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Because prepping and community go hand in hand

Prepping in old German barracks, an article about trying to stay positive about a collapse of the food supply

Yesterday I read this interesting article by The Guardian about a prepper who bought an old German barrack

Change is coming’: Meet the Englishman prepping for climate apocalypse in an old German barracks

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Giveaway: New survival guide book from Alone’s S9 Juan Pablo Quinonez

Edit: All copies are spoken for

To spread the news about the books release, current Alone season contestant JP is sending out 3 free copies to the TP community, with the expectation of a fair review shared here later! (Your help is how we keep the best books list updated too!)

The book is THRIVE: Long-Term Wilderness Survival Guide. (It’s 120,000 words, so you’re not expected to read the whole thing. Just a fair shake.) Seems like more of a reference guide “covering modern survival skills with bushcraft techniques, step-by-step instructions, and over 400 illustrations.”

First come first served. Reply here (we’ll email the address on your account) or contact us directly via email: [email protected] 

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Sump Pump Kit: Keeping your basement dry (and your neighbour’s too)


(image credit: Magnolia Field Flooding by Doc Searls. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0)

It’s 2 am. Your neighbour bangs on the door. Their house is flooding, and their sump pump just broke. The hardware store is closed. Can you help?

..

If you live somewhere with a basement and water, you may use a pump to keep your basement dry. This kit contains everything needed to get water out of your house.

This kit may seem expensive, because you are buying a pump. But it’s cheaper than an emergency call to a plumber. And it’s cheaper than an insurance claim and a flooded basement.

A sump pump is a perfect example of something worth preparing in advance. When you need it, you *really* need it. And chances are – everyone else may too. Better to have a kit ready than to be part of the crowd, rushing to the out-of-stock hardware store during a flood.

How To Use It

Usually you want to send the water one of two places: into the storm drain system (in a city) or out onto the lawn or road. The farther away from the house, the better – at least 20 feet.

Note it is illegal in many areas to permanently connect your sump pump to the _sewer_ system (it should connect to the _storm drain_ system), including a floor drain. But in an emergency, if choosing between a floor drain and a flooded house – put the water wherever it needs to go. You can point the hose at the floor drain and remove water, if the hose is not long enough to reach outside of the house.

How To Store It

You have several ways to store this:

One Bucket, stuff sticking out. If you use a standard hose kit, it is unlikely everything will fit into one bucket. If you’re not concerned about being neat and tidy, this is the cheapest, easiest way to do it. You could also measure the hose length to your floor drain and cut the hose to save space. Two Buckets, one for hose, one for pump. If you coil it nicely, 20 feet of 1-1/2″ hose will juuust fit inside a 5 gallon bucket. Put the pump and other items into a second bucket. This lets you put lids on top, to keep it all together. You must carry two buckets around. One Bucket, smaller hose. If you buy an adapter, you can use a marine hose (strong garden hose) instead of a regular hose. This lets you fit everything in one bucket. The marine hose may be longer, but have a smaller diameter, so it will move water more slowly.

Can I Really Use A Garden Hose?

You should *not* use a garden hose for a permanent setup. But in an emergency a hose will move water. It’s an option.

I spent twenty hours of research and one hour of testing creating this kit. I found a dozen people online and one person in my real-world prepping circle who have used (real life) or claimed to have used (online) a pump with an adapter and garden hose. I called three pump manufacturers and two plumbers to ask about pumps, PSI, and setup. All of them recommended *NOT* using a garden hose as your permanent pump setup.

A garden hose or marine hose has a smaller diameter, so it will move the water more slowly.
Your first bet should be the main discharge hose that is sized for your pump.
But if you want to buy a $15 adapter, you can.

References

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-sump-pump/ https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/waterquality/documents/check-you-sump-pumps-now https://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/164984/sump-pump-ok-to-reduce-1-5-to-3-4

Related Threads

https://theprepared.com/forum/thread/protecting-homes-from-water-infiltration/ https://theprepared.com/forum/thread/flood-barriers-alternatives-to-sandbags/ https://theprepared.com/forum/thread/prepper-home-safety-how-to-prevent-and-avoid-accidents-in-the-home-during-a-crisis/ Read More
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(image credit: Magnolia Field Flooding by Doc Searls. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0)

Would you like to make your own chicken coop?

I have some chickens in my backyard. Now I’m thinking about building a home for my chickens. I have seen some great coops in online stores. But after seeing some videos, I thought that maybe I could make a chicken coop. Maybe a greenhouse, a carport, or a trampoline….

Would you make a chicken coop?

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How to maintain a fan?

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while but I had a question that I thought this audience could help out with. I have a few fans that I use around the house and seem to go through them every few months or years. 

Do any of you know how to maintain a fan and keep it working for many years like new? I tried doing research but only could find the recommendation of “wipe the blades off of dust every month”. I probably could blow a can of compressed air in there every month to help things out, but is there any oiling I can do?

This little USB fan is perfect for my nightstand. It provides some good white noise, doesn’t make me too cold, low power draw, and I can use it with a power bank if the power went off. I want it to last the rest of my life but don’t know how to make it do that. 

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What OTC medications should we have on hand?

What over the counter medications would be good to have in someone’s medicine cupboard to be ready for those random sicknesses, allergies, injuries, etc…

It’s good to have these ready so can take them ASAP and not have to run to the store when you aren’t feeling the best, and also having them on hand could mean you have some supplies if there was a shortage. But I just don’t know what the best ones to have would be. For example, there are so many types of pain medications in tablet or liquid gel form of varying strengths and more which is the best ones we should have?

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Opinions on fire escape hoods?

Looking for opinions on fire escape hoods.  One is on sale now at several sites such as https://mypatriotsupply.com/products/ready-hour-fire-evacuation-mask . For the price, it might be worth having a few around.  It just concerns me that something this life-saving would be this inexpensive. 

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What’s the likelihood that I will be able to live into my 80’s with the increasing number of disasters?

It seems there is a new disaster every week that is topping all previous records and it is getting me kind of freaked out. I’m only 18 and am wondering what’s the chance that I will be able to live well into my 80’s and die of natural causes. I haven’t been around too long, but from what I have seen, these man made and natural disasters are ramping up in frequency and intensity. 

We have:

Global warming Pollution Over population leading to less resources Food and water scarcity War Civil unrest Pandemics Extreme heat or cold Drought and lots more

Things just don’t seem to be on a positive trend and I’m wondering if I will ever get to my 80’s or if I do will it just be pure survival and a struggle the whole time?

From you older generations, did you share similar viewpoints about the situation you and the world was in when you were my age? Am I over reacting? 

Sorry to be the gloomy one over here, but it is something I’ve been struggling with lately. From what I have learned so far, it seems that being prepared will help increase my chances of survival and make life more enjoyable. So I am glad that I found this way of life.

-Tim

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What are your softcore preps?

Even though flashy crises are more fun to talk about, a prepping mindset has a big impact on day to day life. Do you have any creative everyday/non-SHTF prepping that you’re particularly happy about?

For example, I finally got tired of never being able to find new heads for my razor (yay supply chains), and I am not shaving under my arms with my Leatherman, so I started to use a metal razor. It can use any razor blades (which can be resharpened) instead of proprietary ones only, it means I have a pile of spare blades (safely) stored, and I’m not worried about it breaking anytime soon.

I’ve also moved towards wearing more durable and easily repairable materials like leather and using mechanical pencils and refillable pens instead of disposables. This won’t save anyone’s life, but moving away from disposables feels like prepping to me because it increases resilience both materially and financially in the long run. In the short run, they’re just nicer to use.

Even in the more traditional EDC, my bike (hex key) multitool sees more use than my Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife, but that’s probably because I’m still in the Ikea stage of life.

All that said, do y’all have any creative softcore prepping tips?

