Tuesday, March 20, 2018

We Are All Preppers, But Some of Us Don't Know It Yet

Prepping is what it is. Exactly what it is. Prepping is getting ready for the future. We are mentally, physically, and spiritually getting ready for something that is going to happen. Whether that "something" is in an hour, a day, a week, a year, or sometime in the future, we are getting ready for it.

We can be preparing for anything:
  • We put money away for a rainy day. They are getting ready for something that could happen and they would need that money for. That is prepping.
  • New parents stock up on diapers, wipes, and formula so they don't run out. That is prepping. 
  • We shop garage sales and clearance racks for clothing and the next size up clothing for our kids so we are ready for them when they grow into them. That is prepping. 
  • We find a good deal at the grocery store and stock up on that item to have in the future. That is prepping.
  • We put money away for kids' college and other future expenses. That is prepping.
  • We save money for retirement. That is prepping. 
  • We pay for all kinds of insurance for anything that could happen. That is prepping.
  • We go camping and decide to "unplug and unwind" for the weekend. That is prepping. 
  • We take a first aid and CPR class. That is prepping.
  • We take a hunter's safety course. That is prepping.
  • We take up a new hobby and learn a new skill. That is prepping. 
  • We buy groceries for the week so we have food to eat. That is prepping. 

So many of the everyday things we do is prepping. Many people are so turned off by the term "prepper", but really we are all preppers in some way. We don't think about being a prepper because we are just doing things to prepare for the future or some future event.

While many people think of prepping as:
  • Stockpiling food
  • Building a bug out shelter
  • Owning a gun and several other weapons
  • Learning survival skills
  • Learning first aid
  • Turning the home into a fortress
  • Growing food 
  • Running drills
  • Making plans for evacuation, security, etc.

There is so much more to prepping. Trust me, those things just listed are important too. However, when you talk to hardcore preppers, they will tell you that they find the first list just as important as the second list. They often do things from both lists in the same day.

Prepping is what it is. It is getting ready for the future. We are all have different visions and paths for the future. Our lives change and we are always getting ready for the next stage in life. What you do and what you prepare for can be different than that of your neighbors, but you are both doing what you can to get ready for the future.

Some of us just may see "life" in the future: kids, jobs, college, weddings, homes, and retirement. Some of us may see more in the future - what can happen if something else happens. All of us prepare for the future so we don't have to worry about what can happen. We all have varying levels of preparedness. There is nothing wrong with that.

While some people just see "life" in the future, some of us see more. We see natural disasters, job loss, an uncertain economy, political and civil unrest, global problems, and much more. We choose to take our preparedness to the next level. We look for ways to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. We look for ways to intentionally be ready for what we think could be coming. Again, there is nothing wrong with that either.

Some of us do not see ourselves as preppers. We may identify as gardeners, hunters, cooks, woodworkers, and more. We may have fun tinkering in the shop. We may like to try new recipes on the grill and love to cook over an open fire. We may find target practice to be relaxing. We might think watching YouTube videos on how to do things or how people used to live in history fun. We may enjoy working on our own vehicles. We grow plants in our apartments.

The funny thing is that those are all "prepping" skills and learning. We may not see it as being prepared for the future, but those skills and learning may come in very handy in the future. When the power is out, but you can still cook a meal on the grill. You can cook a meal with whatever food you have on hand or in the garden when you aren't able to leave home. Your car needs a new battery and you know how to replace it. You can build a fire to keep warm. Any skill you learn will always come in handy sometime, but you just never know when.

Prepping happens every day and in ways we don't even realize. We don't realize that we are prepping because we just see what we are doing as getting ready for the future. The future can happen at any time. How much you choose to prepare and how far you want to take preparedness will depend upon you which is what separates preppers from each other. There is always someone you think will be too extreme in their prepping. There is always going to be that person you think should be doing more to get their act together. There are many levels of preparedness and only you can decide what level you are comfortable being on.

Just know this: We are all preppers, but some of us don't know it yet.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Prepper's Survival Navigation Book Review

The Prepper's Survival Navigation: Find Your Way with Map and Compass as Well as Stars, Mountains, Rivers and Other Wilderness Signs by Walter Glen Martin is a great tool to explore the world around you. It is a resource book, a tool, and a great learning book for using maps, compasses, and other ways to find your way around. He also talks about wilderness survival while using these tools.

