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Mistakes You’re Making With Your Cast-Iron Skillet

Everyone should own a cast iron skillet or dutch oven.  You can’t really call yourself a prepper without one, but what are some mistakes people make when cooking, cleaning, or storing cast iron cookware?

Cast iron can be tricky. Here are some things to avoid when you’re cooking with cast iron.

The cast-iron is the workhorse of many a dedicated home cook, and for good reason. Constructed in one seamless piece of metal, it’s tough, conducts heat efficiently and, when seasoned properly, has a nonstick surface. If fact, a properly seasoned skillet, will cook an egg as good as any high tech modern cookware. There’s almost nothing cast iron can’t do, but you have to treat your pan right.

What are some of the most common cast iron mistakes and how to fix them.

You don’t understand seasoning

It’s so easy to say, “Seasoning” without actually understanding the science and what actually it means. Seasoning refers to a layer of polymerized oil that has been baked onto the surface. Seasoning makes your skillet release food easily, clean up quickly and remain stain- and rust-free. Some cast-iron skillets come pre-seasoned, but that won’t last forever, so you’ll have to learn how to season cast iron properly. Seasoned cast iron will have a smooth, non-greasy, lacquered surface. An unseasoned skillet, for example, will have a grey or dull appearance, and will become shiny and closer to black in color when seasoned properly. Even if your skillet comes pre-seasoned, for best results right out of the box, consider seasoning it yourself before you use it.

Frying pan made of cast iron, various fresh vegetables and spices on a white wooden kitchen table.

You’re not seasoning the skillet right

If you’re just rubbing a layer of oil onto the surface of your skillet, you’re not seasoning. Seasoning involves a chemical reaction made possible through heat. Here is how to season your cast-iron skillet:

  • Apply a thin coat of any kind of vegetable oil to the entire pan (inside and outside and the handle too)
  • Place the pan inverted in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for an hour
  • Turn off oven and allow pan to cool inside the oven.

You’re not cleaning it correctly

How to clean your cast-iron skillet:

  • Immediately after cooking, rinse in warm water, sprinkle with a bit of baking soda, and scrub gently with a nylon brush. The baking soda neutralizes any flavors and odors from what you’ve just cooked, and has antibacterial properties.
  • Since water will cause cast-iron to rust, don’t soak your skillet (thanks to seasoning, you shouldn’t need to), and be sure to thoroughly dry it with a dishtowel.
  • To help maintain the existing seasoning for as long as possible, apply a thin coating of vegetable oil while the pan is still warm.

Hand pushing a sponge into a water-filled skillet

You never use soap

Think you can’t wash your cast iron with soap? Wrong! Cast iron can take almost anything you throw at it, even a little dish soap. Yes, if you take care of your skillet perfectly, you might never need to suds the skillet up. We all make mistakes, though, there may be a time you need to soap up to clean it up well or to help you if it gets rusted.

Do you have a rusty skillet? How to get it looking like new again?

You use harsh chemicals

While soap can be used on cast iron sparingly, there is no need for any harsh chemicals to clean your skillet ever— if it’s rusted, Never use oven cleaner or scouring powder.  Use baking soda, a towel and, if needed some dish soap. That’s it.

Seasoned cast iron skillet

You’re not re-seasoning

Season cast-iron once, and you’ve got a kitchen workhorse. Well you do for a while. Season cast-iron regularly, and you’ve got a kitchen workhorse for a lifetime. Every time you use your cast-iron cookware, you’re wearing some of the seasoning down, and eventually it won’t function as well. So season it again whenever you see dull spots is easy to do. It’s simple to season it whenever it’s out and your oven is on.

You’re not doing enough cast-iron cooking

While seasoning does wear down with use, the more you use your cast-iron cookware, the better it performs. Every time you use it, you’re also adding new molecules of polymerized oil. Over the long haul, your cast-iron will darken and grow shinier.

