Saturday, December 31, 2011

One last entry in the Safecastle Freedom Award

2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards -- a "New Media" Survivalist Contest

We have time to squeeze in one last entry in the Safecastle Freedom Awards writing contest. We'll read through the entries and select a winner to send to the Safecastle folks. The rules for writing are posted here. The Safecastle website is here.

Just FYI, the contest prizes were modified due to poor economic conditions. You can see the modifications here.

But our prizes remain the same! To wit:

10 Rural Revolution laser-engraved tankards for the top 10 entries!

Now to our last contestant...

Modern Day Pioneer by Jennifer

Unlike traditional careers, a survivalist does not need to attend one university course to become skilled. The training required is not even the same from one survivalist to the other and the reasons why one has opted to become a survivalist range drastically from the worries of a rogue government to preparing to handle any natural disaster. Most people have food, shelter or clothing but few appreciate how these items are obtained. A survivalist has learned how to take life to the next level by being able to provide the basics and more.

What is unsaid is that one can survive a catastrophic event and thus become a survivalist. This is how life changed for me, as I became a survivor that augmented my life to one of survivalist. The transition was not overnight, but of several years in the making. I became a survivor not as a result of defeating all odds and living through a natural disaster, but of something so small that aside from my husband and children no one else’s lives were impacted. You see many do not realize that a survivalist prepares for anything to include something so miniscule that it did not make a ripple in the world aside from the impacted persons.

I came in the back door and crept in slowly. This is why I know that anyone can become a prepared survivalist, anywhere, anytime, any way. The cliché sounds hollow but it is true, if I can do it so can you. Time slowed to zero speed as I lived through the crisis and I was able to think years in the future with panic, dread, fear, and worry. We lost our very secure life and went from being suburbanites to nothing in a blink. Well more like on a thousand foot of highway off the beaten path in Nevada. Auto accidents happen every day all over the world and that is how I launched into living the life I live now.

I did not begin without first doing a few things. I knelt down and prayed. I knew I was completely broken, afraid and downright scared. Once I prayed, I rolled up my sleeves and planned. Until January 1, 2005 I never considered any life aside from the one of climbing the ladder of success. After January 1, 2005 my perspective drastically changed. I first decided if my loved ones were alive then I could go on. In fact, I sometimes would gasp for air in a panic and have a few times over the years as my reality was that my husband had died. Well that is what I was first told when the young officer came to the front door. The initial reports were wrong and Bill survived but he sustained neck and back injuries. As a result of that day my family is completely and forever changed.

Because of the accident we had to adapt to living far less than half of the income we had previously enjoyed, and without any benefits. So my lists making days began. I wondered first, what can go and realized we had to go. We moved as we could no longer afford to live in a neighborhood and region of the country that was so expensive. Secondly, we wanted to be able to have a small piece of land, as I recalled my childhood and growing up in rural Ohio and knew we could garden and ‘put up’ foods. I had no idea what that meant, but decided that if we wanted food to continue to feed the family that I would learn.

As a survivalist in training I discovered the public library. I was so used to buying a book when I wanted information I had forgotten that the world is truly a book away, and everything was free for the reading! I checked out many books and began my journey into becoming a self-reliant survivalist. I started first reading about how to sew things for the home, and this project lead to the next and the next. I have learned how to can, dehydrate, pickle, butcher, make soap, shampoo, deodorant, household cleaners, dog food, feed sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and of course build simple sustainable buildings for our farm. I guess now is a good time to mention I am barely 5 foot tall.

What this means is that in any situation I am armed with something that will not be taken away in floodwaters, or lifted away in a tornado. I armed myself with the ability to survive any situation by learning how to grow, preserve, and put aside food for the future. I armed myself with skills seemingly lost a generation ago, as I opened my yard up to chickens and learned everything those that settled our nation knew. My research truly has been a hands on field study and I am no longer afraid of tomorrow. I’ve found myself reflecting upon those sturdy pioneers that settled the great American west in the 19th century. Often the settlers were alone and had to improvise for every need they had, and I realized that in a few short years I had become like those that have walked before me. The realization was one of confidence but more of humility as I really appreciate the effort it takes to be self-sufficient.

I confess that coming in the back door as a survivalist was not my choice, but I am forever grateful that I was shaken into the common sense of preparing without losing my husband of now almost 24 years. As I sit and type my thoughts on being prepared, becoming a survivalist and living life as a prepper, I must calmly remind anyone who is new to this idea, that all is well. Start small, read as much as you can, build up what you can do and you will have taken your survival to the next level, and for that I say “Welcome Aboard!”

She's a Great Pyrenees

I wanted to put some appropriately pretty scenery shot in the masthead of this blog after removing the photo of the Christmas tree, but frankly the scenery right now isn't too pretty. Like much of the rest of the country, we have no snow... so everything is looking rather brown and boring.

So instead I put a photo of Lydia up there since, as all my regular readers know, I'm cuckoo about my dog.

For new readers who aren't familiar with her, Lydia is a purebred Great Pyrenees who came to us through some tear-jerker circumstances. We had to put our beloved Pyrenees / Irish Wolfhound cross, Gypsy, down after only six years due to lymphoma. I was heartbroken. But thanks to the wonderful kindness of some folks at a place called Agape Ranch, Lydia came into our lives.

She's sort of become the unofficial mascot of our farm at this point because so many readers see her all the time!

Eggnog without alcohol

I love eggnog. The store-bought stuff is so thick that I generally cut it in half with milk, so I prefer homemade eggnog. Trouble is, literally every recipe I found for homemade eggnog presumes you wanted the stuff spiked to the nth degree. After a long search, I finally found an eggnog recipe that didn't include alcohol.

In reference to my post on making homemade Irish cream, a reader asked, "I have quit drinking alcohol, but when I used to, I loved Bailey's. I am wondering if there's a way to make it without the vodka?" (First of all, my sincerest kudos for quitting drinking!)

Unfortunately I don't know how it would be possible to make Irish cream without the vodka (or whiskey or whatever other hard liquor). The reason for this is the recipe contains raw eggs. When you mix raw eggs with hard alcohol, there is a chemical process which denatures the egg proteins. When you cook eggs, the egg proteins are also denatured (that's what turns egg whites "white" when cooking). So essentially adding alcohol "cooks" the raw eggs. It just takes longer, which is why homemade Irish cream must ripen for a week before drinking.

So as a delicious and non-alcoholic alternative to Irish cream, I thought I would post a recipe for homemade non-alcoholic eggnog which should satisfy everyone's sweet'n'creamy tooth.

I would post photos, but I haven't made this since I stopped milking Matilda. I had so much cream and milk from her that I often made eggnog to use up some of the excess. By the way, eggnog is now associated exclusively with Christmas, but if you're familiar with Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you'll remember that eggnog used to be considered a refreshing drink for a hot summer's day.

Non-Alcoholic Eggnog
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons rum extract (I skip this ingredient)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whipping cream, beaten until stiff

Beat eggs, sugar, and salt in top of a double boiler. Add milk. Mix and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture barely coats a metal spoon. Chill.

After eggnog has cooled, stir in rum extract and nutmeg. Fold in stiffly-beaten whipping cream.

That's it! It's very fast to make (except for however long it takes to chill the eggnog). The only thing that's funny about this recipe is it separates, virtually instantly. Before pouring it from the container into a glass, you'll have to give it a good shake... and then probably have to shake it again before pouring into a second glass. It's also a lot "thinner" than store-bought eggnog, but I like it better that way.

But it's wonderful! Younger Daughter absolutely loves this stuff and begs me to make it whenever we have excess from our cows.


Friday, December 30, 2011

One more entry in the Safecastle Freedom Award

2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards -- a "New Media" Survivalist Contest

Here's another entry in the Safecastle Freedom Awards writing contest. We're trying to get them all posted by the end of tomorrow, then we'll submit the winner to the Safecastle folks. The rules for writing are posted here. The Safecastle website is here.

