Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birth Control, Sex, and SHTF: What Should You Do?


One of those areas that most people think will go away in the end times or SHTF is sex. Many people think that they will be too stressed out, too worried, too hungry, and too desperate to worry about sex.

I happen to think they are wrong.

Sex has some benefits that most people do not consider:
  • Sex is a natural stress reliever. 
  • Sex helps people feel closer and more attached when the chips are down. 
  • Sex helps people to relax. 
  • Sex can be a coping agent. 
  • Sex can be used as a way to escape reality for just a little while. 
In other words, sex can and will be a factor when a SHTF happens. People will still have sex. Desperation will drive people to do many things. Many people may turn to sex for financial reasons. Sex can and will be used as a bartering tool or to buy food. Many people will use to just to comfort themselves.

Along with sex though comes some other issues. Many, many people are on birth control or practice some method of birth control for preventing pregnancy as well as addressing medical issues. Unless you stock up on condoms and/or sponge and spermicide, you could lose access to birth control for sex.

Most methods of birth control only last a certain amount of time:
  • The pill, ring, and patch are prescribed for only 30-90 days.
  • The shot only lasts three months.
  • The IUD lasts five years. 
  • The implants last three years.
Many of these will stay in your system for up to six months or possibly a year after ending their use. However, after the time frame for this birth control is over, what happens next? Pregnancy can happen although most women do not get pregnant immediately after stopping birth control. Sexually transmitted diseases can happen and will still happen, but birth control does not prevent most of those. 

Birth control is widely prescribed to control female medical issues. If birth control is used to control female medical issues, those issues will come back in a hurry after discontinuing the use of the birth control. Then what?

Other options must be explored to prevent unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and to control painful female issues like primary dysmenorrhea, severe cramping, excessive bleeding, and more. 

The best idea for preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs would be to practice abstinence. However, most couples and good deal of people will not consider abstinence purely because they don't want to consider it. As mentioned before, sex will be used to make people feel better, for financial gain, and for bartering purposes. As much as abstinence should be considered and is always an option, many people just won't. 

The Family Planning Method or the Natural Rhythm Method is always good and requires some record keeping on the female's part. However, these still comes with some risk. Unwanted pregnancies may still occur due to inaccurate record keeping and/or stress on a woman's body due to the circumstances they are in. Neither prevents STDs. However, the record keeping that is needed with this method may help women in detecting female health issues and give an accurate idea of when female problems are occurring.

Having a good supply of condoms, sponges, spermicides, and diaphragm on hand would be ideal. Those many run out though eventually or be too expensive to afford. They also will not be any use to anyone in cases of rape or sexual assault where they are not likely to be found. As a preventative measure, if you are done having children, now may be the time to consider having a tubal ligation and/or vasectomy. You would not have to worry about using non-hormonal forms of birth control, but I would still keep a good supply on hand. 

The only surefire way to prevent STDs is to not have sex with someone you do not know. If you do, be sure to have both parties thoroughly clean themselves before and after sex. Also, you should avoid sex with anyone who looks to be infected. You should look for signs such as genital bumps, rashes, and open sores. In cases of rape or sexual assault, you should thoroughly clean yourself afterwards scrubbing with a disinfectant. If medical care is available, you should get checked out and follow the same procedure as above. 

If you are using hormonal birth control for prevention of pregnancy, you need to figure out which options of non-hormonal birth control will work for you and stock up. If you are using it to prevent female issues, you should first ask your doctor if there are other ways to treat your condition or the symptoms of your condition. If there is other options of treatment, especially over the counter treatments, you need to stock up on them and start using them. I would also have a good supply of items like Midol or Pamprin to help with the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. 

You should also look into alternative treatments for your female issues. Cutting out the processed foods would help greatly, but after a SHTF you might have to eat whatever you have on hand or can find. I would look into essential oils, herbs, tinctures, teas (raspberry leaf), and other holistic treatments that may benefit you greatly. Now would be the time to experiment and seek the advice of an expert to see what will work for you. 

When the SHTF happens, none of this will really go away. If fact, sex will still happen. People will still need ways of preventing pregnancy. Women will still need to deal with their menstrual cycles and female issues. Not being prepared for it is simply sticking your head in the sand to avoid dealing with it. Although this is an unpopular topic, it is one that needs to be addressed by you for yourself and your family.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Monthly Update From The Homestead - August/September Edition


I love this time of year! We are so busy trying to keep up with the yard, the garden, and the projects. So this will be a monthly update for now and in the future. 

