Soil: Where it all begins.
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A top bar hive is a container, usually a trapezoidal box with small 1/2x1 inch boards spanning the top. it can be that simple or you can get fancy and attach a piece of triangular stock to the board or cut them triangular to begin with. The point of the triangle will hang down and act as an edge for the bees to hang their comb. You may also use a 55 gallon drum cut longitudinally. You can also use hollowed out logs with top bars placed inside.CAG NET where Green Berets and other subject matter experts (SME's) hang out. Ask questions and get involved in the conversation. AL
Green Beret moderated forum for only $1 a month!Fermented foods have been around forever. When our European ancestors came to These United States, the brought with them foods and techniques that were time tested for survival. The process of fermenting foods adds beneficial enzymes, vitamins B and C not to mention the microbes that keep our intestinal health it top shape. The bacteria themselves help provide vitamins while living inside your intestinal tract. Think about it, opening a jar of kraut in the dead of winter is the perfect immune system booster. [gallery size="medium" ids="2063,2064,2066"] Making kraut is ridiculously easy. You will need some cabbage obviously and something to ferment it in. We use an old 4 gallon crock that we bought at the antique store for $25. We have also used the one gallon sized glass pickle jars. Some people simply ferment it in the quart or pint jar they plan to keep it in. That's how my wife did her half of this years cabbage. Everyone in my family likes plain ol' kraut, I like to spice it up a bit with some jalapeños, garlic, caraway seed, etc. In this batch I made a few quarts of different types. Garlic and smoked paprika, mmm. Anyway, you will also need some salt. [caption id="attachment_2065" align="alignright" width="300"] You can also ferment in the smaller jars. Keep them in a shallow pan to collect any dripping that may occur during fermentation.[/caption] Simply shred the cabbage to your desired consistency. We just run it through the food processor. Then spread it out in an LEM food grade tote. Sprinkle just a little salt, then add another 1-2 inch layer and sprinkle a little more salt. Keep doing this 'till you run out of cabbage. Then, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes as the salt draws the juice out of it. Next, cram it in whatever container you are using. Again, I use a crock or glass jars and I avoid plastic and most certainly metals. Any reactions or leaching will give the kraut off flavors or worse ruin it. When I say cram, I mean cram. I use my fists to compress the cabbage as tightly as possible into the crock. My wife uses a tamper made from a piece of Delrin cutting board attached to a dowel to compress it into the jars. If you have done it right, all the cabbage is tightly compacted and there will be enough juice to provide a half inch over the cabbage. If not, no worries. Just add 2 tablespoons of non iodized salt (pickling, Kosher, sea salt) to one quart of distilled water. We use distilled water so the chlorination of our tap water doesn't kill the natural bacteria need for fermentation. Add enough of the brine to cover the cabbage and compress it again. This type of fermentation is anaerobic so we want to get out any air bubbles.
Learn and prep with Green Berets!You will need to keep the cabbage completely submerged in the brine juice, this prevents it from making contact with the air. I use a dinner plate that is nearly the same diameter as the inside of my crock. I then place a 1 gallon pickle jar filled with water, about ten lbs total, on top of it to keep the cabbage pushed down below the liquid. I then cover it with a plastic bag or cheese cloth and let it sit for about a week. Then I will begin to skim any funk off the top. This is completely normal and harmless. If during the course of the next few weeks the liquid level gets too low, I add more brine solution. Let it sit another week and taste test it. Keep skimming of the krud of needed. When it is to your liking you can either put it in the cellar or fridge, or can it in jars. I do both. Some for now and some for later. If I had a cellar I wouldn't bother with canning it and I don't have enough room in my fridge to keep the 6 gallons we made, so in the jars it goes. Just keep in mind that canning it kills the probiotics. To can it, warm it up in a skillet if you want to do a hot pack, cram it into the jars with enough juice to cover it and leave 1/2 inch of space to the top. For cold pack, forego the skillet and just pack the jars the same way. Put on the lids and process in a water bath for 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts. Add ten minutes for Cold (raw) pack. You don't have to be a farmer or homesteader to do this. pick up a couple heads of cabbage from your local farmers market and give it a whirl. These are skills that should be learned now, not when you need them to survive. If you are an apartment dweller or live in a subdivision but just don't want the responsibility of a garden, this is a great way to make yourself more appealing to someone you may want to bug out to. Learning these types of skills will make you a valuable asset.
