Monday, April 25, 2011

Food Storage on the Cheap

So, you're convinced that having a 30 day food supply is prudent, but the whole task of getting ready seems overwhelming. What do I need? How much will it cost? What if nothing ever happens and I'm stuck with all this food that I don't want? Here are a few strategies to get you off the couch and into a better prepared kitchen with a plan that won't break the bank. I'll be referencing prices from Sam's Club, substitute any similar discount store for prices and products in your area.
Your Shopping List

  • A 25 pound bag of rice for $9.69 gives you roughly 250 3/4 cup servings.

  • 3.24 lbs instant mashed potatoes for $5.48 gives you 65 half cup servings.

  • 6 lbs Peter Pan peanut butter for $7.28.

  • 9 lbs Quaker Oats for $6.76

  • 2 cans (117 oz each) Bush's Baked Beans for $11.12

  • 24 gallons of water for $23.00

  • Ketchup, 114 oz for $3.38

  • Powdered milk, the most economical way is to buy the 6 pack from Augason Farms, this gives you 540 servings but costs $61.72. If you can't afford that much up front then buy a smaller box of powdered milk this week and another next week etc.

  • 2 cans powdered butter 356 servings for $34.76

TOTAL BILL $163.19

OK, so now you're griping, "I don't want to eat nothing but beans, oatmeal, rice and peanut butter for a whole month!" Well, you know what? Neither do I. BUT, it's sure better than starving to death, isn't it? Buy your basics this week and next week add some fruit or canned vegetables, things that please your palate, but get the high protein items first! Augason Farms has tons of preparedness items at Sam's Club, look around and prioritize what is a necessity and what can wait until later. Remember to buy water, lots and lots of water! You can do this, one step at a time, just determine that you're going to take responsibility for yourself and your family and get started! And if nothing ever happens and you're stuck with all this food? Well, if you don't want it then donate it to a food pantry, feed it to your chicks or find a needy family who will appreciate it.

After your food storage is pretty well complete, or even when you're just in the process of gathering your items, remember the first rule of food storage is: there is no food storage! Resist the urge to announce how prepared you are. For instance, I personally have no food storage, I think it's a stupid idea and the Government is going to fix the crisis we're in with no upset to me personally. I don't really can food or have animals. I can't fix a toilet or even light a candle. Raw milk is dangerous and Lee Harvey Oswald was working alone.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Normally when I'm blogging I wear my tinfoil hat to shield my brainwaves from Alien Mind Readers and the Illuminati, but today I'm hatless so that I can write about preparedness from a non-paranoic standpoint. Please don't get accustomed to blogposts with a rational train of thought, this is very hard for me. I'd like to list a variety of mainstream reasons to become more self sufficient that have nothing to do with collapse or doomsday scenarios.

  1. Buying canned goods on sale or buying produce in season makes good economic sense. Buy/stock up when prices are lowest. Nobody expects you to buy a garagefull of Q-tips, but purchasing extra when they're on sale saves money.

  2. Inflation. It's a fact of life. Buying tangible goods now, saves money later.

  3. Doing more for yourself means that money can be diverted elsewhere to things that you can't do.

  4. Home canning ensures a level of quality that simply can't be found in mass produced food.

  5. Having extra food in the pantry allows you to help those less fortunate when times are hard for them. Nobody can predict every tornado/hurricane/job loss, sometimes we're caught unaware and thinking ahead lets you help others. Faith in action. One of my followers is a military wife who wrote that when the Government was threatening shut-down they were potentially facing the future with what they had on hand because no money would be coming in.

  6. For young women: learning how to provide for a family can serve you well if you marry a poorer man (or one who loses his job). Maybe you'll end up on the mission field and your knowledge will bless many. And besides, making money stretch farther is a blessing even when times are good!

So, what happens when you're on board but your husband/wife/parents aren't? I read about this a lot on a homesteading forum I'm on, there seem to be fewer families where both spouses have the preparedness mentality. It can make it a lot harder to be the only one, and nobody wants to appear irrational or paranoid. My advice is to do what you can do and rest in the knowledge that you did what you could. God will bless the motivation and effort, I believe. The number one thing to have is SKILLS! Skills go with you where ever you are so pick what you need/want to learn and do it! Learn to can/dehydrate food, learn to make toothpaste and deodorant, learn to sew and mend and darn, learn to churn butter and light a kerosene lamp. Learn to cook meals without expensive or store bought ingredients. Learn to bake bread. Areas of expertise like these will never be worthless and can be a blessing to others. Any other tips or suggestions, readers? Pooled knowledge is a valuable asset.

Preparedness Quiz

I don't think most people expect total and complete societal collapse, but we have no way of knowing before hand what goods and services will be interrupted in any given disaster so we need to have a plan that covers all foreseeable possibilities. Give yourself 2 points for every "yes", 1 point for every "almost" and 0 points for every "no".

  1. I have a 30 day supply (at minimum) of food for my family already purchased.

  2. I have water stored for drinking plus for bathing, tooth brushing and laundry.

  3. I have made provision for any pets or livestock that I have so their needs are met in a disaster.

  4. I have a supply of extra shampoo, soap, toilet paper, and other non-food items including feminine hygiene products.

  5. I have a way to cook and keep warm that does not rely on electricity (unless you own a generator) already purchased and I know how to use it.

  6. I own and can operate a firearm for self defense and hunting.

  7. I have enough ammunition on hand if things get bad.

  8. I have a supply of bandaids, OFF, triple antibiotic cream, and other first aid supplies already purchased and in an easily accessible location.

  9. I have a plan to wash clothes that does not involve electricity.

  10. If there is a baby in my home I have a 30 day supply of either disposable diapers or cloth diapers and covers.

  11. I have purchased kerosene lamps or candles for illumination.

  12. If I'm reliant on prescription medicine I have enough on hand to last at least a week ahead of today.

  13. I know of at least 2 likeminded people in my area that I can barter/network/rely on in the event of a collapse.

  14. I have skills that would be in demand if we need to temporarily revert to a cashless system (sewing, mending, blacksmithing, farming etc)

  15. I have precious metals and/or I keep cash on hand in smaller denominations.

  16. I have a plan for dealing with toilet needs (outhouse, composting toilet or enough water to flush your regular toilet stockpiled)

  17. I have a battery operated radio or other means of getting news updates.

  18. I have the means to purify water.

  19. I have a plan to deal with the inevitable tide of people who will show up on my doorstep needing help.

  20. I have carpentry materials on hand such as :basic tools, nails, heavy plastic etc.


1-5 points: you are not prepared at all for even a temporary disruption in your lifestyle. You must begin now to face the prospect of an uncertain future that might not offer you the conveniences that you currently enjoy.

6-15 points: congratulations, you're better prepared than 90% of the rest of the country! Don't stop though, fill in the gaps in your preparedness plan now.

16-25 points: good for you for preparing yourself to be self reliant in the face of disaster. You're successfully reading the road signs and are making great progress!

26-40 points: you're a true prepper! You've probably been preparing for a while and though there might be some areas that need more attention, you will weather a crisis with relative ease.

Has this quiz helped you? Feel free to share it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter: Why We Don't Celebrate It

Well, we're gearing up for another "Christian" holiday replete with rampant commercialism and pagan overtones. Sigh. I thought that I'd give you some food for thought and a nudge to search this out for yourself about Easter and what it really is. Now, you don't have to and shouldn't take my word for anything, you don't rise and fall before me. But for those who say that "it doesn't really matter, God cares about my heart" or "eggs and rabbits are harmless" let me say to you, "really???" So, it doesn't really matter if we pass paganism off as Christianity? It doesn't really matter if we're celebrating a false religion? Then actually I can call God anything I want including Baal, Allah, or Joe, right? And, I can murder you as a sacrifice to my god as long as my heart is in the right place, huh? :-) Truth matters. I urge you to seek it out and not settle for a watered down version that can't save anybody from anything. ----------------------------------------------- Origin of Easter - A Christian Commemoration The origin of Easter, a holiday associated with the observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is actually based on an ancient pagan celebration. Christians recognize this day as commemorating the culminating event of their faith, but like so many other "Christian" holidays, Easter has become commercialized and mixed with non-christian traditions like the Easter Bunny, Easter parades and hunting for Easter eggs. How did this happen? Origin of Easter - Its Pagan Roots The origin of Easter dates back to ancient times, not long after the global Flood recorded in Genesis 6-9 of the Bible. Nimrod, a grandson of Noah, had turned from following his grandfather's God and had become a tyrannical ruler. According to the biblical record, as king, Nimrod created Babel, Ninevah, Asshur, Calla and other cities, all known for lifestyles that promoted unspeakable evil and perversion. When Nimrod died, his wife, Queen Semiramis, deified him as the Sun-god, or Life Giver. Later he would become known as Baal, and those who followed the religion Semiramis created in his name would be called Baal worshippers. They became associated with idolatry, demon worship, human sacrifice and other practices regarded as evil. The origin of Easter involves the birth of Semiramis' illegitimate son, Tammuz. Somehow, Semiramis convinced the people that Tammuz was actually Nimrod reborn. Since people had been looking for the promised savior since the beginning of mankind (see Genesis 3:15), they were persuaded by Semiramis to believe that Tammuz was that savior, even that he had been supernaturally conceived. Before long, in addition to worshipping Tammuz (or Nimrod reborn), the people also worshipped Semiramis herself as the goddess of fertility. In other cultures, she has been called Ishtar, Ashtur and yes, Easter. The origin of Easter goes back to the springtime ritual instituted by Semiramis following the death of Tammuz, who, according to tradition, was killed by a wild boar. Legend has it that through the power of his mother's tears, Tammuz was "resurrected" in the form of the new vegetation that appeared on the earth. According to the Bible, it was in the city of Babel that the people created a tower in order to defy God. Up until that time, all the people on the earth spoke one language. The building of the tower led God, as recorded in Genesis 11:7, to confuse their tongues to keep them from being further unified in their false beliefs. As the people moved into other lands, many of them took their pagan practices with them. Contemporary traditions such as the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg can also be traced back to the practices established by Semiramis. Because of their prolific nature, rabbits have long been associated with fertility and its goddess, Ishtar. Ancient Babylonians believed in a fable about an egg that fell into the Euphrates River from heaven and from which Queen Astarte (another name for Ishtar or Semiramis) was "hatched." Origin of Easter - Resurrection Day for Christians For Christians, the origin of Easter is simply the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ about 2,000 years ago. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus Christ, the true Messiah promised in the Old Testament, was crucified and resurrected at the time of the Jewish Passover. Since that awesome event took place, those who believe Christ is their Messiah have honored that day and often celebrated it with the traditional Passover. As the Gospel of Christ spread throughout non-Jewish nations, among people who did not have a history of celebrating the Passover, the pagan rites of Easter gradually became assimilated into what the Christian church called "Resurrection Day." Compromising the commandments of God with the comfort of the world is as old as the nation of Israel itself. Actually, American history teaches us that Easter was dismissed as a pagan holiday by the nation's founding Puritans and did not begin to be widely observed until just after the Civil War. Those interested in a Christian view of American history and the gradual compromise of America's Biblical foundations may wish to read books such as The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. Easter Origin - A One-time Event Easter origin, as a Christian holiday, can be found in the pages of scripture itself. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all followers of Jesus, offer their own unique eyewitness accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this culminating event of Christianity that is celebrated on Easter Sunday every year. Easter Origin - The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Easter origin actually began as a part of the Jewish Passover, as Christ was crucified and resurrected during Passover week. Christ is believed by Christians to actually be the Passover Lamb spoken of in Exodus, for He Himself became the perfect, sinless sacrifice for the sins of all people. Jews who chose to follow Christ then honored this day in succeeding years during the Passover season, but as Christianity was spread throughout non-christian nations, the celebration of Easter was gradually combined with pagan "rites of spring" traditions. Modern celebrations are the result of this compromise. At the same time, Easter is often the only day that many people attend church and are introduced to the "Good News" of Jesus Christ. Easter Origin - Christ Revealed in the Jewish Passover Easter origin can be traced to the Passover ceremony itself. Christian scholars believe that the Old Testament is Christ concealed, while the New Testament is Christ revealed. Let's hold the elements of the Passover up to the light of the life of Christ. By tradition, the lamb to be sacrificed during the Passover was selected four days before the sacrifice was to be made. Jesus rode into Jerusalem four days before He was crucified. The lamb was customarily slain at 3 p.m. on Passover. Jesus uttered the words "it is finished" and died on the cross at 3 p.m. (this is known traditionally as Good Friday, but many Bible scholars have determined the crucifixion to be on a Wednesday or Thursday). The festival of Unleavened Bread began at sunset. One of the rituals involved the sacrifice of a grain offering, representing the first fruits of the harvest. Jesus, according to the Apostle Paul, became the first fruits of those raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). During the Passover dinner, three matzahs are put together. Christians see these matzahs as representative of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The middle matzah is broken, as Christ said at the Last Supper, "This is My body, broken for you." The middle matzah is also striped and pierced, as Jesus was during His crucifixion, and as was prophesied in Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 22:16 and Zechariah 12:10. This matzah is then wrapped in a white cloth and hidden, just as Christ was wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb. Easter Origin - The Biblical Accounts Easter (also known as Resurrection Day), is the event upon which the entire Christian faith hinges. Paul, once a Jewish leader hostile to Christians, became a convert when he met Jesus on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9). As an eyewitness of Christ, Paul made it abundantly clear that without the resurrection, there is no basis for faith in Christ: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12-29) When Christ was born, He fulfilled a number of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. By the time of His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, He had fulfilled more than 300 of them. These numbers alone provide staggering evidence that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah. So it is with good reason that Christians the world over regard Easter as a very special event. But in the early days of the church, most Christians were Jewish converts. Because Jesus was crucified and rose again during the Passover season, their celebration of Christ's resurrection was acknowledged during that annual observance of the deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Christian Jews (or Messianic Jews) consider the Passover to be symbolic of the time when Christ set all believers free from the penalty of sin (through His death on the cross) and death (through His resurrection from the dead). Easter Origin - What Does the Resurrection Mean to You? Easter origin? Can a man who claims to be God and then rises from the dead actually be God in human form? Is He someone you should follow? C.S. Lewis asked those same questions and came to the conclusion that there are only three possibilities. Jesus Christ claimed to be God. Therefore, to say He is just a "good man" or "great teacher" is to call him a liar. Any sane person who would claim to be God, but who in fact, is not, must then be a madman - a lunatic! If Christ is neither a liar nor a lunatic, then there is only one other possible conclusion - He must be the Lord! If He is the Lord, what does Resurrection Day mean to you?

