Archive for December, 2011
You hear a lot of talk about saving up for an emergency, holocaust, natural disaster or all out war. Many people believe some sort of disaster is coming. The beliefs vary from nuclear war to hurricanes or earthquake, or a complete economic collapse. Whatever the cause, you should be prepared for any possibility in order to keep you, your family and friends alive in a survival situation. People say you should stock up on gold, silver and the dollar. Many people are putting their whole live savings into heavy metals for survival times.
But, think about it a minute. What value will gold or silver have after a complete economic and social breakdown? Can you eat it? Can you build something with it? Will it keep you warm? And with gold currently going for over $1,600 per ounce, who can afford to stockpile it? Not to mention that if you want to trade in gold, you will need to have a precision scale handy with you at all times to weigh tiny little bits of it.
The dollar keeps losing its value with the continuous growth of inflation. If the economy collapses, paper money will have no value at all. Just look back at the great depression where in Germany they used wheelbarrows full of money just to buy a loaf of bread. People who are hoarding money will be in for a shocking surprise when they wake up one day to find it has no value.
Look back at history and see what items have real trade value. In the past, people have used shells, cocao, salt, paper money, coins, gold or silver. There are many other items that have been used for trade in the past, the list goes on. But two important items that remain of value for trade even today all around the world are goods and services.
Back as early as about 80 years ago people paid their local doctor with a chicken, eggs or vegetables. Whatever they had on hand to pay the bill, they brought in. People traded goods and services. These items will never lose value.
So, what should you really stock up on for survival times?
Toilet paper, coffee and bullets. Lots of them.
One single bullet can feed a family for weeks at a time. Take down an animal and you are set for a while. Bullets will be needed for food and protection. Back in the wild west, every man, woman and child could shoot a gun. It was born out of necessity for survival. You could protect your family, farm and animals from wild predators. You could provide a meal for your family. Bullets are a valuable resource for survival times. Or, if you are anti gun, get a bow. Get arrows. Get lots of arrows. Get spare string for your bow and parts to repair or make your own arrows. But you should have some sort of defense. After an economic collapse or disaster, the population will be diminished. Wild animals will once again roam the land and increase. Gun haters will be wishing they had a nice rifle when they cannot leave their home due to a wild cougar on the front porch.
Our society is addicted to coffee. Enter any restaurant, gas station or convenience store and you will find fresh coffee brewing at all times of the day or night. It has become part of our daily lives. Coffee will be valuable as a trade item after a complete social collapse. After a three day hike in the woods, any coffee lover will run straight to the nearest cafe for a good old cup of coffee. Most take it with them on the trip. Even the military provides a pack of instant coffee with every single MRE meal. They know the value and importance of coffee on the morale of its soldiers.
Toilet paper needs no explanation. Imagine life without it. Get tons of it. It will become a valuable trade resource later on. Or, you could always use all those dollars you stockpiled.
I recently tried the Mainstay 3600 Emergency Food Rations just to get an idea what it tastes like and how satisfying it is. It is not a good idea to suddenly need survival rations and then start to experiment with your taste buds. Food should taste good as well as providing all the necessary nutrients and calories. And you need to feel full afterwards.
So I ordered a package and cracked it open. The package holds 9 small cubes, providing 400 calories each. The label claims that you can eat two per day for marine based living or three for land based. I guess they figure you will use more energy on land.
I waited for a day when I had not eaten for many hours. I was very hungry. I wanted to see how satisfying these survival rations will be on my hunger.
The emergency food rations look like a cubed cookie. And they have the same texture as a semi soft cookie. They are surprisingly easy to bite into. The taste is pleasant, lemony and sweet with a hint of butter. They are not overpoweringly sweet either.
The survival rations have a sort of a fine grainy feel on the tongue. But they are not bad at all. Sort of like a cross between cookies or cake. It is like having dessert for dinner. I also did not have anything to drink for about an hour afterwards, because they claim to be non thirst provoking and I wanted to test this. They do live up to their claim. You can eat these without the need to drink water with them. In a survival situation, that can be very important when water supplies are scarce.
I was afraid that one, small bar could not possibly satisfy me for hours. It just looks too small. But the emergency bar is satisfying and kept me filled up for a few hours.
