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My, but this year seems to have flown past. It's been a bit tense in spots what with one thing or another, mostly having to do with politics, economics, or both together. Interest in prepping seems to continue upwards and I believe will continue that way for some time especially seeing as how the U.S. government is now finally admitting we've been in recession since December of last year.

And speaking of the recession if there was ever a time to be giving prep related Christmas and birthday gifts this is it. We’re in a period of uncertainty which is showing no signs of abating that I can see so lots of folks have the insecurity fidgets or are starting to get them. Frou-frou and frippery are de classe’ now, useful practicality is in. This is when prep gifts can strut their stuff so let’s hear some ideas about these from you folks.

I have a niece who is graduating high-school next spring with an interest in going into nursing starting with her CNA then to LPN and RN after that. Her Christmas gift this year will be a bp cuff and stethoscope so she can practice at home. Also a good home medical prep. Her younger brother has developed an interest in wilderness survival so he gets two good manuals I found at BooksAMillion and a Silva starter compass. My oldest daughter really got a kick out of helping me work on the greenhouse, especially learning to use a handsaw so it’s time to start building her own toolkit. She’ll be getting a handsaw of her own, a hammer, and a set of Phillips and flat head screw drivers. The better for her to learn and better still to keep her out of my tools! {laughing}

Let’s hear about your prep related gifts!

Personal prep wise we are steadily continuing to fill the freezer we bought several months ago as we can afford to make meat store and Sam’s Club runs. We have another cannery run coming up this month and they are supposed to have white wheat once more. White or red we’re going to go big on the grain again along with oatmeal and milk as we continue working our way towards building a two year supply of the most storable dry pack foods. Commodity prices rise and fall by the season and a seemingly endless number of other influences, but the volatility of the last year has convinced us to lay by enough that we can sit out the worst of the market follies if we have to. If you don’t feel compelled to rush out to buy what you can get when a given commodity suddenly shoots for the sky then you are a part of the solution and not the problem.

In the home production area I finally have the greenhouse finished. This year’s version is 12ft x 20ft, my largest yet. Because it’s more than twice the size of last year’s it is bringing new concerns about the cost of heating it in the winter and how I’ll keep it warm if we should lose grid power without having to resort to using my emergency propane supply. This means exploring passive solar to which end I moved five fifty five gallon plastic drums of water inside. This gives me better than 2,000 pounds of water to absorb heat during the day and release it at night. Three of the drums I’ll use as the base of a plant bench for starting seeds. The remaining two went into corners where it’s hard to put anything. I’ll still be able to use the tops of the drums to set stuff on. Five drums are probably not enough by themselves, but it’s a start. I’m already looking at how I can fill all the odd spaces inside where I can’t put plants with small bottles of water. My other plant bench sits high enough off the ground that I think I can sit one liter soda bottles underneath and is large enough that I might be able to get the equivalent of another drum full of water in there. More thermal mass to further smooth the thermometer peaks and valleys.

The winter garden is coming along well. I’ll soon be setting out more cabbage, broccoli, collards, and pac choi to replace the peppers that aren’t going to make it through the next frost.

How is the prep month looking for you folks?

…..Alan.
 

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I sold off a mossberg 12ga I had to buy the wife a youth model 20ga for christmas. I never used the 12ga, and the youth model fit her perfectly. Bought my 6yr old a "real" backpack for christmas for hiking. Figured it would fill double duty if needed. He also got a Rossi .22/.410 that I picked up new in a trade a few months back and have been hiding from everyone. Rest of the people that we buy gifts for are getting camping related stuff as well as books on food storage.
 

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Mountaineers are free
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Christmas Gifts.... Sigh :(

With the wife's family we draw names... So one person is all we each buy for. I sat around at Thanksgiving listening to the theories by which the Government could save the country with the right legislation and Blah Blah Blah... Then listened as consumerism poured out all over the place with frugal thinking thrown to the wayside... Then my daughter (22 now) gave us her list containing such things as Tanning Sessions, Gym Memberships, Stuff to "Pimp" Her ride and so on... Wow where to get the homesteading window tint? Now my side of the family is slowly catching the bus... Mom is hand making gifts for everyone in the family, and my brother has been busy canning and reloading ammo, although he is not convinced that the SHTF will ever happen, or even could in a country this big. For Christmas I asked my wife for a milking goat (gonna try my hand with goats now) And her list is all practical little stuff without much expense. 25 years together and we are always on the same page.

This month I have a lot to do. I have to clear some land I bought across the road from us... Mostly hillside but we are building ourselves a Micro House there next year. Planting Blackberries on one hillside and clearing the flat for feed corn and sunflowers (chicken food) I am bringing in two full loads of saw mill lumber to start changing the barn from Horses to actual feed me versions of livestock. I have to build a goat stall and milking room. Need to expand the chicken coop in the barn to accommodate the chickens we will be incubating first of the year. Cleaning out a room in the house, putting in some grow lights and planting some indoor crops this winter, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and some spices. I really needed to dig up some more big rock from the garden addition but I think the wet of winter has set in already. However I have a neighbor who still keeps horses, said I could have his whole manure pile, the old stuff and the fresh stuff... Gonna be running the tractor and cart up and down the road on nice days, putting a couple inches all over the garden :) . I have to climb and top three trees that are shading our garden part of the day and then cut them down all the way, once they are shorter. Wow thats about half the list, but probably all I'll get done this month... Oh and I may be resigning a contract with The Army reserves in an Intel slot... $25,000 re-enlistment bonus for prior service... I have got to really sit and study a spell on this one.
 

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My birthday was this past Saturday and I got a 6 piece cast iron set and a jerkey master to make homemade ground meat jerky snack sticks. I know my MIL thought DH was crazy to get me those for my birthday, but it's exactly what I asked for and I'm grinning from ear to ear.
 

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Usually my son wants a gift card for the electronics store so that he can get a new video game. This year he's in his own apartment for the first time, and he's asking for a pantry so he can stock up.
 

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Uber Tuber
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With chickens as big as the one in your avitar, you could eat one chicken all year!

No prepping needed!
 

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As far as gift ideas, I know I've mentioned getting my son who lives in the city a Berkey last year and he has really enjoyed that. For his birthday this year I gave hime the Kelley Kettle since he likes to hike and he has used it a lot...keeps telling me how much use he's gotten from it. The year before he got a backpack and I urge him constatnly to fill it and keep it in his vehicle. My other son gets hunting supplies for every occasion and this year I'm getting them both a nice knife and I ordered a Blast Match for each of us from The Alert Store sale I posted about. They had the best price I've found and at 10% off and free shipping, I paid less than $16 each for them and my son got an extra set of black filters for his Berkey for just $76.50. I love their site but it's hard to find stuff on it...you just have to follow the links and searches do very little good. For Christmas, I'm still considering getting myself a nice sleeping bag. One thing for sure, every thing we buy this year for Christmas will be useful.

WVstuck I hope you get that goat you want. I got mine in June and am so glad to have them. I'm considering another one but will have to think a while on that one since I have five now...only two are milkers. Chickens are at the top of my wish list but they will have to wait a few months.

As far as preps...you all know I'm notorius for prepping in frantic bursts when I have free time so as soon as my busy season is over, I plan to top off all my canned stuff and maybe up my grain storage but right now, business is great and I'm trying to make the money to buy those preps. Still I'm trying to find enough time to do a complete inventory soon so I won't be surprised with a hole in my preps. We actually ran out of Tostitos over the weekend and DH was in shock LOL. In thirty years of marriage, we've rarely ran out of anything and normally it wouldn't happen but I'm too busy and they aren't a priority on my prep list...we survived.
 

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We are off to a very good stocking month. Shampoo/Conditioner was b1/g1 so I got 12. Hubby got a deer today and we just got done eating the backstrap...YUMMMY!! :banana02: I got to learn how to track a blood trail in the dark (no snow) which was alot of fun. I learned how to gut a deer. All around great day. In a few days I'll be canning/freezing venison. Hope tomorrow brings another deer.

For the rest of the month I'll mainly be focusing on Hubby's Bday (the big 30) and Christmas. My mom, MIL and I will be getting cast iron cookware. Hubby is getting a new hunting knife for his Bday (in two days). If he's been a good boy, santa may bring him a new rifle for Christmas. :D
I will continue researching all the plants I plan on squeezing into the 2 main veg gardens, herb beds, orchard. I will continue researching pros/cons of various food animals. I'll also be drawing up plans for placement of EVERYTHING so that I can (hopefully) maximize space.
 

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I'm getting a sewing machine for my daughters. Back in the summer they were making doll clothes out of scrap fabric and hand sewing only. This gave me the ideal of getting them a sewing machine so they could play around with it and hopefully they will eventually learn how to make their own clothes.

I hope to come up with some other ideals that will help them to become more self sufficient.
 

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Hired Hand
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Good month so far. Found some sales on basics such as sugar & flour. Added a scope to the 22 to compensate for my aging eyes. The set of quail eggs is due tomorrow! Avoided disaster with the set after the battery backup for the incubator quit...fortunately I was home at the time and noticed the incubator temp starting to drop. The temp stayed above 97 so there shouldn't be any ill effects.

Gift wise, DDs are getting warm, practical clothes to wear around the house...tired of hearing "I'm cold, can we turn up the heat?" when they are walking around barefoot in T-shirts...sigh, kids.
 

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The only thing I've done so far this month is canning a bunch of turkey. I had never canned meat before, except for bacon and some sausage links, and I was intimidated by it. Not sure why, since I canned 100 jars of veggies and fruits this summer.

Anyway, I got two turkeys on sale after Thanksgiving, we ate half of one, and after cooking the second one, I pulled all the meat off the bones and canned it in seasoned broth. 10 quarts! One quart didn't seal, and I had a moment of fear about poisoning my family. But I put that one in the fridge and we had it over noodles last night for dinner. The others are sealed and ugly/pretty out in the mudroom, waiting to be put on the shelves.

So for me that's a big milestone....I'm ready now to start canning beef, chicken, rabbit, or whatever. I can do it!
 

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Since we are getting ready to move, we are actually trying to use up all the glass-jar canned goods we put back this year. It will be a job. Thanksgiving dinner came from those jars - plus a turkey. Christmas dinner will too. We have already informed the kids that evening treats during the week of Christmas will lean heavily towards bread and jam!

On the other hand, we are carefully making a list of what we will want at our new place. Lay of the land, etc. Looking at some other skills we will need/equipment/etc. It has been a good exercise for us. Where did we go overboard here and what can we do differently now.

And...I have a silkie doing just what I bought her to do - setting on some eggs! They are due to hatch next week. I am trying to preserve the genetics of my best layers. Reality will be that I will be lucky to take the chickens with me.
 

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Callieslamb, 2 hens exposed to a rooster and a different rooster and your silkie setter will get you a start on your poultry in your new place and keep diversity in your flock(I never reccomend going below 2 roosters in case of loss, but keeping moving stock to a minamum seems to be key for you at this time.)
For my personal prepping, canning turkey and getting everything ready for winter is tops right now. Got all my wood split and in the shed(big relief) and the money from the sale of excess turkey in to buy the winters feed for the reduced breeding stock to carry over. Going more and more with feeding the whole grains, less waste and lower cost.
 

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Junkman
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Since we are in pretty good shape, we stocked up on paper supplies. I found waxed paper for $1 and bought several rolls. We do not heat in the microwave in plastic. Since Maxwell House and some other brands of coffee are using the handled plastic jugs I have been saving these. My friend suggested they would be good grain shovels for the animal feed. Anyone else have any suggestions? Jklady
 

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Wasza polska matka
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I'm getting a sewing machine for my daughters. Back in the summer they were making doll clothes out of scrap fabric and hand sewing only. This gave me the ideal of getting them a sewing machine so they could play around with it and hopefully they will eventually learn how to make their own clothes.

