Friday, September 23, 2016

Wild Foods, Why We Wild Harvest and Our Beauty Berry Jelly Recipe

  I cannot wait to get outside in late summer and fall months to gather all the things God has laid at our feet to use. We often wild harvest, not because we have to but because we want to! At least I do anyway. As well as growing a garden, our wild harvesting is another way to help feed the family healthy food for little to nothing. It's also a great way to get exercise and teach my children about the wild world around them. And it's so much fun to be outside with my little people, talking about the different ways God blesses our path. We discuss how sweating is good for our bodies, how the vitamin D we get from sunshine will be used in our bodies for calcium and which wild foods are ready next and where to find them. One reason the current generations know nothing about self sufficiency is because no one is teaching them. Ok parents, have you kept your kids from ever having to get dirty and then want them to go on a wilderness trip, just to hear them cry about how hot and sticky they are? How about bugs, dirt and worms? Yes, now is the time for a wake up call if you are not introducing them to the outside world and all it has to offer your family. Getting your bodies acclimated to the weather, being acquainted with the surroundings and knowing what foods are available are a need you may wish you have paid attention to if times get harder. I try to keep it pretty simple when teaching my kids but we are all sweating, learning and working together and that's the fun of it. Not to mention how much free food we are able to put up when others are forced to pay for it through grocery store lines. You can learn how also, and now is a great time to get started. Check out our YouTube channel for more ideas. Simply click the image labeled Our YouTube Channel, to the left of the screen when you finish reading here. It will take you straight to more free ideas on how to find herbs and plants in the wild and has some of my personal tried and true gardening tips.
  Have you seen this plant near you? If so, you also have access to free food!
  Harvesting foods from our garden and from the wild definitely makes a huge dent in our large grocery bill, but these are skills that take persistence to cultivate. Our house is full of folks (think Eight is Enough) but we certainly don't lack for anything, especially food. Wild harvesting is a wonderful way we spend time together and put back for winter. You too might want to start thinking very seriously about what (if anything) you have available to wild harvest if or when hard times hit you. Not all foods come in at the same time, do you know when each thing is ready? It's a real skill and takes years to learn. Somethings cannot be eaten mature, while others can. You need to be aware of these things BEFORE a hard situation hits you. Costs for foods rise no matter what. Start now so you can help your family save money. I've been wild harvesting seriously for about 12 years and I'm still learning more each time. When you aren't tied to a system that requires money changing hands, it is total food freedom. Not only is wild harvested food free of any pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, it's totally free except your time and a little work. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time with my children, than teaching them in a hands on way of an awesome Creator and how He provides for them. When your food is free given by God why would you turn your nose up to be dependent on others (like stores) for what you already have ?!?!  I for one, cannot express the joy I have seeing my children and I learn to harvest from the wild while at the same time we get to also enjoy putting up the fruits of our labor - literally.

Our find for this week is Beauty Berries. It is a beautiful purple fruit that grows in shady areas and forests across the country and is a bush of tall stalks. Berries are found in clumps on each stalk at every leaf section. Stalks reach 4 to 6ft tall. Often mistaken for a poisonous food, it is not. It's highly nutritious and makes a great jelly. It doesn't have a lot of flavor, but the essential oils I add in the recipe give it just enough tang to enhance it, kill any grassy flavor and make it into a really yummy jelly.

Here is the recipe:
 Beauty Berry Jelly
10 cups berries covered with 10 cups water, ( you can do more if you would like but use equal parts)bring all to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher as it boils and after boiling to infuse water with berry juices. Let sit for about 20min. Strain off busted berries and this will render about 6 cups of juice. Use 3cups of this juice per batch of jelly. You can double the jelly recipe but do not enlarge any more than that or it will not set up.

For each batch of Beauty Berry Jelly, pour 3 cups juice into stock pot and add the following ingredients.
2 Cups Organic Sugar
One box of Low Sugar Pectin Sure-Gel (Pink Box)

2 Drops Bergamot Essential Oil
3 Drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil
*The citrus essential oils will cut grassy taste commonly associated with wild berries and their products. Use in any wild berry recipe to get out the grassy taste.
I am a dumper and dump all above ingredients into stock pot. Bring all to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, it takes a while to get to this point. Once it is at this hard boil, then set a timer for 3 minutes. If you double recipe, you need to boil hard for 4 minutes. Once time is up, pour into your cleaned jars. Cap off with clean lids and turn jars upside down on counter for 10 to 15 minutes.
 Turn to upright position after about 15 minutes and viola. Wild beauty berry jelly is some of the prettiest jelly you have ever seen. It is magenta in color and absolutely stunning.
I hope if you make some, you will let me know how it turned out. Happy hunting for your wild foods! I hope you found this helpful. Melisa

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Two Highly Useful Essential Oils For A Pandemic!

 I have researched and used essential oils in home and business for almost two decades. This information is not coming second hand, but with experience. In the event of a national epidemic or pandemic, here are two highly useful oils you might want to have on hand. *Keep in mind MOST diseases that cause epidemics or pandemics are viral in form - from Zika Virus to Swine Flu. Although we have many antibiotics available there are not many anti-viral products. That's where essential oils can really be of some use to you and your loved ones. I am giving you combined years of research and am not quoting from just one source for my information. I highly recommend getting "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils" by Julia Lawless if you want to further your understanding of essential oils, how they are made, their principal constituents and main actions on the body. It gives detailed pictures, safety data, processing and even how each oil has been traditionally used. It's the best place to start, in my opinion. *Not all experts agree on every aspect of safety and some further research on your own is needed to understand each oil you use and their concerns. Some recommend not ingesting, while others are advocates of it. If your oils are tested and proven pure, it's then up to you to do the research and find what you are comfortable with doing. Many oils are not to be ingested by pregnant women or epileptics. There are some oils, even if 100% pure, that should not ever be ingested. Ravintsara is one example. It is toxic to ingest. So do your own homework and know your oils and the safety recommendations of each. Here are two highly useful oils, though often overlooked, I recommend for a pandemic and why.
  1- Litsea Cubeba Essential Oil. It is one of the highest quality anti-viral essential oils and has been shown effective at killing viruses such as flu, common cold, reducing cancer cells in the lungs and shown to aid in all respiratory issues from asthma to tuberculosis. This oil has also been proven effective at removing warts, calming nervousness, aiding in digestion and an awesome oil for sanitation purposes. I personally use it to clean animal dwellings such as a chicken coop or dog kennel.
*To make your own house cleaning spray simply add a few drops of Litsea Cubeba to 16oz of Witch Hazel. Then spray any surface, soft or hard. You can use in the kitchen and in the coop. When a sickness is coming through, make sure you spray the couches, curtains, shower curtains, and bedding. Put a few drops into the wash for sanitizing the laundry items.
  The fruits are shaped like small peppers and very citrus like in taste. The plant is native to India, China and Taiwan. The oil is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for pain, chills, headaches, travel sickness and even cardiac arrhythmia.  The germ fighting power is in the fact it contains 'citral' as it's principal constituent, up to 85%. This one oil is probably the most overlooked gem in the cold and flu season.

  2- Thyme Essential Oil. One of the earliest medicinal plants recorded. This oil boasts application in many areas. Some listed are acne, respiratory, disease prevention, dermatitis, body lice (scabies), head lice and internal pests. See my post here for the only remedy you'll ever need for lice. Thyme is highly anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-septic. The 'thymol' is it's principal constituent and is used today in most mouth washes. The original Lysterine mouth wash was created with Thyme essential oil for it's ability to kill germs and the bacteria that causes bad breath. Thyme oil is recorded as being effective for use on stress related illnesses, asthma, rheumatism, sore throat, chills, colds, flu and other infectious diseases. As recorded in the British Pharmacopoeia, Thyme essential oil is indicated for use with dyspepsia, chronic gastritis, bronchitis, pertussis, asthma and tonsillitis. It is one of the main ingredient for our Sore Throat Spray for it's highly effective germ killing abilities. *As mentioned above, to make any household disinfectant simply add a few drops of essential oil into 16oz of Witch Hazel and spray any surface.
  A real plus for Thyme is it's both a germ fighter and a pest killer. It is known that disease and pests are birds of a feather and usually flock together. This amazing oil has been reported to kill both internal and external pests effortlessly. A few drops in a carrier oil and rubbed into the skin or head of a person with lice or body lice could be very helpful to kill the pests. Put a few drops in shampoo and conditioner is another way to get the oil through out the scalp. A bath with a few drops Thyme oil could help animals with mange or people dealing with body or head lice. A spray on a bed with bedbugs could kill and repel them as well as mites and other bugs.
  *Thyme should not be ingested by pregnant women. When using any essential oil internally make sure it is diluted and of a food grade that has passed Gas Chromotography testing for 100% purity. This is the only way to tell if an oils is truly pure and uncut. I hope you found this to be helpful.

Monday, September 5, 2016

"City Can't Pay it's Bills", typical American headline. Election is just 'changing of the guard' on the Titanic.

  * Washington Post article is linked below and is one of many reasons for writing this. I hope it sinks in. Here is what was in the Costco flyer for September.
Any questions?!?! Yeah, Mountain House is at Costco! Things that make you go hmmm....
If your still in denial about the direction of our economy, I just cannot do much more for you. Roll over, close your eyes and go back to sleep.
As more and more cities go bankrupt, I am so thankful we heeded the warning signs when we did. I have tried with all my might to offer help to those interested and even homesteader classes. No one is willing to get dirty or sweat. The article I list below is exactly why we were willing to leave the convenient life in the city, for the hard and dirty life of the country. We now enjoy the freedom to let our kids run barefoot because it's a choice, not because the money isn't there. Very shortly those people who refuse to leave their city life behind will no longer have that choice. Children will be running around barefoot due to a lack of money and guts on the part of the parents to build a sustainable life for their children in the country while they had the chance. Food that could be grown with a little hard work, will not be anywhere in sight. Eventually that bloated city money will stop and you will wish you had been willing to work for you food or move and drive a little farther but didn't because it wasn't convenient. And hasn't it struck you as odd that Costco is selling preps and other survival supplies? What do they know that you will not admit? Ship is going down folks and this election is just the 'changing of the guard' on the Titanic. Stop sending the GOP your money and buy a small farm house and get busy. Rent a fixer upper on the edge of a small community and commute to work. There are tons of little old houses in rural communities that rent for pennies on the dollar. You can do something to put your family into a better place. But get growing you some food now before seeds are being rationed as well as water. It happens every time folks, read history. I've heard every excuse out there, but your starving kids won't understand!
   Here is a typical head line for America. “City Can’t Pay It’s Bills, Making Major Cut Backs.”
Well, ya don't say?!?! How many times will the people who get up and still have a job overlook that it is only a matter of time before it’s their turn to loose it. I heard it said this way, “A recession is when your neighbor looses his job and a depression is when you loose yours.” Very well said. It’s not going to be enough for people to think only about food storage and how much prepping they can do from now to SHTF. You cannot store enough food to last your family several years! You people are going to have to realize that city life and easy money is based on a complete and total lie that is about to come crashing down. The city is a great way of life, but not sustainable for the long haul. One city after another is getting it’s hand dealt to it after waking up to the reality that NO ONE is too big to fail in the lower 99%. Those of us at the bottom of the food chain will have to totally find a way to fend for ourselves. No big banks care or will bail us out. So in the spirit of love, get yourself moving in a sustainable way before you loose everything! Can you live without power? Can you live on a 15ft x 15ft garden? Can you buy all the preps to feed yourself and family for about 5 yrs or until the economy turns around? I bet the answer to all of these are NO. If so, get the heck out of dodge and get busy on a homestead BEFORE it's too late and your stuck in a crash!
  See very eye opening article here at this link, Yes, another American city is going to have to make cuts to all of it’s services such as fire, police, trash, museums, ball teams and even the education of it’s children. The Fire Dept actually had some equipment repossessed. And what they don't tell you is how the city taxes will have to go up just to maintain the 'about to die status'. But why? Because “pride cometh before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall.” Yes America will fall on it’s face financially and if the people do not begin NOW to prepare a sustainable way to exist they will starve themselves to death. Disposable and hyped up on credit is how the majority of the American people have chosen to live and it’s coming home to roost. You cannot live off of lies and fake money before it makes the full circle and comes time to pay to the piper. Remember Detroit? I wish I could make the mass of you reading this see how it’s only a matter of time before you are the fireman or school teacher who gets the cut. Only another 6 months before you cannot pay the mortgage or car note. Why you do have a car note anyway? You should be forgoing credit and buying only what you can afford. But that's another soap box. What could it be, only a year or two before your trash services aren’t an option and you must be forced to burn or bury your trash? Burning isn’t an option for those in the city and if you cannot afford to dump it yourself, well you should now see how diseases can take over a community quickly. What about the foods you have stored? Well the guys that lost their jobs two years ago are waiting for you to make one wrong move and they will help you with that. Or maybe you're already thinking about a bug out location? It's not going to work long term. Especially with a soil that has never been tilled or worked. What will you do then? You need to seriously get your family unplugged and on the path to sustainability BEFORE it's too late. You need food foraging skills NOW. You need a wife that doesn't whine about her nails getting done and her new clothes so you can buy garden seeds and a good $500 tiller NOW. You need to stop taking them out to eat and start learning how to milk a goat or grow potatoes NOW. If you aren't getting my drift, you will be staring at a starving family in the face. It takes a bit of time to get all the pond to feel the ripples, but eventually ALL THE POND FEELS THE RIPPLES.
  It's not about the amount of preps you have. That is also disposable. You need to return to the way of life that made this country great. At the turn of the 20th century the American population had about 90% of the entire population in farming. Now we have less than 1%. One question America, if you aren't willing to grow your own food and get a little sweaty or dirty, do you think when a crisis comes someone else is going to do that for you? Forget it, you will starve if you cannot start now figuring out how to homestead and use wild foods to get your family in a better position for the long term. We (my husband and I) both work and work the farm. We do it because it's a way of life that will be rewarding in the long run, not because it's easy. I cannot give anyone reading this a desire or wisdom but I can say, act now to avoid what is soon coming to a city near you. And remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I hope you will check out my youtube channel for homesteading tips, wild foraging, soap making and herbal remedies. God put man in a garden to tend it and keep it. We left God and the land we were given, the consequences are about to be rendered. I hope you all find your way back to a love for Him and sustainable way of living, because it's the only thing that can truly feed you body and soul when you're hungry physically and spiritually and your preps have run out. I don't think you will like the results of ignorance. "If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?" TJ

Thursday, September 1, 2016

How to build the best bug out bag for large families - stop spending money on junk!

  Happy preparedness month! I would like to share with you my large family 'bob' and how to build your own. I have read many articles about camping bags, wilderness survival bags, bug out bags and so on. I have looked at so many and in my humble opinion most of them are a waste of money. I am a Mom of six and for all the bases I want to cover we cannot afford to waste what money we do have. I have my spin on the 'bug out bag' because I would need to rent a U-Haul to include everything we might need in a survival situation or intense camping trip. So for those of you who also have large families, I'm giving you the best options that I have found, showing you how to build your own or add to the one I think is the very best on the market. I hate wasting money on cheap crap, so I've searched the web and am sharing the best I have found/use for our family, so y'all will quit spending money on big band aids and other useless junk. *This is my honest, unbiased opinion and unpaid advice. It's not too hard to put together a great bag for many people, just requires a bit more thinking to make it work well. Pace your self financially and do one thing at a time if you need too. Buy things in steps so as not to over whelm or discourage yourself.
  To start with I would highly recommend looking at this one here, it's the best for the money. Just think about who will carry what ahead of time, so you can lot items based on abilities. It's a big bag, so think ahead. Although I have a much larger family than four, it can easily be built on for camping or survival by adding a few more ration bars which run about $10), rain coats (which are around $1 at Walmart) and a few tooth brushes ($4). It comes with everything you would need to provide water, food, rain cover and shelter a four person group for 3 days. Add those extras mentioned for more people. It also has a fire starter, lighter, basic tent, water bottle, bandages, multipurpose tool and other items most kits leave out. I hate to see so many people buying bags that lack in those needed items. Essentially a lot of people are spending money on big band aid kits. When you're not getting much more than assorted size bandages, it's a waste of money in my book. I want diversity and to be able to address just about anything that may come up. *Whether you buy a kit, carry these things in your pocket or build your own bag, you must have these things in your 'bob'. These are the most important of all: knife and/or multi-tool, cord, cover for rain, emergency blanket for cold, light of some kind, water or small filter to drink from wild habitats, some food, basic first aid, a good compass and map. Most bags have to have the last two added in by you. Only you know where you're headed and it's your job to cover that. The one mentioned above has all thes but I want to have a bit more, like the ability to deal with bigger wounds and things of that nature.
  So on to the medical part. That bag also has a descent medical kit enclosed, but this basic medical trauma bag is great as well if your just looking for medical. At a reasonable price of $19.99, it comes with a lot and is the best to start with, for the money. You do need a good suture kit to go in all your survival/camping/bug out bags! You can buy this one very inexpensively here. With the suture kit, you will need clean utensils and this pack here is good. *I am NOT advising anyone to suture or perform any medical procedure themselves. This is for emergency use only, in the event a doctor/vet cannot be gotten to. This article