your taste.  Don't give up the first time if it fails you.  I promise you'll enjoy the end result, even if it takes a little trial and error.       

If using whole wheat frightens you, may I suggest you start out with hard white wheat?  Hard white wheat produces a slightly loftier bread that is more akin to the loaves we buy from the store.  It contains all the goodness of hard red wheat but has a flavor closer to white bread and may be a good way to begin your journey into grains and whole-wheat bread baking.  It also makes great soft wraps, quick breads, pancakes and just about anything else you'd use traditional flour for.

I've only touched on wheat in terms of baking bread, but there are numerous other uses for whole wheat.  It can be cooked whole and made into a delicious cold salad, it can be ground and simmered with milk and sugar for cream of wheat cereal and it can also be sprouted for a real boost of nutrition.  If we step outside of our comfort zone, we'll see that wheat has much potential beyond plain old loaves of bread. 

I'll not tell you how much wheat to store; it's a losing battle that I refuse to take part in.  I will tell you that we store equal parts hard white and hard red wheat, plus a bit of soft white wheat for more delicate pastries like cookies, pie crusts, crepes and the like...(if you're wondering the difference between hard and soft wheats, it's all in the protein content.)  You can find storage calculators around the Internet that make recommendations as to how much wheat and grains to store.  Take that information with a grain of salt.  If you don't eat bread or have a gluten allergy, it's pretty useless to buy a ton of wheat.  If you supplement your food stores with other grain products like pasta, you may not need as much wheat as the calculators recommend.  Use some common sense, start small and learn how to use wheat in simple, practical ways that will benefit your family.

Now, onto rice.  We've had it pounded into our heads for the past 20 years from various 'experts' that brown rice is great and white rice is not. 

And they're right. 

Brown rice is by far healthier and more nutritious than white rice.  It's nutty and delicious, full of fiber and vitamins, and works beautifully in hundreds, if not thousands of recipes.

It also has a 6 month shelf-life.

Suddenly brown rice doesn't seem so spectacular does it?

Those of us in prepper circles generally look to white rice for our long term storage.  Admittedly it's not as nutritious as brown rice, but it boasts a 25-30 year shelf-life when stored properly, making it a staple item for food stores.  An added plus, very few people are allergic to rice so it could/would be a very valuable commodity in a SHTF situation.

An extremely versatile grain/grass, rice can be used as a main dish with the addition of beans, or fried up with an egg and leftover veggies for a quick fried rice dish.  Adding rice can stretch a pound of meat, creating filling meals like soups,  'porcupines', or good old-fashioned favorites like chicken and rice.  Combine rice with some milk,  dried fruit, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch and you have a delicious rice pudding for breakfast or dessert.  And for infants in the household, grind the rice and cook with water or juice for a simple, easily digestible meal.  Here are some great, simple recipes that you may want to try!

There are so many varieties of rice out there, from basic long and short grain rices to aromatic varieties like Jasmine and Basmati.   All of them are delicious.  All of them store well.  All of them can be useful.  If you haven't tried rice beyond the instant minute variety, now is the time to broaden your horizons and discover which varieties best suit your family's needs.

Next up: Corn!

Blessings,
Andrea

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sing the health praises of parsley and sage

Those of us who go back a few years likely remember the line about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in the huge Simon and Garfunkel hit song about two ill-fated lovers, "Are You Going to Scarborough Fair". Many have speculated that the reference to the four popular herbs was due to their use in Medieval Europe to help cleanse the air and ward off the infamous black plague. Others have thought that the reference to the four herbs was because the combination may have been used as a love potion. Whatever the reason for their inclusion in the popular song, the many health benefits of parsley and sage are worth loving and singing praises about in their own rights.

PARSLEY

Parsley is an amazing medicinal herb with a world of health benefits. The root contains calcium, B-complex vitamins, and iron, which nourish the glands that help regulate the uptake of calcium. It is a source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Among the many benefits reported for parsley are:

*It is a diuretic which helps the body produce more urine to keep the urinary system operating smoothly and which helps prevent problems such as kidney stones and bladder infections.

*It is wonderful for removing toxins from the body, such as heavy metals.

*It is an effective breath freshener. It is believed that the practice of including parsley on a dinner plate began due to its breath freshening abilities and not merely for its decorative effect.

*The root and leaves are good for the liver and spleen.

*It helps relieve bloating during menstruation.

*It provides relief for edema, often helping when other remedies have failed

*Parsley root and seeds help relax stiff joints, often making stiff and unmanageable fingers work again.

*It helps remove gallstones when used properly by taking a pint of the tea daily.

*It is beneficial for the adrenal glands.

*It is a powerful therapeutic aid for the optic nerves, brain and sympathetic nervous system.

*Parsley juice is an excellent tonic for the blood vessels.

Note: It is best to avoid large amounts of parsley if you are pregnant, especially the use of the volatile essential oil.

SAGE

Like rosemary, its sister herb in the mint (Labiatae) family, sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids, including rosmarinic acid. The oils found in sage are both antiseptic and antibiotic, helping it fight infections.

Besides the antioxidant and other properties shared with Rosemary, sage`s other health benefits include:

*It is effective for symptoms of menopause, night sweats and hot flashes because of its estrogenic action and because its tannins help dry up perspiration.

*Sage helps provide better brain function and has been used in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease for over a thousand years. It helps provide better recall and research has suggested that it may be an effective option to help treat Alzheimer`s.

*There`s also compelling evidence that sage may be of value to people with diabetes for whom the hormone insulin does not work as efficiently as it should. Lab studies indicate that sage may boost insulin`s action.

* The ability of sage to protect oils from oxidation has also led some companies to experiment with sage as a natural antioxidant additive for cooking oils that can extend shelf life and help avoid rancidity.

In an upcoming article, we will also sing the praises of the other two herbs mentioned in the popular song - rosemary and thyme.

Sources included:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarbo...
http://www.healthy-holistic-living....
http://www.greenmuze.com/blogs/natu...
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pars...

About the author

Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year.
Mr. Isaacs is currently residing in scenic East Texas and frequently commutes to the even more scenic Texas hill country near San Antonio and Austin to give lectures in health seminars. He also hosts the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs - featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and he serves as a consultant to the "Utopia Silver Supplement Company".

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030824_parsley_sage.html#ixzz199MCeUCU


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Goals/2011-CHALLENGE!

