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.

10 Steps To Sharpen A Chainsaw

My recent Prepography article “8 Tips For Using A Chainsaw” gave the basics on using a chainsaw. Having a sharp chain is very important for safety as well as productivity. Chains will dull very quickly, especially if cutting an extremely hard wood such as hedge. Knowing how to sharpen a chainsaw is an important skill to have. Not only will it increase the effectiveness of your efforts, it will save you money to boot because you’ll use fewer saw lubricating oils and won’t have to pay someone else to do it for you.

How To Sharpen A Chainsaw In 10 Steps

oregon sharpening kit - How To Sharpen A Chainsaw In 10 Steps1) Determine Your Chainsaw’s Gauge – You will need a rotary grindstone or chainsaw file that matches the size of the chain’s teeth. You can also buy a chainsaw sharpening kit that has everything you need in it, like the one to the right.  Typical sizes are 3/16, 5/32 and 7/32 of an inch in diameter.

2) Thoroughly Clean Your Chain – Use a brush and solvent to clean dirt, dust and debris off the chain.

3) Inspect Your Chain For Damage – Look for chipped, broken, or bent teeth. These will make a chain dangerous to use. If a tooth is worn short, it is at risk of breaking during operation, which is extremely dangerous to the operator. Replace any chain that is worn or damaged.

4) Place Your Saw On A Solid Surface – For safe and accurate filing your saw must be stable and the blade firmly supported. Use a vise to clamp the bar while allowing the chain to rotate freely is the best option.

5) Locate Your Start Point – The lead cutter on a chain is the shortest cutting tooth on the chain. If you can’t locate it, just take a permanent marker and mark a tooth as the starting point.

6) Set Your file Into The Notch On The Front Of The Cutter – The cutter is the angled “tooth” on the front of the flat surface of the chain link. Your file should exactly fit the curve of the face of the cutting tip. The top 20% of the file diameter should be above the top of the tooth.  The file should be at the same angle as the cutter. Also check your saw’s specs to find out what that correct angle is. Usually it is a 25 or 30 degree angle

7) Push The File Across The Face Of The Cutter – Using a twisting motion push the file across the cutter. The twisting motion help get the metal filings out-of-the-way. Do this on every other tooth until you have made one full rotation of the chain.

8) Reverse Sides And Repeat – Once you have sharpened all the teeth from one side, switch to the other side of your saw and repeat step

Be sure that all the cutters, on both sides, are filed to the same width. This is important, because the teeth need to take the same size “bite” from the wood. This will make for a smoother cutting process.
Chain Tooth Parts

Chain Tooth Parts
(Image courtesy of http://www.forestapps.com/)

9) Check The Clearance – Check the clearance of your depth gauges which are also known as the rakers.  These curved hook shaped pieces link the cutters. They govern the amount of wood that the cutter removes on each pass. They should be about one tenth of an inch lower than the cutter. A special tool called a Depth Gauge Tool is available online or from chainsaw dealers or hardware stores. You can eyeball it if you don’t have one but the tolerances are pretty small so use the depth gauge if possible.

10) Oil The Chain & Check Tension – Saturate the chain with oil. Then, check the tension to ensure it is not too loose, or tight. Adjust as needed, and you should be ready to cut again.

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.

Hermitage Update

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around The Hermitage that necessitated a short break from writing and editing.  Thought I’d bring you a Hermitage update.

  • Completed our move to The Hermitage, our full time retreat
  • Completed construction on our workshop
  • Completed half of our trim carpentry in the house
  • Installed a doggie door for daughter #3’s pet…still haven’t figured out what you’re supposed to hunt with a purse dog
  • Finished up some light fixture installations in the house
  • Built food storage area in the house to expand the pantry
  • General cleanup both around the house and the workshop…salvaged a lot of materials for future projects
  • First deer hunt on the hermitage
  • Went shooting with son-in-law #1 and new extended family
  • Hosted daughter #1 and son-in-law for a week

On top of all that we celebrated Thanksgiving and married off daughter #2 to a great guy who I’m proud to call son-in-law #2.  What the new son-in-law lacks in practical skills he makes up for in common sense and being willing to lend a hand…not to mention that he treats my daughter like a princess and is a hell of a good shot…both great survival skills.

What a great few weeks!  Back to our regular schedule later this week!

Finding Your Prepper Homestead

Recently I announced that the Jackson clan completed a seven year quest to purchase acreage for a homestead and full time retreat.  Rachel and I had been considering purchasing acreage for a number of years as a combination hunting/recreation/retreat property but as I served in Iraq I watched neighborhoods turn into war zones and the radicalization of ordinary civilians I realized that the only (relative) safety in societal breakdown lies in either complete isolation or surrounding yourself with the fellow members of your family, ‘clan’ and ‘tribe.’  I hope that by sharing our story and homestead evaluation criterion we help you in finding your Prepper homestead.

That said I want you to consider how unrealistic complete isolation is for the average person or family.  Not only are we social animals, but complete isolation in a family compound would make securing and trading for necessary resources…not to mention husbands and wives for your next generation… problematic.  No one can plan for or afford to prepare for every contingency so some trade will be required to deal with any extended and even many short term TEOTWAWKI events.

I once read about a retreat island (in the Caribbean… I think) for sale that had been developed by a former employee of the CIA for his family.  This CIA alum had earned millions working in industry following his national service and to stock his island he purchased the inventory from entire hardware stores to ship to the retreat.  Most of us don’t have that kind of money or the resources to travel to such remote retreats when the balloon goes up or the stock market crashes down so what’s a regular guy to do to keep his family safe and sound…I say do the best you can where you are with what you have (financially, social network wise, etc.).  This doesn’t mean that you hunker down during a hurricane or wildfire and hope to survive, or that you don’t relocate to a safer area if you’re lucky enough to be independently wealthy or have ‘mailbox income’ and the time and willingness to develop new social networks… but it does mean that even if you’re not tied to a geographic area by family or financial requirements you should strongly consider setting up your retreat or homestead in the safest location with the best resources within own social geography.  This was the epiphany I had as I watched civil society in Iraq tear itself to shreds.

Even before I returned to the states I’d started researching prospective homestead sites and on my return we started looking in earnest.  Over the years I developed a network of real estate agents and bankers (for foreclosures) that tipped me off to new properties going up for sale, wrote absentee landowners to make unsolicited offers and set up standing queries on a number of real estate sales websites.

Over the years we refined our homestead evaluation tools and learned how to move quickly to avoid the day late, dollar short disappointments we experienced early on.  It’s important to note that until the last 18 months of our search we hadn’t developed our wish list sufficiently to effectively analyze, compare and decide if a prospective homestead was right for our needs.  I hope that by sharing our evaluation criteria we will help you find your homestead/retreat more quickly than we did.

Check back tomorrow for more on finding your Prepper homestead as we discuss the Homestead Evaluation Criteria that led us to find The Hermitage.

Finding Your Prepper Homestead

Recently I announced that the Jackson clan completed a seven year quest to purchase acreage for a homestead and full time retreat.  Rachel and I had been considering purchasing acreage for a number of years as a combination hunting/recreation/retreat property but as I served in Iraq I watched neighborhoods turn into war zones and the radicalization of ordinary civilians I realized that the only (relative) safety in societal breakdown lies in either complete isolation or surrounding yourself with the fellow members of your family, ‘clan’ and ‘tribe.’  I hope that by sharing our story and homestead evaluation criterion we help you in finding your Prepper homestead.

That said I want you to consider how unrealistic complete isolation is for the average person or family.  Not only are we social animals, but complete isolation in a family compound would make securing and trading for necessary resources…not to mention husbands and wives for your next generation… problematic.  No one can plan for or afford to prepare for every contingency so some trade will be required to deal with any extended and even many short term TEOTWAWKI events.

I once read about a retreat island (in the Caribbean… I think) for sale that had been developed by a former employee of the CIA for his family.  This CIA alum had earned millions working in industry following his national service and to stock his island he purchased the inventory from entire hardware stores to ship to the retreat.  Most of us don’t have that kind of money or the resources to travel to such remote retreats when the balloon goes up or the stock market crashes down so what’s a regular guy to do to keep his family safe and sound…I say do the best you can where you are with what you have (financially, social network wise, etc.).  This doesn’t mean that you hunker down during a hurricane or wildfire and hope to survive, or that you don’t relocate to a safer area if you’re lucky enough to be independently wealthy or have ‘mailbox income’ and the time and willingness to develop new social networks… but it does mean that even if you’re not tied to a geographic area by family or financial requirements you should strongly consider setting up your retreat or homestead in the safest location with the best resources within own social geography.  This was the epiphany I had as I watched civil society in Iraq tear itself to shreds.

Even before I returned to the states I’d started researching prospective homestead sites and on my return we started looking in earnest.  Over the years I developed a network of real estate agents and bankers (for foreclosures) that tipped me off to new properties going up for sale, wrote absentee landowners to make unsolicited offers and set up standing queries on a number of real estate sales websites.

Over the years we refined our homestead evaluation tools and learned how to move quickly to avoid the day late, dollar short disappointments we experienced early on.  It’s important to note that until the last 18 months of our search we hadn’t developed our wish list sufficiently to effectively analyze, compare and decide if a prospective homestead was right for our needs.  I hope that by sharing our evaluation criteria we will help you find your homestead/retreat more quickly than we did.

Check back tomorrow for more on finding your Prepper homestead as we discuss the Homestead Evaluation Criteria that led us to find The Hermitage.

Poor Is A Choice – 25 Ways To Choose A Rich Life

I’ve written previously about The Top 10 Symptoms of Poor Man’s Disease and about how I’ve been unemployed, lived check-to-check and once lived in such a rough neighborhood I counted prostitutes on my way home from work each night…but I never chose to be poor and I do believe that poor is a choice.

I never went hungry growing up or did without anything I needed (and by my high school years had just about everything I wanted) but there was a time when I was very young when my folks would search through the couch cushions at the end of the month to scrape together enough money to have a treat at McDonalds.  As an adult I’ve been unemployed, lived check-to-check and I once lived in such a bad neighborhood that I made a game of counting how many prostitutes I passed on my way home from work.

I now live in a small town and one of the benefits of living in a small town is that you get to know many different types of people.  Folks with varied economic and educational backgrounds…folks with  different definitions of success who define ‘the good life’ in ways many of us couldn’t even imagine.  I know lots of folks who don’t have a lot of financial resources but I don’t know a whole lot of ‘poor’ people…and most of the folks I know who are ‘poor’ live a life to be envied by most folks…and I’m not talking about people like Hillary Clinton talking about being broke when she and President Clinton left the White House.

Even those that are members of the lucky sperm club and grow up with all the benefits that family wealth provides have been known to choose poverty… then there are guys like Donald Trump who’s failed and gone bankrupt multiple times, but never let it keep him down.

‘Poor’ is a combination of:

  • Expenses equaling or exceeding income
  • Not making changes to bring income up and/or expenses down
  • Having a poor attitude about it because you ‘deserve more’ or ‘aren’t getting your fair share’

Being poor really is a choice, or more appropriately a series of choices made and choices not made.  If you accept my assertion that poor is a choice, why not choose rich.  Below are a number of choices to make…or avoid to choose rich.  I’ve written this guide as advice for the young…who have opportunities that those of us a little more seasoned might not have…but even if you’ve made some poor choices in the past, it’s never too late to choose rich!

Poor is a choice so:

  1. Choose an education:  I don’t care whether it’s an advanced degree, a bachelor’s degree, a certificate from a trade school, or a journeyman trade…just make sure that you get an education or skills that are marketable.  The most prestigious degree in the world isn’t worth getting if you can’t earn a living.
  2. Choose to start in the Military:  What’s better than getting job training, work experience and college money…how about earning an income and serving your country while you do so.  Oh, and it’s the best resume material in the world… what other career entrusts those under 25 with millions of dollars worth of equipment and human lives…  There are even part time options called the Reserves and the National Guard.  Did you know that less than a quarter of the young people today qualify for military service because of medical conditions or the choices they’ve made (convictions, drug use, obesity, mental health medications, etc.).
  3. Choose to take an entry level job:  The current movement to raise the minimum wage is endangering entry level jobs.  No job is beneath you that’s legal and moral.  Take that first job that’s unsavory to prove yourself so that you can eventually have the job you want.
  4. Choose to volunteer:  Volunteer for more responsibility, accept the unpleasant tasks and prove yourself so that you can move up in the organization or on to the better job or into a career.  Volunteer in your community to help others, build your reputation and expand your personal network.
  5. Choose to work:  Work even if you don’t have to because that’s how you’ll create more opportunities.  I’ve known folks who work until they have enough money to last themselves a few days, weeks or months and then fail to show up or quit to knock around for a while.  Don’t lose the gig you have until you already have the one you want and never burn bridges that you might need again.
  6. Choose to treat your employer’s business as if it’s yours:  The best employees approach every job as if they’re the business owner.  They give 100%, don’t cut corners and look for ways to improve profitability.  If you take ownership of your job you will either be rewarded with more opportunities, benefits and pay or will learn that you want to work for another employer.
  7. Choose to be patient:  Employers look for and reward loyal employees that perform well over time.  Doing a good job is a marathon, not a sprint so don’t expect rewards for working hard for hours or days…think in terms of weeks, months or years depending on your chosen career.
  8. Choose to improve your skills:  The smartest guy I ever worked with didn’t rely on his intelligence to get ahead…he spent every spare moment developing skills to become more attractive to potential employers.  While the rest of our deployed group went out to dinner or a night on the town he’d stay in and study and practice for IT certifications and work hard learning new software development skills.
  9. Choose to network:  You may be the best widget servicer in the world but if you don’t develop a reputation within a group of people who are involved with widgets then you’ll be hard pressed to get that first job.
  10. Choose multigenerational wealth creation:  Traditionally, new immigrants to the U.S. expected to work hard for low wages their entire lives in order to improve the opportunities for their children.  With all the opportunities available these days, I don’t think that this is necessary any more, but you have to admire the stamina and determination of these immigrants to refuse to think ‘poor.’
  11. Choose a second job:  Maybe you need extra experience to achieve your dream job…maybe you just need extra money to make up for some temporary setback or poor financial decisions.  Don’t be too proud to take a second job.  I’ve had second and often third jobs most of my adult life…often that third job is something that’s mostly fun or gives me a discount for things I enjoy doing.  Consider taking a second job that gives back to your community as well as developing your skills…military Reservist, National Guardsman, or reserve law enforcement are such options.
  12. Choose frugality:  Spend less money than you make and you’ll be less likely to choose to be ‘poor.’  Especially beware those monthly recurring charges that add up quickly.
  13. Choose to stay out of debt:  There are good reasons to take on debt but the only two I can think of are to purchase a business (or equipment) that will bring in much more income each month that you pay our in payments and to buy a house…but a modest house for your income in a good neighborhood.
  14. Choose to stay away from drugs:  Drug use doesn’t just slow down your reflexes, it slows down your opportunities.  There are a number of jobs, opportunities and promotions that will be denied to you if you choose drugs.
  15. Choose to stay away from crime:  I don’t just mean ‘don’t do crime’ I also mean that you should stay away from those who do.  Ask any law enforcement officer and they’ll tell you that there is such a thing as guilt by association.  Background checks don’t care if you were ever convicted.
  16. Choose to look employable:  If you’re going to be a tattoo artist than it’s OK to have tattoos all over your neck and forearms but if you want to go into the Army or become a nurse than such tattoos will make it more difficult to find employment.  The same goes with tattoos, purple hair, mohawks and all similar types of expression.  Look like what you want to be…dress for the job you want as well.
  17. Choose to act the part:  Don’t just look like what you want to be…act like it as well.  Those who get the opportunity most likely looked and acted like they already had it.
  18. Choose to take care of yourself:  You have to be and look physically fit enough to do the job and healthy enough that they expect you to be able to work.
  19. Choose good hygiene:  I know a woman who is competent, experienced, dependable, loyal and attractive…but she’s been unexpectedly fired twice recently…she lives in a house with several dogs and she’s let them make her house smell like a urinal which means that any clothes that she puts on that aren’t straight out of the dryer…smell like a urinal.  Keep yourself and your environment clean so that nothing distracts from you competence.
  20. Choose how you define ‘rich:’  I know a guy who lives check-to-check but he wants to fix cars and work from his farm so he does.  He’s had good paying jobs but he always comes back to the farm because that’s what he wants and I’ve never once heard him complain about being ‘poor.’
  21. Choose continuous self development:  From time to time I’ve found myself resting on my laurels…I’m never happy again until I start working on myself again…mentally, physically, career skills, personal networks…whatever…and once I start growing again…I’m always happier and seem to make more money.
  22. Choose to start a business:  You must take risks to seek rewards.
  23. Choose to pick yourself up after your failures and begin again:  Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.  Learn from your mistakes, don’t let them cripple you emotionally, and have the strength try again
  24. Choose not to quit:  Don’t like what you’re doing, keep doing it anyway until you find the next thing.  Finish the semester, stay at the job until you find the next one and for heavens sake don’t give up on your marriage or kids.
  25. Choose to ignore the poverty industry:  There are a whole lot of people out there making a living off of keeping other people poor.  Don’t buy into their philosophies of division, grow a chip on your shoulder or fall into the trap of ‘managing’ your income so you don’t loose your disability payments, EBT card, or now healthcare.  By all means use the social safety net if you don’t have any other alternatives until you can transition to self sufficiency but beware because they are designed to trap you into dependence by penalizing you as you begin earning your own way.  In other words, choose to earn your way, not fight for your fair share.  Fighting for your fair share is just another way of choosing poverty.

What’s this have to do with preparedness?  A lot actually, by choosing to live rich you’ll be happier, deal with setbacks more effectively, be more self sufficient and perhaps have more money for preps.  Survival is an attitude…so is choosing to live richly.

Bonus Choice:  Choose to vote for politicians that will leave you and your pocketbook alone:  Compliance takes up so much of any business owner’s time and the penalties for non-compliance can be crippling…don’t let these obstacles keep you from trying but do your best to vote out the bastards that punish entrepreneurs and those who create our GNP.

Survive The Apocalypse – Infographic

How-to-Survive-the-Apocalypse-A-5-Step-Survival-Guide

Self Reliance Skills: Teach Someone Something

Why learn new self reliance skills

Living a self-sufficient lifestyle, and trying to cut down your reliance on outside entities is not something that comes out of the blue. It is something that must be worked on and fostered. Part of that entails learning the skills and gathering the knowledge to do so. Without continued learning, your efforts stagnate, and you never achieve your goals. There is not a single person that I know who is traveling the path towards self reliance who is not constantly trying a new technique, or reading some book or manual in order to learn new skills and accumulate more knowledge.

Teaching4Why pass on your self reliance skills

For many, a natural progression after gaining, or mastering, new skills, is to pass them along. The obvious answer as to why they do this is that they are propagating the idea of self-reliance and independent living. On the other hand, many people don’t consider themselves teachers and don’t have the confidence to teach others what they know. If you fall in to the latter category, there are a couple of reasons why you should reconsider becoming a teacher or mentor, if for no other reason then for your own self-improvement.

The first reason is that by teaching others, you are forced to critically break down the process. You gain a more intimate knowledge of what you are teaching. By doing so, you become better at whatever you are passing along. The second reason for teaching others what you know is that you expose yourself to new ideas and outlooks on the subject matter. A student may give you fresh angle on the topic, or impart some knowledge you don’t have.

Andrew’s Note:  In my Army life I’ve always volunteered to teach topics that I struggled with…preparing to teach others is the best way to learn a difficult topic or perfect your knowledge.

Teaching Fire Making Skills

Teaching Fire Making Skills

How people learn new self reliance skills

People learn new skills and knowledge in through three primary methods. We all incorporate all three methods when we learn. Everybody will gravitate towards one primary method dependent on their personality and hard wiring. It is important to know how your students learn and what method(s) are best suited to your topic.  Tailor your class to have the maximum impact by incorporating multiple teaching methods appropriate for your topic.

The three types of learners are:

  • The visual learner – This person gathers most of their information through their visual senses. They like to watch videos, read and take notes. They tend to organize the information in a format that is balanced and aligned.
  • The auditory learner – This person’s primary learning input is via listening. They prefer lectures and often ask questions. They tend to prefer discussions over what they don’t understand, and remember verbal instructions well.
  • The tactile learner – This person learns best by doing. They prefer to attend “how-to” workshops, doing labs and studying with others. They tend to dislike lectures and prefer to be active in their learning process.
Cody L. giving a class on survival techniques

Cody Lundin giving a class on survival techniques

Techniques for teaching self reliance skills

Since we now know the primary ways people learn, let’s go over several ways to go about teaching people the skills you know.

  • Direct instruction – This technique uses lectures to pass along information. It is good for passing along large amounts of information in a short amount of time. The drawback of the technique is that is very inflexible.
  • Problem based – This technique gives the student a problem, and then allows them to come up with an answer. It is used to develop critical thinking skills. The downside to this method is that it takes more teacher guidance, supervision and time.
  • Co-operative – The technique allows students to share and develop their knowledge with group members. Not to be confused with simple group work, true cooperative learning activities are highly structured. Again, it takes a lot of teacher supervision and guidance.
  • Field based – This technique takes students out into the real world to experience new information firsthand while being able to use all their senses. The upside to this is that it accommodates all learning styles well. The downside is that it is dependent on multiple environmental variables.

Teaching5Effecting teaching of self reliance skills

Now that we know how people learn, and several methods of teaching, it is important to touch upon some personal skills that will help you translate your skills and knowledge into student learning:

  • Communications – The ability to effectively communicate is key to keeping students engaged. This applies to the written word as well as the spoken.
  • Presence – Patience, demeanor and leadership are paramount in the classroom. Remember that the students are always watching you, and their behavior will be a reflection of what they see.
  • Planning – Have a good lesson plan. Even if you know the material inside and out, a good plan will help you stay on track and make the most of your time.
  • Flexibility – Be flexible, the unexpected will happen. Be ready to change directions and still keep the students attention.  Capitalize on mishaps, surprises and mistakes as ‘teachable moments.’

“I can’t teach anyone the self reliance skills I know!”

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Ben Franklin

AJ teases me about being an “evangelical prepper”, because I am constantly trying to bring new folks into the fold.  I gladly take that title on, and so should you.  Your teachers and mentors passed along the self reliance skills and knowledge that you are using to live a more self-reliant and independent lifestyle.  Pay it forward and teach and mentor others even if the thought terrifies you. At the end of the day, you’ll have gained more than you gave out, and chances are that you’ll have learned something along the way.

Pallet Wood Projects

5 Minute Pallet Table

Grumpy G’s 5 Min Pallet Table

Frequent Prepography contributor Grumpy G is nothing less than a pallet aficionado and has had me taking a second look at pallet wood as a low cost resource for building pallet wood projects.

I’d previously dismissed this abundant and low cost building material from an outdated worry surrounding introducing toxic chemicals into my immediate environment.  I can still hear one of my sergeants yelling at then Private Jackson…”Jackson, take that damned pallet off the fire, don’t you know they’re treated with toxic chemicals!”

Grumpy G and others over the years have shared pallet wood project stories with me and I’ve been concerned with their safety but have had my concerns brushed off by those in the know…that doesn’t mean every pallet is safe to build from (or burn nearby) but some of them certainly are and you can find out which ones by reading this short article from Instructibles or this article for expanded information.

Pallet Rabbit Hutch

Grumpy G’s Pallet Project Rabbit Hutch

…anyway, on to the purpose of this note to our readers…Grumpy G has shared a cool website with me called 1001 Pallets but would more appropriately be titled 1001 Pallet Wood Projects.  It’s a great place to view the possibilities for this most humble of recyclable materials.  You can see pictures of pallet wood projects for the garden, the workplace, the home or anyplace else you can imagine…check it out.

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