Monday, September 19, 2011

Alternate Cooking Methods

One of my readers said one of the things that stands in the way of them being fully prepared is alternate methods of cooking.  I have to say, I really am not prepared in that area, except for my backyard grill and a lighter.  Granted we have grill gas and wood, so we could get by. 

But one thing that always bothered me about cooking outside in a dire "poo hit the fan" situation was depicted on an episode of "Dark Angel".  Dark Angel was a television series where an electromagnetic pulse weapon was used in the atmosphere over the United States.  One episode told the story of a family who was prepared for such emergencies.  They had a generator that kept their power going after "the pulse" had turned a nearby town into darkened chaos.  The townspeople thought that the prepared family had somehow done this to them because they still had power and attacked the family, killing them and burning their home. 

Of course, I know this is Hollywood, but have you ever heard the expression, "life imitating art"?  We are talking of mob mentality here.  So, if I am prepared and start cooking my food outside and others don't have means or food, that could leave me and my family vulnerable.  What might I be getting at?  Well, two things.  One, discretion in preparedness and two, pre-cooked food.

So, while we want to help others learn to be more self-sustaining, we need to be discreet and not publish what we have all over the Internet and TV.

Also, after a stint of ice storms that took out our electricity and we lost a lot of food in a huge freezer, we decided we didn't want to rely on electricity to preserve our food.  And, if we pre-cook our food, we can just open a jar and eat it cold in a real "poo hit the fan situation".  Not the most ideal, but definitely doable.  So, we learned to preserve meat by canning.

Let me say that you need to follow ALL safety precautions and check with your local extension office for the correct way to can food in your area.  Here is a video my husband and I did on canning ground beef.  Remember, do not do this at home unless you contact your extension office for the proper proceduresCanning meat can be deadly if done improperly.  In fact, your local extension agent may not recommend canning ground beef, but you can use the same method for canning beef chunks or roast.  BE SURE TO FOLLOW YOUR AGENT'S INSTRUCTIONS OR YOU CAN END UP POISONED.    


We also did a series on home butchered and canned chicken.   You can view it on my channel here.

The extension office recommends that you heat the canned jar contents for 15 minutes after you open them and before you consume them.  In a normal situation, you would do so.  I am speaking of using this in times when you don't have an alternate method of cooking. 

My friend, Marianna Bailey has uploaded a wonderful document to her Facebook page about alternate means of cooking.  I don't think anyone can access the page unless they are part of the group, so I will post her document here.  It is vital information and I thank Marianna for sharing it.  She has a great group called "Prepare with Me".  I love it.  You should join it. 

Here is the document, if you can access it:  Cooking Without Electric.  If not, I have posted it below, in it's entirety.  It is more information than I have ever seen compiled on the subject.

COOKING WITHOUT ELECTRICITY HANDOUT: (also see Fuel Handout)
From: www.YourFamilyArk.org
Kylene Jones said there are a few basic principles that apply to cooking without electricity.
• Conserve fuel so you don't need a lot
• Plan to be able to cook indoors and out, in the home or evacuated, in cold and hot weather
• Remember, any flame can produce carbon monoxide — the cooking area must be well ventilated

Different emergencies will require different things.
Kylene Jones said she likes canned heat for basic cooking because it lights easily, burns hot and she can simply take away a can to lower the cooking temperature.
She said Coleman fuel or white gas is very effective but also very dangerous and must be stored out of the house. 
Kerosene must be used with great caution but requires very little oxygen.
Propane has an indefinite shelf life but homeowners may only keep up to five of the 20-lb. containers. If the propane leaks, it lingers and will explode at a spark or flame.
Butane stoves are lightweight but won't work well in cold weather.
Charcoal briquettes are easy to use and inexpensive but should never be burned indoors.

Observe Fire Safety Rules (from Survivalinsight.com)
• Do not bring a gas grill or stove inside, as this can cause toxic fumes and vapors to build up in your home, and is also a fire hazard.
• Do not build a fire or light a grill close to your home or garage.
• Leave plenty of space so sparks don’t fly off and ignite something you want to keep.
• If you cook on a wood stove, keep small children clear of it at all times.
• Never use gasoline to start a wood or charcoal fire; it can explode and burn anyone nearby severely.

(the following info. taken from government site: www.fpl.fs.fed.us)
There are 91,200 BTUs in a gallon of propane - times a 4 gallon bottle = 364,800 BTUs in a 20 lb tank. Take 364,800 and divide it by your burner’s BTU rating to figure how many hours you can run your burner on High. If you turn the burners down, you can extend that time a bit.  Normally you won't be cooking with it on full heat.

Under normal usage, one can (16.4 oz. Coleman Propane Cylinder) will burn about one hour.  When using the one burner “Perfect Flow Stove” from Coleman, which attaches to the top of the cylinder, one can will last 2 hours on high or 4.5 hours on low. This type of stove works well for heating small pans of food or water only. Heavier pans must be hooked up to a larger camping stove or a single burner stove that rests on a flat surface.

