FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Americans are about to feel the repercussions of some very bad decisions regarding our food supply. We no longer hear the praise of America as the “Breadbasket of the world” but rather the approaching grumble of hungry bellies. We now know that “globalization” includes the destruction of domestic farmers and the outsourcing of our primary food supply to foreign Trade Agreements and the nations they’re tethered to. Food has been turned into a tool of control!
I spent my entire childhood growing up with my Grandparents. They lived through the Depression and I watched the contents of our 60’X100′ garden end up in labeled canning jars that lined the shelves of our basement pantry. We didn’t grow potatoes, but my Grandfather did have a connection that hooked him up with 500 lbs every Fall. He had a similar relationship with the owner of a area orchard too. The freezer was filled with beef, venison, trout & cod that never saw the inside of a store.
My Grandfather told me many times….”The most defiant thing you can do to government is feed yourself.”
That being said…..There are only two ways to acquire food; you can grow/harvest it your self or you can buy it from someone that does. Then begins the task of carefully preserving and storing YOUR future food supply. This section will contain some of the fundamentals you should already be thinking about and attempt to quickly connect you with vital information and new resources to explore. PLEASE don’t be one of those people forced to get their food ration from the back of a government truck!
Before spending time on acquiring and preserving large volumes of food, we should acknowledge that there’s a massive army of four-legged invaders ready to destroy your investment and survival food. Protecting your food from insects and pests is absolutely essential and can’t be taken lightly. Several methods of dealing with most rodents and pests is summarized here, but I want to take a moment to break down my research on a primary pest control gun. Here’s what I found.
This isn’t going to be a discussion about firearms, it’s going to be about a tactical and specific use of pellet guns, from a preparedness perspective. Although there is a place for common rifles in dealing with large and dangerous mammals, I’m focusing on the discrete and effective elimination of common pests and small game hunting.
There are two basic types of precision high power pellet guns out there; PCP and break-barrel. Although PCP’s are extremely powerful and tout incredible velocities, I quickly ruled them out, for the purposes being considered. During a SHTF situation, the last thing you want is to be tied to a proprietary technology. PCP’s require recharging of compressed air and special equipment to continue operating.
Break-barrel technology has also come a long way. Unlike PCP’s, you never have to recharge the powerplant. It’s true that PCP’s can reach velocities that break-barrels can’t, there is no practical use for the excessive speed they tout and in fact works against them. Additionally, the added cost is money that could be used in more productive ways.
Two important things happen when a projectile breaks the sound barrier; 1) It’s loud because the pellet velocity exceeds the sound barrier which creates a sonic boom (about 1100 ft/sec) and 2) A projectile becomes unstable in flight which decreases accuracy. All things considered, I have two specific break-barrels to suggest you look at. The magnum is .22 Cal and my personal choice, but the Whisper Fusion (.177 Cal). also a sweet gun, is readily available at Walmart & Tractor Supply.
Gamo Swarm Magnum 10X GEN3i INERTIA FED .22 Cal.
Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1 .177 Cal.
TIP: Don’t use the lightweight alloy pellets they give you and are required to reach the velocities they claim. Buy heavier pellets! The heavier pellet will have more punch, shoot quieter and increase your accuracy by bringing the projectile down to subsonic velocities.
- Mouse/Rat Traps – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Standard Victory traps are perfect for the hard to reach places in your home. There’s no reason not to have a few dozen of these traps around.
- Hillbilly Mouse Trap – My personal record is eight mice in one night. This is a self-setting DIY mouse trap made from a beer can, a 5 gallon pale and a coat hanger (of course). I had great results coating the can with peanut butter and sprinkling wild bird seed on that. I used my fingers to apply the peanut butter to the can and then wiped my fingers off on the scrap board used as the ramp going to the top of the bucket. During the Winter months you’ll need to add environmentally safe antifreeze to the water in the bucket so it doesn’t freeze. Put them in and near all your out-buildings so as to start getting these rodents BEFORE they set up camp in your pantry.
- POISON – Don’t do it! Putting poison anywhere near your food supply is simply a bad idea. Moreover, you have no control over where the poison ultimately migrates to. For example, inside a dead rat in your drinking water well.
- Glue Traps – These are messy and leave the mouse alive and suffering until you dispatch it. It’s also a consumable that you may not be able to readily replace. They don’t work on larger rodents.
- Electronic Repellents – These devices don’t work nearly as well as advertised and you’re also limited to only areas of your property and outbuildings with available power. Power that you can’t depend on even being available.
- Snares – Snares have been around for a long time and quite diverse in their designs and applications. I should mention that snares are illegal in many states and they are very in-discriminant…it will kill a family dog just as it would a Coyote hunting your chickens. This isn’t a good idea for your primary defense against most routine pests. Just know that it exists and is a valid survival tool.
