Your EDC gear that you carry daily can be used in millions of ways. It could be something as trivial as having a light to shine into a dark room for greater visibility or as serious as a weapon to defend your life or the lives of others. We carry and advocate EDC (Every Day Carry) to place tools on your body or within ready access that can make whatever situation you are faced with easier, safer or more survivable.

Some of the items I carry on my person (practically) everywhere I go are my concealed carry weapon, a folding knife, multi-tool, flashlight and bandana. Naturally, I have the more common items like a cell phone and a watch, usually some paracord and a Nalgene bottle of water in my bag but I don’t carry much more than that. This allows me what I consider are the basics that can be used in situations to provide me with an advantage.

For additional capacity I have my Get Home Bag or Bug Out Bag in my vehicle that has pretty much anything I would need in all but the most dire circumstances to live for 72 hours or more. I don’t have that on my person, but it is in my vehicle so when I am venturing away from home, those additional supplies are with me as well.

But there are supplies and gear I can expect to use that fall outside of the ideal mission for a Bug Out Bag. I don’t really want to raid that bag anytime I need something because I will then have to remember to put it back. Additionally, I don’t want to overload my bug out bag with gear I might not be able to use effectively in a bug out scenario. I don’t want unnecessary weight that could slow me down. Enter the vehicle EDC gear concept.

What is vehicle EDC gear?

Your vehicle EDC gear are supplies that can easily be stored in your vehicle that can give you advantages in situations where survival or simple convenience require them. Just like with my personal EDC gear that I have on my person, I might not use any of my vehicle EDC gear on a day-to-day basis. I might not use it for months or years, but it is there if I need it.

Your vehicle EDC gear extends your regular EDC gear but it doesn’t take the place of your Bug Out Bag.

Some of your vehicle EDC items can be stored in smaller pouches like this one.

Important factors to consider when choosing your vehicle EDC gear list?

Every person is different. We have different vehicles, different resources, and different commutes, live in different climates and have different priorities and concerns. The items I am listing for my vehicle EDC are ones that I have chosen based upon what I can see myself possibly needing on any day where I live and commute daily. My list isn’t set in stone and has and will evolve over time. Your list might look different and that is perfectly fine. This exercise is simply looking at what items could augment your daily carry EDC and make life a little better if you encounter an emergency.

The amount of time you spend in your vehicle, the work you do, the vehicle’s mechanical condition and what you may be able to fix, if needed all play into consideration for this list.

What vehicle EDC gear should you consider?

So with all of that out-of-the-way and without needing a tractor-trailer to haul everything, what are some ideas for vehicle EDC gear that could help you?

Water

We never used to carry water in any of our vehicles until I got into Prepping. It wasn’t long after that my wife decided that she didn’t like the thought of being stranded in the car with small children in the heat of the summer. Water is possibly the easiest thing you can do to affect your survival situation no matter what you are faced with. You can either buy a case of water and keep it in the trunk or fill up some stainless steel water bottles and store them. The stainless steel will prevent the plastic leaching into the water when it gets really hot, but don’t forget about them when the temperatures drop down to freezing. I lost a perfectly good SIGG water bottle this past winter due to that and some of my gear had mildew damage for sitting in water for I don’t know how long.

Food

Not everyone carries a set of jumper cables anymore. Would you have some in an emergency?

This one might be up for debate. I know some people will say you should always have some spare food in your vehicle, but choosing the type of food is a little trickier because again you have to worry about it spoiling in the heat. Even if that isn’t an issue, you have to prepare it unless you buy something that requires no cooking. I have two mainstay emergency rations in my bug out bag, but I don’t have any spare food in my car. Would this be completely different if I was on a cross-country trip or commuted more than 10 miles to work? Yes, but as it stands right now I don’t.

Vehicle Maintenance/Misc.

Some of the items don’t apply to all vehicles and to all people. If you have zero mechanical skills for instance, there really isn’t any value in putting tools in your car is there? One could argue that maybe you should learn how to fix vehicles and I can see some value in that, but for me if my car broke down and I couldn’t see something very simple I could fix, I would start walking if there weren’t any other options. I wouldn’t be pulling the engine apart trying to see if I could fix some broken part with duct tape.

  • Jumper Cables – This should be a no-brainer. My kids have run the battery down in our car while my wife was inside shopping. She wasn’t in there long, but it doesn’t take long running the fan in the summer, lights on and radio blaring to kill a battery. She had to call me because she didn’t have any jumper cables. It would have taken all of two minutes to get her back on the road, but because nobody around her had any, or was offering to help she was temporarily stranded. Needless to say, she had jumper cables that night.
  • Duct Tape – Getting back to my point above, I don’t expect anyone is going to be fixing a flat tire or mending a broken axle with strong duct tape, but that stuff sure does come in handy. You probably don’t need an entire roll either, just wrap some around your water bottle for emergencies.
  • Fluids (as necessary) – Again, this is vehicle dependent. I don’t carry any fluids because my vehicle doesn’t go through fluids that I should worry about it. Some people have older vehicles that needed the occasional topping off of oil or coolant. If that is you, plan accordingly.
  • Flat Tire Tools – The simplest option is a good old can of fix a flat although sometimes that can cause more havoc when you take your tire into the shop and they refuse to fix the Tire Pressure sensor. The jack and wrench that come with your car are the bare essentials. They will get the job done, but not as easily as a beefier jack and lug wrench. Make sure the spare is full when you top off the other tires too. You don’t want to get a flat tire only to find out your spare is empty.
  • Spare Gloves – A good pair of mechanix gloves or even simple leather work gloves will come in handy if you have to get your hands dirty. It is much easier to put on a set of gloves than to get grease off your hands.
  • Tarp – Another multi-use item. A tarp can provide protection from rain. You can lay on it instead of muddy or frozen ground if you have to get under the car or it can protect the inside of your car from getting dirty.
  • Gas Can (empty) – Again, this is one that I don’t personally have only because I am pretty much always filling up when my tank gets to half-full. I could regret this one day, but for me it isn’t needed at this time. If you do get one of the newer style (which are practically worthless, thank you California) be sure to get a Gas spout and modify the can so it actually pours.
  • Basic Tools – Back to the initial point. Tools are great if you know what you are doing. If you can’t find the hood release, or recognize the big parts under the hood, this probably won’t do you any good.
  • Demolition Hammer – This might be a luxury item but if you ever need to beat the ever-loving crap out of something or just hammer some tent pegs in, a big hammer will come in handy. Doesn’t take up too much space either.

A good multi tool has hundreds of uses.

Survival/Safety

  • Multi-tool – The multi-tool goes in the duct tape category. Actually, for most people, this might be the only tool that you need. No, it won’t allow you to remove the water pump, but it can take on a myriad of smaller tasks.
  • Spare Magazines – No, I don’t mean People Magazine or the latest Oprah. In addition to my concealed carry weapon, I have a weapon in my car. It is my EDC backup. Usually, there are a few more on long trips, but I always have spare magazines for each weapon ready to go.
  • Seat Belt Cutter/Glass punch – The likelihood that you are going to be involved in an accident that requires you to cut your seat belt or shatter your window to escape is remote, but having something like the resqme car escape tool is cheap and provides some extra peace of mind.
  • Rope – I have some general use Polly rope if I ever need to tie something down to the roof rack. Paracord is a suitable alternative too and takes up a lot less room.

First Aid

Most of the time you will need a first aid kit in your car it is going to be for either headaches or minor boo-boos. You likely won’t need the Elite First Aid fully stocked medic bag unless you drive up to a war zone or horrific accident and have the skills and training to know what to do. However, a good first aid kit gives me peace of mind. I don’t plan on surgery, but I do have some celox quick clot, some blood stoppers along with my own IFAK. If nothing else, I can help stop bleeding if I need to until help arrives. Then I’ll pop some aspirin and go back to my car.

A good handheld ham radio will work in disaster scenarios to communicate when traditional methods are out.

Communication/Navigation

Getting lost is half the journey, right? Well, if you have all the time in the world to kill and plenty of gas, maybe that sounds nice but I usually don’t go for joy rides. Have you ever been given the wrong directions on your GPS? We have. I have had Google Maps tell me to get off the highway at one exit, drive back to the previous exit and turn around again. Yes, like an idiot I followed it. GPS might cease to work, or due to some other reason, you can’t use it. I like to have backups.

  • Road Atlas – Rand McNally has simple and low-cost maps that you should have in your car. Throw it in the trunk for emergencies.
  • State Atlas – I also have a state atlas for my state that will help me get out of my neighborhood (figuratively speaking here) if the roads are blocked and I need alternate routes.
  • Cell Phone Charge cord – You should have a spare cell phone charger in your car at all times. These are usually less than $20, plug into a USB to cigarette lighter adapter and can keep your phone going.
  • Ham Radio w/Battery Charger – I have one of my Baofeng handheld radios in my car in case all else fails. This also has FM frequencies on it if I need to listen to local news/radio.

General Purpose

  • Pen/Pad
  • LED Flashlight
  • Headlamp – Superior to a flashlight in a lot of cases due to the hands free nature.
  • Light Stick
  • Spare Batteries
  • Lighter
  • Toilet Paper
  • Shop Towels
  • Trash bags

Weather Dependent

The weather where you live greatly affects this list so I am not going to get too specific. I think people who live in colder climates already know the importance of keeping some supplies just in case.

  • Cold Weather
    • Tire Chains – or all-weather tires
    • Wool Blanket –I like a wool blanket better than the space blankets although it is more expensive and takes up more space.
    • Tow Strap – I now have a 4X4 so I have a tow strap just in case I can pull someone out who has fallen into a ditch. Again, this doesn’t make sense for all vehicles.
    • Proper footwear
  • Hot Weather
    • More water, electrolyte solution
    • Hats to block sun

What to store your vehicle EDC gear in?

Now, what do you store all of this EDC gear in? If you are building your kit out I would suggest you compile everything first and then choose a suitable container or containers for holding this gear. Some gear makes sense to be kept with similar associated gear and the potential for use might dictate where you place it. For instance, you might have food and any cooking supplies in one container. The vehicle you have will obviously dictate where some of this goes. The general purpose items could go in a glove-box, center console or a molle visor attachment.

I have different gear spread over the vehicle, but the majority sits nicely in a plastic tote from Rubbermaid. It’s there if I ever need it and I am not surprised at how often my vehicle EDC gear has come in handy. Maybe some of these items could help you out.

Your turn! What do you keep in your car that I missed?

Your EDC gear that you carry daily can be used in millions of ways. It could be something as trivial as having a light to shine into a dark room

Pressure canning is, by its nature, done by those who wish to preserve an overabundance of fresh food for consumption at a later date, and as such is an activity routinely engaged in by many preppers. Of course, there are many other reasons people do their own pressure canning: environmental (only a thin metal lid to dispose of as the jar is reusable); nutritional (you know what’s in that jar); financial (saving energy by cooking several meals at once and by having convenience foods on hand).

However, those who are preparing for the dark days ahead don’t use their pressure canning to its fullest potential. They just don’t realize how important it is going to be to have variety in the diet, especially in a world where fresh and frozen foods will be lacking. 

Most people look at pressure canning as a means of preserving garden produce and maybe some meat or a few stews here and there. And for those reasons alone a pressure canner is a worthwhile investment. But there is so much more that can be done. So let’s take it to the next level. The Ball Blue Book of Canning (hereafter the “BBB”) should be found in every prepper’s library and will provide all the guidelines for canning the basics. It should be consulted for all matters related to food preparation and processing times. This article is focused more on preserving some of the foods you really want to have on hand, those that will make meals a little more delicious and boost morale in difficult times.

Vegetables

Most of what is in the BBB regarding vegetables is pretty straightforward and beyond jazzing them up with spices or peppers, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss, with two exceptions. The first is canning shredded zucchini. Most people prefer to simply freeze their shredded zucchini to use later in zucchini breads and cupcakes (a favorite around here) and soups. But we’re preparing for when we won’t have freezers. So every year we can a few jars of shredded zucchini so that we can make our treats. The zucchini simply gets shredded in the food processor, packed in jars, and processed per the BBB.

Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving should be found in every prepper’s library

The other exception is potatoes. Yes, potatoes are routinely canned so as to be able to make soups and mashed potatoes long after the fresh potatoes in the root cellar have run out. But in this case we’re talking about that other main food group in the American diet: the French fry. Even if the pressure canner was not used for anything else, it would be worthwhile (in this family, at least) to acquire one just to be able to have French fries when the grid goes down. These fries are so incredibly divine. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a taste. You’ll just have to trust me.

You’ll want a French fry cutter to make preparation a whole lot faster. Amazon sells them for about $15. (Use the larger blade—1/2”. The smaller blade is just too fine and the fries will kind of disintegrate. ) Buy a bag of large potatoes—not the super huge ones. The potatoes need to be scrubbed well, but as long as they are being used for fries, they don’t need to be peeled (soil can harbor the botulism spores, but deep-frying will kill the botulism, so no need to worry about peeling). Cut the potatoes into fries and follow instructions in the BBB, except instead of boiling potatoes for 10 minutes, only boil for three. Place the fries in wide mouth canning jars. Continue canning per instructions from your BBB.

When you wish to eat some fries (which will be often!), open the jar and put the fries into a strainer. Thoroughly rinse and drain to remove excess starch. Deep fry in peanut oil until they reach a golden brown.

Dry Beans

Dry beans aren’t a particularly exciting item to can, unless you get excited about saving money, time, and energy. Dry beans normally take hours to prepare for each meal. By utilizing a pressure canner, you prepare beans for several meals at once, saving money now and time down the road. So how is it done?

By utilizing a pressure canner, you prepare beans for several meals at once

Soak beans for several hours or overnight. Rinse and drain beans several times, then fill jars about halfway. This is the part that is a little tricky, and I can’t be more precise than “about halfway.” You see, the exact amount to put in the jar will vary due to several factors—the type of bean, for example black beans usually expand more than pinto beans; the age of the bean; and how dry the bean is.
After filling jars about halfway with beans, add salt (1/2 teaspoon per pint, 1 teaspoon per quart) and boiling water. Process per instructions in your BBB.

Meats

For those who haven’t ever ventured into the world of canning meats, but do have experience with canning fruits and vegetables, don’t be scared. Yes, you need to follow directions and be careful, just like for produce, but canning meats is so much faster and easier! All meats are canned exactly as outlined in the BBB; what I present here, however, are some ideas for preparing and packaging meats for other uses generally not discussed elsewhere. Having a variety of dishes in our menus will be critical to good morale in the coming crisis.

Beef

I can a good quantity of stew meat to be used as is in stews, but also to be shredded for use as taco filling, French dips, etc. Ground beef also gets browned and canned so that I can make soups and casseroles very quickly. Most people who are preppers and canners are already familiar with this. However, I know it will be very nice in the future to also be able to have a hamburger now and then. Obviously stew meat won’t work for this purpose, and neither will ground beef that hasn’t had a little extra preparation.

So this is what I do to have some hamburger patties. Form about one pound of ground beef into a log and roll it up in parchment paper that has been cut so that it is about an inch wider than the wide mouth jar being used for canning. Fold the parchment paper over the ends to help hold the hamburger log together. Put the hamburger log into the jar, making sure that you have one inch of head space. Process as per ground beef instructions in your BBB.

When you’re ready for some slider-sized burgers, run the jar under hot water for a minute or so to loosen the hamburger from the sides of the jar. Carefully slide the hamburger log out and remove the parchment paper. Slice the patties about ½” thick and fry them in a little butter or bacon grease for extra flavor. Serve with buns and all your favorite condiments.

Pork

Some pork is canned in chunks for later use in chili or to be shredded for taquito filling or super quick pulled pork sandwiches. Leftover ham from Christmas and Easter (we always get a large one for just this purpose) gets canned for adding to soups or fried rice.
I think bacon will be one of the most important morale boosters in the food department, so I can quite a bit. To can bacon strips, cut a piece of parchment paper about two inches longer than the height of a wide mouth pint jar. Lay the bacon strips (which you have cut into halves or thirds) side by side down the middle of the parchment, fold the parchment over the bacon ends, and tightly roll the bacon up as you go. You’ll need a few pieces of parchment, and you’ll want to overlap each additional parchment strip with the previous one to hold everything in place. Stop when the roll is large enough to fill the jar and place the roll in the jar. Process per BBB instructions for canning pork. When you wish to cook your bacon, you’ll need to run the jar under hot water to soften the fat and be able to remove the roll from the jar. Lightly brown the bacon and enjoy.

Can there be such a thing as too much BBQ after the grid goes down?

I also can bacon ends and pieces. These are typically sold in three-pound packages. There is usually quite a bit of fat, but there is also quite a lot of solid meat, and there are some pieces that look more like regular bacon. They all get canned separately. I use the bacon fat in some of my cooking, and the meat will become bacon bits for salads and baked potatoes. Some will say that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, bacon bits will be a bit of a ridiculous luxury. And I might have agreed a few years back, but for this one experience. A few years back we had a phenomenal crop of potatoes, and as such baked potatoes were a frequent dinner in our home. The kids were getting a little tired of them, so I decided to fry up a can of bacon bits to add to the spuds that night. I could not believe what a difference it made in the kids. They were so excited! Another lesson learned in avoiding flavor fatigue.

Chicken

This is probably what we can the most of in the meat department, mostly because I have one son who cannot have beef or pork. Home-canned chicken is perfect for making quick casseroles or adding to a summer salad for a main dish meal. And with a can of chicken on hand, it takes no time to get homemade chicken noodle soup ready when someone comes down with a cold.

Chicken bones. No, this isn’t being recommended as food for people, but chicken bones can be pressure canned (using directions for canning chicken meat) for feeding cats. Because the bones are hollow, after being pressure canned they can be easily mashed with a fork and fed to cats. Unfortunately, the chicken bones are too high in protein to be fed to dogs. (Too much protein can cause kidney damage in dogs.)

Convenience foods

Pressure canning is mostly about preserving the harvest, but it’s also just as much about making life easier. It’s what people have been doing for decades when purchasing processed foods at the grocery store. However, as more of us realize what kind of garbage is being added to commercially produced convenience foods, we’re opting to do more of our own. While we all enjoy freshly prepared meals, sometimes that just isn’t an option—the chief cook is sick, there’s been an emergency, or labors that day were needed elsewhere.

Keeping a ready supply of stew, chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce on hand for just such situations is a great way to reduce stress and be prepared at the same time.

Having some home canned convenience foods can really save the day. Keeping a ready supply of stew, chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce on hand for just such situations is a great way to reduce stress and be prepared at the same time. Because every family will have their own favorite recipes, I’m not providing any here. Most any recipe can be adapted for canning; one just needs to always remember to process for the time stated for the ingredient that needs the most time and highest pressure.

Traditional favorites for convenience foods to can at home are stews, soups and chili. Bear in mind, however, that some items just don’t do as well in a pressure canner at home. I’m not sure what the difference is between commercial canning and home canning, but unlike their commercially canned counterparts, noodles and rice just seem to go to mush when canned at home. So in this house we always add those ingredients just before mealtime.

With dark days ahead, and days that could quite conceivably turn into years, why not invest in a pressure canner and start preserving your own (at significantly greater savings over purchasing commercial products)? With more and more food being sourced from who knows where and with increasing reports of unsavory individuals employed at food processing plants, why not take control for more of our own food needs? A pressure canner is going to cost $100-$300. But the peace of mind that comes from preparing your own food? Priceless.

Pressure canning is, by its nature, done by those who wish to preserve an overabundance of fresh food for consumption at a later date, and as such is an activity

Homesteading’s the fine art of getting your land legs while learning how to do most of the stuff on your own. It’s great to have your own slice of heaven by the sea or in the middle of a dark and twisted forest – I for one can vouch that, most of the time, it’s rather amusing to figure out how our ancestors did things like tending to the garden, raising farm animals, settling in for the winter, picking up fresh herbs from the garden or building simple stuff out back.

Still, as pleasure-laden, as homesteading may be or become, it’s rather a turnoff when you need to do all of the things or more when you’re sick. Even a simple cold or the flu can turn a grown man into a noodle, but imagine what happens when you become bound to your sickbed with no one around to take care of you and your house.

Yes, that may strike as being a little depressive, but, unfortunately, it can happen even to the best of us. I being struck down a couple of months ago by the stomach flu somehow wound up all alone at my hunting cabin. Wife couldn’t come up on account of the kids being sick too and no driver’s license, so I was kind of force to get ingenious about my homesteading.

Anyway, after careful considerations and some chicken soup, I came with this wonderful piece which details my journey from sickly couch-potato to a regular Paul Bunyan wannabee. Without further ado, here’s are my golden rules to successful homesteading while you’re sick.

  1. Stay in bed

Of course, my first golden rule had to be a no-brainer because of reasons. Just kidding – most people tend to underestimate the severity of their medical condition and decide to just brush it off. Don’t do that. If you’re feeling that your legs are turning into the noodle, get to bed, medicate, and sleep on it. Remember that you’re all alone out there, and if you happen to collapse while working the field or chopping wood, there’s no one around to pick you up or drive you to the hospital.

  1. Get in touch with emergency services

No matter if you’re a big city dweller or the king of your own hill or mountain, you’ve still got to figure out how to get in touch with the emergency services in case shit hits the fan. A while after I bought my hunting cabin, figuring out that I kind of get down with the flu when spring comes, I went to my local drug store and bought me a one-push emergency bracelet.

Surprisingly, the device has great coverage, even in places where there’s no phone signal. Don’t kid around with your health, especially if you decide to drop off the grid. If you can’t find an emergency bracelet, use an emergency service smartphone application like Emergency+ if you have adequate coverage. A portable distress beacon is always a great alternative, but it will need some tinkering before you can use it to alert the local emergency services.

  1. Keep an ample supply of chopped wood or fire-starting material

Golden rule number three – when you’re game, chop as much wood as you can because you won’t be able to do so when you’re sick. It would also be a good idea to keep a small wood stack as close to the home as possible to minimize exposure to the elements.

Yes, I know that’s a big no-no in the big book of prepping, but some rules are meant to be bent if in doing so increases your survival likelihood. If your stove is running on another kind of fuel, be sure to keeps some close by, but not too close to the heating device.

  1. Soup broth all around!

I know it’s kind of a cliché but hot chicken soup really help you’re sick or feeling down. Making some in your home is no big deal. Still, I would skip the cooking part and go buy some canned soup. Sure, nothing beats a home-cooked meal, but do keep in mind that you can’t prepare the broth that much in advance.  So, make sure you have enough in your pantry for whatever the case may be.

  1. No one should be without a checklist

Checklists are a marvelous way of keeping everything nice and tidy, especially if you’re the kind of person that has no love for neatness. If you find yourself alone and sick on your property, get yourself together and try to jot down a small to-do list for the next couple of days. That way, you will have ensured that you haven’t missed anything.

  1. Let someone know you’re there

You may be king of the mountain, but every king sometimes requires the aid of a royal advisor. In this case, you should let someone know where you are and, most importantly, how long you’re planning on staying. If you plan on moving there, get to know your neighbors and, if possible, ask someone to check up on you every couple of days to make sure that you’re safe and sound.

  1. Keeping your meds close

You don’t need to be sick in order to figure out that it’s really important for the meds to be within reach. I personally emptied an old wooden wardrobe and sort of turned it into a big med cabinet. Of course, you can do as you like when it comes to med storage. Don’t forget about the golden rule of med hoarding: painkillers first, anti-histamines second, and vitamin supplements last.

These are my golden rules of homesteading while I’m sick. As I’ve mentioned, all of this stuff are the results of my me-time at the hunting cabin. Sure, it may be possible that some steps might be a bit off, but, as I’ve said, this was a personal experience. Think something’s missing from the list? Then go ahead and hit the comments section and let me know what you think.

