This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by JET
I don’t want to survive, I want to live. Being prepared for anything has always been a part of my life. The scout motto”be prepared” was a way of life for me and a lesson to teach .As a kid I dint know we were poor we had food and a home and I was happy fixing things and making something from nothing.
Learning from older folks that survived the depression who were a wealth of knowledge can and always will be a source of how it can be done. save for what you want to fix what you have and adapt to your surroundings. We get lazy when we have excess of things and as Americans try to make things easy for our kids. Not teaching them the basics of living within your means is setting them up for failure. Anyone who thinks they will Just bug out and make it by their whit’s is fooling themselves. WE need to live the ideas we have for survival, not just in theory.
When things slowed in my chosen trade I started doing things without knowing it, but was practicing survival skills. As things looked more bleak I was doing more prepping in earnest. I do all the cooking at home because I was out of work and had to make good use of my time. Bread machines are cheap, second-hand stores are full of them. Making bread is a skill we need to learn and practice. While you have a computer search out skills and put them to work NOW.
Capturing natural yeast in the air and getting a sour dough started is important, buying yeast to make bread is good but if you can’t buy it you’ll need a leavening agent to make you bread rise.If you have a grinder, good, if not get one. I grind with a machine but have my hand crank grinder as back up. Eventually I could run out of fuel for the generator. Grinding seeds to make flour is a labor intensive process by hand but what meal is complete without bread.
In my retreat I have a wood oven and make sure to make enough to share with neighbors. They’re a few miles away but have things to offer. One loaf gets me a gallon of raw fresh milk,one loaf at the post office gets me two dozen eggs. Being isolated in a rural area and not knowing and trusting neighbors would not be a good place to be. We’ll need each other to barter. Open lines of communication and foster trust with the people who will be near you. That way you’re not just the nut flat lander who showed up with a bunch of guns and expected to be accepted in their community.
If your lucky enough to have milk near by or have a cow or goat of your own Keeping milk for any length of time is tricky and could pose health problems if you’re not careful. I started making yogurt at home too. search crock pot yogurt or making yogurt at home. I never cared for yogurt but hadn’t had it made fresh before. the learning curve at home is easier than having to start learning when its crucial.
I started with 2% at home in my crock pot warm to 180* and let cool to 115, 1/2 gallon at a time. When its 115 remove a few cups and inoculate with some live active culture. any store-bought live plain yogurt works to begin. Whisk in your inoculation( 1/2 cup of yogurt) Cover with a towel, jacket or blanket to keep warm over night. Or put in your oven with the light bulb on, if you have power .
My first batch looked like a lot of yogurt and figured it would sit in the fridge and not get used, or I’d make bread or a sauce or something. BUT it was gone the first day! The kids thought it was better than Ice cream and we had it for breakfast and desert. The fresh milk I get from the dairy farm made the best thick creamy stuff you could imagine. A spoon would stand up in it. It is good with berries or cereal.
I strain some in a coffee filter to make Greek yogurt that rivals cream cheese. Sauces with wild onion, chive, fresh garlic or other spices can help almost any meal taste better. My work with milk for making cheese has been a slow process. Some of the results have been ok but I have time here to work on honing my cheese making skills. I don’t want to be out in the woods trying to make my milk supply last and fail out there. The byproducts of cheese making and Greek yogurt is whey. It is a fine additive to any good bread makers mix. don’t waste anything. Hone your skills now, live it, do it while you have time.
Man does not live by bread alone. I have made some grape wine that was a good addition to any meal. Sugar and yeast are present in grapes making them the perfect candidate for making alcohol. Apples are abundant in my area and hard cider is a fine drink too. I add a cup of sugar to the apple cider and it starts working its magic making hard cider. Finding bottles to fill is often tricky but I have two good supplies. One is a fancy bar that sells imports with porcelain tops.
They give them away and oblige them buy hoarding as many as I can make space for. My other often untapped source for screw cap bottles is my local church. They recap the bottles and put them top down in the original box. a dozen bottles needing little care to reuse as they had wine in them already. My other commodity from the churches are candle stubs.
We’ll all need lighting in our retreat and candles will light the way to an evening of reading. I have hundreds of candles I made from scrap wax and fifty pounds of wax waiting to be melted. Using a double boiler, water in a pan and a #10 can of candle stubs I melt the wax. First find a tall vessel maybe 12-18 inches high to pout the melted wax into. Cut cotton string twice the length of the candle you want to make and add 4 inches or so. I suspend a wooden spoon or yard stick nearby and dip the doubled up string in the wax.
Hang them one candle on each side of the yard stick to cool a dozen at a time. As the last string is hung the first will be cool enough to dip again. Tapered candles are fun to make, give as gifts and can have color or scented wax added to the last dipping . They make good hand-made gifts now and stockpiled for future use as well. Start now opening up your source of wax and practice.
Anyone who has a garden know about feast and famine. The glut of food produced in the summer is nice but don’t waste an opportunity to stock up. Grandma liked “putting up” fresh stuff to save some harvest for winter. Done right its rewarding.
I have had luck finding mason jars in local online venues offering stuff for sale. Some of my home-made goods I sold for seed money to buy food for pantries, food banks and soup kitchens. I am in a small state and there are 300 soup kitchens and the number is growing. I posted a want add to buy jars old new , large or small. I ended up with 5 bushel baskets of jars, some real old ones with blue glass. I keep some of my jellies and sauce now but most goes to buy food for the ones without any.
Anyone who has hunted deer know it’s a skill you develop over time. Being thrust into a situation where you need to feed your family and don’t know the rules will hard place to be. You’re in the animals living room, they know the rules.
Sound and scent will give you away, perseverance and skill will keep you alive. Once you do get the 100 lbs of venison, how will you keep it? Canned meat is and option if you possess the skills to do so and have lots of jars for that purpose. But smoked meat is stable if kept in a dry palce.Here again is a huge learning curve you don’t want to gamble on in times of need. Hunting skills took me years to master.
Our skills and goods will be a good thing to barter. Will you be able to turn away a stranger or neighbor or friends and family. Or have to send them packing with a load of buck shot trailing them? Or have to because you’re not proficient in real world skills? If you can’t feed them you’ll at least be able to teach them and then they can be an asset to your needs. and have made a friend not a new enemy. A recent hurricane made me a popular guy. Neighbors knew who to ask, if I hadn’t offered already, a cord to plug-in to my generator. I made several new friends and used the opportunity to foster lines of trust and communications for future needs. I passed out hand-made candles and kept their freezers from shutting down.
Making a good on any situation is an important. That hurricane provided me with work and wood. I was paid to remove trees and brush, as well as stocking up on fire wood. Now I’m selling fire wood from my surplus.
The long and short is start now living simply. Don’t be forced to adapt when its crucial. Gandhi said “live simply , so others can simply live” Keep on preppin…
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:
First Prize) Winner will receive a Nomad – 1 Person Standard Survival Package courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply, a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms, a $150 gift certificate for Remington Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com and a EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves. A total prize value of over $875.
Second Prize) Winner will receive two (2) Rothco Sure Paks With Heater courtesy of Camping Survival, a Wise Food Vegetable bucket courtesy of LPC Survival and a Wonder Junior hand grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $509.
Third Prize) Winner will receive 3 – 27 Variety of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds, 2 – Fruit Pack of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds and 2- First Aid Kit with Sutures in a Waterproof Resealable Bag courtesy of Be Prepared Now. A total prize value of over $215.
Contest ends on March 30 2012.