How to Start Preparing for Hard Times
Copyright © February 10, 2010 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
on a Very Modest Budget:
All Rights Reserved.
The following information was presented during a two-hour talk radio talk show on the Texas Broadcasting Network on February 11, 2010.
Nobody knows how the future will unfold. And that includes myself.
Next month may be the same as this month, or it may be a lot better, or it may be a lot worse. There is no way to know what next month will bring until it actually gets here.
Therefore, it would probably be a good idea to have a variety of contingency plans instead of simply believing in one and only one possible future.
For example, it would be sad if you invested your life savings in preparing for an "end-of-the-world event" only to discover that the world doesn't come to an end and that the economy slowly but gradually starts to improve.
On the other hand, it would also be sad if you didn't make a few simple inexpensive investments so your family could survive an "unexpected hard times event" with the least amount of discomfort. That is the purpose of this article. This article will review a few basic things a person could do prior to an actual hard times event so his or her family could survive an unexpected hard times event and be in a better position to have their lives return to "normal" after the event has passed.
With this in mind the following topics will be discussed one at a time:
- Where to Start When You Don't Have Much Money
- Safety Is More Important Than You Think.
- Water: A Simple Solution.
- Food: A Simple Solution.
- Fire and Why It Is So Important.
- Personal Hygiene and Clothing.
- Emergency Backpack or Suitcase.
- Other Really Useful Items.
- Where Will You Live?
- Always Have a Backup Plan.
- Secrecy and Other People.
- Things to Avoid.
On February 11, 2010 we were only able to discuss the first four topics in the above list.
A complete summary of those four topics is included below.
When I return to speak again at a future date I will continue to discuss the other topics in the above list and then I will add a summary of that information onto this web page.
I Don't Have Much Money and
Do you remember the moral of Aesop's Fable of "The Race between the Turtle and the Rabbit?"
I Really Don't Know Where I Should Start
The moral of the story was: "Slow and steady wins the race."
But how does that moral apply to preparing for hard times?
The answer is simple:
For example, you could design a hard times survival plan that was customized for your family's specific needs by doing the following:
- Relax. Don't panic.
- Avoid impulse purchases motivated by fear.
- Relax. But don't procrastinate. Start today.
- Start by making a plan and then gradually and systematically work your plan.
- In other words, proceed at a slow but steady pace.
- Start with a very brief list of the most important broad categories of things your family would need to survive a hard times tragedy event, such as water, food, and clothing.
- Under each broad category add a more detailed list of the things you would like to have within that category. This is a wish list. Don't be ashamed to add things to your wish list. You can prune your list later.
- Do a little internet window shopping and find out where you could buy each item on your list along with its price at each internet store. Make sure you copy and save the internet address of each store you visit in a special file so you can find that store again later if you decide to buy something from them.
- Carefully analyze your list and prioritize your spending.
- Don't go overboard in a single category. In other words, if you really like clothes then don't invest every spare dollar you have in clothes. If you really like firearms then don't invest every spare dollar you have in firearms. Instead systematically make investments in all of the major categories as money becomes available.
- Take the time to carefully think about each of your purchases before you invest your money.
Safety is More Important Than You Think
Remember your primary objective is to survive a hard times tragedy event and live to a ripe old age.
This objective can be achieved if you will be extra careful whenever you are trying to learn a new skill, and whenever you are trying to learn how to use any type of equipment you have never used before.
For example, most of the following accidents could be avoided if you first take the time to learn and follow the appropriate safety rules:
Safety is always important but it is of critical importance during a hard times event because professional emergency medical care may not be immediately available. Therefore, always begin by learning and practicing all the relevant safety rules for whatever you are attempting to do.
- Buying some basic hand tools you have never owned or used before, including a hammer, and then severely smashing your thumb the first time you use the hammer.
- Buying your very first firearm and then accidentally shooting yourself or someone in your family.
- Trying to learn how to sharpen a knife using a sharpening stone and then accidentally slicing a huge piece off one of your fingers.
- Buying your first chain saw so you can cut your own firewood and then you become permanently crippled by an accident that could have been avoided if you had just taken the time to receive some proper training in the safe way to use a chain saw.
