Friday, December 26, 2008

First Aid Kits

I have seen folks who have had first aid kits consisted of little more than a box of bandaids and a tube of neosporin. I have seen others that would qualify as a small hospital.
Mine lies somewhere in the middle.
A First Aid Kit (FAK) need not *break the bank*. You can add to it slowly and gradually, similar to your other emergency supplies.

Here are the contents of a basic FAK, I have all this PLUS more items I will not list here.
First Aid Kit Contents

3 drawstring trash bags
5 quart sized ziplock freezer bags
1 box baking soda (unopened, sealed in ziplock bag)
1 bottle white vinegar
1 bottle hydrogen peroxide
1 bottle rubbing alcohol
1 Epi-pen (Dr.'s Rx. Used for immediate treatment of allergic reactions)
1 bottle hydrocodone (Vicoden) 30 pills (Dr.s Rx, strong pain reliever)
1 large bottle aspirin
1 large bottle non-aspirin pain reliever (Tylenol, or store brand)
1 tube Icy-Hot
1 box Benadryl Allergy
1 box Benadryl Cold and Sinus
1 box Tylenol PM
1 box Ex-Lax
1 box Imodium (for diarrhea)
1 tube neosporin
1 tube Benadryl cream
1 bottle iodine
2 bottles Calomine lotion
1 bottle Lubriderm medicated lotion
1 bottle aloe-vera gel for sunburn
1 bottle Poison Ivy extract (homeopathic remedy)
1 bottle Visine
1 bottle Clear eyes
1 bottle Lice shampoo
1 tube Ora-gel
1 bottle Oil of Cloves
1 tube anti-fungal cream
1 hot water bottle
1 ice pack bottle
1 pack air filter masks
4 rolls surgical tape
4 rolls cloth tape
2 large rolls gauze bandage
10 gauze pads (large)
10 gauze pads (med.)
10 gauze pads (small)
Large bag of assorted sized Bandaids (approx. 300)
1 bar soap
2 small packs tissue
1 rectal thermometer
1 oral thermometer
3 pairs of tweezers
1 pocket mask (for administrating mouth to mouth)
1 bag cotton balls
10 adhesive removal pads
25 alcohol pads
1 candle
1 lighter
1 pack of matches (in ziplock w/lighter and candle)
1 EENT light (you know, the little light the doc uses to look in your ears and nose, etc.)

Lets do this by sections:

3 drawstring trash bags
5 quart sized ziplock freezer bags
1 box baking soda (unopened, sealed in ziplock bag)
1 bottle white vinegar

You probably have all those items already. The trash bags are good for myriad purposes. Improvised rain poncho, ice pack, to bind up a wound, dispose of contaminated bandages, etc.
The Ziplock bags can be used for disposal of biological wastes, to take a urine or stool sample to a doctor, to put a severed finger or toe in until you can get to the doctor, to put a knocked out tooth in (with a bit of milk) so you can rush to the dentist (Believe it or not, if that is done and you can get to the dentist within an hour, they may be able to re-implant your tooth!), you can also use the bags to make a hot water bottle or an ice pack, to blend ingredients for a poultice, etc.
Baking soda can be used for bathing to lessen the itching of various rashes and conditions, mixed with a bit of water into a paste to put on a bee-sting, a spoonful in a glass of water will relieve heartburn or to add salt back into the system if severely dehydrated.
Vinegar takes the *burn* out of sunburn, can be used to wash wounds, will lessen diarhhea whe you add a couple spoonfuls to a glass of water, will detach leeches and some other *clingy* vermin such as chiggers.

1 bottle hydrogen peroxide
1 bottle rubbing alcohol

These two items should be in EVERY FAK.
Peroxide will wash out wounds, sterilize (to an extent) tweezers, needles, etc.
Alcohol, again--wound treatment, sterilization of implements, rub downs to bring down fevers, etc.

1 Epi-pen (Dr.'s Rx. Used for immediate treatment of allergic reactions)
1 bottle hydrocodone (Vicoden) 30 pills (Dr.s Rx, strong pain reliever)

These two items can only be obtained with a Doctors prescription.
I have the Epi-Pen as a few members of my family are allergic to bee stings. If I do not use it within a years time, I take the unused unit back to my doctor and obtain a new prescription. DO NOT RELY ON OUT-OF-DATE MEDICATIONS! They can and will kill you in an emergency situation.
Same for the hydrocodone. I have exactly 30 pills. In the bottle is a piece of paper and a small pen is attached to the bottle. If I need to take this medication (or anyone else in my household), I write down the day, time and reason. Again, at the end of one year, I take the bottle back to my doctor and get a new prescription.

1 large bottle aspirin
1 large bottle non-aspirin pain reliever (Tylenol, or store brand)
1 tube Icy-Hot
1 box Benadryl Allergy
1 box Benadryl Cold and Sinus
1 box Tylenol PM
1 box Ex-Lax
1 box Imodium (for diarrhea)
1 tube neosporin
1 tube Benadryl cream
1 bottle iodine
1 bottle Visine
1 bottle Clear eyes
1 bottle Lice shampoo
1 tube Ora-gel
1 bottle Oil of Cloves
1 tube anti-fungal cream
2 bottles Calomine lotion
1 bottle Lubriderm medicated lotion
1 bottle aloe-vera gel for sunburn
1 bottle Poison Ivy extract (homeopathic remedy)

Here's where it gets pricey! All of these are OTC (over the counter, available without a prescription) Some (such as the aloe-vera gel) need to be rotated pretty regularly (every 6 months to a year). But if you buy only one of item each week or every two weeks, it isn't so bad on the wallet.
The items are self-explanatory. In an emergency situation, especially a SHTF one, all could be quite useful for the normal day-to-day ills of your household.

1 hot water bottle
1 ice pack bottle
1 pack air filter masks
4 rolls surgical tape
4 rolls cloth tape
2 large rolls gauze bandage
10 gauze pads (large)
10 gauze pads (med.)
10 gauze pads (small)
Large bag of assorted sized Bandaids (approx. 300)
1 bar soap
2 small packs tissue
1 rectal thermometer
1 oral thermometer
3 pairs of tweezers
1 pocket mask (for administrating mouth to mouth)
1 bag cotton balls
10 adhesive removal pads
25 alcohol pads
1 candle
1 lighter
1 pack of matches (in ziplock w/lighter and candle)
1 EENT light (you know, the little light the doc uses to look in your ears and nose, etc.)

Some of this stuff is pricey, some not so much.
Most of this is for physical repairs, removing splinters, dressing wounds, etc.
Again, one item bought at regular intervals and added to your FAK is a great way to spread out the cost.

I keep my primary FAK in a large woven picnic basket.
You may want to use a small suitcase or a gym bag. Whatever works for you is fine. Try to keep it as organized as possible and always remember to keep a pad of paper and a pen or pencil.
Here's mine, all packed and ready to go...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frugal Yule

What are you doing for Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or whatever Winter holiday you celebrate?
Do your children watch commercials and fill up letters to Santa with requests for the latest plastic whatever to be under the tree? Are you dreaming of an H.D. T.V. and a Blu-Ray player or other such electronic goodie? Is your husband or wife hinting for that fashionable name brand suit or dress or shoes or handbag to be neatly wrapped and festively beribboned?

While it might be too late for you this year, think ahead to next year.
This year I am giving to my loved ones:
Home-made fleece pajamas and home-made bedroom slippers plus a matching fleece throw for a daughter that always complains of the cold. I included in her package a store bought mug and several packages of home-made cocoa mix. The perfect "cold Winter's night" care package!

For one son, a souvenir shot glass, plus a home-made shelf to display his shot glass collection on and a home-made terrycloth bathrobe.
For another son, home made fleece covered pillows for his bed, a tee shirt he wanted and an IOU coupon for a *Mom made* dinner with all his favorite foods. (He'll cash it in before New Years, I'm sure!)
For the man in my life; a home made braided rug for his bedside, a ring, a pewter goblet, a wooden chest and a hand-made quilt (I made).
For many friends and family I made home-made cookies or specialty bread, scarves from fabric remnants, throws made from fleece bought at the after Christmas sales. Hats , gloves and scarves bought in July for 80% off. Several purses bought in February. Bath gift sets and cologne sets bought at after Christmas sales for 75% off and stored (carefully) for Christmas 2008. Home made bath salts and bath oils in pretty baskets lined with home-made back scrubbers (made from terry cloth).

I added it up...are you ready?
My total, my TOTAL, including shipping, wrapping paper, fabric...everything except my time (which I freely give)
That's right Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars.
Gifts for 14 people total.

I do not dread after Christmas bills, as I have none. I use no credit cards (I don't have any!).
I buy a little something or make a little something every month. A couple hours a month, or a weekends fun project. Some things require a bit more effort than others, but all the projects I have mentioned above are easy enough for everyone to accomplish.

I want you to do something...not for me, but for yourself.
Look around your living room after the celebrations. Look at the discarded wrapping paper and jumbled boxes, everything shredded and laying about. Look at the gifts.
Will the gifts profit you in any way? Will they keep you or a member of your family warm or fed or educate them or teach them a skill? If it is a *luxury item*, will you still be paying for it in a month? Three months? Six months? Next Christmas?
Think about this when you see those after Christmas sales. Clear out a closet or a place in your attic or basement and put Christmas purchases there. Make a list and buy one or two gifts a month. Make a few gifts here and there. Cross names off your list as you get your gifts.

Next Winter, as you sit there basking in the glow of the tree lights or fireplace or candles....look around again. If you have followed these suggestions, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your kids are playing with toys that are paid for, your relatives will be receiving gifts made by your own efforts and you will not dread the bills coming like a blizzard in January.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rotate, People, ROTATE!

