Top 10 Benefits To Raising Meat Rabbits

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Raising Meat Rabbits

When many people think of raising rabbits, the image of a cute and cuddly pet comes to mind.  If that’s your only frame of reference for raising rabbits than beware as this article discusses a far more important reason for raising rabbits…raising rabbits for meat production.  Raising rabbits is an inexpensive and potentially stealthy way to help your family become more food secure and self sufficient. Throughout mankind’s history, and in many cultures, domesticated rabbits have been valuable source of food.  The following is a list of the Top 10 Benefits To Raising Meat Rabbits:

Production Benefits of Raising Meat Rabbits:

1.  Rabbits are one of the most productive and economical livestock available.  One rabbit can produce 6 lbs of meat on the same amount of feed and water that a cow produces only 1 lbs of meat.  Think about that for a minute…600% more efficient than beef!  The only livestock animal that can out produce the rabbit in terms of turning feed into meat is the chicken due to egg production.

2.  Rabbit are prolific breeders.  Because rabbits are prey animals; an animal that provides food for the higher level predators, they are biologically hard wired to be prolific breeders.  Let’s face it, a rabbit’s primary functions in nature are to make babies and get eaten.  Female rabbits are fertile 365 days a year unless environmental stress causes them to temporarily become infertile.  Their gestation period is about 28 days, and a female rabbit can become impregnated again within 24 hours of giving birth.

3.  Rabbits mature quickly.  Again, genetically rabbits are hard wired to grow quickly.  Baby rabbits, known as kits, wean at about 4 weeks. It only takes about 8 weeks for a rabbit to reach butchering weight.  All this means that under an intensive and highly managed breeding program, a buck (the male rabbit) and 2 does (the female rabbit) can produce enough kits to give you almost 300lbs of meat a year.

4.  Rabbits take up a relatively small footprint.  Depending on the size of the breed, adult rabbits only need from 1.5 to 5 sq ft of space, each. Typical meat breeds need from 3-4 sq ft to be productive.  Because of this small foot print, many rabbits can be raised in a given space that larger livestock, like say cows, pigs, or goats.

5.  Rabbits can be raised where other livestock can’t.  Even though there is a nationwide movement in the US, there are many places where raising livestock is prohibited, or highly regulated.  Because of the small foot print and zoning laws in many municipalities, rabbits can be raised where other livestock can’t.  Often rabbits are allowed even in places that ban chickens.  Except if caught by a predator a rabbit is nearly silent…no noises to bother the neighbors into calling the authorities.  If I was unlucky enough to live in a town that didn’t allow me to raise meat rabbits, I might just have to have a few rabbits as ‘pets’ and because they are also relatively clean, so they don’t generally raise any red flags with neighbors or city officials.

6.  Compost.  Rabbit create a prolific amount of poop.  This by product is excellent for composting as it is high in nitrates.  Composted properly you are left with high quality amendment that can be used in your garden, or sold to others.

Production Bonus Benefit:  Raising Rabbits With Children.  Home rabbit production provides an additional benefit to those with young children.  By including your children in the rabbit production process your kids should come away with a greater appreciation of what it takes to put meat on the table and the fact that meat doesn’t really come from a Styrofoam package. 

Heath Benefits of Raising Meat Rabbits:

7.  Rabbit meat is high in protein.  In fact, out of all the readily available protein sources (store bought and farm raised), rabbit meat has the highest percentage of protein.  A 3oz serving of rabbit contains about 24.7 grams of protein.  The proteins in rabbit meat are also easily digestible.

8.  Rabbit Meat is very lean. Rabbits do have fat, but unlike beef and other livestock, the fat is not distributed throughout the muscle but is primarily deposited around it’s internal organs.  In fact, a 3oz serving of rabbit meat contains about 6.8 grams of fat which is about 1/3 of the fat that you’d find in a comparable serving of beef.  Because of this, there is actually a risk of starvation if you eat nothing but rabbit meat but as part of a well rounded diet it’s a very lean, healthy protein.

