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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

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

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.


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

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.

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

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.

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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?

“On a warm spring night, after eating dinner with friends and deciding to do a little late-night dancing, a young lady walks across the top floor of a well-lit parking garage.  She’s tired, worn out from the night of dancing and to help combat her fatigue, one hand is carrying a latte from the local late-night coffee joint down the road while her other hand fumbles in her purse.

Since it’s the top floor of the garage, there are few really good places to mount a security camera, so the ones that do exist are not able to capture much outside of the fact that behind her, a black-clad man with his hood up approaches her from behind as she unlocks her car door, and attacks.  Within seconds, he slams the back of her head, knocking her unconscious with his blow, if not with the ricochet of her head against the roof of the car.  Picking up her keys off the ground, throwing her inside the car bodily, he’s driving off through the garage, and is out of camera range very quickly to do…well, just about anything he wants.”

While this is a fictional situation, it’s the kind of thing that I’m starting to think about now that my daughter is going to be attending college in the big city.  She has basic skills in martial arts, an interest based on an activity that I required of her when she was a young teen, but doesn’t have a firearm and doesn’t carry any weapons in her purse.  What can she do to prevent this kind of attack?

3 Ways to Discourage Street Attacks

#1 – Situational Awareness & Mindfulness

Millennials often get a bad rap for being too tied into their phone, but it’s not only them. People of every age do it and they need to beware of the risks of making their way through life oblivious to those around them.  In a world where any kind of media is immediately available through so many channels, it’s easy to put your headphones in and enjoy a little entertainment on those lonely walks down the streets.  I love podcasts myself, and I know how easy it is to get lost in what the hosts are discussing and become engrossed to the point of making secondary the thoughts about where you are, where you’re going, what you planned on doing, and how you’re getting there.

Situational Awareness is simply the act of being constantly aware of what is happening around you.  It is essential in any kind of potentially dangerous situation to be mindful of what is happening around you, keeping a clear head, focusing on the present situation and your present environment.  Use as many of your senses as you can – listen to the ambient sounds, notice the smells of your environment, put your eyes and your head on a swivel, looking behind you every thirty seconds or so, and more often if entering a new environment.

I used the word “mindful” in the last paragraph, because Mindfulness is becoming a part of the zeitgeist of modern life as well.  This age-old concept is very simply a set of techniques designed to help you focus on the present moment, and what is happening around you – very similar to situational awareness.  Looking up some simple mindfulness exercises like “leaves on a stream” or even practicing basic meditation is a good way to help build your tolerance for long periods of being in the moment.

In the above situation, the young lady who was attacked likely had no idea that there was someone else on the roof of the parking garage, much less that he was following her, even as closely as he would have had to in order to attack so quickly.  Having no situational awareness, and likely being lost in a world of her own thoughts or in cell phone music or audio programs was her first big mistake.  Had she been looking around, aware of her situation, and perhaps even made eye contact with the attacker on her way towards her car, she may have done enough to encourage him to choose a different target.

#2 – Providing Disinformation

If you were an attacker who wanted to prey on someone, would you choose a man or a woman to attack?  Young or middle aged?

Almost everyone would choose a young female. The reasons are simple – she’s less likely to have any interest in martial arts or combat sports, she’s probably smaller and less muscular than her male counterparts, she likely carries more cash or valuable jewelry, and is stereotyped as being more naïve by the media and society at large.  Whether any specific female fits those categories is unimportant, its true that the simple act of being a female makes you a bigger target.

Being a young female isn’t something you can control.  Or is it?

No transgender stuff here.  But it’s possible, highly likely even, that the attacker in the above situation has done at least a small amount of research on this car he found on the top floor of a parking garage late at night, and it’s surprising what you can figure out about someone based on their car.

Does she have custom vanity license plates?  If so, those are generally a strong indicator that this is a female, unless the plates say something decidedly masculine like “GUNDUDE8” or “PREP MAN”.  If he peeks inside and sees custom leopard print seat covers, a steering wheel cover, or fuzzy dice on the rearview mirror, then assumptions can easily be made.   Other information can be gleanes as well.  If he sees a Victoria’s Secrets bag in your passenger seat, then what’s he going to assume?  The contents of your backseat can tell a lot about a person.  Makeup bags, the presence of an infant car seat or a booster, bumper stickers – all of these things say something about you, and help attackers decide if you’re a good target. While they don’t all “scream” female, they do all scream “unfocused” or having their concentration distracted by errands, a child, whatever. We are all guilty of this, especially in places we have frequented where “nothing has ever happened.” Reality is it only has to happen once to be life altering.

The worst offenders of the car customization market are the stick figures that populate the back windows of far too many cars.  Sure, they’re kind of cute, but they give way too much information about who you are, who is in your family, their ages and their interests.  If you have a single woman with two children on there, chances are that you’re coming out to your car either alone, or with two little ankle biters who are occupying all of your attention.

The best tip I’ve heard for single young women who are at risk for being attacked near their car is to give would-be attackers plenty of disinformation designed to encourage them to choose a different target.  A big, well-worn pair of men’s athletic shoes in the back seat, or a duffel bag covered in visible weight-lifting patches and karate logos will go a long way towards indicating to any smart criminals that the person who owns this vehicle is not to be trifled with.

