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Here, at Final Prepper, we believe in common sense. There are no doomsday scenarios here, just tips and advices for what now has become, our everyday life – hurricanes, power shortages, food and water shortages, you name it. So we are not sharing info fearing there will be no tomorrow – on the contrary – we do it so that we could all be here tomorrow.

That being said, sit back, and have some fun reading this funny article.

I like to think I have a pretty good sense of humor most days. Having a sense of humor I feel is necessary to get through life and on some days, your sense of humor could be the only thing saving you from losing it completely. Everyone has different ideas of what is funny but I hope you can agree with me that you must be able to laugh from time to time. Even if the source of that laughter is yourself and/or what you are doing. It was with that frame of mind that I read an article on the Huffington Post from Robbie Pickard.

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I have included his entire post in this article because I wanted to comment on it, but felt that to be fair, I should have all of the context of his words together with my observations/comments.  Robbie Pickard is a writer and a comedian who along with writing for HuffPo, has a brilliantly funny website called “Open Letters to Strangers” . I recommend checking that out if you aren’t offended easily and it helps to have an offbeat sense of humor. As a comedian, humor is funniest I think when you are skewering people big time and take normal traits or behaviors to the absurd to heighten the effect. The article he wrote is no exception and the subject that Robbie has chosen to set his sights on this time is Doomsday Preppers.

I want to start off by saying that his article didn’t offend me at all and I don’t think it should offend anyone reading it here. In fact it made me laugh (not as much as the Open Letters site, but still). I am not posting this out of anger or outrage or the feeling that prepping is being mocked. I am posting it because it gives me an opportunity to make a few points. The title was what caught my attention and Robbie goes on to point out in a pretty sarcastic fashion how he feels Preppers will lose no matter what happens.  He says that all of these so called Preppers are spending our whole life “getting ready for an event that probably won’t happen”.

 

Naysayers like this are not something new to anyone who has been prepping for a while and I imagine that a lot of you have had to defend these same positions with family and/or loved ones.

 

Robbie’s article is below.

The 3 Ways Doomsday Preppers Will Die

**DISCLAIMER: I just purchased an earthquake kit on Amazon.com. You can never be too careful, guys.**

Have you thought about what you’d do if a movie like Armageddon or The Day After Tomorrow came to life? Do you have a “bug-out” vehicle? An underground bunker with at least 100 days worth of nonperishable food? C’mon, tell me you’ve at least got a self-sustaining aquaponics system to feed your family!

Whether by the hands of God, nature, or man himself … 22 percent of Americans believe the world will end during their lifetime.

Seriously?

I was just watching a particularly cringe-worthy episode of National Geographic‘s Doomsday Preppers, where some dipstick from Boston informed his new mail-order bride from Columbia that he is a prepper. Her reaction? A very predictable, “¿Qué?”

I’ve never felt worse for someone. She came to America in search of a better life, and within a day of arriving he’s got this poor woman learning to purify water using a plastic bag. Didn’t she just marry this moron to escape that kind of life?

Every prepper I’ve seen on this show seems like they’re not just prepping — they’re hoping.

They hate their lives and fantasize about a world where they could be a hero. Melvin from Accounting can’t wait for catastrophe so he can become Melvin the Survivor! He’s praying for a complete economic collapse so he can look his boss and say, “I made 40k a year, but now I’m the post-apocalyptic king! I have all the SpaghettiO’s and I won’t lower my drawbridge to give you any! Muhaha!”

Spending your whole life getting ready for an event that probably won’t happen doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when there are only three outcomes for a doomsday prepper:

1. Nothing Happens, You Die

Okay, so you spent your whole life preparing for something that never happened. So what? You have more canned goods than anyone in your zip code! And if something would’ve happened … everyone totally knows you would’ve been the last one standing!

Who cares if you spent your entire life savings on survival supplies instead of taking vacations with your family or sending your kids to college? They got a real education when you took them into the woods every weekend to teach them how to set booby traps for when the zombie neighbors invade! They can pass on that knowledge to their children! See, it wasn’t a waste!

Your kids will still thrive, even in a world that doesn’t fall apart. You’ve taught them fantastic social skills, so long as that social situation takes place in an underground bunker and the topic of conversation is about how honey is the only food that will never spoil. I smell future beekeepers!

2. Something Happens, You Die Anyway

Ugh, what a bummer! Your $250,000 underground compound was ready and rarin’ to go, a nuclear bomb was detonated and caused an EMP just like you said it would, but you didn’t get to say “I told you so,” because you died along with all of the idiotic unprepared. Just bad luck you weren’t near your EMP-safe bunker when this happened. You’re there 22 hours of the day, what are the odds? Hey world, I’d like a mulligan please!

3. Something Happens, You Survive! (Until You Die)

Ding! Ding! Ding! You hit the lotto! Your dream scenario played out, and the world as we know it has been destroyed. That moat around your house is put to good use, as the unprepared pathetically attempt to gain access to your compound. Bodies float in your moat, and you and your family get to laugh (party because it rhymes).

Those who foolishly tried to enjoy their lives before the apocalypse slowly die off, while you and your family feast on the bounty of dehydrated food you put in the cellar years ago.

Slowly, you realize that you now live in a world where the entire population consists of Doomsday Preppers. It’s terrible. You beg for a second apocalypse.

OK, so what did you think? I thought the article had its funny parts as I said and I can laugh at some of the absurdities presented in here. For comedic affect he has taken the extremes and used those as his normal and that is what I wanted to talk about. So with that, here are some comments to his 3 scenarios above.

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1. Nothing Happens, You Die – This example makes three assumptions. First, that Preppers want something bad to happen and second that we do not do anything else with our lives but glance furtively out the blinds at our neighbors waiting for some end of the world boogeyman. Lastly it assumes we spend our entire income on prepping.

For me personally this is the outcome I am hoping for – that nothing happens. I want to live to a ripe old age, retire if I can and lead a quiet life surrounded by children and great grandchildren and the rest of my family. Prepping to me isn’t about hoping for the apocalypse day and night. It is about making sensible preparations and trying to get as many people as I can to make some of those same decisions in their lives. Prepping is not something that requires voluminous amounts of time, but when you look at the preparations some people have made I can see how an outsider might think so. Preppers might be less interested in the usual diversions of TV so we use our time in different ways.

To make a correlation with what the author is trying to imply, I will use the car insurance example I have by now beaten to death. Does anyone mock you if you go your entire life and never have an automobile accident? No, but you could logically have and pay for car insurance for 50 or 60 years, right? You and millions of other people pay every month “just in case”. Actually it is the law that you have car insurance in case something happens you will have a means to take care of it. Why is Prepping for a different kind of accident looked at as stupid? I would bet money that I haven’t spent anywhere near the amount on prepping as I have on car insurance and yet my supply of food makes me a money waster?

2. Something Happens, You Die Anyway – This example isn’t realistic because I wouldn’t believe more than 1% of the top 1% of people have bunkers anyway. I know I would love to have one, but they aren’t something I can see ever purchasing. Now, if I win the lottery, look out!

Even with a bunker people die. People die every day and Preppers aren’t saying that they will live forever just because they have food stored up are they? Are you? I don’t look at prepping as some type of magic spell that is going to make flood waters divert around my property, make me bulletproof or protect me from anything bad ever happening. That is simply not logical.

Prepping to me is about just simple steps I can take to make sure I have some means of self reliance. I don’t want to be the person who goes hungry because I didn’t have any food stored and a drought causes crops to fail and food prices to increase. I don’t want to be the person who is at the mercy of the cold if a winter storm snaps the power on my street for two weeks. I could still die, I just don’t want to die for the sake of not being prepared. I guess that too makes me an idiot.

3. Something Happens, You Survive! (Until You Die) – This would be the worst scenario in my opinion because I think the horrors of any type of calamity will be worst for the people who survive. Robbie tries to paint this also as a dream scenario for some Preppers. I will admit that there are some idiots who fantasize about this, but the public at large doesn’t have the same dreams. The Preppers I know and associate with worry about nut jobs who just want to destroy and kill. Part of the reason we prep is to take steps to deal with people like this as best we can.

I do think that if you have taken the time to make simple preparations you could conceivably live through the initial phases of any crisis like this. You may be those people the author describes as wishing for another apocalypse to get rid of the evil that survived along with you. This may be what happens to everyone reading this. All I know is that I have been given a will to survive. I have been given some form of motivation to make sure my family is prepared and we will deal with the hand we are dealt. I have said it before that I don’t want anything bad to happen. I would really love to face the end of my days at some point very far in the future with people telling me that the events I feared never materialized and that I was a sucker. That would make me very happy.

I am betting that I am not wrong though and there is nothing stupid about taking steps to prepare your family. Does that make me the butt of some jokes? Maybe, and I am OK with that. I would rather be on this end taking the jokes and smiling than on the other end if I am right. Your mileage may vary.

Naysayers like this are not something new to anyone who has been prepping for a while and I imagine that a lot of you have had to defend these same

New to prepping?

What is prepping?

The practice of making active preparations for a possible catastrophic disaster or emergency, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.

OK, so you have decided that you want to take steps to protect your family from unseen events. You may not know what events to plan for or you could have a much defined idea of the threats you see, but regardless you recognize a need.

There are people who come to the Final Prepper after they read something on another prepping blog or they may have been visiting our site for a year. The newer visitors are usually just getting starting in this crazy world of Prepping and if they are anything like I was at the beginning, knowing where to start can be pretty daunting.

Prepping isn’t the same for everyone but most people eventually look for a simple guideline to follow so I have pulled together this prepper’s list of supplies.

How is this list of supplies you need going to be different than any of the 523 million other lists out there? Maybe it won’t be, but I am going to try and go in order of importance so you can follow along at home and let me know what I missed or what should have received priority.

