Let’s Start To Get Serious Now!

confusion  One of the toughest decisions we face as a “prepper” is the decision of what we are prepping for. I personally suspect we will face some major economic calamities that will then bring about a domino effect of other problems and situations. It will pretty much allow any other opportunists to take advantage of the situation meaning possible gangs running rampant, racial tensions to explode, foreign government  interferences, wars, rumors of wars, etc. Throw in climate upheavals and maybe an EMP of natural or not natural causes. The list can go on and on. So I started trying to be ready for hurricanes (I live in Florida ya know.) and then started becoming fearful of economic crashes. I’m already balancing a tightrope walk with finances so it wouldn’t take much to destroy us there. And gosh – I am sooooo lazy! I can’t stand the thought of giving up all my nice gadgets and toys! And hey! I LOVE reading all my Nook and Kindle books – I literally have thousands saved to one device or another. Come to think of it, I’m kinda a game freak on Facebook too. Sighhhhhhhh

Are you getting a drift of what I am suggesting? I’m a real person who enjoys life in the moment but suddenly realized I had almost no idea how to focus on what I prep when. Well — that was who I was only a few years ago. Very shortly after I began worrying about all this I realized I had to stop and think about whom I really am and what I hoped to accomplish. This led me to see that I was making mistakes in my prepping that many and probably all new preppers make: the scatter shot approach to prepping and storage. It meant I had to face up to my shortcomings in this area and become a more focused person in what I hoped to accomplish.

tinfoil hat       I often make friends in the prepper community laugh when I say tin foil hats are not a good fashion statement and I am not looking forward to zombie hordes that I have to fight off with the biggest cannon I can legally purchase online anonymously. (NSA – I am a total waste of your time and energy!)  So I had to decide how to go about this mess. Easiest plan for me was to realize I have four adult sons who are personal fitness buffs, – two Black Belts, 4 fishermen, 3 hunters, etc. My husband also is an experienced hunter and fisherman. He possesses a wealth of knowledge on how to do things having grown up in post WWII Italy on a farm. Therefore I decided to let the men of my family be men. I turned myself to concentrating on the areas I am best suited to take care of.

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I love the computer. I love reading. I love crafts and homemaking skills. From my childhood these were areas of interest for me. As a teen and young twenty-something year old I wanted to live in a log cabin somewhere and raise animals and a huge garden. I saw myself wandering the woods foraging for healing herbs, healing folks with my knowledge and skills. I would go to farms to pick vegetables and fruit and can them. Next we borrowed a plot of land from a family member to grow our own vegetables. It was an easy jump to making cheese. My late mother in law was only too happy to teach me how to do so many things around the home and yard! She came for a visit from Italy for a few months and spent that time teaching a new goat owner friend how to milk the goats. That won us enough milk for her to teach me to make cheese as the family had done for many many years overseas. Then she went foraging and showed me “weeds” and mushrooms safe to eat. The cooking lessons were using things “from scratch” instead of the fancy boxed convenience foods. My sisters in law still share freely with me when I have basic questions. This background allowed me to realize where my strengths lay in this newest endeavor. I already loved vintage kitchen items – loved the look and feel of the older kitchens in soft greens and clean lines. I loved baking, cooking, canning. It was a source of pride to me to have a full table of wonderful foods for my family. My cookbook collection of recipes from Italy rivals the local bookstore selections. I began to teach myself to use all the vintage appliances and utensils. I learned to do things the “old fashioned way” sans electric!

Studying     I had my starting point to concentrate on what I knew best. From there I made it an issue to learn how to store those foods so that they would last more than the week or two or three we think they last. I began to research on the Internet and that taught me I needed to be more organized, to take stock of what I had on hand and how to add to all of it properly. To this I had to organize my cabinets and pantry area my sons gifted me with! Along with this part of my journey I discovered chickens – a natural because I wanted fresher eggs to bake with. After chickens I realized I needed a fresh source of meat – welcome my rabbits! Yes, I would enjoy raising pigs like my in laws used to overseas or even a fresh cow – and especially goats! I love goats! I love goats cheese! (Alas I live in a city that won’t let me have all that! Ha!) My next step was seeing that my granddaughters wanted to share the experience of canning. They were fascinated that grandma made all this neat stuff they love to eat. How would that continue if I weren’t here to help them? What would I do if the Internet weren’t here to show me how to do certain skills? I began to compile notebooks to have as reference manuals for myself, my sons, my randchildren later on.

What have I learned in all this? That taking time to know myself made this journey an easier one for me. I learned it doesn’t have to a journey of fear and panic that the world as we know it will end next week or even next month. I learned no matter what scenario does play out, I can walk though it in peace in my spirit whether I survive it all the way or not. What I am telling you is that even if you do believe in zombies and are concerned that it will be an all out war or whatever, there can be a peaceful calm approach to being prepared. Yes, I want to help you learn how to prepare to face any of these possible trials but let’s start the journey calmly with a focused plan of attack. Know where your strengths lay. Don’t try to be everything at one time. Plan what you need to do. Think in terms of the unusual. Look at your normal day to day activities. What things would you need to continue life as you enjoy it. Obviously food, water, shelter are the basics followed by security – having everyone safe. Is that safe from storms like here in Florida? Is it safe from zombies? Approach your goals in an organized manner so that you know what next step is needed. Use lists. Checking off a list can be a stress buster by letting you see what you are accomplishing. As you throw that extra bag of rice or beans in the shopping cart,  pay attention to the inventory of your supplies. If you already have 500 bags of rice perhaps you need the spices to flavor it. Or are you in charge of security? Having 500 rounds of ammo and no weapon or not having ever used that weapon does not make you a prepper – it makes you a prepper fail. Hone your skills, do your research, plan, organized your preps. Think about what it is you are the most concerned over and what you need to meet that challenge. As the scenario evolves, make your preps evolve in an organized fashion along with it. Approaching this in a more organized fashion will help you to avoid the stress, to find the calm in the midst of on-coming turmoil. You will know you have done the best you can for your family and friends who are in this with you.  Besides – there is nothing more calming than sitting outside listening to the chickens and watching the garden grow – except if you sit down at one end of a table full of family enjoying all the beautiful food you provided!

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Is It a Castle or a Storage Unit?

Move-Boxes-      I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to organize our preps. Florida homes are notorious for lack of space to hide things away neatly. We’re mostly short on attic, garage, and especially basement spaces. That makes it much trickier to tuck things away in an organized fashion instead of just where it will fit. That also doesn’t take into account that most of the stuff just plain doesn’t fit! Quite a few Floridians use outdoor storage sheds in either wood or metal but they usually are not climate controlled. The same problem exists with our attics and garages not being a stable temperature. It’s challenging but not altogether impossible.

Like many of us we live in the typical older Florida home – nothing fancy or showy but comfortable for us! We live in a pleasant town on the Space Coast of Florida. Most folks here would never expect riots or race wars or for the town to fall apart in any way. Yet most of the preppers will sagely nod their heads at this because they know even nice folks will do the unthinkable to feed starving family!

In the past year we have joined a couple different preparedness groups here on the Space Coast. The members seem to run the gamut from one extreme to the other concerning how far they take the issue of preparedness. All of them profess a sense of calm and peace before the anticipated collapse due to taking control of their preparations.

Roof-Of-His-Car      A few of the people are financially secure enough to own what is known as a “Bug- Out Location” or BOL. Many others like us plan to hunker down in place due to a myriad of reasons personal and financial. That just leads us to be more selective in how we prepare.   Simplistic-Castle-Tower-2        The old adage that a man’s home is his castle has been taking on new meaning thanks to a certain television production but I personally have yet to add a moat or drawbridge to the old homestead! Indeed there is no sentry decked out in full armor at the front door. Needless to say we have discussed security and do have things in place to protect ourselves should the situation call for it but we are hoping it never falls that completely apart! We choose to be low key about those choices and not advertise those issues for safety’s sake.  knight

So as we attempt to organize and inventory our preps, we find ourselves a bit lopsided at times and then we begin to lose the sense of organization. Over the course of the next few months I hope to share with all of you how I am dealing with these issues and I hope you will join in on the discussions freely. I’m sure many of you have similar problems and solutions – many of others will have questions we will all try to help answer! I certainly can’t know for 100% certain when and if things will collapse. I pray we all have enough time to prepare adequately as well as the finances and health to do so. I pray I will be able to help you along on this journey as we undertake steps for our own family and friends – and yes, community! It seems many of us feel a sense of urgency as we do this lately but with it also comes a peace and joy in knowing we are taking the steps to protect and prepare our families by each positive step we take. Let’s take the continuing journey together so we go about it without stress or fear!

Dehydrating Oinions

One of the neatest things I found via Craigslist this year is a new to me Nesco Dehydrator! The person selling never used it so sold it to me with trays and extra liner trays. This particular model has temperature controls so that you can designate what you are dehydrating.My dream wish list includes the pricier Excalibur unit but this is a great middle model. Last year I purchased our first dehydrator that worked okay for many of our herbs but it didn’t allow for temperature control. The heat source was located as a coil on the bottom without the stronger fan power that the Nesco gives. The Nesco has the fan motor with heat at the top of the unit and blows the heat throughout and also has a drip tray located at the base! This is a bonus benefit for doing wetter items such as the onions.

After canning all of the marinara sauce this past week, we had lots of leftover onions. We set aside about 20 pounds for cooking later and used about 25 pounds in the marinara. That left quite a few still making dehydrating a good choice. We chopped about 5 onions with a small paring knife and used the older dehydrator – the onions looked almost burned or overcooked and the pieces were too large. We used the grinder attachment to our Kitchenaid Mixer on several onions. This seemed to squeeze a lot of liquid out – they were very wet. Using the fruit roll-up trays that came with the Nesco dehydrator, I spread the onion paste out thinly and patted each tray with a paper towel to absorb more of the liquid. Then we ran the dehydrator for about 18 hours. They dried to a soft golden brown and the aroma was incredible! One good decision we made was to run the dehydrators outside on the patio under one of the roof eaves. They were protected from any rain but the heavy aroma of the onions was dispersed more easily rather that having it linger inside the house! That next day we peeled the dried onions off the trays and put in a jar – we got a yield of about 1 pint – almost like an onion powder when I broke it up to put in the jar with a desiccant to keep them dry.  DSC_3807 DSC_3804

Our second run we used a small chopper/blender – it holds about 1 cup of chopped food and retailed for about $10 at Wal-Mart. This handy little item minced the onion but we did not end up with all the liquid mess of the grinder. Again we spread this all over the trays and ran it about 15 hours. This batch was just perfect for what I wanted. After taking it off the trays – it literally lifts off in big pieces that then break apart as almost like onion flakes. These are perfect for adding to homemade sauces, soups, or sprinkling on meats or mashed potatoes! They retained the beautiful aroma but are a soft golden brown in color – really pretty! It may seem work intensive but in reality it was about 20 minutes of work to chop and spread — and about 10 minutes after to break apart and put in a jar. We finished up with  2 quarts of dehydrated onions! This is an easy stress free project that gives peace of mind to add to the food pantry!   482435_4227910195022_379127322_n

The New Food Pantry!

We have finally accomplished one of our bigger goals and I am super happy! I missed not having a large pantry but this house did not have one. Here in Florida we cannot really do long term storage of foods in the garage as we get such temperature fluctuations – mostly hot and hotter along with humid! We had a larger bedroom 12 by 22 ft. that we had subdivided into two bedrooms via adding a door for one, and a quick wall dividing the room into two rooms. We now found ourselves not needing the two bedrooms any longer so we rearranged room configurations this weekend. So this weekend we moved our wall back several feet giving a larger bedroom on one side and a beautiful room perfect for a walk-in pantry!

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Then came the choices – we made a few trips to local home stores and also researched a bit on the internet comparing prices and choices. Due to our own physical capabilities we chose not to build shelves out of wood. I also wanted a nicer cleaner appearance for inside the house in a room that will be seen by visitors much of the time even though we can close a door! We chose chrome style wire shelves – and we even did a bit of remodeling on those. We joined two smaller units via using thread-all to connect into a taller unit. All of the shelves were bolted to the wall studs to prevent tipping by accident – an important safety tip! We were able to finish all of this within two days! Electrical was in place already and we had to do no painting as we had used paneling in a light color for the wall. There is already a bookshelf unit to hold all my cookbooks and prepping notebooks I set up. That was left in place instead of taking it out of there.

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One nice feature is being able to organize all my canning supplies in one convenient place that is easily accessible! The photos obviously don’t show all our storage preps but it   gives you a good idea of how quickly and easily this can be accomplished. The shelves were approximately $285 for three larger units and the two smaller ones we put together. Any of these projects should be done within your budget and not create more stress! Small baskets are used to hold any small messier items such as extra canning lids and rings although they could also be used to hold small seasoning packets. One of mine contains all the smaller Food Saver attachments and bags. Eventually I am hoping to purchase some accessories such as can rotators. Fortunately we are not in an earthquake prone area but we are in a potential flood area so we wanted shelves that were a bit off the ground for the first shelf. We also chose to add an extra shelf to each unit to have more storage – because these are modular, I can go back and add additional shelves if I so choose to. It is important to set up your storage so that is organized enough that food is rotated with every purchase – use the oldest first so that you don’t end up with expired cans! We also grouped similar items together – for instance all baking goods in one section, beans and veggies in another. You want family members to easily find and use the food!

The peace of mind from this knowing we have a place to conveniently store our foods in an organized clean and safe manner gives me that happy happy feeling – a contentment of knowing I am in obedience with The Lord and taking care of family.

One of the Ugly Topics

Seems we all have been forced to consider that we are becoming a topic of conversation and all of it is not good. Were you thinking about saving a few food items and a little bit of water to be prepared but now are leery of being considered “one of those”? You have good reason to be concerned and I am too. It’s a shame we even have to think about defending ourselves about not being lumped in but here we are. Not all preppers and not all survivalists and not all homesteaders are the same. Used to be I would tell you that’s the wonderful part about being American — we could be proud of being our own person, a unique individual. I was proud we had the freedom to speak our mind, to have that singular opinion that maybe others didn’t share but we didn’t have to be afraid to be lumped in with true crazies or terrorists or criminals. Not so anymore so I guess we all need to realize that we need to speak up on this issue.

Not all preppers are preparing for WWIII in their backyard or getting ready for zombie hoards invading down Main Street USA any time in the near future. Not all of us believe alien rocket ships are landing on our roof either.  Not all of us want to build bunkers in our backyards or some private retreat away from civilization. We don’t want to all store enough food to last 100 years along with weapons to defend it. Yet the media would have everyone believe that all of us are dangerous individuals who want to create havoc or overthrow every and any form of government and to do away with all laws. Every news media goes out of their way to throw it out there now at every chance they get to equate every disgusting massacre or criminal attack that it had something to do with “survialists”. After all every one of “those people” have mental issues that the government has to enact laws to protect the citizens from. Anyone who owns any type of weapon for any legal reason whatsoever is a danger. We need laws to disarm them because after all it is no longer right for anyone to even consider being “bitter people clinging to their guns or bibles.” And heaven help those who have spiritual reasons to being responsible enough to store up any food for their family. Those religious nuts must all belong to some strange cult, right?  Proverbs tells us: In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has (Proverbs 21:20) How interesting is it that FEMA advocates having some emergency supplies? They also advocate storing safe drinking water. We get then mixed messages from the government who want us to be prepared but then suggest all preppers are dangerous folks who kidnap  or massacre children.

Unfortunately we must be willing enough to share our beliefs no matter what they may be. That means every time another news story hits or another political hot potato is out there or another attack on religion surfaces, we need to be willing to share a common sense answer, a defense of ourselves. Present yourself not as a nutcase or extremist but as someone normal doing a logical ordered thing. After all people buy home owners or renters insurance, car insurance, life insurance, flood insurance. Most people try to have a budget in order to pre-plan their money allocated for bills. It is not crazy to store up foods to feed your family in case of an emergency – you do not have to share what emergency you are concerned with. I am not telling you it is wrong to hunt or fish and have the proper equipment to do so. I am telling you it is not sane, not practical, not logical given current events to brag you are preparing for WWIII. That does not help yourself or anyone else. And I am suggesting also that not every prepper wants to prepare for WWIII. Some of us merely want to take care of our families, to be more self-sustaining in a world that has come to believe they are entitled to riot if the government does not continue to support them in the manner to which they have become accustomed to and believe they are entitled to.

I realize that some of you will then insist on discussing how we intend to protect what we have accumulated. I believe there is more than enough information available out there already for anyone who chooses to go that route but we as a group do not need to be advocating a behavior that instead plays into a current public mindset that all guns, all weapons, all preppers, all survivalists are crazy, dangerous people who our government needs to protect its citizens from. We know criminals will not be the compliant ones. We understand the need to defend and protect. We just need to be wise enough, circumspect enough to realize that not all of us should be lumped into certain categories that scare reasonable thinking people away from the topic, from wanting to be prepared to take care of themselves.

We aren’t supposed to be stressed or going into debt to hide ourselves away from society, to be afraid of every shadow, to run with every conspiracy theory. Being prepared means eliminating some of our stress. It does not mean adding to it by becoming part of a group that our government and media want done away with.