While searching for an elderberry syrup recipe, I ran across a useful blog, and wanted to post it, but I couldn't decide where such a link belonged, among the myriad choices, here on CM . . . So, necessity being the mother of new threads, I thought it was time to start a Homesteading and Self-sufficiency thread, for posting references and discussions that are not narrow enough to fit under, say Agriculture/Permaculture, or Homemade Concoctions, or the like.
So, here's the blog that I thought was worth starting a new thread for: http://purecajunsunshine.blogspot.com/. I haven't had a chance to dig deeply, but it appears that this lady is well aware of the changes that are on the horizon, and it seems that she's a homesteader in a rather isolated area (apparently bears are a problem when simmering elderberry juice). There are recipes for a variety of homemade remedies, including a great discussion of the use of elderberry syrup for prevention and treatment of influenza. Other topics include emergency preparation, frugal living, foraging for food and supplies, as well as philosophical meanderings. Specific posts include a recipe for homemade mosquito repellent, homemade nontoxic weed killer, and making useful items from snake skins . . . . OK, maybe I can't use the snake skin advice, but generally, you know I just love this stuff . . .
Another really practical resource is Backwoods Home magazine. I just read the Sept/Oct issue, truly, cover-to-cover . . . Even the handful of ads are good resources . . . I learned the ins and outs of choosing a chainsaw, some downhome advice for us novices on preparing for the hunting season, how to make homemade butter with an old-fashioned churn, and a wide variety of tips about frugal living. There were articles that emphasize community, such as a model for community living aptly dubbed Last Chance Gulch . . . The article digs into some of the specifics of community living, such as how disputes arise, and how they can be resolved, and common pitfalls of community living. There was also a homey article on organizing a "cannng party" to more efficiently put up summer's bounty. The building of a "portable" chicken coop was described, as well as a number of skillet dishes, authentic old-fashioned barbecuing, and fresh salads from the garden. This magazine is like Martha Stewart and Popular Mechanics sans petroleum. There are few, considerately clustered, small ads, and the rest is information dense. I found every bit of it immediately useful . . . . OK, maybe I'm not far enough along the self-sufficiency curve to use the squirrel hunting info yet, but you get the picture . . .
I just wanted to give a quick thanks for starting this thread as it is something I'm very interested in. As soon as I can switch gears, I will definitely be contributing to this important conversation.
All the best, Jeff
Great thread. Thanks C1.
Thanks C1! Really an interesting site! I think I'll be printing A LOT of info from here and putting it in one of my "hard copy" folders! Thanks!
Hi, Jeff, Morpheus, and LogansRun;
I'm heartened to hear a positive response to this thread . . . I was beginning to think I was the only injun in this teepee (no racial slurs intended . . . "Native American" just doesn't work well with the cadence of the phrase).
I am a bit disturbed by the dearth of self-sufficiency, frugality,energy-conserving, and resourcefulness posts. If I had nothing but time on my hands, I'd sample of week of posts to see what the percentages are, to keep our Cap'n happy with having facts to back up my assertion . . . But, given that I'm bored by counting, and having little spare time, you'll have to settle for a more or less quick-and-dirty observation . . . . . . . that most recent posts are related to deciphering the economy, and few posts are describing activities that reflect a true acceptance of living in a world of less, and a de facto crumbled economic system. Not that there's anything wrong with attempting to understand what has gone wrong, and trying to preserve some vestige of former wealth . . . Clearly, that's what Dr. Martenson does best . . . But it seems that few of us are sufficiently over-brained and doggedly analytical to do much more than obsess about the economy. And so, it would behoove us, in between checking in with the Martenson Reports, to do a little on-the-ground and in-the-trenches preparation.
I recently received a PM, inquiring, to paraphrase, about how I keep from going crazy, given that I have a pretty cynically realistic view of current events. Aside from certain unmentionable contemplations and devotions, I must say that a I think a big part of not being anxious, angry, or fearful is that while I certainly object to the many heinous behaviors that have led to our predicament, and I am committed to being vocal about the causes of our demise, I've also accepted the facts, as facts (not as desirable outcomes), and that I've chosen to ride the horse in the direction it's going. And, for me, that means actively and concretely moving toward a more self-sufficient and locally focused lifestyle.
Not a day goes by when I have not done several things that reduce my dependence on powers that are beyond my little homestead, or, at worst, the community within a 10 mile radius of our home. Consequently, every day, I have real things that I can see and touch that reassure me that whatever happens with the stock and bond markets, or the value of the dollar or gold, we'll still eat [well!]. And so, I've started this thread, hoping that the few of us who are moving in that direction can instigate a revolution, of sorts.
Consequently, every day, I have real things that I can see and touch that reassure me that whatever happens with the stock and bond markets, or the value of the dollar or gold, we'll still eat [well!]. And so, I've started this thread, hoping that the few of us who are moving in that direction can instigate a revolution, of sorts.
Thanks very much for starting this thread, and for your astute observations and helpful comments. I have been thinking some of the same things - talk, talk, talk but what are we doing? Quite frankly, I think I have more information now, on what might be happening, than I am using.
So, along comes "Time to do something besides just talk about it."
OK, we've made the usual preparations for food, water, warm clothing, etc. etc. But there must be more that will be needed if this thing really gets as bad as we all obviously think it will. I appreciated learning about Backwoods Home magazine. A lot of times my wife and I wish we had that "perfect little place" a little ways out, where we can feel safer(?) but that doesn't appear to be a possibility for us.
So, despite all that we've done, including getting virtually out of the markets, getting of the banks as much as possible, getting completely out of debt, holding PMs.....I must admit I'm still scared. At our age - 70's - we know we're not quite as capable or self sufficient as we once were, and our kids and others don't seem to have any interest in joining with us in any kind of sustainable situation.
Any further suggestions? Thanks.
What part of the world are you in, and what is your situation? City/suburbs? How much land? Tillable soil?
I'm currently trying to get my electronic hands on the archives for Backwoods Home and Mother Earth News magazines. If I do so, I will gladly share access to them for all here, probably via dropbox. Of all the subjects discussed on this site, I think self-sufficiency is by the most important, as if your significantly self-sufficient, you have little worries about the things you can't control.
There is a tremendous amount to learn on this topic, and though I have studied it for most of my adult life, I haven't practiced it much. I need to get my priorities right and start living the dream. Thanks for the nudge.
Hey Retired Ben ,
It is so good to hear that you are getting so well prepared ! I was thinking that your own children will be around, begging to help as soon as they can not take care of themselves . Maybe even asking to move in with you . If this does not happen and you need younger arms and backs to haul wood , work the garden, and such I am Very Sure you will have no trouble finding those that will " Work for Food " In fact I would say that you might get way more than you want .
The other day I had a good sit down cry . So overwhelmed by the amount of gardening and homesteading that needed done at this harvest time of year . It scared the kids into really pitching to get some things done ! You know they just take for granted that you will always be there and take care of things for them . Just Like much of the Population expects the Govt. will use their tax money to "take care " of them.
It is going to be amazing what the young people are going to be unable to do for themselves .
I am in the opposite kind of situation here My in-laws have millions invested in BP . And my pops has his money in the Stock market thinking "it will come back just as it always has . " I am trying best to figure out how I will care for them.
I have found it is getting harder to stay 'under the radar' so to speak . We are buying old cars that we can fix our selves , getting an old propane tractor , living more simple , and getting back to the basics , when the rest of the world around us are trying to move up and get ahead . I am sure many wonder, many think we have gone crazy and are talking behind our back at the coffee shop.
Everyone's basic needs are the same but after that everyone's preparedness takes on very individual twist .Example ,with all my children under 30 I am learning midwife skills and preparing to take care to train them . These kiddo's are in for a shocker and my kids are having trouble keeping hope for their future.
It helps to just be doing something to get ready . It sure would be great if you could find some like minded folks in your area to be moral support . I am thinking your wisdom and experience will be your best asset .
I find reading the blogs on how people are living in other countries helps me think ' we are going to get through this' and that our mine and spiritual health will be as important as the physical .
Just being free to ask for Ideas and vent frustrations on this site .... knowing you are not alone.... is a wonderful help.
I expect most of the regulars are well aware of her site, but for any brand-new folks, www.sharonastyk.com has a *wealth* of self-sufficiency material especially suited to people trying to "adapt in place," as she terms it. She's a prolific writer, so you'll have to sort through a lot of posts, some more theoretical or policy oriented than others, but she does have category searches on the right-hand column to help you narrow down her writings to your interests. I love how thoroughly her posts explore a topic such as home lighting options in a post-peak oil world.
I'm planning to explore both the blog you found C1, and the magazine reccomendation.
Hi again C1,
We are in the Great NW, up near Canadian border. There is some arable land up this way and we are close enough to the ocean that we don't get the terribly cold winters, but we also don't get long growing season in summer. The arable land up this way is primarily planted in berries of all kinds (pretty; good size farms, but not agri-business) In addition, there are lots of small farms, young farmers, and we have done a pretty good job of aligning ourselves with them by supporting them financially in the early Spring, and enjoying the fruits of their labors at harvest time. Our thought is that if things get really tough, with shortages of food, etc. these same small farmer friends will be more inclined to share with us, than with those who don't already have connections with them. Wish I could do a big garden myself, but arthritis prohibits me from doing much physical labor.
