In “Sleeping With the Friendlies, by Heidi C.”, the author mentions some of the problems of group integration and building group cohesion, and the author touches on a point that I would like to expand on– board games. In this article I will discuss how I feel board games have uses in: Finding like-minded people Building group cohesion Maintaining morale in a retreat location or shelter-in-place I will take these points in reverse order. Board Games? Why board games? First, let’s imagine the following scenario. The fall has happened. You’ve reached your retreat location and found with relief that the …
Sorry for any inconvenience but we had to move Jim Cobb class to March 3rd, 2018. Here is the link to the event. Hope to see a lot of people there. We have a few surprises and giveaways, so come and learn about food storage.
As preppers we are always trying to figure out the perfect combination of living simply, while taking advantage of today’s technology. There is quite a bit we can learn from how people lived a century ago. If an EMP, CME or something else took down the power grid, we could easily find ourselves in that type of situation.
In the early 1900’s, unless you lived in the big city, or had big money, you probably didn’t have refrigeration (1930’s), electricity, running water, automobiles, or grocery stores. While we try to become more self-reliant just in case, back then it wasn’t a choice…it was a necessity.
Life was simpler in the early 1900’s. The population was smaller, there was less technology, and nearly half the population were farmers. The typical family size (or household) was bigger out of necessity, their diets were different, and transportation was walking, horses and a few cars.
Because of all this, most people were a lot less dependent on others for their survival. In today’s society, people have become dependent on technology, and others for their survival. This is why if the power grid went down, 90% of the population would not exist.
Preparing For the Future By Learning From the Past
In order to give ourselves the best chance possible to live through a larger grid down event, or even just get through a smaller power outage, we need to learn how they did it 100 years ago. We don’t necessarily need to live like they did 100 years ago, or go back to the old west, but we need to learn how they did.
Lessons We Can Learn
Preparedness is about marrying the new with the old. We have the technology to harness solar power and communicate (ham radio) so why not use it. What we don’t want to do is be dependent on water coming from the faucet, food being at the grocery store, and the light coming on at the flip of a switch.
The basics of preparedness are pretty simple. The gadgets and trinkets are great, but won’t save your life. When it comes to any sort of disaster or SHTF scenario, life will be different, like it or not. We all try to do things today that will make life easier then, but we need to learn to live differently, and learning from the past is a good way to do that.
The 6 areas of preparedness
The 6 areas of preparedness, and how we can prepare in each of those categories. By taking the knowledge and supplies we have today, and coupling them with how they lived in the past, we can make life much easier when and if something goes down.
Were are a few topics we covered in the show…
Liberty Gardens: Most people in the early 1900’s gardened to one extent or the other. During WW1 people began to plant Liberty Gardens. This was to help feed the soldiers, and also because most of the farmers were sent off to war.
Cooking From Scratch: Cooking from scratch was a necessity. There was no pancake mix, hamburger helper or Campbell’s soup. If people wanted beef stew, they had to make it from scratch.
Ranching: Just like gardening, a lot of people owned livestock in the 1900’s. This may not been a full fledged “Ranch”, but quite a few people had cows, chickens and goats.
Hunting/Trapping: Hunting was a little easier back then because there were more animals, but just about everyone who didn’t live in the big city knew how to hunt at an early age.
Food Preservation: Because you had to grow your own crops, and hunt your own meat, preserving your food was also important. canning, smoking, dehydrating and root cellars were widely used.
Water Safety: Cholera and Typhoid are nearly non existent in the United States today, but that wasn’t the case 100 years ago. Today we have much more knowledge about clean drinking water, and this is one of the most important parts of preparedness.
Wells: If you lived in the city you might have indoor plumbing, but in the outskirts you were on your own. This meant people needed to dig wells, live close to a water source, and bring it into the house manually.
No Indoor Plumbing: If you lived in an Urban area, you might have had indoor plumbing. If you didn’t, you would have used used chamber pots or outhouses. This would be a huge culture shock to most people if the indoor plumbing didn’t work.
