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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

rivers at flood stage or flooding

Several Wisconsin rivers are at flood stage or experiencing minor flooding. Click here to see river levels.

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how does weather change affect you?

I know there are plenty of folks out there who don't believe that we're facing major climate change and even some scientists who forward the idea.

This post isn't intended to be a discussion of that, but rather a reporting of information from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service.

They have a recent article up about a report from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI).

Here is a portion of the article,

"Here are some of the potential impacts of continued changes in Wisconsin’s climate that WICCI working groups have identified:


—While longer growing seasons may help boost agricultural production, hotter summers could reduce yields of crops such as corn and soybeans.

–Warmer winters and longer growing seasons will also provide good conditions for pests and disease.

Public health and safety

–Summer heat waves will become more frequent and last longer.

–Accumulations of smog and ground-level ozone could pose more frequent air-quality hazards.

–Roads, bridges, and urban areas will face greater risk of damage from intense storms, with more heavy rain events overwhelming storm drains and sanitary sewers.

–Diminishing ice cover, changing water levels, and higher winds over the Great Lakes could increase shoreline erosion and risks to shoreline property.

Water resources

–Rising winter temperatures will continue to shorten the average duration of lake ice cover.

–More frequent heavy rains will wash polluted runoff into lakes, triggering more algae blooms and other water quality concerns, and affect the biological integrity of wetlands.


–Earlier onset of spring will alter relationships between plants and pollinators, affecting reproduction cycles.

–Some wildlife, fish, and tree species now at the edge of their biological ranges in Wisconsin may move out of the state, while species more tolerant of warmer temperatures will expand."

To read the entire article click here.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

making greek yogurt or yogurt cheese with powdered milk

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Monday, March 28, 2011

how to convince your significant other to prepare

photo credit - automaton_be on flickr

One of the most vexing problems that face preppers is having an unsupportive spouse or significant other. How do you cope with it and what can you do to convince him/her to come on board and get ready with you?

Here are some ideas that have worked for folks in the past:

- remind your SO of weather emergencies in your area and convince him/her to at least help your family prepare for those

- some folks find it helpful to show their SO government sites like Ready.gov and show the SO what FEMA recommends people do to be prepared

- another tactic is to use your local Red Cross or similar aid agency to demonstrate how a family ought to be prepared for emergencies

- try using economic conditions as a reason to prepare. Unemployment is up and so many people have lost their jobs. Having food stored and other items prepared can be a safety nest if there is a loss of income.

- it's tragic, but sometimes world events like earthquakes or tsunamis can provide incentive for people to get prepared. You might use news reports as a conversation starter to help your SO understand how prudent it can be to be prepared.

- explain to your SO how prepping can be a hedge against inflation. You can take advantage of low prices now to save money in advance of price increases.

- if you SO likes to shop sales, use that to your advantage. Encourage him/her to buy in bulk when items are on sale.

- you might talk about history or your own family history and how beneficial it was for people to have a preparedness mindset. Some historical times/events that are helpful in this conversation are the Great Depression, World War II rationing, and the Dust Bowl.

- use your SO's interests or hobbies as a way to help your family get prepared. Hobbies like gardening, woodworking, sewing, quilting, hunting, shooting, fishing, camping, etc. can all provide ways to help your family increase its preparedness levels.

- take a look at the distinct emergency preparedness conditions your family might face in your community. Do you have chemical plants nearby? If so, your family might be compelled to evacuate in case of a spill. This possible threat can be a great way to introduce having 72-hour kits or BOBs ready.

- remember that skills are as important as gear. If your SO isn't interested in setting aside the funds to gather the gear perhaps he/she is ready to build up skills. Don't discourage any interest he/she might have in becoming better prepared.

- if finances are the main concern, discuss with your SO ways to trim the family budget to free up some money for prepping or ways that you might be able to increase your family income in order to have the funds available for prepping.

What other strategies have worked for you? How have you been able to persuade someone reluctant to prepare to actually start preparing?

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Using powdered milk to make yogurt

Wondering what to do with that powdered milk in your food storage? How about making some yogurt.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

emergency or camping shower

When our family went on our week-long camping trip this past summer we enjoyed using our camping shower that we purchased from Cabela's. We have a nylon shower "tent", a cedar "floor", and a cool stainless steel tank that can be pressurized along with a sprayer.

While we were camping I was thinking we really ought to have a back-up shower, but they're pricey and it really doesn't fit into our family's budget right now.

While reading an update post at Adventures in Self Reliance they linked back to their post on constructing an emergency or camping shower. This is the perfect back-up system for us and I just had to share it with you.

