Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hiding in plain sight

This post is going to be about protecting your privacy but still making a public blog.  I'm still dealing with my injured eye and it causes too much eye strain to be on the computer more than brief periods.  So I'm not going to upload the pictures I'd planned to put on this post, at least not until my eye heals. 

I'm going to just type with my eyes closed and hopefully remember everything I wanted to write!  Some of you may wonder what this has to do with Poverty Prepping.  We can all learn from each other, and if someone is working at prepping or anything related to low-income/poverty prepping or self-sufficiency, it could be of interest to us.  Anyone is welcome to submit posts for this blog (not just comments, but actual posts), but for those who have a lot planned or want to start a blog to share with other family and friends, this information might help them.

If your blog would be of interest to our readers, I'll post a link as a "sticky" up to the right where I have Pam's blog link posted, so others can view your blog as well.

Reader Tiff commented that she'd like to make a blog about their projects as they work toward their goals.  I love blogs like that!  I search for them on the internet!  I like to read about their projects and adventures, and see pictures of their progress... or of so-and-so when they accidently fell into the mud, or whatever!  :)

She was, however, concerned about security, about the privacy of herself and her family.  That's a valid concern.  There are ways to write a blog and include pictures, and not give away who or where you are.

You're probably thinking "that's pretty obvious"!  There's some no-brainer things like don't put your last name in the blog, don't mention your town, etc. 

You can also be careful about posting pictures that show someone's full face!  It's possible to show people from behind or side-views as they do things, or wearing sunglasses if they're outdoors.  Pictures of just hands and arms while something is being done or built are good pictures. 

Don't post a picture showing your whole house, especially from the direction of the street.  Make sure your pictures only have partial views of, say, a porch or window, and try to take your pictures from the other sides. 

Watch your backgrounds!  Make sure there isn't anything identifiable in the background like famous landmarks (not that many of us live by one!), street signs, the front of the house across the street, and even vehicle license plates!  The state and sometimes also the county are revealed on license plates, and if the number is visible it might be possible to track you down through that.  If your picture must include a view that shows a license plate, you can use a paint program on your computer to smudge it out, or take the time to cover or remove the plate from the vehicle.

Be careful about t-shirts that have your local high school sports team or other identifiable name on it.  Probably no one would be that extreme about trying to find you that way.  You might think that's pretty far-fetched, and it would be if we're talking pro-sports or similiar things, but things like high school sports team logos are pretty much a local thing.

If they can track you to your town, they could start looking around and spot other things that could lead them to you.  Again, it's a remote possibility, but one to keep in the back of your mind.

Of course, you most likely don't want to reveal your last name on the blog, but you can go farther and use whatever family nicknames you might have.  Or make some up.  The way the internet works nowdays, clustering your family's first names on one blog could be enough for someone to identify your family when it cross-matches things like utility records or Facebook Friends lists.

I'm not trying to make you paranoid, but if privacy and security is a concern for you, and you want to have an online blog, some of this might make sense for you.  I had other ideas, and if I remember them, I'll come back on here and include them.  I'll also post the pictures I was going to use for examples.  I uploaded them a few days ago, then my computer froze up and I waited half an hour, then had to disconnect and reboot the computer... and the pictures were gone!  I wasn't up to reloading the pictures!  Funny how having a 'foggy' eye can also cause brain-fog!  Hopefully this post is coherent!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dried Foods

Reader 'Zen Forest' asked "Do you vaccuum seal your dried goods?"

The answer is "sometimes".  In the picture here, cheddar cheese is vacuum-sealed in a small bag, then placed in a larger bag and vacuum-sealed again.  This was done by our friend, David.  When we've done it we haven't always double-bagged it.  We double-bagged dried apples slices one year, and the rest of the time we fill the bag nearly full, then vacuum seal it.

I've spent the last couple hours going through files of pictures for the last couple years and can't find pictures of our own vacuum-sealed dried food.

Sometimes if we're going camping I fill ziplock bags with various dried foods, but they're things we expect to eat in the short term.  I went on an 1,100 mile bicycle ride two years ago and took primarily home-dried foods and spent almost nothing on food while on the trip.  I plan to make a poast later about "Poverty camping and other adventures!"