by Dr. Joe Alton is the very best one on emergency suturing I have ever read. It cuts to the important issues and gives you a short crash course on when to and when not to close a wound. *Don't forget clotting cloths or Alum powder (the canning kind). In the basic medical trauma bag mentioned above, the clotting cloths are included. You can buy them separately, but will run you $10 to $15 a piece. The basic medical trama bag not only covers bleeding but has a tourniquet kit and directions as well! *Bleeding will be intensive if it is a full moon and much less or a non issue during quarter moon. You should research that now, before it's needed. Moon phases effect the gravitational pull of things on earth. *Note* if you have the money to spend at once and want everything mentioned already and don't want to have to track down each individual item to put things in your kit or medical bag, this one is compact and designed by a doctor. It's on my list next. While your at it, read this very important book BEFORE tragedy strikes or you find your self needing some basic medical knowledge. (Special Forces Med Book)
  Now that you have food, water, rain/shelter medical and heat covered, you will need to remember a few other things: a map of the area you are traveling in and a good compass (this one is great for the price). If  you're traveling with little ones DO NOT FORGET TO PACK EXTRA DIAPERS, WIPES, AND TOILET PAPER! I always throw in underwear and pants for any toddlers that are with us. I always keep this Super Salve (a product we do make) in ours as kits/bags as well. It is great for any minor wounds, cuts, diaper rash, scrapes or burns. Leaves no scarring and help speed healing. From nasal wounds/polyps to rashes, it has always come in handy and could be used as a moisturizer in as well. For lighting, I choose this hybrid flash light here. I read a review from a vet, who tested several and it got the top score. It works whether by solar or LED battery but every single time you turn it on, it works! The solar option is very strong and it's water resistant as well. For the price we bought a couple and it's brighter than any other lights we have (flash lights or head lamps).
  A few other needed items I have put into our kits are: an extra bar of soap and a wash cloth or two in a gallon size freezer bag (baby wipes run out fast and I want to wash up myself), an ACE bandage, saline to flush a deep wound of debris or aid in eye/ear/nose/throat care, super glue or Newskin (for shallow cuts), a topical pain killer such as Lidocaine or Clove essential oil, a cleaning solution such as peroxide or iodine, and our Essential Oil Survival Kit. The Essential 7 Kit comes neatly in a small pouch and will cover everything from bug repellent and upset stomach to basic first aid issues. Instructions are included. *Don't forget any back up meds that may be required for sustaining life such as heart meds, Epi-pen, Benadryl for allergies or inhaler for an asthmatic. If your doctor knows your traveling, he usually will write you an extra dose prescription for 'just in case'. You can also buy your own inexpensive backpack and a can of Scotchguard for making the bag water repellant. Spray the bag and make your own from these suggestions here.
  These things are essentially what I use/do and would advise anyone with a large family to look at when purchasing a bag or building their own for real life camping, travel or survival situations. I hope this is helpful for those of you who travel, camp or need a survival bag for a large family. For more on wild herbs/homesteading/gardening and the like, check out our Youtube channel at Homestead Moma.