Monday, November 29, 2010

"I can't believe it would happen here." Really?

You probably heard the news about the attempted bombing in Oregon. A Somali-born, naturalized US citizen named Mohamed Osman Mohamud plotted to blow up a car bomb at a tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, OR. As I watched the news coverage on Sunday morning, I was struck by the comments of several of the "people on the street" that were interviewed. They all said something to the effect of, "I can't believe it would happen here."

I couldn't believe my ears. Really? People think they are safe from terrorism just because they don't live in one of the top five metropolitan areas in the US?

In case you forgot, this happened in OKC.
Maybe those people interviewed had forgotten the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. Last time I checked, OKC wasn't exactly vying with New York City for population bragging rights.

Check out this quote from the same CNN article I linked at the top of my post:

           Officials said Mohamud also stated, "... it's in Oregon;
           and Oregon like you know, nobody ever thinks about  it."                                           

The terrorists are catching on to this head-in-the-sand mindset, and you can bet that this failed terrorist attempt in Portland will not be the last. Thank goodness the FBI intercepted this jihadist lunatic before he hurt a lot of innocent people.

This kind of thing can happen, even in places like Orgeon or America's Heartland. Wake up, people!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Month Six in Review and Month Seven Preps

Did you think this past month seemed to fly by? I can't believe November is already drawing to a close. I also am astonished that I've been actively prepping for only seven months. I've learned so much and accomplished quite a bit.

RIP oil lamp chimney
Month Six of my prepping plan was a doozy. I had a humbling experience with primitive technology, bought a bunch of freeze-dried and dehydrated items for my food storage, stocked up on the necessities to have lighting during a power-down scenario, as well as accomplished the other items in my plan for this month.

In the negative column, I'm still not doing very well with adding in exercise, unless you count using my new grain mill. Hey, it does make me break a sweat! Also, the glass globe/chimney on my oil lamp met a premature demise when I was dusting it yesterday. This goes to show that A) I need to have some back-up chimneys on hand with my other supplies and B) My contention that housework is evil does have a basis in fact.   
Month Seven:
  1. Continue to build food storage basics. Perhaps take advantage of holiday sales and stock up on items like spices, chocolate chips, canned pumpkin, etc.
  2. Buy some ground beef and chicken breast and pressure can it. Conduct a taste test and see how my home-canned meat fares vs. store bought canned chicken. 
  3. Create a first aid kit for for my purse. I'm thinking of making one in a Altoid tin.
  4. Buy an electric grain mill and put it through its paces.
  5. Begin the process of organizing some of my canned food storage for easier rotation. I'm going to try out and review one of the can rotation devices on the market.
  6. In the category of "Hope Springs Eternal": Exercise 3x per week.
Do you have any prepping plans for December or are you consumed with Christmas purchases and preparations?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pre-TEOTWAWKI Shopping List

Image from
Do you follow The Survival Mom's blog? If so, you probably read her recent post called "Survival Shopping at Costco". She tested out James Wesley Rawles' contention that it is possible to do a last ditch, pre-TEOTWAWKI stock-up at Costco.

Now, we don't have a Costco anywhere near us and Sam's Club is pretty far away. Depending on what I think is about to go down, I may not be comfortable going or sending Hubby Dear on a shopping expedition an hour or two away. But we do have a couple of grocery stores, a farm supply store, and a mini version of Wal-Mart in our town and we can find a lot of useful items there. That's assuming, of course, that nobody else gets the same idea and strips the stores bare before I get there.

The problem is keeping a clear head in the chaos. I'd like to think that my preps will help me be cool, calm, and collected, but the truth of the matter is I tend to freak out. Not to mention the fact that I'll have four kids with me and shopping with my crew is always an adventure. And Hubby Dear? He's more likely to be cool and calm than me, but he's also pretty clueless. He did read One Second After, reads my blog, and listens to me blather on about preparedness, but it's just not his thing.

So what I did to combat these problems is make several copies of Lisa's Pre-TEOTWAWKI shopping list. I put a copy in my Preparedness Binder and one in the glove box of each of our vehicles. If Hubby Dear or I decide that something is about to go down, we'll use our secret codeword  (Read Alas, Babylon, anybody?) and be ready to do some guerilla shopping.

Of course the best thing to do would be to get completely prepared ahead of time so we don't have to fight the local yokels for the last package of Charmin. It's unlikely that we'll have a few days' notice before the End of the World, anyway.