Rabbit meat is low in calories: Because it is so low in fat, rabbit meat is an excellent meat to eat in order to maintain proper weight. At 167 calories per 3oz serving, it comes in below both beef and pork as a healthy food. During normal times eating rabbit meat, along with vegetables and fruit, you can maintain a proper diet. In a survival situation, though, you will want to have other high calorie foods available to supplement the rabbit meat.

9.  Rabbit meat is low in cholesterol. If you suffer from elevated cholesterol, rabbit meat is a good alternative to other protein sources.  3oz of rabbit meat contains about 70mg of cholesterol.  The American Heart Association recommend no more than 300mg a day, and no more that 200 if you already suffer from heart disease.

Culinary Benefits of Raising Meat Rabbits:

10.  Rabbit meat has a very mild flavor.  Unlike beef, rabbit meat does not have a strong flavor.  This means that it makes a very good canvas for other flavors in the dish, much the same way chicken does. This makes rabbit meat a very versatile food to cook with.

Culinary Bonus Benefit:  Rabbits have a high meat to bone ratio.  Meat rabbit breeds have been developed to yield a high meat to bone ratio.  This means that there is more edible meat on the carcass of a butchered meat than can even be achieved with chickens.  A live 5lbs rabbit will dress out at about 3lbs.

Raising Meat Rabbits: Conclusion

Rabbit Cacciatore

Rabbit Cacciatore

I have been raising rabbits for meat production for about 5 years.  I have learned a lot along the way.  There is something fulfilling about knowing exactly where my food has come from and what is in it.  I’ve also gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the process.  I enjoy going out and spending time with my rabbits.  My family makes fun on me, because I talk to them and interact with them but just because a creature is livestock doesn’t mean that it should be treated as, well…livestock.

While rabbit isn’t on the daily menu for most of us here in the U.S., rabbit recipes abound especially in the culinary traditions of Northern Italy and France.  If you can’t find a rabbit specific recipe that sounds good to you, do not fret.  Because of it’s versatility, you can substitute rabbit in many recipes that call for chicken.  Low (temp) and slow (time) are the watch words when cooking rabbit.

I’ve gained a lot of perspective while raising rabbits both on my family’s nutritional needs and the mechanisms we use to fulfill those needs.  When raising my rabbits, I endevour to provide them with a healthy and happy existence before they are butchered, dispatch the animal humanely and utilize as much of the rabbit as possible.  The rabbits we consume are making the ultimate sacrifice for me and my family, and it is the least I can do for them.  If you are looking for an alternative source of meat, during the good times, as well as the bad, raising rabbits is something you should seriously consider.

Econo Prepping: Make A Simple Dehydrator

In the Prepography post entitled “Top 10 Food Dehydrating Tips“, I detailed the benefits of dehydrating your own food. One of the most important pieces of equipment for dehydrating in the modern era is the store-bought dehydrator. Shocking, I know! There could be several reasons why you haven’t already run out and purchased a new dehydrator based on my sage advice. The price of a new one could be outside your budget. You could be a cheapskate and don’t want to spend the money. or, you could be one of those industrious types that thinks you could build one cheaper, and better than one bought from a store. Well, this post is for you and will help you make a simple dehydrator.

In fact, you can make a simple dehydrator using nothing but household items.  It will by no means be as good as a Nesco or Excalibur but it will; given time, patience and attention, get the job done. Gathering the parts to make a simple dehydrator will take longer than actually putting it together and making it operational.

WARNING:  Your home-made dehydrator won’t be the subject of an ISO testing regime so make sure to use it only in a fire-safe area that you closely monitor during the dehydrating process.