In August, you realize that summer is winding down fast. You may have at least two months left to get everything done outside that you can get done. Canning is full speed ahead trying to keep up with the produce. While I love dehydrating, I am finding myself doing a lot of canning this year.

Then September comes and you realize you may be running out of time! 

Canned green beans

We canned several quarts and four pints of green beans. We also canned summer squash pickles and zucchini relish. I froze eight quart size bags of vegetable pasta sauce. I have canned some salsa and need to do A LOT MORE! I froze a lot of the small onions from the garden to be used with roasts and in stews. 

After waiting patiently, oh so patiently, on the tomatoes, they are finally starting to come along. We have picked more grape tomatoes than we can keep up on eating. I still have lots and lots of green tomatoes though. I did give the tomatoes a good trimming as recommended by several gardeners. This has helped tremendously! I keep cutting back vines about once a week with great results. The tomatoes have been growing faster and turning red faster. Yeah!

I seem to have a lot of green peppers in the garden too. They are suppose to turn to red, orange, and yellow peppers, but nothing yet. If they stay green, I will still use them and freeze them for future use. I also have some mild banana peppers coming along too. I am not sure what I will do with them yet, but I will figure it out!

I also have a lot of zucchini which I have been using for a lot of zucchini bread. I have also been adding it to other dishes too as well as grilling it. I also grew some yellow crookneck squash. I will probably not be doing that again. I wanted yellow smooth neck squash, but I didn't read the package close enough. Oh well, the chickens love them! I did pull one hill of yellow squash plants out yesterday and will probably do the rest 


 Pumpkin blossoms

The potatoes have tasted great and I need to get the rest of them dug up. The pumpkins are coming along great too. The beets need to be dug up also. I actually have carrots! They germinated really late, but they are there and growing!

The chickens are still alive. That is saying a lot. We lost one chicken for reasons we couldn't figure out. We have one chicken who will be on the chopping block soon because she is not laying anymore and is becoming very mean to the other hens. The rest of the ladies will need to find new homes or become stew meat. We are only getting 4-6 eggs a day which we still enjoy. However, we have a rodent problem in the barn where their coop is and in the walls. The food and the water is attracting the problem and we need to get rid of the problem. 

So the chickens need to go for now. We will start over in the late winter - early spring with a new crop of chicks. I know I said previously that I wanted to add to the flock, but this problem really needs to be addressed before the rodents find a way into the shop.

Back of the barn

The shop in the barn is coming along great! The walls that are going to be painted are done. Rob stuffed more insulation down the walls before painting them to help keep the shop warmer. The floors in the shop and back half of the barn have been power washed too. It was amazing to see the difference after doing that! Rob wants to finish the ceiling and paint that. He also wants to finish insulating around the windows and get those trimmed out. 

We have enough rain for quite awhile. I am sooooo tired of mowing! Unfortunately, the forecast says rain again this week through the weekend. Oh well, it keeps the garden growing!

Otherwise, school has started! Woo hoo! We started on August 23rd and it has been pretty smooth sailing. The kids have been taking their lunches every day which has been an awesome savings on my pocketbook! Paige has been busy with cross counry, marching band, and choir (All-state, jazz, chamber, and concert). Dane is thankfully not really involved in anything yet! Dane turned 12 in August and we took him to Arnold's Park! It was a lot of fun!

We are still doing a lot of cleaning out, decluttering, selling stuff we don't need anymore, and donating other things. I keep thinking I am done for awhile, but then I reconsider things I don't need anymore!

What have you been up to this last month?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Friday, September 16, 2016

Water is a Vital to Your Survival! What is Your Plan for Your Water Needs?


We can't live without water! Whether it is to drink, brush teeth, shower, cook, clean, or provide water to growing things, we can't live without it. An average person cannot live for more than three days without water. 

Water is critical to your survival needs.

Unfortunately, most people do not place water very high in their emergency preparations. They focus on shelter, food, security, and safety before they even began to think about water. Yes, shelter and food are important. However, without water, those things will not matter. 

So...what is your plan for your water needs? 

This will vary from household to household. The experts say to have, at a minimum, one gallon a day per person. One gallon of water multiplied by the number of people you plan to care for times the number of days you plan to be without water. One gallon of water is the minimum you should have, but I think you should have more. 

Why?

Bathing will take at least 3-5 gallons of water per person. I know in a crisis situation, bathing might be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have the potential for unsafe and unsanitary conditions, bathing in some way or form is a must. You can invest in one of these solar showers or whole body disposable wash cloths. Keeping clean will be a top priority to ward off sickness.

