Tag Archives: Homesteading

Survival Basics: 16 Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home

With the recent proliferation of water shortages caused by wonky weather patterns, finding ways to maximize the water we do have has become a focus of preppers near and far.  That said, in addition to knowing how to find, harvest, purify, and store water, it is important to develop a lifelong habit of conserving water.

The bottom line is that careful water conservation methods will allow you to make the most of limited supplies not only following a disruptive event but also day to day as you learn to make do with what you have during a drought.

Today I share 16 ways to conserve water in in your home.  We’ll begin in the bathroom since interestingly enough, that is where 75% of all household water is used.

16 Tips to Help You Conserve Water

1.  Do not keep the bathroom faucet running.

The faucet at the bathroom sink does not need to be running continuously while you brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave.  You will save between three and five gallons of water each minute your faucet is turned off.  That is a lot of water! Instead, use the stopper on the sink and drain the basin when you are done.

2.  Only flush when needed.

The toilet is not a wastepaper basket for tissues, cotton balls, or other bits of trash.  Even better, flush the solids every single time but alternate flushing the liquids.

The prepper’s motto is ‘yellow, let it mellow’, ‘brown, flush it down’.

3.  Flush using less water.

Most toilets installed before 1980 use 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Toilets installed between 1980 and 1993 use 3.5 gallons per flush. Toilets installed since 1994 use 1.6 gallons.

If you happen to have an older toilet, consider filling a used soda bottle or jar with water and small pebbles or marbles and place it upright in the tank.  This will cut down on the amount of water that flows through the tank with each flush.  Just be careful not to place the bottle where it will jam the flushing mechanism.  Also, make sure you don’t displace so much water that you have to double-flush.

Double flushing wastes more water than you would save.

4.  Check for leaky faucets and toilets.

It is easy to replace worn washers and since a small leak can waste many gallons of water a day, it is well worth the effort to test for leaks now.

The way to test for toilet leaks is to put a few drops of food coloring in the tank to see if the colored water appears in the bowl.  This takes about 10 minutes.  If the water color changes, you have a leak.  Not to worry, though.  Most leaks can be repaired with a kit that you can pick up at your local hardware store or on Amazon.

You can find a lot of information on toilets and toilet repairs at the Toiletology 101 website, including a free course on toilet repairs.

Keep in mind that little leaks can add up quickly.  A faucet drip or invisible toilet leak that totals only two tablespoons a minute comes to 15 gallons a day. That’s 105 gallons a week or 5,460 wasted gallons of water a year.

Are you wondering how long the parts in your toilet tank should last?  The answer is: it depends.  Replaceable parts such as flappers and washers or seals inside the refill valve may last several years. However factors such as water treatment processes, toilet bowl cleaners, and high water pressure can cause parts to disintegrate much sooner. If you touch the flapper and get black “goo” on your hands, the flapper needs to be replaced.

5.  Check for hidden water leaks.

Check for hidden water leaks elsewhere in your home by reading your water meter.  What you do is read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

Read more here…

This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

This article was written by Gaye Levy and can be viewed here:




10 Reasons to Prepare for an Economic Collapse

It was not that long ago that the country of Greece suffered a devastating collapse of their economy.  At the time, there was a lot of blame game going on but, at the end of the day, it was years of irresponsible and unrestrained spending that took them down.  That, coupled with questionable accounting practices and misstated economic indicators left the Greek citizens befuddled and angry when the reality of a depression hit.

Could the same thing happen here?  Not to be depressing but in going through my own thoughts as I answer the question “What am I least prepared for?”, I realized that it was time for a wake-up call and time to re-evaluate my own preps within the context of an economic collapse.

Looking back at what happened during or our own Great Depression, I have come to realize that an economic collapse, if it were to happen, would have the compound effect of combining all woes we so diligently prepare for into one huge mess – a mess that may take decades to resolve.

I worry about this, because, as prepared as I may be, I find it difficult to wrap my head around a mega collapse that will result in food and water shortages, power outages, civil disobedience, medical anarchy, and worse.

A global economic collapse, unlike a natural disaster which, as tragic as it may be, is a short term event, will change our lives forever.

Time for a Wake-Up Call

Back in 2012, Michael Snyder wrote about the lessons we can learn from the financial melt-down in Greece.

At the time, being a prepper in the United States typically branded you as an nut job.  Now that preparedness has become more mainstream, I feel that we should review those lessons and take another look at the ramifications of an economic collapse.

Here are the 10 lessons along with my own thoughts as they might apply to an economic collapse in 2015 and beyond.

10 Reasons Why We Need to Prepare for an Economic Collapse

Read more here…

This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

This article was written by Gaye Levy and can be viewed here:


32 Must Have Prepper Books

MustHavePrepperBooksFor a long time now I have been meaning to post a list of prepper resources. I do have a lot listed our our Resources page, but I hadn’t really spent any time listing the resource books and materials that I recommend. This list below is made of entirely of books I own and have read.

Well, almost all of them have been read. Some like “Emergency War Surgery” keep getting put on the back of the pile, but every other one has been evaluated by me and I believe that these books are a tremendous resource to preppers and survivalists not to mention homesteaders or anyone looking to be more self-sufficient. This to me is just the beginning of your library of must have prepper books.

I wrote a post a while back about the importance of having physical copies of reference material like this for a number of reasons. Without rehashing the entire post, which you can read here, the need for me is simple. If the computers go down, or the electricity is out or they simply stop printing books… you need to have a library of information that you can put your hands on. These books serve me and my family in two ways. First, books like “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it” were foundational. Books like this enabled me to open my eyes and begin to see what I needed to do for my family’s safety. Other books such as “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” sit on the shelf until I want to learn something or have a question.

Below I have listed a great starter library for the average prepper. This will give you both the foundational material as well as the reference should our lives be turned upside down one day. If you can’t get on the internet or make it to the library, you will wish you had books like these to reference when you need it. Even if nothing ever happens, these books are great to have around your house and will always be there if you need them.

I have also added this entire list to my Resources page today so they can sit in one easy to find place.

Survival Manuals – Introduction to concepts

Homesteading / Self Sufficient Skills

Natural Remedies / First Aid

Tactical Methods / Strategies / Security

Fiction – Philosophy – Foreshadowing

This information has been made available by The Prepper Journal

This article was written by Pat Henry at The Prepper Journal.  The original article can be viewed here.  Like them on Facebook while you are there!

Three Quick Tips To Identify Dry Firewood

seasoned-firewood-300x336When you need a fire the most, conditions are often the worst for it.  But if you don’t have properly seasoned wood, building a good fire can be incredibly hard.  Using wet wood to get a fire going will leave you cold and frustrated…regardless of how much effort you put into it.  Even if you do get a fire going (which in a survival situation is better than nothing) your fire will be inefficient and will require much more maintenance to see it through the night.

The reason why it won’t burn is that the water contained in the wood is absorbing the heat, preventing the wood from absorbing enough heat to ignite.

As heat continues to be applied to the wood, the water turns to vapor, absorbing a huge quantity of heat in the process. It isn’t until this process is finished that the hydrocarbon gasses start leaving the wood so that they can then catch fire.

Basically your best bet is to make sure that you have the driest tinder, kindling, and fuel possible.

It’s one thing if you have a cord of wood neatly stacked out in your woodshed, but how do you find dry wood in the wild?

Below are three quick tips you can use in a pinch:

The Snap Method:

The Premise: dry kindling is devoid of a high water content and will snap easily instead of bending.
How To do it: take your smaller bits of kindling no thicker than your thumb and grasp them at both ends.  Pull the ends towards the middle, the kindling should snap in the middle.
What to look for:  twigs, sticks, and other kindling that snaps cleanly and easily is an indicator of dry kindling.How do you know if your fuel is dry?

The Percussion Method:
The Premise: as wood dries out, its acoustical properties change.
How to do it: grab two sample pieces of wood at one end and let them dangle, one from each hand. Swing the bottom ends together, and listen to the sound at impact.
What to look for: dry wood will “ring” or “bonk” when they hit each other. Wet wood, however, will issue a dull thud on impact.

Cracking the code:
The Premise: as fuel wood pieces dry, the wood fiber shrinks, which causes visible radius cracks to open up on the ends of the wood.
How to do it: examine the ends of a sample piece, looking for cracks that radiate from the core to the bark.
What to look for: big, deep radius cracks are a good indicator of well-seasoned wood.
Note: this is the least reliable indicator, as the cracks won’t close back up if the seasoned wood is subsequently allowed to re-absorb rainwater.

I hope you never have to use these methods, but if you’re ever put in a situation where you need them, you’ll be glad to know them.

Have  your own method to tell if your firewood is seasoned?

Share it with us in the comments below.

This article was written by ‘Above Average Joe’ and can be viewed here at Survival Life

About ‘Above Average’ Joe

I am just an average guy with a passion for learning. I am excited to share the things I learn with you but I am most interested in learning from you. Survival Life is more than just one man. It is a growing and living community of individuals; all with the desire to be prepared to survive and thrive no matter what this world throws at us. I look forward to growing with you! Feel free to follow me on google+

What if I had a do-over?

What would I do different if I could or would start over again?Start over doing what exactly?  Some people think I am a prepper, to which I laugh and reply “If I was I would not last much longer than anyone else.”  I’d like to think I have more knowledge than the average suburban dweller, but I am hardly prepared.  Others think I am a farmer, which makes me smile.  Sadly I am not a farmer, but rather a guy who’s hobby is backyard farming. 

Lately I’d like to think of myself as a micro-farmer.  I do a lot of things that I consider are much the same as a real farm, but just on a smaller scale.  The goal is to learn as much as possible, and with a scalable plan, one day make the whole concept larger.  Perhaps that will be the leap into modern homesteading.

How some friends think I live or at least how I must be prepared.

So, what would I do differently?  In a word, go bigger.  In nearly all respects I have expanded, with the only exception being the worm bin.   I suppose I was initially concerned with both time and labor to manage it all, but in the end going bigger with the coop, garden, and greenhouse doesn’t add more to my chores, not significantly anyway.  The only challenge would have been gathering the resources (materials, cash, etc.) and getting the time to build it all.  Remember, chickens are a gateway drug, er animal!

Before I began this journey, I just started with a small garden in a less than ideal location, the north side of wooded edge where Japanese knotweed thrived in a soupy clay soil.  This was my second garden attempt.  The first one was in a great location in terms of sun, but was on the other side of the property, and thus out of sight and out of mind.  Far too often I neglected the chores of watering, weeding , and harvesting and the whole venture just didn’t work.  The present location is straight off the back door about 65 feet away.  I see it every day and so my thought was I would neglect it less, which was true.  But the location was really lousy.

The clay soil was easy to overcome.  With a few bags of good dirt, compost, and time, the soil was the least of the issues.  The shade from the woods was not ideal, but I did manage to grow a few things in three raised beds.  Certainly did not have the bountiful harvests I imagined.  The worst part was my extreme lack of understanding just how resilient Japanese knotweed can be.  Fighting this evil back consumed a lot of my time and resources plus tempted me with all sorts of chemicals in order to remove it.  It took about two years of pulling, choking, and smothering to get rid of it, and yet it still pops up here and there.

 What if I had a do over?Young, relatively tender knotweed shoots, maybe a month or so into growth.

Knotweed isn’t all bad.  In the spring the young shoots can be prepared much like rhubarb, in the summer the chickens and goats like eating the leaves.  In the fall it flowers which provides a great food source for the bees and a great flavor to the honey.  But thinking I could pull it out and plant a garden in the same spot, let’s just say I felt like such a fool.

Japanese Knotweed KerryWixted What if I had a do over?Looks like these guys surrendered to the knotweed, stuff is like Zombies.

Since my 2nd small garden I have expanded to about an area 30 x 70 or so with raised beds (without framing on most).  I have plans to expand further toward better light.  Slowly I am taking over the lawn and replacing it with garden.  I would rather garden then cut the grass any day.  What would I do different?  I would find a better location initially that is naturally more conducive to a garden versus trying to undo what nature has already done.  I would make the garden much larger even if I wasn’t going to use or work it all right away.  I don’t look forward to pulling the metal t-posts.

I started with three chickens, and no coop.  It was an impulse buy, a way to force me to start something I’ve wanted to do for years, keep animals.  I had to scramble to make an enclosure and run which was simply a large dog crate and dog kennel.  I then spent the summer building the 4×8 chicken condo,  it became a race to get it finished before the hens got too big for their dog crate and before winter set it.  I would not recommend this method as the stress of time and resources was less than ideal.  I planned for 8 hens but I now have 14.  Chickens are addictive, like crack addictive.  Build a bigger coop and run.  Even if you never get more chickens, it will just be a one-time build.  I studied countless plans and viewed hundreds of videos on how others do it.  I have since learned chickens, for the most part, love being outside, with the exception being heavy or fresh snow which they cannot understand.  Their indoor space is really only used to sleep, and if you integrate next boxes, to lay eggs.  Chickens are simple so just keep it dry, well ventilated, and big enough for all the hens.  I do a deep litter method which really is the only way to go in my opinion.  I would also recommend a deep litter method for the run or their outside enclosure.  Chickens turn just about any confined space into the lunar surface if you give it enough time.  A stinky lunar surface if it is exposed to moisture.  I’d cover it more for rain and snow protection and make the ground deep with straw.  Chickens love a good scratch.  Why not let them make compost in addition to eggs.  It will do wonders for your poor native soil.  So, I would make a bigger coop, a larger covered run, and add a lot of straw to their run area to give them plenty of scratch and in the end gives me great soil.

innocent Briggs

I also raise goats.  Nigerian Dwarf goats.  They are the right size for the property.  This year I decided to put them to work clearing brush and browse in the woods versus keep them confined and on feed I had to pay and store.  I do this with portable electric netting fencing, which is awesome.  It does not do that great in really heavy wind or snow, but for the summer months it helps provide rotational paddocks and free food.  Next time I would fence off a larger area to make this a bit easier.  I would provide a larger covered area that is still outside.  Goats detest moisture.  They run for cover if it even mists.  Mud and goats are not friends.  If you have mud, consider pigs, not goats.  I would make my feed storage close to the hay feeder.   I would run water to their housing area as for now I use a garden hose in summer and haul 5 gallon buckets in winter.  I would start with does, period.  While I have a couple wethers and a doe, one wether just doesn’t accept he isn’t a buck.  And bucks can be a challenge.  He is rude, loud, sometimes a bully, and an overall stinky prick, but yes at times very sweet and protective of his girlfriend – any goat nearby seems to do.  So I would not get a buck, and since my wether thinks he’s a buck, I would just get does.

Apiary.  I am also a beekeeper.  An apiarist.  Recently I found my bees all died.  I think the early cold snap caught them not quite ready for winter.  I chose a spot that was less than ideal, much like the garden idea.  I chose a spot I could see and was away from neighbors, but it was in part shade along the north side of the wood line.  After a couple years with bees they proved to be good neighbors.  They are less than 60 feet from the house, less than 30 feet from the pool, and they are unnoticeable.  We rejected the best location due to proximity to other humans.  Next year I will be moving the apiary or bee yard to the BEST sunny location.  Bees like to be warm.  And the warmer they are the more productive they can be.  Where they are currently they would not get sun until 10:30 or so and be in part sun to shade the rest of the day.  Bees that wake early and return home late are just more productive.  The winter sun would help them manage in the winter.  Right now they have no good wind break.  Next year they will get full sun and have a great windbreak of tall pines.

What would I do differently?  I would save some resources before I jumped in.  This includes materials and cash.  It would be less stressful and I would have what I need when I needed it.  I would go bigger.  Not huge, but bigger than I initially thought, maybe by at least a third to a half.  Bigger coop, bigger run, bigger goat cover, bigger gargen, bigger greenhouse.  If you have the space, go bigger.  If not, can you go vertical?

ah, when they were innocent and adorable, vs. stinky and bullish…but they still have their moments

I would centralize resources better, mostly structures.  Can I keep chickens on one side, goats on the other, garden on another, and store their stuff on yet another?  Can I plumb it?  Can I run electric to it?  Right now I have a great closed system, but it does need tweaking (and walking around fencing).  My hay feed and straw move from the greenhouse storage to the goat house and hay feeder.  The goats soil the straw and waste a bunch of hay they drop to the ground.  This waste gets mucked out and moved to the chicken yard.  Some I use for litter, but mostly I use it for scratch.  The chickens love to scratch any loose material.  They will pick out any bugs and turn it all over nicely.  Once they have broken it down, the chicken yard gets raked out and moved to the compost pile.  The scraps the worms don’t get (due to supply or current feeding),  go into the compost heap, along with any other yard waste.  In the fall and spring I use this compost to build the garden beds.  The soil is amazing.  I built five beds this way and the harvest proved it works.

So in conclusion, it’s ok to just jump right in, but it will have some consequences.  It’s ok to plan and analyze forever, but the reality will be different, trust me.  Take time to observe.  Observe animals you are interested.  Observe the weather in your yard.  Observe the sun.  Don’t be afraid to slap stuff together, the animals never mind.  Shelter from wind, rain, sun, and snow is all they ask.  Fresh feed and fresh water will eliminate most health issues.  Fresh bedding with some DE goes a long way to mitigate bugs.    It’s ok if you have to redo something.  You are learning, which is great.  Wisdom is making plenty of mistakes and doing your best not to repeat them.

007 1 What if I had a do over?
Farmer Mike

Hi, my name is Farmer Mike from Awosting Farms and I am trying to use what resources we have as a learning experience towards sustainability. Some people talk of being green, being eco-this or sustainable-that, but I am attempting to take a more practical approach in my learning by actually doing what I can, where I am, with the patience and support of my family and friends. So far the journey is rewarding, educational, and entertaining.


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