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Some chores are better than others

I’m sure we all have chores we don’t really care for.  The thing I dislike the most, which I did Sunday, is cutting the bottom pasture in the heat of the summer.  The feel like temp was around 110 and I was out in the full sun sitting on a hot diesel tractor.  Being on a homestead, especially when the wife is off caring for her 100 year old mom & 102 year old aunt, well there are plenty of chores & lots of animals to feed.

One chore I love this time of year is taking the dogs out for a final bathroom stop before bedtime.  We currently have 8 dogs living with us.  This time of year is special around 8:30 at night.  The sun has set but it is not yet dark.  The sunset has faded to muted colors of normally salmon pink & light blues.  It is still warm out but not oppressively hot.  Actually, rather nice.  And at this time of day, as I sit on the back patio overlooking the back of our property, waiting on & watching the dogs , I get to watch the bats perform their acrobatics as they hunt down mosquitos.  They put on quite the show!  Kinda like watching the bald eagles… it feeds my soul.  With it seems like the whole world going to hell, it is nice to just slow down and appreciate nature.  The time of evening I’m talking about:

Anyone else have some chores that you really enjoy?

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Making your own first aid supplies after a disaster

If a large region-wide or even country-wide disaster occurred which harmed many people, store shelves and hospitals will quickly run out of first aid supplies from band-aids, gauze, antibiotics, and more. The hope for us as the prepared is to have enough of this stored before this happens to be able to treat injuries we and those close to us sustain. But what if that disaster happens before we are able to accumulate all of those supplies or we run out because the disaster was worse than we had prepared for?

How do you craft and make various first aid supplies from things you have around the house? It will be hard to make things like antibiotics but instead of gauze for a large cut on the arm, could you use pieces of a tshirt that has been washed? Instead of band-aids can you fold a square of toilet paper and attach that with some tape? And even during the normal times, why not save a buck and make your own supplies? What makes the store bought gauze better or different than say a piece of tshirt or toilet paper?

I don’t have any answers but was curious if other people had thoughts on the subject.

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Climate change & gardening

Our planet is slowly, or not so slowly, heating up.  That is simply a fact.  When I was a kid living here in north Mississippi 60+ years ago, we lived on a lake and owned ice skates.  Almost every year, that large lake froze over so that we could skate & camp out on the ice.  I even remember someone driving a VW Beetle out on the ice.  I can’t even remember last time even a small pond froze over even a tiny bit… much less freezing over enough to walk on it.

This year has been especially hot here and we are not yet into the hottest part of the year.  Already we have had more days with the temp at 100 or above than I can ever remember.  Most days have a feel like temp of around 110 or so.  Our normal high for July is 92 and normally we rarely see a triple digit high.  They have now become the norm.  Here is our 7 day forecast.  I’ve never seen such a forecast in July… especially considering we have been at or near those temps for weeks.

All this high heat has had a huge impact on crop growing around here.  Our spring was so short, none of my springtime, cool weather crops produced anything.  It got too warm too quick.  So I trashed them & put in my summer crops and this has been the worst my garden has produced ever.  I couldn’t get my tomatoes to grow.  My peppers, which I though loved warm weather, are doing fine but not producing any peppers yet.  My corn crop was the smallest & worst looking ever.  My pole beans have grown wonderfully & have bloomed heavily, but are not setting any beans.  I talked to the folks at the local farmer’s market & they said this is the worst year they have ever had.  They are having the same issues.

I know that many plants will not pollinate properly when temps get up near 100.  I knew corn was that way & weeks ago I worried about my corn.  I water it weekly & the plants looked great, but when picked, there were much fewer ears & those ears were smaller & ugly.  Many ears didn’t fill out at all.  Others filled just partially.  I now know peppers & beans, at least the varieties I’ve always grown are the same.

As a prepper, this greatly concerns me.  With such temps, I would not be able to grow enough food to be anywhere near self sufficient.  I need to research to see if I can find varieties that can grow properly in such high temps.  I mean heck, the crops I currently grow are varieties picked to handle normal temps & humidity of the deep south, but they obviously aren’t proper for such temps.  Since I think our planet will continue to heat up, I will need to rethink my whole plan.

My only hope is that I expect to have a very long fall, and I hope to replant soon and see if I can get some corn & beans to grow later in the year.  I expect my peppers will put out huge crops once the temps moderate in a month or so.  Around here our winters have gotten warmer & shorter.  Spring is exactly the same.  Our summers are very long now, longer than normal & our Autumns are likewise.  Hopefully the first frosts will hold off for me to grow some food.

Anyone else having heat related issues in their gardens?

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Refrigerator / freezer alarm recommendations

I want to get a fridge/freezer alarm for the two units I have and to get some kind of warning if the power were to be out and temperatures were heating up. That way I could have a little notice to do something about it like hook it up to a generator or pack it in ice to save the food I have in there.

While browsing through Amazon for such a product, I quickly noticed that many have all these fangled settings, displays, functions, and phone apps. I want a simple alarm to go off if the temperature rises above a certain amount, not some 12″X12″ display on my wall that tells the weather and a daily joke.

This one was promising and simple but but reading the reviews it says that the alarm is not very loud and only chirps for a few seconds before turning off. This is a deal breaker for me because I want a constant loud alarm to get my attention as soon as I come home from work and not risk missing it.

Does anyone have an alarm that they recommend?

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Survival Gardening … Make your own seed vault

When I first started prepping, I knew how important it would be to have plenty of garden seed on hand in case of a severe crisis.  So I would purchase seed vaults online that had lots of seed, could store a long time and had lots of variety.  However the problem with these commercially made seed vaults is that that contain all sorts of varieties that probably wouldn’t do well in my specific climate and location.  I knew a lot of the seed would not do well here.

So about the same time that I started putting staple foods in my own long term storage, I decided to do the same with garden seed.  For me, long term storage means the items are inside sealed Mylar bags with either desiccants or oxygen absorbers inside.  This bag was then inside a sealed 5-6 gallon plastic container.  These containers are stored inside a prepper room I built in my upper barn that has its own AC unit, so the room stays in the 60s or less year round.

Now I understand gardens seed will not last anywhere near as long as my food items.  Things like dried beans, rice, wheat berries, etc. can last 30+ years in such conditions.  Most seed would last only a few years.  So each year, I put up a new container of garden seed.  Each container (seed vault) contains the basic garden seed that could sustain my family for a year, along with fruits & berries from my orchard, catfish from the pond & wild game in the woods.  These seed are varieties I grow each and every year, so I know they do well in my specific location.  I don’t have anywhere near the number of varieties found in commercial seed vaults, but every seed I have are varieties that grow here with minimal to no fertilizers & other garden chemicals… even though I keep more than a year’s supply of such in storage.

My philosophy on survival gardening is to keep it simple.  I also wish to extend the growing season as long as possible, which is pretty long here in north Mississippi.  So my seed vaults all contain cool weather varieties.  Tops for me are collard greens.  They grow early spring & late fall & produce huge crops of nutrient packed leaves.  I normally include some English peas, which also are cool loving, but this year I put them in my freezer in the barn, for very long term storage.  For warm weather varieties, my core crops are the three sisters, grown for ages by native Americans all over this country.  They include corn, pole beans & winter squash.  They are called companion plants because they all assist the others.  Corn grows tall & strong, and provides the support for the pole bean vines to grow on.  The pole beans, being a legume, fix nitrogen on their roots & provide natural fertilizer for the corn.  The winter squash vines stay low to the grown & provide ground cover to help maintain soil moisture & to smother weeds.

I always include amaranth in my seed stores and I feel amaranth is probably the most valuable variety for survival gardening.  It was a staple crop of the Maya civilization in central America.  Its leaves are super nutritious as are its seed.  Each plant can produce a half pound of seed each and the seed are tiny.  A single plant will produce hundreds of thousands of seed.  Amaranth in its native form, which I have growing wild on my property, is a weed.  You almost can’t kill it.  Across the country farmers fight it because it grows so well & reproduces so fast.  This family trait makes the commercial varieties so easy to grow.  They handle drought well, as do most weeds.  Cut the top half of the plant off, and in a few weeks it will have regrown.  These plants can get over 6 feet tall.  The seed can be ground into flour or eaten as a porridge.

