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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Traded some of my own plants for blueberry bushes today

Two days ago, we took a ride out to a local Upick Blueberry Farm. I wasn't really dressed to pick, we just happened to be up that way and figured 'let's go take a look.'  While we there, I go to talking with the owner of the farm, and we got on the subject of gardening, and being self-sustaining, etc, and she agreed that we're going to need to learn how to grow and hunt food.  So I told her about my garden and she said she would trade me a couple of blueberry bushes for some plants.  So today I brought up some cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, and winter squash plants for her.  I have a whole bunch more to bring up to her too, I just only  had so many containers today.  I picked out one big blueberry bush, and one small one, but again, it wasn't a good day for picking... it was HOT.

On the ride home, we found a place on the side of the road selling 55 gallon metal drums and 55 gallon plastic rainwater barrels for only $10.00 each. With the bushes and the kids in the Jeep, we didn't have the room to get them today, but we will be going back for them soon.  They just might even be a better solution for our homemade, solar powered island boat than collecting hundreds upon hundreds of water and soda bottles.

I'm truly enjoying this new lifestyle.  We're looking for a nice farm that we can get owner financing on, and one that's done, we'll be all set.  Tomorrow, we're heading to some friends of Shane's down in Lake Wales, FL who have a 1 acre garden, and a fish pond on their property.  We'll be rigging up the fishing poles tonight and tomorrow, I will begin to teach my kids to fish.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Garage Saleing Adventure

We decided to go garage saleing today. We bought an axe, a pick ax, and an electric sander for $10.00.  That was a pretty nice find.

I also bought two hand can openers and a corkscrew for $1.00.

Hubby bought a set of Harry Potter books... ok, so not really a self-sustaining survivalist tool, but nonetheless, at least it's something to read to the kids for entertainment in an SHTF situation like a hurricane>loss of power.

We found a pedal powered front end loader and a wagon at a garage sale, so I picked them thinking they be useful for getting the kids to help with the yard work.

The best finds we got though, were from a house clean out.  They just put everything out by the curb, for the taking.  I got a bunch of bamboo, a fishing rod, two whole new sets of dishes, a stroller (wheels will be useful long after baby outgrows) and I can't even remember what else.

I also got about 50 little spice jars with two racks that mount on the walls, for $3.00 AND.. my husband bought 3 swords for $10.00. Might have to see what those are worth on ebay.

All in all, a pretty productive day I think. Still no supplies for my hen house though, and no chicks, and I still need a few more things to finish making the trellises for the viny plants.

I think the most important thing I have to remember is that I can't expect everything to happen at once, as much as I would like it to.

P.S. I was invited to join a newer site for the 'level headed' folks of the survivalist lifestyle.  It's got a really nice design to it, and seems like a good smaller community of people.  Vistit www.bugoutsite.com to check it out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Self Sustaining Families, Planning For A Barter Future

This post was inspired by a thread on the SurvivalistBoards.com forum with regard to what items should be prepped for bartering in a SHTF or EOTWAWKI (End Of The World As We Know It) situation. There were some excellent posts about what to plan to barter, and more importantly what not to barter and whether or not you would want anyone to know that you did have stuff to barter.

No matter what the 'survivalist catalyist' is, skills would be first and foremost on the list of things you should have.  If you have skills, you'll always be needed, and if you have the skills which are always in need in order to produce things that are always in need, your safety is almost guaranteed.

What Skills Would Be Useful For Bartering?

  1. First Aid/CPR and other medical skills- these are basic, easy to learn skills.
  2. Ability to make medicines like penicillin- all drugs are derived from living organisms. Do some research on them and learn some basic chemistry.
  3. Ability to desalinate and distill water
  4. Ability to create fire
  5. Ability to make weapons
  6. Ability to mine for ore to make weapons
  7. Ability to build shelter
  8. Ability to build boats
  9. Ability to harness, transfer and store solar power, and wind power.
  10. Ability to grow food
  11. Ability to hunt and trap animals, including fishing.   


Obviously if we faced an 'end of the world as we know it' global crisis that wipes out 2/3 of the human race, leaving us in a Mad Max or Waterworld situation, safety will be a main concern and having any kind of food, water or other perishables could make you a target for those who never bothered to prepare for such a day.  If we still have farmable land, becoming a squatting farmer will most likely be what we turn to for our survival.  In a Waterworld situation, boat building and fishing will become the ways of the world.