Even a simple cold or the flu can turn a grown man into a noodle, but imagine what happens when you become bound to your sickbed with no one around

Work Smarter Not Harder – In The Garden

Sometimes in the preparedness folds, we really get wrapped around axles. We have so much that we’re learning and trying to do, and we’re regularly doing it on a budget – which is just one more thing that circles around our heads and beats us up.

We can limit some of the pains of preparedness by changing how we look at things, but also how we do things. Gardening and larger-scale growing is routinely on our to-do list. It’s something that’s going to come as a shock for those who don’t practice ahead of time, no matter how many tricks get applied. However, we can save some time and stress on our bodies with a few low-cost and low-skill tricks and tools, and see increased yields. Bigger yields means lower dinner costs and potentially some increased food storage, letting us expand our preparedness in other ways.

Here are a handful of quickie, usually highly inexpensive – easy garden hacks to save time, money and labor. As you read them, don’t forget: Paper products are compostable.

Mulch

Mulch makes life easier.

Mulch can be straw or wood chips, lightly soiled animal litter, mown or whole leaves, the tips of branches we’re pruning, or shredded white paper. Shredded paper will settle into a mat that makes it tough for weeds, but “loose” mulch routinely does better with a weed suppression barrier down first. We can use newsprint, cardboard, or phone book pages as a weed suppressor and to keep small plants free of dirt kicked up by rain. We won’t get the same moisture-holding and soil aeration improvements, we will still have to weed some, especially if we already have beds that are weed prone, but it lessens our time spent sitting or crouched and bent over.

Mulch lessens the pains of gardening. We don’t weed as much, our plants do better, and we don’t have to water as much.

In some forms of mulch gardening, the mulch stays right there year-round. Some styles use a mulch that in hot, damp climates rots enough during the off-season and is tilled in that winter or early in spring. In others, we scoot aside just enough to drop seeds or transplants in during succession plantings, add amendments like cured manure or compost or pH-raising pine by raking it just into or over the surface, and add mulch more slowly.

Plastic bottles

olla-drip-irrigators-easiest-way-to-do-it-plantcaretoday_com

Sub-irrigated planters for buckets and storage tubs and conventional planters can be made using bottles for the tubes instead of aquarium or garden hoses or PVC.

We don’t store water or foods in milk jugs because they’re porous and can leach previous content out slowly, but they have their place among soda and juice bottles in the garden.

Various bottles can be used to make mini-greenhouses, cloches, scoops, and seed spreaders, as well as mouse and rat traps (2Ls can work for small squirrels and chipmunks, too, or slow them down enough for the garden terriers to get there). They’re great for vertical strawberry and herb and lettuce towers. We can use them to keep cord from tangling, and punch various holes to use for spreading amendments and treatments. Whack them in half, use sourdough starter and water or beer, and they catch horrific numbers of slugs.

For time savers and back savers, though, bottles really excel at helping us water.

Sub-irrigated planters for buckets and storage tubs and conventional planters can be made using bottles for the tubes instead of aquarium or garden hoses or PVC.

Whether we grow in raised beds or tilled rows, mulched beds or multi-layered hugel or lasagna beds, we can use bottles as a spin on olla irrigation, too. We can drill holes all over, as shown in the graphic from http://plantcaretoday.com/soda-bottle-drip-feeder-for-vegetables.html, bury it near our plants, and use a hose to fill it quickly. A similar version plants the bottle cap-down, with holes drilled in the cap and the sloping neck, and the inverted bottom cut entirely or with just enough remaining to make a flap. Those are even easier and faster to fill, with less aim needed.

The water from those will then sink out slowly, watering deep at the roots and watering our plants, not the weeds or walkways. Less water is lost to evaporation, and we don’t have to deal with timers or hose connections, or PVC to avoid standing out there forever to slowly sink in water. We pour it in, fill it up, and move to the next. If it’s really hot and dry, we might need to repeat, but it’s a low-tech, low-expense way to work faster than standing there with a hose or moving hoses back and forth so we can mow.

Maybe that means less time on our feet overall, or maybe that lets us progress to our weeding and suckering or the next round of planting.

Seeding time – The Dibble

A dibble is basically just something that makes a hole for us. Usually, it’s a somewhat shallow hole and it’s usually intended for seeds but we can work with that. There are two general types, rolling or boards, although with leek dibbles (which work with any transplant), you walk around with a rake or double-handle tool poking your holes. Boards are typically set up with dowels that will poke holes, or come as cutouts and we use something to poke holes to our desired depths. Rolling dibbles tend to be drum or wheel style.

drum-or-rolling-dibbler-and-dibble-board-www_ncat_org

There are two general types, rolling or boards.

Plans are out there for dibblers that can run from almost nothing if you salvage parts or make minis out of coffee cans and 12” PVC or make a single, double- or triple row dibble wheel out of bikes from Craigslist. Drum styles can cost as much as $100-200 to make at home if you’re inclined to go that route instead. Some of the really fancy board dibblers even get marked in colors so one board can be used for spacings from 1” to 6”.

In no-till schemes where you drag a pointed hoe to clear a spot for seeds, dibble wheels tend to be handy. In tall raised beds and window boxes or trays, a board dibbler may be more beneficial.

Using dibbles at whatever scale we choose to lets us quickly mark the space for seeds and transplants. Even if we have to go back with a post hole digger for some of those transplants, time spent upright instead of crouched tends to make for happier backs.


Seeding time – Furrowing rake

A furrowing rake is the simple DIY result of adding tight, relatively stiff hose or PVC to an ordinary hay or garden rake, and using it to drag lines along a prepared bed. It’s typically done so that the extensions are movable, letting us go as tight as the 1-1.5” gaps of the rake tines out to the full 1-2’ width of that rake.

We can get as complex as we like, adding marker lines to tell us how deep we’re aiming, or using multiple depths so we can plant cutting salad greens in the shallowest grooves and have deeper grooves for our peas. We can drag it both down and across a bed to create a grid, with seeds going at the cross points.

rake-with-hose-for-seed-spacing-1-themarthablog-dot-com

A furrowing rake is the simple DIY result of adding tight, relatively stiff hose or PVC to an ordinary hay or garden rake, and using it to drag lines along a prepared bed.

Taking a few minutes to prep some moveable rods or pipes and lay out our grid – while standing – limits how much measuring we do while we’re bent or crouched, saving time and pain with a very quick and low-cost trick.

Seeding tubes or pipes

Dibbles and furrowing aren’t the only way to limit how much time we spend crouched over during seeding time. Even a congestion-planting scheme that calls for under-seeding doesn’t have to be done from a stool or our knees.

There are a couple of tiers of standing seeders for small plot growers, from this really simple version http://knowledgeweighsnothing.com/how-to-build-a-back-saving-pvc-corn-bean-seed-planter/ to this more advanced DIY https://thinmac.wordpress.com/a-homemade-seed-planter/.

Those aren’t really necessary, though. All you really need is a pipe smooth enough for seeds to roll through cleanly and sturdy enough to stand up straight.

If you want to work with tiny seeds as well as larger ones, maybe you lay on skinnier aquarium tubing to attach to a tool handle or yardstick (with rubber bands, even), and make yourself a pasteboard, tin-can or paper funnel and tape it in place. Use the back-end of a teaspoon or the little measuring spoon from somebody’s aquarium chemicals to fish out 2-5 seeds at a time.knowledgeweighsnothing-com-pvc-seed-hack

Seed tapes and mats

If we’re not digging the various seeding tubes, we can also use our rainy days or blistering hot days to make seed tapes out of strips of paper, or larger seed mats out of unfolded paper napkins and paper towels like these http://annieskitchengarden.blogspot.com/2009/09/september-22-2009-home-made-seed-mat.html & http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2009/12/construct-your-own-seed-mats.html . We don’t have to mix up some kind of funky glue like with some of the DIY-ers show. The toothpick dab of white Elmer’s the first site shows is water-soluble and works just fine.

When we’re ready to plant, we just zoom along exposing our soil or following her mix, lay out our mats, and cover them again. We can work in fair-sized lengths that we roll up around an empty tube and then just nudge along using a broom or hoe, or use a square or two at a time that lets us stagger our planting for a staggered harvest or interspersed companion flowers.

Seed mats and strips can also be made out of a single thickness of newspaper pages for larger seeds like peas and beans as well, although we’ll want to make a small 1/8” slit or poke a pencil-tip hole through to give our seeds a head start on busting through the heavier paper.

Since we’re planting 3-6” or as much as 8-12” apart in those cases, whether we do rows or congestion beds, working with a larger paper size makes sense. The newspaper sheet will decay over the season, but being thicker, it does offer a nice head start for our seeds over the weed seeds that may be lurking below. Being thicker, it also does better if the seed gets that head start of a slit.

No more removing gloves. No more exposing seed packets to dirt and moisture, or unfolding and refolding and sticking them in a pocket as we try to keep track of where exactly the tiny black seeds landed in our bed. And since they’re evenly spaced instead of scattered in lines and areas, it’s minutely easier to tell which tiny baby dicot we should be plucking when the weeds start – at least we can work quickly in some of the gaps.

In the garden – Avoid the crouch-ouch

So why the focus on things that improve soils without hauling lots of bales, limiting all the bending, limiting the bending and time we spend watering (or pumping water), collecting trash to make all kinds of weird contraptions in the garden? It’s not just me being a greenie, I promise.

Especially for seniors and those with nagging pains and injuries, the ability to work standing upright or from a chair without leaning over or reaching far can not only increase the joy of gardening, but in some cases go as far as making gardening possible again.

Arthritic hands, shaking from an injury or age, and loss of full motor function from an accident can make it frustrating and painful even to fetch out and drop a lima or pea, let alone broccoli and spinach, and unless they’re willing to just punch some holes in a baggy and shake, just forget about iceberg and romaine and strawberry spinach.

The ability to work slowly over winter or summer to prepare for spring and autumn leaf and root crops, the ability to use a tube and funnel, then shake or scoop seeds using something they can actually grip is enormous.

Reexamine how you garden

Even for those in good health or who just like to be out there, some simple and inexpensive DIY projects and some trash collection and reuse can save a lot of time.

That might make a difference in garden size now, while we’re working and balancing families. It will definitely make a difference later, when we’re depending on those gardens to feed us or add a little forkability and crunch to our starvation-staving diet (I loved that article, BTW).

Saving backs and creating easy-to-use tools can also let us involve our parents and kids a little more in some cases, giving them independence and sharing the satisfaction that comes from a meal we procured for ourselves. There’s little better in life than seeing that pride returned to your parents and grandparents, or watching it bloom in your children.

It also sucks to fail, especially when we have a lot of time invested in something.

Water reservoirs, reduced weed competition, proper seeding coverage, and workload-friendly seeding methods can help increase our rate of success, which encourages us to do it again.

Work Smarter Not Harder – In The Garden Sometimes in the preparedness folds, we really get wrapped around axles. We have so much that we’re learning and trying to do, and

It’s happening now. This is a real SHTF event. Major disaster has hit, power is out, everyone is panicking, grocery stores are being raided and emptied within hours, and cars are grid-locked trying to make their way to safety, anywhere. No one knows where that is.

As Preppers, we have already prepared for this eventuality. We already have our emergency supplies packed, it’s likely we have a plan in place as to where we are heading. And we’re long gone before the panic has set in. However, it’s all very well having your bug out bag ready, learning survival skills such as how to catch your own food, how to filter water, and how to start a fire, but if you don’t have a shelter; you’re missing the most important survival item you need.

If you spend any reasonable amount of time in the outdoors, you’ve probably heard of the ‘Survival Rule of 3’. You can survive:

  • 3 minutes without oxygen or in icy water
  • 3 hours without shelter in extreme environments
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

These four rules rely on the previous one being satisfied. So for example, you can only survive 3 hours without shelter if you’re not in icy water, you can only survive 3 days without water if you have shelter from a harsh environment and so on. Therefore, next to being able to breathe oxygen, shelter is the next most important element of survival if you find yourself in extreme weather conditions.

