Friday, December 30, 2011

What This Closet Prepper Got for Christmas

I am still "in the closet" about my prepping to my family and friends. I prefer it that way due to OPSEC concerns and to avoid the inevitable taunting. My dad and brother were discussing rifles at our family Christmas gathering. When I declared my interest in getting a rifle for shooting varmints, everyone got a look on their face like I had begun singing "Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay" and performing the Can-Can right there in the living room. I hadn't even mentioned anything about zombies! Yes, indeed, it is much easier for me just to stay under the radar.

However, that doesn't mean I can't receive prepping-related presents from my relatives for Christmas! I have two wish lists. One is public and has items that even a supposedly wimpy, squeamish person like myself would want. My other wishlist is set up to be private. I use it to keep track of more "hardcore" prepping items that I want to remember to add to our gear but do not want to let the whole world know about.  I was fortunate enough to receive a selection of items from my public wishlist and I thought I'd briefly review each. You may want to add these to your own wish lists!

1. A Coffee/Spice Grinder

Neither Hubby Dear nor I are coffee drinkers, so I didn't get this for the first function. Once you grind spices in a coffee grinder, you wouldn't want to use the grinder for coffee, anyway, unless you like your coffee to have a kick! Whole spices last longer than ground ones do, so they are better for long term storage. This little gizmo will quickly grind whole spices into a fine powder. I got this primarily to turn our homegrown cayenne peppers into ground red pepper. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on that process.

2. A Galvanized Chicken Fount

Both of my in-laws grew up on farms that raised chickens for eggs. They don't have the fondest memories of chicken keeping and I think they are privately expecting our chicken experiment to crash and burn. Nevertheless they bought me this chicken waterer. That's what you call love.

And now for the books....

3. The Heirloom Life Gardener by Jere and Emilee Gettle

Many of you are familiar with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. If you aren't, you should be! I truly admire the founder, Jere Gettle; how can you have anything but respect for someone who starts a groundbreaking seed company at the age of 17? When I found out that he had put out his own gardening book, I knew I had to have it.

Once I read it, however, I was a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong. It is full of gorgeous pictures and it is an unintimidating introduction to gardening. I was sad for two reasons. First, it was written with such a bland voice. I am sure that anyone who wears the colorful duds that Jere Gettle favors is much more entertaining than this book lets on. (Do a Google search for him and look at the photos and see what I'm talking about!) Second, and most importantly, it just didn't have that much new information for me. It would look cute on my coffee table, but not get much use.

Here's my advice: just get the free Baker Creek catalog. Many of the photos and some of the text are reprinted there! If you are interested in more in-depth information, I prefer Seed to Seed for information on seed saving and All New Square Foot Gardening, Four-Season Harvest, Mini Farming, and The Resilient Gardener for general gardening info.

4. Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes by Janice Cole

When my old college roommate read on Facebook that I was getting chickens, she recommended that I get this book. Since I love "city girl goes country" type memoirs, I thought this would be perfect for me and added it to my wish list. Chicken and Egg is a nice book, but I would classify it as mostly a cookbook with a bit of the author's life thrown in. The recipes look delicious and I'm sure to turn to this book once my 16 (!) prospective hens start laying. If you're looking for a true memoir, try The Dirty Life,which is one of the best books I read in 2011.

5. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch by Jennifer Reese

This book is based on a fun concept. What commonly store-bought foods are worth making yourself? Which should you have no guilt about purchasing? Jennifer Reese spent years perfecting recipes for items like Worcestershire sauce, Camembert, and tahini. This book reminds me of "Julie and Julia" - the movie, that is, not the book. (The movie was cute, but I do NOT recommend the book for those who are offended by foul language and loose morals. It made me feel dirty when I attempted to read it.)  I'm looking forward to trying some of the more obscure recipes in this book. I've made my own laundry detergent and grind my own wheat, so I guess this is the next logical step!

6. The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips

I'll admit that I was first attracted to this book because of the photo on the front cover. The author looks like my brother, a Deadhead and youthful-troublemaker turned responsible husband and father. That has nothing to do with apples or this book, but I thought I'd throw that in there! ;)

I had the chance to borrow the first edition of this book from our local library and I was immediately impressed. If you want to grow apples organically, this is a fabulous resource. The book I bought is the revised and expanded edition. It has color pictures and even more useful information. Hubby Dear and I will spend a lot of time pouring over this book and putting the information into practice.

7. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers by Harvey Ussery

I saved the best for last. I love, love, love this book. It is certainly the most helpful chicken book I have read, and believe me, I've read them A LOT of them. It has color pictures and is full of very down-to-earth, detailed advice. It is the perfect book for those of us who are interested in self-sufficiency since it gives instruction on how to grow your own feed and breed your own chicks. This book and Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens are destined to be my go-to guides on chickens.

Did you get or give any prepping-related gifts this Christmas? 

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thank you for your honest book reviews - I was thinking about ordering The Heirloom Life Gardener but now I think I will skip it, or wait for it to come to the library. It would have meant spending my limited egg money and not being happy with the purchase.
    No prepping gifts this year, but I did recieve a beautiful white enamelware breadbox and a handmade bracelet from my parents. My husband recieved a new shop-vac, which will definately come in handy here!
    PS - The Dirty Life was awesome! Can't wait for her next book!