Saturday, March 19, 2016

Eight Household Items That Could Save Your Life

There's a group of people who believe that in a world of extreme natural disasters (think Superstorm Sandy or the recent Chilean earthquake), being ready for any catastrophe—natural, manmade, or otherwise—is more than just a precaution. It’s practical.

One such person is Creek Stewart, owner of the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival and Preparedness and author of the book "Build the Perfect Bug-Out Bag." Stewart preaches the gospel of disaster preparedness, teaching individuals and groups how to survive—and thrive—no matter the circumstances.

Sometimes that means adapting regular household items, even trash, when more specialized tools aren't on hand. "Innovation may very well be the most important survival skill," says Stewart. So whether you think the world is coming to an end or just want to prepare for an accident in the backcountry, you'll need the following everyday objects in your bug-out bag if (or should we say when?) disaster strikes. Read more from the source

7 Survival Hacks Start A Fire


What is the universal edibility test?

G­etting lost or stranded in the wilderness is serious business, and ­you need to make sound decisions to give yourself the best chance at survival. It also helps to know some basic wilderness survival skills. To make sure you're safe from the elements, you'll need to know how to build a shelter. To provide you with an opportunity to cook food, boil water and send a rescue signal, you should learn how to build a fire without a match or lighter. The other crucial component to survival is finding water in the wild. People can live without food for up to a month, but water is necessary to keep us alive.
But just because you can live without food doesn't mean you should. Going without food will leave you weak and apt to make poor decisions, which could endanger your life. Being able to identify edible plants in the wilderness is a good skill to have under your belt. The problem is, there are more than 700 varieties of poisonous plant in the United States and Canada alone, so unless you have a book that clearly identifies edible species, it's nearly impossible to determine whether or not a plant will make you sick with absolute certainty.
Read More From The Source

Books Of Interest:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Best Meat Rabbit Breeds for Homesteads

Flemish Giants
Rabbits, as cute as they look, they can even taste better when eaten! Rabbit meats is very commonly consumed all over the world and is used in making different delicious dishes which might include soups, stews, barbecue and roasting of the meat. You may find many Rabbit breeds for meat which is not only suitable for consumption of adults but also for kids. Rabbits are one of those animals or pets which can be easily raised and their maintenance and other expenses are very economical. You can build Rabbit hutch by looking at different Rabbit hutches plans on the internet, and the items needed are usually those which are available at home or can be purchased at a low cost rather than purchasing a commercial hutch which is comparatively expensive. The feeding of the Rabbits is not expensive either and so you can easily raise them for food or just having them as pets, however remember that not all Rabbit breeds are suitable for eating but only a few types of meat Rabbits.
The Rabbit meat falls in the category of white meat and is safe for consumption by people who are suffering from different diseases and also for those people who are on a strict diet and are cutting down fats in their diet. Rabbit is one of the best white meat which is available in the market and has many benefits. They have digestible protein which is low on fat; in fact they are almost fat less. Since there is no fat, the meat of Rabbit contains low calories and is cholesterol free making it highly recommended for cardiac patients, those who have cholesterol problems and those who are on a diet and want to lose weight. Another benefit of Rabbit meat is that they comparatively have lower sodium content which makes them safe for consumption by those people who have blood pressure problem due to sodium intolerance. Rabbit meat also have a good amount of phosphorus and calcium, it helps in normalizing the metabolism and is also highly recommended for cancer patients going under radiation therapy because it lowers the dose. If you are suffering from atherosclerosis, eating Rabbit meat on a regular basis can actually prevent it.
People slaughter the Rabbits, the skin and the meat goes for consumption whereas the fur goes for making of different items. Unlike other animals, inbreeding can occur in the Rabbits and there is no harm in it, they won’t be prone top diseases or have deformation in their offspring. Raising Rabbits for food can be a good and money making activity. If you are thinking about raising them, then here are 10 best meat Rabbit breeds list:
  1) New Zealand Whites:
This is one of the most common rabbit breed used for meat and tops the best rabbit meat in the USA, you may find a variety of signature dishes from this breed’s ,eat. The meat can weigh 9 to 12 pounds.
New Zealand Whites 2) Californian Rabbits:
These were developed by crossing of Chinchilla and New Zealand Whites. They have white fur with black spots and are known for their blocky and good production of meat. They can weigh around 8 to 12 pounds.
  3) The American Chinchilla:
This is one of the best Rabbits for meat and looks very much like a Chinchilla however is larger in size. They have a stocky body and the meat may weigh up to 9 pounds. The deep lion are preferred best for roasting and barbeque.
The American Chinchilla
       4) Silver Foxes:
These are great homestead rabbit and also fall in the fancy category and for producing meat. These breed are also very rare and may weigh 10 to 12 pounds. As the name suggest, they have silver body with black shading, just like a silver fox.

Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork: The Comprehensive Photographic Guide to Humane Slaughtering and Butchering  
Silver Foxes
       5) Champagne D Argent:
This historic yet attractive Rabbit has been used for meat since 1631. Their meat is loved all over the world and is perfect for homestead. They are available in white, creme and chocolate colors.
Champagne D Argent
       6) Cinnamons Rabbits:
This is a cross bred between the New Zealand White and American Chinchilla. Having the physical appearance and sturdy body of both of the breeds, this Rabbit breed produces a good quantity of meat and are bred commercially for meat.
        7) Satins rabbits:
These are large and heavy breeds which are considered for producing a good amount of meat. These are also prefect raising Rabbits for meat as homestead. These medium large sized Rabbits are available in blue, black, copper, chocolate, red, Siamese and otter colors.
Satins rabbits
        8) Rex Rabbits:
These soft and plush Rabbits were developed for the purpose of fur and meat. When mature, they may weigh around 8 to 10 pounds and may come in a variety of blue, amber and spotted patterns ion their color. The Rex can make some good meat and is perfect for homestead.
Rex Rabbits
     9) Palomino Rabbits:
These are good meat rabbit for homestead and are also bred commercially for meat purpose. They have a good temper and so can be great homestead and may weigh 8 to 11 pounds.
Palomino Rabbits
10) Flemish Giants:
As the name suggests, these Rabbits are giant in their size and may above 20 pounds. They have a large body with broad skeleton structure and according to this size they also eat more. This breed can also be best for homestead.


Field Dressing and Butchering Rabbits, Squirrels, and Other Small Game

34 Free Chicken Coop Plans & Ideas That You Can Build by Yourself

Chicken Coop Plans
If you stumbled upon this article, there's a high chance that you're new to raising chickens and looking to build a chicken coop by yourself. Not buying a pre-made.
You made the right decision, building a chicken coop isn't really that hard.
But there's one thing...
...you need a detailed plan to build one.
Especially if you don't have any experience in building something like this before.
There are a lot of free chicken coop plans on the internet. In fact, BackyardChicken alone (one of the biggest chicken site) has almost 3,000 of them, submitted by its members.
But, the problem is, not all of them are good.
While I'm browsing the collection a few weeks ago, among those 3,000 ideas only like 10% of them are realistically can be built by beginners. Most of them are either too hard or don't have detailed plans.
That's why I created this article.
I gathered 34 of the best-looking, easiest-to-build, or the cheapest chicken coop plan available so YOU too can build it by yourself.

A few things before we start...

A coop isn't just a shelter, it's a place where your chickens live their life. Just like a house for human, the quality of your coop directly affected your chicken's happiness.
That's why it's important to know these things before you build one.
I'll try to keep it short.

1. Decide the size

As a general rule of thumb, 1 chicken needs 3-4 square feet of space. So if you have 3, then you'll need 12 square foot coop (3x4, 6x2, or bigger).
If the space is too small, your chickens will not be happy. The coop will get smelly fast, your chicken will get stressed out, they will start pecking each other, and get sick.
You can actually have less than 3 square feet per chicken, BUT they must be outdoor most of the time.
For smaller bantam breeds, you'll only need 2 square feet

2. Decide the location

Consider these points when choosing location for your chicken coop::
  1. Sunshine and shade - your flock needs natural sunlight, but not all day
  2. Wind - a nice flow of air is good, but avoid places exposed to strong wind. For reasons number 1 and 2, under a tree is often a good place
  3. Ease of access - you'll need to check the coop 2 times per day or more, make sure it's easily accessible
  4. Smell and noise - don't locate it too close to your house, or your neighbor's
Don't decide a location right away, monitor the area for at least 1 week to make sure there's no major problem.

3. Plan the coop

Your coop is not just a structure to protect your chickens, there are things on the inside (and outside) to keep your chickens alive and healthy. Here are a few important things to plan.
Must have:
  1. Nesting box - this is the place where your hens will lay their eggs. There should be at least 1 box per 2 hens with the size of 12x12x12 and about 10-20 inches above the ground
  2. Windows/ventilation - your chicken will get sick easily if there's no light and proper ventilation
  3. Feeder and waterer - obviously
Nice to have:
  1. Perch area - chickens love to sleep on perch
  2. The run - in the addition to the shelter, an outdoor run is important to keep your chickens happy, unless you're free-ranging them
  3. Dust bath box - chickens need to clean themselves with dust to stay healthy
  4. Poop boards - place it below perching area, it'll save you a lot of time cleaning the coop
  5. Lighting - in the winter, warm lights can boost egg production
Read the remainder of the article and see the plans from the source

Books Of Interest:


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Edible Wild Plants: Cattail (Typha Latifolia)

The common cattail (typha latifolia) is one of the first of the wild edible plants that all hikers should familiarize themselves with. It not only has several edible parts, but there is some part of the plant that can be harvested for food during any season. In addition, it has other uses as well.
In the spring you can find a cattail swamp and cut the fresh tips of the plants from the mud. Rinse them in some safe water and they are edible either raw or cooked. Once you know the plant, identifying the new shoots is no problem, The stalks and dried flower heads of the old plants are always around.
In the summer you can first harvest the tender stems. The lower several inches will be white and ready to eat. If you pull slowly, they will often come loose at the base. Raw, they taste something like cucumber. Cooked, the taste is more like corn. Later, the green flower heads can be cooked and eaten like corn-on-the-cob. By mid-summer the yellow pollen will be falling from the spike atop the flower heads, and can be shaken into a paper bag to use in thickening soups or even mixed with flour for making bread.
In the fall  you can still locate the cattail by the old stalks and dig up the rope-like roots that criss-cross the swamps. Clean these, mash them in water and let the mix sit for a few hours. What you’ll get when you pour off the water is a gooey mass of starch at the bottom of the container. This can be used to make a bread of sorts, or just put into emergency soups.
In the winter you can get the roots, just as in the fall, provided the water or mud isn’t frozen. Sometimes you can dig into the muck and find fresh new tips of the plants to eat as well. This is especially true as you get closer to spring.New plant tips, tender parts of the stalks, flower heads, pollen, and roots – five edible parts, and at least one available in each season. But that’s not all. The “fluff” of the mature flower heads was once used to stuff life jackets, and is still perfect as an emergency insulation. If you are lost and without sufficient clothing, you can fill your jacket with it. Use it to make a warm mattress as well.

Cattail flower's make great soup!
Cattail flower head fluff is also very flammable. Break open a mature flower head (available almost any time of the year) and make a pile of it. Then strike a match to it, or even a good spark, and it will burst into flame. The tight heads are often dry inside even after a heavy rain, making this a great survival tinder.

Cattail's make excellent fire starting tinder.
The leaves are long and flat, which makes them easy to weave into simple mats for sitting on. These mats can be used to serve food too, or as a barrier between you and the ground in an emergency shelter. For many centuries they were also woven into baskets and other containers. The stems were used for weaving and other purposes as well.
The common cattail is not only one of the best wild edible plants, but one of the best wilderness plants to know for many other purposes. How many other plant have five edible parts and several parts that are useful for a variety of survival needs? Best of all is the fact that they can be found in wet places across North America. Hikers, backpackers and others who spend time in the wilderness should get to know the cattail before all other plants.
Edible Parts
  • Root
  • Stem
  • Fruit
Other Uses
The medicinal uses of cattails include poultices made from the split and bruised roots that can be applied to cuts, wounds, burns, stings, and bruises. The ash of the burned cattail leaves can be used as an antiseptic or styptic for wounds. A small drop of a honey-like excretion, often found near the base of the plant, can be used as an antiseptic for small wounds and toothaches.
The utility of this cattail is limited only by your imagination. The dried stalks can be used for hand drills and arrow shafts. The seed heads and dried leaves can be used as tinder. The seed head fluff can be used for pillow and bedding stuffing or as a down-like insulation in clothing. The leaves can be used for construction of shelters or for woven seats and backs of chairs, which has been a traditional use for hundreds of years.
They can be woven into baskets, hats, mats, and beds. The dried seed heads attached to their stalks can be dipped into melted animal fat or oil and used as torches.
Where Does Cattail (Typha Latifolia) Grow?

How To Identify Cattail (Typha Latifolia)

Cattails are readily identified by the characteristic brown seed head. There are some poisonous look-alikes that may be mistaken for cattail, but none of these look-alikes possess the brown seed head.
Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) and Yellow Flag (Iris pseudoacorus) and other members of the iris family all possess the cattail-like leaves, but none possesses the brown seed head. All members of the Iris family are poisonous.
Another look-alike which is not poisonous, but whose leaves look more like cattail than iris is the Sweet Flag (Acorus calumus). Sweet Flag has a very pleasant spicy, sweet aroma when the leaves are bruised. It also does not posses the brown seed head. Neither the irises nor cattail has the sweet, spicy aroma. I have seen large stands of cattails and sweet flag growing side by side.
As with all wild edibles, positive identification is essential. If you are not sure, do not eat it.


Books Of Interest:

Dehydrating Eggs

Four dozen dehydrated eggs in a quart jar
A few years ago I started dehydrating my extra eggs over the spring, summer, and fall.  The main reason I did this was because from about November until March our chickens don't lay eggs up here in the cold north, with our short winter days.  We didn't like having to eat store-bought eggs during the months our chickens got their break from laying.  In the summer we gave eggs away to everyone we could push them off onto, and it seemed a shame to give away so many eggs, then have to pay to buy them in the winter, as well as buying feed for the chickens during those months too.
We live off-grid with solar electric power, so putting lights in the chicken coop isn't an option.  Winters are cloudy and the days are short, so we have to conserve electricity during those months. 
Dehydrated eggs have the disadvantage that you have to use them as scrambled eggs.  That means no fried eggs in the winter, but lots of really good and creative omelettes!  They can also be used in baking.  I use one tablespoon whole dried egg to 1 tablespoon water, to make one reconstituted egg.
You can also separate the eggs and dry the whites and yolks separately.  If you like to bake things that call for egg whites, or to make meringue, you can use the dried whites.  The dried yolks can be reconstituted and cooked for eating, or used in baking.
My Nesco dehydrator came with one plastic liner for making fruit leather.  I use it when I dehydrate eggs and I line the other trays with wax paper.  I cut the hole out in the middle so it would sit on the tray, and trimmed the edges with extra so I could bend it up and form a lip around the edge so the egg wouldn't run off the trays.  I'm careful with the wax paper and re-use it for several batches before having to cut fresh wax paper.
Each of these trays holds four eggs.  If you have a different dehydrator you can experiment to see how many it holds.  Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them until the yolks and whites are evenly mixed, if you're dehydrating whole eggs.  With the lined dehydrator tray sitting on the dehydrator, so you won't have to move it after filling the tray, carefully pour egg onto the tray.  Move the bowl around the tray and pour until you have a good covering.  You can use a spoon to further spread it.
You don't want it too thick or it'll take a long time to dry. I poured mine about the thickness of a plain chocolate candy bar.  Try to spread it evenly so that you don't have part of the tray finished before the thicker parts.  It won't be perfect, but take a few minutes to spread it as evenly as you can.
This is partway through the drying process.  You can see the 'skin' forming on top.  Set your dehydrator to the hottest setting, if you have a temperature control on it.  Mine is 135 degrees.
You can dry eggs in the oven on a low setting, but use the absolute lowest temperature setting your oven has.  You don't want to cook the egg, you just want to dry it.
If you live in a dry climate you can air-dry the eggs.  Watch them closely and pour them thinly on the trays.  I tried flipping mine partway through once and it was a messy disaster.

It takes my dehydrator about 8 hours to dry four trays of eggs.  When they're done I lift the wax paper off the dehdrator tray and I turn it upside-down over a cake pan.  The dried eggs should peel off without leaving a mess on the wax paper, other than a few crumbs.  If it's still wet and slimey, put it back on the dehydrator tray and dry it longer.

When they're crumbled in the pan they resemble cornflakes.  I broke them into crumbles, then spooned them into the blender to make egg powder.

The finished egg powder is in the bowl.  I later started just packing the crumbles into a jar and crushing them down with a wooden pestle from a mortar and pestle set I have.  When reconstituted, it works just about as well as 'powdering' it in the blender.
It doesn't make a dry powder.  It makes a somewhat-greasy powder.  If you have trouble reconstituting it try using different temperatures of water.  It will look grainy when it's reconstituted, but when you cook it, as either scrambled eggs or omelettes, it comes out with an even texture and a bit spongy rather than fluffy.  The taste is the same as fresh eggs.

We take it camping, so I put some in a ziplock bag for that purpose.  This bag in the picture traveled with me on a 1,100 mile bicycle trip in spring and early summer 2010.

