13 Homesteading Garden Tips – How To Start A Home Vegetable Garden

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately asking for advice for preppers wanting to get into growing their own vegetables, on route to becoming self sufficient, healthy  and prepared. It’s not easy but if I can do it then surely you can too. Here are some of my favorite tips to get you started. Feel free to add your own in the comments box below:

* I think the first rule for anyone starting out with a homesteading garden is to focus on growing only what you intend to eat. There is little point growing tomatoes if your entire family does not like them!

* Know what will grow in your location – starting a homesteading garden in say the South West you can probably get away with a lot broader varieties of fruits and vegetables than you can say starting your gardening in South Dakota – where of course you will need to focus on my robust vegetables and legumes (beans)

* Having a successful homesteading garden takes effort at first and accept that there will be a learn curve. The first year my family started pretty much everything but our tomato crops failed. learn from your mistakes and accept that it will take time to get good at this

* It is wise to start with a limited run of vegetables and scale up over time. A small well cared garden when you are starting out will yield better results than a large one given less focus and attention

* Once you narrow down what plats you want to start with its best to invest in non hybrid seeds. Non Hybrid seed (often called Heirloom seed as well) is seed that has been naturally pollinated – this difference between this and hybrid seeds is hybrid seeds lack nutrition in the final fruit or vegetables and you cannot save the seeds from these plats to be used again in next seasons garden

* If you have a limited amount of space for your garden look into “container gardening” You can plant your veggies on your balcony, deck or patio using this method. Containers also make it easier for you to control the soil, light, water and fertilizer.

* Again if you are limited in the amount of space you have for your garden you way want to investigate vertical gardening – using trellis’s to grow crops up not sideways The best plants for vertical gardening are Peas, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Asparagus pumpkins and sweet potatoes. You can even buy prepackaged “grow walls” at many home and garden centers now!

* For those who still live a city you can get your start right on your own balcony start with herbs, the best ones to start with oregano, parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, dill and some smaller vergetables like cherry tomatoes and peppers.If you choose to plant cucumbers they will each need their own pot so that they are not overcrowded.

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* Consider putting wire over your veggies to stop your pets digging in your vegetable gardens, my dogs love to dig in the toiled soil,especially when its hot.

* Look into “companion planting – Its about how certain plants can protect each other from pests and diseases, if done right you can get away with using no pesticides on your plants. There is a book i cannot recommend enough called “”Carrots love Tomatoes”

* If you cannot get companion planting to work for you please look into organic alternatives to pesticides to keep bugs and other predators off your plants – its just not wise to dowse the vegetables you plan to eat with such toxic chemicals!

* Once you get into your second year of homestead gardening make sure you rotate your crops, so that you do not deplete the nutritional value of your soil (which happens when you plant the same crops in the same soil year after year) So don’t plant the same plants in the same spot year in year out.

* Consider canning. Its  a great way to make your vegetables last the winter months and its easy to do. Easy but not the cheapest, however you cannot put a price on knowing exactly what is in your jars! There is something deeply fulfilling about preserving fresh food for later.

Once you spend some time on your garden and start to see results you will never go back to store bought veggies again!

Revolvers versus pistols – which do you prefer?

We had so much feedback on our recent blog post on Ak47s versus Ar15s that we thought it would be cool to do a piece covering the pros and cons of revolvers versus pistols. While I own a couple of each, this blog post is going to cover the pros of adding a couple of revolvers to your personal arsenal especially now before the cost of owning a quality one goes through the roof.

Personally I think a revolver makes a great “nightstand gun” perfect for a middle of the night home invasion type scenario. I think the average civilian with little practice with their semi automatic pistol would fumble with it especially with the adrenaline dump of being suddenly awakened by intruders in their house. At least with a revolver a live round is already chambered and there is no safety catch to mess with. All is needed is to point and shoot.

Another plus point with a revolver versus a semi automatic pistol is if you do have a dead round with a revolver you can keep pulling the trigger..with a pistol you are S*** Out Of Luck.

If you are keen on investing in a revolver consider purchasing a 357 as you can use both .357 and 38 special ammo with it.
I use my revolver (as mentioned above as a night stand gun) but I know plenty of people that use one for their Every Day Carry (EDC) a friend of mine living in bear country swears by the heavier copper jacketed ammo for his .357 as he swears its good enough to stop a bear. Something your 9mm will not do!

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If you are keen on a quality affordable 357 google a company called European American Armory you can definitely pick up a quality revolver for under $500.

Any readers own a revolver? Leave a comment below and let me know what you favorite is!

As always thanks for reading

Alex The Prepper

AR-15 or AK47? Which is a better rifle for reliability?

A question I get asked often is which is a better rifle for reliability the Ar-15 or the AK 47

Let’s look at the pros and cons for both today:

As much as I love a good AR I am going to have to veer towards a AK 47 as far as reliability is concerned. You can literally leave them out in the snow, not use them for 10 years and come back to it and an AK is going to work for you.

There is a very good reason why the Ak47 is the rifle of choice for poor people living in the third world. The system can take a fair bit of environmental abuse and with minimal care and maintenance it will shoot. Of course like all things in life there is a trade off and that one being you lose accuracy on an Ak vs an AR

AR’s, M16 and M4’s require much more maintenance to keep them functioning properly especially if they use a direct impingement system (rather than a gas piston) Of course if you keep them in good condition they will perform excellently

If you are looking to purchase a good quality AK try to get an original with a milled steel receiver and not one of the later versions which used stamped steel.

Some specs that differentiate an original AK versus a modern one are:
* Original AKs have a larger and sloped Front Sight versus the slimmer one of a modern AK
* Barrels for the modern AK are much more lightweight approx 2mm thinner
* Original AKs have a more solid and thicker Gas block than the vented gas blocks of modern Aks
* The modern AK has larger and smoother cleaning rod retainers
* In original AKs the front sling loop wraps around the gas block and the bayonet lug and in modern AKs the front sling loop is integral to the Lower hand-guard retainer.

Some champions of the AR platform claim they see more misfires using an AK47. However, I personally believe that it is not so much the rifle but the quality of ammo out there for the AK, which can vary greatly. Installing a sharper firing pin in your AK usually helps with hard primers.

To sum up if reliability and very low maintenance is your only criteria then definitely go for an AK 47 but do try and get an original, keep in mind that you will be sacrificing accuracy for reliability,. Forget about hitting anything over 300 meters with your AK.

Like I said above I do love a good AR15 and they are not as finicky as people think they are.

Thanks for reading – I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback – leave a comment below!

What Goes Into a Survival First Aid Kit?

If you’re planning to pick up a first aid kit at the store, you might be in for a shock. Most of those pre-planned kits don’t contain the items that you need for long term or even short-term survival.

Those kits were put together based on normal living conditions. Since surviving a natural disaster or other crisis situation doesn’t qualify as normal, you’re going to want to look specifically for a survival first aid kit. These aren’t the same as a regular first aid kit meant for a soccer mom whose kid needs a BandAid for a scraped knee.

You’re going to want to make sure you have what you need so if you can’t find a kit made specifically for survivalists, then put together the supplies you need yourself. Get a sturdy bag for it – you can use a hard shell case or you can use a backpack for your first aid supplies. If you use a backpack, mark it as your first aid kit.

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You’ll want a first aid manual. No matter how much knowledge you have with emergencies, if you’re the one that needs aid, this can help someone else know how to treat you.

Next, besides bandages that range in shape and size, you’re going to want gauze pads. Make sure these are in a variety of sizes and make sure they’re the absorbent kind. You’re going to want butterfly strips, but in a pinch, you can make your own with regular medical tape – so make sure you have medical tape in your kit. Have burn dressings in your kit, too.

You need Ace bandages because these not only help with a sprain, but they can also be used to fasten a splint or a sling if needed. Have a supply of gloves on hand to use while you’re performing treatment.

You’ll also need a way to clean the wound. You can use a piece of gauze if you have to – but most people pack some cotton swabs. You’ll need scissors for cutting and you’ll need tools to get out splinters or other foreign objects.

Tweezers are best for this but in some events, you’ll need a needle. You’ll want a flashlight so that you can see what you’re doing. You’ll want a thermometer as well as the medication to treat in the event someone does have a fever. You’ll want one of those ice packs for help with swelling injuries.

Make sure your kit has plenty of antibiotic ointments and even allergic reaction tablets since you’ll be living in areas where you and your family may not have been exposed to the allergens. Pack the liquid kind if you have children who can’t swallow pills yet.

Having the means to suture up deep wounds in order to save a life is a necessity. For that, you’ll need a suture kit. Superglue can also be used to close a wound. Some people also choose to have a handheld blood pressure machine. You can find ones that can also monitor a victim’s heartrate.

If you’ll be out in the woods or if you’ve set up a camp somewhere away from your home, you might encounter snakes. So take a snakebite kit. It’s a good idea to investigate the area you’ll be staying in to see what dangers you might encounter so that your kit can be built specifically for those issues.

3 Things To Consider Before Installing Solar Panels

Do you think that using solar power for home is a great idea? Well, only you can answer that question. Before you embark on any project, you must have enough knowledge about it. Make sure that you do your homework first and learn everything you can about solar power. The world is suffering greatly from global warming and one of the primary causes is the use of fossil fuels to create electricity. Electricity is a necessity and because of this fact, people can’t do away with it. There is a need to look for alternative energy sources and a very good one is the use of solar power.

Before you make a decision and use solar power for your home, here are the important considerations that you should look into:

1. Where do you live? What is the weather in your area? Is it always sunny in your area or is it always raining? Are there tall trees near your house? You must answer these questions first before you start with any DIY project to create solar power for your home. If the weather is frequently sunny, then it might be a good idea to use solar power. For those with lots of trees in their yard, you need to get rid of them but this is not a very easy thing to do since trees are also very important. Local authorities might not permit you to do cut down huge tall trees. Study the weather in your area as well as your location. To use solar power, you will need the rays of the sun. Rain, clouds, and trees can block the sun’s rays and so you might end up wasting money.

2. Where do you plan to install the solar panels? You must determine the place where there is lots of sunlight all throughout the day. You can’t install the solar panels in an area where there is very little sunlight. Study your home’s surroundings. Find the perfect place where the panels can get a lot of sunlight so that you can benefit from it greatly.

3. Do you have enough knowledge on how to connect solar power into the electricity grid of your home? You can also conduct a research about it. The solar power DIY projects usually provide a complete guide on how to install the solar power to your homes. Just follow the instructions carefully to avoid committing mistakes. If you’re not that sure, you can always get an electrician to help you with the task.

Solar power can reduce your monthly electric bills by more or less 80% depending on your solar power project. In no time at all, your home can become self sufficient and you will no longer depend largely on the conventional energy sources.

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Aside from that, the carbon emissions are also reduced thereby saving the environment from further damage. With a solar powered home, you can enjoy an endless electric supply that is clean, green, and fresh.

Get a solar power DIY kit now and get the needed materials. You can also ask other family members to help you out. That is, if you think that solar power is best for your home. Go through the three considerations mentioned above so that you can make an informed decision. This is the time to save money and help the environment, act now.

10 Tips for Raising a Homesteading Dairy Cow

Many homesteading prepper families make the decisions to invest in a dairy cow for their property. This will provide plenty of milk for your family – and possibly extra for your pigs, if you’re raising those.

You can drink the milk, or create yogurt, ice cream and other items from her milk. Each type of cow and size will produce a variable amount of milk, so you may want to find a smaller option (like a goat) if your family doesn’t use much milk.

Or, if you live in a prepper community, you could share the milk with another family – along with the responsibilities of raising it. You need to milk it at the same time each and every day, so scheduling is important.

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Some people wonder about the safety of drinking raw milk, but you can also buy a pasteurizer for your family to use. They’re not expensive and it will provide you with the same safety that you get off the grocery shelves.

It can get expensive to raise a dairy cow if you’re having to buy all of your hay, but many prepper families grow their own, so that cuts down on the cost of raising your dairy cow enormously.

You can sometimes go to a dairy farm and ask if they have any lower production cows they want to get rid of. If the volume isn’t enough for a dairy farm, they’ll often sell off the cows to a family that requires a much lower volume of milk.

Most families recommend that you get a Jersey dairy cow, but there are many options. You want one that’s gentle and won’t be hostile to you or your little ones in a farming situation.

You have to make sure that your property has room for her to graze and roam around. If you get a Brown Swiss or Dexter cow, then you can allow for more grass grazing than hay feed, which saves you money in the long run.

Your dairy cow will provide milk twice a day for almost a year. After about 10 months, give her a break for a few months and then let her produce another calf to begin milk production again.

Keep in mind that your water supply has to be significant to provide for a dairy cow’s needs. They can drink anywhere from 25-40 gallons of water each day. Make sure you have enough water for her and your own family’s needs.

Your dairy cow might produce anywhere from 2-8 gallons of milk per day, so make sure you don’t over-invest in something that’s going to make all of the milk production go to waste.

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What Kind of Survival Clothing Should You Pack?

You never know when you’re going to have to get out in a hurry. Having a bag packed with all of the necessities you need – including clothing – will allow you to be prepared for any situation.

You already know that you should have the basic items like food, water and first aid. When it comes to clothing, it can be a little confusing knowing exactly what or how much to pack.

A good rule of thumb to follow would be to pack as if you’re going to be gone for three days. You’ll also want to consider exactly where you’re going when choosing what clothing to pack because the area you’re going to may have different weather than where you’re currently living.

If you’re heading to a rainier area, then you’d want to make sure you had rain gear – and if you’re going to an area where the weather is colder, you’ll want warmer clothing. Since room can be limited in a backpack, you want every piece of clothing to serve a purpose.

Pack two pairs of pants to wear. Since you’ll be wearing a pair, that counts as your third day pair. You’ll want to take long pants rather than shorts since you might be hiking through rough terrain. Plus, having long pants can help protect your legs against insect bites.

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Take two shirts along for the journey. You’ll need one that’s fit for warmer weather – such as a short sleeve t-shirt. But you’ll also want a long sleeve shirt for cooler temperatures. Remember that temperatures always drop in the evening hours. By having both a short sleeve and a long sleeve shirt, you can double these up for warmth if needed.

For undergarments, you’ll need to take two pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear – but you’ll also want to pack a pair of thermal underwear. You can wear these under your clothing in the event of cold weather.

You’ll want to take along a hat to protect your head from the sun’s rays as well as to keep your head warm if it’s cold. A hat can also be useful to keep the rain out of your eyes.

A jacket is a must-have clothing item, but you want one that can serve two purposes. You want one that help you keep you warm but can also protect you from inclement weather like rain.

Many jackets have a waterproof shell and are lined with warm material on the inside. You can find some that are lightweight so that fitting them in your backpack won’t be an issue.

Don’t forget to pack footwear. When you first start out, it’s best to wear your waterproof boots and pack a pair of athletic shoes. Break them in ahead of time to prevent blisters if you have to hike around a lot.

20 Home Business ideas for Homesteaders

Most of us already agree that a permanent bug out location is better than Bugging out when the SHTF – the trouble is many of us need to be close to the city or towns for our jobs. You know that thing we do all week long to make money to pay for our homes, kids, food, and other essentials. By moving far way from the cities we would have no way to support our loved ones OR we would be faced with 3 hr commutes each way to work which is just not realistic.

So the key is to have your homestead or BOL and have some sort of home business to bring in money to pay for everything. I have come up with a list of 20 ideas of ways in which you can be removed from society and still be earning money. Please feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section. Many thanks for reading.

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1. A butcher shop. These days the average person buys their meat in shrink wrap from the supermarket. In the old days most families knew how to humanely butcher and animal and use its body parts for food. A person who raises their won animals and knows how to correctly butcher them will do well at farmers markets and even better after a societal collapse.

2. A cheese-maker . Another skill that has been lost since the early 1900s – in ye olden times most villages had someone who was well versed in cheese making, whether cow cheese or goats cheese this is another job with a little bit of training you could make a good living and still live on your homestead.

3. Woodworking shop. Most manufacturing these days seems to have gone to china and the average persons idea of building a bookcase is assembling a kit from Ikea. In our grandparents time they would save up to by a book case of a chest of drawers and it would last a life time. Anyone who is handy with carpentry will do well pre and post collapse of society.

4. A yogurt shop or a milk shop. Much like being a cheese maker above, healthy cow’s milk or goats milk could be a trade to support the family. There is a great demand these days for natural milks not pumped full of harmful hormones and additives and someone who takes the time to learn the skills to make great tasting natural milk or yogurt would soon get lots of repeat business.

5. A Barber shop. Anyone who can give good haircuts, is handy with a pair of hair clippers or can do a mean straight razor shave will do well in this times or in the Post Apocalyptic world.

6. A Tailor’s. Much like cheap modern day furniture that people dispose of when they move house, many people today choose cheap clothes that they will through out after wearing a couple of times. When I grew up my mother would darn the holes in our socks and sew patches on the knees of our jeans when we got holes in them. A person handy with a needle and thread, a sewing machine or can cut a pattern to make new clothes will do very well for themselves

7. Autoshop or small engine repair shop. Aircraft carriers and long range submarines have small machine shops on them to create and repair broken parts when they eventually wear out. When you are under water for 6 months at a time you cannot just pop over to your local auto parts shop and pick up a new piece for whatever has broken. Being handy with auto repairs or small engine repairs will be a godsend in a world where no new cars will ever be made again.

8. Produce shop. Any one with a green thumb could do well with this one. Even when I lived in NYC I saw stalls at the  bi-weekly Farmers market where farmers from upstate NY would make the trek down to sell their produce. Depending on where you live that could be apples, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower to grapes avocados and oranges. Know your soil and know your regions climate and go to town!

9. Stationary shop. Papers and pens, gift wrap and ribbons, cards and notes all of these may be hard to find if you are living way out of town. Post collapse people may be well stocked with Meals ready to Eat and Ammo but I can personally guarantee you that most will not have a stock pile of birthday and Christmas cards at hand. Remember one of the early episodes of The Walking Dead where it was Andrea’s sisters birthday and she asked Dale to find her some wrapping paper?

10. An ice-cream shop or parlor. There are so many varieties of ice cream these days compared to when I was growing up it makes my head spin. Kids of all ages love a cone or bowl of ice cream especially at the end of a hot day. The founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream completed a home correspondence course from Pennsylvania State University to get their start. They set up their first shop in renovated gas station and took over an old mill to create their first packing plant.perhaps you could follow in their footsteps too.

11. Home defense shop. Not everyone is cut out to repair cars or grow veggies, if you are defense minded you can apply your skills in helping others homesteads to become secure, especially against a marauding gang of Zombie Biker Mutants or whoever is roaming the wasteland after the fall.

12. A hardware store. Much like a machine shop (mentioned above) not everyone is going to think to stock up on nuts and bolts before the collapse of civilization as we know it.Keep in mind too that these days the average hardware store isn’t just about an inventory of tools and materials. Skills like laying tiles and installing an electrical switch box are also appreciated so perhaps you and another family member could join forces and use your strengths to create a well rounded hardware store with extra services.

13. A candy store. Even in the big cities boutique candy stores are a huge hit. Learn to make old fashioned candy’s (even in the wild west times candy stores were a big hit with the kids) and you will be laughing.

14. A chocolate shop. Much like a candy store everyone loves chocolate. In a post apocalyptic world there will be no Hersey or Cadbury’s. Even in today’s world there are many small independent specialized chocolate companies springing up and giving the multi national conglomerates a run for their money. perhaps you can too.

15. Computer repair shop. I had a good friend who worked for a local Apple computer repair shop. He said most repairs were very very simple and people had no clue how easy they were to fix and paid him a good wage for his know how. Just think in a future where no new computers are being made those with the skills to keep existing ones run for years on end will be in high demand.

16. A bakery shop (breads). People love fresh bread, and its something that doesn’t take major skills and techniques to be half way good at baking it. If you are handy in the kitchen a fresh bread shop might be the way for you to go.

