Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Preparedness: Water

Water is the number 1 necessity of life so it's important to have a good supply or readily available source. I have off and on stored water for years and one thing on our 'to do' list for the homestead is an underground cistern to store water. Instead of the usual large plastic tanks though, we've been looking into investing in a large culvert and burying it in the ground as a storage tank.

On our property we have a few cisterns and wells already in place. My plan this summer is to have the water tested. Also on my to purchase list is a new hand pump or replacement parts for our existing hand well as it is broken (notice the missing handle above...).

In addition to these existing promising storage areas, I also store water in the basement in heavy plastic vinegar bottles. In fact, it's time to empty out the water and refill with fresh so I'll use the water to water plants around the house until they are all refilled. I meant to do this last summer for the garden but it slipped my mind...These count mostly towards our 72 hour stash of water. Unfortunately, this water ONLY covers for the members in our house and not our livestock. I am still working on a system for them. On our homestead, we have 2 small ponds that contain a bit of water storage. We have talked of enlarging the pond in the pasture to provide more water. We also have an old bathtub out there that we hope to convert into a water trough. Lots of plans around here but so little time to actually implement them.

Other plans on the homestead include a solar shower for bathing during warmer months as well as a solar system or wood burning system to heat water for the boiler.

In addition to storing water, it's good to store ways to purify the water, especially if you have open sources that can become polluted. We have ways to purify on hand:

~micropur tablets
~various water filters (big berkey, seychelle water bottles, aquamira water straw, aquamira frontier pro water filter)

It's good to have several ways to purify on hand, that way you can cross purify if necessary.

Do you store water? If so, what do you store it in? Do you have special considerations such as animals? How do you plan to provide water for them? Do you store methods of purifying water as well? What types of purification do you prefer? Do you take into consideration other water needs such as heating for bathing or household heat?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homestead Plans 2012

Looking ahead to our plans for this year and what I'd like for us to accomplish. This list will be updated/added to as things pop into my head.

Grain production:
-grow oats again, for both milky oats and dried for consumption
-grow millet for consumption

Animal feed production:
-grow alfalfa and red clover for medicinal and for hay
-fence in pasture #2
-mend fences for orchard for kids pasture (we did this temporarily last year and it worked well to keep the kids separated from their mamas and kept the orchard from becoming overgrown w/o damaging the trees)

Winter gardening:
-finish greenhouse

Food storage:
-old freezer root cellar (i wanted to do this with both our dead deep freeze and fridge but it seems the fridge succumbed to target practice)

Water storage:
-get rain barrels set up

Garden production:
-up production of sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips and carrots
-work on fall gardening crops
-incorporating more permaculture concepts

Homestead purge:
-clean out the spare shed completely
-butcher old hens that are no longer laying (some we will use for stewing, some will become dog/cat feed)

-create outdoor sleeping area for summertime

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preparedness: 72 Hour Personal Kit

"Every survival kit should have a sense of humor!" - Author unknown

One thing I've been doing for several years now is creating a 72 hour personal kit, sometimes known as a BOB which stands for Bug Out Bag. Mostly I assemble them in the winter months to put in the truck in case we break down so we can have a change of clothes, food and water, warmth and entertainment. They've come in handy a few times to keep the kids entertained and happy while we waited for a tow.

I change mine out every 6 months: one for colder months and one for warmer months. I prepare them for emergency purposes such as tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, etc. They are currently stored in the house but I plan to store them outside. Once I get my own vehicle again, they will be stored in the back as I used to do. Since we are down to 1 vehicle, I don't have them in the truck although we do have some emergency supplies in there.

Most states have their own emergency management page with recommendations for what to store. They are all basically the same but it's interesting to view various ones and get different perspectives on what is needed. Don't just stick with what your state recommends, seek out other states as well. Missouri has a good one. There are federal websites as well. This website is a great site for finding out information about natural disasters that could happen in your own state. They even have a section for kids.

There are several sections to each personal bag: clothing, personal hygiene, food/water, survival and entertainment. Each person gets a back pack. I am in the process of trying to find some internal frame back packs for my partner, myself and the older 2 kids and will upgrade as funds allow.

Each pack contains:

Winter Clothing:
1 set long underwear bottoms
2 pairs wool socks
1 pair jeans (mine also includes a skirt since I usually only wear skirts)
1 long sleeved shirt
1 short sleeved shirt or tank top
1 pair underwear for those who wear them
1 hooded sweatshirt
1 pair gloves/mittens combo
1 stocking hat
1 raincoat
1 pair heavy work gloves

Summer Clothing:
1 pair shorts (1 shortish skirt for mine)
1 tank top
1 long sleeved shirt
1 pair long pants (love zip off short pants for kids)
1 pair cotton socks
1 raincoat
1 pair heavy work gloves

Personal hygiene:
1 toothbrush in a ziplock bag
1/4 bar homemade soap in a ziplock bag
1 wash cloth in a ziplock bag
1 comb or brush (none for me)
1 piece flannel
4 hair ties for long haired members
1 roll toilet paper
1 container homemade tooth powder
1 sponge in ziplock bag(for menstruating members of the household)
1 extra pair of contacts and contact case (me only)
1 stick lip balm
1 travel towel

(this counts as part of our 72 food kit)
Various methods for purifying water**:
    1 package micropur water tablets PLUS

    1 water straw

    or 1 frontier pro water filter 
    plus 2 platypus water bags (see jason klass video on how-to make a filtration system)

    or seychelle water bottle
plus 1 water bottle - klean kanteen

1 bag beef jerky
2 lara bars
1 bag dried fruit
1 bag nuts
1 can meat
1 bottle vitamin d3
1 oz. iosol iodine

1 notebook

1 pencil or pen
1 pack crayons or other coloring tools (pencils/watercolors)

1 book (activity for smaller, reading or sudoku puzzle for older)

Various game creators (go fish for art deck, pyramath deck, gypsy deck of cards, set of dice, travel mancala, tangram game, etc) plus game book. Other travel games we may get: go, sudoku

2 handwarmer packets (4 total)
1 small LED flashlight (with batteries removed)
6 AAA batteries (for the flashlight, enough for 2 sets)
1 bandana
2 emergency blankets (1 for laying on, 1 for wrapping up in)
1 fleece blanket
1 pocket knife and/or multi-tool (depending on age of person)
1 whistle (and I've got extras of these for the kids to wear when they go out to play in the woods behind our house)
1 firesteel miniature (bought off their website for .99)

1 lighter
20 dollars
1 emergency candle
1 mini compass (also from

1 dust mask
1 laminated morse code sheet (that website has a fun way to learn morse code)

In most cases, we would not be leaving our home. We have more than enough here to keep us sustained and even if our house were leveled, we have several outbuildings and ways to build temporary shelters. We also have an old fashioned phone that plugs into the wall and is corded. I need to find an adapter for it as it is currently wired to be hard wired into the phone line but if push came to shove, we could just hard wire it into the telephone line.

Common Bag:
In one bag, most likely mine or the food box, the following items will be placed:
*1 copy of important papers (housing paperwork, drivers licenses, car registration, divorce papers, copy of my eye glass prescription, etc.)
*1 rechargeable radio/NOAA - I am considering the Freeplay Eyemax radio with weatherband

*1 manual can opener
*3 garbage bags
*1 bottle sea salt in grinder

*list of address/phone numbers of out of state friends/family
*maps, local and state for navigating in case roads are messed up from natural disasters

*1 roll duct tape
*First Aid Kit (one for the truck, one larger one for the home/camping)

Also, separately I have a bag with metal plates, bowls and silverware along with cloth napkins. We take this with us whenever we go to potlucks, etc. where we will be eating away from home so we don't have to use styrofoam, plastic or paper items. It is easy to grab as well although if we were grabbing our camping equipment we wouldn't need it. During the summer it is often already in the truck.

Also ready to grab:
Sleeping bags
Thermarest matts
gas can
water cans (5 gallon containers)**

**A note on water:
I store water and use old vinegar bottles to do it. But, if we had to leave, I most likely would not take much ready to use water with me although we do have 2 or 3 5 gallon camping containers that we could fill up if need be. We would probably to start off with but water is pretty abundant in this area and we have iodine and water filters plus we could boil water and grab a bottle of bleach as well. If you are in a drier area (sw) you might consider having more portable potable water on hand. We also have a Berkey water filter that we could take if need be or use here (it is a daily use item).

Have you built a 72 hour personal bag or BOB? What do you carry in yours? How do you handle bags for smaller children who cannot carry as much as older children or adults in case you had to walk to somewhere? Where do you store your BOB?

You can see all the posts in this series through my page tab at the top: preparedness. As I write more posts, I will update the page with the links.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Have Your Lost Your Senses?

Herbs play a large role in my life. I've been studying them for many years now but one thing I just started learning about a few years ago was the energetics of herbs. I wish I had been taught this from day one, it's such a great learning tool with herbal medicine.

Want to see how easy it is to learn about the energetics of herbs and their tastes? Watch this video of Rhiannon, Kiva Rose's daughter, demonstrating just that!

Regain your senses through the use of energetics and herbs!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Preparedness: Gluten Free 72 Hour Food Kit

I'm a big fan of preparedness, food storage and creating 72 hour kits for emergencies. I mean, seriously, we're on a major fault line and in the tornado zone plus we can get some pretty nasty winter weather which could result in power outages. So, we've got a few things to be ready for.

One thing I'm not a fan of is the recommendation to store up foods that are full of preservatives, nitrates, food dyes and such. I have a chemical sensitive kid and as an extra precaution, we decided to go gluten free as a family this year. I am fearing I may have to add corn and pasteurized dairy to that list as well. I already avoid hfcs and other processed corn but popcorn, cornmeal and fresh/frozen corn may have to go as well. Hopefully this is only temporary to heal him but one day at a time.

So, back to my quandary. Reading these charts of what to store. The suggested items for the most part are NOT a part of our daily diet. And well, since everyone who is into food storage knows the food storage motto 'store what you eat and eat what you store' that just won't fly for us. Not to mention I wouldn't want to store a bunch of food that would cause us gastric/emotional/physical distress during our normal lives let alone when we could possibly be stressed about a local natural disaster as well.

So, recently, I've started researching alternative things to put into my 72 hour kits for my family. While I wouldn't buy this to work towards long term storage for several reasons, I think it is a good compromise for  an emergency kit to get us through a few rocky days or weeks. I feel good about the items I've assembled for our kit knowing our family can eat them and not get sick from eating them.

I first started with this suggested list of food items:
1 lb dried fruit or trail mix per person
2 pkg soda crackers AND graham crackers per person (there are 4 pkgs per box)
4 granola bars per person
2 cans meat per person and 2 cans beans per person (chicken, tuna, etc and chili, etc.)
4 sticks beef jerky per person
1 pkg chewing gum per person
2 packets hot chocolate mix per person
2 instant soup packets per person
1 roll of toilet paper per person (tip: unroll the t.p. and put it into a ziploc bag. This way, it won't get crushed and it will stay clean. It also takes up less room)
1/2 lb dried milk per person
hard candy / lollipops

and tweaked it to suit us (number in parenthesis is how many we need total):

(06) 1 bag trail mix per person (1# each) - Rainbow's End from Trader Joe's
(06) 1 bag nuts per person (various weights) - Trader Joe's: Raw Almonds and Cashews, Pistashios, Macadamia nuts
(24) 12 oz. dried fruit per person - Mix from Aldi and Trader Joe's: Mangos, Apple rings, cranberries, apricots

We eat Trader Joe's trail mix, nuts and dried fruit regularly. Some of the dried fried I also got from Aldi who is owned by Trader Joe's (or vice versa). All that I buy are preservative and dye free.

(12) 2 pkg crackers per person 
Blue Diamond makes a variety of crackers that are fairly good. Still looking for other alternatives but for the price, they are the best so far.

Updated to add: Mediterranean Snacks Lentil Crackers are our hands down favorite crackers now. They come in 3 flavors: Cracked Pepper, Sea Salt and Rosemary. All are delicious. 

(48) 8 lara bars per person
I bought 3-16 packs of 3 different flavors. These are delicious, preservative free and filling. My co-op offered the best price for the case that I've found so far though Amazon is close.

(12) 2 cans meat per person (3 - chicken, 3 - tuna, 6 - salmon)
Trader Joe's sells bpa free cans of preservative free meat

(12) 2 cans beans per person 
Eden Brand's cans are organic, bpa free and amazon sells cases for a very good price. I got a couple of different kinds: black beans, red beans, garbanzo

(6) 2 pkts per day variety heat-n-eat vegetable blends
Tasty Bites have sealed packages of Indian foods that are good and don't have preservatives. I'll stash at least 3 different kinds of packages, most likely 2 of each to add flavor to beans and meats. While I don't normally like cooking foods in plastic, for an emergency I would use them. For everyday cooking, I'll remove them from the packets. 

UPDATE: Trader Joe's, bless their hearts, has a comparable version called Indian Fare that are in foil packets. I've not researched the foil packets yet so I have no idea if they are better for storing food than the plastic packages but they are a bit less expensive. I may do a mix of these and the Tasty Bites packages. 