If I were storing dried food for long-term storage I would double-bag and vacuum-seal them, then stack them in an airtight bucket.  The main reason I like buckets is that it keeps rodents out of the food.  If you're storing it in your house, a cardboard box or other container could be used to keep it all together, or you could take advantage of the small sizes and cram them in all kinds of spaces for storage!  I'm sure the rodent problem is less likely in your house.  A lot of our dried food is stored in our barn, so we go to lengths to protect it.

I using glass jars for most of my dehydrated foods.  When I'm canning I set aside jars that have chips out of the rims or other reasons to not use them for canning, and I use them for dehydrated foods.  I also save other glass jars, such as from mayonaisse, salsa, spaghetti sauce, or anything that comes in glass.  More and more often, food is being sold in plastic jars.  Sadly, a lot of the food still in glass jars is out of the price range of those with little money. 

Glass jars with a good lid are airtight.  I pack the food in as tightly as possible to reduce the air space.  Some vacuum sealers come with jar sealers, and you can buy them as assessories for most newer models, in both regular mouth and wide mouth.  I haven't been able to afford to get them, but I have a friendly and generous neighbor who has the attachment.

I never reuse lids when I'm canning, but I save the lids when I open a jar, and use the lid later for a jar of dehydrated food, or for when I store leftovers in a canning jar. 

The jars of dried food keep best when stored in a dark, cool place.  Light will shorten their shelf life.   

These dried celery tops are stored in a plastic juice bottle.  When I chop my home-grown celery for dehydrating, I spread all the tops (leaves) on another screen and let them dry.  I cram them into a jar and over the winter I crumble them into soups, stews, and casseroles.  They're sort of like using Parsley leaves. 

Plastic is slightly permeable and over a long period of time your food could lost some of it's nutrients, color, and flavor.  I use them for things I plan to use over the upcoming year.

There are carrots from my garden, chopped and dried.  I keep adding them to a jar until the jar is full.

If you have the money, you can order oxygen absorbers and put them in your jars, buckets, and other containers.  I seriously couldn't afford to do that, and in small jars it would probably be overkill!

Vacuum-sealing does elimimate the air in the bag with the food, and as long as the bag doesn't lose it's seal and/or leak air into it over time, it had advantages over using jars.

Another thing I like about using jars is that you can open and close them easily while you're working on a particular jar.  A quart jar of dried carrots makes a lot of meals.  It might take a couple months to use it up.

These are cooked and dehydrated pinto beans and rice.  It's a handy way to have "instant" food.  In the winter, when our woodstove is heating our house and therefore hot anyway, I cook up things like beans and rice, then spread them on screens and dehydrate them.  It costs me nothing to cook and dry them.  Then in the summer time I have food that is quick to reconstitute and eat, without using up propane for the range to cook them for a long period of time.

 The potatoes on the jars near the top of this post were also cooked and dried.  In the spring when the potatoes in the root cellar are starting to sprout I dice or shred them, then dry them.  I take some of them and run them through the blender and have homemade instant potatoes.  The potatoes have to be cooked first for this.  The shredded and cooked potatoes make really good quick breakfasts.  The key is to cook the potatoes until they're almost-but-not-quite done, then dry them.

Another important thing for potatoes, to keep them their natural color, is to crumble a vitamin C tablet into a bowl of water and dip the potatoes in it before drying them.  You can also use lemon juice, ascorbic acid, or products like "Fruit Fresh" to keep their color.

It's nice to have eggs with the dried hashbrowns, but in our climate, the chickens stop laying in the winter.  We live off-grid with solar power, which is reduced in the winter by our short and often-cloudy days, so we don't put a light in the chicken coop.  We don't get many, if any, eggs in the winter.

In the summer we get more eggs than we can use.  I dehydrate the extra.  I break the eggs into a bowl, four eggs at a time, whip them with a fork, then spread them on wax-paper lined dryer racks.  I have 6 racks, so I can do two dozen eggs at a time.  When they're dry they look like peanut brittle without the peanuts.  I dump the racks into a cake pan and crumble it.  Then I cram it into a jar. 

Because eggs have a higher fat content than fruits and vegetables I store the jars in our root cellar to keep them cook and dark. 

We save our canning jars mostly for things like meat, cheese, and butter, which are foods that are difficult to dry and store for long periods of time.  Our fruits, vegetables, and herbs are dried and stored, as well as some pre-cooked beans and grains.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I just discovered a bunch of emails I missed on another account.  I used this email: to set up this blog.

I also set up an email account: for the book.  I've gotten those emails, but missed the ones sent to the account at the top.  I apologize to those who had to wait so long for an answer.

Please keep emailing me with your questions, comments, and suggestions!  I appreciate it!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Emily wrote a book to go with this!

My 18-year old daughter wrote a book of tips and recipes to go along with this book and blog!
She did a great job and I'm proud of her!

She's always been a creative and inventive cook, and it was fun watching her be excited about putting her book together!

Here's the link:

If you can afford it, please support her and purchase her book!  It's only .99, and she'll only get .35 of that, which is how it works for Amazon kindle authors.  It's a small trickle of money, but in the realm of poverty prepping, every penny helps!  :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Raising Animals for Meat!

I've had several people ask why I didn't include Meat animals in the chapter on stretching your basic food storage.  I have reasons why I don't consider domestic meat animals to be a viable option for the poverty prepper.  But I failed to let my readers know!  So today I wrote in a few new paragraphs to the book, and it will be uploaded during the night tonight.  Starting tomorrow, new purchases will include the information, but for those who already bought the book, I'm copying & pasting the new section from the book file so you can read it too.

"RAISING YOUR OWN MEAT ANIMALS This is not a practical option for most people. It takes space to raise them, and a means to feed them. The cost of animal feed is likely to be more than it's worth to raise the animal, and on a low budget, it's something to consider. In addition, you may have other costs such as fencing, housing, and keeping the animal(s) healthy.

Will you be able to kill and butcher the animal when the time comes? How will you preserve the meat? Where will you dispose of the “guts”, bones, and hide of the animal(s)?

If you have never had meat animals before, you could start with something small and easy-to-feed like rabbits. Even on a small piece of land in a cold climate you can grow and gather enough to keep rabbits fed. They'll eat grains, vegetables, fruits, grasses, willow and other tender branches. You can make a portable cage and just move it around the yard periodically and let it forage. Rabbits need more than grass, though, so if your yard isn't covered with nutritious plants like dandelions and clover, you'll have to supplement with other foods. I used to take my pruners and snip off the occasional willow or aspen branch and toss it in to my rabbits.

There is much you'll need to learn about how many cages you'll need and how to manage your rabbits. The same is true of any meat animals you want to raise. Many people reading this book already have or have had domestic meat animals, but for those who haven't and don't, please do some research before you tackle this."

That's the end of the new part I added into the book.  Now, as a bonus, I'm going to include part of an article I wrote called "Self-sufficiency: Crunching the Numbers".  In this article I had been talking about gardening, and how often people will tell me "Oh, if times get hard, I'll plant a garden", and I was talking a bit about what it would take to start a garden and then preserve it.  I followed that with a discussion on animals, which is what you'll read here:

"The next thing people say after the bit about planting a garden is something along the line of “…and get a few chickens for eggs and maybe for meat”. Brace yourself, here comes the numbers! 

Family of four, 2 eggs apiece, 4 times a week. Simple math…32 eggs. To allow for the hens to miss a day here and there, you need at least 5 hens. In the winter, egg production will slow or stop.

The hens need to be replaced every 3 to 7 years, depending on your breed of chicken, climate, and feed. So if you’re truly self-sustaining, you need a rooster in order to replenish your flock, plus you need a hen or two who are willing to “sit” and hatch the eggs. If you’re self-sustaining you’re probably off-grid and may or may not have enough electricity from your solar or other power source to operate an electric incubator.

Now you’ve got your broody hens setting on some eggs, and lucky you! 26 of them hatched! After the normal loss of a few of the little fluff balls, you have 23 of them. They happily scratch around in the yard in the important manner of their full-grown counterparts, and you select the ones to keep as layers, and butchering day comes for the rest. But…wait a minute, that’s only 18 meat birds! And they’re not nice and big and fat like fryers! They’ve been free-ranging bugs and seeds in your yard all summer, and they’re full-grown, but under those feathers, there’s just not a lot of meat! Well, you decide you’ll just have more soups and stir-fry’s.

