How To Make Survival Foods For Your Dog

A dog is a man’s best friend, or at least that’s what they say. It’s one of those popular wisdom kinds of things. If you ask me, a man’s best friend is his own conscience and set of skills, but we’re not trying to be philosophical, so let’s stick to dogs.

So, what do dogs and survival have in common? Well, dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago and they helped humanity a lot in terms of survival. In this case, by dogs I mean big ones, not Chihuahuas or cat-sized companion dogs, but the real deal, like a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler.

Dogs were used as avant la lettre alarms and early warning systems for protection(against wild animals for example or even in combat) and for herding and hunting. Naturally, in a SHTF situation, having your dog close, alive, happy and well-fed would be a great achievement.

Dogs can help with finding victims in the aftermath of a disaster, they can help you find food and water and they have an acute sense of orientation, so they can lead you home if you get lost. Dogs also keep you company, preventing loneliness and so on and so forth.

Basically, dogs are cool to have around, especially when it comes to survival situations. Okay, I am aware about a school of thought in the prepping community, a survival debate about “to dog or not to dog”.

Truth suffers if it’s over-analyzed, soyou’ll have to decide for yourself if a dog would be too much in a survival situation; if it would be another thing to take care of or vice-versa (if you ask me, Ithink that the advantages of having a real dog in a SHTF situation outweigh the disadvantages).

In a SHTF scenario, you’ll be confronted with a lot of your own problems, so, what about your furry friend?

Today’s article will explore some options and scenarios involving survival foods for your dog. If you think that dog food is irrelevant in a survival situation, check this out: you can eat dog food if S really HTF. So, prepping with food for your precious companion is a double bang for your buck in terms of surviving. I bet you didn’t think of that before, did you?

Now, that we’ve established a clear premise, i.e. that you’ll still own a dog in the aftermath of the apocalypse, let’s explore a few possibilities in terms of survival dog food.

How and What to Feed Your Dog when SHTF?

The question becomes how and what to feed your dog when there’s no food at the pet-stores or in the groceries.

You have to realize that there were dogs around a long time ago, before Purina started making billions of dollars selling pet-food. Your grand-grandfather still had dogs and he fed them on a daily basis (hopefully). Therefore, so can you.

Dog nutrition is not rocket science, I mean our ancestors fed their dogs mostly with table scraps or they cooked their dog food using their own “recipes”. Back in the day, there weren’t hundreds of varieties of dog food at Wal-Mart for different types of dogs. For example, there was no special food for grumpy, lazy, fat, or thin specimens, like there are in present times.

Where am I going with this rationale, you may ask? Well, there are two possibilities for prepping with dog food for when SHTF; that’s what I am talking about.

The first option:  You can prepare for a bleak future with commercially available dog food. Stock it up to make provisions for your dogs. Dried dog food has up to ten years of shelf life, not to mention those “deluxe dog survival kits” and what not which can outlive the pyramids.

If you store the dried dog food properly, in a well-sealed container and in an optimum environment (stable temperatures, low humidity, no sunshine) I bet it will be still edible after more than a decade. The best thing about storing dried dog food is that you can eat it too, in case of emergencies. I mean, it’s better to eat dog food than to eat your dog or starve to death, isn’t it folks?

You can also prepare with specially formulated survival dog food, which is usually packed for long term storage in special Mylar bags that come in rodent-proof, water proof, stackable plastic buckets. It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but you can consider it an investment in your future (yours and your dog, that is).

The second option: Play it old school, like the founding fathers did. Making your own dog food is so simple that you’re going to ask yourself why you spent thousands of dollars until now on specially formulated, heavily processed, specially designed pet-chow instead of this.

How to Prepare a Complete Meal for Your Furry Friend

The most important thing to remember in this business is that dogs are omnivores just like us, not carnivores. That means they can be fed with virtually anything you eat. Okay, maybe except chocolate (it’s toxic for dogs because they lack an enzyme to digest it properly), coffee and cigarettes.

Dogs can be fed using all sorts of stuff beside meat. If you take a look at the listed ingredients in a dog food bag, you’ll understand the concept behind dog food. It’s a mixture of heavily processed meat (scraps, I bet) and veggies, plus synthetic vitamins and minerals. Feeding a dog with a protein-rich diet (meats mostly) will make him more aggressive and hyper active, so you must try to achieve an optimum balance of protein, carbs and fiber.

The most simple and nutritious recipe for DIYing dog food at your home is a mixture of rice (brown or white), protein (pork, chicken, game, tuna, beef or even eggs) and vegetables (peas, beans, carrots, or a mixture of these). The ingredients can be mixed roughly in thirds; I mean one part protein, one part veggies and one part rice. If you have a very active dog, you can put more rice in the mix.

The cheapest rice (also suitable for storing a long time) is available in places like Costco or other retail outlets (Amazon.com is a good idea too) and you should buy 25-50 pounds at once because it’s the most inexpensive solution.

Another reason to buy in bulk is that you can eat rice too. It’s quite nutritious, especially brown rice.  Rice and beans cooked together make for a complete protein i.e. a highly nutritious survival-food and, just like rice, dried beans can be stored for a long time and they’re dirt cheap if bough in large quantities.

The meat part is a tad more difficult; I mean if you want to store meats long term, you have two possibilities: to can them or to freeze them. The latter doesn’t have much to do with survival, as I imagine electricity would be the first thing to go when SHTF, so you’ll end up with large quantities of defrosting meat which will be inedible in a matter of hours or a couple of days.

Therefore, you’ll have to resort to canned meat, which is not as hard as it sounds. And you can make your own supplies in the process, that’s the “bang for your buck”  part I was talking about in the preamble of the article.

For my dog, I would try to can organ meats, as they’re highly nutritious and also very cheap. There’s another possibility: prepare large quantities of dog food using the aforementioned recipe, and can it for long-term storage.

Canning implies having a lot of glass-jars filled with the respective stuff (meats/prepared dog food) and using one of the two methods: boiling water bath or pressure caning. The boiling water method is the most simple and cheap, and boiling kills all the food induced illnesses and microorganisms that are abundant in most of the regular foods.

The pressure canning method requires a special device and it does basically the same thing, but using higher temperatures and pressures than the first method.

Obviously, in case of an emergency you can always feed your dog with leftovers or food scraps from your dinner; he won’t mind a bit, assuming that you actually have ingredients to make your own dinner.

If you have other ideas or methods about making or storing survival dog food, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

GOT CHARCOAL?

I think every prepper with a bug out bag should have at least 1 bottle of Activated Charcoal capsules, or powder for making tonic drinks.  For those who already have their homestead or Bug Out location, I advise MAKING charcoal and having as much as possible on hand (ground up) ready to use.

In the times ahead, I see lots of people eating lots of things that under “normal” circumstances they would not, or indulging in food a little too old.  You may even have to trade for food you are not 100% certain of quality or origin.  After the first sign of food poisoning or any poisoning/bowel distress, get the charcoal in you as fast as you can! It draws toxins like flies to honey saving you from hours or DAYS of serious distress, maybe even possibly save your life.

Uses for charcoal

Uses and benefits: upset stomach, colic, nausea, vomiting, acid indigestion, gas, and more.  Another great use for your quality homemade charcoal is as BIO CHAR. You would want to smash it into a chunky powder leaving no piece bigger than a golf ball.  Mix your charcoal with your compost and manure and let if sit.  Just as it absorbs poisons, it also provides the perfect home for beneficial bacteria for your garden.  Once the charcoal is infused with all the good stuff, TILL it into your soil with the compost and manure normally. The cool thing about  your little bio-char / bacteria  houses that you’ve mix up, is that they can release the beneficial nutrients for 100 years.  Thus turning poor soil into prime farm land and makes prime farmland even better. Try it!  You’ll thank me.

There are a lot of other uses for your charcoal such as homemade water filters that you can use to purify rainwater or whatever water source you want.  Some of you may also recall that episode of  ‘preppers’ where that guy was using charcoal between two filter masks.  He covered the inner layer with charcoal and then duct taped the two face masks together.  The charcoal will act as the filter in this method.  I have not tried it myself but the idea seems sound to me.

I also just learned that high-end speakers use activated charcoal to filter sound.  I know it does something as far as frequency in the soil, beneficially, but I just learned of this myself and don’t know enough to speak on it.  I’m including it here in hopes that someone out there smarter than me might comment as to what it’s all about or for those that want to research this on your own.

How to Prep For Feminine Hygiene Needs

We have grown so reliant on throwaway products for perfectly natural events that sometimes people wonder how on earth they would deal with it if suddenly those products were unavailable.  Of course, for many centuries we handled things like menstruation without access to the local Wal-Mart, and with just a little bit of preparation we could do so again.

This issue of feminine hygiene is an important one not only from the perspective of personal, feminine comfort, but for overall health and prevention of bacterial infections and other nasties.

Guys, if you are not comfortable with the topic of feminine hygiene, feel free to skip over this one or send it off to one of your lady friends who most assuredly will thank you.  On the other hand, it is important to have an understanding of others and the challenges they face following a disruptive event, so, for that reason, I hope you stick around.

History of Feminine Hygiene

With most topics relating to preparedness, the answers we seek come from the past, and the subject of feminine hygiene is no different.

Throughout history, women have used two means of absorbing menstrual fluids: external protection, like a pad, and internal protection, like a tampon.

Women have fashioned absorbent pads from materials like animal skins, oil silk, wadding, paper, wood fibers, linen, and wool. The pads were held in place by belts or string.

What many people don’t know is that from as early as ancient Egypt (1850 BCE) women were fashioning tampons for internal protection. They have used sea sponges, bits of fabric like cotton or wool, rolled up and tied with string, papyrus, and even moss or grass to absorb their flows.

In the early 1800s, many documents indicate that women simply wore dark undergarments and clothing and did not use anything additional to absorb the fluids. It wasn’t until about the mid-1800s that a rubber menstrual cup was patented. Most women, however, made their own products to deal with their periods during that time.

The Tampax company began producing the first disposable, mass-produced tampons in the early 1930s. The first modern menstrual cup was patented in 1937 but was unable to compete with the convenience of the disposable tampons. The first disposable pads that came out had to be pinned to the underwear until the 1950s, when sanitary belts began to become popular. In the 1960s, pads with adhesive strips revolutionized feminine hygiene.

The Feminine Hygiene Preps You Should Make

While it is interesting to see what was used throughout history, I doubt that any of us wish to use moss to deal with that time of the month. If you are a woman of childbearing age, or if you have daughters, even ones too young to be menstruating, you will want to make preparations to deal with menstruation in the event a time comes that you can’t make a quick, monthly trip to Wal-Mart or the drugstore.

Feminine preparedness is something that is often overlooked by those of us that write about prepping. After receiving a number of questions from readers, I felt it was high time that I became educated to some of the alternatives to traditional, disposable methods for dealing with the monthly menses.

It is my wish that the following suggestions will help you to get some feminine hygiene preps in order.

Stockpile Sanitary Napkins and Tampons

When times are stressful, it can be helpful to avoid as many changes as possible. If you stockpile several months’ supply of sanitary napkins and tampons, you may be able to ride out the event that has kept you from being able to purchase them at the store.  Purchase additional packages of disposable products each month and stash them away for a time in which you need them.

As well, if the event causes water to be in short supply, having some disposable products on hand will keep you from using your valuable supply to soak soiled cloths.

The best way to dispose of soiled menstrual products is to burn them.

Why You Should Consider Reusable Products

In a long-term scenario,  you will need solutions that can be reused and don’t require disposal. Not many people could stock up on enough disposable supplies to last forever. Don’t forget that reusable pads can also be used for minor incontinence and post-birth bleeding, making them handy for many different stages in a woman’s life.

Some women are turning to reusable solutions voluntarily.  This has several benefits. First, they are able to avoid the potentially unhealthy chemicals used in the manufacture of pads and tampons. Second, they are being kind to the planet by reducing waste. Thirdly, they save a lot of money by not having to make a purchase each month.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, if the SHTF, they are already accustomed to dealing with these methods of feminine hygiene.

Buy Cloth Pads

Most of the ready-made cloth pads that you can buy these days are really comfortable and convenient. Popular materials are cotton, flannel, and bamboo. Gone are the days of pins and belts. Today, most of these pads are made with little wings. Where disposable pads would have adhesive to keep them in place, on the wings of the reusable pads are Velcro or snaps that wrap around and fasten the pad to your underwear.

You should plan on a variety of pads to meet the different needs of your cycle. You will want to purchase half a dozen pantyliners and overnight/heavy flow pads and about 12 daytime pads. You can save money buy purchasing an entire kit. While this looks expensive, keep in mind that this is a one-time purchase that will last 5 years or longer if you take care of it properly.

DIY Some Cloth Pads

If you are into saving money and DIY, it is a fairly simple project to make your own pads.

This two-part video tutorial will walk you through the steps of making your own pads.

Caring for Cloth Pads

Another question that often arises when discussing cloth pads is, “What do you do with them when you are out or are away from home?”.

You can treat them basically like cloth diapers. When you remove the soiled pad, use the snaps to fold the soiled area inward. Then, place it in a sturdy Ziploc freezer bag or one of these “wet bags” designed for feminine hygiene products.

If you are at home, of course, it is exponentially easier. Rinse the pad in cold running water. Then, put it in a container under the bathroom sink that contains a white vinegar and water solution. This will keep any stains from setting in until you have a chance to wash it thoroughly. Generally, pads are machine washable and can be dried on low. If you want to be discreet about washing them, use a mesh lingerie bag to keep them together in the laundry.

Avoid using bleach, as it will break down the fibers of your pads and reduce the lifespan. Avoid using fabric softener, too, because it can cause the pad to be less absorbent.

This video goes into more detail about washing your pads.

Internal Protection

Some women truly dislike using pads because they find them uncomfortable. There are a couple of safe methods of internal protection, too.

The Menstrual Cup

One of the most popular reusable solutions is the menstrual cup. Generally made of flexible silicone, these cups are inserted vaginally and collect the menstrual flow. They are removed, dumped, rinsed, and reinserted.

The most popular menstrual cup on the market is the Diva Cup. It comes in two sizes, pre-childbirth and post childbirth. A newcomer to the market, the Blossom Cup, is about half the price and has fantastic reviews.

Sponges

A product used for centuries, natural sponges are absorbent, safe, and reliable methods for internal protection.

To use the sponge, simply dampen it, squeeze it out, and insert it. You can tie a string around it for easier removal. Rinse well, squeeze out, and reinsert. You can use the same sponge for numerous cycles, until it begins to break down and become less absorbent.  When your cycle is over, soak the sponge in hydrogen peroxide, then air dry it thoroughly before storing it away.

You can purchase sponges that are sold as sponge tampons if you want to pay 6 times the price, but any sea sponge will work. You can cut them to size if the sponge piece is too large for comfortable insertion.

The Final Word

Feminine hygiene preps are often overlooked as we pay attention to things like food, shelter, fire, and water. Although I am well past the age of needing this type of prep for myself, I do believe that this is something many preppers need and thus is deserving of our attention.

If you are a woman or if you live with women (or girls), prepare for your monthly needs in the same way that you would for any other regular occurrence. Build a stockpile to meet immediate needs, and prepare a back-up in the event that the crisis lasts for a longer period of time.

As far as comfort in a disaster is concerned, having some solutions in place could greatly relieve anxiety and inconvenience in a stressful scenario.

4 WILD TEAS EVERY SURVIVALIST SHOULD KNOW

Besides the medicinal and nutritional aspects of many teas, a warm beverage in a dire situation can be the perfect pick me up to boost your mood when times get rough. While it can be pretty difficult to find earl grey leaves to make yourself a nice cup of tea in a survival scenario, the ingredients for these four teas can be found relatively frequently in the wilderness.

Great for relieving headaches, boosting your immune system, and relaxing dry coughs, these really are four wild teas every survivalist should know about.

The value of a warm beverage in a survival scenario is nothing to laugh at. What could be dismissed as a luxury is actually a valuable asset. The drink provides you with vital hydration in any climate or situation. In cold weather, the warm drink can bolster you against hypothermia. And if there is a medicinal or nutritional element to the tea, that’s even better. Any survivalist worth his or her salt should be able to identify and brew up these prospective panaceas. Get ready for tea time.

Pine Needle Tea (Pinus spp.)
This tea is a Vitamin C powerhouse. Positively identify pine, chop up a tablespoon of needles, and soak them in scalding hot water for 10 minutes to get 4-5 times your daily requirement of C. Just make sure you skip the loblolly and ponderosa pines, as their needles may be a little toxic, according to recent research. And don’t consume pine needle tea if you are pregnant, as it may cause premature birth.

Mint Tea (Mentha spp.)
There are few better remedies for digestive troubles than a cool glass of mint tea. It can certainly be drunk while hot, but a cool beverage seems to be as soothing as a slug of pink Pepto. It’s good for indigestion, colic, and hangover. Mint is also used in aromatherapy to allegedly improve your concentration and diminish depression. There’s just one problem with this elixir. Pregnant or nursing women aren’t supposed to consume strong, fresh mint food or drink; and anyone with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may find their condition temporarily worsened as the valve at the top of the stomach can be relaxed by menthol (the oily compound in mint).

Black Willow Tea (Salix nigra)
Bark from several species in the willow family, including the black willow, has been used since 400 B.C. to treat inflammation and pain. Black willow bark contains salicin, a predecessor to aspirin. It was once common for people to chew directly on the shaved bark for pain and fever relief, but a better effect is gained through the tea. Steep a tablespoon of twig bark shavings in a cup of water for 15 minutes, and drink until your headache is gone. Not all willows can be used in the same ways, so consult a local plant expert to find out what your local willows can provide.

Slippery Elm Tea (Ulmus rubra)
The bark shavings of twigs from slippery elm can be steeped just like the black willow, but instead of curing a headache, this tea cures a cough. The natural mucilage in the slimy bark will coat and relax your dry cough, and it is much safer than other natural cough remedies (like colt’s foot, which can be toxic to the liver).

If you’re not sure about all this plant eating and foraging, don’t let a few bad plants scare you away from gathering wild foods. Take a respectable field guide with you, and use it.  My top recommendation is “Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.” Although it is advertised as an eastern plant book, it works well on the west coast, too. In fact, many of the plants in this book are non-native to America, and are scattered around the globe.

Do you have a favorite wild tea? Tell us about it in the comments. Good luck and safe foraging.

Types of Campfire

Having a campfire is a big part of camping. But do you know what type of campfire to make?

Don’t believe everything you watch on TV or see in the movies. There are different types of campfire. Some are best for heat and light, others are best for cooking over.

TV shows and films often have a roaring fire with pots and other items cooking over the flames.

Whilst it’s not impossible to cook that way, you’ll usually end up with burnt andundercooked food.

Hot coals and embers are actually much better to cook over as they give out a good steady heat, and it’s easier to control the temperature by adding or taking away hot coals.

Flame tends to burn yet not get that hot, at least not hot enough to cook the inside of your food before it scorches the outside.

If you want to do a lot of campfire cooking for your family, I recommend you get a Dutch Oven.

Dutch Ovens and other cast iron cookware work really well with hot coals, as the heat from the coals transfers to the iron, making it ideal for frying, baking, and roasting.

Let’s look at a few different types of campfire.

The Tepee is the classic looking campfire and is ideal when you want to create a quick fire to warm up with.

Pile up dry tinder kindling and set it alight. Then start placing sticks around it in a tepee shape, making sure that you don’t smother the fire.

As the fire gets bigger you can use larger sticks and logs.

This is a good fire that puts out a tall flame and heat in all directions, making it an ideal campfire to sit around in the evening.

You will need plenty of fuel close to hand as this type of fire burns quickly.

However, the tepee campfire is not a good choice if you want to cook food.

If you want a campfire to cook over, then you need to build a Criss-Cross fire.

You build this by simply placing a criss-cross of logs, stacked on top of one another.

I find it easier to light by creating a small depression in the ground and start a small fire with dry kindling first, then start adding more small twigs to the fire, and then build the crisscrossed logs above the fire.

Although the fire’s shape does provide a flat platform to cook things over, eventually the logs will collapse in on themselves.

This is not a problem, as it’s the hot embers and coals that this sort of fire makes that you then use for cooking with.

So what if you want to sit around a campfire and cook? How can you have a good campfire that does both?

Well, the ideal solution is a Keyhole Firepit.

You cut a keyhole shape in the ground and start a Tepee fire in the round part of the keyhole.  This fire provides light and warmth.

Now you can either wait for the Tepee fire to create enough hot embers or start a second fire for cooking with.

If you decide to wait, then rake hot embers from the main fire into the slot where you can cook food.

Alternatively, start a small criss-cross fire in the slot to create some embers while the tepee fire is warming everyone and lighting up the camp.

The Swedish Torch campfire is very popular on the internet. After all, using this design, a single log can burn for hours.  Sounds amazing, right?

The concept is quite simple.

You cut some slits into a log. You stand the log on its end and start a fire in the top. As the fire embers fall into the slits the log starts to burn.

Air is drawn into the slits and the log burns down from the top and the inside.

We’ve created something like this before, and although you can have a log burning for a long time, it doesn’t give out as much heat or light, so a group of you at a campsite won’t be keeping warm by this fire, unlike a tepee fire. Though if there’s just one or two of you and don’t have much wood, the Swedish Torch could be a good choice.

You’ll also want make sure the log is firm. You don’t want it falling over, especially with kids around.

If the top of the log is also flat you could place a small pan or pot on the top and use the log to cook on. The Swedish Torch does put out a lot of heat at the top of the log.

Here’s a video from the internet on making a Swedish Torch campfire.

So there you go, a couple of different methods of creating a campfire.

Here’s a handy summary:

22 Absolutely Essential Diagrams You Need For Camping

From survival to s’mores, here’s everything you need to know to ensure a flawless camping trip.

