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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction

Piggy-backing off of the Where there is no Doctor/Dentist: Free Download post, I wanted to also include this free download for your reference and survival library:
Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction
Written by the Remote, Austere, Wilderness, and Third-World Medicine discussion-board moderators (made up of physicians, medics and EMTs), this book’s origin came out of the misc.survivalism Usenet newsgroup back in the late 90s. It was originally written in response to recurring posts asking the same questions since many of the answers given were often wrong and occasionally dangerous.
This version, revised in 2005, is completely rewritten from the original 1997 version with some completely new sections added. It’s main purpose is to provide answers to commonly asked questions related to survival/preparedness medicine. It does a good job at providing relevant information not commonly found in traditional texts as well as directing you where to find more information.

Related posts:

  1. Where There is No Doctor and Dentist – Free Download

Awesome site for making old timey equipment for farm and house

Handy Farm Devices

Just one of the many items...

Homemade Water Cooler

It's a mighty nice thing to have a good supply of cold water at the barn when threshers, corn huskers, or hay harvesters are at work. A simple and effective arrangement can be made by using a flour barrel and a 10-gallon stone jar. Place the jar inside the barrel and surround it with charcoal, sawdust, or chaff, if nothing else is available. With a tight lid and a wet cloth spread over the top, water will keep ice cold in this arrangement. The uses of such a cooler may be multiplied to include keeping many things cool in the house.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Make Your Own Survival Bars

This article was originally posted at Adventures in Self Reliance
Apparently there are a couple of different recipes out there for these, we just used one I had been given by a food storage lady. Now, this was really a fun experiment, because there were 6 of us making these survival bread loaves, and of course they turned out 6 different ways. We’ll discuss what happened as we go through the directions.
2 cups oats
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 cup sugar
3 TB honey
1 3 oz package jello (orange or lemon)
3 TB water
Mix the oats, powdered milk, and sugar together in a bowl: A couple of us used regular oats, a couple used quick oats. I really don’t think it matters which you use–whatever you have on hand is fine.

In a medium pan mix water, jello and honey. Bring to a boil. We found that a rolling boil was better than just beginning to boil for the mixing step. I did not know why the recipe called for lemon or orange jello so we made some with raspberry and watermelon. When we tasted them, we figured the lemon or orange were specified due to the high amount of sugar in this recipe! The sweet jello bars were REALLY sweet when they were done!
One of us also mis-read the instruction email and mixed her jello in with the dry ingredients, so we just boiled water and honey at this step and it gave the final product a slightly different texture, but still worked.
Lemon jello barely boiling:

Raspberry jello at a rolling boil:

Add jello mixture to dry ingredients. Mix well. If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of water a teaspoon at a time. This is where it got a bit tricky. You want this to be dry, but it has to be moist enough to stick together, and this stuff is stiff!!! Spoons only work for about 30 seconds–you’ll end up cleaning your hands and smashing it all together that way (or you could use your mixer, I guess–why didn’t we think to do that???)
Add the water a little at a time–do NOT get impatient and just add a bunch of water! You’ll be able to stick it together lots easier, but the idea is for it to be dry so it will not mold in your car trunk like your kid’s leftover tuna fish sandwich…
Shape dough into a loaf about the size of a brick.Yeah, right. We had a couple of Martha Stewarts with us that were able to form lovely brick shaped loaves, I just wasn’t one of them. I don’t think it really matters what shape your loaf is–it’s not like you’ll be posting pictures of it on the internet or anything . . . I’m thinking if I do these again, I’m going to make smaller loaves anyway and just have 3 smaller loaves instead of one big loaf. I’m going to need a chisel to be able to eat any of this!
Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.Another recipe I found says to put it in the oven and dry at low heat. That might be better overall. Our loaves got a bit brown on the bottom and we had severe stickage to the pan (think melting/cooking jello+sugar), so you might spray your pan first. Here’s the loaves after they cooked. Okay, I know, they look just like the loaves before they cooked, but really, I didn’t just go to the other side of the pan and take a picture, these were the cooked loaves.

Cool. Wrap in aluminum foil to store.I do not know why you wouldn’t put it in a ziplock or something, but I guess maybe it stays dryer in the foil. Not sure about you all in humid climates–this probably wouldn’t last in foil–I think I’d maybe make sure it was really dry, then vacuum pack it with my foodsaver if I lived anywhere besides the desert!
This bread will keep indefinitely and each loaf is the daily nutrients for one adult (approx 2000 calories). This is what the paper says. My loaves are going in the back of my suburban when I get my car kit put together and we’ll see how long they last! This was not too difficult to make. I figured the cost of 1/4 of a #10 can of powdered milk at $2.00 (we got the powdered milk at $8/can–lots of places are more expensive than that) the jello at $ .50 (okay, mine was $.97 because I had to buy it at the little store here in town–jello is a non food that I don’t usually have in my food storage), the sugar, honey, and oats another $1.00 or so. So on the cheap end, these cost $3.50ish for 2000 calories, compared to $4.95 for 2400 calories of the commercial emergency food bars. These are larger and heavier than the commercial bars also. I will say however, that the orange jello brick (my personal favorite) actually tasted pretty good and not all processed and shortening (yep, a real word).
So there you have it. Making your own survival food bars from the goods in your food storage! And if you don’t want to eat it you could always use it as a doorstop! :)

This article was originally posted at Adventures in Self Reliance

Homemade Amish Egg Noodles

In my never ending quest towards self reliance, I purchased a cookbook, The Best of Amish Cooking  by Phyllis Pellman Good while I was visiting an Amish town in Pennsylvania.  This book has been, by far one of the best purchases I have ever made.  Everything in this cookbook is wholesome, filling and tasty, including the recipe for noodles.  Nothing beats the taste of homemade noodles, and the Amish have perfected this homestead favorite.
For those that have egg laying hens, this is a great recipe to use up those extra eggs you brought in.  The rich tasting dough is not as hard to make as it has been made out to be.  In fact, this author whipped up some noodles in less than an hour.  The recipe makes 1 pound of noodles, but the recipe can be divided in half for a smaller amount if needed.

