Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Self-Sufficiency

My children grew up in the country. We’ve always had chickens, bees, a worm farm, goats, and a big garden. We built our own house and so there was always something to do and something to learn. Our children learned how to work and how to not waste anything.
We worked hard to be self-sufficient and prepared.
Consequently I have a Vegetarian daughter with hippie ideas. But she still can outshoot most guys! She’s really not a hippie but does understand and strive to be self-sufficient and independent.
The following are ideas on how to be self-sufficient.
Growing your own food. Gardening/composting. A base level of knowledge regarding the hows and whys of growing food is needed to really understand how labor intensive small-scale agriculture is. Getting a good book on permaculture is a good head start on the intellectual side of things, but starting with even one indoor tomato plant can get you hooked. Eating game meat you shot with potatoes and a salad you grew is a pretty rewarding meal. Side bonus, you’ll learn how fruits and vegetables are actually supposed to taste. It’s noticeably different from what you buy at the store! This is a very serious area of dependency. Even in an apartment you can have a garden in pots. My daughter uses a small kiddie pool for their garden in a town house.
Preserving food. Canning foods is a great place to start when it comes to preserving the bounty of your harvests. I’ve eaten moose and vegetables 10 years after they were canned and they tasted great. Canning being far from the be-all-end-all though, learning the basics around smoking meats and dehydrating all manner of edibles will keep you and yours fed long down the road. Even an afternoon spent learning some food preservation techniques can give you a huge advantage if you’re ever found needing to stock up for a winter. Bonus points if you can your foods using a hot water bath on your wood stove. Preserve the harvest. Can it. Dehydrate it. Freeze it. Drypac it. Vacuum pack it.
Forage for wild foods. Research local wild plants and find out which ones are edible.
Get off the grid or just use less power. Produce your own electricity. Collect rainwater. Get a composting toilet. In some areas you can collect free firewood. Make your home as energy efficient as possible – insulate properly and seal drafts. If no one is in the room, turn off the light! Air dry clothes. Plug your electronics into a power bar and turn it off when you’re done– all those little ‘On’ lights use power. If you are super-self-sufficient you could even produce your own beeswax and make candles! No electric lights needed. There are many small ways you can be energy independent.
Reuse. A little imagination leads to greater self-sufficiency. A bicycle wheel becomes an overhead pot rack. Stacked magazines and an old belt become a chair. Bent cutlery becomes a key holder. Newspapers become seedling pots. A tennis racket becomes a jewelry hanger. Horseshoes become handles. The old school bus becomes a chicken coop. Wooden pallets become….just about anything. There’s a saying my Mother used to use all the time, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
Fix it or clean it. Learn skills. Sharpen your tools. Replace the screen on the door. Sew the hole in the pants. Apply a fresh coat of paint. Glue the sole back on the shoe. The internet and the library are abundant with DIY instructions for fixing just about everything. Thanks to Youtube I was able to fix anything.
Make your own. It only takes simple ingredients to make cleaning products (baking soda, vinegar) and personal care products (aloe vera gel, shea butter, cornstarch). Although you have to purchase raw ingredients, in the long run, they will be cheaper and last longer. My wife makes our laundry detergent.
Be frugal. Buy second-hand clothes, furniture, kitchen gadgets, hand tools, toys, housewares, and electronics. Borrow books, CDs, and movies from the library. I like to avoid malls, big box stores, chain stores, franchises, and boutiques. That way there is no temptation. I once heard an Amish woman who was taken through a mall for the first time, say, “I was fine before I came in here but seeing all this stuff makes me think I need it.” The internet has great places to get used things at a deal. E-bay, Craig’s List, Let It Go, and others are out there. Facebook has many local places to buy and sell.
Stay healthy. You can’t be self-sufficient if you are sick or injured. Stay safe – use mechanical equipment and tools safely. Eat well – avoid junk food. Stretch everyday – your joints will thank you. Brush. Floss.
Walk, bike, or ride your horse. Isn’t it time for the hitching post to come back into style? There are times that living off-grid means living far from town but if you can, use your legs instead of a car. You won’t need as much money for gas, insurance, or maintenance. When I plan it right and I’ve got the time, I can do my grocery shopping in town, pay bills, and do other errands in the same trip. You have to plan and make lists.
Go paperless. Replace paper towels with rags made from old clothes or towels. Replace toilet paper with cheap homemade toilet paper.
Install a wood stove. Even if you don’t use it as your primary heat source, keeping a functional wood stove in your home means you’ll always have the ability to keep your house warm and cook food. Having a stack of seasoned wood available and the implements to cut and split wood is key. Side bonus, good exercise cutting and stacking firewood.
Learn all you can. Every community has resources to help you to learn self-sufficiency skills. The Fire Department and Hospitals can offer medical training. Red Cross. Boy Scout Troops. Schools. Cultural centers. Garden clubs. Churches. There are endless places to learn new and important skills. Skills trump gear every time.
The theory of a self-reliant life really just asks “What am I totally reliant on other people for that I can’t do without”? It always comes down to the survival pyramid. Ask yourself what aspect of your life you could get closer to the roots in and find a way to incorporate a little of that into your daily life. I think you’ll find it’s enjoyable as well as satisfying.

Semper Paratus
Check 6
Burn

Friday, April 21, 2017

FLAG's Food Storage Journey

My journey with food storage began many years ago. While on this journey I have made some mistakes, discovered and have created many new recipes, come to understand the importance of grains and beans in a diet and have gained a great appreciation for the nutrition and health benefits that come from using them.
I started putting some food storage away before I got married and would attend classes with my Mother. At first I was just storing red wheat and white rice. As I became exposed to distributors of these products, a whole new world opened up to me. I am excited as trade has continued with other countries, some of the ancient grains have become available in our country. Besides their nutritional value, they taste great.
I guess one of the hardest parts of working with whole grains and beans was getting my husband (Burn), who grew up on meat and potatoes, to entice his taste buds into exploring new territory. This was not only a challenge for my husband but also my first 4 children. They loved the homemade bread, which is another story in itself, but they didn’t care for some of the taste and textures of the grains.
Beans were also a challenge. I grew up with my Father making bean dishes. I loved them. All my knowledge of cooking with beans came from him. He started my love of beans and my knowledge of them has grown over the years. But this too was a challenge when I was first married because my husband didn’t eat a lot of beans growing up.
I decided that my family needed to learn to eat what I stored because there was no point in storing it for emergencies if they couldn’t enjoy the blessing of it on a daily basis. If all of the sudden, I exposed them to grains and beans because there was an emergency, I would be dealing with a grumpy family. Plus I also needed to be familiar with how to cook with them, what spices I should store to enhance their flavors and what grains and beans my family preferred over other ones. (Editor’s note: I think it’s amazing that someone who did not grow up with food storage understood that you must eat what you store. I sure married well!)
This process was not an overnight success. I bombed a couple of times on making bread. Didn’t knead it enough, put too much flour in the dough. Eventually I got down the technique by hand and had a great success. It was the same with beans. I decided that twice a month on my menu I would make a bean dish. This did not go over well with my family and some of my kids went to bed hungry. My husband would eat a small bowl to set an example for the kids. But once they were in bed, he was in the kitchen grabbing what he called “real food”.
It was the same with grains but a little easier. I started to add a handful of millet, quinoa, or barley in soups and stews. If I made hamburgers or meatloaf, I would add grains into that too. Breakfast with grains were my easiest. The kids loved cream of wheat and oatmeal. I can’t say that every meal went forward without a hitch but I didn’t give up. I kept moving forward, DETERMINED!!
Now I can say that my struggling with learning, experimenting and changing my family’s taste buds has worked. My older children were my experimental team. My younger children are benefitting from their older siblings trial and error era. Beans are one of my husband’s favorite meals. Five of our older children have moved out of the house. They include grains and beans in their diet and are always calling home to get advice how to use them in meals and cook them. I have helped them to not make some of the mistakes that I have made.

I find it comforting to know that dealing with my family’s attitude as I exposed them to the world of food storage has finally paid off. My son called from college the other day. He was wanting recipes for beans, a crock pot and a rice cooker. His first few years in school he ate whatever was quick. A lot of frozen products. He is now missing real food and is working on how he can use beans and grains fast during the school year. He is using the summer to learn and experiment so that this coming school year will be more satisfying as far as eating goes. As the conversation came to a close, he said, “Mom, I understand why you bought your food storage in bulk”. He is discovering how much more expensive it is to purchase in small quantities. But the truth about ordering in bulk is that I live in a small town, hours from a big city. So I do a yearly grain order so that I can get the items cheaper and not have to leave town to purchase them.
I am hoping that my writing will help you on your journey with working with food storage. The challenges will still be there with dealing with complaints from your family. But don’t give up. I promise in the end you will be successful. This is a wonderful journey. I have been doing this for over 30 years. I still get excited as I make up a new recipe, try a new one out that I found in a magazine or on line. Most of the time when I find a recipe, I say “What can I do to make this healthy and add food storage items?” So I do a lot of tweaking with recipes to meet the needs of my food storage program.
My food storage program is used daily. It is an integral part of our life. We eat what I store always. So now if there is an emergency in our lives: financial, natural disaster, etc., if we had to live off of what we have stored, our family would not know a difference.

FLAG

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Stay In The Fight: Freeze, Fight, or Flight

Years ago I was called as a Bishop in our Ward. At the time of the calling I was in the Bishopric so I was on the stand. My wife says when they called my name I went white as a sheet. This shock to the system is called the “fight, flight, or freeze” response to a highly stressful situation. I may have been in the “freeze” state even though I actually stood up and was sustained.
How do you know you will not freeze when confronted by a threat? You don’t really. There are a wide range of possible responses and experiences during extreme high stress events. Sharper focus, visual clarity, slow-motion time, temporary paralysis, dissociation, and intrusive thoughts can all occur. When dissociation (a detachment from physical and emotional reality) occurs, it may be a red flag for the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Loss of bladder and bowel control during moments of intensity is a common occurrence that is rarely discussed.
Dave Grossman in his book “On Combat” he discusses responses that soldiers experienced in combat.
“Studies of World War II show that there were more psychiatric causalities than physical ones. Among individuals participating in combat for longer than 60 consecutive days, 98 percent of them would begin to breakdown emotionally. This can have long term effects. Evidence from the Russian-German battle of Stalingrad suggests that participants died nearly thirty years younger than same aged males who had not endured the fight.
The range in responses to high stress result from changes in the autonomic nervous system, the part of human physiology responsible for automatic response to stimulus (the sympathetic nervous system) and basic bodily maintenance (the parasympathetic nervous system). When one's "fight or flight" response is triggered, the sympathetic nervous system begins shutting down things like salivation and digestion while increasing the production of epinephrine (adrenaline). Once the action is over it is followed by a parasympathetic backlash, the body attempting to calm down. Responses to this can vary depending on how prolonged the violence or stress has lasted. Soldiers fighting for hours find themselves exhausted and falling asleep because they have burned all their adrenaline. People who have experienced only a brief violent instance may find themselves unable to sleep for some time.
Heart rate increase in response to fear is correlated with a deterioration of motor skills and senses like vision and hearing. Eventually cognitive abilities degrade to a point Grossman calls condition black (based off of work done by Bruce Siddle and Jeff Cooper). He gives conditions white, yellow, red, gray, and black, with white being unconcerned and black being overwhelmed. He believes high pressure situations call for condition yellow in which motor and cognitive skills are functioning at peak performance. Condition black is said to be when the heart rate gets above 175 beats per minute because of the influx of adrenaline from stress. At this point vasoconstriction, the tightening of the blood vessels, allows less oxygen to the brain. The mid-brain, the part we share with animals like dogs and bears, takes over. Rational thought goes out the window.
During combat situations there are a variety of perceptual distortions caused by biomechanical changes in the body. "Auditory exclusion" is when sounds like gunfire stop being heard or are muted. "Tunnel vision" is when the field of view is narrowed down, cutting out the periphery. Depending on the environment the body may focus its attention almost entirely on either audio or visual stimulus, as is the case when hearing becomes sharper in low light situations. Sensory exclusion also occurs when adrenaline masks the pain of an injury until after the stress has passed.
Other experiences can present themselves, such as loss of memory and "tactical fixation", during which a person may attempt the same thing over and over expecting a different result each time. There are also memory distortions. People who have participated in extreme high stress situations may remember events incorrectly, believing them to be more negative than they actually were. There can also be an "autopilot effect" during which a person may do things without thought. Distance and depth perception can also distort.”
How do you control these responses as you prepare for a threat response in self-defense?
Tactical breathing is a technique to control your self-regulated sympathetic (Fight, Flight, Freeze) response. Two of the autonomic nervous system that you can control is your breathing rate and blinking of the eye. Special Ops personnel have to demonstrate tactical breathing in their training by intentionally slowing their heart rate from a stress-induced high to a normal resting rate within a few minutes.
If you begin to tremble and find that although you are mentally vigilant and responsive, you are losing your fine motor control, you need to get your heat rate down. If you suffer such a close call that you are literally incapacitated by fear, you will need to bring your heart rate down so that you can get back to a safe condition. Use tactical breathing to reassert control of the overwhelming sympathetic response.
Although the actual ideal frequency and duration of the breaths require further research, Grossman teaches a 4x4x4 technique.
1. Breath in through nose for a slow 4-count.
2. Hold breath for a slow 4-count.
3. Breath out through the mouth for a slow 4-count.
4. Hold breath for a slow 4-count.
5. Repeat cycle 4 times.
Practice this technique until it becomes habit. There is a youtube video for additional explanation and a demonstration of this technique.
https://youtu.be/ShI3wuKQbA4
Having better control when the “fight, flight or freeze” response comes into play may be achieved through some preparation. Being able to control breathing and heart rate may make a big difference.
In all my research I found only breathing to try to minimize the 3 F response. I think, and this is just my thinking, mentally preparing for a fight and running through scenarios would help too. I realize that only experience can prepare you for a fight and the way you will respond, but I feel the better prepared you are, the better you can respond. You may still freeze, but after you are over that your response will be better if you have prepared.
This article is just a small idea of mental preparation for an attack or other self-defense situation. There is much to research on this but I would recommend Dave Grossman’s book “On Combat” to start.
Being able to fight is why we train. Self-defense is hinged on whether you can fight and how you are prepared to fight if the need arises.
Semper Paratus
Check 6
Burn