Thursday, April 14, 2011

Baby Chicks - Again!

Last year, shortly after my heart surgery, I gave away (yes, gave away) all of our livestock. All the chickens, feeders, nesting boxes, lights, incubator and all the goats and their accessories. For those of you who have never had the mixed blessing of heart valve replacement, let me tell you in advance that it does strange things to your head and heart - not just in a physiological way. Anyway, I thought I wouldn't be able to care for them all properly, my husband was beginning to have his own heart issues so I just gave them all away to good homes.

Fast forward eight months. My heart surgery scars and new valve have healed. I feel wonderful - better than I have in years. My friends say I look more alive, more vibrant, ten years younger! It's spring! I can have a nice garden this year and I will have the health, energy and strength to plant and maintain it. So, much to my poor husband's amazement, I bought 8 baby chicks a couple of months ago. Six would have been enough, but I bought two extra "just in case". We had no problems or incidents with them at all, so "just in case" never happened and I now have eight beautiful young ladies, who I believe are Rhode Island Reds. Tractor Supply called the "red hens" and they should lay brown eggs.

Six, or rather eight, seemed like a good number. There are only the two of us. I am not planning to go into the egg business. These are eggs for our own personal supply, with maybe enough extra to put in the freezer. The goal is to be able to have nice, fresh, wholesome, healthy eggs and provide their food from here on our little farm, without buying feed. I used chick starter to get them going, but after that it has just been weeds from the garden and table scraps. They are thriving and happy.

My poor suffering husband has been busy in the last couple of days, building a chicken tractor that is big enough for the girls to be happy, and small enough for me to move around when the weather is nice. When it gets cold, the house will cozy up to my new kennel building, where I can just take 2-3 steps through my picket gate to care for them in the winter. I am pretty excited about this!

Watch over the next few days for pictures of the new chicken tractor!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Penny Saved...

Back in the day, people then known as survivalists used to talk about the things that were critical to survival. "God, gold & guns" was the motto. I never considered myself a survivalist, and I still don't. I thought of myself as a "homesteader", someone looking for a rural, self-sufficient lifestyle. We always had goats and chickens, sometimes pigs and other livestock. There are many folks - survivalists, homesteaders, and those who are now called "preppers" - who maintain this lifestyle and love it. We loved it - it's a good life. But it's also hard work, and when there are no children to share the load, it is sometimes grueling work. Neither my husband nor I have the strength or vitality that we did 20 years ago, and last year, we let all the livestock go. But still we keep a pantry. We don't do it out of fear. We do it out of love for our families. We do it so that if things get bad for whatever reason, food, warmth and shelter will be available for those we care about.

For us, and for most people in our families, buying gold is just not an option. But we can create a hedge around us by storing food, essential items that make life easier or more pleasant and some forms of precious metals (PMs). We like silver - junk coins and 1 oz rounds - because it is more affordable. Today, we saw a great video on something even more plausible for the average family - copper pennies and regular nickels.

Though it is illegal to melt down U.S. coins at this time, the value of copper in each penny is 3¢. That means every penny made between 1909 and 1982 is worth 3 times it's face value in copper. This makes having pennies with those dates a very inexpensive and "do-able" hedge against hyperinflation or dollar devaluation. Who among us doesn't have a penny jar?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Self-Sufficient Gardener blog

Don't we gardeners just love to dream about spring? I know I do, especially when there's snow on the ground! We didn't get as much snow as part of Virginia even 15 miles north of us, but we got enough to remind us that it is, really winter!

I found this great website this morning, full of good articles and helpful links. I especially liked the "Planting Calendar/Calculator. This neat little tool gives you all the dates to start indoor and outdoor planting according to your last frost date. Very handy! I am forever forgetting what to plant when - maybe this will help!

There is also a nice set of plans on this site for a fluorescent light rack for starting plants. We set outs on a table, which uses a lot of space. Maybe I have (yet another) project to keep my poor husband occupied over the winter!

Are you wondering how much to plant? If you are trying to grow a garden just for fun, it's not too important a question. But if you are trying to offset food costs or become more self-sufficient, how much to plant becomes a very important question. Lauren Ware, over at has a great atricle to get you started, along with links to planning charts, gardening articles and more.

Have fun planning on this wintry day and stay warm!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thinking About Spring

Spring is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. On days like today, when it is cold and dreary, I love to start planning my garden for the coming spring.

You know, I always tell everyone that they should keep a pantry. But the reality is that you cannot store enough food to feed your family forever. The pantry was the stop-gap measure between the abundance of fall and the starvation time of winter when nothing could grown. The pantry is the bandaid  used until the wound heals, be that wound from winter, job-loss, economic collapse or Lord knows what else. It was never intended to carry you forever.

So if the pantry is not suppossed to take care of you indefinately, it stands to reason that it should be able to care for you until you learn alternative ideas for food growing and processing, herbal medicine, etc. With that being said, this is a very good time to start thinking about planning your garden.