Just FYI, the contest prizes were modified due to poor economic conditions. You can see the modifications here.

But our prizes remain the same! To wit:

10 Rural Revolution laser-engraved tankards for the top 10 entries!

If you'd still like to send in your original essay or video on self-sufficiency, survivalism, or prepping -- there's still time!

Now to our next contestant...

Preparedness for Young People

“I’m fifteen years old and I’m worried about the future, but my parents don’t seem to notice how bad things are getting out there, and I can’t convince them.”

All over, young people are waking up to the precarious state of the world in which we live, yet are still living at home under their parents’ authority, and those parents do not agree that it’s important to be prepared. So I am writing this article to you, young people who want to prepare yourselves. What can you do to be prepared at this stage of your life?

I’ll start by telling you what preparedness means to me. Preparedness is being adaptable and resourceful, keeping oneself and those who are precious to one safe and happy.

I suggest to you that whatever your plans are, they should include your family. We need our families and they need us. So realistically speaking, your first option should not be to grab your bug-out bag and disappear, leaving your family behind to face whatever comes. Your family members can be your greatest assets, even though they may not look like it right now, and you can be theirs.

If you are hitting a brick wall when you talk with your parents about preparedness, it could be because they do not think “normal” people are prepared, that it’s only for weirdo extremists. If that’s the case, tell them the government wants them to be prepared! Show them the website It’s sponsored by the Federal government and explains why and how to prepare. It’s a nice, mainstream, non-weirdo-extremist source of information.

Take every opportunity to learn survival skills. Learn to light a fire, to pitch a tent, to hike through a valley without leaving any sign that you passed. Learn to break camp in silence. Learn archery. How do you find a teacher for skills like these if your parents are not interested? The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are wonderful programs for learning things that you can keep with you always, in your head. No scout troups in your area? Getting a little too old for that? - Get a Boy Scouts manual, it has the same instruction you’d get as an actual scout, though you’ll have to practice on your own. Then there are wonderful books out there to teach you more. Search “how to become an outdoorsman” on Google and you’ll find books, on-line courses, even college extension courses to teach you.

Make sure to involve your parents in this. They should know what you’re doing, and who you are doing it with. Set their minds at ease by being up front with them so that they don’t fear for your safety. It’s what we do, we parents; we fear for our kids’ safety. It’s hardwired into us. But if you tell us what’s going on and we don’t feel like you are sneaking around or tricking us, we feel much more at ease.

Once you have gained skills, see if your parents will allow you to teach them. Offer and see what they say. Your family’s financial resources are probably already committed somewhere, so try to suggest ideas that do not require a big outlay of funds, like a day spent hiking at a nearby park, with everybody carrying part of a picnic lunch, to start things off.

In the survivalist world, you will hear a lot about stockpiling food against future scarcity. It’s one of the easier ways to begin preparation and is where a lot of people start. But your funds are limited, and you do not have the right to insist that the family set aside a chunk of the family food budget OR the storage space in the home for food preps.

Here are some things you CAN do. First, change how you eat. If you are saying “This family really needs to eat more rice and beans because you can store them long term,” but you are consuming all the snack foods your parents can bring home, and you complain when nobody puts more soda pop in the fridge and you have to drink it warm, you are sending mixed messages. If you are asking for and eating fruits, vegetables, and, yes, rice and beans, then you are showing that you are willing to make changes.

Teaching people works much better if you show them how to do things and not just tell. So show that prep style food can taste good. Try making a meal of Spanish rice and refried beans. I’ll get you started: In a pan with a lid, mix 1 cup of rice, ½ cup of salsa and 1-1/2 cups of water. Put on the lid and turn on the heat to medium first, then down to low in a few minutes when the steam starts coming out. Meanwhile, in another pan, mix 2 cans of refried beans with a little bit of water and heat it up. Warm up some corn tortillas (or better yet, make some yourself, but that’s a lesson for another day). When the rice has cooked for about 10 minutes, take the lid off and give it a stir. If most of the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and put the lid back on for another 3 minutes or so. If there is still quite a bit of liquid, keep the heat on for another few minutes and check again. When it’s cooked, serve up the rice, beans and tortillas with some more salsa. This is a tasty, wholesome meal, and all of it can be made easily with foods that most preppers consider good storage foods. Next week, try another meal that you can make that’s delicious, healthy and prep friendly.

