Large-Batch Canning & Jam Making, by St. Funogas

One of my favorite garden bounties every year is the blackberry jam I get from my beautiful 100’ row of thornless blackberry vines. I love my blackberries for many reasons: they’re one of my few pest-free crops, they’re perennials, and they’re linked to my Swedish grandfather who was a master horticulturist and berry grower for over half a century. I also get a feeling of not only craftsmanship, but companionship with my grandpa when I’m out working with the vines: tying up this year’s growth, propagating new plants from tip runners, harvesting the berries, and cutting out the two-year stems …




Oral History: A Child of the Great Depression – Part 3

(Continued, from Part 2. This concludes the series.) We also raised rabbits, in a row of three backyard hutches, that my father built. These were wire mesh hutches on wooden frames that were elevated and protected by a roof. We raised white rabbits with black ears, noses, and paws, as well as some gray rabbits. I was in charge of gathering the rabbit feed. Since Dinuba was a farm town, all of the vacant lots had weeds that were mostly hay grass, or alfalfa. Once every two or three days, I would ride my bicycle around town and use hand …




Oral History: A Child of the Great Depression – Part 2

(Continued, from Part 1.) The Principal of Dinuba High School, Walter Hellbaum, came up recruiting at UC Berkeley, because Howard Page, his Agriculture and ROTC teacher–who was another Army reserve officer–had been recalled to active duty.  Daddy was a good fit for a position at Dinuba High School because he was qualified to teach both Agriculture and ROTC classes. But then a more experienced Agriculture teacher came along. So my father ended up teaching Math, Science, Spanish, and he led the Junior ROTC program. Daddy moved our family to Dinuba in 1940. We first lived in a modest two-bedroom rental …




Oral History: A Child of the Great Depression – Part 1

JWR’s Introductory Comments: I transcribed and edited the following, from a series of interviews that I recently recorded with my mother, Barbara Marie (Creveling) Rawles. She is now 88 years old, and in failing health. But her memories are still vividly with her. She was born just as the world was entering the depths of the Great Depression. She grew up in a small farm town in California’s Central Valley. There, with a depressed economy, the community’s hardships carried on through World War II. I took the liberty of some paraphrasing and re-sequencing of a few passages, to keep them …




Top Six Outdoor Survival Skills, by Jonathan Gardner

I love searching the Internet and libraries for bushcraft and outdoor survival-related videos and books. Now I have something to tell you. Many of these lists you read are wrong. If you do a search, there will be a general consensus of the top five skills being Shelter, water, fire, and so forth. I’m going out on a limb in reporting that they are wrong. Not all wrong, but it is not what you should study. Most of the listed are not skills. Water is not a skill, I’m not going to give you a tutorial on how to make …




Prepper Project Suggestions, by R.H.

I have compiled a list of possible projects that can be accomplished by people of average skill with the usual tools and supplies. This list is just to get you thinking about what you might need and what you could use in the event of an emergency. Luckily, we currently have the Internet to easily find plans for these projects. Print the plans now and start a “to-do” list. The Internet is great but also have some how-to books on hand. The time is upon us. Water In keeping with preparation priorities, let’s first discuss water projects. One of the …




An Old Boy Scout’s Journey – Part 2, by Rocket J. Squirrel

(Continued from Part 1.) There is a DeWalt 6 kW generator with a Honda gasoline engine that was purchased used. The local Stihl dealer gave it a tune up. Spare spark plugs are kept in the tool box. I have very limited gasoline storage but do have a tri-fuel kit. The tri-fuel kit from www.uscarb.com enables the generator to use gasoline, propane, or natural gas for fuel. Make certain you buy the kit which matches your specific engine model. I need to get the kit installed as well as the natural gas fittings for our current home. Natural gas may …




An Old Boy Scout’s Journey – Part 1, by Rocket J. Squirrel

What prompted me to begin preparing? I am not certain if there was one specific trigger. I’d like to share my journey to becoming “more” prepared? If you have recently realized that you need to be prepared to take care of your family, your community and your country in the event that really bad things happen, then hopefully my journey will encourage you. Maybe not, since it has taken me so long. I am still on the journey, still learning, still implementing new things about which I learn. My perspective continues to change. My beautiful bride and I are not …




Synthetic and Natural Fibers, by Madison B.

Modern commercially-produced clothing probably makes up the vast majority of your wardrobe. Commercially-produced clothing has many advantages: It is inexpensive, it is widely available, and it comes in millions of different colors and styles. It is also available in a myriad of textures and materials. Many of these materials promise to perform at levels that would only be found in a Sci-Fi novel twenty years ago. Moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, ripstop fabric pervades sportswear and workwear alike. The modern performance fabric also has a sleek clean look that promises ease of movement and impenetrable protection. For all of the benefits these fabrics …




Introduction to Beekeeping – Part 3, by K. in Tennessee

(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.) V – The Bees Apis milifera is the Latin name we’ve given the bug we call the “Honeybee”. Not to be confused with the bumble bees, wood bees, sweat bees, and other pollinators we share this planet with. It is a specific breed and different than the other small bees you come across in your environment. It took me several years before I could visually discern the difference, and there are even differences within the types of honeybees. Much like dog breeding, it is becoming a whole additional avenue in the hobby. …




Introduction to Beekeeping – Part 2, by K. in Tennessee

(Continued from Part 1. ) III – The Hive The Beehive is the home you provide for the bees. It is supposed to make your task of managing the hive easier, while giving the bees what they want for a home. This is where you show your mettle and what you have learned. If the bees don’t like your home, don’t worry, they’ll just leave! The signs are all there if you know how to read them (an experienced mentor can help immensely). There are several styles of hives out there. Top Bar and Langstroth hives are the most common …




Introduction to Beekeeping – Part 1, by K. in Tennessee

I – Introduction I started researching beekeeping as a hobby for several years before I got my first bees, mostly due to life’s circumstances. Once I settled down and had a piece of land to call home, I was able to get some bees and find it rather enjoyable. It’s quite unlike any other hobby, not the same as gardening, or NASCAR. Keeping wild animals in a wooden box isn’t for everyone. It has challenged me and I’ve learned a lot, and that’s what I find alluring – the more I learn about it, the less I know. Beekeeping has …




The $100 Homestead Grain Winnower – Part 2, by PapaP

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.) The “L” was constructed from a scrap piece of 1″ thick pine board which was about 9″ long and cut 7/8″ wide. The longer side of the “L”was about 6″ long and the smaller piece about 3″ long. The 3” piece was then screwed to the longer piece to form the “L”. This “L” provides the gap between the two plywood sides, allows a piece of metal strapping to encircle the plastic inlet, and holds the blower securely in place. To secure your particular blower assembly you will have to design and …




The $100 Homestead Grain Winnower – Part 1, by PapaP

One of the pillars of homestead food production is growing small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, etc. The classic text for homestead grain production is Small-Scale Grain Raising, by Gene Logsdon (1977). His focus is on using small-scale or appropriate technology, usually human powered. For example, harvesting small grains would entail the use of a scythe for cutting the grain, a flail for threshing the grain followed by tossing the grain into the air to winnow or separate the grain from the chaff. I was raised on a traditional farm in the 1960s and 1970s where we used farm-scale …




The Protein All Around Us, by Oregon Bill

It was the fifth raccoon that I had permanently discouraged from killing our chickens. “If we ever had to eat these in an emergency, our family would put on weight” I said to my wife. I was joking of course. She surprised me with her reply: “Well, why don’t we give them a try so we know if it would ever be worth it?” She had grown up eating wild meat, and our family commonly ate what we raised or hunted, so it sounded kind of like a new adventure. Here is some of what we learned that might be …