Making Your Own Tomato Powder

Hi again from Emma. I’ve been busy as heck because summer is coming to a close (Please say it isn’t so!) and I’m trying to pack in as much outside time as I can before our Midwest winter hits. One of the things I’ve been doing is making tomato powder from the skins I remove before canning my tomatoes.

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Looters & FEMA & Bears, oh my!

Emma again –

Did you know that the government now has the “right” to enter your house without your permission and take all your food and stored water? That’s right! Mr. Obama signed an Executive Order giving FEMA the right to confiscate (steal) your food, water, equipment, and energy sources for “the protection and betterment of National Security.” Here’s the link if you want to read it for yourself: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-ordernational-defense-resources-preparedness  So how can you protect yourself from this hijacking of your supplies? There are several solutions to this threat.

If It Were a Snake It Would Have Bitten You!

When I was a kid my mother would send me to look for things for her in a closet or in the basement. A lot of the time I couldn’t locate the item. Mama would walk up, pull the item out from right in front of me, and say, “If it were a snake it would have bitten you.” Oddly, the more obvious a hiding spot is the less likely someone will discover it. It sounds crazy but a lot of times the best way to hide something is to hide it right under the noses of those searching. Some people put canned goods inside furniture or (yes, it’s true) in hollowed out books.

It Was In The Last Place I Looked!

When people say this I always think, “Of course it was because when you found it you stopped looking!” By storing identical items in several places you reduce the chance that searchers will find all of them.

It Was Right Under Your Feet!

You can consider an underground hiding spot. Use landscaping or even the natural terrain to hide your underground stash. You’ll want to be sure to dig in a spot and at a time when people can’t watch you create your underground compartment. If you use your landscaping to hide your stores you should make it look like nothing there is meant to be moved. Put a large landscape rock or really big pot with a plant in it over the compartment. If you use the natural terrain be sure to carefully note where the stash is buried. Don’t use obvious marks or try to just remember exactly where you’ve buried the compartment. You don’t want others figuring it out and you don’t want to forget precisely where you hid your stores. Be sure you protect anything you store underground from the weather, insects, and animals. Use watertight and airtight containers. Heavy duty plastic sheets will keep out insects and hardware cloth will keep out any critters. Immediately after burying your stores try to make that area look just like the ground around it. Make the dirt look as undisturbed as you can, add leaves, or whatever else is natural for the ground in that area.

Where’s Waldo?

Walk into a room in your house and think, “Where would I look for Waldo in this room?” Of course, in this case, Waldo is your supplies. The spots that come to mind immediately are ones to cross off your list of hiding places. You’re looking for spots that others won’t instantly consider.Think about building a wall in front of a wall. The space between becomes storage. A wall in front of a wall in the back of a closet is an excellent spot to hide your supplies. Closets can give you a lot of room to store things behind a false wall.The same can be done at the backs of kitchen cupboards. A false back to each cupboard with a hidden hinge or lock will give you a lot of storage space. Just be sure not to make the storage area so deep it becomes obvious there’s a hiding spot. But you can stack a lot of 14.5 oz. cans or boxes of soup in a reasonable space.

Did Someone Call a Plumber?

For small items like batteries, first aid items, etc. you want to hide stash tubes are a great idea. Using your home’s plumbing and HVAC equipment you can disguise your stash tubes as just part of the house. Check out the pipes in your house and figure out where you can add some that will look like part of the plumbing.

Burglar

There’s a movie from way back in 1987 (yes, Kids, there were movies way back then) about a female burglar. At one point in the movie the police are trying to break into her apartment. Her attention to detail prior to this event keeps the police at bay for a long time. And while they’re trying to get in she’s got time to make a sandwich and go to her hidden, soundproof room. If you have the resources and the space, a hidden room can be the ultimate hiding spot for your stores. You need to consider a few things. The room would have to be built in such a way as not to be obvious. It can’t throw off the dimensions of the surrounding room(s). You have to ensure that it won’t be found if the searchers tap on the outer wall. If you can’t soundproof it like in the movie you can at least use insulation and a couple of old mattresses so that a knock on the wall doesn’t produce a give-away hollow sound.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

You can disguise your stores by hiding them as “trash.” Just fill a bunch of cardboard boxes in your basement or attic with what looks like the junk a family usually collects over the years. After going through a few boxes of old clothes, greeting cards and pictures, holiday decorations, and other “junk” searchers will assume that all the boxes are equally useless.

Time is On My Side

If it takes you a long time to hide your supplies it’s also going to take someone a long time to find them. In a zombie apocalypse people are going to be in a hurry. Even the government agents aren’t going to spend days searching your home when they have many, many others to get through. Protect yourself and your family by making it too difficult and too time-consuming for them to locate your stash.

Two is One, One is None

While canning last year I dropped the little plastic utensil used to get bubbles out of the jars. I had to stop and wash it right in the middle of the job. It wasn’t a big deal but I realized that having a back-up set of canning tools would save me time. This also applies to your stores. If at all possible, have two or three stores of identical items. Store food, water, energy sources, medical/dental items, and everything else you have prepped in each location. I realize this may be cost prohibitive but try to have redundant supplies. If one stash is located you’ll have one or two others to fall back on. Don’t hide only one kind of thing in one spot. If searchers locate only batteries or first aid supplies in one hiding place they’re going to know you have other items hidden elsewhere and they’ll keep looking. And never tell neighbors, friends or kids where you’ve hidden your supplies. People will turn on each other in a crisis and children aren’t usually good at keeping secrets. If someone does come to try to steal your supplies it’s best to have only one person talk to them (if talking is even an option). Government agents are trained to use your voice, body language, and other clues against you. The fewer people giving them these clues, the better.

Nothin’ Up My Sleeve

Magicians use diversion to do their tricks. You can use diversion to trick those people trying to grab your supplies. Keep a small supply of items that you can “unwillingly” give up to them. Don’t just show them. That’s a give-away that there’s more to be found. But by providing “clues” you can direct their attention away from the real stash and onto the one you want them to have. By “trying not to look” at a certain thing you’ll be sure to draw their attention to it. For example, stash some canned food and bottled water under a bed and then try to draw them away from the bed. That will pique their interest in the bed. Don’t over act. Sweat it as though that’s really your stash. If they think they’ve broken you into revealing your stash they’ll stop looking. Remember the places you crossed off your list because they were too easy to find? Use those for your decoy stash. You can use hiding places like a vent that you intentionally leave a screw hanging from or hide canned goods and water behind books on a shelf. You can even just leave your panty full so that it looks as if you’re not hiding anything. Be sure that losing the diversionary supplies doesn’t really hurt. This means have plenty of identical supplies well hidden. When your “stash” is taken act distressed. If losing your food and water doesn’t seem to bother you it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you’ve got more. Be careful not to give away your redundant supplies by talking too much or with body language. Be a little nervous. That’s perfectly normal when people are confiscating the food and water meant for your family.

Live to Fight Another Day

Above all, remember that giving up your supplies is preferable to being shot by looters or dragged away by government agents. Even if you don’t have redundant supplies stashed elsewhere your life is still your most important asset. Hopefully you’ve spent time learning survival skills that will allow you to keep your family going. As I wrote in an earlier post the survivor’s attitude is the most important thing to develop. Be prepared to give up some of your supplies to protect others but also be prepared to give it all up to protect your family.

Preparing for TEOTWAWKI Part 3 – Food Storage & More

We can only predict some disasters and only shortly before they occur. There may a few days warning for a hurricane or a few minutes for a tornado but some things hit us when we least expect it. I wouldn’t want to wait until I felt the first shocks of an earthquake to start getting ready.

Common sense dictates that we prepare as much as possible as soon as possible. Authorities tell us to have a two week supply of food in our homes. But this doesn’t work if the food chain is disrupted for longer than that or if people who have not prepared show up looking for help. Everyone should have a minimum of three months’ worth of food stored.  This means at least 2, preferably 3 meals per person per day.

Storing enough food for the family is something that our great-grandparents did without thinking about it. It was just common sense. Since those days we’ve become accustomed to making weekly, sometimes daily, trips to the grocery store. This is not a very prudent thing to do. It wastes time, gas, and money since we’re likely to buy impulse items every time we enter the store. It also assumes there will never be an emergency that prevents us from getting to the grocery store or the grocery store getting food supplies.

I used to work in the automotive industry and our deliveries both from suppliers and to our customers was on a JIT system. JIT stands for “Just in Time.” That means that we weren’t keeping a large supply of extra parts in our warehouse that we didn’t yet need nor were our customers buying our products before they needed them. Our nation’s food supply works on this system as well. It’s a continual dance of products being delivered to the stores and customers buying those products. You probably have even noticed that sometimes the store is out of certain items. In those cases JIT was “not quite on time.” But imagine if the stores weren’t going to get any more products. Whatever was currently in stock were the only items available for weeks or months. Everyone in your area would need the same things but the supply would be very small and gone within hours. You cannot depend on our Just In Time system.

There are so many things that could disrupt the food distribution system. Weather related emergencies like hurricanes or tornadoes, epidemics, terrorist attacks, trucker strikes, riots, martial law, and the list goes on and on. Our food distribution system is usually highly efficient and cost-effective but it’s fragile.

Step 1 – Extend Your Pantry

Take a look at what you currently have in your pantry. These are the things you and your family are familiar with and will willingly eat. Your first step is to simply buy more of the things your keep normally keep on hand. Consider the shelf life of the items and don’t buy so much of things that they’ll go bad before you consume them. You’ll need to rotate your food so that the oldest is used first. FIFO (first-in, first-out) is the rule with food storage. My rule is that I replace everything I use with at least 1 identical item and with 2 if the shelf life warrants it. I also buy extra things like beans, rice, raw honey, and molasses and then repackage them for longer term storage. I freeze nuts and other items that would normally have a fairly short shelf life.

Step 2 – Long-Term Storage 

You can purchase food supplies from many companies that claim a shelf life of 20+ years. This makes it very easy as the food from these companies can be purchased as individual items or in packages for anywhere from 3 day supplies to 1 year supplies. These can be the right choice if you can afford them and you prefer not to spend a lot of time thinking about your food supply and planning/packaging, and storing them.

I tend to purchase some items at the grocery store where I get a better price and then repackage them for long term storage. I use Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and buckets but I also use 2 liter bottles and gallon bottles that I wash carefully. I’m careful to use only plastic that is marked PETE and I throw in an oxygen absorber, and keep them out of the light.

I also purchase items that will make our food storage a lot more palatable. Powdered butter, milk, and ever items like powdered sour cream and powdered cream cheese will make adjusting to a new reality a lot easier. I use Thrive Life for my long term storage purchases. Clicking the bold text “Thrive Life” will take you to our Thrive Life party. On that page just click the “Request an Invite” line. This does benefit us but it also can be a huge help to you in preparing your long term food storage.

The most important thing about food storage is doing it! You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can develop a good supply of both short and long term food if you just take the first steps. In later posts I’ll go into detail about what things you definitely should store and how to store food. I’ll also post ways to cook your stored food if conventional methods like your stove and microwave are no longer available to use.