 Homemade Noodles

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 3 c. flour (approximately)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
*Makes 1 pound
Beat the egg yolks and water together thoroughly.  Stir in the salt and flour to make a very stiff, yet workable dough.  *I added a few extra tbls. of water in mine to work the dough easier.
Divide the dough into four balls.  Roll each one out, making as thin a layer as possible.  Lay each one on a seperate cloth to dry.
When they are dry enough not to stick together, stack them on top of each other and cut them lengthwise into thin strips.  Then cut across the width of the cough to form thin strips, about 1 1/2- 2 inches long.

To Dehydrate Noodles:

Cut the noodle dough into strips and place in your food dehydrator for 5 hours or until the noodles are dried out.  Allow noodles to dry completely before storing them in an airtight container.

To Cook Noodles:

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Add 1 1/2 tbsp. salt and 1/2 lb. of noodles.  Stir frequently.  After water returns to boil, cook for 8-10 minutes.  Drain and serve.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Planning for Extra Mouths to Feed, by D.V.

Alas, BabylonImage via Wikipedia
As a regular reader of SurvivalBlog, I have found a fountain of information to be gleaned from the many great writings posted on here and wanted to quickly say thank you to all those who write in with their thoughts and experiences. 

What I wanted to share was something that I experienced recently.  I found in all my prepping and plans something I had not realistically considered.  I have considered the possibility of many scenarios for a long time but I think it has been in just the past few years that I have felt that things are rather precarious.   I guess one of the biggest things to influence me was my Grandmother, she would tell me stories of the Great depression and how the family managed to get by during the “lean years”.   Keeping her words and stories close to my heart I began more recently to really get my preps in line.  I have a very rural retreat property that someday I hope I can move to but in the mean time, I try to keep things on track here at home.  I have a small farm and I think it is coming along nicely toward being self sufficient but I actually feel we live a bit too close to a big city for me to view it as the retreat I would like it to be.  We raise chickens and goats and have a nice garden that I can most of the things out of it.  I put up a pretty nice amount of stored food. 
I thought I had already taken into consideration many scenarios and issues that might arise during tough times including family and close friends that might appear on my door step in an emergency, and while; some I am certain will come with some supplies, there are others… they are the scoffers that would undoubtedly show up just in time knowing we were prepared.  I thought I had covered all of this with my calculations and figures.   I thought about those I know and who would travel a great distance to arrive here and how much food would need to be stored.  I have lots of calculators to tell me how much of what I would need to sustain these extra people and I was seriously thinking I was in pretty good shape as far as being on a good track.
Until a few months ago, when all of a sudden we had a house full of people, all of whom were unemployed which meant they brought into the house little to nothing in the way of help for food, utilities or even in some cases labor around the farm. 

The first few weeks we would just make due and I would make what I could for meals with much of what I had here in the house augmented by frequent trips to the grocery.  Even still it was difficult to keep food on the shelves, things started to get sparse real fast and much to my chagrin I found that my preps were suffering under the strain of the added mouths to feed, Not only  could I no longer afford to add to my preps but they were dwindling at an amazing rate.  But the most frightening thought that came to me was if it all went this quickly all the while augmenting our needs with grocery store runs, what would happen when we could no longer do this? When there was nothing to be had at the grocery store?   This thought was very troubling for me and I began to feel woefully unprepared and foolish at thinking that this could be so easily a task to prepare for.  I found that this issue is much more complex than just putting up a few extra things for the unexpected house guest.

In my panic at watching my years of work disappear right before my eyes, I began to ferret away supplies to other parts of the house, I had a trunk which held my wedding gown for years, I moved the gown to a box and this trunk now became my new food storage area, my bedroom closet now held my liquor cabinet and ammo and even behind books on the bookshelf you might find a can of soup or box of Jell-O.  I at that moment realized the “why” of having some caches, I recalled that I had read in Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. The protagonist, Randy Bragg, had put away a trunk full of things and this motivated me to think more about how to put up these “Extra” things.  So as I began my hide and seek with food stuffs, I began to try to put things into these places but now with a clear organizational pattern.   I considered what each person was doing to contribute to the house  but when I spoke with our “guests” about our feelings with regards to the current state of things and the need for them to pitch in even if it were to only weed the garden, it turned out that often times they would scoff at our “doom and gloom” and avoid us or turn up missing when it was work time, but they never failed to be present when it was dinner time or when it came time for us to go to bed.  This is when they would “raid” the cupboard, which is how I discovered what was happening to the food.  There were a number of offenders that would pilfer from the cabinets when everyone was sleeping.  This brought me to my next realization, that you can’t expect that these guests will be honest.   If someone feels like they are not getting enough they will steal it.   I first thought I should lock the cupboards but that is so harsh.  It was then that I decided I would simply keep it all out of the cupboards and pull out what I needed as I needed it.  Having experienced this I have decided to permanently keep most of my food preps in stashes about the house noting the date the stash was established and in using these would completely empty the stash into the cupboard and replenish with a new date (rotating the food in larger quantities).  This is actually working well as I replenish an entire week or two’s  worth of food in an instant and it is just part of my regular shopping (which always includes a few extra of this or that as well) but now as I shop, I take all that I just purchased to the trunk or box, remove the contents of the cache and insert the “new” groceries and place the cached items on the pantry shelf, I then note the date of the switch and move the cache to the bottom of the list.

Add to all of this the little idiosyncrasies that come with cohabitation.  If you can, just imagine how annoyed I was that a whole roll of toilet paper that was used by only two people took only a matter of a day or two to disappear, I began to wonder what they are doing with it.  Eating it? Thankfully No, but  I came to find that my son’s girlfriend was using it to take off nail polish, makeup, wipe the sink off and anything else she wanted to wipe or dab.  Before I had even realized it twelve big packages of toilet paper were missing!  All I could think was: "Have any of you ever heard of a rag?"

This is but a small example of the usage and the lack of knowledge, but there are other things to ponder that we never thought of until it was staring us right in the face.  Like the septic system, ours, which is okay for about 4 people could not sustain with 9.  We were selling eggs from our 35 chickens but now we could not keep enough eggs in the house for some reason, all of these things made me think of the resources and strain additional people bring into the picture.

