Showing posts with label preparedness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preparedness. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Kind of Life Is Not Cute or Kitschy...It's A Lot of Work


This weekend has been busy. I am getting ready to post several pictures on Instagram about what I got done this week and I am still struck by how much work gets done around here every weekend. What strikes me, even more, is how much work there is to do everyday and weekend.

I choose this life. I wasn't delusional about what it would entail. Being a prepper is work. Being a homesteader is work. Being self-reliant is work. Being frugal is more work. All four of those together means the work never lets up. I know people who can't handle it and I don't blame them. There are days I can barely handle it.

Some of you probably think that all I do is run a blog and hang out here at home. That couldn't be further from the truth. I work as an office manager Monday through Friday, 7:30 am - 4:30 pm. I run an eBay store that I have been adding more and more inventory too. I have two very active teenagers at home and two young adults who live with their husband or boyfriend. I have two grandchildren. And I blog and write for other sites.

I am not asking or seeking sympathy. Like I said before, I choose this life.

What gets me though is the people who think this kind of life is cute or kitschy. What we do to thrive or survive is trendy. Like raising chickens is adorable. Like raising a garden is so good for my health and the environment. Like everything I do to save money in a day is so consumer conscious.

Spare me the trendy terms and the idealistic attitude. That is not why I do it.

I raise my own food because, quite frankly, I save myself a lot of money and I know where some of my food comes from. I enjoy raising my own food, but some days it is a lot of work. The weeding never ends. Sometimes I have more food to preserve than I have time to do. There are times I take a vacation day or two from work just to can tomatoes. I get frustrated because my chickens and the other wildlife ate my berries before I got to pick them. I wish the chickens would figure out that I really don't want them on the front porch.

I raise my own laying chickens because the eggs are really that much better than store-bought eggs. They help fertilize the yard which means I (meaning mostly the teenagers) get to mow more often. They like to eat bugs which is why they get to free range. Besides that, free-ranging chickens eat less feed which means I save money and get better tasting eggs.  However, reference the front porch comment and berry comment again.

I prepare because I truly believe everyone should. I think you should be prepared because that is the responsible thing to do. I prepare because I don't want to be in a situation of begging for handouts if I can help it. I want to have plenty of food and water on hand so my kids do not go thirsty or hungry. I want to be able to survive a power outage and more. I want to be prepared for natural disasters and economic downturns. However, preparedness can be work. I garden and raise my own food in order to be better prepared and less reliant on the system. I can and preserve to have more food on hand. I buy the supplies and learn the skills so I know how to take care of my family and myself.

I can and preserve my own food because, again, I like knowing where my food comes and I take a great satisfaction in knowing I produce it. I like being less reliant on a food system that takes pleasure in hiding chemicals and harmful additives to food. I make a lot of my own food and make a lot of food from scratch because I know what is in the food. I have a daughter who is lactose-intolerant and there is a lot of dairy hidden in food using names that I cannot pronounce and are not even natural. By preserving our own food, we can all be healthier and more conscious of what is in our food.

I like saving money and making money. I will not even be ashamed of either of those things. I am a borderline workaholic which makes this life even remotely possible. I juggle a lot of balls every day. I think a lot of people who are in my shoes would say that. There is a lot of people who do this without an outside income to rely on. There is a lot of people who barely scrape by every day and would think I am wasteful when I have a lot of weeks where I barely scrape by. There is a lot of people who live this life and do not think this life is cute or kitschy either.

I hear a lot of people who "crave" the simple life. I might have that phrase in my byline, but I would not be sure that I could accurately say that I live it either. Simple is not running from one place to another and trying to get more accomplished in a day than there are hours in a day. Simple is not trying to balance kids with work, with home life, with keeping a house, with keeping animals, and with trying to raise my own food. Some of that is simple, but not all combined together. While most people live in the rat race, chasing the "American Dream", and being in debt to their ears, this life I live is not always simple. It just looks better than those people.

