The War Against Germs; Autoclaves

One thing is certain, when a world changing event happens, people may become migratory.  They may find the need to travel from place to place looking for food and supplies.  Some of these people, you may wish to add them to your community as valued members because of the skills they possess.  Unfortunately, they will also bring with them their regional germs.  It will be just like when you move to a new city and everyone in the family gets sick for the first month.  It will be like that, except a 100 times worse because there will be so many people, traveling from places far and near.  You can’t help but come in contact with them at some point.

Whether the contact be friendly or foe, one thing is for sure, germs will be transmitted in both directions.  If an outbreak occurs within your community, you will need to be able to sterilize your items because throwing them away just may not be an option, and neither may throwing them in the fire.  One can either boil items, or use an autoclave.  Boiling will kill anything that dies at 200° or below.  However, as in canning, you may need to kill germs that die only at higher temperatures.  In that case, you will need the autoclave.

Medical autoclaves are extremely expensive, and usually have a small capacity.  Larger ones can be prohibitively expensive.  There is another option.

Interesting enough, in Spanish, the word “autoclave” is the word they use for pressure canners.  Pressure canners will reach that magic 250 degrees that kills most nearly every living thing.  Perfect for sterilizing your items.  If you choose to use a pressure canner to sterilize items, you must bear in mind that you will not want to use that canner for food production.  It just ins’t good practice.  But, pressure canners are used all over the world to sterilize surgical equipment and other medical devices that can be sterilized by heat.

It is my opinion that pressure canners used as autoclaves should be the type that requires no rubber seal.  These are much better because it is screwed down and there is no wiggle room as there is with the rubber seals.  You will notice the price of the one pictured is not your average cheap pressure canner, and that it looks like a beast.  It is a beast.  It is also the best one for the job.
 It has a gauge so you know how much pressure is actually in there, as well as the weight to make sure you get the right pressure without going over and having it explode.  Don’t get me wrong, it can still explode if you have the heat too high, just like any other pressure canner.  One must always make certain to follow the manufacturers instructions for proper use and cleaning.  It has six screws to hold it firm and comes in a variety of sizes.  To date, I have never found one for a lower price than on Amazon, the link is in the picture.

I prefer the larger one as autoclave, even though it takes quite a while to heat to temperature, but it also will hold the most items so I don’t have to use it so often.

Remember, when handling contaminated items, to always use appropriate protective gloves and other necessary protective items.  Learn and follow appropriate protocols whenever possible to reduce the spread of outbreaks.
 

 

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; Foodborne Pathogens

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There are several ways germs can spread through your house.  It becomes more noticeable when family members get sick one by one.  Sometimes the germ is brought in from work, school, or just daily life outside the home.  But once it’s in your house, you have a mission to stop it before everyone else gets sick.  Simple hand washing won’t guarantee success.  You can help stop the spread of germs from one person to the next by checking what happens in your kitchen and stop foodborne pathogens.

Wear gloves when handling the dishes of a sick person.  Keep those dishes separate from other dishes until they have been sanitized.  Do not let the dishes of a sick person sit on the counter or in the sink.  Clean them immediately.  Put them in the dishwasher immediately.  Failing to do these things is one reason care givers get sick when they could have avoided it.

People generally try to follow the safest procedures they can when cooking.  Separate cutting boards and utensils for vegetables and meats, proper hand washing, and changing gloves between tasks are all important parts of meal preparation.  But, what about after the meal has been served, enjoyed, and the dirty dishes are lurking in the kitchen?

That cutting board, cooking utensils, and dirty dishes are in the kitchen producing future foodborne pathogens.  They even create their own protective coating called “slime”.  Ewww!!  The slime makes it difficult to kill germs using chemicals like bleach.  You might kill the creepy crawlies on the top layer of slime, but the bugs on the bottom are happily consuming food particles. reproducing, and making even more slime.  Some pathogens can double their population at alarming rates.

Many people do not have a dishwasher with a sanitation cycle.  If this is the case, you have no time to waste.  Really.  The longer you wait to wash those dirty dishes the more chance your family will get food borne illnesses.  To avoid this issue, many cooks of the past century and still today practice “wash as you cook” methods.  By the time the meal is prepared, nearly all the dirty dishes are washed and put away.  Then all that’s left is the eating utensils and a few stray cooking utensils.

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We use cutting boards that can go in the dishwasher.  Wood, especially bamboo, don’t hold up well over time in the dishwasher.  We only use one side of the cutting board and put the dirty side facing inward so the full effect of the washer can be had.  But mostly we put them in the dishwasher to sterilize them.  Pots and pans go in the dishwasher too, even if I have to run the dishwasher two or three times the same day.

Cast iron cookware should not go in the dishwasher or have soap used on them or their usefulness is wasted.  Instead, I clean them well, by boiling water if necessary, put a fine layer of oil on them and put them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes.  In this manner you are not only sure the pan’s interior is clean, but also the handle.  No more spreading germs from pan to knife to food!

However, as people have become busy with their work-a-day lives, they often leave dishes in the sink, or laying around the house, all week.  Come their day off, they gather them up and wash them.  Others put dishes in to soak overnight.  These practices must stop if you hope to ensure your home is not infested with foodborne pathogens.

When washing dishes by hand, be sure to wear rubber gloves.  They protect your hands from germs, prevent chafing, and help you tolerate higher water temperature.  The higher temperature doesn’t do much for killing germs but it makes it easier to clean the dishes.  Then the dish detergent can get in there and do its job!  When you are finished washing dishes, use a good anti-bacterial bar soap to wash your still gloved hands.  Remove the gloves and hang them to air dry.

Once germs are on kitchen utensils and dishes, they are spread by your hands to everything you touch.  That pan you just washed?  Did you dry it with a dishtowel?  If you have germs on your hands, so to does the towel, and now your clean dishes aren’t so clean any more as you spread germs from dish to dish!  From now on, take the easy way out and let them air dry on a sanitary dish drainer!  Don’t forget to kill germs on counters too!  If you are sensitive to bleach, simply pour boiling water on the surfaces and wipe it up.

Now, for whatever reason you do not have a dishwasher with a sanitation cycle, and the heated dry cycle doesn’t heat to a high enough temperature, or you’re not expecting to have electricity during a WCE, now what?  Foodborne pathogens can be some of the most difficult to get out of your kitchen.  They can also be the easiest!  During past centuries they simply put all the dirty dishes in a big boiling pot.  Ten minutes later they are read for use.  That was how dishes were rinsed after washing with elbow grease and soap.  It doesn’t take long to kill off germs that way.  It is important that the water be over 165°F to be sure bugs are killed.  Some sources tell you 148°F is sufficient, but consider that the U. S. Navy required water supplies on ships to be heated to 165°F.  The extra 2 minutes it takes to go from 148° to 165° is worth it, but why not just boil the water?  You don’t need to worry about using a thermometer to be sure if water is at proper germ killing temperature.

Lastly, consider your dishwasher.  Even though your dishwasher goes through a sanitation cycle to clean the dishes, take a look at the door, inside and out.  See any nasty stuff there?  Yeah, those are germs just waiting to get on your nice clean dishes and your hands.  Clean and sanitize those areas of the dishwasher that will not be cleaned by the dishwasher.  Use bleach if you can tolerate it, if not look for other methods to sanitize it.

Following these methods should be a daily practice and will bring you one step closer to preventing germs from destroying your plan for preparedness.

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.

Building Your Own Shelter

Peter Larson, a Utah survivalist with a home and family, gave CNN a tour of his elaborate $65,000 bunker he built in the mountains in preparation for what he called “the last days.” There are even developers building luxury underground condos inside abandoned missile silos that stretch 175 feet underground, and cost upwards of $2 million per unit.

But you don’t have to break the bank to build an underground shelter that will keep you and the family safe in the event of nuclear holocaust, extinction-level meteorite impact and/or full-fledged police state oppression. All you need is a decent-sized backyard and the will to survive.

The Dig

You want your bunker to be a total secret, or known to exist by as few people as possible. When it hits the fan, and desperate neighbors are trying to escape nuclear radiation or government tyranny, the first place they will come knocking is your bunker. That said, try and be as discreet as possible when digging the hole. You can do it the old-fashioned way by hiring workers to dig with shovels, or have dig parties with friends who are guaranteed a spot in the bunker when it becomes necessary. A small excavator can be rented for as little as $50 per hour. The bunker should be 10 feet deep minimum, but for maximum protection from just about anything, go to at least 20 feet.

The Walls

Nukemap is an app that can simulate what would happen if a 100 megaton nuclear bomb was detonated in a given area. For instance, if one were dropped in New York City, nearly 8 million people would be instantly incinerated, while 4 million more would suffer serious injuries. The residual radiation from the bomb would linger anywhere from a few minutes to several years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Radiation Emergency Medical Management. The King County, Wash., Health Department recommends a concrete shield to protect yourself from gamma rays.

Get quotes from several concrete contractors who will also reinforce the walls with steel. The American Concrete Institute says that steel-reinforced concrete walls have 20 times the compressive strength (weight capacity) of normal concrete. This will not only come in handy if an initial nuclear blast is within a few miles of your bunker, but will serve as a near-impenetrable radiation shield. Make sure to leave small openings for an air filtration system, sewage elimination and even a spout to capture rain water for drinking.

Stockpiling

The last major expense will be for supplies. Batteries, food and water are the items you will want the most. Remember you may not be able to leave the shelter for a year in the event of nuclear holocaust. The bare minimum amount of water humans need to survive is about 68 ounces (two liters) per day, according to Human Rights Watch. This means each person needs about 180 gallons of water to survive for a year. Contrarily, humans can survive for weeks without food. Dried (i.e. jerky) and canned foods are best, as they can be stored at room temperature and will stay edible for years. Firearms, ammunition, flashlights, matches, hygiene and first-aid supplies are the other essentials.

All the aforementioned can be done for less than $10,000, if you exercise due diligence.

Ebola and Other Considerations

This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show "Monsters Inside Me".
This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show “Monsters Inside Me”.

We have been quiet until now about the Ebola cases in the United States.  Let’s face it.  None of us are surprised it found it’s way here.  Most of us wonder what took it so long.  We have been expecting the appearance of the dreaded virus since the 1970’s.  The wonder isn’t how it got here, but what took it so long to get here.

We didn’t jump on the bandwagon to post about it for this amount of time because we wanted to see exactly how it would effect our society from government response to citizen reaction and action.

It’s been six months, and as with all things, the outbreak came and went.  During that time, mass news media enjoyed the flurry of actually being watched for the latest news and bloggers went wild posting their two cents worth of commentary and second guessing.

For the most part, we saw exactly what the government feared would happen.  People who were sick or knew they had been exposed chose to travel regardless of the risk to others.  The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the society, and indeed, the globe.  Fortunately, the number of people who were infected in the U.S. was very small.  Nevertheless, some of those citizens still chose to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of the cost.  Armed guards had to be placed at doors where people had been quarantined.  The occupants refused to remain inside because they felt like they were “prisoners” and were worried about “losing their jobs” and other financial considerations.  The rest of society continued to live their daily lives, waiting to find out if their city was going to be next.

Those people were receiving assistance both financially and fresh food was delivered to their homes every day.  They were getting free medical care.  They had internet, cable TV, and all the other amenities living in the U.S. provides.  Still, they behaved exactly the way Sci-Fi novels and movies said they would.  These are the reasons FEMA has so much power when it comes to such incidences.

The CDC and the WHO had been keeping Ebola under wraps for decades.  Not really secret, but not something they wanted to alarm the American public about.  They’ve been hunting, battling and studying Ebola since it first poked it’s head out of the caves of Africa.  Those are not the only organizations that have worked relentlessly to keep the disease from becoming a pandemic.  Various Christian ministries and charitable organizations have been in Africa taking great risks every time an outbreak occurred.  Through it all, they created a battle plan should such outbreaks come to the United States.  When the day came, they followed through with their plan and it worked.  Imagine how much worse it would have been had no plan been made and people wandered around the country sick and continued to spread the virus without notice.  Those who had been exposed, or gotten sick would have spread the disease, and the cycle we see in Africa would be present here.

In the meantime, as the prepared, we keep vigilant and prepare for these events.  This won’t be the last time we have to be ready for such instances.

Here’s what we do know:

  • It’s transmitted by touching body fluids.
  • Body fluids can become airborne, such as coughing and sneezing.
  • The exact moment when a person becomes contagious is not known.
  • Fever indicates viral load.
  • In Africa, it has been statistically shown that each person who has the disease will infect two more.
  • About half the people who get the disease in Africa die.
  • Dead bodies spread the disease.
  • The viability of the virus outside a living host is not determined.  There is debate ranging from a few hours up to a week.
  • There has been no public discussion about how long a dead body may harbor live virus.
  • United States and Canadian residents likely will fare better because health care and food supplies are more accessible.
  • We quarantine in patients’ homes, whereas in Africa both the infected and undetermined status persons are quarantined in camps.  Home quarantines are most comfortable for patients and reduces the spread of the virus to healthy persons.
  • In the United States, food and necessary supplies are now delivered free of charge to those in quarantine.
  • In America, we have the ability to use special ambulances equipped for safe transport of patients with level four contagions.
  • Americans avoid locations where an infected person is reported to have been.  So much so that one hospital became a ghost town and the mayor of New York City had to ride the subway just to prove it was safe.

We know all of this and still we took a look at our pantry and said to ourselves, “Are we really ready if something were to happen?”.  At first, when the news broke about an Ebola case, then possibly two more, were in Dallas concerned us.  We looked in the cabinets and the freezer and was satisfied that we would be fine if the disease were to make the long drive to our town.  If we were to remain in our homes because other people in our town were passing around a disease, we could do it.

At least, we thought we could.  Therein lies the difficulty.  Can you really afford to quit your job?  Taxes and health insurance don’t pay for themselves.  The only way to fully guarantee that no one will bring the contagion into a home is that no one ever comes inside the home.  Consider how many hundreds of people were being monitored or quarantined as the result of one person coming into our country with the disease.  Are you financially prepared should such an event happen?  This incident lasted a few weeks because of the swift and sure actions of all health care providers involved.  You’ll need the amount of money saved that you would need every day, but you will also need additional funds for the things you don’t expect.  Emergency situations, no matter how well prepared you are, need contingency funds and contingency plans.

For us, it’s time to reconsider how we do things.  Not because we are fearful, but because it is the right thing to do.  All households should be prepared to shelter in place should it come to your neighborhood.  The less you need, the more help medical and relief workers will be able to provide those who are in real distress.

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

How to Digitally Recover from a Natural Disaster

by Robyn Johnston


Hurricane
Typhoons, blizzards, wildfires, and now, devastating tornadoes have the U.S. focusing on the Midwest. It seems all too often that we hear about a natural disaster occurring one after the other. There are hundreds of resources available for preparing for these types of things: packing lists, emergency evacuation plans, food conservation and more. But today, our dependence on technology and all things digital is almost as vital as food and water (sadly).

So, how do you get yourself back on the grid after a catastrophe? Follow these tips and help yourself digitally recover from any disaster:

Solar Powered Chargers
Without electricity, personal electronics like cell phones have limited air time. Purchase a solar powered cell phone charger just in case. Even if cell towers go down, at least you’ll be charged and ready to go when service is restored.

Online Password Manager
Once you’ve restored an Internet connection, the last thing you want to do is play the password guessing game on all of your important accounts. Sign-up for a password manager subscription so you can access all of your records in a pinch. Store passwords for the accounts you would need in a disaster situation like: home insurance, auto insurance, bank accounts, investments, etc.

Utilize Cloud Storage
A natural disaster could wipe out your home, that means your computer too. Backup pictures, documents and files on a cloud storage service. That way, you can access your information from anywhere even without your hardware.

Satellite Communication
Telephone and Internet are imperative to communicating with friends, family, and emergency services. Internet that runs on an underground network, like cable or fiber-optic, has the potential to be damaged during some disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes. Secure a satellite internet or satellite phone connection and you’ve got a better chance of recovering communication quickly.


Handheld GPS
Debris or danger can block roadways. You may need to find an alternate route on the fly. Invest in a handheld GPS and keep it fully charged in case of an emergency. If you can, save important destinations like hospitals, highways, and fire stations.