Bumper stickers are also a good way to dissuade people.  Pro-gun bumper stickers, particularly if they endorse concealed carry, are a good place to start, as are indicators that you’re interested in things like MMA, wrestling, martial arts, or bodybuilding, whether you are or not. I have heard the counter-argument, that people “looking for guns to steal” look for cars with an NRA sticker (USMC emblem, etc.) The normal pattern of such a person is to follow you home to see what house to target for a robbery, when they observe you have left the premises. Yes, most people like this have gun safes – do you put your bedside go-to weapon in your gun safe every time you leave your house?

Spiked dog collars are also a simple thing to throw in the backseat.  While that might not be something that will dissuade an attacker in the aforementioned situation, it will work wonders for dissuading attackers spying on your car in a park, forest preserve or who might be looking at your home as a potential target.

Use your normal routine and patterns to decide what kinds of things you want to decorate with, or stash in your car. Understanding the places where you’re likely to be attacked will provide the best understanding of what will work best for you.

#3 – Just do it

People who prey on others are often quite a bit smarter than you might think.  Most have done their homework, and having looked inside your car to find evidence that you may be a very strong male or have a very large dog, might be smart enough to avoid you as a potential attackee.  Despite this, an often cited fact about criminals shows that most crimes that are committed in the US are crimes not borne from passion or careful thinking, but simply crimes of opportunity.

The attacker in the situation above may have been in line behind her in the coffee shop and noticed a $100 bill in her wallet, and taken the chance to follow her.  He may have just been a normal guy walking to his own car when he had a desperate feeling that he could get something from her.  Sometimes, the criminals will ignore any evidence of misinformation you provide, or maybe they’ve cased your car before and seen through your deception.

Sometimes, you just have to fight.  Or at least look like you’re ready for a fight.

Many will advise keeping some kind of weapon in the purse, and it’s hard to deny that this would be a good idea, but I would advocate that, if not well trained in the use of a knife, pepper spray, a pistol, or whatever weapon might make sense for a young lady to carry, that weapon will be useless.  It might also function as a distraction – it’s mere existence forcing the attacked person to spend valuable reaction time digging around for the weapon instead of running, adopting a defensive posture, striking back, finding some other form of help, or doing almost anything else that may be more productive in helping the situation.

Instead, the simple act of looking ready for a fight is good enough.  Stand up straighter when you walk, turn your head when you look, not just your eyes.  Proactively say hi to people on the street to indicate that you notice them, as this can unnerve criminals who are doing their best to avoid notice.

Remember that if the need arises to defend yourself, it is nearly impossible to do so without a free hand.  If you carry a purse, consider keeping your hand inside it as you walk, not fishing for anything, but as if you’re holding onto something.  The fear of the unknown weapon in your hand may do enough to scare someone off.

Anyone, female or not, would also do well to consider what kinds of objects that you keep on your person and how they may be used as a weapon.  Pocket knives are an obvious choice, but making a fist around your car keys creates a deadly combination of striking and slashing weapons that can do serious damage.  Aerosol deodorant or hair spray is not a great choice, but it can certainly burn the eyes of an attacker if you get lucky.  Using the small, rounded edge of a hairbrush as a striking tool can be helpful to those who don’t have a lot of experience using their fists to punch, and it will likely cause more damage if you don’t already have any martial arts training.

Before exiting the stairwell or elevator, this young women should have had her keys ready in her dominant hand, with the key poking out through her middle and index finger, her hand in a fist.  Even with an improper strike, this will cause damage to any attacker.  That’s a nice easy weapon to carry that will do the damage, doesn’t require specific training, and will help you stay safe out there in the big bad city. And for those of us with “electronic key bobs”, consider investing in some sharp jewelry/bottle-opener thingy’s to add to the key ring. Also, never forget your extended thumb forward when making a fist as this can be devastating to an eye, a throat, even a kidney. Then again, there is this.

"On a warm spring night, after eating dinner with friends and deciding to do a little late-night dancing, a young lady walks across the top floor of a well-lit parking

When we sit down with the goal to be prepared and self-sufficient, we have to balance a lot. We already walk tightropes between work and home life in many cases. Adding a pursuit that could really be its own full-time job only makes things harder. The self-sufficiency arm alone could occupy a full work week, and for some, the future looms as a period when we may have to increase our physical vigilance on top of producing our own food, medicine, and supplies.

There are methods we can use to make gardens maintenance friendly, and plant selections can ease it further. In some cases, there are plants that grow with few inputs and are specific to our regions. In other cases, we can also decrease our labors in a work-heavy and typically strength-sapping hot season by making selections that ease the other side of growing and harvesting.

Processing & Storage

Whether it’s annuals, an annual veggie garden, or perennials, whatever methods for production we choose takes time away from our daily lives. Then our produce needs to be processed, one way or another.

Even now when most lives are relatively easy due to power tools, refrigeration, and transportation, we tend to be pretty busy. I think most of us expect that even without the tug of paying jobs and some of the extracurricular activities that suck up our time, a life “after” will be just as busy and in some or many cases, even more labor intensive.

