Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ready To Eat VS Home Cooked Preps

Let's take a quick look at the two options available to preppers.

Ready To Eat meals include MRE's, freeze dried meals (Mountainhouse etc.), canned meals (Beefaroni etc.).
There are some great advantages to these types of foods.  First off, nothing more than a can opener is needed in regards to opening cans.  For freeze dried meals, you will need a means of boiling water, but that's it.  Great idea for the bug out kit and easy enough to live on for a short time.  My car kit has a 3-4 day supply of this stuff, along with a can opener, solid fuel stove, and an old boyscout style mess kit.  The down side is that this can get quite expensive to stock in large quantities.  Not to mention the nutritional value is less than ideal to say the least.  Now I'm not saying you need to avoid these all together for long term preps.  These are great for quick meals while running around taking care of everything else that needs to be done.

Home cooked preps are much more feasable for long term situations, especially for families.  Basically, open your pantry and see everything you have in there to make all those delicious home cooked meals.  Now, go out and guy  more of it....lots more.  There are great sources of info on the net for storing these ingredients for long term.  Couple that with regular use, and you have a built in rotation system.  When you buy something, put it in the back of the shelf, when you use something, take from the front.  There are however, some foods that do not store well, like cooking oil.  Find and use as many alternatives to frying as you can.  Also, look into lard and shortning, these usually store longer than your typical vegetable oil.  With home cooked based prepping, you can eat healthier, build preps up faster in the long run, and when you really get your preps going, maintain a healthier diet for your loved ones for a longer period of time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Number One Myth About Raised Bed Gardens

Although I have been living in the city for the past 20+ years, I have still managed to put in a garden from time to time.  When I was younger, growing up in a small town, my parents put in huge gardens every year that supplied the whole family of six the year round with the help of a sizable chest freezer.  The rows of vegetable provided plenty of produce, but were quite large and labor intensive.  The four of us kids were sent out weekly with 5 gallon pails to go up and down each row, hand picking every weed in sight.  Not may idea of Saturday afternoon fun.  So for my own vegetable production, I changed things up a bit with the use of raised beds.  Now when one imagines a raised bed plot, we think of an area 4' x 4' or so surrounded by a foot high wooden or brick frame, looking something like this...
No, that's not me, I borrowed this pic from the internet.  And that is certainly not my raised bed.

This kind of frame around your bed is probably the biggest myth about raised beds that there is.  Try doing a google search on raised garden beds and you will find thousands of sites showing you how to construct a frame then fill  it with organic soil.  I don't know about you, but one of the reasons i garden is to reduce food costs.  Imagine the lumber costs to frame my beds for a 20' x 50' garden.  How many years of production would it take to gain that investment back?  Probably about as many years that the frame itself would take to rot out and need savings here!

Instead, try something else...yes 4' wide is about right, because you want to be able to reach the middle of the bed from either side, but you can go about any length you like.  Mine will be about 9' so that 2 of them will fit width wise in my space, allowing for walking space between them.  However, instead of building up a frame and filling it with soil, I will simply dig down a bit over a foot to loosen up the soil.  Then, compost, black earth, and peat moss will be tilled into it.  This will give the existing soil much more volume and form a hump above the ground a few inches higher than the ground.  This will give you a good growing depth for your veggies.  A cross section would look something like this...

To keep the edges neat, I dig a little trench around the perimmiter, and pack the edge of the mound firm with a hoe.  This trench has to be cleaned up a bit from time to time, but really doesn't take much effort. Between the beds, you can lay a mulch of just about anything you like.  This will kill off the grass and weeds, preventing your lawn from creeping back into the garden.  In the spring, the bed will thaw faster than the rest of the soil if you give it a good tilling in the fall to keep things loosened up.  Covering your beds with plastic sheets will also speed up the process.

So, if you have wanted a raised bed garden, but were afraid of the bill at the lumber yard, remember that you don't actually need to frame out your beds.  Also, this will keep your yard from looking something like this...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What exactly is self-sufficiency?  Webster's defines it as follows:
adj.  Able to support or maintain oneself without aid or cooperation from others.
Let's take a look at this definition "Able to support or maintain oneself without aid or cooperation from others."

To some, this could be as simple as holding down a job, making mortgage or rent payments, purchasing groceries, and paying utility bills. In some ways, this would be right, however consider that you are relying on your boss to properly manage the business and therefore ensure your job.  Not to mention that you rely on your landlord or mortgage company to meet all legal resposibilities to ensure your ability to remain in the dwelling.  You rely on the grocer to maintain inventory and open the store for you to make those purchases.  Not to mention the utility companies maintaining delivery systems to bring water, electricity, gas, telephone etc into your home.

So how can you become self-sufficient?  You would have to rely on yourself for all of life's basic needs. Sustinance and shelter are really all you would need to meet the strict definition.  Sounds easy doesn't it?  Think about it a minute.  Maybe you could build your own home on that 20 acre wooded lot you've got.  Could you forge your own tools to get the job done?  How about nails? well Maybe you could build a forge for tool making and use wooden pegs, actually very feasable.  You could even forge cooking vessels & utensils.  OK, shelter is covered.  Now how about Sustinence.  Water can be gathered from a hand dug well, if you're lucky, or gathered in containers from rain water.  Food is a different story. A garden would be a must, but that alone would be difficult to plan for covering the basic food groups to maintain health.  Of course open pollinated varieties are a must so that you can maintain a constant supply of seeds.  Clothing can be woven from cotton, hemp or other suitable crops.  Not very fashionable and quite time consuming, but what else are you doing?  Farming is about as important.  Livestock will supply you with meat, eggs and milk.  With some knowledge, not to mention male & female versions of all your animals, you could keep your livestock going eternally.  So now we have sustanance covered. Self-sufficiency has been obtained, although a very simple existence has been achieved.  Not really a practical lifestyle.

Well now you have, by definition, become self-sufficient.  The basic necessities of life are covered. Let's face it, man has done this before.  Living with the essentials of maintaining life without running water, flush toilets, electric lights & refrigeration, internal combustion engines etc.  But let's face it, some reliance on other people is a must given today's civilization.  We can, however use the abilities and resources we have to become more self reliant.  In learning some basic carpentry skills, you can buy the materials you need from any home supply depot and build your house.  It may not be fancy, but you could likely make it inhabitable.  Even if you live in an apartment and have no land, you can grow at least some of your own food in containers. 

The fact is, most of us will never be completely self-sufficient, but we can all reduce our reliance on others to some degree.  We are only limited by our own minds.  You would not believe what I myself have accomplished since I began prepping, I know I don't.  Likely you don't have access to a plot of land large enough to start a self-sufficient homestead.  But if you take some time to think about it, you will find ways to make yourself less reliant on others, and in turn, make life a little easier to handle when the unknown knocks on your door.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Water, the Source of Life

When the well pump won't run due to a power outage or the municipal supply becomes contaminated or otherwise undrinkable, there are many sources of water available to you.  Many of these sources need to be filtered, or otherwise treated before consumption.
There are many high quality filters available on the market today that will clean water beyond any imaginable contamination. Berkey & Katadyne are the major players , offering filters from personal size to larger capacity for family use.
Boiling your water for 5 minutes will also render it safe to drink.  Boiling will reduce the taste and will not remove heavy metals nor other sediments.  You can help this by filtering through a cloth before boiling and passing it back and forth between two containers afterward.
Commercial chemical treatments are also available, usually in tablet form with one tablet purifying 1 quart.
At home, you can also treat water with bleach at a ratio of 8 drops per gallon.  Remember to use regular bleach with no scent or other additives.

As for finding a source of water, there are several options.  If you are lucky enough to live near a stream or river, you're set.  In most parts of Canada, winter will lay down a blanket of endless frozen water.  Just melt & go!
You can also collect rain water from your roof by placing a clean container under the downspout of your gutters.  Remember to pre-filter this source and be sure it is properly treated, a lot of nasty stuff can collect on your roof.
Solar stills are also an option, but output can be questionable and slow.
For a short term disruption, you can get water from your hot water heater.  Remember to turn off the electricity or gas before draining the tank.  This water should be drinkable straight from the spigot, but don't assume anything.  Treat it before you drink it.

One last word, whatever method of treatment you use, be sure you can sustain it.  If you boil, make sure you have plenty of fuel for your stove.  If buying a filter, get the spare parts and store them with your other preps.  For chemical treatment, get enough tablets or bleach to last a while.  Remember the 2 + 2 rule.  2 quarts of water for drinking + 2 quarts of water for cooking and hygiene per person, per day.  For hotter or dryer climates, increase by 2 quarts per day per person.  Never use stagnant water that is not at least partly clear or obviously contaminated unles your life is in immediate danger, the risk just isn't worth it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Advantages & Disadvanteges of Manufactured Fire Logs

If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace for heat, weather primary or backup, you have probably at least looked at artificial fire logs.  I have used a few different types of these and find that they do have a place next to my wood pile, but there are clear advantages & disadvantages to them.  These logs are made from compressed sawdust recuperated from various wood manufacturing processes such as hardwood floor manufacturers.  There are no adhesives or chemicals in the and are formed by pure pressure.  This makes them a somewhat ecological choice.

Here are some of the advantages...
1 - Easy lighting.
The logs are easily lit with a minimum of kindling.  Once lit they pretty much burn on their own.  This makes things easier in the morning when there are only a few embers glowing in the stove.
2 - High burn temperature.  Because of their high density and low moisture content, these logs burn at a higher temperature than traditional fire wood.  This will allow you to heat up a cold room faster.
3 - Easy storing.  The packaging makes them easy to stack.  Keep them raised off the floor to avoid contact with moisture.

Here are some of the disadvantages...
1 - Cost.  When not on sale these logs can be quite expensive, although many retailers will offer volume discounts, even offering specials for a whole pallet load.  Thankfully, they do seem to go on sale quite often.
2 - Water kills.  If these logs get wet, they will turn into a pile of useless, messy mush.
3 - Burn time.  Although they burn hotter than traditional wood, you will find yourself stoking up the fire more often.  Night logs will last longer, but you will still have to feed the fire sometime during the night.

There are 3 types of these logs that I use.
1 - 2 lb blocks (12 per pack)
These come in a square shape bundled in plastic wrap.  2 or 3 will be needed in order to make a fire of any substance.  I use these 1 or 2 at a time with regular firewood to give the stove a boost when dealing with damp wood.  Burn time for 2-3 blocks is about 1 - 1.5 hours.

2 - 3 lb logs (10 per box)
These work well when we first wake up.  They light easily from embers and really give off some heat.  Packaged in cardboard boxes, they stack well for storage, and we use the boxes afterwards for holding kindling. Burn time for 2 logs is about 2-2.5 hours.

3 - 5 lb night logs 4 per box)
These are supposed to last from 6 to 9 hours, intended to keep your fire going all night long.  Althouh they do last quite a bit longer that the smaller ones, I find they fall short of the mark.  I do use them at night but by early morning, there is almost no trace of them left.  Burn time i about 5-6 hours for 1 log.

All in all, I do like these manufactured logs as they supplement the wood pile well.  Buy them on sale and ALWAYS store them in a dry place indoors.  You will find that they can serve you well as a compliment to traditional cut firewood, but don't depend on them as a primary fuel for your fire.

Keep warm, Canada.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thanks to All

I want to take a minute to thank all the readers as well as contributing members for helping to keep the blog alive.  If you haven't already done so, check out the forum.  Some of the provincial blogs will automatically redirect you there.  There are sub forums on a variety of topics and the atmosphere is a little less formal.  I encourage everyone to sign up and start posting.

Have a great weekend and thanks again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Thought About Solar Maximum

We have all heard about the current solar maximum and its possible effects here on earth. Living in Quebec, I remember the solar flares in 1989 knocking out the power grid for hours.  This was during a solar maximum.  In 1972, sporadic, but temporary phone outages were reported around North America.  In 1958 & 1959, radio communications were disrupted in areas of the US.

All in all, from what I've read, disruptions to radio, telephony, and power grids have been localized and temporary.  However, we do live in a more technology dependant society now.  The biggest risk in my opinion would be to the power grid.  Electromagnetic storms can cause power spikes in electrical transmission lines, overloading transformers.  Remember electronics 101...if you pass a magnet by a conductive wire, you induce an electrical current.  Solar flares recreate this by sending electromagnetic charges into our atmosphere.  This effect can be observed in the accounts of the 1882 solar storms where telegraph wires became so overcharged that some operators were "shocked" by their instruments. 

One fact remains constant in all accounts...the effects were temporary.  Does that mean we have nothing to worry about in the current solar maximum?  Well, even the scientists seem to be divided on the topic.  Some will insist that this will be the most spectacular solar max in history and will knock out all electronics permanently.  Still others expect no real disturbance other than the occasional regional problems seen in the past.

My research on the topic reveals that the most vulnerable systems are those with transmission cables that run for miles.  Remember your electronics 101? Same idea.  These systems include power lines, telephone lines, and cable distribution lines.  Current can be generated in these wires by electromagnetic energy passing by them.  This current can and likely would reach dangerous levels to electronic devices connected to them including computers, televisions, and other home appliances.  Will your battery powered radio suddenly fry?  Likely not.  The current generated in devices with a limited amount of conductive material would be minimal at best.

Personally, my concerns lay mostly with infrastructure.  Who knows how severe these storms will become and how well (or not) our infrastructure is protected from power surges.  Disruptions could vary from regional and only a few hours long, to a widespread system wide failure IN A WORST CASE SCENARIO.

Either way, I plan on being as ready as I can be.  Consider that the power grid, telephone, cable, and internet, as well as commercial radio may be unavailable until the systems can be repaired.  The more remotely located your home is, the more time it will take for service to be restored.  As an example, a catastrophic failure in the power grid, could take months to completely restore.  If communications satellites were to be rendered useless, these could take years to launch new ones into orbit. 

In any case...have the basics at the ready.  Water, non perishable food, cooking know the drill.  Do I really need to preach to the choir?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mini Wind Power Battery Charger

As part of my interest in prepping, I regularly search the internet for wind power projects.  I plan on building some sort of wind generator in the near future.  My searches led me to this site...not exactly te scale I had in mind, but seems like a handy and useful project to do.  I may build a couple of these myself some rainy Saturday afternoon.
Check this out...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Call For Recipes #3

Alright then everyone...pop quiz!
What is the number one recommended prep item?
If you answered food, then you are correct.

So to help all our fellow preppers get that food put back, our call for recipes is food storage ideas.

Dehydrating, canning, you name it...give us those home preservation methods here.

And thanks again to TCadd for the dehydrated ground beef recipe !

Friday, March 18, 2011

Are You Getting Ready?

Let's take a minute to look around a bit...
Major earthquakes have hit in Chile, Austrailia, and now Japan.
Civil uprising in Egypt and Lybia.
The world is going to Heck in a handbasket.
Locally, things don't look any better...
1998 - Ice storm hits eastern Canada
2000 - Devestating tornado in Pine Lake
2010 - Hurricane Igor hits Canadian east coast
Now we have a radiation cloud about to hit Vancouver and as far inland as western Saskatchewan.

So my question is...ARE YOU GETTING PREPARED?
There are dangers lurking from coast to coast.  Do you have enough food & water to last a few days, weeks, months or even a year?  Do you have a heat source not dependant on local infrastructure?  How about medical supplies?  Are you ready to evacuate your home on a moments notice with more than the cloths on your back?

Take a minute to access what is hapening in the world around us.

  Then ask yourself...AM I PREPARED?

The answer may surprise you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Drying Ground Beef

Here is a post from the forum from TCadd...
Great post by the way, hope you all enjoy.

Hi all, thought I would throw in a simple method to preserve a cheap source of protein!

I do this in five pound batches, and am left with roughly one pound of dehydrated meat:

1) Break up and brown meat - I use my largest frying pan and about 2 cups of water over medium heat. Mix every couple minutes until all meat is cooked through.

2) Move meat into colander and run hot water over it. This cleans off the grease that has separated from the meat during the browning.

3) Put meat back into cleaned frying pan, fill with water until it is even with the beef. Bring to a boil. You will probably see fat/grease on top of the water again.

4) Drain meat in colander and run hot water over again.

5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until no grease is seen after boiling (Usually only once, but your mileage may vary depending on fat content of the beef)

6a Oven Method) Spread drained ground beef onto cookie sheets lined with tinfoil and heat in oven at low temp (I use 200 degrees f) with oven door open. May take several hours to dry depending on how thinly spread beef is (I've taken up to 8 hours with a small oven requiring deeply piled beef on only one cookie tray)

6b Dehydrator Method) Spread onto trays used for fruit leather or parchment paper covered regular trays. Dry on high if you have variable settings.

6a+b) Dry until beef is completely dried, appearance will be much like gravel, very hard.

7) Store in your preferred manner, keep in a cool dry dark place or put in freezer for maximum life. I normally do just a freezer bag as I use it too quickly to be worried about complicated methods!

To rehydrate you can literally just add water and wait or you can speed things up with heat either in the microwave, a pot or mixed in with other food.

I don't add much in the way of spices until use but you can add them at the final boiling stage. You can use this anywhere you would normally use ground beef, but it won't stick together into a burger patty or anything similar without a lot of help from other ingredients.

Even just storing in a freezer bag in a cupboard this should be good for a minimum 3 months, in the freezer you should be able to use it for two years or more.

Hope you enjoy or at least find it useful!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gardening Sound Off

Last Thursday, I posted a reminder about getting your garden plan in order.  Now that you have had a chance to plan a little, let's hear about what your plans are.....
What are you growing?How are you growing it?Are you growing enough to put up for future use, or just enough to last the season?
Sound off on YOUR garden plans here Canada.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bug Out Bags (BOB)

Think of it this way,
You are awakened in the wee hours of the night by emergency crews pounding on your door.  A wild fire, huricane, tsunami, or other natural or manmade disaster is imminent.  You have to leave....NOW.  Your alowable time to pack is ZERO.  If you have been paying attention, you grab your BOB and go, if not, well, you're buggered.  If you still don't have a BOB for every member of the family near the front door...what are you waiting for? A disaster? Too late!  Trust me, get a bag together ASAP.  Here are some ideas what to put into it.

Comlete change of clothing...
Consider the climate and current season, running out the door in February with a spare t-shirt and shorts is not exactly helpful.  Keep extra socks too...dry feet are happy feet.

Drinking water...
2l per day for drinking + 2l per day for sanitation.  Plan for a 3 day supply.

ready to eat, without heating.  Avoid dehydrated foods as they require precious (not to mention heavy to carry) water.

Flashlight & radio...
Forget about the battery types and get a crank model.  They are now inexpensive enough for everyone to afford.  I got mine at Canadian Tire for around $15.00.  Flashlight/AM/FM Radio combo.

Toiletry Kit...
toilet paper a must, feminin products for those who need them.

prescriptions for a week + over the counter stuff like pain relievers, antihistamines, etc.

very important....keep copies of important documents, family photos, and anything invaluable that can be digitized.  This includes insurance policies, house deeds, banking records.

Trust me people, this can make even government run shelter life more pleasant, or at least tolerable.

Have more ideas for a BOB? Post a reply.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami Safety Tips

Here is a link to a post on the IPN by Itsadisaster
In my opinion, she is one of North America's leading experts on disaster preparation.....

Check out some of her other disaster safety tips here...

Friday, March 11, 2011

B.C. tsunami advisory remains

Tsunami warning seems to be lifted, but some warnings for boaters still in effect.
Check the link below for more info...

Tsunami advisory issued for north and central B.C. coast

Tsunami advisory issued for north and central B.C. coast

Call For Recipes #2

Alright then, the response to the first call for recipes was quite positive so here comes part 2.

Looking for your recipes for home brewed garden soil amendments & natural fertilisers.

Keep the comments coming...we need your continued support for sucess.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get Your Garden Plan Going

Well it may not feel like it, but spring is just around the corner.  And with spring comes the great garden planting. 
Now is a perfect time to plan your garden and start buying seeds.  The seed racks at the local home centers have started carying heirloom and organic seeds.  What you can't find there, you can find online with a simple Google search.  Keep your seeds to heirloom varieties, or at least open polinated varieties.  This way you can save your own seeds from your garden and save a bit of cash in the coming years.
Make a "to do" list of things that need to get done on a yearly basis as well as any extra chores that may need to get done.  Check the condition of raised beds, start a "grocery list" of soil amendments, and start deciding what to plant and where.
Getting organised now can save you time and hassle when the soil reaches that perfect planting temperature.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comments, Questions & Requests

You may have noticed a serious effort to jump start the Canadian Preppers Network. 
What I would like to know is how are we doing?
Posts have been made more frequently and participation in commenting is also on the rise.
So let's have your honest opinion.
What are we doing right or wrong?
Do you have any questions about where the blog is or where it may be going?
Do you want to see specific topics covered?
Let us know by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Canadian Preppers Forum

Have you joined the Forum yet?
If not sign up here....
Then participate here...
Sub Forums for all Provinces

Monday, March 7, 2011

Call For Recipes

Please needed...

OK folks, before you all get out Grannie's family recipe book and post her version of baked beans, listen up.

Every once in a while I am going to pick a topic about making your own something or other.  Then, I want you all to contribute your knowledge and post your how-to's.  If you have personal experience making something, all the better,  but also feel free to post any knowledge you may have gathered from the internet, books, magazines or other sources.  This will help us all be able to prep for the future in a more self reliant way.  If there is something you would like to know more about, feel free to ask.

Today's recipe request is for medicinal preps....We need how to's on making natural antibiotics, antimicrobials, saline solution for wound cleaning and anything else you can think of that has to do with post SHTF medicine.

So pull out your prep manuals and start posting...........