I know.  It's not even Christmas, and already I'm thinking about 2011.  Every year about this time, I give thought to what I want to do for the following year and how I intend to accomplish it.  I'm kind of weird that way, but NOTHING motivates me more than seeing that list of goals hanging on the refrigerator door, items being crossed off one at a time over the course of the year.  That really gets me going and makes me want to do even more! 
 
We all have those jobs/goals projects we need/want to accomplish but as we have noone to hold us accountable, they normally don't get done.  There's no shame in that; it's just the way it is. 

But what if we DID have someone challenging us to do all we can do and be all we can be?

I'd like to issue a challenge to all you crazy Bucknuts out there; we'll call it the Goals/2011 Challenge! How about we each draw up goal/project lists for 2011; you can include anything you need to do or want to do, no matter how mundane or outrageous.  You can include 1 goal or 101 goals, whatever you're up for!  You can post them here or you can keep them private, whatever you're comfortable with but the goal is to accomplish SOMETHING, ANYTHING that will lead you towards greater preparedness and self-sufficiency.  Whether that's learning to can or finally planting that blackberry patch.  Maybe taking your concealed carry training?  Or learning a skill like plumbing or carpentry.  Anything goes.  Within reason : )We'll check back in once each month to see what we've accomplished and encourage our neighbors.  Are you up for the challenge?

Since I'm not bashful, I'll post my Goals/2011 Challenge list.

First, the typical stuff:
-Trim down, eat healthier 'whole' foods on a daily basis and eat out less.
-Exercise more, specifically riding bikes with my children in the cemetery down the road.
-Finish paying off our debt, hopefully by March.
-Spend more hours serving God and my community through the church garden ministry.

And now the atypical stuff:
-Start my medicinal herb garden, probably in March.
-Make better use of the crawlspace portion of our basement.
-Learn to age hard cheeses.
-Build an outdoor shower.
-Add to our food storage, at least 3-6 months worth of extra food.
-Experiment with homemade sausage blends and sprouted wheat bread recipes.

I know those are some strange goals, but each of those items will contribute in some way to greater health, security, comfort, preparedness and self-sufficiency in bad times (and in good times too!)   So think outside the box and get busy on those lists!  And while I have the opportunity to say so....

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!      

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day Prep

Admittedly, it's probably a little late to ask if you're ready for the snow. 

Mea Culpa. 

We'll categorize this post as 'Day Late, Dollar Short', and go forward with it anyway.  

So how much snow did you end up with?  We're somewhere in the 4-6 inch range, but it's difficult to say exactly because of the blowing and drifting.  Our schools are closed this morning and the road is only recognizeable due to it's proximity to the mail box.  That's to say if you didn't KNOW the road is there, you wouldn't be able to find it. 

I love snow days, but in our area, a little bit of snow can add up to big problems:

-The N/S roads drift shut regularly.
-Older trees overhanging electric lines come down.
-Power lines whip in the wind.
-Our roads are low-priority/secondary roads so they're the last to be treated by the plows and when they ARE treated, the lack of traffic slows the affect of the salt.

Though I love it here, I learned very quickly that wintertime preparedness is not something to put off til later.  In mid-October, we begin preparing for the inevitable.  And it IS inevitable.  We WILL be snowed in at some point.  We WILL lose power at some point.  We WILL need to prepare food without using the stove.  So what do we do? 

-Make sure the heating oil tank is full at all times.  If we DO have power, we'll need the fuel to keep the house warm.

-Make sure there's at least 10 gallons of kerosene, a full tank in the kerosene heater and a fresh wick to ensure a clean burn.  1 kerosene heater in the central area of the house can keep us warm and cozy until the power comes back on.   

-Keep a supply of flashlights, oil lamps and candles for light, plus the necessary oil, batteries and matches.

-Keep a supply of food that requires no/little heat.  Ramen noodles, sandwich fixings, instant/canned soups,  tea and hot cocoa mixes, MREs and freeze-dried meals are great to have on hand.  I know from experience they can be prepared with only the heat from a kerosene stove and on a cold wintry day, Ramen noodles are better than nothing!

-Store water.  No power means no well and no well means no water.  We COULD melt snow if need be, but a situation like this is EXACTLY why we store water.  You  DO store water, right? 

-Keep a closet full of fluffy comforters, warm quilts, thick blankets.  Never, ever get rid of blankets, quilts, comforters!  They're absolutely invaluable as draft-dodgers, window and door coverings, and extra layers for sleeping when the power is out.

-The obvious stuff: salt/sand for driveways and sidewalks, snow shovels, chains, a snowblade and gas for the lawn tractor.

-And most importantly---supplies for the car.  Never leave home without *at least* the bare basics: a blanket, boots, mittens, hats, a change of socks, candle and matches for heat and light, water and shelf-stable food.  Extras like a collapsible shovel, a flare, kitty litter, toilet paper and an emergency radio are also great to keep in the car.

-Stay on top of the situation.  Watch the weather channel, listen to an emergency radio, keep the cell phone charged and be aware of what's going on. 

-Stay home.  Bring out the board games, the classic movies, the footy-jammies, mugs of hot chocolate and be prepared to stay home.  If it isn't life and death (or job-related), you probably don't HAVE to go anywhere.  Hunker down and enjoy the time with your family.  

Blessings,
Andrea   

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Incorporating: Dairy

  As you've figured out by my previous posts, I'm big on food storage.  Having a full larder has proven invaluable to me, through lay-offs, winter weather and even routine, non-emergency tight spots in our budget.   Food should be tops on all our To-Do lists for the coming year and with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts on incorporating different types of foods into our storage programs, both for long-term storage and for everyday use.  And as always, I welcome your feedback.

 I'm sure you're well aware by now that I'm a mama to 2 little ones, so dairy is high on our list of necessities.  My children love milk, especially the chocolate varieties and consume several servings each day.  As my daughter was unable to talk my husband into a backyard cow, I've done a good deal of research on how to store milk, what varieties to store and what we can do with it once we've stored it.  I'll touch on a couple ways we store dairy products and then I'd love to hear your methods.

First, the dreaded powdered milk.  There's a couple of different types of powdered milk (non-instant, instant) and dozens of different brands but for the most part, powdered milks are essentially the same: milk that's been freeze-dried in order to remove the water content without cooking the milk.  Instant powdered milk dissolves quickly and easily in cold water, non-instant/regular needs warm water to dissolve.  Both varieties are fat-free to create a longer shelf-life and for the most part, they have similar flavors.  I've tried several different brands and by far my favorite is the Provident Pantry Instant Fat Free Powdered Milk from Emergency Essentials; it's in the blue can!  It's not a cheap purchase, but per serving, it's fairly comparable to buying fresh milk by the gallon.  And the plus side is that, unopened and stored sensibly, PP powdered milk has approximately a 20 year shelf life. 