For someone who can use a map, but not much else, I found this book to be a great source of information. I can't wait to start hiking this Spring and use the methods Mr. Martin described in his book. While I have knowledge of compasses, I learned I was not using them right nor to their full potential. I also learned some new things in wilderness survival by reading this book that I hope to practice also. Because reading about skills and actually practicing skills are two different things.

One of the things I would recommend about this book is to actually practice what he writes about. The very first chapter is about finding north without a compass. Right away, you are learning to use your brain to find direction instead of using GPS or a gadget.

The next thing I would recommend is buying the items he suggests using. He gives very specific instructions on what to look for in a good compass and a map. I would follow those recommendations. Mr. Martin was raised in the mountains, has worked in the mountains, and still lives in the mountains. Safe to say, he is very skilled and knows what he is talking about.

The last thing I would recommend is to go camping and use the skills he is talking about. You should take the book with you and practice building a fire, finding north without a compass, looking for landmarks and natural signs to point you in the right direction, and relax without a lot of pressure on you. While you may not want to be a survival expert, having the skills to survive in the wilderness will only serve you in good ways.

I would highly recommend this book. I think Mr. Martin brings some new information to this prepping atmosphere while being clear and easy to follow in the skills he is trying to teach you. I greatly enjoyed this book and can't wait to learn some new skills!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Nine Ways to Beat The Food Rationing System When It Happens Again

Right now, food seems to be plentiful in America. There is plenty of it in the stores and you hear stories of how much food is wasted from restaurants and grocery stores. However, there are some factors that could lead us to a rationing system in a hurry if something happened. Those things do not even have to be catastrophic for us to be rationed.

In most natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, Red Cross and FEMA dive right in to help. However, they will only serve meals and/or give out limited amounts of food and water. Yes, many other people donate food and money when things like this happen, but what if they couldn't?

In WWI, the Americans were not put on a rationing system, but were asked to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less meat and wheat products. In WWII, Americans were put on a rationing system that became stricter as the war went on. Even then, this country imported a lot of food and supply chains were disrupted. In addition to that, the troops needed food overseas that would ship and travel well. We were asked to give up or limit certain foods to feed our troops which we did because we were patriotic and felt it was our duty to do so. Certain foods were not available because they were not in season or able to grow in the United States.

In today's America, this seems like a foreign concept. Food is literally everywhere! However, we have situations that can happen to start having our food rationed. Most grocery stores have only three days of food on their shelves in their storage rooms. If a blizzard or some other weather storm happens, those shelves will be wiped out in hours. Our local grocery store can be very short on supplies on Sunday because a lot of people get groceries on Sundays.

Now, imagine if there is a disruption in the transportation system. No trucks bringing food to the stores means a limited supply or no food to buy.

Imagine if we went to war again. A good deal of our food or ingredients for our food is imported. Less food coming into our country means less food to buy. That will not go over well with some people.

Imagine if you could not actually get to the grocery store. Some people are accustomed to shopping every day instead of once a week or two weeks. When food is rationed, often gas and tires are rationed too when will stop someone from going to the store every day.

Food will start to be rationed. Just like when food was rationed before, there will be a learning curve. People will have to adjust and some people will not adjust well. People will have to learn how to cook again and grow their own food. Some of those skills are completely lost in our inner cities.

What can you do to the beat the rationing system?

1. Food Storage. Now, more than ever, you need to have a food stockpile. No one knows how long food would be rationed for. No one planned for WWII to last for four years. There are still people recovering from the hurricanes last season. Puerto Rico is still getting on their feet and depending on FEMA and donations to feed their people (as of this post). Having a food stockpile is critical and having a year's worth of food is not out of line.

2. Grow Your Own Food. You will have to become your own supplier. If you start gardening now, you will have the skills to grow your own food. You don't even need a garden per say, but it is better to have a plot of land to grow food. However, use containers. Grow lettuce and spinach in pots inside the house. Grow tomatoes on the balcony or the patio. There are many creative ways to grow your food.

3. Raise Your Eggs and Meat. If you can, have some laying hens for eggs. Grow a few meat chickens for your own pot and freezer. If you can, raise more than chickens. Ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, goats, sheep, and cows can all be raised for butchering. You would be addressing one area of food that was also severely rationed by the end of WWII and probably would be again.

