Archive for the ‘preparedness’ Category

Is it really trash?

Posted: May 17, 2011 by hopejoyandfaithfarm in Kitchen, preparedness, Uncategorized

First off, I hope no one takes this post wrong, I am not dumpster diving for food.  Money is tight, but we have plenty to eat.

I pick up buckets from a couple local restaurants and our local food bank calls me when they have food they cannot get rid of.  The buckets from the restaurants go to our chickens.  They love it, and since I give it to them on the same day the restaurants scrape the plates, its is fresh.  It helps stretch my livestock feed a little bit longer and it helps save the restaurants money on their dumpster costs.  I always feed it to the chickens early in the day to ensure it gets cleaned up and there aren’t scraps laying around to attract raccoons and skunks.

The food bank gives me boxes that contain old bagged salad mixes, mushrooms, bread, etc.  Lately I’ve gotten a lot of mangos and the sheep and mini-horse are thrilled to get a few of them as treats.  The other day I got a huge box of bananas, some of which went to the pigs.  Mushy bananas equal happy pigs.  However, some of the bananas were still in really good shape.  So, I froze some for banana bread and put some in the food dehydrator.  Another day, there were a whole bunch of onions that weren’t even beginning to be soft.  I dried those as well.    There are occasionally carrots and pears that are in good shape too. If the citrus is in good shape I juice it and freeze the juice.  I came home the other day with 5-6 boxes of fruits and vegetables, equaling out to 3 days of fresh goodies for the chickens.  When the food bank calls, even if I wasn’t planning a trip to town, I go to pick up what ever they have.  It helps them a lot with not having to throw the food away.  I spend time sorting them, taking out what I know the chickens won’t eat (citrus fruits, peppers, onions) and sorting out anything that I can use as a special treat for the sheep and piggies (training tools).   I compost what can’t be fed to the critters, so nothing goes to waste.

A lot of times, the lady who runs the food bank calls me for special things.  One day, she had an overflow of red, yellow and white potatoes (like 4 fifty pound boxes).  She called me and I said “yep, I’ll take them”.  I split them up into a bunch of bags and gave them to friends and neighbors who I knew would use them.  Then, I took my share and started dehydrating them.  Now, I have quite a bit of dehydrated potatoes to use in my pantry.   Today when I stopped to pick up a whole bunch of wax and green beans (slightly freezer burnt, but the chickens will enjoy them) she gave me a case of white corn-on-the-cob that was nice and fresh, telling me to enjoy! So, I’ll be cleaning and freezing corn the next couple days.

When my husband sees me dehydrating onions or freezing bananas, he calls it scavenging.  He really doesn’t even understand why I’m willing to pick up the scraps to feed to the critters.  On the other hand, I see it as being resourceful and frugal.  The amount of waste I see from the food bank is sad.  Part of the problem is that people who get food from the food bank either A: can’t use the fresh food because of their living situation (homeless, no stove, etc) or B: don’t want to take the time to prepare it  or C: Don’t know how to prepare it (schools don’t have home-economics classes, families don’t know how to cook anymore).   Another problem is that too often the donated food is donated when it is past the point of no return.  I wish that the stores would pull it from their shelves a bit sooner

Anyhow, yes, the food banks consider it trash, and while this is maybe a bit off of the whole “girls gone trashy”, it does contribute to my preparedness and frugal lifestyle.  If you have food banks in your town, find out what they do with their discarded items.  Maybe you can help them out and help yourself at the same time.

Fire starters from the trash!

Posted: April 12, 2011 by hopejoyandfaithfarm in MacGyverism, preparedness

Why talk about fire starters now that the wood stove season is about over you ask?

We recently had a tsunami scare here, after the horrendous events in Japan.  I finally went to work seriously on our “bug-out” bags (1 for each car and a bigger backpack to take from home if we needed to head up the hill from our place in case of a disaster).  As I packed the matches, I got to thinking about how I would manage to start a fire.

I don’t know if I am the only one, but I am about the worst fire starter ever.  I can build a fire great, but starting it is a different matter.  I crumple up the paper just right, carefully stack the kindling so that air flows around it, and have the dry wood placed just right.  I start it, the paper burns nicely, giving me hope, then the firebox in the wood stove goes dark.  Same with a camp fire, it looks like it’s gonna go, and it dies… I huff and I puff on the little embers, to no avail.  I can’t tell you how many matches I go through, but it’s frustrating.  I end up waiting til husband gets home to “show me how” yet again.  Stressful? You bet!  I remembered a couple years ago my mom made some fire starters from dryer lint and cardboard egg cartons.  I decided to make some of my own for the bags.

I have not yet figured out the correct steps for loading pictures onto a wordpress blog, so check out the steps I took at Flickr

Normally I would throw dryer lint away, but I started saving it.  I did see on website later on that there is some concern about the new materials clothes are made out of and concerns with the chemicals, but we don’t have many new clothes here at the house, so I’m not too worried about that.

I got a cardboard egg carton (don’t use Styrofoam-the smell and chemicals put into the air would not be good) and tucked the lint by little handfuls into the individual egg “sections”.

Then, I found some old candles that had “burning” issues (you know those ones where the wick won’t stay lit, but you keep it anyway just in case, or the taper candle that is bent or broken).  I have a big box of candles saved up for power outages and emergencies, but I couldn’t bear to use those.  I am going to keep my eyes open at yard sales and thrift stores because a lot of times they’ll be in a free box.

Then, I took a tin can, peeled the label off and bent it slightly to make it easier to pour the melted wax. I placed the can in a pan of water (think cheap double boiler) and ON LOW, slowly heated the wax up.  When the wax was melted, I poured the wax into each egg “space” on top of the lint and let it harden.

I ripped (and used a knife to keep from ripping too much) the individual starters apart when the wax had hardened and packaged them in ziplock bags to put into each “bug-out” bag.

I figured I’d better use one before I told all you “trashy” readers about them, so I experimented.  I used two of them, with one small piece of newspaper, nestling them in between a couple of bigger pieces of wood with some kindling on top.  Wow! They worked great.  The kindling started without a problem, catching the bigger wood easily.

Because we are coming up on dryer weather (fingers crossed) and our laundry will be hung outside on the line to dry, I won’t have a lot of lint available.  I was walking across the orchard to lock up the chickens the other night, I noticed a lot of small pine cones on the ground.  I picked them up, along with some moss and lichen, and some dried pieces of pampas grass leaves.  I tucked the cones into egg cartons, with a little moss to hold them.  I also wrapped some of the pampas grass leaves around the lichen and some of the cones, and put them in the cartons.  I poured the wax over them, following the above, ripping them apart when hardened.

These worked great, I used two of them with NO newspaper… The fire took off perfectly.  I was so excited! And it’s all trash and yard waste… Yah Hoo!