So what can you do with powdered milk?  Drink it of course.  I can't really tell a difference between Provident Pantry instant milk and regular old skim milk, but that's just my opinion.  It's also great for adding an extra boost of calcium and protein to breads, yogurt and kefir.  You can stir a bit into your morning bowl of oatmeal, or use it to add body to soups and sauces.  And it's invaluable when the roads are closed due to a winter storm and the kids are out of milk.  Add a bit of Hershey's syrup and an ice cube and they'll be happy enough.

Next, on to canned milks.  Evaporated and condensed milk were among my first provisions when I started prepping.  Both products have a decent shelf life of up to 2-3 years and are useful in so many ways.  I use evaporated milk in homemade cheese sauces, cream soups, casseroles and desserts.  Condensed milk, with all it's sugary goodness, is excellent for baking, candy-making and even in your cup of morning coffee.  I enjoy both products and feel like both of these products have their place in a well-stocked pantry.  That said, don't expect a fresh milk flavor.  It's cooked milk, and it tastes like cooked milk so don't expect to reconstitute a can of evaporated milk and end up with a product that tastes like fresh milk.  It won't happen.  Both products are extremely useful as long as you know their limitations.

Finally, powdered milk products (just-add-water cheese sauces, gravies, flavored milk substitutes and hot cocoa mixes)  can be an invaluable addition to your larder.  I'll admit that nutritionally, they're not top shelf, but in an emergency situation powdered cheese sauce could go a long way towards improving the taste of rice, pasta or beans.  When it comes down to surviving on our food stores, appetite fatigue could be a real problem, especially for the very young and the very old.  If adding a package of powdered cheese to a grain, bean or pasta dish stokes the appetite, well then yay for powdered cheese!

And in my humble opinion, hot cocoa mixes (and flavored milk substitutes) shouldn't be relegated to being a luxury and unnecessary.  You hear that a lot in prepping circles: instant cocoa mixes are nice but not a necessity.   My thinking is that hot cocoa mixes are a great source of calcium that pretty much everyone will consume without complaining.  Kids love it, most adults love it and it offers at least a bit of nutrition (calcium).   It's a wonderful comfort food during times of stress, whets the appetite and soothes the body during sickness, and warms you against cold weather.  And maybe the best argument for hot cocoa mix: it covers the flat flavor of bottled/boiled/stored water.   How can we afford NOT to include hot cocoa mixes in our food storage???  Hot cocoa is practically a miracle food!

There are literally dozens of other methods of incorporating dairy into our food storage; canned butter, powdered butter, canned cheese sauce, home-canned milk, just to name a few.  Now is a great time to stock up on the products you enjoy and learn how to prepare them to suit your needs.  And if you're lucky enough to have access to fresh milk, now is also a great time to learn how to preserve that milk through home-canning, culturing and cheesemaking!

Onward Preppers!

Andrea

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Culturing Milk

At first I thought the practice of culturing milk might be a strange topic for a survival/homesteader blog, but the longer I considered it, the more I thought it appropriate.  If things go south, as many are predicting they will, it's a strong possibility that life as we know will be turned on it's head.  Every aspect of our lives will be affected:

-how/where we live
-how/where we work
-how/what we eat
-how we educate our children
-how we care for the very young and the very old
-how we celebrate
-how we reproduce
-how we worship

Every aspect of our lives will be affected.  It's hard to wrap your mind around that, isn't it?  It's hard to imagine that we'll be living *intentionally* and our every action can and will impact almost every aspect of our lives.  Life will be about getting the most "bang for our buck", from food, money, clothes, education, faith.  There will be no more disposable income, disposable appliances, disposable family and friends.  No more throwaway cars.  No more junk food.  We'll be playing for keeps.

So what does all of this have to do with milk?

Let me tell you.

In the world to come, I can see us eating very differently.  Once the price of food has skyrocketed and the MREs run out, we'll likely return to a system of local/seasonal diets and food will have value beyond that of gold and silver.  In that case, preserving food and getting the most nutritional value possible out of that food will become top priority, especially for the mamas in the family. 

Thus, culturing milk. 

Cultured or fermented milk is a very practical way to extend the life of milk as well as adding a real punch of nutrition into an already nutritionally-dense food.  There are so many ways to culture milk, some simple, some more sophisticated, that I'm only going to cover a couple.  Yogurt and kefir are by far the easiest ways to culture milk.  All you need is fresh milk, a culture additive and a thermos.  That's it. 

For yogurt, start with the freshest milk you can locate and warm it to 180 degrees then allow it to cool to 100-110 degrees.  Add yogurt culture, stirring gently and then process in a thermos for 6-12 hours.  When the yogurt begins to set up, pour it into a covered container and refrigerate.  I like extremely thick yogurt, so I strain mine using a collander and cheesecloth (and a big bowl to capture the whey for later use.)  There you go.  Fresh yogurt.  What's wonderful about this process is that you can use a small amount of your fresh yogurt as a culture for your next batch.  As you all know from the various TV commercials, yogurt is crammed full of calcium, Vitamin D and probiotics and is especially nice topped with some homemade jam or honey.  When you're feeding someone with a tiny tummy or diminished appetite, yogurt packs a lot of nutrition into a very small portion.

Kefir is another simple cultured milk product.  Like yogurt, it is packed full of probiotics---the good bacteria---and is supposed to be a real boon to the digestive/immune system, especially following a course of antibiotics.  Again, you start with fresh milk, culture or kefir grains and a thermos.  Warm the milk to 86 degrees, add the culture and keep warm in a thermos for up to 24 hours.  The result is a tangy, slightly carbonated milk product that can be used in smoothies, drank straight up or used in baking or cooking.

Other ways of culturing milk include cheese, butter, buttermilk and I'm sure there are dozens of other practical ideas.  I just wanted to throw out a couple.  If the time comes that we need to eat food with the greatest nutrional and caloric impact, cultured milk products should be high on the list!  Not only do they keep a long time, but the probiotic boost can do wonders for our immune systems during times of stress or sickness.  If you've never tried your hand at homemade yogurt or kefir, now is a great time to start!

