Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Prepper's Guide to Evacuating or Staying


As preppers, we like to think we can live through and survive anything. We are tough. We are prepared!

However, there is a reason we have and talk about bug-out bags and 72-hour kits incessantly. We want to be prepared if we should have to leave in hurry for any reason. While we want to stay in our prepper palaces, sometimes that is not feasible.

What should be the criteria for staying or going in an emergency situation? Why would you leave your prepper stronghold? You have spent hours making this place the prepper palace that can withstand almost anything. Why would you leave? What could make you leave?

The short answer to these questions would be common sense and safety. 

If you have the warning and opportunity to evacuate, you should be strongly considering evacuating. With most of our current natural disasters, adequate (usually more than adequate) time is given for evacuating. We have top-notch weather warning systems and weather prediction systems in place to tell us when bad weather is going to appear, how bad it will be, and what you should do to be safe.

In a number of prepper online groups, you will see responses like "Nothing will ever get me to evacuate" or "Why would I leave" or one of my favorites "It is never as bad as they say it will be". First of all, ask anyone who survived a hurricane or other natural disasters how bad the experience was. Ask how they felt when they saw the rising waters and realized they couldn't escape. Ask they about the panic they felt when they realized they were in danger. Second of all, would you seriously put your loved ones and yourself in that kind of danger for your pride?

So what should you do? If this is before a disaster is going to occur and you know you are in the path, you need to evacuate. Forget all the nonsense about your location and your perceived confidence in your ability to survive. Common sense dictates that you need to leave for the safety of yourself and your loved ones. You are in the path of danger and you should leave as soon as you can. Part of prepping is being safe and practicing good survival skills. You are not being safe if you are willingly putting yourself in the path of danger just to see how well you will survive.

If you are worried about your home and your possessions, staying home while in great danger will not save your home or your things. If you are under mandatory evacuations, if you are not forced to leave your home then, you will run the risk of having no help and no emergency personnel to rescue you. You will run the likely risk of having no power, no cell service, and no internet to even reach out for help. If you have a landline phone, that may not work either depending on power and phone lines.

Staying home while in the path of danger and destruction is not a wise choice and most people will not think of you as a survival hero if you do survive. Most people will wonder how you survived and why you didn't leave when you could have. You will probably also be dealing with the physical and mental fallout of staying in such a traumatic situation. Staying when you have the chance to leave is usually not a wise choice.

What happens then if you are suddenly thrust into a dangerous situation or have no warning that something bad is going to happen? What happens when a storm suddenly becomes a very dangerous situation? What happens if you are suddenly hit by flash flooding or worse? A wildfire suddenly switched directions and is headed your direction?

You need to evaluate and assess. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the situation? 

2. How dangerous is the situation?
3. Did you or are you being asked to evacuate? Is evacuation mandatory?
4. Will you be able to leave - safe/unsafe routes, traffic congestion, state of the roads, roadblocks, etc.? 

5. Is your life (and your family's lives) in immediate danger or can you wait out the initial panic? 
6. Will you be able to even travel - health, gasoline/diesel availability, state of the vehicles? 

Your ability to leave may be hampered by a lot of things and it is important that you gather as much information as possible before making the decision to leave after the disaster or emergency. You may not be able to leave at all. You may be able to make contact with someone to see if the roads are safe or what the situation is down the road. You may be able to call emergency personnel to see how bad the roads are or listen to emergency management dispatches for updates on the situation. Again, common sense and safety should rule your decisions, not fear or pride. 

As stated before, if you have an adequate amount of time to leave before a disaster and you know you are in the path of danger, you should leave as soon as you can. I know people will say to wait it out or that they will never leave, but I wouldn't want to be in that kind of danger. If you have no warning before a disaster then you need to evaluate and assess.


Some of you will stay no matter how bad it is or will leave at the very, very last minute. However, if you are truly in danger or do not see a way to save yourself, call for help immediately!

Either way, you should always be prepared to leave. If you do not have dedicated bug out bags, now is a good time to start putting them together. You need to think about what you need to survive for 3-7 days or until you get to a location where you can stay and restock. To me, bug out bags are not wilderness survival bags. They are a way for you to stay alive, fed, hydrated, and clothed until you get to where you are going. There are many great lists on the internet for what you should have in your bug out bags, but here again, common sense should rule. Also, you need to make sure you can carry your bags on your back if you need to. Do not overload your bags or the bags your kids will carry.

You should also make sure your vehicle is ready to leave. You should have emergency supplies in your vehicle along with a good first-aid kit and medications, water, food, sleeping bags/blankets/pillows, jackets/coats/ponchos, and anything else you or your family might need. If you think you might forget something (and you probably will), make a list and keep it with your bug-out bags and in your important documents. When you are in a hurry, you can forget a lot!

The choice is generally yours as to whether you want to stay or evacuate, but no one will want to hear about your death if you did not choose to be safe. You will not be a hero if you stayed in a dangerous situation and was not killed by it. Most people will not be impressed that you put your loved ones in danger because of your pride. You and a very select few others will be the only ones impressed with your ability to survive an avoidable situation.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 1
Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 2


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Start Saving Money By Having A Poverty Mindset! Learn 25 Ways to Extreme Living and Saving!


We all want to save money, but sometimes we just don't know how to save more money than we already are. We don't want to take the next step in frugal living because we know that we will be looked upon as crazy. However, sometimes you need to save an extreme amount of money in a very short period of time. You might be suddenly faced with only having half of your normal income. You might find yourself with a lot of medical bills or a large repair bill.

You might also desire a different kind of life. You may want to prepare, to homestead, or just live a simpler and less stressful life. Most people don't think they can afford to do those things because they are so tied down with debt or other obligations. However, most people can if they would re-examine their spending.

In other words, you will need to practice a level of frugality that most of us don't want to think about. I call this poverty living. We are all living (or should be living) at a level of frugality that seems a little tight, but sometimes we need to get a lot tighter.

What does poverty living entail? Basically, living as broke as you can while still covering the necessities. Some of you, like me, already have done this before and never really had a name for it. While some of you already may live like this and do not have any other way to save more money, some of you may feel the need to do this just to get your budget and finances back under control. You may also feel the need to do this because you are facing an uncertain financial future. And, like I mentioned before, you may have some large bills you need to pay.

How does poverty living and saving work? How can you start living this way?

1. Take a long, hard look at your finances. You need to take a notebook and write down every single bill, expense, and spending you do now. You also need to look at any future expenses you know you will need to pay for. This is the time to get really tough with yourself and/or each other as a couple. What items in your budget can be eliminated, paused, or reduced? Do you have expensive habits? Are you extravagant gift givers? Are you kids in too many activities or have expensive hobbies? This is the time to examine everything including your lives. If you need or want to live as frugally as possible, sacrifices need to be made short term and possibly long term.

2. Get your grocery spending under control. Some of you will say that you don't spend a lot of money on groceries or at least as much as your friend spends on her groceries. You need to change your thinking. You are practicing a whole new level of saving so you need to focus on you. You need to carefully look over your receipts. You need to start making a list and sticking to the list and the budget. You need to plan meals around basic foods, what you are growing, and what is on sale. Going without a list and with no plan will make for a miserable time for you and your budget. You need to make the time to do this. You can also start a price book so you can get an idea of when an item is the cheapest, where the best price is, and how often it is on sale.

3. Meal plan and plan your meals around cheap, basic foods. If you are trying to save money, having fancy meals of salmon, steak, and lobster is not going to be possible. You need to keep your meals as frugal as possible. You may not be able to have meat as much as you like either. Casseroles, one pot meals, and soups will feed a lot of people cheaply. Make sure you also plan for breakfasts and lunches. If you think you will get sick of the same foods all the time, you may just need to suck it up. You are trying to save money. You can find a lot of ways to jazz up your meals with getting bored, but you will need to be creative about it.

4. Sell what you don't need. If you have four vehicles, only two are in working condition, and you only have two drivers, sell the two non-running vehicles. You can sell vehicles as is as long as you are honest about what is wrong with them. The same with the stuff you have in the garage, house, shed, and anywhere you are stashing things. Now is the time to make a little extra money! If you don't need it, get rid of it. Some things will only have a purpose once or twice a year and that is okay. However, your kids' outgrown toys, clothes, and equipment are not doing you any good sitting in a closet. Neither is the sporting equipment that you used ten years ago but think you will use again someday.

