Tag Archives: Family Time

Fall Fishing Trip

Sharing some pictures today of a fall fishing trip we did.  The kids love to go fishing and watch wildlife.

Campfires are not allowed at this lake.  However you can have a fire in the provided charcoal grills.  So we built a small wood fire in the grill hoping the smoke would help keep pesky flies and mosqitoes away from our wonderful location.

Some of the kids enjoyed watching nature from the comfort of the hammock.  It has a mosquito net and really is a great invention.

The kids caught a few small bluegill and had a lot of fun.

Every now and then the kids would add another small stick to our mini campfire and it worked out perfectly.

The best fun was had just relaxing and taking in the beauty of the lake, trees, wildlife, sky and the occasional boats that passed by.

One of the boys has a set of binoculars and he enjoyed watching blue herrons, ducks, geese on the lake,  lizards (they caught the lizzard and played with it for a while), as well as falcons and other birds in the trees.

It was a great day appreciating all the wonderful things Father God has created for us to see his amazing handiwork.

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Campfire Steak with Salad and Berries

Campfire Steak with Salad and Berries.

This delicious simple meal is packed with tons of flavor and nutrients.

My son created a campfire in the backyard, and he asked if he could cook dinner on it.

He took a lot of time to gather sticks, split some of the larger pieces to make his firewood.  He built a fire in a small hole in the ground and surrounded it with rocks for his fire pit.   Then he borrowed the metal grate from our charcoal grill and placed it over the fire and rocks to have a surface to cook on.

He fed the fire with more wood and got a really nice hot fire going.

Then he waited for the flames to die down a bit before putting food on the metal grate over his fire.   He cooked steak and chicken.  I will post another story about what we made with the campfire chicken soon.

There is an incredible flavor difference cooking over an open wood fire verses other methods of cooking.  You just can’t get this flavor using a charcoal or gas grill or from cooking on a stove in the house.  You just can’t recreate this amazing flavor without the campfire.

Campfire Steak with Salad and Berries

Ingredients:

Sirloin Steak – cooked outdoors over an open wood fire

Romaine Lettuce – torn

Carrots – shredded

Mushrooms – chopped

Pecans – broken into several pieces

Sunflower Seeds

Cheddar Cheese – shredded

Italian Vinaigrette Dressing

Raspberries

Blueberries

 

Cook the steak over the campfire until desired doneness.  Then remove it from the heat and put it on a plate and let it rest for 10 minutes.  You can cover it with a lid or foil while it rests if desired.

Then using a serrated kitchen knife, slice the steak into desired pieces.   Our steak sliced easily, and was juicy and tender inside.  The outside was smoky and resembled almost a bacon flavor. Inside was juicy and a delicious beef flavor.

Mix the salad and top it with Italian Vinaigrette.

Then rinse the berries with water, pat dry, and add them to the plate too.

The salad and fruit pared great with the steak.  This meal was amazing and bursting with flavors.

Knowing the effort my son put into making his campfire and cooking the meat for us made this meal even more special.

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Garden 2017 Update June

 

This is part of my Garden 2017 series of posts.  You can see the earlier posts at:

Garden 2017 Update February Through May

Garden 2017 Aquaponics

Garden 2017 A New Beginning

 

June 2017

After tons of rain, the garden (plants and weeds) is growing like CRAZY!  The plants put on tons of growth and blossoms.  Some flowers are missing their petals and are leaning over due to too much rain.

However, many of the garden plants are finally producing fruits and vegetables!

We have two garden beds, plus a few planters growing produce and flowers. Garden Bed A is 12 x 16. We planted it with the square foot method of intense planting. It grew like crazy with all the rain. We need to tweak how we plant this garden bed next year. Though I am thankful for the abundance, we are not able to de-weed it at this stage and it looks like a mess.

Garden Bed A: Harvesting Green Beans!

The garden has been invaded by Japanese Beetle Bugs. They are quickly devouring the bean leaves.

The cucumbers have taken over the lavender. The lavender is in bloom too.

Harvesting cucumbers and green beans.

Bountiful harvest of green and yellow beans.

Dalia starting to bloom.

We often remove old blooms from petunias and they continue to produce beautiful flowers with bright colors.

Carrot tops are growing nicely.

We have had an abundance of leaf lettuce.  We had a lot of rain and the lettuce seemed to really appreciate it.

Marigolds are in bloom.

Removing dead blooms from the geraniums will encourage new blooms.

Hanging basket with leaf lettuce.

This basked of lettuce has produced several harvests already.

Heirloom tomato plants.

I started several more heirloom tomato plants in milk jugs.  Milk jugs are like mini greenhouses and it is a great way to start seedlings.

Petunias in barrel planters.

Garden Bed A: Small spinach patch is going to seed.

The spinach has produced an abundance and I have harvested it daily for several months.

Sweet potato vines and romaine lettuce growing in the aquaponics barrel. The romaine lettuce is about to go to seed.  It has produced a lot of lettuce since we transplanted them months ago from lettuce we had already used during the winter and regrew.  Lettuce is amazing!

Potato Bins are just about finished growing.  Two have stopped sending out new plants, but this one still has new growth emerging.  We can’t wait to open up these bins and see how they produced under all that straw and dirt. Hopefully we will have a nice potato harvest.

Garden Bed B

Garden bed B gets more shade than garden bed A.  We built this one because we ran out of room in the first one for plants that like to spread out. In this one we planted different kinds of squash and watermelon, sweet potatoes, and a second planting of radish, and a few flowers and sunflowers to attract pollinators and to enjoy the flowers.  So far there is nothing to harvest in this bed yet, but it is producing a lot of vines and leaves and blooms.

The cucumbers from Garden bed A are growing past the garden now.  They are traveling out into the yard and growing the nicest cucumbers.  They might think the garden bed is too crowded!

Though our garden project this year is small, the garden beds are producing some wonderful foods for our family.

I am thankful for these harvests.  Summer harvests taste delicious and have so much more flavor than food from the store.  I enjoy the beautiful flowers too and all of the variety of insects they attract that help pollinate the plants. This process of a summer garden is even more special when family spends time together planting the food, then watching it grow, and then brings in the harvest together.  Enjoying time together is the best part!

Be blessed!

Please share.

Learning To Draw By The Sea

The ocean is an amazing thing.   Did you know water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface?  Scientists claim they have only explored 5% of the ocean so far.  That leaves a whole lot of mystery about this beautiful habitat that is so vital to the world in so many ways.  I would encourage everyone to visit the ocean at least once if they get the opportunity. Your senses will be overwhelmed and rejuvenated by the experience.

It is amazing to listening to the roar of the waves, get your feet wet or go for a swim, wait and watch for fish or dolphins to breach the surface, to observe birds swooping down to catch a fish, or sighting an occasional fishing boat out to sea.  The ocean is always changing and you could spend hours watching it.

Our family loves to visit the ocean!  We are usually blessed to take a day drive and visit the sea a couple of times a year.  Sometimes we drive several hours just to get out and walk the beach and splash in the waves for two hours and then get back in the vehicle and drive several more hours back home. Depending on which beach we visit, it takes us about 4 hours to get to the closest one.  It is a long ways to drive, but it is free to use the public beaches. If we pack a cooler with food and water, then the only cost involved is the fuel to drive there.  With a large family, getting to do something fun for FREE is a big deal.

On a few occasions, we have been blessed with the opportunity to spend the night instead of driving there and back all in one day.  Those overnight experiences by the sea have been exceptional.  It is hard to describe the amazing way you feel when you wake up to the ocean, and get up with the sun rise, spend the day in the salty air, then get to observe the sunset, and listen to the waves in the dark of night as the stars twinkle overhead.  It is wonderful!

Learning To Draw By The Sea.

We recently had the opportunity to stay overnight on a visit to the ocean. We spent the morning and evening playing on the beach, but in the heat of the day, we needed something else to do to avoid getting a serious sunburn.   We did not bring electronic games or computers that are part of our normal homeschooling day.  Instead, we played board games like chess, put together fun puzzles, and spent part of our time learning to draw with the art kits we recently made.

It was so nice to have our portable DIY Art Kits.  Be sure to check the story with information on how to make one for your family.

The kits were small enough to go just about anywhere with us, yet they were big enough to hold just about everything we needed.

For some reason that I can’t remember, I didn’t get pictures of the kids drawing.  I guess I must have been so excited about the view, and the opportunity to sit there and draw, that I failed to get up and take pictures of what the others were making too.

