When Did Independence Become Illegal?

Over the last year, I have really started to notice a growing trend. At first, it was a news story here or there, usually talking about someplace far off. The news was disturbing, of course – people being forced to do this or that for violating some rule against what they could do on their land.

Then, I heard a story about a lady in Canada who had her sheep slaughtered by the authorities. They had to be killed to be tested for diseases. Let me repeat that: they had to be killed to be tested for diseases. None were found to be infected but all her livestock was dead. Her whole herd, wiped out. Zero compensation. In fact, she has thousands in legal fees to pay, plus all of her normal living expenses. Getting a flock of sheep back, same breed, is out of the question at this point (years later).

I wrote an article a while back about the illegal outdoor clothesline. People who live in HOAs (Home Owner Associations) know what I’m talking about. Many in the city also have laws that don’t allow clotheslines in yards, or have rules about not being able to see them from the road. Don’t even get me started on the rules against having food gardens in your front yard! I can understand why some municipalities would want to limit it: untended gardens can cause real pest problems. What I am talking about are blanket laws passed that limit what people can do on the property they own.

It’s like there’s an all out war against living independently from the grid.

I grew up in Alaska. You can still buy land here that isn’t part of any municipality and that means you truly own the land. No taxes, no restrictions (other than state safety and sanitation regulations), and no one to tell you “You can’t do that on your property!” Growing up, I thought that’s how it was. That was my normal. Imagine my horror, learning that people could get their land taken from them for not paying taxes or because the municipality decided they wanted to build a new road, right where your house is. You have no rights, no authority. You are responsible, but you have little authority against government (local or otherwise) entities.

Now I’m seeing people who are being kicked out of their homes because they live in tiny houses. I read about people who have their own grid with water, sewer, and electrical being forced to tie into the grid. I see people who are being told they have to remove a pond off their property because of some new law (never mind that the pond had been there over 100 years with fish and wildlife depending on it). Oh, and they had to pay for the removal, too.

It’s like there’s an all out war against living independently from the grid. It’s almost as if you’re a criminal because you don’t need what the government provides. You don’t need the electrical company’s power, you have your own – and you’re a criminal for it. Recently, here on my home island, the local utility company decided that everyone must pay water fees, even if there is no one living in the domicile. What that means is if you have a vacation home or a duplex, and no one is living there or using the water, you still have to pay. And there is little anyone can do about this ‘legal’ theft.


“If we aren’t being taught how to grow our own food, how to take care of ourselves and our families, and how to live without the need for huge governments, banks or corporations – as our ancestors once did – then we aren’t being educated; we are being indoctrinated to be dependent and subservient to the system~Gavin Nascimento.”


Of course, on top of all of that, there’s the requirement for licensing on everything from marriage to hunting, fishing to using the national parks set aside for our use. And though we have “the right to bear arms and defend ourselves from those who would do us harm,” we have to effectively get permission and go through hoops from the government to do so. The laws get more and more strict for the law abiding citizens, making it harder for us to exercise the right while the criminals are toodling along, bypassing all the red tape and still getting as many guns as they want. The “Gun Free Zones” are prime target areas to create victims, too. The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and that is a time tested truth. To stop the bad guy, you need a good guy with the same or larger ‘stick/rock/etc.’ But I digress.

There are raids on homes for growing food and raising livestock. I recall an article about a couple who bought growing equipment for an indoor hydroponic set up and were raided by police, SWAT-style. It was believed they were growing marijuana. Charges were never filed because nothing was found. The leaves found and tested in their trash, on 3 separate occasions, were found to be tea leaves, not cannabis.

There was a time in this country when the same government not only encouraged keeping chickens and having a “victory garden,” you were considered patriotic for doing so! Homesteading was patriotic. Oh, how times have changed. Now, you have to perform feats of super human patience and paperwork-filling skills just to get the organic label to put on food you may sell from your homestead/farm to the public. The government is perfectly OK with all these chemical sprays and dusts put onto our food as it grows but you have to go through some crazy stuff to prove you aren’t using any. The system is completely backwards and I strongly believe that is a direct results of Big Agra and their lobbyers.

“We can’t let these people grow and make and do for themselves! Then we lose profit! We lose control! Our investors will suffer!”

The world is so angry now, or perhaps I am just more aware of it due to social media and instant information. In many ways, instant information has decreased the value of knowledge. It’s so easy to just look something up that committing anything to memory isn’t done the same way.

I used to have dozens of phone numbers memorized when I was a kid. Not so much anymore – just pop open your smartphone and tap the picture! Knowledge is no longer earned, therefore its value has decreased. Now, that is not to say that the internet and social media hasn’t had some positive influences – I learned to can food (both water bath and pressure styles) because of videos and articles online! I learned a great deal about gardening in my zone (7b) and would not have had the successes I did when I started if not for it.

The desire to be away from cities, work the land, and provide for yourself is under attack. Not everyone can just up and move to the country and live the life they truly want. I’m currently one of them (working on it though!).




The Epidemic of American Food Ignorance

Recently, I asked people in my day job a question: “Do you think there’s something wrong with our food system?” Every single person said yes but when asked why, their answers were decidedly different. Some answers were logical and brought up good points. Others completely baffled me! I was so taken aback that I just knew I had to write about the food ignorance we, as a nation, have. In my opinion, it’s truly an epidemic of ignorance and made me question why we have gotten so completely out of touch when it comes to our food. Dig in, this is going to be a long one.

The Epidemic of American Food Ignorance1

What ignorance do I speak of? Do a Google search for videos about kids identifying vegetables. It’s rather heartbreaking, actually. I don’t believe that the ignorance I’ve encountered in my informal poll, various observations, and online articles is solely the fault of the population. I don’t think that the general populace is responsible for our current lack of connection to our food – from seed to processing to packaging – so much as a culmination of several factors that have brought us to our current situation. I think it was gradually done but whether by design or by natural economical evolution is anyone’s guess. It’s easy to point the finger at big companies and say “You’ve ruined us and how we eat!” while still shopping for your food instead of growing your own. The truth is, with the exception of kids who eat what’s put in front of them, we all have a choice to make. The problem is getting the average American to wake up and realize that they have a choice in the first place.

Looking at history, I would say the tide turned when people began moving to the cities looking for work, prosperity, and the chance at a better life. Cities got larger and food had to be carted or trucked in from the farms. This planted the seed (pun intended) for the current “food deserts” we find in our cities now. Sure, there were farmer’s markets, butcher shops, bakeries and the like back then but the fact was, people were growing less food where they lived and instead worked to buy it from someone else. This was the first disconnection.

As more people moved in and industry started to pick up, workers found they couldn’t make it home at ‘dinner time’ and thus, the first convenience foods were born. As with anything, machines soon took over the processing and packaging of these ‘foods.’ As time went on, preservatives were added to extend shelf life and then more chemicals and preservatives until now, we don’t have food, we have ‘food product.” Ever really look at the box of Velveeta? It doesn’t say it’s cheese…it’s “cheese product.”

The problem is getting the average American to wake up and realize that they have a choice in the first place.

When WWII took women out of the kitchen and into the factories, the need and demand for convenience food skyrocketed. Women didn’t have the time to be able to make their normal meals. “Quick mixes” like Krusteaz came out in the 1940s and were an instant (pun intended) hit. Now, women could ‘just add water’ and make a quick breakfast for their family before heading out to the factory. Since Bisquick had been around for a decade already, it made other convenience mixes more easily accepted. Another practice lost during this time was the family garden out back of the house. There was no one to really tend it. Yes, there were far more backyard gardens then than there are now, but it was still declining. This was our second disconnect.

Enter Big Agra and Big Food. While not inherently evil (unless you consider all capitalism to be evil), the current state of these two industries has gone far from the roots most of those companies started out with. Generally speaking, many of the well established brands out there started out in someone’s kitchen and grew. Then, as happens in business, they were bought out by large corporations who wanted the name more than anything. They minimized costs (aka cheap chemicals) to maximize revenue that kept their shareholders happy. Now, these corporations have lobbyists who work to get laws passed that will benefit them the most but more on that later.

American Food Ignorance

Americans are consumers, more so than other countries, with many factors playing into it. We want fast, easy, and convenient. We want shiny, flashy, bold, sparkle, and something that outwardly says “I’m well to do and can keep up with the Jones’.” We are catered to with the idea that the easier it makes our lives, the more it’s worth because it ‘saves’ you time. And time is money, right?

