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Preparedness Nuggets

A Cyberbook of Practical Wisdom for Daily Living

Part the Fifth

Basic Alternative Power/Battery charging info

Beautiful Outhouse

Deep-fried Dandelion Flowers

Don't store things in your attic

Checking a used wood stove you are thinking about buying

Greenhouse for under $100

More on Greenhouses

Homestead Products

How-to Books, Carriages

Joseph in the Bible: how did he do it?

Kerosene Lamps

Log Cabins

Make your own lye


Mini-cellars and PVC pipes

Mormon cannery

Mormon company

Mulch gardening

Nonlethal home defense

Poison oak

Preserving yeast

Report from Vermont

Sites on hometeading

Small cheap cold frames

Storage food source

Water service letter

Where to get gold



Mini cellars are for storing produce like apples, turnips, cabbage and carrots. Any produce that requires a cold moist environment to last very long. So you *wouldn't* want to store something like winter squash, pumpkins, peppers or citrus.

We dig ours on a slightly sloping part of a flower bed. The flower bed because it is less conspicuous. Cut off and save the sod from the top of the hole. Dig the hole three feet deep and two feet in diameter. Place a layer of straw at the bottom of the hole about 6 inches deep, or you can line with plastic first and then straw.

Next, place a your produce in the hole, place straw between each piece of produce, don't let any piece touch another. Then cover the vegetables with more straw. Continue on like this layer after layer til you get to about 6 inches from the top. Cover the top with a layer of straw. Next you need a lid made of wood or other sturdy material.

Cover the hole with the lid, then the sod. Press and mash the sod into the surrounding soil and water it a little.

Now about water.........

If you will line the hole with plastic and wrap the plastic loosely over the top of the produce after the hole if full, you will have a better time with keeping water out of your veggies. I use landscape plastic. Don't forget where you made your mini cellar...there's no worse feeling than not being able to find your stash! :)



Many of the dehydrated fruits sold by food storage companies come from one company -- Vacu Dry (707) 829-4637 (ask for Sarah). These products are actually low moisture foods (3-6% moisture, not dehydrated 20-25% moisture). You can order direct from the factory at a great savings if purchasing their 25# boxes. These are sealed to prevent moisture intrusion. One product I highly recommend if #4 mesh prunes. These are little chunks that can be added to cereals, breads, etc. The price is $3.65 per lb. (remember there are about 7-8 lbs. of fresh fruit per 1 lb. of dehydrated with no waste). Prunes are very high in calories- important to boost when eating only storage foods. They also have lots of iron and other important nutrients.



I followed the link from Homestead Products on wheat and called the LDS 800 number and got the location of the local cannery. It was a half hour from my home and someone had just canceled an all day appointment. I took four children with me (ages 12, 7, 6 and 4) and canned 600 lbs. of hard red wheat in 2 hours which included loading it in my car. I bought an additional 50 lb. bag to freeze and use when my mill arrives. The total cost was $193. When I asked the man there how long the shelf life was he said, "You could will it to your children," although their literature says 8 years. The advantage he mentioned is that in flooding, if the containers are dried right away to prevent rusting, the food is fine. The price here was $1.70 per 5.8 lb. can which included the can, lid, nitrogen packs, labels, box and 2 plastic lids for every case of 6 cans, and use of the equipment. You can also dry can powdered milk, drink mix, and a few other items.



Red Star instant active yeast can be purchased in large packages and is vacuum packed. Unopened, I've kept them in my pantry for years and they're still fresh when opened. Once opened, they stay fresh in the fridge for more than a year. And they last more than a year too, even with frequent, high volume bread-baking! Another great thing about it, it's instant active which means you don't have to add warm water or proof it to get it started. You just add it in with your flour and go! No matter what I do to it, it's never failed to rise! I love it!



I have found two good on-line locations for some basic alternative power.

The one thing I found here that I haven't found anyplace else is a solar powered car battery charger. $32.95, plugs into the car's cigarette lighter. I think it probably takes a while to recharge, since it probably provides only a trickle, but it works on sunpower. I'm not sure about the philosophy of the site (something about Earth changes and some kind of Marian apparitions, but I don't think they're Catholic, more new-agish).

[+++NOTE about this post from Robert Waldrop. I have ordered from BA Products, and they shipped either the same day or the day after I ordered. However, I asked them about the battery charger and they said it wouldn't charge a dead battery, it was used for keeping a battery in a car charged when the car was going to sit for several weeks or months without being started. What I ordered from them was a handy gizmo that allows you to operate an appliance (like a campstove or a lantern) that is designed to use a disposable propane cylinder, on a bulk tank (e.g. 20 lbs or more). Real Goods quoted me a price of about $150 to make a solar powered battery charger for me that would charge a dead battery in a reasonable time.]



I wanted to pass along these sites:

Art Bell's web site:



We have several Aladdin lamps and really love them. Because they use a mantle, cheap smelly K1 kerosene can be used if necessary with minimal smell. The reason is that the Aladdin mantle burns the impurities that standard wick lamps put into the air. The mantle acts much like the catalytic converter on your car. The mantle actually burns the impurities that are released from the primary combustion of the wick.

If you want to compromise on fuels, you can use standard lamp oil vs. ultra pure oil which is the purest grade of oil and Kerosene which is trash. Kerosene is much cheaper than either lamp oil but does not burn as clean.

Experiment and see for yourself. The key is to run a reduced wick for maximum efficiency without smoke with any fuel. Kerosene is cheap but even the Aladdin has some unburned product which can cause nausea and discomfort for some. Whatever fuel you decide to burn, the Aladdin will produce the most light for the least fuel consumption and emissions. No simple wick lamp can compare.

My wife Diane and I have collected lamps as a hobby for many years and we probably own over 50 lamps. Lamps are cute and make nice night lights but for real illumination, nothing beats the Aladdin. My Coleman lantern may put out more light, but who wants to pump all the time and then listen to the noise? The Aladdin is totally quiet and requires no pumping. It has a round wick that works by capillary action like a simple lantern.

Home Depot sells a small 8 oz. bottle of "kero-Klean" kerosene fuel treatment that "reduces odor, cleans wicks, reduces condensation, extends wick life, and increases efficiency of kerosene." The stuff is cheap and does seem to help. It is sold for kerosene heaters but works well in lamp oil or kerosene. Treated Kerosene and lamp oils do seem to burn cleaner in any lamp we have tried with this product. Kero-Klean comes in several scents. Our favorite is Pine. (We usually buy unscented anything if available!)

We have 10 gal. of K1 and several gallons of lamp oil stored for emergency. If we have to rely on oil lamps, the cheap kerosene makes a cheap backup if we run low on lamp oil. With Kero-Klean, we might even survive. (LOL !) Make sure you have extra mantles and at least one extra chimney. These are fragile.



Monex has a site on the web....they have been shown to a reputable source......I have been advised to get 75% in silver and 25% in gold.....will forward post if you like....



water filters, Aladdin lamps, quality simple-lifestyle & outdoors items



This should fit the bill ............ easy, cheap, practical, complete.



Through Lehmans I received a book called wood stove cookery it is more than a cookbook she covers installation also. There are also quite a few books at the library all of which should help you find the one that will appeal to you and how you understand stuff if you find one that works look in the bibliography and go from there . Also a book called woodheat which covers cutting and bucking your own wood it will give you approximates for how much you will need for the winter in order to cook all that time. Now as to the stove open the oven door and look on the left hand wall near the top, this is the side closest to the fire box use a flashlight you are checking for fine pin holes caused by heat ashes and condensation, if you have some you may be able to replace it through the manufacturer.

Oh by the way if you can identify your stove you can purchase an owners manual through Lehmans they also have a very informed wood cook stove staff. Check also to see if all of the fire brick is intact and if the grate, the place where they burned either coal or wood is still in good shape sometimes these grates can rust out as it is inevitable, if it is rusted out the owners manual for your stove should have the part No. and an address if not Lehmans to get a new grate. If you are lucky enough to know someone who reconditions these stoves they may be able to find you a grate to fit, this same info goes for the firebrick. The two books listed above will tell you how to cook install a and do some fixing yourself to the stove I hope you enjoy your stove and that you are blessed by the time you spend using it.



We made this mistake while living in Clarksville, TN. We had an attic room that seemed perfect for storing our buckets of wheat. However, I had to go up there one day during the summer....we even had central air conditioning....and about passed out from the heat. We then found that our nitro packed buckets had busted their seals, candles had melted, etc. It was a mess....we called Walton to find out if the wheat was still any good and they said to use it right away. We didn't have to worry about bugs in was too hot for the bugs to survive



Dandelions are not sour when first picked in the spring. My 72 year old neighbor was delighted when we moved in this spring. She asked if I was going to cook my dandelions and could my children help her gather the buttons for dinner. After I got over my initial shock....I had always

thought you just sprayed those weeds to get them out of the yard....I said sure. I guess she assumed that because we sort of live off our place a bit....that we of course ate the dandelions too. After eating my first batch of buttons....I'm going to rope off an area that won't be privy to the dogs for next years crop.

We took the big button....meaning the fully mature only want the really big ones say 1 1/2 inches or bigger. The others can be eaten but take more work. Pick a bowl full. Rinse them off. Dip in beaten egg. Then roll in cracker crumbs...Hi-ho kind taste the best. Then sort of deep fry in a hot skillet...they cook fast so you have to stand right over them. They taste a lot like deep fried mushrooms. We got to share with the little lady next door our dipping sauce....we dipped them in Ranch dressing. She promptly went out the next day and bought her own bottle!



Lets try




<<The ISSUE is ...... is it going to be LEGAL to have a johnny?>>

We had to go to a zoning board meeting, show them our plans and pay a $25 fee when we built our two-seater outhouse last summer. The state has plans that you have to follow in a general way.

This outhouse is's 67 feet from the center of the road, and one of the first things you see when arriving at Peace and Carrots Farm. We scrounged the outside boards from a torn-down house. The frame is post and beam. There's a shed roof. Its got a wooden vent in the back....I never smell anything bad. A backhoe dug the original hole, then some hand work was required. Each hole is two 55 gal barrels on top of each other. The floor and seat area are made of ship-lap pine. The lids for each side are boards with a hinge and the cut out hole attached. It's easy to lift the seat and drop it back down. There are no flies. A big Plexiglas window looks out over the mountains, but it's such that no one can see in.

There's a gutter on the roof that funnels rain water into a barrel. I fill a stainless steel jug that has a button, so you can push it and wash your hands just outside the door. I put a few drops of chlorine bleach into each tank. Under the water there's a rock pile. On 2 sides there are beds of flowers. In the window hangs a crystal that makes rainbows.... a friend of mine from another homesteading list gave it to me. The outhouse is for apprentices and for folks who come here and camp in the field. Wendy from VT



The second one was far more successful, and easier to build, and cheaper :) We took 1" PVC piping about 12' long, and made a hoophouse by sticking smaller pipes into the ground then placing the PVC over them to anchor them. The net result was a hoophouse about 4' tall. We ran a long piece of PVC down the top to give more support for the plastic and to hold the hoops in place. Then we simply draped it with rolled plastic sheeting, which was good for about one season. Next time though, I will make this one stronger. We had snow that year, and it weighed the hoophouse down almost to the ground. However, even with that, and no supplemental heat source, everything did fine inside. We did not even have to water it.



Here is a company (Mormon) that has some good products. It looks like you can buy single cans at a time.

Here is a website you may find helpful:

Lastly, here's an outfit that appears to be Catholic: Call 1-888-LUV-MARY for free catalog, etc. It appears that they may specialize in dehydrated and MRE foods and other supplies.

Joseph's Storehouse

255 Franklin Dr.

Pittsburgh, PA 15241


Fax 1-724-942-6279



This site has some very interesting information on Joseph as well as the grain bins that were located in Egypt. For those who don't have access to the Web, I would be glad to provide a text version of these pages.

Rose Bowen <>



BIG DOG. also: MAKING SURE ALL YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS ARE VERY HEAVY AND SECURE SO WOULD-BE INTRUDERS CAN'T GET IN. We do have dogs: a St. Bernard, 130 pounds, a big WOOF and gentle as a lamb but people are afraid of big dogs; we have a 10 lb Jack Russell Terrier who thinks he weighs 130 lbs., and is rather aggressive and protective. I'd recommend a dog for an alarm ..maybe for warmth in the winter when it maybe so cold as described as "a three dog night. Another idea is Guinea Hens. They are natural "sirens" (they give LOUD warnings when someone enters the property), self sufficient, and eat LOTS of bugs! (That's important here in Texas!) :-)

Guinea Hens are also good for eating ticks (which I just learned by visiting the Countryside magazine side someone referenced earlier:

Also, peacocks have traditionally been kept by farmers for the same reasons: they are easily disturbed and make loud noises.

One possibility for passive defense is to plant prickly/thorny bushes (hollies, etc.) underneath your windows. Someone might still get in, but they would have to make a lot of noise getting through the bush.

Another idea is little booby traps designed to discourage intruders, ones that cause them enough pain so that they decide to flee. Planned escape routes for the family should someone be trying to break in. Places to hide inside the house if escape is not an option.

I ask myself what kind of an intruder/intruders might be expected, most likely? Hungry people looking for food? Small time looters? Gangs? I really don't know. Probably all of the above. The problem is that when someone is trying to break into your home, they do not let you know beforehand whether they are dangerous or not. Not knowing, you are forced to assume the worst.

I just thought I might comment that guns might be necessary for protection against other than humans. We live in a semi-rural retirement area, and there have upon occasion been several packs of large dogs which have been near our house. If things get really difficult, and folks cannot continue to feed their pets and/or inoculate them, we'll need protection against attack by hungry or rabid animals. Our kitties killed 31 snakes for us last summer as well as moles and other pests. If we had larger numbers of poisonous snakes, we'd rely on something other than our cats, especially if the snake is large and threatening. We also have deer, possum, raccoon, coyote, and bobcat right in the immediate area of our house, so we might need protection whether a collapse happens or not.

There are home security consultants who suggest having one room in a house as a "strong-room", with (e.g.) extra strong walls, doors and locks where people could escape to in order to delay a confrontation with an intruder (delay while. . . e.g. police are called by telephone or radio, or family can escape through window or other exit). Some people who have valuables to hide purposely leave some of their stuff where it can be easily found, hoping that (e.g.) a burglar would grab whatever was easy and run, thus leaving the better-hidden stuff alone. Such "decoy and distract" can have a lot of utility if we are worried about breakdowns of law and order.)


I think you're very right about a dog. Man's best friend and protector. But dogs can be defeated by criminals in ways you never imagined. Home security is important and can be achieved in simple ways. I have placed hasp locks on the inside of my basement doors and drilled holes into the garage door roller tracks. These can later be fitted with pad locks which will force an intruder to have to break out the entire window section of the upper half of the entrance door causing a lot of noise. He would then have to pry or hack the lock off to exit the door, which takes time, or take only those items he can readily carry through the narrow window opening. As for other weapons besides guns, I wouldn't suggest things like stun guns or certain weapons which project electrical or mechanical elements. They usually turn out to be expensive and as difficult if not more, to learn how to use them and in some cases can provoke an intruder into an escalation of force if he gets enraged.

With young boys in the family my sense tells me that a very high level of training and instruction would be a must. And at that age the temptation to handle the weapons or show them to their friends is at a peak. Education, Training and Awareness are essential. If you're not willing to do all that is necessary then it would be safer to abandon the though of gun ownership. I'm not sure it would be safe or effective to install benign booby traps. It's illegal to install harmful ones. It all looks great in the movies because the burglar always get caught. But in real life, us or our family members or friendly visitors would probably be the ones to fall into them.



Subject: Thoughts about the Water Service Letter

From: "Robert Waldrop" <>

Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 04:09:43 -0500

Here's my preliminary thoughts about the letter from the KC Water Services


1. As of March, they hadn't finished their assessment of the problem (i.e. the article in the KC Star).

2. As of now, they probably haven't finished their assessment either; if they had, they would have mentioned this in the letter (I'm guessing).

3. But, and this makes me feel a lot better, apparently the manual controls remain in place for at least the water side of things.

4. There was no direct mention of the sewer side.

5. They also didn't directly give me the assurance I had asked for that water would be available and the sewer would work in January 2000. Instead, they said they were "taking every precaution to assure our customers of continued, uninterrupted service." Close, but not quite the same cigar as what I had asked for.

Still, on balance, I am encouraged by this response from the City Water Department, especially in regard to the manual controls. I've heard, for example, at government sites that the railroads have removed all their manual switching gear in favor of their computers. Just on General Principles, I think removing such manual controls for a vital public service is foolish and imprudent, and I think there is some merit to a legal requirement that such essential infrastructure systems as roads, sewers, and water companies maintain their manual controls, even if they are using computer controls as a general business practice.

My questions when I speak personally with these people will include:

1. How far along are they in their "three stage process"?

2. I want to confirm the manual controls for the water department.

3. Ask about the sewer system, manual controls, and etc.

4. What effects will vendor non-compliance have on them?

5. Contingency plans for vendor non-compliance?

6. Regarding (4) and (5), do they have an independent power source?

If anyone thinks of other interesting and useful questions, please let me know.

God bless, and Semper Fi!

Robert Waldrop



I just got off the phone with the state dept. of utilities and it was very bad news.

After trying to get a solid answer from our electric company with no success. they referred me to the state office, the head man in charge. He told me outright that the problem was huge and they just looked into it this month. He told me to go get a generator and that there was no promise for power for anyone. When I asked him when he was going to let the public know, he said he wasn't because there was no promises to anyone about anything. (But go get a generator) Then he asked how much a generator would cost us and when we told him, he said that he was sorry, but if we wanted to have power we had better make plans. He went on to tell me how they were looking at what happened in Canada during the ice storm when people had no power and they lost there farms and animals. So they could have a disaster plan in force. It was a very terrible conversation, and it was so hard to believe that they planned on keeping this hush . I told him what I thought and how many innocent people and farmers that had their lives on the line. He didn't know what to say, just to tell me to go get ready. And call him back in Oct for a progress report. Diane




And if any of you would like to buy a carriage new or have one custom-made for you, then please see our "Alternative Transportation Internet Sites" page at:



There is an article about poison oak and poison ivy in the latest issue of Countryside Magazine, Vol. 82, No. 4, July/August, 1998, p 87. It recommends "digging roots out with a shovel, wearing gloves," then throwing the gloves away and washing with lye soap or Fels Naptha. Then clean your tools with a solvent to break down the oil--Pine Sol or Simple Green, ammonia, paint thinner, or acetone. Remember that the oils will be on your boots, too, and your clothes. Wash immediately (Bethann). The article also says that if you repeatedly cut it down "with a mower or weedeater the roots will eventually starve and die." DON'T burn it! You will send the oils airborne in the smoke!



I have never had access to that much cheap or free hay. What I do is try to always lay newspapers(which are free) or pieces of cardboard down around the plants and then put grass clippings as I get them, on top of the paper. I put rocks or hunks of dirt on top of the papers so they don't blow away. Don't try this on a windy day! Put at least 6 or 7 layers - I usually use a thick section of newspaper. I make new beds by sheet composting, which the above is too. Just lay down papers or cardboard on top of the grass or weeds the year, before, and shovel manure, hay, grass, or what have you, on top to about 10" thick.(no firm rules here). Then the next spring, make little holes in the stuff and put your plants in with a little dirt tucked around their roots. This is my version of bio-intensive/Ruth stout/whatever else I've read A lot easier than digging, double-digging, or tilling! I have lupus and fibromyalgia too and it's amazing what we've accomplished!




you can download instructions for building a greenhouse for under $100.



Well, we are digging Mini-cellars in the flower beds. And we are storing many food items as well as water in PVC pipe with end caps, then burying them.



To make your own lye you need:

A hopper, instructions to follow.

Long wooden plank, as long as the hopper

A large bucket or pan to catch the Lye-water

Hardwood ashes


Burn hardwood ashes in our stove or firebox and save them in a dry place. When you have collected a few ashes, place them in the hopper. Apple wood is great, so is oak and walnut. Other woods work O.K., too. Allow rain to fall into the ashes or pour in rainwater you have collected into the ashes. The water will seep through the ashes, picking up naturally occurring lye as it runs through. The water will run out the bottom of the hopper and into the bucket.

Keep adding ashes and keep pouring the bucket of water BACK THROUGH the ashes every day til you have a lye-water that is strong enough that you can place a raw egg in the water and the egg will float about half way up in the liquid. The egg doesn't have to float on the top of the water, just half way up in the water.

Lye water made this way WILL burn your skin! I have had some that did not, but most always it will burn, so be careful. I'll bet you could find good instructions on how to make a hopper on the Internet, but if you can't get on the Internet, get the Foxfire books, one of them has instructions for a pretty good hopper. My favorite type of hopper is made of thin wood like plywood. You make a "V" shape with two pieces of the plywood. Doesn't matter how big or small you make it, it's up to you. Then you cover the ends with wood, nailing it tightly. Now what you have is a triangle shaped box, without a top.

Where the two pieces of plywood come together at the tip of the "triangle", you should have a very, very tiny space, where the wood didn't fit together exactly. You want this space, it's where the lye water leaks out.

***You may also want to make a cover for your hopper, If you get too much water going in, your lye water will be weak.***

Prop up the long plank of wood underneath the hopper at an angle so that the water will leak out of the hopper and onto the plank. The water will run down the plank and you catch it in a pan at the end of the plank. The water will run down the plank better if you are able to cut a few grooves into the plank, length-wise.

That's it. This is a very old, 18th century, design for a hopper. As I said, you may be able to find a newer one that you like better, but this one has never failed me and I like it better than any of the newer ones I have tried. I like it--- it's so easy to set up, and easy to find the components for it, yet it works like a dream.

Now using your lye water is another matter altogether.....You have to use the cooked method of soapmaking when you use homemade lye. You measure out your lye water and the other ingredients, and cook the mixture til it is at the correct consistency. Again, the Foxfire book does a pretty good job of explaining this. There is a web page on the net that I saw once, from Africa, that tells how to do this too.

Remember to take into consideration that the water in your lye-water must be counted as your water in your recipe.


For much greater detail about my plans for adapting my "urban homestead" to meet the looming challenges of peak oil, climate instability, and economic irrationality, see Gatewood Urban Homestead, the permaculture design for my home.

Better Times Cookbook V | Justpeace | Better Times | | Access to Energy Conservation | On Pilgrimage in Oklahoma City | Bookstore | Better Times II | Bulgar Bugle | Mutual Aid (Grassroots home and community scale disaster preparations)