Monday, May 25, 2009

Foraging Books...

I was reading last night about the saints who first came into the Salt Lake Valley...and how they survived through the harsh seasons while the land was being settled. Saints were eating crows, thistle, bark, roots, and sego lily bulbs...really...most anything that they could get their hands on to make their suffering and intense hunger subside.

While to many in our day...that is just an interesting history me it is a story of survival that we could very well repeat in our lifetimes. Prophecy regarding last days events prior to Christ's return points to times of very primitive living. Times where farmers cease farming...and people flee from city to city to avoid mobs and destruction.

I have been studying for a while now the various edible plants that are found in the wild. When people find out that I eat wild food...some think that is pretty strange...a pursuit for someone who is a peculiar person...and perhaps not in a good way. Perhaps they feel this way because they do not understand the severity of what is to come...and how useful a skill foraging would be in hard times.

Others say to me "If things get that rough where I need to eat wild plants...I'll come and find you!!" But what if I am already gone? Relying on me to teach you what you can eat when "there is no store" is not a sound plan of self-reliance....especially if I have already evacuated my family!

Some think that they can grow all they need to eat or store it. But...what if you are driven from your home by war...natural disaster...mobs...etc? A person separated from their food could be in pretty sorry shape.

What about people with health needs...who rely on medication? When your supply of meds runs out...what then? Did you realise that God made a drugstore that may have the answer to many of your maladies (yes...not all...but many)?!
He reminds of this in...Alma 46: 40

"And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men weresubject by the nature of the climate—"

God prepared plants and roots in North America to "remove the cause of diseases"!!

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have fresh eat alone or to add to your food storage to make it more palatable...and last longer...that you don't have to grow yourself?!

Wouldn't it be wonderful to know how to heal yourself for free...from plants that grow all around us!? Nature can be your store...year round!

I would encourage you to learn about what foods can be eaten in the wild and how to prepare well as their medicinal values. You could at least learn a handful of the really common plants that are found across the US. It would be wise to have this knowledge and have on hand at least one book (or more) that will help you to find some wild plants for a reference.

There are many foraging books that have been written over the years. Here are a few that I have picked up and read...and my take on them. They are in no particular order...and there are many more worthwhile books that I don't cover here. You may consider doing like I do and check some out from the library before you buy anything...

Foraging Along the California Coast - Peter Howthorn - I love the ocean...but have never cared much for any of the food that comes out of it. I do like fish and chips...but what doesn't taste good deep fried!? Though my taste buds now say "NO"...I do want to know what can be eaten from our local beaches...especially if I was in a survival situation. Peter Howthorn gives the methods to harvest all kinds of sea life...many of which I didn't know could be eaten...and gives recipes for each. He also has a section devoted to various types of seaweeds and their uses. The book is broken up into southern...central and northern California...and then into what kind of beach one is on...rocky...sandy...creeks...etc. The book is illustrated by Peters wife...and she does a good job. Still...I wonder if I would be able to identify the certain fish with her one drawing of it. If you were looking for certain identification of the various sea life...without a background in sea life would probably need another book to go with this one. This would be a fun read in the colder months...bundled up...drinking my hot chocolate on the oceans shore.

Edible and Useful Plants of California - Charlotte Bringle Clarke - First of all...I love the fact that this book is focused on the state where I live. Many of the foraging books will contain plants that you will never see in your locale. This book contains information on 200 types of wild plants...and gives some great recipes for how to use them. I really enjoy how much information it gives regarding how the American Indians used the plants. The book has lots of decent line drawings...and in the middle is a section with color photos of a handful of the plants. There is a helpful section that gives drawings of some of the basics of botany. The book is broken up into sections based upon what area you are in...wetlands...mountains...etc. I would not buy this book as the best book for a person to be able to identify various plants...though it is helpful...but instead for sheer number of plants covered...the fact that it is for California (if you live here)...and the depth of information about uses. Personally I consider this book a must have for a serious California forager.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus - Euell Gibbons - This is not an identification book. This is a book for a person who already is familiar with the discussed plant...or as a primer to get a person interested to find it! Euell Gibbons is seen by many as being like the father of modern foraging. Many other foraging books will cite his works. Here is a guy who as a youth foraged out of necessity for his family to survive through the dust bowl. His insatiable desire to understand the plant world...amassed a wealth of firsthand knowledge of the uses of various plants over a lifetime. He is not regurgitating things he read that someone else talked about...but his own experience. He has also written one on herbs called "stalking the healthful herbs" that is equally wonderful. His one on sea foraging called "Stalking the blue eyed scallop"...I haven't read yet.

Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants - Christopher Nyerges - One of my very favorite books. To my knowledge...the plants he chose can be found...with only maybe a few exceptions...across the US. The plants are listed in alphabetical order. Excellent information regarding the edible uses...and the medicinal. He includes much about Indian lore. One of my favorite things is all he put in the book about the vitamins in each plant and comparing it to other common plants. For example he states that "One cup of cleaned rose hips has as much vitamin C as 12 dozen apples". The photos are in black and white and not always that clear...but his descriptions of what to look for are great. I use this one regularly in the field.

The Practical Mushroom Encyclopedia - Peter Jordan and Steven Wheeler - Pictures so real that you feel like you could reach out and touch them!!! Seriously...the macro photos are remarkable...they remind me of the beautiful photo's in dorling kindersley books. The book is in 3 main parts...1. An intro to mushroom foraging 2. Edible and poisonous mushrooms photos and information 3. Recipes for cooking with the edible mushrooms. This is a wonderful introduction to the world of mushroom foraging.

Mushrooms Demystified - David Aurora - This book is no joke. It is just under 1000 pages of in depth mushroom info. This is NOT LIGHT READING!!! It covers some 2000 species and contains over 800 photos. Most of those photos are in black and white...but the middle section has some nice color photos. This quite overwhelming. Every page requires mental gymnastics as you try to figure out technical words longer than your brain can handle and the pronunciation of which would hurt your tongue. I think I will come back to it when I get more in depth with mushrooms...but that may be a while. For now I am doing mushroom addition and subtraction while this book is doing calculus.

Botany in a Day - Thomas J. Elpel - A wonderful book to get a person without a ton of understand the basics of botany. This will help the studious reader to understand plant families and why they are in a family. It also contains all kind of information on the edible species and their medicinal uses.

The Flavors of Home - Margit Roos-Collins - A wonderful book about foraging in the San Francisco Bay area. She gives information as to what local places she has found various specimens...which can be valuable if you are seeking out a certain plant. The line drawings of the plants are well done...but I would still want other books to confirm that I had the right plant. There is a wonderful graph in the back of the book that outlines a plan of what you can be looking for year round to forage in our area. It covers to some extent poisonous plants as well...and even gets a bit into seaweeds. I'd love to have my own copy of this one instead of just checking it out from the library...but it is now out of print and it's $11.95 cover price is now $50 or more!

Weeds of the West - This is one that I will need to bite the bullet and buy. It is 630 pages...full of full page photos of the plants in California with descriptions of each...and small close up photos. This is the one that you want on hand to confirm that you have the right plant! It is purely an identification book and does not have any info on foraging. Do not buy this one off of the the University of Wyoming at Laramie, they will sell you Weeds of the West for 26.50 with 5.00 shipping (9th edition, 2006). Their phone # is (307)766-5124

Wild Food Trail Guide - Alan Hall - One of my favorites. It tells you what regions to expect the plant to be found...uses...and what time of year. It has lots of history of the plants...and American Indian uses. Drawings of the plants are OK. A great guide to that is in my backpack on foraging walks.

Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes - Jean Craighead George -'ve collected a wild what in the heck are you going to do with it! This book has beautiful illustrations of various dishes that can be made with plants that you collect. Each plant covered also gives a brief bit of information about the plant. A fun book.

Native American Wild Game Fish And Wild Foods Cookbook - David Hunt - 2/3 of the recipes are for things like turtle...raccoon and muskrat. The final 1/3 is devoted to various plant foraging recipes. Most all of them look very basic...requiring only a handful of ingredients...which would be good if you were supplementing food storage. Has a some interesting acorn recipes I want to try.

Where People Feast An Indigenous People's Cookbook - Dolly and Annie Watts - This one...kind of like the last...has recipes for a lot of wild game. I am currently mostly just interested in the plant recipes. A handful of the recipes look up my alley...and I'd like to try them...but most are pretty darned complicated. This is one to check out from the library to try a few dishes...and then take it back.

The Foraging Gourmet - Katie Letcher Lyle - A cookbook with much more! There are line drawings throughout....and a section in the middle with color photographs of some of the plants. Full of great information about each plants history and lore as well as how to find it.

The Wild Wild Cookbook - Jean Craighead George - The cookbook is listed as a "guide for young wild-food foragers"...but really is for any age. Has great recipes that are grouped into seasons when you can forage that item and cook it. Gives some brief info on description of the plant and it's habitat.

Wild in the Kitchen - Ronna Mogelon - A cookbook for wild foods. Line drawings throughout....not really the most attractive book in my opinion...still there are a few recipes I'd like to try.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Doctrines of Self and Family Defense...

History plainly shows that natural and man-made disasters can bring out the best and worst in people. In the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, famines, wars, riots, and so on...stories surface of people that risked their lives to give aid to others...putting their own needs...and perhaps those of their families on hold in order to perform acts of truly selfless service. Many of these amazing and touching stories are of those in the medical and emergency services fields who stick to their jobs serving a higher call than just a paycheck...even when it could put them in great danger. Other stories of those who rise to the aid of others are of just everyday people who believe that they are their brothers keeper and take to heart what it is to be a good Samaritan.

On the flip side to these Christlike individuals...are others who use times of societal distress as an opportunity to become like devilish animals...seeking only their own well-being...even if it means hurting others. There are even dark individuals whose hearts are so dead and sickened that they find amusement in the pain of others and only the rule of law and fear of punishment now keeps them from acting out their satanic desires. History tells the tale that when this rule of law is strained enough...these bad guys do come out of the woodwork to prey upon the weak. Businesses are broken into...people are robbed or even killed for their possessions...the chastity of our women is taken by force...gross darkness and fear covers the land and the natural man and the devil reign. The good and yet foolish that have professed that anarchy is preferable to government see first hand their folly as that law that has protected them now disappears into the shadows leaving them naked to the cruelty of the coarsened.

And it doesn't take a sudden disaster for the bad guys to come out either. As the economy continues to look like the day of economic reckoning that Ezra Taft Benson spoke of in his teachings...and people continue to lose jobs...crime goes up and up! The local news reported a few weeks ago that burglaries are up 59% in South Sacramento over the last two months! Those reporting attributed this to having less parole officers and a strained economy. It is reasonable to suppose that if our economy continues in a downward spiral...that those percentages will rise as the desperate become more so and our riches become "slippery" as they fall into the hands of these desperate individuals.

While we may hope that disasters/societal distress and the subsequent evil acts that are spawned out of them would not happen in the future...prophecy would tell us that this is not to be the case. The Lord through His prophets has clearly spoken of an increase in the frequency of well as and increase in the severity. The result of at least some of these disasters WILL bring people to violence against each other.

The Doctrine and Covenants 45:33 speaks of the calamities of earthquakes and desolation's that SHALL be...and a then mentions the resulting bloodshed...

"And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolation's; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another."
Joseph Smith gave added details about a future time of violence when he spoke this prophecy...

"I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies. I saw blood, desolation, fires. The Son of man has said that the mother shall be against the daughters, and the daughter against the mother. These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city. Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place; but with a view of them, shall I cry peace? No; I will lift up my voice and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know; when the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand." (Joseph Smith Teachings of the Prophet JS Section Four 1839-42, p.161)

It may be hard for those who have never known anything other than the days of prosperity to understand how things could get so bad that family members would turn on each other and kill their own flesh and blood. The reason for such behavior... or at least a contributing factor may be the coming famine that Joseph mentions at the end of his quote. Famines can dull the morals and proper reasoning of the usually moral. Famines have taken the lives of millions upon millions of people in the earths history and show that men commit great atrocities against their fellow man to get through them. There are sobering biblical recordings of some of these famines that as we sit in the cushy comfy armchair of life seem harm to fathom.

2 Kings 6:25-30 records the famine that took place during the Syrian siege of Samaria where people were boiling and eating their own children.

Lamentations 4:1-11 records the famine that took place as Jerusalem fell to Babylonia and the cruelty and cannibalism that resulted.

The great historian Josephus recorded the famine that happened in Jerusalem when it was besieged by the Romans in 70AD. He tells the story of a people gone insane...practicing all sorts of cruelty and lack of natural affection even for ones own family. He also tells of how people were breaking in doors of others homes and taking their food that they felt entitled to and torturing them to tell them where their food was hidden. Read Book 5 of the War of the Jews...Chapter 10.

