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An Emergency Bug Out Plan Will Save Your Life When Tough Times Call

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 06:00

Having an emergency bug out plan and a proper bug out bag is a sensible part of preparedness.

Bugging out is a popular topic amongst the prepping community. I think I’ve seen more than enough bug out bag checklists over the years to wallpaper a shopping mall. While you and I can survive many disasters through sheltering in place, the reality is that there are some scenarios which just plain force you to bug out… at least, if you want to survive.

Emergency Bug Out Plan: Staying At Home Isn’t Safe

So, having a bug out bag and a good emergency bug out plan is a sensible part of preparedness. Nevertheless, it’s amazing how many people I run across who call themselves preppers but don’t have a true bug out plan. Oh, they might have a bag and a vague idea about maybe going to hide in the woods, but that’s about it.

These people won’t be a whole lot better off, should a disaster strike that requires bugging out, than those who haven’t prepared at all. I’ve often said that the most important part of any bug out plan is determining where you’ll go, and then working your plan back from there. Yes, a bug out bag is important, but that alone isn’t a bug out plan.

Okay, so what do you do if a disaster happens and you’re not ready to bug out? You can’t stay at home, because that’s not safe. Just look at what happened in Florida in 2017. The Governor called for a statewide evacuation in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Earlier in the same year, the residents of Oroville, California were told to evacuate their homes because the dam looked like it was going to fail. Such events may not be common, but they can happen to anyone at any time.

Emergency Bug Out Plan: Grab And Go

In such a situation, you’ve got to grab and go, thereby heading to a place of safety as fast as you can. But what do you grab and where do you go to? Those are important questions to have answers for.

I’m sure that many of the evacuees from Florida and Oroville had their cars filled with things that you and I would question or even find laughable. After all, this is a survival situation. Taking things to help you survive makes a whole lot more sense than taking your collection of Beanie Babies. However, if you’re not thinking things through clearly, you might just grab those beanies instead of food and survival gear because of their sentimental value.

Basically, you want to take the same sorts of things that you would take with you in a normal bug out bag. That means taking care of the major survival priorities of shelter, heat, clean water, and food. The only real difference here is that you can fill your car or truck rather than just filling a backpack. Of course, if you have a bug out bag, it should be the first thing you put in the trunk.

But what else should you take? Here are a few ideas for your emergency bug out plan:

  • Camping gear
  • Basic tools (knife, axe, shovel, saw)
  • All the non-perishable food you can
  • Compact cooking gear
  • Extra water (in collapsible water containers)
  • A few changes of rugged clothing
  • Coats, hats, & gloves
  • Personal hygiene items
  • First-aid kit
  • Gas cans, preferably full (if you have them)
  • Cash & valuables (to sell)
  • Weapons and ammo for self-defense
  • Documents in electronic form (marriage license, birth certificates, property titles, car titles, medical records, school records, professional certifications)

The faster you can grab these things and get on the road, the better. Nonetheless, you don’t want to get on the road so fast that you don’t have gas in the car. Finding gas on the way will probably be an issue, so take the time to fill your gas tank even if that means waiting in line to get it. You can always have one family member getting the gas while everyone else is packing.

Emergency Bug Out Plan: Now, Where Do You Go?

Since you don’t have a fully formed emergency bug out plan in place yet, I’m going to assume you don’t have a cabin in the woods somewhere that you’ve prepared to be your survival retreat. Therefore, you’re going to have to be flexible, especially if your bug out is part of a mass evacuation like what happened last year in Florida.

The first decision you have to make is what direction you are going to drive in. Obviously, you want to choose a direction that will take you out of the danger zone as quickly as possible. Take a minute to think this through. For example, in the case of a hurricane, heading directly inland makes the most sense even if the highways don’t cooperate. Even if the hurricane does come inland, it will be losing its force with every mile that it goes.

If you are part of a mass evacuation, try and avoid the major highways. Those will probably turn into parking lots. Secondary highways may also have traffic jams on them, but they will probably actually be moving faster than the interstate.

Your next big question is where to stop. For the most part, people will try to stop as close to home as they can. This means that the nearby towns and cities will fill up quickly. As a result, going farther makes a lot of sense. Not only will you have a better chance of finding someplace to stay, but chances are higher that the hotels and motels won’t be price gouging you. Some alternate ideas to consider include:

  • The home of a friend or family member who lives outside the danger zone
  • A campground if you have enough camping gear
  • A rural town that is off the highways
Emergency Bug Out Plan: Places To Avoid

Keep in mind that you’re going to have to be flexible on this, as you don’t already have a place prepared to go to. You might head for a favorite place only to find it already full. If that happens, then you just need to keep going to find someplace that has room for you.