I got to thinking that if all I had was a few skills and water and food, I could be self-sustaining, and I could most likely protect myself, but I've always been the type who wants to have an 'edge' so I started to think about what isn't 'necessary' but what people would want and miss should 'the end of the world as we know it' come to pass. The first thing I thought of was what I could grow that people wouldn't necessarily 'need' but would want.

Tobacco
Cocoa beans
Cotton
Coffee Beans
Peanut seeds

Plus, the ability to make homemade wines, beers, and other liquors.

Assuming that the EOTWAWKI event leaves us all with an abundance of land that we can farm, I'm going to order tobacco seeds, cocoa beans and cotton seeds from Amazon and store them in my provisions. I was told it's illegal to grow cotton here in Florida, but if it's not or if I can get around the law somehow with a greenhouse, I may grow it just to keep producing seed.  I don't know about laws regarding tobacco or  cocoa either, but if the end of the world comes, I won't need to worry about the idiotic laws that protect businesses.

I'm already planning the distillery supplies for wine, beer and booze, and I collected the 'how to' books on these subjects a long time ago.

I found the video below on the SurvivalBoards.com forum, and now plan on building one of these man made floating islands.  The one in the video is the size of a tennis court, but just as Richie plans to make his bigger, I plan to start out with a 10 x 20 pontoon built much the same way, and then expand it until it is 5 acres in size, and I can put my solar powered green houses on it to grow food, stock it with animal life and float away.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our first self sustaining family garden

We finally did it.  We started our first self-sustaining family garden.  I am so happy to be enjoying this with our sons and teaching them about being self sustaining and being out with nature.  We started with seeds and containers, since I thought it would be easier for them.  I had this old waist high cooler that's on wheels that we weren't doing anything with, so I figured with the wheels it would be easy to move around for different exposure to sunlight, etc.


We planted, zucchini, peas, squash, lettuce spinach, onions, peppers, pumpkins and cucumbers.  We also planted parsley and cilantro, but those went directly into the ground.

A couple of days after we started the containers, we hit the flea market and bought 4 tomato plants, 4 basil plants, and 1 oregano plant.

 Far Left: tomato plants, 2 Center rows are the parsley and cilantro.  Far right would be the oregano and basil, but I guess I didn't take a good enough picture to get them all in.

So it's a good thing I took this extra picture.

Bushy one in the back is the oregano and the 4 up front are Basil.

AND YESTERDAY
THE ZUCCHINI HAD SPROUTED!


Then Today
Pumpkin And Cucumber Sprouts


The kids were really excited yesterday when they got home from school and I took them outside to show them the zucchini sprouts, and today, when we picked them up I told them about the pumpkins and the cucumbers and they couldn't wait to get home to check them out.

We made a trip to Home Depot today for some tools, and I picked up two more plants, chives and dill, and came home and put them directly in the ground.



Now that I see them in the picture, I'm thinking they might be a little bit too close together, so I may have to buy another herb plant, and then move the chives over a bit (I'm also planning to put my other onions in this flower bed).  Tomorrow, we'll be clearning a new patch of dirt in the yard to transplant the zucchini, and as more of our seedlings start to sprout, we'll clear patches of the yard to transplant.  Once the container garden seed crop is transplanted into soil, we'll start growing new stuff, and rotate all our crops as we go.

I am going to buy a small green house from Amazon for growing certain things in at certain times of the year, but I found some extremely creative ideas for homemade green houses on the Survivalist forum that are made of just scrap wood and things like scrap windows and sliding glass doors that people just give away when they do new stuff to their house. 

I've even taken to browsing Craigslist a few times a day to see what people are getting rid of free or just cheap, that I can use to make our family more 'self sustaining.'

The First Seeds, Zucchini, Have Sprouted

It took about 5 days, but our zucchini seeds sprouted yesterday.  I noticed it in the afternoon and I couldn't wait for the kids to get home from daycare so I could show them.  They were so excited, that they had to show every neighbor who walked by!  We know most of our neighbors and everyone on our block takes walks in the evening.

Hubby had to go out to pick up some furniture, so I decided to take the boys outside and have them help me clear a new spot for transplanting the zucchini to.  I don't think anyone has raked anywhere on this property in 5 years at least.  We have to spend at least an hour clearing and prepping a patch of dirt every time we want to plant a small crop, but it's still good family fun, and it's teaching them to be self-sustaining.

Even though I take the most pride in being able to grow from seeds, I'm glad we bought a few plants.  I think that planting something the boys could already see was a huge help in keeping them interested in the project.

Once we cleared the patch for the zucchini, I decided to try out a 'soil enrichment' experiment.  I used some of the crappy dirt (sand) that is our soil here in Florida, and mixed in some potting soil, and used coffee grounds.  I soon realized, that I didn't have enough potting soil.

While we waited for hubby to return, I decided to inventory our back yard.  Right now all of our growing and planting is being done in containers and flower beds in the front yard.  We've only lived here a short time, and though we own a house, it's rented out -(long story involving moving for my husband's job, and then moving back shortly thereafter while the tenant had a lease) but we don't want to go back there.  We're looking for something with property now to accomodate our new self sustaining lifestyle plans.

While I was back there, I found some lattice that I could use for growing vine things.  I don't know what I'll grow on them yet, but it's nice to know they're there.  I also realized that I have a much bigger back yard than I realized and our neighbor has baby chicks.

 Just before hubby got back and I could go get some potting soil, Eldest Son stepped on something with nails in it and the Three Act Drama ensued.  Needless to say, I didn't get to get out and get more soil.  Gonna do that today.

So I spent some time poking around on Craigslist looking for this and that.  Stuff people were giving away that I could use for building all these cool new things that I want, like a solar powered climate controlled greenhouse.  Then I poked around on the survivalist forum for a bit and got some great new ideas like small plant greenhouses.

On my list of things to do today is find out how to keep snakes away if you have laying hens for eggs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two Important Thoughts

So I was thinking that there are two things I need to be able to do to survive:

Get underground and get above the ground.

Yesterday during my research, I saw something about being able to build your own submarine, but that's next.

But a while back, I saw a bicycle with a motor and wings on a Youtube video.  The contraption launched right off the beach and flew through the air over the water.  I couldn't find that video but here are some other videos I found.






Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead... if there is retaliation, what?

With Osama Bin Laden dead, will Al Queida retaliate?  So far all the news has reported is that DNA testing has been done to determine that the body is in fact that of Osama Bin Laden.  I don't know how fast the body could have been delivered to the US, or how fast Washington can get DNA results back, but I would imagine it would have taken at least a day or two just to get the body to U.S. soil for the DNA testing.

The first news report I read said that Obama would be addressing the US about 'national security.'  This leads me to believe that we're about to be warned about new security threats.  Living close to Tampa Bay and MacDill AFB is cause for concern to us.

We've only just begun to become a self-sustaining, survivalist family.  I'm not sure we're prepared to withstand a retaliation equal to or greater than the September 11 attacks that Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind.

The US will probably take some comfort in knowing that the 'mastermind' behind those 9/11 attacks is now gone, but I, along with many others I imagine, know that to be a mastermind, you have to have followers, and they have to be as committed to the cause as the leader is.  We've only lost one member of a lunatic fringe.  Osama Bin Laden is dead, but his mission will live on in the decipels he left behind.

Osama Bin Laden is dead

Osama Bin Laden is dead.  It was 10:33 when I read the post on a survivalist forum.  A quick search on Yahoo, not Google, told us all to tune it to the news at 10:40 PM to hear President Barack Obama address the nation on national security.

I turned on CNN and sure enough, there it was.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.  It should give us all a sense of security, but it doesn't.  It actually makes me even more scared.  Scared of what's to come.  Ever since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, I've been scared of living in the US.

While I want to see Osama Bin Laden as no more than the terrorist thug the newscasters are calling him, if he was the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, he didn't pull it off without accommodating a hate for the US by too many other nations of the world.

Osama Bin Laden dead.  What happened, I don't know yet.  I'm still waiting for the President to address us, but I'm worried about a retaliation.

The United States has been at war, on our own soil since 2011. They weren't trying to make a point. They went after the World TRADE Center.  They went after our infrastructure.  Those events contributed to a stock market crash. Investors turned to real estate and lending was too easy because it was the only thing driving our economy.  Then that crashed too.

The war has been here, all along, on our soil. Hidden.  Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, will Al Queida retaliate?

I'm glad I found the survival forum today.

Self Sustaining Families- Exploring Solar Energy

While this might seem impractical knowing that we'll be moving soon, now that I know more about solar power, it doesn't seem that hard to make it portable, which is right in line with our eco-friendly instant backyard cottage plans.