It’s likely that most Preppers will know how to make temporary shelter using materials you can find on the forest floor, but what about if the disaster or crisis descends into total chaos and it’s TEOTWAWKI? (The end of the world as we know it). Would you know how to make a more permanent structure for you and your family to live in? If you’re lucky, you might come across an old underground bunker, but you’ve not left anything else to chance in your methodical planning, so why leave this to chance?

You need to know how to build your own survival cabin. Let’s face it, when SHTF most of us are bugging out to the forest. There is good reason for that. In the forest you’ll find one of the most valuable resources that you need to build a long term shelter: wood. This type of survival shelter is going to require time and effort, so it’s important that you learn the basics right now rather than learn through trial and error and the time and waste resources.

First, let’s look at what you will need to make your survival shelter. Ideally, you don’t want to be carrying a ton of tools around with you, so we’ll focus on building a shelter that only requires you to have minimal basic tools that you’ll probably already have packed: an axe, a fixed blade knife and a multi-tool. Let’s not beat around the bush, if you were going to build the same shelter at your own leisure, you could make the process a lot quicker using a whole host of other tools, but this isn’t about speed, this is about building a shelter to keep you safe.

First things first, you’ll want to choose a log cabin plan. You’ll most likely want to build a square or rectangular cabin, around 14×14 foot. We’re going to use that as our example throughout this set of instructions. There are five main steps to building a survival shelter; choosing your site, selecting your logs, laying the logs, openings for windows and doors, and finally, raising the roof. Step one, and to some extent, step two are something you should go and research now. Step three through five, you’ll need to have written down so you don’t make any mistakes when it comes to the build.

Step One: Choose your Site

Get to know the site you intend to escape to now. How far away is it, how long will it take to get there, how will you get there? Choose somewhere you can get to either by foot, or with one tank of gas. Once you’ve found a few places that you can reach without too much difficulty, you’ll also need to make sure it is far away enough from main roads and cities. You don’t want to set up a shelter in plain sight for anyone to come and make their own.

Where are the nearest places for natural materials? You’ll need somewhere close-by to a water supply, plenty of trees to use both for your shelter and for firewood, somewhere that has an abundance of animals that you can trap. Ideally, you’ll also need some softer materials to create somewhere to sleep, initially grass will do.

You’ll also want to consider the temperature year round. If the area you’re settling is made up of hills and valleys, you’ll find both the top and the bottom gets cold quickly. It’s windy at the top, and the valleys trap the cold air. Settle around 3/4 up a hill if you do find yourself in this position.

Scout the area for poisonous plants; don’t set up a permanent shelter if there are any in the immediate vicinity. What are the trees like surrounding your proposed site? You’ll need some for protection, but you should make sure they’re not dead or they might fall down onto your shelter.

One last thing to think about is the natural elements. How will the rain fall and collect, is the land flat? Where does the sun rise and set, make the most of this to heat your shelter if you’re in a cold climate, or ensure you have shade if you’re in a hot climate.

Step Two: Selecting your Logs & Preparing the Site

The majority of trees are suitable for building a survival shelter. Even though hardwoods such as walnut, poplar or oak will give you a more durable build, they are harder to work with. Instead, choose Pine, Cedar or Spruce. If you don’t have an option – just build with whatever trees are growing in your area.

The trees you choose should be long enough to create the length of your shelter, or double if they’re large enough to get two lengths out of each tree. They will need to be around 10 inches in diameter, to provide you with sufficient insulation. The trees also need to be as straight as possible.

For a survival shelter of 14×14 feet, you’ll need logs that are 16 feet in length. The extra one foot either side of the log allows them to be notched together and provide an overhang to give a sturdy and solid join.
Note: If your logs are 10 inches in diameter, to create a 9 feet high shelter, you will need 11 x 16 ft logs for each side, and a further 10-15 logs to create two gable walls. You should put aside the best 7 logs, to use as the sill logs and the purlin and rafter logs.

Sill Logs: Four logs that will form the base of your shelter

Purlin Logs: Two logs that will join the gable walls and provide a surface to attach your roof

Ridge Log: One log which sits at the top, and joints the two gable walls.

To fell the trees, use your axe to cut them in the direction that they are naturally leaning. Briefly, the best way to fell trees is to make a horizontal cut 1/3 of the way into the tree just above knee height. Next, make a 45 degree cut upwards to meet the end of the first cut. Then, make a cut on the opposite side, around 2 inches above the first cut. The tree should then start falling. Once you have all your logs, cut off all the branches, and debark them using your axe or knife at a 30 degree angle.

Usually when building a log cabin shelter, you’ll want to lay foundations however it’s unlikely you’ll have access to all the heavy machinery and concrete in TEOTWAWKI scenario. Therefore, to prepare your site will be simple. You should clear any debris and leaves away, and level the ground as much as you can. You will need some form of foundation, so without access to concrete, you should do this: bury four upright logs into the ground, leaving around 3-4 inches sticking out of the ground. You will use these as posts to put your sill logs on.

Step Three: Raising the Walls

The first step in raising you walls is to put your four sill logs into place. These logs should be the four that are largest in diameter, straightest and longest. First, you need to take two of them. Use your axe to create a notch (hole) at either end of two sill logs.

To create this type of ‘reverse-saddle-notch’, put your log into the place it will eventually sit (on top of two of the horizontal posts that are buried into the group). Take your knife and mark where the log is going to sit. Using your axe, make a V shape in the underneath side of the log until the notch is large enough to create a snug fit around the horizontal post. Do this at both ends of two sill logs.

Take your other two sill logs, and notch the underside of them to fit onto the top of the two sill logs you’ve already laid. You will now have the perimeter of your log cabin. The rest of the process is simple, but time consuming. This could take you a couple of weeks depending on how much help you have. You are going to continue notching the underside of each log and stacking the walls until you have the height that you want before you start creating the pitched roof.

Step Four: Windows and Doors

To create the openings for your doors and windows, you can use your axe to create a hole. When you reach the height that you want your window or door at, start cutting and removing the logs one by one to make space for a door.

There are lots of tutorials about how to make doors and windows available. Just make sure that you have thought this through, so you’re not left with large open gaps which can get very drafty and will defeat the point of having shelter unless you’re able to cover them effectively.

One such way to make doors is to keep hold of some of the thicker branches when you fell your logs, and use rope or other natural resources such as fibrous plants to tie them together. You might also want to do this for the windows so that you can replace them during the night/when the weather is cooler.

Keep openings to an absolute minimum.

Step Five: Raising the Roof

The shelter is now almost finished, but this is definitely the heaviest and hardest stages of the entire build. You’ll need some good brute strength here. You’re now going to create to triangles on two opposite walls; these will form your gable walls. Continue building the logs up, gradually getting short in length using the same notching method. When you are half way up, you need to take the two purlin logs and notch them so that they connect the two gable walls, one either side of the triangular shape you’re creating.

Carry on building the two gable walls until you reach the tip of the triangle, and then use the large ridge log to connect the gable walls. This can be extremely heavy work depending on the size of the logs, and how much help you have.

Once your ridge log is in place, use some smaller diameter logs to lay over the ridge logs, purlin logs, and the top of the walls, onto which you can attach roof rafters. You might want to use branches, leaves and mulch to create your roof’s finish.

You Survival Shelter

And there you have it – a long lasting survival shelter than will keep you safe, warm and dry. The instances in which you might need to build a structure of this quality and stability are rare, but as mentioned earlier, rather plan for all eventualities, than end up in a situation of needing a permanent structure and not knowing how to create one.

The beauty of this structure is that trees are available in almost every area of the world, they are one of the most reliable building resources and so if you learn this simple technique, you’ll be able to build yourself a shelter wherever you are.

As Preppers, we have already prepared for this eventuality. We already have our emergency supplies packed, it’s likely we have a plan in place as to where we

Is it just me, or are there entirely too many T-shirts in the world?

Perhaps I had a few as a youngster, but the first I can truly recall was a white T-shirt with a rubbery photo of a Studebaker on the front. I wore it with stylish orange hip-huger bell-bottoms embroidered with butterflies. Because I was 14 and bought the shirt with my dish washing earnings, I wore it until the emblem eroded and the fabric turned gray.

Now it seems, T-shirts are everywhere and often free, given out at fundraisers, sporting events and as advertising. Our local thrift stores receive so many donated T-shirts, they simply bag them up as shop rags. Trash bags crammed full sell for $4. Many of the shirts are brand new.

 

Fortunately, there are a gazillion ways to those brightly colored garments. Jersey fabric of 100-percent cotton is so versatile. It can be stretched, sewn flat, weaved, hooked, crocheted, dyed, tied in knots, and, best of all, the ends don’t unravel.

tomato-mulch

Use an old T-Shirt to mulch your tomato plants

Weed-free veggies

One of my favorite uses for surplus white T-shirts is as garden mulch. Simply cut the side seams and under the arms. Lay the shirt flat with a plant growing up through the neck hole.

Yes, I know, the T-shirt looks funny laying there on the ground for a while. But the fabric quickly fades and does such a wonderful job of controlling weeds that I soon forget it was once a shirt.

Two fun up-cycling uses of T-shirts include weaving strips of jersey fabric into place-mats, table runners or rugs. Another is the pioneer-favorite braided rag rug. Both projects are uncomplicated and use materials at hand. You do not need an expensive loom, sewing machine or other gadgets. I’ll briefly explain weaving here.

placemat

Create place mats with old T-shirts

Loom-less weaving

To weave T-shirts into useful household articles, you’ll need to assemble a loom – basically a wooden frame, like a large picture frame reinforced at the corners. This frame can be four sticks of wood fastened with screws. For large projects, use 2X4’s secured with angle iron.

A good loom size for scatter rugs is about 30 inches by 36 inches. To create larger rugs or table runners, several finished woven pieces can be stitched together (laced, actually).

To begin, tie off the warp (vertical) string to the bottom of the loom. Do not tie it in line with the frame side, but in 4-6 inches to make weaving easier. Wind the string figure-8 fashion to the top and bottom of the frame, pulling tightly and winding about 10 strands per inch. As you run out of one roll of warp string, simply tie on another. The knot will be hidden as you weave. When you have the desired width, tie off the end. For a finished width of 26 inches, that’s 260 loops around the loom.

stitching

Jersey fabric is very versatile.

No-fray fabric

Next cut your shirts into strips. Cut off the shirt bottom below any emblems, embroidery or other embellishments. Cut off the hem. If the shirt has side seams, cut those off. If not, just cut one side so that you end up with a large rectangle.

Depending on the fabric weight, cut strips 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches wide. You’ll want your strips to be a fairly even thickness once rolled. So, cut heavier fabric into thinner strips and lighter fabric wider.

Now, this is one of the really neat aspects of jersey – it rolls into a tube when stretched. When you have a nice stash of strips, begin stretching them to create a yarn-like tube.

So you can weave longer between stops, several strips can be stitched together to create longer strips. To create less bulk in your woven article, stitch the strips together diagonally by placing the end of one strip on top of another, right sides together, forming an “L.” Stitch a seam on the bias by hand or machine.

Ball up your T-shirt yarn until ready to use. Your strips can be sorted according to color to create a pattern, or woven at random.

Begin weaving first with the string you used for the warp. Weave over and under 4 strands of warp at a time, working your way back and forth until you have a band of about 1/2 inch. Weaving can be done by using a shuttle, a sort of long wooden spool, although fingers work just fine.

rag-rug[

The finished product

The fun part

Finally, it is time to weave your old T-shirts into something beautiful. Start weaving the first strip a few inches from the end, threading the strip over and under each warp string. When you reach the end of a row, beat down the yarn with your fingers, a wide-toothed comb or fork to keep the rows tight and straight. Then, come back the other direction with your yard, in the same over-and-under pattern.

When you come to the end of a fabric strip, stitch on another one and keep going. Instead of stitching, you can also knot your strips together for a bumpier, more rustic look. End your strips somewhere within the woven article and not on the end.

At the upper end of the woven article, after weaving the last row of fabric strips, weave another 1/2-inch wide band of warp string again.