No, don't start spinning in your desk chairs...rotate your food supplies!
This past week, I happened to talk to someone who has been a *prepper* for her entire life. She is LDS (Mormon) and was born and raised in the church. Food storage is second nature to her.
But here is what she asked me:
"How can I tell if my wheat is still good?" I looked at her confused; "What do mean *still good*?", I asked
"Well, some of the wheat in those buckets must be 30 years it still good?"


Okay, here's the deal:
Your food storage is not just there to look good and make you feel better about some impending Armageddon, that food is to sustain you through rough times AND TO EAT NOW!
Yes, eat your food storage NOW.
I am not suggesting you go a bizarre binge, wolfing down beans, rice and wheat in reckless abandon.
No, I want you to include your food storage in with your regular diet.
It does you little good to have a half ton of wheat in storage if you do not know how to prepare it, grind it and use it in your daily diet.
Start using it NOW.
I prefer getting my long term supplies in #10 cans. Some people prefer 5 gallon buckets.
Either one is easy to move around and use. Plastic lids are easily found that fit the #10 cans and the 5 gallon buckets have resealable lids.
I use one #10 can of wheat every two weeks and about the same for my beans. I use my vegetables less often.

One reason to use your food storage now is to get your digestive system used to such a diet. If all you had was your food storage, how would you adjust to that? Would it cause you ills such as constipation/diarrhea/nausea/etc. ? Better to find out before it is too late to make adjustments in what you store.
I used to store TVP (texturized vegetable protein). I hung on to it for quite some time before I tried it. And before I tried it, I bought more and more until I was quite satisfied I had enough to last me a year. Then I tried making chili with TVP, lentils and pinto beans. It was delicious! BUT, the TVP did alarming things to my digestive system! Not to go into any detail here, but I was in the bathroom for 3 days straight. Obviously, TVP is NOT a good choice for me, unfortunately. (I ended up trading out my TVP for dried fruits and nuts)

Another reason is some elements of your food storage may be cheaper than what is in the grocery store. Compare how much your #10 can of wheat (after being ground into flour) is compared to the equivalent in whole wheat flour at your local grocers (a pricey item).

Lastly, some things have longer shelf lives than others. Your wheat may be good for 20 years, but your cans of dehydrated peaches may only be good for 5. LOOK at your labels, READ those labels.

When you open a can or bucket out of your food storage, replace it as soon as possible. Those prices aren't going anywhere but up!
Make sure you keep a good record of your food storage supplies. Keep a notebook. You should record the food item, size of container, when it was purchased, date of canning, and date when it is good til. (example: Wheat, #10 can, 8/20/2008, canned 7/10/08, exp. 7/10/2028)

Now, suppose like my friend you have some food storage you aren't quite sure of.
To check wheat, open the container, take out a couple of tablespoons, place on a paper towel on a plate, sprinkle with water. You should sprinkle with water every day for 3 days, keep the wheat berries moist, but not wet/soaked. The seeds should sprout! In fact, any seed type food storage should sprout if you do this. (Wheat, beans, lentils, etc.) Unfortunately, this method will not work on all your food storage, that is why rotating your food storage supplies is so important.

If the wheat or other seed does not sprout, feed it to the chickens or pigs. It may have enough nutritional value to pack on a few more pounds for the livestock, if nothing else.

ALL canned goods should be rotated. Use your oldest supplies first, and buy new to put at the back of the pantry.
Many people (myself included) take advantage of grocery sales to add to their food storage, buying cases of vegetables, fruits, etc. You MUST rotate this food stuffs!
Any bulging cans should be discarded. Any cans that are rusted, leaking, feel moist or sticky should be discarded. Bad food can kill you.

So, take a minute or 30 minutes to look through your pantry tomorrow. Rearranging the shelves will give you a feeling of accomplishment!
Remember, "Eat what you store, store what you eat."
And rotate!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

20 Acres, part deux...

If you remember, I started on a hypothetical situation:

You own 20 acres of fairly okay land in Pennsylvania or Ohio for your homestead. You have 5 acres in gardens and orchards, your plants and trees picked out with an eye to the climate and suitability.
So, you have 15 acres to use for livestock.....snip.........
Now, take those 15 acres, fence 5 acres for your pasture and 5 acres for a hayfield. (We'll talk about the last 5 acres in a later post)

The last five acres...
2 acres in wheat suitable for your area
1 acre in corn (again, suitable for your area)
1 acre mixed in pumpkins, cabbages, and various squashes
1 acre in buckwheat (or other grains)

Here's the reasoning...
The two acres in wheat is for your families use. Two acres, if properly cultivated will provide ample supplies of wheat for your families needs with a bit left over to mix into the farm animals feed.
One acre in corn, again for your families needs and for livestock feed.
One acre mixed in pumpkins, cabbages and various squashes is, again, for your use AND livestock use. Cattle, chickens, pigs, etc. thrive on pumpkins, cabbages and such. High sugar levels give them the caloric intake to gain weight, produce more (milk & eggs) and withstand colder temperatures in winter. Also, all of those vegetables store easily and well!