So here is what is in this year’s seed vault:

10 lbs Rattlesnake pole beans   5 lbs Tennessee Red Cob corn, 5 lbs Truckers Favorite corn

1 lb Georgia Southern collards      1/4 lb Seminole pumpkins   1/4 lb Green Callallo amaranth

Seed count is as follows:  corn: 12,800     pole beans: 11,000      Seminole pumpkin: 1100

Georgia Southern collards: 100,000   Green Callallo amaranth: 150,000

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(EDIT: I’m stupid, BigBlue has an EU warehouse) Looking for a solar panel comparable to the BigBlue 3 (28 wat) in Europe

EDIT: 

Hi all,I’m looking to purchase a solar panel comparable to the BigBlue3, which performs ‘well enough’ in cloudy/overcast conditions. So far I could not find any retailer in Europe which does not sell it for a nearly 90% mark-up and was wondering if there are comparable panels available which are in a similar price bracket. Also just curious, but does anyone else have a habit of wanting to go light in weight which ends up succeeding. But then taking in extra things (camera, battery banks, bluetooth speaker/buds, a camping chair)  because there is left-over space/weight? (it helps with slowing me down and walking with the rest of my buddies though) 

Lastly thanks Prepared for all the research they have done, legends that they actually look at stats/data instead of using vague definitions. 

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Will 110 gal of water ruin my foundation?

I just purchased two of WaterPrepared’s 55 gal water tanks: https://waterprepared.com/products/blue-55-gallon-water-storage-tank. My plan was to store them in a corner of our outdoor shed, which is built on a concrete foundation. When I went to clear out that part of the shed, I noticed that there is severe cracking in the foundation all along the wall. See photo.

I don’t know if this is caused by:

1) the 400 lbs of water that is already stored on that side of the shed in 5 gal containers. But the water wasn’t stored in that corner–the row of 5 gal containers starts on the cardboard on the left side of the photo.

2) the current drought which is drying up our clay soil so that it contracts underneath the foundation. This is a major problem in our area; we have to put soaker hoses around our home’s slab foundation to keep it evenly moist or it will crack. We don’t have soaker hoses around the shed.

It’s only a shed, so I’m not very concerned about the foundation cracks. But I don’t want them to get majorly worse, like having that side of the shed sink 3 inches into the ground! Do I need to find a different place for the two 55 gal water tanks? Maybe putting them on the other side of the shed would be sufficient. I had hoped to be able to stack them in order to save space, which would mean about 900 lbs resting on about 4 sq. feet of space.

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What is a working (i.e., preppable) definition of “civil unrest” or disorder?

One discussion I find less satisfying in these forums is the occasional reference to civil unrest. Obviously these events happen with some frequency, but I don’t see any clear definitions of what this is, what kinds of specific threat it presents, and so on. Of course one of the problems with protests is that they can inspire fear and anger in observers, so one implied definition seems to be “political protests I don’t agree with.” In keeping with the rationalist approach of this site I’d like to have a discussion that’s more specific about the issue. This is especially important given rising social tensions and uncertainties.

Wikipedia has a reference list of events in the US. There’s other info about other western countries on line too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_civil_unrest_in_the_United_States

If you read through a few of the entries within the last 20 years, there are some common characteristics:

– They don’t emerge out of nowhere, meaning they’re usually preceded by a call to protest or other action by the actors, with dates and locations given.

– Spontaneous riots are relatively rare, and even then are often anticipated by police (sports events, controversial criminal cases, etc.).

– They very rarely spread outside a small area (a few city blocks, an industrial site, a politically charged memorial).

– They burn out within a days or weeks.

– Most of the time, they appear larger and worse in media/social media than they do up close.

So, in our recent experience with unrest in the West, there has never been an incident where every region of a city erupted into chaos, where a government collapsed, where vital infrastructure was destroyed, or where large numbers of bystanders were injured. But property damage, especially to non-involved parties has been significant and reprehensible at times.

I’ve taken part in protests myself (environmental) and have never wanted anything to get out of hand. I’ve also observed protests or large disturbances (sports events) that threatened to get out of hand, and just stayed away. I was safe after moving about two blocks away.

I am absolutely not deriding anyone who fears this kind of disorder, but I do think we should have some way of understanding how real the threat is, and how extensive it can be (number of people, geographic scope, amount of damage if any, etc.).

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What three firearms would you have for prepping?

If you could only have three firearms and cared about preparedness, what would you have? Don’t want to start a “the one true caliber” debate (let’s not open that can of worms just yet!), so this is more about platforms/types that work together well if things really get bad in the world.

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What are my fellow urban Canadians doing different about prepping? Here’s some of what I have done and worked.

I hope I’m not duplicating an existing thread, but I thought it would be useful to have some discussion specific to Canadian members, given differences in laws, available products, climate, infrastructure, etc. I’m a newish prepper and am interested in how others are setting themselves up. I live a in a city in Western Canada, in a condo, so I don’t have land, a garage, or tons of storage space. Given those limitations I’m still better set up than most people in my city.

First, my perspective. I really only focus on a two-week scenario. I’m assuming my plan would involved (1) bugging in, (2) assisting three elderly family members, (3) contending with overloaded public services, and (4) no “societal breakdown,” partly because that is such a vague concept. I have no problems with guns but don’t own any and don’t plan to (though I might get armor). There are very different laws here regarding weapons, self-defense, etc., and it would be good for Canadians to be aware of those.

My main scenarios are (1) loss of power during extreme cold or heat, (2) water system breakdown, (3) air contamination largely from fires.

I’ve developed my plan by asking, what would I need to get by, and what shortfalls/losses would I find demoralizing. So I’ve planned on the high end for maintaining hygiene and related items. If the water system went down, the prospect of 00s of 000s or millions of people pooping in their yards or plastic bags (ineptly and in a panic) raises concerns about air and water contamination, and obvious panics about supplies. 

I have food and water preps, medical, and air filtration, so far. I’m investigating solar generators and am debating which one I should get (affordable but also useable over 14 days), as well as a panel. I’d prefer to get a large unit and two smaller ones for elderly family members.

For the elderly family I’ll be assisting, the first question is whether they’re safe to remain at home, or join me. In general, I’ll want to stay away from hospitals and any emergency public service centers as they’ll be chaotic and unpredictable, so psychological and medical aid on site is preferable.

Because I have limited space and am not planning for a very extreme scenario, I’m not going into my preps in detail because they’re pretty standard. But I’m curious what other Canadians, especially urban dwellers, are doing.

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Happy Fathers Day! What has your dad taught you?

I am not a father or am anywhere near being a father any time soon (just graduated from high school), but I thought it would be nice to talk about ways that our fathers have taught us skills or lessons that can apply to discussions on this forum.

I always enjoyed camping with my parents growing up and learning things like how to start a fire and set up a tent safely while looking for dead overhead branches and making sure you don’t sleep with your head going downhill.

Love you dad!

-Tim 

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Bald eagle photobombs my horses.

I was on the tractor down in the bottom pasture cutting the grass when I noticed my horses at the pond.  I started a video, hoping they would play in the water.  Just then, one of my resident bald eagles decided to photobomb the horses.  I do so love these eagles.

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Budget emergency radio – is this a reasonable option?

I’m looking to get an emergency radio that would be suitable for my go bag, and I’m on a limited budget. This option is turning up on a website where I’m looking for other things, and the $20 CAD price seems great: https://72hours.ca/collections/radio-and-communication/products/72hrs-crusader-mini-noaa-radio-am-fm

Is there an obvious reason it would be a bad choice?

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Seeking ideas for prepper related challenges/experiments

For years I’ve been doing various prepper-type challenges, sometimes with a friend and sometimes by myself, but we’re kind of running out of fresh ideas lately.  I thought maybe this community would have some good suggestions:)

To give an idea of the sort of thing I’m talking about, past challenges have included “a year without a water heater” “cut a season’s worth of firewood by hand” and “a month eating only wild food foraged day by day – no dipping into stored food.”

So please don’t suggest anything as simple as “practice a fire drill” nor as extreme as “walk into the woods and see how long you can live out of your BOB.”  (Which sounds fun, but I have responsibilities at home.)

Right now I’m following a project to use WWII era ration stamps as though it’s 1943, although that’s more historical then truly prepping related, as there’s no reason to think that the same foods would be rationed in the same amounts should a similar program ever be needed.

If anyone has ideas please share them.  Bonus if it’s something you’ve done yourself or would be willing to do, because then we could compare notes on here:)

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Sanding down a cast iron pan for that “smooth as glass” finish – Awesome results!

Just a heads up, but I am very new to the world of cast iron cookware so hopefully you seasoned veterans (cast iron pun) will go easy on me. I know cast iron people are very opinionated.

– – –

Being new to cast iron, I always wanted to strive towards that “smooth as glass” finish that people seem to get. Where an egg will just slide off not leaving anything behind, but after years of working towards it I never could get it to be as non-stick as I would have liked it to be. There are some techniques that I learned about a year ago that did make a big difference like only using the smallest amount of oil and applying it to a hot pan in between cookings instead of a large amount of oil to a cold pan like I was doing, but I still knew I could get it better.

While watching some YouTube videos of Cowboy Kent Rollins, I came across a video of him talking about using actual sand paper on your cast iron to shave years of wear off of it. He says that you could get to that finish naturally in like 30 years of use, but in just a few minutes you can fast track the process and get to enjoying your pan sooner.

Looking into it further I learned that cast iron cookware is called such because the iron is cast into a mold made of sand, which is why it has that rough texture. If you look close on your pan you will understand what I am talking about and see all the grains of sand that the iron formed around. This texture however, makes for a lousy cooking surface and is why you have to apply layers of seasoning to fill in these holes and pores to get that smooth surface.

You can do this solely by hand, but a cheap $15-$20 electric sander will make it go by much more quickly. There still will be areas that the sander can’t reach that need to be buffed by hand though. I first started off with some cheap sand paper but was going through it very quickly and not much material was coming off. I then switched to my good stuff and it made a world of difference. I highly recommend 3M’s pro grade precision sand paper with Cubitron II technology. For this project or wood working, this is the best stuff that lasts extremely long.

Start out with a course grit sand paper (like 60 grit) and take the bulk of the material down, buff down sharp points, and get it to more or less how you would like it to be. Then follow up with some medium grit (like 120-150 grit) to smooth things out more.

The goal here is just to knock down the high points and not to get it down to a mirror finish. There needs to be some pitting and texture for the seasoning to adhere to.

Here’s a video showing the before and after in better detail than a picture is able to do.

This will strip any existing seasoning on your pan and you will have to start it over from scratch. The bare iron that you have exposed will be very sensitive to rusting so you need to at least put on two layers of seasoning before you start using it. Do this by preheating your oven to 450–500 degrees F. Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any excess oil. Apply a very thin layer of oil on your cookware and place it upside down on the center rack. This helps prevent oil from pooling on the cooking surface. Bake for 1 hour. Take it out, let it cool down, and repeat and it is ready for use.

Did it work? Yes! After about a month of regular use, a good seasoning built up again and I finally got that non-stick finish that I was looking for. It is just so much nicer to cook in now. Here’s the residue that was left after cooking some eggs:

Getting that cooking surface to a non-stick finish was great but another benefit of going through this sanding process was that I was able to knock down the sharp edges of the pan and handle. I can’t stress enough how great it feels in the hand now compared to what it used to be like.

I have two more skillets and a dutch oven that I want to apply this finishing process on. This took a cheap Lodge pan and transformed it into a much higher quality pan that functions and feels significantly better.

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