Saturday, January 31, 2009

Self Sustained Living- Why be Prepared?

Okay folks, President Obama has ok'd a federal emergency declaration for Missouri, adding that state to the already approved requests for Kentucky and Arkansas.

the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Here is a comment posted on the story page: John says-
"Hornersville Mo and the rural area in lower southeast Mo has been very hard by the recent ice storm. There a lot of elderly people there with no heat or electricity. Many roads are blocked by fallen poles and trees and most lines across roads.
Many are not able to get out to get somewhere else and do not have resourses to buy generators for electricity. A disaster has been declared but no help has come. It has been 4 days for these people. Help is going to be too late if someone doesn't start doing somthing fast."

Folks, you can't wait for the government to come to your rescue. Situations like what has happened in Mo, Ky and AR happened here in southern Illinois too. Not as bad here as there but we still spent a few days iced in ourselves. Some in the most southern counties are still out of power here too. Please, start preparing for yourselves. Stock up on the things that will keep you safe and warm thru events like what just happened.

Stock these things for your family-
an alternate light source
an alternate heat source
an alternate cooking source
extra misc things you might run out of like toothpaste, toilet paper, etc
extra blankets
extra medicines your family requires

And please don't forget about your pets. They need food and water too!

Stay safe and warm and keep prepping!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

State of Emergency

What a great phrase for the American lifestyle. Trick James over at Nebraska Preppers Network posted some excellent information compiled by the Trends Research Institiute this morning, it's even in mp3 format. Now, combine that information with this tidbit off of Yahoo News, talking about how it could be mid February before power is restored to people hit by the winter snow storm that ripped thru here Tuesday.

The roads here are still a mess, hubby spent 2 hours trying to get out of a ditch last night because of an idiot on the road with him. He chose the ditch over smashing our truck into a moron in a mini van on ice covered roads.

Here's a storm, blamed for 23 deaths so far and people being interviewed act like cooking on a gas stoveand heating their home with wood is some kind of miracle. And then there's the fellow with the 2 small kids that is worried he can't make it without power for 2 or 3 days. People, when will you realize that being prepared is the right thing to do? There is nothing in this whole world more important than taking care of yourself and your family in case of ANY emergency.

We all need to be thinking ahead, preparing for those odd occurances that could threaten our lives and our families. Store some food and water, get alternative heating lined up and know how to use it. Do you really want to be cooped up with a couple hundred strangers in a church basement, living on a cot? Or even worse, a FEMA camp with a couple thousand strangers, in a warehouse on a cot.

Please spread the word to your neighbors, become accustomed to the idea of being prepared and then do it. Get yourself a little FREEDOM INSURANCE.

Keep prepping!

(this is a duplicate post originating from Illinois Preppers Network )

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday and an ice storm

The wake up this morning was a little disappointing, I was hoping for snow. But instead, we got about 3" of tiny ice balls. It's packed tight on the ground, you don't even crunch on it. It's still coming down like a misty rain. The weather channel says 3 to 5" of ice is coming with 4 to 6" of snow on top of it. the big concern now is power failure from ice accumulation.

Talk at the coal mine last night was mostly how they guys would need to gather candles and such in case they lose power. Hello? You don't have those things in place already? 300 guys all making a decent paycheck and none of them have any type of emergency preparations in place! I was even invited to go sledding in the ice storm today. Why do I get the feeling I am surrounded by idiots?

I have spent the last 6 months, every work shift, talking about survival skills, being prepared for the coming economy troubles, general emergency preparedness and sharing home grown food with these same guys. I guess my words fell on deaf ears. Apparently, not a single man listened.

I can't explain this any clearer or make it any more simple without writing it in crayon. If you don't prepare now, you will be a ward of the government. This is the path our government is on and they have several wonderful plans already moving toward being implemented to make sure we all fall in line. Unemployment will continue, costs for your basic necessities of life will continue to rise. Get prepping now! Buy a couple food grade buckets and fill them with food you can live on. Learn to build a fire so you can cook what you've stored. Learn to can and dehydrate food and learn to grow food. Think of it as additional life insurance without the red tape. Or, better yet, think of it as Freedom Insurance.

Keep prepping!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gloomy and Overcast

It's not just the weather! It's a balmy 15 degrees this morning, and my nose is running. Thank you to everyone that commented, you all brighten my day! Unk, I hear ya and I know better but of course I had to be in a hurry and now look at me... Chicken and Dumplings probably on Wednesday so get the map out and get driving or you'll miss it Hermit, we never have leftovers LOL.

Thanks Molly, I'll try the Bay leaf. I give the weevels to myself, they eat alfalfa and I bring them in on my clothes. They're pretty darn tough, not much kills them. Teeny little buggers too.

Yes, 3,100lbs of corn give or take a pound or 2. The average crop yield for the area this year was 138 bushels and acre so I didn't do real well compared to that. BUT, they all planted hybrid and GMO, mine was all heirloom-open pollenated corn and I can legally use my crop for reseeding and they can't. They sprayed Round-Up for weed control and I did mine with a hoe. I also have a callous on my thumb from shelling! LOL I'm not complaining tho, I find it to be pretty relaxing to sit by the fire and shell corn into a bucket. I spend about an hour a day cranking that Diamant grinder tho. I feed all the animals plus myself with that corn.

Hubby spent part of the afternoon yesterday spreading compost/manure on my new garden plot. I spent the afternoon laying under a quilt on the couch. He staked out a spot for the new root cellar for me, I might change it slightly but he had it close to what I want. Good man! Now all I need is for spring to get here. Come on April!

Lots can happen between now and April tho, I see in the news that Iceland has fallen apart and Mexico is on the verge. Scary stuff.

For my Illinois readers, I'm hosting/posting over that the Illinois Preppers Network. I'll be sharing the skills I've learned over the years and gardening and other topics specific to Illinois, things of that nature. Come join me.

Kepp a watchful eye on your surroundings and keep prepping!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not so self sustained today

They'll all on their own today! Momma's trying to get the creepy crud. The 2 worst places for picking up bacterias and viruses are without a doubt- shopping carts and gas pumps! Of course, I did both yesterday and now my throat is scratchy and my sinuses are filling up and I've got that "every nerve ending on fire" feeling. I won't be cooking or baking anything today so if the family is hungry, they're going to have to fend for themselves. Which of course will mean that my kitchen will be destroyed, yay-rah.

Now for good news, we had 2 beautiful days of nice and sunny weather and today it's back below freezing! Still sunny out tho. Today hubby is spreading the compost pile out over my new garden spot to improve the clay soil we have here. This new spot will almost double the area I will be planting in spring. I keep thinking about spring but it's still so far off. I am resisting the urge to start seeds.

I did a bit of calculating on the corn I planted last year. I planted just under a 1/2 acre and ended up with 3,100lbs of shelled corn from it. Pretty good but I think I can do better. I'll be working that out over the next couple of weeks.

The prep storage is looking good still, even with us eating out of it every day. I bought a few more food grade buckets to put home made noodles in. I need to protect them from the weevels. Evil little bugs, they get in everything here. They can chew thru plastic and cardboard with ease. Let's see em chew thru the buckets!

I need to get after the butchering roos I have running around the farm. They are making the hens not lay eggs! Time for the cook pot boys! If I feel better tomorrow, it'll be chicken and dumpling day.

Okay, I'm off to the couch and a quilt, you guys keep prepping!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Soap Day Revisited

Back on January 10th, hubby and I made a batch of soap using whole, unskimmed cows milk. I wasn't very pleased with it and had my doubts about how it would finish out. It's not been near enough time for the curing but I couldn't wait. I tested the soap and it's cured enough to not burn the hide off me. The scent I used in it faded out nicely, you can smell it while you are using it but it does not noticed after your bath on your skin. It made nice, compact bubbles, rinsed clean and leaves your skin baby butt soft!

I'm pretty pleased with it overall now. It ended up a darker color than the batch normally produces but the milk did scald a bit during the process. I would have liked it to make more bubbles so an experiment into "super fatting" the batch next time is in order.

I'm counting this batch as a success. Keep on prepping!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy little sustainist farm

Funny how things work out, isn't it? More news in Yahoo finance, a whole list of companies predicted to fail in 2009. Funny, I don't shop at any of the stores slated to fail. Maybe I'm a hermit, or maybe I'm just a cheap person. I like to think I am frugal but that's just me. There's tons of things out there a person can spend money on that are in no way necessary to one's survival. I love diamonds just as much as the next girl but can you eat them? I sure won't miss any of the clothing stores filled with over priced junk my kids "just have to have" that don't make it thru 5 washes before they fall apart. Won't miss Starbucks either, there isn't one in my area and I grow my own coffee anyway!

Frugality is a way of life just like the survival mindset. Sure, I'll miss the big screen TV and all those great DVDs if and when the grid goes down but life will go on here just like it always does. We'll keep growing our food, butchering our animals and stay healthy and fed. We'll keep prepping for when there's no more necessities available and life will go on. Being willing to do without all the things you really don't need to survive is a good thing. It leaves you ready for when the rest of the world suddenly has to do without and does the "freakout" dance!

Keep preppin'!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's for dinner?

I was on the list, last on the list as a matter of fact, to get a couple lambs out of a trailer load. The 4-H kids had first dibs and I ended up with "Copper", a just about ready to butcher sheep. Not one to look a "gift sheep" in the mouth, I was thrilled to have him even if he wasn't what I had in mind. Now, I am a big advocate of the self sustained living ideal, I live it and so I preach it. I've never butchered a sheep before tho, it should be an interesting exercise. I'm going to let "Copper" calm down for a bit, get gentled a bit so when I do get set to butcher him, I won't have a freaked out carcass full of endorphins that make the meat rank.

Off to the barn........

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wheat flour and baking bread

Let's talk bread, self sustained living style. Flour is what we need to bake bread and the main grain for flour is wheat. Hard wheat, soft wheat, red or white, winter or spring. Even a cheap grain mill will give you flour you can use to bake bread. Growing wheat is pretty easy and you can get quite a bit from small growing areas.

Okay, we've got our wheat and it's ground up into a nice batch of flour. Now what? Now we get out our bread recipe. Measure carefully then mix your ingedients. Kneading your dough pulls the bread together and makes it so the dough can trap the bubbles that give the bread structure. It makes for a good texture and ensures your bread won't turn into the heavy, flavorless brick. Now for the rise time. This is when the yeast feeds on the starches in your wheat flour, releasing gases giving your bread it's lift. Let it double in size. Now, the punch down which is what remixes the yeast and allows it to find new "food". Gently press down on the dough and fold it over on itself. Form your loaf and set it for it's next rise before baking. When it's risen to what you want, bake that bread.
I personally like a pizza stone on the bottom rack of my oven. It holds heat more evenly than the oven does on it's own. Makes a better crust. I suggest removing your bread from the pan right away and cooling it on a wire rack. It allows the moisture to escape during cooling, preventing a soggy bottomed loaf.

I found a bread recipe over at the Hillbilly Housewife website I have linked on the sidebar, it is the basic beginners bread recipe and it works out extremely well with home ground flour.

Happy baking!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Self Sustaining-urban vs. rural

The idea of growing food for yourself is becoming more attractive to people by the day. Fear or common sense, it doesn't much matter anymore as long as the idea is followed thru. "Urban homesteading" is the latest fashion trend. What these people fail to realize is that growing a garden, learning canning techniques and actually doing those things isn't enough. Having a small pen full of chickens isn't enough. Eating wholesome, organic foods isn't enough. Only what you can hang onto is all that matters.