For this project, I used the watercolor pencils.  I had hoped to make a project with paints too, but I didn’t have time to accomplish both on this trip.  My older son chose to use charcoal pencils from his kit, and the younger kids used crayons.  I pulled out a small table onto the porch to hold my drawing pad and pencils.

It was a bit windy on this day.  I separated the pencils colors that I wanted to use from the case holding the pencils.  I set them beside my drawing pad, however the wind kept blowing them off and I was constantly having to get up and down to catch a pencil before it rolled off the porch.  I realized the next time I take this art kit on a trip, I will need to bring something better to hold the colors I am using.  Perhaps something as simple as a rubber band or a small tray with sides would have solved my problem.

From the porch where I sat, I could see a long ways in the distance across the ocean and the beach up and down the coast.  To the front of me was ocean as far as I could see, and to the left was a small fishing vessel that soon disappeared while I was drawing.  I tried to capture both in my drawing.  The waves were the most difficult part to draw because they kept moving. Drawing the ocean wasn’t easy because even though it appears the same, in reality each and every moment it keeps changing.

Learning to draw by the sea was fun and it is an experience our family will never forget.

“And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”  Genesis 1:10

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Campfire Cooking with Kids

Campfire Cooking With Kids

The kids are learning to cook over a campfire.  This has been an ongoing learning adventure for several months now.   We have tried several different methods for starting fires, making our own camp stoves, as well as different ways of making the campfire pit.

After trying several different arrangements, we came up with one we like the most and have kept for several months now. We use it once or twice a week as the weather and time permits.  We really enjoy afternoons and evenings around the campfire.

We started off with simple learning techniques like where to build a fire safely, how to start a fire (matches, lighter, flint, feroconiom rod), how to use different tinders (wood chips, small sticks, dead leaves, tree bark, dead grass and dry plants, cotton balls, cordage, clothing, etc) to get the fire going strong, locating where to gather wood safely, and learn how to split wood into small sizes for burning,  etc.

We built fire starter kits for the kids to keep and learn to use.  This has been a wonderful resource.  Our first kits were made with a salvaged bottle for storing, a few types of tinder, matches, and a feroconium rod and striker.  When they used up all the stuff in their first kits, we built new kits that include more of the first, but also added in a lighter, additional versions of strikers, fatwood, etc.  By far my son’s favorite method is starting a fire with his striker and a cotton ball.  We hope to build a bow drill and learn that method soon.

Once they mastered the art of starting a fire, we learned how to build a firepit.  Over time we built a few different arrangements of campfire pits.   This whole process has been a great learning experience for the kids and a fun way to spend family time together.

The current campfire pit version we are using is our favorite so far.  We found some old bricks someone had left behind from a construction project.  These are not the usual bricks you would want to build an outdoor kitchen with, but we are using what we have on hand and getting by with them for now.   We dug an “L” shaped hole in the ground and built a loose brick wall around the back side of the hole.  The back wall is tall, and the sides come part way around, then we have a short wall of bricks across the front as a fire stop and safety zone.  Safety is very important to keep in mind when you have an outdoor fire.

We also found some metal and an old grate someone had thrown away and used them as cooking surfaces by connecting them into the loose brick system above the fire to give us more ways we can cook food.   We also put a separate small wall about half way at the back.  This additional wall was needed to help support the grill top on one side and the metal bars on the other side and it also allows us to use either 1 side of the fire or both sides for cooking so we can make a bigger or smaller fire as desired.

Using a brick or rock wall on one side of your fire makes a lot of sense.  The bricks make a nice windbreak and help to retain the heat from the fire, and then help reflect the heat back towards the people sitting around the fire.   I plan to upgrade the pit with some special tiles for baking bread and pizzas on one side soon.  I found a local store that carries the fire tiles for break baking.  I am very excited about baking nice breads over the campfire. Maybe someday I can make a real outdoor pizza oven too.

The arrangement is large enough that we can choose to cook on the grill, the metal bars, flat rocks or bricks, or over the open fire and coals with roasting sticks or pans.  So we can cook up high or down low with several options as needed.  We made the pit so we can have a fire on one half, or just move hot coals over on one half while a hotter fire burns on the other half, or use the whole entire thing in a bigger campfire if desired.  With 8 people in the family, this arrangement gives us all enough room to gather in front of the fire and benefit from the heat being reflected back in our direction.

