Harvesting and Storing Your Survival Garden Seeds

pea-1205673_1280With harvest wrapping up, it is time to start preserving your fruits and veggies. When you are going through the preservation process, make sure you save the seeds. Hopefully, you used heirloom seeds to plant and are now going to be reaping the joys of your hard work in buying the right seeds. All the stuff you would normally toss to the livestock during your preservation process needs to be gone through so you can pick out the seeds. Those seeds need to be dried and stored to use next year and the following years.

Storing heirloom seeds the right way is important in order to ensure they are going to be viable for years to come. If you bought heirloom seeds or a survival seed package, they need to be stored properly. Don’t waste your time and money buying seeds and then not taking the time to stash them away so they are going to be useful.

If you are going to dry your own, make sure you dry them thoroughly. Leave them in a sunny window for a couple of weeks, turning them every few days so they can dry evenly. Spreading them on a cookie sheet is one way to keep them in place while they dry.seeds

Once the seeds are completely dry, you will want to put them either in a Mason jar or plastic bags. Add a silica gel packet to the container to absorb any leftover moisture. Store the seeds in the back of the pantry. If you can store them in the refrigerator or freezer that will work too. If you are going to store them in the fridge, put the container inside a paper bag to block the light from the refrigerator.

You can keep seeds for several years or more and they will remain viable. You may lose some viability, but storing a lot of seed ensures you will still have crops and those crops will produce more seeds.

An Emergency Blanket is More than Just a Blanket

wilderness survival kitEvery bug out checklist you find or stockpile checklist you come across will have a survival blanket or what are sometimes referred to as emergency blankets or Mylar blankets on the list. If you have ever gotten your hands on one of these and opened up the tiny, wallet-size packages, you may be wondering what all the fuss is. Like, how is that thin, fragile piece of shiny material going to save your life.

It really can. Despite it’s relatively fragile condition, it is extremely useful and effective at keeping you warm. Keep in mind; not all emergency blankets are created equal. There are some that are incredibly thin and they will shred with just the slightest tug. Because these are such a vital part of your bug out bag and survival, it is worth it to spend a couple extra bucks and buy the good ones rather than to go cheap. Have at least one quality blanket in your bag and a few of the lesser-quality ones to use for purposes other than covering your body.

What other purposes? Well, there are many, many ways you can use those blankets in a survival situation.bug out bag

1. Place a blanket behind a fire so the heat reflects back on you or into your shelter.
2. Use a blanket to signal for help.
3. Use the blanket to make a lean-to.
4. Use a blanket to put over the top of your A-frame shelter.
5. As a poncho to help keep you dry.
6. Make a sling for an injured arm.
7. Cover a window with a blanket to stop drafts.
8. Use a blanket as a barrier between you and the cold ground.
9. Braid strips of a blanket together to form cordage.
10. Tear shreds of a blanket to mark trails if you have to go out hunting or foraging.

There are plenty of more uses for the blankets. You may not even know you can use it for something until you are in the moment. Buy the blankets in bulk. Once you have opened them, you are never going to get them back down to the size of a credit card. They are flimsy and they will tear. Have several in your pack just to be on the safe side.

Preparing to Fight Your Own Fires After a Disaster

fire-175966_1280One thing many of us takes for granted today is the ability to call 9-1-1 and get help with whatever serious problem we are dealing with. One of the services we rarely think about is the fire department. Hopefully, you haven’t had to call them at any point, but if you have, you are probably very grateful for their quick response in saving your home or putting out a fire that threatens your property or life.

Now, think about what would happen after a major disaster. If the fire department is still functioning, they are going to be stretched thin. You may call for help, but they may simply not have the resources to get there. They have to decide what is more important; your home or whatever it is they are focusing their efforts on at the moment. You are on your own.

As with anything, the best defense is a good offense, especially in fire fighting. Do what you can to eliminate fire hazards around your home. Make sure you have plenty of working smoke detectors that will give you early warning of a fire. A fire that has spread to several rooms or even consumed a single room is going to be a huge problem and very difficult to stop with your limited means.fire-717504_1280

If you are in a rural area, create defensible space around your home, just in case of a wildfire. Cut back tree limbs and keep the area directly around your home green or make it rocks. If you are surrounded by fields, it will be especially important you have defensible space. Having a metal roof will certainly improve the odds of you saving your home in a wildfire if it is embers that are the issue.

Have plenty of fire extinguishers at the ready and know how to use them. Have them in the house, the garage, the car and in your barn. You won’t have time to run here or there to track down a fire extinguisher. It is also a good idea to have a manual hand pump for your well, just in case the power is out and your well pump is out.

Learn how to extinguish small grease fires in the kitchen before they become raging infernos. Keep flour on hand in the kitchen or near your outdoor grill to quickly put out a grease fire. Make sure everyone in the house knows your evacuation plan in case of a fire.

Remember, nothing in your home is more valuable than your life, not even your stockpile. Get out if you can’t put the fire out. Don’t try to tackle a fire that is already roaring. Be vigilant and do what you can to prevent fires in the first place.

Is La Nina a Legit Threat?

hurricane-67581_640If you live anywhere on the west side of the United States, you have probably heard a lot about La Nina. La Nina is a mean witch who is threatening to dump boat loads of snow on parts of the country. If you live on the east coast, you have also heard about La Nina. The southeast may get more violent hurricanes with this change in weather patterns. Basically, it is a real threat that everyone needs to prepare for. The entire world will experience some extreme weather, good and bad.

People who live in the northern parts of the country expect snow, but extreme snow is rare. Snow in the north is a part of life. However, no matter how much you expect it, when Mother Nature dumps more than 96 inches of snow in a matter of weeks, it is going to cause some problems. It has been almost 10 years since the last La Nina. For those that remember, it was an excellent year for the ski resorts in the northwest and parts of Utah and Colorado. This winter seems to be shaping up that way as well.snow WV

Are you ready?

If you live in an area that is likely to get a great deal of snow, you need to start preparing for the worst now. Don’t wait until it happens. That will leave you scrambling to get your hands on what you need because all of the other procrastinators took it all. Do what you can to start getting what you need now. The following list includes some of the things you will likely need.

  • Snow shovels—the metal ones will hold up longer than the cheap plastic ones
  • Tire chains
  • Rock salt or bulk bags of salt to deice your walkways
  • A roof rake
  • Stockpile of food and water just in case you can’t get to the store
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Emergency radio—the crank style works great
  • Snow blower—heck of a lot easier than shoveling
  • Load up on winter gear i.e. boots, gloves, hats
  • Feed for the animals if you have them
  • Generator—if you can afford it, you will appreciate being able to have electricity

This list is certainly not comprehensive, but it will get you off to a good start. If you have the ability to budget a new generator, snow blower or even a plow, go for it. You can never be too prepared. Don’t wait until you are buried under several feet of snow to figure out you need something like a good, sturdy snow shovel.

Stepping Up Your Medical Prepping Supplies

first aidEvery prepper has a basic first aid kit at the very minimum stashed away somewhere. Then there are those who have upped their stockpiles to include several sizes and boxes of bandages and what not. They realize that a single injury is not likely. After a major disaster, there are going to be numerous injuries and a wound will require daily bandage changes for weeks. One injury will deplete the basic first aid supplies the average prepper keeps on hand.

You need to up your game if you are truly serious about taking care of your family for the long term. Injuries can be minor or severe. A serious injury doesn’t necessarily mean death. You just need to learn some basic medical procedures like suturing, setting broken bones and reducing dislocations. Having the appropriate medical equipment will be the key to taking care of those serious, but not necessarily life-threatening injuries.

Along with really upping your supply of standard bandages, medical tape and gloves, considering adding the following items to your medical supplies.first-aid-kit-59645_640

  • Skin stapler—much quicker and easier than suturing
  • Suture kits—have a variety of needle sizes that are already threaded and ready for use
  • Tactical Cric Kit—if you need to make an emergency airway for someone, you will want this
  • QuikClot or hemostatic gauze
  • Scalpels in varying sizes
  • Israeli bandage—this is an excellent tool to use if you have a wound that needs direct pressure and you are all alone
  • Surgical drapes–needed to create a sterile field

While these things may seem a little scary, you can learn how to use them. When you are in a dire situation where a person will die if you don’t do something, these tools will give you the best shot at saving lives.

Bug Out Vehicles? Necessity or a Waste of Time?

all-terrain-vehicle-1351034_960_720Preppers are all about bugging out when it hits the fan. Nobody wants to stick around and see what kind of mess a major natural disaster, terrorist attack or the effects of a power grid failure will have. Getting out of dodge is the goal. It gives you the best advantage in the survival game. Sticking around in the middle of a city or busy suburb puts you at risk of encountering other survivors. Sadly, the majority of survivors will not be all that friendly. Those that managed to live through the initial disaster are going to be desperate. They want what you, the smart, savvy prepper, has.

When you think about bugging out, you assume it is you and the family carrying backpacks and hoofing it for 20 or 30 miles out of town. Have you ever actually walked 20 miles? What about 5 miles? It is tough. It is even tougher if the terrain is rough and you are carrying a heavy pack. For some folks, they may need to go at least 60 miles to get out of the city and into the forest where they will seek shelter.

That is a hard day’s work. There is also the issue that walking takes time. You are at an increased risk of being seen. You could be captured, injured or forced to fight. You will be outside in the elements for several days. If there isn’t a source of water on your journey, you risk dehydration. This is why many preppers are investing in a bug out vehicle.jeep-1318706_960_720

A bug out vehicle is one that is tough enough to go off road. It is big enough to carry you and your family and the supplies you need to survive. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it should be reliable. Check out some of the other things you should look for in a bug out vehicle.

  • Four-wheel drive
  • Slightly raised to give you better clearance
  • Durable
  • Bully bars will protect the radiator when you need to push through objects
  • Light rack for additional lighting
  • Winch—just in case you get stuck

You don’t have to have a new truck or jeep. It can be one that is old and beat up that you can customize. In fact, older vehicles that don’t rely on computers are ideal because they will not be disabled should the disaster you are dealing with is an EMP from a nuclear detonation or a solar flare. A bug out vehicle is one of those things you should consider budgeting for. It will make things easier when it is time to bug out.

Prepping in a Tiny Home

garden-shed-931508_960_720The tiny home movement continues to gain attention as more and more people give up on the big American dream of owning a big house with a white picket fence. The mortgage and upkeep that goes along with that dream is more of a nightmare for most. The fear of losing your job, getting ill and being unable to pay the bills or having some kind of tragedy strike that makes it difficult to pay the bills is on the minds of people all around the world.

Too many people end up with nothing after having it all, including the immense stress. This is why a lot of people are abandoning the big house and the big mortgages and going tiny. They are doing more with less. They are giving up the worldly treasures that are more like a ball and chain. You can’t take your big flat screen to the grave. Life is about living for the moment and treasuring the memories you made, not the things you bought.

Many tiny home dwellers are also preppers. They have a unique situation. They can’t stockpile a year’s worth of food and water in their pantry. That doesn’t mean people who live in tiny homes or even small apartments can’t stockpile and prep. It is about getting creative. Thinking outside of the box and making the most of every inch available.carriacou-1567544_960_720

Most tiny homes are set up on a rural tract of land, which is perfect for a prepper. This gives you plenty of space to garden and even raise livestock. You can put up a security fence that will keep people off your land. Your safety and the protection of your supplies is going to be a bit more difficult in a tiny home, so your perimeter must be extra secure.

You will need to have a root cellar or some kind of additional storage on the property. It is simply not feasible to stockpile more than 30 days worth of food in a tiny home. You can of course utilize the space under the furniture you have in the home. Most tiny homes have very high ceilings. Adding shelving to the upper 7 or 8 feet of the ceiling will use the open space without taking up any room below. The space under the tiny home can also be utilized for storage. It would be a good idea to use rubber totes or 5-gallon buckets for this area.

Never assume you can’t be a prepper because you don’t live in the ideal environment or home. Look for alternatives. Every little can of food you put on the shelf is one more day of survival. If stockpiling is going to be next to impossible, hone your gardening, foraging and hunting skills.

Getting Ready for Winter in the Middle of Summer

firewoodIf you live in mountain country or an area where wood heat is a staple, you have probably already started collecting the wood you will burn through winter. Relying on a woodstove to heat a home is a common practice for many in cold areas because it tends to be cheaper and more reliable. A winter storm that knocks out the power can leave those who rely on a furnace for heat in the cold. No power and no heat can be life-threatening. As a prepper, you need to have a backup heat source, like a woodstove or a fireplace. It is common sense and often one of the first things on the list for a prepper.

The investment into a woodstove will run you anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on the size of the stove and how much work needs to be done to install a chimney. If you can swing it, this is the summer to get it done. Buying a woodstove out of season is going to get you the best deals. You can get the clearance models that need to go before the new stock comes in for the upcoming winter.snow WV

Once you get your fireplace or woodstove in, it is time to start stockpiling wood. Depending on the size of your house and the average winter temperature, you could burn anywhere from 2 to 10 cords of wood. You have a couple of options for getting wood.

You can have it delivered already cut and ready to be stacked in a shed or somewhere you can keep it relatively out of the weather. You can save a little money by having rounds delivered, but you better be ready to do a lot of work. You will need to split the giant rounds in order to get the right size logs for your stove.

Another option is going to cut the wood yourself. You can buy a permit from the forest service that allows you a certain amount of wood. You will only want to take downed trees. In many cases, you will need a chain or some way to drag the log down a hillside. From there, you will need to use a chainsaw to cut the wood small enough to load into your truck or trailer. Once you get home, it is more cutting, splitting and stacking.

If you have your own property, you can use downed trees as a source of wood. You are also free to chop down any trees on your property and use those for wood. You will of course want them to dry out for several months to a year before you try burning.

Now is the time to think about winter readiness. You never know when the first winter blast is going to hit and getting caught unprepared could be disastrous.

Skills Matter—Knowledge is Only Half the Survival Battle

startup-594127__340There are two kinds of preppers. The kind that read and study and are endless resources of information and then there are those who do. The doers are learning by trial and error through actual experience. While neither way is technically the right way, it is pretty safe to say the doers are probably going to fare better in a true post SHTF situation.

Knowledge is power, but reading about starting a fire with a spark from a magnesium stick and actually knowing exactly how to hold the stick and how close to the tinder bundle it needs to be are two different things. Armchair preppers need to get out from behind the computer and get out into the wild from time to time. These knowledgeable armchair preppers do have their place in a post-apocalypse world. They will be a fountain of information and they can certainly direct others on what they should do, but if this kind of prepper is all alone, talking to the air isn’t going to help.scouts

There are a ton of skills that go along with survival; prepping, homesteading, growing food, raising animals and so on. Reading how to make cheese and actually making cheese are very different. Reading about butchering livestock and getting your hands bloody doing it will definitely be a shock to the system. Survival is messy business and if you aren’t used to or expecting the ick, you are going to have a tough time coping.

Get up, get out and get doing. Put your knowledge to the test and use the information you have gathered through research to really test your skills. Don’t wait until you actually need the skills to give them a trial run.

Are Your Kids Too Young to Be Preppers?

forest-386751_960_720Preppers come from all walks of life and tend to be chameleons. They blend in, doing what they can to keep their prepping practices on the down low. Usually, the whole family is involved in the prepping in some way, shape or form. However, there are some parents who take care of the bulk of the prepping needs and just assume they will be around to guide the kids and tell them what to do. But, what if you are not there? What if you are incapacitated somehow? Wouldn’t you want the kids to be able to take care of themselves or take care of you if needed?

Some people ask, “How old should my kids be before we start teaching them about prepping and survival?” The answer is simple—they are never too young. Prepping is a lifestyle. Your children learn from you from the very moment they enter the world. You have a very pliable little human in your hands, ready for your teaching. Use it wisely.

Kids should be taught basic survival skills early on. How many times have we heard about toddlers wandering off and getting lost in the woods overnight or being gone for days. There are plenty of miracle stories about those babies living through their ordeal. If, by some chance your little one finds himself/herself in a similar position, don’t you want them to be somewhat knowledgeable about what to do?children-770258_640

When you are stocking the shelves, putting together bug out bags or storing water, explain why you are doing such things to your children. Have them help you. Talk about what to do in various scenarios. When you are out and about, have the child keep an eye out for things that would be good to add to the storage shelves. Take them camping often and let them get some real practice.

Make it a family affair. Teach them so they are ready and feel more secure when things do go south. Having more hands on deck is only going to help you and them survive whatever comes your way.