8 Tips For Using A Chainsaw

Using a chainsaw to cut wood is an essential part of maintaining a homestead and providing your home with an alternative heating fuel source. Both of the aforementioned are integral parts of the Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine. Whether you are an experienced chainsaw user, or a novice starting out, any time of year is a good time to cut wood.  In my book, now is the best time, though. Late fall is upon us, and we’ve had our first hard freeze. This is for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s not too hot, or too cold; making cutting wood much more comfortable.
  • Most of the things bite, sting and make you itch have been killed off with the first freeze.
  • The small underlying vegetation and leaves have died back, or fallen, making it easier to move around and get to trees that will be cut.

With this in mind, here are Prepography‘s:

8 Tips For Using A Chainsaw

1) Select a model that is dependable , that you can handle, and is the right size for what you are cutting.
Chainsaws come in a variety of sizes, from a number of manufacturers. Like anything else you buy, “you get what you pay for”. There are some inexpensive reliable models, as well as some more expensive unreliable ones. Consumer reviews are great at helping you decide which one is best quality and best suited to your needs. Chainsaws range from small electric models with 12 inch bar blades, suitable only for cutting small limbs, to huge industrial ones with large bow blades used for lumberjacking. A novice would not want to start with one of the latter, as it would be too unwieldy for them. Conversely, they may find the smaller one incapable of doing what they want. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to comfortably lift the chainsaw, and the blade should be about 1/4 to 1/3rd larger than what you want to cut. Engine power and size, known as HP and displacement, are usually dependent on the blade size, and are matched at the factory. The biggest reason all this is important is safety. When using a chainsaw, use the proper tool for the proper job.

2) Get familiar with your chainsaw.
Before you even start your chainsaw, read the operators manual. Book learn the tool and its operation. Know how to maintain it. Learn proper safety precautions for using a chainsaw. Thanks to the internet, there are videos, and online courses you can watch. Your local chainsaw dealer, or big box DYI store might even offer training courses as well. Lacking all this, find someone with experience to teach you. Even if you are an experienced chainsaw user, it is good to periodically review the manual; lest you become complacent or forget something.

3) Do a maintenance and safety check on your chainsaw.
Before using a chainsaw, check to ensure everything is in proper working order. Check all the fluid levels, and ensure that you are using the proper ones. Chainsaws use a special mix of small engine oil and gas. There is also specially weighted oil for use in small engines. Using improper fuel and oil will cause damage to your chainsaw. In addition to the fluids, make sure everything is mechanically good on your chainsaw. Ensure nuts and bolts are tight. Ensure the chain is fitted properly and sharp. Not only is all this important for the long life of the chainsaw, but safety as well. Once you’ve done all the above, fire up your chainsaw and make sure it runs properly. Be sure to always use two hands when operating your chainsaw.

4) Starting your chainsaw.
The proper methods of starting your chainsaw is as follows:

  1. Engage the chain brake before you start your chainsaw.
  2. Hold the front handle with your left hand and lock the body of the saw head between your legs.
  3. Pull the start cord with your right hand using short, fast strokes.

Alternatively

  1. Place the chainsaw on the ground and put your foot through the back handle to hold the chainsaw down.
  2. Hold the front handle with your left hand
  3. Pull the start cord with your right hand using short, fast strokes.

5) Suiting up and safety gear.
When operating your chainsaw, be sure you have the proper safety clothing and gear. At a bare minimum, you should have proper heavy-duty outdoor work attire, safety gloves, safety glasses/goggles, and hearing protection. Additionally, you could wear a leather apron and chaps to protect your torso and legs. A safety helmet and face shield also improves safety. Other gear that improves safety are straps or chains with a come-a-long, for securing things being cut and a maul and wedges in case your blade gets bound in a cut.

6) Know your cuts.

There are four basiccutsthatare made with a chainsaw. The cuts are:

  • Felling: This is the act of cutting down a tree.
  • Limbing: This is removing limbs from the tree before or after it is felled.
  • Trimming: This is cutting limbs back or taking off branches on a limb.
  • Bucking: This is cutting the “log” or trunk of the tree in usable pieces, for instance, fireplace lengths.

Each of these have considerations addressed. Where will the cut piece will fall? Are there any obstruction, like power lines, buildings and vehicles. What is the proper length I need to cut the wood in for transport and usage? These are some of the more prominent questions that need to be asked. You may come up with others, each time you cut wood.

Beware of Kickback When making Your Cuts: This occurs when the blade of the chainsaw catches, comes to a sudden stop and throws back toward the operator. Most of the time this happens when the upper tip of the cutting bar gets in to the cut. So, avoid getting this part of the blade into the cut if possible. Having a firm grip on your chainsaw, a firm stance, and a stable location will help in the event of a kickback.

7) Inspect the area and have a plan.
After you’ve taken your properly working chainsaw in to the field and before you make your first cut, have a plan. Inspect the area you will be working in and what you will be cutting any hazards you should know about. Hidden barbed wire, rocks, or other obstructions could cause you to trip, with a running chainsaw. Or, they can be embedded in the tree you are cutting; hitting which can ruin you chainsaw and/or cause you injury. If felling a tree, look for lean, excess growth, or obstructions. All of these could cause the tree to fall an unexpected direction. If cutting a fallen tree, or limbs, check to see how they are laying. Make sure that when you cut a limb, the whole thing won’t shift, because you’ve just taken a support out from underneath it.

Safety Tips For Using A Chainsaw

Drawing courtesy of Mother Earth News

8) Begin cutting you wood.
Once you’ve done all the above, you are ready to start cutting. Here are some safety tips for chainsaw use from the US Forestry Service:

  • Keep upper tip of bar in solid wood.
  • If cutting a log from below, do it in two stages: first cut from above, then make another cut from below to meet the first.
  • Hold the chainsaw with both hands.
  • Grip the handle by putting your thumb around it.
  • Keep your elbow locked.
  • Never cut above shoulder height.
  • Keep the saw close to your body.
  • Use a saw with chain brake.
  • Start every cut under full throttle.
  • Keep the chain sharp.

Survival Library Review – Pole Shift Survival Information

Pole Shift Survival Information – Survival Library Review

This review is about a very interesting web-site that one internet denizen described as a “survival library on crack”.  We here at Prepography have to agree.

Pole Shift Survival Information bills itself as being for “for those who wish to improve their chances for survival after the coming pending pole shift. ”  Don’t let that description fool you though.  The site is much more than that.  This site presents the online reader with a survival library that is a treasure trove of useful information.  Even if you aren’t worried about the potential for a pole shift the information presented would come in handy for any survival or TEOTWAWKI situation.

Pole Shift Survival Information is a bare bones site with over 4,000 files available.  The content list covers a multitude of subjects from A to Z.  Actually, the last subject currently listed is  “Worms”, so that would be A-W.  Each topic links to a page listing PDFs on that subject.  The PDFs range from practical “How-To’s” to more in-depth articles with subjects including rebuilding infrastructure, family planning and more.  The PDFs are mostly scans from a variety of sources including government and educational handouts as well as trade magazines and self sufficiency/homestead magazines like Back Woods Home and Mother Earth News.  The PDFs are also downloadable, so the reader could transfer them to an off-line source for future reference.  This is a fantastic survival library for the Prepper or self-sufficiency minded to use.

I highly recommends visiting the site, as it  hasn’t been updated since Jul 2013. This site could sit unchanged for years to come, or it could disappear tomorrow.  Use it while you can

DIY Dehydrated Eggs

Why DIY Dehydrated Eggs Is A Good Option

When looking for egg storage solutions, dehydrating eggs at home flies right past many people.  Eggs are one of the most nutritional and versatile foods around. From a remote homestead, to a backyard with a coop, they are easily accessible. Even without refrigeration they can last for weeks and still be edible. By refrigerating eggs that shelf life can be extended by several more weeks, maybe even a couple of months. For longer term storage some people freeze their eggs. By separating the whites and yolks, freezing them separately, eggs can last for up to 6 months. Still, for the long term Prepper that still isn’t an ideal situation. First off, freezing eggs is dependent on the electrical grid. If it goes down you loose refrigeration and the eggs that are dependent upon it. Secondly, 6 months just isn’t long enough. They are looking for solutions that will last for years and should try DIY Dehydrated Eggs.

Dehydrating eggs at home is an easy and viable solution for the Prepper looking for a that length of storage. Most people simply turn to a commercially available product such as those provided by Mountain House and Saratoga Farms. These freeze dried eggs have a shelf life of 30 years. They can be expensive though. For others, this is not an option because they do have their own flock which provide eggs for most of the year. Still, they are looking for a longer term solution as security against the loss of their flock and their egg laying capabilities. For people who can not afford freeze dried eggs or do have their own flocks and are looking to store their extra eggs, dehydrating eggs at home is a good solution.

There are two methods for dehydrating eggs at home.  One method calls for pan scrambling the eggs before dehydrating them.  The other calls for dehydrating beaten uncooked eggs.  After consideration, I rejected the first method.  The reason being that the only thing the first method yields when reconstituted is scrambled eggs.  They can not be used for baking which makes them much less versatile.  Read on to learn how to go about dehydrating eggs at home:

Dehydrating Eggs At Home – Step by Step

Dehydrating Eggs At Home You’ll  need the following:

  • Eggs
  • A Bowl
  • A Whisk
  • A Spatula
  • Dehydrator, with fruit leather trays (not shown)
  • Food Processor, blender or spice grinder (not shown)
  • Storage Container (not shown)
Step 1:  Break the eggs into the bowl.  Use the whisk to thoroughly beat the eggs.  The better you beat the eggs, the better the consistency of the final product.Step 2:  Pour the beaten eggs onto the dehydrator’s fruit leather trays.  In my NESCO Dehydrator, each tray will hold about 4 eggs.  You may have to experiment to see how much yours will hold.  Be sure to place the dehydrator where you are going to use it before filling the tray.  You do not want to move it with full trays or you’ll make a mess.  Additionally, make sure the dehydrator is level to keep your eggs from spilling.  Use the spatula to even out the eggs on the tray. Dehydrating Eggs At Home
 Dehydrating Eggs At Home Step 3:  Set the temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and dehydrate for 16 to 18 hours.  Once they are done they will form a thin crackled film on the trays.  The surface will also look oily but don’t let that alarm you as it is normal.Step 4:  Take the dehydrated eggs and place them in your food processor, blender, or spice grinder.  Use the pulse function to grind the eggs up into a fine power.  I used a food processor (shown left) to process mine and it did a good enough job but it seems like a spice grinder would be the ideal device for this process.  The color of the egg powder will be a deep yellow (seen below).
 Step 5:  Place the egg powder in an airtight container.  If you have any desiccant packages, you can drop them into the container as well to absorb the moisture.  These eggs should last for up to 5 years without refrigeration and even longer when if kept in the fridge or freezer. Dehydrating Eggs At Home
Dehydrating Eggs At Home

Using the dehydrated eggs

1 Tbsp of Dehydrated Eggs = 1 Egg
To reconstitute the eggs take 1 Tbsp of eggs and place it in a bowl.  Add 2 Tbsp of water to the bowl, and mix well.  Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes then whisk the eggs.  If you do not ensure the egg is thoroughly whisked, you will end up with a grainy texture in your cooked egg.  If done properly, there will be no difference in the cooked egg.  Seen left is a comparison of a dehydrated egg (on right) and a regular pan scrambled egg (on left).  Note: the color difference is just because I browned the dehydrated egg more than the regular egg.  On my first trial the DIY dehydrated eggs looked exactly like the regular egg. You can use the reconstituted egg for anything you would use a regularly whisked egg for, even baking.