Once you have gained your family’s confidence, they may be more willing to allow you to make some choices on what food the family buys at the grocery. At that point, you can suggest buying larger quantities of foods to save money. Teach your parents to store the food properly (if it goes bad and is wasted, it was not a good deal in the first place).

Another area of preparation is your career. You have a lot of choice in what you do for a living as long as you keep your options wide open as a young person. There are not too many careers I can think of that will be completely useless after “the end of the world as we know it” - maybe politics! - but certainly some are going to be more needed than others. People will always need medical care, homes, food, and good water. They will always need to learn, and they will always need beauty to inspire them. Think in terms of what you can do that will improve other people’s lives as your career, and you will always be needed.

I’ll wrap this up with a five-part challenge for you. Each of these is a useful preparation tool. My challenge is for you to find:
  • One place you and your loved ones agree to meet if there is a crisis, in case your home is damaged or compromised
  • Two sources of clean water that do not depend on turning a tap
  • Three ways to start a fire using just what you have on your body at any time
  • Four kinds of food growing wild that you could obtain within an hour’s walking, gathering or hunting time
  • Five different routes to get home from your school or place of work
Sometimes the world looks like it could fall apart tomorrow. But chances are, it won’t; people have been thinking things can’t possibly get any worse for centuries, yet time continues on. In other words, be ready for the worst AND the best. You may be around to have a career and a home and a family. You may even be around to see your grandkids. So while you are thinking of how to be ready should the power grid fail, or for there to be no food available at the stores or for martial law to be declared or for pandemic or any other disaster you can imagine, keep doing what you need to do in case it holds off for a year or two or five or more. Learn all the skills you can, and practice them. Take the ACT or the SAT and apply for college. Get a summer job and save some money. Become an excellent driver. Be healthy. Exercise. Have fun. Keep yourself and your friends safe. Not one of these things will hurt you if society goes down the toilet - and each of them will help you if it doesn’t.

You will be 18 soon and then your choices will open up wider. Until then, do what you can within the bounds of what a young person can and should do within his or her family constraints. Learn. Your sharpest tool can be your mind.

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

The technical difficulty we're experiencing is the stomach flu, which we're passing around and around. Last night was my turn. Gotta get my WND column finished and then I'm heading for bed.

Poor Lydia had no idea why we kept darting into the bathroom and yelling (retching) at the toilet. One confused dog!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yet another entry in the Safecastle Freedom Award

2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards -- a "New Media" Survivalist Contest

Don had been in charge of posting entries in the Safecastle Freedom Awards writing contest, but he's been super-dooper busy lately so he forwarded the entries to me. We need to have all entries posted by the end of the year, then we'll submit the winner to the Safecastle folks. The rules for writing are posted here. The Safecastle website is here.

Just FYI, the contest prizes were modified due to poor economic conditions. You can see the modifications here.

But our prizes remain the same! To wit:

10 Rural Revolution laser-engraved tankards for the top 10 entries!

If you'd still like to send in your original essay or video on self-sufficiency, survivalism, or prepping -- there's still time!

Now to our next contestant...

Water, Water, Everywhere? Options for a Secondary Water Source by K.M.

You don’t need to be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to know that clean water is a basic necessity for healthy human life.

Many of us depend on our municipality or rural water district to provide water to our homes. Where these are not available, each home may have its own water well.

But what if municipal service was interrupted? What if the electricity to run the pump in your well was suddenly cut off? How would you meet your basic water needs if your primary water source was eliminated?

