Homesteading & Emergency Preparedness

"Why homestead &/or become one of those paranoid 'preppers?'  Why have a large chunk of our living quarters set aside for what MAY happen?  Why should I waste my time/money/energy/fill in your blank here on activities that may not be necessary?  Especially when we're already so busy?  And isn't it the government's job to take care of us when bad things happen?  Isn't that why I pay my taxes?"


Well...  That's a rather complicated answer.  (And paranoia is not on the list of things we want to pass on to you.)


So let's start with general definitions. 


Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, & it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, & craftwork for household use or sale. (Wikipedia)


Disaster management (or emergency management) is the discipline of dealing with & avoiding both natural & man-made disasters. It involves preparedness, response & recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.  (Wikipedia)


Why homestead? 


Exercise; better tasting food that's better for you; fresher food than what you can purchase in any store; monetary savings; stress relief; an activity to bring your family together; being able to face the future with a smile, knowing that you can take care of your family & maybe even a few friends, if necessary.  I'm sure you can think of other positive reasons.


Why spend your time/money/energy in emergency preparation?


Think about Hurricane Katrina & Superstorm Sandy, record flooding in the Midwest, fires, tornados, record ice & snow storms, FEMA & state agencies being unable to help when it's needed the most, rioting, people shooting at the helicopters coming to rescue them...  And that's just some of the natural disasters and their results we've seen in the last few years. 


Yes, the government wants to help.  But with budget cut-backs, they're being stretched thin too.  And even the government recommends having at least 3 days worth of food & water on hand.  


(http://www.ready.ga.gov/Prepare)  


(http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf)


Religion?  That can enter the equation too.  It's not our place to tell you what to believe.  This country was founded on religious freedom.  We've had all of the major religions & quite a few of the minor ones come through our doors.  In all of the sacred writings I've studied through the years, one thing I've seen repeatedly is that we should be prepared for unexpected circumstances & hard times.  


Speaking of hard times...  Have you ever been laid off?  How about your significant other or a parent?  Do you remember the uncertainty & fear of wondering how your family would be able to stay in your housing & keep food on the table & the bills paid?


Okay.  Enough...


Are we telling you to quit your job, go out & put up a chicken coop & a barn, get some sheep or goats or cows, put in a huge garden & raise everything yourself, make your own clothes, & become a subsistence farmer?  


No.  Let's face it, most of us have neither the time, desire, nor knowledge to farm full-time.  (And many subdivisions, cities, & counties have ordinances that prohibit large numbers of farm animals, if you're allowed any at all.)


With the overload of information (good or dangerous) that's available on the internet, it's easier to ignore it all, bury our heads in the sand, & hope it never happens.  And we hope it never does.  But we see homesteading & emergency preparedness like car insurance:  You fuss & fume when you pay it every month.  But heaven help you if you need it & don't have it.


As we sift through all of the information out there, we'll probably add more classes.  We will not teach what we don't practice ourselves.  (i.e. We will not be teaching classes on raising animals or how to build a barn.  Nor will we teach spinning & weaving, much less how to shear a sheep.)


With this in mind, we offer the following classes.  They are not usually on the published schedule, but contact us to set a class up for you &/or your family:  

Ready, Set, RUN! Or Maybe Not...

Oh, no!  Something's happened!  Should we stay where we are or should we run away?


Let Defensive Specialties, LLC help you in developing an Emergency Response Plan for your Family Without Breaking the Bank

Small Space, Big Garden

Hate weeding but want to grow your own food?  


Don't have a lot of space, but love the taste of fresh produce?


Want to ensure your family has the freshest fruits & veggies without all the chemicals?

Food Preservation Techniques

So your garden was a big success!  

Or you found a GREAT deal on meat, veggies, fruits...  Stock up, save money, have food ready in just a few moments!


Canning, dehydrating, jelly making...  Just makes your mouth water, doesn't it?

Alternative Energy Sources

What happens when the grid goes down?  


How can you keep your family fed, warm or cool, & safe?


Let Defensive Specialties, LLC show you how!

Fire, Water, & Alternative Cooking

This class covers three distinct skills needed to survive & maintain health.  While they cover very different things, they are all interrelated.


Let Defensive Specialties, LLC show you methods to keep hydrated, full, & warm.

Ready, Set, RUN! Or Maybe Not...

 

OMG!! TSHTF and ITEOTWAWKI!!

