Sunday, December 14, 2014

Helping With Chicken Egg Production - LED Lights

We created a new video to help others who may have a similar issue that we do in the Fall and Winter.  Egg production decreases during these months do to several factors including the cold weather and the reduced hours of daylight available.

Through the introduction of a timer and LED Christmas lights in the ceiling of the hen house and in the chicken run, we extend the hours of "daylight" for our chickens to 14 and help to keep their egg production up.

Helping With Chicken Egg Production - LED Lights

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Get Alone Undistracted

I recently read an article called Get Alone Undistracted which talks about spending more time with
God in an increasingly technologically-connected world. The article was a review of an article in Time Magazine that mentions that in today's world that we are never offline.

There are computers in phones, watches, and in glasses. We are constantly checking our statuses, updating information, always checking on something and when we are not, we get alerts pushed to us.

We are constantly being assaulted by pings, beeps, dings and other sounds that constantly remind us that we are connected.

Although I realize the importance of not being so "hyper-connected", the article was a good reminder. I read that article, closed the computer, left the phone in the house and got some good work done.

Today around our homestead, I worked on our chicken coop, worked around our fruit trees, cut some grass, went to get feed, made dinner and went on a walk with our youngest daughter.

Now, it's towards the end of the day, I have that great feeling of a great, fruitful and fulfilling day.

There are little, simple things that can be done to unplug...

  • I'd like to recommend setting a specific time to be on your computer. I remember my grandparents would watch the news at night after their day's work was done. Maybe set a time early in the morning to get your news, etc. and then put it away until close to the end of the day where you do the same.
  • Leave your cell phone inside and set a specific time or times that you will check it for messages, etc. Not having the phone with you decreases the temptation to constantly check it, update Facebook statuses, etc.
  • Don't end the day with a computer or TV. Our bodies react to the electronic stimulation and that affects our sleep. Instead, read a book before bed time.  
  •  I also like to end the day in prayer as it relaxes and grounds me and I can't think of anything nicer than falling asleep while talking to my Lord.

That's it for now and remember that it's the simpler things in life that matter!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness - BOOK REVIEW

I recently received a copy of The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness by Jim Cobb. This book was provided to me by the publisher for my consideration, objective thoughts and opinions.

This is the third book that I've read by the author and have to say that I really enjoy his down to Earth writing style as well as the wealth of information that he freely shares. In reading this book, there are a few chapters that jump out at me.

The book opens with the practical question of, "Why should we prepare?" as it discusses  That question is asked in Chapter 1 as it discusses short, medium and long-term emergencies. In thinking about emergencies, being able to do your part is essential so that you don't have to rely on others, which in turn frees up resources to help other people. It also, and for me more importantly, makes sure that you and your family are properly taken care of. Remember, you are your best advocate!

The book gives us insight and practical advice as to what it takes to develop the survival mindset as well as covers the similarities and differences between survivalists and preppers. This is perhaps the most important "thing" to have.. the mindset and will to survive.

There is also some great information on bugging out vs sheltering in place including very good information on properly caching supplies as well as having backup plans and backups to your backups. Also discussed is the almost always overlooked topic of a planning and packing for a delayed bug out when you have a bit of advanced notice ahead of your departure time. There are also several realistic scenarios provided to help you think through your plans. What I really liked about this chapter was the well-thought out caching information. I also liked the scenarios, which were all realistic, in that there were no brain-eating zombies running around. They were simply some of the most probable likely scenarios to occur.

Chapter Five talks about pantry organization and storage. There's lots of good, solid advice here to both get started and to take your food storage to the next level. Information such as what to store and what not to store abounds as does information on the preparation of food in general. My favorite unexpected take-away of the chapter was the cool use of the oft-overlooked plastic food storage bag.

When I first saw the title of Chapter Six, Foraging, I was very interested as that is something that I am getting more and more involved in.  This chapter covers foraging, in my definition of wild edibles, but also included in this chapter are also discussions on gardening and a straight-forward clarification of the difference between scavenging and looting. While it's impossible to fully provide one with an education on wild edibles as that would take a book on it's own, Mr. Cobb hits the highlights on several widely available plants that the reader can research.  The chapter also touches on some areas that I wouldn't normally think of when I think about foraging. The item that I really liked the most about this chapter is how the author stresses that planning to do something or even reading about doing something is not enough and is not the same thing as getting out there and doing it.

