Wednesday, June 13, 2018

20 Must Have Items For Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs


Learning how to maintain and perform simple repairs is a critical skill to learn. Most people in this time do not know how to do this. Unless you take a shop class in high school geared towards vehicle care and repair, it is not a skill that is taught. Fathers used to teach it to their sons and daughters in order for them to know what to do, but that is becoming a lost skill too.

Now, you need to teach yourselves. Lucky for us, there is a plethora of videos and websites that shows us how to do this. If you are fortunate enough to find someone who knows how to maintain and repair a vehicle, please ask them to teach you. While I used to be able to do a lot of my own repairs and maintenance, I find that my skills are getting rusty. I need to learn how to do this again too.

Some of you have new or newer vehicles that you may not be able to work on due to the computer or how much has changed in cars and trucks. I would look for a Haynes Repair Manual specific to your vehicle. I would recommend you pick one up no matter what year your vehicle is. However, newer vehicles can be difficult to repair, but you should still learn to maintain them to the best of your abilities.

This list of must have items can look different for everyone. It can be difficult to have and keep all these things, but I have learned from others that they are very important to have on hand. Once you acquire these things, please learn how to use them. They can save you a lot of money in labor costs from the mechanic. You may also need to repair your car on the road and will need to know how to use these things.

20 Must Have Items For Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs

1. Oil Filter Wrench

2. Oil and Filters

3. Antifreeze

4. Air Filter

5. Power Steering Fluid and Transmission Fluid

6. Wipers

7. Wiper Fluid

8. Tools like a screwdriver set and a metric and standard socket set

9. Fuses

10. Battery tester and charger

11. Tire Pressure Gauge

12. Tire Repair Kit

13. Brake Fluid

14. Oil Drain Pan to catch oil and other fluids

15. Code Reader (make sure it works for your year of vehicle)

16. Full Size Spare Tire

17. Tire Iron and Jack (usually comes with most vehicles)

18. Air Compressor and Chuck

19. Replacement Bulbs for Headlights, Taillights, and Blinkers

20. Battery Jumper Cables

Another things I would recommend getting is a Vehicle Emergency Kit. If you are broken down on the side of the road, these kits can be invaluable. There are two different kinds of kits - one is for roadside emergencies and the other is for when you are stuck in your vehicle. Both are good things to have in your vehicle.

What else would you add to the list? What items do you find crucial to have for your vehicles?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Are You Prepared To Live Without?


One of the things about prepping is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Granted, we all believe in food storage and having things on hand to survive a disaster or a power outage. However, I think sometimes the emphasis on accumulating things gets out of hand. We focus on stuff instead of skills. We don't think about the idea that we could be living without a lot of things.

If you are preparing for a long term event, you can only accumulate and use things until you run out of them or have a plan to replace them eventually. You can keep a lot of food on hand, but you need a way to replenish the food. Most people will garden or raise livestock.You can only keep so much potable water on hand before you have to come up with a way to replenish that water. The list goes on, but eventually we will have to find ways to replenish what we have or live without them. Our priorities will shift in a hurry to important things like food, water, and shelter.

As Americans, we like to accumulate a lot of stuff that doesn't really have a meaning to us. We think we need a lot of things that we really don't need. We are subject to a culture that wants us to buy more and more without consequence. We are encouraged to buy new whenever possible and throw away the old. We are bombarded with processed food and gadgets to make life much easier.

The problem is that in terms of a cataclysmic event, we would probably not have those things available to us at all or would run out shortly. In a short-term disaster or power outage, we would probably not have those things to rely on. So the questions begs, "What are you prepared to live without?"

I have been feeling convicted lately as I place orders online for things I am not sure we need. There are definitely things we have been buying that I don't want to live without. I finally broke down and bought a grain grinder for flour and feed. I have purchased some books on cooking with more garden produce than meat. We have been buying a lot of materials for repairs and maintenance that been badly needed at our place. However, I even struggle with impulse purchases at the store or a cold drink at the convenience. That money would be better served in savings than on a temporary pleasure. While I believe you don't live forever and we should live a little, that doesn't mean we should live foolishly.

I think we, as preppers, are called to a simpler life. We should be learning to live without processed food. We should be living simply. We should be saving money instead of spending it foolishly. We should be living experiences and not buying stuff that may have no meaning later. We don't want our stuff weighing us down if we need to leave quickly or move in a hurry. We should be learning skills to make, fix, or replace our things and get out of the habit of buying new. We should be learning to live with less.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos and documentaries on decluttering, living simpler, living with less, and similar subjects. For some reason, it has been really hitting home lately. I know I have too much stuff and I don't have as much as some. What hits home for me though is that these people live without a lot stuff that we think is a necessity and are completely happy without it. They don't have anything that isn't a necessity or serves a purpose.

As preppers, I think we need to look at our preps that way. I keep a lot of emergency preps on hand, but I keep a lot of stuff for 'just in case'. I might need it. I somehow doubt I will need those things. I think I will need to learn to live without a lot of stuff. I think we could all learn to live without a lot of stuff. There are things you need to have for prepping. Don't get me wrong. I know that. In that case, "Two is one and one is none" philosophy still has its place.

Here the thing about SHTF: You will probably be learning to live without stuff because it might not be available to you anymore. Your things could be destroyed or you could lose some of your possessions. You might run out of certain items that cannot be easily replaced. You will be forced to live without and, for some, that can be a rough lesson to learn. Most people will be learning that way which can cause undue burden on those around them. This is not a good thing and can be easily remedied now.

What do you think you could live without?

Thanks for reading,
Erica




Sunday, June 3, 2018

20 Great Prepping/Survival Father's Day Gifts For The Dad in Your Life!



Father's Day is wonderful time to celebrate the man in your life who either helped you bring your children into the world or helped bring you into the world. You may also want to celebrate the men who helped guide and mentor you at some point in your life. There are the standard, boring gifts to give to guys like a tie or a grill set. However, this year, I would like to offer some suggestions on gifts that will help him be more prepared and therefore help your family be more prepared. More than likely, he will like the gift better too!

I have chosen gifts from all price ranges so that you can stay in your budget while gift giving. If you think something would be perfect, but a little more money than you want to spend, consider going in with a sibling or your mother for the gift!

(These prices are based off Amazon and other websites listed prices. Please understand prices can change at any time! These are also affiliate links that help to keep this site running and provide a small income for my family, but doesn't cost anymore for you. Thanks for using them!)

20 Great Prepping/Survival Father's Day Gifts For The Dad in Your Life!

Under $10 Father's Day Gifts:
1. Work or Mechanics Gloves - A good pair of gloves is a very handy thing to have and to protect the hands. Guys appreciate a good pair of gloves!
2. Ka-Bar Tactical Spork - If you have a guy who like to go camping and/or spend time practicing wilderness survival, this item would be a great addition to his kit! If you are looking for something a little different, check out the Coleman Camper's Utensil Set.
3. Tactical Pens - These multi-use pens are great for carrying with you and on you.
4. Vehicle Escape Tool - These tools are important to have in every vehicle you own. This piece of safety/survival equipment would always be appreciated.

Under $25 Father's Day Gifts:
5. Books - I have a dad who loves to read. There is some great prepper/survival fiction and nonfiction books that would make great presents for the dad who is a reader too.
6. Flashlights - A good flashlight is worth its weight in gold. Find one that is heavy duty with a good beam.
7. Backpack - For carrying the daily essentials, for every day carry, or to use as a get home bag. A quality lightweight backpack will serve a guy well.
8. Emergency Survival Outdoor Gear Kit - This is also a great item to have for camping and emergency kits. With most of these kits having at least ten tools, your guy will have fun using it and practicing with it.

Under $50 Father's Day Gifts:
9. Water Bottle with a filter - This is a great present for anyone, not just the guys. It is great daily use item as well as for emergency kits, get home bags, and camping.
10. Camp Stove. A camp stove is a necessity for prepping and survival. I know you can cook over an open fire or grill, but a camp stove makes some cooking a lot easier!
11. Camping Cookset. I think these pans would be handy for camping and for your preps. This is an easy gift to give especially for the camper guy in your life.
12. Hammock. Whether you choose a camping hammock or a regular hammock, your guy would definitely appreciate it. For sleeping or relaxing, this would be a fun, but handy gift to give.

Under $100 Father's Day Gifts:
13. Ratcheting Wrench Set - I don't know a guy who wouldn't want a set of these. Most of the time, a wrench goes missing and needs to be replaced anyway!
14. Campfire grills, cast iron pans, and utensils. Who doesn't like cooking over an open fire? Most guys who camp do and they would love some equipment to make it easier.
15. Portable Kitchen. If you are going to be doing some outdoor cooking for days or camping for longer than a day, you want an outdoor portable kitchen. I know I would love this when I am grilling!
16. Fishing Pole and Spinning Reel. These can run in all price ranges, but a standard pole and reel is usually under $100. If your dad wants to learn fishing or needs a new pole, this would be a great gift!

Under $200 Father's Day Gifts:
17. Binoculars. These run in all price ranges, but if you are going to a pair for a gift invest in a good pair that will help you see far and last a long time.
18. Tent. Again, tents can run in all price ranges, but a good one will cost over $100 for certain. You want it to be waterproof and have adequate room.
19. EcoZoom Versa Camping Stove. This is a great stove to use outside. You do not need electricity or gas - wood, charcoal and/or biomass fuels this stove! Guys like to play and experiment and this would a great way to let them do it!
20. Family 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit. Whether you want to put one together yourself or buy one put together, you can not go wrong with a 72 hour kit for the guys in your life.

Hope you find the perfect present!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Think Long Term With Perennials When Planting Your Garden and Yard


Gardening can be a lot of fun especially when you start reaping the benefits from all that work. Some of the hardest work, but greatest reward when planting your garden is planting perennials. Perennials come in several forms, but what you are looking for are plants, bushes, and trees that will produce food every year.

From a prepping standpoint, you want a constant food source. Most perennials are not easy to kill or hard to establish. However, if you are thinking long term, you want to start these perennials now to get them established. There are perennials can take 1-3 years to produce food. Trees can take even longer to produce food. You want to get them in the ground this summer and fall.

From a homesteading standpoint, growing your food is always a delight. There is always a satisfaction in providing your food and reducing your independence on the grocery store. Planting perennials is always rewarding in that you reap what you sow every year.

From a frugal living standpoint, growing your food means less money you spend on groceries. Win-win! Shopping from your garden is always better than shopping at the store.

Now, I have nothing against annuals. You will see a lot of annuals in my garden. However, I want to know I have a constant source of food every year. It will not be enough to sustain us, but will be enough to add to a meal. I can also expand my perennials and plant more using cutting from the original plants. A lot of perennials will do their own spreading of roots and start new plants on their own.

What perennials should you be planting?

1. Raspberries. They are some of the easiest perennials to grow. Their root system will cause them to start new plants and can double or triple within a year of planting. They are easy to maintain and easy to transplant. You should have fruit in 1-2 years.

2. Rhubarb. Again, very easy to grow for most areas. They do like a lot of sunshine so find a good sunny spot for them. Every couple of years, I like to feed my plants with composted manure in the fall to keep producing well. They will spread a little so give them some space. You can start harvesting them in the second year, but it is best to wait until the third year to harvest.

3. Blackberries. Pretty easy to grow. Keep them trimmed back to three feet so they become bushy and will produce better fruit. You should have fruit in 1-2 years.

4. Blueberries. These can be difficult to establish. You will want to make sure you have acidic soil or that you mend your soil to be acidic when you plant them. If you know you want to plant them next Spring, I would work on that blueberry bed now so they soil is good for them. They will need some pruning as they get bigger. They will fruit in 2-3 years.

5. Elderberries, strawberries, and other berry plants. There are many different kinds of berry plants and I encourage you to look into them. They are all delicious! Most of them will take 1-3 years to get establish and start producing fruit.

6. Asparagus. These plants will need a little work to start growing, but they are worth it! They come as crowns that you will need to plant 8-12 inches deep. I would also add a good layer of compost in the hole before you plant them. You will be able to harvest asparagus in the third year. Asparagus can last as long as 20-30 years in one spot.

7. Herbs like lovage, sorrel, mint, thyme, sage, and more. Most perennial herbs will come back every year if they are cut back in the fall. Herbs are so multi-dimensional that you do not want to be without them. Some herbs can be difficult to start from seed so investing a plant or getting a transplant may be worth your while. Check your gardening zone to see what herbs will grow best in your area.

8. Garlic and walking onions. Both plants produce bulbs that you can plant again in the fall for a crop next summer. Both are easy to grow and need very little tending besides a good layer of mulch in the fall to protect them from winter.

9. Fruit trees. These will take a few years to grow and produce. Realistically you will not see any production from fruit trees for at least three years, but more than likely it will be 5-7 years before any fruit falls. Like any other planted tree, you will need to water the trees well for the first year to get them established. You may also need to protect them in the winter from the elements, deer, and rabbits.

10. Nut trees. These are similar to fruit trees. They will take a few years to grow and produce. You will need to water them well in the first year to establish them. And you will need to protect them.

11. Greens like kale, radicchio, watercress, and stinging nettles. Many people think that greens are just an annual, but there are varieties that are actually perennials. I know from experience that kale will come back a second year if you forget to pull the plants in the fall. I was still harvesting kale in December that year!

12. Dandelions. Okay, I realize 99% of you will never have to plant dandelions because they grow rampant around you. However, they are overlooked for their benefits. The greens are good in a salad. The flowers make jelly, wine, teas, and salves.

This is a general list, but there are many other perennials you can plant. Some people are able to plant artichokes which can be a perennial, but artichokes in northern Iowa do not always work out. Look up your gardening zone and figure out what would be best for you to grow! Growing perennials helps you to be more self-sufficient, save money, and gives you a continual food source. What is not to love about perennials?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Have You Considered Spare Parts for Your Preps?


One of the most overlooked parts of most people's preparations is spare parts for the equipment they plan to use in an emergency or a crisis. We all like to think we are covered when we have the actual items in our possession, but what if they break? What if the power source runs out? When you know you could have fixed the problem with a simple spare part, you will get pretty frustrated pretty fast.

What spare parts should you have on hand? That depends on your equipment and what you plan to use it for. Your list could look different from mine because we might have different items. The items mentioned in this post are general items. Most of these things are basic items and would be able to fix or repair your broken-down item. I am also thinking about needing to recharge or refuel items because your generator or camp stove will be worthless if you run out of fuel. 

Batteries are always a must. While having hand cranked flashlights and radios are great, most emergency equipment works better and faster with batteries. I would keep a lot of batteries in sorts of sizes. Most battery powered objects take either AA, AAA, C, D, and 9 volt batteries. I keep mine in a storage container similar to this. You could keep multiples of these storage containers in the house, garage, shop, and wherever you may need to use them. If you need speciality batteries, I would make a list of those and pick those batteries up the next time shopping. For speciality batteries, I would keep them near the object that takes them so you aren't hunting them down in an emergency. 

With so much technology and solar power these days, chargers and charging cords have become a must. I personally do not get rid of an old charger or charging cords until I absolutely know it will not work for a device in the home. A lot of charging cords work for multiple items. I would test the cords periodically and dispose of the ones that do not work or cannot be fixed.

Extra fuel cans are a must to have on hand. Some may not consider them a spare part, but you will regret not having enough fuel on hand when a situation happens. I would keep your fuel cans full and rotate the fuel every 3-6 months. I would also keep a fuel stabilizer either in the fuel or have it on hand to keep the fuel from going stale. I would also keep extra propane cylinders on hand and full in one-pound and twenty-pound cylinders. Propane does not go bad. If you have kerosene heaters or cookers, keep some kerosene on hand too. Likewise, if you have a propane or butane torch, you will need extra cylinders on hand.

Other items to keep on hand:
  • Extra screws of all sizes
  • Scrap Lumber to fix broken doors, frames, and windows
  • Hitch pins, cotter pins, clevis pins, and lynch pins
  • O-rings and rubber gaskets of all sizes
  • Snap rings
  • Wiring Kit (for autos) and/or an Electrical Repair Kit
  • Light Bulbs for your flashlights and regular lights
  • Sewing and Mending Kit

Like I said before, you might consider other spare parts essential for your preps. You might to want to keep spare parts for:
  • Your vehicle (bug-out or daily driver)
  • Generator(s)
  • Camper, ATVs, and boats
  • Tractor or Semi (if you have one or more)
  • Guns, Bows, and other weapons
  • Water filtering systems
  • Tillers, Snowblowers, Lawn Mowers, and other such equipment
  • Log Splitters, Wood Chippers, Chainsaws, and Trimmers
  • Wood stoves, Cook stoves, Grills, and other cookers
  • Any other equipment you have that is not listed

Without sounding dire, these items could be the difference between life and death. If you have these spare parts on hand, you could be living a much easier life than if you did not. However, having spare parts on hand will not do you a lot of good if you don't know how to fix or repair something in the first place. So you should be working on your skills and learning how to repair your own equipment.

What else would you add to this list?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Grow and Raise Your Own Food Now So You Can Learn From Loss and Failure Now Rather Than Later


Growing your own food is not easy. Raising your own food is not easy. Many people think they can just put some seeds in the ground and they will have food. Many more people are easily intimidated by raising animals for meat. However, they think they could do it if they had to when a SHTF happens.

The fact is that the truth is very, very different.

I have been gardening for many years. For a lot of those years, I was a lazy gardener. I didn't want to do the work of improving my soil, providing critter control, or even weed the garden. My garden couldn't have sustained us for more than a few meals, much less preserve any of it.

It wasn't until I got into a preparedness, self-reliant state of mind that I started to take gardening more seriously. I started weeding it more religiously. I planted perennials that would provide food year after year. I started raising layer hens and put their used bedding and fertilizer on my garden. Talk about a huge improvement to my soil!

When we had critters eating my plants, we put up a fence. We moved plants around for a better layout in the garden. We learned about companion planting. Gardening was a lot more work than I planned on it being, but I enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Some things I was scared to try ended up working for the garden.

My garden started growing like crazy! Now I can eat, preserve what we don't eat, and still have enough to give away to friends and family. Do we still know everything about gardening? Oh no. Every year I learn something new. Some plants fail. Seeds don't come up (zucchini last year). Mistakes are made. Surprises happen.

I didn't pick broccoli at the right time last year and it bolted (and tasted awful!). We thought a plant that had come up was a summer squash, but it ended up being a weird pumpkin hybrid dropped by birds. That same plant took over my garden just like the pumpkins did the year before. My peas did not fill out the pods very well. The fall planting of the peas did not go well either - they were bitter tasting. I had my first decent crop of bell peppers last year after trying for years to get more than two peppers from six plants!

Gardening and raising livestock are skills. You need to learn how to do these things in order to learn these skills. Like learning any other skill, there is always a learning curve. You will think you know it all, but find out you have a lot more to learn. You can't expect to read all about gardening and raising livestock and be able to do it when you are desperate for food.