     Translation:  Oh, my goodness!!  The stuff's hit the fan & it's the end of the world as we know it!!  

     (Or words to that effect.  This IS a family-oriented website you know!)


Okay...  Now that the confusing, requisite, "paranoid prepper" acronyms are out there and you know what they mean, we can get down to business.


What's YOUR worst-case disaster scenario? 


For me, I'm in downtown Atlanta in the winter at dusk in dressy clothes, something sudden has hit the city, it's filled with panic-stricken people trying to get out, the grid is down, no cellphones, I'm trying to get home, & I'm driving my tired, old mini-van with less than a full tank of gas.  Do I have a plan for that?  Yes.  BUT...


I'm seldom downtown these days.  Do I have a plan for if we're both home & something sudden hits the area?  Yes.


If you go to your local box store, behind the desk at Customer Service (or in the manager's office), you might see a large notebook.  In that notebook is a page for all sorts of disasters & what the employees need to do to keep customers & fellow employees safe.  Has a tornado hit?  Turn to page 22.  Kidnapped child?  Page 37.  A bomb threat has been called in?  Page 54.  Armed robber in the store?  Page 3.


The reality is:  You need several different plans.  They need to be simply & clearly written and kept in a location quickly available to everyone in your home.


     Are the kids at home or is it a holiday or are they at a friend's house?


    Do you have people with disabilities to worry about?  


     Do the adults work from home or are they usually traveling or working in town?  How far away?  


     How do you handle the 4-legged kids?  


These are all items you need to think about in developing your plans.


If you look at many prepper websites, you'll see a lot of talk about plans, go-bags, etc.  And, conveniently, a lot of them sell items that "you must have!" in order to complete your plan & get your go-bag ready.


Not here.  We're not interested in making a bunch of money by selling you a bunch of cheap stuff with an overload of Band-Aids & aspirin.


In Ready, Set, Run!  Or Maybe Not..., we'll guide you through the process of designing plans & bags that are specifically set up for you and your family. 


The Family Plans section will include:


  •      How to develop your personal Family Plans
  •      Whether you should run at all
  •      If you should run, where will you go?
  •      The family meeting place & alternates
  •      Food, water, shelter
  •      Setting up a food/survival item area at home
  •      What to keep in your vehicle at all times
  •      Protecting your family & belongings
  •      Practicing your plans
  •      Paper information to keep with you


The Go-bag section will include:

  •      Backpacks vs. fanny packs vs. ruck sacks
  •      Medical kits
  •      Fire-making items
  •      Self-protection
  •      Minimalist camping
  •      Water purification
  •      Eating on the run
  •      Clothing for travel
     

  You will need to provide:

     A notebook & pen/pencil


We will provide lunch & lots of information in a relaxed atmosphere.  Please dress comfortably. 

Learn More

This class is not normally kept on the schedule.  Please contact us to set up a date & time to  meet.

Small Space, BIG Garden

Is this YOU? 


     Bugs are icky.  


     I don't like getting dirty.  


     I don't have the time/energy/knowledge/space to do my own gardening.  Maybe after I retire... 


     I tried gardening in the past & ended up with a mess in the yard & aching muscles.


     I can't get my spouse to eat veggies, much less my kids!  Why bother...?  I'll just spend my hard-earned     money in the store (even though I secretly think that what fruits & veggies I get there really don't taste all     that great for the money I'm spending)...  Sigh...


Okay, if the spouse/kids won't eat veggies, you may have a little bit of a harder time.  


But if they help you in the garden, they'll be more liable to eat what they've helped grow.  And kids are almost always fascinated by growing things.


Besides, have you noticed how fruit & vegetable prices keep rising???  And you're right!  The stuff you get in the store has traveled who knows how far.  And how old is that stuff anyway?  How can it possibly taste decent after all that time?


Here's something else:  Do YOU know what pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. are on our produce?  I don't.  And what about the items brought in from other countries?  What are they using?  Are they FDA-approved?  Probably not. 


There ARE things we can't help you with.  Like bugs & dirt.  Sorry...


Energy?  You'd probably have more by working in the garden & giving your muscles a workout.  Plus the extra vitamins & minerals from FRESH produce.


Sunburn?  Well, wear a hat & long-sleeved, light-weight shirt/pants.  And sunscreen is wonderful stuff!


