This April 6th-12th there is an online gathering of 30+ experts in backyard food production, homesteading, and off-grid living. Presented by the worlds leading researchers, organizations, and best-selling authors to help you become free of supermarkets and grow your own healthy foods more easily and productively no matter where you live!

This is the biggest event for home grown food ever organized online. Sponsored by Mother Earth News, The Natural News, & The National Gardening Association just to name a few.

It’s FREE. Reserve your spot by clicking here:

Get started growing, take your skills to the next level, or if you’er a newbie, be inspired!

This Summit has something for everyone.

This is an article written by a prepper friend who is a medical doctor in North Carolina. It is a good solution to the problem of storing bulk food in such large quantities that it is impractical to open them for daily use.

We found that when we first stored food in the large buckets about 35 years ago, that we never opened them for the reasons my friend describes. Now we make it a point to use our stored, bulk food to rotate it, it is cheaper, it is healthier than more processed food, and we like it. What we found works well for us is to pack most of it in smaller Mylar bags that hold 8 to 10 lbs of grain, rice, and beans. This is a good size for us to get through in a reasonable amount of time. Some things like lentils, I put in bags I cut in half. I have a Mylar sealer that makes it pretty easy. Here is a link to a post I did with pictures.

Novel use for nylon hose

photo 3I hate the fact that when I open a food bucket Mylar bag I am kind of stuck with an open container of 40 pounds of rice then I have to open another bucket with 30 pounds of beans. That represents a lot of food to open at once. Also if I was bugging out I might be able to grab a bucket but would be forced to grab either the bucket of rice or the beans. It has been hard for me to easily make a mixed bucket until I came up with this idea. I have used a nylon hose to hold my beans which I twist tie shut, place in mylar bag, then pour rice around the sack of beans and then throw in the oxygen absorbers and seal. The pore size of the stretched nylon should easily allow the oxygen to be removed with the absorber yet keep the rice and beans separate. Thus a mixed bucket is easily made. If most of my buckets are mixed then as I use them I may be able to get by with only one open bucket at a time thus reducing the risk of spoilage. I mark the outside of the bucket with the number of pounds of beans and how many pounds of rice. I have attached pictures where I made a crude cardboard tube over which I stretched hose ( a large wrapping paper tube works best for this). I then poured the beans into the tube and pushed the beans down into the hose which I then twist tied. I dropped my nylon filled bean bag into the Mylar bag and finished filling the Mylar bag with rice then added oxygen absorber then sealed. You can easily see the beans through the nylon hose so oxygen removal should be easy. I hope this may be a helpful idea.

photo 1photo 2




There are a few seats left for this free class on Saturday, August 30, 2014, from 1:00 to 5:00. The deadline for registering is Wednesday, August 27, 2014 .

If you are serious about attending, send me an email, sarahboonegd (remove space in front of @) to register so I can send you the address. There is no charge for this class.

A couple of years ago my husband and I attended a class with several other preppers in Albemarle, NC taught by a surgeon and chiropractor with whom we have become friends. They did a great job and are offering the class again on August 30, 2014. They are both knowledgeable preppers who want to help folks like us learn some basic emergency medical skills in the event traditional medical care is unavailable. The class will include a suturing practice session using tissue simulants and tools provided by the doctor under his supervision.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Found on NCEM website:

Are you ReadyNC? Here’s an App to Help.

North Carolina now has a mobile application that will help our residents and visitors prepare daily for everything from minor traffic emergencies to severe storms.

This all-in-one tool can provide the latest weather, traffic and hazard information and tells you what you need to know to be safe in all types of emergencies. The app is free and available (look for ReadyNC) in the AppStore for iphones and Google Play for Android devices.

Using this app does NOT replace calling 911. It is not intended to report emergencies to local officials, but it can be used to find life-saving information.

Some of the features include:

  • real-time traffic and weather information
  • critical information on how to be safe during different hazardous events
  • real-time information about opened shelters for evacuees (including addresses, capacity, directions and if the shelter is pet-friendly)
  • real-time updates on flood levels of major nearby creeks and rivers
  • phone numbers and links to all North Carolina power companies to report outages
  • basic instructions on how to develop emergency plans and what to put in your emergency supplies kit
  • real-time information on which counties have issued evacuation orders
  • contact numbers and links to websites for those who need help recovering from a disaster
  • direct links to the and websites and social media accounts

We never know when the next storm will threaten, but we do know that those who are prepared before will fare better. Use this app to get your family ready.

Be safe,

Mike Sprayberry

Update: Last summer we raised 7 Red Ranger (meat) roosters from one day old chicks until they were 12 weeks old, then butchered and processed them in one morning using the technique and checklist below. It worked well. One change we made was to fasten the cone to the frame of our firewood storage stack so it doesn’t move while in use.

We have killed only two chickens, but I am willing to share what we learned.  If you are sensitive to this type of information, please stop reading.

We killed a hen using the technique of a pole on her neck then yanking up on her feet to separate the spinal column. It worked fast and is the best way to kill rabbits. But you still have to cut the chicken’s neck to bleed it out, and she flopped around after she was dead.

Chicken Killing Cone

Chicken Killing Cone

We used the cone method for a one year old rooster, and it worked very well.  We bought a traffic cone and cut a few inches off the tip so the rooster’s head and neck would fit through. He was very sedate and didn’t struggle at all. Make sure you have a VERY sharp knife.

We hung the cone by a chain from my clothesline pole and put a bucket under him to catch the blood. Once his neck was cut, we let him hang for about 15 minutes to drain. There was no flopping around. Before we use it again, we will fix the cone to something more stable using some boards.

We had a large pot of hot water heating on our outdoor gas burner (camping stove).  It was about 145 degrees. We dunked him for 30 seconds until his feathers came out easily.  We added a small amount of dish detergent to allow the water to soak through the surface tension of the feathers. I was surprised how easy he was to pluck.

The rooster was a year old.  It was difficult to cut through some of his bones, particularly the back bone to remove the internal organs. It was very much harder than cutting up a broiler or store-bought chicken.  His thighs and legs were very large and the meat very dark.  Even though I don’t typically like dark meat, his meat was very good.

I have included a list we prepared for ourselves to use whenever we butcher a chicken. We read a lot of confusing information so got things organized to suit us. We used two books as references: Raising Chickens for Dummies and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.

Here are some videos that demonstrate the harvesting and cleaning of chickens.

Respectful Chicken Harvest Part 1

Respectful Chicken Harvest Part 2

Poultry Processsing

Checklist for Butchering Chickens

Don’t feed chicken for at least 12 hours prior to killing.

  • Table
  • Cone
  • Very sharp, large knife
  • Heavy scissors/poultry shears/pruning shears
  • Big pot of hot water (140°-150°)
  • Water thermometer
  • Rubber gloves
  • Soap and water
  • Bleach
  • Rags
  • Paper towels
  • Large stainless steel bowl
  • Garbage bag and trash can
  • Needle nose pliers (to remove pin feathers)
  • Dull bladed knife (to remove pin feathers)
  • Garden hose
  • 2 pair exam gloves
  • Long handled tongs
Killing and Bleeding
  • Place chicken head down in cone
  • Stretch neck out
  • 2” cut just behind jaw from front to back
  • Let bleed for 15 minutes
  • 145° water with Dawn dish soap
  • Immerse bird for 30 seconds
  • Lay bird on table
  • Remove feathers
  • Use needle-nose pliers or tweezers to remove pin feathers
  • Rinse with clean water
  • Cut head off
    • Use poultry kitchen shears
    • Close to body
  • Cut off feet
  • Remove oil gland and tail (Storey P. 396)
    • 1” above glands nipple, deep enough to reach tail bone
  • Cut Back Open
    • Start at rear
    • With poultry shears, shallowly cut backbone from back to front
    • Be careful not to rupture the intestine
    • Remove entrails
    • Carefully remove the liver without bursting the attached gallbladder which will cause the meat to taste bitter.
    • Rinse with clean water

Wildfire Mitigation

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Having lived in the southwest for many years, we learned about the danger of wildfires.  It was not unusual for fire to burn thousands of acres including homes and cabins. Our home is surrounded by wooded hills in western North Carolina. About 3 years ago the shingles on our roof were damaged in a high wind storm.  We used the insurance money to replace the shingles with a metal roof as a start to protect the house from fire.

We recently had a wildfire audit done by a forest ranger which was very helpful. The biggest change we needed to make was to thin the woods and underbrush.  That was predictable.  The surprise to me was that the big trees are not so dangerous as long as the tops aren’t touching. and the branches are trimmed up about 10 feet high.  The underbrush that includes a lot of rhododendron and mountain laurel was the most critical to remove.

We have spent the past month cutting, trimming, and clearing.  We have a few big trees we will have removed because they are dying or too close to each other.  We have stacked all the brush along the driveway and someone we know with a wood chipper will be here to take care of it tomorrow.

My husband is working on a plan to get some goats.  He is convinced that goats will help keep the weeds and brush under control.  That is okay, because I have wanted some goats, and he is doing all the research and work.

I own three grain mills and have been grinding grain for about four years. I often get asked about what is “the best” grain mill.  There are questions every family must answer for themselves to determine the best grain mill.

  • Do you want an electric, manual, or convertible mill? Will you be using it regularly now or putting it away to use only in an emergency?
  • Do you need to grind a high volume of  flour regularly for a big family or just enough for one or two loaves of bread?
  • Do you want to be able to grind hard foods such as popcorn or oily seeds such as flax?
  • How much money do you want to spend?

All of these grain mills have variable settings for course to fine flour. You should always check your grain for any small stones which will ruin any of these mills and negate the warranty.

Here are my observations of two electric mills, the Wondermill, and Nutrimill; and a convertible, the Family Grain Mill (FGM).  I will also provide you with information about a good manual, the Wondermill, Jr. Deluxe. I have given you price estimates as of March 2013.  Occasionally manufacturers will put their machines on sale, so it is worthwhile to keep a check on prices.  Many suppliers will ship at no additional charge, so make sure you take that into account when comparing prices.

Here is a link to a comparison chart from Millers Grain House of these grain mills and some other mills.  The chart can be printed and enlarged on the screen for easier viewing.  Millers Grain House also sells these mills.

We ran a home test to time how quickly the mills ground 2 cups of hard white wheat mixed with mixed grains that I use for bread. All the mills were set to their finest settings.  I did not include the Wonder Junior Deluxe since I do not have access to one.

Family Grain Mill–Manual                         10:04

Family Grain Mill–Electric                           4:42

Nutrimill–Electric                                       1:10

Wondermill–Electric                                    :35

Family Grain Mill (Convertable–electric and manual)
FGM electric and manual bases

FGM electric and manual bases

Family Grain Mill

Family Grain Mill

Our first mill was the Family Grain Mill (FGM). We had many of the same questions and requirements as many of you.  The primary reason we selected the FGM was because it was a convertible mill–an electric mill with an attachment to make it a manual mill. We wanted a mill to use now to grind wheat to make all of our own bread.  Being practical, I knew that an electric mill would more likely get regular use.  But being a prepper, I also wanted to have a manual mill in the event we have no electricity. It was about the same price for both electric and manual as other single purpose mills.

FGM taken apart

FGM taken apart

The FGM is easy to use, put together, take apart, and clean. This mill can be dismantled to remove and clean the bur which I do occasionally.  The Nutrimill and Wondermill are sealed and should never be taken apart.

FGM grinding flour

FGM grinding flour

The grain hopper holds 5 cups, but you can add more as it grinds. My blue mixing bowl will hold about 5 cups of ground grain.  I use this bowl because the large handle/spout catches some stray flour that falls close to the base.

FGM slicer/grater

FGM slicer/grater

FGM Flaker (rolls oats)

FGM Flaker (rolls oats)

FGM Meat Grinder

FGM Meat Grinder

We also liked the optional attachments including one to roll oats, a meat grinder, and a vegetable slicer/grater.  Since we store whole oats, the flaker (oat roller) gets used frequently.

This mill was my primary grain mill for a long time. One reason is because, unlike the other electric mills, I can use this one to grind flax seeds if they are added to my wheat before grinding for making bread. It is a smaller mill, but holds enough grain at one time to bake two loaves of bread. Unlike the other electric mills, the FGM doesn’t have a container built in to catch the flour.  I use a large mixing bowl.  That is no issue for me and makes it easier to clean.

All the mills have a control to set how fine or course the flour will be.  The FGM doesn’t grind flour quite as fine as the other electrics. I cannot tell the difference once the bread is baked. However, this might be a problem for people who bake a lot of pastries. I have read posts by people who run the flour through the mill for a second milling resulting in finer flour.

The FGM electric doesn’t grind flour as fast as the electric Wondermill and Nutrimill.  My routine is to grind enough Prairie Gold hard white wheat, mixed grains, and flax seeds to bake two loaves of bread at a time.  While the grain is grinding, I can use the time to get everything else ready, measured, and put away.

The FGM can be used to grind dry beans and dent corn for cornmeal to make cornbread or hush puppies.  Beans and corn are hard and will wear down the stainless steel burr resulting in the mill not grinding your wheat and other grains as finely.  We bought a second burr that we use only for beans and corn.   The FGM cannot grind popcorn for making cornmeal because the popcorn is harder and will ruin the burr.

FGM Manual Set Up

FGM Manual Set Up

FGM Manual Base

FGM Manual Base

The manual attachment is easy to use and attaches to a counter or table top with an included clamp.  It grinds fairly easily, although it is much slower than using the electric motor.  It turns without a lot of force.  All of the optional attachments can be used with the manual hand crank. I am happy to have the hand crank available if I lose power, but find having the electric motor a valuable option.

Adapters are available that will allow the FGM and its attachments to be run on mixers such as Kitchenaid and Bosch.

Family Grain Mill Company Website and  Information

Common price for electric base, manual base, and grain mill attachment is about $280. There are many purchasing options including just the manual base and grain mill for a little less than $150.

Wondermill Grain Mill (Electric)
Electric Wondermill

Electric Wondermill

The Wondermill is a very fast, easy to use grain mill.  It has two basic parts–the base and an attached flour canister that can be used for storage with the snap on lid that is included. I use the Wondermill as my primary grain mill.

Wondermill with wheat

Wondermill with wheat

Wondermill grain hopper

Wondermill grain hopper

It will not grind oily seeds, but the Wondermill has handled the grain, dent corn, and popcorn I have put through it. The grain feeds easily.  The larger dent corn and garbanzo beans fit through the feed slot without getting stuck as it did in the Nutrimill.

It is noisier than the FGM, but grinds grain so quickly that it is turned on for a much shorter time. Having a flour canister requires a little more clean-up of the canister and tube.  I brush it out after each use.  The lid on the canister must be firmly snapped into place, or the flour blows out of the canister making a mess. Yes, I learned this from experience. One unique requirement about the Wondermill is that you MUST start the machine BEFORE adding any grain.  Not doing so will damage the machine.

The canister holds about 12 cups of flour.

Wondermill Company Website and Information

Common price for the Wondermill electric mill is about $260.

Nutrimill Grain Mill (Electric)


Nutrimill flour canister

Nutrimill flour canister

Nutrimill flour canister lid

Nutrimill flour canister lid

The Nutrimill is a fast, high volume grain mill.  The flour canister will hold 20 cups of flour versus 12 cups for the Wondermill.  For people with large families, this is a good choice.

The flour canister fits into the bottom of the machine and must be pushed in all the way or flour will blow into the room.

We bought it for a couple of reasons.  We do not have a large family, but we thought it may be useful if the day comes when we may want to bake many loaves of bread or other grain products for barter, neighbors, etc. We also wanted a mill that will grind popcorn which we store. Another advantage to this mill is that it grinds fine flour. My unscientific comparison is that it is the finest flour of the three mills.

Nutrimill with grain feeding into machine

Nutrimill with grain feeding into machine

Nutrimill grain hopper

Nutrimill grain hopper

It is a large machine and loud.  I dislike that larger-sized items such as dent corn and garbanzo beans don’t feed into the grinder well and block the feeder tube going into the machine from the hopper.

Like the Wondermill, it cannot be used to mill oily seeds such as flax.

Nutrimill Company Website and Information

Common price for the Nutrimill right now is $260.

Wonder Junior Deluxe (manual)
Wonder Junior Deluxe

Wonder Junior Deluxe

The Wonder Junior Deluxe is a well-made, versatile manual grain mill.  It comes with both a stone bur for grinding grain as well as a steel bur for grinding oily seeds. It can crack grains or produce pastry fine flour with one pass. It can grind spices, herbs, oily grains (like flax or coffee), and makes nut butters.

I don’t own one of these, but I have seen one demonstrated and operated it.  It takes some effort to turn the handle to grind grain using the stone burs, but works well. It is more difficult to turn than the manual FGM.  An optional pulley attachment allows it to be powered by a bicycle.  There is also a drill bit attachment that works with a drill to power the mill.

There are cheaper manual mills most of which are not well reviewed and cannot perform close to what the Wonder Junior can do.  You could pay double for a manual grain mill that won’t perform any better than this one.

I would prefer to have an electric grain mill for my current day to day grinding needs, but this would be a valuable addition for anyone storing a lot of grains for use when electric power may not be available.

Wonder Junior Deluxe Company Website and Information

The price range for the Wonder Junior Deluxe is $203 to $220