You have to learn to deal with loss. The very first batch of chicks I had, I lost nine chicks in the first three days because they needed a heat lamp. Since I had them inside the house, I thought I had the room warm enough. That wasn't good enough. After I replaced them, I kept a heat lamp on them for five weeks.

We had fifteen laying hens and lost them all to a mink getting in the chicken coop. In a different time, we would have been devastated to lose a vital protein source. We were sad to lose good eggs and the small income from selling them. We were devastated to lose chickens to a senseless killing because minks like to kill for the fun of it. We had lost a couple of hens to hawks before, but nothing like this.

Did we learn something new? Yes we did. While I knew minks existed, I had no idea the damage they could cause. I didn't know what they looked like or how small they were. We are now changing the fencing in the outdoor area of the coop to prevent this from happening again. We are now waiting for fifteen chicks to grow up and start laying. Since this is a new breed of laying hens for us, we are learning about them.

So gardening and raising chickens (and other livestock) is not as easy as it sounds. If this is part of your plan for preparedness, you need to practice these skills now. I have been practicing these skills for years and am still learning new things. Most gardeners will tell you that their gardens are not the same from year to year. Chickens are susceptible to predators and human mistakes. One year is not the same as another. Every batch of chicks I get is different from the last one. I am always learning something new.

If you are planning on your garden to provide all your food needs, you need to be gardening now and making that garden big enough to provide for all your food needs. You will learn by trial and error how much you need to plant, how big your garden needs to be, and what you need to plant for this garden to provide your food for a year or longer. Most people do not have enough area to plant this much so you also need to learn how to garden using trellises and poles. Again, this is something that should not be learned when you are in an emergency situation. It needs to be learned now.

If you are planning on raising chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, and more, you need to learn now. Raising livestock is never easy. You have to deal with loss and injuries. You have to deal with butchering your own livestock. You have to learn how to raise animals from babies to adults. If this is part of your prepping plans, you need to be working on this now. If you live in town, see if you can have these animals in town. Otherwise, befriend a local farmer and ask if you can have some livestock at their place. If you live on an acreage, get started! These are skills to be learned now, not later.

As with any other skill, the time to learn them is now, not when a crisis hits. With gardening and raising livestock, you could be facing starvation before you have any food if you didn't know how to raise it before. Having a stockpile of seeds is great, but learn how to grow those seeds now, not later. Learn how to raise your own food now, not later.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 14, 2018

Simple 72 Hour Kits: A Step-By-Step System for Busy Families Book Review


Simple 72 Hour Kits: A Step-By-Step System for Busy Families by Misty Marsh is a great book about building your 72 hour kit in a way that will be comprehensive and easy to do. Many people find putting together a kit like this intimidating (including me!), but she lays it out in such a way that will not overwhelm you. I like how she breaks down building your kit in simple weekly bites and lets you custom tailor it for your family. 

Misty gives great tips and ideas on how to build your kit for your family and specifically your kids. I know some of you do not have kids, but a lot of information for 72 hour kits are geared towards adults. She lets you know how they deal with young kids and how much she thinks they can carry in a backpack. Kids as young as six are capable of carrying a pack with clothes, shoes, food, and a few other necessities.

I also like how she lays out this kit for three full days. Your 72 hour kit should last you three days when you can either return home, buy more supplies, or find a shelter. She doesn't address weapons or ammo, just the necessary items for surviving three days if you need to evacuate for any reason. 

She is very honest and real about her kits. She admits to not being able to afford everything for their kits at once. She makes the 72 hour kit affordable with giving ideas for cheaper options as well as more expensive items. By breaking down this kit over 26 weeks, most people can afford to put together a 72 hour kit and do it with items they already own too.

I would highly recommend this book. Admittedly, we do not have 72 hour kits because we do not plan on having to leave home. However, I have rethought that idea. We do not know the reasons that we may have to leave so having these on hand would be better than not having them. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Printfriendly

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...