Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Clean a Squirrel

I used to do a lot of squirrel hunting, but I didn’t usually clean the squirrels. My husband did that. I killed the squirrels, he cleaned them, I cooked them, and he ate them. That seemed like a pretty fair arrangement. One day I decided I needed to learn how to dress the squirrels by myself in case my survival ever depended on it, so I proceeded with doing so. It took me forever to get the skin and hair off!  That’s the hardest part of dressing a squirrel – getting the skin and fur off.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so I figure a how-to video is worth even more. The man in the attached video has a good system for cleaning squirrels. I learned to use a similar method, but I used a knife instead of a cleaver. I like the cleaver idea, though. I think it probably works better than a knife.
It’s of utmost importance to use a very sharp knife or cleaver. It’ll make your job much easier and much quicker. I’ll be adding my favorite squirrel recipes soon, so stay tuned!

Squirrel Hunting Tips: Sit-and-Wait Method

I used to really enjoy squirrel hunting, and it’s a great way to use the woods for survival. In many areas across the country, squirrels are numerous and can be found pretty easily. Before you go trekking off in the woods in search of squirrels, you might want to do a little scouting first to find out where the furry critters normally feed.
How to find the squirrel “restaurants”
You’ll find a stroll through the autumn woods relaxing and enjoyable. Before squirrel season opens, you can discover where they like to feed. You might want to do this in the middle of the day, when squirrels are usually less active. That way, you won’t have to worry about scaring them away.
First of all, you have to find an area that has something that squirrels eat. In my neck of the woods, that’s usually acorns or pine nuts. Look to the forest floor for evidence that squirrels have been feeding. When undisturbed, squirrels will usually consume any food they find on the spot. As they eat, they’ll drop bits of nut shell if they’re feeding on acorns. If they’re eating pine nuts, you’ll often find chewed-up pine cones on the forest floor.
When to hunt for squirrels
I’ve found that squirrels are most actively feeding in the early morning and in the late afternoon. These are also great times for squirrel hunting because you can use the long rays of the sun to your advantage, especially if the trees haven’t yet shed their leaves.
Find a spot
Once you know where squirrels frequent, walk to the spot with your gun and find a comfortable spot. I like the sit-and-wait technique for squirrel hunting. This usually involves a tree stump or a felled tree trunk. Face the direction of the sun. This will help you see the outline of the squirrel, even if a lot of leaves are present.
Get comfortable, with your gun ready, and watch for any movement. Use your ears, too. Listen for rustling leaves, nut shells or pine mast hitting the forest floor, and squirrel chatter or barks.
Shooting the squirrels
What gun is best for squirrel hunting? I like to use a .22 rifle without a scope because it’s a lot more challenging. If you’re hunting for survival purposes, however, you probably aren’t much interested in a challenge. You want to put food on the table! In that case, use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with #5 shot or larger. You don’t want to use anything smaller. Squirrels are small, but they’re harder to kill than you think, and you don’t want to leave a wounded animal to suffer needlessly.
When shooting a squirrel, aim for the head or upper body, near the shoulder. That’s where the vital organs are located. If you made a good shot and the squirrel falls, go fetch it immediately. If it’s not dead, kill it. A quick blow to the head with a large stick will do the trick. Place the dead squirrel in a plastic bag or in your hunting pouch. Return to your seat, be still, and wait for the next squirrel to be spotted!

Is Deer Hunting Cruel?

I’m always bemused by those who consider deer hunting cruel, yet they don’t have a problem munching on fried chicken or gobbling down a T-bone steak. C’mon – you can’t have it both ways! Do they think that the animals they’re eating died of natural causes? Domestic livestock, in most cases, endure terrible lives. Chickens in large factory farms live in tiny cages, and cattle and pigs raised on factory farms spend all their time in crowded feedlots. Most never even get to experience grass beneath their hooves. Instead, they feel hard cement day in and day out. They have no quality of life at all.
And then comes the time for killing. Some of these animals spend hours or even days crammed into big trucks, without food or water. Then they stand in line, awaiting their turn for slaughter. I won’t go into all the grisly details here, but suffice it to say that many of these animals are not killed humanely. In view of this, I think you can understand why I think hunting is kinder than killing domesticated farm animals for food. So why do some meat-eating humans consider deer hunting to be a cruel practice?
Honestly, I think it’s because deer are beautiful, graceful creatures. I mean really, compare a whitetail deer to a cow or pig. Cattle and swine are not particularly attractive, nor are they graceful. But does that make them any less able to experience pain and agony? Does a deer have more of a right to live just because it’s cute?
Deer need to be harvested for the survival and health of the herd. At least, this is true in most places in the U.S. that support significant populations of whitetail deer. Also, many of the humans harvesting the deer are the very ones who enable the deer ‘s survival in the first place by planting food plots and allowing the deer to graze in their pastures. Even hunter’s who don’t help feed the deer directly support wildlife whenever they purchase a hunting license.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easy Largemouth Bass Recipe

I’ve already posted an article about getting free food for survival from oceans, but freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams shouldn’t be overlooked. Many of these waters are teeming with great-tasting fish like bream, catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass, and here in the South, the largemouth bass is king! If you need a largemouth bass recipe, click the link. There’s one posted below, too.
The following largemouth bass recipe is one I came up with several years ago when hubby and I were spending a few days at Lake Blackshear. I got bored one afternoon and decided to flip a plastic worm around some cypress trees next to the bank. I was surprised when I pulled in a largemouth bass that weighed three or four pounds. I decided to cook the fish for our dinner.
We were stating at a friend’s lake house, so I didn’t have my own supply of groceries. There was, however, a large BBQ grill outside – one of the old-fashioned brick numbers. We had brought along some charcoal, and I searched the fridge and cabinets for some appropriate ingredients. This is what I came up with, and it was really good:
Easy Grilled Largemouth Bass recipe
1 dressed bass
1 cup bottled Italian salad dressing
Grated parmesan cheese
Directions: Clean fish by removing entrails, scales, head, and gills. Salt liberally – inside and out.
Place bass in a shallow dish and cover with Italian dressing. Marinate in the refrigerator for an hour, turning after 30 minutes.
Remove fish from marinade and grill over medium-low heat. Cook both sides, but try to turn as little as possible. When fish is almost done, sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese and grill five more minutes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grow Tomatoes! How-to and Tips