We let the fire die down and put it out before going into the house.  The next morning when the pit is nice and cool, the kids remove the ashes from their fire and sprinkle them on the location we plan to build our garden. The ashes will provide wonderful nutrients already broken down and released from the organic matter they were bound in for our plants to use.  We learned this trick many years ago when we used to heat our home with wood.

His New Wrought Iron Pan

Our 12 year old loves cooking on the campfire and would truly cook on it every day if he could.  He is the reason we got into the habit of cooking outside weekly.  He wants to try new things and master various skills.  After he gets his fire going, and his coals nice and hot, he usually cooks tea and different kinds of soups with his own stainless steel pot.   He has made potato soup, rice, chili, cheesy potato bacon soup, chicken noodle soup, and Ramon noodles.

He recently bought is own wrought iron skillet to expand his cuisine options. To start with he learned how to oil and season his new pan and care for it properly.  He also has his own knife and cutting board so he is ready to make lots of different things.  He is getting great practice and is learning to cook with his new skillet over the open fire.

This day we were cooking turkey burgers, beef hotdogs, sliced potatoes in foil packets, and he was making his own Cowboy BBQ Beans in his new iron skillet.

He had placed a brick over some coals next to the fire to hold his pan level while it cooked.  It took them no time at all to come to a rolling boil.  He had to pull his beans off the fire a few times and stir them to prevent them from sticking and burning in the pan.  His beans turned out very nice, the sugars caramelized and the beans had a hint of smoke flavor of the fire.

Almost everything was done cooking at the same time.  That is one of the blessings to having a large working space in this campfire with various spots to set the different foods we were cooking.

When his food was done, he combined his hotdog with his bbq beans for his own version of “beenie weenies”.   This was new for him as I haven’t fed the kids beenie weenies before, and he was excited to try them.

He was very pleased with how his “cowboy meal” turned out and thought he could handle making and eating this out on the open range bringing in the cows or up the side of a mountain while on a hike someday.  I hope to teach him to make either biscuits or bannock (old fashion cowboy or Indian bread) and chop up some wild greens to go with his meal next time.  He found some wild garlic growing in the yard that was already seven inches tall in February.  The plant looks like fresh chives and has a small bulb at the bottom when you pull it out of the ground.  He brushed the dirt off and tried it fresh.  It was spicy!  We also found a couple of violets in bloom in the front yard.  Soon the dandelions will set on some nice leaves for making a raw salad base or to use as a sauted spinach.  The pine trees are also budding and the baby pine buds are nutty and delicious and the needles make a nutritious tea.  We have a book he will be using this spring to locate various wild edibles that he can include to improve the nutrients in a meal such as this.

I am very proud of this young man’s achievements.  He gets an idea, puts his mind to it, and is not afraid to work toward his goal and see it through.  He is currently making a homemade longbow.  He has found the branch of wood, removed the bark, and carved it into the shape he desired.  He has yet to soak the wood and increase the arch slightly and locate the cordage he will be using.  I have no doubt he will reach his new goal.

Learning to cook over a campfire is a fun experience.  The skills learned and self confidence gained will benefit kids the rest of their life.

Please share.

Sunset At The Beach

Have you ever watched the setting of the sun at the beach?

It is such a beautiful site.

We spent a November evening on a North Carolina beach watching the sun go down.

The Fall air was cool and crisp, but we didn’t let that hinder our joy.

There is something very special and exciting about being at the water’s edge.

The colors in the sky were beautiful!

The smell of the ocean and the sensation of breathing in the salty air is a completely different experience than our day to day experience.  If feels energizing, like it is renewing something inside the body and the mind.

I could watch the ocean and sky for hours and never get tired of the view.

The sand feels amazing and was cool to the touch.  We collected some seashells along the beach.

We saw a flock of pelicans flying above us.

Even though it was chilly, we decided to get our feet wet.

We tried to catch the waves coming into the shore.

The waves and the pull of the under tow current were quite powerful and knocked us off our feet several times.

One fella didn’t want to get wet.  He said it was too cold.

But the rest of the group was eager to get wet from head to toe even though we only agreed to get our “feet” wet.

Even though the water was cold and the current was strong, I enjoyed getting my feet in the water too.  The waves kept a constant rhythm with perfect timing.

It felt so peaceful.

We enjoyed an evening walk on the beach and walked to a fishing peer not far from where we played.

The sun set was stunning behind the peer.

It gave the appearance of a glowing fire off in the distance.

The fishing peer went out so far and then was blocked at the end.  It seemed as if the peer would have gone further, but perhaps had been lost in a storm.

Even though a major hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, had come through days earlier,  the rest of the peer was still in good standing and many folks were using it for fishing and enjoying the evening.

I loved the contrast of the peer and the evening sky and ocean waves.

You could sense the determination of this peer to withstand whatever the elements of nature could beat it with.

The structure seemed to rebel against the constant waves, the salty air, and the gusts of wind.

The setting sun was gorgeous!  It peered through the dark clouds sandwiched between the sky and the water.

This experience reminds us of what it might of been like at the beginning. The bible talks about the beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:1-10

Looking away from the sun, in the opposite direction, the sky and the water seemed to be a reflection of each other, a matching blue that seemed to go on forever.

But looking towards the sunset, the colors were vibrant and seemed layered like a rainbow that had been deconstructed.


Sitting above the waves, felts as if we were sitting on them.   Resting on the benches of the peer was a special experience. 

The peer puts you out on the water, away from the shore.

Though you are sitting still, everything around you is in motion and has a rhythm of it’s own.  Everything is moving with a beat, the water, the sky, the salty air on your face, and the sound it all makes has a nourishing rhythm that feeds the soul.

All your senses are enhanced and focused on the beat, the soothing sound of the moving water and the amazing colors of the sky.


After we watched the sun set, we walked up the beach a little bit further for some food.  Later we came back outside to watch the beach in the darkness.

We sat on the steps of a small gazebo looking out over the water.  It was so peaceful.

A long way out, there was a small twinkle of light from ships on the water. 

We could also see the lights of the fishing peer reflect on the water.

But otherwise, we could no longer depend on our eyes to understand our environment.  We could not see the sky, and we could not see the water, we could only sense they were still there in the darkness.

Instead of using our eyes, we tuned our ears to the sounds of the night.  All we could hear was the familiar sound of the waves hitting the beach in a soothing rhythm.  It was peaceful.

The older kids and I wanted to stay outside all night, but the younger kids and daddy were getting sleepy, so it was time to head inside.  Bedtime seemed to come too quickly, yet we welcomed the end of this day feeling relaxed and renewed.

We definitely want to experience the sun setting on the beach again soon.

Please share.

Boys and Arrows

 

 

 

Life Skills & Survival Skills 

As part of our Thanksgiving Unit Study, we studied some of the survival skills the settlers knew, or learned by trial and error.

Here are some of the life and survival skills we looked at:

Ability to adapt to a new environment.
Ability to find and use water.
Ability to hunt for food, both vegetation and animal.
Ability to raise food.
Ability to store food.
Ability to cook food.
Ability to make shelter that provides safety in various weather conditions.
Ability to medically treat accidents and illnesses and survive them.
Ability to defend themselves against predators.
Ability to defend themselves against enemies.

Some of these skills they learned in the previous land they came from.  They brought a limited amount of basic tools with them on their journey. They were skilled at using these tools.  But they faced new challenges in the new land, and needed to learn some special skills to survive there.   Help came from their neighbors, the Native American Indians, who taught them many new skills or how to adapt the skills they had, to survive in the new climate and land they now lived.  This opportunity and ability to learn survival skills is a big part of the story of Thanksgiving and the history of our great country.   So this season, it is a perfect time of year for children to see and learn to use skills that were a part of our history, and bring the experience alive for them.

To be honest, these are all basic skills we still need today.  Even though we depend mostly on the grocery system for our food, and construction workers for our shelters, and doctors for our illnesses, and the military and police for our protection, to some degree we still need to learn a lot of these skills ourself.

If a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, ice storm, power outage, quarantine, act of terror, or some other horrible event happened and interfered with our food delivery system, how would your family survive?  How would you find food?  How would you find water?  How would you take care of yourself and your loved ones in a survival situation?

 

Our modern food system has only been on the scene for a short time, about 50 to 100 years, and even less for some of our modern food conveniences.  It is important to help your children understand what was it like to get their food, including water, grains, produce, milk, salt, and meat 100 years ago, 300 years ago, and even 1000 years ago.

 

In case of emergencies, it is wise to have at least a three day survival ration set aside in your home.  A survival ration would include basic food and supplies, and you should have a longer plan incase the event lasted longer than three days.   Many good sources recommend a four to a six month supply.   In recent history (just the past few years) whole communities ( thousands of families) have had to survive without power during ice storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes, deal with contaminated water during floods and hurricanes, and lack of basic resources.  Could your family survive this winter if the power went out for a week, and the roads were frozen over making it unsafe to drive, and the stores were closed because there was no power and no customers?

Now I am not saying you would have to hunt for meat during that three days or week.  However if the problem lasted longer, in the bitter cold of winter, a fresh deer could mean the difference of nourishment and going hungry in some situations.  But I am saying that learning basic survival skills is a good thing to do.  It helps you to have a “plan B” if normal daily life should get a “hic-up” in it and normal life became not normal for a few days.

This may sound ridiculous to folks who have only lived in the city, never experienced power outages, and had stores with in easy access all their life.  But if you have ever lived in a true rural situation, where it took several miles, maybe even an hours drive, to get to a grocery store, you would understand how life can be hard if you don’t have a modern system of grocery stores, refrigerators, freezers, electricity, and so on to help you survive.

You might be asking yourself, how in the world can I teach survival skills to my kids?  Well, cooking and self care skills during times of natural disaster, or economic collapse are not much different than the skills you need when you go camping.   Ask yourself these questions, what would you need to have and to know If you planned to go camping for a week?
Shelter and a way to keep warm and dry.
A way to get safe water.
A way to get nourishment for your body.
A way to treat an injury if one occurred.

Survival skills are important to have.  The last few generations don’t understand this, and very few have the skills needed to survive without modern conveniences if they had too.  Take the time to teach your children a few survival skills to help them get through a disastrous time in life if they had too.   You will need to judge for yourself when you think your children are ready to work with items such as fire, pocket knives, or other equipment that could be dangerous if used in correctly.   I will post links to several sites with good information and videos at the end of this article. 

 

 

How Leaning Life Skills and Survival Skills As A Child, Helped Me As An Adult:

 

I was privileged to have a lot of different experiences growing up.   When I say privileged it wasn’t because we had any money.  No, life was quite the opposite, we were poor.  But life was full of a lot of different situations, and I learned a lot of survival skills to help me get through this life.   Making opportunities out of tough experiences, to learn and grow through difficult situations, well I think that is a special privilege.   Going through these things and surviving made me a stronger person.

Here is my two cents on living through difficult times.   I see it as you have three choices:
1) You don’t survive
2) You survive, but you also break and become addicted to things to help you cope,
3) You cope and get stronger, and with God’s help, overcome the hard times to be a better person.

That is the choice I made as a young girl.  I made a decision around age 8 years old, that with God’s help, I was going to overcome every situation in life, and use it as a challenge to become smarter, stronger, and survive.

There have been times in my life where I was in a survival situation.   Having provisions set aside, and knowing basic skills such as how to start a fire and cook on it and keep warm, meant a huge difference in our comfort level.

Many times as a child and as an adult, I have survived in tornadoes and had to stay in cellars, basements, and storm shelters, with no power or water at times.

I have been in ice storms that left us with no power, no heat, no water, the roads were shut down, and the local stores were closed.  This has happened to me several times, and one of those times my husband was out of town and I was pregnant and had three young children.  No family to rely on, just pregnant me and the young kids.  Could have been a disaster, had it not been for a little know how, and a little preparation ahead of time.  That time, thankfully, we did have an emergency generator for our barn.  So the kids and I had to sleep ( I promise I did not sleep as I was to scared of spiders in the dark) on the ground, huddled together,  barely warmed by an emergency generator powering a little heat to the barn, and it gave me one outlet to use an electric skillet to make something warm to eat.

But other times, when I didn’t have such a luxury, I have cooked over an open fire, or on an outdoor grill ( be sure to have a full propane tank for the grill, even though its winter and you don’t plan to cook on it), and to keep warm we used either a fire (dangerous with young children) or a portable gas heater (can be dangerous from carbon monoxide, but when it is zero degrees outside, you have to weigh your options and your risks).    I have taken water from streams before and had to use it for necessities when we had no power to our well pump.  I have had to pull food from the pantry and cupboards to survive for a week, when there was no working stove and no open store available to get food.  I have prepared a fire outside to boil water or cook food.  Again, I just want to drive this point home, it is wise to always keep your gas grill or charcoal grill with plenty fuel on hand in case of an emergency power outage.

A great skill I learned as a child, how to raise and butcher meat, was carried into adulthood.  On our farm in Indiana, a big part of the fall season for us and most of our neighbors, was to harvest meat for the coming year.  We butchered meat ourselves and we also hired the local usda butcher to do our cows.  We had several of our cows butchered each fall and sold the extra meat we did not need for our family.  We had a great reputation and lots of orders for our beef.  

 

 

My husband, Mike, also hunted, especially over the Thanksgiving weekend, when those days were set aside special just for hunting.  Most of the men we knew hunted during this time of year.  Here is a picture of a deer he shot in the heart, and then gutted before taking it to the butcher to be processed for freezer storage.  The butcher would process the meat into 1 lb frozen packages for our freezer.  We would have several cuts of steaks made, ground meat, sausage, smoked sausage, and ham.  We would also later make our own jerky from some of the meat.  I would ask for the heart and liver to be put into 1lb packages also.  I would have some of the bones saved for making broth.


Mike has hunted in both Kansas and Indiana and always hunted with a rifle, a shotgun and a muzzle loader.  He used to harvest one to two deer a year.  He would have the local butcher process the meat into 1lb packages for the freezer.  We ate this meat once or twice a week all year long.  The ground meat made the best taco’s.  We had the whole deer ground except for the tenderloin we had cut into steaks and we had 4 rolls of deer summer sausage made each season too.  I would never let them add pork or lard to the mix.  Just straight deer.  Oh it was the best you have ever tasted, so lean and delicious.  We always took a plate of this to holiday dinners.

Here is a picture of deer summer sausage, honey comb, and bottles of our favorite flavors of Black Cherry and Tangerine Knudson Spritzers.

 

This is me around 20 years of age with my catch of fresh fish.  Fishing was another skill I learned as a young girl.   Wish I still looked 20, ha, ha.

 


Passing Life Skills On To This Generation:

Well it has been both easy and hard to teach some of these life skills to our children.  Our years on the farm till 2008, was a good start.  The kids learned to milk goats and cows, to raise beef cows, chickens, sheep and goats, for food, and how to help in the garden.  In the garden they learned to help till the soil, plant the seeds, weed, water, and harvest.   Three of the children were old enough to learn to mow the grass.  One son learned to help operate the tractor.  The older three rode in the cab of the tractor while baling fields of hay and while feeding bales of hay to cattle in the pasture.  The children learned to collect fresh eggs everyday, and what happens if you collect one from a spot you forgot to look in for a while, Pee-U!  They learned to feed and water the animals and give them hay each day.  They learned to help build and repair fence and pens too.

When they weren’t learning during chores, they were learning and practicing during play.  They learned to jump hay bales and play king of the mountain.  They played on their fort and swing set.  They practiced digging for China in the garden.  They loved to look for fishing worms and get them ready for dad to take everyone fishing.
They practiced casting their fishing rods in the driveway.  Look out!!  They rode their bikes up and down the drive way and surrounding hills.  They built ramps to ride their bikes on too.  They would throw a rope over a tree branch to swing on it or to climb the tree.  They rode the goats like a horse.  They chased chickens.  They would lay down in the sheep and goat pen and play with them.  They would run and race the baby cows in their pasture.  They stole mom’s ripe berries off the berry bushes before she could harvest them.  They even played with dad’s mower with supervision.  Dad let them race the mower, and do donuts in the driveway.  We also took them fishing in our pond when we had time to sit back for a while.  They all love to fish as much as I do.

 

Since moving to North Carolina, we have been able to fish several times at Lake Lure and a couple times at Orchard Lake Campground.   Mike has really wanted to go hunting, but we know no-one to let him go on their ground.   He misses it like crazy.   He has been to the local shooting range a few times to practice with his gun, and he has recently taken the oldest, James to teach him gun safety and practice hitting the target.

He has also been wanting to learn to shoot a bow and arrow.  It is a life long dream of Mike’s to hunt with a bow and arrow, though he always found the concept a bit intimidating in the past.  He hadn’t been around anyone to learn the skill as they used one, and from all his friends had told him it was very difficult.   But deep in his heart he still wanted to learn it and master it.

Our son James has asked for almost three years if we could get him a bow and arrow set and teach him how to use it.  He too, wants to hunt a deer with it.   For his 9th birthday, we got him a plastic learning set from Back To Basics.  It had suction cups instead of arrow tips on the ends.  This was a good place to start, but it was a little young for him, and he eventually lost interest in the set.

In part of our reading for homeschool, James read a book about two brothers from the 1860’s who learned how to hunt for food and used different survival skills.  They had to survive in a new land for eight months alone, with out their family.   They learned to fish, make fish traps, hunt for food, make small animal traps, use a spear, use plants as medicine and food, and defend themselves from a bear.  The book is a great read for kids and adults.  It is called “Cabin On Trouble Creek”.  This story really motivated James again to want to learn survival skills and renewed his interest in wanting to know how to shoot with a bow and arrow.  

This fall, Mike began to research using a bow and arrows and details about buying a good starter set.  He bought James a real bow and arrow set, and a target block to practice.  Here are pictures of their first time to use it.  James’ arm was so sore after a few times that he could hardly continue to retract the bow.  Right off the bat, James had very good aim, he just needs to build up endurance and the strength in his arms to repeatedly pull back on the bow.  Mike also worked with the younger brothers, John and Joseph, in helping them learn the basics of holding the bow and aiming the shot.

 

Mike plans to work with the boys a half hour several times a week after work.  This will be a good activity for all of them to do together as they learn about a survival skill and learn about becoming young men.  I hope once they master it in practice, they will have the opportunity at some point to use it to hunt a deer.  I know the joy Mike would feel to achieve this childhood dream.

 

 Here are several links to help you teach survival and life skills to your children.

Bow And Arrow /  What it is and its history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bow_and_arrow

How To Shoot A Bow and Arrow

http://www.centenaryarchers.gil.com.au/the10.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QatDFsLPZXY

http://www.wikihow.com/Shoot-an-Arrow

Spears / What it is and its history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spear

How To Hunt With A Spear

http://www.spear-hunting.com/spear-hunting-history.html

Here are some e-how survival videos by a guy who was a boy scout and now teaches wilderness survival skills.  These are great for kids to watch (how to make a spear stick, how to cook with hot rocks, and much more)

http://www.ehow.com/videos-on_8443_use-plants-animals-survive-nature.html

How to build a Camp Fire

http://www.go-camping.org/campfires.html

How To Cook With A Camp Fire and How To Use Safe Water

http://www.go-camping.org/cooking.html

How To Go Camping In Your Back Yard

A little funny, but gives you a simple idea of how you could practice setting up for an emergency if you needed to.  Keep all your camping or emergency gear in one place and that will help to minimize frustration on where stuff is located.  I heard one person say they easily can move everything they need in less than 15 minutes because they have it all in one place.  Wow, in an emergency like a power outage, that could save you loads of time and headache.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXP41bGHnuc

Here is a beginners guide to go camping.  Use this list to make your own list of what items you would want or need in your emergency supplies

http://www.beginnersguidetocamping.com/campingchecklist.pdf

Governement List to Make an Emergency Kit

http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/

Where to buy tools and supplies

http://www.survivalunlimited.com/

What to do if the power goes out in the winter

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/tips/winter_lightsout.html

How To Make A Power Outage Bearable

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Power-Outage-Bearable

Here is another good article written by Possum Hill Farms, called Homesteading in America.  The article is about why it is important to know survival skills and reduce our dependence on commercialism.

 

 http://possumhillfarms.blogspot.com/2010/05/homesteading-in-america.html

Scripture passages are from Biblegateway.com

 Genesis 21:20
God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.

Genesis 27:3
So take your bow and arrows, then go out in the fields, and kill a wild animal.

Psalm 127:4
Having a lot of children to take care of you in your old age is like a warrior with a lot of arrows.

 

What are some ways you are teaching life skills and survival skills to your children?
Please leave a comment and let us know.

 

 

 

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