To remove the article from the loom, cut the warp string from the frame, 8 strands at a time and tie it into overhand knots. Continue cutting and tying across the top and bottom of the woven article. Finally, lay the finished piece on a flat surface and trim the strands evenly to whatever length you prefer.

Braided rugs

To make a braided rag rug, cut strips at least 2 inches wide, again avoiding any thick emblems or embroidered designs. When you have a worthy pile of strips, begin by pinning together three strips and anchoring them to an immobile object, such as a doorknob or piece of furniture. Keep braiding and attaching more strips until you reach the desired rug size.

Here are a few tips about braided rugs made of T-shirt fabric:

  • Large rugs are heavy and difficult to wash, so plan to use the rug in places without heavy foot traffic.
  • Wash your rug by hand in a large tub outdoors and then line dry in the shade to prevent fading. Remember, it’s heavy when wet!
  • Use a strong, thick cord for lacing the braids together, as thin carpet thread or plastic fishing line will eventually cut through the T-shirt fibers.
  • Lining the back with an old sheet takes only another hour or so of effort, but will lengthen your rug’s life considerably.

Now, get busy, have fun and just think of how many Studebaker T-shirts you saved from the landfill.

 

Want more?

Here’s what the HuffPost Parents and HuffPost Women Facebook audiences said about giving T-shirts a new life.

Without further ado, here are 20 ideas for upcycling T-shirts, from the simple and practical to the downright creative.

Reusable bags

“Turn them into a reusable bag. Cut fringe and tie along the bottom, cut off sleeves to turn into handles.” ― Teri Lynn

“A no-sew reusable bag! So easy and I still get to see the cool shirts I’ve collected from races or fundraisers every time I use them.” ― Cari Cowling

“We host Family Service Fairs (where families do good for local nonprofits), and used old T-shirts to create reusable grocery bags to help get plastic bags out of the environment. The organization that inspired the station is called Boomerang Bags.” ― Doing Good Together

Quilts

“I’ve saved all my daughter’s scout, sports and school T-shirts and made her a quilt for college.” ― Della Yurasek Csehoski

“I made a blanket from old band T-shirts when I was pregnant to give to our son when he gets older but I’ll probably never really let him have it, it’s too cool!” ― Ali Walter

SaveThe Polka Dot Chair25 DIY Gifts for Dad on Polka Dot Chair Blog1K+Kathy ZellerT-shirt quilts

Jewelry

“My friend makes baby-friendly jewelry from old T-shirts ― necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and scarfs, etc.” ― Krisztina Oláh

“Turn them into headbands and jewelery, using braiding, knotting and macrame.” ― Danielle McEwan

“Cut them into strips, braid them into necklaces so my kids chew on them instead of their T-shirt collars.” ― Hortencia T. Benavidez

Pillows

“Stuffed the leftovers into a travel pillow for the kids. A tad bit harder than I would have liked it, but they don’t seem to mind. Otherwise, they are used for rags and other DIY projects.” ― Sylvia Salas-Brown

“We cut around the T-shirt design and add other fabrics around it to make pillows.” ― Marie Meidinger

“Pillow covers when kids are sick or I’m sweating at night.” ― AnneMarie Greenfield

Art

“I stretched some of my husband’s race tees over square art canvases. They hang in our family room along with my medal rack.” ― Anna-Marie Ward

“I frame my old concert tees in record album frames and then hang them up in my screened porch.” ― Michele N. Lotman

“Put them over canvases to hang on the wall.” ― Karla Marie

“Put into small embroidery hoop for ornaments or large for display.” ― Neelloc Niffit

Savefeelincrafty.wordpress.comold t-shirts turned into art. I might have to do this for my boy’s Harley room instead of a quilt with the Harley t-shirts I have.983Tegan BennettLovely D.I.Y. Stuffs!!

Towels

“Towels for my curly hair!” ― Sarah Beth

“Use them to towel dry your hair, smoother than actual towels so supposed to be less damaging.” ― Soma Chatterji

Kid clothes

“Turning a T-shirt into a romper for a child.” ― Heidi Else

Pet accessories

“I have a dog who shreds her bedding when she boards so I make dog blankets for her by sewing four T-shirts together. They’re harder for her to destroy and cheaper than dog beds.” ― Melissa Westmoreland

“I have dogs, so anything fabric gets its second life as dog bedding.” ― Melissa Lynserra

“Our Aussie shepherd mix likes to play tug (and rip!) and then sleep with them.” ― Kathleen Wright

“Knot and tie into dog toys!” ― Tara Olivia

“My Key Club uses them to make chew toys for the local animal shelter.” ― Teri Madewell

“Old T-shirts make great surgery recovery shirts for dogs. My dog HATED that stupid cone, but the shirt didn’t bother him one bit!” ― Lauren Olcese-Mercurio

SaveSheKnowsDon’t toss that old T-shirt! Snip it up to make this toy for your furry friend.32Helen DaleFor our pets

Donations

“Donate them to Rethreaded, an organization that helps people ‘sew a new story’ in their lives. They make and sell items, including various items from T-shirts.” ― Anita Davis Sullivan

“Donate them. I’m not crafty enough to make things, and there are always people who need gently used clothing. Pay it forward, y’all.” ― Erin Hablenko

Sleepwear

“I just sleep wearing them and use them in that way until they lose their usability. Best bedroom clothes for me.” ― Natalia Shveykina

“My daughter takes them to wear for pajamas.” ― Wendy Greve

Rugs

“I cut a bunch of shirts into half-inch strips and knitted a small area rug for our kitchen.” ― Elina Singh

“Braided T-shirt rugs with the pieces left over after doing quilts/pillows and rags.” ― Ashley Edinger

“You can cut them into strips to knit or crochet rag rugs.” ― Kelly McDaniel Whitney

Savefromjumblejoy.comLearn How To Make a No-Sew Round Braided Rug With T-Shirts!1K+2MaryEllen HagerlCrafts that interest me

Doll clothes

“My kids cut up old T-shirts and make clothes for the Elf.” ― Claudia Reis

Scarves

“I made T-shirt scarves for my daughters out of their old T-shirts.” ― Kimberly Anderson

“Cut it straight across, right beneath armpits, and create an infinity scarf.” ― Laura Coronado

Lampshades

“I’ve turned one into a macrame lampshade!” ― Danielle McEwan

Makeup Wipes

“Make reusable makeup-removing wipes (soaked in micellar water).” ― Lauren Neiger

Rags

“Mine go from T-shirts, to PJs, to rags after that the trash!” ― Brandy Allen-Burgard

“I use them for polishing silver (inherited a bunch, pain in the butt to maintain).” ― AnneMarie Greenfield

SaveKalyn BrookeEver wondered what to do with tees that were stained, had holes, and generally weren’t good enough to donate? This tutorial teaches you how to turn old t-shirts into dust rags, and includes the secret to getting crisp edges every time!226Nancy IsomCleaning

Hair care

“I wear them when coloring my hair and tear them into strips for hair curls.” ― AnneMarie Greenfield

Reinvented clothes

“Give it new details … i.e., cut off the sleeves and give it a different neck.” ― Mish Buonantuono-Rausch

“Re-design to new shirts, bags, skirts … ” ― Rachelle Carrillo

Gardening aids

“Garden ties for holding up plants like tomatoes.” ― Neelloc Niffit

“Tear them into strips and use those strips to tie up tomato plants in the garden or other plants/trees.” ― AnneMarie Greenfield

Recycling

“Recycle them. School has a bin and it raises money for the school.” ― Stephanie Tapia

 

What do think? Right when you thought there’s nothing much to do today..


On a different note, 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)

A T-shirt can be stretched, sewn flat, weaved, hooked, crocheted, dyed, tied in knots, and, best of all, the ends don’t unravel.

As the proud owner of two small cats, I can admit that sometimes I just can’t keep up with their potty habits. Sometimes they’re worse than kids; spreading those silica pebbles all over the bathroom or bringing them to bed when it’s nap time. Anyway, in buying so many sacks of cat litter, a thought occurred to me – what if I can use this stuff for other purposes than, well, kitty litter?

Of course, this sort of thing called for some extra time spent online searching for non-cat uses of kitty litter. Well, after a very though peer review (cats were pleased with the results of my searches), I pieced together this small list of ways to repurpose kitty litter.

Yes, I know that most of you have heard that cat litter can be used to defog car windows or to gain extra traction during the winter, but there are other ways to use this stuff.

Now, without further ado, here are some ingenious ways to use kitty potty pebbles during an SHTF situation.

  1. Dump some of that stuff in a portable emergency potty

Since kitty litter is made to draw out moisture, it makes for an excellent smell and liquid buster for your portable toilet. The idea of having to go number two in a bucket or whatever may be unnerving, but you won’t have much choice during an emergency.

Want to hear one more reason why you should add kitty litter to your portable toilet? Because you won’t have the time or disposition to empty it after each use. So, do yourself a favor and put some of this stuff inside your mobile potty before nature takes its course.

  1. Making your driveway slip-free

You know how people end up in the ER when the frost sets in? Slipping on the driveways after getting out of the car. You can either use regular rock salt to deal with the ice, but that stuff eats through concrete like acid, or you can opt for an environmental- and driveway-friendly solution which is kitty litter.

Sure, it won’t do much about the ice, but at least you’ll have enough traction to stay upright until you get inside the house. You should also sprinkle some kitty litter under your doormat – yup, that thing can also become very slippery during the winter.

  1. Putting the kibosh on them moles

Prepper loves veggies, mole loves veggies, but prepper does not like a mole – that’s how it is; a true Shakespearian forbidden love affair which ends in the above-mentioned person finding all kinds of non-soil-friendly ways to get rid of the blind Romeo.

 

Anyway, if you don’t want to end up poisoning the ground, sprinkle a little bit of cat litter around your plants. For some reason, moles abhor cat litter and will stay away from your garden. From where I stand, it’s a win-win situation: no one gets hurt, the soil remains healthy, and plants will grow unhindered.

  1. Nips grease fires in the bud

Whether you’re cooking outside or inside, grease fires are a very real and very scary possibility. Even worse is that you can’t do shit with water. Now, if you forget to check your fire extinguisher, leave it where it is. Grab a handful of kitty litter and toss it over the fire.

Since the silica pebbles are designed to draw out moisture from, well, anything, they’ll blanch that grease spot faster than you can say “preparedness.”  You should also consider keeping a small bag of kitty litter in your BBQ’s firebox if you’re planning on cooking grease-laden foods.

  1. No more rancid smells around the house

Kitty litter is great at reducing foul smells around the house. If there’s a stink in the fridge, put some of this stuff on a small plate and place it inside the fridge.

Now, if the kitty litter doesn’t help with the bad smell, try this trick – in a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of diatomaceous earth, one tablespoon of fine rock salt, and one tablespoon of baking soda. You can also add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you like. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and I guarantee you that by morning, the inside will smell as if the fridge just came out the production line.

  1. No more rodents lurking around your food pantry

Before I got around to redoing the pantry where I keep my emergency food and water stockpile, rats and mice were a big issue. Sometimes I had to throw entire packs of trail mix or whatever because they were literally covered in rat bites and feces. Plugging every hole that you can find is indeed a good fix, but a costly one.

After doing a little bit of research, I’ve discovered that moles aren’t the only pests that detest the sight and smell of cat litter. Apparently, even rats and mice flee in terror at the sight of these pebbles (probably because they know that a cat may be hanging around).

Anyway, doesn’t matter if you own a cat or not, should you find yourself up to the neck in rodents, scatter some kitty litter around the area where you saw bites or feces. They won’t trouble you any longer after this.

  1. Plant care

Since I’ve always like fooling around the garden, knowing how much moisture plants need was kind of an issue for me. There was this one time I ended drowning my wife’s cabbage patch because I used the power hose to water them. If you’re just like me when it comes to gardening, you can use kitty litter to balance the water levels.

Since this stuff absorbs extra moisture, you need not worry about giving too much water to plant – it will draw out the exact amount it needs. The rest will be absorbed by the kitty litter (would be best to use silica pebbles, because they have a higher absorption rate).