It seems like getting wired back in might be the last thing you would worry about in the event of a natural disaster. Safety and health are obviously the most important concerns. But without personal technology – you’ll be more stranded than you might think. Think ahead, prepare your electronics and do some digital legwork beforehand to make for a speedy recovery.

Reference:
How Technology Can Help in a Disaster
Satellite Internet
Is your most valuable information at risk in an emergency?
Share passwords securely with family in an emergency

 

 

Urban Preppers Consider Several Garden Produce Options

Window Herb GardenUrban life often limits the amount of garden space to the number of pots you can fit on a balcony or window sill.  With these kinds of restrictions, growing everything you want to put in your food stores is impossible.  For those reasons, any people purchase prepacked foods in cans, boxes, and foil packets.  But that does little to soothe the minds of those who would prefer to put up fresh grown produce, free of chemicals.

Organic foods purchased in grocery stores or markets are expensive compared to other commercially pre-packaged foods.  When you spend that kind of money on organic foods, the tendency is to want to eat it right away, not can or freeze it.

There are things you can do to get the quality produce you want without breaking the bank.  It will take a bit of research and networking, but it can be done.  Prepare to contact growers in January or before planting season starts to strike up a deal.   Now is a good time to start.  The earlier you contact growers, the better your chance of getting what you need.

Who or what is a grower?  A grower is anyone who uses their land to produce food. Blooming Hill Farm Anyone.  That means it could be a homeowner with 1/8 acre to 5 acres of land or someone out in the country on hundreds or thousands of acres.  The keys are knowing who the growers are and what you want.

Start by getting a “what is in season” list within the region you are willing to travel.  You can get these from county agriculture extension offices, garden clubs, and some local nurseries may have information to share.

DollarPlan your budget according to what you wish to put up for a one year supply.  If money is tight (and when isn’t it?) try to skim off a few percent of the dollars to spend on produce and canning or freezing it.  As the price of everything continues to rise, it will be difficult to budget exactly what you need.  Over time, you will find your food bill goes down as the amount of stored goods increases.

The first year you might spend a little more on jars if you just starting out.  To justify this, buy cases of jars instead of eating dinner out.  Skip the movies this week and buy two more cases of jars.  Before you know it, you will have enough jars to line your shelves.

Find growers who may be willing to grow what you order.  These producers often sell Vegetable Farmanimal as well as fruits and vegetables.  Perhaps you will need to pay them half up front and the other half when you take delivery.  Take the time to get to know them to get the best possible price.  Get a receipt that explains exactly what you are exchanging.

Some growers may allow you a share of the produce in exchange for your labor.   You apply for a part time non-cash paid job.  Get it in writing.  Be sure to spell out how many hours you will work per week, how much each hour is worth, and how many pounds of each produce you will get in return.  This requires you to do pricing research well in advance.  Take into account the wholesale price and the retail price of the products you want.  If you are lucky enough to get such a deal, make certain you work hard on the farm, work every hour you agree, don’t complain, and are always on time.  You will want to be invited back year after year.

Small Garden PlotIf by chance you and your friends have yards of any size, get together and form a co-op of your own.  Even the tiniest sliver of dirt next to a house or sidewalk can make excellent gardens.  Take out the grass and put in fruits and vegetables appropriate to your region and available sunlight.  By devoting the yards to specific produce, using bio-intense methods, and sharing, everyone in the co-op will get a variety produce.

Orchards Often Offer You Pick Opportunities

 

Lastly, “You Pick” farms offer great prices on perfectly ripe fruit.  Bring your bushel baskets, boxes and bags to pick all the produce you want at reduced prices over markets and stores.  Usually you pay “per pound”.  These are also good places to offer your labor in exchange of produce.  If you are going on a weekend trip, perhaps adding a you-pick farm to your sight-seeing might be a welcome alternative to tourist traps.

By combining all these resources, preppers should be able to find enough produce at reasonable prices, the cost of time, or nearly free.  Most importantly, it takes planning many months in advance.  The rewards are worth it.

Here are a few links to get you started.

Illinois “What’s in Season” Chart

Texas Produce Availability Chart

 Pick Your Own Farm Directory (Incomplete)

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.