One acre in buckwheat (or other grains suitable for your area). Variety is the spice of life!

Buckwheat pancakes, bannock, and kasha are a welcome respite in your diet. Nutritionally, buckwheat is a good choice as it balances the sugars in your body and can help delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. Also, mixing in buckwheat with animal feed also helps your livestock stay healthier.
Other grains to consider, sunflowers, quinoa, amaranth, oats and barley. If it were legal to grow hemp for the seed, I would highly recommend that.

Sunflowers can be grown for their seed which have a high fat content and can be used to make sunflower seed oil. Yes, sunflowers will grow in colder climes, some of the very best come from Siberia! Sunflower seeds added to animal rations will *up* the fat and calories in their diet--good for most critters.

Oats are always a good choice.Oat protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein, which has been shown by the World Health Organization to be equal to meat, milk, and egg protein. The protein content of the hull-less oat kernel (groat) ranges from 12–24%, the highest among cereals.

According to a recent study, eating whole grain barley can regulate blood sugar for up to 10 hrs after consumption compared to white or even whole-grain wheat, which has a similar glycemic index.

An additional barley product is the straw. It is placed in mesh bags and floated in fish ponds or water gardens to help reduce algal growth without harming the plants or animals in the habitat. .

Amaranth seeds, like buckwheat and quinoa, contain protein that is unusually complete for plant sources.
Amaranthus species are reported to have a 30% higher protein value than other cereals, such as rice, wheat flour, oats and rye


In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.

You could even divide that last acre and grow two to four different *other* grains on it.

Some of these crops may require a bit of searching to find seed stocks and even more searching to learn the cultivation techniques to get the best crop, but it will be well worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Long time between posts

Reason for the long hiatus was Hurricane Ike, various work related things and I lost my blasted account info

Hurricane Ike was interesting. I watched with interest the weather reports and warnings leading up to it. I saw people nail plywood up to their windows and dash out of town. And I saw people that really didn't seem to care.
Well, Hurricane Ike blew into town and left it powerless.
Actually, left a damn huge area of South East Texas powerless.

So, we were here without power, no water (the surge contaminated our treatment plant) and limited police protection.
Never fear...I was prepared (of course!)
Approximately 150 gallons of water, properly stored. (2 liter bottles, rinsed out with scalding water, filled with cool water and 5 drops of bleach in each).
BBQ grill and 4 bags of charcoal and 2 bottles of charcoal lighter.
Food, much of it freeze dried or dry canned, plus canned meats.
My nice new shotgun and plenty of ammo.

First things first, I turned off or unplugged all light switches, radios, t.v.s, anything electric.
Then I turned off all the breakers. (More about that later)
Then we proceeded to remove all limbs and branches from the lines behind the house and clean all debris out of the yard.
Then we began on the neighbors yard (he evacuated).
I put a local radio station on to keep track of *official announcements* and whatnot.
Fired up the grill, had a lunch of chicken fajita's.
Dinner that night was hamburgers.
We had a good dinner EVERY night. Good lunches, too.(Pork bbq, steak and baked potatos, ribs, beef stew...some of our menu)
I even managed to bake bread on the grill.
Because the water was bad, even my dogs got bottled water.
I did run out of dog food, but made dog food for the assorted critters that they seemed to like.
The first grocery store to reopen was Mercados (a local hispanic grocery)
I had some cash (memo to self, need to have more cash stashed for emergencies)
Every day I would walk over (it is less than a mile away) and buy just enough for the meal that night. Sort of European style!
We got our power back on the fifth day.
Finding a working ATM or a gas station was almost impossible.The radio was taking calls from people and someone would call in with a breathless report that such-and-such gas station was open...within 5 minutes there would be a line 2 miles long.
So, I walked as much as possible to conserve fuel.
When I did find an open gas station, I got fueled up and went home and didn't tell a soul about it.
I figured I'd let someone else think they discovered that little gem.
The radio reported SEVERAL house fires due to the power coming back on and the sudden power surge overloaded circuits.
Generators caused several fires as well. One caused the death of a 19 year old girl. She and her boyfriend had bought one, it was dark by the time they decided to fill it and get it going. Because of a bit of rain, they decided to take it into their house to fill it. As the boyfriend started to fill the generator tank, they decided it was too dark in the house to do so safely. So, the girl lit a candle. The flash fire killed her, she was DOA at a local hospital. The young man has severe burns, but will recover.
I found that I went into some sort of *hyper-vigilant* state where I could not sleep over 2 hours at a time. I wasn't tired through all of it, though. When everything was mostly over, I slept a full 8 hours without trouble.

When the power came back on, I saw the neighbors lights go on, so I turned on the main breakers and then each individual breaker, one at a time.
Yeah, I am that cautious.