Materials Needed To Make A Simple Dehydrator

Make A Simple Dehydrator

Step 1: Select a large cardboard box. A suitable box should be able to stand on its end for easy access. Make sure not to use a plastic box as there may be the risk of off gassing when the dehydrator heats up or melting. Line the inside with aluminum foil using tape. Double sided tape works best for this step.

Step 2: Insert and mount your heat source, with the cord running through the side or back of the box. Try and keep the hole as small and insulated as possible, in order to cut down on heat loss. A word on the heat source, use a bulb that gives off heat. A 75w or 100w incandescent bulb works great. An LED, or CFL bulb won’t give off the necessary heat.  Make sure there are no exposed wires in contact with the aluminum foil, as moisture may accumulate inside your box.

Step 3 (Optional): Insert and mount your fan.  Place the fan opposite your heat source. Adding the fan to the process will help with the dehydrating process by circulating the warm air and helping remove moisture from your food.

Step 4: Cut holes in the sides of the box to slide your wooden slats or dowels through to place your racks on.  Some suggest that you could use PVC for the rack supports but due to the possibility of off-gassing, my suggestion is to use wooden dowels, slats or a freestanding rack.

Step 5: Make vent holes at the top to allow the moisture to escape. You want to use numerous smaller holes, rather than fewer larger holes.  The reason for this is that moisture will collect on the areas where there is no ventilation.

Step 6: Insert the cooking thermometer into the side of the box, at about the level of you rack supports.  Ensure you can read your thermometer from the outside of the box.  If you were to place the thermometer inside you would have to open the box to read it and would lose valuable heat in the process.

Step 7:  Place your newly constructed dehydrator in a fire safe area.

Step 8:  Place your food on the racks and mount inside your box.

Step 8: Close your box, turn on your new dehydrator and let the food dehydrate!  Make sure to monitor your dehydrator for safety during the dehydration process.

Using Your Simple Dehydrator

Some notes on using your home made dehydrator.  First and foremost, do not leave you dehydrator unattended; safety, safety, safety.  The next thing is managing the heat.  Different foods need to be dehydrated at different temperatures, for best results.  The table below shows you the proper temperature for different foods:

Dehydrator Temperatures
Fruit & Vegetables 130°-140° F
Meats 145° F or higher
Herbs 95°-110° F

You can manage the heat inside the box, by leaving the box slightly open or closing it up.

Choosing The Right Caliber For Game – Infographic

Today’s Infographic, Choosing The Right Caliber For Game comes to us courtesy of hunter-ed.com.

How to Choose the Right Caliber

Top 10 Thoughts For Better SHTF Nutrition

Providing better nutrition is always a concern, even in the best of times. In a SHTF scenario, it can literally mean the difference between life and death. Food security/preparedness is one of the 10 tenants of the Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine, and providing better nutrition is a key component of that.  In the interests of helping you improve your food preparedness and security through good times and bad, Prepography presents the Top 10 Thoughts for Better SHTF Nutrition:

Top 10 Thoughts for Better SHTF Nutrition

1.  Think Chicken & Eggs – It doesn’t matter which came first as Chickens provide the cheapest animal protein, pound for pound, to produce. Their meat is low-fat, and high in nutrients. They also produce eggs, which provide additional nutritional benefits. Chicken meat and eggs can be prepared a variety of ways for consumption and storage. Even egg shells can be boiled and finely ground then added to food for additional protein.

2.  Think With Your Guts – Actually, think about guts.  Liver, kidneys, hearts and even blood are can be very nutritious. Many people turn their noses up at them for a variety of reasons and liver was considered to be dog food until the Great Depression but there are many ways to prepare them to make delicious meals.  One of the axioms in food prepping is that if you don’t eat it normally you won’t eat it in times of crisis so give some of these other protein sources a try with the following recipes.

Note: 1. These are ‘good times’ recipes to introduce you these foods which can also be prepared in more austere conditions. 2. Those with certain medical conditions should avoid organ meats. Consult your physician about dietary restrictions for any chronic medical conditions you have.