Self Sustaining, what's that mean then? Taking care of yourself, feeding yourself, doing for yourself. Everyone can do it with a little effort and applied know how. What makes country folks better at this than city folks? Country folks have the correct mindset already. Every day something goes wrong! We've learned to adapt and overcome, we live with frequent power outages and things that break down. We hunt, we farm, we raise livestock every day of our lives. City folks can learn that too is the argument I hear all the time now. Sure they can but what happens when the power goes out? There's a thousand of them all trying to get thru the same intersection in traffic all at once! People become rude, even violent when they can't buy their Latte... getting my point? So, here you are, the perfect "urban homesteader", you've mastered all the skills you need and your chickens are laying tons of eggs every day and the power grid goes down. All the sudden your neighbors start to panic... what do you think is going to happen to your garden and your chickens in that nice little box? Only what you can hang on to matters.

Will it be better in the country? I think it will, for a while anyway. I don't think it will take long for the hordes to find country gardens and country chickens to eat. With any luck, they'll be thinned out some before they get to me.

So, for the urban homesteader sheltering in place- keep your head on you shoulders and have a plan for alternative living arrangements. Find a small lot of junk land away from the concentration of people, fix it up and be prepared to get there. Me, I'll be right here......

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cooking without modern conveniences

Before anyone gets all excited, that is NOT my oven. I do have the complete plans for it and have more than half my blocks accumulated already. I got the plans free from FornoBravo's website. In the spring I will pour my concrete pad and get to work building it so I won't have to cook in the house and rely on electric or gas anymore.

I am pretty familiar with outdoor cooking, I almost never cook in the house during the spring/summer/fall. As long as it's not raining, I'm cooking outside with my cast iron. It's a skill I most strongly recommend everyone should learn. Hand in hand with cooking outdoors is the skill of starting a fire quickly without using starter fluids, etc. We all need to learn these skills just in case. With a little effort and patience, one can learn to easily control temperatures for specific cooking needs.

Along with the traditional bread oven, I will be building a wood fired grill/cook range. The design is solid in my mind and I have worked out a floor plan on paper for it that appears like it will work out well.

So, while we're all prepping( we ARE all prepping right?) consider how you'll cook all that food you've stocked up if the power fails. A ready to go outdoor cook pit is a good idea! Don't forget pots and pans, cast iron is the way to go. Not all indoor pots and pans will work well for wood fired cooking. Also remember your camp fire coffee pot!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Soap cutting day

The soap set for it's 24 hours and I went ahead and pulled it from the molds. The picture of the left is the extra soap I pour in the candy molds, the right is the soap I pour in the pvc pipe. The orange color faded out to more like what it normally looks like and the soap had a rich, silky feel to it when I cut it. I hope the high butterfat content did what I hoped it would. Now it needs to set for it's curing time. It still has a real strong "soap" smell even over the wildflower fragrance I added, another thing I'll just have to wait and see on.

this batch made the usual 40 bars of soap using the recipe I posted a few weeks ago.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Soap making adventure

Today I finally got a batch of soap done. Hubby helped me(touch of sarcasm). This is the first time I've ever used right from the cow, un skimmed milk. The milk scalded, but the rest of the process went the way it was supposed to more or less. I also added a 1/2 ounce of wildflower fragrance at the very end, it smells like store bought soap now, not what I was going for but it'll be okay. The soap will have to cure before I know if the scalding ruined it or not. It traced like it was supposed to, just looks a bit more orange than it should. Now I have to clean up the mess...

Everyday living

Remember back on Christmas day when I talked about my first calf experience? This is Winter and she is a healthy, sassy little thing! That's Emma with Winter, my neighbors youngest.

I helped with evening chores last night and we collected some milk for another cottage cheese batch. I also needed a little cream for a request for another "egg pie"! Hmmm, if it's called egg pie we like it! Go figure, LOL.

We're working on another batch of soap today, I'll take some pictures to share. I'm also going to make up a greek dish, I need my Gyros!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cooking with what you grow

I needed a distraction today so I went thru the kitchen with comfort food on my mind. I whipped this neat little dish up from things I have grown on the farm.