Blessings,
Andrea

           

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Post-Holiday Let Down

Things are getting back to normal here in our household following one.busy.week.  We entertained my husband's family on Thanksgiving then afterwards went to my family's house for dessert and good times.  Everything went incredibly smoothly, with the exception of one flambeed dish of sweet potatoes LOL.  Hope you all had a pleasant holiday surrounded by people you love.  And don't forget, Thanksgiving isn't about FEELING thankful, it's about GIVING thanks.  Big difference there. 

So, did you read any of the newspaper headlines on Saturday morning?  You know the ones:

"SHOTS RING OUT IN WALMART PARKING LOT ON BLACK FRIDAY"

"MAN TRAMPLED IN TARGET STAMPEDE"

"BUYING FRENZY LEADS TO SCUFFLE AT LOCAL DEPARTMENT STORE"

Those were just a few of the examples. 

Isn't that crazy?

Now I will confess, I went out bright and early Friday morning with my BFF Suzanne.  We went to a Columbus mall, window shopped at a kitchen store, drank hot tea at a book store and saw an alarming car fire.  We enjoyed fellowship, a cool frosty morning and a lovely warm lunch.  And not once did she elbow me or ram me with a shopping cart trying to get to that 'must have' item of the 2010 shopping season.  Not once.  Now there is a true friend for you.

But seriously, headlines from Black Friday disturb me; mainly because I see them as an indication of what people are really capable of.  If people will stand in line for 4 hours, trample a man at the door and shoot at each other in the parking lot over a toy or a TV, what would they be capable of in a Post-TSHTF scenario?  If food, clothing and necessities were the hot items of the moment, what would they be willing to do to secure those items?  Trample you?  Run you over?  Shoot you?

It's all rather frightening.

There's only a thin veneer of civility that holds our society together and should that veneer disappear, due to civil unrest, collapse, food shortages, then God help us all.

Do what you can to get ready.  If it's fear that motivates you, so be it.  If it's hope, that's great too.  What's important is that you're motivated.

Stock up on something. 

Brush up on something. 

Connect with somebody. 

Learn something.

Do what you can while times are good to be prepared for when times are bad.

In His Service,
Andrea              

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ohio Preppers Roll Call

The Ohio Preppers Network is conducting a Roll Call on our forum.  If you are a prepper please check in.

* Here is a link to the Roll Call:
http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=401&t=6183



You have to be registered to check in.  If you aren't registered please join here:
http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/ucp.php?mode=register


* If you are a HAM Radio Operator check in here:
http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=143&t=6219


* If you are an A.N.T.S. member please check in here:
http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=618&t=6220

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prepping Deals and Steals

It has been awhile since I've posted here and want to thank Andrea for holding down the fort. You're doing a great job. I thought I would try something different. Once a week as I come across deals related to prepping, I will try to post them on Mondays or no later than Tuesday. From now until the New Year, there will be great deals to be had, so if you need to finish up or are just starting your prepping journey, this would be a good time to invest in preps. Not to be a fear monger, but I feel our time to get prepared for hard times are about up. Money is tightening up for most of us and unfortunately I look for it to get worse. So if you have expendable cash, it would be prudent to stock up on food, clothing (particularly shoes and socks), think about how you will heat your home and power it when you cannot afford utilities. It may come down to house payment or utilities. I know what my decision will be. So plan accordingly.
Also, think about water. Two liter bottles work well. I know the fear about plastic contaminates, but one needs clean water to survive and the last thing you will think about is BPA (I think that's what it is) in the plastic. Here are what I feel are the best deals of the week. I have to say, Menard's has some great deals.


ALDI'S
Hands down this is probably the cheapest store to buy food preps for short term storage, especially if you like to one stop shop for food preps.

MEIJERS
-Muellers pasta .89
-Meijer's All Purpose flour 1.25 (shelf life of about 5 yrs.)

KROGER'S
-can vegies 2/1.00
-sugar 1.99 (will last forever is stored correctly)

MENARDS
-27 PC. Gun Cleaning Kit 8.88

-Rayovac Batteries 6.99 (there is a 5.00 rebate with this and I believe there is a 1.00 coupon for this as well) So 18 Batteries for .99 after rebate

-Solar Path Lights 8 pk 9.99 (Great back up light for when the power goes out and dim enough you will not stand out)

-Mens 2 pc. Thermal Underwear 5.99

-Men's 6 pack Ankle or no show socks (During the Great Depression, shoes and socks were very difficult to acquire)
EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS

EE is having a Black Friday Sale on preparedness items that may be of interest. The sale starts at 10:00 E.T. http://beprepared.com/article.asp?ai=715&

http://www.bargainstobounty.com/category/meijer/ This is a great website for coupon matchups. This is Detroit based, but the sales and coupon deals are generally the same for Ohio also.

Blessings,
Shelly
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Get Home Safe!

Millions of us will be hitting the roads this week to spend the holiday with family so what better time to cover that get home safe bag you have in your trunk!

You DO have a get home safe bag in your trunk, right?

I must confess that stocking my car with survival goods hasn't always been high on my list of priorities.  In truth, it probably didn't even make it close to the list just a decade ago.  Then 7 years ago we moved to the boonies and had 2 babies.  The fear of being broken down on some little one-lane backroad with 2 children under 2 scared me into action and I began keeping my car stocked with necessities.     

I drive a little sedan, so a large kit isn't practical.  There's just enough room in the trunk for a spare tire, a pair of old boots and a metal detector.

What?

Doesn't everyone have a metal detector in their trunk?

Last year, just before winter,  I put together a very compact kit, one that will fit quite well inside a #10 metal can with a tight-fitting plastic lid.  #10 cans are great for this purpose because they're air-tight, moisture resistant and will nestle quite cozily in the pocket above your car's wheel well.   In one #10 can I can fit:

A partial roll of toilet paper, cardboard tube removed.
4 Capri-Sun type juice pouches
A candle and a couple matches sealed in a plastic bag
A bag of trail mix
A small package of peanut butter crackers
A couple pieces of hard candy
A sampler of wet wipes
2-3 small garbage bags

Yes, it's an extremely tight fit, but the essentials are covered: heat, light, water, food.  All the stuff contained in the kit has a good shelf life, and is fairly heat/cold stable.  What's more, these items can do double duty.  The candle can provide enough heat and light to survive, as well as melt some snow for water in the metal can if necessary.  The plastic bags can hold wet clothes as well as provide a water-proof barrier if you need to lie on the ground to work on your car.  See how that works?     