Again, I choose this life and everything in it. If you wish you could do all the things I do, then do more than wish for it. That is what I did. Wishing does not make things happen. Wishing does not do anything, but make you keep wishing. If you want to be a homesteader or a prepper, then do what you can to make that happen. Just be aware that this life is a lot of work, but the results are rewarding.

I won't delude you either. I would not be where I am at without some help. I have a guy in my life who does what he can every day to get stuff done. My kids do chores, clean the chicken coop, and mow. I live on an acreage rent-free, but I pay all the bills except property taxes and pay for almost all of the upkeep. I have a lot of people who support me and live this life as well so they can commiserate with me. I do get out of the house and have fun periodically because I need to relax.

Another thing about this life - it comes with great disappointment sometimes. Your garden doesn't turn out well or your cucumber plants become victims of the wildlife. Your entire flock of laying hens is killed by a mink. Your only vehicle has to go into the shop for very expensive repairs. Your kids or you become ill resulting in unexpected medical bills. You lose your job and have to rely on your food storage to get you through.

This life is a learning experience. You will witness some great miracles and some devastating losses. You will feel as though you are walking alone in it or, worse yet, feeling like you let your loved ones down. You will feel a great joy every time you bring home a flock of baby chickens or watch a calf or a piglet being born. You will go to bed bone tired but satisfied that you put in a full day's worth of work. You will be awake at night wondering how you are going to fix a car or a tractor or how you are going to pay that bill. You will watch your kids grow up learning these skills and you will know that they will be able to survive on their own.

Does this life get any easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn what to do, you learn skills, and you start to have systems in place. No, because you will always have more work than time, you will be short of money when you need it most, and you will be thrown curveballs when you never expected them.

Like I said before, I choose this life. I want this life. I want more for myself and my family. I can't see the appeal of a consumer-driven life with keeping up appearances and being in debt. I truly think everyone should live the life I am living. Honest labor never hurt anyone and you become more appreciative of what you have.

However, it is not cute or kitschy. It is not trendy. It is and always will be a lot of work.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, July 29, 2018

10 Ways to Battle The Biting Insects and Mosquitoes No Matter Where You Live


Insects can be so beneficial and so annoying. They can help with insect control and eat mites. They can also bite you in places you never thought they could get to. Where I live we deal with the biting flies, the no see ums (sandflies), and mosquitoes. Usually, we need to have unusually wet weather to see a lot of bugs, but not always. When they decide to hatch and feed, they become atrocious!

How should you deal with biting insects? You should deal with them with everything you have and then some. They can make working on the homestead very difficult. They can make having a picnic almost impossible. Even though you are moving along a decent speed on a mower or a tractor, they still manage to land and bite you! What a nuisance!

So what measures should you take to fight the biting insect fight? You can do this one of two ways: naturally and chemically. The choice is yours. We are usually driven to the chemicals because they cover a wider area.

1. Bug Repellent. You can use a repellent with DEET or a repellent with no DEET. Some people find they have a sensitivity or an allergy to DEET. You can buy store brand or make your own bug repellent.

Here are some links to some homemade bug repellent:

All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work! by Wellness Mama
Natural Homemade Mosquito/Insect/Bug Spray by DIY Natural
5 Homemade Mosquito Repellents by Survival at Home

I am not saying that making your own repellent is the best thing, but if you have the ingredients, I would definitely try it. However, there is no shame in buying some bug repellent either!

2. Fly Strips. These are so simple and so effective. I used them in the chicken coop for the first time this year and one was full before the day was over. Just crazy! I have had to use them over the sink in the kitchen too when I had a fruit fly problem. They are easy to use and will definitely attract the biting flies.

3. Bug Bombs (Total Release Foggers). These are again are pretty effective in a shop or a garage. You can use them in a house, but make sure all the food is put away and you clean the surfaces again before using them. You also need to set them off away from ignition sources. You set off the bug bombs and leave the area for at least four hours. You need to make sure they are for killing the insects you want to be killed. These are very chemically laden and most have neurotoxins in them. You should only use them for extreme infestations.

4. Citronella candles and torches. These are good for keeping insects away from areas when you are outside. You can use them in or on picnic tables, around fire pits, on outdoor decks, and other areas where you may gather. You can also make your own citronella candles if you wish, but they are usually pretty cheap to purchase.

5. Mosquito Repellent Bracelets. They are pretty effective for repelling mosquitoes and would be kid friendly to use (as long as they understood not to chew on them). Most brands of these bracelets sold do not contain DEET making them a good substitute for those sensitive to DEET. These are also eco-friendly which would be another great reason to use them.

6. Bug Zappers. These can be a good addition to your porches and decks to kill bugs and mosquitoes. They may be a little noisy, but they can be an effective way to kill bugs without having to use chemicals. Most of them also have a light which attracts the bugs and can be another source of light outdoors. Most can be used indoors too. You usually have to plug them, but there are solar options on the market for bug zappers. 

7. Ultrasonic Bug Repellent. These are useful in the house to keep the mosquitoes and biting flies at bay. They do need to plug in which is why they would go in the house or in a shop. However, they would be a good idea to have when you don't want to use chemicals. There are portable outdoor versions of the ultrasonic bug repellent, but they would need to be charged by solar power or USB.

8. Outdoor Foggers. These are good in a small outdoor area to repel flies and mosquitoes. You could use this in a picnic area, on a porch or deck, or a patio. You need to read the instructions on the can before spraying. This should only be sprayed on a still day and only once a day. It will kill mosquitoes on contact.

9. Yard Insecticide. If you are just infested with mosquitoes and biting flies, you may need to use a whole yard insecticide such as Demon, Tempo, Permethrin or Malathion. You can find yard insecticides that need to be mixed with water in a sprayer or you can attach to your garden hose to spray. You will need to put away any animals or pets until this has dried on the grass. Most of these yard insecticides only last 21-30 days which is better than spraying a fogger or yourself all the time. This is what we usually need to use on our acreage because the mosquitoes and biting flies are so bad in June and July.

10. Mosquitopaq Pouch. These are really neat as they can be used inside or outside, last 30 days, and use no chemicals. You simply hang them twenty feet away from where you want them to work and they will start repelling mosquitoes right away. You just have to follow the instructions to activate the ingredients inside the pouch and you are ready to go!

The bonus to most of these methods is that they will take care of the sandflies and ticks also. Ticks are a big worry due to their bites and Lyme disease. If you are worried about ticks, I would look for products that will take care of both ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies.

I know there are other methods of repelling mosquitoes and bugs such as special soaps, Avon's Skin So Soft baby oil, and Vick's Vapor Rub. What are your favorite ways to repel those mean biting insects?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, July 23, 2018

10 Ways To Prep When Real Life Gets In The Way


Life just gets crazy sometimes. You have places to be, people to see, kids in activities, work to do, and the never-ending to-do list to conquer. Summer always seems to be particularly busy even though school is (usually) on a break and you have more freedom to do what you want.

However, in all of life's busyness, prepping can sometimes get put on the back burner. We want to prep, but we have so much on our plates that we don't think we have time right now to prep. Even though hardcore preppers will cringe when I say this, sometimes that is okay to put prepping to the side for a little bit. We all have times in our lives that we are just plain overwhelmed with priorities and responsibilities. We need to cut ourselves some slack.

Now maybe you are getting a little antsy knowing you need to pay attention to your preps and need to practice those skills. You are just not sure when you are going to have time.

How can you prep with when real life gets in the way? As always, I have some suggestions.

1. Read some great prepping books and magazines. We all have downtime in the car, at night before bed, and/or during lunch at work. Bring a book or download a book on your e-reader and start reading! If you can't actively prep like you want to, the next best thing to do is to be learning about prepping in some form. Maybe you need to learn emergency communications or water storage tips. Maybe you need a fresh perspective on prepping or just some lists on what you could be doing. There are a lot of great prepping books out there! Just pick one and start reading!

2. Pick some items for the food storage while grocery shopping. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but we sometimes just rush through the grocery store without thinking about it. If you have to buy a container of Parmesan cheese, pick up two or three. If you need canned fruit or applesauce, grab a few extra. Just make a conscious effort to buy a little extra food while at the grocery store.

3. Take $5 or $10 out of your wallet right now and put it into your emergency cash stash. There! You just did something to prep without any real effort what so ever.

4. Play a scenario game with your husband and/or kids while driving. This is a very easy game that I would do sometimes with my own kids. You start out with a question, "What would you do if...?" You can ask what would they do if the power went out, if there was a fire in the house, if a friend was physically hurt, if there was a stranger in the house, and so on. I would keep the questions age appropriate as younger kids might not understand what to do yet. With older kids or other adults, you can be specific in the scenarios as well as a little more serious and far-reaching. The point of this game to discuss what to do in specific scenarios, generate good discussion and remind others about what to do and what is the plan. All that points to prepping!

5. Realize that many of your daily activities are prepping. Are you spending a lot of time in the garden? You are prepping. Are you canning a lot? You are prepping. Did you remember to take a full water bottle and snacks with you today? You are prepping. Did you remember to do laundry and wash dishes today? You won't have to worry so much if you don't have running water tomorrow. Did you take a walk, hike, bike, or run today? You are working on your physical health which is important in prepping. It might seem like life is getting in the way of prepping, but we do a lot in our daily lives that is preparing us for another possible crisis.

6. Go fill three empty containers with water right now. There! Again, you just prepped and you might have spent fifteen minutes doing it. Whether you choose to do drinking water or non-potable water, the choice is yours!

7. Do you have emergency contact numbers set up on your phone? Do you have your list of personal emergency contacts set up on your phone and written down on paper? Take 15-20 minutes and do that now. You just prepped again. Already did that once? Double check them now - you know there is always someone you might want to take off the list! Bonus - you can do this in the car waiting on your kids or over a lunch break.

8. Shift your priorities and make some time for prepping. Sometimes our priorities get screwed up and we just lose sight of what is important. Take a look at your priorities and see what can be moved around. You may be spending too much time online, binge-watching a television show, playing games, or wasting time otherwise. Too much of that stuff is bad for you and should not be a priority over prepping and your family's welfare. Your kids may be involved in way too much stuff and could benefit from being home and helping you. You just need to take a hard look at your priorities and think about what you can do to make prepping higher on the list.

9. Add toilet paper, ibuprofen, band-aids, and dish soap to your shopping list. Don't use those four things? (I don't really want to know if you don't use toilet paper - too much information!) Add four things you use daily that you don't want to be without to your shopping list. The next time you are shopping, be sure to buy them. You just did something for your preps!

10. Clean out your vehicle. While you are pumping gas, waiting for kids to get done, waiting for your lunch break to be over, or just got home, clean out your vehicle. Our vehicles have a tendency to become cluttered and messy very quickly. What if you had to bug out or evacuate quickly? You would want your vehicle clean and ready to go. Take 15-30 minutes to clean out the trash, organize, and remove anything not necessary from the vehicle. If you have another 10-15 minutes, vacuum out the vehicle too. You will be a happier person with a clean vehicle and you will be ready to load and leave a moment's notice!

You can prep when real life gets in the way! You might not realize you are prepping, but you really are. Most of us just think we are too busy to get things done, but in reality, we have time. We just need to shift our perspective. Do what you can every day to prepare even if you only spend fifteen minutes doing so.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Is Motivating Me To Prep Now? A Story of Losing Interest and Getting My Prepping Mojo Back!