You get scared off by a bit of rust

One day, you will take your cast-iron skillet out of the cupboard, and there will be a spot of rust on it. Yes, it happens even to the most careful cast-iron caretakers. But don’t worry; it’s not going to hurt your cookware at all. You can take steel wool to it. Just be sure to wash and re-season before you use it again. Here are some more tips on dealing with, and preventing, rust.

You’re not preheating

Cast-iron performs best when heated gradually, so give it a few minutes to pre-heat before adding your food.

You’re overheating

Because cast-iron is so efficient at conducting heat, it can get hotter than what you may be used to with other cookware. So start with a lower heat setting as you get used to how incredibly efficient your cast iron skillet actually is. And if it gets too hot (you’ll know, but one sign is that it’s smoking), turn off the heat, let it cool down a bit, and then get back to cooking.

You’re using the wrong spatula

Technically, you can use any spatula (and any tool) on a cast-iron skillet. However, metal spatulas provide the best results, especially when cooking delicate food such as eggs.

You believe the myth that you can’t cook acidic foods (like tomato sauce)

It’s a total myth that you can’t cook acidic foods in your cast iron skillet. Some are under the impression that acidic foods can discolor cast-iron, but a baking soda scrub should eliminate any discoloring. Some people think that acidic foods cause iron molecules to leach out into your food, but that’s actually a good thing! Cast-iron cooking can add significant amounts of iron to your food and into your body.

So go ahead and try this chicken cacciatore recipe, which we affirmatively recommend that you cook in cast-iron.

You don’t realize how forgiving it is

So maybe as you’re reading this, you’re thinking about that cast-iron skillet you haven’t taken the best care of. Maybe you’ve made every single one of the mistakes listed above. That’s okay! Just scrub it down, re-season it, and start using it again. Cast-iron is forgiving like that. That’s why it will last forever…or at least until Thanksgiving…when you can try all of these holiday recipes tailor-made for your favorite skillet.

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Downloading Maps for Off-Grid or No Cell Signal

Have you ever wanted to download a map for when you don’t have signal or just simply want to conserve your battery by turning cell service off. Here’s a simple way to do just that.

Many people may not be aware that you can download Google maps for use when you don’t have signal.

Be aware you will have to refresh the map after a period of time since the data will automatically delete after a month, unless you save it again.

 

Open your Google Maps App and scroll, pinch and zoom to the area you want to download and the 3 hash marks Menu.

Then Click the “Offline Maps” Menu item.


Select Your Own Map

The Map will download

If you select the downloaded map you can navigate and search the area.

Be aware that the map will expire and not all search functions work properly.

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Heating and Cooking Offgrid RPG Gasifier Rocket Stove

RPG Rocket Stove Griddle Me This

Have you made plans for a backup way to heating and cooking off-grid?

Many people around the country are downsizing, moving into tiny homes, travel trailers, and school bus conversions.  Propane stove are usually the go-to cooking and heating systems.  This AirStream travel trailer has those appliances as well, but we wanted the ability to cook when and if propane was not available, and who doesn’t love the smell of wood stove burning on a cold snowy winter night.

When you install a small stove in a small space, there are a lot of safety concerns you need to consider.

  1. Distance to flammable items
  2. Make up/ Combustion Air
  3. Venting System and Clearances.
  4. Fuel Storage and Access
  5. Safety, Safety, Safety

When planning your stove location take into consideration all these concerns and more for your own situation.

Smaller stoves are available for even smaller situations.

Specifications:

40,000 btu RPG Gasifier Rocket Stove. Can operate on wood upto 17 inch long and wood pellets.

Flue Damper to control draft

Griddle Me This:  The attached Griddle serves two purposes.  (1) A flat griddle cooking surface (2) Heat exchanger for the stove.  The griddle is rotated sideways.

4 inch Stainless Steel vent pipe and adjustable elbows.

4 Stainless H-Style termination vent hood.

Stainless Steel wall backing plates with 1/2 inch aero-gel (R-7)insulation along walls and underneath stove to reflect heat into heating space.

 

 

If You have any questions leave a comment below.

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Diarrhea. How to Not Die from Dysentery.

How to survive diarrhea

By Rich- June 10 2019

Diarrhea kills more children per year than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. With 760,000 people dying per year, a simple solution could save 93%.

Knowing how to treat dehydration from diarrhea could save you or a family member. There are some very simple compounds you can keep around the house of cabin in preparation. Hopefully you will never need to use them, but it’s good to know how to use them and at what ratios.

First, what happens to your body while experiencing diarrhea?
You body becomes dehydrated so fluid levels drop, blood thickens, electrolytes are out of whack. Without a good balance, your body’s stops functioning correctly and organs begin shutting down. Your body needs a balance of electrolytes just like a battery needs electrolytes to function and without them, you won’t have enough juice to run your equipment (body).

Making your body absorb the fluids. There’s a little thing called osmosis. It’s a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane. When water is leaving the body at a high rate, you are obviously really sick. You to get your body to absorb the water as quickly as possible, we need to use science. We will create a solution to force the body to absorb as much water as possible, in return allowing you the time to heal, recorver, and most importantly, Not Die.

Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a type of fluid replacement used to prevent and treat dehydration, especially that due to diarrhea. It involves drinking water with modest amounts of sugar and salts, specifically sodium and potassium. Oral rehydration therapy can also be given by a nasogastric tube. Therapy should routinely include the use of zinc supplements ( https://amzn.to/2XH1aDd). Use of oral rehydration therapy has been estimated to decrease the risk of death from diarrhea by up to 93%.

Side effects may include vomiting, high blood sodium, or high blood potassium. If vomiting occurs, it is recommended that use be paused for 10 minutes and then gradually restarted. The recommended formulation includes sodium chloride( Table Salt), sodium citrate, (https://amzn.to/2WwG0qb) potassium chloride (https://amzn.to/2WyCfR1), and glucose (https://amzn.to/2KcVYnG). Glucose may be replaced by sucrose and sodium citrate may be replaced by sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda) if not available. It works as glucose increases the uptake of sodium and thus water by the intestines. A number of other formulations are also available including versions that can be made at home.

Find Links below for sources of ingredients.

Recipe:
Dextrose: 7 Tablespoons https://amzn.to/2KcVYnG
Sodium Citrate: 2 Teaspoons https://amzn.to/2WwG0qb
Potassium Chloride: 24 grams (about 2.5 teaspoons) https://amzn.to/2WwnmhR
Mix per 1 Gallon of Water

Zinc: 10 mg per day. https://amzn.to/2XH1aDd

Please share this article. This may save someone’s life someday.


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How To Build A Composting Toilet

Composting Toilet

Have you ever considered, “What if our modern plumbing system were to fail?”

Things could get really, really bad quickly, if you have never had to deal with human waste.

A composting toilet or sawdust toilet as people used to call them, could be a simple answer. There are some important things you should know before you jump in head first. Let’s begin with how and why a composting toilet would be a great alternative.

Just What is a sawdust toilet?

Simply put, a composting toilet turns excrement into a small bio-digester and converts waste into inert and safe compost. The idea is the same as composting leaves, grass clippings, and pretty much any bio matter.

Composting toilets use the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste. Waste entering the toilets is over 90% water, which is evaporated and carried back to the atmosphere through the vent system. The small amount of remaining solid material is converted to useful fertilizing soil by natural decomposition.

This natural process, essentially the same as in your garden composter by manipulating the environment in the composting chamber. 

The correct balance between oxygen, moisture, heat and organic material is needed to ensure a rich environment for the aerobic bacteria that transform the waste into fertilizing soil. This ensures odor-free operation and complete decomposition of waste.