The oft-repeated rule of thumb is that each person needs one gallon of water per day to survive. Most people adhere to this rule when preparing a 72-hour kit or stocking a storm shelter for their families. But what if water service was disrupted for longer? There’s no way to store enough water to sustain a typical family for an indefinite amount of time. And that one-gallon-per-day rule only accounts for drinking water. If a real, large-scale emergency happened (think national) and basic services such as water and power were offline, you would need a backup water source.

If you live near a lake, river, or even a small creek or stream, that is one option. The water will need to be filtered before drinking, cooking, or washing dishes. Depending on what you suspect might be in the water (for instance, chemicals from an industrial facility upstream), you may even want to filter water before use in a garden. There are many options for filtering water, and I leave it to the reader to do his own research.

If you live in a highly populated area, consider that most of the people near you will utilize that same lake, river or creek. How long will that water source last? Are there people farther upstream (or downstream) that will be counting on that water, too? And without services like sewer and garbage pickup, what will get thrown into that water?

If you’re confident that you can adequately filter any water collected from a surface source, you can also augment it with captured rainwater (filtered for consumption, of course). Cut off the bottom portion of your gutter and set a barrel or other collection container underneath it. You’ll be surprised at how much water a roof sheds during a good thunderstorm. And you’ll be happy for the reprieve from hauling water up from the creek!

If you live in an area where groundwater is accessible, another option is a well with an electricity-free pump. Both hand-operated pumps and solar pumps are available. Solar pumps are the more expensive option, of course. Dedicated solar panels can be set up for the pump, or in some cases, you may be able to wire the pump to solar panels on your house. However, most solar-operated pump packages do not include a battery, which means you’ll only be able to operate the pump when the sun is shining or the solar panels have not yet lost their charge. Furthermore, solar panels must be kept clean (and in good repair) in order to maintain high performance.

Hand pumps are more economically priced, for obvious reasons. But they are not necessarily the lesser of the two options. Water is available from a hand-pumped well any time, day or night. Some pumps have the option to adjust the “stroke,” or how much pressure is needed to operate the pump. A smaller stroke means less physical force is necessary, so children or elderly people would be able to operate it. A larger stroke means more force is needed, but it also produces more water per stroke. Hand pumps typically come in two sizes: shallow-well and deep-well. If the depth to groundwater from the surface is less than 25 feet, you may be able to use a shallow-well pump, at a significant cost savings compared to a deep-well pump.

In many areas, a permit is necessary to drill a well. You will need to make inquiries with municipal as well as state authorities where you live to see what is required. Typically, though, less regulation is placed on wells designated for landscape, cattle or irrigation use than on wells designated as a primary drinking water source.

Groundwater may appear to be “clean” at first glance. But contaminants at the surface can leach through the soil and enter the groundwater. Additionally, some naturally occurring minerals and metals—arsenic, for example—can be harmful to humans as well. A good idea, after installing a well, is to collect a water sample and take it to a certified lab for testing. Before doing this, you might want to do some research on the geology in your area. Pay attention to what elements are naturally occurring. Also, look for scientific research conducted locally by the USGS or area colleges and universities. You may find information on naturally occurring contaminants, as well as any man-made debacle that might have affected the groundwater where you live. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about what to have the lab test for.

As you might expect, it’s not cheap to have a well drilled. (It’s possible to drill your own well, but not easy). Depending on the local geology and the depth to groundwater, expect to spend $4,000 or more. Also, consider if there is access to your property for the drilling equipment (is your back yard surrounded on all sides by other homes?), as well as whether you want a drilling rig driving across your manicured yard. Even the concrete in your driveway is probably not rated to support a 20-ton (or heavier) truck. But then, yards can be repaired or re-landscaped. Even concrete driveways can be replaced. In a world without basic infrastructure services, a secondary water source is better than money in the bank.

Say your prayers!

Here's a hilarious video clip a reader sent about dogs saying grace before meals. Woof!