20 Common Sense Things You Can Do TODAY To Prepare For Tomorrow




Monday, June 18, 2018

30 Ways To Deal With Stress in Real Life and in a Crisis


One of the few areas that are rarely addressed in real life and in bad times is stress. People can handle a lot of stress, but it isn't healthy for them. Your mind, body, and spirit are all affected by stress. Stress can bring on a multitude of symptoms including brain fog, stress eating, weight gain or loss, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, increased illness, fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, and more. While a little stress can be good for you, high and prolonged levels of stress are not good for you.

In a crisis or a situation, you will be under high levels of stress. It will be unavoidable. You will be worried about what is going to happen, what has happened, and how you will take care of it all. You need to find ways now to cope with stress so you better manage it when a situation happens.

Some of the ways to deal with stress listed below will help you to focus and redirect the mind. Some of them are just escapism for an hour or two. Neither is wrong as both ways can help you relax and give your mind a break. While all of these methods will work in daily life stress, some will work better when a crisis happens. You might not be able to do some of these when a crisis happens, but having practiced several of these will give you to the tools you need to cope.

30 Ways To Deal With Stress in Real Life and in a Crisis

1. Meditation. Just focusing on the quiet and another voice is a great way to de-stress. You can find several apps for your phone and YouTube videos all focusing on meditation. The way meditation calms and clears your mind can give your situation new clarity and your body some much-needed relaxation.

2. Prayer. If you have a belief in a higher faith, prayer can be a powerful tool. A focused time to give your worries away to a higher power can bring relief to your mind. Having faith that everything will work out and you will be fine is a powerful thing. Prayer helps to accomplish that.

3. Yoga. Yoga is unique in that it is a form of exercise that helps you focus on movement and breathing. You are focused on a voice, getting the movement right, and your breathing at the right times. It is very beneficial for dealing with stress as well as being a good exercise program for gentle stretching.

4. Tai Chi. Tai Chi is similar to yoga. You doing a precise series of movements and focusing on your breathing. Tai Chi is done standing up and is very gentle on the body. You are encouraged to clear your mind and focus on the movement when is very good for de-stressing.

5. Exercise. Working out is a good way to deal with stress. The physical nature of working out gets the muscles moving, helps to deal with the frustration, and focuses your mind on what you are doing. Working out also can help with your attitude when you get done with a good workout.

6. Journaling. Getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper can be a very good stress reliever. They aren't rolling around in your head and causing you more stress. You have them out on paper which can very mind relieving as well as help you gain some focus over your situation.

7. Drawing. Drawing can have the same effect as journaling. Making a drawing on what you are feeling or what you wish to be feeling can help relieve your mind and re-focus.

8. Reading Fiction. Reading, in general, can help you cope with stress. However, reading fiction is a form of escapism which can give you some relief from the stress. Reading a good story can help you relax.

9. Sewing and other needlework. The act of sewing and needlework can help relax you which helps with stress. In order to sew and do needlework, you have to concentrate on what you are doing which helps you clear the mind of your problems. Beyond that, sewing is productive which helps us feel better.

10. Crafts. Crafts are the same as sewing and needlework. It has been said that doing fifteen minutes of crafts will help your mind relax. Whether you like to put together ornaments, use coloring books, paint, and more, find something to do with your hands to de-stress.

11. Hobbies that help you relax. If you have a hobby that helps you relax and take your mind off things for awhile, you should do it when you are stressed. Many people like to fish, golf, build things,

12. Take a nap. Some people would argue that taking naps can be counterintuitive, but when trying to de-stress, a nap may be just what you need. We tend to stress out quicker when we are tired. A 15-60 minute nap can change our whole attitude and outlook when we wake up.

13. Watch a television show or a movie. The same as reading a fiction book, you are trying a little escapism which can do wonders for your mental health.

14. Go for a walk or a run. This is the same idea as exercising. A good walk or run can really help clear your mind. You also get a chance to remove yourself from the situation for a little while which can help you reassess your situation.

