Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Free Land For Preppers?

The government is giving away free land and farming equipment. Sort of. If you are eagerly awaiting the day that you can buy your dream land and build a prepper retreat or start homesteading, there are ways to accomplish the self-reliance goal without getting a loan.

Even in our modern technology-addicted era, the powers that be do appear to still respect the importance of farming and homesteading in America. Nearly half of the farmers in the United States are age 55 or over. Family farms have been disappearing at an alarming rate for at least the past five years. Who will soon be left to grow our food? How stable is the food supply? Both are excellent and disturbing questions.

Preppers and homesteaders are keenly focused on self-reliance and growing/raising their own food. Having the available funds to purchase land or to improve existing land is a problem encountered by many rural preppers and non-preppers alike. Grants to buy farmland, improve the land, develop an agricultural business, build structures, and purchase livestock are readily available, if you know where to look.

The politicians may not have envisioned that 5 million or more preppers in America would seek to take advantage of the free land and farming equipment programs in an effort to ensure their survival during a SHTF situation. However, there is nothing in regulations that prohibits prepping families from taking advantage of the bountiful offers. Click here to read the rest of my land report on Survival Based!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Survival Tracking Guide Part 2

The first installment in this three-part eFoodsDirect survival tracking series introduced the concept of reading human footprints and movements in the woods. Knowing who you are sharing a trail with, or learning as much as possible about prints found near the perimeter of your prepper retreat, is information that could save your life in a survival situation.

Key Prints

Key prints refers to the most recent footprints found in a given area. The average shoe size of an American male is 10 ½. The average shoe size of an American female is 8 wide. The majority of women in the United States wear shoes between sizes 6 ½ and 9 ½. This makes large female feet just a tiny bit smaller than the average man’s foot, making it harder to determine the sex of key prints. Male feet tend to be wider, but not always, as the average female shoe size reveals.

Determining print size in inches is a simplistic and long-used method of determining the sex of the person who left the tracks. Knowing what size your feet are in inches will help pinpoint the exact size of the key prints. Place a twig next to your foot and break it off to match the size as closely as possible. A size 8 women’s shoe is 9.5 inches long, and a men’s size 10 ½ shoe is about 10.75 inches long, making the average male foot nearly one foot long. From the bottom of the stick to the top, use a two-finger width to notch basic measurements with a knife. The width of two fingers is about equal to about 1 ½ inches. Using your body as a ruler will not foster exact measurement that will earn you an A in a math class, but it will allow for ballpark measurements of any prints that you encounter in the woods.

Counting Prints

Military snipers have also perfected what has been deemed as the “box method” to enable the counting of prints to determine how many people were walking together. Click here to read the rest of my survival tracking part 2 report on eFoodsDirect!

Baking Soda Survival Uses

Baking soda is capable of doing far more than just reducing food odors in your refrigerator. Rediscovering the skills of our ancestors and learning how to become more self-reliant is an ongoing process of both education and discovery.

During World War II women left waiting on the home front took “doing more with less” to a new level. American families conserved what they had while finding new uses for everyday products. Baking soda was not rationed as many other former staples were during the war.

WWII housewives, to keep their homes functioning as normally as possible, found new ways to utilize baking soda in the kitchen, the bathroom and the medicine cabinet.

 Top Baking Soda Survival Uses

Baking Soda Medical Uses
  • Bee Stings – Apply a paste comprising equal parts baking soda and water to draw out the stinger and reduce swelling. The same paste can also help reduce the inflammation of bug bites.
  • Oral Sores – Mix a pinch of salt, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda together and gargle.
  • Common Cold – Make shower vaporizer disks to help relieve a stuffy nose and sinus headache. Mix together 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil with 2 cups of baking soda. Add just enough water to create a thick putty. Put the mixture into muffin tins and allow it to air dry for 24 hours. Turn the tins over to release the homemade vaporizer disk and place on shower drain. The steam from the hot water in the shower will activate the disk as it dissolves. You can also place the disk in a bowl of hot water while the ill individual leans over the bowl with a towel-covered head. For such close contact with the disk, breaking it in half is advised.
  • Click here to read the top baking soda survival uses in my report on Survival Based!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Prepping With Babies And Toddler Tips

mutual assistance groups
Incorporating babies into your preparedness plan, both current and future little bundles of joy, takes a significant amount of detailed planning. We have four incredibly intelligent and adorable grandchildren ranging in age from not-quite-here-yet to 17. Thoroughly reviewing their essential needs and developing a plan to meet those needs seemed a bit daunting at first. But as all veteran preppers know, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Once I had a categorized list of vital, secondary, and morale-boosting items, I breathed a massive sigh of relief and began working baby and youth preps into our weekly and monthly TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) purchasing and training objectives.

Begin the prepping baby goals by placing the three biggies at the top of the list: food, clothing and shelter. Taking small steps toward preparing to survive a disaster with babies and young children will help you accomplish the most important steps first and help prevent an overwhelming sense of panicked angst.

I have likened the process of prepping for babies to going Christmas shopping for a large family. If your holiday list nearly rolls out of your hand and onto the floor like mine does, stress can occur quickly. By sorting the list by either family groups or by age, you can strike a name from a single group when each gift is purchased and then mark the entire group as finished. Click here to read the rest of my prepping with babies report on Survival Based!

Best Alternative Light Sources For Prepper

Prepping for a long-term disaster, no matter what type of disaster you feel is most likely to impact your life, should involve plans to light the home or survival retreat. Generators are the obvious choice to continue to power and light your home during a disaster, but fuel could run out long before the SHTF scenario has stabilized.