The two things I'm most interested in are how to harness it, and how to store it for later use.  At first, I heard that installing the solar panels needed to harness the power of the sun were expensive, but then I read that it's actually not that expensive to build them.


To provide solar energy for the home, solar cells called photovoltaic made from semi-conducting materials, are grouped into modules. These solar panels are mounted on rooftops, yards or open spaces where it can capture the maximum amount of sunlight.

I found an article on how to build your own solar cells here.

Whenever possible, the panels will be installed facing south to get the most out of the sunlight but tracking systems are also used to follow the direction of the sun. The solar panels collect the energy from the sunlight. The process basically is that when the panels are exposed to sunlight, the electrons are separated form the atoms. This movement of the electrons creates electricity.

And this article on how to build your own solar panels

To store power, pumps are often used - circulating water in the cells. The water goes into a storage tank where the power is stored, ready for use. Sometimes, the use of gravity is employed if it will just the same store the heated water in to the tank.

In spite of all the development in solar energy though, the use of this technology is not enough to provide power to the whole house. The best method so far can only fulfill about 80% of a households power needs. The employment of solar energy for the home will still require the use of the conventional power distribution method.  

Self Sustaining Family Gardens- An Organic Accident

Now that I've looked into water collection, desalination, distillation of water, I've got an irrigation plan ready for our self-sustaining family garden projects, so I went looking around for the best tips on gardening and on gardening for kids.

The first tip I read was to give the garden Southern exposure to give it the most sun.  I wasn't sure that was such a good idea here in Florida, considering how strong our son is, but I didn't  really have a choice as that was the only place to plant the garden, but I did give it some shade, and I am considering a greenhouse, possibly using solar energy and condensation from a collection of rain and nearby saltwater to control the climate and irrigate.

I know a little bit about crop rotation as well, so when the greenhouse is ready, I'll grow what I can when I can outside and use soil solarization to try to eliminate any pest threats to the crops.


This technique is largely used in areas that have
abundant sunshine and high temperatures. However, it
can be adapted for cooler areas as well. The results
may not be quite as effective, but it can do wonders
in your battle against weeds.

What exactly is solarization? It is a technique that
does not use chemicals, but it captures the sun’s
radiant heat and energy which, in turn, causes
physical, biological and chemical changes in the soil.

These changes are able to control or eliminate soil
borne plant pathogens including bacteria, fungi,
pests, and nematodes along with weeds.

In order to solarize the soil, you must cover it with
a clear plastic tarp for approximately 4 to 6 weeks
during a time of the year when it is very hot and when
the soil will be able to receive maximum direct
sunlight.

Although I didn't set out to start an 'organic' garden, I accidentally bought some organic seeds, so I did some research on organic gardening, and found that there are some benefits to it that I hadn't considered.

1.One can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste. Though this is a bit more time-consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it certainly helps to put garbage to good use and so saves the environment.- First we raked out the old undeveloped flower beds that were now just a collection of leaves, and started a compost pile with them.We'll add more compost material to it over time to start generating rich soil.  We used the leftover hard boiled eggs from easter and our left over coffee grounds to help enrich our soil.

2. Organic farming does not use chemicals that may have an adverse affect on your health. This is especially important when growing vegetables. Chemical companies tell us that the chemicals we use are safe if used according to direction, but research shows that even tiny amounts of poisons absorbed through the skin can cause such things as cancer, especially in children. We didn't know this, so now I'm even more committed to getting that greenhouse built where I can control the soil conditions and the climate.

On the average, a child ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult. This can lead to various diseases later on in the child's life. With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.

Remember, pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose - to kill living things.

3. Less harm to the environment. Poisons are often washed into our waterways, causing death to the native fish and polluting their habitat. Luckily we have the information on desalinating and distilling water.  I'm considering a way to do this inside the green house where there will be more and purer air thanks to the plant life that makes oxygen... since some contaminants of the water can still make it through the desalination process.

4.Organic farming practices help prevent the loss of topsoil through erosion.
The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 - 32 billion tons of soil erodes from United States farmlands every year.  Our composting project should help us to use less topsoil as we'll be creating nutrient rich soil through our composting project.

4. Cost savings. One does not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard. Sometimes other plants can be grown as companions to the main crop. An example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from vegetables. This is definitely something I want to look further into, since I was forced to plant our food garden in our front yard instead of our back yard.  With some flowers added to the area, it just might be more aesthetically pleasing.
Mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil can make a cheap garden pest spray. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on plants.  I love the idea of not having to run to Wal Mart or Home Depot for pest spray!