Charcoal goes on sale for the best prices of the year around Memorial  Day and Labor Day. The last two years sales prices have been about $4 per bag (16 lbs - 20 lbs).  Kingsford Original Brand (not matchlight) burn hotter, longer.

http://www.papadutch.home.comcast.net/
http://www.dutchovendude.com/

More Great Websites for Cooking without Electricity and MORE:

http://www.yourfamilyark.org/
http://www.simplyprepared.com/
http://www.peaceofpreparedness.com/
http://www.iwillprepare.com/

For Recipes and Other Preparedness:

http://www.peacethroughpreparation.blogspot.com/
http://www.foodstoragepreparation.blogspot.com/
http://www.foodstoragemadeeasy.com/

Alternatives to Electric Appliances: (list from: YourFamilyArk.org)
(Google or search the above website for specifics on these)

Alcohol Stoves
Apples Box Oven
Camp Stoves (liquid fuel)
Canned Heat
Dutch Oven
Hay Box
Kerosene Stoves
MRE Heaters
Paperbox Oven
Portable Grill
Pressure Cooker
Propane Stoves
Solar Ovens
Thermos Cooking
Volcano Stove
Wood Cook Stoves

For Volcano Stoves: http://www.volcanogrills.com/

-Use 3 different kinds of fuel
-Use less fuel
-Compact and outside of stove stays cool to the touch

For Rocket Stoves printed picture instructions: http://www.iwillprepare.com/

-Search Rocket Stove in a #10 Can

Rocket Stove Videos: www.YouTube.com/user/LDSPrepper

-Search “Best Rocket Stove Design Ever”
-Over 100 Preparedness Videos posted by our own Bro. Gillmore

Alternative Cooking Methods

Dutch Oven Cooking: Cooking techniques such as roasting, baking simmering, stewing, frying, boiling, steaming, and many others are easily done on the campfire with only a single utensil, the dutch oven. Think of the possibilities, delicious fresh baked bread that will rise up and lift the lid, cobblers made from berries picked fresh at the campsite, incredible deep-dish pizzas, stews, quiches that melt in your mouth, Cornish game hens roasted to perfection, and imagine a chocolate cake a foot in diameter. These and many, many more are very possible and sometimes easier than they are at home. With very few exceptions, I have been able to duplicate my home recipes on the campfire using the dutch oven. Check out this website for a complete book about Dutch Oven cooking, with recipes included: http://usscouts.org/cooking/cook_05.asp 

Rocket Stove: Why? – Rocket Stoves are:

Fuel Efficient: Because they direct all the heat energy (from the flames) upward, most of the heat actually goes into heating the food, rather than being radiated outward (like most campfires). Instruction for a rocket stove: http://www.iwillprepare.com/index_files/
Rocket_Stove_In_A_Number_10_Can. Here's a variation: http://everythingunderthesunblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/rocket-stove.html

Here's another one: http://www.speedreading4kids.com/rocket.pdf

Volcano Stove: Volcano II Collapsible Stove. You will love the versatility of this stove. The Volcano II Collapsible Stove works great with many different methods of cooking and three different fuels. Use this collapsible stove for your cookouts, camping, or emergency cooking. 

• Tri-fuel Stove: The Volcano II Collapsible Stove uses Charcoal, Wood, or Propane*. Changes easily between each of the fuel sources.
• Versatile Cooking Options: Grill right on the stove, or use a skillet, griddle, pot, or wok. Also great for 10-12” Dutch ovens!
• Patented Heat Chamber: Cook a meal with as few as 12 briquettes. 15-20 lb bags of charcoal can be enough for 1 hot meal a day for a year (we recommend storing the charcoal in sealed plastic buckets to protect from moisture). • Double Wall Construction: The Volcano II Collapsible Stove minimizes heat transfer.  Much safer for small children.
• Collapsible: Collapses to only 5.5” tall for easy storage. Comes with a storage bag.

*Propane attachment included in combo or sold separately. Works only with 20 lb tanks. http://beprepared.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_CK%20S595_A_name_E_Volcano%20II%20Collapsible%20Stove%20with%20Propane%20Attachment

Solar Ovens: Solar cooking requires only your oven and a sunny day. Brightness of the day, and not outside air temperature is the most important factor. Solar cooking entails a few basic principles; reflection, concentration, the green house effect and absorption. Solar ovens have properly arranged reflective inner walls to direct and concentrate the sun's energy on the dark pot or dark bottom tray. A clear covering lets in solar heat, but prevents most of it from escaping, producing a green house effect. You know how hot the inside of your car gets in the summer sun, your black pot is similar to the dark upholstery that gets too hot to touch by the process of heat absorption.

http://solarovens.org/ Sun Sport Solar Oven http://www.sunoven.com/cart/index.php?ain_page=products_all Sun Ovens Want to make your own solar oven: http://solarcooking.org/plans/

Butane Stove: Another usable fuel for cooking... Can be used inside in a well vented area.
www.amazon.com/Deluxe-Butane-Burner-Stove-Free/dp/B000BVC4NY

Wonder Box: http://ourldsfamily.com/wonderbox/ or http://www.iwillprepare.com/index_files/Wonder_Box.htm

Fuel: Insta-Fire is a safe, simple, and versatile new fire starting product. It has water-repellent properties, a fiffteen minute burn time and a thirty year shelf life. Use it to light campfires, prepare charcoal briquettes, or as a safe and reliable fuel source for cooking or heating in emergency situations. http://www.instafire.com/home.htm