3.  Think Beans, Peas, Lentils And Other Legumes – These provide a good, inexpensive source of protein. That’s why legumes are a key staple in most Preppers’ pantries.  Not only are these inexpensive to buy but they are easily purchased in bulk quantities and if properly packaged they can last for decades.  Also, don’t forget include legumes in your garden.  They are easily grown and help fix nitrogen in the soil for the benefit of subsequent and companion plantings.

4.  Think Green Leafy Vegetables – Kermit the Frog is famous for quipping “it’s not easy being green” but it also isn’t easy staying healthy without your greens.  Green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin A, iron and other essential minerals.  These veggies promote good vision, support regulating genes, help maintain healthy skin, enhance the immune system and help produce red blood cells.  Eat lots of green leafy vegetables to ward off vitamin A deficiency which can cause impaired vision and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases.

5.  Think Corny – Unprocessed corn (maize) is deficient in niacin, which is problematic when corn is used as a staple food in a diet. Soaking unprocessed corn in pickling lime, aka nixtamalizing, provides better nutrition by freeing up Vitamin B3 and reducing mycotoxins (a type of fungus that can be dangerous).  Additionally, nixtamalized corn is more easily ground and has a better aroma.

6.  Think Whole Grains – Rice, wheat and other grains are more nutritious without the outer husk removed. They are important sources of nutrients, minerals and dietary fiber. Whole grains can also help with reducing the risk of heart disease, gastric problems, weight management, and can help during pregnancy and fetal development. Since whole grains are less processed than other grains they also tend to be less expensive.

7.  Think About How You Cook Your Food – Boiling meats and vegetables removes nutrients, decreasing their nutritional value. Steaming is a great alternative to boiling vegetables but if you must boil a food, use as little water as necessary and drink the water you used to recoup some of your lost nutrients.

8.  Think About Wild Fruits, Berries & Nuts – Foraging for wild fruits and berries can provide you with a rich source of vitamin C and sugars.  While this is a very seasonal method of finding a low-cost foods, it is a very good one and there are preservation methods to store your harvest. Nuts are a great source of protein that typically don’t take much energy to acquire.  In addition to improving your nutrition, nuts, fruits and berries also provide variety to your diet and fruits and berries can be surprisingly satisfying to your sweet tooth if it hasn’t been spoiled recently by processed sugars.

9.  Think Like An Iron Man – If you find yourself eating a diet deficient in iron, find ways to add iron back in like cooking your meal on/in cast iron.  Some folks have gone to very creative, sometimes dangerous extremes to add iron to their diet by doing thinks like adding a horseshoe to the bottom of a non-iron cook pot or placing iron nails into water enhanced with citrus (acidic) squeezings to leach the iron out of the nails…this isn’t a recommended technique for obvious reasons.

10.  Think Like a Baby – Baby food is nutritionally dense, well-balanced, portable and has a long shelf life.  Adults and children of all ages can benefit from these foods if they can be purchased affordably.  These also make a safer diet to use for a member of your group who has become ill and is unable to eat rougher foods.  Mix with cereals or other ‘gruels’ as your invalid becomes more robust.

Bonus 1:  Think About Your First Meal – Studies have shown that breast milk will help protect babies from a long list on illnesses. Additionally, it helps babies from developing allergies. In times of crisis, breast-feeding my also be the only option for providing proper nutrition for newborns and toddlers.  If yours is a formula family…consider this more natural alternative.

Cassava LeavesBonus 2:  Think about Cassava Leaves – If your environment is tropical or subtropical think cassava.  Young cassava leaves provide good nutrition due to high content of protein, minerals and vitamins. They can contain up to 7 times the protein as other vegetables. In addition to reportedly increasing stamina, they also contain vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, calories, phosphorus, protein, fat, carbohydrate and iron. Used as herbal medicine they are said to aid or relieve rheumatism, headache, fever, fester and diarrhea.