When human waste is properly composted, the end product does not contain any pathogens or viruses (these are destroyed by bacterial breakdown). This nutrient-rich fertilizer can then be used on plants or around the base of trees, as part of the natural cycling of nutrients, reducing your need for commercial fertilizers and preserving local water quality.

A composting toilet must perform three completely separate processes:

  1. Compost the waste and toilet paper quickly and without odour
  2. Ensure that the finished compost is safe and easy to handle
  3. Evaporate the liquid

Now in saying that, composting toilets can come in many shapes and sizes ranging from a homemade sawdust toilets (which you can make from a simple bucket and a board with a hole in it) right through to major composting toilet systems like a Clivus Multrum (that can handle the needs of up to 30 people full time).

A sawdust toilet and a composting toilet are essentially the same thing, it’s just that some people look for information about sawdust toilets because they hear that sawdust is the best thing to add to a composting toilet. They are right in one sense that sawdust can certainly be used in a composting toilet, but there’s definitely other things that can be used effectively in a composting toilet.

What can you put in a sawdust toilet?

This will really depend on the composting toilet. If you’re a DIY’er and you’ve gotten yourself a 25 gallon bucket with a seat, what you can put in this type of composting toilet will differ greatly to a more elegant setup like a commercially produced toilet.

With most composting toilets, urine is caught in a separate container. Too much moisture can slow the bio-degesting process. Urine can be a good source of fertilizer on its own.

A compost pile really needs to be in the Goldilocks zone – not too cold, not too hot, not too dry and not too runny. If you find the ‘sweet spot’ then a composting toilet can be a welcome addition to any home and can operate smell free if done right.

If you’ve got a purpose built composting toilet like a you won’t have issues with excess urine as many of these options have urine diversion built in along with fans to help keep your composting pile at the right temperature and level of dryness.

How do you build a composting toilet?

This will depend on the type of sawdust toilet design you go for. If you’re going down the DIY route, there’s many different types of sawdust toilets you can make. Take a look at some of the images below to give you an idea of what you can make. The simplest toilet design is using a bucket. Seal the top with a gasket and build a small chimney so that air flow and natural convection will draw heat and moisture out of the bucket.

Many will use a 25 gallon bucket or barrel and place a plywood lid to seal the top of the barrel, attach a toilet seat with foam gaskets, and use pvc pipe to vent the holding tank upto 8-10 feet in the air to create a draft.


What happens when a sawdust toilet starts to smell?

If there’s a smell emanating out of your composting toilet then it’s fair to say “you’re doing it wrong”. Too much of anything can have an effect on your composting pile and how it works – for example, too little sawdust or peat moss in your toilet will give you an abundance of human waste when compared to sawdust.

If you’re not diverting urine, the pile can quickly turn into a sloppy mess that smells and gets full quickly.

Remember even though many people call these types of toilet systems ‘sawdust toilets’ they are in essence a composting toilet so you’re able to put a wide range of organic material in there, not just sawdust.

If you’re finding that your sawdust or composting toilet is starting to smell, why not try adding some of the following items to your pile to see if that makes a difference:-

  • Wood shavings
  • Food scraps
  • Garden clippings
  • Lawn clippings
  • Animal manures
  • Leaves and weeds
  • Hay
  • Coffee grinds
  • Straw
  • Leftovers from beer brewing or cider making
  • Shredded junk mail or newspaper
  • Rice hulls
  • Sugar cane bagasse
  • Peat moss

Are composting toilets safe?

Most definitely – as long as you follow instructions properly and keep your composting pile in working order, a composting toilet is very safe. The microbes and bacteria in the pile will break down any unwanted pathogens in the humus. This is why it’s sometimes a good idea to introduce a little dirt or other natural organic matter into your pile to help bump up the level of microbes all working to break down the pile into usable compost.

What’s the end product of a sawdust toilet?

