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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!!

Happy New Year everyone and congratulations on another year of prepping. Our numbers are growing and that is a wonderful thing. We, as preppers have done a great job this year of helping those who are new to our beliefs and dispelling many of the negative assumptions that seem to attach to us without basis.

We can imagine a world where no one is waiting for assistance in desperation after a disaster. A world where no one fears their neighbour knowing what they have because their neighbour is a prepper too. A world where ideas are shared easily without risk of suspicion. A world where each home is a castle, capable of producing it's own needs. Each street is a small town able to help and share and each neighbourhood is it's own little city, trustworthy and capable. This world is not impossible nor unrealistic, in fact, this world is the past.

The Holiday season is a time of reflection and thankfulness so I would like to thank you, the C.P.N. members for helping to create the world of my imagination. The world that we all strive to live in is attainable and it begins with you.
Thank you all for doing what you do, and for sharing what you do with those of us who are less experienced.
I'm sure we can all remember being a new prepper and how hard it was in the beginning, so thank you existing members for your knowledge and experience and for sharing so readily.

I wish you all the very best in the coming new year.
Happy 2013 C.P.N.!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Choosing a Woodstove -Cookstove

Heartland Wood Cookstove

It's been a bit of a process but we've finally made up our minds what to do about the wood stove - cook stove dilemma we've (I've) been struggling with. I have written before about my absolute love of all things old and beautiful but I would NOT want an old stove because burn technology and heat shields  have come a long way in the past 25 years and I am concerned about safety above all.  


Our search had several criteria. 
  1. It had to look good.  
  2. It needed to be efficient.  
  3. I would like to cook on it. 
  4. The price needs to be taken into consideration.  

It may sound shallow but that was in order of importance!

We spent part of the past weekend  learning about wood stoves by visiting different wood stove dealers.  We asked lots of questions and were able to see - in person - some of the stoves I had researched on-line. The real dilemma in making the choice lay in what we want the stove for in the first place.  Our first priority is an alternative way to heat the house - the second is cooking.  I had to keep reminding myself of that goal.

My all time favourite is the Heartland Wood Cook stove - and who wouldn't love it???  It's even more beautiful in real life!  This is the stove I drooled over - almost literally...  The problem: It was pricey - about $7000.00 and It has a small firebox which means it needs to be restocked regularly and although many people use it to heat their homes I was looking for something that I could fill up and leave longer than the 7-8 hours max it is rated.  Chopping wood is not on my list of - I-can't-wait-to-do-this-some-more so if I gotta do the work then I want all the bang  for the buck I can get for my sweat equity. 

Blaze King
I've researched the most efficient wood stoves on the market in the past few weeks and came up with the Blaze King. It's Canadian-made wood stove with a catalytic system built right in to create less emissions and therefore less creosote.  In some cases it allows for a 40 hour burn! Wow - that's impressive.  I watched all the videos on Blaze King I could find.  Great technology.  The problem: it is the ugliest stove you have ever seen and it didn't improve AT ALL in person.  It's a big square ugly box and no matter how I squinted I could never imagine it in my dining room and therefore who cares what it costs :)  If it was out of sight - i.e.  a basement or a garage - it would be my first choice.

One of the others I wanted to see was the Esse cook stove.  This stove made in the UK has great reviews for heating a home and cooking.  It looks nice too.  I liked it but the price tag of $7000.00 was more than my budget could bear.

Esse Ironheart

So - we needed to look for something else.  We stopped in a place called Friendly Fires in Peterborough and walked into WOODSTOVE-COOKSTOVE-GAS-STOVE-BBQ HEAVEN!  We found really nice people who really knew what they were talking about.  We got the most answers to our questions of all our stops and they took their time to explain everything without making us feel we were taking too long (or we were dumb - which of course we were!)

All through this process I had my conversation with Michelle Mather (who lives completely off-grid) in the back of my mind.  Last year she pointed out that having a cookstove as your main cooking appliance meant you would have to fire up the beast in the middle of the summer in order to cook - oh yeah. Her suggestion was to get a good quality woodstove - and she and her husband Cam recommended the Pacific Energy Brand (and later get a gas cookstove that looked like the cookstove of my dreams. oooh!)  

After looking at many other brands we settled on one made by Pacific Energy - the Alderlea. 

Built around Pacific Energy’s legendary Super Series steel firebox, the Alderlea T5 combines the very best features of both cast iron and steel stoves. Elegant, historic cast iron styling that adds to the decor of any room, radiant and convective heat, huge glass for a full view of your fire, a concealed cook top for peace of mind during power outages all in a proven easy- lighting, clean, long-burning heater with 30 years of wood stove technology behind it.



Alderlea by Pacific Energy

Matt - they guy we talked to at Friendly Fires mentioned that one of the other men who worked there had guided the purchase of wood stoves for his whole family and wouldn't let them buy anything BUT an Alderlea because as a repair man he KNEW that these were the least likely to break down, the easiest to fix if they did and the most efficient.  Apparently people who own one never want anything else - even 20 years later they are coming back for the same stove.  Well - that was the kind of recommendation we were looking for. It's also pretty, it has a swing out cook top and the price of $2500.00 was more within the budget range.  

Alderlea by Pacific Energy

Our stove chimney will go straight up through the ceiling of the dining room, through the corner of second floor family room and out the sloped roof - the install cost was quoted at around $3000.00.  Spending that kind of money I think it's worth our while to purchase a really good stove rather than put an old stove in and hoping for the best.  I feel very confident the Alderlea will last for many years and safely do the job with style.

Soon we will have one more step done in the plan to be more self sufficient!
  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Important Anouncement

Canadian Preppers Network Official Statement Regarding the Connecticut School Shootings  

It has come to our attention at the
Canadian Preppers Network that certain people in the media are now trying to make a connection between the peaceful, preppers community and Nancy Lanza, mother of Adam Lanza - the monster who brutally and savagely took the lives of so many innocent children and adults in Newton, Connecticut. Our members, and others around the globe who share our philosophy of being prepared in times of emergency, are sickened by this event. We too are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and to associate CPN or any legitimate organization that stresses preparing for emergencies with this barbaric act goes against everything we collectively stand for.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter Prepping

Winter in Canada

The smells of beef stew in the crock pot and chestnuts roasting in the oven permeate the house. The snow falls slowly in large flakes that swirl then quickly gather and blanket the yard. It's winter in Canada and like it or not, that means winter prepping.
I like to make a winter checklist of things to do just before we get hit with the seasons' first snowfall.

Here's an example of my list:
-Get the furnace checked/ do annual maintenance
-Clean ducts
-Double check secondary heat sources (plug in heaters)
-If you're lucky enough to have a wood stove, check and do maintenance, top
 up wood storage
-If it's been 6 months- 1 year, check and refill water storage,
  move it to where it won't freeze
-Tune up the car, put winter tires on
-Make sure all vehicles have a safety kit containing at least:
     -candles, snacks, first aid kit, water, flashlight, blanket, gloves,
      folding shovel, kitty litter (for traction), and jumper cables.
      I like to put mine in an empty paint can which has multiple uses.
-Clean eaves troughs to prevent ice backup
-If necessary, put plastic insulation on interior windows
-Check salt storage or buy salt and replace any broken or damaged shovels
-Inventory your food storage and make sure nothing has invaded your pantry.
-Top up on ready to eat foods.
-Check over sleeping bags, make sure they're in good condition.
-Empty and restock bug out bags for winter survival, make sure all documents
 are up to date, copied and packed.

That's just an example of my list. Yours might be longer or shorter depending on your situation. I believe winter prepping is most vital to us Canadians as I believe winter to be our biggest threat. Not only does it pose health risks such as frostbite and hypothermia but a winter power outage can also cause serious damage to your home.

Here are some tips to help if you do experience a winter power outage:
-Close drapes/ blinds to conserve indoor heat.
  If necessary, hang blankets over windows to further this goal.
-Open taps to a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
-Close off an interior room for household members by hanging a blanket
  in an open doorway, or by plugging drafts under existing doors.
  Restrict movement into and out of this room to maintain heat.
-Candles cause fires. If using candles maintain proper precautions by
  keeping them away from flammable sources, children and pets.
  Keep your battery powered carbon monoxide and smoke
  detectors in the same room along with a proper fire extinguisher.
-Never use a generator indoors or when wet, store fuel outdoors as well.
-Never use a BBQ indoors, fumes are deadly.

Remember that winter in Canada is not only inconvenient with the shoveling and travel hazards, it can be a serious event.
If you have any tips to share, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Science Fiction Becomes Reality With CHAMP

Until now, most of us had only 2 sources of an EMP to worry about. The first, and arguably the least severe is solar related. Geomagnetic activity from solar flares and CMEs have been known to knock out power gids, albeit for a short time. High altitude nuclear detonations seem a little more worrisome for preppers, as the high intensity EMP from such a blast is believed to cause very widespread and detrimental effects on power grids and electronics.
Preppers have been researching ways to protect their electronics, generate their own power, and protect and repair damaged vehicles. There are countless disagreements about grounding Faraday cages or not, discussions on older vehicles without modern computers and what parts to stock up on to repair them, and numerous forum and blog posts about what types of alternative power generation could be used after such an event.
Just when we thought we were making headway on the topic, along comes a new threat regarding damaging EMPs. Enter Boeing's CHAMP weapon. CHAMP - Counter-electronics High powered Advanced Missile Project is the latest EMP device in the world today. A recent test flight of CHAMP successfully disabled power, computers, and even the video cameras set up to record the event. It is now evident that the scientific and military world have a really good understanding of EMP power and it's uses and effects.
This, of course, raises a whole new set of concerns from the prepper community. Just because the US is the first to disclose the existence of such a weapon, doesn't ensure that other, less western friendly countries don't already have the technology, or won't possess it soon. Although I can't see terrorist organizations using this exact model, I can see how they could adapt the technology into other delivery systems. Of course, there is also the concern that our own governments could us this weapon against it's own population, but as you all know by now, I really don't subscribe to such paranoid conspiracy theories.
Take a look at this video from Boeing...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Paracord Bracelets

Paracord Bracelets


Paracord bracelets are pretty popular right now and for good reason. Depending on your wrist size, it can give you seven or eight feet of available paracord to use. I wanted one for awhile but I found the cost to buy and ship was a little high. Instead, I bought the stuff and made 10 for the price of buying three and I still have 40 clips.


My initial cost was total $36 for 50 clips (1 inch x 1/2 inch) and 100 feet of paracord. My cost per bracelet was about $1.52, well below the average price to buy one anywhere.

What I used:
-7 or 8 feet of paracord, depending on the size
-measuring tape
-scissors (cut cord to size, snip off ends)
-lighter (needed to burn the ends of the finished product)
-clip (can be omitted of you use a knot closure)
-hairpin or bobby pin or binder clip (to hold your place)

