Training for emergencies and Prepper Expos

training for emergenciesTraining for emergencies is always a high priority for me so this last weekend I went to the PrepperFest Expo in Scottsdale Arizona.  This is a preparedness expo that is similar to a gun show, with lots of interesting things on display and training classes.  While I did learn some new things and get a chance to speak with some great people, my overall feeling was of disappointment.

The trip started when the Freezedryguy and I met up and drove down together.  He had a booth displaying Mountain House products.  The drive down was nice.  We drove down highway 95 in Nevada through Las Vegas and Wickenburg just to see some different county.

training for emergencies


Arriving at the show it was at the WestWorld Equestrian Center, which is a nice facility in a good location.  The reasons for my disappointment included the following.  The show was not well attended and I suspect it was not well advertised or maybe the $12 admission kept some people away.  With a few exceptions like Sheriff Mack, the classes I attended were not high quality.  The show was not well organized and the venders were not well supported.

training for emergencies


However I had the chance to met and spent time with some really nice people, like Todd Albi the president of Silverfire  a company that makes some very nice cooking stoves.

Joe Campisi  from AZ Hybrid Light a manufacturer of excellent solar flashlights.

Doctor Prepper, the author and radio personality who has an excellent book on preparedness.

Jeff Gleason from LPC Survival  who has a good selection of Berkey water filters and many other prepping supplies.

Craig J. Fairclough from the Prepper Marketplace, a good source of preps and information.

Dale Cook from “Emergency Foods to save Lives” a new brick and mortor store that has opened at 121 S Mesa Dr Mesa, AZ.

These people and many others made the show worth attending.  The training for emergencies that I got at this show was from contact with the various individuals that attended the show.  Unfortunately, many of them were unhappy with the show and told me that they would not be back next year.

For me the best information and training for emergencies came from the chance to talk with good people.  That was the best part of the show.


Home alone During an Emergency

home aloneWhat would your feelings be like, if your town was under attack from a suspect that had shot three deputies and a civilian during his rampage?  If you were home alone, and you heard the news on TV or you received, a phone call telling you that was happening in your town.  Of course you would worry about your children if they where school age or yourself if you are in the area where this person was reported being.  I was having lunch with some of my family in a restaurant when I got a phone call from my husband who was out of town at the time.

What would your thoughts be if you had something like this happening in your town?  Well this happened to me a few days ago.  Believe me I was shocked and looking around finally noticed the red lights flashing and police helicopters taking off, since we were at the airport cafe at the time.  We had finished our lunch and talked about walking around the planes, but decide to return home.  Upon returning home, my son checked around outside and made sure everything was ok and everything was locked.

We turned the TV on and got all of the news and where the shoot out had occurred, not too far from our home.  Since the schools were on lockdown, I knew my grandson was safe since his school was the nearest to the area, however we have another son who is in law enforcement who was on the streets looking for the suspect.  But just the thought of someone going into a school and harming children was very scary.

After my son and his family left and with my husband out of town I was a little unsettled at being home alone.  I wasn’t scared, but with no information that they had found him, (it took several hours) I was very much on alert.  I rechecked the windows and doors, put the alarm on and sat and watched the news again.  Another feeling you continue to have is, one of being on alert for any noise or sound you might hear.  The nervous energy is flowing through your body expecting the unexpected.

My feelings were very surprising to me, since I have always considered my self-self reliant and “I can take care of myself attitude”Well, believe me until something unexpected happens to you or around you those feeling are unknown to a person.  This was a good wake up call for me, “not to take things for granted”and always be aware.

Preparedness Mom

Free Fruits and Vegetables are Easy to Get.

free fruitThe area of Northern California where we live was once known for large orchards.  Over the years, this has changed but there are still a lot of mature fruit trees around.  For various reason I have noticed that many of these are never picked and the fruit goes to waste.  This is often free fruit just for the asking.

My wife and others that we know have been approaching the owners of some of these trees and asking if they can pick them.  The reception that they have received has with a few exceptions been quite good.  In a number of cases, the owners due to age or other infirmities are physically incapable of gathering the fruit.  In these cases, we shared the free fruit and it helps them.

Just the other day my wife got a lot of free apples.  This is just some of the free fruit that she has found this year.  We have preserved some of it and have given some to others to can.  The same principal applies to vegetables and nut.  There are still a lot of walnut trees around here that are going to the squirrels.  In the last few years, we have gotten apples, pears, olives, lemons, oranges, pomegranates and other fruits and vegetables.

By canning, drying or fermenting is possible to preserve this food so that we can store it for a number of years.  This is a good time of the year to be on the lookout for free fruit.  In the near future the olives will be ripe and I intend to gather some and make olive oil.

Depending on where you live, the crops may be different, but the idea is the same.  Gather up all you can for free.


The Groundnut or Indian Potato a Good Edible Plant

groundnutsGroundnut, Apios americana, sometimes called the potato bean, Indian potato, potato pea, pig potato, bog-potato, wild bean, wild sweet potato, America-hodoimo, hopniss is a perennial vine that bears edible beans and large edible tubers.  Its vine can grow to 3-20 long, with leaves 4 to 9 inches long with 1-3 leaflets.  The flowers are usually pink, purple, or red-brown.  The fruit is a legume (pod) 2 to 3 inches long.

It is a vigorous vine that can wrap itself around shrubs, small trees, and larger vines. It also grows across low vegetation and open ground. The vines can grow from ten to twenty feet each season, dying back in the fall….hopniss plant has several edible parts. The flowers are fairly good raw or cooked, and the seeds are edible…but the most important edible part …Hopniss tubers range from the size of a grape to the size of a grapefruit.  Normally they are about one inch thick, one and a half inches long, and egg-shaped.

Its natural range is from Southern Canada (including Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick) down through Florida and West as far as the Great Plains.


The tubers

The tubers are highly palatable with culinary characteristics of a potato, although the flavor can be somewhat nuttier than a potato and the texture can be finer

Tubers contain roughly three times the protein content of a potato, but are not a complete source of amino acids.  Thirty-six percent of the fresh weight of a tuber is carbohydrate (primarily starch).  The tubers are also an excellent source of calcium and iron.

The tubers were a staple food among most Native American  within the  range of the plant.  In 1749, the travelling Swedish botanist Peter Kalm writes, “Hopniss or Hapniss was the Indian name of a wild plant, which they ate at that time. The roots resemble potatoes, and were boiled by the Indians who ate them instead of bread.”

The American groundnut or hopniss was an important factor in the survival of the Pilgrims during the first few winters of their settlement.  In 1623, the Pilgrims, “having but a small quantity of corn left,” were “forced to live on groundnuts… and such other things that the country afforded… and were easily gotten.”   It seems quite probable that groundnut would have been eaten at the harvest festival of November 1621 the first Thanksgiving, although only venison was specifically named as a food item at this meal by an eyewitness account.

Groundnuts can be dug at any time of the year, unless the ground is frozen solid.  Groundnuts are available in the early spring when starch is hard to find.  The tubers can be as much as 8 inches under the ground, although usually less.

The best tubers are medium-sized, young, very firm, and as smooth as you can find them. In a good patch, you can harvest half a bushel in a couple of hours.

It is advisable to cook hopniss before consumption, since it contains trypsin inhibitors and this renders it more digestible. Poorly cooked hopniss, like beans, can cause horrendous gas.


Spider Webs can be Used to Treat Wounds

spider websThese last few days we have had an Aunt of my wife’s staying with us.  She was raised under what today would be considered fairly primitive conditions.  Her mother, my wife’s grandmother born in 1885 was an herbalist who helped people until her death.

Both my wife’s aunt and my wife remember how she would treat cuts with spider webs.  When they would get a cut or scrape, she would go out to the barn and gather spider webs and put them on the wound.  They both say that it worked well and they never were infected.  She did nothing to the spider web other than get the cleanest possible.

They both are strong believers in this type of wound treatment.  So this got me doing a bit of research on the subject.  It seems that in traditional European medicine, spider webs are often used on wounds and cuts to help healing and reduce bleeding.  The used them to treat wounds and even made a type of gauze pad out of them.

Today medical science is research spider webs to learn more about their medical properties.  They are even looking at using them to help rebuild ligaments.  Researchers at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., have found that spider webs could be used as scaffolds for regenerating ligaments damaged in one of the world’s most common knee injuries—ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments, or ACLs.

Scientists are also developing spider silk to make exceptionally fine sutures for stitching up surgeries or wounds to nerves or eyes, to potentially help them heal without scarring.

Some research indicates the spider webs are rich in vitamin K – the clotting vitamin.  The web itself is a biologically neutral material whose silk will not cause an infection as long as clean webs are used.

Some herbalist claim that  Spider webs have natural antiseptic and antifungal properties that help keep wounds clean and free of infection. But as of yet this has not been confirmed by medical science.

Remember I am not a medical expert, so if you decide to try this do so at your own risk.



Homemade Dehydrated Potatoes

dehydrated potaoes

The finished product

I have been seeing some great deals on Russet potatoes at the store, mainly at the discount stores.  A $1.99 for 10 pounds is a great price.  So I bought some bags and decide make dehydrated potatoes.  I will use them for scalloped potatoes, hash browns or with any casserole dish or add to soups and stew.

Dehydrated potatoes look just like the kind you find in packaged mixes.  You can seal them in jars and add the fixing for a meal in a jar. You can add products like for example, powered butter, powered cheese, powered milk, any dehydrated vegetable and some dehydrated meat, like hamburger, turkey, chicken or pork.  You have made a meal in a jar for your food storage or a quick meal when you are busy.  Dehydrated potatoes can be added to soups and stews for thickener along with your regular fresh potatoes.

dehydrated potaoes

Slicing potatoes

As the pictures show, you first have to peel all of your potatoes (or you can leave the peel on but wash them very well). Then you have to slice them very thin on a Vee Mandoline Slicer, (I sliced on medium).

I start by warming the water while I am peeling, so the water is ready when I am done.  Put the potatoes in boiling water and blanch them for 5-6 minutes, remove them from the water and place into them a large dish and let them cool until you can handle them.  Then put the potatoes on the drying trays. Instructions for the Excalibur Dehydrator is to dry at 125 degrees for 12 hours, (but I do 10 hours since they are sliced thin and they turn out crispy hard).

dehydrated potatoes

Sliced potatoes ready to be blanched

After drying, I put them in 1/2 gallon jars and sealed them.  I got five jars out of a 10-pound bag of potatoes.  Since drying these, I have ordered some red potatoes from a friend and will dry these also, but will leave the peel on this time.  Russet Potatoes are different.  Most of the time I use Russets for potato salad and baked potatoes and twice baked potato because they hold their shape better.

Vacuumed sealed in the half gallon jars with a Food Saver they should last for years

dehydrated potaotes

Sliced potatoes on drying rack

Well hopefully this will help you to dry and seal some meals of your own. Have fun experimenting with recipes of your own.

Preparedness Mom

Preserving Meat with Salt and Red Chili Peppers

preserving meatI have had the change to spend some more time with my wife’s aunt who is visiting us.  As I explained in an earlier post, she was raised under what would today be fairly primitive conditions.  One thing she and I have been talking about is preserving meat.

Because of a lack of refrigeration, her mother would dry most of the meat, when they would slaughter a cow on the ranch.  She says that her mother would cut the meat into chunks and remove all the fat.  She would then rub the meat with salt and crushed red chili peppers.  She would then beat the meat with a mallet until it was thin.  Sometimes she added more salt and peppers as she worked.

The meat would then be hung up in a covered porch.  It was enclosed with window screen to keep the flies away.  Since they lived in an area with hot summers and low humidity this worked well. When the meat was dried, it was wrapped and stored in a cool place, since they had no refrigeration. It would last until they used it up.  She would make stews and chili out of the dried meat.

I have not seen this method used before and I am not sure, if the peppers were only added for flavor or if they helped in preserving meat.  I have done some research on this and found that drying beef with chili’s and other native spices was developed by the ranchers and cowboys of northern Mexico

While doing some the research, I found an excellent article on preserving meat.  It is published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.  The title is “Simple Techniques for Production of dried meats”.  You can download it to your computer.  Even though it is from the UN it is a good article and lots of good information and ideas.

Hope this help you.