Security is talked about very well in another chapter. As one who has read some of Mr.Cobb's other works on the subject, I feel that he has his finger on the pulse of prepper security with this chapter. It covers topics such as cognitive dissonance, situational awareness and operations security (OPSEC). Not only are these topics covered, but areas such as secured storage and practical defense are mentioned as well.

While the common topics of security, food storage and water are covered as would be expected in this book, there is also information on the care of children, pets and the elderly and the very different needs that they have. If you have any of these in your family, you need to read his information and advice.

Aside from the items listed above, one of the things that I liked most about this book is the down to Earth way of looking at prepping topics from different angles. The solid, practical advice offered and the encouragement to practice your prepping will help make you a more prepared person.

From mindset to the essentials, Mr. Cobb is a very knowledgeable and thoughtful writer who covers prepping topics that are most often not considered by others. He will take you from making the plan to implementing the plan in a wide variety of prepping areas that will make the reader a better prepper.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thrift Store Finds - Keep Looking

Earlier this week, I had the chance to go to one of my favorite places to look for great homesteading deals. the local Goodwill Store.

Although nothing is guaranteed, I have found some great deals on clothes, books, oil lamps and cast iron cookware.

On this recent visit, I came across a copy of The Boy Scout Handbook marked at $1.99. This book is a treasure trove of great information and I've been looking for a copy for a long time. Yes, I could go and buy it, but part of trying to live simply is coming up with less expensive ways to obtain the items that you need.

To make this even better, the book was tagged with a green price tag. For those that don't know, Goodwill  offers 1/2 price off every Wednesyday for items that are priced with their color of week.

This weeks color was green, which means that the book that I found for $1.99 was only .99!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Twelve Prepping Lessons Learned from Laser Tag

This week, I had the opportunity to accompany my daughter and her boyfriend to an end of the year sports party. Towards the end of the party as people were leaving, it was discovered that the party package included a game of laser tag. Since some of the people left the party, there was an extra ticket available. I was asked if I wanted to join the game, to which I said yes. This was going to be fun!

What followed was definitely a fun game, but it also taught me some lessons that pertain to prepping. They are, in no certain order, as follows:

Lesson #1 - I thought that I did A LOT better that I actually did. When the game was over and we piled back out of the maze into the room to divest ourselves of the equipment, I eagerly awaited the results of the match, waiting for my name to be called. "I think that I did pretty well, I thought to myself." When my daughter's boyfriend scored first place, I thought, "Well, I'm OK with that. I'm probably somewhere in the top three." When I got handed my scoresheet, my hopes were dashed. I came in 10th out of 12 people. Over all, I thought that I was 'shot' in some form or another about 5-7 times. I also thought that I had tagged other players roughly 75 times. The scorecard revealed the cruel reality that I was actually shot 20 times and tagged other players 40 times.

Lesson #2 - Some people will freak out. I cannot count the number of people that I surprised which then led them to scream, lower their gun or just stand there out of shock.

Lesson #3 - Some people will not care. There was one person in the game who almost seemed nonchalant about just slowly walking past people and tagging them. While this was dangerous for others, it was also dangerous for them to not pay attention.

Lesson #4 - People repeat the same mistakes. Going back to the same places where they were previously shot. For them, I just waited for their vests to re-energize and shoot them again when they came out. It wasn't that there was no where else to go. If your hit, the other team knows where you are. Go somewhere else to regroup.

Lesson #5 - You can't go it alone. My daughter and her boyfriend, both scored considerably higher than me. Thankfully we were on the same team during the game. I'd hate to think of what it would be like if they were on the other side. At the same time, it's good to know that in a real emergency, that I have them both on my team!

Lesson #6 - Things sneak up on you. Always try to be prepared ahead of time. When we got our passes for the game, it was a surprise to us. We were attending a party and playing laser tag was not something that we had planned on doing. I was wearing heavy boots with thick socks for the game. Man, what I wouldn't have given for my sneakers!

Lesson #7 - People will sell you out. Sometimes they are the officials or people in charge. There was numerous times during the game where, as a team, we would guide others to where the opposing team was. That is sort-of expected. What wasn't expected was when one of the people running the game walked by me and said "The 'Red' team is up in the front hallway." While I loved that bit of intel, had this been something other than laser tag and I was on the 'red' team, that would've spelled disaster. At the same time, thoughts ran through my head that if the official would rat out the other team to us, then they would probably do the same thing to us.

Lesson #8 - Events can last longer that expected. When we all entered the maze, we were told that games lasted about eight minutes. Ours lasted twenty. While I definitely enjoyed getting our money's worth, it it another variable to consider.

Lesson #9 - The odds may be worse than you think. When we were getting our equipment on, we didn't have a clue as to who was on what team. After they were activated, we learned that one team had 5 people while the other had 7. Not too bad for my team, but adds another dimension of difficulty if you are the 'Red' team. See Lesson #7

Lesson #10 - Training is everything. Yes, I had tactics that I used, but having not actually played laser tag for two years was a detriment for me. When we used to play paintball, laser tag or even target practice fairly regularly, I used to be pretty decent. Not training consistently is bad for your survival. On the other hand and to prove my point, my daughter's boyfriend, who plays with family members that are in the military faired very well. See Lesson #1. I'm sure that it also helped that he was 28 years younger than me.

Lesson #11 - Know your equipment. Having unfamiliar equipment equates to you being in trouble. My vest was flashing. Was this good or bad? I couldn't tell if that was due to a hit or from simply being activated. Being in the heat of a situation is no time to learn how stuff works.

Lesson #12 - Look at things from a different angle. There was a number of times during the game that people would be expecting me to come around a corner. Setting myself up to shoot through "windows" and from kneeling on one knee helped me better surprise the other players who were expecting a target to walk out from around a corner.

All-in-all it was a great time and is something that I would absolutely like to do again. It's a good way to help develop critical thinking skills and iron out some tactical issues before you have to use them in the real world. Even better, it was a great way to have fun with some of my family.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide - BOOK REVIEW

The Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide by Jim Cobb is a book that I greatly anticipated reading.

In reading this book, I love the way that each chapter begins with the concept that the reader is currently dealing with a long term situation that coincides with the theme of the chapter. That opening in each chapter helps with the mindset needed to deal with the information that follows.

Chapter 1 begins with some events from history and then lays out several probable, potential scenarios that could occur in modern times from pandemics to economic collapse. The case is cogently laid out that whatever your concern, that right now is the time to plan for whatever it is that concerns you.

Chapter 2 deals with the topic of water. The human body can survive roughly three days without water after which our bodies start to shut down. From water procurement to filtration and proper storage, this chapter deals with all of the aspects of this precious resource.

Chapter 3 talks about food and what types of food to store. While this book is not the place for in-depth conversations about hunting, fishing and trapping, those topics are also touched on and provide some food for thought. Food preservation techniques are also talked about, including how to make a small root cellar-like storage area to keep food cool. The chapter ends with the topic of cooking and includes a section on making a simple solar oven.

Chapter 4 is the medical chapter. It talks about training and medicine and includes a comprehensive listing of a medical bag. It wraps up with some great information of common natural remedies.

Chapter 5 goes into hygiene which is an oft overlooked area of prepping. This chapter speaks about topics from proper human waste disposal to bathing to garbage disposal. While not too pleasant, it is an important area for which to prepare.

Chapter 6 discusses clothing and the proper items needed for the tasks that will most probably be done in a post-collapse environment. The fact that one will be spending more time outdoors than he/she probably does now figures into the important considerations of this chapter. Later on, the chapter discusses shelter and the importance of it as well as various common sense ways of keeping warm and cool.

Chapter 7 covers security, including structures and weapons as tools as well as a description of the mindsets that one needs to adequately provide for the protection of a yourself and your family.

Chapter 8 talks about tools of all kinds that will be needed in a world of an extended crisis. Tools for basic repairs, tools for gardens and tools for various jobs around the house and property are covered. Overlooked topics such as protective safety gear and communications are also discussed.

Chapter 9 deals with a topic that I admittedly have not heard a lot about when reading or talking about preparedness… entertainment. After the initial realization of what is happening regarding the crisis sets in, people will be spending time performing manual labor and other duties, but there will still be periods of down time.

Chapter 10 examines well thought out bartering parameters for items and services as well as potential post-collapse professions.

Chapter 11 discussed the importance of communities and community planning. A lot of people think that the lone-wolf approach to survival is the way to go, but this drastically overlooks the necessity of having others and the diversity of skills and resources that that brings. This chapter also covers very practical ways for dealing with refugees.

Chapter 12 ends the book on a high note, that is the hope that being prepared can provide. It is a pleasant change from the doom and gloom that is often portrayed by some preppers.

At the very end of the book, there is a pretty complete checklist as well as a suggested reading section for the beginnings of your own survival library.

The depth of information that is covered in this book is incredible as is the unique way that the author makes us really think about ideas, situations and resources that are mostly overlooked in the usual short-term survival planning resources. All that being said, this book belongs in the hands of anyone who is concerned with a long-term disruption in society as we know it today. It's practical, common sense approach makes it a valuable asset to all those who wish to not only be prepared, but for those who want to thrive.

Most prepper books provide you with the fundamentals and tell you what it takes to make it through a temporary crisis, be it a hurricane, tornado or ice storm. What happens, though, when the crisis lasts longer? What will happen in the event of a pandemic or economic downturn? This book fills a much needed information gap in the prepper community for a resource that deals with the long-term events of a disaster that lasts beyond the first 72 hours.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Eggshells For Chickens

Yesterday, my wife noticed that a few of our chickens' eggs shells were a little on the thin side. I knew that we could give our chickens their eggshells back to them to give them the needed calcium in order to make their new eggs stronger. The only thing that I was worried about was giving our chickens a taste for their own eggs. I figured that by washing them and then crushing the shells pretty small, but not powdery, that they would not resemble the eggs that they lay.

Step 1: Wash the used eggshells to get any residual egg out of them. I just opened them up, placed them in a collender and  and washed them with hot water.

Step 2: Lay out the eggshells on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 350 degrees for 10 minutes. This will kill any bacteria and dry them to make them easier to crush.

Step 3: Crush the eggshells. I used a mortar and pestle to crush the eggs. Now they should be ready to feed to our chickens. I'm going to put in in a small feeder and leave it to the chickens for whoever wants to eat it.

I hope that this helps you if you discover that your chickens' eggshells are getting a little thin.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Vertical Strawberry Planter

We just completed the build of a small vertical strawberry planter. We used some scrap wood that was given to us and some old milk jugs.

We removed the 1x4's that were part of a packing crate. We then used a hatchet to split about 1" off off the width of the slats. Then we attached milk jugs to the slats by sliding the slat through the handle of the milk jugs. After that, we re-attached the slats to the frame, then cut the bottoms of the milk jugs off. The last step is to take a nail and poke holes in the caps of the milk jugs to allow for drainage.

Following that, the only thing left to do was to fill with soil and plant our strawberry crowns.

The video of the build can be found here.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Has Sprung!

It's finally here... Spring!

As I sit here, listening to the sounds of the upland chorus frogs as the night settles in and a cool breeze blows, I am reflecting on the beginning of Spring.

We had some strong storms come through last night, the chickens are laying like they should and gardens and projects begin.

A few days ago, our youngest son spent the better part of a day helping to create a three-sister's garden (corn-beans and squash) by prepping the ground and making 25 mounds for us to begin to plant.

This week we built a vertical strawberry planter and are in the process of editing the video of it. The planter is made with pieces from an old crate and milk jugs.

Today, we mulched our three sisters garden of which corn was planted this week.

We'll be laying some mulch and planting some more in the next few days.

Spring is definitely here!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Busy Weekend

It's been a busy weekend here. I had the chance to see my oldest daughter play rugby. Boy is she good at it! I also had the chance to take an "Eating from the Winter Woods" wild edibles class. Finally,  we placed an order with Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company for some amaranth and parsnips that will be added to our regular garden this year.

God is good!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Grandpa's Justice

Grandpa's Justice is a story written by Tom Kovach. I originally read the article in Backwoods Home Magazine. I wanted to share it as a great example of what having a purpose can do for an individual.

Having the best vegetable garden in the village might put food on the table and make some money at the market, but it also can cause some problems. Or so it was with my grandfather, the mayor of a small village in Hungary, then a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

My father told me Grandfather grew some of the best potatoes, cabbage, and carrots in the area. But one summer he ran into problems. Someone was stealing his produce. Not just stealing it, but also digging some of the plants up and leaving them to spoil.

Besides his huge vegetable garden, my grandfather had the duties of mayor, taking care of local disputes and such. He also had some cows, horses, and hay fields to care for. My grandmother helped and so did some of the children who were older, but for the most part the work fell on my grandfather and he was none too pleased to see his hard work being ruined by thieves and vandals.

One of the people taking vegetables was an old man who lived in a little shack and no means of support, other than odd jobs. What little money he made, he spent on drink. My father did not begrudge him the few vegetables he took, but he felt bad that the old man was spending the money he made from the vegetable garden on liquor.
He also knew that the old man was not a vandal. He took whatever vegetables he got out of the garden to either eat or sell. Someone else was tearing up the garden.

He got an idea. One day he told my grandmother, "I think I'll hire the old man who's taking my vegetables as a night watchman for our garden. I'm too busy to stay up watching it."

My grandmother shook her head, "But can we afford it?"

"I won't pay him too much. And what we save from his keeping our vegetables from being taken or ruined will more than make up for what I pay him."

My grandmother agreed. "And maybe a job will change him."

My grandfather smiled, "That's what I was thinking. In fact I think this will work out very well."

When he first approached the old man about a job watching the vegetable garden, his eyes got big and he looked frightened. No doubt he was afraid my grandfather knew he was taking some of the vegetables. But he agreed to the job.

The very first night on the job the old man caught the ones who were ripping up the garden. They were two young boys whose father had died in war and were being raised by their widowed mother. They were an unruly lot and not much older than my father. My grandfather felt sorry for them but knew that he must do something. Not only were they wrecking his garden but, since he was mayor, he must also mete out some sort of justice.
"I'll tell you what," he told the two wild brothers, "I will show you how hard it is to grow a nice, big garden, but I will also show you how enjoyable it can be."

The boys had no choice but to work in grandfather's garden. But he also taught them how to garden. How to plant the seeds, how to carefully water everything. He even taught them how to care for fruit trees.

At first the boys were angry and spiteful. But they changed their minds when grandfather also paid them a small amount for their labors. Then he let them take fruit and vegetables home to their widowed mother. Soon the boys were anxious to come to work. They felt proud of what they were learning and my grandfather took his mules over to their mother's small plot of land and helped them plant their own garden.

Meanwhile, the old man my grandfather had hired to watch over the garden was still on the job. Now that he had to "work" at night, he did not care to drink so much during the day. And, as with the two boys, my grandfather gave the old man produce to take home each day for his own use. And a change came over him. He started to feel proud that he had a job and he started to take care of himself. In fact, he took some of the money my grandfather paid him and bought himself a new white shirt. The next Sunday he showed up in church, clean-shaven, with his new shirt proudly buttoned up, and he was sober.

With the boys helping him in the garden, my grandfather made the garden even bigger, thereby having more vegetables to sell and therefore having more money from the sale of the produce. With this he helped the boys buy seed and fruit trees for their own lot. Before long they were doing very well in their own garden and selling produce to help their widowed mother.

With the extra money my grandfather decided to fix up a nice clean room in one of his outbuildings where the old man could live safely and comfortably. He still paid him to work for him, but by now he didn't need a night watchman for the garden. Instead he paid him for odd jobs so that he could always have some of his own money.
He began eating his meals with my grandfather and grandmother and their family. In fact he stayed with them until he passed away. He also gave up drinking for good.

So with just a few extra cents, my grandfather helped the two boys and the old man help themselves, and he changed the lives of a lot of people including my grandfather's and my father's, who told the story to me.

I hope that you enjoyed the story.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Savings on Seeds

Last year, after Halloween, I was able to pick up some glow sticks relatively cheap because they were on sale after the holiday.

This week when I walked into our local store I saw a shopping cart full of seeds that "expired" last month. Because these seeds were past their so-called expiration date, I was able to pick them up for 10¢ each!

These were either all organic or heirloom seeds that were discarded for being one month out of date. I just couldn't believe it.

Now, as I look over my Baker Creek and High Mowing catalogs, I can plan and imagine where I will fit these new found seeds into our upcoming garden.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

While Walking In The Woods

One of the greatest pleasures that I have in working at the location where I work is the ability to go outside and walk on my breaks. I am fortunate enough to have several strands of woods nearby. It is there that I heard a slight sound of rustling leaves today. I paused and waited and was rewarded with a glimpse of an animal trotting through the brush.

I looked towards an opening in the direction of his travel and saw a beautiful red fox cross a 30' clearing approximately 10 yards in front of me.

Just seeing that made my afternoon. God is truly amazing and creative.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Homemade Tortillas

Yesterday, we had taco night and one of the things that we wanted to do was to make our own tortillas. We had made them in the past and wanted to try them again, so we searched the Internet for a good recipe and came upon this one below by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.

We found that each batch made 15 tortillas and followed the instructions word for word with the exception of the second wait time. My comments are also below in red.

Anyway, the recipe is below...

  • 2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preparation Instructions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together.

Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour.

Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes. (We did not wait the addition 20-30 minutes following rolling them into balls.)

When you're ready to make the tortillas, head a dark or cast iron griddle to medium/medium-high heat. (We used medium low heat in a cast iron skillet.)

One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin.  (I didn't roll some too thin and they came out more like gordita shells from Taco Bell)

Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots.

Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container.

To warm, nuke tortillas in the microwave, or wrap in foil and warm in the oven.

Helpful tips:

* Make sure the water you pour in is very warm.
* Allow the dough to rest, both after kneading and after forming into balls.
* Roll out very thin.
* Get the heat right on your stove: Too hot, and the tortilla will burn in spots. Not hot enough, and the tortilla will begin to crisp before you can get it to brown. I get my stove between medium and medium high heat; that seems to do the trick.
* Use a dark griddle or cast iron skillet to brown the tortillas.
* Cook just long enough to lightly brown the tortilla in spots; don't cook too long or tortillas will crisp. You want them to be soft and pliable when you serve them.
* Finally: Have fun! And enjoy them. They're absolutely scrumptious.

Friday, January 10, 2014

CPR Refresher Course

Yesterday, I had the chance to complete a refresher course on CPR. It has been several years since my last course and 26 years since my EMT training. The course covered pretty much all that I remembered, including chocking and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device. The only difference was the inclusion of hands only CPR and the introduction of the song, Staying Alive, which we were told if we gave CPR to that rhythm that that pace would be enough pace in order to help.

Maintaining a level of knowledge about safety and basic life support is very important because in the event of an emergency, when your body is stressed, you will default to your level of training and practice.

According to the American Heart Association, 75-80% of all sudden cardiac arrests happen at home, so don't forget to share that knowledge with your family, so they can assist you in the event of an emergency.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Prepper Christmas - Conflicted: The Survival Card Game

For Christmas we as a family don't focus on gifts, but on the greatest gift that is Jesus. Usually, we give each other inexpensive gifts that we think would be useful for the other person.

This past Christmas, I was fortunate enough to receive something that I've wanted since hearing and reading about it. It's a game called, "Conflicted: The Survival Card Game" and it's  tough, thought provoking and fun.

Conflicted: The Survival Card Game is a post apocalyptic scenario game that was developed for preppers. The game comes in a plastic case and consists of 52 cards along with 2 two cards.

