Texas and Preparedness

A friend from Texas (just outside of Houston) posted live videos on Facebook this morning as he tried to get around his town to get some supplies.  He couldn’t get very far as everything was flooded.  My prayers go out to everyone down there as the flooding continues.

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We aren’t doomsday preppers or zombie preppers.  We do keep practical emergency supplies on hand and have plans in place in the event emergencies happen…and we’ve used them when things did happen.

After hearing about all the devastation down there in Texas hubby was concerned about our own preparedness.  We may never see a hurricane here in Indiana, but there are many other things that we should be preparing for.  We haven’t done much with our emergency supplies in quite a while and when we began going through things we found we were not in good shape.  Our emergency bags (bug out bags, 72 hour bags) had outdated/expired supplies and missing items.  Our vehicle emergency boxes were not even in our vehicles.  Hubby’s get home bag was in the closet.  Our pantry is rather empty.  Our water storage is low.  Our plans and paperwork haven’t been updated.   We’ve got some work to do.

Preparedness is for EVERYONE.   Having basic emergency supplies on hand is not something that should be overlooked.  Every family should have plans in place if they are faced with an emergency situation.  For example, does your family know what to do in the event of a house fire?  Do you have copies of important papers and contact numbers that aren’t all in your phone?  We had a couple homes here locally that were totally lost to fires.  Thankfully everyone was safe.

You NEED to do this for your family.   You can’t plan for everything, but doing what you can ahead of time will make a huge difference when emergencies do happen.  Here are a few websites to get you started.

Ready.gov https://www.ready.gov/
Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies
CDC https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/index.asp
FEMA https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/90354

We continue to pray for those in Texas as they deal with the flooding and devastation from the hurricane.

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Prepping and Water

I truly believe all families should have some water in storage for emergencies.  You never know when you could find yourself in a situation where you can’t drink your water, or don’t have water to drink.  We all have heard about Flint, Michigan water problems. Then on the news recently was a local community that was on a boil alert due to some big bacterial contamination.  Last week another neighboring community was on a boil alert and another again yesterday.  Last winter several local communities has major water problems when freezing temperatures were causing city water lines to burst and even freeze.  A couple months ago we turned on our own faucets for water and it came out brown.  And then there are the StuffHitttingTheFan situations that our country has the potential to fall into.  Extra water is good, and more water is better.

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Our visit to Indiana Dunes.  The lake was so beautiful.  LOTS of water.

If you have your own water source, that is probably the best position to be in.  There are still situations you need to plan for, but you aren’t relying on anyone else for water.  But for those of us who live in town and rely on public water, it is important to find other options.

I’m on several canning/prepping/homesteading groups and these groups are a wealth of ideas and support.  One of the things I see that is very popular right now is dehydrating.  It is really nice to be able to dehydrate fruits and veggies…and other things…and be able to store them in much less space than it takes to store canned goods.  Also, those freeze dried foods from places like Mountain House are easy to use and a great convenience in emergency situations.  Dehydrated/freeze dried foods are great because they don’t take up much space, they are light and very portable if needed.  But in a StuffHTF situation where getting clean water could be a problem, what if you don’t have access to water at all?  Water isn’t very portable and one gallon per person per day in an emergency situations is a lot of water.

We don’t plan on leaving our home in emergency situations (bugging out) unless it is our last resort.  That would be if our house was hit by a tornado or fire, a major flood, you get the idea.  We do have some bags set aside that include water filters and purification tablets in case they are needed.  “Bugging in” is a different story.  If we can weather out an emergency in our home, we have water set aside here for emergencies, access to water in our hot water tank, access to water in our house lines that we can fill the tub with, two 55 gallon rain barrels, as well as water filters and purification tablets.  But here where we live, we aren’t close to water sources.  There are lots of little lakes and such in our area that we can drive to if needed, but not really within walking/biking distance.   The closest spring is over an hours drive away.  Ultimately we want to have some water stored here @ home that will get us through most emergency situations.

Here are some ideas as well as some of the drawbacks.  The easiest way to start is to buy packaged water bottles and store it away.  While this is a practical way to start, this isn’t the most frugal.  More frugal would be to buy water is larger containers such as one, two, five gallon etc.  The larger the container, the heavier.  One thing also to consider, the plastic containers may not be suitable for long term storage.  The plastic milk jug style containers don’t hold up.  I’ve had a couple that leaked out and I didn’t know it until I found a puddle on my pantry floor.  The large water cooler size jugs are heavy, but hold up better for long term storage.  You can also recycle containers such as clean two liter bottles and store water from your own tap.  However you decide to store your water, you want to make sure to are rotating your stored water.  Out with the old, in with the new every six months.

You can get deeper into water storage including water collection, filtration and purification.  There are many great websites that have good detailed information that can fill you in on how to do that if you are interested and I’ll link a few below.  But I hope that regardless of your views on prepping, you will consider having a minimum of one gallon per person per day for at least three days worth of water for your family, and don’t forget to add water for your pets.

Extra water is good, and more water is better.

https://www.ready.gov/water
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/drinking/creating-storing-emergency-water-supply.html
https://beprepared.com/water-storage.html
http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/2014/02/water-storage-tips.html
http://modernsurvivalblog.com/preps/food-storage-water-and-cash-for-1st-time-preppers/

 

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

2016Aug25Chickens“You’re NOT a homesteader!!”

Yes, I’ve heard that and no, I’m not.  I don’t fit into the homesteader mold nor do I fit the prepper or survivalist molds either.

While many things I do are popular in these lifestyles, I don’t really fit the mold.  I have a totally different philosophy and goal than most others.

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Making slippers for Christmas gifts,  just like mama did.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I do is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for them, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became and still is one of my favorite activities.

 

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Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel, however, that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

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Canning grape jam.

There are so many ideas of what a homesteader is. To some it’s living completely off grid and to others it is simply adopting a more self sufficient lifestyle where ever you might be at.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can also be rewarding.  We live in a small town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

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The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry with a garden got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, replacing appliances that stopped working etc.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

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Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I guess I would call it living Proverbs 31.  I’m a homemaker.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

What about you?  Do you fit the mold or are you an outlier like me?

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Seed Starting 2016

seedlingsEven though my garden is buried under snow, in my mind it’s spring!   It’s time to make garden plans, order and start seeds.  This year I am excited because I am starting more of my own seeds and ordering less.

I had also hoped to make my own seed starting mix, but I wasn’t able to get what I needed.  I used a basic seed starting mix that I already had…non organic, but it was only peat moss, vermiculite and bark fines.  I’m trying to get away from using peat.  I added the last bit of coconut coir that I had on hand.  I can’t find a good source around me so I’m going to have to find a good source online.  Do you make your own seed starting mix or do you buy it?  If you buy it, what kind do you buy?

I had picked up a few trays on clearance from our local big box hardware store.  Well, not really local as most shopping is at least a 30 minute drive.  I love finding these kind of deals.  The plastic trays that I already had were old and starting to crack.  I also picked up some cheap dixie cups.  These are great for starting seeds.

160209plantlights1160209plantlights2I don’t have any specific grow lights or plant lights.  I just use regular bulbs that say full spectrum or daylight that run over 5000 K in cool light appearance.  The ones I have right now are 6500 K and 100 watt.  While I HATE fluorescent bulbs, these are the most cost effective (LED’s are still very expensive) and work work well for me in this tiny green house.  I also have two small fluorescent tube lights that used to be in our kitchen.

So far most of the seeds I have started are all my own seeds from last year.  Roma, Marglobe and Black Krim tomatoes, pablano peppers, white onions, red romaine lettuce, and slobolt lettuce.  I planted some cabbage, spinach and kale from seeds I bought last year, but just to be safe I will be ordering more.  I also planted some celery seeds I got last year but they have yet to germinate.   I have to buy bell and banana pepper seeds yet.  I also have some hot pepper seeds that I have been growing for years now.  I don’t know the name of the pepper but they seem to be Tabasco peppers from what I could find.  They are one of hubby’s favorites for making hot pepper flakes.

That is it for now.  I’d love to hear what your garden plans are for this year and what seeds you’ll be starting or have already started.  Until next time…grace and peace!

Storing Eggs Long Term

We’ve been talking about getting laying hens for several years. We were told that living right in town we couldn’t have them so we had been working to change that. We recently found out that we can, and so we are starting to plan on getting chicks in the spring.

We have a lot of people around this area (especially Amish) who sell fresh eggs so we already enjoy farm fresh eggs. Now we’re looking forward to having an abundance of our own eggs. I already understand about storing eggs short term, but have never really felt comfortable with long term storage…like prepping storage.

I have seen lots of posts about different ways to store eggs for long periods. Since we haven’t raised our own, my preference was to have dehydrated/powdered eggs on hand. They actually don’t taste too bad as scrambled eggs, and there have been times when I’ve had to use it for baking when I’ve run out of eggs (like now) and it works great. But what about storing whole eggs?  Safely?

I came across this video from Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. on YouTube and while they are really more into reenactment than prepping, it’s still good information to chew on. I’m not going to run out and start storing my eggs any of these ways, I honestly think I’ll stick with the dehydrated for long term storage, but maybe at some point when I have an abundance of my own eggs, I will decide that it’s practical.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Have yourself a great day!  Grace and peace!

Recipe: Basic Brown Rice

brown riceI have been using brown rice for a long time with much trial and error. It is so much healthier than white rice and isn’t any harder to make. The World’s Healthiest Foods website says “The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.” One cup of brown rice has 3 1/2 grams of fiber while the same amount of white rice has less than one gram of fiber. We all need from 25 to 38 grams of fiber in our diet everyday.

I buy my brown rice in bulk 25 lbs. at a time.  We eat a lot of rice and this will typically last us about 6 months.  If you are looking at long term storage of rice, brown rice wouldn’t be a good choice.  Brown rice has healthy, essential oils that cause it to become rancid quickly.  The shelf life is about 6 months.  My favorite place to store brown rice is in the freezer which gives you an additional 6 months.  But we usually finish it off before then.  While it is possible to store it longer in mylar with oxygen absorbers, it may give you up to two years.  Keep in mind, you don’t know how long that brown rice has been in storage before you get it.  Again, white rice would be a much better choice for long term storage.  Oh, and putting it in the freezer for a couple days after you buy it also helps keep those little bugs under control.

I have found for me the perfect recipe is 1 cup of uncooked rice to three cups of water/broth. Others recommend anywhere from 2 1/4 to 1 3/4 water/broth. Trial and error, see what works best for you depending on your stove and your cookware. One cup of uncooked brown rice equals about 3 cups of cooked rice. Be sure to rinse your rice good before cooking.  Recently I have been soaking my rice overnight, I have found that changes the recipe to 1 cup soaked brown rice to two cups of water/broth.  It also changes the flavor some.  Oh, and don’t stir rice while it cooks, it will become mushy.

Another method I found for preparing brown rice came from the Food Network (I really like Alton Brown’s recipes). Instead of boiling the rice, it’s baked. I can’t wait to try this myself:

1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.

Bone Broth Stock

stockRight now…bone broth!

When I first moved out on my own and discovered a crockpot…I really loved how easy it was to make meals.  It was so convenient and I use it all the time.  When I realized I could cook a whole chicken in the crockpot for dinner, then put the carcass back in with water and seasonings overnight to make broth for soup…it quickly became my favorite kitchen tool.  I have several now.  It is still my favorite way to make meals and soup stocks. But while I love the ease of crockpots, I love the efficiency of the pressure cooker…my current favorite kitchen tool.  In just a few hours I have a beautiful rich, yummy bone broth start to finish.  I think it make much better broth than the crockpot. There is still a lot of fear out there regarding pressure cookers.  They aren’t as unpredictable as they once were.  Modern features make they much safer and easier to use.  I have two, one stainless just for cooking and one aluminum just for canning.

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know there is a difference between stock and broth.  If you’re not like me, you’re probably laughing.  I’m all right with that.  Anyway, I’ve been making homemade stock/broth for soups for a long time and when someone pointed out that there was a difference, I decided to find out for myself.  One place said that the difference was broth is made from meat and stock is made from bones.   Another said that stock is clear while broth is cloudy.   Still another said that stock is unseasoned and broth is seasoned.  So I just shook my head and called what I make stock or broth depending on my mood.  Recently I found a post from one of my favorite chefs…Alton Brown…on the difference between stock and broth, and I figured if anyone would know, it would be him.  He basically says that stock is made from bones and such and broth is a liquid in which meat has been cooked.  I trust him.  So technically bone broth is really bone stock.  That name change will never catch on.  I digress…

I won’t bore you with the details of how to make bone broth or stock.  A quick internet search will give you plenty of instructions and recipes but if you’d like to know how I do it, let me know!  Basically you take the best bones you can find, put them into your water filled stockpot, crockpot or pressure cooker  with a tablespoon or two of good apple cider vinegar (to draw the minerals out) and any other seasonings/aromatics that you like (if you like).   I keep a bag of left over veggies and veggie scraps in the freezer for this.  In the past I made mine in the crockpot, but now I find that it is easier and tastes even better using my pressure cooker.

There has been a bit of discussion as to whether using a pressure cooker to make healthy bone broth was good or not.  Some say it destroys vitamins, some say it doesn’t.  I read a lot of both arguments and with adding the convenience and the taste, I’m fine with using the pressure cooker.   I don’t just make it for it’s health properties, but I can it to have on hand for soups, stews and gravies.  I love knowing what is in my broth when I go to use it.

So, do you make your own bone broth or stock?