 Download Lisa's shopping list here. It's a good tool to help you make sure you've got all the bases covered.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tattler Canning Lid Giveaway

Kendra at New Life on a Homestead is giving away a bunch of Tattler reusable canning lids. Haven't heard about Tattler lids? Well, read this and this. Regular, one-use lids have always seemed wasteful to me, and if you are in a survival situation, you definitely won't be able to run to Wal-Mart and pick up some more canning lids.

I've been wanting to try these out and I'd love to win this giveaway. If I can't win it, I'd love one of my readers to! It's easy - head on over to Kendra's blog and leave a comment on the post about this giveaway. Good luck!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Using Your Food Storage: The Best Cornbread Ever

Moist and wonderful! It has a cake-like consistency.
Warning: If you like your cornbread dry, gritty, and tasteless, this is not the recipe for you. If you like moist, sweet, scrumptious cornbread, however, do I have a treat for you!

This is the best cornbread recipe I've ever tried. My family decended upon it like a horde of locusts and quickly ate it all up. OK, I might have given them a little bit of help with that! This is a fabulous, easy recipe that uses a bunch of commonly stored ingredients plus some that have food storage substitutions.

Eggs - Add dry egg powder in with the dry ingredients and put the additional water in with the wet ingredients. See your can of dry eggs for specific amounts.

4 T powder + 1 c. water = 1 c buttermilk
Buttermilk - I rarely buy buttermilk since most recipes I use it in only call for a little bit of it. One option is to make sour milk. Take 1 cup minus one tablespoon of milk (fresh or reconstituted dry) and then add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Stir it up and let sit for 5 minutes. You could also use buttermilk powder, a great product that stores practically forever in the refrigerator.

Butter - I think the butter is key to this recipe's moist texture. I keep a bunch of butter in the freezer so I always have some on hand. I'm pretty sure that substituting oil or powdered butter wouldn't work. Canned butter, on the other hand, is a possibility. Have any of you tried that before? Some people can their own butter, but I'm going to side with the USDA on this one and stick to commercially canned butter, available here. I plan on picking up some commerically canned butter and cheese at some point and I'll review it on my blog.

You must try this cornbread! It's heavenly served for dinner with chili or a hearty soup or even nibbled on at 2 AM in your PJs. Not that I know anything about that...

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread, by Bethany (The same Bethany of refried bean fame), posted on

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs (Or dry eggs)
1 cup buttermilk (Or sour milk or dry buttermilk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Inflation is coming, or rather, is already here

I don't watch Glenn Beck regularly. My personal political beliefs are a curious mixture of moderate, libertarian, and (occasionally) apathetic. Glenn Beck could very well be telling the truth about massive left wing conspiracies, etc. but the way he delivers his message makes me uncomfortable. I don't cotton to pontification. I prefer to hear both sides of the issue and make my own conclusions. The more I learn, however, the more Glenn Beck makes sense.

I did find yesterday's show interesting. After being tipped off to it by The Survival Blog and The Survival Mom, I tuned in and listened to his segments on inflation and food storage. I didn't think he gave very much useful information on food storage (he should have let Lisa, The Survival Mom, talk more!), but I appreciated his explanation on why we are going to experience inflation.

I sat on Hubby Dear and made him watch this with me. I've been trying to explain this kind of stuff to him but I'm notoriously bad with numbers and mathematical explanations. This did a better job.

If you've been shopping for groceries recently, you've probably noticed prices spiking on certain items. It sounds like we could very well be in store for more of this. This makes me want to buckle down even more and get my year's supply of food ASAP. I think more and more people are going to pull their heads out of the sand and realize food storage is only prudent.

The time for preparedness is now. If hyperinflation comes, the consequences for ordinary Americans will be huge.

What is the state of your food storage? If inflation goes nuts, how do you think your family will cope?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Tip: Stock up on Exam Gloves

This box of 200 gloves was $10.87 at Sam's Club
People are quite blase about H1N1 these days, but do you remember the frenzy in 2009? I have to admit that I was one of those who freaked out because A) I was pregnant and hormonal  B) Hubby Dear is in health care and regularly "brings his work home" and  C) I was a prepper and didn't know it yet!

I don't know about where you live, but the stores here quickly sold out of hand sanitizer and face masks the moment H1N1 reached our area. I unsuccessfully searched our local stores for those items and cursed myself for not being better prepared.

I've already got the hand sanitizer and masks in bulk and this month I added another pandemic/SHTF must - exam gloves. Think of all the uses these gloves have. Any time there is the chance you will come into contact with a sick family member's body fluids, you should use gloves. I can bring myself to do any number of gross things (clean up vomit, dispose of a dead rodent, etc.) if I have gloves on. And if the kids get really bored, they can blow them up into balloons.

Hubby Dear told me that I should remind you all that these kinds of gloves are not sterile. If you were, say, putting in stitches, performing surgery or delivering a baby, you would ideally have individually-wrapped sterile gloves. Keep that in mind when you need to take out Great Aunt Ethel's gallbladder post-TEOTWAWKI. ;)

Another thing to remember is that gloves come in several sizes. I bought size medium, which is the perfect size for me. It also works OK for Hubby Dear. I don't know about all brands of gloves, but these came with a sizing chart on the back. Hubby Dear works with people who wear anywhere between size small and size 2XL so you really need to make sure you check sizes before you buy a ton of gloves.

Sizing chart on the back of the box

Like most items you store, there are some storage considerations for gloves. Just like your food storage, they need a cool, dry place away from light.

Pick some gloves up the next time you go to the store. You might be very glad you did.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventures in Whole Wheat: My first home-ground loaf of bread

I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I've made bread since I was a teenager, but this is a definite first - 100% whole wheat bread made from flour ground by my own two hands. After I figured out my grain mill issues, I jumped right into a recipe for EZ Whole Wheat Bread from Crystal at Everyday Food Storage.

First, I milled just over two cups of wheat berries into 2 3/4 c. flour. It took me 7 minutes to grind it with my new Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe and it definitely gave me an upper body workout. Just another reason to get in shape!

Hand-ground flour made from hard white wheat

Next, I mixed together all of the ingredients for the bread in my Kitchenaid mixer, including this array of #10 cans:

Potato Flakes, Dry Milk, Vital Wheat Gluten and Hard White Wheat

This recipe includes vital wheat gluten, potato flakes, and vinegar as dough conditioners. They're supposed to help make the bread fluffy instead of a heavy brick.

My mixer took care of the kneading for 10 minutes or so while I cleaned up my kitchen. Two days of grain mill experiments had left it dusty and with a sprinkling of broken pieces of china. (Don't ask.)

Kneading the dough

The dough was heavy and gummy in texture when I set it aside to rise. After one hour, it was doubled in size

First Rising

and ready to be shaped into a loaf.

One more rising

Risen twice and ready for the oven

and then 25 minutes in the oven produced this golden beauty.

Ready to eat!

We usually eat Sara Lee 100% Whole Wheat bread, so my family is already accustomed to whole wheat bread. This was similar in many ways but definitely better.

Where's the butter?

It had a nice, light texture. Those dough enhancers worked their magic. I was worried what the texture would be like when I felt the dough after it was kneaded, but it turned out great. It sliced well and would make wonderful sandwich bread. Compared to the store bought bread, it had a sweet, fresh, "clean" taste and was very filling.

The only problem was that there was a slight gritty bite every so often. I think we still need to work on wearing down our mill's stones and that problem will go away.

This recipe is so tasty and easy that I can see myself making it often... after I get an electric grain mill.

If you haven't found Crystal's site, check it out. You will find her recipe for EZ Whole Wheat Bread here and her YouTube video demonstration here and here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Big Slice of Humble Pie: Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe Review Redux

After I posted my less than stellar review of the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill, I had this nagging feeling I was doing something wrong. All those great reviews of this product from numerous sources just couldn't be wrong, could they? I went back and read through my research, looking for any clue as to why my grain mill wasn't producing much flour.

I got the clue I needed from this four part series of YouTube videos.

I watched David (one of those YouTube preppers who regularly cracks me up) assemble his Wonder Mill.

Check. Did that right.

I watched Dave start grinding wheat and getting copious amounts of flour.


I paid close attention and then smacked myself in the head. Hubby Dear and I are officially idiots. Wanna know why?

We had been turning the handle in the wrong direction!! You're not going to get good results if you don't use it properly! I don't even want to admit how long we worked on that mill yesterday. We are s-t-u-p-i-d.

In our defense, the owner's manual doesn't say what direction you should turn the handle. (Clockwise, for fellow hapless grain millers). I guess I should be glad we're getting the kinks worked out now instead of during TEOTWAWKI.

Mostly I just feel dumb.

Hubby Dear getting the job done
Hubby Dear ground a cup of wheat into fine flour in.......three minutes. I cranked through the remainder of the 1 lb "break-in" wheat and I'm fixin' to grind some more for some bread.

In summary, my review of the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill is now completely positive. It is sturdy and it does work - if you use it correctly!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe Grain Mill

It's been a while since my post on selecting a hand grain mill. I've had to wait on Amazon's Super-Slow Super Saver shipping. Then one of the vagaries of rural life occurred. It rained cats and dogs so the Post Office couldn't deliver my package. Why would that matter? Our mail is delivered in a 4x4 pickup and all packages have to go in the bed of the truck. Rain = Emily has to make a drive into town to pick up the package at the Post Office. Bet you city folk never had to deal with that! ;)

After these trials and tribulations, I finally was able to put my grain mill to use.

Which grain mill did I pick? 

After weighing the pros and cons of the various options, I decided to buy the Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill.

Why I chose the Wonder Mill:
I immediately ruled out El Cheapo grain mills like the Victorio. I want to be able to grind fine flour with relative ease, which is pretty much impossible with those sorts of mills.

I also decided against higher end mills like the Diamant and Country Living Grain Mill. They have glowing reviews, but they each had a few features that I didn't like. One of those features would be the price! I did seriously consider getting the Country Living mill since you can buy a motorization kit. Together, the mill and motorization kit would run $745! It's much cheaper just to buy two mills.

That left mid-priced mills like the Lehman's Best and Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe. They had a lot going for them. Both had great reviews but I ended up choosing the Wonder Mill. Now that I've tried it, here's my review.

What I liked:
  • Solid metal construction. There's nothing plastic except the hand grip on the handle. It is very sturdy.
  • It comes with both stone milling heads and stainless steel burrs. The stone heads are for dry things like wheat and oats and the burrs work for oily nuts and seeds.
  • It has a solid clamp to attach the mill to the counter. I was very impressed with how solid and still it remained no matter who was doing the grinding.

What I don't like:
  • It takes a lot of shoulder power. I have a bum shoulder and it was really irritated by the motion.
  • It takes FOREVER to grind fine flour. I put one cup of hard white wheat into the capacious hopper and was STILL grinding it 45 minutes later. Granted, I had a lot of "help" from children and took time to make adjustments to the grind. I had read reviews that said it took people 5 minutes to grind a cup of wheat, so I think I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I'll try grinding it coarsely first and then putting it back through the mill.

What I got after 30 minutes of grinding. I have some fine-tuning to do.

An important note:
  • The instruction manual states that first you need to process about 1 lb of grain with the stone milling heads and discard that flour. You have to wear down the stone a bit so that you won't get grit in your flour.  
  • If you get a Wonder Mill Junior or similar hand mill, you want to open it up and and do that process NOW while grain is plentiful and you have free time on your hands.
I have to admit I am disappointed. I was looking forward to making a loaf of bread from freshly ground whole wheat today. That is so NOT happening. I'm going to do some more research and I'll report back if my review changes. I've also contacted the Wonder Mill company in case they can help. At any rate, I think an electric mill is in my future very soon!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Say it ain't so!

I was poised to write an entry about the Carnival Cruise ship debacle, but couldn't ignore this: They are predicting that the world will be hit with a chocolate shortage.

Tell me you didn't recoil in horror when you read that.

World demand for chocolate is increasing while the supply is decreasing. Raising cacao, the bean that gets made into chocolate, is back-breaking work and the farmers just don't get paid very well for it. As a result, cacao plantations in Africa are being abandoned as farmers look for other ways to make a living. Analysts predict that by the year 2030, chocolate may become an unaffordable luxury according to the article I read on this topic.

Chocolate isn't essential to life. Not technically, anyway. Most people I know, however, think chocolate is essential to their happiness.

The good news for those of us who build up food storage is that you can store chocolate for two+ years. The secret is to vacuum seal chocolate chips, candy, etc. in a mason jar with the aid of a FoodSaver. I've never done it since I don't own a FoodSaver (yet), but I read a helpful tutorial about it on Granny Smith's blog.

Sounds like we should all be adding chocolate to our food storage. Buy it when it's on sale, seal it up, and don't forget to rotate! I think I have some peanut butter M&Ms I need to rotate into my stomach right now...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let There Be Light

Although food storage is my first love, I do realize that there are many more aspects to prepping. It's just hard for me to focus on them when they are so far out of my comfort zone. Alternative power systems and firearms? I just don't have the knowledge base for preps in those areas, so I'm putting those off for now.

One area I do feel comfortable making some decisions in is lighting. If the electricity goes out, it is important to have a backup form of lighting. For one thing, it's a safety issue. You don't want to be stumbling around in the dark. For another, it can be a morale issue. Imagine being trapped inside your house during a blizzard or ice storm. The electricity goes off and your family huddles together for warmth. Darkness comes early but thankfully you have an old lamp and plenty of lamp oil. Suddenly the situation doesn't seem so scary. The "Blizzard of '10" may even become a cherished family memory.

First of all, everyone should have a supply of flashlights. You really cannot have too many of these. We have one by our bed, in our BOBs, in our vehicle kits, storm shelter, garage, and probably some other places I've forgotten.

You also need to have a large supply of batteries. We buy bulk packages of batteries from my favorite store, Sam's Club, and keep them organized by size.

We also have a couple of LED wind-up flashlights. No batteries needed for these.

Dusty but still functional
If you were in long term power down situation, you would really want to have some additional lighting options. A flashlight isn't so great to read, play a board game, cook, or eat by. For this, we're relying on an old solution - the oil lamp.

I already had an antique table lamp. Oil lamps like these can be picked up very cheaply in antique stores. My mother owns an antique store in our area and she actually doesn't stock these kinds of oil lamps. There is too great of a supply out there, so they don't sell very well. If you can't find a vintage one, you can buy new ones from Lehman's. If you don't have a copy of Lehman's catalog, be sure and order one. Lehman's Non-Electric Catalog is chock full of goodies for preppers and other self-sufficient types.

Who is the maid ? She should be fired!

I also already had this Dietz lantern which I did purchase at my mom's antique store. I'll admit it - I bought it a few years ago because I thought it was cute. Recently it crossed my mind that I should take a closer look at it and see if it is still functional. It needs a bit of cleaning - ok, maybe a lot - and a new wick and it should be ready to go. My Dietz "Little Giant" lantern was made sometime between the 1920s and 1950s and holds enough fuel to burn continuously for 70 hours. Again, this is something you can find cheaply at an auction or antique store (mine was $10 before the "family discount") or buy new from Lehman's.

Obviously when you have an oil lamp, you need to have oil to burn in it. There are three basic fuels to choose from:

1) Liquid Paraffin - This easy to find in places like Wal-Mart this time of year. Basically, it's a liquid candle. The good thing about it is that it doesn't smell or smoke when it burns.  Some people think it can clog the large, flat wicks that most oil lamps have. My mom has burned this stuff in her oil lamps for years and not had any problems, though.

2) Kerosene - Cheap and it burns well. Most oil lamps/lanterns will work well with it. It is a bit smelly when it burns.

3) KleanHeat - Think of this as a cross between options one and two. It doesn't smell or smoke and it won't clog your wick. You can use it in a wide variety of lamps and lanterns.

I went ahead and decided to go with option three, KleanHeat. I felt that it would be the best item to store since it was so versatile. You can buy KleanHeat here.

I also stocked up on lamp wicks. Check what size wick your lamp/s take before you buy!

When the lights go out, we'll be ready. What have you stocked up on for your lighting needs?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Got milk?

If you have played around with the food storage calculators that are out there, you'll notice that it is suggested that you store a huge amount of dairy products. For our family, the numbers work out to 270 pounds of dry milk, 54 cans of evaporated milk, and 57 lbs of "other", which would include dry cheese, butter, and eggs.

Ay chihuahua. That's a whole bunch of stuff that we don't normally use. And aren't you supposed to "store what you eat, eat what you store"? What's the point of storing all that milk, anyway?

Well, dry milk has the nutrients of fresh milk without worry of rapid spoilage or delicious taste. Oh wait...

The truth is that dry milk is a great source of protein and can be used in a wide variety of applications from drinking straight up to yogurt to smoothies to baked goods. It's one of the four basic foods (the others being wheat, honey, and salt) that would be enough to keep you alive.

It is important to note that the food storage calculators' numbers are based on REGULAR non-fat dry milk, NOT instant non-fat dry milk. If you choose to store instant milk, you need to store double that amount.

Crystal from has several really helpful videos on YouTube. The following one explains the difference between regular and instant dry milk. I highly recommend that you watch it.

After I watched this, I was convinced that we definitely needed to store regular non-fat dry milk. The space savings alone make that worthwhile. There was only one problem.

Where do you buy regular non-fat dry milk if you do not have access to an LDS cannery? Ever tried to find it in your local grocery store?

A #10 can of Regular Dry Milk from Walton Feed
I did manage to find a reputable source for regular non-fat dry milk - Walton Feed Company. Their prices aren't bad and they come highly recommended. A case of 6-#10 cans of regular dry milk costs $59. The catch is the shipping. It cost me over $20 to get my milk from their store in Idaho to the Harried Homemaker Acres. I did the math, however, and it will still save me a significant amount of money to buy regular dry milk instead of the instant.

Now how about the yuck factor. Again, Crystal has some great tips on how to mix it and doctor it up a bit.

One thing to note out about powdered milk is the shelf-life. Even if you buy all of your milk in #10 cans from a reputable dealer and you store it in ideal conditions (ie. cool, dark, and dry), powdered milk is one of the most perishable of your long-term storage items. I've found sources that say dry milk is good for 20 years, and that's probably true from a nutrition and safety standpoint. If you're wanting it to taste semi-decent, however, you had better rotate through your supply in 3-5 years. From what I hear, it gets pretty funky after that period of time.

My case of 6-#10 cans only adds up to 24 pounds of milk. That's not much toward the 270 lbs we need to store. There's bright side to building up our milk storage slowly, though. If I build our supply by purchasing a case every couple of months, the expiration dates of the milk will be spread out. If we just use a little bit along the way in our everyday meals, we'll be able to rotate our supply for maximum freshness.

Here's a link to the powdered milk section on Crystal's site. You can find a bunch of recipes that use powdered milk here so you can actually "store what you eat, eat what you store". I plan to use our milk in baking and other cooked recipes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall back, not behind

This Sunday is the end of Daylight Saving Time and most of us get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. Unless you live in Hawaii, Arizona, or have young children, that is. Baby Dear doesn't know anything about "Fall Back" and will wake up at his usual 5:45 AM, except that it will really be 4:45 AM without Daylight Saving Time. Can you say afternoon nap for Momma?

Firefighters and other safety personnel have long advocated checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months. It's easy to remember when you combine it with changing your clocks for Daylight Savings time. Test your detectors and change the batteries every six months. It's a quick, easy thing to do that could have big benefits. Did you know there has been a 50% decrease in deaths in fires since the 1970s? This is in large part to the prevalence of smoke detectors in our homes.

Those of us with a preparedness mindset should also take this opportunity to check the status of our BOBs and other preps. Switch out summer clothing for winter gear. Check and make sure your little weeds children still fit the clothing you have packed in case you need to get out of dodge. Have any of your stored items expired? Is it time to rotate your water supply? Check your inventory - have you used anything up and not replaced it?

Make it a habit. Daylight Savings Time = smoke detector testing and prep rotation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Selecting a Hand Grain Mill

I've had a couple hundred pounds of wheat since August but have been limited in what I can cook with it: blender pancakes, blender waffles, and disgusting hot cereal. Finally the day has come that I get to buy a grain mill. You can buy electric grain mills, hand grain mills, and ones that convert either way. I eventually want to have the capability to go electric for the time and labor savings, but it is most important to have a hand grain mill first. Otherwise TEOTWAWKI could happen and the only way my shiny electric grain mill would be useful is if it just so happened to grind some wheat as I threw it to the ground in frustration with my lack of foresight.

But what mill to pick? There a huge selection available and it's not like I can just walk into a dealership for a test drive. (Not in my neck of the woods, anyway.) So I did A LOT of reading. I read catalogs, reviews, and online listings. I read some more. I cross-referenced charts and watched videos. I gathered so much data that I practically overloaded. Here's some of what I looked at:

A comparison chart of hand and electric grain mills

The selection that Lehman's carries. Notes and reviews about several types

Purchasing the right grinder by Walton Feed Co. listings and reviews

Grain Mill Comparison Chart (the "German made" one is the popular Family Grain Mill)

To my mind, there are three main considerations in selecting a grain mill:
  1. Coarseness/fineness of end product - Will it make a true fine flour?
  2. Ease of use - How hard is it to turn? How long does it take?
  3. Durability - Will it stand the test of time?
Not to mention

    4.   Price

I read about el cheapo grain mills. 

Victorio Grain Mill, approximately $69

I carefully considered the virtues of the Family Grain Mill and the Country Living Grain Mills, both of which can be motorized.

Country Living Grain Mill, base price $395

I compared the Lehman's Best Grain mill with the Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe.

Lehman's Best, $169.95

Wonder Mill Junior Deluxe, $199.95

I drooled over this Diamant grain mill that costs more than my first car did.

Diamant Grain Mill, $1299

Which one did I select? And will I be pleased with my choice? You'll have to wait and see. My order is in. :)