Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bunker Beer - The Tasting !

The Bunker Beer is finished!  Soooooo...  the time has come to find out if I have beer or some biological experiment gone wrong.  I put a couple of bottles in the fridge and waited a few hours for it to reach a nice chilly temp.

I cracked open the first bottle and psssst!  It is actually carbonated!  Smelled good.  Hmmm, this may be alright after all.

I poured out my first bottle into a chilled mug, and took a drink.  It is really drinkable! Yum.   So the bunker beer is a success, and I actually really enjoy drinking it, so I need to start another batch so I have some on hand for the holidays.

The flavor is richer than a Coors with a hint of citrus, but light enough to enjoy a couple beers without feeling too full.  Appropriately named Patriot Lager, this beer is easy to make, easy to drink and easy to store.  The beer extract cans now have their own row in my food rotation rack.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday Prepping Sale



Today is the last day to get some fantastic deals on food storage and rotation systems from our online store.   Support the blog, and take advantage of the best deals of the year.

Prep Now

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bunker Beer


I have been through hundreds of lists of "preps" that people are putting away for an emergency.  I read these lists to ensure I am not over looking something that is critical, cheaper, innovative, awesome, etc..  Over the past couple of years, I have been diligently socking away the items on my list, much of it for free ( more later on how I do that ).   It came time to take inventory and estimate how long these supplies would last.  I grabbed a notebook, pencil, and a beer.  As I finished up my counts, it occurred to me that one item on the list, alcohol (liquor, wine, and beer) takes up a lot of space, is pretty heavy, and the glass bottles are fragile, not so great if you need to bug out.

I only have about 2 beers a month or less, but if you think for one minute I am going to spend TEOTWAWKI with out a beer, you're nuts.  Alcohol in its many forms can be a great barter item in addition to being a fairly non-perishable caloric and down right entertaining beverage.  I have several bottles of most of the popular brands of liquor and some dry yeast for beer/mead/wine production stored.  High proof alcohol is good for everything from disinfecting cuts to a handy defense weapon, so those bottles stay.  I also planned to learn the art of distilling "shine" and perhaps leave the materials needed to construct a still at my bug out location.  The more I thought about it, the less I liked my prep plan in this area.

I decided to investigate brewing and while it is tempting to buy the typical full grain brew gear and make beers using long term storage grains, that does not address the space or portability concerns.  I needed to identify a simple, lightweight brew kit.  After reviewing everything I could find online, I ordered a Mr. Beer kit.  It turns out to be nearly perfect for prepping.  The wort is made from a small can of extract and 2 gallons of water.  The yeast is stored under the extract can's lid.  The beer is simple to make, uses very little heat energy since all you need to do is bring it to a boil and can be bottled in just about any sealable container.  The kit comes with a rinse free sanitizer, which comes in foil packets.  These packets are amazing and every prepper should buy a case of these for non-brewing use, go bags, etc.

I made my first batch a few weeks back and will be bottling it tomorrow.  Will it suck?  I'll find out in two weeks, and will report back.

On the downside, the extract will only store on the shelf for about 2 years, so the full grain method is better for those who plan to stay put.

Here are the key take aways:

  • Mr Beer is a simple, lightweight, way to store beer supplies to make beer
  • Brewing with extract saves a lot of fuel vs. a full grain batch
  • If you plan only to bug-in, buy the grain buckets and brew your own full grain
  • Regardless of which method you select, buy the no rinse sanitizer from a brewing supply house or the mr beer site.
Now to figure out what to do about higher proof alcohol.

Show Review: Jericho





CBS aired a show beginning in 2006 called Jericho, named after the Kansas town it was set in.  The show begins with a nuclear attack on 23 major cities in the US and follows the towns people as they try to cope with the aftermath.

Jericho is one of those unfortunate victims of a slow building fan base, and was abruptly canceled in season 2.  The series was a favorite of mine, and like many of the Jericho fans, I was sad to see the network pull the plug on such an enjoyable show.  Even though the ending is unsatisfying, the show is well worth a watch.

Overall Prepper Rating: 7.5 out of 10  

Spoiler alert, reading further may reveal elements of the show. 

Entertainment Value: 4/5
The plot is engaging.  Set in present times, a nuclear attack is launched against major US cities, government has collapsed, and the remaining survivors are forming groups to forage for food and find their loved ones.  A small town, Jericho, lead by the local sherif and mayor, attempts to reestablish the rule of law and comfort the citizens of Jericho.  They face selfish individuals, power struggles and raids by outside groups looking for supplies.  The story becomes a real "us" vs. the savage world drama at its core, with the question of who is behind the attack driving much of the narrative.  It is a chilling depiction of what a serious crisis like an EMP attack might look like.  Well, that is, if you have a bunch of new world order conspirators running about.  Love the series, hated the end.  4/5 Entertainment.

Prepping Value: 3.5/5
The message is community, community, community.  There are other themes woven into the story that are great for thinking about defense and preps, but if you go mind numb wondering who is behind the bombs, just remember, you can't survive long term on your own.  Overall, it makes you think and for that we give it 3.5 out of 5.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bee Hive Winter Prep

Early fall is time to close out the bee hive until spring.  If your hive has extra honey, you harvest, leaving the hive enough to feed them during the cold winter months.  It is also a good time to treat the hive for common problems like mites.  

So out I went outside to inspect my two hives.  Well, one of the hives was packed with active bees, the other, much weaker.  As it turns out, the summer drought conditions limited honey production in both hives.  I decided to leave all of the honey behind for the bees.  To prepare them for the long winter I needed to test and treat the hives, and then reduce the entrance to help the bees stay warm during the winter.  

The under populated hive was a concern, and unfortunately the first freeze came right on the heels of a warm spell.  The weaker hive was wiped out overnight.  When I went to check on them most of the bees in that hive were on the hive bottom and the rest were still clinging to the wax, but no longer alive.

Bees form a cluster inside of the hive when temperatures dip, a cold snap can slow the bees down and if too few bees are clustered, the die.  I guess I am picking up a new queen package next spring.  The good news is that the other hive is fine, and I can now relocate the empty hive. sigh.



Friday, June 22, 2012

My Bee's Keeper



I started my hives without much more than a couple of books and a "class" in someone's garage.  So to say I am a novice is an understatement.  In fact, I had never been stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet.  As a prepper, I wanted bees for several reasons; of course honey, bee's wax, garden pollination, and a hobby.  I've been getting a number of questions about how the bees are doing and how I like being a beekeeper.  So here is an update:

Honey

The two hives have grown at very different rates.  One has become a very strong hive, easily triple the starting population of bees with 10 frames of brood and supporting food stores.  They grew so quickly I was concerned about the hive temperature during a recent heat wave.  In my ignorance I decided to add a hive body, without frames, to provide a space for the heat to escape the hive.  Everything seemed fine for a couple weeks, and then a little stub of a comb appeared on top of the center frame.  I thought, "oh look, they are ready to start a new level."  I needed to assemble 10 more frames and install the wax foundation, but it was the middle of a busy week.  I thought no problem, I'll cut off the 2 inch high wafer and in a couple of days be able to add the frames.

Saturday rolls around and I head out to the hive to discover my little bees have been really busy.  Now I have drawn comb that resembles a bowl or maybe the pedals of a flower and it reaches from one side of the hive to the other, it's huge. What makes it worse is that it was being filled with honey as fast as it was being drawn.  So my quick visit to the hive has become a major problem.  After some minor surgery on the hive and a lot of pissed off bees I had a bucket full of wax, uncapped honey (which is not the ready to eat yet), and all of this mess covered in bees.  ugh.  After installing the new frames I allowed the bees to feed on the cut out.  It takes 8 pounds of honey to produce a pound of wax, so I felt bad about taking so much from them, setting back my strong hive an potentially setting the honey production so far back that I would not be able to harvest any for myself later in the year.  The upside is that I learned a couple of things.  First, bees flip a switch and are relentless when they decide to build and are able to rapidly draw comb.  Second, cutting comb with any honey in them will kill bees, they will cover the comb and no matter how hard you try they will get caught up in the sticky mess.  Third, if you want to encourage bees to begin drawing on new frames, using their own wax pressed on the wax foundation will almost immediately generate activity.  Lastly, bees are not pets.  Yep, that's right, I finally know I am not allergic to bees.  I was used to visiting the bees with minimal protection to swap feeding jars, but the day after having cut out the comb, I approached to hive and was confronted by several agitated bees.  One of which hit me in the chest and was wildly buzzing on my shirt.  I brushed him off while moving away from the hive and he was back on me in a second tagging me in the arm.  Wow! It wasn't the pain of the sting, just the shock of being attacked by this fuzzy little bug that I have grown to like.


The other hive is growing but not as quickly.  I decided to limit the entrance and increase the feeding to strengthen the colony.  I think the queen is not as productive as the other hive's and i suspect robbing has been taking place by the stronger hive.  By limiting the entrance the weaker hive is able to better defend the hive.  I also ordered a top feeder which brings the sugar water into the hive, further limiting the amount of robbing.  The other benefit is that I only have to disturb the hive once every 4-5 days rather than everyday.  This has had the added benefit of catching mites in the water, alerting me to a potential cause of the lower population in this hive.  The tiny mites are easy to see swimming on top of the sugar water.  I'll treat the hive tomorrow.

Wax

Harvesting wax and separating it from the honey is not as easy as it might seem.  I tried to feed the honey to the bees thinking they would pick it clean.  It turns out, they took wax and left bee bodies in the wax.  My next attempt was to heat the wax in 120 degree water and float the wax.  What I ended up with was not pure wax and eventually grew mold.  Time to hit the web and books to refine my wax harvesting.

Pollination

The biggest success of all has been my garden.  It is going nuts with all the bees helping the plants develop produce.  The amount of produce developing on my plants is significantly higher than any year since starting the garden.  Certainly other factors are at play here, but this is the first time I have seen bees working my garden, with at least one bee on every plant.

Hobby

So how are bees as a hobby?  This is a question you have to ask yourself because if, unlikely as it seems at the moment, there is no crisis requiring self-sufficiency, you have 60,000 + critters depending on your continued support.  I have to say, I am enjoying it, sting aside. They are amazing creatures, a ton of fun to watch, and other than the rare event that requires immediate attention, they are pretty light work when its a small scale bee yard.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2nd Amendment Goodness - Free Guns!


Preppers and guns, its like peanut butter and chocolate, pancakes and syrup, Run DMC and Aerosmith.  Something like that.  What I am trying to say is, FREE GUNS!  It's prepper Christmas.

Usually we post unadvertised discounts and tips for saving big money on prepping on our discount page, but this giveaway is getting a post.

Only in America

An online news outlet is giving 9mm handguns away, one a week for 25 weeks.  The catch is that you need to submit an entry once a week.  Pretty slick marketing though, they add tons of new email subscribers, and get many to return every week. They may even convince some people to become regular readers.  Only in America!   The publication is called The Daily Caller, which is a Libertarian/Conservative leaning news and opinion site run by Tucker Carlson (former show host on CNN, MSNBC, & commentator on Fox News).  Registering for the giveaway does not require an account, or that you even read the site.  Name, email, zip code are about all you have to give them to enter.  Here is their description of the giveaway:
The Daily Caller will be giving away one gun per week until Election Day – November 6, 2012.
The FMK9C1 is an American-made high capacity 9mm designed by Jim Pontillo and manufactured in
California. Each gun is engraved with the Bill of Rights and comes in one of three colors.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/the-dc-gun-giveaway/#ixzz1vlGdkxtc

I have never fired an FMK9C1 9mm before so I can't speak to how it performs, but reviews seem good and it is a 9mm which many preppers favor for the low cost and availability of the ammo.  The gun is worth about $375.  Not bad.


Disclosure: I don't have any relationship with the site giving away the guns, don't read the site frequently, and therefore do not have an opinion on the site's content.  I do, however, now have a favorable opinion of them since hearing about this promotion, its brilliant.