5.A simple mulch of pine needles will help to suppress the growth of weeds as well as keeping the moisture in. Excellent!  Pine needles are in abundant supply around here and they don't smell so good when you burn them, plus they smoke like crazy.

6. Organic gardening practices help to keep the environment safe for future generations.  We started this project for our own future generation, our kids.

So now our self-sustaining garden is 'semi-organic' and once we get our first greenhouse from Amazon, we'll go 100% organic.


Self Sustaining Families- Learning about water desalination

Since we live so close to the Gulf (it's only 1 block from our house and we walk over to it all the time) I thought it would be a good idea to start teaching the boys about desalination.  I looked up some DIY water desalination plans online, and found that's pretty easy to do on a small scale.

It's actually very easy, even on a large scale if you're right on the water, which, once we build our boat bikes and sailboat will be useful for visiting our barrier islands for weekend survival lessons and exercises, or if we ever find ourselves living right on the water again.

The process is very simple reqiuring only two containers, a piece of plastic or other waterproof material, and  small rock or marble, and a rubber band.  The saltwater is placed in the larger of the two containers.  The smaller container is then placed in that larger container. Make sure to only put enough water in the larger bowl so that the smaller one will not float.  Cover the larger bowl, with the plastic and secure the rubber band around the outer edge of the bowl.  Place your rock, or marble, on top of the plastic above the smaller bowl so that make a 'slope' so that as the water evaporates and condensation collects on the plactic, it will 'flow down' into the smaller bowl.  Place the bowl in direct sunlight for several hours and you will have desalinated water.

Here's a video that shows the same process being used to distill water...



Depending on condensation for desalinated water won't produce large amounts of water.  We can elect to collect as much as we can carry from the river to home (possibly with some kind of wagon pulled by a bicycle) and doing this process at home on as large a scale as we can manage, maybe even using solar power to speed up the evaporation process to collect more condensation, but two things come to mind.  The purpose of this is to teach our children how to do this should the day ever come that they must do it.  The other is the idea of also using cisterns to collect and store rainwater for irrigating our crop.

If a cataclysmic event ever forced us to take to the sea, or squat along a shoreline, we would be able to create drinkable water from the sea.

Mission accomplished.

Some ideas I have for creating a self-sustaining and survivalist lifestyle...

When we launched our crowdfunding project for "Two Bites" the healthy eating game for kids, on Kickstarter.com, it really started to irritate this itch I've had for years to teach my kids about being self-sustaining and about survival.

Barring a cataclysmic event oft apocolyptic proportions, financial survival will be covered.  As long as there's an internet, our income and finances will survive any natural disasters like hurricanes, (this one's pretty much a given considering we live in Florida and have survived enough of them), but of course, all the self-sustaining income and food gardens in the world won't mean a thing to us if there is a world wide event like the predictions in 2012, or The Day After Tomorrow, The Core, or any of the 'end of the world movies'... none of our self-sustaining activities will mean much of anything.  Unless we learn how to survive them.

So while we can, we'll work on being self-sustaining, and prepare for the time when survival will precede that.

List of things we need to do to be self-sustaining:
Create income- done

Grow our own food- ongoing project, pictures and updates to come

Desalinate water-  since we live near the Gulf of Mexico, DIY desalination can help us irrigate our garden, provide drinking water, and in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster that might contaminate or wipe out water and power supplies, water to bathe and wash with.

Purify water-* see above

Harness solar and wind power- *see above

Build a boat bike- this will serve us no matter where we live.  It can provide food from the sea from our family, and give us some great physical, recreational fun too!  We've seen a lot of different kinds of boat bikes, but have yet to decide on a plan for our own.  Here are some examples of boat bikes...






Obviously, we need to modify these plans and designs to be able to carry the 4 people in our family and for our survival plans, but these are great for getting out to fish, and to have some physical family recreational fun too.


Build a sailboat- ok so the boat bike will cover the inshore fish supplies, but the  sailboat can get us further out into the gulf, and possibly outside of the U.S. should the day ever come that we need to get out, and I daresay that I see that happening in my very own lifetime.  This article is filled with all kinds of information and ideas on how to build boats, houses, even your own submarine in case the events of the movie 2012 actually do come to pass.

Build a portable shelter, powered with wind and solar energy-  we've both actually faced the prospect of homelessness and though it never came to that, it came incredibly close... living in a house that was in foreclosure, with no heat and no water.  When I saw these eco-friendly outdoor cottages, I wanted one just for my back yard, but I wanted it to be portable to put on a 'floating' barge and take with me if I'm forced to pick up and move for some reason.  We haven't decided how to make them portable yet, but it's on the list of things to do.

List of things we need to do to survive the apocalypse- or any cataclysmic event.


Build a bicycle plane-  just in case we want to jet to the Bahamas, or get off a collapsing 'ground' (again the events of the movie 2012 haunt me) a flying machine that can be powered by human pedaling, or a small engine, and can land on the water and float is a good thing to have.  Again, all of these ideas would have to be modified to carry our family of 4, at least until our kids are old enough to operate one of their own.

A hot air balloon is also another option.

And, last but not least, an underground shelter, as deep as we can find, fully stocked with all the supplies we'd need to ride out any tidal waves, or solar heat blasts.  This storage facility needs to be water tight, house soil and seed, fresh water, a hand held GPS scuba diving equipment... (maybe one of those DIY submarines) and a small inflatable boat.  Once the 'surge' is over, we should be able to use our scuba gear to rise to the surface, with our inflatable boat and supplies in tow in watertight cases.  At the surface, we can inflate the boat, climb in, power up the GPS and head back toward the last known 'land' until we find it again.

Ok so that last one is a little bit far fetched, but...

Self Sustaining Family Food Ideas

Even though we've wanted our kids to learn about becoming self-sustaining for a while, it was only after we created "Two Bites"- the healthy eating game for kids, that we finally decided to dig in and start planting our own garden. We created the game to get our own 'fussy eater' to try new foods, and learn about nutrition and healthy eating.  What could be healthier than eating the food you grow yourself?

Studies have shown that kids are more likely to eat the delicious meals that they got to help create, and so involving in them in the meal planning and cooking processes are great ways to get them to try new foods, but since mine are still too little to really help out with the 'cooking' part, having them help grow the food and care for it seemed liked a perfect solution.

 One of the 'rewards' we are using for our "Kickstarter Project" to raise funds for producing this game, is 'seeded paper.'

Theses seeded papers are made with a process similar to making papier mache, and are cut into various shapes.  I've seen them with string attached so they can be worn as a necklace, which makes a great conversation piece.  But even if you don't wear them, or after you're done wearing them, you place the whole piece into some soil, water, and watch your garden grown.

We had only seen flowers and shapes that really didn't have anything to do with food...

Except for this one in the shape of the cupcake-


so we researched how to make them, and we headed to our local flea market in search of cookie cutters in the shapes of food.

I tried to start an egg carton garden with my oldest a couple of years ago, but he was only 3 at the time and he just didn't have the attention span for it.  But now that he's 5, we're trying again and although the youngest is now 3, he's following his big brother and not getting distracted as easily as big brother did at the same age.

First we bought some potting soil and seeds for pumpkins, peas, zucchinni, onions, peppers, squash, watermelon, lettuce, spinach, parsely and cilantro.  We bought the plastic container garden for starting them, and went home and began our mission to growing our own food.

When we hit the flea market in search of the cookie cutters, we also bought a few plants.  I thought that having something that was already sprouted to plant in the ground would engage the kids more, and I was right.  We got 1 oregano plant, 4 basil plants, and 4 tomato plants, and planted them in the flower beds surrounding the front of the house.

Although I would have preferred having the food garden in the back yard, there are just too many trees and too much shade in our back yard.  One of my goals is to get Shane and the boys to build me a portable greenhouse, since we know we'll be moving to another house as soon as we find one with the land we want to be as self-sustaining as possible.  

This one from Amazon is perfect for my yard and budget.



Now our garden is almost fully planted, though I would like to add some cantaloupe and honeydew to our crop.  With the Florida summer setting in, I'm limited on what I can grow until I get that greenhouse.       
I can grow anything if I can control the climate, and that of course is what a greenhouse is great for.  

We've created our self-sustaining income, we've begun our self sustaining food growth project, and we're now ready to start learning about DIY alternative energies like solar and wind power, and since we live so close to the Gulf, we're also going to learn about DIY water desalination, and purification.                                       

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Self Sustaining Income Opportunities

My first step towards having a self-sustaining family came in the form of creating my own self-sustaining income.  I had a little bit of seed money, and I started looking for where to invest it to provide the lifestyle I wanted for myself and my family.

I've been an entrpreneur all of my life, and I've always had my own business.  The most important thing I ever learned as a business owner was how to create income on demand.  When my brick and mortar business went under, it was only because I could recognize opportunity that I was able to survive and take care of my kids. I was unemployable, even if we'd been in prosperous times, but with few jobs to be had, I was the least desirable employment candidate anyone had ever seen.

When you've always owned your own business, prospective employers assume, usually correctly, that you have problems with authority.  Add to that the fact that I was a single parent, a single mother, and the worst economic time in the United States since 1929, and I had to figure out what to do to earn a living.

One place I could see that people were still making and spending money, was online.  There are so many income opportunities online that it's almost impossible to keep up with them all, but we'll try in this post.

The two most general models are selling services and selling products.

Selling Services - Selling services can include such things as: 


Basics- All methods of making money online will require some special skills relating to the respective model, but these basics are easy to learn, always in demand, and the perfect start to generating a necessary self-sustaining income.

Writing- articles, press releases, reports, emails, auot-responders, and direct response copywriting like classified ads, sales letters and email marketing campaigns.

Graphic Arts- artistic design for websites like logos, headers, backgrounds, footers, customer order buttons and product covers.

Other forms of creation:  videos, audios.

*Any creation, written, visual, or audio can be of small size for web distribution meant to promote a product, or can serve as a product itself.

Most of the basic skill sets are easy enough to learn, but article writing and video making require the least amount of time to acquire the skills for.

Intermediate- The intermediate level methods of making a self-sustaining income online require a whole new set of skills, slightly more advanced than the basics, and requiring a slightly longer time frame for learning the skills to perform these tasks.

Virtual Assistant- performing tasks customer support, technical support, website submissions, content submission.

Search Engine Optimization Services- these services are mainly focused on providing on-page SEO advice and implementation for website owners, and off-page SEO services like link wheel building and back linking.

Technical support services- at the time of the writing of this post, WordPress is the website building platform of choice.  It's supposed to be the easiest way to build a site, and it is easy, as long as you don't want to customize it any way.  Offering the customization of these sites has meant a lot of big business for those who know php and css.

Advanced- Advanced level services require strong proof that you have mastered the skills of the basic and intermediate levels, but here is where you really start doing less work for more money, and your self sustaining income can now be the foundation you need for a completely self-sustaining lifestyle.

Brokering- bring other service providers and potential clients together and collect fees for doing it.

Project Management- manage groups of service providers for other entrepreneurs, or manage project such as affiliate recruitment, joint venture deals, and product launches.

Although when you first start selling 'services' your clients will tell you their niches and keywords, as your experience grows and you begin to move to higher levels such as brokering or selling content packages, you'll need to start learning about niche research, which becomes the # 1 Skill you need for product marketing. Learn more about niche research here.

Selling Products- Selling products is the most sought after, and profitable method of attaining not just a self-sustaining income, but a passive self sustaining income.


There are multitudes of products to sell, and ways to sell them, online.  You can sell any physical or digital product of your own, which you create or have created for you (physcical products produced by manufacturing processes, digital products like books or software that you create or outsource the creation of) or you can sell any physical or digital products of someone else's, as an affiliate, for a commission on the sale.  You can also sell advertising space.  Pay per click advertising models like the Google Adsense Program allow you to profit from adspace on your own websites or blogs, and as you get more traffic you can opt for more profitable advertising like banner ad placements from direct advertisers.

You can sell these products from blogs, websites, classified ads, to email lists you build, or adswap with, or buy solo ads on.  But it is recommended that you always have your own website or blog to sell your wares from.

Your sites and blogs can also profit from another kind of advertising model called CPA.  CPA stands for Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition, depending on the model.  You're advertising, by using traffic generation methods such as article publishing, classified ad publishing, ezine publishing, email marketing (via your own list or through solo ads and adswaps) to people to either get them to do someting (i,e. submit their email address, call a 800#, etc) or to 'do' something such as participate in a survey or a trial offer for a new product.  What you're generally advertising here is a lead generation campaign for some other company.  You're not necessarily trying to 'sell' anything, only to give something away for free or for a nominal fee, such as shipping and handling, in order to get contact information for the merchant to build their list of prospects that they hope to turn into customers.

Back to products...  The wide variety of products you can sell range from affiliate products, your own products, Private Label Rights products, resell rights products- and all can be either physical or digital.


Most marketers start with affiliate products because the niche research product creation and copywriting is already done, and all the affiliate marketer needs to do is drive traffic.


Amazon and Clickbank are the two most talked about affiliate programs for marketers. Clickbank is mainly digital products where Amazon is mainly physical products.

Private label rights products and master resell rights products are a second choice, and you can find physical private label rights products too.  These products allow you to control the sales process as much as having your own products do.  With affiliate marketing, your commission is set to whatever the vendor is willing to pay, and you get paid according to the terms of the affiliate manager, sometimes waiting over a month before you get a check.

Your own products offer you the most versatility.  You keep all the money from your sales, and you can put your product in affiliate marketplaces and have affiliates advertise and make sales for you for their commissions.

Once you learn what you have to sell, it's time to figure out how to go about selling it.  This means deciding on a platform (storefront) such as website or blog, and how to get traffic to it... market and advertise it.

Some traffic generation methods include:
Article Marketing
Press Release Submissions
Classified Ads
Email marketing - (this is a model in and of itself.  There are a lot of marketers who have built up huge lists and the only way they make money is by selling 'solo ads' -email advertisements for other marketers- to that list)
Video Marketing
Forum Advertising
Banner Advertising
Pay Per Click Advertising
Cost Per Action Marketing- as the merchant/vendor
Adswaps (part of email marketing)
Joint Ventures
Guest posting on related sites/blogs...

Some of these methods are free, others will cost some money.  Even those that are free, however, such as article marketing can cost money if you choose to outsource the writing and distribution/syndication of your articles.  While it does require an up front cash outlay to outsource these things, it's actually more profitable than trying to do it yourself.

 If you do the proper research, you can easily find niches that will offer you the chance to make $50.00 a from one site, and creating just 10 of those sites is fairly easy.  And while each method of traffic generation is fairly easy, it's the combination of methods and sites that will offer you success, and all of those things combined can take a lot of time.

 Some so-called 'experts' advise to pick one model and stick with it until it's 'making money' and only then try something else.  The problem with that advice is in the words 'some money.'  I prefer the more structured approach of setting a profit goal that I know will pay my salary (bills), how much I have to spend to get that much return.  Armed with that information, there are a ton of ways to raise that initial seed capital.

With plan for a self-sustaining income in place, you can be on your way to becoming a self-sustaining family.

Welcome To Self Sustaining Families

We are a young semi-suburan, semi-rural family, learning to become self sustaining in the aftermath of what we've seen happen during these early years of the 21st century.

I'm Dani, wife to Shane, and mom to our two sons Michael, 5 and Daniel, 3.

Back in 2007, after my business went under due to the economy, I started looking at new ways to be self-sustaining, both financially and in terms of my lifestyle.

I took an interest in solar and wind power.  I always enjoyed gardening, and started looking into organic growing, and I started thinking about ways to create multiple streams of income.

I started writing and blogging online for income, and in 2009 I met my husband Shane.  We got married in 2010 and agreed to turn my online income into a full time business together.  In 2011 we created "Two Bites," the healthy eating game that encourages kids to try new foods, develop healthy eating habits, and learn about nutrition.  We launched a project on a crowdfunding site called "Kickstarter.com" to raise enough money to get the game into production, and to promote the Kickstarter project, we started our first family garden, and other self-sustaining projects to share with our backers, fans and readers.

I'm Shane, husband to Dani and Daddy to our two beautiful boys.

I was an EMT when Dani and I met, and I've always enjoyed family life, the outdoors and nature.  Teaching our children to care for themselves, grow their own food, and learn how to make their own way in the world is important to me and to Dani..  I was a boy scout and I want the same thing for our kids.  The worlds agricultural land supply is diminishing, the costs of food and shelter are rising, and the economies of countless countries are taking a hard hit due to the changes in the way people want to live.

We want to go back to the simpler ways of life. Growing our own food, building our own shelter, and teaching our kids how to survive.  Even financing has gone back to more 'grass roots' ideals thanks to websites like Kickstarter.com and GoFundMe.com.  We're very happy and excited to be a part of all these new ways of living, and we hope to share as many of them as we can, with as many people as we can, through this blog.

This blog will look at things like self-sustaining income opportunities, crowdfunding ideas for exploring those self sustaining income opportunities, as well as other methods of becoming self-sustaining such as how to desalinate and purify water, how to grow your own food, how to build your own shelter, and even some other eco-friendly building projects, like boats!