Hopefully we are not so naive as to suppose that now we are all civilized and such things could not happen now! A couple of years ago I was talking with a police officer about preparedness. We got on the subject of food storage and he said "Yeah...I'm worried because I haven't stored anything". Then he pointed to the people on the street and said "None of these people have stored anything! When the food supply gets cut off...and it will...people will go nuts!" He went on to say incredibly candidly..."If I don't have food...I do have guns...and I will go and take it from whomever I have to!!!!!" He went on to tell me about how hard it was to defend a house and how no one could defend a home in the city forever. I couldn't believe it!!! of our police that many hold in such high regard was conceding that he would use his guns (he has an arsenal) and training as a police officer to take food for his family from other people!! At first I was stunned...but then I realised...that he was more in touch with reality than our average public is. He understands on some level what times of true distress can be like. I have since been trying to work with him to get his food storage together.

With a realization that there will be a time when anarchy will prevail...and the bad guys and good guys turned bad will come out of the woodwork and may seek to hurt you and yours...the prudent must ask questions such as...

"Do I need to protect myself and my family from people that would seek to kill us?"

"Can I expect that the Lord will protect me and what do I need to be worthy of that protection?"

"What will I do to protect my family? What weapons or training do I need?"

For many...the thought of ever having to take someone Else's life even in self defense is about as repugnant as a thought could be. This is good! We should tremble and shake at the thought of dispatching someone "unprepared to meet their God". Much like Nephi we should "shrink at the thought" of having to kill a man. An article called "Somebodys Going to Get Hurt" from the New Era magazine has excellent examples that should shape how we feel about violence. We must not buy into the deception that there is glory or some sort of satisfaction in killing as Hollywood would make it seem...regardless of how malicious or wrong the enemy is.

One should also read Alma chapter 48 for a clear understanding about how a disciple of Christ should feel about killing in self defense. We are to Bear no malice towards any man spite of how we feel about having to kill...we must come to grips with the doctrinal reality that if we are to preserve our own lives or the lives of others in the days to come...we may have to kill in self defense and that such action is approved of the Lord.

In that New Era article Larry A. Hiller makes the point that...

"We need to be absolutely clear that there is such a thing as justified self-defense. You have the right to protect yourself against physical harm if you are attacked. You have a right to use physical force to protect virtue, family, freedom."

In 1969 President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the need to protect and provide for our families...

"The scriptural parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins is a reminder that one can wait too long before he attempts to get his spiritual and temporal house in order. Are we prepared? A man should not only be prepared to protect himself physically, but he should also have on hand sufficient supplies to sustain himself and his family in an emergency." (Conference Report, April 1967, p.61)

In "The Family; A Proclamation to the World" this role of a man was reiterated...

"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."

Our pioneer fathers were no strangers to mobs and physical danger. They had been beaten by mobs...had family killed...and ultimately were driven to the State of Utah to finally settle in peace. Brigham Young had great concern that the Saints would think that the danger was past and that they had no need to defend themselves any longer...

"As for this people fostering to themselves that the day has come for them to sell their guns and ammunition to their enemies, and sit down to sleep in peace, they will find themselves deceived and before they know, they will sleep until they are slain. They have got to carry weapons with them, to be ready to send their enemy to hell cross lots, whether they be Lamanites or mobs who may come to take their lives, or destroy their property. We must be prepared that they dare not come to us in a hostile manner without being assured they will meet a vigorous resistance and ten to one they will meet their grave." (Brigham Young Journal of Discourses,Vol 1, P . 171 - 172, July 31, 1853)

Heber C. Kimball encouraged the women to be ready to defend themselves...

"Let me say to all of you learn to be true and faithful and instead of laying out your means for fine bonnets and fine shoes and for coffee and tea my advice to you is, if you can [sic] 5 or 10 dollars, go and buy a good blanket, a gun, or a sword. And we want you, ladies, to provide yourselves with weapons, and with all that is necessary and be ready to defend yourselves, for you won't always have your husbands to defend you." (Heber C Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:376.)

Here...Brother Brigham put it as plainly as could be written!!!...

"We all believe that the Lord will fight our battles; but how? Will He do it while we are unconcerned and make no effort whatever for our own safety when an enemy is upon us? If we make no effort to guard our towns, our houses, our cities, our wives and children, will the Lord guard them for us? He will not; but if we pursue the opposite course and strive to help Him to accomplish His designs, then will He fight our battles. We are baptized for the remission of sins; but it would be quite as unreasonable to expect a remission of sins without baptism, as to expect the Lord to fight our battles without our taking every precaution to be prepared to defend ourselves. The Lord requires us to be quite as willing to fight our own battles as to have Him fight them for us. If we are not ready for an enemy when he comes upon us, we have not lived up to the requirements of Him who guides the ship of Zion, or who dictates the affairs of his kingdom." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 131, August 1-10, 1865.)