Your list may be completely different than mine, but I believe the items contained in this list of supplies will be common to most people and more importantly will be required if you are going to be as prepared as possible if the manure hits the hydro-electric powered oscillating air current distribution device.  This list is not all encompassing either. I am probably not going to have blacksmith supplies or leather working tools although I can see the use in each of those. This list is going to be for the average person to get by if we have a SHTF event, not start a new life in the wild west. Please let me know what additional items you would recommend and I’ll keep this list updated so you can print it out whenever you need to purchase items or want to build your supplies out.

Lastly, this list is primarily for Sheltering in Place and the requirements/resources the average person would be able to lay their hands on. This doesn’t take more extreme climates into consideration but should still provide a base regardless of where you live. For something more specific to the Bug Out Bag checklist, click here. Also this list is going to be missing the specifics of the amounts because each family or individual is different. So without further ado, here we go.

Water

  • Method of Disinfecting or Filtering Water
    • Big Berkey Light or similar gravity fed water filter (capacity 2.25 gallons). It doesn’t get much easier than this. The capacity in only one of these units might not be enough for a family of 4 in the summer though so plan accordingly. You can also buy the filters and make your own water filter much cheaper.
    • Paint or coffee filters – to remove sediment prior to filtering. This will keep your filters working much longer if your source is murky. Bandannas or old t-shirts can be used too.
    • Backpacking/ Camping Water Filters – MSR Miniworks, Sawyer for individual use or travel. Gravity filters like the Platypus are fastest and have less moving parts to break.
    • Bleach – Non-scented or Calcium Hypochlorite is a better long-term option that won’t go bad. For additional instructions on treating water, you can read this article.
    • Boiling water over a fire will kill organisms, but will not remove chemicals.
    • SODIS Method which you can read about online.
    • Water purification tabs – These are last on my list because they do not last long.
    • Polar Pure is an iodine based disinfection method that will last far longer than any water tablets.
    • How to purify water with Charcoal
    • Other safe drinking water strategies for preppers
  • Method of carrying water
    • Plastic Nalgene Bottles or Stainless Steel water bottle for each individual if you plan on needing to boil water for individual use.
    • 5 Gallon water jugs – These are pretty heavy when full. Get the heavy plastic ones not the collapsible bladder type. These will need to hold up to a lot of abuse.
    • Yard wagon or wheel barrow to haul the water jugs and reduce trips to your water source if it is remote.
    • How to store and carry water in a survival situation

  • Methods of obtaining/Storing additional water
    • Assuming you don’t have running/well water on your property…. Rain Barrels are best in most climates if you plan ahead.
    • Find additional water sources by exploring your neighborhood
    • 55 Gallon Storage barrels are easy to set up and forget.
    • WaterBOB is great for emergencies with warning you are about to lose water.


Food

  • Short Term Food Items – This should be the food you eat every day. Just ensure you have 30 days’ worth of food storage at all times at the minimum. Build out to one year as your resources allow.
  • Long Term Food
    • Canned vegetables, fruits and meat (chicken/Tuna/Spam if you can stand it)
    • Hard Red Winter Wheat
    • Rice
    • Beans
    • stored in sealed Mylar bags
  • Staples (Food to make food taste better)
  • Ultra-Long Term Food
    • Freeze Dried foods would be the last item to stock up on unless you have an abundance of money and zero time. The benefit with these are super long shelf life and virtually zero work so even with the added cost, they are a really smart choice if you have the other bases covered first.
  • Misc
    • Canning Jars
    • Pressure Canner
    • Water Bath Canning pot (all of these are reasonably purchased at Walmart or Amazon)

Security

  • Personal/Home Defense
    • Identify what you will use to protect your family if a bad guy is beating down the door. For me I have chosen several firearms and you can read what I consider are the top 5 firearms you need here, the best gun for home defense if you can only afford one and how to find the best handgun for self-defense in other articles on the Final Prepper.
    • Door Security – EZ Armor Door Security Kit
    • Sandbags – great for protection from water and bullets.
    • Barbwire
    • Camouflage clothing – This can have multiple advantages
    • Body Armor in either Soft or Hard panels
    • Heavy Duty Knife
    • Holster for Pistol
    • Ultra bright flashlight
    • For firearms purchase additional ammo and use our Ammo inventory spreadsheet to help keep track of what you have
    • Firearm Safe bolted to the floor

  • Extra weapon cleaning supplies
    • Gun Oil
    • Cleaning Solvent
    • Spare brushes
  • Financial Security
    • Personally I would store most of my extra cash outside of the bank. Your mileage may vary and this is not without risks. This doesn’t prevent a currency devaluation but it does circumvent blank holidays or power outages.
    • 14 ways money can save your life when SHTF
    • Precious Metals – Investigate this for yourself, but I find the arguments and historical track records against fiat currency and the current rumblings of Government wanting to take care of your investments for you very compelling. Gold is easier to transport with the high cost to weight, but you might have problems cashing a gold coin for a tank of gas. Silver is where I have chosen to invest in precious metals.]
    • Search for gold on your property
    • Pay off bills – move now to ensure you won’t be in debt if the economy collapses.

Shelter

  • Clothing
    • Make sure you have appropriate clothing to be outdoors. Trendy stops when you have to live outside in the elements. This goes for children too.
    • Layers are key in winter, wicking garments in the summer. If you have plenty of camping gear you should be set.
    • Sturdy Work Boots
    • Heavy Duty Socks – Wool Blends like Merino are my favorite for winter.
    • Heavy Duty Gloves
  • Repair Materials if needed
    • Spare wood – Plywood and 2 x 4’s will handle a lot of different repairs until you can get the right materials.
    • Tarps
    • Plastic Sheeting – Good for blacking out light or making an infection barrier.
    • Duct Tape
    • Nails
  • Temporary Shelter
    • Camping tents and tarps can be used to effectively keep the elements off you if needed.
    • Bivvy Bags are great emergency shelters, but not meant for extended use.
  • Heat Source
    • Kerosene Heater
    • Wood Burning Stove
    • Propane Heater
    • Fuel for either in abundance. For Kerosene, you can treat it so that it will store for much longer.
    • Fire Extinguishers

Hygiene /First Aid

I have plenty of hygiene items but it is not my major focus/worry. If you can shower every couple of days and wash your hands before eating and after touching anything nasty you should be fine.

  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Comb/Brush
  • Clippers
  • Floss
  • Razors
  • Vitamins
  • Fish Antibiotics – In a grid down situation a healthy supply of these could save a life. Also get this Survival Medicine Book to know how to use them.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Also good for lighting fires
  • Sunscreen
  • Chap-stick
  • Feminine Products
  • Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Calamine Lotion – Benadryl
  • Children’s Fever Reducer
  • Neosporin or Fish Antibiotics
  • Plenty of bandages
  • Latex or Nitrile Gloves (these are cheap so buy two boxes)
  • Face-masks (regular and N95)

Sanitation

  • Quick Lime
  • Spare 5 Gallon Bucket with Toilet Lid
  • Trash bags
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Bleach – Non-scented or Calcium Hypochlorite is a better long-term option that won’t go bad. 
  • Latex or Nitrile Gloves
  • Camping Shower

Cooking

  • Gas Grill
  • Camp Stove
  • Rocket Stove like the EcoZoom
  • Fire pit
  • Solar Oven
  • Spare Propane Cylinders
  • Disposable lighters/ Matches
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Butane Stove – Spare fuel Canisters
  • Cast Iron Cookware – The best option for cooking when the grid goes down.
    • Dutch Oven
    • Skillet

Lighting/Power

  • Rechargeable Batteries X 2 for the important items (radio, lights)
  • Battery Charger w/ solar or vehicle adapter for batteries and cell phones
  • 1000 Watt Inverter connected to car battery for charging devices/running small appliances
  • Spare fuel to run vehicle (min 25 gallons)
  • 5 – 5 Gallon gas cans
  • PRI – G gas treatment for long-term fuel storage.
  • 3000 W Generator
  • Tri-fuel generator (gas, propane, natural gas)
  • Spare fuel for generator (min 90 gallons)
  • 7 – 14 gallon gas cans
  • 100 Watt Solar Panel kit
  • Deep cycle Batteries
  • Siphon pump to acquire additional fuel
  • LED Flashlight with spare batteries – 1 per person
  • Candles – 15 Hour Emergency candles
  • Battery powered lantern for common areas
  • Headlamps for each individual – infinitely easier and more practical than flashlights. Allows for hands free tasks.
  • Propane lanterns – great outdoor lighting option or use within well-ventilated area.
  • Oil lamps – the right kind can provided plenty of light and last longer than batteries, or should according to use.
  • Lamp Oil

Tools/Misc.

For tools, these will be basic and not specialized. There are a lot of people who don’t live where there are any trees for example and most will not be building their own log cabin even if they do. Buy the best quality you can afford. You will feel the pain in your wallet one time, but the tool should last long enough to offset that.

  • High quality non-GMO seeds.
  • Shovels
  • Large Pry Bar
  • Med-Large Bolt Cutters
  • Plastic Zip Ties – Various sizes
  • Plastic Bins – 5 Gallon buckets
  • Chain Saw – Good for clearing roads or closing roads.
  • Heavy Work Gloves – Several Pairs
  • Oils and lubricants – Chain oil, motor oil, two cycle oil, WD40
  • Wheel Barrow or Yard Wagon
  • Clamps
  • Full set of wrenches (metric and standard)
  • Good Hammer
  • Ratchet Straps
  • Bungee cords
  • Rope
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Limb Saw
  • Hand Saw
  • Pick Axe or Mattock
  • Post Hole Digger
  • Metal Tubs
  • Full set of Screwdrivers
  • Allen wrenches
  • Pipe Wrench
  • Spare PVC and PVC cement
  • Garden Hose
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Spare Lumber
  • Chain

Communications

  • Entertainment World Band Radio
  • Ham Radio – HT (BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8W High Power)
  • Antenna
  • Base Station Short Wave Radio
  • Spare Batteries for HT and Radio
  • Solar Charger
  • Games
  • Books
  • DVD on battery operated player
  • Cards
  • Frisbee
  • ball and bat

So there is the list. I know that I missed a million things that people will think is important. Please let me know and we’ll grow this list so it covers everything.


