Food Storage

How to Build a “Stairway to Heaven” Rat Trap in 15 Minutes

by Todd Walker

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Rats… I hate rats!

We dropped our bushcraft kits in my shop when we got home. I’d just taught my grandson to cook his first simple meal over our campfire – Raman noodles! The next morning I was greeted with this…

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Good thing we don’t live in bear country

In our excitement over his latest bushcraft lesson, we forgot to remove his food items from his pack.

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Rat noodles!

Apparently, rats love Raman noodles.

Actually, these rodents will eat just about anything. We were fortunate that we only lost a pack of cheap noodles and was left with only one extra opening in his pack. If left to their own survival instincts – they gotta eat – rats can destroy non-hardened food storage items and spread disease.

I’m always trying to build a better mouse trap. I saw a couple of bucket rat traps on YouTube that seemed clever. This would be the perfect time to test the theory.

Here’s how to make a bucket rat trap in 15 minutes from everyday stuff.

How to Make a Bucket Rat Mouse Trap 

Gather Your Stuff

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • One 5 gallon bucket
  • One unopened can of liquid
  • Ice pick, awl, or drill bit for making holes
  • Pliers
  • Wire
  • Bait – peanut butter

First Step

Drill two holes on opposite sides of the bucket about a half-inch below the rim. The hole diameter should be a little larger than the wire you’ve chosen to use.

Second Step

Remove the paper label. Use you’re ice pick or drill to bore a hole in the center of the can lid. If you plan to reuse the liquid, turn the can over and bore another hole in the bottom of the can over a container. This will vent the can and empty in a few minutes.

Third Step

Skewer the can with the wire. This took time and patience trying to thread the wire through the second hole blindly. You could use a clear water bottle with the cap on to make this easier.

Once the wire is through both ends, make sure the wire extends a few inches past the bucket on both edges. With the threaded can centered over the bucket, crimp the wire at both ends of the can. This will keep the can sliding to the edge of the bucket which would defeat the trap.

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Once crimped, insert the wire into both holes. You will need to bend the second side of the wire to get it in the hole. Just straighten the wire after it’s through the hole. Center the can over the bucket opening and bend the spare wire on the outside of the bucket around the bucket rim to keep the can centered over the bucket.

Fourth Step

If you think you’ve got a rat to deal with, pour about 6 to 8 inches of water in the bucket.Big rats can jump. The water prevents the vermin from leaping to freedom. For mice, use less water. At least that’s the theory…

—————————————————

PROJECT ALERT!

Warning: You’re about to see dead stuff! If easily offended by the sight of dead rats, turn back now!

Just walked out to my shop to check the bait and Ratzilla just ran up the wall onto some storage shelves. This sucker stands on the edge of the bucket eating my peanut butter!

Change of plans. This bucket trap may work for mice but not for this nemesis! As Roy Scheider, star of Jaws, said when he laid eyes on the shark, “Your going to need a bigger boat.” When dealing with Ratzilla and his kin, you’re going to need a bigger bucket!

I stand there in shock as he hides on top of the shelf mocking me with his shrieks. It’s on! No more cute little YouTube contraptions. You know, there are times when a better mouse trap has already been built. Use it!

I pulled a rat trap from my bushcraft kit. Large rat traps are part of my survival trapping kit. They’re useful for trapping tree rats (squirrels) and other small game in a survival scenario.

I’ll finish the MOUSE trap tutorial in a moment. But for now, I’ll share my progression of trap sets for this monster…

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Epic fail! The Victor rat trap trigger had been stripped of peanut butter and was dangling from the bucket. Now what? DRG suggested that the “Stairway to Heaven” was not wide enough and the Victor trap needed to be placed, as designed, flat on the floor. I reset the trap and anchored it. I’ve had rats drag traps out of reach before. Rotting rat inside a wall is not pleasant!

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

I ditched the bucket and used the Victor rat trap alone. Think he’ll drag 10 pounds?

Update: He didn’t have to. He cleaned the peanut butter off the trigger… AGAIN!! I’m ready to load the .38 with snake shot! On second thought, he may take a hollow point. This is war!

DRG suggested using a different bait, one he wouldn’t easily remove. I modified the trigger to make the V-shaped metal tab stick up at a 45º angle. I then formed a ball of cheese around the trigger and reset the trap.

Thirty minutes later I flip the light switch on with my neck hair bristled. It looked like a murder scene minus the white chalk outline. Finally, Ratzilla was dead. I’ll spare you the bloody shots. No, this is not the bloody shot below. He measured over 15 inches from nose to tip of the tail.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

R.I.P Ratzilla

If you see one, there is usually more. And they don’t leave on their own accord. I reset the trap after 11 o’clock that night – way past my bed time. Checked the next morning and one of his girlfriends couldn’t resist the cheese. Disposed of her and reset. You guessed it, caught another one! Three dead rats.

Note about sanitation: Avoid handling dead rats and mice with your bare hands. Wash your hands throughly after handling rat traps.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

——————————————-

“Stairway to Heaven” How-to Continued…

Not sure if the continuation of the tutorial is even necessary at this point. I didn’t have a mouse problem, I had rats! This is why I continue to stress the importance of trading theory for ACTION before you actually need critical gear and equipment.

Here’s how to finish the bucket mouse trap.

Fifth Step

Spread peanut butter over the surface of the can. When a mouse scurries up the ramp to eat, in theory, he will leap to the can for the bait, spin off the wheel and drown. I can’t see why this bucket mouse trap wouldn’t work on mice.

Trading Theory for Action Lessons

This set up is genius on paper. It would allow me to catch multiple varmints without having to re-bait or reset the trap. Set it and forget. But in real life, you’re going to need a bigger bucket – or smaller rats.

The thought of using a wide-mouth bucket to increase the distance to the bait wheel occurred to me early on in this epic battle. But due to my obsession with destroying Ratzilla’s posse in a timely manner, I had no time to waste. I wanted them dead. Now!

What I discovered is that my bucket trap was nothing more than a rolling rotisserie for large rats. Stick with proven traps for Ratzilla and company or build a better mouse trap.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

How I Preserve Food: Modern Mountain Man MRE’s

by Todd Walker

Humans have been preserving their harvest well before modern conveniences like pressure canners and deep freezers were invented. Preserving the harvest was the art of delaying nature’s natural effect on food – spoilage.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Being resourceful… and just plain hungry, our ancestors figured out ways to make food safe to eat long after living food was dead. Fermenting, smoking, drying, grinding, pounding, salting, and/or curing were preservation methods Native Americans, frontiersmen, long hunters, mountain men, and pioneers used.

None of the above, are you?

Maybe you hike, camp, or hunt. What I’m about to share will even be useful to hungry desk jockeys looking for a  protein-rich, healthy snack you won’t find in the processed-food vending machine at the office.

The vast majority of us are not mountain men/women or Amazon explorers (not the online store). We’re simply on a modern-day journey of self-reliance. You have to eat now and later. Learning to preserve foods with traditional methods is a skill you’ll be glad to own when the power grid fails.

In the meantime, let’s make a Mountain Man MRE (Meals Ready To Eat). The MRE will consist of four items; pemmican, jerky, parched corn, and dried blueberries. Here is another article on our site for pemmican with dried fruit mixed in. Parched corn is being added to the MRE with a brief tutorial. Today’s post will focus on making jerky in traditional fashion – over an open fire.

Modern and old ways will meld together. For instance, I used our electric Excalibur dehydrator for drying corn to parch and made jerky over a fire pit. This is my modern version of traditional trail foods eaten by Native Americans, fur traders, and mountain men.

