Avalanche Survival

An avalanche, also called a “snowslide”, is a mass of snow, ice, and debris sliding rapidly down a mountainside, and is a risk to any winter hiker. Just as a snowball rolling down a hill picks up more snow as it goes, an avalanche can achieve significantly more volume and mass as it travels.

Although they rarely make the news, avalanches cause an average of 28 deaths a year. This event may seem like a rare occurrence, but it happens a lot more often than you’d think; certainly more than, say, shark attacks (which get a lot more press).

Snowslides are part and parcel of the winter wilderness experience, and it pays to know what to do if you’re caught in one.  If you’re not prepared to deal with issues associated with your environment, then you have made it your enemy.  This is not just good advice for skiers or backcountry hikers; anyone driving on mountain roads in winter could get in caught in an avalanche if not prepared.

Avalanches may be caused by simple gravity, a major snowfall, seismic tremors, or human activity. The speed and force of an avalanche may depend on whether the snow is “wet” or “dry powder”. Powder snow avalanches may reach speeds of 190 miles per hour. Wet slides travel slower, but with a great deal of force due to the density of the snowpack.

What Kills An Avalanche Victim?

You might assume that the main cause of death in this circumstance is freezing to death. There are other ways, however, that are more likely to end the life of an avalanche victim:

Trauma:  serious injury is not uncommon in an avalanche, and not just due to the weight of the snow. Debris, such as rocks, branches, and even entire trees, can be carried along in the cascade and cause life-ending traumatic wounds.

Suffocation:  When buried in the snow, asphyxiation is a major risk.  Densely packed snow is like concrete; many victims may find themselves immobilized and unable to dig themselves out of trouble.

Hypothermia: Hypothermia is, surprisingly, the cause of death of only a small percentage of avalanche victims. It’s much more likely that they will perish due to traumatic injury or suffocation before they freeze to death.

Factors involved in deciding your fate include:

  • The density of the snowpack
  • The presence of air pockets for breathing (or the lack of them)
  • The position of the body in the snow (if not upright, you’ll be disoriented)
  • Traumatic injuries sustained
  • The availability of rescue equipment at the scene

Important Avalanche Survival Basics and Equipment

On any wilderness outing, it makes sense to go prepared. Appropriately warm clothing for the weather is, of course, a basic concern in winter. Food, water, heat packs, spare dry clothing, and a cell phone are just some of the items you should take with you if you’re attempting a mountain hike in January.

Most backcountry expeditions are best attempted in a group. That goes for avalanche country, as well, except for one thing: Space yourselves out far enough so that there’s not too much weight on any one area of snow. If a member of your party is buried in the snow, know that you have to act quickly to find them and dig them out. It’s unlikely that going for help will end in a successful rescue. Therefore, it’s especially important to have some specialized items in avalanche country.

Recommended gear (besides warm clothing) would include:

An avalanche beacon:  A device that emits a pulsed radio signal.  Everyone in the group carries one. If a member gets buried in an avalanche, the rest of the party picks up the signal from under the snow. The receivers interpret the signal into a display that aids the search.

An avalanche shovel:  Lightweight short aluminum shovels that fit inside your backpack and help chop and remove snow and debris on top of a buried hiker. These shovels usually have telescoping shafts. Shovels with D-shaped grips can be used with mittens.

An avalanche probe: Essentially, a stick that helps you pinpoint the exact location of an avalanche victim and see how far down he/she is. 2 meters or more in length, you can use the probe to tell a victim under the snow from the ground; the victim will feel “softer”.

A helmet: Many fatalities occur due to head trauma from rocks and debris flung around by the snow.

Skier’s Air Bags:  Relatively new, these brightly colored air bags auto-inflate with a trigger; they work like a lifejacket to keep you buoyant and, therefore, closer to the surface and easier to find.

What To Do As The Avalanche Starts

83% of avalanches in recreational settings are triggered by the victim. To survive, quick thinking and rapid action will be needed:

Yell: Let everyone in your group know that you’re in trouble. At the very start of the slide, wave your arms and shout as loud as you can to alert as many people as possible to your location.

Move. If you started the avalanche, you may notice a crevice forming in the snow.  Jump uphill of it quickly and you might not get carried off.  If this isn’t an option, run sideways as fast as you can away from the center of the event, which is where the snow will be moving fastest and with the most force.

Get Lighter. Heavier objects sink in snow, so jettison unnecessary heavy equipment so that you’ll be closer to the surface. Throwing off something light isn’t a bad idea either: A loose glove or hat on top of the snow could signal rescuers to your general location and save precious time.  Deploy your avalanche air bag if you have one.

Hug a tree (or rock). If the avalanche is relatively small, you could grab the nearest immobile object and hold on for dear life.  In a very large avalanche, trees and rocks may not be safe anchors; trees can be uprooted by the force of the snowslide.

Swim!  To survive an avalanche, the key is to stay as close to the top of the snow as possible. Increase your surface area by spreading your legs (feet downhill) and raising your hands. While in this position, swing your arms while trying to stay on your back (it’s easier to breathe if face up), similar to swimming backstroke.  With any luck, this strategy will keep you towards the surface of the snow.

What To Do If You’re Buried In The Snow

You did your best, but still got completely buried in the snow.  You’ve got maybe 15-30 minutes, on average, before you suffocate.  Snow may be porous, but warm breath melts the snow which then refreezes as solid ice.  This makes breathing difficult.

As the snow slows: The larger the air pocket you have, the longer you’ll survive.  As the snowslide slows to a stop, put one arm in front of your face in such a way as to form a space that will give you the most air. If possible, raise the other arm straight up toward the avalanche surface.  Your glove might signal your location to rescuers.  Expand your chest by inhaling deeply so that you have more room to breathe once the snow has settled.

Once buried: Once you are completely buried, the snowpack may be so dense as to prevent you from moving. Stay calm, in order to use up less oxygen.  If you’re not sure which way is up, spit.  The spit will go towards the ground due to gravity.  If you can move, work to make a bigger air pocket in the direction of the surface.

You’ll only have a second or two to act to avoid most avalanches.  Rapid action, and some basic rescue equipment, may prevent you from being the harsh winter’s latest victim.

Original post seen on https://www.doomandbloom.net.

 

On Chemistry: Making Activated Carbon and Hand Warmers, by R.T.

The practical usefulness of chemistry is often overlooked. In the video game State of Decay, there are various monologues that characters can randomly give. One such monologue speaks about how one person is amazed that all of the toilet paper disappeared after the zombie apocalypse. He jokes that while everyone else was worried about food and ammunition, someone realized that they’re going to continue to use the bathroom, so they’d better stock up on two-ply. In many ways, this represents the two modes of thought on preparedness. You have the people whose first thought is rightfully their immediate needs. You need food, water, shelter, and safety. And then you have the people who think beyond these needs. Both are equally important. Surviving today means little if you’re going to die tomorrow. However, tomorrow means nothing if you can’t survive today. Basic knowledge alone can help a person in both. Chemistry … Continue reading

The post On Chemistry: Making Activated Carbon and Hand Warmers, by R.T. appeared first on SurvivalBlog.com.

The Human-Powered Veggie Garden- Part 2

Deep Digging and Rock Removal

The second round of digging is the hardest work of the whole project. The process is much like the first round, except the goal is to be able to bury the whole head of your shovel in loose soil when you are done. This time, if you hit a rock in the process of achieving that, it has to go. As you back up, some of the rocks will expose an edge you can get under with the shovel. This is where buying good tools, and sharpening your shovel is really going to pay off. Use the shovel to poke under an exposed edge of a stone to create leverage and pry it out. You may have to go slightly off track or attack from a different angle, but if you stick with it for a few seconds, you will find a way to easily pry most of them out. In the instance where you hit a rock that extends far back under the ground you are still standing on and have yet to dig, skip it and remove it while digging another row that exposes enough of it for you to extract it easily. Stay hydrated. Keep your eye on the prize, because when this is done you will be left with the beginning of a great garden bed that only improves with time.

Make Rows and Beds and Smooth the Paths

At this point in the project, if the amendments you used included any non-composted manures or fibrous organic matter, like grasses or leaves, I would let it sit for at least two weeks. If you amended the soil with “well-rotted” compost, you can begin the next step immediately. Depending on how large it is and how your garden is configured, you will need to dig some paths and create more than one bed for the plants. The idea is to not have to step on the beds, thereby eliminating a lot of potential damage to roots. When you avoid stepping on the beds, they stay loose and well-drained, allowing maximum root penetration and oxygen delivery. Dig your paths according to how easily you can reach into the bed to tend to the plants. To dig the path, simply use a transfer shovel to move soil from the intended path up and onto the beds that you will be forming. Dig it down about 6-8” below the tops of the beds you are making. Even out the beds and smooth the paths. Finally, rake the tops of the beds with a ***stone rake to remove rocks and loosen up a seedbed. The beds are now ready to be planted.