Friday, April 15, 2011

You Can't Afford Not To Garden

Just a quicky blog post to urge any fence sitters to definitely consider growing a garden this year. Food prices are going ballistic, so stocking up should be a priority for everybody that needs to eat. ;-) I don't think you have much time to procrastinate any more. If you had stocked up 6 months ago you'd already have a better return on that investment than anything else in your portfolio, including gold! This interesting article out today. Reality Now: Massive Price Increases at LDS Food Distribution Centers in Last Ninety Days Commodities have been going absolutely ballistic for months, with the mainstream focusing more on oil and gas than anything else. Price increases in other commodities like wheat, beans, and rice, which have, for the most part, been subdued on the consumer retail side because companies were willing to take the margin compression for a while, are now becoming a painful reality. A recent email from a regular reader of SHTFplan who closely follows food price fluctuations outlines that it’s not just large corporate grocery chains that are raising prices, but not-for-profit organizations. Provident Living, a huge food storage and dry goods distribution organization for the Latter Day Saints has alerted their members that prices are up from between 11% to 49% on basic food staples. Keep in mind that the LDS are extremely large buyers of food. They buy in bulk across the country, and they buy hard assets, not paper traded commodities. They don’t attempt to profit from their Prodivent Living storage centers, which are located in just about every major city in the United States. So, if they’re raising prices, it’s because their acquisition costs are going up. The most stunning aspect of the price increases, is that they have occured not in the last year, but over the last 90 days. The following chart shows the price inflation in the majority of food storage products (generally 10 pound to 25 pound bulk bags) distributed at the Provident Living centers.

The following note from DP sums up the reasons for the price increases and actions that should be taken by those who are interested in preparedness and making non-traditional investments to protect wealth: The LDS church have long been at the forefront in preparedness for families and communities. Their network of companies and church affiliations allow them access to cheaper food sources, and the capacity to store them for long periods of time through their canning facilities. As the government and Federal Reserve continues to tell the American people that inflation is low, and contained by their monetary policies, the real barometer of inflation in the economy comes from the grocers, markets, and institutions that deal with food sales and production, and must monitor prices daily as commodities continue to climb. The LDS Church ’s raising food prices at their canneries by 11 to 49% in just three months should be a serious wake-up call to all Americans on the true inflationary conditions that exist in our economy, and that we need to constantly look outside government reports for the true data affecting our spending and finances.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring at home

My two oldest, Aleks and Katie, went to Tennessee this past week. They stayed with Meggie, a friend of Katie's and had a wonderful time! They got to see mountains and historical sites, as well as meet interesting characters like Joe. That's Katie proposing to Joe as Aleks and Clive (Meggie's Dad) look on. They have had so many interesting stories to tell about what they saw and did. For Aleks it was a working vacation of sorts, Clive owns an antique grist mill that he grinds corn in to sell to a distillery and he also does historical restoration. They were moving a log barn into Gatlinburg last week. Aleks loved the work and really enjoyed himself. Katie got the opportunity to spend time with a very Godly young lady who is like an older sister to her. It was a nice break for both of them, they work hard here and deserved a vacation, but oh, am I glad they're home!

Aleks' tomato plants grew an amazing amount while they were gone, he has about 100 left after thinning them out. They're all heirlooms, what we don't use will be sold at the Farmer's Market. He also has oodles of peppers and tobacco started too. I want to get my culinary herbs going, but haven't yet. We won't plant anything outdoors until May but I'm excited to think about canning again. Last year, in the thick of it, I was plenty tired of doing it but it kept us eating and eating well, this winter! Most of my canned food is gone, I have some tomatoes, some meat and 4 jars of beets/parsnips/carrots/squash and that's it! It's a good feeling to have jars upon jars lining the shelves.

We were in Kidron today so we stopped by Lehman's, they had a flood there and some merchandise is marked down 70%. I bought this cutesy little 1 gallon keg for $15 and 2 real bayberry hand dipped candles made in Zoar for $3.

Though I pointed out to Aleks and Katie that the Forsythia is in bloom and there are daffodils galore, they sniffed disdainfully at this cold Northern weather after their foray into the South. We still need a fire many mornings, though by noon it's warm enough for the cow to go on her picket and the calf to go in her portable pen so she can still see Mom while she grazes. It's much more pleasant to hang laundry out now that Spring has arrived!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Cloth Diaper Odyssey

Swaddlebees Organic Fitted Diapers

I have been cloth diapering little bottoms since 1993 when my first daughter was born. Back then you didn't have all of the nifty options that cloth diapering Moms enjoy today, you had flat diapers and prefolds. I bought several packs of Dr. Denton prefolds from Family Dollar along with the required plastic pants and off I went on my cloth diapering journey. Back in the day it was S.O.P to use a wet pail, I would soak the diapers in the toilet (and occasionally forget about them and Mr. G would flush them down) and then transfer the sopping wet, slightly less poopy article to the bucket where it would marinate until wash day. Gross, gross, gross. But it was cheaper than 'sposies and that was the main thing for me then; I didn't give a rip about the environment or how it was "better for babies" or attach any social activism to it at all. I followed the same path with the twins, that of prefolds and plastic pants but I also used 'sposies for nighttime and when I didn't have any cloth ones clean.
Kawaii, Thirsties, Tweedlebugs

BumWear, Oh Katy

I may have used cloth sporadically on the next two girls, I don't really remember (which is a pitfall of having a big family and not writing stuff down) but my cloth diapering day really dawned when I was expecting Elisabethe. Suddenly there was an explosion of cloth cuteness, diapers designed better than ever before. I bought exclusively natural fiber fitted diapers: Swaddlebees organic, Little Beetle Lites and regular, Cricketts, Tinkletraps, Firefly regular and overnights, Under the Nile organic. I had a major addiction with these little bundles of fluff. I used wool soakers as the outer layer that keeps clothes from getting wet. I have used: Disana soakers, Lana soakers, Aristocrats soakers, Organic Caboose soakers and various WAHM soakers. I *loved* wool, I loved that it was all natural, breathable and cool for little heineys. I loved the way it smelled, looked and felt. I'd get this Zen thing going when I handwashed them and lanolized them. :-) I was not interested in any AIOs (all in one diapers) or any synthetic anything touching my babies. We didn't wear synthetic clothes and I was not going to diaper a baby in petroleum by-products!

close up of a Tweedlebugs and the Oh Katy

So, fast forward a few babies: I no longer own a clothes dryer and I have newly acquired an AUTOMATIC WASHER!!!! after having spent 9 months hand washing clothes for a family of 11. I had sold most of my fitted diapers because you really can't get them clean without a machine and they're almost impossible to dry without a clothes dryer in the Winter. I'm ready to be the Prodigal Cloth Diapering Daughter, but how? Enter the pocket diaper. A synthetic beauty consisting of a PUL outer (water resistant layer) and a microfleece inner. Into the pocket you stuff a microfiber insert that absorbs the moisture. I bought: Tweedlebugs (an OK diaper, not my favorite, but low price), BumWear (another OK diaper, cute prints and good price), Kawaii (the snap version is *great*, the aplix isn't so great), Oh Katy (my favorite daytime pocket, stuffs from the front which I really like) and 2 Thirsties Pocket AIOs (I love these for nighttime, you can use them as an AIO or add inserts to up the absorbency for nighttime. They are being discontinued so snap them up if you can find them). I never thought I would be crazy about synthetic diapers but I am! I love the microfleece against Asa's bottom, he never feels wet like my other babies would with cotton against their skin. The microfleece wicks the moisture away leaving him feeling dry. The pocket diapers are easy to hand wash and even the inserts dry fairly quickly, another plus for me! He never smells like pee either, I can't really figure this one out but it's true. Pocket diapers also don't add a ton of bulk, they're trimmer than the fitteds I had and that's nice under little jeans.

Thirsties Pocket Aios

I am happy to be back to using cloth. Today, I do care about the amount of disposable diapers going into landfills and I know that if I were a baby cloth is what I'd want to wear, not a scratchy paper diaper laden with toxic chemicals. The diapers I have will still be useable for any other babies we have, making the investment even more profitable.