Our Mountain Man MRE’s need to meet the following criteria:

  • Convenience – similar to pre-packaged, processed fast food - only ours is whole food and healthy
  • Storable – long-lasting without modern refrigeration
  • Transportable - dense, compact, and light-weight (less than 1/2 pound)
  • Tasty – an acquired taste by some but I love this primal stuff

Onto the first item of your MRE…

How to Make Jerky

If this is your first attempt at making jerky, you may want to read how to safely dry meat in my Definitive Guide to Making Jerky.

Being a Mountain Man MRE, this was a fine opportunity to dry meat over an open fire. I’ve cooked many meals over campfires but never made jerky this way.

What new stuff did you do today?

Every new preserving technique we own, no matter how small, is one step closer to food independence.

Step 1

Start a fire with hard wood to create a coal bed. A fire pit is nice if you have one. A charcoal grill may work for you.

Step 2

Design a way to hang the meat. I used poplar and sweet gum saplings lashed to my outdoor kitchen tripod.

How to Make Modern Mountain Man MRE's

Step 3

With a bed of coals underneath the rack, place the meat over the heat. The rack was about two feet over the fire.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Jerky hanging

Then the rain came down. I improvised and wrapped a tarp around the tripod which did two things; protected the fire, and created a smoke chamber accidentally.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Smoke house teepee

Step 4

Wait. The meat took about 4 hours to dry on the fire. I keep the coals going from time to time by adding wood at the back of the fire pit. The key here is to keep a constant heat (shoot for 225-250º F) inside the smoke house. Low and slow. You not cooking the meat.

Step 5

Check for doneness. If the jerky strips bends and no fibers are exposed at the bend, it’s not ready to be used for pemmican. You want a very dry meat that can be ground into powder.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Now you’re ready for the next item on our MRE package…

How to Make Traditional Pemmican

Down and dirty (traditional) pemmican consist of dried meat and rendered fat. I’ve seen a few fat-free pemmican recipes on the internet but that idea is just plain ludicrous and feeds the big fat lie. Stick with healthy, grass-fed fat for a satiating trail food. Ever heard of rabbit starvation? If you hate the thought of eating fat, substitute honey as a binding agent instead of tallow. Peanut butter pemmican is another option.

For today’s recipe, we’re using rendered tallow and jerky made over an open fire – mountain man style!

Disclaimer: This was my first attempt at jerking meat over a fire. Not an easy task in the rain – but doable. After the jerky was ready over the fire pit (approximately 4 hours), for added safety, I tossed it into our Excalibur for an extra hour. Also, modern kitchen appliances were used to grind and prep the jerky. The old school method is to place the dried meat on a stone and pound it to a powder. Gotta gather me some stones next time!

 Step 1

You’ll need equal parts of tallow and ground jerky. Here’s how I render tallow. You may add dried fruit to the mix if you like. I prefer the taste without the fruit.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Jerky dried over an open fire

For time’s sake, I used our Vitamix blender to turn jerky strips into a fine powder. Dump the powder in a mixing bowl while your tallow is warming on the stove.

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Jerky powder!

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Pre-made tallow melting

When heating the tallow, don’t allow it to get so hot that it smokes/burns. Low to medium heat here.

Step 2

Pour a small amount of tallow into the powdered jerky and stir. Don’t pour all the tallow in at once. It’s easier to add more tallow than to grind more jerky.

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It took two pours of tallow for the correct consistency

Step 3

You’ll know when you’ve got enough tallow mixed in with the jerky when it compresses without crumbling.

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Needs more tallow

Add too much tallow and the pemmican’s jerky flavor will be overwhelmed by tallow. Mix while your tallow is warm to better saturate the meat powder.

Step 4

When the right consistency is achieved, add mixture to a loaf pan. Press it down evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and, with one motion, drop the upside down loaf pan onto the paper. Lift the pan and you should have perfect pemmican. Another option is to form pemmican patties or balls. I’ve thought about sprinkling powered sugar on top and slipping these on the snack table at faculty meetings. ;) I’ll video the response and get back with you.

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Pemmican loaf!

Wrap the wax paper around the loaf and place it in the refrigerator until the tallow hardens. Slice into individual serving sizes and wrap in wax paper. Place in a container (ziplock bag or paper bag) for your next adventure. Wax paper and ziplock baggies have redundant uses… wax paper = fire starter; ziplock bags = container.

Or – go fur trader style and stash your fresh pemmican in a “parfleche” – an untanned animal skin bag. For further reading on the benefits of this amazing trail food, check out my article on Bread of the Wilderness.

Pemmican may be eaten as stand alone snack/meal or added to beef up wild onion soup for a hot trail meal.

Add the third item to your MRE…

How to Make Parched Corn

Dried corn that has been roasted is called parched corn. Removing/reducing he moisture content makes the corn last a long time. Parched corn is easier on the teeth than plain dried corn. You’ve bitten a popcorn kernel before, right?

Ideally, you’d walk out to your corn crib and grab a few ears. If you’re like me, you may not have access to dried corn on the cob. Dirt Road Girl and I took a road trip looking for dried corn. We stopped at a local organic farm we buy from, but their corn crop was gone and stalks plowed under.

We ended up buying two green ears for this experiment. I shucked them and tossed them into our dehydrator as a test – along with a bag of frozen organic grocery store corn. The bag corn was cut from the cob. Traditionally, you’d want the whole kernel. We adapted and used the cut corn. Dehydrating corn on the cob was a big waste of time.

Step 1

Heat a pan/skillet over medium heat. You can parch corn in a dry pan or with oil added. I tried both and found the dry pan batch tasted the best. You’d think bacon fat would make anything taste better. Not with the corn.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Parching with bacon grease

Add salt or other spices (optional) to the pan and cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer of dried corn. Shake the pan to keep the corn from scorching. A spatula is also helpful for stirring. Keep the pan and corn moving for a few minutes until it turns golden brown. Dump that batch and add another.

Step 2

Allow it to cool and bag and tag your snack. Pretty simple.

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The completed Modern Mountain Man MRE!

Pictured above is the full-meal deal: Two bars of pemmican, one bag of parched corn, one bag (about 8 pc.) of water buffalo jerky, and a bag of dehydrated blueberries. The entire Mountain Man MRE weighed less than 1/2 pound (0.418 # to be exact).

Where’s the bread? Since I don’t eat bread, I didn’t include traditional hardtack in the MRE. Survival News Online has a great how-to for your reference if you’d like to make your own.

Hopefully, this light-weight, nutrient dense MRE will keep you moving on your next outing. Toss it in your coat pocket or haversack and you’re set for mobile fast food on the trail!

To see how a few of my Prepared Blogger friends preserve foods, check out our “How We Preserve Foods” round robin below with over 20 articles to help you achieve food independence!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

The Prepared Bloggers - How We Preserve Foods

Join us as we share different reasons and methods of how we preserve food to create a long-term storage plan for our families. Click on each link to be taken to a new blog with helpful information and tips.

Mom with a PREPHow to Dehydrate Ginger and Make Ginger Powder

Preparedness MamaMake Jam Without Pectin

Mama KautzDehydrating

Busy B HomemakerFreezer Jam

Ed That MattersAnyone Can Do It: Fool Proof Food Storage

The Apartment PrepperEasy Marinated Mushrooms

The Homesteading HippyHow to Use Your Pressure Canner

Montana HomesteaderMaking and Preserving Cherry Pit Syrup

Are We Crazy or WhatHow to Dehydrate Cherries

Your Thrive LifeHow I Preserve Food: Meals in a Jar

Melissa K NorrisRe-Usable Canning Tattler Lids-Do They Really Work?

Real Food LivingPreserve and Store Grains wiith Dry Ice

Cooke’s FrontierSmoking

Homestead DreamerWater Bath Canning

Evergrowing FarmHow to Preserve Red Chile

Survival SherpaModern Mountain Man MRE’s

The Backyard PioneerFermentation

Trayer WildernessHow We Preserve Food

Living Life in Rural IowaVegetable Soup

The Organic PrepperHow to Make Jam without using added Pectin

Homesteading MomHow I Preserve Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

A Matter of PreparednessHow I Preserve Using Mylar Bags

 

Categories: Camping, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

The 4 Standards of SmartPrepper’s Nutrition Plan

by Todd Walker

Part 3a in our series – The Essential Pillars of Preparedness for SmartPreppers

Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

[In Part 3a, I felt the need to supplement Part 3 with the 4 essential standards of any SmartPrepper’s healthy nutrition plan]

Six pack abs are built in the kitchen – not the gym.

The 4 Standards of SmartPrepper's Nutrition Plan

Training time in the kitchen pays off! Image Source

This is not a tutorial on how to build sculpted Spartan abs. However, if that’s your goal, spend more time prepping in the kitchen than over-training in the gym.

Here’s the thing.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat!

You won’t reach optimal health or survival without feeding your body good stuff. Could you survive eating processed junk? Yes – for a while. But eventually your SADiet (Standard American Diet) food choices will turn into SADisease (Standard American Disease).

Here are the main SADiseases linked to the SADiet: obesity, type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, and over 30% of cancers. Consuming processed food (chemicals resembling food) is the best path to leaving the land of the living.

That’s the SAD news.

Here’s the GOOD news – SADisease is completely preventable – even reversible!

Making simple chances to your eating pattern can prevent you from being a SADisease statistic. Knowledge is empowering. But only if you take action and start Doing the Stuff for optimal health.

Part of Doing the Stuff is practicing skills before a crisis occurs. We call it Preventative Prepping. You can apply the same principle nutritionally to prevent SADisease and reach optimal health.

Healthy nutrition is not only an essential pillar of preparedness, it’s the foundation upon which all other pillars rest. Nutritional professionals, aided by Big Agra and corrupt corporations, have successfully demonized what your body needs to thrive before and after any crisis.

So, what does a ‘healthy’ nutrition plan look like?

A SmartPrepper’s nutrition plan should include these 4 standards 

1.) Nourishes your body

Avoid processed foods. You can only read food labels if your food is pre-package. Eat what your body needs to thrive. Most packaged, processed foods don’t meet this standard and leave you overfed and under nourished. Instead of eating chemicals resembling food, feed your body real, whole foods like these ….

  • Naturally raised animals
  • Plants
  • Nuts
  • Free-range eggs
  • Healthy fats – butter from grass-fed animals, coconut oil, nuts, to name a few (if you’re fat, you’re not eating enough fat)
  • Fermented foods gets your gut flora in shape

2.) Recharge your brain batteries

Here’s a study suggesting that eating foods rich in vitamin B12 will keep your brain from shrinking and stave off dementia. Meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk should be part of your balanced nutrition plan. Liver and shellfish are your best bet for boosting your B12 intake – especially for senior preppers. 

More smart foods that nourish your noggin:

  • Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast.
  • Nuts – excellent for your grey matter
  • Check out the Brain Pyramid here

3.) Feeling full

Does your food satisfy your body and kill hunger? If an hour passes and you’re hungry again after eating, it’s a good chance you’re not feeding your body what it needs to stay satiated. High carb, sugary meals may be the culprit.

Eat from the list on #1 above. Quality, saturated fat is the key to feeling full.

4.) Peak physical performance

Eat a diet of happy animals who ate a healthy, natural diet, plenty of green, leafy plants, and listen to what your body tells you. You body is a high-performance machine. Treat it that way.

Take action, analyze, and adjust to how your body reacts to the fuel you feed it. Action is the first step.

These are the four standards to keep in mind when making your grocery list and food storage plan. You may think this is not realistic for long-term storage. If you’d like, you can take a peek at my Primal Pantry here.

This is not a fad diet. It must become a lifestyle. Once you begin your journey to food freedom and healthy nutrition, you’ll begin to see positive results. Eating healthy stops being something you have to do and become something you love to do.

You’re plan doesn’t have to be perfect. The key is to start and make this a lifestyle change. It gets easier the more you do the stuff.

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

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Categories: Food Storage, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Rendering Tallow for Cooking and 12 Other Uses

by Todd Walker

Rendering the fat of animals (beef, sheep, bear, deer, and poultry) is a process that produces tallow. Lard is pig fat that has been rendered. Since I don’t have a source of pastured pig fat, I use grass-fed beef fat. My butcher at our local Earth Fare market freezes grass-fed beef fat just for me. Just picked up 8 more pounds yesterday. I’m now known as the ‘fat man’ every time I walk by their meat counter.

Finding Healthy Fat

Don’t expect to find grass-fed beef fat at big chain supermarkets. I’ve not had success dealing with the big boys. If you don’t have a store that sells grass-fed animals, local farmers may be an option. Of course, the animals need to be raised naturally – not factory farmed.

Here’s a couple of resources that will ship omega 3 and CLA-rich grass-fed tallow to your door!

Why grass-fed, free-range, and naturally raised? Factory farmed animals are pumped with hormones, fed chemicals, and are just not happy animals. Just ask them. If you use tallow for cooking or skin care, you want the best quality fat you can find.

If the thought of eating tallow is disgusting to your delicate sensitivities or eating style, consider the many other uses for animal fat.

12 Non-Cooking Uses for Tallow

1. Cooking is the most obvious use at our home. Tallow has a high smoke point (420 degrees) making it an excellent oil for frying foods. This means you can fry on higher heats without creating free radicals in the oil which is a concern with vegetable oils.

2. Skin care – Saturated animal fat (tallow) was used for beauty products back before the low-fat myth became ‘truth.’ Your grandma and grandpa likely used it to heal cracked, dry hands and as a moisturizer.

Tallow is biologically compatible with our bodies largest organ, our skin. Animal fat contains vitamins A, D, K, and E.

Tallow (especially tallow from grass-fed animals) also contains fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as palmitoleic acid, which has natural antimicrobial properties. – Source

3. Lubricate stuff, like the proverbial squeaky wheel. Tallow greases moving parts but is resistant to water. Steam engines and ships uses tallow for many years to keep things running smoothly.

4. Flux for soldering.

5. Leather conditioner.

6. Soap making. The best shaving bars are made from tallow.

7. Candle making. Can’t make a traditional candle? Improvise by placing tallow in a container with a piece of cotton clothe in emergencies.

8. Biodegradable motor oil.

9. Deer tallow is preferred by German athletes to make a salve to prevent sore skin and blisters.

10. Biodiesel. Tallow can be used like plant-based material to produce diesel.

11. Make your own pemmican.

12. Pastry baking.

13. Lubricate muskets and rifles.

If you’re wondering, here are some nutrition facts about this healthy fat:

Nutrition

 

The DiY Rendering Process

Step 1: Trim the grass-fed beef (or other animal fat). You want to get all the red meat off the fat.

Step 2: Cut into small squares. The smaller the cuts, the more surface area is exposed. I did this cutting twice. Then, in a stroke of SmartPrepper brilliance, I pulled out my meat grinder. Now I just stuff the trimmed fat into the meat grinder and collect it my cast iron pan.

Way faster and creates more surface area!

Way faster and creates more surface area!

Step 3: Load your cut or ground fat into a pan or cooking container. I use a large cast iron skillet. Be careful not to overload the pan with fat. It will cook down. But you don’t want to have to transfer hot tallow if it’s up to the lip of your container.

