Have You Trained Your Kids To Work? What Will They Do When A SHTF Happens?

Kids are natural helpers. Especially when they are younger and they want to “help” with everything. Many parents take advantage of that help and let the kids help them. That is the start of training your kids to be good helpers and workers around the house and the yard.

Doing chores and being expected to help inside and outside the house helps develop skills. Kids become contributing members of the household which helps lighten the load for the parents. Kids who are expected to help and do chores learn a better work ethic and become valuable members of the workforce and society after they leave home. They also learn responsibility and manage their home and work lives better.

However, there are parents who believe “that kids should be kids”. They have no chores, no responsibilities beyond school, and no expectations besides getting good grades and being a good person. They are coddled and spoiled. They do not learn responsibility beyond school. They do not learn skills or accountability. The parents do everything for them.

What is going to happen to those households when the SHTF happens?

They are going to self-implode. The parents will be doing everything they can to survive and their dependent children will not know what to do. Instead of pitching in and helping to clean the mess or secure food and water, they will want to know why they can’t eat right now! Instead of working to make the situation better or at least tolerable, they will be in a tizzy because their cellphones and smart devices are not entertaining them!

We would all like to believe that kids will naturally just step in and help because the need has arose. We would like to believe that they will just instinctively know that they are needed and will rise to the occasion. Some kids will do this, I am sure. However, in this day and age, I do not believe that most will do anything. That would be work and they know nothing of work.

We are seeing a rise in an entitled, selfish culture that is being fostered by parents who believe that their precious darlings should have and do whatever they want. They are overly involved at school, not involved at all, or they are considered special because they are really smart. They go to college and think they are special because they are enlightened with their college education. They get degrees in areas that will not really transfer into a career that will actually support them. And, for some reason, they get some really crazy ideas about life while they are in college.

Can you imagine what will happen when a SHTF happens to them?

I am not saying all kids and young adults are like this, but I am seeing a really disturbing trend. This trend that says this kids do not know any life skills, were taught very little responsibility, and would not survive at all when a SHTF happens. They will expect and demand that someone else takes care of them and this situation. They will be crazy when they find out no help may be coming.

That is why kids need to be trained to work. This training starts early when they want to “help”. You are teaching them early that their help is a valuable contribution to the household. When they get a little older, daily and weekly chores teaches them responsibility and accountability. When they are preteens, they should be expected to help whenever asked in addition to their regular chores. By the time they are teenagers, they know what needs to be done inside and outside the home.

You are teaching your kids to work. You are teaching them to be valuable, contributing members of the family. Kids are not perfect. They may need reminders and lists about what needs to be done. You will have to teach them what to do and how to do it. There is always going to be a right way and a wrong way to do things. You will have to teach them safety. You will have to teach them the skills they need to know like cooking, gardening, keeping a home, and taking care of animals.

However, when a SHTF happens, the kids will know that they are expected to help you. They may not know exactly what to do, but they know to listen to you and to take your direction. When you ask them to grab a broom or shovel to clean up the mess, they will do it. When you tell them to cook supper, they will do it.

Should kids still have fun? You bet, but you are teaching them that life is about getting the necessary things done so they can have fun. Parents should not be shouldering the burden by themselves. Kids need to learn that they are living under the roof provided by the parents and can help to take care of the house. Sometimes they will argue and whine, but you as parents need to be firm, insist on the chore being done right, and not to be afraid to give consequences if not done.

You are raising adults. They may be kids now, but they will be adults that the rest of the world will have to deal with later. Just like they need to be trained to work now, they will be ready to work later as an adult because they know that is expected of them. So whether they are living at home or on their own, when a SHTF hits, they will be ready to help in anyway they can and they can take care of themselves.

Free Topo Maps by National Geographics

National Geographic has built an easy to use web interface that allows anyone to quickly find any 7.5 minute topo in the continental U.S.A. for downloading and printing. Each topo has been pre-processed to print on a standard home, letter size printer. These are the same topos that were printed by USGS for decades on giant bus-sized presses but are now available in multi-page PDFs that can be printed just about anywhere. They are pre-packaged using the standard 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 base but with some twists:

 

  • Page 1 is an overview map showing the topo in context
  • Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS topo cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
  • Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topo

http://www.natgeomaps.com/trail-maps/pdf-quads

How to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource. It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.

Eggs come from happy and healthy chickens, so a few tweaks here and there in your program can improve egg yields immensely. In an emergency situation it may be already too late to solve the problem, so here are the top tips and tried methods for getting your chickens to lay more eggs for a bountiful future.

Remember They Are Birds

The first thing to remember is that they are living creatures with their own hierarchy and social order, literally a “pecking order.” Although they have been domesticated ever since someone discovered how tasty they were, along with their ability to be good little producers of versatile daily nuggets high in protein, the most important thing to keep in mind is that chickens still retain their wild bird instincts.

These instincts include foraging, pretending to fly, the desire to roam and scratch for their food, and the mental need to hunt their food. If you do not have the luxury of a large area for roaming, you can still build a nice comfortable coop that suits their everyday needs while providing a good diet. Meeting these needs will be rewarded with the nice steady production of quality eggs.

Put the Egg First

Before we start adding things that go into the chicken, let’s talk about output, the egg. The egg is an amazing little structure. A porous shell offers external protection, this shell mainly consists of calcium carbonate with an invisible barrier made of protein. This protective protein barrier is called the cuticle and it acts as a shield to prevent contamination from bacteria. The nutrient dense yolk is suspended in a liquid composed of protein and water called the albumen that acts as a shock absorber and cushion.

A chicken egg provides 6-7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. To achieve the highest nutritional output in an egg, it’s important a laying hen is provided a well-balanced diet that is nutrient rich with a diverse diet and fresh, clean water daily.

Top Reasons Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

If you have already had your chickens stop producing, don’t worry it’s fixable with just a few simple modifications!

To understand how to get your chickens to lay more eggs, we need a quick overview of the main reasons chickens stop laying eggs.

Temperature

Having chickens on the ground where it’s drafty or damp, or if they are housed in a poorly sealed coop will affect your egg production as chickens do not fare well in anything but a warm, dry environment.

Light

Chickens lay eggs as a means to reproduce. In winter when a chick has the odds against him for survival, the chicken’s body goes into shut down mode by way of its endocrine system. The endocrine system is signaled to slow production when the daylight hours get shorter.

Molt

About once a year chickens molt and that process can last 3-6 weeks. Having several ages can help negate any lags in production.

Protein needs

When the temperature turns cooler the chickens need more protein to burn as calories. If this higher calorie need goes unmet, the chicken’s body produces fewer eggs to save on expenditure.

Stress

Being prey to most animals makes a chicken nervous about anything it can’t control. Loud noises, excessive noise in its surroundings, or the scent of strange animals can almost guarantee the chicken will stop production.

The Best Ways to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

We have covered the basics in chicken husbandry and what things can affect egg production. So now for the good news! A productive flock is as important to hobbyists as well as the off the grid lifestylists. Some people keep chickens as pets of course, but for those that are primarily raising a flock for the nutrition packed eggs production can be increased with some simple finessing and system tweaks.

Here are some of the best ways to get your chicken to lay more eggs, or how to get more bang for your “cluck”!

Basic Nutrition

No matter how happy or stress free your hen is, you must provide the basic requirements in her feed in order to have your hens lay. Good quality feed supplemented with oyster shells (or leftover egg shells) need to be available for her to peck at. Clean water is a must and should be readily available 24 hours a day.

How to Feed a Balanced Diet to a Laying Hen

Supplements

Oyster shell is the most common supplement for chickens, especially laying hens as the calcium provided by the shell is needed to make a healthy and strong egg. Many, as we do, use a portion of their leftover egg shells to add to the oyster shells. Without calcium supplements, the laying hen will pull it from her bones and it is similar to osteoporosis.

Kiss my grits

Good food and quality supplements are only half the battle, you need grit and oyster shell to supply the best possible foods for your chickens so you can get the best quality eggs. When chickens roamed free they consumed small pieces of stone and gravel as they foraged naturally, this also can happen when they free-range. Chickens in an enclosure need that grit to be supplied to them as it acts as their “teeth” by grinding food in their gizzard. Without this grit, food cannot be broken down or absorbed properly.

No junk food

Much like with humans, low nutritional value foods that are high in carbs are a no-no for your chicken. Breads, white pasta, potatoes, dairy and white rice are not good for your laying hen. Of course, the comfort foods we love are dangerous for your feathered friends. No salty, sweet, or fried foods and especially no alcohol!

This is a list of foods that can be toxic for your flock:

  • No spinach
  • No asparagus
  • No citrus
  • No onions
  • No raw beans that have been dried
  • No apple seeds
  • No eggplant
  • No avocado

Health conscious chicken treats

There are many things you CAN feed your chicken to promote more eggs and give them a healthy boost.

  • Oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pumpkin
  • Melons
  • Sweet corn
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Cucumbers
  • All grain pancakes
  • Mealworms

Hot tip: spicy. I had many people tell me that adding some red or green peppers boosted vitamin C and the chickens loved them.

Shed Light on the Subject

A hen needs 12-15 hours of light a day to provide the best production numbers in eggs. Installing a light can help keep the production even during winter, or on cool nights. Lights infused with red can prevent cannibalism and keep the coop soothed and calm.Most chickens lay their eggs by 10 am, so after egg collection it’s time for your hens to go out and get some fresh air and light.

Build a Proper Coop with These Tips

There is no one specific design that is best for a chicken coop. But there are a few basics to consider when making a coop.

Personal space

Allow 2-3 square feet of space per laying hen and it is easier to build out later on if your flock increases in size.

Flooring

Dirt is not a deterrent to predators as they can easily dig under the edges. Wood can rot and house parasites. Concrete is expensive and can crack over time. The most current materials used for chicken coop flooring are vinyl over plywood. Plywood also can be easily replaced as needed.

Roosts

Each hen should have at least 8 inches of roost space.  The most common way is to use a 2×4’ with the wider side facing upwards for the roosting bar. This protects those delicate feet in winter from biting cold and frostbite.

Make nest boxes a priority

A good way to make egg collecting easy is to use nesting boxes. A nesting box also protects the egg and helps keep it clean. One rule of thumb is to have one nesting box for every 3-4 birds, and install them about 2 feet off the floor. A layer of soft litter like wood shavings or hay can provide cushion for the egg while absorbing droppings.

Coop ventilation

Year round air ventilation is a must for a healthy coop. A good measure of thumb is 1/5th of your wall space should be vented. We used hardware cloth to cover the vents to keep off the little varmints and creepy crawlies. Be sure to use washers and screws to secure it down and check it regularly for any rips or holes.

Keep a Clean Coop

No matter what system you employ, the main thing is to provide a nice place to live, avoid overcrowding your chickens, and keep them in a clean and dry environment. A regular schedule of laying fresh litter in their houses and removing droppings will help the hens from tracking feces and dirt into nesting boxes and the eggs within. Hens flourish in hygienic conditions and it is advisable to have a quarantine period for any new stock before they are introduced into the flock.

Disinfection

There is a lot of controversy on this. Many swear by bleach, but I do not like it around my animals or eating stock. After some trial and error, I use vinegar to disinfect my chicken coop and lots of elbow grease. I like to disinfect at least every few months by cleaning out everything and then giving it a good hosing. A liberal spray down with vinegar is next and then time drying in the sunlight, which also helps kill bacteria. I soak any bowls or feeding dishes in it, then leave them to dry in the sun also.

If you have your chickens on a dirt floor, you may want to use hay over barn lime to keep things dry and hay is dust free, unlike straw. It does need to be changed every week, but it can be added to the compost.

For smaller flocks, use a tarp. You can lay it out and then cover it in hay. It is easy clean up, as when cleaning time rolls around just fold that sucker up and drag it to the compost pile. Disinfect with vinegar before adding more hay and rebedding.

Rodent Control 101

Rodents can be devastating to a coop and any community they move too. Unfortunately chicken coops are a magnet for mice and rats. The main timeframe is the harvest in fall. Its then that rats will try to invade as their main food supply source is depleted. Colonies of mice will spring up by buildings and they tend to stay inside.

The biggest indicator that you have a problem is droppings. A rat has 40 droppings daily versus a mouse’s 80! This contaminates feed and exposes you, your livestock and your flock to diseases which can include salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and brucellosis.

Rodents are also responsible for more than 25% of all farm fires classified as “unknown origin.” These nocturnal dwellers can easily be underestimated, and can wreak havoc on your flock. They are predators and will seek out chicks. Rat infestations can consume hundreds of chicks a day.

The best steps to take to eliminate a rodent infestation around your chickens can be summed up in these 5 methods.

Tidy the coop

Deter the vermin by taking away all places they could set up shelter. Brush, woodpiles, or scrap piles should be well away from your coop.

Lock the feed up tight

Metal trash cans or drums are the best at deterring the little disease carriers, make sure the lid locks tight.

Build a wall or barrier

A mouse can squeeze into openings the size of your little finger, so sheet metal is the best bet to line your coop. Make sure your doors are in good repair with no entry points.

Trapping the pests

Physically removing the rats and mice is the best remedy. Place traps around the perimeter. Colony traps that hold many mice at once may be a good option.

Rodenticides

A last resort of course, and rodents can become immune, so switching it up is needed. Keep it away from other livestock and only in extreme circumstances do I use this. But if it’s between my flock and the mice, I do what I have to.

Thoughts on Confinement Vs. Free Range

Confinement and free-range options for keeping your flock have their advantages and disadvantages. Birds that can free-range will have more room and more opportunity to fulfill their need to be “free” to forage and hunt. But risks are abundant with threats by disease and predators. Being able to identify and find eggs quickly, as well eliminate problems in a timely manner is a plus to being in an enclosed environment.

Access to the Outdoors can help provide variety in their diet as well as plenty of time to take sunbathing and dust bathing seriously. But to me it’s not worth the risk to have them outside and unprotected 24 hours a day so we use a chicken tractor in summer and poultry netting in spring.

What Is a Chicken Tractor?

A chicken tractor is an attachable mobile coop with a trailer hitch that can be moved around so the chickens can have fresh grass and foraging area. It helps spread their fertilizer around the fields as well as keep bugs down as they have fun “exploring” their new surroundings. A happy, healthy hen is your most productive hen.

Exercise

Hens with more belly fat are impeded when it comes to producing eggs, so basic exercise is a must for physiological and mental health. Letting them scratch for their food gives them an activity that boosts base metabolic rates and keeps them warm and limber in winter. Throwing the girls leftover veggie table scraps or fresh cut grass and weeds straight from the garden will keep them happy little ladies.

Cabbage heads (the ends) and older lettuce pieces are fun to peck and I use the compost provided as they turn their food into the dirt and manure for my melon and survival gardens. Other ways to boost compost value would be to add corn cobs, carrot greens, melon rinds, kale, corn silks, or any other veggie leavin’s you may have. My girls love the after dinner treats and are lined up at the chicken yard’s gate waiting for them every evening!

Give Them Things to Do

Nothing is as fun to watch or as sweet as observing hens taking a dirt bath. Chickens like being clean and dirt baths are a way to do this and they promote healthy feathers by whisking away oils, sweat and parasites. If you do not offer a dirt bath, most flock owners come to find their chickens in the flower garden or in the crops.

A few sources claim wood ash is good for a bath or diatomaceous earth, but I believe if I need a mask to be around it then it will get into my flock’s lungs also. I much prefer building my own dirt bath with a simple container that’s 24 x24” and at least a foot deep, or dig a hole and fill it. I use sand and dirt. This type of bath promotes sweet smelling ladies that are lice free, and it’s chemical free so you can’t beat that.

Stress Reduction

Stress is one of the top reasons why chickens stop egg production. A big stressor is also the cold on the body, as well as parasites irritating your chickens. Irritants such as pets, children, and loud music can affect production also. Chickens need a quiet, safe area to relax and claim as their own.

When bringing in new chickens, keep in mind that is a big stressor and production may stop for a few days to weeks as they adjust to their new surroundings. This is normal and soon they will pick back up where they left off when the transition is over.

Do you need a rooster to get your chicken to lay more eggs?

A rooster adds commotion and not much value to your flock unless you plan on raising hatchlings. For egg production, a rooster can make things worse. Plus half of your hatchlings will be roosters so be prepared to find new homes or cull the male chicks.

Culling for Optimum Production

Many people do not like the thought of culling their flock. For optimum production taking out the older laying hens and replacing them with young pullets not only keeps a chicken rotation going, but will release the need for the care of the older hens into retirement.

It is much more humane to find a loving home if you are attached. In situations where every resource has to not only produce, but be a functional part of a homesteaders life, it is better to butcher the older hens than let feed than can go to younger ones in their prime laying years be wasted on them. Soup stocks and frozen meat can last quite a while.

Final Thoughts

Life with chickens is a rewarding experience in any homesteader or food self-sufficient lifestylists program as there are so many ways chickens can help in a garden and around the homestead.

Integrating a chicken flock can benefit a homestead with a constant supply of nutritional eggs, quality compost, and meat when needed. Starting a flock is inexpensive and with just a few tips and tricks you can have those chickens laying more eggs and start to stockpile your bounty. In the old days, every yard had a few chickens pecking around as the eggs were a means of survival. Now it is becoming more and more popular to raise your chickens as the nutritional value and taste of fresh eggs are so much better than anything you can buy in a store.

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Best Bow Hunting Tips

In order to be a great bow hunter, you’ll have to go through years of training and experience. It’s just like playing a musical instrument; at first, you don’t know what you’re doing, but with a lot of practice and determination, you’ll find yourself playing sonatas. It’s just the same with archery and bow hunting, but sometimes, you can’t improve by yourself. Thus, I’ve put together this article on bow hunting tips for all beginner hunters. Enjoy!

Weigh between speed and accuracy

Sometimes, you have to choose between the two. And as a beginner bow hunter, you’re bound to have trouble accomplishing a shot with both. Personally, I recommend practicing accuracy first. You’ll need to be more experienced with hitting a target dead on that hitting it at a fast rate.

On the other hand, speed is something that comes naturally (at least for me). I’d say speed will come when accuracy is improved. In other words, once you start hitting those bulls-eyes dead on, your speed is bound to improve as your confidence increases as well. Vice versa, speed will help your accuracy, as faster arrows bound to fly straight at the target.

For beginners, it’s important to master both. But not necessarily at the same time. When you’re out hunting, however, accuracy is more important, but speed weighs in a good amount, as well.

Pick a bow and stick with it

When it comes to archery and bow hunting, mastering your weapon is the best way towards experience. Choosing the right bow is a little bit of trial and error, so I don’t blame you for switching between bows. However, keep this in mind: the right bow will just feel right in your hands, and you’ll know when you have it. Under this, we consider weight of the bow, style, design, length, and these factors relative to your own dimensions and preferences.

If you do, however, find a bow that you can stick with, I highly suggest that you do so. Mastering your weapon will make your bow more of an invaluable friend than a hunting tool, and shooting an arrow will feel like a second instinct.

Generally, the more you master your bow and practice with it, I’d say that your accuracy and precision will improve as well. This is especially important if your target is to go bow hunting soon.

Work tirelessly on your form

The better the form, the higher the accuracy, speed, and precision of your shots. Find and practice the right form, with the proper stance, torso position, and grip relative to the target.

On this matter, I recommend asking an experienced bow hunter or bow hunting expert to assess your form. Ask for an evaluation afterward, which you can use to point out the things you need to do right/better. It also helps to watch Youtube videos wherein you can see bow hunters demonstrating a proper form.

Tip: practice in front of a mirror and compare your stance, torso position, and grip to a standard.

Practice in different settings

Actual bow hunting entails practice shooting in different situations and settings. For instance, you need to know how to keep your bow straight on a windy day, as much as you need to know how to shoot in low light.

It’s best if you practice when the weather is not that good, maybe a little windy. That way, you get to practice your aim in the wind. Another example is practicing near sunset, which will allow you to train with your bow sight in low light settings.

The trick here is to set yourself in a little diversity. After all, you never know what you’re going to expect in the wilderness.

Study, study, study

Reading goes a long way. When you’re a beginner bow hunter, it immensely helps if you read on your niche. Deer hunting tips, bow sight usage, accuracy and precision tips—all of these stored in your mind can help you apply them on the field and in practice.

Also, I emphasize the importance on reading about survival tips. These are the bits of information that you need stored at the back of your head at all times, especially in risky hunting situations and seasons.

Invest in high-quality equipment

When I was a beginner hunter, I wore all the wrong things and hated myself while freezing on the field. So, take it from me and choose the right equipment and clothing to take with you on your hunting trips.

My major recommendation is to splurge a bit—on your first pair of hunting boots or hunting knife, for example, because these are practical investments. When you choose the right products, you will get the quality that you paid for.

Choosing the right equipment also goes for hunting backpacks, kits, knives, clothes, and other gear that you take on a hunting trip. As a beginner, you tend to be not used to the wilderness and discomfort can come creeping up on you unexpectedly. So, choosing the right type of equipment can get you a long way.

Practice being stealthy

When you’re a bow hunter, you have the advantage of silence unlike gun users. When hunting skittish animals like deer, most especially, it helps a great deal if you know how to carry yourself, stalk, and shoot the target in a stealthy mode altogether.

For beginners, it may be a little hard controlling your footsteps and movement in order to make the noise as minimal as possible. It’s also a bit challenging to master the way on how to carry yourself and stalk your prey effectively. However, this skill can be learned just like any other.

