Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hippies, Tree Huggers, and Preppers


    Here where I live in rural Iowa, my neighbors are very conservative.  I consider myself (Using a phrase from a fellow by the name of Gerald Celente) to be a "Political Atheist".  I don't believe in the concepts of Liberal, and Conservative.  I don't associate myself with being a "Republican" or "Democrat".  In fact I've come to believe that these divisions are really a "Construct".  I've come to feel that this is a ruse, a con job, a misrepresentation.  Over the decades, the government here in the good old U.S. of A., has drifted from one side to another... Each side taking it's turn, and trumpeting it's virtues.  All the while nothing really changes!

     We still keep sending our young people off to wars, in places we don't belong.  Our personal freedoms keep being eroded.  Our financial future (And our children's,) is placed in ever greater harm. And the rich get richer at our expense.  Liberal versus Conservative, doesn't seem to change a damn thing, neither side does anything to change the big stuff that really matters.  Taxes keep climbing, people still go homeless and hungry, and they can't even deliver a letter to my mail box without going broke.  What I see in the ballot box is an illusion, one side pitted against the other, all designed to make us believe we have a choice!  It's astounding to me how people like Rush Limbaugh, or on the other side Piers Morgan, can get rich by perpetuating what to me is a transparent hoax.

     I don't like to call myself a "Doomsday Prepper" either, because it's a moniker that pigeon holes me into a stereotype.  It's a name that conjures up someone crawling into a hole in the ground with their arsenal of weapons, and Meals Ready to Eat.... Waiting for a comet to smash into the Planet and kill us all.  We ARE living in troubling times, that's for sure.  The handwriting IS on the wall.  We're living in a dual economy, while a few very rich folks are doing quite well, the rest of us see our lives slipping between our fingers.  While those Republicans and Democrats put their thumbs under their suspenders, stick out their chests like a crowing rooster and proclaim that they've crafted a recovery.... For most of us, our lives are turning to crap.  There's no end in site either, our Country is sliding towards "Third World" status before our very eyes.

   As I read the alternative news, I get the sense of a mind bogglingly surreal world.  How pork prices at the grocery store will soon skyrocket because pigs in those huge pork factories here in the Midwest, are being fed sardines from the coast of Chile, and those fish populations are over depleted now.   I read how tennis shoe parts are shipped to China to be put together there, then shipped back here to adorn our Teenager's feet. (And the "Emma-Maersk" container ship consumes three thousand six hundred gallons of fuel.... PER HOUR!!!.)  This is how insane our world has become.  I don't look at this from a stand point saving the "Mother Planet" mind you... I see mis-management of our resources, to the point of our own self destruction.

     The ""Hippies"" on the supposed "Left" have been holding hands around the camp fire and telling us this has been going on for decades.  Of course they're right.  More importantly, it's the efforts of some of these other groups that we should be studying as someone who's concerned about the future.  Most people who look at the future with a "Preparedness mindset" consider themselves to be "Right leaning", we're interested in preserving our Second amendment rights for example.  We shouldn't automatically dismiss others however, because they don't agree with us on certain concepts.  The goal here is to "Survive and thrive" in a very uncertain future.  We should in our preparations, seek out common ground with those that we otherwise wouldn't have much to do with.   If you believe for example as I do, that the best hedge against the future, is moving towards a self sustaining lifestyle (Rather than "Prepper", I've decided that I should be calling myself a "Preparing Homesteader",) there are lessons to be learned in the workings of what used to be called a "Hippy Commune."  What's now called an "Intentional Community", is really after all, a self sustaining compound.  Studying how these folks have made it work, getting tips and tricks about their "Off Grid" lifestyle, can help us weather a future where the Grid might not be available.

     Others might be interested... And have been investing great efforts at "Reducing their Carbon Footprint".  You might think this to be a bunch of baloney, but doesn't this really mean being able to live with less dependence on a failing society.  Those who are into "Permaculture", talk about things like "Sharing the abundance", the exact opposite of a "Doomsday Prepper's" efforts at what's called "OPSEC".  On the other hand, a "Permaculture Food Forest Garden", is a perfect "Zombie camouflaged" way to produce food.

     I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if we set aside our Conservative, VS. Liberal differences, find common ground, and start having a dialogue with folks that we might otherwise look upon with disdain... We might just be able to learn from one another.  I think that you would find that those other folks have as much trepidation about the future as you do after all!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Mud?  No problem!!!

     I ran across a posting on Facebook recently about how some new clothing that the Military has invented, actually cleans itself.  (Check out the article here)  Supposedly it won't even get stained by pouring motor oil on it.  This miracle of modern military technology is apparently achieved by applying  chemicals to the fabric resulting in what the scientists are calling an  “Omniphobic coating.”  (Don't worry... it usually takes about 20 years for skin cancer to begin showing up)  They've even figured out how to keep them from getting stinky from your smelly arm pits by putting "Antimicrobial additives" into the coating (My always skeptical mind is telling me this means some kind of pesticide).  The headline of this article touts how this revolutionary new coating on our future"Oceania" uniforms, will somehow free us from drudgery because they will forever more... Be free of the horror of having to be laundered!!!   

     Besides the idea of going about our daily lives with chemical soup draped over our bodies, there's something else at work here.  Something almost sinister.  Something slowly robbing us of our humanity.  I read a story the other night on the new internet radio show that I'm hosting, (APN Radio - "They were Preppers"). This story (Taking a Magical Journey) tells of a trip that a young boy took with his parents, right around the year 1900... in of all things - A covered wagon!  In great detail, it describes the sights and sounds, and even smells of that experience.  

     It's a miracle of "Mysterious ways" to me how in my life there's often a convergence of experiences.  I'm blessed with being dragged along, blindly, and stupidly, to certain realizations.  I was working on my house the other day, and a small life and death struggle caught my eye.  A very large ant had gotten caught in a spider's web, by just the very tip of her abdomen.  While the Spider circled around, looking for a window of opportunity to strike, (The Spider was only about the size of the Ant) the Ant was able to spin around on her attached hiney always keeping her powerful pincers facing the  spider in a 360 degree dance of survival.  It was a marvelous natural spectacle to watch!  Now this was on that "Back side" of my home, where I hardly ever go, except to mow the grass once a week.  Had I not been working there at that time... Of all times... I would have missed this little microcosm, of Nature's wonder.  (The, Ant got away by the way).

My Cellphone got missed somehow in the pocket cleaning ritual this week, and unfortunately it went into the washing machine (Speaking of laundry).  No effort at "Blow drying", burying in rice, or leaving on the dash board could save it.  So I was without a phone for several days, while "Fedex" brought my new phone (It was insured).  I was amazed at how much simpler my life was without having a "Pocket Master" demanding my attention.

Clothes that wash themselves, rides in covered wagons, the life and death struggle of insects, and the "Horror" of no texting, all coming together within the space of a few days in my life.  "Mysterious ways" indeed!  The "Man Upstairs" usually  has to wack me over the head with a two by four several times, before a dim light bulb starts glowing in my brain.  

We Homo Sapiens spend an awful lot of our efforts attempting to construct a technological cocoon around ourselves.   As you prepare for an uncertain future... Are you thinking in terms of the stereotype that a television show would have you believe?  Are you letting go of the concept that you should be spending all your time trying to preserve the technological conveniences that you've become addicted to???  In the future, we may not have these things, but is it all that bad of a thing after all?  Maybe........ Just maybe, we may find that living without the  drapery of our technological mastery over nature, we can find a happier life enjoying the things we're missing.  Instead of zipping down the highway at warp speed, the future may force us to slow down to a horse's speed, (Or our own), but noticing so much more along the way.  Maybe, without our faces locked on that phone, fingers texting as fast as possible, we can take time to ponder a honey bee, gathering nectar in all its glory, or laugh at a couple of hens quarreling over a juicy grasshopper.  The effortless gliding of a hawk, as she sails the wind, The feeling you get when you hug a loved one who's been away for a few days.  These are the things we're missing in our modern world.  An "SHTF" world may re-introduce us to a happier life after all!   

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


How many times have you seen on TV "Prepper" shows or on a blog page, someone carefully storing away their beans and rice in "Mylar Bags" and those "Food Safe Buckets"?   I've never had much understanding of this methodology or way of storing food for my family.  If the World goes to Hell in a Hand Basket tomorrow, you would certainly consume all your carefully stored supplies long before a twenty year "Shelf Life" expires.

More to the point, what if "SHTF" lasts twenty years???  Unless you're extremely wealthy you couldn't afford twenty years worth of food storage, and unless you have a warehouse to store it in, you don't have the space necessary.  I recently did some browsing on the website of a popular freeze dried food company, and they were selling the stuff at seven thousand dollars for one person for a year!!!  Who can afford that?  If you have a family of four, that's twenty eight thousand bucks.  And have you ever eaten that crap?

My wife and I have made it our mission instead to create for ourselves as much of a self sustaining life that's possible here on our one acre, and yes we do have some food storage, but we don't have any intentions of storing twenty years worth.  Here are a few tips for trying to create a food storage plan for yourself  that won't break the bank, and still provide palatable meals for your family even if "SHTF" lasts decades.