1. How to Build a Campfire

2. Tent Tips

3. Everything You Need to Know About the Technicality of S’mores

4. How to Estimate Remaining Daylight with Your Hand

5. Snacks to Pack

6. What You Can Do to Repel Mosquitoes

7. How to Sleep Warm

8. How to Survive Hypothermia

9. Backpacker’s Checklist

10. How to Rig a Tarp

11. How to Get Your Dutch Oven to the Right Temperature

12. How to Identify Animal Tracks

13. Know Your Stargazing Events This Summer

14. 10 Easy Fire Starters

15. Kayak Camping Checklist

16. A Guide to Hammock Camping

17. Guide to Spider Bites

18. Checklist for Car Camping

19. How to Make Shelters in Survival Situations Using Nature

20. How to React to a Wildlife Encounter

21. Tarp Tips

22. Know Your Poisonous Plants

4 Ways to Storm-proof Your Home

Throughout the year, especially in the spring and summer, you might experience severe storms at your home. Protect your home before severe weather arrives by walking around the home and making a list of what needs to be done. When you know what you need to fix, then you can begin to get the materials that are needed so that your family is protected.

Roofing

Check the shingles of the roof to make sure there aren’t any that are loose. If there are strong winds in the storm, then the shingles could get blown away. At times, the roof could receive damage to the point that there are small holes, which would allow water to get inside the home. When you’re checking the roof, it’s best to check the gutters as well to make sure they are clear of debris, allowing water to drain. If your roof needs repairs, be sure to consult a roofing and construction professional.

Trees

Keep limbs of trees and hedges cleared away from the sides of the home, windows and the roof. You should also check with the electrical company to see if limbs can be cut away from power lines. If a tree limb, or tree, were to fall in the direction of the home or near a line, then it could prove disastrous as windows could be broken, and power could be lost. Any dead trees should be cut down as they are the weakest in the yard and the easiest to blow over.

Shutters and Doors

Make sure the windows and doors are supported. Qualified construction companies can install shutters on the windows to help decrease the possibilities of debris flying into the home during a severe storm. Ordinary glass windows usually don’t withstand against harsh winds the way storm-proof windows can. Doors can also be reinforced with a second storm door to provide a bit of protection if hail, rain, or debris does get blown into the front of the home.

The Extras

One of the things that you might not think about right before a storm is that there are toys and other items outside that can get tossed in the air. Keep all of the loose items, such as water hoses, toys and gardening tools, in a secure area. This could be a storage shed or a small plastic container that is secured to the ground.

Before storm season arrives is the time to make sure the home is protected. Examine the windows to see that they are reinforced. Check the roof as well as the limbs on the trees to minimize damage. Keep the little things put away so that they aren’t blown into the side of the home. These tips can help keep your home and family safe.

7 Ways to Use Medicinal Herbs at Home

imgLearning how to use herbs in your home medicine kit is an age old tradition our forefathers and mothers knew. Seeing a resurgence in folks like you and me who want to preserve these old time remedies makes my heart warm like a hearth stone near a crackling fire.

7 Ways to Use Medicinal Herbs at Home

1. Herbal Tea. Some herbs are meant to be ingested and brewing a strong tea is a good way to do this, especially for cough and colds as a warm tea will help soothe an irritated throat like little else. Some of our favorite medicinal herbs and those recommend by readers for this method include echinacea, licorice root (7 herbs for natural remedies for the cautions of this herb), ginger, lemon, and sage.

There are a few ways to make your tea, you can use fresh or dried leaves.

How to prepare herbal tea at home

Fresh leaves: Rinse fresh herb leaves under cold running water and place about three large leaves in the bottom of a cup. Pour hot water over and allow to seep for up to 7  minutes.

Dried leaves: A tea ball (I use this stainless steel tea ball all the time and even have put spices in it when making jams or brines) or infuser works the best when using dried leaves. Fill your tea ball with dried leaves and pour hot water over and allow to seep for about 7 minutes, or to your desired strength.

Many people like a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime.

Flavoring options:

For therapeutic use I’ll put some raw honey in my warm tea if I have a cough, otherwise I prefer not to add sugar, but if it needs some sweetness, then I use a few drops of this Stevia Extract.  I don’t detect any bitter or weird after taste and have been using it for over a year now, I even use it when making sauces… shhh, don’t tell my kids, they can’t tell the difference.

Learn how to dry  your own herbs in our Ultimate Home Food Preservation Guide

2. Herbal Poultice. This is where you take the leaves (or sometimes root of the plant) and place them into a piece of gauze or muslin, apply to the affected area (feel like I’m at work typing out prescription instructions with that one) and leave it on for the preferred duration of time.

How to Prepare an Herbal Poultice

There are two ways to make a poultice, one is using the leaves and roots raw and the other is heating them.

For the raw poultice: finely chop up the leaves/roots or use your blender and make a puree. Place this into your gauze or muslin. For a case study and more in depth look at using comfrey for this method go here.

For a hot poultice: Take the leaves/roots and place them in a saucepan with a double ratio of water to herb (example 1/4 cup herbs to 1/2 cup water), bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. For more information on this method check out how to make an herbal poultice and compress tutorial here.

How long to leave poultice on: The time will vary depending upon the ailment and the herb, for example, mustard poultice would not be left on for a long period of time due to its hot burning nature, where as a comfrey poultice might be left on for up to 24 hours. You need to replace your poultice regularly.

You’ll want to use gauze or a breathable fabric over your poultice to keep the poultice in place and to help protect your clothing.

3. Infusion or Decoction. An herbal infusion is simply an herbal tea fully matured… instead of allowing the herbs to seep for minutes, you let the tea seep for an hour, putting it on super strength. Confession: I’ve done this with tea simple because I forgot about it.

Glow Sticks: 10 Reasons You Want Them in Your Bug Out Bag

When you are putting together your bug out bag, there is a long list of gear you will want to add. Things like a knife, water purification tablets and a flashlight are all at the top of the list of essential gear. As you get to packing your bag, you will likely discover you have a little extra room. You can always squeeze in a little extra something that gives you an edge in a survival situation. One of the things you should add are glow sticks.

Glow sticks are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased in bulk for even more cost savings. Some people will assume they don’t need the glow sticks because they already have a flashlight and a way to start a fire. However, there are some other reasons you should add the glow sticks to your bug out bag or stash a pack or two in your emergency supplies.

1-Glow sticks are perfect for adding just enough light to a camp spot without being overly bright. They make perfect night lights for those nights you won’t have a fire.

2-Glow sticks can be used to mark a trail or set near something like an outhouse or the car to act as a beacon.

3-The sticks are waterproof and will stay lit, even in the rain and snow.

4-They can be used to indicate your location if you are trying to be rescued.

5-Kids or members of your group can wear a stick on their shirt or around their wrist so you can see them in the dark.

6-Glow sticks can be left at your camp while you go off looking for firewood, food or water without fear they will start a fire.

7-They can be easily hidden should you need to hide in the darkness.

8-The sticks can amuse children for hours.

9-The sticks are much safer to use than a candle and do not require any batteries.

10-You can use a glow stick at any time, even if you suspect there may be flammable gas in the area. If you are in the house after an earthquake and natural gas is present, a glow stick will not ignite.

The glow sticks are inexpensive and most will last for about 12 hours. You can pick up smaller glow sticks at the dollar store or order the larger sticks that are meant to be used in a survival situation online.

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock by Serac Hammocks

With the sun shining once again, it’s about time to dust off that hammock. Oh, you don’t have one? Didn’t you hear? Hammock camping is the new thing. It’s lighter, cozier, and way cooler than any other sleeping method around. Snark aside, hammocks are on the rise, and this has furthered a new crop of hammock-related questions.

One of the most common: What about bugs?

We got in touch with Jeff Zhang of Serac Hammocks, who wrote a guest post for us on how to bug proof your hammock. Serac Hammocks sells just one type of hammock — the Classic, which is lightweight, knot-free, and a screaming deal. The company is dead set on increasing awareness about hammock camping, and recently released a free e-book that describes everything about the process. We covered that here.

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock

As the weather gets warmer and the temperature rises, mosquitoes come out to play. Mosquitoes are completely inactive in the winter, hibernating through the cold months. But once the temperature warms, the mosquitoes begin to come out in force. I hate mosquitoes, but they sure as heck love me. To keep my undesired suitors at bay, I always make sure I’m properly equipped to bug proof my hammocks. Here are a couple ways to make your next trip sucker free.

Get a Jungle Hammock

A jungle hammock is a style of hammock that features a built in mosquito net. These hammocks provide full protection even in the buggiest conditions. They are often sold as complete shelters and can run several hundred dollars.

A cheaper alternative to a jungle hammock are parachute hammocks with a built in mosquito net. These hammocks are essentially the same as the popular parachute nylon camping hammocks, but with an attached bug net. These hammocks can also be used as a normal hammock by flipping it over, making it a versatile choice. This way, you can just hang out without being constricted within the net.

But watch out for low quality netting. A net that feels soft and lightweight might be comfortable to to the touch, but they will tear easily. A single hole in your netting can make it all but useless. Instead opt for a bug net that has strong individual fibers with a more textured feel.

Use a Mosquito Net Designed for Hammocks

If you aren’t looking to buy a new hammock just to fight some mosquitoes, you can still find great protection for your hammock. Many types of netting exist that are designed specifically for your hammock. The concept for all of them is essentially the same. The hammock is strung through the mosquito net through two openings on each end. The mosquito net is suspended with a ridgeline above the hammock. You can get in and out of the mosquito net through a zipper on one side.

A separate mosquito net provides 360 degrees of protection for your hammock. Unlike a built in mosquito net, a separate mosquito net will prevent insects from landing on the outer layer of the hammock itself. This reduces the chance of persistent critters biting through the fabric. This ridgeline style setup is also very easy to master.

Treat your Hammock and Gear with Permethrin

Sometimes we just want to sleep under the stars without a net obstructing our view. If you don’t want to fumble with a bug net, you can treat your equipment with permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic molecule that is similar to pyrethrum, a natural compound found in chrysanthemum flowers. Permethrin not only repels insects, but it will kill ticks, mosquitoes and all sorts of other buggers on contact. It is the active ingredient in many insect repelling fabrics. It kills insects that come in contact with it by overloading their nervous system. But for us, don’t worry, it’s nontoxic and completely safe for topical use on anyone over the age of 2 months.

You can buy spray bottles of permethrin to apply to your own gear. Once properly applied, it is odorless and leaves no residue. A hammock treated with permethrin combined with insect repellent makes a powerful mosquito shield. This is great for people that are weight conscious about their gear or simply don’t want a mosquito net. Keep in mind that permethrin has “spatial repellency” to insects. This means that mosquitoes may swarm around you, but they will not land on a hammock that has been treated.

Use Natural Mosquito Repellents and Camp Away from Water

The easiest way to avoid mosquitoes is to set up camp far away from where they are likely to be. Mosquitoes tend to swarm around water sources where the females lays her eggs. Campsites that are far away from rivers and lakes will have a much lower concentration of mosquitoes. Having a hammock gives you plenty of options for campsites. However, this will only reduce the overall number of mosquitoes. It’s very hard to completely be rid of them.

Natural insect repellents exist also exist, but are less effective than netting or chemicals. Natural oils like citronella are effective mosquito repellents. You can apply these to your skin before camping in your hammock. Drinking a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar can also reduce the amount of mosquito bites you’ll encounter.

Don’t Let the Mosquitoes Stop You!

All of this is our best advice, but keep in mind that when we’re outdoors, mosquitoes are often a fact of life. But just because they’re buzzing around, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy a trip into the wild! Whether you get a mosquito proof hammock or simply modify your existing one, hammock without fear the next time you’re out.

More than 100,000 People Can’t Drink the Contaminated Tap Water in Alabama…Until September!

It really seems as though issues with municipal water supplies are occurring more frequently. More than 100,000 residents have been told that they can’t drink or cook with the contaminated tap water in Alabama by the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority…but this isn’t just a week-long clean-up.  The restriction is expected to last until September.

The issue is synthetic chemicals that have the potential to cause cancer, birth defects, and developmental delays in children.  Traces of PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) were found in the blood of nearly every single person tested, according to the EPA.

This is a contaminant I covered in my book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide when I wrote about the fact that some suspected toxins in municipal water supplies are not actually regulated.

The EPA has drinking water regulations for more than 90 contaminants. Currently, the agency is monitoring 30 contaminants that presently are not regulated, 28 of which are chemicals and two of which are viruses.

In late 2013, researchers from the US Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed single samples of untreated and treated water from 25 US utilities that voluntarily participated in the project. They found traces of 18 unregulated chemicals, including 11 perfluorinated compounds, an herbicide, two solvents, caffeine, an antibacterial compound, a metal, and an antidepressant. The researchers said the concentrations were generally low, but for many of the contaminants, little is known about potential health risks. But one of the perfluorinated compounds, known as PFOA, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer among people in communities where water is contaminated by a chemical plant in West Virginia.

PFOA has been detected in the blood of nearly all people in the US. Even more disturbing? A panel of scientists has concluded that there is a “probable link” between PFOA in drinking water and high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension. The findings were based on people in Mid-Ohio Valley communities whose water was polluted with PFOA from a DuPont plant.[1]

[1] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/unregulated-chemicals-foundin-drinking-water

The water authority blames 3M for the contaminated tap water in Alabama.

Let the finger-pointing and buck-passing begin. Last year, the water authority filed a suit against “3M and other companies” over the contamination in the river. If I’m understanding that correctly (and I’m pretty sure I am) that means they were aware of this issue long before the advisory was issued on May 19. So, much like the Flint scandal, those in the know were aware that customers (who pay for water) were drinking cancer-water.

3M, however, says not to worry. You’ll be fine.

“Attorney William Brewer, who represents 3M in the matter, said via email that the company has followed the law and disputed the claims that the substances are harmful.

“3M’s activities in connection with these materials were not only fully permitted but entirely appropriate,” Brewer said. “In any event, we believe the claims against 3M – and recent actions taken by the water authority – are based upon the mistaken belief that the mere presence of these chemicals equals harm.”

3M stopped manufacturing both chemicals more than a decade ago, yet the substances remain in the water at elevated levels. Environmental group Tennessee Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue 3M last year over contamination of the river.

Dr. Carol Ley, 3M vice president and corporate medical director, said the company has not found evidence of negative health impacts among its own workers, who were exposed to the chemicals for long periods of time.

“Although we support the work of the EPA and other regulators, we believe these advisory levels are overly conservative,” Ley said in a news release. “We believe that PFOS and PFOA do not present health risks at levels they are typically found in the environment or in human blood.””

Oh. Well, gee. In that case, folks can just guzzle away. I’m sure 3M will take responsibility if they get cancer from excess levels of PFOS and PFOA, right?

You can’t boil away or filter away this type of contamination.

The thing with chemical contamination is that the water simply can’t be purified.  Boiling it, in many cases, simply intensifies the strength of the toxins.  Filtering it does nothing to remove the chemicals. (Although I have high hopes for this water filter that was the only one I’m aware of that made the water in West Virgina and Toledo safe to drink. They’re currently running tests with these particular chemicals and I’ll let you know the resulst as soon as I know.) That’s the case in this northern Alabama community. According to an RT report, WMEL general manager Don Sims gave a press conference.

“I recommend that all our customers do not drink our water, until we are able to bring the temporary system our engineer is designing online,” Sims said at a news conference.

The warning covers not only fresh water, but even water boiled and filtered at home, since neither method can remove the chemical contaminants.

After building up in people and animals over time, PFOS and PFOA can also cause liver and thyroid damage, as well as immune system problems, with small children and expectant women the two categories most at risk.

The company is hard at work, engineering a temporary system to the tune of $4 million. The system is “a granular activated carbon system that forces water through six box-car sized filters before sending it on to customers.”  The permanent system won’t be ready until 2019 and will cost somewhere between $30 million and $50 million.

Meanwhile, as every prepper knows often happens in a disaster, residents are completely on their own in this far-from-wealthy area. (Hmm….do you think their bills will be adjusted to reflect this?)

The last census pinpointed the per capita income for the city at only $23,615, with 17.5% of the population living below the poverty line. But, while the company is spending millions on expensive filtration systems, those who were unprepared for this type of disaster with stored water will be using bottled. And they’ll be doing so alone, because, according to the website AL.com, “The authority said it does not have the means to provide bottled water for its customers in the interim.”

So not only will people be scrambling to afford to buy bottled water, with this much need for it, they’ll probably have to drive elsewhere to acquire it.  If you’ve ever been on a really tight budget, you know that an unexpected expense like that can be crippling.

Are you testing your own tap water?

It used to be that you only had to worry about drinking the tap water when you visited third world countries and places without public water purification. But more and more, it seems that advisories will be issued to travelers:  “Don’t drink the water in America.”

The thing about this that should send shudders down the spines of everyone who, you know, drinks or cooks with water, is the fact that we have no idea how long the water was contaminated with cancer-causing agents before it was discovered and the warning issued. But there are many contaminants that could be in your water, and if we’ve learned anything from the scandal in Flint, Michigan, it should be this:

YOU WILL BE THE LAST TO KNOW.

Here’s another quick excerpt from The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide about water testing.

Even if you are getting presumably safe “city water” from a municipal supply, you should be provided with an annual report that explains what kind of testing was done on your water and what was found, if anything. Of course, if you aren’t the trusting type, you can still test that water yourself as an added precaution.

If you have a well or are collecting water from a source that is not monitored and regulated, you will need to take responsibility for testing and purifying your water yourself.

Studies have shown that around 50 percent of private water systems fail at least one drinking water standard.

Many common pollutants do not cause water to smell, taste, or look funny, so you can’t rely on your senses to determine safety.

Water is a “universal solvent,” meaning that it has the ability to dissolve almost anything it comes into contact with. This characteristic means that it is very easily contaminated.

Most testing isn’t expensive, and the time and financial investment will provide you with priceless peace of mind. Not only is your family’s health at stake, there are possible legal consequences involved. Think about how litigious our society is: If someone consumes your water and becomes ill, you’ll want to be able to prove that you conducted the proper testing on a regular basis. And, should you suspect your water supply has become contaminated by an outside source, you’ll want to have documentation to support your case.

 Testing Kits

You can test your water yourself or have a professional lab or service do it for you. Drinking water quality test kits are available for purchase online and at most superstores and home improvement stores. Basic kits usually test for bacteria, lead, nitrates/nitrites, pesticides, chlorine, hardness, and pH. They are fast, simple to use, and inexpensive. Your test kit will have instructions specific to that kit. Kits that test for less-common contaminants are also available. Some test for 15 or more contaminants, including the ones in the basic testing kits, plus iron, sulfate, copper, and sulfide.

Even more in-depth testing kits are available, but most of them require you to send your samples to a professional lab. Most of them check your water for around 100 different contaminants, including volatile organic compounds, toxic metals, heavy metals, and bacteria. The pricing for these comprehensive kits is typically in the $100 range, and results can take about a week to receive.

  • The Watersafe Well Water Test Kit was specifically designed to help you test quickly and easily for the 10 most common contaminants found in private wellwater, including: iron, copper, lead, bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine,pH and hardness.
  • The PurTest Home Water Analysis kit is a comprehensive EPA-based test kit that allows you to quickly and easily test your drinking water  for various contaminants and conditions. Tests included: 1 test each for bacteria, lead, & pesticide. Two (2) tests each for iron, alkalinity, pH, hardness, chlorine, copper, nitrate & nitrite.
  • The Essential Indicators test is the most thorough, but you have to send the water to their lab to get the results. The test checks for 170 health-related contaminants including Volatile Organic Compounds, Essential Elements, Heavy Metals and Inorganic Chemicals. You simply fill the bottles with your tap water and return them to our lab using the same box you received with the test kit. Within about 6 business days you will receive an email containing the results of your water test along with recommended treatment suggestions if a problem was found. The one family of contaminants that you will test for yourself are pathogenic bacteria, which, if present, can cause infectious diseases.

From a preparedness perspective, it makes sense to keep a few of these DIY kits on hand in the event you need to test water during a disaster situation. (Obviously, not the one you have to send off to a lab.)

You are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of your family.

Let me repeat: You’re going to be the last one to know. In the current case of contaminated tap water in Alabama, it’s obvious by the legal action taken by the water authority against 3M that they’ve known this was an issue since last year. And yet, somehow, the advisory has long just been issued, halfway through 2016.

In the current case of contaminated tap water in Alabama, it’s obvious by the legal action taken by the water authority against 3M that they’ve known this was an issue since last year. And yet, somehow, the advisory has long just been issued, halfway through 2016. We saw the same thing happen in the Flint, Michigan crisis, where it’s suspected that the EPA, the governor of the state, and assorted other “officials” were aware of the high levels of lead in the municipal water supply.

And you’re also responsible for having the means to keep your family healthy. That means, you absolutely must store water. You must have a way to purify safe sources of water. And, lastly,  you must educate yourself on how and when to do these things.

When I was researching The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide, I was blown away by the things I learned about the contaminants in our water every single day. Before that, I didn’t test my own water. I stored some water, but felt that most things could be filtered out by a high-quality system.

But that’s the natural stuff. You can’t purify water of many of these chemicals, and it’s important to learn the difference.

This is precisely why preppers talk about long-term water emergencies, and it’s such a realistic scenario that I wrote an entire book on the topic. It isn’t a far-fetched apocalyptic fantasy. It’s something that can (and does) happen, right here in America, without any type of warning. It’s a life-changing, even life-threatening, situation, but you can get ahead of it. You can prepare for these emergencies that are becoming more and more frequent.

How are your water preps coming along?

How To Survive Without Your Glasses

In the classic dystopian novel “Lord of the Flies,” one of the main characters, Piggy, is virtually incapacitated when his spectacles are broken and stolen by the other boys stranded on the island. For those of us who wear glasses, Piggy’s plight is one that strikes close to home. If you are a glasses-wearer, you have no doubt included optometric equipment in your emergency inventory. Many of you may recall previous articles on SurvivalBlog that have addressed this issue at length, encouraging all wearers to look into Lasik and stockpile extra prescription glasses, contacts, and contact solution. These are excellent, practical strategies that we should all consider while optometric health care abounds around us.

However, the true worst-case-scenario would be a situation where, for whatever reason, you find yourself devoid of all the above preparations. If disaster were to strike this instant, how many of us have proactively invested in Lasik or some alternative, such as gentle cornea molding? And even if we have stockpiled plenty of optical supplies, there may come a fateful day when our supplies are used up, lost, stolen, or separated from us.

This article addresses the true worst case scenario for glasses-wearers: finding yourself in a blurry apocalypse with no optometrists for another hundred years. In the following pages, I will lay out a survival plan that goes beyond stockpiling and instead focuses on adaptation and coping strategies in case these preparations fail.

To provide my personal background, I am nearsighted/myopic/have-trouble-seeing-objects-at-a-distance person. Without disclosing my actual prescription, I cannot see the numbers on the standard-size wall clock a few feet away from my desk without my glasses. The information below mostly applies to people who share my particular vision difficulty of nearsightedness. However, those who are farsighted, or have other vision conditions, will be able to adapt the strategies below to their own personal situation. Even if you are not a glasses-wearer, there is likely someone in your group or family who can benefit from this information.

Preparing for a Glasses-Bereft World

In this first section of this article, I will outline the three things I do right now to prepare for an optical worst-case-scenario. In the second half, I will explore the four methods I would rely on to regain my vision in a glasses-bereft world.

To begin, here are three things you can start doing today to prepare:

1. Practice Without Your Glasses

First, practice daily activities without your glasses on. This has a two-fold purpose. At once, it will condition you to learn to rely on vague shapes and colors instead of clear outlines. Secondly, this is a confidence building exercise. After you’ve successfully completed a task without your glasses, you will begin to see that you can and will cope with your natural vision. For me, personally, there have been times when I don’t remember what life looks like without glasses. My glasses are the first things I put on in the morning, and I don’t take them off until after dark, so it is very possible for me to forget what the world looks like without glasses. It is precisely this forgetfulness that I attempt to combat. I want to be comfortable without my glasses now, so that I can be confident if lose them in the future.

Some other suggested activities include cooking meals, cleaning the house and garage (a great exercise in trying to find small or misplaced objects without glasses), doing light work, taking walks, running, and working out. I work at a large company, and one activity I practice regularly is walking around my office building without my glasses, trying to see how quickly I can recognize people just from their dress, walk, height, and overall vibe, even though I can’t make out their faces until the last minute.

Please note that I would strongly discouraged practicing any dangerous tasks without glasses. It is not advised that you attempt driving, shooting, or operating any heavy machinery without your glasses.

2. Learn About Blindness

Secondly, for those who are serious about overcoming any dependency on their glasses, I would advise taking things one step further– practice being blind, either by closing your eyes or blindfolding yourself for a period of time. This exercise will help you to appreciate the limited vision that you do have and also help you learn to rely on your other senses for support. Studies show that blindness increases your brain’s attention to the other senses, and you can begin to cultivate that awareness to sound, smell, and touch. For this exercise, it’s important to start small. Begin by trying to walk around your own house with your eyes shut or covered. Then try to do simple tasks. Work your way up.

I would also advise studying how other people have dealt with vision impairment. Read a biography of Stevie Wonder or Louis Braille. Talk to friends and relatives you may know who are blind or vision impaired. You will be amazed and inspired by how these people have survived, and what they have been able to achieve.

Right now, before the good times are over, develop and embrace the appropriate psychology about your vision enhancements. For those of us who wear glasses, it can feel like glasses are everything! However, take some time to remind yourself of these truths: You CAN survive without your glasses. Many animals have poor vision but are wary through their other senses. You may need to become that kind of animal, and you can. Recall stories of people who have overcome physical limitations, injuries, and setbacks, and know that you share the same indomitable human spirit. Resolve that you will not let the absence of glasses hold you back.

For those who enjoy or benefit from reading post-apocalyptic fiction, I would strongly recommend that you read Blindness by José Saramago. This novel explores a world ravaged by an inexplicable epidemic of vision loss, and it provides a raw account of the collapse of society through the eyes of the last person with eyesight. This book pulls no punches in wallowing in the filth of the human condition and the misery surrounding an epidemic, but it also accurately details the struggles blind survivors would face as they attempt to find food, build a semblance of structure, and even engage in vicious fighting.

As an interesting literary device, the book is written without quotation marks. Initially disorienting to the reader, this lack of syntactic clues quickly mirrors the confusion felt by those who cannot see who is speaking or acting.

3. Master Vision-Independent Defense

Third, practice some form of in-your-face close quarters combat. If the apocalypse finds you without your glasses, let’s face it, you may not be the world’s future long distance marksman. However, being visually impaired does not mean that you are defenseless. For you, any combat you engage in is going to have to be up close and personal. You will need to learn how to steal close to your opponent, how to choose a battleground where natural cover or darkness eliminates everyone’s ability to see a threat far off. You will need to learn how to stay very still to wait for your enemy or prey to come close, within your field of vision, for you to ambush them.

Regarding actual techniques, it doesn’t take good eyesight to be effective at grappling, wrestling, and ground fighting. Because these forms of combat are so tactile focused and indifferent to your one weak sense, you should work on mastering them. If you’re close enough to throw an elbow, the fact that you don’t have your glasses won’t matter. Remember, rattlesnakes have pathetic eyesight, but this is of no comfort to their victims.

I participate in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Before I started wearing contacts, I had to take off my glasses to spar. I never felt disadvantaged as a result. There’s too much happening too fast in a sparring match for your brain to worry about specific details, and even if you have terrible vision, your brain will notice the movement that you need to respond to. All the MMA matches I’ve ever been in were a blur of motion, whether I was wearing contacts or not, and I have not noticed any personal improvement since I started doing MMA with contacts. The lack of overall detail you will observe during a sparring match will be all the more pronounced in an actual violent encounter. Take the time now to train in whatever martial art or combative sport you feel that you could comfortably do without your glasses.

Survival Strategies When Separated From Your Opticals

In the next part of this article, I’d like to share four survival strategies for practical things to do when you’ve lost or been separated from your optical cache, did not get Lasik while the world was still working, and/or just broke your last pair of glasses. As stated before, these are strategies for a true worst-case scenario, not a partial worst-case scenario, where you might still have access to your five-year stockpile of Acuvue and Opti-Free.

1. Salvage Existing Eyewear

The first thing you should do is salvage any remaining parts of any remaining glasses. Are the frames intact but the lenses cracked? Then, save the frames; you may be reunited with lenses at a later date. Is one lens unbroken? Wrap the edges in tape and attach a cord or wire to it, and convert it into a monocle. Remember, before Benjamin Franklin invented the spectacles, this was the norm. Even save the screws that hold the frames together, as these are highly unique. At a later date, you may be able to rebuild a pair of glasses from the pieces or find someone who can help you do so in exchange for some other good or service. If you come across discarded glasses, even reading glasses or sunglasses, take them with you.

2. Substitute Optics

Secondly, see if you can substitute any other optics, and designate them as your “eyewear.” Do you have anything else with lenses or magnification ability? If you have a rifle scope or binoculars, they can be adjusted to compensate for your poor distance vision. You may need to become “joined at the eye” with this piece of gear. Take your scope off your rifle, tie it around your neck, and develop a habit of frequently raising it to your eye as you walk around. I know, to many survivalists, what I just said is tantamount to saying “Tear out the pages of your bible and use them for kindling,” but while this is definitely not ideal, it may be the best you can do.

Cameras won’t work long after electricity has failed, but the viewfinder of most professional cameras can be focused manually to accommodate inferior eyesight. If the camera does not have a viewfinder that works without electricity, take the camera apart and see what you can do with the lenses inside. Have you taken apart your dead cellphone yet and harvested the lenses from your cellphone camera? Consider that, in the present environment, your role is that of an early scientist in the Renaissance age: one of your tasks of survival is to “invent” something that will help you see. Fortunately, in a post-consumer-electronics world, there will be many discarded devices that contain lenses and optics. Regardless of your vision restrictions, you may be able to find something that works for you.

3. Build a Telescope

Along the lines of the above point, building a telescope should be at the top of your to-do list. In its simplest form, a telescope captures an image on the “objective,” which is either a mirror or a lens (in a “refractor” or “reflector” telescope, respectively), and then uses another lens to enhance the captured image.

In our worst-case scenario, a telescope will be a valuable tool, enabling you to see objects in the distance clearly, and even scan middle distances routinely. If you are like me, you probably tried to build a telescope as a kid, with varying degrees of success. Below is a description of a simple reflecting telescope that I have been able to build many times. When properly focused, it has enabled me to see distant objects clearly without my glasses.

This crude telescope consists of only two things– a mirror that captures the image and a magnifying glass, which enlarges the image from the mirror. To build this telescope, direct the mirror towards the object you want to see, at an angle, so that it is partially facing the object and partially facing you. Mirrors will be plentiful in a post-apocalyptic world. Since every abandoned vehicle automatically carries three, you should have no trouble finding one that works for you. Once your mirror is in place, move your magnifying glass towards the mirror until the object comes into sharp focus as you look at the mirrored image through the magnifying glass. If you do not have a magnifying glass, try finding a curved piece of glass. If no glass is available, you can use a clear water container (a water bottle or clear bag of water) as a magnifying glass, although the performance will degrade or increase according to the quality of your materials.

You will need to do a lot of experimenting until you find the perfect distance and angle, but with a little work, you will soon be able to see an object in the distance clearly. The better your mirror and magnifying glass, the better this telescope will function. While not a mobile solution, this telescope set up could function at an observation post or for surveillance. It could be placed at a choke point leading to your retreat where you could stand sentry.

A more mobile solution would be a refracting telescope, consisting of parallel lenses in a tube. This is the stereotypical hand-held telescope that we are all familiar with. I have not successfully made one of these, so I will leave this up to the reader’s ingenuity. The essential point is that, if you can get your hands on a few lenses and mirrors, you will be able to make something to help you see better. Making a pair of glasses may be beyond your skill level, but making a telescope should be within everyone’s grasp.

4. Make Pinhole Glasses

Lastly, build yourself a pair of pinhole glasses. Wikipedia provides a concise explanation of pinhole glasses, reproduced below:

“Pinhole glasses, also known as stenopeic glasses, are eyeglasses with a series of pinhole-sized perforations filling an opaque sheet of plastic in place of each lens. Similar to the workings of a pinhole camera, each perforation allows only a very narrow beam of light to enter the eye which reduces the size of the circle of confusion on the retina and increases depth of field. In eyes with refractive error, the result is claimed to be a clearer image.” “Pinhole Glasses,” wikipedia.org, published on the World Wide Web

As a lay person, what I get from this description is that pinhole glasses reduce the amount of light entering your eye, and thus partially correct the fault in your eye’s mechanics. These makeshift glasses are incredibly easy to make. Simply fashion a piece of cardboard, plastic, or paper into the shape of a pair of glasses, and then poke one hole or several holes directly in front of where your eye would be. You will find that, while your vision is darkened and a lot of peripheral vision is lost, the image you see through the pinhole will be clear and in focus. I would advise experimenting with this a lot, until you’ve figured out what iteration of the pinhole glasses works best for you. You may find a single hole works best for you, a grouping of three, or an array of holes. The holes should actually be pin-pricks; if you make holes any larger, the effect will be lost. Please note that the perforated surface needs to be closer to your eyes than a glass lens would be, to prevent much light from reaching your eye at an angle.

While pinhole glasses are not as effective as traditional glasses, I cannot overstate their simplicity and usefulness in a pinch. I have made a pinhole monocle in two seconds with a sticky note and paper clip. I have even found that a perforated saltine cracker, when held up close to your eye, has the same vision improvement properties. This is definitely a tip you will want to share with anyone you know who wears glasses in your group.

Summary

These are the things you can do to prepare for life without glasses, and to survive if you find yourself in such a world. The plan outlined above is free and does not require you go purchase any additional gear or supplies. While those of us who wear glasses should either seek vision correction or stockpile against a shortage, if we are unable to do so, the end of the world as we know it does not need to be the end of the world, when it comes to our vision. Should you find yourself in a bad place, these strategies will help you, unlike Piggy, make it without your “specs” in a true worst-case scenario.

How to Make a Homemade Camping Shower

Camping may mean getting back to nature, but it doesn’t mean you want to be au naturel in front of your fellow campers. This portable camp shower partition provides welcome privacy when you’re out in the woods. It sets up in minutes, and can be free standing or hung from a tree branch, depending on your shower setup. It can also be used as a clothes changing area. This gives you the privacy… but for the water part, don’t forget to bring a portable sun shower found at any camping store.

Things You’ll Need

  • Four 6’ sections of ½” PVC pipe
  • PVC pipe cutter
  • Eight ½” PVC corner pieces
  • Two 6’x8’ vinyl tarps
  • For freestanding shower:
  • Eight 3’ sections of ½” PVC pipe
  • Cable zip ties
  • Bricks or sand bags
  • For hanging shower:
  • Four 3′ sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • Four ½” PVC elbow pieces
  • Eye-hook screws
  • String
  • Metal washer
  • Two 6’x8’ vinyl tarp

Step 1

PVC pipe comes in standard 10’ lengths, so you will need to cut them to size using a PVC pipe cutter so you have four 6’ sections and eight 3’ sections.

Step 2

Start with the base of the shower enclosure. Connect four 3’ pipe sections with four PVC corner pieces. These corners are also called 90-degree side outlet elbows.

Step 3

Attach the four 6’ PVC pipe sections vertically to the corner pieces.

Step 4

Attach PVC corner pieces to the top of the 6’ PVC pipes and connect the 3’ pipes to them to form a tall cube.

Step 5

The shower enclosure is 6 feet tall. Turn the 6’x8’ vinyl tarp on its side so that it is 6 feet tall as well. Using the pre-drilled grommets, hang the tarp on the PVC pipes with cable zip ties. Attach the tarp to the vertical PVC pipe as well. For maximum privacy, overlap the two pieces of tarp so there are no openings.

Step 6

Decide which side will be the opening of the shower enclosure. Do not connect the side grommets to the vertical post on this side so the tarp can be opened and closed. Place bricks or sand bags on the PVC pipes at the base to help keep the structure from blowing in the wind.

Step 1

For a hanging shower enclosure, connect four 3’ sections of PVC pipe using PVC elbows. They do not need to be corner pieces because you will not be connecting vertical pieces.

Step 2

Attach eye-hook screws to each of the four elbow pieces, and tie string to the hooks, going diagonally from corner to corner. Without the eye-hook screws, the string can slide off from the elbows.

Step 3

At the intersection of the two strings, attach a metal washer. Tie wire around the top of the washer to hang from a tree branch.

Step 4

As with the free-standing shower enclosure, hang the tarp from the PVC pipe with zip cable ties. Overlap two tarps to provide extra privacy.

A Modular Camper That Takes One Person, One Hour, And One Screwdriver To Put Together

Don’t have space to store a travel trailer? What if you could assemble your RV only when needed? The Tail Feather modular camper lets you do just that.

Lawrence Drake created the Tail Feather Camper Kit because he wanted to have a camper that wouldn’t take up space in the driveway or garage when it wasn’t in use. Designed as a modular camper, this build-it-yourself product uses multiple panels to allow assembly on a standard-sized utility trailer.

The Tail Feather Camper – a modular camper that can be taken apart and stored when not in use.

The camper/utility-trailer combination weighs around 1,000 lbs., making it easy to tow with an SUV or family car. There are four different models that fit utility trailers between the sizes of 5’ x 8’ and 5’ x 10’. When assembled, the camper’s living space is 6’ 1” wide by 8’ 4” to 10’ 1” wide depending on the model with an interior height of 6’ 2”.

One person can easily put together the camper panels to build the camper in an hour’s time using just a screwdriver.

Each panel weighs no more than 35 lbs., making it easy to handle and they nest together to minimize space when stored.

There’s enough space inside the modular camper to seat four at the dinette and sleep two when converted into a full size bed.

The panels are insulated and the kit comes with a floor liner to keep the camper dry and dust free. Included are a dinette/full size bed, removable cabinets made of canvas, windows that can be moved around, a roof that has skylights and vents, and a counter with a sink and faucet.

The kit also comes with 2 LED ceiling lights and one power panel that has a 120 V AC/12 V DC 15 amp supply. All the interior furnishings can quickly be collapsed and removed when needed.

Two of the models have doors on the side while the other two models have double rear doors.

The models that have the rear doors can easily be converted into a toy hauler to load a motorcycle, ATV, or bicycles when the furniture is removed.

Or use the panels to create a modular, stationary shelter.

The company also produces Quite Lite Shelters, which is a conversion kit that transforms the Tail Feather campers into a standalone shelter. The kit includes a special doorframe, additional wall panels (to increase the size of the camper), and an extra roof section.

Drake hopes that the shelters can be used as an ice fishing hut, shelter for backcountry skiing, or even emergency housing. The Quite Lite Shelter comes in one model which sits on a base of 8’ 4” x 15’ 6” and the space above the knee height is 9’ 6” x 16’ 6”.

As of May 2016, Teal International, the maker of the Tail Feather modular camper, is currently reorganizing, but hopes to have product available soon.

5 Survival Skills You Can Practice While Camping

Have Fun While Honing Your Survival Skills

There is no better way to practice your survival skills than to practice these life saving skills while you are camping – anything from building a shelter to identifying edible plants.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned survivalist, I believe in always staying on top of your game with these 5 survival skills which can literally save your life in a survival situation.

1. Building a Fire

Learning different methods of how to build a fire is important. The easiest way, of course, is to use matches or a lighter. It is important to remember, however, that you should never rely just on these 2 methods alone – your lighter could run out of fluid or your matches could get wet. Primitive methods are important for EVERYONE to learn. The following methods are great to practice while you are camping:

Ferro Rod – Check out this great video on different ferro rods you can use.

Hand Drill – Check out this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Bow Drill – Check out this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

2. Building a Shelter

Learning how to build a shelter is another must-know skill for any survivalist. While you’re camping, you most likely will have a tent and a air mattress with warm blankets. However, one day you could be in these same surroundings without these luxuries therefore, building a shelter is a skill that you will need to learn to protect you from the elements and quite possibly – predators.

The following article, written by Ruth England (co-star of ‘Man, Woman, Wild’) gives detailed instructions and viable information on how to build different types of shelters.

3. Water Purification

Another must-have skill is water purification. Purifying water is so important. If it looks clean, purify it anyway. Water that has not been filtered or purified can lead to serious illness and sometimes death due to bacteria and other waterborne pathogens.

4. Different Methods of Fishing

When you’re a survival situation, food is important to keep your energy levels up – preferably a food source that has lots of protein. The following video, Survival Fishing Tips & Techniques, shows you how you can fish in a true survival situation. This video is extremely informative — a must watch!

5. Learning to Identify Edible and Medicinal Plants

Sometimes, in a survival situation, food that contains protein is hard to find. Learning how to identify edible plants (some of which also provide medicinal properties as well) is a must REMEMBER this important rule: Every edible plant has a look-alike, so please be absolutely certain that you are picking the right plant as your food source! I can’t stress that enough! Keeping a book on edible plants with photo identifications is a great addition to your survival gear.

Wet and Wild Survival Challenge

“Despite only getting three hours of sleep, I jump out of bed before my alarm clock goes off. I’m always so excited for survival outings that any sleep the night before is a blessing. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I can’t help but run through my plans over and over in my head. The ironic part is that all those plans go right out the window once the challenge begins. I know I am ready. I’ve studied and trained to prepare for this kind of situation. However, it’s impossible to keep my head clear knowing how Mother Nature may slap me around. “

I gear up and head out to the woods. There is a heavily wooded area on the North side of our pond that is ideal for a shelter. I know of a large birch tree adorned with a natural ‘Y’ in the trunk, ideal for shelter and for the bed design in my mind. As I hike that way, I notice that even at 6 am it is already starting to get warm. I had planned to do this challenge back in late March or April to avoid the heat, but I didn’t have the right weather conditions to get steady rain. That’s the premise of this challenge: dealing with wet weather conditions, particularly thunderstorms, in a survival situation. Last September, during one of my challenges, cooler temperatures and a thunderstorm almost forced me to tap out the first night due to hypothermia. Based on that difficulty, I decided to center an entire challenge on wet weather conditions and hypothermia. For this current challenge, the twist is that there is a chemical in human sweat that lowers body temperature. Unfortunately, sweating through my clothes could cause hypothermia as well.

As I approach the area where I plan to build my shelter, I stop dead in my tracks. A vast blanket of knee high poison ivy covers the entire hillside. I keep thinking to myself “leaves of three, let it be” like I was taught as a kid. I happen to be highly allergic and have had instances where my reaction was severe enough for me go to the hospital. Against my better judgement, I trudge on and find my birch tree. After looking over my area, I decide that it would be impossible to make it three days without getting poison ivy on my skin. The plant has an oil called Urushiol that causes the irritation, and it can be transferred from clothing to your skin days after the initial contact. This is why many people think that the rash can be “spread.” I know that I already have it all over my pants, so I will have to be careful not to touch them. I move on and scope out several other potential sites. Finally, I find an old apple tree with the same natural ‘Y’ in the trunk. This will be my home for the next three days.

The four pillars of survival are Shelter, water, fire, and food.

Keeping the storms in mind, I set up my shelter to handle the wind and rain to come. First, I cut down two long maple poles with my hatchet. Each is about nine feet long and about four inches in diameter at the thickest point. I am able to prop them up in the crotch of the tree about three feet off the ground. Then I wrap climbing rope around the two poles to create a kind of hammock or stretcher design. This will keep me up off the ground, which most certainly will be a mud puddle by morning. I then take a branch about three feet long, sharpen one end with my hatchet, and hammer it into the ground at the foot of the bed. I find another maple pole and tie it to the trunk of the tree and the branch in the ground. This will serve as a ridge pole to provide support during the strong winds to come. Next, I tie two corners of my emergency blanket to the bed. I stretch it over the ridge pole and tie a third corner to the tree trunk. I then fashion a stake out of a tree branch by sharpening one end. I stretch paracord from the final corner to the stake and my roof is secure. Finally, I take two small sticks about one inch long and used them to further stretch the blanket. To create a raised roof, I put one in the center, tie paracord around it, and tie it to an overhead branch. This will allow water to run off instead of pooling up in the center. I do the same with the other stick on the side closest to the ridge pole, and stretch it to another stake I had driven into the ground. Thunderstorm winds typically come from the South, so I put my ridge pole on that side. I hope that this design will withstand any severe weather that decides to head my way.

Now that my shelter has been established, avoiding dehydration is my next priority. I brought a water bottle with a filter built into the lid, so this makes purifying water easy. I simply attach some paracord to the bottle so I can lower it into the pond. I would have to find an area where the water was clear. Dense algae and fallen branches are blocking most of the areas around the bank, but I find a small window. Pond water always has a funky vegetation flavor to it, even when purified. Nonetheless, the water is welcomed and needed to replenish my hydration. In all of my previous challenges, I have allowed myself to get dehydrated to the point that my hand cramped into a useless fist while building my shelter. I will not let this happen again. I drink about two full bottles and am ready for fire wood.

With a storm headed this way, I need to get as much wood protected from the rain as I can. There is a nice cubby between my bed and the ground, which will keep my wood dry. After looking at the trees in my area, I notice that several have low-hanging, dead branches. This is always the best place to get dry firewood versus gathering fallen sticks or cutting green wood. The hardest firewood to find is always the large logs and the tiny tinder. The medium sized kindling, on the other hand, is easy to find. Finding logs that you can cut efficiently without a chainsaw is tough. I have a hatchet with a small saw built into the handle, but cutting anything too large will completely wear out my arm. I find several logs about three and a half inches thick that are the perfect size. Finding tinder can be tough because small material often falls off in the wind before you can get to it. I do find lots of pencil sized sticks and medium sized wood, which was about one inch thick. After stacking it all under my bed, I am ready for the storm.

Now that I have constructed my shelter, gathered water, and found my firewood, I move on to the fourth pillar of survival, food. First, I go after the wild edibles. This is typically the easiest source of nutrition, if you know how to identify the right plants. Near a large maple tree, I find everything I need. I see broadleaf plantains, which have a large wide leaf the size of spinach and also taste a bit like spinach. There are dandelions, which have a peppery flavor. The whole plant is edible including the bloom. I also find oxalis, which is my personal favorite. Oxalis has heart-shaped leaves, small yellow flowers, and it carries a rich lemony flavor. When in a survival mindset, you quickly broaden your idea of what tastes good. As a snack for later, I collect a pocket full of Maple tree seeds. These are easy to identify and are commonly known as the helicopter seed pods. The seed in the pod is not very tasty, but it has carbohydrates and protein that make it a good snack. There is plenty of mouse-eared chickweed, but it is too close to the poison ivy for me to take a chance on it. I know I don’t want survive on leaves and seed pods alone, so I decide to do some fishing.

Fishing can be a challenge even with the proper gear. I didn’t have a rod and reel, but I did have my Pocket Fisherman. Despite it only being about nine inches long, I hope that the Pocket Fisherman will be effective. A small rod extends out doubling the length. It actually has two separate rods built into one to allow more strength for bigger fish. It has a standard reel built-in. There is also a small compartment in the handle for lures. During my challenge prep, I had rigged some plastic worms with hooks so the compartment came in handy. In my prepping, I read that right before a storm, the low barometric pressure allows a fish’s stomach to expand and make them feel hungrier. This makes them more apt to feed during this time. Fish are also more likely to feed following a storm, because of all the insects and worms that the rain washes into the water. In the first few casts, I know the fish are active. After about 30 minutes, I set the hook in a monster bass. It doesn’t put up much of a fight, and I pull it in easily. At about four and a half pounds, it will make for a good meal. I don’t plan to build a fire until just before dark to preserve wood, so I put the giant on a makeshift stringer through his bottom lip and throw him back in the water. Recently, I learned that running a stringer through the lip instead of the gills will keep the fish alive for several more hours. Finding any meal is a win, but finding protein is a game changer.

All I have left to do is rest, hydrate, and wait for the storm. Unfortunately, my afternoon shower is anticlimactic. It rains, but not the storm I am hoping. I am able to tell that the shelter will keep both the firewood and myself dry, so that is a victory. I clean my fish, cut it in two big pieces, and put it in a pot with water. I bury the head to preserve it for a little fish head soup for the morning. Burying meat eliminates the oxygen and warm temperatures that cause bacteria to grow. I need to use every part of the fish while also being cautious about predators that may come after my meal.

While starting my fire, I test out several inexpensive fire-starting products which I have never used before. Fire Cubes and Wetfire operate exactly the same way. Both are waxy cubes off of which you can make a small pile of shavings. With one strike of my ferro rod, the pile lights and I am able to put the rest of the cube directly into the flame. These products are awesome and only cost a few bucks. I try out Livefire, and while it lights after one strike the flame is fairly small. Finally, I hold Firesticks over the flame. This product will not light with just sparks, but has its purpose. After about 20 seconds, it is lit and stays lit long enough for me to pile large wood on top of it and get a roaring fire going. I am able to skip right over the small sticks, and I do all of this on wet ground. In most cases, you never want to try to start a fire on wet ground. Once the fish is cooked, I scarf down the meat and drink the broth. This is always the best way to cook to get all the nutrients out of your meat. Fish in particular has a lot of fats and oils that end up in the broth and add another level of nourishment. It’s also a great feeling to have some warm broth in your belly.

I don’t get much sleep overnight, but by morning I am out like a light and get a few hours of rest. Sleep is so important to keep you focused and productive in a survival situation, so you have to take it as it comes. Once you figure out how to survive in any given situation it becomes more about routine than anything. For the next two days, I stay hydrated, munch on plants, fish, and do what I can to stay dry. It continues to rain on and off the whole time. Finally, I get my nasty thunderstorm on the second night, and it is exhilarating. In spite of the crazy winds, flashing lighting, and pouring rain, my shelter holds up nicely. I don’t get wet, and I never have to adjust or rebuild my shelter in any way. I catch another large fish on day two, and am thrilled to get the calories. Medically, this challenge has been pretty uneventful. I never approached hypothermia, and the worst thing that happened was getting a piece of bark in my eye. Still, I am ready to return home at the end of the three days.

This challenge felt more like a camping trip than survival, but I have to remember how far I have come. I spend on average about three hours a day studying survival techniques, some of which have become second nature. This challenge was so much more difficult by design than my September challenge, yet if felt so much easier. I took this on without a gun, a bow, or a standard fishing rod for the first time, but had no problem finding food. I dealt with rain every day of this challenge, but never got wet or cold. My bed design was my own invention, and it worked perfectly. I stayed hydrated the whole time, and got plenty of rest. I did all of this with a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder, and I was still recovering from a previous case of pneumonia. However, any survival situation will take its toll on your body. I gathered more food in this challenge than any previous challenges, but still only consumed a total of about 500 calories and lost 13 lbs in just three days. I still feel that in the last eight months, I have gone from barely surviving to thriving. It just reinforces how important knowledge and practice is when your life is on the line.

Old Survival Trick Revealed: How To Use An Acorn To Make A Very Loud Signal Whistle

If you were lost in the woods and wanted to be found learning to use the acorn as a whistle could come in real handy. This is a great survival skill to have, and it could save your life. It’s also a great way to get peoples attention in a crowd when you’re trying to speak.

At the very least it’s a great conversation piece with your family, and friends. Watch the video and you’ll be whistling using the acorn in no time flat. Some people have been able to master this in as little as 90 seconds.

Survival Skills: 5 Bugs You Want to Eat

Have you ever had that dessert called “worms and dirt”? Generally, it’s some kind of chocolate and gummy worms. But how about the real thing? Something has usually gone wrong if you are thinking about eating actual bugs. But for argument’s sake, let’s suppose you did run out of food and required some protein sustenance. Which bugs would be the safest choices for you to eat? Here are three groups of creatures for the adventurous diner.

Earthworms
There are many different species of worms throughout North America. All are considered safe for human consumption, but they should be purged of the dirt that fills them before you try to eat them. An easy way to clean them out is to place them in a container of damp grass. After a few hours, the critters will be void of the dirt and sand they normally hold. Like all animal foods, worms should be cooked before you eat them. I recommend frying. The good news is that fried worms taste a little like jerky. The bad news, average sized worms provide only about 1 calorie per gram (not counting the fat from frying).

Crickets, Katydids and Grasshoppers
This diverse group of bugs is generally safe to eat, if you avoid the colorful members of these families. Red, orange, yellow, and blue colorations are usually warning signs. The heads and small legs should be removed, and the bugs should always be cooked thoroughly. Bugs with crunchy shells are often the most parasite laden. Hunt for them in the early morning, when they are less active from the colder temperatures. This group yields approximately 4 to 5 calories per gram. They range from flavorless to fatty tasting.

Termites
Ripping open a rotten log may seem like a lot of work, but the payoff might be worth the trouble. Termites have the highest calorie content of the bugs on this list. These pale colored, ant-looking insects provide about 6 calories per gram. You’ll have to work to get the nutrition, though. These little guys go scurrying for cover anytime you damage the wood in which they reside.

Bug Blox

Ingredients:

  • 2 large packages gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water (do not add cold water)

Directions:

Stir boiling water into gelatin. Dissolve completely. Stir in dry-roasted leafhoppers. Pour mixture slowly into 13 x 9 inch pan. Chill at least 3 hours. BLOX will be firm after 1 hour, but may be difficult to remove from pan. Cutting blox: dip bottom pan in warm water 15 seconds to loosen gelatin. Cut shapes with cookie cutters all the way through gelatin. Lift with index finger or metal spatula. If blox stick, dip pan again for a few seconds.

Banana Worm Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Rootworm Beetle Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Beau Monde
  • 1 cup dry-roasted rootworm beetles

Directions:

Blend first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and chill.

Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12-ounce chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Crackers and Cheese Dip with Candied Crickets

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. chopped onions
  • 1 tsp. chopped green pepper
  • 2 tsp Miracle Whip®
  • candied crickets

Directions:

Soften cream cheese. Introduce remaining ingredients.

Spread mixture on cracker and top with a candied cricket.

Mealworm Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. chopped onions
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. minute rice
  • 1 c. cooked mealworms

Directions:

Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces.

Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil.

Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes.

Corn Borer Cornbread Muffins

Ingredients:

  • Cornbread mix
  • 3/4 c. dry roasted corn borers

Directions:

Prepare batter according to instructions.

Stir in insects.

Bake.

Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers

Ingredients:

  • baker’s chocolate
  • candied crickets

Directions:

Melt baker’s chocolate in double boiler.

Fill molds halfway with chocolate, add grasshoppers, fill rest of the way.

A tasty surprise in every one!

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

Scavenging resources in a wilderness survival situation can turn up life-saving stuff. That’s why developing a possum mentality is vital!

Our ancestors walked our woodlands and learned to use the resources most modern outdoor enthusiast overlook. Essential woodland resources seem to be invisible to the modern eye. The stuff you’ve got packed in your woodcraft/bushcraft kit or bug out bag are consumable. You’ll eventually use up that roll of duct tape… or, more than likely, you forgot to pack it.

Not a problem. Pine trees produce a sticky substitute with superior benefits!

Learning to identify and use natural resources has gotten me out of many sticky situations in the woods. Pardon the play on words as we explore the many uses of this tacky, amber-colored pine sap I call Jewel of the Woods!

Collecting Sappy Jewels

Pine trees secrete resin as a defense to close wounds from insects or other forces. The sap provides a protective layer or sealant over the injury . The sap hardens forming an amber glob which turns dark in color over time. On fresh wounds, you’ll notice a whitish layer of sap covering the damaged area. With time, large clumps form making it easier to harvest.

Harvesting fresh resin can become a sticky situation. The fresher the glob, the more sticky and pliable. On dedicated Jewel of the Woods harvesting trips, I carry a grub knife, one I don’t mind getting covered with resin. To remove sap from my good blades in the woods, I use a bit of Everclear (190 proof) from my flask on a piece of cloth.

For hardened resin, poke a sharp object (grub knife or sharp stick) into the base of the glob and pry it loose. It’ll break off and fall into your hand or container underneath. That’s when you’ll notice the crystalized form inside which resembles a beautiful piece of amber stone.

For hard-to-reach spots high in trees, my friend Joe at  Feral Woodcraft shares his clever resin harvesting tool.

Now that you’ve gathered a fair amount, what’s this sticky stuff good for?

A.) Self Aid

  • Pine sap properties include: antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first.
  • Stop bleeding – apply a soft glob (heat if necessary) to help stop bleeding.
  • Treat skin rashes and eczema with ointments,tinctures, and salves. For tinctures, use 190 proof Everclear since resin won’t dissolve with watered down alcohols.
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

B.) Glue/Epoxy – Pine Pitch

  • Turn pine resin into pitch sticks. Jamie Burleigh has a great tutorial of his method on Primitive ways.
  • Hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows and gluing other primitive tools and weapons.
  • Waterproof boot seams, canoes, and containers.
  • Patch holes in tents and tarps.
  • Pretty much any thing you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.

C.) Candling Device

  • Place globs of dried resin in a fatwood torch to extend its burn time.
  • Pitch sticks, described above, can be used as a makeshift candles.
  • Melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick for a torch.
  • Melted or liquid sap poured over a dried mullein stalk works as candle/torch.

D.) Fire Craft

  • Fire is life in a wilderness survival scenario. Even on weekend camping trips, fire offers core temperature control, cooking, and hot cocoa! Resin is your secret weapon to starting and keeping a fire going in wet conditions. Anyone who’s used resin-rich fatwood in rainy conditions appreciates its important role in fire craft.

  • Resin is highly flammable. Once lit, you can dry marginal tinder and small kindling.

  • Harvest liquid sap into a container from a fresh cut in a pine tree to add to a makeshift torch. Secure the container under the exposed bark to collect the sap. Use this liquified sap as torch fuel.

Once you learn to identify this sticky life-saver, you’ll find it difficult to walk past a pine tree without scanning for this Jewel of the Woods!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance.

Four Exercises To Stay In Shape While Holed Up

Let’s say that you were a prepper. I say “were” because, for the point of this article, The Big Event has already happened, and now you’re not so much prepping as you are surviving. You stockpiled food, medicine, water, and ammunition. You read all the books. You built a secret retreat. Now there’s not much for you to do but to wait the whole thing out.

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to do all of this sitting out while stuck between the same ol’ four walls for yet another day, and slowly, day by day, as your activity levels drop to a bare minimum while you’re cooped up, you begin to grow weaker. You begin to grow slower, and your energy levels begin to plummet as well.

Before The BIG Event, you were in reasonably good shape. You could run a few miles with no problem and spent a couple of evenings per week at the gym. However, during this survival situation, going to the gym is out of the question.

Sure, for the beginning of any survival scenario, you’re probably not going to be worried about your level of conditioning too much. You’re gonna focus on surviving. However, if this scenario begins to stretch out for any extended period of time, maintaining a high level of physical fitness suddenly becomes a much bigger issue. So, what can you do when you’re stuck in the same one-story cabin for who knows how long?

The Exercises

Well, here are four exercises that can be done with minimal space, next to no equipment, and that will strengthen your entire body:

  1. Push-upsDid I really even need to say this one? It’s probably the first one that came to mind for most of you. This is for good reason though. Push-ups are one of the best body-weight exercises out there.By doing these, we’re not only targeting our chest, we’re also hitting the triceps, anterior shoulder, core, and spinal erectors as well. Good ol’ push-ups will not only help to build up your upper body strength (which tends to be the first thing that people lose over time), but they also do an excellent job of strengthening the core.

    Why is this important?

    If you want to be able to push a car, throw a wicked right hook, or shut a door closed on an intruder, you’re going to need a strong chest and powerful triceps.

    What if you can’t do a normal push-up?

    That’s no problem. Every exercise out there can be adjusted for intensity. If a normal push-up is too tough, start off by doing push-ups off of a wall. As you progress, start at the bottom of a stairwell and do push-ups off of the third or fourth step, or which ever step is comfortable.

    Eventually, you’ll get strong enough to do normal push-ups.

    Are knee push-ups an option? Absolutely. You could do them, but just be aware that you have to keep a straight line from your shoulders to your knees if you want to target the right muscles. Don’t point your butt toward the ceiling or get into a cobra-about-to-strike looking posture; none of that stuff is helpful.

    Your body needs to come up as a unit. If you’re having trouble with this, I highly recommend just starting off with some wall push-ups and slowly progressing yourself.

  2. Dead BugsWhere did the name “dead bugs” come from? Well, it is named that because, for this exercise, you’re going to start off laying on your back on the floor with all fours in the air. It’s gonna look like you were giving a horsey-back ride to your kid when you suddenly froze, got turned over on your back, and then got stuck like that.From this position, you’re going to SLOWLY lower your left arm and RIGHT leg until they are parallel to the floor. Raise them back up to starting position, and then repeat the process for the opposite arm and leg.

    Lastly, you’re going to want to focus on keeping your lower back pushed into the floor throughout the movement on this one as well. This drastically increases the number of muscle fibers recruited through the core. Your back is going to want to arch so that it can cheat. Don’t let it.

    Why do I recommend dead bugs?

    Did you know that your core musculature tightens up before you ever even begin to do a bicep curl? Did you know that doing a pull-up requires massive amounts of core strength? Guess what you need to chop wood, carry heavy stuff, or throw a rock.

    Yep. You guessed it– a strong core.

    The core is literally the foundation to just about every movement you can possibly make. Without a strong one, your movements are going to be weak and inefficient.

    On top of this, the core muscles also play a vital part in the protection of the spine. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like attempting to survive by yourself with a tweaked-out back.

    It stinks, doesn’t it?

    And that’s yet another reason that a strong core is essential to survival.

    Therefore, I recommend dead bugs. They’re a fantastic core-conditioning exercise that you’re going to predominantly feel in your abs.

    Don’t be fooled by how silly these things sound or look. They can be pretty brutal when done properly.

  3. Bodyweight squatsYou never know how much you use something, until you hurt it.If you’ve ever twisted your knee, you know what I mean. All of a sudden you come face to face with the reality that you use your legs WAY more than you thought you did.

    Need to run away from a mob/angry creature/bad guy? You need your legs. Need to stand at the stove to cook a meal? You need your legs. Need to haul heavy equipment, push a car, jump to safety, and much, much more? You need your legs.

    So, why not build them to be strong? Stronger legs mean that you can run faster, jump farther, hike longer, and carry heavier loads. In a survival situation, this could mean your life!

    How can we work out the entire musculature of the legs, targeting our quads, hammies, and glutes? The answer is bodyweight squats.

    All you’ve got to do for this one is to sit down on an imaginary toilet, and then shoot right back up, as if the seat was cold!

    Things you’re going to want to keep in mind on this one are to keep your back flat throughout the movement, slightly point your toes out, and put your feet just outside of your shoulders. I cross my arms, too. No cheating with your hands!

    Sounds easy enough, right?

    Hit 15+ reps, and then let me know how you feel.

  4. Let-me-insYou’re going to need a door or a post that’s not going to move, for this one.Let’s say you chose the door. You’re going to place your feet so that you’re straddling the door on both sides, with your feet just a little beyond the door knobs.

    Each hand is now going to grab onto one of the door knobs. From here, you’re going to sit down on that imaginary toilet again, using your legs to support your weight.

    While keeping a firm grip on the door knobs, straighten out your arms so that you are now kind of hanging there by your hands. Now, pull yourself back to the door.

    Once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s going to feel a bit like you’re a pole dancer, but this is going to be one of the best back and arm exercises that you can do with little to no equipment.

    Too easy?

    If this is the case, just know that the closer you can slide your feet to the hinges, the harder these are going to be. Just make sure to maintain the squat pose while doing this one.

    Why let-me-ins?

    Let-me-ins target the lats (the V-shape of your back), your biceps, posterior shoulder, and really blast your grip as well. Pulling is one of the six basic human movements, and you’re going to need to have these muscles well conditioned if you intend to survive.

    Without strong lats and grip, you’re going to have a hard time hanging anything by a rope, climbing a tree, or pulling your wife up from a cliff for that matter.

    Seriously, if you got the chance to do that, she’d think you were the bomb-diggedy.

The Workout

Okay, I’ve got the exercises. Now how should I make my workout?

Ahh, I thought you’d never ask.

Here are the two options I would suggest.

  • Create a circuit workout, or
  • Finish all of your sets for one exercise before moving to the next

Personally, I like circuit workouts the best, and they would be the best option for staying in good shape.

To do a circuit workout, do one set of push-ups, and then do one set of bodyweight squats. Rest 60 seconds, and then repeat the process. Rest another 60 seconds, and then do a set of dead bugs, followed by a set of let-me-ins. Rest another 60 seconds, and then do another set of dead bugs, and let-me-ins.

You get the picture.

If this is too hard or too easy of a workout for you, there are always ways to adjust the intensity. Change the number of repetitions you do, increase the intensity of the exercise, or add another round to your circuit.

Here’s the workout I would do:

Circuit A: Push-ups 1 x 30 Circuit A: Dead Bugs 1 x 5 Rest 60 seconds, and repeat two more times

Circuit B: Bodyweight squats 1 x 15 Circuit B: Let-me-ins 1 x 30 Rest 60 seconds, and repeat Circuit B two times

Things To Keep In Mind

With working out, there are a few basics you’re going to want to understand.

Rule #1: If it hurts, don’t do it.

This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised. Exercise may make your muscles a tad tender, but if you end up with any kind of pain (there’s a difference), you need to find out what’s going on and switch things around.

Rule #2: Do what you can do.

Don’t go out there trying to impress people. That just leads to your getting hurt. Be wise with how you program your workout. If you can only do ten repetitions before your form starts to break down, then by all means, stick with ten reps.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are strong muscles. Take your time with this. It isn’t a race. Progressing slowly is the key to preventing injuries.

Rule #3: Rest.

When it comes to resistance training, I typically recommend resting a day between workouts. Give your muscles time to recover. This is when they become strong. Also, if you’re new to working out, don’t feel that you’ve got to do this workout four times a week.

This goes back to Rule #2: Do what you can do. Starting off, I’d say going through the workout two or three times per week is fine.

Rest in between sets as well. For this type of workout, I say 15 seconds between exercises while you’re in the middle of a circuit, and 60-90 seconds at the end of a circuit. However, once again, remember Rule #2.

In Conclusion

Staying in good physical condition is essential to surviving during a disaster scenario, especially if you’re going to be holed up for any length of time. With these four exercises, you’ll help to further guarantee that your body stays in peak shape while cooped up, plus you’ll further increase your chances of being able to pull somebody off a cliff, Dark Knight style, and you KNOW you wanna do that.