The key is to practice in the field. You may not succeed on the first tries, but experience is the best teacher when it comes to stealth. Just make sure to take note of your mistakes and think of ways on how you can improve them afterward.

Under stealth, you also need to learn how to be unseen. This includes masking your scent against the sensitive noses of deer and bears, as well as wearing the right color of clothing. On this matter, you can read up on tips on how to do that and apply it the next time you go buck or bear hunting.

Conclusion:

We all start somewhere, and in bow hunting, it takes more than just a little bit of practice to master your weapon and shred in the field. This article is meant to open you up to the basics of bow hunting, which are useful if you want to learn fast in this area. To conclude, I give you this quick rundown of our tips to remember:

  • Practice both your accuracy and your speed, with accuracy as your priority. Speed will follow soon after
  • Stick with one weapon if it feels right, then master it
  • Work on your form tirelessly
  • Practice shooting in different situations and settings (e.g. low light, windy, high up on a tree stand)
  • Study on the field of bow hunting to find all the best tips and basic information you need to know
  • Invest in high-quality weapons and equipment
  • Acquire and practice the skill of stealth

Sit and Think is Your First Preparedness Task

Cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week?

You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded.

Can you skin a buck, run a trapline, drop a tree with a chainsaw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them?

How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a year’s supply of wood?

Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crochet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes?

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year.

What about yeast infections? I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

These are some thing you must consider. Walk your land, think about every tree you have, how much open space you have, how much water, wildlife, and shelter you have. A plan cannot be made until one knows what he needs!

Saving Seeds will Save and Make You Money

Having a garden is great, whether you are having plants that bear flowers or the ones the cultivate fruits. Have you ever wonder, as you water tomatoes, how good it is if you can multiply them more and make a profit out of it? Well, guess what, saving seeds can actually do that for you.

But wait, there’s more! If you save your seeds, you do not only increase your chances of making more money, it can also help you save! If you know how to do the process correctly, you will no longer need to shell out money to purchase seeds for the next season.

That is why I decided to create this piece of writing because it is also dedicated to other gardeners, even if they are not after selling their crops.

Let’s cut the long wait and start discussing how you can make the most out of the seeds from your garden (or kitchen, if you are planning to start growing one).​

This article will

  • Tell you the difference between annual, biennial and perennial plants
  • Discuss what pollination is
  • Inform you about the importance of saving seeds
  • Teach you about the lifespan of a seed
  • Give you the materials you will need when you are planning to save seeds
  • Explain the process of saving your seeds: harvest, clean, and store
  • Share with you expert tips and tricks
  • Let you know the difference between hybrids and pure breeds
  • Answer frequently asked questions

#1. All about seeds

What are seeds?​

What are seed

Annual, Biennial and Perennial

Prior to discussing seeds themselves, let us be aware of the different kinds of plants. There are three kinds of them and let me show the difference one by one.

There are plants that produce seeds and develop them fully within 12 months; they are called annual plants. They complete their cycle within 1 year. Coin the term with annual which means year and you will remind yourself about this easily.

Others wait until the next year before flowering. For example, you have to expect your carrot or beet to flower and mature seeds next year even if you harvested them this summer. These types of plants are referred to as biennial plants. “Two years” will be your keyword with this type of plant.

These biennial plants are strong enough to survive cold seasons; you just have to help them. Your role, however, may vary from one location to the other. In some areas, layering leaves or hay on top of the soil is enough, on the other hand, some plants needed to be transferred to a warmer ground and you have to return them to their places when spring comes.

There is a type of plant which can bear and mature seeds continuously every year, the perennials. You might notice them hibernating during winter but they will surely grow back from the same root in the spring.

Pollination

Just like humans, plants can come from a pure ethnic group or they could carry a mix of different races. Plants can pollinate in three ways: from two types of plants, through the help of wind or insects, or by themselves.

If the plant reproduces from the first two processes, it is called cross-pollination. On the other hand, there are plants that have both male and female parts. In return, they would be able to successfully pollinate within. This is what we call self-pollination.

Plants which can self-pollinate can remain pure even without isolating them from other species but if you want to be sure, feel free to do so.

Examples of self-pollinating plants would be beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes. Beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, leeks, onions, pumpkins, quinoa, and spinach are the examples of cross-pollinating plants.

Importance of saving seeds

Some of the people I know who started saving seeds did it for one reason: they wanted to save money. Although it is not much, since tomato seeds would cost as low as $2, they would need to spend more for the specific type they wanted. On top of that, they would even have to travel far and exert effort to find it.

Did you know that decades ago, farmers and gardeners do not really purchase seeds from the market? They simply save seeds and produce a good number of vegetable varieties from it. Every gardener knows how to do it before. And every one of them can successfully come up with a produce that is acclimatized to the type of land and kind of weather in their area.​

The rise of technology and modern agricultural processes may have made everything easier; conversely, they have reduced crop diversity drastically. It is not surprising to hear older people looking for fruits or vegetables with a specific description and even the biggest supermarket in town cannot provide it.

Since we are only left with few kinds of vegetables nationwide, the seeds that we can buy from the market have the tendency to be unsuitable to the kind of land in our locality. It is possible also that it could not survive our climate, and worse, it becomes susceptible to diseases and pests – things the farmers from the previous generation do not really consider a problem.

Saving seeds do not only save money, it also saves effort and time. When you have saved seeds, they are already prepared for development. This means all you have to do is to transfer your seed heads to one bed and rotate as needed.

Extinction is another concern for most gardeners that is why seed saving is highly encouraged. The crops we used to enjoy with our grandparents are starting to become wiped out. The culture that is attached to these kinds of flowers or fruits will be affected sooner or later. We may be able to create that traditional dish we have been serving for decades, but the taste will already be altered.

The problem with extinction is that it is not only the classification we should be worried about. Without people who save seeds of certain plants, our grandchildren might not be able to enjoy their presence anymore. Ever imagined them asking “What is an eggplant granny?”? How hard could it possibly be if they do not even know what a ‘plant’ is?

Without seeds, we will be having problems with food security too. With seeds, we no longer have to eat genetically modified produces. These types are often reported to be causing obesity and allergic reactions and are even sometimes classified as carcinogenic products. Grow your plants at home and you free yourselves and your families from crops that are exposed to chemicals. For more ideas, visit our friend at Be Self Sufficient.

If you are still not convinced about the importance of saving seeds, try watching the movie Lorax and see how the future generation wished to see a living tree and how they tried to guard one seed with their life.

#2. Saving Seeds 101

Beginners Guide

If you are already growing fruits and flowers, seeds then can be found all over your garden!

First-timers can start with self-pollinating plants such as beans peas, peppers and tomatoes. I will be guiding you how to identify healthy seeds later on.

For gardeners with advanced skills on seed saving, you can now try other crops such as cucumbers, gourds, melons, and pumpkins. You have to be aware however that there is a high chance that the products may not have the exact characteristics from the parent plants.​

Lifespan of a Seed

The survival of seeds differs from one species to another. Some seeds are naturally long-living and others are not.

The secret for their longevity depends on how carefully you followed the saving process. If the seeds are properly stored, they can stay ‘plant-able’ for three to four years. It is, however, best to plant and sow them according to their cycle.

Some farmers prefer older seeds for selected plants as they believe that they will produce more fruit by that time.

Things that can spoil your saved seeds:

  • Moisture
  • Heat
  • Light

Coarse Approximations

Parsnips can live up to 2 years. Seeds that can live up to 3 years include beetroot, chard and leaf beet, carrots, onions, leeks, spring, and parsley. Courgettes and squashes are viable for 4 years. Beans, lettuces, peas, peppers, and aubergines can last for 5 years. You can save tomato seeds until they’re 8 years old and cucumbers and melons until they’re 10.

What are the things you need to prepare when you plan to save seeds?

Labeling materials will be needed such as markers and optional stickers. This will be used when you warn yourself and others not to pick a particular fruit on your plant or tree. Another case in which you will need this is when you store multiple kinds of seeds. Labeling will help you identify them easier.

Harvesting materials would include pruners to cut off the stem of the fruit from the plant, a knife for cutting the fruit in half to expose the seeds, and lastly, spoon to scoop out the seeds.​

Cleaning materials will be needed after you harvest your seeds. Depending on your practice, culture, and the type of fruit, the resources may vary. The universal thing you will need is, of course, water.​

Others make use of metal sieve to separate the seed from the flesh. Supplementary practices might need glass jar and spoon, wherein they would put the seeds in water, stir it several times to separate it from other fruit parts. I recommend the latter technique for soft and tiny seeds.​

Storing materials are crucial in saving seeds. To separate multiple kinds of seeds, you may use a paper envelope or packets and Ziploc plastics. You have to prepare air-tight containers as well to prevent moisture from accumulating on your samples.​

Selecting and Harvesting Healthy Seeds

Hybrids are not advisable for beginners, instead, go for open-pollinated varieties or the ‘heirloom’ types. These are the ones that have been passed down from generations to generations.

The secret in producing the best fruits lies on the parent seed. Select only the best tasting ones to save.

For runner bean seeds, the healthy ripe ones can be expected from the bottom of the plant. Just like tomatoes, we have to leave them so that they can mature fully. Wait until you see swelling in its pods, and as it changes its color to yellow then brown.

For lettuces, seed heads must be dried for two to three weeks after flowering. The tricky part in harvesting lettuce seeds is that they don’t mature all at once, therefore, you cannot get many seeds in a single harvest. They will be ready when you see half the flowers have gone to seed.

For peppers, wait until they turn red and become wrinkled.

For tomatoes, you can acquire the seeds from the moment they get ripe. However, you might want to leave it on the plant until it gets overly ripe. They will appear to be wrinkled, dark red, and extra juicy. The aim here is to let the seed mature as much as possible.​

Cleaning and Processing​

When processing bean seeds, you can open the pods by hand. If you have a lot of seeds, you can whirl them. If you have huge chaffs, use a fork to separate. The remaining particles should be sorted through.

To prepare your lettuce for cleaning, shake off seeds every day from flowering heads one at a time. You can remove the remaining seeds through manual rubbing. Sift the seeds and chaffs using screens.

Peppers can be processed in two different ways. If you just have a small amount of pepper seeds, it is advisable for you to use the dry method. Remove the lowermost part of the fruit; the seeds in the central cone should be stripped carefully afterwards.

Large amounts of peppers need to be processed during the wet method. Cut off the peppers, this time, on the topmost part. Using a blender put water and add the peppers. Blend slowly until the seeds would sink on the bottom part.​

Slice tomatoes lengthwise and gradually squeeze to extract the middle cavity. This would be the seeds and the surrounding jelly. Place the extract in a glass jar, pour a small amount of water and let it sit for three days.

Ensure that you place the container in a warm area, and you stir it once every 24 hours. After a few days, the water will contain a fungus that eats the jelly components of the mixture. Because of this, germination is then prevented. Another benefit of the presence of the fungus is that it creates anti-bacterial substances that can combat diseases as manifested by bacterial cankers and specks. Let it sit.

Pour warm water into the container after three days. This time, the contents will settle down. Once it fully settles, pour the water out. Repeat until the seeds are rinsed fully.

Aside from the seeds of tomatoes, the flesh can be saved as well if this is properly done.​

Cleaning Techniques

  • BLENDING
  • HAND CLEANING
  • TARPING
  • THRESHING

This was exemplified in our discussion with tomato preparation. Blend water with fruit and the debris and bad seeds will float as the viable seeds will settle at the bottom. Pour the contents leaving the seeds below. Rinse several times until the water being poured off is completely clean.

Storing Seeds

There are different ways on how to store a seed. You have to be primarily concerned about avoiding the seeds to get moist or else they can spoil easily. Check the material of your container and the construction of your lid and seal to be sure.​

The materials that are highly advisable would be glass and tri-laminate foil bag. The transparency of the glasses makes it a perfect choice as it will allow you to observe the seeds easily. However, since light can also damage your seeds, getting colored glasses are wise. Plastic containers can also be transparent; my concern is that the seeds can be exposed to the chemicals of the plastic, eventually affecting the quality of the seeds nonetheless.​

For long term storage, foils are the best choice. Ensure that the foil is tightly sealed. Closely monitor the temperature. A temperature heat sealer that has a jagged sealing bar is also desirable.

For seeds with sharp edges, placing them in a paper envelope might help. Alternatively, you may use vacuum sealed bags before placing them in glass containers.

Make sure you do not forget to put labels on them.

Write down the name, their species, and the date you collected them.

To help you choose the perfect container you might want to read: Selecting containers for long-term storage.Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.​

Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.

Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.​

#3. Saving Seeds: Expert Tips and Tricks

Planning

  • Get organized. Planning properly will help you save time, effort and money. Create a habit of recording so that you can identify the seeds you’ve saved, when you are supposed to sow it and its expiration date. It is also going to be helpful if you note down your observations when you get your produce from a particular seed. This will help you identify what needs to be adjusted or continued.
  • Once you are able to identify the fruit which you think has the highest quality of the batch, you have to label it. It is very important for you to label your target fruits as this will prevent accidental picking of the fruits by anyone.
  • If you wish to produce a pure-breed plant, save seeds from a number of individual plants; about 1 seed per plant is good.
  • Saving seeds from multiple harvests will maintain genetic diversity on your seed sample.
  • If you wish a particular characteristic (example: size, shape or color), get the seeds from the plant that has that a specific trait.
  • Want to know when the perfect time to harvest? When the fruits are starting to fall from the tree or plant, that’s your cue! Oh, I forgot, if there are no fruits, check the pods. You may start harvesting when the seeds rattle.

Saving Seeds

  • Problems with humidity on your container? Put some rice grains inside! It will absorb moisture. (You probably heard about putting your wet gadgets in rice box, or when you see rice grains in restaurant’s salt shaker, they all share the same rationale.)
  • To know the viability of seeds, get some of your samples, dampen it using a paper towel and place it loosely in a plastic bag. Allow it to sit for a few days ensuring that it is properly aerated and warmed. If there is a positive germination, then they are good to go.
  • When preparing peppers using the wet method, do not get the seeds that will float as those seeds are not fully matured yet, therefore, they are not good for saving
  • Drying may take time that is why patience is a virtue. Never speed this process up by cooking your seeds in the oven.
  • Check your sample from time to time. Freezing your seeds might help when you notice a presence of insects in your container. Three-day freezing is acceptable to get rid of them. Remove seeds that have white dots or holes.

Sowing

  • When you sow your seeds, lightly tamp the combination of soil, mix, and seeds in your container. This will ensure that there is a good contact between them. The effect of this tamping is that you will get an assurance that the nutrients will be relayed to the seeds.
  • Selecting your containers matter! Choose a container that is flat and wide. For starting seeds, clay pots are highly recommended. The wider the better, because this will prevent your seeds to overcrowd.
  • Decontaminate your containers before starting your seeds. You may soak your container in bleach (10% solution) for 15 to 30 minutes and dry before using.
  • Drainage and adequate air flow will prevent disease. Remember, bacteria and other pathogens thrive best in moist, dark and warm areas.
  • For practical gardeners like me, you may upcycle cardboard canisters and pill bottles for your storage needs. For starting seeds, feel free to use recycled plastic containers. Think about saving your next yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers for this purpose the next time you consume those.

#4. Hybrid or Pure Breed?

This has been a very controversial issue when it comes to seed saving. Technically, we discourage saving hybrid vegetable seeds to be saved as they will not be producing pure species by the time you harvest them.

Please be guided that the label F-1 does not necessarily mean ‘do not save’. You just have to be informed that this plant is from a successful cross-pollination of two pure lines because they wanted a specific characteristic to manifest. Hybrids are created naturally, however, if your plant is already from a hybrid seed, it is not wise to save your seeds because the generation that this plant will breed will be having low quality.

You might also encounter the word GMO seeds which, just like the hybrid seeds, are a combination of two or more varieties. Unlike cross-pollinated plants and seeds, on the other hand, genetically modified organisms are established in laboratories. If you read my statement slowly, I mentioned varieties, not ‘plant varieties’ to be specific because GE (genetically engineered) seeds are a combination of different biological kingdoms like bacteria and corn.

There are a huge number of researches that prove bad effects of genetically modified organisms on human health. Agriculturally, since GMO crops are still plants, they still have seeds which could be carried by insects and the wind. This may then cross-pollinate other produces. And we do not know how they might change the future generations of the affected plants.​

#5. Frequently Asked Questions

1.  How can I start to save the seeds in my garden?

Start to save seeds from crops that can be easily saved such as the ones we discussed above (beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes). Make sure that you have an adequate amount of plants. Take into consideration the fact that you need to have a good population size to get your sample. You may have to adjust the placement of your plants to produce plants which are not hybrid. Proper spacing is important to prevent cross pollination.With this, it is important to properly plan what kinds of seeds you are going to collect and the sowing strategies you have to implement.

2. What are GMO? Are they suitable for saving?

GMO is an abbreviation that stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. From the term itself, these are living organisms that were produced with scientific innervations. Genetically modified organisms have DNAs that are combined from two (sometimes even more) different species.

There is a huge debate on this matter as there are localities banning GMO products. The benefit, however, of altering breeds is that they create a new type in which the good traits of two strains can be combined to create a product that will manifest them both.

Cross-breeding is typically done for different reasons. Primarily, agriculturists would want to create a crop that can resist insect and disease better, are more adaptable to different kinds of soil and climate, are much more tolerant to heat or drought, can withstand pollution, and has a bigger nutritional value. Aside from the aforementioned reasons, breeding can minimize the impact on soil and off-farm, develop produce for populations with low resources, and are claimed to support whole-farm ecology.

In some states, production of genetically engineered seeds is prohibited. There are so many studies that prove the negative consequences of a genetically modified organism. Hence, I also do not support saving seeds from a GE plant.

3. What are organic produces?

Organic produces come from 100% organic seeds. Organic gardening ensures that the crop is void of any chemicals in any form such as fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Farmers who grow organic produces make use of all-natural fertilizers, manures, and compost.

Aside from being safe, organic gardening is highly encouraged because it is also easy and more affordable.

Unfortunately, there are so many genetically modified organisms today. To prevent your organic garden to be contaminated with GMOs, buy single-ingredient organic foods, grow your own heirloom or open-pollinated plants, and practice isolation techniques for your plants.

4. How can I grow plants from seeds?

It’s easy! You can do it in five steps: select, harvest, clean, dry and store. Select which fruit you would like to grow next season. Wait until the fruit is overly ripe but not rotten. Once it is ready, cut the fruit in two, and scoop the seeds. Cleaning can be done in different methods if you are saving tomato seeds, put the seeds and the gel around it to a bottle of water and stir occasionally for two days. Once the seeds are totally separated from the gel, you may take it out and dry it. Use towels, plate or glass for drying. Never use paper products as the fibers can stick on the seed. Dry your seeds for at least 2 weeks. You may plant the seeds to your garden beds or pots once they dry completely.

5. I do not have a garden but I am planning to start one. Where can I buy seeds?

House Plants That Heal

As the seasons change, we spend significantly less time outdoors, which means we are significantly more likely to experience poor air quality. Although we may not realize it as we go about our daily lives, indoor toxins can have a drastic impact on our health, potentially leading to Asthma, allergies, inflammation, and even cancer. Thankfully, there are natural ways to bring the benefits of the outdoors inside, in a cost effective way. Try these fantastic house plants for improved indoor health.

Jasmine: helps promote sleep quality

Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family that is commonly found outdoors, but can live indoors as well. It emits scents that have shown to make for better sleep, as well as increase your levels of alertness.

Lavender: reduce anxiety and stress

Lavender is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family and a commonly used essential oil. It not only smells wonderful, but can also reduce anxiety and stress, slow heart rate, improve your sleep, and calm restless babies.

Rosemary: improve your memory

Rosemary is also a member of the mint family. A perennial herb, native to the Mediterranean region. It has been proven to be effective at increasing your memory as well as the overall air quality in the room.

Aloe Vera: improve overall air quality

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species that has been commonly used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD. Use these plants for their superior ability to increase the overall quality of air with fresh oxygen.

Green ivy in flowerpot isolated on white background

English Ivy Plant: reduce mold count

English Ivy is a species of flowering plant native to Europe and Western Asia. This plant has been proven to reduce airborne mold by 94%, which can have a significant benefit for those who suffer from allergies or lung irritation.

Snake Plant: prevent headaches

Snake Plant is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae native to West Africa. It has been proven to be extremely effective in treating headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. It can also help to increase your overall energy levels.

 

 

Some Health Benefits of Camping

Most people go on camping trips because they’re tired of the city or ready for an adventure. Whether you enjoy biking, hunting or any other outdoor activity, camping offers you a way to focus completely on a hobby for a few days without external distractions. What you might not realize is that camping can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Fresh Air

When you spend time near a lot of trees, you take in more oxygen. That feeling of happiness that you get when you take your first breath of air at the campground isn’t all in your head–well, technically it is, but it’s a release of serotonin from the extra oxygen. Your body can function with less strain when there’s plenty of oxygen.

That’s not the only benefit of fresh air. Research shows that some time outdoors can improve your blood pressure, improve digestion and give your immune system an extra boost. When you spend a few days outside, you get some serious health benefits from the extra oxygen and low levels of pollutants.

Socializing

Camping alone is plenty of fun, but if you bring along a friend or family member, you’ll enjoy a unique experience together that will help you keep a healthy, happy relationship.