I buy seeds every year, but I also save seeds from plants I have grown the previous year. I seldom grow anything - flowers or vegetables - that  is a hybrid. I make a real efforr to grow only open-pollinated seeds, so that I can save the seeds from theose plants for the next years gardens.  Hybrid seeds are "one time growers " - open pollinated seeds can be saved and grown year after year.

Seeds have become quite expensive over the past couple of years, and they will continue to do so. I buy some from catalogs, but I buy a lot of seeds locally. I am especially fond of buying open pollinated seeds at the end of the season, when the seeds are 1/2 off or less. Seeds are dated for 1 year, but they actually are fine to grow for a long time after that with some basic care. You can just put the extra seed packets in a ziploc and freeze them and they will last several years. I would not spend any money at all on the "survival seed kits" you might see on the internet. You can easily buy all the seeds you need for a nice, simple, basic vegetable garden with some extra flowers for $20 or less, if you pay attention to prices.

Before you start buying seeds, think about how much room you have to plant. Will you plant in the ground  or in raised beds or containers? What kinds of vegetables do you like? Tomaotes, cucumbers, beans, corn, peas are all good staple vegetables and are very easy to grow. Will you be supplementing your food bill or will you want to grow enough to help fill your pantry?

There are a lot of really great older books available that are very helpful in discovering how to set up a garden. One of the most helpful books I've ever read is an very old book, originally published in the 1940's entitled "The Have More Plan". This great old book has really stood the test of time, ushering thousands of beginning gardeners and homesteaders into the basics of self-sufficiency. I have created a link on the right side of this gae where you can click and download a free copy. So download it, print it out if you'd like, and get ready for some fun reading. Have a great day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

National Sanctity of Life Day - Sunday Jan. 16th, 2011

This coming Sunday is National Sanctity of Life Day. How sad is it that we have to actually designate a day to consider the sanctity of life? According to Wikipedia,
"In a January 13, 1984 proclamation, President Ronald Reagan designated January 22, 1984 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The date was chosen to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalized abortions in the United States.[1]

Reagan issued the proclamation annually thereafter, designating Sanctity of Human Life Day to be the third Sunday in January, which represents the closest Sunday to the original January 22 date. His successor, George H. W. Bush, continued the annual proclamation throughout his presidency. Bush's successor, Bill Clinton, discontinued the practice throughout his eight years in office, but Bush's son and Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, resumed the proclamation, and did so every year of his presidency."

The great American statesman, Daniel Webster understood how important it is to us both personally and as a country to guard against haphazardly disregarding basic, decency and human values when in 1852, he warned,

"If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity."

Mr. Webster was not talking about pro-life choices - indeed, such a concept would have reprehensible for he and his colleagues to even consider. Yet we, as individuals and as a nation consider it daily.

In the United States, roughly 3550 abortions are performed  PER DAY. That is equivalent to 148 children per hour, 2 or 3 children per minute.. Honestly, look at your son, daughter, grandchild or even favorite niece, nephoew or adorable baby in the stroller at the park  ~ can you look that child in the eye and still claim that abortion is a better choice?

This is commmon decency, folks. Let's put an end to the selfishness of abortion and work together to help women find better and more humane alternatives.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Economic Precipice video

Here's a little more information, plus some commentary of Tim's letter to Harry.

Heads Up, Folks - Even Washington is catching On...

Do you have a pantry area yet?
Apparently, the brink of economic collapse is on the minds of Washington, as well as those of us who have been watching the economy, as Majority Leader Harry Reid made a request for Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner to look into the possible effects of default by the United States.

Last Thursday, Secretary Geithner responded with  4 page letter to Majority Leader Reid, outlining dire consequences in the even of US default and  insisting that Reid pursuade Congress to raise the ceiling for the statutory debt ceiling. I would expect that Congress will raise the debt ceiling,, just to keep the economy more or less functional as long as possible. However, doing this means that we will begin to print even more money, which in turn will mean that inflation will continue to rise.

Do you still find economic collapse to be unlikely? Here's a link to the actual letter from Tim Geithner to Harry Reid, dated last Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011.

Tim's Letter to Harry
Friends and family, sit down TODAY and make a list of what you think you may need to get through at least 6 weeks. Look at food, medications, cleaning supplies, paper wotels, toilet paper, laundry soap, batteries - everything.

Here's very good, basic tutorial, complete with Excel spreaaaadsheets, to help you get started.

3 Month Food Supply

Please take this seriously, folks. You cannot possibly loose anything by preparing. You could well loose everything if you don't.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Struggling with Normalcy Bias

Human psychology has always fascinated me. I love trying to understand why people act the way they do, especially if it makes no sense to me whatsoever. When someone is doing something crazy, it's always helpful to try and figure out which one of us is really off base. For many years, I've thought it was just me. My family background makes it totally appropriate for me to feel a need to garden, keep a pantry, prepare for the worst - be that snow, floods, or, well, economic collapse. For many years, my idea of economic collapse was losing my job or my husband needing a new transmission on the old John Deere!

