Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sponsored Post - Great Aussie Seed Supplier!

One of the fun things I do each spring is to find new suppliers, stretch our pension dollars further, and get a variety going. Earlier this year, I came across Fair Dinkum Seeds ( and decided that the quantities and prices and varieties were just too intriguing and interesting to pass up. While I was assembling my order and waiting for the next pension so I could place it, I found out that Fair Dinkum Seeds ( are wanting exposure in return for discount on seeds. 

Please bear with me - I don't often find anything that grabs me enough to get me to do a sponsored post, but this site's rather worthwhile.

So I've placed my order in return for writing a few articles. First up, a plant with the name Black Mint aka "Stinky Roger." ( As FDS explains in the quite informative article about Black Mint, it's THE marigold that all companion planting schemes refer to, whether they know it or not. Our decorative marigolds aren't even in the game as far as insect repellent qualities go. We'd been planting decorative marigolds for years to deter flies and mosquitoes and insect pests and finally decided that some claimsmay have bee over-stated, but now we've hope that by planting a bunch of these we'll end up with several quite useful products. I'm happy that it's an edible as well as a good insect repellent, and this year should see flies avoid our place in droves.

The other things I'd been looking at were virginia peanuts, hardy basils, and curly sorrel dock. ( That latter is going by each tap, by each rabbit watering point, and in my aquaponics because it's as lemony as regular wild sorrel and the big leaves make it a natural for wrapping up the fish from the aquaponics... 

I'm pretty sure I'll have to grow the peanuts in an old kiddy pool because the soil here is generally too much clay, and I'm not about amending the local soil much more than by adding compost, rabbit poo, and mulch. It'll be interesting to see how some of the many varieties I intend now to buy from FDS will perform here.

I'm hoping that the Black Mint will live up to its reputation and save me having to chase garden pests quite as much, and also the peanuts, I'd be very pleased to have such a good source of nutrition available, SHTF or not.

Fair Dinkum Seeds have an impressive range of the more unusual and native seeds as well as good old garden standbys. Well worth a look if you're looking for alternative and easy care varieties. Worth bearing in mind for me (and perhaps for you) is the prepper angle that many of these plants supply nutrition and will blend in well with other vegetation so offer some 

Disclosure: I get several packets of free seeds for this post, it is a sponsored post. However, you can think of this sponsored post as demonstrating how much I really love Fair Dinkum Seeds. ( And I'm also buying a heap more seeds from them just based on conversations with the proprietor.
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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Economy Frugality and Preps

I've read about preppers who are buying dehydrated food because it keeps for a long time, and "provides more meals per dollar" than tinned meals. This is too many fallacies in one statement for me to pass up. %)

Fallacy 1 - you do "frugal prep" by buying cheap food and storing it so it will survive for the long term.
You do NOT save by buying cheap food. By all means, buy food when it's cheap, but do not buy cheap food. You'll be sooooo sorry you did. Because of a range of reasons, one of which is that there's a simple economic equation that says there are no "magic ingredients" that will make soya flour more nutritious while reducing costs.

You will NOT get a nutritious healthy meal if it's routinely low-priced, and that could cost you dearly if you're in a situation where you need as much health and energy as possible. Okay, so some of us may be Rambo Incarnate but the rest of us are carrying our fair share of anchors already, and having one more thing chipping away at our health is not an optimal outcome.

Fallacy 2 - you do "frugal prep" by buying cheap food and storing it so it will survive for the long term.
What? Again?

Yep. The fallacies just keep on coming up. Second is that you're storing food for the "long term." If you do, you're dooming yourself, for  variety of reasons. I could expand this here, but in a few more paragraphs I hope to demonstrate it fairly simply.

Fallacy 2b is that you should even do frugal prepping. As I'm about to explain, "frugal" should be a way of life already, and your prep foods shouldn't be more frugal than your daily diet. You should already be comfortable at whatever level of food quality you opt for.

Fallacy 3 - preps are for post shtf scenarios.
No. No, no, no. If you treat your preps like this then you're just another prepper that will not last. If you're saving your preps for a mythical and possibly never to come post-apocalyptic time, then you will live wrong in the here and now, and if there ever IS an event, you will live at best miserably afterwards. Anything that you can't obtain more of after a year or two, you're better off learning to do without it now.

Fallacy 4 - preps will carry me after the shtf event, even if there is no recovery or rebound afterwards.
No. Just stahp, 'k? Stahp! It doesn't matter how many kilos of pickling salt you put by in your stash(es) for the future, at some stage you will run out.

If you're not already working on finding a way to extract salt from common weeds, ashes, and other sources; if you don't already have a way to get your hands on more vinegar; if that a pallet of tinned baked beans is the only source of pulses in your diet; then you WILL run out at some stage.