 Where this brought me was the realization that while one might think about the thief that comes to take your preps after the SHTF, whom we would of course promptly run off with our defenses.  And this is because we have taken a good bit of time thinking about how to keep these unsavory types out and how to keep our location safest.  But, how do we deal with freeloader family members?  The ones that show up on your door step tattered and sad looking, who will it be?   Your brother?  Your mother?   Your child?  These people will assume you have it all going on and will be looking to you to “fix” things for them. 
At some point in all this it dawned on me that this is a lesson I am to learn, that in all likelihood this is something that not might happen but will happen.  We will be overrun with friends and family that will be looking for what they view as salvation.  Granted there will be those who show up and you are glad to see because you know they will be less of an inconvenience and more of an asset.  But really, do any of us think that if our freeloader child shows up we will turn them away?  How could we?  So now what do we do with this dead weight?  Not to mention that after reading “"Patriots" by James Wesley, Rawles, I and few others realized that a group of like minded individuals would better weather such storms than those going it alone.  Well now, what is the rest of the group going to think of your freeloader relative?

I have taken some time to think these things through and a few conclusions came with amazing clarity.  First, I have discovered that, no, I do not believe that I or my fellow group members could turn away family.  So I began to think about how to handle the “freeloader”.  And a verse from 2nd Thessalonians comes to mind, from the New International Version Bible: For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10.) Going on that premise, I began a chore list where each person had chores to do each day, everyone was assigned a laundry day (which incidentally we removed the washer from the septic to a gray water area that we used to irrigate the garden) if a person failed to be bothered with laundry that day you were to either go dirty or go to the laundry mat.  Everyone had indoor chores as well as farm chores and this really made a difference in my irritation levels.  I would cook a generous meal we would all sit at and eat and then at the end of the day, everyone was locked out!!  Okay, okay I know this sounds awful, but we have the extra bedrooms in the basement which has a separate entrance and bathroom so they were only locked out of the kitchen, thus prevented the pilfering during the night.

It was amazing how quickly they began to get jobs and even moved out. Since this time I have thought about how to accommodate these people without alienating others in our group that will help to establish a set rule when it comes to the dynamics of a group and how to handle these unexpected persons.
We discussed ways to assign levels to each grouping of individuals that would best accommodate these people and the needs of the group while maintaining a clear hierarchy or chain of command.  Which I believe is important not only for the smooth running of things but also for each person to understand their role in things (no need for the alpha male or female instinct to take over).  While it is a bit cut and dry and I think in need of more work as there is always the exceptions to these things, here is what we are doing to best outline these persons, their needs and what they can offer in such times.
Level 1: the operations level this level is our main group!  These people have been working on our preps and skills for some time and are the ones with supplies and a specific skill set.  These people are the ones that we chat with, work with and plan with for the inevitability of SHTF.  Each person in this level has a clear idea of their role and expectations in the eventuality of bad days.   No expectation need be set.
  • The property owner
  • The skilled expert
Level 2: this level is the persons that have not actually become part of the group but are still well ahead of the curve with their preps and needed skills.  Each person in this level is most likely the "go-it-aloner" who did not want to get together, but found that for any number of reasons they need to ally themselves with a group.  While these people will most likely be an asset a skills assessment and work allotment will be necessary.
  • Family member with skill & prep
  • Other persons with skill and prep
Level 3: This level is the persons that show up with either some kind of preps or skills but not typically both, minimal need or very willing to work.  Each person in this level has something they can offer even if it is to weed the garden and while a family member will be given preference, there are no guarantees the other persons can be accommodated or integrated.
  • Family member
  • Other persons
Level 4: comes knocking with neither skills nor preps but is family, this person is typically the freeloader and will not work or offer anything.  While I believe it is necessary to do for ones family, it will also be the family members that must pick up any slack or share their food and things with this person.
Level 5: comes knocking with neither skills nor preps  - a refugee (frankly this level, would most likely be sent on their way with a couple of cans of food and some water. )
Each person will need to be assessed to determine where they can best fit in with the group and if they want to eat they will work. Anyone can weed a garden.  Everything is to be done using the level system.  However you choose to utilize it, the insurance that those who “show up” will do their share is important to the whole group, no one wants to just give away their hard work and will resent it if they have to especially if it is not even their family. 
I found that while we had our “guests” visiting there were some things that I could recognize as qualities that would be useful, my other son’s Girlfriend could eat more than anyone I had ever seen before in my life and was sneaking food all the time and this was profoundly distressing for me, however I began to see she loved to work in the garden, tending it fastidiously.  Once I locked up the food I began to see her as an asset more than a liability.  I believe that everyone can pull their own weight if they have to but I would hate to have my sister arrive on the door step with family in tow barking out demands to someone simply because her family owns the land.  With a system that clearly defines a role of each person, each person can be a useful integral part of the community without the strife the can often follow!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

We do a lot of canning here.  And the thought has always followed that in an emergency situation, canning things would be impossible without a good supply of canning lids.  The jars and rings can be re-used, but the lids are supposedly a one time use deal.  So we stock canning lids in the food storage.  A bunch of them.  But even those will eventually run out and then canning as a preservation method is done.

So one day, sweet husband got searching the internet (which is usually a dangerous thing) and found Tattler Reuseable canning lids and of course we had to give them a try.  The Tattler company was gracious enough to send me some wide mouth and some regular mouth lids to review.  I used them to can blueberry jam.  I'll post the blueberry jam tutorial later, today we're just discussing the very cool lids.

The lids come in 12 packs, just like regular canning lids.  Tattler also offers bulk pricing on them.  Each lid is two pieces, the white plastic "lid" and the rubber ring gasket.  You will need to have the screw on metal band that came with your jars if you bought them new.  The bands are also available from Ball/Kerr as boxes of lids with bands.  If you've been canning for a while you probably have plenty of the bands around. 

The Tattler lids are available for regular or wide mouth jars and fit all standard canning jars like Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, etc.  And at approximately $7.00 per dozen regular mouth and $8.00 per dozen wide mouth, it will only take 2-3 uses to make them less expensive to use than the standard canning lids.

So here's the instructions for using them:

Prep your jars as usual (wash, sterilize, etc.).  Put the Tattler lids and rubber gaskets in a pot of hot water and heat almost to boiling.  The box says "scald lids and rubber rings".

Now, their box says to leave the lids and rings in the hot water until you're ready to use them, but the little printout instructions they sent said to take the rings out and let them cool before using them, leaving the lids in the hot water.  I didn't read the box until after, so I took the rings out and let them cool.  I'll have to try the next batch leaving the rings in the water.

When you've got your food in your jars, wipe the rims of the jars, stick the rubber rings on the lids and put the lids on the jars.  Use the screw band to tighten it all up.  So far so good, right?  Pretty much like using any other lid except for the part of having to assemble them before putting them on the jar.

Now, here's something new.  After you've got the lid screwed on, turn the metal band back 1/4 inch.  That's one quarter of an inch, not one quarter turn.  It doesn't turn back very much, just a little bit.

Now the jars are ready to process in your canner.  These lids are supposed to work for either water bath or pressure canning.  I'll try pressure canning something with them another time.  Jam goes in the water bath canner, so that's what we did.  Process your food however that food is supposed to be processed.  This jam was in the canner for 10 minutes.

When the jars are done processing, here's the other change.  TIGHTEN the lids up when you pull the jars out of the canner.  Regular lids you don't tighten when they come out of the canner, but these lids you tighten.

Let them cool at room temperature and the lids kind of suck down.  I was a little thrown off by there being no "popping" sound, but they did look sucked down when they were done cooling.

To open the bottle, use a butter knife (nothing sharp) and stick it between the rubber ring and the jar and you'll break the seal.  I had to take a lid off already because I wanted to give some jam to a friend, but didn't want to give them the lid.  Really, they wouldn't know what to do with it.  Okay, maybe after reading my post they would, but that's not the point.  The point is I took a lid off.

To use it again, Tattler recommends putting the ring on the opposite direction that it was the last time you canned with it.  You can see the little grooves the white lid leaves in the rubber ring if you look close--those will let you know which way to set the rubber ring next time.  The next two pictures show the rubber ring taken off the lid and turned over to show the grooves.  You can see the grooves better in real life than they are showing up in the pictures.  You might have to get your reading glasses out, but you'll be able to tell which way the ring went so you can turn it over next time.  (If you click the pictures they enlarge and you can see the grooves a little better.)

All my jars sealed fine.  I've got them in the food room with the other jams and jellies now.  Impressive.  Why didn't I hear about these lids sooner?  If I'd purchased them when I started canning it would have saved me a ton in purchasing lids over the years.  And fewer old lids in the trash can.  Plus it solves the problem of running out of lids in the emergency supplies.

Having canned for a long time, there are a few things I'll have to get used to when using these lids.
1. I can't just sharpie the product and date on the lid since I'll be re-using it.  I had to get labels out.
2. I'll have to can some things with regular lids to give as gifts since I really don't want to be giving my special lids away.
3.  I'll have to find a new method of storing my jars since right now I have way more jars than reusable lids, so screwing a lid on each jar to store it isn't going to work.
4.  I need a tote or something to keep the reusable canning lids in since I don't know how many times I'll be able to just put them back in their original box before the box falls apart.

None of those things are worth too much though when you consider the longevity of the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids and not having to worry about your lid supply if there is no more grocery store deliveries.

A few more notes about the lids that might be of interest: They are BPA free, made of FDA and USDA approved materials, dishwasher safe, and indefinitely reusable.  The rubber rings are supposed to last 20 years or more before needing replaced.  Definitely worth looking into.

I'll be canning a few more things with my samples, then picking up some more of these for our canning supplies.  What do you think?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wallet Urban Survival Tricks

Follow up from my post from yesterday on Urban Pocket Survival Kits. Check that out first if you haven't already read it.

So, after trying to make an standalone urban PSK work, I realized that I could actually just combine most of the contents into a wallet - something I already pretty much have to carry every time I leave the house. Here's what I've come up with so far, which is by no means final and by no means the end-all-be-all. These are ideas for a starting point-- some may or may not be useful to you. Oh, and know your local laws. Anyways, check it out.

This is an Eagle Creek bifold I've had for years. Pretty average, non-descript wallet. I could have just loaded up one of those giant Maxpedition/Spec Ops wallets, but that's too easy, and too bulky to actually carry around anyways.

Comparison shot next to an iPhone 3GS. The wallet's a bit thicker, but not too much. Easy for me to front pocket carry.

Wallet opened. You can see there's still plenty of space in left here and it looks pretty mundane and average. Most of the various card slots have room for cards in 'em. 
Top view to give you an idea of the thickness. Still looks pretty mundane, huh?
Contents of the wallet's currency pocket - a Shivworks Lil' Loco, a ferro rod and a half-spool of Kevlar survival cord from SerePick. The Lil' Loco's kydex sheath is pinned into the wallet and the knife can be drawn quickly, one-handed. There's about 8-10 feet of cord on the spool - it is very strong and has a 135lb test strength. There's still plenty of space for currency or whatever in this pocket.

Moving to the next card slot in the wallet: SIM Card to another cell network, 2GB MicroSD card, baggie with water purification tablets and $125 in emergency cash ($100, $20 and $5 bills). The SIM Card is backup in case there's problems with my normal network (network outage, no signal, want to call from a different phone #), the MicroSD card is encrypted and loaded with some important documents, PDFs, etc. It will probably turn into a more common SD card or maybe a micro USB drive - something that's more universal to use/doesn't require an adapter.

Next slot forward, two small zip ties, a safety pin and a set of SerePick stainless bogota picks, held together by a small spring from a mechanical pencil. The safety pin can be used to attach the picks to you clothes, concealing them pretty much wherever. Don't remember where I saw this trick, but it's a good one. The bogotas are awesomely made and small enough to hide pretty much wherever. This stuff takes up minimal space in the slot, so there's still room for a couple cards.

Standalone shot of the picks.

In one of the credit card slots: a piece of hacksaw blade (idea from snakedr666), a Mastercard gift card and a prepaid phone card. The hacksaw works surprisingly well at cutting a variety of materials. The gift card works basically just like a credit card and is for use at a sketchy place I'm concerned might try some funny business or have lackluster security measures(run down gas stations/convenience stores, websites I haven't shopped with before, etc.). I've had credit card #'s stolen twice, and while the situation has always been quickly resolved, it's still frustrating. Phone card is for making international calls, payphone calls, whatever. I've written the cards' expiration dates on them.

