Garden: Hail and Starvation

About two weeks ago we had a really bad hail storm hit us. Two miles away…nothing. Here…really bad.

So to make it simple to understand…we lost our entire garden…everything! The hail was the size of marbles and came down with such a velocity that it punched holes in the leaves of plants such as our beans and cucumbers. It pulverized our squash and peppers. The newly germinated fall squash plants…beat into green mush. Only the strawberries survived intact…relatively little damage.

So what does that tell me…what is the Lesson Learned for this experience?

Had we been depending on our garden for all of our food…we would be starving now! Yes, starving…as in dying without anything to eat.

Yeah, that was pretty startling. Our philosophy has always been to have enough food storage on hand to get our garden up to speed to feed us. So maybe the first year the garden would still be too small and our experience too young for it to be a sole source of food…but it would supplement our food storage to a great degree. Then maybe by the second or third season we would be pretty much self-sustaining out of our garden. Oooooppppppssssss!

What if that third year was the next year that a devastating hail storm hit and wiped out the garden? What if that was the year that our food storage was down to a few #10 cans left on the self?

Not a pleasant thought!

So we are doing a couple of things:

  1. We are going to use a “sunshade” material that handled the hail without issue. It will be ready to deploy on the garden at the first indication of, or prediction of, hail.
  2. We are going to look at a rationing plan for our food storage to try and stretch it out as long as possible. The goal will be to cover more growing seasons.
  3. If/when the SHTF we will use more garden produce in our diet to increase the length of our food storage usage.
  4. We will add another heirloom seed bank to our preparedness.

Note: Hail did some damage to the fruit trees as well, it tore off leaves. If there had been fruit on the trees I am sure it would have destroyed most, if not all, of it. Fortunately the trees are fist or second year and no fruit was set and no major damage to the trees themselves.

Mother nature is a powerful force…you can’t stop it…but you can prepare for it.

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(__XXX__) Fatigue

Fatigue is a major concern for folks when in the middle of an emergency, disaster, or during a grid-down event. And the longer duration of the incident, the more fatigue and the worse the impact on a person from that fatigue.

But there are different kinds of fatigue. There is; 1) Food Fatigue, 2) Cognitive Fatigue, 3) Decision Fatigue. In this article I will just touch briefly on each…no need for lots of details, you can easily figure it out.

Food Fatigue –

This is a simple one, and you may have already suffered from it. Let’s say the grid went down…and Food Fatigue during emergencies and disasters food storageyou are in day 204. For breakfast you are again eating oatmeal. The eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, etc. are long gone…so oatmeal it is! Oh wait, the sugar is gone, the honey is gone, the raisins are gone, the fruit is gone… so it is just plain oatmeal…for the 90th straight morning.

Do you think that might get a little boring?

So for lunch you have soup…containing; dried carrots, wheat berries, and pinto beans…for the 92nd straight lunch.

Then for dinner you have stew…containing; dried carrots, dried onions, wheat berries, and black beans…for the 103rd straight dinner.

Yeah, all the salt, pepper, garlic, and other seasonings ran out 3 months ago. No chocolate, no Pepsi, no sugar, no honey, no candy, no cookies…not much of anything that makes meals and snacks great.

So do you think food and eating gets a little boring? Yeah, I think I do.

Long-term Food Storage to prevent food fatigue, freeze dried foodNow…another couple months later…how you doing? Yeah, that is food fatigue…eating the same boring food day after day. Sure, you are grateful for the food, at least it is something in your belly. But it is drudgery…boredom…and fatigue.

Food Fatigue is easily avoided…store and grow foods/herbs that keep meals interesting, tasty and enjoyable. Keep the ingredients around, or grow/acquire them, to make cookies once in a while. Hideaway some candy for long winter nights. Keep some Spam hidden for that morning you actually have real eggs to cook.

Cognitive Fatigue –

This is a condition that you can probably readily identify with…and more than likely you have already experienced it. Officially it is essentially the process of acquiring knowledge, thinking about it, processing it, coming to conclusions about the knowledge acquired. You could look at it as Situational Awareness overload. Many folks suffer from it at work due to an overload of information and/or tasking…or a very long day working with dummy folks in a stressful situation.

Cognitive fatigue can result in a person shutting down mentally and/or physically. Yup, it can get that bad. It comes from the brain being overloaded with information and its circuit breaker just flips off and a person goes into self-preservation mode mentally.

A good way to help fight cognitive fatigue, and fatigue in general, is to stay hydrated and eat right such as:

  • Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols
  • Berries with vitamin C and anthocyanins (blueberries are great)
  • Foods that are high in antioxidants
  • Foods with lots of vitamin B12 (eggs are great)

And you try and get decent rest if at all possible. Allow for some “down time” where sensory input is nonexistent or at least kept to a minimum.

Decision Fatigue –

This is the worst fatigue of all! And so designated for several reasons; 1) it disproportionately affects leaders, 2) it can lead to poor, even fatal, decision making, 3) can ultimately affect a whole group or family.

Decision fatigue is basically a condition where a person has to make too many decisions consistently over too long period of time. It can be a little hard to explain but it is easy to see when it is in front of you.

Say you are dealing with a protracted incident…example…two-weeks. And the leader of the group is constantly making decisions all day…every day…decisions, one after another. It is multiplied by a factor when the situation is, or could be, life-threatening. They have very short nights of sleep because people are constantly coming to them asking for decisions to be made and advice given. Pop! Their head explodes.

The results can be everything from poor decisions to angry outbursts to violence against people. Of course they could also simply shutdown entirely; virtually becoming uncommunicative. And how would any of that work out for the harmony of the group?

One of the reasons why wildland fire personnel are limited to 2-week deployments on fires is this very problem…especially among leadership. A special process is required to extend a deployment to 3-weeks…and it ain’t all that easy to get approved. Why? Because a wildland fire leader (i.e. Division Supervisor, Ops Chief, Type 3 Incident Commander, etc.) has a whole lot of responsibility, works 16 – 18 hours days, and gets asked a ton of questions all day long…not to mention the potential for loss of life and property.

Now imagine food/water shortage, no power, looting, bad weather, no stores open, potential for violence against your family, etc. See the potential for problems when it comes to making hundreds of decisions, great and small, all day long?

Ask anyone who has to, or has been, in a high state of readiness or has to maintain high Situational Awareness for days or weeks straight. It can wear you out. Ever hear the term “1000-yard stare”?

To avoid it you can:

  • Delegate responsibility to qualified people and empower them to make decisions in their area of responsibility.
  • Set aside time where you can be alone, quiet, and contemplative about other things than the situation.
  • Maintain a “larger picture” or maintain an attitude of “the future” and how much better it is going to be.
  • Get as much adequate sleep as possible.
  • Stay hydrated and intake something along the lines of Gatorade (but not more than 1 Gatorade to 2 waters).
  • Eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols.
  • Eat berries with vitamin C and anthocyanins (blueberries are great).
  • Eat foods that are high in antioxidants.
  • Eat foods with lots of vitamin B12 (eggs are great).
Summary –

Cognitive and decision fatigue can kill you…and/or those around you. You have to be able to recognize it, obviously. And from the very start you have to be able to combat it.

Generally speaking:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat as well as possible.
  • Get quality rest if at all possible.
  • Have some down time to yourself. It doesn’t have to be long, just something.
  • Spread the load around to those who are qualified…or can learn quickly.
  • Have a good plan in-place before the incident.
  • Ask others to monitor you for signs of fatigue…and listen to them.

Please don’t ignore food fatigue to keep people happy.

Please don’t ignore cognitive fatigue and decision fatigue to keep people alive.

 

 

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Top 3 Apocalypse Vegetables

This article came from a question asked of me: What would the top 3 vegetables be in your garden during the apocalypse?

Valid question…although the first time I have been asked that. And it is not an easy question to answer if you are looking for advice from me.

Why’s that? Because you might live in Alaska or Florida or the deserts of New Mexico…and, on top of that, I am no gardening expert.

I’ve lived in and learned to garden in the mid-west, the south-east, and the desert south-west; I am learning to garden in a really nice area of Arizona. Each area was/is different in terms of soil, weather, rain, humidity, sun intensity, etc. Each of those factors control how you garden. So I will answer it differently than you might have expected. I will give you my top vegetables, in priority order, but leave it up to you to decide which is best in your area based on your growing conditions and your health needs.

  1. Beans – great source for protein, amino acids, folate, antioxidant, and fiber.
  2. Potatoes – calories/fat/protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Niacin, Folate, and fiber. Probably a genetic thing as well for me.
  3. Squash – vitamins A/C/B, potassium, magnesium, manganese, antioxidant, and fiber. Banana squash has been used to control blood glucose in diabetic patients and greatly assists hypoglycemics. Yellow squash is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds.
  4. Beats – Manganese, Copper, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Sodium, Vitamins C/B, folate, and fiber. May reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. May improve athletic ability. Really awesome when pickled.
  5. Cabbage – vitamins K/C/B6, folate, protein, calcium, potassium, antioxidant, and fiber. Helps regulate blood sugar and metabolized cholesterol. Anti-inflammatory that may reduce chronic inflammation.
  6. Tomatoes – calcium and vitamin A/B/C/E/K, and fiber. Beta-carotene, coumaric acid, and chlorogenic acid, and antioxidants. May be a protective food for people with type 2 diabetes.
  7. Peas – contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Vitimins A/B/C/E, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, catechin, epicatechin, coumestrol, and fiber. Rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. May help as an anti-inflammatory, fight diabetes, control blood sugar, as well as preventing anemia. May assist the body’s immune system, and helps prevent scurvy.
  8. Peppers – vitamin A/B/C/E/K, potassium, folate, antioxidants, fiber, carbs
  9. Garlic – vitamins B/C, manganese, selenium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and fiber. Commonly associated with protection against or helps cure colds, infections, and flu; as well as reducing blood pressure, and reducing total and LDL cholesterol. May improve athletic ability. At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity. Garlic is an antibiotic herb and is marketed as a natural antibiotic supplement. And I have heard the term “poor man’s antibiotic” more than once when talking about the benefits of garlic.
  10. Carrots – contains beta carotene, fiber, vitamins B/K, potassium, sugar, carbs, and antioxidants. Also, Beta carotene, Alpha-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Polyacetylenes, and Anthocyanins.

Note: Antioxidants help fight the negative effects of stress.

For me…I would try to grow each of the “10” as much as possible. Each one of these garden beauties plays a part in overall health. And this is especially true while dealing with the stress during the apocalypse, TEOTWAWKI, SHFT, or grid-down.

Don’t neglect the idea/concept of having a fall or winter garden…and you can start your plants indoors to get a jump-start on your summer garden. Especially important if you have a short growing season.

Don’t forget to plant heirloom seeds whenever possible…and then seed save! Planting seeds from hybrid plants may result in some very strange plants with or without producing anything edible.

Yes, I know some of these are actually “fruit”…deal with it…I am talking about finding it in a garden which makes it a vegetable to me 😉

 

 

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Heads Up!

I guess today is food, garden, & farmer day (another article coming later today).

I became aware of this horrible situation a couple of months ago and I have been following it waiting to see how it developed and wanting to verify some facts and sources.

Here are some key points to this situation:

  1. This is a a deeply religious family and they are farming according to their religious beliefs.
  2. This is a gasoline & diesel-free, fertilizer-free organic farmer.
  3. This is a family farm and family farmer.
  4. The farmer started a members-only food club for his customers, the food is not for sale to the public. The farm’s customers made the choice, with full understanding, that the food was organic and in pure holistic form.

Amos Miller and his family have been farming this way for generations. His farm has been selling direct to customers (cutting out all the commercial middle men) for years. When the US Department of Agriculture found out about it they began an investigation about 2 years ago. Then last year a judge stepped in and assigned a government “expert” to monitor his farm and ensure he was no longer feeding people and providing for his family.

When the federal government expert felt he didn’t have unimpeded and unrestricted access to the farm day or night he complained and asked the judge for armed assistance from US federal law enforcement. The federal bureaucrat wanted his unfettered access and wanted to enforce that at the point of a gun.

A judge then ordered the US Marshall Service (USMS) to provide heavily armed tactical teams, “..then ordered that the USMS was authorized to use whatever reasonable force was necessary to gain entry…”

This is an Amish family farm for God’s sake!!!

Amish are pacifists and they don’t serve in the military and this is well-known and well-documented.

The judge also laid $250,000 of fines against the family farmer and ordered the farmer to pay the salaries of the federal inspectors, employees, and agents assigned to his case. And to top it off…the judge said the farmer had to pay a $50,000 fee up-front as a show of good faith. A family farmer!!  But, to make sure this holistic farmer complied with government demands…they also threatened him with lengthy jail time. Prison for a family farmer!!

JAIL TIME for farming…organically farming and providing wholesome food to private customers who want his style of food products. Think about that for a second. Does that even remotely sound anything like justice.

As the farmer continued to object to and resist the tyranny being forced upon him, the federal government figured it was time to take him out. This summer heavily armed tactical teams from the US Marshalls service raided his farm.

Fortunately for the farmer he is a pacifist and wasn’t outright killed by the US Marshalls for “resisting”.

Now the farmer has been ordered to cease all farming operations. Which simply put, means he can no longer practice all of his religious beliefs, can no longer provide for his family, and can no longer provide organic and wholesome food for families that rely on his farm. And here is the key…he has no income to pay the US federal fines. Which means…he will lose his farm. Isn’t that interesting…think about that point for a minute.

So here are some additional points to ponder:

  1. The US government is attacking a farmer for operating outside of the control of huge multi-national agriculture chemical manufacturers.
  2. The US government is attacking a farmer for operating outside of the control of huge multi-national agriculture seed providers.
  3. The US government is attacking a farmer for operating outside of the control of huge multi-national oil & gas companies.
  4. The US government is attacking a farmer for operating outside of the control of huge national food supply chains.
  5. The US government is attacking a farmer for operating outside of the control of US Department of Agriculture facilities.
  6. The US government is willing to send heavily armed federal law enforcement tactical teams in a military-style operation to enforce its will on a pacifist, highly-religious farmer and his family…for farming.
  7. The US Marshalls that took place in the raid, highly armed and organized in military style tactical teams, had absolutely no problem rushing onto his farm, rounding up his family, holding them at gun point, and putting the farmer out of business.

All the farm related issues are bad enough…and I mean really bad. Your US Government Department of Agriculture at work. But here is the part that is most concerning to me…and should be of utmost concern to all freedom loving citizens.

Why did the US Marshalls participate in this at all? Why did these individuals, these Constitution oath-taking federal law enforcement officers, conduct a military-style raid against a religious family’s farm…for farming?

Is the answer something as simple as…these federal law enforcement officer love playing as badge toting tacti-cool thugs? Or maybe as fundamental as…they love their paycheck more than the US Constitution and Bill of Rights? Hell, maybe the thugs just hate vegetables!

My point…these federal law enforcement agents did it and love it!

I have personally talked to federal agents. I have heard at least one say that no person, other than law enforcement, should own any kind of gun, ever. Others are so trigger happy and gun-ho that they chomp at the bit to go full-tactical against any citizen that resists the government at all. During the Bundy/BLM issue I talked with a federal agent who told me there were lots of federal agents that wanted to be involved…and to open fire on those civilians involved in the peaceful resistance, especially the Bundy’s…to teach them a lesson.

I have been warning you for over a decade of the unbelievable danger from US federal law enforcement agents and agencies. They do not understand, nor support, basic Constitutional and founding principles of rights, freedoms, and liberties. Their interests and intents are not the same as our Founding Fathers…they want only one thing…for you and I to comply. They are the tip of the spear for implementing total compliance with an all powerful federal government.

And that my friend is dangerous…maybe far more dangerous than most people can even imagine.

This isn’t going to end well. And in the meantime…it will be an increasing demonic hell.



* I added this in at the last minute to answer a question…

I have been asked more than once, “Isn’t this just some agents, most are good guys aren’t they?”

Well, I know the answer, but let’s test this concept to be fair:

  1. Did you hear of any US Marshall who refused to go on this family farm raid or speak out against it?
  2. Did you ever hear of any ATF or FBI agent refuse to participate in the murders of Weaver’s wife and child at Ruby Ridge or speak out against it?
  3. Did you ever hear of any ATF or FBI agent refuse to participate in the Waco Massacre or speak out against it?
  4. Did you ever hear of any FBI agent refuse to participate in the murder of Lavoy Finicum or speak out against it?
  5. Did you ever hear of any Secret Service or FBI agent refuse to participate in the Trump home raid or speak out against it?
  6. Did you ever hear of any federal law enforcement agent who refused to participate in or speak out against the coup against President Trump that started before he was even inaugurated or speak out against it?
  7. Have you ever heard of any federal law enforcement agent/officer refuse to participate in or speak out against any federal law enforcement action ever?

Think very, very seriously about that.

Let me share this with you…post 9/11 the federal law enforcement agencies began programs of unrestrained, unrestricted, extra-Constitutional actions in the USA. This has been well documented as factual through investigative journalism, reports to Congress, and actual court documents. As part of these actions they also began a “purge” of any federal law enforcement agent/officer or employee that was deemed a conservative or who outwardly espoused support for rights, freedoms, and liberties. I have had that confirmed to me personally.

So why?

Before you answer that, go back and answer the original question, “Isn’t this just some agents, most are good guys aren’t they?”

Describe “good” to me in this context of federal agents and their actions? For me:

  1. It is only those those agents/officers who 100% support the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rights, liberties, and freedoms contained therein.
  2. It is only agents/officers who respect the true rule of law…not the phony Department of Justice crap.
  3. It is NOT an agent who attends church.
  4. It is NOT an agent who appears to be a family man with a nice spouse and great children.
  5. It is NOT an agent who is a parent, child, sibling, or friend to someone.
  6. It is NOT an agent who is a veteran.

What matters is only that which the agent/officer does in relation to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (meaning rights, liberties, and freedoms). Basically it’s their morals, ethics, and principles related to the job. And only how those morals, ethics, and principles relate to their actions on the job through the action of those agents/officers.

And right now…morals, ethics, and principles appear to be an oxymoron when referring to federal law enforcement agencies and their people.

Let’s go back to the question in relation to the purge, “So why?

The answer should be clear to you at this point. If not…what other evidence and facts do you need? It has been right in front of your face for over 30 years!

So you can decide for yourself who these agencies are…and who the agents and officers are. And that should tell you everything.

Just for the heck of it:

  • Why does the Department of Treasury IRS have SWAT teams?
  • Why does the Department of Agriculture have SWAT teams?
  • Why does the Department of Interior have SWAT teams?
  • Why the hell does the Department of Education have SWAT teams?
  • Why would those SWAT team members want to be on those SWAT teams?
  • Why is the IRS now recruiting armed IRS agents who are willing to use deadly force?
  • What kind of person would want to be an armed IRS agent ready/willing/able to kill?

I just can’t resist this…

Why are the combined federal law enforcement agencies, total number of armed federal law enforcement agents/officers, equal the 7th largest army in the world!?!?!?!?!!?!?

Have you got it yet? Does your family get it yet? Do your friends get it yet? Do the people at your church get it? Do the other people on your social media sites get it?

Everyone in Washington DC gets it…they are behind it!

It’s coming folks…it’s coming.

The only action right now that I think will save our country and our Constitution is prayer.

 

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Garden: Let’s Talk a Minute…

Since we started our “glamstead” I’ve been talking about gardens. Oh, what’s a glamstead? It’s kinda like a farmstead thing, kinda like a homestead thing…but with lots of modern conveniences such as relatively close to town, water, power, nice house, air conditioning, etc. It’s what we are doing…our situation is not dependent on raising our own food, meat, or being organic, etc. We do have our own solar powered well, solar system for power, sewage system, a nice comfortable house, air conditioning, etc. That is the “glam” part…and we have a few acres, a garden, tractor, UTV & ATV, riding lawn mower, etc. Glamsteading.

If you followed my previous articles on gardening you know we struggled with the whole garden thing. The first year ants, birds, and mice ruled us. They simply thought we were providing a great lunch & diner buffet for them. Last year was better but once again the ants, birds, and mice got the lion’s share. But, we did eat out of our garden last year and we loved it. It would have been better had the birds not pulled up the cantaloupe, zucchini, squash, etc. Well, we thought it was the birds…little did we know.

This year we were not going to have a garden, simply too many other things going on and I wanted more time to get back to writing/posting my book. Wife person was fine with it…done…no garden.

Then the whole food thing fell apart in the country, the prices went through the roof, inflation rampant, etc. We talked…a smaller but productive garden became the order of the day. But, we didn’t want to plow, till, amend, etc. No problem. I was doing a major “put away” on my shop and our small barn/garage. I had 7, foot locker sized plastic storage bins left over…perfect for us to try our hand at container gardening. And so it began.

We planted our standard fare; tomatoes, cantaloupe, peppers, squash, green beans, and I started the strawberry patch. Yeah, I killed off the first strawberry plants with compost that was too hot. And then came the destruction of cantaloupes, squash and peppers. We were discouraged. But, we were looking at this as a very needed learning experience…more on that later.

Well, we had cleared out the local mice and pack rat population really well over the last year…none of those little buggers anywhere inside our acre of chain link fence. So it must obviously be the birds. Yes, we ruled out the herd of jack rabbits that live in the area…they stay outside of the chain link fence thanks to the dogs and my Ruger 10/22. We bought bird netting and up it went…and the plants kept getting dug up, knocked over, and torn out of the soil. Dang those birds!

And then I saw the culprit…our youngest dog! I use an organic fertilizer when I first put the plants into the ground. It gives the plants a boost without burning them out like chemical fertilizer might. But, our youngest dog thinks the organic fertilizer pellets are great food for snacks between meals. She would nuzzle up against the plant, chew out, or lick up the pellets, and leave the plants virtually destroyed.

Varmint fence went up, problem solved. And that single lesson was worth this year’s effort, work, and money in our garden world. Why? Because we had no idea it was our dog. If we had planted a large garden out of necessity, she would/could have virtually wiped us out before we knew what was happening. So it was a much more cost-effective problem solving experience than it otherwise could have been.

In my two previous year’s articles I encouraged you, kinda begged you, to plant a garden. Any size garden…just plant a garden. I guess it was in the hopes you might work out any garden-related issues you would face as well…before “necessity” came into play.

Moving on to the next subject…

So let’s talk necessity…it is really important. For about a month now I have been really impressed to talk with you and your next year’s garden but just couldn’t figure out the “why” or other details. But now I have. I want to strongly encourage you to have a garden next year…as large as practical and as your situation will allow. And maybe push it just a little bit past that mark.

You guys are smart folks…you see and hear what is happening all around us. You know fertilizer is up 200 – 400%. You see the prices of food in the stores. You also hear and read the stories of farmers talking about looming food shortages and food chain disruptions. Any now there are rumblings about some seed shortages. There are few worse experiences in life than starving…and watching your children starve.

I have no concrete fact-based empirical evidence that there will be significant problems with food next year. But the circumstantial evidence points that there is a high likelihood of that being the case. And of course…it is just a gut feeling that I need to stress how important it is that we all have a garden for next year…situation permitting.

But, here is what I really want you to do now…regardless of your decision of a garden for next year…buy now the supplies needed for a garden next year.

I am not saying supplies won’t be available next year. I am not saying those supplies will be prohibitively expensive next year. I am not saying garden vegetables will be 10 times more expensive next year. I am not saying that vegetables will be absent from store shelves next year. I am not saying anything about doom & gloom end of the world scenarios.

What I am saying…be ready to have a garden. That means have all the supplies in the garage ready to go…and get those supplies together within a month. Yup, I am asking you, encouraging you, to buy all the supplies now for your garden next year.

Now how big of a garden?

Well, that may be dictated by a number of things; 1) space for a garden, 2) physical ability to garden, 3) HOA restrictions, 4) financial resources, 5) capability.

But, how big should your garden be?

If you had all of the 5 issues above under control, then how do you decide what is the right size?

Some years ago I did a whole lot of research to see what it would take to be self-sustaining as far as food goes for a family of four. Wow…it was eye-opening!

Under ideal circumstances it would take a minimum of 5 – 12 acres to grow your own fruit, vegetables, and meat. But the worst part…it is a full-time job to do such a thing…or pretty dang close to it…for two people.

So I am not asking you to be an organic, mother-earth, hippie commune homesteader. I just want you to have a realistic sized garden for food. No, not all your food, just to supplement your purchased food…or your food storage.

My wife and I have talked it over and we have neither the time nor desire to work so hard to provide even most of our fruit and vegetables. We have already planted 11 fruit trees, a couple fig trees go in the ground this coming winter. Strawberry patch got started this year, should be 3x – 5x times larger this coming year. Blackberries and raspberries go in this coming spring.

Now, we have no intention of a really large garden…we simply can’t do it and honestly have no desire to do it. But, we love fresh food…nothing better than a warn cantaloupe on a summer morning.  OK, maybe a bowl of fresh strawberries with 4″ of heavy ReadiWhip on em!

I’ve purchased the heirloom seeds, soil amendments; peat moss, perlite, and composed steer manure. We still have to get a 3-yard load of compost and some more bird netting. I will get the compost in the next week or two, it will sit and chemically cool off till needed in the spring, then it should be perfect. I bought the organic starter fertilizer, the chemical fertilizer, diatomaceous earth, and bone meal. I bought the heirloom seeds for all the plants we want to grow and eat…with some left over to share. We are ready to go!

And a previously planned/schedule project included two cattle panels, clear plastic, and some lumber supplies still needs the materials purchased. That will give as a small, cost-effective greenhouse to get a jump start on the growing season. I will probably get those supplies in September/October, build it in December/January. I will get an article up for that project too.

Now I want to get pretty personal…I mean truly from my heart to yours…

I don’t know for sure why I am asking you to not just have a garden next year but to buy the supplies for next year’s garden within a month. I really don’t know. But, I know I am supposed to prompt you, urge you, plead with you, even beg you to do so.

I know it is a lot to ask…but ask I must. It might mean the difference between being hungry or not. Might mean you just save a few dollars on your food bill next year. Maybe just enjoying great tasting tomatoes. Maybe it is a learning experience on how to garden in your location for a time when it will be needed…I mean really needed. Maybe all of the above. I am telling you point blank I don’t know entirely why I am asking you. But I am asking you to do it.

And it may be a lot to ask of you to lay out money over the next month to buy the supplies…I know it has impacted us to be sure. But I am asking to very seriously listen to what that little voice is telling you right now. I hope it is confirming what I am asking of you. If not, then so be it…it is your decision to make and I respect that.

I hope you felt the spirit with which I wrote this, I hope it means something to you, and I hope it helps you.

 

 

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More on the “Last Minute Food Shopping List”

This is kinda like an “update” to the article Last Minute Food Shopping List. Then again it is really more like a response to Ron’s great information that he posted in a comment to the article. His information needed more exposure for everyone to benefit from. I hope this article is found worthy of your time 😉


Hey Ron,

I am glad your list is blank! Shows you are on top of it. I wish everyone could be in your shoes, even us.

I defined my ‘last minute shopping list’ as “What if we knew that everything was going to fall apart (i.e. grid-down) and we had only one last trip to town to buy food supplies with our pick-up truck. What would we buy?”

That meant that we would have the luxury of actually doing one more trip to buy food, etc. Would we have to make the trip? No. But, if we could, this is what we would be looking for to buy and why.

Take pet food. We go through a 44# bag about once a month. My wife doesn’t want, nor do I, 5 – 12 bags of dog food stacked up in the house or my shop. But, if we knew this was the trip where it would be the last time we could buy dog food…then we would buy the right practical/realistic amount.

You made some great comments to the list, let’s go over it in an open discussion format to see what falls out. I will answer it in a very personal way to make it real for others to read…and then folks might be prompted to rethink/revisit where they are in their own personal situation.

To cover a very broad/general statement…some folks may not have the money to purchase a full regular supply of food, some folks may not have the space to store it, some folks may not have a spouse who supports a large pantry of food, some folks may live in an area where it is illegal to store a large supply of food, and there may be other factors involved as well.

I hope folks find the following discussion helpful and thought provoking. My thanks again to Ron for sharing his thoughts and giving everyone some great information.

And another thought before I get going…this was a “grid-down” scenario. Meaning we would have no idea when, or even if, the food supply chain would get back up and running. That being the case…a year’s supply would simply not be enough. That changes the dynamic considerably. For instance…if I had $10,000 in the back account, why not convert at least some of that into added food storage covered by the items below. The money in the bank could well turn into nothing while the food would feed my family, and other families, for a long time to come. So it is not only about food storage…it is about preparedness.

Ron’s comments are in red, I continue the conversation in black.

  1. Salt Salt will keep almost forever, and is plentiful currently. Why not stock/store as much as you think you will need, before hand, and save the last minute rush for items that doesn’t store long term?

We don’t have the luxury of storing “as much as we think we might need”, we simply don’t have that much space…nor the desire to turn what space we do have into a Walmart warehouse. And our normal usage is already covered for at least a year. However, if it was the last trip I would buy probably 25 – 50 pounds, maybe more if guilt didn’t set in, to allow us to preserve meat, canning for years to come, etc. And I would probably go for the Kosher salt first. I just seem to like it better.

  1. Sugar/Honey Again an item that will keep forever. My mother once bought a 5 gallon can of honey, at a yard sale, that the people had for over 20 years. She paid $5 for the can and when she got it home she opened the can and started spooning the sugared honey into smaller jars. These she slowly heated until the honey re-liquefied. Granted it was very dark honey, but it was usable and tasted just like new honey. Sugar is the same way. It will keep forever. Store it up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.

Awesome mother!!!! One smart lady 😉

Again, I am thinking not a year or even two year’s supply of any particular food. I am thinking about canning, preserving, and having food items available for years to come. And as you said, this item lasts forever.

  1. Fruit. Fresh fruit will be in short supply within a few short days. Canned fruit will keep for years if stored properly. The same goes for fresh vegetables and canned vegetables. My personal feeling is that we will be needing these items very soon, so a one or two year storage life of canned fruit/vegetables is something that can be stockpiled now, when it is still available, and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.

Bingo!!

I doubt I would want to buy any fresh fruit on the last minute trip…seems as if it would be too much of a hassle. Canned fruit would be the best bet to buy and use first…then get into the freeze dried stock. But, I might think about fresh and then dehydrate it into fruit leather. I would let my wife make the call on that one.

Now, that being said…I might have to get a quart or two of fresh strawberries along with a couple cans of heavy ReadiWhip! I dearly love that combo.

  1. Cooking Oil. Cooking oil doesn’t store very well for long periods, but it will store for a year or two. Even rancid cooking oil can be used in an oil lamp. This is what the 10 virgins on Bible fame were using. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term. If you rotate your supply you’ll have an idea how long it can be stored, and if needed you can get some more during your last minute rush.

Yeah, I hesitated on this one a bit. All vegetable shortening will only store about 8 – 12 months depending on the brand and storage conditions. Olive oil can last 18 – 24 months depending on the brand, amount of processing, the ingredients, and storage conditions. Olive trees can grow in our area…hummmmm?

  1. Flour. Flour, properly packaged and stored, will keep for a lot longer time than most believe. The Bishop’s storehouse sells flour in gallon cans that they claim will last 5 years. In addition to flour, wheat berries will store for many years, and can be ground into flour using a hand grinder. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.

Amen! It is pretty obvious when flour goes bad…it stinks, or there are these cute little bugs crawling around inside of it.

Now, I wouldn’t think about a hand grinder for wheat…although we have one. I would use our electric one. Or, if our solar system and generators went out I would try diligently to engineer a way to power the hand grinder…maybe hook it up to the tractor!

Wheat can be stored for 30+ years if done correctly, and isn’t that difficult to grow. Harvesting…well, that may be a bit more difficult. And wheat can be used so many different ways. It is one of the top “must have” items for food storage. Probably #2 behind chocolate chip cookies!

  1. Milk. Powdered milk had been around for many years. My mother made us kids drink powdered milk back in the 50’s. Powdered milk doesn’t keep forever, but it does keep for years. It even tastes better than the old version we suffered through in the 50’s. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
  2. Peanut Butter (nuts). Peanut butter doesn’t store much longer than a year, but neither do nuts that you might try and make into nut butter. This item might be something that you would want to have on your ‘last minute purchase’ list, but at least store and rotate a years supply.

Homemade peanut butter is good for about 2 – 4 weeks, a little longer if kept refrigerator. Store bought peanut butter is not so straight forward based on ingredients/preservatives. But generally 2 – 4 months, another month or two longer if kept refrigerator. Shelf life of peanut butter (unopened) is not straight forward either based on ingredients/preservatives.High-end peanut butter maybe 9 months, Jif is probably closer to 2 years. Again, kept in the refrigerator will extend unopened peanut butter as well.

Best way to tell if it has gone bad is a rancid smell…or fuzzy stuff growing on it 🙂

Dry roasted peanuts are just about the same for the most part. Our freeze dried peanut powder will last a long time, depending on the brand, 2 – 20 years. We keep our stock rotated because my wife loves smoothies.

  1. Jelly/jam. Jelly and jam are mostly ‘fruit flavored’ sugar, and as such will store for a long time. If you are going to try and use your own fruit to make them, make sure you have the extra sugar stored before hand. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.

We started our strawberry patch this year. It’s going well, looks as if it will triple or quadruple in size for next year. Yeah…freezer jam rocks!

  1. Protein bars/ Granola Bars/ Trail mix. These can be per-stored for about a year, so these are another item to pickup in your last minute rush.

I like the portability of these…hard to beat. And if you get the Quaker Dipps they come chocolate covered. Sure helps to get past food fatigue.

  1. Cocoa Powder. This one I don’t know anything about, so I am going to give this one to you to pick up at the last minute. I at least would have some on hand and supplement that with the last minute purchase. I do know that chocolate candy bars won’t store for long. If they were kept frozen, they might last longer, but I tried vacuum packing a few and the heat made them go bad. One way around the heat problem would be to store Butterfingers and Baby Ruth candy bars. They are made with imitation chocolate, and you can’t even get them to melt in a microwave. They might be a partial solution to long term storage for the sweet tooth. I vacuum pack sugar based candy, in glass jars and that will last a long time. I’ve got cinnamon bears that are going on 5 years and they are still eatable. I like to buy the 75% off candy after a holiday and vacuum pack it.

Oh yeah!  And please folks…don’t underestimate food fatigue. Chocolate has some amazing benefits to it. And candy in general could go a long way towards helping people deal with the stress of TEOTWAWKI. And let’s face it…chocolate is the primary/main food group!

  1. Multi-Vitamins. These will also keep for a few years. Stock up before the rush, but supplement during your last minute rush, if you can find them.
  2. Canned Beef Stew. I like it too. However it will store for a long time and should already be in your pantry. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
  3. Maple Syrup. Syrup and Maple Syrup are another heavy on the sugar item and will keep for a long time. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
  4. Pet Food. I have a cat, so I do store a supply of both dry and canned cat food. If push comes to shove, the cat will get some of my beef stew, and will outlive me as I am not going to eat him. That being said, if he out lives me, he might be eating me. He’s welcome to all he can chew down.

Now that had me snickering…then laughing…and still smiling! Our neighbors and us talked about it one evening. We decided that we would “swap” pets prior to any last ditch dining. But we really didn’t want to starve either…hunger is not an easy way to go.

Aside from the few things that don’t store for a very long term, most food items can be per-purchased and stored right now. I would go so far as to say that if you don’t already have these things on hand, it is time to do your ‘last minute food shopping’, and save your rapidly inflating money for the things you don’t already have stored, like gasoline and fresh batteries and ammunition, and maybe some lumber to build an outhouse…….

Ahhhhhhh…”gasoline and fresh batteries and ammunition, and maybe some lumber” you read my mind. Those items are coming in future articles. Good, really good, to hear you are thinking ahead!!

Let me clarify just to make sure folks aren’t mis-reading the intention of my original article. My last minute shopping list (LMSL) wasn’t in-place of our food storage plan (FSP). Our FSP is in good order…as yours should be…I pray it is. But, I also understand that there can be many potential limiting factors to having a solid FSP or any plan at all. The LMSL was intended to get you thinking that if you could never ever never go to a real store again…what would you want to buy to fill-out, round-out, and supplement your FSP.

There are also some other factors as well…mainly physiological, and some others. The stress post-collapse will be enormous to the point most people are not able to comprehend. The workload will go up exponentially…to the point you could easily be burning 4000 – 6000 calories a day. And that requires a lot of food to make up for that kind of calorie usage. And honestly…kids will suffer more. They are used to cookies, candy, and whatnot. And they will stress even more because they are generally lacking in the logic and ability to comprehend what is actually happening. A candy bar or a couple of cookies can go a long way to helping them cope.

Now, Ron has hit my guilt button! Shame on him for being so thought provoking. So there are a couple of other items that I would definitely look at buying last minute. And here they are…again, in priority order:

  1. Pepsi – Yes, my name is AH and I am an addict. I am a Pepsiholic and I am still not sober. When we had a larger house before moving to the glamstead I had 10 cases of 36 count Pepsi on hand, and rotated it. I figured that would be sufficient to meet my immediate addictions needs and allow me time to get sober. Not cold turkey mind you…but tapper off my daily intake until I could function without it. So yes, canned Pepsi would be on my list…and I would shove kids and little old ladies out of the way to get to it.
  2. Bacon – Yeah, that would go in the cart as well. Then straight to our freezer. It is hard to beat bacon with anything…other than maybe Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies.
  3. Mexican or Fiesta blend cheese – this is a freezer food that I love on eggs, and well, just about anything bland or spicy. Yup, the big 150# bags of it. OK, OK, maybe they are more like 5# bags, but I might have to get 30 or so of them 🙂
  4. Jimmy Dean hot sausage – This isn’t quite a “must have” but it sure is good. Yes, it would go into the freezer as well. Makes great casserole fillers putting some badly needed protein and fats into the diet. And no, the grease from cooking it would not be thrown out…it would be used to cook something else. Or maybe, just maybe, go on the dogs food one evening…maybe.
  5. Now I am going to be embarrassed…Chicken patties and chicken nuggets. Yeah I like em…so please try to be understanding. They are great for protein and…oh, the heck with it…they taste awesome! Throw down a little buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing for dipping and you have a feast! Put them in the freezer and get over it.
  6. So one more humiliating item…tatter tots. Oh come on…you know you love em too! And yes, with my chicken nuggets. Put tatter tots in an air fryer and they are hard to beat.

So let’s talk one more item that isn’t food but could be truly useful for food buying frenzy…a freezer. No, not one you already have at the house…one you buy during your last minute trip. There are a number of different compact freezers, we bought a 7 cu ft model, some 3.5 & 5 cu ft. They hold way more than you think. So if your trip is to Walmart and you are buying some freezer food items consider also buying a compact freezer right then as well. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t…but it is worth considering.

These compact freezers are pretty slick now and dang energy efficient as well. They can burn less than a single Kw per day. So that is doable even on a small emergency solar system. I ran one during a test with car batteries and 400w of PVs (solar panels). Just think about.

Well, that just about does it. I hope the original article got you thinking and Ron’s solid information added to the thought process. Maybe this article even helped as well…especially for you Pepsi addicts. I can’t imagine anyone drinking Coke let alone be addicted to it, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Coke…just plain wrong on so many levels.

Now go forth and think it through…then make a plan…and be ready to carry it out. Just one last reminder…THIS IS NOT A FOOD STORAGE PLAN…it is a last trip to the store plan.

Let’s hear more from you guys…we can all benefit from sharing information!

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Last Minute Food Shopping List

So…my wife and I were sitting watching TV the other night. We decided to get up to speed on a couple of issues and watched a number of reports on the food supply chain, food production (i.e. farming), and food availability outlook for next year. Yeah, call it a date night!

I wrote some time ago how we completely revamped our pantry and organized it much better. That led us to assess the quantities of some of our items and improve in that area a bit. But, we now started talking about the probability of “severe” food supply chain disruptions and its potential effects on us. We felt pretty good about our situation but it made me think of the crazy question, “What if we knew that everything was going to fall apart (i.e. grid-down) and we had only one last trip to town to buy food supplies with our pick-up truck. What would we buy?”

Let’s call it our “last minute food shopping list” from now on.

What a wonderful conversation to have in the evening between two people who love each other while on a date at home. I must say…a truly romantic evening!

As I like to do (i.e. OCD) I had to set parameters to work with, so they were:

  1. The most needed items.
  2. The least ability to produce or the most difficult to procure.
  3. Current supply of each item; includes freeze dried, frozen, and pantry supplies.

As we talked it started to become clear that it was:

  1. Salt – It is needed for all kinds of cooking and preserving. We have no way to produce salt and no idea where a local supply would come from. Remember, throughout history empires where built and fought over based on salt alone.
  2. Sugar/Honey – OK, I would just roll over and die without sugar (i.e. chocolate chip cookies). Seriously, we have no way to produce sugar on our own. Yes, I understand about locally supplied honey. But we don’t know anyone in the area that has hives and sells honey. And even if we did, can local honey producers produce enough honey for the area populace and what would the cost be? Could we survive without sugar? Maybe, but it would be a dull world.
  3. Fruit – Ever hear of “scurvy”? Eating fruits gives you a long list of nutrition that can’t be provided any other way except pills. Yes, we planted fruit trees…and no idea if and/or when we will ever have a crop. While there are some apple orchards in the general area…none of them are commercial in size.
  4. Cooking Oil – Used a lot in baking and cooking. No practical way to produce it and no known source of procurement.
  5. Flour – Used to bake things like biscuits, pancakes, bread, and most importantly…chocolate chip cookies.
  6. Milk – Great source of protein/nutrition and great with chocolate chip cookies. And yes, used in baking and cooking. No way to produce it and no known source of procurement.
  7. Peanut Butter (nuts) – This is a great survival food due to it’s a great source of protein and oils/fats. It tastes great and stores a long time. I included nuts with this because it is fairly easy to make peanut butter from nuts. No practical way to produce nuts and no known source of procurement of nuts…and/or peanut butter.
  8. Jelly/Jam – Great in combination with peanut butter! Source of fruit and energy. While we are starting a berry patch, we have yet to harvest and no idea what a harvest will look like or when.
  9. Protein Bars/Granola Bars/Trail Mix – GREAT source of quick, easy to eat food packed with protein and energy. Can be eaten without preparation, can be eaten on the move, and is simply a great food. While we can produce it and can procure some of the ingredients to make, it is a great food to have on hand for a rapidly deployed source of food.
  10. Cocoa Powder – This is a sub-category of a primary food group…chocolate. It essential for life to continue on earth, without it all life on earth will perish. We obviously can’t produce it and it can’t be grown anywhere near us…maybe not even on the North American continent. This is a must have for the survival of the human race!
  11. Multi-Vitamins – Self-explanatory. This can help fill in the blanks when eating a less than balanced or healthy diet.
  12. Canned Beef Stew – First off…I like it…Dinty Moore is unbeatable. And it has meat and vegetables in it already…along with a really tasty gravy. Serve it over rice and it goes a long way. Serve it with biscuits and it is hard to beat on a cold night. While it can be made, it is very convenient to have a supply on hand for ready meals that are very comforting.
  13. Canned Meat – Hard to beat source of protein. While meat may be able to be procured, don’t count on it. And while you could raise meat animals yourself, it uses up a huge amount of resources to do so.
  14. Maple Syrup – Pancakes are easy to make and helps prevent food boredom. And to eat pancakes a person MUST have maple syrup. And yes, it can be used in baking and cooking. No practical way to produce it and no known source of procurement.
  15. Pet Food – I don’t want my animals to starve. I don’t want them eating my beef stew or chocolate chip cookies. Table scraps and food preparation scraps may not be available in sufficient quantities for them. And you may be keeping a potential alternative food source alive by keeping them fed.