If you intend on using Cassava to supplement your other foodstuffs make sure to learn how to properly prepare it to remove any residual cyanide.

Conclusion to the Top 10 Thoughts for Better SHTF Nutrition

It bears repeating, at this point, that your brain is the most important tool in your preparedness and survival inventory. Creating and executing a proper nutritional plan is key to living a long and healthy life. The ideas listed above should not be looked on solely as emergency options. They should be looked at as practical, everyday ideas that can be integrated into your daily diet as well as your preparations. Not giving consideration to your nutritional needs as you develop your supplies could easily lead you to be missing key ingredients or components. Even if you are able to scavenge some of what is needed above, chances are it will be of inferior quality, or you will be fighting others for a limited resource. Plan and lay in your supplies now for better nutrition later and so that when the SHTF you aren’t left wanting and searching for other options.

Sugar Maple Identification – Infographic

With tree tapping season upon us here at The Hermitage I’ve been reading up on sugaring and tree tapping.  We’ve yet to do a real tree census on the retreat and haven’t identified any suitable maple trees yet but have already found a number of trees that can be tapped.

I’m going to try tapping one of my Sycamore trees later this week.  In addition to the Maple (Rocky Mountain, Canyon/Big Tooth, Boxelder, Norway, Red, Silver, Black and of course Sugar) and Sycamore trees there are a number of other North American trees that can produce syrup yielding sap including Ironwood, Birch (River, Black, Yellow and Paper), English Walnut, Hazelnut, Black Walnut, Butternut/White Walnut…did I miss any?

Anyway, today’s infographic on Sugar Maple Identification is brought to us by Ohio Thoughts

Sugar Maple Identification

Cogitation – The Woosification Of American Men

A buddy turned me onto the Creek Stewart survivalist show called Fat Guys In The Woods on the Weather Channel.  It’s not exciting, it’s not fancy, it’s not high drama but it is a great show to learn about bushcraft and the woosification of American men.

Each episode revolves around three couch potatoes who are stuck in a rut of some form and need to make a change in their life.  Creek’s goal is to help his rotund padawans build self confidence to move forward in their lives outside the woods.  Creek’s approach is similar to that used by Outward Bound but revolves primarily around primitive wilderness skills.  The guys enter the woods and Stewart walks them through shelter building, food acquisition as well as water acquisition and purification.  By the end of their week in the woods the fat guys have developed some basic bushcraft skills which they get to put to the test by striking out on their own for the final day and night.

For thousands of years, man lived wild and our triumph over mother nature defined who we were. We were rugged; we were strong and as we evolved our ingenuity led to towering achievements. We secured our place at the top of the food chain and now we have the waistline to prove it… Get off the couch and come out to the woods. Creek Stewart

The show seems to go out of their way to pick guys that haven’t spent a lot of time outside or in primitive environments and most of the fat guys seem to rise to the occasion and learn important life lessons but what amazes me is how many of these grown men fall to pieces when it comes time to kill game to eat.  Whatever happened to Dad and Grandpa taking their young men into the woods and teaching them where their food really comes from?

Before your steak hits the grill it had a face and that’s OK…that’s the way the food chain works, the way God intended it and it is a very good thing to be at the top of the chain.  There’s no reason to be squeamish about taking a more active part in dispatching and butchering game and livestock…in my opinion it’s not just a good set of skills (dispatching & butchering animals) to have but is also is a more honest approach than believing that your protein comes from cellophane and Styrofoam.  Preparedness goals aside…shying away from taking part in the acquisition and preparation of one’s protein is just another symptom of the woosification of American men.

Fat Guys In The WoodsThat said, check out Fat Guys In The Woods, it’s a much better show than the majority of what passes for entertainment these days…oh and check out the incredible bug out vehicle that Creek pulls up in at the beginning of most episodes…a lot of us followed him making this truck on his Willow Haven Outdoor website over the past couple of years.

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.

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.

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