A Comparison of Four Different Fire Starters

fire startersToday one of my granddaughters and I were experimenting with different types of fire starting devices.  It ended with us making a video of Randy lighting Vaseline soaked cotton balls in a short video which we posted on you tube.  Now Randy is interested in prepping and has been studying it for some time.

What we are doing with her is having her do everything herself, so that she really learns how to survive.  So we spent this afternoon on fire starting.  One thing she has learned is how that there is a learning curve on almost everything.  None of us are born Daniel Boones.

Today we used four different fire starters, a cheap magnesium one from Harbor Freight which costs $2.99, The Sparky from Amazon which sells for around $15.00, a large good quality fire steel which sells for about $15.00 and the Lightning Strike from Holland Shooters Supply which cost about $50.

In the following video, you can see how they each function in the hands of someone with a minimum of training.

As you can see, they all do the job.  Some are a little easier to use than others.  To me the magnesium fire starter from Harbor Freight can be a bit hard to use.  The magnesium scrapes of easily enough, but the striker is pretty poor.  If I were to carry this, I would carry a backup striker.

The Sparky works well and it has the advantage that it can be used one handed.  The large fire steel works well and will do the job.  Now we come to the last the Lightning Strike from Holland Shooters Supply.  Like Randy says this is the Cadillac of fire starters which is a bit pricey.  It is not cheap but it puts out a large volume of sparks when used correctly.  When the strike wears out you can purchase spare and reuse the unit.  I like the fact that it lets you carry tinder in its base.  I have a Lightning Strike in my own kit.

All of these fire starters work and could save your life in an emergency.  From what I have observed when there is a failure, it is normal the fault of the operator not the device.  You need to practice.




Purifying Water with Chlorine Bleach and Pool Chlorine

purifying waterA lot of this information has been posted on this blog in the past, however I still get questions on it so I thought I would cover purifying water with chlorine again.

I see FEMA, the American Red Cross and others all recommending liquid Clorox, Purex or chlorine as a method for purifying water in an emergency.  Bleach can be a good method of water purification, except they don’t mention that liquid bleach has a shelve-life.

Clorox states on their website that bleach should be replaced every year.  This is for laundry use.  For purifying water, bleach has started to lose its strength at six months.  It takes about 4-8 weeks from the time chlorine bleach is made to reach your home.  This leaves you 3-5 months where the bleach is at the effectiveness level stated on its label.

Avoid using any bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives.  Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite.  Chlorox has recently come out with a new product “Clorox Ultra”.  They have changed the concentration of Sodium Hypochlorite (chlorine) from 5.25% concentration to 6%, and they have added Sodium Hydroxide.  They are doing this to reduce the size of the containers.  Chlorox has stated that this is safe to use for water purification.

Clorox Ultra, Chlorox, Purex or chlorine bleach may be used to disinfect water in the following amounts.  Four drops per quart gives 10 ppm in clear water.  This amount should be increased to eight drops in turbid (cloudy) water.  Sixteen drops will provide 10 ppm per gallon of clear water.  You should be able to get a slight odor of chlorine after the water sits for the 15 minutes.  If not, add more Clorox.

Warning – Chlorine will not reliably kill Giardia and Cryptosporidium.  SODIS, boiling, chlorine dioxide tablets and good water filters are more reliable.  While chlorine will not kill Giardia and Cryptosporidium reliably, it is effective against most other bacteria’s.

Don’t pour purified water into contaminated containers.  Sanitize your water jugs first and don’t forget the threads and caps.

Chlorine Bleach Sanitizing Solution.

To sanitize containers, mix 1-tablespoon chlorine bleach into one gallon of water. Always wash and rinse items first, and then let each item soak in the chlorine bleach sanitizing solution for 2 minutes then drain and air dry.

Now maybe a good time to check the dates on any bleach you have stored and rotate it if needed.

Now let’s talk about powdered chlorine which is calcium hypochlorite.  This can be used for purifying water and has no shelf life, which makes it sound perfect.  However, you do have to be careful how you store and use it.  Used incorrectly it can react violently and start fires.

See the following post for more information.  Calcium Hypochlorite for Treating Drinking Water, The Good and the Bad.