Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Top Three Methods To Preserve Your Harvest

Yes, that's right folks, harvest time is right around the corner!  Finally, all that hard work put in since before the snow was even completely gone is about to pay off.  If you're like me, you have already been enjoying the bounty all summer long with fresh greens, ripe red tomatoes, crispy cucumbers and much much more.  But let's face it, a big part of growing your own food as a prepper is to be able to grow more than you can eat at the harvest time and put some of that food up.  Here are the three most popular ways to do this:

1 - Home Canning
There are two ways to can your food and each is specific to the foods you are trying to preserve.  With home canning, the factor that will determine how you do this is food acidity. 

 High acid foods such as tomatoes and most fruit can be water bath canned.  Simply put, the food is placed in sterilized canning jars and the whole thing, jar and all is boiled for a certain amount of time in order to kill harmful bacteria and seal the jar to prevent spoilage. The high acidity in these types of food help a great deal in killing the bacteria and making your food safe.

Low acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and others MUST be pressure canned.  A special pressure canner (not a pressure cooker) must be used for this.  Given the lack of acid to help kill bacteria, a higher temperature must be attained and maintained in order to make the food safe.  Pressure canners do this by increasing the temperature inside the canner.  I won't get into the physics here, but that is the basic idea.

Of course, with either method of canning, different foods will have different processing times. Consult a reputable canning book such as the USDA guide to home canning or the Ball Blue Book of canning for specific instructions.

2 - Dehydrating
 I'm sure you have all seen the different blog posts, youtube videos and instructables showing how to build and use a solar dehydrator.  Unfortunately, due to the relative humidity levels in Canada, this simply doesn't work too well here.  You will need to purchase an electric dehydrator to do this effectively and safely.

As with canning, different foods need different processing times and you should seek out a reliable guide before you dive in.  Dehydrating has some advantages over canning in that you do not need to buy special containers to hold you food.  Anything that keeps out light and air will do...Tupperware does a good job of this, but also food grade buckets, freezer bags, etc. can be used.

3 - Root Cellaring
Sure, building a root cellar is a lot of work.  If you can't do this in an outside corner of your basement, you may need to dig one outdoors.  Hiring an excavator can make this a quick and back pain free exercise, but can add expense. The whole idea is to keep food cool and humid.  Again, different foods need different temperatures and humidity levels, so dividing your root cellar into two separated rooms might be a good idea. 

The biggest advantage to root cellars is that once built, there are no additional costs for special containers and lids, nor the need for a power grid to get it working.  The down side is that not all produce is suited to root cellaring.  Produce such as apples, potatoes, squash, and many root vegetables do well, but don't expect a harvest of green beans to last.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all three of these storage methods and simply put, there is no one solution that will work on it's own.  As with most things in life, diversity is the key and a combination of all of the above will give the best compromise to your harvest preserving needs.

Happy Harvesting!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

12 No-Cost Ways to become More Prepared

Often becoming more prepared for life's curve balls has a lot to do with getting better organized and less to do with spending a ton of money. I've come up with 12 simple FREE ways to help us all to head down the road of preparedness while getting better organized.  Maybe you've already got some of these covered - check it off the list and move on.  If not why not add some of these to your to-do list.

Step by step to getting prepared for emergencies.

1. Make a contact list with phone numbers and ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers.  When the power goes out and your cellphone dies with all your phone numbers in it you will thank me. Years ago we were stuck on a highway in northern Ontario because an accident had closed the road. A woman was walking from car to car asking if anyone had a charger for her specific type of phone - not so she could make a phone call but so she could look up the phone number she needed that was only located in her dead phone.  Keeping the lines of communication open in any situation is important.  Post the list in a handy place - the side of the fridge for example and also keep a copy in your purse of wallet.  Add an ICE contact to the main screen of your cell phone so emergency personal can find it quickly.

2. Put away some water. When you're getting started you don't need fancy water storage containers - you can find all you need in your own recycle bin or the neighbours perhaps.  Wash and fill juice or pop containers with tap water and put them in an out of the way spot.  You can also place almost full jugs in the freezer to make it more efficient and to extend the freeze if the power goes out.  If you re-use empty bleach bottles or vinegar bottles mark them clearly - FOR CLEANING or flushing PURPOSES ONLY.

3. Create a starter BOB/GHB with things you already own. BOB is an acronym for a Bug Out Bag and GHB is a Get Home Bag.  It basically a bag full of helpful items that you might need if you ever had to leave home in a hurry or you wanted to get home in less than ideal circumstances.  I wonder if the most common reason for not having a BOB is that you can't make a perfect one so you don't make one at all?  Grab an old knapsack and look around the house.  Throw in an extra blanket, some granola bars and a flashlight and you have a start. I recommend going beyond that but the key is to get started and to use what you already have.  Keep the BOB in your vehicle or close to the back door so you can grab it if you need to leave in a hurry. 

4. Make a binder with super simple recipes. I'm all for gourmet meals but when life gets complicated I just want to eat things I am used to and the simpler the better.  I know how to make many things without a recipe but no one else can make it like mom if it's not written down some where!  Start a recipe box or a binder and write out explicit instructions for making your family favorites.

5. Search the house for all those random candles and put them together with some matches in a closet or drawer where you can find them if you need them.  Look for flashlights while you're at it and check the batteries.  Leave a little LED flashlight beside every bed or hang them on the back side of the door on the handle.

6. Find time to do the most important things.  We all have an idea about the things we would like to accomplish but often we end up doing things every day that waste time - too much Facebook or surfing the net maybe?? - cut down on the time wasters and put your plans into action.  Find ways to incorporate more good things like exercise and healthy eating into your routine.

7. Find money to purchase the most important things by checking your spending - look for money-wasters as ways to save so you can use the money for stocking up or taking a First Aid course.  Eating out or fast food - count the cost of what your meal would cost you at home - take note however because somehow it doesn't taste as good then!

8. Use what you have!  You know you have that certain item somewhere but you can't remember where it is so you buy another one.  Get organized so you can find it and then get creative using up what you already have.  Need bathtub cleaner?  Why not use that horrible shampoo that's been languishing in the back of the closet. It's still soap!  Use the random cleaners up (and then switch to vinegar for cleaning and make your own homemade laundry detergent to save even more!) Eat to the bottom of the freezer or the pantry and use up the little bits and the leftovers - it may save you a week or more worth of grocery money.

8.  Get prepared for being prepared by cleaning out a closet or an area in the basement/garage/laundry room where you can keep some shelf stable food or keep some camping gear a little more handy.  Being organized will spur you on to do even more!

9. Search your home for containers and organizers to stash your preparedness supplies.  Got baskets, fancy boxes, leftover shoe boxes, Dutchman's Tupperware (aka yogurt containers)? Keep them all together to help you keep your purchases organized when finances allow.

10. While you're cleaning out your closets take a hard look at what you have and what you actually need.  Donate the good stuff to a thrift store and dump the rest.  Make room for things that really matter.

11. Clean and organize your vehicle and add basics supplies.  A clean vehicle is one less stressor in the day.  Keep it tidy.  Do you have a set of booster cables in the garage - they won't help you if your battery dies in the Costco parking lot!  Put a plastic bin in the trunk and fill it with windshield wiper fluid, oil, fix-a-flat etc.  Look around for what you already have and make a list if you still need some things. Think about what else you might like to have if you're stuck on the side of the road with hungry and bored kids. Hand sanitizer, water bottles, snacks, a few books to read.  Keep them corralled so they don't end up under the seat with the squished up cheerios!

12. Start a change jar and keep your quarters and toonies and loonies.(or $1/$2 if you aren't Canadian)  OK this last one will cost money but starting the jar with the change under the couch cushions will hopefully start a good habit.

What your favorite no-cost way to prep?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Preppertalk on Twitter now on the Blog!

I have been asked several times about getting a chat room opened up for preppers and, at one point I actually tried it, but with little success.  There is, however, a great resource that already exists using Twitter.
It's called Preppertalk and it has it's very own hashtag.  I had a chance to ask Preppertalk creator, Survivor Jane a few questions....

