Tag Archives: The Survival Podcast

MSE March Schedule now available

The MSE conference schedule is now available and up on the site. There are several discounts available for the conference.


1. Register early and prepay. 5% off
2. Prepay and register early and get multiple tickets. 10% off
3. Use MSB discount from The Survival Podcast prepay. 15% off
4. Use MSB discount and get multiple tickets prepay. 20% off

MSB registration is $50/yr. You save $60 on MSE conference with registration. You just made $10 by getting the discount, and registering. PLUS you get all the other MSB discounts.




Fodder system

I started my fodder system last night allowing my seeds to soak. I am using wheatgrass. I have pictures and video of the system (nice stacking system for space saving), cost me only the price of the grain $18/50lbs of wheatgrass.


While I am outside, my youngest decided to “help” and poured 15 lbs of seeds into my 5 gal bucket of water. Well I could either throw all the extra away OR have a massive amount of fodder ready at the same time. I chose the 2nd part. I will feed some to the birds early, some when ready, and let it go longer.

In short, I will NOT have pictures and video of what it is SUPPOSED to look like for another 15 days.  What I wanted to show was each phase how it would be rotated and stacked to maximize yield in a small space. Once I run through this batch I will start over and demo the way I wanted, until I had helper monkey put her hands into it.

Until then, check out another way to make your own fodder system outside. This is From jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast.


Here are some pics of the seeds I am starting inside. I have a post and video of it too in time. Getting an early start this year. Again, had to moves these up 5 feet off the ground, because the 2 year old found the broccoli and ate all the sprouts.


Scholarship for the January conference

scholarshipWe are please to announce that we are offering two scholarships to attendees who would like to attend but would otherwise financially be unable to. This was in part due to a pay it forward program that Jack from TSP mentioned in a podcast. There is a link to the podcast on the MSE site. For people who have the means of  setting up a scholarship it has typically been to attend a university. Well lately a degree from a typical university hasn’t gotten you ahead financially like the school recruiters told you it would. Most people just rack up the debt, and end up taking jobs that have nothing to do with their degree or even need a degree for the position. We want to help a few people out where we could. Here are all the details.


January conference just got cheaper!

SaveEveryone, Jack from The Survival Podcast just offered the MSB discount for $30 rather than the usual $50. If you are buying one ticket to the January conference you save $22.50 using the MSB discount PLUS all the MSB other discounts and free stuff. If you are buying 2 tickets you save $60.00 (total 2 tickets x $30.00). You are now DOUBLING your discount for spending the $30 PLUS all the free and discounted stuff from the MSB. If you are on the fence now might be the time to make a decision. The sale is only until December 15th.

Here is the link for the MSB details.


Here is the registration for the January conference.


I was mentioned on The Survival Podcast!

                 Today I was mentioned by name and article on The Survival Podcast an international podcast with over 90,000 listeners. So, today on Episode 1249 at 53 minutes into the show Darby Simpson from Darby Simpson Consulting mentioned an article I had written for our new venture Midwest Sustainable Education Conference. It was about supplementing your livestock feed with things you can produce such as fodder, azolla,  and duckweed. Check out TSP and the Midwest Sustainable Education Conference. Big thanks to Darby for mentioning me on the air.   Who knows, maybe one day I can be the Midwest Permaculture expert counsel for TSP. There is an east coast, a west coast already. Dare to dream right?

If you like the article and other things I have published come take a look at the full day Homesteading class November 23  or the 2 1/2 day permaculture and sustainable agriculture conference in January.

Where to start?

                Many people use the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. Yeah yeah, yeah, we all have heard that. Then a few things that happen recently made me stop and think about it, and where I am at today, where I was five years ago, and where I want to be in another five years. I thought; how to help people when it seems so overwhelming once you get the self sufficiency, permaculture, or general wake up bug.

One day at one of the tours at our suburban property someone asked, how do I do it all, and where did I start? A day or so ago I was praising someone for sharing so much of their knowledge with me, and one of the online forums we both belong to (TSP). Another member pointed out that her posts should be a wakeup call to all those that are not doing as much. This was in reference to just general homesteading tasks, but I took it as a whole and really could be doing much more on a daily basis. Same forum someone asked a really vague and general question. “Where did everyone get started and what are your best resources for permaculture”.

You start one day at a time, one project, and one idea at a time. So you have never grown anything in your life let alone for food, and worse, have to depend on that food you grow.  Start small, a houseplant over the winter in a window. It gives a sense of accomplishment, and bonus helps filter your air in your home. There are lots Aloe in my front windowof hardy plants that can be grown inside. Start out with an aloe plant. It is hardy enough if you forget to water for a few weeks, sometimes months it can still survive. The “leaves” will tell you what is going on. If they wilt, add some water, start turning brown, too much water, too cold, or maybe needs more sun. It has many beneficial food and medicinal properties as stated on an earlier post. After a few months and a large enough pot, you will see “baby” aloe plants. Separate and now you have more. Share with someone, sell them, or give them away.

So now you successfully raise an aloe plant, now what? Try a tomato, or lettuce in a pot or bucket. While tomatoes, at least here in the Midwest will need to wait until spring or


summer, you can grow lettuce the same way as you did your aloe plant over winter. Buy romaine, rather than iceberg lettuce next time you go to the store. When you use it down to the heart, plant it in the same window you had the aloe. It should regrow. It will need more frequent watering, but it is a start. Romaine is healthier than iceberg, and I never get the bagged stuff. It is not as fresh, and will not last as long. If you eat regular salads plant each heart, soon you will have several plants going. After a while you can collect a salad or two a week from your recycled romaine plants. You are now growing your own food.


Here are some other plants you can regrow after you harvest from the store.


Try some other plants, on a balcony, in a window, on a deck. You do not need to jump right into turning your yard into a garden. Often people feel overwhelmed by trying to do EVERYTHIGN they read about all at once. Remember one step at a time. Build on each new skill you learn.

Here is another quick win. Do you shred your junk mail and other documents you get in the mail before putting them in the garbage? If not you should. Buy a micro shredder. It is harder for crooks to put your information back together from the garbage. OK, ok, what does this have to do with permaculture. Great tip but what gives? Shred your paper waste, no glossy materials i.e. magazines, and some inserts and flyers. Use the shreds to start a worm composter. What? Don’t they smell? Not at all if done right. The paper acts as bedding to the worms, and they will eventually eat it too as it starts to break down. Get a bucket, tub, trashcan, anything that will hold soil and the worms. It could be as small as a 1 gal ice cream bucket (plastic) to 55 gal barrel or bigger. If you must have a lid on your bin add air holes in the top. Add compost material to your bin, (no dairy, meat, or fats this makes it smell) along with a little soil, some red wiggler worms, then cover with the shredded paper and walk away. It needs to have a little moisture, think damp not wet. In a few weeks the worms turn your food and junk mail waste into rich compost. You can add this black gold back to your lettuce garden. It will give back added nutrients and boost your soil for the plants. If you cook pasta or steam vegetables, water your lettuce with the water once it has cooled. No need to send it down the drain. That is some great fertilizer for plants. Looking for where to get worms locally? Keith at Castaway Compost where I got mine to start. Don’t look now; you have just become an organic gardener. Seems small right? But small steps can complete a marathon.

We use something like this. We paid a little bit extra to get one that would handle 8+ sheets at a time. $60. We also shred all cardboard, paperboard, newspaper, office paper etc.

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Here is one of our bins

photo 1

Pull back the paper, and black gold with tons of worms.

photo 2

Feeling accomplished? Try an aquaponics basic indoor system. It really is pretty simple, and can be accomplished for under $50. In just a few months you have gone from never growing anything to an organic gardener producing at least some of your own food. Let’s call this post Step One. Step Two, grow a salad with cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots and spinach then top it off with homemade croutons and homemade dressing.  No yard, no problem. If you are on Step One, or going to start Step One, do it over the winter. Most people hibernate here in the Midwest anyway, might as well pick up a new skill. January is the time to start Step Two. Do what? It is the middle of winter in the Midwest. Stay tuned and I will fill you in.

Do you know someone who wants to get started but doesn’t know where to start? Share this post with them.

Homesteading – How did we get here?

        Today I hosted some good folks from the communist state of Illinois. I gave them the outdoor tour and talked about what we have done and where we are going. How we got where we are today and lessons learned along the way. They made the comment we are just getting started and wanting to learn more. I remember being there several years ago. It made me think to when we got started to where we are today.

         Many people look at what we are doing on our 0.2 acre suburbia homestead and think we are so far ahead of the game. I see it as the opposite. I see how much more I have to do. I look back when we bought this place and think how it has evolved, how we have evolved. The one common denominator was it didn’t happen overnight.

                I wasn’t always homestead minded. I once was one of the sheeple following the next person in line. Buying, consuming, and spending. I got hooked from listening to The Survival Podcast. It isn’t the doom and gloom, doomsday prepper, and militia. It is a lot of common sense, and I have learned quite a bit just from having it on in the background.

                The bushels of pears and apples ripening on the trees didn’t just come with the property. We planted them. One tree at a time. We used to buy in spring when everyone had them in the box stores or the 1 year old seedling from the catalogs. Now we trade, start our own, grafts, and buy on clearance or end of season at 50% off or better. We learned there was a better more cost effective way. We learned the hard way and bought full price trees before we learned there is a better way.

                We make our own laundry soap. We just recently started this. $0.02/load vs. $1.00 load does add up. It was a learning process. Rather than use the dryer we are line drying our clothes. This alone cut our eclectic bill in ½ . From March-November I know we will not use it, and if all goes well will not use it again. “So what do you do when it is raining or snowing, or freezing outside?” Either don’t do laundry or hang in our garage. We don’t park in our garage. It is for storage, workout area, and a play area for the kids when it is raining outside. For the cost of a few feet of paracord I have two lines in my garage.

Here is a picture in our garage.

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 Here is one where I turned the pergola into a clothesline.


                The strawberry groundcover didn’t happen overnight. It took time and planting. Now we get to enjoy fresh strawberries, chemical free, organically grown, and well free year after year.

                You can start at any time, and start small. You do not have to do everything at once. When it came to canning I started with one package of jars, one pot, and tome tomatoes out of my garden. I now have 500+ jars accumulated from family, craigslist, and goodwill. My next step is to get the reusable lids.

                We have boxes of dehydrated foods from our garden and grocery deals. It didn’t happen overnight. We found our dehydrator in a family members storage unit. Started with a few herbs, after gaining success and learning the skill, we now will dehydrate shrimp, eggs, and make jerky.

                I remember when I first started learning about homesteading and preparedness I was overwhelmed by all that I thought I needed to do overnight. I had lists, schedule, priority of items. What I once thought was the top most important item has since fallen to low or no importance. There is no golden book or plan to follow. Waking up and becoming more aware is the best tip I can give. Your bran, the knowledge you learn, the experiences is what is key. I have made many failures for any success. I never consider them failures, but more a lesson on what not to do the next time, or how could I have made it better.

                Start small, but start today. Challenge yourself to learn something new each week, or a goal each month for prepare and grow your homestead. It could be planting a fruit tree, or reading a book on canning, or try a new more sustainable food on your next trip to the grocery. We tried goat and were pleasantly surprised.  When I look back we have come a long way, and I have learned so much more than I did 5 years ago. I learn something new almost each day. For instance I have 24 more hours of new permaculture videos Geoff Lawton just posted as part of my class. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Get your own homestead in order by one thing at a time. What helped and scared me was when I made lists of all I wanted to do and get accomplish. Some are low hanging fruit, and easily completed. But seeing it all there on a list made it more manageable and easier to grasp. Putting in out poly tote rainbarrel seemed overwhelming, and I kept putting it off. It took less than 30 min.


One more thing to check off my list.  What can you cross off your list today? This week? This month?

What is your time worth?

I was recently giving a class on ways to save money. One was to change your own oil. Granted it is cheaper to do it yourself, but what is your labor worth? What could you be doing instead? I am frugal and hate to spend money on things I can do myself but, some things are worth it.
When I look at a billable rate for consulting $50 an hour, and changing my oil would take several hours. By the time I get supplies, elevate the cars, change the oil, clean up I am looking at $150 in my time. I can take it to the guys at Car-X down the road from me and for $18 it is done in about 30 min. Jason and the guys down there are awesome. Super professional, and excellent customer service. Did I really save any money by doing it myself? I could have been consulting, or working on my own farm, finishing the projects around the house.
I think it is wise to look at many other services and features that must be evaluated. Mowing the grass for example. I detest mowing and of having a lawn in the first place. But it literally takes 7 min to mow my entire grass. Granted the chickens take care of the back yard, and now with landscaping and productive areas in the front we don’t have much of a lawn. In this case I can mow rather than pay someone.
Childcare is another place. We realized this summer it was more expensive to send our 4 kids to child care while I worked than it was for me to stay at home. We would have been dipping into savings each week they went somewhere. This gave me the opportunity to finish classes, work on our homestead, work on The Farm, and spend more time with them. When the wife comes home we can spend quality family time together. Before, it was pick everyone up, get home, get dinner started, dishes, baths, laundry and usually bed. Now dishes, laundry, and dinner are all ready when she comes home. We can eat, relax together, and enjoy our time rather than trying to rush around and get all the chores done.
We like to make and build much of our own items. For example I am making beds for our older girls. They seem to have outgrown bunk beds. Could I buy them, probably, would it be cheaper, probably, but it will be built to last and they can customize it however they like. Most items purchased today are disposable. From houses, to cars, to even beds. Nothing is built to last anymore. And if you buy well built items it cost an arm and a leg, why, because it is usually worth it. If you think how many items you have to replace because it is cheaper to buy new than repair, then how many times you have replaced it. Would it have been worth it to buy the better made item in the first place?
Someone, and I want to say it was Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast, but not for sure, that money is essentially a way to represent time. The time you worked, the time you used something, the time it took to make something, the time it took to mine the resources for the manufactured item. When you put money in terms of time then, how valuable is your time. College educated people or highly skilled trades get paid higher because of the time dedicated in schooling, or education and mastery of their trade. After being a stay at home dad this summer, I have a new appreciation for what my time is worth.

Money Matters Moment – Laundry

I have decided to post as regularly as I can ways to cuts costs and save money. The savings can be put towards other endeavors, such as getting out of debt, buying property, investments on the farm or homestead, or just making a buck stretch further.

Laundry is something that most of us have to do regularly. Some people take the laundry to be done elsewhere, some do it themselves, and some expect you to do it for them (kids). Not at our house. Eight years old and older do their own laundry. This was the result of picking out clothes and throwing in the laundry basket for us to wash, even though it was not dirty.

Wash your own – I used to take my dress clothes to someone to launder them and press them. I liked the nice creases. I was never taught how to use an iron, and after working in a drycleaner, I learned. It is not difficult. I actually found it somewhat relaxing. I would Iron my dress pants, and dress shirts. It would save me about $40 a week. I added to this by either watching a video while ironing or listening to a podcast. There are tons of free podcasts and videos available online to extend your education. I bought a used iron ad Goodwill for $5. I made my own ironing board out of scrap lumber and material remnants from a fabric store. $40/week x 52 weeks $2,080/yr saved. You can buy a used car for that!

Buy used –  After ironing much of my dress ware I had one favorite pair of pants. Wrinkle free Dockers. You could wash and dry and there was no need to iron. I wanted a few extra pairs, but wasn’t about to pay upwards of $40 a pair. Back to good will. It took me a few visits over a month but I found 6 more pairs for $4 each and sometimes $2 each when it was color of the day. Another $200 saved.

Line dry your clothes – Back in the day no one had electric or gas clothes dryers. It was hung out on a line. Remember movies, pictures from the 40’s and 50’s. EVERYONE had a clothes line in their back yard, balcony or apartment window. When doing some energy research I found the electric dryer was one of the most power hungry appliances. It is also a huge vampire drain on electricity. That is when an appliance draws energy whether it is on or not. Additionally, it made the whole house heat up. Now that we are in summer the AC was battling the dryer and both making the electric meter spin. We now line dry all our laundry. There are several added bonuses. If I were still wearing dress clothes, line drying removes much of the wrinkles, so less ironing. The AC works less keeping the house cool. The dryer has been unplugged, and no more vampire energy drains.

Get a vent switch for the dryer – This may be contrary to the above tip, but in winter months we vent our dryer exhaust into the house. When it is too cold outside to dry clothes effectively, usually winter months, we have a leaver that allows us to vent the moist warm air into the house. In winter here, the air can be quite dry. By venting into the house we add the needed moisture, and retain the otherwise wasted heat that was vented to the outside. You can get one at most home improvement stores for around $10.

Make your own laundry soap – I was a bit skeptical about this. But it is how it was done again in the old days.  I read about this in an online form (The Survival Podcast) and decided to give it a try. The ingredients are simple and used to be hard to find until more and more people started doing this. The recipes vary and you can experiment based on family laundry needs and what is in your water. 1 bar of soap (we use naphtha), washing soda, and borax. That is it. No harsh chemicals or dyes, or fragrances. Remember I said out 11 year olds do their own laundry? It is so simple that make their own soap too. I will post more on the DIY post soon.   This recipe allows me to do a load of laundry for about $0.02/load. We only wash in cold water, and have an energy efficient washer. The soap can be used in top, front, and high efficiency washers. Two of my kids and myself have somewhat sensitive skin and we were limited to a handful of laundry soaps or our skin would break out. No ill effects since switching. We also started to notice that once we started eliminating extra chemicals from our lives our skin clear up, we could smell things much better, we seem to feel better. Here is the recipe.

Wear more than once – This may not be for everyone, but if our clothes are not dirty, and we didn’t work and sweat in them, we will wear them again. Sometimes it is a lazy day and we just hang out at the homestead, inside and take it easy. No need to do a load of laundry. When I worked in a cube all day, I sat at my desk. No need to wash something that wasn’t soiled.

Next Money Mattes Moment I will focus on the bathroom.  Lots to save there.


Permaculture, What is it anyway?

Permaculture in my opinion is landscaping and designing property or a homestead, working with the environment, with system that already exist, for an optimal sustainable output.

There is no way I could explain permaculture in one blog post or a combination of posts. There are so much better teachers and information already out there. Instead I can tell you how discovered permaculture, then my take on each of the sources, and how I apply some of the teachings.
First I googeled the term when I first heard it. Here is the wiki link for permaculture.

I was turned on to permaculture idea about a year ago from listening to Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast (TSP). Here are the tagged episodes and blog posts from his site. Jack spoke of Geoff Lawton and had him on several episodes. Recently Geoff offered an online version of his course, and being a Member Support Brigade (discount program through TSP)

Currently I am taking Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture who took over for Bill Molison one of the founders of the permaculture education. Bill’s book Permaculture Design manual is a massive source of information and while taking the course I got the book at a discount. While at Geoff’s site be sure to check out the micro gardening. You have to register each time you go to the site. He does not, will not, sell e-mail address. The only thing I have ever gotten from Geoff is an announcement when a new video is out. No spam increase at all.

Through Jack and the TSP I found Paul Wheaton from Permies and Rich Soil. Paul is a little out there at times, but I take what I want from his podcast and forums. I get good nuggets of information here and there.

From Paul I got turned onto Sepp Holzer and his books. Sepp doesn’t speak English so watching his videos are difficult if there are any. His book has quite a bit of information.
Also through Jack I found Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms. Joel manages a variety of animals without hormones, antibiotics, and rotates his animals in a fashion that is sustainable and more productive than currently used practices. Joel has more than one book, so here is the selection.

While I am on a suburban lot of only 0.2 acres the information I got from Joel was good for consulting purposes and my future homestead when we are able to get more land.

Again through Jack I found Darby Simpson who is local and is literally the next town over. I have gotten to speak to Darby several times, and met in person at our local farmers markets. He runs a consulting business and has a family farm managed in the style of Joel Salatin. Joel is big time, and chance of my asking him a question is slim. Darby is local, same climate and environment, and knows the area and markets. This information has been key for me. He has enlightened me to the ins and outs, rules, regulations of local farming, farmers markets, and networking.

I have blended bits and pieces from all of these sources. I own several of the books, videos, visit the blogs, forums, and online videos often. I wish I had discovered some of these sources before we started designing our suburban lot, but we are constantly evolving it as we learn more and what works and what doesn’t. The principals were the key factor. We rarely have to water our gardens thanks to what Geoff, and Paul have taught us. We free range our chickens so we learned that anything we want to grow, from medicinal herbs to veggies have to be protected from the ravenous hoard. They eat EVERYTHING. If they don’t eat it they scratch around it killing the plant. We tried keeping the birds in a run, but they were just unhappy. With a six foot privacy fence we have never had one want to escape. In the last two years I feel I have learned more than I had in the previous 20 about gardening, the environment, land management, homesteading, self sufficiency, and the value of producing your own food. I can help on your own piece of land whether it be an apartment to acreage. Information is available on the consulting tab or use the contact us page.