Washing clothes using a couple of five gallon buckets and a washer plunger will take at least 10-20 gallons of water for the bare minimum of clothes to be washed. You might have enough clean clothes to last two weeks. That is all well and good until someone gets sick. 

Washing dishes will take 3-6 gallons of water to clean the dishes properly. While it is recommended to have paper plates and plastic utensils on hand, there will always be some dishes dirty. Then you need to add in the water you might need for cooking purposes. 

Safely, you will need at least 3-5 gallons a day per person! How do you plan to store that much water? You can:

  • Store 55 gallon drums of water in a cool, dark place. 
  • Have a rain catchment system with at least 150 gallons of storage.
  • Store one-gallon jugs of water and cases of water bottles for cooking and drinking.
  • Install a hand pump for your well water.
  • Drain the water heater.
  • Fill five-gallon buckets and containers for water needs like flushing toilets and washing clothes. 

I also would recommend having a good filtration system in case you need to use unpurified water. A LifeStraw works great for one person to drink water safely. A Berkey filter system works well for a family. When you are going through an emergency situation, the last thing you need is a sick person or people due to unsafe drinking water. 

I would also be aware of the water sources surrounding your land. Is there a creek or river nearby? Is there an abandoned farm place with a working hand pump and well? Is there a lake that you can pump water from? I keep topographical maps of my area in a file for this information. It may save your life to have this information on hand. 

For more ideas and motivation for storing water for emergency needs, I asked my fellow bloggers for their water articles. Here is some really great information!


How to Can Water for Emergencies by Everything Home With Carol 

Whatever the emergency or crisis is, you cannot live without water. You need to have some on hand, a way to get more, a way to filter for drinking, and be able to do as much as possible to conserve water. Make storing water at the top of your to-do list for prepping!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, September 9, 2016

4 Reasons Why It Is Time To Talk To Your Friends and Neighbors About Prepping!

It's 5:30 in the afternoon. The power has been out since 6:30 that morning. You are contemplating what to have for supper on the grill since you can still get to the grill. Thank goodness you moved it to the garage yesterday when the weather started getting bad!

Otherwise, everything else is going well. The kids have been playing card games and coloring. The first floor of the house is warm enough from the portable gas heater you bought a year ago. You have good light coming from the windows yet, but the LED lanterns are ready to go. You could fire up the generator if you need to, but all is well yet.

You hear a knock on the door. It is your next door neighbor whom you have been pretty friendly with. He's a good guy who is always willing to lend a hand. However, you know he has almost nothing for emergencies. In fact, he has laughed at you numerous times for your prepping purchases. You wonder what he wants.

You are not very keen on answering the door, but if you don't, one of the kids will. You go out of the garage door to talk to him outside. You know if you let him know that you have a portable gas heater going right now and have started using lanterns, he will be over with his whole family. You could probably handle that if you knew how long the power was going to be out. But you don't.


You know this conversation isn't going to go well, but you will talk to him anyway. You both exchange pleasantries and talk about the power outage. He asks how you all are managing. They are getting cold, but his wife had the good idea to close off a room and get the kids bundled up a bit against the cold. She moved the kids into that room and is keeping it as warm as they can. He saw you move your grill into the garage and had done the same.

However, the kids are afraid of the dark. They only have one flashlight that has dead batteries. They have no practical candles or lanterns. They have no way to heat the room because he didn't listen to you about putting in a gas fireplace and put in an electric one instead. They have some food to get by for a day or two longer. You know the grocery store and gas station is closed due to no power.

What do you do?

This scenario can be all too real and does happen in almost every emergency or disaster. Many people would have a definite answer until faced with that decision. It is hard to watch anyone in need and not want to help. I know I would want to help especially if it is someone I am on good terms with. I do not like to see people suffer.

This is why you need to start talking to your friends and neighbors about prepping for emergencies and disasters. By encouraging others to be prepared, you can hopefully avoid the above scenario. Here are four reasons why you should take the time to talk to your friends and neighbors about prepping:

1. You may be able to help them this time, but next time you might not be available for help. You need to make them realize they need to have their own emergency supplies. The weather could be so bad they can't make it over to your house. You might not have enough to help them and provide for your own family. You should offer to go to the store with them to start an emergency kit. You should also show them how to use it and store it.

