All posts by msp_jason

Moved from the big city to the country to find a simpler life in which we pursue YHWH (God) through following his commandments while living off the land that HE provided.

Better Safe Than Sorry: Preparing For Possible Economic Collapse

Economic Collapse. That’s a pretty big statement with insinuations that directly influence your everyday life. When you stop and think about what that means, it can be daunting.

Because of this, it’s easy to brush off the idea of an economic catastrophe. It’s not just “other worldly” to most of us; it’s a huge unknown. It’s easy to simply disregard it as a problem too distant and too large to tackle.

But instead of ignoring the potential for economic disaster, just start preparing. Anything you do now will be better than nothing.

Start Now, Even If It’s Small

A big problem needs a big solution. But keep in mind; you have direct control over a very small portion of the overall scene. You are first responsible for your family’s needs. It is good to think about how to prepare to help extended family, friends and neighbors, but that must be secondary.

Before you factor in taking care of others, you need to set and reach goals that ensure your family is secure against disaster. Once these goals have been met, you can begin adding to that.

These goals are met just like any other: a little at a time. For example, just because you can’t afford a two year supply of pre-packaged long term storage, that doesn’t mean you can’t start stocking food. Instead, buy some extra canned or dry goods each shopping trip and build your supply gradually.

Check out how to build a year food supply for $5/week.

Don’t let the magnitude stop you from beginning preparation now. Little steps create big changes.

Secure Your Current Situation

Preparation efforts can be greatly eased by streamlining your current lifestyle. Cleaning up your “21st century” routine by doing things like selling unnecessary or little used luxuries and eliminating debt will go a long way towards preparedness for economic collapse.

For one thing, you are likely to have more cash available to put towards food, tools, and supplies. Second, eliminating anything that could weigh you down is important. Outstanding debt on your toys and nice car will not go away in an event less than utter collapse. The last thing you want is the possibility of a higher interest rate on your loans in the middle of a depression where your normal income may be hanging in the balance.

Along these lines, consider your current employment. Is it a job that’s likely to survive economic troubles, or will it be the first thing to get cut? Will your skill set be among those in demand during and after economic disaster?

While these things should not solely determine your career path, it may serve you well to consider them now. If nothing else, the security of your current job may influence your long-term preparedness plans.

The main thing to remember is this: Wise and responsible lifestyle choices in the current economic environment will not only make your life more secure now, it will minimize the damage during economic collapse.

Prepare For The Worst, Hope For The Best

What’s the worst-case scenario? If we’re talking about a total economic collapse, that means life as we know it is likely to cease.

Now, what is the worst-case scenario for you and your situation? This will depend on factors unique to your family’s current lifestyle and location. Those living in heavily populated areas may face greater challenges than people who live in the country or more remote areas.

Some geographical locations lend themselves to dealing with lifestyle disruption better than others. This is important to keep in mind as you move forward with preparedness plans.

For example, people who don’t live on city utilities have an advantage that many others do not. If the city sewer and water go down because of facility malfunction or lack of maintenance, there’s not a lot you can do. But if you simply need to get water from your well to the house, that may only require a way to power the well pump. Since there are various options for generators, sustainable power, or even a hand pump, this is certainly doable.

If you are able to put your family in a location that will minimize your worst-case scenario, do so.

Essentially, the worst-case scenario is your goal line when preparing. Start by prioritizing your family’s needs, and begin preparing from the foundation, working your way up. Make a list starting with items to address your most important needs, down to things that would simply be nice to have. This gives you a game plan to work from.

Once you start your plan in motion, you will find taking steps to control your situation is an empowering experience.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST

5 Steps to Protect Against Home Invasion

Millions of home intrusions occur every year. You can prepare now to minimize the chances of experiencing this, and to more effectively handle it if it does happen to you.

Most people don’t even know their home has been invaded until well after the fact, even in cases where the residents were home! These are instances where the burglar was after valuables, or something other than the intent to do harm to the occupants of the house. I have talked to people who literally saw the intruder in their bedroom and in their state of sleepiness did not realize who it was. Others never woke up while the thief was in their home.

5 Ways to Protect Against Home Invasion

Alert System

Obviously you need to know if something is going down if you’re going to address it at the time. You don’t want to depend on your own ability to hear or sense danger. You can install a home alert or security system that covers all points of entry. The main point here is to make you aware of what’s going on so you are not caught completely off guard. You can call the cops later.

One alert system that works well is a dog or two. It doesn’t have to be a canine that would try to aggress an intruder. If it has keen hearing and likes to alert you to any unusual noise, you’re on the right track.

Secure Access Points

Houses have many potential entries, namely doors and windows. By nature doors are a weak spot, and windows even more so. All exterior doors should be of sturdy build, without windows that can be broken out to access the locks by reaching through. You want a deadbolt on the door as well as a regular knob.

Windows should have secure locking mechanisms that cannot be defeated from the outside without breaking the window. Old wooden windows are by nature insecure since portions of the frame can be removed or cut away to take out the glass. All windows should be equipped so you are alerted if they are broken, whether that is an electronic alarm device, or your canine friend.

Secondary Barriers

Consider installing solid doors and keyed locks on bedroom entrances. Should someone defeat the exterior of your house, having another level of protection could be valuable. If you have a “safe room” in your house, make sure it has at least the same level of security as an exterior entrance.

Valuables should at least be well concealed and difficult to access. A safe or hidden and anchored lock box is a good idea for anyone who has cash, jewelry, or other valuable items in their home. This is especially important when you are away from your house.

Light The Way

Many if not most home breaks occur in the dark. Criminals prefer the cover of darkness. You can use this to your advantage as well. However, you need the ability to see in the dark if necessary. You may need to identify a subject in the dark as you challenge them with your gun in hand, or see so you can navigate your house without running into furniture. A flashlight on the nightstand is a common choice, but how about installing a wall switch in your bedroom that lights up the hallway and out into the living area, for example?

Know The Plan

If you live alone, your plan for a home intrusion will probably be quite simple. But if you have one or more family members, or children in the household, you should come up with a basic, easy to remember plan. Are you going to go investigate the sound of breaking glass, while your spouse gathers the children from their rooms and moves to the master bedroom? Will you and your spouse move to the baby’s room and hole up there with your shotgun while dialing 911?

You know your situation better than anyone. Make preparations to minimize the threat of break in, and have a plan to respond if it occurs. The extra peace of mind will be worth it alone.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST

 

5 Ways to Protect Your Home from Winter Weather

Of all our seasons, winter seems to be the one with the higher odds of catastrophic events. Winter is the one season when many things can go wrong. There are more natural forces at work during the winter than during other seasons. Those include freezing temperatures, high winds, rain, snow, ice and shorter days.

What can go wrong you ask? Anything from freezing pipes to loss of power and heat. As a prepper, we often look at individual events. What happens if we look at seasonal events as a way to prepare for the unexpected?

5 Ways to Overcome the Threat of Winter in Your Home

1. Water Supply

The first consideration is to protect what you already have in place. That means making sure that your water delivery system is well insulated so that pipes do not freeze. Your local county likely offers building code standards that list minimum depth for in-ground pipes. Consider those a guideline and improve them where you can. If the code calls for 18-in in-ground pipe depth consider extending it to 24-inches for those winters when the temperature is colder than normal. Another part of protecting your existing water supply is to make sure that outside walls are insulated enough that indoor piping cannot freeze. Create insulated covers and housing units for exposed outdoor pipes and spigots.

Develop a backup plan for loss of water. This may be as simple as freezing 1-5 gallon containers of water in a chest freezer. Remember that outdoor temperatures can remain below freezing even without snow or rain. Do not count on collection of water from snow as it may not be available. Frozen water also helps keep frozen food cold during power outages.

2. Emergency Power

High wind can easily topple trees that in turn knock out power lines. In a massive storm, it may take the electrical company days or weeks to restore power. Solar power generators, gas power generators, and even electric automatic standby units such as those offered by Generac can keep your home in power when traditional power sources fail. Solar energy systems can also be beneficial and can be used long-term.

3. Heating

Keeping your house and outbuildings heated during electricity loss is difficult if you rely solely on electrical heating systems. A possible alternative is to install wood heat such as a wood stove. An excellent option is an old-fashioned kitchen stove that is designed for cooking. These not only produce heat, they provide a place to cook food if gas or electricity services are not available. Geothermal heating is also an option. The ground beneath your home is warm even during the cold winter months. Geothermal heating systems use a heat pump that circulates air. These systems can be operated on limited power such as a generator.

We recently wrote a post about several DIY heaters you can make to stay warm in a pinch.

4. Flood and Excessive Rain Control

Flooding may not enter your mind initially when you think of winter weather. However, depending on the area you live in, flooding might be more likely than snow or an ice storm. Coastal areas are especially prone to flooding in the winter.

Surviving major floods requires pre-thought and planning. Property owners can focus on two aspects of floods. The first being how to draw water away from their structures and the second is how to escape the property when the first option fails. Begin with the second option and that is escape. Perhaps keeping a small motor boat such as an aluminum skiff or a fleet of canoes is an option. Knowing when to evacuate is also an important part of surviving a flood. Make an evacuation plan and stick to it. If you live near a river, make a depth meter that easily measures river depth. If the river rises to a specific point, consider leaving.

Options for drawing water away from your home may include features such as French drains. These small ditches are filled with pea gravel that allows the water to enter then and flow downhill away. Those work well for directing water during heavy periods of rain. They can be added to by connecting gutter systems in such a way that downspouts empty directly into the drains. In-home, basement sump systems can empty into a French drain too.

5. Emergency Roof/Leak Systems

The fastest way to repair the roof in a storm is to use a tarp. However, keeping a tarp on a roof in a storm presents its own problems. One solution is to use a layered system. Start with plastic tarps to cover the roof. To the top of those, add canvas tarps that become waterlogged and add weight to the tarp structure. The edges will need to be secured so that the wind cannot undo the system.

The goal is not to fix the roof, but to cover it so that the threat to water damage is removed until the storm passes. The best time to fix the roof is when it is not raining. To that end, plan on evaluating your roof each summer and schedule repairs as needed. Good maintenance is the first step in preventing emergency situations.

What concerns and ideas do you have?

The suggestions to overcome these winter dangers offers you a chance to consider and prepare for events that are specific to your area. Please feel free to add to these ideas in the comments.

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Butchering Your Own Meat: Not as Scary as You Think

Every year when we got our deer, I’d take them to the local butcher. Butchering seemed like something beyond our ability — something that was best left to the butcher. Only with the price of butchering going up, I made the decision that the next deer we harvested we’d butcher it ourselves.

Honestly, I was a little nervous at first but it’s really not that big of a deal to cut your own steak. It’s actually pretty satisfying.

How to Butcher Your Own Meat

Butchering is a skill that takes time to develop so we obviously can’t cover everything you need to know in one blog post. Below are the basics to help you get started.

Tools for the Job

What you’ll need are good hunting knives and saws for cutting through bone. We have two different types of saws that we carry out in the field. One is a smallish saw called a Sagen saw that we use to cut through the rib cage and the pelvis. Another is a Wyoming saw that we use for quartering. You don’t have to get those particular brands, but they do make the job a lot easier. If you can, a big survival knife like a Bowie knife will also be helpful for cutting through big cuts. Beyond that, you don’t need anything else, but we decided a boning knife would work well.

The other things you’ll need is plastic wrap, freezer paper, tape, and a pen.

Get the Heat Out

When we shot our last buck, we knew we’d need to field dress and skin the animal before even considering butchering it. When dealing with a freshly shot animal, the first rule is to get as much heat out of the carcass as possible. That requires skinning and field dressing.

The reason for getting the heat out is to prevent the meat from spoiling. A deer’s body heat can destroy the meat quickly, which is why most hunters do this out in the field. The other reason is that the deer’s stomachs will start to fill with gas and bloat the animal. If you don’t get the organs out, you’ll have a mess on your hands in the form of stomach contents all over your meat. And that will make the meat taste awful.

Field Dressing and Skinning

There are many ways to field dress and skin. We usually start above the breastbone in the neck and make a slit down the middle of the animal all the way to the anus. You’ll need to cut through the ribs where they meet the breastbone on one side, and you’ll need to cut through the pelvis bone so that you can quarter the animal. Spread apart the chest and the pelvis so that you can get the organs out. You’ll want to find the trachea and cut it at the top and then start removing the connective tissue around the organs. Eventually, you’ll pull the entire goopy mess of organs out and remove all of them including the intestine.

At this point, you need to wash out the cavity with cold water. After you do that, look for the tenderloins on the inside of the lower back. They’re two strips of meat on either side of the spine. Cut them out carefully and bag them for refrigeration. These are the most tender part of the deer.

Next, you need to skin the deer. Many people hang the deer and carefully remove the skin for later tanning. After you get your deer skinned you can start butchering and quartering.

Butchering Your Meat

At this stage, it’s important to have a guide. There are many good guides with pictures in books and on the Internet that show you how to cut up your deer into recognizable pieces. We started first by removing the backstraps, which is the meat along the deer’s back on either side of the spine. This is the second most tender meat.

If you haven’t caped your deer, remove as much neck meat as you can for roasts, stew, or for grinding into hamburger or sausage.

Removing the Legs and Quartering

You’ll need to remove the lower part of the legs which have no meat per se. The best way to do it is run your knife around the joint, severing the tendons. Then, you can snap the legs off by twisting them at an odd angle.

Quartering the front legs just require you to follow the shoulder with your knife and snap the joint. The rear legs need a saw to cut each haunch from the pelvis. Once you have the four cut off, the rest of the deer meat should be cut from the back and ribs for grinding into hamburger or sausage.

Cutting Roasts and Steaks

This is where a guide will serve you well. As you cut the pieces from the bone, you’ll want to follow the cuts as your butcher would cut them. As you cut, you’ll want someone to rinse the meat with water and then wrap the meat in plastic and then with freezer paper, like a holiday present. Package and write the cut on the package with the date and pop it into the freezer. Yes, it’s that easy.

It Gets Easier

As a beginner, this process will probably take a while and you’ll not have as good of cuts initially. However, the more you butcher your own meat, the faster it will be and the better cuts you’ll get. Eventually you may find yourself as more of a meat artist than a butcher.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST

Why You Should Be Storing Whey Protein Powder

The list of proven health benefits from whey protein just seems to keep growing. Whey refers to the rich liquid that’s created during the production of cheese; it is distilled to its purest essence and sold in a convenient powdered form that’s not only affordable and easy to store, but loaded with nutrition and health benefits.

Whey protein powder is often associated with bodybuilders buying it in huge vats and making protein shakes with it after a grueling workout. The truth is that just about anyone can benefit from eating whey protein, and its ease of storage is a big plus for preppers. The kidneys, digestive health and blood pressure all benefit, and it offers protection against many types of cancers and chronic illnesses. 

7 Reasons You Should Store Protein Powder

1. Lowers High Blood Pressure

A 2010 study found that the consumption of whey protein reduced high blood pressure significantly in study participants. Whey protein’s affordable cost and absence of side effects were praised by the study leaders.

2. Heart and Cardiovascular Health

Studies have also shown that eating whey protein can assist in the reduction of the risk of heart issues and cardiovascular disease. Including whey protein in your diet can go a long way in having a healthier heart and fewer cardiovascular issues.

3. Kidney and Bladder Support

Your kidneys work hard for you every day, filtering your blood and eliminating metabolic residue from the body in the urine. If this process breaks down, health issues like gout can set in, manifesting as pain in the big toe along with acute arthritis symptoms. Rheumatism, osteoarthritis, kidney issues and eczema can all be caused by high levels of urea and other toxins in the blood and body.

Whey protein assists in the cleansing and release of waste products by priming the kidneys and maintaining their renal filters. Whey protein also stimulates urination so that wastes and toxins can be released, reducing the risk of bladder infections.

4. Gastrointestinal Support

Whey protein is also valuable in the regeneration of beneficial intestinal flora. The lactose within the whey helps to inhibit harmful gut bacteria as it supports and nourishes the bacteria your gut needs for health. The lactic acid in whey helps to stimulate optimal intestinal function. While food fiber does this as well, but whey protein supports it at a deep chemical level. It helps regulate digestive function while also reducing flatulence and bloating.

5. A Safe, Natural Diuretic

Too much salt in the body can cause tissues to retain water and other fluids. In extreme cases, this excessive fluid in the tissues can cause edemas in the legs, eyelids, hands and even organs. Whey protein is loaded with the mineral potassium, known for its ability to offset the effects of too much salt. Whey protein will support the elimination of excess fluids and salt without causing mineral imbalances, as all too many chemically-based diuretics can.

6. Reduces Risk of Stroke

Studies have shown that the reduction in blood pressure from whey protein reduces incidents of fatal strokes as much as 40 percent.

7. Protection Against Cancer and Chronic Illnesses

A study at Ohio State University in 2003 found that cells treated with whey protein had much higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione, a compound known to suppress the free radicals that often lead to cancer. The buildup of free radicals within the body is associated with the development of a number of chronic diseases, from cancer to heart disease to many forms of diabetes. Since whey protein leads to higher antioxidant levels, eating whey protein will help your body fight the harmful free radicals that would otherwise endanger your health.

Perfect for Preppers

All of these health benefits are further enhanced by the fact that whey protein has no risks or side effects. It is affordable and comes in a convenient powder form that can be easily added to a smoothie or shake, your breakfast cereal, and even dinner main dishes or sides. Consider adding whey protein powder to your food storage plans and start reaping its long list of health benefits today.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST

Vitamin C: More Than a Cold Remedy

When crisis strikes, you’ll want to be in the best physical condition possible. One of your biggest allies in this fight both short and long-term is a vitamin you already know about — vitamin C. You’re probably already aware of how awesome it is in combating colds and getting you back on your feet quickly. It’s an excellent immune system booster as well as a powerful antioxidant.

Health Benefits of Vitamin C

However, what you might not know about vitamin C is that it’s been proven to have a wide range of other health benefits that don’t get talked about quite as much. Life Extension magazine has profiled a number of the impressive health benefits of vitamin C. Here is an overview of what taking vitamin C can do for you and your health — followed by some information about the ideal vitamin C dosage that just might surprise you.

1. Prevention of Stomach and Digestive Problems 

Recent studies have shown that vitamin C plays a role in protecting the stomach area against oxidative damage that could otherwise progress to some pretty serious stomach issues, including gastritis and ulcers. Taking more vitamin C is also connected with a lowering of the risk of stomach cancer.

2. Respiratory Issues and Asthma

Vitamin C is well-known for reducing instances of the pesky common cold as well as shortening the duration if a cold if does happen to strike you. However, newer studies are showing that the powerful antioxidant effects of our friend vitamin C can assist with reducing the symptoms and effects of much more serious respiratory problems such as asthma.

3. Reducing the Impact of Less-Than-Healthy Lifestyle Choices

If you’re a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. However, as you’re working on it, keep taking the vitamin C. Those persons who smoke cigarettes but also take vitamin C tend to experience less health effects from smoking.

Studies have shown those who take vitamin C regularly show less depletion in vitamin E, which is often triggered by smoking; this was compared with smokers who didn’t take any supplemental vitamin C at all. Vitamin C has also been found to improve overall cardiovascular health, an area often damaged or highly impaired in persons who smoke cigarettes. Damage to the DNA is also reduced, and by extension, a reduction in inflammation that often follows DNA damage has also been reported.

4. Combating Diabetes

Some studies have also shown that taking Vitamin C helps to reduce and regulate blood glucose levels, which is particularly important for those persons who are diabetic. A number of other key blood values also seem to benefit from taking vitamin C, which could bode well for those with diabetes or other blood sugar issues.

5. Cancer Treatment Support and Prevention 

Not only does vitamin C show promise in reducing the debilitating effects of cancer treatments like chemotherapy; it also helps to bolster the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of many known cancer-fighting agents. It can help to increase the tumor-flighting capacity of cancer treatments.

6. A Stronger Heart

From preventing heart disease altogether to overall coronary health to improving the odds of survival following a heart attack, many studies are showing the power and value of taking vitamin C as a means of supporting the heart. Vitamin C assists in keeping blood pressure at normal, healthy levels. Oxidative damage is one of the biggest dangers that can contribute to inflammation as well as chronic heart disease; however, vitamin C has shown great effectiveness in stopping this unhealthy chain reaction in its tracks.

Want to know how much Vitamin C you need for optimal health?

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10 Interesting Wild Plants for Food and Medicinal Uses

Walking through the Montana forest has given me a greater appreciation of what the forest has to offer, whether its meat, plants, or medicine. In the past few years I’ve been learning plants and what they provide in terms of food. Here are ten of my discoveries that I think are useful for any prepper to keep in mind when it comes to foraging.

10 Wild Edibles for Food and Medicinal Purposes

Cattails

Open up any survival guide and inevitably you’ll find cattails. There’s a good reason for this. First, they’re easily identifiable. Second, nearly every part of a cattail is edible. You can eat the roots, the flower spikes, and the pollen from the head can be made into flour. In the spring, you can eat the leaves and the shoots. The main thing to be aware of is that you should never eat anything that doesn’t have the characteristic cattail seed head. Those plants in swamps that don’t have cattail heads can be poisonous.

Elderberry

Elderberry or Elder plants are responsible for my interest in foraging. I have an elder tree right next to my driveway. Naturally, it decided to be finicky and produce a few clusters of berries — enough to make me interested but not enough to do much with. So, I ended up looking around the forest for these little treats. If you go to the natural food stores and take a peek in the medicine area, you’ll find elderberry syrup for coughs and colds. With good reason. These little gems have been used for centuries to treat colds, flu, wounds, and a host of other ailments. It’s even suggested they may have properties that help repair damaged cells. When you eat elderberry, be sure it’s cooked. A few berries won’t hurt, but if you don’t cook them you can get sick for cyanide poisoning.

Oregon Grape

Another interesting plant growing on my property is the Oregon grape. It looks sort of like a holly but with yellow flowers or purplish berries. These berries are tart and make excellent jelly. You can use the roots and stems for their antibacterial properties. Strip the bark off and make a tea from the yellowish interior. You can then put the cool tea on the wound. The berries are actually good for digestive upsets and to use as a laxative.

Yarrow

This unobtrusive plant looks like a little fern that has a cluster of flowers in the summer. Yarrow is a great medicinal plant that can help wounds clot by crushing the leaves and placing them on the wound. One person at the local farmer’s market swears by yarrow to treat nosebleeds. Its tea made from the flowers has been used for headaches, flu, colds, and other ailments.

Mullein

Mullein is one of those plants I thought was utterly worthless when I saw it. It grows everywhere, or so it seems, especially near roadsides. The truth is Mullein is a powerhouse for sore throats, working as as expectorant. Called “cowboy’s toilet paper” by some, the leaves are soft with fine hairs. I suspect they would do in a pinch. Mullein may have some properties that fight flu. It’s also great for wounds, bruises, skin infections and other skin problems.

Pine

Pine needles are a great source of vitamin C, so if you’re game, gather some pine needles and make a nice tea from them.

Plantain or Plantago

Not the banana like fruit with the same name, but an herb, plantain is an amazingly nutritious and healing plant. Found just about everywhere, it has antibiotic properties and works as an antihistamine. The leaves are tasty and used in salads or cooked like spinach. It works on rashes and insect bites as well as minor wounds.

Wild Rose/ Rose Hips

If you’re looking for a quick, nutritious snack, you can’t do wrong with the fruit of the wild rose, called rose hips. These little morsels are high in vitamin C as well as vitamin A and E. I’ve seen these in the wild, but they’re a favorite with bears as well as humans, so be forewarned.

American Mountain Ash or Rowan

The rowan is one tree whose berries looked dangerous to me but in fact are edible if cooked. They are bright orange or red, and taste very sharp raw, which is actually very good. You shouldn’t eat many of them raw because like many wild berries, they can have high amounts of cyanide, hence the need for cooking. People make jellies and compotes for meat with them.

Morel Mushrooms

Morels are amazing mushrooms. These yummy mushrooms often appear the next year after a forest fire. They are poisonous raw, but cooked are simply worth the work looking for them. Beware of false morels that are poisonous but easy to identify. Morels have a honeycomb appearance and have a large cavity inside of them while a false morel does not.

Don’t be fooled

As always, be 100 percent certain of the type of wild plant you’re eating or using. Many edible and medicinal plants have deadly lookalikes. When in doubt, consult a professional.

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST