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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Make Your Own Pectin

Original Article - Off the Grid News

I am pretty excited!  I made my own pectin  - I love doing things like this - it makes me feel so giddy - this is how I felt the first time I made my own mentholatem (? on spelling).    Our apple tree's were covered in blossoms this spring and it froze.  Normally we get 15 to 20 bushels and this year we got about a bushel.  I made applesauce and with the innerds and the peelings I made pectin.  I LOVE IT!

 This is the first batch of pectin I got

I ended up having over 3 gallons of pectin so after I made jam I canned it this afternoon.
Thanks for stopping by! 

Today I am thankful for the pioneer.
They knew how to do all this stuff I am trying to learn about! 
They were amazing!
These are the instructions I used with the website link at the bottom.

Making Pectin From Scratch
Late summer and the coming fall means jam-making time at my house. Raspberry jam is my particular favorite, but I make a big stock of strawberry for my husband too. Jams and conserves are among the simplest canning projects to undertake. All you need is ripe fruit, sugar, and some form of pectin.

Jam-Making Basics

Old-timers relied on the pectin found naturally in fruit to thicken their jams through long cooking, and you can use this approach today if you like. Some fruits, like sour apples, blackberries, crab apples, and grapes, naturally have a lot of pectin, while apricots, peaches, pears, and raspberries tend to be low in pectin. To make jams and jellies without any added pectin, combine three parts ripe fruit with one part under-ripe fruit, which contains more pectin. I’’ve found this approach to be a bit unpredictable, and it requires a lot more fruit than fast cooking jam recipes. Another disadvantage is that the jam doesn’’t taste as fresh and fruity because of the long cooking time required.

Another option is to use commercial pectin, available in liquid and powder form. This pectin, found in hardware and grocery stores, is made from the white pith of citrus fruits. If you make a lot of jam, consider buying it in bulk. Another option is low-methyl pectin, available online in health food stores. This is a natural product, which appeals to many people, but you’’ll have to add calcium salt for it to gel. Jams made with low-methyl pectin taste very fresh because of the short cooking time needed, but they spoil more quickly and water tends to puddle in them.

Regardless of which form of pectin you buy, follow the directions exactly and don’’t double the recipe, and you’’ll end up with fairly consistent results. I prefer powdered pectin bought in a bulk container for most of my jam-making adventures.

Homemade Pectin

Once I mastered jam making, inevitably, I began wondering how I could make jam without the expense of buying commercial pectin. If you’’ve got access to apple trees, you can easily make pectin at home. Use the pectin just as you would commercial liquid pectin. Four cups of homemade pectin equals three ounces of commercial pectin.


Here are the steps for making homemade pectin:

. Pick several pounds of apples. Thinly slice them, but don’’t peel or core them. You can use any type of apple, including slightly green ones and those that are less-than-perfect. Young crab apples or Granny Smith apples work well. This is a great way to use up apples that have wormholes or other defects. Simply trim out the damaged areas.

. Combine the apples in a large stockpot with water at a rate of one pint water for each one pound of apple slices.

. Boil the apple slices and water for forty-five minutes, stirring occasionally.

. Line a colander with cheesecloth. Pour the apple slices and juice through the colander into a large pot or bowl.

. Return the apple slices to the stockpot and add more water, using the same measurements as before. Simmer over medium heat for fifteen to twenty minutes.

. Remove the stockpot from the heat and let set for ten minutes. Strain the apples and juice through cheesecloth as you did before into the bowl or pot.

. Gather the cheesecloth up tightly around the cooked apple slices to make a bag. Squeeze your bag, collecting any remaining juice into the bowl or pot. The combined juice is the homemade pectin. You should have one quart of pectin for every one pound of apples you cooked.

. Cover and refrigerate the pectin if you’’re making jams right away. For long-term storage, ladle the pectin into four-cup freezer containers, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Cover and freeze for up to three months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. You can also can homemade pectin. Pour it into quart jars, add two-piece lids, and process in a water bath canner for fifteen minutes.

Making Jam With Homemade Pectin

Homemade pectin looks and tastes a lot like unsweetened apple juice. Unlike commercial pectins, it can stand up to longer cooking times, so you have more flexibility. In fact, it’’s so flexible that you can make up your own recipes, based on individual preferences.

For example, a standard jam recipe usually goes something like this:

4 pounds fruit

2 cups sugar

1 quart liquid pectin

However, depending on the sweetness of the fruit, you can cut the sugar down quite a bit. You may also find, depending on the ripeness and amount of natural pectin in the fruit, that you need to add more pectin to thicken the jam. I usually combine the fruit and pectin in a large stockpot and boil it, stirring constantly for ten to fifteen minutes. Take a small spoonful of jam and place it on a plate. If it mounds up slightly on the plate, I know I’’ve got the consistency I like. I can then add the sugar and simmer five minutes more. If, on the other hand, the jam spreads all over the plate in a runny mess, I simply add more pectin and boil it again. If the jam tastes too tart, I just add a bit more sugar.

The thickening ability of the pectin varies from year to year, depending on the ripeness of the apples, as well as the varieties and your preparation. Just plan on experimenting a bit with each batch until your jam is perfect.

Quick Tip On Making Pectin

Here’’s another idea for saving apple pieces for pectin: Whenever you cut up an apple for fresh eating or cooking, save the peels and cores and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Store the bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, use the apple pieces to make liquid pectin. Also, once you’’ve cooked the apple slices down for pectin, run the apple pulp through a food mill to make applesauce or apple butter. What a great way to stretch your resources!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Presto vs. All American Pressure Canner


Well - I've had a year to use my All American canners and I am ready to give a review!  I bought my All American's at Lehman's on a trip to the States last year.  I've had a 23 quart Presto for many years so after that much time I have some opinions!

Each time I bought a canner I had a hard time deciding which size to buy.  Bigger?? Smaller?? What's the most practical?  Over time I have learned that there are good reasons for each canner and each size.