No Handymen: While everything back then was a lot simpler (easier to fix), DIY projects weren’t projects…they were necessity. There was no “Angie’s List” back then, and if you wanted something done, you did it yourself.
Clothing: We think of shelter as a roof over our head, but clothing is also shelter. Most people back then didn’t have a closet full of clothes like we do. A lot of people has Sunday Clothes, and Work Cloths. There were no clothing stores like we think of them, so if you wanted something new, you made it, or waited for it.
Houses: If you drive through an older town you will notice that the houses are much smaller, even the “Mansions” back then are smaller than some suburban homes these days. Smaller homes are easier to heat, easier to build, and the average household occupancy was larger back then.
Police: They didn’t have the police force that we have today, and the police couldn’t communicate like they do today. This meant that is something were to happen, you were probably on your own.
Culture: People had a different mentality back then. People we more self reliant, and didn’t like to depend on someone else for their livelihood or survival. These days it’s almost the exact opposite, most people expect (and feel entitled to) help from others.
Crime: The population was about a third of what it is today, and less population meant less crime. Because the society and culture were so different than it is today, you didn’t see some of the things we see today. Everyone pretty much knew everyone in smaller town, and sometimes criminals didn’t “get their day in court” if you know what I mean.
Supplies: Back then people didn’t have vacuums (or even carpet), air filters, or Swiffer Sweepers. The mops and brooms they used were very basic, and sometimes homemade.
Cleaning: Today it seems like we have never ending choices about what cleaning supplies we can buy, back than that was not the case. Cleaning supplies are a sometimes overlooked prepping supply, but are very important in preventing sickness and infection.
Indoor Plumbing: As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people did not have indoor plumbing, and this is what lead to many of the common diseases back then. It’s important that we learn about how they did things back then, and not make the same mistakes.
Trash Removal: People back then didn’t generate the amount of trash that we do today, but trash can also lead to health issues. In a SHTF scenario I doubt that the trash man will be coming around, so we need to figure out a solution.
First Aid (Medical)
Technology: The advancements we have made in science and technology would seem like magic to people in the 1900’s. If you’ve ever seen some of the equipment they used back then, you know what I mean. Medical professionals not only have better equipment, but better knowledge as well.
Medicine: Advancements is medicine have also come a long way in the last 100 years. With the advent of antibiotics, diseases and infections that would be fatal then, can be treated today. We have written a few articles about antibiotics for preppers.
Medical Help: Back then there weren’t hospitals like we think of then today, no flight for life, and no ambulances. Most towns had a town doctor with his doctor bag, and which probably had some Opium, snake oil and Heroin in it.
Incorporating Today’s Tools With Yesterday’s Skills
If we learn how people lived 100 years ago we can better prepare for any sort of grid down event, or SHTF event. We have much more knowledge and technology today than they had back then, but some of that technology may not be available.
By looking at all the topics covered above, and trying to figure out a solution for each, we can give ourselves a little better chance for survival, or at the very least, a little normalcy in a tough situation.
There are few fashion accessories that can save your life. Survival watches, survival belts are two that come to mind but there’s one survival accessory I like even more.
The mighty survival bracelet.
Survival bracelets are usually made from paracord and they include useful survival tools.
But survival bracelets have only recently gained popularity for civilians. While the military’s been issuing paracord survival bracelets for a very long time.
Why? Since it’s invention in WWII, paracord has proven to be insanely useful for survival. And for the military, that means on the battlefield.
Paracord is also included in astronaut gear list – you know, the one NASA sends into space!
So survival bracelets are worthwhile, but there’s an overwhelming number of them on the market today.
Some survival bracelets are standard, basic, and to the point. While others come equipped with an array of survival tools packed into them. Becoming a miniature survival kit by themselves.
So today, to help wade through the sea of options, we’ll cover a few of the highest rated survival bracelets. We’ll also suggest a few we like best and are most effective for survival.
But investing in a survival bracelet is just the first step, you also need to understand how to use one.
So I’ll also discuss how to make your own survival bracelets from scratch and some of the many survival uses for paracord.
The Magic of Paracord
Before we dive in, let’s take a second to admire paracord, the material most survival bracelets are made from.
Paracord was initially called “parachute cord.” It’s a high-tensile strength nylon cord and made its first appearance in World War II. It was designed to hold together paratroopers’ parachutes.
It’s invention allowed for a whole new type of airborne warfare.
Suddenly, paratroopers were leaping out of planes over war-torn Europe. Trusting their lives with the nylon parachute cord that held together their chutes.
Even after the paratroopers landed, they found lots of new uses for the material.
It became a common practice to strip the parachute of its paracord cord after landing, for later use.
Since then, it’s become standard issue for soldiers in the US army often knotted into a survival bracelet!
It’s a high utility survival accessory that can be easily accessed when you need it.
As mentioned, NASA also uses paracord. They now include paracord in their extensive cargo list. A list that only consists of the lightest weight and most useful materials known to man.
It’s good enough to make the list for survival in space. It was even used on a mission to the Hubble Space Telescope to make improvised repairs!
Paracord is badass stuff. And it’s a great addition to your bug-out-bag, get home bag, or survival pack, even if you’re not into wearing it as a bracelet.
The Best Survival Bracelets
Your looking for the “best” survival bracelet and the good news is there are a lot of options to choose from. Here are a few of the highest rated survival bracelets, along with our notable favorites:
Military Outdoor Survival Bracelet With Firestarter
- a small compass
- survival whistle
- an emergency knife
- a stainless steel fire scraper
- and a flint flare starter
Being able to use your survival bracelet to start a fire, navigate, and signal for help are critical skills in a desperate situation. Not to mention all the paracord and a knife to cut it into segments
Leatherman Tread Bracelet
That’s not the only difference this model offers. Also unlike other survival bracelets, this one is a mechanical toolbox for your wrist.
- a host of box-wrenches
- both flat and Phillip’s head screwdrivers
- an oxygen tank wrench
- a socket drive adapter
- bottle opener
- SIM card “pick”
- carbide glass breaker
- and a cutting hook
While this bracelet may not be ideal for wilderness survival, it’s a reliable accessory for urban survival.
If you’re out riding a 4-wheeler or dirt bike or need to fix a radio this type of survival bracelet is your best option.
Friendly Swede Survival Bracelet With Firestarter
- fishing line
- fishing hooks
- sinkers and bobbers
- fire starting materials
- safety pins
- and a small blade
These are just a few of the many resources wrapped up in this survival bracelet with a firestarter.
If you find yourself lost in the wild, there isn’t a better bracelet to have on hand – because this one has it all!
TITAN Paracord Survival Bracelet
Most military personnel don’t wear high tech, expensive bracelets with 30- different tools. Instead, they go for simplicity.
Paracord is so versatile and has so many survival uses; it’s considered a multi-tool by itself.
The TITAN paracord bracelet is made with a stainless steel bow shackle clasp. A secure clasp that can hold up to 1,650 static pounds of weight.
Bonus Offer – Free Patriot Paracord Bracelet
The final survival bracelet I want to point out is the Patriot Survival Bracelet. It’s got many of the same features as the survival bracelets we already covered.
It includes 10 feet of high strength 550 paracord, as well as a built-in survival whistle and a reflective signaling plate.
Your non-prepper family members and friends think you’re nuts. Until you show them your Water Straw or cool Survival knife, and they say, “Hey, that’s a good idea!”
With the holiday season around the corner, and for every gift-giving season, perhaps you would like to get your loved ones or friend something that will leave them better prepared and motivated to think about preparedness. Where do you begin and how do you figure out what to get them? People can be hard to shop for anyway, and if they’re already skeptical, you will want to start out slow. You can increase your chances of creating a thoughtful, practical, and well-accepted gift by taking a few of things into consideration.
First, consider the location of your recipients, including weather and likely challenges. Then consider their lifestyle, perhaps including skill level, experiences, or interests. And finally, consider any unique needs they have. When I did this exercise for my family members, I discovered that survival-minded gifts would look very different for each of them!
For someone in Texas
For this region, the weather is generally above freezing, but tornadoes are frequent. They also deal with heat and floods. The loss of electricity is a real possibility with any of these events. With several major cities in this state, civil unrest is also a potential issue.
For this gift, buy flashlights and extra batteries for the power outages. Add enough canned food (with a can opener!) to last 2-3 days. Duct tape, plastic sheeting, and hammer and nails might be useful in case of storm damage. In that part of the country,most people don’t have basements, so storage is typically a garage. Packing these items in a tub for the garage or a truck might be the best bet.
Special Consideration: Children
For kids, I would suggest packing something in each these categories. (Pack something from each category in your own emergency kits!)
• Treats: Something individually packaged so their parents can bribe or distract them. For example, I keep fruit snacks in my tornado kit in our basement.
• Warmth: Making sure kids’ physical needs are met will go a long way towards meeting their emotional needs during a scary time. Pack a small fleece blanket or cozy sweatshirt (a size too big) for each child.
• Games & Books: Again, distraction is going to be key. Consider a read-aloud chapter book, like Stuart Little or one of the Chronicles of Narnia. Many board games, such as Life and Yahtzee now come in card varieties that would pack very well in an emergency kit.
• Light: Glow sticks, flashlights, headlamps and fun, colorful finger lights are kid friendly. Allowing kids the ability to control the light and what they see (especially Mom and Dad) can be a comfort to them during an emergency.
• Soft things: Even the toughest teen or pre-teen will feel better clutching something soft. A few small stuffed animals for the younger kids, or maybe some foam stress balls for the older ones.
• Sanitation: Baby wipes and more baby wipes! If your tiny relatives might still be in diapers, include a package of next-size-larger disposable diapers or training pants, too. Ziploc type bags will also be valuable for putting dirty diapers in.
Someone in Colorado
This region experiences significant weather swings in hours — 50 or 60 degree swings in the same day are common. In winter, blizzards with several feet of snow can result being stuck at home for a few days. And wildfires can mean evacuation is a real possibility. Nearly every summer somewhere in the state, there are people to need to leave at a moments notice.
The lifestyle there tends to be outdoorsy, so portable is key for this gift. Everything should fit in a backpack. Add a waterproof poncho for unexpected weather and consider a including a pair of hiking socks. A Firestarter and knife would be a great versatile tool. Some Cliff bars and powdered sports drink mix would easily fit too. And here is the perfect opportunity for a Water Straw, too!
Special consideration: someone far away
For someone who is “isolated” in another state, away from the rest of the extended family, you might consider making them a special evacuation kit. Pack a compass, and paper maps with several exit routes marked out. Make a written communication plan for them, perhaps including Solar Radio. Include a written list of family member addresses and phone numbers, too.
Housebound in Minnesota
The upper Midwest region is famous for snow and cold. It also gets its share of tornadoes in warmer weather.
Most people in the Midwest have basements, so space usually isn’t an issue. Pack everything in a brightly colored waterproof tub for storage. It will likely be stored in a basement. In the tub, add duct tape, a small collapsible shovel, and one or more fleece blankets. If you have the budget, a small household tool kit would also be a good idea. For the colder months, hand/foot warmers would be essential. Include some canned soups, a can opener, and hot drink packets. For quick heating, include some fire starters or sternos.
Special consideration: dietary restrictions or medical needs
There are a lot of emergency supplies you can provide for your loved one that will help, regardless of their unique dietary or medical needs. For a family member with dietary restrictions, your best bet may be to avoid food altogether. Instead, include a list of food items or quantities they should have on hand, and maybe they will be able to add those themselves. Add a brightly colored note to encourage your loved one to stash away some of their medications or medical supplies.
Retired in Arizona
It’s hot, and water is a real concern any time of year, but it is also dry, and the nights can get cold.
Space is an issue in many of the retirement communities. Most residents in these areas have recently downsized, so the thought of adding extra “stuff” doesn’t appeal to them in the least. A very small tub, or even a backpack might be the best bet to hold a selection of useful, compact supplies.
Water is the primary concern. This is another great opportunity to include a Water Straw or a filtering water bottle that combines the filter and a handy container. If you have the budget, you might even consider including a water system. Tarps and bungee cords would be useful both for shade and collecting water if it did rain. A rechargeable flashlight and solar charger would work well with the often sunny days. Some lip moisturizer, sun screen, as well as some hats or bandanas can help protect the face. Pack dried fruit or space bars for snacks, and a thermal blanket for each person for those unexpectedly cold nights.
Special consideration: Pets
If your loved one has pets, you might consider including some basic items for their pet. If you don’t know what the critter needs, just include a list with your tub or backpack gift.
• Water: A collapsible bowl would fit well in an emergency kit.
• Food: small packages of treats or canned food would mean at least Fido or Fluffy could eat something if their owner was stranded.
• A leash and collar: Normally, the owner probably wants something specific, but including these could mean the difference between being able to keep the animal or not if the pet owners end up in a shelter.
• Packet for documents: A simple office-meeting ID pouch would work to keep the animals paperwork. Again, this is something the owner will have to provide, but a brightly colored note inserted where the documents should go can be a great reminder.
Your goal is not to make preppers out of your family members or friends overnight. Rather, show them you care by making sure they’re taken care of in the event of an emergency that is common to their area. Getting them started might make make it easy for them to take the next steps on their own.
To help them further, you might print out and include a general list from FEMA’s website of suggested items every household should have. That way, if they want to work on being prepared, it’s easy to take the next step.
Even if they don’t turn into preppers overnight, at least you can worry a little less. If something does happen, they’ll be better off next year than they were this year.
Summer Classes for 2017 – SHTFandGO
There are two classes that charge a small fee, but the rest are all free and provide great information for you!
Take advantage of this these free educational survival classes. Each of these instructors put a lot of work into these classes to provide for all of you! You never know what could happen, so don’t be the last person to be prepared!
You can get more information on each class by visiting our website and going to our events page or click on the link below.
June 3rd – Conceal Carry Class with Chief Joseph Balog, Genoa City Police Department. Lunch is provided and a fee charge of $50.00. 9AM – 2PM.
June 10th – Be Prepared with Essential Oils – Know the basics with Laura Zielinski. FREE EVENT! 10AM-12PM
June 17th – Learn about Raising Rabbits with Mike France. FREE EVENT! 10AM-12PM.
July 1st – Wilderness First Aid with Nick of the Woods. FREE EVENT! 10AM
July 15th – Fire Starting Techniques with SHTFandGO. FREE EVENT! 10AM-12PM.
Juy 22nd – Building an Emergency Shelter with SHTFandGO. FREE EVENT! 10AM-12PM.
August 5th – DIY Survival Gear with Jim Cobb. A fee of $10.00. 10AM-12PM.
August 26th – How to Build Trap/Snare Class with SHTFandGO. FREE EVENT! 10AM-12PM.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
About once a year chickens molt and that process can last 3-6 weeks. Having several ages can help negate any lags in production.
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.
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”!
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
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.
- Cottage cheese
- Sweet corn
- Spaghetti squash
- All grain pancakes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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?
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.
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
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:
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.
- HAND CLEANING
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
- Flashlight/Signal Light
- Fire Steel and Sticker
- Ziploc Bag (Carry Water)
- Cotton Balls
- Duct Tape
- Knife (Older Kids)
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.