Other Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Prepping isn’t the same for everyone but most people eventually look for a simple guideline to follow. I love lists. They make my life easier.

How are you doing, fellow preppers and preppies? Been a while now since I’ve tried my hand at making stuff, rather than repairing or buying new. Seeing that most of you have trouble figuring out what to use for electricity in case of an SHTF situation, I thought of sharing with you my latest project: a home-made bike-powered generator.

I have to admit that I wasn’t too sure about how this project would turn on since I had to improvise most of the time. The idea came from one of dad’s friends who said he used something similar during the Korean War to power a small radio.

So, after doing a bit of snooping on the Internet, I gathered my tools and the rest of the stuff and jumped right into it. Time-wise, it took me about four hours, give or take the time spent chatting on FB with some of the buddies.

Anyway, this little gadget is quite useful if you’re ever in need to juice up something on the spot – I tried it on dad’s old motorcycle and even on an old tablet (you may need to find an adaptor for electronics such smartphones, tablets or laptops). So, without further ado, here’s how to build your own bike generator.

Tools and materials needed

  • Hammer with a nail puller.
  • Saw.
  • Philips screwdriver.
  • Lightbulb.
  • Old fan belt.
  • Old car alternator.
  • Switch.
  • Battery.
  • Voltage regulator.
  • Short plank.
  • Two 50x6x2 planks.
  • One plank (24 inches)
  • Nails
  • L-corner braces.
  • Bendable metal bracers.
  • Old bike.
  • Piece of metal.

Already gathered your tools and materials? Awesome. Here’s what you’ll need to do next.

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Assembling the bike generator

Step 1. Place the two 50-inch wooden planks next to each other on the ground. This will be your base.

Step 2. Grab the saw and cut the 24-inch plank in half.

Step 3. Using the saw, cut two triangular grooves on the upper part of the two pieces.

Step 4. Attach the two grooved pieces to your base (place them halfway from the short edges).

Step 5. Nail the grooved pieces to the base.

Step 6. Attach two big L-corner braces where the grooved pieces meet the base. Use screws to fix them in place.

Step 7. Attach a small L-corner place in the triangle-shaped indentation. Repeat step for the second piece.

Step 8. In order to secure the bike’s front wheel, attach two bendable braces in the front part of the base. Use two screws to lock them in place.

Step 9.  Using the appropriate wrench, tighten the screw that holds the bike’s back wheel into place.

Step 10. It’s time to place your bike on the support. Carefully place the back end on the two triangle-shaped indentations.

Step 11. Bend the two front metal braces over the front in and secure into place with two screws.

Step 12. Hop on the bike and start pedaling. If the bike feels like it’s about to go forward, add another metal brace to the front part of the wheel and make sure the rest of the screws are tightened.

Step 13. Remove the bike tube from the back wheel.

Step 14. Install the belt of the back wheel.

Step 15. Attach the other end of the belt on your alternator.

Step 16.  Attach the alternator to your base. Keep tension on the belt.

Step 17. Place the piece of metal over the base and attach the alternator to it. You can screw it in place if your alternator has mounting holes or weld it – I’ve gone with the latter option.

Step 18. The alternator has another mounting platform right out the back. Place a thin piece of metal under it and secure in place with a long screw.

It’s now time to test-drive the generator. But before you can do that, you will need to do play electrician for a bit.

  1. Take the voltage regulator to install it on the alternator. This will allow you to control the energy flow and to add a switch.
  2. Grab some wires. I color-coded them to know which is which (blue, red, and white).
  3. Take your read wire and attach it to the motor (this will be on positive).
  4. Take the blue wire and attach it to the voltage regulator (this will be on negative).
  5. To install the switch, take the white wire and attach it to the very same spot on the alternator where the red wire went. The other end goes into your voltage regulator.
  6. Connect the alternator to your regulator.
  7. Attach the last wire to the DF spot on your regulator.
  8. Solder the positive and negative wires to your battery. That’s it!

To try out your makeshift electricity generator, take a regular 12-volt right bulb and connect it to your thingamajig (red on side and blue on bottom). Put in a place where you can see it, hop on the bike, and start pedaling. After a couple of spins, the bulb should turn on. However, do keep in mind that the thing will stay on only if you keep on pedaling.

I’ve also tested out this generator on an old tablet. Had to whip out some sort of adaptor. It’s very easy – take your blue and red wires and connect them to the negative and positive terminals of a car charged outfitted with a USB outlet.

Hop on the bike and start pedaling. A couple of seconds later, I saw the charging icon lighting up on the top-right corner of the screen. I know it’s a crude way to juice up electronics, but it’s very handy to have around for, I don’t know, very short phone calls, sending a quick text or checking your mail.

One more thing: be sure that the belt connecting the back wheel to the alternator is always in tension. You might need to reposition the alternator for that. Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed my little project. As always, feel free to hit the comment section for any insights, tips or just to say ‘hi’.

How are you doing, fellow preppers and preppies? Been a while now since I’ve tried my hand at making stuff, rather than repairing or buying new. Seeing that most of

One of the central pillars of preparedness is being able to feed yourself. Preppers focus some of their attention on stockpiling food as well as creating renewable sources like gardens or livestock (chickens and rabbits) as protection against the possibility that the local grocery store is no longer able to provide something to eat. The average person it has been said only has about 3 days’ worth of food in their homes and if that is true, feeding your family in certain disasters could prove to be possibly your biggest problem.

We have already seen time and time again, scenes of grocery store shelves stripped clean anytime there is a concern in the public. Greece was just the most recent example of this behavior preppers warn against. Starvation would surely be a horrible way to die and it seems as though collectively we all consider this a threat that must be dealt with to ensure the safety of our loved ones. The question is how you will deal with the risk of not being able to feed your family. Will you stock up on food now while you are able, or will you try to swim through the crowd of potentially thousands of other people raiding the local grocery store in the hopes that you can secure enough food to last your family though whatever disaster you are facing?

It’s official. This is now the prepper’s “go to book” saving them time and money on costly doctor visits. Details and how to get your copy here

For many preppers, this may not be as grave of a concern from your perspective. If you have been diligently preparing, you may already have quite a large supply of food that would conceivably last you and anyone else in your home a long time. You might have plenty of food stocked already so you plan to sit back in the safety of your home while everyone else goes crazy; fighting over the last can of olives. But as you are sitting back feeling confidently comfortable, gazing at your fully pantry, those 5 gallon buckets of Winter Wheat and metric tons of beans, have you ever considered how long that food will actually last you when you start needing to eat it?

Determining how long your food storage will last

The default amount of calories we consider to be recommended for an adult is approximately 2,000 calories per person. I know there are differences with age, activity level and gender, but for simplicity sake let’s just take that amount as our baseline. For general health, each member of your survival group will need to consume on average 2,000 calories per day to simply maintain a “healthy” weight.

Rice and beans are a great long-term stable food supply for preppers. They have an impressive storage life as long as they are kept cool and dry and they are very cost-effective as well. You can purchase a 50 pound bag of rice for around $20. Rice and Beans together give you carbohydrates and protein. Each 50 pound bag of rice has approximately 500 servings and there really isn’t anything like the satisfaction you can get from staring at a shelf full of rice and beans. But how long will that last your family?

A 50 pound bag of rice has about 500 servings.

Each serving (1 cup) of rice is 206 calories

Each serving of pinto beans has 245 calories

If you ate three meals of Rice and Beans in a day you would consume only 1353 calories. (451 X 3). If you had a family of 4, that 50 pound bag would last you about 41 days but that isn’t all the calories you would need. To just stay healthy and not lose any weight you would need to come up with another 700 calories per person, per day.

Calories are more important to measure than servings

Well, you could supplement that rice and beans with the wild game you plan on hunting, right? Did you know , a 0.5-1 pound roast venison tenderloin has a whopping 127 calories. That doesn’t get you much further toward your calorie targets does it? What about chicken? One grilled chicken breast has only 141 calories.

Now let’s take the assumption that life without grocery stores is going to require more work out of you. Possibly much more work. So, the 2,000 calorie per day amount isn’t likely to be a realistic count of the number of calories you will actually need. You might be digging latrines to deal with sanitation, hunting for food or foraging in the forest all day. You could be patrolling your neighborhood or lugging water from a mile away. You would be washing clothes by hand, chopping wood; building fires and the 2,000 calorie amount would likely be more like 3,000 or 4,000 for some people just to maintain their weight. How long will your food last now?

To really get a good idea for how much food you have, you need to look at how many calories that food you plan on eating is going to give you. You can’t simply look at serving amounts and call it done because a serving of a fruit roll-up might make you think you will get a meal out of it, but they won’t come anywhere near close to what you need.

In addition to food make sure you plan on a good source of vitamins to augment austere eating conditions. This won’t be as good as the real thing, but could help stave off some health effects of a less than ideal diet.You should take the time to conduct at least a cursory inventory of your food stockpiles, check the serving size and calorie amounts. You can get really detailed and put this into a food storage spreadsheet if you like, but that will give you a true picture of the amount of time your food will last the number of people you have. Instead of looking at this from a poundage viewpoint you consider calorie counts. That way it will be easier to forecast how long your food will last and adjust for different people in your care.

What happens when we start to starve?

The more food you have, the better off you will be in a collapse scenario where we have no hope of the lights coming back on. Gardens and livestock greatly add to this cumulative total you have, but unless you have a very productive garden or a large supply of animals, the food you have on hand is likely to start running out. At some point in time, if the supply of food is interrupted, rationing might be a consideration you need to make.

