Posts Tagged With: Resilience

Frankenchickens, Sustainable Poultry, and Food Freedom

Editor’s note: Part of planning to be self-sufficient should include a method of raising your own groceries – meats, veggies, and fruits. With each step, however large or small, we become less dependent and more resilient. 

Today’s post highlights the Sustainable Poultry Network in a post which was originally published on Durable Faith.  SPN offers workshops on raising heritage poultry for profit and pleasure. Be sure to check out the practical tips for achieving food freedom.

Feed your Community and Achieve Freedom with Poultry

BY  | APRIL 5, 2013 · 6:30 AM

Today, I attended the Sustainable Poultry Workshop at Full Circle Farm in Suwannee County, FL. Full Circle Farm is operated by a family who glorifies God through their stewardship of the land and their Christian family life. They are a grassfed dairy farm that uses silvopasture and intensive grazing; and raises beef, lamb and poultry. Full Circle Farm’s mission is to provide nutrient dense food for maximum health and to educate producers and consumers. Their food and their network of other family run local farm produce is delivered around the state of FL. Dennis, the proprietor, became frustrated with poultry after having Cornish Cross broilers (the modern industry standard) turn their nose up at kitchen scraps. After hearing, Jim Adkins speak at an Acres USA conference, he invited Jim to come speak at his farm about sustainable poultry. I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend!

Jim established the Sustainable Poultry Network after becoming dissatisfied with a lucrative career in the conventional chicken industry. Many people are not aware that chicken bought in a store or restaurant and labeled “family farm”, “natural”, “free range”, “organic”, “antibiotic free”, “hormone free”, and “vegetarian fed” are almost always raised in chicken houses with thousands of other birds. The birds are of a genetically engineered stock that cannot reproduce naturally and grows to full weight in 37 days (most likely suffers pain of growth and exhibits health problems due to undersize legs and organs). Due to their close confinement, the birds have to be protected by biosecurity measures that include wearing hazmat type suits and limiting exposure to essential staff. All conventional birds are fed GMO soy and GMO corn based feed, typically with antibiotics, sometimes arsenic. Industry whistle blowers say that often “natural” or “organic” birds often get drugs as well when they become sick due to their conditions and consumers are none the wiser. As Full Circle’s proprietor said, Publix GreenWise chicken is produced just down the road from his farm and is neither “green” nor “wise!”



Jim Adkins, of the Sustainable Poultry Network, went back to his roots of raising standard bred poultry. Jim said he grew up raising chickens in 4H and dreamed of becoming a chicken show judge as a child. The man loves chickens! Standard bred poultry must meet 3 criteria: The bird must be able to mate naturally; Live a long, outdoor, productive lifespan (5-7 years for hens); And, grow at a slow growth rate (112 days). The Standard of Perfection for standard bred poultry is governed by theAmerican Poultry Association. Standard birds, such as the Barred Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, and New Hampshire, were once the production birds of the industry. These are vigorous chickens that forage for much of their diet, produce longer and with less inputs. The characteristics of these chickens make not only a healthier bird, but a better tasting bird as well. The foraging ability results in a greater variety in the animal’s diet enhancing the taste of meat and eggs and the nutrient profile of same.

Once the modern frankenchicken was developed, farmers stopped breeding these standard breeds. Though some of the breeds are near extinction, many have been kept alive by poultry fanciers in small numbers. Hatcheries still provide the breeds to backyard and small farm egg producers, and though the birds may resemble their once great predecessors in feather color, non-selective breeding by the hatcheries produce birds unfit for table meat and lacking the qualities of the standard. Half of the chicks produced by hatcheries are male chicks, upwards of 90% which get trashed because the hatcheries serve an egg market and their genetic lines no longer meet the dual purpose of the standard. The hatchery system is dependent on the financial beleaguered postal service to continue shipping live chicks by mail. Experts believe it is a question of not if, but when, live chick shipments will end. Small farmers, homesteaders and backyard chicken lovers will then be left with only frankenchickens produced by multinational companies of which 3 own the rights to over 80% of all the chicken genetics globally. Have we allowed the merchants in the temple to own creation?


The mission of the Center for Sustainable Poultry is to provide education, resources and training to equip people around the world to raise standard bred poultry for sustainable farming, marketing, exhibition and preservation. The center does this through the Sustainable Poultry Network, which is a network of farmers developing standard bred poultry for meat and egg production once again. It is the development of these old breeds that will allow production of sustainably raised chickens that meet the demands of consumers and don’t enslave us to the government-industrial agriculture food complex. The network consists of breeders, growers, processors, feed producers, marketers, chefs and mentors and seeks to duplicate the model in small communities around the world that will be able to feed themselves. And, its already doing so from its home base in Western North Carolina to Montana and beyond. These are small scale family farms, with low capital input, creating a vastly superior product and are not dependent on GMO feeds, genetically engineered chickens from three producers shipped by mail and are building the value of their community. The network will certify flocks so that consumers and producers know the standard at which the chicken was bred and raised. And, unlike the industry farms, the network farms are open at all times for visitors, ensuring trust among the community. I highly encourage you to attend a workshop and learn how you can achieve food freedom!

Hot tip!: If you’re looking for a book on raising chickens, try to find one published before 1950.

Now let’s hear from you. Do you purchase or raise heritage poultry? If so, could you tell us why you choose heritage poultry vs. conventional industrial poultry? Leave your feedback in the comments below! 




Categories: Homesteading, Real Food, Resilience | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Preparedness Community: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Too big to fail globalists want us to believe their titillating noble lies. Their mouthpiece, the Main Stream Media (MSM), denies the Newspeak coming from elite lips and to disguise  what their hands are doing. To reduce thought and critical thinking, truth is labeled ‘conspiracy theories.’ You’re a whack-job if you believe alternative news sources.