Green Beret moderated forum for only $1 a month!Within the hive are the frames. There are also several designs. I prefer Walter T. Kelly's "N" frame style. They are slotted on the top, sides and bottom. This allows me to simply drop foundation into the frame. Foundation is a thin layer of wax that has been ran through a device that imprints a honeycomb pattern into it. It may or may not contain vertical wires imbedded into the foundation for added strength. The bees simply follow the pattern and draw out the comb. Other designs are more complicated and require more effort, so I stick to the N type frames. [caption id="attachment_1922" align="alignright" width="300"] Components of an "N Type" frame for a deep hive body. Top, left and right end bars, bottom bar and wired foundation.[/caption] The base of the hive is called the bottom board. I have one that I made but I prefer the screened bottom boards from Kelly's Bees. It has a slot for the screen which prevents critters from getting inside and a slot for a debris board so I can look for varroa mites and small hive beetles. On a new hive, I recommend an entrance reducer. It is a small piece of wood with a 3 inch cutout that reduces the entrance to the hive so the guard bees can effectively fight off robbers (thieving bees from another hive) and other threats. I also recommend feeding them sugar syrup and pollen patties to get them off to a good start. Now, to assembly of the hive. You will need some wood glue, a hammer, a knife and all the parts. All my parts come from Kelly Beekeeping in Clarkson, Ky and they do a fine job predrilling the holes and cutting the box joints for the hive bodies and supers. The N type frames all fit snugly together as well. 1. Pre-assemble everything to ensure all parts fit together properly and nothing is missing. If needed, trim up any pieces that are slightly oversized with the knife. You should have the following items. From the bottom up.
Join the Crisis Application Group!This is the minimum required to get started for $114 or you can order a kit and foundation for $102. You will eventually need a super with frames and foundation. A Medium super with frames and foundation will run you about $55. The total for everything in the photo, including the smoker, hive tool and bee feeder is about $185. My first package of bees were $140. At current honey prices ($6.50 per lb) the 33 pounds I have harvested from one hive was worth $214. I harvested 35 lbs last year. They have paid for themselves and I was able to split a hive and catch a swarm to create 2 additional hives. With 4 hives, I should harvest about 120 lbs or nearly $800 worth of honey next year. What's better is knowing I have a sustainable source of sweetness. Now, back to hive assembly. 2. Once you are happy all the pieces are there and fit together, put a thin layer of wood glue on the hive body joints and put them together with the 2 1/8th inch 14 gauge nails through the pre drilled holes. 3. Install the L-shaped frame rests along the rabbeted edge of the hive body with 11/16ths brads. These are optional but over time scraping propolis from the wood will wear out the hive body. 4. Put a thin layer of wood glue on all mating surfaces of the N type frame and fit the together. There are four parts, the slotted top bar, 2 grooved end bars and the grooved bottom bar. Place a 1 inch nail through the thick part of the bottom bar into the grooved end bars. Next place a 1 1/8 inch nail through the grooved end bars and into the top bar. Insert the foundation and secure through the predrilled holes with a support pin. (bobby pins will also work) 5. Place all the frames inside the hive body. 6. Follow the same procedure to assemble the supers and place the frames inside. 7. Place the screened bottom board on a sturdy base about a foot off the ground. I use small pallets with bricks underneath them. 8. Place the hive body on top of the bottom board and align the edges. Place the super on top of the hive body. 9. Place the inner cover on top of the super and the top (outer) cover on top of that. 10. Order 3lbs of bees and a mated queen and install into the hive or catch a swarm and install it. [gallery size="medium" ids="1924,1926,1923"] Now that you have a better understanding of the basic parts of a beehive, it should take some of the anxiety out of getting your first beehive. I don't have a fancy bee suit. When I go to raid the bees, I wear an old Army flight suit (that I also wore on raids overseas), latex exam gloves and a mosquito headnet. The only specialty item I have is the smoker. Half the time I don't use any of it, it just depends on how moody the girls are. [gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="1928,1927"] Forum and ask questions. [caption id="attachment_981" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training[/caption]
Join the Crisis Application Group!Cabbage-Everyone is familiar with cabbage. There are early producing varieties and late varieties. Smooth head varieties and Savoyed varieties. Most varieties can withstand temperatures in the teens. Harvest when the tight outer leaves of the main head begin to curl back on themselves. Cabbage can be stored in the same hole it was dug from by placing it “head” first into the ground with the roots sticking up during the cold moths. Just dig it out when needed. Obviously it can be stored in the crisper in the bottom of the fridge. You can also make it into kraut and can it. If you want to save seed, either plant an early maturing variety in early spring and when you harvest the head, cut an “x” into the stalk and it will send up shoots and they will flower. Technically it is a biennial and means it takes two seasons to make seed. I have left heads on and allowed them to go to seed the next year. You can also harvest in late fall, remove the roots and store them in damp sawdust. Replant the roots in spring and allow to send up shoots that will flower and set seed. Broccoli- There are varieties that set one nice spear and sprouting varieties grow that multiple florets that can be cut continuously. Even varieties that have one big spear will send up shoots and create several more smaller spears. Broccoli fairs well in 60 degree weather but can tolerate frost if it hasn't created a spear. Often cold weather makes them sweeter. If the spears get frost on them, they will likely rot. Harvest the spears while the little buds are all tightly together. It doesn't take long before they spread out and grow stems with pretty yellow flowers all over them. Store at 32 degrees for up to 2 weeks or blanch and freeze it. Make sure you soak it it cold water to encourage the caterpillars to come out of hiding. There's nothing like some surprise protein in your broccoli and cheese.
Green Beret moderated forum for only $1 a month!Save seed by allowing the flowers to grow and set seed after you have harvested the main spear. Cauliflower- There are several varieties, some yellow, white, some that are crossed with broccoli and create mesmerizing patterns (Veronica). Timing is crucial with cauliflower, heads, aka curds, will not form in hot dry weather. Harvest when curds are tight. You may need to tie up the larger outer leaves around the curds to blanch them. Store at 32 degrees for up to 2 weeks or add them to relish recipes and can them. Allow spring plants to flower and set seed. Collards/Kale- I am particularly fond of Siberian Red Kale. I like to add it to fresh from the garden salads. Bold are cold hardy but choose collards for warmer temperatures. Kale is frost tolerant and can withstand a little drought. Both can usually overwinter. Harvest when leaves get big as desired. Store in the fridge. I like to cut it up and run it through the salad spinner and place in plastic bags for up to a week or more. You can make it last longer in the fall if you cut out the heart with the plant and store in a plastic bag. To save seed, allow the plant to mature, grow flowers and set seed. Kohlrabi- This is an interesting plant. You can eat the leaves (as with all the cole crops, yes, broccoli leaves are good) as well as the swollen stem of the plant. It kinda looks like an above ground turnip with cabbage like leaves. There are white, red and purple varieties. It prefers cooler temperatures. Harvest the leaves and/or the bulbous stem when it is 3-5 inches in diameter. Don't let it get too big or it will get a woody texture. Store in the fridge for a couple weeks. Allow it to grow flowers and set seeds to harvest seeds for the next year. Turnips/Mustard/Rutabagas- There are leaf producing turnips (7 Top) and root producing turnips (Purple Top). Leaves can be eaten from either. Mustard is is a leaf crop (unless you harvest the seed for ground mustard). Rutabagas look a lot like turnips but taste more sweet with a yellow flesh and store well. Harvest after a couple hard frosts. Store in the fridge for a couple weeks. Brussels Sprouts- Last but not least, every kids favorite, baby cabbage heads. Grow just like fall crop cabbage. Plant in summer and as the tiny cabbages take shape, cut the leaf stalks away. The tiny cabbages will start out at the base and make their way up. To encourage more uniform size of each sprout, cut of the top of the plant. Allow them to get hit with a frost for an even more flavorful treat. Harvest a few at a time or wait for them all. Like the others, store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Let them overwinter (they probably wont make it in northern climates) and they will produce seed the next year. You may can all of these crops but there's nothing like the fresh version. They can also be frozen with differing results. The number one pest for most of the brassicas is the cabbage looper. Moths lay their eggs and the caterpillars will devastate your crop before you know it. I recommend spraying with Bacillus Thuringiensis, aka BT. It is a bacteria that kills the caterpillars. Your climate may be different so adjust accordingly. If you plan to save seeds it is imperative that you don't use hybrid varieties and that you separate them by a half mile or take other common measures to prevent cross-pollination. If you live next to a canola field, good luck, rape is in the same family. The seeds are in slender pods a few inches long and look like, yep, you guessed it, mustard seed. Some are black, brown, yellow and variations in between. Don't take all these different varieties of crops for granted. They are easy to grow and are high in vitamin C and other nutrients. They are also an excellent way to use your garden over the winter instead of letting it sit fallow. Now, go grow some cole crops. [caption id="attachment_474" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Food so real its righteous![/caption]
Green Beret moderated forum for only $1 a month!So what is someone to do? How does one hedge against this current system that will likely one day fail, but not before food prices skyrocket out of control? Many folks seek out small local farms such as ours, to support and get their food from. But ultimately, you have to take some matters into your own hands and grow some of your own food. Naturally the first thing one may think of is planting a garden. Sadly, in America this is no longer normal and many communities actually have ordinances against tilling up a lawn to plant a garden. Most subdivisions were not designed with vegetable gardens in mind with shaded and sloping lots not to mention the minimal amount of soil available to plant in. But you should not allow these obstacles to keep you from your goal of self sufficiency.