When all was said and done, I had gone through:
3 bags of charcoal, 1 and a half bottles of lighter.
100 gallons of water.
8 pounds of flour (for bread, flatbread and tortillas)
10 emergency candles.
8 *C* batteries (for the radio)
1 roll of Rolaids.(I get heartburn and usually combat it with a small glass of milk at bedtime, no milk, so I relied on Rolaids)

The other things I noticed;
Despite the fancy cars in my area and the nice houses and the women with the *big hair*, this area of Texas came across as a Third World country during the days after Ike. Very thin veneer of civilization glossing over the whole mess. There were more reports of neighbors robbing neighbors than of neighbors helping neighbors. People turned all their pets out in the streets to fend for themselves. Some people took the opportunity to settle old scores. When FEMA did show up, the lines were 3 to 4 HOURS long to get some water and ice. Fights broke out as people tried to cut in line. Some people got in line EVEN THOUGH THEY DID NOT NEED THE SUPPLIES!
I constantly heard cries of "FEMA needs to do this or FEMA needs to do that", or "The government KNEW this was coming, why didn't they prepare better?"
Everyone that lives in this area, everyone who watched the news, listened to a radio, picked up a paper or talked to another human being in the entire country KNEW Ike was coming and it was going to be bad!
Why didn't people in the areas about to be hit prepare themselves?
My first answers as to why they didn't: Laziness, *welfare mentality*, conditioned response due to being raised by a *nanny state*.

Here's something to think about...I drove past that line of cars that were waiting for FEMA supplies...what I saw in line...Loads of fancy SUVs, sweet little BMWs, newer Cadillacs, gorgeous new don't DARE tell me these people cannot afford to put back some water and food for emergencies.
You know who I did NOT see in line?
Damn few Mexicans or Hispanics, for the most part. No members of the large Vietnamese community we have here were in that line, either. The faces I saw were about 70% black, 25% white and 5% other (if you live in Texas, you know what I just can't identify a few folks here). The 5% looked probably Hispanic, but most of them were loaded up in the same vehicles as blacks or whites.
The Hispanic community and the Vietnamese community took care of their own for the most part.

All in all, I was disgusted with the *gimme* mentality of the majority of people that I encountered...and am still running into.

So...I have replenished my water storage, bought a couple bags of charcoal and tucked it away in the tool shed and cleaned up most of the damage done during the storm. I view my experiences as lessons learned about the practical and about the nature of people.

What storm supplies should YOU have?
You need different things in different geographic areas.
If I were in Montana instead of Texas, I would put more emphasis on supplies to keep me warm.
Extra blankets, battery operated hand and foot warmers with mucho extra batteries. Hats, gloves, etc would all be major components of my emergency *bug in* kit.
Of course, water is my first priority--always!
If you do not have a wood stove, look into emergency kerosene heaters (some of which you can cook on) to add to your emergency supplies.
So, in colder climes, first priority--water, followed very closely by warmth, then food. I am assuming you already have shelter. If you do not, invest in a tent. Not a China-Mart cheapie, a decent tent that will actually withstand your local weather variables.

I will be doing, at the very least, a weekly post from here on out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just watching and thinking...

On the news recently we have all seen the news about the housing market ills, bank closings, oil prices, rumblings of increased hostilities at various spots around the globe and the possibilities (probabilities?) of violence at bothe the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Are you watching? Are you listening?

I am not a a paranoid nut...I am a prepared paranoid nut!
Maybe this is the OCD for our age.
Instead of tsk-tsking and wringing their hands, preparedness *nuts*, aka *survivalists*, stock up on a little more rice or beans or lay in some water supplies or extra ammo. Keeps us calm and above the undertow of panic that is dragging so many others down.

Do I worry about going hungry?
Do I worry about being cold?
Unable to defend myself?

I don't worry. Simple as that.

I see the same news reports as everyone else. I hear the talking heads on t.v. freaking out about oil prices and violence and war and health care costs, etc., etc., world without end, amen.
I simple don't worry about it because I am aware.

I am aware of everything that is going on globally, nationally and locally. Because I AM aware, I have taken steps to make sure I am able to have survivability, whether it be in my home or on the road.
If need be, I can grab one bag out of my closet, go out the door and have everything I need to survive. Without a vehicle, without a roof over my head. Just that one bag.
Some people call it a Bug Out Bag (BOB).
Some survivalist types get elaborate ones with all the bells and whistles, but I prefer a simple one with the basics I need.
You can use a gym bag or even make one with no bag at all!
You may never need it, but it is a good thing to have.
If each of those people evacuated from Katrina had a simple BOB, life would have been easier (and safer) for all.
You can make one, a very simple one, with items you have in your home right now, for the most part.