That’s it for my 7 funky and fun ways to use kitty litter in an SHTF situation. What are your thoughts? Hit the comment section and let me know.

As the proud owner of two small cats, I can admit that sometimes I just can’t keep up with their potty habits. Sometimes they’re worse than kids; spreading those silica

There is undeniable proof that some plants, not all of them mind you, have outstanding healing properties. One cannot turn to modern medicine each time he finds himself in an SHTF situation.

Sure, med stockpiling helps (check out my article on best over-the-counter painkillers), but you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that most are made from artificial compounds that tend to put way too much strain on the liver and tummy. In fact, if you read the little label on every pain med, you would see that even the lightest one like Ibuprofen should be taken after a hearty meal.

So, here I am, talking about the remarkable properties of natural remedies. As a prepper, I’ve learned that Mother Nature is quite offering when it comes to healing plants.

Anyway, in searching through my drawers, I came upon this nice little notebook that belongs to my grandpa. Very nice, filled with great memories but, most importantly, some tidbits on healing plants that should be grown around the yard.

Needless to say, I started working on my backyard pharmacy project as soon as the nice weather settled in. For those of you who are not too fond of gardening or believe it to be a waste of time, energy or money, think again. You really don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if sometimes goes wrong, home-grown stuff will be more valuable than gold (that’s why I’ve decided to dig up a veggie garden the next time I head up to my hunting cabin).

Anyway, getting back to today’s topic, these plants I found in grandpa’s scrapbook are really something. I mean, beyond the fact that they can be used to give taste even to the blandest dish, they’re also neat in treating all sorts of health issues. Moreover, they’re stupidly easy to grow, require little care, and, if you have a head for business, you can probably make a lot of money by selling them (extra gigs really pay off).

So, if I haven’t bored you to death already, here are my choices in plants that you should definitely consider growing in your backyard.

  1. Basil

Entire books can be written on this topic, but I’m just going to stick to the facts. Basil is great for seasoning (I prefer the green kind over the dried variety), as its aroma is reminiscent of lime.

Apart from that, studies have shown that dishes made with fresh basil, tinctures, and teas are great for bringing down the cholesterol level, as well as reinforcing the blood vessels. Since I’ve acquired a taste for Italian dishes, I’ve used basil in virtually every pasta dish I cooked (even dropped a couple of leaves in my Tiramisu, but that’s another story).

Anywho, basil can be grown both indoors and outdoors, and it requires little attention. Just be sure the plants get at least six hours of sunlight per day. Don’t water them too much because they don’t need that much moisture.

Tea made from basil is great for soothing the nerves. Just wash a couple of leaves, crush them in a mortar, and infuse them in hot water for a couple of minutes. That’s it. You can add some honey and ginger for some extra spiciness.

2. Sage

No, not that kind of sage. I was referring of course to the herb which gives a strong, almost earthy-like aroma to your dishes. Grandma always uses to put sage in all her meat dishes (you should try adding some dry sage to your pork chops next time).

Just like basil, it’s very easy to grow around the house. The only trick to sage is to don’t overwater and overfertilize the plants. Teas and tinctures made from sage are great against pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and for sore throats, in general. The plant’s crushed leaves can be made into a poultice, quite efficient at dealing with cuts, bruises, sores, and burns.

To make tea from sage leaves, rip two or three, wash them thoroughly, and put them I cup. Add boiled water and allow them to infuse a couple of minutes.

3. Rosemary

This plant will always remind of The Sleeper, one of Poe’s most awesome poems (“The rosemary nods upon the grave, the lily lolls upon the wave.” Sorry for that flight of fancy, guys. Anyway, rosemary is great for any kind of dishes, especially pork cuts and fish.

As a natural remedy, it boasts quite a record: detoxes body, relieves migraines, improves blood circulation, rids you of morning breath, and also helps with any bouncy-bouncy (sex) related problems. Granny wrote down that rosemary works best if it’s grounded into a fine powder. Take a teaspoon of this stuff every morning, before breakfast. Keep into under your tongue for 15 minutes then swallow.

4. Parsley

No soup or broth would ever taste the same without parley. I myself make sure to have an ample supply of this plant, regardless of the season. As a health aid, parsley’s packed with vitamins A and C. More than that, the increased iodine content makes parley not only great anti-rad food but also a great thyroid regulator.

If you have kidney stones, juice made from freshly-picked parsley leaves can alleviate some symptoms, especially the going to the toilet for the number one part. Just stick a handful of parsley leaves into the blender, add a small cup of water, and some lemon juice.

Mix it, pour into a mug, and drink it on an empty stomach. You should also know that parsley’s also good for the ladies if it’s first eaten by gents (wink, wink).

There is undeniable proof that some plants, not all of them mind you, have outstanding healing properties. One cannot turn to modern medicine each time he finds himself in an

In a survival situation iodine is essential to have readily available, especially if there is a nuclear event of any type (see the section on Potassium Iodide supplementation for full details). Iodine is also essential to have due to its ability to disinfect water. After treating water with iodine you should let it stand for half an hour; this will allow enough time to kill off all the viruses and bacteria. If the water is cold (less than 68 degrees F) then you will have to give it four hours to be sure it is sterilized.

If you check the list of some of the most powerful nutrients to boost your immune system, Iodine stands from the crowd.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, cold intolerance (you always feel cold), constipation, hair loss, bags under your eyes, and if severe enough, the thyroid gland will swell (goiter). A goiter is evident when looking at a person you will see a swollen area at the front base of their neck, below their larynx or Adam’s apple.

There are other more far-reaching effects of hypothyroidism including stopping of ovulation and infertility in women, increased risk of other cancers including prostate, endometrial, breast, and ovarian.

As a Prepper, iodine is one of the most useful items to have on hand; it is relatively inexpensive, and I also recommend you stockpile a good supply of potassium iodide for any radioactive exposure from a nuclear event as well as other forms of iodine such as Nascent Iodine for daily use, etc. Other sources of iodine are mostly from sea vegetables like kelp, seafood, and shellfish.

Note: The iodine content of iodized salt cannot be used as a source of iodine, since the amount you would need to raise your iodine levels in your blood would be fatal.

 

Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

A deficiency of iodine can have serious effects on the body. The symptoms of its deficiency include the following:

  • Depression and frustration
  • Mental retardation
  • Poor perception levels
  • Goiter
  • Abnormal weight gain
  • Decreased fertility
  • Coarse skin
  • Chances of stillbirth in expectant mothers
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

Iodine is an essential mineral you must get from your diet.

Here Are 9 Healthy Foods That Are Rich in Iodine

1. Seaweed

Seaweed is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It’s also low in calories.

Seaweed is one of the best natural sources of iodine. However, the amount can vary significantly based on seaweed type, the region in which it grew and its preparation.

Three popular seaweed varieties include kombu kelp, wakame and nori.

– Kombu Kelp

Kombu kelp is a brown seaweed sold dried or as a fine powder. It is often used to make a Japanese soup stock called dashi.

In a study that surveyed seaweed samples from various Asian countries for their iodine content, it was found that kombu kelp contains, by far, the highest amount of iodine compared to other species of seaweed.

Kombu kelp can contain up to 2,984 mcg of iodine per seaweed sheet (1 gram). This provides almost 2,000% of the recommended daily intake.

Excess iodine consumption is well-tolerated in the majority of people but could result in thyroid dysfunction for those who are susceptible.

– Wakame

Wakame is another type of brown seaweed that is slightly sweet in flavor. It is commonly used to make miso soup.

The amount of iodine in wakame seaweed depends on where it is grown. Wakame from Asia has higher amounts of iodine than wakame from Australia and New Zealand.

One study found that the average amount of iodine in wakame seaweed from various parts of the world was 66 mcg per gram, or 44% of the daily recommended intake.

– Nori

Nori is a type of red seaweed. Unlike brown seaweeds, it has a much lower content of iodine.

Nori is the type of seaweed that is commonly used in sushi rolls.

The iodine content in nori varies between 16–43 mcg per gram, or about 11–29% of the daily value.

SUMMARYSeaweed is an excellent source of iodine. However, the amount it contains depends on the species. Kombu kelp offers the highest amount of iodine, with some varieties containing nearly 2,000% of the daily value in one gram.

2. Cod

Cod is a versatile white fish that is delicate in texture and has a mild flavor.

It is relatively low in fat and calories but offers a wide variety of minerals and nutrients, including iodine.

According to the Icelandic Food Content Database, fish low in fat have the highest iodine amounts.

For instance, 3 ounces (85 grams) of cod has approximately 63–99 mcg, or 42–66% of the daily recommended amount.

The amount of iodine in cod can vary slightly depending on whether the fish was farm-raised or wild-caught, as well as the region where the fish was caught.

SUMMARYHigher amounts of iodine are found in fish low in fat compared to fatty fish. For instance, a lean fish like cod can provide up to 66% of the daily value.

 

3. Dairy

Dairy products are major sources of iodine, especially in American diets.

The amount of iodine in milk and dairy differs greatly based on the iodine content in the cattle feed and the use of iodine-containing disinfectants during milking.

A comprehensive study measured the iodine content in 18 different brands of milk sold in the Boston area. It found that all 18 brands had at least 88 mcg in 1 cup (8 ounces) of milk. Some brands even contained up to 168 mcg in one cup.

Based on these results, 1 cup of milk can provide 59–112% of the recommended daily amount of iodine.

Yogurt is also a good dairy source of iodine. One cup of plain yogurt provides approximately half of the daily recommended amount.

The amount of iodine in cheese varies depending on the type.

Cottage cheese is one of the best sources of iodine. One cup of cottage cheese provides 65 mcg, while one ounce of cheddar cheese provides about 12 mcg.

SUMMARYAlthough the exact amount of iodine in dairy products varies, milk, yogurt and cheese are major sources of it in the American diet.

4. Iodized Salt

Currently, both iodized and uniodized salt are sold in the United States.

The addition of iodine in table salt began in the US in the early 1920s to help decrease the occurrence of goiters, or swelling of the thyroid gland.

There is approximately 71 mcg of iodine in 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt, which is 47% of the daily recommended intake. However, salt also contains sodium.

In the last few decades, iodine intake has decreased in the US. This is likely due to the push of major health organizations to restrict daily sodium intake to prevent or treat high blood pressure.

Nevertheless, salt only seems to raise blood pressure in salt-sensitive individuals, which is about 25% of the population.

SUMMARYIodized and uniodized salt are commonly sold in grocery stores. Consuming 1/2 teaspoon of iodized salt per day provides enough iodine to prevent a deficiency.

5. Shrimp

Shrimp is a low-calorie, protein-rich seafood that is a very good source of iodine.

Additionally, shrimp provides key nutrients such as vitamin B12, selenium and phosphorus.

Shrimp and other seafood are good sources of iodine because they absorb some of the iodine that is naturally present in seawater.

Three ounces of shrimp contain about 35 mcg of iodine, or 23% of the daily recommended intake.

SUMMARYShrimp is a good source of protein and many nutrients, including iodine. Three ounces of shrimp provide approximately 23% of the daily value.

6. Tuna

Tuna is also a low-calorie, high-protein, iodine-rich food. Furthermore, it is a good source of potassium, iron and B vitamins.

Tuna is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower your risk of heart disease.

Fish higher in fat offer lower amounts of iodine. Since tuna is a fattier fish, the amount of iodine found in tuna is lower than leaner fish varieties, such as cod.

However, tuna is still a relatively good source of iodine, as three ounces provide 17 mcg, or about 11% of the recommended daily intake.

SUMMARYTuna offers less iodine than lean fish but is still a relatively good source. Three ounces of tuna provide about 11% of the daily recommended amount.

7. Eggs

Eggs are also a good source of iodine.

For fewer than 100 calories, one whole egg provides a lean source of protein, healthy fats and a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals.

However, the majority of these nutrients, including iodine, come from the yolk.

Egg yolks are a good source of iodine because it is added to chicken feed. Yet since the content of iodine in chicken feed can vary, the amount found in eggs can also fluctuate.

