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Home Defense Gun Storage: In 5 Different Rooms-Here’s Why.

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 09:00

When it comes to home defense, gun storage is very important. Know where your weapons are and how to access them.

While I may be a bit over the top with my home defense gun storage, I would rather be way overprepared than underprepared.

I’ve put a lot of thought into where weapons should be placed throughout my house. Each one is in a very specific location, and serves its own distinct purpose. The way that I have placed my weapons was based on a few different threat levels that I assessed. All total, I store weapons in five rooms.

 

Level One Home Defense Gun Storage

The first threat level that I considered was an immediate threat. To me, an immediate threat constitutes someone actively breaking into my house. In this situation, I would like a firearm easily accessible and ready to rock.

The weapon that is best in an immediate threat is a shotgun in the bedroom. I view the most dangerous situation to be someone breaking into my house in the middle of the night. I generally still have my daily carry weapon in my nightstand, so it’s easy to grab on the way out the door.  A shotgun permanently lives on the wall above my nightstand in a custom concealed weapon case. The reason that I decided to go with a shotgun in the bedroom is that I’m a pretty heavy sleeper, and in the event that someone is actively breaking into my house, I like the point-and-shoot ease-of-use of a shotgun.

The next weapons that I considered for use against an immediate threat are handguns. Handguns are kept in the rooms that I am most frequently in.  I have a revolver tucked away in my living room and in my kitchen. Similar to my shotgun, these are all concealed in some type of box or case that is easy to open.

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Level Two Home Defense Gun Storage

To me, a secondary threat constitutes someone lingering suspiciously around my house or poking around my vehicles too much. It’s a situation where I’m not planning on immediately engaging a threat, but I’m getting the feeling that something is wrong and I want to be ready in the event the unpredictable happens. For a secondary threat, I want a handgun with a higher ammunition capacity near the back door and the garage door of my house, so that I can easily grab it and throw it in a sweatshirt pocket or the waist of my pants to see what’s going on. I conceal these in boxes on shelves.

 

Level Three Home Defense Gun Storage

The last threat level that I considered is the unlikely chance that I’m engaged in some type of firefight or a gunfight that moves out of the house. To me, these are the kind of weapons that can be tucked away in a closet or in a safe. It is not necessary for me to have them immediately accessible. In my situation, I have my AR-15 with three loaded magazines in my closet.

 

Safety First

Lastly, I will touch on safety. A headline we see all too frequently involves young children getting a parent’s weapon and accidentally harming or killing someone – perhaps themselves. Since I don’t have any children, I have absolutely no qualms leaving my weapons completely ready to go. Every single weapon in my house has a round in the chamber, with the exception of the AR. However, as soon as I do have kids, things will be different. I’ll still keep the magazines loaded, but I will refrain from keeping a round in the chamber. A habit that I will have to break is simply leaving my daily carry weapon on my nightstand. Weapons should be up high and even locked away where a young child can’t reach.

Like I said, I am probably over the top on home defense. I feel that being overprepared is far superior to being underprepared. My biggest concern when it comes to home defense is being adequately prepared to engage any threat that may face me or my family.

Where do you keep your guns in your home? And if you have children, how do you keep your weapons out of reach? Share your home-defense tips in the section below:  

The post Home Defense Gun Storage: In 5 Different Rooms-Here’s Why. appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Make Your Home Impenetrable Even During Power Outages

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:30

It’s possible to make your home impenetrable with a few simple tactics.

Would you like to make your home impenetrable without using any electricity at all?

If so this may be one of the most important articles you may ever read.

Fortification and security are constantly on the mind of people who prep, who carry a weapon and care for the safety and security of their families.

The world is not a nice place, and that’s been proven over and over. Home invasions are violent and rapid crimes, and expecting the police to save you is wishful thinking at best and downright irresponsible at worst.

In New Jersey a while back, a woman was savagely beaten in front of her 3-year-old daughter in an incident that was caught on a nanny cam. And in Detroit this year, a woman defended her family with a Hi-Point carbine from three home invaders.

And these examples were during the rule of law. Imagine the level of violence during a crisis or disaster scenario, after the rule of law collapses and there’s no electricity. The mere fact one is prepared means a lot. As preppers, we are in many ways painting a target on our back. Even if our OPSEC (operational security) isn’t violated people may begin to wonder why we seem to be doing so well.

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Make Your Own Home Impenetrable By Securing Your Doors

The vast majority of houses are easy to get into because locks only keep honest people out. Ripping or kicking down a door isn’t extremely hard. During my time in the Marines, our 0351 Assault men were capable of breaching nearly anything, with shotguns, sledgehammers and hooligan tools. The size of the doors didn’t matter; guys who were 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds soaking wet could peel doors down with a hooligan tool. A slow breach took less than a minute.

While anything can be breached, sieged, burned down or starved out, what we can do is take precautions to make our homes less desirable targets.

The first and probably most expensive thing one should do is take a firm look at their door. Does it have awesome windows that let in a full spectrum of light? It won’t look nice smashed on your floor with an arm sticking through it, unlocking your door. Big windows on doors are a no-go. The second problem is that anyone can see you coming, and gauge you.

Windows on doors should be left to the very top, something that can be ducked under and avoided, and something that no one can reach through. A nice solid wood door is expensive, but it much harder to break down than a light aluminum door.

 

Make Your Home Impenetrable By Keeping The Bad Guys Far Away

Deterrence at the farthest distance possible is your best bet. Lights are one of the best deterrents available and are very affordable. Lights equipped with motion sensors are even better. It’s a simple fact that people doing bad things prefer to do them in the dark. At the least, a good and bright light in front of your home’s door will raise the eyebrows of most thieves.

Reinforcing windows is also important and doesn’t require bars or steel shutters. Both these have the potential to lock someone in, as much as they have of locking someone out. A company called 3M produces a security film for your windows, making them shatterproof and difficult to break. Imagine covering your window with duct tape, from the bottom to the top, and trying to break it. The tape would hold the glass together, and these security films do the same. They won’t make your windows tough as steel, but they’ll stop someone long enough to receive a load of buckshot.

 

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Now after a disaster or crisis your options for security and necessity for home security increase tenfold. If you live in the burbs your neighbor may give you an odd look when you set up barbwire obstacles. Oh yes, barb wire — God’s gift to pain and security.

 

I Sure Love Barb Wire!

A roll of barb wire is compact and only costs about a hundred bucks. Building a barricade with barb wire is easy. All you need is some wire, some boards, staple nails and a hammer. Nail the boards into an X shape and connect the X with a longboard, about five foot or so. Next run barb wire from the four edges of the X-shaped board. You can add more wire if you choose and either tie off or staple nail it from leg to leg. This forms a barrier that can be high enough that jumping it is difficult and low enough where crawling is impossible. The barriers can be combined with one another to make a fence capable of being adjusted and adapted to different needs.

 

Make Your Home Impenetrable By Building A Simple Alarm System

It’s possible the power is going to be long gone in a disaster situation, so your lights aren’t going to be effective. (Unless, of course, you have a backup generator.) Stoking a fire all night for the little light it provides will be both time-consuming and wasteful. A better bet is to rig an alarm system. Now how hard is an alarm system to build? It’s easy and can be made with a bit of junk and some paracord.

The junk can be tin cans, coins, marbles, soda cans, or ball bearings. Using coins or even BBs in the can creates the potential for quite the racket. Now rigged to some paracord (550 cord) and strategically placed, these can create a racket. Outside of the noise giving a heads up you can also locate your intruder, and prepare to engage the threat. Most will probably panic when the sound of the cans go off.

The best bet is to place these in a mixture of low and high and attach them to thin trees and plants. If these plants are hit they will make the cans go off.

An alternative trap is one sold that is used with twelve gauge blanks. This is a tripwire trap, that when it fires the twelve gauge blank and creates a heck of an alarm. Using live rounds will not be effective, and will destroy the trap, as well as being illegal.

 

Make Your Home Impenetrable By Playing Offence

Of course, the best defense is a good offense. In order to make your home impenetrable you need to be able to engage your target before or during their attempt to penetrate your home will stop you from being placed in danger. This, of course, means firearms. Being trained, ready and armed will do a lot to keep you alive.

In all reality, a combination of both defensive and offensive will keep you ready for anything. Your defensive preparations should be thought of as a delay for a determined attacker. For most, though, they will make you a hard, and therefore an undesirable target.

These are just a few suggestions. One can always board everything up and be fine. Everyone will have their own needs and abilities to fortify their house. Take careful examination and take stock of your situation. My situation is different than yours, and you’re different from your friends, so one guide is not enough for every situation. Stay safe.

Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

The post Make Your Home Impenetrable Even During Power Outages appeared first on Off The Grid News.

How To Cook, Eat And Even Make Acorn Coffee

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 12:30

Acorn Coffee is delicious and not to difficult to make.

I have had the pleasure of having some mighty oak trees in my life. The beautiful trees have provided shade to sit under, branches for my children to swing from, plenty of leaves to rake in the fall and quiet beauty and strength. They also have provided untold amounts of acorns!

As another fall arrives, I soon will hear the sound of acorns hitting my deck and of squirrels scampering around gathering the bounty under my trees. However, as I search to make better use of my resources, I began wondering if I am neglecting a treasure right there in my yard. Is there anything I can do with all those acorns?

After doing a little research, I discovered that Native American tribes used acorns as one of their primary staple foods. In much the same way they used corn, they used ground acorn nutmeat to make a meal, or flour, for baked goods. They even used them to make acorn coffee.

 

Acorns

Acorns are rich in Vitamins B12, B6, folate riboflavin, thiamin and niacin. They also contain iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, copper manganese and zinc, and are good sources of protein and fiber. Naturalist John Muir called the acorn cakes he made the most “strength giving” food he had ever eaten. But before you start munching on your own baskets of acorns, there is some information you need to know.

First, green acorns are unsuitable for eating. You may harvest mature green acorns to ripen in a clean, dry place, however. Also, all raw acorns contain high amounts of tannic acid, which gives them a bitter taste and which can be toxic to humans and many animals if consumed in large quantities. White oak acorns generally contain fewer tannins than red oak acorns.

Tannic acid is water soluble, however, and can be removed by boiling or flushing. Native Americans accomplished this by placing a bag of acorns in a clean, flowing stream for a few days until no brown colored water was visible around the acorns.

 

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Here’s how you can remove the tannins. To begin, use only ripe, brown acorns that look appealing to the eye. Leave any acorns that appear to be blackened or mildewed for the squirrels.

Next, remove the caps and boil the acorns for 10 minutes. Replace the water three more times, repeating the 10-minute boiling process each time. After the four boiling sessions, the water should no longer look brown and the acorns can be easily shelled.

Another way of removing the tannins is the flushing method. Remove the caps and place the acorns inside a cheese cloth bag. Secure the opening, and place the bag under running water for several hours. Drain the water out of the bag frequently and continue rinsing until the water is clear.

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Spread the damp acorns in a thin layer on a baking sheet and in a preheated 200 degree Fahrenheit oven, with the door slightly ajar to let moisture escape. Or if it’s a sunny day, you can place them on a baking sheet in direct sunlight for several hours or until they are dry.

Another method for leaching the acorns is to let them soak in baking soda and water (one tablespoon per quart of water) for 12 to 15 hours before rinsing well.