If the power grid fails, it could be months or even years before the electrical system is repaired. Should the grid go down due to a solar flare or EMP attack, the amount of time taken to get the system up and running again would be significantly longer, if ever. As previously reported by eFoodsDirect, the federal government does not have a massive stockpile of power grid transformers, wire and other necessary parts stored safely away in Faraday cages.

During a TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) situation we will all likely be up early engaging in physical labor on the homestead and going to bed very early, except when it is your turn on watch. The need to keep a low profile at night to avoid unwanted attention also negates the need to keep some type of light burning inside the home after the sun goes down.

However, possessing the ability to light the home is still important and should be factored into the prepping budget. During the evening hours an illness could strike, a loved one (or multiple loved ones) could become wounded and need medical attention, or a baby could decide to enter the world. Addressing any one of these issues would be difficult or impossible to do at night without a light source. Click here to read the rest of my top 10 prepper light sources report for eFoodsDirect!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Survival Hacks - Off Label Uses Of Common Household Products

Preppers are experts at penny-pinching and finding multiple uses for many of the items in their survival stockpiles. Expanding upon that notion, I decided to do some research and conduct a thorough inventory of the “non-preps” already gathering a bit of dust around the house.

The results of my very unscientific study revealed that some quality preps might be going unnoticed in the closets and cabinets of preppers across the country and around the world. In addition to finding off-label and dual-use items hiding in my pantry, my research also gave me a few dozen more preps to look for once the store shelves empty of all obviously essential items during a post-disaster panic.

 Baking Soda

There are a plethora of survival and homesteading uses for baking soda that you may already be planning to use during a disaster. But there are a few oldies but goodies that were commonly used during the 40s and 50s that may have gone unnoticed.
• Splinter Removal - To remove a splinter, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and one cup of water and soak the affected area. Let the area soak for about five minutes and repeat for a day or two until the unwanted material works its way out of the skin. This method may be preferable to picking at the splinter with tweezers or a knife and creating a larger open wound, which could easily become infected. Even a small infection can turn deadly during a long-term disaster. Keeping up to date on Tetanus shots is highly advisable — and could save your life.
• Chicken Feathers – To remove feathers easily and to rid the bird of any possible parasites, boil the chicken in a pot of water mixed with 1 teaspoon baking soda.
• Baby Bottles – Keeping baby healthy during a SHTF scenario means that baby bottles and pacifiers must be kept clean and sterile. To rid baby bottles of mother’s milk residue or old formula and germs, pour ½ cup of baking soda into a tub of hot water. Allow the bottles to become fully submerged and let them soak for several minutes before scrubbing.
Click here to read the rest of my report on Survival Based!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Alcohol Survival Tips All Preppers Need To Know!

Alcohol has earned its place near the top of any survival preparedness list. Both “gotta be 21 to buy” alcohol and rubbing alcohol have a multitude of uses that could help you survive an apocalypse. Nearly any version of booze will become a high-priced barter item during a long-term disaster, but pure grain alcohol, such as Everclear, has an especially high level of alcohol content and therefore boasts more survival benefits.

Everclear can be purchased in both 95 percent alcohol and 75.5 percent alcohol content varieties. Although it could land you behind bars right now, after a SHTF scenario occurs, the legalities involving moonshine will likely be far less of a concern. The Appalachian favorite , moonshine, is the king of all grain alcohols. Making the legal purchase of a copper still, or learning how to make such a moonshine device, could prove to be an excellent barter and survival tool later.

Everclear is not currently legal to sell in all states. You can purchase a bottle of the grain alcohol in Ohio, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. If Everclear is unavailable in your state, substitute other high-alcohol-content vodka brands in your preps. Should you decide to purchase a gin or whiskey, make sure the alcohol content is at least 70 proof to ensure that the booze will burn.

The grain alcohol content in booze is defined by taking twice the percentage of alcohol by volume. If the label says the bottle contains a liquid that is 100-proof, it contains booze that equals 50 percent alcohol by volume.

Click here to read more of my alcohol preps that could save you during a disaster report on Survival Based!

Survival Guide Part 1 - How To Make Your Own Antibiotics

Preparing for the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) is a daunting task, to say the least. Breaking down your survival plan into specific categories makes both budgeting for the purchases and keeping an accurate inventory of your preps an organized endeavor.

The survival guide series will offer preparedness hacks and detailed tutorials to help both novice and veteran preppers add to their SHTF stockpiles in multiple categories — and as inexpensively as possible. In addition to working our way through each category of our survival plan on a regular basis, my husband and I also budget long-term storage food purchases into our weekly prepping schedule. Amassing enough shelf-stable food to feed our immediate family for 1 year occurred quickly by doing our meal planning and purchasing in that manner.

Homemade Natural Antibiotics

People have been making their own natural medicines for thousands of years. Some of the best recipes have been passed down through the generations on paper and have made their way to the internet as well. How well any home remedy works may vary depending upon the individual and the state of their overall health. Even though the ingredients in the remedies are all natural, checking with your doctor before use to avoid any health risks is highly recommended.

Turmeric has been a staple in natural healing recipes by various cultures around the globe for centuries. When the spice is combined with the many nutrients found in honey, a strong all-natural antibiotic is created.
Click here to read the rest of my survival guide on eFoodsDirect!

Survival Guide Part 2 - Cooking During A SHTF Scenario

Cooking and heating your home once the power grid fails could be accomplished in a variety of ways. Waiting until a SHTF scenario occurs is definitely not the right time to learn how to cook with cast iron over an open flame, use a rocket stove, or make and utilize a solar oven.

