Bee Plants

I believe it was Albert Einstein who said that without bees, the human species would go extinct within four years.

Honeybees are so essential to our entire food supply and they’re dying off in scary numbers. Between colony collapse and sheer lack of food, our honeybees are disappearing. In my city, we can’t own bees without a whole lot of paper work and fees and inspections etc, etc, so I decided to dedicate part of my garden to bee friendly plants.

Since I live in Canada, I can be somewhat limited to what plants will live here. This year the weather has been especially all over the place (to the point where several people I know had their furnaces on last night, almost a full week into June) and I’ve only seen two honeybees in my yard. But here’s a quick list of what I’ve planted that my local bees seem to love.

Lavender – I have several lavender plants that I used to use for my soap business but even when I harvest, I leave several stalks that are constantly visited by our bees.

Bee balm – (monarda) produces amazing spiky flowers and is always surrounded by bees.

Strawberries – although I don’t grow these specifically for the bees, the flowers bloom fairly early and give the bees something to pollinate before the other plants show up.

Clover – I have a small piece of the property that isn’t maintained and it is crawling with clover. Anytime I pull up clover from any other part of the lawn, I throw it there to help seed it. I’m sure we’ve all heard of clover honey?

Lilac – although this plant belongs to one of the neighbors and not me, I stay away from it because its surrounded by bees while in bloom.

 

Most of these plants are fairly hardy regardless of where you are in North America, so consider placing some of them on your land. We all need bees. Please try to avoid commercial insecticides as well and try a natural alternative such as companion planting, soapy water or manual pest removal.

Check out this book:100 Plants to Feed the Bees

Making Money From Home

This is one of the most popular questions I get. How to make money from home so you can homestead or prep more or just feel safer in general. There are several ways, some of which I use myself, some that make minimal money and some that can make exponentially more. Let’s get started.

-Start a home business. In this day in age, just about anyone can start an online business from selling products like I do, to providing consulting, making websites or writing. Find something you like to do!

-Sell on ebay, etsy or craigslist. Many people have things laying around that they no longer need but don’t necessarily want to get rid of. Why not make a little bit of extra money for your clutter? I have a friend that sells her children’s outgrown clothes by the bag online and she makes a killing.

-Maintenance. Mow lawns, shovel snow, paint houses, whatever you can. This may seem juvenile but you can really make quite a bit of money helping out elderly neighbors or people with young kids that don’t have the time themselves.

-Pet sitting. Like animals? You can offer your services as a pet sitter on websites such as craigslist but it will look much more professional to design a website. Put up signs in pet stores, at your vet and in grocery stores in your area.

-Metal scrapping. In my city, several people drive around on garbage days, taking metal objects out of the trash, this may or may not be legal where you are so be careful, and please don’t steal, but scrap metal can pull in quite a bit of extra funds. Don’t want to drive around? Place a free ad online or in your local paper for free junk metal removal

-Online surveys. This is something I’ve been doing for years. You do have to be careful as some survey companies are pretty shifty but once you find the good ones, stick with them and build up your points. Most survey companies pay out via cheque or PayPal. I generally make a couple hundred dollars a year and cash out around the winter holidays. Not much, I know, but if you’re online anyways, its not a bad way to kill some time.

Have something that works for you? Be sure to share it in the comments!

 

Newsprint and the Prepper

I use newsprint for  a lot of projects around the house. We get two sets of advertisements and local news once a week and it adds up to a lot of paper. Over the summer I use this paper to start fires but here are three things I do with it in the other seasons.

1.) Shred: I save my flyers for about a month and then spend an hour shredding them (by hand). I keep my shreds in a tupper bin until the summer time when I make them into paper bricks for the fire. I got my paper brick maker from Lehmans (www.lehmans.com) This is an easy and free way to have heat and cooking material.

2.) Spread: Once spring comes and I re-dig my garden beds, I spread newsprint on the bottom. This keeps the weeds to a minimum by suffocating them. By the time the papers disintegrate, the weeds have been killed. I usually do a layer about 3 sheets of newsprint thick.

3.) Seed: I use newsprint to make little pots for starting my seeds. There are little gadgets you can get to help you do this (check here). They stand up fairly easy in my mini greenhouse and the roots have no trouble pushing their way through the wet paper. You can take the whole pot and put it in the ground as is.

 

Food Storage Bug Out Bin

My food storage is mostly on shelves. But I do have the typical 5 gallon buckets full of food as well. The buckets stay with my food storage and are filled with pasta, rice, beans, and a variety of foods all mixed in separate bags. This way, if I need to move my food storage, I can grab the buckets and not be stuck eating 100 lbs of flour.

But, if I need to bug out in a hurry and can’t get to my food storage, I keep a heavy duty Rubbermaid bin with my bug out bags. It weighs about 30 lbs and is easily grabbed to throw into the car and go. We all have various food items and MREs in our bags, but this is just something a little extra.

It contains rice, pasta, sugar, tea (can’t live without tea!), fruit, granola bars, fruit snacks for the kids, a variety of spices, water purification tablets, and anything else I wanted to add. Again, this is separate from my bug out bags and wouldn’t do me any good to grab on its own and contains mostly doubles of my bug out bag and food storage.

Its a good idea to keep a little bit of your food storage separate like this, just in case. Your basement could flood, you could be cut off from the rest of your house, you might have one minute to grab the kids and get out or, if your food storage was raided, most people aren’t going to check a storage bin that’s kept completely away from the rest of the food. Give it some thought and see if it works for you.

Dehydrating Turnip

wash and dry

Turnips, along with most other root vegetables, are fairly cheap and easy to dehydrate. This time of year, they are very easy to find and usually on sale.

Wash and peel your turnips

peel

Slice into thin pieces, the easiest way to do this is to use a mandolin slicer.
You can then blanch them (I don’t blanch my turnips) and then place them on your trays.

chips!

I leave them on overnight at 125′ F to make turnip chips. You can eat these as is. They are great with dips as well. Or you can rehydrate them and use them as you would fresh turnips.

Prepping Presents for Non-Preppers

We all have people we know that don’t prep, won’t prep, haven’t heard of prepping  or you just can’t bring it up.

No worries, here’s some sneaky gifts to prepare them without their knowing.

-flashlights (children especially like these)

-preassembled emergency kits, because you care!

-meals in jars, this is a cheap easy way to make sure they have some food in the house, look for recipes on google (try mixes, soups etc)

-knives or weapons for the manly men out there

-candles… so easy! most women love them and you can decorate a box of matches to go with it!

-books books books!! try food preservation for those who love cooking, homesteading for the gardeners, manuals for crafty people

-gift cards for stores such as bass pro or cabelas

-jars of jams and jellies, be sure to include the recipe so they can make some too!

you can even get them board games, card etc to help with boredom if they were to encounter an emergency.

This obviously is just a short list, but hopefully it will give you some ideas to secretly help your loved ones be a little more prepared.

 

Car Kits

Its that time of year again and several people are hitting the roads to visit friends and family for the holidays.

While the holidays can be hectic, this is also the time the weather can get nasty. Its no time to forget about emergency preparedness. About two years ago, several cars were stuck on a local highway here for about three days due to the excessive snow. The people were cold, hungry and unfortunately some people did pass away.