Step 4: Heat your pan of fat on low heat. I shoot for 200-250 degrees. I set up in my outdoor kitchen. My turkey fryer is my heat source. You can use your stove if you don’t mind smelling up your house a bit. It ain’t as bad as cooking chitlins. Still, a distinctive odor.

Almost ready.

Almost ready.

As I’m typing this, I’m thinking I could use my Big Green Egg on my next batch. It’s so easy to control the temp – set it, and forget it!

Step 5: Stir the fat occasionally just make sure it doesn’t sick to the bottom of your pan. You’ll notice liquid starting to collect in the pan. If it begins to smoke, you’re burning fat and not rendering it. Turn down the heat.

Step 6: Once you notice the fat turning a dark brown (think crispy bacon), you’re done. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for a while. If it cools to room temp, you’ll have to reheat to liquefy for pouring.

Step 7: Once it’s cooled down a bit, pour the contents through a fine mesh strainer. You can add cheese cloth to the strainer to catch even smaller pieces. I’ve stored tallow in wide mouth mason jars. We go through tallow pretty quickly around here. Mostly, we just pour it up in a few two-quart containers and place them in the fridge. Tallow can be stored in the freezer as well.

Oxidation can cause the tallow to go rancid. From what I’ve read and followed myself, rendering the water out of the tallow prevents the oxidation to occur. To be on the safe side, we store ours in the fridge.

I’ve read of other methods of rendering tallow by using a slow cookers. Never tried it.

Any of you rendered tallow or lard in a different way? I’m always interested in learning new ways. Drop your method in the comments if you’d like.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Natural Health, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

How to Build a Big FAT Pantry!

by Todd Walker

Part 3 in our series – The Essential Pillars of Preparedness for SmartPreppers

This is not your typical food storage article. You won’t find buckets of wheat lining our pantry wall. But you may find a few 5 gallon buckets of coconut oil.

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry!

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry!

Photo by The Organic Prepper

Food is what fuels your body to do all the pushing, pulling, lifting, and surviving – doing the big stuff. But doing the big stuff starts by feeding the small stuff – your cells.

Your body’s 100 trillion cells depend on proper fuel for rebuilding,  regeneration, and healing. Cells need real food to do this stuff.

I had planned on covering more than just healthy fats today, but felt friendly fat needed an article all to itself. We’ll cover more real food later in this series. Stay tuned!

The Big Fat Prepping Paradigm

For optimal performance, you wouldn’t put three-year old untreated, emergency gasoline in your vehicle and expect the engine not to skip, knock, and sputter. It’s a very good chance your ride will leave you stranded at a time you need it most.

And it doesn’t matter how pretty the paint job looks. It’s the things that are NOT seen that cause locomotion.

So, it stands to reason that we should take care of our tiny cells that are hidden under our exterior. Actually, our ‘paint job’ is made of cells too.

In an emergency situation, especially a long-term disaster, you’ll want your body to perform at optimal levels. Firing on only 3 cylinders of your body’s high-performance V-8 engine won’t get you very far.

To get the most out of your ‘motor,’ feed it real, nutrient-dense food.

You don’t have to look hard to see the fat myth alive and… err, getting fatter by the day. In spite of the history of our species and scientific fact, most people still believe fat is a killer and should be avoided like your crazy aunt at family reunions.

Your view of fat depends on what prism you’re looking through.

One dictionary definition of prism is…

~ a medium that distorts, slants, or colors whatever is viewed through it

The unavoidable truth, if you’re willing to dig deeper, is that we humans prefer (physiologically) fat over carbs to fuel our bodies. Our genes came from fat burning ancestors. The obesity epidemic we face today comes from all the glucose released from the high carb grains and sugar of the Western Pattern Diet.

Fat Fuels

When I first ditched grains and sugars I had a hard time figuring out what fats to eat. But once I found them and got fat adapted, my reset button on my genes (and jeans) got pushed. My personal diet consists of about 50% fat intake. So…

What do I store in my fat pantry?

  • Animal Fats. These are on top of my list. Tallow, lard, fat fish oil full of Omega-3′s (the fatter the fish, the better). Think canned sardines in olive oil – not water – preferably wild caught fish.
  • Pemmican. Here’s my recipe. Prepared and stored correctly, it’ll last for years. My recipe included dried blueberries. For a better recipe, click this link. This is shared for educational purposes only. Do your research and eat at your own risk.
Good thing you don't eat with your eyes!

Good thing you don’t eat with your eyes!

  • Coconut Oil. This oil is about 92% saturated fat and has an excellent shelf life of several years. I eat it, cook with it, and use it on my skin after shaving. Here are 160 more uses for this amazing oil.
  • Olive Oil. Buy the virgin oil.
  • Nuts. Loaded with healthy fats, nuts are always close to me at home and work. I eat a small handful in between meals if I get hungry. To keep them from going rancid, we store almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and other varieties in the freezer. If our electricity is lost for an extended time, nuts would come out of the freezer and could be eaten without a fire source.
  • Yogurt. We don’t actually store yogurt in the pantry. It’s a good source of fat, though. Learn to make your own organic yogurt so you never run out. And none of that low-fat stuff.
  • Eggs. The dark yellow yoke of yard bird eggs is what you’re going for. You can preserve your real eggs without refrigeration.
  • Butter. Canning butter is an option for longer storage. Can only unsalted butter.
  • Rendered Tallow and Lard. I render my own grass-fed beef fat. I have a butcher at an organic market that freezes the fat for me. I buy it very cheaply – $1.00 or less per pound. After rendering the fat, we store it in the fridge and freezer for cooking. An old preserving technique of pouring rendered fat over meat has been used for years.
Rendering tallow in a cast iron skillet - outside. It can smell up the kitchen.

Rendering tallow in a cast iron skillet – outside. It can smell up the kitchen.

  • Ghee. Choose products that are made from quality, grass-fed butter. Making your own is cheaper. Butter contains 16% water and milk fat solids that cause it to spoil if not refrigerated. Ghee is almost pure fat and will last a couple of years in a dark, cool pantry.

I haven’t personally tried the Fat Fuels listed below. I’ve heard good things about them. If you have, please share your experience with the rest of us.

  • Avocado oil
  • Palm oil
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Red palm oil

Fats to Avoid – No, Never Eat!

For optimal, long-term health, do not eat refined oils like canola, corn and soybean oil. Avoid all hydrogenated oils. I do own one can of Crisco. It’s earmarked for an emergency candle :D

Here’s my attitude on food storage. The longer the shelf life, the shorter your shelf. DRG and I don’t aim to store food that will last 30 years in a dark basement. Ideally, we shoot for foods that last 6 months to a year. We store what we eat.

Got any tips on storing fat? Please leave them in the comment sections!

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

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Essential Pillars of Preparedness Series

Categories: Food Storage, Preparedness | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Daisy Luther’s Plan for Stocking One Year of Food in 3 Months

Editor’s note: What would you do if you lost your food in a fire or disaster or moving to another country? Here’s Daisy Luther’s first hand experience of starting over with a plan to build a one year supply in 3 months. 

Be sure to check out her bio at the end of this article. This article was originally published on her website, The Organic Prepper

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S. – For the Primal folks, you can adjust the food items to your lifestyle. 

———————–

THE PANTRY PRIMER: HOW TO BUILD A ONE YEAR FOOD SUPPLY IN THREE MONTHS

Posted by:  | on August 4, 2013

pantry primer

Did you ever stop to think about what you would do if all of your preps were gone?  Heaven forbid such a misfortune might happen, but what if your pantry was wiped out in a fire or flood?  If you had to start over, how would you go about it?

As many of you know, my daughter and I have recently moved across the continent, from the easternmost part of Ontario to the Pacific Northwestern US.  Because we were crossing the border, driving through extreme heat, and then storing our belongings in a trailer for a month, I couldn’t bring our food supplies.  We still have our tools and equipment, but we are starting over as far as our pantry is concerned.  As well, we only brought a small trailer, so we are also starting from scratch for goods like toilet paper and laundry soap.

Being without my one-year supply of food makes me feel uncomfortable and very vulnerable, given the economic circumstances in the US today.  To make matters worse, because of the timing of the move, I won’t have a garden to rely on this year aside from a couple of tomato and pepper plants that my friend kindly allowed me to plant in her own garden.

We are fortunate enough to be staying with friends while waiting for our new home to become available, and much to our anticipation, we’ll be moving in this week.  I’ve gotten away from blogging about the day-to-day stuff, but I thought that it might be interesting, especially to new preppers, to see how we rebuild our food supply and get our little farm going on a very tight budget. (That move was expensive!)

Why do you need a one year food supply?

Why do you need a one year food supply?

Simple. A one year food supply means freedom.  It means that you are less subject to the whims of the economy. You can handle small disasters with aplomb.  You aren’t reliant on the government if a crisis strikes.

Food is a control mechanism and has been for centuries.  I wrote an article recently about how governments around the world have used food as a way to subjugate people and bend them to the will of tyrannical leaders.

Here we are, just like at other times in history, right on the verge of losing freedoms to the government machine.  In question is our right to bear arms, our economy, our choices in health care and taxation without representation (via the Obamacare bill).  The offerings at the grocery stores are not just poor, they’re toxic, but growing your own food is frowned upon and made difficult.  Many people believe martial law is close at hand, and there is discussion in the US Congress about microchipping people and about requiring global ID cards.

We are being spied on, taxed, and silenced.  The sheeple don’t care – they just want that next refill on the EBT card, or the next paycheck that will go to pay the minimum payment on their maxed-out credit card. There will be different levels of resistance before it gets to the point of starving people into submission.

First, there are the liberal left-wingers, who don’t require persuasion or bribery – they are giving away their freedom with both hands for the greater good.

Then, you have the dumbed-down population on assistance by choice.  It would be an easy thing to persuade them to take a microchip or hand over their guns.  In fact, we’re seeing just that with the buy-back programs, where folks are trading guns for gift cards.

As times get more desperate (and they will, you can count on it) regular everyday people, like the ones you work with, will give up what seems like a tiny amount of freedom in order to have the “privilege” of putting more food on the table or keeping a roof over the head of their families for another month or two.

That’s when the real crackdown will begin.  When the majority of people are subjugated, tagged and inventoried, even more than they are now,  that’s when the rest of us will be targeted.  Suddenly, without an ID chip, we won’t be able to access our bank accounts.  This would mean that we can’t buy necessities or pay our bills.  If we won’t surrender our weapons, we won’t be able to send our kids to school or access our money to buy food.  Our children won’t be able to see a doctor if they’re sick.  The plan will be to make us so desperate that we will opt for subjugation over freedom.  And they’ll use food to do it.

But you can avoid all of this…simply by being self-reliant. And that starts with a pantry full of food.

The Plan

The goal is to rebuild a healthy one-year food supply over the next three months.  I plan to do that using the following methods:

  • Shopping the sales
  • Buying in bulk
  • Buying from local farmers and preserving the harvest
  • Getting a fall garden going

Our budget isn’t big.  We are starting at square one – our cupboards are absolutely empty. Our journey is comparable to that of a family with a week-to-week budget who is just beginning to build a pantry.  Because we are concurrently shopping for groceries and all of those odds and ends which arise when you move into a new home, I won’t be able to blow an entire weeks’ grocery money on a 100 pound bag of sugar and a 100 pound bag of wheat berries – I have to also keep us fed, healthy, and in clean clothing. After a few weeks of building the pantry, I’ll be able to forgo a weekly shopping trip and put that money towards some large purchases.

pantry now

Today’s Shopping Trip

Today we took a small shopping trip to Big Lots and found some good sales.  Please keep in mind that the foods I purchased can probably be found cheaper than what I paid. However, I opt for organic and chemical free whenever possible. The good health we enjoy from our careful eating habits is well worth the added expense to me.

  • 2 boxes of organic granola $1.95 ea
  • 1 box of organic puffed wheat cereal $1.50
  • 1 box of couscous $2
  • 4 pounds of organic brown rice $2.80
  • 1 box of organic instant oatmeal packs (cringe) $2.50
  • 2 pound bag of sea salt $2
  • 2 cans of organic pasta fagioli soup $1.50 ea
  • 5 containers of spices $8
  • 1 bottle of extra virgin olive oil $6.50

Total with tax:  $33.72

Except for the olive oil, half of the above items will be repackaged and moved to the pantry for storage.  We also purchased

  • 60 rolls of toilet paper $15.00
  • 2 pump bottles of hand soap $1 ea.
  • 1 jug of laundry soap $4
  • 2 bottles of dish soap $1 ea

The laundry soap will last us until we gather the supplies to make our own homemade soap in a couple of weeks.

The dried beans and the peanut butter weren’t a good price, so I’m still on the lookout for those.  We’ll require some fresh items once we get moved in this week: fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, and I plan to pick most of those up at the farmer’s market on Friday.

If you’re new at this…

Please don’t be discouraged when you see all of the doom and gloom out there.  You can take the most important step today…the step of getting started.  I invite you to take this journey with me – we’ll both have a year’s supply of food in no time at all!

About the author: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

 

Categories: Food Storage, Frugal Preps, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Fermented Foods: Feeding Your Second Brain

by Todd Walker

There are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than total cells in your body. All those microscopic critters can either help or hurt.

For thousands of years humans have used this ancient method to extend the usefulness of food. The Greeks called it ‘alchemy.’ Not the kind where you’d attempt to change base metals into gold. No. They discovered that the chemical change that took place in fermentation was very beneficial in preserving food. This was before we even knew bacteria existed.

diy sauerkraut

Down and Dirty Sauerkraut in the making

Now we know there’s more to this fermentation stuff than just making food last longer. The fermentation process boosts nutritional value, vitamin level, and the seer number of beneficial bacteria as it transforms cabbage into Down and Dirty Sauerkraut, raw dairy into yogurt, and cacao into dark chocolate. Even for us non-grain eating Primal/Paleo types, an occasional slice or two of sourdough bread made from fermented wheat is a better choice if you just gotta have a slice of bread sometime.

Fermentation takes food that is indigestible and turns it into a vitamin rich, microscopic, gut flora building power house.

Listen to Your Second Brain

I often advise people to ‘follow your gut‘ when struggling over a big decision. It seems there’s more to this gut-brain axis than we think.

According to Dr. Mercola,

Your gut literally serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin—known to have a beneficial influence on your mood—than your brain does.

Your gut is also home to countless bacteria, both good and bad. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to one, and maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health—physical, mental and emotional. [Emphasis mine]

More importantly, the good bacteria in fermented foods promote self-healing. Science has proven what people have been practicing for thousands of years: Delicious, bacteria laden foods promote optimal health.

You may be eating fermented food without realizing it. Here’s a few ‘rotten’ items that you probably enjoy:

  • Cheese
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Pickles
  • Vinegar
  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Beer and wine
  • Seal flippers – One of you favorites, right? Add this one if you’re bugging out to the Arctic.
  • And one of my favorites – sauerkraut

Feed Your Second Brain

All of the yummy goodness listed above (with the exception of seal flippers) are Second Brain Food. You don’t have to eat fermented foods all day long. Just a serving (1/4 to 1/2 cup) adds millions of friendly bacteria to your system. The health benefits are plentiful.

