Wednesday, 24 June 2015

I'm becoming a survival mum!

I almost said survival mom, since I've been reading a book very kindly leant to me by a friend, but I just had to anglicise it. Let's be honest, one of the best things a friend can do for you is lend you a book, a recipe or some seeds. I'm not sure if said friend would like to be named so I'll keep shtum.

It's available from amazon via real life book or the kindle edition. I can't see Lisa being very approving of the kindle edition, I mean what if an EMP happened? Unless you've stored your kindle in the recommended Faraday cage you'll never remember all her handy recipes or how to sterilise water!

I really enjoyed it and read it cover to cover. Some of it is a bit American for me. When I saw the amount of stuff she said to keep in the car I laughed. Now for all of you who've been to the states, have you seen the size of the cars?!! We hired a mini size from the car rental, the smallest they did and it was a Ford Focus saloon! I'd never fit the kids in with all the stuff she suggests, but it has made me think I need to keep a few more useful things in the car for emergencies. Lisa also suggests in the event of a catastrophe finding somewhere at least 20 miles from a largish town. I'm not sure there's a place in the UK that far from a town, except maybe in the highlands. Apart from a few bits like this though it's very useful and does make you think that perhaps we could all be a bit more prepared to look after ourselves.

I've kept a contingency of food for a while anyhow, we live a long walk from a town in the case of being snowed in or such. It did make me think some more on storing water. I'm not majorly concerned as we have a pond a minutes walk away, fed by streams and a river not a mile away. 
In the event that we don't want to go too far though I thought a few 2 litre bottles filled would be a good start. To that aim I've started saving them, James just looks like a long suffering husband and ignores the bottles multiplying on the kitchen worktop. The book says that the chlorine in our water is enough to keep the water sterile if stored in a clean bottle. I also have my eye on some calcium hypochlorite to make my own bleach and for use in sterilising water. It also is used for cleaning pools, which makes it handy as wee man has a large inflatable pool that he was given and will come out in a few years when he's old enough.

I also loved the idea of grinding my own flour and as wheat can last 30 years in a bucket then that would be a fantastic insurance plan. The cost of a mill is a bit prohibitive though, but hey a girl can dream.

It also inspires me to be more organised with storing food, I feel a trip to booker coming on.

Lastly it makes me even more determined to try canning. I've been wanting to try it for a few years but the cost of canning jars in the UK is just mental. When we went on holiday last to the states I nearly bought a pack of jars but they weren't in stock in the shop that I'd gone to find them, I am to this day so gutted I didn't get them. As I don't own a pressure canner I thought I'd try water bath canning with some tomatoes from my crop this year. When I get paid (ha, paid on maternity leave, I wish!) I will order some jars from eBay. they do this great international shipping thing now which opens up a whole host of products. It's still cheaper with internatinal shipping, postage, import duty and handling fees to get the jars from abroad. My long term dream is a pressure canner and I think I'd won the lottery if I ever come across the infamous Ball blue guide to preserving in a charity shop. It's on my amazon wish list and one day I'll order it but at the moment it's £45!!!! ($71 at current exchange rate)

Anway, it's a great book and if you're at all interested in 'prepping' then it's worth a read.


  1. I got myself a canner and flour mill some years ago I started collecting this type of equipment and learning how to use it in preperation for our lifestyle change I also started taking an interest in prepping and learning some skills it was one of the reasons for living were we do :-)

    1. I'll have a look at your blog Dawn for anything about canning then. I've been interested in looking after ourselves a little more for ages and have read so much on the net. Now I need to start thinking about the next steps after some food and fuel storage, exciting times! Have you ever thought about teaching canning, there's no where I can see in the UK to learn the skills firsthand?

  2. I bought an All American canner from the USA a couple of years ago, and it has been a good item to have and worth the money it cost. A pressure cooker will not can properly, and the USA was the only source for a good sized canner that I could find. As for the jars for the canner, they are still in good supply here in France and all the supermarkets still stock them, so I got into the habit of buying a few jars when they came on offer, and have now built up a good supply of them. I use the ones with separate lids and seals because I find them less fiddly to use than the Kilner jars which have clipped on lids. If you are buying in jars which have lids, remember to also order the lids which seal the jars.

    Before buying in any equipment I research the product on Amazon, (which is where I buy most things from nowadays) and if a particular skill is needed I look on YouTube. All my farm skills have been learnt through those YT vids, and I bless the people who have taken the time to upload the info so that I can learn.

    Looking forward to seeing how you get on with your 'prepping'....... it is a very fulfilling and fun thing to do, and well done to you for having a go.

    1. All American seems the way to go according to so many reviews. It's not on Amazon but is on eBay. As for youtube, it's a fantastic resource, I just think it's a shame there aren't more groups to pass on info. I've been thinking about joining the WI to learn from some of the older generation, I think I'd be the youngest there by about 30 years, not that that bothers me.

  3. I don't mind being named! I guess most people know what I'm like anyway! nothing wrong with being a little prepared.
    As for canning jars they have them at a reasonable price in Dunelm when they have a sale. We'll have to have a canning day, I should have plenty of produce for it!

    1. You outed yourself there Kev! I'm always take a look in Dunelm and Wilkos sometimes do a good deal too.

  4. Good for you! The day can come along when the preparations you make now will be either convenient or vital to your family.

    "Survival Mom" is very well thought of here. She does a lot of pod casts, guest appearances on survival radio programs, and has done some guest slots on television. She is really a "prepper" rather than a survivalist but people seem to be using the two words interchangeably these days. I've been a survivalist for more than 30 years so I'll stick with that.

    I have a good grain mill, and I can run it off an old weed eater mower if I am grinding up corn or wheat. It's hard on the shoulder and arm if you are milling a lot of something like red wheat. But, red wheat and corn will stay fresh for 30 years or more if you seal it in pails with some nitrogen, or some desiccant packs.

    I really tried to get into canning, but since I don't grow my own food it wasn't cost effective. My country has a free, recently renovated cannery with high school girls to show you how to do the canning and help you with it, but it would cost me more to buy produce at the farmer's market than it would to just buy canned food at the store. It's one of the areas I am sadly deficient in, and I'm always saying this year I will have a garden but it never works out.

    We do love our big vehicles. I own a Jeep Commander, which is essentially a land battleship it's so big. But my daughter has it up North, and uses it to haul hay to her horse, things like that. I squawked and hooted when I found out she was using it for a pickup, it's a really nice vehicle, but she is a practical person.

    Anything I can do to help with your research let me know. Kev Alviti is a good guy to know when it comes to growing things, he is like Radigast the Wizard in the Hobbit movies.

    1. Thanks Harry all help is always appreciated. I figure that big cars come from cheap fuel, we filled up the Focus for less than £15 from empty when on holiday in the states. Over here my Focus costs almost £70 to fill from empty, huge difference. We joked about bringing some petrol back on the plane.

      Kev knows his onions.

      I plan to grow the garden size year on year, so learning to preserve some of the food seems like a good plan. Plus if I have the ability to preserve what I grow then if the shops are empty I can still put food on the table come winter, seems like a sensible plan to me.

  5. Excellent post Kirsty. I didn't realize canning jars were so expensive and difficult to come by in the UK. How did people traditionally preserve food then? It would be something to research.

    1. Thanks Leigh, I know Kilner jars were used but I guess as it's not so popular then prices are high. We can get normal jam jars quite cheaply but they aren't any good for pressure canning. I guess things were dried, but you're right I'll see what I can find about how things were done here.

  6. Kirsty - i am just catching up on a pile of your posts - so sorry for not being around in so long! i'm with Harry - i am just glad that you are reading, learning, planning and trying! Survival Mom has much knowledge and info but please remember that she is writing from the perspective of prepping in the suburbs.

    if you have easy access to fresh running water, my advice would be to save and invest in Berkey filters (expensive but they pay for themselves in such a short time and are worth their weight in gold!!! we have been using ours for years and i can't recommend them enough - in fact - Berkey should be paying me a commission i recommend them so much!)

    seriously tho - i may take some flack for this but i DO NOT recommend storing water! first, i won't drink fluorinated water let alone water that is treated with bleach or tablets! get a rainbarrel or build your own water catchement system and then run your rainwater through your berkey filters. my hubby built a filter system using 2 5-gallon food grade buckets and we filter our rainwater through it, using 3 berkey filters - if you want more info send me an email at

    secondly - you can only ever store as much water as you have room for and what will you do when that runs out? i take the water storage concept in tandem with the idea of "you can feed a man some fish and you will feed him for a day. teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life" - know what i mean?

    as for canning - it was several years ago that my dear friend SciFiChick (from the Bacon and Eggs blog. she is sadly no longer with us) and i took a free online canning course together - it was awesome! i can dig up the link if you like. we went into it terrified and our first few attempts at canning scared the heck out of us - but she became a pro and i became an avid canner. again, try to save for an all-american canner as they really are the best. and have no fear - people have been canning food for a hundred years and if all of those people could do it - then so can you!

    i have found that living on my small pension - we set aside a set amount of money every month to add to our "jar". it gives you great pleasure to add to the jar each week or month, no matter how small the amount. find ways to become even more frugal (which i know you are) so that 60cents here or a dollar there, added to the jar, really starts adding up! write a list of the things that you think will help you become more self-sufficient and then prioritize those things and as money in the jar starts adding up - purchase those things over time. it will take time but you all are so young that you have many years to add to your prepping repertoire.

    lastly, i applaud you for what you are trying to do for you and your family - it is no easy task, and certainly not for the faint of heart - but you have heart in spades...and i just know that you will be flying as free as a butterfly in no time at all - living your lives to the fullest and becoming more self-reliant all of the time.

    i am sending much love! if you have any questions at all - just send me an email or leave a comment on the blog! your friend,

  7. Thanks Kymber, I've messaged you x