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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Please watch this video

I have no idea how to put this video on my site or I would. If you can explain it, please let me know. In either case, go here:


Watch it. Listen to it. Think about it.

What are we prepping for?

So just what are we all prepping for? I've been doing a lot of reading online about what's going on in the world around us. It seems a lot of interesting things are happening that aren't making it to our local newspaper.

How do we know just what we should be stocking up on or preparing for? Will what we chose to have be different depending on what we think the threat is? I think the basics of food, water and first aid will stay the same regardless.

Economic colapse? Seems like with the way the world's economy is going, this is certainly a possibility. If this happens we should probably have a stash of money that is not in the banking system in case our bank goes belly up like the one in Kansas did. I know technically the FDIC insures our deposits, but how long would it take to get that money back if it did fail? Maybe we should also stockpile some things to barter just in case. Extra lamp oil, extra food, etc. Whatever you think the hot commodity will be if people cannot get things easily.

Pandemic? Bird flu is still out there and there are still cases of it being reported in other countries. It may only be a matter of time before it reaches the United States. What do we need in case of a pandemic? Masks, extra first aid supplies, water purifier? We'll certainly want to make sure we don't have to leave the house for anything if this hits the US. Do you have enough supplies at home to stay there for an extended period of time?

Foreign Invasion/Takeover? Now that the US has given China eminent domain in exchange for China continuing to purchase our US Treasury notes and currency reserves, who knows how long it will be before they exercise that choice? What will we need in this case? Of course, there is always the threat of invasion from Middle Eastern countries like what happened on 9/11.

EMP Pulse? Iran now has nuclear capabilities and has the capability of setting of an EMP pulse above the US which will basically wipe out our electronic capabilities. Think of it... no tv, radio, internet, electricity, propane, gasoline, communications, satellites. We'd basically be plunged back into the 1800s. Can you survive without our modern day conveniences? Heat your house, cook your food, wash your clothes, locate food & water, travel, etc.?

Nuclear war? I don't feel anywhere near informed enough to comment on this possiblity. Depending on your location, it may simply be a matter of staying inside for a long period of time but what would happen to the rest of the world? Our food supply, the soil conditions, animals, water supply, civil unrest, health issues?

Whatever you believe may or may not happen in our future, don't put off preparing any longer. Even if all you do is grab an extra can of tuna fish & a bag of beans each week, start now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Emergencies on the road

It's a very good idea to keep an emergency bag or box in your car. Here are some things I'd recommend you have on hand just in case.

1. A gallon jug of water. Good for drinking if you need it or in case the car overheats. Be careful during the winter that the jug does not freeze & then crack.

2. Food. Keep some energy bars in the car just in case. I'd keep at least two bars for each person in your family. Try not to choose chocolate which will melt in the hotter months.

3. Blankets. I would keep a solar emergency blanket for each person along with several heavy wool blankets.

4. Clothes. Keep extra hat, gloves, scarf and dry socks for each person. You can also keep a spare change of jogging pants and shirt or a nylon poncho in case of rain.

5. First aid kit. Keep at least a basic first aid kit in the car along with first aid manual depending on your level of knowledge.

6. Road flares and flashlight with extra batteries. In case of a break down, it's a good idea to have these on hand.

7. Extra windshield washer fluid, oil and anti-freeze in case they are needed.

8. A tire gauge, tire jack and a spare tire in case of a flat.

You don't have to go out and buy all this at once. Each week pick one item and in a few months, you'll have a fully stocked car emergency kit.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wind Advisory for Vermont & free email alerts of emergencies

The National Weather Service In Burlington Has Issued A Wind Advisory For Wind Gusts To 50 Mph…For Northern New York…The Champlain Valley…And Western Slopes In The Green Mountains…Which Is In Effect From 4 AM To 7 PM EST Friday.

To have this type of information sent directly to your email, you can sign up for free here:


Get out of debt

Getting out of debt is more important now than ever. Our money buys less and less each day. We need to eliminate our debt and not accumulate any new debt. This frees up our money so that we can use it in more useful ways (like prepping).

Start with your credit card or loan with the highest interest rate and put any extra money you have each month into paying that off. Do not charge anything new or take out any new loans. Continue through until each credit card, mortgage, student loan, etc is paid off.

So where do you get the extra money to pay these off?

1. Get free movies or books from the library instead of paying for them.
2. Cut out that morning latte or fast food lunch.
3. Carpool instead of driving solo.
4. Reduce your grocery bill by eliminating pre-made convenience foods.
5. Cancel your newspaper subscription & read it free online.
6. Buy clothes second hand at thrift stores instead of brand new.
7. Sell your excess on eBay.
8. Have a tag sale.
9. Reduce your long distance. Write a letter instead.
10. Eat at home instead of out at a restaurant.
11. Take your lunch to work instead of buying it.
12. Switch to cloth diapers instead of disposables.
13. Turn the thermostat down to 65 degrees.
14. Start using coupons or switch to generics at the grocery store.
15. Eliminate premium channels on your cable or satellite bill.

Once you're getting the most for your money, you can start funelling your extra into stocking up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can you do it yourself?

As the economy becomes more unstable, the power of our dollar will continue to decrease. What does that mean? It means the dollars in your pocket will buy less tomorrow than they did today. This will probably mean that some of the things we've been paying others to do or make for us will have to be done without or we'll have to learn to do them ourselves.

Think about some things you are paying others to do for you right now. Can you do them yourself if the need arises? Here are a few things you can learn to do yourself right now.

1. Cut your family's hair - Invest in a pair of clippers and it's really not hard at all to cut a simple hair style.

2. Bake your own bread - You don't need a bread machine to do this. There are a number of sites with simple bread recipes but I like the simple artisan bread recipe found in Mother Earth News. They have it available on their site.

3. Simple car repair - Can you change a tire, change the oil, put new wiper blades on, add water, anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid? I admit this is one area I'm sadly lacking.

4. Care for your own lawn and garden - Are you paying someone to come in and care for this for you? Invest in a simple gardening book for the type of garden you have and learn to take care of it yourself.

5. Clothing repair - Do you toss out a sock as soon as it has a hole? Even those of us who are not gifted in sewing can do simple clothing repairs as well as make simple cloth napkins or similar items.

6. Basic home repair / remodelling - Can you paint? Change a fuse? Change the filter in your furnace? Fix a leaky faucet? Re-caulk the bathtub? You'd be surprised what you can learn when you need to.

The first thing I do when I want to try something new is look for information. Right now, the internet is my main source of information but your library may have books as well. Keep your eyes open for second hand books on topics you think you may need to learn about and collect them as you find them.

Start learning new skills now because you never know when you may need them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cooking options

What options do you have for cooking should your normal kitchen stove not work? If you loose electric power, how will you cook? Will your gas stove/oven still work without electricity?

1. Electric oven/stove - Without electricity, provided you have no generator, your electric oven/stove will not work.

2. Gas oven/stove - If you loose electricity, the stove (top) part of your range will still work if you turn it on & light it with a match. If your gas oven uses a glow bar to heat with (most do), it will not work if the electricity goes out. Peerless Premier makes gas ranges that do not use glow bars for heat and will therefore work without electricy if you light the pilot light.

3. Woodstove - This is a great option for winter use. You can cook many meals on top of the woodstove. If you have an old fashioned wood cookstove, you can also bake in it. This requires practice so it's best to learn how to do it before the power goes out. Make sure you have an adequate supply of wood, kindling and matches. A good set of cast iron pans works well too.

4. Solar oven - A solar oven works well on sunny days. I highly recommend the Global Sun Oven. I have successfully made spaghetti, pork roast, pork chops, beef stew and a variety of other meals. You do need to pay attention to the orientation of the sun as it moves so that your sun oven is getting the full amount of sun possible.

5. Outside grill - propane, charcoal and wood - There are a variety of grill options available. There are some that are fancy enough to make bread, desserts, boil water, etc. If you are using propane or charcoal, make sure you have an adequate supply on hand. Wood is easy enough for most people to find. We've built a fire in a fire pit by collecting wood from the back yard.

There are a variety of other options you can make including a tin can stove but I haven't explored those. If you have experience with any of them, please feel free to share. And like anything else, learn how to use your options before you need them.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let there be light!

OK so it happened. The electricity is out and there you sit at 6:00PM in February in the dark. Or do you? Have you planned ahead? Do you have a light source? What are your options?

Here are a few things to think about.

1. Candles - Candles will provide enough light for you to get from room to room without tripping over the kid's toys. They are easy to find and I store a bunch of votive candles in a box in the kitchen. You can buy pillars, jars, votives, tealights or standard emergency candles. You can get them scented or unscented. I have a candle in just about every room because I like them.

2. Flashlights - Again, a flashlight will get you from room to room safely but it's hard to actually accomplish much when holding a flashlight. You can get your standard battery powered flashlight or a wind up flashlight. If you choose a battery powered flashlight, make sure you have plenty of extra batteries. If you use rechargeable batteries, make sure your battery charger has a solar option in case you need to use it long term. We have a wind up flashlight by Innovage that works really well.

3. Oil lamps - These are new to me. I just started collecting them a few months ago from Freecycle. There's a huge variety of types and styles. There are very basic clear glass lamps and fancy antique lamps and everything in between. Whichever type you'll use, make sure you have lamp oil and extra wick. Make sure you have at least one of them that's ready to use so that when the power goes out, you are not trying to find the oil & wick & figure out how to put it together. Right now I have a total of four oil lamps. I'd like to get a few that will mount on the wall in the livingroom at some point as well.

4. Emergency lighting - I love these. It's a prefilled portable ready to use indoor emergency candle that will burn for 100 hours. I paid about $10 for two of them. The flame is totally enclosed in the unit so it's safer if you have kids or pets. The one I have is by Lamplight Farms.

5. Wind up lanterns - I have two wind up lanterns that I got from LL Bean. They put out enough light to read by if you put the book next to the lantern. We have a small hook over the bed so that we can read in bed if we loose power. They each have a handle on top so they are portable if you need to move from room to room. They are easy to find as I have seen them in our local Walmart. Just look in the camping section.

6. Solar lights - along the same lines as a candle is a rechargeable sun jar. This is on my list of things to buy. It's solar rechargeable so after the initial investment, it's free. There's no flame so it's safer around kids and animals. You don't have to worry about having batteries, oil, wick, etc. or trying to find a source for them in case supplies are limited.

Click here for information

I understand that you can also make your own oil lamp although I haven't tried it yet. You can go here for directions:


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Herbal Wisdom

I'm one of those people who would rather try a natural cure than pop a pill but I understand that there are some times you need to take medication. Make sure that you have extras of your prescriptions when it's possible and start researching some all natural herbal remedies now. Here are a few of my favorites and ones that can be grown here in Vermont.

**Standard disclaimer - I am not a doctor or a nurse or a professional herbalist. Do not try these at home without consulting appropriate medical professionals.**

These herbs can be grown, dried & made into a tea.

Bergamot - monarda fistulosa - Good for nerves and soothes stomachs

Red clover - trifolium pratense - There is some research that indicates this has a beneficial influence on cancer. Also soothes nerves.

Fennel - foeniculum officinale - Helps indigestion, obesity and was held to help rheumatic and arthritic conditions.

Hollyhock - althea rosea - Helps a weak heart, digestion and is soothing.

Horehound - marrubium vulgare or marrubium nigrum - Excellent for coughs, colds and sore throats.

Lavender - lavandula vera or lavendula spica - Use in cases of nervousness and hysteria

Marigold - calendula officinalis - Makes a great skin tonic.

Peppermint - menthe peperita - Great for stomach ailments.

Mullein - verbascum thapsus - Great for chest congestion, said to have antibacterial properties, helps hay vever. Warning this stuff tastes HORRID but it works. (pictured)

Pansy - viola tricolor - Used for heart palpitations.

Parsley - petroselinum sativum - Is a diuretic and recommended for swollen glands.

Raspberry leaf - rubus idaeus - Known for easing labor and women's complaints.

Rosemary - rosmarinus officinalis - Helpful for headaches.

Sage - salvia officinalis or salvia agrestis - Used for constipation.

Thyme - thymus vulgaris or thyms serpyllum - Helpful for coughs and asthma

There are lots more herbal cures out there but these are the ones I am most familiar with that can be grown here in Vermont. Also WTSHTF, your average Joe may very well raid your first aid kit or medicine cabinet but chances are he isn't going to know mullein from poison ivy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gardening in Vermont

Gardening in Vermont can be challenging at times given our short growing season. Our last frost date is generally May 25 and our first frost date is generally around September 20. That leaves a very short four months to get most of your food produced.

