Live From 8200

A compilation of life, writing and other occurences that come up from day to day.

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Learning Basic Skills

When people talk about prepping for survival, you usually hear about purchasing guns and lots of ammunition in case of emergency.  You may need to protect your family or utilize the skills involved in gun use for feeding yourself and your family.  That is very true and a good idea to incorporate into a survival situation, but it seems that many people overlook the necessity of having knowledge of  basic skills once the initial SHTF situation occurs.  If you survive the originating calamity, whatever that may be, you will still need to learn basic day-to-day survival skills.

What are the most important skills that you need to learn for long-term survival?  We know that there are basic skills that anyone who wants to survive independently will need to know and develop. What each person considers to be the most important skills however,  will vary widely from one person to the next.  What is important to you and your family may be very different from the skills your next door neighbor would find important.  When looking at both survival and homesteading skills, I tend to follow the three important life needs to determine for myself and my family what would be the best skills to focus on first.  The three most important needs for survival are water, food and shelter.  You can learn many skills based on those three things, and just looking at those three will help you determine where you need to be to survive as well as what you need to know and learn.

In future articles, I will delve into skills that can be built in each of these areas.  Right now I would just like you to think about what would be the most important skills to start learning first.  For each survival area, you will also want to make sure you have tools and supplies in your homesteading arsenal to learn the skills you will need, and to have the ability to replenish supplies as you need to over time.  We are looking at day-to-day survival here, not bugging out.  Hopefully, if you are bugging out, you will be able to get somewhere that is safe, secure and also has the possibility of being able to become a working homestead instead of just a temporary hideout spot.

I will begin this series in the next article with the subject of water.  This is a very important survival area to begin with.  We can survive much longer without food than we can without water.  This alone makes water and its’ availability top priority in both a survival and a homesteading situation.  My challenge to you this week is to find out all you can about how to obtain and make water safe to drink and use in all of your survival and homesteading tasks.  Just grabbing some water out of a nearby stream and using may not be your best option.  More on all of this later, in the meantime enjoy your week, keep preparing for survival the best way you can and have fun doing it!


Carrie Ann



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Emergency Preparedness: How Ready Are You?


Basic Sewing Skills

Nothing makes you realize how prepared you are for an emergency better than having an actual emergency.  If a real emergency hit you today, would you be ready for it?  Are you sure?  What are your plans in the worst case scenario?  Sometimes life has a way to show you whether you could make it through or not, and it doesn’t have to be a huge natural disaster to consider it an emergency either.  Sometimes the daily decisions we make are enough to create your own emergency.  How prepared are you to deal with something like that?

We have always ‘put away’ food and supplies ‘just in case’.  The reasoning behind our preparedness was never much more than because of the region we live in.  Winters can get bad out here some years and you may not be able to leave your home for a week at a time if the weather gets really dismal.  That being said, we never really had a goal for much more than a weeks worth of supplies in the house to get us through a storm.  Not really what I would call preparedness for an emergency.  Of course, a week is longer than the suggested three day supply, so maybe we weren’t doing so bad with a weeks’ worth of planning after all.

Recently, our preparedness has really been put to the test.  I’m happy to say that the supplies we did have put back have lasted much longer than the week we usually prepare for.  We have never been able to put back the three months worth of emergency funding that you should have, and I have regretted that horribly of late.  Once I am able, that is one of the first things I am going to be putting into play.  Big advice here for you…pay attention here….that three months of emergency funding is drastically important no matter what the emergency is!  If you don’t have that now….go build it!  Start today!

The rest of the food and supplies we had put back lasted us not three weeks, but much longer and still going strong.  I will start working on building our supplies back up again, but with what we have had to use I am still very happy with what we put up.  What a blessing they have been through tough times.  Just make sure you put back things you will eat and that you like. If you’ve got a bunch of food in there that you can’t stand, it really doesn’t help you much.

Being able to have those homesteading skills are also very helpful in some situations and can save you a ton of money as well.  Try learning a few of them now, before any kind of emergency hits you.  You will be glad you did.  Basic cooking from scratch and sewing skills are a lifesaver in an emergency situation.  Another tip that I found to be extremely helpful is to gather non-electrical appliances so you can use them if your electricity is out.  We have these throughout our home, again more because of winter storms, but I’ve been so glad we had them throughout many situations.

Included in this list is a washboard to wash clothes with when needed.  A hand mill to make flour to cook with (I’ve used mine for wheat, barley, oats etc.), a hand meat grinder which I use for many  things than as well as meat.   A non-electric can opener is a must, and not thought of much until the day you find out you need it.  A camping coffee percolator is a godsend to be able to continue to have your morning coffee.  Lighting shouldn’t be forgotten either.  There are probably quite a few more things that would be extremely helpful in emergency situations, but these are the top ones that I use.

Are you completely prepared if something happens in your family?  Do you already have your emergency fund put up?  How long can you live comfortably without utilities?  Do you have any tips that the rest of us would appreciate?  I would love to hear about them.  Let me know in the comments section below and have a wonderful week!


Carrie Ann

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Family Heirlooms


I’ve been thinking a lot about family heirlooms lately. The teacup in the photo was passed on to me by my mother-in-law. Someday it will go to one of my daughters along with my teapot collection that was passed down to me by my mother. I had not realized how many heirlooms I have received that I will pass on when the time comes. There are so many memories in each item that has been passed down through my family, and the items do not only include tea sets.

Our family heirlooms consist of everything from musical instruments and sewing machines to jewelry and ancient coins. The most difficult part of heirlooms is that at some point they will have to be handed down to further generations. Deciding which children get which heirlooms will be the most difficult thing to decide. I suppose this would not be hard for someone who chose to have only one child, but we did not do that. I have two daughters and one son. We also have to think about spouses of the children as well. I want to make sure they all have something to pass down to their own children, just as my parents and grandparents did.

Maybe I am still too young to be thinking about these things, but anything can happen at any point in time. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, no matter what our age. If the heirlooms are figured out before anything were to happen, even if that isn’t until I’m one hundred, I will sure feel better about it. I hadn’t thought too much on the subject, but my own mother has been making sure things are passed to those she wants them passed to now. She has decided she would rather everyone was able to enjoy the things she passed on to us while she is still here.

I think I may do the same. I would love to see the kids and grandbabies enjoy the family heirlooms long before I leave the earth if possible. I’m sure they would enjoy having them just as much whether I am gone or not. I have discussed a few things with the girls about some of the heirlooms that will be passed on, but not too many of them yet. I think I will sit down with pen and paper and figure out the best way to distribute them to the children. In the meantime, I think I will hold onto those items and family memories a while longer before passing them down.

-Carrie A. Watson

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There is Nothing Like a Warm Fire

Winter Fire

Ever since we moved to the mountains twenty-one years ago, we have used wood to heat our home. While I realize that there are more practical ways to keep your home warm, I don’t think anything comes close to the comfort of a fire in the winter. There have been a few stretches of time that we used heaters to heat our home, but they were rather short-lived. The wood stove has proven to be much more reliable and safe than the heaters that we had used. After so many years of burning wood, I find it difficult to feel comfortable without the sound of the wood cracking in the fireplace.

The children probably have a lot of memories of keeping warm in the winter with the wood stove. They would often help out by gathering kindling and firewood on cold days so we could keep the fire going. Even if the day warmed up a little, you didn’t want the fire to go out completely. A cold stove is much more difficult to start than a stove that is already warm. We also used to have the children go and sit by the fire right out of the bathtub when they were little. When the weather got really cold we would all gather around the fire together to keep warm.

Our little wood stove has provided many other services for us over the years as well. When the electricity would go out from a storm, we would make sure that there was plenty of wood for the stove and wouldn’t have to worry through the blackout. Often we would get a large pan and melt snow on the stove to provide water. This is necessary in the area we live because we have a well. That means that if the electricity goes out, you have no water. Being able to have that pan of water on the stove has been a life saver more than once.

Our stove has also provided us with meals during those winter blackouts, too. There is nothing like being able to pull out a cast iron frying pan and cooking a steak and some eggs on the wood stove to feed the family. You just don’t experience something like that every day. Over the years, I have even made soap and candles on the stove. (This was actually very recently). Last November, we even used our fireplace to cook our Thanksgiving dinner. And yes, it did turn out well.

I think there are only a few things that would be considered a ‘down side’ of burning wood to heat your home. First of all, it takes a lot of work. A lot more than you would think. Wood has to be found, cut, split and given time to dry a bit before it will make a good fire. You also need to know what kinds of wood works best during the day, and which ones will keep you warm for most of the night as well. There is also the need to keep the stove pipe clean. The risk of a house fire is much higher if the stove is not well taken care of. Oh, and the mess. I have to put that in for everyone who has to do any kind of housecleaning. They are messy, very messy, and you will be dusting much more often than you normally would.

Even with the more difficult aspects of wood burning, I think it is the best option for us. I would not want to return to a heating system if I could help it. I love falling asleep to the sound of the crackling wood, to the smell of the fire as it starts, and to the warmth throughout the house. It’s just not the same with anything else.

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Family Activities in Winter


Winter brings so many comforting things each year. Fires, fluffy comforters, good books and cups of hot chocolate are just some of them. While it’s very tempting to stay inside and enjoy the more comfortable side of winter, there are so many activities waiting for anyone who decides to venture outdoors for a while.

If you are in an area that is warm year round, wandering outdoors in winter and getting involved in any activity is probably not something you worry too much about. I live in an area that enjoys all four seasons of the year, so activities tend to change with the weather. In the winter there are so many wonderful options for those brave enough to head out. I started this blog with a picture of a snowman. This is probably one of the first activities I think about when talking about winter family fun. I think everyone should get a chance to build a snowman with their children or grandchildren at least once a year.

There are many adventurous activities in winter for families that are inclined to try something more exciting. Skiing comes to mind as well as snowboarding and ice skating. Any of these will most likely be a much more involved outing requiring some planning if the whole family will be included. When my children were younger the school they attended in our little town had a program for the students to go together on ski and snow boarding trips every month or so. Check with your school system to see if this may be available in your area. In the mountains another big winter activity is horseback riding through the snow. Unless you own your own horses, this will be another planned event. Perhaps your family is more inclined to own a snowmobile. If so, that would be a wonderful way to spend the winter days with your family.

If you live in or are able to visit some well known winter regions, you may even be able to embark on more unusual winter activities like dog sledding. That’s one I think would be fun to try some day if the opportunity presents itself. But even with all the more adventurous or unusual activities like these, we can’t forget more simple outings we can have with our families. Everyday winter activities that would be easy to get out and enjoy on a crisp winter day include snowball fights and sledding. We would take the kids out to the side of our mountain during the winters when they were small so they could enjoy these simple activities with us. Every now and again, we would even be able to get the family dog to sled down the hill as well.

Family winter activities bring back so many wonderful memories. If you have young children now, make sure you are able to spend a few winter days with your kids enjoying the wonder of the season together. It will make memories for all of you that will last a lifetime. And don’t forget to build that snowman!