DIY Dehydrated Eggs – A Word Of Caution

Remember when handling the reconstituted eggs that they are still raw eggs.  Salmonella is a real threat if they are not handled properly and food prep items are not thoroughly cleaned.  All safe food handling precautions should be followed both before and after DIY Dehydrated Eggs are reconstituted.

Home Made Fire Making Kit -By Grumpy G

After I submitted my article “How To Make Water Proof Matches,” Andrew asked me if I’d be willing to post some pics and descriptions of my home made fire making kit.  I said sure.  So, for your viewing pleasure and critique, here is my

Home Made Fire Making Kit – Contents

Home Made Fire Making Kit  Here is the kit itself.  The plastic container was purchased at Hobby Lobby for $1 USD.  It measures 5.5in x 5.5in x 1.5in, and has a hinged lid.  It is not waterproof; more on that later.
 The next photo shows the kit opened up.  There are 5 compartments, 1 larger center compartment and 4 smaller ones.  I’ve numbered them for ease of identification in this article.# 1 A portion of the strike strip from a box of wooden matches.  I used spray on contact glue to affix it to the inside of the lid. Home Made Fire Making Kit
Home Made Fire Making Kit  #2 60 home made water proof matches.  Click here to read the Prepography pictorial article on how to make them yourself.   They are wrapped in a bit of aluminum foil to keep them from rattling around in the compartment,
 #3 2 tea light candles and the instructions for the magnesium fire started that is in the kit.  The candles came from a bag full of misc candles purchased at a local thrift store.  I needed something to keep them from rattling around in their compartment, so I used the fire starter instructions.  These instructions are made from card stock and folded to take up the extra space and keep the candles quiet.  There’s also an added benefit to including them, not only do they provide instructions for the person who does not know how to use the fire starter…but in a pinch the card board can be used as tinder. fk4
Home Made Fire Making Kit #4 Magnesium fire starter and a length of braided hemp rope.  The fire starter came from Harbor Freight Tools and cost around $3 USD.  It’s not the best one on the market, it does the job, though.  The rope can be used as tinder.  I wrap it around the fire starter to keep it from rattling around.

Andrew’s Note:  Make sure to test your fire starter as there have been reports of counterfeit, non-working models being imported in recent years.  Testing it will take several tries as there is usually a coating or varnish you must get through.

 #5 12 Vaseline covered cotton balls in a snack size Zip-lock bag.  These make great accelerators for starting fires in damp conditions.  Folded up, the bag fits perfectly in it’s compartment.  The cost for this item was negligible, as everything came from the cabinet and pantry. Home Made Fire Kit
Home Made Fire Making Kit  #6 2 lighters and 30in x12in piece of aluminum foil.  One lighter is a Bic Mini ($1 USD).  The other is a light anywhere lighter I got from Survival Life ($4 USD)  It has a steel striker with a cotton wick that fits inside the lighter.  The lighter is filled with butane.  The striker is struck on a magnesium rod that is on the side of the lighter.  It works very well.  In my other fire kits, I have 2 bic lighters.  The aluminum foil can be used for many purposes; gathering water, cooking, signaling, etc.  It also keeps the lighters in place when in the kit.

Home Made Fire Making Kit – Future Improvements

The kit has multiple ways to start a fire when needed, and are usable as they are. There are a couple of improvements I am going to make, though. The first is going to be to add some char cloth to the kit. I need to make it, writing a Prepography How-To article in the process. The second improvement will be to water proof the kit. I am going to do this by taking electrician’s tape and wrapping it around the case, along the seam where the lid and body meet. Not only will this help water proof the kit, but the tape could come in handy in a survival situation.

If you’ve made it this far, let me know what you think. Is there something I missed, or that you would change? Feel free to comment below.

7 Spices For Preppers

Spices are an integral part of cooking. Any one who cooks or eats knows how much better food is if it’s properly spiced.  Spices add more than flavor and complexity to foods they can also make a meal healthier or impart medicinal characteristics.  In a survival situation the food you are able to procure may be of lower quality, questionable freshness or maybe just monotonous. Spices can make these borderline foods more palatable and enjoyable.  Many Preppers lay in a good supply of spices in to their food preps but often overlook the health aspect of spices. Beyond sprucing up an other wise bland meal these spices provide additional health benefits. The multiple uses of these spices fit in to the core philosophy of Full Spectrum Preparedness.

The listing below of the purported health benefits of spices is not to be considered medical advice and home remedies should not take the place of regular medical care when such care is available.

7 Spices For PreppersI have scoured the web and compiled a list of 7 spices for preppers to stock up on for their health benefits.  Some of these spices have 10 to 20 known health benefits listed. In the interest of brevity, and sticking to the idea of this being a survival/prepper themed site, I have narrowed the benefits down. I have only listed the top 5 or 6 benefits per spice.  In most cases, these benefits relate directly to a survival situation. For example, many of the spices listed have shown to help prevent cancer. That will still be a concern in a SHTF scenario but it is not one that will be of immediate concern for most.  On the other hand, many of these spices are also reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Popping in to the corner drug emporium may not be an option in a crisis situation so let’s learn more about spices as they might come in extremely handy. Without further adieu, here is Prepography‘s list of:

7 Spices For Preppers

1. Cinnamon

1) High in Nutrients – It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.
2) Yeast Infection Help – In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
3) Anti-Clotting – It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
4) Arthritis Relief – In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
5) Anti-Bacterial – When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
6) E. Coli Fighter – Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in your coffee grounds before brewing
  • Stir into your honey to sweeten your tea
  • Mix cinnamon into yogurt or sprinkling it on oatmeal
  • Sprinkle into a traditional PB&J

2. Oregano

1) Immune System Support – It has one of the highest antioxidant activity ratings, with 42 times the antioxidant punch of apples.
2) Antifungal/Antibacteriall – Its essential oils may kill the food borne pathogen Listeria and the superbug MRSA; making it a useful addition to hand soaps and disinfectants.
3) Anti-inflammatory – It contains beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP), a substance that inhibits inflammation and may also be beneficial for conditions including osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.
4) Treatment Of Respiratory Infections – It encourages sweat production as a mode of detox, and ingesting it may help your body to get rid of unwanted phlegm in your lungs.
5) Cancer-Fighting Effects – It has also been “evaluated for anti-cancer properties in prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer with promising results (Source).”

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Add oregano to commercial or homemade pasta or pizza sauce
  • Sprinkle oregano onto a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Sprinkle a sliced tomato with oregano, a grind of pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

3. Rosemary

1) Immune Booster – It boosts the immune system thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Because it is healing in so many ways, it boosts the overall health of the body.
2) Pain Relief/Anti-Inflamatory – Its essential oil can be applied topically as a natural treatment for arthritis, sore muscles, and other joint and muscle pains. It also contains two potent anti-inflammatories, which inhibited COX-2, an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation in the body.
3) Digestive Health – It is often used to help treat digestive problems such as upset stomach, constipation, indigestion, and almost any other digestive related problem. It also helps to prevent food borne illnesses when ingested with foods such as meat or eggs.
4) Fresh Breath – It can be used as a natural mouthwash and is said to work very well.
5)Diuretic and Detoxification Properties – It is a mild diuretic, and can help the kidneys function at optimal levels to help get rid of excess water in the body. It has also been used to treat liver problems for thousands of years; the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates even prescribed it for this purpose.
6)Respiratory Health – It is a great natural remedy for respiratory problems. Breathing in the scent of the essential oil can help with congestion due to colds, allergies, respiratory infections, and the flu. Doing this has also been shown to help alleviate migraine, as well.

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Include rosemary in marinades for meats and tomato sauces
  • Add it to whole grain breads and rolls
  • Steep in a pint of heated water, strain, and use as a mouth rinse
  • Boil fresh rosemary in a pot of water, and breathe in the steam

4. Turmeric

1) Natural Antiseptic – It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns. As a result, it speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
2) Detoxification Properties – Is a natural liver detoxifier.
3) Alzheimer’s Prevention – It may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.
4) Natural Painkiller – It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
5) Depression – It has been used as a treatment for depression.
6) Skin Condition Treatment – It may help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Stir into egg salad, chicken salad and tuna salad mixes for lunch
  • Add to simmer sauces for poultry
  • Whisk into dips and vinaigrettes for cooked vegetables

5. Thyme

1) Anti-Inflammatory – It contains anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent chronic inflammation of the body systems.
2) Antibacterial – Its antimicrobial properties have proven to help fight a variety of bacterial and fungi, including e. coli, staphalococcus aureus, and shigella. Thyme oil extract shows good efficacy against antibiotic resistant strains of several different types of bacteria.
3) Respiratory Health – It has been used for centuries to treat chest and respiratory conditions like coughs and bronchitis.
4) High In Iron – It can provide nearly 20% of the DV per 2.8 grams. Iron is essential for energy production and iron deficiency may cause anemia, fatigue and make the body more susceptible to infection.
5) Bone Health – It is a good source of iron, calcium and manganese which are all essential to promoting proper bone growth, maintaining strong, healthy bones and preventing bone disease.

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Mix with honey and tea for a good cold/flu remedy
  • Whisk it in salad dressings and creamy dips
  • Sprinkle it on cooked vegetables and fish
  • Include it in stir-fries or sautes

6. Ginger

1) Morning Sickness Relief – It is just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness.
2) Motion Sickness Remedy – It has been shown to be an effective remedy for the nausea associated with motion sickness.
3) Reduces Pain and Inflammation – It has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller.
4) Heartburn Relief – It has long been used as a natural heartburn remedy. It is most often taken in the form of tea for this purpose.
5) Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment – Long used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu. Many people also find ginger to be helpful in the case of stomach flu or food poisoning, which is not surprising given the positive effects ginger has upon the digestive tract.
6) Menstrual Cramp Relief – In Chinese medicine, ginger tea with brown sugar is used in the treatment of menstrual cramps.

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Sprinkle onto fresh fruit slices
  • Stirred into yogurt or ice cream
  • Mixed with honey and use as a glaze, marinade, or sauce
  • Steep in a tea

7. Dried Red Peppers

1) High In Vitamin C – Besides being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is also needed for the proper absorption of iron. If you are iron deficient, try combining red peppers with your iron source for maximum absorption.
2) Decrease Anxiety – They are high In vitamin B6 and magnesium, which used on combination helps decrease anxiety, especially related to pre-menstrual symptoms.
3) Natural Diuretic – The vitamin B6 in red peppers can decrease bloating and prevent against hypertension.
4) Promote Healthy Night Vision – They are high in vitamin A, which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision.
5) Increased Metabolism – Sweet red peppers have a mild thermogenic action that increases metabolism without increasing heart rate and blood pressure like the hot peppers do.

Suggested ways to add its health benefits to your diet daily:

  • Add to humus, guacamole, cottage cheese and even mashed potatoes
  • Use in marinades or dressings
  • Sprinkle directly on to foods

Long Term Storage of Spices And Herbs

As a rule of thumb, properly prepared and stored spices and herbs will have a shelf life of:

  • Dried, whole spices and herbs: up to 3 years
  • Seeds and barks: over 2 years
  • Roots: over 2 years

Helpful things to remember when storing spices and herbs long-term:

  • Seal them in airtight containers such as food saver and mylar bags, or vacuum sealed half pint mason jars with oxygen absorbers.
  • The best storage temperature for herbs and spices is one that is fairly constant and below 70º F.
  • Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation, ruining your stores.
  • Store them out of direct sunlight, such as a pantry of root cellar.
  • It’s OK to store large quantities in an airtight containers in a freezer
  • Don’t mix spices and herbs in the same container, the flavors and aromas will taint each other.

7 Spices For Preppers – Conclusion

The 7 spices and herbs listed here are by no means the only ones that provide additional health benefits. They just happen to be the ones that popped up most commonly during my search. To find more health benefits from other spices and herbs, check out this page EveryNutrient – Herbs and Spices. It gives a brief summary of the health benefits of a multitude of spices.

Andrew’s Note:  Even if you aren’t stocking up, buying spices at the grocery store is for suckers who want to pay too much…buy spices in bulk online or from a local Amish store and keep in the freezer until needed or the freezer doesn’t work anymore…then transfer to a cool, dark area as described above.

How To Make Water Proof Matches

How To Make Water Proof Matches – Materials Needed

“How To Make Water Proof Matches” Materials:How To Make Water Proof Matches - Materials
  1. Wooden Matches ($1 for three 300 count box-strike matches from Dollar General)
  2. Candles ($1 bag of cast offs from the thrift store)
  3. Small Pot (preferably not one used for cooking)
  4. Tin Can (large tuna/chicken can, free)
  5. Stove, or some other cooking heat source (free)

How To Make Water Proof Matches – Instructions

1) Fill the pot with about 3/4 inches of water. Take the candle and put them in the tin can, and place it in the pot. Put the put on the stove and turn on to medium heat. Allow the water to heat up to a point right before it starts boiling, in order to melt the candles. How To Make Water Proof Matches - Step 1
2) Once the candles have melted, take the matches and dip them head down in to the wax. The wax should cover about 1/2 the match. How To Make Water Proof Matches - Step 2
3) Stick the dipped match in to the Styrofoam, and allow the wax to cool down.4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 several times, until each match has a good coating. How To Make Water Proof Matches - Step 3

How To Make Water Proof Matches- Use and Storage

How To Make Water Proof Matches - Storage Use – Now that you have learned how  to make water proof matches, to use them, simply take your finger nail and scrape the wax from the tip of the match head. Strike the match on an appropriate surface to light.Storage: Store your with your fire making kit, or some other easily accessible place. Mine (seen at the left) are wrapped in tin foil and are part of my fire making kit.

Andrew’s Note:  The same process works with Strike Anywhere Matches or turn your strike on the box matches into Strike Anywhere Matches using this technique.  As one who’s been out in the wild with strike on box matches and a disintigrating box consider the more versatile but much harder to find and slightly more expensive Strike Anywhere Matches if possible.

10 Tips To Winterize Your Garden

Winterizing your garden for winter is a hot topic these days.  In fact there are a slew of on-line articles coming out right on the subject and it is an important step in making sure you have a healthy, vibrant garden come spring time.  The time and effort spent in the late fall/early winter in preparing your garden for winter will pay huge dividends come spring planting and harvest time.  We’ve already had our first hard frost here at Grumpy Acres, so we may be a little late to the party but like the old adage says, though, “better late than never” and we have a unique take that we call the 10 Tips To Winterize Your Garden:

10 Tips To Winterize Your Garden

1) Prune:  Trim back perennial plants, that’s a plant that lives for 2 or more years, to just above the soil with the pruning shears. Pruning back like this promotes a healthier plant come spring time, and improves the appearance of winter beds. Discard or compost the plant refuse.

2) Harvest:  Harvest remaining frost-sensitive vegetables, before the first frost. Eat and store the edible food, and compost or discard the rest.  Unripe tomatoes can be picked ahead of the frost and put in brown paper bags to ripen.

3 ) Pull Up:  Pull up annual vegetable plants from the soil. Remove the entire plant, including the root system. Put healthy plants, which are free of insect infestation in your compost bin. Throw away any plants that have insects or are diseased.

4) Clean Up:  Rake up leaves as part of general yard clean up. Dead and decaying leaves will smother your grass over the winter. By removing them you’ll end up with a healthier, greener lawn come spring time. Add them to your compost pile for use in the spring by your garden or shred them and use as mulch on your garden beds.

5 ) Mulch:  Mulch any vegetables that are hardy enough to produce during colder temps; such as carrots, beets, parsnips and onions. Cover them with about 8 inches of mulch. These types of vegetables will keep producing well in to the winter if you keep them insulated.

6) Put Perennials To Sleep:  Put perennials to sleep by mulching any perennial vegetables that will go dormant over the winter such as asparagus. Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch to cover the plant crowns and the surrounding soil.

7) Cultivate:  Cultivate the soil to a depth of about 6 inches. A spade, or rototiller will do the job. Cultivating before winter sets in will help aerate the soil and keep it from becoming too compacted.

8) Fertilize:  Add fertilizer, if you use it to augment your compost. Putting it down in the winter will allow it to soak deep in to the soil, which will allow for better usage by your spring plants.

9) Compost:  Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the garden by raking it evenly into the soil. This will not only help protect the soil it will also add valuable nutrients to the soil which will feed you plants next spring.

10) Protect:  Put barriers up to protect shrubs or young trees. Heavy snow can damage young trees and shrubs. Barriers that will keep snow from building up on them will help them survive the winter. Barriers and such will also help keep deer and other animals from eating them as they search for food in the winter.

Bonus Tip #11

11) Put Away:  Do a general clean up of your garden, yard or homestead. Tools and equipment that won’t be used over the winter should be put away and moved to a shed or protected area. Finding something when the snow falls and everything is covered can be hard; even dangerous. If you need to find something in winter, move it now.

Top 10 Steps To Food Security On A Suburban Lot

Food security, assuring continuous access to quality food,  is an ongoing or rising concern for many people.  Rising food prices, political instability, and the possibility of widespread disruptions to a fragile supply chain are justifiable causes for this concern.  Since a majority of the people on the planet live in or near large metropolitan areas and the suburbs that surround them how does one approach the problem of assuring their family’s food security on a suburban lot?

Top 10 Steps To Food Security On A Suburban Lot

1: Plant a Garden

One of the easiest and most common way to get started taking control of your family’s food security on your suburban lot is to raise a garden. Gardening is scalable to the size of your lot as well as your abilities. On the small side you can raise edible plants in containers to reduce your food bill. On the larger and more aggressive scale, you can use perma-culture techniques to raise 1,000’s of pounds of food every year in just a quarter acre. Some preppers, gardeners and permaculture enthusiasts have even been able to completely do away with trips to the grocery store for fruits and veggies all together…preparedness is a renewable food supply!

Unfortunately many municipalities have regulations limiting the size of gardens or where a garden can be located on your lot.  if that’s the case or you’re just interested in something more aesthetically pleasing check out our second tip…Edible Landscaping.

2: Edible Landscaping

Edible landscaping is a permaculture idea that is really taking off. Instead of planting purely decorative plant in flower beds around your home, you can plant edibles. The flowers on many edible plants are just as varied and beautiful as decorative perennials and annuals. The kicker is they produce healthy and nutritious items that go a long way in providing food security on your suburban lot.  Another benefit of edible landscaping is that it’s less noticeable than a traditional garden giving you your own stealth food source.

3: Water Catchment

Food security on your suburban lot does not just entail food. It also includes the water necessary to grow and raise that food. Even in arid climates a moderate rainfall can produce thousands of gallons of water pouring off the typical suburban rooftop. Most homeowners lose this water to the lawn or down the storm sewer. Building a water catchment system will capture that water for your use. Most of it will go on to your garden but in an emergency it can be purified for drinking and hygiene. For around $125 USD, you can build a rain catchment system that will hold well over 200 gallons a precious water.

4: Raise Small Livestock

Many suburban localities are beginning to amend local ordinances to allow people to keep small livestock on their property. Chickens and rabbits are the most common small breeds which are helping more and more people towards food security on a suburban lot but some cultures consider other animals like guinea pigs to be suitable for livestock. They can provide your family with much-needed protein and are a healthier and less expensive alternative to store-bought meat. As an example, a single rabbit buck, and three  doe’s can produce over 190 pounds of meat every year, for just pennies on the pound.

5: Fish Farming

Food security on your suburban lot can also be pursued by rasing fish, also known as aquaculture. Many people stock their fish ponds with edible species, instead of decorative ones but virtually all freshwater fish are edible. Perch, carp and catfish are popular in the more temperate climates. Tilapia is a favorite in more tropical climes but is likely regulated as an ‘invasive species’ so make sure you know the requirements. Think you can’t raise fish because you don’t have a pond…think again, fish can be raised in disused swimming pools, or even drums and tanks.

6: Aquaponics

Aquaponics is the fusion of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (raising plants in a liquid medium). It is a system where the fish waste provides nutrients to the plants. The plants in turn clean waste harmful to the fish out of the water. It is a very symbiotic system. Done properly plants raised this way grow faster and produce more fruit than plants grown traditionally. Start up costs can be expensive but the pay off is well worth it. Aquaponics is another great way to build food security on your suburban lot.  When building your system make sure to build one that isn’t reliant on electric power or develop a backup power source.

Andrew’s Note:  In my own aquaponics experiments I found plant growth within the system to be three times the growth and vegetable output in my control group. 

7: Composting

Even the traditional lawn which most homes still have produces a lot of waste in the form of grass clippings, leaves and branches. Suburbanites generally take this waste, stuff it in bags and set it by the curb for the garbage man. The suburban kitchen, gardening and raising small livestock also produce a great deal of waste. Instead of sending all this waste to the landfill you can compost it. Composting is the process of managed decomposition of organic matter. Compost provides fantastic organic fertilizer for your garden. Additionally, if you have chickens they can pick over the pile for bugs and food scraps, and rabbits love grass clippings and leaves. If you want food security on a suburban lot, composting is one thing you must do.

8: Beekeeping

Beekeeping, also known as apiculture is a very specialized way to move towards food security on your suburban lot. The benefits of apiculture are two-fold. First it will provide your family honey that is not only delicious, but healthy as well. It is a product that will literally last for 1,000s of years. Locally raised honey has also been shown to help people suppress allergies. The other benefit is that as the bees search for food, they will pollinate your garden, making it much more healthy and productive.

9: Food Storage & Preservation

The average American household throws away about 25% of its food. That is prepackaged, processed and store-bought staples, produce and meats. Home grown and home raised foods will spoil quicker because they do not contain all the added preservatives. That is a lot of healthy food going to waste. After you’ve reached a higher level of food security on your suburban lot you must now preserve it for storage. Learn how to can foods, study root cellaring, buy a dehydrator and a vacuum seal system for even longer term storage options. Organize your pantry with a can rotator. You can also learn how to smoke and preserve your own meats. There are so many food preservation and storage options available to help you keep the fruits of your labor edible longer. Try to learn, and practice them all.

10: Sell, Barter, or Give Away Your Excess

If you have done any, or all of the first 9 suggestions for food security on your suburban lot and you have been diligent, chances are you’ll have more than you can eat. Use that excess to your advantage. You can sell it at a farmers market, making a bit of cash to offset your expenses. You can barter with others to get food items you can’t raise or items you may need or you can give it away. You may gain absolute nothing materially from this last act but in the long run you’ll be building family and community ties that may come in handy in the future.

Integral Passive Solar Water Heaters – A Primer

Integral Passive Solar Water Heaters – Intro

Before we discuss integral passive solar water heaters (IPSWH), let us talk a bit about solar systems. Increasing energy costs have focused attention on energy efficiency and alternative sources. Renewable sources of energy appeal to the preparedness minded. It helps Preppers disconnect from an energy delivery system that is vulnerable to failure when necessary. It also allows Preppers to be in control of their own energy instead of relying on some distant corporation or government bureaucracy. Solar energy plays an important role on many homesteads, bug out locations and is especially important with many cultures overseas because it is readily available and free. It can also be used for cooling as well as heating. As long as the sun is shining the Prepper can collect, store and use its energy.

Solar water heating systems fall in to two categories; active and passive. Active systems are more expensive and technical. Simply explained, they rely on auxiliary power to run fans and pumps. Passive solar systems are typically more simple and cost less. The only moving part in the most simple systems is the sun. Talk about reliability. There are two class of passive solar water heaters. In one systems heat is collected and stored are separate. These are called thermosiphon flat-plate systems. The the other class collection and storage are combined. IPSWH fall in to this latter class, and hold some advantages over the former. They tend to be more simple, more economical to build and maintain, and more resistant to freezing.

Integral Passive Solar Water Heaters – Principles of Operations

Integral passive solar water heaters (IPSWH) centered around some sort of tank, or series of tanks. A common, and inexpensive source for these tanks are discarded water heaters. The tank is painted black, in order to maximize the amount of heat from the sun that is collected, which then heats up water stored within. In order to increase efficiency, a collection/storage tank is placed on a south-facing wall, or roof top, and is insulated to reduce heat loss. Cold water is brought in via an inlet on one end of the tank , it is heated up, and then moved to a back to a back heater. This is usually a gas, or electric-powered conventional water heater. Waterline pressure is used to move the water, so no external pumps are needed for the system.

In sunny locales, or during summer months, the conventional water heater can be turned off or bypassed entirely. The IPSWH can provide all your hot water needs. In colder climates, and during winter the auxiliary heater is used to augment the IPSWH. To protect against freezing, should the need arise, the system can be drained, and the conventional heater can provide household hot water.

Integral Passive Solar Water Heaters – The 6 Commandments

The design, installation, use and maintenance of integral passive solar water heaters are governed by certain principles. If you follow the 6 commandments when you design and install your IPSWH it will work efficiently and provide your household with inexpensive hot water.

1. Locate your heater for maximum sunlight.
Place your IPSWH on a sunny southern exposure. It is preferable that be close to your back-up heater, to reduce heat loss during water transfer.
2. Make the collector as efficient as possible.
Tanks come in a variety of sizes. Most of them are usable. Long thin tanks have the highest surface area to water ratios. Used water heater tanks tend to be the cheapest. Make sure your tank is in good condition, so it will last longer. Next, make sure your tank is in a good location for exposure, as well as maintenance. Finally, use reflectors to concentrate sunlight on your collector tank.
3. Make sure your tank(s) will retain heat.
Use a good quality glazing to enclose your tanks in the their frame. Caulk and seal your panes tightly. Inlet and outlet pipes should be insulated, as well as your back up heater, to reduce heat loss.
4. Make sure your heater is properly sized.
You should allow about 30 gallons of water person in the household.
Proper water per square foot of glazing ratios will maximize heating, with 2.5 gallons per foot being recommended as optimal. that works out to 12 foot of glazing per person. Smaller ratios will speed up heating. Even an undersized system will provide preheated water, reducing water heating costs.
5. Make an efficient connection to the back-up heater.
Minimize the amount of piping needed to connect to your back-up heater. Insulate all piping. Heat taping exposed pipes in cold climates is a must.
6. Build your system to last.
Even if you are budget, use the best materials you can afford, or scrounge. Good materials and construction will ensure your system will last a long time, and be safer in the process.

Integral Passive Solar Water Heaters – 5 Basic Types

  • Single Tank IPSWH – This type uses a single tank to provide solar heated water. Household units run from a simple setup of a used water heater tank enclosed in an insulated plywood box to more elaborate setups placed on roofs with internal shutters and tilted frames.
  • Photo Courtesy Integral Passive Solar Water Heater Book by David A. Bainbrid

    Photo Courtesy Integral Passive Solar Water Heater Book by David A. Bainbrid

    A Greenhouse IPSWH – best used in cold climates, this model provides protection against freezing. The IPSWH is enclosed in a protected sunlit space. Ideally, an attached heated green house is the best choice, hence the name.

  • An Inverted IPSWH – Another cold weather setup, an inverted IPSWH protects against cold weather and night-time heat loss by turning the IPSWH system upside down. The insulated part of the housing is facing the sky, and sunlight is sent to the collector via a series of reflectors.
  • A Low-cost IPSWH – This simple system is nothing more than a cheap solar collector hung in the sun to heat the water inside which is gravity fed through the shower head. This type of unit provides the best BTU/ dollar heating but is best used at campsites, RVs, and summer homes that are not used full-time.  One example of this type of system is the Solar Camp Shower.

Integral Passive Solar Water Heaters – Building Your Own, A Simple Rundown

Glazing & Tank relationship.  Photo Courtesy Integral Passive Solar Water Heater Book by David A. Bainbrid

Glazing & Tank relationship. Photo Courtesy Integral Passive Solar Water Heater Book by David A. Bainbrid

Here is a simple run-down of the steps used to build your own itegral passive solar water heater:

1. Select your location – Remember Commandment 1
2.Design – Design your own, find plans in books, on the internet or buy commercially avaiable plans.
3. Construction – Build the frame, Fit the tank(s), cover the outside, insulate, cover the inside, plumb, test and glaze.
4. Maintain – Proper maintenance of the tank(s) and plumbing will ensure efficiency, safety, durability and longevity.

Intergral Passive Solar Water Heaters – Conclusion

Using an itegral passive solar water heater is the most efficient and economical method for providing hot water for a homesteader or those on a budget. Economy and efficiency while preparing and living a more self sufficient life-style are corner-stones in the FSP philosophy. IPSWH’s touch on several areas of the FSP doctrine. If you are interested in learning more about integral passive solar water heaters, you can read “Integral Passive Solar Water Heater Book” by David A. Bainbrid for a more comprehensive and in depth look at the subject.

Prepping on $30 A Paycheck – Intro

How “Prepping on $30 A Paycheck” Came About

Prepper Axiom # 1 – Change your mind and your tail will follow. (Cognitive)

The kernel of the idea that led to “Prepping on $30 A Paycheck” came from a conversation I was having with a co-worker one day.  He was not in to prepping  or self-sufficiency at the time.  He was interested in the topics of what I did on the weekend and after work. I could tell he had the makings of a convert. He just needed a little nudge, and some guidance. I finally asked him outright, “You are interested in prepping, why don’t you just do it.” His response was, “I don’t have a lot of disposable income; I can’t afford it”.

Oh man, my head hurts. Trying to wrap my mind around a statement like that, coming from someone who lives a comfortable middle-class lifestyle really pains me. OK, this is where I don’t want to be “that prepper guy”. I told him that it really does not take a lot of cash to start out. I laid down the number of $30 a pay-day (bi-weekly pay schedule), as a very realistic, and achievable goal to set aside for prepping. He was a little dubious on two accounts. First, he didn’t believe that anything substantial could be done for that amount. Secondly, he said that he would have a hard time coming up with $30 out of his paycheck. I gently pointed out that he spent way more than that over a two-week period eating out, going to the movies, and in wasted groceries. He begrudgingly conceded that point. I then pointed out that even though I spent more than $30 a paycheck now, when I started that number was it. If it didn’t fall within my budget, it didn’t happen. I put forth the proposition that if he would set aside $30 every payday, I would help him navigate the waters of becoming “prepared”. He mulled over what I had said, shook his head and said he would give it a try.

Prepper Axiom #2 – The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. (Cognitive)

Almost as soon as my co-worker said “OK”, “Prepping on $30 A Paycheck” got sidetracked. He started having marital problems, and was extremely distracted. It was obvious his heart wasn’t in to much except his problems.  Our little experiment wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. I gave him support and kept working on him  I tried to get him in the right mindset. Things started to get back on track in his life, and he slowly came around.  He perked up and began getting in to the mindset of doing little things to be more prepared.  We discussed prepping on $30 a paycheck, again.  It seemed that it was back on. Then, he got another job and abruptly left. I haven’t heard from him since his departure. Still, before he left, I made him promise that he would continue trying to put himself in the right mind-set. He said he would, and added that he would continue adding items to his prep list as he went. I believe he would, as his outlook on his prep status was not as fatalistic as it was in the beginning.

So where does that leave us with prepping on $30 a paycheck? Well, basically, I don’t have a guinea pig. Honestly, there is no one in my life at this point in time that is at the place that they would be willing to take the steps towards preparedness and self-sufficiency it would entail. There are a couple of people who are almost ready; none that are ready, though. Being an “evangelical prepper”; that is some one who enthusiastically extolls the virtues of preparedness and self-sufficiency, I think it is necessary to move forward with the idea.  I hope that someone reading this would take it to heart. Take it to heart and take the first mental steps down a path that will lead them to a higher state of security from being prepared, and peace of mind from leading a more self-sufficient life-style.

So, in the interests of the community; that’s another FSP doctrine, I have decided to be my own guinea pig. I mean, why not? Why should I ask someone else to take my advice, if I am not willing to do it my self. Yes, I know I said I started out this way, but my methodology was scatter-shot at best. I honestly did not have a solid plan, even though I did a lot of reading in books, and on the web. I didn’t know any other people who felt like I did, outside of the internet. I also hadn’t met Andrew J. and didn’t know what FSP was. A good dose of hind-sight will allow me to put together a more comprehensive and detailed plan on how to go about prepping on $30 a paycheck.

I am going to start from square one, with the idea that I have nothing set aside. I will take my $30 and apply it as I would under those circumstances. I will detail my second journey as best I can. This is a serialized Prepography feature, so you would expect that I will be posting an article every two weeks; on my pay schedule. That may not happen, in fact I guarantee that it won’t, because I have some real life concerns. As I write this, deer season and the holidays will be coming up.  My time will be limited, somewhat. I will endeavour to stay on track best I cane with my purchases and postings.

Andrew’s Note:  We’ll set up an index page for this series in the near future so that it’s easy to keep up with Grumpy G’s preparedness odyssey.

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