A few days later I tried one of these survival rations with some fruit and that kept me going half the day.
The final result is that these do taste good and will keep you alive in an emergency situation.
I would suggest keeping a case or more of these around for emergency situations along with some canned fruit to provide all the nutrition you would need to get you through. With a shelf life of 5 years and a very affordable price, these are a great item to keep in your survival larder. A full month supply of food will only cost you about $70. I cannot come near to that price when cooking for myself on a normal daily basis. These are also great to keep in the car in the winter for emergency purposes. If you get stuck on the road somewhere during a storm, these can give you the energy to keep going.
We offer them on our main website here:
Buy whole grain animal feed for cheap long term survival storage. Storage, preparation and use of whole grains.
Buying Cheap Whole Grain
After many weeks of research and considering the idea of buying “horse feed” for long term food storage, I finally broke down and got a bag. You can find bulk grains at animal feed stores for much cheaper than grain packaged as “people food” and it is normally the exact same thing. The “people food” may be cleaned and sorted a bit more. In animal feed you may find a bit of stone or husks in the bag. But for a fraction of the price – who cares? Stocking up for long term survival food storage on a budget does not allow for expensive, fancy packaging and shipping fees.
Tractor Supply has animal feed grain in 50 pound bags at very affordable prices. I went online and studied the Producers Pride grain ingredients and they claim to have just pure, whole grain and nothing else. No additives, preservatives or chemicals.
The oats sell at $14.50 for a 50 pound bag and I had a coupon for a dollar off. Last night I picked up a bag and took it home. I immediately tore the bag open and found that the oats are still in the hull. That will not matter after I run it through my hand crank grain mill to make my own rolled oats for oatmeal. I can just blow off the chaff after I am done rolling the oats.
First, I had to overcome the idea that this was “animal feed”. After looking at the grain in my hands for a few minutes, I decided to try some. Having grown up near a farm, I often ate handfuls of whole, fresh grain out of the fields. So I shelled a couple and tried them. It is very good. Reminds me of my childhood days.
An online search shows whole oats selling for about $60 on average anywhere else, packaged for human consumption. Oatmeal sells at the grocery store for a couple dollars per pound. That adds up to about $100 for fifty pounds of oatmeal. And as soon as you crush, roll or grind any whole grain, it will immediately start to lose its vitamins and shelf life. Most grain products in the grocery store have lost most of their vitamins by the time you get them home. Normally the vitamin rich outer layer is ground off the grain to give it a longer shelf life. And then many companies add synthetic vitamins back into their products in order to give it any “food value” at all. Artificial, synthetic vitamins are not as good for you as natural ingredients.
I will go back tonight and get a 50 pound bag of whole grain corn to put away as well. Some of it I will pack in smaller tupperware containers for immediate use. The rest will go into larger food grade plastic containers from restaurants for long term storage.
Storage Of Whole Grain
Good, whole grain is naturally shelf stable. But as soon as you modify the grain in any way, it looses its natural shelf life and begins to break down. To get the most vitamins out of your grain products, you should grind the grain yourself and use the flour immediately. Only make what you will use and do not make any extra.
For long term food storage for the purpose of disaster preparedness or survival, you should repackage your bulk grain in smaller, air tight containers. Plastic buckets from restaurants are good. You simply ask around and can usually find a bunch of them in your neighborhood for free. Use only food grade plastic containers for your food storage. Many suggest that you should also add chemicals to remove the oxygen and moisture, but 1,000s of years ago, they did not have all the chemicals we use today and got along just fine. To be extra sure of good, long shelf life, you can vacuum seal the grain in smaller portions before packing them into larger food grade 5 gallon buckets.
You may want to deep freeze the grain for a while before packaging it in order to kill off any insects or eggs. You can place smaller portions in your freezer for a few days. Or, if you live in a colder climate, you can place the grain outside in the winter and let freeze for a few days. If you do this, be sure to keep it dry. Freeze it in the sealed containers it will be stored in and leave it sealed. No matter which method you choose, allow the grain to warm up slowly again to prevent condensation build up in the grain.
