“The World Owes Us a Living”

I remember as a young boy waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons on TV.  It was a magical time for kids of my age where we could be swept away into an exciting and entertaining world of animation while our parents enjoyed a relaxed morning knowing the kids would be glued to the TV for a couple of hours.

The type of cartoons we watched were certainly different that what’s available 24/7 today on cable TV.  I’m honestly quite appalled at what is being fed to our kids today by way of so-called cartoons.  Sure, many of the cartoons of our day had a significant amount of violence (I still love to watch Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner although I always wondered why Wiley had the money to purchase everything imaginable from the ACME company in an effort to catch the roadrunner but yet never spent any of his money on food), but the cartoons of today are often devoid of moral principles, the law of the harvest and consequences of our choices.

I happened to come across a couple of classic cartoons from yester-year that had such great messages, I thought I’d share them with you.  The first one is titled “The Wise Little Hen”.  The lesson of the law of the harvest is taught quite clearly here.  What you sow, so shall you reap.  The government isn’t going to step in and give you what you haven’t earned.  Boy, things have really changed!

The next cartoon deals with a similar situation in “The Grasshopper and the Ants”.  The grasshopper doesn’t feel a need to prepare for the winter when food will be scarce and just dances around playing his violin singing “the world owes us a living”.  Meanwhile, the ants are hard at work preparing for difficult times ahead.

The Bible tells us that there are times when those who have chosen not to repent or prepare are left to suffer the consequences rather than be saved as the grasshopper was.  The story of Noah and his ark is one such instance.  Those who listened to the counsel of the prophet, which had been given for several hundred years, to prepare by boarding the ark were saved. Those who didn’t listen to the counsel of the living prophet and didn’t board the ark died. The lesson is very brutal and hard. There are, however a few interesting points to be presented.

Noah was a just and and obedient man in his generation and he, along with his three sons, walked with God. Noah’s daughters, who had married wicked husbands, did not heed their father’s counsel and died along with the other wicked. How hard it must have been for Noah and his wife and sons to not extend mercy to their family members, especially when it started to rain. The question might be asked, “why didn’t they open the doors of the ark and let them in, or perhaps others in”? The answer is because the Lord wouldn’t let them.

The Lord had foreseen the problem and had taken care of it by taking it out of the hands of Noah. We read that the Lord shut the door or shut Noah and his family into the ark. “And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” Genesis 7:16

I am sure that when the rain started and the floods started coming up that there were a lot of people who were suddenly very repentant and asked to be let into the ark. Could you imagine what it sounded like for those inside the ark to hear the screams, pleas and pounding of those, including children, outside of the ark? And yet the Lord in his wisdom did not give Noah the difficult choice of whether to show mercy and open the door and save them also or not. The Lord took Noah out of the decision making process on the issue. Instead we find that the Lord suffered them to receive the just consequences (death by drowning) of their non-action to heed the counsel of preparedness.

Of course the important lesson of Noah’s Ark is applied to us specifically by a prophet of God concerning following the prophets counsel regarding food storage. “The Revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.”

So the decision is ours.  The Lord will not force us to be obedient and follow the council to provide for our families both today and in future times of need.  We can choose to be like the grasshopper, thinking the Lord will provide without our needing to do anything on our part.  Or we can be like the ants that know and understand through common sense that throughout history, there have been times of war, famine, drought or economic collapse and these possibilities will continue to try the wisdom and obedience of us all.

Oil and Fats – More Valuable than Gold

On March 4, 2018, I posted a blog about a boy growing up in war-torn Germany, how he survived and what he learned.  Here is a quote from that blog:

“Hans made an interesting observation at the end of his story.  He related how there were a number of industrious individuals who were somehow able to establish access to certain food items that were made available to survivors for a price.  Paper money had no value and was not used but precious metals including jewelry, wedding rings or any form of gold or silver was used to purchase these food items.  The most valuable commodity of all was food itself and the most valuable food item was “fat” as Hans put it.  In other words, the richest individuals during that time where those who had some supply of oil, lard or some type of fat.  This was highly sought after for the energy, calories and flavor it added to the limited supply of bread or basic grains that could found.”

War-Torn Germany – How Did This Boy Survive?

If we choose to learn from the experiences of others, it would make sense to do the research and make the investment of acquiring additional oils and fats for our food storage.  This can be a tricky business since many oils have a relatively short shelf life.  I must admit, over the years I’ve thrown away over 40 gallons of oil because I didn’t rotate it or store it properly.  I’m hoping with the information in this blog I can help you better prepare through not only storing extra oil and fats in your food storage plan but preserving it for a longer shelf-life.

Oils and fats have different shelf-lives depending on the type of oil and storage conditions. Under normal storage conditions, your oil will last from a few months to three years or more. Sealed, canned shortening powder will last three to five years but does not perform the same as regular oils. You can extend these storage times with a few tricks outlined below.

What Causes Spoilage?

Oils and fats are vulnerable to the usual causes of food spoilage: microorganisms, oxidation, heat, light, pests, and time. For properly stored oils and fats, oxidation is the most common cause of rancidity, aided by time, temperature, humidity and light. How to assist in protecting your oils and fats from all of these causes will be discussed in this article.

How Long Does Oil Keep?

Unopened oils keep longer in the refrigerator or freezer.  Once opened, moisture can become a factor so keep oils and fats in the pantry after opening.  Moisture in the oil can shorten its shelf life as much or even more than the cooler temperature preserves it.  If a cool, dry place is available, such as a basement or cellar, that would be a preferred location for storing opened oils.

Shelf Life of Common Oils and Fats

Flavored oils, such as chili oil, truffle oil, and garlic oil, spoil faster than pure oils, so it is best to store oils in their natural state and flavor them as needed or store only enough flavored oil for short-term use.

Extending Shelf Life – Protecting Oils and Fats from Microorganisms and Pests

Exposure to microorganisms and pests will spoil your fats quickly, so care should be taken to protect oils from these problems. Microorganisms are not usually a problem if you store the oils in a clean environment, properly sealed or covered. Microorganism growth is faster in a warm environment and slowed or stopped by cold temperatures. If you do suspect contamination for any reason, throw it out. Oils spoiled by microorganisms may not exhibit any signs of spoilage but can cause illness.

Pests are more of a problem with oils and fats. If you see any signs of rodents, such as signs of chewing or infiltration, consider the oil or fat spoiled and use it for non-food purposes such as making candles.

To prevent problems with microorganisms and pests, store your oil in clean, dry, thick plastic buckets or metal cans. Metal is best for preventing rodents.

Protecting Oil and Fats from Oxidation, Humidity, Heat, and Light

Oxidation is caused by exposure to air and is accelerated by heat and light. Storing your oils and fats properly slows oxidation.

Preventing Oxidation:

Store oils and fats sealed, vacuum packed, or flooded with nitrogen to exclude air
Keep them in a dry, dark location
Refrigerate or freeze them unopened
Add an antioxidant when appropriate
Date and rotate your supplies

If you cannot vacuum pack your oil or flood it with nitrogen, another way to exclude air is to completely fill the bottle before sealing it. Choose a glass bottle or jar and fill it to the rim. Clean the rim and seal the jar. Check your fill by turning the bottle upside down to observe the size of the air bubble. Ideally, you want no air, but a tiny bubble may be the best you can get, depending on the bottle. Adding an antioxidant before sealing gives you additional protection.

Using an Antioxidant

Antioxidants will prolong the life of your oils by blocking the free radicals that cause oxidation. They won’t prevent oxidation completely, but they will slow it down considerably. One option is adding rosemary essential oil to your oils after opening. Other antioxidant oils include oil of oregano, sage oil, and Vitamin E.

To reduce oxidation, you only need a small amount of antioxidant oil, between .05 to 1 percent. Approximately 3 drops to 2 teaspoons of antioxidant oil per quart of oil. The larger amount is ideal and offers the best protection, but it also adds flavor to the oil. Adding 3 drops or more of rosemary oil per quart gives you a reasonable amount of antioxidant protection without noticeably affecting the flavor.

You may want to consider using antioxidant oils when transferring oils into smaller containers to increase the shelf life of the opened oil.

How to Tell if Oil is Rancid or Spoiled

Oils and fats are usually labeled with a “Best Used By” date rather than an expiration date. Stored under normal pantry conditions, your oil should last beyond this date. However, by following these recommendations, you should be able to extend this storage time considerably.

As oil ages, it changes in color, clarity, and texture. These are the beginning signs of spoilage, but the oil may still be usable. When the oil is rancid, you will notice an unpleasant taste and smell. At this point, consider it spoiled. It won’t make you sick, but it does lose its healthy properties and may become unhealthy over time. It doesn’t taste good either, so you are better off not using it. It might still be useful for purposes other than cooking or eating.

How to Store Fats to Extend the Shelf Life

The best way to store fats and oils is in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For normal storage, this means in a pantry, away from the stove or other heat sources. You can increase your storage time considerably by storing oil and fats in the refrigerator or freezer if you have the room. They will probably become cloudy and solidify, but this is normal and not a sign of spoilage. Remove them to room temperature for an hour or more before use, and they will return to their liquid state.

Storing large Quantities of Oils and Fats

To get the best prices on oils and fats, purchase them in large containers. However, when you are ready to use them, consider transferring amounts to small containers since the oil spoils faster once opened. Always rotate your oils and fats to keep from wasting your investment. Plan on re-packing the oil or fat immediately after opening.  Pack the oil or lard tightly into a canning jar and cover it with a warm, dry lid. Then I vacuum seal it to remove the air. Before vacuum sealing, you can also add an antioxidant oil as listed above to prolong the shelf-life.

There is no question adding extra oil to your food storage will require more vigilance in your rotation plans but as time has proven, it will be more than worth it when the times comes you are forced to reply on your food storage.

Watch and Be Ready

It seems like seldom does a week go by when there is not some form of natural disaster affecting the lives of countless thousands of people somewhere in the world.  It’s happening so frequently nowadays that it seems we’re getting used to such events and they don’t seem to instill the same level of emotions or fear and concern, unless you’re one of those who are directly affected.

As I viewed several videos of the Kilauea Volcano and the resulting earthquakes on the Big Island of Hawaii today, I couldn’t help but think about the awesome power of Mother Nature and her ability to change landscapes and lives within moments.  I also read articles and watched videos detailing the eruption of the Fuego Volcano in Guatemala where more than 100 lives have been lost so far and in some spots, a mixture of gasses and volcanic matter reached 1,300 degrees totally devastating everything in its path.

It’s so very sad to see people’s lives and futures destroyed in this manner and it becomes very evident just how puny and insignificant man is in trying to control the elements.  Mother Nature will do what she wants, when and where she wants regardless of our planning and desires.

My mind then shifted to the scriptures where we were warned in the last days these types of natural disasters would occur in greater frequency.  Matthew chapter 24 in the New Testament spells out quite a few signs of the times and specific occurrences we should be watching for.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The Lord goes on to tell us to be ever mindful of the signs of the times and by so doing, we might be better prepared to provide for ourselves as well as our neighbors when he states, “Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready.”

Watching so we’ll be ready certainly makes sense to me but I’ve found the Lord’s timetable isn’t necessarily the same as mine.  I must admit, watching can sometimes be wearing.  In fact, it’s easy to become impatient and just wish for things to accelerate.  I mean, if the Bible tells us things are going to get worse before they get better, let’s get it over with.  Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a train wreck in slow motion – things are definitely getting more trying but life just seems to keep going, regardless.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not promoting Armageddon to take place tomorrow.  I do indeed enjoy my current lifestyle and time with my family.  If I could wave my magic wand, I would want things to stay as they are and not continue to go downhill.  So I try and enjoy each day for what it is realizing it’s as good as it will ever be today.

So how do we balance enjoying the moment and “watching” so that we’ll be ready?  I do believe it’s a delicate balance.  There will always be those who take it to the extreme on one side or the other.  Most of us know those who insist on keeping their head in the sand and ignore all warning signs and move forward each day as if the conditions of their lives will never take a downward turn.  These are those who often scoff at the idea of food storage or preparing for difficult times ahead and tend to view those who do choose to prepare and fanatics who have gone off the deep end.

Then there are those who take prepping to the extreme.  Every moment of every day seems to be focused on preparing mentally and physically for the end of the world.  It’s difficult to interact with these folks socially because even casual conversations seem to be diverted to a discussion on some type of preparedness and the pending doom and gloom of events that will change the world as we know it.  One would think that constantly focusing on the potential negative of the world would give one major ulcers!

As I reflect on the Lord’s counsel to “Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready”, I can’t help but think of the saying, “A watched pot never boils.”  Yes, if we’re watching so intently that we never take our eye off the “preparedness ball” so to speak, things will have a tendency to drag out and we will waste our time worrying and being concerned.  Watching does not mean focusing on nothing else but preparedness, but it does mean keeping it on our to-do list.  Be prudent – put first things first in your life.  Keep your family relations, your spiritual well-being, your health and finances strong so you’ll be far better prepared in every regard to not only help and bless the lives of your loved ones but those around you as well.

So yes, the threat of war, natural disasters, economic concerns and a myriad of other potential life altering events will continue to increase in frequency and intensity and will be totally out of our control.  Our decision is to take control of those things we can influence and become better people.  We have to opportunity to become a true asset in helping and blessing the lives of others in times of need rather than a liability.  So please, continue to watch and be ready as you live your life to the fullest.

Will Your Garden Survive a Drought?

Planting a survival garden requires you to foresee and prepare for a number of possible scenarios that could kill your plants and leave you without a source of food. One of the most dreaded of these scenarios is an extended drought. Many plants are unable to survive more than a few days without water.  In a survival scenario where no rain is falling, providing water to them can be a real struggle.

While it’s important to devise a plan for watering your plants during a drought, it’s also beneficial to have plants that you can rely on to survive drought when the weather turns hot and water is scarce. The plants listed below are all able to survive without water longer than the average plant and can handle the heat quite well. If you live in a part of the country where drought is a possibility (which is most of the country), consider including these plants in your survival garden.

Eggplant
Once the plant has been established, eggplants are able to survive droughts better than most vegetables. Eggplants are a heat-loving plant and won’t begin to wilt until daytime temperatures exceed 95 degrees for an extended period of time. Eggplants will also still set fruit in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees so long as they have some moisture and nutrients.

Figs
Fig trees need ample sun in order to thrive, but they aren’t particularly picky about the soil they grow in or the high temperatures they’re exposed to. Come time to harvest, fig trees will yield a bounty of sweet, sticky fruit.

It’s recommended that you water figs every five days during the summer months in order to yield the biggest fruit, which isn’t a lot, especially considering that figs are able to survive and yield fruit with even less water. Add to that the fact that fig trees love the heat and are easy to care for, and you’ve got a plant that is well worth considering as part of your drought-preparedness strategy.

Peppers
In addition to having some heat of their own, peppers handle heat and droughts quite well. It doesn’t particularly matter what variety of pepper that you plant, as most all peppers are fairly drought-resistant. Larger peppers such as bell peppers will naturally provide more sustenance, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with mixing up your pepper plants for more variety – provided, of course, that you can handle the heat yourself!

Oriental Persimmons
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of tasting a wild persimmon that isn’t quite ripe, just the name persimmon alone might put a bitter taste in your mouth. However, the flavorful oriental persimmons have little in common with their wild-growing namesake.

Oriental persimmon trees produce tomato-sized fruit that is fairly firm and sweet. What makes oriental persimmon trees drought-resistant is the nature of the tree’s root system. Most fruit trees have roots that are shallow and branch out. Oriental persimmon trees, however, have a tap root that goes deep into the ground, allowing the tree to collect water even when all the water near the surface of the soil has dried up and other trees are struggling.

Sweet Potatoes
Most varieties of potatoes don’t do well in hot climates and instead prefer cooler soil. This is not the case with sweet potatoes, however, as they do quite well when the weather turns hot. Like any other variety of potato, sweet potatoes are full of carbs that will keep you full and energized in a survival situation, and they have a high yield relative to the amount of area they take up.

Okra
A southern classic, okra is considerably more drought-resistant than most vegetables and does well in hot, summer weather.  Okra pods can be added to soups and stews, grilled, or battered and fried. The last method is the most popular way to cook okra, as any other method leaves okra quite slimy – an off-putting texture for many. Prepared correctly, though, okra makes for a delicious dish that you will be able to enjoy when there’s not enough rain to keep other plants in your garden alive.

Pomegranate
Pomegranates have gained a lot of popularity recently among natural health enthusiasts thanks to the fruit’s powerful antioxidant properties. Hailing from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, pomegranate trees are used to the heat and are quite drought-resistant.

Getting the fruit out of a pomegranate’s fleshy outer shell requires a little bit of work. However, the sweet morsels inside are well worth the effort.

Natal Plums
Natal plum trees are among the heartiest of all fruit trees. Not only are the trees drought-resistant, they’re also able to grow in a wide range of soil conditions and climates.

With a wintertime harvest, natal plums won’t provide any food during the drought. However, they’ll be able to survive the drought and provide you with food in the winter that follows.

Carrots
Simply looking at a carrot and understanding how the plant functions will let you know why carrots are more drought-resistant than most vegetables. The part of the carrot that you eat is the plant’s root, meaning that the carrot is able to extend deep down into the soil and collect water that other plants can’t.

Black Eyed Peas
Like most plants native to the Southwest, black-eyed peas are plenty capable of surviving a drought and hot weather. The peas themselves contain very little moisture, meaning that little water is required to produce them. Combine this with a relatively deep root system and black-eyed peas are plenty capable of producing food when the weather turns hot and the rain stops falling.

Jujube
Also known as a red date or Chinese date, jujube trees are a drought-resistant fruit tree native to the Chinese mainland. Originally, jujube fruits were quite sour. Over the past few thousand years, though, growers have tweaked the species to produce a fruit that is much sweeter and more enjoyable.

Jujube trees may not be the most well-known fruit tree. However, their resistance to drought and ability to produce fruit in hot climates make them an option worth considering.

Horned Cucumber
As a general rule, most varieties of cucumber are fairly drought resistant, and the horned cucumber is even more drought resistant. This unusual cucumber is quite different from the cucumbers that most people are familiar with, as the fruit it produces is spiny, bright orange, has a jelly-like texture, and is said to taste like a cross between a lime, a cucumber, and a banana.

Beets
One of the main sources of sugar aside from sugarcane, beets handle the heat and drought quite well. The deep purple tubers grow and are harvested much like potatoes. If you don’t wish to make processed sugar, though, don’t worry; beets are quite tasty in salads, pickled, or mixed into other dishes.

Watermelon
Given the amount of water in a watermelon, it may come as a surprise that this fruit grows best in long, hot summers and well-drained soil. While watermelon will naturally need some water to produce fruit, you won’t have to worry about the high heat wilting the plant and killing off its fruit.

Malabar Spinach
Ordinary spinach plants don’t do particularly well in a drought. Malabar spinach, however, which grows on a vine and tastes similar to the spinach you’re used to, loves the heat and can survive a drought quite well. Since you’ll have a hard time getting most leafy greens to produce in a drought, Malabar spinach is definitely a green you should consider planting in order to incorporate leafy greens into your diet during a drought.

Beans
Most every variety of beans, from bush beans to pole beans and beyond, are able to handle the heat and drought incredibly well. The best part is that you’ve got a lot of options considering all the different varieties of beans that are available, meaning that planting several different types of beans in your garden will add plenty of variety to your drought-time cuisine.

Kei Apples
Kei apple trees originate from southwest Africa, which is enough alone to tell you that this fruit tree is able to handle the heat and drought. The Kei apple tree grows up to thirty feet tall and produces smallish, bright yellow apples.

Kei apple trees are also able to grow in high salinity soil. However, they do prefer the dry air of higher climates, meaning that growing them in a humid climate may prove difficult.

Squash
Squash is one of the few vegetables where the hotter the temperature is, the bigger the fruit they produce. This goes for all varieties of squash, both summer squash and winter squash alike.

This fact enables you to plant vegetables with both a summertime and a winter harvest and ensure that they will be able to survive any dry, hot weather that comes along.

What’s Your Level of Preparedness?

I was talking with a friend the other day who was some-what boasting about all the things he’d acquired to provide for his family in the event of some potential disaster in the future.  I must admit, I was pretty impressed with the long list of things he rattled off and the amount of money he said he spent to “get ready”.

I’m one of those that prefers not to say too much about what I’ve put away for a rainy day, especially if I’m talking to someone I don’t know very well.  So when others want to start talking about all their preps, I’m all ears and just listen and ask questions to learn as much as I can about potential areas where I could improve.

My buddy started listing things like his food storage (over a one year supply for his family), water storage and purification systems, first aid, solar panels, wind turbine, a huge amount of split fire wood, 800 lbs. of charcoal briquettes, 200 gallons of propane, and the list just kept going.  I can’t even remember all the things he mentioned.  I would stop him every now and then to get details and clarification on an area where I felt I was a little weak.  It was actually rather entertaining.  It’s almost as if he was about to burst his buttons, he was so proud of his accomplishments and he just couldn’t keep it a secret – he had to tell someone!

I made sure I complimented him several times for his accomplishments (I could sense he really wanted that validation) and asked him what his next step was and if he was going to continue adding to his supplies.  He looked at me kind of funny, almost as if I’d somehow just missed his entire presentation and stated, “Dude, I’m done!  I’m ready!”  It now came more into focus, he felt he had completed his homework assignment and he was now giving his oral report and wanting not only a very high score, but a significant amount of praise.

And you know what, that’s OK.  At least he took the assignment to prepare seriously and did a great job and his best in accomplishing that task. (Just a side note, this guy is pretty well healed financially so he definitely had the where-with-all to get it done in a hurry.)  If it had been a race, he chose the 100 yard dash and sprinted to the finish line.  Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s far more than even a marathon, probably more like an ultra-long distance mountain run similar to the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run in Colorado.  This race has 34,000 feet of ascent!

For most of us it will take time, both to figure out what is the best solution for our family’s needs as well as needing to work within our budgets.  While we’re moving down this preparedness path, it’s helpful on occasion to grade ourselves as to the progress we’re making.  This will assist in possibly providing needed course correction that will help us get to the finish line as quickly as our conditions will allow.

I came across an interesting rating system recently that helps bring the priorities of prepping into focus.  It rates one’s preps into five categories.  Take a look at these questions and grade yourself on how you’re doing by way of preparations and see which category you fit in.

5 Levels of Preparation

Level 0:  Every emergency is a disaster
Less than two weeks of food in the house
No water purification system
No bug-out bag
No defensive weapons
No way to produce their own food
No physical gold or silver
No tangible assets to barter

Level 1:  Can Survive Two Weeks of Minor Emergency
Have sufficient food and water for two weeks of emergency
Able to heat their home for two weeks without relying on the power grid by use of kerosene heater or fireplace
Able to cook their meals for two weeks without relying on the power grid
Has a first aid kit
Likely has no defensive weapons
Must leave their home after two weeks due to lack of preparation

Level 2:  Can Survive One Month of an Emergency
Likely has a portable power generator and sufficient fuel for one month of operation
Has handguns or shotgun to defend their home
Has a month’s worth of food storage
Has sufficient prescription medicines for 30 days
Has enough batteries for powering a portable radio for 30 days

Level 3:  Can Survive Three Months of an Emergency
Has a deep-short term pantry
Likely has a water purification system
Likely has defensive weapon for each family member
Likely has some type of neighborhood safety watch or 24 hour security watch rotation at the home
Has stocked wood to burn in fireplace and/or wood burning stove
Has communication gear to keep track of local and world events
Has means to recharge batteries without relying on power grid
Has three months of prescription medicines

Level 4:  Can Survive One Year of an Emergency
Has a deep short and long-term food pantry
Likely has their own garden to produce food
Likely has small-sized farm animals to produce protein (chickens, goats, rabbits)
Has a deep supply of ammo (2000+ rounds per weapon)
Has a spare weapon in event of damage
Has means to produce herbal medicines to replace prescriptions
Has a long-term store of antibiotics
Likely has dog for security watch
Has full 24 hour rotation of security watch on the home (requires 6 adults)
Should have secondary off-site storage of food, weapons, and ammo
Is ready to bug-out with full hiking and camping gear, if security situation degrades
Is able to educate their children at home

Level 5:  Can Survive Indefinitely from their Home during an multi-year SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation
Has a fully functioning large garden or small farm for food production
Is able to can and store the results of food harvest for the coming year
Is able to harvest seeds for next year’s planting
Is able to raise multiple generations of farm animals (cattle, sheep, horses)
Has horses for local and distance travel
Has enough ammo to last a generation (10,000+ rounds per weapon)
Has spares of each weapon and lots of extra magazines
Able to generate their own fuel (bio-diesel, alcohol)
Likely has fully functional solar power bank with deep storage batteries
Has natural on-site water sources for farm and home
Has home-based business to generate income
Is able to build new buildings and make any necessary repairs to existing buildings
Is able to provide excess food for charity
Has a secondary residency (such as mountain cabin) for full bug-out
Is prepared for minor surgery and child birth at home
Has stores of gold and silver for barter
Is able to produce their own clothing (from raw wool or raw cotton with spinning wheel and small loom)
________

I’m fairly certain most of us would prefer not to consider having to live under the conditions of levels four or five.  Many are still struggling with trying to complete the requirements of level one.  My purpose of sharing this information is not to overwhelm or depress you but to possibly assist you in understanding what it really takes to become truly self-reliant and provide for an uncertain future.  Choose the level where you feel most comfortable and work on it as a family and you will experience the peace of mind and sense of security you deserve.

Our Food Supply is Fragile

For as long as I can remember, the availability of food has not been an issue.  If we run out of something, sure it’s an inconvenience but knowing that item can easily be replaced by just running down to the local grocery store makes it really a non-issue.

I believe this is one of the primary issues why most people don’t take the time or make the effort to prepare for the possibility of not being able to go to the grocery store.  The idea seems foreign and unlikely for most.  Surely the government will do whatever it takes to keep food on the shelves, right?

Unfortunately, far too many good people live in a bubble of complacency assuming all is well and life will continue to move forward as it is today.

The fact is, today is as good as it ever will be.  If one believes in the Bible, it’s quite clear that in the last days things are not going to get better.  There will be more wars and rumors of war, more natural disasters, more contention between once friends and even family members.

Or as the Apostle Paul describes in 2Timothy 3:1-5: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  Do you see this happening around you or in the government today?  Yes, we are definitely in the last days!

Food Doesn’t Grow on the Shelves

Grocery stores don’t stock weeks of food anymore. Most keep only 72 hours of food on the shelves. They re-stock based on just-in-time delivery of food supplies. If the trucks stop rolling in your part of the country during a crisis, the store shelves will be emptied almost immediately. In fact, expect a shortage of mainstay items like milk and bread to occur similar to what happens before an approaching hurricane hits. Those who are aware of the problem but who haven’t already made preparations will engage in a last-minute rush to buy a few extra supplies.

Transportation is the Key

Without transportation, farmers can’t get their crops to the wholesalers or food processing facilities.  Food is heavy, generally speaking, and it requires trucks and trains to move it around — a literal ARMY of trucks and trains, weaving their way from city to city, optimized and prioritized by computers. If the computers freeze, the whole transportation infrastructure will shut down.

Transportation also depends heavily on fuel, which means the oil-producing countries in the Middle East have to be able to produce the oil that gets refined into diesel fuel here in America.  So, in other words, your food supply depends on Saudi Arabia being alive and well.  Do you trust the people in charge in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait with your life?  If you don’t make preparations now, you’re trusting them by default.

Cities Depend Entirely on Rural Land

Did you know cities would be ghost towns without the supporting imports of food from the country?  We should all thank the farmers a little more, because they literally keep us all alive. Cities are like concrete islands. You might think a city is self-sustaining until you really think about it, but underneath it all, that city is a ghost town without the people in the country supporting it.

You may already know that city people and country people have very different views on politics and life in general.  Country people tend to be more religious and more conservative.  City people tend to be more liberal.  So there’s more than a little animosity between country people and city people.

When a crisis hits, and the country people find they are without electricity and fuel, they will still survive, for the most part, because they’re used to surviving.  But do you think they will really put “saving city people” high on their list of priorities?  I don’t think so.  Any food that’s harvested from the fields will be kept and stored by the farmers themselves. They will NOT be shipping this stuff to the cities unless they have excess goods and can find a transportation method that still works (and has fuel).

Unfortunately, if some emergency powers acts are signed into place by the President, the Federal Emergency Management Association will have the legal power to actually confiscate and redistribute food. This makes it all the more likely that farmers will harvest it and HIDE IT in order to keep it.  And that means even less food making it to the cities.  Bottom line? Cities where food can’t be delivered will eventually be gutted, looted, evacuated and likely burned to the ground.

You Need to Start Stocking Food

You can do a lot if you start early. Unfortunately, “early” might have been yesterday. Now we’re way past early, and you need a reasonable plan to get food supplies that will store well and don’t cost too much.

An important aspect of storing food is assuring you store a wide variety of foods to avoid appetite fatigue. There are those who think providing variety in the diet is relatively unimportant and that if and when the time comes they’ll eat what they’ve got and that will be that.  For healthy, well, adjusted adults under ordinary circumstances or for those who have the vital survival mindset this might be possible without too much difficulty.  However, the reason for having a home food storage program in the first place is for when circumstances aren’t ordinary.

Times of crisis produce stress – possibly physical, but always mental.  If you are suddenly forced to eat a diet both alien and monotonous, it is going to add that much more stress on top of what you are already dealing with.  If your planning includes the elderly, young children, and/or infants there is a significant risk they will quit eating or refuse to eat sufficient amounts of the right foods leaving them unable to survive.

This is not a trivial problem and should be given serious consideration.  When it’s wheat, day in and day out, wheat’s going to start becoming unpopular fast. Far better to have a variety of foods on hand to forestall appetite fatigue and, more importantly, to use those storable foods in your everyday diet so that you’ll be accustomed to eating them.

In his book, “Making the Best of Basics”, James Stevens mentions a post-WWII study by Dr. Norman Wright, of the British Food Ministry, which found the people of England and Europe were more likely to reject unfamiliar or distasteful foods during times of stress than under normal conditions.  Consider the positive aspects of adding variety and comfort foods to your storage program.

So please consider the following, unless you are already familiar with a particular type of food, do not put large quantities of it into your pantry.  Sure, there may be great health benefits to eating quinoa or lentils, but most likely your family has not made a habit of eating such grains or legumes.

One of the best ways to overcome this concern is to focus on freeze-dried entrees with real meat you know your family likes.  It just doesn’t make any sense to load up on whole grains and basics when what you really need is more comfort foods you know your family will like and eat.  In addition, the thought of going to the effort of making a meal from whole grains versus just adding water to a freeze-dried meal, especially in times of stress, just doesn’t make sense.

Please take the time now to assure your family has an ample supply of the food they will want to eat and are easy to prepare as well as having an extended shelf life.

The Coming Food Collapse

The most obvious factor controlling our food supply is climate.  If it’s too dry, the crops won’t grow.  If it’s too cold, once again, the crops won’t grow.  There are many other conditions that will affect the quality and amount of food we can produce, but basic moisture and temperature are the two biggies.

There are many who track potential climate changes and much of the data is available to you and me as well.  There are YouTube Channels such as Suspicious0bservers, Adapt 2030, Ice Age Farmer and Grand Solar Minimum that will provide you with more information than you probably bargained for.

Contrary to all of the nonsense being spewed by governments, NGO’s and so-called centers of higher learning, we are NOT suffering from Anthropogenic (man-caused) Global Warming, Carbon Dioxide Poisoning, Climate Change (when the “forecasted” models didn’t deliver the promised rise in temperatures), etc., etc., etc.

We are now entering what is known as a Grand Solar Minimum period where the temperatures will mainly be dropping (with some areas warming as well) resulting in cold, wet conditions, shortened growing seasons, crop failures, the spread of disease and so on. This does not mean that it will be getting colder everywhere, as it may be likely in Iceland, Alaska and probably the western U.S. the temperatures may be warmer and drier if you follow the historic model of what happened in the Maunder Minimum in the early 1600’s. These cycles go like clockwork, every two hundred or so years: The Dalton Period of the early 1800’s, The Maunder Minimum of the 1600’s, the Sporer Minimum of the 1400’s, and so on.

A solar minimum period is when the sun goes into a quiet period of reduced sun spots (a normal eleven year cycle).  A Grand Solar Minimum is when the sun spot activity goes down to very little or next to none. The sunspots are what help energize the weather patterns on earth. When solar activity goes down, it changes the weather patterns. Cosmic ray activity comes lower into the atmosphere, creating low and cold cloud layers that increase levels of rain fall and snow.

Look at all of the unseasonal weather, the 500 and 1,000 year flooding and other events (like snow in the Sahara and the Saudi Peninsula) that keep occurring on a continuing basis.

With all of this late season cold weather and continuing snow storms, there has been a growing increase of crop failures due to snow, ice, hail, cold, etc.

Many have followed Dave Dubyne of Adapt 2030 (meaning adapting to the Grand Solar Minimum period bottoming out around the year 2030) for some time now, and he has tracked crop failures across the globe and has noted the increased pattern of crop failures and the results look pretty dim in the coming year and years to come.  Livestock losses have been mounting as well because of bad weather.  Below is his most recent video which shows these trends. Take a look at his earlier videos in the past several weeks, for they are eye-opening.

Be ready for what is coming: a reduced food supply, which means greatly increasing prices, increasing bad weather, earthquakes and volcanism and disease – which will all mean increasing societal pressures.

Here’s an interesting article posted in Armstrong Economics that discusses this same issue and how it’s affecting crops in Russia.

Russia’s Wheat Crop Fails

“The weather turned very cold this year as our computer has been forecasting. The importance of our model’s forecasts lies in determining what will be the next cycle focus. Each cycle tends to shift from one to the next sector. While we still risk a strong dollar rally into 2020 creating the economic recession through deflation as assets decline, the next 8.6-year cycle appears to be setting up to be a commodity cycle. As the climate changes to bitter cold, we have warned this is when FAMINE and DISEASE rise. The flu season is always when it turns cold – not warm.”

“It is important to keep an eye on the climate cycle and prepare for the next real bull market. This year, the wheat crop in Russia has failed because of the bitter cold with even April coming in as the coldest in more than 140 years. The people who want to believe in global warming are so enamored with this idea mixing up pollution with climate change that they fail to see the trend coming. As crops fail with colder winters, food supplies will decline and prices will rise. So look for the next 8.6-year Economic Confidence Model Wave to bring higher prices in food.”

Here’s another interesting video showing more about the unexpected facts regarding climate change.

Dr. Raymond H. Wheeler (1892-1961) developed a clock to forecast recurring droughts, which coincided with colder climates. He found that every 170 years, the climate would turn colder and dryer, social mood would turn negative, civil wars would proliferate, and the economy would suffer from financial collapse.

Although he completed his work during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, he was able to accurately forecast the second half of the 20th century, based upon the cycles that occurred over and over again like clockwork from 600 BC through today.

The Drought Clock shows shorter 100 year cycles of cold and dry which are compounded by the larger degree 170 year cycle, when they happen at the same time. You can see that he forecast the start of a cold, dry 170 year cycle just before the year 2000.

The bottom line – there are numerous factors that can and will affect our food supply.  It’s critical that we learn from the past and properly prepare for the future by assuring we have enough food stored to provide for our families in these uncertain times.

Source:  https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/markets-by-sector/agriculture/russias-wheat-crop-fails/

Source:  http://worldcyclesinstitute.com/dr-wheelers-drought-clock/

Are You Prepared for the Outdoors?

Every summer, our church provide​s​ a special activity for single adults ranging in age from 18 to 30.  We call it our Summer Summit and it’s held in the mountains about 8,000 feet above sea level at a church owned property.  It’s a 40 acre tract of land with three lakes, two of which have zip lines over the water.

It’s a two day activity with great food, camping out, rock climbing, swimming, canoeing, archery, trap shooting, hamster ball (if you’ve never heard of this, you’ve got to google it), rope courses, team building activities, speakers, and a big dance Friday night.  It really is a BIG production!

We typically have 600 to 700 young single adults attend and it’s just a blast.  My wife and I have been helping the last five years and even though it’s a lot of work, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know these young adults and watch them mingle and enjoy some good, clean fun.

This last year, my wife and I were assigned to oversee the waterfront on the main lake.  This included all swimming, canoeing and zip line activities.  We asked two other couples to assist us simply because there were just too many kids wanting to do too many different things all at the same time.

I really enjoyed working the zip line tower.  Kids would climb up a ladder to the top of the tower where I was standing, I would explain the rules and how best to jump out when they were over the water.  I would ​help ​them get properly seated in the harness and then tell them to jump off ​the tower ​when they were ready.

There was a long rope attached to the harness so that it could be pulled back to the tower after the rider jumped out.  I had no idea just how much work it would be to pull the harness back to the tower after each jump.  After 40 or 50 turns, my arms were screaming for a rest.  Even though one’s arms would get totally wasted pulling the harness back time after time, the real problem was happening silently and consistently without one even noticing.

The top of my head, my forehead, my nose​,​ the tops of my ears ​and the back of my neck were getting fried!  I was so preoccupied with the tasks at hand that I had neglected to wear a hat or any sunscreen.  The problem with getting severely sunburned is that it happens so easily that you really don’t know you’re in trouble until it’s too late.

That night and the next day, I really paid the price.  There wasn’t enough Aloe Vera in the county to drive away the pain.  I couldn’t believe I was so stupid as to not properly prepare for being out in the sun all day.  I seldom use sunscreen but usually I’ll w​ear​ at least a baseball cap that will protect the top of my head and my forehead.

One of the fellows that was helping us out at the water front was sporting a really cool looking hat.​  I asked him about it and he began an infomercial that I wasn’t expecting.  The hat he was wearing was called a Tilley hat and has quite a reputation as well as a lifetime guarantee.  He related several examples of how hats like his had been abused and subjected to extraordinarily harsh conditions and withstood it all.  The one example I remember was the story of how an elephant trainer had his Tilley hat eaten by an elephant and after it passed through the elephant’s digestive tract, was recovered, washed and continued to be used by the trainer as if nothing had ever happened to the hat.

Not that I was particularly concerned about the threat of an elephant eating my hat, but I was intrigued by the quality and the lifetime guarantee of the Tilley hat.  Most importantly, I though it looked nice and had a wide enough brim to cover ones forehead, ears and back on the neck.​

I like baseball caps but for prolonged outside exposure to the sun, they just don’t provide the protection that is needed.  So I started to pay attention and observe those who spend a lot of time in the sun and see what they used to shield themselves from the harsh effects of overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

I had a great example I watched for several weeks last summer when the owners of the home across the street from me decided to renovate and re-landscape their home.  The landscaping crew was predominately Mexican who seemed to know something many of us don’t realize.  They know how to dress for prolonged exposure to the sun and it obviously works.  Many of us, who don’t know better assume if it’s hot and we’re in the sun, remove as much clothing as possible to try and keep cool.

These construction workers knew better.  The first thing I noticed was that they all wore long-sleeved, collared shirts.  No collarless tee-shirts.  In addition, some wore hoodies with the hoods over their heads.  Others wore large brimmed hats that would provide sufficient shade to cover their heads and necks.  One older worker wore what I first thought was a costume or prank cowboy hat.  It must have been three times the size of a regular cowboy hat.  After watching him over several days, I realized it was a legitimate hat that provided a significant amount of shade.

Growing up in New Mexico, it was very common to see Navajo women wearing long velvet dresses out in the sun in the summer.  My father explained to me it actually helped insulate them against the heat rather than making them hotter.

In the event of some major event or natural disaster, the odds are you will be spending more time outside that you do now.  You certainly don’t want to add to your woes by not protecting yourself from the sun.  Put on your list to get the right kind of hat for each family member and make sure the brim is large enough to cover the ears and back of the neck.  Being properly prepared with the right kind of hats for your family will save you pain and discomfort in the future.

Avoiding the Threat of a Deep Freeze

It’s always exciting when Spring arrives and warmer days are right around the corner.  I love it when the days get a little longer and Day-light Savings Time is re-engaged so it’s light longer in the evening.  I also like to watch the fruit trees start to blossom and get excited about all the great apples, cherries, apricots and plums we’ll be able to harvest in the coming months.  The smell of the blossoms and the buzzing of the bees around them are wonderful to experience.

Then sometimes, it all comes to a screeching halt.  All of the dreams and great expectations of a bountiful harvest are dashed.  Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and we get hammered with a late frost.  The blossoms turn brown and shrivel up and the dreams of bushels of fruit have to be put off till next year.

My dad grew up working in an apple orchard and would tell us of the long nights keeping the smudge pots burning in an attempt to keep the temperatures just high enough to ward off a hard frost.  Typically, if the temperature drops to 28 degrees for more than a couple of hours, real damage can be done to the crop.  There were years they were successful and the smudge pots saved the crop and others, in spite of their efforts, where they lost most of their fruit.

Orchards farmers today use both water and wind to increase the temperature of their orchards and prevent freezing.  Sprinklers using ground water will increase the temperature by 2 to 4 degrees and wind machines help mix the cold air with warmer air and can increase the temperature by 2 to 3 degrees.

Our ancestors were very familiar with these potential cold snaps and would prepare for such events.  Many didn’t have the local grocery store to rely on and had to provide from their own orchards and gardens.  These wise providers knew the importance of preserving as much of their harvest as they could for later use.  We hear the term “canning” which really means putting up food in quart and pint jars to be used at some future date.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers spent countless hours in the kitchen canning fruits, vegetables, meats, butter, nuts and any other food item that would last.  They had to preserve not only enough to last till the next harvest but extra in the event something went wrong.

Most have heard the term, “year’s supply of food”.  Have you ever wondered why a year?  What’s so important about a full year?  Why not just three or six months’ worth of food storage?  The simple answer is this: It’s a growing cycle.  Yep, that’s it.  Our ancestors understood that if a crop got wiped out this year, it would be at least another year before they could harvest their next crop.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Yet in today’s world, we’re seldom conscience of the growing season of any given food.  The grocery store always seems to have what we need and apparently, somewhere in the world, it’s the right growing season for what we’re looking for and the grocery store has it shipped in from far and wide.

As a result, we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on a significant amount of produce shipped in from Mexico and South and Central America.  U.S. farmers grow a lot of produce, but imports are filling most of the rising demand, especially during winter months.  In fact, the volume of imports has increased to more than 150 fruits and vegetables.

As the farming, production and distribution of our food supply becomes more and more complex, the potential disruption of this supply becomes more probable.  There are just so many moving parts that it’s only a matter of time before something goes sideways and disrupts the flow from the grower to the consumer.

We have all seen the news reports of empty shelves at grocery stores due to a trucker’s strike or an impending hurricane or announced shortage.  It doesn’t take long for panicked consumers to rush to their local grocery store in an attempt to beat others to the available food so at least “they and theirs” will have something to eat, not concerning themselves with others who may not have been able to get to the store as quickly.

The bottom line, you and I have no control over the flow of food to our local grocery store.  We are totally dependent on all the factors coming together in a timely fashion to provide us with the fresh food and produce we’re accustom to purchasing and consuming.  The only way we can protect ourselves against a myriad of potential issues that could disrupt our food supply is to follow the example of our ancestors – set aside enough food for future needs.

We have so much the advantage over what our ancestors had to do to provide the security of food storage.  Rather than spending countless hours and days of labor growing, harvesting and preserving the food, we now have access to dehydrated and freeze-dried food.  It will last longer, it’s more durable and takes up less space than countless quart jars of bottled food.  And all we need to do is purchase the appropriate amount for our families and store it away.

In addition, due to current-day technology, we can also store away our second year’s supply of food in the form of heirloom seeds.  These seeds have been properly treated to last over five years on your shelf and provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  They are heirloom seeds (non-hybrid) so that one can take the seeds from the harvested produce to plant a subsequent year’s garden.  The cost of this “second year’s supply” is very reasonable and the seeds are easy to store.  As long as you have the space to grow a garden, (even if it means tilling up your lawn) and access to water, you’ll be in great shape should the need to grow your own food lasts longer than a year.

Please take the time now to protect your family against the very real possibility of food shortages in the future by not only having the appropriate level on dehydrated and freeze-dried food but also the back-up of heirloom garden seeds.  Mother Nature WILL throw us a curve ball.  It’s happened so many times in the past and is guaranteed to happen again in the future.

Sources:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/graphic-science-where-in-the-world-your-fruits-vegetables-come-from-interactive/

http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1057-B/index2.tmpl

As a Man Thinketh

A few years ago, my father-in-law organized a pack trip through some spectacular high mountain trails in the Rocky Mountains.  We took horses on this trip with a couple of pack horses to carry all our gear.  One of the horses was a young two year old gelding that was still being trained.

Every so often we would cross a stream and would stop in the middle of the stream to let the horses drink.  In a particularly steep area, we came across a wide stream that crossed the trail.  We walked the horses out in the middle of the stream to once again let them drink.  The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” is so true.  The young gelding just stood in the water, looking down at it but did not drink.

I’ve never seen this before, but this young pack horse continued to stare at the passing water until something bizarre happened.  Watching the moving water caused the young horse to lose his balance and he just tipped over and fell down a steep incline.   The horse rolled a couple of times and the panniers were torn off spilling much of our gear in the water.  We thought for sure the horse would have broken a leg or worse.

We jumped off our horses and slid down the hill to try and rescue the horse and collect our gear.  As you can imagine, the horse was thrashing about, trying to stand up.  There were still ropes and the pack saddle attached to the horse which made him panic all the more.  It was only after a considerable amount of time and effort we were able to calm the horse down and get him back up to the trail.  It was nothing short of a miracle that he hadn’t broken any bones.

After tying up the horse, we gathered up all the gear we could find and repacked it into the panniers.  We tried to lighten the load on the young horse by carrying some of the gear on the other horses.  After about an hour, we were on the trail again headed for our first campsite.

This experience reminded me of one of my girls when she was a toddler.  We were at the beach enjoying the California weather.  I have a video of her running on the sand near the water’s edge.  As the waves would come in and the water line would move up the sand and then back out again, it would throw her balance off and she would fall.  It’s a cute video but I can’t help but wonder how often we act or react like the pack horse or my young daughter.  What are the things in our lives that we focus on?  Will that focus move us closer to what matters most or cause us to stumble and fall?

There’s a classic book entitled “As a Man Thinketh” written by James Allen and published in 1903.  The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 23, verse 7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.  It’s only 70 pages long but is jam-packed with wisdom, the essence being, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”

I’ve never been one who just listens to music on the radio while I drive.  I’ve always preferred spending my time listening to talk shows or motivational speakers.  Back in the days of cassette tape players in cars, I would keep a case of tapes of motivational speakers such as Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey, Dennis Waitley, Ira Hayes, Paul Harvey, W. Clement Stone, Cavett Robert just to name a few.

One of my favorites was Earl Nightingale.  He was a famous radio speaker and author, dealing mostly with the subjects of human character development, motivation, and meaningful existence.  He died in 1989. He had a very distinctive voice with the ability to motivate without yelling or jumping up and down.  There was pure inspiration in his voice. He had a masterful way of communicating and many of his stories will forever remain seared into my memory banks.

Some of my favorites are “The Common Denominator of Success”, “Acres of Diamonds” and “Miracle of Your Mind”.  It would be well worth your time to Google these titles and listen to them.  A classic is “We Become What We Think About”.  Here’s a brief excerpt of that presentation:

Indeed, we become what we think about and that can be either positive or negative in our lives. There are times in our lives when we can become consumed with our thoughts.  I can’t help but think about two Hollywood examples portrayed in film.  First, there’s the entertaining holiday movie of Ralphie and his all-consuming plight of convincing his parents that the perfect Christmas gift would be a Red Ryder BB gun in “The Christmas Story” (one of my favorite Christmas movie traditions).  The thought of getting that BB gun totally consumed his every thought.

Then there’s the Disney portrayal of an enterprising frog named “Mr. Toad”.  When Mr. Toad first saw an automobile, he also became totally consumed with driving a car which led to “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”.  This obsession became a mania for Mr. Toad, one he just couldn’t control.

There are times when becoming Ralphie or Mr. Toad can be a strong, positive thing in our lives, as long as we are allowing ourselves to be consumed with good, positive goals and objectives.  Even still, proper moderation is an essential key to keeping our lives balanced.  We can never allow any such goals to take precedence over what matters most.

Be prudent – don’t let prepping consume you and occupy your every thought.  There’s plenty of negative in the world that could keep us depressed and worried 24/7.  Focus on the positive, not the negative news we hear each day.  Take the time to properly prepare and then focus on the positive, hopeful and enjoyable aspects of your life.  Don’t fret about the future – tomorrow will come regardless of what we do today.