To me, it makes more sense to go to places where others aren’t going to go. While price gouging is illegal in many states, businesses still do it. Law enforcement is generally overworked during these times, so they don’t have time to deal with those breaches of the law. The less crowded an area is, the less of a problem you will have in dealing with the locals.

Personally, I’d avoid going to a FEMA refugee camp. The stories about crime and abuse in the ones they’ve set up in the past make that a very poor choice. Besides, I really don’t like the idea of putting myself in the hands of the government, especially since they’d probably make me leave my guns outside or even confiscate them.

Emergency Bug Out Plan: After The After

Eventually, things should settle down and you’ll be able to go back home. That is, you’ll be able to go back home if you choose to. Some natural disasters are severe enough that there isn’t much of a home to go back to. Many thousands of residents of New Orleans didn’t return after Katrina, choosing to try their luck elsewhere. That’s why it’s crucial to take your important documents with you.

If you are going to go back home, you’ll want to do so as soon as it is safe. Looters come out of the woodwork during any natural disaster. The only real cure for them is to be on site, so you can protect what is yours even if that means you have to camp out on your own property.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: A Mega-Size Survival Kit Will Prepare You For Any Disaster Scenario

Or download our free 55-page report about 77 items you must have that instantly vanish from store shelves in a panic: Gone Before You Get There

Do you have any more tips or suggestions on how to create an ideal emergency bug out plan? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The post An Emergency Bug Out Plan Will Save Your Life When Tough Times Call appeared first on Off The Grid News.

4 Delicious Ways To Use All Those Extra Apples

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 13:30

Extra Apples

The average healthy, mature apple tree can produce a few hundred pounds of apples every year. That’s a whole lot of apples! Whether you have your own orchard or have a different source for apples, when summer is near an end and fall is around the corner, you just might be wondering what you’re going to do with all those extra apples.

First off, if you and your family enjoy eating apples just as they are, then make sure you put some aside. Firm, fresh apples can actually be stored upwards of four months or longer if they are in cool temps (32-40 degrees F) and in moderate-high humidity (85 percent or so).

Here are some other ideas:

1. Make Cider or Apple Juice

A very popular way of dealing with extra apples is to make apple juice or cider. You can freeze or can extra juice or cider. Making apple juice or cider isn’t that difficult, but you will need a cider press. Buying a cider press can be a bit expensive but you could probably find one locally for cheap or, better yet, build your own.

There are tons of tutorials on how to build a DIY cider press. Here is one example.

As an added bonus, you can often press other types of fruits in most cider presses.

2. Can Your Extra Apples

Canning is a great method of dealing with extra fruit. Some specific ideas for extra apples include:

  • Apple Sauce: A classic that kids and adults both love. Applesauce is pretty easy to make and stores very well.
  • Apple Butter: It is similar to apple sauce but far more concentrated, which makes it ideal as an addition to other recipes. Apple butter can be made in a crock pot and then canned as you would applesauce.
  • Apple Pie Filling: Having pie filling on hand makes pie-making even easier. Generally, canned apple pie filling will have more flavor than freshly made filling as well. If you’re feeling lazy, you can eat it right out of the jar or make apple pie filling with slightly less sugar for a dessert on its own, with ice cream.
  • Apple Chutney: Chutney is more of a savory way to preserve apples than the above options. Many people enjoy apple chutney on roast chicken or pork chips. It is a great way to spice up nearly any dish, particularly meats.

Extra Apples

The four options above are just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with apples. Most canning recipes are versatile and allow you to use your favorite spices. Canned apples also make a great gift or barter item.

Canning does take time, and you will need other equipment. An apple peeler and corer will really help speed up the process. For the preserving step you’ll need typical canning supplies like jars, a pot for water baths, jar lifter, canning funnel, etc. Canned apple recipes will generally last a year or longer in your pantry. High-sugar recipes will last and taste fresher for longer.

3. Dehydrate Extra Apples

Dehydrating extra apples to make apple chips or fruit leather is a great idea that many people don’t consider. Apples dehydrate pretty well and you can make leather or chips in an oven if you don’t have a dehydrator. Most any type of apple will work well for leather or chips, but most people prefer sweeter apples.