I recommend keeping a kit in the car just in case. Some simple items can save your life.

spread kit

In the kit I have:

basic first aid supplies (gloves, bandages, alcohol swabs, etc)

a wind up radio with extra batteries so I don’t kill the car battery

some easy foods(granola bars, tuna, fruit salad for the kids)

manual can opener

hand warmers (these can be put in your sweater if needed)

a survival blanket (easy, compact way to keep warm, can also be used to signal for help due to shine)

a mini camp stove to cook with (please don’t use inside the car!!)

hand sanitizer (both for hygiene and as a de-icer)

light sticks (comfort item for children, can be used to signal)

book for entertainment

garbage bags (hygiene… when there’s no toilet…. )

a zip bag of cat litter – for a few reasons. Cat litter can help your tires to gain traction if stuck on ice, but I keep my car kit in a cat litter bucket. This is because my car keeps getting broken into and everything gets stolen. No one has stolen my “cat litter”. They did once open the lid and this is what they saw:

covert kit

a bucket of cat litter… not really worth stealing. But underneath that sneaky cat litter, lays the real prize.

packed kit

This kit is light weight (about 7 lbs) so can be carried if you have to leave your vehicle.

Some additional things to keep in your car at all times are: basic tools (tire iron, jack and jumper cables and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM!), a case of bottled water (do not eat snow, it will lower your body temperature, let it melt first if you have no water) and a weapon that you are comfortable using.

All that aside, please take your time going where you need to go, don’t drink and drive and be safe!!

One Year Anniversary!

Well folks, its been one year since I started up this blog and I have to say, its been a lot of fun, a lot of headache and a lot of education.

I’m so glad that so many people have found this site and found it useful. I love seeing all the comments that you leave and the emails.

Thank you so much for reading and here’s to another year of Prepper Gal!!!

Reusing your own soap

A lot of us have soap in our stocks, its a great thing to have around. In a SHTF situation, hygiene is paramount. Soap is generally cheap, but here’s a way you can save a bit of money.

I personally owned a soap business so I have a lot of soap scraps around but you can do this using the little slivers that are left at the end of the bar.

Grate or break down your soap into smaller pieces and place them in a bowl.

soap scraps in bowl ready for our next step

Put your bowl over a pot of warm water (double boiler). Do not let the water boil, as this gets your soap too hot. If you are using all bar soap (not glycerine soap) you may have to add a little bit of water to your bowl.

Be careful, the bowl and the soap will get hot. Melt the soap down and mix it together.  When it is all melted, its time to take it off the heat.

Bowl of melted soap

Carefully pour your soap into molds. I have professional molds but this isn’t necessary at all. You can use milk cartons, silicone muffin tins, just about anything. (tip: if you want to make soap for barter or giving away PSHTF, pour your soap into ice cube trays.)

Once your soap is hardened (this can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple of days), take it out of your mold and cut it into desired shapes and sizes. If you’re having trouble getting the soap out, you can pop it into the freezer for ten minutes and let it get cold, it should come out easily after that.

“poc” soap, ready to be wrapped.

It may not be pretty and it may be a blend of a lot of scents, but its soap, its functional and it was free.

To keep your soap for long periods, consider using shrink wrap or putting it into zipper plastic bags. If you used glycerin soap, it may develop a ‘dew’ or ‘sweat’, this is normal and does not affect the function of the soap.

 

Dehydrating Your Own Milk

Let me just say, this isn’t necessarily a recommended practice, do your research (as always) and decide if its for you.

I recently got 6 litres of milk for $1 each and decided to dehydrate them to make my own powdered milk. Most preppers order their powdered milk in #10 cans from various food suppliers in the US, however this is out of my price range and the tariffs Canadians have to pay on dairy are ridiculous.

To dehydrate my milk, first I had to make parchment paper containers to cover the screens in my Excalibur. I did this by cutting a square and folding up all the edges so they folded over themselves and then I stapled it just to be sure. Put the parchment on your screen and pour a small thin layer of 1% milk onto it. (I used 1% aka non fat milk because the more fat, the more likely it is to go rancid.

I cranked my dehydrator to 135′ F and left it over night. About 10 hours later it was ready. The milk turns into a crackly sheet in a sort of yellow color. At this point all you have to do it toss it in a blender or food processor and buzz it up until its a fine powder. Store it in a jar or mylar bag with an oxygen absorber.

To rehydrate, mix it with cold water and shake it until you get all the chunks out.