Very simply you get what’s called humus. This is a top-soil like product that’s rich with organic materials and can be used on any garden where non edible plants are being grown. The humus can be used on fruit trees and any plant that you don’t directly eat. If done properly this soil won’t smell and is full of nutrients that plants just love.

Why not just dig a hole, or use my septic system?

If you’re wondering why people go to the trouble of installing and maintaining a sawdust composting toilet, there’s a whole bunch of different answers you could get. Some people want to live off-the-grid and make as little impact as possible to their environment. Others want to simply save water and if you have a septic system, they will need to be pumped eventually, and especially if not maintained. Some people don’t have the option of having water plumbed to their house from the mains, or rely on rainwater tanks for their drinking water, so reducing the amount of water you waste is essential.

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Make Firestarters In The Summer and Be Ready For Winter

For the above fire starters use Egg carton(paper not styrofoam!), dryer lint, sawdust/finer wood chips, melted wax.

Just add sawdust then lint, add more sawdust and then pour a little melted wax into each cup and poke and stir around. You can use old crayons for the wax as well. They burn great and help get your stove going easily in the middle of the night. Get all your family to help by asking them to save their dryer lint. Many family members contributed to the stockpiling of supplies and you’ll have enough to make it through winter easily.

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How To Tell Direction From A Wrist Watch.

Directions From A Wrist Watch
How To Tell Direction From A Wrist Watch

If you ever find yourself lost in the wilderness or adrift at sea with no way to tell which direction you’re traveling, an analog watch (or any similar clock face) can act as a compass and help you get your bearings. All you’ll need for this survival trick is an analog (not digital) clock or watch that’s set to the correct time and a clear view of the sun.

Hold the watch horizontally. This trick can be used anywhere during the day, when the sun is visible. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, North will be the lower bisection, and in the Southern Hemisphere, North will be in the upper half. . Lay the watch flat and face-up in your palm so that its face is parallel with the ground.

Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun. Turn the watch, your hand, or your entire body so that the hour hand of your watch is pointing directly at the sun. The time on the watch doesn’t matter, as long as it’s accurate.

If you’re having a hard time lining the hour hand up with the sun exactly, you may want to use a narrow object’s shadow to help you. Stick a twig or narrow post into the ground so that the shadow it casts is clearly visible. Then, line the shadow up with the hour hand of your watch. An object’s shadow is cast away from the sun, so lining your hour hand up with a narrow shadow is essentially the same as lining it up with the sun itself.

Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark to find South.This is the tricky part. Find the middle point of the angle between your hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark on your watch. Before noon, you’ll have to measure clockwise from your hour hand to the 12 o’clock marking, while afternoon, you’ll have to measure counterclockwise from your hour hand to the 12 o’clock marking. The middle point between the two marks South, while the point directly across from it marks North.

  • For example, if it’s exactly 5 o’clock in the afternoon and you’ve lined up your hour hand with the sun, South is the direction exactly between the 2 and 3 o’clock marks and North is the spot across from this point (exactly between 8 and 9).
  • Note that during Daylight Saving Time, your watch is most likely one hour “off” from the “real” time. If this is the case, substitute 1 o’clock for 12 o’clock before finding your North-South line.
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Bring Your Own Bandaids- Part 1, by A. & J. R.

Bandaids

Disclaimer: The following is for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should always consult your physician for any questions regarding your health or that of a family member. The authors are merely discussing items you may wish to have on hand to care for a family or group, for when a licensed healthcare provider is available but supplies are hard or impossible to come by. We write from the perspective of patients (a Type 1 diabetic with hypothyroidism and his wife who has had her spleen, gall bladder, most of her pancreas, and half a pinkie removed) and parents of …

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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New Date for Jim Cobb Basic Food Storage Class

Food Storage

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

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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.

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DIY Mosquito Trap That Really Works

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.

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The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Yeast

the-easiest-way-to-make-your-own-yeast-wide

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.

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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

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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.