Americans have become so incredibly disconnected from their food source, let alone the processing, that it truly has reached epidemic proportions. Dictionary.com defines epidemic as, “a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something” when used as a noun. In this case, we are dealing with a Ignorance Epidemic and sadly enough, it’s on one of the most important things in our lives: Food! You kind of need it to survive.

I recently read a quote by Gavin Nascimento that really summed it up well:

“If we aren’t being taught how to grow our own food, how to take care of ourselves and our families, and how to live without the need for huge governments, banks or corporations – as out ancestors once did – then we aren’t being educated; We are being indoctrinated to be dependent and subservient to the system.”

I realize that people could pick this apart and argue semantics all day long. The message I personally took from it is the last bit as it really hit home. When you think about the news over the last few years, an interesting pattern emerges and a rather unpleasant picture is painted.

  • A small minority of the population knows about preserving food (other than a freezer).
  • A small minority of the population knows how to successfully grow and harvest food.
  • It is illegal to sell raw milk in any form in 20 states. Only 13 states allow the sale of raw milk in retail stores.
  • Laws across the country against food gardens, chickens, goats, and even clotheslines.
  • Ranchers and other livestock raisers being raided, animals slaughtered to be tested for disease (and finding none but financially ruining the owners. No compensation).
  • The “Organic” label requires you prove to the government that you did NOT use certain chemicals, versus the ‘normal’ use of chemicals by Big Agra farms.
  • Legislation against living ‘off grid’ where you provide your own electricity, water, etc.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. We, as a country, have had our independence taken from us a bit a time. Then, it’s packaged and sold back to us as convenience. We don’t “need” to teach gardening, food preservation, repair skills, or any of the things that a mere 100 years ago was considered “must have” knowledge to survive. The stores have all we need, just go get a job to pay for it all. Yes, I realize that times have changed and our world is much different now. The one thing that does not change is the importance of being able to provide and really take care of yourself and your family. No person can do it all, but when there’s only one person in a 5 block radius that knows how to use a pressure canner to preserve carrots, that’s a problem. A big problem.

Do you realize that there are people out there who actually believe, in their hearts, that butchering your own livestock is cruelty? They say that we should, instead, get our meat from the grocery store where “No animals are harmed.” Let that sink in. If THAT doesn’t prove to you that people are completely disconnected and clueless about how it works, nothing will. You can stop reading now because nothing I say will wake you up and you are part of the problem. ANYONE who is a free thinker and can use the internet will easily find out the conditions our ‘meat’ lives in before being sent to the market for us to buy in packages. It’s deplorable, heartbreaking, and a crime. Money is more important than health of the animals – and by extension – US.

The disconnection between us and our food, where it comes from, how it is produced in the first place, is widening as the generation count increases from the time before grocery stores came into being (1940s). People don’t have any idea about actual production of food other than it’s either grown in the dirt or raised on a livestock ranch/farm/warehouse. My great grandmother knew all the skills for self-sufficiency and what she didn’t have mastery in, she knew someone who did. My grandmother knew how to make jams and jellies and smoke/jar salmon but she looooved her microwave. My mother had an idea of making jams and water bath canning, would smoke fish but freeze it. When it came to me, I wasn’t really exposed to much of that. Smoking and canning fish, yes, but I never did any of it; at least not enough to remember doing much of it. I tasted the jam, but didn’t make it. I was taught how to cook whole foods, just in really unhealthy ways. In school, I was taught about the food pyramid but never taught how to COOK in healthy ways.

…when there’s only one person in a 5 block radius that knows how to use a pressure canner to preserve carrots, that’s a problem. A big problem. 

I used to joke that if I was stuck in a health food store, I would starve. I didn’t know what even 25% of the stuff on the shelves was, let alone how to cook it or what to make with it. I wish so badly I had started my self-sufficient lifestyle switch earlier in life but since I can’t go back, I just keep moving forward and hope that I can pass the skills and ideas on. If people only realized how much money they can save by making their own… of course, that means taking time away from the cell phone screen and television. Even suggesting that to some people sends them into panic attacks as they clutch their phone closer to their chests.

When I think about America’s food system, I get angry. I understand the FDA and the USDA were created to protect the masses and set standards but all that has changed. Lobbyists sway bills into laws that will benefit the companies paying them, not the general populace. Expiration dates are arbitrarily put on packages specifically to get you to buy more once the date has passed. With the exception of baby formula, the USDA does not regulate any of the dates printed on food. On top of that, I am limited on what I can do to provide for myself because of their rules and that makes me even more mad. It’s easier to buy from the store, no doubt about it. The thing is, the human body can survive and is designed to keep going, even with crap food. Even with “cheese product” being put into our stomachs. (Don’t get me wrong, I used to love Velveeta….until all I tasted was the chemicals after so long not having any). Just because we can survive on mystery meat and chemical sauce doesn’t mean we should.

Now, I don’t claim to be any sort of expert in the area of food, but I do claim to be a free thinking individual with the powers of observation. The intent of this article is not to fear monger, not to convince people to ‘my way of thinking,’ and certainly not to make some political statement. The intent is to get people thinking, asking questions, looking around at their neighborhoods and systems and ask the question, “Could it be better?” I really think it can. We just need enough people to stand up and tell the government that we’re taking back our right to grow food, catch rain water; especially if it’s our property. We are taking back our basic human rights to provide for ourselves. To be denied the right to catch water falling from the sky on your property is not freedom. To be forced to use any service is not freedom.

Sources*

A Short History of Convenience Foods

Raw Milk Laws, State by State




Stocking Stuffers for Homesteaders

Awhile back on Facebook, I asked the question: “What do you think would be good stocking stuffers for homesteaders? What would you want?” The response was overwhelming and greatly varied! I went through and compiled all of them to help you find that perfect gift for the homesteader in your life…or to send to your family members to give them gift ideas for YOU!

Stocking_Stuffers_for_Homesteaders

Below are some suggestions made by those who commented on Facebook as well as some of my own ideas for the perfect gift for the homesteader:

  • Apple corer, slicer, peeler – My mother in law got one from Amazon and it lasted us three years before it started to give us problems. We ended up ordering a new one that was cast iron and more heavy duty. We use the peels and cores to make our own apple cider vinegar!
  • Honing stones – Having a sharp blade is one of the most important things to maintain when homesteading. You use your knife in so many ways, it would be quite an undertaking to count them all! If you get the right kit to start with, you should be set for life and not need to get anything else (other than more oil).
  • Multi-Blade sharpening tool – There are several of these out there but the one we use is very inexpensive and does great when out in the field for a quick sharpen. It won’t replace the regular care you should do with a honing stone but they are very handy to have when out hiking, camping, or hunting.
  • Duct Tape
  • Hand and Foot Warmers
  • Wool Socks
  • Canning lids and bands – Anyone who cans at home knows you can simply never have enough lids and the lid and band combo set is always appreciated! They are also very inexpensive, just a few bucks per dozen!
  • Kitchen towels – Because you can never have enough!
  • FlashlightsThese ones are inexpensive but heavy and take a serious beating. We have about 8-10 of them (for the price, why not?)
  • Garden Tools
  • Canning Labels – The dissolvable labels are the most sought after ones for canners!

Here are some larger presents that won’t break the bank:

  • Fermenting Weights/Tools – Just this year, I learned to make sauerkraut for the first time and it turned out wonderfully! I was able to use these fermentation weights and tools from Masontops which made it easier and increase my chance of success! I highly recommend them. They are a mom-and-pop business and reasonably priced, especially  considering how often you will use them!
  • Water bath canner – This is a HUGE gift for less than $20 on Amazon that will continue to give year after year. You can also get one that comes with the canning utensil set for less than $30.
  • Canning utensil set – It never, ever hurts to have a second set of canning utensils on hand. When you are staring down 30 pounds of carrots that need to be canned, it is really nice to have the second set for whoever is helping you. Plus, it always pays to be prepared in case something goes wrong mid-canning session.
  • Military can opener (P-51 Model) – Extremely inexpensive, small, and versatile, these are a must have for times when the electric one goes out or the regular manual can opener breaks. Mush safer than trying to use a knife!
  • Hand crank AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio (Solar powered, too!) – These sweet multi purpose radios have so many functions and still fit in the palm of your hand! The battery will charge from the sun, using the hand crank, and of course AA batteries. There is a bright LED flashlight on them and will pick up the weather band frequency along with standards Am and FM stations. We have gotten several of them of the last few years and use them every single time we go camping. And yes, they will fit in a stocking. 😉

