Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turning Filthy Water Drinkable

If you haven't already discovered TED, I highly recommend checking it out. It is an amazing site full of 10-15 minute videos and articles where people talk about ideas they have had. The video below is one in which one man shares his idea for eliminating the problems caused when natural disasters make it hard to access drinkable water.

This is one of the most amazing things I have seen in a long time. Please take the ten minutes to watch it.

I don't think any of us want to think about the possibilities of being without water or feeling forced to drink contaminated water. This is an amazingly simple solution to that problem. I am going to look into buying some of these bottles for our family. When I figure out where to buy them I will be sure to share. If you know where to find these bottles or other filtering water bottles please leave us a note in the comments and let us know.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Herbs for Health and Happiness

Today (March 24, 2009) only, you can download a free PDF eBook titled "Herbs for Health and Happiness" at Homeschool Freebie of the Day. If you are interested in learning a little more about herb lore or how to grow and use herbs this would be a great resource for you, especially since you can get it for free.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Preparing for Medical Emergencies

In our quest to become as self reliant as we can, our family has started to look into the use of natural remedies instead of drugs to provide relief for common ailments like colds, allergies, and fevers. During one of the last trips to our local book store I found a copy of Better Health through Natural Healing: How to Get Well Without Drugs or Surgery in the sale bin. I figured that for just a few dollars it was worth checking out, and I am so glad I picked it up. It has been a great source of information and I especially appreciate how the authors wrote the book to be as practical for home use as they possibly could while still acknowledging that nothing can fully replace the knowledge and expertise of a trained physician.

While living a more natural and healthy lifestyle is a great reason to switch to more natural healing, that was not my main goal when I picked up this book. You see, a few years back I was confronted with a situation where I wished I had a little bit of basic knowledge about natural healing. I had an infection in my lip and knew that if I went to the doctor they would tell me that I had an infection and perscribe an antibiotic that I wasn't sure I wanted to take. Add in the expense of the doctor's visit and perscription without any medical insurance, and seeing a doctor wasn't really an option at that exact moment. Fortunately, I was able to speak with an acquaintance of ours who uses natural healing methods with their own family. They gave me a treatment plan for my lip and even checked on me a few times to see how it was going. The infection went away a lot quicker than it would have on antibiotics and I was a lot more comfortable. Since then, we have used what we learned at that point to help prevent infections in minor cuts and scrapes and even treat a few infections on our daughter who has really sensitive skin.

I am now confident enough in my abilities to treat minor infection that should an emergency come up I would have no problem doing exactly that, and I even have the tools I need on hand. But what if there were some other medical emergency? Would I know how to respond? Would I have the tools I needed on hand? Would I be confident enough in my abilities to just act without having to think about it or look something up to be sure I remembered right? While the book can't automatically give me the confidence, it will give me the knowledge and at least a list of tools I need to help with the day to day ailments we may come across. The more practice I get with the day to day, and the more I see first hand how our bodies react to the various natural healing methods, the more confidence I can build in my abilities. That's why I decided this book was a good investment for our family.

Whether you prefer natural healing options or a more traditional method doesn't matter. What does matter is that you have the knowledge, tools, and confidence through practice to be able to perform whatever emergency treatment may become necessary.

What resources have you found helpful in preparing yourself and your family for medical emergencies?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

An emergency preparedness plan is simply a plan of what your family will do if you are confronted by a certain kind of emergency. I remember being taught in school that if there is ever an emergency you should call 9-1-1. But what do you do if you are confronted with an emergency that 9-1-1 can't handle or if you don't have access to a telephone?

Before you set up an emergency preparedness plan for your family it is a good idea to know what kind of emergency you are planning for. There are 4 basic kinds of emergencies that our family is working on being better prepared for.
  1. Medical Emergencies - This includes everything from little stomach bugs to major injuries. Do you know how you would handle a broken bone if you could not immediately access professional help? What if one of your children became sick while you were out camping? Would you be prepared to help them?
  2. Financial Emergencies - We are a one-income family. At times just getting by day to day can be pretty stressful. I often wonder how long we would be able to support ourselves if we lost that one income. What would you do if you lost part or all of your income tomorrow? Would you be able to continue to take care of your family until you found a new source of income?
  3. Weather Emergencies - The biggest weather concerns for our family are tornadoes and ice storms. Where you live it might be extreme temperatures, earthquakes, or floods. Would you be prepared to live without power and possibly without access to the outside world for a time if one of these natural disasters struck near your home?
  4. Other Widespread Emergencies - Because we associate with people who tend to look at the world through a "glass is empty" point of view we regularly hear about end of the world scenarios that include war, calamity, and major changes to our way of life. I sometimes call these people "worst-case-scenario thinkers" because they always take a small event and figure out what the worst possible outcome might be and try to convince people that's exactly what will happen. Like weather emergencies, these other widespread emergencies are likely to impact day to day life and our access to services that we tend to take advantage of. How would your family react if you were forced into a quarantine or an evacuation? Would you be able to survive if power and water for miles around was shut off?
There are some basic preparedness things you can do to help you through any of these situations in addition to specific things you can do for each type of emergency. In coming posts we will be covering ideas for how to prepare for each of these emergencies. If you have not already subscribed to our feed, be sure to use one of the subscribe links on the right hand side so that you will be notified when we have posted more information for you. Also, leave us your comments about what kinds of emergencies you are preparing for so that we can be sure to include ideas for you in future posts.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Seeds For Your Garden

While people have been talking about heirloom seeds for a long time, they have yet to come to a consensus on exactly what constitutes an heirloom seed and what does not. What they do agree on is that an heirloom vegetable is an old, open-pollinated cultivar. They also have a reputation for being high quality and easy to grow.

There are a few advantages to choosing heirloom seeds over your typical mega-mart variety.
  1. Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated. In a nutshell, this means that if I properly harvest, store, and replant the seeds the following year I will get the same variety of plant I got this year. Some care does need to be taken that no cross-pollination between similar plants occurs, and that any off-type seedlings are removed to preserve the true to type plants, but the amount of money saved by not needing to buy seeds every year more than makes up for that.
  2. Vegetables grown from heirloom seeds often taste better, look better, and are easier to grow. There are of course exceptions, and you should probably contact a local Master Gardeners group or city/county agricultural group about any common plant problems specific to your area. They may also be able to give you a better idea of what varieties will or will not grow for you.
  3. Growing heirloom plants can be more interesting. While your typical mega-mart varieties are pretty predictable in growing patterns, heirloom varieties may grow a little differently, germinating a little slower or more erratically. They may even pop up after you have given up on them, or do strange things while they are growing. Perhaps the best advice when growing heirloom vegetables is to just wait and see what happens, enjoying the process along the way.
If you are interested in trying heirloom seeds in your garden I recommend Survivalist Seeds. They offer a kit that includes 6000 heirloom seeds in 20 different varieties. If you're interested in making a profit off of your garden, they also include a DVD with instructions on how to sell your vegetables to local restaurants or at farmer's markets. They even buy back saved seeds. Whether you garden just for yourself or if you want to try to make a profit off your garden, you're getting everything you need to get started.

If you're looking for additional varieties you can also buy seeds from Garden in a Can. Their #10 can comes with 16 different varieties of seeds and is designed with long-term storage in mind. If you plant all the seeds at once, you would have a garden about 1/2 an acre in size. Or, plant just what you need, and with proper storage save the seeds for up to 10 years.

If you prefer to shop locally, ask around at farmer's markets or garden shops to make sure you find a reputable seller who deals with seeds that are not hybrids and have not been genetically modified. If you have a favorite local resource or any other sources for heirloom seeds, please share those in the comments section.

Have you gardened with heirloom seeds in the past? Our one attempt at heirloom tomatoes was spoiled when the planter was knocked off the porch in a wind storm and none of the little seedlings survived. We're looking forward to getting more seeds and trying again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Freedom Gardens

Have you met Tiffany? She writes Nature Moms Blog. While her main focus is on more natural living, there are ideas that she shares that are very in line with the goals my husband and I have to become more self reliant. Her post about starting a freedom garden that I read this afternoon is one of those posts.

She started out by quoting Jules Dervaes of Path to Freedom who said:

Growing food is one of the most dangerous occupations on this earth because you are in danger of becoming free.
As Tiffany points out, when we choose to grow our own food we are not allowing ourselves to become slaves to food companies, grocery stores, or a government that does an inadequate job of protecting the food that they have promised to protect for us.

Please go read Tiffany's article "Are You in Danger of Becoming Free?" to find out more reasons about why starting your own garden is a good idea and get some ideas for ways you can garden if you don't have a yard to garden in. She also shares her plans for chronicling her own freedom garden this year and encourages anyone else who does even a small bit of gardening this year to join in.

Because we are planning a move for the coming months I don't know how much gardening we will do, but I am definitely looking forward to watching for updates from her and her other readers so that I can get lots of ideas for when I am ready to start my own garden.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Biological Security

I don't think there are any of us who like to think about the potential impact of biological weapons, but the fact remains that there are terrorist groups out there who are working on different strains of bio-weapons and it may only be a matter of time before we are attacked. If attacks like these happen there are likely to be strictly enforced quarantines that will last several months in the areas where these attacks take place. In the worst case scenario utilities will start to break down. Things like power generation and water distribution require daily maintenance and quarantines are likely to impact that maintenance and they will start to fail or be shut down.

If you are prepared for the worst case scenario, then you will have no need to fear or worry about how you will continue to live without power or water. We will cover ways to prepare for living without power, water, or other utilities in other posts. Make sure you subscribe to our RSS feed (link to the right) so you don't miss them. For now, here are some things that you can do to prepare for a biological attack:

1. Keep a gas mask handy at home, at work (especially in high-rise office buildings where the mask can help you escape in smoky or dusty conditions), and in the trunk of your car. A gas mask by your bedside is your best option in a fire for escape and rescue of your family. (See item #5 for more information on gas masks.)

2. If you fear you have been exposed to biological agents (anthrax, plague, tularemia, brucellosis, q fever, smallpox, viral encephalitic, or hemorrhagic fever) do the following during the one to six day incubation period before symptoms arise.

NOTE: This is based on a list of suggestions I received for situations in which you cannot or do not wish to recur to conventional antibiotic treatment, or when such treatment is not available. Copy and implement these suggestions at your own risk. I make no medical claims or guarantees of effectiveness. Your success against these agents will vary according to exposure, the prior state of your immune system, and many other factors.

Do NOT begin antibiotic treatment until symptoms appear. Early or excessive use of antibiotics will destroy the natural bacterial flora in your intestinal tract and render your immune system less effective.

a. Stop eating your normal cooked food diet.
b. Begin a very light diet (almost light fasting) of raw fruits and vegetables and juices (no commercial products with artificial or natural sweeteners).
c. Drink a lot of water, but do not drink water from public water supplies; avoid chlorine or fluoride. (It is recommended that you install or have available a water purifying system in your home before a major biological attack occurs. Once it does, there will be a run on equipment. Make sure you are subscribed to our RSS Feed so you don't miss future posts on the various water purification methods.)
d. Take the following natural and herbal anti-bacterial and anti-viral capsules:
-Natural Vitamin C with bioflavonoids: 1000 mg every two hours, along with natural juice or fruit. (If diarrhea develops, cut dose in half. If symptoms of aches or fever begin, take hourly.)
-Raw garlic (crush into tomato juice): one small clove every six hours.
-Colloidal silver solution: one dropper full every six hours.
-Echinacea: one capsule three times a day.
-Goldenseal: one capsule three times a day.
-Olive leaf extract: one capsule three times a day.
-Grape seed extract (or other high-potency anti-oxidant): one capsule six times a day.
e. Use melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) as a salve for all lesions, open wounds, or sores.

There are other natural preparations that are effective, including some new detox homeopathic preparations. You can check with the Herbal Healing Academy (click here to visit their website or call 870-269-4177). This academy has excellent prices, information, and products. You may also have access to a local naturopath or herbalist that can make recommendations.

3. If you begin to have symptoms, begin antibiotic treatment immediately, under the care of a physician, if available. Chances are high that despite government assurances, there will not be enough antibiotics to go around in a major biological attack, so it is important to live healthily and stockpile natural alternatives. Learn to live with alternative remedies before your life depends on them since it takes some skill and sensitivity to learn to recognize your own body's feedback signals giving you hints about what it needs. Remember, too, that natural solutions only work well when your body is NOT loaded down with food, especially junk food or cooked food, which have no live enzymes.

4. Leave any area where infection is growing. Find temporary housing in rural areas. It is best to make arrangements with friends and relatives beforehand. This is important to avoid continual exposure even to low levels of contaminants. Wear you gas mask in the car when leaving town. Don't worry about looking silly - it may save your life.

5. If you can't leave the area, close all windows and doors in your home and stay indoors. Wear a gas mask as long as you can do so without undue stress. You must remove it to eat and drink, unless it has a built in water straw.

What to avoid when purchasing a gas mask:
If you have already purchased one of these items (or this is all you can find), go ahead and use the item. But don't pay more than $20 or $30 for the mask or filter.
-Old US M17 series masks with cheek filters. These are hard to replace and tedious to change.
-All Russian, East German surplus masks. The quality is poor for these masks.
-Old, outdated filter cartridges. These filters are still useful, but won't offer close to 100% assured protection, nor do they filter effectively for more than a few hours.
-M9 gas masks with the 60-mm size cartridge. The filters for these masks are oddly sized and are not compatible with the NATO standard.

As always, this is not an all inclusive list. If you have suggestions you would like to add or additional resources for supplies mentioned that you would like to include please add those to the comment section. If any of your recommended resources are available only in certain areas, please remember to mention what those areas are.