Off The Grid News
Baking bread usually requires an oven. But what do you do when you’re a pioneer living in the 1800s — and you don’t have an oven? Simple. You use a frying pan, or twist the dough around a stick or make a version of cornbread on the metal side of a hoe or large axe. This is what our ancestors did for hundreds of years.
The first recipe we’ll explore is a frying pan bread often referred to as bannock bread. The recipe is fairly simple. The only trick is making sure you don’t burn the bannock.
Bannock bread ingredients:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of shortening
- ½ cup of dry milk powder (optional)
Bannock bread directions:
Before you add the water, you need to cut in the shortening using a couple of knives or a pastry cutter. After the texture appears crumbly, slowly add water until you get a putty-like consistency.
Oil a cast-iron frying pan. Mountain men would use bacon, salt pork or even bear fat. I’m OK with the bacon but I’ll pass on the bear fat. Pour the mixture into the pan. I used a small size 1 cast-iron pan. Place the pan over some coals or on the stovetop and brown for about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the bread over in the pan and finish the other side.
You might want to flip a few times to cook the bread through and to prevent burning. When you think it’s done, poke a stick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean and dry, then the bread is done. If not, then you can let it rest in the pan off the heat until it finishes.
Bread on a Stick
Another recipe was popular with sourdoughs and mountain men. It was bread on a stick. This was a surprisingly simple solution because all it involved was wrapping a long roll of dough around the end of a shave stick and setting over the fire. The stick was usually inserted in the ground at an angle to the fire and turned occasionally. If you dip your hand in water
and spritz the dough while it bakes, then you’ll get a pretzel texture to the finished bread twist.
Bread on a stick ingredients:
- 2 cups of flour
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of yeast
- Extra flour for dusting and rolling
Bread on a stick directions:
Combine and mix the dry ingredients and slowly add the water. You want to create a dough ball that you can roll out into a rope of dough. Use the reserved flour to keep the dough from sticking. Let it rest for about 10 minutes after kneading and then wrap it around the end of your cooking stick. The ideal dimension for your cooking stick is about an inch in diameter with a pointed end and about 3 feet long. I usually insert one end of the dough into the point at the end of the stick and then try to either overlap the dough as it’s wound or if I’m lucky, push it onto a small branch about 10 inches down the stick. Set the dough on the stick aside and let it rise a little more. I just push it in the ground away from the fire.
When it’s time to bake or roast your bread on a stick, push a different sharpened stick into the ground at an angle to your fire. You could also support it with rocks. You don’t want a roaring fire. A nice bed of coals will do. Turn the stick from time to time, but be careful and wear gloves because the stick will get hot. You can also spritz the dough with water flicked from your fingers if you want a pretzel-like finish to the dough. You can toss some salt on the wet dough toward the end of cooking after your final spritz.
Tear a piece off and give it a try. If it needs more time you can slowly turn it over the coals.
Another pioneer bread is commonly referred to as “Hoe Cake.” This is a cornbread that was literally baked on the curved metal side of a hoe. The hoe was parked next to the fire and the hot iron cooked one side of the hoe cake while the heat from the fire cooked the other side. I don’t happen to have a hoe, but I have a large timber-squaring axe, which did the trick just fine.
You can also finish your hoe cake in a cast iron skillet. It’s the same concept, although you have to flip if from time to time to finish both sides.
Hoe cake ingredients:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup of buttermilk
- 1/3 cup plus one tablespoon of water
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil or bacon grease
- oil for the pan or the hoe
Hoe cake directions:
If you want to do this the old-fashioned way on the side of a hoe (if you have one) or in my case, the side of a large axe – you’ll want a fairly thick batter that will stick to the side of the metal. If you would rather do it in a pan, you’ll want a cast-iron pan. Oil the pan and drop the batter into the skillet after it’s hot. You’ll probably want to turn it once or twice to cook it through and prevent it from burning.
It’s fun to try these old world recipes and they’re easy to make. You might want to experiment a bit, but it’s a good skill to know if you find yourself in the woods or wilderness and have a craving for something as fundamental as bread.
What advice would you add? Have you ever a survival bread? Share your tips in the section below:
Several years ago we had a week-long power outage in my region. We live in a fairly old-fashioned rural community. Nonetheless, panic still set in somewhere around hour 12 of the weather-related disaster. It was summer, a really, really hot summer. The temperatures regularly hit about 95 degrees before noon.
Friends and neighbors cleared out their refrigerators and had a community cookout at the high school. The only grocery store in the county ran out of generator power far sooner than expected. No gas station within a 25-minute drive had power. The wait at Walmart for bottled water and ice rendered the attempt fruitless.
While preparing a meal of long-term storage food on our charcoal grill, our daughter and I heard the familiar click-clack of a horse and buggy rolling by on a side street. She turned to me and said, “Do you think the Amish even noticed?”Learn More Than 1,000 Secrets For A Healthier, Safer Off-Grid Life!
I laughed and responded, “Probably not, at least not until an ‘English’ neighbor mentioned the ongoing power failure.” Once the news did spread to the Amish community in our county, buggies began heading to the grocery store to buy perishable items at a very steep discount. All the Amish farms and homesteads had an ice house and were fully capable of storing the bargain steaks and other “must refrigerate” items.
During the power outage, I was impressed with how our community pulled together. However, I was equally surprised that so many folks in a rural area struggled so much during the short-term disaster.
At a certain point, the editors of Off The Grid News asked if I was interested in going to visit one of the local Amish farms. They wanted me to craft a piece about homesteading skills we should all be learning, and I jumped at the opportunity. I pulled on my favorite cowboy boots and headed out in the county to enjoy some of Alma’s amazing homemade cookies. Meanwhile, I would be talking off-grid living in our modern world with her farrier husband and some local Amish community farmers.Dependable Solar Generator Provides Back Up Power During An Outage
Sadly, we’ve lost many of the traditional homesteading skills that rural folks in my region once considered as necessary daily tasks. This includes such techniques as knowing how to grow your own food, preserve your harvest, raise and “doctor” livestock, and care for minor physical ailments. These are not only handy self-reliant skills for off-the-grid families, but they are survival attributes which could one day save your life.
My Amish friend, Ezra, said that over the course of the past year or so, more and more folks that routinely engage the services of his community have mentioned the disturbing events going on in the world. Additionally, these people have asked for tips to help them rediscover the Appalachian ways of the past as well as traditional homesteading skills.
Amish Community Homesteading Skills
1. How To Sew By Hand
Many of us suffered through mandatory middle school home economics class and likely should have paid better attention. The Amish teach simple sewing to children when they are barely more than toddlers. Learning how to make your own fabric, thread, patterns, and clothing is a money-saver for off-grid families. It’s also a necessity following a disaster. Not surprisingly, the Amish keep it simple when it comes to clothing. Learning how to sew in zippers is not necessary. The Amish secure the sturdy garments that they make with thick buttons, hook-and-eye fasteners, and Velcro.
2. How To Farm Without Machines
Amish farms most commonly grow corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, tobacco, tomatoes, barley, potatoes, green beans, and grasses for grazing livestock. In addition, they perform their farm work with horse-drawn equipment only. The wagons that they employ have durable, metal wheels and not tires made of rubber. One Amish farmer does not usually possess all the skills necessary to make wheels, shoe horses, grow crops, make furniture, etc. Nevertheless, he does network closely with other members of the community to ensure that none of the necessary items will ever be in short supply. When they need to raise a barn, the Amish frame it within a day. They strictly follow a regimen of crop rotation on an Amish farm. The replenishing of empty ground during the winter is key to developing nutrient-rich ground in the spring.
Amish Farming Task Schedule
- In April, the Amish sow oats and plant corn. They also move tomato seeds outdoors from the greenhouse in many locations.
- In May, the horses and cows are munching on well-maintained pasture. Moreover, the farmers plant the late-harvest corn.
- In June, it is hay-making time. Strawberries are also preserved and turned into a plethora of sweet delights to be enjoyed by the family and sold at roadside stands.
- July is an extremely busy month on an Amish farm. The second cutting of hay occurs, threshing must be done, honey is removed from supers, apple starts are transplanted, and sweet blackberries and raspberries are picked.
- During August, they must refill the silos before the weather turns cold and they need to complete the sowing of fall wheat.
- In October, it is cider-making and late-corn harvesting time.
3. How To Take Advantage Of Off-Grid Power
There are multiple varieties of Amish. The Old Order is far more strict when it comes to the use of any type of power. The Amish community in my area and in “Ohio Amish country” utilize both gas and solar power. Amish do know how to milk cows by hand, but are also permitted to use gas-powered milkers, barn fans, and propane appliances. If fuel suddenly became unavailable, the Amish would still be able to go about their chores and operate their businesses. Some tasks would just take a little bit longer.
Bottled gas is often used to power water heaters, stoves, and refrigerators. Gas-pressured lamps and lanterns – and even rustic lantern chandeliers — can be used to light homes, businesses, and barns. We recently visited a major supplier of propane refrigerators and stoves while in Ohio Amish country. The prices were not much higher than the modern appliances you can buy at the local big box store and offer a great off-the-grid living alternative. Some Amish communities widely use solar panels and solar generators. They have even jokingly called their solar power usage as “connecting to God’s grid.”
4. How To Identify Plants And Trees
The Amish community understands the environment which surrounds their home just as well as America’s original pioneers. They can easily rattle off details about the types of grasses which will produce specific types of crops and livestock feed. If their food ever ran out, the Amish can easily walk into the woods and quickly identify which berries and other wild-growing items are safe to eat. Know your wood! My husband embarked on this type of training with me. I felt quite proud to show off my wood identification skills when talking with members of the Amish community. Amish children are taught at a young age how to identify and understand different types of wood.
5. How To Use Hand Tools
The Amish take extremely good care of their tools. Think how closely you guarded that one special present you opened on Christmas morning as a child. Now you get the idea of how much the Amish care for their wood-hand planers, leather punches, blacksmithing equipment, horse tack, generators, and hand-powered farming implements. My Amish friends highly recommend investing in, and learning how to use hand tools. Building and repairing what you need on the homestead or during a disaster without power is essential.
Horses are considered to be equipment on an Amish farm, this does not mean that the animals are mistreated. Amish horses are extremely well-trained and rarely ever startle when exposed to new environments or traffic. Amish children learn how to ride and care for horses by the age of five. They can also saddle, harness and cart the ponies and miniature horses used during their training. When we purchased a mini for our oldest grandson, Crosley, I paid Ezra’s 5-year-old son to teach it how to cart and to “ride it out” since my grandson was a novice.
6. How To Homeschool
The Amish were perhaps the original homeschoolers. Educating your children at home, offers the opportunity to teach academic basics thoroughly and at a pace which suits your children or grandchildren. It also gives you the ability to tailor the curriculum to include hands-on learning while engaging in practical homesteading tasks at a young age. The workbooks the children in Amish communities use are very impressive. As a former educator, I can attest that the students at the first grade level, were above area public schools in reading, writing and math. The workbooks infused faith-based learning with the building blocks basics, as well as farming-specific lessons. The children, unlike many in public schools, still learn cursive writing and even had a classroom pet.
We could all pick up some pointers from the Amish community which could make our day-to-day life more rewarding, but also enhance our chances of survival if disaster strikes.What would you add to this story? Which Amish skills would you like to learn? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The post Six ‘Lost’ Off-Grid Lessons From The Amish Community appeared first on Off The Grid News.
When you have what you think is a private conversation with Alexa, or the Google Assistant, or Siri, numerous reports have emerged in recent weeks revealing that other humans might be listening too (although Apple has since revised its policy).
Now it turns out that Microsoft is probably listening to some of your Skype calls if you’re using a tool called Translator. Skype launched the clever feature in 2015, offering near-real-time audio translations during phone and video calls. But a new report from Motherboard reveals that Microsoft sends some Skype recordings to its contractors to review how the translation services worked, according to a cache of “internal documents, screenshots, and audio recordings” obtained by the site’s reporters.
Audio conversations include “people talking intimately to loved ones, some chatting about personal issues such as their weight loss, and others seemingly discussing relationship problems.”
Grapes are hardy plants. They grow in many different parts of the world, even in the hot, humid Asian tropics where I live. I remember seeing a vine just growing out of a huge container in my parents’ front yard when I was small. However, its fruits were small, green, and sour. It was probably the kind used for wine-making.
The 3 Main Groups Of Grapes
In the U.S., many varieties of grapes thrive beautifully. They’re classified into 3 main groups: American, European, and Muscadine. American grapes are cold-hardy and thrive for a short season in areas like the Northeastern states. European types, usually used for wines, grow for long seasons in dry, sunny, Mediterranean-type regions like California or the USDA Zone 7 states. (There are many hybrids between these 2 types). Thick-skinned Muscadines are a vigorous, native variety, adapting well to the heat and humidity of the South.
Advantages To Growing Grapes
Grapes would be a good addition to any garden. They have lots of uses, from jams to juices, desserts to cereal toppings, or you can just eat them straight off the vine. You could try your hand at wine-making, or you could dry them into raisins. Not only are they rich in essential vitamins and minerals, but they’re also loaded with antioxidants like resveratrol, which is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Grapevines can provide a leafy green shade on your patio during the summer, or a nice screen from the neighbors on your fence. Growing them organically isn’t difficult. Nonetheless, it does take patience and some level of commitment, says one winery owner in California. But since they are vigorous growers and can thrive for as long as 30 years with proper care and attention, grapevines can provide you and your children with decades of nutritious and delicious satisfaction. They’re also prolific — some varieties can yield up to 15 pounds of fruit per vine. So, 2 vines would be enough to support a household of grape-lovers.
Should you decide to move forward with this idea, you will have to consider several factors that we will discuss in the following list of easy steps to growing grapes.
Easy Steps To Growing Grapes – #1: Location
As mentioned above, the local climate will determine which varieties would grow best in your area. Grapes vary in flavor, color, size, and texture. Some are sweet and ideal for the table, while others are best suited for jellies, juices, and wines. Your local agricultural extension office can recommend the exact variety for your region, and whether it’ll be good for table or wine.
Easy Steps To Growing Grapes – #2: Sun
Grapes require full sun. If you don’t have a spot in your yard that’s sunny all day, find a place where it can at least receive the morning sun. In northern areas, find a south-facing patch where it can enjoy as much of the summer sun as it can.
Easy Steps To Growing Grapes – #3: Air Flow
Good air circulation helps to prevent fungi from attacking your vine. Find an area away from trees, tall brush, or buildings, as these will block breezes from blowing into your vine.
Story continues below videoEasy Steps To Growing Grapes – #4: Water And Drainage
A growing vine needs about an inch of rain per week. If your location doesn’t get much rainfall, you’d have to water it. However, keep in mind that a vine doesn’t like getting its roots soaked, either. A gently sloping or hilly terrain would provide perfect drainage. You may set up a drip irrigation system at the base of your vine so it can get small amounts of water on a regular basis, especially during droughts.
Easy Steps To Growing Grapes – #5: Soil
Ideally, your soil should be deep, loose, well-drained, and free from weeds and grass. Soil that’s slightly sandy or loamy with a pH just above 7 is best. Mulch it with aged compost. Do not fertilize unless you have problem soil, as grapevines don’t require high fertility. As it grows, check if it looks vigorous and healthy and if the leaves are dark green. If not, apply a nitrogen fertilizer.
Easy Steps To Growing Grapes – #6: Pests
Insects and diseases that afflict grapes vary from one region to another. Warm, humid weather in the East can attract mildew and fungus. Mild winters and cool, wet springs in the Pacific Northwest can cause powdery mildew. In California, the phylloxera is a common pest that attacks the roots, and Pierce’s disease can scorch the leaves and canes. Other potential enemies are aphids, mites, and Japanese beetles. Find a variety that has a high resistance to disease so you can minimize problems in the future. For insects, you could spray organic insecticide on aphids and mites. (Ladybugs are a natural consumer of aphids, too, and won’t hurt your vine). You may also just handpick beetles off the leaves and prevent birds from pecking on fruits with an over-head netting.
Easy Steps To Growing Grapes – #7: Training
Before planting, set up a structural support system to train your grapes. You can grow vines on a trellis, overhead arbor, or on an iron, PVC, or wooden post with a wire fence or a wooden lattice. Young plants often need to be coaxed to grow upwards, which would also help to cut the risk of disease. At planting time, prune the top of a bare-root grapevine back to two or three buds. Trim off any broken roots or excessive ones longer than 6 inches. You may allow the vine to grow unchecked in the first year.
During its first winter, select the 2 strongest, longest canes and remove all other growth. The buds along the canes will produce several shoots that will grow leaves and flowers. In the second year, prune back all canes. Leave a couple of buds on each of the arms. As flower clusters begin to form, remove them as well. Vines should not be allowed to bear fruit in the first 2 years as the weight could damage them. They need to establish their root systems initially before they can support the extra weight.
Story continues below videoEasy Steps To Growing Grapes – #8: Regular Care
The secret to growing very productive grapes is good pruning. It’s probably the most important and demanding task you’ll have to perform in caring for your vines. Most home gardeners don’t prune grapes enough, resulting in lots of vine growth and very little fruiting. Prune yearly when the vines are dormant, around late winter or early spring. Keep a few vines that grew last year, then cut everything else off.
Note that fruit is produced from the current season’s growth, which in turn grew from the previous season’s wood. So, don’t be afraid to remove up to 90 percent of last season’s growth – your grapes will grow better because of it. Heavy pruning produces the best quality fruit, while light pruning results in large yields of poor quality. Also, if you want to produce bigger fruits, cut off every third bunch the moment they form so that more energy goes into developing the remaining fruits.
The key to growing grapes successfully is choosing vines that will flourish in your climate. Make sure you buy your vine or cuttings from a reputable nursery. Look for healthy, 1-year-old plants with an even root distribution and symmetrical canes. Try to make sure they’re virus-free stock, and find out if you will need more than one plant for pollination. Most varieties are self-fertile, though.
Story continues below videoConclusion
In mild winter areas (USDA Zone 7 and warmer), you can plant your grapevines in late fall or early winter. In colder regions, wait until late winter or early spring when most bare-root varieties are available.
You can expect to harvest good, edible fruits in the third or fourth year, around late summer or early fall. Test their ripeness by picking from different areas and tasting them. Color and size aren’t good indicators of ripeness, so harvest only when they’re as sweet as you’d want them to be. Grapes don’t ripen any further after picking.
You can eat them fresh, store them up to a week in the refrigerator, 6 weeks in the cellar, or freeze them in zipper bags for use later in smoothies and desserts. My kids relish sweet, frozen grapes like popsicles in the summer! I’m sure yours would, too.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Growing Glorious Grapes
What grape-growing tips do you have? Tell us in the comments section below.
The post 8 Easy Steps To Growing Grapes Without Pesticides In Your Own Backyard appeared first on Off The Grid News.
One thing I know for certain. Previous generations survived hard times because they chose to spend money wisely. The key was never spending more than you earned.
And now, as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that life has lots of challenges including financial ones. I’m not talking about the almost natural increase of inflation; that’s to be expected. No, what I’m talking about is the way that lifestyle choices make things more expensive. Things that are considered the “norm” today were considered luxury 20 years ago.
This has been brought home to me in a number of ways, mostly through my own, now grown, children. When my youngest graduated from college, she came home and bought a car a few months later. Now, that’s not unusual in and of itself, but she bought a Buick. When I was her age, we saw a Buick as being a rich man’s car, not one for someone working a low-paying job just out of college. Yet, that’s what she had to have, in order to get the luxury options that she wanted.
This same theme repeats itself over and over in everyday life. We carry around $600 cell phones as if they were nothing; and if it drops, breaking the screen, that’s OK. We wanted a new one anyway. We eat at fancier restaurants, and even fast food joints carry more elaborate selections than they once did.
I remember Dairy Queen being a treat, but today, it has to be one of the fancy frozen yogurt places. Everyone has big screen televisions and you have to have either satellite or cable to get the selection of programming you want. Yes, life has definitely gotten more expensive.
We’re so busy spending money on things that have become the norm in our society, not even realizing that we don’t need those things, or that we could get by just fine with much less. I mean, does anyone really need a $7 cup of coffee that much more than a dollar one?
My parents’ generation couldn’t even think of paying for many of the things we think are normal today; for that matter, the younger version of me couldn’t. But as we go back in time, we find that our grandparents and great-grandparents were even more frugal. Why? Because they had to be. They didn’t have the disposable income that we have today and what income they did have, they didn’t consider disposable.
We could learn a lot from our grandparents and great-grandparents; especially in how to live frugally and make our money go farther. Then, we might have more money to spend on the things that really matter, like giving our families some security.
Here’s how they saved money and survived hard times:
1. They survived hard times by asking, do I really need this?
Let me finish ranting about all the expensive stuff we buy today. The real question is, do you really need it? Do you need that $5 cup of coffee or will you be just as satisfied with the $1 one at the convenience store? Shoot, my convenience store even throws in the fancy, flavored creams, so you can have flavored coffee for a buck or a buck and a half.
It’s fun and special to go out someplace expensive or to eat fancy ice cream. I enjoy it just as much as anyone. But, I leave it to be something special. Rather than buying all of my ice cream from Marble Slab, I buy it at the grocery store. If I want it fancy, I throw some fruit, nuts and chocolate syrup on it at home. Then, I can save the trip to the fancy ice cream store for special times, making the trip special, rather than making the special ordinary.
2. They survived hard times by slowing life down
Henry Ford’s Model T was probably one of the most boring cars in history. Compared to its contemporaries, it had little to attract attention to it … except for one all-important feature: the price. You could buy a Model T much cheaper than any other car out there.
But the T lacked in some things that might attract buyers today. There weren’t a long list of “standard options” that you could order. For that matter, there weren’t any options. When you bought a T, that’s what you got. If you wanted something different, you had to do it yourself. You could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black.
As cars became more commonplace, the automotive industry realized that they were going to have to do something to keep people buying their new cars. So, they came up with the idea of model years. Now, you can buy the exact same car, with a few insignificant but highly visible details that are different, and you’ll have the latest and greatest. You could snub all of your neighbors and friends who didn’t have the current model, like you do.
This is actually one of the greatest marketing victories in history. In fact, it’s been so great that everyone else is copying it. Everything from can openers to rocket ships now has model year changes. Electronics are the worst. Why do they do this? To entice you to buy the new model. That way, they get more of your money.
Let me ask you something. Does your old cell phone work? If it does, why would you need to replace it? I keep my cell phones for an average of seven years and then finally replace them when they break. But most of the people I know replace theirs every year or two. They just can’t wait to get the new model, with all the new whistles and bells.
Break the habit of replacing things so quickly and you’ll find that you have more money. It’s amazing how that works. Think twice, buy once.
3. They survived hard times by thinking twice before buying once
Impulse buying is another way that marketers have found to separate us from our hard-earned wages. If they can get us to buy it on the spur of the moment, we’ll probably buy it. But if we decide to think about it overnight, chances are that we’ll decide we don’t need it.
This is what our grandparents did, but it’s gotten lost in time somehow. I remember my parents telling me to always wait a day before making a major purchase. But you don’t see many people talking about that today. In our instant society, we want it now and we’re going to get it now, even if that ultimately hurts us. Let’s just say, that’s not the smartest thing we can do.
If anything, the Internet has made this worse. I’ve been offered countless items on Facebook, which I just looked at on somebody’s website, especially Amazon. They want to make sure I buy it, before I lose my desire for the item. If they can get me to do that, they win and get my money. It’s not about good customer service; it’s about getting you and me to buy.
Taking your time to make buying decisions is one of the easiest ways there is to save money. Not only that, but your home won’t be filled up with stuff that you don’t use. You’ll actually have things that you want to have, instead of things that someone else wants you to have. Reuse, repurpose, recycle.
4. Survived hard times by reusing and repurposing
Our grandparents and especially our great-grandparents were experts on reusing and repurposing things. They rarely threw anything away. Anything they had, including the packaging from things they bought, was reused for something else.
I can still remember my grandmother’s kitchen with its stacks of plastic storage containers. Only … those containers weren’t made by Rubbermaid or Tupperware; they were old margarine and Dream Whip containers. She’d clean them out and use them to store food in the refrigerator or any number of other things.
Back in the pioneering days, everything got reused. Burlap bags became towels (even though they are a bit scratchy), old clothes were either remade into clothes for children, cutting out the good parts of the fabric, or turned into rags. Barrels and casks were used for anything from storing grain for the horses to water tanks. If it would hold something, they’d find a way to use it.
We still see this in Third World and emerging countries. I’ve bought containers of candy to give to kids in Mexico, and had their mothers ask me for the container, once I passed out the candy. To them, that empty container was just as valuable as the candy that their children had eaten.
5. They survived hard times by asking themselves good questions
Here’s another subtle marketing trick that our grandparents didn’t fall for. Have you ever noticed how much of a product is typically used on a television commercial?
Take toothpaste, for example. There’s always a point in the commercial where they squeeze out the toothpaste onto a toothbrush. It’s a nice long line, covering the whole top of the brush, with a nice curl on the end. So, when we go to brush our teeth, we do the same. We don’t realize it, but we’ve unconsciously gotten the message that we need that much toothpaste.
But how much do you really need? Can you get by with half of that and still get your teeth clean? I won’t tell you if you can, because I’m not a dentist. But I will tell you this; I do.
We use countless products every day, without thinking about how much of that product we really need. That ultimately causes us to use more of the product and sends more of our money into those companies’ coffers. Why not figure out the least you need and use that?
6. They survived hard times by being willing to wait
Another result of our instant society is that we expect everything now. We can’t even wait one minute, once we decide that we want it. After all, why should we wait? We’ll just charge it.
I think my grandparents would have fainted at the idea of buying things on credit, especially my mom’s parents. Back then, if you wanted something, you saved your money until you could afford it. If that meant you had to save for years, you did it. If that item was really that important to you, you’d make that sacrifice and save. You’d also be willing to wait.
Do you have any idea how much of an interest rate your credit card company charges you? If you’re like most people, you don’t. Credit card debt is one of the most crippling things for a family’s finances.
Believe it or not, there are actually forms of debt that are worse than credit cards. Those payday loan places where you can borrow $1,500 for six months are murder. Their interest rate is so high, they don’t even tell you. That’s not a problem, as the only number most people want to hear is the monthly payment. Hock shops are worse, but that’s because they work with short-term, high-risk loans.
7. They survived hard times by doing things themselves
We don’t even have to go back to our grandparents for this one, although I’m old enough to qualify as a grandpa. When I grew up, a man taught his son how to do things for himself. Therefore, the average boy would grow up learning how to change their car’s oil, do common mechanic’s work, be a fairly good carpenter, know a bit about plumbing and maybe even know how to shoe a horse (if they lived in horse country).
This training for self-reliance has somehow gone by the wayside. When I look at my children’s generation, so many of them don’t know how to change the oil on their own car, let alone swap out a bad alternator. The average person’s understanding of plumbing is to look down the drain and say, “Looks like it’s time to call the plumber.” Somehow those skills haven’t been passed on.
Paying someone else to do everything is expensive. They need to eat, too, so you’re covering their life expenses. Don’t get me wrong; that’s fair. If someone works for you, you should pay them, and pay them well. But let them work for someone else and learn how to do it yourself.
Through the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of tools. Over half my garage is actually my workshop and I use the other half when I’m building large projects. But even with all the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on tools, they’ve saved me more than what they cost me. Buying tools becomes part of every project, and as I buy them, I guarantee myself savings in the future.
8. Survived hard times by repairing rather than replacing
Speaking of those tools, they also help with repairing things, rather than throwing them away. We’ve become a disposable society, but as I mentioned earlier, our grandparents weren’t that way. They would fix things and keep on using them as long as possible, not throwing them away.
This is another marketing ploy which is taking money out of our pockets. By making things hard to repair and parts hard to find, manufacturers ensure that we’ll throw things away, rather than repairing them. But that old vacuum is really just as good as a new one, if you can find a new switch and put it in.
I get annoyed about this, especially when I’m trying to find parts for things that I own which have broken down. Few manufacturers still offer replacement parts, except for things that are considered maintenance items. But if they can use the part in the factory, I can’t see why they can’t package some of them for sale as replacements. That’s usually one of the most profitable parts of any manufacturing business.
Fortunately for me, I’ve got an engineering background. So, I’m pretty good at repairing. If I can’t find the right switch for my belt sander, I’ll find one that will work (I did this). It may not be as pretty, but I’ll save myself a bunch of money.
By the way, don’t use the fact that you’re not an engineer as an excuse to not try and fix something. I’m a self-taught engineer, even though I worked at it professionally for 15 years. If I can teach myself, you can, too. After all, I didn’t have YouTube or the rest of the Internet to help me. My grandparents and great-grandparents survived hard times, and with a little effort, I know I can too.
What frugal, money-saving tips would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:
The post 8 Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Survived Hard Times appeared first on Off The Grid News.
Food preservation skills are an important part of homesteading. It’s wonderful to pop open a jar of home-canned tomatoes or enjoy your own frozen peaches when the garden and orchards are buried under two feet of snow. But let’s face it—there are only so many hours in a day, and food preservation is time-consuming!
Wouldn’t it be easier if you could grow foods that store themselves? You can. There are plenty of foods you can grow that store well without going to the trouble of canning or freezing or dehydrating. You might be growing many of them already! But just in case, here are a couple of handy lists to use when choosing crops that can help reduce the workload at harvest time.
Here are some foods that store themselves right in the garden. Depending upon climate and specific cultivars, these vegetables can either overwinter or last partway into winter.Kale.
I leave mine in the garden until it is literally buried under snow. As winter encroaches, it becomes less appealing to eat fresh, but is still great for smoothies, soups, and calzones.
These are hardy in cold weather, but do not last as well as kale in my garden.
The texture changes as the temperature drops, but they are still good to eat.
Like its cruciferous cousins—kale and Brussels sprouts—it loses texture appeal as it freezes, but is still edible cooked.
Around my homestead, April is peak parsnip season. I routinely leave them in the ground all winter and dig them as soon as the ground thaws, with excellent results.
Many people leave carrots in the ground all winter. My own success with this method has been marginal, because underground animals—mice and voles, I presume—love to eat them. But for those whose local pests do not love carrots, this is a great option.
Other foods do well in cold storage, harvested and put into a climate-controlled cellar where, ideally, they are kept at just above freezing. As with the list of foods that store well without harvesting, individual success with cold storage techniques can vary depending upon cultivars and the conditions—temperature and humidity—of the storage area. Here’s the cold storage list:
One of the many advantages to potatoes is that they store well for many months in the right conditions.
When well-cured, sweet potatoes last a long time as well.
This is a category in which types and cultivars vary widely in their ability to last in cold storage. I grow an assortment of winter squash, and try to eat up the poorer keepers first.
As with squash, depending up cultivar, pumpkin longevity in storage can vary.
I’ve had great success with leeks lasting well into February, tossed root-down in a plastic storage tote in the coldest part of the cellar.
The secret to long-term onion storage is to keep them from touching each other. The best way I’ve found to do that is to hang them in old nylon stockings, with a knot tied between each onion.
Root-down in a bucket of clean sand, and they’ll last well.
Store them the same way as carrots.
These are easy to store, right on the stalks. Harvest, trim, and keep cold.
It’s a good idea to choose a cultivar developed for long storage, and then just pull them up by the roots and hang them upside down from the root cellar rafters.
Any large winter radishes do well in cold storage, much the same as carrots.
I’ve had good luck storing them in clean sand.
This is another good candidate for cold storage, either just in an open-air basket or in sand.
I’ve had good luck keeping garlic for many months, often lasting until scapes begin to form on a fresh crop. The secrets seem to be proper field curing and keeping it in the dark.
Like their allium cousins—onions, leeks, and garlic—these store well in open air.
Turnips and rutabagas.
These, like most other root vegetables, do well in cold storage, and are not fussy about conditions.
Like many brassicas, kohlrabi stores nicely in baskets, totes, or on the shelf.
I have had success drying popcorn on the cob and storing it in a paper bag in the kitchen cabinet—pretty easy!
Some apples can last in cold storage all the way to March, April, and even beyond. Apples do well in cold humid conditions.
Many pears last well into winter when kept cold.
I use cold-hardy herbs like sage and rosemary straight from the garden until they are buried under snow.
When it comes to return on investment, it doesn’t get much better than dry beans. Cheap, hardy, easy, and extremely long-lasting in storage. Beans are happy in cool dry conditions, in screw-top containers.
While grains do not exactly store themselves almost straight from the garden like much of the food on this list does—grains do need a bit of processing between the field and storage—they still store without needing to be canned or frozen.
With the outer husks removed, nuts are a great choice for preservation-free food.
Food storage is an irreplaceable component in the overall diets of most homesteaders. But it never hurts to grow some foods that preserve themselves with little or no effort.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The post Easy-Storage Garden Foods You Don’t Have To Preserve appeared first on Off The Grid News.
If you’re planting a survival garden this year, this could be one of the most helpful things you do.
It’s a well-known fact that America’s soil no longer delivers the nutrients most vegetables need. You can blame modern farming, backyard overplanting, or even your local soil conditions. The fact of the matter is that each crop season offers your plants and your family less nutrition than before. On one level, you already know your soil needs a boost. You add water and then you mulch.
You put down strong doses of mass-market chemical fertilizers to bolster weak plants and skimpy blossoms. And you watch, wait, and hope your garden turns out as you planned. And, as you might expect, inherent problems with the soil mean lots of disappointment at harvest time.
Undernourished gardens spit out nutrient-poor produce. You may be counting on your backyard survival garden to give you the vegetables and greens you need to stay healthy. Nonetheless, modern plants don’t deliver. They’re low on potassium, iron, and critical phytonutrients – making us all in need of a significant vitamin boost.
A Healthy Survival Garden Might Be An Illusion
A basket full of fresh garden produce ought to be the picture of healthful living. However, that healthy garden is just an illusion for many modern green thumbs.
Over the last several decades, critical soil nutrients have been used up faster than they’ve been replenished all across the country. The soil that’s left can’t deliver the vitamin power your plants need to grow genuinely healthy vegetables and greens. You see it easily in puny plants and stunted vegetables. Nevertheless, the hard science is even worse than what you can see with your naked eye:
• Trace minerals in soil diminished by up to 76% between 1940 and 1991. Government studies compiled this data, which was published by the Journal of Complementary Medicine.
• 43 crops lost massive amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid between 1950 and 1999. This information is according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
• Changing climates across the country have altered planting cycles, so much so that in 2012 the USDA had to update its spring planting guidelines. Notwithstanding, the longer growing season means your garden has to give more each year, increasing depletion rates.
As A Result
Over the last 100 years, the nutritional value of garden produce has plummeted by as much as 85% in some areas. Due to soil depletion, even a balanced diet full of garden foods doesn’t give you all the vitamins and nutrients you need to be healthy. You can stack your plants high with vegetables… stuff salad down your kids’ throats like crazy… but it won’t do any good. Despite what you think you are eating, you are munching away at foods that contain no real nutritional value. They may fill you up temporarily, but these poor plants no longer have the power to nourish your body. It doesn’t matter how pretty they look on your plate.
There is a clear disconnect between the nutrition you think your vegetables and greens deliver and what your body actually receives. This discrepancy contributes to a whole host of health problems. Vitamin deficiencies are serious business, causing everything from chronic fatigue and inflammation to memory loss. Mainstream doctors push “better nutrition” as a way to fix these kinds of problems. Still, how can you eat better when the food on your plate isn’t what you think? No wonder the nutraceutical market has grown to $87 billion in annual sales. Americans are trying to make up for what their food lacks by purchasing more and more!
You can live that life – choking down expensive pills day after day in an attempt to stay healthy – or you can fight back against poor soil and nutritionally worthless plants. For less than $30, you can give your whole survival garden a “vitamin shot” as it grows. This catalyst will replenish your garden soil and put nutrition back into your diet.
A Superfood For Plants
The name of this superfood “vitamin shot” is ProtoGrow, an all-natural multivitamin for plants. It works as the ultimate supplement for anyone who wants better growth, bigger produce, and plants that have the nutritional value they should.
• ProtoGrow is 100% natural and safe, made from North Atlantic fish emulsion and sea kelp – absolutely no harsh artificial chemicals included!
• Mixed with water and applied directly, ProtoGrow adds iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, boron, quercetin, lycopene, and other critical minerals and micro-nutrients back into the soil
• Plants perk up after the first application, growing noticeably more robust and colorful as they drink in a full range of essential nutrients
• A healthier diet allows each plant to reach its full potential, giving you larger sizes and higher yields
Just like you, your plants are what they eat. In nutrient-poor soil, they will struggle to thrive and grow. What does come out of your survival garden is the puny product of a long struggle to find enough to eat. When your plants do get the nutrition they need, the results will be a night-and-day difference in size and quality.
Nutrient-Rich Results That Produce Delicious Tasting Vegetables
The real beneficiary of all this nutrition isn’t your garden, of course – it’s you! When your plants are well fed, they grow up into delicious, nutrient-dense greens. These veggies will taste just as good as they look. ProtoGrow will give you a magazine spread garden regarding plant size and color. Nevertheless, the envy of your neighbors is nothing compared to the reality of having something good on your dinner table night after night.
There’s a deep satisfaction to eating food you’ve grown yourself – especially when it’s healthy food that’s packed with flavor and nutrition. ProtoGrow will have you going back to your garden for seconds and maybe even thirds. It’ll also have you looking forward to eating your quality canned goods this winter. Don’t let your garden starve – and don’t deprive yourself of wholesome, all-natural nutrition. Feed your plants the superfood they need so you and your family can get the nutrients you need from your backyard. ProtoGrow is currently on sale at the Grow Like Crazy website.
The post Double Your Survival Garden Production By Adding Key Nutrients appeared first on Off The Grid News.
By utilizing passive solar energy, our ancestors could use temperate differences to heat and cool their homes. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, right? And it is higher in the summer than in the winter. We know that. Thousands of years ago they knew that. By using the difference in the temperature between day and night, summer and winter, they could trap the sun’s energy to make their homes pleasant to live in. It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
In the temperate parts of the States, houses were built to have southern exposure. In the hot parts in the South, they had deep porches and large overhangs to provide shade during the hottest parts of the day. What they did was to live in harmony with the cycle of nature – they used the sun’s passive energy, with no technological devices whatsoever.
Solar energy is rapidly gaining popularity among Americans, for various reasons. Of about 116 million homes in America, 200,000 are using some kind of a photovoltaic solar (PV) system, with about 10,000 using solar energy alone as their source of power. The prices are going down, the technology is becoming more available and affordable, and it is very attractive to people wishing to go off grid. But, PV solar systems mean high-level technology, require a great deal of knowledge for maintenance, and the initial cost is still relatively high.
Passive solar energy uses the knowledge of the local climate, the angle of the sun’s passage across the sky and the nature of materials used to build the home. By making the house the right shape, placing the windows right and positioning walls, windows and roofs in the right direction, one can cut the building’s energy costs by 30 to 40 percent with no additional cost.
The science behind passive solar energy
There are a few scientific facts that enable us to use the sun’s passive energy:
- Heat naturally travels from a warmer to cooler area until the temperature equalizes.
- Certain materials retain energy (heat) better than others. This is called thermal mass. Water, earth, rocks and bricks have the highest capacity to retain heat.
How to design a house to use passive solar energy
Although it is easiest to use passive solar energy if you are designing your house from scratch, you can make changes to your existing house in order to decrease your heating or cooling bills. In fact, most of the principles of designing a passive solar house make sense in building any house, as one uses the power of the sun to make living more pleasant and less expensive.
Although designing a house in order to minimize or completely eliminate use of fossil fuels for heating or cooling requires a lot of knowledge and planning, the basic principles behind a passive solar design are simple:
If terrain allows, the longer axis of the house should be oriented east/west, so that most rooms face sunny south. Large tilted windows trap a maximum amount of the sun’s energy, which naturally gets transferred to the interior. In the summer, when the sun’s arc is much higher, these same rays will bounce off vertical panes of glass.
Prevailing winds should be allowed to pass through to help air circulation and equalization of the temperature. High ceilings allow hot air to travel upwards and naturally cool the space.
Planting evergreen trees on the north side of the house will protect the house from harsh winter winds. Also, leafy deciduous trees planted to the south will provide pleasant cooling shade in the summer. Once they shed their leaves in the winter, they allow the sun’s warmth to pass through.
If you allow full sunlight to come through your large southern facing windows in the summer, you would be living in a boiler. Deep overhangs keep the summer high-passing sun from overheating your living space. However in the winter, when the sun is much lower, the overhang is not in the way. The same seasonal shading can be achieved with trellises covered by seasonal vines. Or perhaps, deciduous trees which shed their leaves in the winter. Shutters and curtains that keep the sun from overheating the living space in the summer can keep the temperature in the room almost 20 degrees lower.
Windows and patio doors
Windows are your solar collectors, so they should be located mostly on the southern side of the house. Limit the number and size of windows on other sides of the house. They should play an important role in air circulation. Keep in mind that your windows not only collect solar energy, but lose it too, so do not exaggerate in size. Thick drapes or shutters should keep the rooms from losing heat during the night. Double panes play the same role.
A house in which every surface opened to the environment is well-insulated keeps the same pleasant temperature year round. Insulating materials, which do not conduct heat well, prevent heat loss in the winter or heat entrance in the summer. Keeping temperatures even is the key. Therefore you do not have to waste energy by raising or lowering temperatures to be comfortable.
Thermal mass is a building material that collects and distributes solar energy. It is a solid or liquid material that absorbs and stores heat or coldness and releases it when it is needed. Other building principles are just common sense ways of building a house. Use of thermal mass really makes passive solar design unique.
Characteristics of some materials that store and distribute the sun’s energy well were known to our ancestors a long time ago. People were building houses in Mexico of adobe, or were covering roofs with sod in England, or were baking bricks all over the world, or were building castles with large stone cubes.
During the day and in the summer, the sun heats walls, roofs and floors made of a thermal mass, such as concrete, earth, brick or water. At night, or in the winter, when the temperature of the surrounding air drops, they release that stored heat because the inherent nature of the materials try to equalize the temperature with its surrounding.
In addition, solar panels can serve not only as photovoltaic collectors of the sun’s energy, but work in a passive way as thermal mass.
What are some of your tips on passive solar energy? Please share in the comments below.
How often do you take electricity for granted? If you are like I once was, it happens quite frequently.
I would shut off lights and unplug things when not in use. However, I still never really took the time to think about what it would be like to go without power. Until I spent more than two weeks after a hurricane in just that situation.
At first, I didn’t like it. but after a while, it was kind of nice to read with a lantern by my bed or work hard while the sun was up and relax once it retired. I figured it must have been kind of like how life had been for my great-grandparents at one time. I eventually did get into a routine, and it was at this time that I realized just how much the availability of electricity set the tone of my life.
Just last year I had the amazing opportunity to spend several months off the grid in a very remote location. Although the home I rented had a well-appointed solar system and a back-up generator, there were still some things that I had to “get used to.” It took some time to develop a good working relationship with the solar system, and I prided myself on using the generator as infrequently as possible.Get Free Electricity — That Works Even During Blackouts!
Of course, the amazing thing about going solar is that you can make your system as large as you desire. For me, though, there was some adventure to working with the system that was in place and having to adjust to the solar power rather than taking power for granted.
For example, vacuuming was something that was reserved for days when there was ample sun and backup power. While learning to live on fewer watts, we did quite a few things differently and our off-grid experience was richer for the thought we had to put into preserving the free power from the sun.
Here are just a few of the changes that we made to our off-grid lives that helped us use less watts:
- We never took a shower before the sun was up.
- Also, we never took a shower when the sun was down.
- Made sure we only did laundry between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and only one load per day.
- We went to bed early and got up early (this proved to be most productive).
- Always used battery-operated lanterns and book lights for evening reading.
- Made sure we unplugged everything — the coffee pot, the toaster, etc. – when not in use.
- We rarely used the microwave.
- Never left the TV on, and we used it sparingly.
I think the nicest thing about living on fewer watts is just the lifestyle that it dictates. You become much closer to nature and the rising and setting of the sun and much more aware of your surroundings. The changes that we made did not come naturally, and it did take time to grow accustomed to them. We were in a pretty good routine after about a month and had more than enough power for our day
I am convinced that the time living fully off-grid made me a more resourceful person, and I am anxiously awaiting another opportunity to leave the grid behind again!
How do you use less watts on your solar system? Share your tips in the section below:
Itchiness is a miserable symptom. Summer is the time for skin irritants such as insect bites, poison ivy, and poison oak. However, children may get chicken pox at any time of the year. Fortunately there are some easy home remedies that work very well to relieve itching and dry up lesions.
Unless the affected area is very small, such as one bee sting, I generally like to use both internal and external remedies.
There are some wild plants that can be picked, crushed, and immediately placed on the affected area. In a pinch, the herbs can even be chewed and placed directly on the skin, forming an herbal poultice.
Plants Can Relieve Itching
Jewelweed, also known as touch-me-not, is an excellent skin soother. Jewelweed is mucilaginous, so it is very cooling. In addition, if the flowers have gone to seed and the victim is a child, the child can be distracted from the affliction by holding the seedpods of the plant. The pods burst open when touched. Children tend to be amused by the mini explosions. Any part of the plant is useful, but the thick hollow stems are the best. Other mucilaginous choices are comfrey, plantain, chickweed, calendula, and cleavers.
I always keep good quality commercial witch hazel on hand. You can make your own by chopping up witch hazel root and covering it with alcohol. Shake it daily for at least two weeks, then strain. I find the commercial variety just as good as my homemade kind, however. (Witch hazel can be applied straight to hemorrhoids by the way. It is astringent and shrinks any areas of inflammation.)The hidden secrets of making herbal medicines…right at your fingertips!
Dried clay is clean and inexpensive. It keeps indefinitely. You can purchase it by mail or in natural food stores. Several kinds are available. The strongest and most drying are red or green clays. Bentonite and kaolin work well also. Bentonite and kaolin are less expensive and easier to find.
Oatmeal soothes Itching Naturally
Ordinary oatmeal is soothing, especially when added to a tepid bath. If putting oatmeal in the tub, either blend it into a fine powder with a blender or coffee grinder or tie it up into an old cloth so it does not cling the bather and the tub. Always use tepid or cool water when itching is a problem, as hot water can promote more itchiness.
Oils Help Relieve Itching
The Essential oil of peppermint is very strong, but very cooling. It must be diluted prior to using. Diluted tea tree oil may be used if open lesions are present or if the lesions are on a child. I have sometimes used it straight on myself. Both are antibacterial.
Recipe For Topical Natural Itch Relief
Here is a topical preparation to keep on hand. Blend ¾ cup dried clay with ¼ cup powdered oatmeal. Add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil. Keep in a jar in a cool dark place. When needed, combine the powder with enough witch hazel to make a thick paste. This is called a plaster. The plaster will feel cool and dry the lesions. Wash the area prior to applying the preparation. Gently pat dry, then apply to the irritated area as needed. Feel free to vary the recipe with whatever you have on hand. If peppermint oil is unavailable, you could add about 1 tablespoon of finely powdered dried peppermint leaf.
Tips To Help Relieve Itching
Try not to scratch the lesions. In the case of poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you could spread the rash. Use good hand-washing techniques.
Itching can make a person feel irritable and miserable all over. Chamomile, red clover, mint, or linden tea can be brewed and consumed freely as desired. Calendula flower may be added as well. Simply pour 1 quart of water over 4 heaping teaspoons of any one or combination of the herbs to make a soothing and tasty tea. If using fresh herbs, use a total of four tablespoons of plant matter. Let the tea steep covered for at least twenty minutes. Strain out and compost the herbs.
Inflammatory responses stress the liver. A decoction of burdock root, elecampane root, licorice root, sassafras bark, or dandelion root may be made by simmering four heaping teaspoons of the dried herbs in 1 quart of water. Strain and drink as above.
Meadowsweet herb, willow bark, and birch bark contain aspirin-like compounds that may help to soothe inflammation. Any of those herbs may be included in the tea blends as well.
Keep the diet simple. Avoid sweets and spicy foods. If the irritation is wide spread, encourage napping, as sleep may be disrupted. Keep the room temperature cool. Some people find that a fan is soothing. Drink lots of fluids.
See a health care practitioner if the irritation is widespread, on the face, or not improving. Consult with a health care provider prior to implementing home remedies for children under age two. Do not use any of suggested recipes in the eyes or on mucus membranes.
Even though itching is extremely uncomfortable, skin afflictions usually resolve completely. Home remedies can be effective treatments themselves or serve as adjuncts to conventional measures.
Do you have any other tips for all natural itch relief? Please share in the comments below.
The standard advice for feeding laying hens is simple: Just buy corn and layer mash. And if you’re primarily concerned with saving time and trouble, this is probably the right approach for you. But if you’re concerned with health and sustainability, you might consider another approach. Natural feeding can allow you to avoid pesticide-treated GMO corn. It also helps you make fuller use of your land’s resources in feeding your flock, and produces tastier, healthier eggs. We’ve been moving toward more natural feeding for several years, and so far we’ve been pleased with the results.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to natural feeding. This article lays out some basic natural food sources. Don’t worry about getting the proportions exactly right. Proportions matter if you’re feeding one pre-blended ration, but if you consistently offer your hens different types of whole foods, they can select what they need. Think about what you have available, mix and match to create your feeding program, and notice how it works for your hens. Make adjustments as needed.Outdoor Natural Feeding Pasture
Pasture provides chickens with greens, worms and bugs; it also may include seeds and fruits. Pasture can provide a substantial portion of your flock’s energy requirements. It also provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and those benefits get passed on to you; eggs from pasture-raised chickens are higher in omega-3 acids and some vitamins.[i] Foraging also keeps chickens occupied and makes them less likely to attack each other.
Fully free-ranging hens get the broadest nutritional boost from their extensive pasture.
They’re also quite vulnerable to predators, they may tear up your gardens, and they may hide their eggs where you can’t find them. Electro-net or other portable fencing allows chickens to range somewhat while providing a boundary.
Unless you clip your birds’ wings, they’ll be able to fly out. Hawks also can fly in. Chicken tractors of various kinds allow you to fully enclose chickens while still providing access to fresh pasture. The tractor must be moved frequently.Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer!
Our current chicken setup features a small A-frame yard with an open bottom which rotates around our chicken coop and chicken compost pile.Compost
Tractored chickens are likely to exhaust the bug and worm supply in their fenced yard fairly quickly. Compost piles are a good source for bugs and worms and also give chickens a chance to enjoy scratching while not destroying their fresh pasture. We throw weeds into the compost pile throughout the year; the chickens eat parts of them, and the rest rots down and provides habitat for red wigglers, sow bugs and many other chicken treats. We water the pile when it starts to dry out. Sometimes we also lay a board down over part of the pile for a day or two at a time; flipping the board always reveals a layer of sow bugs for the chickens to gobble.Supplements
Some people manage to raise laying hens entirely on compost and pasture. This works best if they have access to extensive piles and pastures. Many backyard growers will need to offer supplements, as we do.Grain
Seeds are a very compact and efficient source of energy. We still buy some grain to feed our chickens. Corn and soy are the basis of most commercial chicken feeds, but we avoid these because they are usually genetically modified. Many other seeds, including wheat, oats, millet, barley and sunflower seeds, are not commercially available in GMO forms. The grains are high in energy, relatively low in protein. Sunflower seeds are high in fats and proteins. We feed a mix of wheat, oats and sunflower seed ordered from the local feed mill.
Field peas are not genetically modified now, although that may be changing in the next few years. Lentils are non-GMO and expected to stay that way for some time, according to the website GMO Compass. Both are high in protein but not fatty like sunflower seeds. Our feed mill doesn’t carry these, so we’ve had to find other protein sources.Protein
Chickens need a high proportion of protein in their diets for health and good production. We’ve found several ways of supplementing protein with farm-raised inputs.
The pasture and compost provide some bugs and worms. Japanese beetles handpicked from our gardens are another good protein source; we collect them in a jug, pour them out into a shallow pan of water in the chicken yard, and watch the hens gobble them up. We’ve also given the hens minnows from our overstocked pond. Some poultry keepers raise red wiggler worms or soldier flies to supplement their hens’ diets.
Our chickens also get meat scraps. When we butcher rabbits, the hens get the offal. When we eat meat with bones in it the hens get the bones to pick.
Dairy products also work well for hens. They get the whey from our cheesemaking; usually we put it in a waterer and let them drink it, and sometimes we soak their grain in it. Cheeses that store too long and get too strong and sour for our taste also go to the hens.
Some poultry-keepers collect discarded food from delis or restaurants to feed their hens. This may contain a high proportion of meat and dairy products.Vegetable Supplements
We live in upstate New York, where the ground is frozen and covered in snow for several months each year. During the winter our chickens move off the pasture and into an enclosed coop. The yolks of their eggs turn noticeably paler, as they have a more restricted diet. We periodically feed them fodder pumpkins, weeds and limp leaves from the greenhouse, leftover baked potatoes (never feed raw potatoes!), and wheatgrass to provide variety, vitamins and minerals.
What advice would you add on feeding chickens an all-natural diet? Share your tips in the section below:
[i] Jeff Mulhollem, “Research shows eggs from pastured chickens may be more nutritious,” Penn State News, July 20, 2010 (https://news.psu.edu/story/166143/2010/07/20/research-shows-eggs-pastured-chickens-may-be-more-nutritious)
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While there are many ways to deal with pests, most have disadvantages for the off-the-grid gardener. The bright yellow sticky traps used to capture aphids, cucumber beetles, thrips and other pests are unsightly and unpleasant to dispose of and are not sustainable. Copper strips can be effective in repelling slugs and snails, but the installation of it can be labor intensive, and the copper must completely surround your plants and be exposed at all times (no mulch or loose soil can be allowed to cover them).
You can also handpick or vacuum insects. This is not 100 percent effective and can be impractical for a larger homestead garden.
Indiscriminate use of highly toxic pesticides may kill your pests, but it also destroys the delicate ecological balance of a successful organic garden. Worst of all, you could grow genetically modified crops, which have built-in pest deterrents but come with the all-too-high cost of increasing pests’ resistance to natural deterrents, sterilization of plants, and potential unknown health impacts on humans.
There is another way. For those of us living off the grid, and serious about self-sustainability and growing food to provide a major portion of our diet, a great solution is growing companion plants to repel insects. While there is no one magic plant that repels all pests, certain vegetables, herbs, and flowers will repel the pests that destroy other plants.
Here are examples, some of which are provided by Louise Riotte, a highly respected and successful organic gardener, decades before the term “organic gardening” came into existence.
Stop Garden Beetles With Radishes
These are my favorite pest-repelling plants. After they grow to maturity, you can eat the radish pods all during the summer.
To protect melons, squash and cucumbers from cucumber beetles, plant a few radishes around the base of each plant.
If spider mites are a problem for your tomatoes, sow a few radish seeds among your tomato plants.
Radishes in your corn plot may help repel corn borers. However, it may not be enough, and you may have to resort to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or other applications of organic pest control.
Stop Beetles With Tomatoes
While tomatoes are a favorite crop for both fresh eating and canning or freezing, they provide protection for a variety of plants against pests. The leaves of tomatoes contain solanine, a chemical unattractive to many insects.
One word of caution with tomatoes: Their roots provide excretions that can inhibit the growth of other plants. The Cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, turnips and many others). Potatoes and fennel do not grow well near tomatoes.
Stop Garden Beetles With Nasturtium
What’s this? Well, besides being hard to spell and harder to pronounce, this easy-to-grow, beautiful flower helps protect your garden from insects. However, it works differently than the other plants examined here. While radishes, tomatoes and the herbs and flowers discussed below repel garden beetles, nasturtium attracts them. In fact, aphids, flea beetles, and slugs love nasturtium. The strategy for nasturtium is to use it as a trap crop — in other words, a crop that diverts pests from your vegetable plants and sacrifices itself by letting the pests eat it rather than your plants. So instead of interplanting nasturtium, plant in near your other vegetables and then check it weekly to remove any heavily infested leaves.
Use nasturtium with care, until you find the right balance of too little or too much. Do you want to divert pests from your garden crops? Rather than simply have the nasturtium attract pests that would not otherwise visit your garden.
Other Herbs And Flowers
Herbs and flowers, in addition to repelling many pests in plants, bring beauty and diversity to a homestead garden. Here’s how they help common garden vegetables:
- Cabbage family – Although mint is invasive, it inhibits aphids, ants, flea beetles, white cabbage moths and even rabbits and rodents. Rosemary and sage discourage cabbage moths, while thyme deters cabbage worms. Scented marigolds (not Mexican marigolds) and garlic inhibit pests in general around the Cabbage family.
- Carrots and celery – Parsley, chives and sage ward off carrot flies.
- Corn – Geraniums inhibit Japanese beetles and cabbage worms.
- Beans – Summer savory repels bean beetles.
- Lettuce – Many herbs are beneficial for lettuce against pests. Mint acts against aphids and cabbage worms, sage inhibits slugs and cabbage moths, and dill and chervil repel aphids.
- Potatoes – If you have healthy potato plants and the next day you come back to nothing but skeletonized leaves, potato beetles have had a feast. It’s time to consider the following companion crops to combat them next year: beans, horseradish, catnip, and coriander.
- Tomatoes – Hornworms love to munch on tomato leaves. I’ve never had enough of them to do serious damage, and with an ultraviolet flashlight, they are easy to find on the plants. However, if you’ve experienced a problem in the past, try growing a few marigolds or petunias to inhibit hornworms.
In this modern world, we sometimes get caught up in technology and modern conveniences. While garden beetles can be controlled with synthetic pesticides or other methods initially discussed, sometimes Mother Nature’s way is the best. Interplanting crops with plants that deter the primary pest threat to the crop is a simple way of reducing pests in the garden.
The post Stop Summer Garden Beetles Without Using Chemicals appeared first on Off The Grid News.
We take care to keep ourselves moisturized throughout the long, hot days of summer, but how many of us remember to do the same for our plants? Most gardeners, either experienced or new, know you need to water your crops to allow them to grow, but the question of “how much,” or simply “how,” creates an even bigger question. These questions are all part of watering smart.
While sun and heat are both good for your vegetable plants, too much can destroy the well-deserved crop. Your vegetables will wilt, wither and dry up. Because of this, you will need to water when needed, but not overdo it. Some gardeners don’t have the time to devote to a regular watering routine, especially during dry weather. As a gardener, you will need to learn to anticipate your garden’s needs and priorities. Let’s take a look at this important topic of watering during the summer.
The whole idea of watering your garden, is to replicate the soaking action of the rain. Not just a sprinkle, but an honest amount of rain. The water needs to be able to reach the very ends of the roots.
Roots of any plant will change their growth patterns in response to wet or dry growing conditions. Plants will close their stomata to preserve moisture during dry times, and roots will grow closer to the surface when the ground is extremely wet so they can get more oxygen.Seamazing: The Low-Cost Way To Re-mineralize Your Soil
Smart watering saves on wasting time and, of course, saves water. There are ways to conserve water, while making sure the garden gets the moisture it needs. Keep in mind that freshly planted seeds need extra care and water. Cover them with burlap or flower pots on those really hot summer days.
Here are some ideas for keeping your garden hydrated during the hotter months.
Ideas for Wise Watering
1. Know your soil.
you have a garden with a lot of clay, remember that water will filter through very slowly. At least once a week you should give the garden and vegetables a good, deep soak. If you have ground that is more sandy, then water will go through it pretty quickly; you will have to soak more often. A deep soak twice a week should be good in this situation. Gardens in full sun will obviously dry out faster than those gardens situated in partly sunny to shady areas.
Mulch can be used around any plant, tree or shrub. It maintains moisture in the soil and creates a barrier between the plant and sun. Mulch also controls the soil temperature, giving protection to the roots. In simple terms, mulch controls and prevents inconsistent levels of moisture and temperature in the soil.
3. Longer watering, less often.
Instead of watering each day for short periods of time, it is better to space out your watering, and when you water, do it for longer. You want the water to saturate, but not flood, the soil. Having the water soak deep into the ground is better than giving a quick water to wet the soil. By watering longer, but less frequently, the water can soak down through the soil into the roots.
4. Keep the weeds under control.
Try to keep an eye on weeds, and get rid of them as soon as possible. Weeds will absorb the water and nutrients meant for your vegetable plants.
Wise gardeners say the best times to water are in the morning or evening. The middle of the day is usually the hottest, and if you water plants during that time the water will evaporate very quickly, reducing moisture for the plants.
6. Use compost.
Compost can be used along with mulch or on its own. Not only does compost encourage healthy plant growth and nutrients, but it also absorbs and holds water.
A Final Thought on Effective Watering
If you don’t have a hose or watering can, try using an empty jug for gradual watering. Make small holes in the jug’s bottom edges. Place it (you may need more than one jug) in an area by your plants. When you fill the jug with water, the moisture will soak slowly into the soil by the roots.
Just like us, our gardens need to keep moisture levels just right to grow their best. Whether you have an abundance of time or just enough to keep your garden going, make sure you water wisely. Your garden will thank you.
What are your best watering tips? Share them in the section below:
The post Watering Your Garden Wisely: Keep Your Garden Hydrated This Summer appeared first on Off The Grid News.
Protecting your home is a Constitutional right. Now more than ever, people are exercising that right across America. That’s because there has been a rise in gang-related activity throughout the southeast coast of the United States. Due to this rapid growth in violence, the best way to exercise your 2nd Amendment right to protect your family is to get one of the 5 best home defense shotguns for 2019.
Why a shotgun for home defense? Shotguns are:
- Easy to control
With 5,000 unaccompanied minors flooding in from Central America, the gang MS-13 has taken these lost souls under the wing. Now, crime has exploded from Northern Virginia all the way up to Boston. Let’s take a look at the 5 best home defense shotguns for 2019.
What makes the Mossberg 5901 so effective is that it is a military-grade gun. It comes with night-sight, which is ideal for those late night break-ins. You don’t want to accidentally harm your own family which you are trying desperately to protect.
Mossberg does have your family’s protection in mind as it has two extractors on the bolt. Also, the you can fix the ejector by just removing it with a screwdriver. So, there’s no need for a gunsmith.
Ergonomically, this is an easy gun to handle and maneuver around with. The slide release and safety are all within reach of the shooting hand. Shaving those seconds off the time it takes to save your family gets the Mossberg comfortably in the top five home defense shotguns for 2019.
The Classic Remington 870
In terms of sturdiness, the Remington won’t get nicked up and is less likely to become damaged than the Mossberg. This is due to the fact that the Remington is made out of steel. Whereas it’s peer in the top 5 best home defense shotguns for 2019 is crafted out of alloy.
That’s about where Remington’s superiority comes to a screeching halt. This gun only has one extractor. Additionally, the ejector is riveted. So, if it wears out, it’s not an easy fix.
Okay, so we may have saved the best of the 5 best home-defense shotguns for 2019…for 3rd. The Benelli is a pretty sweet shotgun. With just the twist of a ring, the Benelli M3 can go from a semi-automatic to a pump action shotgun.
When a troop of gang members are breaking into your home, this is a handy feature. The simplicity of switching back and forth can have a huge impact on your family’s survival from an MS-13 attack.
Benelli M3 is built to last. Moreover, this shotgun can also make for a nice family heirloom to pass down to the same children you have protected.
Hatsan Escort Aimguard
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, then this is the gun for you from this list of 5 best home defense shotguns for 2019. It’s inexpensive but durable.
What’s nice about the Escort Aimguard is its easy-to-use for all family members. With either a 7+1 20-inch barrel or 5+1 18-inch barrel, it’s easy to maneuver for those with short arms as well.
Mossberg SPX 930
You can’t go wrong with the Mossberg name, as it pops up yet again on the list of 5 best home defense shotguns for 2019. It is an extremely reliable shotgun. Some of its most popular features are the sling swivels and Picatinny rail. These features make it easy to swoop into action and procure your weapon, especially if the MS-13 were to bring their havoc into your neighborhood.
The Mossberg SPX also has a low recoil. This is ideal for a middle of the night attack. If you are still a bit groggy and in a rush, having the kickback under control can help ease the stress of the situation.Which Of The 5 Best Home Defense Shotguns For 2019 Is For You?
Now that you know what the top 5 best home defense shotguns for 2019 are, which is the best for you? First of all, you need to do your research. Things to take into consideration are:
Everyone’s needs are different. A single mother looking to protect her family needs a different shotgun than a retired man who might use it to go game hunting later. Whichever scenario is yours, you now have the 5 best home defense shotguns of 2019 to choose from.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 4 Shotgun Accessories For A Better Home Defense
Or download our free 28-page report on the ultimate guide to extreme self defense: Survival Shotgun
What are some additional shotguns for home defense in 2019 that may not have made this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Every novice gardener has done it — picked too early or waited too long to harvest their vegetables. Even experienced gardeners have been known to let excitement get the better of them when they see that first tomato turning red on the vine.
Since late summer and early fall is prime harvesting time, it is a good idea to go over some harvesting basics and give a few guidelines for the best time to harvest certain vegetables:
Yes, it is tempting to pick these as soon as you see that they are red, but for the best quality and flavor, try leaving them on the plant for 5-8 days after they have gained full color. Then, at the end of the season, you’ll want to pick all the fruit before the first frost, regardless of ripeness. You can enjoy the classic “fried green tomatoes” or let them ripen indoors.
Zucchini will get huge if you let it – but don’t let it. These are best to pick when they are smaller and more tender. The ideal size is around 1 ½ inches in diameter and between 4-8 inches long.
If you’re hoping for a few larger zucchinis at the end of the season, don’t worry – there always seems to be a few hiding that you don’t find until they have become rather robust.
Young leaf lettuce can be harvested pretty much as soon as it has reached the size you’d like to have it. If you are waiting for more mature and larger leaves, then harvest when they are between 4-6 inches long. For head lettuce, pick when the heads become somewhat firm but before they have formed seed stalks.
Carrots can be a little tricky for some gardeners, since you cannot see what is happening with them under the soil. Examine the tops and harvest when the diameter is between ¼ to 1 inch. In order to get the best and sweetest flavor, try waiting until there has been a light frost. Be careful as you harvest, because bruising on this root vegetable can cause it to develop soft rot when it is in storage.
The tops of beetroots will begin to emerge as they become ready for harvest. Pick when they are between 1 ¼ to 2 inches in diameter.
6. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts should be harvested when the small heads reach between 1 – 1 ½ inches in diameter. They are easily picked by holding and twisting. In order to speed up the maturation of this vegetable, remove the lower leaves along the stem.
For broccoli, you want to time it so that you harvest it when it has a nice big flower head but before any of the flowers have started to open. Cut the plant approximately seven inches below the head. Once the main head has been harvested, side heads will develop.
When the curds have reached 2-3 inches in diameter, cover them by loosely tying the head into surrounding leaves. Cauliflower heads should be picked when they have reached full size but are still smooth and white.
Peppers can be harvested green or ripe, depending on the flavor that you want. If harvesting green, wait until the fruits are full sized and are firm to the touch.
For ripe (red, yellow, orange or purple) peppers, simply wait until they have reached their full color (generally about 2-3 weeks after reaching full size).
10. Sweet corn
You know that summer is in its apex when sweet corn starts to appear in farmers’ markets and at summer barbeque parties. If you are growing corn yourself, the time to pick it is when the silks have turned brown and dry and the kernels are completely filled. You can determine this by pressing on the husk with your thumbnail.
Watermelons should be harvested when they have reached full size – but given the variety of sizes that these tasty summer fruits can come in, how do you know it’s time? Gently turn the fruit and examine the spot where it contacts the ground. If this spot is a cream or yellow color, it means that your watermelon is ready to be harvested.
12. Winter squash
Unlike the summer varieties of squash such as zucchini, the rind of a winter squash should be firm and not easily penetrated by your fingernail. The point where the squash makes contact with the ground should be cream to orange colored depending on the variety that you are growing. If you are picking squash to be put in storage, leave about 2-3 inches of the vine at the top – this will help prevent rot. While these garden vegetables are hardy and can withstand a light frost, they should be picked before there is a heavy one.
What harvesting advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
The post ‘When Should I Pick It?’ — Vegetable Harvesting Essentials appeared first on Off The Grid News.
Fermented foods: the words bring up images of sauerkraut and kimchi along with other pungent morsels. But if you haven’t given it much more thought than that, well, perhaps you should.
Fermentation is a great way to preserve food without the use of canning pots and freezers. It’s also loaded with additional benefits that other forms of preservation just don’t give you.
What Is Fermentation?
Fruits and vegetables naturally carry a beneficial bacteria known as lactobacilli. It’s one of the same types that you can find in cultured dairy products such as yogurt. Fermentation occurs when you submerge a fruit or vegetable in brine. After this, the lactobacilli will then begin to eat the natural sugar and essentially convert it into alcohol. Additionally, while the good bacteria are growing in number, they’re inhibiting putrefying bacteria that would otherwise cause the food to rot. The number of helpful bacteria will increase and they will produce enzymes. They will also produce other substances which have antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Many cultures have employed this process since ancient times. The Ancient Greeks understood that an important chemical change took place during lacto-fermentation. They called it “alchemy.”
What Are The Benefits Of Fermented Food?
Perhaps the biggest benefit of consuming fermented food is its ability to boost your immune system. Scientists estimate that somewhere between 80-90 percent of your immune function happens in your gut. When “bad” bacteria overrun your intestines, you get sick. Adding a few spoonfuls of sauerkraut to your sandwich is like sending a small army of good bacteria to fight off the bad.
The bacteria from lacto-fermentation also helps to aid in digestion and may even help you to absorb certain nutrients more easily.
Finally, it is the only form of preservation that not only does not destroy certain nutrients, but it actually increases some. It is food that is high in digestive enzymes, B vitamins, omega 3s as well as lactase and lactic acid, which fend off harmful bacteria.
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Furthermore, good health is not the only benefit – these foods are also incredibly easy on your pocketbook. Not only are fermented foods inexpensive, but you can make them very easily yourself. When you find that you’ve got more cabbage (or just about any other veggie) than your family is going to eat fresh, it’s a simple matter to ferment it yourself.
Purchasing Fermented Foods
While making fermented foods is an easy do-it-yourself project, there may be times when you’ll want to buy it from your local grocery store.
If you’re going to go for the store-bought variety, select something from the refrigerated section. Fermented food is full of living organisms that need to be kept cool in order to stay alive. Make sure the label does not say “pasteurized.” This would mean that those companies have heated and killed all those wonderful bacteria in their products.
Also, if purchasing a fermented soy product such as a miso, tempeh, or soy sauce, consider looking for one with an “organic” or “non-GMO verified” label. This is because soy is one of the worst offenders for being genetically modified.
Making Your Own Fermented Foods
If you’ve never made your own fermented foods before, it’s worth giving a try. It is perhaps the easiest method of preservation and it does not require any special equipment. Beets, radishes, green beans, and onions all work well. But if this is your very first time, try starting out by making sauerkraut as it’s the easiest.
To make your own sauerkraut, simply wash and shred your cabbage and put it into a sealable container such as a mason jar. (Use a bigger one than you think you’ll need as it might bubble over during the fermentation process if you don’t). Now cover it with salt. That’s it! The salt will draw out the water in the cabbage and combine with it to form a brine. You may need to put some type of weight on the cabbage in order to keep it submerged.
Now keep your jar at a cool temperature – either in a cold cellar or in the refrigerator. The fermentation process will take about three days for a quart-sized jar. You’ll know when it’s ready by tasting it every couple of days. You’ll probably see some bubbles and a substance that looks like a white foam or scum. Nonetheless, this is normal and you can skim it off. If you expose any cabbage to the air it could get some mold, but this will not ruin the submerged cabbage in any way. Simply remove any moldy bits and enjoy your creation on a sausage, sandwich, or all on its own.
There are so many reasons why you should incorporate fermented foods into your diet. It’s healthy, inexpensive, and a great method of preservation. It’s also super easy to do yourself. Why not get started by making your own batch of sauerkraut today? From there, experiment with other vegetables and enjoy all of the benefits that these foods have to offer.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Vinegar-Based Fruit Juices Ben Franklin Drank As Medicine On Hot Summer Days
What are your favorite fermented foods? Share them and any tips in the comments below.
The post The Time-Tested, Hidden Benefits Of Fermented Foods appeared first on Off The Grid News.
In our household, canning food saves a great deal of money. We grow most of our own produce in our little front-yard garden and then we “put up” as much of it as possible, which is pretty much everything we don’t eat fresh right out of the garden. To can enough produce to last us all fall and winter long, we supplement our own garden with bushels of fruits and vegetables we get at our local farmers market, or from local farmers we trust.
Even though it’s a lot of work, I enjoy canning and preserving food for several reasons. First and foremost, canning allows me to know what is in our food, and most of all, what’s NOT in it. I don’t have to worry about toxins, excess sugar, preservatives and other things our family would rather avoid in our diet. Canning also allows me to store food and feed my family for a fraction of the cost. I can feed our family better quality food for cents on the dollar, compared to what I would get at the grocery store … even with coupons.
Canning food allows me to build up an emergency stockpile of food for my family. Whether it is a minor emergency or something much worse, I don’t have to worry about my family missing a meal. We always have food on our shelves, even when the paycheck is slim. That is a very comforting feeling in an ever-changing world.
Overwhelmed? Start small.
Canning food is not complicated. If you can follow directions, you can preserve food. It’s really that easy. And contrary to popular belief, canning is not expensive. There is an initial investment, yes, but the cost is recovered very quickly. Once you gather the basic supplies, you’re all set for many years to come.
Beginning canners often feel overwhelmed. The best way to learn how to can and preserve your food is to take baby steps and start simply.
Step 1: Buy a canning book.
The Ball Blue Book is an excellent book. I have used the same Ball Blue Book for over 12 years, and my grandmother’s copy is probably 50 years old! The book is full of tutorials, recipes and information that will benefit both beginning and advanced canners alike. Best of all? The Ball Blue Book is extremely affordable, and unless you lose it or give it away, you’ll never need to buy another one.
Step 2: Beg, borrow, barter or buy your basic canning equipment.
There are only a few “must have” items for water-bath canning. Most of them can be bought inexpensively, and often you can find everything in one nice set. Some of them you probably already own. You’ll need:
- A water bath canner. This is a large stockpot with a rack that fits snugly inside. The rack is necessary to keep your jars from breaking or exploding. (Don’t try to can in a stockpot you have at home without a rack. Jars can explode without the rack.) If you already have the stockpot, the rack can be purchased separately, just make sure it fits your pot.
- Canning jars, lids and bands. You can use used canning jars and bands, but always use new lids. Most canners want a selection of half-pints, pints or quart jars for most of their canning needs. Always use dedicated canning jars as they are strong glass jars made especially for canning. I advise against using recycled glass jars from store-bought spaghetti sauce, mayonnaise, and so on as they are not as thick and durable.
- When canning you’ll need plenty of dishtowels, dishcloths and pot holders. A few saucepans, measuring cups, spoons, and a timer will be necessary as well. Odds are you already have these items if you cook at all.
The following equipment is nice to have when canning food, but not necessary:
- Jar lifter – makes the chore of getting your jars in and out of hot water easier.
- Magnetic lid wand – helps you remove lids out of hot water, one by one.
- Plastic knife or tool for removing air bubbles from your jars.
- Large mouth canning funnel – I almost listed this one as a “must-have” because it comes in so handy! Makes packing jars cleaner and easier.
Step 3: You are now ready to try water bath canning. Pick a recipe!
There are two basic groups of foods you can process at home: high-acid foods and low-acid foods. High-acid foods include tomatoes, most fruits, jams and jellies, pickles, salsas, and most relishes. High-acid foods can be canned in a boiling hot water bath and are great for beginning canners. Low-acid foods, like green beans, require the use of a pressure canner. While pressure canning is not hard to learn, it is not recommended for the first-time canner. Get your feet wet with high-acid foods and master water bath canning before you move on to low-acid foods and pressure canning.
Pick a recipe from your canning book to try. Tomatoes, salsa, applesauce and homemade jam are a few recipes that are easiest for first-time canners to try and master.
Step 4: Follow the instructions for canning food to the letter.
Even as a veteran, I still follow the instructions very closely when I’m canning food. Food safety is just too important to mess around with. It is especially important for new canners to pay attention to the steps in a canning recipe. You should not skip any step. You may be tempted to skip over the process of getting your jars or lids hot, but this is very important and should not be missed. Pay attention to processing times. Do not cut them short, but do not go over the recommended processing time as this can “cook” your food and may result in broken jars or spoiled food.
If you follow these instructions and follow your canning recipes exactly, you will be successful with canning. Sure, there may be a few bumps along the way, but you’ll learn from your mistakes. I’ve been canning for many years and recently had a jar to explode in the bath, for no apparent reason (it probably had a miniscule crack I couldn’t see). Things happen. You just have to try it!
If you spend any time in the outdoors, you could certainly get lost. You need some survival items when you’re lost and desperate, like when you spend time in the outdoors beyond your own back 40 – assuming that you are blessed and have a back 40! There is always a chance that you could lose your way. Now, if you live east of the Mississippi River, there are really only a few locations where you can lose direction for a long time and be in danger. Places such as the rugged Appalachian Mountains, New York’s Adirondacks, or perhaps the great north woods are a few that come to mind. Head west past the Mississippi and the possibilities of danger only get bigger, as does the land. In places like these, you’ll definitely need some survival items when you’re lost and desperate.
But be it the Appalachians or the Rockies, lost is still lost. And you can die just as easily in the East as you can out West if you head off into the woods without any preparation. Hypothermia, dehydration, falls, predators, outlaws, starvation, venomous snakes, and disease can all kill you. So can drowning, lightning, and avalanches. In truth, the forests of North America can be very dangerous, especially if you have no outdoor experience.
Besides keeping a level head, be sure you enter the woods with at least a basic survival kit/bug-out bag. Here is what I keep in mine:
Survival Items When You’re Lost And Desperate
Your cheaply made $5 pocket knife is not a survival tool. A good, strong knife with either a fixed blade or a locking main blade is an indispensable tool in the woods and wilds. You will always need to cut things, so make sure you never leave home with a dull knife. A multi-tool such as a Leatherman should also go with you, even stowed away in a day pack. Some great knife brands to consider are Buck USA, Gerber, Ka-Bar, Benchmade, and Case. I personally always carry my Ka-Bar USMC knife whenever I am going into the wilderness. I can cut rope with it and I use it as a light-duty pry bar. If needed, I could also use it for self-defense. In addition, I have a Buck folder knife at all times clipped on my pocket.
2. Water Purification
You need a means to purify water. Ideally, you’ll have two methods. A water filtration pump system, iodine tablets, or even a metal container to boil water are all viable methods. You don’t want to be a host for a parasite, so filter up!
3. Fire Starter
Don’t even enter the woods unless you know how to build a fire. I’m not talking about building a bonfire on a sunny day with a box of matches. Learn how to build a fire with a fire starter, such as a magnesium fire starter, a ferro (ferrocerium) rod with a dependable metal striker, or Swedish fire steel. Never head off into the wilds without two or preferably three methods to light a fire. Windproof and waterproof matches are great but you should never rely upon them as a primary fire ignition tool. Practice until you are proficient at constructing a fire, even with damp wood and without matches. It is shocking to know how many people have to master this basic skill. If you are one of those folks, you’d be wise to learn now. (Read how to start a fire without matches.)
It’s not a three-course meal, but I always keep six energy bars in my pack. Emergency calorie bars made by Mayday or Datrex (or a host of other brands) are a great option. Each bar is high in calories and companies have designed them to give a starving person 1,200 calories a day. You also can make your own high-calorie bars. If you want a little meat, a bag of beef jerky is a great option to add to energy bars.
5. 100 Feet Of Paracord
You can use this cord for building a shelter, making a splint, lowering yourself off a ledge, and a gazillion other tasks. The 550 paracord is an indispensable item for your pack. (Read: 17 amazing survival uses for paracord.)6. Poncho
Keeps you warm and dry when things are not warm and dry. You can also use a poncho as a shelter, as a part of a shelter, or to gather rainwater. Never leave home without a poncho.
Some extra clothing, if practical. Always throw in a couple extra pairs of wool or polypropylene socks, and maybe an extra undershirt. Having a warm fleece or thermal shirt in case things get chilly can save your life.
An old-fashioned army compass never leaves my pack (unless I need it). Learn how to use one, as you need to know more than just which way is north. Learn to take a compass bearing and use a map if you don’t know these things already.
9. Signaling Device
A whistle or even a mirror needs to go in the pack as well. You can use a signaling device for signal rescue (unless you don’t anyone to find you), or you can signal others in your party (mirror). I keep a whistle, a few flares, and a mirror. You can use flares to light a fire in bad conditions.
10. First Aid Kit
This admittedly takes up the most room in my pack. I also built my own to deal with heavy trauma, blood loss, broken bones, and a variety of other wilderness emergency scenarios. Don’t scrimp here, custom outfit your own or buy a really good kit. It is one of the most essential survival items when you’re lost and desperate.
11. Folding Saw
Knives are great, but at times you will need to cut more than rope. You don’t want to dull out your knife, which you shouldn’t employ for a larger task. I keep a folding saw in my pack. If you don’t have one, get one for your pack.
Other Survival Items When You’re Lost And Desperate
I never leave home without a few other things:
Firearm: I always, whenever I leave my house and especially in the wilderness, have a firearm. Most of the time it is my Glock 19 9mm. I carry the pistol and two extra magazines for a total of 46 rounds, and I usually have extra rounds in the pack (25-50 rounds). During hunting season, I arm myself even more heavily.
Pocket Bible: To me, perhaps the most important item I keep on me as one of the key survival items when you’re lost and desperate.
Emergency Fishing Equipment: Enough small gear to catch a trout with patience, or put out a couple trotlines.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 10 Life-Saving Survival Items You Can Buy At The Dollar Store
Would you like to add something to the list of survival items when you’re lost and desperate? Share them in the comments below.
The post The 11 Most Important Survival Items When You’re Lost And Desperate appeared first on Off The Grid News.
Many old health remedies are defined by folklore, myth and the varying claims of natural healers across the centuries. Beyond the claims, however, studies have shown that certain natural remedies actually can provide effective relief for illness and disease.
Here are seven of the best natural remedies that have stood the test of time.1. Honey
The first recorded use of honey as a medicinal treatment was 3,000 years ago in Egypt. Since then, honey has been found to:
- Improve digestion – Use a tablespoon or two to counteract indigestion.
- Relieve nausea – Mix honey with ginger and lemon juice to help counteract nausea.
- Treat acne – It can be used as a face cleanser to fight off acne and is gentle on all skin types. Take half a teaspoon, warm between hands and spread on face gently. Leave on for 10 minutes, and then rinse with warm water and pat dry.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Image source: Pixabay.comImprove circulation – Raw honey makes your brain function optimal by strengthening the heart and improving blood circulation.
- Reduce insomnia – Add a tablespoon to warm milk to help increase melatonin output and help you sleep.
- Provide probiotic support – Raw honey is full of natural probiotics which promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- Treat allergies – If sourced locally, raw honey can help reduce seasonal allergies.
- Moisturize skin – A spoonful of raw honey mixed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon can be used as a hydrating lotion.
- Treat eczema – Use it as a topical mixture of equal parts of honey and cinnamon.
- Reduce inflammation – Raw honey has anti-inflammatory agents that can treat respiratory conditions such as asthma.
- Help wounds heal – Raw honey used topically can help speed healing time for mild burns, wounds, rashes and abrasions.
- Treat urinary tract infections – Due to its antibacterial properties.
- Relieve sore throat – Mix with lemon or peppermint oil for fast acting benefits or add to tea
2. Licorice Root
Native people often chewed the entire root raw, the roots of the licorice plant when dried and chopped can be made into a tea.
Licorice root has been found to help the following:
- Digestive ailments – Add one teaspoon of powdered licorice root to a cup of hot water. Cover, steep for 10 minutes, and strain. Drink two or three times a day for a week.
- Respiratory infections – Drink a few cups of licorice root tea every day. You also can mix ½ teaspoon of licorice powder with a little honey.
- Canker sores – Due to anti-inflammatory and mucosa-healing properties.
- Liver health – Drink a cup of licorice root tea to promote liver health. Add ½ teaspoon of licorice root to a cup of hot water. Cover, steep for five to 10 minutes, and strain. Drink this tea once daily for a week, take a break for a couple of weeks, and then repeat.
- Teeth and gums – The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in licorice root can prevent the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, reduce plaque, fight bad breath and keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy.
Willow bark contains salicin, which is the active ingredient in aspirin. Salicin is a proven pain reliever and is anti-inflammatory. To use willow bark, cut a three-inch-by-three-inch chunk of willow bark out of a willow tree. All willows will work but white willow has the highest concentration of salicin.
Scrape and cut the inner bark (xylem) onto a pan or plate. Look for a pink color – that’s the good stuff. Wrap in a coffee filter (of other similar filter) and immerse into boiling water. Shut off the heat and let steep for 20 minutes. You should get a reddish, brown infusion.
Strain it again and take sparingly at first (a tablespoon at a time) until symptoms subside.4. Apple cider vinegar
Books have been written about the value and extensive uses of apple cider vinegar. It has been used to treat osteoporosis, leg cramps and pain, upset stomach, sore throat, sinus congestion, high blood pressure, arthritis and high cholesterol.
It also is known to help with weight loss, and it adds valuable nutrients and micronutrients to your diet. These include soluble fiber in the form of pectin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, beta-carotene, lycopene and minerals such as sodium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.
Apple cider vinegar is an antiseptic with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, too. That’s because all vinegars have acetic acid in concentrations from five to 10 percent. Use it for cleaning wounds or for general cleaning where germs may lurk.5. Echinacea root
Native Americans have known about the healing properties of Echinacea or the purple cone flower for centuries. At times, the flowers were infused in tea, but it’s the roots that pack the healing punch.
What’s been determined in clinical studies is that the antioxidant properties in the roots boost the immune system. As a result, it is a standard treatment for colds and flu in the tribal medicine chests.
To make an Echinacea tincture, you’ll need a small one-pint mason jar, a ½ cup of dried Echinacea root, and a pint of vodka. The alcohol in the vodka draws out key elements in the roots and preserves the tincture. I imagine Native Americans used hot water, but some contemporary recipes have indicated vodka as an effective ingredient for an infusion.
To make the tincture, add the roots to the jar, top with the vodka and seal the jar. Store at room temperature for six weeks, shaking the jar from time to time.
After six weeks, strain the tincture and discard the roots. The standard dosage is ½ to ¾ teaspoons, three to four times a day. You can add it to orange juice or other juice if you like. You don’t want to give this to kids if you made it with vodka, but the alcohol actually prevents the growth of bacteria in the tincture.6. Beet juice
Some recent and significant clinical studies have confirmed something our ancestors knew all along. Raw beet juice can have a significant effect on blood pressure. In fact, one study found that after consuming eight ounces of raw beet juice, blood pressure dropped five points after one hour. In a study done in England, two glasses of raw beet juice a day were found to be as effective as nitrate tablets in treating hypertension.
It appears that some key elements in beets are responsible. These include high concentrations of potassium, foliates and natural nitrites. Collectively, they smooth muscle tissue and increase blood flow, in addition to supporting blood vessel function.
Keep in mind that fresh, raw beet juice is best. Bottled or pre-packaged beet juice is not as effective. If you don’t have a juicer, then you can use a blender and strain the juice. I’ll sometimes use the leftover pulp to make borscht.7. Aloe
Aloe is another one of those old health remedies that goes back thousands of years. The Egyptians called it the “plant of immortality.” It’s a succulent plant and a member of the cactus family. It was used by Native American tribes particularly in the Southwest deserts, where it thrived.
Aloe will grow in many parts of North America and can easily be grown as a houseplant. Its gelatinous pulp is often used as a treatment for burns and other skin conditions. It has been shown to have antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and antioxidant properties.
Aloe also has high amounts of vitamins and minerals, and can be consumed with juice and some of the squeezed pulp. It contains eight essential amino acids not made by our bodies, plus a range of enzymes.
The following is a short list of conditions it can be used to treat:External use as a pulp squeezed from the plant leaves:
- Herpes sores
- Poison ivy
- Insect stings
- Athlete’s foot
- Acid reflux
- Peptic ulcers
- Prostate health
- Immune system support
It was difficult to pick only seven natural remedies for this list, when you consider the healing properties of garlic, turmeric, ginger and numerous others. But given the number of benefits we’ve listed here, this is a good start. Stay well.
What old-fashioned remedies would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:
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If you are interested in alternative therapies, it is likely that you have come across products containing silver.
Not only is pure colloidal silver an effective agent against powerful superbugs, but scientists have also proven it to be useful against the following:
- Yeast infections
- Athlete’s foot
While the use of silver to treat serious pathogens is nothing new, it is important to know what you are purchasing before you begin.
When it comes to such products, there has been some confusion because there are actually three types of silver products that you can purchase. The confusion happens because various companies sell all of these as actual colloidal silver when only one truly is.
Like the lax food labeling regulations we experience today, this labeling chaos has led to problems. When purchasing colloidal silver, it is paramount that you get only true colloidal silver.
Here is a brief overview of the different types of silver products. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of a health professional when choosing the best colloidal silver for you.Ionic Silver Solutions
Most commercial “colloidal” silver products are actually ionic silver solutions. These are the least expensive to manufacture. Furthermore, ionic solutions are normally clear in color or a slight bit yellow. Although the manufacturers of these products state that “clear” is best, this is not the case.
You can test if your product is a solution by adding some table salt to it. If the solution is ionic, the chloride ions will join with the silver ions and the solution will become white and cloudy.
Ionic silver contains a lower percentage of silver particles and is not nearly as beneficial as true colloidal silver. Although ionic silver has potent anti-microbial potential, this is hampered by the presence of chloride — such as that which is in your body.
Ionic silver solutions are generally thought to be safe as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
What Are Silver Proteins?
Silver products that contain silver proteins can be highly dangerous and you should avoid them. To keep the silver particles suspended, these products use a protein binder. A good giveaway that it is a silver protein product is if the manufacturer makes the claim that it has a very high amount of colloidal silver in it — anywhere from 20 to 30,000 ppm. The product will also foam when shaken and will be a golden yellow to even dark brown/black in color. The silver in these products is totally useless because the body can’t access it.
Warning: The concentration of silver is very high in these products and can create a condition (Argyria) that causes the skin to turn blue/gray in color.
What Is True Colloidal Silver?
Because they are expensive to produce, you will see very few completely pure or true colloidal silver products. Pure colloidal silver contains 50 to 80 percent silver particles with the rest being silver ions.
The particles in true colloidal silver keep the light from passing through, and this makes the color appear to be darker. It will not be clear. Moreover, there are no known dangers from consuming true colloidal silver.What Scientific Research Says
Science is now validating what many have known for a long time about true colloidal silver — that it is a powerful, natural antibiotic. Research shows that true colloidal silver can even take care of antibiotic-resistant microbes including MRSA, Human Coronavirus (SARS), and Avian Influenza.
As far back as the early 1900s, Alfred Searle, who founded Searle Pharmaceutical Company, learned that liquid colloidal silver could kill even the most deadly of pathogens. He found great success in giving colloidal silver to humans because it kills microbes without harming the host. In addition, he learned that it protected rabbits completely when they were given 10 times the lethal dose of tetanus.
In the mid-1970s, Dr. Robert O. Becker at Syracuse Medical University conducted some significant research into colloidal silver, confirming that silver kills bacteria fast. All the organisms that he tested were sensitive to the electrically generated silver ion; this included some that were resistant to all antibiotics. In light of the increase in antibiotic-resistant bugs today, this is very good news.
More recent research also validates the strength of colloidal silver.
A study published in the journal Current Science in 2006 discovered that when antibiotic drugs that had become ineffective in treating drug-resistant pathogens were combined with a pure silver solution, they regained their potency.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Colloids Surface B Biointerfaces found that even using colloidal silver alone knocked out MRSA as well as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, another deadly superbug.How You Can Use Colloidal Silver At Home
Here are a few ways you can use colloidal silver at home:
- Spray on burns to prevent infection and to speed healing without scarring
- Take a small amount daily to boost your immune system
- Put a few drops in ears to prevent infection
- Apply topically to ease symptoms of yeast infection
- Speed healing of herpes, warts, or ringworm by dabbing a little on the affected area
- Speak to your veterinarian about how it can also help your pets
Note: It is always best to speak with a professional healthcare practitioner before using colloidal silver to be sure that you are using the real thing. For more information on using products containing silver safely, visit the Silver Safety Council website.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Using Cinnamon And Ginseng To Slow Up Type II Diabetes
What are your colloidal silver tips? Share them in the comments section below.
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