When we examine that “labor” word in regards to processing food, don’t forget that it’s not only the physical act of shelling beans and field peas, and our chosen method for threshing and winnowing grains or stripping corn cobs, or stewing tomatoes and slicing up zucchini. Most storage methods – even the truly historic methods – call for supplies: canners, jars, copious lids, a dehydrator or outdoor netted racks of some sort (and cooperative weather), a cold smoker, or things like salt, sugar, pectin and rennet we either have to stock or figure out how to produce.

When we process something, we also regularly have to provide fuel. Besides water and gardening, I think fuel consumption for household processes is one of the most underrated and underestimated aspects for preppers.

If we can eliminate some of the burden of processing foods for storage, we can eliminate not only some of the draw on our valuable time, but also limit some of the constant drains on supplies, and give us at least a little bit of backup in case our supplies are damaged or consumed.

Happily, we can create those backups pretty easily, by adding traditional storage or “cellar” crops https://morningchores.com/root-cellars/ to our garden and orchard plans. They basically go from field to storage, poof, done.

I’ll skip over beans and cereals this time, because they really need their own articles. Instead, I’ll stick with the veggies and fruits that are easiest to store without much if any processing.

Squashes

Squashes are among the best-known storage crops. Autumn or winter squashes are the longer-growing, thicker-skinned cucurbits. It’s those tough hides we have to work through that let us sit them on a shelf and walk away, for weeks or months on end. There’s a long, long list from all climates that includes kabocha, spaghetti, kuri, Hubbard squashes, the gourds, and pumpkins.

Squash are ready for storage when the rinds darken, and you can’t punch a fingernail through them. The plants sometimes cue us that they’re ready by yellowing and dying back a bit, and in many cases the vines will go woody. We then cut them off with a stub of stem attached, brush any soil or debris loose, and let those thick skins toughen up more with a 1-2 week cure in a 75-80 warm, somewhat dry space, up off the ground. They can be cured in the field, propped up, but there are risks there that a barn or crib can help eliminate.

Then they go into a slightly humid space – the average basement, household pantry, spare bedroom or office, and dry cellar is fine. Some will store for 6-8 weeks even at 60-75 degrees, while others will only store that long even at the ideal 45-60 degrees. Some like Hopi and fully-matured tromboncino will store for a full year or longer.

The downside to the winter squashes is that they tend to take a full season to grow, and only produce a few to a handful of fruits per plant, compared to the tender summer squashes that can be producing in 55-65 days and readily fill a laundry basket when they’re picked often and early.

Humid Sand-Box Crops

Some of our storage crops like it damp. It keeps them from shriveling up and browning, or wilting into rot. We can create humidity with damp sand or sawdust, layering in root veggies like rutabaga/sweedes, turnips, beets, parsnips, carrots, and celeriac. The root veggies are also ideal candidates for burying in a wooden crate outside once temperatures drop.

We can also use damp boxes to store cabbage, celery and leeks.

For them, shallower trays work well, because we’re going to cut them with a section of their stems still attached, and “plant” those stems into the sand or sawdust. The veggies will then wick up moisture that lets them be stored for weeks or months.

They’ll store longer if we can keep them between about 35 and 45 degrees, but even 55-60 degrees can significantly extend their shelf lives. If we can’t come up with a damp box or pit for them, we can also individually wrap them in plastic to help hold in moisture. (And now you have a justification for keeping every plastic grocery bag that crosses your path.)

Tree Fruits

Nuts have to be the next-best known storage crops, and right there with them are apples and pears.

Modern supermarket apple varieties don’t store quite as long or as well in many cases, with the exception of Granny Smith that will sit on a counter for weeks and extend into a month and longer if we drop the temperatures.

There are still storage apples out there although we have to work harder to find them. Braeburn and Pippin are examples of surviving apples that were actually intended to sit around in storage for a while, sweetening and softening over time . We can also turn to the harder baking, cider and applesauce apples like Winesap.

We’ll have better luck storing the tart apples than the sweets, and the firm-crisp apples and pears over softer varieties. Mid-and late-season varieties are also more storage friendly, usually, and can provide us with fresh fruit later in the season.

Apples will do best in a cool, 40-65 degree storage space, and will do better yet if we save some newspaper and phone book pages to wrap them in and stick them on racks with 0.5-1” of air space between each fruit and each layer.

Pears will be even happier if they’re given the same treatment but an even colder space – just above freezing up to about 50 degrees. Pears will also commonly benefit from a cure period after they’re harvested.

Both pears and apples like storage with some humidity, which makes them good candidates for storage above some of our damp boxes, but only the leafy veg boxes. The root veggies are pretty sensitive to the ethylene released by fruits.

Medlars that “blat” (rot) are another example of a tree fruit that we don’t have to rush around processing during some of the busiest times of the year. It’s an acquired taste and texture, ever so slightly reminiscent of apple butter, but especially if we want to keep our food production hidden in plain sight, medlars may be a nice choice for us.

Nuts are pretty easy, even soft-shelled peanuts. Pick, brush, stack in a dry place, move on.

One thing to note is that walnuts that are removed from their husks will be less tart/bitter than those that aren’t processed at all. On the other hand, one of the “cheat” ways to remove that husk is to just stack them up in a bag until it rots and can just be scrubbed, or to leave them in water until the husk rots and drops away.

