When it comes to surviving a prolonged wilderness related disaster, one of your primary concerns is going to be finding or building a shelter. That’s why whenever I am doing any type of backcountry adventuring, I always carry some sort of shelter equipment as part of my gear bag. Should something go wrong, having the ability to quickly set up a shelter can mean the difference between life and death!
What Type of Shelter Should You Carry; Tarp or Tent?
When I first started out, I would often carry a small tent system in my bag; but most of what’s out there is big, bulky, and doesn’t allow you to get the most out of your shelter. I wanted to be able to quickly deploy a shelter, and I wanted to be able to maximize its effectiveness depending on my unique environment or situation. A tent just wasn’t going to cut it.
I like to can tomatoes and can tomato sauce for all year long enjoyment.
Either that, eat only them for breakfast, lunch and dinner for months. Of course, there is the ability to scare your friends and family, and alienate your neighbors. Most run the other way now when they see me coming with bags of ripe, red fruits now. True story.
For the beginner canner, to can tomatoes and can tomato sauce in a water bath is a great way to get your canning skills going. It’s easy to can tomatoes, and they have a great flavor to use in sauces, soups, and recipes later on as well. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to can tomato sauce! Tomatoes are a high acid food, and can be safely water bath canned. However, having said that, there is a few caveats. One, due to soil health and tomato seed quality changing over the years, there can be a fluctuation in the amount of acid each tomato plant and tomato can have.
So, to be safe when water bath canning them, it’s recommended that you add some acid to each jar. That doesn’t change the flavor, and can help with preservation of color and flavor as well. This recipe is for how to can whole tomatoes, as it requires less prep work to begin with and they are quite versitile.
Foraging in winter is not always easy, and it gets even harder the further north or higher in elevation that you are. The super cold temperatures, low light, and heavy snow cover in these areas can really make it difficult for anything to persist and survive through winter. There are a few wild plants that are usually reliable, even in the harshest conditions. If you are in a more moderate or a warmer zone, your options are expanded, sometimes by a lot! Here I will go over more than 30 edible and medicinal trees, nuts, berries, leaves, roots, lichens, mushrooms, and seaweed to forage in winter.
One thing to think about, especially if you are in the harshest weather zones, is to leave most of what you may find for the wildlife. They are likely going to need it more than you will! That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a cup of pine needle or birch bark tea from time to time, but it’s good to be aware of the cycle of life and how we play a part in it.
Trees and their needles, cones, branches, bark, and sap are the classic winter foraging food. They are available to practically everyone and in almost any climate.
When I think about medical issues out on the homestead or any other off-grid lifestyle, my thoughts naturally drift toward a well-stocked first-aid kit and maybe a pair of crutches. I am immensely careless where and how I am walking and am prone to deeply entertaining — yet humiliating — falls.
But enough about me.
What is often overlooked are the minor (and not so minor) discomforts of daily life. Things like sore backs, pounding headaches, cramps and rashes. And let’s be honest with ourselves for just a bit; life on the homestead is not always a walk in the park.
Burns, sprains and poison ivy in less-than-ideal places are all things we face. If we are preparing for long-term sustainability or have made the off-grid choice a permanent lifestyle, it is wise to consider how we will handle all manner of medical care.
After all, the local pharmacy may be hours of travel away.
As green builders, we spent a lot of time looking at alternative methods of waste disposal including greywater systems and composting toilets. Unless you are truly out of the bounds of any type of code enforcement and/or don’t care about being a good steward and neighbor, you will likely encounter issues with your waste water management plans.
It isn’t pretty, but it’s important. Here’s what you need to know.
We installed a septic system for our off-grid wastewater management and will go into full detail of our install in this post. To understand how we settled on a septic system, what other options are out there, and how these systems work, it is important to go over some basic terms and concepts first:
Basic Terminology and Off Grid Water Options
What are “greywater” and “blackwater”?
Greywater – used water from washing machines, sinks, tubs, showers, etc.
Blackwater – used water from toilets or other water containing human waste
Note: There is a completely valid argument to be made about tub and shower water not being true greywater since it is likely to contain skin cells, microbes, and occasionally human waste (y’all with kids can’t tell me you never had a toddler poop in the tub).
Everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to starting a homestead, but if you want the best place for you and your family you need to consider these big items before you buy your land.
Different homesteading ventures require different amounts and types of land. For example, if you simply want to grow more of your own food but don’t want to raise livestock, you can include smaller parcels in your land search, perhaps even an acre or less. Other ventures like grass-fed pastured beef require much more. Here are some homesteading activities to consider:
1. Building Resources
If you want to build a house using materials from your land, you may need to look for access to sturdy hardwoods, stone, clay soils, and more depending on the type of construction you choose. Figure out what building materials you will most likely need, find properties that provide as many of them as you can, and devise ways to acquire the rest in your area. Followers of the blog know that we’re building a cordwood house, so our property search included the need for lots of softwood trees. Luckily for us, eastern red cedar is a good wood for cordwood masonry and it’s practically a weed around here so we found a property with an abundance.
There are literally hundreds of ways to earn an income from your off-grid homestead, the trick is finding a way to earn income that still allows you time to enjoy the off-grid lifestyle. What’s the point in moving to an off-grid homestead if you spend the day cooped up trying to earn a living? If you can keep your expenses low and stay out of debt, there are plenty of creative options to make a living while only working a few hours a week.
Running a full-scale farm takes time, energy and lots of investment. Even still, you’d be hard pressed to find a farmer these days that’s doing well financially. If you’re hoping to earn income from farm products, skip the big commodities. The market in most places is flooded with things like pork, milk, eggs and CSA vegetables. Even if they’re not commonly available where you live, the margins are so low that you’ll be working long hours but still barely making ends meet.
During the fall ,most of us are busy harvesting the last of our summer herbs. But we also should be planting fall herbs.
One of the best fall herbs is Angelica, which grows wild all over Europe. Angelica has many medicinal and culinary uses. The Angelica used for herbal medicines is Angelica archangelica.
Growing & Harvesting
Angelica can be grown from zones 4-9. This herb is a biennial plant that can last for several years if the flowering stems are not allowed to grow. In many locations, Angelica will naturally take 3-4 years to flower.
The best time to plant Angelica is during the fall. In northern areas, you can start planting as early as the end of August. If you live in the South or other areas that are not prone to fall freezes, it can be planted into October.
Sinus headache giving you the summertime blues? Instead of taking another aspirin or ibuprofen tablet, dig into the garden for a popular old-timer’s cure: horseradish.
Horseradish, or Cochlearia armoracia, is a bitter vegetable that has been around for hundreds of years. It’s believed to have originated somewhere in eastern Europe as a medicine, and then emerged as a popular condiment. As a sinus pressure treatment, it is highly effective for both its A and antibiotic properties. It has a high volume of sulfur, which creates its pungent, powerful taste.
Because the plant can be grown virtually anywhere (it is not impacted by the cold and can be harvested for several years after an initial planting), it’s a smart choice for frequent sinus pain sufferers. Horseradish is a perennial plant that is hardy in zones 2-9, but it can be grown as an annual in other climates where it doesn’t get cold enough for the plant to achieve winter dormancy. It is easy to grow and proliferates wildly, making it a great choice for a gardener looking for a low-maintenance plant.
So you’re thinking about raising quail on your homestead. Awesome – they are a great addition to any homestead. They are especially great for those who don’t have a lot of space for other types of poultry. I’m going give you the nitty gritty basics on raising quail.
WHY START RAISING QUAIL?
So maybe you’ve heard about quail but you aren’t convinced. Let me share my top 10 reasons to start raising quail on your homestead: