Rope, Twine and String, Why Preppers Need It

rope, twine and stringBeing a bit older than many of you, I sometimes try to think back to my childhood and try to remember things that have been replaced by our modern society.  One thing that came to my mind this morning is ropes and string.  Now most of you probably have some 550 cord and some ropes for tie downs.  But how many of you stock rope, twine and string.

When I was a child, rope, twine and string were in every home, if you wanted to mail a package, you wrapped it in brown paper and tied up it with string.  Tape was nowhere near as common and not very good. String and twine was used for things like a plumb line, tying back plants, emergency shoe laces and for tying plants up in the garden.

I can remember my grandmother would save all the odd bits of cord so that they could be reused.  Most houses had a string ball on which you saved recycle pieces of strings.  Jute twine was used in the garden and for all types of temporary fixes; I have even seen it used for a temporary car repair. String and twine will prove to be very useful and are recyclable unlike most of our modern day throwaway products.

Rope work with block and tackle were used to lift many things that today are lifted by mechanical means such as folk lifts. Tripods with block and tackle were common on the farms for lifting everything from rocks to motors.  If you are planning to function off grid without modern power tools, you need to learn a bit about the use of a block and tackle and have them in your preps.

Here are a few links to previous posts that may help you. All About Knots, The Care and Maintenance of Ropes and String and Twine.

Rope, twine and string are easy to get now.  If you are around constructions sites, you can often get rope for nothing.  Store all you can it will be very valuable when the grid is down.  I will write a post on the use of block and tackle in the near future.



The New World Series by G Micheal Hopf , a Review

new world seriesTo my way of thinking, there are basically two types of apocalyptic fiction, the ones that consist of a good story and are educational like the Patriot and the Survivalist series and the second type that is just a story.  The New World Series, consisting of The End, The Long Road and the Sanctuary are about the results of an EMP attack on this country.  To me this series falls into the category of just a story.

The story is told by the daughter of our hero much later in her life.  If I had not made a commitment to read these books, I would not have finished the first chapter of the first book, The End.  It started out very slow.  My wife made it about a quarter of the way through the first book.

I will admit that after the first chapter The END got more interesting.  The New World Series is heavy on violence and to me the main character was not likable and did not take care of his family.  Be warned that the books use a fair amount of bad language.

If you are or were a Marine, you will not like the books since they show the Marine Corp in a bad light.  They are disloyal and mutinous.

I wanted to like this series, the subject is one I normally enjoy reading about and I like the publishing company.   But I cannot say that I really enjoyed this series nor would I recommend it to my friends.  My apologies to G Michael Hopf the author, but I am not a fan of this series.

I do have one set of the New World Series to give away.  If you still want them send me an email at with suggests for a future post and I will enter your name in my drawing.


An Interview with FreezeDryguy

freezedryguyFor a while, I have wanted to interview the owners of some of the various food distributors to learn about their products.  So this is my first attempt.  I sent these questions to Freezedryguy and here are his answers.  In the future I will sent similar question to many of the other foods suppliers.  If any of you are distributors and want to be interviewed let me know.


How long have you been in the food business?

FDG 1 month short of 44 years in the food storage business

What is your main motivation for staying in business?

FDG I wanted to assist others to become better prepared to face hard times.

What is your military background?

FDG 26 years overall; Army SF, and the balance of my career as a Combat Engineer

Is mountain House the only food that you sell?

FDG No, Mountain House is my primary product but I also have a limited variety of my own products under the Pack Away label such as Freeze Dried Pineapple, Dehydrated Milk, Butter, Cheese, Peppers, and Dehydrated Pinto and Black Beans.

Why do you like Mountain House Foods?

FDG Mountain House pioneered the Freeze drying industry, are the oldest and largest Freeze Dried food company in the world and their products have the best taste levels and the longest proven shelf life of any product out there; all without the use of chemical preservatives. Additionally, they possess the finest business ethic I have ever experienced.

Do the other foods that you sell maintain the same standards as Mountain House?

FDG We have a Freeze Dried Pineapple that we market under our own Pack Away Foods brand and the quality of this item is right up there with the Pineapple Mountain House used to Freeze Dry many years ago. They also do not produce a Dehydrated line as we do under the Pack away line such as dairy items, various beans like pintos, black beans, chili beans and Bell Peppers but we adhere to the same high oxygen removal standards that Mountain House does which will provide some of the longest storing foods available..

What O2 level do you recommend in foods?

FDG The lower the better but definitely well under 5% for good results; less than 2% is exceptional. Actually Mountain achieves well below 1% and much closer to 0%; as Pack Away does.

Why doesn’t nitrogen flush work?

FDG The nitrogen back flush is a good method, whereas a perfect vacuum is drawn on the pouch or can, then back flushed with oxygen to arrive at the less than 2% residual oxygen level is achieved.

It is the nitrogen flush where nitrogen is merely blown into the container that can be questionable. In independent testing, this method has often produced residual oxygen levels that ran from around to 5% to 15% and beyond remaining oxygen levels.

What is the difference between the methods used by Mountain House for nitrogen compared to nitrogen flush?

FDGThe method Mountain House used for decades (which was even then the highest in the industry) was the nitrogen back flush but in later years, they went to an absorber method that achieved the even higher standards of oxygen removal they provide today.

What about Pack Away Foods, do they maintain the same high standards that Mountain House does?

FDG Yes, we use the same oxygen removal method they use.

Are there Chinese foods in the products you sell?

FDG I have a great aversion to selling foods from China for several reasons but one example is of the toxic contamination issues such as melamine that we experienced a few years ago here in the U. S.  I do not accept foods from Mexico due to their poor track record in many cases.

What about other countries?

FDG I have no problem with other countries in Central or South America as they produce some of the finest fruits and vegetables grown in some of the richest soil available anywhere.

What would you warn consumers to look for in purchasing foods?

FDG Find a vendor who has been in the business for a long time. Ask what the residual oxygen levels are. I would absolutely require less that 5% residual oxygen; 2% would be very good and 1% would be ideal such as we provide. Remember, with all other things being equal, the lower the oxygen levels the longer the shelf life.

Why do you think people should buy long-term storage foods?

FDG It should be self evident; we are in a cycle of disastrous weather patterns that our country has never experienced. Drought is on the increase and food production is down; just look at the crisis taking place in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the largest producer of fruits and nuts in the United States. The economy is still not stable and many knowledgeable feel the worse to come. What better investment these days can we make than to put aside a few months of good tasting, highly nutritious, long storing foods that you only have to add hot or cold water to, to have an excellent meal..

Why should people buy form you?

FDG We are really, really nice people? (NO PROBABLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH!)  We carry the finest, longest storing foods with a proven track record you can buy.  Our Preparedness Counselors are highly knowledgeable, courteous, honest and patient.  We treat every customer as if we were providing a food program for our own children.

Freeze Dry Guy

Homemade Mouthwash for Dental Hygiene

homemade mouthwashA friend sent me this recipe for homemade mouthwash, that he says works great. I am going to try it, hope it works for you.


Most Store bought mouthwashes are usually made with a sharp mint flavor to make our breath smell fresh and pleasant. However, mint only masks the smell and actually feeds the odor-causing bacteria with more sugar. Also, most commercial brands of mouthwash are made up mostly from synthetic colors, flavors and chemicals that are nowhere near good for you.

Instead of just pretending to freshen your breath, you can make your own homemade mouthwash at home using natural ingredients that will clean your mouth from the bottom up. This mouthwash is made from ingredients that you likely have a home, so give it a shot (literally) and get to know the homemade goodness you’ve been missing!

About the ingredients:

Honey: This ingredient has a number of anti-bacterial properties that kill off all the bad bacteria in your mouth, instead of feeding them with sugar. Also, adding honey makes the wash taste better. Use organic or raw honey for the best results.

Cinnamon: A miracle spice in every way, cinnamon gets rid of odor by killing off the odor-causing bacteria in one blast. The International Association for Dental Research found that people who chewed cinnamon gum had a 50 percent decrease in oral bacteria versus people who chewed mint gum.

Lemon: The last ingredient of this mouthwash is a given; lemon is strong, refreshing and cleansing, so it will wash all the hidden food and bacteria from your mouth. It has whitening properties. Just make sure not to add too much lemon because it can erode your enamel if not used properly.

Recipe makes: One small bottle of mouthwash

Ingredients for homemade mouthwash:

  • Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 or 1 teaspoon baking soda (more whitening properties)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 cup of warm water (to melt the honey)
  • A clean bottle or jar with a lid

Mix together all of the ingredients and give it a shake. Swish or gargle 1-2 tablespoons of the mouthwash for a minute after brushing your teeth or whenever you want to freshen your breath. Don’t use the mouthwash more than once to twice a day (the lemon is very acidic).

Enjoy your fresh breath and clean mouth and take pride in your fantastic homemade mouthwash!



How do You Entertain Your Children After TEOTWAWKI?

children after teotwawkiChildren today are used to being entertained almost every single minute of the day.  Between school activities, television, computers, tablets, phones and electronic games, they are always being entertained.  As a family we have encouraged our grandchildren to learn to read and spend time outdoors as much as possible, but it is hard with all the distractions they face.  So how will you entertain your children after TEOTWAWKI?

In the past, most children had to work and they only had a few homemade toys.  They had to use their imagination, which I believe helped to make them creative.  Children of my generation learned to read and many of us grew up with a love of books.  Today I still see many people reading, but it is on Kindle or some other electronic device.  Now I am not saying don’t use electronic devices where they make your life better.  I have a Kindle and use it often; it is an easy way to carry books with me.  However, the important books that I need for survival I want backed up on paper.

If things collapsed tomorrow, how would you educate you children after TEOTWAWKI?  Do you stock paper, pencils, pens schoolbooks etc?  I go to garage sales all the time and am always seeing great books for sales for a few cents.  How about an old typewriter, I see them for sale all the time and cheap.  There is always good sales on school supplies at the end of the school year.

Just because the system fails does not mean that your children should not be educated.  The means and type of education may change.  One thing that they will have to learn will be to work, which is something that most of today children do not learn.  Reading writing and the other traditional forms of education will still be important and you may have to be their teacher.

What about entertainment?  Children and even adults will need some form of entertainment to help keep their moral up.  Board,card games and even musical instruments are possible solutions.  I see them every week for sale cheaply in garage sales.  Fill a cardboard box up with games and put it in your storage.  After TEOTWAWKI, the games will be new and exciting to your bored kids and maybe even grandparents.

Both you and your children will have to adapt to a new life style, a little pre-planning can make this transition easier.


Cornbread, Here is My Wife’s Excellent Recipe

cornbreadWhile I was thinking about what to post for this morning, I realized that I have never posted a recipe for one of my favorite foods.  That is cornbread; I love it with butter and honey or with beans or practically anything else.  My wife makes great cornbread. It is always good.

Cornbread is easy to make and can be cooked in a Dutch oven or cast iron frying pan over an open fire.  It doesn’t take many ingredients.

        • One cup corn meal
        • One cup all-purpose flour
        • Sugar ¼ cup or 1/8 cup honey
        • 1-teaspoon salt
        • 1-tablespoon baking powder
        • One cup buttermilk, regular or powdered milk can be used.
        • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or 2 tablespoons lard or bacon grease.
        • 1 egg
        • Optional, chop up a couple of fresh jalapenos depending on your taste buds.
        • Optional, chopped pimentos, onions or paprika

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Mix your milk, oil and egg in a separate bowl.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir.  Now you can add your optional ingredients.  If you choose jalapenos, the jalapenos should be coated in flour so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Cook in your preheated oven at 400 degrees 20 -25 minutes.  It can also be in a solar oven, a thermal oven or over an open fire.  to check and be sure it is cooked, stick a fork in the middle and it should come out clean.

Personally, I like all the optional ingredients.  But if you are short of supplies, you can leave out just about everything but the cornbread, salt, baking powder, lard or grease and milk.

Try it with all the optional ingredients and you will like it.  Just be careful you don’t make it too hot.



A Good Customer Experience from Goal Zero

goal zero

The complete package including the Nomad 7 and the Guide 10 battery pack..

Lately it seems like everywhere I go the customer service is lousy, so today’s experience was a breath of fresh air.  I have a Nomad 7 with the Guide 10 battery pack.  It has given me good service, but I ran into a problem of my own making.  I wanted to charge some AAA batteries and found out I had lost the adapter that lets them fit into the guide 10.

Feeling kind of bummed out I called Goal Zero and explained that I had lost the adapter and needed another.  Melissa the polite young lady that answered the phone said sure.  She took my address and said it would be shipped on Monday.  I asked how much and she said no charge.  I was floored they did not know who I was or that I write a blog, they just treated me decently.

Good customer service is hard to find so I decided to tell all of you about it.  In addition, here is a link to a post I wrote about them a couple of months ago.  A Good Portable Solar Charger, the New Goal Zero Nomad 7  The more I use mine the better I like it.

If any of you have either good or bad experiences with some of the companies you have dealt with let me know and we can give them credit or warn others to stay away. So Melissa at Goal Zero you did a good job today.  Thank you for making my day.


Portable Soups as Carried by Lewis and Clark and How to Make It.

portable soupPortable soup was a concentrate that made a dried stock similar to a bouillon cube.  It was used in the 18th and 19th centuries and was also known as pocket soup or veal glew.  It was used by explorers and sailors including the British Navy.

The Lewis and Clark expedition carried 193 pounds of portable soup, but it does not seem to have been very popular with the expedition members.  Portable soup seems to date from around 1690 in both France and England.

As with many products from that time period there seems to be a number of ways of making it. Hannah Glasse gives the following recipe for portable soup in her cookbook The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Easy published in 1747.

She suggests that you use two legs of beef, water, anchovies, cloves, mace, black pepper, onions, thyme and marjoram.  The mixture then must cook for about 8-9 hours. You then strain the mixture and let cool so you can remove the fat.  The jelly is then cooked a second time until it is “very stiff and thick” and put it into cups.  The cups are then placed in boiling water being sure no water goes into the cups.  The water is boiled until the portable soup is “like stiff glue”.  The glue is then put in cloth and kept in a warm place until hard and dry.  Soup preserved made like this, could typically last from two to five years.

The following is the complete recipe from her book.  It is easier to read if you know that the old s and f were very close in appearance.portable soupThere is information showing that at times other ingredients such as eggs and assorted vegetables were included in the recipes.  Some sources state that 10 gallons of stock produced a small brown rubbery slab about 6 by 12 by 1 inch, with an intense meaty taste.

Here is an English recipe for portable soup from 1861- INGREDIENTS.—2 knuckles of veal, 3 shins of beef, 1 large faggot of herbs, 2 bay-leaves, 2 heads of celery, 3 onions, 3 carrots, 2 blades of mace, 6 cloves, a teaspoonful of salt, sufficient water to cover all the ingredients.

Directions.—Take the marrow from the bones; put all the ingredients in a stock-pot, and simmer slowly for 12 hours, or more, if the meat be not done to rags; strain it off, and put it in a very cool place; take off all the fat, reduce the liquor in a shallow pan, by setting it over a sharp fire, but be particular that it does not burn; boil it fast and uncovered for 8 hours, and keep it stirred. Put it into a deep dish, and set it by for a day. Have ready a stewpan of boiling water, place the dish in it, and keep it boiling; stir occasionally, and when the soup is thick and ropy, it is done. Form it into little cakes by pouring a small quantity on to the bottom of cups or basins; when cold, turn them out on a flannel to dry. Keep them from the air in tin canisters.

As you can see this is a time consuming process, but it does produce a useful product that can be time saving when you are a hurry.  Portable soups were also used for the sick, because it was believed that they were very nourishing.



More on Living Off the Land and Mountain Men Preppers

living off the landYesterday I put up a post on the subject of living off the land and how hard it can be.  Now by living off the land I am not talking about homesteading, I am talking about living the life of a hunter-gatherer.  Today I want to add some additional information on the subject of living off the land.  I know some people disagree with the statements, I made yesterday about how hard it is.

In 1803 when the Lewis and Clark expedition crossed from what was then the United States to the Pacific Ocean they kept excellent records of many things including what they ate.  Now admittedly this was a hard trip and they burned a lot of calories.

The group consisted of 33 men with an occasional additional person for short periods of time.  They started the trip with nearly 7 tons of dry foods, including flour, salt, coffee, pork, meal, corn, sugar, beans, lard and 3 bushels of salt.  This included 193 lbs of portable soup, which was made by boiling down beef, eggs and vegetables into a thick past and drying it.

William Clark stated the following about their needs for food, “It requires 4 deer, or an elk and a deer, or one buffalo to supply us for 24 hours”.  Each man consumed nine pounds of meat per day, when available.

Raymond Darwin Burroughs tallied the quantity of game killed and consumed during the 2 years and 4 months the trip took.  This included the following.

  • Deer (all species combined) 1,001
  • Elk 375
  • Bison 227
  • Antelope 62
  • Big horn sheep 35
  • Bears, grizzly 43
  • Bears, black 23
  • Beaver (shot or trapped) 113
  • Otter 16
  • Geese and Brant 104
  • Grouse (all species) 46
  • Turkeys 9
  • Plovers 48
  • Wolves (only one eaten) 18
  • Indian dogs (purchased and consumed) 190
  • Horses 12

This list does not include the smaller animals that were killed and eaten by the Corps, such as hawk, coyote, fox, crow, eagle, gopher, muskrat, seal, whale blubber, turtle, mussels, crab, salmon, and trout.  It also does not include the food provide by the Indians.

The Mandan tribe of North Dakota provided them with corn, squash, and beans; the Chinooks who lived along Washington’s Columbia River introduced them to wapato ( a starchy tuber), and the Clastops from the Oregon coast traded elk, wild licorice root, and berries.  The 3 bushels of salt that they carried with them was insufficient and they had to extract salt from seawater by boiling it to cause evaporation.  They needed the extra salt for food preservation.

The expedition included experienced hunters and traveled though thinly populated areas where game was relatively plentiful and still had periods of hunger.  On many nights, they went to bed hungry and sometimes went days without eating.

Living of the land is not an easy existence.  It takes work and experience.  I believe that you need to stock a substantial supply of food and learn everything you can about gardening and living off the land as a means to supplement your food storage and life may still be hard.



For all You Mountain Man Preppers Who Plan to Live off the Land.

mountain man preppersPeriodically I encounter mountain man preppers who tell me about their plans to live off the land like the Native Americans.  Now I am not saying that it is impossible, but preppers who can do this successfully are few and far between. I know a couple of people who are capable of doing it. However to many of the mountain man preppers I encounter are obviously mall ninjas.

I have been reading the book Eleven Years in the Rocky Mountains and life on the Frontier written by Frances Fuller Victor and published in 1877.  It is an interesting book covering a number of experiences encountered by the mountain men.  One of them is shown below.

In the 1820s Milton Sublette set out for the southwest leading a large party made of largely experienced mountain men.  In the country between the Owyhee and Humboldt Rivers, the hunter failed to produce enough food and the men were reduced to famine conditions.

“The largest game to be found was the beaver, whose flesh proved to be poisonous, from the creatures having eaten  the wild parsnips in the absence of its favorite food.  The men were made ill by eating of beaver flesh”.

“The sufferings of the men now became terrible, both from hunger and thirst.  In the effort to appease the former, everything was eaten that could be eaten and many things at which the well-fed man would sicken with disgust.  I have, says Joe Meeks held my hands in an ant-hill until they were covered with ants, then greedily licked them off.  I have taken the soles off my moccasins, crisped them in the fire, and eaten them.  In our extremity, the large black crickets which are found in this country were considered game.”

Now as I said at the beginning most people who attempt to live off the land will not survive.  I strongly recommend that you have at least a year’s supply of food in your storage and a backup plan.  In addition to this, I suggest that you learn about the various edible plants and animals so that you can supplement your supplies.

Some mountain man preppers need to grow up and realize this is not a hobby or a game.  It is a serious endeavor in which a mistake can kill you.  If you think, you can live off the land, try it for a couple of weeks and see how you fare.  Let me know how it goes.