2. They need to become more self-reliant. They might move to a new neighborhood where no one cares about them. They might experience something where they can not reach out to friends or neighbors. The weather might be bad enough they can't leave home. They might be caught on the road somewhere. The scenarios are endless, but they need to learn to rely on themselves instead of expecting everyone to save them.

3. The government says so. FEMA celebrates National Preparedness Month and has things for people to do all year round. Red Cross recommends having 3-14 days worth of supplies on hand for emergencies and disasters. While some of you may scoff at this, you may have to use these agencies to help convince people to prepare. Some people like to be told what to do by the government or big powerful agencies. This may work in your favor to convince others to prepare.

4. They can safely protect and care for their families. Being unprepared is the equivalent of neglecting their family's potential needs. They get everything they need to take care of daily life and they need to get everything they need to take care of any emergencies. This is just like having Advil on hand for a headache or a fever. You keep flashlights, batteries, and candles on hand for a power outage.

We as preppers have a duty to encourage others to prepare. Now is the time to start. Some of your friends and neighbors may want to already and don't know where to start! By having them prepared, you can become a true community of preppers who can help yourselves and others too.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, September 8, 2016

It's National Preparedness Month! What You Should Do To Celebrate!


National Preparedness Month is a very important month in any prepper's year! Many of the preparedness supply companies run great sales. Many of the prepping sites offer a lot of great advice. FEMA and Red Cross even get in on the action. 

National Preparedness Month is a great time to remind the non-preppers to get a few emergency supplies. You can show them the information that the Red Cross even recommends having 3-14 days worth of supplies on hand. FEMA has on their website that this week is Preparing Family and Friends by making emergency plans. Sometimes non-preppers need evidence that other agencies recommend being prepared. 

You should take inventory of your own preparedness supplies. Is everything still working? Do batteries need to be replaced? Is the food still good or expired? Is your 72 hour kit still relevant or does it need updating? I wrote earlier this year about a checklist for the long-term prepper. It would be a good list for you to go over your preps with! 

Are you talking to your neighbors, family, and friends about prepping? This month is a great time to get started! You might be able to get a good group of trusted people together in case of an emergency or disaster. You might find out your neighbor is just as much of a prepper as you are! You might be able to open someone else's eyes about getting ready their own SHTF situation. Now is the time to address these things.

In the past, I have participated with other bloggers in the 30 Days of Preparedness Round-Up to celebrate National Preparedness Month. Their articles are still very relevant today and are a great read! 



Food Storage

Self-Reliance

72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags

Preparedness




Day 1 - Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama 
Day 2 - The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 - I'm Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 - Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 - Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 - The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 - It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 - It's a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 - Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 - Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 - The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 - The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 - Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 - How We Choose The Right Gear - (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 - Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 - Food and Water for a 72 Hour "Go Bag" from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 - 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 - Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 - Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 - Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 - Pressure Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 - Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 - KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 - Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 - Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 - How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 - How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 - Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 - What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 - How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness


I hope this helps you to get more prepared during National Preparedness Month and all year round! Celebrate by getting your family and friends ready for anything that may happen! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, September 2, 2016

Are You Prepared To Lose Instant Gratification When The SHTF Happens?


Remember growing up with only three channels on your TV? You might have been able to get five channels if you could adjust the antennae just right. If you got to see your favorite teams on TV, that was a special treat! You had to watch what the rest of the family was watching or you did something else. Now we have multiple televisions with several receivers and digital recorders that ensures we do not miss our favorite shows.

Remember when eating out was considered special and reserved for only special things like birthdays and celebrations? Now people eat out whenever they feel like it. 

Remember having to wait to go to the store until your parents had their weekly shopping trip to get anything new? You might not have been able to get something new and you certainly did not get a treat every time you went either. Now people buy whatever they want, whenever they want, and buy things so their kids will not pitch a fit in the store. 

Remember when the only time you got new anything was for birthdays and select holidays? Maybe if your parents or grandparents were feeling generous, you might get something new then, but otherwise you had to wait. Now we get new things all the time unless we consciously buy used stuff. 

In today's society, we expect things now. Nothing is special anymore unless we were too broke to pay for it until payday. We get what we want when we want it. We want a new shirt? Bam, we go to the store and get it now. We want a candy bar? Stop at the convenience store and get one. Kids start begging? We get them anything to keep them quiet!

Very few people stop themselves from buying whatever they want. I know I really like my Amazon Prime. I have to wait two whole days for things to get here, but I can click and order right at my fingertips. Super convenient! However, my life would not be over with if I didn't have it anymore. However, other people might go through withdrawals. Remember when you had to go to the big city to get the special items you were looking for? With online ordering, people have forgotten about that. 