And in another one of the card slots: two more safety pins, P38 can opener, and gorilla tape wrapped around one of those little keychain membership cards. Still room in this slot for a card to two as well.

Group shot. It looks like a lot of stuff, but it's all pretty flat and small, and fits in without too much trouble. Like I said, there's still plenty of room for all the actual wallet contents.

Not pictured - a couple bandaids that I forgot about until now.

So, there you have it -- my take on an urban PSK. Even if you've got no interest in adding this much stuff to your wallet, you can take some of the ideas and tricks and apply them to your own situation.

The hacksaw blade is super thin and handy, and you can pick up two for like $3 at a hardware store. If you're into lock picking, the bogotas are awesome and just disappear in your wallet. There are even smaller ferro rods that likewise disappear along the side of a credit card slot. The Loco is pretty cool, but there are lots of other designs out there that would work, like the credit card style blades from Spyderco, Microtech, Snody and others, I'm sure. Heck, even a razor or exacto blade could be handy.

I really like using a wallet vs. a standalone kit for a number of reasons. It's a pretty painless addition to an EDC rotation; you've got to carry your wallet anyways, why not add some extra, useful tools to it? It's also pretty grey man - everyone carries a wallet, so it's not going to raise any eyebrows or draw unwanted attention. If someone mugs you and takes your wallet, then you're out all of this extra gear, too. If you're concerned about getting mugged, maybe take a look at a money belt - you could conceal most of this gear in one without too much trouble.

I will have more detailed posts about the Lil' Loco, bogota picks and survival cord in the near future. Keep an eye out.
I'm still thinking this through and refining--planning on adding a mini pen of some kind and maybe a pre-threaded needle. Thoughts, suggestions and ideas are welcome in the comments.

Advanced Prepping 101 - Part Two - Long Term Shelter

Your home will generally be the safest and most comfortable place to stay in most emergency situations but an extended power outage can quickly change your home into little more than a big, dark box. Without the necessary power for cooling, heating, to run appliances or to furnish lighting, you might need to seek other options. This could include an extended visit to relatives or a stay at a hotel or motel that could be even more costly. The loss of power for a few hours is often quite manageable for the majority of people but an extended power outage could become a life threatening situation that could eventually force you to leave the safety and security of your home until the power is restored to the grid.
Having a home power generator can help you in numerous ways if an extended power outage occurs. There are several options when doing some advanced prepping to help cover your needs when a loss of grid power strikes.
The first option is a portable home generator and is probably the most affordable for the average person. While most portable home generators are not large enough to power everything in your house, but they can be used to keep a few items (like your freezer) functioning until power is restored. There are many types available that run on a variety of different types of fuel and most can be easily hooked up during an emergency.
The second option is a stationary home generator that can be hooked up directly to your home power system through a power transfer switch that can be set to start automatically during a power outage. These systems are quite a bit more expensive and usually require a direct connection to a long term fuel supply.
A third option is to include solar power as a back-up. Solar systems that can satisfy your total power needs can also be quite expensive but a small solar back-up system can offer you another option for maintaining your power needs during an emergency.
One of the things that will take you beyond the basics when being prepared is to have some means to re-establish power to what will be your best form of long term shelter… your home.
You can download a free guide for the safe use of a home power generator here:
Using a Generator During Power Outages

Staying above the water line!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food for Long-Term Survival, by Sheila C.

Preserved food in Mason jarsImage via Wikipedia
Many food strategies have been discussed in preparation for a TEOTWAWKI scenario: beans, rice, MREs, coupon-based purchases and heirloom vegetable seeds, just to name a few. However, there are certain limitations to a food-storage-only strategy. MREs, for instance, are quite expensive and only provide one meal at a time. They would be great for an emergency G.O.O.D. situation, but not long-term sustainable when you are packing everything you have in the world on your back. And beans and rice are wonderful staple foods, but what do you do when you run out of them… or worst case scenario happens and you have to flee your refuge? I have to admit, I have a considerable supply of beans and rice and heirloom seeds, but I also have many years’ experience preserving food and developing meal plans for backpacking. I have found that there are numerous ways to preserve food with contingency plans. I have a passion for food, and in this article I am going to discuss approaches to raising, harvesting, and preserving various types of food with flexibility in mind.
Several years ago, while on a backpacking trek with my teenage son, I concluded that the little pre-packaged backpacking foods were not going to meet our needs. We had just spent a good part of the day hiking over the top of a rugged mountain, and were ravenous. I prepared one of those expensive backpacking meals on our little stove while my son setup camp. As we finished up with “dinner”, my boy looked over at me and asked, “Is that it? There’s nothing more?” Suffice it to say, it was time for a change.

Since then, I 've looked at food a bit differently when I buy storage foods. I think of dehydrated foods as backpacking food and I imagine how I will use it in meals on a trek. I also look at much of my planning for food storage with the thought that I may need to carry some of that food on my back someday, and how to make it lighter. So in spite of my thousand-or-so Mason jars, I always look at food preservation as a multi-faceted process – some of the food will be preserved to use at home, while some will need to be light and ready to go.

In a long-term survival situation, protein and fat are two of the most important sources of nutrition, especially for athletic people. Carbo-loading can only take you so far, and then your body will have to start breaking down muscle for energy. Meat and fish are some of the best sources of protein and fats. On my little farm, I have some chickens, goats and cows. I also live in an area where there is an abundance of wildlife. Today, most meat is preserved in the freezer, with some being jerked or canned occasionally. However, if there were to be no power, how would this vital resource be preserved? Although I have many canning jars, my strategy for meat will be smoking and drying. While I may can a few jars of meat, I will be more interested in keeping those jars for fruits and vegetables, and here’s why – re-hydrated meat in stews and some dishes can be almost as good as fresh, and it makes more sense to me to have it in its most condensed form. I have been using jerky in backpacking dishes for several years. It is light, easy to work with, has good flavor, and it provides that very important protein we need when climbing rugged mountains.

