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29 August, 2015

Best Five Books For Living Off The Grid Or With A Prepper Mindset

One thing that can definitely be accurately said about those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture is that we are all voracious learners. Often this education is achieved through reading, probably because that's a very economical way of gaining new information, and we are also notoriously frugal when it comes to financial matters. To that end, I thought it would be pertinent to list what I consider to be the five best books for living off grid and/or with a Prepper mindset with a couple of additions as honorable mentions.

What do you think of the list below? Feel free to let me know in the comments as well as sharing any other titles I might have excluded. Also, please note that the descriptions below are quoted from the official pages at Amazon.com for each title.

The bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself: "The bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens, The Encyclopedia of Country Living includes how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, can peaches, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, catch a pig, cook on a wood stove, and much, much more. This comprehensive resource is the most authoritative guide available to a sustainable lifestyle and living off of the land..."

produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter 1/4 acre of land
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre: "Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require. Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. Because self-suf´Čüciency is the objective, subjects such as raising backyard chickens and home canning are also covered along with numerous methods for keeping costs down and production high. Materials, tools, and techniques are detailed with photographs, tables, diagrams, and illustrations."

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Revised Edition: "Hesperian's classic manual... is arguably the most widely-used health care manual in the world... Useful for health workers, clinicians, and others involved in primary health care delivery and health promotion programs, with millions of copies in print in more than 75 languages, the manual provides practical, easily understood information on how to diagnose, treat, and prevent common diseases. Special attention is focused on nutrition, infection and disease prevention, and diagnostic techniques as primary ways to prevent and treat health problems."

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times: "... In How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, James Rawles, founder of SurvivalBlog.com, clearly explains everything you need to know to protect yourself and your family in the event of a disaster-from radical currency devaluation to a nuclear threat to a hurricane. Rawles shares essential tactics and techniques for surviving completely on your own, including how much food is enough, how to filter rainwater, how to protect your money, which seeds to buy for your garden, why goats are a smart choice for livestock, and how to secure your home. It's the ultimate guide to total preparedness and self-reliance in a time of need."

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables: "Anyone can learn to store fruits and vegetables safely and naturally with a cool, dark space (even a closet!) and the step-by-step advice in this book... Root cellaring, as many people remember but only a few people still practice, is a way of using the earth's naturally cool, stable temperature to store perishable fruits and vegetables. Root cellaring, as Mike and Nancy Bubel explain here, is a no-cost, simple, low-technology, energy-saving way to keep the harvest fresh all year long. In Root Cellaring, the Bubels tell how to successfully use this natural storage approach..."

Honorable Mentions

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series): "... Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies — working an average of two hours a day during the growing season..."

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills: "Anyone who wants to learn basic living skills—the kind employed by our forefathers—and adapt them for a better life in the twenty-first century need look no further than this eminently useful, full-color guide. Countless readers have turned to Back to Basics for inspiration and instruction, escaping to an era before power saws and fast-food restaurants and rediscovering the pleasures and challenges of a healthier, greener, and more self-sufficient lifestyle..."


28 August, 2015

100 Items to Disappear First in an Emergency

The 100 items that disappear first in an emergency. Be sure to stock up!
The following is a list that has been floating around the internet forever of the 100 items that disappear first in an emergency. I came across it as a text file I had saved to my computer a long time ago and thought you might find it useful as a guide on preparedness.

1. Generators (Good ones cost. Gas storage, risky. Noisy; target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR OR WHITE PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:

Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents andfriends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.

2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.

3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.

4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)

5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.

6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll have a lot of time on your hands.

7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.

8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches.

27 August, 2015

Date Codes on Canned Foods

Here is a handy USDA resource that explains how to properly handle canned foods
Here is a handy USDA resource that explains how to properly handle canned foods:

Please keep in mind that virtually all commercially-available canned foods are still "good" for a minimum of 2 years and possibly for as long as 5 years after the production date stamped in these codes. Call it a little less for high-acid content foods such as canned peaches and pineapples; 12-18 months for these in best practice. This is, of course, dependent on several factors:

1.) They should be kept at or around room temperature in a clean, dry, limited lighting area.

2.) Bulging or misshapen cans should be opened and inspected. If the contents are still good, they should no longer be stored - consume them immediately.

3.) When in doubt, throw it out. Don't take chances.

The date that is actually marked prominently on the can and is easy to read is not usually- contrary to popular belief- an expiration date. It is usually a "sell by" date. The exception to this is if you're buying in mid-2015 and the can says it expires sometime in late 2016 - in that case, it probably is right to use that date as the expiration. You have no way of knowing how long the product has been in a storeroom or on that shelf and it may have been produced and canned in the latter part of 2014. Hence, late 2016 would be 2 years from the production date.

Also, many products very clearly list a "use by" date for "better quality," so best to test foods past this date. Any drastic change in the consistency of a food may make it unpalatable, even if there isn't anything really wrong with it. YMMV.

Also, be advised that I personally consider the 2-year mark to be conservative. Many canned foods are good even past that, but 2 years marks the limit at which it is basically guaranteed to have lost none of its nutritional value.


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100 watt *PER DAY* Refrigerator (with PDF download)

Here are detailed plans for converting a standard chest freezer into a refrigerator that uses only 100 watts (0.1 kWh) of electricity to run for an entire day. This has been all over the net for awhile now, so you may have already seen them or others like them, but I thought something this phenomenal deserved to be repeated over and over.

Many self-sufficient survivalist homesteads use alternative means to generate their own electricity as an emergency preparedness measure. And, this refrigerator-conversion is a perfect setup for virtually any alternate power plan, whether it be based on solar, wind, hydro, or just a plain old gas/diesel generator.



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26 August, 2015

Food Shortages Causing Violence and Looting in Venezuela – Are You Ready for That to Happen Here?

Military patrolling supermarkets during food shortage to prevent violence
National guard patrols a supermarket in Caracas.
Things are still looking quite desparate down in Venezuela, giving us yet another example of why emergency preparedness and storing food, in particular, is very important and a wise way to live one's life. We take for granted the fact that we live in a wealthy westernized country, where this kind of scene is rare. It lulls us into a false sense of security, thinking that such could never happen here. But it has happened here in the past. 

Long soup and bread lines were common during the Great Depression as unemployment skyrocketed, following a debilitating stock market crash not likely to be unlike the one many are warning us could be heading our way again very soon. The difference between now and the 1930s was that back then we were a much more agrarian society. 

Most people knew how to grow their own food, and preserve the surplus for the winter. Many had moved to jobs in the city during industrial boomtimes, but they had grown up tending farms. The majority still had family living on farms to whom they could reach out. My family finds its roots in coal mining, but even as late as when my mother was growing up in the 1960s, they tell stories of all the kids in the family going to stay at an aunt's farm every summer. Our world simply isn't like that anymore. 

Looters running amok during food shortage, killing one person
People carry goods looted from a supermarket in San Felix in the state of Bolivar, Venezuela July 31, 2015.
We've moved so far beyond an agrarian life that the vast majority of people in our society are literally incapable of taking care of themselves. Very few people, especially people in their 20s-30s, garden or can their own produce, and the small percentage who does only know how to do it as a passing hobby. And, making things even worse will be the fact that an entitlement lifestyle has become so pervasive in our society that many believe it is the responsibility of others to take care of them

Just like is happening in Venezuela, some will be docile and stand in long lines waiting to be fed, while others turn to looting and even violence. The severity of the situation and how long it goes on will dictate the severity of how extremely the average person reacts. If things go on long enough, don't think for a moment that the thin and fragile veneer of polite society won't disintegrate into nothingness. 

Human beings are animals, albeit very advanced and intelligent ones, and history has shown us that those struggling to fill basic human needs for themselves and their families in harsh conditions have even turned to cannibalism in the past. Knowing that we have it in us to go to such extremes when necessary should remove all naivety about the likelihood of people becoming violent and looting, etc. for what they need. Nobody is going to peacefully watch their child starve. They will take what they need and, if things get bad enough, kill whomever stands in the way. 

Don't put yourself in the middle of that, having to rush out into such chaos to gather supplies for you and your family. Every family, even if they aren't serious about Prepping, should have a few weeks of non-perishable food and bottled water stored away against the possibility of temporary emergencies. Something like that makes sense even simply against the possibility of blizzards, hurricanes, and other natural disasters that happen all the time. Add to that some basic supplies: a propane camp stove, lanterns, some rudimentary first aid supplies, and the means by which to protect yourselves, and you will be miles ahead of the average person when it comes to increasing your chances of surviving harsher times. That will be sufficient to get you through most emergencies, even if you don't believe a long-term emergency is headed our way. Add to all those some knowledge about old world things, like gardening and canning produce, and you're exponentially increasing your ability to survive something much more serious and ongoing.


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