The following two universal safety rules are always important but they are even more important during hard times:
- Always wear safety glasses. Your eyes are too important to your survival to lose one or both of them. Therefore during a hard times tragedy event always wear safety glasses, even when you are just sitting down and doing nothing. You can purchase a good pair of safety glasses for less than $5 at almost any store that sells hand tools. Aren't your eyes worth a simple $5 investment?
(Note: On two different occasions during my life I have had an extremely tiny object embed itself in one of my eyes. The object was so small that I couldn't see it in a mirror but it was very uncomfortable and my eye watered continuously. On both occasions I tried flushing the object out but it was embedded and it would not come out. I had to visit an eye doctor and have my eye numbed while he located the object and then extracted it. The first time I was outdoors and a sudden strong wind blew the tiny object into my eye. The second time something heavy fell on the ground beside me and the impact sent a tiny object flying upwards into my eye. Both of these painful experiences could have been avoided if I had been wearing safety glasses.)
- Be careful when lifting or moving anything bulky or heavy. Don't injure your back and then live in pain for the rest of your life. My father was in the Accident Insurance Business for thirty-years and he told me that one of the most common accidents was when a woman who was at least 40 years old attempted to move or rearrange a mattress on a bed. The mattress was too big to get a good grasp on it and the lady would bend over into a really bad lifting position and then throw her back out of alignment. You can avoid a similar injury by learning the basic rules about how to lift things using your legs instead of your back, and then not lifting anything that is too heavy or too awkward to be easily moved by one person.
Water: A Simple Solution
The vast majority of the people in the United States really don't appreciate how important water is to their daily lives. However, if their normal supply of water suddenly becomes unavailable due to an unexpected hard times event then they quickly become aware of something that almost everyone else in the world already knows:
If you have ever watched the T.V. news coverage of an area that had been unexpectedly devastated by a hard times event then you may have noticed that people have fought and killed one another over water. Since most people in the United States have never been on the edge of death due to water dehydration they can't understand how people could do such things and they write it off as being something that could only happen in a third world country. But they would be wrong. If any area here in the United States was deprived of fresh drinking water for more than three days then you would see people here in the United States fighting and killing one another over water.
- Without water a person will gradually dehydrate and die in about three days.
Therefore a smart person would figure out how to provide his or her family with a continuous supply of fresh drinking water before a hard times event disrupted their normal supply of drinking water.
A simple solution to the water issue is intuitively obvious if you will just think about the following facts:
Therefore, instead of going to get water and then bringing that water back to your home may I humbly suggest a more practical solution:
- Water is very heavy. One gallon of water weighs about 8.5 pounds inside a thin-walled clear plastic water jug.
- Going back and forth to a water distribution site will consume a lot of your time every day.
- If you have to carry water by hand then you will exhaust yourself each day just providing water for your family to drink.
How can this be done? By collecting rainwater each time it rains.
- Let the water come to you.
The easiest way to capture rainwater is to use heavy-duty tarps. Heavy-duty tarps can be purchased at almost any store that sells camping supplies, including your local Walmart store. These tarps come in a variety of sizes but the most practical sizes for rainwater collection are the 9-foot by 10-foot tarp (about $12) up to the 10-foot by 12-foot tarp (about $14). Smaller tarps will not capture enough rainwater and larger tarps are too difficult to use.
You will also need some strong nylon or polypropylene cord or twine to secure the grommets in the outside edges of the tarps to some nearby objects or a building so the tarp will hang down in a "U" or "V" shaped pattern from side to side and with the rear of the tarp about one-foot higher than the front of the tarp. Place a large clean empty plastic tote container at the front end of the tarp at the center of the "V" to catch the rainwater as it pours out the front end of the tarp.
As a practical example, if it rains one-inch and you have the tarp arranged in a "U" or "V" shape then:
For planning purposes you will need approximately one-gallon of water per day per person. This is enough water for drinking and for brushing your teeth. It is not enough for cooking, or bathing, or washing the dishes, or doing the laundry. These activities will require significantly more water.
- A single 9-foot by 10-foot tarp will collect approximately 50 gallons of rainwater.
- A single 10-foot by 12-foot tarp will collect approximately 70 gallons of rainwater.
You should have enough drinking water for each member of your household to last at least 30-days.
Rainwater is safe to drink if you can catch it before it comes in contact with anything else. In other words, if you stand outside with your mouth open and the rain falls straight down from a cloud in the sky into your mouth then you could swallow that water and not worry about getting sick (assuming the air was not full of smog or something else).
However, if the water makes contact with anything else, such as the leaves on a tree, then you will need to process that water before you drink it.
There are also several other factors that may force you to process your rainwater before you can drink it. Some examples would be:
If any of the above events occurs then it would not be safe to drink rainwater until after you have filtered it.
- A limited nuclear war anywhere on the face of the earth. The tiny nuclear particles can travel extraordinary distances after they have entered the upper atmosphere.
- A volcanic explosion that pumps huge amounts of volcanic debris into the upper atmosphere.
- A small meteor that hits the earth and sends huge amounts of debris into the upper atmosphere.
The simple inexpensive solution to the water filter problem would be to purchase one good quality gravity water filter. A good quality water filter will process about 10,000 to 12,000 gallons of water before it wears out if you pre-filter the water through a clean cloth before putting it through your water filter. One good water filter will provide about 7 or 8 gallons of drinking water each day.
If you were to pay 80-cents per gallon for drinking water then 10,000 gallons of water would cost you $8,000 before tax.
Or you could invest approximately $45 in a brand new good quality water filter and process all the rainwater your family will need for several years. And instead of having to travel to some distance location to get your water you could let the water come to you each time it rains.
The choice is yours. You could pay $8,000 for water that you have to go and get, or you could pay $45 for 10,000 gallons of water that is delivered to your home.
The type of water filter I recommend is the "replacement" filter that you would install in a $250 to $350 gravity fed water filter system such as the British Berkefeld or the AquaRain. If money is not an issue then you could buy one of these complete systems. But if you need to be very careful about how you spend your money then all you really need is one replacement water filter for about $45. One water filter will process about 10,000 gallons of water at a rate of approximately 7 or 8 gallons per day.
When you order your water filter please be sure to specifically request that they ship the filter with a new "O" ring and a new "wing nut" for the bottom of the filter. With a new water filter, and an "O" ring seal, and a "wing nut" you can install your filter on anything that will hold at least one-gallon of water, and is also at least as tall as the filter itself. For example, you could install a water filter in a food grade 5 or 6 gallon plastic bucket, or a plastic tote container, or an empty one-gallon plastic water bottle (after you cut the top off the bottle). The container must have a flat bottom surface at the position where you will install the water filter. Simply drill a one-half inch diameter hole in the bottom center of the container and then put the "O" ring tight against the filter on the inside of the container and then screw the "wing nut" to the filter on the outside of the container. Then put the modified water filter container over another clean container that will catch the filtered water and fill the water filter container with water. Then relax and wait for gravity to move the water through your water filter into the lower container.
If you are filtering out radioactive particles then position your water filter system far enough away from your living quarters so the tiny radioactive particles that will get trapped inside the water filter cannot slowly poison your family members. Radiation only kills living organisms. It does not kill non-living things such as water or canned food. However, if you ingest water or food that contains radioactive particles then you will get sick and eventually die. However, if you remove the radioactive particles from the water then the water will be safe to drink.
One cheap way to store water is to use clean empty 2-liter soda bottles, or to use clean empty large heavy-duty plastic tote containers. Please remember that water is very heavy so please don't try to move a heavy plastic tote full of water. You could easily injure your spinal column. If you must move the water then move it a few gallons at a time by transferring it with cook pots to the new location.
One quick final comment about water: your body needs water in order to digest food. Therefore if you don't have any water then don't eat.
Food: A Simple Solution
After you have established a dependable continuous supply of water, the next thing your family will desperately need will be food.
The simple solution to the food problem would be as follows:
Before discussing the above topics in more detail let me first make the following general comments about food:
- Purchase and store some inexpensive highly nutritious food that has a shelf life of twenty-years or more.
- Learn how to grow your own fruits and vegetables from seed.
- Learn how to use snares and steel traps so you can catch wild game animals.
- Learn how your ancestors preserved their summer food harvest for winter consumption the "free way" before the invention of electricity and canning jars.
Now let's examine some specific foods that have a shelf life of twenty-years or more if properly packaged and stored:
- Taste is a very personal experience and two people in the same family can have completely different opinions about the same exact food item.
- Before investing in a food item (or a specific brand name) that your family has never eaten before, always buy one of that food item and give everyone in your family a chance to taste it to determine if it is acceptable to them.
- To significantly extend the shelf life of your food always store your food in a dark, cool, dry place at a temperature between 40 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To significantly extend the shelf life of your food you should vacuum seal your food inside a vacuum bag using an ordinary vacuum food sealer. This will be discussed in more detail later in this article.
Vacuum Food Sealer:
- Mainstay brand lifeboat ration food bars:
Mainstay food bars are sold in the following two sizes:
Although I personally enjoy the taste of these food bars I have discovered that some people do not like their taste. Therefore you should only buy one package and then give each member of your family one food square from that package to taste test. If your family finds the taste agreeable then you could consider making an investment in more of them.
- 2400 calories per package (6 square bars), and
- 3600 calories per package (9 square bars).
One internet store that sells the Mainstay Food Bars is:
The reasons I recommend the Mainstay Food Bars is because they have all the following advantages:
- They are vacuum sealed for long term food storage. They have a "best if used by date of five years" but this assumes worst case adverse storage conditions such as inside the back of a truck where the temperatures can range from below freezing to well above 110 degrees. If they are stored in a temperature controlled environment between 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit then their shelf life will be a lot more than five years.
- They are ready to eat right out of the package.
- They contain a wide assortment of necessary vitamins.
- They are not thirst provoking.
- They are relatively affordable on a per calorie basis ($7 per 3600 calories).
- They are relatively small and can be easily taken with you if you are forced to abandon your home.
- Wheat Berries:
During a hard times event the one food item that the average person will miss the most will be wheat. Wheat can be used to make flour and flour can be used to make bread, biscuits, rolls, bagels, pancakes, waffles, pizza, cookies, donuts, pasta, cakes, and sandwiches.
I recommend the Golden 86 in a six-gallon pail. This type of wheat is closer in flavor to the average bread that most people in the United States now eat.
A six-gallon pail of wheat berries will cost about $72 (which includes the shipping fee) and a six-gallon pail contains about 72,000 calories.
One internet store that sells white wheat is:
The wheat is vacuum sealed inside a mylar bag and then sealed inside the six-gallon pail. Therefore the shelf life of the wheat inside one of these pails will be more than 30 years.
You will also need a hand-operated wheat grinder.
Unlike some of the other food items, if a hard times event does not force you to eat your wheat berries, then your wheat pails can be an investment that you can pass on to your children and grandchildren.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil:
Unlike other cooking oils and shortenings, extra-virgin olive oil really does have an indefinite shelf life if properly stored.
If you have wheat then you will need some type of oil or shortening in almost every recipe in which you use wheat.
Oil may be successfully substituted for shortening in many recipes.
Extra-virgin olive oil is extremely high in calories.
- Baking Soda, Corn Starch, and Cream of Tartar:
Baking powder or yeast will cause your bread to rise when you bake it.
But both baking powder and yeast have relatively short shelf lives.
The good news is that you can make your own baking powder as follows:
Baking soda, corn starch, and cream of tartar have an indefinite shelf life if properly stored.
- 1 part baking soda.
- 1 part corn starch.
- 2 parts cream of tartar.
- Mix together to make fresh baking powder.
However, after you mix them together a slow chemical reaction begins and the shelf life of the resulting baking powder is much less.
Therefore make your baking powder as you need it and do not make more than you will need in a specific recipe.
- Morton Canning and Pickling Salt (pure salt with no extra ingredients):
Have you ever heard the expression "Are you worth your salt?" and then wondered what it meant?