Here you go:
Simple BOB
One gym-type bag.
One blanket (thin cotton or wool or one of those *space blankets* if you have one)
Small tarp (8 x 8 foot will do)
50 foot of rope (thin nylon or even cotton clothesline if that's all you have)
One folding knife (make it a sharp one)
One lighter (make sure it is full of fluid)
1 manual can opener (or a P-38 for you military types)
10 aspirin in a small ziplock bag
10 Pepto-Bismal Tablets (put in ziplock with aspirin)
10 Tylenol (in that ziplock!)
10 Granola or Protein Bars (in different large-1 gallon ziplock bag)
6 packets instant cocoa (in with granola bars)
6 packets instant drink mix (in the big ziplock, of course!)
10 dry instant soup packets (in same gallon ziplock..ramen is not a good choice, lipton is)
3 bottles of water, sealed inside a new ziplock bag
1 small flashlight with extra batteries (what the hell, seal it in a ziplock, too)

You can add to this if you wish, but that's your basics. You have food, water, warmth, shelter (the tarp and rope) and a signaling device.

Now, you need to, every three months, go through the bag and replace the food and water and check the flashlight batteries.
This is a minimal, I repeat, MINIMAL bug out bag.
Mine has more than this as I have a firearm (ammo!). I also have a firestarter kit in case I have to bug out to a wilderness area. And about 6 more pounds of other stuff.

But in a Katrina situation, this bag, as I just detailed, and this bag alone could be the difference between life and death for you.
I know I will be raked over the coals by those that will pipe up saying "but they should have that 285 buck camping water filter", or "what about that collaspible camp stove with the rain guard?"
This is about a very minimal basic BOB for the survival novice.

Now, quit worrying and put together this simple bug out bag. You may never need it, but at least you don't have to worry about "what if" anymore!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Livestock Breeds

I have thought a lot about the issue of livestock breeds for when I get on my homestead.
The majority of beef cattle raised in this country are Angus or a mix with a lot of Angus in it. The majority of the dairy cattle utilized in the USA are Holstein.
What's wrong with this picture?
Angus and Holstein are specialized breeds.
Angus gains muscle (meat) earlier and faster than many other breeds when given optimal feed.
Holstein gives milk with a known average of butterfat when given optimal feed.
Both have veterinary problems and concerns peculiar to the breed.
Holsteins, in particular have a tendency to foot problems (foot rot) when in hot, humid regions.
Holsteins, because of being bred for milk production with emphasis on udder size, can also develop mastitis if not *milked out* properly.
Angus have to have shelter in cold climates and are a *water needy* breed in hot, dry climates.
Look at commercially raised turkeys.
They are bred to have the large and succulent breasts we all want to carve at the Thanksgiving Dinner. The price of that breeding?
They have to artificially inseminate the turkey hens because the poor birds can no longer naturally breed.
Look at the meats in the supermarket. All come from commercial breeds. They are housed in little cages or stalls and artificially bred and fed to have those qualities that we, as Americans, have come to value and expect on our tables.
No, this is not some PETA-style rant about animal cruelty.
This a rant about the dangers and ills of specialization in livestock.
Lets do a hypothetical scenario:
You own 20 acres of fairly okay land in Pennsylvania or Ohio for your homestead. You have 5 acres in gardens and orchards, your plants and trees picked out with an eye to the climate and suitability.
So, you have 15 acres to use for livestock.
Lets say you have 3 children and a spouse. You want milk for drinking, to make butter and cheese. You hope to have enough milk to help fatten that pig you dropped into a pigsty you built next to the gardens. With the high gas prices, you are nervous about using a tractor to do plowing and/or other heavy chores. You want beef to eat as well.
You look at the local livestock market and what you see are raw boned Holsteins, and they just don't look like their beef would be all that appetizing.
Take a look at the pictures at the top of this post.(View more at
Milking Devons, a rare breed that is dying out because of their lack of commercial viability. They can be used for milk, beef and oxen. The Pilgrims brought them from England. They are very well suited to New England, the mid-Atlantic states, the Ohio River Valley, basically, from the North East USA out to the Mississippi and down to the Carolinas.
They used to be common. But no more.
They are more expensive, but if you get a good cow and can get her bred by a Milking Devon bull, you will have a good start. They will be worth their weight in gold in future years.
Devons are healthy and rarely need the veterinary intervention that the more *commercial* breeds need. The milk is rich and high in butterfat, the meat well-marbled and tasty. Devon oxen teams are strong and smart and learn quickly. It takes skill to train a team, but it is a highly rewarding endeavor that will have a long term pay-off. If gas supplies dry up, while others are trudging to market, you'll be making the trip in an ox drawn cart. Instead of watching your fields go to seed or lie unplowed into summer, you'll have the advantage of having animals that are able to plow and harvest with the right equipment. Old ways will be the ONLY ways to succeed in the future, I firmly believe.

Other cattle breeds suitable for multi-purpose are:
Highland (especially good for mountainous areas and very cold climates)
Irish Dexter (the itty bitty cattle!)
Watusi-Ankole (African cattle suitable for the Southwest region of the country)
Now, take those 15 acres, fence 5 acres for your pasture and 5 acres for a hayfield. (We'll talk about the last 5 acres in a later post)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cooking With Preps: Part One

Now, most survivalists proclaim the "stock what you eat, eat what you stock" philosophy. And most of them stock exhaustive quantities of dried wheat, rice and beans. Rice and beans, most people know how to cook them and with the addition of spices, you have a nice meal.
But whole wheat, also known as wheat berries?
Not so much.
Now, you can protest and say you will grind all your wheat into flour and make bread or whatever, but what if you are caught in a situation where you have no means to grind it?
I have prepared wheat berries--still do--and enjoy them very much. Great taste, good nutrition and easy!
Here's some ideas:

Basic Cooked Wheat Berries

1 C wheat berries 2 1/2 C water, juice or broth

You can soak the wheat 12 hours (overnight) in 2 C water, if you like. This is not strictly necessary, but it will cut down on cooking time.

Stovetop: Combine water and wheat in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed and grain is soft, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Pressure Cooker: Lower the amount of liquid to 2 cups. Combine water and wheat in a pressure cooker and seal. Cook at 15 pounds for 15 minutes, according to the instructions that came with your pressure cooker.

Slow Cooker: Combine water and wheat in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Breakfast Wheat Berries

Cooking in the slow cooker is a great way to have an easy and healthy hot breakfast in the mornings. Just put the wheat berries in the slow cooker the night before, with your choice of dried fruit. Some steel-cut oats, if you have them, would be nice. You could use old-fashioned rolled oats, too, and cracked wheat if you have any on hand. (We'll talk about how to make that in a later post.) Throw in some spices and salt (cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg would all be good.) Cook the whole thing in water or fruit juice (don't forget to add enough liquid to cook the oats, too.)

If you prefer your dried cranberries or raisins or apricots to be chewier, stir them into the cereal just before serving. Add sugar and milk in the bowl.

Thermos Wheat Berries

If you have a good Thermos, you can put one cup wheat berries and 2 1/2 cups boiling water (or boiling water or boiling juice) in the Thermos, put the cap on tightly and eight hours later you have a cooked meal! This also works for rice and oats, so you can make a meal on the go or while camping with little effort. Some people have told me it works for beans as well, but I haven't yet tried that!

Cracked Wheat and Bulghur

If you leave on the bran (outer covering of the wheat), and chop or crunch the wheat up in a blender or with a couple of rocks, if need be, you'll have cracked wheat. Cracked wheat cooks much faster but -of course- has the same nutrition as it's whole counterpart.

If you crack up your wheat as above, then steam it, then toast it until dry, you have bulghur. Cooks fast( as it has been precooked with the steaming) and has a toasty, yummy taste! I have the tendency to put a dab (just the tiniest bit!) of sesame or peanut oil in the pan while I toast it to give it an even nuttier flavor.

Bulghur is a staple in Mediterranean cooking and is served as a side to meat. You can add herbs, vegetables, etc to enhance the flavor. Bulghur is also an integral component in making kibbeh, a delightful lamb dish that makes me drool just thinking of it!

Terrific Kibbeh recipes for those that haven't had it yet...

Stuffed Kibbeh (Kibbeh Mahshi)
From Mezze: Delicious Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek Recipes (Canada, UK), by Rosamond Man.

These are the ultimate in kibbeh — long, thin, crisp shells filled with sweet, sweet pine nuts. Wet your hands thoroughly both to make the shells and to stuff them, patching up any cracks with your thumb — again constantly dipped in cold water.


225 g (8 oz) bulghur (cracked wheat)
450 g (1 lb) lamb, minced and well pounded
1 large onion, skinned and grated
Maldon or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
about 5 ml (I tsp) ground cinnamon
50 to 75 g (2 to 3 oz) pine nuts
olive oil, for frying


Soak the burghul in cold water for 10 minutes, then squeeze out, and mix with the meat, onion and seasonings. Pound until thoroughly pasty, then with both hands wet take a small lump of meat, a little less than a medium-sized egg, and shape it around your middle or forefinger to an even thickness all over, wetting the shell if necessary to close up any cracks. Drop about 5 ml (1 tsp) of pine nuts into each shell, closing up the ends in a smooth oval shape.

Heat a good 5 cm (2 inches) oil in a deep pan until nearly smoking, then carefully roll in two or three shells and fry for about 5 minutes, until browned and crisp all over. Do the cooking in small batches, until you get deft at it — if there are too many in the pan, they can stick together and then crack. Drain thoroughly and serve hot or cold with yogurt, tahina salad, and vegetable salads.

Yield: Serves 5 to 6

So, that plain old wheat sitting in those dusty buckets in your prep larder contain a world of delights!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Major Things To Take Care Of

I wonder, as I read blogs and forums, about those "survivalist" types that have tons of dried foods, thousands of rounds of ammo and water filters and tools stored away for any upcoming apocalyptic event, what have they forgotten?
Recent events in my own life brought this to the forefront...
I had a dental abscess two years ago that traveled to my heart and almost killed me.
Major antibiotics for an extended period of time finally brought me back from the edge, but the doctors told me I HAD to have my teeth removed to forestall a recurrence of the situation.