The prepper motto, “Two is one and one is none” should be applied to the off-grid or disaster cooking preparedness plan — and every aspect of your survival regimen as well. Learn how to make and use a variety of different cooking and heating implements so you can feed and warm your loved ones in spite of the changes that would likely occur during a doomsday disaster.

Camp stoves and ovens as well as indoor propane stoves are excellent “first options” for off grid or disaster cooking, but eventually the propane might run out. Should the power grid fail or a nuclear war occur, tractor-trailers will not be pulling into the local big box store for months, possibly years — or maybe never again.

2 Person 72-Hour Kit – delicious long-term storage food at an affordable price!
long-term food storage deals
2 person 72-hour kit Includes: 1 pouch Creamy Stroganoff, 1 pouch Rio Grande Beans & Rice, 1 pouch Texan Sunrise Skillet, 1 pouch White Rice, 2 pouches 100% Real Milk, 2 pouches Artisan Oatmeal, 2 pouches Nantucket Potato Soup, 2 pouches Refreshing Orange drink, and 2 pouches Rotini á la Marinara. 2 pouches Southwest White Bean Chili

Fireplaces and wood stoves will keep your home warm and provide a heat source for cooking, but it takes some trial and error to learn the exact cooking times and temperature for meals prepared in this manner. A seemingly endless supply of wood to fuel your fireplace and wood stove could disappear quickly if a fire sweeps through your area or substantial flooding occurs. When calling 911 is not an option, firefighters will not be able to battle the blazes that will surely occur when transformers burst into flames after a solar flare or EMP attack.
Click here to read the rest of my survival guide report on eFoodsDirect!

How To Make Activated Charcoal And Why You Should!

Activated charcoal boasts a multitude of survival and homesteading uses. The charcoal smolders instead of burns with a flame like wood does, making it a viable alternative to tossing a log on the fire when sight discipline is a concern.

Carbon, which is what activated charcoal is made of, is also a primary component in the water filtration process. Carbon does not remove the salts or minerals present in water but does effectively filter potentially harmful organic compounds and chlorine from the liquid.

Activated charcoal can also be used to treat acute poisoning. It binds together with the poison to help prevent the stomach and intestines from absorbing the harmful matter. The charcoal also helps the poison to quickly pass through the body. If the individual is poisoned with an acid that stems from petroleum or alkali, do not use activated carbon as an emergency treatment.

Constructing an activated charcoal water filtration system is both a quick and easy process and can be done on a small scale in a plastic water bottle, or on a larger scale inside a plastic barrel to filter a larger amount of water. Powdered charcoal can be used in place of the activated variety when none is available, but it is often regarded as being far less effective.

 Click here to read more about activated charcoal survival uses and how to make it in my report for Survival Based!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Survival Traps - Top 5 Quickest And Easiest Traps To Use In An Emergency

Food, water and shelter are the basics of survival no matter what disaster you are focusing your preparedness plan on. Growing your own groceries by gardening and raising your own livestock definitely belong at the top of any food preparedness to-do list. Stockpiling long-term food storage products will also deeply enhance your chances of surviving a SHTF disaster.

Knowing how to hunt and purchasing all of the necessary weaponry to do so, in triplicate, is a long-standing prepper concept as well. Learning how to trap, and maybe more importantly, how to make traps out of found items, could also one day save your life. Relying too heavily on any one way to garner food would likely be a deadly mistake.

All too often I have heard folks in my rural area say that if a TEOTWAWKI disaster does strike, they will just go hunting. Leasing land to hunters during the various seasons is a big business in my region. Deer and turkey abound, so much so that the fire departments in the county can barely go a single week without being paged out for a wildlife-involved car accident.

Although the deer, turkeys, wild boars, and pesky coyotes frolic readily in our beautiful Appalachian hills now, the land would become played out in rapid fashion if everybody and their brother and their cousin and the infamous marauding hordes suddenly took to the woods in search of Bambi and her forest friends.

Learn how to prepare survival meals your family will love  using Cookin’ with Home Storage cookbook recipes!

Hedging your bets by growing, raising, buying, hunting, and trapping your own food in preparation for a long-term disaster will not only increase the food stores of your own family, but also provide an excellent bartering opportunity as well.

Click here to read the rest of my report for eFoodsDirect!

Best Wood Ashes Survival Uses

Wood ash is the powdery residue left after the combustion of wood. Anyone who grew up on a homestead was likely tasked with scraping out ash from a woodburner and taking it outdoors for disposal. Before engaging in some research on the many possible uses for wood ash from a preparedness perspective, I typically dumped the ash bucket in our compost pile.

The wood residue is an excellent addition to garden soil as it contains trace minerals and potassium. After the annual harvest and until the snow begins to fall, I often stroll around our growing areas and sprinkle ash into the vacated row to help prepare the land for the next growing season. Fostering nutrient-rich soil is just one of many ways that wood ash can be beneficial around the homestead, prepper retreat, or off grid farm.

During the 18th century, folks quickly realized the benefits of ash-derived potash, or potassium carbonate. The ash became so popular that some landowners in North America felled trees just to burn the wood and export the ash directly to England, where "potash fever" was in full swing.

Do you need an emergency survival shelter when living on homestead or off grid prepper retreat?

Less than two decades after the United States of America was born, the first patent issued in the new country was signed; it was for a wood ash-making process to create fertilizer. U.S. patent number 1: "An improved method of making pot and pearl ash.”

Click here to read the rest of my wood ash survival uses report on Survival Based!

Social Media Marketing Training For Prepper Authors, Radio Show Hosts, And Businesses

Have you written the best book, or developed the most informative radio show, or perhaps have the best survival gear and services on the planet, but are disappointed in the amount of attention your efforts have garnered?

Unfortunately Google, Bing, and Yahoo - the "Big 3" search engines do not post links to material based upon quality, but on SEO optimization, time spent on page by viewers/customers/listeners, and social interaction.

Learning how to get in the top search engines rankings and to post tweets, Facebook statuses, and Google+ messages that will actually work for you is not rocket science, but does involve skill. A person who has never, or rarely ever, picked up a gun before could be figure out the basics rather quickly and point my Ruger at a target and squeeze the trigger. Sure, they might get lucky and get on the paper a few times, but hitting a bull's eye takes practice. The same can be said for utilizing social media. If you are not doing it right, and there is a formula achieving success with digital marketing, you are just wasting valuable prepping time tapping away at your computer.

While you may have an incredible following on YouTube, the same cannot be said for your Twitter feed, and you had no clue that posting to Pinterest could be earning you hundreds of extra dollars per month. I have had this exact scenario play out multiple times with my prepping social media clients.

What began as a helping to hand to some prepping pals, highly successful ones with notable profiles, has turned into a nice little side business that aids others in our preparedness community. As one of my favorite self-reliance sisters, Survivor Jane, always says, "we are all in this together."

If you are interested in learning how to use social media to earn more money from your prepping endeavors, or want an experienced digital marketing expert to do the work for you, contact us via email (taradodrill@gmail.com) or via any of The Prepared Family social media acounts, for more information and details about the very low rates offered to other Americans focused on education the masses about self-reliance.

Tara Dodrill Talks Prepping On The Radio

Tara Dodrill Talks Preparedness With The Experts

12/23/2013 Practical Preppers Founder on Common Sense Prepping
12/16/2013 Rob Underhill “The Carrington Event” interview
12/9/2013 Life Changes Be Ready on Common Sense Prepping!
11/25/2013 Prepping for a Suburban or Rural Community
11/18/2013 MAGS: Mutual Assistance Groups! Guest Charlie Hogwood
11/11/2013 Author Ron Foster on Common Sense Prepping! Good information varied topics
11/4/2013 Pioneering Today author Melissa Norris!
10/28/2013 Surviving an Urban Disaster! Guest, Urban survival expert Richard Duarte
10/21/2013 Survivor Jane and Common Sense Prepping
10/14/2013 Camouflaged food forest!
10/7/2013 Lights Out Saga!  A not miss show

Radio Guest Spots

Near Miss With EMP - Off The Grid News Radio Show Interview with Tara Dodrill
Becoming An Active Prepper - Doc Prepper Interviews Tara Dodrill
Secrets of a Survivalist - Rick Austin Interviews Tara Dodrill
Survival Medicine Hour - Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy discuss the power grid with Tara Dodrill


Power Grid Down Freebie - Read Chapter 10 Now!

Chapter 10
Educating Your Children At Home & Morale Boosters

Homeschooling families will definitely have a head start when preparing to run a classroom after a doomsday scenario occurs. Those folks who do not have an educational background or homeschooling experience should find a local group to network with and ask for tips for home education during a long-term disaster scenario. 

Homeschooling families are typically a very helpful group, and yes they will likely try to “convert” you, but it is unlikely that they will turn down an opportunity to help parents learn how to educate their children.

When there’s a crisis or disaster and you are anchored at your bugout or bugin location, your children’s education will become your sole responsibility. Many homesteading and prepper families have already opted to teach their children in a home classroom and will have at least some materials stockpiled for standard use.

Online homeschool opportunities thankfully abound, but access to the Internet will not be possible during a grid down scenario. Maintaining some sense of normalcy and making sure that children in a post-doomsday America can still read and possess the math skills necessary to tackle life-saving tasks, is important.

Educational Options For Prepping Families

Raising a self-reliant child is a priority for prepping families, as it should be for all American families. There are multiple educational choices open to parents in most states. Prepper parents are typically focused on the same academic goals as non-survivalist parents — we just also want out children to learn self-reliant skills, and garner a greater sense of independence and responsibility in the process. The number of homeschooling families has increased exponentially in recent years. The amount of charter schools across the country have also grown at a surprising rate. Parents opt out of mainstream schools for a vast array of reasons: safety, academic quality and concern about indoctrination are usually near the top of the list. 

Government schools

There is the traditional public school, or government school, as those us who have grown disgruntled with the institution often call it. Nearly my entire family worked in public education, both in paid and elected positions. I worked in a rural public school for a decade and left once I began to feel like a factory worker and saw the joy of learning evaporating from the academic process.

Charter schools and private schools

Private schools and charter schools are both good alternatives to government schools, but both types of educational facilities have drawbacks from a self-reliance and prepper family perspective.

Few charter or public schools exist in rural areas, making geographic limitations the first checkmark in the negative column for those education options. Cost is also a drawback as both charter school and private school tuition can come with a hefty price tag.

Online charter schools

Online charter schools offer a taste of homeschooling freedom but still relies upon a curriculum guided by advisers from outside the family.

Online charter schools do exist tuition-free in some states, but such educational choices are still not commonplace. In Ohio, taxpayers’ dollars follow the student when parents choose to enroll their child into an online charter school like TRECA Digital Academy. From my personal experience, the online charter school my daughter was enrolled in did offer a better education and stiffer graduation requirements than any public school in the region. The online charter school offered student-guided (or parent-guided) educational hours that allowed us to incorporate hands-on learning and field trips, as is typical of a homeschool environment.

Taking post-secondary courses for free, either online or a local brick-and-mortar college for dual credit, were also allowed via the online charter school. This aspect of the program was a definite plus from both a self-reliance and future career choice aspect. My daughter Brea was interested in working with horses and took several classes in equine science at a local community college in addition to online course to complete academic requirements for her college degree. She also took a leatherwork course to learn how to work with leather and gained the skills necessary to make and repair various types of leather items.

The college course offerings, which would allow a teenager to garner self-reliance skills through the online charter school program, were nearly limitless.

The rural community college, which was within a short driving distance, offered professional certificates and degrees for firefighters, paramedics, police sciences, nursing, natural resources, mechanics, engineering, timber harvesting, fish management, forest management, wildlife resources, physical therapy, heavy equipment management, carpentry, advanced energy and baking. Any one of those degree fields offers an abundance of preparedness skills, which would prove extremely handy during a long-term disaster.

Create hands-on learning experiences for your children is free post-secondary courses are not an option in your state.

We moved Brea from a government school to an online charter school in January of her junior year. Working at her own pace, she was able to complete all of the state’s high school requirements by March and began taking college courses, earning credits toward a degree and, perhaps, most importantly, learning skills which would make her a vital part of our preparedness group before she was even old enough to vote.                                                                               

Unfortunately, free post-secondary classes are not currently offered in all states, but that does not mean a self-reliance focused family cannot find free or affordable training to occupy a child’s afternoon hours after spending the morning online taking classes via the online charter school’s program. Going old-school and setting up an apprenticeship with local skilled craftsman or even spending more time out in the woods or working on the farm with friends and relatives increases your child’s essential skill set.


Parents are a child’s first teacher. The idea of homeschooling can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. Mommy and daddy begin teaching their little bundles of joy from the very moment they are born. A myriad of educational resources, curriculum supplies, social activities and support for homeschooling parents exist in all states where the at-home learning model is legal.

 When there’s a crisis or disaster and you are anchored at your bug out/bug in location, your children’s education will become your sole responsibility. Many homesteading and off-grid families have already opted to teach their children in a home classroom and will have at least some materials stockpiled for standard use. Online homeschool opportunities thankfully abound, but access to the Internet will not be possible during a grid-down scenario. Depending upon the severity of a civil unrest, economic collapse, or natural disaster, cyber learning may also be interrupted for an extended period of time.

Hands-on technical learning will be a big part of any crisis classroom education process. Networking with a local homeschool league may also enable prepper parents with the skills and resources necessary to help educate their children when the school buses stop running and the Internet no longer works. Dollar stores are excellent sources for educational 

There is no need to purchase expensive workbooks and stacks of paper. Make a chalkboard on a wall or door and allow the children to do their spelling and math lessons with a bit of Little House on the Prairie flair. Brea is now grown and she and her husband have started a family of their own. Although little Colt Remington Miller (Brea and James love both horses and guns) is only 5 months old, plans are already being made for his education.

Brea is considering a homeschool group-style of education for her children. Such a scenario would be ideal for any mutual assistance group. Several of her close friends have children around the same age as her son Colt. She has envisioned a team teaching environment where the children learn together in one home and work on self-reliance and preparedness projects together, while gearing their field trips to match what the kiddos are learning during their morning seatwork. Learning how to grow seeds, harvest the crops, can and dehydrate produce, and prepare meals will involve reading, math and science skills — and cost very little money in the process.


Unschooling is a form of homeschooling that places the motivation and responsibility of learning into the hands of the students themselves. The process is created through interdependency between parent (along with other adults offering an opportunity for learning) and the student. Children are given the freedom to navigate toward their own interests and to discover what roles and responsibilities they actually play in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.

The Unschooling website describes the non-traditional form of education this way:

Unschooling children are supported to pursue, or self-direct, the myriad of things that are of interest to them, eat foods they enjoy and in quantities that are satisfying, sleep and rest according to their individual needs, choose friends of all ages or none at all, engage in the world in unique and powerful and self-directed ways.”

Unschooling students learn based on their own interests. Activities such as “free play, inventing, experimenting scientifically, video gaming, role modeling through friendship, spiritual development through inquiry of self and others, athletics,” are commonplace.

Morale Boosters and Education Supplies

Morale boosters and school materials are definitely not at the top of the prepping list, but such items can make the spare time after chores enjoyable and productive at the same time. Hands-on technical learning will be a big part of any crisis classroom education process. 

Although little Susie might be good at helping Mommy measure sugar for cupcakes, she will need to learn how to read, follow package instructions, and garner basic math skills to understand fractions when cooking or helping with water disinfecting and filtration on her own.

After a doomsday scenario, little Suzie could become the “woman of the house” at a very young age, all tasks she helps with should be viewed as an apprenticeship.

Educational worksheets and booklets can become quite costly when purchased at teacher resource stores. Cheaper educational activity books from discount stores are extremely similar to teacher store books, but can usually only be found for elementary children and do not offer educator instructions.

Educational Supplies

·         All the standard paper, pens, crayons, school supplies – but in bulk. Once the materials you have stored are gone, you may not be able to replenish your supplies.
·         Chalkboards, chalk, or chalkboard paint. The chalkboard paint comes in a variety of colors and can be applied to scrap wood or $1 metal baking sheets from Dollar Tree to be used for math and spelling practice.
·         Manipulatives are extremely handy teaching aids when working with preschool through second grade children. The colorful visual aids help children with their counting, hand-eye-coordination, color recognition, and shape-sorting skills.                                               
·         You could spent rather a lot of money buying little plastic bear figures or shiny plastic stars from a teacher resource store – or go the economical route and make your own educational manipulatives. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby have all sorts or cute little wood and thick cardboard cutouts the children could paint themselves and be used as visual aids during math lessons.
·         Reading books at all grade levels. Check yard sales and library book sales for cheap deals that will allow you to create a substantial library for the children. I recently purchased a set of adult encyclopedias and a child set for just $3 each at a library used book sale. When the power grid is down, children will no longer be able to use Google to research.
·         Brown lunch sacks for “book report in a bag” activities. The homeschooling students put items in the bag that represent the story and give a verbal report on the book. Save your toilet and paper towel rolls and print of storybook puppet sheets from DLTK-Kids so the younger students can use them to give a book report or write their own stories and act the out.
·         Child-sized gardening tools and work gloves so the little ones can learn about science as it relates to the growing and raising of food. The practical and agricultural science lessons can also incorporate lessons about the changing seasons, weather observation, and foraging for edible plants.
·         Aprons the children can decorate as an art project. The clothing will make learning “cooking math” and safe food handling skills a bit more festive while helping prepare meals. The cooking, baking, freezing, thawing, and dehydrating processes also offer the opportunity to incorporate science lessons into kitchen chores.  
·         Index cards for use in making flash cards to teach math facts, vocabulary, colors, and shapes.

Homeschooling Resources & Printable Lessons

These homeschooling resource websites offer preschool through high school grade level lesson plans, activity sheets, and curriculum guidance. Many also provide links to additional resource materials and companion paperback books. There is no fee or membership required to view or print any of the resources.
·         HomeSchool.com
·         Donna Young.org
·         KidZone.ws
·         CalculationNation.nctm.org
·         KidsLearningNation.com
·         Alphabet-Soup.net
·         First-School.ws
·         EnchantedLearning.com
·         DLTK-Kids.com
·         A2zHomeschooling.co
·         School.familyeducation.com
·         HomeSchoolViews.co
·         AllInOneHomeschool.com
·         OnlyPassionateCuriosity.co
·         Compassion.com – Christian Homeschooling Resources
·         HomeschoolMath.net
·         SuperTeacherWorksheets.com
·         Scholastic.com                               

While budgeting for potentially life-saving staples and engaging in self-defense and survival training, don’t forget about the important role morale boosters play during a long-term natural or man-made emergency.

Board games, cards, candy, and flavored drink mixes are commonly purchased preparedness morale boosters. Advanced planning by the designated family or mutual assistance group “morale officer” allows for the organization of activities and storage of items that go far beyond the routine – and all on a shoestring budget. 

Finding ways to give children and teens a sense of normality should involve input from the youngsters themselves. Remember, the recovery time for a power grid failure could take a decade, so plan for babies that could be joining the group along the way as well.

Morale Boosters

·         Seasonal Crafts - Holidays could cause morale to slip significantly if not planned for long in advance. Filling plastic tubs with items specific to each major holiday will delight not just the youngsters, but offer a brief escape from the new reality for everyone in the family or mutual assistance group. Craft supplies for children, teens, and elderly members of the group to make reusable decorations will keep hands and minds busy and offer a chance for storytelling, Bible reading, and singing while the art task is being completed. In the days following Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Thanksgiving, themed art kits are typically offered at 75 percent off, a great time to snag some foam art kits, ornament kits, egg decorating kits, and the like, for next to nothing. Pick some pine cones and store to add to the holiday decorations and ornament-making supply kit as well.

Hand-made accessories like the headbands the little ones are wearing will make delightful gifts during a long-term disaster.

·         Gifts with a Purpose - Even the children will need to learn or enhance their skill sets to survive and thrive after a disaster scenario. A craft class geared to gift-making can teach such skills and provide lovingly hand-made useful items as well. Put together kits which teach leather-making, basket weaving, candle making, soap making, and macramé items. The youngsters and those who are physically unable to complete manual labor tasks can still be contributing members of the group and will take great pride in the items the produce. A little plastic loom which makes potholders is a great inexpensive kit to buy for young girls. A macramé plant holder would make an attractive herb or vegetable planter. The leather-making kit would make a multitude of gifts while teaching the user the skills necessary to repair or make a host of leather items which are needed around the homestead. Girls can also learn how to sew with a kit or a manual sewing machine which are often found at yard and estate sales. Grab clothes form yard sales to use for material for the beginning sewing projects.                                                                         

·         Movies - Start looking for DVD movies in big box store bargain bins and at yard sales. A movie night once a week for the adults and a separate viewing tie for children would be a welcome reprieve from chores. The frequency of movie watching would depend on the availability of power, of course, but would be the highlight of the week for many. A solar generator does not need store-bought fuel and can work even during cloudy and chilly weather, and definitely should be added to the top of the prepping essentials list.

·         Special Events - Birthdays and holidays are always highly anticipated times of year, not just for children, but for loving moms who typically plan months in advance of the annual celebrations. The Dollar Tree and similar $1 outlets are great places to stock on up birthday plates, gift wrap, reusable decorations, and tablecloths. Don’t forget to grab some treat bags which can be re-used and dozen-for-a-dollar goodies to put inside the bags for other children. Watch for sales on toys (or clothes and jewelry for teens) in shopping circulars or at yard sales to buy gift items to store away until disaster strikes. Don’t forget to plan ahead for anniversaries as well.

If we were forced into an 1800s existence after a power grid failure, your children or grandchildren’s’ spirits will surely be lifted when you dig out the clearance rack Halloween costumes and boxes of Valentine’s Day party favors you scooped up for pennies on the dollar.

·         Snacks – A sweet treat or drink would also lift spirits for at least a few delightful minutes. Freeze some soda pop in ice cube trays and put them in your icehouse and store until either frowns abound or a special occasion. Long-term food storage manufacturers do include dessert items such as freeze-dried ice cream, cookies, and cake mixes. Bubble gum is cheap and has an amazingly long shelf life. Store cake in a jar or muffin in a jar recipes in Mason jars for tasty morale boosters in the future.

   Sports and Games - Organized activities planned around family or mutual assistance group gatherings also offer a break from mundane chores and responsibilities for all age groups. Plan now for such activities by purchasing cheap or used sports equipment and shirts and/or ball caps in similar colors the children can decorate and hand out for everyone to wear during the gatherings.

Music – Relaxing to some live music played by your loved ones – when sound discipline is not a factor of course, can be a great morale booster for the entire family. Toy instruments for the little ones can be found at the Dollar Tree and tucked away for these special occasions, so they can join in as well. Purchase some music and song books or print lyrics to songs everyone enjoys in preparation for the family sing-a-longs - with or without a piano or guitar setting the beat. 

Senior Citizen Preparedness

Senior citizen preparedness is a concern not only for those preppers who have reached their golden years, but for those of us in the self-reliance community who love and cherish and elderly person. If a parent, grandparent, or favorite aunt happens to live far away or in a nursing home, concerns about the relatives surviving even a short-term disaster are heightened.

My husband Bobby’s fire page woke me up around 3:00 a.m. on an incredibly chilly late October morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but our dogs and my ducks weren’t about to have it.                    

 I rubbed my sleepy eyes and went downstairs to start critter chores early (which totally messed up their morning routine for several days) flip on the news, and get some ideas about writing topics for the day.

It was too early for fresh news, still replays from the evening before. So, I decided to start browsing online for homemade present ideas for an upcoming family gathering.

Being the perfect prepper wife, I immediately noticed a duel preparedness purpose for many of the homemade gift ideas I was finding online. Although it was not yet light outside, the cobwebs were clearing from my still-tired mind. I began recalling countless conversations with my favorite prepper chick pals, the momma of all things self-reliance Survivor Jane, Jen E. from Thrive, Cindy Thompson from Life Changes Be Ready, homesteading expert Melissa K. Norris, Heritage Press preparedness-minded publisher Hanne Moon, renowned author Granny Pam, and childhood pal and homeschooling mom Jenny W.

The self-reliant sisterhood gals and I had all discussed the varying ways to introduce preparedness concepts to our family, friends, and children. Handing a loved one a gas mask and telling them they will need it one day soon to protect them from a deadly pandemic tends to flip them all the way out.
The prepping ladies and I have chosen to opt for a more subtle and inch-by-inch approach to self-reliance education. Survivor Jane once told me a story about enticing friends and relatives with a delicious pie which was made with fruit she had grown in her very own backyard. Planting the seeds of survival can be just that simple. As loved ones enjoy a slice of sweet berry deliciousness, the conversation can be steered toward the cost-effectiveness of growing your own produce, then onward to the healthy nature of non-GMO fruits and veggies, and forward once again to how simple it is to dehydrate and can what you grow.

Once you can see visions of berry bushes and tomato vines dancing in the heads of your captive audience, you have an opening to discuss how quickly food will disappear from store shelves during even a short-term disaster. Going full on prepper with birthday, anniversary, bridal shower, wedding, and Christmas presents might not be entirely possible, but a multitude of self-reliance style gifts under the tree, even for the kiddos, is most definitely feasible. Some of the preparedness items I plan on turning into self-reliance gifts are homemade, others store bought, and some involve a little bit of both infused with a related “survival field trip” follow-up.

I surely cannot be the only one who looks around in disbelief upon realizing that all of the hours of shopping and wrapping devolved into a colorful pile of discarded paper on the floor in mere minutes after Christmas and birthday parties. Plastic toy pieces are lost before the Christmas ham is served, some toys remain in their boxes for weeks after being carelessly tossed into a closet – even as chants of “I’m bored” roll of the lips of the youngsters. And grandma really does not need another pair of slippers.

When it comes time to give a gift this year, stray from the consumer herd just a bit and achieve a sense of greater fulfillment with prepper-approved presents that will keep on giving long after you sweep a wayward pine needle out from behind the couch come June.

Preparedness Gift Ideas for Senior Citizens

Grandmas and grandpas come in all shapes, sizes, and age groups. Some grandpas and grandmas are fairly young and enjoy physical and outdoor activities, others are older and far less mobile and agile. This post is focused upon preparedness gifts for senior citizen grandparents who no longer go out hunting, work the livestock on the farm on a regular basis, or are often tasked with cooking for a small army.

Both of my grandmothers and probably had a dozen pairs of house slippers, several bathrobes for each season, and scores of dusty knick-knacks when they passed away. I loved them immensely and still miss them every single day. When grandparents are in their late 70s, 80s, and 90s, gift-giving can become rather difficult. Framed photos of the grandkids and great grandkids are always popular, but granny and paps only have so much shelf space – especially if they are residing in an assistive care facility.

Emergency Photo Album

Put a new twist on the cute kids in a framed photo gift idea and help emergency responders and nursing facility staff know who the loved ones of the elderly individual are in case SHTF and you cannot get to their sides in the short term. If the power grid goes down, or there is a fire, or an evacuation has taken place, the contact information for the grandparent will no longer be available. If the loved one struggles with memory, even the most familiar faces might not be recognized after a traumatic situation.

Purchase an attractive yet small and easily portable photo album and put a photo of a loved one or a small group of loved ones on each page. On the back of the follow or following page, list the names of everyone in order and all necessary contact information. A personal message from each loved one will make the gift an even more cherished keepsake and may help to keep the elderly loved on calm during an emergency or evacuation.

A printout of the grandparents’ medical history and current medications could be added in the back pages of the book. If possible, buy a mail organizer rack and hang it near a door and add a label to either the book or the shelf (or both) noting that the keepsake album contains emergency information. First responders will likely notice such a label more quickly if it is typed in bold red letters. Remind staff or the grandparents that the book is hanging by the door and should always be grabbed in case of an emergency.                                                        

Long-Term Food Storage and Water

My husband gives a long-term food storage bucket as a gift to our children and parents every year at Christmas. A case of water and a food bucket, or even just a few food packets if space is an issue, will increase the likelihood of survival for your grandparents during an emergency. Reminding grandma and grandpa about where the emergency long-term food and water are stored may be necessary and could be added to the emergency photo album as well.

If the grandparents live in a nursing facility, it will be especially important to hide the food and water and make sure your loved ones have a safe and simple way to prepare and eat the food without aid. A pair of kitchen scissors should also be added to the food and water kit just to make sure the elderly loved one can open the packets easily. If vision is an issue, make your own labels with the directions printed in large text and adhere to the food bucket or plastic tub filled with bottled water and food packets.

Reading and Learning are Fun at any Age!

Reading is both pleasurable and educational. Our vision tends to deteriorate as we age, but that is no reason to miss out on a great book – especially ones which enhance self-reliance skills. Audiobooks are a great alternative to even large print books. I downloaded the Audiobooks app on my iPhone specifically to “read” William Forestchen’s One Second After with my husband. Bobby had never read the book and with his work schedule and preparedness tasks, I figured it would just sit on shelf with the other “one of these days” book titles and gather dust, if I bought it for him. I did not think I would like Audiobooks at first, but now I love them. Each time I download a title it reminds me of when my dad would tell me bedtime stories as a child.

Tablets are relatively cheap these days, and nearly all of them are compatible with the Audiobooks app.                                            

Buy gram and gramps a tablet and load it with a couple of preparedness titles, and perhaps a book from their favorite other or a focused on a topic they already enjoy as well. Many elderly loved ones spend a lot of their day alone, the sound of another voice could be very welcomed and comforting.
Whether you go with Audiobooks or a traditional paperback book as a gift, the experience can be a great learning and sharing experience for both the loved one and yourself. If you and grandpa share a love of gardening, get him Rick Austin’s Secret Garden of Survival book so he can get his thumb green once again by learning the organic techniques Austin explains simply and in great detail.

The next time you visit the senior citizen in person, Skype, or call on the phone, discuss what is going on in the book, take notes until you have learned enough to attempt the gardening techniques on your own. Old family stories about life on the farm, canning the annual harvest, or cooking what the family grew will not only help keep the family history alive but perhaps teach the younger generations some valuable sustainability techniques as well.

The joy of sharing knowledge definitely does not fade as we grow older. Grandma and Grandpa will surely enjoy contributing to your gardening endeavors and look forward to seeing the photos of your progress. If possible, tie in your loved ones former career expertise with the book topic. If you want to build an off the grid power source, perhaps grandpa can aid in the project when pulling from their vast amount of knowledge and new ideas learned in the book. All the conversations had while the loved one is enjoying a preparedness Audiobook, paperback, or Kindle book open the door to further discussions about the importance of self-reliance.

If gram and gramps are online, store bookmarks for preparedness radio shows and podcasts on their tablet, cell phone, or computer for their listening and learning pleasure as well.   

Senior Citizens Bugout Bag

The prepping needs of senior citizens will likely vary just a bit from those of younger and more mobile loved ones. Grandma and grandpa might “bugout” via an organized evacuation by caregivers or be bugging in until help, or you, can arrive.
In addition to all the essential emergency survival and first aid items you have in your own bugout or get me home bag, consider including the following:
• Adult diapers
• Natural remedies and aids that may help the loved one stay health once their prescribed medication run out.
• Extra hand warmers
• Non-prescription glasses and a magnifying class
• Some type of personal protection item, this will vary dependent upon the loved ones mental and physical abilities, as well as possibly nursing home rules. Consider mace, Taser, knife, brass knuckles, even a screwdriver offers some type of self-defense option.
• Extra Mylar emergency blankets, the elderly tend to get cold far easier than younger folks.

Solar Lights

Flashlights are great, but batteries eventually run out and removing the battery compartment and replacing batteries could prove difficult for some elderly loved ones. The Dollar Tree solar lights work just as well as their more-expensive counterparts.                                                   

The solar lights could be placed inside a nice planter and kept in a window area or be used to create attractive Mason jar lights and decorative items which blend in with the rest of the décor in the home. Garden metal art and similar decorations could also be placed on a stand or on the floor by a window area indoors and used for additional and safe lighting during an emergency.

Even if the grandparents are in a rest home with a generator, the fuel necessary to create power would run out during a long-term disaster. A slip and fall injury is not something any of us would want during a disaster, but healing from such an injury while potentially left to the mercy of others in a care facility, is not a situation we want our elderly loved ones to find themselves in.

So, You Are Going To Bug Out To The Forest After The SHTF, Better Read This Report First!

How many times have you heard someone say, “When the SHTF I am just going to bugout to the woods,” and think that such a “plan” is a simp...