So when I discovered this new term the other day, I was delighted to finally have a name for what I'd been seeing. The term is "normalcy bias". According to Wikipedia,

The normalcy bias refers to an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Well, shoot! The whole danged country's got normalcy bias!!! What was I thinking! It's NOT just me!

Okay, I know you're laughing. But look at these figures. This is not to spread gloom and doom, but to help you see what I am starting to see.

 *chart from Charlie McGrath's website,  Wide Awake News
Now, with those kinds of statistics, why in the world are we super-shopping at Wal-Mart? What in the world are we thinking? And right there, in the above paragraph in the answer - we're NOT thinking. We are walking way on the other side of the room, as far as we can get from the elephant in the corner, hoping someone else will figure out how to get him outside so we don't have to do it. We, my friends, are suffering from "normalcy bias".

So,  how do we learn to face what is happening around us?

1. Come to grips with the fact that our economic future is uncertain. Really, it has always been uncertain. A sudden illness, accident, job loss or other such circumstance could throw any family who is unprepared into chaos. The state of the economy is just another potential fire to put out.

2. Face the reality of your personal situation. Maybe you don't feel that you have enough money to buy precious metals, or even stock a pantry. Assess your financial and personal situation calmly and see what you do have in terms of assets and how you can best apply them to preparing for uncertainty.  Can you buy a few extra items to put in the pantry? Can you buy an ounce or two of silver every week? Start where you are with what you have. Try not to think about what has to be done - just think about what you can do, and remember, take baby steps.

3. As much as you can, over-prepare. Normalcy bias assures us that everything will be just fine. Perhaps, but I wouldn't bet my life or that of my family on it. A couple of bottles of water and some microwavable, off the shelf soups are not enough. But again, do what you can with what you have - any preparation is better than none.

4. Don't become obsessed with this. No matter what happens, it is not likely to be the end of the world.

Think of it this way - if a crisis comes - in whatever form - you're ready. If it never happens, you're ahead in terms of investments, money saved in food and so on. The sun will eventually come out again, no matter how long it rains!
Lighten up a little, but remember these predictions!

Top 10 Predictions for 2011

1.  The Bible will still have all the answers.
2.  Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth.
3.  The Holy Spirit will still move.
4.  God will still honor the praises of His people
5.  There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6.  There will still be singing of praise to God.
7.  God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8.  There will still be room at the Cross.
9.  Jesus will still love you.
10.  Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.  

Isn't it great to remember who is really in control, and that the Word of the Lord endures forever!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Grandma's Top 5 List of Things to do in 2011

"Grandma, all this stuff in the news makes me as nervous as a cat in a room full of rockin' chairs. What can we do to protect ourselves if things get really bad. I mean the news says everything's getting better, but a lot of our friends aren't able to find jobs and a lot of them are on food stamps. What can we do?"

Glad you asked, Honey! Here's my list of Grandma's Top 5 List of Things to Do in 2011

5.  Buy more canning jars and lids. The last time I checked, canning jars were still under $10 for a case of 12. No, this is not cheap. But yes, you will be happy to have them if jars become scarce - and they will. Even in the last couple of years, it is not uncommon for the big stores to run out of jars during canning season. They never go bad and if you are careful with them, they last a long time. Be on the lookout for used jars in excellent condition (no chips, cracks, dings) at yard sales and auctions. While you're at the auction, keep an eye out for good books on canning & preserving. Here's a link for a free e-book on canning & preserving to start your collection.

4. Grow a medicine chest of medicinal herbs in pots or in a raised bed.For some great ideas and free learning tools, click here:

The Herb Mentor

3. Start a vegetable garden. Yes, you can grow food anywhere, even if it means incorporating it into your landscaping. And if you don't have a place where you can plant an actual garden, grow some things in pots. It will make you feel good to nurture something and you will learn how to be a little less dependant of the grocery store.  Just beginning? Take a look at these e-books to get you started.

2. Buy silver. The spot price for silver as I write this is $29.64 per ounce. If you can only buy one ounce per month, buy it and put it away. One a week is better. Do not buy paper silver certificates - buy physical silver. If you can afford to buy gold, that is a good place to store wealth, but for everyday purchases, silver is the precious metal of choice.

1. Buy food. No matter how much money you have now, or think you may have later, if there is no food to be had, you'll still be hungry. Learn now how to stock a pantry.  Here's a helpful chart  to get you started.

We've touched on buying food for storage before in the blog, and we will cover all of these things in detail over the next few months. But time is running short. Some experts say 6 to 36 months. I read an article tonight that said March 2011 would be the beginning of the crash. March 1st is only 8 weeks away, friends. I'd rather be ready on March 1st and have nothing happen than keep procrastinating and be in really bad shape with no preparations made if ......

And if things improve, the sun comes out again and life is economically delightful, what have you lost? Not a thing, and you actually have gained skills, assets and the confidence to know that you have taken the steps you could take to protect yourself and your family from hurt & harm.

Not convinced? Take a few minutes and watch these videos.