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Homesteading Basics: How To Dehydrate Herbs for Long-Term Storage January 30, 2017

dehydrating herbs for storage
Herbs are one of the first plants we put in our garden. There is nothing like fresh culinary herbs to intensify the flavors of food. As well, herbs are hardy garden plants that don’t have to be watered as much as vegetables and can serve more than one purpose by being used as natural medicine. For instance, did you know that a sage leaf can be used instead of a band-aid because it has natural healing qualities? Some of these popular culinary herbs are oregano, thymne and sage and can grow year-round in many parts of the country.

To enjoy these herbs year round, many choose to dehydrate them when they are at the peak in freshness and combine them to make their own spices and even homemade tea blends. Can you imagine how much money you could save at the grocery store by implementing this into your pantry?

How To Dehydrate Herbs for Long-Term Storage

Dehydrating herbs and other leafy greens is one of the easiest items to dry for long-term use. All you really need is a constant stream of air. You don’t necessary have to own a dehydrator because herbs can dry naturally from the air, but it does help with even drying.

Here are some steps to get started:

  1.  Prep herbs for drying. Wash and place herbs evenly on a drying rack and ensure that enough space is make for proper air flow.
  2. Set temperature and time according to the directions on your dehydrator.
  3. Ensure that herbs are 95% dehydrated for long-term storage.

Here are some great spice mixes to start adding to your pantry!

Cajun Seasoning

  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Chili Powder

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

French Herb Mix

  • 3 tablespoons marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons savory
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed

Chili Powder

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Storing Dehydrated Herbs

Herbs can be dehydrated to store for longer periods, but storage is important for any preserved food, and dehydrated foods are no exception. Store either in heavy duty zippered bags in a metal container, or store in dry, sterile, glass jars. For long term storage, I recommend using Mylar bags.

As I stated previously, before storing, you want to ensure that your food is 95% or more dehydrated because the more moisture your food has the more likely molds and microorganisms can grow. Like all emergency food sources, ensure that you keep your dehydrated food away from natural elements.

“Best Used By” Guidelines for Dehydrated Food 

  • Spices – 1-2 years
  • Vegetables/Fruits – Up to 12 months
  • Meats – Best at 1-2 months, but can be stored for 6 months.

We are all looking for frugal ways to bulk up our preparedness pantries. Using herbs is a great way to do that. Some of our favorite herbs we love to grow in our garden can be utilized to make long-term herbal seasonings to use year round. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start dehydrating!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 30th, 2017
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The Ultimate Chicken Crap Composting Guide January 16, 2017

chicken crap
There are no two ways about it – your soil needs nutrition regularly. This isn’t just dirt that we’re talking about. We’re talking about soil and soil is alive. In order for plants to grow to their optimum capacity, they need bio-intensive nutrients present in the soil to assist with growth, root development and disease prevention. While there are other nutrients needed for perfect soil, there are three responsible for the overall health of the plant.

1. Nitrogen: Encourages green foliage by producing chlorophyll and improves leaf development.

2. Phosphorus: Phosphorus promotes good root production and helps plants withstand environmental stress and harsh winters.

3. Potassium: Potassium strengthens plants, contributes to early growth and helps retain water. It also affects the plant’s disease and insect suppression.

This Bi-Product is One of the Leading Soil Amendments and Preferred by Most Organic Farmers

While most of these elements and nutrients are naturally found in soil, sometimes they can become depleted and need to be added to help the soil get healthy again. Those of you who are working towards sustainability are well versed in the importance of composting and may even be making the most of your property by caring for backyard livestock.  If you do have livestock, you probably have a plethora of the bi-product they produce – manure. Once composted, aged manure is a great addition to create rich soil. In particular, chicken manure can be one of the best types of manure to add.


“Chicken manure has higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compared to cattle, sheep or horse manure.”


Safe Handling

While chicken manure is a desirable compost to add to the garden, there are some things you need to know before you apply this soil amendment. First of all, gloves should be used when handling manure. Salmonella spp., E. coli and other human pathogens are present in chicken manure, so handle carefully. As well, because chicken manure is packed full of powerful nutrients, it is considered a “hot manure” and requires proper composting. Make no mistake, raw chicken manure applied to plants can burn, and even kill them. Moreover, since vegetables are growing in compost manured, take extra care when harvesting. Thoroughly wash any harvested vegetable or fruits that touched with compost with soapy water. As well, peel root vegetables and wash leafy greens with soap, or thoroughly cook garden vegetables before eating to kill any pathogens that may remain in the soil.

How To Compost Chicken Manure

Did you know that one hen produces 45 pounds of manure every year. This livestock is a pooping machine! Taking that 45 pounds of chicken manure and chicken litter and applying it each year to 100 square feet of soil will work wonders in your vegetable garden and increase the fertility of your soil.

There are two ways to compost chicken manure. Cold composting is a slow aged process that requires weeks for the manure and chicken bedding to age and mellow. Hot composting creates an interior heat in the center of the compost mound and the high-heat cooks the manure and considerably shortens the composting process.

Cleaning out the chicken coop is the best time to start a composting pile for your manure. When we prepare our chicken coops, we use a layer of cedar chips and them apply straw every month or so until it’s time to clean the coop again. This process naturally gives the future compost a 2:1 ratio of brown material to green material.

Cold Composting Method:

This composting process allows nature to do its business. Manure is added to a compost heap and allowed to sit and slowly decompose.

  1. Add a shovelful of already finished compost or native soil, which will be full of microorganisms to jump-start the process.
  2. Using gloves, rake, shovel and deposit the bedding and chicken droppings directly into the compost pile.
  3. Water it thoroughly and then turn the pile every few weeks to get air into the pile. Allow six to nine months for the manure to naturally age.
  4. Once compost has aged properly, it is done when originally bedding and manure is no longer recognizable and has turned into rich, dark soil.
  5. Once you have finished chicken manure composting, it is ready to use. Simply spread the chicken manure compost evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with either a shovel or a tiller.
  6. Thoroughly wash any raw vegetables before eating.

*If you are uncertain how well your chicken manure has been composted, you can wait up to 12 months to use your chicken manure compost.

Hot Composting Method

This is a faster composting method that heats the composting manure up to high temperatures that will kill off weed seeds and pathogens (diseases), and break down the material into very fine compost considerably faster than the cold composting method.

  1. Add a shovelful of already finished compost or native soil, which will be full of microorganisms to jump-start the process.
  2. Using gloves, rake, shovel and deposit the bedding and chicken droppings directly into the compost pile that is 3 cubic feet (1 cubic meter) in size and no more than 5 cubic feet (1.5 cubic meters). *This size creates the best heat and moisture to speed the decomposition process.
  3. Water compost pile thoroughly (It should be as wet as a wrung sponge).
  4. Cover compost pile with a large burlap or other breathable tarp to maintain moisture.
  5. With a garden thermometer, take pile’s temperature daily to ensure the temperatures rise to 120 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually takes one to five days. *Temperature trends are approximate and vary depending on the type of materials you’re composting, the size of the pieces, the level of moisture, and so on.
  6. Every four to seven days, when the temperature of the pile begin to drop below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), turn all of the organic matter to introduce more oxygen and heat it back up.Thoroughly mix materials from the pile’s exterior to the interior. If needed, water as you turn to maintain the “wrung-out-sponge” moisture level. *Be careful not to get material too wet, because doing so cools off the pile.
  7. After about 14 days, the ingredients of the organic matter will no longer be recognizable. Continue monitoring and recording daily temperatures and repeating the turning process.Turn every four to five days, when the temperature drops below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). Add moisture, if needed. Turn a total of four times throughout one month.
  8. After 1 month, the pile no longer heats up after turning, and the bulk of it is dark, crumbly compost.The temperature drops to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) or lower.
  9. Monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the entire contents of your bin has been heated, loosely cover and allow the compost to cure for 45-60 days before using.

More information on this process here

When your chicken manure has sufficiently turned into fertilizer, simply spread evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with either a shovel or a tiller and watch how fast your plants will grow.

The use of manure is an integral part of sustainable gardening and adds necessary organic matter in soil to improve water and nutrient retention. In turn, this creates a prolific ecosystem in the soil to give your plants what they need to produce. Adding chicken manure is an excellent soil amendment and if composted properly, you will find that your vegetables will grow bigger and healthier as a result.

 

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 16th, 2017
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The Winchester ’94: Take Your Hunt to the Next Level January 2, 2017

deer-hunt
ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, we wrote one not long ago on basics of hunting, and now I’m going to recommend to you an excellent rifle.  The Winchester Model 1894 (called the Winnie ’94) is an outstanding lever-action rifle in 30-30 caliber.  It is compact (technically a carbine, which is a rifle with an 18 – 20-inch barrel), and is, in this author’s opinion the finest brush gun for stalking deer.  The rifle was designed by none other than John M. Browning and (as its name suggests) began to be produced in 1894.  Browning is famous for designing the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) model 1911.

hunting-rifle
Winchester ceased production of them when the New Haven, CT plant closed down; however, they are still readily available throughout the U.S.  The Winnie ’94 is a very nice weapon, and other firms also make lever-action models in the 30-30 caliber, such as Marlin, Savage, and Sako.  I prefer the Winnie ’94 over all of the rest, and it has (in my experience) only one drawback: as it ejects spent casings from the top, a scope must be side-tapped to be mounted.  Marlins eject from the right side and can be mounted on top with a scope.

The 30-30 round is a pretty powerful round, and is more than enough muscle to put down a large deer.  The bullets come in 150 grains jacketed round-noses, as well as the larger 170 grain jacketed flat tips that have a lot of stopping power, and are sufficient for whitetail and mule deer, as well as elk and antelope.  The 150 grain bullets have a velocity on average of about 2,000 fps (feet per second), and the 170 grain bullets run about 1,875 fps on average…a tad bit slower, as it is a heavier round.

From a ballistics perspective, a high-velocity round is not the answer to all of your challenges.  Flat-tip bullets tend to spread out and increase the diameter of the round upon impact, whereas round-tips are better for deeper penetration.  The shot also has a large bearing on it, as your primary target is either the head or low and just behind the shoulder.

The rifle has a tubular magazine that holds up to eight rounds.  The finger lever (that “loop” on the lever) has a safety that must be squeezed in order to fire, and a pop-in safety is located up by the trigger mechanism that will prevent the hammer from making contact with the primer.  As I mentioned earlier, the rifle is excellent for stalking and walking through brush, as being shorter (a carbine) it is easier to manage in areas with heavy sapling and ground cover, as well as thorns and other niceties that impede travel.

I prefer iron sights, as you are usually going to have a shot within 50 feet if you’re busting brush.  This is not to say it cannot be used in a stand, but it is optimal if you’re walking game trails or negotiating terrain with any kind of underbrush.  The 30-30 cartridge is quoted by Lyman’s reloading manual in the following glowing terms:

 “Probably no other cartridge in North America has put as much venison on the table as the venerable old “thirty-thirty.”

The cartridges can be reloaded simply and at an affordable price.  The Winnie ’94 doesn’t kick excessively and is not prone to jamming or any kind of feeding problems.  Most do not come tapped for a sling, so you may have to mount your swivels or have it done.  You can also pick up a nice elastic-type of cartridge holder that will slide snugly onto the stock for extra rounds as you hunt.  It is a really nice piece and a pleasure to shoot.  Another tip: although there are lighter rounds you can target shoot with, be sure to target shoot with the actual sized rounds you plan on hunting with.  In this manner, you’ll be able to iron out any variables that may come with your switching ammo types.  So, try out that Winchester Mod. ‘94, and I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how nice it fires and how dependable it is for a hunting rifle.  Keep your powder dry and be safe at all times!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 2nd, 2017
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