In a sturdy tote bag, I keep a change of seasonal clothes for the entire family including gloves and hats and lastly a couple blankets.  Think thick, warm blankets, not necessarily purdy ones.   They're great in the summer for spontaneous picnics and in winter, they just may save your life.  Roll them up tight and strap them with a belt to conserve space and keep them clean.   Throw in a small bag of salt/kitty litter/sand and a collapsible shovel and you have most of what you need to survive a short-term emergency on the road.  Make sure you check your kit at least once each season, to ensure that your food and drink have survived the temperature fluctuations and to swap out clothes for seasonally-appropriate clothes.

And a word to the wise: use plain, unscented candles in your Get Home Safe kit.  Smelly candles make everything taste funny.  Don't ask me how I know.  Just trust me : )

Naturally, if you're planning an extensive trip, bulk up on your supplies.  Extra water, extra food, road flares, a basic tool kit for on-the-road repairs and maybe even renew that Onstar subscription.  But for local trips, a small kit should provide everything you need to survive.

Is your Get Home Safe bag packed?     




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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where Do You Shop?

Say what you will, shopping is a sport. 

It takes time. 

It takes practice.

Not everyone is good at it.  

Lucky for you, I am and I have some great resources to share with you.  These are just a few of my favorite local places to shop for my preparedness needs. 

Leeners.    Ever wanted to learn to make cheese?  They've got the stuff.  Want to homebrew beer?  They've got that too.  Plus all you need for processing game, canning, bread baking, yogurt culturing and candy making.  The best part: excellent customer service.  Based out of northeastern Ohio

Yutzy's Farm Market.  Yutzy's is a family-run market in the heart of central Ohio's Mennonite community.  They have an incredible selection of cheeses, organic meats and bulk dry goods.  The best prices I've ever found on spices...hands down! 

Lehman's.  OMG.  Honestly, that's about all I can say about Lehman's.  OMG.   Looking for a wood-fired cookstove, a candle lantern, old-fashioned wooden tools or a composting toilet?  Check Lehman's.  Oh, and spend the $5 for the catalog....it will provide days upon days of entertainment. 

Gander Mountain.  Admittedly, this is not one of my favorite stores, but the males in my life think it's the greatest place EVER.  Lots of hunting stuff.  Lots of outdoorsy-rugged-manly stuff.  And a pretty good selection of useful things like cast iron cookware, dehydrators, game processing equipment, etc.

I think it's so important in this economy and in these troubled times to locate and support local businesses like the one's I mentioned.  Not only are you supporting local families, you're also hedging your bet against hard times by developing a knowledge of businesses close to you.  It may come a day that interstate commerce is a thing of the past and knowing where to find goods close-by will be a very important skill.

Where do you shop?   
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Holidays- Prepper Style

I can't believe Thanksgiving is only a week away!  Why is it the older I get the more quickly time flies by?  Anyway, the holidays are nearly upon us and with them, our thoughts invariably turn to gift-giving.  What could be the perfect gift for dear old Aunt Effie?  And for brother Joe and his wife?  What could the children possibly use now that they're away at college? 

There are so many great gift ideas out there, both store-bought and homemade, that are lovely, useful as well as lending themselves to preparing our families and friends.  I'm going to throw out a few of my favorite ideas and then I'd love some feedback.

For Dad or Grandpa-
Homemade liquor -(it's delicious AND medicinal!)
Solar radios
Hand-crank lanterns
Dual-fuel grills or camp stoves
Winter-weather car emergency kits
Fishing pole and the necessary accouterments
Solar battery charger
Training (concealed carry, survival, cooking)

For Mom or Grandma-
A lovely down comforter or beautiful Amish quilt
Homemade spiced honey -(keeps forever!)
Heavy cast-iron cookware
Goat-skin gardening gloves and packs of her favorite seeds
Gift basket of homemade preserves- (include the recipe for next year)
Warm leather slippers
Get-Home Safe kit for her car (mittens, wool socks, candle+matches)
Classes (knitting, sewing, cooking, painting, canning, gardening)


For the Kids, including the Older Kids-
Camping gear, such as a small tent or sleeping bag
Craft kits that teach beginning skills (woodworking, knitting, sewing, etc.)
Flashlights- the kind you shake so you're not replacing batteries daily!
Felted wool mittens, hats and scarves
Pre-paid *emergency only* cell phone
Fun educational books
Lessons and classes (music, martial arts, marksmanship, Boy/Girl Scouts etc.)

Just a few ideas for you!  Christmas and Hanukkah need not be filled with senseless gifts that will be thrown out in January.  With a little thought and creativity, holiday gifts can be enjoyable while at the same time, better preparing us for life.

What's on your list for the holidays this year?



 

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Not What You Have-It's What You Know!

I blog a lot about stocking up on food and necessaries (now!) while prices are low, but admittedly, stocking up isn't the only plan of action one might take when preparing for the unknown.  When winter rolls around and there's free time on hand, my thoughts automatically turn to developing skills.  For the most part, we homesteaders/preppers have an unbroken 3 months of free time that we can devote to brushing up on old skills and learning new ones.  From January 2 until sometime in late March or early April, there are no holidays to plan.  Nothing needs winterized or de-winterized.  No grass to cut.  No flowerbeds to weed.  Just solitude.  And there's no better time to learn something new than when you can apply your undivided attention.

Each year, I try to learn something new.  This year, I've devoted a lot of time to learning knitting, baking sourdough bread and correct methods of pruning trees and berries.  I took my concealed carry training and practiced target shooting.  I've also spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the Bible in an effort to extract new bits of wisdom.  

My plans for this winter include researching medicinal herbs and root cellaring, attempting to make homemade sausage blends and finding a good recipe for sprouted wheat bread.  I'd also like to learn the trick to growing leeks so I don't have to pay $3/bunch for them at the grocery store.  And of course, more knitting.  Knit one.  Perl one.  Knit two.  Perl two.  It gets a bit tedious, but I WILL learn to knit successfully.

Having a full larder and all the necessary accouterments will only get you so far and at some point, what you know (or don't) may be even more important.  Knowing basic skills can be valuable when it comes to bartering, improve your quality of life and let's all just admit it: there's just a little bit of smug satisfaction to be had when we know something the general population doesn't.  Just a little bit :)   So what can you work on this winter?  Can you:

-Start a fire without a lighter?
-Successfully hunt game? 
-Make soap or candles?
-Cook and bake from scratch?
-Plumb or do electrical work?
-Treat an illness with herbs from your garden?
-Repair small engines?

These are just a few examples.  What do you want to learn this winter?


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buy Your Commodities Now!

I got an interesting email from a friend this morning, in the form of a newsletter, that I want to pass on to you.  She's subscribed to an online coupon program that sends out weekly newsletters and this one bothered her.  Here are some excerpts from the "Tuesday Saver":

 "With the holidays upon us, there's good and bad news about deal hunting. First, there will be some good deals and it's a great time to stock up on pantry items, particularly baking items. The bad news is, we're headed into some inflation that's going to cause grocery prices to increase, and some of it pretty dramatically. First, the commodity markets and fuel costs are climbing again.  That means the raw materials to make goods and the costs to transport goods are increasing significantly, and that cost is going to be passed along to the consumer.

The other way we'll see this cost passed along is in yet another decrease in package size.  Two notables are ice cream - now weighing in at 1.5 quarts, down from 1.75 a few months ago, and yet we're still calling it a half-gallon, and peanut butter - down from 18 ounces to 16.3 ounces. So pay close attention to pack sizes because that sweetheart deal might actually be a worse deal that you paid for something just a few months ago because of the pack size changes.

Ultimately, reflecting on my almost twelve years of being a die-hard couponer, I think we're going to see a tough year ahead for savings, so this holiday season should be about stocking up now while you can and making the most of your saving."

This both unnerves me and validates what I've been thinking and seeing at the store for several months.  It's about to get ugly, folks!  Prices are still low, so now is the time to get busy and get that pantry stocked.  Think commodities; wheat, sugar, cooking oil, salt, canned/powdered milk.  The holidays are a great time to stock up on baking goods like white flour, brown sugar, evaporated/condensed milk and baking mixes.  And watch your weekly sales, too!  This week I found canned fruit, condensed soup and chicken/beef broth for $.49 a can.  Throw in a coupon or two and you can walk out with free products.   

But don't stop there!

-Pick up some extra socks and blue jeans as cotton prices are already rising.  If you have small children like I do, it wouldn't hurt to pick up the next size of jeans and shoes. 

-Fill up your gas and kerosene containers (and store them sensibly, please) as there are predictions of $4-5/gal gas in the coming months.

-Silver is always good, but make sure you're dealing with a reputable company.

I don't want to come off as a fear-monger or a conspiracy-theorist, but I'm afraid what we have is perfect storm brewing: high unemployment, record foreclosures and bankruptcy, and a second round of QE.  Throw in the fact that most of the world is upset at us for one reason or another and top it off with a long, cold winter and you have a real mess on your hands.  It could really get ugly, folks.  Stock your pantries and your closets and get ready to hunker down.
In His Service,
Andrea

And PS-The Mister says don't forget to pick up some ammo...desperate people are capable of stupid things!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Prepping On The Cheap

Isn't it amazing how quickly situations can change?  When I started prepping nearly 3 years ago, things were still 'good'.  The stock market hadn't yet crashed.  Food prices were low.  There were no rumors of shortages or hyperinflation.  I was a little worried about the quality of our food, but otherwise, it was good times in Happy-Town.  Fast forward 3 years and now we're on the brink of collapse with joblessness, foreclosures, homelessness and bankruptcies rocketing toward scary, unknown frontiers.  With a major mid-term election only hours away, I feel like I'm always on my toes.  Always watching, listening.  Now that my husband is laid off and commodity prices are ticking upward, resourceful prepping is more important to me than ever.  I'd like to share a few ideas that I find useful for prepping on the cheap and then I'd love to HEAR FROM YOU!   YOU are the lifeblood that's keeping Ohio Preppers Network alive and without you, well, I'm just talking to myself. 

Anywho, I'll be the first to admit that I'd love to sit down and write up an order for a years' supply of food and necessities and order it from one of those wowwy-zowwy preparedness websites, but that simply isn't in the works for me.  I can't afford it, and if I could afford it, I don't know if the frugalist in me would allow it to happen.  There are so many great ways to find necessities free or cheap in your own backyard!  Here are just a couple suggestions.

Freecycle:  If you haven't joined your local Freecycle, what are you waiting for?  It's a wonderful resource for finding what you need and purging what you want to get rid of.  You do have to register to participate, but beyond that, you choose your level of involvement.  Got a pile of old magazines, out-of-date clothes, gadgets or gizmos taking up valuable space?  Freecycle them!  Looking for food-grade 5 gallon buckets, wool blankets or backpacks for bug-out bags?  Post on Freecycle and more than likely, you'll find what you're looking for.  Freecycle is also an invaluable resource for seasonal goods.  Like bales of straw and pumpkins...post for them the day after Halloween and you'll be surprised at the responses.  I've come away with seasonal fruit like pears and Serviceberries, strawberry starts and raspberry canes.  And once in a while, I'm able to bless someone with that desperately-needed item they're looking for.  It's a win-win situation! 

Craigslist:  This is probably a no-brainer, but what a great place to look for gently used goods.  As always, be careful who you talk to.  Craigslist is full of scam artists and cons, but you can find a wide range of prepping necessities online.  From plastic barrels for rain catchment to woodstoves and everything in between, Craigslist is a great place to search before you shell out the money for new items. 

Menards/Ollies:  I've heard great things about Menards, although we aren't blessed with one locally.  From what I understand, there are some amazing deals to be had through their rebate program.  Combined with low prices, the rebate program further reduces your out of pocket and sometimes, the items are even free!  I'm sure Shelly will chime in and give complete details (right, Shelly?)  We have an Ollie's store nearby and if you watch what you're doing, you can come away with some real steals.  Again, Ollie's offers a frequent shoppers card allowing for special discounts and rebates.  Check them out!

Yard sales/Tag sales/Auctions:  These must be a prepper's best friend.  There is simply no better place to find good wool items, camping and outdoor supplies, non-electric appliances, storage units, oil lamps and the like than at yard sales.  Say what you want, but people don't know what they have!  We live in such a wasteful, lazy, convenience-based environment, people see no use for a pressure canner or Grandma's canning jars.  Why use that camp stove when they can simply eat out?  And who wears wool sweaters when you can just turn up the heat?  Well friends, their loss is our gain.  WE see the usefulness in those items and will gladly take them off their hands for a pittance of what they're worth!!!

Bartering:  While not exactly a resource, bartering is a very important skill!  Some of my favorite finds weren't purchases, but bartered goods!  Like an old concrete laundry sink that I use outdoors for cleaning root veggies and dirty children - I traded a trailer full of concrete fill for it.  An old treadle sewing machine that just needs some TLC - a dozen jars of homemade fruit butter, pickles and jam.  When you're bartering, especially with friends and neighbors, you just can't be afraid to ask.  What may be meaningless to you, may be invaluable to them.  And really, can you think of a better time to brush up on your bartering skills than NOW while you don't need to rely on them?          

Grandma's house:  That sounds shameful, but hear me out!  My grandparents survived the Depression and WWII,  a couple economic downturns, the gas shortages of the 70's.  The know how to survive.  They know how to make do when need be.  They know quality goods never go out of style.  I bet Grandpa still has that old cast iron hand-cranked meat grinder he used to process home-raised beef back in the 40's.  And I bet Grandma still has that 1935 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook-the one with recipes that didn't call for pre-made ingredients.  And somewhere in the basement is Great-Grandma Mary's schoolbooks from the 1880's....the ones that really gave you an education.  I'm not suggesting that you rob Grandma blind.  I'm not suggesting that you take items when Grandpa isn't looking.  I'm suggesting that you ask about them.  If your grandparents are anything like my grandparents, they'd love to see you putting to good use something they found helpful in their younger days.

Well, there you go.  Those are my favorite resources for prepping on the cheap.  In the times to come, when you can't just get online and charge what you want,  I think resourcefulness is going to be an important skill set, so you might as well start now.  Now it's your time to share: what are your best tips for prepping on the cheap?             

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Putting Up Pumpkins

Prepping on the cheap is one of my favorite subjects, as is food preservation so here is a post where all my favorite topics collide: putting up pumpkins.  This summer was an excellent summer for curcubits; there's a word you don't get to use everyday, eh?  Curcubits are the family of fruits that include melons, cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, gourds, etc and while melons and cukes won't keep, a well-cured pumpkin or winter squash can store for months on end.  Literally.  Last year I had Butternut squash until the end of March.

With Halloween and Thanksgiving fast approaching, you can find 'decorative' winter squashes and pumpkins for very little money.  While a big carving pumpkin can run upwards of $10, small sugar pumpkins can be had for under a dollar and one small pumpkin can yield 2-3 pies or loaves of bread.  If you're extremely thrifty, like yours truly, you can post on Freecycle on Nov. 1 that you're looking for pumpkins and squash leftover from fall displays and you'll have all the free pumpkins you could ever want! 

Once you have your pumpkins and squash in hand, watcha going to do with it?  I use several different methods of preservation.  First I store fresh squash and pumpkins on a table in the basement.  They generally like warmer temperatures than apples, so a cool basement will serve you well.  Set them up so that air can circulate and check them periodically for rot.  One bad pumpkin spoils the bunch. 

I also love canning pumpkin.  While you can't can pumpkin puree, you can can pumpkin chunks.  Just peel the pumpkin (or squash), chunk it up, blanch it for 2 minutes then jar it, cover with water and process pints for 55 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  Yes, it takes a while, so make sure you have a full canner!  When it's time to use your canned pumpkin, simply drain the pumpkin or squash, mash with a fork and use it like commercial canned pumpkin puree.   Here's a link to the NCHFP for complete instructions. 

Another favorite means of preservation, and also my most guilt-laden, is candied pumpkin.  If you've never had good Mexican pumpkin candy...O.M.G.  Slivers of pumpkin are steeped in a pungent, spicy, brown-sugar rich syrup then dried and rolled in additional sugar.  Candying IS a legitimate form of food preservation, I keep telling myself, but the truth is I'm addicted to this rich, spicy candy!  It's a very simple sweet and the best part....you know exactly what's in this treat! 

If you're thinking about putting up pumpkins, now is the time to get started, while the selection is abundant and the price is low! 

Blessings,
Andrea    

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Got Food Storage?

According to the PTB, we just exited a deflationary recession and things are on the upswing now. 

Hmmm.

I don't feel any better.  Do you? 

I'm not sure where they're getting their information, but it feels like a smack in the face to me personally.  Over the past 6 months I've noticed nothing but increasing prices, especially in the food and fuel departments.  (How convenient that they don't include food and fuel in their statistics.)  It all makes me want to climb up on my soapbox and rant and rave about the Powers That Be (PTB) but you and I both know ranting and raving accomplishes nothing.  And besides, I had to burn my soapbox for heat last winter.

I'm a huge advocate of a year's worth of food storage, as probably are most folk in the prepper community.  I began my food stores as a result of the early-2008 food recalls.  Remember that one?  Killer peppers.  Tainted tomatoes.  Abused beef.  Yeah, that was ugly, but it sure was an eye-opener for me.  I had no clue how fragile our American food system really is.  I'd never heard of the 'just in time' delivery system that major grocers use for supplying food to their customers.  Nor did I know that backroom storage was a thing of the past.  What's on the shelf is all they've got!  Makes you feel all warm and cozy and long for the days of Mayberry and local grocers, doesn't it?  The 2008 recalls completely changed the way I live, shop and feed my family. 

So now, as we see volatility in the market and wheat prices rising due to crop failure, we can expect to see rising costs across the board.  Why?  If corporations can't find cheap wheat, what are they going to do?  First they'll find alternate grains and then they'll pass the cost on to you.  If they can't use wheat, they'll use oat, millet, rice, corn, barley.  And naturally, demand drives up the prices of those grains too.  Corn prices will rise, making it more expensive to feed cattle and poultry, so meat, egg and dairy prices go up too.  You can see where this is going, right?   Wheat was the pebble that started the avalanche, and there's no stopping it once it gets started.  I'm afraid that food prices are going to get out of hand really quickly and I fear for the folks on fixed incomes who will have to choose between food and heat, food and fuel, food and clothes.

For my family and me, food storage isn't an option.  It's a priority.  It's insurance against rising food costs, inflation, deflation, QE, collapse, job loss, sickness, inclement weather, unexpected company.  Looking back, I don't know how we lived and ate before our food storage system was in place, but I can look you straight in the face and say with a clear conscience that we'll never be without food stores again. 

So let me just go ahead and ask....got food storage?  Have you began putting up food for the hard times ahead?  If so, good for you!!!  If not, what are you waiting for?  Remember last November when cans of pumpkin puree were selling for $7 EACH on Ebay the week before Thanksgiving?  I don't think that was a fluke.  I think that's an indicator of things to come, as we see entire crops wiped out by excessive heat/cold/rain/drought.  The time to act is now while food is still abundant and affordable!

Here's a poll for you...........how many of us Buckeye preppers have *some sort* of food storage system in place?  I don't mean the fancy revolving food storage racks, but simply extra food put away for a rainy day?  Would you care to share how you got started and where you're at in your process???   

Don't be shy...be a lighthouse to those who are only beginning the journey! 

In His Service,
Andrea     

     

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Welcome New Members

Welcome are new members:

kd8jnm

new member here from northeast ohio

Welcome our new member by clicking on link below:
http://www.americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=563&t=184&start=390

Tomthetinker

New to this site. No. West Ohio. ??

Welcome our new member by clicking on link below:
http://www.americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=563&t=5813&sid=08fbc

buckeye777

We are trying to take responsibility for the quality of our own food supply. It's very interesting to see so many like minded people! Monsanto shouldn't be dictating my breakfast menu. This will be fun! :D

Welcome our new member by clicking on link below:
http://www.americanpreppersnetwork.net/viewtopic.php?f=563&t=5425&p=51354
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Putting Up Pears

Pear season is finally here in west-central Ohio and I, for one, am thrilled at the prospect.  There's nothing my family enjoys more than home-canned pears; served cold as a side dish or served warm over pound cake with a lovely brandy or vanilla sauce.  Am I making you hungry for pears yet? 

Finding pears is the hardest step, in my opinion.  If you have a mature pear tree available, count your blessings!  If not, you may have to do some hunting.  Sure, you can go to the grocery and buy pears that were picked 4 weeks ago and shipped across the country in a climate controlled box truck.  OR you can do a little leg work and find them locally.  Watch your neighborhood farm stands; this time of the year, you should be able to find pears for under a dollar a pound.  My personal favorite place for finding pears is Freecycle.  Last Thursday I posted that I was looking for pears for canning.  Last Friday I came home with 4-5 bushels of pears.  How's that for a find???

Once you've located your pears, ripening them is the next step.  Most of the pears I picked last Friday were on the greenish side; my choices were green pears or pears rotting on the tree.  I chose green.  To ripen them, I set up a 6 ft table in the basement  and spread out the pears with sheets of newspaper between the layers.  4 days later, a quarter of the pears are already ripe.  You can accomplish the same thing by placing clean, dry pears in brown paper bags or cardboard boxes for a few days.  The outcome is the same; the box/bags/newspapers trap gasses released by the pears and ripen them.  Check them daily, for bad spots or rotten pears and remove them immediately.  One bad pear can spoil them all!  You want pears that are *just* ripe, that yield only slightly to pressure and that are just beginning to smell sweet.  Overly ripe pears turn to mush in the canning process. 

To can your pears, peel, core and slice them, placing them in a lemon-water bath until you're ready to process.  This will keep the pears from turning brown due to oxidation.  Cook the pears in a simple syrup (3 cups sugar + 6 cups water)  for 5 minutes and then ladle into prepared jars.  Pour the hot syrup over the pears, cap them and process them in a water bath for 20 minutes.  You CAN pressure can pears, but I don't recommend it.  They tend to get mushy and turn colors.  Water-bathed pears stay crisp and brilliant white. 

That's all there is to it.  Pears are super simple to preserve.  If you're a novice canner, there are few foods easier to put up than pear slices in a simple syrup...and few things more delicious! You can find complete directions for canning pears in the Ball Blue Book or online at Pick Your Own.  So get out there and find some pears....you'll sure enjoy them this winter!!

In His Service,
Andrea          

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Preparing for End of Life

I'm not sure how to begin this post as end of life is such a taboo topic in American culture.  As Americans, we've created a false, outward society where youth, beauty and health is everything and we're removed from dealing with the ugly, the old, the sickly, the feeble, the dying.  Since we're a major industrialized nation, Americans act as if death is an abstract that doesn't apply to us; after all, modern medicine can take care of everything.  We simply go on like we do everyday and let someone else handle the ugliness, the sickliness, the old and the dying.  But at some point, the ugliness and the sickliness catch up and we're forced to face it head on.

That's where my family is right now. 

We're watching helplessly as my husband's mother makes her way toward the end of her life.  No doctor can help her.  No medicine can cure her.  No amount of rest or nutritious food can reverse the course.  All she has is time;  maybe months if we're blessed and her will persists.  This has been such an unsettling experience for us, watching a youthful, playful grandmother deteriorate in front of our eyes.  And yet, there are so many lessons to be learned.  So much knowledge to be gained.  After all, preparing for death is merely an extension of preparing for life.

Here's what I've learned:

It's up to you to take care of you.  Care for yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.  Kick those bad habits.  Practice your faith.  Find something you love to keep yourself active!  If you don't do it, no one else will. 

Life is too short to worry.   Why worry about the house or the car or the promotion?  Why fret over a disagreement?  All that matters is that we lived and we loved.

Faith matters.  Choose this day whom you will serve.  Practicing one's faith can be such a comfort; both for the departing and for those left behind.

You can't take it with you.  That's a tough one for our culture; to spend a lifetime accruing and then to leave it behind, that's tough!!  I believe you can take 2 things with you; your faith and your relationships, so spend time enjoying them.

The little things count.  Preparing a meal for an infirm might not seem like a big deal, but it can mean the world to someone else.  Pay a visit, make a phone call, send a card in the mail, take a plate of homemade cookies; sometimes the little things mean the most.

You can't prepare for death.  You can make the arrangements, but you can never truly be prepared to lose a loved one.   

Every day counts.  Every.  Day.  There is no time to kill.  Every waking, breathing moment is a moment that we can share. We can rejoice.  We can mourn.  We can praise.  We can fellowship.  We can explore.  We can dance.  We can sing.  We can laugh.  Enjoy everyday.  

Say what you need to say.  With love, say those things that you need to say.  Apologize.  Ask questions.  Make peace.   Make ammends.  Swallow your pride and do what needs done.  You may never have another opportunity so don't put it off. 

Above all, love one another.  That includes Crazy Uncle Eddie and that neighbor who dumps dog poo in your compost pile.  It also includes your pain-in-the-keister sister, the guy at church with bad breath and your nose-picking nephew.  It's hard sometimes and all too often, we let petty differences get in the way.  But in the end, loving one another is all that matters.

In His Service,
Andrea
       

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