It has a number of uses - even if you don't camp.

Have you ever have your city work on water pipes and were unable to shower because the water was turned off? If you store water you can heat some up and put it in your emergency shower and have a nice warm shower!

For those of you with electric hot water heaters - have you ever had a power outage and found that you only had cold water? With this emergency shower you can warm up some water (outside on your camping stove or inside if you have a natural gas stove) and have a nice warm shower using your emergency shower.

Anyway, you get the idea. I think every family ought to have an emergency shower - even if they don't camp!

(disclaimer - the links out to Cabela's are NOT associate links and I receive no compensation for using them. All links used in this post are just informational to assist the reader in understanding the topic.)
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creative ways to finance your prepping

photo credit - Civil Defense Museum

Many people delay getting started on their food storage and emergency preparedness purchases because they feel that they don’t have the money to do it. It doesn’t have to be purchased in one sweep, folks, and even the tightest budget will often give up a few pennies if you squeeze it hard enough.

1. Barter excess fruit from your trees or vegetables from your garden for foods you don’t grow yourself.

2. Barter labor for food.
a. Talk to a farmer to see if you can work in exchange for meat, eggs, milk, etc.
b. Most CSAs offer reduced prices in exchange for working on the farm.

3. Barter skills and services you have for food items. Some ideas – sewing skills, haircuts, woodworking, accounting/bookkeeping, computer programming, web design, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting, etc.

4. Ask neighbors and friends if you can harvest the fruit from their trees. Offer to give them a portion of the fruit that you then can or dehydrate.

5. Cook with fewer processed foods. Learn how to cook from scratch instead. Use the money saved toward long term food storage. (you’ll end up eating healthier in the long run, too!)

6. Eliminate a high cost low nutrition food from your budget (common items are soda pop, cookies, other snack foods) and use that money toward long term food storage.

7. Eliminate a restaurant trip and use that money toward long term food storage.

8. Reduce your entertainment budget (turn off the satellite or cable tv, eliminate a movie night, etc) and use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

9. Reduce your reliance on costly cleaning solutions and make cleaning solutions yourself with inexpensive ingredients such as castile soap, borax, vinegar, and essential oils. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

10. Watch the grocery store sales and be prepared to buy in bulk when prices are low.

11. Consider a bulk purchase with friends or family members to buy food at a lower cost. Repackage the foods to store in convenient sizes for your family.

12. Learn how to preserve food yourself – canning, curing & smoking, dehydrating, etc. Foods grown and preserved yourself are usually much less expensive than commercially prepared foods.

13. Eliminate out-of-season foods from your menus and use the savings toward long term food storage. Food is always cheaper when it’s in season because less of the price involves fuel costs.

14. Consider using cloth napkins, cloth kitchen wipes (substitute for paper towels), cloth diapers, etc. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

15. Turn down your thermostat or turn up your air conditioner by a degree or two. Use a programmable thermostat to lower it while you sleep and raise it when you awaken and most people hardly notice the difference. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

16. Switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

17. Hang your laundry outside on a clothesline instead of using your electric dryer. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

18. Buy used items instead of new. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

19. Eliminate that second (or third) car. Instead use public transportation, bikes, or walk. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

20. Instead of buying expensive baby foods consider making your own. A simple food processor or blender can create pureed foods for your baby. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

21. Shop around and see if you can lower the cost of your auto insurance. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

22. If your checking and savings accounts have associated fees, switch to no-fee accounts. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

23. Consider buying your meat in bulk by purchasing a side of beef or a whole hog. The price per pound is much lower than buying in small servings at a grocery store. Not only do you save money, but you also have a head start on your food storage! You can contact farmers directly or consider buying at auction at your county fair.

24. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The cheapest foods are often the least processed foods. Buy from the produce, meat, and dairy departments more and less from the inner aisles. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

25. Have a vegetarian meal once a week and save money by not buying as much meat. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

26. Plant a garden. You will not only save money on your grocery budget that you can use toward long term food storage but it will yield food as well.

27. Plant berry bushes and fruit trees. Even the smallest city lot usually can fit in a few raspberry canes. Dwarf varieties of fruit trees don’t take much space and larger lots can handle full sized trees. You can also sell the excess fruit!

What are some of the ways you've been able to alter your budget to permit you to make preparedness purchases?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dial 511 for travel safety information

photo credit - Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Did you know that you can dial 511 to get information about real-time travel conditions?

You can also set up your own personalized travel profiles to receive travel time and alert information.

It's a great tool to help you avoid construction delays or check up on road conditions while you travel.

Visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Travel Information web page to learn more.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

La Crosse area -Complex store system to affect area into Wed

La Crosse area -Complex store system to affect area into Wed
Posted by MooMama 

"Determining the type of precipitation is tricky due to a feed cold air southward into the system. Currently it appears most of the area should see rain tonight into Tuesday, then change over to a wet snow either Tuesday night or Wednesday as the cold air sinks southward. Sleet or freezing drizzle could also occur during the change-over process."

from the National Weather Service


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preparedness 101 - the get home bag (GHB)

Preparedness 101 - the get home bag (GHB) 

From:  MooMama
Website: MooSaidTheMama

So you might wonder what a "get home bag" is. It's just what it sounds like - a bag to get you home again. They're quite similar to the BOBs (bug out bags). A GHB is usually a day pack filled with basic supplies and equipment that you'd need in case an emergency strikes while you're away from your home. It's a basic emergency preparedness item.

Unlike the BOBs, though, you want to keep your GHB with you. Many people keep them in their cars. That works great if your car is always with you. In our household, though, the car is with me part of the week and with the Hubster the other part of the week. If we kept the Hubster's GHB in the car then he wouldn't have access on the days he carpools to work.

So think about how you live and work and decide on a system that works best for you.

For us the answer is to have a kit that stays with the car and also have a pack that stays with the Hubster when he's at work or away without our car.

So what should someone put in their GHB?

Like your BOBs, the GHB contents are going to vary depending upon your climate, your local weather emergencies, and other local conditions.

Some commonly included items are:

- emergency food. might include energy bars, electrolyte packets, peanut butter crackers, etc. the food should be ready to eat and not require any additional energy or hydration to use. Also include a spork - they don't take up much space and are handy in case you need to eat other foods.

- water bottle or water bladder. we pack both water bottles and CamelBak style water bladders in our kits. depending upon your local water situation you might consider adding in a water filter (Katadynand Berkey make some good portable models) or water purification tablets.

- protection from the weather. here you'll want a poncho or other rain gear, warm winter clothing (in season), extra socks, sensible walking/hiking shoes, perhaps an emergency blanket and/or tarp if you'll need to shelter overnight.

- tools. commonly included tools are small knife, Leatherman multi-purpose tool, flashlight, signal mirror, whistle, small alcohol stove or hobo stove.

- fire starters. waterproof matches, butane lighter, cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly, steel wool and a 9v battery (pack separately), hand sanitizer (high alcohol content makes it a great dual purpose item for emergency packs)

- comfort and personal hygiene items. sunscreen, chapstick, soap, hand sanitizer, bug repellent, camping towel, and baby wipes.

- first aid supplies. bandages, steri-strips, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, moleskin (to prevent blisters), ibuprofen, anti-diarrheal medicine.

The most important things to consider when putting together your GHB are the weather conditions you'll likely be exposed to and the distance you'll likely need to travel. You also want to consider the route you'll have to use and the conditions you'll face on that route.

For me I also need to consider transporting children back home and their needs. The kit kept in the car includes a folding stroller and infant carrier to help transport our toddler and assist our five year old. For short periods of time both the Hubster and I can carry the toddler in a sling or mei tai style carrier. For longer distances the stroller becomes more important. If we need to return home on foot from the nearest big city we're looking at 45 miles and that means an overnight stay because our kids can't hike that in a day (and neither can I toting a 35 pound toddler on my back!). Our car kit also contains tarps and rope so we can assemble temporary shelters as well as lots of winter camping gear.

We tend to pack more food in the winter months (cold weather means more calories burned) and more water in the summer months. Our winter kit contains more heat generating materials like a hobo stove and candles than does our summer kit.

Here are some pictures showing you what the Hubster typically keeps in his GHB:

Day pack - this is just a simple pack to hold all your equipment

Clothing - the bags contain a Gore-Tex jacket and Gore-Tex rain pants. there is also a rain poncho, winter gloves, and an emergency blanket.

Light, fire, & emergency items - signal mirror, compass, whistle, flashlight, butane lighter, Buck 110 knife, 9V batteries, and steel wool.

Food - spork, granola bars, Emergen-C packets, tuna fish, protein bars, crackers & peanut butter.

First Aid & Safety Part I - Glide anti-chaffing stick, 30 SPF sunblock, chapstick, insect repellent, 50 SPF sunblock in stick form, N95 masks, and crazy glue.

First Aid & Safety Part II - insect sting swabs, wipes, bandages, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen, insect repellent, molefoam padding, and case.