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes and sweet potatoes need to make it through our winters and in many cases all the way through the earliest parts of spring, so we have even more reason to start practicing with them as soon as possible. See, they’re not really flowering seed producers at this stage in evolution, and it takes a while for seed starts to get going, just like tomatoes. We’re going to have to cut potatoes and let them callous, and-or grow starts from them if we want to continue reaping potatoes and sweet potatoes in a world without Tractor Supply and Baker Creek.

After harvest, both sweet potatoes and true potatoes are brushed off, then cured.

Potatoes cure best at 50-60 degrees for 2-4 weeks. To be at all soft and palatable, sweets need to cure in a warm but not too hot space, 80-85 degrees, and usually don’t need more than two weeks.

That’s similar with Asian and African yams for the most part, although some of those need a little longer or will tolerate hotter cure temps.

We’re typically harvesting sweets and yams when it’s still pretty warm, but if we need to heat space for them, we can use coolers or insulate small pantries or closets, and rotate in jugs and pots of hot water. We can also potentially use our vehicles or camper shells as a hot zone for curing sweets and yams, but we need to monitor the temps and be able to provide ventilation if it gets too hot during the day, and keep the temperatures up at night.

Once they’re cured, potatoes and sweet potatoes like the same moderate humidity we can find in most household basements, pantries, and spare rooms. Sweet potatoes really want to stay at 50-60 degrees for their storage, but potatoes will handle a dug-in pit that only gets as low as 45 or so, or can sometimes be stored in rooms adjacent to barns, greenhouses, or coops – reaping the body heat but not too much of it.

Storage Crops

Spring, summer, and autumn are already pretty busy seasons for a lot of us. Family obligations and things like fishing and hunting are already in competition with our gardens, orchards, crops, any livestock we own or other projects. They’re also the seasons we need to get buildings and power sources repaired, and wood cut and stocked.

Summer, and in many places autumn as well, are also our drought seasons, which means unless we have reliable water sources and backups for them, we can expect to do some heavy hauling – and some of us may already be filling barrels and buckets and tanks to haul for livestock and gardens.

Add in the mega-disasters and regional or wide-scale hungers some expect, or even the increased risks of garden and livestock threats from desperate humans a la Great Depression, Venezuela, and some of the dissolution and wars that have faced Europeans in the last century, and we can expect to spend more time on defense, as well.

Those are all factors that makes it worthwhile to consider crops that don’t need much processing. Autumn squashes, apples, carrots, nuts, and potatoes that need minimal work before being crated or stacked on shelves can save us valuable time. Maybe that’s time we’re harvesting livestock and grains, or maybe that’s time we’re shelling green peas, peeling tomatoes, and slicing crookneck for the dehydrator or pressure canner.

Even if our storage conditions aren’t ideal, the ability to produce crops that can sit for even just a few weeks can buy us time to get in precious hay and straw, and deal with the more perishable yields of our gardens and orchards.

While there are some drawbacks to various storage crops, there are also a lot of benefits – both now and “if/when”.

When we sit down with the goal to be prepared and self-sufficient, we have to balance a lot. We already walk tightropes between work and home life in many cases.

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

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

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

Determining how long your food storage will last

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

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

A 50 pound bag of rice has about 500 servings.

Each serving (1 cup) of rice is 206 calories

Each serving of pinto beans has 245 calories

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

Calories are more important to measure than servings

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

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

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

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

What happens when we start to starve?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kwashiorkor and Marasmus

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

Setting out for the frontier in the 19th century was nothing like moving to a new city today. You weren’t moving to a place with a fully developed infrastructure, where you could easily get your hands on all the essentials of day to day life from a choice of stores and service providers. The hardy pioneers who built the West had to be self-reliant, and that meant taking everything they needed with them.

We often have a mental image of those pioneers loading their chuck wagon with food and gunpowder before striking out into the new lands of the West, and that image isn’t inaccurate; they did carry these essentials, in the largest quantities they could. In fact wise settlers packed their wagons almost to overloading, and sometimes beyond. It wasn’t uncommon to see a wagon propped on crates or barrels at the side of the road, while its owners worked at repairing a broken wheel or split axle.

Pioneers didn’t just carry the things they needed. They also had to carry the tools to repair the things they needed – and then, when supplies ran out, to make more. Even the most heavily loaded wagon can carry enough to keep a family going for a few months at most. If the pioneers wanted to make a serious attempt at building a new life in the West they needed to be truly self-sufficient, and the key to that was taking the right tools with them.

If you like to be self-reliant around the house the chances are your tools massively outnumber the ones the typical pioneer family took with them – but yours will be more specialized, and aimed at fixing or maintaining modern appliances or carrying out general DIY tasks. Frontiersmen had different priorities. They didn’t just want to fix things; they had to be able to make things, so the tools they took with them were absolutely vital.

Take a look in your toolbox and you’ll probably see a load of tools for working with wood, electrical wiring and maybe plumbing. You’ll have an assortment of screwdrivers, and likely a multi-tool like a Dremel. You’re well equipped to handle any repairs or improvements around your home. But could you build a home with them?

That’s exactly what the pioneers had to do. The tools they carried had to be up to the job of harvesting natural resources and turning them into the raw materials to build a home. Then there was agriculture. The food carried in a wagon would last for a matter of weeks, half a year at the most – and while it was usually possible to buy more from enterprising traders, the cost of wagon freight made that too expensive for most people. Anyway, for most settlers the whole point of heading west was to farm their own land, and you can’t do that without tools. Often you can’t do it without the tools to make other tools.

Finally there were the small things. On the frontier you couldn’t drop in to the local outfitters and pick out clothes that fitted you. Instead, most people bought bolts of cloth and made their own. That wasn’t the only sewing that needed done either. The West was mostly powered by horses, and horses need tack. That breaks or wears out eventually, and the pioneers had to be able to fix or replace it. The same went for most of their other possessions. Sometimes there was no choice but to pay the inflated prices at the nearest general store, but wherever they could pioneers would fix or replace things themselves. Their tools had to be capable of a wide range of tasks, and they didn’t have the technology that we do. There were no power tools, just simple hand-operated ones. But those simple tools could do amazing things when used properly, and if society breaks down they’ll do just as good a job for you. Let’s look at the tools that built the West in a bit more detail.

The Basics

Knives

A knife is the most basic, essential survival tool. If you have one you can start to collect what you need to make other, more advanced tools. If you don’t have one you’re in a lot of trouble. Pioneers carried knives everywhere they went – usually a simple hunting knife on their belt, and maybe a folding pen knife as well. These would be used for dressing game – the major source of fresh meat in the early years of a move west – and for wood carving, plus many other daily tasks. More knives would be found in the kitchen; not as many as in a modern kitchen, but in a wider range of sizes. Pioneers didn’t need six different styles of small paring knife but they did need large butcher knives and cleavers.

Hammers

The first tools men made were stone hammers. Just a hard piece of rock shaped to have a comfortable grip at one end and a striking surface at the other, these were the launch pad for over 2.5 million years of technological progress. A hammer lets you apply concentrated, rapid force to something, and it opens up a world of possibilities. With a hammer you can quickly fix objects together with nails. You can shape metal. Add some wedges and you can split logs and even rock. Without a hammer, many of the jobs pioneers needed to do would have been a lot longer and more difficult. Many more wouldn’t have been possible at all.

A frontier toolkit would have contained several hammers, ranging from a standard claw hammer to heavier ones used for metalwork or breaking rocks – and probably a sledgehammer for when real power was needed.

Saws

Small bits of wood can be cut and shaped with a knife. Logs can be split with a hammer and wedge. But to cut large pieces precisely, you need a saw. Without a saw you’ll struggle to build anything better than a crude shack, and you won’t be able to make most of the advanced tools that turn life from a daily grind into something approaching comfortable. Doors that fit the frame? That needs sawn boards. Window frames? Sawn. The frame for a threshing machine or spinning wheel? Good luck shaping that with an ax.

A good tool kit needed at least two saws; a large bow saw for felling and trimming trees, and a small hand saw for precise work. Other styles were also available, but with those two a handy pioneer could manage most tasks.

Axes

An ax combines the cutting edge of a knife with a hammer’s ability to deliver concentrated force, and if you want to cut things in a hurry it’s hard to beat. Pioneers used axes to harvest timber, clear land for farming and split firewood. A hatchet is also a great tool for rough shaping of wood, and if you’re building a log cabin it’s unbeatable for getting the joints done.

Spade

Most of us think of a spade or shovel as a tool for yard work. To the pioneers it was one of the most important items they had. A spade was needed to build a new home. At minimum you’d have to dig holes for the support posts of a log cabin – but many pioneers didn’t live in log cabins. Where there was a shortage of suitable timber it was much more common to build a sod house, and that meant cutting thousands of blocks of turf. A spade was an essential tool for that.

After a pioneer family had built a home the next thing on the list was usually a vegetable patch, to start supplementing the food they’d brought with them. Again, a spade was needed to prepare the ground. Finally, almost every home had a root cellar to store food, and building that took a lot of digging.

Farming

Long-term survival on the frontier meant, for most people, starting a farm. That would provide them with food, and give them a surplus to sell. Obviously growing crops on a large scale needed some more specialized tools. A spade and hoe will do fine for a small plot of vegetables, but they aren’t up to the job of preparing a whole field. The pioneers took some agricultural equipment with them, and with their other tools they could make the rest when they arrived at their new home.

Plow


If you want a good crop you need to loosen and turn over the top layers of soil, to bring up nutrients and distribute them evenly. A small plot can be prepared with a spade, but a plow will cover large areas much more quickly and easily. Plows – first drawn by hand, and later by animals – had already been used for thousands of years, but by the time the pioneers set out West the standard was a horse-drawn moldboard plow with a cast iron blade that could turn over the virgin land and expose the rich soil. In 1837 John Deere invented a steel plow blade that was both lighter and stronger, but many pioneers couldn’t afford these. Then there was the issue of weight and bulk. A whole plow was a large, heavy item that wasn’t easy to fit in a wagon already crammed with other supplies. Many people just took the blades with them, and built the frame from local timber when they began farming their new land. Later, as local industry began to develop, a blacksmith could make iron blades to replace worn-out ones.

Harrow

A plow is very good at turning over the soil, but it usually leaves many large lumps. These make planting difficult, so a plowed field would then be worked over with a harrow to break up the clods and give a smoother surface. Modern harrows are quite sophisticated, but pioneers used much simpler – but still effective – ones. A basic harrow is simply a heavy wooden frame with rows of spikes on the bottom that’s dragged over the field by a horse. Pioneers would usually take the iron spikes with them, then build the frame themselves.

Hoe

Fertile land doesn’t just produce crops; it’s also a magnet for weeds. Plants that evolved to win the struggle for space in a forest or grassland can quickly take over a battlefield as easy as a plowed, harrowed field. Without modern, selective weedkillers, pioneers had to spend time manually weeding their fields. Instead of pulling them out one at a time a hoe was used. Its iron or steel blade, on a long handle, lets you chop the foliage away from the roots without bending down; an experienced user can clear weeds at close to normal walking pace. Without a hoe it’s almost impossible to weed a large field effectively.

As well as weeding a hoe can also shape the soil, cut shallow trenches, or replace a harrow for small plots. It’s a very versatile tool, and essential for anyone farming without modern machinery.

Scythe

The first mechanical reapers were built by the Romans, but the technology was lost for centuries after the Empire fell. It resurfaced again in England in 1814, and by the 1830s there were at least two US companies making horse-drawn mechanical reapers. Most pioneers couldn’t afford a mechanical reaper though, so they harvested their crops the old-fashioned way – with a scythe. A scythe lets you cut standing crops easily and quite quickly, and can also be used for cutting hay, clearing weeds and general control of vegetation.  A specialized type called the cradle scythe adds long “fingers” to the handle, which catch the cut stalks so they can be easily stacked or laid out, but for general work around a small farm a traditional scythe is more flexible.  A sickle is a compact option that’s easier to transport but its short handle means you need to bend or crouch to cut, and that means it’s much slower and more tiring to use.

Flail

Once grain has been harvested you need some way to separate the actual grains from the husks. Doing it by hand is far too slow, so the traditional method was to use a flail. This is simply two sticks connected by a short chain; the harvested grain was piled up, and then repeatedly hit (“threshed”) with the flail until the husks fell away. A typical flail used for threshing wheat had a handle about five feet long and slightly over an inch thick, joined by a couple of inches of chain to a second stick about three feet long.

Separating grain with a flail is a labor-intensive job, but pioneer families used flails successfully to process their wheat crops and they were still in use by some farmers in the early 20th century. Threshing machines did exist, but they were out of reach for most early settlers in the West.

Metalworking

Anvil

An anvil is a huge, heavy, awkwardly shaped lump of steel. It’s one of the most difficult things you could possibly decide to take on a long journey West along rough tracks. Nevertheless, many pioneer wagons had an anvil on board – usually slung under the chassis, between the axles, so its massive weight didn’t tip the wagon over.

With an anvil and a forge you can repair or make a whole range of metal objects. The parts of a broken tool can be heated then beaten together, repeating the process until they’re welded into a solid piece again. Metal bars can be turned into anything from horseshoes to scythe blades or knives. The conical horn of an anvil lets a good smith shape metal into complex curves. Without an anvil – or modern power tools – it’s very hard to make anything useful out of metal.

Bellows

A forge needs a way to pump air through the burning charcoal. As long as you have that it isn’t hard to build a forge – you just need a shallow pit lined with fireproof material, usually brick. Modern forges usually use an electric blower to create a draft, and some older ones used a water wheel or even a treadmill to turn a fan, but most pioneers relied on a hand-pumped bellows. This is an uncomplicated device – two flat boards with handles, hinged to a nozzle at one end, with a one-way valve in one of the boards and a leather skirt connecting the two. Moving the handles apart draws in air through the valve; pushing them together again closes the valve then blasts a stream of air out the nozzle. A pioneer smith would put his metal workpiece in the forge then pump the bellows to raise the temperature. It’s simple, but very effective.

Tongs

If you’re working with heated metal you need a way to handle it. Even a heavy leather glove won’t protect against red-hot iron for long, so any pioneer who planned on doing some blacksmithing would take at least one pair of iron tongs. These were used to move metal in and out of the forge, and to hold it in place on the anvil while it was being worked. Blacksmith’s tongs are heavy and robust, as well as simple – usually they’re just two iron bars, drilled and hinged with a single bolt or massive rivet, and curved into jaws at one end. Iron conducts heat, but the handles were long enough that they could be safely held in a gloved hand.

Hammer

Metalworking needs a hammer, but the regular claw hammer in your toolkit isn’t really up to the job – and the heat from the work piece will gradually soften its striking face, too. For smithing a heavier hammer is needed – if the job is very large, maybe even a sledgehammer. Any serious metalwork project needs specialist hammers, and pioneers who tool an anvil west with them would have carried a few.

Files

There are some metal working jobs that don’t need a forge, but most of those need a file instead. With a good file metal can be ground down or reshaped. A broken knife can be remanufactured into a shorter one, or the edge on a worn plowshare touched up. Forged parts can be filed until they fit properly together. Almost every pioneer would have taken a set of files in assorted sizes and shapes – flat, round and half-round.

Household

Washboard

It’s easy to wash clothes when you have electricity, a domestic water supply and a modern washing machine. It’s much more work without them. Today we usually only hand—wash small, delicate items. The pioneers hand-washed everything, from dirty work clothes to bedding, and it was a time-consuming job. One tool that saved them a lot of time was the simple washboard. Now these usually have a wooden frame with a corrugated steel wash surface fitted into it; in the 19th century they were literally boards, with rounded wooden strips nailed or glued on to create the ribbed surface.

Washboards have disappeared from most homes, but that’s not because they don’t work – a washing machine is just simpler and takes less time. Washboards have real advantages though. They use much less water and they’re also easier on the clothes, which was important to pioneers; replacing worn-out clothes wasn’t so easy. Even today, soldiers on long operational tours often use washboards to help them keep their uniforms clean in isolated outposts with scarce water supplies.

Spinning wheel

Westerns often focus on cattle ranching, but a lot of the livestock raised by the pioneers was sheep. These were a valuable source of meat, but they were an even more valuable source of wool – and once wool had been harvested it was a lot cheaper to spin it into fibers at home than to ship it back east then buy manufactured garments coming the other way. Poor families might have used a distaff and spindle, simple tools for spinning by hand, but the spinning wheel was far more common. The textile industry had already replaced the spinning wheel with the jenny, beginning in northern England in the 1760s, but it was still a common and familiar tool. It could also be easily made by anyone who knew how it worked and was reasonably good at woodwork. With a wheel, pioneer women could produce thread and yarn from wool, cotton and just about any other fiber – and save a fortune on expensive clothes from the local store.

Iron

We iron our clothes to make them look smart. For the pioneers that didn’t matter so much most of the time, except for special occasions and visits to church if there was one nearby. Ironing had another function, though. Parasites were much more of a hazard in the 19th century, especially if you spent a lot of time outdoors and working around animals, and there wasn’t a range of safe, easy insecticides to get rid of them with. Ironing clothes – paying special attention to the seams – would destroy any flea or louse eggs that were concealed in them, helping to avoid infestations.

Electric irons were invented in 1884 but remained a luxury for decades more. The ones available to the pioneers were heavy items of cast iron, which could either be heated in a fire before use or had a hollow interior that could be filled with burning charcoal. They were heavy and crude, but almost indestructible and pretty effective.

Needles

Most people have a packet of needles around the house somewhere, for sewing on buttons and other minor repairs. The pioneers took needles with them, too, but they took more than a single packet and there was a lot more variety in what they carried. They also used them for minor repairs, and many made their own clothes, so standard sewing needles were essential. But they also relied heavily on horses for power, and that meant they needed all the leather gear that’s needed to get work out of a horse. Saddles, bridles and stirrups were needed for riding, and then there was all the harness needed to pull a wagon or a plow. Heavy saddler’s needles were needed to repair leather or to make replacements for small items, like straps – few people had the skills to make a full saddle on their own. Needles seem small and unimpressive, but they’re not easy to make and life on the frontier would have been very difficult without them.

Shotgun

Last but not least, there’s the trusty shotgun. Despite what Hollywood shows, the most common gun in the West was a simple double-barrel 12-gauge. It was a sturdy, relatively cheap weapon that was effective at defending against predators, could hunt a wide variety of game with the right ammunition, and outranged a handgun if it ever came to a fight. Few pioneer families were without one. The frontier wasn’t anywhere near as violent as fiction portrays it, and in fact it was less violent than most of the USA is today, but a good gun was a wise investment.

Today, when many of us have an array of power tools that can carry out a range of jobs quickly and precisely, the tools the pioneers relied on seem crude. In many ways they were – but they were also durable and effective. They didn’t wear out easily and could usually be repaired if something did go wrong. They didn’t need electricity to work; at most they needed a horse, and usually manpower alone was enough. These simple tools are what made the development of the American West possible. If society was to collapse tomorrow, modern versions of them – and the skills to use them properly – would make a massive difference to your chances of survival.


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Setting out for the frontier in the 19th century was nothing like moving to a new city today. You weren’t moving to a place with a fully developed infrastructure, where you

What are you prepping for? Is it a natural disaster like a wildfire, tornado or hurricane? Those are perfect examples of common events that occur every day. Nature has a way of dealing us unexpected circumstances from time to time and we, as humans try to roll with the situation as best we can. That is one of the benefits of prepping in that you are proactively planning for events, and the fallout of events now before you find yourself possibly affected by disaster. There are large and small examples of emergencies but prepping gives you a method of working through examples and making potentially lifesaving decisions all from the comfort of your computer or as in Sideliner’s case; the easy chair.

From a big-picture perspective we can look at regions where certain types of natural disasters are more common. If you live in areas where you have identified many potential risks as part of your prepping plan, some people advocate designing your own threat matrix. A threat matrix is really just a decision-making system where you assign a level of risk and probability to each disaster. This is supposed to help you decide which disaster is more likely or impactful to your life and thus should be worked on first. For example, California has routinely seen floods, earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires and you have to throw in the risk of blackouts, riots, nuclear fallout, and most recently drought. You could line all of these threats up on a page, assign them a number and a risk and start making plans accordingly. Now that I think of it, why would anyone want to live in California anyway?

As a resident of California, this might make sense because you have seen the first-hand effects of these disasters, but what if there was a different type of emergency that we haven’t really seen in this country before? What preparations would you make if you knew now that the FEMA tents weren’t going to be popping up, truckloads of relief supplies weren’t headed your way and that sooner or later scores of news media and Red Cross volunteers weren’t going to be descending on your town to document the devastation?

What would a WROL world look like?

WROL is a term that means Without Rule of Law. I don’t know who coined it first but it seems to accurately describe the worst type of scenario preppers imagine. A WROL world could spring up spontaneously or it could grow out of some relatively common natural disaster. To imagine a WROL world you would simply have to imagine no police, fire or ambulances coming to your aid. In a WROL world, you would be on your own or left with your band of friends and neighbors to provide for yourself all of the services that are now gone.

wrol2

We have seen brief glimpses of WROL already. What if it is not ever controlled?

If you look around you might have seen glimpses of a WROL world even if they are quickly controlled. Looting is an example of WROL behavior and so are riots. The two go hand in hand but the police rely on controlling the crowd to a large extent to keep these events from growing much larger than they are. If the police are not available or are overwhelmed, what happens then? When the rioters and looters don’t have any reason to stop the spread of rage and violence, what do they move on to next?

Imagine something as benign as the power grid failing for some arbitrary period. Let’s say a fluke takes out the power for the entire eastern seaboard for one month. This could be a terrorist caused outage, solar flare or some random chain of events that causes a domino effect of failures to equipment and systems. Imagine also that this happens in August and the east coast is also experiencing warmer than usual weather.

Without power, what could possibly happen in the US? Do you think riots would break out? Could you see looting of stores? Without power there would be no way to refrigerate food. You wouldn’t be able to pump gas, run credit card machines or ATM’s, air conditioners or ice makers. Cell towers would be ineffective. Would you be able to go to work? Not likely unless your job involved something manual that was completely not reliant on electricity or fuel. My job is 100% dependent on the internet and electricity. Public transportation would be down and even government services would be unable to help. So what would millions of hot, hungry and panicked people do?

What would you have to worry about in a WROL world?

Is this all a fairytale? Maybe. There are a lot of people who believe nothing bad like this will ever happen and that our way of life will keep on chugging along in more or less the same fashion it always has. I have said many times that I hope that is our shared reality, but I am planning for the chance that it doesn’t. My own threat matrix is my gut. You will find no shortage of people who say worrying about things like this is a waste of effort.

By very definition, WROL means there is law and order so normalcy is pretty much out the window. With a failure like this, there wouldn’t be enough police, National Guard or military combined to help everyone out. All of these soldiers, police, and firemen would have their own families to watch over most likely and I could see many of them if forced to choose between going to work stopping a riot or staying at home to defend their wife and kids would choose the latter. Again, there will be those who disagree and say that the professional soldier, police officer or fireman would never abandon their post and communities will rally together to take care of one another in times of crisis. Maybe when the crisis is over, but not while everyone is going through it.

st-louis-ink-tattoo

In the Ferguson riots, two shops were ignored by the looters. Can you guess why?

What can you do now to prepare for WROL?

My WROL scenario above is relatively short-lived. There have certainly been natural disasters where the destruction caused power outages for a long time. In my example, presumably, we would have half a country that could rally to help us but assume for a second help isn’t on the way. You are on your own for a month of potential lawlessness. Imagine a month of the Purge lived out in real life?

Limit your exposure

Who makes the best target? They guy right in front of you. If there is widespread violence being carried out in the name of rage or of need, stay far away from it. You don’t want to be anywhere near the chaos that is going on and it would be better to let it burn out as much as possible before it gets to you. In this case, bugging out may be your best option so have a plan for that contingency in your back pocket. In my scenario, you would have plenty of time to make that decision, but you should have prepping supplies together before the ability to acquire them has passed. This includes everything you need for food, water, shelter, security, and hygiene for a minimum of 6 months. Start small if you have to.

Use the buddy system

If you do have to travel or bug out, you don’t want to go it alone. Someone needs to be there to watch your six and potentially pull you out of trouble. In a without rule of law world, I foresee deadly force as being much more prevalent and warranted if your life is in danger. I am not saying to go out and shoot people walking down your street, but if they are threatening your life then you have a choice to make. It is better to consider this now as opposed to in the moment even though I realize and admit that thinking about killing someone is a lot different from actually pulling the trigger.

  • Neighborhood watch on Steroids
  • Thinking of your neighborhood from a tactical perspective
  • Coordinating a neighborhood response plan

Keep an eye out

If there is a real threat of violence in your neighborhood, you won’t be able to simply lock the door and hope they will go away. If you haven’t already, post-event you should form up with your neighbors immediately to draw up plans for security and address any needs of anyone in your local group. Whatever you did or didn’t do before the event will need to go out the window if you want to survive. It takes more than one person to stand guard all night.

Arm yourself responsibly

And legally. I am a big advocate of responsible firearm ownership. This assumes you have the training and knowledge of how and when you should discharge that firearm in the course of defending your life. It has been said that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and I believe that. Just make sure you are the good guy in this situation.

A WROL world is what I envision as a mixture of a war zone and a mad-max movie rolled all into your favorite disaster flick. Essentially, I never want to go through anything like this but if something this catastrophic comes your way, you better make sure you have a plan and you are ready to go.

What are you prepping for? Is it a natural disaster like a wildfire, tornado or hurricane? Those are perfect examples of common events that occur every day. Nature has a