7 Signs You are Judging Others

“Judge not” is one of the most popular Bible verses in our society, especially among non-Christians. It seems to fit in with two of our society’s most basic assumptions—that (1) religion is private and (2) morality is relative. People love “judge not” because it seems to be a handy way of saying, “You can’t tell me I’m wrong.” Begin to make a public assessment on just about any moral issue and you’ll see this verse swiftly pulled out as a deflective weapon.

The problem is, Jesus—the one who uttered the words—didn’t share our presuppositions about private religion and relative morality. He was constantly making public judgments, many of them rather striking. In John 7:7 he told his disciples that the world hates him “because I testify about it that its works are evil.” So he couldn’t have meant that we’re all supposed to just throw up our hands and say, “Hey, to each his own. Who am I to judge?”

You judge someone not when you assess their position, but when you dismiss them as a person. Jesus told people that their works were evil. Yet John 3:17 says that God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it. There is a difference between speaking a harsh truth and condemning. Condemning goes beyond saying “This is wrong” to saying, “I don’t want you around anymore.”

It’s what you do after you tell someone the truth that determines whether or not you are condemning—a.k.a. judging—them. When Jesus told us the harsh truth about our sin, he brought us close. He made us, even as sinners, his friends.

The antidote to judging is to remember the gospel. Here are some signs you’re judging others (because you’ve forgotten the gospel):

1) You are more enraged at someone else’s sin than you are embarrassed by your own. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that one of the first signs of Christian maturity was a frustration with the hypocrisy of the church and a desire to separate from it. But the next sign of growth was recognizing that the same hypocrisy in the church is present in oneself. We continue to confront others in their sin, but always while being painfully aware of our own.

2) You refuse to forgive (or when you forgive you refuse to forget). To refuse to forgive someone is to be almost entirely ignorant of the enormity of what God has forgiven you. And to “forgive but not forget” is, as I’ve heard it said, “a distinction without a difference.” It’s just another way of saying, “I’m going to remind you of this all the time and use it as justification for being cold toward you.” In other words, it’s not forgiveness at all. Forgiveness means absorbing the debt and offering love and goodness in return.

3) You “cut off” those who disagree with you. This is the essence of judging. When you disagree strongly with someone—over something like faith or morality or politics—and because you can’t agree you cut them off. You say, in essence, “We can’t really be friends if we disagree on this issue.” The ultimate statement of judgment is, “Depart from me.”

Hear me charitably on this: you have to love the person more than you love your position on a particular issue. That doesn’t mean you ever compromise your position or fail to state it. But it means that you stay committed to loving those who passionately disagree with you.

The best example of this is Jesus with Judas. Even after Judas had betrayed him, Jesus says to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Friend. Jesus offers the hand of friendship to him—and to us!—when we are his betrayers. How can I say “Depart from me” to someone else, when God doesn’t even say that to me?

4) You gossip. What makes gossip so dangerous is that you are judging someone without giving them the chance to change. At least if you judged someone to their face, they could do something about it. (And don’t mask it with a “prayer request” or a classically Southern “bless his heart.”)

5) You refuse to receive criticism. Why do you hate criticism? Isn’t it because you hate to admit that you have faults? But if you understand the gospel, that shouldn’t surprise you. So when others point out your depravity, you should be able to say, “Well, of course. In fact, I could tell you a thing or two you didn’t notice!”

6) You refuse to correct someone’s position. Irony alert. As a Christian, when you refuse to correct someone, it’s for one of two reasons: 1) You don’t believe that the Bible is true, or 2) You don’t think the other person can actually change. But by assuming the other person won’t change and won’t listen, you’re judging and condemning them from the start. You’re consigning them to their sin without ever giving them the chance to receive grace. Which leads me to the last one…

7) You write someone off as hopeless. Listen, we serve a Savior who raises the dead. It shouldn’t phase use if we think someone is hopeless. We are just as hopeless. But if we keep our mouths shut because we think someone is beyond hope—or worse, if we’re just afraid of an awkward interaction—then we’re saying that we would rather our friends suffer the full consequences of their sins than speak up. Where would you be if not for the courage of others to speak difficult truths into your life?

There is a balance here between grace and truth. So don’t judge others by withholding the truth. But don’t judge them by speaking the truth without grace. Instead, give them the grace and truth of the gospel. Truth without grace is judgmental fundamentalism; grace without truth is liberal sentimentality. The gospel combines both.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Getting Free From Anger

I had a sad conversation with a friend the other day.  His mother had recently passed away having lived as a widow for several years.  As his family gathered to mourn her loss, his sister became very vocal as to what money and personal belongings their mother had promised the daughter.  My friend tried to assure her, being the designated executor of her estate, that in due time a fair and appropriate process would be put in place for the distribution of their mother’s assets to all four children.

His sister insisted that before and so-called “fair distribution of assets”, she was entitled to a significant payout and gift of assets.  This created so much contention and hard feelings that several family members refused to even talk to each other at their mother’s funeral.

My friend is absolutely beside himself and holds a deep resentment against his sister for creating so much contention during this difficult and tender time for the family.  He is genuinely concerned about ever being able to restore a loving relationship with his sister.

This experience made me reflect on what is happening to our society today.  It seems as if the need to blame and judge others for what is perceived as some type of offense is pervasive.  It seems as if a growing anger about almost everything is becoming commonplace.  Living in such an environment can be so very destructive to ourselves and others if we refuse to learn and implement the art of forgiveness.

Resentment is one of the most damaging of human emotions. The perception of feeling wronged or betrayed can quickly harden into bitterness if we don’t make the effort to learn to grow past the fault we were dealt. Sometimes it may feel as though holding on to anger empowers us, or that if we forgive then we are approving of the action that hurt us so deeply. But you may be familiar with the cliché, “Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Still, suggestions to simply forgive and forget can feel flippant when we attempt to apply them to deep betrayals. Forgiveness is a deeper call to the spirit. It is the act of forgiveness that allows us to extract the beauty that is hidden within painful circumstances. Choosing to “just forget about it,” or to “let it go,” without processing its purpose can lead to a pushing down of your anger, which may resurface later in a much less controlled fashion.

Forgiveness is a common thread across multiple religions and faiths.  One learns quickly that a meager effort to “forget” is not at all the same as forgiving. Forgiveness is a job, but it is worth every effort. Through practice, one can learn that those who hurt us give us a beautiful opportunity to grow in our faith and in our belief in goodness, when we are willing to forgive.

Below are some ideas to consider as you begin the journey of forgiveness in your own situation.