Elitists hate individuals. To them, we’re a pebble in their jack boots.

MSM is not their only promoter. Public schools are shills for the Collective. It matters not whether the school is populated by offspring of mostly conservative, liberal, or fence sitters. Every government-run school in America is a decoy for State enslavement – for the good of the group.

For those unfamiliar with the term collectivism, it is the complete opposite of individualism. Many times my students yell the answer of the math problem, 4 – 10 = 6. The answer given is the complete opposite of the correct answer, (- 6). Leaving out the negative sign seems like such a trivial matter. I point out the ‘simple’ error more times than I care to admit. The two numbers are on opposite ends of the number line.

“The answer is correct, except for that little sign,” Mr. Walker.

The importance of building resilient communities for not only survival, but to thrive in the coming days, can not be overemphasized. Neighboring Matters was an article I wrote about the importance of community in dealing with unknown unknowns. Today, some of the unknowns are turning into knowns. Confiscation in Cyprus ring any bells?

We’re social animals and thrive in community. What we don’t do well is live in the societal super-organism called the Collective. In this living, breathing entity, the individual merely survives by sacrificing his/her own self-interest for the “good of the group” – unless you’re at the top of the elitist pyramid.

“Collectivism often sounds humane because it stresses the importance of human needs. In reality, it is little more than a rationalization for sacrificing you and me to the desires of others.” — Jarret B. Wollstein

Individualism and Community

First, let’s explore building community based on individualism. By community, I’m referring to building mutual assistance and aid based on voluntary association without force, coercion, or treat of violence.

What makes you happy?

In a community of individuals (anti-collectivists), one is able to exercise his natural right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. A moral individual wishing to pursue her happiness will find it necessary to cooperate with other like-minded individuals, not just in trading goods and services, but sharing knowledge, and developing genuine relationships as well.

The aim of building community should be to increase our quality of life. In a true free-market, these pursuits (life, liberty, and happiness) would be more easily attained.

Individuals make up a community, obviously. We’ve all witnessed how individuals come together during a crisis to serve (voluntarily) to help others in their community. Remember the devastation of Hurricane Katrina? The communities that rebounded quickly took matters into their own hands. They weren’t coerced into giving charity. They saw a need and made a decision to help neighbors.

The recovery time of any natural or manmade disaster takes longer when collectivist thinking dominates a community or society. Charity to your neighbor becomes a duty – enforced by the State. Give until it hurts or until the-powers-that-be say stop. Violating my rights in no way motivates me to give. I’ll gladly and willingly help others out of love for my fellow man and mutual benefit. However, coerce me and I resist.

No amount of guilt, force, or pressure applied by the Collective can be matched by the power of individuals motivated to pursue their own self-interest.

Individuals in the Collective are like oil and water. They don’t mix.

Collectivism and Controllers

Look no further for a shining example of that living super-organism called the Collective than our public schools. Students are trained to snitch on individuals who don’t play by the rules. Schools are a reflection of our nanny state encouraging “see something, say something”. The Powers of Fairness rule schools. Individualism is ferreted out and dealt with brutally for the good of the group. Parents chained to their office cubicles see no way out of their compassionate cage and allow the hostage taking to continue.

It’s only fair, right?

There seems to be no escape.

Ask yourself this question: Who benefits from those dependent on the Collective?

From an evolutionary point of view, bad ideas should die out. The Collective not only controls the bad idea factory, they have the State in their pocket to enforce their insanity. As the bad idea of collectivism becomes worse, it manifests destruction, an unproductive class, theft, vice, and pure evil. The Controller’s matrix punishes producers and rewards dependence. Before long, your proper position in the food chain is established.

Exposing the self-sufficiency myth

There’s a myth (or dream) floating around the prepper community about being completely self-reliant and self-sufficient. I’ve been guilty of falling for and even promoting the myth. Is it really achievable or just selling snake oil? With so many odds against us, I sometimes feel like I’m constantly selling some secret elixir out the back of a wagon.

The main obstacle to self-sufficiency is not money, resources, land, or skills. The biggest hurdle is the Collective.

That pesky Collective keeps us dependent on their matrix. I’ve got to keep my health insurance, pay for shelter, food, and other needs – rinse and repeat. Stop paying rent (property taxes) on what you may call ‘free and clear’ land or house, and the Controllers send in goons to take what you once called home. Fiat greenbacks are required to pay tribute. Bartering in this situation won’t work.

Is there a better way to earn your freedom and escape the Collective cage? Freedom and liberty trump control and forced servitude. I’ve tried to wrap my mind around living off the land, hiding in caves, or some other Hollywood Doomsday lifestyle. It’s not for me, DRG, or our loved ones. If you think you’d enjoy that lifestyle, more power to you. I enjoy things that satisfy me personally and connect me to my true nature – without extravagance. This forces me to rethink my preparedness paradigm.

Redefining preparedness 

  1. Get your mind right. Ditch the spin doctors. Whatever label you have pasted to your forehead, spinning your version of truth doesn’t apply to everyone. We’re individuals. Not groups crammed into the Collective. Absent regulatory control, the free market will expose fraud and bad ideas. The Medical Industrial Complex, Industrial Food Machine, mass media, and whoever you voted for are cogs in the collective wheel.
  2. Adopt a depression lifestyle. This one involves distinguishing between the needs and wants. Take pleasure in withholding produce from the Collective. They need me more than I need them. Play their game better than they do. Do it all legally and above-board. Shrug.
  3. Bloom where you’re planted. If you’re not already living in a sparsely populated western state, and don’t have the resources to relocate, or better yet, don’t want to relocate to what experts call the safe haven states, what’s a prepared family or individual to do? Bloom right where you are. No doubt the number of potential roving gangs of looters drops in less populated regions, but if every follower of this brand of prepping acted on this advice, wouldn’t these states quickly grow in population? Yes, but they’d all have the right mindset. Don’t be so sure of that. Follow your gut.
  4. Down size. Learn to love less. Houses, cars, gadgets, etc. Decide what’s a priority in meeting needs, not wants. Tangibles and quality equipment and tools and things that hold value over time are stuff to go after. When the balloon goes up, you’ll be glad you collected stuff smartly.
  5. Take advantage of living in our modern world with our modern conveniences. Use technology to resurrect lost skills – and make them better. Alternative energy (passive solar, hydro, and even wood gasification) will be a key element to bouncing back from chaos. Every family needs at least one geek. Khan Academy is an example of a ‘geek’ who has bypassed traditional brick and mortar classrooms to teach effectively online. The same strategy can be applied to starve the Collective and build resilience. Geek on!
  6. Resilient health. Health is wasted on youth – among other things. After our personal SHTF experience, we don’t take our health for granted. Be proactive about what you put into your body. This one act alone can reprogram your health. You’ll also need proper amounts of sleep, exercise, sunshine, play, and down time. The last thing you want is to be dependent on the medical/pharma system to keep your ticking. This is one more step in pulling the plug on the Collective.

Not everyone is going to grab the flag and lead the charge. But once one person storms the hill, they won’t be alone. Many will follow. If you haven’t begun building a group or community, it’s not too late. It’ll take some time, but it can happen, one individual at a time.

If you found this helpful, consider helping get the word out by sharing it with your social network, family, and friends. We certainly appreciate all the support we get from you!

Also, please follow me on Twitter for updates on our journey: @SurvivalSherpa

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Economic Collapse, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Charcuterie: Off The Grid Food Storage For Meats

Ever eat cured raw pork?On my list skills to learn is the lost art of off grid meat preservation. I can meats, store meat in the freezer, and have some canned seafood in our primal pantry. What happens when the fragile electrical grid goes down? Leaning to cure meat for long-term storage would be a great skill for bartering, building resilient preps, and, well, it’s just plain cool to see meat hanging from the ceiling in your basement or root cellar.

Caroline Cooper has an interesting article on her blog (eatkamloops) about a technique I’ve never heard of or was able to pronounce. Click here for the proper pronunciation. It’s fun to say and sounds like it’d be fun to make and eat.

Any of y’all ever tried making charcuterie? I’d like to hear from you.

Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Source: eatkamloops

cured pork 1 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Charcuterie adds a wonderful element to winter pantry food. A small slice of cured meat goes a long way with its rich flavor. With traditional charcuterie there is a natural order to when the cured meats are ready and when the cured meats should be eaten.

“These dry-cured meats and sausages, almost always sliced thin, are dense and chewy, with a strong, dry-cured flavor and smooth, satiny fat. When we eat them, we’re most often eating pork that’s never gone above room temperature, let along come close to the 150F recommended by government. And yet, properly prepared, these are perfectly safe to eat. There really is nothing similar to eating cured raw meat — it has a flavor and an effect like no other food.”

Charcuterie: The Craft and Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman

cured pork ribs 4 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Raw cured ribs are the first cured product to come out of the cellar. Sliced thinly, the sweet meat of the ribs is a wonderful contrast to the salty cure. One rib will satisfy.

I just wanted to share a few pictures of the cured pork my husband Shaen made with the expert mentoring from Joe Trotta. Charcuterie is not an easy craft to learn from books. Charcuterie is a craft best passed down from the older generation to the younger generation. If you are interested in learning the craft, I have no books for you, or courses you can take. You will just have to look around and find someone knowledgeable in the craft and someone willing to mentor you in the techniques. If you can find someone to show you how to cure raw meats, the process becomes simple, and the stress of wondering if you are doing it right, is greatly reduced.

Two warnings. Hurry up and learn. Many of the people who know these techniques are older. Many have children that do not value the wisdom that came from the old country and have never learned the craft. These old techniques are dying with the people, and unless we learn their knowledge, the knowledge will pass out of this world. If you are a professional cook or chef, you will have to empty your cup of knowledge, if you want to learn traditional charcuterie. Everything you think you know about FOODSAFE is wrong regarding these foods. If you come to traditional cured foods with your own ideas of how to do it right, you will likely miss the mark, and mess up the process. Saying “Oh my God, that isn’t safe,” is meaningless and disrespectful to someone who has eaten these foods their whole life.

cured pork bacon 5 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

This is raw cured bacon with sea salt and paprika. The sticks help keep the bacon flat and stop it from curling. This is the second cured product out of the cellar. Very few people have enjoyed the flavor of raw bacon. It can be cooked but you will miss the satiny smoothness of the fat.

“Dry-curing results in a beautiful type of sausage, the most individualistic, idiosyncratic, and temperamental sausage there is, precisely because of its reliance on atmospheric conditions, which change all year round, and the presence of varying microflora in the air.”

cured pork 2 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Soppressata is the third cured product out of the cellar. Soppressata is made from raw pork, sea salt and paprika which is stuffed into the pig’s intestine. There is no curing salts or other ingredients. Soppressata’s flat appearance is from pressing to help remove air from the salami.

But when your sausage has dried just right, and you slice it thin, and the interior is a glistening deep crimson red with bright pearly chunks of fat, it is incredibly exciting. This is real mastery over the food we prepare. To make a home-cured pork sausage, with just salt and pepper for seasoning, is a deeply gratifying experience, like making a great wine.”

cured pork 3 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Soppressata is hung by it’s string on clothes hangers cut into hooks. Soppressata with its white coat is an eerie sight in the cellar. The white coating is safe to eat though traditional Italian sausage makers like Joe wipe the soppressata with vinegar and water to remove the coating.

Mastering the technique of transforming raw meat and fat, whether a sausage or a whole muscle, into something delicious without using heat, enhances your ability to work with all food. This is true craftsmanship, craftsmanship aiming for art, a craft reliant on the cook’s skill and knowledge and, perhaps, a little bit of divine intervention.”

Divine intervention indeed. Or maybe just allowing for the peaceful co-existence of humans with their helpful bacterial friends. When you cure long-term your household will become colonized with helpful microbiota. If you would like to learn more about traditional Italian curing please see: Pantry Foods: Fast Cured Green Olives.

Categories: Barter, Food Storage, Lost Skills | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Where There Is No Kitchen: Cooking When The Grid Goes Down

Editor’s note: P. Henry offers some very practical tips to cooking in a SHTF scenario. He even added a tip for washing dishes from a 1880’s homesteading manual – I’ve never heard of or tried this one. Check out the other practical advice over at their site – The Prepper Journal

by P. Henry

Source: The Prepper Journal

Many of you are familiar with the nearly famous books “Where There Is No Doctor” and “Where There Is No Dentist” that are the most widely used health education books in tropical and sub-tropical developing countries. These are great references that you can download from our Resources page that cover basic medicine and dental care from a perspective of a people who aren’t able to drive to the doctor or see the dentist whenever they have a tooth ache.

The concept of “Where there is no” popped into my mind as I was preparing to write this post. In a grid-down scenario we may not have the easy access to our kitchen tools that we have relied on in the past. Most kitchen appliances are powered by electricity or gas and if those both go out due to an emergency you could find yourself living “where there is no kitchen”.

Not having access to your microwave shouldn’t cause you any panic though, because people have been living pretty well without these conveniences for a very long time. Even if you have stored 30 days worth of dehydrated food and water, chances are you will want to eat something warm before it is all over. Even in the military we only ate MRE’s once a day when we were out in the field. MRE’s will keep you alive but eventually you get tired of that and want something hot and delicious. I know that MRE’s can be heated up too, but the contents of a regular bag of MRE’s can’t hold a candle to a nice venison stew that has been cooking slowly over a fire all day.

With some simple planning and preparation you can cook just about anything you need to keep you alive and healthy through any disruption. There are a few considerations and lots of options for cooking that we will discuss below.

Cooking Options

We are going to assume that any cooking that you will be doing is outside in this grid-down scenario. No cooking with open flame should be done indoors and that includes using your big stainless steel propane grill. Fumes are toxic and can hurt you so keep it outside for safety.

stassj-cooking-stirring-woodstove-1024x768Wood stoves – These are about the closest you can come to the power and convenience of a range or oven inside your house or retreat location. Yes I know that I just said to cook outside, but your stove is vented outside already. This is a winter solution though because you won’t likely want to fire up the big wood-stove in the living room in the middle of August.  In much older homes, the kitchen was in a different part of the house because the heat would stifle everyone else. During the winter a wood stove is a perfect solution for cooking and you can easily fit a couple of pans on the top and regulate the heat easily. You can cook on a wood-stove with your regular pans without any problem.

Backyard Grill – This is my personal first line of defense if the power goes out. It is simple to use and already set up outside. The main drawback is the need for propane but I keep an extra 50lb. canister of propane at all times so that if my main source runs out I still have a spare. This spare propane would be on my list of basic household items that you need to stock up on also. Some people use charcoal so an extra bag or two would be wise. It won’t last as long as a can of propane but having the ability to cook for a few days is always a smart idea. Optionally, if your house is heated with propane, you can purchase an adapter to run your grill but you probably are already using your oven in the house. It’s nice to have options.

TripodCampfire – Since the dawn of time people have been cooking over an open fire on the ground. This would be my fallback option after the propane was gone or if I had something that was larger and needed to cook for a long time. Campfires don’t need to be fancy but having a pit surrounded with rocks to contain the fire is preferred. To cook on a campfire, you will want to invest in at least one piece of cast iron cookware. Two would be the best giving you the option to fry or cook a big stew. You will also want to have a method to suspend your cookware over the flames. This is where agreat tripod like the one on the left here or a grate you can set on the ground over the coals. I prefer the tripod, but the grate is much simpler when you are using a skillet.

Camping stoves – These are a great solution too and use the same type of Coleman propane cylinders your lanterns take. They do have the drawback that the grill does though, and once your fuel is gone, they are worthless. You can use the grill grating itself over a regular campfire so don’t throw that away. We will talk about that more later. Backpacker stoves also come in handy in a pinch, but that would not be ideal for cooking larger meals. It will heat up single portions nicely though, and there are a lot of fuel options for the short-term emergency.

Rocket Stove – Rocket stoves are simple to build using materials you may have lying around or in the shed. These can be fueled with sticks and twigs and make a great surface that produces a lot of heat without a big footprint. There is an article about how to make a rocket stove out of a few cans that you should check out also.

Lanterns – Anything that produces heat can warm your food and some lanterns give you the ability to use the heat escaping from the top to boil water or heat soup. This is yet another good option that may work for some people. Candles can also be used but this would be my last resort. They take forever but you are already using your candle so this is a way to get two uses out of your preparations.Lantern

Solar – I saved this one for last but solar cooking shouldn’t be discounted at all. If you have sun and dry weather this is a great way to heat up and cook meals if you have time to wait. You will want to build your own solar oven which is fairly simple or there are several you can buy online. If you just need to warm up a can of soup you can sit that in the sun on the driveway for 30 minutes and voila!

Solar ovens can be made in numerous ways with lots of material. Here is a video for a funnel solar oven by LDSPrepper that cost only $5.


Cooking Necessities

The first place we look is to our cooking containers, or what we are going to hold over our source of heat to contain this wonderful food you are getting ready to cook. Cast iron is my personal favorite but that isn’t practical if you are on the move. You can also cook with #10 cans if needed, just be sure that the plastic coating on the interior melts out first.

Aluminum foil is not only useful for creating a solar oven, but you can form bowls out of this to cook with or boil water in a pinch. Aluminum foil is a second cousin to Duct tape I believe, because it has so many uses and should be on your list of supplies for your household. Can and bottle openers are nice. They aren’t necessary because if you are hungry enough, you will get that can open, but they are very convenient and do not cost anything at all. You will also want to have plenty of capacity for making fire in the first place. Lighters are simple and cheap, but flint and strikers should be in your survival kits also.

Other tools you could use are oven mitt or pot holders to handle the pots on these cooking surfaces. Wooden spoons and spatulas won’t melt like plastic and you can even make these yourself if you have plenty of time on your hands and a sharp knife.


Now that the group has been fed how do you clean up? Sanitation is something that becomes more important with the severity and duration of the emergency. Germs are easily passed so cleaning your food utensils is an important consideration for the health of your survival group.  Assuming you have some water on hand for cooking, we can look back at how the pioneers cleaned their dishes.

The rare 1881 Iowa settlers manual has a tip for washing dishes when you’ve run out of soap. It’s in the cleaning chapter of the book and was written for some of the first people moving into Iowa to homestead in the 1880′s.

To wash dishes without soap, have your dishwater hot and add a very little milk, as this softens the water, gives the dishes a nice gloss and preserves the hands. It removes the grease, even that from beef, and yet no grease is ever found floating on the water as when soap is used.

For the most part, hot water and a sponge with abrasive on one side will do the trick. Boiling dishwater before doing dishes would be the safest way to make sure you’re not scrubbing your pots with Giardia. But as for me, 99% of the time, I’m content with just getting it hot enough to cut the grease. Your call. After scrubbing, strain your dishwater through a fine mesh strainer (or a bandana) and broadcast the waste-water. In other words, fling it far and wide. You can use the rest of whats left for compost.


Categories: Camping, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

When I asked for a few guest posts while DRG and I take a mini vacation, Caroline Cooper showed her generous spirit and sent me this piece on rocket stoves. Thank you Caroline!
Posted on June 26, 2012 by 

rocket stove erika Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

A rocket stove is very easy for anyone to use. Erika is making pastured paleo burgers for dinner with homemade mustard, ketchup, cheese sauce and lettuce for the wrap.

For years I have used an assortment of stoves for camping and numerous different types of fuels. I have also cooked meals over an open fire on camping trips. That’s definitely a smoky experience. Recently, I have found a new kind of stove that has converted me over to wood based fuels.

A rocket stove uses a very small amount of wood and produces a very hot, smokeless fire. These stoves are great for cooking meals in the backyard, camping or emergency preparedness. Just about anything can be used as fuel. I have used: small branches, twigs, yard waste, scrap wood, bark, cardboard, office paper and junk mail. Burning this waste helps reduce my household waste stream and pressure on local landfills. I bought a Grover Rocket Stove but for comparison, here is a USH2 Rocket Stove.

The surprising thing about a rocket stove is how the fire burns so hot and clean. After the fire gets going there is very little smoke. The space under the fuel compartment allows air to feed the fire, producing a very powerful draft, which focuses a very hot flame on the cooking surface.

I like using a cast iron frying pan for cooking meals. A cast iron pan avoids the toxicity of Teflon and spreads the heat well and avoids burning. The rocket stove could be used with a stainless steel pot for boiling water.

rocket stove wood Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

Any fuel can be used in a rocket stove. I have used scrap wood, small branches, bark, office paper and junk mail. What is surprising is how little fuel is needed for cooking a meal.

rocket stove firebox Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

Here is the firebox. After the fire is started very little smoke is produced. If you have ever cooked over an open fire you will know why smokeless cooking is a wonder of the modern world.

The rocket stove can have the ash easily emptied anywhere in my garden that potash or lime is needed to increase soil alkalinity. It’s great to have a stove that doesn’t need any petroleum products. I am always searching for more appropriate technology. Rocket stoves can also be simply made out of fire bricks. Here is a video on this simple technology for building a rocket stove out of fire bricks and cooking food outside. The second video is about the dangers of cooking with an open fire in houses. They have developed a modified rocket stove for inside use.

stone rocket stove Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

Rocket stoves can be made anywhere and with natural materials. This rocket stove was made with granite beach rocks in the Broken Group Islands after our MSR gas stove stopped functioning.

Updated January 31, 2013: What would happen if a clean burning rocket stove could be brought into your house? Friends, it looks like the technology for mass rocket stoves have been worked out. Mass rocket stoves don’t have a chimney, use 1/8 to 1/4 the amount of wood, and exhaust CO2 and water vapor. No wood smoke smog! Sounds crazy, but a friend of mine has just build one, and it works as advertised. For more information about mass rocket stoves for heating your home please see this article on

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Are You a Desk Jockey? Stand and Deliver

My standing workstation in my classroom.

By Todd Walker

When I took a stand two years ago, I’ve never sat at my classroom desk again.

Research has shown prolonged sitting to be neither healthy or natural for us. I built my standing desk out of a throw away desk and some scrap plywood, added paint, and mounted it on top my sit down desk. Being on my feet all day wearing minimalist shoes while teaching, has helped my posture.

It’s rare that I’m behind my desk during class anyhow. However, when paperwork and bureaucratic pencil-pushing call, I stand and deliver – literally.

To refresh my mind and get my blood pumping, I knock out several sets of push ups behind my desk on my PVC DiY push up handles.

Easy and cheap PVC pushup bars

Easy and cheap PVC push up bars

Doing push ups outside in the sunshine is my favorite place. Time constraints and weather don’t always allow me to do so. These bars are sturdy and allow me to twist my wrists to a natural angle during exercises.

Oh, and here’s a closeup of the poster on my wall behind my standing workstation.

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

You’re turn to stand and deliver. Got any stuff you do to blend health and fitness into your daily work routine?




Categories: equipment, Frugal Preps, Survival Education | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Localism: 8 Steps To Encourage Sustainability In Our Communities

H/T to Resilient News.

Source: Frugally Sustainable

December 20, 2011 By
Do you ever get the feeling like we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves? It almost seems as if there is another great awakening brewing…and it excites me!
Yesterday the kids and I drove out to a local farm for a private farm tour. “Tonopah Rob” is probably one of the nicest individuals you’ll ever meet. He so graciously showed me around while Josie, Jenna, and Isaiah ran the length of his 5 acres, petted the turkeys, and heckled the chickens.
He operates a pretty cool CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in my community and he loves to have people out to the farm. He shared with me his desperate need for more land due to the growth of the CSA this past year and as he plans for this coming year, he’s already having to put families on the waiting list.
I am proud to support him and I am proud to call him my farmer!
A Growing Movement
You see, “Tonopah Rob” is not a lone wolf by any means. This movement is not happening just here in my community, it’s happening everywhere! Look around…there are small, locally-owned shops, farmers markets, and restaurants using locally grown foods in nearly every town.
I feel like our communities are entering into some sort of sensational renaissance through a silent revolution!


8 Steps To Encourage Sustainability In Our Communities
So how can you encourage local sustainability in your own community? Attempt to follow these 8 steps and begin supporting your neighbors now:
{Step 1}
Consider what local sustainability looks like for you in your community. Every one of us live in very different communities. What works for me may not work for you. This is often due to climate, terrain, or population. Find what is functional in your current setting.
{Step 2}
Define your values and live by them without compromise. If you don’t believe in it…don’t buy it. This step will not only encourage sustainability but it will also save you money:) These days, there are few things that I can buy that I truly believe in.
{Step 3}

Identify and build relationships with local farmers. Begin communicating with them your food preferences, remember they are beginning to plan now for spring gardens and markets. Your opinion is their livelihood. Embrace those seasonal foods that grow well in your area. You can find farmers in your areas using these links:

Read the other 5 steps here


Categories: Frugal Preps, Homesteading, Preparedness | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Dragon Slaying Strategies for a More Simple Life

by Todd Walker

Photo credit

We’re all chasing something: Success, sex, drugs, food, fame, God, happiness, coffee, contentment, justice, peace, war, survival, sugar, acceptance, health, fitness, our own tails, and [you fill-in-the-blank]. In our dizzily paced world of modern convenience and technology, it’s so easy to become addicted to chasing the dragon.

The phrase “chasing the dragon” refers to inhaling the vapor from heated morphine, heroin, oxycodone or opium that has been placed on a piece of foil. The ‘chasing’ occurs as the user gingerly keeps the liquid moving in order to keep it from coalescing into a single, unmanageable mass.

I first heard the term from Jackie Pullinger, author of Chasing the Dragon: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong’s Drug Dens, when she visited a homeless shelter I was living in 13 years ago. My life had become an unmanageable mass. I wasn’t addicted to opium or any other drug. But the story of her work with drug addicts made me realize that we are all chasing our own personal dragons. Keep just the right amount of fire on the tin foil to delicately keep the object of our addiction liquid and fluid. With time and practice we become very skilled at inhaling the vapor that feeds our dragon.

The dragon is never satisfied.

Success in a field isn’t bad. Quite the opposite. You wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you that is ho-hum. A buddy I teach with reminds me from time to time that we might find ourselves laying on the operating table one day and look up to see one our trouble maker student with scalpel in hand. There we are, naked and vulnerable, with a former student with a smirk on his or her face.

Climbing the ladder that society promotes as success seems like a great idea until it backfires. We sell our souls to reach the “top” – the top of what, though? We trade long-term consequences for short-term overindulgence.

Is there a way to “get ahead” without chasing personal dragon?

Yes. Stop running. It’s simple, not easy. Maybe these will help.

Strategies to stop the chase and simplify your life.

1.) Do the opposite. Quit running. My advise to students that are running in the hall from “someone” is: Stop running and the chase ends.

But that’s half the fun. Getting chased by a girl you’re crushing on. These youthful indulgences aren’t too serious at this point. As we enter the real world of real dragons, the stakes get higher. The consequences of chasing your personal dragon no longer affects just you, the ill effects are spread to those closest to you and beyond. It’s the pebble in the pond effect. The more mass in the pebble, the greater the energy in the wave – and the more potential harm.

2.) Shock your system. We aren’t meant to live in a constant state of sameness, comfort, and ease. Our primal ancestors passed on genes to us that expect, and even thrive on change. I’ve just started reading Mark Sisson’s latest book The Primal Connection. For those not familiar with his work in the primal/paleo lifestyle, more background is available here.

In The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness, Mark puts together evidence that our genes actually evolved for simple living. We have to do our part to express these genes in order to trigger benefits from the traits for which our genes are coded.

“If you go through life in a steady state of homeostasis, you tend to atrophy” – Mark Sisson

A few teasers to help express your genes – from The Primal Connection:

  • Laugh. This simple act turns your natural killer genes which are responsible for defending against infections and other nasties – plus lowering your blood sugar.
  • The same effect is achieved from a walk in the forest or natural setting.
  • Dig in the dirt without gloves to help release serotonin, a hormone responsible for helping with sleep, appetite, and brain function. Get smart – get dirty.
  • Touch someone and reduce the stress hormone cortisol.

3.) Connect Locally. I checked my stats and interestingly enough found people in New Zealand and Nicaragua are visiting my site. I don’t know anyone in these countries and have never visited either. But they stopped by my tiny corner of the internet. We live in an age of global everything. I’m thankful for folks dropping by and visiting, but to have any chance of slaying our personal dragons, we’ve got to build relationships locally.

The screen you’re reading from acts as a curtain. We can escape and evade and become a legend in your own mind – like the wizard behind the curtain in Oz. Dragons thrive behind digital smoke screens. Honesty and accountability happens when I connect with real people locally.

Just as poly-ticks is local, our survivability and resilience is local. Many industrial towns have been left for dead as a result of globalization and shipping jobs to cheaper labor markets. Globalization works – for The Powers That Be. It’s likely, that if you’re reading this post, that you aren’t a part of TPTB. You’re like me. An individual trying to build a self-reliant, prepared, resilient lifestyle – without the interference of the Industrial Food Machine, Big Pharma, and statist human-farm owners.

Keep in mind that dragons come in many forms – dependence on their system may be the biggest, baddest dragon of all.

Budget time to connect with local dragon slayers or it’s not going to happen. Here are some local hangouts worth your time:

  • Your neighborhood farmers market, CSA, or coop: Try here Locally Grown or search the net for local food producers
  • An actual farm. Call ahead and set up a visit. I’ve never had a local farmer tell me to go take a hike – unless you count hiking his pasture of water buffalo.
  • Local auctions. My daddy religiously visits the Friday night livestock and farm auction. He doesn’t always bring new chickens or goats home, but he rubs elbows with other like-minded dragon slayers.
  • Homeschooling networks. A teacher friend of mine moved to a western mountain state over the summer. She visited me at school after our Christmas break. She was visibly glowing with excitement as she described her new teaching job at her homeschooling co-op. Feild trips every week, building snow shelters, and working with kids that were excited about learning – everything. She quit chasing her dragon in public schooling and found freedom. She said she can’t wait to go to work everyday now. Congrats girl! Congrats!

4.) Sleep on it. And try not to dream about your dragon – like that’s up to you. Proper sleep is taken for granted by those of us who actually get sleep. Getting enough sleep is a great stress reducer. This is the time our bodies regenerates and dumps toxins. Sleep in total darkness. Even the led light from your alarm clock should be covered. Too much TV and computer time effects the quality of sleep.

5.) Say NO! Repeat after me, “NO!” See how easy that is. Now tell that to the next person who wants to dump a monkey on your back that doesn’t belong to you. These folks aren’t necessarily crappy people. They just know that you’ll grudgingly (sometimes gladly) let their monkey ride for free. Before you know it you have what looks to be a zoo full of critters crawling all over you – and only a few belong to you.

Their world won’t end if you say no. If they insist and start to guilt trip you, it’s time to dump them with their monkey. A sure sign they are in the “crappy people” category. Simplify by deleting crappy people.

Around our home, we’re adopting a new meme:

Sherpa Simple – Living in a way that is economical, sustainable, individualized, self-sufficient, comfortable, practical, resilient, and in harmony with nature and neighbors. It’s all about helping each other as we chase the simple life.

Durable sent us pics of snow in his neck of the woods yesterday. DRG just informed me that we are going to chase some snow today. Our nearest snow is a couple of hours north. Nothing like some spontaneous snow chasing. Beats chasing dragons!

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sherpa’s 3 Friday Links: Meat Chickens, Liberty Classroom, and Herbal Honey

by Todd Walker

Here’s what I found interesting this week.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens for Meat (H/T to Resilient News I think 🙂 – if not, here’s a link for you) A great article on selecting birds that aren’t chicken coop potatoes. It’s a long article over at Mother Earth News filled with useful advice and practical know-how, Gail Damerow’s trusted “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” will steer you through every chicken situation, from hatching chicks to collecting and storing eggs.

Liberty Classroom I’ve signed up for Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom as a Christmas gift to myself. I’m learning history and economics my teachers never taught me in all my schooling years. For $100 bucks you can get a real education – not the watered down revisionist history taught in government schools. NOTE: The cost of this college level material is cheaper than the price of a quick trip to the supermarket. Learn real history and economics in your car. Ask questions of the experts. Become a ferocious debater.

Herbal Honey, Herbal Syrup and Cough Drops With a name like Susun S. Weed, she can’t help but be an herbal expert. Her article appears over at Nature Skills. Susun S. Weed is a world-renowned herbalist, teacher, wise woman practitioner and author of many books including Healing Wise.

Hope y’all have a great weekend. Keep doing the stuff!

Categories: Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Homesteading, Life-Liberty-Happiness, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resilience: Bloom Where You’re Planted

by Todd Walker


hanging bucket tomato plants, five gallon bucket planter

Bloom where you’re planted!

Ever wake up in a homeless shelter on Christmas eve?

I wasn’t a stereotypical homeless guy. I had money in my pocket and bank account. I had family and friends that I could have stayed with. How did a middle class guy with two college degrees wind up spending the holidays in an old warehouse for Christmas? Doesn’t matter. What mattered was that I had a roof over my head, food, and water – and I bounced back.

During my four months of “homeless” living, I came to appreciate the amenities most of us take for granted: Hot showers, warmth, privacy, security, protection, and a place to rest. We humans need shelter. We can’t survive without it. Since we have to have these survival basics, make them as resilient as possible.

I’ve owned many houses in my life. In fact, I use to buy, fix, and sell homes before the housing bubble burst. Just after that disaster, DRG and I decided to sell our personal residence and move to her hometown to help with her aging parents. With a contract on our home and a two weeks to get out, we decided to rent a house 5 minutes from her parents. This would be a temporary arrangement until we found a place to buy. We thought we’d be there for a month of two. This “small” window turned into three years.

Bloom where you’re planted

In our move to this small house, we had to adapt from living in a 2,500 sq. ft. house to a 1,000 sq. ft. We chose this small house because it had a 1,000 sq. ft. shop in the backyard. We stored all our extra stuff there. Besides, it was temporary. Side note: This shop became the best Man Cave ever.

About six months into our temporary living arrangement, we decided not to buy and we needed to start adding value to our little rental. Our landlord basically gave us carte blanch on improving the house. We were the best tenants he ever had. We repainted the interior walls, kitchen cabinets, and I even replaced the galvanized water lines under the house.

Our next priority was a garden. The shop took up most of our available garden space. On this small city lot, we discovered new places to grow our own food. Our main area became a raised bed (12′ x 15′) next to the back deck. We added containers of assorted veggies on the deck since it received full sun. Each year we added more resilience and value: new spots to grow food, a rainwater irrigation system, compost station, and an outdoor kitchen.

Was this our dream homestead? Not hardly. But we made the best of it. I think many people believe they have to wait for the ideal situation to become more prepared and self-reliant. Don’t get caught in that trap. Bloom where you’re planted. Like the Atlanta Rhythm Section song, we added a touch of country to our city. “It ain’t much, but it’s home.” You house and home is a key resource in building resilience.

Rural or Urban?

What should you do if you live in a less than ideal situation? Not everyone can afford to uproot and move to a piece of rural property or farmstead. Many love urban living or choose the lifestyle for jobs. The problem I see with city dwelling is dependence on the big systems: Power grid, food distribution system, municipal water supply, etc. The system is fragile to say the least. You don’t have to look far for examples of how failure in one strand of this interconnected web creates a cascade effect. Panic, havoc, and mayhem results. Then the very people dependent on the big systems scream for someone to come rescue them. Urban dwellers and even suburbanites religiously put their faith in the fragile system. One hiccup can – and often does – bring the whole system to its knees.

What’s the solution?

Go local. Become less dependent on the big system. This lessens the impact of the total fail that is coming. I touched on my plan for building community to deal with the unknown unknowns here. Our most overlooked resource may be watching TV on the sofa next door. Becoming a local producer is our goal.

DRG and I can’t wait to get back to our roots of country living. Until then, our plan is to build resilient resources for our family in the following areas:


If your locale is dependent on water being piped in from hundreds of miles away by electric pumping stations, an extended power outage would cause a big die off in your big city. Water is essential for life. A plan for resilient water resources should include:

  • Rainwater collection. While it’s still ‘legal’, do your due diligence and set up a collection system.
  • Well water. If you have funds available, dig a well. You’ll be in the same boat as those dependent on electricity to pump water unless you have the ability to draw water out of the ground with alternative power. You’ve got a genset to handle the power needs of your pump. Great. Fuel will eventually run out. How about a hand pump? or gravity feed cistern? We have three deep wells on our family property. The bad part is that two of them are dependent on the electrical grid. The other well was abandoned and capped years ago. I’m doing research now to install an alternative pumping method for this abandoned well.
  • Freshwater spring. If you’re in a position to purchase property, look for land with a sustainable spring or well. Creeks, ponds, and lakes come in handy for livestock, fish, irrigation of crops, and emergency water supplies.

Food Freedom

Why is it important to know where you food comes from? We are what we eat. If you don’t want to eat the GMO fruits and vegetables from the Industrial Food Machine, what’s an individual to do. Grow your own – or at least a portion of your own food. Not only will you be eating healthier, you’re one step closer to developing self-reliance and resilience.

My long-term food storage plan only runs for six months (not recommended by the experts). I don’t store what the mainstream experts advise. Food storage is prudent but not sustainable. It runs out because we eat it – duh.

Growing our own food has been a challenge in our neighborhood. Our backyard has one tiny spot that gets about 4 to 5 hours of good sun. This past year I moved most of our garden to our full-sun front yard. I know. I run the risk of upsetting our manicured lawn neighbors. Luckily we’ve had no complaints with our foodscape near the house. Julie Bass was not as fortunate in her Michigan neighborhood.

WARNING: The Food Police are bored. What will they come up with next to make our life hell for their own amusement. (I shamelessly adapted Norseman’s fine quote from a video referring to Mother Nature’s fury: “The mountain is bored. What’s it going to do to make my life hell for its own amusement?”)

DRG and I are planning to expand into the weed infested front yard even more this year. We’ll keep some of the weeds growing for medicinal uses. We figure the beautification committee won’t mess with us if we do a gradual take over of the yard – as long it has ‘curb appeal’. It can only add value to our home since the housing bubble deflated. Wait ’til we start raising resilient backyard chickens as a science experiment for my science class.

There’s a 80 year-old man down the street that has a killer garden every year on the corner of a main intersection. He built the corner up with raised beds and packs the plants into a small garden. He sells his excess produce at his booth at our local farmers market each week. He faces the same problem we do – lack of sun in his backyard. Solution: Bloom where you’re planted.

I don’t have a plan yet for dealing with neighborly snitches. I’ll keep y’all posted on the progress and any resistance we face in our foodscaping project. Maybe I can bribe pesky snitches with fresh tomatoes.

Here’s an ambitious couple’s resilient garden. The pictures (before and after) below are an example of creative resilience over at Resilient Communities. These neighbors to our north (Canada) bloomed where they were planted 🙂


Resilience comes from the Latin word resilio which basically means having the ability to “bounce back” from some unknown surprise.

Even if we’re paying attention, surprises happen. If we’re still breathing, we’re resilient to some degree. Our bodies are hardwired to survive. We have to do our part though. Anytime we find ourselves without the basics of survival – food, water, shelter, protection – we’ve crossed over into a survival situation.

It’s not too late. We still have time to build resources that make us more resilient. Every step you make to disconnect from the system’s ball and chain – to start connecting with your family, friends, and community – the more self-reliant, independent, and resilient you and those closest to you become.

Want to start connecting to build resilience? What’s your strategy?

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Gardening, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Water | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

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