Urban Homesteader

What Are MRE’s And There Alternative

Many people have no clue about MRE’s  / Meals Ready to Eat. MRE’s are specially prepared meals that the military have been using for years and was introduced to the general public several years ago.  Each meal is developed to provide all the nutrients needed to survive but also be easy to transport while on the move. This is why the military still use these meals today for the military personal that out away on maneuvers.

MRE for backpacking or for survival food

MRE’s or other prepackaged meals come pretty much ready to eat, this makes very easy and ideal for many different uses. My family and I use these meals while we are out camping or backpacking out in the wilderness of northern Minnesota. These meals can be eaten cold right out of the package or they can be warmed over a camp fire or be heated by the MRE heater.

I was really introduced the MRE’s about ten plus years ago when Florida was hit with several hurricanes back to back and we had lost electric for over a two weeks. With the different varieties of meal options that MRE’s have one does not get sick of eating the same thing over and over again.

History of MRE’s

A little history on the MRE meals.  In 1963 the Department of Defense (DOD) knew that they needed to come out with a meal for soldiers that was better packaged and had more nutritional value then what the soldiers were carrying during World War II. So this was the beginning phases of experimenting with MRE’s. Then in 1966 the DOD came out with a dehydrated meal plan called LRP or Long Range Patrol Meals, this did not work out to well. In 1975 more work went into developing a dehydrated meal that was stored in plastic retort pouches which went into standard use in 1986 for the military.

Backpacking Meals

Now for me being an outdoor enthusiast I spend many days in the wilderness in the Boundary Water Canoe Area every year. I love the serenity of the outdoors

These options for food are great for backpacking and hiking expeditions.

and love being out in nature. I have found that the ready-made backpacking meals give me the nutrition and energy I need to make it through the days. Being that the food is

dehydrated the packets weigh very little and there is no cooking involved. Just heat some water on the campfire until it is boiling and add the water to the open packet. The meals that I prefer and all natural and contain no MSG Mono Sodium Glutamate which is a preservative that many people are allergic too.

 

Ideas For Food That Are Not Pre-Packaged

A lot of people that I come across while backpacking purchase food from the grocery store that is less expensive and can be lightweight and compact. Here are a few ideas of foods that are lightweight and compact that you may be interested in.

  • Instant oatmeal, comes in many varieties and just need to add hot water and mix to get a great tasting breakfast meal that can be ate at any time of the day.
  • Rice, can be a little heavy but it is easy to make and tasty
  • Pancakes, another meal that just needs hot water and cook over an open fire or camp stove.
  • Pasta, again just need boiling water. Instant spaghetti sauce is easy to make and taste great.
  • Dry soup mixes, a lot of varieties to choose from and just add hot boiling water.
  • Granola bars are easy to carry and gives you the protein to make it through the day on the trail.
  • Coffee packets, must have for the morning. Boil water and add coffee packet for a delicious morning pick me up.
  • Flavored water packets, when you are tired of drinking lake or river water these little packets come in handy for adding a little change in taste.

These are some ideas of food that you can store for when we run into a food shortage or for when a major storm hits and you cannot make it to the grocery store for a week or two. For my family we have about a months worth of food stored. Living in Florida you never know when mother nature may strike and we lose electricity or the roads are blocked and we cannot make it to the store. It has happened to me more than once and ‘I do not like being unprepared.

Posted by Tom in Lifestyle, Off The Grid, Urban Homesteader, 0 comments
Should I Raise Chickens In My Urban Neighborhood?

Should I Raise Chickens In My Urban Neighborhood?

To Raise Or Not to Raise Chickens in the City

Should I or should I not raise chickens in my urban area?

For everyone that cannot decide whether or not to raise chickens in my local ne9ighborhood, let me assure you, it is not only beneficial in that you can get free eggs and other nice benefits, like free fertilizer, and keeping the yard bug free, it is also tons of fun as well as easier than one might think. All it takes is a little bit of research and some planning to get started. One of the first things that should be kept in mind and considered is that chickens are social animals and require the company of other chickens so, if you do decide to raise chickens in the city, you should get at least two chickens.

Here are some of the questions that you will need to answer first, and probably the most important, do the city ordinances, in the city I live in, allow me to raise chickens in the city limits? If the ordinances do not allow for chickens you will end up having to try to get rid of the chickens you have purchased, so before you purchase anything check the ordinances of not only your city but if you live in a deed restricted community you will need to check with the home owners association.

The next question, which will determine along with your local ordinances (some city’s limit the amount of chickens you can have), will determine how large a coop you can build or purchase. If you haven’t guessed it, the question is “How much space, do I need for a chicken coop?” The size of your coop will partially determine how many chickens you can keep because, overcrowding your chickens will adversely affect them, especially if you are raising chickens in the city for their eggs, unhappy or crowded chicken’s will not lay eggs on a regular basis.


Speaking of eggs brings us to the next question, “Why, do I want to raise chickens to begin with, is it for their eggs or is it for meat?” This question is important when determining what breed of chicken is best for you. Chickens bred for meat will reach slaughter weight in about twelve weeks and as with most chickens, will lay eggs at around six months old however, since bred for their meat the egg production may be spotty at best. Now on the other hand a chicken bred for her eggs will begin to produce around six months old and if kept happy and stress free, will lay at least one egg per day for many years to come.

Now you are probably asking yourself do I really have the time for taking care of chickens if I do decide to raise chickens in urban neighborhood? For my wife and I the chickens take less time to take care of them does my family dog or cat.  If you allow your chickens to roam freely in your backyard, they will keep the yard bug free, between feeders that will have to be refilled every two to three days and the bugs in the backyard, feeding is fairly easing. The only thing left is to make sure they have plenty of fresh water, we usually will give them fresh water every day. A clean place to bed down for the night that is secured so they do not get attacked during the night from wild animals. In our case we have two guard dogs that keep wild animals out of the yard from harming the chickens.

Conclusion

Chickens are fun and economical to raise. Just check all the ordinances where you reside to make sure you will not be breaking any laws. My friend lives in a gated home community and she was told that she could not have chickens, she has 10 chickens on her property and the way she has their coop designed no one in the community even know she has chickens. So if you are thinking about raising chickens just do a little research and if your city or home owners association frowns on the idea of raising chickens do some research I bet you can find a way to have chickens without anyone knowing you have them.

IF you have any ideas or thoughts on this drop us a comment.

 

Posted by Tom in chickens, Urban Homesteader
Methods For Smoking Meat

Methods For Smoking Meat

Smoking Meat

Smoking meat has two complete different purposes, one is for flavoring the meat in order to consume it for immediate use and the other is for storing the meat for a later date. Here in the south both methods are used by many people.

Who does not like to have a rack of smoked ribs for dinner or a half of chicken that has been slowly cooked in a smoker. These are two main meat dishes that us southerners love to consume. Today home smokers are sold at almost any large box stores or you can pick one up online from places like Amazon.

Smoking meat can be an art, like mastering how to make fall of the bone barbecue ribs. Smoking meat for dinner is done by starting the smoker in the morning and letting the meat slow cook at a low indirect heat. Cooking something like a pork shoulder roast with the smoke contained in the smoker while cooking a low heat can make some of the best pulled pork that is delicious and tender

Now if you are wanting to smoke meat for preservation you will need to decide if your going to cold smoke or hot smoke the meat . If your looking to cold smoke the meat you will want to use a brine to cure the meat. Cold smoking is done by hanging the meat in a smoker where the temperature in the smoking chamber is between 75 – 120 degrees. Using the brine can make the meat saltier than normal smoking of meat, but by cold smoking you will need the brine to cure the meat for later consumption. Cold smoking of meat can make the meat last for years even when the meat is not refrigerated.

