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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coleman whitegas lantern

By Abraham

I hope you know how to use Coleman whitegas equipment, but if you don’t this entry is for you. Coleman makes all kinds of products for the outdoors. Let’s focus on Coleman’s whitegas appliances in general and Coleman whitegas lanterns in particular. As far as I know all of Coleman’s whitegas stoves and lanterns run basically the same way. As a fuel, I like whitegas. It seems to last a long time, i.e. it doesn’t go bad, and in my experience works pretty well at cold temperatures. I’ve used both whitegas stoves and lanterns winter camping and never had a problem lighting them. I have had problems with propane stoves in the cold. You don’t have to buy some European equipment. Coleman is proven bulletproof.

This is a Coleman Peak 1 lantern.

lantBecause it’s a dual fuel lantern it will run off of whitegas or unleaded gas. Flexibility is a good thing in just about all circumstances. It’s really designed for backpacking because it’s pretty small. I’d say this model holds maybe 1/2 pint of fuel and can run between 3-5 hours depending on how high you turn it up.

Coleman also makes a two mantle (more to follow) lantern that burns as bright as any electric light in your house. Downside it uses more fuel and is quite a bit heavier. The two mantles are great for car camping and canoeing.

The parts-

lant1The white thing that’s hanging in the glass chimney area is the mantle. This is a one mantle lantern. Two mantle lanterns have two mantles hanging side by side. The mantles are fragile so you can’t bang the lantern around too much or you’ll be replacing a lot of mantles. In this picture the brass thing to the right of the mantle is the generator. Fuel gets sucked up from the tank, heats up in the generator, gets turned into a mist then mixes with air in the glass chimney area and ignites which makes the mantle glow. Till the generator gets heated up Coleman stuff doesn’t work right so don’t worry if it sputters a bit when you first light Coleman whitegas equipment.

The silver metal thing facing front is the pump. This is how you pressurize the fuel in the tank so that it gets forced up to burn. You turn it counterclockwise to loosen it and righty tighty.

This is where you pour the fuel into the tank.

lant2You notice how this cap has a strap attached to it so I can’t lose it? They sell extra caps for a reason. Either make sure that you have a strap or buy some replacement caps. Otherwise I guarantee that you will drop it and lose it. I can see it happening to me, drop the cap on the ice and the cap unimaginably lands on its side and rolls 45 feet like a Tiger Woods putt right into the only hole on the ice for 1/4 mile in every direction. It’s one of those strikes of bad luck that you couldn’t do again if someone offered you a million $’s. But I digress…

After you fill it with fuel and replace the cap tightly….lant3Then you unscrew the pump handle and pull it up. You place your thumb over the little hole on top of the pump handle and pump it a bunch of times, maybe 5, 10, 15 or 25. It depends on how much fuel is in the tank. You’ll feel it get tougher and tougher to pump as you pressurize it. Don’t force it, but you want it to be pressurized so don’t stop until you feel resistance. Then at that point you push the handle all the way in and tighten it up. Remember, just like in politics, righty tighty and lefty loosey.

lantOn the left you see the control knob. It’s that black thing. You kind of have to push it into turn it. The way it’s pointed now, 9 towards 3, is off. You push it in and turn it so that it’s pointing 3 towards 9 to light it and all the points in between control the brightness. I didn’t mention it earlier, but you see that nice metal handle? That’s nice and useful. To remove the glass chimney you stretch one side of the metal handle out of the hole it sits in then you pull the cap off and then you can remove or replace the glass. Just like the Chiltons manual says, “Reassemble in reverse order.”

So you finished filling it, pumping and now you know how to turn it on. Light your match and stick it through this hole in the bottom of the glass chimney area

lant41So you got your lit match stuck up the hole, now you push in that black control knob and turn it all the way to the light position. You should hear a hissing as the pressure in the tank forces the fuel up the generator and out the mantle. You may have to get your lit match right up close to the mantle. Be careful not to poke your match through the mantle though. The mantle will kind of glow and sputter. Coleman stuff takes a few seconds to really get running the way it should.

At this point I always find it’s a good time to give the lantern a few more pumps so unscrew the pump handle, pull it out, thumb over hole and give it a few more pumps. Notice how the glow on the mantle changes? Learn from it. Screw the handle back in and if it seems like it’s pretty well caught you can use the black knob to turn it down a bit. You may have to give it a few more pumps. As long as you have a whitegas unit lantern/stove going you have to pay attention to it and pump it every once in a while. It takes a little while to get used to it. After five uses you’ll be an expert.

lant6Pretty bright, aye?

To remove the glass chimney-

lant711First you pull one end of the wire handle out of the hole it sits in. Then bend the other side of the handle out of its hole. Now that the handle is free.

lant8Then remove the black cap from the top of the lantern.

lant9Then you can remove the glass chimney to get to the mantle. Replacing a mantle is fine work. They sell two kinds, ones that you need to tie and ones that are already looped through and you just have to pull the threads to tighten the loop. The latter is easier to use so those are the ones I prefer, but if you have good eyes and good fingers you can save a few cents and get the kind that you need to tie yourself.

  • Other manufacturer’s may be fine. I have Coleman. I like Coleman. The only problem I had with a Coleman product was when the generator on my little hiking Peak 1 stove got clogged from years of use. I was able to buy a new generator for $15 and fix it myself. Easy to do.lant7
  • The first time you use a mantle lantern out of the box you have to do something kind of strange to it. You need to set it on fire. No, not the lantern, the mantle. These are the mantles. You want to have at least four times more mantles than you ever think you may need. I have some in the box that I store the lantern in, but I also ducktaped some to the bottom of the lantern too. If you are camping or on a river there will always be someone who forgot to bring an extra mantle and is looking to get one. So the first time you use the lantern you have to tie a mantle to the outlet where the gas is emitted. Pull the metal handle out, remove the cap from the top of the lantern and tie the mantle on where it belongs. Then replace the glass and cap. Now the neat thing, you light the brand new mantle on fire. No fuel needed. You just stick a match through the ignition hole and set the new mantle ablaze. Let it burn out. It will keep hanging there. I’m still amazed how you use the ashes of the mantle as a filament. The mantle ash is what glows. I don’t understand it, but it works.
  • Remember it operates under pressure so if you go to remove the fuel cap it will hiss at you as the pressure is released.

Buy Food Now Before Prices Rise More


Prices for food basics like wheat, rice, and beans (among other things) have risen so much these recent months. And now, prices in grocery ads says they are "fixed" until April 2009. Wondering just how much grocery/food prices will increase as of April. We will be stocking up between now and then, but meanwhile, take a look at the following links:

Did you read our posting yesterday about how Sam's Club is limiting purchases of big bags of rice to 4 per member?

Make your lists of your basic foods needed. Be sure to stock up on your basics. Get that membership for food clubs now. Buy in bulk there and everywhere else.


Recipe: How to Make Soy Milk

Hubby is lactose intolerant, so, although we will get a mini milk cow and possibly a goat when we get our little farm, we'll make milk from soybeans that we've grown ourselves. And since we'll probably make a lot, we'll need an automatic soymilk maker (soy milk machine). Meanwhile, here's a recipe for making soy milk without a machine.

Ingredients and Directions:
  1. Gather about 125 g whole soy beans. * This will make 1 liter of soy milk.