Nine months ago in the September 2008 Ensign the Church reminded the Saints of their "duty" to defend themselves and lives of their families when they printed and article with various letters that the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote to his wife Emma. It was called "My Dear and Beloved Companion". They included this quote from a letter that Joseph wrote just before he died in the Carthage Jail:

"There is one principle which is eternal…It is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of their households whenever necessity requires, and no power has a right to forbid it."

Joseph Smith did not say that it was a "good idea" to defend your family...he did not say "Don't worry about defending yourself...God will do that for you"...he said it was a "duty of all men". Brother Brigham did not say "It is the righteous who should expect God to fight their battles for them with no effort on their part". No...he said in so many words that those who thought there was no need to defend themselves were deceived and would wind up dead!

The Churches "Leaders Guide to Welfare: Providing the Lord's Way" reminds us of this very important principle..."He never forsakes us, but he does not do for us what we can do for ourselves"

While it is ultimately God who wins our evidenced by scriptures like...

D&C 105:14 - I will fight your battles
Joshua 23:10 - One man chase 1000

...that does not mean that he doesn't require of us to show up ready to fight. This is made clear in numerous scriptural passages and events in church history...

D&C 35:14 "And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their enemies shall be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them."

While for some reason there may be some who may read the above only figuratively...I believe that there is a transparent literal meaning that....yes...the Lord can preserve us with His power...but he still requires us to "fight manfully for" Him.

In the Doctrine and Covenants 98:23-31 we are told of great blessings for bearing with patience and not retaliating against our enemy "smiting us" and how those blessings are multiplied depending on how many times we endure the smiting. Smiting in this context seems to be referring to physical blows...not meant to evidenced by how many times the enemy could come back to do it again! Then in the latter part of verse 31 it no longer speaks of just speaks of if the enemy comes with the intention to kill...

"Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified."

In the Doctrine and Covenenants 134:11 it reads....

"We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded."
There may be some that may believe that having a gun or weapon in some way shows a lack of faith in Gods power. To those who feel this way...I would lead them to the words of James who said....

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Here are some more examples...

Our prophet Joseph Smith accepted a six shooter from Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock while in the Liberty Jail...and ultimately shot several of the mob before his own death. Why would the prophet have grabbed the gun...and used it...if he felt that self defense was unnecessary?

Alma Chapter 49 and 50 outline the many works of Moroni and his people to protect themselves from the invading lamanites. They got ready all kinds of weapons and prepared "forts of security" to be ready for the coming lamanites. While speaking of their preparations...the author uses the word prepared and forms of it at least 13 times! He wants to drive home the fact that Moroni and his people had to work for the protection of God. In chapter 50 verse 12 he speaks of the "assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them". Earlier he states that these works were given by way of commandment when he said "Moroni had kept the commandments of God in preparing for the safety of his people". The people of Nephi wisely knew that it was the Lord who had delivered them (see 49:28) and given them peace again. Despite that time of peace...Mormon states in Chapter 50:1 that "Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people". This same Moroni was described not as being a faithless warmonger...but so righteous that "if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

Ammons father Mosiah had recieved a promise that Ammon and his brothers would be delivered from the Lamanites. (see Mosiah 28:7) Perhaps Ammon (if he was aware of the promise) could have just layed down when he was being threatened by the men at the waters of Sebus...saying "The Lord will protect me...and make a miracle happen without my participation"...but no...he physically stood against them and defended the property of the king and the lives of servants.

Those are just a handful of examples to consider. While it seems doctrinally conclusive that the Lord expects us to be ready to protect ourselves...we must not fall into the trap of relying solely upon the arm of flesh and worshipping the gods of steel. No matter how many guns you matter how big and bad you are...there will always be someone bigger and badder with more firepower than you. I would rather be on the side of God than have all of the guns in the world.

There are other promises given that perhaps we may never have to physically defend ourselves and may be delivered without such conflict...

"I am grateful that the Lord gave me the vision and strength to refrain from trusting in the arm of flesh and to put my trust in the protecting care of our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon promise to us of the last days that “the righteous need not fear,” for the Lord “will preserve the righteous by his power.” (1 Ne. 22:17.) I am grateful for the protection promised to those who have kept their covenants and qualified for the blessings promised in sacred places."(Dallin H. Oaks, “Bible Stories and Personal Protection,” Ensign, Nov 1992, 37)

The Doctrine and Covenants 45:68 speaks of a future time when...

"And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety."