Christmas at our house

Many years ago, shortly after moving to Idaho, Don made an observation right after Thanksgiving: "It's a shame you spend so much time cooking, since you don't really get a break." The context of that remark was how much time "off" I would get at Christmas if I'm cooking so much.

Well based on that conversation, one thing led to another and before we knew it we had a new Christmas tradition: a junk food feast.

That's right, junk food. That category of nutritionally useless stuff seldom enters our house, and so the girls enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to indulge in all the forbidden goodies they seldom get. For three days -- Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day -- a feast of junk is spread on the table, there are no restrictions or limitations (Potato chips for breakfast? Go for it!), and no one has to ask Mom for permission. I think the kids look forward to the junk food feast more than they do their presents. (Maybe.)

At the end of three days everyone is sick and tired of Doritos and longs for a salad. But for a little while it's a lot of fun. Here are the goodies, waiting patiently for Christmas Eve.

This is the time of year I make homemade Irish cream as gifts for friends and neighbors. (Here's the instructions, if anyone's interested.)


Adding vodka.

Ready to bottle.

Washing bottles.

Filling the bottles.

End results. Plenty to share with friends.

Meanwhile, on our last trip to the city before Christmas, we had an obligation to fill: a ten-gallon fish tank for Younger Daughter. This wasn't a Christmas present, this was her reward for memorizing the Declaration of Independence. (We decided to wait until after Christmas on Older Daughter's reward, to see if the price comes down. She gets two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.)

We got Younger Daughter a tank kit with pump, filter, etc.

Oh my is she thrilled with it! We'll get a few more accouterments (plants, fish, etc.) after Christmas.

Don and I wrapped presents for the girls, as well as for neighbors who would be joining us on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve Eve (Dec. 23), I spent the whole day making fried apple pies to give to non-drinking friends and neighbors.

(I also had to write, edit, and submit my WND column.)

Since I "six-tupled" the fried pie dough recipe, rolling out and cutting the pies took most of the day. I ended up borrowing a neighbor's marble rolling pin since I needed more weight than my wooden one.

I ended up with 75 or 80 pie shells.

In the evening while I was frying the pies...

...we were treated to some carolers!

Fried pies, done. Each cookie sheet has two layers of nine or ten pies each. These got divvied up and wrapped for various neighbors.

I reclaimed the extra oil in the pans by filtering it through a paper towel.

Meanwhile the girls were impatient for Christmas Eve morning to arrive so they could spread out the junk food feast. I woke up early, as usual, and found a container of cashews on the counter with this little note from Don: "It was after midnight." I thought it was hilarious.

In the wee hours before it got light outside, I folded all the laundry since I knew the table would be in use after that.

The girls got up early, put away the clothes, and spread out the tablecloth...

...then -- at last! -- they could put out the feast.

We had some brief -- I emphasize brief -- snow flurries during the day, so technically it could be classified as a white Christmas. In reality, though, it was more like a brown Christmas.

Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day, is our day of celebration. Guests started arriving in the afternoon, but we had to pause and feed the beasties first. Don adopted festive garb. We always feed the animals extra well on Christmas Eve because legend has it livestock are granted the gift of speech on Christmas, and if you don't treat them well they'll spread the news.

The sun went down in a blaze of glory.

Ironically the livestock are eating from what could technically be called a manger.

We had two couples join us for opening gifts. Both couples have children grown and living far away, so they enjoy being with our kids.

Don always starts out by reading from Luke 2, from the Bible that used to belong to his father (now deceased).

After that, he distributes presents one by one.

No rushing this part!

There were presents for everyone.

It's so much fun having friends join us!

The party ended early enough that we could get to the candlelit service at our church. We're still gathering in the basement since the sanctuary is still unusable after the church fire.

And that was our celebration. Christmas Day is usually very quiet, and was even quieter this year since poor Older Daughter came down with the stomach flu, bad enough that she had to skip church and could enjoy none of the junk food feast. (We saved some goodies for her.) Ah well, overall we're blessed beyond compare with good health and with each other.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another entry in the Safecastle Freedom Award

2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards -- a "New Media" Survivalist Contest

Don had been in charge of posting entries in the Safecastle Freedom Awards writing contest, but he's been super-dooper busy lately so he forwarded the entries to me. We need to have all entries posted by the end of the year, then we'll submit the winner to the Safecastle folks. The rules for writing are posted here. The Safecastle website is here.

Just FYI, the contest prizes were modified due to poor economic conditions. You can see the modifications here.

But our prizes remain the same! To wit:

10 Rural Revolution laser-engraved tankards for the top 10 entries!

If you'd still like to send in your original essay or video on self-sufficiency, survivalism, or prepping -- there's still time!

Now to our next contestant...

Anyone Can Start Prepping Today by Lynette

If only I had been prepping those 15 years instead of just dreaming about it. Maybe then I wouldn’t have failed so miserably when I finally owned my own property. Now that I live the prepper’s life, I understand how much I could have been doing while I still lived in the city. So what can city people do to prep? Just about anything they want to.

The most important tool in prepping is knowledge followed closely by experience and equipment. In our society, we purchase everything but know little about how to provide these things for ourselves. Prepper’s have an inner need to learn all we can in providing for ourselves and to prepare for The End Of the World As We Know It. TEOWAWKI may never happen to the whole world at once, but it certainly happens on a small scale all the time. If your home burns down and everything familiar to you is gone, your world as you have known it to date has just ended. Major disasters can level whole neighborhoods creating TEOWAWKI to large groups of people.

If you find yourself in a position where you’ve lost everything, your knowledge is all you have left. No matter where you live you can gain knowledge. Once you’ve learned it, practice it. Experience takes you to a whole new level of understanding. Part of prepping is accepting you can’t do it all by yourself, it will take many people and skills to help in an emergency, so anything you contribute is valuable.

Prepping can be as simple as learning how to cook or bake without electricity, though, you will learn that ‘simple’ is a relative term. You can train yourself on open fires, Dutch ovens, solar ovens, a wood stove or an earthen stove. Then if your neighborhood is out of power, your family will still be able to enjoy a nice meal.

It’s never too early to learn how to grow your own food. Get yourself a flowerpot or dig up a corner of your yard and see what you can sprout. Gardening requires knowledge of the nutrients, light, temperature, soil and moisture needed for different types of plants. Even a small garden will provide you with a world of information. Sunflowers, for example, come in many sizes, are beautiful, fun to grow, a great food crop and easy to harvest and store.

Storing food is an amazing science. There are many methods to learn; cold house storage, root cellaring, canning, dehydrating, salting, pickling and even brewing alcohol. Some foods need to be stored in a warm dry area, and others need cold and damp.

When it comes to livestock, many cities allow small livestock in the back yard: rabbits, poultry and bees to name a few. You don’t need to move to a rural setting, many suburban areas have property zoned for livestock. Raising livestock in small quantities can teach you all the basics. Are you a horse lover? Do you realize how important horses will become if we don’t have gas for our tractors or transportation? By the way, learn how to compost that manure because it’s currency when dealing with gardeners and it’s great for your lawn too.

Hunting is a perfectly respectable sport no matter what you may hear otherwise. It’s also far more complex than it may first appear to a novice. You need to understand each species behavior in order to track them down with different weapons and ammunition required for different types of animals. Many hunters are also weapons collectors, which provides protection for your family. So you get four great benefits in one hobby - hunting, collecting, protection and food; seven benefits if you count butchering, meat storage and cooking. This is an excellent example of how everything you learn and every item you acquire adds on to the whole picture.

Nobody likes the idea of washing clothes by hand, but a washboard and clothes wringer are only meaningless until you need them, at which point they become priceless; as do items such as manual clocks, rain water collection containers, matches or lighters and pots for use on open fires.

Metal working? Sure. There’s always a need for metal tools and repairs. Learn how to work metal the old fashioned way with a forge. After 20 years as a metal smith, my husband still loves learning new techniques.

Pottery is fun, interesting and useful. You can learn how to dig up clay from the ground and use different types of soil. Build your own small outdoor kiln with earth and learn how to make beautiful pottery as our ancestors did.

Communication is something we take for granted today, but in an emergency when standard communications are down, we will all be flocking to those who do have it. Ham radio operators, old-fashioned CB radios, and even simple long-range walkie-talkies will be in big demand. Of course, you may need alternative sources of energy to operate these devices, so maybe there’s another avenue for you to investigate.

Own a boat? How is it powered? In some emergencies, boats are the only vehicle we can use to rescue people and to travel. Your boat can also help fisherman feed people (and you). Building a boat would be invaluable knowledge to have, and a fun hobby for a craftsman. Speaking of craftsmen, how many of you have non electric tools?

As you look into doing things on your own, the more you will understand how little you know. You could learn to sew without electricity. Learn how to identify different types of rocks and their uses. Extracting iron ore from a rock would be an impressive thing to see even in today’s modern setting. Learn to purify water, build your own tools, make your own glue, tan your own leather or weave your own baskets. You can buy raw wool and learn how to work it, you don’t need to own the livestock. Learn to identify or grow types of plants useful in the production of cloth and how to process each. Learn how to farm fish in a tank or small pond and feed your family in the process. What about first aid? Make your own medicinal oils and tonics from herbs. Did you know honey, sugar or salt can hold off an infection on an open wound? Are you catching on? Nobody can learn it all, we each have to pick and choose what to work on through our own interests, but all knowledge is useful.

Contrary to modern thought, recycling wasn’t invented by man, it’s been the norm since the dawn of our planet. Prepper’s are some of the best recyclers around because we are learning from past generations when recycling was necessary for survival. When butchering, use the fat of the animal for cooking, lighting or soap, the hooves for glue, and the bones as nutrients in the garden after the dogs are done with them. Nothing goes to waste. Gardening requires composting old plant matter to improve next year’s garden soil. We know the benefits of all types of manure in growing our food. Even paper trash can be used for heating or fed to the worms to make compost. Excess worms are fed to the chickens or used for fishing. The ash from our fires makes lye for our soap and yet even more garden nutrients.

Without electricity where will you get your light? Candles and oil lamps work great. Did you know cooking oil or lard can be used for light? What about making your own tin or glass lanterns? On top of that you could learn how to make wicks for each type. How about making your own glass from sand and even the forge to heat it?

Start with what interests you most, there’s no wrong direction. Anything you learn now will serve you and your loved ones in ways you can’t even imagine. You may even stumble upon a hobby that makes you some extra money in the process. The more you research, the more you’ll learn, so give it a try and see where it leads you. I guarantee you’ll never regret having the knowledge when you need it most.

If TEOWAWKI happens even on a small scale, there will be people needing all kinds of help and you won’t be the person panicking, you’ll be the one working on your area(s) of expertise to provide aid to others. Doing something when you feel like you have nothing helps you to feel a little bit more human and gives others hope. Even if you’ve lost everything, the knowledge you’ve gained will help you start over. If you know how to start a fire with sticks, no disaster can ever take that away from you. With prepper’s, knowledge is one of our greatest tools for survival. It’s also security, empowerment and a great way to make friends.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve at the gas station

Sniff honnnnkkkk.....

Get some tissue, this is a good one. A friend sent it.

Christmas Eve at the Gas Station

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly," George said. He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister, can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new tires." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered that the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on. "Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside. Beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area." George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time you’re gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop. "We got one too many in here now." He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of a squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee," the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You okay?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran." George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems." George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need." George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. "And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the homeless stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save nineteen people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room. "You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Twin beacons of faith and freedom..."

Here's an interesting video clip I came across. It shows Ronald Reagan's Christmas (not "holiday," Christmas) address in 1981. Oh my goodness, can you imagine ANY president being able to get away with saying this stuff nowadays? Not that our current president would get anywhere close...