Socializing can extend your lifespan and delay memory problems according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, and apart from the medical benefits, a few close relationships make life more fun. Invite a few friends on your next trip out.

Moods

Regular campers will often talk about how the first few days back from a trip seem happier. This isn’t without merit; spending some time outside in the sunlight can even out the levels of melatonin in your brain.

Melatonin is the chemical that makes you feel tired and can induce feelings of depression, so by camping, you can enjoy better overall moods during and after your trip.

Decrease Stress

Camping also allows you to cope with stress. Stress can negatively affect your health in just about every way possible, and you’re putting much less strain on your mental and physical faculties by giving yourself some stress-free time at the campsite.

The lack of stress is related to the rise in oxygen levels, higher levels of serotonin and managed levels of melatonin mentioned above. There’s also an emotional component at work here, since it’s harder to be annoyed or angry when you’re doing something that you enjoy.

Exercise

Let’s not forget the most obvious benefit of camping: you’re spending a lot of time performing physical activities. Even if you’re taking a fishing trip, you’re burning more calories than you’d burn sitting around an office, and if you hike or bike, you’re performing cardiovascular exercise that will help keep your heart and lungs healthy.

Your activity levels will vary, but hikers burn anywhere from 120-300 calories per hour. Bikers burn 300-500 calories per hour, and fly fishing can burn up to 200 calories per hour. No wonder you work up such an appetite during a long camping trip.

Sun

Sunshine feels great on your skin, and there’s an evolutionary reason for that. When you’re out in direct sunlight, you’re taking on a ton of Vitamin D, which allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphorous.

Sleep Better

Assuming that you’ve got decent camping gear, you’ll fall fast asleep after a day full of outdoor activities. Sleep has an effect on all of your body processes and can reduce inflammation, improve your cardiovascular system and help you stay alert.

Many campers report better sleep cycles when they return for a trip.

Food

If you pack s’mores, you’re not seeing any particularly solid health benefits in this department. However, if you’re fond of fishing and hunting, you’ll likely eat a large amount of protein and healthy fats on your camping trip.

You won’t get any preservatives or unnatural ingredients in a fresh lake-caught fish, and all of the exercise on your trip will help you digest.

New Challenges

No two camping trips are exactly the same, and that’s a good thing. Studies from the University of Texas and University of Michigan show that new experiences help to keep brains healthy.

New activities that are both physically and intellectually stimulating have the greatest effect on brain health, and camping fits both of these criteria.

Meditation

When you go camping, don’t forget to turn off your cell phone. Leave the tablet and the laptop computer at home. Try to disconnect for a few days and enjoy the simplicity of the natural experience.

This isn’t just a general tip to help you enjoy the experience; if you’re willing to enjoy your surroundings without any outside distractions, you could increase your lifespan. Turning off the cell phone and engaging with nature is one of the simplest ways to get the health benefits of meditation.  Meditation may improve a number of serious medical conditions by increasing self awareness and giving a person stress-reduction tools. If you suffer from depression, fatigue, heart disease or even allergies, research shows that camping can improve your overall health.

Just don’t forget to commit to the experience if your cell phone’s off, you’re on your way to developing a stimulating, tranquil hobby that will keep you healthy for years to come.

Ways to Help Replenish Your Electrolyes

Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.

1. Sodium
2. Chloride
3. Magnesium
4. Potassium
5. Calcium
6. Phosphorus

The first two are provided by table salt: sodium chloride. Adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your diet per day provides enough sodium and chloride. The typical American diet already has plenty of salt in junk food, fast food, etc., so no additional salt is needed. But if you are eating from a survival garden and from stored food, you might need to add salt to your meals. Be sure to include plenty of table salt with your stored foods.

Magnesium is found in whole grains. Although whole grains spoil sooner in storage, it might be a good idea to have some whole grain flour, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta in storage. You can also grow amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat three crops high in magnesium.

Potassium is highest in potato. Tomato juice and sun-dried tomatoes are also high in potassium. Fruits and vegetables generally contain some potassium. Canned tomato sauce, paste, and juice are a good source of potassium. Potatoes can be easily grown in a survival garden. Some varieties of potato can be grown from seed, rather than from small chunks of potato.

Calcium and phosphorus are both found in cheese and other dairy products. Long term storage of cheese is a little tricky. You can store those boxed mac and cheese dinners the kind with the powdered cheese or the deluxe kind with a paste like cheese sauce. Your other good option is to throw a blocks of cheese in the freezer. Frozen foods keep indefinitely, but the consistency of the cheese may suffer.

If you are trying to survive from stored foods, you will need the three macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as the above six electrolytes. A survival garden is a good option for supplementing stored food. And if any food is still available at markets after the SHTF, you should prioritize macro-nutrients and electrolytes.

Tip on Preventing Blisters

First of all, remember that blisters require three conditions to occur: heat, moisture, and friction. Eliminate any one of those factors and you prevent blisters.

Buy boots that fits

Friction happens when your shoes or boots don’t fit your feet well. Buy them in a store where the staff knows how to measure your foot size. Try on a variety of brands because they all fit slightly differently; find the brand that fits your feet best. If the best boots you find still don’t fit perfectly, try after-market insoles to customize the fit.

Eliminate heat and moisture: Keep your feet dry

This may be the easiest and most effective strategy  employed: Whenever you stop for a break of five minutes or more,  take off your boots and socks and let them and your feet dry out, eliminating or at least minimizing heat and moisture. As simple as that.

Carry extra socks

If your feet get chronically sweaty, change into clean, dry socks midway through a day of hiking. Try to wash and cool your feet in a creek and dry them completely before putting on the clean socks.

Wear lightweight, non-waterproof footwear

Any footwear with a waterproof-breathable membrane is not as breathable as shoes or boots with mesh uppers and no membrane which also dry much faster if they do get wet. If you’re generally day hiking in dry weather, why do you need waterproof boots? It may seem counter intuitive, but non-waterproof shoes or boots may keep your feet drier because they won’t sweat as much.

Tape hot spots

Carry blister-treatment products like Moleskin—but also carry athletic tape, which sticks well even on damp skin. If you feel a hot spot developing,  stop immediately and apply two or three strips of athletic tape to the spot, overlapping the strips, and then check it periodically to make sure they’re still in place.

Tape preemptively

When you’re taking a really long day hike where you exponentially increasing the amount of friction that can occur, tape your heels before starting out, because you may have developed blisters on them on day hikes longer than 20 miles in the past. If you routinely get blisters in the same spots, tape them before your hike.

Use a skin lubricant

Distance runners have employed this trick for ages: Apply a lubricant to areas that tend to chafe or blister, like heels, toes, or even the inside of thighs, to eliminate the friction that causes that discomfort. Numerous products do the job, from the traditional Vaseline to roll-on sticks like BodyGlide.

Getting Outdoors More

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Sure, family and other responsibilities prevent you from getting out as much as you’d like.  As your life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills you can acquired is figuring out how to get outdoors as much as you want. One thing you can do is make it a family outing. Here are some tips to help with the outdoor planning.

PLAN AHEAD

When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, can require making reservations months in advance.

INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk.  That delivers multiple benefits for you: creating additional opportunities for you to get outside; ingraining in your children a love for the outdoors that you have always shared; and, by getting your family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if you take off for a long day hike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.

GET ORGANIZED

If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.

GET A REGULAR PARTNER

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment.

SCHEDULE WEEKLY OUTINGS

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

For the next few months try to get outdoors more and maybe plan a trip. A day trip, weekend trip, or a week long trip. Just plan ahead and do something fun.

 

 

 

Building a Survival Kit for Kids

When you hike, you carry a survival kit that should cover the basic needs for yourself in a survival situation. When you hike with children you carry a bit bigger kit to help you care for your needs and the child’s. But what happens if you get separated from the child? Your best line of defense is a survival kit suited for your child’s needs and abilities.

The basic needs that you’ll need to meet are Shelter, Warmth, Signaling and First Aid. These are real needs for a child. If they have to spend the night hugging a tree until the survival crew gets there, if it gets cold, if she cuts herself or if he needs to signal to a helicopter or emergency crew then they will definitely need to have the means to do so in their kit and as importantly, know how to use them.

But that’s not the only thing you’ll be interested in. Psychology is just as important. To keep them from panicking and getting themselves in a worse situation you’ll want to give them things to keep them occupied. This can be a flashlight to keep the scary things away at night, candies to suck on, toys to play with or what have you. They will need to pass the time, be it 5 minute, one hour, or 1 day.

  • Emergency Blanket
  • Rain Poncho
  • Signal Mirror
  • Emergency Whistle
  • First Aid Gear (Kit)
  • Snacks/Candies
  • Flashlight/Signal Light
  • Fire Steel and Sticker
  • Ziploc Bag (Carry Water)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Duct Tape
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Knife (Older Kids)
  • Rope

Chapstick-Handy Uses

If you carry chapstick in your packet, like most people do, then here are some neat ideas you can use during your next outdoor adventure.

  • A DIY fire starter – Combine some chapstick with a cotton ball for an improvised and reliable fire starter.
  • An Improvised First Aid kit – Use the chapstick to cover and protect minor, topical injuries. It’ll keep it protected, clean and prevent minor bleeding. Make sure you use non-flavored for this!
  • A gear lubricant – Chapstick is petroleum based, so it can be used to stop squeaks in gear and lubricate sticky zippers.
  • A Temporary Water-proof tool– If you find a small leak in your gear, a temporary field repair can be done with chapstick. It’ll act as a temporary fix to prevent water seeping through the tent, jacket, pack or what have you.
  • An Emergency Candle – A surprisingly effective homemade, emergency candle lantern by twisting a cotton ball into a wick and coating it in the chapstick.

Some Tips for Every Hiking Trip

If you’re planning on going hiking sometime soon, that’s terrific it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these hiking safety tips.

For starters, tell people where you’re going, and mention when you expect to be back, whether you’re alone or in a group. In the event you don’t make it back, because you’re injured or lost, someone will notice, and search parties can be sent out right away. It really helps if they know where you were headed there’s a lot of nature out there, and only one you to find.

If you were hoping for a great weather weekend of hiking but hear there’s a storm approaching, postpone your trip. Nature does not care about ruining your weekend, it doesn’t care whether your get hurt or make it home. Remember that turning back isn’t admitting defeat, it’s respecting the wild world you so enjoy.

A pocket knife, compass and map are at the top of the list. Make sure you know how to use them.  Don’t forget a first aid kit, whistle, matches or a lighter, and plenty of food and water. If you’re hiking in a cold climate, bring warm clothes. If you’re staying overnight, bring what you need for camping.

One of the best parts of exploring nature is encountering the creatures that share the planet with humans. Remember that they’re called wild animals for a reason. Bear attacks are rarer than you might think, but they still happen.  And just because an animal strikes you as harmless, exercise caution; even mountain goats have killed hikers on occasion.

What if you are lost, stay calm. It’s easy to panic when you realize neither you nor anyone else knows where you are. But the most important thing to do is stay calm: Acting predictably will make it easier for a rescue team to find you. Sit down. Decide whether you’re going to get food or water, or build a shelter or a signal fire first, and then stay the course.

Make the job of whoever’s looking for you as easy as possible. If you have bright clothing, put it on. Stay in open, high ground. Blow a whistle at regular intervals.

In addition to staying in sight, try to signal your position to potential rescuers. Build a fire where it will be visible and won’t start a wildfire. Make a signal on the ground that will be visible from the air. Skip the classic “Help” in favor of three piles of anything (e.g., three piles of leaves) arranged in a triangle shape, the international wilderness symbol for distress.

It’s getting very cold out, again stay calm. Unless you’re very experienced yourself, you’re going to feel the pangs of fear setting in. Don’t let emotion take control, keep your head and think clearly. Use that fear and adrenaline to motivate yourself to do everything that needs to be done. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself moving quickly and efficiently, and not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

If you find that your one day hike has turned into an open ended situation, you’ll need to find more water. Don’t waste time looking for possibly edible berries; you can go a month without eating, but only three days without drinking. Know where to look for water: dew on plants, banana and plantain trees, and tropical vines are good places to start.

Make sure to purify any water you find before drinking it: with purification tablets, a filter or by boiling it. If you’re truly lost, chances are it’s going to take a little while to find you. Making a shelter to spend the night in should be a priority. It can protect you from rain, wind, snow, insects, and sun during the day. It doesn’t have to be big, just large enough to fit you.

No matter the daytime temperature, it can get cold at night. Insulate your shelter with leaves, grass, and even snow. Insulate yourself as well. These tips may save your life during your next hiking trip. Always be prepared for the unexpected . You never know what may happen.

Going Green While Camping

Camping is a outdoor recreational activity which involves overnight stay away from home in a shelter such as a tent or a caravan. Camping is a wonderful experience if you’re ready to understand what it feels like to live off the land. Of course, with our modern technologies and conveniences, we don’t have to completely live off of the land.

Yet, there is nothing that can compare to getting back to nature and sleeping under the stars. It’s something everyone should try at least once.  While camping does feel quite environmentally friendly already, there are ways to make it even more green.

Camping with friends and family involves lot of fun. Going green with camping is an environmentally friendly way to make your vacation eco-friendly. The idea of making a greener camping is to have a minimal impact on the environment. Whether you are planning to week long backpacking trip or a short trip to snow covered mountains, here are some impressive tips to help you go green while camping.

Trash-Leave it how you found it-Clean

Even if you used mostly biodegradable materials, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your trash behind. It is important to leave your campsite the exact way you found it. What if the campers before you left all of their trash behind? Wouldn’t that be annoying? Instead of getting down to the business of camping, you have to start your trip by cleaning up after someone else. That would put a damper on anyone’s trip. So, be mindful of leaving anything behind. Bring extra cloth bags to store all of your items for the trip back home.

Soft Soles

You should tread lightly. You want to minimize your disturbance to the land. So, wear soft-soled shoes. You never know what might be waiting to shoot up beneath you. Remember, the plants and wildlife were there before you. We have our concrete jungles, give nature some space to live too. Also, don’t level the ground underneath your camp. It is that way for a reason. Instead, place cloths under a sloping mat to keep it level.

Clean and Reuse

If you’re camping for more than one night, you’ll have to do some washing. If you have reusable plates, cups and silverware–that is a good start. When washing them, use only biodegradable soaps. Don’t cancel out your green camping trip with toxic dish detergent. Also, do not dump waste water into a stream or river. Empty it on dry ground or vegetation.

Sleeping Gear

It is important to look for sustainable camping gear. Look for camping tents made with 100 percent recycled materials. This should include the tent, fly and floor. Then, determine what types of coatings are used for waterproofing. You want a tent that uses solvent-free polyurethane coating. And, it helps if it is made without toxic dyes.

They are made with naturally untreated, exterior-grade larch wood, while the floor is made from spruce. In addition, they have an integrated ventilation system and electrical outlets. Moreover, it can fit a king-size bed. You can also look for a pre-owned tent at most sporting goods stores. Just look at the materials before your purchase.

Again, look for sleeping bags made of recycled materials. If the weather permits, you might just stick to cloth blankets.

You might want to try a hanging tent. These are like sleeping in a tree. Sometimes, the ground is too cold, soggy and hard to be comfortable. For situations like these, the Tenstile company has created a hanging tent. It is called the Stingray, and it can help you camp anywhere you can suspend it off of the ground.

It is also made to fit three campers comfortably. You won’t have to worry about creepy, crawlies while you sleep. Plus, you’ll have a much better view.

Have you heard of solar tents? This is a new movement in sustainable camping, that also turns it into glamping. A solar tent uses solar fabric that catches the sun’s energy. It also comes with wireless charging pouches to let you charge your devices through magnetic induction.

Repellent

There are lanterns that double as a mosquito repellent. You can often use them to light up your surroundings for over 10 hours each time. Plus, they can protect you from nighttime predators.

Shower

Look for a rinsing system that uses garden hose pressure without the need for batteries or a pump. These types of shower systems compress air in the chamber, which then helps to force water out of the nozzle. This can be used to rinse dirty feet or wash dishes.

Solar Lantern

Carrying a lamp wherever you go can get bulky. The good news is you can find collapsible and portable solar-powered lamps. You can hang the lamp on a tree branch to soak up the sun’s energy during the day time. At night, the lamp shines brightly so that you don’t have to be stuck in the dark.

Food Container

Look for containers that have no BPA or phthalates. These chemicals can leak into your food, even in a microwave. You want something convenient, to travel with you without any messes. Look for leak, break and spill-proof containers. Plus, the design should be compact so as not to take up too much space and easily transport food.

Water

Many times people can be seen bringing a pack of water bottles along with them. This creates overhead as most parks require campers to pick their trash along with them. A better way is to bring a large water container or buy a couple of gallons from which you can refill your water bottle during the trip. You probably never imagined that camping could be even more eco-friendly than it already is. The objective is to continue trying to do as much as you can to care for the environment.

So next time you go camping try some of these tips and go a little greener. Try it, you might like it.

 

Traps and Snares

In a wilderness survival situation, it is imperative to know  your way around trapping and snaring animals and fish to use for food. With a few simple tools, a lot of patience, and a little bit of ingenuity, you can set up traps and snares to capture game animals, fish and birds with relative ease.

Traps and Snares for Game Animals:

Simple snare

To make a ground snare on a game trail, simply tie a “noose” from a line that slips easily, paracord works the best but fishing line also works, either using a slip knot or by feeding the line through a smooth ring. Tie off the end of the line to a tree or other sturdy object, and place twigs in the ground near the “noose” end of the snare. Then, suspend the “noose” from the twigs you placed in the ground, aiming to get it around the head height of the animal you are hoping to ensnare. The goal is to snare the head of the animal as it runs through the “noose,” so that it becomes trapped by its neck, and its attempts to free itself from the line tighten the snare further. Bait can be used to lure the animal to the snare.

Pit trapping


If you are in an area where larger game are plentiful and you have some time on your hands, you can also create a pit trap. Pit trapping can be used for deer or even elk, if you can dig deeply enough. Making pit traps is very time consuming and labor intensive, as you are essentially fashioning a grave from which the animal cannot escape. Begin by digging a hole in the ground wide enough to accommodate the body of the animal you wish to trap, and deep enough that the animal will not be able to escape once it falls in. If possible, shore up the “walls” of the pit with stones, creating a sort of makeshift masonry so that the integrity of the structure of the pit will not be compromised. Cover the pit carefully with thatch-work and leaves in order to disguise it, and wait. Note: be very aware of where you have placed the trap, lest you fall in yourself!

Deadfall

A deadfall trap is just what it sounds like: ideally, this trap makes the animal dead when it falls on top of it. In order to create a deadfall, find a large rock with a relatively flat surface on one side and use a tripod of sticks to hold it aloft. Bait should be placed at the center of the stick tripod. Make sure the sticks aren’t too solidly attached to one another, or the trap will not fall when the sticks are disturbed by the animal. Nor do you want them to be too weakly connected, lest the trap fall with a change of the wind!

Traps and Snares for Birds:

Net trapping

If you have a large net in your survival kit and feel like fowl, you may be in luck. By suspending a net between two trees in the flight path of a bird flock, you can ensnare one or more birds by trapping them in the netting. It is important that you leave a fold of netting down at ground level in case the bird should find its way downward—and since this method doesn’t involve any snaring of a specific body part, it is important to check it often if you are utilizing it just in case the bird should escape given time.

Perch snaring

Another method that can prove useful for bird-catching is a perch-style snare. Take a small stick and wedge it very loosely into the crotch of a tree branch, baiting the stick if desired. Then, tie a “noose” similar to that used in a ground snare, although very thin line is advised for bird snaring, such as fishing line and secure it to the tree, draping the “noose” end over the loosely-wedged stick. When the bird lights upon the stick, the stick should fall under its weight, thus trapping the bird by the feet.

Deadfall for ground birds

Just as you can use a deadfall trap for small game, you can use a similar trap for flightless birds. Using the same technique outlined for the small game deadfall, create a baited tripod of loosely-connected sticks holding aloft a large rock. When the bird disturbs the sticks in an attempt to reach the bait, the rock will fall and crush the bird or at least trap it in place.

Traps and Snares for Fish:

Trapping fish with a net


If you have a net, you can suspend it deep in the water of a river or creek by tying it off to poles place firmly in the ground, either at shore or further into the water. The net should be baited throughout, weighted at the bottom, and checked frequently to see if you have a catch. This is a simple, passive method for catching fish.

Bottle trapping

This method of fish-catching is painfully simple, but it does limit the size of fish you can catch. What you do is take a two-liter bottle such as those used for soda pop and clean it out, removing the label and the cap. Cut the bottle just below the neck, leaving a wide-mouthed container and a “funnel” that the neck has created. Cut off the threads of the bottle, leaving about a two-inch hole in the “funnel.” Place the “funnel” end backwards into the large portion of the bottle, so the neck of the funnel is facing inwards. Affix a line to the bottle, and add weights and bait—then sink your trap and wait for the fish to swim on in.

A line of lines

If you like, you can also make a line of multiple fishing lines in order to catch fish while you attend to other tasks. Here’s what you do: take a strong line such as sturdy rope or paracord and string it across a stream, tying it off securely to poles or trees on either bank, leaving it just above or partially submerged in water. Then, tie off weighted, baited hooks on fishing line to the cord and wait. When you return to your lines, you may find that your line of lines has taken all of the work out of your fishing.

Prepper Fitness 101

Why do people prep? No matter how you spin it, it’s probably going to boil down to taking care of themselves and those they love. Where the real variable comes into play is how people prep. Some stockpile and fortify, some may pack light and bug out, or others may have their own unique plans. Ultimately there is no universal answer as to the “right way” to properly prepare for a massive disaster scenario due to the varying nature of personalities in individuals. There is, however, is a key aspect of how people prep that should be implemented to any prepper’s plan if they plan to survive: physical fitness.

Now before thinking this article is about having the best looking six-pack when things go south (trust me, it’s not), consider this question, “Am I in a condition where I feel confident to take care of loved ones and myself physically if disaster strikes?”. Apply this question to your scenario of choice, hell, apply it to your everyday life when things are going good. More than likely the answer to this question is “no”, and there is nothing wrong with that. In all honesty, even if you are active, working out regularly, and eating healthy, there is room for improvement – it’s the nature of self-betterment and making your body best survival tool in a disaster.

How Prepper Fitness could help you in a Doomsday Scenario?

SHTF (who knows how). It’s code red and your rushing around too initiating your own variation on surviving this disaster. You’re sweating, adrenaline is pumping through you, and the only thing on your mind is getting to your checkpoint. As you’re running around, your blood pressure becomes dangerously high and you have a heart attack. Congrats, you just lost at doomsday.

Of course this scenario is a hypothetical and has no scientific analysis to back it up. But for a lot of people, a doomsday scenario could be as simple as the consequences of poor maintenance to their body in terms of diet and exercise. Physical fitness should be one of the essential building blocks of preparing, yet it seems that this foundation work on many prepper guides/plans is overlooked or simply glazed over.

Prepper fitness doesn’t have to be something crazy like running a marathon through the desert without water or joining a gym. Fitness can be as simple as just getting out of your comfort zone for one hour of your day. Much like prepper plans, fitness plans can vary from person-to-person depending on goals, but ultimately doing fitness based activity that pushes the limits of your body consistently will make you a stronger and a physically more efficient survivalist.

So where should someone begin if they are not as fit as they would like to be? Much like learning a new skill or plan for prepping, go to the Internet for information and ideas. Honestly, you don’t even need a gym membership for a great cardio workout – or even weights to build muscle for that matter. Focusing on body weight exercises, light jogging/power walking, and functional lifts at first can make you healthier and stronger, but can also be fun to a degree.

A general introduction to Prepper Fitness

Depending on how serious you want to take this, I would suggest investing in a few things (although not necessary, can serve to be helpful): a heart monitor, pedometer, some of your prepping supplies, and a semi-truck/tractor tire.

Cardio – This does NOT mean running per se, cardio is simply training that gets your heart rate up. Ideally for fat loss/cardio training, you want your heart rate to be “in the zone” (Target Heart Rates by American Heart Association). Cardio training can be monitored with a heart rate monitor, which can also serve as a safety precaution while training, and can be accomplished in a number of ways such as: swimming, hiking, power walking, biking, jogging, or even HIIT workouts. The key to cardio training is consistency and always improving. It’s smart to keep a log of your workouts to monitor progress. Don’t get discouraged though, sometimes progress can come in the form of walking a mile faster than you ever have or sometimes progress can come in the form of showing up to exercise when your brain wants to make a million excuses not to.

“Weight” Training – as mentioned earlier, you really don’t need iron based weights to lift. Some of the best exercises you can do, can be done using only your body weight. One preface that must be mentioned in this portion is always consider your form first whenever lifting something or exercising – improper form can lead to potential injury in the short and long-term. Here is a quick list of some great body weight exercises that can be easily added to your workout circuit:

  • Air Squats – excellent for your quads, glutes, and hamstrings
  • Lunges – builds stamina and quads as well as works the calves, glutes, and hamstrings
  • Pushups – works your chest as well as your shoulders and triceps with many variations available
  • Pullups – great for your lats, back, and biceps.
  • Side Leg Raises – works your hips/adductors
  • Dips – adaptable workout for your triceps that also works your chest and shoulders

Functional Training – of course we are preppers, so a lot of the training done should be survival themed right? Try adding these exercises to your workout that can easily add purpose to your workout:

  • Sledgehammer swings on a tire – think you might need to split a lot of wood?
  • Tire Flips – for anytime you think you might have to lift something heavy off the ground…
  • Bucket Carries – water is necessary, not light, and probably inconveniently located
  • Rope Climbs – wonder if you may need to get somewhere when you don’t have a ladder?
  • Log Carries – Get good at carrying awkward things… do you honestly think everything you need will fit conveniently in your rucksack?
  • Running – this may come in handy at some point in life!

WRAP-UP

Although this is not designed to be a complete guide to prepper fitness, it is meant to get preppers thinking and give basic considerations on where to begin their journey into becoming the best survival instrument in their tool box. The best advice one can take away from this is to try to make fitness a fun and enjoyable part of your day/life, it will not only help make it a consistent part of your routine, but you may even have fun doing something that is physically great for your body!

Two final notes: 1. Remember to stretch before and after exercising, there are too many benefits to stretching and flexibility to list here. 2. Material in this article is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Not all exercises may be applicable to readers; always consult a physician before trying a new diet or exercise program. I am not responsible or liable for any injuries, damages, loss, or accidents.

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 2

In this part, we will look at some other things to consider before you install your storage shed.  And some general lessons learned to keep in mind through the process.

Storage Shed Kit Sources

Doing an online search seems to be an effective method.  Doing a search for “shed kit” on eBay gave me an idea of what was available.  Searching for the top brands found companies specializing in shed kits such as ShedsForLess.com.  Once I found the make and model I was looking for, more specific searches found the best price.  Prices seem fairly universal, although I did happen to find a sale on my choice.  A local source may be cheaper since delivery can be handled in house, but will be increased by sales tax, so the total price should be compared with companies which have to include freight in the cost but don’t have to charge tax.  It seems that shipping is usually “free” (more accurately, included in the cost) on some of the major brands.

Keep in mind that the floor is usually not part of the kit, although often can be ordered with the kit.  Often it is delivered first, from a local source, which means the quality might not be optimal.  On mine, most of the joists could be forced into place, but I had one beam which was warped at a knot, and attempting to force it straight caused the beam to snap.  Replacing it was not trivial, since the only receipt I had was the shipping order, and it took a long time for the local store to find it in their system, since it did not have my name on it or even the name of the company I ordered from.  It was under the name of the kit manufacturer.

There are kits which are material only, and those which are pre-cut.  The latter is easier to assemble and requires less equipment.

Also, when pricing a (wood) kit, keep in mind that hardware is often included, but paint and roofing are usually not, and these products are not cheap.  I could not believe they get over $30 a gallon for paint these days; fortunately Ace had a buy one gallon, get one gallon free sale.  For most (wood) sheds, the specified roofing is shingles, and those run about $1 a square foot.    Flooring, roofing and paint was about 1/4 of the total cost of my kit, and that did not include the roofing gun and scaffolding which will be used for other projects as well.

Options

Often a kit company will offer “options” such as additional or different doors, windows, a ramp, shelving/cabinets and various ventilation methods.  If offered by the kit company you pretty much have to order it with the kit.  Ventilation is good to prevent heat build-up; a “ridge vent” methodology is probably the best, but usually not available with the kit.  If you are going to use the shed strictly for storage, then windows would seem to be pretty silly since you lose wall space and reduce the security.  However, if you are going to be spending much time in there, a window or two will be quite helpful for light, ventilation and to reduce claustrophobia.

What to Have on Hand

The first thing to attempt to arrange is other people.  There are a couple of aspects of building the shed which will be very difficult for a single person to accomplish, without using “tricks” which need to be purchased or constructed.  More people not only allow completing these aspects in a “normal” manner, but will make things quicker and perhaps even “more fun”.  After all, if a single person needs to drive 1000 nails, two people only need to drive 500 each, and so on.  Plus, don’t discount the motivation having others involved provides.  If you can arrange for a person or group to help, that should be great.  If you don’t have people available or that you trust, it does not mean you are out of luck, just that you will need to approach the project differently.

There are certain basic tools you will need.  For a pre-cut wood building, that will be a hammer, drill (primarily for driving screws), tape measure (25′ may be adequate for medium sized buildings), level, framing square, carpenter’s pencil and a circular saw.  Having a cut-off saw was nice (more ergonomic and precise), but is not really needed by the pre-cut kit; the square and circular saw will suffice since there are not that many cuts left to be made.  A panel saw would have been handy, but for the one cut needed for the floor of my kit, a long straight edge, a pair of clamps, and the circular saw did just fine.  And you will need a ladder or two.  And, of course, don’t forget safety glasses and work gloves.  Plus arrange for the equipment for your preferred painting methodology.

Remember those 1000 nails?  I’ve used a nail gun for construction and it is very helpful indeed.  However, since the kit came with all the correct nails, I did not bother getting the pneumatic equivalents.  However, roofing nails were NOT included, and roofing is enough of a pain; I got a roofing nail gun and the nails for it.  Some kits say that “felt” under the shingles is “optional”.  I disagree.  Not only does it provide protection from a small leak in the shingles, but it protects the shingles from the roof panels and vice versa.  For the felt, you will need a hammer stapler and staples (no, a pneumatic stapler won’t do; it goes right through the felt, and your hands will hate you if you try using a standard squeeze stapler).  For the shingles, a utility knife and a bunch of hook blades for it, and a pair of tin snips (for the edging).  Be sure the hook blades fit your utility knife; my knife had a couple of extra pins which match up holes only in the same brand’s (much more expensive) blades.

This list assumes that everything goes perfectly, which it sometimes does not.  For instance, if there is a warped or twisted board, it can often be forced into position using a pipe wrench.  Or a twisted beam can be encouraged to stay in place with a long bolt and nut, tightened with a wrench and socket wrench.  Some places get rain, and getting raw wood wet is not wise.  A tarp big enough to completely cover the roof (and bungee cords to fasten it down with) can be a great help.  Things sometimes don’t fit quite right; I found a package of composite (not wood) shims (from Timberwolf) to be of great help in these cases.  If you end up with a crack or hole that insects can get through, some spray foam like “Great Stuff” can help.  Although roofing CAN be done with ladders, it is a tedious, slightly more dangerous process.  Buying or renting scaffolding can make it go quicker and is a bit safer to boot.  Of course, it might be easier and not much more expensive just to hire someone to do the roofing.

I used several other tools which I had on hand, to overcome problems and make “enhancements” to the shed.  These should not be normally needed.