Spacing of Plants

The spacing of your plants is critical in the philosophy behind a garden like this. I mentioned earlier about the highly intensive gardening practices used and recommended as part of conventional wisdom. Growing as many plants as possible in a given space is fine for modern society, when we can be reliably sure that we can run irrigation in our gardens on-demand. This works fine when we have chemical fertilizer and literal tons of compost and soil amendments available at multiple retailers in every community. The point here is that if gardening is to work in a survival situation, you may be forced to largely rely upon the rain that falls for your watering.

Spacing becomes an issue because when a canopy of leaves forms, the plants generally stop getting bigger and hit their peak of water consumption. Plants that are spaced closely will be small when this happens. This means they have shallow root systems with small footprints. They don’t penetrate deeply, and if a drought hits, they will need constant supervision to survive until the next rain. Although you can most definitely recover a plant that wilts in the sun from lack of water if you address it quickly, the stress this places on the plant will set it back days and possibly weeks. Plants that are allowed room to grow large before a canopy forms will have deep roots and large, sturdy stems. They can better survive both harsh weather and longer periods without water than plants that are spaced close together.

Every plant has different requirements, so my general rule of thumb for spacing is whatever the seed packet says, I at least double it. The first year of this garden, I grew sweet corn. I did two 10 foot square beds and put four rows of corn in each bed with individual plants spaced 12 inches apart within the rows. These plants had plenty of room to grow and were over six feet tall before any of their leaves touched. They ended up topping out over eight feet, with some plants growing lateral branches and secondary sets of ears. Conventional wisdom might say this is wrong, but if you offset the rows, there is still enough wind protection, and I didn’t have any fall over in that particular year. The second year, I grew peppers in that bed. I did a total of 12 plants in both beds, arranged in four corners, plus two in the middle arrangement. There were bell peppers in one bed and habanero peppers in the other. I was pushing the spacing way out this time, trying to see how it would affect the yield. When I grow habaneros in a raised bed, I might get a dozen or so ripe peppers from a healthy plant. These plants each had over 75 ripe peppers, with the best three having more than 100. Give your plants room to grow. Their odds of surviving long enough to produce go up when they get bigger faster. The payoff in yield will be worth the weeding.

Weeding

Remember the sharp hoe? This is the primary weeding tool, and if you take it with you on your daily patrol of the garden you should never have to dig a weed by hand. If you see a green shoot that is in a position you didn’t plant a seed, use the corner of your hoe to lift it up out of the soil. That’s it. If will almost definitely shrivel and die as soon as the sun hits its now exposed tiny roots. If one happens to slip by you for a couple days, the sharpened bevel of the hoe will easily chop it off just below the soil surface, cutting off the energy supply of the root below. That will die just as easily as the ones you pluck out. The key here is discipline. You can weed once a week if you choose to, but your plants will grow more slowly and the weeding will be more difficult every time. You don’t want to skip a week. Just weed every time you visit the garden. Be diligent about not letting any plant that you don’t want growing in your garden steal vital nutrients from your vegetables. Weeds die very easily when they are young. Once your plants get big and form a canopy, this chore diminishes, but if you are disciplined it never gets hard in the first place.

Here’s a note on “weeds”. A lot of the plants that we typically don’t want growing in our gardens, like wild spinach, dandelions, wood sorrel, and sheep sorrel to name a few, are not only edible but nutritious and delicious. I grow some of each in my garden every year. In a survival situation, simply turning over sod and letting the “weeds” grow could provide you with a lot of food in the form of leafy greens that grow very quickly. The seeds are already in the ground, waiting for the conditions to germinate. Turn the soil over, and they will grow. You would still need something to eat while the garden grows.

Watering

Watering is pretty simple if you space your plants properly and live in a place with consistent rain. Where I live, rains tend to be concentrated in spring. We also have frequent afternoon thunderstorms in summer months, making the amount of watering I do for my double-dug gardens nearly zero. Even on a hot, dry day, if you go down an inch or so into the soil, you will find plenty of usable moisture. As long as the grass isn’t getting crispy, a garden like this with properly spaced plants will not require much watering input on your part. If you do water and you chose a sunny, well-drained location, it’s pretty hard to overdo it if you are watering by hand. I prefer to water in the morning rather than the evening, so that I am not soaking the roots with cold water before hours of darkness. Soil temperature makes a big difference in how quickly things like germination and early growth take place; therefore, I try to water when the sun is coming up so the plants get warmed immediately. There are innumerable strategies for storing and moving water in a grid-down scenario, and they have been covered on this blog in great detail. Your individual strategy will vary from mine, but I plan on running a hose to my garden to gravity feed from an artisanal well.

Maintenance

The ongoing, year to year maintenance of this type of garden is much simpler and less time consuming than the initial start-up. Your thoroughness and diligence in removing large stones and digging in deep the first time through will be rewarded with deep, loose soil that roots can penetrate easily in search of the space they need to make large, resilient plants. When you are finished growing for the year, remove all the above-ground vegetation. I don’t put much thought into whether or not I get the roots out. If you leave them in the ground, they will rot down and add both nutrition and organic matter to the soil for next year. If you remove them from the garden, they will presumably become part of a compost pile and the end result will be nearly the same. After the vegetation is removed, you can be finished and come back when the ground thaws, plant cover crops, or spread amendments that might take some time to break down. These would include un-rotted manure and fall foliage– two that I have used in the past. When you are ready to start again the following spring, you simply spread any amendments you want in the soil for the season and make one pass with the shovel to incorporate the amendments and prepare the soil for planting. It will be easy work this time, since the soil is loose and previously worked. Dig your paths to form the beds, and you are ready for another growing season.

Satisfaction

At this point it would be natural to conclude that this is a ton of unnecessary labor for what you might assume to be similar results to a rototilled garden. This is partially correct in that the labor is currently unnecessary. There are easier ways to garden, and there is currently an abundance of relatively inexpensive, high quality tools, seeds, fuel, and soil amendments. It is also partially incorrect, because if this method is followed and worked with discipline, the results end up far superior. For me personally, gardening was originally inspired by a combination of nutritional reasons and the desire to prepare for harder times by learning a valuable skill. This style of gardening satisfies both requirements for me, while training and instilling confidence in me for the type of gardening that would be required during an extended crisis. This practice will give you a good gauge based on how many hours per week you put into your garden for the yield you get. You can multiply this out to plan for how much land you could personally cultivate as a full-time endeavor. This will give you a good estimate as to whether you currently have enough manpower to grow as many calories as you are planning to need. This information can be used to adjust food storage plans now.

I hope you will find this to be an informative guide on how you can hand-dig a garden that can easily adjust from the current bounty to times of crisis, and that it can be accomplished with a small budget and dedicated work. I’m not recommending you sell your tractor or rototiller, but this is a good way to expand your survival skill set in the comfort of modern luxury with enjoyable and rewarding results.

The Human-Powered Veggie Garden- Part 1

A small amount of land, in some cases as little as half an acre if managed correctly, could supply a bountiful vegetable garden even without the luxuries of fossil fuel-driven technology or animal power. The key to the survival of an individual or a family who is either under-prepared or through the course of events is somehow unable to use any fossil fuel-driven technology or animal power is being able to quickly produce edible crops on the ground that they have using nothing but hand tools. The methods necessary to do this are inexpensive to implement, physically rewarding, and beneficial to the long-term health of your garden. Implementing them on a small-scale now will be immediately beneficial to your health via increased nutritional quality and physical activity. You will also gain the confidence of knowing that if gardening should ever be forced upon you as a full-time job, you would be able to put food on the table for the people who are relying upon you for protection and guidance.

I will detail my own experience, gathered over the course of the last four years, which was inspired by the book, Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon. It is a brilliantly presented, scientific, yet accessible step-by-step guide to maximizing the production and minimizing the chemical input (to zero, in his case) of your garden. This guide will be a description of how to do it on a small scale. Deciding how to implement it is really up to you and depends on a lot of factors, all of which will vary from one person to the next.

The double dug garden is not a new concept, but it is rarely practiced. Most people use rototillers. Generally speaking, that works given that the power is on and the modern, relatively intense gardening practices can be kept up. (I have more on this later.) Double dug means that all the digging is done with a shovel by hand. Double means you do it twice, until you can bury the entire head of your pointed shovel in loose soil. Does it sound like a lot of work? It is, but after I describe the technique in detail, I will tell you a little more about why it is worth the effort.

Location

To begin, a location must be chosen. If you already have a garden established, you can either use a part of that one or expand it nearby with this technique. For those using this as their first garden, the top priority when choosing a location should be sunlight. Be realistic, and make sure to account for spring growth and summer foliage when looking at nearby tree shadows. Enough sunlight is relative. Read up on what you are growing, considering how often you get a day of full sun, and choose a place where you can generally expect to get at least six full hours of direct exposure to the sun. In the northern hemisphere, orienting towards the south or southeast exposure is the best. I like having the morning sun hit my garden, because I can water it early in the day and the roots get warmed up relatively soon. Drying off the dew early in more humid climates will also benefit the health of your crops when it comes to mold. An easily overlooked but very important aspect of site selection is proximity to the house. The closer you are to your tools and your plants, the better care you will give them and the more and better food you will get in the end.

Tools

Speaking of tools, here are the bare essentials:

  • Shovels– pointed and transfer/scoop style.
  • Sturdy hoe
  • Stone rake
  • Hose with a switchable shower-style nozzle
  • Hat with 360 degree brim
  • Metal file

That’s pretty much it. There are things that would make life easier, but if that’s all you have you can garden.

Sharpening Tools

So, to get started, the single biggest effort and time saving advice I can give you is to grab that file and sharpen the hoe and pointed shovel. Most of the hand tools you buy, in fact any of the ones I have seen for sale even if they are of fine quality, are not sharp. The difference between having a 1/8” piece of flat steel of a sharpened bevel at the end of your implement many seem trivial, but when it comes to slicing through hard ground full of rocks or simply flicking your wrist to kill a weed with the corner of the hoe, the effort pays off immediately and requires little initial input and even less upkeep. Sharpening these tools is pretty simple. Secure them with one hand and a sturdy object like a workbench, and file a bevel onto the leading edge of your pointed shovel up to about five or six inches out from the point. Do the same to the working edge of the hoe. The first filing takes a few minutes, since you have to grind through the thickness of the metal to bevel it, but once the edge is ground maintaining it after a day’s work takes literally seconds.

Killing the Sod

Now that the site is chosen and you have a sharp shovel, it’s time to kill the sod, which is a mat formed by the grass and its intertwining root system. Ideally, the ground breaking takes place in fall, but with proper timing you should be able to follow this advice and still at least grow some summer and fall crops, even if you have to start this project after the ground thaws in the spring. Killing the sod is pretty simple. Using the pointed shovel, start at the “top” edge of your garden. You will be advancing to the rear as you dig, so keep in mind that going downhill, if grade is even slightly a factor, is much easier. Using your foot, drive the shovel through the sod. There is no need to go for big chunks of dirt. The only goal at this step is to turn shovel-sized chunks of sod over roots up so that the grass dies. Lay the first row of sod on the ground in front of you, laying subsequent rows onto the bare ground that is now where the first row of sod was growing. Repeat for the entire length of your growing area and after all the sod is turned over, you can walk away for a week to ten days to let it die.

Check Out Soil and Gather Amendments

During this time, check out your soil and gather your amendments. For me, amendments fall into two categories: nutritional and water/root management. Nutritional amendments, like fertilizers, compost, and wood ash, feed the plants throughout the growing season. Amendments, like peat moss, vermiculite, and sand, are used to alter the quality of your soil regarding how roots can grow in it and how water is held and drained. Since everyone’s needs are different, I will describe the amendments that went into my garden. I had a lot of rocks to deal with and a slight tendency towards clay but nothing that wouldn’t drain. I decided to add approximately an inch of peat moss across the entire garden to give some improvement in water retention and also to help break up some of the clay. I could have used more, but since my nutritional amendment, composted alpaca manure, would also help with soil tilth I decided an inch would suffice.

Compost

Compost is a touchy subject and opens up huge debates that I’m not going to weigh in on. The stuff I use is made from the composted manure of my parents’ alpacas. When their pens get shoveled out, the “beans”, straw, and whatever urine is mixed in gets piled in rows about four feet at the base and maybe three feet tall. I turn them and let them sit for a few weeks; then, I turn them again until it reduces down to a dark brown, highly potent, all-natural fertilizer that has never failed to grow large and bountiful versions of whatever plant I nurture with it. There are plenty of other ways to make compost, and depending on the quality of the stuff you end up with you may or may not need other methods of fertilization. For my garden, the compost I make is the bulk of the nutritional input. I also dig in some fall foliage to the garden bed, and both wood ash and plant waste are tossed onto the manure pile throughout the year.

After the week has passed, spread half of your amendments onto the overturned sod, which should be mostly dead anyway. You are about to finish it off for good on the first of two rounds of real digging. Start in the same position as when you were removing sod. Drive the shovel through the amendments, dying sod, and as much soil as you can bite off with a good kick. Rock the shovel a little to free any small stones and scoop the load forward, away from you, just like you did with the sod. Unless they come up easily, disregard any large stones you clang the shovel off if they are more than a couple inches down. They will be dealt with in the next round. Once you finish a row, you should have a small trench dug with a pile of dirt in front of it. Go back about six inches, or half a shovel head length, and dig the next row, using the materials you turn over to fill in the trench you just dug. Take your time to chop up any big chunks of sod that are left and cover anything green that happens to have survived. Do this for the entire garden. It’s tough work but not the worst, and when you are finished with this round you will already have a result on par with rototilling. An adult man in decent shape should be able to dig a 10×5 area in about an hour, maybe 90 minutes. In subsequent years, the input is significantly reduced, so don’t fear that this admittedly difficult part of the process will have to be repeated annually. After digging, cover with the second half of your amendments, and get ready for the final dig.

New Date for Jim Cobb Basic Food Storage Class

Hello everyone

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.

Basic Food Storage with Jim Cobb

Taking the Past and Use it To Prepare for the Future

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…

Food

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

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.

Shelter

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.

Security

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.

Sanitation

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.

DIY Mosquito Trap That Really Works

DIY Mosquito Trap That Really Works!

In summer time, one of the main things that keeps people from enjoying their outdoor spaces is mosquitoes. Nothing ruins a backyard barbeque or even just a relaxing evening outside faster than a swarm of mosquitoes attacking your skin. While there are some solutions for a mosquito problem, most of them are pricey, made from possibly toxic chemicals, and require frequent reapplication.

If you’re looking for a chemical free and cheap solution to a mosquito problem, look no further!

You can make your own mosquito trap from less than $5 worth of ingredients.

There may be a lot of traps out there, but this one uses the mosquito’s natural behavior to trap them.

Just like the pitcher plant, which lures bugs into its belly, this trap uses a bait liquid that attracts the flying pests into a plastic bottle with a funnel top that keeps them stuck inside. The best part? It only takes minimal DIY skills to make.

Materials for the trap:

  • A 2 litre plastic soda bottle
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Duct tape
  • Black paper or other opaque materialMaterials needed DIY MosquitoTrap

How to make the mosquito trap:

To make the trap, you first wash out your plastic bottle and remove the label. You can use any type of plastic bottle, but we found that a 2 litre works best. Using your craft knife, cut around the top of the bottle just under where it starts to narrow into the neck. It can be helpful to draw a line with a permanent marker.DIY Mosquito Trap 1

Be careful with your craft knife! If you don’t have one, you can always cut a small hole with a regular knife, then cut around the bottle using scissors.DIY Mosquito Trap 2

Take off the top. Turn the top of the bottle upside down and put it inside the body of the plastic bottle so it makes a funnel, then tape in place with your duct tape.DIY Mosquito TrapThe top of the bottle funnels the mosquitoes into the body of the bottle. Once in the bottle, they aren’t equipped to turn around and fly back out.DIY Mosquito Trap

Cover your bottle with something opaque such as black or kraft paper, vinyl sheets, or even duct tape.DIY Mosquito TrapYou can wrap it after you add the liquid to check the level of the liquid in the bottle.DIY Mosquito Trap

The bottle needs to be covered because mosquitoes like dark places, and they will be more drawn to the bottle.DIY Mosquito Trap

DIY Mosquito Trap

Ingredients for the bait liquid:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 packet “active dry yeast” (about 2 teaspoons)

How to make the mosquito bait liquid

Boil one cup of water, and then add your ¾ cup of sugar to make a simple syrup. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, pour it into a heat-safe bowl. Then add your cup of cold water and allow it to cool.

Following the directions on the package, add one packet of active dry yeast, or two teaspoons if you don’t have the premeasured packets. This is the kind of yeast used for baking, not brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast. You add it to lukewarm water (no hotter than 90 degrees F) to encourage growth without killing off the yeast, as it will die at higher temperatures.

Pour this liquid into the container, making sure that it doesn’t reach the neck of the bottle, so the bugs have a space to fly all the way in.

Why does this mosquito trap work so well?

This trap uses the natural instincts of these airborne pests to draw them into a place they can’t escape. Mosquitoes are attracted by carbon dioxide, and the combination of yeast and sugar water releases this carbon dioxide.DIY Mosquito Trap

The carbon dioxide rises from the opening in the bottle to attract the mosquitoes. They fly into the cloud of gas and then down into the bottle to check out the sugar water as well, guided by the funnel. The black covering on the trap draws them as well, especially the female mosquitoes, who like a dark place to breed. Once inside the bottle, the mosquitoes can’t turn around and fly back out.

The key to these traps is to put more than one out and combine them with other control methods. While they will attract and trap some mosquitoes, there are just so many of the flying pests that they can’t completely clear an area. So while your DIY mosquito trap will catch some bugs for you, always remember to also pour out any standing water, plant mosquito repellent plants like lavender, or burn citronella candles. These DIY traps are a great addition to a natural mosquito control arsenal.

The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Yeast

The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Yeast

There are many ways to make your own yeast, but arguably the easiest way is to grow a sourdough starter. To do this, all you have to do is capture wild yeast using flour and water.

Though there are other methods that are fairly easy, I recommend this method for a couple of reasons. First, it involves basic ingredients that everyone already has on hand: flour and water. You can start your yeast today and not have to run to the store. Second, wheat for the flour can be grown on the homestead for those looking to be as self-sufficient as possible.

It’s also a proven method that has been used for thousands of years!

Sound good? Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Supplies

Make Yeast Ingredients

Flour – Any unbleached, wheat type flour will do except self-rising as it has baking soda added to it. You can use all purpose, bread flour, whole wheat, or rye.

Water – It’s important that the water is non-chlorinated as chlorine will kill wild yeast.

A Large Jar or Container – For your jar and stirring device, use non-reactive materials like stainless steel, glass, or plastic.

A Spoon or Stirring Device – Clean cloth or coffee filter and a rubber band or string.

Instructions

 In a large glass container, mix 1/2 cup of water with 3/4 cup of any wheat type flour.

 Stir well, ensuring there’s no dry flour.

 Cover with a breathable but fly-proof lid. A small piece of clean cloth or a coffee filter and a string or rubber band should suffice.

Make Yeast Mix Ingredients

You can leave your container on your counter. It will work better if it’s kept between 70°-85°F. After 12-24 hours you should start to see bubbles.

Feeding Your Starter

You should also begin “feeding” your starter at the 24-hour mark. To feed your starter, take out half of it before adding another 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour. Then begin repeating this feeding process every 12 hours. Don’t worry, you don’t have to waste the removed half. It can be used to make bread or given to a friend to start their own. It will store in the fridge for several days.

Make Yeast in Jar

After 5-7 days it should rise until doubled between feedings and have a distinct sourdough smell. At this point, you can start using it to make sourdough. Always feed it before using and leave at least 1 cup of starter to ensure you don’t have to repeat the process! Different recipes will require different amounts of starter.

If at any time you notice an “off” smell, mold, or pinkish color, discard your starter and try again. The starter may darken, but it shouldn’t look moldy and should only smell like sourdough.

Storing Your Starter

After your starter is established, you can also store it in the refrigerator with a tight lid. The cool temperature slows down the yeast, and therefore it won’t need as much food. If stored in the fridge, you should feed it about once a week and let it rest on the counter for about 2 hours each time you feed it.

If you know you cannot take care of your starter for an extended period, you may choose to dry it. First, feed your starter and let it sit until it’s good and bubbly. Then spread it in a thin layer on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet(s) or dehydrator rack(s). Then let it dry at room temperature. Once it’s completely dry and brittle, you can break it up and store it in an airtight container. The drying process can take up to five days.

To rehydrate your starter and begin using it again, you can soak each 1/3 cup of dried sourdough pieces with 1/4 cup of water until the pieces are fully dissolved. This may take several hours with occasional stirring. When it’s all dissolved, begin feeding it every 12 hours without discarding any until your starter has begun to bubble and rise again. Then you can resume normal feeding and usage.

This no-nonsense method of capturing wild yeast can provide you with delicious bread and increased self-sufficiency. Keep a sourdough starter in your kitchen for their flavor, practicality, and rich heritage.

DIY Survival Gear Class with Jim Cobb

Come out to our store and see all the exciting things Author Jim Cobb will be showing all of us. It is going to so much fun and very educational.

Saturday August 5th 2017. 10am -12pm

Store location: 940 S Pine St, Burlington, WI 53105

You can sign up online, email, phone, or stop in.

In DIY Survival Gear, Jim will show you how to craft your own gear using common household materials and even items that we might otherwise just throw away. Some of these will include:

  • Fire Starters
  • Seed Tape
  • Rocket Stove
  • Various uses for Altoids tins
  • Buddy Burner
  • And More!

Cost $10.00 includes gift.

website: www.shtfandgo.com

email: shtfandgo@gmail.com

Sun Drying Fruits and Other Foods

The ability to preserve your own food without refrigeration is an important preparedness skill, it’s also something that’s fun to do and can help cut down on your grocery bills.

Sun Drying Foods

Sun drying is one of mankind’s oldest and most reliable ways to preserve food. Archeological sites in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia show this method of food preservation has been used since 4,000 B.C.

Sun drying is actually pretty simple; it relies on the sun and airflow – that’s pretty much it. While newer methods like electronic dehydrators speed up the process, sun drying is a slow gentle process that can really bring out the flavor of your food. It’s also a reliable method of preserving food during an emergency.

What can you Sun Dry?

You can actually sun dry just about any type of food; that being said, fruits are the safest thing to start with and are preferable because of their high sugar and acid content – something that helps prevent spoilage during the drying process. During an emergency you could use this method to dry meats and vegetables, but during normal conditions I would advise using indoor methods unless you really know what you’re doing.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Hot, dry, breezy days are best. A humidity level below 60 percent is best.
  • A minimum temperature of 85ºF is required, but the higher the temperature goes the easier it will be to dry the food.
  • It takes several days to dry foods out-of-doors, so before undertaking this method make sure you keep an eye on weather reports.
  • At night, fruits must be covered or brought inside to prevent moisture from seeping back into the food.

How to Preserve Fruit by Sun Drying

The first things you’re going to need are some good drying racks.

Small wood slats, bamboo, grill grates, and stainless steel screen mesh are all good material to use for the racks. You can also use cake racks or build small wooden frames covered with cheesecloth. Just remember that your racks cannot be solid, as you need air to circulate around the drying food.

Avoid any grates coated with cadmium or zinc. These metals can oxidize, leaving dangerous residues on the food.

Pretreating Fruit: Most fruits need some type of preparation before the drying process can begin.

  • Fruits with pits should be halved and pitted
  • Light-colored fruit like apples, pears and apricots should be soaked in lemon juice or an ascorbic acid wash to prevent browning. Soak the fruit in the solution for 3-5 minutes
  • Cutting your fruit into uniform pieces will help them dry more evenly, and at the same speed.

It’s time to start drying some food.

Place the pretreated fruit in a single layer on the drying racks. Then place your racks in an area that receives direct sunlight, and a good breeze. Try to pick an area away from animals, traffic exhaust, insects and dust. Once the food is placed on the racks in direct sunlight, place cheesecloth or netting around the racks to keep off dust and keep out insects.

  • At night, make sure you bring your food indoors or cover it to prevent moisture from seeping back into the food.
  • Turn food once a day, or flip the racks if you have dual layer racks.
  • If possible, place a small fan near the drying tray to promote air circulation.

Fruits and vegetables take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to dry in the sun, depending on your local conditions. When the food is just about two-thirds dry, move it into a semi-shady but airy area to prevent the food from getting scorched by the sun.

Pasteurization & Conditioning

Before storing Sun dried foods, you should condition and pasteurize the food.

Conditioning Dried Fruits

To improve storage times and to ensure the safety of your food dried fruits should be conditioned before storage. Conditioning evenly distributes moisture present in the dried fruit to prevent mold growth.

  • Cool the foods on the trays.
  • Place cooled dried fruit in a plastic or glass container two-thirds full; seal and store for 7 days to 10 days.
  • Shake the containers daily to distribute moisture. If condensation occurs, place the fruit in the oven for more drying and then repeat the conditioning process.
  • Check for any signs of spoilage.

Pasteurizing Sun-Dried Fruits

Pasteurization is especially important because it will destroy any insects and their eggs. It can be done using either a freezer, or an oven.

  • To pasteurize using an oven, place the food in a single layer on a tray and then place in an oven preheated to 160°F for 30 minutes.
  • Maybe consider a solar oven to dry and to pasteurize product for long term storage. It would be off the grid sustainable and adjustable for low heat and ventilation to dry.
  • To pasteurize using a freezer, simply seal the dried food in freezer plastic bags and place them in a freezer set at 0°F for 48 hours.

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How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants

How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants

Sometimes you need to find a balance between sun and shade, depending on the conditions in your backyard, as well as the crops that you are growing. However, even if you have plants that require full sun, they may be getting too much light, particularly in the summer months when the weather is very hot. This harmful light can bleach out leaves, and disrupt the growing process, even in plants that supposedly thrive in very hot weather. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to prevent this from occurring.

1) Know what to look for.

White leaves that look like all of the color has been bleached out of them is the most obvious sign that your plants are being harmed. By the time that you see this, it may be too late. The sun can harm the inner structures of the leaves in ways that are undetectable to the naked eye. You may end up with stunted growth, fewer vegetables than normal, or even plants that do not grow at all. Unfortunately, there is no true way of knowing that your crops have been harmed until the bleached or discolored leaves pop up. Once they do, be sure to spring into action.

2) Cover your plants with a sunshade or other material.

There are special sunshades that you can purchase to cover your plants, and as long as they are made of organic materials, they will work nicely. You do need to steer clear of plastic and other man-made materials, as they can actually keep the heat in, causing additional damage to your plants. (This is why plastic makes a good winter cover.) If you don’t feel like purchasing a sunshade, you can use burlap or bolts of cotton that can be loosely wrapped around each plant. These will allow air in, while keeping most of the heat out. Just be sure to remove them as soon as the weather cools down.

3) Keep the soil moist.