I guess for the lack of a better name, it's an egg pie. I just whipped up some pie crust dough, pressed it into a spring form pan(cheesecake pan) and then went to fixing the stuff. I used about a cup and a half of the cream I skimmed off the milk yesterday, 6 eggs from my chickens, some green onions growing in my window garden that I chopped real fine and cooked until clear in some home made butter, some ham from the hog I butchered(I pan fried it and chopped it up into teenie pieces) and shredded a couple handfuls of cheese off the block of home made cheddar. I poured the egg mix into the crust, set the oven on 350 and threw it in there for 50 minutes. It actually came out pretty good! It has a light, sweet taste to it.

I'd imagine you could probably put about anything you wanted into the mix and it would still come out good. A nice alternative to eating eggs and bacon/sausage with biscuits every day.

Everything in this dish with the exception of the shortening I used in the crust and the salt I added to the eggs was grown on the farm( milk came from neighbors farm). I think it's a keeper.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Planting ideas with others

It's a new year, right? Things will get better, right? Not necessarily... I can't help but be me. Everyone I know is used to me talking about feeding myself, gardening and how easy it is for them to feed themselves. Little by little, I'm winning over my neighbors. I'm taking the time to spend time with them and show them hands on how easy cooking with your own ingredients is and I've even helped build a few raised beds these last few weeks.

So, today I am celebrating my latest conversion to the ideal. I have finally convinced one of my neighbors to do like what I do. They are already partially prepared with a root cellar they have never used! I think the jars of "farmer stew" and the bread making lesson did it! The canned butter didn't hurt either ;) I'm anxious for spring now so I can get things growing here and help my neighbors get theirs going too.

My goal is to have half my neighbors producing at least part of their food by this year. Most are retired coal miners, some are farmers, all produce something but they sell it to others and don't use it for themselves! I've organized them into a trading co-op between each other but it needs to be more than that. I will keep working on teaching them to be more self sufficient for their futures.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Winter entertainment and serious growers

Here's what I've been entertained with the last few days. Tard and Pudge, the 2 severely malnourished and neglected cats on our farm. Tard couldn't seem to get out of the box he was playing in, he was really stuck. And Pudge thought the laundry I hadn't put away yet smelled pretty good.

I've spent the last few days looking over some new seed catalogs that came in the mail. I have several things picked out, all heirloom seeds of course. The seeds are all different than what I've always planted. I want to try a few different things before the seeds just aren't available anymore. If they work out well, I'll save seeds like I do with my regular plants and I'll have a better variety for my gardens. Maybe the economy will bounce right back, maybe it won't, I want to be prepared and not say later on when it's too late "I wish I'd tried that when I could have".

We're having a bit of freezing rain today so no serious work outside, just tend the animals and back in the house. I need to spread some of my compost pile out over the garden area in the near future. I'm also planning on expanding my growing area. I visited a website that kind of shamed me and thrilled me all at once. Path To Freedom, I've added a link to their site here on the blog, everybody should check it out. These fine folks have taken a very small space and produced 6,000lbs of food on it last year! The pictures are awesome! It showed me that I waste way too much space growing what I eat here. It also proved to me that I am on the right track with what I'm doing. They produce twice what I do in less than half the space I have for gardens. Needless to say, I'm reworking my gardening plans and ideas! An excellent site with a blog type journal and an interactive companion gardeners site.

I am so excited about spring now!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Year end reflections

New Years day is always bittersweet for me. I'm always excited about the new year along with another spring and summer(my favorite months). I like snow but I like in small amounts and I always want it to go away. I also spend New Years day reflecting on my previous year. I think about my successes and my failures and start devising my big plans to improve on both.

New Years Resolutions, I don't waste thought on them. A resolution by definition is a course of action determined or decided on. Since I'm already where I want to be(rural farmland) and I'm already feeding myself and my family, all I have left is to improve small aspects of my living area and hope my end results make life easier for me. So, no big declarations for me, I'm a happy clam right now and satisfied to just take life as it comes to me. Adapt and overcome.

I extend the seasons greetings to all, Happy New Year! I truly hope that 2009 will be full of peace and prosperity for all of us.