Fired Up: Similar to Insta-Fire but at a different price. Comes in two sizes... http://beprepared.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_CL%20S095_A_name_E_Fired%20Up!%E2%84%A2%20Emergency%20Fuel%20&%20Firestarter%20IN-A-BUCKET%20-%2013%20lbs

Magnesium Fire Starter: In survival situations, you'll want this simple, compact magnesium fire starter with you at all times to get a fire going even in damp weather. The magnesium fire starter is a small block of magnesium that is waterproof and fireproof in its solid form. Scrape some shavings and then strike the firesteel built into the starter to ignite the shavings. The fire generated is extremely hot and will ignite even damp kindling. Compact size – fits in a pocket - Comes with a striker -

Built-in fire steel for sparking. Harbor Tools has the best price... http://www.harborfreight.com/magnesium-firestarter-66560.html

END OF DOCUMENT

Well, my Prepared Household, that should get you started on alternative methods of cooking.  All links are live, just click on them to access the page. 

What do you have in your storage for alternative methods of cooking?  Have you tried or tested them?  What works for you?  Please share.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies


I attended a workshop this past weekend that taught us the art of making lye soap and laundry detergent at home for pennies.  There are many times where we can make our own cleaning supplies and save money.  These processes are also green.  So our children and the Earth will thank us too.

Making Lye Soap

The biggest problem with making lye soap is finding the lye to make it with.  Other than that, the process seemed relatively straight forward and easy.  Just  be sure to wear protective clothing.  Here are the instructions for making lye soap:

Jennifer's Lard Soap
1 4lb bucket of lard
8.4 oz lye
20 oz water
2 oz of fragrance oil (optional)
Vinegar (This is precautionary.  Should you get the lye on you at any point, simply use the vinegar to neutralize the burn.)

You will need a scale, pans, measuring cups, stick blender, plastic stirring spoons, two thermometers, molds, goggles, apron, gloves and white vinegar.  Use these items only in your soap making and should never be used in cooking again.  Be sure to wear long sleeves, pants, apron, goggles and gloves.  You should have a healthy respect for this process as you can get burned.  Lye is extremely caustic.  Carefully pour your lye into your water.  NEVER, let me repeat that, NEVER pour water in the lye.  You will get a volcanic eruption.  This is dangerous.)  If possible, do this mixing outside.  The fumes are unpleasant and not safe to breathe.  As you add the lye to the water, stir constantly until the water clears.  At this point, you can take the temperature and it will be extremely hot.

Measure the lard and add it to a pot.  Place on direct heat and melt on low.  Prepare any molds you may have.  Jennifer uses Pringles potato chip cans.  Lay newspapers on the counter.  Check the temps of the lye and lard.  Sometimes you can cool the lye faster by placing the container in a tub of ice water.  When both the lard and the lye are 110 degrees, using your gloves and goggles, slowly pour the lye into the lard while you stir with a plastic spoon.  When it has been completely added, begin using the stick blender to stir. 

(I have to add that at this point, we can smell the soap.  It has a naturally good "soap" smell.  I don't know how, as it is lard and lye, but it smells like a plain soap being mixed.  The end result has a good clean smell too.  I wish I could let you smell it.)

Stir the soap until it traces.  At first, your soap will look like a think pudding,  As you stir, it will thicken.  Be sure to continue to stir, but rest your stick blender motor so it will cool and not burn up.  When the mixture looks creamy and mixed together and just starts to lightly trace, you can add fragrances and additives such as honey or oatmeal.  Continue to stir.  If you just want plain soap, continue to stir until you see the drizzled soap stay on top the mixture for a few seconds before folding in.  This is tracing.  It is now time to pour into the molds.  Jennifer pours it into three Pringles cans.  This recipe makes two completely full and one partial.  Place the cans in an area where they will not be disturbed for at least 24 hours.  Wrap them with old towels.  This is a necessary step for the soap making process.  Your molds will get very hot due to the chemical reaction that is taking place.  This chemical reaction is called saponification and it is turning the lye and lard into soap.

After 24 hours check on your soap.  If it is very soft, let it set for another day or so.  When it is ready, remove it from the molds.  If you use pringles cans, you can just peel the can off carefully, so as not to damage the soap.  Let it sit another day and then cut into bars.  Put the cut bars of soap on a cooling rack or lined shelf.  It needs to cure.  At this point, the lye content is only 90%, but will need to cure for 4 - 6 weeks for the last 10% to evaporate.  You need to turn the soap halfway through the drying process-probably at about 2 - 4 weeks, or it will discolor.
Jennifer's Lard Soap.  Feels so creamy and smells so good.
Jennifer sells her lye soap.  If anyone is interested in purchasing, please let me know and I will get you her contact information.

Make Your Own Laundry Soap

Photo courtesy of 20MuleTeamLaundry.com
Liquid recipe

1 small bucket with a lid (2 - 5 gallon buckets will work)
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap or 1 bar of Ivory soap
1/2 Cup Borax powder
1/2 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
2 gallons water

Grate the soap and put it in a saucepan.  Add 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour 4 cups of hot water into the bucket.  Now add the soap mixture and stir.  Add another gallon of water plus six cups into the bucket with the soap mixture and stir.  Let the soap sit overnight and it will gel.  Use 1/2 cup per wash load for a normal wash.  

