Tools and Resources
Check out these top-rated tools and resources to help you set up your homestead and live more self-sufficiently.
1 Week of Emergency Food: Unlike most of the preparedness bloggers out there, I actually DON’T recommend that you load up on 6 months of the commercial dehydrated “food storage.” However, I do think it’s a good idea to have 1-2 weeks of these easy-to-prepare entrees per person. Why? They are PERFECT for your family’s bug out bags. Simply add hot water to the contents of the pouch, and you’re done. They are extremely light, and take up hardly any room in your bag.
Long Term Food Storage Guide: This beautifully designed guide combines the collective wisdom of 31 of the leading experts on food storage and preparedness to take you on a step-by-step journey through the ENTIRE process. Planning how much food your family needs, budgeting for your food storage, creating the space you need to store it, which kinds of food should your family store, balanced nutrition in food storage, cooking, couponing, rotating, preserving your own food, and much more. If you are stuck or looking for ideas to jump-start your food storage, this is HANDS DOWN the guide.
Growing Your Own Groceries Video Course: This course is not some pretty little, color-corrected, feel-good training. It’s not about growing ornamentals or making your yard look like something from Better Homes and Gardens. What it is however, is a raw and EXTREMELY real look at what it’s like to produce the calories your family needs. You’re going to see weeds, poop, and even a rabbit slaughtered and butchered right before you on camera (warning: that part gets bloody and is not recommended for the faint of heart). In this series, Marjory systematically covers how she feeds her family with gardening, chickens, rabbits, rainwater harvesting and more. I purchased this in the summer of 2015, and even as somebody who has gardened for multiple years and is a certified permaculture designer, still got a lot out of it (particularly with the planning and logistics component of creating a serious survival garden). Highly recommended.
Keep Bees and Easily Harvest Honey with the Flow Hive: The Flow Hive was introduced to the world in the Spring of 2014, and revolutionized the beekeeping world. This well-thought out hive allows the beekeeper to monitor the activity, health, and honey production of the hive without disturbing them. And even better, it also allows you to extract honey by the turn of a “tap.” No more smokers, spinners, mess, and all day honey ventures. See the video of how it works here.
Excalibur Dehydrator: This puppy is the Rolls Royce of food dehydrators. Quick and even drying, it can handle vegetables, herbs, or meat. It can also be used to dry pasta, make yogurt, cheese, dry nuts, or raise bread.
55-Gallon Drum: Ol’ Blue!! This is the quintessential water storage container. Durable and inexpensive, these are one of the easiest ways to get started and make a sizeable dent in your water storage. They come with an simple hand pump that works great for extracting the water.
Water BOB: The Water BOB is a great prep for last minute water storage. With just a few minutes notice, the Water BOB can be deployed in your bathtub and filled with potable water. While you may not always have the luxury of a few extra minutes, it doesn’t hurt to keep one or 2 of these on hand for your bathtubs. Holds 100 gallons.
Rainwater collection: With a simple downspout diverter, these 55-gallon containers allow you to easily capture your water runoff and store it for later. I have 2 of them at my house. They come with an overflow hose and a valve at the top, so you can either connect barrels in circuit or divert the overflow to a better location.
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Aquamira Frontier Pro Water Filter (for Your Bug Out Bag): This inexpensive filter gets my award for versatility. Its threaded end allows it to screw directly on to a water bottle, hose bib, hot water heater and more. If that’s not what you’re looking for, it also works with your Camelback hose, gravity fed water storage bladders, and even has a straw attachment that allows you to drink directly from a river or other source of your choosing.
Big Berkey Water Filter: The Berkey line of water filters are legendary for their ability to filter out all kinds of impurities and toxins. They have been tested again and again, and never disappointed. All around the web, you will find all kinds of people repeating the same thing over and over–they LOVE their Berkey. I am no exception to this–my wife and I got ours at the beginning of 2015, and have used it as much as we can since that time. In addition to getting our drinking water from it, we use it to make ice, to make baby bottles, in cooking, watering the dog and more! Our household has 2 adults and 2 small children, and we end up filling it roughly every 2 days. If your household is any bigger, I would definitely recommend getting the next size up, which is the Royal Berkey.
Debit Card Envelope Budget (Electronic version of Dave Ramsey’s Envelope Budget): A budget is one of the most critical tools you will use in becoming self sufficient. This nifty budget allows you to divide up your actual checking account into “envelopes” to be used for a specific purpose, and then spent from using just 1 debit card. Very slick. No more need to carry around a million envelopes and cash. Complete details on how it works here.
Read These 25 Case Studies of People’s $1,000 a month side businesses (and get the monthly 1k course!): There are a million and one books and articles on how to make money (and not surprisingly, many of the people trying to teach you about making money are only making money themselves because you have paid them for the training on making money.) So why this one? Because this one if focused squarely on the 1st crank of the flywheel. Square one. Ignition. When you are trying to generate your first few dollars on your own, you don’t need a “million dollar business idea”, what you need is an EXECUTABLE thousand dollar business. That’s what this course is all about. Getting you out of the gate with your very first few dollars. It helps you cut away all the fluff (logos, workspaces, business cards, elaborate plans, funding, employees, slogans, partnership opportunities), and get straight to the meat–validating whether you have an idea that people will actually pay money for, and making your first sale.
Backup Battery: This compact unit offers guaranteed battery backup and surge protection for critical electronics–computers, networks, your modem, and more. In my house, we use this to backup emergency medical devices that my kids need. Plug your devices into this unit, plug the unit into the wall, and boom. Battery backup. They come in 700, 1000, 1300, and 1500 volt sizes.
800 Watt Car Inverter: A car inverter like this is inexpensive, and can power the critical components of your home while you have gas in your tank. Simply hook it to the battery terminals, and draw the wattage you need. The load is obviously limited, and as I say, you’re not going to be able to power a rock concert with it, but at 800 Watts, it will give you lights, radio, tv, computers, and possibly a microwave or refrigerator at least intermittently. Well worth it.
10,000 Watt Generator: If you have the means, getting a generator is a big step up from a car inverter (although considerably more expensive). A 10,000 watt generator like this will allow you to power nearly everything in a typical household. This generator comes with both 120 and 240v outlets, so you can run things like electric stoves, washing machines, dryers, and heavy duty tools.
YOUR OFF GRID HOUSE
Mr. Heater Buddy Heater: This compact heater runs on propane, but it INDOOR SAFE! If you are looking for a sensible, low-cost source of backup heat, this is an extremely smart way to do it. The supply nozzle on it can interface directly with small 1-pound propane cylinders, or attach to the hose of a larger cylinder. They are easy to ignite, and come standard with a low-oxygen shutoff sensor. When I rented a basement apartment and wasn’t able to make wholesale improvements to the home, I got one of these and a few fuel cylinders as a last resort source of backup heat.
WHAT I USE TO RUN Homestead Launch
The Divi Theme: For years I limped along using “one-off” themes, until the developer quit updating them and things started breaking. When this happens, it’s not only frustrating and time-consuming, but it also makes you look really unprofessional. Then in 2015, I found Divi. There are 2 reasons why Divi is THE BEST solution for anyone who’s serious about their content: First, The Divi Theme provides you with a no-hassle, “drag and drop” way to present the content on your website. Want 4 columns? No problem. Want 3 underneath? It’s a cinch. If you can dream up the layout, Divi can handle it. And then if this weren’t enough, it also includes a “theme customizer” that gives you further control over the design elements of your site, AND a real-time preview as it’s happening. With the click of a mouse, you can change font types, sizes, colors, sidebar widths, margins, gutters, background images, and tons more. Watch it happening before you even click save, so you can be sure you like it. If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, check out more of the details and layout styles here.
Canon Vixia: This humble little camcorder has gone with me on tons of adventures, and is the primary shooter for the videos I upload. Durable and easy to use, it shoots great picture, can be connected with an external microphone for additional quality, and features a viewing screen that flips around so you can frame yourself up nicely if you’re filming yourself.
Canon DSLR: The camera that I use to shoot some of my nicer videos is the Canon T3i. It actually stopped being manufactured a while back (that should tell me it’s time for an upgrade right?), but it is still a great camera with a fantastic picture.
Go Pro Hero 3 Black: While the GoPro Hero 3 Black is no longer the top of the line camera being offered by GoPro, it is still very good. Comes with a remote, and takes a really good picture. For being outdoors and on the go, there is no camera that takes a more interesting “run and gun” style video. These puppies are getting less expensive all the time!