How To Oil An All American 225 Can Sealer

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An important step to take to ensure your can sealer is performing in an optimal manner is to keep it well oiled. For this tutorial, we will show you how to All American 225 Can Sealer and which oil to use with it. All can sealers sold from Wells Can will include some mineral oil, so you won’t have to purchase anything extra if you’ve acquired your machine from us.

Prepare your oil

The first step is to use the included tube of mineral oil we sent you, or acquire some food grade mineral oil to complete this tutorial. It’s quite common and can be acquired at any local hardware store or from Wells Can.

Complimentary tube of mineral oil

Where to oil the All American 225 Can Sealer?

There are nine important parts to place a drop of mineral oil on and when you buy an All American 225 from Wells Can, we will highlight those areas in red for you to reduce confusion.

Areas that need oil are highlighted in red

How much oil to use on the All American 225 Can Sealer?

For each spot that needs oil, you only need a small drop per spot. You can use a little bit more, but one drop is the recommended amount.

Applying mineral oil

Oiling your base plate

One place people sometimes forget to oil is the base plate you’re using on the canning machine. Apply a small amount of oil to the base plate as well. This will ensure the base plate can turn freely without any excess friction.

Oiling the All American 225 base plate

Thanks for reading our guide on how to oil an All American 225 canning machine.

This article was written by MH.

What Detroit’s Bankruptcy can Teach us about Resilience

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Communal Self-sufficiency

What is Empowerment?

Empowerment is a term that we hear about in the news more and more these days. A quick google search for the term “empowerment” shows results referring to women’s rights, mental health and the role of employees in a business setting.

It’s clear that organizations and people in all walks of life like to use empowerment as a positive term, and for good reason. Empowerment is chock-full of positive connotations and good vibes. But what does it mean? And more importantly, how do we actually become empowered?

As much as I don’t want to use this source… Wikipedia provides an excellent definition of empowerment, which is quoted below.

The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way. – Wikipedia

And this makes sense when you think about it. Every business, charity and organization preaches how they love and aim for empowerment. Businesses want to empower their employees to strive for greatness, while charities want to empower people to better their lives. But how? What are the magic ingredients that you, or the organization(s) that you’re involved in, need to add to achieve empowerment?

Two words: Self-reliance and resilience.

Empowerment through Self-Reliance

In a previous article we determined that true self-sufficient living is impossible but that we should strive to be more self-reliant. Briefly, self-reliance can be thought of as a way of living where you produce as much as you can for your own use, but do so in the confines of a community. By understanding this concept, we can learn a lot about empowerment and how to attain it.

If a company wants to empower its employees, it has to provide them with some measure of autonomy and self-determination. Human beings do not like to be controlled. We are all individuals who want to be in charge of our own lives. Forcibly following instructions from a boss that we don’t respect, or anyone for that matter makes us feel powerless. Take this comic strip for example. To be empowered,  people must have autonomy and a feeling of complete control over their jobs and lives. This could be something as simple as making their own schedule to more of a say in your companies strategy and direction.

Whatever the case may be, empowerment is synonymous with becoming more self-reliant. And self-reliance is all about taking control of you life away from society’s institutions. Producing and preserving your own food, having an alternate energy source, and developing financial independence are all important steps towards gaining independence. By doing so, your reliance on grocery stores, the power grid and your employer diminishes. Providing us with the power and freedom to quit your job, find one that empowers you or follow your passions (whatever they may be).

Empowerment through Resilience

Picture the life of an average, everyday working Joe. Let’s see what a typical day might look like for him (or her).

  1. Wake up at 7:00am.
  2. Make breakfast or pick something up on the drive to work.
  3. Arrive at work at 8:00am when their shift starts.
  4. Perform their employer-sanctioned duties, which is often the same everyday.
  5. Eat their pre-made or purchased lunch for the day.
  6. Finish their shift.
  7. Drive home, maybe pick up some groceries on the way.
  8. Relax, grab a beer and watch some Netflix.
  9. Eat dinner.
  10. Do some work around the house.
  11. Go to sleep.
  12. Repeat.

At first glance, you might think that this is a pretty normal day. But, there are a few things that are really quite scary about it.

  1. This person’s day is completely controlled by his job.
  2. This person is completely reliant on his utilities, the grocery store and his employer.

A life of dependence on society and its provisions is scary, mainly because society is such a fragile system. We’ve seen societies collapse before. And it’s happening all over the world even now. The stock market crash of 2008 decimated the economy and scared millions into adopting a survivalist or prepper mentality. And rightly so! They wanted to become more resilient, and less dependent on society for their well-being.

Becoming more resilient to society’s fluctuations and instability is the ultimate form of empowerment. Resilience is the ability to withstand traumas, or deviations from the norm of life. Survivalists and preppers are masters of this by constantly preparing themselves to be as resilient as possible, no matter what happens. You too can increase your level of resilience and do so without having to buy an acreage for a homestead.

Case Study: Detroit

A great example of this in real life is Detroit. Detroit is a legendary city that was once an economic capital of America. The city is credited for inventing the automotive industry and is home to many great sports teams. But, despite this it filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Why?

Detroit was, for years, paying its debts on borrowed money. Driven primarily by the decline of the American automotive industry, and the collapse of the market in 2008. It’s population peaked in the 1950’s at 1.8 million residence, but has recently been called the home to 700,000 people. The economic disaster that the city faced hit its occupants completely unprepared, and they fled in droves.

Detroit is now promoting the concept of urban homesteading, which involves:

  1. Reducing the resources that you use.
  2. Raising animals and producing your own food.
  3. Food Preservation through canning, drying, freezing, cheese-making and fermenting.
  4. Community food-sourcing (ex. Foraging, Gleaning)
  5. Reusing, recycling and repairing.
  6. Composting.
  7. Natural Building

This is a clear case of the government asking its citizens to adopt a way of life that reduces their dependence on society. And, it’s in response to an economic disaster that disrupted the city’s ability to provide its citizens with what they need to survive.

The scary thing is that this could happen to any city, including yours. So why not take the proactive step of  getting into urban homesteading and become more resilient and self-reliant.
You will develop a level of autonomy and control  over your life that will empower you all the way to your dreams.

Please leave us a comment or five! We love hearing your stories.

 

 

Self-Sufficiency vs Self-Reliance | A Lesson from the Animal Kingdom

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Jaguar is communally self-sufficient

Is True Self-Sufficiency Possible?

In general, self-sufficiency can be thought of as complete autonomy from any outside help. Is that possible though? To be a homesteading hermit with no input from the outside world? My gut says no, but we should probably dive in a bit deeper. To answer this question, let’s look at the animals. The animal kingdom is rich and diverse, overflowing with a massive number of species. Many of which are solitary, meaning that they live alone in order to avoid competition from members of their own species (like the mighty jaguar). Does their ability to survive with a solitary lifestyle equate to self-sufficiency? Not really.

A Lesson from the Animal Kingdom

Enough with the questions, let’s find some answers. For an animal to be self-sufficient, it must be autonomous without any outside help. For this to be true, the mighty jaguar would have to be able to survive and thrive in the absence of all other animals. Unfortunately, in reality this isn’t the case. Animals live in communities, which are networks of interdependent organisms living in close proximity to each other, engaging in both positive and negative relationships. Three primary types of species exist within a community.

  1. Foundation Species: Primary producers of energy for a community, they alter the environment in which a community lives making it favorable for others. For example, nitrogen-fixing bacteria extract nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to soil to allow for plant growth.
  2. Keystone Species: Responsible for maintaining the biodiversity of a community, preventing extinction or over-replication of species. For example, Otters are keystone predators that prey on sea urchins. They suppress the sea urchin population, which would otherwise grow out of control and consume all kelp in the community, which is an important foundation species.
  3. Invasive Species: Foreign species that are introduced into a community. They are often more competitive than indigenous species, leading to dominance and extinction of lesser species.

Animals Contribute to their Communities

Otter Is A Keystone Species
The otter is a keystone species that prevents the local extinction of the foundation species kelp.

All three of these types of species are critical for the health of their community, as well as for the individual animals that comprise it. Foundation species maintain the environment while the keystone species preserve biodiversity, ensuring that  a community is energetic and competitive. Further, the native animals of a community in combination with some outside help (humans) must suppress the dominance of invasive species to survive. Hopefully, you can see that solitude doesn’t necessarily equate to self-sufficiency. Even solitary animals live in communities and are very dependent on outside forces.

You and me baby ain’t nothing’ but mammals. We’re no different, incapable of ever being truly self-sufficient outside of a community.

Communal Self-Sufficiency & Self-Reliance

You may think that animals needing other animals isn’t great evidence for the impossibility of true self-sufficient living. I don’t blame you. In fact I agree that it’s a different scenario for humans. The example of animal communities is simply a metaphor. Animals depend on other animals to survive, so they live in communities. The fact that they cannot survive on their own is a result of biology. The same goes for humans, but in a broader sense it’s also a result of our psychology and need for practicality.

Humans Need Community

Do we really want to exist outside of a community?  One controversial study from the 1950’s performed by Harry Harlow illustrates how dependent we are on others. Harlow took baby rhesus monkey’s and placed them into what he called the “pit of despair” for up to 12 months. Completely isolated, they quickly lost any hope of escape. Once removed, Harlow noticed that the monkeys were incredibly disturbed: Staring blankly, rocking in place and mutilating themselves. Those left in isolation the longest never recovered, their social abilities were decimated.

Humans have been the subject of similar studies in the past.  In 1951, an experiment at McGill University isolated graduate students in small cells containing just a bed. They wore blindfolds and had only white noise to keep them company. All of the participants were broken within a week. The point is that isolation from community can have devastating effects on the psyche of a human being.

Self-Reliance

A community is also a source of practicality. Providing a framework for trading and bartering and allowing its members to supplement what they produce themselves. No one person can produce absolutely everything required for a good life. Even if they could, why would they? Societies have developed for a reason, to share the workload.

It may be best to consider self-sufficiency as a noble dream to aspire to while focusing more on developing a level of self-reliance. Self-reliance can be thought of as a way of living where you produce as much as you can for your own use, but do so in the confines of a community. You contribute to the community, and subsequently benefit from it. For example, the mighty jaguar is solitary and therefore self-reliant. It finds its own shelter and water, hunts for its own food and protects itself. However, it needs a community for survival and contributes to that community through its role as a keystone predator. This kind of mutually beneficial relationship between self-reliance and community illustrates a kind of communal self-sufficiency.

Self-Reliance in our Modern Communities

So, how do you become more self-reliant in today’s modern, dependent and fast-paced society? You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy a large patch of land and start a homestead (Good for you if you have though!). Society is unstable, but the communities within it are strong. Self-reliance today entails contributing to and benefiting from the communities produced by society while preparing to deal with the problems that may result from it. Stockpile food, water, power and start implementing the pillars of self-sufficiencyBut, take advantage of and enjoy the supplies, resources and people that your community provides.

Please leave us a comment, we’d love to hear your views on self-reliance!

 

The 10 Pillars of Self-Sufficiency

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Self-Sufficient Life

The 10 Pillars of Self-Sufficiency

Do you identify as a prepper or homesteader? Or dream of living an off-the grid life that centers around freedom from the “system”, a holistic lifestyle or preparedness for what may come. While subtle differences exist between these lifestyles, they all have one important principle in common: self-sufficiency. In reality, we all strive to be self-sufficient. In many ways, it goes hand-in-hand with independence and freedom. Teenagers want independence from their parents, employees want freedom from a nine-to-five and many people want autonomy from high income tax rates. These prevailing thoughts that society propagates all converge on a deep-seeded desire for self-sufficiency. We are egotistical beings, so we don’t want anyone to be able to diminish who we are, or have dominion over our ability to survive in this world. Becoming more reliant on yourself and less on society instills a degree of independence that facilitates personal stability.

‘Self-sufficiency’ is the quality of feeling secure and content with oneself, a deep-rooted sense of inner completeness and stability. Psychology Today

However, we can’t all abandon our jobs and places in the urban jungle to start a homestead pursuant of inner peace. Self-sufficiency though, or at least some measure of it, is still within your grasp! We’ve come up with what we think are 10 pillars of self-sufficiency. Attempting to align your life with these pillars is a great way to begin your journey to self-reliance.

1. Achieve Financial Self-Sufficiency

Everyone needs money. However, the amount of income that you need decreases proportionally to your costs. Lowering your monthly costs will lower the minimum amount that you need to earn in order to survive. Learning a trade, starting a side business or writing a blog are great ways to become more self-sufficient. There are many businesses with low startup costs that you could consider. These include: selling goods that you produce (food, furniture, honey), providing a service (landscaping, gardening or dog walking), or consulting. Start slow, keep your old job and run your business on the side. When it gets to the point that it can support you, quit your day job and enjoy financial independence! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you save a little bit each month as a reserve. You never know when you might need it.

2. Participate in a Community of Like-Minded People

Tempering your dependence on society and its institutions is not easy. It’s kind of like quitting smoking, you know that being so dependent is harmful but you do it anyways. We’ve become addicted to the easy life, but the rewards of “quitting” far outweigh the difficulty. Like any addiction, the best way to stay the course is through a community. Joining a group of people who also value self-sufficiency will provide with you the support that you need to thrive! There are many online and offline communities focused on prepping, homesteading and self-reliance.

3. Keep a Supply of Clean Water

Having a personal and renewable source of clean drinking water is even more important than having a stockpile of food. Humans can live for 30 days without food, but will rarely live past four without water. There are a few ways to obtain your own source of water, but the easiest and most practical is to harvest rainwater. By collecting rainwater and channeling it to a barrel or tank, you are taking advantage of a natural process. Use this water for your plants, purify it to use as drinking water, or just stockpile it for later.

4. Produce your own Food

This is a big one for you if you run a homestead. You can raise crops, chickens, dairy cows and livestock to produce a variety of whole foods for you and your family. However, if you are just transitioning into self-reliance, your options are a little more restricted. One way to start producing is by planting a vegetable garden. Even apartment dwellers can have small vegetable gardens by growing them in pots on the balcony or using custom planters.

5. Hunt, Fish or Forage for Food

Another way that space-restricted individuals (and everyone else) can generate food is through hunting, fishing and foraging. Hunting and fishing are not only a source of natural and hormone/antibiotic-free meat, but they’re also ethical and cheap. A hunted animal lives a free and wild life, just as nature intended. Further, foraging for mushrooms, herbs and berries in your neighborhood and local forests is also a great way to stockpile food. Even foraging at your local farmer’s market may yield some interesting results!

6. Preserve your Food

You can stockpile food until your heart’s content, but if you don’t preserve it properly it will rapidly decay. Preserving food (self-produced and purchased) is an important part of becoming self-reliant. It will ensure that you and your family are well fed with healthy natural food, no matter what. It also serves as a cheap source of “groceries” when you are going through a personal financial crisis. Common food-preservation techniques include: canning, vacuum sealing, freeze-drying and pickling. Check out these 12 home food preservation methods for inspiration.

7. Equip Yourself with the Right Tools

Living a self-sufficient life requires work, and that’s great! Instead of working as an employee of some company, you will be working for yourself. There are few feelings in the world that are better than that. However, often times you will need specialized tools or machines in order to maximize your output and results. For example, to preserve the food that you collect, having a reliable can sealer, vacuum sealer or pressure canner  is important. To produce honey at home, you will need to build your own hive and acquire an arsenal of beekeeping suppliesHaving the right tools makes becoming self-sufficient a joyful and stimulating experience.

8. Gain New Skills

You can’t truly be self-sufficient without being able to build, maintain and repair things yourself. Knowing how to construct a shelter, maintain your home and repair damage to equipment means you will no longer have to hire other people to perform those tasks. Achieving an overall higher level of handiness allows you to fix just about anything, saving you bundles of money. Learning new skills will also open up the income opportunities that you have. For example, becoming proficient in a CMS like WordPress will allow you to develop, maintain and monetize a blog or business website.

 9. Have an Alternative Energy Source

We’ve all been victimized by power outages and the tyranny of the power company’s electricity bill. The grid is notoriously unreliable. Recently, hackers linked to Russia hacked and took down Ukraine’s power grid. While we’re not into fear-mongering at Wells, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that your power grid could go down unexpectedly. Unless you’re a vampire, this isn’t an ideal scenario. Having a back-up generator will allow you to power your home as long as you have fuel. However, going a step further and installing an alternative energy source like solar will greatly impact your level of self-sufficiency. Solar power is a low-maintenance, renewable and green way to constantly be generating your own power.

 10. Learn how to Protect Yourself

This is an important and broad pillar. Learning how to protect yourself doesn’t only refer to defending yourself from physical violence (which is also a valuable skill to learn). To be truly self-sufficient, you must be able to survive and thrive even in the absence of societal institutions put in place to protect you. You must be able to prevent or withstand crime, fires, emergency medical scenarios and more. Create action plans that dictate how you and your family will respond to all conceivable emergency scenarios and take precautions to protect your belongings.

Agree? Disagree? Have something to add to our list? Please leave us a comment and let us know!

Self-Sufficiency | How Aristotle can lead you to the Good Life

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The Good Life

What is the good life?

You might think that it is subjective, or that everyone’s “good life” is different. Bobby loves video games, he can name every character in the Nintendo universe as well as their interests, hopes and dreams. Rebecca loves fashion, she can accessorize like a champion and critique your outfit until you feel like your wardrobe consists of nothing but garbage bags. Does this mean that Bobby’s good life entails a passive income stream that allows him to “Nintendo” to his heart’s content? Or that Rebecca’s is a job as the head of some high-falutin fashion empire?

You may or may not agree that these seem like good lives for Bobby and Rebecca. That’s why it’s subjective right? This may be true, but perhaps the good life is actually more objective than we previously thought. This concept has been studied for thousands of years. In fact, it was first associated with the work of Aristotle and his teachings on ethics. He claimed that certain classes of individuals could never achieve the good life. Women, slaves, the lower classes, animals,  the ill and even the gods were destined for unhappiness. This sounds kind of ridiculous at first glance, but in Aristotle’s time all of these classes of individuals were dependent on someone else. Women had few rights and were dependent on their husbands, slaves their owners, the gods the people and so on. According to Aristotle, the only path to the good life was through independence from their slavers, husbands and overlords. In other words, the key to the good life was through self-sufficiency.

Self-Sufficiency | Relying on Yourself More, and Society Less

Rebecca and Bobby may well be happy with their respective lives. But in reality, Bobby is a slave to his games and the energy and developers that make them possible. Rebecca is a slave to the company that employs her, and the clients that hire her. They are both slaves to the grid that supplies them with power, the stores that sell them their food, the reservoirs that supply them with water, the government for building and maintaining the infrastructure that they use every day and the emergency services for assisting them when they need help. While all of these things are a great source of convenience and comfort, there is no doubt that we as a society have become hopelessly dependent on them. In truth, most of us are Rebecca and Bobby. The world is an unstable place, and there is no guarantee that we will always be able to depend on institutions and corporations to provide the necessities that we need to survive.

I’m not suggesting that we should all be shrouded in fear of the world ending- that’s no way to live. Instead, we should take some good advice from one of the smartest people to ever live. We should start to transition away from our dependencies and establish a level of self-sufficiency.  In this way, we can live well knowing that we will thrive no matter what happens to our society. Only then can we start to experience the freedom that comes with being more self-reliant, and being better-prepared for what may come.

Check out this article The Pillars of Self-Sufficiency for more information on becoming self-reliant.

Please leave us a comment or five! We love hearing your stories!