Being rather poverty stricken at that time, I could not get the dental surgery done. Last month, I had my last twenty teeth removed and got dentures. While recovering, I watched an account on an educational show about an ancient Egyptian tomb that was excavated. The mummy was of some female royal personage. They decided to examine the mummy to determine cause of death.
Turned out, it was an abscessed tooth.
This mummy was once a member of the ruling royal family. She had storehouses of grain and flocks and orchards at her disposal. Slaves fanned her brow, washed her clothing, cleaned her home and waited on her hand and foot. Soldiers protected her at the risk of their own lives and priests prayed and sacrificed for her.
All for naught, because of one infected tooth.
The doctors and archaeologists examining the mummy talked long about how painful her death must have been.
I felt for the long dead lady.
But I also felt a wondering about how many of the *preppers* out there have overlooked significant details in their preparations.

I no longer have to concern myself with an abscess tooth killing me. I knew I had bad teeth and was, thankfully, able to get something done about it.
But if TSHTF (The Shit Hits The Fan in survivalist acronym language), how many survivalists, huddled in their bunkers are prepared for such a thing?
Current antibiotics have limited shelf lives. Some may even turn deadly during extended storage.
Look, if you have bad teeth and you are hanging on to them due to vanity, lose the fantasy and take some of your money to a dentist and get them pulled out. Get an inexpensive set of dentures, wait until your mouth has healed well (about 6 months to one year) and get better dentures or even implant-type permanent dentures. Save your cheap dentures for spares.
In fact, two or three spare sets may be advisable. (TSHTF, I doubt you will be able to scoot down to a local dental lab for replacements)
Remember spare eyeglasses, too, if you wear them. You can buy spare pairs of eyeglasses very cheaply (20 bucks a pair!) online.

Let's address your appendix while we are at it. Still have yours? What would happen if you had appendicitis? No doctor, no hospital. Going to have a a fellow survivalist read instructions from a medical textbook so they can figure it out?
Yeah, scary thought.
I have recently read where some folks are having their appendix removed as an elective procedure. Smart folks.

As soon as you can afford it, go to a doctor and request a full physical. Pay close attention to what the doctor tells you to do, be it losing weight, gaining weight, lowering your cholesterol, lowering your blood sugar, whatever. Write it down and work on it.
And ASK your doctor about your appendix, your tonsils, bad teeth and any other conditions or situations that may imperil your life in a no doctor available situation.
You can tell him you are thinking of joining the Peace Corps and will probably far from a competent medical facility for two years and you just want to make sure there is nothing that may cause you distress in said situation.
Get everything done that you can as soon as you reasonably can.
Put off getting that new Mossberg SPX and pay for the dental work.
Forget the Unimog for right now and get your appendix out during your vacation.
Skimp on your next wheat order and get a few spare pairs of glasses.

A full larder and scads of ammo will do you little good if you die of a simple problem that could have been treated NOW.
Remember the mummy, entombed with her riches...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So here I am

Decided, since life is changing by leaps and bounds, to start a blog. I intend to document, in a way, the spiraling down of civilization and modern life as I know it, and my efforts in preparation for a future that seems uncertain at best.

I am, by current definitions, a *survivalist*, a *gun nut* and a *libertarian*. Some people sling these labels around with derision, as if they were insults. I embrace them proudly. My larder, while not bulging with provisions, is ample and sufficient for my current situation. I could survive for approximately six months on the supplies I have without ill effect. I do need certain items to do this comfortably and with ease, but I have observed that far too many people tightly grasp the ease and comfort factor. Perhaps they fear hard work, perhaps they fear that without their high tech *toys* they will be unable to function.

I can function in a third world mode, although, admittedly, I prefer not to. I have wheat and rice and flour and dehydrated foods. I also have some chocolate bars and nice body lotion.
I have a lovely shotgun and ammo and some wicked looking sharp knives. I also have a telephone to call 911--while their response time in this area is rather slow, I still think I would call them first before shooting and slicing in wanton abandon.

I am currently living in a moderately sized city on the Gulf Coast. I would prefer to be in the wilds of Maine or Vermont or Idaho or in the Ozarks, but current finances do not allow this. So, I garden as I can in a fair sized back yard.

I am employed--*under the table*, as they say. My employment is entirely dependent on my employers continued good health and success. I have a small checking and a small savings account, so I haven't completely discarded the trappings of our monetary system. I have no stocks or bonds. Nor have I hoarded gold and silver coins and ingots (sadly).
My main assets are not monetary. I have my wits and my knowledge and my common sense, plus the ability to adapt rapidly to any and all situations. I give credit to my strong Irish family line for all of that. A bit interspersed with the Scottish line of my family, but I suppose it was difficult for some of my ancestors to resist a Scottish rogue in a kilt!

This blog will document how I have prepared and how I continue to do so. It will sometimes have a bit of *do it yourself* hints and recipes as I wander along this journey.