Water - stainless steel water bottle (that's duct tape wrapped around it), 2 liter water bladder, and water purification tablets.

Personal care & hygiene - anti-bacterial wipes, baby wipes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, tissues, towel, and soap.

Do you have GHBs packed for your family members? If so, do you pack items other than the ones we mentioned?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Storing Beans and Rice in Mylar Bags and Five Gallon Buckets

Storing Beans and Rice in Mylar Bags and Five Gallon Buckets
Article Submitted by: MooMamma
Website: MooSaidTheMamma.blogspot.com

It's no secret to folks who know us that the Hubster and I store food. In fact, as member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we've been advised by our church leaders to be self-reliant in all ways and that advice includes setting aside a supply of food.

There are many reasons we store food. Job loss, inflation, a year without pay raises, and many more economic stresses and strains top the list these days.

Even though the Hubster's job has been pretty secure there are times when unexpected expenses arise and it's nice to be able to pay cash for those emergencies and rely on our food storage instead of buying groceries.

One way to store food and save money is to buy your dry foods locally and then package them for storage yourself. A major portion of the cost of foods ready for long-term storage is the shipping cost. If you can eliminate shipping costs then you can store food at a lower price.

Here we're going to show you how to prepare dried beans for long-term storage. Dried beans properly packaged can be stored for up to 30 years. Now I personally don't want to keep my beans for 30 years because we rotate our food and use the foods that we store. I'd hate to shock my digestive system by suddenly eating a lot of foods that I hadn't previously eaten!

The system that we use for most of our dried food storage is to first seal the food in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber sealed inside. The mylar bag is also placed inside a 5 gallon food grade plastic bucket and the bucket is sealed with a lid.

The first step in the process is to assemble your food, tools, and equipment.

Here you see the dried beans and some brown rice in the 5 gallon buckets. The afternoon we took these pictures were were sealing up pinto beans, navy beans, and brown rice. As you can see from the picture these beans were just purchased at a grocery store. We checked unit prices to see which sized bags were the best value. For the pinto beans we found that 8 pound bags were the best value. For the navy beans the one pound bags were the best value.

These are the lids for the 5 gallon buckets. Make sure you're using new lids so you get a good seal.

These are mylar bags. They provide an oxygen barrier when properly sealed. Without oxygen the beans will stay fresh much longer. We buy our bags online from Sorbent Systems.

Here are the oxygen absorbers. We also buy these from Sorbent Systems. When we're not actively using the absorbers we keep them sealed in a vacuum sealed bag.

Here you see the rubber mallet, metal level, and iron. The mallet is used to pound down the lid onto the bucket. The metal level is used to heat the mylar bag and create a seal. And the iron provides the heat to create a seal for the mylar bag. They sell machines to seal bags, but we find that using these inexpensive tools does the job quite nicely at a lower cost. Oh, and don't use your good iron for this job! Pick up a used iron at a thrift store or garage sale that is set aside for sealing bags.

The second step is to place an empty mylar bag inside a 5 gallon food grade bucket. We purchased these buckets at a home improvement store. I wouldn't use these particular buckets for storing food that would touch the plastic sides of the bucket, but since we're sealing the food in mylar bags I consider them safe. For food that we store directly in the buckets (like rice and flour that we use daily), we order food grade buckets with gamma seal lids.

Next you'll open up a bag of beans and pour them into the mylar bag you placed in the bucket. You'll continue to do this until your bag is nearly full. We find that about 33 pounds of dried beans will fit in a mylar bag placed inside a 5 gallon bucket and still leave room to seal the bucket.

Here you see five buckets filled with food. We filled four buckets with beans (2 of navy beans and 2 of pinto beans) and one bucket with brown rice. That's a total of 132 pounds of dried beans and 33 pounds of brown rice.

Once you have your food into the bags (inside the buckets) you'll want to heat up your iron. Set it at the cotton or linen setting as you'll need a very hot iron for the sealing.

Before you begin to seal the bag you'll want to drop in your oxygen absorbers. When working with 5 gallon buckets we use two oxygen absorbers per bag.

Then you'll fold down one side of the top of your mylar bag and straighten it out.

Next you'll place your metal level underneath the folded over edge of the mylar bag.

Then you'll fold that top piece down over the level and hold it tightly against the level.

You could use any flat surface to iron your bags on, but we chose the metal level for two reasons. First, it also heats up a bit and the added heat helps to create a good seal. Second, this level has two surfaces and that allows us to make two seals at once. That gives just a little extra insurance that the bags are well sealed and airtight.

Then you'll iron across the top of the level along the edge of the bag. Be sure to remember to leave a small (maybe 3-4 inches) area UNSEALED so you can squeeze out the last bit of air in the bag before the final sealing.

Here you can see where the seal ends and the edge of the bag without a seal.

The next step is to push down on the top of the bag and squeeze out the last bit of air inside.

Then you'll bring up the corner of the bag where you have the unsealed portion.

And once again you'll use the metal level and iron and you'll seal off the unsealed part of the bag.

Next you'll use your rubber mallet to securely attach the lid to the bucket.

Here you can see the rubber gasket inside a lid. When your lid is pounded down tightly onto the bucket this gasket helps to form an airtight seal.

The final step is labeling your bucket. We write the name of product sealed inside and the date we sealed it on the top of our lids.

And then you're done! Find a cool, dark, dry, temperature controlled space to store the buckets and your food will keep nicely for many years. Most families find that basement space is the most convenient location.

You can use this method for sealing any dried food. We've used it for beans, rice, sugar, and flour so far.

When we are ready to use a food we just cut open the bag and then replace the bucket lid with a gamma seal lid for easy opening and closing. You can find gamma seal lids at many online retailers.

What are some of the ways you store food? Do you have a favorite online retailer of dried foods or food storage equipment?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Wisconsin Preppers Roll Call - All Preppers Please Check In

The American Preppers Network is conducting a network-wide roll call.  Whether you are a member or not please check in and let us know what you are doing to prepare.

This is a good opportunity to network with other preppers near you.

Wisconsin Preppers, to respond to the roll call please follow this link:

  • Reply to the Roll Call and let us know what you have been doing to prepare.
If you are not yet a member of the forum you can register here for free:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to dehydrate eggs

How to dehydrate eggs

Article By:  MooMamma
Website: MooSaidTheMama.blogspot.com

With all the canning tutorials on this blog I'm sure that most of my readers think all I do is can. NOT true! I also dehydrate some foods for long term storage and today we'll discuss dehydrating eggs to make a shelf stable powdered egg.

But first, I want to let you know about a book that I consider my go-to reference for all things dehydrated. The title is Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.

We bought it at the same time we bought our commercial dehydrator and it's gotten a lot of use! We dehydrate fruits like strawberries, apples, and pears and we've also dehydrated potato slices, green peppers, chili peppers, and made fruit leather using the dehydrator. On my to-do list yet for the dehydrator is celery and carrots.

I don't usually do dehydrating tutorials, though, because it's so very simple. Usually you just slice the food thin and pop it in the dehydrator. Hardly tutorial-worthy, eh?

But eggs are just a teeny bit more complex. With eggs you have some safety concerns that you wouldn't have with fruits and veggies.

For instance, it's not recommended that you dehydrate raw eggs. The first step ought to be cooking them until they're dry.

I also consider the source of eggs. My first choice would be local eggs produced by free range hens. In my neck of the woods in February it's not so easy to come by fresh free range eggs in larger quantities and I hate to run the dehydrator for just a tray or two.

This time I used organic eggs purchased at Costco. Not my first choice, but an okay runner-up.

For this project I used a food processor, a non-stick pan, my gas range, and the commercial dehydrator. Feel free to substitute other equipment if you need to.

I found that working with about eight eggs at a time was the most manageable load for my equipment. I also realized in retrospect that a blender could have been a better choice for whipping up the eggs and resulted in a bit less mess!

So...I cracked open about 8 eggs and dropped them into my food processor and let it whirl a bit to whip them up.

Then I transferred the whipped eggs into a non-stick pan. I found that cooking them low and slow resulted in the best scrambled egg and the least waste. On my gas range that meant a setting of 2.

After scrambling the first batch I transferred the eggs into a bowl and cleaned the pan. It is important to clean the pan between each batch of eggs because you're not using any additional grease and the pan does get gunked up fairly quickly.

After all the eggs were scrambled I then began to spread them out on the dehydrator trays. I used the fine mesh fruit screens to minimize having small pieces drop through the trays.

Then I placed the trays into the commercial dehydrator. Four dozen eggs yielded 4.5 trays of loosely spaced scrambled eggs.

I set the dehydrator at 145 degrees F and set it for 18 hours.

After the eggs were completely dried then I removed the trays and put the dried eggs into the food processor. I let them spin a while to pulverize them into a fine powder.

Then I transferred the powdered eggs into a mason jar and used our FoodSaver to seal to remove excess air and seal the jar for storage in our pantry.

To use the eggs I'll measure out 1 Tbsp of dried egg and add in 2 Tbsp of water to make the equivalent of one large egg.
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