It takes 30 heads of broccoli to get the same nutritional content as one head from 1978. Click here to find out why

Another consideration is the needs of the various people in your group. You may find you have hard choices to make. Someone who is old for example, who is less active may not get the same share of food as a younger person who is working outside all day. You may have to choose between roles and which people in which roles are given extra allotments of food. What if someone is out digging graves all day? Do you believe that someone who is sitting inside or not working as hard should get the same ration of food or the same dispensation of calories? If so, how long before the person who is working physically harder starts to decline in health? How long could you shovel or defend your home in a starvation state?

We talk about food storage as a solution to the grocery stores closing, but that will only buy us time in a true collapse. Yes, it will help your family tremendously to have additional food stocked up, but it will run out if the crisis lasts long enough. When calories are seriously limited, health starts to decline.

When we don’t get enough calories for a long enough time, our organs begin to shrink and gradually start to lose function. We can have bouts of chronic diarrhea, anemia, reduction in muscle mass and the weakness that goes with that.

We have all seen images of refugees on TV. Poor children covered in flies with distended bellies staring blankly at the camera might elicit a sense of guilt in us today as we sit on the sofa and flip through the channels. In Haiti, there are areas where people make and sell mud pies for people to eat because there is no other food and the worms in their stomachs would rob the person of any nutritional value from real food before it could help them.

What will you do when these poor souls are your children?

Kwashiorkor and Marasmus

Kwashiorkor and Marasmus are two conditions that are seen with acute malnutrition. It causes the swollen bellies you see on TV and I can see this appearing in our country were we to go through some horrible SHTF event. The pictures you see on TV could be not from around the world, but in your own back yard.

As in other places in the world, this will lead to violence and death as everyone fights for food resources to fend off dying.

“Kwashiorkor is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in developing countries. It is a form of malnutrition caused by not getting enough protein in your diet. Foods that contain protein include meat, milk, cheese, fish, eggs, soy, beans, nuts, seeds, and some types of grains like quinoa.”

Children who are deprived of calories for long enough will never reach their full potential for height and growth. These two conditions are treated in the beginning with simply getting more food with a healthy balance of protein. In more severe cases, you can’t just give a starving person a cheeseburger. You will have to introduce food slowly and something like powdered milk is good (reconstituted of course) to start them out until strength has increased and more food can be slowly added to their diet.

Anyone who has children will tell you that they will do anything to take care of their family. This manifests itself in a lot of imaginative ways, some violent. Before you have to get to that place where you are thinking of doing whatever is necessary to feed your family, make plans now to have as much food security as possible. A good strategy of food storage to include foods you eat every day, long-term store-able food and renewable sources will put you in a better position to provide for your family. Think about this now so you have to worry about this less when it actually is an issue.

What are your food storage plans and how long will your food hold out?

 

 


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One of the central pillars of preparedness is being able to feed yourself. Preppers focus some of their attention on stockpiling food as well as creating renewable sources like gardens

A frequent topic in Preparedness and Survival circles is the subject of Bugging Out and more specifically the question of whether you plan to Bug Out or will you Hunker Down. This simple question easily elicits all manner of responses and you will rarely find consensus on which is the better option. The only good thing about this question is there are only two options and one of those has to be the correct one in someone’s eyes. A 50/50 shot of getting this right isn’t too shabby if you are looking at odds, but there will be those who maintain an absolute position on one option or the other.

To Bug out or not bug out, like most questions that we must ask ourselves as we prepare for emergencies is an individual question and there is no universal wrong or right. This question is probably only second in notoriety to “What caliber is the best defensive round”.

If you can imagine going into a big underground bunker full of Preppers who are getting ready for the next Emergency and shouting that question; you will get as many answers as you have people. In reality, there are only a few common calibers but each person will have their own reason, preference or bias toward one and they will tell you in a very matter of fact tone, their choice and more importantly why you should take their word as the Gospel. Actually, it is probably simpler but just as much fun to pose this question in a survival forum and watch the sparks fly.

The factors that drive each person to reach their own personal decision are too numerous really to discuss in detail, but I will attempt to add my own opinionated two cents to the (already well covered, I know) argument and in doing so, completely invalidate everything I just said above. The reason is that I believe there is only one real answer to this question in almost any situation and my way is the right way. Most of the time.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, you may be asking “What the heck is he talking about?” so a quick definition is called for here. “Bugging Out” is the act of packing up your supplies and leaving home to go to another location. This may or may not coincide with the belief that you will never come back. A common example for Bugging Out is people who are forced to leave town due to a natural disaster like flooding or a Hurricane. They pack up their cars and get out of dodge. This is one of the reasons FEMA and other places recommend having a Bugout Bag or BOB with supplies that will keep you alive for 72 hours so that you can leave at a moment’s notice.

 

 

Bugging In or Hunkering Down is the complete opposite of Bugging Out. When you Bug-In you are staying put in your home with your supplies intending to ride out the storm or chaos that is coming. Thus the question is asked in preparedness circles usually in the context of political, biological or terrorism types of chaos: “Will you Bug out or Hunker down?”

To answer this for yourself, you have to ask several questions to determine which is the better option for you in your circumstance. The questions are pretty basic and revolve around:

  • Your Situation – What pushes your button internally that says “We have to leave”?
  • Your Location – This can apply to both where you are and where you plan to go
  • Your Health – Are you physically able to leave and possibly walk the distance
  • Your Dependents – small children or old relatives. Pets?
  • The Threat – What is the threat we are planning to leave for?
  • Your Destination – Where is the place you are going to?

 

Your Situation – can greatly affect the decision to Bug-Out or not and you have to decide when you will actually make the choice to go. If you are planning for an economic collapse, what events will trigger you leaving home and heading somewhere else. How bad would things need to get before you made that call. What if you are away from home? In that case you will be more concerned with getting home. What will your family do until you arrive? Is it the middle of winter and there is 2 feet of snow on the ground? Do you have a means of defending yourself and your family?

Your Health – Are you physically able to get up and strap a backpack to your back, walk out the door and never come back? Would you be able to run if needed? Do you require medication that must be refrigerated or taken daily? In some cases you simply won’t have a choice, you will need to Bug-In and plan accordingly.

Your Dependents – Do you have smaller children who may not be able to travel long distances. Are your children still in diapers or do they have special needs? Even healthy children below the age of 10 would have a tough time coping with a Bug-Out situation if the event lasted a long time and there was no stability. Are you pregnant? Do you have pets that you would never leave in a million years or that you would not be able to transport?

Your location – Are you located in a major city or a rural area with miles around you and nothing to look at. Do you live in a place that would allow you to live if the grid came crashing down tomorrow? I am not discussing whether or not it would be difficult, but could you plant a garden or do you live in a high-rise apartment in Chicago? Would you possibly need to walk with millions of other people out of the city? If this is the case, where would you go?

The threat – This one may be the easiest to answer but you will most likely have more than one answer given the specific threat. If we are talking about a flood or natural disaster and you have plenty of notice you may decide to leave. If we are talking about a viral outbreak or Mutant Zombie Bikers from Mars you may decide to stay. Has your city descended into chaos with riots and fires and mobs of people looting?

Your destination – Where are you heading? Do you have a place to go with a survival kit filled with supplies to last you? If the threat is a natural disaster like a hurricane and you have time, you can probably go stay with relatives for a few days. This may be one of the first things you should think of. Will you pack up the family, load down the car and hit the highway? Where will you go? For me I think this was the first factor I built all of my other choices off of. I do not live on a retreat in Idaho with 50 acres of land and an underground bunker complete with livestock and solar power. I do live near a large pond in a relatively small city with enough land to have a garden that would feed my family. I don’t have any retreat property (yet) so I don’t know where I would go. I would not go driving off into the sunset to try and live off the land unless I was desperate. This may be the circumstance that you are facing too and when the time comes you have to decide.

 

 

 

One factor I really like about the Preparedness and Survival community is the wealth of knowledge and experience we have out there. Just like me, everyone has an opinion. Some are based upon experience and others have made decisions after much reflection. Regardless of the experience one has you have to ask yourself questions when making a decision like this as it could affect everything you have and/or love. No expert can tell you what will work best for you and your family in your situation.

Taking all of the criteria above into consideration, I think for the average person with no place to go Bugging in is the best option. You will not be able to walk into the forest, kill deer and squirrels and live like a boss. That simply isn’t happening for the “average” person. For one thing you wont be alone. There could be millions of others with you too.

I have thought long and hard on this question and I know that if circumstances in my life were different I would most likely have a different answer. As it stands now, my vote is for Bugging In. I have all of my supplies here and we live in a relatively rural area. I am not naïve to believe that we would be insulated from the chaos but I think we would have a better chance here with some shelter as opposed to walking in the woods sleeping under a tarp. As much as I like camping, a home is a better place to defend.

Could that change tomorrow? Sure it could. I am constantly evaluating my situation and when things change, my plans change. Who knows, I might update this site before it’s all said and done with one last message.

“So long folks! I am outta here.”

A frequent topic in Preparedness and Survival circles is the subject of Bugging Out and more specifically the question of whether you plan to Bug Out or will you Hunker

We buy a lot of things to prepare for the unexpected…or expected, that SHTF will be at our doorstep one day. For some, this is further in time, for others comes every day with floods, hurricanes, bad weather conditions and much more.

You may have in mind items for when the SHTF like duct tape, canned food, survival knives, but there is one item you might consider including in your prepper list: the trash can.

Why Trash Cans?

You already use trash cans. They are everywhere (inside and outside) which make them easy to access in an emergency. Trash cans are a heavy-duty item; they stand up to frequent use and they’re durable as hell. Even indoor cans, like those you’d use in an office, have potential uses you probably haven’t considered.

Here are just a few ways you can use trash cans when the grid goes down.

1: Collect Rain Water in Trash Cans

In an emergency, a trash can may be your best bet if you are running out of stored water. You can turn your trash bin, perhaps used to store other prepping supplies up to that point, into a rain barrel. This project requires two holes cut at the top and bottom for the downspout and faucet, PVC piping to construct a downspout, gasket fittings, and tubing for the faucet. Fittings may be secured with washers and sealed with silicone caulking.

My recycling bin is going into action immediately as a rain barrel if the grid goes down. After a thorough cleaning of course.

Keep all needed items with a compass saw for cutting the holes without a power drill and rain barrel-making instructions in a Ziploc bag near your trash can. Rainwater should always be treated before consumption, so figure out ahead of time if you are going to use chlorine, filters, or boiling methods to purify your drinking water.

2: Make a Super-Sized Rocket Stove

Converting a large metal trash can into a rocket stove is fairly straightforward. Cut a hole at the bottom of the trash can to accommodate a stovepipe made of 6” elbow piping; the stovepipe will need to be constructed as a double-walled chimney with a trim ring and an extra section of piping. The stovepipe will fit into the hole cut toward the bottom with its top trimmed below the top of the garbage can. The pipe should be secured with dowels and nuts arranged in a wagon wheel pattern to stabilize it. The pipe is then insulated with vermiculite poured between it and the sides of the trash can.

You will need to lay a grate across the top for a cooking surface. Load the bottom of the stovepipe with wood and light. Now you’re ready to boil water and cook food on a stove so efficient it requires very little wood to produce the necessary amount of heat.

3: Dispose of Human Waste

A smaller trashcan can work as a makeshift toilet. This is a simple solution in situations where human waste needs to be carried away for disposal. Line your trashcan with a double layer of garbage bags. Place a couple of 2x4s over the rim to create a seat. Waste can then be carried away and the trash bags replaced as needed.

 

4: Grow Food

Trash cans can be great tools for growing plants. A favorite trick of home gardeners everywhere: using a trash can to grow potatoes. Potatoes require large amounts of earth heaped on top of growing plants, and a large trash can (think 20 to 32 gallons) is a great way to keep soil in place as the potato plants grow upward. Either drill holes in the bottom for drainage or just cut the entire bottom off of a plastic trash can.

Potatoes don’t have to grow in the ground. You can use an old trash can to create a potato growing container

Start the potatoes in about 10 inches of soil and add more for every 10 inches or so of growth. The best part is the trash can is easily cleaned and used for a new crop as soon as the first is harvested.

5: Shovel Snow

That small trashcan in your bathroom or office can become a snow shovel. Shoveling with a small can certainly won’t be easy on your back, but a trash can may also work to move soil and sand. Just make sure the can is sturdy enough to hold up under the weight of snow before you start using it to dig yourself out.

6: Faraday Cage

A Faraday Cage is essential for keeping your small electronics safe from an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), and you can make one using a steel trash can. Wrap each item in cloth, then wrap in three layers of foil. Place the item in a box and wrap the box in two layers of foil. Store off the ground once wrapped.

Trash cans can be used for simple Faraday cages.

Completely line your trash can with cardboard and seal with its tight-fitting lid. For this protective system to work there needs to be a clear separation between both the layers of foil and between the foil and the trash can metal. Steel trash cans are sold in a variety of sizes, so you can select the one that works best with the number of electronics you are trying to keep safe.

7: Hold Emergency Supplies

Trash cans make useful storage containers for prepping supplies. They come in a variety of sizes with all kinds of lids and handles. You can even select cans in different colors to better organize your supplies. Larger trash cans may be used to store emergency supplies for a whole family– just throw it into the bed of your truck for hauling supplies the moment you need to. Then you can repurpose the trash can for any of the above ideas.

Think Creatively, Be Prepared

A trash can is useful for much more than holding garbage – it can be an integral part of how you collect water, cook food, dispose of waste, grow food, or protect your electronics. Of course, these are just a few of the ways your common trash can fits into survival plans:

We buy a lot of things to prepare for the unexpected…or expected, that SHTF will be at our doorstep one day. For some, this is further in time, for others

With the approaching winter season and headlines like “Monster Storm on the Way” it’s time to consider your auto preparedness with a winter survival kit. I am not talking about your bug out vehicle, but I guess that is relevant. If you are stranded in your car, will you have basic supplies to stay alive? By taking simple steps now you can ensure that no matter where you live, you are better prepared this winter season if you are forced to survive overnight or possibly two days in your car.

A winter car survival kit is simple to pull together and a lot of these items you probably already have either in your home or your car or garage. This article we are going to pull all these items together into one container you can store in your car and make sure that you won’t be stranded with nothing more than the clothes you left work in. For a simple reference, you can print this list out.

What items do you need in your winter car kit?

shovelingout

For snow removal/general purpose

  • Shovel – If you need to dig out of snow, it sure helps to have a shovel unless you want to try and use your windshield scraper. SOG makes an Entrenching tool that is the perfect price for your car survival kit.
  • Windshield Scraper – If you get stuck in a snowstorm and are forced to wait, you will likely need to scrape off your windows.
  • Tow Rope – Many times a call to the tow truck isn’t necessary if someone with a four wheel drive can pull you out. If you simply slide into a shallow ditch but can’t move due to traction (this happened to me), wrap a tow rope around your axle and get back on the road.
  • Gas Can– If you don’t follow the advice of every single other prepping blog out there and keep a minimum of a half tank of gas, you might need to get some and bring it back

  • Jumper Cables – Self explanatory
  • Can of Fix a Flat– Of course a full size spare tire is best but you might be in conditions that don’t permit a jack easily. These temporary solutions save time and money on the road, but be sure to get the tire repaired quickly.
  • Cat litter – No, this isn’t if you have to go to the bathroom, it is for traction. Just last year I decided to see if I could make it out of my neighborhood in my front wheel drive car. Guess what? I couldn’t so the cat litter was deployed under the front tires to help me get traction.
  • Emergency Flares – Great for signaling others if there is an accident or for help. Flares can be seen for a long distance so if you need to get someone’s attention these could do the trick.

winter-wonderland-dressing-for-the-cold-a-woman-with-high-heels-walking-through-the-snow

High Heels look great, but they don’t make sense in the snow.

To stay warm

  • Sturdy Shoes – Most of the time this applies to women more so than men. Ladies, do you want to break down in a blizzard and be forced to try and walk to safety wearing those cute high heel shoes you have on? Keep a backup pair of sturdy shoes or boots if you are forced to walk.
  • Warm Gloves – Gloves will keep your paws warm which will make you feel warmer as well.
  • Hand warmers – If the gloves aren’t enough some hand warmers are amazing. They will safely store in your trunk for years. Great for sporting events too!

  • Wool Blanket or Sleeping Bag – A good wool blanket will keep you incredibly warm. A good sleeping bag like Elite Survival Systems Recon 3 packs small and can be used for camping as well.
  • Fleece Toboggan – You lose a lot of heat through your head, so wrap that bad boy up in something warm.

To stay comfortable

  • Flashlight/Headlamp– Let’s face it. Being in the dark alone on the side of the road sucks out loud. Just having some light makes a world of difference. I prefer headlamps for their hands free simplicity. Make sure you have spare batteries too.
  • Battery powered radio– Or hand crank if you prefer. This serves two purposes. It can entertain and inform you. Good to have one of these around the house as well if the regular communication methods are down and this won’t wear down your cell phone battery.
  • Water – two days’ worth – Throw 2 gallons of water in your car and you are golden.
  • Snack Food – two days’ worth – Something that won’t easily go bad and doesn’t need preparation. Snack bars, jerky, power bars, trail mix.

Just in case

 

  • Matches or Lighter – I prefer the cheap Bic lighters. I doubt that you would need to start a fire in your car, but you never know…
  • First aid kit – Something that has more than band aids. Chances are if you are stranded and hurt it will be more than a Hello Kitty band aid can fix. Make sure you can stop blood lose and medicate for pain until help arrives.
  • Knife– I see some people packing a big survival knife in their car. I guess if the grid goes down, you are forced off the road and into the woods for survival this could be necessary, but we are talking about getting stuck and spending a day or two in the car. Not becoming Rambo. A nice folder will do the trick for just about anything you could need it for.
  • Any medications you need for daily use – Pack two days worth of your regular medicine in a travel container and always have it with you.
  • Whistle – It is easier than yelling “Is there anyone there? Help Me!!!”
  • Cell Phone Charger– This is the last on the list because if you are stranded and your can still runs, you should be able to charge your phone unless you don’t have a charging cable in your car, or you ran out of gas.

Where do you put your winter car survival kit?

Once you have all the items assembled, remove them from their packaging and estimate the size container you would need to stow all of the materials. Some of the basic automobile items like jumper cables and road flares might have their own container. Hop over to your local store and buy a simple plastic bin with a lid on it, load up all of your survival gear and place it in the trunk.

Good luck and I hope you never need to use it.

 

 

With the approaching winter season and headlines like “Monster Storm on the Way” it’s time to consider your auto preparedness with a winter survival kit. I am not talking about

When planning and storing food for emergencies or survival situations, we have long advocated incorporating foods that will last forever (or at least longer than you will). By doing so, this does double duty by boosting your emergency supplies, pantries, and your bartering power, as well as ensuring you are purchasing foods as frugally as possible.

In The Prepper’s Cookbook, 25 must-have foods were explored in this best-selling book. These 25 foods are the foundation of your prepper pantry and used to make an array of foods. 11 of those 25 foods were what is considered “forever foods.”

Today, we are going to explore five more foods to add to your forever food pantries, and if stored properly, they will last forever. Best of all, many of them will serve multiple purposes beyond human consumption and this could give you a hand up should the SHTF!

5 (More) Forever Foods for Your Prepper Pantry

1. Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is actually not made by distillation at all, but made by the fermentation of the natural sugars found in either grains or fruit. Those sugars are converted to alcohol and the alcohol is then fermented a second time and it turns into vinegar by the production of acetic acid after the fermentation of ethanol, sugars, or acetic acid bacteria. Vinegar typically contains anywhere between 5 and 20% acetic acid by volume and is currently mainly used as a cooking ingredient, or in pickling. The mainstays of the category include white distilled, cider, wine, and malt have now been joined by balsamic, rice, rice wine, raspberry, pineapple, Chardonnay, flavored and seasoned vinegar and more.

Vinegar will slowly lose its concentration of acidity over time. The vinegar will absorb water from the air diluting its concentration of acetic acid. And over time, the acetic acid will break down or decompose leaving behind a less acidic product. Distilled white vinegar is perfect for marinades, sauces, and dressings, but because it will decompose and dilute itself, try to use fresh distilled white vinegar when pickling or making dressings, but those older gallon jugs of vinegar will work great as a cleaning solution. Distilled white vinegar is great to use to clean your house or add it to your laundry as a fabric softener! It is actually just as good at killing germs as bleach, according to a Colorado State University publication. Once 5% distilled white vinegar is heated to at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit it is as effective as bleach in treating Listeria Monocytogenes, E. Coli, and Salmonella.

You can also use distilled white vinegar as a fruit and vegetable wash! Try using 2 tablespoons of the vinegar to 1 pint of water. It is also great at removing lime stains from bathroom faucets. Every few weeks or so, I use distilled white vinegar to run through my essential oils diffuser. It acts as a cleaner and keeps my diffuser running great.

Its shelf life is almost indefinite. Its acidic nature makes it self-preserving. To keep distilled white vinegar virtually forever, store in a cool dry area and keep a lid on tight.

2. Cornstarch

Cornstarch is powder made from the starch in corn kernels and generally used as a thickener for sauces and gravies in the kitchen. But it can be used for so much more, including cleaning and medicinal uses.

Cornstarch can be used to help cool off a sunburn. A simple paste of cornstarch and water spread over a sunburn soothes inflamed skin. This paste on insect bites and stings. Use aloe vera gel instead of water to ramp up the soothing properties as well! Cornstarch will also help prevent chaffing. If you have sensitive skin and a tendency to chafe, simply dust a little cornstarch on your problem areas before dressing.

If you have a creaky spot in your hardwood flooring, try adding a sprinkle of cornstarch and then sweep. The superfine starch works itself into nooks and crannies, effectively stopping the noise. It is also great at cleaning up greasy carpet stains! If you have a greasy mess on your carpet, simply pour cornstarch over it and let it sit for 20 minutes. The cornstarch absorbs the grease and freshens the carpet. Just vacuum the powder away! Cornstarch is also an amazing window cleaner. Since its a super fine to the touch but naturally abrasive at a microscopic level, adding a tablespoon of cornstarch to your favorite window cleaner will make cleaning easier and leave a streak-free shine.

While cornstarch can go bad, that can only happen in very specific circumstances, so if you are willing to make sure it is stored properly, it will be perfectly fine for years. If the powder gets wet, it will go bad. It’s important to store cornstarch in a cool and dry place. If cornstarch cannot absorb water, it will stay good indefinitely.

3. Distilled Liquor

Distilled liquor is also not only useful by can be stored forever. It also has the added benefit of being a bartering tool, which comes in handy in the event of a societal collapse. The base liquors, such as brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey, are typically the most stable distilled spirits because they do not contain any sugars. The more sugar a liquor has, the faster it will deteriorate. Bottles of base liquors can be stored for a very long time opened, although they may lose some flavor, they will keep indefinitely if they remain unopened.

When it comes to prepping, it is always important to keep in mind your trading and bartering power. Distilled liquors can definitely give you an edge when it comes to bartering. Other than perhaps ammunition, there may not be a better item to store to ensure you’ve got something others will want than some extra liquor. Whiskey is a great option to store for bartering while vodka can be used as in first aid.

Liquor can be used not only as a way of keeping wounds free from infection but for keeping nausea at bay and or for making dental work more bearable for the patient. Any liquor above 60% can be used as surgical alcohol and anything above 40% can be used to disinfect wounds for first aid purposes, not to mention medicinal tinctures.

4. Bouillon

Bouillon cubes generally contain enough salt to preserve them from spoilage, but the flavor (which, after all, is why you’re using them) may weaken, dull, and change over the years. But the bottom line is that they will last forever if they remain stored in a cool dry place! Bouillon cubes are used to add flavor to foods and can be invaluable in your prepping supply. Since they contain a high salt content, they will basically preserve themselves.

5. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup will also last forever if the bottle remains unopened and its kept in the cold. If you open the maple syrup, it can get moldy and its incredibly unpleasant to eat at that point. It will only last about a year after you crack open that bottle, so if you want to save it, put it in your freezer. It will retain its flavor best and keep indefinitely when it’s stored in the freezer and don’t worry, it won’t freeze solid.


When planning and storing food for emergencies or survival situations, we have long advocated incorporating foods that will last forever (or at least longer than you will). By doing so,

Wondering how come we talk about tallow on a Tools Day? You’ll think the same these 28 reasons later.

Personally, I think that tallow is one of those things capable of making your stomach spin like a washing machine. I really don’t have anything against the stuff – Hell, I myself have used that stuff more than a few times to cook or to make emergency candles, but the very sight of it…sometimes… I’m only human, after all.

Now, personal feeling aside, tallow or grease obtained by cooking suet, which is the fatty tissue surrounding the organs of various animals, is one of those survival items that shouldn’t be missing from your household emergency kit. Yes, I know that you live in the big city and there’s at least one corner store around from where you can buy cooking oil, but tallow can do more than that. I usually keep around one or two kilos of pork tallow around the house in case, you know, I need to make stuff.

In remembering just how nasty the kitchen smelled when my grandma was preparing tallow, I thought it might be a good idea to share with you a couple of useful hints on how to use this stuff. So, without further ado, here are 28 ways you can use tallow in a shit hits the fan situation.

1. Cooking

Obviously, the first item on the list had to be a no-brainer. Yup, as disgusting as that stuff looks, it’s apparently better for deep frying than regular sunflower seed oil. I mostly use it to fry bacon or to prepare goulash in my cast-iron camping pot. It also goes well with other dishes like fish or pork chops. A friend of mine uses tallow to can pork meat. The process is more or less similar to brining. However, in this case, the salter water’s replaced by melted tallow. Give it a go and see how you like it.

2. Enhanced sharpening

In the olden days, blacksmiths used to dip the newly-forged blades into pork or even dog tallow in order to hasten the sharpening process. Moreover, knife blades coated in a very thin layer of pork tallow stay sharper longer compared to those that are, let’s say, dry-sharpened.

3. Gun maintenance

Long before gun grease became available, soldiers would oil their weapon with tallow. By the way, it’s tallow that led to the Indian revolt, which drove the East India Company out of the country. During the British dominion, Indian regulars were conscripted in order to serve Her Majesty’s interests in the Indies. Apparently, one of the many reasons that led to the Indians turning against the English was the new Lee Enfield rifle. The new version of the gun used tallow-coated cartridge, which was designed to protect the barrel. Since Indians abhor pork, they refused to handle the new rifles, which ultimately led to the 1857 Rebellion.

4. Bacteria buster

Tallow has strong anti-bacterial properties. In fact, our ancestors used this stuff in order to treat candida and yeast infections.

5. Solder away, soldier!

All out of flux for your soldering project? Not a problem. Dip the hot end of your soldering iron in tallow, and carry on.

6. Skin care

Yes, I know the idea of rubbing tallow on your skin seems out of a Hannibal Lecter movie or something, but it actually works. Sure, you won’t come off smelling like the proverbial rose garden, but at least your skin will be silky smooth.

7. Keeping away foul body odor

Now that summer’s around the bend; you will need something cheap and efficient at keeping that nasty armpit smell at bay. Sure, you can waste away that hard-earned cash on expensive beauty products, or you can try this simple recipe – melt some tallow and mix with one tablespoon of baking soda. Allow that stuff to harden and profit. I personally like to apply a fine layer after getting out of the shower. To prevent your armpits from smelling like a cooking lady’s kitchen, use a bit of scented oil.

8. Prevents diaper rash

If you ever run out of talcum powder after wiping your toddler’s behind, rub a little bit of tallow.  It really works wonders on diaper rashes.

9. Putting some meat on your pets’ bones

Nowadays, pet food is as deficient in nutrients just like human food. If your pet needs to gain a little bit of weight, mixt its favorite wet food with tallow.

10. Great for a good night’s sleep

Having problems summoning the Sandman? Maybe it’s because your brain doesn’t have enough fats and amino acids to kickstart the so-called restorative sleep. How to fix this? Swallow a tablespoon of tallow each day. Yes, I know it sounds odd, but it really works (cured me of insomnia).

11. Neutralizes venom from insect bits

If you got stung by a wasp, hornet or bee, rub a little bit of tallow on the sting site. The fat will draw out and neutralize the venom.

12. Hemorrhoids away!

Well, hemorrhoids are a pain in the ass, indeed. What’s worse is that no matter what cream you use, it will take a while for them to subside. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you can replace your regular antibiotic cream with tallow. Yes, I know that rubbing grease in the spot where the sun doesn’t shine might come off like the intro of a really bad adult flick, but, hey, at least you can now sit on your tushy without that excruciating pain.

13. Lice slayer!

Head lice, because I don’t even want to consider the other variety, are damned hard to get rid of. Well, according to this old-world remedy, a lice-laden scalp can be cured using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and tallow.

14. Health super boost

Research has shown that patients who consume tallow on a regular basis are less likely to experience a heart condition compared to those who would rather stay away from that stuff. Furthermore, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, tallow plays a key role in preventing vascular dementia such as Alzheimer and some forms of blood cancer.

15. Making screwing fun again

No, not that kind of screwing (I don’t even think that stuff can be used for bouncy-bouncy). If a screw is moving too slow or not at all, try using a little bit of grease on the tip. By the way, you can also use a 50-50 tallow and cider mixture to remove rust from screws, bolts, nails, and even tools.

16. Great for lubricating moving parts

All out of WD 40? No problem. Just use a little bit of grease to get those moving parts, well, moving again, I guess.

17. Rocking the gentleman look

Did you know that tallow was used to make mustache wax? Yup, if you have a great pair of whiskers, use a little bit of pork tallow to make them shine. That stuff can also replace hair gel, although I wouldn’t advise it on account of the smell.

18. Doubles as shaving cream

If the lumberjack style not your kind of gig, you can always use a bit of tallow should you ever run out of shaving cream? That thing will moisten the hair strand, making shaving a lot easier. I know that the best the fresh-out-of-the-shower shave is the best practice, but I personally prefer this method when I’m on the run and don’t have the time to step into the shower.

19. Boost the efficiency of breast milk

According to researchers, tallow increases the number of nutrients normally found inside the mother’s milk. Baby breastfed will tallow-infused milk are better protected against allergies and infantile diseases. Furthermore, since tallow has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring properties, it’s recommended for stretching marks aka the tell-tale signs of pregnancy.

20. Keep darkness at bay

Every problem in this world can be solved with a little illumination. In case you run out of emergency candles, lamp oil or tac light batteries, you can make 6-hour candles using tallow. Check out my article on how to make emergency candles from bacon. The principle’s the same.

21. Washy-washy

You know the saying: cleanliness is next to godliness. However, that may be a bit difficult if you run out of soap. Not to worry – tallow has been used for centuries in home soapmaking. Melt, boil, add some essential oils place in molds, allow to harden, and wash.

22. Leather care

Nice leather shoes! It would be a shame if something would happen to them. Well, nothing bad is going to happen to your leather shoes, jacket or pants if you rub some tallow on them. Apart from the fact that fat rejuvenates tanning products, it also adds a weatherproof layer.

23. Say buh-bye to cooking oil

If you ever get tired of using olive, sunflower or palm tree oil for cooking, you can always replace with tallow. Moreover, this stuff’s so good, that it will give your favorite pastries an entirely different taste.

24. Eco-friendly cars FTW!

It’s possible to make your vehicle even more eco-friendly by replacing the regular motor oil with a special tallow mixture. Motor oils made from tallow are biodegradable and boasts the same performances as the regular variety.

25. No more allergies

The only thing I hate about spring is that white tree fuzz which makes me sneeze like there’s no tomorrow. I can’t say if it’s an allergy or simply the fact that my body doesn’t like fuzz, but in any case, I found out that tallow really helps. I have the same problem, put a little tallow inside each nostril before leaving the house. The fact will act as a filter and barrier. You’re welcome!

26. No more balding or brittle nails

There comes a time in a man’s life when he needs to swap the comb for a wet towel. Well, eventually, all those gorgeous locks of yours are going to fade away, but not right now. Now, if you have a similar issue, you should definitely consider applying a thin layer of tallow. You should do this after stepping out of the shower. The nutrients inside the tallow will stimulate hair growth. It also works wonders on brittle nails.

27. Better than butter

Although butter’s better than margarine, the docs recommend using tallow instead of regular butter. Yeah, I wouldn’t try to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with that stuff, but it tastes great when combined with smoked foods or dairy products. Careful with that stuff because it packs more fat than butter and margarine combined.

28. No more poison ivy itching

If you went a couple of rounds with poison ivy, rub some tallow over the area to get rid of the itching.

 

Well, that’s about it on ingenious ways to use tallow around the house and in a shit hits the fan situation. What’s your take on tallow? Hit the comments section and let me know.


Other Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
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The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Tallow is one of those survival items that shouldn’t be missing from your household emergency kit.

When pounded into a tree, a stream of fresh water flows from the tube. The technique used in the movie would only work in early spring or late winter, when the watery sap runs high in the trees. The taps that are placed in maple trees are placed into drilled holes and the resultant fluid is sap, not water.

Sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis), birches (the genus Betula), and hickories (the genus Carya) can also be tapped for drinking water that can be boiled for syrup. Black birch sap is particularly delicious.

What happens if you find yourself lost in the woods with no potable water?

The clock starts ticking, that’s what. You can only live three days without water, after that you’re buzzard food. Tick. Tock.

Related – Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

Finding emergency drinking water should be your top priority in that situation, but sometimes you’re not lucky enough to have any groundwater nearby. So, what then?

One primitive survival tactic that you can implement quickly using only the most basic of survival tools is harvesting emergency drinking water from the very trees all around you.

The best part is you don’t have to filter or boil this water, the tree does all the cleaning for you. And this isn’t just regular water either, it contains all the good stuff the tree is using to feed itself – minor nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and sugars.

Related – This book will teach you everything from the soil up

This is a pretty nice video from Rob at Sigma 3 Survival school that illustrates how to fairly easily get water from a tree. This could come in handy in a survival situation but according to the narrator is only effective 2 times a year (early spring and late winter) and works better with certain trees.

Rob also demonstrates how to use a root from the tree to support your canteen while the water flows into it.

WARNING

If your tree is leaking water from the trunk,, there is a good chance your tree has bacterial disease called wetwood, also known as slime flux. This disease enters and seeps out of the trees in a liquid form that looks like water. It’s not usually a little liquid either.

Affected trees may leak copious amounts of liquid out of their trunks or branches, discoloring the bark and dripping onto the surrounding ground. Bacterial wetwood occurs as after bacteria infect the wood of a tree. Bacteria can enter the wood through any wound in a trunk, limb or root.


Here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

The technique used in the movie would only work in early spring or late winter, when the watery sap runs high in the trees.

Probably the best thing about an off-grid home is that it kinda forces you to get back on speaking terms with things you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I was I going to split logs, stack manure or making candles out of bacon, I would’ve probably told him that his mom’s a very nice person (not!).

Anyway, ever since I bought this dingy, I learned that the things I once considered as being nasty or beneath me are actually very entertaining and, dare I say, therapeutic to some degree. Of course, shoveling manure can hardly be considered fun, but spending an afternoon splitting logs for a cozy campfire or late-night BBQ is awesome.

On the latter activity – splitting logs and making fires is fun. Cleaning up afterward is not. The only thing that kept me from doing this all day was sawdust. It gets everywhere – I found that stuff inside my boots, my pants, even my skivvies for God’s sake. And no matter how hard you broom or power wash the place, you will still find sawdust piles.

Okay, so cleaning sawdust is not entertaining, but figuring out what to do with that stuff after gathering it, well…still not fun enough for me. I mean, what in Hell’s name can you do with a handful of wood chippings and dust apart from taking it to the thrash? That’s when it hit me.

I remember watching this outdoor cooking show featuring this guy who had the same problem with sawdust. The only difference between us is that he figured out a way to reuse it. His clever workaround was reusing the stuff to cure and smoke meat. Neat, isn’t it? Well, long story made short, I hopped on the Internet and searched for ways to reuse that stuff around the house. And, wouldn’t you know, there is indeed life after death, at least for sawdust. So, without further ado, here are X creative recycle and reuse wood dust.

Making a campfire

Remember about the tinder box? Well, because it can get so lonely for that char cloth of yours, here’s one more thing you can add – fine sawdust. Since this stuff’s the byproduct of woodworking, it’s safe to assume that it can be used to start a fire. However, since sawdust’s very, well, dry, it will need something else to sustain a flame.

On a prepping forum, someone suggested that you can make a briquette out of a bar of wax and a handful of sawdust. It’s very easy – melt the wax in a small pan and add the wood shavings. Stir and allow the mixture to harden. After that, cut it into tinder box-size pieces and profit.

Weed-whacker

A gardener has but four sworn enemies: moles, bad weather, moles, insects, and weeds. Moles can be kept away by sprinkling a bit of wood ash at the base of the plant, while insects go nuts around coffee grounds. There’s nothing you can do about bad weather, though (you can try a rain dance if that makes you feel a little better). But weeds can be dealt with by using sawdust. After planting your veggies, place a thin layer of sawdust on top.

Veggies don’t mind wood chippings; weeds, on the other hand, won’t go near that stuff. I don’t know the science behind this claim, but I’ve read somewhere that it has something to do with inhibiting the weed’s natural parasitic properties. Tried it a couple of times in my garden, and it works like a charm. You can also use some of this stuff in those cracks that appear on your driveway.

Pulling a fast one on a drunk friend

I don’t think there’s anything more disturbing than waking up butt-naked outside during the winter. If you want to pull a fast one on someone’s who got sauced at your party, get some sawdust, spray-paint it white, lay it outside, and carry your bud then. Well, this may not be your typical SHTF use, but at least it makes for a great YouTube video.

Dealing with oil spills

Probably most of you have attempted at least once to fix your car in the garage. The operations might have gone well, but the same thing cannot be said about the floor, which is covered in motor oil. Power washing the floor won’t work. Trust me. I think I’ve used up more water than two hospitals trying to clean one tiny spill.

To quickly get rid of that thing, sprinkle some sawdust over it. In a couple of minutes, the sawdust will absorb all the oil. All you need to do now would be to use the power blower to get rid of the oil-soaked sawdust pile.

Make neat garden or forest paths

If your home’s next to the forest, there’s bound to be a place of interest nearby – a creek, rock with peculiar features, an old tree, perhaps even a cave. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice path leading to it, instead of relying each time on markings or memory? Well, you can do that using sawdust, sand, and a couple of river rocks. Start by choosing you rocks – they should be flat and smooth because you wouldn’t want to hurt your feet now, would you?

The path should be at least one-and-a-half meters in width which mean that you’ll need to use at least three small and flat rock or two big ones. Figure out just how many rocks the path will require before heading off into the forest to scavenge for materials.

Use a hoe or an implement with a flat head to trace the path from your garden to the place of interest. After that, add a think layer of sand and a layer of sawdust on top – this combo will allow you to them the river rocks easier. Finally, arrange the rocks, place some tiki torches on either side of the path for mood, and you’re done.

Extra fertilization!

Plants don’t have enough yum-yum to grow? Try a little bit of sawdust. Here’s what I like to do about pretentious veggies – in a plastic bucket, put one full shovel of manure, two shovels of organic compost, and half a kilogram of sawdust. Add some water and mix with something (I usually end up putting some surgical gloves on because it’s easier to mix that stuff with your hands). When you’re done, pour that mix over your veggies of choice and wait to see what happens.

Sawdust’s also a great and eco-friendly way to combat soil erosion. Some gardeners even use it for mulching.  Word of warning though – if you plan on using sawdust in conjunction with manure and compost, avoid walnut trees. Apparently, walnut wood contains a substance that kills plants without discrimination.

For when nature calls

Well, these are shitty times, which means that we always have to ensure that there’s at least one functional toilet around the house. This is not a problem for those of use leaving close to the woods, but what do you in case your city toilet gets clogged, or the water pump fails? Sure, you could go to a friend or neighbor’s house for number 2 or number one, but that’s hardly what I would call a solution. In the immortal words of Bear Grylls: adapt, overcome, and…. make a portable shitter.

It’s very easy to build one. Best of all, you’ll only need things that are usually found around the house. Here’s how to do it. Take a big plastic bucket and saw the top off. Get a second smaller bucket, and place it inside the bigger one. Fill the smaller one with a mixture of sawdust, kitty litter, and perhaps something to wish away the nasty smell. Now, go around the house and search for an old toilet seat and a plastic ring.

The latter should be thin enough to slide in the narrow gap created by the two buckets. Use some epoxy to glue the plastic ring to the bottom part of the toilet seat. Congrats! You’ve just built your first portable emergency toilet. When the potty fills up, take out the second bucket, discard in the compost pile or heavy-duty garbage bag, and refill with sawdust and kitty litter.

Using as bedding for your cats and dogs

If you’re unable to get to the pet shop, you can use sawdust to fill your cat’s\dog’s poopy box. It may not be pretty, and your cat will surely have the murderous gaze in its easy, but at least your pet will not go number two on the carpet or bathroom tiles.

Provides extra traction

As you know, many counties made winter traction kits mandatory for drivers. A good thing too, because getting snowbound isn’t exactly relaxing. If you want to add more kick to your winter traction solution, try this trick. In a bag or bucket mixt kitty litter, sand, rock salt, and sawdust. It’s a great combo – litter, sawdust, and sand will provide you with extra traction while salt makes the snow melt.

Patching holes in woodwork

I was more than thrilled about my new home away from home. Mostly because I managed to convince the former owner to go way below the initial price. Well, long story short, there was a reason why the guy did this – the entire living room carpentry was full of holes as if someone had been using the walls for target practice or something. Obviously, the thing cost me a pretty penny, and I didn’t have much left to repair the walls. However, a fellow prepper told me that I could use sawdust to temporary fill the holes.

Yes, I know it was a piss-poor job, but at least the living room didn’t look like Swiss cheese. If you’re having the same problem, here’s what you will need to do – put a small amount of epoxy inside each hole. After that, take a handful of sawdust and fill the hole. Allow the glue to harden. Finally, give that wall a fresh coat of paint and, voila, no more holes.

Grow your own mushrooms

Remember my article about using coffee grounds to grow mushrooms? Well, there’s another way to grow a yummy-yummy batch of shrooms. The trick is to use Eastern Red Cedar sawdust. This might come as good news for people who have no love for coffee. Or for those who prefer coffee capsules over the regular variety.

The procedure’s more or less the same as in the case of using coffee leftovers. Get a plastic bucket, put some fresh dirt into it, add a handful of sawdust, add some stuff from your compost pile, mix, add some mushroom seeds, and store into a damp place. You’re welcome!

Well, that’s it on how to recycle sawdust. Do you have other ways in mind? Hit the comments section and share your thoughts with the rest of the community.

Probably the best thing about an off-grid home is that it kinda forces you to get back on speaking terms with things you wouldn’t do for all the money in

When garden composting caught on in the early 1980s, I thought back to my mother sending us kids to the garden every night to bury the day’s apple cores, carrot tops and hickory nut shells. It seemed Mom was ahead of her time.

Or was she?

I’ve been reading in the “1881 Household Cyclopedia of General Information” about enriching soil. In the days before chemical fertilizers, making compost was vital for a successful harvest. Only a lazy farmer was not continually building up his soil. And to neglect the earth meant to have poor quality vegetables and crops.

“The best natural soils,” according to the book, “are those where the materials have been derived from the breaking up and decomposition, not of one stratum or layer, but of many divided minutely by air and water, and minutely blended together: and in improving soils by artificial additions, the farmer cannot do better than imitate the processes of nature.”

Although the 813-page book was published in 1881, it contains information from farming practices in use before the Civil War, according to the authors. My mother did not start gardening until the 1950s, but instinctively knew the old-time methods were best.

Linda’s Home Garden

Because we ate so much wild game when I was young, we had, or course, lots of animal innards, bones, skin and other parts to get rid of all winter. When the garden was too frozen for burying scraps, we chiseled up as much soil as possible and covered the stuff with snow until springtime. It grossed me out as a kid to put animal parts in the garden, but Mom had it right – we were imitating nature.

The book applies the term manure indiscriminately to all substances known from experience either to enrich the soil or contribute in any other way to render it more favorable to vegetation. Healing the soil is akin to healing a body.

“In an agricultural point of view, the subject of manures is of the first magnitude,” the book states. “To correct what is hurtful to vegetation in the different soils, and to restore what is lost by exhausting crops, are operations in agriculture which may be compared to the curing of diseases in the animal body, or supplying the waste occasioned by labor.”

Like other household hint books on the era, the Cyclopedia is compiled of 10,000 submissions by farmers and home gardeners on topics from agriculture to wine. The book states the following conclusions may be regarded as scientifically sustained, as well as confirmed by practical experience:

 

Organic Manures

1. Fresh human urine yields nitrogen in greater abundance to vegetation than any other material of easy acquisition. The urine of animals is valuable for the same purpose, but not equally so. Still, none should not be wasted.

2. The mixed excrements of man and animals yield (if carefully preserved from further decomposition), not only nitrogen, but other invaluable saline and earthy matters that have been already extracted in food from the soil.

3. Animal substances such as urine, flesh, and blood decompose rapidly and are fitted to operate immediately and powerfully on vegetation.

4. Dry animal substances (horn, hair, or woollen rags) decompose slowly and (weight for weight) contain a greater quantity of organized as well as unorganized materials. Their influence may be manifested for several seasons.

5. Finely crushed bones, acting like horns in so far as their animal matter is concerned, may ameliorate the soil by their earthy matter for a long period (even if the jelly they contain has been injuriously removed by the size maker), permanently improving the condition and adding to the natural capabilities of the land.

Using animal manures

“Dung is the mother of good crops; and it appears that no plan can be devised by which a large quantity can be so easily and cheaply gathered, or by which straw can be so effectually rotted and rendered beneficial to the occupier of a clay-land farm, as the soiling (feeding) of grass in the summer season.”

Any farmer can tell you that animal manure varies in potency by the animals’ diet. The book recommends not letting early springtime weeds go to waste as they pop up in fencerows or alongside buildings. Cut those nutritious weeds and feed them to your animals. You’ll be rewarded for your effort.

“In a word, the dung of animals fed upon green clover, may justly be reckoned the richest of all dung. It may, from the circumstances of the season, be rapidly prepared, and may be applied to the ground at a very early period, much earlier than any other sort of dung can be used with advantage.”

Also, the practice of soiling or feeding horses or cattle in the barn or farmyard is eminently calculated to increase the quantity and quantity of manure on every farm. In the 1800s, feeding horses in the summer months on green clover and ryegrass was a common practice in grain districts where farm labor was available.

 

“The utility of the practice does not need the support of argument, for it is not only economical to the farmer, but saves much fatigue to the poor animal; besides, the quantity of dung thereby gathered is considerable.”

Positioning and management of the pile is also important to obtain the best quality compost in shortest amount of time.

“When driven out of the fold-yard, the dung should be laid up in a regular heap or pile not exceeding six quarters, or four feet and a half in height; and care should be taken not to put either horse or cart upon it, which is easily avoided by backing the cart to the pile, and laying the dung compactly together with a grape or fork.”

While you may not be using a horse to cart the manure, the message is the same – don’t smash the pile. Also cover the outer edges of the manure pile with soil to keep in the moisture and prevent the sun and wind from depleting nutrients. A small quantity of earth scattered on the top is also useful.

“Dung, when managed in this manner, generally ferments very rapidly; but if it is discovered to be in a backward state, a complete turn over, about the 1st of May, when the weather becomes warm, will quicken the process; and the better it is shaken asunder, the sooner will the object in view be accomplished.”

When starting the pile, select a secluded spot not exposed to wind or where water pools. The pile should also be downhill from and at least 100 feet from water sources to keep from polluting your freshwater.

To save trouble later, start the pile in the garden or field where it is to be used. It is also most convenient to have the manure pile near the homestead.

“There it is always under the farmer’s eye, and a greater quantity can be moved in a shorter time than when the situation is more distant. Besides, in wet weather (and this is generally the time chosen for such an operation), the roads are not only cut up by driving to a distance, but the field on which the heap is made may be poached and injured considerably.”


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The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

When garden composting caught on in the early 1980s, I thought back to my mother sending us kids to the garden every night to bury the day’s apple cores, carrot