On average, one large egg contains 24 mcg of iodine, or 16% of the daily value.

SUMMARY The majority of iodine in eggs is found in the yolk. On average, one large egg provides 16% of the daily recommended amount.

8. Prunes

Prunes are plums that have been dried.

Prunes are a good vegetarian or vegan source of iodine. Five dried prunes provide 13 mcg of iodine, or about 9% of the daily value.

Prunes are commonly known for helping relieve constipation. This is because of their high content of fiber and sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol.

Prunes are high in many vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium and iron.

Because of the nutrients prunes offer, they may help improve heart health, decrease the risk of colon cancer and even help manage weight by decreasing appetite.

SUMMARY Prunes are packed with vitamins and nutrients. Five dried prunes provide a good vegetarian source of iodine by meeting 9% of the daily value.

9. Lima Beans

Lima beans are commonly associated with the popular Native American dish succotash, which mixes lima beans and corn.

Lima beans are a good source of fiber, magnesium and folate, making them a heart-healthy choice.

They are also a relatively good vegetarian or vegan source of iodine.

Due to the variation of iodine in soil, irrigation water and fertilizers, the amount of iodine can vary in fruits and vegetables.

However, on average, one cup of cooked lima bean contains 16 mcg of iodine, or 10% of the daily value.

SUMMARYLima beans are high in fiber, magnesium, folate and iodine. One cup of cooked lima beans provides about 10% of the daily value of iodine.

The Bottom Line

Iodine is an important mineral, though few food sources are rich in it.

This is why many people around the world are at risk of developing a deficiency.

The foods highest in iodine include seaweed, dairy, tuna, shrimp and eggs. Additionally, most table salt has been iodized, providing an easy way to add iodine to your meals.

The foods listed in this article are not only some of the best sources of iodine, but they’re also very nutritious and easy to add to your daily routine.

You want more info like this? But all in one place? In case you’re a curious prepper, this information is from a book that can be used immediately to improve your health, and expand your treatment options in many areas, even if there is never a crisis event for you and your loved ones. You can find more about this book here

If you check the list of some of the most powerful nutrients to boost your immune system, Iodine stands from the crowd

Survival food is everywhere. Question is, just like everything else in our lives, should we take it for granted?

Food: it seems to be the one constant in prepping. We start out buying food and many of us are still buying food, long after we think we’ve got all our other preps in place. No matter how much food we have in our stockpiles, we never really think we have enough. So, instead of calling it “done”, we just add another month’s worth.

There’s nothing wrong with stockpiling all that food. None of us know what sort of disaster we’re going to be faced with, and if we’re ever faced with a true TEOTWAWKI event, then we’ll need all the food we can get. In fact, we’ll all be wishing we had more.

But what’s it going to be like when we open up those buckets and find the food contained inside? Are we going to be pleased with what we have or are we going to feel like something is lacking? What’s it going to taste like and what sort of nutrition are we going to get from that survival food? Will it truly be enough to survive on?

 

Of course, a lot is going to depend on what we have stored in those buckets and who packed them. You might actually be more content with your own survival food, than with buying the prepackaged buckets.

While the prepackaged food may be made up by “professionals”, we really don’t know the criteria they were using when they developed those survival meals. Taste seems to get a lot of attention when people talk about survival meals, but isn’t nutrition actually more important?

Let me deal with taste to start with, as that’s actually the easier subject. I’ve eaten a number of different survival meals, from a number of different companies. I’ve also eaten military MREs, which is the real basis for the types of food that we’re talking about.

Based upon that, I’d say they are all edible and some are even rather tasty, if you like the Rice-a-Roni or Skillet Helper type of flavor. The main seasoning used in the majority of these foods is salt, like much of the food we eat every day. As salt is necessary for survival, that’s probably rather good, although I will have to say that the amount of salt that they use is probably a bit high, as with most of the prepared food we eat.

Calories in that Survival Food

We’ve all been taught to think in terms of a 2,000 to 2,500 calorie per day diet. That’s actually more than we need, especially if we live a sedentary lifestyle. On the other hand, if we live an active lifestyle, that probably isn’t enough. Soldiers in combat are fed 4,500 to 5,500 calories a day, whether eating in a mess hall or eating MREs, to ensure they have plenty of energy to fight.

You’ll receive different information from different sources, but by and large, the average person needs 1,200 calories per day to survive. Men need more than women, due to being larger with a larger muscle mass. Of course, that doesn’t take into account activity; but rather, is just based on what is needed to survive. As activity increases, the energy the body needs has to come from somewhere, either from food being eaten or energy stored in the body’s fat cells.

When you open your survival rations, you’ll find that they base everything on servings. If you buy a 30 day package for one person, that usually means 90 servings (30 days x 3 servings per day). Now, here’s the thing; in the case of many of those prepackaged survival meals, those three servings per day work out to only 1,000 to 1,200 calories, although there are some which contain 2,000 calories per day.

In other words, no matter how good your buckets of pre-packaged survival rations taste, they are most likely going to end up leaving you hungry. You will probably not be eating enough to sustain your body weight and most likely will not have a whole lot of energy for strenuous physical activity.

Nutrition in that Survival Food

If you spend any time talking to a nutritionist, or even reading what they say, you’ll find that they spend a lot of time talking about micronutrients. Listening to them, it sounds like all we need to eat is Omega 3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants to survive.

In reality, micronutrients won’t keep you alive all by themselves. The nutrients which talk about them are already assuming that you are getting enough of the macronutrients your body needs, probably more than enough. If you are already getting enough macronutrients, then the idea behind supplementing those micronutrients is to improve your health.

 

That’s all well and good; but in the case of survival, we really need to focus on the macronutrients, not the micronutrients. There’s really no value in being the healthiest corpse in the graveyard.

There are three macronutrients. They are:

  • Carbohydrates – These come from grains and should make up 50 – 60% of a survival diet. Carbohydrates are your body’s biggest source of energy.
  • Fats – This includes both plant and animal fats and should make up about 30% of a survival diet. Fats break down slower than carbohydrates, providing a “second wind” of fuel to your body when the energy from the carbohydrates runs out.
  • Proteins – We’re talking animal proteins here, although some can be garnered from plants, Proteins are essential so that your body doesn’t turn on itself and cannibalize muscle tissue to get them. You need about 10 – 15% of your diet to be animal proteins in a survival diet.

In reality, the one thing that most “survival foods” are really good at providing is carbohydrates. While they provide fats or proteins, they don’t provide enough. Not only that, but the protein they provide is “textured vegetable protein” or in other words, flavored soy curds. While you can survive on them, they aren’t an ideally balanced survival diet.

Micronutrients are all but non-existent in these survival foods. That’s okay for a short-term survival situation (under 30 days), but if you continue eating this sort of diet for a prolonged period of time, your body will not receive all the nutrients it needs and will become susceptible to disease.

In order to use those buckets as your main source of nutrition, you really need to augment the food that is in them with other fats and proteins, as well as fruits and vegetables to provide the micronutrients your body needs. Of course, if you are growing an extensive vegetable garden and using it to supplement your survival food, you’ll be doing a lot to provide the micronutrients your body needs.

How will the Survival Food Affect You?

If you try to live only on survival food, you will find it affecting you quite a bit. Of course, a lot will depend on the actual survival food that you are eating, how many calories it provides, how much physical activity you undertake and what your health is like before the disaster strikes. Nevertheless, there are some conclusions we can generalize on:

#1. You will most likely lose weight. Not only will you be eating less calories than you are accustomed to, but you will also be doing more physical work than you normally do.

#2. You will find yourself weakening. The food in survival buckets is intended to help you survive; it is not guaranteed to keep you in top form. So you will find that you will become weaker over time.

#3. You may find that you don’t think as clearly. One of the things a poor diet affects is the higher brain functions.

#4. You will be more susceptible to disease. Without a fully-balanced diet, your body will not have the defenses it needs to fight off disease. I’m not talking so much about infection here, as I am about diseases where the organs of the body are not able to function fully.

#5. You will probably have digestive problems, due to a lack of sufficient fiber in your diet.

I would recommend that you augment that food with other food stocks, more specifically: jerky or other dried meats, canned meats, nuts, peanut butter, canned vegetables, canned fruits, dried fruits and vitamins.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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

Survival food is everywhere. Question is, just like everything else in our lives, should we take it for granted?

A Prepper Must-Have – Baking Soda

I have it on good authority that some people actually bake with baking soda. That’s not why it’s stocked like a mighty brick in my house. Baking soda is one of those items that has about a hundred and one uses, only some of them limited to the kitchen. It’s nice and cheap, and while I don’t think it’s one of the things that runs off the shelves in any crisis – snow storm, hurricane, or larger – it’s hugely beneficial to have plenty of it on hand.

To me, the price and the usefulness put it way up on any must-have list for preppers (or pretty much any adult).

First we want to be sure of what we’re talking about. On store shelves, baking soda is most usually going to be a box, although it can be found in big bags for those of us who use it a lot. It’s the one with sodium bicarbonate listed as the active ingredient, not cornstarch and 4-6 other things in a little round carton. That other one is what you use for bannock bread and microwaved mug brownies – baking powder.

Shoe satchels

baking-soda-for-shoes

Stomping out smells in your shoes is one of baking sodas great claims to fame.

Those of us who have ever had a fridge or dishwasher that’s been turned off for a while have probably heard of sticking an opened box of baking soda in there. Arm & Hammer even creates packages with a mesh-lined side flap for just that purpose. That same deodorizing capability combines with a low-level desiccant, and can be used to dry out and kill the sweat or swamp funk in our boots and shoes. This is the stuff that gets added to kitty litter boxes, after all. Stomping out smells is one of its great claims to fame.

The satchels can be made out of cloth, old socks whose mates have gone missing, coffee filters, or used dryer sheets. The imagination is really the only limiting factor here. As long as it allows easy airflow between the footwear and the baking soda inside, it’ll work. Add at least a tablespoon and a half of baking soda, tie up, and drop inside.

If you want to jazz up the shoe satchels further you can add all kinds of things from dried flowers and herbs (lavender, rose, rosemary, mints, eucalyptus) to bath crystals or salts.

This one works not only on shoes, but also on things like old gym bags, the lunch bag from two years ago, a small cooler, a tool bucket or box that has a case of the funk, or a softball bag that’s being repurposed.

Foot Soak

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If the smell from shoes is originating because of the feet in them, you can combine baking soda with any number of things to create a foot soak.

Mouthwash, herbal teas, various oils like lavender or eucalyptus or rosemary, lemon slices or juice, Epsom salts (excellent addition), apple cider vinegar, and dried herbs like rosemary, mints, or plantain all get added. A simple soak of 1-2 cups in a gallon or two of warm water for 15-30 minutes can soften and rejuvenate feet, and help control various fungus that want to live in warm, sweaty environments.

Surface Cleaner

cutting-board-plastic

We know that baking soda is one of the things we can stock to use as a toothpaste alternate, or to concoct our own toothpaste. It cleans more than mouths, though.

Just sprinkling it on carpets and wooden decks or porches, letting it sit, and then sweeping or vacuuming it up works wonders for some odors and fungi. We can also clean our cutting boards by rubbing with baking soda and-or salt and a lemon, or just scrubbing with a brush and the dry ingredients and then letting it sit for a bit. The powders create a habitat that discourages many microbes, like the kind that live in tiny scratched crevices and outlive even dish soap and the dishwasher.

 

We can use that trick on dog bowls, sinks and counters, as well, using fresh lemons or limes or bottled lemon juice, or just scrubbing and allowing it to sit, then sweeping it and wiping it up.

Pipe & Drain Cleaner

Getting rid of shower and tub mildew and *that* smell in any pipe uses basically the same ingredients as above: baking soda, salt in some cases, and lemon. Vinegar of pretty much any kind can be substituted for lemon juice if somebody likes that price enough for a different smell, or wants to go with apple cider vinegar.

I like the method where you boil 2-8 cups of water to pour down the drain, then throw a cup of baking soda in and let that sit for 5-60 minutes, and follow it up with 1 cup of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with a cup of water.