  2. Crack the soybeans.

  3. Soak and dehull the soy beans.

  4. Clean the soy beans.

  5. Soak in water for 6-9 hours.

  6. Remove hulls by rubbing in hands (kneading).

  7. Rinse soybeans again to get rid of loose hulls. This helps the process.

  8. Microwave the wet soy beans for 2 minutes (to destroy enzymes that could make it taste beany instead of milky).

  9. Add the soaked soy beans and 1 liter of water to a blender. Grind well.

  10. Strain the mixture through a cheese cloth to get the soy milk. The leftover part is called okara and can be used to make bread, crackers, or cattle feed.

  11. Boil the soy milk for 5-10 minutes.

  12. Cool and refrigerate in a mason jar. Label with date and kind of milk. Use within 3 days.

* Gram is a measurement of mass. There are 4.5 ounces to 125 grams.

Can add a bit of salt, chocolate syrup and/or vanilla extract to flavor the milk. Can also add a few teaspoons of brown rice syrup while warm - stir well. Can use as with any other milk to cook or make smoothies.

We're researching recipes to use our soy milk. Do you have any?

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC


prep rehash

In honor of all my new loyal minions, I'm going to rehash the basics for frugal prepping. I'm sure my long time readers could care less. I had originally planned on a rehash on bolt guns instead of semi's, sure to generate howls of protest from troll section. I'll include that here, just so I can slog through fifty friggin comments about what an idiot I am. That is sure to brighten my day and focus my disapproval.
Every time I bring up the backbone of your survival diet being wheat, I get assorted complaints. Bland, boring, less nutritious. The basic frugal preparedness plan is a bare bones, better than nothing plan. It contains no bells or whistles. It is what will keep you alive if the world ends tomorrow. It is not meant to be purchased and then forgotten. Ideally, it will be added on to. If the ideal is not met, at least it will keep you alive. Survivalism is about surviving, not about continuing a modern luxury existence without interruption. Buy four hundred pounds of wheat kernels per person if you want a years worth of food. Go to the feed store and buy bags of whole wheat kernels. Not flour, not flakes. And not treated with any vet medicine. Then buy yourself a grain grinder. A corn mill. Google 'corn mill' or 'corn grinder', or go to the link for Amazon products at my web site to buy a $25 grinder. It is a cast iron grinder. It will outlive you if not left in the rain. It is meant as a rough grinder. Not a fine flour grinder. So with wheat you start at a course grind, run it through, grind again a little finer. It takes three or four times through the grinder to get nice wheat flour. Shut up and do the extra work, it is cheaper than spending $300 for a fancy mill.
The wheat should have a little diatamacous earth ( food grade, not pool grade ) sprinkled in it to control bugs ( also at my Amazon store ). Half a cup per five gallon bucket is good. You put in with the kernels and roll the sealed bucket around to distribute. Buy food grade buckets. Wal-Mart used to have them in the paint section. I wrote an article about, but damned if I can find it ( anyone? a little help here ). Wheat has the highest protein content of commercial grains, although it is not a complete protein like meat is. For that you need to supplement it with beans. If it is all you have, you will eventually suffer from lack of protein, assuming you can't kill some rabbits or something. Again, this is bare bones, better than nothing.
You will need three five gallon buckets per hundred pounds of wheat. If bought new rather than used from the bakery or BBQ joint ( take them to the car wash and hot water pressure wash them if dried on food inside ) you will spend about $20 per hundred pounds on buckets. About $200 per person for four hundred pounds, wheat and buckets. A lot more expensive than it used to be. Failing all of the above, just get rice and beans at the market. Next up, for water. If you live in a wood abundant environment, just boil all your water. It doesn't have to be boiled, just brought to a boil. All the germs are killed by then. Everyone else needs to buy a ceramic filter. Buy a Berky replacement filter, about $50. To make your own Berky filter unit ( the one with the multiple stick looking filters in a big bucket ) take one poly bucket and drill a hole in the bottom the same size as the filter spout. Set it on top of another bucket with lid on and that lid also having a hole. Fill the top, it filters through to the bottom. Good for 10k gallons. You can quibble all day about plastic chemical leaching, thus needing to buy $10 food buckets and $300 stainless steel water filters, but this is in a calamity, total collapse situation. You'll be dead from warfare long before you might get cancer from plastic buckets.
Now get yourself a rifle. Not a $1,500 battle rifle that take $20 magazines and sixty cent .308 ammo. A World War Two surplus bolt action rifle. They are dirt cheap and built like a tank. I like the Enfield, but the Russian 91/30 ( don't get the 44 carbine ) is three quarters of that price. I don't recommend the Russian gun, as it has no gas escape feature. But no one else, including long time users and reloaders, share my concern. Up to you. The Mauser family has much more accurate rifles than the Enfield ( the 303 is great for dirty field conditions but suffers in the accuracy department. The Mausers are accurate but jam with dirt ) and cost somewhere between the $150 Enfield and the $100 Russian. Now, you could buy an SKS for just $25 more than a Enfield, but I discourage semi's in all categories ( pistols, rimfires and rifles ). You can't assume a continuation of ammunition. And you are too poor to stockpile 20k rounds. Either Obammy taxes ammunition much more, supplies stay scarce, imports from Russia are outlawed, or after a collapse no more ammunition is produced. When poor, the only option is to use much less ammunition. Under the stress of combat, semi's are sprayed and prayed. With a bolt action you must be much more careful before you fire. Because you aren't covering yourself with a wall of lead and because it will take valuable seconds to reload. Ammunition is high tech. It won't last forever and must be conserved.
Buy as much ammo as you can. Even a hundred bucks worth is going to be far better than nothing ( a pile of worthless paper dollars being saved for a future semi purchase is not as good as a surplus bolt gun with bayonet and three hundred rounds of thirty caliber ammunition ). So far, you've spent about five hundred bucks. You have protection with food and water. You need a lot more, such as shovels or saws or other tools, camping cookware, wool clothing and blankets, knives, etc. But this will get you far down the road towards a preparedness stockpile. Which is far better than 99% of the population.


Review: Volcano Stove II

Last week I had the opportunity to get in on a group buy for the Volcano II stove. (Sorry, I would have shared the details but I found out about it very last minute and barely made it in myself!) I had heard good things about this stove, and after a brief review of its features and online ratings, I decided to acquire one.

The main reason I wanted to add this to my supplies is its versatility—Volcano stoves can use charcoal, wood, or propane (with the adapter). I found this setup very desirable, since while my fuel may be diversified, this single stove can handle almost everything I throw at it. It’s made to accommodate dutch ovens, or you can lay down the included grill on top and use a normal pan, pot, or cook your things directly on it. And cleanup is as simple as turning the stove over and dumping the remnants out (unless you’re using propane, of course).

Another great feature of the Volcano is its unique heat chamber that channels the heat upwards towards your food, instead of wasting fuel by expelling heat out the sides and bottom. This also means that the area surrounding the stove is cooler than conventional stoves, allowing you to cook with the stove on a variety of surfaces that you normally might not use for putting your stove on.

Below are the pictures of my grand unveiling when I opened and first used the stove.

The box it comes in:

1 Review: Volcano Stove II

Opening the box:

2 Review: Volcano Stove II

The oven comes in a sturdy bag for easy transportation. The stove weighs 22 pounds and is about 16″ x 16″ x 4″ when closed (13″ high when open).


This is what the kit looks like when the bag is first opened:

4 Review: Volcano Stove II

Here are the contents of the kit fully unwrapped. From top left, clockwise: heat deflector plate, grills, stove, propane adapter, propane hose (this hooks to the 20 lb. tanks; you can buy an adapter for the 1 lb. tanks for ~$40), 2 tools for the propane assembly, manual.