If you go the route of making fruit leather you can easily mix in other extra fruits you have to add more flavor. Fruit leather is literally just pureed fruit, sugar and lemon juice. After pureeing everything you just put it into a 140 degree F oven and bake for 8-12 hours.

Apple chips are also easy to make. Simply peel, core and slice apples, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over them and bake at 400 degrees F for an hour and a half to two hours.

Fruit leather takes a while to make and isn’t always a good option for homes, since the oven will be off-limits for a day. In that case, a dehydrator works perfectly. It is a versatile machine that you can also use to make jerky, fruit/vegetable chips, dry herbs and so much more. There are many options available in stores and you can also make your own.

(Read our earlier story, How To Build A Simple Solar Food Dehydrator.)

4. Sell, Barter or Trade Them

If you still have extra apples you might want to sell them or trade them, perhaps even for fruits and vegetables you don’t have. The barter system is becoming increasingly more popular in all areas, rural and urban. From a survivalist or simplistic standpoint, bartering and trading is a great way to offload things you don’t need while also gaining something you do need. Being able to help someone while helping yourself is a rewarding experience.

You may also be able to sell extra apples, but check with your local laws first. In some areas you need a permit to sell fruit to the public.

Apples are a favorite fruit of many people and are so versatile to have in the pantry.

What are your favorite ways to preserve all those extra apples? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below: 

Get $600 worth of survival blueprints … free!

The post 4 Delicious Ways To Use All Those Extra Apples appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Student Loan Debt Crisis Threatens America

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 11:47

The student loan debt crisis is worsening because more people than ever are borrowing for college.

The student loan debt crisis is quickly getting out of control and is threatening America’s economy. In fact, student loans are the fastest growing kind of debt in America.

Student loan debt has grown by 157% since 2007, Bloomberg estimates. Particularly, around 44 million Americans owe a combined $1.52 trillion in student loans, Knowledge@Wharton calculates. Furthermore, the average college graduate owes $37,000 in student loans.

Significantly, the amount of student loan debt exceeds America’s credit card and auto loan debt. Additionally, the amount of credit card debt for Americans shrank by 1.2% in the past decade, Bloomberg states.

The Student Loan Debt Crisis Is Worsening

The student loan debt crisis is worsening because more people than ever are borrowing for college.

The problem is that student loan debts are growing faster than salaries, financial planner John Hupalo notes. To explain, students borrow more to pay for college to get jobs that do not pay enough to repay the loans.

In addition, student loan borrowing costs are increasing. Both student loan interest rates and tuition costs are rising. Meanwhile, tuition rates at public and private colleges are at all-time highs.

“That double whammy doesn’t bode well for students paying off loans,” Hupalo notes.

College dropouts and graduates of for-profit colleges are driving up the rates, Hupalo explains. For-profit college graduates have a harder time finding work because many employers will not hire them.

Student Loan Debt Is Not Being Repaid

One in ten student loan debt holders is over 90 days behind on his or her loan payments.

Markedly, the student loan debt delinquency is several times higher than other kinds of debt. To illustrate, only 1.1% of auto loans and 4% of mortgages were over 90 days behind on payments.

Indeed, the delinquency rates for auto loans and mortgages have fallen every year since 2010. Yet, the student loan debt delinquency rate is at a near record high.

The highest student loan delinquency rate was 11.73% in 2011 and 2012, and today’s 10% rate nearly matches that level. Notably, student loan nonpayment today is almost as bad as it was after the 2008 financial crisis.

How Student Loan Debt Threatens The Economy

Student loan debt threatens the entire economy because debt-ridden graduates have less buying power.

For example, graduates paying student loan debt cannot afford mortgages and new cars. Economists think that student debt is preventing younger people from buying homes.

Moreover, around 16% of people aged 25 to 35 are still living at home, Bloomberg reveals. That number is up from 4% in 2007.

To demonstrate, the homeownership rate falls by 1.5% for every $1,000 in student loan debt, Knolwedge@Whartton reports. Therefore, the average college graduate with $37,000 in student loans is 55.5% less likely to buy a home.

“As people live with their parents, or cohabit with a non-partner, millions of houses and apartments aren’t being purchased,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell observes. “Neither is Wi-Fi or that extra sofa.”

“We think this is having a significant impact on the economy,” Powell admitted to Congress. Consequently, Powell thinks “student loan debt is crimping demand for goods and services.”

How Student Loan Debt Threatens The American Dream

In particular, Powell is afraid that student loan debt is holding back economic growth. Researchers have found that people with outstanding student loans are less likely to marry, have children, or go back to school for another degree.

Under these circumstances, student loan debt is clearly threatening the American dream. Student loans are destructive because you cannot write them off in bankruptcy. As a result, borrowers have to pay student loans off.

Student loan debt can also follow you into retirement. For instance, the Government Accountability Office estimates that the government garnished 3% of Social Security payments for student loan repayment in 2014.

In short, the American dream of college leading to a good job and a middle-class lifestyle is becoming a nightmare because of unpaid student loans.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Bitcoins, Beer and the Student Loan Disaster

What do you think about the student loan situation and how it impacts America? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The post Student Loan Debt Crisis Threatens America appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The ‘Quickie’ Survival Bow You Can Carve In A Few Hours

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 09:00

The ‘Quickie’ Survival Bow You Can Carve In A Few Hours

Behind finding fresh water, finding food is one of the biggest concerns in a survival situation. The easiest way to feed yourself for short-term situations is to learn edible plants, but at some point you need meat.

When you start discussing tools for hunting, the bow and arrow inevitably enter the conversation. Learning to make a capable bow, though, is no easy task. Bows made by bowyers today are works of art just as much as they are hunting tools. Learning the entire process takes years of practice and attention to detail. If carefully crafted and cared for, a good bow can last for years and years.

The problem is that properly curing a piece of wood (stave) for a bow takes months or years if done the traditional way. If wood is not properly dried, it will break much sooner and you will have to start over. If you find yourself in a situation where you need a bow and arrow, but don’t have years to dry a stave, you’ll need to make a “quickie” survival bow. Quickies are bows that are completed within a few hours of harvesting the wood. These bows are not designed for long-term use, as they will most certainly break at some point in the near future. However, these bows can absolutely serve for short periods of time until you can properly cure a stave.

For those interested in learning how to make a survival bow, here are the three steps you need to follow.

Image source: Cody Assmann

1. Selecting your wood

Good woods for bow-making are yew, ash, Osage orange, oak, bamboo and mulberry. You may, however, find yourself in a situation where none of these woods are highly prevalent. As I set out to make myself a quickie bow I found myself in that exact predicament. In the Great Plains where I live, trees are scarce, and trying to find a good tree for making a bow can feel like looking for hen’s teeth. With that being the case, I decided to select a much-despised tree of the plains — the Russian olive. Although these invasive trees are everywhere, they have not earned a reputation as a standout bow material. Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.

Learn The Secrets and Tricks Of The Word’s Top Survivalists!

When selecting any piece of wood, a piece that is taller than the shooter, straight-grained, and free of many knots is ideal. Good woods have the ability to withstand forces of tension on the back (facing away from the archer) and compression on the belly (facing the archer). Once again, the ideal piece of wood may not always be available in a survival situation, so do your best to find a piece that most closely fits the bill. I was able to find a Russian olive branch about the thickness of my arm — and fairly straight. It also had no major projecting branches. Since it was so prevalent and the piece looked good, I decided to give it a go.

 

 

2. Roughing it out

Image source: Cody Assmann

Once you have your piece of wood selected, it is time to start roughing out the bow. Use a tomahawk, hatchet or knife to remove large bits of wood and create a rough outline of your bow.  Be careful not to remove too much wood in this process. You can always take more wood off, but you can’t add more once it is gone. On my Russian olive bow I left the back of the bow completely untouched and it worked well enough. Bowyers will tell you this is incorrect, and they are right; this is not the correct way to make a bow you want to last for a long time. However, we are discussing survival bows and are looking to make an efficient hunting tool as quickly as possible. With the rough shape of the bow carved out, you can move onto the next step in the process.

3. Tillering

Image source: Cody Assmann

The next step to make a quickie survival bow is to tiller the bow. Tillering is the process of getting the bow to bend in an even arc when drawn. You can continue to work with your cutting tool, but a file is ideal for the job. If you have a file available, it is worth using. Start by bending the bow and seeing where it is stiff and where it bends easily. In the areas the bow bends stiffly, begin to remove a small bit of material with your file. A good rule is to spend more time scrutinizing your bow than you do working on it. This will help you avoid removing too much material and ending up with a bow that is too light and incapable of doing its job. Continue to remove material and check the arc of the bow until you are pleased with it. Once again, spend as much time tillering as you find acceptable for your situation. When you are pleased with the tiller of the bow, it now can be strung and ready for use.

I was able to construct my quickie survival bow in the matter of a few hours; depending on your situation you can spend more or less time on the process. If your survival situation were to be a long-term affair, you would be wise to begin drying a stave while you make your first quickie bow. You could essentially use quickie bows in the time it took your stave to dry and then construct a long-term hunting bow for yourself. Regular hunting bows are made in much of the same fashion, with attention to detail being a big key. The kind of bow you create all depends on your particular situation. However, should you decide to proceed with a quickie bow you can rest easy knowing your new survival bow can help procure some life-saving meat.  Add this knowledge to your list of bushcraft skills, and you will immediately increase your ability to survive and thrive in most any situation.

What advice would you add on making a survival bow? Share your tips in the section below:   

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

The post The ‘Quickie’ Survival Bow You Can Carve In A Few Hours appeared first on Off The Grid News.

A Vast Postal Surveillance System Is Tracking Your Mail

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 16:07

Ultimately, everything you mail or receive through the mail is being tracked by a vast postal surveillance system.

A vast postal surveillance system is tracking every piece of mail you send. Moreover, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) frequently shares data about mail with law enforcement.

In particular, the USPS photographs the front and back of every envelope, postcard, and package it ships. The USPS also regularly shares images of mail with law enforcement, Fast Company reveals.

In fact, law enforcement needs no warrant to track mail if the Postal Inspection Service does the tracking. Furthermore, a program called the mail cover lets any law enforcement agency get information about your mail from the Postal Service.

Postal Surveillance System Is Over 120 Years Old

To explain, the Postal Inspection Service is the USPS’s law enforcement arm. The Inspection Service has been operating a vast postal surveillance system since the 1800s.

“The mail cover has been in use, in some form, since the 1800s,” Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell informed Congress in November 2014. In detail, the USPS filled 49,000 requests for mail covers in 2013.

Under mail cover, authorities can track mail without a warrant. On the other hand, postal inspectors need a warrant to open your mail.

Opening mail is considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure. Yet, tracking mail is constitutional because information written on the outside is public, Fast Company reports.

Postal Surveillance System Is Tracking All Your Mail

The postal surveillance system can track every piece of mail because of computers. To demonstrate, digital cameras take pictures of all mail.

Advanced analytics check the pictures and look for specific addresses names or patterns. Notably, this would include letters or packages mailed to the White House or the Trump Tower.

Law enforcement checks the mail for explosives and other threats, CBS reports. For example, the postal surveillance system helped the Secret Service spot bombs mailed to Hillary Clinton and other politicians last week.

The Postal Surveillance System Can Find You

Altogether, the postal surveillance system enables law enforcement to find you through your mail.

To illustrate, police and federal agents were checking surveillance video of post offices in Florida to identify the mail bomber. The Postal Service apparently conducts video surveillance at many of its facilities.

The postal surveillance system can easily track mail sent to anybody. For instance, law enforcement also detected a bomb mailed to actor Robert De Niro. The mail bomber allegedly hates De Niro because of his leftwing politics and criticism of President Trump.

Postal Surveillance System Tracks 170 Billion Pieces Of Mail

The postal surveillance system screens over 170 billion pieces of mail a year, the USPIS claims.

However, the USPS conducted merely 19 investigations of suspicious mail in 2017. In detail, suspicious mail includes bombs, biological weapons, and chemical weapons. Authorities arrested only 11 people for sending suspicious mail in 2017.

Biological weapons are the main threat that the USPS is screening for. In 2001, five people died after inhaling the germ warfare toxin anthrax. Someone mailed the anthrax to the U.S. Senate, ABC News, CBS, The National Enquirer, and other targets in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

It is important to realize that nobody knows who mailed the anthrax. The FBI believes former Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible, NPR states. Nevertheless, a National Academy of Sciences investigation could not prove that Ivins sent the anthrax. This reveals that there are certainly limits to what the mail surveillance system can accomplish.

Postal Surveillance System Violates Its Own Rules

Additionally, the postal surveillance system routinely violates its own rules, Fast Company charges.

For example, 13% of mail covers audited in 2014 lacked documentation that justified them. Moreover, officials without authority regularly approve mail covers.

All that law enforcement needs to have for the Postal Service to track your mail is “reasonable grounds.” Nonetheless, the reasonable grounds must be very broad because they rejected just 10 of 6,000 mail cover requests audited by the Postal Service’s Inspector General.

Ultimately, everything you mail or receive through the mail is being tracked by a vast postal surveillance system.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Food Truck Surveillance New Low In Government Overreach

Or download our free 47-page report that discusses the coming of the great American surveillance state: Surveillance Nation

What are your thoughts on the postal surveillance system? Let us know in the comments below.

The post A Vast Postal Surveillance System Is Tracking Your Mail appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Here’s Why You Should NEVER Rake Up Leaves

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 15:30

Rake Up Leaves

In preparation for winter, many homeowners go through the grueling task of raking and bagging leaves. Maybe it isn’t a big deal for those with very small yards in the city, but it can be quite the workout in large yards or around rural homes.

Well, as it turns out, raking your leaves can lead to a more attractive yard but may not be the best idea. Why? Keeping leaves in your yard not only helps the creatures around the tree, but also boosts the health of your lawn, too. Read on to find out how to do it.

Why Leaves Fall

Deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn as a survival method; no leaves means the tree can conserve water and energy to get it through the winter. As most aspects of nature, a tree losing its leaves doesn’t just help the tree but also assists the environment around it.

The many animals and insects around the tree are looking for shelter to get them through the upcoming winter. In a very wonderful way, the critters are able to use these leaves as a home until spring arrives. As with most things, this system works perfectly well in nature. But it’s a different story when humans begin to disturb this process by raking their yards.

The Problem with Raking

Raking leaves and bagging them destroys the homes these many creatures need. All homeowners should do their best to work with nature and support their local ecosystem. Not only is it part of being a steward of the land, but it also improves the lawn. Homesteaders will benefit from healthier beneficial insect and animal populations come spring, which will improve their gardens, woodlots, ponds, etc.

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This no-rake method has been used for decades by various homeowners but lately has made its way into the mainstream, including a recent USA Today article.

Examples of some critters that call leaf litter home in winter include:

  • Box turtles
  • Salamanders and other amphibians
  • Snakes
  • Spiders and other arachnids
  • Snails and slugs
  • Millipedes and centipedes
  • Beetles and other insects
  • Moth and butterfly pupae
  • Worms and other soil aerators
  • Soil-improving microorganisms
  • Important fungus and healthy bacteria

Rake Up Leaves

For example, when caterpillars have a safe place to live you will have a much healthier butterfly population in spring and summer — which will in turn help your garden, fruit trees and general vegetation. Healthy insect populations that rely on leaf litter in winter will also feed birds and predatory insects.

The Best Source For Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds Is Right Here!

While animals benefit from the no-rake method, so does the ground. It will act as a natural fertilizer, improving your soil and also suppressing weeds. Not to mention, skipping raking completely saves a lot of time and reduces costs from bagging.

What to Do Instead of Raking

So if you don’t rake your leaves, what do you do? There are a few options. Some people don’t rake their leaves at all, or just wait until spring arrives before raking them away to a new location. Here are other options:

  • Rake up leaves and move to the outskirts of your lawn or just somewhere else on your property where it doesn’t bother you.
  • Rake up leaves and put them over your garden beds for protection.
  • Rake up leaves and leave them around the base of trees in your woodlot as mulch.
  • Mulch the leaves with your mower. Some homeowners use a mulch mower or a special mulch attachment, but neither are necessary. Most mowers will mulch leaves simply by driving over them.

This year, don’t think of fallen leaves as an annoyance, but rather an amazing way nature protects vulnerable critters in winter – and fertilizes your lawn.

Do you have any “leaf advice”? What do you do? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Learn Dozens Of All-Natural Gardening Secrets. Read More Here.

The post Here’s Why You Should NEVER Rake Up Leaves appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Trump Pressures Mexico To Stop Migrant Caravans

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:43

Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump kept up the pressure on Mexico Wednesday to halt groups of migrants heading to the American border, as the US enters the final stretch of campaigning before key midterm elections.

Trump has sought to put immigration front and center ahead of next week’s hotly-contested vote, ordering thousands of troops to the southern border and threatening to end automatic citizenship for US-born children of immigrants.

“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!” Trump tweeted.

The administration has sent mixed messages over of Mexico’s actions, praising it for trying to help while pushing it to do more.

