DIY disaster relief

I noticed this headline the other day. It reinforced in my mind the need for citizens to be proactive and take charge of their own emergency preparations. Gone are the days when “they” will come to rescue you from the flood, earthquake, hurricane, or other significant disaster.

Locally we’ve just started a new focus on these efforts, building off the good work done by some professionals several years ago. We’ve put together a wide-reaching consortium of both professionals plus citizens to cover many different topics that an emergency – long or short – could affect.

From non-cellular communication to non-gasoline powered transportation, we’re seeing significant interest and buy-in from individuals and existing groups. It’s exciting to see.

Keep Calm & Carry On

I have British friends who use this old catchphrase often and many times tongue-in-cheek. Which made me smile all the more when I saw the nearby graphic while reading one of my favorite blogs, Little Homestead in the City.

As we are ramping up our local efforts to build resilient neighborhoods on our island, it’s a good reminder to read about the history of victory gardens and related sustainability projects that our grandparents were quite familiar with, and that are becoming new again.

In her post Anais asks her readers their preparedness levels in these areas (at least one of which you’ll see we’ve not listed in our categories to the right – oops): Food, Water, Fuel Energy, Sanitation, Alternative Currency, Transportation, Communications, Medical & First Aid, Survival, Security.

I’ll prepare a future post regarding our sanitation plans in low or no power scenarios.

Drinking on a hot summer day

What do you drink on a hot summer day?

I’m mostly pounding yerba mate in the mornings and water the rest of the day, but I recently found a tangy recipe in The Scythe Book by David Tresemer for an old-time farm hand drink called switchel.

It’s a good pick-me-up in the early afternoon.


  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 quart water (I added a bit more water than recommended for taste.)

Make your own medicine

This winter we’ve been experimenting with creating our own herbal tinctures. We’ve used tinctures for years for both preventative purposes and to get better faster if we do get sick.

When doing research on the company behind an enjoyable family game called Wildcraft! that we recently purchased, we saw the same company (a single family, really) produced an herbal remedy creation kit. Our eight year old was immediately drawn to it, as he had been reading about harvesting herbs from the forest at school and successfully identifying them in our backyard and nearby forest. We’re glad we ordered it.

The kit has several projects included, all of them a great way to invest a few cold winter evenings with your family to produce some very useful products to keep you healthy and strong.

Avoiding the hospital for only $3

A couple of weeks ago I was pounding in metal t-posts the other day to hold up some bamboo I transplanted from a neighbor. We’re going to grow our own timber poles for future food production projects with it (e.g. fencing, pea trellis, etc).

I was using a two-handed post driver on a very steep slope and somehow managed to glance the tool off the top of the t-post. I proceeded to then slam the post driver at full speed on top of my head, knocking me backwards two feet. I sat down saying, “Doggone, that’s going to leave a mark” and put my hand to my head, expecting to feel a big bump or two. Instead, I pulled back a hand + forearm full of blood, with more pouring down my face a second later. Uh oh.

I knew head wounds bleed a lot, but I’ve never had one myself. Keeping firm pressure on the crown of my head, I stumbled up the hill to the garage, called for my wife, and ripped open a packet of Celox from one of our go bags. By the time we got to the local Urgent Care facility 15 minutes later, the would was completely sealed by the Celox powder. The doctor pulled (hard) multiple times but could not get the cut to reopen. He commented that he saw the same performance from this type of powder during his 2006-07 military tour overseas. He said it saved me from 5-7 staples in my head and a much longer ($) trip to the nearby hospital.

At $30 for a 10 pack, we keep several in each vehicle and near our first aid kits. Well worth $3!

Four Hour Body for backyard growers

Tim Ferriss has a new book out titled Four Hour Body in which he turns the same uber-productivity focus from his first book (recommended previously) inwards to the human body. Given the number of personal and professional work projects I’ve got going on, I value his OCD tendencies and his clear details about how to keep our bodies healthy and strong in the most time efficient manner possible.

If you spend any amount of time on micro-farming or micro-ranching chores, you understand the need to keep yourself healthy and strong. If you are sick, the chores don’t get done and the food production cycle can get seriously out of whack. And yet, if you are doing this type of backyard farming and modern day homesteading, you are likely always running up against the time pressures of balancing that with your normal day job. So the challenge is how to stay in great shape (so you can do the food production chores you love) with the minimum amount of time (away from your family, away your day job, and away from those same chores).

Highly recommended read for anyone interested in getting/staying strong, losing those unneeded pounds, or taking your current multi-hour workout schedule down to under an hour per week.

US military prepares for economic collapse

I’m glad I live in a country where our military folks have the resources to learn via roleplaying and what-if scenarios. It’s a useful way to learn and explore all the aspects of a given topic. But it also makes me nervous-as-all-get-out when I read this:

The Army has launched an operation called “Unified Quest 2011” in which it studies the “implications of ‘large scale economic breakdown’ inside the United States that would force the Army to keep ‘domestic order amid civil unrest.'”
The 2011 Unified Quest lends truth to assertions that the United States is indeed not witnessing an upward economic recovery, as so many in our federal government have asserted. Soldiers are being trained in evacuation and detainment as a response to rioting, revealing the possibility that the United States military may resort to martial law in order to maintain order.
Unified Quest 2011 also prepares soldiers to act as diplomats in the event that there is a limited availability of diplomats at combat outposts, or on the streets contending with hungry and angry Americans.

Ugh. You can read this either positively or negatively. I’m frankly not sure which is closer to the truth of reality.