5 Review: Volcano Stove II

Opening and closing the stove is brain-dead easy and some pretty cool engineering. By simply pulling up on the handle, the entire stove pops open, the legs unfold, and you’re set. To close the stove you lift up from the bottom, the stove folds in on itself, and the legs retract. Very cool. I opened and closed it a few times just to marvel at its elegant simplicity. :)

7 Review: Volcano Stove II

The propane assembly simply sits inside the stove as you see below:

8 Review: Volcano Stove II

Here is the stove hooked up to a propane tank, ready for use:

9 Review: Volcano Stove II

The propane hose comes with its own valve, so I had to open the fuel on the tank itself, and then on the hose. In addition, the stove has adjustable vents to control the amount of oxygen in the stove; this is more for using wood/charcoal and controlling how much oxygen is getting to your embers.

10 Review: Volcano Stove II

Mmmm, fire……

11 Review: Volcano Stove II

I’m very pleased with this stove so far and look forward to using it in the future. And yes, I would have been just as happy with it had I paid retail price. :)


Audio Podcast: Low Cost Bug Out Location Options

icon for podpress Episode-130- Low Cost Bug Out Location Options [40:29m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Picture your ideal bug out location. You can see it now, 80 acres of remote land, half in pasture and plowable and half in timber with lots of native nut trees and wild life. Remote enough to be out of the way but still have access to what is left of society after a big crash. Solar panels and wind gen at the ready, power from the grid not even needed, a deep well and a well fortified structure for comfortable living.

Now wake up! How far away is that place right now, how much would it cost? Don’t worry today we are going to talk about stepping stones to building a bug out location over time, ways to do it low cost and gotchas to watch out for while you do it.

I also have a few big announcements and some new stuff available for listeners.

Links for today’s Show


Ice Storm - Winter RV-ing

We had a solid ice storm here last night, and temps dipped near 20.

Makes living in an RV interesting. Here are some tips I've picked up, mostly from neighbors who know more about this than I do. Sometimes you just walk around the RV park and pick up ideas.

Most RVs, including mine, are built for vacations, between May and October. I really haven't seen that the full timer market has affected the ability to insulate an RV effectively. Mobile Suites makes a very well insulated unit. The Cameo by Carriage has an Astro-Foil insulation option. They have a test-scenario on their web site of winter camping where they claim the unit held 65-degrees all night with 2 people in it during zero-degree weather. Non-Cameo dealers I've spoken to discount it. Regardless, that's why I'm looking into the foam and other insulation options. While it would require a massive rennovation, something inside tells me with a lot of work you probably could make an RV very energy efficient.

So here are a few considerations below 32:

External "Shower" - First of all, this is a joke anyway. My unit has a feature listed as "external shower". What it really is: A cheesy 22" sprayer hose. But there's more! Where the hole connects to the faucet on the side of the trailer, it's not a normal hose connection. And the water flow hole is barely big enough to poke a ball-point-pen through. Now, take the temp below 30 degrees. Yep, first place to freeze.

On my first freeze in the RV, this created a huge mess, backflowed into the storage area. It was really moment #1 of when I thought I might be certifiably crazy for thinking I could do this.

Solution: Disconnected the hose. Today it lies beneath piles of trash in a landfill near you!

Water Hose: Most people wrap their hose with the typical sponge-foam that you can buy at Lowe's, Home Depot or Wal Mart. I also added an electrical heater to it from the point of connection to land, so I can plug it in without an extension cord. I'm going to keep working on this a bit. The electrical wrap goes about 12'. My hose is about 30'. I haven't needed 30' anywhere yet, so I'm either going to cut it off and shorten it myself, which is doubtful. I'll probably just plunk down the money and buy a more appropriately-sized hose. If 15' would work in most cases, then my hose, wrap, and electrical heater will all work nicely together. The only challenge with this is the hose is so bulky. I just wrap it up best I can and throw it in the back of the pick-up when I'm towing. There's no way it could store on-board with all that foam.

Hose Connection - My unit has a side panel where the water hose connects. All the water and sewer valves come to that one spot. Problem: No insulation; either in front or behind. Modification: I removed a flimsy false wall behind this panel, thus opening up the rear of my storage compartment anyway. Then, weight issues aside, I packed in a load of R-25 fiberglass insulation behind this panel, where many of the open water lines are most directly exposed. I also cut a piece to fit inside the panel, so where the hose connects, I wrap insulation around that also.

Land Connection - Finally, some insulation around the faucet on land is good to carry with you. Many parks make any breakage of the faucet your responsibility.

Sewer Line - Let me give you the most valuable piece of information anyone could ever tell you about an RV. When the sewer hose is frozen, DO NOT touch it until it thaws! That's right. Do you remember that commercial for a pick up truck that aired many years ago. Two "bubbas" were sitting in the truck. They were stuck in a mud field. One says to the other..."you know, if we wait unil spring, I bet we can drive right outta here". That's about the way it is with the sewer hose. A frozen sewer line is as brittle as anything you could possibly imagine. You can't drain it, because it just keeps breaking. So if you just can't resist, at least have a 30-gallon Heavy trash bag in hand, and wear rubber gloves. OK. Lesson learned, and no, dammit, I don't have any pictures, but thank you very much for asking.

Underbelly - Mine has the heater vents running through the underbelly. Most units I think advertise this as a feature. Theoretically, if you run the propane furnace, it's supposed to provide enough warmth to keep the water and drain lines in the underbelly from freezing. I haven't dipped down to zero, and would wonder what might happen. I'm suspicious. What I did last night was run the furnace set at about 60. I supplement with electric heaters inside. When it thaws, we'll see if my plan worked. I also left the cabinet doors open under the kitchen and bath faucets, and dripped the kitchen.

Tanks - they make tank heating pads. Some units come with them already installed. They cost about $100 each. You tie them into your electric system. Some are AC/DC. They have built in thermostats where they start warming the tanks when the temp drops into the upper 30s. Haven't installed these yet. I may ultimately, if we have time, for prepping for mountain escapes.

Inside, I have 3 electric heaters. This works on the grid, but would suck the life out of my 440 amps off the grid. When TSHTF, if the grid goes down, as the Bible says, pray it's not winter. I have 3 down coats and heavy fleece on-board, so once the propane ran out, it would be tough going, sub-freezing.

Finally, an electric blanket makes for toasty sleeping.

Hope that spawns some thought. Stay away from frozen sewer lines!


Hot Breakfast! Get Your Hot Breakfast!

Even kitties want hot breakfast! Especially in the cold weather part of the year, breakfast is important—hot breakfast! Hot breakfast can be so simple, too. Find your self a small crock pot. I have a couple of Crockettes that I picked up at thrift stores for a couple of bucks each. At bed time, I’ll any of a variety of things into the crock pot and le voila! Hot breakfast when I get up, all ready. Between that and the automatic drip coffee pot, it feels like God makes my breakfast, and is glad I am here.

Try these tasty breakfasts in a small crock pot. Most should feed two people.

  • ¾ steel cut oats, 2 ¼ cups water, dash salt, lump of butter. Can add any dried fruit or dried fruit combo that suites your fancy.
  • 1 cup millet, 2 cups water, dash salt, lump of butter or a glug of sunflower oil
  • 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, dash salt, lump of butter
  • ½ cup rice, 2 tablespoons sugar, dash salt, lump of butter; sprinkle nutmeg over the top
  • Find a small squash or bitty pumpkin, small enough to fit into the crock pot with room to spare; you’ll need to lift it out when it’s done. Cut the top off, cutting lowing enough that it’ll fit into the crock pot with the lid on. Clean out the guts. Sprinkle a little salt in the inside. Cut a little bit off the bottom to make it sit even if necessary—but try to find a squash that you don’t have to do that to. Now, break an egg into a dish and beat it well; add an equal amount of milk by volume, a couple of teaspoons of sugar and a dash of salt. Beat it all up good, and pour it into the cleaned out squash or bitty pumpkin you’ve already placed into the crock. Shake a little nutmeg over the custard in the pumpkin and put the lid on.
  • Find another small squash or bitty pumpkin, and clean and prepare it as above. Stuff it with sausage and diced onion, fried together.

If you need to feed more than one or two people, you can certainly try a bigger crock pot, though I’ve not personally done so. I don’t expect it would make any difference with the grains, just increase the measurements accordingly.

Remember all those people who told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, now you know how to make it the easiest meal of the day, too!


Another Valuable Handbook for Crisis Preparedness and Survival

The Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Complete Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival is a 320 page Paperback by Jack A. Spigarelli, and you should have it in your survival library. This is one you won’t merely want to keep on your bookshelf.

Reviewers note that this book is highly informative and in depth. One reviewer said the Crisis Preparedness Handbook made him realize he should have started preparing years ago and that his current survival kit was inadequate. Another was glad the info on food storage included nutritional guidance for tailoring food storage for one’s own family. A large part of the book concerns food storage. Another wished he had a more current edition to take better advantage of the latest listing of resources. Another reviewer purchased copies to give as gifts to family members.

Here’s the description from

“A complete guide to emergency preparedness for our uncertain times. Virtually an encyclopedia of food storage and personal preparedness, it covers topics from exactly how to design a food storage program tailored for your particular family to growing and preserving food, storing fuel, alternate energy, emergency evacuation kits, medical and dental, surviving biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism, communications, selection of firearms and other survival tools, and preparing for earthquakes. Dozens of detailed, expert checklists and tables with photographs and index. Extensive book and resource lists with regular and Internet addresses. An absolute must for those serious about preparing for and surviving during our dangerous times.”

Click to get your copy of the Crisis Preparedness Handbook. In these times, you need all the practical guidance you can get. Be a good neighbor and get extra copies for family and friends.


How Not to Die

I'm going to rant about a dead guy today. Actually I have never met him but he is just one of the many people I end up "knowing" because they leave their spouse a financial disaster to deal with after they die. I am running out of fingers to count how many clients I get (usually women) whose spouses die unexpectedly (usually men) who end up in my office with an armload of paperwork and no clue as to their financial position, no job skills because "their husband always took care of everything", and no money to even pay the light bill or car payment. Here are some tips on how not to die:
  • Don't die without an updated Will. Many people die unexpectedly. Because of this fact, they put off writing a Will or updating their Will which leaves a huge probate mess and lots of disgruntled relatives. Whenever there is a change in your life--a divorce, a new spouse, new kids or other heirs, new property added or old property disposed of--check out your Will and make sure it covers your current situation.

  • Don't die without life insurance. To bury you is going to cost a lot. If you don't have money now, your poor spouse certainly isn't going to have the money to pay for your funeral and burial or cremation. And that's only the tip of it. How will your spouse continue to make the house payment, pay the electric bill, make the car payment so the car won't get repossessed, or pay for the kid's braces? If you leave them no money they will have no money--it doesn't magically appear after you die!

  • Don't die in debt. This is hard since many people have debt in the form of a mortgage, credit card bills, tax debt, and other things they need to pay off, however most debt doesn't die with you so if you think your spouse will get the equity in the house, think again. Most debts attach to your estate so if you have a huge tax debt, the IRS will go after the equity in your home or other investments and they get to be first in line, not your spouse. Work five jobs if you need to in order to get your debts paid off. For larger debts, make sure to have enough life insurance to pay off the debt should you die.

  • Don't die with a spouse who is clueless and skill-less. I've met women who never learned how to drive because their husband always drove. I've met women who move to this country to marry a husband who later dies, leaving them in a strange country with very little knowledge of English or the customs of our country. I've met men who think their home is nearly paid for and that they have no credit card debt only to add shock to their grief when they find out that their wives had somehow put three mortgages on their home, emptied their retirement account, and left behind a stack of maxed out credit cards. I've met women who raised a family and were the perfect wife yet had never developed any job skills; after their husband's sudden death, they were thrust into a job market that they knew nothing about.

  • Don't die and leave an unorganized mess for someone else to sort out. Information on where to find your Will, life insurance policy, current bills, financial accounts, deed to your house, etc. should be easily accessible to your next of kin. How else will they find all of this stuff? You may have all of this information in your head but when you are gone, so is all of the information you carried with you.

  • Don't die with secrets. We all have secrets--passwords to our many online accounts, a hidden "slush fund" that we access for emergencies, sometimes there's a spare kid that the current spouse doesn't know about--whatever your secrets, consider how they will impact your spouse and your family after you are gone and make appropriate arrangements to straighten out any mess that many come up after you die.

I think that about covers it. If you have a current Will, adequate life insurance, little or no debt, a spouse who has been an equal partner in the running of your life together, organized paperwork, and a way to reveal any necessary secrets after you die, you will give your spouse the gift of being able to grieve your loss in peace instead of grieving while they are being evicted out of their home, walking to the food bank because they have no money and the car has been repossessed, and cursing you and themselves for the mess they are now in.


What is a Prepper?

As times get tough, and the bad news keeps coming in bushels, many folks are asking themselves the question, "What should I do"? Many search the internet for answers, using terms like "preparations", "how to be prepared", or maybe "preparing for what's to come"....

Some folks stumble across the term "prepper" or "prepping", and dig a little deeper out of curiosity. Some worry about their survival and search along that line. Or they arrive by one of a hundred other possibilities.....

I am a prepper. Survivalist. Whatever you want to call me, it doesn't matter. Five years ago, I had a good paying job, my wife and I got the "big" mortgage, the SUV, a nice big boat...... Then I lost my job. I struggled and struggled some more, sometimes working 3 jobs. I saved our house from foreclosure on the courthouse steps.

Things got a little better, but I just couldn't help but see that for every step I took forward, the world found a way to kick me two steps back. I've got a decent job now, and my wife works, but we're still barely keeping our family's heads above water as the price of life outpaces our "cost of living" raises.....

About 18 months ago, I came to the realization that things just weren't working anymore. Our money didn't go nearly as far as it did before. Whatever we had saved was eaten up by life, and I was in a place I didn't want to be: living paycheck to paycheck, doing without basic needs, with no safety net whatsoever. I've got a family to feed, shelter, clothe, and care for. Our situation was not good.....

I began my search. I read and read and read some more. I burned down the internet looking for answers. I looked for ideas I could use to simplify our lives, cut our expenses, and rebuild our savings for the proverbial "rainy day". I stumbled across folks who are living in "voluntary simplicity", living "off grid", building "unconventional" homes, and homesteading in self reliance. Being one who has always done most everything for himself, these things appealed to me.

As I continued to search the internet, I came across many blogs and websites on every topic under the sun. Being a voracious reader, I learned a great deal in a short span. In May of last year, I had an epiphany: bad times lay ahead. I accurately predicted the current financial crisis back then, and with my new found knowledge, I don't see much hope for recovery any time soon. I've learned that our "global economy" is nothing more than a great Ponzi scheme, and I've come to realize that the only way to insulate one's self from the collapse of that scheme is to prepare for self reliant living.

Am I way out there in left field? Maybe. But left field is getting pretty crowded these days! But the way I see it, at worst, I'll have saved my family a tremendous amount of money by paring things down to the bare essentials, stockpiling food, medical supplies, and emergency gear (and yes, that includes a few guns, and ammunition) at today's prices versus tomorrow's inflated prices. At best, I may have saved my family's lives.

It doesn't hurt at all to be prepared for what life might throw your way. Think of how different the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina might have been if the people of New Orleans had prepared. Whether it's the loss of a job, the loss of a mate, a natural disaster, financial collapse, or alien invasion (just kiddin'. Maybe..... heh heh heh), whatever your motivation, it's just good sense to have plans and preparations in place for the unknown. We buy insurance to cover us against the unknown and the unforeseen, and that's exactly what preps are. An insurance policy for life's unknowns. We do it for our families, and our friends and neighbors, because that's what life is really all about. That's why I'm a prepper......


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cooking with Food Storage: Potato Pearl Recipes

I have a lot of potato pearls from the church's home storage center. My husband loves potato pearl mashed potatoes but I really don't care for them, preferring the garden variety of potatoes (but I'd eat them if I was really hungry.) Now I'm excited to find two recipes for things that I do like using potato pearls. I thought you might enjoy them as well!

Potato Pearl Bread
5 c milk
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c potato pearls
2 T salt
2 T yeast
9-11 c flour

Microwave milk until hot. Place shortening, sugar, salt and potato pearls in a large bowl. Pour hot milk over shortening mixture and stir until potato pearls are dissolved. Cool. Add yeast. Mix in enough flour to form a soft dough, then knead 6 minutes. Cover and let rise. Form into loaves and place in four loaf pans. Let them rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Potato Rolls
2 pkg. yeast (5 tsp)
1/4 c warm water
2 c milk
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
1/3 c potato pearls
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
8 c flour (approximately)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Scald milk, sugar and shortening and set aside. Mix potato pearls with hot water to equal one cup. When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, mix with potato water, yeast, eggs and salt. Add about 8 cups flour. Knead until smooth and elastic. Raise until double. Punch down, roll out 1/2 inch thick. Cut in 3 to 3 1/2 inch circles. Fold in half, pinch edges together. Place on greased cookie sheet. Raise until double (approx. 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Roll out Potato Roll dough (see above) into a rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, nuts. Roll dough up into a roll and pinch the seam closed. Cut in 1 1/2 inch slices. Place in grease 9x13 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Other Ideas for Potato Pearls:

  • Use as a side dish of mashed potatoes.
  • Use to thicken soup, stew or gravy by simply adding a handful to your dish and stirring until dissolved.
  • Use as the crust for shepherd's pie or other similar casseroles.

Source: Traverse Mountain 1st Ward Pantry Cookbook


Provident Living: Practice Thrift and Frugality

"Practice thrift and frugality. There is a wise old saying: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges. Frugality means to practice careful economy." - Elder James E. Faust

I love this quote and it is particularly apt at the moment considering the economic times in which we live. Here are some more ideas to help you "practice thrift and frugality."
  • Buy things used. Many things at our house were either free (from the side of the road or something someone was going to throw out) or purchased from a newspaper ad, a garage sale, a thrift store or e-bay and they're just like new but were a fraction of the cost of new items.
  • Eat out less. Making food from scratch is the cheapest way to go. Even if you buy pre-packaged food or easy prep meals at the grocery store, they will almost always cost less than buying even the most inexpensive meals from a restaurant.
  • Find free entertainment and recreation. The library is a marvelous resource with books, movies and fun programs for kids and book clubs for adults. Borrow books and movies from your friends (just remember to return them.) Form your own book groups, exercise groups and sports teams. Get out old instruments you played as a teenager and form a musical ensemble, find a tennis partner and play at the free tennis courts around town. Form playgroups for your children. Explore local parks.
  • Use your skills/talents to barter for other services. My mom used to barter piano lessons for dental checkups. I know someone who does taxes for dance lessons. Talk to your friends and neighbors. You might be surprised what hidden talents and skills they have to share.
  • Don't window shop. Make a list and stick to it. I often find myself at a store purchasing things I didn't realize I "needed" until I saw them. Don't go shopping just to look at things. Most people don't have the discipline to look and not buy. They end up spending money or make themselves miserable wanting what they can't have.
  • Throw away your catalogs before you look at them. If you don't see it, you won't need it.
  • Stay healthy. Exercise, eat right, keep the word of wisdom and you will save lots of money in health care costs.
  • Drink water. Forget soft drinks and juice. Stick to nature's best thirst quencher and you'll have more pennies in your pocket.
  • Cook large amounts of food in advance and freeze it. This allows you to save money by buying food in bulk, fills your freezer full of convenience food and will save you the cost of going out or buying prepackaged food. I can't tell you what a lifesaver it was having a freezer full of pre-made meals after I had twins. I probably would have had the pizza and Chinese restaurants' numbers memorized had I not taken the time to prepare meals in advance that I could just pop in the oven.
  • Maintain the things you have. Change your car's oil, rotate tires, change your furnace filters, fix leaky faucets, repair ripped clothing, etc. All these things will save you a great deal of money over time.
  • Sell things you don't use anymore. My friend took her kids' clothes from last year and sold them on e-bay for a hefty $600.00 (and she only has two kids.) You'd be surprised what people will buy from you if you make the effort to sell them. Go through each room in your house and decide if you really need items there. You'll be amazed at how many things you'll find to sell.
  • Eat less meat. It's expensive and there are lots of delicious meals that don't require meat.
  • Wash your clothes less frequently. Many clothes can be worn more than once and still be clean.
  • Consider your housing situation. Smaller is often better. You may not need all the house you have now. Plus smaller means less cleaning, right?
  • Save on transportation--take a bus, use mass transit, ride a bike, carpool, telecommute or only keep one car. If you get creative, you may find ways to save money.
  • Turn down your thermostat in the winter, and raise it in the summer. I'm not saying be uncomfortable, simply adjust it slightly so it's almost unnoticeable. You'll be surprised how much you can lower your energy bills by wearing warmer clothing in the house in the winter and keeping it slightly warmer in the summer.
  • Try designating a spending-free day or spending-free weekend on a regular basis. Cut out all incidental spending for a day or weekend. If you do this consistently over time, you'll soon have more money to rub together.
  • Use cash to purchase things. On average, people spend 30% more when they use a credit card instead of cash.
  • When you get unexpected money or a windfall, don't spend it on something extravagant or unnecessary! If at all possible, save it

Financial Preparedness: Downsizing Preparedness Guide

With the current bleak economic environment comes downsizing. Every day, companies announce new job cuts. Now is the time to plan for a job loss. Here are some tips which will help you prepare for a layoff.