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There are a few variations, so poke around a bit. Some say to cover it to direct the reaction downward (not so sure about that), and some to limit the fumes in the air (just don’t use white vinegar). Some say to give it 6-8 hours, and some say to just wait until the bubbles stop. Some suggest just rinsing with tap water, and some suggest boiling more water to flush the remnants away. Up to you.

It doesn’t always work, especially in the bathroom where *somebody* sheds 2’ hair with every shower. Sometimes a repeat or upgrade to/of vinegar to the stronger cousins works. Every once in a while, you have to go to a snake or “real” drain cleaner, but a lot of the time, whether it’s a slow drain, a for-real clog, or a smell, the baking soda does the trick.

There are apparently schools of thought where this is bad and degrades things, so research that too.

Fungicide (Outdoor)

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We can add one tablespoon of baking soda to one quart of water (4 tablespoons/1 quarter-cup per gallon) and use it to treat black spots in the yard, roses, and berry brambles suffering from the various black fungus illnesses.

One of the things that helps baking soda kill smells is that the sodium bicarbonate is an antacid, a highly reactive one. A lot of growing things prefer an acidic environment. Fungi – from mold to mildew – is one of those things. The beauty is that baking soda is a stabilizing antacid. It’ll react with anything in an extreme, and go through a severe reaction initially (which can also kill bad stuff) but then it’ll self-regulate and return its surroundings to a near-neutral state.

No wonder this stuff is called miracle powder, right?

 

 

That miracle powder can help us in a big way with some common crop and garden pests – mildews.

We can add one tablespoon of baking soda to one quart of water (4 tablespoons/1 quarter-cup per gallon) and use it to treat black spots in the yard, roses, and berry brambles suffering from the various black fungus illnesses.

Powdery mildew on any plants can be prevented and treated with the same, however, the addition of a teaspoon of dish detergent and a teaspoon of vegetable oil per half gallon will help it stick better. Once powdery mildew gets started, it’s a constant battle, so having the spray last longer on the plants can save us a lot of time and heartache.

Creepy-Crawly Pests

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Fungus gnats aren’t usually harmful, but they are annoying, and there are times there are so many that the soil-dwelling larvae stage start stunting plant growth because they’re consuming the tiny root hairs of plants. A teaspoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of dish detergent in a full gallon of water can also help remove or reduce the populations, without changing soil pH so much that acid-loving veggie plants and perennials can’t handle it and die, too. As with mildews, all soils in the area need treated and the treatment will have to be repeated to break the infestation completely since there are multiple stages and locations in the gnats’ life cycles.

Mixing baking soda 1:1 with powdered sugar and surrounding an ant hill with a 1”x1” wall of the stuff can help reduce those garden pests, too. I’ve had it decrease the visible numbers, but they seem to pop back up. Still, it’s nicer working in beds and playing fetch or weed-eating with a few less ants getting aggravated with you. A ring of baking soda will also help deter slugs. (Grits and cornmeal help with ants and slugs, too.)

Pest Sting & Itch Relief

 

Baking soda recently got crowned the Most Prized Possession in my house. I was attacked by some sort of not-bee striped flyer, and ended up with welts roughly the sizes of eggs, from dainty little quail all the way up to jumbos, with 3-6” red raised areas around the big welts. Yay! A poultice of just baking soda and water reduced the swelling and pain.

That poultice is best applied with large Band-Aids already open and waiting, especially if you’re trying to doctor your own elbow and thigh.

If the poultice is allowed to dry, it will come off in big flakes or shingles, and can actually help extract a broken-off stinger, fang or tick head.

 

Like the satchels, the poultice can be improved on. Chamomile tea is awesome, but any kind of tea contains fabulous stuff that helps reduce swelling and pain more and faster. Let it cool and add it to the poultice, open a bag to mix in before the water, or open a used bag to add to the paste. Aloe can be stripped and chopped and added, as can commercially available gel. So can witch hazel, chamomile flowers, lavender oil or flowers, fresh or dried plantain, Echinacea (purple cone flower), chickweed or jewelweed, and lemon balm.

Some people also apparently make their poultice with milk. Not my thing. Likewise, I’m not adding to the mess or pains by using honey or honey crystals in there, but there are proponents of honey as well.

Go as crazy as you like with that one.

Maybe the sting or bite isn’t making you crazy enough to coat your wounds with paste and Band-Aids. Sometimes we’re just hot and itchy and can’t really identify a single place to treat, and a shower or bath isn’t really cutting it.

Baking soda in a tub with or without soothing additives like oatmeal can help.

You can also make a satchel similar to the first use listed, although you’ll want it to be bigger. Again, alone or with things like chipped aloe, oatmeal, chamomile flowers or oil, or tea leaves from a regular grocery-store brewing bag (Camellia sinensis species) can be added. You use the satchel to dab yourself while you’re in the shower.

Baking Soda

There are just so many uses for baking soda, with these the very tip of the iceberg. Run any google search for uses, and you’ll find dozens more, from killing weeds to repelling rabbits and silverfish. It goes in laundry and it gets used for facial masks. Use it to deodorize dogs, make Play Dough, or get gum/caulk out of your hair. The stuff is so cheap, so easy to find, and does so much, it’s worth filling a box or drawer and keeping handy, especially if we live well outside shopping areas.

It’s not one that I expect there to ever be massive runs on, not like generators, snow shovels, tarps and plywood, peanut butter, and toilet paper. However, in a long-term disaster, we could potentially run out. For me, it doesn’t replace a fire alarm and fire extinguisher, some extra batteries that fit that alarm, or having spare oil and coolant in the truck, but it’s right up there with the food and water supplies as a must-have item.

Hopefully you’ll explore its uses a little more, print out some of the many 11, 30, and 50+ uses lists, and stock up at least a little.


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A Prepper Must-Have – Baking Soda I have it on good authority that some people actually bake with baking soda. That’s not why it’s stocked like a mighty brick in

What if the SHTF when you are away from your home? What if you are on the big family vacation down at the Grand Canyon and the global economy finally tanks like a drunken toddler going down the stairs on roller-skates? You could be hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away from your home, your supplies and everything you have been preparing for. All of your careful planning, saving and prioritizing would be wasted if you couldn’t get back home to the comparative safety of your home or retreat.

This is something I think about whenever I have to travel out-of-town so I have developed a couple of processes to help me if my main priority is getting back home. The steps I take are different and my plans need to be adjusted depending on how I am traveling and who I am traveling with. Naturally, the distance and duration of my travel has an impact on my plans as well.

Distance

If I have to travel less than 500 miles away from home, I try to drive. Why drive 500 miles when you can simply hop on a plane you ask? For several reasons, I dislike flying. No, let me say I hate flying with a blind passion.

When you fly anywhere now, unless you are going from one major city to another major city you will most likely be on multiple flights. The airlines do this so they can combine travelers on bigger jets but it makes a simple trip for the average person a pain in the rump. If you have one of these multiple hop nightmares, you could face delays on one leg that make you late for your connecting flight. There are few things more infuriating than running with your luggage across a crowded airport only to arrive at your next gate and watch the plane you were supposed to be on slowly pulling away. No, they won’t come back for you either. Add to this security delays, which mean you need to get to the airport earlier, parking, shuttles, luggage hassles, not to mention the ultimate insult as they grope you and your family.

I do still fly, but with certain considerations and it isn’t my first choice. If you are flying, you have much less you can do in the way of taking major preparations with you. Less than 500 miles I like to drive because my trip starts the minute I leave my driveway. I can also take firearms, extra food and water and other items I may need if I have to get back home. You can still carry firearms on a plane, but in a car, there is almost zero hassle.

Alone or With Companions

If I am traveling alone, I definitely carry fewer items in my survival kit. Actually, I don’t take a true survival kit that you would recognize. I always have my EDC which consists of knife, multi-tool, handkerchief, water etc. I also carry concealed if the state I am traveling to honors my permit. I don’t worry about carrying too much extra food, because I am not as concerned with feeding myself as I would be if I had a hungry wife and kids with me.

Read more: Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

If I am traveling with my family, I bring much more because I have more people to consider. Hunger, at a minimum, can seriously harm morale and is one of the easiest concerns to prepare for.

Food

Traveling with a family, our family anyways, involves food. There is something about a car trip that makes everyone hungry so snacks are necessary just to get us to the next food stop. I think there is some chemical aroma that our car puts off that makes you hungry if you are in it more than 20 minutes. It may be years worth of fries under the seats. We make sure we have more than enough snacks for our trip for everyone in the car. These don’t seem like much, but the caloric count of the snacks we have in the cooler would more than make up for a days’ worth of eating.

Water

Depending on the time of year we adjust the amount of water we carry in our car. Regardless of the outside temperature, everyone has a full Nalgene bottle before we leave the house. We also have enough bottled water to last us each 2 days. This isn’t enough to take showers or cook with, but we wouldn’t die of dehydration.

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Now, if we are driving through the desert, we pack more. I have also packed my backpacking water filters on occasion and always carry water purification tables in my Get Home Bag.

First Aid

I found an excellent combat medic bag at a gun show last year for $80 and this is always in the car with us on long trips. This has more supplies than I would ever use on a standard trip, hopefully ever, but I have this for a couple of reasons. First, if we are in a serious car accident, or witness a serious car accident I would be able to immediately assist with first aid (provided I wasn’t the one injured) and possibly save a life. The second reason is that if we had a grid-down scenario I would like to have my first- aid bag on steroids with me and not at my house. In this bag I have all of the normal items and some major blood stoppers.

Eventually, my plan is to add an IV. This bag is really to treat and stabilize major trauma; immobilize injuries and stop blood loss. I don’t think there is one Band-Aid in the whole bag. I also have a simpler first-aid kit that we bring with us on day trips. This is augmented with survival blankets,but the Combat Lifesaver is left in the car most of the time.

Weather

You should have a pretty decent idea of the weather you are going to encounter along your trip and at your destination. With the prevalence of weather websites and smart phone apps there is no reason except for laziness to not know how to pack. Is there a snow storm planned for where you are taking a vacation? Hurricanes in the summer can wreck all of your vacation plans, but these are the big-ticket items that receive a lot of notice on the news. What if there is no hurricane or blizzard, but you don’t pack a jacket and the temperatures are lower than you expect? You have to plan clothing that could keep you alive.

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

At a minimum I try to pack like I am not coming home. I bring too many clothes, but I am usually prepared for any weather. I have a rain blocker and a fleece if I am going anywhere where the forecast is rain or cooler temperatures. Even at the beach, nights can be cool. Could I live without the fleece if I only have to go back inside? Sure, but what if I am stuck outside and that fleece is the only thing keeping me warm overnight? My little trick is to have and wear clothes that would keep me alive if I didn’t have a car or a warm house to go to. This usually involves headgear and gloves which never get used, but it’s nice to have them as backup.

Fuel

Having all of the items you need to survive a collapse is great, but if you don’t have enough fuel to get you where you are going, it could be a much less pleasant trip. If you are driving, never let your tank get below half-full. This way your vehicle can get you closer to home regardless of what happens during your trip. Having the vehicle you are in maintained is a no-brainer also.

Firearms

Every trip I can, the firearms go with me. Why? What if the SHTF and you are hundreds of miles away from your AR? Just like clothing, I imagine what it would be like if I had to shoot my way back home. It may sound paranoid, but I have several firearms with multiple magazines each and at least one rifle. In some cases I have more than that. Again, all state and federal laws should be obeyed, but I don’t like being away from home without some serious firepower. Murphy’s Law states that would be when I would need it.

All of this is fine if you are driving, but what if you have to fly or you are traveling internationally? You can still travel with a lot of the items I mention above but every situation is different. You may need to adjust your plans to your travel requirements. It may help you in the use as I described though and if nothing else; it may help you prioritize when you are packing next time. Is there a case to be made for minimalism and making do with less or using items differently, of course. The main point is to be prepared and if that means another suitcase, so be it.

If you have travel ideas or tips, please share them with everyone in the comments below  and “safe travels”!


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What if the SHTF when you are away from your home?