15. Get a massage, pedicure, manicure, or a facial. This is a good way to really help you relax and de-stress. Getting pampered can make you feel a lot better which can definitely help you handle the stress better.

16. Declutter and organize. Nothing like purging things to help with stress. Often, our things can create a lot of clutter in the house which affects our stress levels. After purging and organizing, you will be able to find your things easier, know what you have, and have less to clean. All are good things when it comes to your stress levels.

17. Clean house. A clean house just makes us feel better. Everything is clean, put away, and easy to find again. The act of cleaning house can be a great release for the frustration that is fueling your stress levels.

18. Write down everything you need to do. Brain dump. Then prioritize. Just like journaling, just getting everything down on paper helps your mind. You aren't trying to remember everything in your head. You have it down on paper which means you can really focus on what needs to be done. You can also prioritize when your list is on paper. You have a clear idea about what needs to be done first!

19. Focus on one thing at a time. When you are really stressed out, your mind is going in a hundred different directions. Focus on doing just one thing and finish it to the end of the task. You will feel better having completed one thing. Then move onto the next thing.

20. Make bread from scratch. Something about making bread is relaxing. Kneading bread can get a lot of frustration out which is great when you are stressed.

21. Hang out with friends and family. Hanging out with people who care about you can make all the difference. In talking with them, you might get a new perspective on your situation and what is stressing you out. Just talking about can help you relieve a little stress.

22. Go away for the day. Spending the day away from home helps with stress. Find something fun to do and just relax for the day.

23. Spend the day relaxing at home. Just do nothing for the day. Indulge in one or more of the above activities. Just take the day to reset if you can afford the time to do so.

24. Go camping. For some reason, getting back to nature can help reset your mind and give you some much-needed stress relief. For some, camping can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Keep it simple and fun!

25. Go for a drive. Sometimes you just need to get away from the stress for a little while. Listen to your favorite tunes and find a good route to help you relax for an hour or two. If you decide to stop at a lake or a river, no one will blame you for it!

26. Listen to music (and maybe dance to it). Listening to your favorite music can help with your mood and even help you remember some great memories. If you dance to your favorite music, you will be helping reduce your stress even more!

27. Cooking or baking. For many people, cooking and baking help them to relax. You are focused on one thing and usually, have delicious results. You could make a favorite dish or some comfort food to help you relax further.

28. Spend time with pets. There is nothing like spending time with pets to relax. Usually, they have unconditional love for you and love having your time and attention. They are happy to see you, can definitely brighten your day, and reduce your stress rather quickly.

29. Volunteer or help someone else. Volunteering and helping someone else is a big mood lifter which is great when you are stressed. You take the focus off your own problems and situation for a while. You may also realize someone has it worse than you which can put your own stress in perspective.

30. Celebrate the big and small victories. A small celebration can help you relax when you are in a stressful situation. If you accomplished a goal or something big, have a party for one (or more)! You will realize how far you have come and how you have accomplished. That is always worth celebrating!

I did not include activities like shopping or drinking to relax. Both activities are fine when done in moderation, but can be abused quickly. Such forms of escapism can become habits which can be abused. I also did not include sex or anything like that. Sex can make a person feel very good and can definitely help with stress, but it doesn't work for everyone.

What do you like to do to relax and deal with stress?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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 at this time do not know how to do this. Unless you take a shop class in a 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 show 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 thing 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 question 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 be 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 of 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 an 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 a 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 any more 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 likes 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 are 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 to 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 a 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 are 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 are 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 in 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 the 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 specialty batteries, I would make a list of those and pick those batteries up the next time shopping. For specialty 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:

Like I said before, you might consider other spare parts essential for your preps. You might 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, Cookstoves, 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 an 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 for 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


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Do You Really Want To Tell People That You Are A Prepper?


We all know there is a lot of different kinds of preppers and in varying levels of preparedness. When it comes to OPSEC (operational security), I find there are three groups of preppers. There is nothing wrong with these three groups although, among preppers, there are some disagreements about how deep your OPSEC should go. However, you will find yourself falling into one of these three following groups.

The first group is all about OPSEC - they want no one to know they are a prepper and will certainly not talk about their preps in any way, shape, or form. No way, no how. Nuh-uh. More than likely, they will die and people will find their supplies in an underground bunker under their house. Top security and only on an "as a need to know" basis for anyone in their lives except maybe their immediate family. Their immediate family is not allowed to talk about their preps either.

The second group likes to talk about prepping, but they don't talk about what they have or don't have. They love a good prepper discussion, but they like to talk in generals. They will steer the conversation away from specifics about their plans and supplies. They are very concerned about their OPSEC if you try to push them or want to see their stockpile. Other than that, they are pretty chill about talking prepping.

The third group lets their prepping flag fly. They will talk about prepping, show you everything they have, talk about their plans and future purchases. They will talk about it on television if they feel like it. They feel they have nothing to hide and want to encourage others to prep. They could talk prepping all day long, in specifics, and with great detail.

Of course, these are generalizations about the three groups, but fairly accurate. Most preppers fall into one of these groups or may identify with being in between groups depending on the subject. Some preppers will talk about guns all day and show you what they have all while keeping very quiet about their food stockpiles. Vice versa, they may want to show you their food supplies and whatnot, but keep their security on the down low.

While I think it is good for us preppers to educate people who want to prep and people who should be prepping, there is always a question in my mind about this. Do I really want to tell people I am a prepper? The answer would be yes and no.

Since I write this blog, you would assume that I want the whole world to know I am a prepper. However, that has not always been the case and, in some situations, I still don't want people to know I am a prepper. I dread thinking about who may come to my home in an SHTF. I am sometimes embarrassed by what I purchase for my stockpiles knowing well I don't want to be without it either. I am a little afraid of being mocked about not having enough or not having the right stuff.

I fall firmly into the second group. I may talk about what I buy from time to time, but I don't really want people to know exactly what I have. To me, that is my OPSEC. I could talk about prepping and self-reliance all day long. I love learning from others and telling others what I have learned. I love talking about what if situations. I love learning new skills and learning from other people. However, I just don't want to talk about what I have because I am not comfortable with it.

Your Operational Security is everything. You have to be comfortable with your level of security. Sometimes, it will be in your best interest to tell and show everyone you are a prepper. If you live in a neighborhood, you want to get your neighbors on board with prepping. The more people you have prepping and the closer you become as neighbors, the better your security will be in the case of an SHTF. You all can watch each other's back, provide for those that lost, and generally take care of each other while taking care of yourself. You can set up your own neighborhood watch and patrols. You can seal off the perimeter if you need to and set up your own prepping community.

However, you may live in a high crime area or the inner city. You may have moved away from family and friends. You may not know who you can trust or only have a handful of people to trust. In these situations, you may want to keep your prepping to yourself in the interest of OPSEC. People can't rob or loot you if they don't know what you have. You may need to hide your preps and keep your purchases on the down low. You may need to look unassuming and quiet while being friendly. I would still establish a network with those you trust completely, but understand you will be prepping on your own.

Talking about prepping to others and telling them you are a prepper is a leap of faith. You don't want to be mocked so have a quick defense and answer as to why you are a prepper. You want to clear up any misconceptions about prepping because you want others to be prepping. The only two ways I know to motivate people to prep is by talking to them or letting them go through a crisis all on their own. Most people will have an eye-opening experience that will make them think about prepping and want to start. However, I think as preppers we have a responsibility to plant the prepping seed and help others to become preppers too.

Whether or not you want to tell people you are a prepper is your business. You have the right to decide how much you want to tell people you prep or not. However, as preppers, I think we have a duty to educate new preppers and encourage people to prep. You can do this by teaching new skills or encourage people to follow FEMA's guidelines for emergency preparedness. The choice to divulge your prepping is your decision, but we should do all we can in the prepping community to encourage prepping.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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