DO NOT conduct your job search during work hours or with employer-owned equipment. U.S. Employers have the right to monitor anything you do with company assets (computer network, computer activity, e-mail, etc.) This is a quick way to get you fired.
  1. Develop and enhance your network. Actively network with professional organizations and colleagues in other companies. Make efforts to increase your visibility inside and outside your company. Publish articles and/or make presentations at professional organizations.
  2. Be professional at all times. Don't burn any bridges at your current company. Speak to mentors within the company and line them up as references. You never know when someone you worked with or for may be in a position to hire you at another company or in a different position within your company.
  3. Sharpen your skills, learn new ones. Consider how your skills may translate into other jobs or fields.
  4. Update your resume and keep it current.
  5. Quietly do housekeeping at your current job. Often, after a layoff, people are given very little time to clean out their offices and remove personal belongings. Make sure you have a copy of your contact list at home, remove all personal files from your computer, take/send home copies of work product you want to keep, remove important possessions, locate copies of your performance appraisals and other personnel records.*
  6. Build your emergency fund and create a post-layoff budget. Immediately stop unnecessary spending and begin living on a barebones budget.
  7. Develop an exit strategy. Look into severance packages and what you may be able to negotiate on your way out the door. Create an agenda for discussion with the boss or human resources department. It's a list of all the things they could do for you on termination. Have it ready in your desk, because you never really never know when you'll be notified about your layoff. People being laid off are often provided with "outplacement" services - which includes career counseling, resume services, etc. Several weeks, or months, of vacation or continued salary will be helpful. Do not do anything extravagant with a severance package you may receive. It may take you as long as six months or more to find a new job.
  8. Always look for new career opportunities. Even if your current job feels comfortable and secure, you never know when your dream job may become available. Keep your resume updated and make sure that the right recruiters have your phone number. You should always have a passive job search in progress. That way, you’ll always enjoy a steady stream of job leads and you’ll have a head start on landing your next position if you get laid off. This may sound like obvious advice, but few people truly take it seriously until it’s too late. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. When the layoff rumors start buzzing, goose your passive job search and get a little more active about exploring your options.
  9. Investigate your health insurance policy. Be clear on what your health plan covers, and figure out how much it would cost to extend your employer’s group insurance coverage through the federal program COBRA. Be aware that you would have to pay both the employer and employee shares of the premiums which can be costly but at least you’d get to keep the same coverage. Investigate independent insurance plans if necessary.
  10. Prepare a reference list. Create a list of people who will serve as references for you "just in case." If someone has had an opportunity to see you at work and views you favorably, ask if they will be a reference for you. Ask supervisors, managers, colleagues, co-workers, and even subordinates. Then, ask for their personal contact information so that you can stay in touch after you or they leave your current employer. Get approval from as many people as possible because there will be attrition as time passes.If someone doesn't agree or seems reluctant, don't use them as a reference. They could hurt your next job search if a potential employer calls them.
  11. Be cautious about using company assets for personal reasons. Stop using the company e-mail for personal messages to family and friends outside of the company. Be mindful of what is charged to the company credit card, etc. If there is a layoff pending, someone viewed as "abusing company assets" for personal use may be at greater risk than other employees.

*"Be careful about removing anything that the company would consider to be owned by the company, anything that would be 'proprietary' to the company, or anything that would compromise their business and your future (like customer lists, proposals, patent applications, financial reports, etc.). Note that, unless you've made other arrangements in advance, your employer probably 'owns' what you have created at work. They also own your office computer and the office supplies you use. Use your own judgment and ethics, but be careful. If something is marked 'company confidential,' leave it alone. Former employees can be, and are, sued for violating agreements. They can even be accused of theft. If you aren't sure, call an attorney outside the company. You don't want to become a "criminal" in the process of preparing for your next job search." - Susan P. Joyce,



State of Emergency

What a great phrase for the American lifestyle. Trick James over at Nebraska Preppers Network posted some excellent information compiled by the Trends Research Institiute this morning, it's even in mp3 format. Now, combine that information with this tidbit off of Yahoo News, talking about how it could be mid February before power is restored to people hit by the winter snow storm that ripped thru here Tuesday.

The roads here are still a mess, hubby spent 2 hours trying to get out of a ditch last night because of an idiot on the road with him. He chose the ditch over smashing our truck into a moron in a mini van on ice covered roads.

Here's a storm, blamed for 23 deaths so far and people being interviewed act like cooking on a gas stoveand heating their home with wood is some kind of miracle. And then there's the fellow with the 2 small kids that is worried he can't make it without power for 2 or 3 days. People, when will you realize that being prepared is the right thing to do? There is nothing in this whole world more important than taking care of yourself and your family in case of ANY emergency.

We all need to be thinking ahead, preparing for those odd occurances that could threaten our lives and our families. Store some food and water, get alternative heating lined up and know how to use it. Do you really want to be cooped up with a couple hundred strangers in a church basement, living on a cot? Or even worse, a FEMA camp with a couple thousand strangers, in a warehouse on a cot.

Please spread the word to your neighbors, become accustomed to the idea of being prepared and then do it. Get yourself a little FREEDOM INSURANCE.

Keep prepping!

(this is a duplicate post originating from Illinois Preppers Network )


I sorta fell off the real food bandwagon for a little bit there. I got back into a frozen food cycle for a week or so. In order to help me snap out of it I decided to make some pinto beans. Creedmore mentioned them recently which also had something to do with it. It was Sunday at about 3 oclock when I made this decision. I grabbed a 25lbs bag of pinto beans from the pirate trap and got looking for recipes. I found a nice easy one and got cooking. As a lesson I learned from the stew I didn't completely free lance this one. Didn't absolutely follow the recipe but I was headed down that general path.

I started with 3 cups of dry beans. They went into a pot on high until it boiled. Then it was backed off to warm to soak for an hour. After soaking the beans went into the crock pot. There was just enough water to cover them. I cut up some ham lunch meat that was about to go bad and threw that in also. After three hours on high I added a pinch of salt, pepper and about a third of an onion. Because it is never bad I threw a clump of brown sugar in. The beans cooked for about another hour and a half. Just keep on cooking them until they are soft enough. The great thing is that unless you completely ignore something in a crock pot it is pretty hard to fuck it up.

I ate some of the beans right away. It was bed time and I wasn't hungry but curiosity lead me to having a small bowl. They are pretty darn good. Today I had a bunch of them today with a pork chop and a couple of corn bread muffins for dinner today. It was downright grubbin. The pork chop definitely helped but using a chunk of corn bread to mop up the beans would be a darn good meal in and of itself. As Creedmore pointed out that is a darn good meal that costs about a dime. It might be a bit more expensive then that but seriously it is one of the cheapest meals out there.

I will probably be cooking beans again this weekend and am going to try a slightly different recipe.


I Am Not A Hardcore Survivalist...What Do I Do Now?

Listen most of you, myself included, are not hardcore survivalists. As much as I would love to move to retreat in Idaho, be able to whip up a gourmet meal from a bucket of flour and beans, or slaughter a pig utilizing everything right down to the teeth...I have to face some facts:

I have a wife...she is very tolerant of my paranoia and even agrees with some stuff but living like Little House on the Prarie does not appeal to her.

I have a house in the suburbs...that about sums that up.

I have a job that requires me to be a part of civilization....

I kinda like where I am at right now and what I am doing with my life.

So what is a normal non-hardcore prepper to do?

Well there are several things you can do to get a leg up on 99% of the clueless masses.

1.) Stockpile food - This sounds simple but most people go about it the wrong way. They buy shitload of food that they have never eaten before because it is freeze dried or "that" guy recommended it. The correct way to stockpile food is actually a seven headed dragon to be honest.

Buy MORE of food you normally eat. Your goal should be to be able to live out of your pantry during time of crisis. Trips to the store should be only to replenish what you have used. If you use tomotoe enough for six months, not all at once of course, but by picking up an extra can every time you go shopping until you have six months worth. Always make sure you rotate by move older cans forward and putting newly purchased stuff in the back. This is the single best way to stockpile food. BUY MORE of what you NORMALLY EAT.

I have chosen to suppliment this apprach several ways. I have several cases of MRE's and Mountain house cans - all of which I HAVE eaten before and know I like and can live on if I had to.

I have a garden and I know how to can stuff. I have a nice stash of stuff that I have canned and set aside.

Love it or hate it I believe this is the only way MOST folks will be able to develop a plan and stick to it.

