Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

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Planning a Fall / Winter SHTF Survival Garden

Turnip as part of a survival garden

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about planning a fall and winter survival garden after SHTF. There are a number of variables in planning a fall or winter survival garden, such as location and growing season.

In the southern part of the United States we have a long growing season. Depending on location, we may not have our first frost until late November or early December. Sometimes we may not have a frost until mid to late December.

The northern portion of the United States has a rather short growing season.

Due to the various lengths of the growing seasons, first and last frost, please adjust the dates listed in this article to your geographical location.

The fall and winter survival garden will be divided into two sections:

  • Fall
  • Winter

The difference between the two? First heavy frost will kill the fall crops, while the winter crops will survive until the most severe cold weather sets in. An example would be the difference between acorn squash and turnips greens.

Fall Survival Garden

How to Start Prepping for SHTF

Kevin Felts political commentator

Interested in how to start prepping for SHTF? This article breaks down various aspects of prepping so someone with an interest in survivalism should not feel overwhelmed.

Prepping for SHTF can be a daunting task. Some people new to prepping / survivalism may become overwhelmed with stockpiling ammunition, selecting a SHTF survival firearm, storing food in mylar bags… etc.

Believe it or not, prepping for SHTF can be an easy process, that is if someone understands what they are prepping for.

Where does someone begin prepping for SHTF? For people new to prepping they should turn to history.

Over the course of a several millennia humanity has faced various events. These events include everything from an Ice Age to outbreak of bubonic plague in the middle ages.

SHTF Historical Examples

Using a Vehicle to Solar Dehydrate Peppers and Tomatoes

Solar Dehydrating Peppers and Tomatoes

Can a vehicle be used to solar dehydrate peppers and tomatoes?

Saw this on an episode of Doomsday preppers, or something like that, so I decided to give it a try. A tray off of an electric dehydrator was used to hold the food, and a meat thermometer was used to measure the air temperature. Two of the windows of the SUV were cracked around 1/8 – 3/16 inch.

The goal is to capture the greenhouse effect of the summer sun on the vehicle. Then use the collected heat from the greenhouse effect to dehydrate peppers and tomatoes.

Types of peppers in this experiment:

  • Tabasco Peppers
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Bell Peppers

Preparing the Peppers

Flashlight Review: Jetbeam WL20 Hunting Flashlight

Jetbeam WL20 Flashlight close up picture

The Jetbeam WL20 is marketed as a multicolored hunting flashlight. The purpose of the colors is to help blood droplets become more visible. This helps hunters track wounded game animals, such as deer.

In all honesty, I have never used a hunting flashlight to track deer. Typically, the red blood droplets stand out well on leaves and pine straw. It also helps to understand how animals react when they are injured.

For this review, the Jetbeam WL20 hunting flashlight we will be looking at typical, everyday usage. Which means will the light survive being dropped several times, how easy is the light to use, and how bright is the Jetbeam WL20?

Jetbeam WL20 Specifications

Thorfire TK01 AAA Battery Flashlight Review

Thorfire TK01 keychain flashlight

The Thorfire TK01 is a keychain sized flashlight that uses a single AAA battery. Unlike a lot of other keychain flashlights, the Thorfire TK01 is a single output of 85 lumens.

Upon opening the box first impressions were good. The flashlight came with a small keychain ring which slips through a hole in the tailcap, and a couple of extra o-rings. The o-rings are for the tailcap which unscrews, while the bezel does not.

When the Thorfire TK01 housing was opened to insert the AAA battery, the spring typically found in the tailcap had came loose and fell into the battery compartment. It took a little bit, but the spring was finally snapped back into place in the tailcap.

Turning the Thorfire TK01 on and off is as simple as twisting the head. The problem is, the head is very easy to twist. Also, when the head reaches a certain point on the twist, pushing on the head will turn the flashlight on. While carrying the Thorfire TK01 flashlight in my pocket I noticed it turned on several times.

Tomatoes, Peppers, and Okra Spring Garden Update

Jalapeno peppers

The garden got off to a late start this year. In March we received so much rain the seeds rotted in the ground. It seemed like every couple of days we were getting a cold front.

All of this means the 2018 spring garden is running a month behind. Instead of the peppers producing in May, they are producing in June. Which is no big deal because once the peppers start producing, they will continue until the first frost.

Instead of the okra being planted at the first of May, it was planted at the end of May. I was hoping to get some rain to help the okra germinate, but we did not get rain for a month.

Eventually, I decided to plant the okra and water the seeds with a sump pump that sits in a creek. Everything worked out and the seeds germinated. Once the okra started to come up, it is making solid progress.

Tomatoes and Tomato Cages

JETBeam KO-01 1080 Lumens Flashight Review

Jetbeam KO-01 Flashlight

This is a review of the JETBeam KO-01 flashlight. First impressions is a hefty feeling light that uses a single 18650 battery. It does not feel cheaply made at all.

Double click the on/off switch and it will activate the strobe. While in strobe, click the on/off and it will go to high. Then hold down the on/off to turn the JETBeam KO-01 flashlight off.

Tailcap is flat so it can be stood upright. Turn it on, stand it upright, and it will help light up a room.

Something I found to be unique, the tailcap accepts quick connect swivels. For the video I took a quick connect off one of my AR-15 rifles, and put it on the light. This means the light can be securely hung anywhere.

External USB port for charging. When charging, there is a blue led under the on/off switch that will glow blue. When finished charging, the led will turn off.

No carry case or belt click are included. To me, the belt clip and carry case are subjective. Some people may use them, while others may not.

Lanyard holes are rather small. However, with the quick connect swivel, do you need lanyard holes?

JETBeam KO-01 Specifications

Barbecue Cook Out For a Family Reunion

Smoked barbecue chicken on a pit

For a Saturday the day started off early. Rather than sleeping late, I had to get the pit fired up and ready for the cook out. My family was having a family reunion which honored my aunt, uncle and my dad.

My contribution to the family reunion was 20 pounds of chicken and 7 pounds of sausage. However, to have everything ready on schedule I had to start the pit around 8 am Saturday morning.

The fire box on the smoker is 2 feet and 6 inches long. To start the fire I typically use a small bag of self-lighting charcoal, with wood stacked on top of the charcoal. The wood is stacked with two pieces long ways, and two pieces cross ways.

It is as simple as lighting the bag and letting the wood born down to coals. When the first pieces of wood have turned into coals, additional pieces of wood are added. Usually, two pieces of oak wood are added, each piece laying at 90 degrees to the other.

Enough about the wood, let’s talk about the chicken.

Ending the Chicken Manure as Fertilizer Experiment

Tomatoes grown with chicken manure experiment

One gardening experiment for 2018 was to take a field that had not been used for a couple of years, till in chicken manure using a garden tiller, then plant the crops.

How well would the crops grow? Would some types of crops do better than others?

After watching the experiment for close to two months, I think I have my answers. The experiment for this year has drawn to a close and 13-13-13 fertilizer was spread along the garden rows.

However, I feel part of the experiment should be repeated in the spring of 2019. The weather here in Southeast Texas was very wet between March – April, then very dry from April – May.

When the rain stopped in April, it stopped. It was like GOD turned off the water valve. We have not gotten a drop of rain in close to a month.

Starting the Chicken Manure Fertilizer Experiment

Leaving a Rat Snake in the Chicken House

Texas Rat Snake

This may seem counter-productive, but two rat snakes have been allowed to stay in the chicken house. Usually, if a rat snake (aka chicken snake) is caught in the chicken house, it is dealt with with extreme prejudice.

However, awhile back a good size rat was spotted in the chicken house. For those of you who do not know, one of the worst creatures that can be in the chicken house is a rat. Not only will they eat the chicken feed, but the will kill chickens. Yes, a rat will kill and eat part of a chicken.

When it comes to pullets, which are chickens less than one year old, a rat can easily kill and eat one. Then there is the egg issue. Rats will eat whatever eggs they can.

Simply put, a rat in the chicken house can wreck havoc.

A live trap was put in the chicken house to catch the rat, but it kept getting out of the trap. Poison is out of the question. Old style spring loaded rat traps are also out of the question. What’s the next best thing to do? Let nature take its course.

In other words, let rat snakes do what rat snakes do.

Rat Snake in the Chicken House

Trying Something New With The Fig Trees

Fig tree

Around 2014 several fig trees were planted in the chicken yard. Some of the fig trees died and had to be replanted. The original ones, and the new ones have barely grown.

One of the original trees has barely put on any growth in four years.

In the past I had tried stuff like Miracle Grow plant spikes, and some Miracle Grow plant food. All that stuff is is a low grade fertilizer. Nothing I tried with Miracle Grow spikes or plant food helped the fig trees.

For 2018 I decided to try something different. I picked up some 6-7-7 fertilizer and put a cup around the base of each tree. This was done right before a rain. To benefit the plants the fertilizer has to be worked, or washed, into the soil.

Fig Tree Fertilizer

Collecting Survival Books for a Well Rounded Survivalist Library

Survival books

There is a question in the forum asking about survival books. Since the question is posted in the wilderness survival section of the forum, I guess the question was about wilderness survival books.

Rather than addressing just wilderness survival books, let’s talk about survival books in general and developing a well rounded survivalist library.

My favorite books are non-fiction history books. Also, I have a collection of modern survival / prepping books from various authors.

I usually pick a topic, such as the black death, or medieval history, buy several books from Amazon, read them, then pick another topic.

Last Three Books I Read

  • Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell.
  • The Neanderthals Rediscovered by Dimitra Papgianni and Michael Morse.
  • Technology in the Ancient World by Henry Hodges.

Getting the Barbecue Pit Ready for a Cookout

Barbecue pit on a trailer with a smoker

The other day a buddy called and asked if I wanted to bring my barbecue pit to a get-together he was planning. The event will span two days and have around 100 people in attendance.

It had been awhile since I had got to use the barbecue pit to cook for a bunch of people, so of course I said yes.

Decades ago my parents had a camp house that used butane. They eventually swapped the stove and hot water heat out for propane, so the 250 gallon butane tank was pulled out to a field. In the late 2000s I asked dad whatever happened to that butane tank. He told me it had been sitting in a field for the past 25 years. I went out to the field, waded through the chest high grass, found the tank, and brought it home.

Over the course of several months my son and I, and sometimes one of my nephews put the pit together. The flat bar and expanded metal were bought from a steel supply in Beaumont, Texas. The fire box and smoker were made from a 250 gallon air tank.

When my buddy needed someone with a barbecue pit, who do you think he called?

However, there are a few things I want to do to the pit before the cookout.

Cleaning the Cooking Grills

Washed Out Roads In Rural Areas

Washed out roads in rural areas

Washed out roads in rural areas have the possibility of disrupting daily life for weeks, and sometimes for months.

One of the problems facing rural counties is the amount of tax money allocated to them for road maintenance and upgrades. Believe it or not, there are thousands of miles of dirt roads all over the United States. Rather than putting in bridges over creeks, culverts are used.

Well, culverts only allow X amount of water to pass through them. When the flow of water exceeds X, the water starts to back up. Eventually, the water will find a way around the culvert. This typically means the water goes over the road, which causes erosion.

With enough time, the flowing water erodes the road away.

Washed Out Roads

Wild Plum Crop Looking Good For 2018

Wild plums, the American Plum

The wild plum, also known as the American Plum, is a plum native to the Americas. It grows wild in sandy soil and is drought tolerant.

Here on the farm there is a batch of wild plums in a pasture and have been growing there for years. This year looks like they are going to produce a good crop.

I do not know if it was the harsh winter of 2017 – 2018, or the very sweet spring, but whatever happened, the wild plums here on the farm are doing pretty good.

Some of the trees have 5 or 6 plums on one branch.

There is a spot on the farm I want to cultivate more of these trees at. So when the plums ripen I am going to harvest the seeds and plant them where I want the other orchard at.

The only bad thing about wild plums is they need full sun. If they get shaded, chances are they will die back. Some pine trees grew up in the north side of the wild plum patch, and the plum trees around the pine trees have died.

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