Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sumac Iced Tea for Hot Summer Days

It's been blazing hot here in Ontario as it has been in many areas of North America over the past few months.  We've been reasonably comfortable except for last weekend - even with every trick I could think of it was too hot to do much of anything that required exertion!

We forgo air conditioning at the farm because there is almost always a breeze.  Some of the ways we keep the house cool are pretty obvious to most frugal folks.  We open every window as soon as the sun is off the windows at night.  In the morning we close the windows and any blinds on the east side of the house, continuing to close windows as the sun come around to the south and west.  Most days that keeps it pretty comfy.  We invested in some extra fans this year and make good use of ceiling fans as well.  Basically if we can't keep it cool enough to work during the day we get up early to do chores and relax during the day until evening when we finish the necessities outside. 

In the same vein of keeping cool - I've been learning about Sumac Iced Tea.  We have plenty of sumac trees around and they are in many of the ditches on the nearby side roads.  Last week after a particularly brutally hot day my daughter and I went for a walk after sundown.  I feel cooped up when I can't get outside!  We picked some sumac berries to take home and started our tea.

Staghorn Sumac

I'm not sure it could be simpler!  I lightly rinsed off the berries and covered them with cold water in a glass pitcher with a lid.  I used three heads of berries but you can use more or less.

I left it on the counter to infuse overnight and woke up to a beautiful dark red juice.  I fished out the heads and ran the remaining juice through a coffee filter to strain out the tiny little hairs and bits. You could also use a coffee press or a clean cloth.

Then I added some stevia drops - but you could use the sweetener of your choice.  Some people think it tastes very lemony - like lemonade but personally I found it much milder.

Sumac tea is very high in vitamin C and for most people it's free for the taking right outside the door! Some sources say it has twice the vitamin C of oranges.  It makes a great refreshing hot weather drink!  

Think of the possibilities.  You could add sumac to a large mouthed water bottle on the trail.  It would mask to some degree the taste of iodine treated water and you get a vitamin C kick.  

You can learn more about Sumac Tea by reading here.

I borrowed the following from a Facebook friend.

IT'S SO HOT in Ontario or just about anywhere else in North America right now!

.....the birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground.
.....the trees are whistling for the dogs.
.....the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance water comes from both taps. can make sun tea instantly. learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
.....the temperature drops below 90 F and you feel a little chilly. break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 5:30 A.M.
.....your biggest motorcycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death"?
......the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter.
.....the cows are giving evaporated milk. are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.

Do you have any tricks that help you stay cool?  Please share.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prep Test

So today we had a little test of some of our preps. The utility company cut power in the neighborhood for maintenance between 8AM and 3PM. We learned a lot about what we had done right, and also what we had not done right. Here is a rundown of what we were able to test.

Water - without power, we have no running water from the well. We have a generator that can run the well pump, but we also have plenty of water stored. This proved to be a non issue. Water for toilet flushing was taken from the rain barrel, and the mellow yellow rule was applied.

Campstove - we only used our one burner butane model which boiled water (coffee) in just a couple of minutes. This stove is safe to use indoors, and we have several cans of fuel in reserve.

Radio - two battery powered radios were tested. The first is a small one powered by 4 rechargeable AA batteries. The sound quality was not great, but we were able to get FM stations for entertainment as well as local AM stations for news. The second unit was a larger radio powered by 6 C alkaline batteries. The sound was more clear and we were able to pick up more stations on both FM and AM.

Refrigerators/ freezers - were full and kept cold for the entire 8 hours. We took an ice pack, some canned drinks, and sandwiches out this morning and put them in a cooler so we didn't have to keep opening the doors. If the power had not come back soon, I would have had to get them on the generator to cool down for a while.

Entertainment - We have small children that get bored easily. An inexpensive, but new toy solved that problem in short order. The older kids found things to do outdoors (for a change).

Back up 120v - I failed on this booster pack had not been charged and would not power the inverter I planned on using to power my laptop and DSL modem. I will have to be more careful about keeping the batteries charged.

Curtains were kept drawn to keep the sun from heating up the house. In winter, the reverse would be employed to help heat along with the wood stove.

All in all it was not that great of a deal. If I were so inclined, I could have powered the inverter from a spare car battery, or even the car itself, so it pays to have a backup. I was really interested to find out just how long the 2 fridges and the deep freeze could last without power, and am glad to find out that my plan to use the generator for only a couple hours 3 times a day to cool down the fridges and pump fresh well water into containers seems to be a sound idea.

Maybe you should get your electric company to do some maintenance , so you can test your plans also...we learned a lot about what we were good on, and where we needed improvement.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Latest LDS Preparedness Manual - free download

In my prepping journey I have had some strange looks when I mention I am aiming for food storage for a year (I have a long way to go!)  Some people have asked if I've switched faiths and become Mormon - ah no.  I believe however 
they DO have the right idea when it comes to food storage and being prepared for emergencies.

Photo credit
It makes perfect sense to me that being prepared is a wise way to live.  From the simple glitches in finances due to unforeseen circumstances to weather related storms and the further out-there scenarios that some call TEOTWAWKI - The End Of The World As We Know It.  Anything that turns our worlds up-side-down is bound to be easier to handle if we have some preparations in place.

Since the Mormons were pioneers in the Food Storage & Preparedness idea I take their research on how to store foods seriously.  They have researched HOW to store foods most effectively and have laboratory data to back it up.  The other articles fall naturally in place when you look at WHY you should have food storage.

The author/compiler writes: This book is NOT an original work.  Rather, it is a compilation of many different author’s works that have been gathered from the public domain of the Internet over the course of many years. These articles have been bound together and are presented here to simplify your access to them.

This is a FREE 509 page download - LDS Preparedness Manual

I've read many of these articles over the years on their respective websites and blogs and have a good sense that these are people who know what they are talking about.  This is a very worthwhile download!  

As the author/compiler writes in the forward:  this is NOT something to tuck away until something bad happens - this is how to get ready BEFORE something bad happens.

The contents are directed towards people who are LDS so there is some information about wards and leadership that don't apply to me so I just skip over it and carry on.

Here's a quick look at some of what this book contains:

Section 1: Emergency Preparedness. Why?
  • Normalcy Bias, It’s All in your Head, by Survivalmom
  • Understanding the Normalcy Bias Could Save Your Life, by Confab

  • The Five Principles of Preparedness, Phil Burns
  • Mental & Spiritual Preparations for Survival, by jc
  • How Long until You Starve?, by Mr. Yankee
  • General Preparedness Survey, by Christopher Parrett
  • Five Levels of Preparedness, by Suburbanprep

Section 2: Getting Started
  • LDS Church FAMILY HOME STORAGE KITS, by Christopher Parrett  
  • Food Storage, by Christopher Parrett  
  • BARE-MINIMUM Food Storage Requirements, by Christopher Parrett
  • Our Food Supply is Fragile, by Christopher Parrett
  • Do you Really have a Year’s Supply??, By Christopher Parrett

  • Food Storage Tools & References
  • Basic Food List, by Lynette B. Crockett
  • Long Term Master Food List, by Christopher Parrett
  • One Year Supply Guide, by Dealsonmeals
  • Monthly Food Storage Purchasing Calendar, by Andrea Chapman
  • 30 Day Emergency Food Supply, by by Robert Wayne Atkins
  • Real-World One-Year Emergency Food Supply , by by Robert Wayne Atkins
  • The Seven Major Mistakes in Food Storage, By Vickie Tate
  • Common Storage Foods, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Grains & Legumes
  • Grains and Flours, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Legume Varieties, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Availability of Grains & Legumes, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Moisture Content in Grains & Legumes, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Grains Cooking Chart
  • Basic Cooking Instructions for Grains & Legumes, by Zel Allen

  • Sugar, Milk Fats & Oils
  • Sugar, Honey and Sweeteners, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Dairy Products, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Canned Fluid Milks and Cremes, Butter, Cheese, Eggs, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Infant Formula, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Fats and Oils, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Cooking Essentials
  • Cooking Adjuncts, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Processing & Preservation
  • Storage Life of Dehydrated Food, By Al Durtschi
  • Shelf Life Studies, by by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
  • Pros & Cons of Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, MRE, etc, by Skipper Clark
  • MREs, Meal Ready to Eat, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Sprouting
  • Growing and Using Sprouts, by Al Durtschi
  • Survival Seeds, by suburbanprep
  • Seed List

  • Storage
  • Storage Containers, By Alan T. Hagan
  • LDS Church Plastic Buckets for Longer-Term Food
  • LDS Church Pouch Sealer Instructions
  • Oxygen Absorbers, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Moisture Control in Packing and Food Storage, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Spoilage, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Recommended Food Storage Times, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Space Cramp, Where do I Put it all?? by Kim Hicken

Section 3: Every Needful Thing
  • Get a Kit, Make a Plan, by Christopher Parrett
  • Building the right Bug Out Kit for you, by Westfalia
  • OK, But what do I prepare for?, by Capt. Dave
  • Survival Priorities” The Rule of Three, by Thesurvivalmom

  • 72 Hour Emergency Kit (Get Out Of Dodge / Bug Out Bag)
  • A High Mobility 72 Hour Kit, by Ward Dorrity
  • Tools for your Vehicle, by Ward Dorrity
  • Get Out Of Dodge / Bug Out Bag checklist, by Chris Parrett
  • The Supply Table: The Master Preparedness List, by Chris Parrett

  • Evacuation
  • The 3rd Wave, Evacuation From A Disaster Location, by ST
  • Bug Out Trigger Criteria, by Mr. Jones
  • Understanding Everyone In the City Will Be a Refugee Post SHTF, by Suburban

  • Communication
  • Communications Family Ready, by Amy Loveless
  • Radio Spectrum, by Brian S
  • LDS Emergency Communications, by Dennis Bartholomew
  • General Radio Primer, by Bidah
  • Basics of Radio Communication, by Brian S
  • Sample Stake Communications Plan, by Brian S.
  • Survival Communications Primer, by Vector Joe
  • Sample Family Emergency Communications Plan, by Brian S.

  • Financial
  • Money, Edited by Christopher Parrett
  • Setting up and Emergency Cash Stash, by RusherJim
  • Debt and Preparedness, by iprepared
  • Get out of debt while you can, by preppingtosurvive

  • Medical
  • Medical Kits for Self-Reliant Families, by Jackie Clay
  • TEOTWAWKI Medical Kits, by Survival and Austere Medicine
  • Seven Antibiotics to Stockpile and Why, by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD
  • Using Expired Medications, by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

  • Defense
  •  Defense, Edited by Christopher Parrett
  • Selecting a Preparedness Battery of Firearms, by Sergeant

  • Heating, Cooking, Lighting
  • Survival Fire Safety, by Mr. F
  • Emergency Heating & Cooking, by Greg Pope
  • Emergency Lighting, by Robert Roskind & Brandon Mansfield
  • Emergency Electrical Lighting, by Robert Roskind & Brandon Mansfield
  • A Short Course on Batteries, by Brandon Mansfield
  • Off Grid Power, by Brian S
  • Electric Generators, By Steve Dunlop

  • Clothing
  • Clothing, Edited by Chris Parrett
  • Warm, Protected and Modest: What to Wear in Difficult Times, by Marilyn
  • Winter Clothes For Preparedness Survival, preparedness1
  • Clothing Checklist By Jessica
  • Washing clothing after TEOTWAWKI, by Kylene

  • Shelter
  • Emergency Shelter, by Larry Bethers

  • Sanitation
  • Emergency Sanitation, by Greg Pope.
  • Emergency Toilets & Garbage Disposal, by Alan T. Hagan
  • Emergency Sanitation – The Scoop on Poop, by Kylene
  • Controlling Odors, by Kylene
  • TEOTWAWKI smells bad, get used to it !!, by Suburban Prep

  • Testing your Preparedness
  • 3 Minutes without Breathing, by Mayo Foundation
  • 3 Hours without Shelter, by Jon Doran
  • 3 Days without Water, Bill Straka
  • Water, by Paxton Turner
  • 3 Weeks without Food By Ron Shirtz
  • Surviving in the City, Edited by Christopher Parrett

  • Babies and Small Children
  • Baby Gear for TEOTWAWKI, by
  • Getting Children Involved in Preparing, by
  • What Do You Tell the Children?, by
  • Avoiding Fear, by

  • Facts about Avian Influenza, US Government
  • Preparing for a Pandemic Outbreak (SIRQ) Plan, by Madison Hospital
  • Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine
  • Medical Quarantine Protecting Your Family from Infection, by Dr. Cynthia Koelker
  • Basic Pandemic Supply List
  • Isolation Room Setup

  • Terrorist Attack
  • National Security Emergencies, by National Terror Alert
  • What to do if Nuclear Disaster is Imminent, by Ki4U

  • TEOTWAWKI, by “Survivinghealthy”
  • The Precepts of My Preparedness Philosophy, by James Rawles
  • On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs, by LTC Dave Frossman
  • 100 Emergency Items: That Will Disappear First, by Tess Pennington
  • Some Ground Truth-The “Us” & the “Them” in a Societal Collapse, by RJ
  • Fears of a Prepper, by ST
  • Unprepared: Welcome to the Promissed Land, by Rod E.
  • I Am Your Worst Nightmare, by Dan at “”
  • The Thin Blue Line, by Deputy W.
  • The Overnighters: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, by Frank C.
  • Why Prepare, when I can take it from the Mormons?, by Rambuff
  • Thoughts on Disaster Survival, post Katrina , By Anonymous
  • A Look Back At Katrina… An Expereinced Prepper Tells All, by Raptor
  • Lessons from Argentina’s economic collapse, By ferfal
  • A First-Hand Account of Long-Term “SHTF” Survival in Bosnia, by Selco
  • Society’s Five Stages of Economic Collapse, by “”
  • EMP, Electromagnetic Pulse, by Tom S
  • MZBs:Are you prepared?, by “”

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mountainman's Roadtrip Update

Howdy Folks,

It has been a great journey so far!! WOW!! Canada Day in Ottawa. A must see, at least once in a lifetime, for every Canadian.

Sorry for the big delay since my last post. I have had some tech difficulties, lack of time and a lack of internet access. After an 18 hour day touring the Nation's Capital and a glitch at the campsite, kept me off the air.

So, sorry JustABear, that we could not meet up at Fergus.

I will check for PM's before we hit the road in the morning. We are currently just East of Quebec City, continueing our travels Eastward. Should be in New Brunswick tomorrow, around their capital.

What have I noticed during this tri across our great country?? Well, I notice how similar we are from West to East. The land and terrain may change but the people are great. Other observations. Those who mentioned setting up camp on the Bruce Peninsula, if you are near the top, I see no reason why this would not work. Great farmland, great woodlots, defendable areas. Climate seems good, first crops were being harvested as we passed through the area = long growing season compared to the Prairies. You would probably get two harvests instead of one on the Prairies.

The Townships South and East of Ottawa look good too. Not sure of price in that area. The area around Lake Superior between Thunder Bay and The Soo, very wild.

Well that is it for now,