(12) 2 pkg beef jerky per person
Once again, from Trader Joe's as they are preservative free, gluten free, msg free...a lot of people who review them online don't like them but our family does. Only the organic is gluten free though which is a bummer because I like their Buffalo Jerky.

(12) 2 pkg chewing gum per person
Glee Gum rocks! Gluten free, preservative free, aspartame free, made with sustainably harvested rainforest chicle. We usually get cinnamon and bubble gum flavor.
(12) 3 packets hot chocolate mix per kid
Still looking for a mix. I may have to package my own (we make it from scratch anyway for daily consumption).

(01) 1 lb. coffee beans
Just bought 1 bag of beans from Shop-n-Save for my partner, he's the only coffee drinker. Normally I buy him the Trader Joe's coffee because it's fair trade, organic and inexpensive.

(01) 1 box tea bags
I am the tea drinker (herbal). I opened a box of India Spice and left 6 bags in then added 6 bags peppermint and 6 bags chamomile so we have some for the kids too.

(6) 1 instant soup packets per person
Frontier Soups. I am excited to find this brand! I have only bought 1 bag so far and am going to try it out before buying for our kit but the blends are all natural, no preservatives, no gluten in a lot of them and they have something like 31 different flavors that are gluten free.

UPDATE: I changed the amount we need of this brand as 1 packet makes enough to feed all 6 of us for 1 meal. 6 packets would make 6 meals for us or 2 a day. I'm keeping it at 2 a day as the soups call for additional ingredients but if all we had available was water, we could make do so I'd possibly make 2 packets for 1 meal. The flavor we tried was the Potato Leek soup.

(36) 6 packs instant oatmeal per person
It is hard to find instant oatmeal without preservatives locally but found some I did! Glutenfreeda's and Nature's Path! I still need to double check Trader Joe's, I think they may be good too. If so, I will definitely go with them for the price. We haven't tried our glutenfreeda oatmeal yet but the tj oatmeal has been taste tested and passed with flying colors.

UPDATE: Trader Joe's are preservative free and most are gluten free. I have also found Nature's Path brand, again most are gluten free but not all. All are preservative free. Glutenfreda, for us is out, not because of taste but because of price.

(04) 1/2 lb dried milk per person
Not sure I'll stick to this recommendation. This is one of those things I dislike about food storage recommendation because we have dairy goats. We don't use a lot of milk from the store though we love ice cream, cheese, yogurt and butter. I buy raw cream to make our own butter/ghee and we use our own goat's milk to make yogurt, soft cheese and ice cream. but, it would be nice to have some on hand in case it's the off season (like right now) while our goats are gestating. I may go with only 2 packages instead of 4.

(24)1 pkg. hard candy / lollipops
I buy the 5# package of Yummy Earth lollipops then we have a great time working our math skills to separate all the flavors and divide them up into ziplock bags for long term storage. The kids love them and I love that they are free of food dyes, corn syrup and other nasty stuff. I added 3 of each flavor into a quart size ziplock bag for our 72 hour food kit. They also make gummy bears and small fruit candies.

So that currently comprises our 72 hour food kit. It's packed in a plastic bin that can be thrown in the back of the truck in case we have to leave home and stay with friends or family for awhile. We'll have enough food to keep us fed and not be a burden on our friends/family while eating what we are used to eating and not having to go off our diet. It is currently in the house but will be stored in an outbuilding when I'm finished assembling it.

This kit will be rotated every 6 months, we'll eat the food in the kit and I'll repack with fresh food. Since I usually buy this food at the grocery stores and from amazon, it's no big deal to rotate out twice a year.

In case of lack of electricity, if we were stuck at home, we could use our wood stove to cook on and often do anyway just to save on propane (I've even baked in it). In case we had to leave and the place we go to doesn't have electricity, we would include our camp kit which has 2 2burner gas stoves, several single burner stoves plus all the cooking equipment (pans, bowls, plates, etc) we would need (look for a future post on our camp kit).
For water I plan to get enough aquamira straws for every person in the household and maybe a few more Seychelle water bottles. They come in 4 different colors so maybe one of each color for the kids. (For a more thorough list of our water filtration, see the 72 hour family kit post).

Have you created a 72 hour food kit? Do you have any special considerations in your diet that you've had to work around? How have you adjusted the 'typical' 72 hour food kit to accommodate your needs? I'd love to hear all about any changes you've made!
Next time I'll discuss the rest of our 72 hour kit and how we customize it to our family.

You can see all the posts in this series through my page tab at the top: preparedness. As I write more posts, I will update the page with the links.
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