Past experience... Yeah, been there, done that.  We're right there with you.  But at least you have an idea of what NOT to do this time!


Would you be willing to give gardening a try (again) if you could have a garden in a small space with very little weeding & effort that still gives you a lot of produce?  It IS possible! 


There are some questions you have to answer:


     What kinds of fruits & veggies does your family like to eat (when you can sneak them in)?


     How much space and time do you want to devote to gardening? 


     Do you have a large, flat yard or a billy-goat lot or just a small corner on the patio/near a window?


     How much money do you want to spend?  (If you're like us, not much!)


Small Space, Big Garden will go over several techniques that will limit your time weeding, can be fit in to your allotted space, & STILL give you lots of produce.  (Of course, then you might need to think about our Food Preservation classes, lol...)


This class is not normally kept on the schedule.  Please contact us to set up an appointment!

 

Food Preservation Techniques

Do you remember looking in your grandparent's pantry or cold cellar and seeing row upon row of sparkling jellies & jams; jars of meats & veggies ready for soups & casseroles; jars of tomatoes & sauce for "pasgetti;" cabbage, potatoes, & carrots packed away in cold storage boxes or crates?  


If they lived far away from town, maybe they also had flour, sugar, coffee, & spices "put up" as well.  And even towards the end of winter when there was NOTHING fresh available, the table was always groaning under the weight of good food.


Okay, so maybe I'm remembering this Norman Rockwell painting...  But for generations our ancestors saved food during the summer and fall and processed it somehow to save it for the winter & early spring when nothing was available.  Salt, sugar, smoke/drying, &  dehydration were the main preservation techniques until the early 1800's when canning was invented for armies on the move.


Unfortunately, the art of canning has been somewhat put aside since World War II.  The advent of processed "convenience" foods made it unnecessary for the everyday family.  


Most families, especially the woman of the house, were busier than ever & didn't want to take the time, or didn't have the time, to do the yearly canning themselves.  Gardens weren't planted, but huge farms made sure food was available thanks to almost instantaneous processing & shipping.


But for many, something's missing...  It could be an intimate connection with your food.  Or maybe you're concerned  with the pesticides/fungicides/herbicides/waxes being used to make sure that every piece of fruit on the grocery store shelf looks perfect.  Or when you see produce you might be interested in purchasing, you see a mixture of unripe & rotting fruit in the box & none of it looks attractive.  Or when you purchase produce that's already been cut up or reduced to a sauce, you wonder about the fruit or vegetable used to make it - was it over-ripe, under-ripe, did they just cut out the rotten parts?


Are you or a loved one allergic to nitrites, nitrates, etc. that are used to make jerky?  Are they gluten-intolerant?


Are you interested in camping & backpacking & want nutritious, light-weight, GOOD food to take with you without the high cost of the freeze-dried foods?


Do you want to be able to say, "I did this!  And it tastes great!"?


Well, we have three classes you'll be interested in!


Waterbath Canning - Waterbath Canning is used for the preservation of high-acid foods such as fruit, jellies, jams, & tomatoes.   It uses a boiling water bath to bring foods up to a temperature hot enough to kill organisms such as mold, fungi, & rot that could ruin your harvest or purchase.


Pressure Canning - Pressure Canning is used for the preservation of low-acid foods such as meats, beans, & vegetables.  It uses pressure and heat to bring meats & vegetables up to an even higher temperature in order to kill bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum.  (Yes, it can also be used for canning fruits, tomatoes, & other high-acid items.)


Dehydrating - Dehydrating is the use of heat & wind to remove water from various foods as a form of food preservation. 


These hands-on classes will not make you an expert!  But it will make you comfortable with the processes & give you lots of good information.  (And, yes, you get to take samples home that you make yourself!)


Topics that will be covered include:

  • Nutritional considerations
  • Safety 
  • Using frozen vs. Fresh
  • Food Preparation
  • Equipment & Supplies


Waterbath Canning Class                                                                               Pressure Canning Class

     Making jelly from supermarket juice                                                               Canning veggies, stocks, & meats
     Making jelly from fruit
     Canning fruit & tomatoes
 

Dehydrating Class

     Dehydration of fruits, veggies, & fruit "leathers"
     Dehydrating meals for camping/backpacking
     Jerky-making
     Miscellaneous items you can dehydrate


                                                        We use Nesco ® American Harvest ® dehydrators in our class!
 

You will need to provide:


     A notebook & pen/pencil
     An apron (if you're fussy about things like that)


Other Notes:

     Each course is one half day.


     Lots of information & samples that you will make are included in the course fee.  There is a $25      (minimum) non-refundable deposit required for registration.  If you are unable to attend the class      after registering, this deposit will be  applied to your next registration.  

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES

Solar power, wind power, geothermal systems, generators. Whole house systems, portable systems.

What happens when the electricity goes off?
 

There are as many reasons to have a backup power source as there are types of backup power. From having to run medical devices to keep yourself or a loved one living, being comfortable when the grid goes down, being able to communicate and stay in touch with family and friends and many other reasons. 


The first step is to determine what you need. There are so many options available these days. A full house power system? A critical area system? Just keeping the fridge & freezer running? Or just needing to run a C-Pap so you can sleep at night?

Generator? Solar Panels? Wind turbine? Deep cycle batteries with an inverter? What do you need? One type? Two? Or all the above?

Allow Defensive Specialties, LLC to assist you in determining what your needs are & how to bring your own power grid to life. 


Be it a whole house or office system, RV or camper, to just being able to save your data before the computer dies, our Alternative Power class will give you insights into what is needed to get a system working to keep you safe & comfortable when the lights go out.  







 
This class is not normally kept on the schedule.  Please contact us to set up & date & time to meet. 

Practical Experience

Last year (2017) after a hurricane blew through the Atlanta area, our power was out for almost a week. Yet at night we had lights, we watched tv, had warm food, the freezer stayed frozen, the fridge was cold, & our computers, cells, security system, & cameras worked. 


Ice & snow? A few years ago, power was out for a couple of days, yet I was walking around in the house in a pair of shorts & a tee shirt. Why?  Because our central heat was hard at work.  


What did this system set us back?  


Less than $ 750.00...


The sad part about that snow storm?  NO ONE else in our neighborhood was prepared.  NO ONE else had a system in place.


Our neighbor's daughter asked her mom, "Mom, Mike & Marie have power. Why don't we?"  "Because Mike & Marie are prepared, honey."  (Yes, we did offer to let them & our other neighbors come & warm up & prepare a hot meal.)


Don't let this be you...

Fire, Water, & Alternative Cooking Methods

Overview of Fire Building, Water Purification, & Alternative Cooking Methods Classes

This class covers three distinct skills needed to survive & maintain health.  While they cover very different things, they are all interrelated.


These classes are not normally kept on the schedule.  Please contact us to set up an appointment.

Fire Building

Fire is a very useful thing for so many reasons: Cooking food, keeping you warm, signals by light & smoke, purifying water. The list goes on & on. 


Tinder?  Kindling?  Fuel wood?  What kind of wood is best?  Hardwood? Softwood?  Lighter wood?  


How to “lay a fire” is simple once you know the type, order, & sizes of wood to use.


Making fire is one of the, if not THE, first survival skill primitive man learned.  Make a fire is easy with a lighter or matches & dry wood.  But how about no lighter or matches & wet wood? NOT so easy.  


Defensive Specialties, LLC will show you methods & techniques that may not make it easy but VERY doable.


  

Water Purification

 Water is one of the things you cannot live without.  


What do you do when the faucet is dry & the bottles are empty?  


Water in Georgia is everywhere - lakes, ponds, streams, even rain collected from your gutters.  Is it safe to drink?  Probably not… At least untreated.  But there are many ways & methods to treat water so it IS safe.  


Allow Defensive Specialties, LLC to show you how safe drinking water can be obtained from many sources.  


Knowing you can always have safe drinking water will greatly reduce one level of stress when things go wrong.




Alternative Cooking Methods

So...  The power’s out. You have food but it is raw, frozen, or just plain cold.

  

Early morning: You have coffee grounds & water. However the stove, oven, & microwave are not working.  HELP!!!!!!  NO COFFEE?!?!?!  


And there’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee or a mug of hot chocolate when you’re cold to pick up the spirits.  


Camp stoves, campfires, solar, grills, homemade stoves & ovens… There are many options out there.  You can spend a lot of money or very little & still have hot food & drink when things go wrong, like when the ice & snow hits & the power goes out.  


There is no need for anyone to have to eat cold food if you have the proper skills & knowledge. Allow Defensive Specialties, LLC to teach you options that allow you to cook while you are totally “off the grid.”