How I did it:
Step 1- Measure the wrist. Convert the number of inches measured into feet. For example, seven inches (around the wrist) will equal about seven feet of paracord. Remember to leave some room when measuring so the finished product is not too tight.
Step 2- Cut your length of cord and fold it in half. Separate your clip and attach the female part by inserting the folded part of your paracord through the buckle. Now take that loop and pull your length of cord through while holding the buckle firm.
Step 2
Step 3- Measure down the length from your clip the same measurement as your wrist (e.g. 7") down and place your pin there to hold your place.
Step 3
Step 4- Place the male end of the clip by threading the loose strands through the buckle and sliding it up to your pin/ marker. Fold the loose ends at that place and begin to make your knots.
Step 5- I start on the right side, using the right piece of cord, take the end and thread it under the centre two pieces, and over the left piece. Then take your left piece and thread it over the center and through the loop. Pull tight and remove your pin/ marker. It helps me to remember "Under, over for 1, then over, through for the 2nd". Continue to make your knots alternating from left to right until you reach the female clip. It helps to pull the knots tightly and push them up on the bracelet for a tighter finished product.
Step 5
Step 6- When you get to the end and you've made your last knot, hopefully you have a little bit of extra cord. Pull your last knot as tight as it will go then cut the ends as close to the knot as you can without cutting it too close. Now melt the ends slightly with your lighter. I like to push the burned end down with my scissors so it looks flatter and won't rub on the wrist.
Step 6
I liked the finished product but I did notice that mine was thinner then some others that I had seen. I prefer it 1/2" wide, and that is what you will get with these directions.
I know it might sound difficult, but it's really just one of those things you have to do to learn and it really is not hard once you do it. My first one looked like it had suffered through unspeakable trauma but the second one turned out great.
Practice really was the key and now I can churn them out in a few minutes.
These make great gifts, or stocking stuffers. You can even get creative and make keychains, zipper pulls, belts, or anything else you can think up.
Good luck, don't get discouraged and have fun.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One Year Food Storage Organization System



For some interesting facts about canned SPAM click here.
One of the things I struggled with in the area of food storage was keeping track of everything and making sure I was storing enough.  That gets complicated when you are wanting to store enough food for ONE WHOLE YEAR for a large group of people. 

I've talked lots about WHY I am crazy enough to even want to attempt this so I'll just carry on from there.

 I've tried several food storage calculators and messed around with my own versions but was never satisfied until recently.  I was looking for a simple way to keep track so I came up with a system that's easy to read and see at a glance.  It can be used for any length of food storage and include any of your favourite foods. It can also be expanded to include non-food items that you want to store but for simplicity sake I keep that information separately.
I used various sources for my calculations.  I started with the basics come from the most recent LDS manual that you can download for free here.  I expanded my lists by considering foods that store well and that we eat regularly.  I also made allowances for food sensitivities in our family - less white rice and no white flour for us and more variety in whole grains and gluten free grains.  These lists have come out of a few years of practice and note-taking as to what we eat regularly.  I have also made a concerted effort to include some of the items we do not eat regularly but store really well and make them a part of our monthly menus.  We still have a long way to go but all of this is a process!

Most sources say 400lbs of grain per year per person is a minimal goal.  The first question you may ask is - how many buckets is that??  Here's a handy chart from www.foodstoragemadeeasy.net


Food Item
#10 Can
5 Gallon Bucket
Wheat
5 pounds
37 pounds
White Flour
4.5 pounds
33 pounds
Cornmeal
4.3 pounds
33 pounds
Popcorn
5 pounds
37 pounds
Rolled Oats
2.5 pounds
20 pounds
White Rice
5.3 pounds
36 pounds
Spaghetti
N/A
30 pounds
Macaroni
3.1 pounds
21 pounds
Dried Beans
5.6 pounds
35 pounds
Lima Beans
5.4 pounds
35 pounds
Soy Beans
5 pounds
33 pounds
Split Peas
5 pounds
33 pounds
Lentils
5.5 pounds
35 pounds
White Sugar
5.7 pounds
35 pounds
Brown Sugar
4.42 pounds
33 pounds
Powdered Milk
3 pounds
29 pounds
Powdered Eggs
2.6 pounds
20 pounds


If anything I erred on the side of abundance with the suggested amounts from these sources.  I've copied an sample below to show you how it works.  I used an average of 33lb or 15kg per bucket for the grains which means I need about 12 pails in total to make up the 400lbs per person recommended.  Then I listed the grains I wanted to store and decided how I was going to divide up the storage.  As you can see below I am actually aiming for 15.5 - 5 gallon buckets per person per year.  I like variety.