I hope to come up with some other ideals that will help them to become more self sufficient.
Oldcountryboy, your daughters sound young, but I think thats a wonderful thing to do.
My daddy (who was almost 65 at the time) bought me a second hand cabinet style sewing machine for mothers day last year. He heard me always talking about wanting to make crazy quilts (I never sewed before). My daddy died a month or so later, on fathers day, and it broke my heart.
DH set up my machine in a corner of the kitchen(recently), made me a square template from a peice of luan Sunday, and I began cutting squares from scraps f fabric and old clothes. In a few days of not constantly working on it, I have a crazy quilt top 1/4 done. I wish he were alive for me to make one for him.
I also remember when I was a kid I had a toy washboard and a clothesline, and my grandma taught me to wash the doll clothes on the washboard and hang them on the small line my Pop strung for me on the back porch...I would play at this for hours, all the while gramma doing chores in the kitchen along side of me.
I hope you buy them the machine, and i hope someday you get a nice crazy quilt.
 

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Beaglebiz what a sweet daddy and what a precious thing that machine must be to you. I'm so glad you shared that.

The sewing machine for the girls is a wonderful idea. You'll give them a lifetime skill that most girls don't get now days. My grandmother had a treadle mahcine and a stack of feed sacks the summer I was twelve and they were all mine. They kept me entertained for days on end.
 

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I'm thinking of asking my mom for her treadle machine. I don't know the condition, but I would love to put it back to use. It has been a table or tv stand all of my life, probably hers too.

I picked up a folding table w/ chairs combo at the thrift store - it's a little self-contained suitcase. I figured it would be good for camping or if we have more people eating at our house. Like this:
http://www.chiphi-pi.org/b2b/bamboo_rattan_and_wicker_furniture/1/picnic_table_and_2.html
 

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Wasza polska matka
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I am getting one of my boys his own fly tying vise and tools. DH has been tying flies for years,and my little guy is very interested in making his own. Its a nice hobby, and useful too. he collects feathers and stuff from the wild turkeys and pheasants, so he has some stuff for his fur and feather box he found himself (he is 9).
I got the two little guys harmonicas, my oldest son taught himself to play, and has been showing his little brothers.
I cant really think of other homesteading/survival gifts I am getting for people. We made most of what we are giving to people, soap, dishcloths, quilted pillows, home made wine, canned goods like jelly, relish, bbq sauce and mustard with home made pretzels, and buckeyes and cookies. DH carved Holy Families for both grandparents, boys made fleece blankets and tin man windchimes.I am hoping Santa brings me some old fashioned non hinged clothespins and a yogurt maker that does not use electricity.
I got DH some dvds (we dont have cable) on sale, a HD radio and some home made glazed pecans.
I found a book on making your own toys (DH is a woodworker), so maybe we will get some ideas from there for the guys.
DH also made my MIL a huge cabinet (she has no storage in her new house) for a combo birthday/Christmas gift.
the boys also came up with some really nice cat toys from the fleece scraps to give to my mom's cats. I plan on making my dogs some biscuits and babushkas in a Christmas print so they look festive.
We had a decent windstorm here, and many hemlock (evergreen) branches came down. The boys annd I gathered them up, tied them and made a pretty garland for the front porch. I also found some nice large and tiny pine cones for making ornaments. I will pull these out on a snowy day with my scrap box and let the kids decorate them.
I stocked way up on walnuts and pecans. These are in the freezer. Seems the best deals are now for the holidays for the nuts.
 

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I was one of the crazies out on Black Friday, but we live in North Idaho, no comparison to the real world! Found some really great deals, we don't have alot of shopping choices either but was happy with what I got. The grown girls got sewing machines, that was what they wanted, the boyfriends got emergency car kits and flashlights. The little kids got a couple things that they wanted and I filled in the needed clothes, boots etc. We don't do electronics so I am never in the crowded areas of the stores. Also did something yesterday I have been wanting to do for a looooong time. I canned meat!!!!!
I picked my turkey carcass clean, and canned up all the meat with broth. Also boiled down the carcass and will can the stock today. Now I will be able to do all the stewing hens I processed and stuck in the freezer. Have been picking up all the sale foods for the last month, also cleaning and organizing the house which is always a great prep.
Toni
 
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