So there you have our list in case we are forced into a last minute shopping spree. And it is in priority order. The quantity of each is another subject altogether. First, are the items even on the shelf? Next, do we get greedy or not, vs “need” alone? Then comes our ability to pay for the items. And lastly, how much space is in the truck vs the sheer quantity of the items being purchased.

Only you can answer those questions. For us, we can’t control what items are on the shelf but you can bet your bottom dollar that if we don’t see them, we will ask someone who works there for them. Who knows for sure if we can pay for them or not is a big question. Are they still accepting cards? Did we bring enough cash with us? Do we need to bribe the manager with gold/silver to get the deal done? We would keep buying until the truck was stuffed full.

I purposely avoided one of the questions…”do we get greedy or not vs ‘need’ alone.” That is a tough one. I would hope that we would buy what we felt was absolutely needed…maybe a bit extra. I would hope and pray we would live our Christian faith and not buy simply to be greedy or to take advantage of others later. I would also hope we wouldn’t buy for bartering or trading later. There would be families with immediate needs and my future business (barter/trade) doesn’t trump their need to survive. I would hope for reasonableness and humility…I wouldn’t want to see anyone’s kids starve while my carts were packed to the max.

We would go to multiple stores…and we would definitely include Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.

And one more thought…I would try to have a 4-person team to do the shopping:

  • One person to watch/guard the truck and have it ready to move once we were done and ready to load. Yes, armed…with a sidearm and a long gun such as an AR, possibly a shotgun.
  • Two shoppers working the list in coordination with each other. Both armed with a sidearm.
  • One person to guard the shoppers while shopping and while moving the carts to the truck. Their sole job would be SA and protection. For sure a sidearm, and if appropriate a long gun.
  • In the parking lot no one would be allowed to approach the shoppers, the carts, or the truck…especially during loading and departing.

Well, there you have it! Now, will you and your spouse, maybe your whole family, sit down and do the same…come up with your “last minute food shopping list”? I sure hope so!

Feel free to share what your list contains if you feel so motivated.

If you would like a printable PDF shopping list <click here>


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It’s time for garden prepping !

Yup, it’s that time of year to start preparing for your garden. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to actually start planting! Unfortunately it is not yet time for 99% of us to be planting. But it is time to…

  1. Plan what you intend to plant. Only plan for what you will actually eat.
  2. If you haven’t already purchased your seeds like I suggested several months ago, go buy your seeds. Yes, heirloom seeds if at all possible. But, whatever seeds are best for your local conditions and needs is just fine.
  3. Last weekend my wife and I planted seeds for our sweet orange peppers, Serrano chili peppers, Poblano peppers, Roma tomatoes, and sweet yellow and white onions (for onion sets).
  4. Today we will plant seeds for grand bell peppers, Crimson watermelon, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes.
  5. They are sitting in a large south facing window.
  6. Next week we will buy an LED grow light.

So why so early? Well, for us it is not really all that early. We want to get our plants started early and let them grow to a pretty good size before we plant them outside. Yup, a jump on the growing season!

When will we plant them out side? I wasn’t sure at all. We planted a micro-garden last year…with poor results…more on that later. So I really didn’t know for sure when to get our plants in the ground outside. After a little research I found a great website that you enter your zip code and it gives you a date-by-date planting guide for each vegetable type.  According to my zip code I will have 2 – 3 months of growing my plants indoors before they get the real thing outside. Of course I am not sure if I am right in my planning or not…this is my first time at this scale in this location. But, I have to get experience somehow, sometime…why not now!

Why didn’t I use local “experts” for guidance? I tried…and each had their own opinion and I wasn’t sure who was right or not. So I went with the Internet experts…if it’s on the Internet it must be true!

<click here to go to The Old Farmer’s Almanac Planting Calendar>

Our neighbor is all about “food sustainability”…and I mean he is focused on it to the point of obsessive. And that is great, that is his thing for prepping. I tend to be a little more balanced in my prepping…and balance with the rest of my life. So I garden for fresh vegetables, some preserving, and gaining experience (especially in this new area). The experience gives me the background and knowledge, that should the need arise, I can go into growing most of our own food. Until that time comes…we just love eating all that fresh stuff…especially the tomatoes!

So why the article today on planting seeds and gardening? Simple, I am strongly encouraging you AGAIN to gain gardening experience. Why? Because there will come a time when folks will need to grow their  own food, then preserve it…and then survive off of it. If you wait to gain experience until growing your own food is a necessity…it might well be too late.

Yes, I will try to blog my garden activities this year. Not because I am some expert master gardener trying to educate you…nope, that’s not me at all. I am simply trying to share every day, ordinary experiences with you.

So there you go…hope you have some motivation to learn gardening. If you already know…then maybe you could make your plan. If you already have a plan…you could get started. Please…give it a try…you never know when the need will arise. In the meant time…FRESH TOMATOES!!

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There I was…Green Chile Cheese Grits!

I have been busy as heck lately! The last two days I have been cutting and stacking firewood for this coming winter. Sunday I was spending time with my wife, going to church, baking bread for my neighbor, watered the garden, checked on the solar system, took a walk, talked to my oldest boy, and took a nap. Last week…well, I was busy all week. Actually, I’ve been busy for about the last two years…non-stop. And my website writing has suffered because of it. Maybe I should apologize…but then again…no, I won’t.

You see, if you have been following my website you know I have been building our retirement home / bug out location, building a driveway, build/installing a solar system, laying 700′ of water line, moving, gardening, and all other manner of getting our 40 acres ready for the apocalypse. So no, I don’t think an apology is in order. However, I do feel as if making amends to some degree is needed, required…probably an absolute necessity. So here it goes…

Green Chile Cheese Grits !

What the heck???   Yeah, green chile cheese grits. What better way to make amends than to give you a great recipe for an amazing breakfast dish. And I am telling you “Amazing!”

But first things first…if you are like me growing up as a kid I never heard of grits…I had no idea what the heck they were. If you grew up in the South then you knew what they were and that they could be prepared 1000 different ways…some of them really good. But, let me be clear…plain grits are terrible no matter where you live or how you try to manipulate the whole idea.

