The Survival Mom » Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:53:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Living Off the Grid, (or Close to it) Urban Style http://thesurvivalmom.com/urban-living-off-grid/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/urban-living-off-grid/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 07:47:52 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23529 Admit it, you have been thinking about it. Off the grid living. Late at night, at the end of a long day, you have pictured your life off grid. Images of Little House on the Prairie come to mind. Maybe you ponder becoming a long bearded man living in the mountains, content to be a […]

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urban living off grid

Admit it, you have been thinking about it. Off the grid living.

Late at night, at the end of a long day, you have pictured your life off grid. Images of Little House on the Prairie come to mind. Maybe you ponder becoming a long bearded man living in the mountains, content to be a hermit.

You are not alone in your thoughts, as more people are choosing an off grid lifestyle. Some are able to escape the noisy concrete city and move to quiet acreage in the Midwest or another idyllic country setting. However, for many, like me, work and family obligations make that impossible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to live as off the grid as possible.

Living off grid is defined as being self-sufficient of municipal utilities, such as water, natural gas, electricity, sewer and trash services. Choosing to live an urban off grid life is possible and does have many advantages.

One advantage is knowing that you and your family can be prepared and will be able to survive quite well when a disaster happens. Many have been able to save money on their utilities and purchases. Others have found peace and confidence in their new learned skills along their path to grid-less-ness, but do not conjure up a romanticized version of happily churning your own butter and building an outhouse. Off-grid living, whether urban, suburban, or rural, isn’t the easiest choice you’ll ever make!

Urban living off-grid

The type of home in which you are living determines, in large part, the extent to which you can go grid-free. If you are in a home with a yard, it is easier to become more self-sufficient. Apartment life can accommodate a degree of off-grid living, just in a smaller scale.

An advantage for both types of homes is that everything you normally need in the course of a day or week is close to home. Walking or biking around town provides great exercise and saves money on gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance. Bikes can be inexpensive and easy to repair. A wagon or cart can be added to the back.

Public transportation, like the bus system, can be very economical. Try the various methods of transportation your city offers and know what works best for you. Look into monthly passes, if used regularly, it may save you money. Pay attention to where you go and its location. Combine trips, shop in your local neighborhood and learn of new activities in your community for your family. Libraries, parks, swimming pools, local colleges and recreation centers offer free or low cost entertainment and activities. All of these options will allow you to not be reliant on your gasoline/diesel powered vehicles and the supply of fuel into your community. It will also help you to save money.

Being independent of all utilities may not be possible, but minimizing usage and creating your own electricity can be. Solar panels are one alternative and can be installed on various types of homes. Be aware that an entire house solar system will be tied to the grid and will be vulnerable to the effects of an EMP, should that ever occur.

Another way to save money and energy is to minimizing your electricity usage. Some easy suggestions are:

• Unplugging everything that isn’t currently being used. This will help you realize what you rely on the most and then find ways of coping without that appliance, electronic, or whatever.
• Turning off lights. Try to go for 48 hours without using any lamps or electric lights of any kind. This will help you figure out what kind of lighting you would need in a grid-down emergency.
• Throwing on an extra layer of clothing on in the winter
Hand washing clothes
• Hanging clothes on a clothes line
• Insulating your attic
• Wash dishes by hand
• Close unused air vents
• Swap regular bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs

Going off-grid with your water and food supply

We need to use water for cooking, cleaning and washing, we just need to be wise about our water usage. Whether your water comes from a well or the city, less is better. Try some of these simple methods to reduce your dependence and cost of water:

• Short showers, maybe shower at the gym. A 5-minute shower can save you up to 1,000 gallons per month.
• Have a 5 gallon bucket in the shower to hold any water that is running while you find the right temperature for your shower. Use this water for plants or flushing the toilet.
• Keep a clean dishpan in the kitchen sink. It will hold the running water you use when washing hands and rinsing veggies.
• Use this water for your garden or washing dishes
• Install water saving shower heads, faucets and toilets
• Use a rain barrel system to collect water for your garden

Begin to minimize your dependence on grocery stores by growing your own food as much as possible. Start small with just 1 vegetable and 1 herb. If the plants don’t seem to be thriving, try using more or less water, a fertilizer (consult a nursery), but be sure to make notes. Growing food to any large extent is extremely difficult and can take years to master.

Apartment balconies can hold pots for vegetables and you can build vertical growing systems. In a home, you can plant in flowerbeds, allot a spot in your yard for a garden or add containers for additional space. Learn how to vertical garden and utilize the fence and exterior walls of your home. If you do not have the space to garden, consider community gardens. The are a low cost option and give you an opportunity to know your neighbors. Another option is to arrange with a neighbor that, in exchange for the use of their backyard for your garden, you’ll give them a percentage of the harvest and cover the cost of water, fertilizer, seeds, mulch, and the like.

Choosing to become more self sufficient and rely less on the grid can be an overwhelming thought. It is a lifestyle choice, a commitment to use less, save money and prepare. Take these suggestion and implement them into your life one by one. You will find more money in your budget to stock up on food and other emergency supplies for your family as you implement urban living off-grid. Maybe this will increase your savings so you can get that acreage in your favorite rural countryside.

*Check with city and county codes before going partial or off grid.

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9 Tips to Avoid the Summertime Prepping Slump http://thesurvivalmom.com/9-tips-to-avoid-the-summertime-prepping-slump/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/9-tips-to-avoid-the-summertime-prepping-slump/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 07:12:29 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=12204 It’s so easy for the hot, lazy days of summer to just sort of run into each other until the day arrives when it’s time once again to get the kids ready for school, and we ask, where did the summer go? If your prepping goals have taken a break right along with your pledge […]

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prepper activitiesIt’s so easy for the hot, lazy days of summer to just sort of run into each other until the day arrives when it’s time once again to get the kids ready for school, and we ask, where did the summer go?

If your prepping goals have taken a break right along with your pledge to have the kids do daily math drills and read for at least 30 minutes every day, then here are a few prepping activities and tips to avoid the summertime prepping slump.

1.  Get the kids involved in prepping activities

If they’re sitting around the house doing nothing, then they can help you prep! They can fill canning jars, mylar bags, and buckets with dry goods and oxygen absorbers. They can help weed the garden and pick ripe fruits and vegetables. They can wash and prepare produce for canning and dehydration. Kids can go through their closets and drawers and pull out toys they no longer play with and clothing that no longer fits.

Download my FREE ebook, Declutter and Organize Your Living SpaceIt contains enough tips and information to keep your kids busy all summer!

Hey, every time they say they’re bored, give them a prepping related task! They’ll have something productive to do and you’ll accomplish your prepping goals more quickly.

2.  Learn something as a family

Check out online calendars for craft stores, REI, Cabela’s, gyms, and your city’s summertime offerings. Many of these are survival and/or prepping related, such as learning how to read a compass, learning how to crochet or sew, etc. and very often these classes are free.

If these resources aren’t readily available to you, then check out a how-to book or watch some how-to YouTube videos on something your family would like to learn and do it yourselves!

Browse through my Skill of the Month page for dozens of ideas that will appeal to all members of your family!

Or, ask around and see if there is someone in your circle of friends and acquaintances who has a skill you would like to learn and is a willing teacher.

For more insights into staying motivated, listen to this episode of The Survival Mom Radio Hour!

3.  Turn a family outing or vacation into survival training!

Camping, hiking, fishing — those are all survival related, fun, and everyone can be involved. Check out these articles with more information about enjoying the great outdoors, as a prepper:

7 Summer Children’s Activities for Sowing Survivalist Seeds

25 Things I Learned From Long-Term Camping

A Camping Skill Basic: Safe Fire Building

Camping is More than Just Equipment — Here is a list of skills you need to have

Make This Summer a Family Camping Summer

Survival Mom Camping-Survival Secrets

And then there’s my series on family road trips. As a veteran of some 16,000 highway miles, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert in this area!

Eating On the Road: A Family Road Trip Survival Plan

Survive the Family Road Trip With These 13 Tips

Surviving the Family Road Trip

4.  Check into summer day camps related to prepping

Two summers ago my kids learned rifle skills in a 2-day camp at a local gun range. Lots of towns and cities start the summer with directories of these day camps.  If your kids are in a day camp or have gone away to camp, learning some sort of practical skill, then you’ll have time to either take a nap, read a relaxing book (just for fun!), or do anything else you like! Free time for mom is necessary!

5.  Amass produce in quantities and begin canning and dehydrating

Summer is prime produce time. Even if your garden was a flop or you didn’t get certain items planted, there are probably local gardeners and farmers who would love to share their bounty. Some might even be willing to trade a portion of their harvest for a portion of yours.

Bountiful Baskets is a large produce co-op that operates in many states. Do an internet search for “produce co-ops” in your area and you may end up finding a source of delicious, fresh product that you can then preserve for later.

Here are a few resources I’ve accumulated here to help you with canning different foods;

Once you have a good amount of green beans or tomatoes or whatever, make a simple plan for canning, dehydrating, and/or pickling. If your kids are whining about being bored, then you know who your helpers will be!

6.  Get away from the electronics!

Nothing zaps energy faster than sitting in front of a TV or computer screen hour after hour. Not only is time wasted but our minds and bodies become accustomed to inaction and it becomes even hard to get up and start doing something!

Allow yourself and the kids only a certain number of minutes per day in front of a screen.

7.  Take a few minutes to make lists to organize your prepping activities

A lot of time we find ourselves in a slump because we’re unfocused and are not sure what to do next. I’ve found that when I have all my scattered goals written down, it helps immensely.

Three lists that have helped me stay organized and focused on my preps are To Learn, To Do, and To Buy. From my book, Survival Mom:

List #1: To Learn
On this list you’ll keep track of skills and knowledge you realize will be important. A few examples on my own list are: Learn to tie various knots and know when to use them; work on creating recipes from my food-storage ingredients; and push my knitting skills to a higher level and knit a pair of socks.

Interestingly, many items on this list won’t cost a dime. If your budget is already strained, and buying even a few extra cans of tuna is a stretch, put more time and energy into learning skills, gaining knowledge, and seeking out other Survival Moms as resources.

List #2: To Do
Here’s another list that doesn’t have to empty out your bank account. Have you been meaning to compile all your important documents or inventory a garage filled with tools? Do you need to prepare your garden for the spring season?

There are simply dozens of things we intend to do, but they flicker in and out of our minds and are then . . . gone! As you read this book, start adding tasks to a To Do list and keep track of what you accomplish. It’s very empowering to see progress, although you will likely never have an empty To Do list!

List #3: To Buy
Although Lists 1 and 2 will keep you busy, there’s really no way around List 3. Stocking up on food, extra toiletries, good quality tools, and other supplies requires money. However, the good news is that a master To Buy list will help set priorities, keep you on budget, and even provide a shopping list when hitting the garage sale circuit.

Without a To Buy list, you may very well find yourself (a) spending money on things you later discover tucked away in a back cupboard or (b) snatching up purchases in a panic. This list helps save money as well as time.

8.  Assess whether or not the emotions that started your prepper journey have changed

If we begin a project or set a goal based mostly on emotion, when that emotion fades, and it will, very often our motivation fades as well. If you began preparing out of fear or panic, it’s likely that you’re not as motivated as you once were.

That’s all perfectly normal, however, if the logical part of your brain is convinced that prepping is important to the well-being of your family. You’ve just entered a new level of motivation based on rational conclusions. This is where lists come in handy: To Do, To Learn, To Buy. They’ll help you stay focused on what is most important regardless of the current state of your emotions.

9.  Start making plans and goals for when the kids are back in school

Summers are wonderful but let’s face it. When the kids return to school, so do routines. Having a predictable schedule once again will help you set priorities, focus on achieving small prepping goals, continue with prepping activities, and become the Super Survival Mom of your dreams!

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12 Tips for Living Out of Your Car http://thesurvivalmom.com/repost-12-tips-for-living-out-of-your-car/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/repost-12-tips-for-living-out-of-your-car/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:06:50 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=6223 If you need knowledge, read a book.  If you want to really know something, experience is the best teacher.  My advice for anyone reading this is to try living in a car or van for a week or two.  There isn’t anything better to wring out your survival kit than practical use. Here are some […]

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living out of your carIf you need knowledge, read a book.  If you want to really know something, experience is the best teacher.  My advice for anyone reading this is to try living in a car or van for a week or two.  There isn’t anything better to wring out your survival kit than practical use.

Here are some tips from my own experiences.

image by thomas riboulet

Add a flip-up roof vent to the van, if that’s what you have.  Heating/cooking with propane produces water as a byproduct.  The vent will get rid of the  interior water buildup .  It will also exhaust hot air in the warmer parts of the year.  A solar powered fan in the vent is even better.

Solar film on the windows keeps things private, but you need a blackout curtain to keep light from being seen at night.  I used a denim tube and lined it with high density foam, hung from wire springs on both the top and bottom of the tube curtain.  The curtain needs to cover the whole window.  It provides a bit of insulation, too.

Never park in the same place twice in the same week.  Stay away from other parkers in your same situation.  Parking around a 24-hour biz is better than residential areas.  Apartment complexes offer a degree of stealth street parking due to the high turnover of tenants and friends, NOT in their parking lot, however!  Same for 24-hour grocery stores.

Sometimes your employer will let you park behind the biz if you’re a good employee and they want to help you out.  That’s always a personal call that depends on the boss’s personality and the particular job.  Sometimes it’s better the boss doesn’t know your situation.

Rent a mini-storage cubicle with 24-hour access for your spill-over and items that might be stolen from your vehicle.  If you’re a customer, you have bathroom privileges.

A health club membership is the golden ticket for street living.  You can shower, steam, and work out, too.  Municipal indoor pools are good, too.  Learn to bathe in a sink, as in sponge baths.  Always clean up your mess!

A private mailbox that provides a street address (not a Post Office box) makes you look more like someone with a real address.  This comes into play for drivers licenses, state ID cards, car insurance, job applications, etc.

A pay-as-you-go cell phone provides a telephone for job calls and if you need emergency services.

Try to find an apartment manager job if you have good people skills and some simple maintenance experience.  The local Apartment Association may offer training so you can get that job.  Once you’re in, you’re in for life.  They like peeps that have experience, so this is the route in.  Much easier if you’re a couple.  Mini-storage management is even better.  Usually small buildings only trade an apartment and light housekeeping duties for your time.  You will need to work part-time to pay the bills.

A portable CD player with a radio is very handy for entertainment and news.

Most libraries have computer access.  If you have a wireless laptop, then those businesses that let you surf on their wi-fi connection for a cup of coffee are helpful, too.

Always dress and act middle class or better.  The way you look determines how the police will handle you when they come calling.  That’s when, not if.

Don’t think you are depression proof.  Plan ahead for  hard times and practice.  You won’t be disappointed.  Living hand to mouth eventually gives you a can-do attitude that can be a life saver.  Even if you have to give up your home, you will still have one.

This advice came from webbee, over on Survivalist Boards  who granted his permission to re-post it here.  You and I may never have to live in our vehicles, but this advice is helpful for evacuations or if you’re ever stranded somewhere without funds for a hotel. 

See also:

Even If You Aren’t Living In A Car, You Need To Read These Terrific Survival Tips!

Getting Started With Dumpster Diving

Want more survival information like this?

 

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10 Tips For Bugging Out to the Country http://thesurvivalmom.com/bugging-out-to-the-country/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/bugging-out-to-the-country/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 07:17:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=5962 When many urban or suburban people think about Prepping or Survivalism, they think about bugging out to a more rural location.  This has to be one of the most frequently-expressed fantasies in the Prepping world, and reams have been written about where to go and how to get there. But very little has been written […]

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bugging out to the countryWhen many urban or suburban people think about Prepping or Survivalism, they think about bugging out to a more rural location.  This has to be one of the most frequently-expressed fantasies in the Prepping world, and reams have been written about where to go and how to get there.

But very little has been written from the perspective of the rural dwellers.  How does your average farmer or homesteader feel about urban folks bugging out to the country?

We live on a twenty-acre homestead farm in rural north Idaho.  Wow, I can see your eyes sparkling from here.  You’re thinking, “What a perfect bug out location!”  Then believe me when I say the most dreaded words a homesteader can hear on the subject of Prepping is, “Well, if the bleep hits the fan we’ll just come live with you.”

Oh, bleep.

The truth about farms and homesteads

“Farm” does NOT mean remote or isolated or even self-sufficient.  Farmers live pretty much like you do, but with more elbow room.  We go to the grocery store.  We have jobs.  We have neighbors.  And we have towns nearby.

Okay, granted those towns can be pretty small by urban standards, but they’re just as full of unprepared people as anywhere else.  That means if the manure hits the rotating device, we’re going to have our hands full dealing with them.

Bear in mind that most people in the country may not be much more prepared than you are – which is to say, perhaps not at all.  Unless rural folks already have a Preparedness mindset, they’re just as susceptible to societal interruptions as your average city person.

Our only advantage is we’re farther away from the Golden Horde, that mythical group of city folks who will take to the road in times of disorder, or so some survival experts believe.

Or, are we really that far away and safe from thousands of straggling refugees? In our case, we live within a very short drive (as in, four minutes) from a town of 1000, many of whom are on welfare and are just as dependent on government checks as anyone in the inner city.  This means they will certainly go “foraging” when they get hungry.

Many people don’t realize that the Greater Depression has already impacted rural areas.  Hard.  Jobs out here are as scarce as hen’s teeth (as the saying goes) and unemployment in our county hovers around 20%.  Most of us are poor to begin with, especially by urban standards.  That means we don’t have a lot of money to pour into elaborate “prepper” projects.

So does this mean you should give up your idealized little dream about bugging out to the country?  Yes and no.  It depends on how realistic you’re being about your bug out plans.

Ten Tips if you decide to bug out to the country

To smooth the way, here are ten tips that may make your welcome a little warmer.

1. Don’t Come Unannounced

If you want to escape from the city, make your own private plans in advance and do not broadcast them to every Tom, Dick, and Harry of your acquaintance.  Nothing will dismay a rural friend or relative – much less a perfect stranger – more than having a brace of new people on their doorstep asking for food, shelter, and protection.  There’s nothing wrong with talking to rural-dwelling friends or relatives about the idea of deploying to their place if things get bad.  But if you do……

2. Prepare the Way

One of the “panic” aspects we country folk feel is that we don’t have enough supplies to provide for a hungry horde.  And we don’t.  Let’s face it, sometimes we barely have enough supplies to feed ourselves (remember, 20% unemployment in our area).  Do the math to understand our concerns.  If, through hard work, thrift, and diligence we’ve managed to squirrel away a year’s worth of food for our family of four – and then you show up with your family of four – then we’ve automatically halved our supplies to six months.  Now can you understand our fears?

Pretend you’ve bought an isolated cabin in the mountains to use as a bug out.  Would you be pleased to show up, exhausted and scared, to a cabin with no food, water, bedding, lighting, heat, or other necessities?  Of course not.  Presumably you would outfit your cabin to be ready for a bad scenario.

Your plans to bug out to a host family should be no different.  Send supplies in advance.  Send lots of supplies in advance.  Can’t afford it?  Well guess what, neither can we.  That shouldn’t stop you from sending a case of canned goods, a few sacks of rice and beans, perhaps some boxes of ammo.  If the host family has an unused corner of their barn, perhaps they’ll allow you to dedicate that area for your supplies.  Don’t forget clothing, sleeping bags, toiletries, firearms, medical supplies, etc., and make sure you make everything weather, insect, and rodent-proof.

If your finances permit, consider funding an expensive project that may be beyond a host family’s reach, such as a windmill, pond, or other pricey item. Think of it as a sort of investment.

Sending supplies in advance proves your worth.  It demonstrates you don’t plan to be a leech.

3. Clarify your Baggage

Even if you’ve made plans ahead of time and stashed adequate supplies, don’t expect a host family to welcome all your baggage.  For example, we have two large and semi-aggressive dogs.  We have large and aggressive dogs on purpose – they help protect us.  If you show up with a yappy Pomeranian and four cats, don’t expect us to be happy about it.  Our dogs would spend every waking hour trying to eat your pets for lunch.  And no, it’s not our fault that our dogs are “aggressive.”  It’s your fault for bringing animals into a situation that we’re not prepared – or willing – to handle.

4. You’re Not the Boss

This is our home.  We live and work here.  We pay the mortgage.  No matter how much we may love and welcome you, you’re still coming as a supplicant, not a part-owner of our farm.  You are in no position to make demands or request that we change our way of doing things unless you can demonstrate you’re an expert.  And even then, it’s still our house, property, equipment, and possibly food and other supplies.

Hint: diplomacy will go a long way if you think you know a better way to do something.

5. Prepare to Work

If you bug out to a rural host family, remember they’re not running a bed-and-breakfast.  Don’t expect them to wait on you or cater to your every whim.  A farm – especially post-bleep – will be a place of constant and brutal work.  Nothing will annoy a host family more than some lazy jerk who does whatever he can to weasel out of the day’s chores.  Be ready, willing, and able to help.  It’s possible that lives may depend on the willingness of everyone to pitch in and work together to do what must be done.

6. Don’t Be Wasteful

When you arrive at your host family’s rural location, you must immediately change any wasteful habits you may have and become very parsimonious.   If you spill something, don’t lavishly use paper towels to wipe it up because you can’t buy any more.  Use a rag.  Treat everything as irreplaceable – because believe me, if you’ve bugged out in the first place, it’s probably because the bleep has hit the fan and common everyday things are irreplaceable.

7. Bring Skills

Host families in rural areas will be more likely to welcome those with useful skills. If your most useful skill is shopping or meditation or social activism, don’t expect a whole lot of sympathy.  Your master’s degree in 18th century French literature is not likely to do you a whole lot of good post-bleep.  But if you have practical skills – medicine or defense or mechanics or food preservation or animal husbandry or veterinarian skills or sewing or something similarly needed – you’re far more likely to find an open door.

And this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t lie about your skills or abilities. If you state with confidence that you’re an expert at hunting and butchering – but have never held a rifle or dispatched a steer – that will be discovered soon enough. Learn those skills first before you claim knowledge. Duh.

So learn stuff.  Don’t show up ignorant.

8. Clarify by Contract

If/when the bleep hits the fan, people (urban and rural) are likely to be a lot more hysterical than normal. Having your plans in writing ahead of time clarifies all the obligations, expectations, and limitations between the two parties. This contract can also include what the urban person can and cannot bring. Pets should be included in this list. If the rural refuge is not prepared to handle your yappy Pomeranian because he has three aggressive German Shepherds, you need to know that in advance.

This contract should include one very important part: how many people the host family is expected to take in.  If, in your compassion, you gather up every second-cousin-twice-removed and show up with a swell of fifty people, do you honestly think that’s going to work?

9. Shut Your Mouth

Okay, let’s say you’ve done everything right.  You’ve made a contractual plan in advance with a rural host family.  You’ve sent plenty of supplies ahead of you.  The welcome mat is ready to be rolled out.

Now whatever you do, shut upDon’t blab your plans to friends and coworkers, because doubtless they’ll want to know more, and before you know it, the host family’s OpSec is blown.  The host family is already going out on a limb by agreeing to take you in – don’t compromise their safety even more.  And if martial law ensues and your gossip spreads about the host family’s supplies, it may mean those supplies may be confiscated.  Congratulations, now you’re screwed – and so are the people who took you in.

10. Practice Forbearance

The dictionary defines forbearance as “patient endurance and self-control.”  Believe me, if the bleep hits the fan, we’re all going to have to practice astronomical amounts of forbearance.

It is not easy to move into someone else’s house.  It’s not easy for the hosts to have permanent guests either.  Imagine a standard-sized ranch house with five women in the kitchen.  Do you honestly think they’ll all get along swimmingly?  If that’s too sexist for you, imagine a building project with five guys or (worse) five engineers who all have their own ideas of how something should be done.  Who’s right?

Hint: Whoever owns the house gets the final say unless you can diplomatically demonstrate you’re an expert in something.  And even then, ownership trumps expertise.

Remember what it’s like at your home when friends and family arrive for the holidays?  After three days, you long for everyone to leave.  Well if it’s TEOTWAWKI, it won’t be a three-day vacation.  There will be stress, anxiety, and short tempers.  Everyone will need to walk gently, or the biggest danger for all may be much closer to home than you realize.

Living spaces are likely to be cramped and not private.  There is only so much room in the average country home.  It’s not like farmers live in mansions with multiple extra bedrooms.  Expect to be bunked down on the living room floor or even the barn, shoulder to shoulder.  (And no, the host family should NOT have to give up their bedrooms for you.)

Additionally, septic systems are easily overwhelmed by extra usage.  One of the first projects everyone is likely to be involved in is digging an outhouse.  Please don’t complain about its construction or usage.

If the circumstances with your host family become hostile and unbearable due to stress, high emotions, and general fears – then feel free to make other arrangements and leave.

I apologize if this list makes me sound hostile, but I’ll admit rural folks get tired of being treated like everyone’s personal deep larder if the bleep hits the fan, expected to uncomplainingly provide food and water and medical care and shelter and protection for anyone unprepared enough to show up on their doorstep.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re not without Christian charity and will do what we can to help; but like most of our neighbors, we are low income and our resources are NOT INEXHAUSTIBLE.   Our primary focus will be our family, neighbors, and beloved friends.

This article is not necessarily to discourage anyone from making plans to bug out to the country.  This is just an attempt to make you look realistically at the people whom you’ll be bugging – and I use that double-meaning intentionally.

Guest post by Patrice Lewis, columnist and blogger at Rural Revolution.

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 bugging out to the country

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Clean Your Clothes Without Electricity http://thesurvivalmom.com/clean-clothes-without-electricity/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/clean-clothes-without-electricity/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 08:00:25 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23523 Our washing machine was not appreciated. It faithfully sat in the corner of our laundry room and dutifully agitated and spun the dirt away… until it broke last summer. It had served us well by cleaning 60 loads a month, but it was not worth repairing. This was our unplanned introduction to off the grid […]

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clean clothes without electricity

Our washing machine was not appreciated. It faithfully sat in the corner of our laundry room and dutifully agitated and spun the dirt away… until it broke last summer. It had served us well by cleaning 60 loads a month, but it was not worth repairing.

This was our unplanned introduction to off the grid washing and putting into practice the skills needed to clean clothes without electricity. No one, except me, was enthusiastic about this new adventure. For two weeks we did our laundry by hand and lived to tell about it.

We knew enough of the basics and we did have clean clothes, but as those 2 weeks wore on, we learned a lot more. If you’re ever without power or if there’s ever a grid-down scenario, these tips will come in handy.

Clean clothes without electricity — not easy, but doable!

• Do your best to keep up on laundry. When an emergency happens, you will feel some sense of assurance that most of your family has clean underwear. In fact, hurricane-hardened moms know to go on a laundry-cleaning marathon once a hurricane is just 3 or 4 days out. If the power goes down, at the very least you’ll have clean sheets, towels, clothes, and plenty of clean underwear!

Assign a laundry day to each person in the home. If they are old enough to, have them be responsible for their own laundry, this includes their linens. Teach and help younger children how to do laundry, including sorting, which detergent to use, how to remove stains, how to fold each type of item, and finally, where everything goes once folded. When they are 12 years old they should have this mastered. It’s a life skill. Am I right?

Stock up on laundry soap, dryer sheets, fabric softener and stain remover. A 3 month supply would be awesome! If you want to make your own products, download Switch From Store-Bought to Homemade, a FREE Survival Mom e-book!

• We have stored bars of Fels-Naptha and Zote soap. These bars can serve as a pre-treatment stain remover and as detergent. They are inexpensive, small, easy to store and last a long time.

• As a bonus, Fels-Naptha can be used for poison ivy treatment, cleaning very greasy/dirty hands and household cleaning. Do not wash dishes with it or use it as a regular hand soap.

Zote is a great soap for those with sensitive skin or for baby clothes. It has a strong scent, however.

Clotheslines and clothes pins are a must. Clotheslines come in a variety of styles. Buy what works best for your home and size of your family. Be prepared to have a drying method for inside your house on rainy and/or wintery days. Wet clothes have been known to freeze solid on a clothesline!

• Have a backup location to wash and dry. In Southern California we found the weather to be wonderfully cooperative! Consider the bathroom a great place to wash. You will need to drain the water somewhere. Maybe a garage or basement would provide the room needed for a clothes line.

• Once in a while, wash clothes by hand or just bypass the dryer. There is much to learn about the art of hanging clothes on a line. More people than you might think continue to use a washboard for scrubbing clothes by hand.

• In a true grid-down scenario or a severe drought, be prepared to recycle your grey water. Grey water is the water that you used to do laundry and can be used to water plants, wash a vehicle, or other uses that don’t involve contact with food. If you’re planning to do this, use water that has not been used to wash underwear, since any water that comes in contact with feces will be too contaminated to re-use. The solution for that is simple: schedule one or more loads of “underwear laundry” per week and wash everything else separately.

• Consider buying a non-electric washing machine as a backup for power outages. These units run around $50 and the WonderWash was reviewed here a few years ago. Some of these units have a foot pedal or a hand held crank and hold about 6 lbs. of clothes. They require less physical strength and it only takes a few minutes of turning to have clean clothes. Rinsing goes fast and the clothes can be spun to expel much of the water.

There are a variety of laundry soaps and stain treatments that you can make at home. I have made both the powder and the liquid. The powder is faster to make. I recruited one of my children to grate the soap to see how it would work. It went well and I got a clean smelling kid out of it. A food processor was used to grate another batch. It got the job done but it did required electricity. You could easily make a 6 month to a year supply of laundry detergent in an afternoon. Personally, I store bars of soap and have additional store bought detergent as well.

Download Switch From Store-Bought to Homemade for free recipes and instructions for homemade laundry detergents.

Methods of off grid washing vary. If you are strong, want to get strong, or have kids that need to burn energy, I recommend the 5 gallon bucket and plunger method. It is cheap to make and simple to store. This is what you need:
• 2 5-gallon buckets (home improvement store, some restaurants give them away for free)
• Lids for buckets. Washing can be done without a lid, as we have learned, but a lid is better!
• A new plunger, average quality is the minimum.This one was designed specifically for off-grid laundry use.off grid laundry plunger

INSTRUCTIONS:

Take one of the 5 gallon buckets and drill holes all around the side of it. Drill holes in the rubber part of the plunger, if you’re using a traditional plunger and not the one pictured here.

If you choose to use a lid, drill a hole in the lid that is large enough to place over the stick of the plunger. Put the bucket with holes inside the other bucket. Add water, soap and clothes. Allow enough room for agitation!

Grab a chair, put the bucket in front of you, and pretend you are plunging the toilet for about 10 minutes. Dump dirty water out, fill with clean water and continue plunging. When you are finished rinsing, place the outer bucket inside the bucket with holes and press or sit on it. Most of the water will drain from your clothes.

If you are determined to permanently wash without electricity, there are other options to be explored. A bicycle powered washing machine or a large hand cranked machine can be purchased. Antique stores and auctions often have non-electric washing machines from many years ago that are still functional. These vary in price and quality. What matters most is that you have a plan and the proper equipment ready to clean clothes without electricity. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable!

Learn more about off-grid living skills

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It’s June! Mid to Late Summer Vegetable Gardening http://thesurvivalmom.com/summer-vegetable-gardening/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/summer-vegetable-gardening/#respond Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:50:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23721 Even the most avid gardeners have a bad year! Any number of things can keep you out of the garden in April and May, weather problems, work commitments, family problems . . . we’ve all been there. But don’t give up on your summer vegetable garden just yet. There are still plenty of yummy veggies […]

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summer vegetable gardening

Even the most avid gardeners have a bad year! Any number of things can keep you out of the garden in April and May, weather problems, work commitments, family problems . . . we’ve all been there. But don’t give up on your summer vegetable garden just yet. There are still plenty of yummy veggies you can get planted now (in mid to late June) and get a nice harvest before the summer ends.

Let’s talk about what you can still get planted now and also talk about a few things that you can wait on and plant in about 5 or 6 weeks (Around August 1st for most of us).

Want more in-depth training to help you get the most out of your vegetable garden? Take advantage of Rick Stone’s decades worth of gardening experience by signing up for his online, self-paced gardening classes: Year-Round Gardening ($20 with current discount for Survival Mom readers) and Seed  Starting Simplified ($14 with current discount).

Summer or Warm Season Veggies in Your Summer Vegetable Garden

Tomatoes

No summer garden is complete without a few tomato plants and you can still get some in. Hurry on this one! Most nurseries will still have a few tomato plants hanging around but they wont last much longer. (Don’t try to plant tomatoes by seed this time of year.)

IMG_9950This late in the year you want to be thinking about smaller, quicker maturing varieties. Try some type of cherry tomato (varieties to look for include Sun Sugar, and Sweet 100). They are relatively fast growers and should still give you a good harvest in September and early October.

You can also try some of the tomatoes that produce small to medium sized fruit. Think varieties like Early Girl, possibly Celebrity, or many of the Roma tomatoes. Try to find tomatoes that grow on determinate vines (vs indeterminate) as these will spent less time growing vines and more time growing fruit.

The 6 weeks you have lost in growing time means you won’t have a huge harvest this year, but if you get them in soon you should still have plenty for fresh eating and, hopefully, canning!

Summer Squashes

Zucchini and yellow crook neck squash are actually quite fast growing. Look for varieties that have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days and you should still have lots of time to grow more zucchini that you can eat! You could also look for a patty pan squash with a short maturity date.

Green beans

Most bush type green beans have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days, so there is plenty of summer left for beans. In fact I don’t make my last planting of green beans until mid July and still have a great harvest!

Melons

If you would still like to plant a melon, you have a little bit of time left. But choose the small “ice box” types as those take much less time to mature. You can also get cantaloupe planted now. Again, don’t expect a huge harvest this year, but you will still have a few melons that will be ready before the frost comes.

Potatoes

If you can find the seed still around at your local nurseries, there is time to grow a nice crop of potatoes. In fact, you could continue to plant potatoes until mid July in most areas of the country and still get a nice harvest of small roasting potatoes. This time of the year I would stay away from the big “baking” potatoes, like russets. You are running short of time to get them to maturity.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a good late season planter. Again, you may not get the huge yields you are used to but by planting seeds now, you can still have a fairly respectable crop.

Onions

If you can still find a package of onion sets at your local nursery, they will do okay this time of year. You won’t get a lot of large onions but you will have plenty of smaller onions and green onions. Don’t try growing onions from seed or starts this late in the year.

Herbs

Many herbs will still do well if planted this time of year. It would be best to plant starts, instead of trying to plant seeds.

Cool Weather Veggies

You can still have an awesome harvest of cool weather veggies by planning now to get them planted in late summer and early fall. Nearly anything you would normally plant in the spring time, you can also plant in the fall. A good, solid summer vegetable garden can extend into the cooler months, if you jump on it now!

Fall LettuceCole Crops

Broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. If you grow your own seedlings, mid June is a good time to start a fall crop of all these yummy cool season veggies. If you plant any of the Cole crops indoors now, they will be ready for planting out in the garden in about 6 to 8 weeks.

That means you will be planting them around mid August and they will mature in October when the weather has cooled back to those temperatures that Cole crops love so much! You may find many of these veggies are even tastier in the fall because a night or two of frost helps to sweeten the flavor.

Lettuce

You can start replanting lettuce about 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost (for us that’s August 1 – 15). Fall planted lettuce can last unprotected in your garden until early December, depending on where you live.

Spinach

Most people see spinach as a spring only crop, but it does very well in the fall! Again look at planting about 6 weeks before your first frost and you will be able to start harvesting in late October. Then cover those plants with a cold frame or hoop house and they will over winter for an extra early spring crop.

Root Crops

Carrots, turnips, beets and radishes all do well in the fall and you can start replanting them around 6 weeks before your last frost.

Cover PhotoSo as you can see, all is not lost for your summer garden! Get out there this weekend to put some seeds and plants in your garden so you can still have an awesome harvest this year!  Be sure to check out my blog, www.ourstoneyacres.com for lots of great gardening tips!

Would you like to learn more about starting your own seeds or gardening year round? Please consider taking one or both of my on line video courses – Seed Starting Simplified and Year Round Gardening. They are both on sale to thank The Survival Mom for allowing me to guest post on her site!!

Guest Post by Rick Stone of www.ourstoneyacres.com.

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Just in time shipping and your family’s survival http://thesurvivalmom.com/just-in-time-shipping-and-your-familys-survival/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/just-in-time-shipping-and-your-familys-survival/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 21:30:47 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=2712 Back in the day when I clothed my kids in Gymboree from head to toe, the sales clerks could almost always manage to find the size I needed by, “checking in the back.”  Every store has a stockroom in the back where, presumably, massive quantities of extra products are shelved.  Well, a couple of years […]

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just in time shippingBack in the day when I clothed my kids in Gymboree from head to toe, the sales clerks could almost always manage to find the size I needed by, “checking in the back.”  Every store has a stockroom in the back where, presumably, massive quantities of extra products are shelved.  Well, a couple of years ago I was surprised to find out that this isn’t true, Gymboree notwithstanding.

In fact, most stores operate on a system known as, “just in time shipping”  or “just in time management.” In other words, products arrive just in time to be put on the shelves to replace whatever has been purchased.  That’s why, when a store has a particularly good sale on an item, once it’s sold out, it might be out of stock for days or weeks.  There are no extras hidden in the back room.  Retailers keep their inventories to a bare minimum in order to save money and to not end up with a stockpile of a product that isn’t selling.

One impressive feature of this system is that it is run by computers and can actually forecast which products will be needed where and when.  For example, when the weather in a certain area takes a turn toward higher temperatures, the system will automatically begin shipping items such as sun block and beach toys.  An oncoming hurricane will trigger the shipment of bottled water, baby formula and ice.  You can read more about this impressive system here.

Now, what does this information have to do with your family’s survival and preparedness?  Imagine there’s a major crisis in our country that slows the shipping business down to a crawl.  It could be a natural disaster affecting the busy ports along the west coast.  Excessively high diesel prices could drive some trucking companies out of business and reduce the amount of goods being shipped via our highways.

The fact that our nation is so very dependent on technology is exactly what makes us so vulnerable, ironically. Just in time shipping has been serving manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers very well, but it’s also a fragile system. It depends on our nation’s power grid and ready access to the internet. A massive power grid failure, cyber-terrorism, or just mischievous hacking could create a cascade failure of important goods reaching their destinations.

Whatever the event, the just in time shipping strategy may leave the average American family high and dry in the middle of a major crisis.

The American Trucking Association presents a sobering view of possible consequences to a partial or complete interruption to our nation’s trucking business.  You should take a few minutes and read the entire paper, but here is a brief summary of a possible timeline in the event of a truck stoppage.

Within 24 hours

  • Delivery of medical supplies to the area affected by a disaster will cease.
  • Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.
  • U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within one day

  • Food shortages will begin to develop.
  • Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery, assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

Within two to three days

  • Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic
  • ATMs will run out of cash, and banks will be unable to process transactions.
  • Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.

Within a week

  • Automobile travel will cease due to lack of fuel.  Without autos and busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.
  • Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

Start keeping track of the goods you buy most often and the most important services your family uses. Virtually every one of them will be affected by a disruption in our just in time shipping system.

Preparedness now is the key.  Simple steps toward three months or more of food storage may make the difference between your family getting daily, nutritious meals and standing in line with hundreds of other hungry people, hoping to get a few groceries.  A home garden will produce fresh produce, and safely storing several gallons of fuel may help you and your family get through the worst of it.

Just in time shipping works well for manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers but is vulnerable when calamity strikes.  Fortunately, preppers can take advantage of this knowledge by taking prudent steps to safeguard our families regardless of what is on a store’s shelf.

just in time shipping

This article was originally published on December 18, 2009, and has been updated.

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21 Ways to Use a DeLorme Atlas to Plan Emergency Evacuations http://thesurvivalmom.com/delorme-atlas-plan-emergency-evacuations/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/delorme-atlas-plan-emergency-evacuations/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 14:08:38 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23101 Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s  house is not a bad evacuation plan at all as long as you have a working vehicle and enough gas to reach your destination. However, not all evacuation routes are that simple, and sometimes you need a detailed map to plan primary, secondary, and even tertiary […]

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DeLorme Atlas evacuation routesOver the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s  house is not a bad evacuation plan at all as long as you have a working vehicle and enough gas to reach your destination. However, not all evacuation routes are that simple, and sometimes you need a detailed map to plan primary, secondary, and even tertiary routes in times of trouble.

Humans are creatures of habit and many of us could probably drive to work, school, the grocery store, or our favorite restaurant with our eyes closed. But in an emergency, a natural disaster, for example, could we get home or to another safe location from those places and how many different routes could we use?

The problem with any passageway, be it a dirt road, city street, or interstate highway, is that they can easily become impassable for a variety of reasons:

  • Flooding
  • Large scale traffic jams
  • Rock or mud slide
  • Multi-vehicle accident — even an accident involving a single vehicle can easily stop traffic
  • Street damage due to an earthquake
  • Riots or violent crime
  • Wildfires
  • Blizzards
  • Roadblocks — by law enforcement or other authorities or by 2-legged predators

Evacuation routes can be planned well in advance, traversed multiple times to help with familiarity, and shared with family members. It’s vital to have multiple, planned routes, marked on a map, because the odds favor one or more of those routes becoming impassable.

Those routes should head in different directions: north, south, east, and west. If you’re at home and learn of a wildfire just a couple of miles to the east and your only planned evacuation route heads in that direction, you’re in trouble! Also, the routes should be prioritized with Route A being the preferred route for familiarity, best direct route, ease of travel, access to gas stations, banks, grocery stores, etc. Route B, Route C, and so on should be marked on the map and be included on occasional practice runs, but those routes will be less preferable for any number of reasons: rough roads, a longer route, fewer amenities along the way, etc.

Use the DeLorme Atlas for evacuation route planning

One of the best resources I’ve found for this type of planning is my DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer. These very large atlases can be found in bookstores and online and there’s one atlas per state in most cases. I bought mine on Amazon.

The DeLorme maps are extremely detailed and as I browsed through mine, I came across a multitude of helpful features. Here are some from my list, along with my notes for their potential usefulness:

1. Hundreds of back roads, marked as thin, red lines, are included in the DeLorme Atlas. These little known routes might help you get from Point A to Point B, if other routes are blocked.

2. Different types of roads are marked, which is helpful in determining the type of vehicle(s) used for bugging out. Be sure to check out each route in person to determine whether or not your vehicle will be able to handle road conditions.

3. Reservoirs are clearly marked, allowing you to plan a route that takes advantage of this water source or avoid a possible flooding area.

4. Airports of all sizes are indicated. If flying away from the danger zone is an option, you can look for multiple routes to get to the airport. At smaller airports you might be able to find a pilot for hire.

5. You can easily avoid bridges as your make your plans. Bridges can be washed out or become choke points in a mass evacuation.

6. Because this particular map is so very detailed, it allows you to plan multiple routes with a pretty good idea of what you can expect to find along the way.

7. You’ll find railroads marked on the DeLorme maps. If you’re evacuating on foot, it could be handy to follow these routes, since you know they’ll lead to populated areas, and you’ll know ahead of time which areas those are so you can either avoid them or not.

8. Military sites are indicated. In a dire emergency, you could head there for help.

9. Along highways, rest areas are marked. At the very least, you’ll find water and toilets at these, but, depending on the location and circumstances, they aren’t always a safe place to stop.

10. The DeLorme maps include charts showing what types of wildlife are in the area for fishing and hunting. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful in your fishing and hunting endeavors, but at least you’ll know which animals to look for.

11. A very important feature are the hiking trails that are indicated. There are certainly more trails to be found, but having these already marked is a big help if you must evacuate on foot.

12. Campgrounds are also a feature of the map. If you have absolutely nowhere else to go, you can head for those. If you have a head start on the majority of evacuating people, you might find a prime spot at a well-equipped campground. Otherwise, you can head for a lesser known campground at a state park.

13. The DeLorme atlases are huge, which is a big help for seeing all the details. You can always tear out the pages you really need, laminate them, and keep them in an emergency kit. Keep the rest of the book handy, though, because you never know when you’ll need to expand your planned evacuation route further than you originally planned.

14. Canal and dam systems are marked, making it easier to find water sources.

15. Lakes, even small ones, can be found on the DeLorme maps. If you know how to fish, be sure to include basic fishing gear in your emergency kits or just always have them packed in your vehicle. Planning on drinking lake water? Be sure to have a really good water purifier/filter, such as the Sawyer Point Zero Two Water Purifier.

16. The DeLorme maps provide topographical information, so you have an idea of the elevation of your location and route. During a rainy season or hurricane, this can help you avoid areas that are likely to flood.

17. You’ll also find information about the type of terrain in different areas. At a glance, you’ll be able to locate wetlands, sandy areas, forests, and the like. All helpful to know when planning your route and where you’ll stop overnight, if necessary. If you’re planning to walk, this information can help you plan ahead for the right type of footwear, gear, and shelter, as well as some of the basic survival skills you’ll need for a particular type of terrain.

18. There is a separate DeLorme atlas for every state. If you think your route(s) may take you into neighboring states, get those atlases as well. Since they are mapped by the same company, the map markings will be consistent from state to state.

19. Where lakes and rivers are marked, you’ll also find boat ramps marked. This could be handy if evacuating by water is part of your plan. Also, where there are boat ramps there are also small businesses that sell food, water, and boating related gear.

20. State and national land is indicated on each map. If you really want to get away from it all, you could head to those areas.

21. Detailed maps such as the DeLorme atlases are great for kids learning how to use a real, paper map. Teach them how to use a map key, compass rose (N, S, E, W), and have them help you plan different routes for evacuations, vacations, or trips to Grandma’s house. Our kids are already too reliant on electronics and map reading skills could save a life someday.

DeLorme Atlas plan evacuation routes

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In Case The Zombies Get You…Death Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com/death-information-preppers/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/death-information-preppers/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 00:32:33 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22555 Death is not a pleasant eventuality to prepare for and many of us try not to think about it. Still it is one of the most important possibilities to prepare for. Not preparing leaves other people to decide what will happen to your body, children, pets, and possessions. Preparing for death is not just a […]

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death

Death is not a pleasant eventuality to prepare for and many of us try not to think about it. Still it is one of the most important possibilities to prepare for. Not preparing leaves other people to decide what will happen to your body, children, pets, and possessions. Preparing for death is not just a depressing preparation for your demise. It can also ensure that your golden years stay yours instead of being hijacked by the medical system or well meaning relatives.

Insurance

Life insurance is vital for your family’s ability to care for you and themselves when you have passed on. There are many ways that it can be used.

The first and most likely way would be funeral expenses. The average cost today is right around $6600.  It’s is bizarre how much your final real estate is going to cost. Take a look at these expenses:

  • Casket (wood or metal), $1000-3000
  • Clergy expense, $150+
  • Embalming fees, $500-600
  • Flowers, $200+
  • Grave marker, $1000+
  • Grave plot, $400-10,000+
  • Hearse, $300
  • …and on and on and on.

Even if you decide to be cremated, it will cost hundreds of dollars. It doesn’t matter if you want to be placed in a coffin or (my new favorite) have your remains turned into a tree. Life insurance will help pay to for your body’s disposal, and, very important, the  younger you are when you buy life insurance, the cheaper it will be.

Do your research before buying any life insurance policy. Dave Ramsey prefers term life policies while other experts recommend whole life.

Wills

A will marks out your wishes when your life ends, but, shockingly, most Americans do not have a will in place. A will can make certain that your remains are cared for in the way you wish, insure that your stuff goes where and to whom you want it, whether that’s to family members or donated to charity. You can name who you want in charge of making sure your wishes are respected as your executor. This could be a friend, family member or a lawyer.

If you die without a will, generally your spouse will inherit your assets, but you will, no doubt, have special people in your life that you want to remember in a special way. Without a will, those wishes may or may not be followed. Not having this important document leaves too much to chance and puts too much power in the hands of the state, including the guardianship of your children, if you’re unmarried.

Most folks avoid drafting a will because they don’t want to deal with the reality of their own mortality, but not writing a will doesn’t help you live a single day longer! A will is an easy thing to postpone until “tomorrow”, but even someone of meager means should sit down and take the time to write this out. Perhaps all you can leave a loved one is a heartfelt letter or a small family memento. Those could have immeasurable value to someone after your death.

Do Your Own Will has a free form you can fill out to produce an official will, along with instructions. It’s a very general format and you’ll want to add details regarding specific gifts and bequeathments and other final requests. Legal Contracts is another helpful site with Last Will and Testament forms.

Living Wills

Living wills are different from regular wills. This document makes your wishes clear when you are still alive but not in control of either your state of mind or physical care. It keeps your loved ones from having to make medical choices for you because you have already made them yourself ahead of time. For example, if you are in a coma, a living will could make official your decision to be taken off support long should such an event happen. Your children or spouse aren’t put in the position of making that choice for you.

Living wills can also be used to determine care in your old age or in terminal care. You and your children may have different views about what is best for you. They, caring about your health may go overboard in making 100% healthy choices for you. On the other hand you may want to enjoy chocolate and ice cream in your old age. Having a living will allows you to make those choices for yourself and have your ice cream even if your children would have you live on vegetable smoothies and bran muffins.

Do Your Own Will has free living will forms as well as Law Depot.

Trust Funds And Allowances

Setting money aside for the ones you love can even be done after death. You can even put conditions on it. For example your children will get the money from your savings account and investments, but not until they turn eighteen, 21, or some other age that you determine. You set the dollar amount they receive per month, quarter, or year. A trust fund allows you to set up a system to help continue care for special needs kids or other family members.

It’s also handy, let’s be honest, to control the flow of money whose judgement may sometimes be questionable. They receive financial support in small, regular amounts rather than one lump sum.

In short, it’s a way to continue providing a level of financial help to those you love long after you’re gone. Trust funds aren’t just for millionaires, and it’s something to consider if you have savings and investments.

Child/ Pet Guardianship

One of the most important items of business your will will map out is who you want to raise your children should you pass on. The last thing you want for a child who who has just lost a parent to also face uncertainty about what will happen to them.

We want our children to still have a stable environment when growing up. We want to be able to pass our belief systems on to them even when we are gone. We want them be with people that treat them as equal family members. Most of all, we don’t want multiple family members fighting over their custody. These are all important subjects to discuss as a couple and with your older children.

The same is true of a beloved pet. Many pets left behind by death do not have a guardianship prepared for them. These pets often end up in a shelter. Discuss with family and friend who would be willing to take care of your pet. You may believe someone would take you furry friend only to discover an allergy prevents them from doing so. Discuss the possibility of setting up a vet trust or pet care allowance with them.

Death preparedness is a part of the bigger picture of prepping — no one lives forever. Planning ahead for a time when we won’t be around is a little like taking a dose of particularly noxious medicine. We know it has to be done, we know we’ll feel better once it’s been swallowed, but it’s hard taking that first gulp. If you do nothing else today, go to one of the websites listed above and create a basic Last Will and Testament. Add your own personal requests, sign it, have someone witness your signature, date, and seal in an envelope.

There. You’re done. You can always go back and amend the document but should something happen in the meantime, this first important base is covered.

(Be sure to store a copy of your will in a safe, safe deposit box, with an attorney, or a trusted loved one.)

 

The post In Case The Zombies Get You…Death Preparedness by Teraesa Farrell appeared first on The Survival Mom. Be sure to check it out!

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How to Make Herbal Tinctures http://thesurvivalmom.com/make-herbal-tinctures/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/make-herbal-tinctures/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 21:04:23 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23242 Making Tinctures for Herbal Preparedness Herbal extracts, also called tinctures, are one of the best ways to include herbal remedies in your emergency preparedness preps. Tinctures are concentrated and have a long shelf life- much longer than dried herbs or capsules. Like other preparations, though, extracts will need to be protected from extreme temperatures and […]

The post How to Make Herbal Tinctures by Agatha Noveille appeared first on The Survival Mom. Be sure to check it out!

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how to make an herbal tinctureMaking Tinctures for Herbal Preparedness

Herbal extracts, also called tinctures, are one of the best ways to include herbal remedies in your emergency preparedness preps. Tinctures are concentrated and have a long shelf life- much longer than dried herbs or capsules. Like other preparations, though, extracts will need to be protected from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight, otherwise they will degrade and become less potent.

Most herbal tinctures are made using alcohol. Everclear, vodka, and brandy are the most popular choices. Rubbing alcohol should never be used for a tincture that you plan to use internally. It’s toxic!

A ratio of 50/50 alcohol and water will make the strongest, longest lasting extracts, so 100 proof vodka is often a good choice for preppers concerned about shelf life. Vodka is also easier to obtain than Everclear, and there’s no need to worry about adjusting the proof.

The Simple Way to Make a Tincture

There are two ways to make a tincture. The first way is an easy, general guide that’s safe for most plants and useful if there is no convenient way to measure out exact amounts. We’ll look at that method here, because it’s great for beginners. There’s no tricky math to figure out ratios or trying to deal with grams of dry weight vs fluid ounces of the alcohol. This method is the traditional, or “folk” method of making tinctures, and is what I use the majority of the time.

For this method, place dried or fresh herbs into a glass canning jar and add brandy or vodka to cover the herbs by one inch. Place the lid on the jar, and leave it in a cool, dark place for two weeks so that the herbs can fully extract into the alcohol. During the two weeks, check on the tincture once a day. Add more alcohol if needed, as the herbs may absorb some of it over time, and shake the jar gently each time you check on it.

After two weeks, use a mesh sieve or small colander lined with muslin or cheesecloth to strain the extract into a clean jar. The herbs left over from the tincture are called the marc. Twist the top of the cloth together to form a small bundle with the marc inside, and press as much liquid out of the marc as you can for your tincture. The mostly-dry marc can be added to a compost pile, if you like.

Storing Your Herbal Tinctures

It’s best to keep your finished tinctures in blue or amber glass to help reduce exposure to light. Opaque screw top nalgene plastic bottles can be used as well for a more durable option. Be sure to label your extracts clearly with the name of the herb, alcohol used, and the date it was pressed.

Herbal tinctures kept in a cool environment and out of direct sunlight can be expected to last anywhere from three to five years, or even longer. Signs of spoilage to look for include mold (most likely to happen in a tincture made from fresh herbs, because they have a higher water content which dilutes the alcohol), a change in consistency, or changes in color. Tinctures will evaporate over time, so be sure to use a tight fitting lid and store the jars standing upright in a position where they are less likely to leak.

One other quirk of homemade tinctures to be aware of is the tendency for the extract to form a layer of sediment in the bottom of the jar. To lessen this, the tincture can be dripped through a few layers of coffee filters to clear it from the dust-sized particles of herbs that the cheesecloth didn’t trap earlier. It’s always a good idea to store glass dropper lids separately and seal your homemade tinctures with a regular screw cap. The same sediment that can form in the bottom of the jar can also clog up a dropper pipette and be difficult to clean out.

Using Tinctures Safely

Making your own herbal tinctures is a very cost effective way to add to your herbal preps, and a very good preparedness skill to have. Most importantly, though, you need to learn how to safely use the herbal tinctures you make.

Be sure to research each herb individually so that you understand potential safety issues, drug interactions, and the traditional dosages of each herb. Most herbs will have a range of between 15 and 30 drops per serving. If an herb is traditionally used in smaller or even single drop doses, it should be used by experienced herbalists only and should not be made using the “folk” method- more precise measurements are required for low-dose herbs.

The post How to Make Herbal Tinctures by Agatha Noveille appeared first on The Survival Mom. Be sure to check it out!

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