- Live-Traps – These work well for large rats and other mammals, especially as you get better at locating and disguising the trap. You’ll need a pellet gun to humanely dispatch the pest, while still confined in the trap. TIP: If you’re pest is a skunk, be mindful to not use a trap that’s too big and allows the animal to raise it’s tail. These traps come in a full array of sizes so use the right one for the right pest.
You can quickly locate organic farms, CSA’s & farmers markets close to you using this FARM LOCATOR.
GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD
Maintaining healthy and fertile soil, especially during a SHTF situation, is where the tires meet the road in terms of healthy plants and productive gardens. Unlike commercial agriculture, you’ll have the opportunity to customize your soil to meet the optimum conditions for your specific crops. Let’s get started…
- NUTRIENTS – The three primary nutrients are Nitrogen (N) / Phosphorus (P) / Potassium (K) which are required in relatively high concentrations by all plants. The ratio of each needed by your plants varies depending on what stage they’re in. Although I still use granular fertilizer occasionally, when I started mixing my own liquid fertilizer, it forced me to correct other biochemical and disease issues I had. Another added benefit is that it’s easy to store and doesn’t take up valuable space. I highly recommend that you try either FoxFarm or General Hydroponics liquid fertilizer. Both come as a three part system with easy mixing instructions based on what specific stage your plants are in. This is where your plants will love you for adding CalMag which provides essential less common nutrients and enhances disease resistance. There are also a variety of micro-nutrients that are required by plants, but in much lower concentrations. However, just because only a small amount is needed doesn’t mean the plant will survive without it. The good news is that plenty of organic matter will provide everything your plants typically need. TIP: Soil microbes need love too so drizzles a small amount of molasses in your liquid fertilizer mix too.
- ORGANIC MATTER (OM) – If you’re half-serious about growing a garden then you’ve already accepted the fact that you’ll be composted, which is where your garden’s organic matter will come from. Don’t assume your soil has enough OM just because it’s a dark color. Don’t skimp here. OM does several very important things in the soils near the root zones of your garden plants. OM contains biologically available nutrients AND soon-to-be available nutrients. It also absorbers large amounts of water and tends to retain / bind other nutrients. However one of the key benefits of plenty of OM is that many of the micro-nutrients needed by your plants is satisfied which yields healthy disease resistant plants. Starting and maintain a productive compost pile isn’t too difficult. Either get a good reference book on composting so you know what can be composted and how or collect that information from online research. There’s really only one tool that I can say is worth having. Compost piles don’t just sit there; they cook. When the internal temperature gets low it usually means there’s not enough water or the pile needs to be rolled to introduce new raw material to where the microbes are. Using a soil & compost temperature probe takes all the guess work out of knowing when to flip your compost piles. All cheap general use probes are typically way too short and the actual probe is flimsy and easy to bend / break. REOTEMP makes a 24′ compost temperature probe that actually has the optimal and marginal temperature ranges right on the gauge and the shaft of the probe is about twice the thickness of the others. Rugged and dummy-proof.
- pH – To be perfectly clear, pH has a great deal to do with whether a plant nutrient is biologically available or not. For example, if your soil pH is too low (acidic), you could dump a truck load of phosphorus on your garden and the plants will NOT take it up through their root system. You need to know what your soil pH is and you also need to make sure your fertilizer mix is adjusted for pH as well. Most plants like it between 5.5 and 6.5 for optimal growth and health. To raise soil pH you can amend your soil with garden lime, Dolomite, or wood ash and if you need to lower the pH you can amend the soil with sulfur, peat moss, or evergreen OM. General Hydroponics also makes a very handy pH Test Kit that can not only test but also adjust the pH of your fertilizer mix. This same test kit can also be used to test your soil pH by mixing your soil sample with distilled water and then measure the water. TIP: If you don’t have a test kit but you do have vinegar and baking soda it is possible to estimate soil pH. Get two glass bowls and put one cup of soil in each with 1/2 cup of distilled water and mix into a slurry. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to one bowl and 1/2 of baking soda to the other and observe. If the vinegar bowl fizzes your soil is alkaline and it the baking soda bowl fizzes your soil is acidic. If it looks like a muddy bowl of slop without any fizzing your soil is close to neutral (pH 7’ish).
You really do have to put some thought and planning in to your garden(s) ahead of time. This becomes even more necessary when you add widespread unrest and disruption of public services to the mix. Gardens will likely be smaller, more discrete, spread around, and in containers. Let’s start planning a Victory Garden…
- ZONES – The United States has a wide range of growing seasons that range from the arctic conditions of Alaska to the tropical conditions of Florida and everything in between. Therefore many seed companies and the agricultural industry have adopted nationwide zones that delineate the 26 Hardiness Zones and the Average Frost Dates for your area.
- SUNLIGHT – The vast majority of the plants you select will thrive in full sun so take particular note of where/when shade and shadows pass through your yard or growing space. You simply have to site your gardens in those sunny areas. However all is not lost for those shady areas where removing trees and obstructions isn’t possible. This is where you should expand your search for food crops to those things that are shade tolerant like mint, chervil, chives, coriander / cilantro, oregano, parsley, leeks, onions, peas, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, collards, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, arugula, endive, lettuce, sorrel, & spinach. These plants can grow with as little and 4 hours of sunlight per day. TIP: Growing critical medicinal and nutrient dense plants in containers allows you to bring the plant to where the sun is.
- CROP SELECTION – Start by rounding up ALL of the GMO Frankenfruit seeds that are in your legal possession and cram them into a air-tight container. In the future, when growing gardens has been made illegal and government enforcement specialists show up at your door demanding all your garden seed…..give them that. Meanwhile, you’re not going to want to mess around with anything that isn’t heirloom. The seeds from many GMO vegetables will either 1) germinate, grow, but remain incapable of producing fruit or 2) will not germinate at all. ( See “Terminator Seed” and “Suicide Seed”). These items should be considered and treated like a biological contaminant. The crops that you do select should be done with both quantity and quality in mind. Reflecting on the Hardiness Zone you’re in, begin by filling your garden spaces with things known for high yields in your larger spaces and mixing in herbs and medicinals in the containers and smaller spaces. I highly recommend that you create a individual herb garden for each member of your family that is thoughtfully customized to include specific medicinal and nutrient-sense items that compliment each person’s unique health needs. Common drugs for major health ailments may NOT be readily available and there is almost always dietary changes that are know to remedy or improve those ailments. One of the best resources for the largest variety of certified heirloom seeds has got to be Seed Savers Exchange. They have a free catalog that you can request and order from without being a member. but membership is only $30 and you’ll get discounts on all your orders and free seed sample too. However, I found one of the greatest benefits of being a member happen to be the access to their forums. There was an incredible wealth of knowledgeable people interacting in there AND it didn’t take me long to make some connections that yielded countless direct seed-swaps by mail.
- WETLANDS – The areas immediately adjacent to inundated wetlands are known for being shady, damp, and slightly sloped. These areas have great potential and are very under utilized. Things like Elderberry, Ginseng, Highbush Blueberry, and many other edible things grow extremely well here. One of my favorite things to grown in these ares are Mushrooms. In fact, once you have them established in logs, it WILL begin to populate any wood chips you have nearby. Just select the particular mushroom you like, dry it out. and inoculate sawdust or wooden plugs and then place it into holes you drilled in any hardwood log. Mushrooms will continued to grow for as long as the log lasts.
- PERENNIALS – Think about where you can slowly mix in things you only have to acquire and plant once like Chives, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, and fruit trees.
- SPACE CONSIDERATIONS – If you have very limited space you should try to grow every vine vertically and never plant tall plants like tomatoes or corn where it will block sunlight to other plants. If you have unlimited space then go crazy. Get your family / team together and lay out a solid plan that will multiply your individual efforts.
POISONOUS PLANTS & VENOMOUS ANIMALS
I have close to 30 different “Peterson Field Guides” but this was one of the first field guides that I bought. The reality is that you can eat almost anything but it’s the things that will kill you we need to readily identify.
NOTE: If you’re equally as interested in those plants that are poisonous as much as you are regarding plants that are medicinal then you’ll surely notice that the exact same plant identified as dangerous and “toxic” is also identified somewhere else as a medicinal plant. Toxicity does NOT work like a light switch whereby something is toxic or it is not. Toxicity is a function of dose. Water can be toxic; It is possible to ingest and absorb too much water. It just happens to be that water is significantly less toxic than wilted Cherry leaves for example. So to quickly put this in perspective….A plant with a elevated toxicity that is known to be medicinal (in small measured doses) will also make you very sick or kill you if eaten in large toxic doses.
There’s an amazing amount of information now available regarding the use of medicinal plants. Every individual should evaluate their existing health conditions and include all those herbal crops known to help in to their own personal herb garden. Don’t under estimate this. NOTE: Most modern medications are emulated from natural plant substances. I’m sure you’ll find the following references useful but please dig a little deeper and try to refine the list of potential plants native to YOUR state / region. Many states have Ag. Extension Service websites that publish lists of plants known to exist in the state.
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