5. What are the necessities for you and your family? What do you really need? We all think we need things, but most of the time we can live without them. Sacrifices will need to be made in order for this to work. A good deal of the things we think of as necessary we find out is not necessary after living without them for a few months. You just need to really examine everything you purchase or use and ask yourself if you can live without them.

6. Unless you are getting it for free, no eating out, no going out on dates/nights out, no alcohol, and no other bad habits. They aren't necessary no matter how much you think they are so now is a good time to get rid of the bad and expensive habits and any other costly fun things. You may suffer some withdrawals, but the suffering will be worth the money saved and possibly improved health. You can also add soda pop, candy, and other "treats" that we think we need for ourselves. We don't need them and we would be better off without them.

7. Write down every penny spent, earned, and examine every purchase. This is a learning process. You will make mistakes, but in order to know where your money is going, you need to be on top of the spending. Ideally, you do not want to spend any money, but life is never ideal. However, by writing down every purchase and expense, you can easily see where your money is going and where it shouldn't be going. From there, you can make the necessary corrections to save even more money. And sometimes, just the thought of having to write down the expense will stop you from purchasing the item. No one wants to write down that they spent $1.29 on a candy bar.

8. Figure out what the true cost of things is. You may think your child needs to be in activities like basketball, dance, and other sports. You may think it is only costing you $40 for the registration fee. However, you are also spending money on additional vehicle gas, vehicle wear and tear, your time, possibly fast food to feed the family, special clothing and shoes, and more. That $40 is more like $400 before the season is over. While I believe kids should be involved in a few things, sometimes parents get kids involved in things they don't want to do. The same can be said about our hobbies and past times.

You need to examine the reasons to be involved in things and decide if the cost is worth it. Most of the time, it is not. This can apply to any area of your life. Maybe you have a home business, but that business is costing you as much money as you earn. You might have a hobby that is costly. You might like to do crafts, but the supplies are costly. You need to look at everything involved with those things and ask yourself what the real cost is for the hobby or past times.

9. No more food waste. When you are living below the poverty level, you do not have the luxury of wasting food ever. If you are raising food, you better find a way to preserve it somehow if you cannot eat it all. If you have leftovers, you should be eating them until they are gone. If you cannot eat all the leftovers, you need to freeze them or offer them to friends. If you do not like leftovers, you either need to get over yourself or make just enough food for the meal. You do not have the money to be throwing away food. If you have little bits of food or vegetables in your fridge you don't know what to do with, make a refrigerator clean out casserole or soup.

10. Clean and take care of your things. Neglect and disrepair will only cost you more money. You need to make sure your things are clean and in good repair. Most of the time keeping your items clean will cost you almost nothing. If something breaks, have it fixed or fix it yourself. Most of the time, the repair will be cheaper than buying the item again.

11. Save money any way you can. You need to always look for the savings in almost all of your decisions. This doesn't mean you should buy cheap goods that will break quickly instead of quality. This means you should always examine everything to see if you can save money. Saving items like rubber bands, twist ties, bread sacks, scrap paper, and more will save you money and extend the life of your purchase. Turn on a lamp instead of the overhead light because the lamp will take less electricity. Use grocery sacks for trash bags instead of using the real thing. Put on a sweatshirt and drop the thermostat by two degrees in the winter. Ask yourself constantly how you can save money and do it.

12. See how far you can stretch a tank of gas. Buying gas for your vehicles can be a budget killer. If you are driving to work every day, ask yourself if you can carpool with someone. Maybe you can walk or ride a bike to work. If you do have to drive, drive the speed limit. You need to also combine your errands. Try to limit your trips you are making. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to make the trip if not for work or family. Reduce your grocery trips to once a week or twice a month. If you need to go to the library, where else do you need to go?

13. Have a no spend week, month, or even longer. If you really want to curtail your spending, this is a great way to do. You need to set your limits and allowable purchases (gas, groceries, prescriptions) before you start. You also need to write down anticipated expenses and what you will do if unanticipated expenses do come up. However, this works best if everyone is on board with it. If you live with others, you need to talk to them. You can still practice a no spend month yourself, but it just might be more difficult.