It could be concluded from that scripture that we could be spared from ever having to take the sword..or gun...or whatever weapon you have...against our being a resident of Zion.

So...personally I advise the following....

1. Prepare to defend yourself as if it all depends on you...but know that only God can deliver you.
2. Talk to someone who knows about guns to get advice about what they recommend. Personally I like the Remington 870 express shotgun. Most law enforcement officers and people that are knowledgeable will steer you towards a shotgun first for home defense. It doesn't require a gun license...and is pretty simple to use. Make sure that you practice from time to time to become familiar with it's operation. Not much puts fear into the heart of someone coming into your home than that "CHCKKK...CHCKKK" sound when you load a shell into the chamber!
3. Live your life in such a way that you may be worthy of His divine deliverance...or at least His divine comfort.
4. Look into ways to make your home more protected. Strong locks on your doors...good lighting outside...taking out bushes where people can hide etc...are all things I've heard recommended.
5. In addition to guns...consider non-lethal deterrants like pepper spray. It can be picked up fairly cheap at sporting good stores and doesn't require a special license.
6. Self defense courses I think can be a good long as they don't turn you to enjoying violence.

After having read that might say to yourself..."Well...that isn't what the current prophet is saying!"

To which I would reply...

"What would happen if our current prophet stood up in General Conference and recommended that we all got guns!" "What would the media do with that?" "What kind of persecution would begin?"

Perhaps we would quickly join the ranks of those that the FBI is watching as being potential "domestic terrorists" who are "Storing foodstuffs and supplies"...or"caching weapons and ammunition" like those from the Christian Identity? Or how about on their list of 1000 American "apocalyptic cults" who "share the belief that the battle against Satan, as prophesied in the Book of Revelation, will begin in the years surrounding the millennium" or are led by "persuasive persons who claim to have a special mission in life or have special knowledge"...that is of course...if we aren't already on that list. I called the FBI and they wouldn't tell me if we were...or were not.

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke the truth when he said...

"Our critics at home and abroad are watching us. In an effort to find fault, they listen to every word we say, hoping to entrap us." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Testimony to the World,” Ensign, May 1997, 83)

Mostly now it seems that they just give us history lessons and let us connect the dots...

"The Saints broke camp and headed for home to prepare their defenses. Rather than flee, this time President Young declared, “We have transgressed no law, and we have no occasion to do so, neither do we intend to; but as for any nation’s coming to destroy this people, God Almighty being my helper, they cannot come here.”"(Boyd K. Packer, “The Test,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 88–91)

He gave these reassuring words later in the talk when he plainly said...

"It is my purpose to show that in troubled times the Lord has always prepared a safe way ahead. We live in those “perilous times” which the Apostle Paul prophesied would come in the last days.1 If we are to be safe individually, as families, and secure as a church, it will be through “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”2 (Boyd K. Packer, “The Test,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 88–91)

While one could take that quote and the one by Dallin Oaks above as saying that "all you have to do is be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel to be protected "...that person would be denying all of the other words of the prophets quoted earlier in the article. When one puts together the puzzle pieces of this topic the message is to obey the laws and ordinances of the Gospel and do your "duty" by being prepared to defend your family.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Old or Spoiled?

From time to time...I hear of people who are getting rid of old food storage. Perhaps they inherited it from a deceased relative and are uncertain of it's age or the care with which it was stored...or maybe they are the original owners and feel that because it was purchased 20+ years ago that it is now of no worth and it should be dumped to start over. This food finds it's way to the local landfill or with some luck...into the hands of someone who believes that it still has value. I have actually been the recipient of some of this food storage...saving it from finding a new home ...nestled along side of some old mattresses and broken toys.

What each of these old food storage philanthropists has reassuringly said to me when I pick up the food is..."I will replace it with new food". While I have never followed up to confirm that they followed through with their plan...I have to wonder if they really ever got around to doing it. Are their shelves still bare?

While I whole-heartedly appreciate anyone willing to give me their old food storage...I am always concerned first of all that they are putting themselves in a precarious position if a disaster came and they hadn't yet replenished their supply...and I am also concerned that they will think that I am like their free storage space and plan to show up at my door and ask for it back!....Meanwhile my chickens have eaten it all...and they don't care who it once belonged to! That is why whenever I accept someone's food storage I always confirm with them that it will now be mine...and they won't want it back just so that we are totally clear.

Here are some questions I have for people who want to get rid of food storage...

1. Is it old...or is it spoiled? In my mind there is a big difference. Old is edible...spoiled can be toxic. Yes...I can taste the difference between 25 year old wheat and fresh wheat...but will still fill your belly!

2. If the day comes that you need to live on your food long will you need to live on it? Will it be weeks...months...years? Will you be wishing you hadn't given away your old storage if you run out of food?

3. If needy people show up at your door wanting to trade goods or services food...what food will you give them? Is a starving person going to turn up their nose at older...but edible food!!? The answer is no. Not the truly starving. If you doubt a study of famines and read about what they ate!! Leather...worms...bark...termites...etc...are not nearly as good as nice bisquit made from old wheat.

The church came out not too long ago letting us know that the shelf lives of our properly stored long term foods may be considerably longer than previously estimated. See this graph. I'd encourage you to think twice before getting rid of old but unspoiled food storage...and use a little positive peer pressure to dissuade others from getting rid of theirs too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An Animal Farm in the City...(Not Orwells)

A few weeks back I was at a local feed store and overheard a conversation between a customer and the girl behind the counter. The man asked where all of their spring chicks were that they usually sell and the girl responded "We sold out!! Faster than we ever have!." She went on to say..."and it's not just us...the hatchery that we purchase from is OUT OF CHICKS!!" The hatchery that they purchase from is not a small hatchery...and to have run out is a big deal!

After the man left I got to talking with her and we agreed that because of the current economic climate...there are many people considering keeping chickens and other animals at their home that haven't in the past. People are wanting to be more self reliant.

My family started keeping both chickens and rabbits several years ago. On a regular basis people stop me and ask questions about how I do it. Many of these same people also end up on my doorstep to see my coop and concoct their plans.

Now...I didn't grow up on a farm. I was never in 4-H or anything like that. I had not had a lot of experience with animal husbandry...with the exception of moral support to my cat Spice when she had several litters! I've learned most everything I know from two books..."Storeys Guide to Raising Chickens" and "Storeys Guide to Raising Rabbits"...both of which I highly recommend.

So why do we raise chickens...

1. Fresh eggs not filled with antibiotics etc...

2. They provide manure for our garden.

3. They are a meat source if we need it.

4. They provide eggs which could be a valuable item to barter with in hard times.

5. They are an effort to keep the commandment from God to go into home production.

6. They are a guilt free way to get rid of food scraps. (They eat most everything!!)

Why do we raise rabbits...

1. The rabbits provide a great manure that can be put straight into the garden.

2. They are a nice pet that makes no sound. (Unless they are being bit by another animal)

3. They are a meat source that is that is super high in protein. (We don't eat much is a backup for times of famine)

A few bits of advice regarding chickens...

1. Buy an automatic waterer. I purchased a trough one from Murray McMurray...that they no longer carry....but I am really pleased with it. With an automatic waterer you don't want to have to worry all the time if your chickens have enough water. If they go too long without water...they could lose the ability to produce eggs...or die.

2. It is also a good idea to have a feeder of some sort. Mine looks like this one...only I made it myself by bending sheet metal. It was a hassle to make...but I can fill it up with food...and leave for a month or more...and the chickens would have food!

3. Call around to local feed stores to see if they have chicks. You could mail order the chicks...but they usually have a pretty large minimum 25 or you may have to split an order with friends.

4. Make a shelter for your chickens (it can be elaborate...or really primitive) that is big enough for the number of chickens you want. You many consider buying a few more chickens than you think you'll need as you may get roosters you will have to get rid of...or some may die. Introducing chickens to a flock later can be difficult or impossible.

5. Confirm your zoning laws to make sure it is legal where you are.

6. Talk to your immediate neighbors and tell them your plan. If they sound really sour on the might buy them off with some of your fresh eggs!!

7. Read the book I recommended above...and it will tell you everything else!

A few bits of advice regarding rabbits...

1. They die REALLY easy in our heat if you keep them outside. It would be wise to have an automatic watering system for them too. To get them through the summer months here takes some care...bringing them frozen water bottles...making shade available...holes to get cool in...mine even have misting system!!

2. The gestation period for rabbits is one month!! The miracle of life happens REALLY quick when the male and female get together. Unless you are going to be eating could have a real problem on your hands if you start having litters without an avenue to find them homes. I'd recommend starting with a female rabbit...and then having more when you are sure you can commit to it. Also...not all rabbits get along...and territorial issues...could end in the death of a rabbit.

3. Buy a cage for your rabbit...or make one...but have a fenced in area for the rabbit to roam. It always bothers me to see somone buy a rabbit and stick it in a tiny cage...and then never let it out to run and play.

4. There are two sides to the rabbit community. One side is like the "House Rabbit Society" that believes it is totally inhumane to ever have a rabbit outside...and treat rabbits as pets that are a part of their family. Then there is the other side that raises them for show...or meat...or for science.

5. You can purchase rabbits often at local feed stores. This seems to be cheapest that way. To buy one at the pet store...generally you have to "adopt" one...and pay for it to be spayed or neutered if it hasn't been already. This can be REALLY expensive.

6. Read the book I recommended above.

If you still have children at home....I would also get them involved in the care of your family farm! Every day my children do their "farm chores"....and I think they are better for it.

Something that is true of both rabbits and chickens is that their breeds can often determine their personality. Just like there is a difference between how a chihuahua...and a golden retreiver act...there is a difference between a Buff Orpington and a Rhode Island Red chicken...or a mini rex and a New Zealand White rabbit. I'd recommend researching a bit which varieties suit you the best. You might check out the ARBA site to learn a bit about rabbit varieties....or read the info under the chicken breeds at the Murray McMurray site. Whatever you do...don't get any animals until you have studied it out and got things ready for them.

There is plenty more I could say...but'll figure it out...with trial and error...reading the Storey Guide...and asking questions to people that have chickens and rabbits.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gardening Workshop Summary...

Today was the Gardening Workshop! All in all...I think it was success...and people seemed to enjoy the info and free plants. Now they just need to put their new knowledge into practice! Let me know if there is anything that you think would make future events better...

The notes on Alisons 4 season harvest class will be posted soon as she gets them to me. I'm sure it will happen within the week.

Happy Gardening....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Foraging Walk/Hike...

As a follow up to the class I will be teaching this Saturday on Foraging (at the Gardening Workshop)...I will be going on a free foraging walk/hike with whomever is interested in coming. We will gather Saturday May 16th at 9am at Lew Howard park at 7100 Baldwin Dam Road. I will be there rain or shine.

We will walk around the park and I will point things out that I know...and you can show me things that you know. This is a physically easy thing to do...and there will be PLENTY to see just in the park.

Then those that are up for more of a rigorous hike will walk with me...I don't is probably at least a couple of miles down a walking path that goes into the "folsom woods" and then wraps back to the park where you parked your car. Most of it is shaded and quite pretty.

We will stop A LOT to look at plants and speak of their food and medicinal uses. I will also bring with me a variety of foraging books to help us with our identification.

Some of the things you should expect to see on the trek are...

Wild lettuces, curly dock, chickweed, horehound, wild mint, lemon balm, wild carrot, miners lettuce, plantain, pokeweed, wild radish, filaree, wild mustard, sow thistle, thistle, shepherds purse, wild grapes,...etc....etc....whatever I see and know! I will also point out some of the things that you should not eat as well.

Please dress appropriately for the weather...bring water...and perhaps a backpack to help hold my books!! If you go on the full hike...plan on it taking a couple of hours.

I know this is short notice for some who may want to come. I am willing to do it again and again if you get together some people. Contact me and we can work to schedule it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dental Preparedness

Did you ever see that movie with Tom Hanks called "Castaway"? In that film Tom's character has a toothache when he is living in civilization that he means to get taken care of...but before he can see a dentist...a plane that he is a passenger on goes down and he becomes a castaway on an island. The film has a sobering scene where Tom...who is in excruciating pain from his rotten tooth...takes an ice skate blade and a coconut...and beats the tooth out of his mouth!! After screams from the intense pain and incredible trauma...he finally finds relief as the tooth comes out.

While we may not expect that we will go down in a plane and be a castaway on an island...there are all kinds of made and otherwise that could make a visit to a dentist a short or long term impossibility. In my mind...there are few pains that are more debilitating than that of dental pain! A sore arm you can shake off and get back to work whereas a rotten tooth can make your brain feel like it is in a vice...making all of your physical and mental abilities of no worth to anyone.

So far as I know...there aren't home remedies for major dental work! Of course other than liquor and a pair of pliers! There are various plants such as what is called the toothache plant that will numb the pain to some degree...but it won't fill a gaping rotten hole!

I recommend that you get your families dental house in order...and practice superb oral hygiene to avoid future issues. You should also keep a stock of floss...toothbrushes...rinses...pastes...whatever your belief is regarding what will keep your teeth healthy. I personally recommend not using fluoride products of any kind as I believe that fluoride is poison.

Take care of it now and chew happily later!

Read the comments for some more on home remedies...