Yuck!

But, grits makes a great foundation for some wonderful tasting food…and that is what I am sharing with you today.

Step #1 –

I start out with basic grits. I put 1 cup of water in a microwave safe bowl along with 1/4 cup of grits. We use Quaker Oats Quick 5-Minute variety.

 

Step #2 –

As soon as the bell rings on the microwave we take it out and mix in 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of Mexican blend cheese into it. Yeah, the amount varies on how much you like cheese. My wife tends towards the 1/4 cup of cheese…mostly wanting to cut down on calories. I like a lot of cheese. You have to figure out what is right for your taste. If you don’t like cheese…well, get off my website! (just joking)

We tend to buy the Great Value brand from Walmart unless something else is on sale. One thing for sure…we like the finely shredded because it melts faster/easier.

Optionally –

Step #3 –

Mix in Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce. How much? Well, that depends entirely on your taste for, and love of, Mexican food. I like the medium, my wife likes the mild.

Notice the blue band at the bottom with the word “medium” printed on it.

Notice the green band at the bottom with the word “mild” printed on it.

Now, add in just a little of the green chile enchilada sauce at a time until you find the right flavor for you. Once I figured it out I just add until it is the right color.

Step #3 –

Add BACON…the most wonderful food in the world!!!!  Well, a close tie with chocolate 🙂 You add crumbled up bacon to the grits and stir.

Now, how much bacon you add is entirely up to you…I would suggest just a little under a pound. OK, OK…so maybe only 1 – 3 pieces. But, it is a good idea if the bacon is cooked “crisp” because it crumbles easier.

As an option you can use sausage that has been cooked/browned and crumbled. If you use sausage you probably want to use a spicy sausage such as Bob Evans “hot”.

Step #4 –

Eat and enjoy!!!!    Make sure you don’t let them get cold. If your grits get cold…YUCK!!!!  Throw them away and start over…you got to eat them hot for them to taste best.

Options –

First off, grits make a very easy to store long-term food storage item. Leave them in their original package and they are good for a long time. Put them into FoodSaver bags for them to stay good longer. Put them in a bucket with O2 absorbers and them will last through the end times.

For a cheese option I can attest to the Thrive cheese blend freeze dried product. Not quite the Mexican flavor but not bad at all. Thrive does make other cheese products so experiment until you find the right one, or combination, for you.

For meat product options we’ve used Thrive Bacon TVP and Thrive sausage crumbles. The bacon TVP rocks!! The sausage crumbles not so much. I think the sausage crumbles just lack any noticeable flavor.

Also, Thrive makes a freeze dried enchilada sauce, although it is “red” vs “green”. We’ve not tried it but you are welcome to.

This coming harvest season when we have the dehydrator out we are going to try turning Hatch Green Chile Enchilada sauce into a “fruit leather” type of product for long-term storage in FoodSaver bags. I will let you know how that turns out.

Note: You will be banned from this site for eternity if you use any green chile enchilada sauce that isn’t Hatch. Yup! Banned for eternity!!  There are only Hatch green chile products…everything else is an imposter…a cheap, nasty, unforgivable imposter. OK, seriously…Hatch green chile anything is absolutely the best!

Summary –

While this is not a formal apology…an apology is not needed…I think you will find this article a fine “making amends” attempt. I would love to hear how you like the green chile cheese grits…or whateve variations you make to them.

 

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My 2020 Garden: Day #1

As most of you know by now we’ve moved into our new home that I built. It is a modest home, small, functional, and perfect for us. I am behind schedule…as is normal when building. The house is by no means done…there remains a long list of smallish items to take care of. However, I wanted a garden.

My original plans called for a pretty substantial garden and some fruit trees. Ah, not going to happen this year…not even close. But, I felt the overwhelming “need” to put in some kind of, some size of garden. After a discussion with my wife we decided it had to be small enough to do quickly, only vegetables that we will eat each day, maybe some minor dehydrating, no canning. It had to be easy to care for, not time consuming. And it had to be “heirloom” based. If nothing else…we could/would harvest the seeds for next year.

The vegetables we decided on were tomatoes, peppers, squash, and an unnamed vegetable to be identified later. Tomatoes was a no brainer…we eat the heck out of tomatoes! We eat them on sandwiches, as a sandwich, on salads, by themselves…well, you get the idea. So we went with Beef Steak and Better Boy, plus a cherry tomato for salads.

For peppers we went with a serrano for spicy, then a sweet green and sweet red. And then some kind of squash that my wife likes…yeah, I am not a big squash fan.

We ended up with 8 plants total…7 pots, one had two plants in it. Yup…very small garden!

We have some problems to deal with here…mainly the sun, it is very, very intense in the summer. And the ground is dry, but we have a well so that is not a problem. For the sun, we planted on the east side of the house, shaded from about 1pm on. And then there are the dogs and rabbits. Our combination chain-link and electric fence keeps the dogs in and the rabbits out. A 2″x3″ mesh piece of leftover construction mesh keeps the rabbits and dogs out of the garden itself. But, there are also the mice and rats. Yup, the joys of living in the country. Some 1/2″ construction mesh from Lowe’s today will take care of that problem…hopefully.

And I mentioned our ground is dry…very dry and sandy…very little organic matter. So that had to be dealt with. But, I am not going to till up a large garden…actually, I am not tilling up anything. I am digging holes and improving the soil just in that specific area.

So here goes…

East side of the house to shade the plants in the afternoon. The house proximity might also deter the tougher rabbits that make it through the electric fence. And of course…a shorter walk to water, weed, and harvest.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I am digging holes for each individual plant. Saves work and reduces amount of soil amendments. Notice how dry and hard. Dug the hole approximately 14″ in diameter and a little over a foot deep.

 

For soil I mixed 1/3 native soil (sand), 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 steer manure/compost. I mixed it in the wheelbarrow. I used the soil from lower in the hole where it was less hard and a little more moist.
I didn’t use fancy stuff like pearlite or vermiculite…WAY too expensive and WAY too little return on the dollars spent.

 

Here is what I choose to use to improve the soil. No specific reason I choose this stuff. It’s just what they had, and would work for what I wanted it to do.

 

So there you go! Our small garden in a small space (5′ x 5′) all laid out, in the ground…now the finishing touches.

 

Put up the non-fancy fence and watered it all in.
Tomatoes tomorrow???

 

Not going to let anything go to waste! These are little sprigs of grass I dug up when digging my plant holes. I moved them to an area where I have the potential for soil erosion. Grass in this area is scarce, so why not use it constructively? Yes, I watered it in. No, I have no idea if it will make it or not.

So why am I sharing this with you? Thought you might be interested…yeah, right. Now the real reason…I want to show you that a small garden is still possible, even if you are starting a bit late like I am. And while it may not feed you 100%…it might feed you 15% or 5%…and that is better than nothing. Plus you learn to garden for when you may really need it. And at the very least you can harvest the seeds and save them for next year.

So I am suggesting -HIGHLY encouraging you- that you plant a garden. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy or pretty…or anything but some vegetables that you are growing yourself. You never know how much you may need it…or just appreciate the fresh tomatoes 🙂

I will keep you updated on how our garden does.

 

 

2009 - 2020 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.