Monthly Archives: January 2012

Starting a Garden

So you want to start a garden?  Where do you start?

Gardening has become one of my favorite things to do at home or any where.  To start a seed, nourish it and have something wonderful to eat from it is just a miracle to me.  Gardening allows you to be in touch with something greater than yourself.  The knowledge we do not know about the soil would fill a whole library.  We do know that plants need sun, water and nutrients.  There is not much we can do about the sun other than to have the plants have access to it.  Water is an easy one.  Just turn on the hose and away you go.  Soil is the big one.  No matter how you get started you will need to have good soil.  I am not an expert on soil building so I went down to the nursery and bought some soil and put it in my raised beds.

If you are hesitant about starting a garden  and do not want to make a raised bed then you can use containers.  Just buy a couple of containers and put in some potting soil and add the plant and away you go.  I would encourage you to start some sort of raised bed.  A 4 x 4 is a good size to start.  Fill the bed with soil and start planting.  You can either plant seedlings or seed, whichever you prefer.  Do not worry about if you fail, because you will.  Sometimes things just do not work out.  The plant could be int the wrong place, too much sun, not enough sun, disease, frost, all types of variables will come into play.  It is important you start and learn from your experience.

Deutsch: Bundesgartenschau 2009 - Hochbeete vo...

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The food you raise will be of much higher nutrition and taste better.  We love to grow lettuce.  We found when we cut lettuce it keeps about three to four weeks in the fridge where store-bought lettuce keeps about a week.

Taking control of your food is the most empowering thing you can doo.  Do not become overwhelmed.  Start small.  Increase when you have either more time or more knowledge.  Join a CSA(community supported agriculture) if you don’t not have enough time.  You can go and see their operation.  Visit farmers markets.  You may not be able to grow a cow on your land but you can sure buy the benefit of grass-fed beef.

Try to plant some perennials rather than just annuals.  With perennials you do the work up front for a greater pay off down the road.  We have a pear tree that produces a 55 gallon drum worth of pears every year.  We have to give away most of them since we can’t use them all.  By having extra we are also forming community.  You will be amazed how many of your neighbor will become or are interested in gardening if you just talk about it or give some of your extra to them, even zucchini.

What are you planting this year?

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

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The myth of fried food

I wanted to comment on an article in The Telegraph entitled “Fried food heart risk a myth”.

“Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Before we all reach for the frying pan it’s important to remember that this was a study of a Mediterranean diet, rather than British fish and chips.”

Of course it is about diet.  The title is misleading.  It is always about diet.  The fact that they use olive or sunflower oil is of less consequence than their overall diet.  Olive and sunflower oils are probably cheaper or more available due to the climate they live in.

“A well-balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and veg and only a small amount of high fat foods, is best for a healthy heart.”

What about some meat in there lady.  Have you ever tried to eat only fruits and vegetables.  I am hungry in about twenty minutes.  Mix in a nice piece of chicken or a steak.   Protein and fat lead to a feeling of satiety.  Look if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, it is the body’s ability to convert all those extra carbs into fat that is the problem.  Decrease all the crap you are eating and eat more natural food.  I believe we should treat food as if we grew it or our neighbors grew it.  It should be minimally processed and be as natural as possible.  It should taste good without adding much of anything to it.

I plan on doing a post in the future about what I see as optimal nutrition.  But for the time being I will say according to Michael Pollan, “eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables’”  We need to start eating more like humans and less like feed cattle.

Establishing a Neighborhood Watch

I attended a neighborhood watch meeting last. I wanted to present what took place and the things we can do to improve security in our neighborhoods.  I will write about vehicle burglaries, home burglaries and drug activity.  These are the most common things that occur in my neighborhood.

English: Neighborhood watch sign in Jefferson ...

When starting a neighborhood watch program it is important to have a block captain.  This person disseminates the information from the police to the neighborhood.  They will need whatever information you can give them to be able to do this.

Vehicle Burglaries

Vehicle burglaries are quick and hard to find the perpetrator.  Since they occur so quickly the car owner has to take more precautions.

What to do?

  • Lock doors.  I know this sounds obvious, but the majority of burglaries took place when the doors are unlocked.  Criminals want an easy score.
  • Put anything that looks like it might be of value out of sight.  This includes ipods, cd players, phones, any electronic.  Do not forget things like make up bags, sunglass cases, small wallet type holders.  I know you may think there is nothing of value in there, but you do not want a criminal thinking there is something in there, break your window and you are left to clean up the mess, pay for the window and have to replace your items.
  • Do not keep anything in the trunk unless it is ok that it is stolen.  Try not to put things of value in the trunk.  I know you may have to, but realize there are people that will watch you take your valuables out of your car and put them in the trunk. When you leave they just open the front door pop the trunk and take what you put in there.

