Discussions

Interesting.  There’s nothing listed in my very rural area – certainly not close enough to be worth the drive – but in digitally exploring some of the nearest small cities, I think the site has potential, but also some serious flaws.  I like the overall goal of avoiding food waste, especially as it relates to non-wild foods like planted fruit trees in someone’s yard.  I also think it’s cool that some of the listings were posted by the owners themselves. But now for the flaws: 1. Many of the listings just say they are “on public land” and almost seem to assume public = okay to forage, which is very much not the case.  It would be helpful if they said what kind of public land, so one could confirm the rules for foraging on it, and avoid massive fines. 2. Listings that say they’re on private land and you should ask permission, but aren’t listed by the owner, leave me wondering whether this is with the owner’s knowledge/consent, or if they’re just wondering why a bunch of weirdos are showing up asking to pick their fruit. 3. Related, there are no dates for when this info was posted or refreshed (unless I overlooked them) so even when it’s listed by the owner, they could have moved years ago and you’d be showing up in some random person’s yard who knows nothing about the project. 4. One city had all it’s old sugar maples that line the downtown area listed.  Now, I know for a fact that the public is not allowed to tap those for sap!  One guy got fined just for putting a thumb tack in one – the city is very protective of it’s old maple trees!  Though, maybe the idea is to sweep up maple seeds from the sidewalk to eat, which would probably be tolerated.  I just think these sorts of things should perhaps be noted, so people aren’t misled into doing something stupid. 5. I didn’t like seeing truly wild native foods, especially somewhat rare ones, listed when they were in parks or nature preserves.  It’s one thing if someone visiting the park happens to stumble upon something rare and can’t resist a nibble, but advertising the location could lead to over-harvesting.  As both an avid (but always sustainable) forager myself, and the caretaker of a nature preserve, it’s an issue I’m keenly aware of.  Overall I feel like the site needs some work, but is a nice idea.  If there were something domestic – like pears going to waste – near me, I would go check it out for sure, but I just wish there were a little reassurance like, “The owner likes to know when someone’s out there, knock on the door and ask for Sam.” because although I have been known to knock on random doors and ask for windfall fruit, it’s pretty awkward, and I think the older I get the weirder it probably seems. 

It’s the potential for regional power outages I’m concerned about for the freezer.  In a local outage the simplest solution is generally to move the food and/or whole freezer to somewhere that has electricity.  So far we have lucked out every time – either my parent’s place eight miles away has power, the freezer is at it’s lowest getting ready for a clean out anyway, or the outside temperature is cold enough to use the screen porch as a deep freeze – though it’s debatable how “lucky” that last one is!  A family member also owns a business in the commercial district of a city about an hour away, which so far (there’s that phrase again, though!) has always been restored fairly quickly, so in most prolonged power outages effecting our rural county, we could move frozen stuff there for the duration if necessary.  But if the city lost power for a long time too, we would not only lose the option of storing frozen food there, but I don’t much like our odds of being able to obtain gasoline or refill propane tanks, either, and then it’s bye bye freezer food 🙁 I think I’ve more or less come to terms with this possibility though.  I hate food waste because of the resources that went into obtaining it, but driving back and forth hundreds of miles to get gas – or for that matter buying and maintaining a generator itself when there’s only one thing we need it for – would be more wasteful of resources in the big picture, even if it might not irk me to the same degree as losing a freezer full of venison would. The bottom line is, no one has ever died of freezer failure.   It’s more important to focus on things like keeping everyone warm or cool, hydrated, fed, maintaining a reasonable level of hygiene, et cetera. BTW I think if you can’t have a woodstove the gas heater is a great idea, as long as you always have fresh batteries for the monoxide detectors.  Another thing you might consider as a backup to the backup, are hot water bottles – I recommend at least two per person.  They stay hot a surprisingly long time, and a quick excursion outdoors to heat water on a grill or open fire is very worth it for several hours of keeping cozy under blankets indoors, one bottle on the feet and one on the chest.  They’re great for winter camping trips, too!

The power grid here has never exactly been what I would call reliable – outages of 3 to 5 days have been common throughout my life, and the longest lasted 17 days – but I agree it is only going to get worse, especially in rural areas, which are the last to be restored. Our biggest challenge would be the chest freezer.  Not just potential to lose whatever food was in it at the time but also if an outage went on for months or years, not being able to preserve food by what is arguably the best and easiest method currently available to us.  There are a number of reasons a large solar setup isn’t an option for us, and I have zero interest in running a generator long term, so I think this is basically just a risk we have to put up with.  The closest we’ve come to mitigating it is to can, dry, or ferment at least some of our harvest every year, just to stay in practice.  But that will be a poor substitute for the convenience of tossing things in the freezer. For the most part I like to lump prepping for a really long power outage in with prepping for TEOTWAWKI, because that makes it feel fun instead of like a boring chore.  If we could survive without it permanently, then we’ll be fine with out it for six months or a year or whatever, too 🙂  My friend has jokingly named this ABITWAWKI (A Break In The World As We Know It) because we would have to make serious adjustments to the way we live, but eventually things would return to normal. 

I’m a little unclear on whether you’re thinking about a vacation property only, or something that would double as a permanent home in the event of a long-term bugout, but if the latter, you may want to rethink the Michigan part.  With climate change destabilizing the polar vortex and spilling arctic air on us at random times, both winter weather and our already short growing season are becoming increasingly unpredictable, and this is only expected to get worse over the coming decade.  A few years back we lost many of our perennials and fruit bushes to record cold winter temperatures – I don’t just mean the next year’s crop, but the actual plants – and the same cold snap burst the waterlines from our well to house and barn, which had never before frozen.  They have since been reburied at six feet, but we’ll see how many more years that buys us. . .  Springs are getting noticeably less predictable too, delaying planting, and a friend a few hours north of me has seen July frosts twice in the last decade (he’s in his seventies and had never dealt with this before.)  Things are changing scary fast!  I’m on third generation family land I’m very attached too, so I’m pretty much going to stay here until I freeze or starve in place, but if I were free to look around the country and choose a place to survive in, rural Michigan would very much not make the list.  Living self sufficiently here is just going to keep getting harder. On the other hand, if it’s just vacation land you’re looking for, the UP is gorgeous!  One thing you will want to make sure of though, is that you either own the mineral rights or are not in a mining area.  Also (speaking of copper mining) the water quality is very poor in some parts of the UP, so before paying to have a well drilled, you should at least talk to neighbors and make sure their wells produce drinkable water, increasing the odds that yours will too. And if you plan to spend winters there, an all wheel drive vehicle with your own snowplow is almost a must.  It can take a long time for county plows to get out to the more remote areas, and even longer for a private plowing company to get to all their clients driveways, after a big snow event.

For reasons I don’t understand, no brand of commercial adhesive bandage or butterfly bandage has ever stuck well to my skin.  They just fall off twenty minutes later.  Oddly enough what does stick is ordinary office tape.  Depending on the type and severity of a wound, I use tape alone to hold the edges closed, toilet paper and tape (if very minor) or a square of sterile gauze and tape for more serious injuries.  I would never use duct tape though – ouch! Regarding cloth bandages for serious wounds, I think one would want to boil them (not just wash) and then dry them quickly in a sanitary way.  That’s what was done during the few decades between people learning about germs, and reusable cloth bandages falling out of use.  But due to that challenge of getting them dry without allowing them to become contaminated, it should really be a last resort! This year I’m using only wildcrafted medicine, but so far I haven’t been injured badly enough to need to wildcraft a bandage of any kind.  I will keep you posted! You can read about my wildcrafted hand balm (which btw has still not gone rancid at all) here in my thread on seeking challenge ideas: https://theprepared.com/forum/thread/seeking-ideas-for-prepper-related-challenges-experiments/ Besides treating a poison ivy rash with local red clay instead of my usual go-to of bentonite clay, there hasn’t really been anything else to report, but if there is later perhaps I will post it here in your thread – a better fit.

Nice kit. I wondered though, have you actually tried carrying the whole setup any distance, with your pup in it?  I’ve found in the past that combining a frontpack and backpack was much, much harder on my spine and shoulders than expected.  I’m sure this varies a lot person to person, and likely also with the particular gear and how well it fits your body, but it is definitely something you’ll want to practice with before an emergency.  For myself, rolling everything from the frontpack into a small tarp and strapping it to the backpack proved a much more comfortable carrying method. And this is just a silly detail, but I saw no mention of a needle.  If the dental floss is also for thread, you will probably want a needle, no?  I keep one taped to the side of the dental floss container itself with a little piece of duct tape, which can be lifted up and re-stuck again and again.  Also, a little tip, it makes much stronger thread if you twist it before sewing with it. Thanks for sharing, and for looking out for your pup.  You are fortunate she’s small enough to carry on your back.  I’ve never felt less prepared in my life than when I had an elderly 140 lb. dog with a heart condition and arthritis.  I don’t think I’d ever personally get a pet that big again, although other members of my household/land have four large dogs spread between them, so as a group we may one day find ourselves in the same situation again. 

I think you’ve already come up with a great starter list. Under food supply/production I would add to focus on growing local landraces and/or heirloom varieties that do well in your area, and learn the proper seed saving techniques for each plant.  For example a common beginner mistake is to either save the first seeds from everything (like the first head of lettuce to bolt, which is NOT what you want to select for) or the last seeds from everything, like greenbeans or tomatoes that will thus end up requiring a longer and longer growing season.  It is surprising how few seed generations it takes for some domestic plants to show noticeable change, for better or worse.  Also make sure local farmers you’re counting on trading with have a local supply chain themselves, and don’t rely too heavily on fossil fuel dependent mechanical equipment, chemical fertilizer, feed shipped in from thousands of miles away, et cetera.  Everything is so connected these days, that this part is much easier said than done!  Small organic farms are sometimes almost a closed cycle system though, and generally happy to discuss details of their operation with anyone who will listen. I might have more ideas to share on other aspects later, but those are the two that popped into my mind for now.  I do think it’s important to remind ourselves sometimes that all this dependence on modern convenience is a very recent development compared to the full span of human history.  People thrived without any of it for thousands of years, they were just used to hard work, and also didn’t know about all the things they were missing out on – like delicious foods grown in other parts of the world! I spent most of my childhood on a primitive wilderness homestead (no electric, no plumbing, no car, no gas tools) so I think I have kind of an unusual perspective on the feasibility of life without fossil fuel.  Although even so, I realize that we were indirectly relying on it in some ways, like to mine and process the iron that went into making our wood stove, for just one example out of many. 


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Interesting.  There’s nothing listed in my very rural area – certainly not close enough to be worth the drive – but in digitally exploring some of the nearest small cities, I think the site has potential, but also some serious flaws.  I like the overall goal of avoiding food waste, especially as it relates to non-wild foods like planted fruit trees in someone’s yard.  I also think it’s cool that some of the listings were posted by the owners themselves. But now for the flaws: 1. Many of the listings just say they are “on public land” and almost seem to assume public = okay to forage, which is very much not the case.  It would be helpful if they said what kind of public land, so one could confirm the rules for foraging on it, and avoid massive fines. 2. Listings that say they’re on private land and you should ask permission, but aren’t listed by the owner, leave me wondering whether this is with the owner’s knowledge/consent, or if they’re just wondering why a bunch of weirdos are showing up asking to pick their fruit. 3. Related, there are no dates for when this info was posted or refreshed (unless I overlooked them) so even when it’s listed by the owner, they could have moved years ago and you’d be showing up in some random person’s yard who knows nothing about the project. 4. One city had all it’s old sugar maples that line the downtown area listed.  Now, I know for a fact that the public is not allowed to tap those for sap!  One guy got fined just for putting a thumb tack in one – the city is very protective of it’s old maple trees!  Though, maybe the idea is to sweep up maple seeds from the sidewalk to eat, which would probably be tolerated.  I just think these sorts of things should perhaps be noted, so people aren’t misled into doing something stupid. 5. I didn’t like seeing truly wild native foods, especially somewhat rare ones, listed when they were in parks or nature preserves.  It’s one thing if someone visiting the park happens to stumble upon something rare and can’t resist a nibble, but advertising the location could lead to over-harvesting.  As both an avid (but always sustainable) forager myself, and the caretaker of a nature preserve, it’s an issue I’m keenly aware of.  Overall I feel like the site needs some work, but is a nice idea.  If there were something domestic – like pears going to waste – near me, I would go check it out for sure, but I just wish there were a little reassurance like, “The owner likes to know when someone’s out there, knock on the door and ask for Sam.” because although I have been known to knock on random doors and ask for windfall fruit, it’s pretty awkward, and I think the older I get the weirder it probably seems. 

It’s the potential for regional power outages I’m concerned about for the freezer.  In a local outage the simplest solution is generally to move the food and/or whole freezer to somewhere that has electricity.  So far we have lucked out every time – either my parent’s place eight miles away has power, the freezer is at it’s lowest getting ready for a clean out anyway, or the outside temperature is cold enough to use the screen porch as a deep freeze – though it’s debatable how “lucky” that last one is!  A family member also owns a business in the commercial district of a city about an hour away, which so far (there’s that phrase again, though!) has always been restored fairly quickly, so in most prolonged power outages effecting our rural county, we could move frozen stuff there for the duration if necessary.  But if the city lost power for a long time too, we would not only lose the option of storing frozen food there, but I don’t much like our odds of being able to obtain gasoline or refill propane tanks, either, and then it’s bye bye freezer food 🙁 I think I’ve more or less come to terms with this possibility though.  I hate food waste because of the resources that went into obtaining it, but driving back and forth hundreds of miles to get gas – or for that matter buying and maintaining a generator itself when there’s only one thing we need it for – would be more wasteful of resources in the big picture, even if it might not irk me to the same degree as losing a freezer full of venison would. The bottom line is, no one has ever died of freezer failure.   It’s more important to focus on things like keeping everyone warm or cool, hydrated, fed, maintaining a reasonable level of hygiene, et cetera. BTW I think if you can’t have a woodstove the gas heater is a great idea, as long as you always have fresh batteries for the monoxide detectors.  Another thing you might consider as a backup to the backup, are hot water bottles – I recommend at least two per person.  They stay hot a surprisingly long time, and a quick excursion outdoors to heat water on a grill or open fire is very worth it for several hours of keeping cozy under blankets indoors, one bottle on the feet and one on the chest.  They’re great for winter camping trips, too!

The power grid here has never exactly been what I would call reliable – outages of 3 to 5 days have been common throughout my life, and the longest lasted 17 days – but I agree it is only going to get worse, especially in rural areas, which are the last to be restored. Our biggest challenge would be the chest freezer.  Not just potential to lose whatever food was in it at the time but also if an outage went on for months or years, not being able to preserve food by what is arguably the best and easiest method currently available to us.  There are a number of reasons a large solar setup isn’t an option for us, and I have zero interest in running a generator long term, so I think this is basically just a risk we have to put up with.  The closest we’ve come to mitigating it is to can, dry, or ferment at least some of our harvest every year, just to stay in practice.  But that will be a poor substitute for the convenience of tossing things in the freezer. For the most part I like to lump prepping for a really long power outage in with prepping for TEOTWAWKI, because that makes it feel fun instead of like a boring chore.  If we could survive without it permanently, then we’ll be fine with out it for six months or a year or whatever, too 🙂  My friend has jokingly named this ABITWAWKI (A Break In The World As We Know It) because we would have to make serious adjustments to the way we live, but eventually things would return to normal. 

I’m a little unclear on whether you’re thinking about a vacation property only, or something that would double as a permanent home in the event of a long-term bugout, but if the latter, you may want to rethink the Michigan part.  With climate change destabilizing the polar vortex and spilling arctic air on us at random times, both winter weather and our already short growing season are becoming increasingly unpredictable, and this is only expected to get worse over the coming decade.  A few years back we lost many of our perennials and fruit bushes to record cold winter temperatures – I don’t just mean the next year’s crop, but the actual plants – and the same cold snap burst the waterlines from our well to house and barn, which had never before frozen.  They have since been reburied at six feet, but we’ll see how many more years that buys us. . .  Springs are getting noticeably less predictable too, delaying planting, and a friend a few hours north of me has seen July frosts twice in the last decade (he’s in his seventies and had never dealt with this before.)  Things are changing scary fast!  I’m on third generation family land I’m very attached too, so I’m pretty much going to stay here until I freeze or starve in place, but if I were free to look around the country and choose a place to survive in, rural Michigan would very much not make the list.  Living self sufficiently here is just going to keep getting harder. On the other hand, if it’s just vacation land you’re looking for, the UP is gorgeous!  One thing you will want to make sure of though, is that you either own the mineral rights or are not in a mining area.  Also (speaking of copper mining) the water quality is very poor in some parts of the UP, so before paying to have a well drilled, you should at least talk to neighbors and make sure their wells produce drinkable water, increasing the odds that yours will too. And if you plan to spend winters there, an all wheel drive vehicle with your own snowplow is almost a must.  It can take a long time for county plows to get out to the more remote areas, and even longer for a private plowing company to get to all their clients driveways, after a big snow event.

For reasons I don’t understand, no brand of commercial adhesive bandage or butterfly bandage has ever stuck well to my skin.  They just fall off twenty minutes later.  Oddly enough what does stick is ordinary office tape.  Depending on the type and severity of a wound, I use tape alone to hold the edges closed, toilet paper and tape (if very minor) or a square of sterile gauze and tape for more serious injuries.  I would never use duct tape though – ouch! Regarding cloth bandages for serious wounds, I think one would want to boil them (not just wash) and then dry them quickly in a sanitary way.  That’s what was done during the few decades between people learning about germs, and reusable cloth bandages falling out of use.  But due to that challenge of getting them dry without allowing them to become contaminated, it should really be a last resort! This year I’m using only wildcrafted medicine, but so far I haven’t been injured badly enough to need to wildcraft a bandage of any kind.  I will keep you posted! You can read about my wildcrafted hand balm (which btw has still not gone rancid at all) here in my thread on seeking challenge ideas: https://theprepared.com/forum/thread/seeking-ideas-for-prepper-related-challenges-experiments/ Besides treating a poison ivy rash with local red clay instead of my usual go-to of bentonite clay, there hasn’t really been anything else to report, but if there is later perhaps I will post it here in your thread – a better fit.

Nice kit. I wondered though, have you actually tried carrying the whole setup any distance, with your pup in it?  I’ve found in the past that combining a frontpack and backpack was much, much harder on my spine and shoulders than expected.  I’m sure this varies a lot person to person, and likely also with the particular gear and how well it fits your body, but it is definitely something you’ll want to practice with before an emergency.  For myself, rolling everything from the frontpack into a small tarp and strapping it to the backpack proved a much more comfortable carrying method. And this is just a silly detail, but I saw no mention of a needle.  If the dental floss is also for thread, you will probably want a needle, no?  I keep one taped to the side of the dental floss container itself with a little piece of duct tape, which can be lifted up and re-stuck again and again.  Also, a little tip, it makes much stronger thread if you twist it before sewing with it. Thanks for sharing, and for looking out for your pup.  You are fortunate she’s small enough to carry on your back.  I’ve never felt less prepared in my life than when I had an elderly 140 lb. dog with a heart condition and arthritis.  I don’t think I’d ever personally get a pet that big again, although other members of my household/land have four large dogs spread between them, so as a group we may one day find ourselves in the same situation again. 

I think you’ve already come up with a great starter list. Under food supply/production I would add to focus on growing local landraces and/or heirloom varieties that do well in your area, and learn the proper seed saving techniques for each plant.  For example a common beginner mistake is to either save the first seeds from everything (like the first head of lettuce to bolt, which is NOT what you want to select for) or the last seeds from everything, like greenbeans or tomatoes that will thus end up requiring a longer and longer growing season.  It is surprising how few seed generations it takes for some domestic plants to show noticeable change, for better or worse.  Also make sure local farmers you’re counting on trading with have a local supply chain themselves, and don’t rely too heavily on fossil fuel dependent mechanical equipment, chemical fertilizer, feed shipped in from thousands of miles away, et cetera.  Everything is so connected these days, that this part is much easier said than done!  Small organic farms are sometimes almost a closed cycle system though, and generally happy to discuss details of their operation with anyone who will listen. I might have more ideas to share on other aspects later, but those are the two that popped into my mind for now.  I do think it’s important to remind ourselves sometimes that all this dependence on modern convenience is a very recent development compared to the full span of human history.  People thrived without any of it for thousands of years, they were just used to hard work, and also didn’t know about all the things they were missing out on – like delicious foods grown in other parts of the world! I spent most of my childhood on a primitive wilderness homestead (no electric, no plumbing, no car, no gas tools) so I think I have kind of an unusual perspective on the feasibility of life without fossil fuel.  Although even so, I realize that we were indirectly relying on it in some ways, like to mine and process the iron that went into making our wood stove, for just one example out of many. 


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