Project Prepper

Project Prepper, Part 41: 2016 Status Report

Last week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I recapped what the series is all about for those who didn’t already know.

Today, I’m going to talk about where the project stands a little over three years in the works.

Originally, I decided my preparedness education and activities would focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat-tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). That included:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

In May 2015, I split up “Security” into “Physical Security” and “Financial Security” (following Spirko’s lead). The revised list now looks like this:

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

After its adoption I blogged on May 20, 2015:

“Physical Security” is still priority number one because I predict the push for more gun “control” will continue while crime simultaneously gets worse. “Financial Security” breaks into the list at number two because the most likely disaster I see on the horizon is an economic one. “Shelter” now brings up the rear as I’ve completed that move from my Chicago apartment to a house in the suburbs (plus there’s my family’s place in Wisconsin where I spend time).

In my last “status report” (December 10, 2014), I wrote:

Decent strides have been made in the area of security… Physical security on the exterior/interior of the new house has been improved, particularly with landscaping, lighting, and locks. Personal safety gear, supplies, and tools have been acquired, with training having commenced a few years back.

Concerning water, the foundation for an emergency water supply is now in place. While utilizing some water storage containers I had prior to this project, I’ve acquired additional containers. To maintain the quality of the water for an extended period of time, I purchased aerobic stabilized oxygen. I’ve also kept a couple of cases of bottled drinking water on hand, along with an emergency water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh water in a bathtub standing by in the wings. At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

Concerning food, the foundation for an emergency food supply is also in place. Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Concerning shelter, purchasing that house last spring was a pretty big “prep.” And it was certainly an improvement over the multi-family housing arrangement where my girlfriend and I used to live. As much as I love the city of Chicago and would have liked to stay in our northwest side neighborhood, my girlfriend and I are much better off here in a close-by suburb, all things considered.

Concerning sanitation/health, not much work has been done in this area yet. As health is concerned, I’ve acquired a good deal of basic first aid supplies and instructional material in the last couple of years. But it’s been too long since I’ve had any training in this area. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to complete an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit- as well as having the knowledge/skills to use it. In addition, while working around the house has been good for the body, I really need to improve my physical fitness. Not only will it help me cope with the difficult times I see coming down the pipeline, but hopefully it will keep me from having to rely on our floundering health care system as much as possible.

On sanitation, an unforeseen (and somewhat costly) improvement was carried out late last year on our sewer line going from the house. I’ll spare readers the details, but a new cleanout was added on the front of the home, and with it, a check valve. Should the city’s sewer system fail for any reason (extended power grid failure?), the valve should prevent sewage from backing up into our house and through the toilets. At least, that’s how I understand it should work. When it comes to people having to “go to the bathroom” in an extended grid-down scenario and dealing with the waste, I’m already researching a number of possible solutions.

Finally, as energy is concerned, for short-term blackouts I’ve been looking at portable generators to use at first until my girlfriend and I can afford a standby generator that can be hooked up to the natural gas line coming into the house. I’m also exploring if we can’t utilize renewable sources of energy somehow. I really hope so, because it’s probably what we’ll be forced to turn to in a long-term grid-down situation. That being said, we are limited by what we can use due to our location in a major metropolitan area.

So that’s where I stand with “Project Prepper” as 2014 draws to a close. Decent progress has been made in tackling those “innate survival needs,” but there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.

“Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.”

Regrettably, “time and money” were not on my side. That being said, I was able to make some progress on “Project Prepper.” Going down that revised list of “innate survival needs”:

1. Physical Security: Additional lighting has been added around the property to illuminate the exterior of the house. More personal safety tools and gear have been acquired, along with training material purchased from affiliate marketing partner Paladin Press.

2. Financial Security: No progress, although efforts have been ongoing since 2004. More on this another time.

3. Water: Additional water storage containers have been purchased and acquired. I bought one Reliance Products Aqua-Pak 5 Gallon Rigid Water Container
via Amazon.com to try out (review forthcoming), and have been stockpiling empty 2-liter plastic bottles.

4. Food: Nothing’s been added to the existing emergency food supply. Although regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember the “experimental” food garden my girlfriend and I grew last year using heirloom seeds from My Patriot Supply’s Survival Seed Vault.

Cucumbersaurus Revisited

Cucumbersaurus Revisited: It was DELICIOUS, by the way

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Despite a number of rookie mistakes and other challenges, I’d say it was a success, and I can’t wait to grow another, more expanded one this year.

5. Sanitation and Health: I wasn’t able to take that American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit in 2015 like I wanted to. I have started a new workout regimen though in an effort to improve my physical fitness. I blogged back on August 26, 2015:

As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

6. Energy: No progress.

7. Shelter: No progress. But to be fair, the house in the Chicago suburbs was a pretty substantial prep.

I’m disappointed I didn’t accomplish more since that December 2014 status report. Particularly as I believe time is ticking before the “balloon goes up.” From this point on, I’ll need to get “time and money” back on my side to keep “Project Prepper” moving forward. I’m up to the challenge.

More next week…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 40: 2016 Recap

Tonight I’m reintroducing the “Project Prepper” series of posts on Survival And Prosperity. And since it’s been some time since my last post, I’m going to do a recap this evening about what this series of posts is all about for those who don’t already know. On October 24, 2012, I wrote:

Back in early 2007, I decided to launch a blog that warned anyone who would listen of a coming U.S. financial crash.

By 2010, many Americans had tasted the type of carnage I predicted three years earlier. And it was at this time I decided to take my blogging in a new direction, from simply warning about the coming storm to providing information and possible solutions for coming out on the other side of the maelstrom in decent shape.

For almost two years on Survival And Prosperity, I’ve addressed that information component. As I see it, the writing is on the wall concerning where our economy and larger financial system is headed. As such, it’s time to really focus on potential solutions- those things that might help protect and grow self and wealth in these uncertain times and down the road.

Enter “Project Prepper.”

Once in a while I blog about preppers/survivalists, and as a result, I’m often mistaken for one. The truth is, I’m not a “modern survivalist.” I’m just an independent researcher and blogger currently focusing on economics, finance, investing, and personal safety.

That being said, as a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning and doing, which I’ll call “Project Prepper.”

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you.

By doing this, I’ll also be able to make more progress in providing readers of this blog those possible solutions I talked about earlier in the post.

Will I end up being a “prepper” at the end of it all? Who knows? If anything, I should be able to glean a good deal of useful knowledge from this venture.

Knowledge which I hope to share with you…

More next week as I talk about where “Project Prepper” currently stands after writing the above a little over three years ago.

2015 Test Vegetable Garden

2015 Test Vegetable Garden

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 Preparedness, Project Prepper No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 39: Food Garden Latest

Last time I published a “Project Prepper” post, I discussed how I planted a small food garden back in late June using some non-GMO heirloom seeds from Salt Lake City-based My Patriot Supply. I was pleased the seeds from the Survival Seed Vault were actually germinating, and the food garden producing. In that September post, I noted cucumbers had already been harvested, and “everything else looks well on its way (fingers crossed!)”

Well, here’s what’s transpired since then…

The weather’s been pretty decent except for a cold spell that lasted a couple of days (ended yesterday) and not much rain (I’ve been pretty religious about watering the food garden however). Even nicer weather is supposed to be headed our way.

As such, a good portion of the raised bed behind my garage has become a tangled green “mess.” I wrote on September 23:

I planted those cucumber and watermelon seeds in 2 different “mounds” (12 inch diameter) with 3 seeds per mound (a couple of inches apart). Based on the significant growth that’s taking place, I’m pretty sure the size of those mounds and spacing between the seeds should have been quite a bit larger.

Now I know for sure that the size of those mounds and spacing between seeds should have been larger. I fear I “suffocated” growth in that area of the food garden as a result.

A couple of watermelons were growing pretty rapidly in the raised garden bed. The local wildlife claimed two of them. Two more were really beginning to fill out when I did something stupid. In an attempt to raise them off the ground a little bit to protect them from critters, I must have bent the joints (where the melon attached to the vine?) too much, causing them to break completely off the plant shortly thereafter. I was left with two small, unripe watermelons as a result.

Small Watermelons

As these Crimson Sweets were supposed to reach 24 pounds on average, looking at those tiny melons I couldn’t help but think of that scene from the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap where the rock band commissions a Stonehenge set but mistakenly asks for a model with a height of 18 inches instead of 18 feet. Comical stuff.


“This is Spinal Tap- Stonehenge scene”
(Warning! Language)
YouTube Video

Now, I have had further success with the food garden. Particularly in the sweet corn department. Last week, I harvested a couple of ears of corn. They were delicious- even thought I suspect they may have been just a tad overripe. I usually eat sweet corn with butter slathered all over it. Not this time! It was great plain.

First Sweet Corn

Alas, certain inhabitants of our “wildlife refuge” (my guess is the squirrels) also have discovered how good garden-fresh corn is, and the remaining unripe ears are now history. Along with the stalks. Vicious bastards.

One last thing. By late summer I noticed a good deal of discoloration among a number of corn stalk and cucumber leaves. It’s especially more pronounced with the cucumber plants, where leaves turned yellow to brown, dried out, and eventually shriveled off- but the actual cucumber wasn’t affected. I’ll definitely be looking into why this is going on.

That’s it for now. I like to refer to the small food garden as the “experimental” garden. I knew from the onset that there would be ups and downs associated with it. And sure enough, that’s been case with this project. Still, it’s producing (would have liked a watermelon however) and the knowledge I’m gaining from actually growing a food garden has been substantial.

More soon…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 38: Food Garden And Survival Seeds Update

Back on March 30, I blogged about starting a food garden. From that post:

I hope to achieve a number of things from this food garden:

• Better nutrition
• Better health
• Improved food security

I went into more detail about that garden on April 27. I wrote:

I purchased heirloom seeds put together by My Patriot Supply, an affiliate marketing partner of Survival And Prosperity (discussed here). In particular, I purchased a flagship product of theirs called the Survival Seed Vault. From the website of the now Salt Lake City, Utah-based “Patriot Owned Survival Store”:

The Survival Seed Vault contains only the highest quality heirloom vegetable survival seeds. These Patriot Seeds are 100% Non-GMO, open-pollinated and placed in specially sealed packets allowing for long term storage…

• 20 varieties of hardy heirloom survival seeds passed down from our forefathers.
• Survival seeds rated for 5+ years of storage at 75F, longer at lower temperatures.
• No hybrids, GMOs, or outdated survival seeds. All harvested seeds are reusable.
• Each seed bank is hand-inspected and packed by our American staff to ensure quality.
• Includes detailed survival seed saving guide.

Survival Seed Vault contents

Survival Seed Vault contents

ANY CHARACTER HERE

In that April post I mentioned “I plan on starting small with the food garden.” And that’s what I did. In June, my girlfriend and I prepped two areas in our fenced-in backyard which receive lots of sunlight. The first consisted of an existing raised bed along the east-facing rear wall of our garage, while the second was originally part of our lawn, in which grass was removed and transplanted elsewhere. In both areas, my girlfriend and I mixed in Dr. Earth-brand organic soil to the existing soil, along with some peat moss.

On June 27, the following went into this concoction within the raised bed:

• Scarlet Nantes Carrot- about two dozen or so heirloom seeds of over 800 provided in the Survival Seed Vault
• Marketmore Cucumber- 3 heirloom seeds of over 150 provided
• Golden Bantam Sweet Corn- 8 heirloom seeds of over 250 provided
• Crimson Sweet Watermelon- 3 heirloom seeds of over 60

Ringing this all in was a plastic safety fence donated by my girlfriend’s sister stapled to several scrap wood “posts,” with a few marigolds strategically placed within to help deter rodents (or so I’m told).

Into the other garden bed (not raised) went two blueberry and two raspberry plants, also with a number of marigolds “protecting” them.

Food garden- July 2015

Food garden- July 2015

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Here’s how everything’s been working out so far:

• We initially lost a number of seeds/seedlings to the “wildlife refuge” on our property. That includes a bunch of carrots, 3 sweet corns, and 1 cucumber. I only replaced those 3 sweet corn seeds (about 2 weeks later).
• Animals managed to chew several openings in the plastic safety fence and take 2 small watermelons (as far as I can tell). Chicken wire is a better fencing option.
• The marigolds have been doing great. So good I think they’re interfering with the growth of the raspberry plants.
• I planted those cucumber and watermelon seeds in 2 different “mounds” (12 inch diameter) with 3 seeds per mound (a couple of inches apart). Based on the significant growth that’s taking place, I’m pretty sure the size of those mounds and spacing between the seeds should have been quite a bit larger.

Despite all the above, the food garden is producing. Right now, only cucumbers have been harvested, and they’re delicious!

Cucumbersaurus

Cucumbersaurus- when you let these babies grow!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

While there’s been nothing from the blueberry/raspberry plants, everything else looks well on its way (fingers crossed!).

Food garden- September 2015

Food garden- September 2015

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Hopefully, The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast of above-average warmth for the area in September and October holds.

I’ll report back on the food garden in a later “Project Prepper” post.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to know I can grow something else besides that lima bean plant from Mrs. Muldoon’s 3rd grade class.

In all seriousness though, I’m grateful for the knowledge towards achieving food security this experience is providing me.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 Agriculture, Food, Gardening, Preparedness, Project Prepper No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 37: Getting Back Into Shape

As I approach another birthday, I smile when I think back to the early nineties when a friend and I would head down to Chicago’s lakefront and regularly jog a good portion of the 18.5-mile Chicago Lakefront Trail for exercise. I was in my late teens at the time, and in the best shape of my life.

Day Off Jogging Lakefront Car Show (Summer 1991)

Day Off Jogging
Lakefront Car Show (Summer 1991)

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Fast forward to today. I’m nowhere near the same kind of shape I was almost a quarter of a century ago. Not countering the effects from years of living a sedentary lifestyle and working in front of computer screens for hours on end has taken a toll on my physical fitness.

That being said, I decided some time ago that as part of the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I’d work hard at getting back into shape. From the beginning of my ongoing education about prepping, I realized not being “fit” could be a serious hindrance to what one’s trying to achieve by prepping. For example, let’s say I’m employed in an office building in a major U.S. city, and I’m prepping for a significant emergency/disaster that could happen while I’m at work. If the event occurs, there’s a good chance I may end up needing to hoof it out of that location (possibly within a certain amount of time) in order to reach safety. If I’m not up to the task physically, I could be in real trouble.


“911 WTC people in chaos taking shelter – with sound part1 – archival stock footage”
YouTube Video

So I’m going to get back in shape. I’ll be putting together the regimen of exercises in the coming days. As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Now if I could just find a 175-pound dummy…

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking right now. I am certain about one thing though. It’s imperative I get back into shape pronto, not only because doing so allows me to explore prepping more fully as part of these posts, but also because I’m at that age (40-something) where looking after my health needs to be more of a priority than it has been in the past.

Until next time…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 36: New Gear For Around The Property

Getting back on track with the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I want to talk about some new gear I’ve picked up. As a somewhat-new homeowner, I understand there will be times when I’m forced to investigate God-knows-what around the property, day or night. And as my girlfriend and I have come to discover, we have quite the wildlife refuge going on outside our house. As such, I’ve acquired some items in case an encounter with a four-legged (or two-legged) creature isn’t exactly a “pleasant” one:

Outdoor Security Final

Maglite S6D015 6-D Cell Flashlight (Amazon.com, $24.88)

Some specs compiled from Amazon.com:

• 163 lumen Krypton 6-cell bulb
• 19.5 x 2.9 x 2.8 inches
• 2.8 pounds
• Machined aluminum
• Self-cleaning rotary switch, 3 position, On, Off and Signal (manual momentary on-off)
• Spare lamp safely secured in tailcap
• O-ring sealed for water resistance
• 1/2 turn, cam action focus, spot-to-flood

A favorite among old school cops/security guards. After popping 6 D cell batteries into the flashlight and wielding it for the first time, I now understand why. This 19.5-inch machined aluminum device is a beast, and bright to boot. No creature (two- or four-legged) in their right mind would want to mess with this thing.

I also picked up an accessory pack (Amazon.com, $8.68) for the flashlight, and have already affixed the terrific anti-roll device.

Tact Gear Tactical Vest (Sportsman’s Guide, $26.99 with member discount)

From the Sportsman’s Guide website:

16 pockets for mags, radios, flashlights, pepper spray and more.
Rugged 8 1/2-oz. 60/40 Poly / Cotton blend with DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protection
Concealed crossover backup gun pocket with VELCRO® brand closure
Brass zip front
Brass D-ring
Badge tab.

I don’t know if it’s possible to ever run out of pockets with this vest. I’ve treated it with water repellant and have it hanging in a coat closet for fast, easy access. The last two items are contained in the vest.

Mace Brand Pepper Spray Police Strength 10% Pepper Foam (Amazon.com, $14.19)

From Amazon.com:

• Compact yet powerful model is a convenient size for carrying.
• Flip Top Safety Cap
• 10% Foam Spray
• Contains UV Dye for marking assailants for easy identification

I bought a two-pack of Mace Pepper Foam some time ago for potential use indoors (supposed to reduce chance of area contamination). This is one of those canisters. Since the device may have to be deployed in close quarters, I’m sticking with the pepper foam outdoors for now.

Enlan Bee M024A Folding Knife (Ebay, $10.61)

From vendor hellogiftshop’s web page:

Producer: Enlan Cutlery Co.,Ltd
Model: M024A
Blade: 8Cr13MoV (58HRC) stainless steel
Handle: Aluminium+ Stainless Steel; Money clip
Size:
Whole length: ~170mm(6.7″);
Blade’s length: ~71mm(2.8″);
Closed Length: ~100mm(3.94″)
Liner Lock
Net Weight: ~99g

I was on the look out for a good-yet-inexpensive knockaround folding knife that wasn’t “scary” for these parts to keep in the vest. I’d heard decent things about Enlan Cutlery out of China, and came across model M024A (drop point, dual thumb studs, liner lock, realistic-looking wood grain, legal in municipality/Cook County/Illinois) for a measly $10 and change. Like every other piece of gear I talked about in this post, I still have to put my Enlan knife to the test. However, my first impressions of the folder are positive. I would have preferred to buy American here, but was unable to tick all the required boxes.

More next time…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Items added to “Gear And Supplies” page)

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Project Prepper, Part 35: Expanded ‘Innate Survival Needs’ List

This “Project Prepper” entry is going to be a short one since I’m busy plugging away at a number of preps to be covered in this series of posts down the road.

Back in Project Prepper, Part 9 (dated February 27, 2013), I talked about the six “innate survival needs” that my preparedness efforts for this series would focus on (hat tip Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast as the originator of this list of needs). That list included (in order of priority):

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

Recently, I was listening to episode 1557 of The Survival Podcast, “The Responsibility Of Being Prepared.” On April 15, Spirko told listeners:

All we need to do is start looking at the basic needs of human kind and in the modern world. These are simple. They’re universal:

• Food
• Water
• Shelter
• Energy
• Health and Sanitation
• Physical Security
• Financial Security

Note how Spirko has now broken down “Security” into “Physical Security” and “Financial Security.”

I like that expanded list of “innate survival needs,” and will adopt it. Reordered for my purposes:

• Physical Security
• Financial Security
• Water
• Food
• Health and Sanitation
• Energy
• Shelter

“Physical Security” is still priority number one because I predict the push for more gun “control” will continue while crime simultaneously gets worse. “Financial Security” breaks into the list at number two because the most likely disaster I see on the horizon is an economic one. “Shelter” now brings up the rear as I’ve completed that move from my Chicago apartment to a house in the suburbs (plus there’s my family’s place in Wisconsin where I spend time).

More soon…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 34: Food Garden And Survival Seeds

In the last “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about starting a food garden. Progress has been slow (then again, frost warnings are still going out around here in the Chicago suburbs), but at least the fruit and vegetable seeds are on their way. I purchased heirloom seeds put together by My Patriot Supply, an affiliate marketing partner of Survival And Prosperity (discussed here). In particular, I purchased a flagship product of theirs called the Survival Seed Vault. From the website of the now Salt Lake City, Utah-based “Patriot Owned Survival Store”:

The Survival Seed Vault contains only the highest quality heirloom vegetable survival seeds. These Patriot Seeds are 100% Non-GMO, open-pollinated and placed in specially sealed packets allowing for long term storage…

• 20 varieties of hardy heirloom survival seeds passed down from our forefathers.
• Survival seeds rated for 5+ years of storage at 75F, longer at lower temperatures.
• No hybrids, GMOs, or outdated survival seeds. All harvested seeds are reusable.
• Each seed bank is hand-inspected and packed by our American staff to ensure quality.
• Includes detailed survival seed saving guide.

As for the kinds of seeds contained in the “Vault,” My Patriot Supply says on their site:

Included Patriot Seeds

• Blue Lake Bush Bean – over 150 heirloom seeds
• California Wonder Bell Pepper – over 70 heirloom seeds
• Marketmore Cucumber – over 150 heirloom seeds
• Scarlet Nantes Carrot – over 800 heirloom seeds
• Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce – over 900 seeds
• Golden Acre Cabbage – over 530 heirloom seeds
• Detroit Dark Red Beet – over 260 heirloom seeds
• Lincoln Shell Sweet Pea – over 100 heirloom seeds
• Black Turtle Bean – over 70 heirloom seeds
• Beefsteak Tomato – over 180 heirloom seeds
• Champion Radish – over 320 heirloom seeds
• Green Sprouting Broccoli – over 500 heirloom seeds
• Waltham Butternut Winter Squash – over 100 seeds
• Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach – over 260 seeds
• Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion – over 145 heirloom seeds
• Golden Bantam Sweet Corn – over 250 heirloom seeds
• Hales Best Cantaloupe – over 70 heirloom seeds
• Snowball Cauliflower – over 285 heirloom seeds
• Black Beauty Zucchini – over 50 heirloom seeds
• Crimson Sweet Watermelon – over 60 heirloom seeds

As I mentioned in that last “Project Prepper” post, I plan on starting small with the food garden (remember- I’m new to all this). As such, I doubt I’ll be using many of the varieties of seed at first, let alone every seed contained in a pouch. Which is one of the reasons I chose the Survival Seed Vault. Their pouches are mylar, triple-layered, and resealable, where I should be able to use a few seeds at a time and put the rest back in storage.


“My Patriot Supply, Survival Seed Vault”
YouTube Video

I’ve had my eye on the Survival Seed Vault for a few years now in case the poop ever hits the fan. By purchasing one and trying to grow some of the seeds now instead of just socking away the unopened container for long-term storage, I’ll be able to evaluate the quality of these heirloom, non-GMO seeds from My Patriot Supply, start my food garden, and have the remaining Vault seeds at my disposal should a SHTF-scenario arise.

In the next couple of days, my girlfriend and I will decide which fruit and vegetable seeds from the Vault to plant this spring, taking into account their specific requirements and our ability (inability?) to meet them.

(Editor’s note: Product added to “Gear And Supplies” page)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 33: Focus On Food

It’s been some time since my last “Project Prepper” post (January 5), where I reaffirmed security is at the top of a list of six “innate survival needs” I’m working on meeting as part of this series of posts. That list, as you may recall, includes:

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

Today, I’m focusing on survival need #3- food. In particular, starting a food garden.

Regular readers of these posts may remember me mentioning I’ve already socked away a couple of buckets of high-quality freeze-dried food at very attractive prices.

In addition to freeze-dried food, I’m planning on turning to copy canning soon to grow my emergency food supply.

For those readers not familiar with the term “copy canning,” from stockupfood.com:

1. Make a menu of meals for the week. Include the meals that you eat most often for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner… and don’t forget desert!
2. Now make a shopping list based off this menu.
3. After looking over your shopping list choose an item that you can buy multiples of easily- or inexpensively if it’s been a tight month. (ex. a can of cream of chicken soup, or 10.) This method of buying multiple cans at once is called copy canning.

Furthermore, I want to transform a basement closet into a pantry capable of storing this emergency food, among other things.

Finally, as I blogged back on November 6, 2014:

This coming winter, I look forward to planning with my girlfriend a future food garden located on our property. I think I know of a good spot for it as well…

Now, I’ve been wanting a food garden since I lived in the “concrete jungle” that is Chicago’s Northwest Side. So much so, if I didn’t end up living someplace where I had my own private plot to grow one, I figured I might utilize a community food garden. I started looking into them a few years back , and loved the concept. However, I was put off about the potential for theft. Which turns out is a real concern in the Chicagoland area…

Winter is finally starting to release its grasp on us here in the Chicago suburbs. As such, my girlfriend and I have been discussing the future food garden. Since the last thing I grew from seed to plant was a lima bean back when I was in the third grade, I figure it might be wise to proceed slowly-but-steadily with this venture. To start, we plan on utilizing two areas of our backyard to attempt to grow a small number of fruits, herbs, and vegetables (if possible- I still have a good deal of research to perform here). This space behind our garage gets a tremendous amount of sun:

Food Garden Area Garage

And this setup in the middle of our backyard has already seen a number of herbs planted and harvested there (courtesy of my girlfriend’s mom):

Food Garden Area Mid Yard

The other night, I studied a resource I originally wrote about back on May 29, 2012. From that post:

Here in Illinois, we’ve got the University of Illinois Extension, the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that offers educational programs to residents of all of Illinois’ 102 counties. Under the “Horticulture” area of their website are 57 extension program sub-sections chock-full of free information on gardening and more. Examples include:

• “My First Garden”
• “Successful Container Gardens”
• “Common Vegetable Problems”
• “Herb Gardening”
• “Backyard Fruits”

One feature under “Horticulture” that may be of particular interest to Illinois residents who desire to grow food but don’t know where to start is the “Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide.” It looks fairly impressive in terms of the amount of information provided.

That’s me! “Illinois resident who desire to grow food but don’t know where to start.” And the Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide (found here) is “fairly impressive,” providing me basic information and inspiration (courage, really) to start, maintain, and (hopefully) harvest a food garden. Topics covered included:

• Step 1 – Make Good Use of Your Location
• Step 2 – Plan Your Garden Layout
• Step 3 – Grow Recommended Varieties
• Step 4 – Obtain Good Seed, Plants, Equipment, and Supplies
• Step 5 – Prepare and Care for the Soil Properly
• Step 6 – Plant Your Vegetables Right
• Step 7 – Keep Down Weeds
• Step 8 – Control Pests
• Step 9 – Water Properly
• Step 10 – Harvest at Peak Quality

I also have two books my girlfriend picked up for this project- Month-By-Month Gardening in Illinois: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year and Guide to Illinois Vegetable Gardening (Vegetable Gardening Guides) by James A. Fizzell- that I’ll be studying carefully along with that guide.

I hope to achieve a number of things from this food garden:

• Better nutrition
• Better health
• Improved food security

Stay tuned.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Product Review: Daily Bread Freeze-Dried Food

As part of my “Project Prepper” series of posts, I recently mentioned that I picked up a couple of Mountain House Classic Buckets of freeze-dried food at some terrific prices.

I bought the Mountain House brand despite never tasting it. That being said, I did do a significant amount of research beforehand, and most reviews of that label were very positive.

Still, probably not the best way to go about selecting emergency food. After all, what if it tastes like crap? Kind of demoralizing if WTSHTF I’m stuck eating something I’d rather not.

I’ve decided to conduct some “product reviews” of freeze-dried food on this blog in the coming weeks. While taste is subjective, I’d like to see if I did okay in acquiring those Mountain House buckets, or if other “major-brand” foods of this type are more “tastier.”

First up is Daily Bread (offered by Food Insurance). I blogged on March 21, 2013 (Project Prepper, Part 11):

Now, some time ago, I was introduced to freeze-dried foods by the folks over at the National Geographic Channel as part of a “thank you” package for blogging about Doomsday Preppers. I received a sample of beef stroganoff from a well-known company that prepares and sells such food. Busting it out for lunch one day, I found it to be easy to make (open package, add boiling water, seal, and wait), and rather surprisingly, it didn’t taste all that bad. A little bland, but some pepper cured that.

More recently, I had the opportunity to try some different freeze-dried food samples from a company called Daily Bread, which according to their website is “nationally recognized as the leading brand in the emergency food supply industry.” I understand their products are recommended by Glenn Beck of TheBlaze TV and Sean Hannity of FOX News. I received samples of their beef stroganoff and lasagna with meat sauce and had them for lunch on two different days. Once again I found them easy to make. However, I experienced first-hand why Daily Bread received the recommendations it did from these two media personalities. Their beef stroganoff was considerably more tastier than the other brand (no pepper needed this time). And the lasagna with meat sauce was delicious.

Now, I noticed some of the noodles in each beef stroganoff sample were a little “crunchy” upon eating. I suspected that might have been because I poured the contents of each package into a bowl (which was permissible per the directions for each) upon completing their preparation rather than letting the food sit in their pouches and eating it from there. When I had the lasagna with meat sauce for lunch, I just ate it right from the pouch. And you know what? Perfectly “cooked” with no crunchy food.

Anyway, that’s been my experiment with freeze-dried foods to date. And I’m thinking they’ll probably play a major role in my emergency food supplies based on my experience so far.

Now, sometime after I wrote that, I decided to obtain another sample of Daily Bread freeze-dried food through Food Insurance. A 2.54 oz (72g) pouch containing “Freeze Dried Chicken Teriyaki with Rice” was sent to me. It was billed as “A Sweet Combination of Oriental Flavors.” We shall see…

Daily Bread Freeze-Dried Food Pouch

Preparing the meal was easy. I tore open the pouch, removed the oxygen absorber, added 1 cup of boiling water to the pouch, stirred the contents, pinched the pouch shut, let it sit for the maximum recommended time (9 minutes) to ensure it was perfectly “cooked,” and then busted it open. Here’s the final product:

Daily Bread Freeze-Dried Food Cooked

After bringing the freeze-dried entrée back to life, I grabbed a glass of water (will just be drinking water during this series of reviews to ensure my taste buds aren’t compromised) and carried the pouch plus water over to my front room so I could chow down on what was going to be my lunch.

By the way, the pouch had some heft to it (stirring in the boiling water makes one 10 ounce serving).

Verdict

The Daily Bread chicken teriyaki with rice was thoroughly-“cooked”- nothing crunchy- and was excellent tasting- not too sweet, and definitely not bland.

I was also pretty full after eating that single serving, with no immediate desire for a side dish or dessert.

On a side note, I actually found myself trying to scrape up any last morsel of the meal with my spoon while watching TV.

“Give us this day our Daily Bread.” That’s for sure.

Daily Bread freeze-dried food is sold through Food Insurance (one of this blog’s affiliate marketing partners- reviewed here), and right now the Kaysville, Utah-based company is offering a completely FREE entrée sample to the public- meaning no shipping and handling charges, and no obligation to buy. This free food sample pack is being made available for a very limited time only.

Interested in obtaining a sample or checking out the Daily Bread offerings? Click on the banner ad below and you will be taken to the Food Insurance website. Please note that I receive a commission from any purchases you make on the site.


Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Survival And Prosperity
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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