Store your grain at 70 degrees or below for best shelf life. If you have a root cellar, basement or a good, deep hole in the ground, even better. The ground stays at a stable 50 degrees all year round. This temperature is perfect for long term food storage. I plan to make a simple, free root cellar by digging a square hole in the ground about 8 feet deep and covering it with boards. This will be great for short term meat, milk and cheese storage as well. Canned foods can also be kept under ground on shelves or on pallets. If you have access to cement blocks and can line the hole with them, even better. Cover it all with about 6 – 9 feet of dirt and you have a nice bomb shelter as well.
Using your whole grain
You can eat your grain raw, cooked, boiled, sprouted, ground up and made into bread or crushed.
Wheat, rye and oats taste good raw. To get the most vitamins out of your grain, you can sprout it. Sprouts are some of the healthiest foods you can get. Sprouting grain increases the vitamins available to you. Sprouting grain is very simple. Soak the grain for a couple hours in fresh, clean water. Drain and rinse the grain and spread it out on a single layer and cover lightly with a towel. Keep the grain moist at all times and rinse and drain again every 8 to 12 hours. Continue the cycle until they have sprouted. You can store the sprouts in the fridge for one or two weeks.
If you grind the grain, remember, do not make more than you will use at a one time. The flour looses vitamins soon after it is ground. Whole grain breads and baked goods take some getting used to because they have a richer flavor and are darker in color than bleached (useless) flour. But again, for thousands of years people were using whole grain goods and survived quite well.
You can course grind your grain to make hot cereal. Only grind what you will use up soon in order to keep all the vitamins and nutrients.
No matter how you use whole grains, you will surely notice a difference in taste and quality over prepackaged, processed foods.
One of the biggest obstacles facing people who want to prepare for survival or an emergency is the cost. Many people spend thousands on expensive freeze dried meals, top of the line outdoor survival gear and expensive military style assault rifles. If I went with those ideas, I would still be sitting here dreaming about one day being prepared for an emergency, or worse an economic collapse or war. You do not need to be rich to be prepared. I do not have much extra spending money at all. But I am prepared.
Here are a few pointers.
Instead of buying freeze dried meals or military MREs at $7 – 8 per meal, buy canned foods at the grocery store when they are on sale. I watch for deals and then grab 4 or 6 cans at half price and then put them away. I use the stuff and keep it rotated as well. When oatmeal 10 packs are on sale buy a couple boxes. I prefer the single portion flavored packs for convenience as compared to the cheaper bulk 2 pounders. If you buy a larger container, then you should repackage them into smaller portions and seal them somehow to keep out bugs and air. I do not need to repackage the single portions for long term storage. Just toss them in a tupperware container or vacuum seal them and they should be good for a couple years.
Dehydrate your own foods and vacuum seal them. If you dry them to a crisp and seal them away, the shelf life can be years. I have even put away homemade beef jerky this way and eat it for a year with no problems. (It doesnt last longer because I eat it). Dry apples, pears, peaches, melons, veggies, meats. Vacuum seal everything for long term storage.
Shop at the dollar store for deals on your survival rations. You can find some very good deals there. Ramon noodles, although not the healthiest thing on the earth, is cheap at 6 packs for a dollar. I would rather have some of these around after an economic downfall than nothing at all. I have about 4-6 six packs put away. They last for years if kept dry and in a plastic box.
Shelter, emergency blankets, first aid, personal care supplies, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and more can all be found at the dollar store.
Ask around for free stuff. I got my survival camper, a slide in truck camper for free. My new 32 foot off grid living camper cost me only the towing fee to get it to my yard. My antique wood stove cost $10 from a friend. The list goes on. Ask family, friends, work colleagues. I even chat with customers at work sometimes and something comes up through conversation. One day I was told I could come over and harvest a car load of black walnuts from a customer’s back yard. They were happy to get them out of the grass and I was happy for free food. I just got a free lawn tractor with trailer and snow plow because I was looking asking around.
Buy surplus items rather than the newest, finest, most expensive on the market. Watch flea markets, garage sales and classified ads. The free section of the classifieds is an awesome tool for free survival and preparedness items. Most of my camping and survival gear is second hand and most of it is in like new condition.
Get free food grade storage containers at restaurants. They often get stuff in buckets that just get tossed out when they are empty. These make great grain storage containers for to keep bugs and mice out of your home dried foods.