Some veggies like cooler weather so starting them a bit before the last frost date is not generally a problem. I've had good luck with lettuce and other salad greens, peas, spinach, and root crops like beets and turnips.

Other veggies that like warm weather like tomatoes, peppers and corn won't do well in colder temps. Make sure you wait to plant them until after the last frost date.

Some people choose to buy plants instead of seeds when planting their gardens. Personally, I like to start my own plants from seeds to save money. It's not that hard and it gives you more freedom to pick and choose what varieties you want to plant.

I bought a few flourescent tube lights from Walmart last year. I added a few cup hooks to the top of my entertainment center and strung some light weight chains from the cook to the light so that I could adjust the height of the light above the seed flats.

I got a bunch of seed flats from a friend a few years ago and I re-use them each year to save money. I prefer this type:

Seed Flat

I've seen these at KMart and Home Depot fairly cheaply but you can always try asking on Freecycle.

Just add a bit of potting soil to each cell and follow the directions for planting on your seed packet. Water. Place underneath the grow light. Keep the light at about 3 inches above the soil or the plant once it starts growing. Keep it watered. Keep adjusting the light and plant outside after danger of frost.

I generally grow a wide variety of peppers and tomatoes as well as brussel sprouts, eggplant and flowers from seeds under grow lights. I start my seeds inside anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Just look at the dates on the back of the seed package and it will tell you when to start them inside. The rest of my garden will be planted directly outside in a few months. I'll move the plants outside slowly into the greenhouse once the weather warms up a bit and then plant outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed.

So.. what are you planting this year?

Monday, February 9, 2009

The water supply

One of the most important things to ensure in an emergency situation is water supply. Here in Vermont, most of us are on wells for our water supply. As long as the source doesn’t get contaminated and we have power to run the water pump, we’re all set for water provided the well doesn’t go dry.

Let’s just say we want to be double safe and have an alternate. What options do we have? This is something my husband and I have been talking about a lot lately. We don’t have a source of water on our property like a lake, river or stream. If you do and it’s within walking, cycling distance you’ll be all set. Although hauling water isn’t fun, it’s doable if you have to.

Do you have gutters on your home? If you do, it’s easy enough to divert the run off into a barrel. You can put a screen over the top of the barrel to keep out leaves. At the very least, you can use this water to irrigate the garden or to water the animals. You can also get a cistern and have the water diverted there and connected to your pump for indoor use. The water should be treated if you plan on using it for drinking, washing, etc. I’m sure you can find specifics by searching rainwater harvesting. This is a good place to start:



Maybe you want to start a little easier? You don’t have to resort to buying gallons of overpriced water at the grocery store. You can store your own water that you get straight from the tap.

This is a great site from the VT Emergency Management office that tells all about how to safely store and gather water from a variety of sources.


Make sure you print out the Red Cross brochure so you have it in case of an emergency.

I’d also recommend having a water purifier of some sort. There are several types that I’ve come across. The first is simply a tablet that you drop in your existing water to purify it. Water purification tablets should be available at most camping supply stores. The second is a water purifier with a filter. You generally pour the water into the filter/unit & the filter removes bacteria and or chemicals. These come in a variety of sizes from tiny personal sizes to larger sizes that will work for your whole home. The third option is a small, handheld device that uses ultraviolet light to purify water:

I like this option because after the initial investment, there is nothing I need to purchase like a filter or more tablets. It comes with a solar charger and rechargeable batteries for future use. This is the one we chose for our family while we work on adding gutters.


Whichever option you go with, make sure that you have backup batteries, filters, screens, barrels, etc in case you need them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't forget to mail your teabags today!

Copied from another site:

I have a stack of envelopes with tea bags ready to go out in today's mail. They are being mailed to the president, our governor, senators and representatives. I copied a couple of news articles and enclosed them in some. They all are getting the following letter. I wanted to write more but I figured their attention span isn't too long as they never seem to listen to us!

February 1, 2009

Enclosed is a tea bag in protest of our out of control government spending. If our representatives allow this to go on, my great grandchildren are going to be paying for the government I helped elect pay for the mistakes. Is progress the nationalization of the banking system, the education system or the manufacturing sector? I and many other Americans see this as either goals or partial goals of the current administration. Why can’t all of our representatives see this stimulus bill as all pork with very few beneficiaries for the American people? What is wrong with cutting government and tightening your belts to see the United States through this crisis. We the people did not create this mess. The government did. Our fault lies where we the people did not stand together and tell you as one voice NO MORE!

We the people require our government to act in the long term interest of our country and to fulfill your oath to uphold the Constitution. Many of you in our government do not want to UPHOLD the Constitution, you want to REVISE it to fit your own personal agenda.

I ask you to do the right thing and keep we the people in mind as you stand for us in government.

Send yours out in the mail today!

Cast iron cooking

Cast iron pots and pans are very versatile and I highly recommend having a variety of shapes and sizes in your kitchen cupboard. Cast iron can be used over an open fire, on your woodstove or on your regular kitchen gas or electric stove or oven. You can hang a Dutch oven on a tripod over an open fire or place a frying pan on a grate over your campfire. You can use it over a fire in a fireplace as well. It can be used just about anywhere you need to cook so it’s a great item to have in your prepared kitchen.

If you are planning on using these a lot, I highly recommend Griswold. I don’t believe these are sold retail any longer so you’ll really need to search flea markets, tag sales, thrift stores or antique shops to find these. They are very high quality and have a nice smooth interior finish.

If you can’t find Griswold, you’re probably going to end up buying Lodge. You can find these readily at Walmart or directly from their site: http://www.lodgemfg.com/. These are the two brands that I am most familiar with.

This is what I feel you should have as a minimum.

10” Skillet – This is your basic frying pan. Some are deeper than others. I like to have mine with high sides so that I can make spaghetti sauce, chili or beef stew with it. Some come with covers and some do not. If it comes with a cover, you can flip it over and use it as an extra frying pan.

12” Skillet – Depending on your family size, you may choose a 12” skillet over a 10” skillet. I have one of each depending on what I want to cook. My 12” skillet is deep and the cover can be used for an extra frying pan just like my 10” skillet.

Dutch Oven – There are a variety of Dutch ovens depending on how you want to cook with them. Dutch ovens can generally be found as small as 2 quart and as large as 8 quart. Dutch ovens can be used for soups, stews, small roasts, etc. If you are using it on a woodstove or kitchen stove, a standard Dutch oven with a cover will work fine for you. If you plan on using it over an open fire, you may want a camp Dutch oven with a handle on top to suspend it over the fire on a tripod. If you’re planning on using it in front of a fireplace or on the ground next to an open fire, consider a three-legged Dutch oven.

Griddle – This is a large, flat, rectangular pan that can be used for pancakes, hamburgers or anything else you want to fry in larger quantities.

Oval Roaster – If you want to bake a chicken or a larger roast, consider investing in an oval roaster pan with a lid. These are generally 12 quart and at times the lid doubles as a griddle.

Trivets – If you are cooking on your woodstove, I highly recommend a set of trivets. Once your meal is cooked, you cannot turn off the woodstove and let the pan just sit there to keep warm. It will continue to cook & probably burn. The solution is to set the pan on top of a small decorative cast iron plate with legs called a trivet. They have many different sizes to accommodate the size of the pan you’re using. My favorite brand is Wilton but really any will do. Some are more decorative than others. You can see my favorite Wilton Heart & Pinwheel trivet in the picture above.

Cornbread pan – These mold pans are used to bake sticks of cornbread. They’re optional depending on whether or not you like cornbread. They can be very decorative. Many are in the shape of an ear of corn.

Before you can cook in cast iron, it has to be seasoned or prepared. Some cast iron is sold already seasoned so check the box if you’re buying it new. If you buy it second hand, chances are it’s already been seasoned but you can certainly do it again.

1. Scrub the cast iron skillet with a stainless steel scrub brush. If it’s new, use hot, soapy water to clean it. If it second hand, you can skip the soap and just use hot water.
2. Use a paper towel to cover the pan with oil inside and out.
3. Heat uncovered for two hours at 250F degrees.
4. Let cool & it’s ready to use.

Cast iron should not be washed with soap. Just use simple hot water and scrub gently with a plastic scrub pad. You don’t want to scrub off the seasoned coating.

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to add some cast iron to your prepared kitchen and get cooking!
VermontPreppersNetwork.com Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Vermont Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.