The media gives us all the news we want to hear (and don't want to hear) at a moment's notice. Remember waiting until the newspaper came in the morning or the news to come on at noon, 6:00 pm, or 10:00 pm to know what was happening? Remember having save up money, drive to the local music store, and buy the cassette/CD/record/ 8 track you wanted? Now you can download it immediately and listen whenever you want.

What happens when people lose their instant gratification? We are definitely a "want it now, get it now" society. People will go crazy when they can't get their expensive coffee at the local coffee place. People will get very cranky when they can't buy their cigarettes or alcohol. 

Nothing will even compare to a mother whose kids are hungry and want food now! We don't tell our kids "no" often enough and kids almost always want things now. Just wait until McDonald's is not available or sugar laden snacks are not affordable. Some mothers will not be able to handle their kids' suffering. 

Things could and will get ugly fast. Sure, there might be a black market for the more addictive things like soda, cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, but many people are not going to be able to afford that. Many people will do anything it takes to get those things like steal, murder, and/or sell themselves. Is that what you are willing to do?

How will people amuse themselves? They are used to having a device in their hands or on their desk that instantly connects them to the world and shows funny videos. What happens when those devices are useless? Cranky might be a rather mild word to describe the withdrawal people will have when those devices are usable 24/7.

Now is the time to practice self-denial! Now is the time to set limits for yourself and your kids. You can't always have what you want when you want it. You need to make certain things special again and treat them as treats. You need to limit your time on the electronic devices as well as your kids' time. You need to realize that not everything is going to be available to you all the time!

Now is the time to break the addiction to sugar and caffeine. You will feel better and be more productive without them. Now is the time to quit smoking. You will be better off quitting now than when you are forced to because you cannot find them or afford them anymore. 

I believe most people will be able to adjust quickly when they can't have what they want instantly. However, some people will not be able to adjust very well. Some people will not be able to adjust at all. Life for them will get ugly and they will be very hard to deal with. You don't want to be one of them. 

What are you going to do when you can't have the things you enjoy anymore? Will you be able to handle it or are you going to go a bit crazy for awhile?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Back To School Routine - How To Set Up Your Family For Success This School Year!


School has started for us! (Excuse me while I do a happy dance!)

Starting school is an excellent time to start new routines in your household. I find being organized in the morning starts our day off well. We are on time for work and school. The kids are rarely rushing around to get their things together. 

This school year we have had some additional changes from last school year. We are taking cold lunches to school almost every day. We are no longer eating breakfast at school. (The school raised the rates and we no longer qualify for free or reduced lunches.) We are no longer allowing electronics and phones to be in their rooms overnight. 

We also had some changes to make from last school year. We needed to get more organized at night. We were not getting clothes picked out the night before which caused some chaos in the morning looking for a certain shirt. Bags were not ready to go in the mornings. Things were scattered everywhere and certainly lost by the time we were ready to leave. We needed one place for electronics and phones so we can grab and go. 

All this? Just about drove me bonkers!

I realized being organized is not just a kid thing, it is a parent thing too. I couldn't remember everything that needed to be done by my kids. How were my kids going to remember? Simple habits that were second nature to me were habits they are still learning. 

So I made up a list of what they need to do every morning and evening. This list helps me and them to remember what they need to do. And guess what? I wanted to pass it on to you! 

This is a pretty simple list. I am not a fancy person although I enjoy others' efforts to be fancy! (Yes, I love printables!) And just a disclaimer: we are public school goers. We fully respect other families' choices in schooling, but this is what works for us. This may mean your morning and evening routines will look a little different. That is okay! 

Here is our routines:

Morning Routine:
Wake up, shower if needed, and get dressed
Morning chores
Finish packing lunch for school
Get laptops packed into backpacks
Put bags into the car
Eat breakfast
Night Routine:
Evening chores
Get school lunch ready for the next day
Pick out clothes for next day
Get backpacks and gym bags ready the next day
Homework!
Shower
Plug in electronics and phones at charging station
Put backpacks and gym bags by your bedroom door

Because I try to make life easier for all of you, I also have it available to print here: Kids Routines!

Like I said, this is nothing fancy. Just a good list of reminders about what we need to do every morning and evening. I have it hanging on the refrigerator door for every one to see.


And you know what? This is already worked with success. The kids appreciate having a list to refer to. They know what is expected of them. That alone will reduce every one's stress levels.


What do you do for back to school success?


Thanks for reading,

Erica


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