Enough fallacies, already. What can you do to not become a victim of fallacy?  

Here's the simplest way to make your preps frugal, economical, and most importantly - effective. You don' need to spend half as much this way, you don't have to worry yourself about expensive ways to keep your food for decades, and if an event does occur, you'll be able to ease into it much more easily than anyone else. And that's the main purpose of prepping, to reduce the IMPACT of a shtf event on you and yours.

Idea 1 - If your lifestyle will not change much after an event, then you're better prepared to meet the scenario and will survive better.
That should tell you some things.

  • One, that you are really aiming to make it so that your lifestyle that you lead right now, will not be adversely affected after an event. 
  • Two, if you reduce your lifestyle expectations in the here and now in order to accommodate that, then you'll just be unhappy now, and just as unhappy after an event.
  • Three, therefore, the best way to be prepped is to live a reasonable lifestyle now, and try and ensure that you can maintain that lifestyle for a reasonable length of time.

Idea 2 - That in turn should tell you that your prep stashes need to be used NOW, and new stock replace what you took out.

  • There is no point storing a hundred kilos of dehydrated meals ready to eat, if you're not already eating them now. The change of diet will sicken you and reduce your survival success.
  • No point to bottling all your chickens and rabbits now if you don't routinely cook with bottled meat. Far better to let them live until you need them, and saves a lot of botulism anxiety too. 
  • On the flip side of that, get used to cooking with some bottled vegetables and things now, add them to your repertoire now and get used to them. I've julienned carrots, and just put them into a vinegar / salt pickle in jars, kept in the fridge for up to a YEAR and still crisp and healthy. 

Idea 3 - therefore, you don't need expensive, complicated, or unsustainable methods of storing the prep supplies.

  • I use those 3 litre plastic milk jugs for a lot of my dry goods. It's said that they don't last long, but I USE the contents regularly already. By the time a milk jugs goes brittle, I've already got five or more of it successors in my pantry. 
  • I've successfully kept dry goods and apple cider in well cleaned milk jugs for three years so far, and those jugs show no sign of degrading because I am keeping them in a dark place where the temperature stays fairly well regulated.
  • Things like flour are treated with too much reverence. Trust me. To keep it pest free, buy it in 2kg bags, wrap each bag in half a dozen turns of plastic cling wrap, and put them in the freezer for 24 hours, then stash in cheap plastic buckets with lids. 
  • This achieves a few things. It breaks the stash into multiple smaller packages so that you can hide them if you feel so inclined. Pests or thieves won't be as much of an issue this way.
  • Rotate everything  physically each time you take an item or add a new one. Yes it's more fiddly to deal with a larger quantity of smaller units, but that's how life is.
  • Get in the habit of writing in-stock dates on everything. That way, if you notice during your rotation that the shrink wraps from 2017 are starting to look a bit tatty, you can re-wrap or decant to a new cheap milk jug, all the items in storage from that same era. As a bonus, you start to get an idea of how long these really cheap storage ideas last.

Idea 4 - Prepare to replace one thing with another as you go.

  • Don't think that just because you've got seventy kilos of raw sugar, you're set for life. Shit happens, food spoils, a sudden peak in demand sees your stash wiped out. 
  • If (for example) you rely on sugar for making jams, then you need to be prepared to replace your raw sugar with sugar extracted from sugar beets or home grown sugar cane.
  • If the seasons change a bit due to some unforeseen weather pattern changes and your kale all bolts to seed then you should already have a successor crop in mind, and preferably already have tried it. 
  • If a once-numerous weed that was your main source of Vit-C is in decline, have you investigated the newer weeds that will be filling the niche?

Idea 5 - There WILL be curve balls.

  • You can't control that. Things just happen. There may be no definitive "trigger" for shtf. There may just be a gradual slide that becomes your personal shtf point when you realise that you can't afford to buy both milk AND sugar in the same income cycle.
  • There may be a scenario you didn't plan for. What if the 60's nuclear fallout shelter builders were right, and everything should be underground? What about if we find out that there really ARE aliens out there, and they decide bunkers and any structure larger than a tent are potential threats? What if North Korea wins several decisive victories?  
  • If your preps equip you to survive in a particular scenario and that happens to be the one that transpires, then you're lucky. 
  • If something else happens than you planned for, and you can adapt, then you're lucky.
  • What I'm trying to say is that... Sometimes, some of us won't be lucky... This is why it's far better to try and maintain what we have than to invest our efforts trying to prepare for all possible scenarios. Sometimes, you won't survive.

Idea 6 - If you intend to live forever, then maybe prepping is not for you...
This is the other reason I feel that overstocking may be bad. I have chronic illness, I'm in the second half century of life, medicines won't be as freely available - I have a fairly limited use by date if the shtf.

Last thoughts on my preps.

I can't stockpile guns and ammo, being in Australia. But I totally would, if I could. Not because it'll help keep me fed, not because I feel I'm a real chance of defending my location. I'd do it because years after the shtf, when the aggressiveness has settled down, they will be worth a lot in barter. And who knows? In the intervenin g time, I may have found time to go and practice and become a fair hunter myself.

I mentioned that I need some medicines. I can stockpile a certain amount of them, but others just won't keep, and those I need to learn to replace. I'm working on some of those things right now, and I figure that the sooner I can stop paying money for those medicines, the sooner I can buy something useful with that money.

Practice doing a bit of mental triage when you go shopping. Buy those ten dollar superduper food storage buckets and do with one less bag of rice? Buy the cheap dehydrated food and store it, or rely on the fact that there will always be a way to make meals of you're not totally exhausted?

When it comes to equipment you'll need to rely on like cooking pots, tools, fire starting gear, and so forth, you need something that will last a long time but not at the expense of other equally important things like good quality beans and grains.

When it comes to clothing, you need things that will last and put up with a lot of maltreatment, but again, weigh the expensive stuff versus your need to have enough food to fill that survival vest with the solar rechargers and twenty-five compartments and pockets and a Kevlar inner lining...

Most important, I think, will be to be attuned sharply to your environment, and also to the world in general. Learn to tell what sort of a year it's going to be by watching where the local animals make camp at night. If a new weed shows up in your bug (in/out) location, know what it is, try using it, incorporate it.

I guess, remain flexible. Don't let any particular aspect of prepping become a sacred cow, keep an open mind, roll with things, and hopefully survive better.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Not A Writing Skill Needed

Word about being soppy sloppy sentimental heart string tugging mendicants: NO!

I like a certain organisation that promotes writing skills. And I opted in to their newsletter. So imagine my surprise when they sent me an email asking me to reach back into my childhood and remember who encouraged me to write. Some words along the lines of "someone who believes in you is priceless" or some such sentimental pap. And then, the huckster line:

"Well, now we can put a price on it for you! Just ten dollars ... blah blah yada yada." I tuned out, but I'm livid. How FUCKING DARE THEY? If you want a donation for writing skills resources, fucking well ask for it. Don't play this fucking schmaltzy emotional suck game.

The irony that they are supposed to be promoting good writing and are using this maudlin claptrap as the bait email, didn't escape me. But no matter what, they've done their dash with me. Newsletter unsubscribed, and probably my account there deactivated too.

I think maybe I'm being overly sensitive because I'm on a pension  and our government is busily screwing us over, one benefit at a time, so I can't afford to be generous with my donations. But even if I did, paying some shill that wants my money to provide intangibles to first world children is probably NOT my idea of how to make the world a better place.
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Wednesday, 12 March 2014


If you have me friended on FB or follow the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook page, you'd know that we're moving. For some people, this is a rare thing. Not so much for me, it'll be my 49th move... As you can imagine, this makes it hard to prep, and yet - I manage it.

My two most important prep considerations are physical security and safety, and food security and safety. And I've managed to maintain those from place to place, to some degree. How, even I'm sure I can't explain. But that won't stop me posting about it at some stage, at great length... %)

For now, this post isn't about all that. It's about mourning, and justification. Mourning, because this is one of only about four places I've ever felt so happy in my life, and justification, because the place we're moving to may well become the fifth place, and perhaps a tad more permanent.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

  • New place has a large yard with several fruit trees already.
  • It has sheds and outbuildings that will be very useable. 
  • It's actually in the outskirts of a town in a dairy region.
  • Hard for the zombies (== city dwellers) to reach, so more secure to begin with.
  • It's in a town so community is at hand, many of them will be dependent and thus likely to support us.
  • Locals used to growing their own food, less need to hoard, more chance to barter.
  • Landlord after long term tenants. 
  • F-L-A-T terrain, no more killing myself to garden.
  • Larger range of foods to barter for. Dairy and meat, for example. 

Reasons To Be Tearful

  • This place is like paradise. Temperate rainforest valley.
  • Weather is ameloriated by terrain to be less extreme than most places.
  • Rainfall is great.
  • Soil is rich.
  • One advantage to the slope - a range of biohabitats for different species, in the space of a few hundred yards. 

The thing is, it will take us a year to get up to speed with food production. We already have food stored, and our capacity for both will actually increase at the new place.

I already have a plan for an aquaponics greenhouse / rabbits shed to combine ecosystems. Because of being pensioners, we already have to plan for extreme economy, so it's all being done OTC. (On The Cheap.)

A few wicking beds will increase my growing spaces for things like vine cucurbit crops, tomatoes, alliums, carrots turnips etc.

But yep, I will miss this little slice of paradise, although not so much the neighbours...

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