Just remember that this will have the consistency of egg drop soup.  It is also low sudsing, so you won't see a lot of suds.  But don't worry, it is the ingredients that cleans the clothes, not the suds.  

Jennifer told us that she adds Purex 2 color safe bleach when washing dirty work clothes to boost the cleaning power.  It is only $1.97 a box at the big box stores, which is cheaper than Clorox 2.

So how do the numbers add up?  Is it really cheaper to make your own?  Jennifer says it is.  Here, the cost of making the above recipe is .68 cents or about .02 cents per load.  Two gallons will give you enough to wash 64 loads.  Liquid Tide 64 load is $12.47 or .19 per load.  Gain 63 load is $11.97 or .18 cents per load.
 
Powdered recipe

Rebecca, who knows the chemical processes in these ingredients, showed us a powdered version.

1 bar of Ivory soap or 1/3 bar Fels Naptha
1 Cup Borax powder
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

Finely grate the soap.  Add the borax and washing soda.  Mix in a canister with a lid and use approximately a teaspoon  per load.  Double that amount for hard or iron water.

Photo courtesy of WhiteHouseFoods.com
Other cleaning

Use vinegar as a fabric softener.  It will take away those off smells and soften your clothes. 

Use baking soda and vinegar for your drains.  Put baking soda in all your drains and toilet.  Add white vinegar.  Follow with boiling hot water to clean out your drains.  I haven't tried this yet, but plan to soon.

There are tons of other recipes for making your own cleaning products.  What do you use to clean?  What are your secrets?  Please share. 





Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 911


September 11, 2001 is a day that will forever live in my memory. As the song echoes in my mind asking the question “Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?” I say a resounding "No!"  I will never forget.

Surreal images flicker in my mind of the first plane that hit the tower. And then, when the second plane hit the second tower, I awoke from the naive place I had always lived to the truth of the world we live in.  I was at home sick that day.  So, I saw the images live on TV.  Shocked, I watched as a woman from another country danced, shouted and praised those cowardly, evil deeds and subsequently my perception of the world and the people in it, was forever changed. I realized I did not live in a world that was safe and secure, but one that held dark secrets. Before that time, I had no idea how hated I was because I was an American. And it would take years before I realized the true implications.

Our President declared "War on Terrorism".  A few short years later, he declared war on Iraq. My first thoughts had been to just leave Iraq alone. We should take care of things at home. I still believe things need addressed at home. But there is an indelible image engraved in my mind as I watched footage of a war-torn Iraq. A man running down the debris littered street suddenly turned to the camera and waved. In broken English he gleefully shouted “Thank you Mr. Bush.” And then turned and ran away. Again, I was awakened…if but just a little more.

I won’t pretend that I am the most politically correct or most politically minded person on the planet, probably the farthest from it. However, I realized that day that our brothers and sisters in this world who are citizens of Iraq and other countries needed a hero too. Someone to save them from the tyranny and evil that gripped their world. How lucky we are to call America home. We have so many freedoms; even the freedom to complain about and ridicule our leaders without fear of any real repercussions.

Our world has drastically changed since that time.  Gas prices have more than trippled.  Food prices are so high, some are going without food.  More and more people are losing their homes and becoming "homeless".  We have greater need to prepare today than we have ever.  I feel an urgency to prepare for life's storms now!  But in a calm and orderly manner. 

So, let's honor our lost, our heroes and our Country.  God Bless America! 

If you get the chance to do so, please enter your comments below.  Share with me your thoughts on 911 and our lives since then.

Creative Food Storage...Storage


Okay, I admit it.  I have pantry envy.  You go online and google food storage or pantry, you will see image after image of neatly placed rows of foods on shelves.  So many ideas, it makes one envious and wish they had that organized and fully stocked food and emergency supplies storage.  Wouldn't it be "the bomb" if we could grab one of those hand held shopping baskets and "shop" for items in our own basement to stock the kitchen pantry.   Like photos on Google Images, I wish I had a basement grocery store, with aisle after aisle of foods, water and other emergency supplies.  Ahhhh. 
Photo courtesy of Robin's Roost
Okaaaayyy.  Back to reality.  And the reality of it is that to some of us, one of the obstacles in the path of food storage is space.  No place to store food or other emergency items.  Do you feel like you are a prime candidate for an episode of Hoarders?  Is every room in your house crowded with bags, boxes and piles of food towering over you to the point that you wonder if one day it will all implode and you will be lost in the debris? 

Have no fear, I have a few suggestions.  Not having had time to take actual photos, I checked the Internet for photos to illustrate my points. 
Photo courtesy of Walmart.com
I purchased a set of bed risers from Walmart.  (But you can find them anywhere.)  It lifts up the bed about six inches and gives you room for storage underneath.  Some food storage items have a long shelf life.  Simply tuck them  under the bed and be sure to record what you have under there in your food storage inventory book with expiration dates.  That way, you will know what is there and when it expires. 

Photo courtesy of  A Matter of Preparedness

In my Internet search, I ran across a great blog called A Matter of Preparedness.  She has a couple of entries on storage in small places, as well as other preparedness ideas.  In her entry, she says that she stores 104 #10 cans under a queen size bed.  You could get more under a king size, but you would require a couple of extra risers.  Please visit her site and enjoy. 

Another idea in creative food storage storage is to utilize underneath coffee tables, end tables, sewing machines, etc.  Store your boxes under the tables and drape a coordinating cloth over it.  There you have it, easily disguised storage.  Another cool blog, Prepared NOT Scared goes one step further to create an entire nightstand table out of food storage.  See the image below and read about it here


Photo courtesy of Prepared NOT Scared

One of my favorite ideas on water storage is a Youtube video from LowBuckPrepper where he displays his wall of water.
 
Using 2-liter bottles as storage is simple.  As you empty one, fill it up with water and stack it on the wall.  You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day.  Two 2-liter bottles is approximately equal to one gallon.  If my calculations are correct, that is twenty-eight bottles per person for two weeks.  LowBuckPrepper has enough water stored for nearly four people for two weeks.  Storing it against a wall, makes it a lot easier than stacking boxes.  I think this idea is ingenious. 


Here is another great idea.  A self-rotating can rack that doubles as a buffet-style table behind your couch.

Be sure to check out this great blog with lots of great ideas:  http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/2009/01/26/small-spaces-storage-solutions-results/

I once stored things behind the curve of a sectional couch. There was a ton of room between the wall and the couch.

Now, get your creative juices stirring and see where you can reclaim precious space to store the items you need.  Under or behind a couch?  What are your creative food storage storage solutions?  Share!





Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bug Out Vehicle - Our Pop-Up Camper

Preparedness Bascis - Bug Out Vehicle

One of my readers suggested using a camper to evacuate in an emergency.  This is something that we have considered and we uploaded this video on our Youtube channel a couple of months ago.  This is our bug out camper. 

We have used it to camp and would suggest that if anyone plans to use a camper for a bug out vehicle that you camp in it so you can be familiar with it, how it works, how to set it up and what you will need.  A test run will let you know if this is the route you want to go. 

I will tell you that a pop up is a bit of hard work to put up, so this option, while compact, may not be the best option.  So, research and choose your camper wisely.  We have had this one for ten years and the older we get, the more difficult it becomes to set up.  However, it still suits us fine.

Please share your thoughts, suggestions and experiences.

For more videos, visit my Youtube channel here.

Thanks Red Rock for your idea.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What is your Preparedness Achilles Heel?

Tornadoes this summer, hurricane up the east coast, a 5.9 earthquake in Virginia felt all the way to NYC, Boston and Ohio, along with one in Colorado & a 6.9 quake in Peru! Record unemployment, rising cost of living...I don't know about you, but I have this overwhelming need to prepare. But what for? So...tell me, what are your concerns?

Despite years of preparing for this or that, I know we all have an "Achilles Heel" or a fatal weakness in our preparations.  You know, that little niggle of doubt in the back of your head that something may not be the way you need it, or...just the direct avoidance of something because you don't know how you are going to do it. 

What is your deep, dark, terrible secret that makes you want to cover your face or scream?  Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic...or maybe not.

You are not alone, almost everyone has one or two areas that they need to address.  Don't procrastinate any longer.  Now is the time to face those issues head on! 

So, let's talk about it.  Air it out.  Figure out how we are going to make it right and be prepared.  I don't know about you, but I have this overwhelming desire to get as prepared as I possibly can, as soon as I possibly can.  No, I am not prepared as I should be.  Remember, the name (Prepared Household) is a goal, not a state of being.  Let's work on it together.

So, for the next couple of weeks or months, we will cover the basics of preparedness.  Maybe it's things you already know and can contribute to or maybe it will be something you never thought of.  Somebody throw out there a topic for us to begin with and we will get started!

What is your Preparedness Achilles Heel?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Swap & Barter

There have been so many things going on at the Prepared Household and before I tell you about the swap and barter we had, let me update you. 

The garden isn't doing as well this year.  The potatoes have all died out.  We aren't sure why, but they have been sent for autopsy through the extension service, so we should know soon. 

The beans are next on the hit list with the Mexican Bean Beetles eating their way through them.  We are out of the good poison we used last year, so the demise of the beans is imminent. 

Due to excessive rain and moisture, the tomatoes have the blight.  I had to pull up three plants that were just suffering in the muck and gave the rest of them drastic clippings to remove the diseased leaves.  Now they will be susceptible to the sun scald, so I plan on placing a cloth or sheet over them to shield them from the sun as fruit develops.  I am so saddened by the state of my garden.  The weeds are thriving though.  I have been updating on my Youtube channel, so please feel free to check out the vids! 


SWAP & BARTER:

So...tonight, the Prepared Household hosted a Swap & Barter at my church.  We placed our items on the table and placed bids on items others brought.  It was great fun and we got to bring home something different from what we brought.

We placed our items on the tables.
We began to place our bids.



Then the bartering began!






I was very happy with what I came home with!
The swap was a complete success.  It wasn't awkward and we all had a great time.  We are planning a "Trading Days" in the fall where we will have a "soupbean supper" and do a lot more bartering on a larger scale!  Exactly the outcome I had hoped for.

Watch this Youtube video and I hope you can start something similar in your community.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Velveeta Cheesy Skillets House Party


Well...as you all know, I believe in saving money.  Saving money helps us be better prepared for life and situations that arise.  Having been in the unemployment line for some time now, I look for ways to stretch my money.  So I signed up for House Party at houseparty.com.  I was told that I would be receiving the following for my party.


•VELVEETA CHEESY SKILLETS product


•$5 Wal-Mart Gift Card

•Memo Boards

•Tote Bags

•$1.00 off coupons

Now who wouldn't want to receive free product and coupons to share with friends.  We all have parties on occasion and what better way to save money and share with friends and family.  This is just a win for anyone.

So, the party is June 18th and that happens to be the weekend of my family reunion.  So not only do I get this free stuff, but I get to share it with my family.  And besides, who doesn't love Velveeta?

So, go to houseparty.com and sign up for a party.  They have canning parties too.  I can't wait to have mine because I know it will be so much fun.  Enjoy your day!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Prepared Household in Your Inbox

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This summer will be updates on the homestead and how the rabbits, chickens and garden are doing.  But it will also be about getting prepared and staying prepared in this ever changing world we live in.  If you like to live green, well...this blog is for you.  This is my journey from the corporate world (so to speak) to the homestead and you are welcome along for the ride.

I have worked my entire adult life and this is the first time I am really having joy in my journey.  So, subscribe and get updates right in your inbox!  Happiness and joy in the journey.

Melanie

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bale Gardening Experiment

Well...I passed my master gardener's exam yesterday and I very excited about that.  It doesn't mean I am an expert by any means, I am just still learning about gardening and how it works on my journey to self-sufficiency.  Will I ever get there?  Probably not.  But I am on that journey late in life, so just doing my small part to live a greener, healthier life will make me happy.

Another Master Gardener, Sheila, and I are doing an experiment in conjunction with the local extension office.  We are experimenting with Straw Bale Gardening.   



If you have bales that have already sat out in the weather and have become partially rotten, you don't have to do anything but plant.  However, we began with green bales that had to go through a ten day preparation phase before planting. According to the instructio​ns, we soaked the bales twice a day for three days. Of course, the rain has helped us out with this.  Days 4-6 we added 1/2 cup of ammonium nitrate and soaked that in once a day.  Days 7-9 we reduced that amount to 1/4 cup of ammonium nitrate soaked in once a day.  Then on day 10 we added a cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer. 

Day 11 is planting day.  So on day 11 we planted all six bales.  Bale one: we planted two (2) Watermelon Beefsteak, bale two we planted two (2) Early Girls, bale three we planted two (2) Prudence's Purple Tomato, bale four and five had four (4) each of Diva Cucumbers (two to a pod) and bale six we planted three (3) Mixed Jewel Peppers.


 
I look forward to the experiment and learning how these will do.  The bales can be placed virtually any sunny spot, a deck, patio or driveway.  Ours are on a sidewalk.  I think for a wet Spring like we have had, these bales would be wonderful because they drain well.  However, if we have a dry summer, this may be an issue.  I wonder if the heat from the sidewalk and pavement will cause added problems with drying out?  I may move one or two to the grassy area next to the sidewalk to do a side by side comparison.

When we opened up the bales to plant, the inside was moist and hot.  I think the plants will enjoy the heat and will do well.  And because the bales were moist, there may not be an issue with drying out too much. 

I think this method will be ideal for a small space, especially if we have another wet spring.  The only drawback we noted was the waste of water.  I would not start these in green bales, I would start them in bales that have already sat out in the rain and rotted.  It was a waste of a lot of water.  Also, the mildew smell is a little strong.

So I will continue to care for these straw bales and we will see how it goes.  I will keep you updated.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WonderMill Review

Country Boy and I had the pleasure of using and reviewing a WonderMill today.  We give it a four (4) thumbs up.  Two from CB and two from me.  We loved it.  Please check out the videos for a full review.






We had a lot of fun grinding our own flour and meal and baking our own cornbread.  (Even if our cornbread was a bit of a fail, because we didn't know how.)  We will continue practicing and baking healthy things for our family.

We recommend you get one of your own:  http://thewondermill.com/.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some thoughts on the recent storms and rain

My heart goes out to the people who were hit by the tornadoes last week.  My hero hubby and son and possibly myself will be travelling to Alabama next week to help with the clean up effort.  I am proud of my husband and son.  They have huge hearts and are so willing to serve the Lord by serving others. 

"Matthew 25:40...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

We need to continue to prepare for life's storms.  A tornado outbreak like the one we recently experienced here in the South is nearly impossible to prepare for.   The massive earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc., just keep getting worse and more close to home every day.

I recently stumbled across a blog called Unusual Kentucky .  It is an eclectic mix of all things Kentucky.  Specifically, the most recent post on May 2, 2011 is most noteworthy.  Apparently, officials in Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky wish to blow Bird's Point Levee on the Mississippi River to take pressure off the land area.  This action being taken has forced an evacuation of Cairo, Illinois and will submerge acres of farmland.  Why is this happening?  I will quote from the Unusual Kentucky blog:  "Monday, May 2, 2011...Two "sand boils" have erupted in nearby Cairo, Illinois, and they're enormous. Workers trying to control these spontaneous volcano-like eruptions of sand and water from deep under the Earth's surface are saying it's the biggest sand boil breakout they've ever seen. The sand boils are a sign of immense water pressure, and fear is that Missouri's aging and weak levee will not be able to stand this pressure much longer before collapsing.

Additionally, sinkholes are popping up everywhere, even in the middle of city streets. The ground is quickly reaching the disaster point of soil liquefaction."  I hope you will read the rest of the blog yourself. 

Here are the definitions of a sand boil according to Google.  

•Sand boils occur when water under pressure wells up through a bed of sand. The water looks like it is "boiling" up from the bed of sand, hence the name.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_boil.

•Sand and water that come out onto the ground surface during an earthquake as a result of liquefaction at shallow depth.  www.sciencemaster.com/physical/item/earthquake_glossary.php.

•The removal or ejection of soil due to seepage.  www.grow.arizona.edu/Grow--Glossary.php.

It is becoming quite obvious that the Earth is becoming unstable around the New Madrid Fault line.  Check out this map of the Latest Quakes in Southeast.  You will notice a collection around the borders where Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas meet or are close to each other.  I am not a fear monger, but we need to be aware that an emergency could be in our backyard in an instant.  Be prepared.  Here are some guidelines from FEMA to help you prepare for an earthquake:  http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_before.shtm.

And, how to prepare for tornadoes?  http://www.fema.gov/hazard/tornado/to_before.shtm.

If you want to help our brothers and sisters in Alabama, reach out and help.  Check out this Youtube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/EastCoastPrepper.  He having a yard sale and donating all the proceeds to the effort.  Others are doing different things.  Do your part.  Do what you can do.  We are all in this together and we can make it through it...together.

 
  




Monday, April 11, 2011

Oooops! Maple Valley Farms Review Mistake

While checking out a site called Maple Valley Farms, I must have gotten carried away and clicked on a link.  I was admiring this beautiful bed and breakfast with "Ethan Allen furnishings", that I thought was Maple Valley Farms, I must have made a horrible mistake.  Being the human being I am and capable of many mistakes, I reviewed this luxurious country bed and breakfast that I thought was Maple Valley Farms.  My apologies to Maple Valley Farms.  I don't even know if they have a bed and breakfast.  (I will have to continue to follow them to find out.)

In my mistake, I may have insulted Maple Valley Farms and how hard they have worked to get to where they are, and that was not my intention.

I still think the REAL Maple Valley Farms is beautiful.  The photos I looked at today show a beautiful, homey and cozy place.  Not the place I was looking at before at all and I apologize for my mistake.  I still love it and feel like it is a dream place.  Forty acres of farm, animals, fruits and vegetables.  From the canning jar glasses (use them myself to drink from) to the wood cook stove (my dream one day).  I love it!  My review doesn't change.

I love the idea of going off grid.  I have a dream of going off grid myself.  I was born and raised in the country, not the city.  However, I am woman enough to admit my mistakes and beg Maple Valley Farm's pardon.  *BLUSH*

For those who would like to laugh at my mistake, please feel free to click on this link.  Many thanks to KXJ for helping me see the error of my ways. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Recycling - Reusing Pallets


A local siding company has a unique pallet that we recycle and use to make garden boxes and rabbit tractors and cages.  Please watch the video above for our uses. 

I wonder what other uses we could have for these pallets.  I would love to figure out how to build a chicken coop from them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan

My heart truly goes out to the people of Japan.  I can't imagine the horror of being there right now and I feel helpless.  New reports are coming in of 140,000 nearby residents are being told to seal themselves in for protection from the radiation.  I hope these human beings had forethought to prepare for such a situation.  Even if there were time to go to the store to purchase necessary supplies such as duct tape, plastic, food, water, medicines, etc., would there even be enough for 140,000 people?

It sounds so calous to say let's use this as a learning experience when so much human suffering is taking place; but let's not let these people suffer in vain.  Learn from someone else's bad experience.  Be prepared.  How many times have we warned our children, but they had to learn for themselves.  Or how many times as youth did we learn our lessons the hard way.  I don't think I will ever look upon this world with the eyes of the innocent again.  I have awakened and I hope you will too.

Don't be a victim, be a survivor.  "Organize yourselves...prepare every needful thing."

http://www.fema.gov/

I don't know what else to say...but our hearts are with you our Japanese brothers and sisters.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Off Grid Living at Maple Valley Farms

I ran across a blog the other day called Maple Valley Farms.  Click here to see their site.  Beautiful website, beautiful home.  Ethen Allen furnishings, luxurious bed and breakfast.  A dream really.  I have enjoyed what I have read and watched on their Youtube channel. 

I think that being able to collaborate and learn from each other makes it easier for all of us, so I hope you will check them out.  Although purchasing a 40 acre farm with high-end furnishings and going off grid would be impossible for most of us who want the lifestyle, there are lessons we can still learn. 

I am not a wealthy person and this set-up is a dream that I would never be able to afford.  I think that most of us are trying to homestead while pinching pennies.  I know I am.  Making ends meet and still  being able to do a little at a time is what it is about for me.  I am thankful that Maple Valley Farms is allowing us to peek inside the dream.  I look forward to following them and learning from them.

Right now, Maple Valley Farms is having a giveaway sponsored by Lehman's.  Lehman's gave them some tattler lids to review and some to give away on their website.  Tattler lids are reusable and from what I have read, they seem to do the job.  So, go check out this dream place and enter to win some tattler lids. 

Spring is in the Air at the Homestead

With a week or two of beautiful 60 degree weather, it certainly makes one feel hopeful that Spring is on the way. We have had our share of snow this past year and even had a white Christmas, which I am thankful for. Hopefully all the cold snow has nourished the ground with moisture and killed a lot of the pests we see in the garden.

I decided to grow a sunflower patch beside the house where it gets lots of morning sun.  Since we don't directly eat the sunflowers, we added lots of organic rabbit poo to fertilize the soil.  Country Boy tilled it in (above).

Main Garden


We also plowed up the main garden and I planted my pea patch.  Nothing is coming up in the pea patch yet, so I have already purchased more seed and plan to replant when the rain lets up and the ground is dry enough.  If plowed too soon after a rain, the only thing that will get it back into shape is the freezing of winter.  So plowing too soon will only ruin the soil until next year and I don't want to take that chance.



My pea patch
















In a portion of the yard, nothing, not even grass grows. So I decided to utilize that area as well. A local siding business gives away the pallets that once contained the siding. The pallets are untreated rough lumber, rectangular and are hollow. I am using these to make small beds in the area were nothing grows.

Poor Soil Area
 
Pallets with Hollow Bottoms
I am going to fill the boxes with a thick layer of newspaper to kill out anything growing.  (Nothing grows there, so that won't be a problem anyway.)  Next we will add soil level to the top of the box.  I plan to plant an asparagus bed, carrots, artichoke, lettuce, and radishes in these beds.  I will update the blog with photos when I get this done. 


Also, we are finally getting eggs.  These are our first eggs.  We get about four a day now. 

We have some new female rabbits or does.  We now have eight does and five of them are expecting.  We will be up to our ears in bunnies before long.  We are working on a "rabbit tractor" and I will update the blog with photos about it as well. 

That's about all that is going on here on Little Lily Acre Farm.  Hope you all are having an early Spring.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grinding Rabbit Meat


We got our Nesco Professional Food Grinder and we got it at a great price.  With ground beef over $2 a pound, we plan on grinding chicken, turkey, pork and rabbit!  Please check out the video below for our operation and review of the meat grinder.

Go here to watch our Grinding Rabbit Meat video.

I will tell you that we are very happy with our grinder.  It is very sturdy and has a huge 5 lb hopper.  It ground the meat effortlessly, although it was a bit noisy.  We are very pleased with it and think anyone would be.



We had rabbit burgers this afternoon.  We treat our rabbits with love and kindness, which is more than we can say for animal meat that you find in the market.  It is very low cost.  We feed our rabbits rabbit food and will be putting them on the ground to eat grasses with their food.  But the rabbits are helping to pay for themselves. We have sold two litters and it helps to buy the feed.  And, what we don't sell, we process for free food.

Also, as I stated in the video, CSN Stores gave us a gift certificate off one of their products for this review.  We could have purchased something cheaper and got it for free, but we got this for nearly half off.  I couldn't be happier.  Contact CSN Stores and see if they would like for you to review a product on your blog.  Couldn't hurt and it certainly helps you to get things for your homestead.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Product Review Preview - CSN Stores

I have been invited by CSN stores to review one of their products.  If you haven't ever visited one of their online stores, they have  wide variety of items, from swing sets to green houses and so much more.

I'll be back to do a review of the product that I have selected from them.  Be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Preparedness Radio Network, Blogtv and Youtube

Lately, I have been trying to soak up all the information I can.  I have discovered three sources of information on the Internet.  Youtube, Preparedness Radio Network on Blogtalkradio and Blogtv.  

Youtube is the oldest of the three.  And if you are a visual learner, like me, this is a great resource.  I have found that I can go to Youtube and search for almost anything and learn something on the subject.  Of course, the information is only as good as the informant.  You can run across some weird things there, but there is good information to be found.  My washer was not working properly and I searched for a video and was able to keep it going.
  
Check out my channel for a couple of videos.  More to come when the weather breaks. 
http://www.youtube.com/user/PreparedHousehold?feature=mhum  Also, check out my subscribers, they have a lot of good info to get you started.  

Another good resource is the Preparedness Radio Network on Blogtalkradio.  Show after show of information to help you prepare, homestead, etc. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/doctorprepper 
I have listened to shows on gardening, food storage...you name it.    I highly recommend it. 
If you sign up to be notified or "follow" the shows, you will receive an email.  Click on the link and listen live.  There is a live chat room where you can chat with like-minded people.  You can ask the show host questions and receive answers.  You can also listen to previous shows.  I have a widget on my blog to the left and you can click on it and listen while you read.  A good source of information.

A new kid on the block is Blogtv.  It is hard to search for preppers or homesteaders, you just have to know about them.  I have started having shows on Tuesday nights at 8 pm eastern.  http://www.blogtv.com/People/PreparedHousehold .  Subscribe and you will emailed when a show starts.  We have talked about personal disasters and gardening so far.  Another good channel is http://www.blogtv.com/People/americangamefowl
So, come join the fun.  You can learn and collaborate with like minded individuals.  

So, as always...be prepared.