Awareness of being forgiven

Being harmed, particularly if it was unprovoked, can often lead us to a place of self-righteous anger. However, being wronged makes us quick to forget that we ourselves have also harmed others at some point. Perhaps not to the same degree or in the same manner, but at one time or another we have surely inflicted pain on someone we love. Take some time to meditate on the forgiveness you have been afforded in your relationships.

Most spiritual beliefs offer us forgiveness for every aspect of our flawed humanity, and when we take pause to consider how enormous that grace is, how we are forgiven so that we may grow into a more loving person, it makes it difficult to hold on to hatred toward someone who has harmed us.

Ignorance in the person who has harmed you

Most people hurt others because they themselves are hurting in some way. Fear permeates the lives of the hurting, and it can blind them to the real effects of their actions. Many spiritual disciplines call this “spiritual sickness.” It helps, because it reminds us that even though it may feel personal, the harmful act was a result of the perpetrator’s own internal struggles. Just as we may be less likely to resent someone who is bedridden with cancer, so might we be more inclined to forgive a person whose spiritual illness has affected us negatively.

Harmful effects of bitterness on your spirit

Betrayals have the power to bring us to our knees if we allow our anger to settle within us. Once we give resentment the permission to take up residency in our hearts, it has a magnetic effect that pulls negativity toward us. Before long there is a sense that we are victims whenever we are hurt in life, and the weight of bitterness robs us of peace, happiness and love.

On the other hand, meditating on forgiveness is freeing. It enables you to not be held in a prison by the person who has harmed you, but rather to gently accept that although their actions were wrong, you are able to heal from the pain and move on as a stronger, more loving person. Allow their consequences to come from their own journey, as vengeance is not yours, unless you want it to consume your whole life.

Belief in the necessary aspects of pain in your journey

Not all of our lessons in life are easy to swallow. If we are to grow spiritually, there will be lessons along the way that hurt deeply. It catches our attention so that we can make the choice to either learn from it or continue to be harmed by it. If we view the person who harmed us as a vessel who delivers us an opportunity to grow, it opens our hearts up to begin to be grateful for their presence in our lives. Again, it doesn’t mean that we approve of their behavior; it means that we are able to see that the greater good is at work.

Prayer

All of these concepts are great ideas as we strive toward practicing forgiveness, but nothing is more powerful than plugging into divine help. Prayer allows us to reach out in faith and become conscious that we are not alone in the seemingly cumbersome task of forgiveness. Offering daily prayer for the healing, prosperity and joy of the person who offended you will go a long way in helping to give you empathy for their own experiences. Requests for strength, the ability to forgive, and your own peace and healing will infuse your soul with a fortitude that you may not have thought possible.

Now is the time to start to enjoy the freedom of forgiveness. Old resentments can melt away and you can learn how to prevent new ones from keeping you in bondage. It is a wonderful feeling to be fully alive in this present moment, unshackled by the wrongs of the past.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

I Can’t Breathe!

I have an elderly family member who is slowing suffocating.  That was actually difficult to put down in words but it’s even harder to see her suffer.  She has a condition where her lungs are slowly filling with carbon dioxide and she’s not able to exhale hard enough to expel the carbon dioxide from her lungs.  As a result, every day she has a little less lung capacity for oxygen.  She wears oxygen nasal prongs 24/7 and still runs out of breath just walking from one room to another.

Breathing to get the oxygen we need is one of the strongest natural urges we all have.  The panicked feeling that occurs when you get the breath knocked out of you and you can’t breathe for what seems like forever (even though it’s only a few seconds) is a very frightening experience.

So not being able to breathe is a very traumatic way to die and one is definitely aware of what’s happening.  There is though, another way one can die by not getting the oxygen necessary to maintain life, and this way is not painful and can happen without you even knowing it.

I wrote a blog about my personal experience with carbon monoxide poisoning.  Here’s the link:

https://blog.foodinsurance.com/death-was-so-close/

I came across another excellent article about carbon monoxide poisoning I wanted to share with you especially in light of the upcoming winter season where emergency indoor heating and cooking can create a real problem.

The article is titled, “This is One of the Unspoken Dangers That (Silently and Quickly) Kills During Emergencies”.

It claims the lives of hundreds of unsuspecting victims every year and makes thousands more seriously ill.

This invisible killer is odorless, colorless, and tasteless – and strikes without warning.

Everyone – yes, including you and your family, and even your pets – is at risk of becoming a victim of this insidious poison.

Fortunately, simple precautions can keep you and your family safe.

Carbon Monoxide – a Silent Killer

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Carbon monoxide is produced every time a fossil fuel is burned. This includes fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.

Everyone is exposed to small amounts of carbon monoxide throughout the day. However, inhaling too much of it can cause CO poisoning. The actual poisoning occurs when you breathe in this air – especially if you’re in a place that isn’t well ventilated.

When too much carbon monoxide is in the air you’re breathing, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This prevents oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs.

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can have irreversible brain damage or die from CO poisoning before ever anyone realizes there’s a problem.

Depending on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause:

●  Permanent brain damage
●  Damage to your heart, possibly leading to life-threatening cardiac complications
●  Fetal death or miscarriage
●  Death

How to Recognize CO Poisoning

The warning signs of CO poisoning can be subtle, but because it is a life-threatening condition, it is important to be vigilant.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning include dull headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and seek emergency medical care immediately. You should go to the hospital right away if you’ve been exposed to a source of CO, even if you don’t show symptoms of CO poisoning.

If you cannot get to the hospital immediately and someone you are with is unresponsive, not breathing, or not breathing normally, move them away from the source of CO. Call 911 and begin CPR if necessary. Continue CPR until the person begins breathing or emergency help arrives. Even if you are able to resuscitate someone who has been poisoned by CO, please seek emergency medical care. This is not a condition to take lightly, as even minor cases can cause long-term, serious complications including brain damage, heart damage, organ damage, and of course, death.

Note: if you do not know how to perform CPR, please learn as soon as possible so you are prepared in case of an emergency like CO poisoning. The best way to learn is via hands-on instruction, but if you don’t have access to a course, at the very least, buy a guide and study it. In fact, buying a guide to keep on hand is a great idea anyway – even for those who have been trained in CPR.

If you believe YOU have been poisoned by CO, go outdoors immediately and call 911. Don’t drive yourself to the hospital (unless it is your only option) because you may pass out while driving.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A doctor or nurse will take a blood sample to determine the amount of CO in the blood. Once CO levels increase to 70 parts per million (ppm) and above, symptoms become more noticeable.

The best way to treat CO poisoning is to breathe in pure oxygen. This treatment increases oxygen levels in the blood and helps to remove CO from the blood. The emergency healthcare provider will place an oxygen mask over your nose and mouth and ask you to inhale. If you’re unable to breathe on your own, you will be given oxygen through a ventilator.

Pressurized oxygen chambers (also known as a hyperbaric oxygen chambers) are also used to treat CO poisoning. The oxygen chamber has twice the pressure of normal air. This treatment quickly increases oxygen levels in the blood and it’s typically used in severe cases of CO poisoning or to treat CO poisoning in pregnant women.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Risks specific to off-grid and emergency situations

When power outages occur after severe weather, using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside.

During any kind of emergency that results in a power outage, you may be so consumed by doing the things you need to do to survive that the thought of CO poisoning doesn’t cross your mind. For this reason, it is important to understand the risks and learn how to prevent poisoning now, while you are clear-headed and can prepare adequately.

One of your first precautionary measures should be installing battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home. Check your CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.

There are many sources of possible CO poisoning that are commonly used during off-grid events and power outages.

CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood.

Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if all the doors and windows are open. Only use generators outside – and be sure to place them more than 20 feet away from your home.

Never use grills, or other gasoline, propane, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, garage, or carport or near doors, windows, or vents. If you have a gas oven, do not attempt to heat your home with it.

Recreational vehicles with gas heaters also pose a risk, so ensure there is plenty of ventilation if your RV burns gas, wood, propane, or other fuel. Buy a CO detector and place it in an area near the source of CO. Be sure to change the batteries regularly.

Don’t sleep near a gas or kerosene space heater.

General prevention

The CDC provides the following CO poisoning prevention tips:

●  Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.

●  Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

●  Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open. Keep vents and flues free of debris. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.

●  Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.

●  When you use a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home too.

●  Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.

●  If it’s too hot, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.

●  If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911 or a health care professional right away.

Source:  http://readynutrition.com/resources/this-is-one-of-the-unspoken-dangers-that-silently-and-quickly-kills-during-emergencies_03092018/

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Waste Not, Want Not

I’m sure most of us have heard this phrase, but what does it mean?  It’s an old English proverb first recorded in 1772.  In essence, it means if one is not wasteful, one will not be in need.

Many years ago, I remember hearing a story about a pioneer man who was looking for a wife.  To make sure he was pursuing the type of woman he would want as his wife and mother to his children, he asked three single women if he could watch them bake bread.  The first was an attractive woman who eagerly agreed and went about making several loaves of bread.  She was not an experienced cook and made quite a mess in preparing the dough.  The bread itself was over-cooked and what he witnessed was enough of an indicator that this woman was not what he was looking for.

The next woman was also happy to have this eligible bachelor join her as she made a batch of bread.  She appeared to be far more experienced that the first woman and made several very nice loaves of bread.  What the pioneer man noticed, however, was that the woman didn’t use all the dough she had made and she simply threw away the excess scraps.  This really bothered the man.

The third woman was somewhat reluctant to have the man join her in baking bread as she was very organized and thorough and didn’t want the man getting in the way.  Nevertheless, she consented to have him watch if he sat quietly in the corner.  She was very quick and efficient in how she prepared the dough and formed the loaves.  What impressed the man the most though was the way she used every possible scrap and wasted absolutely nothing.  This, the man told himself, is the woman for me!

Whether the story is true or not isn’t really the issue – it’s the principle behind it all.  We are indeed a very wasteful society and have grown far too accustom to the abundance that is around us.  Times of extreme scarcity and need will bring to focus the most important aspects of survival – the precious and essential nourishment that comes from food.

This reminded me of a book I read, “The Long Walk” about a year long journey of WWII prisoner escapees who walked over 3,000 miles from upper Siberia to India.  I would highly recommend this book.  After surviving on very little food during their journey and almost starving to death, upon returning home, the author of the book, Slavomir Rawicz, was absolutely disgusted at the amount of food we both eat and waste.  Having lived on the other side of the survival equation for a year, he had an understanding of the critical nature of food most people will never experience or appreciate.

There have been times in our history when many similar valuable lessons were learned out of necessity.

The Great Depression was a time of lean years for many in the United States as well as all over the world.  Many people learned valuable lessons on how to make food stretch and take advantage of cheaper processed food that came out during this time.  Many people learned to survive on less and some people went hungry.

When World War II came around, many of these lessons were needed to survive the war and stretch their rationing coupons.  People were encouraged to garden during the Depression and were heavily encouraged to do during the war.  Victory gardens appeared everywhere to help feed the people while more and more food was shipped overseas.

Many of these lessons learned during these eras have been lost.  We as a people are incredibly wasteful now.  Our grocery budgets would be better off if we learned these same lessons and kept them in our kitchens.  Then if we have lean times, we would be better off.

Here are 10 important lessons learned during difficult and lean times.

1)  Fat was never wasted.  Scraps of fat were kept from everything they could be and stored.  Fat from meat was cut off to be used to fry and roast.  Bacon grease was kept in a jar to be used to cook eggs and potatoes.  Fat from cooking meat was reused in cooking other meat and cooking vegetables.  Fat was too precious to waste especially when it became severely rationed during World War II.

2)  Cooking liquids were never just thrown down the drain.  That was wasteful! They were reused in cooking for vegetables.  Rice and pasta could be cooked in water that was previously used in cooking vegetables.  They also thought it gave the rice and pasta flavor.  They would also use the cooking liquids in watering plants and feeding animals.

3)  Leftover meat juices had so many more uses!  Leftover meat juices were used for making soup, cooking rice and pasta, flavoring casseroles and skillets dishes.  Meat juices were poured into a jar to be reused in the next meal.

4)  If the food has to be imported into the country, chances are you would have to live without it.  This was especially true in the United States and Britain during wartime when most of their food was imported into the country.  Many things they could grow themselves, but items like sugar and coffee were severely rationed because they could not produce it themselves.

5)  If people could, they raised their own chickens and planted gardens. Sometimes city dwellers could not have gardens, but many cities had garden allotments for people to use.  Raising your food could mean the difference between living and starving for most people.  Many people during the Depression and wartime sold the food they couldn’t eat or preserve.  Many women sold eggs from their chickens in order to bring a little more income into the home.  Many people from these eras have said that having gardens and eggs is what got them through the lean years.

6)  Leftovers were never wasted.  Leftovers were generally incorporated into the next meal or the next day’s meals.  Leftover meat became chopped meat sandwiches.  Leftover meat and vegetables became part of the soup. Cooking liquids and canned liquids were reused.  Nothing was wasted.  If for some reason the leftovers could not be or were not used, they were fed to the animals or put into a compost pile.

7)  If you did not raise or hunt your own meat, meat could be very expensive. Meals in the Depression and wartime were not heavy on meat like they are now.  Meat cooked at one meal was stretched over 2-4 meals.  They might roast a chicken for one meal, make chopped meat sandwiches for another meal, soup for lunch or supper, and use the rest of the chicken in a white sauce served over toast or pasta.  The bones would be used to make broth for the soup before being thrown out to the chickens.  Nothing was wasted.

8)  Consider alternative ways of cooking food.  In the 30’s and 40’s, cook stoves were popular.  Electric and gas cook stoves were becoming increasingly available and were cheap to run.  However, in the Depression, people could not afford to run the stoves.  During the war, gas was rationed. Women used wood stoves and hay boxes to cook food and save money.

9)  Forging was very necessary during these eras.  People looked for dandelion greens, dug up wild onions, and knew where to find blackberries in the brambles.  Forging for anything edible helped at the supper table and, for some families, made the difference between a very meager meal and a decent meal.

10)  “Making Do” was the theme of the Depression and wartime.  People didn’t have a choice if they wanted to eat.  Beans were eaten a lot because they were cheap and nutritious.  Casseroles were made more and became popular because little bits of food could be mixed together to make a more filling meal.  Bits of dried fruit and sweet vegetables were used to sweeten food when sugar wasn’t available or heavily rationed.

Food was never thrown out or wasted.  People became very creative and resourceful to make a meal for their family.  They had to.  They didn’t have a choice unless they wanted to starve.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Where Are My Keys!?

We’ve all experienced the frustration of not finding our keys, especially when we’re in a hurry to get to an appointment or make it to the airport on time.  There are indeed very few things more aggravating and frustrating than not being able to find something important or necessary to accomplish a task.

I had a very disturbing and frustrating dream a couple of years ago.  For more than 30 years, I’ve been very active and involved in the prepper world.  I’ve prided myself in going the extra mile in not only preparing extensively for my family but continuing to store food and supplies for others that I’m certain will need help in times of collapse.

Well, in my dream, the time I’ve been preparing for all these years was upon us.  There had been a communication to relocate for safety’s sake.  There was a distinct sense of urgency and I was actually excited to gather my family and gear and meet at the announced time and location.

As I ran down stairs to my storage room, I was surprised at the unorganized mess I saw.  It looked as if there had been an earthquake or something.  I could hardly get down the stairs to the storage room due to miscellaneous debris and items on the stairs.

As I made my way into the storage room, I became very upset as I could not seem to locate any of the essential gear I was trying to collect.  I could not find my sleeping bags or any camping or survival supplies for that matter.  I was getting more and more upset because I knew time was very short and I had to go but also knew I needed my gear!

In my dream, I thought of how I had just purchased several thousands of dollars worth of the best survival equipment and supplies and now I couldn’t find any of it!

I ended up having to leave without any of the necessary equipment or supplies I had spent so much time, money and effort to acquire.  The level of frustration I felt was off the charts!

After evaluating my dream, I made the commitment to review how my preps are stored.  Even though in reality, my preps are pretty well organized, I still felt the need to analyze my storage systems and refine some of my plans.

Organizing

As I’ve matured as a prepper, and my stockpiles have grown larger and more diverse, I’ve had to get creative.  Here are a few techniques that I’ve employed that you might find useful:

1)  Always use storage space efficiently.  Think: Volume, footprint, weight, redundancy, shelf life, and frequency of use.  The most frequently used items should be most close at hand.  For example: Extra laundry detergent is stored right in our laundry room just a couple of steps from our washing machine. (Yes, we also have a manual washer, and a wringer.)

2)  If you can’t see it, or at least see it on a list that mentions its location, then your will end up forgetting you have something.  That can lead to needless redundancy or worse yet, using up new stock before you use older stock.

3)  Take a “kits” approach.  I’ve found that it is best to group items with related items.  Most importantly, group tools with other items that are most commonly used together.  For example, all of our car camping items are grouped together.  Likewise, most of our gunsmithing tools are stored together.  And all of our cold weather clothing and camping gear is store in a cluster of just a few bins. Each bin is clearly labelled, and they are all stacked contiguously.  Most of our fence tools and related consumables are stored together.  (Fence pliers, tensioner, galvanized wire, fence clips, T-post driver, and a pair of gloves.)

4)  There is no need to store repair manuals and spare parts items right with the equipment itself, if that equipment is used mostly at home.  However, it is important to keep a central repository of repair and maintenance manuals, so that they don’t get misplaced.  In my experience it is wise to keep the original receipts for equipment paper-clipped of stapled inside of each user manual.  That could facilitate a later warranty or insurance claim, without wasting valuable time hunting for them.

5)  If you have a camping trailer or RV, then build a separate binder of manuals, warranty information, and receipts.  (A binder with clear 8.5″ x 11″ document protectors works great.)  Keep that binder onboard for reference when you travel.

6)  Some redundancy is needed, especially for mobile equipment.  For example, nearly every vehicle will need its own town chain (or tow strap), jumper cables, and can of starting fluid.  Without that redundancy, you’ll end up needing something and then realizing that it is stored with your other vehicle, which is miles away.

7)  Think vertically for storage, but try to stow the most often used items between knee height and shoulder height.

8)  Never store heat sensitive items near the ceiling.  Keep them low in the room.

9)  For gun collections, use 3″x5″ cards for recording serial numbers and descriptions.  Lists get out of date too quickly, but note cards are inherently efficient.

10)  Don’t acquire additional farm machinery or ATVs until you have first built weatherproof storage spaces to keep them safe from the elements.

11)  Never store flammables indoors.  It is best to have a dedicated outdoor shed for paint, stains, and assorted POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants).

12)  Color coding works!  The color of container used–or the color of label used makes for quick reference.  For example, when organizing your ammunition cans, use one color for the labels for shotgun shells, and contrasting colors for rifle and pistol ammunition.

13) Never store anything aromatic in proximity to bulk foods.  There is nothing quite like eating soap-flavored rice.

14)  A “cool, dark place” is good for most items, but also be sure to rig adequate lighting so that you can see what you have stored, at the flick of a switch.

Some Trial and Error

You may have heard the quote, “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.”  I please guilty to that.  Through many years of trial and error, I’ve learned a few lessons:

 1)  Use first-in, first out (FIFO) rotation of any items with a shelf life.  Special FIFO shelving can be helpful for that.  I once found a full case of peanut butter that had been tucked away out of sight and forgotten for nine years.  It is sad finding expensive food that must then be repurposed for animal feed, fuel, or composted into fertilizer!

2)  Unless you are storing very light foodstuffs (such as onion flakes) don’t stack HDPE storage buckets more than four buckets high, if they are equipped with Gamma Seal lids.  They simply can’t take any more weight than that.  However, buckets with standard lids can be up to stacked six buckets deep, for all but the heaviest grains.

3)  Always keep mice and rats in mind.  The ability of mice to squeeze through small apertures is amazing.  And once they’ve found something that smells good, their persistence at chewing through obstacles is phenomenal.

4)  If in doubt, print label text larger rather than smaller.  This is particularly important in any dimly-lit storage spaces.

5)  Label every container in your storage spaces.  Having any “mystery boxes” or stuff sacks is a huge waste of time.

Learn from the experience of others – you don’t want to experience in real life anything similar to my dream.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Is Insanity the Rule of the Day?

We’ve all heard the common laymen’s definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  By this definition, I’m definitely insane!

I don’t think I’m alone in this but there are many aspects of my life where I’m trying to improve and do better but I don’t change the underlying principals or actions that end up leading me right down the same old path to failure.  I keep telling myself, “This time it will be different – I’m really serious and focused this time” but I fail to change the basic behavior that is at the root of my discontent.

This definition not only applies to each of us as individuals but equally applies to groups, associations, organizations, companies and yes, even countries.  The phrase, “History repeats itself” was penned as a result of this very principal.  Year after year, decade after decade and century after century this seemingly simple principle is repeated in countries throughout the world.

History books are full of stories about countries creating governments and implementing policies that have proven to fail in the past but nevertheless, this time will be different.  But guess what, it never is.  Sure there may be slight differences in how certain economic policies are implemented but the end result is always the same – failure.

We are currently seeing yet one more example of failed economic policies being played out in Venezuela.  Your heart goes out to the desperate citizens of that country who are in a fight for their very lives.  They are starving to death.  With the current inflation rate of over 60,000%, IMF economists are predicting Venezuela’s inflation rate could exceed 1,000,000% this year and the leaders of the country are grasping at straws in an attempt to resolve these overwhelming issues.

It now requires stacks of bills (bolivars) to purchase just a roll of toilet paper.  There’s probably more paper in the stack of bills than in the roll of toilet paper.  One might be better off just using the bolivars as toilet paper for they are worth less.

Stories of using wheelbarrows to carry all the bolivars necessary to purchase just a few items are common.  But this story isn’t a new one.  There are many stories of similar circumstances due to hyper-inflation.  In Zimbabwe, due to hyper-inflation, it cost 100 Trillion Zimbabwe dollars to purchase 3 eggs.  During the 1920’s, the Weimar Republic in Germany experienced a similar financial implosion when the German Mark became almost worthless.  Take a look at this chart at how quickly things got out of control.

The current exchange rate in Venezuela is about 250,000 bolivars per U.S. dollar.  In an attempt to somehow get control over this debilitating issue, the government has just announced they are devaluing the bolivar by some 95% and will attempt to peg it to the governments proposed cryptocurrency, the “petro”.  This pushes the exchange rate to over 6,000,000 bolivars per U.S. dollar.

Seriously??  We all know where this is going to end up – total financial collapse and a bankrupt country.  Unfortunately, there are millions of innocent citizens who will bear the brunt of this financial disaster.

The underlying lesson to be learned here is that we cannot afford to rely on politicians and governments to provide for our needs or guarantee a life of prosperity or even basic survival.  This is a lesson that has been taught throughout the centuries but very few learn from the mistakes of the past.

In addition, it’s all too easy to rationalize that such things could never happen here.  Our country is too big to fail.  We are the financial anchor of the world with the dollar being used as the international reserve currency.  Things might get a little tough but we’ll never fail, right?

Remember the definition of insanity.  Is our country doing the same things over and over expecting a different result?  Are we repeating and implementing failed practices of other countries throughout the world?  Are we moving forward with the attitude that “this time things will be different”?

It doesn’t take long reading and watching the news to realize that’s exactly what we’re doing.  Our “beloved” politicians continue to try and please the masses (so they can keep their jobs) with financial plans and programs that we absolutely cannot afford and that will lead us to destruction.

I have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic.  The definition of insanity we’ve been discussing was the pattern of his life.  Indeed, he knew he needed to make the hard decisions and take the actions to start down the road to recovery but he initially wasn’t willing to learn from the experience of others.  He had his own plan which was unfortunately just repeating his feeble efforts to cut down on his drinking, but it never worked.

He saw himself as someone different – unlike all the other alcoholics.  In his mind, his circumstances were unique and he saw himself with will power and abilities others didn’t have.  Unfortunately, it was all just in his mind.  He wasn’t different.  To begin the healing and recovery process, he had to admit it and be willing to do the difficult and often painful things to turn his life around.

That’s one of the biggest problems with this whole insanity thing – most of us are not willing to do the difficult and painful things that will change our lives for the better.

Let’s face it, there’s very little, if anything we personally can do that will keep our country from heading down the path of financial ruin.  We are so far beyond the stage of bankruptcy (base on the definition you and I know and understand) that to turn this ship around and pay off our debts is nowhere near reality.

The only way these overwhelming financial issues can be corrected is through a major reset.  And such a reset will create a monumental hardship for us all.  It’s no longer a question of “IF”, but “WHEN”.  And we will not be receiving much of a warning as to when it will all hit the fan.

When we’re finally ready to embrace the idea that our country cannot continue to go down the financial path we’re on, then we’re in a position to do something about it.  Since we can’t change the direction our government is taking us, we need to focus on the direction we’re taking our own families.

We need to earnestly prepare for the day when our precious dollar may be worthless.  How will we feed our families?  How will we provide for their needs?  Where will we live?  How can we survive?

Please take the time now to create a survival game plan for you and your family.  The need has never been greater.  The day will come, sooner rather than later, that you will be so very grateful you did!  Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into the ease of complacency.  Don’t allow the consequences of insane behavior to jeopardize your family’s future.  Be willing to do the difficult and painful things now for the sake of your loved ones.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Are You Covered?

I must admit, a few years ago when I first learned that the Affordable Care Act was to include pre-existing conditions, I thought – this really isn’t insurance.  If it’s not required that one prepare BEFORE the medical need arises, one could wait until there’s a medical problem and then have the government pay for it.  Seems like an upside-down world to me.

It’s kind of like trying to get auto insurance after you’re in an accident or home owners insurance after your home burns to the ground – life just doesn’t work that way.

But then I started thinking about how great this approach would be for food storage.  Since food storage is really nothing more than food insurance – providing coverage in the event food isn’t available at the grocery store – when I need it, is there a plan where the government would just provide it?

I think we all know the answer to that question.  The government will not save us in time of need.  We need to be personally prepared to feed our families and loved ones in the event of a collapse.

I really like the idea of thinking of our food storage as food insurance.  These days, you can buy insurance on pretty much anything, from smartphones to cars to vacations. When you buy insurance, you agree to pay a certain amount of money, whether in the form of a lump sum or as semi-frequent payments, to a company that agrees to give you money should there be damage to whatever you insure.

This is the popular way of ensuring our possessions and even ourselves (think health and life insurance). You hope that you never need to cash in on your insurance, but you’re very happy that you have it when you do.

However, many people don’t realize that there are a number of other ways you can insure yourself and your possessions besides making payments to an insurance company.  What if there was another way to insure yourself that was a bit more proactive?  Well, you’re in luck – there is!  It’s called being a Prepper.

What is a Prepper?

While the pop culture view of Preppers paints a picture of someone who is hiding in a cave paranoid about an impending doomsday event, most Preppers would find this to be highly inaccurate.  Although there are certainly people who are concerned with an apocalyptic disaster, many Preppers are more concerned with being able to deal with day to day issues or larger scale natural disasters, power outages, or the like (common sense stuff to most Preppers).

As was just mentioned, it’s pretty difficult to describe all preppers in a single, concise, definition. However, most preppers are just like you and me, who have seen or heard about disasters, like a house fire or earthquake, and have thus taken steps to be more prepared to deal with such a situation, should it happen again.

We might all have different reasons for being Preppers, but fundamentally, all Preppers want to be prepared for something.  Generally, Preppers make sure they have the tools, supplies, training, and knowledge to deal with a multitude of situations, but the specifics of these things will vary from person to person.

Prepping as a form of insurance

Think about this – when you’re a Prepper, you make sure you have the right tools, supplies, training, and knowledge to deal with a variety of situations.  Instead of giving your money to a company who promises to help you out financially in the aftermath of an emergency or disaster, being a prepper is a more proactive form of insurance. If you buy supplies and tools and invest in your own training and knowledge, you’re setting yourself up to better respond to an emergency that affects you, your family, or your friends.

Sure, this doesn’t necessarily replace the need to financially insure you or your possessions, but it does help you and your family be better prepared to react appropriately to emergency situations. Plus, while traditional insurance is really only helpful after something happens, being a prepper means you can deal with a situation while it’s happening.

How to start prepping

Although prepping is often considered a fringe activity, it’s really just about making sure you can handle many of the emergencies that can come your way.  It’s important for everyone to consider what can happen where they live and how they might best be able to address these situations.  To start prepping, considering the following things:

1)  Your current situation is (i.e. if you have a family, where you live, what your financial life is like, and what possessions you have)

2)  What kinds of emergencies are most likely to affect you, such as a hurricane, snow storm, earthquake, or more

3)  What you would need to do to protect or prepare yourself, your family, and your possessions from these potential emergencies.

Once you understand what your assets are and what potential threats they face, you can start to consider what you might need to do to protect your assets (including family). Every Prepper – and every Prepper’s strategy – is different.  Thus, it’s important to figure out what your unique needs are so you can formulate your own action plan.

Now, you can start to think about your next steps, which are to determine what you need to do to create your own ‘prepper insurance plan’.

Prepper essentials

Becoming a prepper doesn’t have to be difficult. You can make things as simple or complex as you like. But, at the end of the day, most preppers will generally have the following things in some capacity:

    Emergency supplies at home

A solid every day carry kit

A bug out bag

With these three ‘systems’ you can be prepared to deal with minor day-to-day happenings, large-scale disasters, and short-notice evacuations of your home.

The best part about these three prepper essentials? They’re customizable to best meet your needs. Instead of purchasing a premade bug out bag or emergency supply kit, you can make your own so that you have everything you need and nothing that you don’t.

Plus, many of the things that you include in these kits are multi-purpose by design, so you can also use them for fun activities, like hiking or camping.

The Verdict

At the end of the day, being a Prepper is about being prepared.  Whether you’re prepared to deal with minor cuts and scrapes at a soccer game or you’re ready to hunker down at home for four days during a blizzard because you made a great emergency supply store, prepping can be a fantastic form of insurance.

While prepping might not result in a large insurance payout, prepping can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you can reasonably handle what’s thrown your way.  Instead of waiting for a check after a disaster, you can go into any situation prepared with the right kit, knowledge, and skills to stay reasonably safe and happy given the circumstances.

We all have assets that should be protected, and being proactive and prepared is one of the best ways to insure yourself during an emergency!

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Spice Up Your Life

I took a call the other day from a gentleman who was concerned about the sodium levels in the entrees of his food storage.  He had heart problems and his doctor had put him on a very restrictive diet that included low amounts of sodium.

He wanted to know if it was possible to order food storage that had little or no sodium added.  The answer was both “yes” and “no”.

Now before I get into the details of my answer, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit I’m a salt-aholic and proud of it.  I’m not trying to overcome it and have no desire to be a “recovering” salt-aholic.

My wife is convinced it will be the death of me and at one point in our marriage, in an attempt to appease her; I went off salt for about three months.  I was promised that over time, the natural flavor of food would become more pronounced and I wouldn’t crave salt as I had before.

Guess what – it never happened.  I never got to the point where I didn’t feel the food I ate would have tasted so much better with a little salt.  So I eventually went back to associating with my life-long friend, salt.

It’s interesting to note, the latest medical studies now show that sodium or salt isn’t such a bad thing.  It’s funny how these medical studies seem to constantly change how we think about things like cholesterol, fats, sugar and salt.

Anyway, back to the sodium question.  Let’s address the “no” first.  Every single food storage entrée has sodium added.  Why?  It’s really very simple – salt is a flavor enhancer.  Every food storage company wants their entrees to taste as delicious as possible so sodium, or salt will be added.

There is a delicate balance that most companies try to reach – that of enough salt to enhance the flavor but not so much as to raise the sodium levels to a concerning amount for some.

May I make a side note here?  Far too often, individuals confuse food storage with groceries.  They are not the same.  Food storage is for survival when there are no other options on how to feed your family.  I’m totally on board with individuals who want to purchase groceries that are organic, low fat, low sodium or whatever their dietary choices are.  Everyone should have the freedom under normal circumstances to eat the type of foods they choose.  But when it comes to survival, all of that gets thrown out the window.