I'll start with the 23 Quart Presto.  I was able to order it though Home Hardware for around $150.00.  It wasn't far from home so I didn't have to pay shipping.  I hadn't even laid-eyes on a pressure canner in real-life before I ordered it so it was rather a blind choice based somewhat on internet reviews.  No one I knew in real-life pressure canned so I was on my own to figure it out and learn.  I remember how scared I was at first - ha ha!!  I've heard from many others who had the same experience and left the canner in the closet for a year or two before they screwed up the courage to try it.  Hasn't  everyone heard a story about a canner exploding all over the ceiling???  I'm sure it might be possible but if you follow the rules and let the canner de-pressurize before you open it - its IMPOSSIBLE!

My 23 quart Presto holds 7 quarts or 14 pints if you stack them in two rows.  It depends a little on the size of the pints - some older ones are slightly different sizes.  As far as I know this is the biggest size that Presto currently sells. The 16 Quart Presto holds 7 quarts or 9-10 pints. In comparison to the All American it's not too heavy - even when it's full.  It's safe to use on my glass top stove - or any other stove for that matter.  Mine (exactly as pictured except not as clean - or shiny) has a gauge and a weight and apparently you can get a "jiggler" for it.  I'll explain that later.  The seal which needs to be replaced every few years has held up for over 6 years with no problems. 

The down side of my Presto - I wish it was bigger.  If it was just a little taller you could double stack quarts in it - this of course would double your output. I also have trouble with keeping the pressure steady when I use it on my electric stove.  Up - down - waaaay up- waaay can't be more than a few steps away from it the whole time.  I've gotten used to it.  I would guess it would be more steady if it was on a gas stove due to the constant heat as opposed to the cycling nature of the electric stove.

The Presto has served me well and I expect to use it for many years to come.

My All American are absolute brutes.  I bought the canners at Lehman's for about $400.00 because I didn't want to pay shipping - they are very heavy!  I ones I bought hold 14 quarts and 19 pints - meaning you can process twice as much at a time as the Presto!  When I stood in the store second guessing my decision on which sizes because I was dazzled at the choices to buy - I chatted with a few women who were also looking at them.  I asked their advice hoping they would steer me in the right direction.  One woman mentioned that she didn't have help at home (no daughters or family) so she was happy with the smaller canner.  That seemed to make sense for her.  I debated for quite awhile but finally decided to GO BIG OR GO HOME.  I got two model 930 - 30 quarts.  All American's come in many sizes - there are is one size even bigger!!
All American's don't have a gasket.  They are metal on metal so there's nothing to wear out.  Closing the canner takes a little practise - you tighten the knobs a little at a time as you go around the canner so the lid stays level.  AA's also have a "jiggler" - that's what I call it. It's actually a regulator and it releases the pressure a little at a time so the pressure stays where it's supposed to.  Once you get the temperature right you don't have to fiddle with it like the Presto.

AA's can NOT be used on glass top stoves - they are too heavy.  I have a Chef King double propane stove - it's definitely my favourite "stove" for outdoor use.  I also have two kerosene canning stoves for indoor winter use.

So what's MY favourite?  By far the All American's.  I like to can lots at one time but I usually have help.  It depends a lot on what I am canning.  Some items require more preparation.  Canning 14 jars of most things wouldn't be too much in my home!  The quality can't be beat - they are heavy duty and are built so you can hand them down to your kids in your will - if they aren't tired of canning before then!

If cost is a factor - and when ISN"T it - I would buy the Presto first and save up for the All American to be purchased at a later date.  I have NEVER seen one for sale second-hand but if that option opened up I would be careful.  The gauge can be damaged and then the pressure would not be correct. I have still not been able to find a place in Canada where you can take the canner to have the pressure checked - if anyone knows please post it below in the comments.  

Pressure canning is a huge leap forward in being able to preserve your own food and make huge inroads into your food storage. You can process meat, soups, low acid vegetables and everything has ONLY what YOU put in it - no chemicals or preservatives - no impossible to read ingredients.  Healthy and delicious and FUN too - and I promise the canner won't blow up!  What'cha waiting for????

How Much Radiation Can You Take?

Original Article from Beyond the Wire

We all know radiation is dangerous and can have severe effects on the body; we only need to look at the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster or the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see their horrific effects. But how much radiation can a body take? Can you recover? And what are the signs and symptoms of radiation poisoning?
The first thing you have to understand about radiation is you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. The only time it will be visible is the fallout after a nuclear blast. This dust will have the appearance of dusty snow. Apart from that you won’t have any idea your in a radioactive zone without proper detection equipment.

So just how much radiation can the human body withstand? Here is a list giving you a basic idea of what to expect at what levels. All measurements here are calculated in RADS which is short for radiation absorbed dose.

5 RADS and under - No visible symptoms

5 to 50 RADS - Temporarily decreased red blood cell count (you’ll survive but will fee pretty ill)

50 to 100 RADS - Decreased production of immunity cells, you will be susceptible to infections, nausea, headache, and vomiting are common. With treatment you will survive.

150 to 300 RADS - Up to 35 percent of those who are exposed to radiation up to this level will die within 30 days. They will suffer nausea, vomiting and will lose all their hair

300 to 400 RADS - At this point your chances drop to 50/50 fatality rate after 30 days. Like the last level all the same symptoms will happen but with the addition of uncontrollable bleeding in the mouth, under the skin, and the kidneys

400 to 600 RADS - You have a 60 percent fatality rate after 30 days, symptoms like those at the 150 to 300 level starts to become visible in a couple hours after exposure

600 to 1000 RADS - Almost 100 percent fatality rate after 14 days. Your intestinal tissue will be severely damaged and almost all bone marrow will be destroyed

1200 to 2000 RADS - 100 percent fatality with immediate symptoms after exposure

2000 RADS and over - Symptoms set in instantly upon contact then will cease for several days, giving the victim a “false hope” that they are recovering. Suddenly gastrointestinal cells are destroyed and death will begin with delirium since the brain can’t function normally and starts to shut down.

If your interested in learning more about radiation poisoning I found this documentary on YouTube made by the BBC about the Chernobyl disaster and the following cover up the Soviet government used to try to try and down play the disaster.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book: Fight, Flight, or Hide. The Guide to Surviving a Mass Shooting

Here's another great read for you.

Sadly, we seem to be having more and more mass shootings these days.
If you are involved in one, do you know what to do?

Read this book and give yourself a chance to survive one.

Fight, Flight, or Hide. The Guide to Surviving a Mass Shooting

This book is an easy-to-read guide to surviving a mass shooting. Mass shootings are a tragedy, but we can prepare for them in the same ways that we prepare for every other disaster.

This book is a simple, easy read that will begin your preparations.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

5 Items to Have in Your Possession...That Aren't Associated With Your Name

Original Article

It is ridiculously easy to track people these days.  Chances are at least of a few of your possessions unobtrusively track your every move without you even realizing it.  You may want to consider making it a bit more difficult to be tracked by your possessions.

  1. Have an assortment of firearms that aren't purchased, registered, or otherwise connected to your name.
  2. Have a "burner" phone (a prepaid cell phone purchased with cash) and pre-paid "minutes" for your cell phone also purchased with cash (likewise, you don't want to log into your email or Facebook or otherwise associate yourself with the cell phone if you want to keep it truly private).
  3. Many new digital cameras will invisibly mark each photo with the GPS location of where the photo was taken.  You may want to disable this feature and of course, not include yourself in any photos taken.
  4. Basically everything you do on the internet allows you to be tracked either overtly (your every post on Facebook, your every utterance on Twitter) or covertly (browsing history, cache, and cookies on your computer).  Be sure to keep your computer/tablet as "clean" as possible or use an anonymous computer if necessary to avoid being tracked this way.
  5. Shield your everyday life.  Your address, where you work, the license plate on your car, the RFID chip in your passport, the tattoos on your arm...consider all of the ways that you can be tracked and identified then set to work to disconnect yourself from these entities (ie: have a ghost address, a car registered under a LLC, have location independent work, shield any item that contains a chip, remove--or better yet don't get--tattoos or permanent markings on your body).

Friday, April 5, 2013

The One-Year Pantry, Layer by Layer

Original Article

When planning for emergencies, layering is an ever-constant theme. I often emphasize when one begins to prepare that you start simply by preparing for small-scale emergencies, and then slowly begin adding onto those existing preps to create a longer term preparedness supply. These emergency layers help you create a reliable foundation, and the same layering approach can be used when creating a food storage pantry.
There are some emergency food considerations to keep in mind:
  • The amount of people in the household.
  • Have a good amount of food varieties to reduce food fatigue.
  • The serving size of the food.
  • Vitamin content in the food.
  • The expiration date or “best if used by” labels on the food.
  • Special health conditions for family members.
Additionally, these essential food pantry rules can come in handy when you decide on which food to purchase.

Your Food Storage Layers

Layer 1 (0- 72-hours) – In the onset of an emergency and the days following a disaster, the first food to go should be from the refrigerator. Keep in mind that refrigerated food will stay cold for four to six hours, assuming the door is left closed as much as possible. In a fully stocked freezer, foods remain safely frozen for approximately two days if the door stays closed. You want to use up your perishable foods first and then begin preparing your foods that are frozen. Plan meals to meet a 1500-2000 calorie diet that are high in nutrients. Once the perishable food has been consumed, it’s time to move onto your secondary layer of your emergency preps. A word of advice – have an ample supply of water on hand!
Layer 2 (4-30 days) - These emergency foods should consist of “just add water” meals or meals that do not require substantial amounts of water, fuel or preparation time. Having some canned, pre-packaged dinners, or  meals that are “ready to eat” during emergency scenarios will help you begin acclimating yourself to cooking in a grid-down scenario as well as to help provide some comfort at the same time.
Keep your family’s preferences, any existing health conditions and food allergies in mind when preparing this food storage layer. Another thought to keep in mind, is that a large amount of water will be needed to rehydrate some of these meals. Have a large amount of water stored or a means to filter water during an emergency.
Layer 3  (31-99 days) - I have often said that our preps are our life line. The items we choose should be able to carry us, not only through difficult times, but perhaps through impossible times as well. This layer of  pantry foods should consist of multipurpose, everyday pantry items. These foods are relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire. Keep food storage shelf lives in mind and regularly rotate these items in order to maintain a fresh food source. Further, having a fresh source of vitamins will help your body thrive during an emergency. Consider storing a supply of seeds for sprouting – they are cheap, easy to store and require minimal amounts of time for growth.
For those who are preparing for longer term or extended emergencies, at a minimum you should have a 3 month supply of food and build it up to a 6 month supply. This will be the beginning of your longer term food source, and re-packaging these food sources into more durable containers or packages will keep your food’s enemies away. Further it is a good idea to begin storing large quantities of foods that have extremely long shelf lives.
For a list of the 11 emergency foods items than can last a lifetime, click here.
Another method of bulking up on foods with long shelf lives is to invest in freeze-dried foods. These preserved foods have a shelf life of 20+ years! All you need to do is add hot water and voila!
Some foods to consider for longer term storage are:
Layer 4 (100-365 days+) –  If you find yourself in an emergency for over 100 days, it’s time to get real about the situation you have found yourself in. You must assume this could be your new reality. That said it is time to take steps toward long term survival. Having an understanding of essential skills, homesteading and gardening/farming concepts and learning ways to sustain yourself for the long term is of the utmost importance.
Micro livestock is a group of hearty animals that will help you make the most of smaller pieces of land. To read the pros and cons of this livestock choice, click here.  For those in suburban dwellings, consider chickens, rabbits and fish stored in aquaponic for a long-term food source.
As a prepper preparing for long term emergencies, you want to continue storing up foods mentioned in the last layer and add freeze-dried or dehydrated foods to your stockpile. Given that you are preparing for an extended or long term emergency means that you will also need to begin looking at ways to prepare or preserve food sources off the grid. Learning how to can, dehydrate and ferment foods will help you maintain your food supply. Moreover, to prevent malnutrition, you will want to concentrate on accruing essential food sources such as carbohydrates, protein sources, fats and essential vitamins and nutrients (see above list of food considerations). Having a vitamin source such as sprouting seeds or stockpiling multi-vitamins during this period will also ensure that you are providing your body with regular doses of needed vitamins.
During an emergency, we are often left to fend for ourselves. Having an ample supply of  emergency foods can help your family thrive during the most difficult of times. Take the time now to learn how to make the most of your food supply, learn pertinent skills and the importance of balanced diets and the lasting effects nutritious food has on our body because when emergencies occur, we will need this knowledge the most.