To make acorn “coffee,” first peel the ripe, blanched acorns. Divide the kernels and place them in a covered ovenproof dish. Roast in your oven on low heat, stirring them frequently. When they have roasted, grind them and use the grounds combined with your regular coffee or on their own. Acorn coffee is both nutritious and delicious. To make acorn flour, follow the same process but sift well to remove any fibers.

Acorns add a nutty, slightly sweet taste to foods. Some Korean noodles and jellies are made of acorn starch, and many Asian grocery markets sell acorn starch in packages.

 

Other ways to use blanched acorns in your cooking include:
  • substituting them in recipes that call for chickpeas, peanuts or macadamia nuts.
  • sprinkling chopped, roasted acorns on a garden salad.
  • making acorn butter instead of peanut or almond butter.
  • adding acorns to stews as you would add beans or potatoes to add more taste and depth.

 

Here is a recipe for acorn bread or muffins. You’ll need:
  • 2 cups acorn flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Bake in pan for 30 minutes or until done at 400 degrees

 

Raw acorns can be stored in a clean, cool and dry place for months without spoiling. They also can be used as feed for certain livestock. You will need to follow the same process of avoiding green, unripe acorns and of removing the tannins from the acorns for the health and safety of your animals, however.

What other ways have you used acorns? Share your tips in the comments section below:

 

The post How To Cook, Eat And Even Make Acorn Coffee appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Benefits Of Chia Seeds: More Than 10 Scientifically Proven Facts About Chia (Dennis Mbuthia)

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:26

Chia Seeds

The benefits of chia seeds are nothing short of stupefying. While the seeds may seem small, they are packed with many benefits for the human body. Further, chia seeds are growing in popularity as more people discover its benefits.

 

What Are Chia Seeds?

Chia is an edible seed that comes from Mexico and Guatemala. The name chia translates to “strength,” which is why chia seeds are a common source of energy. Moreover, chia seeds are consumed whole and this means that they don’t undergo processing.

Chia seeds also blend with foods and beverages very well. Most people add them to their cereal, smoothies, salads, and even drinking water. Chia seeds have a distinct, nutty taste which makes them irresistible. Now that we have a good description to work with, let’s get down to the benefits of chia.

 

Benefits Of Chia Seeds

As earlier mentioned, the seed has so many benefits that will amaze you. Not only is chia good for health but it is also great for beauty and hair.

 

Benefits Of Chia On The Skin 1.    They Make An Amazing Facemask

Chia seeds are a fantastic regimen for your skin, especially your face. Face masks are popular, and people are whipping up all sorts of concoctions to get their skin to glow. You need not struggle because a chia seeds mask will help soothe inflammation and eliminate acne. Regular use of a chia seeds mask will make your skin radiant.

 

2.    Repair The Skin And Delay Aging

If you want a youthful looking skin, chia seeds are your best option. These seeds are loaded with anti-oxidants that speedily repair the skin and keep you looking fresh and young.

 

Benefits Of Chia On Your Hair 1.    They Help Your Hair Grow

Chia seeds are high in protein that your hair needs to grow. If you want long, healthy hair strands, make use of chia seeds by incorporating them into your diet. Additionally, you can make a chia seeds hair mask to coat your hair and feed it protein.

 

2.    Gives Your Hair A Shine

Shiny hair is an indication that your hair is healthy. Chia seeds have all the necessary amino acids to make your hair shine and remain healthy and radiant.

 

3.    Maintain Hair Color Longer

We can’t escape grey hair, at some point in life, grey hairs begin to show up. To maintain your beautiful hair for longer, use chia seeds as they delay graying. Grey hair is often a result of little amounts of iron, zinc, and copper in the body. Chia seeds are jam-packed with these elements.

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Health Benefits Of Chia 1.    Help With Digestion

Besides helping the outer body, chia seeds are also great for the digestive system. These seeds contain a lot of good fiber which is essential for effective digestion. Chia seeds, therefore, help you maintain regular bowel movements and stool quality.

 

2. Great For The Health Of Your Heart

Many heart problems stem from blood pressure and high cholesterol. Chia seeds help regulate these issues as well as soothe inflammation. The high linoleic acid content in chia seeds is helping your body absorb vitamins A, K, E and D.

 

3. Helps Treat Diabetes

Chia seeds contain linoleic acid as earlier mentioned as well as fiber. These two components give chia seeds the power to fight against resistance to insulin and excess fats in the blood. These are the two main stem points of diabetes. Consumption of chia seeds helps reverse and stop diabetes.

 

4. Help Fight Breast And Cervical Cancer

Chia seeds inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the cervix and the breasts. This is due to one of their omega 3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid. Ingesting chia seeds will kill the cancer cells without harming your healthy cells.

 

5. Are Good For Dental Health

Dental issues include bad breathe, weak gums and cavities. Your teeth need minerals to remain healthy, and chia seeds are an excellent source of calcium, zinc and phosphorous. With these elements, you won’t need to worry about the health of your teeth, tartar and bad breath. Vitamin A in chia seeds also helps with the health of your mouth.

 

6. Increased Energy

Chia seeds have more energy boosting nutrients such as rice, wheat, corn and oats. Chia seeds provide a major source of stamina and energy especially for high endurance athletes.

Other health benefits include:

  • Improved Brain function
  • Increased joint comfort
  • Improved mood
  • Tougher immune system
  • Relief of PMS symptoms

 

To Wrap It Up

This very little seed is easy to dismiss and ignore, but it is a source of so many nutrients. The benefits of chia seeds are almost miraculous as the seed works for the health of your whole body. Incorporating chia seeds into your diet brings you all round benefits.

 

 

The post Benefits Of Chia Seeds: More Than 10 Scientifically Proven Facts About Chia (Dennis Mbuthia) appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Important Home Defense Reminders

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 15:00

Being prepared for a home invasion could be the difference between life and death.

As a home owner, home defense is something you have to always be concerned about. As hard times increase, so does the chance of burglary or home invasion. You can’t just assume that you will never become the victim of such an invasion, which is why you must take the proper steps to become prepared for it.

Home defense isn’t just about defending your home from intruders. It’s also about protecting your possessions, yourself, and your family.  This is why knowing even basic home defense techniques is essential.

Here are the top five tips for home defense:

 

Fortify Your Doors and Windows

Your doors and windows are the most obvious points of entry into your home, which is why they need to be fortified first.

The first thing you need to change out on your doors, at least on your doors that lead outside, are the locks and hinges.  Have all of your hinges and locks on your outside doors removed. Replace them with heavy duty variations that are more difficult to break into.

Most doors on Americans homes, are made out of wood or some other easily breakable material. So even if a burglar fails to break your locks or hinges, they could still beat down the door itself first with little more than a sledgehammer or even a rifle stock. All of your doors that lead outside should be constructed out of metal so they cannot be easily broken down.

If an intruder fails to break through your doors, the windows will be their next target. In fact, a burglar may actually go for your windows before the doors.

Your windows should also be replaced with alternatives that are not so easily broken down.  The best material for windows is acrylic glass, which you will find under names such as Plexiglas, Lucite, and Acrylite.  Acrylic glass looks just like normal glass, but is far more difficult to break through.

 

Keep Your Home Defense Gun(s) Within Easy Reach

You have a variety of different tools available at your disposal to home defense, but easily the most effective of those tools is a firearm.

Regardless of which specific firearm you opt to use for home defense two things need to be done . Your firearm needs to be secured, and within easy reach of you.

The best solution here is to purchase a fingerprint identification safe that you keep right next to your bed or nightstand.  This way, your home defense gun is kept out of the hands of children or visitors in your home, but it’s also easily accessible by you.

Some would even recommend that you should carry a pistol on you at all times in your home, because even if you have a shotgun in a closet you may not be able to get to it in time or could be blocked off from the intruder depending on where they entered.

 

Have A Guard Dog

Not only are guard dogs highly intimidating to intruders, they be able to sense danger before you do and will alert you to it.  You could then grab your gun and run to investigate instead of being caught off guard.

The moment an intruder hears your dog barking, they may turn around and run for fear of being caught.  This is why even small dogs don’t make horrible guard dogs; even though they’re not intimidating, they are equally alert as larger breeds.

If you can’t have a guard dog for whatever reason or just don’t want one, at the very least you could set up a “Beware of Dog” sign on your property.  It’s amazing how effective these kinds of signs and posters are at deterring criminals.

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Have A Safe Room

A safe room is any room where you and your family can retreat to in the event of a home invasion. Your safe room needs to fulfill several criteria. It should be hidden and not so obvious.  The door must be locked so no one from the outside can get in easily even if they do find it.  Be sure the room is well stocked with supplies such as food, water, ammunition, and first aid equipment.

In a disaster scenario, your safe room could be where your family retreats to stay clear of the danger where you.  In a simple home invasion, it could be where you send your children while you go to confront the danger.

 

Never Make It Seem Like No One Is Home

This is perhaps the most overlooked home defense tip of all. Experienced burglars are always on the lookout for homes they know are empty.

There are multiple steps you can take to make it seem like someone is home. Don’t announce your vacation plans on social media.  Load up your car for vacation in your garage rather than out in your driveway. Be sure to  keep the lights and TV on even when you’re not around.

The post Important Home Defense Reminders appeared first on Off The Grid News.

How To Dye Fabric, Deter Bugs And Even Make Tea With Food Scraps

Sat, 08/17/2019 - 14:00

You can do so much more with food scraps than just throw them away or use them for compost.

People tend to throw away loads of food scraps in the kitchen, failing to recognize that much of the “garbage” can be easily repurposed.

Keep reading and I’ll show you a few tips and tricks for making your life easier if you’re an off-gridder or homesteader, or simply someone who likes to re-use items.

The most obvious thing one can do with food scraps is to place them in a compost pile, but we can do so much more with them than that.

 

Uses For Food Scraps #1: Egg Shells

Let’s start with my personal favorite food scrap: egg shells.

  • Fertilizer for your plants. In case you did not know, all plant life requires minerals. Furthermore, egg shells contain lots of minerals, and if you grind them and mix the respective powder with the earth, your plants will love you.
  • Deterrent for various pests. This category includes cats or deer messing around in your garden. All you have to do is scatter some crushed eggshells in the areas affected by these pesky “neighbors” and they’ll avoid bothering you in the future.
  • Make DIY food supplements for you and your family. Calcium is a very important mineral for human health and we all need plenty of it, especially children. To increase your daily calcium intake, all you have to do is grind the eggshells into an extra-fine powder. Next, add a teaspoon of the respective stuff to your smoothie or other drink once per day.
  • Improve your chickens’ diet. Some people feed their livestock oyster shells for that, but since you can give your chickens their own egg shells back, why bother?
  • Make a candle. All you have to do is crack the top off really carefully and then fill the empty shell with paraffin or beeswax. After this, you put a wick into the mix and, voila, you just made yourself an eggshell candle!
  • Make seed starter pots. Once again, just crack the top off carefully and put soil and a seed inside the empty egg shell. You’ll end up with your own fully organic seed pot which is already rich in minerals, especially calcium. It’s everything a plant needs to grow strong and healthy! In addition, you can place it directly in the ground.
Uses For Food Scraps #2: Apple Peels

Next on the menu is apple peels, as they also come with lots of good uses for your homestead.

  • Make jelly. Apple peels contain tons of vitamins and minerals, along with pectin, which works wonders in making a tasty and healthy jelly.

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  • Clean your kitchen pots and pans. Apple peels are very acidic, and acids are great for removing stains and discoloration from your kitchen hardware, especially the aluminum stuff. All you have to do is fill the respective vessel with water, add some apple peels into the mix, and bring it to a boiling temperature. Then, turn the heat off and let it sit there for 60 minutes. Drain and rinse properly.
  • Make apple vinegar. Put the apple peels inside a receptacle (like a jar) and cover them with pure water. Place a weight on top of the peels so they stay submerged under water at all times. Cover the respective receptacle and store it somewhere warm for at least 30 days.

  • Filter pollutants in the water. How do they work? Well, it’s pretty basic: Just put apple peels inside a jug of water and they will absorb (by attracting and capturing) ions and various pollutants. Keep in mind that this method is not fail-safe. Apple peels will not purify the water completely and they’re not fool-proof against various biohazards. However, they will definitely remove at least some dangerous pollutants.
Uses For Food Scraps #3: Onion Peels

I know that they may smell bad, but don’t toss onion peels. Just use them! How?

  • Dye your hair, fabric, or Easter eggs with them. For tips on fabric or Easter eggs, watch the videos below.

  • Remove pollutants from water. Just like apple peels, onion peels can help clean water.
  • Make an organic pesticide. Simply cook onion peels along with garlic peels.
  • Soothe stings. Simply press or hold them on the affected portion of the skin.
Uses For Food Scraps #4: Corn Husks

Last but not least, corn husks are excellent for your homestead. For example:

  • Make a water filter. Grind them into a fine dust and mix the dust with clay and coffee grounds. Basically, you must build a corn-husk bowl by adding water to the respective mix and transforming it into something resembling clay. Use that clay for building a bowl, and then let it sit in the sun to dry thoroughly, and that’s about it. The corn-husk bowl will act as a water filter if you fill it with water, put it on top of another vessel, and allow the water to soak through the corn husk bowl into the vessel. Moreover, all the contaminants will be left behind. You can rinse and re-use, ad nauseam.
  • Weave and braid the corn husks into a DIY basket. Watch the video below.

  • Cook with them. For instance, you can wrap delicate foods like fish in a wet corn husk during cooking, thereby preventing them from falling apart/burning.
  • Make corn silk tea. Follow the instructions in the video below.

  • Start a fire. Dried corn husks are highly flammable and great at helping get a fire going.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Getting Rid Of Ants – 11 All-Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Ants In Your Kitchen

Are there other uses for food scraps that you would have included? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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The post How To Dye Fabric, Deter Bugs And Even Make Tea With Food Scraps appeared first on Off The Grid News.

“Cooked Tomatoes” Really Are The Secret Superfoods

Sat, 08/17/2019 - 10:00

Cooked tomatoes are beneficial because the lycopene inside of them is good for bone health, as well as lung and prostate cancer.

You can find tomatoes in the homes of many people. You can eat them raw and add them to your salads and sandwiches. But if you want to get the most out of your tomatoes, cook them first before eating them. Cooked tomatoes really are superfoods, especially if you combine them with healthy fats such as olive oil. Tomatoes truly are superfoods when they are cooked because their lycopene content is increased during the process.

 

Benefits Of Cooked Tomatoes

Organically grown tomatoes contain 55% more vitamin C and 139% more phenolic content than non-organic ones. Tomatoes really are superfoods because they are rich in vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin. They are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin B, copper, potassium, and manganese. Furthermore, tomatoes have cancer-fighting properties like flavanols, rutin, kaempferol and quercetin. They also possess caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and coumaric acid. Lycopene, which is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color, minimizes the risk of cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes really are superfoods because the lycopene inside of them is good for bone health, as well as lung and prostate cancer. If you mix tomatoes with olive oil and take them in the form of tomato paste for 10 weeks, they can reduce sunburn.

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Cooked Tomatoes Vs. Raw Tomatoes

This is one of those rare situations where cooked food is much healthier than raw food. Liu published a study on this in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2002. Liu observed that cooking tomatoes for half an hour at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit increased lycopene by 35%. Notably, the cooking process reduces the vitamin C levels of tomatoes. However, cooking tomatoes increases their antioxidant levels by 62%.

 

Lycopene Food Sources

80% of Americans consume their lycopene in the form of processed tomato products. This includes ketchup, tomato juice and pizza sauce. This is according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  However, this is not the best way to get your lycopene since these products have high sugar content.

You can get your lycopene from:

  • Guavas
  • Watermelon
  • Papaya
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Grapes

Eat these fruits from time to time. Be sure that you keep your sugar intake to less than 25 grams a day. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, keep it below 15 grams.

How To Boost The Effect Of Lycopene

A research study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that lycopene is fat soluble. Therefore, eat it together with healthy fats for better absorption in the body. Tomatoes really are superfoods since the cooking process serves to break their cells down, thus making lycopene more available. You can cook tomatoes with olive oil, coconut oil, or Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil. You can also serve tomatoes together with organic beef.

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Is Tomato Sauce Good For Gut Health?

Researchers in Spain from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) published their findings in the Journal of Functional Foods. They observed that as both raw and cooked, tomatoes are digestive and their antioxidant levels are reduced. Also, the antioxidants in cooked tomatoes had a positive effect on the L. reuteri, which is a bacteria that’s found in the gut. In addition, the antioxidants in cooked tomatoes were able to preserve their integrity during the digestive process. This led to more of them being absorbed into the body.

 

Cooked Tomatoes Slow Down The Growth Of Malignant Prostate Cells

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men all over the world. A study done by the University of Illinois revealed that high levels of tomato intake reduce the risk of prostate cancer. This can lead us to conclude that tomatoes really are superfoods. This research was published in the Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease journal.

 

When Tomatoes Do More Harm Than Good

As much as tomatoes really are superfoods, there are cases where you should avoid them. You must avoid canned foods. The bisphenol-A (BPA) in the cans can leak into the tomatoes due to the high acidity of tomatoes. Make sure that you use fresh tomatoes instead or those packed in glass containers. Raw tomatoes contain lectins which are high in sugar content. They can lead to weight gain, inflammation, and a leaky gut. Instead of eating tomatoes raw, be sure that you cook them first. Also, you may consider removing the seeds in tomatoes to reduce their lectin levels. You should limit your consumption of tomatoes due to some of the negative effects that they have on the body.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: The Remarkable Health Benefits Of Ordinary Tomatoes

What do you think about the “superfood” potential of cooked tomatoes? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The post “Cooked Tomatoes” Really Are The Secret Superfoods appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Choosing The Perfect Firearm For Your Child

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 15:00

Spend time researching the right firearm for your child.

I will always remember my first firearm. I was 12 years old, and the firearm was a Marlin model 98 .22 long rifle. The rifle-fed from a tubular magazine in the butt stock. It had been my Uncle’s, as had the .12 Gauge break action that was handed down to me. Both guns were old, had little sentimental value since my Uncle was alive and were notoriously unreliable (had not been properly taken care of).

My Dad, not wanting his son to have inferior firearms, went to the local gun shop and picked me up a Remington 870 Express .12 gauge. I opened the package the 870 came in that Christmas. Then I pulled back the wrapping paper to reveal those beautiful green letters that spelled “Remington,” and I knew it was going to be a good Christmas! I was taller than most boys my age and I could easily handle the .12 gauge. In fact, I lugged that shotgun all through my beginning hunting years as I pursued turkey and deer in upstate New York. To this day it still accompanies me in the field every year for turkey. I’ll never get rid of that shotgun.

 

The Right Firearm

As a hunter, shooter and firearms instructor I have folks ask me all the time, “What gun should I purchase for my child?” As a father of three, with my oldest just now closing in on the age where they will get their own firearm, I can say there are 50 different answers to this question. My wife and I both hunt and shoot and our children have shown strong interest in both sports.

After teaching young folks how to shoot for years and taking youngsters into the woods on their first hunt on many occasions, I have some very strong opinions. Here are my top picks for a youngster’s first firearm.

Pocket Sized Solar Generator Is Perfect To Take With You In The Field For Backup Power.

 

The .22 Firearm 1. Davey Crickett .22 long rifle built by Keystone Arms.

This is a great rifle for a little one to start shooting at around the age of six. It is smooth, easy to operate and has a solid cross bolt safety. I like the single shot .22 for first-timers because the process of loading a single shot is a great way to instill firearms safety in your child. And your child is going to have to learn to make every shot count. Single shot rifles also are a great way to conserve ammunition in an ever-changing world. One nice little gimmick about these rifles is they come in several different color options, so a boy can go for black or laminate, and a gal can go for pink.

Price Tag: Around $100-$120

 

2. Remington 572.

The iconic Remington pump .22 has been in production for 60 years. Built like a tank and with a silky-smooth action, this is a perfect .22 for the older child/teenager. It costs a pretty penny as .22s go, but this is a rifle your child will have their entire life and will probably be passed down for a few generations to come! This is not the rifle for a first-time shooter, but for an older child or your teen, there is no better choice out there.

Price Tag: Around $550

 

The Shotgun For Your Child

In my opinion, a child needs to be around 10 or 12 before being taught to shoot a shotgun. Sure, there are some children who start younger, but with the much stouter recoil it can be hard on young ones. Both of my choices are pump shotguns, as they allow for follow-up shots and their heavier weight reduces recoil for small shooters.

 

3. Mossberg 510 Youth 20 gauge.

This is a great little shotgun. It has a 3-plus-1 capacity, adjustable shoulder stock that grows with your child and an assortment of chokes. You also can purchase an adult stock to install when junior gets bigger. I have found these shotguns to be very quick pointers and very handy in the woods. My wife has one with an adult butt stock and I have even borrowed it before for squirrel.  

Price Tag: Around $320

 

Make teaching your children firearm safety a priority.

4. Remington 870 Express or Wingmaster in either .12 or .20 gauge.

This shotgun has much more heft, is quite a bit larger and should only be considered for your growing teenager. For young ladies and smaller-statured teenage boys, a .20 gauge is a fine choice. For those strapping farm boys in your family, get the .12 gauge – they will thank you for it later on. The Express my father gave me has been with me for more than 20 years. The firearm is indestructible and has never failed me. If you want a prettier gun with superior fit and finish, get the Wingmaster model. Either option, this is a gun that will stay in the family.

Price Tag: Around $320

 

The Game Rifle Firearm 5. Rossi Single Shot Youth .223 Rifle.

This is my first choice for a young child’s deer rifle. Yes, a .223 can kill up to a deer-sized critter. With this rifle there is no recoil, which is a very attractive thing for a youngster. No, it is not suitable for elk, moose, bear or anything larger than a whitetail. But if you want a first deer rifle, this can work well. It also is great for kids wanting to get into the shooting sports.

Price Tag: Around $250

 

6. Ruger American Rifle.

This is a terrific, cheap and accurate rifle. The trigger is great and the accuracy and relatively-smooth action are also very good. Fitted with a decent optic, you will be very surprised with the rifle’s accuracy. For the older kid or teenager, this is a terrific choice for a first “real game rifle.” For a younger child, I would suggest a chambering in .7mm-08, which is one of the most effective and light kicking cartridges around. For a teenager, I would choose a .270 or .308 for a little heavier punch.

Price Tag: Around $350

 

What would you add to this list? Take away from the list? Share your opinion in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns. Read More Here..

The post Choosing The Perfect Firearm For Your Child appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Elderberry: The ‘Miracle Fruit’ That Kept People Healthy Prior To Vaccines

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 12:30

Elderberry Fruit is very beneficial for your immune system.

The common cold and the flu have been around for a long time. Today, people use preventative measures as well as over-the-counter remedies to stay healthy, but what did our ancestors do before pharmacies and modern medicines were commonplace?

One of the most commonly used flu and cold remedies was elderberries. In fact, it’s still used in medicines today. You can buy elderberry-based cough syrups, which have been proven to reduce the severity of the common cold or flu, in your local pharmacy.

 

How Can Elderberries Help?

Elderberries (Sambucus nigra), which are native to a few parts of Europe and the US, come from a flower bush that produces small, black/purple fruits, similar to mulberries. They taste something like a strong blackberry.

Please note that the leaves of elderberry bushes can be poisonous, so don’t eat them or use them for tea. Elderberries need to be cooked prior to use or they can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea.

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Numerous studies back up claims that the elderberry contains anti-viral compounds, which prevent you from becoming infected in the first place – and shorten the duration and severity of the illness when you do get sick.

 

Grow Your Own

Order an elderberry bush from a reputable nursery and be certain you are getting Sambucus nigra.

One of the great things about elderberry bushes is that they are very easy to grow. They tolerate poor soil and very wet soil. However, one thing that elderberry bushes love is water. If you have hot, dry summers, you will need to give these little beauties water on a weekly basis.

Elderberry

If you want to plant more than one, put them about 3 feet apart, in rows about 12 feet apart. You should plant at least two bushes (for cross-pollination). For best results, do nothing to the plants for the first two years. Do not prune them and do not remove the berries. Just let them be their own wild selves for a short time, and then you can prune them and use the berries as you wish. Prune in the early spring and remove dead branches.

They will just give a few berries their very first year, but by the second year, you will have plenty. Berries ripen somewhere between the middle of August and the middle of September, which gives you just enough time to mix up some elderberry syrup!

 

How to Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup

Of course, people use elderberries for things other than cold medicine. There are recipes for elderberry wine, elderberry “marshmallows” and even elderberry pie. Today, however, we are going to look at a quick and easy way to make elderberry syrup.

There are probably as many recipes for this syrup as there are for meatloaf. This one is very basic and simple, but gets the job done. Tastes pretty good, too!

 

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of dried elderberries or 1.5 cups of fresh berries
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of clove powder
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 16-ounce glass container with lid (Mason jars are a good choice)

 

Instructions:
  • In a medium-sized pot, add all ingredients except for the honey
  • Bring to a boil, and then cover.
  • Reduce heat to simmer
  • Allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to about half
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool until lukewarm
  • Mash the berries a bit, and then strain from pot into a bowl
  • Add honey and mix well
  • Pour into container of your choice

A standard dose is 1 teaspoon for children 12 and under every 3 to 4 hours. Adults can take 1 tablespoon every 3 to 4 hours.

Some people recommend giving children 1 teaspoon each day (and adults 1 tablespoon) during the flu season for preventative measures, but this is a matter of choice, as there are no studies showing this will prevent you from catching a cold or flu. That being said, it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything if you decided to try it!

This syrup is best when stored in the refrigerator and will last for several months. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays, and then seal them in plastic bags for later use. Elderberries also can be frozen if you want to make fresh batches during the winter months.

Have you ever consumed elderberries to boost your health? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

The post Elderberry: The ‘Miracle Fruit’ That Kept People Healthy Prior To Vaccines appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Build Your Own Solar-Powered Backup System

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 16:00

Solar Power When The Grid Goes Down

When most people think of emergency power, they usually think of gasoline, propane or diesel generators.

While generators make a lot of sense in an emergency situation, they do have some tactical downsides. First of all, most generators are relatively loud when they are running, and when coupled with a grid-down situation in which everything around happens to be very silent because the power’s out, you can see how being loud is a disadvantage. Essentially, everyone within a two-mile radius will hear your generator. Perhaps they will come inquiring as to why it is that you’re so well-prepared while they aren’t. Additionally, there is the problem of fueling that generator; you need to have adequate stores of gasoline, diesel or propane, and not only that, you need to have oil and filters to provide the necessary oil changes, which increase in frequency the more you run the generator.

 

Solar Power

Did you know, however, that you can devise a simple solar panel system for use during emergencies? It’s totally possible to set up a few panels in a freestanding system, coupled with a modest battery bank, so that you can generate at least some power during a grid-down situation. Although a handful of solar panels won’t generate the same amount of power as a large generator, they can still be used to power things like laptops, communications devices, and medical equipment so that you aren’t totally hung out to dry when the power goes off. Additionally, an emergency solar power system is totally silent, so no one will even know you have emergency power. Here’s how to build a simple system:

 

Select the size of solar panel you want to use

Since this is an emergency system, we aren’t talking about filling your roof with panels; what we are saying is to put together a system that uses between one and four 400 watt panels. The exact sizing of your system is beyond the scope of this article, because only you know what devices you absolutely need to power during an emergency, but sizing guides are available everywhere on line.

Handheld Solar Generator System Provides Dependable Backup Power

 

Select an inverter

Solar panels put out DC voltage natively. DC voltage is essentially the same sort of voltage that you would get from a battery. What you want is to be able to put out AC voltage, so that you can power the devices in your home during an emergency — things like laptops, power tools or refrigeration. In order to do this, you will need an inverter. Inverters convert the DC voltage that solar panels produce into AC voltage that your home appliances can use. You’ll most definitely want a pure sine wave inverter, especially if you plan to power sensitive electronics such as computers and laptops with your emergency solar system. Pure sine wave inverters most closely replicate the kind of power you have coming out of your wall plug.

 

Select a battery bank

You don’t just want to generate solar power while the sun is still shining – you want to be able to store the solar energy you create for the nighttime, overcast or cloudy days. In order to store the solar energy, you’ll need an appropriately sized battery bank; this is comprised of special batteries that are sized according to how many panels you have. Most people think solar energy is only good in the daytime; they quickly forget that by using batteries, you can store and use that power 24/7.

 

Wire the system for use

Since this is an emergency backup system, we aren’t planning on tying the solar panel’s energy output to your home’s wiring system for simplicity’s sake. What we recommend is to leave this system purely standalone. The way to do that is to purchase some wall plugs, and clearly mark them as solar only. So when you wire your system, you wire the output of the solar panel to its own, dedicated wall plug. This has a number of advantages. You can use the solar plug anytime you wish, even when not in an emergency, and anything you plug in there will be free power.

A system like this makes perfect sense for an emergency, and will even be useful when there is no emergency. Still, this might seem daunting and it does represent considerable work and patience. Did you know you can purchase a self-contained system like this already made, packaged and ready to go? MySolarBackup.com makes a solar power generator that works using all of the components we mentioned. Not only is this system portable, all of the guesswork is taken out of the equation; simply place the solar panel in direct sunlight, and fire away.

In any case, give solar power a look for your emergency power needs.

Portable Solar Power You Can Depend On In Any Crisis

 

The post Build Your Own Solar-Powered Backup System appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Summer Squash: The Gardening Staple You Can Grow In 40 Days

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 15:00

Summer Squash

For a lot of people, the thought of summer squash brings to mind just a few varieties. The entire list probably consists of little yellow crooknecks and zucchini, with no more than one or two choices of each.

There is a bonanza of summer squash taste available to home gardeners. If you like squash even a tiny bit, you will want to grow your own. Fresh summer squash in your backyard provides daily fresh young produce throughout the season, the ability to eliminate food miles, and the opportunity to try dozens of unique varieties that are not available at stores or even farmer’s markets.

 

Summer Squash or Winter Squash?

It may be useful to begin by defining “summer squash” as opposed to winter squash. Summer squash, as suggested by the name, are those varieties which can be harvested during the summer. The first fruits of summer squash can be ready for harvest in as few as 40 days after planting and continue to yield for the duration of the season as long as they are picked regularly. Winter squash is not harvested until fall.

Summer squash is best eaten fresh and does not store well.  Winter squash should be stored in a root cellar.

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The other main difference between summer and winter squash is the skin texture. The skin of summer squash is tender and thin and is usually eaten. Winter squash is generally peeled off and discarded because it is tough and unpalatable.

Summer squash comes in all shapes and sizes, and falls into three major categories: yellow, zucchini, and pattypan.

Some people think of “summer squash” to mean specifically yellow crooknecks, the light banana-colored ones shaped like a lightbulb with an elongated curved end. Most of them are the classic crookneck shape, but some have straighter necks than others and a few are more lemon-shaped with little or no neck at all. They are mild and sweet, best eaten very small — six inches or less in length — as they can quickly become thick-skinned and less appealing. Yellow squash skin can be either smooth or bumpy.

 

Zucchini Squash: The Type That Make People Run

There is vast variety among zucchini squashes, ranging from the classic green cucumber-sized fruit available year-round in the supermarket to the baseball-bat-sized produce that home gardeners are all too eager to give away during peak season, to the “Holy-cow-what-is-that-thing?!?” varieties.

Zucchinis can end up the brunt of jokes, largely due to their potentially highly prolific habits. People in my region quip that the only time of year they lock their cars is during zucchini season, lest a desperate coworker or passerby seize the opportunity to divest themselves of excess squash. Cookbook author Andrea Chesman advises in her book “Serving Up the Harvest” that “two summer squash plants will provide sufficient squash for…[a] family,” and she warns that “more plants is an embarrassment.” However, zucchinis being my personal favorite, I never heed her advice. I usually plant at least five zucchini cultivars, and only sometimes regret it.

In addition to the Kelly green varieties found in supermarket produce sections and unlocked cars, zucchinis range from light green to almost black, and also can be golden. They are sometimes all one color with smooth skin, but often sport lengthwise contrasting stripes or raised ridges. Their shapes run the gamut, from lightbulb to cucumber-like and are also sometimes round.

 

More Rare Types of Squash

The “tromboncino” or “rampicante” squash is a unique type of squash. It is usually found in seed catalogs with zucchinis. Unlike other zucchinis which come from the Mediterranean region, the tromboncino originates from Central America and is related to butternut winter squashes. The tromboncino takes well to climbing instead of spreading out like most zucchinis, and needs a stout cage to contain it. The fruits are long and thin, as much as two feet long, while still as slender as a large carrot except for the bulb on the blossom end, and often coil up into a curlicue shape. Immature fruit are eaten and prepared as other summer squash.  Tromboncinos can be left on the vine to mature and then eaten as winter squash.

Summer Squash

The third category of summer squash is the pattypan type. Also known as “scallopini,” these cute little squashes look like tiny flying saucers, or little pastry tarts, with rounded centers. Harvest Pattypans when they are smaller than teacups. Like other summer squashes, pattypans have distinctive mild nutty flavors and their share of devoted followers. Pick them often during peak season. This will keep them from getting out of control and to encourage regrowth.

 

Squash Can Be Finicky

A fourth category of squash is the “Lebanese” type, also known as “Mid-East” or “cousa” squashes.  They strike me as something between zucchinis and yellow squash — a little milder than zucchinis and a little less watery than zucchini.

Summer squash is easy to grow at home, as long as you have plenty of these two things:  sunshine and space.

Squash is finicky about soil temperature. Squash likes very warm soil. Plant them only after the danger of frost has passed. Planting it too early will result in sluggish — if any — germination.  Seed packet directions are pretty simple, generally advising to direct-seed 3-5 per hill and thin to 2-3 seedlings per hill. They do best in rich, well-fed soil. Once sprouted, squash will flourish best with a lot of warm sunshine and plenty of water.

Plant summer squash in hills or rows. A few squash varieties work well on trellises. But wherever they are, they will need plenty of space. A tiny seedling, given the right growing conditions, will seem to explode quickly into an enormous plant, often as much as five or six feet across.

 

Squash Have Pests, Too

As easy as it is to grow, summer squash is not immune to pests. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, aphids, squash vine borers, and cutworms are insects that can attack summer squash plants.  Good ways to control bugs include row cover and organic or conventional pesticides. It is always easier to prevent pest problems than to treat them, but plenty of expert guidance is available to help curtail infestations when they arise. Cooperative extension professionals and volunteers can provide a wealth of information and assistance with identifying and treating plant problems.

Diseases such as blossom end rot, powdery mildew, mosaic virus and verticillium wilt can affect summer squash plants, as well. Combating these conditions can sometimes be a little more challenging than dealing with insects, but perseverance is key. Remedies often can be as simple as adjusting watering habits, but also can include copper fungicide application or soil amendments. Sometimes by the time a problem is visible, it can be too late for that particular plant, but luckily squash grows quickly and it may not be too late for replanting in a different area after destroying the affected plant. For many diseases, it is helpful to look for resistant cultivars. Purchasing seeds said to be powdery mildew-resistant is a smart choice. As with any gardening issue, it is wise to seek advice from local and regional organizations and programs.

Growing summer squash is a joy and will provide households — if not entire neighborhoods and workplaces — with a bounty of fresh delicious produce.

What are your favorite types of squash? What are your best tips for growing squash? Share them in the section below:

The post Summer Squash: The Gardening Staple You Can Grow In 40 Days appeared first on Off The Grid News.

10 Ways My Wife And I Save Money On Our Grocery Bill

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 16:00

A trip to the grocery store can be pricey outing. However, there are many simple ways to save money on your grocery bill.

My wife and I own two homes and live two lifestyles. One homesteading and one suburban. Here’s how we borrowed the best from homesteading to save money, especially on our grocery bills.

 

The Homesteading Life

We have a cabin in Michigan. It’s on 80 wooded acres in the Manistee National Forest on a trout stream. We heat the house with wood, hunt and fish, garden aggressively, have 50 fruit trees planted on the property, wild forage and practice a range of food preservation techniques. Our grocery food purchases are next to nothing, with the occasional purchase of coffee, flour, sugar, salt, some meats, milk and butter. I guess you could say we shop like Alaska sourdoughs putting together a grubstake.

 

The Suburban Life

We also have a home in the suburbs in Northern Illinois about 30 miles west of Chicago. I was an advertising consultant and my wife a nurse and soccer mom. For some reason we were walking away from the homesteading discipline when we returned to our suburban home — and the grocery bills soared. It was some time ago that I decided to do something about that and apply some of the disciplines of homesteading to our suburban retreat. It took some time, but the lessons and practices we learned while in Michigan made the process much faster. Here’s what we did:

 

1. Fruit trees.

When it came time to plant trees in the yard, we skipped the ornamental trees and instead planted fruit trees, including apple varieties, pear trees, peach trees, a mulberry tree and some wild plum trees. It took a while, but once they started to bear fruit we actively ate the fruit and practiced various fruit preservation practices.

 

2. Vegetable gardening.

We aggressively turned the soil in our backyard to make a very large garden. Instead of spending all of our time, energy and money on traditional flowers in our flower beds, we planted certain vegetables. To improve the appearance of those flower beds, we planted edible, ornamental peppers, blueberries, wild strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. My wife still planted some flowers like daffodils and tulips, but there were just as many if not more ornamental vegetables.

 

3. Herb gardening.

The cost of herbs at the grocery store is ridiculous. I’ve seen prices as high as $5 for a tiny jar. We haven’t bought herbs at the grocery store for years and once again, we not only planted a dedicated herb garden with perennial herbs, but planted annual herbs in the flower beds. We particularly like the flowering herbs in the flower beds like oregano, chives, garlic and chamomile interspersed with parsley and thyme as a ground cover. Be careful with the chamomile, though. It spreads like wildfire from reseeding.

The dedicated perennial herb garden contains lemon balm, tarragon, rosemary, lovage, more chives, garlic, lemon balm and marjoram. There are more herbs we could plant, but those are the herbs we like and use.

 

4. Wild foraging.

We live next to a large forest preserve and wooded areas and fields abound around our suburban home. My grandfather introduced me to wild foraging when I was 7, and I’ve continued to learn and forage ever since.

Our foraging includes picking black raspberries, blackberries, wild plum, dandelion leaves and crowns, fiddlehead ferns (they taste like asparagus), morel and giant puffball mushrooms, various parts of cattails, milkweed pods for stuffing, goldenrod flower tops and blackberry leaves for two of the best teas I’ve ever tasted, acorns, black walnuts and chestnuts, red sumac berries for seasoning, purslane, clover for teas and salads, and the list goes on. If you take the time to do some research and actively observe and experiment, you’ll find wild plants that can supplement every meal.

 

5. Chickens.

I was surprised to learn that a chicken coop was permitted in the suburbs of Chicago. We do about a dozen chickens a year and haven’t bought eggs for quite some time. We do the same at our cabin, but it was nice to know we could do it in the suburbs, as well. It’s a little alarming to my neighbors when I pull a chicken and pluck and dress it in the backyard, but after bringing them a fresh, free-range chicken a couple of times, they calmed down.

 

6. Hunting and fishing.

It’s a really bad idea to walk around the suburbs of Chicago with a rifle in your hands, but no one has a problem with a guy and a fishing pole. I avoid the rivers. They’re notoriously polluted, but many of the lakes are clear and clean. I usually catch bass, catfish and panfish, and we’ve managed at least two meals a week from my fishing forays which I really enjoy.

 

7. Bake and cook it yourself.

I’m a certified chef, and I bake three loaves of bread a week in addition to cookies, pizza dough and pasta, cakes and breadsticks, hamburger buns and hot dog buns. My wife makes pies from scratch and is a master candy maker. I’ve made ice cream from milk and, of course, apple cider and apple cider vinegar from our apple trees.

 

8. Can it!

We’re both experts at preserving foods through the canning process, and every fruit and vegetable in our yard gets canned and then properly stored for later use. I’ll also bring the leftover canned goods from Michigan when we head back to civilization. We’re also very proactive when it comes to making jellies and jams from the various fruits in our yard and the surrounding forests and fields.

Learn The Secrets Of Preserving And Storing Your Food

 

9. Preserve it.

 We dehydrate a lot of fruits and vegetables, and it couldn’t be easier. Just wash and slice, put into the dehydrator and go do something else for a few hours. We also dehydrate herbs at the end of the season for use all-year-round. We don’t preserve too much fish and game because I never seem to catch that many fish, and then there’s that rifle thing in the Chicago area. However, I have smoked some of our chickens.

 

10. Waste not.

I taught a cooking class once called “the leftover gourmet.” The unfortunate fact is that Americans throw away 40 percent of their food. I’m very proactive about using leftovers the next day, and it’s not about microwaving. I treat any leftover as a new ingredient that can be modified, changed and improved with the addition of other ingredients. I also keep a close eye on fresh produce, but having the garden makes it easy to always find something same-day fresh.

My family has actually found this approach to our suburban life to be interesting and fun. My older kids like it because they can see the healthful and organic benefits of growing, raising and making your own rather some of the grocery store offerings. For me, that’s all good, but what I like the best is I save money on our grocery bill!

What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

The post 10 Ways My Wife And I Save Money On Our Grocery Bill appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Which Solar Energy System Is Best For You – Grid-Tied Or Off-Grid?

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 14:00

Grid-tied Solar Energy

Solar energy systems are not all created alike. Just because homes have a set of solar panels on the roof, it doesn’t mean that they all are operating similar systems by any stretch of the imagination.

Primarily, there are two types of solar installations on residential homes – grid-tied solar, and off-grid solar, and we’ll look at both types in this article.

First of all, however, it’s important to note that regardless of how your solar-powered system is configured, solar power is still a fantastic choice for alternative energy needs. For as long as the planet has existed, reliably and without fail, that hot yellow ball of gas has risen every morning on the horizon packing enough energy to meet our power needs consistently. The sun is a remarkable, free, silent and clean form of energy. It’s just within the last 20 or so years that solar panels, inverters, and batteries have evolved to be efficient enough to power homes entirely by the sun.

While the solar panels themselves work identically in a grid-tied and off-grid system, the method of both storing the solar power and integrating that power into the home’s electrical system have some marked differences between the two, so much so that their paths diverge substantially. It’s not so much the panels themselves that we’ll be looking at; rather, it is what happens when the electricity leaves those panels and heads for your home that we’re examining.

 

GRID-TIE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS

If you take a drive down your average suburban street and spot a home with solar panels on the roof, you can almost be certain the system is a grid-tied system. Grid-tied is by far the most common solar-powered system in use today. As the name implies, the system is tied to the grid – what grid, you ask? The electrical power generation and distribution grid. This means that the home is connected to the power grid. Which isn’t earth-shattering until you understand the implications thereof. Here’s how it works:

  • Regardless of solar panels, the home is connected to the power grid. What most people don’t realize is that this connection is a two way street. Power doesn’t just flow from the grid into the home; it can also flow from the home back into the grid.
  • When the sun is shining, solar panels on a grid tie-in system generate electricity. The system routes this electricity to the home’s primary electrical distribution panel. The system funnels excess electricity back into the grid.
  • If the home frequently produces more power via solar panels than it uses, the homeowner will realize a credit on his or her power bill representing a payment from the power company for the electricity that the home produced.
Harness the power of the sun when the power goes out…

Grid ties have one fatal flaw however; one Achilles heel that most people don’t know about: Your grid-tied solar panel system will not be able to power your home during a power failure. This is because the power company will put a lockout box on the output of the solar panels such that if the power is off, the box will disconnect the solar panels from the home’s electrical panel to prevent a back-feed situation. As we discussed earlier, electricity flows both ways, and the power company is concerned that the output of your home’s solar panel system could inadvertently shock a power worker halfway down the block who is working on the power lines and assumes they are inactive.

 

OFF-GRID SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS

Off-grid systems take solar panel technology to a new level. Essentially, they use the same solar panels as grid-tied systems, except they actually store the power they make, usually in batteries. This is an important distinction; the off-grid solar power user isn’t interested in generating power for some faraway utility; he or she is interested in keeping the power that is produced. Appropriately sized battery banks retain power by storing the output of the solar panels. This provides another benefit people don’t realize: You can use the solar power you generated during the day – at night. The solar-powered system funnels electricity into a purpose built battery bank. The system draws from the battery at night or on overcast days. The off-grid system will be able to bank its output, whereas the grid-tied system will be running at a reduced capacity, or perhaps not at all.

 

PROS AND CONS

To sum it up, both systems have some pluses and minuses:

 

Grid Tie Solar Energy:

Pro:

  • Initially less expensive to install on a home.
  • Hundreds of thousands of examples of this system in use.
  • Could result in a credit on your power bill.

Con:

  • If there is a power failure, you have no electricity.
  • Doesn’t generate solar power at night or on overcast days, so you’re back to using the grid.
Off Grid Solar Energy:

Pro:

  • Stores solar energy in batteries for use at night and on overcast days.
  • Independent power system not subject to the whims of the power utility.
  • Works even if the power grid is down.

Con:

  • Initial cost of the system is higher due to batteries and associated gear.
  • Is not very common in a suburban setting – more common in remote homes.

Be sure to look into both systems, as each one has its own merits.

 

The post Which Solar Energy System Is Best For You – Grid-Tied Or Off-Grid? appeared first on Off The Grid News.

5 All-Natural Ways To Lower Blood Pressure And Avoid Medication

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 16:41

By making positive lifestyle changes, you can achieve lower blood pressure with no need for pharmaceutical intervention.

Millions of Americans are plagued with what is often called the “silent killer” — high blood pressure. Often, elevated blood pressure goes entirely unnoticed and undiagnosed until it is too late.

Hypertension occurs when the force of blood against artery walls rises. During this process, the heart kicks into overdrive trying to pump blood throughout the body. Some people inevitably suffer from a genetic predisposition to elevated blood pressure. Nevertheless, others experience this condition due to lifestyle choices such as smoking, stress, excess drinking, dehydration, or a lack of exercise.

Complications that arise from having elevated blood pressure include insomnia, vision loss, dementia, kidney problems, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries can occur as a result of a high blood pressure condition. In the worst cases, this can lead to heart attack or stroke. According to experts, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack or stroke by anywhere from two to four times.

 

Understanding The Numbers

A blood pressure reading consists of two measurements – systolic and diastolic. Systolic is the first number and diastolic is the second one. Systolic shows the pressure of the blood vessels as the heart is contracting while diastolic shows the pressure with the heart at rest.

  • Normal blood pressure range: 90-119 (systolic), 60-79 (diastolic)
  • Pre-hypertension: 120-139 (systolic), 80-89 (diastolic)
  • Hypertension: 140-plus (systolic), 90-plus (diastolic)
An Honest Look At Drugs

Although the conventional way to treat high blood pressure is to use drugs, this in itself can be quite dangerous. First of all, taking drugs to control blood pressure does not address the underlying problem that caused the increase in the first place. Instead, it merely masks the problem. This means that you can carry on with dangerous lifestyle choices that can impact your health in other ways.

The Hidden Secrets Of Making Herbal Medicines…Right At Your Fingertips!

In addition, drugs such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics all carry with them side effects such as the following:

  • Increased risk of kidney damage
  • Risk of digestive problems
  • Vision loss
  • Elevated triglycerides and bad cholesterol
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Loss of essential minerals such as potassium
Making Positive Lifestyle Changes

For many, making positive lifestyle changes results in a dramatic reduction in blood pressure with no need for pharmaceutical intervention. Some people take medication initially but are able, in time, to reduce their dependence. They can achieve this by taking steps to control the underlying cause of the blood pressure increase in the first place.

 

Here are five steps to prevent and control high blood pressure naturally:

Step #1 For Lower Blood Pressure: Limit Alcohol Consumption

For reasons that are not yet clearly understood, excess alcohol consumption (above 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men) can cause elevated blood pressure. Ironically, consuming the recommended one or two drinks a day may actually help decrease the risk of heart disease. But if you are a consistently heavy drinker, slowing down on consumption may result in a reduction that leads to the normalization of blood pressure. Furthermore, taking this action will substantially decrease your risk of having a serious condition.

 

Step #2 For Lower Blood Pressure: Exercise Consistently

Americans are more sedentary than we have ever been before. We are a nation that spends an astronomical amount of time behind a desk, in a car, or on the couch. We are experiencing an obesity epidemic like never before, and it is undoubtedly contributing to a rise in blood pressure. This alarming lifestyle trend also influences a number of other serious conditions such as the increased risk of diabetes and cancer.

Consistent exercise — even walking briskly every day — can help to lower blood pressure and manage it successfully.

Although exercise temporarily raises blood pressure, it also trains blood vessels to expand and contract easier over time, thus normalizing blood pressure. Consistent exercise — even walking briskly every day — can help to lower and manage blood pressure. In fact, many people find that if they just adopt this one healthy habit then they can forgo the need for drug intervention. Adding a moderate amount of strength training has been found to increase the exercise benefit as it pertains to blood pressure.

If you have not been active for a long time, consider seeking the consultation of a trained health professional and start slow until your body has time to adjust.

 

Step #3 For Lower Blood Pressure: Relax Daily

Many people live in a constant “fight or flight” condition where stress hormones rule the body and blood pressure rises. Pushing the body into a state of constant alertness takes its toll over time and can seriously impair proper body function and raise blood pressure. If you are often angry or feel yourself being tense more often than relaxed, it would be beneficial to learn ways to control the stress in your life.

Not All Beet Juice Is The Same

Slow down and take note of how you live your life. How often do you relax, do something fun, let go, and unwind? Give yourself even a few minutes each day to breathe deeply, get outside in nature, take a walk, and just sit still. It can do wonders for your blood pressure.

 

Step #4 For Lower Blood Pressure: Stop Smoking

Millions of Americans have missed the memo on smoking and still continue to regularly participate in this destructive habit. Smoking, among other things, causes blood vessels leading to the arms and legs to constrict and can also cause hardening of the arteries. All of this can cause hypertension. The good news is that when you quit smoking, blood pressure often normalizes and overall health improves significantly.

If you need help to quit, reach out and find support from friends, family, and the professional medical community. They can all assist you in your efforts. Quitting smoking is one of the single best things you can do for your health today.

Step #5 For Lower Blood Pressure: Eat Clean

The lack of vital nutrients in processed and fast foods, as well as the addition of refined salt, makes them a significant contributor to poor health. In addition, they can also contribute to hypertension. In order to function optimally, the body requires energy in a form it can use. Make sure that you avoid boxed, canned, and fast food.

Contrary to what we have been told for a very long time, the healthy saturated fat found in grass-fed meat, butter, and coconut oil does not cause heart disease and hypertension.

(You can read our previous story, “The Truth About Saturated Fats The Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You,” here)

Eggs do not disrupt cholesterol balance, nor do they contribute to heart disease. In fact, consuming free-range organic eggs on a regular basis can increase the size of LDL particles. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of heart disease.

A colorful diet loaded with fresh, organic fruits, herbs, vegetables, and healthy fat has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension due to protective compounds found within the whole foods themselves.

Stay clear of processed foods and take a bagged lunch to work instead. All in all, avoid the temptation to buy into the fast food mentality that is such a huge contributor to poor health.

Note: You should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, especially if you have any risk factors. A home blood pressure kit is an inexpensive and wise way to stay on top of your health.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 7 Delicious Off-Grid Foods That Fight High Blood Pressure

What other all-natural ways do you use to lower blood pressure? Leave your reply in the comments section below.

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The post 5 All-Natural Ways To Lower Blood Pressure And Avoid Medication appeared first on Off The Grid News.

14 Self Reliance Skills Every Person Should Have

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 15:00

Self reliance skills are a must have when living off the grid

Self-reliance is somewhat of a three-legged table. People may talk about each of the three legs separately, but they all rely on one another.

What are these three legs I’m talking about?

  • Stockpiled supplies
  • Equipment
  • Knowledge

While stockpiling supplies and securing equipment doesn’t take much thought, knowing how to use them to survive and be self-sufficient does. Below I’ve combined skills that are needed for wilderness survival with skills that are needed for homesteading and urban survival. That’s because to be truly self-reliant, one has to be able to take care of their needs in any circumstances.

 

1. Gardening

A vegetable garden goes a long way toward making one self-reliant. You can pretty much feed yourself off of it if you are a successful gardener. That’s harder than it might seem, as plants don’t always cooperate. Learning how to maximize the harvest from your “farm” is a skill that few have. But once you learn it, you’ll have plenty to eat.

 

2. Animal Husbandry

Domesticating animals saved man from having to go hunting for meat all the time. While hunting is an enjoyable activity, it’s actually very inefficient. You’re better off raising your own animals for meat, as you’ll get more meat for the time invested.

 

3. How to Tan a Hide

If cloth is no longer available, the only way you’re going to have clothes to wear and moccasins for your feet is to know how to tan a hide.

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This has become an almost lost art in modern times, where we can buy clothes, fabric and even tanned leather.

 

4. Sewing Clothes

Being able to mend your own clothes is a great way to be self reliant.

Maybe sewing seems a bit simplistic to you as far as a skill, but you’d be amazed at how few people know how to sew anymore. I’m not talking about sewing on a button or repairing a torn seam, but how to make your own clothing. It’s much more complicated than you think, especially if you don’t have a pattern from which to work.

 

5. First-Aid and Natural Medicines

Basic first-aid can save lives, perhaps even your own. Throughout history it has been the infection that develops in a wound — not the wound itself – that has been a big killer. Proper wound treatment stops infections, greatly increasing the person’s chances for survival. Likewise, knowing which herbs and essential oils to use for which ailments can save your health and life in a crisis.

 

6. Basic Emergency Home Repairs

Your home is your basic shelter. But what do you do if something happens to your home? Most of us call on the appropriate tradesman to come and take care of our problem, paying them for their time and skill. While there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not self-reliant. Besides, what are you going to do if that tradesman isn’t available? Better to know how to do basic carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, so that you can make the repairs on your own.

Solar Generator Provides Dependable Backup Power In Any Crisis

 

7. Various Ways to Build a Shelter

Shelter is the most critical survival need there is. While your home is a shelter, it doesn’t help you much if you are forced to leave. Nor is it going to be much help if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and you have to work your way back to civilization. Simple shelters can be made in a number of ways. And while they may not be pretty, they will protect you from the elements, keeping you warm and dry.

 

8. Where to Find Water – And how to Purify it

The average person can only survive for three days without water. So, no matter how much water you’re stockpiling, you’re going to need more. That’s why it’s important to know where to find it, both in the city and out in the wild. There are many ways of purifying water in a survival situation and the more of them you know, the better. That way, you can always make sure you have water that is safe to drink.

 

9. Various Ways to Start a Fire

Fire has been called man’s greatest discovery. Fire will keep you warm, cook your food and even purify your water. Knowing how to start a fire, especially in difficult situations, is an essential skill that everyone should know.

 

10. Hunting and Trapping

Our ancestors put meat on the table by going out into the wild and hunting it, not by checking the meat cases in the local grocery store. One who truly knows how to hunt and can make some primitive weapons with which to hunt is pretty much always able to find something to eat. Of course, hunting is great when there’s big game around to go after, but even in areas where big game is scarce, small game can often be found. However, hunting them is very difficult. Better to trap them. That means knowing how to build a snare. You also need to know where to place that snare, so that you can be sure of it catching something.

 

11. How to Clean and Skin an Animal

Fishing, hunting and providing food is vital part of self reliance.

Hunting and trapping are only useful if you know what to do with the animals you catch. You have to know how to clean the animal, skin it and even butcher it. These skills are often lost to us in modern times, unless you are a hunter. But even then, I’ve run across some hunters who don’t know how to skin their catches.

 

12. Fishing

Fish are another excellent source of protein, one that some say is even healthier to eat than meat. But you’ve got to know how to trick those fish into jumping into your frying pan. It’s not enough to count on the hit and miss tactics of most recreational fishermen. You need methods that are guaranteed to work so that you can make sure that you have something to eat.

 

13. Edible Plant Recognition

While some of us would love to live off of just meat, we really can’t do that and maintain our health. Plants provide needed carbohydrates and vitamins to our diet. But finding the right plants can be risky; some are poisonous. That’s why it’s important to know how to recognize the edible plants for the area in which you live. This varies across the country, as does the foliage that is available.

 

14. How to Survive Loneliness

I know, how can I call that a necessary skill? It’s simple. We, as people, are highly social creatures. Much of the social contact we need comes through the interactions we have with the people we depend on to meet our other needs. But if you are going to be self-reliant, you’re not going to have as much contact with those people. So, you need to know how to keep yourself mentally and emotionally “up” even without as much contact with others.

What would you add to the list? Delete? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Are You Self-Reliant? Then You’ve Got To Stockpile Hydrogen Peroxide. Read More Here.

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A Common Sense Approach To The Defense Of The Homestead

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 16:00
Defense Of The Homestead

As I sit down to write the article” Defense of the homestead”, it is a shade after midnight. Not such an odd hour for a freelance writer. The day job has been put behind me, the farm chores have been done. Also, the kids’ needs have been attended. This is the quiet time in my home when writing without the distractions of a full house on a busy day. But outside, it is not quiet. My dogs are busy this evening, the barking has been frequent and adamant. There is obviously a threat of one form or another lurking in the dark tonight, but a defense of the homestead is being mounted.

Defense Of The Homestead: Smart Choices

Dogs can often be the best defense of the homestead!

As I outlined in the last installment of this series, homesteads are under constant attack. As much as the prepper in me loves all the fancy defensive gear, most of it is of little value in the small daily battles that we fight. I will admit that on one occasion I employed an AK-47 against a marauding opossum in my barn. The result was the desired dead opossum. But there was a 30 caliber hole in the bottom rung of my extension ladder involved. In hindsight, my old single shot .410 would probably have been a better choice, or perhaps even a pointy stick. The AK seemed much cooler at the time.

So, if tactical gear and weapons are not the best response to the average threat, what then are the best tools at your disposal for day to day defense of your homesteading operation? The tools are as varied as the threats.

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Defense Of The Homestead: Against Insect Invaders

Insects are one of the constant threats. They can ruin a vegetable crop, strip your trees of fruit, and threaten the health of your pets, livestock and family. I will say that on our spread we shy away from chemical pesticides as much as possible. We don’t want chemicals in our food; this is one of the reasons we grow it ourselves. Next, we keep bees and don’t want to inadvertently poison a hive; our bees are a valuable part of our preps and our self-sufficiency model. Finally, as preppers, we know that we may not always have access to commercial pesticides and we want to establish our methods based on this eventuality before it becomes a necessity.

Defense Of The Homestead: Companion Plantings

In the fight against insects, our tools include pest repelling companion plantings such as marigolds, beneficial insects like ladybugs, and a variety of natural products such as dish soap and neem oil. Ticks and fleas fought with a variety of commercial methods and also with baths and sprays of essential oils. We also let the chickens and a number of guinea fowl patrol the yard and keep it virtually tick-free.

Our first line of defense of the homestead against rodents, bent on raiding our feed and grains or wreaking havoc in our gardens, are our cats. We maintain a moderately large population of barn and house cats for this purpose, and we suffer zero feed loss and little garden damage as a result. Our cats more than earn their keep in this manner. They are also a good weapon in the fight against crop-damaging birds, as a deterrent if nothing else.

Defense Of The Homestead: Against Large Mammal Invaders

In the fight against larger mammals, our dogs are indispensable. We have a pack of 4 large dogs and two ankle biters. In our neighborhood, coyote packs take a large toll on livestock ranging from chickens to calves. Fox, raccoon and opossum are also hard on poultry. When we first arrived on the homestead, we had only one dog, I was forever having to shoot opossum in the chicken yard and coup.

For a two-week period, we were losing a chicken a night, until I managed to call in and dispatch the offending fox. As the complement of dogs has grown, these problems have vanished. My neighbors continue to suffer occasionally large livestock losses to predation, while we haven’t lost so much as a chicken in more than two years. This summer alone, the dogs have killed a dozen armadillos, and have fought countless running battles with coyote packs that have probed in defenses, I haven’t even seen an opossum.

Dogs are a great deterrent to human invaders, as well. Our dogs greet every visitor at the driveway. While their intentions are genuinely friendly, the rush of four large dogs is disconcerting to strangers and I have no doubt that they would defend my family to the death should someone’s intentions prove to be less than honorable. They also make it impossible for anyone or anything to sneak up on us. Livestock, including poultry, have become a target for theft in our area. The problem gets larger as the economy gets smaller. A pack of large dogs, attuned to livestock defense, has proven to be deterrent enough to spare us from this problem.

Defense Of The Homestead: Against Small Mammal Invaders

It is important to remember that while dogs are a valuable asset in the defense of the homestead, they are also a responsibility, the same can be said for cats. When planning your food storage and production programs, don’t neglect the maintenance of your four-legged soldiers. They are well worth the expense and will pay for themselves to an even greater degree in a long-term crisis. When defending your food production may become a matter of life and death.

Defense Of The Homestead: Using Guineas As Motion Detectors 

The final members of our animal defense force are our guineas. I have already mentioned them in reference to tick control. A task at which they excel, but they are also about the most sensitive motion-detecting alarm system on the planet. Nothing gets by a guinea! They catch things that the dogs miss and call the dogs to action.

Defense Of The Homestead: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The final tool that I will mention is fencing. We all know that good fences make good neighbors. Good fences also keep the deer and rabbits out of your garden, if the dogs are slacking. Fencing delineates your perimeter, alerting people who are approaching your territory and keeping your livestock in. We use fencing to ensure that our vulnerable livestock is safe within the area patrolled by the dogs at night. So that they are close enough to be aware of and respond to any attacks. Fencing is an indispensable tool in the defense of the homestead.

I know that the tools and tactics outlined are not as glamorous as Black Rifles, Tactical Shotguns, or night goggles, but they are more important until a crisis hits. Next time, we will examine some of the fun stuff and discuss the role of firearms in defense of the homestead.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Clever Home Defense Tactics That Will Keep You Safe And Secure

Or download our free 40-page report on how to keep your property safe in uncertain times: Protect Your Perimeter

What are your thoughts on common sense approaches to defending your homestead? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

The post A Common Sense Approach To The Defense Of The Homestead appeared first on Off The Grid News.

7 Reasons Canning Food Is Better Than Freezing Food

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 15:00

Canning food is a great way to preserve your garden produce.

There are plenty of reasons why people prefer one food preservation method over. But individual choices aside, here are some compelling arguments why canning is better than freezing and other methods, followed by a few notable exceptions.

 

1. Flexible storage space.

When you freeze your harvest, you are essentially using a big box to store your food. And when the box is full, it’s full. The sides won’t stretch and you can’t—or at least shouldn’t—sit on the top and squeeze it shut like an overfull suitcase. When your food is canned, however, you can almost always find a space to store a few more jars … and then a few more. When the pantry is full, there’s probably room for a row of jelly jars behind the cereal boxes or in the cabinet over top of the refrigerator. And when there’s no more room in the kitchen, jars can be tucked into a box under the bed in the guest room or even on temporary shelves behind a living room chair.

 

2. Storage without power.

Canning food is an obvious first choice for people living off-grid. While freezers are do-able off-grid, the cost and hassle is often higher and space is therefore at a premium. Even homes which are hooked to the grid know that it’s not 100 percent certain all the time. Outages due to storms or accidents can happen anywhere and anytime. Although full chest freezers can maintain integrity without power for many hours, outages are still cause for concern. When a homestead harvest is preserved in jars, there’s no worry about losing food when the lights go out. And either way, buying and running a freezer costs money — and pantry shelves don’t.

 

3. Ease of use.

We’ve all been there, realizing at the last minute that we forgot to take a crucial ingredient out of the freezer in time for it to thaw. Or remembering to retrieve the item and finding ourselves pawing through dozens of packages of what we don’t want to find the one thing we need.

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Rehydrating dried foods takes some time and effort, too. And even when food comes whole from the root cellar, it still usually needs to be peeled, trimmed and seeded. When food is canned, none of that is an issue. Grab a jar, pop the top, and done.

 

4. Better quality and taste.

Certain canned foods are superior to their frozen counterparts. Many people prefer the taste and texture of canned green beans to any other. Others are swept off their feet by the intense smell of canned meats. And some homemade foods—such as potatoes, chutney, ketchup or jam—just do not freeze with results that satisfy everyone. Dehydrated vegetables often lack palatability compared to canned ones. For those times when canning yields the best results, it’s the only way to go.

 

5. Less waste.

Many people use zip-top freezer bags to freeze foods. Bags are often my go-to because they use less space than freezer containers. I wash mine out and reuse them, but the zip-tops wear out quickly. Canning jars last for years and can be reused dozens of times.

 

6. Processed without electricity.

Canning is not the only option when it comes to off-grid processing, but it is easily done on a gas burner. Depending upon the climate where you live, creating dried foods can be limited without an electric dehydrator.

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7. Keeps well.

Technically, home-canned goods should be consumed within a year. But that can be fudged a little, or a lot, depending upon how picky you are. One drawback for root-cellar storage is that their useable lifespan is shorter than other methods. Frozen and dehydrated foods can deteriorate quickly, too. But food in jars has a good shelf life.

It is true that certain foods yield a better result when preserved in a way other than canning. Broccoli and cauliflower are not considered can-able. Bread, cake and cheese are not safe for canning. Neither are pureed foods such as squash or pesto. Foods such as greens and corn can be canned, but they are so labor- and time-intensive that many folks opt for freezing. Firm berries can nicely but yield a different end-result than freezing or drying, so the ideal way to preserve a bountiful berry harvest would ideally use some of each method.

Overall, canning is a great option for preserving the harvest. It can be done without electricity, yields high-quality and long-lasting results, and minimizes material waste.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The post 7 Reasons Canning Food Is Better Than Freezing Food appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Turmeric: The Herb That Fights Cancer, Crohn’s And Alzheimer’s, Too

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 10:00

Turmeric has so many health benefits.

Turmeric has been revered in the traditional medical systems of China and India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties. Because of its benefits,  turmeric has recently gained popularity in the West as a potent herbal medicine, too.

The reported health benefits of turmeric are seemingly endless. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory herb. Since a large proportion of many modern diseases have inflammation as part of their root cause, turmeric can serve as a powerful herbal ally.

 

1. Fights inflammation

The primary anti-inflammatory component of turmeric is curcumin. Numerous studies have shown that curcumin’s ability to combat inflammation is comparable to that of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. However, curcumin does not produce the same toxic effects as pharmaceutical drugs, such as intestinal bleeding.

Turmeric may also offer some hope for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

 

2. Provides antioxidants

Turmeric contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are known to cause damage to the body’s cells.

These antioxidants make turmeric particularly useful for providing relief to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, where free radicals cause inflammation in the joints and can eventually lead to joint damage.

 

3. Helps prevent cancer

The antioxidant properties of turmeric help to protect cells from DNA damage from free radicals. Curcumin is also believed to be capable of destroying cancer cells and stopping their spread. This is a result of the herb enhancing liver function, inhibiting a protein needed for tumor formation, and reducing the blood supply to cancer cells.

The anti-cancer potency of turmeric is multiplied when you combine turmeric with other cancer-preventative foods.

Turmeric, One Of The Most Powerful Full-Spectrum Supplements on the Planet

 

4. Supports a healthy cardiovascular system

Add turmeric to many different foods

Due to curcumin’s antioxidant properties, it may help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. This is especially important in supporting cardiovascular health. Oxidized cholesterol is responsible for damage to blood vessels and the formation of arterial plaque. Unfortunately, these can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Turmeric is a source of vitamin B6, which helps to prevent homocysteine levels from increasing to dangerous levels in the body.  Surprisingly, Turmeric also helps the liver to clear away excess LDL cholesterol from the body.

 

5. Fights Alzheimer’s

Turmeric may help to prevent or block the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

  • Curcumin also blocks the production of a protein that destroys the myelin sheath around nerve cells.
  • Curcumin’s antioxidant properties protect the brain and nerves from oxidation in the body. Oxidation can lead to neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Curcumin binds to amyloid-B protein fragments in the brain and prevents them from clumping together to form the amyloid plaques. These plaques also lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Curcumin boosts the immune system and helps it to destroy amyloid plaques. Sadly, immune activity is suppressed in Alzheimer’s patients. Therefore, the immune cells in a healthy person work to destroy the abnormal cells.

 

How to Consume Turmeric

The following are just a few suggestions for how to consume turmeric and incorporate it into your diet:

  • Try it in egg salad.
  • Add to lentil dishes.
  • Sprinkle it in brown rice, along with raisins and cashews, cumin and coriander.
  • Add a pinch to salad dressings.
  • Use in curries, on sautéed apples, steamed cauliflower, green beans and onions.
  • Try a pinch of turmeric powder and dried onion to plain yogurt to use as a veggie dip.
  • Add to sautéed cruciferous vegetables and onions as part of a cancer prevention lifestyle and diet.

With its many health benefits, it just makes sense to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet and lifestyle. Having a good supply of this healthy spice will ensure that you and your family can enjoy its benefits for a long time to come.

If you are ambitious enough, you can also grow your own turmeric from a fresh root.

 

Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any particular health condition. Always consult with a qualified health professional to determine if turmeric (or any other herb) is right for you and your personal health condition(s).

Do you use turmeric? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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The post Turmeric: The Herb That Fights Cancer, Crohn’s And Alzheimer’s, Too appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Relieve Pain Naturally With An Amazing Herbal Capsule First Aid Kit

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 16:00
Headache, Muscle, And Cramp Capsules

Herbal capsules can be a pivotal step in helping you to relieve pain naturally.

Did you know that people first made aspirin from common plants? Willow bark and meadowsweet both contain the active ingredient used to make aspirin and both can help to relieve pain naturally. Like many other herbs, these two have safety mechanisms built right in. Many people cannot tolerate aspirin due to stomach irritation, but unlike aspirin, willow and meadowsweet are not irritating to the stomach.

The following recipe shows you how to make herbal pain-relieving capsules. Capsule making equipment is inexpensive and easy to use. Furthermore, herb shops, natural food stores, and online resources sell them for less than twenty dollars.

If you prefer to make a tincture, you may use the same proportion of herbs. Just follow the tincture instructions that we have provided previously in our various first aid kit articles.

The recipe contains the following ingredients: cramp bark, which relaxes and comforts smooth muscle. Skullcap, a common wildflower, is relaxing and can relieve pain naturally. Valerian is a relaxant as well. Cayenne is an activator.

The hidden secrets of making herbal medicines…right at your fingertips!

 

Ingredients
  • 00 sized empty capsules
  • 1 tablespoon meadowsweet herb
  • 2 teaspoons cramp bark
  • 1 teaspoon skull cap
  • 1 teaspoon valerian root
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

 

Instructions

Finely powder the herbs using a coffee grinder. Fill the capsules using instructions that come with your capsule-making machine. Store in a dry, dark place.

To use, take two capsules every four hours as needed.

 

BVYF Capsules That Relieve Pain Naturally

The following capsule recipe contains herbs that can effectively prevent or fight infections.

While fresh garlic is not included, it is one of the most potent herbal antibiotics known. You can even apply garlic directly to a wound (although it will sting!). Moreover, you can lightly cook garlic or take it raw. Raw garlic can cause stomach irritation, so I recommend taking it with food. Cooked garlic does not offer the same antibacterial benefits. However, it does promote heart health and aids in circulation.

The herbs in this blend are effective against bacterial, viral, yeast, and fungal infections. Unlike antibiotic pharmaceuticals, drug resistance does not build up when using herbs because the herbs are such complex compounds.

You may also make this recipe into a tincture. In that case, add a couple of cloves of fresh, crushed garlic.

As a further note on one of the ingredients, usnea is lichen which drapes trees in northern forests.

 

Ingredients
  • 00 capsules
  • 2 Tablespoons echinacea root
  • 2 Tablespoons barberry root
  • 1 tablespoon myrrh
  • 1 tablespoon usnea
  • 1 Tablespoon calendula flowers
  • ½ Tablespoon black walnut hull
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

 

Instructions

Finely powder the herbs using a coffee grinder. Fill the capsules using the instructions that come with your capsule-making machine. Store in a dry, dark place.

To help relieve pain naturally, take two capsules every four hours as needed.

A well-rounded herbal first aid kit will greatly assist you in coping with common, everyday ailments and injuries.

If you make the recipes in this series, you will have a well-rounded herbal first aid kit. Make sure that you learn about local plants in your area that you can substitute for the ingredients that I suggested. Most of the recipes can be adapted for use in other forms. For example, you can make tincture recipes into syrups, and you can tincture teas and so forth.

Other items you may want to include are summarized lists of your family’s medical records including allergies, medications, past medical history, emergency phone numbers, and so on. Keep a pen and paper with your kit in case you need to write down instructions in an emergency.

Familiarize yourself with choking and CPR rescue techniques. Additionally, keep a card that summarizes them handy. A small booklet or chart that provides basic treatment recommendations for treating common emergencies can also be reassuring.

Keep a variety of bandages on hand. Make sure to include large ones, not just 2x2s or 4x4s. Sanitary napkins and diapers also make excellent absorbent dressings. Include some non-stick and waterproof ones as well as some fluffy, rolled gauze.  Keep an ace bandage in your kit along with some tape.

 

More Tips For Creating The Ideal Herbal First Aid Kit

Lavender and tea tree essential oils are both antibacterial and good to have on hand. Tea tree helps to relieve fungal infections. Lavender relieves burn and ear pain, plus it is relaxing. Cloves from the kitchen spice rack are antibacterial and they relieve toothache pain when you apply them locally. Soap and water are handy if the kit is not kept in your house.

Tailor your first aid kit to your family’s needs and ages. Include some of the following dried herbs if you have children.

Catnip is excellent for relieving childhood fevers; however, it does not taste good. The easiest way to administer catnip is to make a very strong tea and pour it into a tepid bath before putting a febrile child into the tub.

If you have a colicky baby who is nursing, the mom can drink some chamomile, dill, or fennel tea. The healing benefits will be provided via the breast milk.

Herbal teas can be made into popsicles to soothe children’s sore throats. Herbs can simply be powdered and mixed with yogurt, applesauce, pudding, or ice cream for easy administration as well.

Now that you know how to prepare your kit, it is time to put it together if you have not done so already. Be prepared ahead of time, and you can rest assured that you will be able to relieve pain naturally and cope with common, everyday ailments and injuries.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: For Emergency Preparedness – Prepare Your Medicinal Herb And Spice Cabinet

 

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on relieving pain naturally with herbal capsules? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

The post Relieve Pain Naturally With An Amazing Herbal Capsule First Aid Kit appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Simple Ways To Keep Food Cold When The Power’s Out

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 15:01

When you lose power, the first thing you usually think of is how to keep your food cold during the outage.

Whether it’s the wind of a severe thunderstorm in the summer, the weight of an ice storm in the winter or even a traffic accident that takes down a power line, you can experience a power outage any time of year.

If you are like most people, one of the first things you think about when your power goes out is the food in your refrigerator and freezer. How long can your food safely last without power?

If possible, preparation and caution are two paths you should follow to protect your food supply. First, let’s look at preparation.

 

Preparation

Ensure that you have appliance thermometers in your fridge and your freezer. Your refrigerator should maintain a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. However, your freezer should be 0 degrees or lower.

If the weather forecast calls for severe storms, another way to prepare is by freezing quart-size plastic bags of water to use as makeshift ice packs in the event of a power failure. Fill the bags about three-fourths full of water and fit them around your frozen and refrigerated food to help keep them cold.

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Another way to prepare for a power outage is by maintaining at least a three-day supply of ready-to-eat-food for your family.

 

Caution

When the power goes out, it is important to conserve the cold air that you do have in your appliances. Open the refrigerator and freezer doors as little as possible.

When kept closed, a refrigerator will keep food appropriately chilled for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep foods frozen for about 48 hours, and a half-full freezer will do the same for 24 hours. If your freezer is not full, you can help things stay frozen by grouping them together.

If you know that your power will be out for more than 24 hours, you can purchase dry or block ice to extend the cooling time. A 50-pound package of dry ice will help keep the food in a full 18-cubic-foot freezer frozen for about two days.

When your power comes back on, check each food item separately for spoilage. Dispose of any product that feels warm to the touch or that has an unusual smell or appearance. Do not taste food to determine its safety. Instead, follow the credo, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Check for ice crystals or a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for your frozen foods. Frozen food that has partly thawed or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still reveals ice crystals.

 

Final Thoughts

All foods are considered safe when kept in an unopened refrigerator that has been without power for up to four hours. After that four-hour window, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that you depose of cooked leftovers, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, soft cheeses, salads and other perishable foods. Always dispose of any food items that may have come into contact with raw meat or its juices.

Most condiments, however, are still safe after four hours without refrigeration. The good-to-go list includes ketchup, mustard, relish, jams, jellies, olives, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, certain hard cheeses as well as whole, un-cut fruits and vegetables.

The USDA maintains a website with specific rules on food safety after a power outage. Here are a few other helpful resources:

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/d3506874-2867-4190-a941-d511d3fcae71/Keep_Your_Food_Safe_During_Emergencies.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/09/26/are-you-and-your-food-prepared-power-outage

https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm076881.html

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/food-safety

What are your best tips for keeping food cold when the power’s out? Share your tips in the section below:

The post Simple Ways To Keep Food Cold When The Power’s Out appeared first on Off The Grid News.

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