The second form of smoking meat for consumption later on is called hot smoking. Hot smoking takes less time than cold smoking since the temperature in the smoke chamber is between 14 – 200 degrees. The shelf life of hot smoked meat is less than cold smoked meat since you do not need to use brine to cure the meat. Some people will use a little brine for flavoring purposes but it does not need to be added if you want to stay away from salty meat.

Both hot smoking and cold smoking of meat help to preserve the meat from insects or bacterial growth on the meat. Salt cured meat or un-smoked meat will draw insects to contaminate the for consumption.

Like I mentioned above, smoking meat can be an art just like cooking can be. Try some practice runs using less expensive cuts of meat till you get the hang of it before spending money on fancy cuts of meats that you may ruin. There are thousands of recipes on the internet for smoking meat, give some a try and let us know how they turned out.

Posted by Tom in Homestead, Urban Homesteader
Olive Oil Is Not Just For Cooking Anymore

Olive Oil Is Not Just For Cooking Anymore

Here are 10 great home remedies that olive oil is good for.

When olive oil comes up in a conversation most people think of Italian cooking or salad dressing or something that has to do with recipes. Most of us do not know that olive oil can be used for other things around the home.

Fingernails

Soaking your hands in a mixture of olive oil and water is great for your fingernails. If you don’t have time to soak your nails then after a hot shower take a q-tip and rub some olive oil to your cuticle to keep your nails moisturized.

Removing makeup

Take a cotton ball or q-tip and dip it into olive oil and dab under your eyes, your face and forehead to remove makeup. Then wipe your face with a damp warm cloth.

Olive oil for shaving

A great natural shaving lubricant is olive oil. Olive oil will help the razor glide over your skin and if you’re like me where you get skin irritation shaving the olive oil will help in preventing this irritation from showing up.

Hair Treatment

I suffer with dry scalp most of the year, I found that olive oil is a great remedy for my dry flaky scalp. I warm a half cup or olive oil and apply the oil to my hair and comb in. This can be messy so be careful. I will let this set in on my scalp for about 45 – 60 minutes and then shampoo with a gentle shampoo.

Cat Hair Ball

A good remedy for helping your cat to deal with hair balls is to add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food. By doing this it will help your cat to have a shiny fur coat.

Help to remove paint

When I paint my home I usually get paint all over my hands, legs, arms and hair. I guess you could say I am a messy painter. When paint dries on your skin or finger nails it can be very difficult to remove. Apply olive oil onto your skin, nails or hair and let it soak in for a few minutes then rinse with soap and water.

Tickle in the throat

To stop a tickle that is making you cough take a sip of olive oil and it will sooth the throat and take away the tickle.

Earache

An old home remedy to an earache that my mother use to use is soak a cotton ball with warm olive oil and carefully dab the outside of my ear while laying my head on a pillow laying on the opposite ear.

Dry winter lips

Mix together a 1:1 ratio of beeswax and olive oil and apply to your dry chapped lips. Especially in the winter lips tend to dry out fast, this is one of the best remedies that I have found.

Leather conditioner

For leather shoes, baseball gloves and etc. rubbing olive oil on the leather is a great conditioner for helping preserve the leather.

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Posted by Tom in Urban Homesteader

Growing Potatoes in a Container

I found this very interesting video on YouTube on how to grow potatoes in a easy way using containers and pots made out of plastic. Many of my readers live in urban cities and don’t have space to grow a garden, with this idea you can grow just about anything on your back porch or patio.

Thank you Nifty Outdoors for this this video.

Posted by Tom in gardening, Urban Homesteader
Candles For Emergency Purposes

Candles For Emergency Purposes

Candles make a great source of lighting in an emergency and a little bit of heat as well. I was looking at some candles on amazon the other day and was shocked to see some of the prices for the long lasting candles – if you want to buy a dozen or so candles, the cost really starts to add up. Check out the links below on amazon for Emergency Candles. Today i found this article that shows us how to make our own emergency candles that last for 40-50 hours for around $1.62 each! You could easily sell them yourself for around 20 bucks each. Check out this article below to see how simple it is to make your own survival candles for a fraction of the cost of store brought versions.  For this great 50 hour candle recipe Click Here
          

 

Posted by Tom in Urban Homesteader
Start A Lifestyle Change And Become A Urban Homesteader

Start A Lifestyle Change And Become A Urban Homesteader

Who says that homesteading or living off the grid is a fad? I hear this from time to time but in reality being a homesteader is a growing trend and has been growing since the 1960’s. More and more people are turning to homesteading in order to separate themselves from growing government corruption, corporate America, wanting to live a similar life style and then there are some folks that are turning to homesteading in order to reduce the carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

If you are one of these people that is looking to start a new way of life then you have come to the right place. Learning how and where to start can be very frustrating and confusing. Many people including myself have jumped into projects head first and learnt the hard and expensive way and wasted a lot of hard earned money. Here we are going to take things slow in order to process the transition into living as an urban homesteader. By doing things slow the lifestyle change and the cost will not be an overwhelming experience for you and it will help you from failing.

Getting Started To Be A Homesteader

One of the things that most urban homesteading families will start with is gardening. Most people do not have an acre or two to start a garden. I highly recommend starting with a raised garden about 4ft x 8ft or 6ft x 10ft if you have the space. Don’t try growing all the food you need for a year right from the beginning, try just growing a few items and then when you’re comfortable growing these vegetables then expand and make your garden larger so you can add more items. Great resource for the Backyard Gardener .

Preserve Food

You have grown your food, you are enjoying eating what you have grown. Now you need to store some of this food for the future. One way to do this is by canning. Many people are afraid of the idea of canning. In this article: Water-Bath Canning I explain how easy it is to get started with canning what you have grown.

Form Partnerships

Many of us are not skilled at everything and some people have knowledge in one or two fields of expertise. This may be hard for many of us including me, but we need to talk to our neighbors and get to know them and find out what they are good at. Back many years ago before technology many of us knew our neighbors and we made friends with people around us. But today we may simply wave to our neighbors and I bet most of us do not even know our neighbors name. We need to break out of this mold and build some friendships and partnerships with the people that live around us. These friendships and partnerships will come in handy when disaster comes and we cannot rely on technology to save us.

Lay Your Own Eggs

Now this may sound far-fetched but have you ever considered having your own chickens in your backyard?  Many homesteaders have chickens in their backyards for supplying many things that homesteaders need to have. There are many advantages to raising your own chickens. My wife and I started about four years ago raising chickens. We started by having five baby chickens that were about a week old, we made sure that they all were hens and no roosters. In about six months we started having fresh eggs from our girls. Now besides fresh eggs we also have fresh nitrogen rich soil from our girls that we use in our garden. We give the chickens our food scraps and they just love when we bring out these treats for them. These recycling machines turn our food scraps into great compost for our raised gardens. Chickens are fun to raise and the grand kids love coming over and playing with these feathered girls of ours. In an upcoming post we will talk in depth about raising chickens and making a chicken coop.

Store Water

Living here in Central Florida one of the things we do every spring is stock-up on water. Living on a well is great for having great tasting water but when we lose power we lose the use of our well. Besides hurricanes that knock out our power we get a tremendous amount of thunderstorms that knocks out the power grid. All it takes is a lightning strike or a tree to fall and there goes the power and our water source. We could be without power for an hour or we could be without power for days, ether way you want to make sure that you have water stored for these times. The nice thing is water is cheap and easy to store. Depending on the size of your family will determine how much water you will need to have on hand. For my wife and I we will usually pick up about six to cases of bottled water each spring for the upcoming summer. Water is very important when you are considering being a homesteader.

Conclusion

Now this is not everything that you will need to be a homesteader but it will get you started in the right direction. In upcoming post we will start digging deeper into what it takes to be a homesteader or living off the grid. This post should help you get started and get you thinking of what you may need to get yourself started down the road of changing your lifestyle.

 

 

Posted by Tom in Urban Homesteader