  • Decreased chance of colon cancer
  • Dental health
  • Detoxifier – grab and eliminate toxins and heavy metals
  • Boosts your immune system by balancing the trillions of friendly bacteria with the bad bacteria in your intestinal tract
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps in digestion
  • Aids in weight loss by stabilizing blood sugar
  • Traditional fermented foods helps reduce our modern diet deficit of good bacteria
  • Introduces variety in textures and tastes to our ‘civilized’ guts

If you don’t like sauerkraut, it may be because you’ve only tried store bought imitations that taste bland and colorless. My homemade Down and Dirty Sauerkraut is full of flavor and kick. It’s alive and full of probiotics!

Next, I’m going try my hand at DiY kombucha. My good friend, Crunchy Mama, is sending me some scoby to get started. I’ll post a follow up on our latest fermented adventure.

Until then, I highly encourage you to store and add fermented foods

to your pantry. Some of these foods have very long shelf-lives. Learn to make your own with things like yogurt, kombucha, and kefir.

These resources will help get you started on your path to a healthy gut flora. What’s your best methods for adding beneficial bacteria to your gut and pantry?

Doing the stuff,

Todd

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Categories: Food Storage, Natural Health, Real Food | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Food Storage ~ How Many Food Independence Days Do You Have Each Year?

 A good friend of this blog, Caroline Cooper, shares her journey to food security. In the world of conventional prepper food storage, I don’t fit. I avoid grains and processed foods. Here’s a peek into my primal pantry if your interested.

Caroline’s food security program is very similar to ours. Take a look and let us know what you think. Is six months a good target for nutrient dense food storage?

How many independence days do you have each year?

by Caroline Cooper

independence days How many independence days do you have each year?

To me, the Theory of Anyway shifts the structure of the discussion. Instead of asking “Do we have time to make the peach jam?” It asks the question as it should be asked: “Do we have the time to live rightly?”
Independence Days by Sharon Astyk

I just found a very enjoyable book at the Kamloops Public Library called Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation by Sharon Astyk. The book outlines why every household should have a program of food storage. The book would be best suited for someone new to the concept of food storage. The book is more about the why of food storage, not the how-to. If you are looking for more detailed how-to information, here are some of my favorite books about food security:
Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig
Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman
Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon
How to Grow Food in Your Polytunnel: All Year Round by Mark Gatter
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Putting Food By by Janet Greene
Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables by Mike Bubel
The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town & Country by Peter Bane
When Technology Fails by Mat Stein
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

Sharon gives suggestions for how a householder could start a food storage program even with very limited financial resources. She is an avid gardener and processes the bounty of her garden by putting away food in a root cellar and processing food for storage by fermenting, drying, canning and freezing. This saves her a great deal of money. Food she doesn’t grow herself, she buys from local farmers, which supports the development of her local food system. She does buy some dried foods from other areas, but she makes a practice of never importing fresh foods.

Sharon addresses two very important issues surrounding food storage. The first issue is to buy as much of your stores locally as possible — especially fresh foods — because fresh foods take a lot of energy to ship and you are really importing water from one area of the country to another. Sharon makes a compelling argument to buy as much of your stored food locally as possible. But if you do need to buy foods from other places requiring shipping, focus those purchases on dried foods. This will reduce your carbon footprint and stop the practice of shipping water from dry areas of the country to wet areas of the country, which intensifies water shortages and resource conflicts.

The second issue of food storage is to buy foods your family will eat. She believes food stores should be made up of foods that your family eats on a regular basis. She doesn’t understand the practice of buying emergency rations the family does not intend to eat, a practice done by some emergency preppers. Thus, storing food intended for eating, means developing a method of rotation. Sharon walks the reader though how to put away and rotate 30 days of emergency food and water. She stipulates that her emergency rations could be eaten without cooking. Her suggestion for one person’s 30 days of food independence is as follows:
15lbs rolled oats, raw
30 16oz tomatoes, canned
30 8oz beans, canned
30 8oz assorted fruit, canned

sharon astyk menu 1 How many independence days do you have each year?

I used fitday.com to get a breakdown of the macro-nutrients of Sharon’s emergency rations.

sharon astyk menu 2 How many independence days do you have each year?

Here is the fitday.com micro-nutrient profile of Sharon’s emergency rations. A very small amount of cod liver oil and canned oysters would help with deficiencies in vitamin A, D and B12.

The Weston A Price Foundation would not consider eating raw oats a safe practice but would recommend soaking, souring and cooking the oats before eating. Most commercially canned beans and legumes are not normally soaked before canning and can be difficult to digest for some. (Here is Sarah Pope’s video for Proper Preparation of Grains and Legumes.)

This list of emergency rations does not appeal to me because it is grain-based and extremely high in carbohydrates. The rations wouldn’t work well for people on theSpecific Carbohydrate Diet either. The major benefit of these emergency rations is price. The rations would fill someone up and give enough energy to do work. No matter how limited someone’s financial resources, they could put together this list, and achieve 30 days of food independence.

My pantry has 6-12 months of food depending on the time of year, stored in a root cellar, freezers and dried storage area. In an emergency, I would do everything in my power to remain in my home.

But Sharon’s list got me thinking about what I would store for 30 days of emergency rations, if I couldn’t cook or had to leave my home. I almost never eat canned foods but I do have a few commercially and home canned items in my pantry.

This is the list I came up with for one person. It would be good for anyone on the SCD, GAPS or modified paleo diet. Sorry, I couldn’t keep it down to four items:
30 180g assorted cans: wild sockeye salmon, albacore tuna in olive oil and sardines
500g assorted homemade beef jerky, buffalo jerky or home-cured meats
1L organic extra olive oil
1L organic cider vinegar
1L home-cured green olives in brine and olive oil
1L lacto-fermented kimchi or sauerkraut
500g organic creamed coconut
250g organic coconut oil
1kg pastured butter
1kg raw hard cheese
500g mixed organic dried fruit: figs, plums, apricots and apple
500g mixed organic raw nuts: cashews, almonds, pecans and walnuts
1c organic sprouting seeds: French green lentils, fenugreek, radish and broccoli

salmon menu 1 How many independence days do you have each year?

This is the macro-nutrient breakdown of my emergency rations. I would be concerned about this diet for any length of time because it lacks in fresh foods.

I cannot imagine any situation where I could not work out some way to heat water and cook. In my Got-to-Go Kit, I have a way to purify water, a stove, cooking gear and a kitchen kit. (For more information please read Eating Nourishing Traditional Foods While Traveling.) I would have a way to sprout seeds if there were no fresh garden produce available or a way to wildcraft greens. I would have two thermoses for keeping water hot all day long. If I could cook, I would add:
1L dried homemade mushroom, seaweed and herb broth
4L homemade dried onions, squash, carrots and garlic (fresh would be better)

You may find my list of emergency rations expensive but my family would come out of the 30 days well nourished. Actually, their diet would be very close to their regular diet. My emergency rations are very high in fat and moderate in protein. The carbohydrates come from the dried fruit, apple cider vinegar, mushrooms, dried assorted vegetables and sprouts. Every family would have different emergency rations because everyone’s family is different. What would your family’s emergency rations look like?

Independence Days also poses another great question: “How many independence days do you have each year?” Independence days are the number of days each year you eat for free.

Free doesn’t mean easy or without effort. It means growing food in your own garden or trading food with neighbors or friends. It means getting free of the industrial food system and producing as much of your own food as possible and supporting the growth of a local food system. It means personal food security. This book got me hungry for my own independence days. It got me wondering how many independence days I could have each year.

Sharon challenges the reader to:

  1. Plant, harvest and preserve something as many days of the year as possible.
  2. Minimize waste by finding ways to reuse or re-purpose waste; recycle the waste of others by buying used or actually re-purposing the waste of others.
  3. Try cooking or preparing something new and work on managing your reserves as frugally as possible.
  4. Work on developing your own local food system. This action will improve food security for everyone in your community.

Lastly, Sharon asks the reader to take on Pat Meadow’s Theory of Anyway as your own and “do the right thing” three times a day with each meal you feed your family:
“95 percent of what is needed to resolve the coming crisis is what we should do anyway, and when in doubt about how to change we should change our lives to reflect what we should be doing “anyway”. Living more simply, more frugally, leaving reserves for others, reconnecting with our food and our community — these are things we should be doing because they are the right thing to do on many levels… Pat’s Theory of Anyway… points out that the way we live must pass ethical muster first. We must always ask the question, is this choice contributing to the repair of the world, or its destruction?”

 

Categories: Food Storage, Real Food | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

13 Simple Ways to Eat Your Yard and Build Food Security

by Todd Walker

In the March Against Monsanto, millions of people peacefully took to the streets in protest over our unhealthy (being kind here) Industrial Food Machine operated by the little man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. The switches, pulleys, and levers are connected to BigFarma, BigPharma, corrupt politicians, main stream media, and our protected predator class.

Monsanto’s ‘man’ behind the curtain is busy pulling levers that rabidly promote the un-scientific fact that eating GMO’s has little ill effect on human health. What they’re really trying to say is you can pick up a turd by the clean end. Crass but true.

Genetically Modified Organisms should be avoided at all costs. But how can you ensure a safe food supply for your family? You don’t have 40 acres and a mule. You live in a neighborhood with quarter acre lots. You may have never grown a garden in your life. How in the world can you produce even a small amount of real food that’s safe to eat?

There’s a movement gaining momentum around the world. The idea is to make your home as resilient as possible. Having multiple backup systems gives you options when things go wrong. And things always go south with the fragile systems that run our houses. When the lights went out on our farm where I grew up, my daddy was famous for saying, “Bob’s dog must have peed on the power pole again.”

Our industrial food system is no different. Since the end of World War II, our system of food production shifted from small local farming outfits to mega farmzillas. We use to know where our food came from because we produced most of what we ate for ourselves. Following jobs into the city, producing our own food has become a lost skill.

Step by step, we’ve lost (or forgotten) our independent nature.

Building resilience into your food system may seem daunting. It’s not. You just have to start. Maybe you could start eating your yard.

Here are 13 ways to that you can grow food, not lawns.

Creative container gardening

EarthTainers, containers for growing tomatoes,

We grew peppers and tomatoes from four EarthTainers with great results

  • Five gallon buckets of low hanging fruit.
hanging bucket tomato plants, five gallon bucket planter

More tomatoes hanging around

  • You can also set these on the ground, wrap them in burlap, and make them easier on the eye in the front yard.
burlap wrapped bucket planters, 5 gallon bucket planter,

Plastic buckets are cheaper than pots. Dress them up for the front yard with burlap and twine.

  • Vertical gardens. There are many ways to get creative for space limited yards. Grow up if you can’t grow out. 

  • For more ideas on growing up, get your mind (and salad) in the gutter here
  • An innovative way to grow 50 plants + composting in four square feet!
  • The base of the garden tower below measures 27½ inches on each side. Four 63-inch long cedar boards are attached to a central six-foot cedar post to form the pyramidal framework.

Photo of strawberry tower

Grow food, not lawns

Foodscaping is landscaping with food. Are your boxwoods under the eve of your house edible? Didn’t think so.

I pruned our ornamental hedges yesterday to make room for plants DRG and I can eat.

Pruning this pile of un-edible plants to make room for yard food.

Pruning this pile of un-edible plants to make room for yard food.

  • In Bloom Where You’re Planted, I shared an amazing couple’s foodscaped front yard. Some of us can’t get away with this kind of ‘radical’ foodscaping. The time is coming when front yards will have to be utilized for food production. Might as well test your green thumb before you have to rely on your garden in bad times.
  • Worried about the food police and your nosy neighbor ratting you out. Give your front yard curb appeal by blending edibles into your front yard. Julie Chai’s article over at Sunset shows you how to make traditional backyard garden crops look good out front. Some of the favorites mentioned are:

    “Artichoke. ‘Violetto’―especially when interplanted with large pink cosmos.

    Basil. ‘Purple Ruffles’ and ‘Green Ruffles’ basil, with their unusual, frilly leaves.

    Chives. With thin, grasslike foliage and pink flowers, they look great in or out of bloom.

    Japanese red mustard. Large burgundy-colored leaves are very dramatic.

    Kale. ‘Russian Red’, for greenish purple color and oaklike leaves.

    Lettuce. ‘Black-Seeded Simpson’, ‘Red Oak Leaf’, and ‘Royal Oak Leaf’ lettuce.

    Peas. ‘Dwarf Gray Sugar’ is compact and has showy lavender and maroon flowers.

    Peppers. ‘Super Chili’ (peppers change from green to orange to red) and ‘Golden Bell’.

    Swiss chard. ‘Bright Lights’, for its many colors, including orange, pink, red, and yellow.”

Wild foods

Learn now how to utilize all those weeds growing in your yard and waste places. Be cautious and avoid weedy area that have been treated with pesticides and herbicides.

All these crops can be grown from heirloom seeds and plants and not genetically modified versions. I hope you see the merit in this approach.

What’s your thoughts on building food security? Do you have a hobby farm? We’d like to hear about it.

Keep doing the stuff!

Categories: Food Storage, Gardening, Permaculture, Real Food, Resilience, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Primal Prepping: Reprogram Your Genes and Health

Reading my daily dose of SurvivalBlog.com, I found what I’ve been looking for since 2010. I discovered SurvivalBlog.com in ’07 and read it daily pretty much. Three years ago I discovered primal/paleo lifestyle through an article on LewRockwell.com by Karen De Coster. After reading Mark Sisson’s book “The Primal Blueprint“, I changed my lifestyle and lost 50 pounds, improved my health, and looked good naked again :)

That may not be your “stated” goal, but it can happen.

My dilemma in my preps started after going primal. The prepping community promotes grain-based diet and food storage. While I don’t disagree that they’ll get you through emergency situations, we’re not designed to live on grains. Then I read Dr. Dan Stickler’s post today over at SurvivalBlog.com and got happy. It’s unconventional wisdom that really worked for me. I recommend this lifestyle highly!

Dr. Stickler, The Paleo Doc, can be found here.

Full article from SurvivalBlog.com:

I first began prepping about two years ago so I am fairly new to this.  In those two years I have been fairly aggressive with my education and training on the topic with much of my real world education coming from reading blogs.  I have found an area where there is a great deal of misinformation and limited preparedness so it has prompted me to address this topic since it is the one area where I possess a skill set that I can share.  The topic is healthcare after the SHTF.  I think it is difficult for any of us, especially in America, to understand how so many aspects of our health we may be taking for granted.  I can honestly say that I was in the same boat which is a sad statement considering the fact that I am a physician.

To give a little background as a lead in; I worked as a general and vascular surgeon for about 10 years after I finished residency.  A little over two years ago I walked away from that to focus on nutrition, fitness, and wellness counseling.  There were many reasons for this change, lifestyle being a big one but more importantly I came to understand that we were no longer practicing medicine but rather pharmacology and surgery.  I found that training people to modify lifestyle was the best defense and prevention strategy and this certainly applies to prepping.

I will be focusing on four topics:

  • Optimizing your health
    • Nutrition
    • Fitness
  • Healthcare skill sets
  • Water and hygiene
  • Healthcare supplies

Optimizing your Health

Health should be viewed as a spectrum with chronic disease at one end, disease-free in the middle, and optimized health at the other end.  Think about where you would want to be and whom you would want in your survival group should the SHTF.

In reading through the various prepper and survival blogs, I see so many people that are unhealthy and they do not hesitate to talk about it.  I would be worried if I were in this situation or if I had to rely on this person as an essential link in my support group.  Stocking up on medications may help but what happens when they run out or expire?   Will you live to take advantage of all your amazing preparations or will they be taken from you?  The solution is to get out of the chronic disease end of the spectrum and get as close to optimal health as possible.  I treat and resolve chronic disease every day by basically changing one thing: lifestyle.  This means nutrition and fitness.  You just have to understand that chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and most high cholesterol are actually just symptoms of a poor lifestyle, you fix that, and you fix the problem without medication.

Nutrition is the key to good health; the problem is there is way too much misinformation out there as to what constitutes good nutrition.  What I am about to say will make most prepper gasp, but let me explain.  Get rid of all grains from the diet!  Now, that said, I do store grains but I do not currently eat them, they are reserved as emergency foods only.  You may now be asking, “where does this insanity come from?”  Well the answer is biochemistry and anthropology.  We are and always have been physiologically hunter/gatherers and grains were not a part of our natural diet.  Our bodies function best and experience the most positive effects from a hunter/gatherer style diet.  I am not asking you to immediately take my word for it just because I have a few initials at the end of my name, but I do ask that you try this challenge – give up all grain, bread, pasta, rice, crackers, chips, pretzels, popcorn, sweets, etc., for one month and see how you feel.  You will eat only meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts during this time and eat all you want.  You will experience amazing results.  Since I do have limited space here to go into all the details, I have provided a link to a video on Vimeo to help explain my approach to this diet: Functional Nutrition.

Other good sources of information are the books The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf and The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.  Sisson also has a great web site at MarksDailyApple.com.  Good nutrition is 80% of a healthy lifestyle, it is the base of the pyramid of health and without it you cannot develop optimal health.  I am not promoting some agenda here or trying to sell some magic snake oil, all I can tell you is that I have been utilizing this diet in my clinical practice for years and the health transformations and the disease resolutions I have witnessed are amazing.

Another aspect of optimal health is fitness.  It is a necessity in survival and should be an integral part of any preparation regimen.  Everyone seems to prep for food, medical and self defense but another aspect of preparation is your body.  I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.  Your level of fitness will be directly proportional to your chances of survival so you need to train the right way.  Bottom line – lift heavy stuff and run fast.  What I recommend is functional fitness and you do not need a gym for this.  Functional fitness means training the body to be able to do the necessary things in life well and remember, life will be substantially different if society fails.  If you have weights available, then lift heavy – squats, cleans, military press, rows.  Add push-ups and pull-ups.  Chop and carry wood, dig ditches, and run sprints. The book The Primal Blueprint that I mentioned has some good functional training advice and workouts.

Healthcare Skillsets

The practice of medical care could change dramatically in this scenario.  Physicians and nurses currently practice with the aid of technology, sterile environments, a slew of available instruments and specialist referrals.  EMTs and paramedics are trained in stabilization and transport.  Despite my surgical training and experience, my experience in a level 4 trauma center and having been an Advanced Trauma Life Support instructor, I would have little skills to care for people in a post-apocalyptic scenario.  That was until I began studying wilderness medicine.  Wilderness medicine training is available for health care providers (EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and physicians) and what makes this different is that you have to diagnose and more importantly TREAT in the field without the benefit of technology and transport.  In TEOTWAWKI scenario things like minor wounds, burns, blisters, and fractures become potentially life-threatening emergencies. I never realized all this until I took a Wilderness First Responder course offered by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and I feel that this is an absolute necessity for someone in your group.  We should all know how to properly clean and care for wounds, close lacerations, treat a burn, splint and reduce fractures and dislocations in situations where we do not have the luxury of modern technology.  Now this course will not make you the Dr. House of the TEOTWAWKI but it will give you the basis to build from and a level of comfort in dealing with many of the issues you may encounter.  You should still have access to someone with advanced medical training.

Water and Hygiene

Wilderness medicine gets you thinking about things we take for granted like water or hygiene.  In the wilderness, clean water is your best friend.  Even sparkling clear mountain spring water can be full of protozoa and bacteria so boiling or filtration is essential.  What kills more people worldwide?  Infectious diarrhea.  This is also one of the number one debilitations in the wilderness along with food poisoning related to poor food prep hygiene.  It is also important to remember that filtration will not get rid of viruses, so in the face of a viral outbreak if the water supply gets contaminated, you will need a chemical disinfectant as well.  Iodine and/or chlorine will work well for this added safety.  We need to look at the health care issues faced in the third world countries in order to fully understand what we need to prepare for should the worst case scenario occur.

Healthcare Supplies

First thing to remember here is that it will do you no good to stock up on supplies that you have no skill or knowledge to use.  When I design and stock kits for people, I always find out what abilities they possess first.  You also have to determine what size group you want to prepare for and the environment where the kit will be needed.  I typically see a need for three types of kits and a stock of supplies on top.

Kit #1: Basic field kit.  This kit needs to be compact and lightweight but still be supplied to cover you for a 1-5 day trip away from your Bugout Location (BOL) for 3-4 people.  This should cover everything for stabilizing illness or injury long enough to get you back to your BOL.  This is the kit that I keep in my Bugout Bag (BoB) and I take hiking or camping.
Basic contents:

  • Sterile and non-sterile gloves
  • Facemasks with eye protecting, also antiviral mask
  • Thermometer
  • Ace bandage and scissors
  • Various quantities of different size sterile gauze and gauze rolls
  • Field surgical kit and sutures
  • Variety of medical and athletic tape
  • Moleskin for blisters and second skin for burns
  • Opsite or other occlusive dressing
  • Steristrips and benzoin for wound closure
  • Small vial of povidone iodine or betadine
  • Bacitracin and Cortisone
  • Thermal reflective blanket
  • SAM splint
  • Eye pad
  • Large irrigation syringe
  • Several cravats
  • Quikclot or Celox trauma bandage
  • Pen light
  • Emergency resuscitator pocket facemask
  • Ibuprofen, aspirin, Benadryl, and various antibiotics

Kit #2: Advanced Home Kit. This is an advanced medical kit for the home or BOL.  It contains all the above items from Kit #1 just larger quantities, plus:

  • Stethoscope and BP cuff
  • Fiberglass casting wrap
  • Greater variety of surgical items
  • Lidocaine, needles, and syringes
  • Battery operated cautery device
  • Skin stapler
  • Greater variety of antibiotics and other prescription meds
  • Emergency cricothyrotomy kit

Kit #3: Advanced Trauma Kit.  Now this kit would be mainly for people with advanced medical training or military field medics.  I keep this is a STOMP bag and it weighs about 40 pounds.  It is basically a portable trauma bay with advanced surgical instrumentation, major wound treatments, airway control, etc.

My recommendation is to train each person in your group in the basic medical skills and have each carry a basic kit.  Many prep groups run drills for defense and bug-out but few run through medical scenarios and these are the most likely issues that they would encounter.  Each group or family should have someone in charge of medical and it should be their responsibility to train the others.

So our best course of action is prepare and prevent.  Prepare by optimizing each individuals health, have the training necessary for your environment, and have the appropriate tools and knowledge in order to act.  Prevent by obtaining/maintaining optimal health, recognizing and understanding the risks of your environment, practice good hygiene, and utilize adequately filtered water.

 

Categories: Food Storage, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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