My family and I consume lots of tomatoes. After all, they're a southern food favorite! Want to know how to grow tomatoes for a survival garden? Growing a vegetable garden can be one of the most satisfying activities you'll ever experience, and a good garden could mean survival for you and your family. You'll get all kinds of vegetable gardening tips from well meaning friends and neighbors - so much so that you might feel overwhelmed if you're a beginning vegetable gardener. Vegetable gardening for beginners can, indeed, seem like a daunting task.
Vegetable gardening, however, doesn't have to be so confusing. Just read what you can about the vegetables you want to grow, roll up your sleeves, and get to work!
As a vegetable gardener, one of my favorite vegetables to grow is tomatoes. Or is that a fruit? I think that debate is still raging. Nothing beats the taste of a tomato fresh out of the garden! And I’m convinced that South Georgia grows the best in the world. I can just hear you readers in other parts of the country arguing with me, but I’ve tried fresh tomatoes from all over, and I haven’t tasted one that matched our maters! The ones I had from Indiana were a close second, I must admit.
If you're a beginning vegetable gardener and are interested in growing tomatoes, I’ll share what I’ve learned with you. These tips might not be appropriate for your garden, depending on your soil type and endemic pests and diseases. Here in South Georgia, we have a sandy loam type of soil.
Planting – You can start with garden seeds, but plants might be better for a beginning vegetable gardener. Garden seed are cheaper, but growing tomatoes from started plants is more reliable and  quicker. We always planted our tomato plants deep so that the thirsty roots could get moisture more easily. Be sure to plant your tomatoes far enough apart, going by the directions on the plant cup for that specific type. If you don’t allow at least two feet between plants, the lack of air circulation can invite diseases. Vine tomatoes should be planted three feet apart. Rows should be four or five feet apart.
Where to plant – Grow tomatoes in bright sunshine. Tomatoes, like other vegetables, need plenty of sun. In South Georgia, however, there can be too much of a good thing. We often planted our tomatoes on the east side of taller plants like corn or okra. This gave the tomatoes some protection from the harsh afternoon sun.
Mulching – I used heavy mulch around and in between each plant. This cut down significantly on weeds and helped the plants retain moisture. I tried several different mulching materials and found that clean pine straw worked best for me. I believe you Yankees refer to this as “pine needles.” You can also use old newspaper, commercial mulch, or hay. If you use hay, however, make sure it’s free of seeds and mold.
Staking or caging – Grow tomatoes in cages or tied loosely to stakes. Tomato plants that are staked or caged are less likely to get diseases from contact with the soil. By keeping the leaves and fruits away from soil contact, you’ll have fewer problems growing tomatoes that are healthy.
Pruning and suckering – Suckers should be pinched off to make the plant bushier. Late-season varieties may also need pruning if they start to get too tall and leggy.
Fertilizing – Before planting, have your soil tested to discover what nutrients it lacks. We always add just a little all-purpose vegetable fertilizer when planting. When the first fruits are about a third of their final size, side dress with 10-10-10, at five pounds for every 100 feet. If your soil is calcium poor, add about three pounds of calcium nitrate for every 100 feet, too. These should be worked into the top inch or so of soil. Two weeks after you pick the first ripened fruits, repeat the side dressing, and again four weeks later.
Watering – Tomatoes require A LOT of water. In fact, a single plant that is producing fruit might need a gallon of water a day. You need to water deeply so that the root system will grow deep. This is sometimes a difficult process in the hot summers of South Georgia. What I did was to use plastic two-liter soda bottles with the bottom cut off. I inverted a bottle and buried it about halfway right next to the roots of each plant. I soaked the soil every day, plus I filled each bottle to serve as a reservoir. This kept the moisture at a consistent level.
Problems I've seen with growing tomatoes – and solutions
 Tobacco mosaic virus – This is the most persistent virus found among plants. It can survive for more than 50 years in dried plants, and there’s no way to cure it in a specific plant. The best thing to do is to buy plants that are resistant to the disease. Keep a close eye on your tomato plants to see if they develop TMV – look for splotches of yellow, dark green, and pale green in mosaic patterns on leaves. Fruits of affected plants will often have discolored patches and blister-like places on the skin. If you spot the virus, remove the affected plants and thoroughly wash your hands before touching healthy plants and garden tools. Also, don’t handle healthy plants after smoking.
 Blossom end rot – Tomato plants that have blossom end rot will bear fruits that have a dark spot or other discoloration at the blossom end. To prevent this common problem, add lime to the soil around the tomato plant.
 Radial cracking – This appears as cracks on the top of the fruit. To avoid this problem, make sure watering is consistent.
  Anthracnose – This is caused by a fungus. The ripe fruits are covered with dark bull’s eye shapes. Use fungicide sprays.
 Buckeye rot – This appears as brown spots on green or ripe fruits. To avoid this condition, stake plants to keep them off the soil, and make sure the soil has sufficient drainage. Crop rotation also helps.
 Fusarium wilt – Plants with fusarium wilt will have drooping leaves that turn brown and die. Buy plants that are resistant to the disease, keep soil at a pH of 6.5 -7, and practice crop rotation.
Spotted wilt virus – This virus causes new leaves to turn a bronze color, and small black specks will appear. The plants will wilt as the disease spreads. Spotted wilt virus is carried by thrips – insects that cannot be controlled with insecticides. Infected plants must be removed and destroyed. Mulching will help keep the thrips from the plants.

Early blight – This appears on the leaves as black spots surrounded by a yellow halo. Buy plants that are resistant to blight, fertilize well, and rotate crops
Sunscald – This is caused by too much sun exposure to fruits. It appears on green fruits as light colored hard spots that will eventually blister and become sunken. To avoid sunscald, provide shade for the plants during the hottest part of the day.

Stink bug damage – This one took us a while to figure out! Some of our ripe tomatoes would have white or pale yellow streaks in them. We took a couple of affected fruits to our county agent, who couldn’t identify the problem. He sent them to the University of Georgia, and the experts there told us it was a virus carried by stink bugs. We sprayed the garden with insecticide to kill the stink bugs, and the problem was solved!

Other bugs – All kinds of worms and insects might attack your tomatoes. Spray and/or dust the plants regularly to keep the pests at bay.

Survival Food
Growing tomatoes successfully can mean a bountiful crop. You’ll probably eat lots of tomatoes fresh from the garden, but you’ll likely also have plenty to put up for future survival food like tomato sauce, soup mix, and homemade ketchup. Why are such tomato products a good survival food? Because they’re loaded with a powerful antioxidant, lycopene. Cooked tomatoes also contain iron, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Save Money on Gas with GasBuddy! It's free and easy!

Financial survival means being able to live from paycheck to paycheck, hopefully with a little left over for a rainy day. Gas prices are really eating into not only American budgets, but budgets across the world. Gas is nearing the $4 mark in our small Southern town, and it’s much higher than that in a lot of U.S. cities. Of course, gas prices vary within cities, too. You might be surprised by how much they can vary from store to store or from station to station. So how you can be sure you’re getting the best deal in your town? Are you supposed to drive around looking at the posted prices, wasting gas in the process?
Well, you could do that, but an easy way to find the cheapest prices in your area is to go to I checked the site out before recommending it, and it works! The prices I found were correct, and getting the information is totally free. All you do is type in your zip code, and you’ll be presented with a list of stores and gas stations in your town or city that have the lowest gas prices. The price of gas at each store is provided, along with the store’s address.
Even if you save only a few cents a gallon, it adds up! This is especially true if you drive a lot of have a big gas guzzler. Try it for yourself! Remember, it’s free, with no strings attached.

How to Cut Up a Chicken

Chicken is a major component of Southern food. If you’ve been following this series of raising and harvesting chickens as a means of survival, you know that we’ve already killed, plucked, and cleaned the chickens. Your birds can be frozen or cooked whole, of course, but if you want to cut it into “fryer” pieces, continue reading.
My dad was the world’s expert in cutting up chickens. He and my brother always had a running contest to see who could do the job the quickest. Daddy could cut up a chicken in just under ten seconds, and this wasn’t a one-time fluke. He could do this on a regular basis. How? Because he had so much experience doing it. Not only had he been butchering chickens for his family since he was a child, he also owned a grocery store. He’d get big boxes of whole chickens in, and he’d have to cut them up for his customers. Dad also had the right tools for doing the job. He used a very sharp knife and a very sharp cleaver. He also had a chopping block made of a huge piece of oak.
Unless you’re proficient with handling a meat cleaver, you’ll do better using a chef’s knife. Just make sure it’s super sharp. Since you probably don’t have a chopping block, you can use a sturdy cutting board. If you keep your knife wet as you cut, the meat won’t tear.
Place the chicken on the cutting board. You want to break down the chicken at its joints. Instead of my explaining this process to you, I think this video will be much more helpful:

Fresh homegrown chicken is the best chicken you'll ever eat! No preservatives, no hormones, no additives - just great-tasting chicken! We Southerners love our chicken, especially fried chicken - an extremely popular Southern food. Wanna know how to make some amazing crispy fried chicken? Or how about some Geechee fried chicken? Or some honey-pecan glazed fried chicken? Just click the links to get the recipes!

How to Dress a Chicken

Once your chicken has been plucked, it will need to be dressed – the innards have to be removed. To do this, lay the chicken on its back and look for the point of the breastbone. Using a very sharp small knife, insert the point of the knife into the chicken and cut down towards the anus. Do not cut all the way to the anus! Stop just before you get there. Cut around the anus in a circular motion, being very careful not to cut through the intestines or any other internal organs. At this point, some people like to tie a string around the end of the intestine to keep any fecal matter from coming in contact with the meat.
Once the anus has been removed, you’ll need to reach your hand inside the abdominal cavity and pull out all the organs. You’ll need to really push your hand in all the way to get the heart and the windpipe. After all the organs have been removed, cut off the neck and the lower legs. Rinse the bird well and place it immediately in an tub or dishpan filled with cold water and ice.
Your home-grown chicken is now ready to eat! If you’ve never eaten a fresh chicken that was home-grown, you’ll be surprised at how much different it tastes than the ones you buy from the grocery store. You can find some great chicken recipes on my cooking site, Best American Food!

How to Pluck a Chicken

Once your chicken has been slaughtered and has bled out, you'll need to remove the feathers, or pluck the chicken. This is best done outside with a gas cooker. A large turkey frying pot works well. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken and bring it to a boil. Holding the bird by the legs, immerse the chicken into the water and leave it for about ten seconds. This will loosen the feathers and make them easier to remove.

You'll probably want to wear some thick rubber gloves while plucking. If you're not used to doing this task, your fingers can get pretty sore. Start removing the feathers. Don't try to pull out too many at one time, or you might rip the skin. This is especially true if the bird is young. After doing some chicken plucking, you'll develope your own style that works best for you.

Once all the major feathers have been plucked, you'll be left with some fine downy "hairs." These can be singed with a small torch or with a grill lighter. Once this has been completed, you're ready to move on to dressing the chicken.

How to Kill a Chicken

If you’re keeping chickens as part of your survival plan, there will probably come a time when you need to know how to kill a chicken. Even if you just keeping the chickens for eggs, you might decide to harvest spent layers and use them as food. Young chickens are great when fried, broiled, baked, or barbecued, but older, tougher birds are usually best for soups and stews because their meat will be tougher.
There are several different ways to kill a chicken. My dad used to go into the chicken cook or chicken run, grab a bird in each hand, and twist the chickens heads until the neck broke. Some people prefer to insert a very sharp, thin knife or a special tool into the chicken’s mouth and through the brain. The advantage of this method is that it supposedly relaxes the feathers, making the birds easier to pluck. One more way to kill a chicken is to cut its throat at the jugular vein. The easiest way to do this is the place the chicken in a killing cone. You can see how this is done in the video below.
Another method, and the one that I prefer, is to simply chop off the chicken’s head with a sharp cleaver. For this, you’ll need a chopping block of some sort. A big, heavy piece of wood like a stump works fine. Try to keep the bird as calm as possible before slaughter. Go into the coop while the chicken is still drowsy, and pick it up by the feet with one hand, while holding it near your midriff with the other hand. Stretch the chicken’s neck over a chopping block, and remove the head in one swift motion. Death is instantaneous, so the chicken won’t suffer.
After the head is removed, the chicken will flop about wildly. Some people prefer this because they say it makes the bird bleed out better. Instead, you can place a slip knot around the chicken’s feet and hang it from a nail, upside down, to let it bleed out. This usually takes only five or ten minutes. Your chicken is now ready to pluck or skin.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blackberry Jelly

You'll find blackberries in a lot of southern food recipes. Blackberries are delicious, and they were a big survival food for Native American tribes for centuries. If you make blackberry jelly, blackberry jam, and blackberry syrup, along with putting some blackberries in the freezer for the future, blackberries could be part of your survival plan, too. Living off the land is wonderful, huh?
If you live near any wooded or rural areas, you can probably get blackberries for free. They’re usually ripe and ready to pick in early summer. For jelly, don’t include just ripe berries. You’ll usually get better results if you include some under-ripe blackberries. I don’t mean green berries, but blackberries that still have some red on them. About ¼ to 1/3 of the berries should be less than fully ripe. This recipe will produce about 8 or 9 jars of blackberry jelly.
For tips on making clear jelly and for my blue ribbon homemade jelly recipe, click the link!
Blackberry Jelly recipe
3-4 quarts blackberries
7 ½ cups sugar
3-ounce bottle of liquid fruit pectin
Directions: Wash blackberries thoroughly. Crush the berries and place in several layers of cheesecloth or in a jelly bag. Press until you get 4 cups of juice.
Place the berry juice in a large pot and stir in sugar. Bring to a rapid boil while stirring constantly.
Boil for one minute – the kind of boil that can’t be stirred down. For this 60 seconds, stir the entire time.
Pour in the pectin and boil for one more minute while stirring.
Remove the pot from the stove and skim off any foam from the top of the mixture. Ladle the juice into 8-ounce jelly jars, leaving a ¼-inch head space at the top.
Wipe off the jar rims with a clean damp cloth. Adjust lids and rings. Process for five minutes in a boiling water bath.

Free Crab Meat!

Is crab meat a good survival food? Well, I love it, so I think I could survive off crabmeat for a long time! But have you priced crabmeat in the stores lately? Geesh – the price is ridiculous, and crab dishes are even more expensive in restaurants. Of course, you could always try catching your own crabs for free and using them in your own crab recipes!
There are several ways to catch crabs, and I think we’ve tried all these crabbing methods at some point for blue crabs. One way to do it is by using a large box trap. With this method, you place some bait in the trap, throw the crab trap off the side of a pier or dock, and wait. The crabs swim into the box easily, but once they’re in, they can’t figure out how to escape. You can catch numerous crabs at one time this way.
Another way to catch crabs is to use a small crab trap. These might be circular and made of netting, or they might be pyramid-shaped and made of wire mesh. With both types of crab traps, you tie a piece of fish or a piece of chicken to the bottom and lower it into the water. You check the trap every so often by lifting it carefully out of the water to check for crabs. Usually, since these traps are small, you’ll catch only one or two crabs at the time with this form of crabbing.
Another method of crabbing is the old-fashioned way – with a cord, a chicken neck, and a dip net. This way is cheap and easy, but it involves patience. To do this, simply tie a chicken neck or back onto the end of a long cord. Toss the bait into the water and wait for a slight tug. When a crab has a good grip on the bait, it won’t let go easily. Pull the cord in slowly, and when you sky the crab, scoop it up into the dip net.
The last crabbing method I’ll mention is the one preferred by my grandkids. When we’re at the beach, we supply each child with a cheap net – the kind sold in the toy section. They prowl through the shallows searching for their armored prey, and when they see one, they try to capture it in the net. The best place to do this type of crabbing is in tidal pools, where the crabs find escaping more difficult.
Once the crabs have been boiled and the meat has been picked, place the crab meat in a thick freezer bag and remove all the air from the bag. This takes some work, but you’ll have free crab meat for all your favorite crab recipes! And because crab meat is so rich, a little goes a long way.

Keeping Backyard Chickens for Survival

Keeping chickens is a great survival plan. We had chickens for years, and I really enjoyed all the fresh eggs. Since they’re small, chickens can be kept in a fairly small area, and many owners allow their birds to roam freely. Depending on your area, this might or might not be possible. For one place we lived, this worked out well. For another, however, it didn’t. This area was heavily wooded, and predators like foxes and hawks kept getting my chickens, so we built them a simple chicken run.
We made our chicken coop as sort of a lean-to on the side of a barn. It had a simple roof that was slanted in order to shed water. Hubby built a frame of treated 2 x 4s and stretched chicken wire across the frame. The floor was dirt. Against the barn wall we hung nesting boxes and filled each with hay. The wooden boxes were hung about 3 ½ feet high – high enough to keep most snakes from reaching them, but not so high that I couldn’t see into the boxes to gather the eggs. Each nest needs to be at least 12 x 12 x 12 inches. At each end of the chicken coop, we installed roosts. The roosts need to be higher that the nesting boxes. If they’re not, the chickens will probably roost on top of the boxes and create a big mess in the nests.
For part of the time, we had both roosters and hens, and resulting baby chicks. I actually liked not having roosters better, however. Many folks think you need a rooster for hens to lay eggs, but you don’t. We got lots of eggs with no roosters around, and I didn’t have to worry about eating fertilized eggs.
It’s important not to crowd chickens. If you do, they’ll often resort to cannibalism. Adult chickens put out a lot of body heat, so the biggest problem isn’t keeping them warm, it’s keeping them cool. In very hot weather, you might need to use a fan. In winter, if the chickens have cozy nest boxes, they’ll usually be fine.
Choosing the right breed
There are two basic types of chickens – layers and meat chickens. Layers are more prolific with egg production, and meat chickens are heavier, meatier birds. There are also some dual-purpose types that are used for both their eggs and for their meat. When I had chickens, I wasn’t interested in eating them – I just wanted the eggs, so let’s discuss layers first.
In my opinion, the best layers are small birds that don’t eat much yet produce a lot of large eggs. Is there such a chicken?  Yep! A white leghorn hen in her prime might lay almost 300 large white eggs a year, and she’ll do that on little feed. Leghorns do well with confinement, too, but there’s not much meat on them. An adult hen usually averages about for pounds. If you’re looking for a constant supply of eggs without spending an arm and a leg on chicken feed, this breed is the best, from my experience.
If you’re a lot more interested in raising meat birds instead of getting a lot of eggs, the buff Orpington is a good breed. It doesn’t take them long to reach eight pounds, and they handle confinement well. Another large meat breed is the Jersey giant, which weigh about ten pounds at maturity. Both of these chicken breeds are usually easy to handle and docile.
Maybe you’re looking for dual purpose breeds that can give you both a steady supply of eggs and meat. Some of the most popular dual purpose breeds for backyard flocks include the Dorking, the New Hampshire, the Holland, Plymouth and barred rocks, the Rhode Island red, and the Dominique.
If you plan on keeping different breeds together, called a “mixed flock,” you’ll need to research various breeds for compatibility. Very aggressive breeds will bully other more docile chickens.
Feeding chickens
Before we get to chicken feed, you need to understand the importance of water. Your chickens should never run out of clean, fresh water. We always used the plastic fountains that each held one gallon of water. These devices resemble upside-down jars with a tray around the bottom. The water level in the drinking tray is kept at a constant level as long as there’s water in the reservoir.
Always provide more water than the chickens will need. This way, if one of the fountains malfunctions or gets turned over, the chickens will still have plenty of water. Just six adult chickens might drink as much as a gallon of water on a hot day, while the same amount of water might be enough for twelve or thirteen chickens during cold weather.
Unlike some animals, most chickens won’t eat non-stop. They’ll usually stop feeding once they’re reached a certain number of calories. Because of this, it’s important to feed a good quality feed that includes adequate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals like salt and calcium. Calcium is important for producing egg shells. Most good quality feed and mash made for layers includes ground oyster shell, limestone, or another source of calcium.
Chicks are usually fed chick starter to begin with and graduate to a pullet grower after a few weeks. Mature layers will need a laying mash or feed. An average hen will eat about 1/4 pound of feed a day, though it will probably consume more than that in the winter. Laying hens can be fed twice a day, or you can provide them with free-choice feeders. Meat birds will usually consume considerable more, and they need to have access to food 24/7, along with 24-hour lighting – they won’t eat in the dark.
It’s often tempting to give your chickens scraps and garden refuse, but it’s not a good idea. If you feed a balanced chicken feed, the birds will get everything they need from that. If your chickens are free range or are given foods other than commercial chicken feed, they’ll need access to grit. Grit is rough sand and small pebbles that digest the food in the gizzard.
Do your survival homework
If you decide that keeping backyard chickens sounds like a great survival idea to you, do some more research. I’ve given you a basic overview, but you’ll need more specific information on the breeds you decide on.

The Ocean - A Giant Grocery Store!

I’ve often wondered how anyone living near the ocean could ever be hungry. I mean really – it’s like a giant grocery store! And even better, all the food there is free! I guess that’s the main reason many ancient tribes and civilizations made their settlements on or near coastlines – for survival. It’s a shame that much of the human population is so far removed from the food chain that they no longer know how to obtain food unless it’s wrapped in neat little trays or enclosed in a can or a box of some sort.
I’ve been a saltwater angler my entire life, and I’ve always been able to catch fish in the ocean, even as a child. I might not have always caught the species of fish I was targeting, but I assure you that if I were fishing for survival, I wouldn’t be too picky about the fish I was having for a meal – as long as it was edible. For example, bluefish isn’t my favorite, but it’s high in protein and fat, and I could learn to love it if it meant my survival. Same goes for saltwater sail cats. With the right fish recipes, just about any fish can be made to taste good.
Besides the less salient edible fish, there are numerous delicious fish available in the ocean. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with all the oceans of the world. I’ve fished only in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. I can vouch for the fact that in the southeastern United States alone, we have all kinds of tasty fish that can be landed from shore. In fact, I’ve caught all these good-eating fish from either the shore or from a fishing pier: redfish, flounder, sheepshead, whiting, spot, croaker, trout, weakfish, pompano, black drum, lookdown, cobia, mangrove snapper, small grouper, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, and cobia. We’ve also caught several different species of sharks, and shark meat is delicious. The “wings” of rays and skates are edible, too. I hear from a good source that they taste like scallops. If you have a boat and can get to offshore waters, you’ll have access to even more fish. These might include king mackerel, wahoo, mahi-mahi, billfish, triggerfish, sea bass, large grouper, several species of snappers, tunas, and amberjack. And don’t forget about the octopus and the squid, which are also edible.
Now let’s discuss the critters that live in shells. Okay, the average person might have a hard time procuring a lobster, but there are others that are easy to find. Take the whelk, for instance. We find these large shells all the time, but we’ve never eaten the flesh of the animal that resides there. I don’t know anyone who does, either. I researched whelk, however, and they’re perfectly edible. You don’t even have to chase them!
Another shelled creature that’s easy to obtain is the clam. Our kids used to enjoy clamming when they were young, although they didn’t much care for the clams when I served them up for dinner. Of course, all that would change with hunger and survival.
Several species of crabs inhabit our local waters, and they’re delicious! I often wonder why more people don’t try to catch their own crabs. It’s not that hard, and it doesn’t take a lot of skill. The same goes for oysters. Heck, they can’t even run from you!
I’ll be providing some specific saltwater fishing tips soon, so come back!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How to Catch Fish with a Cast Net

If you're serious about using fish as survival food, you have to learn to throw a cast net. Not only will casting a net provide you with free bait for catching larger fish on a hook and line, you can also catch eating-size fish with a cast net - even a small net. I throw just a six-foot net, yet I've caught lots of large mullet with in, in addition to thousands of small mullet and other fish I used for bait.

You won't just pick up a cast net and throw it perfectly the first time. It takes practice to learn to get the net to fully open. After you've mastered that, you'll need to perfect your aim a bit. It's best to start learning with a small cast net and work your way up to larger nets. I suggest using a five-foot cast net to start out with. This video shows you how to throw a small cast net:

After mastering a small castnet, you can move on to a larger net. Obviously, a larger net has more fish-catching properties because it covers more area. The best thing to do is to practice with the net untill you discover a style that you're the most comfortable with. This won't take as long as you think!

Watch this video of cast netting for sheepshead:

If survival depended on fishing, I'd rather have a cast net than a rod and reel or fishing pole. Why? Because it doesn't require bait, it's very portable, and you can catch more than one fish at a time with a cast net. You can also catch shrimp and crabs with cast nets!

Free or Cheap Storage for Your Survival Food

If you’re planning or working on storing food for survival, you’ll need lots of appropriate containers. Survival food like dried beans, dried peas, lentils, pasta, rice, flour, cornmeal, and sugar can be kept in such containers. The problem is that these food storage containers can get pretty expensive. Don’t spend a lot of money when you don’t have to!
Glass Jars
Glass jars with lids make great storage containers for survival food. These range in sizes from small jelly jars to very large jars. What comes in such big jars? Restaurants, bars, delis, and convenience stores often buy items in bulk that are packaged in big glass jars, including maraschino cherries, dill pickles, pickled eggs, pickled pigs’ feet, and pickled sausages. The same types of establishments often buy mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, and other products in 5-gallon plastic jars. Ask around at some of these places about getting some of these containers for free or for a cheap price.
Smaller glass jars can often be found at yard sales or at thrift stores for just pennies apiece. The type of jars I’m talking about here are usually made by Ball or Mason and are used for home canning and pickling. If you can find some cheap jars, but they don’t have the lids and rings with them, no problem – you can buy new rings and lids by themselves.
Plastic Buckets
Another good option is large plastic buckets with lids. Large delis and bakeries, along with restaurants, go through a lot of these. They get all sorts of food in them, including potato salad, frosting, shortening, lard, and sour cream. The establishments usually toss the containers out when empty, so most will give them to you for free.
How to Get the Containers for Free
The best places to ask for free containers are the ones where you’re a regular customer. It might also help if you know someone who works there. Explain why you want the containers and agree on a pickup date. For example, you might agree to pick up the containers every Monday afternoon. Once you make an agreement, keep up your end. If you don’t, and the empty containers are getting in the way of business, you might lose your source of freebies.
Once You Get the Containers for Your Survival Food
Once you get your survival containers home, wash them well with soap and water. Depending on what was stored in them, this might take several washings. Dry the survival food containers well and allow them to air dry in a clean place before actually placing your survival food in them.

How to Freeze Fish

Most every body of water in the world contains finned fishes, and a large percentage of these fish are edible. They provide free food that's high in valuable protein. For many species, there's no legal limit, so you can preserve all the fish you catch, creating great survival foods for lean times.

After catching fish, clean them as soon as possible. To dress a fish, remove the head, the entrails, and the scales. If you prefer to fillet the fish, cut along the backbone all the way to the tail. You can remove the skin or leave it on. If you leave it on, the fish needs to be scaled first. Watch the video below to see how a fish is filleted.

After the fish has been dressed or filleted, get it chilled as soon as possible. Rinse the fillets in cool water and place in freezer bags or in plastic containers. If you use freezer bags, double bag the fish. We like to use old gallon milk jugs for freezing fish, but whether you use these or bags, cover the fish with water. Fish will keep for months when frozen this way. Yes, it takes up more room in your freezer, but think about this: In case of a power outage, the fish will still be good to eat for a much longer period of time because the ice will keep them chilled. As an added bonus, the block of ice will also help keep other foods in the freezer cold when you're without power.