10 Lower Prices Solutions to Survivalism

Original Article

A few ways to make preparedness fit your budget a bit better.

1. Prioritize. I know this is is a far bigger thing and really arguably negates the rest of the article but I do need to touch on it briefly. Choosing preparedness stuff instead of other things is a very valid option. I find it easier to have the goal in mind and do the math working towards it. Example doing the math that at 4 bucks a pop you would need to choose drip from home instead of fancy coffee 15 times to get the medium fixed blade knife you want or 10 nights out at $50 a pop to buy a rifle or whatever. For me this makes it a choice to prioritize that specific goal instead of just general budget tightening which kind of sucks.

 2. Cut down on your vices. Drink less, smoke less, chew less, gamble less, go from $5 coffee out to drip from home, use that money to prepare. [This is probably #1 for overall life improvement but for saving cash to fund preparedness, which is the topic of the post, I put it at #2. The reason is that prioritization (which also touches on vices) is more all encompassing.]

3. Buy used. Many things can be had gently used for 50-80 cents on the dollar. Once you take the tags off, use it a couple times and it will have a few scratches or wear marks anyway so save the $$$.

4. Build the same systems but with lower priced (but not junk) items. Common Mans $150 BOB by TEOTWAWKI Blog (though I think it's more of a Get Home Bag) is a great example of this.

5. Get basic guns. A tight budget does not mean to buy cool guns because you like them  and then skimp elsewhere. If you can't afford food you definitely can't afford an AR and a Glock, let alone an M1A and a high end 1911 with a bunch of mags each especially with prices these days!. It means you need to get basic but quality guns that will serve your needs but not bust the budget. The odds you need an AR-15 over a bolt action 30'06 or pump shotgun or a Glock 19 over an old SW Model 10 are a lot lower than that your family will start eating drastically less. Honestly if tomorrow our gun collection was a 30-30, a bare bones Rem 870/ Moss 500 pump shotgun, a pair of .38/.357 revolvers (his and hers) and a .22 it would be a decent enough setup. If we had 2 of everything and I had a J frame as well as a bigger revolver (aside from her pistol) it would be a good setup. Bought over time most folks can afford a $400 30'06 or 30-30, a $300 shotgun, a $300-400 pistol and a .22 of some sort along with plenty of ammo to go with them.

6. Get items that serve a lot of purposes. If money is tight it might not work in the short term to have 6 dedicated preparedness knives (huge camp, medium general purpose fixed, small fixed, folding EDC, multi tool and "fighting") a folding saw a hawk or hatchet and an ax. Instead a small ax or hatchet/ hawk (AO dependent), a medium sized fixed blade and a folding EDC/ multi tool (lifestyle dependent) might just be it. Those 3 tools would handle most all of your realistic preparedness cutlery needs.

Coming back to guns because we dudes tend to gravitate there and thus overspend limited resources which should be spent elsewhere. In terms of guns that can do a lot of things compact sized pistols are a good one. A Glock 19 or 3" small/ medium framed revolver can fill a lot of roles adequately. A pump shotgun with long and short barrels can do a ton of things. Toss in whatever center fire rifle fits your lifestyle and budget best then round it out with a decent .22 and you are good to go.

7. Put in the time. Oh you are busy too, well make some choices. Watch less tv or something. Learn stuff from people you know. Helping them is a great way to do this. Ask somebody to HELP YOU fix your car or wall or whatever and just maybe they will do it. Say you will HELP THEM with their next project and you'll get a phone call in a bit. Expect to carry some stuff and do some other nugg work but you will learn stuff. Also once they see you care enough to put in the time and energy most folks will go out of their way to help you learn.

8. Avoid mistakes. Buying items that don't fit your needs/ wants must be avoided at all costs. I have a variety of stuff that has been purchased then cast off to be extras or backups or sold at a loss. Even if you research enough to find out an item is quality there is the ever unquantifiable ergonomics. If money was tight I would only buy items I could personally handle and ideally try out (like borrowing a friends for a week) before purchasing.

9. Trade. There are some balancing acts there as you have to be a bit flexible but can't lose sight of your real needs as you can't afford to get unneeded or significantly lower priority stuff.  On the other hand turning your unused guitar and amp (or whatever) into the backpack and sleeping bag you need is just irresistible. Sometimes, though rarely especially with vastly different types of stuff, you can trade strait across. However more often you end up selling the music stuff to get money which pays for the camping gear.

10. Gifts. This isn't exactly a savings but it does help. Instead of asking for stuff you don't really need for birthdays, Christmas, etc ask for preparedness stuff you can use. Many folks would be happy to get you a preparedness item of comparable price than whatever the usual gift might be.

That is about all I can think of right now. Anyway I hope these ideas help give people some ideas on how to become better prepared on lower budgets.

Edited to include: After Snoops comment I went back and put them in what I feel is rank order. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Top 10 Preparedness Items You Own Right Now (and don’t even know it)

Original Article

Top 10 Preparedness Items You Own Right Now (and don’t even know it)
 By Wyzyrd, Editor-At-Large

1) Your home-repair tool kit(s). Yes, you CAN get by with a multi tool and a rock, but real tools work a lot better for their intended uses. Get a couple gooseneck crowbars, if you don’t have them already. 

2) Your kitchen tools. You CAN peel potatoes with a machete, and cook ‘em in a canteen cup, but why not think up a way to bring along your favorites? (I have a knife/tool roll that I bring to cooking jobs, but a quick yank can pull 2 magnetic strips out of a sheetrock wall to pack them, too…..)

3) Your water heater. About 20 gal. of clean water you can get to, even if utilities are out.

4) Manual pencil sharpeners (the cast aluminum ones from an art or craft work better than the slightly-cheaper plastic ones). Quickly put points on sticks/darts, make your own fire tinder rapidly.

5) Picnic/Party coolers. There’s almost always a need to keep cold things cool, and hot things warm, without external power.

6) Zip-top storage bags–at least a zillion uses.

7) Ground cayenne pepper (or hotter chiles). Season food (obviously), repel deer and various other pests, use as a blood-coagulant on wounds (not fun, but does work), steep in warm veg oil for a day or so and fill a dollar store spray bottle when the commercial pepper spray runs out.

8) Rope, cord, string, twine. Need I say more?

9) Depending on your location, mostly–Your kids’ old BB guns/slingshots/bows and arrows. Cheap and quiet small game-getters, and there’s an old saying “It hurts a lot more to be hit by a BB, than missed by a .44 Magnum”.

10) Electrical extension cords. If there is power available, you’ll need ‘em. If not, more cordage.

© 2013, Seasoned Citizen Prepper. All rights reserved. On republishing this post you must provide link to original post.
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Benefits of Sprouts

Original Article

Everyone can use a little more nutrition in their diets.  A lot of the food available on store shelves these days is nutritionally inferior to what our grandparents ate.  From the bleached bran-less flours to the tomatoes “developed” for picking and shipping unripe, much of the natural healthy content of common foods is missing unless we eat them in their whole forms.  The best way to get the freshest whole foods is to grow them ourselves.
Growing ALL of our own food is a pretty lofty ideal.  We strive to make progress in this area every year, but that’s a tall order.  One thing everyone can make time and space for is growing sprouts.

What are “sprouts”?

A “sprout” is simply a seed allowed to germinate and grow a shoot.  Most people are only aware of bean and/0r alfalfa sprouts.  In reality, there are a couple dozen seeds you can eat as developing shoots.
We’ve all heard the arguments for “whole grains” and how nutritionally superior they are compared to the refined and processed choices.   Sprouts are all that and more.  They provide all the fiber and whatnot, but as a raw (live) food, they are packed with amino acids and enzymes that can help us utilize the nutrients in the other foods we eat.
Take the wheat berry.  (As a prepper, you probably have buckets and buckets of that!)  Each kernel contains the bran (outer protective coating), germ (the part from which the growing plant will develop), and the endosperm (the food source).  Wheat is extolled for its vitamins, minerals, lignans, and other phytochemicals.  It is a good source of Vitamins B and E, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.  Except for those with gluten intolerance or similar conditions, whole wheat is considered a terrific food.
Now consider what happens as a seed sprouts.  When water penetrates the bran layer, it stimulates the germ to develop.  The starch in the endosperm gives the shoot the energy it needs to grow.  As any sprout shifts from seed to growing plant, its nutritional profile is magnified (by up to 600% in the case of vitamin C sometimes!).  The percentage of some enzymes contained in the organism is highest at this point too.  If allowed to grow until the first seed leaves appear, you can get a nice boost of chlorophyll too.

How to Sprout Seeds

There are many good posts and tutorials on sprouting seeds out there.  No fancy equipment is needed.  It  can even be done in a canning jar.  Alternately, you can purchase a seed sprouter.  This is what we have and like a lot.  With this set-up, I can start a new batch of seeds every day or so and I only have one thing to add water to or harvest.

What to Sprout

Which seeds you turn into sprouts will largely be a matter of what fits your tastes.  There are a few things you should not sprout.  But there are plenty of things you can use to produce a variety of nutrients and flavors.
You can purchase sprouting seed mixes to get you started in finding your favorites.  This is how we started out.  We now enjoy things as varied as clover, wheat, broccoli, dill, fenugreek, and radish as well as the more traditional bean and alfalfa.  I have learned that I must stick a little masking tape label on the side of the tray to identify what is in it.  In the time between adding the seeds and harvesting, I tend to forget which kind I put in each.

A Few Words of Caution

Seeds and the resulting sprouts should be handled carefully (with clean hands, containers, etc).  Every so often, a news story breaks about people getting food poisoning from sprouts, but as far as I know, they are from commercial sources.  Sprouts thrive in the same environments that some germs do, so always take care to wash everything well, refrigerate or eat them when ready, etc.
Also, here are a couple lessons learned the “hard way” (pun intended).  Pick through your sprouted beans carefully!  We nearly broke teeth the first time I put bean sprouts on a salad.  Even though in my head I knew that it was common for a few seeds in any given batch to not germinate, it did not occur to me to examine them all before tossing them in.  Those beans that had not sprouted were like little rocks!  Also, we found that adzuki beans tend to stay rather firm even when sprouted and we will probably only use them when we intend to add them to soups or other foods where they  may be softened by cooking.
Sometime in the future, I may do one more post on some additional ways you can use sprouts besides the age-old salad.  In the meantime, if you have some favorites, please mention them in the comments section.

Related Posts

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Audio Podcast: Episode-1080- Glen Tate on Book 5 of the 299 Days Series

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Fran├žais :...

Original Article

Glen Tate is the author of the ten-book prepper novel series “299 Days” published by Prepper Press. The books describe an average guy who prepares for, and lives through, a partial collapse of the United States. Glen joins us today … Continue reading →
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Preparedness Tips for People with Mobility Challenges

Original Article

mobility challenged on scooterIf you have ever had an injury that limited your mobility, you will understand why knowing how to deal with mobility challenges following a disaster are important.  A sprained ankle, a broken leg, a fractured arm – all of these can severely restrict your ability of evacuate or bug out following a disaster.
Now put yourself in the shoes of an individual with a permanent disability – someone who requires a walker, a wheelchair or a scooter to move around.  Clearly, an evacuation will be slow and ordinary objects such as furniture, stairs, curbs, and doorways become obstacles or even barriers to escape.  Add to this the challenge of moving about during chaos and panic and you can understand why planning in advance for survival tactics is important.
Today I am going to share some preparedness tips for people with mobility challenges.  But please take note.  These tips are for everyone because when and if the time comes, it may be you with the challenge and not your neighbor, your spouse or your friend.  Having an awareness of the obstacles that a person with mobility issues faces will make you a better prepper.
Regardless of any physical challenges, the basics of prepping still apply.  Accumulate food, water, first aid, self defense and the other items to get by under dire conditions.  Have the gear you will need to stay warm and the means to cook your food when the grid is down.  Practice your homesteading skills and develop a community of like minded people to watch your back as you will watch theirs.
These are the things you will do because these are the things that all preppers do.  And for now, that is all that I will say about that.
Store Your Stuff
man in wheelchairStore emergency supplies in a pack or backpack that can be attached to crutches, a walker, a wheelchair, or a scooter.
Store the needed mobility aids (canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs) close by in a consistent, convenient and secured location. Keep extra aids in several locations, if possible.
Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, prescriptions, food for service animals, and any other items you might need.
Put Together a Specialized Emergency Supply Kit
Keep a pair of heavy gloves in your supply kit to use while wheeling or making way over glass or debris.
If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, consider having an extra battery available. A car battery can be substituted for a wheelchair battery, but this type of battery will not last as long as a wheelchair’s deep-cycle battery. Check with your wheelchair or scooter vendor to see if you will be able to charge batteries by either connecting jumper cables to a vehicle battery or by connecting batteries to a specific type of converter that plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter in the event of loss of electricity.  And if so, get some of these cables to keep in your emergency pack.
If your chair does not have puncture-proof tires, keep a patch kit or can of “seal-in-air product” to repair flat tires, or keep an extra supply of inner tubes.
If possible, store a lightweight manual wheelchair.
Know your surroundings
Arrange and secure furniture and other items in a manner that will provide a clear path of travel and barrier free passages.
If you spend time above the first floor of a building with an elevator, plan and practice using alternative methods of evacuation.
If you cannot use stairs, determine in advance which carrying techniques that will work for you. Understand that there will be instances where wheelchair users will have to leave their chairs behind in order to safely evacuate a structure.
Sometimes transporting someone down stairs is not a practical solution unless there are at least two or more strong people to control the chair. Therefore, it is very important to articulate the safest mode of transport if you will need to be carried.   As an example, for some, the traditional “fire fighter’s carry” may be hazardous due to respiratory weakness.
Plan at least two evacuation routes; you never know when your primary means to exit will be blocked or inaccessible.
Communication Skills are Important
Practice giving clear, concise instructions regarding how to move you. Take charge and quickly explain to people how best to assist you.  Determine in advance how much detail will be needed and drill your “speech” with a trusted friend that will give you some feedback.
You know your abilities and limitations and the best way that someone can assist you or ways in which you can assist them. Again, practice giving these instructions clearly and quickly, not in four paragraphs but a few quick phrases, using the least amount of words possible.
Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers to aid you in an emergency. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate your equipment.
Discuss your needs with your employer.
If you live in an apartment building, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building during a disaster.  The more people who know where you are and the need for assistance the better.
Other Important Items
Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration.
Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.
Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify any disabilities that may not be visually obvious to a stranger.
Just like any other survival skill, it is important to practice your emergency plan through regular drills.  Imagine the worst and practice for that.
lady on crutches mobility challengedI want to be clear.
This is not an area where I have first hand experience. Sure, I have helped nurse family members following an operation that limited their movement but other than basic care, I never had to deal with mobility challenges in an emergency.   On the other hand, while researching this article a realized how many of these strategies could become important when we least expect it.
Fortunately, while researching this article, I found that there are some really good resources available from government agencies, senior centers and just plain folks that are willing to help formulate preparedness strategies for people with mobility challenges.
One of the better resources I found was the free booklet Emergency Evacuation Preparedness by the Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions.  You can download a copy by clicking on the link and I encourage you to do so.
The life that gets saved just might be your own.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Should I Learn Map Reading?

Original Article

map1This probably should have been the first post on the orienteering series, but it fits well here too.  The next post or two deals with some concepts that are a bit tricky and you’ll actually have to put your thinking caps on and maybe do a few examples of your own.
Map reading is hard.  You have to remember stuff.  You have to practice.  Hell, you even have to do some math.
Why should I learn it when I’ve got a GPS in my pocket that will tell me exactly where I am and give me directions on where I need to go?
Let’s go to a pretend world for a bit…
The grid is down.  The global economy went to hell three months ago and despite all the promises by the government and news media things aren’t getting better.  After the first month food deliveries were sporadic at best and despite a police presence outside most of the supermarkets in town there are very few supplies left.  Rioting has been reported in some of the larger cities.
After the first month of not getting paid a growing number of people stopped showing up for their jobs and without skilled engineers and workers the power plants supplying electricity slowly went off line.  It’s not out completely, but with rolling brown outs and black outs electricity just can’t be depended on.
It wasn’t like everything crashed at once.   It was more like the frog in the pot where the water is slowly brought up to boiling.  Things deteriorated slow enough that it prevented you from triggering your bug-out plan and now you’re stuck in your apartment with your wife and two sons.  Luckily they’re old enough to walk long distances and you feel like you’ve raised them right and can rely on them in case of an emergency.
Well, now it’s an emergency.
You’ve decided to head for the doomstead you have set up with two other families and you kick yourself for not going right away.  There’s no more gas for vehicles, so that means you’re going to bug out on foot cross country.  Your GPS tells you your destination is 88 miles northwest as the crow flies.  You figure you can do it in four days with your family if you push them hard enough.
Three days later you realize you’re still at least four days away.  Nothing has gone right.  You had to ditch some gear from the packs because they were too heavy for walking.  There have been roadblocks not mentioned by the media and you’ve had to take the family off the road and circle around them praying you don’t get spotted.
And this afternoon  the batteries in your GPS died and you discover the spares you packed in your BOB two years ago are dead too.  Didn’t the manufacturer claim these batteries would last ten years in storage?  You make a mental note to write a strongly worded letter to the company.
Now what?  You’re a little more than halfway to the doomstead, food is running low, and now you’ve lost the only means of navigation you had.
You break the bad news to the family, but your 16 year old son – the boy scout – does something strange.  Instead of panicking he grabs his pack and pulls out a map and compass.   You show him where you are on the map and he plots a direction to your bug-out location.  Then he picks up the compass and declares he’s going to take point and leads the way.
Four days later you arrive.  Hungry, tired, and foot sore, but you made it.
You tell your son how proud you are of him and thank him for saving the day.
Oh, maybe the story is just a little dramatic, but you get the point.  GPS batteries only last for so long and if you’re trusting your life to a piece of electronic wizardry you’re gambling with your life and the lives of whoever is with you.  If you think you won’t run out of batteries in an extended emergency you are dead wrong.  Just don’t get dead because of it.
And what happens if the satellites fail?  Oops.
GPS is Cool!
I was on a mountain with my smart phone recently using it as a GPS and it was fantastic.  When you can look at a device and know exactly where you are and what’s over the next rise it doesn’t get better than that.  But I was using it heavily and after just a few hours the battery was very low.
Of course I had a map and compass and went back to doing it the old fashioned way.
I’ve read many stories where someone has followed GPS directions blindly down back roads only to wind up stuck for days and sometimes even got themselves dead because of it.  Always have a manual backup and the knowledge of how to use it.
Like I said earlier, map reading is hard and it will take some work to get proficient at it.  You don’t have to get to the point where you’re looking for a ten meter square clearing in a huge forest, but if you can point a compass and follow an azimuth there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually get to where your going.  And you don’t have to worry about the batteries dying.
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying don’t use a GPS.  They’re awesome devices.  What I am saying is learn the skills necessary to stay alive in case something happens to your device, whether you drop it in water, break it or the batteries die it’s always good to have a back up.
Just in case.
Next week we’ll talk about direction and how to shoot an azimuth on your compass.
How about it, Prepper?
Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paranoia or Prepping - Maintaining a Proper Balance

Original Article

Everyone prepares to a certain degree but there are those that sometimes let their prepping activities go to extremes. Try as you might, it is almost impossible to prepare for every possible scenario. If you maintain a proper balance in your prepping activities, you will have a better state of preparedness than you might think. Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked because we don’t see them as obstacles until it is too late
You’ve got a bug-out bag, a bug-out vehicle and a bug-out location but do you have the skills to put your bug-out plan into action. Can you change a flat tire? It’s a simple process but it is also one which many people have never done. Can you change a drive belt on the motor if it breaks? These are simple skills that are easy to practice and develop but which can leave you stranded and vulnerable at the worst possible time if you lack these simple skills. Simple skills can go a long way in helping you be better prepared.
A box of survival seeds won’t do you much good if you lack the gardening skills to make them grow. A stockpile of canned goods and freeze-dried foods won’t last forever and you will need gardening skills to properly balance your food storage program. You will also need to stock your food items accordingly. Excess food storage can increase your chances of having items that expire or go bad before you can use them. Simple gardening skills can help you be better prepared.
Don’t forget to have a plan to maintain the safety and security of your family. Don’t sacrifice your family’s safety or security because simple items were left unattended. Realize that maintaining security should also be a part of your preparedness plans.
Include plenty of family activities that can help to strengthen the trust and loyalty among your group or family members. Make sure to include both younger and older members of your group in your activities. While their knowledge and skills may vary, they can only help to strengthen your efforts. Remember that everyone is capable of making a contribution to your preparedness efforts.
There are numerous aspects to proper prepping and maintaining a proper balance will be critical. You may be unknowingly increasing your costs and utilizing resources you may need elsewhere if you don’t maintain a proper balance in your preps. Know how many in your family or group you are preparing for and adjust your preparedness plans accordingly. Know which skills you are lacking and make an effort to learn them and continue to practice those skills you already have. Balance your prepping efforts with the actual needs of your family or group.
Got balance?

Staying above the water line!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Being In Good Physical Condition as a Prepper

Original Article

photo by Ed Yourdonphoto by Ed Yourdon
Being in good physical condition is one area of preparedness that is often overlooked.  Physical fitness cannot be purchased like toilet paper or a jug of water when there is a forewarning of impending disaster.  Nor is it something like sealing food in a bucket that can be done once and it will be ready for you when you need it twenty years later.
Physical fitness is a preparedness area that needs constant attention.  It is something that needs to be worked on and kept up on.  Just because you were a long distance runner on the high school track team doesn’t mean you can outrun the zombies at age 35.  And you do want to be able to outrun the zombies, right?
Actually, outrunning the zombies is only one reason to be in good physical condition.  In a grid down situation, there will be plenty of manual labor to be done.  Everything from clearing debris, to building shelter, to hiking yourself and your family and all your gear to a safer location.
I’m not saying you need to be a marathon runner or super body-builder (unless you already are–then you’re ahead of the game).  But being out of shape will not help you a bit when your physical abilities are being tested in what could be a life and death situation.
There are a few things to consider when you are thinking about conditioning your body for work harder than sitting at a desk in a cubicle eating jelly doughnuts.
1.  Start slow.  Especially if you haven’t been doing much physical activity in the recent past.  If you have health considerations, you may need to consult your physician about which activities and exercise programs would be best for you.
2. Don’t quit.  Exercise is only good while you are doing it regularly.
3.  Just because someone is lean doesn’t mean they are in shape.  I have a crazy fast metabolism, so rarely look like I’m out of shape.  However, I know that I have been.  And I know there are people who look out of shape that could outwork or outrun me pretty easily.
4.  “Good physical condition” is not the same for everyone.  It is not the same for me now as it was when I was 19 or as it will be when I’ll be 65.  Our bodies give us certain physical limitations depending on age, genetics, etc.  The idea is to be in as good a physical condition as you in your present circumstances can be.
5.  Is a little fat good?  Maybe so.  It could act as a buffer against disease, or lower the food intake you will need.  But don’t go believing an extra 100 lbs of weight you don’t need on you qualifies as “food storage”!
6.  You will lose weight as you begin exercising.  If you are exercising before a disaster, you can go buy new clothes that fit!  But if you don’t start exercising until after the disaster (or even if your exercise level intensifies–especially if your food intake decreases), you’ll probably shrink out of your clothes.  Consider stocking smaller sizes of clothes, overalls (they always fit, right?) or suspenders.  Another option is having the skills to alter clothes to fit your new smaller size.
Your physical condition could be one of the most important parts of your preparedness efforts.  It won’t do you any good to have lots of supplies if you’re going to keel over from a heart attack when you need to relocate it all quickly.  And the extra energy and strength you will have will help you even if disaster never strikes.  So go ahead and get off the computer and go for a walk.  If it’s just too cold out there for you, there are plenty of exercise videos available online, or you can even probably check some out for free at your local library.  Find something that you enjoy and stick with it!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Being Street Smart

Original Article

Being Street Smart
Whether you are set to travel into a bad neighborhood or if you are preparing for a societal collapse in which most neighborhoods will turn bad, knowing how to be street smart may save you trouble or your life. You cannot just learn it by reading about it and then saying to yourself that you will do those things if and when you have to… instead you must practice it in your daily life and apply it in appropriate degrees of purpose for your given location. It should be part of your situational awareness and response thereof.

Know Where You Are

It is quite easy to pick out someone who is a tourist, lost or confused. These people will be targets. Know the streets that you are on, or will be on; the way in and the way out. Look at a map ahead of time so that if you get lost, you will know the direction to get out.
Don’t start a trip without a full tank of gas, particularly if you are planning to go into an unfamiliar area. Never let your gas tank go below half full, for more reasons than just one.
Learn everything you can about the public transportation system in the area, if there is one, because you might need to use it. Understand the routes and fares. Know the hours that station attendants are working, as these are the safest places to wait for your ride. A train, subway, ferry or bus station can be a dangerous place late at night, and not knowing what you’re doing will make the situation more dangerous.

Blend In

Dress to blend in and avoid clothing and colors that may cause you to stand out from the crowd. Plain and neutral colors are often best, worn in an understated fashion. Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing jewelry, looking ‘too good’, or being individualistic in any way.

Act Like You Don’t Care

While you need to be at peak situational awareness, you need to look like you don’t care… flowing with the crowd. Do not stare. Do not look all around as though gazing at new surroundings. Do not run. Do not engage in loud conversation or laughing or fooling around. Just be quiet and go where you are going in a purposed direction.

Avoid Contact With Strangers

Again, use situational awareness. Look well ahead as you move. If you see that you will be meeting with potentially questionable individuals or a group, then cross the street or change direction if it will not look obvious that you are intentionally avoiding them. If you must cross paths, then stay at your pace. Don’t speed up. If you were talking with a companion, don’t stop talking or suddenly talk real quiet.

Eye Contact

The best way to deal with this in a bad neighborhood is to treat the situation exactly the same as you would in what you consider a safe neighborhood. Don’t stare. Don’t look away too fast. If you make eye contact, then a quick pleasant smile should suffice. Even if you are nervous, you must come across as comfortable.

Responding To A Talking Stranger

You’re walking down the sidewalk and pass a stranger who says “How’s it going?”. Simply respond with “It’s going well, thanks”, and keep on walking at your existing pace. Do not say “It’s going well, how about you?”. Don’t invite conversation in a neighborhood where you feel unsafe. While it is true that some people are being genuinely friendly when asking, unfortunately there are those with darker intentions. Sometimes it is more obvious than others.

Street Smart success begins with situational awareness and going about your business in a purposeful manner that does not attract undue attention. Problems arise when people who have not practiced Street Smarts suddenly find themselves in an environment where they need to be careful… they are usually very easy to identify in a crowd. The next time you are out and about, imagine to yourself what you look like to others as you go about your business. Picture yourself from across the street or someone who is sitting or standing still watching you. What do you look like? Do you fit in with the environment you’re in?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How To: Gather Info on a Local Disaster Fast

Original Article

A few days ago we had a mini disaster in Las Vegas.  Turns out a couple of thugs decided to take their aggression out on the Las Vegas Strip, complete with racing cars and firing guns.  It culminated in an explosion, fire, and three deaths.  Generally when you hear that something is happening--whether from a breaking news announcement on TV, a text from a friend, or a Tweet from the fire department--your first instinct is to find out more.  Is the event happening in your neighborhood?  At a school or workplace of a family member?  Will it impact you, either by changing your route to work or creating the necessity to lock down your home or office?
In all of these cases, you want to find out as much information as quickly as possible.  Here's how:

  • Check Twitter.  I follow a number of first responder agencies in our city, a few news outlets--both local and national--and when in doubt, I simply search the most likely terms in Twitter and can usually come up with people tweeting about what is going on.
  • Check Reddit.  If your city/area has a subreddit, this is often one of the first places that people post "what the heck is going on?" posts quickly followed by others commenting on what they have heard/seen/know.
  • Check your local news services.  This may include tuning in to TV news, checking the local newspapers online, or turning on your car's radio and picking up the local news.
  • Check the national news.  If it is a big enough event, CNN and other national news services will probably pick up on it pretty quickly.
  • Check with the appropriate agency.  If the event has to do with a fire, I can check out our local fire department's website/Facebook page/Twitter account.  If it is something larger--like a storm or earthquake--I would check with NOAA or the USGS website.
  • Text a friend.  If you know an event is happening where you know a friend or family member may be, simply sending them a text may get you the answers you need.  Likewise, check their Facebook page/Twitter feed/Instagram/etc if they are likely to be posting instead of making them take the time to answer you back.
The bottom line is that you need to be able to gather pertinent information about a disaster as quickly as possible so that you will know how to respond.  Using these popular news and information sources can provide just the information you need even faster than traditional news outlets.
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