There are many ways to “jerk” meat. While the most important additive is salt, a good jerky mix with spices and seasonings is hard to beat. I have stockpiled some good seasonings, and I also grow garlic, onions and peppers that could be used if I run out of my supply. I try to buy another carton of Morton’s salt every time I go grocery shopping (at the cost of around 50 cents). My family uses a propane smoker for fish and jerky today. However, propane may be difficult to obtain in a TEOTWAWKI situation. The Native Americans sun-dried the bison and other wildlife they preserved for their winter food. Sylvan Hart (The Last of the Mountain Men) had a space between his fireplace and the rock wall behind it that he used for smoking meat. There are many ways to make jerky, and I anticipate my strategy would change some if I did not have access to modern conveniences, so I have developed several crude backup plans for drying meat. For instance, apple wood is abundant in my area, and I would use the coals from an apple wood based fire along with mason’s screen I have on hand for makeshift drying racks over the burning coals. Or I could use those screens with thinly-sliced pieces of marinated meat in the sun. I feel that I may need to improvise, based on the conditions of the world around me.

Last year, on one of my backpacking adventures, I forgot to bring the fuel for the backpacking stove. We improvised and cooked all of our meals over the fire on a small aluminum grill I carry tied to the back of my pack. I was amazed at how well I could control the heat (with a bit of effort) and how tasty the fish were when we cooked them directly over the fire. I had to be careful not to leave them over the fire too long or they quickly began to dry out. It was this experience that got me to thinking about how an efficient little drying system could be “McGyver-engineered” on the fly. I started looking around at things I have at home, and thinking about what could be used and how. My point is that there is sun, wind and fire available in most scenarios, and a person may need to get by with some ingenuity.

When I plan my backpacking meals, I always include some type of jerky-meat as the base. That teenage boy of mine can really eat, and he needs his protein. I usually try to make one-pan meals, and I start with water and jerky. I have noticed that high-quality jerky re-hydrates better. It usually takes about 20 minutes of low heat and water for the jerky to start “plumping” up, as it re-hydrates. It is at this point that I begin adding other dehydrated ingredients to the dish, because the jerky seems to take the longest to re-hydrate. The flavors in the jerky need to “jive” with the flavors of the dish, so I plan accordingly. Presently, I buy various types of jerky to match my meal plans – turkey, chicken, spicy-chicken, and beef – but I have also developed ideas about how to flavor homemade dried meats in order to be cooking ready. When I have prepared a meal, it is a solid meal and the boy is full. And it costs me less, takes up less space and is lighter than most of the fancy backpacking meals.

Last winter I used some venison jerky to make a stew in a Dutch-oven on my woodstove. I just wanted to see how it would turn out. While it was not the same as fresh venison, it turned out nicely and it made a good meal, even in the world of modern conveniences. I spent a large amount of time experimenting with woodstove cooking last winter and found that there are a lot of possibilities for food drying. If I needed to dry meat in the winter, I would use a set of racks over the woodstove. I also found that some meat tasted better when wrapped in foil and cooked inside the woodstove, so I believe there is good potential for using the inside portion as a drying mechanism as well.

Many people still prefer canned meat, and I will probably want to can some meat if I do not have the option of my freezer. For canning of meats, it is important to note that they MUST be done with the aid of a pressure cooker in order to be safe for consumption. I have eaten a number of very tasty dishes prepared with meat from a Mason jar. Canned meat has a long history in our civilized world, so I would never dismiss it as irrelevant. It can be a delicious substitute to fresh and dried meats. I have decided to limit canning meat because I like the flexibility that dried meat provides, and I love canned fruits and vegetables, so I will be keeping most of my jars for them.

I try to raise a good variety of vegetables in my garden, for both fresh veggies and for the seeds. I don’t really need the seeds right now, but it makes me feel good when I can plant something I grew last year, and it comes up and produces what I expect it to. My seed harvest is pretty simple, I leave some of the plants to go to seed and harvest them when they are mature and dried. I have some beans that will be harvested as “green beans” and I have some that I vine-dry for a mature bean harvest. Apparently (according to Mom) home-canned green beans can cause botulism if not canned in a pressure cooker. Mature beans take a lot of work to produce a pot of beans. Dried beans have to be hulled after they are picked in their dry shell from the vine. However, the work is worth it to me because they will fit nicely into a backpacking meal if need be and they are easier to store.

I also raise a substantial quantity of tomatoes. Tomatoes are almost a staple food for me, as they have great nutritional value and are used for the base of a large amount of my home recipes. I prefer canned tomatoes for most of my recipes; however, sun-dried tomatoes work nicely in a pinch and are a preferred ingredient for some of my Italian dishes. Tomatoes are another vegetable that people will tell you to use a pressure cooker for canning. I grew up canning, and we canned a lot of tomatoes without the pressure cooker, but I understand that botulism is not a pleasant experience. I was told as a child that we were supposed to boil the tomatoes from a home-canned jar for 10 minutes before we tasted them. Apparently that worked, because I never have experienced botulism.

Most vegetables can be dried and re-hydrated well, but there are many of them that really don’t do well being canned. Summer squash is a vegetable that dries well but I have yet to see someone can it in a way I would want to eat it later. Canned corn is pretty good, but dried corn is also good and can be a versatile ingredient for one-pot dishes. I was a child of the hippy generation, so I grew up tending a huge garden. We let some sweet corn dry in the husk and then hulled it. We ground some of it for corn meal and it made the yummiest cornbread I have ever tasted. We also re-hydrated some of it, and while it was not that great by itself, it tasted good in a dish with other veggies. We also dried peppers, onions and carrots for stews and flavorings. In the summer, we had large screens full of fruits are vegetables drying in the sun almost constantly. Dried vegetables are a good source of nutrition and easier to store and transport.

The root vegetables are the easiest to preserve if you are not on the move. Potatoes, carrots, beets, and onions all do well if you store them in a cool dry place (preferably a basement). In the old days, people built “root cellars” that were made for precisely this storage need. They were below the earth’s surface and therefore did not freeze during the winter and stayed cool during the summer. I lived in an old farmhouse as a kid that had a “Cadillac” of root cellars, encased in a nice concrete form with a fancy little roof on it. I think the less fancy root cellars were probably more functional, but we had a lot of space for stuff and it was somewhat clean. However, my present day root storage plan involves a dugout place in the crawl space under my house. It is the best I can do without a basement or a formal root cellar. In short, root vegetables will last for the longest if they are kept cool, dry, and away from light. Root vegetables can also be dehydrated for the backpacking adventure.

For me, there is nothing quite like a wonderful jar of peaches in January. I grew up with a fairly big orchard operation, and while I developed a resentment of canning, I also developed a lifelong love of canned fruit in the winter. Scurvy was a terrible problem for early settlers because they went for long periods of time without access to Vitamin C. Fruits are wonderful sources of Vitamin C, as well as many other essential nutrients. I think I would probably fill most of my Mason jars with fruit if I did not have the sense to stop myself. If you want to get the most Vitamin C, apricots are where it is at. They are reported to have one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C and other antioxidants that support the immune system. Fruits are also less “dangerous” to can, in that you do not need a pressure cooker to make them safe. However, do not forget to dry a bunch of fruit in case you have to carry them in a backpack. Fruit really is (in my humble opinion) the most flexible for preservation and the most fun to enjoy.

An older woman friend of mine (a master gardener) recently said, “I am a home maker – wherever I am, I make it a home because I provide food and comfort. This is what makes a home, so I am a home maker.” That statement resonated with me because it is so real for now and in any situation we may face in the future. I make it my priority to understand food from as many angles I can because I am a home maker, regardless of where that home may be (backpacking, living in my little retreat, or running for my life). I believe the world could use more home makers.

Preserving Herbs

MarjoramImage via Wikipedia
Most of my herb garden has bolted to seed in the summer heat, but that’s OK. I have a lot of herbs harvested and preserved for this season. When the herbs revitalize in the cooler fall weather for the Little Harvest, I will preserve even more herbs.
A lot of people ask about preserving them, when to harvest and how to keep them.
I’ve done it automatically for so many years I hardly think about it anymore: toss the seed onto the ground, water it, watch it grow, pinch and snip for fresh and when it gets big or bushy, cut larger bits to preserve, let some go to seed to collect seed for next year’s harvest – except for the herbs that take two years to grow and harvest, like parsley.
Most herbs grown for their foliage can be harvested in small amounts for fresh herbs throughout the growing season as soon as they are large enough to sustain such harvesting, and should be fully harvested before they flower. Pinching back the flowering buds can extend the harvest season and increase the bushiness of the plant, giving a larger harvest. If you wish to save the seeds, go ahead and let a few herbs flower and harvest the rest. If you want a second fall harvest from them, pinch back the seed heads but let the plant bolt a bit during the hot months, when the weather cools, the plants will refoliate and can be harvested until frost. (Basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, thyme…)
Herbs harvested for their seeds go through three stages: green seeds, brown seeds, gray seeds, before the seed heads shatter and scatter. Harvest when they are brown or gray, before they shatter. (Dill, fennel, caraway…)
Herbs harvest for their flowers should have the blossoms harvested just before full flower if you’re harvesting them for the petals (for candying and salads) and crafting. If you’re harvesting the flowers for oils and pastes and syrups, harvest just after the buds open when they have their most intense flavor. (Borage, chamomile, violas, nasturtiums, squash blossoms…)
Herbs harvested for their roots should be harvested in the fall after the foliage fades, so mark them if you’re wildcrafting. Even if they’re in your garden, pushing in a stake beside them will help you find the root when you dig. (chickory, dandelion, ginseng, goldenseal…)
Tarragon and lavender should be harvested in early summer and sheared to half their height to encourage a second fall bloom.
Perennial herbs can be harvested until a month before first frost. Prune and do a final harvest then, so there won’t be any tender new growth when frost arrives.
Most herbs get dried and stuffed into small jars. Others do better preserved as a paste, and still others do well as syrups. Freezing is a less than palatable option but acceptable for herbs that will be used in soups, stews, and sauces. Freeze-drying is an option but not easy for most home growers.
Drying Herbs:
During the herb harvest season, I’ll have bundles of herbs drying from various locations. Some of my bookshelves are industrial metal shelving with holes on the upright supports, and these are perfect for hanging herb bundles. I also fasten string to hooks in the ceiling and hang coat hangers from them – each coat hanger can hold 3 -5 bundles of herbs. My chandeliers and ceiling lights are perfect for suspending bundles of herbs.
I bundle a few stems (no more than a pinkie’s width on normal sized human hands – on mine, that’s thumb sized – about 4 – 6 stems) and fasten them with a rubber band, then slip a bent paperclip through the rubber band, on hook holding the herbs, one hook slipped into the holes of the bookshelves or over the string or chandelier or coathanger. There they hang until crisply dry, usually 2 – 4 weeks, when I crumble them over a sheet of paper and use that to funnel the herbs into their jars. I use old spice bottles I buy at flea markets and garage sales or half pint mason jars. For massive amounts of herbs, I may use quart mason jars.
Oven Drying: Arrange cleaned herb stems in a single layer on a cookie sheet with temperature set at 180° F. Heat for about 4 hours, keeping the oven door open the entire time (to let moisture escape). Stir herbs occasionally during this heating process. Store herbs in airtight containers once fully dry.
Cool air drying: Wash and dry herbs. Layer a cookie sheet with paper towels and then arrange herbs in a single layer. Place in the refrigerator and remove once herbs are completely dried (check daily).
Seed Drying: Tie a paper bag loosely around the seed heads, then hang to dry – about 3 – 5 weeks. When dried, shake the bags to release the seeds, then pour the seeds into a jar.
What herbs do I dry?
Bachelor button flowers
Calendula flowers
Cedar tips
Chicory root
Dandelion root and blossom
Hibiscus flowers
Hop flowers
Jasmine flowers
Kudzu root
Lemon balm
Lemon verbena
Raspberry leaves
Rose hips
Yarrow flowers
How to freeze herbs:
Wash and paper towel dry herbs. Mince the herbs with a knife, not in a food processor. The food processor minces it too fine. Spread out on a baking sheet and freeze. When the herbs are frozen, put them into a re-sealable freezer bag with as much air squeezed out as possible. When you take herbs out, squeeze out the air before re-sealing and putting the bag back into the freezer.
Frozen herbs are only suitable for cooking.
The basic herb paste recipe is:
4 cups herbs
¼ cup vegetable oil (olive oil, cold-pressed nut oil, sesame or safflower oil…)
In a food processor, I pulse these until a paste is formed, drizzling in small amounts of additional oil as needed. Some herbs need more than others. It makes between ½ and ¾ cup of paste. You can freeze them in ice cube sized dollops, or store them in tight sealing jars with a small amount of oil poured on top so no herb sticks up.
What herbs make good pastes?
Lemon herbs (basil, mint, balm, grass, verbena…)
Celery leaves
Rose petals
Pelargonium leaves
Herb syrups are also a good way to preserve herbs.
Approximately 1 ounce of fresh herbs
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups raw sugar
Mix the water and sugar into a saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a rich boil, then remove from the heat and add the herbs. Use a spoon to bruise the herbs against the side of the saucepan. Cover the saucepan and let the herbs steep for 30 minutes. Strain out the herbs and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible from them, then discard the solids. Transfer the syrup to a sterilized jar or bottle. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator. It can be frozen for up to 10 months. It can be processed in a pressure canner and stored away from light for several years.
What herbs make good syrups?
· Anise hyssop: 6 to 8 sprigs with flowers, or a handful of flowers
Basil: 6 to 8 sprigs of anise, cinnamon, green or lemon basil; flowers are good
Bay: 10 to 12 leaves
Bergamot: 6 to 8 sprigs, or handful of flowers
Calendula: Petals only from 10 to 12 flowers
Chamomile: Large handful of flowers
Elderflower: 6 to 8 flower heads
Ginger root: 5 or 6 thin slices of peeled root
Lavender: 10 flower spikes or 1 tablespoon of flower petals
Lemon balm, lemon thyme or lemon verbena: 8 to 10 sprigs
Mint: 10 to 12 sprigs of orange mint, peppermint or spearmint
Rose: 1 generous cup of petals
Rosemary: 5 or 6 sprigs
Sage: 4 common sage sprigs; 6 fruit-scented or pineapple sage sprigs; flowers, too
Scented geraniums: 12 to 15 leaves, or handful of flowers
Sweet woodruff: 1 generous cup small sprigs and/or flowers
Tarragon: 6 to 8 sprigs
Vanilla: 1 bean, halved and split lengthwise
Violas: 1 generous packed cup violets, Johnny-jump-ups or pansy petals
Salt Drying
Fresh herbs
Kosher salt
OK, you can probably use any salt, but I prefer kosher salt because it’s flakier and seems to dry the herbs faster. Layer fresh herbs (cleaned, air dried, unbruised) between layers of salt, covering the herbs completely. Leave them until the herbs are thoroughly dried, about 3 – 4 weeks. Shake the salt off and store the herbs in airtight containers. The salt can then be used as a seasoning, so you get dual use out of this method. You can mix different herbed salts together – leave some of the dried herb in the salt to both look pretty and boost the flavor a bit. Most any culinary herb can be dried this way.
Sugar Drying
Fresh herbs
I prefer raw or turbinado sugar for this. Do not use brown sugars or powdered sugars or stevia or artificial sugars. Granulated white sugar is good, too, if you use it. Layer the fresh, cleaned and dried, undamaged herbs with sugar, covering the herbs completely. Leave them until thoroughly dried – about 3 – 4 weeks. Shake the sugar off and store the herbs in airtight containers. The sugar can be used to sweeten beverages and in cooking or baking. Use sweet herbs for this type of drying: mints, violas, lavender, roses, vanilla beans, pelargonium leaves.
1 ounce of herbs
1 stick of softened butter
Chop herbs and mix with butter to taste. Divide up into single serving pats or cube sizes large enough for cooking. Freeze. Be sure to label them because if you make lots of different herb butters, they will all look the same once frozen. Thaw the single serving pats before serving, but the cooking cubes can go frozen into the pot or pan.
3 – 5 5” sprigs of herbs
8 ounces light vegetable oil (sunflower, safflower, olive, peanut…)
Rinse off the herbs and allow them to dry thoroughly. Slightly bruise the herbs and put them into the sterilized bottles. Heat the oil on low, just until warm. Pour the oil into bottles, over herbs. Allow the contents to cool. Seal bottle with a lid or cork. Allow to sit in a cool spot out of direct sunlight, for about 1 week before using.
Strain out any fresh herbs. Dried herbs can remain in the oil, but the oil will stay fresh a bit longer if these too are strained.
Oils should be used within 2 months, maximum. Straining out the herbs and refrigerating will help the oil last longer, but not too much longer than 3 or 4 months.
Good choices for herbal oil infusions include: basil, bay, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory, tarragon, and thyme.
2 – 3 5” sprigs of fresh herbs (a single herb or a combination)
¼ cup dried herbs (single or combination)
1 cup vinegar
If using pungent herbs like garlic, onions, or peppers, use 1 clove or 1 small pepper per cup of vinegar – unless you’re making pepper sauce, then pack the jar with peppers, a garlic clove or two, a pearl onion or two, and then the vinegar.
To make: put the herbs in a sterilized jar. Gently warm the vinegar, then pour it over the herbs. Seal the jar and let it steep for a week or two. Strain out the herbs. If you want a decorative touch of herbs in the jar, add a fresh sprig or three of herbs to the jar.
Use these vinegars fairly quickly for maximum flavor. If kept in a dark cabinet, they can last up to a year.
Some vinegars are better with certain herbs, although any vinegar will work for most herbs.
White and white wine vinegar: borage, dill, savory, sage, basil, lavender, fennel, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, garlic, onions, peppers, chives
Red Wine Vinegar: basil, oregano, thyme, garlic, peppers
Cider vinegar: lovage, orange peels, raspberry, lavender blossoms
Alegar: peppers, garlic, onions, chives, sage, dill,
Rice vinegar: parsley, dill, savory, sage, rosemary, purple basil, tarragon, thyme, garlic
Use herbal vinegars for meat marinades, tomatoes or cucumber dishes, salad dressings, bean salads, potato salads, soups, stews, or sauces.