Q: How did it start?

A: #Preppertalk was created out of the frustration at trying to connect with other preparedness-minded people on Twitter. There was no easy way to identity a person by their profile name as to whether they were preparedness-minded or not; unless of course they had "prepper survivor survivalist etc" in their name. So I created the hashtag #preppertalk and began inviting others who had an interest in prepping to join in discussions and share articles and information with each other.  It was an instant success!

Q: How does someone take part?

A: There are two ways to join in on #Preppertalk - while on Twitter you can type #preppertalk into the search box for the timeline or use this link Once in the timeline add #Preppertalk to each of your tweets to comment, share or respond to others. What #preppertalk is not is a place to sell things.

Q: When?

A: #Preppertalk has become international with users world-wide, so it is now on-going, day and night, 24/7.  Every evening at 6pmET to 9pmET preppers come together for a tweet chat to discuss a diffetent topic each night; again sharing their thoughts suggestions and ideas with one another.

With the interest in this venue increasing, The Canadian Preppers Network Blog will now feature the conversation live!  Just go to the bottom of the blog and read all about what other preppers are talking about.  Also, join the conversation right here!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Is Storing Food A Crime? by Cherise from Chylan Emergency Gear

Left to Right: Jordyn, Dylan, Kalen, Cherise and Landen 
Before getting started, I would like to make a brief intro as a first time blogger on CPN.  We are Cherise and Dylan and together we run a family operated self-reliance business in Surrey, BC, called Chylan Emergency Gear Inc.   I am honored that we are able to share our experiences through this channel and look forward to hearing your stories too.  As part of the sponsor blogger program, we will be giving away prizes each month starting this September.  We encourage you to ask questions, request topics and even put in a good word for your desired prize give away, feel free to browse our website and make some suggestions.  Now on to this week’s topic, the controversial laws on Food and Water Storage……here we go!

After digging my heels into some research about the laws in conjunction with food storage I came across some interesting information that, in my opinion, may answers the question often brought up by our customers. “Are we breaking the law when storing large amounts of food?”.  My personal opinion on food storage is to store what you eat.  If you are storing and preserving what you eat you have no worries and no waist.   The laws are pretty much parallel.  Although there is no specific law at this time regarding storing food there are laws addressing hording food, which mainly are in place to eliminate waist. If you are storing food in a responsible manner i.e., freeze dried, dehydrated, preserved etc. you don’t have much to worry about if you keep your storing to yourself and a trusted network.  If word gets out that you have a stocked pantry, there are present laws that give the government the authority to seize your food assets.   Your pantry could be distributed, in a state of emergency, to others that the government deems the most in need.  

The laws against food storing go back to 1918, during World War 1 when the Canadian Food Board was put into place.  Laws evolved from the desperate food troubles across Canada due to war, drought and shortage of workers.  Only essential uses of certain goods such as cane sugar, which was strictly regulated during WW1, were permitted.  Icing sugars, candies and other non essential uses of sugar where prohibited.

The current orders and regulations that apply against food storage exist in the Canadian Emergency Measures act, specifically in section 8:

8. (1) While a declaration of a public welfare emergency is in effect, the Governor in Council may make such orders or regulations with respect to the following matters as the Governor in Council believes, on reasonable grounds, are necessary for dealing with the emergency:
 (e) the regulation of the distribution and availability of essential goods, services and resources;

Did you know? 

William Shakespeare had a lesser known role as an illegal food hoarder.  Shakespeare bought and stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbours and local tradesmen. He was pursued by authorities for tax evasion, and in 1598 he was prosecuted for hoarding grain during a time of shortage.  Click here to read more. 

You can be arrested in certain US States for collecting rain water on your land. An Oregon man went to jail for storing water on his land.  Watch this YouTube video for Gary Harrington's side of the story.  Click here for an article written in the Huffington Post: Gary Harrington, Oregon Resident, Sentenced To Jail For Stockpiling Rainwater

Visit us online at or in person at #109-6039 196th Street in Surrey.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Use renewable Resources For Bartering

In a post collapse situation, having items stored in surplus for bartering is an essential part of prepping.  However, you can only stock up on so much of any consumable item and your supplies will eventually run out, thus liberating you of your bargaining power.

Enter renewable bartering...the use of renewable items and skills that can be traded for what you need that others have.  Here is a list, albeit incomplete, of the top renewables that you can produce for bartering.

Alcohol & Tobacco - brewing beer and fermenting wine is legal for personal use, so you can perfect your skills now with no worries.  Of course, learning at least the theory behind distillation would be a great idea, as distilled alcohol can be used for fuel, disinfection, and yes, drinking.  Keep in mind that the distillation of alcohol IS NOT LEGAL in Canada, however, in a situation where law enforcement has gone the way of the dinosaur, this could be a useful skill to have.  In addition, you could also offer some homemade lamps and stoves made from scavenged materials.

                                 - Growing tobacco is legal, believe it or not with a few restrictions on quantity.  Learning to grow tobacco is about as easy as tomatoes, so go ahead and give it a try.  There are some details to learn in regards to drying it, but now is the time to figure that out.  Seeds can be had online for around $5.00 per hundred.  You may also want to try carving some smoking pipes, as rolling papers are likely to be in limited supply.

Keep in mind though, that people who have not been able to feed addictions for any given amount of time can become unpredictable.  If you plan to barter with other preppers that you have known for some time, you should be OK.  However, trading addictive substances with people that you don't know well can have implications and attract unwanted personalities.

Food - keep the use of food for bartering to a food for food trade.  Perhaps you are quite proficient at growing tomatoes, but just don't have the space for wheat.  Setting up this sort of produce for produce trade system now will let you get to know your bartering partners as well as strengthen community relations, which will be of utmost importance when all hell breaks loose.

Energy - Becoming the local power company in a SHTF scenario would be invaluable.  No, you don't have to set up a huge power generation system and distribution lines to all your neighbors.  A simple alternative energy system comprised of solar panels, wind turbine, micro hydro, or even a bicycle turning an alternator would give you the ability to recharge batteries.  Of course, there is some cost layout to this, but many preppers are already looking into ways of producing at least some power for themselves.  A little extra now could put you in a great bargaining place later.

Skills - This is probably the most renewable thing you can have.  Once aquired, you can give it away without fear of ever running out.  Learning how to do some home repairs, carving, basket weaving, or what have you, can not only be rewarding now, but very valuable post poop.

Labour - The saying that time is money is one of my least favorite expressions.  Time is the one thing that is given to us free of charge every day that the sun rises.  Being in shape to offer physical labor will be of great value to those that simply can't do physically demanding work.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Survivalism? - A Guest Post By Lee Flynn

Why Survivalism?

Why should the average American citizen bother with survivalism? Well, because as advanced as our modern world is, it’s easy to get fooled into believing that the complex system that controls our society is one that can never be toppled. However, the truth is that the more complex a system is, the more likely that it will eventually fail. With economic problems, dwindling energy reserves, threats from foreign nations and terrorist groups, and natural disasters, the likelihood that you will find yourself in a survival situation is always increasing.
Perhaps the biggest issue to consider is our nation’s dependence on technology. A century ago, getting cut off from the rest of the world or losing power for a month wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Now, how many of us would be able to adequately function without the use of the internet for a month, to say nothing of amenities such as plumbing or electricity?

So, when faced with the disturbing nature of things to come, the only real answer is preparation. However, preparation is a blanket term that can mean less than nothing without proper know-how. For example, the way one goes about preparing for a hurricane is different from the way a person should prepare for a disease epidemic. The best thing that you can do is take care of your general needs, and then move onto more specific preparations. There are a few things that you should do no matter where you live or what disasters or emergencies you might face. First and foremost, stock up on emergency food storage. Don’t go to the extreme by getting hundreds of dollars in special foods or dehydrated meals, just buy more of what you would usually get at the store (assuming it won’t go bad too quickly) and create a three-month supply. Rotate the storage out regularly so that you are constantly eating the older food and replacing it with new. Some long term nonperishable items should also be stored, just in case. But remember, things like canned goods only last for about five years or less; ready to eat meals last for only three years or so. Also, store water so that your family won’t have to go looking for other water sources. A person requires a minimum of about 1 gallon per day to survive. So if you have a family of four, you’ll need over 360 gallons to make it through a 90 day emergency period, and that’s not taking into account the water needed for bathing or washing clothes, or what would be needed for dehydrated food. You should also stock up on first aide and medical supplies, including any necessary medications. A portable gas powered generator can be very useful in survival situations, but just remember: it won’t do you any good if you don’t have fuel, and storing gasoline can be difficult or even dangerous.

For specific disasters, you’ll need to do a little research before you can gather together an adequate survival kit. Check with local authorities for recommendations on what to include and how to best handle whatever situations you might find yourself in.

Lastly, be sure that your family has a detailed survival plan in case something unexpected should happen. Have your children memorize this plan, and conduct regular practice sessions to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind. Doing so will also make the idea of a disaster less scary for them, and they’ll be better able to handle it should a real emergency strike.

Survivalism isn’t just for grizzled men who live in the woods and hate the government; it’s something that everyone in the country should practice. Perhaps the best answer to the question of “Why survivalism” is this: Because bad things happen. But when they do, if you’re prepared, you don’t need to fear.

Lee Flynn is a freelance writer interested in helping others develop self reliance through food storage.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Announcing the new Sponsored Post Program

The Canadian Preppers Network is excited to announce its new Sponsored Post Program.  The CPN will be accepting posts from various companies that provide the very best in preparedness products and services.  Trusted names in the preparedness and survival industry will be posting articles here on the blog.  With their expertise and experience, I believe that this is a great way to bring you informed and relevant information.

Our first Sponsored Post Program participant is Briden Solutions out of Calgary, Alberta.  The team at Briden not only talks the talk, but walks the walk as well.  They are not simple opportunists jumping on the bandwagon for a quick buck, but had gathered over a decade of experience in preparedness, coaching  others through the maze of both short term and long term preparedness before opening their doors in 2009.

"Through our company Briden Solutions we are able to channel our passion for helping individuals, families and communities to become better prepared. Our underlying goal is to teach and help as many others as possible to prepare themselves effectively and efficiently."

Briden Solutions will also be offering monthly giveaways through various contests and draws through our online forum.  Check out our first draw here, and please, visit their website and help support those who support us!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review - Living On The Edge by F.J. Bohan

Here is the second of three reviews I am doing for this author.  I suspect this one, Living On The Edge, A Family's Journey to Self Sufficiency, will be my favorite.  I must admit that I hardly ever read book introductions.  I find that they are usually just a blurb spewed out by the author or publisher meant to attract the attention of those that are browsing in the book stores.  Not so with this one.  It is a clear and concise depiction of the events and perceptions that led the author to take the action that he did.  Most noteworthy to me was the last two lines...

"By sharing our experiences, it is my hope that I can help others better understand some of the concerns and issues they too may face in living off-grid.  Perhaps they can better avoid some of the mistakes we made in order to have a better start than my family did."

I have seen first hand, the unwillingness of some preppers to share the details of what they have done.  Why this lack of sharing exists, I don't really know, but it was refreshing to read from someone who has the true spirit of sharing knowledge and experience. The world not only needs more preppers and survivalists, but more of them just like F.J. Bohan!

Some of the examples of this sharing attitude come through prominently in the book.  Subjects like outhouses may seem simple to many, but there are many factors that have to be considered that not everyone will.  While we read about tent living in less than ideal locations and climates, we also get e new and valuable perspective from someone with experience.

If you have ever dreamed of just picking up and heading out into the world with what little possessions fit into a truck and trailer, or wonder what it would be like to have no choice but to bug out permanently this way, this book will give you a clear image of what to expect in regards to topics you have no experience about as well as some fresh insight into subject you thought you had figured out.

Available from Paladin Press here at just $16.00, well worth the money!