There are countless stories and examples of people who due to war or famine, are placed in a survival environment with very little or no food.  When food is finally secured, the last thing on their minds is whether the food is organic or what the sodium levels are.  In fact, salt and fat are craved and desperately needed by the body to survive.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to totally ignore all your current eating preferences.  It does mean, however you may need to be flexible, understanding that your daily routine and environment may be totally different when the time comes you need to rely on your food storage.

So trying to duplicate your day to day eating preferences with your food storage won’t be easy and possibly shouldn’t be your goal.  Not that one shouldn’t try, it’s just going to require a lot more effort and cost than most folks are expecting and in some cases, may not be possible.

Now let’s address the “yes” part of the answer.  If one is very sensitive to sodium, then simply avoid the entrees.  You’ll need to purchase all your food storage al a carte.

If you purchase individual fruits, vegetables, grains and meat, these items will have very little or no sodium added.  Then one can add whatever seasoning they’d like to flavor their food.  Now this begs the question – is flavoring even necessary?  From my perspective – absolutely!

Especially if you have a lot of bulk grains and basic food storage items, if you want to keep the troops happy, you’ll need to be prepared to season your food.

Not having seasonings and spices on hand is one of the most overlooked items in food storage.  Many people build up their food storage and plan on eating a lot of rice, potatoes, and pasta, but they do not think about what they are going to do to make it taste better.  Eating rice is good; eating rice for days on end without seasoning becomes very, very boring and monotonous.

Most food storage plans do not offer additional seasoning packages as the entrees are already seasoned.  Therefore, you should plan on stockpiling as much additional seasoning as you can as it will become extremely important when the time comes to use your food storage.

Here’s a list you may want to consider.  You may keep different things depending on your tastes and cooking preferences.

1)  Salt – Yep, salt.  I don’t believe you can have too much salt.  Salt has an indeterminate shelf life and will help you keep the appropriate sodium levels when you are working hard and sweating more. I keep Kosher salt, sea salt, pickling salt, and table salt on hand.

2)  Black Pepper – Keep coarse ground black pepper on hand as well as peppercorns to grind and for canning.

3)  Chili Powder

4)  Cumin

5)  Onion Powder and Dehydrated Onions

6)  Dried Parsley

7)  Dried Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Bay Leaves, Dill Weed

8)  Garlic Powder and Garlic Salt

9)  Cinnamon

10)  Allspice

11)  Nutmeg

12)  Ground Ginger

13)  Italian Seasoning

14)  Pumpkin Pie Seasoning

15)  Seasoning Salt

16)  Steak Seasoning

17)  Paprika

18)  Ranch Seasoning

And any other seasoning you may currently like and use.  Seasonings take up very little space and typically have a great shelf life so spice up your life and be sure and store plenty of seasonings.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Stranded With No Preps

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating category 5 hurricanes in U.S. history hit the coast of Louisiana.  Its 175 mph winds and resulting flooding was the cause of over 1,200 fatalities and created $125 billion in damage.

My son and I had an extraordinary learning experience during Katrina in that we were in the New Orleans area when the hurricane hit.  We had made travel plans several weeks before the hurricane formed and intended on attending a real estate auction while there.

We’ve all heard the expression, “You never know how much someone means until they’re gone”.  There’s also a variation, “You don’t know how much it means to you until it’s taken away”.  A simple example of this is one’s health.  It may be taken for granted until it’s taken away when one is very ill.

My son and I had this type of experience in that we are very well prepared at home but we were more than a thousand miles away from our home and had to deal with Katrina totally without the security of our emergency preps.  Many valuable lessons were learned.  Here is an excerpt from my journal on what we experienced the day Katrina hit:

“Monday morning, August 29th, we woke up early and immediately turned on the TV to get the latest on Katrina. It was really pretty scary. Katrina had developed into a category 5 hurricane and was just beginning to pound New Orleans – right where we had just escaped from just a day and a half earlier.

There was a light rain outside but what really caught our eye was the way the clouds were moving. I have never seen clouds like that before. They were swirling around so fast, twisting sometimes in smaller circles inside of larger ones and coming closer to the ground than I had expected.

We were still determined to take care of business and planned on attending an auction that morning. On our way to the courthouse, we felt impressed to fill our tank – just in case. We still didn’t think we would be affected much by Katrina. We assumed it would die out or go off in another direction.

We hadn’t been at the courthouse more than an hour when they told us to evacuate, that the hurricane was headed right for us. I feel kind of stupid saying this now, but we were really kind of excited. We thought this was going to be just a fun adventure. Having never experienced a hurricane before, we were anxious to see what it would be like. I remember laughing as we ran to our car because it was raining so hard, it seriously felt like buckets of warm water were being poured on us.

We drove back to our hotel and turned on the TV. We were told that an area wide curfew would go into effect at noon. I looked at my watch and realized we had only about 30 minutes before the curfew and we had no food, water or supplies of any kind.

We decided to try and find a place to buy some food and water before it was too late. As soon as we left the hotel, all the power went out in the entire area. All the stores were closed. We could not find a single place to purchase anything.

As we were returning to our hotel, I noticed a gas station with several cars parked out front. It looked like there were people inside the little mini mart and I could see that the door was open. We immediately pulled in and I ran inside to find several people buying up everything they could. They had to have cash since the power was off.

I was immediately struck with the negative, dark side of not being prepared. I wasn’t the least bit concerned about anyone else but me and mine. The thought of sharing with others was the last thing on my mind. It’s terrible to say but I was ready to even get physical if necessary to get what we needed.

They had one of those little food bars with potato logs and fried chicken, etc. I bought everything I could (there wasn’t much left) along with several bottles of water and Gatorade. I luckily had enough cash in my pocket to cover the cost. After I paid for the food we headed back to the hotel and rationed out the food, not knowing how long it would be before we could get more.

After rationing out our food back at the hotel, we were left to sit and wait for the hurricane to hit. Without power, there was little else to do other than read. We sat in a dimly lit room, waiting for Katrina to hit, reading a line or two and then looking out the window, waiting for the unknown.

We couldn’t take it any longer. We wanted to really experience Katrina! So we got in our car and pulled out into an open area of the hotel parking lot and parked right in the middle of it all. We wanted to see what it felt like (crazy, I know). At least in the car we could turn on the radio and hear what was going on.

The winds started really picking up, approaching 100 mph. It was really a rush to feel the car shake and see the trees whipping back and forth. We even took turns jumping out of the car and trying to stand in the storm – it was really wild!

Then things started getting worse. We saw trees uprooted. We saw part of the roof of the hotel next to us blow off. We saw windows shatter. We saw pieces of metal go flying through the air and one of them go right through a parked car. We saw billboards and signs rip apart and fly through the air. Branches from trees and debris were flying everywhere. It got pretty spooky!

The only radio channel we could get was a small local station and they kept fading in and out. One thing I never knew, hurricanes set off multiple small tornadoes as they rip through an area. The radio station kept reporting all these tornadoes being set off all around us.

We were determined to ride it out and stayed in the car for several hours until the main part of the hurricane had passed over us. Our curiosity then got the best of us and we wanted to see the damage that was done around us, so we started driving around. It was really eerie because we were the only people out and about. I guess everyone else was smart and stayed indoors (actually, the curfew was still in effect and I guess we were breaking the law).

The damage was simply unbelievable! Very few buildings or homes were unaffected. Debris was everywhere which made it difficult to move about. We quickly realized it was going to take some time to bring things back to normal. We knew we would be without power for many days. We also knew we didn’t have enough food and water to wait for things to return to normal.

We then made a decision that led us to several miracles. We decided to try and drive to Jackson Mississippi, a town about 60 miles west of Meridian, where we hoped to get some supplies to help us survive. It was about 5:00 PM when we took off, once again, the only ones on the road. When we got on the highway we wished we had a 4X4. There were trees and debris all over the road. This made for a very eventful drive to Jackson.”

So much more happened, including several miracles that made it possible for us to escape the devastation of Katrina.  I’ll share more with you in additional blogs.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Don’t Get Sappy

I have many fond memories of our family cabin high in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico.  It was a fairly rustic cabin with no utilities or water and an outhouse behind the cabin.  We would have to haul water up with us when we stayed there and would use Coleman lanterns for light when it got dark.  My mom would cook on a wood burning stove and we had a Franklin wood burning stove in the main room we would fire up if it got a little chilly.

We had a number of wonderful family traditions associated with the cabin, including one I wasn’t too fond of.  When we’d stay for several days and we needed a bath, we’d use a wash tub and all take turns sharing the same water.  Having eight kids, you can imagine how dirty that water got by the time the last of us got our turn.

I’m sure most of us have special family traditions especially around the holiday season.  It’s pretty common to exchange gifts with neighborhood families around Christmas time.  Usually they’re small, inexpensive gifts, many of which are homemade treats.

Growing up, we had a very special neighbor gift tradition that with today’s prices would be equivalent to about $80 per family.  It involved harvesting Christmas trees up near our cabin and giving as our neighbor gift, Christmas trees to each of our neighbors.

Usually around mid-November, we’d take a truck and trailer up to the cabin with the intent of harvesting around 25 Christmas trees.  We’d stop at the Forest Service station and purchase permits for the trees – they cost us a whopping fifty cents per tree!

Not every tree was meant for our neighbors.  My mom was quite the Christmas fanatic.  She loved all the decorations, music, lights and smells and treats of Christmas and we’d usually end up with a Christmas tree in every room of the house.  Since these were very fresh trees, we never had to water them and they’d look and feel fresh for several months.  No dried up needles falling off these trees.

When we got to the cabin, there was usually six to eight inches of snow on the ground so we’d have to bundle up to keep warm as most of us kids liked to ride in the back of the pickup while we were looking the best trees.  I remember my dad using a keyhole saw to cut down the trees and he would have us boys drag the trees to the truck.

The smell of freshly cut pine trees is such a wonderful smell that to this day, it takes me back to those memorable days of my youth.

My brother and I didn’t have work gloves and when our winter gloves got wet from the snow, we’d usually just take them off as we’d drag the trees to the truck.  It would usually take us four or five hours to find and cut down all the trees we’d purchased permits for and by then, our hands were totally covered with tree sap.

Even though the smell was great, the stickiness of the sap was terrible to deal with.  Sometimes, our fingers would stick together almost like they were super-glued.  And for those of you who have never had the pleasure of having your hands covered in tree sap – it doesn’t wash off!

We would scrub our hands with soup and water to no avail.  That sap was there for the duration.  We discovered the only relief to the stickiness was to rub our hands in the dirt.  Fine, dusty dirt worked the best.  It would stick to the tree sap like talcum powder and we were temporally sticky free.  Problem was, it made our hands look all the worse.

In addition to washing, we literally had to wait for the sap to wear off to finally get rid of the problem.  I was reminded of this when I came across a brief article about the benefits of pine sap.  Knowing how to use tree sap can be a real aid in being prepared.  Here’s some of the article:

THE MANY SURVIVAL USES OF PINE SAP

Have you ever wondered while camping how long you’d survive off of the land with little to no help? What would you eat? What would do you do to stay warm? What would you with an injury? Believe it or not, there are plenty of plants and resources that you can utilize in the wild that’ll help you survive. Today we are going to talk about the many uses of pine sap.

Did you know that the word pine or pinus means resin in Latin?

Pine trees secrete resin in their bark as a defense mechanism to close wounds from insects and other elements that they are faced with. The pine sap provides a protective hard sealant that allows the injury to heal with little interference.

THINK OF PINE SAP AS MOTHER NATURE’S BAND -AID

Because pine sap is a sticky amber glob that hardens, it’ll keep germs out, boost cell immunity and act as an anti-inflammatory on open wounds. Make sure that you properly clean or flush the area before applying pine sap.

COUGH MEDICINE & CHEWING GUM

Since pine sap is a natural antibacterial, it will stop coughing, slowly kill bacterial infections, and improve breathing when sick.

Did you know that physicians in colonial America recommended pine resin mixed with water as a remedy for ulcers, smallpox, and syphilis?

Pine sap is also edible and has been used as “gum” for hundreds of years. The great thing is it’s quick and easy to make. Simply mix pine sap, beeswax, and honey and voila! You now have something to chew on.

PINE SAP FIRE STARTER

Pine trees are one of the best trees to find in the wilderness when it comes to survival. Not only are the dried pine needles great for fires but the pine sap (sometimes known as pine pitch) is flammable and burns very well. Pine sap has been used to make candles, light sticks and just normal fires.

WATERPROOF & PATCH HOLES WITH PINE SAP

Pine sap is naturally water resistant and can be used to repair holes in tents, tarps, boots, canoes and containers. The pine pitch needs to first be heated to a liquid form (not directly over a fire since it is very flammable!) and mixed in with powdered charcoals before applying to the item you’re trying to repair.

Our ancestors have been re-purposing pine trees for thousands of years and we need to share their knowledge with future generations. Whether it be survival, medicinal or for personal uses, we still need to be generous with what we take. First look for pine trees that are damaged or have broken limbs. If there are none, be careful when extracting pine sap.

Sources
https://survivalsherpa.wordpress.com…self-reliance/
https://www.leaf.tv/articles/medical…e-resin-pitch/

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry