Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: prepsteading for shtf

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

Tips on Getting Okra Seeds to Germinate

Okra seeds

Okra is one of those wonderful and well rounded crops. It can be canned, boiled, fried, or used in recipes such as gumbo. As wonderful as okra is, it needs certain conditions for the seeds to sprout (aka germinate).

To help understand okra we need to look at where the crop originated from, and that is Africa. What would we expect a crop from Africa to need? If the reader guessed hot weather they are correct. Some theories suggest okra was brought to the United States during the slave trade, which would be feasible. On thing is for sure, okra is a mainstay in Louisiana cuisine, including gumbo recipes. If gumbo does not have okra in it, it is not real gumbo.

The old timers use to say, “Plant okra when all you need is a sheet to sleep with.” This was before modern air conditioning and people slept with their windows open. So when the weather warms up enough that all someone needs to cover up with is a sheet, it is time to plant okra.

Here in Southeast Texas, most people plant okra in early May.

After heat, the next thing okra needs is water. A lot of people I know soak their okra seeds in water before planting. Some people even add a couple drops of bleach to the water. I have never tried the bleach.

Soaking Okra Seeds

2018 Spring Garden Has Been a Bust

Cajun Spicy Bell Peppers

The spring garden for 2018 has fallen flat on its face, and it is my fault. To fully understand what happened we need to back up a few years.

Several years ago I held a New Years bonfire. The bonfire was made from pieces of timber left over from cutting trees from the property. There was a large section of Sweet Gum, pine tree limbs… etc. piled up maybe eight feet tall. After the bonfire was lit, it burned for several days.

Once the New Years bonfire had finally died out, there was a pile of ash almost three feet tall and eight – ten feet across. The pile was so tall a tractor was used to level the pile out. Once the pile was leveled out, a tractor disk was used to mix the ash into the soil.

Fast forward a few years. I figured the ash had time to dissolve into the soil, but I may have been wrong.

What Does Potash Do?

Garden Update: Contender Snap Bean Sprouts and Peppers

Contender snap bean sprouts

Contender snap bean sprouts are breaking through the soil and pepper plants are getting established. Some the peppers have died, and some are not looking too good, which is to be expected.

The pepper plants were planted in a garden spot around 100 yards behind the house. Just a couple of days after planting we got around 8 inches of rain overnight. I suspect a couple of the plants drown during the rain. Some of the pepper plants look nice.

One of the things I love about spring is the garden. Seeing sprouts break through the soil is a wonderful sight. They symbolize rebirth after winter is over.

No signs of the potatoes yet, but that is no big deal. It may take the potatoes a few more days. When the potatoes were cut, I made sure each eye had plenty of meat on them. The potato chunks provides nutrients so the roots and sprouts can get started.

Snap Bean Sprouts

Who Will Be Your Best friend after SHTF

AR-15 SHTF Survival Rifle

Awhile back someone posted a comment on one my youtube videos saying the hoe will be your best friend after SHTF. This got me to thinking about how important certain types of survival gear were over other types.

Can you use an AR-15 or AK-47 to till a garden? Plow a field? Bushhog? Operate an auger to set fence post? Clear brush? Weed a garden? Pick the crops? Can the harvest?

Who is your very best friend?

The hoe and the rake.

They have proven then test of time. Our ancestors used garden tools thousands of years before firearms were ever thought of.

Garden tools have no moving parts – no locking lugs, no bolt carrier, no firing pin, no ammunition, nothing to run out of except your physical strength.

When I made the youtube video I thought it was a good topic. Maybe something for members of the community and forum to talk about their over reliance on firearms to survive a post-SHTF world. I was rather set back by the comments and negative ratings on the youtube video.

Tractor Auger for Chicken Yard Corner Post

Auger drilling holes for corner post

While working on the new chicken yard I figured I would go the glorious route and do as much as possible by hand. However, that mind set changed when I realized how much effort I was putting out and how little work was getting done

In our age of machinery we lose appreciation for hard work. I wanted to be able to say yes, I have set fence post by hand. This included everything from digging the corner post hole with diggers, to notching out the H-brace by hand with hammer and chisel.

After setting 5 post I said “screw this, it is taking too long”, and called my uncle who has a tractor auger. I still have around 15 corner post to set. Doing everything by hand is taking too long and I have a lot to do before winter sets in.

Since I am using telephone poles for corner post, a regular 6 inch auger was going to be too small. It just so happened my uncle as a 12 inch auger bit.

Prepping Plans For Late 2013 and Early 2014

Gardening shed on a rural farm

Part of my SHTF prepping plans include looking several months ahead. Rather than waiting until spring of 2014 to make plans, I like to think about what I should do 4 and 5 months ahead of time.

I see no reason to wait until you are at the farm supply store to think about what crops you want to plant. Lets go ahead and think/talk about what you want to buy, what crops you want to plant, how you are going to store those crops several months ahead of time.

Planning ahead allows me to work out the fine details, such as type of fertilizer I want to buy, what kind of AR-15 magazines I want to get, what kind of new AR-15 I want to get,,, and so on.

As the end of 2013 draws close I would like to take a few minutes to talk about my prepping plans for the next 4 months or so.

Firearms, Parts and AR-15 Magazines

Meat Production After SHTF

Barred Rock Chicken

There are all kinds of articles out there talking about meat after SHTF. You want to know what is missing in a lot of those articles? Exact details.

Awhile back we talked about how many chickens would be needed for SHTF. I would like to do this article in the same manner as the chicken article.

Lets start with one very important question, and that is how much meat does the average person eat? To find the answer lets turn to the US census.

Per Capita Consumption of Major Food Commodities

Average US meat consumption in 2009:

Commodity Weight / Number
Red Meat, includes beef, veal, lamb and pork. 105.7 pounds
Poultry, includes chicken and turkey. 69.4 pounds
Eggs 246 eggs

For right now lets exclude eggs and focus on red meat and poultry. We will talk about eggs later.

Rabbit Update: Raising Rabbits For SHTF

Rabbit exploring her new home

An update to how the rabbit hutch and hideaway boxes are working out. The hideaway box is working well, but they are moving their food bowls around and spilling their food.

To fix the food bowl problem I ran a screw through the bowl and into the 2×4 under the bowl.

I used a 10 penny nail and hammer to poke a hole in the bottom of the food boil, then secured the bowl with a 2 inch outdoor wood screw.

The doe seems to spend an equal amount of time inside and outside the box, while the buck spends most of his time on top of the box.

The rabbits get on top of the box so they are next to each other, and that is where they spend a good deal of their time .

Grinding Stumps At the Farm

Tractor mounted stump grinder

Now that the trees have been cut and some of the small timber has been thinned, its time to call a stump grinder out to the farm. A stump grinder is machine with carbide bits which cut the stump down to below ground level. No digging around the stump, no burning the stump, no pulling on the stump with a truck,,, nothing but a machine that turns a tree stump into chips.

Instead of buying a stump grinding machine that would rarely be used, I called a contractor that works by the hour. In 3 hours the contractor had ground 109 stumps.

There are a number of stump grinder designs on the market, some of them look like large tillers. The one the contractor used attached to the back of a tractor and was operated by the power take off (PTO).

Why are we having stumps ground? The stumps are in the way of driveway, chicken yard fence, chicken coop and where the shed is going. Instead of having to drive around the stumps, and waiting for them to rot, now the stumps are ground 6 – 8 inches below ground level.

Grinding Stumps At The Farm

Considering Sheep For The Homestead

One of the things I would like to do after my wife and I get moved to the homestead, is to get some kind of milk and meat producing livestock.

Cattle was one of my first choices. My wife and I cook a lot of beef – ground meat, steaks, stew meat,,, just all kinds of different cuts of meat.

Goats were my second choice. Cattle eat grass, goats eat weeds, so they would not compete over the food sources. Unlike a cow, when a goat is butchered I would not have to deal with a 1,000 pound animal.

Then there are sheep. Unlike goats, sheep produce wool that can be used to make clothing. The breed of sheep I was looking at (under the suggestion from my brother) is hair sheep. Hair sheep look like goats, as they have short hair instead of wool.

Sheep For The Farm

Sheep are flock animals, so you do not have to worry about them wondering off away from the pack.

Another Work Day at the Farm

Cutting pine tree stump

During the last trip to the homestead we focused on thinning trees. The largest and healthiest trees were flagged so they would not be cut, the smaller trees and underlying brush were thinned out.

On February 1st and 2nd we focused on cutting tree stumps down to ground level so the heavy equipment can get in there next weekend. This part of the land has been used was an makeshift family trash dump back in the early 1980s. Most of the stuff dumped in this location is scarp metal, tin, hot water heater, cans,,, stuff like that.

Now for the rest of the story.

February 1 2013

Started off like any other day. My wife and I got up around 6:30am, got our shower, got dressed and headed out the door. On this Friday I had the day off work. so instead of going to work, I headed to the homestead for another kind of work.

On the way out my wife, my daughter and I stopped by the Shell station at the corner of Hwy 63 and FM 777 in Jasper, Texas. We were thinking about going by the donut shop, but decided to stop by the shell station. The store sells breakfast sandwiches and breakfast biscuits that are freshly made. I got a breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg, cheese. To wash breakfast down I got a low-carb monster energy drink.

Rural Homestead After SHTF / TEOTWAWKI

Pair of fresh eggs

Would a rural homestead make a good bug out location? SHTF / TEOTWAWKI has happened, whether it was a financial collapse, nuclear war, widespread civil unrest,,,, something has happened to has disrupted society as we know it.

If you live on a homestead in a rural location, what might be some of the supplies you would need, and what would be some of the hardships you would face?

As I write this article I am just thinking out load. Lets brainstorm and get some ideas for discussion.

We all know the typical topics such as safe drinking water and food. In this article lets move past those topics that should be a given. What are the things that would make everyday life possible? What do we use in our everyday lives today that we would need after SHTF / TEOTWAWKI?

Breakfast After SHTF

Lets wake up, do our morning routine then eat breakfast. What are going to be eating for breakfast? Chances are its going to be oats we have stored in mylar bags and eggs.

To have eggs we have to make sure our chickens are safe from predators and the elements. Given the chance predators such as foxs, opossums, coyotes and even other people will steal your livestock.

Exposed to wind, rain, ice and snow your chickens will die.

What do we need to keep our chickens safe and comfortable? We need a chicken coop and a way to repair the coop. This means we need hand tools, staples, hardware cloth, hammers, a good saw, wire cutters, tar to fix holes in the roof of the coop,,, and so on.

Survivalist: Survival Seed Stockpile

Survivalist garden seed stockpile

Survivalist, do you have a survival seed stockpile? I do.

In fact, my survival seed stockpile is something that I like to keep an eye on – its on the top shelf of the freezer. I see it every time I open the freezer to look for something to eat.

If your thinking of stockpiling seeds, certain times are more favorable then others for buying seeds.

Spring Garden Seeds

Spring is when the feed and fertilizer stores get their seed shipments in. This is usually the best time to buy fresh seed, and it gives you an idea what might be in short supply.

In the early spring of 2010 I went by 2 different seed stores here in Jasper, Texas and both of them told me the same thing – certain types of cucumbers will be in short supply. Which really did not bother me because I had more then enough of those types of cucumbers stocked up anyway.

Late Spring Early Fall Seeds

Rotating Your Survival Garden Seed Stockpile

Stockpiling Garden Seeds

One of the questions that is asked a lot on the forums, is how long will seeds stay good? One example to the answer of that question is the Doomsday Seed Vault. This seed vault is designed to keep seeds frozen for centuries. Some types of seeds will stay good for decades. While other types of seeds can stay good for hundreds of years – if kept frozen.

Even though seeds can stay viable for a long time if frozen, I still take the time to rotate out my seed stock.

A lot of the seeds in my stocks are cucumbers, peas, snap beans, corn, squash, radishes, and zucchini – especially squash and zucchini. That is because they are easy to grow and somewhat disease resistant. Snap beans, cucumbers and zucchini can by high producing plants.

In the spring of 2008 my wife and I planted a couple of rows of snap beans. These rows were maybe 10 – 15 feet long. We got around a 5 gallon bucket out of just short row. Keep in mind that the 10 foot row produced food for over a month and had to be picked every couple of days.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018