Dumped straight out of the trays and before further crumbling the dried eggs look like peanut brittle without the peanuts.
The majority of our dried eggs are packed tightly into glass jars and stored in our dark, cool root cellar.  Most summers I dehydrated around 24 dozen to store for winter use.  It's been a big savings and a great way to have 'home-grown' eggs over the winter.
If you have comments or questions, please leave them below or email me at:
The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Drying Food, Plus 398 Recipes, Including Making Jerky, Fruit Leather & Just-Add-Water Meals

Recipes for Adventure: Healthy, Hearty and Homemade Backpacking Recipes

Monday, March 14, 2016

Survival Seeds Storing Techniques For Homesteading

Want to know some survival seeds storing techniques? If you haven’t started your seed collection for the rainy days, then this is something you have to learn.

—This post is courtesy of Survival Life. Shared with permission—
Survival Seeds Storing Techniques

Survival Seeds Storing Techniques For Homesteading

Interested in survival seeds?
Want to learn how to gather, dry and store survival seeds for the long term?
Check out the article below on survival seeds storing technique from survival and preparedness expert Alden Morris.

Survival Seeds Storing Techniques

Any survivalist can tell you that a scenario is on the horizon in which all of our ancient knowledge will be put to the test.  The scenario differs from survivalist to survivalist but the same underlying rules are nevertheless consistently implied.  You must prepare.  You must store food.  And you must learn to survive without the comforts of modern day society.
Some of us have stored food and gear and have continued back to our daily lives.  Some of us continue to train, adapt, and push ourselves to the spiritual, physical, and intellectual limit in order to counter any possible scenario.  Some of these limits include hunting with nothing more than a bow and arrow as well as even gardening and harvesting food from home.  However, no matter how far your survivalist training takes you always remember; our ancient ancestors survived on mere nothing all while traveling on foot and left much of this knowledge for us such as survival seed storing techniques.  No matter the disaster or how far they traveled, our ancestors maintained techniques to ensure a lush garden when they finally reached safe ground.
Survival Seeds Storing Techniques For Homesteading
image source

Gathering Seeds for Survival

The first step for survival seed storing techniques is gathering the seeds.  Seeds do not always have to be purchased; instead seeds can be gathered from already harvested fruits and vegetables.  It does not matter the fruit or vegetable however, do realize the growing process behind each plant.  For example, if apple seeds are stored than many years will have to put into growing an apple tree in order to produce apples. However, strawberry seeds are a great seed to gather as strawberries usually flower not long after they’re grown.
Strawberry Seeds | Survival Seeds Storing Techniques For Homesteading
Strawberry seeds are some of the best survival seeds to gather. (image source)
Be sure to store enough seeds from each plant as to compensate for individual seeds that might not survive until the next season.  It is common to have a few seeds not sprout for every handful of seeds.  Also, be sure to separate each strain of seed from one another as to properly tell the difference between seeds that may appear similar.

Drying Seeds

There are several different methods for drying seeds all that really matters is how much space is available.  The point of drying seeds is to rid them of any excess moisture that may cause them to sprout prematurely.  Once all the additional moisture is gone than the seeds can be stored properly until the next planting season.
If not much space is available than the first method is the paper towel and the paper bag method.  Simply place several seeds of each strain between two paper towels or inside a paper bag and store for a few days checking frequently.  Once the seeds are thoroughly dried than they can be moved into storage containers.  If more space is available than the paper plate method is a great method to thoroughly dry mass amounts of seeds from several different strains.  Allow several days for this method to dry the seeds.
Survival Seeds Storing Techniques For Homesteading
Using a paper plate or towel are two popular methods of drying survival seeds.

Storing Seeds

In order to properly store seeds air tight containers must be purchased or prepared beforehand.  A great example of an air tight container is a mason jar.  Once all of the seeds from each strain or thoroughly dry place them into an air tight container and be sure to label each one.  It is very important to label each strain of seed as the air tight containers will help the seeds survive roughly four to six months until the next planting season.  This amount of time may cause you to forget which seeds are which especially if there are similarities.
Survival Seeds Storing Techniques For Homesteading
Survival seeds storage. (image source)

Final Survival Seeds Tips

When planting season finally comes be sure to only germinate two to four seeds at a time from each strain as to compensate for seeds that do not sprout.  Although there are several different methods to germinating and the primary method consist of burying the seeds germinating seeds can actually be done in just a few days indoors.
Fold a paper towel and dampen lightly with water.  Fold several times over than place two to four seeds of the same strain of plant in between each moist paper towel.  Place the paper towels into a Ziploc bag and then set on the window sill for several days.  About once a day check on the seeds for signs of swelling, cracking, or sprouting.  A translucent root will appear once the seed is fully germinated roughly one to two inches in length.  At this point plant the strain and wait for the seed to sprout from the earth.

Does this help you in storing seeds for survival? Let us know below in the comments!