Thanks for your encouraging post. We have a bed ( 4' x 16') in a community garden we started down the street (50 families) and we found out, again, just how much work even that little bed can be. But it was fun, and we got lots of homegrown tomatoes, sugar peas, carrots, chard and squash. Good stuff, but not enough to sustain life. We've also stockpiled food that won't go bad quickly, and presently are using out of it and replacing it as we go. (Please read my last post to C1, in regard to what we've done to align ourselves with local, small farmers.)
I think I have to admit that I'm pretty upset that my two kids (in their 40's) have no interest in us getting together (my wife and I could even move where they are) to try to support each other. They are living as though there were no tomorrow, and especially not an uncertain tomorrow. In other words, they think we're nuts for doing all this preparation. But I think what we're doing comes out of my upbringing - that says be responsible for yourself, don't spend more than you make, have some fun along the way but also "save for a rainy day." Apparently very different from most folks in today's world.
Thanks again for your sharing.
I have been delivering the Crash Course every week on Thursday nights from 7:00PM to 10:00PM to help get the word out. I show the video over three successive weeks and the fourth is a "what shall I do?" self assessment event trying to get people into action. After three months of this I must say that the CC message is very well received but the ability of people to actually do something is fearfully s-l-o-w. As you mentioned, it's mostly all about talking about it.
There are those who are into action but they are seldom seen at the events because they are too busy in the actual doingness of it whether it is running the local CSAs or doing personal prep and so on. So I see a huge gap between those who can actually get into action and those who are into discussing the need for it. And then there are those who are arguing whether there is actually a problem at all !!!!!!!!!
I am committed to running the CC program for two more months at which time I plan to go to phase two which will be to assemble those grads who are interested in establishing a transition initiative. All the while I am working on my own preparedness plans. It's a lot of work. Gardening alone this summer has kicked my booty!
Ben, IMHO it will not be long before your kids come calling for help.
Thanks for this thread. I have several projects underway which I will be able to assist on here later this fall/winter. I have a water pumping windmill project underway using a 1936 Stover Mill which I have completely refurbished along with a tower extension which will put the mill at 46' height. We also have a design for a concrete water tank/cistern which I will have the plans and engineering available shortly. I am also developing a prototype passive solar home design with attached greenhouse for anyone contemplating a new structure.
I appreciate your perspective on the future. I am going to quote your comment in this thread at my CC meeting tonight to help people understand how else the predicament can be viewed.
6 09 2009
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. I’ve been meaning to do this for years…. It’s either been too poor, too busy, too many other things to do. Last year we switched to another power supplier, Integral Energy. To cut to the chase, because absolutely nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, in the electricity industry is trained to take calls from people who sell solar power to the grid, we were basically conned into switching under the premise that we would be better off under Integral’s tariff regimes. The people who made these promises had possibly never even seen a solar array tied to the grid…
After six months we got a bill…. and zero credit for the substantial amount of energy we exported to the grid. After hours on the phone and emails back and forth we eventually did get a whole nine months rebated, but the next three was, again, not credited.
So I thought, right, they want to play silly buggers, so can I. And I disconnected from the grid, running the house from the batteries we have as backups for the occasional blackouts. At the same time all this happened, our old fridge, which I knew was on the blink, finally gave up the ghost, consuming vast amounts of energy which at night was thrashing the batteries. I woke up one morning to find them flat, which was OK (sort of – it’s a sure way of shortening battery life) because as soon as the sun was strong enough they were quickly recharged. The problem of course is that we could not continue using this fridge as long as we were relying on the batteries, and it had to be replaced.
This is not my idea, I lifted it straight off the internet. If you run a freezer, especially a chest freezer, as a refrigerator, then you will use considerably less energy than otherwise would be the case. Why? Well when you open the top, all the cold air stays inside the fridge for starters, and because they are designed to run far colder, their innards are better made. Plus the insulation used in freezers is often three times as thick as that in fridges. All you need to do is use a replacement thermostat to over-ride the freezer’s internal device.
I was lucky to have found such an item the week before here. It is cheaper than any other alternative I’ve yet found, and it looked well made. Fifty bucks later, one arrived in the mail pronto.. now all I needed was a freezer to go with it.
Years ago, I’d spotted this unusual chest freezer in a shop. It had a drawer in the bottom. It’s the only one like it, as far as I know. The beauty of this design is that the stuff in the drawer is not as cold as that which is stored in the freezer’s top compartment, more about this later. Then, because the top is very shallow, you don’t have to bend in half to reach the bottom for the beer! I wanted one….
As luck would have it of course, its price had gone up substantially. The cheapest I could find over the internet was $703, plus delivery. That was way more than we wanted to spend, and so we looked around to see what else was available.
The good thing about the GFC is that cash talks loudly these days. I found one of these beauties in a shop I didn’t even know existed, totally by chance. It was the last one they had. The asking price was $699. Less for cash. So I accosted this rather large salesman and asked him what was his best cash price (ostentatiously pulling out a wad of $50 notes from my shirt pocket!). $570 said he after typing a few strokes into his computer…. I nearly keeled over! SOLD said I. Would you believe that amount was exactly all the cash we had? Some things are just meant to happen….
I’ve got it all going now, in spite of the atrociously written instructions on how to program the controller, and when I finally get the energy consumption figures over the next week or so, I’ll update the post. Can’t wait.
And that bottom drawer…? Well it’s the ideal place to age those goat cheeses I’m about to start making!
Edit : Edit
Now that is a gorgeous freezer, PLEASE post the contact info/specs for both the freezer and the store you bought it in. I have been trying to do the same thing for several months since I saw this:
I have written to the author and posted on a number of forums trying to find a freezer or fridge with horizontal drawer-style access, with little success. I can only find hyper-expensive luxury fridges which feature a drawer- looks like do-it-yourself is still the way to go.
I was so frustrated in not finding an affordable option that I downgraded my tactic to just finding a timer to cycle the freezer on for one minute out of each hour. This digital thermometer sounds like a vast improvement on this project. Perhaps you could also post a re-write of the programming instructions as well?
Hey C1oudfire and DTM and Full Moon and Sue and everyone,
This is the thread/forum that tugs at my heart the most and I will share whatever I can find or type--I promise! We sold our NE house last week, I am working here for a while to make up the $$ loss, but my heart is back in the Midwest, planting berries, more fruit trees, making cheese and soap, etc. and in general just hunkering down and building infrastructure (I can practice firearms here and learn many other skills, but it isn't the same!)
So bless you all, hang in there and my contribution for the day for homesteading and taking care of health is making kefir.
This is a fermented milk product originally but you can make kefir from soy milk, fruit juice, etc. if you get the water grains as well as the dairy grains.
It is less temperamental than yogurt as the cultures are not thermophilic and it works up fine on the counter and will keep working in the refrigerator if you have one. (Does get a mildly alcoholic fizz, but very mild.)
The health benefits are better than yogurt, I think--I have seen data to support that and for those of you who want the citations, I will look for them.
Here are several websites toget started and the cultures can be ordered and if you really want to play with your food, I recommend Sandor Katz's book, Wild Fermentation.
http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefir-list.php (this is an international list of people with kefir to share or sell)
(I am not related or making anything from any of these contacts, BTW--I just love kefir and think it helps a body optimize the immune system with enzymatic activity...)
Something about that lumpy milk that tastes like real buttermilk used to when it was cultured, not faked.
Thanks for the thread!
Saving a little of your money and maybe some of the waste to the environment . Use the soaps you have collected from the motel stays and make your laundry soap . http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm Take such a short time to make a few months supply .
Glad to see this thread as well. I am aiming for reducing my energy use by 80% as the next year goes along. Sometimes I feel crazy as others carry on with life as usual. I live on a farm which helps but have added a root cellar and will be calling a well driller to get a shallow well that I can get water for stock in the barn even when it is freezing out.
The hard part for me is trying to get more self sufficient and running my farm at the same time. Until things really slow down, its hard to find time to can, freeze, dry and harvest all that I am growing. Used to be there was an extended family that help with these projects. People just worked darn hard.
Its fine to store some water and a few weeks of food, but don't forget that even in the city we can grow our own gardens and learn to make do.
The Power Of Community: Cuba After the Oil Crisis" or something like that is a very interesting video on youtube.
I right-clicked on the picture of the freezer in the previous posting and looked at properties. The file name if the freezer picture is: haierfreezer.jpg
So I just Googled for "haier freezer", and voila:
HAIER LW150W 5.3 Cu. Ft. Capacity Drawer Dual Zone Freezer$269.59 from www.appliancebestbuys.com
This sounds similar to the fermented mares milk, airag, that's common in my wife's home country and other areas in central Asia, as that also had a bit of a fizz and a mild alcohol content (about the same as light beer I'd say). My wife had me try some, and while it's not awful, I think it is a bit of an acquired taste (she can have the fermented milk, and I'll stick with home-brewed beer ). I think perhaps kefir may be milder in taste, though? If so I think it'd have wider appeal to one's family than airag/kumis.
I think that the culture used may be the same or very similar--part of the mildness (and % alchohol!) may be due to the length of time you ferment the milk and the type of milk you use. I have never tried kumis and I ferment my kefir for only a few days before using.
I have read accounts of kefir-making that employed the stomach of a goat, which was hung by the door of the nomad tent where everyone who came in or out could thump the bag to mix it up...that might provide a pretty high flavor! I drank kefir for breakfast every morning when I was in western Ukraine for a month or so...and it tasted pretty much like what I make now. Which to me tastes like mild, cultured buttermilk (back when buttermilk was actually cultured milk from butter-making...).
Maybe you could share some details of home-brewed beer? On my list of skills to learn and practice ASAP! Bottoms up! Boodla dobre o vorochai (please excuse my very bad Ukrainian --anyone who speaks it or can spell! The rough translation I was given means "to a good harvest!")
good detective work, gmeader2! The trail gets warmer- not a lot of Canadian options, but at least I know what to ask for now.....
I think you're right with the type of milk... the airag(kumis) I've had on several occasions I believe was made using cow's milk, which my wife says is somewhat different in taste than the more traditional mare's milk. Supposedly it's not easy to milk mares, and even in Mongolia I think it's more common for cow's milk to be used. But as far as I know, like kefir it doesn't take long for the fermentation. Another somewhat related recipe includes making dehydrated fermented milk and cheese curds that are typically eaten as snacks... it's almost like a party mix, because there are several different kinds of flavors. Like airag, some are flavors that are not necessarily unpleasant but unlike anything I've had before...
Hehe it's actually a couple of people I know who are home-brew maestros, not me (sometimes who you know can be as important as what you know ). But from seeing it being done in an apartment with a normal-sized kitchen, it's thankfully something that doesn't require a lot of resources to get started. I want to try it myself, but I've got too many other projects for this winter so it'll have to wait. I was pointed to this link by one person as being good for a total beginner:
If you have a problem finding soda ash, try a swimming pool supply store.
I had to go way back to find this site . Did you all find some where else to meet ? Have I been left behind ? Maybe you are all too busy this fall.
Anyway I have a situation/question . The Amish had an equipment failure and had to get rid of or dump a tank of milk. So I got 50 gallon yesterday for free I plan to spend this day making butter , yogurt , and cheese but have any of you had success canning it ? It should work like condensed milk , right ? I asked the Amish lady but since they always have fresh she never tried canning it .
Hope you get back with me ASAP .
Hi Harvest Moon (I hope you don't mind my nicknaming you that . . . It seems to suit you better than Full Moon, which I associate with having lots of violent and insane people pop up in the emergency room, lol . . . . You just don't fit that picture . . . .
This is just off-the-cuff, so check what I'm saying with more authoritative sources. Preserving milk has been a challenge ever since man has domesticated mammals for the purpose of taking their excess milk for human consumption. You have named the best strategies, that I know of, for keeping excess milk. Yogurt, I'd say, would be the most time efficient of the three, as acidification will allow the milk to remain edible for several weeks, with refrigeration. Hard cheeses, of course, would keep even longer. You might consider making sour cream, as that requires almost no labor, just time. Refrigeration will be required after the sourness has developed to the degree that you like.
Well, I won't keep you any longer . . . Congratulations on your windfall . . . .
Thanks C1 , I do not mind the nickname . Full moon is a reflexion of the Son . I hope .
I found a site to can butter and yes I am going to make lots of yogurt now because I figure it will make the best smoothies and I can make frozen yogurt . I already have a gallon of sour cream going . and will try to make cottage cheese to go with the tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse . If this flops the chickens will eat it . Well back to it , I think I will warm up the house by using some of it to make bread . Maybe just get some of that dough in the freezer if I still have room , If I make it into pizza crust it will not take up much space .
I knew there would be answers . Thanks for the boost .... getting busy right now . Have a great weekend to you all .
Hi, again Full Moon (with that clarification, I'm beginning to find your name suitable);
I find that with dairy "flops", I can still salvage the product by throwing a bit into smoothies. Even if the end point doesn't have the desired texture or acidity, it's nothing that a blender can't fix, lol . . . .
A quick question here to the homesteaders . Without all the details I am here with just the tow young boys for a few days . One of the calves fell into a creek , broke a leg and died in the night . I am thinkingit best to give it to the dogs is what I should do . So do I have to do anything special like gut it or skin it ? Hoping you have answers or can shoot me in the right direction .
A few questions here....
What did the calf weigh and what are the day & night temps there now?
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