Caveats

It is tempting to just order the kit and work on the site when the floor kit arrives.  This can be problematical; it took me over a month to get the floor flat and level (since the ground was very much neither).  Yet, the shed kit arrived only a few days after the floor kit.  Be aware of what the relative weather is between the source and your location.  My kit came from Pennsylvania when it was cold and wet, and arrived in Arizona where it was warm and dry, and sat in that wildly different environment for over a month.  It is not surprising that I had more warping and twisting than expected.  Two lessons learned.  Prepare site before ordering, and be aware of relative weather between source and destination.

The floor kit is often delivered by a local lumber outfit, who may have a trailer and fork-lift, and can put the pile in a relatively out of the way location.  The shed kit may be shipped by a standard shipper who has nothing other than pallet jacks to move things around with.  Pallet jacks require a smooth, solid surface, so they had to leave my kit in the road and I had to quickly and manually move it into my pickup.  The total kit weight is a bit over a ton, so to move it from curb to site will take more than one trip with a “1/2 ton” pickup.  When you get to the site, have something for the materials to sit on to keep them off the ground, sort the parts by size, and then stack them with the last needed pieces on the bottom and the first needed pieces on top.  I had two stacks, one of boards and one of sheets.  Cover with tarps if precipitation is expected.

Find the inventory list before you start unpacking and use it to verify the contents as you unpack.  I did a manual inventory, and matching it with the official one I found later was a bit of a challenge, since my descriptions did not match theirs.  There were a couple of pieces missing and a couple which were unusable; a call to the company got replacements sent right out.  Read the manual from cover to cover before you start, then follow it “exactly” (except for any typos) unless you are doing the build by yourself.

It was annoying that the 16′ shed floor kit came with 8′ runners; it was a challenge to keep them together and straight; I eventually gave up and used “StrongTie” connectors to hold them together end-to-end.

Standard felt is very easily torn.  It usually takes two people to install, and after we got one side up and took a break; the wind, more accurately a gentle breeze, ripped most of it off.  I finally had success with double thickness felt which is somewhat stronger, a “tool” I built which allowed me to put it up by myself, and putting on the edging as quickly as possible to prevent  wind from getting under the felt edges.  Yes, you need more rolls (being thicker, there is less length in each roll), but in climates such as ours, you generally put on two layers of standard felt anyway.

How to start

The first step is to figure out everything you want to accomplish with your shed, then find out any limitations on what you are “allowed” to put up and where you want to put it.  This includes finding out what is required by building codes.  Make sure you have plans for any alterations to be made to the shed; find the materials and figure out when in the build process you will need to diverge from the standard instructions.  Next, find the model or models of kits which you like, and get an idea of the pricing.  Arrange financing (cash or credit), prepare the site (marking and leveling for wood, forms. rebar and pouring for concrete), then order the kit.  Find out when it will be delivered and arrange to be available, with a truck or two to move the parts from where they deposit them to the construction site, and preferably people to help to load and unload.

 

John Hertig

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 1

Why would you want to do this?  Look at the name:  STORAGE Shed.  Most everybody “needs” more storage because they can’t bear to have less stuff.  And someone preparing for bad times probably has more stuff than a person who doesn’t believe anything bad can happen and expects their parents and/or government to take care of them no matter what.  Some of that extra stuff you really don’t have room for in your house, and some of your prepping supplies you REALLY don’t want to have IN your house.  Such as a generator and fuel, oil and vehicle parts, battery banks and so on so building a storage shed makes a lot of sense in some situations.  You can, of course, rent storage space; there is a large industry devoted to just that.

There are a few problems with that solution though.  One, you have to go there to get your stuff, and that assumes that you have a working transport AND that they can or will let you have access if they have no power or their computers don’t work or the people in charge are honesty challenged.  Two, you have signed your stuff over to them if they don’t receive payment for any reason (such as banks being closed).  Three, you are usually contractually obligated NOT to store some of the things you don’t want in your house.  And four, they can raise their rates whenever they please unless you have a long-term lease.  The place I am at currently is charging me TWICE what someone walking in off the street pays, and won’t reduce it.  I could rent another unit, move my stuff over, and cancel the first place, or move to another location, but I know the new price will just start moving up again.  The cost of a storage shed may seem large, but I did the math, and it will be paid off by two years of storage fees, and that is assuming they don’t raise the rate again, which is a very poor assumption.

Look at the other part of the name:  Storage SHED.  Do you have a “post Apocalypse” trade planned or set up; blacksmith, gunsmith, leather worker, seamstress/tailor, weaver, or the like?  This could be used for your business or the tools and supplies.  Plus, a shed looks like a shed, but it does not mean it must be ONLY a shed.  It could provide camouflage for an entrance or exit from an underground area.  It can be built with concealed areas.  Some sheds are designed as, or can be converted to, a green house, if you are interested in growing your own food and/or medicinal plants or setting up an aquaponics system.

Ok, let us assume you have decided you want a storage shed.   But can you have one?  Like it or not, there are a number of people or organizations who have control over what you put up.  Do you own the property?  If not, the owner has complete discretion over what you put up, if anything.  And if you don’t own the property, do you really want to make improvements to it?  An option in this case might be “portable” storage, like a trailer, or one of those transoceanic shipping containers.

Do you belong to a “Home Owners Association”?  If so, you have contractually agreed to give them complete control of the exterior of your property.  Read the bylaws to see what is currently allowed.  Figure out what you can do which abides by any restrictions.   And once you come to agreement on what they will accept “today”, get documentation which grandfathers your shed against any future changes to the bylaws.

How close are the neighbors, and are they reasonable?  If you follow all the legal requirements, they may not be able to prevent you from doing what you want, but if they get annoyed enough, they can still cause you plenty of grief.

Dealing with Governments

And then there is the city, town, township, parish and/or county.  Each level of government will have restrictions on what can be done, based on the “zoning” of the property in question.  The less remote the property is, the more stringent the restrictions are likely to be.  These include things like the percentage of the property which can be “covered”, height restrictions, required distances from property lines and other buildings, and many other things, collectively known as “Building Codes”.  Your safest bet is to get a “building permit”, but this has some downsides.  First of all, as a survivalist, you should attempt to stay “under the radar”.  You would be hard pressed to be more obvious than having your plans on public accessible file with the government, and having inspectors checking you out each step of the way.  Second of all, it will cost.  The building permit has a fee, often based on type of building and square feet.  I once wanted to put up a carport, and they told me I would have to pay $5 per square foot just for the permit.  For posts and an aluminum roof; the building permit would have cost more than the carport.  Not only that, but it is likely they will factor this “improvement” into your property value when computing future property taxes.

By all means, find out all the restrictions on what you can put up; violating restrictions has potential for serious annoyances if the government wants to raise a fuss (and they usually do if violations are brought to their attention).  However, if you can avoid getting a building permit, that might be a good path.  For instance, here, if the shed is less than 200 square feet, you don’t need a permit.  That means a 12′ by 16′ shed (192 square feet) can be put up without a permit being required.  Just because a permit is not required, does not mean the restrictions can be ignored; you just won’t have the public records and government monitoring.

Ways to Get a Storage Shed

The “easiest” way is to have someone build it for you.  This will not be the cheapest option, and a competent builder will likely insist on a building permit, meaning not only public records and government monitoring, but the builder and perhaps others will know all about your shed.  The incompetent builder will refuse the permit and perhaps build something which violates code, with potential for eventual legal challenges or structural problems.  For smaller sheds, you might be able to have it pre-built and delivered.  You could build it yourself, which means you have to come up with a viable design (not that hard) and get the materials, which may be a challenge.  I don’t know about your location, but the lumber here is crap; warped, twisted, split, insufficiently dried.  As my dad said when we were trying to get lumber to replace a rotted porch, “I wouldn’t use this stuff for firewood”.  The remaining option is a “kit”.  This has the advantage that the design, acquisition of materials and much of the cutting are already done for you.  A good kit will have better quality material than you may find locally and instructions which most everyone should be able to follow.

Types of Storage Sheds

There are a number of architectural shed types.  Chose what you like, and what fits your landscape and restrictions.  I’m partial to the “barn” style, because it gives you more height, and even “lofts” in some models.  Possible materials include wood, steel, aluminum and various “plastics”.  Plastic and aluminum tend to be the hallmark of cheap “department store” sheds, great for lawnmowers and garden tools, but not what you would call “durable” or “secure”, and usually limited in size.  For a substantial shed, wood or steel is usually the way to go.  I’m more comfortable working with wood, so that is the path I chose, although steel seems like it might have some advantages.

Modifications

Depending on what you will use the shed for, you may want to make modifications or additions.  For instance, wiring it for electricity may be useful.  But since there is no guarantee electricity will always be available, make sure you have the ability to plug-in a generator (via a transfer switch), or add solar or wind generation capability.  In some cases, you may want to add plumbing.  Note that no matter how much of the electrical or plumbing work you are willing and able to do yourself, you should consider getting a permit for this work and having it inspected.  Unlike the structure, which is hard to mess up (especially if professionally designed), a mistake in the design OR execution of electric or plumbing can cause fire, electrocution, leaks, odors or rot/rust.  And if not up to code, an insurance company may refuse to pay off on a claim.  Wherever practical, have the shed “completed” so it looks like you are “adding” the electrical or plumbing and follow all requirements for what must be visible to the inspector(s).  Of course, if you got the permit for the shed in the first place, follow their instructions on when in the process the various inspections should be scheduled.  If temperature control is a concern, you may want to add insulation, cooling or heating.

Flooring

This foundation (literally) of a shed is an important decision.  The common choices are concrete, or joists with flooring panels.  Concrete may be “better” and in some cases easier; pick your location, set up forms and rebar, and have it poured.  It may be more expensive, and less versatile (it is kind of hard to dig through concrete if you decide a partial “basement” would be handy), and “impossible” to move.  Joists are likely to be less expensive and more versatile, and if the ground is not even, may even be more practical.  There will be beams running the length of the building, with the joists running across the building between the beams.  Flooring panels are laid across the joists and fastened in place.  Note that the beams and joists are in contact with the ground and so are at risk for rotting and/or insects.  Thus pressure treated lumber or corrosion resistant metal is critical here.

Site preparation is highly important, since in order for the floor to be flat and level, and stay that way, the ground must be flat, level and stable.  If it is not, you may be able to compensate by having a variable thickness concrete floor, or building a foundation or partial foundation for your beams out of blocks and concrete.  A “better” floor system is to have runners the length of the building, on which the beams and joists sit.  As long as the runners are flat and level (and adequately supported), it does not matter if the ground is, plus it also allows ventilation below the shed, which can help with cooling and reduction of condensation inside.  It also puts the flooring higher, which may make entry more difficult, but on the other hand, gives more protection against minor flooding.  The runners, of course, must also be pressure treated wood, corrosion resistant metal, or even concrete and/or blocks, and a ramp can compensate for the step up.

 

John Hertig

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

hiiking

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.

The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.

The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).

Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?

Go take a hike!

Linked from: http://www.cosmicscientist.com/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/