I've done the same with all the categories - Grains, Beans/Meat, Cooking oils, Salt, Milk/Dairy, Fruit, Vegetables and Other Necessities.

Since this is MY list is really will only serve as a jumping off point for others.  Our family doesn't need to store eggs - we have chickens.  We eat much of our vegetables in the summer from the garden and hope to improve our productivity over the next few years so I have only included the vegetables that we actually store long term by canning, freezing or root cellaring.  I also don't store a lot of store bought dehydrated or freeze dried foods - just my personal choice.

The chart below is fairly self- explanatory.  There's room on this chart for 5 people but it can of course be expanded.  The "X's" represent the number of pails I have already stored.  I use the highlighter function to remind me that I have bought the product but still need to properly package it for long term storage.  So in the example below I have 2 pails of large flake oatmeal in storage and enough for one more pail that will be packed in a pail with mylar and an O2 absorber as soon as I have a few more buckets to do at one time.

Farther down the list I have some canned goods and instead of using "X's" I just write the number in the space provided.  eg. for tomato sauce I write "20" or if I am working up to that 12 or 15 or whatever I have so I will be able to add my new purchases and carry on to the next "person" (per) on the chart.

I debated whether or not to include the details of WHAT I store because I believe that everyone's food storage needs to be personalized to their own needs.  HOWEVER we all need to start with something and I like seeing charts like this myself so I am sharing it anyway!

The amounts listed for each item are based on how much of them we already eat.  It's sometimes hard to imagine how much food it takes for a whole year simply because we are disconnected to it by not having to prepare much of it ourselves.  Imagine having to bake every loaf of bread, grind wheat to make every muffin and cookie you eat - that's a lot of food!


Here's a link to a food storage calculator.  It will allow you to input your families ages and be given a basic list - consider the one below Anita's expanded list!

GRAINS 400 lb min
12pails
1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5per
Wheat kernels soft
2
XX
XX



Wheat kernels hard
3
XXX
X



Steel cut oats
1
X
X



Large flake oatmeal
1
X
X
X


Brown rice
1
X
X



Pasta
2
XX
XX



Parboiled rice
2
XX




Millet
.5
X
X



Quinoa
.5





Spelt
1
X
X



Buckwheat
.5





Quick Oatmeal
1



















BEANS/MEAT 60lb min
5 pails
1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5per
Dried beans kidney
1




Dried beans chickpea
1





Lentils/red or brown
1




Yellow/green peas/split peas
1




Dried beans black
1





Canned chicken/turkey
50





Canned salmon
50





Canned sardines
20





Home canned meat
25





Falafel mix
5



















COOKING OIL 10quarts
20lb
1 per
2 per
3per
4 per
5 per
Butter Powder
1




Olive oil
2




Coconut oil
4




Mayo
2




Peanut butter
2




Vegetable oil
3-5L




Nutella
2



















SALT 8lb min
8
1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5 per
Pounds of salt
8



















 MILK/DAIRY 75lb min
75lb
1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5 per
Milk powder
40lb




Canned evaporated milk
12




Almond milk
24




Powdered cheese
2





Coconut milk
10







FRUIT 170 quarts

1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5 per
Applesauce
25 quarts




Dried apricots
10 pkg.





Coconut
.25 pail





Mandarin oranges
20 cans





Pears
20 quart





Peaches
20 quart





Pineapple
25 cans





Raisins
1lb





Dates
4 pkg.





Figs
10 pkg.





Jam
20 pint



Apple butter
2 pint











VEGETABLES 200 quarts
200 qu
1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5 per
Beans
50




Beets/plain/pickled
25  pints




Carrots
10




Onions
10lb




Peppers frozen
2 bags




Pickles
10




Canned Potatoes
10 quarts




Rhubarb
5 froz




Sauerkraut
5 quarts





Spinach/kale
10 froz





Tomato sauce
50
50



Home canned soups
20




Diced tomatoes
20





Salsa
2




Boxed potatoes
1




Canned corn
5





Sweet potatoes
10 quarts





Chili sauce
1




BBQ sauce
1




Sprouting Seeds
1 quart







OTHER NECESSITIES

1 per
2 per
3 per
4 per
5 per
Baking powder
2





Baking soda
10




Sugar
1 pail




Brown sugar
.5 pail




Apple juice
12 cans




Hot chocolate mix
2 can




Instant yeast
2 brick




Garlic powder
1 quart





Cinnamon
1 quart





Carob chips
.25 pail




Cocoa powder
1 can





Ginger
1 quart





Ketchup
2 bottle




Mustard
2 bottle




Relish
1 bottle




Lemon juice
1 bottle





Black pepper
1 quart





Maple syrup
4L




Honey
5lb





Stevia
2 bottles





Crackers
5 box





Cold cereal
5 box





Walnuts
2lb





Almonds
2lb





Hemp seeds
2lb





Flax seeds
5lb




Dehy.Veggie flakes
1 pail





Vinegar
10 bottle




Apple cider vinegar
2 bottle





Mrs. Dash
1 jar





Pickling spice
.5 quart




Herbal tea
5 boxes




Caf-lib
1 jar





Tea bags
50




Coffee
 1




Parmesan cheese
2 can





Bouillon
12 cubes













I've expanded this list over the years.  I started with the most basic things and added more items as I thought of them.  Some of these things I could do without but they are nice to have. Some items like hot sauce I currently have in the fridge but we are not huge hot-sauce-kind-of-people so I don't actually have it on the list - I think the last bottle of hot sauce lasted two years.

There are other items I could have added and may add in the future but for now this is what I am working on.


I watch for sales to add to my stores.  For example this week pasta was on sale so I purchased enough to fill several buckets.  It was on sale for .77 for 900gr.  900 gr. is approx 2 pounds. It takes 21lbs of macaroni to fill a bucket so that's 11 packages. 11 x .77c = $8.47 per bucket. O2 absorbors and mylar liner take the cost up to approx. $10.00 in total if you can get a free bucket. Not a bad deal.


I am also careful to keep things balanced - no sense having pasta for 10 people for a year and no sauce.


One of the eureka moments I've had over the past years with food storage and organization is to divide it into five different components.  

  1. Long term storage - it's packed in Mylar and rotated out in 15-30 years.
  2. Long term shelf stable food - our personal grocery store - wet pack foods, boxed foods we rotate within 5 years.
  3. Freezer items - we rotate out in 1 year and replenish
  4. Upstairs pantry - our every day eating - not counted in food storage and probably enough for several weeks
  5. Fridge items - on a weekly/bi-weekly rotation

I keep track of long term storage but I don't count everything in fridge and freezer - I just consider it extra food.  By eating primarily from the fridge, freezer and cold cellar we continue to rotate the most perishable foods first without having to add and subtract from the food storage lists.  We store vegetables and fruit for 6 months over the winter in our basement which we eventually hope to extend further with a proper root cellar.  Then we eat fresh from the garden as much as possible in the warmer months.  Season extenders such as cold frames and a greenhouse  are on the list for the future.

If you are feeling discouraged at the length of the list and the planning involved - know this:  you have to start somewhere. "What is not started will never get finished." —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Start with a three day supply of shelf stable food.  Expand it to a week, then three weeks, then three months.  Remember to store foods you like to eat.  Who cares if SPAM is on sale if no one likes it! YUCK!  


There are lots of plans out there and ANY plan is better than NO plan.  Keep working towards your food storage goals - step by step.  Whether it's for three months or one year I hope seeing my One Year Food Storage Organizational System will help you to make sense of your own.