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Sour Cherries

Hey! I was lucky enough to find a sour cherry tree in my neighbourhood. So I took the kids and we loaded up. 

We got a good amount in a short amount of time. The trees are almost always full of fruit because people try one, thinking they’re regular cherries and don’t like them due to the sourness. 

I had enough to make jam so I tried a new recipe. It didn’t set for me but next time I’ll either add pectin or boil longer. It’s still delicious and is being used in drinks and on ice cream. 
I took 12 cups of pitted sour cherries and 5 cups of white sugar. Bring to a boil and left it boiling heavily for about an hour while my jars (8 250ml jars) were in a hot water bath. 


At this point I’d recommend testing for viscosity by taking out a bit and doing the wrinkle test. 

I was impatient I guess and just canned it at that point. I left 1″ headspace in my jars and then boiled the jars for 10 minutes. They then sat on the counter for 24 hours while they sealed and cooled. 
If you didn’t want to go this route, sour cherries are also good dehydrated with a bit of sugar, or frozen and added to baked goods. 

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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. I personally own a soap business (www.alchemysoapworks.com). 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.

-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!

 

Dehydrating Your Own Milk

Let me just say, this isn’t necessarily a recommended practise, do your reseach (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.

 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil is a great addition to your preps. The plant is native to Australia and is related to eucalyptus. It has been used for centuries as an antibacterial, anti-fungal and infection healing oil.
It can be used on almost any skin ailment including blemishes, wounds, dandruff, head lice, chicken pox and blisters. It is fairly effective at killing Candida, which causes yeast infections.
It has similar healing properties to lavender oil (which I wrote about here).
You can grow your own tea tree plant indoors in containers and potentially distill your own essential oils from it (article coming soon) but it requires a significant amount of the plant to make a small amount of oil.
It should not be ingested without supervision of a doctor as it can be toxic internally. Some people are sensitive to tea tree, so make sure you check for allergies before using. A simple skin allergy test is to put a drop or two on the inside of the elbow and wait for at least 24 hours to see if there is a reaction (ie: rash, hives or blisters). If there is no reaction, it may be safe to use it in greater quantities. If there IS a reaction, discontinue use.

First Aid Supplies

First aid supplies are essential to any prepper’s stocks. The majority of preppers I know have lots of guns, ammo, food and water but barely (if any) medical supplies. It is essential that you know the basics of first aid so you can take care of yourself and your family should something happen. During an emergency, hospitals are generally flooded with patients in varying degrees of illness and injury. It could take hours before you see a doctor and in the case of a pandemic scenario, one of the most likely places to pick up the disease is, of course, the place where all the sick people are hanging out (but if you truly need medical attention, do not hesitate to get it!)

First, I always recommend that everyone take a first aid and CPR course. These courses are generally offered by the Red Cross and other various organizations for very little money and sometimes free. They usually last a day or two and are worth every penny.

Next, every household should have a bare minimum first aid kit including the following:

gauze

alcohol swabs

antiseptic

band aids

tape

non-latex gloves

tweezers

scissors

safety pins

thermal blanket (for treating shock)

triangle bandage (or large scrap of fabric)

hand sanitizer

maxi pads (can be used as a bandage)

needles and thread (fishing line or dental floss can be used in a pinch for stitches but please make sure your supplies are sterile)

basic medications (including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, anti diarrheal, anti nauseant, anti emetic, etc)

 This is just a basic idea of some of the things you should have around the house. Obviously, there is a lot more you can (and probably should) have but having the training to use these things can be a lot more important than the actual supplies. If you know how to treat the injuries, you can improvize the supplies.

Sick Boxes

Its coming up to back to school time and you know what that means. People are going to be sharing their coughs, colds and flus. Even if you don’t have kids, chances are one of your friends does, or the person behind you in line at the grocery store. The coming of fall just brings out all the fun illnesses that we get to deal with every year.

In our house, we like to be prepared for that sort of thing so we have what we call “sick boxes”. A sick box is just a kit of the typical things that you need while you are sick, all in one place, ready for the next time someone is sick without having to run to the drug store while feeling (and looking) miserable.

A typical sick box might include:

chicken soup

tissues

cough candies

cough syrup

anti-nauseant

anti-diarrheal

soda crackers

ginger ale

tea

honey

acetaminophen or ibuprofen

vitamin c/Echinacea or other herbal supplements

 

And whatever else helps you feel better without having to go get it.

A great advantage to doing up a couple sick boxes is that you can get all the supplies while they are on sale or with coupons and don’t have to pay full price or run out at 3 am when your kids are suddenly sick.

 

Lavender Essential Oil, a Prepper’s best friend

Lavender essential oil is indispensable to a prepper.

You can use lavender oil on just about any skin irritation. Burns, scalds, rashes, bug bites (especially spider and mosquitoes I find), cuts, acne, seriously just about anything. All you do is put the lavender oil straight on the area of irritation, you don’t have to mix it with anything and you just need a tiny drop to cover a good area.  It doesn’t sting like some modern medicines, it soothes and reduces scarring. In a household with two chefs, we use it a lot and don’t have nearly as many scars as we should!

It can also be used as a bug repellent, an antiseptic, an antidepressant. The scent is used in aromatherapy to relax and calm the client. It makes a good treatment for head lice, sunburns, helps to treat clinical shock and muscle pain.

Its edible and can be used in cooking (although I usually stick to using it in desserts, it apparently goes well with rice or fish).

Basically this is a natural wonder drug that is so much cheaper than buying all the seperate medications needed to treat the above issues. If you had enough of the flowers you can make your own essential oil (you’d need a distiller, I’ll blog about that another day). But its easily found in health food stores or larger grocery stores and pharmacies. So let’s hear it for lavender!!

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