The War Against Germs; Blood Borne Pathogens and Parasites and the Wild Game Food Supply

Blood borne pathogens and parasites can be dangerous to humans.  They can be found in animals for food and animals not for food, the increasing risk of rabies, cat scratch fever, rabbit fever and many other dangerous tiny life forms. Not to mention fleas (that bite for blood) and ticks (the vampires of the insect world), among other insects, that bring their own special set of risks of infection.

Image from page 331 of "Diseases of the dog and their treatment" (1911)When a world changing event (WCE) happens, it is best to have as much knowledge as possible stuffed into all the brains of the people who will be sharing your living space.  The more people know about blood borne pathogens and parasites, the more likely the survival of the group.  This includes a good working knowledge of blood borne pathogens.  We’re not saying you have to be a molecular biologist. But it is important to know which meat and poultry sources are more likely than others to carry diseases and parasites that can cause illness or diseases among your group.  Everything from squirrels to pigeons find their way to the dinner table during hard times.

The most obvious risks when acquiring your meat in the wild are disease and parasite carrying fleas and ticks.  Salmonella, rabies and rickettsialpox are just a few possibilities.  Also consider hantavirus, trichinosis, mosquito-borne encephalitis, and Haverhill fever that range from the mild to the deadly.  They are found in all living wild and domesticated animals and fowl. The wild thing is more likely to have something to make you sick than not.  You can still eat them, but now that you know the risk is great, you can negate the risks by religiously following certain procedures.

  • Do not handle or eat animals that look sick or behave unusual manners.  What ever is killing them might make you sick or kill you.
  • Do not eat animals that are already dead.  You don’t know why they died, nor how long they have been dead.  Pay attention to the “eeww” factor.  You will likely get sick from them.
  • Bury any dead animals you find deep enough to keep other wild animals from digging them up and eating them. Three feet might be enough, but six feet is best. Pay attention to your water supply so that the dead animal is not buried close enough to your river or lake to contaminate it.  Dead animals might contaminate other wild life you plan to add to your food supply.  Do not touch the animal with your body or clothing while doing this.  Use sticks to push the animal around, then burn the stick.  Never open the grave of a dead animal, even if you are just going to add another.  Opening the graves will cause pathogens to become airborne making them easy to breathe in and contaminate your body and your clothing.
  • Wear disposable clothing and gloves when handling, skinning or cleaning wild animals.  If this is not possible, read the article about using an autoclave to sterilize equipment and proper cleaning of clothing items.
  • Properly dispose of carcasses and unusable wild game parts as soon as possible and as far away from your home as possible.   It’s most ideal to burn them, but burial a long distance from the home at a suitable depth is the next best choice.
  • Do not let meats contaminate any item that can’t be washed or sterilized by chemical or heat.
  • Handle carefully and cook wild game thoroughly before eating.
  • You can never use too much soap and hot water cleaning up after handling wild game!

Hunters and trappers who take game to a processor after the hunt should consider processing the meat yourself so that you and the other members of your group are well educated in these processes.  Learning to do them now means you will have access to excellent medical care and pharmaceuticals should you become infected.  If you wait to learn when you need it, after a WCE it might be impossible to get the quality of medical care you need.  The loss of the food from poor handling would unimportant after you die.

Lastly, all states offer a food handling certification course.  They are really cheap or free.  Everyone should take the a course from the most knowledgeable people available.  Make sure you take your list of questions!!  This will go a long way to making sure you understand how to protect your family’s health.

 

The War Against Germs; Introduction to Biological Preparedness

Mycobacterium tuberculosis Bacteria, the Cause of TBOne common thread among those who prepare is the concern about biological warfare as a world changing event (WCE).  People most concerned with germ warfare have products and plans in place if such an event should occur.  But, that does nothing to stop any “normal” germs that might enter your home or may already be there.  And, let’s face it, no one should live in a germ free environment unless he has a compromised immune system.  For the normal person, a normal cleanliness regimen and proper housekeeping should be okay for the everyday germs.

Still, no one wants to get a nasty case of the trots or another serious illness because they used a modern product when an antique product would have worked much better in a society where there is no electricity.  Let’s consider the many who plan to revert to the ways of  our ancestors during the years 1850 – 1900.  However, they will continue to do things using modern methods and products.  They will raise and prepare meat and produce at home or trade among their small community of like-minded members.  This is all well and good, wonderful!  Unless they didn’t think ahead and learn the skills they will need to remain free of nasty germs that could put an end to their community before it has a chance to recover from the WCE.

It is important to also note that modern times has brought many micro-organisms that didn’t travel at the same rate in the 1800s, as well as the mutations over time.  Communities were much more closed then they are today.  Even so, how were people in those times able to keep themselves from getting so many nasty illnesses as those which so easily span the globe now?  How were they able to prevent food borne illnesses?  Truly, there are some mirco-organisms that should cause concern.

It is with these thoughts in mind that this series, The War Against Germs, is created.  Each week we will post a new article covering one of the many important topics about pathogens that may already live in our environment.  We hope you find it useful when you consider how you prepare for a WCE.

What do you say when people think you’re crazy for being a Prepper?

We hear, all the time, we are crazy for preparing for hard times ahead. Many people believe because we live in the best country in the world nothing, as bad as we think, will ever happen here. When we disagree, they look at us like we grew two heads. They think we’re lunatics and need to be locked up in the looney bin. So, what do you say when people think you’re crazy for being a prepper? How can you get them to consider we might be right?

First, no amount of explanation can get through to the really stiff neck people who simply refuse to accept all the signs of decay in our country. For these people no amount of reasoning will persuade them. However, if you mention our fears concerning where our country is headed and the person seems to listen…you might be able to plant seeds of understanding by telling them what you believe and what you are doing to prepare.

Tell them about our loss of freedoms little by little through the years and the intrusion of the government into our daily lives. Ask them how we are supposed to sustain the increase of national debt and how long can we continue to over spend?  How long can a decreasing amount of working people support and increasing amount of people who don’t work and expect increased welfare and support? Never in the history of our country has there been more people collecting support from the government than those working and paying taxes. This alone can damage an already weak economy, much less all the other problems.

Next, we have a group of activists, raised in our country, who wish to bring us down to the level of third world countries. They believe Americans have too much and our lives are too cushy. They push the idea of equality for all people and put down the wealthy…even those who worked to build their businesses through hard work and fortitude. They want everyone in the world to live the same…except them of course. They want to rule the world from their lofty places and fancy mansions.

Add the above problems to the fact, whether we want to accept it or not, there are people in our world who hate us and want our country to fall. They hate our free market system, our freedoms and most of all our faith. These people have vowed to destroy us and our way of life. Many of them already live in our country. We never know when they will decide it’s time to push their beliefs and begin our destruction.

Anything could tip the scales and bring devastation in our nation. If or when any major event happens, our country could totter. From there it wouldn’t take much to make it collapse. If that happens, even those of us who have prepared will have a difficult time. Those who have not will suffer greatly and many will die.

If people will listen at all, tell them your preparations. Most are practical things everyone can do to make themselves more independent. Share the idea of heirloom seeds, canning more of their own food and raising a vegetable garden. Having three to six months or more of food is a great start. It’s important to gather seeds, canning jars and lids, gardening needs, along with medical supplies, guns and ammo, etc. while we can.

Most of all, encourage them to prepare their hearts. We must come to realize we cannot help everyone. That in itself will be challenging. But knowing you may have to defend yourself from those who would steal your provisions will be very hard. However, it could make the difference between life and death for you and your family. You must be prepared to make the difficult decisions. Being a Prepper is challenging, but we are sure you’re up to the task.

You can visit us at: FleetotheMountains.com

What Happens When the Unexpected Happens?

As we prepare and plan for the future, we always remember to live for today.  We enjoy our time together and with our family as much as possible.  For us, it just so happens we enjoy camping, hunting and fishing.  We don’t mind being away from the amenities of city life.  Redfish likes to spend time with the birds and enjoys watching their antics.  We both enjoy the garden and picking fresh things to eat.  Yesterday we pulled fresh carrots and cut some nice broccoli.

But, for us the unexpected happened, which is why there has been a decreasing amount of activity on this site.  For many years Redfish has had unexplained health issues.  Most doctors told her it was depression or arthritis.  None took her seriously.  When she told them about this symptom or that, they either said it was imaginary or ignored it as something not worth note.  Then after some years, things would get better and she would be her old self again.  This cycle has gone on for about 35 years.

Last fall she entered another one of these cycles, which we both thought was another bout of depression.  That’s what we’ve been told so many times before, even though we didn’t believe it.  She got shingles, then cervical cancer, and skin cancer in a three month period of time.  None of these were fatal nor even cause for great alarm because they could be taken care of, removed, or would go away.  But they did get her to thinking about her mortality.

But, even when things were supposed to be getting better, they were not.  In fact, they were getting worse.  Swelling, fatigue from hell, and pain everywhere.  Asthma was flaring more than usual. Headaches a near constant companion.  Finally, eight doctors and 35 years later, someone knew what was wrong.  Lupus.  It was a devastating diagnosis.

How could that many doctors miss this for so long?  What now?  What are the damages of being untreated for 35 years?  What is the life expectancy after diagnosis?  All of these questions and more came bubbling up through the whole family.

Mostly, Redfish was relieved.  She cried tears of relief because she finally knows why she gets tired, sore and achy.  There are answers for the myriad of other symptoms that came and went over the years.  Finally someone took her serious and investigated her symptoms.  She no longer feels guilty for needing a nap or wanting to take pain meds for her headaches and joint pain.  She understands why sometimes she can’t remember what day it is for more than 30 minutes.

Now what?  We have to choose what to do next and re-evaluate our priorities.  She’s going to keep her garden and birds, for now.  We will still be prepared for any emergency that may arise, but we are also working on ways to reduce stress in her life to slow the progress of Lupus as much as possible.  This web site will have to take a back seat.   Posts will be less often, but they will be meaningful.  

 

In a Post WCE, Where to get the Best Quality Seeds?

The simple answer is “from yourself”.  The only way this can happen is if you are already practicing the skills you need to secure the best possible seeds for next year’s crops.  Sure, many gardeners will tell you to choose the best plants to get the best seeds, but what they don’t tell you is how to consistently improve, over time, your ability to harvest the best produce possible.  As a matter of fact, you could produce a new variety of seeds through your efforts.

Start with the best quality seed you can get.  Seeds are expensive, so do your research.  Just because you have bought this or that brand for year after year does not mean you are in fact buying the best.

One of the most important things you can do is to keep a proper journal about your garden exploits.  Write down everything, every year.  Date every page.  Did it rain today?  How much?  Was it hotter or colder than normal today than last year on this day? Note it and log it.  What did you plant today?  Remember to log the germination rate each day.  There is no detail too small to consider adding to the journal about your garden or fields.  Why?  Because you will need that information after a WCE.  Then it will be too late to start gathering useful information for your region.  It takes years to gather what you need.  Some of it you can get from local garden experts, but your own experiences are more valuable than anyone else’s.

Test the germination rate for the seeds you plant every year.  You will know the rates for each company from which you buy seeds.  In this way you will better choose products that meet your needs best.  It is with these seeds that you will start your seed saving practices as well as your venture into creating a better and stronger variety of your favorite produce.

Since accuracy is important, keeping a separate journal for various produce so as not to get grape writings mixed up with apple writings might be a good idea.  Now for the good stuff.

When your plants are growing in the garden, continually watch them to see which are the best and worst.  When it comes time to harvest seed, choose only to harvest from the single best plant that has the best qualities you desire.  For the next planting season complete the steps over again.  Be sure to plant these seeds away from the possibility of pollination by any other source.

Each careful harvest gains seeds that are best suited to your environment and most resistant to the pests and diseases of your region.  In this manner you will create your own variety of plants and seeds.  Those, and your reputation for seed production will be valuable after a WCE.

Three Years After WCE, Will Your Garden Seeds Fail?

You did everything right.  You saved money, coins, what ever you needed to be able to trade.  You saved seeds for the Victory Garden and used them.  The world changing event happened, a WCE.  During the first three years you relied on the stash you had in the freezer, but you noticed each year the germination rate was down.  Every year you saved seeds from your garden, but still your garden got smaller and less productive each year.  Sometimes your garden produced weird plants because of cross pollination.  Some seeds failed to germinate producing no plant at all, or produced plants that produced no fruit.  If you don’t watch out, not only will you have nothing to trade, but you might not have any produce for your own needs.

Now you need to find a way to replenish your stash with good seeds.  You know some people trade them.  But in this new era seeds are highly prized and traders likely are not reliable to offer quality products.  They aren’t always “just seeds” any more.  They are the difference between life and death for many people.

In the future, after a WCE, you can expect the same things to happen as did during the 1800s.  Traders were less than honest.  They would knowingly sell seeds with a large amount of weed seed mixed into the lot.  How could they do it?  Simple.  They just bet on purchasers not being able to tell the difference between seeds that look very similar.

Lobelia Seeds
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Since dodder weed seed looks remarkably like clover seed, the buyer could be fooled.  Cheat looks like oat seed.  There are other weed seeds that can be passed to the untrained eye as crop seeds.  As reported in the 1860’s, some sellers knowingly sold impurities as much as 30% weed seeds.  This means that the farmer purchased 738,000 seeds per pound which he thought was for crops.  Instead, he planted 288,000 weeds.  Consider how much time, garden space, and money were wasted in this manner.  If one third of the seeds you purchase are no good, and worse, they grow weeds it will be a waste and possibly the difference between life or death for your family.  You will have at least one third less harvest under the best of circumstances.

Another way people would trick farmers is by bleaching old discolored seeds so they would not look old.  Then they mixed some good seeds in with them. Buyers would end up with old seed that couldn’t germinate.  They might get two or three crop plants for every 100 seeds planted.  The weed crop is doing fine.  The farmer might think it was something he was doing wrong.

Yet another way bad seed is sold is when they are not stored well, or are left to freeze before they are dry and are ruined.  The purchaser can’t always tell just by looking if the seeds have been improperly stored.  But the seller knows what he did if he grew them.  It will pay to know the seller very well.  It will be better if the seller is fully dependent on you for something he needs badly.

This could be why so many people gave up gardening between 1900 and 1950.  The amount of work involved far out weighed the benefit of the produce.  Farmers had to use more land to have a yield big enough to bring to market.  It was not until the U.S.D.A. stepped in and regulated production and sales that seeds and sellers were cleaned up.

Now, seed labels must specify the year for planting, and the expiration date.  Most states require the germination rate to be printed on the labels as well.  If it is not specified, it would be reasonable to assume not more than 70% germination rate.  So, if you need 100 plants, purchase enough seeds to cover the 30% reduction in germination.  You might be happy if it is a better rate, but will be sadly disappointed if the rate is less.

Which brings us to the last way seed sellers might sell old and improperly stored seeds.  Their packaging may be worn and tattered.  If so, don’t buy them, or only offer a small amount of trade for them.  Seeds exposed to light and heat are always less vital than well stored seeds.  Most seeds only store for three to five years under normal conditions, not frozen, and the germination rate is reduced by about 15% to 30% or more per year.

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After a WCE, how are you going to protect yourself from ruthless traders who would bring you bad seeds when you most need good ones?  Well, unless you have a microscope, pre-labeled seed slides, and some books to smarten you up, you can’t.

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Some seeds are so small you wouldn’t be able to see what you need to know with the naked eye. The slides need to be made by you so you know exactly what you are looking at, and you need to inspect the slides often to see how the seeds have degraded over time so you can gauge the age of the seeds being sold.  The books give you the valuable information that you can use for the rest of your life.  With repeated study you can learn to protect your seed supply both now and in the event of a WCE.

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Armed with these three things, a seed seller who is not trading fairly will not want to subject his product to your tests of quality.  Who knows, your ability to discern good from bad seeds might enable you to trade your skills and knowledge for seeds and other items you need.

Don’t Count on Shellfish as Part of Your Emergency Food Supply

The Japan nuclear melt down is to threaten most of the Pacific Ocean’s sea life.  There is controversy about how much contamination is “safe”.  Predictions about how fast the sea life will be decreased or depleted range from a few months to a few years.  Some species of sea life or plants might not be directly effected by the contamination, but humans may find it not fit for consumption.

Either way, it’s not good.  What species do survive might not be what we want to eat.  Not to mention the upset in the ecological balance of the oceans for the next 100 or so years.  Even if the predictions of U. S. waters and fishes being contaminated don’t come true, it gives one pause to think about what would happen in a world changing event.

Even without the contamination possibilities in the back of our minds, we already have plenty to think about in terms of the current state of the coastal waters and the food supply some people might have in their emergency plans.

Oyster bed on the Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina

The United States’ east coast Atlantic ocean is already polluted and many fish and shellfish are not edible or are going extinct from the waters.  The loss of oyster beds along both the east and west coasts leaves the only good oyster beds left in the Gulf of Mexico.  Now, most oysters and shellfish consumed in the U.S. and around the world are from Asia.

There are efforts in all areas of coastal waters to increase oyster beds and make better conditions for other coastal shellfish.  If the prepared are planning on those resources it needs to happen quickly.

 

Feed the Beef!

For the first several millennium, cattle lived off grass or whatever forage was around.  Cattle were leaner and typically had a lower weight than they do now.  Then some time after 1875, farmers started to wonder why pork was preferred over beef.  As it turned out, pork had more fat.  Fat was a valuable resource.  It was used for everything from making soap to preserving and cooking foods.  Besides all that, fat in foods gives it a silky feel and makes things taste yummy.

Cattle farmers decided they needed to see what they could do to increase fat content in beef.  With trial and error, farmers discovered feeding cattle a diet of strictly corn for the better part of the year yields a fatter, heavier, and tastier beef.  This spurred farmers to grow corn to meet the demand, and eventually cattle farms were relocated to regions where corn is produced to save on transportation costs of the grain.

Corn is a high energy food, if fed to any animal weight gain is going to happen.  Eventually farmers realized they could reduce the amount of corn fed to the animals if they confined them smaller lots.  This revelation reduced the time on expensive corn from eight or nine months to three months.  Finally, some farmers rationalize that by further restricting the amount of movement, beef would be more tender on just thirty days on corn feed.

Of course, restricting movement, keeping animals in extreme close quarters, and little or no variety of feed, leads to less healthy animals.  Those cattle require all sorts of veterinarian services from antibiotics to treatments for flies and other maladies.  Some farmers also give their beef cattle steroids to produce more beef.  Every pound of beef is money.  Then cattle are taken to butcher or market, depending on the cattle producer’s choices.  The cattle on the right are awaiting auction.  However, the small pen is about the size of many enclosures prior to market or slaughter.  Feedlot cattle stand around in muck twenty-four hours a day.

Many of you are aware of these facts.  Some people think it’s just how business is done and it isn’t any big deal.  Other people think conditions need to be changed for greater health of the animal to provide a healthier protein for humans.

In contrast, until recently, most countries in Central and South America were grass fed.  They were pastured until they were wanted for slaughter.  People accustomed to corn fed beef usually find grass fed beef less appealing in texture and flavor.  For this reason, farmers in many countries have switched to corn feeding so they could enter into the global beef market.

What is interesting is the lack of discussion about cattle feed prior to 1875.  This is where it gets interesting.  Since cattle were mostly domesticated in Europe, those methods were brought along with the cattle as people migrated to the Americas.

beetsFarmers grew crops not only for their own consumption and sale, but also to feed their cattle, pigs and chickens.  Beets, cabbages and carrots are all perfect for cattle, just to start.  Cattle will eat just about any fruit or vegetable except nightshade products like potatoes and peppers.

Considering that these crops can be grown in large scale on just a few acres, it is obvious that people have it within their power to raise their own beef cattle as well as feed a dairy cow or a gestating cow.  Enough food can be grown for an entire year’s supply of cattle feed for the price of seeds.  You can produce more beets and carrots per acre than corn by weight.

If you feed garden produce to your dairy cow, remember what a dairy cow eats effects the flavor of the milk.  Cabbage is good food for bovine, but not so good for the flavor of milk. That is only Cabbagesimportant if you are consuming the milk yourself and it is not “homogenized” by a dairy company.

This is how it was done for centuries upon centuries.  People more often than not raised their own beef using their own produce.  This is proof that it isn’t too expensive to raise your own cattle.  People have bought into the lie about the difficulties of cattle production.  So much so that over time, almost 150 years, most people don’t know it can be done any other way.  For most people, the skyrocketing price of beef means they purchase less beef.  With this information, a little bit of land almost everyone can afford beef.  Those who don’t have enough land to raise beef can partner with others by producing vegetables in exchange for a quarter or side of beef.

 

 

Economics of Animal Husbandry for the Small Farm

Small farms can be profitable in today's economy.Cattle need a year between birth and slaughter, much more time than poultry and rabbits.  Cattle consume much more food.  Pigs, goats and sheep fall in the middle for cost of feeding them out.  Farm animals can be produced in such a way to make it worth the time and expense of raising them.

Poultry

Selling duck eggs for $5.00 each, three dozen eggs will pay for a fifty pound bag of feed, which will feed the small flock of about 20 birds for over two weeks. The remaining duck eggs are free food and any that you incubate and feed out to butcher are almost free food. Since some breeds of ducks lay more eggs than chickens, they are quite profitable to keep.

Chicken eggs sell from $2.50 to $3.00 per dozen.  Hatching chickens from your own flock provides the same results as the ducks in terms of nearly free meat and eggs.  With the lower price for chicken eggs, you will have to sell more dozens to pay for the feed.

Guinea birds get bigger than chickens but their eggs are only about the size of a golf balls.  They are great tasting eggs,  but it takes more of them to make a meal.  Most people in this region who keep them don’t keep them for meat purposes.  They keep just a few as guard birds.  But, for those who do eat guinea, they enjoy them.

Pork

If you breed pigs and butcher the piglets while still young they make a good supply of tender meat and at a very good price.  Each litter will have 10 to 12 piglets per litter, twice a year.  One half grown piglet will make many meals.  Twenty-four piglets will provide protein for your family and those you don’t need can be sold.  The parts of the animal you do not want to eat can be used for dog food.  Pig ears are a treat no dog can avoid.

Cost of Food

Pound for pound, animal food is cheaper than human food. The problem comes when trying to feed out feeder cattle or feeder hogs.  Since small farmers can’t buy the feed as cheaply as Tyson and Omaha Beef the cost per pound of large animals is higher than larger producers.  That is if you are buying feed.

Many people begin comparing the price of beef in the grocery store with the cost of small farm meat production.  The problem with making those comparisons is that the meat in the grocery store is only the best cuts of meat and burger.  Rarely do you find ox tail, tallow and beef brains.  The same is true for pork.  The only lard to buy is loaded with preservatives and sold in a box on the shelf rather than refrigerated.

Why would you want tallow and lard?  Rendering them provides a beautiful fat for cooking, using as fuel, and for soap making just to name a few.  The point is that when you butcher your own animals you are able to keep the parts that would normally be sold to packaged food producers.  The bones for making broth.  Brains, liver, heart and tongue for making sausages.  The list goes on and on.

Efficient Use of Livestock

Every product you gain from your animals drives down the price per pound of food.  Don’t forget, if you have a milk cow your cow will not only provide milk for its offspring, but also will provide you with milk, cream, butter, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, and soft cheeses. If you are adventurous, you can learn to make your own hard cheeses too. The clabber, whey and excess milk from your cows (sheep and goats) will be good food for your other animals.

Further, you can add a few extra seeds to your garden to grow animal feed.  Consider growing beets, parsnips, peas, pumpkins, and corn for cattle.  Have an orchard?  Cows will enjoy eating the produce as much as you.  Do a little research to find out which produce you grow that will also serve to feed your livestock.  Be sure to avoid onions, rhubarb, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and night shade family produce and pine needles.  Not only will they eat almost any produce, they will provide plenty of manure for your gardens and can be sold for a profit.

When you consider that other livestock provides as much in terms of food and other products, it becomes clear that the efficient small farmer can reduce his grocery bill to nearly nothing while not spending large amounts of money to feed the livestock.

The success of your operation will depend on the available land, amount of time you invest in your operation, and your production choices. Think outside “conventional” farming feeds and methods.  Good planning and education about how to raise and butcher various farm animals will make them profitable to keep.