18 chickens butchered for meat…that’s a meal with meat about every 3 weeks. In order to eat chicken once a week you’ll need 52 chickens. That’s a lot of critters looking for free-range bugs and seeds. What do you eat with your fruits and veggies the other 6 days of the week? Some people can add to that with raising other livestock or hunting. Then you’re back to the question of how to preserve it. The logical way if you’re self-sufficient, is to can it, and then we’re back to the logistics of having and storing large amounts of jars.

One last subject: feeding your critters as a self-sufficient person. Our chickens free-range during the months things are growing here and the bugs are active. Unfortunately this far north, that’s from about the end of May until the middle of October. In order to keep the hens laying we also feed “layer feed” from the feed store. We’ve started growing our own grains in the last 3 years and I can tell you, it’s a big job planting, harvesting, and threshing wheat, oats, rye, and barley with hand tools. We’re no where close to growing enough to feed our chickens year round, let alone having enough to use for our own cooking.

We go through 50 lbs of feed a month to feed 7 hens, plus table scraps and seasonal foraging. We’re too far north to grow corn, but people who can, greatly ease the job of growing their own feed.

Meat, vegetables, and fruit are a wonderful diet, but when you’re doing the kind of work it takes to keep a self-sufficient homestead going, you really appreciate the breads, biscuits, and other things grains can make. In our home with two of us we use around 25 lbs of wheat a month. We’d need to get our homegrown production up to 300 lbs just for cooking, plus the 600 lbs for the chickens, per year.

Just imagine if we added rabbits, goats, and other animals to the demand for feed!

Someone told me the other day that 100 years ago people were able to keep chickens and other animals fed without having to buy feed from the store. Yes, they did. Can you tell me how? Do you have the tools, equipment, and land ? Are you physically able and mentally committed to the kind of work you’d be doing?"

If you're thinking about raising animals for meat, perhaps this information will be of help to you.  There are a lot of rewards to raising your own meat animals, but if you're on a budget, make sure you consider all the costs.  Then, make sure they don't turn into pets and drain your resources to feed them!  We like to give ours 'cute' names that remind us of why we have them, such as the two pigs we raised.  Their names were "Hamlet" and "Lord Bacon"!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Homemade Birch Syrup

We've dreamed for years about getting bees and hives so we'd have our own sweetener.  So far we've gone as far as buying a couple of books and visiting someone in the area who has hives, but that's it.  We live in a cold climate, and to make it even more challenging, our home is several hundred feet above the valley, tucked back in the mountains.  The season for flowers and pollen is a very short one.
We don't have maple trees up here, but we do have a lot of Birch Trees.  A few years ago we stumbled across a youtube video about making syrup from the sap of Birch trees. Apparently you can also use sap from other trees such as Larch (Tamarak).
We have a few dozen Birch trees on our property, so we decided to give it a try.  What could fit in better with Poverty Prepping than producing one's own sweetener or syrup!

First, my husband cut some pieces of PVC pipe to about 3" long, then sliced off a piece to make an angle on one end.  The lighter is there to provide a scale for size/length.

Then he drilled a hole about an inch into a Birch tree.  He held the notched part facing upward and pounded it into the tree.  The sap started flowing out the tube right away.  He pounded a nail into the tree above the tap and hung a bucket on it.

He decided to experiment with different containers to catch the sap in.  This is a juice bottle with a hole cut in the side near the top, just big enough for the end of the pipe to go into.  He hung the bottle with baling twine from a nail.  The nice thing about this set-up is that it keeps debris and bugs out of the sap.

We thought the cold night would slow down the sap run, but it flowed pretty good over night.  It overflowed this jar and made an icicle hanging from the bottom!

The birch sap is clear, like water.  We filtered it using this 2-part funnel with a coffee filter held snug between the parts.  We learned to filter it before starting to boil it down, because as it thickens it runs very slowly through the coffee filter.

Here it is from the side.  It's hard to believe this "water" will evaporate and thicken as it boils down, and become sweet!

We started off using this one kettle on the woodstove, but after a few hours we added a huge 5-gallon kettle.  We were getting backed up on buckets full of sap!  This might not be as cost-effective if a person had to simmer it for a few days on a stove that requires fuel that you pay for (gas, electric, etc.), but for us, we cut our own firewood on our property, so it doesn't really cost us anything to simmer sap for days.
Someday we hope to build an outside fireplace and simmer it outside, and we can do clean-up in our woods at the same time, burning the sticks and pine cones as fuel to boil down the sap.

 We let the smaller kettle boil down to the last half inch and poured it into a pint jar.  You can see how much it's darkened.  We poured it on pancakes this morning, and YUM!  It's delicious.  It's similar to Maple syrup with more of a fruity taste, but definitely sweet!  I give it two thumbs up, and I'm excited that we'll have several gallons of this when we're done.  If we can use it as a sweetener in tea and/or baked products, we will have met one of our biggest challenges to self-sufficiency and living on a poverty budget!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sprouts - Greens anytime, anywhere!

In my book I didn't mention sprouts as a way to supplement the food you have on hand.  Sprouts are also a quick way to have fresh 'greens'.  Some sprouts are ready to eat in just a few days.

Sprouts have the usual array of vitamins and minerals, and I could do a google search and find a bunch of nutrition information about them, but I'm going to keep it simple.  You can search for more information if you want, but for me, it's enough to know that they're a fresh vegetable, they're organic when I grow them myself, and they have "chlorophyll" in the green of their leaves.  They have fiber, being a whole vegetable, and come to think of it, I'm not sure if "vegetable" is the right word, since sprouts are grown from bean seed, alfalfa seed, vegetable seeds like broccoli and radish, and others.  Some people consider wheat grass to be a sprout.  So we have legumes, vegetables, and grass for sprouting plant families.

Perhaps it would be wise to recommend you grow a variety of sprouts, but I'm guessing we'll have to grow what we can get seed for.  I've been buying mine from the bulk bins at the local health food store, which is pretty cheap.  A bag that holds a couple cups of seed will grow a lot of sprouts.  

I don't know if you can grow sprouts from regular garden seed unless it's seed you've saved yourself and you know it hasn't been treated with anything.  There are a lot of things I don't know, and one of the reasons for this blog is so I can learn too.  If someone knows more about any of this, please leave a comment on here and share your information with us.

You don't need an official "Sprouter"!  They can be grown in a jar, a cup, a bowl, a cake pan, bread pan, or any container!  I have done it, so I'm not just repeating something I read or heard.  The most primitive sprouting I've done was in a bowl with a dish cloth tossed over the top to keep the seeds from drying out as they sprouted.  Just make sure you drain off as much water as you can in a container with a solid bottom so that your plants won't sit in water and rot.  Don't take the seeds out and dry the container.  You're not trying to get it that dry!

My favorite sprouts are alfalfa sprouts.  They got a bad rap last summer  because of the Salmonella outbreak, which was linked to certain batches of alfalfa sprouts.  Even when you're growing your own sprouts, be sure to wash your hands before handling them.  The same is true of any fresh vegetable or fruit you are about to eat.

Be careful about rinsing your sprouts after they're 'finished' and ready to eat.  They'll continue to grow and mature past the stage of being tender, sweet, delicious sprouts.  When you decide they're the right size, take them out of whatever tray or jar you sprouted them in and keep them in a cool place.  A refrigerator is good, but if you don't have one, or the power is off, you can put them in a cool closet or similar place for a few days as you eat them.  

You can store them in a plastic bag with the top loosely open, or a cup or bowl with a small plate over the top.  The main thing is to keep them from drying out, but they also keep better if it's not an airtight container. It must have something to do with the moisture build-up from the little plants (sprouts).

Don't rinse the sprouts again, once they're done, until you're ready to eat them.  I pull out a handful when I want to eat them, and wash them.  I shake off the excess water and they're ready to eat.  

I eat them just as they are, sometimes as a 'side' with a meal, or add them to a salad, or roll them in a tortilla along with other veggies and/or meat.   I would love to hear other ideas for using sprouts, if anyone cares to add them to this.

I used to just rinse the sprout seeds and put them in my sprouter tray, but last year I started soaking them in water first.  I measure a Tablespoon of seed and pour it into a cup.  Then I cover it with water and let it sit at room temperature for about 8 hours.

My favorite sprouter is this set of stackable trays.  They have vent holes staggered around the top.  When you set the lid on it has corresponding dips that you can either line up over the vents, or twist the lid so it covers the vent holes.  Then you can stack another tray/dish of sprouts on that one.  I have enough of these to make 4 trays of sprouts.
In this picture I have drained the water off the seeds after soaking them, and now I've spread them in the sprouter.  This is a mixture of beans and seeds, which includes mung beans, alfalfa, radish, and broccoli seeds.  It's called a "salad mix" at our health food store.

Now I'm lining up the lid so the vent holes will be open.  I'm not sure if I've been doing it the way the manufacturer recommends, but I leave the vent holes open while the seeds are sprouting, and when they're done and ready to eat, I close them.  I prefer to take the seeds out of the sprouter when they're done, and store them in another container.  I've had them get "gunky" from residual water in the bottom of the sprouter.  But sometimes we're eating them so fast we just close the vents and move it to a cool place, and pull out handfuls when we want them, and they're gone in a day or two.

It's two days later and these sprouts are really growing!  I water them twice a day, once in the morning around breakfast time, and in the evening before I go to bed.  I pour or run water into the tray until it covers the seeds or the bottom part of the sprouts, then tilt the tray and drain off the water.  Theoretically I'm supposed to be able to drain it through the holes and the seed husks will flow out, keeping the sprouts in the tray, but it's never worked that way.  I just use my hand to hold back the little sprouts.

These are alfalfa sprouts.  I got the picture off of google, and it's not a copy-protected picture.  I'm guessing these would be about 2 1/2" to 3" tall, based on the ones I grow.  I like a lot of kinds of sprouts, but alfalfa sprouts are like candy to me!

I've heard varying information about whether to remove the little seeds that are left, or that they're safe to eat.  If anyone wants to weigh in on that, it would be a good topic.

I'm trying to figure out how to change my settings so the comments are always displayed under the posts.  Right now you have to click on the word "comments" to make them appear.  Please leave your comments anyway, so we all may learn from each other.  This is your site too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The book is published!

Yay!  The book, "Poverty Prepping: How to stock up for tomorrow when you can't afford to eat today" is up on Amazon today!  Here's the link:

Here's a picture of the book cover:

Be sure and read my prepper fiction books too:

I have five fiction book and more in the works!  They're fun and entertaining to read, while showing how to get through possible disaster scenarios.  They're family-friendly, in that I don't put in a lot of guns and violence and military stuff in my books.

On the "poverty" or low-income and low-budget note, here's a place where you can download free books that relate to preparedness.  Some are fiction and some are helpful how-to's.  There is no scam and no push to buy products, it's just a list of free downloads put together daily by a lady named Pam, who sifts through the amazon daily downloads looking for ones that fit this subject.

Here's where to find them:

Happy reading, everyone!  Please be sure to leave comments, questions, and suggestions.  My settings are open so anyone can post on here in the comments section under each post.

If you have a post and/or pictures you'd like to add to this blog, please email them to me and I'll post them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Welcome to my world: Poverty Prepping!

Hello, everyone!  I'm a 51 year old mom and grandma.  We live in a part of the country that historically has a poor economy even when the rest of the nation is enjoying good times and low unemployment.  We have a 4-figure annual income that isn't even close to hitting 5-figures!  Yet we live quite comfortably.

Like most Americans we have too much "stuff", and we've learned not to fall into the trap of feeling deprived if we can't afford to keep buying "stuff".  Laughter is a big help.  When catalogs from places like Cabelas come in the mail, my husband smiles as he sits down to browse through it and says "Time to feed my discontent!" 

We've made an art form out of Poverty, and I'm sure many of you have too.  It doesn't take a lot of money to be comfortable and happy.  It's NICE to have a lot of money!  But we've never let the lack of it stop us from doing things, including stocking up on basic foods. 

We've also put the time and work into other ways to help ourselves, such as gardening and foraging.  It's a big help, because not only is it a hardship for us to spend money on groceries, it's even harder to buy healthy things like fresh fruits and vegetables.  The ones we grow ourselves, or pick in the woods, are free and they're organic.

When our kids were growing up we had very little money to spare, but our kids would have been shocked if someone had told them that not only were we poor, we were way below the poverty line.  We were always out walking and hiking, and having great conversations along the way.  We noticed the seasons, and the different stages of the plants in each season.  We saw wildlife and we saw people's pets.

We bought cheap bicycles and rode them all over the place because our car was broke down most of the time.  We bought cheap rafts from Wal-mart and floated all the rivers in our area.  We had cheap tents and sleeping bags, and found free places to camp and had a great time.  We looked at the stars as we sat around campfires, and jumped together at strange noises in the woods, then laughed at ourselves.

We made heavy use of books and videos from the library.  Our kids thought it was normal to watch documentaries on TV in the evening, on VHS because we never had cable or satelite TV.  They're grown up and have kids of their own, and still love documentaries, though nowdays they watch them on the History channel and National Geographic!

Our house was always full of love, laughter, and hugs, and those things are priceless!

Now the kids are grown and most of them have moved to town, where the jobs are.  My husband and I continue to live like we always have, and I'm finally getting the hang of cooking less at meals! 

We live in a log cabin on 20 acres of land in a forested, mountainous area.  Our place is paid for, and our only essential debt it the property taxes.  We must pay those, or we'll be homeless!  We also pay for phone/internet service, and liability-only car insurance.  We rarely drive the car, but when we do, it requires money for gas.  We use our bicycles a lot, even though we're 7 miles from the post office, where we get our mail, and the nearest small town.

We have a solar electric off-grid power system that we put together piece-meal over a few years, and we're very happy with it.  Over time I'll write more about that, in case anyone else wants to learn a cheap way to get freedom from big power bills.  We heat with firewood that we cut ourselves, so no heating bill.

We don't have a well, but we do have a spring-fed marsh and a rain water collection system.  We use that primarily for laundry, showers, dishes, and watering the garden.  Our drinking water is hauled from a public water tap in the town 7 miles away. 

We have boiled and filtered the rainwater on occasions when we couldn't get to town.  We've also pushed water jugs in a wheel barrel for almost a mile each way, in order to get drinking water from a neighbor.

Sounds like a hard life, huh?  No, not really.  We're out of the rat race, and you can't beat that!

Here's a few pictures for today's post, to start introducing you to our life.

 This is me chopping home-grown green onions and spreading them on a screen to dry.  I planted these from seed in an old bathtub.  Part of our poverty prepping plan is to dehydrate as much as we can from food we grew of foraged, and put it away to eat year round.  Most fruits and vegetables are dehydrated to save on canning costs.  What jars and lids we have or can afford are saved for things like meat, which must be pressure canned.

 Here I'm using a wooden pestle to grind dried eggs into a finer powder for the morning's breakfast.  Our chickens stop laying for a few months in winter, so in summer when we have extra eggs we whisk them like we're making scrambled eggs, and we dry them.  I line dehydrator trays with wax paper and pour the eggs onto them.  I can only use the dehydrator on sunny summer days when we get enough hours of solar charge to keep up with the electric demand of the dehydrator.  That's why I dry most things on screens in the open air.  But eggs dry faster using the electric dehydrator.  They look like peanut brittle without the peanuts when they're done drying.  Over the winter we make scrambled eggs or omelettes with them.  It's nice not to have to buy those white, watery eggs from the grocery store!

My husband and I like to do many things, including going on long-distance bicycle trips.  We also like hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and cross-country skiing.  There'll be more pictures of these later on.  You can buy used equipment very cheap, and after that it doesn't cost you anything to use it.  We chose these sports for that reason.  There are other things we'd like to do but can't afford to.  That doesn't keep us from enjoying the things we CAN do!

This blog is for YOU, too.  I have left it open for anyone to make comments, suggestions, or ask questions.  Jump on in and let's talk!