Some people may already be putting away supplies for a rainy day, so to speak. Many people plan for emergencies or a survival situation and stockpile food, blankets, ammo, water and other supplies, but never practice using any of them. What good is it to go out and buy a brand new shiny $1,600 assault rifle, but never even use it. Or, more simply, what about the day to day actions of just preparing meals and keeping yourself clean when the power goes out.
When people loose their power, many loose the ability to cook, clean or even flush the toilet. Electricity powers our heat, fresh water supply, sewage disposal and even the stove in many homes. Any conventional household heater requires electricity to blow the hot air through the house. With a power outage, even the thermostat and electronic controls will not work. Therefore no heat.
Fresh, hot running water is normally heated by electricity or gas. And when the power goes out, so do the electronic controls for your hot water heater. Not to mention that the fresh water fails completely.
How, for example, do you flush the toilet with no running water? Have you practiced it? It takes lots of water to run a common household toilet.
Unless you have propane or natural gas, even the stove will not work without power.
I spent the night in my off grid camper last night just to see how it would be. My propane lines leak, so no stove. The solar panels are not yet properly set up, so very little light or electricity. I have my new (antique) wood stove hooked up, so there was some heat. But I do not yet have enough power to run the fan constantly. And the wood stove needs a bit of work to stop all the air flowing into the cracks so it will burn longer at night. Right now it only burns for about 1.5 hours untended. If I put more wood in, I get a violent hot fire that will still burn out in 1.5 hours.
So, anyway, I had it a comfy 70 degrees in the camper last night while using a laptop hooked up to a cell phone for internet use. (Hey – survival doesnt mean no comfort). I heated up my dinner on top of the wood stove in a pot. Just a prepackaged meal, sort of like an MRE, but I found some very cheaply. I also heated up some water on top of the stove for washing. But I discovered a problem. My sink drain plug will not stop water flow. That means no filling up the sink to wash. I will need to find a wash basin to use for the future. I could buy a new drain plug, but they do not last long anyway. And in a survival situation, you want long term solutions. The grocery stores will not be open for your convenience anymore.
So, there are a couple things that need to be practiced and planned for in an emergency or survival situation. Just think of all the modern conveniences we are used to. A lot of people run the water faucet constantly. Rinsing off the toothbrush, rinsing off the dishes, washing your hands and the list goes on. Take away this convenience and you will need to find alternate solutions – now, rather than waiting until you need it and the stores are closed.
I use a french press to make my coffee. It is cheap, has nothing on it to wear out and no disposable filters to waste your money on. But, the thing is horrible to clean with no running water. Need to find a solution to that one. I also have a nice single cup coffee brewer with a reusable filter. That too is a mess to clean up. I am so used to going to the sink and rinsing it under a constant stream of water.
If you will be using a wood stove for heat and cooking, remember that you need flat bottom pots and pans. If they have a rim around the bottom of them, they are useless. The whole bottom of the pan needs to come in contact with the hot plate of the wood stove in order to cook well. Cast iron works better for wood stove cooking. Right now, in the beginning of the winter season, the stuff is sold cheaply all over. Get good, solid made in the US quality stuff to last a lifetime. A lot of discount and closeout stores carry cast iron cookware cheaply as well. I got a huge cast iron wok and a nice, large dutch oven one time for only $6 each. Watch garage sales and flea markets as well. You can get them for a dollar or so.
Cast iron cookware has it benefits and drawbacks for off grid living. A huge benefit is that it is non stick if handled properly. Never wash it with soap. After it is treated with vegetable oil, it will be naturally non stick. But you need to wash it under hot running water. That is hard to do in the field. One solution is to just put it back on top of the wood stove with some water in it until it gets very hot. Scrub it with a rag and dump it out. Rinse it with more hot water and you are done. The other problem is that at home I use paper towels to clean my cast iron and toss them when finished. In the field, you will soon run out of paper towels. Rags and hand towels get very greasy, very fast when cleaning cast iron. It is a sticky mess after a few times. You need to keep them clean with lots of soap and water or toss them.
Practice camping without the electricity some time and you may discover that your survival plan needs a few additions and changes. I did.