1.   A reasonable goal to try and achieve is 18 months worth of stored food.  This is based on  a program of trying to produce your own food over the long term and 18 months will get your family from one good year of production... on through Winter... and a full "Bad Year" of drought or other natural disaster that might ruin your production... Then back to eating fresh from the garden that next Summer. (Consuming and rotating through our stored food as we go.)

2.   Which brings me to the next pillar of our food storage plan.... Storage takes a back seat to production!  Learn how to garden NOW.  Before something bad happens to our world, and you find yourself up a creek without a paddle.  Grow and produce everything you possibly can given your circumstances, then concentrate on the "Inputs" that you can't possibly produce on your own, like salt, or corn starch.  It's amazing with a little research what you can make at home.  I've made my own ketchup, molasses, maple syrup, and even "cooked up" a few bowls of my own version of "Wheaties" before.

3.   Use your resources to set yourself up, for the long term.  Rather than spend that seven thousand Dollars on one years worth of freeze dried food, invest in home canning supplies, a good smoker or maybe a solar food dehydrator.  Having these things in place, and knowing how to use them, will serve you better than empty food storage buckets twenty years down the road.

4.   Don't get discouraged by the challenge of your task.  The numbers can be overwhelming, and your family's nutritional needs in an "SHTF" scenario can be tricky to figure out, so start small and set "Incremental" goals.  You might try and store a month's supply at first, then set your goal at 3, months, 6 months etc., but... Keep in mind in your long range planning that you'll need to store a pretty large amount of food.
(I calculated the numbers in the chart above using a number of different sources, and
used several different methods.  It's not designed to scare you, but you should
always keep in mind that the task of storing your own food is quite a challenge so...

5.   Don't let ""Expert"" opinions guide you down the wrong path for your own family.  By all means, do your homework, and build upon the work of others, but don't take someone else's opinion literally (Including mine).  For example, the Church of Latter Day Saints, an organization which has been "Into" food storage for hundreds of years recommends that you would have to store 900 lbs of wheat (Family of 4, kids over 7 yrs old, 18 months)  In contrast, I only listed 243 lbs in the chart above.  I just don't see how anybody could eat that much wheat.  Calculated from my bread baking recipe it would mean that the "Mormons" plan on  eating nearly 4 loaves per person per week.  Heck, with that much fiber, I wouldn't get anything done except sitting on the toilet.  (Too much info., I know, but realistic none the less.)  

6.   Don't lock yourself into one method of food storage!  In my chart above, I calculated that you would need over 3700 pints of fruits and veggies (Based on USDA guidelines, and "Padded" some to accommodate additional requirements in an "SHTF" scenario 
The thing that you have to remember is, that you can get your food from lots of different storage options.  First of course is eating fresh foods, right from the garden.  Then might come dehydrating your fruits and veggies.  How about a root cellar?  You can store hundreds of pounds worth of food there with a lot less work.  In contrast, storing all your fruits and veggies in pint canning jars, would require over 49,000 canning jar lids in a 20 year long "SHTF" scenario.

Meats can be smoked, salt cured or even "Jerked".  Fruits can be dried, Heck, some veggies like carrots can simply be left in the ground with a nice "Blankie" of straw or leaves.... Ready to harvest all Winter long!  And yes, some things like beans and rice can be stored in buckets.  

7.    DO NOT RELY ON YOUR FOOD STORAGE AS A HEDGE AGAINST GAINING A LEARNING CURVE, OR "STARTING UP"!!!  I can't tell you how many times someone has told me that their stored food is for IF something happens, and that it will give them time to get their food production "Up and running".  Look I planted my first garden in 1973!!!  I'm still learning!!!  Each year I learn new techniques, and ways to trim more labor off of my gardening chores. There are lots of new techniques these days, and yes... some of them work quite well.  

Imagine the world has gone to Hell in a Hand Basket, and you have to heat with wood.  Try to visualize cutting, chopping, splitting, and hauling from the woods something like ten cords of wood every year.  Oh, and you have to do this without fossil fuels.  No chain saw, log splitter, or vehicle to haul in.  You have to do this all by hand, by axe, hand saws, and carrying it all on your back!  Now tell me you'll have time to "Learn" to produce all your food, "Learn" to can, dehydrate, smoke, and otherwise preserve that food so that you won't starve the next winter.  The time to learn and do is now... BEFORE you have to watch your children slowly starve to death!!!

The key is to develop a program of food storage NOW.  Creating a sustainable long term production, and storage "System", should give you the ability to feed your family over the long term... Ten, or even twenty years.  Not just a couple of years worth of food that you can barely get past your taste buds in your "Doomsday Bunker"!!!  You should be experimenting, learning, and finding out what works best for your family, and in your climate, Before "The end of the World as we know it" happens!!!!