17. A donut shop. A little more complicated then baking bread but specialized baking like lovely tasty delicious donuts would probably make you live like a king or queen in a post apocalyptic world.

18. A sandwich shop (like a small subway). If you are good at baking bread and growing your own veggies (perhaps your neighbors started a cheese making business and you can trade with them) then why not start a fresh sandwich shop?

19. A deli shop. By a deli shop I mean things like pickled vegetables and smoked meats not like a New york style bodega. If you get good at pickling and canning your own veggies, heck you could even sell them by the jar!.

20. Feed shop (grains for animals and livestock). Another over looked skill set to think about for the future. As important and goats cows and horses are for the farming community someone has to feed them and with the right foods too. This could be a nice niche to focus on.

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Ok so there are 20 ideas for businesses you could run locally or from your homestead. Like I said above if you have any more ideas feel free to share them below. thanks for reading

Alex the Prepper
A-1 Survival

4 Ammo Storing Tips For Preppers

I get asked fairly often if I have any advice for us preppers that like to store ammo. There are no real “magic ways” to store ammo but in this blog posts I will give you the best bits of advice that I have accumulated over the years.

As long as you keep ammo in a dry place it will be fine. Cool and dry is best but dry is the main thing.
I have some .30-30 ammo that is at least 20 years old which i just fired some last week and it was fine. I started using an old gun safe to store my ammo in and now I have two large gun safes full of ammo. Keep an eye out at flea markets and see if you can get one for cheap.

Make sure you test stored ammo on a regular basis. Rim fire ammo isn’t as reliable or as long lasting as Center fire..so sometimes you just have to use it up and be done with it.

When testing ammo that has been stored for any length of time “listen” for squibs. if one round doesn’t fire completely, you don’t want to be running another until you clear your barrel..if you don’t have the know how take it to a reputable gunsmith to clear for you.

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Modern military grade rifle ammo in my experience is the best for long term storage and I have invested accordingly in it.

Like I said short and sweet tips – feel free to share any of your ammo storing tips below

All for today

Alex the Prepper
A-1 Survival

6 Tips For Storing Gasoline Before The SHTF

I often get readers writing to me and asking what are some safe, effective realistic ways to store large amounts of gasoline for when the crap hits the fan. So on this blog post I figured I would put down some ideas that might help you.

Before we get into it – keep this in mind. Storing gasoline is hazardous and will only last a year at best.

The best way of storing gasoline on your homestead or Bug Out Location is in 55 gallon drums. Keep in mind 55 gallon drums are very heavy when filled so you will need a pump to get the gas into your vehicle. I got a hand cranked pump from my local hardware for a little under $150.

Using a fuel stabilizer will help keep your gas good –  perhaps adding an extra year to the life of it. So now we are talking 2 years tops. With all that said i think , as with most preps you need to rotate your fuel close to expiry date, use that fuel up and refill the drums.

Keeping stored fuel with a stabilizer (I recommend the Sta-bil brand) out of the sun and preferably some where with cooler temperatures will help extend the shelf life of it as well.

As I mentioned above storing fuel in 55 gallon drums with a hand pump is smart but if you have to get on the move you will have real problems trying to move a couple of filled tanks. Best bet is to invest in a couple of jerry cans to move smaller amounts of fuel about. I picked up 2 20 liter jerry cans for $35 each.

You may want to consider buying a diesel truck or SUV as an alternative since diesel fuel lasts up to 5 years and with a stabilizer even longer. Please note that diesel fuel sometimes can grow algae in it. They do make an antimicrobial additive for diesel fuel..so be on the look out for purchasing some of that as well if you do choose to go the diesel route.

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If you are really concerned about a massive long term grid down situation you may want to consider converting one of your vehicles to use a propane engine. As far as I understand propane doe not go bad at all and last indefinitely.

A couple of final words on storing fuel ..in the advent of a long term situation the majority of cars will eventual rust out or fall to pieces..if you really want to have all your bases covered you may think about investing in a couple of horses as well.

Thanks for reading and leave me a comment below!

Alex the Prepper
A-1 Survival