According to the web site, here are 10 reasons to purchase the game:

  1. It opens up in depth discussions regarding what kind of world we’ll live in after the collapse of society.
  2. It shows to you where others in your group draw the line between their will to live vs their own morals.
  3. It helps you create a mutual understanding among the members of your bugout group when it comes to who’s more suitable for what role after the collapse of society.
  4. It helps you discuss with significant others what kind of survival philosophy your camp will have after the collapse and why that philosophy is important.
  5. The game will raise an awareness regarding other areas of prepping that perhaps you didn’t think about.
  6. Practice your barter, negotiating and leadership skills to perfection on the subjects that matter most.
  7. Conflicted: The Survival Card Game is like a mirror that exposes your real survival philosophy to yourself.
  8. Over 50 scenarios that will reveal how unprepared emotionally humanity really is to the collapse of modern civilization.
  9. See what other preppers all over the world think a post apocalyptic society will be like, as they submit scenarios and we publish more decks periodically. Have a way to bring this knowledge to your bugout group.
  10. It exposes who the true leader of your bugout group really is. Hope you and your group can handle that….

The creators of the game say that its to educate, entertain and inspire people and I agree, but I would also add challenge. I had read through some of the cards and knew that I liked the game, but wasn't sure how others would react.

I brought the game to a small group function and showed it to a friend of mine who I knew was interested in survival/doomsday themes. He looked at it several times with great interest, reading the rules and thumbing through the deck, finally asking anyone if they wanted to try it. After he and I explained what the game was about, we played a few rounds.

I have to say that I was surprised to see that there were non-prepper-types that were interested in playing and the game took off.

As players received their information from the card and explained their logic and reasoning, a lot of discussion took place. During this time, we learned a lot about each other and the extents that people will go to protect and provide for themselves, their friends and their families.

As a group we decided to host a follow-up "apocalypse party", which I am hoping will provide another avenue to speak with people about prepping.

This is a highly recommended game as a great way to facilitate discussions as well as gauge likemindedness on survival topics. It will challenge you in a fun way and allow you to gain insights to others and their survival philosophies.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Proper Preparedness Pays Off

Today is January 7, 2014 and it's 0° on our back porch. Our phone Internet and cable TV are out, which is not a really bad thin, since it gives one other (more important) things to do.

This was the second in what has been a small series of events to test our preparednessss. It's the first event that I would like to address.

Last night we had company (our oldest daughter's boyfriend). With no warning, our power went off. Immediately, the kids sprang into action. With the whole house in darkness, someone grabbed an emergency flashlight that was illuminating the kids hallway. After making sure that everyone was OK and accounted for, I went to grab the flashlight in my hallway as our youngest boy was on his way to get our "Lights Out Kit". Our oldest daughter took her little sister (who was scared) to be with my wife in our room.

We broke out out "Lights Out Kit", which is essentially a Wal-Mart tote, labeled and kept in a location that everyone in the family knows.

Inside the kit are flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, lighters, extension cords, light sticks, electronic camping lanterns, and several battery powered radios with AM/FM, weather and shortwave frequencies.

We then distributed flashlights to all of the people in the house and got our oil lamps from a hutch in the dining room, lit them, placed them in the living room, where there was also a fire going. We then had a quick family meeting laying down our action plan which was who was going to do what along with some safety procedures such as no one goes outside without a partner, etc. Following this, two of us went (cautiously) outside to size up the extent of the problem, which looked to be impacting our entire neighborhood.

After all that, we broke out our Family Disaster binder, which among other things has the contact information for the electric company. We called the electric company to report the outage and with noting left to do, my youngest son and I went outside to check our "light discipline" to see how much light was "leaking" from the house. This is not a big problem in this situation, but in a larger one, having the only house with some form of lighting may make one a target.

After rejoining the others in the living room, we broke out a game called Apples to Apples and played until the lights came on.

Our daughter's boyfriend was eager to help the whole time, but there was really nothing else to do. As we were going through the outage, I explained to him what we were doing, what the kit was, what our Preparedness Plan was, etc. so he would be aware and maybe be able to bring back some information and preparedness planning to his family.

Lessons learned:
  • We need more emergency flashlights (the ones that come on in a power outage) around the house. We used to have more, but they were never replaced as they died.
  • We need more lamp oil and wicks. Although we were fine and do have some spares, thoughts go though ones mind about what would happen in a much longer outage.
  • Having others witness your plan during an event is a great way to positively spread the message of preparedness.
  • When you step up to lead in an emergency, other see that you know what to do and will follow the plan.
I hope reading this helps you to think more about preparedness!