Water is incredibly important, even more so when the weather is hot. Check your soil daily to make sure that your plants have enough moisture. If it gets too dry, the damage caused by the sun’s heat will get even worse. You also need to be careful about the time of day that you water them. If water ends up on the leaves during the hottest part of the day (usually mid-afternoon) their “sunburns” will get even worse. This is why it is recommended that you water your plants either in the early morning hours, or in the evening once the sun has begun to set.

4) Use mulch.

Place mulch around the base of your plants. This will protect the root systems and keep moisture in. The mulch will also absorb some of the heat from the sun, preventing it from harming the stems and roots. Without this mulch, the soil will get very warm and the roots might begin to “cook,” further harming the plant from the inside out. You don’t want to place too much mulch on the ground however, a layer that is around two inches thick will work nicely.

Bowfishing for Survival

Bowfishing for Survival

Related image

Planning to bug out along the waterways, rivers, or coastal areas?

Great! You’re in the right hands.

In this post, I’ll teach you a new skill (and an effective way of gathering food while out there) – bowfishing for survival.

Also referred to as archery fishing, this practice involves using your bow to catch the fish. And you can easily do it in shallow water or from your little boat- making it one of the most flexible adventures on planet Earth.

Sounds interesting, right?

You’ll discover even more exciting details as you read our full bowfishing guide which I’ll walk you through in a few moments…

 

WAIT…if you think that archery fishing isn’t practical or you can’t do it, just think of the Indians who reside by the Amazon River and rely on bowfishing to catch their daily bread.

 

Bowfishing for Survival – How To Catch Fish With Your Bow:

 

Arm Yourself With the Right Bowfishing Equipment

Just like any other job, bowfishing requires you to equip yourself with the right equipment.

If you’re a serious hunter, I believe that you have most of these tools, so you’ll just need to pack them into your backpack and head to the waters.

If you don’t have them, don’t worry. You can get them anytime you want…they’re readily available on the market at reasonable prices.

These equipment include:

– A bow: yes, this is bowfishing, and you’ll need a bow to make it work. But which bow should you use? I’d suggest that you go for the compound or recurve bows. Clearly, these will give you the best results.

Both bows share a number of aspects and will offer sufficient drive force to send an arrow right into the heart of the fish…plus they consume less space in your boat.

– You’ll need a set of arrows in your bowfishing endeavors. But don’t make the mistake of picking just any other type of arrow. The perfect set should comprise of arrow made using light wood or fiberglass material. They should also have a sharp pointer that easily pierces through the fish.

– Hey, you’ll also need some bowfishing reel…and I mean the best bowfishing reel, not any reel.

(Optional, depending on the fishing situation) bowfishing gear includes gloves, rubber hip waders, and sunglasses with polarized lenses.

 

I assume you’ve the above “tools of work” with you right now, right?

Let the fun begin!!

 

#1. Pick a suitable water body

Choose a water body that will enable you to catch fish and give you the desired results easily. If you prefer a shallow after body, be sure to fish around your target fish- particularly close to the grasses and weeds that provide cover. And, of course, make sure the environment is clean so that you can see beneath the water surface.

Typically, you should be within a range of 3-4.6 meters (10-15feet) from the fish you wish to bow down. Ensure you don’t cast a shadow over the fish as this might spook and frustrate your bowfishing efforts.

Also, consider approaching your target from the upwind location.

 

#2. AIM your Target fish

Get ready for the most important step of bowfishing- aiming your target.

“How exactly do I do that?”

Are you wondering already?

Well, all you have to do is point your bow at the target fish and shoot it…nothing new

But there’s one trick you need to learn to correctly shoot that fish you’re targeting:

That is, how to point your bow at the fish you wish to catch. See, the light traveling from one medium to next (air to water in this case) results in refractions. Thus, you’ll see the refracted image (the apparent fish) of the fish you’re targeting more clearly on the water surface.

And if you point at the apparent fish, your arrow might go high, and you’ll perfectly miss your target!

Many bow fishers have learned this lesson the hard way, and if you ask them, they’ll all give you this piece of advice:

Point your bow as low as possible!

 

#3. Don’t Forget this Important Bowfishing RULE:

What if the fish appears in a different location? For instance, let’s say the fish appears about 6m (20 feet) away and 60cm (2feet) underneath the water surface. In such scenario, it means the location has doubled…If it appears about 3m (10 feet) away and 30cm (1foot) underneath the water surface, then you MUST point your bow 10cm (4 inches) low.

…and you’ll have to double the 10cm as well. In other words, you’ll have to point 20cm (8inches) low.

It’s that simple!

If you utilize this 10-4 rule in all your bowfishing practices, I can guarantee you that you’ll bag more fish than you can imagine.

 

#4. Time To Make That Shot!

Congrats! You’re on the last step to catching your target fish with your bow.

But there’s a real problem here:

You have to hit your target such that it dies right away…and that means that you’ve to target the first half part of the body of the fish. Needless to explain, this section contains many vital organs such as the brain, meaning you’ll kill it on the spot.

We all know that fish can swim really FAST in water. So, you don’t have much time between pointing and shooting. I believe that your archery experience has taught you speed and accuracy which you’ll need to apply here.

What if you’re targeting the bigger fish- like alligator?

You’ll need to shoot them at least twice so that you can strike them down.

After a lucky shot, pull in the line quickly. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to catch fishes at a single stroke with bowfishing!

 

Wrap UP

I told you bowfishing isn’t that hard! After reading through the above guide, I believe you can catch some fish with only your bow and arrows.

This is a fun-filled practice that does take you no time to perfect it. With the right archery equipment and our expert guide above, you’ll be awed by how easy it is to catch fish!

4 Keys To Keep A Newly Planted Garden Growing Strong And Healthy

newly planted garden
Newly planted tomatoes off to a good start

The first few weeks after planting is a critical time for vegetable plants. It is when tender seedlings and transplants are at their most vulnerable stage.

Up to this point, most vegetable plants have spent the majority of their life inside. They were watered regularly, and kept sheltered from wild temperature swings and the burning hot sun. And now, they have been planted outside to deal with the harsh realities of Mother Nature. Talk about tough love!

But with a few simple things in mind, you can get your newly planted garden off to a great start. And that of course, means a great harvest later!

Here’s a look at 4 of our biggest and best tips to get your garden growing into a lush, vegetable producing machine.

4 Tips To Keep A Newly Planted Garden Growing Strong

#1 Keep Foot Traffic Away From Root Zones

Whether you have a traditional garden, raised rows, or raised beds, keeping foot traffic away from your plant’s root zones is critical to their long-term success.

In the first few weeks of a newly planted garden, vegetable plants are desperately trying to establish a healthy root system underground.

newly planted garden
Mulching around each plant with compost is a great way to feed them too!

Those roots are crucial in soaking up much-needed water and nutrients all summer long. They also hold the plants strong against wind, rain, and the heavy load of veggies in mid-summer.

If the area 12″ around each plant is left undisturbed, it allows roots to more easily grow and expand. Compacted soil from heavy foot traffic in this zone can leave roots shallow and small. Be careful as you walk through the garden to stay in the walkways, and off of the root zones.

It’s one reason raised rows, raised beds and container gardens are so effective. By nature, they are designed to keep the root zones out of harms way.

#2 Mulch Those Plants!

More than anything else, be sure to apply a healthy dose of mulch around the base of each plant!

Mulching helps retain valuable moisture in the soil. That keeps young plants from drying out too quickly, and you from having to water too much. Mulch also aids in keeping the soil temperature regulated from the burning hot sun and cooler nights. Consistent soil temperature goes a long way in keeping plants growing strong.

Last but certainly not least, mulching plants helps keep weeds out. Those weeds steal valuable nutrients from the soil needed by young plants. So keeping them out is more than just keeping the garden looking pretty.

What are the best garden mulches?  Grass clippings, finished compost, straw and shredded leaves all work wonders.

#3 Watering Smart

When and how much to water a newly planted garden can be a tough chore to size up.

Too little water and plants shrivel up.  Too much water can keep them from developing a deep root structure needed to grow strong.

A good rule of thumb is that plants need about an inch, to an inch and a half of water per week. That equates to about 1/4 of a gallon of water to each plant’s root zone 3 times a week. If it’s not falling from the sky, then you need to supplement.It is best not to water every day unless you are having extremely hot weather. If you water every day, the plants will never send roots deeper. That results in less hardy and underdeveloped roots and plants.

#4 Boost With A Little Natural Fertilizer

The best time to fertilize a vegetable garden is when it first starts growing. A little boost of all-natural nutrients when plants are young can help them power up for the season.

We like to apply a little compost or worm casting tea to each plant about every 14 days, for the first 45 days after planing. After that, it’s best to stop fertilizing. Fertilizing too late in the season, or applying too much will keep plants growing leaf and root structure, and not vegetables.

http://www.prepperwebsite.com/

How to Heat a Survival Shelter Without an Indoor Fire

How to Heat a Survival Shelter Without an Indoor Fire

Staying warm without fear of burning up

Building Fires

A fire lay is excellent at warming you up… So long as it’s not inside your survival shelter

Nothing in the backcountry gives off heat like a roaring fire. That’s why our recent ancestors built fireplaces in their log cabins – and more remote forebears burned fires in whatever structure they called home. And since it’s not wise to have a fire in a primitive hut made of sticks and dry vegetation (or a cave, for that matter), it’s good to know of other ways to heat your living and sleeping area. By digging a hot rock heating pit in the dirt floor of a shelter, you can enjoy the heat of a fire – with far less danger to yourself and your shelter. Here’s how.

Start by digging a small pit in the floor of your shelter, a little bigger than the bowling ball sized rock that you will be using to transfer heat. Dig the hole to match the rock’s size and shape, and find a flat rock to cover the pit. Make sure that you get your two rocks from a dry location (water-logged rocks tend to explode when heated, so do not use rocks pulled from rivers, streams, and ponds). Ensure that everything fits together well before you heat up the stone, since a 1200 degree F rock isn’t a fun thing to juggle. You could even recess the hole of the pit surrounding the cover, so the flat rock sits flush with the dirt floor (not a trip hazard). When it’s time to use your set-up, heat up your pit stone in a fire for about an hour (but don’t heat the lid stone), carry the stone to the pit (a shovel works well), and drop it in. Seal the pit with your flat stone lid, and bask in the radiant heat that will last for several hours.

For sustained heat, you could always have another rock of a similar shape and size to your first rock at the ready, so that when the first rock is done cooling off, the second rock can be swapped in its place to keep the heat going. This trick works best in very dry soil and with a red hot rock. Just clear all flammables out of the way as you move the near-molten stone toward the waiting pit!

Ever used hot rocks as a heat source for survival? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

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How to Make an Improvised Gas Mask

How to Make an Improvised Gas Mask

Last week I took part in the GoRuck Constellation here in Tulsa. Unlike the GoRuck Challenge with its hefting of heavy logs and doing lots of push-ups and squats, Constellation is a scenario-based event in which you learn urban survival skills and the techniques of escape and evasion from former U.S. military special operators. The emphasis is on skill acquisition instead of beating you down.

I had a great time and learned a lot during the event. One of the most interesting skills I learned was how to make an improvised gas mask from a 2-liter bottle and dust mask in the event tear gas or pepper spray is being used during civil unrest. After making it, we actually had to put it to the test by getting pepper sprayed in the face by our cadres.

And it worked. At least for me. Some folks still got some spray in their eyes. It looked really unpleasant. When creating an apparatus like this, you’ve got to be sure you put it together just right!

I thought it was fun skill to have and it could actually come in handy one day. So below I walk you through how to make an improvised gas mask in under 10 minutes.

Now is this thing anywhere close to a perfect gas mask? Far from it. But if you ever need it, it’s better than nothing.

How to Make an Improvised Gas Mask

Gas masks work by intaking “polluted” air through the “snout” of the mask, and then allowing that gas to pass through a filter before you inhale it. Professional gas masks have filters that can absorb and neutralize very fine particulate.

This jerry-rigged version is only designed to protect your eyes, mouth, and nose, while creating a physical barrier between larger particles in the air and your face. It’s obviously not going to protect you from truly toxic chemicals.

Materials

  • 2-liter soda bottle
  • Dust mask
  • Duct tape
  • Knife

1. Cut Off the Bottom of the 2-Liter Bottle

At the bottom of the bottle, you’ll find a seam. Using your knife, cut along the seam until you completely cut off the bottom of the bottle.

2. Cut a U-Shape on the Side of the Bottle

Remember to remove the plastic label that surrounds the bottle. Some of it will still be left on the bottle after you’ve taken it off. Cut your U-shape so it removes that remaining label. The U’s bottom should be about 2 inches above the bottle cap. The width of your U should be just large enough to fit your face into it. You don’t want to make it too big, as that would allow gas or pepper spray to enter your mask more easily.

3. Remove Bands From Dust Mask

Grab your dust mask and remove the bands from it. Put them in a safe place; we’ll be using them here in a bit.

4. Place Dust Mask Inside the Bottom of the U

Place your mask inside the bottom of the U-shape you just cut. You want the mask to tilt a bit downwards towards the bottle cap. As you see, this creates a small chamber between the bottle cap and the mask.

5. Duct Tape Mask to Bottle

Get your duct tape and secure the mask to the bottle. You want to make sure you have a solid seal around the mask area and no gaps where bad air can sneak in. Err on the side of too much duct tape.

Another view of the taped dust mask.

6. Duct Tape the Edges of Your Mask

You’ll likely have some jagged edges where you’ve cut the bottle. To make the mask a bit more comfortable, place some duct tape along those edges. The added benefit of the duct taped edges is that it allows you to get a better seal around your face — which is crucial in its effectiveness.

7. Cut Four Slits Near the Sides

We need to cut some slits into which to place our mask’s bands. Cut two slits near the top of the mask — one on each side — and another two four inches below — again, one on each side.

8. Thread Bands Through Slits and Tie Off

Thread your bands through the slits. Start from inside the bottle and thread out. Tie off the ends with an overhand knot so they don’t come out.

9. Duct Tape the Slits

To prevent air from entering your mask and as added security for your bands, place some duct tape over the slits.

10. Punch Some Holes in the Bottle Cap

Use your knife and punch a few holes or slits into your bottle cap. This will allow you get a bit of air when you have the gas mask on. Based on my experience from Constellation, the slits weren’t enough to get adequate air intake. I’d recommend cutting a small square to let in a bit more air.

Cap screwed back on after slitting holes.

You’re Ready to Face a Post-Apocalyptic World

There you go. How to make an improvised gas mask in under 10 minutes. Now you’re ready to face a Cormac McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic world in which the fabric of society is torn apart and all hell has broken loose.

http://www.prepperwebsite.com/

How to Make Pemmican: Native American Survival Food

Pemmican

The PEMMICAN Manual
by
Lex Rooker
Pemmican is a concentrated nutritionally complete food invented by the North American Plains Indians. It was originally made during the summer months from dried lean Buffalo meat and rendered fat as a way to preserve and store the meat for use when traveling and as a primary food
source during the lean winter months. When pemmican was discovered by our early Frontiersmen (explorers, hunters, trappers, and the like) it became a highly sought after commodity. The Hudson Bay Company purchased tons of pemmican from the native tribes each year to satisfy the demand. The basic unit of trade was an animal hide filled with pemmican, sealed with pure rendered fat on the seams, and weighed
about 90 pounds. As long as it was kept away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight, it would last for many years with no refrigeration or other method of preservation.

Download Full Recipe

Seven 15 Minute Preps to Get Ready for Hurricane Season

Seven 15 Minute Preps to Get Ready for Hurricane Season

Seven 15 Minute Preps for Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane preparedness is key for anyone who lives within a few hundred miles of the coast.  Hurricanes and tropical storms can form and make landfall in less than 24 hours.  Impacts are felt far inland, not just the coastal areas.  Here are a few steps to get you started when preparing for the hurricane season.  Each prep takes 15 minutes or less to complete and will put you on the right track to be better prepared.

Keep Your Vehicle Gas Tank At Least Half Full Throughout the Season

When tropical storm or hurricanes threaten, one of the first commodities to go is gasoline.  Always try to keep your tanks half full.  This can keep you out of long lines at the pump, allow you to get a jump on an evacuation, or even prepare you for rationing if it occurs.

Check Flashlights, Lanterns, Radios, and Other Communications Gear

Home Emergency Supply KitPull those flashlights and lanterns out of the cabinet and light up the room!  Be sure the batteries are good and the light is functional before you need it.  Turn on your AM/FM radio and turn to a couple different channels to be sure it is functional.  This is a great time to check and see if you can tune in to your local emergency station from your homestead, work, or other location.  If you can not tune in to the emergency station, identify a secondary alternative.  This is also a good opportunity to test two way communications gear or family communications plans with the family.  And don’t forget to keep a few extra sets of batteries on hand.

Validate Your Insurance and Secure Important Documents

The worst time to find out you forgot to pay your insurance bill is after you lost a roof or got flooded because of a storm.  Take the opportunity at the beginning of the season to Validate Insurancelocate the latest copies of your insurance documents (flood, windstorm, home, renters, etc.) and store them in a waterproof container (a freezer bag works great).

Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires a 30 day waiting period after payment of premium before the policy goes into effect. If you are on the fence about whether or not to get it, make the decision now so your policy is active before the season ramps up.

Keep your documents in a readily accessible location in case you have to quickly grab them to evacuate.  This is also a great time to identify and store your policy number and phone number used to file a claim.  If your policy documents get lost or destroyed due to storm damage, not knowing those numbers can  delay the claims process.  Having this information can help streamline your filing and keep your claim on the top of the insurance company’s claims pile.

Load Test Your Generator

Most people never test their generator until they need it.  Of those that do test it, the majority just start it up and let it run.  Take the few minutes to start up your generator and plug in a load.  Include anything you plan to run during or after the storm.  Let it run for 10-15 minutes, but if you have more time, the longer the better.  This will allow you to confirm the generator can handle the expected load after a storm.  It will also allow you to approximate the rate of fuel consumption.  As a follow-up, calculate the amount of fuel you have and how much runtime it will provide.  Get more fuel to store if required.  Also, don’t forget the oil!

Plan Your EvacuationPlan Your Evacuation

If you plan to evacuate, review your evacuation route and potential alternates.  Identify potential food and fuel stops along the routes.  Be sure to account for the fact that you will probably be dealing with traffic so you will travel less distance on a tank than usual.  Ensure you have a place to go that is outside of the impact area.  Relatives or friends are great, but confirm with them ahead of time.  If that isn’t an option, identify a lodging location and check it out before you need it.  Hotel and motel rooms fill up fast once an evacuation is triggered.  Make reservations ahead of time and pay attention to the cancellation policy.  For many major chains you can cancel with no charge up to 24 hours prior to check in. So you can cancel if the storm changes course.  You don’t want to be stuck at the run down place that charges by the hour!

Start Building Your Home Emergency Supply Kit

One of the easiest and most important supply kits to develop is your Home Emergency Supply Kit.  It is already started with the non-perishable food in your pantry and water in your water heater.  Add on a little from there each time you shop online or go to the grocery store.  Since your home is your storage bin, it provides ample space for storage and organization of supplies when compared to bag based go kits.

Keep Cash on Hand in Small Denominations

Cash is KingWhen the power goes out, electronic payment methods and ATM machines don’t work.  Don’t expect to pay with credit on your next run to refill your gas cans.  Keep cash on hand and in a secure location.  Small denominations are important unless you want to use that crisp $100 Benjamin to pay for $20 worth of wood and tarps at your local hardware store.  Many retailers quickly run out of the ability to make change, so small denominations allow you to keep more of that money in your pocket.

The List Goes On

When it comes to preparing for a Hurricane there is a number of items that need to be considered and many decisions that must be made.  These are just a few items that are quick and easy to get out of the way at the beginning of the season while also preparing you for a number of other hazards.

The more time you devote to pre-planning these matters before hand, the less stress they will bring when the incident occurs.  For kids and adults alike, having a plan provides a small sense of comfort and control during the chaos of a disaster.

 

http://www.prepperwebsite.com/

Free Educational Survival Classes – Come and get educated! Plan, Prepare, Protect!

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.

Events

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.

Garden Hacks – Repurpose Everyday Items

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When it comes to preparedness – or life in general – there’s a ton to buy. When we can reuse something, it helps. One, there’s the direct cost application. Two, looking at something and seeing its ability to be something completely different has enormous benefits in opening the mind in general.

If we’re preparing for a crisis, gardening and the ability to provide fresh foods in the gulf of winter and spring take on a far greater importance than just a hobby or a passion. Happily, there are some things that can be salvaged for free or found at very low-cost that make a world’s worth of difference. Channel your inner Julie Andrews with me as we look at a few of my favorite things. There’s some non-gardening uses for each listed as well.

DVD Racks

Years ago I picked up a free DVD rack to be a bean trellis for a Rubbermaid tote garden. I have since been in love, and it’s one of the things I consistently watch for at yard sales, curbside pickup listings, and foreclosure cleanup sites.

I got lucky, and mine have a rounded top at the sides. If you find some that don’t, just glue on a milk jug cap for some of its applications.

They go way beyond trellising.

They work for the far ends and sometimes central support “poles” of low poly tunnels or low hoops for garden beds and rows. A little free bamboo or PVC to span distances, some binder clips (Dollar Tree) to clamp the plastic on, and you’re in business.

They can also be set up long-wise down the middle of a bed to form an A-frame style “camping tent” poly cover if desired, which works really well for peas, with roots and salads to the outer verges, and converts well to later tomato beds.

They also form plant racks for inside near windows, against pale walls, or outdoors to keep salads conveniently close or make use of vertical height.

Mine all hold square plastic coffee tubs (they need a length of string along the front unless it’s a really well-protected area), #2.5 cans (the large tomato or peaches can), and V8 bottles without any modification at all. They’ll hold 2L bottles on their sides for longer, shallow containers, or Lipton and Arizona tea jugs of both types and sizes either cut off vertically or horizontally.

I can do square juice jugs as well, but they overhang enough to make the dog tails an issue on their sides, and I’m more comfortable with some twine or wire looping them to the back bar.

I prefer the open-dowel construction type, just because it leaves me options. I can add thin saplings, bamboo or thin sheathing to convert them if needed, but the open frame allows more light and nestles the rounded-bottom containers well.

Outside Gardening the DVD racks have the ability to hold larger canned goods and bottles of water, be used to dry clothes as-is or be half of a frame of dowels or saplings to create a larger drying space, and the poor kid used to have a pair that were hung with a curtain, topped with a chunk of (free) plywood, and outfitted with $2 in hooks to hang her uniform shirts and pants, like a mini closet that was also the mirror and vanity.

Storm Doors & Windows

These guys don’t multipurpose to the same degree as the DVD racks. They’re really handy to run across, though. One, having a backup is never a bad thing. Two, they are ready-made cold frames and pest exclusion frames.

I like a 3’ width for garden beds, permanent or bounded, and they fit pretty perfectly as-is. I can tighten up and use straw bales to create a different kind of cold frame with them laid across the top. I can run them in series or as individual structures.

An A-frame can be pretty quickly mocked up and is one of the easiest builds for getting your feet wet. It’s also handy in that it sluices ice and snow build-up and is more resistant to winds. The doors and windows get hinged at the tops, any stick or tool props them so they don’t flip the frame or ka-bong off your noggin, and cats, dogs and goats are less likely to stand on them.

Just the mesh from storm doors and windows is useful. So is mesh that comes off when you repair those.

It’s going in the garden, so some stitching or a little duct tape on both sides to repair a rip isn’t an issue. All it’s doing is protecting seed-stock squash from cross-pollination or keeping creepy-crawlies from eating the brassicas, lettuce, and beans before you can.

The advantage to taking out the mesh is that it’s an even easier build yet. There’s no hinges (unless you hinge the whole frame) and there’s less weight. That means more materials become potentials for the frame itself. You can tie some loops to go around a brick or post, or add some eye hooks to keep it in place.

Do keep the builds small enough that you can lift or flip by yourself once plants are in there. Some posts to the inside of the bed or rows can create a pivot point for flipping.

Painter’s/Construction Drop Cloth

My first set of drop cloth came from a part-time job in high school. I have been in love ever since.

It’s not super expensive, and it’s a toss-up whether the construction poly or the garden poly is cheaper to buy new, but it’s usually the totally clear construction drop cloth in our area. The 5+ mil I use is fairly durable in Southern wind storms, sun rot, ice and freezing rain, and Mid-Atlantic snow.

Contact handyman type businesses and painting businesses – for these as well as the windows and storm doors, and the mesh from those. Usually they’ll only use them for so long and as with the mesh, a few duct tape patches and the paint stains won’t impede too much structurally or light-wise.

Should you see them pop up cheap or free somewhere, don’t neglect those fancy-people outdoor grill, furniture and sofa covers, or any clear, thick, translucent vehicle covers.

Like the totally clear and colorless painter’s plastic, they all make for great garden hoop houses. Some of them can also be outfitted with sturdier construction to form a more permanent greenhouse.

Outside Gardening drop “cloth” or storm doors and windows can also be assembled into wind and snow-blocking shields around exposed doors at the home, or can enclose part or all of a porch to turn into a mudroom in an emergency or during snowy weather. Doing so creates a buffer chamber so there will be less polar vortex entering the house with every human and pet.

Plastic can also be used to cover windows and doors inside or out to decrease drafts and increase insulation value.

The painter’s plastic has the same value for livestock in extreme environments, especially if a normally warm climate is experiencing sudden return-to-winter weather after flocks or rabbits have adjusted to 60s-70s-80s, or if it’s so rare to have severe weather, coops and hutches were never built for extreme cold.

Drop cloths and poly covers can also be used to line bedding for the young, ill and elderly, so that every sneeze and cough or “mommy, I feel- blech” does not lead to disinfecting a mattress as well as changing bedding.

Wire Shelving

Really, do you ever have enough shelving? I particularly like seeing the simple-frame, open-weave, metal-wire shelving for bathrooms, laundry rooms and closets pop up in junk piles, yard sales, and Craigslist, because it’s super handy, super versatile stuff.

Like the DVD racks, it’s indoor-outdoor tiered plant stands, either year-round or during seed-starting and transplant season(s).

It can also be wrapped in our reclaimed plastic sheets or form part or all of the structure for salvaged windows or poly covers to make a mini greenhouse on a porch, beside a house or garage, for growing later and earlier in the season.

Then it gets even more useful.

Even if the whole is a little rickety, the shelves themselves can be removed and then turned into trellises. They can be rearranged around their original legs-stand or affixed to bamboo or the legs from old tables or chairs to form short garden fences to discourage turtles and rabbits, and limit dogs running through beds.

As an added bonus, if you have a senior gardener or an injury, sinking some of those sturdy table legs or a bundle of 3-4 larger bamboo canes 18” deep and up to hip or rib level can be a major aid in keeping them gardening.

The sturdy supports can then be covered with netting or sections of storm door mesh to act as a further bird and pest exclusions.

Outside Gardening there are endless uses for shelving, from water collection to organizing anything at all. Wire shelves also offer a lot of airflow for drying clothes.

The shelf “planks” of wire units can be used to patch and shore up fences and coops, especially somewhere something dug. They can be used to cover vehicle and house windows to limit damage from thrown bricks or if a storm window is damaged during a crisis.

They can also be reconfigured into a cage or crate for rabbits or small birds, to expand flocks or because they happened to be stacked from Craigslist and Freecycle runs ahead of time and now there’s a puppy to crate train or weather has shifted and we’re worried about the next generation of layers.

The shelves can be used to sift the largest chunks out of compost or soil in some cases, help form a gabion to slow water and keep it from increasing erosion, or can be lined with mesh or cloth for drying foods or seeds.

The shelves can usually be easily reconfigured with larger or smaller gaps than originally intended to facilitate buckets, larger boxes, or drying seeds and grains.

They don’t pop up as much as they used to, but some can still be found on the freebie sites as curbside pickup, or for <$15-20. They also sometimes pop up at Salvation Army/Goodwill, and if you cultivate contacts, sometimes you get your hands on just the shelf parts because the rest of the racks have been lost during multiple transfers or all the pieces weren’t donated.

Garden Reuse-its – My Favorite Things

These are just a few of my favorite things to re-purpose for growing veggies. The world is full of things like laundry bags we can use to prevent caterpillars and squash bugs on our cabbage and beans and zucchini, and old carpeting we can layer deep in garden walkways to cut down on maintenance time.

Any time we can reuse something, it cuts down on waste, making for a better world – not just the world around us. If we’re saving time and money, and if we’re developing some creativity and a new way of looking at things, we increase our preparedness and better our own world directly.

http://www.theprepperjournal.com

Colony Raising Rabbits: How To Get Started

Colony raising rabbits isn’t hard, but there are a few considerations that can make setting up a rabbit colony go more smoothly.  When I brought home our American Chinchilla breeding trio, I had researched raising meat rabbits extensively.  I knew I wanted to raise my rabbits in a colony.  I found good information on the Colony Raising Rabbits Yahoo group, and the Facebook groups Colony Raising Rabbits, and Rabbits in Colonies.  What I found most useful was examples of how other people set up their rabbit colonies.  I decided to share some pictures of what has been working for us, in hopes that it may help someone else.

Colony Raising Rabbits: The Basics

I’ll put the some of the most valuable bits I’ve learned into a list, because I like lists.  Then I’ll show some pictures of our set up, and talk a little bit more in depth about what’s been working for us.

  • Provide at least 10 square feet per adult.  More is better
  • Provide multiple levels for jumping
  • Protect your rabbits from weather and predators
  • Use baby saver wire on the bottom
  • Keep things clean with litter boxes and deep litter
  • Provide several locations for feeding to reduce competition
  • Provide lots of nesting places and materials for the does
  • Include bucks who are used to a colony for higher quality of life, but you may have unpredictable timing of litters
  • Have your grow out cage ready, because 12 weeks isn’t as long as you think it will be
  • Colony raising rabbits is fun!

Space and Safety

This is a house rabbit cage that our neighbors gave to us.  It is made up of Neat Idea Cubes and zip ties, with PVC tubes for stability.  I really like some aspects of the NIC cage, but it does have a few downfalls.  It has to be used for indoor bunnies.  The one inch squares mean rodents will walk right in, and raccoons will have no problem reaching in for a snack.  Our colony is in the garage and we thought they were safe and snug, until we realized there was a hole behind the furnace where rodents were getting in.

If you’re planning on raising backyard rabbits, please, please, please make sure they have weather appropriate housing.  The previous owner of this cage was trying to breed bunnies in the rain with only a tarp and a heat lamp for shelter.  Major fire hazard and NOT fun for the wet baby bunnies!

If you plan to do any rabbit breeding in a NIC cage make sure you add baby saver wire.  If you don’t, the baby rabbits will be able to walk right out of the cage.  Make sure it goes at least 6 inches up, or the babies will reach an stage where they are big enough to hop over and squeeze out.

How Much Space Do They Need?

Most sources on raising rabbits for meat say that 6 feet of space is adequate for a doe and her litter.  The NIC cage by itself is 18 square feet.  I was unable to find any size guidelines for colony raising rabbits when I first started researching, so I started with all three rabbits in it.  If it was too small I could move the buck out into a separate hutch.

I started to notice the rabbits fighting after we had our first litter.  The biggest indicator was tufts of fur about the cage.  I didn’t want to move the buck out though, because they were still engaging in social grooming, cuddling, and he would let the baby bunnies sit on his back.  It just felt wrong to isolate him.  Instead I added a metal baby yard with chicken wire and hardware cloth around the bottom.

I’ve since learned that the minimum amount of space for a rabbit colony would be more like 10 feet per rabbit, which is the amount of space we have currently.  It’s also very important to have multiple levels for the rabbits to jump off and down on.  Our current set up provides a lot of jumping opportunities, which is one thing it has going for it.

Since adding the attached yard we haven’t had any more indications of fighting.  After we process the first litter if I want to keep raising rabbits for food, I definitely want to expand the colony quite a bit.  A more humane rule of thumb would be 5 times the size of the rabbit.  My rabbits are 8 pound adults, so I’m looking at potentially 120 square feet as a minimum size for my current herd.

Keep it Clean

Of course an important part of rabbit care is cleaning up.  This current set up does take more effort than hanging hutches might.  My adult rabbits are all litter box trained.  In the summer I dump the box once a day and wipe down anything the babies have soiled.  Rabbits are generally cold tolerant, but when it is colder, I use do use deep litter.  Each day I add dry straw on top of any soiled spots in the cage and litter box and dump the litter box when it is full.  When it warms up, muck it out and give everything a good scrub.

The babies can be very messy, so I’ve found it works well to place a small litter box under the hay feeders.  Rabbits poop when they eat, so the bunnies get used to using the litter box, and it’s easier for me to keep up with the output.   They tend to use it as a nest box, but the falling hay keeps it dry enough for them.

You can use any waterproof container as a litter box.  For small rabbits you could even use the bottom of a five gallon bucket or other found items.  Cat litter boxes work quite well, as do plastic tubs.  If the walls are too high, you can cut a door into them with an exacto knife.  You can use any absorbent material that’s save for rabbits to eat such as wood chips, straw, hay, or paper pellets in their litter boxes or as deep litter.

Food And Water In The Rabbit Colony

Rabbits are very territorial so it’s important to have several food bowls, hay racks, and water bottles. When our second doe kindled she decided that the entire bottom was her territory.  She chased all the other rabbits up to the top!  I made sure to space out feeding stations so that everyone got their fair share until I move the first litter into the grow out pen.  The basic feeding and watering rabbits is the same regardless of their housing.

The delivery method isn’t important as long as it’s clean.  The kind of feeders that mount onto the sides tend to get spilled less, but you don’t have to start out with expensive equipment.  Our first food dishes I found on an abandoned lot (bleach is my friend).  Our first hay racks were made out of ice cream buckets.  My favorite water bottle spouts are the kind that fit onto reused 2 liter bottles.  It’s not hard to provide lots of feeding stations when you get creative.  Ikea bag holders also make nice hay racks, as long as you have plenty of more attractive things for them to chew.

Breeding and Kindling

When you’re colony raising rabbits with the buck included in the colony, the breeding takes care of itself.  I know this is not true for all rabbits, but my rabbits didn’t start breeding until they were their adult size, and have so far spaced out their litters further than the 4 weeks that is biologically possible.  Keeping the buck in the colony means that you’re never quite sure when babies are coming.  I’ve handled this by making sure there are always empty nest boxes available, and plenty of nesting materials like hay and straw.

My does build very nice nests even though they are first time mamas.  One benefit of using a deep litter method is even if they don’t build a nest, the babies will still be born on the straw.  If the kits do get cold, you may still be able to save them if you find it early enough.

Should You Separate The Weaned Rabbits?

Rabbits breeds and herds can vary as to when they reach their grow out size.   You may want to consider splitting your colony once they reach sexual maturity at 12 weeks.   I often keep mine for four to six months before sending them off to freezer camp. It’s a good idea to sex them and separate when they are around 8 weeks old.

If you keep your colony all together, it is liable to grow very quickly.  If you are growing for market, that could be a very good thing, but if you are like us and only eat a rabbit every week or so and want to select for certain traits it may be better to keep them separated.  We do not have room for several colonies, so we refurbished an old chicken coop into a grow out hutch.   If you must keep your rabbits in a hutch make sure they are rodent proof.  There should be no spaces larger than 1/4 inch, and use wood and screws to take down any wire.   You can still use a deep litter method, even over the top of a wire floor.  Just make sure there’s enough head space to accommodate the higher floor.

Go For It!

There is a lot of information available on how to raise rabbits for meat.  Not as many people are trying colony rabbit raising or sharing about it.  I hope this post answers some basic questions for those who are considering it for their own meat rabbits.

Original Article can be found here

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