In olden days salt had to be transported long distances and it cost a lot of money.
Therefore, in addition to a regular wage, a person also received a small ration of salt every day.
Without that daily ration of salt a person's health would gradually start to decline.
Therefore it became important that a person "earn his salt" every day.
Salt is one of the ingredients the human body needs to maintain long-term good health.
Most people in the United States don't need any extra salt if they are eating commercially processed foods because those foods already contain salt.
On the other hand, fresh vegetables and fresh meat and fresh home baked bread don't contain any salt.
And the taste of fresh vegetables and fresh meat and fresh bread won't taste right to the average person if you don't add a little salt.
Salt helps to extend the shelf life of foods.
Salt helps to prevent the growth of harmful micro-organisms.
During a hard times event salt may become very difficult to acquire and it may once again become a very precious commodity.
However, at the current time you can buy a four-pound box of "Morton Canning and Pickling Salt" for about $1.20 before tax.
Salt has an indefinite shelf life if properly stored.
- Black Peppercorns:
Pepper is a seasoning that you may or may not miss depending on your own taste preferences.
Peppercorns have a very long shelf life when compared to ground black pepper.
Tone's brand black peppercorns can be purchased at most Walmart stores for less than $4.00 per nine-ounce jar.
You will also need a pepper grinder.
- Enriched White Rice:
White rice has a shelf life of 30 years or more if properly stored.
A ten-pound bag of white rice can be purchased for approximately $6.00 and a ten-pound bag contains 15,000 calories.
White rice is a high calorie complex carbohydrate.
White rice goes well with almost any meal.
To prepare white rice all you need is some clean water to boil it in.
The major shortcoming of white rice is that it can become a very boring side dish if eaten too often.
The easy way to overcome the boredom problem is to download and print the white rice recipes on my web site.
- Complete Meals in a Single Can:
Most canned foods will be edible far beyond their printed "best if used by date."
However, the actual shelf life does depend on what is inside the can. You will need to do a little internet research to determine the shelf life of the canned foods your family prefers.
I personally recommend the following canned foods because each can is a complete meal by itself and it contains meat and some type of vegetable:
- Armour Brand Beef Stew: a 24-ounce can costs about $2.30 and has 630 calories (meat, potatoes, carrots, and gravy).
- Van Camps Brand Chili With Beans: a 15-ounce can costs about $1.25 and has 700 calories (meat and beans and seasonings).
- Chef Boyardee Brand Pasta with Meat (Spaghetti, Ravioli, etc.): a 15-ounce can costs about $1.00 and has about 500 calories (pasta, meat, and tomato sauce).
- Sugar or Honey:
Both sugar and honey have an indefinite shelf life if properly stored.
Both may be used in recipes to produce a sweet treat.
However, honey should not be given to babies or young children because their immune systems are not fully developed.
If you have babies or young children you should store pure cane sugar instead.
Vacuum seal the sugar yourself.
- Miniature Tootsie Rolls (chocolate):
Most people will miss chocolate.
Chocolate is referred to as a "comfort food" during a hard times tragedy event.
400 tootsie rolls can be purchased for less that $5 at many stores.
Remove the tootsie rolls from the big bag and seal them in quantities of approximately 100 in vacuum food bags.
During a hard times event your daily meals may not contain the balanced nutrition that your body has become accustomed to.
Therefore to maintain good long-term health it would be nice if you had some complete multivitamin tablets.
The shelf life of multivitamins can be extended by removing them from their original container and vacuum sealing them inside a storage bag.
Many of the above foods can be protected from insects, oxygen, and humidity by sealing them inside vacuum seal bags.
Vacuum sealing will also significantly extend the shelf life of some foods because you eliminate the oxygen and the humidity that can gradually destroy the food.
If you use vacuum sealed storage bags you will not need to purchase any of the "oxygen absorber packets" because the vacuum sealing process will remove all the oxygen from inside the specially designed bags.
A cheap good quality food vacuum sealer will cost about $40 and a two-roll box of vacuum seal bags will cost about $22.
If you buy the 11-inch wide rolls that are 16-feet long then you can cut individuals bags from the roll to the exact length you need.
Therefore there will be very little waste because:
Immediately after you vacuum seal an item inside a vacuum storage bag use a medium tip permanent black magic marker to write a brief description of the contents on the top of the bag and the date you sealed the bag, such as:
- You won't need to seal a small item inside a large bag, and
- You can seal the foods in the quantities you think you will need so you can open one bag at a time and the rest of your food will remain fresh inside its own vacuum sealed bag.
16 ounces Pure Salt, Sealed Feb. 2010.
If you are sealing clothes to protect them from mold and mildew then you could write: Men's Jeans, Size 36x30, Sealed Feb. 2010.
Long-term Food Solution:
Regardless of how much food you have stored it will eventually run out.
When that happens you will need to provide your own food.
To provide your family with a balanced long-term diet of healthy foods you will need to learn how to:
To grow your own vegetables you will need some seeds, some good rich soil, some water, and lots of sun.
- Grow your own vegetables.
- Grow your own fruit.
- Trap wild game animals to provide fresh meat.
What you don't need is a late spring frost, or an early fall frost, or too much rain, or too little rain, or extremely high winds, or insects, or plant diseases.
Do not buy hybrid seeds. Most hybrid seeds are only good for one growing season.
Instead look for heirloom vegetable seeds or open-pollinated seeds.
Many of the heirloom vegetables have been popular with home gardeners since the mid to late 1800s.
Heirloom seeds will produce the same exact vegetable year after year after year if you will save the seed that is grown each year and plant it again the next year.
During a hard times event I suggest that you consider growing mostly root vegetables, such as beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, radishes, turnips, and peanuts.
The edible part of a root vegetable grows below ground and it is therefore invisible unless you know what is growing below the vines or leaves you see on top of the ground.
Beets: Select a variety with edible green tops and edible beets. You can usually harvest the green tops several times during the growing season without hurting the beet below ground. This is a significant advantage during hard times because your body will crave fresh green leafy vegetables.
Sugar Beets: Regular beets have about 6% sugar but the special sugar beet has between 14% to 20% sucrose sugar. You can extract the sugar from these beets and make a sweet sugar water or a sugar syrup and you can still eat the beet that remains in the cook pot.
One internet store that sells Sugar Beet Seeds is: http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/beet_sugar.html
Peanuts: Peanuts are a good choice because you can eat them fresh and you can easily make your own peanut butter using an ordinary food blender if you have a little vegetable oil or olive oil. Peanuts are annuals, self-pollinating, but only plant one variety per year. Peanuts grow in clusters underground. When the above ground leaves turn yellow, dig up the entire plant and store indoors for an additional four weeks in a cool, dry area. Leave the peanuts inside their shells until you are ready to eat them or use them for seed. If you shell them for seed, be very careful to not break or tear the pink paper thin seed coat around the peanut. Plant the peanut inside its thin seed coat for the best germination results. Plant the peanut between 1.5-inches to 2-inches below the top of the ground in soil that you have dug and loosened. You will need a 12-inch diameter wide hole about 18-inches deep for each peanut so the peanut plant can easily grow underground to its full size. Dig the hole, replace all of the dirt in the hole, step on the dirt to pack it down, and then dig a small hole no deeper than 2-inches for the peanut. After planting the peanut, cover the peanut with dirt, and step on the dirt above the peanut to drive out any air. Then water the ground and wait.
Red Skin Potatoes: Remove one red potato from your next bag of red potatoes and save it and wait for it to grow sprouts about one-inch long. Cut off about 1/2 inch of the potato with the sprout. If there are more than 3 sprouts at one small spot on the potato then break some of them off the potato. Let the cut sprout "harden" in the air for two days. (Note: You can eat the rest of the potato after removing the sprouts.) Place the cut sprout cut side down about 4 inches above the bottom of a large deep planting pot and then cover it with about 3 more inches of dirt. When the green vine appears cover it with 2 inches of dirt. When the green vine reappears cover it with another 2 inches of dirt. Continue until you eventually reach the top of your planting pot. Water as necessary. When the top green vine dies wait 2 more weeks and then harvest the potatoes in your pot.
Stowell's Evergreen Corn: This is a white corn. You can harvest it before it fully ripens by pulling up the entire corn stalk with its roots still attached. Then store the entire corn stalk upside down in a cool indoor area. The corn will continue to gradually ripen and you can eat fresh corn on the cob every month for another 3 to 5 months.
One internet store that sells Stowell's Evergreen Corn is: http://www.seedsavers.org/Items.aspx?search=corn+seeds
Dent Corn: This is a special type of corn that is usually ground into corn meal that can be used to make a wide variety of tasty things such as corn bread, hush puppies, nacho corn chips, and taco shells. There are a number of good varieties of dent corn, such as "Bloody Butcher" and "Reid's Yellow Dent," and you should purchase whatever appeals to you. The Reid's Yellow Dent corn may be eaten fresh when it is first harvested or it may be dried and then ground into corn meal.
Roma Tomatoes: The Roma tomato is excellent when eaten fresh and it can be made into a tomato paste, or tomato sauce, or it can be one of the major ingredients in a homemade Mexican salsa. Just visit your local grocery store and buy one fresh Roma tomato, slice it, and carefully pick out the seeds, and then eat the tomato slices. After you have dried the tomato seeds on a piece of paper you can plant them and you will have Roma tomatoes growing in your own backyard.
Spinach: Spinach may be eaten fresh, or it can be boiled, or its leaves may be dried and eaten during the winter months. Dried spinach leaves should be boiled in some water before eating.
Grape Vines: The two basic varieties are bunch grapes and muscadines. Grapes may be eaten fresh or the seedless grapes may be dried into raisins. Almost any type of grape can be made into grape jelly or fermented into a grape wine.
Seeds: Learn how to harvest, process, and store your own vegetable seeds so you can have fresh vegetables every year for the rest of your life.
You can begin now. You can experiment by planting one or two vegetables indoors in large pots in full sun in front of a window to gain some personal experience. You will learn when to add water. And you can practice saving your own seeds.
I personally do not recommend keeping any kind of farm animal, including chickens or rabbits.
If you live in an area where you can keep chickens and rabbits then your area also probably has a population of small wild game animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, and possums.
You should purchase at least three Conibear 220 and three Pan Traps.
You will also need to learn how to set your traps and how to gut and skin dead game animals.
You should also have a copy of some reasonable wild game recipes that do not require an extensive assortment of special herbs, spices, or other ingredients that you normally do not have in your kitchen pantry.
Hand Operated Meat Grinder:
You should also purchase a hand operated meat grinder. A hand turned meat grinder has the following advantages:
You will also need some meat seasoning tenderizer, some chili seasoning, some taco seasoning, some sloppy joe seasoning, and any other seasonings that your family normally enjoys.
- Converts tough cuts of meat and wild game meat into hamburger consistency.
- All red ground meat looks approximately the same.
- Ground meat will minimize the number of future complaints you will hear from your family.
- Ground meat is easier to use in a wider variety of recipes.
- Ground meat more easily and completely absorbs any seasonings you may have.
- Ground meat cooks faster and more thoroughly than thicker cuts of meat.
- Ground meat is easier for most people to chew and it is easier for most people to digest.
Learn how to dry your summer food harvest for winter consumption using the sun or a "solar oven."
Learn how to smoke meat inside a "smoke house."
Learn about "root cellars." A simple root cellar can be a 55 gallon food grade drum buried on its side between 1 foot to 3 feet below the ground depending on the average ground temperatures at your location.
You will need a good bread knife with a serrated cutting edge. A bread knife can be used to slice bread and almost anything else including some tough cuts of meat before you put the meat into a meat grinder.
That concludes my comments on the first four topics on "How to Start Preparing for Hard Times."
I hope that you found something of value in my comments that will prove useful to you in the years ahead.
Click on www.grandpappy.info/indexhar.htm for more Hard Times Survival Tips.
Click on www.grandpappy.info for Robert's Home Page.
Send e-mail to RobertWayneAtkins@grandpappy.info