4. Foraging For Food. You should learn to identify weeds and other edibles that can be cooked or eaten in a salad. This was done during both WWI and WWII with excellent results. A great book on foraging and identifying edibles is The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer.  Learning how to tap trees for syrup and collecting nuts should be skills to learn now too.

5. Start Keeping Bees. Sugar was severely rationed in WWII. People are even more addicted to it now than they were then. Keeping bees and producing your own honey would easily help replace sugar or at least keep sugar for more important things. During the war, people would save their sugar for the holidays or very special occasions. They would do without sugar most of the time. We all could benefit from having less sugar in our diets too.

6. Learn To Preserve Your Own Food. Learning to can and dehydrate will become very important skills during a food rationing time. Again, this is a skill you need to learn and practice now. Start simple with jams and jellies and work your way up to making meals in a jar. Getting a good supply of canning jars and canning lids will be crucial too. Metal for those lids could be in short supply. There is non-metal lids to can with also, but they also take time to learn how to use.

7. Learn To Use Everything and Waste Nothing. We can be a very wasteful society nowadays and we really need to learn to use it all up. We need to learn to eat everything, re-purpose leftovers, compost scraps, and feed scraps to the animals.

8. Get Creative. You will have to learn to cook from scratch. You will have to learn how to use food in ways you never imagined. You will have to learn to eat more locally and seasonally. You may have to have odd food combinations at the supper table. Learn to be creative with food and keep an open mind about how to cook and use food.

9. Try New Foods Now. Never had turnips or rutabagas? They grow just about everywhere so now would be a good time to learn how to eat them. They are just examples, but learn how to prepare and eat new things especially vegetables. People ate better on the rationing system when they had vegetables available to them. Learn to eat more vegetables and figure out a way for your picky eaters to eat them too.

Rationing is never an easy thing, but you can learn to use it to your advantage. If you take steps now to learn these skills and start storing food, you will have an easier time living on a food rationing system.

Some other articles of interest would be:
Food Rationing, Food Storage, and Wartime: We Have Much To Learn
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The 12 Hand Tools You Need To Have In Your Tool Box

Everyone should have a good selection of tools on hand to be able to fix almost anything. Whether you are prepper or a homesteader, you will rely on these tools to build and fix most things. If you are into frugal living, you want these tools to help you extend the life of your items and be able to fix them.

This is a basic list that we came up with. These are the tools we cannot live without because we use them so much. You will see them in our house and shop tool boxes. Yes, that's right. We have two separate tool boxes and we keep multiples of these tools. That is how important they are to us!

With this list of tools, you should be able to fix almost anything:

1. Hammer for pounding nails, removing nails, to pry things apart, and to "gently" coax something in or out of place.

2. Set of screwdrivers - Phillips and standard to loosen or unloosen screws.

3. Socket Set - standard and metric sockets for working on household projects and vehicle maintenance.

4. Wrenches - standard and metric. Also a set of crescent (adjustable) wrenches for working on household projects and vehicle maintenance.

5. Pliers - regular, needle nose, and side cutters for holding things in place while you work on them, for twisting things into or out of place, and to cut wires or zip ties.

6. Visegrips (locking) pliers for clamping things in place or to get a better grip to loosen up items that seem to be stuck.

7. Hand Saw for cutting boards. A Hack Saw is also very handy to have to cut styrofoam, to shorten screws. and to cut some plastics like hose or PVC.

8. Utility Knife for making straight cuts, to cut something off, to scrape away caulk or glue, and can be used in place of scissors.

9. Tape Measure to measure items and rooms as well as where to cut a board.

10. Carpenter L Square for measuring accurate corners for cutting and to make certain your corners/walls are square.

11. Level to make sure you are attaching something to the wall right and level. You also use this for making walls, stairs, and much more to make sure everything is straight.

12.Carpenters Pencil and/or a Permanent Marker for making the mark to know where to attach something or screw something in as well as knowing where to cut.

You need to get yourself a good tool box to store these in. The amount of tools may be too much to store in a portable tool box, but these standalone tool boxes are great for storage and organization.

We know some of you will argue that if the grid goes down, you will need more including a hand drill. We get it. However, this is a basic 'everyone should have these tools' kind of list. You should have these tools on hand whether you live in a van, apartment, or house, single or married, college student or older, and urban or rural dweller. 

Fixing your own things will save you so much money. Nowadays, if you don't know how to fix something, there is probably a video online that will teach you! The Family Handyman website is also a great source of do it yourself and fix it yourself information!

Thanks for reading,
Erica and Rob

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Prepping Is Like Being On A Professional Racing Team...You Have To Do The Right Things To Win!

We watch a fair amount of NASCAR. I am continually impressed by the amount of strategy, teamwork, and hard work that goes into this sport. The drivers work hard to be in good condition so they can endure the 500-600 laps races. The teams have meetings to figure out what they can do better and how to improve their chances at winning. When it all comes together, victory is sweet.

Prepping is or should be like that.

As a prepper, you have should have a plan or a strategy. You should have attainable goals and be seeking to accomplish them. In racing the team wants to win, of course. However, they set their goals to be improving their time, their position, and have a better performing car. You should be looking to improve your skills. You should be continually working towards your goals. You should have a plan for what you are preparing for and how you can be ready. You want to win at prepping too and that is only achieved when a situation hits and you are ready. In the meantime, you should be looking to improve all the time.

Notice I mentioned "team"? Yes, you can prep alone and a fair amount of people do. However, prepping is a lot more effective when you have people who are helping you and prepping alongside of you. Whether you have a prepper community, group, neighbors, or your family, your prepping will go a lot smoother and be better when you have people on your team. Just like these racing teams who have a driver, crew chief, pit crew, and car builders, you should have a team of people who are willing to be part of your prepping success too.

You should be talking your "team" too so that you are all on the same page. On a racing team, everyone has their roles and their jobs. Whether your team is just your family or a group, everyone should know what they are doing in a situation. Everyone should have their roles and their jobs assigned and they should be practicing what they need to do. I also think people should be cross-trained in case a person is down or not able to perform their duties.

In professional racing, the driver and the pit crew are in better condition than a lot of athletes. Sitting in a hot car, racing hard for 3-4 hours, and having to be constantly aware and on alert during the whole race is a lot for a driver. That takes a lot of endurance and endurance is only created by working out intensely. These drivers run marathons, bike 30-60 miles at a time, participate in Ironman competitions, and/or workout intensely every day. Their pit crews are the same way and most of them were college/professional athletes. That does not happen by sitting on the couch, watching YouTube, and wishing to lose weight.

As a prepper, you need to be in that kind of condition. I encourage everyone to start prepping, but I really encourage everyone to start taking care of themselves. I am not in the best shape either, but I am trying to lose weight and workout more too. We need the same endurance that professional racers and pit crews have to get through the race. We need to workout, walk, run, bike, swim, and do whatever we can to be in the best condition possible so we can survive whatever situation we are preparing for.

Preppers also need to make sure they have what they need to survive a situation. You need the right tools to survive just like a racing team needs the right tools to work on the car and make the car the best car on the track. You need a good shelter, food, water, cooking source, heat, and all the other things preppers need to survive and thrive. You need the right tools.

Sometimes you might wonder if you have the right tools, but you never know when you need them so you should always have them. For example, I rarely use my camping stove except to try it once in a while to make sure it is working. However, I don't want to be without it because I can cook with it if we are out of power. When you get a glimpse of the NASCAR haulers, you see a lot of toolboxes and closets. They bring everything with them because they might need it. The same goes with your prepping items. You might need it so you should have it.

Which brings me to another point: you should probably have more than one. Yes, the phrase is 'two is one and one is none' in prepping. The same goes for most professional racing teams. They bring replacement parts, cars, fire suits, and a lot of other things just in case they need it. Your prepping should be similar. Do you have more than one way to cook food, gather water, resupply your food stockpiles, and make a fire? You need to think about having more than one way to do things and having more than one of everything.

You might have thought what can prepping and a professional racing team possibly have in common, but the answers are pretty clear. We can all learn a lot from watching others and sometimes even sports. Prepping takes a plan, strategy, teamwork, endurance, the right tools, and a good supply.

How do you think you can improve your prepping?

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Reality of Selling Eggs From Your Homestead

(In December, I wrote an article for the Rootsy Network where I am a guest contributor. I love what they are doing over there! If you are into homesteading, self-reliance, and do-it-yourself, you must check them out!)

When I started homesteading, I did not decide to homestead because I wanted to make money. I homesteaded because I wanted to live a simpler life and provide for myself by producing my own food. After trying to unsuccessfully garden for a few years, I figured out what I was doing wrong. With the garden going strong, I wanted to continue on the homesteading journey.

To me, the next logical step was to get egg-laying chickens. Being a rookie chicken owner, I ordered fifteen brown egg laying chicks in a variety of breeds. They came in the mail, I picked them up as soon as the post office called, and we got them set up in their place. We lost about five of them within a week. I went to the local feed store and purchased six more chicks.

For the rest of this article, head over to The Rootsy Network and check it out! 


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Yes, You Can Live Without A Clothes Dryer!

There are some modern conveniences I would not want to live without: running water and a washing machine for starters. There are some modern conveniences that are not really necessary, but they make life easier. I lived without a microwave for over four months until someone took mercy on my children and bought one. I was fine without it.

Another appliance I lived without is a clothes dryer. I lived for over two years without a clothes dryer and I really didn't miss it! The clothes dryer would no longer dry the clothes. I didn't want to hire an appliance repair person to come out to my place. I knew it was a minimum $85 for them to come out, plus parts, and any additional labor. I don't like spending my money like that because sometimes I am cheap (not frugal).

I didn't fix the clothes dryer myself because I was slightly baffled by my clothes dryer. I don't always have faith in myself when it comes to fixing things. So I lived without it while having four kids (two in sports and dance) in the house. How?

1. Get yourself a large clothes drying rack. I know this is an investment and I had mine long before my clothes dryer broke. I hang up a lot of clothes anyway to keep clothes lasting longer. I suggest getting a heavy duty, wooden clothes drying rack. Buying a cheap, small, flimsy clothes drying rack is not going to serve you well. I broke two of them before getting this one. One of these large ones typically hold 1-2 loads of laundry.

2. Find a way to hang clothes outside. You can have a clothesline or an umbrella drying rack. There are so many options for clothes line outside! I have an old-fashioned one that was rebuilt two years. I love it! However, you can get one that pulls out from the house and attaches to a post. You can use a pulley system. Also, invest in some good quality clothespins.

3. Be creative. I strung up lines in my business to hang even more clothes, but I wish I would have known about this pull-out clothes line! I used hanger to hang shirts. I used back of chairs for other items. If you have an outdoor balcony, use that to lay clothes over (clean it first)!

4. Create a system for laundry. I was already in the habit of washing 1-2 loads every day which is perfect for living without a clothes dryer. I could wash and hang a load before I went to work every day or at night before I went to bed. In the summer, hanging clothes outside means they dried very quickly unless the humidity was high. Then I didn't bother. In the winter, clothes dried fairly quickly in the house because the air was dry and sucked away the moisture. Also, I am one of those people who like to wash, dry, and fold the clothes in one day so this system was actually perfect for me.

5. What do you do about crunchy clothes? You can cut back a little on laundry detergent. You do not need as much as the manufacturer says. You can add vinegar to the rinse cycle on the washer to help with this. You can add liquid fabric softener. Or you can just deal with it. Crunchy clothes and towels did not honestly bother me. I would give them a good shake after taking them off the line to loosen them up. In the summer, pick a windy day to hang jeans and towels. They won't be crunchy!

After a little over two years, we decided the clothes dryer needed to be fixed for various reasons. I started doing some research on the internet and YouTube. I found out the two biggest reasons my clothes dryer wasn't probably working. I ordered two parts for a grand total of $13.00. One of those parts was a thermal fuse which solved the problem. Crazy, right?

Fixing the clothes dryer wasn't bad at all. The worst part was getting the dryer moved away from the wall enough to take the back panel off. While we had it off, we cleaned the dryer and replaced the dryer hose and vent.

Still, I enjoyed living without the clothes dryer and never really considered it an inconvenience. The clothes lasted longer, didn't shrink, and didn't fade. The only time I went to the laundromat was when I washed quilts and large comforters. Truth be told, they didn't really fit in my washer or dryer so this was going to happen anyway.

What modern convenience could you live without?

Thanks for reading,


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