2.) Stockpile water - there are many ways to do this I chose the large barrels which a bit of bleach added to them. I have several cases of bottled water and I plan to implement a rain water catching system in the very near future. Make sure you have some method available to purify water should you have to drink from a questionable source. Bleach, iodine, chlorine, water filters...they all work, some better than others.

3.) Have at least one weapon that you can use effectively and store several hundred rounds for it. The minimum I would recommend is a defensive sidearm. Add a rifle or shotgun and your situation just got a WHOLE LOT better. If you are NOT armed you will most likely be a victim when the SHTF.

4.) For everyday life, get OUT of DEBT and start an emergency fund. Keep some of that cash readily available. To protect against job loss try and build up three months living expenses to get you through a job search and that meager unemployment check.

5.) Build a BOB (Bug Out Bag) containing everything you need to live for a week in case you need to hit the road. Make sure it includes a well stocked first aid kit. This bag should always be ready and never in an unpacked state. It should be something you are comfortable carrying and have been able to carry successfully for a distance. Listen when the SHTF it isn't a good time to figure out that the 60lb you packed is too heavy to go fifty paces with.

More to come...

...that is all.


I Am Not A Hardcore Survivalist...What Do I Do Now?

Listen most of you, myself included, are not hardcore survivalists. As much as I would love to move to retreat in Idaho, be able to whip up a gourmet meal from a bucket of flour and beans, or slaughter a pig utilizing everything right down to the teeth...I have to face some facts:

I have a wife...she is very tolerant of my paranoia and even agrees with some stuff but living like Little House on the Prarie does not appeal to her.

I have a house in the suburbs...that about sums that up.

I have a job that requires me to be a part of civilization....

I kinda like where I am at right now and what I am doing with my life.

So what is a normal non-hardcore prepper to do?

Well there are several things you can do to get a leg up on 99% of the clueless masses.

1.) Stockpile food - This sounds simple but most people go about it the wrong way. They buy shitload of food that they have never eaten before because it is freeze dried or "that" guy recommended it. The correct way to stockpile food is actually a seven headed dragon to be honest.

Buy MORE of food you normally eat. Your goal should be to be able to live out of your pantry during time of crisis. Trips to the store should be only to replenish what you have used. If you use tomotoe enough for six months, not all at once of course, but by picking up an extra can every time you go shopping until you have six months worth. Always make sure you rotate by move older cans forward and putting newly purchased stuff in the back. This is the single best way to stockpile food. BUY MORE of what you NORMALLY EAT.

I have chosen to suppliment this apprach several ways. I have several cases of MRE's and Mountain house cans - all of which I HAVE eaten before and know I like and can live on if I had to.

I have a garden and I know how to can stuff. I have a nice stash of stuff that I have canned and set aside.

Love it or hate it I believe this is the only way MOST folks will be able to develop a plan and stick to it.

2.) Stockpile water - there are many ways to do this I chose the large barrels which a bit of bleach added to them. I have several cases of bottled water and I plan to implement a rain water catching system in the very near future. Make sure you have some method available to purify water should you have to drink from a questionable source. Bleach, iodine, chlorine, water filters...they all work, some better than others.

3.) Have at least one weapon that you can use effectively and store several hundred rounds for it. The minimum I would recommend is a defensive sidearm. Add a rifle or shotgun and your situation just got a WHOLE LOT better. If you are NOT armed you will most likely be a victim when the SHTF.

4.) For everyday life, get OUT of DEBT and start an emergency fund. Keep some of that cash readily available. To protect against job loss try and build up three months living expenses to get you through a job search and that meager unemployment check.

5.) Build a BOB (Bug Out Bag) containing everything you need to live for a week in case you need to hit the road. Make sure it includes a well stocked first aid kit. This bag should always be ready and never in an unpacked state. It should be something you are comfortable carrying and have been able to carry successfully for a distance. Listen when the SHTF it isn't a good time to figure out that the 60lb you packed is too heavy to go fifty paces with.

More to come...

...that is all.


Avoiding Wildfire - Safety Tips for Burning Trash

Many people that live in rural areas routinely burn their trash due to the fact that they have no trash pickup services found in more urban areas. Make sure you do so safely to avoid the chance of a wildfire that could destroy your home or the home of your friend or neighbor.

Safety Tips for Burning Trash

1.) If you need to burn household trash, don't just pile it on the ground.

2.) Always burn your trash in a covered container. Stay with your fire at all times. It only takes a second for a wayward spark to start a wildfire.

3.) Avoid accumulating large amounts of trash over extended time periods. Smaller amounts burn faster and with less risk.

4.) Avoid burning trash during extremely dry or windy conditions. Pay special attention to any burn bans in your area. Keep a fire break of at least 10 feet around your fire.

5.) Avoid burning trash that may contain hazardous items. Toxic fumes from paint and other chemicals could pose a serious health risk. Debri from exploding aerosol cans may cause serious injuries.

You can get fire risk advisories for the State of Texas here:

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.



Life after the apocalypse

What if the doomsayers are right ... what if society, as we know it, really is about to collapse? Do you have what it takes to make it in a world without electricity and running water? Tanya Gold offers an essential survival guide

Link to this video

I am standing in a wood with a tall man and a dead pheasant. There is blood everywhere: on my shoes, my hands, my face. Why am I here? Because the man - his name is Leon Durbin - is preparing me for the apocalypse, now.

What would happen if you awoke one morning and everyone was dead? Or if, less melodramatically, the world as we know it - and our teetering financial systems - ceased to function? What if you awoke to find your bubble-wrapped, gilded life was over, and for good? Could you survive? Could I?

I am an urban girl. I have no skills except whingeing and bingeing. I can barely open a packet of Hobnobs without an explosive device. But, unlike you, doomed and dying reader, I have decided to prepare for The End, and I am prepared to share the life-saving knowledge I will accrue. This is your cut-out-and-keep guide to the apocalypse. Put it in a drawer. One day you may need it.

So you wake up; everyone is dead. For the purpose of this exercise, imagine it's like Survivors, the cheap BBC rendition of the apocalypse, where a plague wipes out humanity and then everyone is mildly annoyed that the trains are delayed. We could imagine total financial or ecological collapse leading to the failure of social structures, but let's say it's a plague. So, how long can you stay in your house?

The answer is: not long. According to the people at the National Grid, the electricity will stop. So will the water. These systems have buttons. Buttons need fingers. Fingers need people who are alive. You have a day, maybe two, of electricity. Then you will be in darkness, with no way of washing your face.

What should you do? You can steal food from supermarkets but the rotting corpses on the floor of Sainsbury's will be fetid fonts of infection. And if you try to sit out the plague in your home, you could burn or drown. After a lightning strike, fires will begin and they will not stop. And if you live in London, the Thames barrier will fail without electricity and the low-lying areas of the city will flood.

So you have to leave. But where do you go? The apocalyptic norm - see 28 Days Later and Survivors - is for survivors to sit in desirable country mansions, eat tinned tomatoes, develop post-traumatic psychosis and shoot each other. Never in any apocalyptic scenario in any movie I have seen - and I have seen them all - does anyone try to live off the land. They prefer to feed on the crumbs of the lost civilisation. It never works. How can you rebuild civilisation with tinned tomatoes? You need to grow your own food.

But where? I choose Devon. It is warm and wet and fertile, and I have been happy there. There are cows. This is where I would live off the land, but I need to learn how. This thinking has led me to Durbin and the dead bird.

