Saturday, August 30, 2014

Getting Prepared for Beginners #16 Don't Fear The Reaper

There are lots of disasters that could occur, but focusing on one can destroy your focus on living. Living in Fear is the enemy of happiness. Be prepared, but live.

Before I even get started I want to state that I am not saying you shouldn't be concerned about any of the events I cover in this post. What I am saying is that statistically these events are not very likely. Having a well rounded preparedness plan will have you ready for all of these events without focusing on just one. Obsessing about any single event will not benefit you in any way. All of these events are possible, I just believe that being prepared should be done out of a logical thought process and a desire for self reliance.

A lot of people start getting prepared because of a specific event. This may have happened to them, someone they know, or just been something that a person realizes could happen to them. The first reaction is "Oh crap, What if that happened to me?" This is a normal reaction. However decisions should not be made out of fear.

Fear can be a Catalyst but Should Not be a Motivator

There are a few tried and true marketing techniques. Sex sells clothing, cologne, makeup, and apparently food. Envy sells cars, houses, and jewelry. Fear sells insurance and prepps.

I want you to think about that. The people who are pushing fear are all trying to sell you something. Actually a lot of somethings.

There are a lot of very real things in the world to be afraid of. So many in fact that if you focused on only those things it could drive you mad. Fear has it's place. In a nice box on your mantel. If you keep your fear there it will never control you. People who are controlled by fear make bad decisions.

I hope all of you remember the Mayan calendar thing. The world was supposed to end December 21, 2012. There were people who spent their life savings getting ready for the apocalypse. I remember reading one report of a man and woman who sold their home, split the money and decided to party til the end. Guess what? We are still here.

Fear can be a catalyst but should never be a motivator.

If I could wave my magic wand and change one thing about the Preparedness movement it would be to remove fear as a marketing ploy. I follow a lot of alternative media on Twitter, but I follow a lot of mainstream media as well. I bet once a week someone is predicting doom by such and such date. That is not helping preparedness. Headlines like that are why  society thinks they are justified in calling us crazy. I actually got an email the other day saying the US economy would collapse in 6 weeks.

Really!?! If they truly had this information all of the people in "the know" would be scrambling to get supplies. What were they trying to get me to buy? Silver. Does silver have a place in preparedness? Yup sure does, but it is after peanut butter. At least it is on my list.

We are going to talk about some catastrophic events that people prepare for.


Electromagnetic Pulse. An EMP is one of the disasters that if you find someone who is worried about it, it is their primary concern. I know people who think about an EMP everyday. They try to consider an EMP in every purchase. Marketers love these people. If I can claim a radio is EMP resistant and back it up with research, a person who is obsessed with this event is going to buy, even if it is more expensive than it should be.


  1. EMPs are real. As much as I would like to tell you it is a bunch of hooey, I can't and keep my integrity.
  2. EMPs come in many forms. If you go by the strictest definition static electricity and even lightening qualify as an EMP.
  3. Small EMPs are much more common than people think. If you throw a fire cracker in a metal garbage can, you can measure the pulse with a good quality multimeter.
  4. With all but weapons specifically designed for EMP production, the EMP does not extend beyond the blast radius. So if an EMP does hit wait a couple of seconds and walk toward the light.
  5. If an EMP attack were to occur with a weapon designed for that purpose most advanced electronics would be fried. If you saved your radio there would be no stations to listen to. If you saved your cell phone the towers wouldn't work. Your flashlight would be fine. Older cars would probably be fine. Bottom line, unless you have an expensive generator, or some way to create your own electricity, don't worry about it. If you do, don't worry about it too much. It is statistically very low on the probability list.
For more information on EMP please visit my friend Graywolf Survival. He is working on a series specifically about EMP and how to survive if one were to occur. I like the fact that he is focusing primarily on a solar based event while covering a nuclear based one as well.

Yellowstone Super Volcano Eruption

Okay, so you have seen the documentary on the Yellowstone Super Volcano and now you are terrified. I can get that, but here is the deal. If it blows tomorrow, you will not be ready. If it blows in 1000 years you will not care. Yup, it is gonna blow, but there is no way to know when or even how bad it will be. Don't let this one scenario consume you. No one really knows what will happen if Yellowstone goes up. I remember when Mount St Helen erupted. The "experts" said it would be decades before anything grew on that mountain again. Guess what? The very next year things were growing. Will it be bad? It sure will, but no one knows just how bad. Focus on a basic level of preparedness and just go on.


This one is tough for me. I know a little about the concept, but haven't spent much time researching diseases and quarantine procedures. Being clean is very important. Washing your hands by itself decreases the likelihood of getting sick. Including some basic medical preparedness supplies help as well. Masks and gloves being the most basic, but possibly the most important. Hand sanitizer and disinfectants should also be very high on your priorities list. For further information on being prepared for any medical emergency check out Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy. Here is their write up on pandemic supplies. Just be prepared to hang out a home for a little while and be healthy everyday. 

Dirty Bomb

Dirty bombs are small suitcase bombs that have an added nuclear component. Based on everything I can find, these bombs would not be any more powerful than another similar sized conventional bomb, except for the addition of some radioactive fallout. The actual power of this type of device is the panic that it would produce in the population.

If such an event were to occur, I would most certainly stay away from large cities. This type of event has not yet occurred. It is possible. Again achieve a basic level of preparedness and just live life.

Economic Collapse

Of all the possible long term events, this is the one that I think is most likely to occur. At the time I am writing this the United States is 17.66 trillion. And we are not the only ones. has a tab you can click to see other countries national debt. The numbers are telling. Almost every country is spending money they do not have. This cannot go on like this forever.

What is going to happen? No one knows. At some point we are either going to devalue our currency to the point where we can no longer buy things or we are going to get so deep in debt that we can no longer make the interest payment and we as a country will go into default.

Being afraid doesn't change anything. I have spoken to people, lots of people, that one of these disasters is what they want to talk about. You can see it in their eyes. They almost consider themselves an evangelist of sorts. Their chosen disaster is what will end society as we know it.

Living in a state of fear destroys health and relationships. Keep fear where it belongs, somewhere so it doesn't dominate but it is still available if we start to slack. Fear can and will if allowed to get in the way of your
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet the Homestead and Preparedness Writers Patrick with Survival at Home

I am really excited to introduce to you Patrick from Survival at Home. A real busy guy. He works with Homestead Bloggers Network and with Prepared Bloggers. It is always an honor to get to work with people who have the same goals. I hope you enjoy getting to know Patrick.

How old are you?

Do you consider yourself a prepper, a homesteader, or a mixture of both?

I think I'm a little bit of both. I really believe the two intermingle more than a lot of people realize. My family is stocking food and supplies, learning everything we can, and trying to do everything for ourselves so we're able to live as self sufficiently in the future as we can.
What do you think the greatest challenge our society faces?

At this point in time, I honestly think the biggest problem is entitlement. People who think everyone owes them something and they shouldn't have to be held accountable for the things they do. It's running rampant in the new generation. That sense of entitlement will lead to social uproar should a true SHTF situation ever arise. People need to learn to start working together more and stop blaming each other when something goes wrong. Fix the problem and move forward with a lesson learned so you don't repeat the problem.
On your site you state that you are working toward a homestead life. What advice would you give those who want a more wholesome life, but do not know where to start?

My advice would be to start where you are. Do one thing at a time - if you find an interest in learning to make your own cleaning products, make them! If you want to learn to can your own food, learn! Just don't overwhelm yourself by trying to change your entire lifestyle overnight. You'll cause yourself more stress and lose a lot of time and money in the process. It's an easy transition if you learn at a pace that's comfortable to you.

You have a special needs member in your family. How does that change your preparations and/or daily routine? Do the physical limitations of a family member change your priorities list in any way? If so Please explain.

Our little girl can't walk, talk or crawl. She has a wheelchair and a cart (like a big stroller) we use for mobility. It definitely changes the way we prep. We always have to think of her comfort first, because she doesn't understand basic concepts like a typical 9 year old would. As far as a daily routine, it's built around making sure things get done around the house as well as working with her constantly to ensure her safety and making sure she's content and happy. As patient as she's taught us to become, she's a pretty patient kid, too... but when she wants something, she wants it NOW. lol As far as physical limitations, since she can't do the things a typical 9 year old does, we have to plan ahead to do those things for her. We have to get her dressed, fed, cleaned up, as well as carrying her where she needs to be carried and doing things for her she can't do on her own. It can be stressful, but with a prepper's mindset, it's a LOT easier - always plan ahead!

Did any of your family members try to discourage your lifestyle change?

No, most of our family doesn't really know what we do. We're not the "wacko" preppers that shows like 'Doomsday Preppers' make folks out to be, so the family members that know what we do don't poke at us. Some even want us to teach them to do things, too... and others are teaching us to do other things... so it's more of a give-give situation.
If you are a prepper what preparations have you made or do you feel everyone should make?

We lost everything we had (literally, everything) to a house that was infested with mold. My wife and daughter both got very sick, we had to move out of our house and leave everything behind, so we've had to start over. With that said, the preps we have done since the move have been more "back-to-basics" kind of preps. What would we do if the lights went out? We have tons of homemade emergency candles, plenty of flashlights, and some rechargeable glowing stuff... We're freezing and starting to can our own foods... and we're putting together new bug-out bags for multiple situations (medical emergencies, INCH bags and the like). I feel that everyone (EVERYONE) should think back to the worst situations they have ever been in, relive them in their heads, and figure out what they could have had prepared to lessen the impact of the emergency, then apply that to their preparations for the future. Really, that's what prepping is all about - lessening the blow of emergency before emergency strikes.

IF you are a homesteader tell me a little about your homestead.

We are "homesteaders" in the sense that we have the homestead spirit. We were on 2 acres with huge garden plots and moving daily towards a more self-sufficient life. Due to the mold, we had to move out of our home and into an apartment temporarily, so while we don't have animals and huge gardens, we are still learning skills that will help us on our path to self-sufficiency now and when we get back into a house. Making our own cleaners... food storage and preservation... things like that are what we're currently working on.

How long have you been homesteading, prepping or both?

I have been prepping since I went into basic training in 1991. My son (who is now 18) was in Boy Scouts for a while, so that reinforced some of our prepping, too. As far as homesteading, with information and daily living stuff, since I was a child. My parents grew up during the depression, so a lot of it was instilled from the beginning. My dad ALWAYS had a garden right up until he just physically couldn't do it any more. Mom always hand-made gifts for family and friends. My wife is the same way - their family had chickens and huge gardens, always canned stuff... it's just always been what we've known.

If you could tell every person one thing what would it be?

Learn to do things for yourself and take responsibility for yourself. In the end, you and your family are all you can truly count on. Pass along information and skills traditionally like our parents and grandparents have tried to do for us.

What do you think your best asset is in helping others achieve self sustainability?

Knowledge. Always knowledge. Learn everything you can, and practice your skills often. Knowledge (and patience) can help you through any situation.

If you could talk to every parent out there how would you encourage them to become more self reliant?

I would encourage every parent to be more self sufficient so their children learn to do the same. Entitled children who rely too much on technology will be truly lost in severs situations. They'll panic, and panic always leads to bad things happening. Learn and teach skills that will help you and your family survive and thrive under the worst situation you can possibly imagine. Prepare for zombies, hope they never come. lol

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Patrick with Survival at Home. When you swing by tell him The Rural Economist sent you.

Working together we can all achieve our 
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quitting Smoking My Adventure

Last pack of cigarettes and photo bomb by Otie.

What this post is NOT going to be; this is NOT going to be a "Hey look at me and what I am doing, you should do it too. This post is NOT going to be preaching that everyone who smokes should quit. This post is not going to be anything except me sharing what I go through as I quit smoking and my thoughts on the subject.

I have smoked off and on for a very long time. Here is the kicker. I like smoking. I enjoy the flavor, the smoke slowly fading into the air, the quickening of the pulse, and calming of the nerves.
If I like smoking why am I quitting? Several reasons. 

1. I don't want to be a hypocrite. If I  am teaching self-reliance I should not be dependent on something I cannot control.

2. Saving money. Even where I live cigarettes are $4.00 a pack for the cheap ones. I normally smoked between 1/2 to 1 pack per day. That adds up.

3. Principle. I do not like the fact that I am using my money to support a company that adds flavor enhancers that make their products more addictive. I also do not like the fact that tobacco is taxed so heavily. The government claims they tax the product so heavily to discourage people from smoking, but when people start quitting tobacco they have to search for another money stream.

4. The most important reason I have decided to quit; my baby asked me to. My wife is a respiratory therapist and she sees what some people go through. She asked me to quit. I will succeed.

Don't get me wrong. I believe I am invincible. I can get hurt, but I believe I can live through anything. I am not weird in thinking that way. If you don't think like that you know someone who does.

I am quitting "cold turkey". I have tried the gum and the patches in the past. Neither program worked for me. I am unwilling to take medication. I just do not want to have the side effects of some drug especially when one of the side effects is thoughts of suicide. 

Now for the day by day breakdown on how I feel and what I go through quitting. If you have quit smoking you will understand. If you are planning on quitting, count this as a heads up for what you might go through.

Day 1: "I can do this. Little on edge but I can handle this." Some stressful moments.

Day 2: "Just leave me alone. I will stay quiet and we will all get through this together."

Day 3: "What the Crap are you thinking?!" I hate chemicals that drive you crazy when you don't have them. "Just breathe. Why does sugar help? I swear I smell chocolate. Either my taste-buds are changing or something is different about this hot dog."

Day 4 : Very high energy and louder than normal, which is saying something, I am loud anyway. The filter that is normally between my brain and my mouth is either broken or very weak. Don't ask my opinion unless you are sure you want to hear it. Why are stupid people allowed to breathe? Why am I so hungry? If I grow my own tobacco it won't be as bad for me right?

Day 5: High energy, high frustration first thing calmed down quickly. Sense of smell increased I can smell a lit cigarette at 300 yards, still want one, but it is okay. Chewing gum is my friend. Everything tastes different. Somethings better some things worse. Really rough afternoon. I am going to make it.

Day 6: I really thought I would be over any effects by now. There are certain times that I want a cigarette more than others. Today has been really bad. I think it has been bad because up till now I have been able to stay busy. Downtime is the most difficult part.

Day 7: Still want a cigarette. I can deal with it. Not a very nice person right now. I am much too quick to say whatever comes to mind. I have not been very social. I have read a temporary personality change is NOT uncommon and can last a month or longer. It is tough, but I am doing it.

The most difficult times for me are driving and riding. 

What Helped Me

Set a date and stick with it. I started on a Monday, admit ahead of time that it is going to be difficult. Don't put off trying.

Stay busy. For me the most difficult times are when I am not active. I didn't realize that smoking was part of my quiet time routine. Actually I used smoking when I was relaxing, thinking, stressed, worried, happy, sad, well you get the picture. 

Let people know. If your experience is anything like mine, people are going to need to know in advance. As your body us cleaning out the nicotine, you may not be as nice as normal. I know I wasn't.

Reward yourself. Set small goals and reward achieving them. I only smoked a pack a day. The reward could be a movie, a snack, anything small that you enjoy.

Chewing gum is your friend. Part of the habit is the motions. Replacing those motions help.

Have a plan to celebrate. I know what I want to spend the money I am saving by not smoking on and when I get there it is going to be great.

If you fail don't beat yourself up. I have tried several times to quit. It is NOT easy. If you start back just get ready to try again.

You can do this. At the time I am writing this I have saved $28.00 and it has only been a week. Depending on where you live you could save a lot more than that in a week. Will I be able to maintain? I am going to try, but it is tough.

Have you quit smoking? Did you go through the emotional rollercoaster like I did? I would like to hear your story.

P.S. I am still thinking about growing tobacco. Talk about a powerful barter item.

Don't let an addiction get in the way of your 
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Opportunity Knocks

Have you ever been presented with an opportunity that you knew was a good idea? Even though you knew it was a good idea, did you still experience fear? Fear is a powerful and persistent thing for many people. For some fear can be paralyzing. For the most part I consider fear to be an enemy of progress and growth.

Are there times that fear is necessary?  Fear throws all of your senses into overdrive. If you see a car heading straight for you, fear can quicken your reaction time. In acute unexpected situations fear can be beneficial, but in my opinion that is about it. We are going to talk about a couple of opportunities that my family have and cover one of the ways I help make a decision when it seems tough.

I am not saying you should take every opportunity, even if it is a good one, it might not be good for you. I am saying that you should never make a decision based on fear unless an immediate action is required i.e. getting out of the way of a speeding car.

Opportunities do not have to be business or money related. I have had the opportunity to get 2 bushels of apples for free. Big opportunity.

Opportunities are all around us. Some are in your face and some you have to search for.

My family has two opportunities that have recently started to materialize. First, my wife has registered to become a CPR instructor. Second, my dad has been presented with the opportunity to grow pork for a regional restaurant chain.

Both of these opportunities have initial up front costs. Both have the ability to choose their own paycheck. Both have major responsibility and benefits.

CPR Instructor

My wife has talked about becoming a CPR Instructor since she was in the respiratory program in college. There is a little fear involved. In order to become an instructor you have to take an online course and find somewhere that has an instructor course. You cannot take the instructor course until after you have completed the online portion.

Once you have completed both the online training and the instructor class an instructor must watch you teach a course. This is the part that my wife is most concerned about. Sometimes she gets stage fright. I know she will do well. 

We will be buying a set of CPR mannequins and printing my wife some business cards. Once everything is complete my wife can start scheduling classes. She will be reaching out to people who have not been properly served.

I am so excited for her. I know she will be 
great. Look for more details coming soon.

The Pork Business

My dad has been working toward self reliance for a couple of years. He has been doing the truck farm thing and has done well, but it is a lot of work and not a big return. He never complained, but with the changing regulations he has found it more difficult.

How he landed the opportunity to produce pork for a growing restaurant chain, I don't know. What I do know is he is only going to use a portion of his land and the restaurant wants 10 hogs a month.

This will provide my dad with a much needed income stream while still allowing him flexibility to work toward a more self sustainable life. It is a big deal.

Evaluating an Opportunity

How have you evaluated an opportunity? Do you write out checklists, pros and cons, or just go with your gut feelings? Unless you just go with your gut feeling, in some way you think about the advantages and disadvantages of an opportunity. Some advantages as well as some disadvantages are more important than others. You cannot just make a list of pros and cons, count the number of items in each list and come up with an answer. A simple list doesn't take into consideration the gravity of each individual pro and con.

If you are looking into buying a new piece of property, there may be one or two things that if a property does not have them, even if the property is perfect in every other way you will pass on the purchase. Things that are that important are called deal breakers. They "weigh" more to you than all of the other things combined. This concept is called a weighted average.

Here is an example. We are going to look at the possibility of me starting wilderness survival classes. Something I have seriously thought about doing for some time. For this example I am going to rate each pro on a 10 point scale. 10 being critically important and 1 being a consideration, but not very important. Ready?

  • Being my own boss again (8)
  • Being able to work outside (7)
  • Teaching something I love (10)
  • The ability to set my own schedule (9)
  • My children could participate if they chose (6)
  • I could decide how much I wanted to earn and work toward that goal (4)
  • Build local respect (4)
  • Networking with people interested in the same type things as I (5)
  • I will need an apprentice (5)
I could go on, but you get the point.

  • Liability insurance (9)
  • Having to deal with difficult students (8)
  • Working with a state run park (6)
  • Communication challenges due to weather (4)
  • Cost of equipment (6)
  • Cost of operation (6)
  • Dealing with state and local regulations (8)
  • Being away from my family if they choose not to participate (7)
  • I will need an apprentice (4)
  • Dealing with attorneys for solid waiver. (7)
  • Dealing with allergies of others (3)
Okay just looking at these two lists, to me it looks like it is almost dead even. But is it really? I have not done the math a head of time so we will find out together. There are 9 pros and 11 cons. If we simply count the pros versus cons, I will not look into teaching any farther. But is that wise?

Now to the math. If I add the ratings of the pros together the sum is 58 and the sum of the ratings of the cons is 68. Only 10 apart. If I stop there it looks like the math tells me not to teach these classes. However, if we take into consideration their weight it looks a little different. 58 divided by 9 gives us 6.44 and 69 divided by 11 gives us 6.18. Wow, that is pretty close, but by the math I should consider offering these classes. The difference of 0.33 or one third of a basis point is statistically significant. 

The numbers above may change as I do more research, but the fact that the pros have the upper hand in intensity has encouraged me to do just that. If the cons would have had the majority after the math that idea would have had to set for a while. 

Do I do this for every decision? Heck no! Somethings I just look and decide, others I consider more intently. I want you to have additional tools to help you decide when opportunities come your way. There are lots of different ways to weigh a decision.

Opportunities are all around you. Get out there and find one or more that will help you achieve your...
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet the Homestead and Preparedness Writers Julie from Home Ready Home

If you haven't stopped by Home Ready Home. You really should. Julie a self professed soccer mom and suburbanite has begun to make her family more self-reliant. Something we could all work on. She is a mixture of homesteader and prepper. Her site is really well rounded with information. She covers a wide range of topics. I am honored that she allowed me this opportunity to let you get to know her.

How old are you? 
Older than I'd like to be. :)

Do you consider yourself a prepper, a homesteader, or a mixture of both? 

Funny you should ask because lately I've been trying to figure out where I fit in. Honestly, I don't really identify with either group but I guess you could say I have some prepping tendencies and some homesteading tendencies. I am someone who sees change happening in the world and I want to be ready for it. The way I was living isn't sustainable so I'm trying to become a little less dependent on other people and things.

What do you think is the greatest challenge our society faces? 

Changes to our environment, economy and energy. I began to think differently about how my family was living after I read a book called The Crash Course, by Chris Martenson. Chris gave words to the feelings I had been having as I read the news stories on honey bee colony collapse disorder, rising gas prices, frequent natural disasters, the current economy, etc. Where we are headed is going to be a lot different from where we have been.

On your site you stated that you have really undergone major changes in your lifestyle. How difficult was it to change the way you do things? 

The most drastic or difficult change was definitely changing my outlook. My family was living the way so many families live today. Pretty much everything we needed we bought, plus plenty of stuff we didn't need. We had no interest in developing any back-to-basics skills because why would we need to do that? But once our mindset changed, things actually got easier. My free time is spent on learning skills that support sustainability. Some are harder than others. For example, gardening presents plenty of challenges. (We are no where near ready to eat solely from our garden so thank goodness for the farmer's market!) But at the same time, I was surprised at how easy it is to can and make bread.
Did any of your family members try to discourage your lifestyle change? 

No, thankfully, they are all behind it. Yes, we've made changes but in many ways we are still the same. The kids still go to their schools, run in the same social circles and do the activities they love. If anything we've added more to our lives than we have taken away and they are discovering they like the additions we've made so far.

If you are a prepper what preparations have you made or do you feel everyone should make? 

What my family has done and what I suggest everyone should do is figure out what they need to be prepared for. What type of emergencies—big and small—may your family face? Figure that out and then make a plan for how you would deal with these emergencies. Once you've done that, the next steps will fall in line.

IF you are a homesteader tell me a little about your homestead. 

Most of the time, we live in a suburban neighborhood in North Carolina. We own a house on about a third of an acre and the house takes up most of that. I have several raised beds and containers for gardening but the homeowner's association limits what we can do with the property. After our "awakening", part of our lifestyle change was purchasing a 13-acre rural property in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We spend as much time there as we can but employment keeps us from living there full time. I think that's a good thing though. It would have been too stressful to go from city living to country living without a transition. Tractor mechanics, hunting season, cutting hay...these things weren't even on my radar before and so many things we have run into have turned into challenges just because lack experience and knowledge. Thankfully, we have great neighbors who generously share their knowledge with us and show us the way. We are also experimenting with permaculture there, which is something that I'm excited about. Early this summer, we finished implementing the first phase of our permaculture homestead design, a food forest.

How long have you been homesteading, prepping or both? 

Coming up on three years.

If you could tell every person one thing what would it be? 

You don't need completely overhaul your life to make it more sustainable. Yes, we've made some drastic changes in ours, like the mountain property, but you can learn to be more self-reliant where ever you are. Start with little steps. Any change is good.

What do you think your best asset is in helping others achieve self sustainability? 

Gosh Gregg, this one is difficult for me. I've always struggled with identifying my best assets. :) What I hope I will be to others is inspiration. If this suburban soccer mom can change the way she does some things in her life, maybe someone else will think they could make a few changes too. And if enough people make changes then we will have a brighter future ahead.
If you could talk to every parent out there how would you encourage them to become more self reliant? 

I don't know any parent who doesn't love their family and want a good life for their children. If you really look at what's going on in the world, it becomes more and more difficult to ignore the fact that if we don't do things differently in our lives, our children may not have the life we want for them. 

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Julie from Home Ready Home. When you swing by her site please remember to tell her The Rural Economist sent you.

Working together we can all achieve our 
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting Prepared for Beginners #15 Skill Development (Home)

Special thanks to Brenda Barnes, Kathi Rodgers, and
Quinton Wojciechowski for providing photos for this post.

You may be thinking "Why is skill development important for a short term emergency?"  I actually hope you are not thinking that. If you are, just remember you will be asking help from people who are in the middle of the same emergency. I have been a member of a volunteer fire department. When the call comes out you really want to answer. But if something is going on at your house that needs your attention, you are not going to go. This is not being a poor first responder, this is being a responsible father or husband or mother or wife. You cannot expect someone to come to your aid if doing so will endanger themselves, their families, or their property.

Skill development is something you want to do in advance. You do not want to have to learn to run a chainsaw when the tree is already on your house. I know this seems like an extreme example, but it's not and you get the point.

So what skills should you learn? Oh I am so glad you asked.

First Aid and CPR

There is a valid argument to be made for every parent to know CPR. I am not going to cover this in depth. My wife is much more qualified than I and will be writing a full post in the near future. I am just going to share a story.

My grandfather was the fire chief at the local volunteer fire department. As a result every member of my family had a role in the department. My aunt and uncle were rapid responders. A rapid responder is kinda like a medic or advanced first aid person.

I don't remember how old I was but I do remember it was Father's Day. A call went out about a heart attack. We were all at my grandparents' and the address was only a couple miles away. We took off. When we arrived at the home a man was laying in the front yard. My aunt and uncle started CPR.  His adult children were standing around as my family tried to save their dad's life. He didn't make it. At the time I thought it awesome that these people needed my family to try to save theirs. Now I realize that if they had started CPR sooner they might have been able to save his life. Yes CPR IS VERY important.

If you would like to find out where you can become CPR certified you can search for classes HERE.


These skills are not as glamorous as first aid skills but are just as important and to be honest more likely to be needed.

Skills that at least one if not two people in your family should have include:
  • Being able to shut off the utilities
  • Being able to tarp a roof to prevent leaking and further damage to your home.
  • Being able to board up windows.
We will cover each of these topics.

Electricity. You should at least know how to shut off the power. Depending on your service box you could have two different ways to shut off your power. The most common way to shut off the power is at the breaker box.

Inside the box you will see a large breaker. It will be by itself. Just switch it to off. That is it. Now doing this shuts off the power to the entire house. You can also shut off the power to certain sections of your house. Hopefully your breaker box is labeled. If it is you can just choose which circuits to shut off. If it is not labeled, no problem you can label it yourself.

If you have an older home you may have a fuse box instead of a breaker box. That is not really a problem. The concept is still the same. There will be a large double fuse by itself, either above or below it will be rows of small round fuses. The large fuse will have a handle on it. You will need to pull this fuse out in order to shut off the power to your entire home. To shut off power to individual circuits you will need to unscrew one of the smaller (normally glass) fuses. Just like in a breaker box each circuit should be labeled.

Reasons you might need to turn off the power include: Doing any work that involves an electric circuit. Damage to your home that might cause a short (one room damaged). Flooding of your home or a really bad leak (roof damage).

Water. Shutting off the water is pretty simple. You will have a water meter between your home and the main line. This will not apply if you are on well water or live in an apartment. If you are on well water I hope you are familiar with your system. If you are in an apartment there should be a maintenance person who is charged with this duty.

Your meter will be in a concrete or rubber box. Inside that box you will see the meter. The shutoff will be on the street side of that meter. It normally only takes a quarter turn clockwise to shut off the water. This cuts the water to the entire house. It is a good idea to have shutoff valves in every bathroom and each sink.

Here is the meter tool I mentioned in the video.

Natural Gas or Propane. If your home uses natural gas or propane every member of your family that is old enough to do so, should know how to shut off the gas. If your home is damaged this knowledge could keep a bad situation from turning into a true catastrophe. If something has happened which has caused a gas leak, the slightest spark could be devastating.

Shutting off the gas to your home is just as simple as shutting off the other utilities. Just a turn of a knob. If you do not think about it ahead of time you probably won't think about it when you need to. Being able to shut off gas lines is very important.

Most gas companies and even modern gas appliances have safety features that make gas leaks less likely, but this knowledge could be the difference between a bad situation and a total loss.

Boarding up Windows

By now you know me. I am not talking about protecting your home from zombies. I believe it is much more likely for a tree to knock a window out of your house. Once you remove the tree you will need to do something about that window. If you are rural and it is not during the blazing hot summer or hard cold winter you may be able to get away with just using plastic to prevent critters and weather from getting in your home. If you live in an area where looting is a possibility you will need to do something more substantial. Enter boarding up your windows.

There are several ways to board your windows.

The most common way is take boards or plywood and nail it up. Easy right? Also fairly easy to tear down if you have a pry bar.

There is another more secure way to board up a window, but it takes advanced planning and at least two people. Here are the steps and supplies needed. 
  1. Cut treated plywood to at least 4 inches larger than window opening.
  2. Cut a 2X4 at least 6 inches longer than the window is wide on the inside of the house.
  3. Open window wide open and figure out where to drill a hole as close to the center of the plywood as possible. Hole will need to be about 3/8 of an inch.
  4. Also drill a 3/8 hole in the center of the 2X4
  5. You will need a 12 inch piece of all thread 2 nuts and 2 fender washers for each window.
  6. One person holds the plywood in place and feeds the all thread through the hole with a fender washer and nut already started.
  7. The person on the inside makes sure the all thread goes through the hole on the 2X4 places the washer on the all thread and then tightens the nut. 

Great Planes All Thread Rod (12-Piece), 2-56x12
I pulled this picture from Amazon, but you should be able to find this locally.
This will hold the plywood in place and will protect against most of the elements, but it is still not "zombie proof". It could be made so, but that would require tack welding, a cotter key and a drill press. If someone really wanted to get in all they would need would be a wrench, but if you had a tree come through a window, this would be the best way to keep the elements out of your home.

Tarping a Roof

Like so many things there is a couple of right ways and a ton of wrong ways to tarp a roof. The reason you would need to tarp a roof could be as simple as a few shingles have blown off and you are trying to prevent leaking that might occur or a whole section of shingles are missing and leaking will occur. Of course there is always the scenario where not only are shingles missing, but some of the decking of your roof is also gone. In the last two situations tarping your roof is a necessity. 

I know you could always call a carpenter or repair person, but remember when you need them in situations like this several others are calling them as well. You could be way down on the list. The longer you wait to put into place preventative measures the greater the likely damage to your home.

If done incorrectly tarping your roof can actually increase the damage caused. When you put a tarp on your roof you are trying to keep moisture from getting to your decking. If the tarp allows moisture to get to the decking it also interferes with your decking's ability to dry out. 

If at all possible the tarp should go across the ridge line of your roof. This helps prevent water from just running under the tarp. If you cannot have the tarp cross the ridge line of your roof you should use either a 1x2 or furring strip the hold the tarp as tight as possible then caulk the upper edge and the edge that is the direction where most of your weather comes from. Around here our strongest storms tend to come from the southwest. Ensure the tarp is as tight as possible and use either 1x2 or furring strips around the whole perimeter. The pictures below are of a tarp job done well.

Special thanks to Brenda Barnes for these photos.
Storm damage can happen to anyone at any time. Knowing these basic skills will help you protect your family and property.

I wish you all Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Help Your Children Start Their Own Business

No matter who you are,  you know our current school system does not teach our children everything they need to know. It falls terribly short on real life lessons. If we as parents don't step up and help teach these lessons,  we are doing our children a disservice.

One of the lessons we should be teaching our children the value of work and creativity. How do you do that? Encourage them to start their own business. I am talking a real business in miniature, also called a micro-business. When you want your children to learn real lessons don't always let them sell something and keep all of the money. That is for younger children, but for older children it doesn't teach them the true nature of business. I have done it with my children and my parents did it with me. This did teach me that work produces rewards, but it did not teach me about all of the other things involved with business.

Even taking business classes doesn't give anyone the knowledge and wisdom that real world experience can. I believe my college degree just proved I was willing to do what was necessary to get through. There is nothing I learned in school that I couldn't have learned in life.

What things do running your own business teach you? Hang on we are going to cover quite a bit.
Expenses Come Off the Top

Like I said above I remember selling things when I was a kid and keeping all of the money. It wasn't til much later that I realized the materials I used to make things cost money. Money my parents spent. Of course most of my projects were made from recycled materials and still are, but some portion is new.

We found an idea for a business for our kids. Both are artists. They have different styles, but both are very good. They are going to start making wall art.

I make the canvases and get them ready for them to work their magic. They come up with designs and then have to assemble the supplies they need to make their design. As soon as the first one sells they have to pay back what was spent on supplies. Anything over that is profit.


You cannot expect people to buy something they do not know exists. You have to let people know. Today this is a lot easier than when I was a kid. I mowed yards for extra money. I remember going to people and asking if they needed someone to mow their yard. Today we have the internet. You can let thousands of people know about a product just by writing.

There are also craft shows. A craft show teaches then to make a lot and have a delayed return. There is also the expense of booth rental. All of this is paid before a sale takes place.


You cannot expect people to buy a product they have not seen. I let them know there is a custom made market put there, but until they establish themselves and have a solid portfolio of products they have made they cannot expect people to order things unseen.

Also since they have shown an interest in craft shows they will have to produce enough to fill a booth. I have never seen a crafter's booth with only two items. You have to have enough items to make a good showing.


Just because you think your work is priceless doesn't mean everyone else does. If the world based prices on me not much would cost what it does today. My children can set any price they want, but if people won't pay what they are asking they will make no money.

The reverse of this is also true. You can price your items too low. People may buy what you have like crazy, but if you have not included a high enough profit margin you will not be in business for long.

Sales and Customer Service

I am willing to help my children all I can, but I am not going to do it for them. At least not without price. If my children want to keep more of the profits they have to do the sales. If they want me to sell for them I should get a commission. This is just the way life works. My daughter is quite shy, but she will learn at the very least cordial communication.


Just because you have repaid your initial start up costs does not mean you get to spend all of the profits. You must take part of the money you make from each sale and apply it to supplies for future projects.
Just having stated this outright to my children made them look at business differently. People do not get to keep all the money they make.

Hard work can and should pay off. There are tons of lessons to be learned by your children starting their own business. Who knows, maybe you could learn some things too.

The best thing about your children starting their own business is they learn to relay on themselves. That alone helps them have a brighter future.

Maybe a family business could help you achieve your Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

If you would like to purchase some of my daughter's artwork please contact me at

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Are Farmer's Markets Under Attack?

The farmer's market today only resembles the markets I remember as a child. Pickup trucks lined up what whatever they had for sale. It actually looked more like a yard sale with veggies. I remember hoe handles, chickens, piglets, fruit, veggies, jams, jellies, bread, pies, salsa, pickles, and even bacon. Yup the old style bacon that after it was cured you could hang up somewhere and just cut off what you needed. Those were real farmer's markets. Seems like I even remember them having outhouses.

Sadly those are long since gone. Now they are much nicer. Covered places with electricity at each booth. Fans blowing, music playing and an authorized food vendor. Just because they are nicer doesn't mean they are better.

The first thing to go was of course  the outhouses. I understand completely, but they went to port- o- potties which in my opinion is the same thing. Then finally they moved to site built restrooms. Some of these are as nasty as the outhouses, some are really nice.

The next thing to go was the animals. They smell bad and you have to clean up after them. Oh and you know people cannot stand to hear crowing all the time. Having animals there will force parents to tell their children where supper comes from. Oh we can't have that!

Next was the meat. It didn't matter that it was salt cured or smoked in a smoke house. It didn't come from an inspected slaughterhouse. It doesn't matter that that was the way people had been preserving meat for hundreds if not thousands of years. We have evolved beyond that and don't want it around. By the way, I love salt cure ham and plan on building a smoke house of my own soon.

Okay, all of the undesirables are gone. Veggies, great. Fruits, great. Baked goods, fine. Jams, jellies, all good. Pickles, salsa, pepper sauce, no problem. Canned veggies....Wait just a minute! Are we sure these were processed properly? I know old Joe is here every week, and has been for years but what if? Okay so what if has been asked. Canned corn, potatoes, vegetable soup, peas, and beans gone. Pickles are still okay. High acid foods like salsa and canned tomatoes, they are okay too. Homemade jellies and jams, really anything with fruit is fine. 

Baked goods........well now. These people don't have commercial kitchens! How can we guarantee the public's safety? Yup that's right, baked goods are going away. In fact in a lot of areas even bake sales are becoming illegal. That's right! Churches and civic organizations that have used bake sales as a fund raiser are finding out they can no longer do so. These are just examples of what is happening locally. But it is not just happening here, this is occurring all over the country. Don't believe me, try buying some fresh milk. Milk that has not been pasteurized. In our state any raw milk sold must be labeled "Not for Human Consumption". 

If you are on social media at all you have heard about how the Michigan Department of Agriculture forced a Co-Op to dump hundreds of gallons of milk and break 100 dozen eggs. I have done as much independent research into this event as I have time for. I have been in contact with the dairy that sold the milk to the co-op and can confirm that this actually happened. As for the reason why I have been unable to ascertain. I have tried to contact the co-op, but I am sure they have been inundated with requests for information. The fact stands that this did occur and according to the dairy involved, the following article had the most contact with the coop owner. Michigan Farmer Forced to Dump 248 gallons of Milk and 1200 Eggs.

Why Is This Happening

If you will look closely at the places that are most strict you will find one of two types of places. First is the place that is fairly affluent. Places don't like "country people" being in their area. They want to go to Whole Foods. They don't want to know who grows their food. If it were up to them farmer's markets wouldn't exist close to them. It should be an adventure. They want to go "out there" if they want something special. A trip to the country is an adventure. There is an exception in this area. Sections that are considered artsy a lot of times will welcome farmer's markets. These people want homemade- especially cheeses and breads.

The second reason I believe, pressure is being applied to farmer's markets is also the biggest reason the changes are happening. Money. In order to sell at a farmer's market here you have to take a class, which you have to pay for. You have to rent a space. You have to declare sales tax. Remember I said baked goods were going away. Well, that is not technically true. You can still sell baked goods if you are willing to take another class. A more expensive class. Who holds these classes? The state. Now if you go through all of this stuff you will be certified. That state has protected the public. Add on top of that the local fees. Some counties charge a fee for being a seller at the farmer's market and all cities I know of do as well. 

So let's review. You grow something in your garden. You grow more than you need and want to sell the surplus to someone who wants it. Great. One thing first; you have to pay money you haven't earned yet to be able to sell what you haven't grown yet. After you have gotten the okay from the state the hands start showing up. County and city all want their piece of the pie you cannot sell unless you spend more money you haven't earned yet. If you don't do these things this way and we find out you are selling stuff on your own,the county or city will put you out of business because you do not have a business license. Remember the little girls and the lemonade stand? The link I provided was to Forbes, hardly alternative media.

What I Think

I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist. If you will think about this objectively I think you will agree with me at least on some level. I think it is all about control. Now I do not think Tropicana is worried about little kids having a lemonade stand. Heck the kids may have even been selling Tropicana lemonade. The initial desire for control is local, HOA, city, county, then state. Tax revenues are going down, I do not care what the media says. Look at it, you will see the truth. 

I do believe that big agriculture does not like farmer's markets. Every person that buys from a local producer, does not buy that item from big agriculture. GMO seeds are not available to the backyard gardener so companies like Monsanto who are starting to feel the backlash of public opinion. Since labeling of GMOs is not required, big agriculture wants people to buy at the grocery stores. Everyone wants your money and they don't want anyone else to get any. If you can only get your food in one place or from one source, they have the control.

A truck farmer used to be able to go to the farmer's market and sell all day. Anything they didn't sell they would just go to the local grocery store and sell their remaining produce to the local grocery store at a reduced price. The grocery store was then able to market locally grown produce. This is increasingly going away. Grocery stores have contracts with big agriculture producers. A lot of these contracts now include an exclusive supplier clause. That means the store cannot buy from anyone else. Truck farmers are finding they have fewer and fewer outlets for what they grow.

Why Be a Part of a Farmer's Market

There are still good reasons to put up with all of the garbage and be a part of a farmer's market. 
  1. The public knows where you are going to be and when.
  2. Networking (get to know the other growers)
  3. Learning (gardeners are very willing to share their knowledge, unless of course they are trying to grow the largest pumpkin or watermelon, that is top secret.)
  4. Advertising (advertising costs are shared by several farmers not just one family)
  5. People do not know where you live. (I have a friend who had a stand in their front yard and people would knock on his door to be able to buy things and would get angry if he told them he was eating dinner and to come back tomorrow.)

There will always be trouble makers. My aunt had canned some salsa and one of the big grower walked up and asked in a bad tone if she had the salsa tested at the health department. My family told her no. She said "You can't sell it then" turned on her heels and went to tell on them (Like a 5 year old) only to find out that salsa due to acid content did not have to be tested.....yet. Score one for the good guys for now.

I Want to Hear From You

Are farmer's markets and local producers being mistreated where you are? I would really like to know.

What I Want From A Politician

I would like just one politician to stand up and declare that it was their goal to make their city, county, or even state the freest place around. I actually want them to mean it. If one would do that, they would have my support.

Every time we grow our own food or buy food from the person that produces it we cut out several middle men. Big agriculture and government are the ones who are left out of that loop. Shouldn't we want to know who produced our food? I have the poster below on my refrigerator. I look at it every day to help me remember that growing your own food or knowing who does has become an act of rebellion.


Available on Amazon $14.99

I wish you
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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Affiliate Link Disclosure: The post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.