Trump had previously thanked Mexico for deploying anti-riot forces to the country’s southern border, and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Fox News Wednesday that “Mexico has stepped up in an unprecedented way.”

The groups of migrants Trump has sought to cast as a threat to the United States are still in southern Mexico, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the US border.

Read More…

The post Trump Pressures Mexico To Stop Migrant Caravans appeared first on Off The Grid News.

10 Unique Off-Grid Ways You Can Use A Fresh Pumpkin This Fall

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 15:30

Fresh Pumpkin

Nothing quite says “fall is here!” like seeing the season’s first big bins full of fresh pumpkins at the local store. They’re synonymous with autumn’s holidays — jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, while the pumpkin may be popular in fall, it tends to end up being used for the same decorations and meals over and over. Nothing can beat carving pumpkins with the family or indulging in a freshly baked pumpkin pie, but there is a whole lot more you can do.

Here are 10 unique ways you can use the fresh pumpkin in your home this season.

1. Roast your pumpkin seeds

If you are a fan of sunflower seeds and nuts, you are missing out by tossing your pumpkin seeds in the compost. All you need to do is clean off the seeds, toss them in a bag or bowl with some melted butter, place them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some of your favorite seasoning and bake for 45 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. They are done when golden brown in color.

2. Make your own fresh pumpkin puree

Canned pumpkin puree can sometimes be loaded with sugars, preservatives and other ingredients you may not want to be consuming. Fresh pumpkin puree is easy to make and will blow store-bought puree out of the water in terms of taste.

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I highly recommend a recipe by The Pioneer Woman (click here). She freezes her pumpkin puree for storage but some people choose to can it for preservation. HOWEVER, canning pumpkin products is not recommended by the NCHFP. I know some people who can and use their pumpkin without issue, but please do your own research on the topic.

3. Indulge in pumpkin pancakes

Create a seasonally appropriate breakfast spread by cooking some fresh pumpkin pancakes. This recipe is similar to most pancake recipes so it will be easy to make. Add some pumpkin butter and/or homemade whipped cream to top it off.

4. Create a pumpkin chowder

Pumpkin soup is delicious and easy, but why not beef it up by making a chowder instead? I love chowders because they are so much heartier and filling than a thin soup. These recipes will surely fill your belly and warm you up on those chilly fall evenings.

Don’t forget that you can make extra when you make these chowders so you can freeze them in portion sizes for future meals.

5. Treat your livestock and pets

If you are an animal lover, don’t exclude your furry friends from indulging in nutritious and delicious pumpkin. You can chop up whole fresh pumpkin to give to livestock or give the fleshy guts to them instead of tossing it. Just don’t give them too much as it is rich and could cause an upset stomach.

Fido can also enjoy leftover pumpkin. If your pooch doesn’t have a peanut allergy, this easy three-ingredient recipe is quick to make. Simply mix a half cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 ¾ cups of whole wheat or brown rice flour. Roll it out, cut out your shapes and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes.

6. Use a pumpkin as a serving dish

Fresh Pumpkin

Bread bowls for soup are a wonderful idea, but did you know you can use pumpkin as a serving dish as well? You will need a nice, round pumpkin (small to medium in size) that will of course sit up on its own. Cut the top off like a jack-o-lantern and scoop out the insides. Place the pumpkin and the “lid” flesh side up on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 30-45 minutes. Once done, simply fill it with your soup, Thanksgiving stuffing or any other warm, savory meal.

7. Make fresh pumpkin butter

Almond butter and apple butter can step aside this fall. Make some pumpkin butter instead. This recipe is super easy and tasty. I would substitute the canned puree for the homemade one mentioned earlier as well as reduce the sugar and use brown sugar instead. This butter would be great on toast, pancakes or cake. It would also be a great homemade gift for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

8. Make pumpkin seed brittle

Another sweet pumpkin treat perfect for a Halloween or Thanksgiving party is pumpkin seed brittle. Making brittle isn’t exactly easy like baking a batch of cookies, but if you have some experiencing with caramelizing sugar, it should be a breeze. This Pumpkin Seed Brittle recipe will turn out perfectly sweet and salty.

9. Make pumpkin body products

Fresh pumpkin isn’t just good for the inside of your body but also does wonders on the outside. Ladies, you can use pumpkin as a body care product in the form of face masks, lotions, exfoliants, etc.

Check these out:

These recipes are a nice indulgence, but don’t forget about Christmas! Package them in airtight containers, add some decorations along with a tag with directions on use and you have wonderful handmade gifts or stocking stuffers for the women in your life.

10. Use carving-free pumpkin decorating ideas

Last but not least, you can keep your Halloween decorations around for longer or even use them in some recipes after a few weeks of being out but not carving them. Check out some unique pumpkin designs for Halloween and Thanksgiving that don’t require carving.

What are your favorite ways to use fresh pumpkins? Please share your recipes, decorating ideas and any other tips in the comment section below!

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The post 10 Unique Off-Grid Ways You Can Use A Fresh Pumpkin This Fall appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Child Self-Defense: Keeping Them Safe When You’re Not Around

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 13:30

Children self-defense

Every day we make decisions to protect our children. We decide what they eat, where they go to school, and even influence who their friends are. We see that they get to the doctors when they are sick or injured and we teach them what’s right and wrong.

But have we taught them what to do when we are not there? There are plenty of situations where our children need to make wise decisions and should they ever be followed or attacked by someone, they need to know how to respond. While we do everything we can to protect our children, we haven’t done our job if we haven’t taught them to protect themselves. That is why teaching basic self-defense concepts is important.

Avoidance is the Best Approach

One of the best approaches to dangerous situations is to avoid them altogether. While this may be common sense to us as parents, children don’t have the ability to evaluate risks to the same extent as we do. Therefore, we need to teach them basic principals to evaluating risk as well as what to do once danger is established.

Awaken Your Child’s Love of Learning, History And Adventure!

If your child starts to feel uncomfortable in any given situation, they should feel free to leave and go somewhere where they feel more comfortable. If they are walking on a road, running on the track, getting into an elevator or in any other situation where they are alone and begin to feel uncomfortable, they should leave and go where there are people. This is not about instilling fear in your child, but teaching them to use their common sense and intuition to wisely lower the risk they place themselves in. Situations with an attacker can quickly escalate, so avoiding them altogether is a far better option.

Situations Your Child Should Avoid
  • Well-lit, highly frequented, open areas are often one of the safer places to hang out. If you ride on a bus, sit up front near the bus driver and stay awake.
  • Isolated places, especially at night, should be avoided and only traveled through in a group of people you trust.
  • Communication is very important. Parents and siblings should know your daily schedule. If you plan to go out at another time, inform someone of where you are going, who you’ll be with and when you plan to be back. While this may feel a little restrictive, nothing will get you help faster than your parents if you fail to show up home at the agreed upon time.
  • Attackers are looking for the easiest target and will look for timid, fearful people first. Walk with confidence and respond with authority if you are confronted. Yelling words like “Go away,” “Police,” and “Help” can discourage an attacker quickly. Walking with your dog can also encourage an assailant to look elsewhere. While some dogs are more intimidating than others, even a barking five pound dog can discourage a would-be assailant.
Personal Control Helps Diffuse

When it comes to bullying situations, teaching your child personal emotional and physical control can help de-escalate the situation. A combative person may give up if you calmly agree with what they say. Rather than adding fuel to the fire, maintaining control over your emotions can go a long way toward calming someone else down. After the situation has passed, the child can then approach the  authorities and parents to deal with the bully and ensure that the situation doesn’t occur again.

(Note to parents: If your child complains of a bully, please take them seriously. Many parents and teachers brush complaints off, but children can face a lot of emotional and even physical abuse from bullies. This is not a time to teach your child to “toughen” up, but rather to show them that help is available and they don’t deserve the treatment they are receiving.)

Self-Defense Instruction is Valuable

Unfortunately attackers are often someone the child knows and thought they could trust. And sometimes they don’t back down and cannot be escaped easily. While we all hope our children are never in a situation where they need to use self-defense moves, giving them the training and experience to handle a tense situation can build self-confidence and potentially save a life. You can find self-defense classes through friends, community boards, the local YMCA, or even the hospital. The PE teacher at school can be an excellent resource as well.

Nothing can replace the value of learning self-defense tactics and practicing them. Many attackers anticipate common moves, but a self-defense class can tell you how to catch your attacker off guard. Keeping self-defense moves familiar through taking a class can be excellent preparation for smooth and confident defense reactions if needed.

Prepare your child for a world that isn’t always kind by instilling in them wisdom, self-confidence, and self-defense basics. It just may save their life.

What do you think about teaching children self-defense? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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The post Child Self-Defense: Keeping Them Safe When You’re Not Around appeared first on Off The Grid News.

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