Spoiled Rotten Gift Ideas for the Homesteader

  • Pressure canner – A pressure canner can be a more spendy item but it’s a gift that is a true investment. Pressure canners can last for decades with simple maintenance. I recommend this one (it’s the same one I have used since day one and I LOVE IT) for both beginners and veterans alike.
  • Vacuum sealer – I could not imagine how much my life would change if I no longer had my vacuum sealer. It enables me to buy meat only twice a year, saves me lots of money, and cuts waste. The one we use, a FoodSaver, has served us very well for 4 years now and is going strong! I have learned a lot of tips and tricks for using a vacuum sealer in that time, too.
  • Dehydrator – There are numerous dehydrators out there that are priced all over the board. Some recommendations I would give would be on the lower end (while still getting a good product), the Nesco Snackmaster Pro ($65ish). In the middle range, I would recommend the Excalibur 5 Tray model ($110ish).
    • In the “Holy Smokes You Are Spoiled ROTTEN” category, I would recommend the one we bought (we saved for months! WORTH IT). We use it year round for everything from jerky to fruit and vegetable slices to fruit leather and beyond. The Excalibur 9 Tray model (around $225 on sale) that has the timer feature and all the weight that Excalibur’s name brings with it. It is the Cadillac of dehydrators in my opinion. We have had it almost 3 years now without issue.
  • Grain Mill – There is no mill better rated out there than the Wondermill. Hands down. This is another spoiled rotten present!

For those who lean more toward preparedness and survival, try this list instead.




Beware the Illegal Clothesline

The other day I was skimming through Facebook and saw an article about a bill being passed to allow people to dry their clothes on a line outside. I was floored. “Is this for real?” I asked myself. As usual, I went into research mode and was shocked to find that there are numerous places all across the country where drying your clothing outside in the sunshine is illegal. Beware! The Illegal Clothesline!

Beware The Illegal Clothesline

I couldn’t believe it. This is right up there with it being illegal to catch rainwater in certain states. The concept is ludicrous to me and I struggled to see the issue from the other side. What is so horrific about drying clothes in the sunshine? Is the line going to suddenly spring free and strangle someone? Will wearing clothes dried by the sun turn you into a diabolical villian? Sure, I could understand how it might be less than pleasant to see your neighbor’s boxers on the line but we all wear underclothes so what’s the big deal? I decided to delve deeper into this and learned that there are now “right to dry” states, along with the bans.

What I learned was that the bans are mostly in HOAs (Home Owner Associations) and the reasons cited for the rules are because it is “unsightly, pose a strangulation threat, and lower property values.” Some lump line drying clothes in with rules that also pertain to ‘trash, junk, and litter,” therefore it is against their rules to dry a blanket or pair of jeans over the railing of your porch, let alone a proper drying set up. Beware, the illegal clothesline enforcers come and common sense is tossed out the door!

Thankfully, at least 19 states have put laws on the books that override silly HOA rules like these. Yes, I called them silly. It is ridiculous to me that people would actively object to clothing drying on the line. Especially…especially when the big draw and mission statement for the HOA is that they are ‘green.’ They make sure people recycle, provide ‘natural trails’ for people to walk on, maybe have a nice little ‘natural pond’ and encourage people to be active in all things ‘green,’ yet fail to allow people to dry clothes using the sun’s power. Others that tout their green superiority ‘allow’ clotheslines so long as they are not visible from…well anywhere. They have to be effectively boxed in so they don’t offend anyone’s view.

In my research (sources listed below), I found something that gave me hope. Back in 1978, the Solar Rights Act  was put into place regarding using the sun and solar power, specifically barring HOAs from doing what they are doing now. Solar access law is something that is not common knowledge to the average American. The fact that you are using the sun’s warmth to dry the clothing by effectively trapping it inside the fibers could technically fall under the laws that govern the “ability to harness the sun’s power” and override HOA rules.

Consider one of these line drying set ups that can easily be taken down if needed!

I also came across a one hour movie called “Drying for Freedom” that looks to be a real eye opener about the energy cost savings our country would enjoy, let alone the impact it would have on the environment from a lack of burning coal and fossil fuels to produce the electricity it takes to dry clothing. Though I was unable to find it for free, it’s just a $1.99 to rent on Amazon. It is also on Vimeo according to the site.

I also came across some old footage about Americans being sold the ‘electric dream,’ as was also mentioned in the trailer for the movie. It intrigued me and I went digging further. Ronald and Nancy Reagan  were part of General Electric Theatre which made sure the media was used to their advantage. It also made ol’ Ronnie quite wealthy. That did help to answer some of the questions I had – “When was the turning point? What made drying your clothes outside in the sunshine filled breeze so deplorable to the point of actual scorn?”

To me, the question of being able to dry your clothes is on par with whether or not you can breathe air. The more we are getting into this homesteading gig, the more I am learning that all the things I want to do, things that were once considered normal behavior, is under fire and there are people actively trying to make it illegal to do just about anything that could be considered self reliant. From growing your own food, to catching rainwater, to being prepared for a natural or man made disaster, it is all coming under fire. I can’t stop myself from questioning everything about how things work now.

I know I am not the only one! Chime in below with your thoughts, suggestions, and opinions! We love to hear from you!

 

Sources




Understanding Off Grid Solar Systems

Off Grid Solar Systems

Solar power. We all want it but few understand how it really works. I have tried to make sense of the watts, kilowatts, kilowatt hour conversions, plus all of the variables. It doesn’t take very long before most people are completely confused and frustrated. I have poured over internet sites and articles to get a grasp on just how much (and what) you need to live comfortably using an off grid solar system. It is easy to get lost in the math, the components, and differences of opinion.

Thankfully, our friends over at TinHatRanch.com have helped the masses by creating a video series that explains the components, how much power is used, and how to figure out what YOU need to be comfortable in an off grid location, grid down disaster, or when you just need a little extra power. The video also puts the watt usage of certain appliances into easily understood terms, plus the video shows you how to figure out the usage of things like freezers over long term.

Read more here and watch the video….DIY Solar Power Basics- How To Size and Understand Your Off-Grid Solar System




Food Preservation Methods Explained!

When people think about food preservation, the first thought is usually the freezer. There are so many other ways that food is preserved that we never think about! Jerky, for example is considered just a food but in reality, the word jerky is defined as, “meat that has been cut into long strips and dried.” That is an extremely simple definition compared to what most people think of! If you were to hand a strip of plain, dried meat to the average person and tell them it is jerky, they would likely argue the point!

Food_Preservation_Methods

 

The goal of food preservation is to remove the conditions that will allow bacteria to grow and therefore spoil the food. By removing air, moisture, warmth, and light, bacteria will have a hard time growing and your food will last longer. In this article, the different kinds of food preservation methods are given, along with the explanation of why they work and a bit of the science behind it. Once you understand how it works, it seems a lot easier to begin learning how to do it yourself. Learn some new skills and save money on your food bill!

Read more here…Understanding Food Preservation Methods

 




For Beginners: Growing Garlic

Grow_Harvest_Garlic

I really don’t know too many people who don’t like, if not love, the taste of garlic. It is used on pretty much every continent and every culture. Growing garlic is something everyone should learn how to do! Hardy and cold resistant (in fact, most garlic prefers the cooler temperatures!), it is an extremely easy plant to grow, even in containers! Each clove of garlic on a bulb is all you need to grow your own garlic plant and reap the rewards, too! One clove will grow into one bulb – talk about a return on investment!

We easily use 25-30 bulbs of garlic a year and that doesn’t include the seed for the next crop! I use it in everyday cooking, pressure canning recipes, and pickle some up on the side, too! Our goal this year is to harvest 50+ plants of both a red German hardneck variety and a larger, though more mild flavored, elephant garlic variety. If you have ever wanted to try your hand at growing some edibles, garlic is a great way to start!

Read more here and get started…..Growing Garlic for Beginners