Category Archives: Getting started

Controlling what you can influence

I know the title is boring, but this is one of the most importing mental exercise you can prepare for, so bear with me.

Have you heard of the topic of Circle of Concern vs. your Circle of Influence? If not, this will help you to focus on what is important, rather than things out of your control.

Steven Covey is the author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I have not personally read the book, but have heard about this habit and latched on to it. My take from this habit is there is too many things to worry about: National politics, global warming (or cooling depending on the day), ebola, peak gas, and many other things that are definitely a concern, but no matter what what you do, you could have no affect on them at all. The more important part of his ideal is the Circle of Influence, or what is within your control. You can influence local politics for your community, prepare to live in a warmer (or cooler) environment, wash your hands often, build sustainable power systems, etc.. Rather then dwell on these huge issues and feel depressed, spend your time on things you know you will need. I don’t know about you, but I eat food three times a day, require water to drink a few times daily, and need a sanitary way to pass the excess. The more important point I am trying to make is that all these concerns don’t mean anything after a couple of days without water, or a couple of weeks without food. I could spend my entire life and never vote, or consume the last drop of gas.

There is little need to worry about the significant issues we face globally, but working to guide your lifestyle to adapt and hopefully prosper during these tough times may be the most important thing you do for your family, or community.

Whatever is really happening at the highest levels in World Government is unknown. The certain result is a dividing of us to serve a purpose. Whether they have us arguing about black vs. white, Democrat vs. Republican, rich vs. poor, the majority of people help them further their control, and nothing positive as a whole results from it. By ignoring the dichotomy, turning off the news, building relationships in your neighborhood help to loosen their grip of control.

Hopefully enough people stop paying attention to the clowns running the show, and start to build sustainable lifestyles when they are deemed irrelevant. Working towards goals you have influence upon will keep your focus because I only see the list of concerns growing with each and every clown voted into the upper levels of government.

Are you prepared for an Ebola outbreak?

If you are not, then don’t worry too much (about Ebola that is). There are many reasons every household should have some preparations in order, and Ebola is not necessarily one of them. With all the media hype surrounding this horrific disease, the chances of it affecting you directly is almost zero.

The things you should be preparing for are not that glamorous or sexy, or receive the media hype that a pandemic can create. The potential for a job loss, localized weather events or family medical issues that could prevent you from working, or generating the income needed for day to day life has almost a 100 percent chance of happening to all households. The fact that you have some extra food, some extra money set aside for paying the bills and other common supplies set aside for a rainy day, may help offset the lost income during one of these mini-emaergencies.

If you have not started preparing, please start now. It does not matter what reason you prepare for, you won’t get to choose which disaster affects you. If it happens to you, it can be fairly certain having these supplies can make a difference during that hardship.

Start gardening now, or pay the price

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

It is getting closer to spring (thank goodness), and time is quickly approaching for getting the gardens ready. If you are not a gardener, then this year should be the kick in the rear to get you started. If you have been following the news lately, you should have heard that California is continuing another drought year with a bang. It has been reported that the largest state for producing many of the fruits and vegetables we see at the store has only received 1/4th of the snowfall they normally would get. Compound this with the dependence on diverted water from nearby states and environmental restrictions to save some endangered slug, prices and availability of common food you buy will be that kick you need. The government has already stated that they will not provide needed water from their stockpile to irrigate farmland, due to a limited initial supply for this year.

Gardening is a crazy mix between and art and a science. Starting a garden this year provides knowledge and experience for next year, and for life. These lessons compound over time and the yields increase each year due to the skill you learn and better soil care. Now is the time to be starting seeds. If you are not experienced at gardening, please ask a neighbor, friend, look online, or get some books to help get your garden started right.

The quality of the food you grow will be much healthier for you as compared to the “science” used by large scale growers to grow the redder and bigger than belief tomato that shows up at your grocery store weeks after it was picked. The taste and nutrition factor of food you can grow will be superior to most of the food in the stores, but it unfortunately may not look exactly like what you may be used to.

Learn to can extra food that you have grown, to fill your pantry and remind you of your hard work during the growing season. There are many reasons for food prices to rise, and it seems this year is going to be especially difficult, and we are not even out of February yet.

Take care,

SHTF Chickens, Bock bock

We have had chickens for the last 5-6 years, and they have been enjoyable little workers for our tiny homestead. Awhile ago I was one of the Trustees for our large plot subdivision, that prohibits having chickens. My wife wanted chickens, and she ignored my dislike of the idea, and spoke with the other Trustees. She was asking for a variance to the subdivision rules, and followed their direction getting signatures from a portion of the other homeowners. Once complete, then they had other hoops for her to jump through just to get a vote to change the rules. What??? She just wanted a variance, not to change the rules, or to jump through more hoops to be told no. She asked what would happen if she just got them, and they replied they would sue (with a grin on his face, because he know there were much bigger fish to fry than a pretty girl’s chickens).

So, now we had to build a coop. The coop measured about 8 foot by 4 foot, and about 5 foot high at the top of the angled roof. The floor of the coop is layered with wood shavings and a nesting box provides access into the coop to grab the eggs. My wife built a run measuring 8 foot by 20, out of regular lumber and covered it with chicken wire. The chickens were ordered in a group of 25 baby hens, and she raised them, then found a new home for half of them, as she originally only wanted about a dozen birds.

Chicken coop

The birds are allowed to free range throughout the day, and they find their way back into the coop as the sun is setting. We will go out in the evening to close the run and the coop, and open it all up the next morning. A couple of times, the run gets closed before they retire for the night, and we have had to hunt them down roosting in trees and behind bushes in the middle of the night. There is chicken feed to supplement the food they can find free ranging. Their egg production for the first few years was great, we would net about 8 eggs every day. We could had more if we ran a light 16 hours a day in the coop. Now that the remainder of those chickens are older, egg production has dwindled to almost none. She has a couple of new batches of hens (and a rooster, hope the neighbors aren’t too annoyed) that she has raised since May.

The chickens help the yard by scratching around looking for bugs. They are entertaining to watch how they interact with each other and handle their “pecking order”. One bit of advice though, don’t let your wife name them after her aunts, because it is difficult to tell the family that a stray dog, or another predator has killed the chicken named after them. The chickens we have are basically pets that luckily have a small production quality, rather than just being consumers. We have considered getting birds to raise for meat, but we are not ready for handling the day the culling would happen just yet, although the quality of meat would be far superior to what the grocery stores offer.

Chicken coop

We also realized how little is known about chicken reproduction. We have been asked numerous time about why we get eggs when we (at the time) did not have a rooster. We also were surprised when someone couldn’t believe we would eat brown eggs that came out of a chicken’s butt. So I asked where the white eggs she buys at the store come from (and watched a blank stare of realization happening). The eggs are very fresh and look much richer than eggs bought from the store, and likely they are a month or two fresher.

If you have some space and the desire to raise chickens, they will be an asset to your little homestead too. Please feel free to comment with your questions or tell us about your flock.


Got Preps?

Not long ago, prepping had a negative stigma attached to it. Now all the mainstream outlets are cashing in on the idea with the reality based programs that don’t seem to realistically portray being prepared. The validity of the network and the participants are suspect, and the networks get the ratings they are looking for. The reality is, up until a couple generations ago, prepping (more accurately homesteading) was key to our existence. In many areas during that time, there was not a convenience store, or supermarket close, and likely a family may only get out to shop a few times a month.

Being prepared should be more of a responsibility than a hobby. Providing basic needs for your family, when they will need it most, is common sense.

There are also some basic skills every adult should know or learn. Even just some general knowledge about basic homesteading skills can go a long way to make an extended event manageable. There is a never-ending list of skills that would be helpful, or even profitable if normal day to day activities stop. If you are already a skilled mechanic, blacksmith, gardener, seamstress or hunter, just to name a few, your community would benefit from your knowledge, and you can use your trade to barter for needed supplies or services. For those of us whose current trade may be useless in an extended event (I manage computer networks, and won’t have much to do), then it is important to work on the most basic skills like: being able to start a fire using 3 different methods, gardening, foraging for food, fishing, hunting, building strong community ties and sewing. These skills will take time to become proficient at.

The time to start is now. Please comment on your view of prepping, and the mainstream media’s current biased view.

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Avoid the Grocery Stores and chaos

Having a supply of food available when a local emergency happens is important. No having to run out to the store to get food can avoid dealing with panicked shoppers, cash only registers because the power is out, or credit cards can’t be processed. Remember from the earlier post that most people have a few days of food in their home already. Keeping a little extra on hand can extend your not needing to deal with the masses and empty shelves. Most grocery stores only have enough food onhand to keep the shelves stocked for about 4 days. Most stores expect to have a big truck stop by to replenish their storeroom. What if there is a fuel crisis, truckers strike, or some other event the prevents this “Just in Time” shipping to happen?

Keep a list for a couple of weeks, of food your family consumes. Say in the course of 2 weeks your family consumes 2 cans of mandarin oranges (It happen in my house), and you shop once a week. The next shopping trip, rather than buying 1 can, buy 2. You will consume 1 can and have another weeks supply in the pantry. The following week, buy 2 cans again, and after finishing that weeks can, you will have 2 in the pantry. This is called “copy canning” and is relatively inexpensive way to build up a full pantry of food you will eat. You will not have to depend on eating beans, or rice solely during a time when the stores are not easy to shop at. The fact that you have at least one familiar aspect of normal life, will also be a comfort to your family.

My families plan does contain some long term storable food. Some of it is rice and pasta, but there are also some MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), along with some high calorie snack bars. The more food in your pantry allows you to help others in need with some of these long term storables.

Gardening is a great way to get some food into storage as well, and the quality and safety of the vegetables from your garden will surpass the stores offering of non-organic farming that use chemicals, at best, to grow abnormally big production, size, to preserve it and keep it looking edible. Look into dehydrating and canning as a way to store your garden grown, or food purchased by local trusted growers. We have only gone as deep into water bath canning, for acidic fruits and jellies so far, but have one of those evil pressure canners when time allows.

Another source of food can be found in your yard that you may overlook, there are many edible plants with leaves, flowers or roots that would make a nice amendment to a salad. These greens will have beneficial minerals and help stimulate your digestive system (dandelion greens are actually tasty). Stop by the library, and get some edible plant identification book, head to some common ground you won’t get chased away from by Bubba, or go on a trail walk to try your new skill. Something I have been trying to do is toss some lambs quarter, amaranth and chickweed seed in some common areas around my yard to try to get some of these plants established.

Hunting, fishing, raising chickens and/ or rabbits for meat, are other means to secure food for your family. As with most of the methods described in this post, they should be practiced now, so the skill are there when you may need them.

Please leave a comment on other ideas you may have for feeding your family a healthier diet of your grown, or gathered food.

Take care,

Sensible Prepper

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Water, Water everywhere…

Water is third in line as a necessity behind air and environment, in the survival rule of threes. You can live:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours in extreme cold or heat
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

In most areas water may not be too difficult to find, but the main concern will be the cleanliness of the source. Another major problem with water is it takes up a lot of room and is very heavy in order to store a long term supply.

Having multiple methods of gathering water is imperative. The experts consider 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation as a minimum.

Storing water is easy, finding room for it not. Most sealable containers, that are clean, can be used with the exception of milk jugs. The plastic they are made from breaks down, and could possibly fail to do their job. Good containers could be as simple as 2 liter soda bottles, or food grade drums in 15, 30 and 55 gallon sizes. If the water comes from the tap, it may be just fine to store without needing to add a few drops of chlorine bleach. As long as the container remains sealed, and no bacteria is in it, it should store well.

In a survival situation, water can also be collected from your roof. A normal house roof can provide hundreds of gallons of water from just an inch of rain. Care should be taken to avoid the first bit of rain that washes the bird poop, and other junk off the roof. The water collected needs to be filtered and sanitized to be safe for drinking

Making water safe to drink can be achieved from one of, or combined methods of boiling the water for a few minutes, using filtration to get out some of the minerals and bacteria, or using purification solutions to improve the quality. A filter can be made with a bucket of sand and charcoal that drips out much cleaner water than what went in. Clean drinking water is imperative to prevention of cholera and diarrhea, which cause dehydration and are leading causes of death in areas with poor sanitation and unsafe water conditions after natural disasters.

Keeping clean when normal conveniences are not available is also very important. Water that may not be safe to drink can be used or recycled for washing clothes, or flushing a toilet. Do not neglect keeping up with sanitation, as human waste and long durations of uncleanliness can lead to disease.

Please feel free to share your plans for obtaining water when the faucets are dry.

Sensible Prepper

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Where to start prepping?

You can’t start anywhere but at the beginning. You won’t have 3 months of supplies if you don’t have enough for a week. A prepping plan for most mini emergencies should get you through 3 days at least.

You should be able to find your food needs already sitting in your refrigerator and food pantry. Water will be a different story. I would suggest getting some bottled water, or save 2-liter soda bottles that have been rinsed out well and filled with tap water. There should be no need to add any chemicals to these containers as long as the conditions were clean when you filled them from the faucet.

Lighting is another important need if the power goes out. LED lanterns, candles and flashlights should be kept available, with a good supply of batteries. Cooking can be done outside on a grill, keep extra charcoal and lighter fluid on hand, or purchase an extra propane tank and keep it available for power outages. You will also want to have a small battery powered radio (preferably with NOAA Weather bands included) for monitoring the news and weather.

Please think carefully during the hot of summer or cold of winter, about ideas for heating and cooling your home safely during emergencies. The extreme summer and winter seasons could make your 3 day requirements more costly. An inexpensive generator is great to have, but the expected total runtime on them is relatively short. Small generators are best used for running the refrigerator/ freezer a few time a day, or keeping up with the sump pump during a storm. They are not designed for running 8 hours a day. The problem I see with the generators over 4000 watts is people either running a big generator to run small loads, or they are over loading and overusing them to the point of failure. A typical house uses very little energy unless the AC / heat, dryer, water heater and stove are running.  My extreme weather plan would center around running a small air conditioning unit in modest room during the summer. For winter, luckily we have a wood burning stove to knock down the chill. Another option is to heat a smaller area with a kerosene stove (assuming all safety warnings are being followed) in the winter.

Don’t forget you will also need to keep extra pet food available. You are still responsible for taking care of your pets during these mini emergencies.

These basic needs should be the minimal start to a 3 day plan:

  • food
  • water
  • lighting / radio / batteries
  • cooking
  • heating / cooling
  • pet food

I will go into more details on all these basic needs later on, and this 3 day plan should provide a basic starting point into prepping for short term inconveniences you will undoubtedly face.

Take care,

Sensible Prepper

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