Durbin is tall and tweedy. He is the sort of man who keeps firewood kindling in his pocket, just in case. He owns Wildwood Bushcraft, a company that explains how to survive if you are dropped into the wilderness with no supplies, no warning and no clue.

Durbin leads me through the spindly, sleeping trees, pointing out different kinds of branch and bush, and their uses. According to him, the wood is a shop that will give you everything you need. "Willow bark can be boiled to relieve a headache," he says. "Yew is for making long bows. Oak is for shelters. Ash is for tool handles. Have you ever had a beech-leaf sandwich?" I don't bother replying.

To be competent in bushcraft, you have to be well equipped: before you leave the city, stop for a saw, chisel, spade, axe and hunting knife. Durbin has them all. They poke out of his rucksack in a manly fashion.

We arrive at a clearing and Durbin demonstrates how to light a fire. He places a small block of wood on the ground and puts a wooden stake on it, point down. He takes a bow, made of wood and string, places it round the stake and, when he moves the bow in a sideways motion, the stake rotates very fast. Its friction with the block of wood magically creates a pile of super-hot matter. It can ignite dry hay or bark. This creates a conflagration that can light a fire.

How will I get water? Durbin runs bushcraft weekends for angry executives here, so he knows where it is. "Water," I cry, lunging at a small stream. "Careful," says Durbin. "We have to filter the water with a sock full of sand. Then we have to bring it to a rolling boil." Why a sock? He ignores me.

Food is harder. It is winter and the countryside is closed for repairs. My two main vegetarian foods, Durbin explains, will be burdock root and hazelnut. Both are high-energy. You can make chips out of burdock and you can boil, mash and dry hazelnut to produce a repulsive kind of biscuit. Durbin picks up a spade and starts digging for burdock. He finds some, but it's rotten. "Winter," he sighs. "Hmmm."

So, with a fiendish flourish, I produce a dead pheasant from my handbag. I had spent the day before negotiating with the Guardian as to the legal and moral implications of murdering a rabbit for the purposes of this article. Finally we had compromised, and I had gone to a posh butcher's in Mayfair and bought this beautiful pheasant for £3.50. Durbin looks impressed. "You have to pull off its head," he says. "Just twist it."

I close my eyes and twist. The head comes off easily; it feels like wringing out a slightly damp scarf. Then Durbin makes a hole in the pheasant's bottom and I stick my hand up and clutch everything inside. Out comes a squelchy mass of once-living flesh. Durbin grabs the heart and cuts it open. "Very nutritious," he says. I am slightly sick in my mouth. I pluck, and soon I have a pile of bloodstained feathers - and a nude bird. Durbin sticks it on a spit over the fire. When it is cooked, we eat it. It tastes slightly of excrement but I still feel strangely empowered. It was much easier than I thought it would be, to rip this bird apart.

I now have bloodlust. I ask Durbin how to trap animals. I could theoretically shoot them, but trapping is more suitable for the lazy or incompetent survivor. He looks slightly nervous. "It's illegal," he says slowly. But I prod and he tells me about different types of trap. I could try the pit trap, he says, where you dig a hole in the forest floor, line it with sharpened stakes and camouflage it. It is for large animals - deer, wild boar, parents, other journalists. There is also the deadfall trap, which is for small animals. They saunter over a trigger mechanism, and a lump of wood falls on their head. Bon appetit and ha ha.

But what would I eat if I couldn't trap? "Bugs," says Durbin happily. "Worms." There are 40 calories in a worm, apparently; this is the equivalent of two Maltesers. "Or snails," he adds. "But quarantine the snail for three days before you eat it. It may have eaten poisonous plants, and you will have to wait until it expels them."

Now you need shelter. If I had the choice, I would probably look for a small stone cottage - hardy and easy to maintain - but if I am foraging, I have to go to where the food is. So Durbin shows me how to make a survival shelter. He hurls logs up against a tree trunk, and covers them with a foot of leaves and bracken and mud. "It is waterproof," he says. I climb in and lie down. It is a hole that only a troll could love. But there they are, the four pillars of survival: food, water, fire and shelter.

The next day, I go to Pullabrook Wood in Devon to practise my skills. It was easy to survive yesterday, with Durbin standing by. Can I cope alone? Pullabrook is a lovely wood, administered by the Woodland Trust. It is full of happy Tories and happy Labradors. But now I have my own mini-apocalypse. I fail at bow drilling. I find a stream, but a happy Tory says the water is poisonous, even if filtered by sock. Why? "Because sheep droppings have contaminated it," he says. Death by Sheep is only slightly behind Death by Snail in the encyclopaedia of embarrassing ways to die.

The first shelter I build is too small for me to enter. My second shelter collapses. I decide to abandon bushcraft. I will try my hand at farming. Woman cannot live on worm alone.

So, a few days later, I am standing inside an Iron Age roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire. Butser is a project that re-enacts Iron Age life. The roundhouse is huge and round and dim. I feel a bit as if I am standing inside a giant breast. Steve Dyer is the archaeological director. He is tall and red-faced, with a frizzy white beard.

"Roundhouses are easy to make," he says, waving his arms. He points out two animal skulls, tied to the entrance posts. Is that a cow's skull? Dyer grimaces politely. "It's a horse," he says, before proceeding to tell me how to make a roundhouse.

The ingredients are: 27 large oak trees, 60 small oak trees, 100 hazel trees, 100 ash trees, wheat straw for thatching, and animal hair, clay, manure, soil and water for the walls.

You will also need animals. Dyer escorts me to his pigpen to meet two nameless pigs. To domesticate animals, he says, you just have to enclose them in smaller and smaller areas. Provide them with what they need - food, water and attention - and they will obey you. You can then eat them, and peel them, and tan their hides for soft furnishings. But beware of sheep, he says, waving a bright red finger. "I know this guy called Si," he says. "He approached a frisky ram. It jumped up and broke his nose." I am back at Death by Sheep.

I telephone the psychologist Cecelia De Felice. I want to know if I will go insane in my new one-woman world, especially when faced with tasks such as chopping down 27 large oaks. "You will be in a state of trauma," she agrees. "You will quickly become lonely and paranoid. It is possible you will have a breakdown." And if I meet other survivors? Be cautious, she advises. "They too will be lonely and paranoid. Of course you are stronger in a group. But you do not know whether they will help you or just steal your resources. Trust no one."

I am (vaguely) confident I will not starve. But there is one other thing I am sweating over: nuclear power stations. Professor Alan Weisman wrote The World Without Us, a description of what he believes would happen to Earth if we all vanished. I call him. He says I am right to worry. Why? Because most nuclear plants are water-cooled. Water, he explains, in a dry, calm voice, needs to circulate around the reactors, or they will explode. If there were no humans to operate it, the plant would shut down automatically, and the water would be cooled with diesel fuel. For about a week. Then the heat from the reactor would evaporate and expose the core. "It will either melt down or burst into very radioactive flames," he says. So what would you do, Professor Weisman? "I would probably go to Canada," he says. "There aren't many nuclear power stations in Canada."

So, it comes to this. No matter how hard you try, Britain will probably become a nuclear wasteland. The snails that are your lunch will either die, or look very weird. So, again, what to do? My considered advice is this. You, Guardian reader, need to begin building a boat - a sailing ship, actually - to take you to - yes, Canada. Before you leave the city you should pause at a library and steal the entire boat-making and maintenance shelf. Canada may be your only hope of salvation. And that is as fitting an obituary for our civilisation as I can type. In The End, it turns out you don't just have to be the heroine of Survivors. You need to bloody well be Noah too.

Happy apocalypse.