Home burglaries

Most take place between 6 am and 6 pm.  That’s right.  During the day.  They watch you get in your car,  take your kids to school and go to work only to leave your house with no one home for the whole day.

What to do and how to prevent?

  • In our city you need a permit to solicit door to door.  This was something I did not know.  The police officer also said that there were no permits given out in the last 2 years.  Great knowledge since we seem to have perpetual solicitors in the summer.
  • Someone wandering around the neighborhood with a backpack.  Since I live by a high school it is not uncommon to see kids with backpacks.  I am supposed to look for “older people” wandering with backpacks.  These may include adults that look like they should not be there or kids wandering during odd hours of the day.
  • People on yours or others property with odd excuses.  Like, I am looking for my dog.  In my backyard?  I dont think so.  People will often wander to the front door just to see if it is unlocked.  If so they may try and go inside and have some sort of excuse as to why they did not knock.
  • Look for slow moving vehicles.  Especially during odd hours of the day.
  • Look for vehicles you don’t recognize at other people’s houses.  You usually will know what your neighbors are driving.
  • Safeguard your exterior.  Trim shrubs and trees so they make it unable for someone to access your windows.
  • Lock your doors.  All of them.  All the time.  An open door is an invitation for someone to enter anytime they want whether you are home or not.
  • Get motion lights.  Your neighbors are more likely to look up from what they are doing if a light comes on.  So are you.
  • Maintain your yard.  Mow your lawn before you go on vacation.  Bring in your trash cans.  Pick up newspapers.  These are signs you are not home to an intruder.
  • Lock up your tools.  An easy quick target for someone.
  • Try and keep the neighborhood clean.  Just like the broken window theory.  Once it looks like no one live there it becomes easier for others to come to the neighborhood and steal.
  • Lock and close your garage.  An open garage is an open invitation for someone walking by to take something, Anything to get their fix.
  • Get a dog.  Criminals are less likely to commit a crime at a house with something barking.
  • Preparing for a vacation.  Tell a neighbor.  Close the shades.  Shovel the driveway of snow.

Drug activity

  • Look for short term traffic.  Usually less than 15 minutes.
  • At a home.  Look for lots of different vehicles during all hours of the day
  • The  homeowner does not have a job.  No job and lots of cars coming and going is a sure sign.
  • The same vehicle arrives at the same time every day.
  • Sometimes you will see the same car multiple times during the day.

Having a neighborhood watch builds community and keeps you safe.  One of the most important things in an emergency is to have good neighbors.  Knowing and being aware of your neighbors makes you a good neighbor.

What is your experience with a neighborhood watch?

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

 

 

Tenet 5- Sanitation

In this last tenet we discuss the more unpleasant things when something goes awry.   If  something does go wrong it is worth considering what you will do with your sanitation. For those who live in the hills, sanitation is not as big a problem since we have gravity to take away our waste.  Those of you who live in more low lying or flat area do have to worry about where your waste goes since many sewer districts are on electric pumps  & the possibility exists for your waste to not flow properly.  Do you have a backup plan available?

What can you do?

  • Have a way to have extra water around to help flush.
  • Have a way to prevent backflow if there is potential.  Nobody wants sewage coming back into the house.
  • Have a sanitation bucket. Usually a five gallon bucket with lime and a trash bag and a seat.

What do you do for your emergency sanitation needs?

 

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother.

Reuters Story on Preppers

Here is a story from Reuters about Preppers.

Rather than just post the article I thought I would comment just a bit

“Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.”

I don’t know. What about loosing your job. Or maybe the power goes out for a week or more.  We prepare more for the things which are most common not the ones that are least common.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers’ message when he tells listeners: “It’s never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.”

Yeah, make sure you throw in a little Glenn Beck.  That should stave off the masses and show how crazy these people are.

They even cite James Rawles.  “We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots,” he told Reuters. “The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures.”

WOW.  Talk about scare tactics.  While Survivalblog is a very popular site.  It tends to focus on catastrophic topic rather than the day to day things we can do.  I like to focus on the things you can do to get started, since most of us do not have the time or money to buy things like Night goggles, land in rural areas to bug out or multiple years of food.  We are trying to prepare for the most likely not the least likely.

While it is nice of the mainstream media to bring preparing to the forefront.  They once again paint us a fear based crazies that think Mad Max is coming next week.  I think we should realize preparing for life’s bumps in the road is just prudent living.

What do you think?

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Tenet 3- Security

If somebody comes for my food they are going to have to go through all my guns first.  Is this your response?

  • What about someone breaking into your car in the parking lot?
  • What if you are on a walk and a dog comes charging at you?
  • What if you are downstairs during a burglary?
  • What if you are away and your wife is at home during a burglary?

Security is more than protecting your food.  At its base form it is protecting your life and the life of others.  As a prepper your main goal is to be alive tomorrow.  I believe you as a human being have a right to live and that to secure that right it is incumbent upon you to protect yourself.  We already pay taxes for police protection, but as you know many crimes are over before the police get there.

So what can you do to protect yourself, loved ones, and your stuff?

  • Become aware of your surroundings.  Many crimes are committed because of inattentive persons.  Keep your head up and look ahead to where you are going.  Get your keys out early.  Walk with confidence.  Look like you know where you are going.  Say ‘hello’ to people you walk by and look them in the eye.
  • Carry lethal and non lethal force.  If you live in an area where you are allowed to carry a weapon, please do so.  I believe we all have rights which are ours.  With those rights comes responsibilities.  If you have the right to vote then you have the duty to exercise that right and vote.  “They” say if you don’t vote then you don’t  have a say.  If you don’t exercise your second amendment right then you won’t be able to defend yourself.  The second amendment is the right to enforce all the other rights.  If you choose or can’t carry please carry some other form of nonlethal force, maybe pepper spray or stun gun.
  • Be discreet.  Don’t go around telling everyone  the stuff you have.  You are making yourself a target.  You want to be a good neighbor and let people know about your lifestyle, but to expose all of your preps is foolish.
  • Be confident.  Confident people are less of a target.  They say to the would be attacker ‘don’t mess with me’.  Along these same lines, don’t go looking for trouble.
  • Get training.  Without the proper training you will not know what to do in the situations you may be in.  The training is not just for you.  Your spouse and children should also get training, as women and children historically are easier targets.  Without training that expensive weapon is just a heavy club.
  • Security system.  Just another way to monitor your home or vacation retreat.
  • Dog.  Dogs are great companions and protectors, provided you get the right one.  Burglars do not like big dogs.  Just sayin’.

What other things are you doing to keep your self safe?

 

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Tenet 2- Food

Food prices now are going up at rate higher than inflation.  As preppers we seem to be the topic of the day with the media.  We are often slandered and misaligned.  The media tends to focus mostly on those who store food, and how “crazy” they are.

It is actually one of the best investments going.  Though food prices have fallen in the last year, they are almost double that of 2004.  All commodities have gone up over this time frame with sugar up over 300%.  If your stock portfolio is like mine you did not get those kind of returns.

The key to storing food is to store what you eat and eat what you store.   You were going to eat that peanut butter whether you purchased them all at once or one at a time.   Most of the things in the middle of the store have a shelf life of 3-6 months.  By buying the newly stocked items you are able to extend the shelf life by another few months.   By storing what you eat you actually spend less money.  How  is this?  By buying now what you would buy later you mitigate inflation. Buy 1 years worth of peanut butter now and wait 6 months and see what the price is. I guarantee it is higher. You may then think that you will eventually have to buy more peanut butter. This is correct.  You are trying mitigate inflation not eliminate it.

After you have started to build up your storage, it is time to start using this opportunity to look for opportunity buys. Since you have at least a 90 day supply you will only want to buy when you have a coupon or the item is on sale.   This allows you to notice trends when items go on sale. For instance, most grocery stores have case lot sales in the fall. So that would be the time to stock upon those items.

Next you will want to integrate some long term storage items. These are the items most think of when thinking about “survivalism”. They are wheat, beans , and rice. These are a good long term storage items that should be mixed into our food rotation.   By having some of these items in our rotation we have a large amount of flexibility for a myriad of things which can go wrong.   Also don’t forget to have some other items such as MRE’s on hand for your vehicles and bug out bags.  Freeze dried food is also a good resource to have around for other emergencies.   But be sure you try some first before you buy larger quantities.   Craigslist is full of listings of people who bought too much of something their family did not like.

Next you should be a producer of food.  Start a garden.  Learn to hunt and fish.  Find foraging opportunities in your area.  Hunting, fishing and foraging are more seasonal, but have the advantage of not being on your own land, where you would have to take care of such animals or plants.  You will need to check with your local agencies to be sure when you can harvest.

Gardening is the best direct source of food for your family.  Being a producer allows you to augment your current food storage with fresh items to make it last longer.  You can also use farmers markets to augment your storage.  By buying in season you can get a good deal on beans and put them away for when they are out of season.

Realize there is no silver bullet.  All of these choices present a holistic way to store food.  Learn how to dehydrate, can, pickle, make jerky, ferment, salt, and smoke.  Having more arrows in your quiver is always a good thing.  Realize you may be painted by some as a “survivalist” or “extremist”, but just remember you are only doing what your grandparents or great-grandparents used to do.  Remember the ants?  They stored food and lived while the grasshopper died.  You are not a grasshopper.

Got any other food ideas?

Prepping101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother