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Going Beyond Off Grid – A Conversation with Jason Matyas – Part 2

Going beyond off grid. Where did the concept come from? And how can it be lived out?

DestinySurvival Radio features the conclusion of my two part conversation with Jason Matyas to talk about the documentary film entitled Beyond Off Grid. We discussed more, too, so you’ll want to hear what we said.

If you missed the first part, click here for Part 1.

I included Jason’s background info in that post about the first part of our chat. He volunteered a little more in the second part of our visit. It will help you understand something about why he and his family have chosen the lifestyle they’re living.

 

Beyond Off Grid - DVD

 

Overview of the Film

Someone else had started working on Beyond Off Grid a couple of years before Jason got on board in 2013. The project was a long time in the making. You can tell by watching that a great deal of thought went into crafting the message.

An excellent summary is included in promotional info I received from Jason.

“…It’s primary purpose is to inspire fundamental lifestyle change so that we can start rebuilding a solid foundation for the future from the ground up, starting in families, then working up into our churches, communities, and regions.

“As current events make the future look more and more uncertain, you need to understand what’s coming and take action to prepare for the future.

“And the Beyond Off Grid film can be an inspiration and motivation to help you do just that.”

Overview of Our Conversation’s Conclusion

I asked Jason to talk about the dozen or so experts featured in the film. They include:

  • Michael Bunker, author of Surviving Off Off-Grid, which inspired the film
  • Codey of the Wranglerstar YouTube channel
  • Permaculturist Paul Wheaton
  • Rick Austin on homesteading
  • Franklin Sanders on economics
  • Jim Smith, owner of a back to the land store
  • …And others

I agree with Jason’s assertion that we can’t thrive or survive alone. With that notion in mind, the film spends time focusing on building families and communities.

It’s Jason’s hope that churches will take the film to heart and act to provide solutions. If a church isn’t prepared to meet the needs of their people, how can they serve their community?

This is important because we can’t count on the federal government or politics in general to solve our problems. We should know that by now, shouldn’t we?

What lies in the future–a dramatic collapse or slow burn? I invite you to hear Jason’s thoughts. Then draw your own conclusions.

But regarding our present circumstances, consider this. What would you do if you lost your job?

Jason recommends we act on diversifying our income streams. What possibilities exist for you outside of typical employment?

How is this working out for jason and his family? You’ll want to hear what he says about his career change, which led to home schooling their children, starting a family owned seed company (Seeds for Generations) and the challenge presented by the Beyond Off Grid project.

 

Beyond Off Grid - Return to the Old Paths

 

Overview of Action Steps

You and I should be leaders, according to Jason. Why wait for the collapse, hoping to rebuild afterward? Take steps now to live a more self reliant, fulfilling life.

Listen to the conclusion of my conversation with Jason Matyas on DestinySurvival Radio for April 27, 2017. (Right click to download.)

Then watch Beyond Off Grid by first clicking on its title wherever you see it linked in this post.

Why should you explore returning to the old paths? Because it’s not about nostalgia. It’s about survival.

 

Going Beyond Off Grid – A Conversation with Jason Matyas – Part 1

Many preppers and homesteaders are working toward living off the grid, if they’re not already doing it. But is going off grid the final answer for survival?

This week’s DestinySurvival Radio features a conversation with Jason Matyas to talk about Beyond Off Grid, a documentary film that can provide answers and inspiration for those of us wanting to make significant lifestyle changes.

In this post I’ll share thoughts about the film and part one of my two part conversation with Jason Matyas.

Incidentally, I’m releasing the first of two parts on Tuesday, and the second part is being released on Thursday, the normal day for releasing DestinySurvival Radio.

The Knowledgeable Guest

 

Jason Matyas

 

My conversation with Jason Matyas centered around the Beyond Off Grid film. If you’re aware of a number of the big issues we face in the world today, and you’re looking for solutions, Jason’s comments will resonate with you. But if you’re not familiar with who he is, here’s some background.

“Jason Matyas is a husband and father of seven, lifelong gardener and growing homesteader, 18 year Air Force veteran with 9 worldwide deployments, entrepreneur and business consultant, and is the Co-Founder of Beyond Off Grid, Executive Producer of the documentary film, and producer of Beyond Off Grid’s training series and courses.

Beyond Off Grid is devoted to inspiring and equipping you to reduce your dependence on the modern economy and seek true freedom by returning to the old paths of productive households and local community interdependence.”

“He is the founder of a family business with his children called Seeds for Generations that provides heirloom garden seeds and inspiration for gardening as a family.”

At the site for Beyond Off Grid, “Jason is featured in our Summit Online Course, Summit Event Video Course, and Grow More Food Course.”

The Information-Packed Film

Beyond Off Grid lasts about an hour and a half. It’s very well produced. Getting distracted by poor quality won’t be a problem.

There’s a lot to digest. You’ll want to watch it more than once to soak it all in.

The first half of the film takes the time to define the problems we face. A number of parallels are drawn between the Roman empire and the U.S. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s presented well.

If you’re like me, you’ll agree with the assessments set forth.

As the film moves on, we’re given an explanation of modern society’s grid. As I mentioned to Jason in our chat, I can imagine someone picking up a sentiment of anti-structure and anti-progress. Over regulation is indeed a problem, but could talk against regulations cause someone to think of survivalists who promote anarchy?

If someone isn’t already of the prepper mindset, they may find parts of the film to be offensive. Yet we all know that all that’s claimed to be progress isn’t good. For example, one of the presenters describes a toddler who was given a print magazine, and the child tried treating it as if it were a touch screen.

Beyond Off Grid is family friendly and comes from a Christian emphasis or perspective. But it’s not preachy or heavy handed.

There’s a significant turning point in the film where the topics discussed are more familiar to preppers. For example, what would be the impact of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse)?

One of the other issues touched on is the dangers found in GMO foods.

Homesteading, developing skills and going back to the old ways are encouraged. You’ll see info on having your own water supply, raising your own food, and restoring the family and community.

Thankfully, this documentary proposes solutions. We’re not left without hope. This isn’t one of those presentations that leaves us steeped in fear and in the dark about possible outcomes for the future.

The Thought Provoking Conversation

During our chat Jason said the film and the term “Beyond off grid” were inspired by Surviving Off Off-Grid, by Michael Bunker. The idea is that going off grid isn’t enough because isolation isn’t going to solve the larger problems we face.

Beyond Off Grid is designed to encourage preppers and homesteaders to see a bigger picture and, at the risk of sounding cliche, think outside the box. This may mean a change of mindset.

Once you know how we got where we are and can put what we face into context, then you can make lifestyle decisions to address those issues. That calls for consideration of what’s appropriate for you, your family, your church, and your community.

What does it take to become more productive and self reliant? How can we break the chains of our consumer-based society?

As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but wonder how many will follow through to make life better for themselves and their families. The task of real change seems so daunting.

Making lifestyle changes is no small undertaking, but Jason believes it’s not impossible. He encourages taking one small step at a time.

It’s in the second half of the film that we see positive examples of the changed lifestyle of several families. And those examples are simply there to show us the possible alternatives.

Beyond Off Grid will reinforce what many preppers and homesteaders already understand, but it can also serve as a tool to help others wake up to enlightenment and action.

 

Beyond Off Grid - Return to the Old Paths

 

The Next Step

I’ve only shared highlights here. Find out more by listening to the first part of my conversation with Jason Matyas on DestinySurvival Radio for April 25, 2017. (Right click to download.)

Then watch Beyond Off Grid for yourself by first clicking on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. You and your family will be glad you did.

Click here for Part 2.

 

Speed Up Composting and Improve the Soil in Your Survival Garden

If you’ve read Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening, you’ll remember he recommends organic compost from more than one source for your soil. That means not just manure, but several kinds of organic matter.

That’s because you get a good variety of textures and microbes to enrich your soil. When you compost at home, you’ll have a good variety of organic materials in your compost.

Adding in more organic compost each year re-energizes your survival garden. When you feed the soil, ultimately you’re feeding your plants, too. They’ll have fewer diseases and pests and produce more wholesome, better tasting food for you and your family.

But, if you’re like me, you wish composting didn’t take so long to produce that fluffy black soil. You want to speed up the composting process and add beneficial bacteria and other microbes to your compost.

What you need is items like composters, including bokashi composters and worm composting kits, glacial rock dust and other natural composting products, like what they have at EarthEasy.com. Click on the Composting category to see their selection.

One of my readers suggested a way some gardeners use to get a head start on composting.

Start your compost indoors with a container in the kitchen. The warmth indoors helps to speed up the process. Then at planting time you have the compost to put on your garden.

You don’t need to take kitchen materials ouside each day. Just put them in the bin.

Here’s the bottom line on composting. Feed the soil, and you’ll feed yourself.

 

Home Canning – Get the Help You Need from The Prepper’s Canning Guide

Does your food storage strategy include food you’ve canned yourself? If home canning is a stumbling block for you, you need the help you’ll get from The Prepper’s Canning Guide, by Daisy Luther.

It may seem odd to think about canning at the time this post is being published in early spring, but as you’ll hear from my DestinySurvival Radio conversation with Daisy, planning, as with any aspect of preparedness, is most certainly an important component of canning.

Daisy’s book will expand your imagination and open new possibilities for you. There’s more to canning than filling your pantry shelves with green beans or strawberry jam. Why not try entrees, soups and side dishes?

Whether you’re new to canning or you’ve been doing it for years, you’ll want to hear what Daisy shares in The Prepper’s Canning Guide and our DestinySurvival Radio conversation. I’ll give you a few highlights about both below.

Getting to Know Your Prepper Canning Guru

Daisy Luther has been my DestinySurvival Radio guest before, in the summer of 2015 when we talked about The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide. She’s well known by many in the prepper community at large, but if you’re not familiar with who she is, here’s a little background, as it appears in The Prepper’s Canning Guide.

“Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger. She writes about current events, preparedness, food, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her websites, The Organic Prepper and DaisyLuther.com. She is the cofounder of Preppers University, where she teaches intensive preparedness courses in a live online classroom setting.

“Daisy is also the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half Price Budget, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource, and Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas and a Debt-Free New Year.”

During our conversation Daisy and I stuck mainly to the subject of canning. But as you can tell from the above paragraphs, she’s well versed in a number of other areas. Her other books and web sites are well worth your time.

 

The Prepper's Canning Guide

 

Looking Inside the Information Container

The Prepper’s Canning Guide is divided into three parts. The first few chapters cover canning basics, including how to can safely.

Part two covers…

  • Traditional canning tips and recipes
  • Jams
  • Condiments
  • Pickling
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Meats

Part three is about meals and the things that go with them, such as…

  • Soups and stews
  • Main dishes
  • Leftovers
  • Getting creative

You’ll find helpful tables, especially in the appendices. Fore example, you’ll need to know how to accommodate for the differences in canning times when you live in higher altitudes. The index will help you find your way through the book as well.

Tasting the Prepper Canning Guidance

I confess to ignorance when it comes to canning. That’s why I’m glad we have Daisy’s book to refer to. And I’m glad to share our conversation with you.

Why this book? Daisy says it’s because preppers have a different focus than others who can things like fancy jams.

Canning your own food calls for a more engaged attitude toward food preparation and consumption than buying ready-made storage food with a longer shelf life. Your survival pantry should be diversified. But with home canning you’re sure to make conscientious decisions about what you eat and how you rotate your food supply.

Why home canning? There are a number of good reasons to can food for your survival pantry, but one good reason is so you have control over what you eat. You know what goes into what you’ve canned. You can gear your food to meet special needs, such as sensitivity to gluten, colorings and preservatives.

You also have control over how much you set aside. For example, Daisy knows how much spaghetti sauce to can for her family.

Besides, according to Daisy, having home canned food on your shelves is the closest you can get to homemade fast food.

Plus–and this should get your attention–you’ll save money.

What’s the difference in canning methods? I asked Daisy about the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning.

Water bath canning is for high acid foods, such as fruits, pickles, tomato products, jams and jellies. Pressure canning is for all those low acid foods which call for a higher temperature. Vegetables and meats must be canned using a pressure canner.

Daisy was quick to point out the difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker. Without going into detail, a pressure canner is suited for canning and holds more quarts. Daisy described her choice for a pressure canner.

Another reason for using a pressure canner is to prepare foods at a high enough temperature to reduce the risk of deadly botulism poisoning.

Incidentally, during our visit and in her book Daisy explains why you don’t have to be afraid of using a pressure canner. There’s no need to worry about blowing up your house.

What if you can’t grow all you need? If you’re like most of us and aren’t able to grow all of your own food, pay attention to Daisy’s tips on going to farmers markets and getting to know local growers.

Why try to buy 100 pounds of tomatoes? Daisy cans several foods using tomatoes for her family. Chances are you’ll also want more tomatoes than you might think at first when you realize how many things you eat that call for tomatoes.

What about supplies to have on hand? Of course, jars, lids and rings. You may or may not want pectin, but you’ll need sugar and canning salt. The book goes into greater detail.

What about reusable canning lids? They’ve been marketed to preppers. But Daisy isn’t a fan. She explains why in our conversation and in her book.

What do you do when there’s no electricity? Is a wood stove adequate? Daisy uses an outdoor propane burner. Trying to can with an open fire calls for a lot of fuel and may not cook evenly or long enough to do the job.

What foods should you avoid canning? Daisy and the USDA don’t recommend canning dairy products. Daisy also says not to can starchy ingredients, including rice and noodles. Add dairy or starches at serving time. There’s more in our chat and in the book.

It’s also not wise to use much seasoning or spices. Flavors become stronger with canning. You can always add more seasoning or spice, but you can’t take it out.

What about canning leftovers? Daisy talked a little about this with me, but she says you should see her book for the details.

 

Home canned vegetables

 

Sampling More Tidbits

You’ll appreciate the many recipes throughout the book. If you’re like me, your mouth will be watering as you read.

For example, I like the idea of using fruit jams in yogurt, ice cream, or in muffins and cookies.

The chapter on condiments features recipes for relishes, salsas and various kinds of pickles. Ever thought of pickling carrots? How about beets?

You’ll discover more than one way to can apples, peaches, pears and other fruits. How about making your own fruit coctail?

You’ll want to pay attention to Daisy’s tips in the book on cleaning veggies and fruits you can, especially if they come from sources known for their use of pesticides.

You’ll be surprised by how many vegetables you can can. No need to limmit yourself to green beans and tomatoes.

However, if beans are among your favorite foods–or if you want to know how they can be–there’s a separate book chapter to help you get creative.

Digging In

Pop the lid off the jar of goodies waiting for you by listening to my conversation with Daisy Luther on DestinySurvival Radio for March 30, 2017. (Right click to download.)

If you look through The Prepper’s Canning Guide and you’re not drooling, something’s not right. Get your own copy, and you’ll see what I mean. Click on the book’s title wherever you see it linked in this post.

If you’re new to home canning, or if you need a refresher, let Daisy’s book be your guide. She also offers online classes through Preppers University. You might also check with your local extension service to see if they offer classes on canning.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Daisy has done a lot of that over the years. That’s how she’s been able to put such a variety of recipes in her book. There are things you can can which you may not have known of or thought about.

Dare I say it? (Bad pun ahead.) The Prepper’s Canning Guide will get your creative juices flowing.

And that’s a good thing because home canning is worth it now for your family and as part of your food storage strategy for the future.

 

Cook Meals, Boil Water and Make Electricity with BioLite’s CampStove 2

I appreciate resourcefulness and creativity, especially when they prove useful for you and me. It’s good to know it’s possible to cook meals, boil water and make electricity with BioLite’s CampStove 2.

There’s a lot going on inside the CampStove 2. Watch the short video below and discover how BioLite burns wood like gas and turns flames into electricity.

 

 

Find out more by clicking on the BioLite banner.

 

BioLite

 

Have the Right Battery Powered Devices When the Power Goes Out

whether you experience a local power outage because of a major storm, or the whole grid goes down, you’ll need to have the right battery powered devices when the power goes out. Jeff Yago gives us guidance in the January/February 2017 “Backwoods Home Magazine” (Issue #163).

He covers four areas of concern.

  • LED hanging lanterns
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Battery pack and solar charger
  • Digital battery charger

Find a list of recommended products and suppliers in the article as well.

An excerpt of the article follows. Click on the link below to read all of it.

Grid-down battery devices

By Jeff Yago, P.E., CEM

Most of my past articles and my just-released new book titled, Lights On, drive home the importance of having multiple battery-powered devices during an extended power outage. I also keep reminding everyone that having a generator during a power outage is great, at least until you run out of fuel. Whether you are without power from the start of a utility outage due to not owning a generator, or you are well into an extended power outage but ran out of fuel, the results will be the same unless you own battery-powered devices. There are many battery-powered devices that will make life easier and continue to operate during an extended power outage, but there are four specific battery-powered devices that everyone should have.

LED hanging lanterns

Of course lighting is our primary concern, but I am not talking about having a flashlight. A flashlight is handy to illuminate a small area directly in front of you, assuming you have batteries. However, during an extended power outage you need room-filling lights, at least in the room or rooms where most of the family will be congregating. I recommend having several of the new LED hanging lanterns.


Read the whole article here:
http://www.backwoodshome.com/grid-down-battery-devices/

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine.
http://www.backwoodshome.com (541)247-8900.

 

Controlling Rodents at Home or in Your Bug Out Location

Editor’s Note: Joe Alton, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Bones of DoomAndBloom.net has written an excellent overview of the disease problems rodents can cause and how to keep them under control. It’s a mini-primer worthy of attention for both your home and your bug out location. – John

 

How to Control Rodents as Disease Vectors

 

>rats-in-a-trap

Brown rats may reach 16 inches in length, including tail

in survival settings, it’s been said that rats will do a better job of surviving than humans. Rats, mice, and other rodents are well-known causes of “zoonotic” infections.  A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans.  The animal in question may not have symptoms of the disease itself, but may serve as a “vector”; that is, it carries the disease to a human target.

Rats and mice belong to the order Rodentia, from the latin word rodere (“to gnaw”).  This order contains various families, including beavers, porcupines, squirrels, and gophers.  As you are unlikely to have an infestation of beavers in your home, we’ll concentrate on rats and mice. A pair of rats could produce 1,500 offspring in one year if they all reproduced. Most rats and mice that cause issues for humans come from the “Old World”.  These include:

Brown rats (rattus norvegicus): Also called Norway rats, although they didn’t originate there (Norway has no more rat issues than other countries). Brown rats may reach 16 inches (including the tail) and are good swimmers; the term “sewer rat” was coined for them.

Black rats (rattus rattus): Thought to have introduced the Plague to Europe through their fleas. The black rat, also called the “roof rat”, is slightly smaller than its brown cousin and is an excellent climber.

House mice (Mus musculus): Used to living in close quarters with humans, mice are “nibblers” and can contaminate an entire pantry by taking a few bites out of multiple food items. Mice and other rodents can also chew through electrical wiring, thereby constituting a fire hazard.

Rats and mice are some of the world’s most invasive species. Every year, a percentage of the world’s food supply is contaminated by their droppings, urine, and hair. These items, known as “fomites”, may contain disease-carrying organisms and, as such, render food unfit for human consumption.

hooded rats

Long-Evans hooded rats I worked with in labs help further medical research

Before I go further, let me tell our readers who have rats and mice as pets that they (the pets, not necessarily the owners) are generally clean, intelligent creatures.  I have had the privilege of working with them in university laboratories as a student.  Despite this, it is indisputable that the diseases they may carry are cause for concern.

MEDICAL ISSUES CAUSED BY RODENTS

From a medical perspective, what diseases might one contract from a rodent or its droppings?  These include:

Plague:  The Plague is caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia Pestis. It is carried by fleas. The black rat’s arrival in Europe in the Middle Ages (and with it, its fleas) caused pandemics of the disease that wiped out a third of the population. Even today, Plague exists in developing countries and, there have been hundreds of cases in the U.S. over the past three decades.

Hantavirus: Hantavirus, transmitted by mice in urine, droppings or saliva, causes a serious lung disease that may become fatal without the availability of intensive care.

Leptospirosis: Caused by consuming food contaminated by rat urine, Leptospirosis causes a flu-like syndrome that progresses to kidney and liver failure if untreated.  This disease can also be carried by certain livestock.

Lymphocytic Chorio-Meningitis Virus (LCMV): LCMV may be contracted from mice urine or droppings or from pets in contact with mice, such as hamsters.   It causes a flu-like syndrome that occasionally causes complications in the nervous system, especially in people with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.  LCMV may cause miscarriage or birth defects.

Salmonellosis: Infection with the bacteria Salmonella may occur as a result of handling of pet rats or mice, especially if they have had diarrhea.  It causes severe diarrheal disease in humans, and is one good reason for owners of rats and mice to wash their hands after handling.

Rat Bite Fever: Infection with the bacterium Strebtobacillus occurs from rat bites and scratches or from ingesting food or water contaminated with rat droppings. Abrupt onset of fevers, rashes, vomiting, and headaches are noted at first, with general deterioration afterwards. If untreated, there is a 10% death rate.

RODENT-PROOFING A RETREAT

homestead-cabin-pixabay

rodent-proofing

It’s simply common sense to take measures to prevent rodent infestation in the home and to eliminate those already there. Once an infestation has occurred, much more effort is required to dislodge these unwanted guests. Rodent-proofing a home requires careful evaluation for points of entry from the level of the foundation to the roofline.  This includes sewer lines, bathroom vents, pipes and gutters, doors and windows, and vegetation near concrete slabs.

Some rodent-proofing techniques for homes include:

  • Sealing cracks in building foundations, walls, siding, and roof joints with, for example, mesh hardware cloth or concrete patching. Rodents only need ¼ inch of opening to gnaw their way into your home. Metal mesh scouring pads or galvanized window screening (not steel wool, which quickly deteriorates) may be stuffed into crevices as a temporary solution.
  • Installing vent guards in bathroom or washer/dryer vents.
  • Placing barriers to prevent climbing rodents from going up pipes or gutters.
  • Trimming trees so that branches don’t come close to the roof.
  • Contacting the utility company for strategies to prevent rats from traveling along power lines to your house.
  • Preventing rodents, especially rats, from tunneling under the foundation by placing flat concrete pavers or gravel for the first 3 feet from the base of the house.

Rodent control also involves careful attention to both indoor and outdoor sanitation.  Here are some suggestions for the wise homeowner:

  • Never leave food or water out overnight. Keep your countertops clean and disinfected.
  • Breadboxes may seem old-fashioned, but they are there for a reason: To keep the bread away from rats and mice.
  • Never leave pet food outside, clean all bowls daily, whether they are used inside or out. Rodents love to eat dog and cat food.
  • Clean under kitchen appliances. Even a few crumbs will make a meal for a mouse or rat.
  • Keep garbage disposals and sinks clean with a cup of bleach once a month.
  • Never flush grease down the sink drain.
  • Keep toilet lids down until needed.
  • Store dry foods, even pet foods, in sealed containers at least 18 inches off the floor.
  • Construct barriers around birdhouses and bird-feeders to prevent seed from being accessible to rodents.
  • Remove any fruits or vegetables from your garden that you won’t use.
  • Keep garbage can lids tightly closed.
  • Keep the side and back yards free of debris that might serve as shelters.
  • Deny access to water by fixing leaky faucets.
  • Avoid putting animal products in your compost bin.

IDENTIFYING INFESTATIONS

Rodent droppings

rodent droppings (source: city of Berkeley, CA)

If you’re not sure that your home is currently rodent-free, you might consider:

  • Looking for any partially eaten food, gnawed containers, or nesting material.
  • Inspecting your home’s interior at night with a flashlight; look especially closely at the bases of walls, as rats and mice prefer to travel along them. Little used areas of the home should be especially targeted.
  • Looking for rodent droppings. Mice and rat defecate 50 times a day; if they are in your home, you should be able to find their feces along floorboards, in attic crawl spaces, and in basements.
  • Setting out a thin layer of flour or talcum powder by areas through which rats and mice might enter your home. Place some, as well, along floorboards; rodents prefer to travel along walls. The rodents will leave tracks which will prove their presence.
  • Having cats and dogs as “mousers”. They may or may not be efficient, but they usually will alert you when a rodent is near.
  • Listening for squeaking and scrabbling noises inside walls at night.
  • Check for unusual smells. If there are a lot of rats in your home, you may notice an odor from their urine.

ELIMINATING THE PROBLEM

rats as food

A method of rodent control not discussed in this article

Once you have made the determination that you have rats or mice in your home, it’s time to reduce the population.  It should be noted that long-term control will be difficult if you haven’t followed my earlier suggestions for indoor and outdoor sanitation.

There are myriad mouse and rat-traps on the market and a number of poisons available to kill rodent invaders. It makes more sense to use traps, in my opinion, as poisons may leave you with a bunch of dead, rotting animals inside your walls. The stench may last a month or more, and sometimes deodorizer is needed to be inserted through a hole drilled in the wall.

If you have a lot of rats in your yard, you shouldn’t use poisons, as they may be ingested by neighborhood pets or even children. You should, however, consider trapping boxes. These can be snap traps, electronic “zappers”, glue traps or even catch and release versions. Both rats and mice will readily go for a small amount of fresh peanut butter as bait. Advice to the soft-hearted: Brown rats, black rats, and house mice are not native wildlife; besides other damage, some will cause casualties among endangered songbird eggs and young if released.

Glue traps are popular but controversial.  They are better weapons against mice than rats. Unfortunately, they usually leave you with a live animal to kill.  If you must use them, euthanize the rodent by throwing the trap and animal into a bucket of water or by striking it with a stick several times just behind the head. Another disadvantage of the glue trap is that it loses effectiveness in dusty areas or in extreme temperatures.

Snap traps should always be placed in perpendicular fashion, with the bait side against the wall.  Never use just one trap: Place a number of them several feet apart in the rodent’s usual path. Traps can be fastened to pipes with wire or thick rubber bands.

When cleaning out a building that has been infested with rats or mice, specific safety precautions should be followed to avoid infection. First and foremost, remember that you should never handle a wild rodent, alive or dead, without disposable gloves. Masks should be worn when cleaning. Other steps to follow:

  • Open windows and doors before cleaning to allow it to air out, then leave for an hour.
  • Avoid raising dust if at all possible.
  • Steam-clean all carpeting and upholstery.
  • Clean all surfaces with a diluted bleach solution or other household disinfectant, soaking areas that held dead animals, nests, or droppings.
  • Wash all bedding linens, pillows, etc. and use the high heat setting on your dryer.
  • Eliminate any insulation material contaminated by rodent urine, feces, or nesting material
  • As ultraviolet light can kill viruses, place contaminated items that cannot be thrown away (such as important documents), outside in the sun for several hours. If this isn’t possible, “quarantine” the items for a week in a rodent-free area.  This should give enough time for viruses to be inactived.
  • Dispose of any contaminated items or dead rodents in a plastic bag, and then place them in an exterior garbage can.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after cleaning. Consider showering with soap and hot water.

We share our world with many other creatures. Some of these creatures invade our homes and can damage our possessions and, more importantly, our health. With careful attention to sanitation and the occasional surgical strike, we can eliminate unwanted guests and make our homes safe environments for our families.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary3

Dr. Alton

Learn more about animal-borne diseases and 150 other medical topics in the Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available at Amazon.com.