14. Never turn down free items if you need or want them. Some people will turn down free items offered to them just because of their pride or they think someone else will need it more. If you can use it or need it, by all means, accept the free items. Accepting and using free items is the number two way to save money (number one is not spending money).

15. Learn to trade and barter. Trading goods and services is a win-win for everyone involved. If you have eggs and your neighbor has apples, trading those things with each other helps everyone involved. Bartering is a similar concept. You can offer to clean for someone in exchange for a haircut or another service. Whether trading or bartering, you are saving yourself a great deal of money.

16. If you have some expensive habits or friends, this is a good time to put them on hold. We can have the best intentions when we are trying to save money, but our habits and our friends can ruin those intentions in seconds. Habits like a drink after work, daily coffee runs, ribeyes on Friday nights, and expensive night outs can be the ruin of a good budget. You might think that these things will ruin the budget at the time, but over time these things can really add up and take away from the money you are desperately trying to save. Friends can be just as bad. Some friends may not feel like they can have a good time without an expensive meal out, lots of drinks, and/or a day of shopping. You can deal with them by leveling with them about the fact that you are saving money and cannot do those things anymore. You can maybe find other things to do with them that are free or inexpensive, but you may just have to stay away from them for a while.

17. If you have a credit card problem, you need to deal with them. I know a lot of people who are completely responsible with credit cards and pay them off every month. They are very conscious about what they spend and use them responsibly. I am not talking to those people. If you have problems with credit cards, you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible. You may need to cut them up or put them in a safe deposit box away from you. If the interest is very high, look at switching or transferring to a low/no interest card in order to save money on interest. Then you need to pay them as quickly as possible. You need to learn to live on cash or within a budget if credit cards are a problem.

18. Buy used before you buy new. Almost everything you consume can be purchased used except for food, personal items, and maybe undergarments. Most of the time, you can find what you need to purchase used on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, resale shops, thrift stores, and sidewalk curbs. If you can anticipate needing the item and you find it before you need it, purchase it. This would be in cases like winter coats, clothes for growing children, school items, and more. You will save so much money this way and you will also stop the cycle of consumerism.

19. Shop from home first. Most people will go out and buy something new instead of using what they have at home. Back to school shopping is a prime example of this. Your kids probably came home with items they used last school year that is in perfectly good condition. However, we have been trained to think they need everything new when school starts again. We need to ditch that thinking. Look over their last year's items and reuse what you can. The same goes for gifts. Most of the time we have a brand new item at home that will work for a wedding or baby shower gift. Yes, this is regifting and make sure you do it right. Remove the card and make sure you don't give it back to the person who gave it to you. You may also be able to make a present with items you have on hand already.

20. Reuse, reuse, reuse. Most items are not disposable, but we treat them as such. It is easier to throw something away and purchase new again. However, a person living at poverty levels do not have that luxury. Wash, fix, repair, mend, and reuse items again. If something like a towel (for example) is no longer sufficient for the shower or bath, it can be used as a cleaning rag. Plastic bags can be washed out and reused again and again unless you use them for raw meat. Ask yourself if you can reuse this item or find another use for it before throwing it away.

21. Buy non-disposable items. On the flipside of reuse, reuse, reuse is making sure to purchase non-disposable items. This may seem like you are spending more money, but you are spending money on an item you hopefully never have to purchase again. Using handkerchiefs or a washcloth instead of facial tissues will save a lot of money. Using rags or cleaning cloths instead of paper towels will save a lot of money. Using plastic or glasses food containers instead of plastic food bags will save money. Look for the items you can use again and again instead of disposable items.

22. Realize saving money is in the little things as well as the big things. Many people have this idea that you cannot save money unless you are saving money on big purchases. This is simply not true. With a poverty mindset, you need to look for the savings in everything and often times the real savings in the little things. By not buying the coffee every day, you are saving $1-4 a day which adds up to $7-28 a week. In addition to those savings, you aren't tempted to buy the donut or bagel which is $2-4 a day or $14-28 a week. Already you have saved $21-56 in a week which is $84-$224 a month which is very nice payment on a bill. This is the mindset you need to create - little savings add up to big savings over time.

23. You may not be able to buy organic, non-GMO food or special ingredients. Back to the good old grocery budget. Most impoverished people can not afford this kind of food unless they are growing it themselves. While I mentioned before that you need to convert to cheap, basic foods, that doesn't mean you need to eat junk or eat unhealthily. You need to keep food to rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, and eat well but cheap. You just may not be able to afford organic food, hemp seeds, or anything that is marked up due to being the new health food cure-all.

24. Use everything until it is gone and do not purchase new unless you need it. When you are poor, you do not have the luxury of throwing away a half-used bottle of shampoo. You suck it up and use it up. You add a little water to the bottle to get the last bit out after tipping the bottle upside down for several days. The same should go for almost everything else that you use. You do everything you can to use up the last little bit of everything. Then you need to ask yourself if you need to buy another one or do you have something else on hand that will work. Most people do have something that will work instead of buying new. However, if you need it, by all means, buy another one and try to make it last longer (unless it has a short shelf life!).

25. Work as much as you can (within reason). If you are truly needing to get out of debt, pay off big bills, or just trying to save a large amount of money, you need to work as much as you can. Most people are not willing to do this. However, if you are offered more hours at work, take them. If you have the opportunity to work a part-time job in addition to your full-time job, do it. The only caveat to this would be if you have to pay more to work more. Having kids in daycare longer is usually not beneficial for the budget or family life. Sometimes you can work from home or telecommute which will help you save money as well as make more money. I would just steer clear of multi-level marketing jobs that ask you to spend money in hopes of making more money. Yes, they do work for some people, but often they don't work for others.

Some of you are thinking you already do most of these things, but can you take it further? I know I can and should. If you are stuck for ideas, the internet is a wonderful place full of good ideas. If you think you can't live without a smartphone, satellite television, and more, research other cultures and extreme savers. They will teach you quickly that you can and you would be spending your time much more productively without them.

Do you think you can live like this? Do you think you could make the sacrifices for the bigger goal?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? How Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?
The Budget Is Getting Tighter! 15 Ways We Are Making Lincoln Scream And You Can Too! 


Monday, August 27, 2018

You Have Lessons To Learn From Those That Survived The Great Depression


The Great Depression was an era in American History that people who lived through it would remember indefinitely. They remember how hard the times were, the poverty most people suffered, and just life in general at the time. For most people who remember living through this time, the lessons stuck with them for the rest of their life.

For those who experienced the worst of The Great Depression, they never forgot. They do not or did not like talking about life during that time, but the lessons they learned were life-changing. Most people now would not necessarily notice the impact made until they looked closer at these people.

They do not throw out anything. The only things in their garbage (scrap) pails were items that could not possibly use anymore, be fed to animals, or composted. They were on board with recycling before recycling was the cool thing to do. Their homes will appear very neat and tidy, but their closets are packed full of items they could not part with including old clothes, newspapers, fabric, boxes, baskets, jars, string and twine, rubber bands, twist ties, plastic bags, and more. During the Great Depression, you would never know if and when you might need something to repair or fix another item.

They were basically hoarders because they had to be, but you would have never known it by looking at their homes. Now that the minimalist movement is in full swing, some people look down their noses at these older people who lived through the Depression. However, we must realize that they did not have the possessions then we have now. They just didn't have the pure junk and cheaply made goods we have now. They were minimalists in their own way because they did not have the money or the means to have more possessions. They just refused to throw out anything that could be used again.

Notice how most older people do not buy new clothes unless they have to? Their shoes are usually repaired, worn until they fall apart, and/or are still kept in case they need a pair for the garden or other chores. They probably have a good pair that is kept for special occasions or church, but when that pair is no longer good, they get used for every day. The same goes for coats and more. You will also notice they do not buy trendy clothing items either - most of their items are of good quality that will last years. In this age of disposable clothing, this seems odd, but they probably would see us as wasteful.

People during this time lost their fortunes. People also lost their savings as banks closed. While most people who lived during this time continued to save money after the Depression and World War II, many were leery of banks. They would keep cash at home, have accounts at multiple banks, and not have all their eggs in one basket. Most of them would also go on to save a large amount of money because they lived so simply and frugally.

They also went on to birth the Baby Boomer generation. They wanted to give their children a better life than what they had. They saved money for their kids to go to college because they wanted their kids to have an education and succeed. They would go on to help their children buy their first farm and possibly their first home. They would invest in their businesses to help them get a start because very few of those that lived during the Depression had that luxury.

Many people during the Depression lost their homes and their businesses. They would have to move for jobs and just to find work. People would have to move in with other family members or rent a couple rooms for a roof over their heads. Kids were expected to help out any way they could with the understanding any money they earned would probably go to the family. If they were given payment at all, that money was not spent frivolously. Not to say that the kids were not given a special treat once in a while, but they did not expect this all the time like kids do now. 

While there has always been poverty in this country, during the Great Depression, poverty was acute and affected nearly everyone in some way. When we think of poor now, we think of either the homeless or just living paycheck to paycheck. However, poverty is the circumstances of being extremely poor. Most people did not have enough money for rent/mortgage payment, food, clothing, and other necessities. Children were sent to live with other relatives or were taken to orphanages because their parents could afford to take care of them. Many adolescents were sent to live at other households as hired girls or men and worked for a roof over their heads and food to eat.

People leaned on bartering and trading during this time also. People would help each other bring in the crops, bale hay, tend the sick and the infirmed, do heavy housework, and more. You might have given the neighbor some produce from your garden in exchange for eggs. Like my grandmother, you might have worked as a hired girl so you could stay in town and go to high school. Many people traded and bartered services and goods just to stay alive and stretch their money even more. To do this, you can still see this generation doing this. They also instilled these lessons into their children.

People who lived during this time did what they had to do to survive. We all hear stories about the Great Depression that we think we could never do now. However, when you are faced with a choice to survive or not, you would think differently. This time in history is also very romanticized by those who think it will happen again. They want to live like that. Most of them could not do it.

How could you survive another Great Depression? Most of us preppers would like to think we could survive anything, but in reality, the Great Depression lasted until World War II started. For most people, nothing changed when we went to war because of the rationing system and the unavailability of goods. Jobs were on the rise due to wartime production, but the money still barely covered the necessities. There is not really any way to be reasonably prepared for ten years or longer unless you practice self-sufficiency now.

What saved many people during the Great Depression was the ability to grow their own food, raise animals for eggs and meat, have large gardens, and preserve as much as they could to get through the winter. They knew how to sew their own clothes, mend almost anything, and think creatively to solve problems or fix anything. Nothing was wasted which is a huge problem nowadays. They made only one trip to town a week for anything that needed to be purchased if they could afford to go. They would have also taken in any extra produce or eggs to the local grocer which he would have paid them for if the quality was right.

In short, the skills this generation knew is what saved them. They still have these learned lessons in their memories. You see that most of them still practice what they can, but this generation is dying out quickly. When they are gone, the lessons will be forgotten. If experts are right, we could be headed towards another financial and economic upheaval. We have more people living in this country than ever.

While there is a trend towards self-sufficiency right now, most people would be suffering until they could get back on their feet again. I have faith in people helping other people, but the resources might not be there to help everyone. FDR was accused of socialism and more when he rolled out the New Deal to create programs which created jobs to help people get back on their feet again. Now, if that happened, it would be wrapped up in Congress for months. With all the regulations we have now, it may never happen.

If you have a chance, please sit down with the generation who lived during this time. Ask them how they or their parents survived the time. You will hear different accounts because their experiences were different. Some people went through this time just fine because they were already used to living the self-sufficient life. Some people had to learn it. Some people lived in abject poverty and were basically homeless. If you can't directly talk to someone who lived during the Depression, read some first-hand accounts. What they had to do to live may surprise you.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime
"We Just Did"


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Prepper's Yearbook is available for sale!


The Prepper's Yearbook is available for sale!

This is a dream for me as it is the first book I have ever written! I wanted to make prepping as simple as possible for you! As the title suggests, this book will give you five tasks every month to help you be more prepared. You will be able to download this book and print it off to make it easier for you to keep track of your prepping.

My goal in prepping is to be as prepared as possible while staying on budget. I understand money can be tight and I don't want prepping to be a burden to anyone. This book can help you with that too. You will also find that this book leans toward the homesteading and self-reliant side of preparedness. While that is the way I like to be prepared, this book also addresses preparing for emergencies and natural disasters. 

Some of you might remember that I wrote a blog series about five prepping things to accomplish in a month. This is based on that, but I have totally revamped the months, added challenges, and added even more information and tips for you to be better informed and prepared! 

To purchase this book, click on this link https://sowl.co/Hkvz3

After your purchase, watch for an email from Send Owl that will provide you with a download link!

Thank you all for your support! This would not have happened without all of you! 

Thanks,
Erica

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


Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Best Way To Freeze Zucchini (And What To Do With It Afterwards!)


Zucchini is one of those rare garden plants. Almost anyone can grow it! Zucchini is also (normally) very prolific meaning that it will produce very well for weeks if not months. We love here at Living Life in Rural Iowa so I like to put it up for use in the winter.

You can use zucchini in place of cucumber in relishes and pickles to preserve and use up the bounty. We like to eat it straight from the garden on the grill. However, we eat a good deal of it in baked goods with the idea that the end result might be healthier!

In order to use it over the winter, I have learned how to freeze it. I went through many trials and errors trying to find the best way to do this. One of the things I had learned right away is that you can easily freezer burn zucchini. The second thing I learned is that the texture of the zucchini changes considerably when frozen and thawed.

With that in mind, I had to find a way to do this so that I could use it again in the winter. The best way to freeze and preserve zucchini is to shred and then freeze it.

The Best Way To Freeze Zucchini

1. Pick zucchini from the garden that is medium size. The medium size zucchini is easier to handle, to shred, and don't have a lot of seeds in them. If you do happen to find a large or extra large zucchini that you inadvertently missed, cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut them into manageable pieces. They are still edible and completely usable.


2. Wash the zucchini thoroughly and cut off the ends. Most of the zucchini I find in my garden is on the ground. They always need to be washed. You can choose to cut them into more manageable pieces for shredding. I think they are easier to handle when broken down into 2-3 pieces.

3. At this point, you can decide to peel them or not. I choose not to peel them because my family doesn't care if they see green specks in their food and they all like zucchini. However, if you have young ones (or old ones) who are picky eaters, you can choose to peel them. You will be able to hide the zucchini in sauces and baked easier if they are peeled.


4. Grab a big bowl and start shredding. By using a big bowl, you will not end up with shredded zucchini everywhere. If you don't use a big bowl, I suggest using a lipped baking sheet for holding all the goodness in. As for shredding the zucchini, I prefer to use a mandoline with a shredding attachment that sits on top of the bowl. You can also use a handheld shredder, a box shredded (grater), or a food processor with the shredding blade.


5. Portion out into bags and freeze. You can use zip-top freezer bags for this. I portion the shredded zucchini into two cup portions and put into the bag. If you are using freezer bags, push as much air out as possible, and seal the bag. Flatten the contents inside the bag and label them. You can then put them in the freezer. You could use a baking sheet under the bags to ensure they stay flat until they are frozen. You can then store them how you like in the freezer.

However, I love using my Food Saver. It is a rock star in my house! I put the two cup portions on zucchini in quart-size Food Saver bags. I flatten the bags the best I can, lay them on a baking sheet, and let them freeze. Then I vacuum seal the bags. With zucchini, if you try to seal them while the zucchini is fresh, the Food Saver will try to suck up the zucchini juices and will never seal. If you freeze them first, the Food Saver can suck all the air out and seal the bags just fine. Remember to label and date them!


Now that you have all this frozen zucchini, what can you do with it?

You can add it to sauces, one pot meals, and baked good. I also know people that add it to smoothies. However, you will find out quickly that thawed zucchini is far different than fresh zucchini. You will need to drain the excess liquid off first (or use the liquid in a soup or add to a vegetable broth). The best way to do this is to line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of paper towels or cheesecloth. You will put the thawed zucchini in the strainer and let the excess liquid pour out. The paper towels or cheesecloth will hold the zucchini in. You can then squeeze more excess liquid out if you wish. If you are using the thawed zucchini in baked goods, you will want to squeeze more liquid out or it will affect your final baked goods.

What do you like to do with zucchini?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Preserving The Bounty: How To Freeze Sweet Corn
Fajita Vegetable Packets: A Great Way To Use Up The Garden Bounty! 



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


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