Join the Crisis Application Group!So what can you do? First of all, if you don't live in a neighborhood that deprives you of your right to garden your own land, I strongly recommend getting a copy of the book, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. This was my number one resource when I first started gardening. This method uses raised beds, does not require the uses of a tiller and is great for sloping ground. Rather than planting directly into your soil, which is likely very deficient, vegetables are planted into a soil mix of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. The book spells it all out in a very simple and easy to understand verbiage. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="125"] Square Foot Gardening[/caption] Read the rest of this article Here. [caption id="attachment_94" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Food so real its righteous![/caption]
People often forget the turkey as a viable meat source. Most tend to think of chickens. There are several good reasons for it. Turkeys are loud. Brakes squeaking can get toms to gobble. Hens are always chirping. When toms strut they make a drumming noise. Like a rooster crowing in the subdivision, these noises sometimes don't go over too well with neighbors, home owners association and or local ordinances. They don't lay eggs all year round which makes them more
Turkeys, The forgotten poultry. People often forget the turkey as a viable meat source. Most tend to think of chickens. There are several good reasons for it. Turkeys are loud. Brakes squeaking can get toms to gobble. Hens are always chirping. When toms strut they make a drumming noise. Like a rooster crowing in the subdivision, these noises sometimes don't go over too well with neighbors, home owners association and or local ordinances. They don't lay eggs all year round which makes them more
of a meat bird. Most people keep chickens just for eggs so that puts the turkey at a disadvantage when comparing the two. Turkey a eggs are quite large and taste like a chicken egg.
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Baby turkeys are called poults. Unlike the chicken's 21 day incubation period, the turkey requires 28 days. Like chickens they must be kept warm in a brooder until they can regulate their own body heat. You'll want to have the broader set up and prepared before receiving your poults. Gradually lower the heat at ground level from 90 degrees by 5 degrees per week. If it's over 75 degrees outside, they can go out once they are a month and a half old. You will need to have a high protein feed ready for them, something in the 20% and higher range. Like all livestock, water 24/7 is a must. You'll need one waterer per 25 birds. This is for space not volume. So select a waterer adequate for their needs or refill it as often needed. [caption id="attachment_861" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Courtesy of mother earth news[/caption] The breed you have chosen will determine the length of time until harvest. The broad breasted bronze or white will take about 6 months to reach 20-25 lbs. A lot longer than a chicken but several times the weight. This breed also has the largest amount of breast meat, the kind we are used to. Heritage birds may never reach that weight and wild ones take much longer. A broad breasted bronze will have 3-4 times the breast meat than even the biggest wild turkey. Harvest just like chickens.
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We have a few different breeds and some mutts. My favorite is the midget white. It's a smaller bird with a large breast. The breed allows us to cook an entire bird without having Thanksgiving style leftovers for weeks. This can be an important consideration for preppers and those off the grid folks where refrigerator space and electricity are finite. Once they're grown they are very hardy. Standard housing as used for chickens may need some slight adjustment to accommodate the larger size of turkeys. They are also quite amazing to watch with Jakes vying for position and toms strutting and drumming in the pasture. Now, go get your gobble on.
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