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The Pine Tree and Its Many Uses

Did you know pine trees can be used as food, medicine and survival equipment?

The pine is one of the most useful trees on the planet, providing food, shelter, medicine and fuel. Knowing how to utilize this versatile resource could someday be the key to your very survival if you find yourself alone in the wilderness.

There are many species in the pine family (or genus Pinus), and they can be found virtually everywhere in the world.

Food:

Many types of pine needles can be used to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Simply steep a handful of needles for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the less vitamins will remain, so don’t overdo it.

It’s important to note that some pine needles are poisonous be sure to avoid consuming the needles from the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), the Yew (Taxus) and the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa also known as Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine and Blackjack Pine). Make sure to learn the differences between the edible and non-edible varieties before making pine needle tea.

Pine nuts from all varieties of pine are edible, although some are small and not typically harvested. They can be a little tricky to harvest and perish quickly once they are shelled but can be stored longer if left in their shells or roasted.

Inner pine bark and pine resin are edible; male pine cones and their pollen can also be eaten. Native Americans chewed pine resin as sort of a natural chewing gum. The inner bark of large pine trees is edible, and the bark from young pine twigs can be eaten as well. Be careful not to damage or kill a pine tree by tearing off too much bark, and never ring the bark from a pine tree.

Instead, tear off small pieces of bark or look for branches that have already fallen. The inner bark can be eaten raw it can also be boiled, fried or cooked over a flame.

Medicine:

Pine resin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can be directly applied to wounds or sores and helps keep germs out. Pine resin can also be used to staunch the flow of blood.

The resin can also be used to extract splinters just dab some on the skin where the splinter is embedded and within a day or two the splinter should come out on its own.

Fuel:

Pine resin makes a great fire starter, particularly in damp settings. You can usually find a spot on a pine tree where resin is oozing out from a break in the bark try not to injure the tree to collect pine resin, but if necessary, make a small break in the bark or break a branch. The resin will begin to ooze out as protection for the tree.

If you are in an area where there are pine stumps, look for places on the stump where resin has soaked the wood and made it sticky. Tear small strips of the stickiest wood from the stump and save them as aids for starting fires.

Shelter:

Pine boughs can be used to create shelter, and pine needles can be used to make a soft, warm and dry bed.

Water-proofing and other uses:

Pine resin can be used as a waterproofing agent and works well on tent seams, boots and mittens.

Heat pine resin up and mix with ashes or charcoal from your campfire to make glue. Once cooled, the glue will harden but can be easily heated up again when it is needed.

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Getting Outdoors More

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Sure, family and other responsibilities prevent you from getting out as much as you’d like.  As your life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills you can acquired is figuring out how to get outdoors as much as you want. One thing you can do is make it a family outing. Here are some tips to help with the outdoor planning.

PLAN AHEAD

When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, can require making reservations months in advance.

INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk.  That delivers multiple benefits for you: creating additional opportunities for you to get outside; ingraining in your children a love for the outdoors that you have always shared; and, by getting your family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if you take off for a long day hike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.

GET ORGANIZED

If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.

GET A REGULAR PARTNER

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment.

SCHEDULE WEEKLY OUTINGS

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

For the next few months try to get outdoors more and maybe plan a trip. A day trip, weekend trip, or a week long trip. Just plan ahead and do something fun.

 

 

 

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Building a Survival Kit for Kids

When you hike, you carry a survival kit that should cover the basic needs for yourself in a survival situation. When you hike with children you carry a bit bigger kit to help you care for your needs and the child’s. But what happens if you get separated from the child? Your best line of defense is a survival kit suited for your child’s needs and abilities.

The basic needs that you’ll need to meet are Shelter, Warmth, Signaling and First Aid. These are real needs for a child. If they have to spend the night hugging a tree until the survival crew gets there, if it gets cold, if she cuts herself or if he needs to signal to a helicopter or emergency crew then they will definitely need to have the means to do so in their kit and as importantly, know how to use them.

But that’s not the only thing you’ll be interested in. Psychology is just as important. To keep them from panicking and getting themselves in a worse situation you’ll want to give them things to keep them occupied. This can be a flashlight to keep the scary things away at night, candies to suck on, toys to play with or what have you. They will need to pass the time, be it 5 minute, one hour, or 1 day.

  • Emergency Blanket
  • Rain Poncho
  • Signal Mirror
  • Emergency Whistle
  • First Aid Gear (Kit)
  • Snacks/Candies
  • Flashlight/Signal Light
  • Fire Steel and Sticker
  • Ziploc Bag (Carry Water)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Duct Tape
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Knife (Older Kids)
  • Rope
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Chapstick-Handy Uses

If you carry chapstick in your packet, like most people do, then here are some neat ideas you can use during your next outdoor adventure.

  • A DIY fire starter – Combine some chapstick with a cotton ball for an improvised and reliable fire starter.
  • An Improvised First Aid kit – Use the chapstick to cover and protect minor, topical injuries. It’ll keep it protected, clean and prevent minor bleeding. Make sure you use non-flavored for this!
  • A gear lubricant – Chapstick is petroleum based, so it can be used to stop squeaks in gear and lubricate sticky zippers.
  • A Temporary Water-proof tool– If you find a small leak in your gear, a temporary field repair can be done with chapstick. It’ll act as a temporary fix to prevent water seeping through the tent, jacket, pack or what have you.
  • An Emergency Candle – A surprisingly effective homemade, emergency candle lantern by twisting a cotton ball into a wick and coating it in the chapstick.
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Living Off-Grid Is It Really For You

Living off the grid can be extremely difficult, but also extremely rewarding. Off-grid living isn’t for everyone. But for those willing to make the extreme life change, it will lessen your growing dependency on income and increase your time spent with family. This guide will walk you through the reasons for an off-grid way of life, how to attain it, and the benefits of becoming the ultimate survivalist.

But before you start setting up your modern-day homestead, you’re going to have to think about some big questions:

  • Will you be using electricity? If so, how will you be generating it?
  • Where will you get water?
  • Will you need to process or treat the water to make it potable?
  • How much money will you need?
  • Where will you get it from?
  • How will you access the Internet if you still need it?
  • How many people will be members of your community?
  • How will labor be divided throughout the community?
  • Will you be buying food, or growing and hunting it?
  • How will your off-the-grid community be defended without law enforcement officers?

The first question you have to answer if you decide to live off-grid is where you plan to do this. Nearly everywhere in the continental United States has something wrong with it in terms of living off grid. Some places are too dry, and some aren’t good for growing food. Other places are too close to cities, while others are in nuclear fallout zones. Some states have laws making gun ownership and off-grid living prohibitively difficult. And others are just too cold to sustain wildlife.

So what should you look for when it comes to picking the three most important factors in off-grid living: location, location, location?

  • Be at least a tank of gas from a highway.
  • Research natural disasters that frequently befall areas you’re interested in.
  • Look into less-common, but entirely probable, natural disasters.
  • Read about nuclear fallout patterns. Nuclear war might not top your list of concerns, but you should at least be informed.
  • Consider whether or not you want to be part of an existing community and where you can connect with one.
  • If you plan to use solar power, make sure the area gets plenty of sunlight.
  • No matter what your plans are, you’re going to need water. That means proximity to a river or stream, a good supply of groundwater or, at the very least, plenty of rain.
  • Hunters should research local and state hunting laws.
  • Friendly gun laws are an absolute must when it comes to living off-grid, which rules many states out.
  • In general, a small-government culture will help keep you from being prosecuted for “stealing” rain water.
  • Good soil is a must to grow your own food.
  • Shelling out big money for land defeats the purpose, so look for cheap land.

Water is the number one resource you’re going to need. That water needs to be clean, close and plentiful enough that you can access it year round for everything from drinking to watering crops.

Crops are a must when living off grid. And much like water, it’s important to have multiple ways to access food. That means three main sources: growing, gathering and hunting.

Clothing is a topic that most off-the-grid guides ignore. You have a few different options here, such as stocking up and storing clothes for the future. However, a lot of the same skills that are required for feeding yourself can also keep you clothed.

While weapons and ammo are a must, the more immediate threat to yourself and your family is not from armed invaders – it’s from the elements. Off-grid homes come with a special concern: They need to be impenetrable not just to the elements, but to the critters who will be wandering around. From little guys like squirrels to big beasts like bears, your off-grid home should be protected pests of all sizes.

Most of the animals are totally harmless, but the issue is that they’re going to be a nuisance especially when they start eating you out of house and home. And no matter how much you love the nanny goat giving you milk, chances are pretty good that you don’t want her hanging out in your living room.

Protecting your property with non-lethal forms of defense is another important factor, but keep in mind that electricity use needs to be limited when living off the grid. Sentry systems and other security systems are great to have, but are too much of a drain on your power supply. At the very least, having a couple of dogs around to patrol the property is a good idea not to mention a fun one.

Living off the grid is hard especially when you’re getting started. But when you ask yourself if the life you’re living now is easy, you will realize the freedom that comes with being completely self-sufficient. Living off the grid means living for yourself, making you far better prepared for difficult times than you would be living in the city.

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Some Tips for Every Hiking Trip

If you’re planning on going hiking sometime soon, that’s terrific it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these hiking safety tips.

For starters, tell people where you’re going, and mention when you expect to be back, whether you’re alone or in a group. In the event you don’t make it back, because you’re injured or lost, someone will notice, and search parties can be sent out right away. It really helps if they know where you were headed there’s a lot of nature out there, and only one you to find.

If you were hoping for a great weather weekend of hiking but hear there’s a storm approaching, postpone your trip. Nature does not care about ruining your weekend, it doesn’t care whether your get hurt or make it home. Remember that turning back isn’t admitting defeat, it’s respecting the wild world you so enjoy.

A pocket knife, compass and map are at the top of the list. Make sure you know how to use them.  Don’t forget a first aid kit, whistle, matches or a lighter, and plenty of food and water. If you’re hiking in a cold climate, bring warm clothes. If you’re staying overnight, bring what you need for camping.

One of the best parts of exploring nature is encountering the creatures that share the planet with humans. Remember that they’re called wild animals for a reason. Bear attacks are rarer than you might think, but they still happen.  And just because an animal strikes you as harmless, exercise caution; even mountain goats have killed hikers on occasion.

What if you are lost, stay calm. It’s easy to panic when you realize neither you nor anyone else knows where you are. But the most important thing to do is stay calm: Acting predictably will make it easier for a rescue team to find you. Sit down. Decide whether you’re going to get food or water, or build a shelter or a signal fire first, and then stay the course.

Make the job of whoever’s looking for you as easy as possible. If you have bright clothing, put it on. Stay in open, high ground. Blow a whistle at regular intervals.

In addition to staying in sight, try to signal your position to potential rescuers. Build a fire where it will be visible and won’t start a wildfire. Make a signal on the ground that will be visible from the air. Skip the classic “Help” in favor of three piles of anything (e.g., three piles of leaves) arranged in a triangle shape, the international wilderness symbol for distress.

It’s getting very cold out, again stay calm. Unless you’re very experienced yourself, you’re going to feel the pangs of fear setting in. Don’t let emotion take control, keep your head and think clearly. Use that fear and adrenaline to motivate yourself to do everything that needs to be done. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself moving quickly and efficiently, and not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

If you find that your one day hike has turned into an open ended situation, you’ll need to find more water. Don’t waste time looking for possibly edible berries; you can go a month without eating, but only three days without drinking. Know where to look for water: dew on plants, banana and plantain trees, and tropical vines are good places to start.

Make sure to purify any water you find before drinking it: with purification tablets, a filter or by boiling it. If you’re truly lost, chances are it’s going to take a little while to find you. Making a shelter to spend the night in should be a priority. It can protect you from rain, wind, snow, insects, and sun during the day. It doesn’t have to be big, just large enough to fit you.

No matter the daytime temperature, it can get cold at night. Insulate your shelter with leaves, grass, and even snow. Insulate yourself as well. These tips may save your life during your next hiking trip. Always be prepared for the unexpected . You never know what may happen.

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Picking the Right Ammunition

Ammunition selection can be one of the most intimidating challenges facing a new shooter or firearm owner. Manufacturers produce an array of different loads, with each one varying in some way from the others. Projectile weight, projectile type, velocity and other factors all differ, even among loads designed for the same firearm.

Fortunately, making sense of the diverse ammo offered by manufacturers is not as difficult as some might believe. Once you understand the various kinds of ammunition available and how they perform, you can easily select ammo to fit your intended purposes.

For new shooters trying to understand how to properly choose ammo for a specific application, below are explanations for what makes good target/training, personal defense, and hunting loads. For each category, there are also example loads given for each type of firearm: handgun, rifle and shotgun.

Target Practice/Training
Whether you’re a serious shooter planning to spend a lot of time on the range or a casual plinker who shoots a few times a year, you’ll need ammo to fuel your chosen firearm. In most cases, this means buying a widely available and relatively inexpensive load.

For rifles and handguns, the cheapest cartridges, or complete loaded rounds of ammunition, are those featuring a full metal jacket (FMJ) projectile. An FMJ bullet incorporates a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal and requires less manufacturing than the bullets used in other more complex self-defense and hunting loads. This makes FMJs less expensive to produce and therefore cheaper for the customer.

With shotgun ammunition, the least expensive shells are typically lightweight target loads in No. 7 ½ shot and smaller (the higher the number, the smaller the shot). These shells are 2 ¾ inches in length and around 1 ounce in payload weight. The projectiles, called pellets, are normally lead, although some states and ranges require the use of steel shot.

In addition to cost, another important factor for target or training ammunition is how much recoil it produces. If you plan on spending any significant amount of time shooting, you’ll want a light-recoiling load that won’t wear down your hands or your shoulder. Small-bore rimfire cartridges are great in this regard, especially for new shooters who might be unfamiliar with or intimidated by recoil. It’s best to avoid magnum loads if possible.

Overall, ammunition used for general plinking, target practice and training is reasonably accurate and doesn’t break the bank, or your body.

Personal Defense
Although cost remains a consideration for many shooters when buying personal defense ammo, of far greater concern is the ammunition’s terminal performance. When your life, or the lives of your family, is threatened, you want a load that will reliably stop that threat as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to use a load that impacts the target with a lot of energy and produces the greatest amount of damage.

With rifles and handguns, this means using cartridges with a hollow-point projectile. A hollow-point bullet features a cavity in its tip designed to make the projectile expand on impact.

This expansion is key for two reasons. First, it generates a larger wound channel on the target, which increases damage. Second, it controls the amount of penetration to keep the round inside the target, which reduces the chances of harming innocent bystanders and transfers all the bullet’s kinetic energy into the target.

With shotguns, the best option are buckshot loads, as they use pellets large enough to cause serious damage. While other loads, including birdshot, may be used for self-defense, they are far less likely to provide an immediate end to the threat.

In any personal defense scenario, you want a reliable load that transfers as much energy and damage as possible without over-penetration. This ensures a quick end to a dangerous situation, and harms nothing but the target.

Hunting
As with personal defense scenarios, the most important thing when it comes to hunting ammunition is using projectiles that quickly and humanely bring down the target. Reliable bullet expansion and retained kinetic energy remain large aspects of this, which is why rifle and handgun hunters — as well as shotgunners using slugs — similarly use expanding hollow point or soft point projectiles (FMJ projectiles should never be used in hunting as they will likely penetrate straight through the animal, without generating enough damage to humanely kill it).

A key difference is the need for additional penetration. While personal defense projectiles are designed to stop human beings, hunting bullets are engineered to penetrate the thick skin, dense muscle tissue and bones of game animals. These bullets are typically heavier than personal defense projectiles and retain more of their weight after entering the target.

Regardless of what you’re pursuing, the highest priority in selecting ammo for hunting should always be ensuring the cartridge or shotgun shell you choose is powerful enough to ensure an ethical kill. Using a cartridge without sufficient power is bad for the animal if it’s wounded, and, if hunting dangerous game, can put the hunter at risk, too. If you can’t decide between two cartridges, it’s best to err on the side of more power.

Projectile(s)

Caliber or gauge is certainly important when it comes to ammo selection, but often the biggest difference between two loads is the actual object or objects being propelled downrange. This is likely truer with rifle and handgun ammo than shotgun ammo because they use cartridges with single projectiles, whereas shotgun shells can contain anything from a single slug to hundreds of pellets.

With rifle and handgun cartridges there are basically two broad types of bullets: full metal jacket (FMJ) and hollow-point. There are other kinds of projectiles as well as variations of these two designs, but for beginners these are the easiest to understand.

FMJs, which feature a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, are inexpensive and great for target practice and general plinking. Hollow-point bullets, which expand on impact, are far better for personal defense and hunting because they produce larger wound channels on the target, resulting in greater damage.

For selecting shotgun ammo, the projectile (or projectiles) remains the primary concern. Aside from slugs designed for hunting, projectiles in shotgun shells — called pellets, or shot — are categorized according to their shot size. As with measuring gauge, shot size utilizes an inverse scale; the larger the shot size number, the smaller each individual pellet will be (No. 7 shot is smaller than No. 2 shot).

In general, No. 7 and higher shot are great for target shooting or hunting some small game animals, while shot sizes No. 6 and lower cover a variety of hunting scenarios. Buckshot is excellent for self-defense purposes, as well as predator and hog hunting, and shotgun slugs are ideal for hunting deer and larger game.

 

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What Does Bugging Out Really Mean?

First, what does the term bugging out really mean. It is military jargon and by most accounts, the term originated from the Korean War. Units and/or personnel were directed to “bug-out” when their current position was no longer considered defensible and was likely to be overrun by hostile forces. Personnel were expected to deploy rapidly to a pre-designated defensive position.

The key phrasing is a “position no longer defensible and is likely to be overrun” and “deployment to a pre-designated defensible position”. In other words, you do not run around in circles in a panic, you need a plan, and you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

People are in love with the idea but if they really had to Bug out love can be fleeting at times.

In non-military prepping terms, bugging out is typically associated with grabbing a bug-out-bag and hastily leaving a disaster zone. Heading presumably to a pre-designated safe haven but herein lays the crux of bugging-out. You only think you know what will happen once you leave. What the reality is you are fleeing one disaster for another, one that may turn out even more disastrous. Once you leave the four walls of your shelter, you have given yourself over to another crisis, one that you have absolutely no control over. You have heard the term “from the frying pan into the fire” it applies here.

You may have a utopia just waiting for you to show up. One of the problems however is getting there, the second problem is how many others are already there, and once you get there, then what.

As smart as you may think you are, you have not reinvented the wheel here. Everyone else will be thinking the same things and many will not be even remotely prepared. Some people will still show up at your safe haven looking for handouts just as they have been doing all their life.

People are convinced for some reason that society will make a drastic change once a major catastrophe strikes. Society will stay the same it’s just that the surroundings will be different. You will still have those people that work hard and try to do the right thing, you will have those people that want to take from others and then those that simply for whatever reason cannot make a go of anything and are dependent upon society as a whole.

You will not become a hermit living off the land the minute you reach your so-called safe haven. The minute you reach your destination is when survival really begins, and you will not be alone.

What is your Bug Out Plan based on?

There is nothing better than personal experience when it comes to making a plan. If you have never grabbed your bug-out-bag and headed out for parts known or unknown because of a crisis then you are planning based on assumptions, on what others have told you, or on what you may have read on the Internet. If you do not know what can happen from personal experience, then well you simply do not know do you. You can only guess (hypothesis) based on the most reliable and current information, but those giving you the information are only guessing as well, unless they have experienced bugging-out firsthand.

Scenario

Day 1

Normally you are awakened by blaring music but not this morning. The voice was excited and yet tried to remain calm and solemn at the same time, a newscasters’ voice. You caught bits and pieces of the news bulletin as you lay there wondering why you were not hearing music from the bedside radio.

Unknown toxicity, possible aerosol canisters placed on public transit, could be sprayed from the air. Some first responders have succumb to unknown contaminates; the anchor went on to state. People collapsing on the street, the bits and pieces were flung from the radio, as you lay there half-awake, and then it struck you.

Your face drained and a sense of urgency took over, you jumped out of bed and had an overpowering urge to run but where to. Finally, you got a hold of yourself and turned on the television as you begin dressing.

Chaos and people screaming even the anchor facing the camera was in a panic talking through a respirator. Cars were parked on the sidewalks and stopped in the middle of the street. Ambulances with the back doors gaping open filled the screen but no one inside, no gunnery’s or any medical technicians wheeling patients, no one rushing, and no one in sight.

The camera tilted and then crashed to the ground. Now the view was from ground level. You saw the legs and feet of someone lying just feet from the camera lens. You could not stop staring.

One Year ago

Today was the first time you had heard of “bugging out” and “bug-out-bags”. Your friend had always been enthusiastic and seemed to latch on to new ideas with intense fervor and today he was trying to convince you to prepare for the coming apocalypse. Super Storm Sandy along the East Coast had a tremendous impact even this far inland and people seemed to be talking more about preparedness.

The Mid-Western city you lived in was land locked and had a population close to 500,000. Not a bustling metropolis compared to the cities along either coast but a large metropolitan area nonetheless. It was referred to as fly over country by many and not on any ones’ radar in your opinion, especially a terrorist organization as your friend was trying to imply.

Your friend was dragging out backpacks, clothes, tools and gadgets and laying them on the floor. He handed you a hand written list of items that he said were essential for surviving 72-hours in any situation. He said that when the SHTF he wanted to be ready and that you needed to be ready as well.

The note also had a rendezvous point, in the event of a crisis because all communications would be down, so meet up when the balloon goes up. You folded the note up and told your friend you had to get going, the blaring television was getting to be too much. Apparently, there was a marathon of the Doomsday Preppers running and your friend seemed transfixed by the show, he never looked up from the television as you closed the door behind you.

Present Day

You thought back to that day a year ago in your friends’ home. You have a bug-out-bag now but wondered just how prepared you really are. You had gathered some things over the last year and then stuffed them in a backpack and tossed it in a closet. Your idea of a crisis at the time was a few days without power or a blizzard that cocooned everyone in their homes for a couple of days.

Now it seemed the very city you lived in was not safe. You also realized it had been two hours since the first emergency broadcast and you had not even grabbed your pack, and you wondered about your friend. Why no phone calls, your cell phone still had bars and there was still electrical service. The humming refrigerator seemed oblivious to what was happening. He may have just “bugged-out” and was headed for the meeting place, but another thought occurred but you tried hard to push it away.

You had no idea what to do. Fear of the known and unknown alike rooted you in place.

The news channel was a garbled mess and the governors and mayor’s statements that had been taped an hour earlier were playing continually. Stay calm, and no, we do not know if the crisis is an attack or an industrial accident; it is too early to say. The investigation is continuing, no need to panic and no mandatory evacuations have been ordered at this time and it is recommended you stay indoors and avoid traveling at this time. Keep the highways clear for emergency personnel were the pleas from the authorities.

Apparently, the local news stations were on automatic pilot. The workers were likely huddled up somewhere or fleeing the city. The local radio stations obviously did not get the governor’s memo about staying off the roads, because they were playing on a loop the routes that were to be used for evacuation from the city.

You had no idea what the toxin was that was released, and if anyone in authority knew, it was kept a secret. However, the empty ambulances with their doors flung wide told the whole story.

You were afraid to leave and afraid to stay, you simply did not have enough information. If you left on foot, you may walk into a cloud of deadly chemicals, and where would you walk to that was safe. If you tried to leave in your car, you could get hung-up in traffic and then no way to escape the clouds of gas headed your way if in fact it was a gas attack.

What if it was some communicable disease and the National Guard was already stopping people from leaving because of the fear of it spreading. Not enough information to decide on a course of action, staying put could be deadly and leaving on foot seemed to be even more deadly.

Your home was a small rental house perched somewhere between real suburbia and the city central. There were factories you could see from your front window, and no clouds of steam bellowed from their smokestacks today.

You were looking at the overpass a quarter of a mile away with a pair of binoculars and it was clogged with cars not moving. You saw people running along the sides of the highway in both directions; it was chaos wherever you looked.

You inventoried your backpack and wondered how in the world you could survive out there. What should you do? Should you shoulder the pack and make a run for it, head north away from the city and find a wooded area. Where does safety lie in this type of situation?

The people on the overpass seemed to be fine, no one appeared to be gasping for air or collapsing on the spot as far as you could tell but things could change.

The pack had some bottled water, ready to eat foods in plastic pouches, matches, a magnesium stick that you had never tried out, a change of underwear and socks, heavy coat, flashlight, some rope, a compass, first aid kit, sunglasses and maps of the city and state along with a few other miscellaneous items. You also had a multi-tool, two thermal blankets and a small survival fishing kit all rolled up in a nylon tarp that your friend had given you.

You were worried about your friend because he did not answer his cell phone. It took close to an hour to get through on the cell phone only to hear his voicemail prompt you to leave a message. The cell towers were overloaded probably.

What do you do based on what you know so far?

It would be difficult to know if there were other canisters of gas ready to explode if in fact it was a deliberate release of deadly gas. Was it some type of freak accident? Possibly a train derailment of cars containing some deadly cargo or did someone blow up a train car that they knew contained deadly chemicals. It is all speculation at this point.

Terrorists often will attack and then wait for first responders to rush in and then attack again to injure and kill the emergency personnel. These types of attacks are truly meant to provoke terror in people’s minds. Attacks are also timed to occur in various areas at different times to spread emergency resources thin.

Terrorist know the psychological impact their actions have and in some cases, just the threat of an attack or the idea of another attack is enough to send a city into panic.

Based on the almost instant reaction the toxin had on people you could probably rule out a biological attack. However, the authorities may not have ruled it out and may cordoned off certain areas to prevent anyone from leaving. Thousands however, would be able to bypass the checkpoints and individuals with little to no training could easily avoid any roadblocks in place.

It seems some action, whether it works or not, is better than no action at all, is the philosophy of many government officials.

If it was a gas attack, the canisters could be rigged to explode by cell phone or timers all over the city. The individual could head out in a panic and run into a cloud of saran gas. Another release of gas could be closer to his home this time thus killing him in his own home if he stayed in place.

For the first attack, the canisters could have been placed on public transit, buses and trains, for example, and rigged to release at certain times. This means the gas is distributed throughout the city at intervals. The individual simply does not know.

The fact that the individuals’ cell phone worked six hours into the attack might allow you to rule out canisters rigged to explode by a cell or radio signal.

Homeland Security and other agencies if they had been paying attention would have jammed all radio and cell service to the area almost immediately to prevent a cell phone or radio signal from triggering any more devices. Although only six hours in may be too early for this kind of response what do you think?

After six hours no one seems to have much information, does the individual in the story have enough information to make a decision and what should his decision be.

Time is crucial and decisions to evacuate must be made quickly in these types of situations, what would you do and how would you do it?

 

 

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You Fall Through the Ice, Now What?

 

Even if you aren’t into snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, or other popular outdoor winter activities, it doesn’t hurt to know how to maximize your chances of surviving if you fall through ice.

First, be aware that as soon as your body hits icy cold water, it will experience something called cold shock phenomenon. This phase lasts between one to three minutes, and is characterized by an instinctive gasping response, which can lead to hyperventilation and a huge waste of energy.

As your body experiences cold shock phenomenon, your focus should be to consciously control your breathing. Try to slow your breathing down and know that you have more time than you think to survive. If it helps, remember that many top level athletes experience this scenario almost daily with ice baths following intense workouts.

Once you are relatively calm, try to swim to the point at which you fell into the water and use your arms to grab hold of a solid edge of ice.

For most of us, the natural instinct is to pull ourselves straight out, as we would do in hoisting ourselves out of a swimming pool. According to Dr. Giesbrecht, this is next to impossible.

The most efficient way to get yourself out of the water is to keep your legs as horizontal as possible and kick like you’re swimming, and try to get into a rhythm of kicking your legs and pulling your body forward onto the ice with your arms. Kick, pull, kick, pull, etc.

Once you have kicked and pulled your body out of the water, remember that the ice is probably weak, and that it’s best to roll your body away from this point to an area that looks more solid. Rolling can transition to crawling, and when you are relatively confident that you are on solid ground or ice, you can stand up and walk away.

What To Do If You Can’t Pull Yourself Out Of The Water

If there is no one to help you and you can’t get out on your own, don’t thrash around, as you’ll only lose more heat and get further exhausted.

Try to get as much of your body out of the water as possible to minimize heat loss. Specifically, get your arms up and onto the ice. Keep your arms there and don’t move them. Then relax as much as possible.

If you’re lucky, your arms will freeze to the ice before you become unconscious. If you become unconscious, you’ll stay there a bit longer because you are frozen there – you might get rescued in this state.

What To Do As A Bystander

If you come upon someone who has broken through ice, remember that the most important goal should be to preserve yourself.

We recommends calling for help immediately, be it through yelling at people within earshot, or with a cell phone.

Tell the victim to try to relax and slow down his breathing and emphasize that you are going to help him get out.

Try to talk her out of the water – tell her to get her legs horizontal in the water, her arms up on top of the ice, and to kick, pull, kick, pull.

If the victim can’t get out by himself, find something to throw to him, like a rope, tree branch, or even a ladder from a nearby home, if available. If you throw a rope, try to create a loop at the end of it so that the victim has something to grab onto. If he can, he should try to put the loop around his trunk and elbow.

Please consider sharing these thoughts with family and friends. Always best to be ultra cautious and stay away from frozen bodies of water, but good to know all of this just in case.

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8 Oils you should keep in your survival kit!

These essential oils should be kept in your survival kit for many uses:

Lavender :

For cuts, scrapes, burns, eliminates sting from bug bites, relieves pain and soreness from sprains and muscle aches.

Peppermint:

Relieves Headache pain and allergies, digestion such as heartburn, bloating, constipation and indigestion.

Repels ants, spiders, mice and other pest.

Melateuca (Tea Tree Oil):

Used for antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, fungicide it kills germs and help eliminate infections.  Helps with mold and mildew.  Treats wounds of many sorts.

RoseMary:

Helps with stress it is very calming.  Reduces itching, dryness and irritation.  Sooth many skin disorders also helps improve your concentration so you can move on.

Frankicense:

Reduces inflammation, and pain that are present.  Heals wounds, cuts, scrapes and burns.  Helps with feeling hopeless and depressed.  Gives a bit of a supercharge so you can go on.  You can layer with many other oils.

Clove:

Helps with toothaches, sore gums and canker sores.  Helps treat wounds, cuts, scabies, athletes foot, fungal infections, prickly heat, insect bites and stings.

Lemongrass:

Relief knotted tendons and muscles, reduces fevers, eliminates body odor and foul smells.  Reduces bacteria.

Roman Chamomile:

Promotes sound sleep, reduces stress and fearfulness.  Heals skin condition like eczema.  Treats vomiting, nausea, heartburn, gas.

We carry these and many other essential oils in our store. So come get your oils to put into your survival kit. You can also call and order them as well.

 

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90 Days part two

What you have to look forward to in a collapse situation:
Black Friday madness reveals animalistic behavior of modern people
Multiply this x everywhere!

I left off in Part 1 talking about mapping software.  There is other software out there but this is what I use. This software will let me print my maps as well. Use your mapping software to plan the locations of your caches as well as your AO of relocation for the 90 days.

Include a good field guide to edible plants, with actual photos rather than drawings. Get one with plants native to your geographical area. Don’t leave a path of destruction behind you, leave some to re-populate the area. Outdoor Life has a good book on edible plants titled: Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide.

Learn and practice Bushcraft skills. If you lose your main pack, these can sustain you until you retrieve your next cache. Keep your maps and compass upon your person, as well as your GPS if you use one. Store your map in a Gallon size Ziploc bag. Have a “Survival” kit that never leaves your person except to sleep, and is then kept by or under your pillow (a rolled up M-65 field jacket) and tethered to your belt. Learn to identify at least 10 wild edible plants.

The minimum for your “Survival” kit is the means to: Start a fire – matches, firesteel or butane lighter (3 methods is great), medium folding knife (suggest Buck 110) and small knife sharpener, water purification tablets or Frontier Straw, ziplock bag or soda bottle – to carry water, Mylar space blanket (x2) – shelter and warmth, 20 feet of Duct tape, and bug repellant.

A deck of Wild Edible Plant Playing Cards would be a great addition also. Currently available on Amazon, Camping Survival , US games Systems, Inc.  and others. Do a web search and find even more links at a variety of prices.

Many hikers advocate traveling with a minimalist pack, using ultralight equipment. This would allow you to move quickly if pursued. A light pack also means sacrificing comfort, so there is a need to balance utility with ease. You don’t want to make the experience any worse than it is. If you can afford it, get the U.S. Army surplus bivvy cover (or the the complete sleeping setup). They can be purchased for a reasonable price and are made from Gore-Tex (no relation to Al Gore thankfully) a waterproof breathable fabric. I have heard claims that you can sleep in a mud puddle without getting wet using one. This would eliminate the need to carry a tent, just bring a 6’x8′ or 8’x10′ tarp to cover your gear and make a small shelter when you are not in your bivvy. Don’t forget bug repellant and mosquito netting for the warmer months.

When traveling the backwoods, it is prudent to be prepared for an encounter with bears. This means cooking and eating away from where you will be sleeping. There are specific containers that are made for storing your food in when traveling in bear country. Whether you use one or not is your personal choice, but be prepared to suspend your food in a heavy contractors trash bag from a tree limb more than ten feet off the ground. Other pesky critters might make a try for your food so be prepared to trap them and add them to your food supply. Bring several snares or 220 Conibears to catch them.

Encountering a bear on the trail, or worse yet, in your camp can be a very scary and dangerous experience. Purchase at least two canisters of bear spray for each person, hanging one from your pack straps when hiking, and have a holster to hold the canister when you are moving about camp or foraging for food or firewood.

One such supplier of pepper spray and bear spray is Buy Pepper Spray Today. They have other self defense items for sale also, such as stun guns, batons and kubotans.

It would be advisable to have a powerful handgun also if you are traversing known bear territory. The smallest caliber I would personally carry would be a .357 Mag with hot loads. A .40 caliber or larger weapon would be better yet. No handgun? Then a shotgun with slugs and 00 buckshot alternated in the magazine.

A newer development that I have been following is the Mexican drug cartels are moving into the wilderness areas closer to their markets and setting up shop growing weed for the surrounding areas. There have been several record busts in Washington and Oregon of late.

This creates a twofold problem. If you are looking to setup caches, you may run into the cartel operations or the DEA out looking for them. Neither one is a good encounter.

By: Selous Scout

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90 Days part one

Ninety days.

Huh?
What about it?

After ninety days, or thereabouts, most of the unprepared people will have died off from a lack of food and possibly adequate shelter.

Not all will be dead at this point. There will be those who survive, those who banded together and withstood the onslaughts of the displaced and starving masses. They were prepared to turn back those who had no important skills to offer, no supplies to share. They will be located in areas where ingress and egress can be controlled tightly.

The others that survived, the raiders, they are mostly the strong and the predatory. They were the shady characters that inhabited the inner city, preying on the weak there. They have no morals against taking what they want and killing those who stand in their way. Gang members and such come to mind.

And then the worst of the worst: those who have turned to eating their own kind in order to survive. They will be hated and killed when discovered by all other groups of survivors.

Within 2 weeks of the crash the cities will begin to tear themselves apart as different groups of people fight for precious dwindling resources. Only the very adaptable will be able to survive there. Things will most likely hold together until the first paycheck welfare check fails to materialize. Then watch out!

In the beginning the government may try to bring the chaos under control, but they will be vastly outnumbered by desperate people, trying to get food. Eventually they will retreat back to critical infrastructure in an effort to protect it from the destruction.

The first to die will be the sick and elderly who are dependent upon healthcare workers and caretakers for their daily existence. After the end of the 1st week, they will be left to die by those same workers, as they leave to see to their own family’s welfare. Perhaps not all will have left, but those who remain will soon be overwhelmed trying to take care of just a fraction of those needing care. After the second week, a large portion of the sick and elderly will have died. There is no one left to bury them. Their rooms become their mausoleums.

Because of just in time inventory management, all stores concerned with disbursement of household consumables will be empty in record time. One has only to look at what happens just before a hurricane or a Black Friday sales event to imagine what it will be like come the collapse. As soon as the people become aware, the stampede to “get some” supplies will empty store shelves. Two weeks after the collapse, the store owners will not even go there anymore as there will be no resupply and to be out on the streets is to invite swift death at the hands of the roving gangs.

Most available food will be consumed by week three and people will begin to hunt the small creatures that live in their neighborhoods. Dogs, cats, various non-standard pets, birds, rats etc… If it moves, it will be considered for the stew-pot. Expect the city pigeon population to dwindle quickly.

Even if the Government manages to open a few stores to ration out supplies, the gangs will post lookouts at the stores and they will report what vehicles loaded what supplies to the raider groups that will follow them home and steal it from them later, or perhaps immediately depending on the location and situation.

If you were to evacuate your home for at least ninety days, you might be able to come home to a semi-intact structure. If you are lucky, only your unprotected windows will be broken out. If you are unlucky you might find your home a burnt out shell. A possible strategy might be to leave a little food behind so that those who will break in (and they will) might be appeased and not vandalize the structure.

Now how does one survive these ensuing 90+ days? You will need to be mobile after the crash.

So the plan would be as follows:

Cache the greater part of your survival goods in various locations. Include in these caches, a large quantity of vegetable seeds.

In your main cache, store materials and plastic for a greenhouse(s). Not only can you raise food in it, you can also shelter in it if needed.

Acquire good quality hiking gear for each member of your family; shoes, packs, sleeping gear, mess equipment, etc… Army surplus is good durable equipment, built to last but heavier than civy gear for the most part.

If your group is larger than two, carry a variety of weapons. First consideration should be the crossbow, a compound bow, an air rifle (1000+ FPS) and a slingshot. Their ability to kill nearly silently is a great benefit. Since your ability to remain undiscovered is imperative to your survival, remaining in the deep forest is your best choice. Fancy scoped bolt rifles are of not much use in areas in which visibility is limited to under 50 yards. Here is where the lever action rifle comes into its own. It is also a good area for the shotgun and .22 LR. Whatever you choose to carry, have the appropriate ammo for it in a sufficient quantity.

You need to have a series of caches with enough supplies to sustain you for these ninety days. Your food should be high calorie as you will need the fuel to sustain you as you move about. At least 1 of each days meals should require no preparation as you may need to eat it on the move. More would be desired if possible. Each cache should supply your group with 2 weeks worth of food and other essentials.

If you are pursued, those following you may have little or no food, thus limiting their energy expenditures. Since you are able to eat on the move, you gain precious ground with each hour. Hopefully they are weakened by hunger and unable to pursue for long.

It would be wise to carry a small radio capable of receiving AM/FM/Shortwave/NOAA bands so that you can try to stay informed on what is happening. There is no guarantee that broadcasting will continue on the commercial bands, but shortwave will hopefully continue.

The use of mapping software can greatly help in planning routes and locations, and can download this info to various GPS devices. Electronic devices should not be relied upon solely to do your navigating, so a good compass and maps should be part of your gear. If you don’t know how to navigate by compass, yesterday is a good time to start learning. Find and make friends with a Boy Scout. Look for local classes, perhaps a class at your local hiking group or Search and Rescue group.

End part one.

By: Selous Scout

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HOW TO STAY WARM INDOORS WHEN THE POWER’S OUT (& IT’S FREEZING OUTSIDE)

FORGET HOME HEATING AND THINK SMALL INSTEAD

Advice for anyone living in a cold climate trying to heat a home when there’s a power outage is to forget home heating and think small instead.

Why on earth would we already start by advising you to forget home heating and aim your goals at thinking small instead?

Let’s get into it!

HOW TO HEAT AN ENTIRE HOME WHEN THE POWER’S OUT

You don’t have many options here, and unless you’re: 1. Set up for these options already, or 2. Willing to drop a lot of cash to set yourself up for them – they’re just not going to work out for you. What are these options?

  1. Use a home heating system that completely depends on wood fireplaces.
  2. Use electrical power generators.

Expensive as hell to do if they’re not already options in your home. Actually, they’re expensive to take advantage of even if they are already options in your home (firewood/gas are not unlimited/free resources!).

With the first option, most will have a fireplace, but that usually will only heat up a single room: the one it’s in.

With the second option, again, most will never bother to have the kind of system installed where a generator heats your entire home.

This is fine though – better than fine actually. Because heating one room instead of an entire home is exactly what you should be doing in a winter emergency where the power goes out.

Why? Heating an entire home in an emergency instead concentrating your efforts on particular things that would be terribly expensive to lose power to – i.e. freezers, fridges, etc.. – well it’s just not wise.

Most would not bother using their generators to heat their entire home ever, and for two good reasons:

  1. This would be very expensive to do in the first place, and
  2. Depending on how long the emergency situation lasts (you never know!), you could potentially run out of fuel for the generator well before the emergency is even over.

So by just using the generator where you need it most (i.e. freezer & fridge, if there’s enough in there to warrant it) you’re saving a lot of money as well as giving yourself the best chance of your generator having enough fuel to last through the entirety of the emergency situation.

Alright, let’s take a look at your most realistic options for heating now.

 

1. CAMP OUT IN ONE ROOM IN THE HOUSE. PREFERABLY A SMALL ONE (AS IT WILL BE EASIER TO KEEP WARM).

If everybody’s in one room with the door closed and that room has got as many blankets, jackets, coats, pets, and whatever else you have at home to keep y’all as warm as possible, you’re going to have a lot easier of a time trying to stay warm by comparison to trying to heat multiple rooms.

When it comes to sleeping, you don’t need to share a bed if you don’t want to, but if it’s not something you mind, why not? If you’re not into sharing a bed, drag extra mattresses or sofa cushions into your room of choice and have everyone sleep separately, but by being in the same room, you’re making sure none of your individual bodies’ heat production is going to waste – it’s helping to keep the room warm.

NO ELECTRICITY/FUEL/FIRE OPTIONS

These techniques will keep your core temperature up, but won’t waste your money, your fuel, or your energy to keep them going. Use as many of them as you’d like, as they all play nice together.

2. STAY IN A TENT.

We all know that being in a tent in cold weather outdoors does wonders for being able to stay warm.

Set up camp inside a literal tent in your bedroom or “warm room” of choice. Sit and sleep in there with whomever is perfectly happy being in the tent with you. Wise to get a big tent that’s large enough to fit everyone in your family, with wiggle room to spare (blankets take up a lot of space!).

Obvious to say the least, but you’ll all be much toastier inside the tent than outside it. And, let’s be real, this’ll help you all sleep better.

3. STAY IN A SUB-ZERO SLEEPING BAG.

Sub zero temperature sleeping bags are a must-have when you’re thinking about outdoor survival for cold weather climates, and again, if the weather’s bad out and there’s no power, you should be using these tools to keep you warm inside. You don’t have to sit in a tent the whole day, but if you just want to warm up, and definitely when you’re ready for bed, it’s an excellent tool to make use of.

4. LINE YOUR TENT WITH MYLAR THERMAL BLANKETS.

We’ve all seen how bushcrafters will often line their shelters with mylar thermal blankets to stay warm outdoors, and when it’s all they’ve got, how just this simple tool is often enough to keep them toasty through some very cold nights.

Still not enough heat in your tent because it’s super cold in your neck of the woods? Chances are lining your tent in these will really help you stay toasty.

5. THROW YOUR BLANKETS AND/OR SLEEPING BAG INTO A THERMAL BLANKET AND STAY IN THAT.

You know they actually make survival blankets in the shape of sleeping bags? Super handy if you’ve not got a great sleeping bag, or of course if it’s still freezing inside your tent.

6. COVER YOURSELF IN EMERGENCY MYLAR THERMAL BLANKETS.

Yes, I haven’t finished with these yet. They seriously keep you so toasty and this step is probably overkill at this point, but if you haven’t got one of the thermal survival blankets I mentioned in the previous suggestion, but want the same effect, or if you prefer to just be plain cooked when you’re sleeping, throw a mylar blanket or two right on top of what you’ve got (a sleeping bag, blankets, thermal blankets, etc.).

Basically, if you’re trying to stay warm in a freezing winter with no power to your home, and you’re doing it on a budget, or with no electricity/fuel/power options whatsoever: treat your indoors like it’s winter survival outdoors. Add layer after layer of thermoregulation-oriented survival gear until you and your family are toasty.

ELECTRICITY/FUEL/FIRE OPTIONS

Sometimes, you won’t feel like turning a room of your home into a hot mess of blankets, sleeping bags, mylar blankets, and tents. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be able to take advantage of more modern and less budget options. What to do in these cases?

7. KEEP A FIREPLACE FIRE GOING IN YOUR ONE ROOM AND HAVE EVERYBODY IN THE FAMILY STAY THERE.

Easy as pie. Doubt you will need a tent if you’ve got this, though I’d still keep the sub-zero sleeping bags and blankets galore in the room in case someone’s not happy enough with just the fire.

If you’ve got a fireplace in a non-open concept room as well as enough firewood to last you ages, no reason you shouldn’t use this method.

Stay safe, and make sure you’ve got your fireplace properly ventilated, that there’s nothing flammable near it, and if you’re going to bed, put it out or make sure to have shifts where at least one or two people are up to watch it. But hell, a good ‘ol fireplace can really keep you cozy with minimal effort.

8. NO FIREPLACE? TURN ON AN INDOOR-USE GAS HEATER FOR A FEW HOURS HERE AND THERE WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING.

Thomas and I were flat out of luck with no fireplace in our home when the electricity went out that one winter in Toronto. I’m terrible with the cold, so I couldn’t stand our bedroom with just the two of us and our cat in it at night. And yes, we were silly enough not to have prepped enough to have the kind of gear stockpiled that it would take to go the no electricity/fuel/fire options way.

What we did have was a propane/butane heater (like this one), and if I’m honest, not a lot of fuel for it. So we rationed out a few hours of warmth before bedtime, being very careful to ventilate our home by opening a window when it was on and watching it like a hawk simultaneously. About a half hour before bed, we’d shut it off, confirm it was off repeatedly, then sleep.

Not the best option, and definitely not what I’d do now, but if it’s all you’ve got, you make do with what you have. Banging my head on a wall these days for being a prepper who was not prepared for that kind of a situation, but you know – live and learn. And we’ve definitely learned.

THE MOST IDEAL PREVENTATIVE OPTION

In an ideal situation, given we had the money, what would we have done? The absolute best method I’ve found:

9. BUILD A BRICK ROOM-SIZED SHED/GARAGE SEPARATE FROM THE HOUSE AND PUT A FIREPLACE THERE ALONG WITH A GAS COOKER.

You know how comfortable you’ll be there? Our neighbours back in Toronto have this kind of a setup and so when the power went out, Thomas and I quite literally spent every morning and afternoon with them, enjoying our time sitting around the fire chatting away, before sadly hopping off to our cold home for nighttime.

Make sure you build this place large enough that you’ll be able to throw everyone in the family comfortably in at night, and you’ll literally be happy as clams throughout the outage. Obviously, again, make sure to practice fire safety (nothing flammable near the fire, good ventilation at all times, and make sure someone’s up whenever the fire’s going), but pretty much, with as much wood as you can get stockpiled, you’ll be cozy no matter how long the power outage lasts. You’re set as long as you’ve got firewood for the fireplace and enough gas for your cooker.

Living the high life during a winter emergency this is.

Enough suggestions? I think you get the picture. You can definitely stay warm and cozy indoors in sub-zero winter climates when the power goes out. Yes, you and your family members may be driven mad having to spend so much time in a single room together, you may be absolutely covered from head to toe in coats and blankets and mylar tarps, but you said you wanted to stay warm, didn’t you?

MORE WINTER PREPAREDNESS RESOURCES

If you live in a cold climate and are working on buffing up your winter preparedness, take a look at our winter emergency supply list to make sure there’s nothing on it you’re currently missing that you may want.

Besides the items on that list, which primarily concentrate on warmth and indoor cooking ability, there isn’t much difference between winter preparedness and any other type of preparedness. So if you’re interested, also take a look at the comprehensive list of survival gear we put together to compare your kits and at-home resources to.

YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR STAYING WARM IN COLD WINTERS?

As usual, if you’ve got any tips and tricks I’ve missed mentioning here, let me know in the comments! Would also love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with cold weather during power outages if you have any stories for me!

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Going Green While Camping

Camping is a outdoor recreational activity which involves overnight stay away from home in a shelter such as a tent or a caravan. Camping is a wonderful experience if you’re ready to understand what it feels like to live off the land. Of course, with our modern technologies and conveniences, we don’t have to completely live off of the land.

Yet, there is nothing that can compare to getting back to nature and sleeping under the stars. It’s something everyone should try at least once.  While camping does feel quite environmentally friendly already, there are ways to make it even more green.

Camping with friends and family involves lot of fun. Going green with camping is an environmentally friendly way to make your vacation eco-friendly. The idea of making a greener camping is to have a minimal impact on the environment. Whether you are planning to week long backpacking trip or a short trip to snow covered mountains, here are some impressive tips to help you go green while camping.

Trash-Leave it how you found it-Clean

Even if you used mostly biodegradable materials, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your trash behind. It is important to leave your campsite the exact way you found it. What if the campers before you left all of their trash behind? Wouldn’t that be annoying? Instead of getting down to the business of camping, you have to start your trip by cleaning up after someone else. That would put a damper on anyone’s trip. So, be mindful of leaving anything behind. Bring extra cloth bags to store all of your items for the trip back home.

Soft Soles

You should tread lightly. You want to minimize your disturbance to the land. So, wear soft-soled shoes. You never know what might be waiting to shoot up beneath you. Remember, the plants and wildlife were there before you. We have our concrete jungles, give nature some space to live too. Also, don’t level the ground underneath your camp. It is that way for a reason. Instead, place cloths under a sloping mat to keep it level.

Clean and Reuse

If you’re camping for more than one night, you’ll have to do some washing. If you have reusable plates, cups and silverware–that is a good start. When washing them, use only biodegradable soaps. Don’t cancel out your green camping trip with toxic dish detergent. Also, do not dump waste water into a stream or river. Empty it on dry ground or vegetation.

Sleeping Gear

It is important to look for sustainable camping gear. Look for camping tents made with 100 percent recycled materials. This should include the tent, fly and floor. Then, determine what types of coatings are used for waterproofing. You want a tent that uses solvent-free polyurethane coating. And, it helps if it is made without toxic dyes.

They are made with naturally untreated, exterior-grade larch wood, while the floor is made from spruce. In addition, they have an integrated ventilation system and electrical outlets. Moreover, it can fit a king-size bed. You can also look for a pre-owned tent at most sporting goods stores. Just look at the materials before your purchase.

Again, look for sleeping bags made of recycled materials. If the weather permits, you might just stick to cloth blankets.

You might want to try a hanging tent. These are like sleeping in a tree. Sometimes, the ground is too cold, soggy and hard to be comfortable. For situations like these, the Tenstile company has created a hanging tent. It is called the Stingray, and it can help you camp anywhere you can suspend it off of the ground.

It is also made to fit three campers comfortably. You won’t have to worry about creepy, crawlies while you sleep. Plus, you’ll have a much better view.

Have you heard of solar tents? This is a new movement in sustainable camping, that also turns it into glamping. A solar tent uses solar fabric that catches the sun’s energy. It also comes with wireless charging pouches to let you charge your devices through magnetic induction.

Repellent

There are lanterns that double as a mosquito repellent. You can often use them to light up your surroundings for over 10 hours each time. Plus, they can protect you from nighttime predators.

Shower

Look for a rinsing system that uses garden hose pressure without the need for batteries or a pump. These types of shower systems compress air in the chamber, which then helps to force water out of the nozzle. This can be used to rinse dirty feet or wash dishes.

Solar Lantern

Carrying a lamp wherever you go can get bulky. The good news is you can find collapsible and portable solar-powered lamps. You can hang the lamp on a tree branch to soak up the sun’s energy during the day time. At night, the lamp shines brightly so that you don’t have to be stuck in the dark.

Food Container

Look for containers that have no BPA or phthalates. These chemicals can leak into your food, even in a microwave. You want something convenient, to travel with you without any messes. Look for leak, break and spill-proof containers. Plus, the design should be compact so as not to take up too much space and easily transport food.

Water

Many times people can be seen bringing a pack of water bottles along with them. This creates overhead as most parks require campers to pick their trash along with them. A better way is to bring a large water container or buy a couple of gallons from which you can refill your water bottle during the trip. You probably never imagined that camping could be even more eco-friendly than it already is. The objective is to continue trying to do as much as you can to care for the environment.

So next time you go camping try some of these tips and go a little greener. Try it, you might like it.

 

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Traps and Snares

In a wilderness survival situation, it is imperative to know  your way around trapping and snaring animals and fish to use for food. With a few simple tools, a lot of patience, and a little bit of ingenuity, you can set up traps and snares to capture game animals, fish and birds with relative ease.

Traps and Snares for Game Animals:

Simple snare

To make a ground snare on a game trail, simply tie a “noose” from a line that slips easily, paracord works the best but fishing line also works, either using a slip knot or by feeding the line through a smooth ring. Tie off the end of the line to a tree or other sturdy object, and place twigs in the ground near the “noose” end of the snare. Then, suspend the “noose” from the twigs you placed in the ground, aiming to get it around the head height of the animal you are hoping to ensnare. The goal is to snare the head of the animal as it runs through the “noose,” so that it becomes trapped by its neck, and its attempts to free itself from the line tighten the snare further. Bait can be used to lure the animal to the snare.

Pit trapping


If you are in an area where larger game are plentiful and you have some time on your hands, you can also create a pit trap. Pit trapping can be used for deer or even elk, if you can dig deeply enough. Making pit traps is very time consuming and labor intensive, as you are essentially fashioning a grave from which the animal cannot escape. Begin by digging a hole in the ground wide enough to accommodate the body of the animal you wish to trap, and deep enough that the animal will not be able to escape once it falls in. If possible, shore up the “walls” of the pit with stones, creating a sort of makeshift masonry so that the integrity of the structure of the pit will not be compromised. Cover the pit carefully with thatch-work and leaves in order to disguise it, and wait. Note: be very aware of where you have placed the trap, lest you fall in yourself!

Deadfall

A deadfall trap is just what it sounds like: ideally, this trap makes the animal dead when it falls on top of it. In order to create a deadfall, find a large rock with a relatively flat surface on one side and use a tripod of sticks to hold it aloft. Bait should be placed at the center of the stick tripod. Make sure the sticks aren’t too solidly attached to one another, or the trap will not fall when the sticks are disturbed by the animal. Nor do you want them to be too weakly connected, lest the trap fall with a change of the wind!

Traps and Snares for Birds:

Net trapping

If you have a large net in your survival kit and feel like fowl, you may be in luck. By suspending a net between two trees in the flight path of a bird flock, you can ensnare one or more birds by trapping them in the netting. It is important that you leave a fold of netting down at ground level in case the bird should find its way downward—and since this method doesn’t involve any snaring of a specific body part, it is important to check it often if you are utilizing it just in case the bird should escape given time.

Perch snaring

Another method that can prove useful for bird-catching is a perch-style snare. Take a small stick and wedge it very loosely into the crotch of a tree branch, baiting the stick if desired. Then, tie a “noose” similar to that used in a ground snare, although very thin line is advised for bird snaring, such as fishing line and secure it to the tree, draping the “noose” end over the loosely-wedged stick. When the bird lights upon the stick, the stick should fall under its weight, thus trapping the bird by the feet.

Deadfall for ground birds

Just as you can use a deadfall trap for small game, you can use a similar trap for flightless birds. Using the same technique outlined for the small game deadfall, create a baited tripod of loosely-connected sticks holding aloft a large rock. When the bird disturbs the sticks in an attempt to reach the bait, the rock will fall and crush the bird or at least trap it in place.

Traps and Snares for Fish:

Trapping fish with a net


If you have a net, you can suspend it deep in the water of a river or creek by tying it off to poles place firmly in the ground, either at shore or further into the water. The net should be baited throughout, weighted at the bottom, and checked frequently to see if you have a catch. This is a simple, passive method for catching fish.

Bottle trapping

This method of fish-catching is painfully simple, but it does limit the size of fish you can catch. What you do is take a two-liter bottle such as those used for soda pop and clean it out, removing the label and the cap. Cut the bottle just below the neck, leaving a wide-mouthed container and a “funnel” that the neck has created. Cut off the threads of the bottle, leaving about a two-inch hole in the “funnel.” Place the “funnel” end backwards into the large portion of the bottle, so the neck of the funnel is facing inwards. Affix a line to the bottle, and add weights and bait—then sink your trap and wait for the fish to swim on in.

A line of lines

If you like, you can also make a line of multiple fishing lines in order to catch fish while you attend to other tasks. Here’s what you do: take a strong line such as sturdy rope or paracord and string it across a stream, tying it off securely to poles or trees on either bank, leaving it just above or partially submerged in water. Then, tie off weighted, baited hooks on fishing line to the cord and wait. When you return to your lines, you may find that your line of lines has taken all of the work out of your fishing.

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Survival Skills you should know or learn

Disasters and emergency situations are an inevitable part of our life. It is how we respond to such situations that plays a major factor on our survival. You may have all the knowledge about prepping but as we all know a disaster can change everything in an instant and you may be forced to survive without your emergency survival kits. Without the right skills for survival your chances of surviving a disaster or emergency situation will be greatly affected. It is important to understand that because of modern commodities our knowledge for basic survival has greatly diminished.  This will basically have a negative effect to us in an extended disaster survival situation and can mean the difference between life and death. Here are the basic survival skills that you need to know or learn in order to ensure you and your family’s chances of survival:

Learn how to grow food and or find it.

Disasters can change everything in an instant. You may be well prepared to survive indoors but what if you are forced to survive outdoors without any supplies? This is where self sufficiency with acquiring food becomes a necessity. Growing food for your family as well as the hunting and gathering approach are the best skills to learn to keep you and your family from starving when surviving outdoors.

  • Grow your own survival food.
  • Know what wild plants and insects are edible.
  • Ways to fish without the tradition equipment.
  • Hunting with trap and snares.

How to find water and purify it.

This is the most important skill everyone should learn in order to survive. As we all know it is impossible for us to survive without water so it is important to understand the importance of knowing how to get and purify water. You need to realize that unless your water source is a spring chances are your water supply will run out and you need to find an alternative source. Knowing how to purify your drinking water is also very important to ensure that it is clean and potable.

Learn about clothing repair.

You need to master this skill as clothing is one of the most important elements when surviving. From basic sewing to making clothes from bolts of cloths or leather it is important to master this skill to help ensure your chances of survival.

Learn basic grooming skills.

Basic grooming skills are very important to learn to keep your family clean and healthy in a survival situation. Keep in mind that being healthy is one of the most important factors in ensuring you and your family’s survival.

Learn first aid.

During a disaster situation you cannot expect to get medical professional help so it is important to know how to treat yourself and others as it will be your only chance in a emergency situation. Every household or group should have a good first aid manual and kit before and during a disaster situation.

How to start and maintain a fire.

This is one of the most essential skills you need to learn in order to ensure your survival either indoors or outdoors. Learning how to start a fire and have it going when you need it can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Fire can be used to cook food and purify water not to mention keep you and your family warm ensuring your chances of survival.

Learn how to defend yourself and be willing to do it.

Owning a firearm and knowing how to use it is one of the most basic things to learn to ensure that you are able to protect yourself and your family in a emergency situation. It is important to understand that during a disaster or emergency situation there will be a lot of desperate people who will not think twice in harming you and your family just to get to your supplies. Defending yourselves with clubs, knives, and basic hand to hand combat are also necessary skills to learn.

Learn and train your mind to expect the totally unexpected.

Disaster situations can change everything in an instant, but no matter how much we know this actual disaster and survival events will surely freak us out. Training ourselves to prepare and practice all sorts of drills for various horrors is great way to prepare us for such situations. You also have to keep in mind that there will always be a big possibility of something strange, weird, and frightening things to happen when in a survival situation. By doing this you will eventually condition your mind to accept such scenarios.

Understand the world and potential disasters that await.

Keep in mind that timing is everything and knowing how to react and respond properly to disaster or pending disasters can mean the difference between life and death. This can be done by monitoring world and local news and be informed and aware to see a situation developing and act on it before it actually occurs. It is important to understand that knowledge plays a vital part in ensuring your survival.

Learn and condition yourself into a survival mentality.

Everyone has to learn the skill of scrounging around and finding what they need. You must learn to see in your mind that certain items can be very useful for your survival. Having a survival mentality will greatly increase your chances in finding solutions to problems that will surely occur in a survival situation.

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Can you Survive a Critical Situation with a Negative Attitude?

A wilderness emergency could possibly happen to anyone, anywhere. When confronted with an unexpected survival situation man has the potential to overcome many challenges, beat incredible odds, and come out a survivor. But just what is survival anyway? Survival is the art of surviving beyond any event. To survive means to remain alive; to live. Survival is taking any given circumstance, accepting it, and trying to improve it, while sustaining your life until you can get out of the situation. Most important thing to remember is survival is a state of mind.

Survival depends a great deal on a person’s ability to withstand stress in emergency situations. Your brain is without doubt your best survival tool. It is your most valuable asset in a survival situation. It isn’t always the physically strong who are the most effective or better at handling fear in emergency situations. Survival more often depends on the individual’s reactions to stress than upon the danger, terrain, or nature of the emergency. To adapt is to live. Mental skills are much more important than physical skills in survival situations. A person’s psychological reactions to the stress of survival can often make them unable to utilize their available resources. You most likely won’t use your physical skills if you don’t have a positive mental attitude.

One definitely must be in the proper frame of mind to survive an unplanned survival situation. Attitude or psychological state is most certainly number one. It is undoubtedly the most important ingredient of survival. With the proper attitude almost anything is possible. To make it through the worst a strong will or determination to live is needed. A powerful desire to continue living is a must. The mind has the power to will the body to extraordinary feats. Records have shown that will alone has often been the major factor for surviving wilderness emergencies. Without the will to live survival is impossible. Survival is possible in most situations but it demands a lot of a person. Humans can be very brave and resourceful when in emergency situations. The mind is a very powerful force. It has control of the body, its actions, and its reasoning. What affects you mentally affects you physically. If you think that you can’t survive, then you won’t try to survive. A commitment or goal to live, refusal to give up, and positive mental attitude greatly increase chances for survival.

Set goals give motivation and attitude necessary to survive pressures. When placed in an unexpected survival situation you will be forced to rely upon your own resources; improvising needs and solving problems for yourself. If you want to survive then you must ultimately decide to take care of yourself and to not count on others to help you. You must continually strive towards a goal of survival. Picture your goal in your mind and visualize yourself reaching it. A person with a stubborn strong will power can conquer many obstacles. Never give up your goal to live, because without any will to live those lost in the wilderness will likely despair and die.

While in your survival situation you will be confronted with many problems that you will need to overcome. Your brain will be your best asset but it could also be your most dangerous enemy. You will have to defeat negative thoughts and imaginations, and also control and master your fears. You will need to shift mental processes and adopt that positive and optimistic “can do attitude”. You will need to be creative and use your ability to improvise to adapt to the situation. Work with nature instead of against it. You will have the crucial task of solving the problems of staying alive. Your problem solving must be based on recognizing threats to your life, knowing their priority of influence, knowing their severity of threat to your life, and taking actions that will keep you alive. It is important to consider your safety at all times. If you sum up and analyze what you need to combat it will be easier to fight known enemies than if you were fighting something unknown. Loneliness, fatigue, pain, cold/heat, hunger, thirst, and fear are your major enemies in emergency survival situations.

To keep your body alive you must react to your body’s problem indicators and defend yourself against the major enemies of survival. Always remember to keep your positive mental attitude. Don’t add any extra burden to yourself by falling into a destructive mental state like feeling self-pity or hopelessness. Remember the important aspects of your life and don’t let the image fade. Think of being lost as an opportunity to explore a new area. With the proper attitude your experience could be interesting. Enjoy the challenge. You might as well enjoy the outdoors while you’re there and grow stronger as an individual as a product of your survival experience. Your positive mental attitude will help you combat your survival enemies. Most people have more than likely experienced loneliness, fatigue, pain, cold/heat, hunger, thirst, and fear before, but have not had to combat them all at once, and to the extent that they have been a threat to their lives. Any one or a combination of them can diminish your self-confidence or reduce your desire to struggle for life. All of these feelings are perfectly normal but are more severe and dangerous in wilderness survival situations. By learning to identify them you will be able to control them instead of letting them control you.

Loneliness is a survival enemy that can hit you without warning. It will strike you when you realize you are the only person around who you can depend on while in your situation. Nowadays modern society barely gives us a chance to test our ability to adapt to silence, loss of support, and separation from others. Don’t let loneliness gnaw at your positive attitude. Fight it by keeping busy by singing, whistling, daydreaming, gathering food, or doing anything else that will take your mind off the fact that you are alone. Also while in your survival situation, boredom or lack of interest might strike you. It must be cured to maintain a healthy survival attitude. Once again keep busy to keep your mind occupied.

Fatigue is the overuse of the muscles and the mind and is a serious threat. It can cause you to lower your defenses and become less aware and alert to danger. It causes inattention, carelessness, and loss of judgment and reasoning. Take time to refresh and rest your brain and body. Conserve your energy. Rest, sleep, and calmness are essential. Pain is natures signal that something is wrong. When in moments of excitement you may not feel any pain. Don’t let it get the best of you; it can weaken your desire to go on.

Fear is a completely normal reaction for anyone faced with an out of ordinary situation that threatens his important needs. People fear a lot of things. People have fear of death, getting lost, animals, suffering, ridicule, and of their own weaknesses. The thing most feared by people going into the wilderness is getting lost. There is no way to tell how someone will react to fear. Fear usually depends entirely on the individual rather than on the situation at hand. Fear could lead a person to panic or stimulate a greater effort to survive. Fear negatively influences a man’s behavior and reduces his chances for successful survival. The worst feelings that magnify fear are hopelessness and helplessness. Don’t let the idea of a complete disaster cross your mind. There is no benefit in trying to avoid fear by denying the existence of a dangerous survival situation. You need to accept that fear is a natural reaction to a hazardous situation and try to make the best of your predicament.

A more dangerous enemy than fear is panic. Panic is an uncontrolled urge to run or hurry from the situation. Panic is triggered by the mind and imagination under stress. It results from fear of the unknown, lack of confidence, not knowing what to do next, and a vivid imagination. Fear can build up to panic and cause a person to make a bad situation worse. In a panic a person’s rational thinking disappears and can produce a situation that results in tragedy. A panic state could lead to exhaustion, injury, or death. A positive mental attitude is still the best remedy. To combat fear and panic keep your cool, relax, see the brighter side of things, and stay in control. Keep up your positive self-talk and remember your goal of survival.

While in a survival situation you will practice self-reliance. You will only be able to depend on yourself and your abilities. You will have to overcome many challenges that you are not accustomed to. Modern society is conditioned to instant relief from discomforts such as darkness, hunger, pain, thirst, boredom, cold, and heat. Adapt yourself and tolerate it, it’s only temporary. When you first realize that you’re in a survival situation stop and regain your composure. Control your fears. Recognize dangers to your life. Relax and think; don’t make any hasty judgments. Observe the resources around you. Analyze your situation and plan a course of action only after considering all of the aspects of your predicament. Be sure to keep cool and collected. It is important to make the right decision at all times. Set your goal of survival and always keep it fresh in your mind. Never give up. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

http://www.backcountryattitude.com/

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Wild Edible And Medicinal Plants in Wisconsin and Surrounding Areas

We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.

1. Purslane

Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.

2. Chamomile

Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.

3. Mint (Catnip)

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.

4. Woodsorrel

Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.

5.  Plantain (Plantago Major)

As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.

6. Watercress

Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.

7. Ginkgo Biloba

There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.

8. Chicory

Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.

9. Sweet Pea

Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.

10. Creeping Charlie

Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.

11. Garlic Mustard

One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.

12. Stinging Nettle

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.

13. Cattail

Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.

14. Lambsquarters

Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.

15. Rose

There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.

16. Violet

Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.

17. Echinacea

It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.

18. Milkweed

Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.

19. Chickweed

Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.

Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.

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SIGNALING FOR HELP

There are many ways in how you can signal for help in a survival situation…

GOT A WHISTLE, HORN or GUN?

Three short whistle tweets, three blasts from a horn or three shots fired from a gun and a pause means…HELP! And two short tweets. two horn blasts or two gunshot blasts back means “Hold on Buddy, I Hear Ya and I’m a Coming For You!”

GOT A MIRROR?

A small pocket or vehicle mirror? A flashlight or vehicle light mirror reflector? Some broken pieced of mirror, glass, a shiny tin can lid, aluminum foil, a CD, emergency thermal space blanket? If it’s a sunny day you can use all these items for signaling.

GOT SOME FIRE?

Something to ignite and start a fire with like a lighter, matches or some other type of fire starter? If you build three separate fires (100 feet or 30 meters apart) either in a perfect triangle or a straight line, internationally this means HELP! But if you can’t build them in a triangle or straight line because of the terrain, one signal fire is better than no signal fire at all. But try to build your fire(s) somewhere in an open area and as high up as possible so it can be seen better from the air and ground search parties too.

DID YOU KNOW…during daylight hours a signal fire can be seen a lot further away if you can produce the right color smoke? For example, if you’re in a green environment like a jungle or forest you should try to produce a “white smoke” which can be done by adding some green vegetation to your burning fire. And if you’re in snow white or desert environment you should try to produce “black smoke,” which won’t be easy unless you have some type of petrol like diesel, oil, plastic or rubber tire. 

GOT A STROBE or CAMERA w/FLASH?

You can use’em at night for signaling a long ways off. Ain’t got no strobe or camera but a flint & steel fire starter? Great! If you strike the flint once every 3 seconds the bright white flash from a distance will look like a small battery operated strobe light.

GOT A CELLULAR or TWO-WAY RADIO?

Never use it unless you have a good signal, keep it always turned off to conserve battery power. Turn it on only when you come to any high ground, but if there’s still no signal, again keep it turned off and put it on only when you arrive at some new high ground. If there’s no high ground in sight and it’s all flat, try climbing the tallest tree to pick up a signal. Repeat and keep trying.

GOT SOME BRIGHT COLOR CLOTH?

Though you can attach any piece of cloth to a stick and wave it, but the brighter the color the more visible it is.  It’s best to pack & carry something more compact & lighter like some bright orange duct tape, property marking tape or one of our emergency orange sleeping bag.

SIGNAL KITE

Now think about it, if you were in a remote desert, jungle or forest and you saw one of these flying in the sky what’s the first thing you would say to yourself? Like me you would probably say “..who in the hell would be flying a freakin kite way out here?” Get my drift, so to speak? Yep, I’ll bet you do, and I’ll bet that’s what you would say too, wouldn’t you? Makes finding a needle in a haystack a lot easier to find, don’t it? You can also make these signal kites out of those pocket aluminum thermal space blanket too. Which if the sun’s out it’ll be seen a lot further away than a regular old kite due to the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it like a giant signal mirror in the sky. And if you don’t know how to make a simple kite, no problem, just google “how to make a kite” and dozen websites will pop up. Now it’s entirely up to you if you want to write SOS or HELP on your kite, obviously if your kite is flown way too high up in the air no one is going to be able to read what it says on it. But should it come crashing down and lands in some trees and you can’t get it down, someone from the air or on the ground just might see it and it could still lead to your rescue. But make sure you use a magic marker and NO SPRAY PAINT or it will add too much weight to your kite and it won’t fly. IMPORTANT: Make sure you test fly your kit before packing it away, don’t assume it will fly without testing it first or you just might be carrying “dead weight.” Get it?

Don’t have any of these items with you?

But don’t worry you’re not screwed yet. What you can do to get a low flying aircraft/pilot’s attention is to use the letters S O S or H E L P. How? By constructing these letters out of some rocks, logs, tree branches, stomped down weeds, snow or sketched out in the sand. Preferably in a open areas or along a water shore, the bigger the letters the easier they will be seen from the air.Not enough room for all these letters? No problem, a large “X” is better than no letters at all and will still get a pilot’s attention and indicate someone down below might be needing some help.

When “lost” or “stranded” should you decide to try to find your way out or home, always leave some type of markings along your route of travel. Why? So in the event someone finally does realizes you’re missing and or someone comes across your markings, they will know which way you’re going. Or should you have to back track, it will be easier to find your last known position. Make sense?

 

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How to Preserve Tomatoes and Apples With a Homemade Solar Food Dryer

I saw dried tomatoes selling for $10/pound at a food coop and thought that price was outrageous. Now that I make and eat my own dried tomatoes, I think they’re priceless.

You can pretty much eat year-round from our small Ohio homestead. Preserving the summer harvest is an important part of doing this, but when I can find a new way of processing food that results in more variety for winter meals, I’mdrying tomatoes especially pleased. Drying apples and preserving tomatoes with a homemade solar food dryer condenses their flavor into incredible winter treats.

We learned to both make and use the food dryer by following Eben Fodor’s excellent directions in his book, The Solar Food Dryer. The body is made from recycled cortec and the hardware bought locally. We ordered the polypropylene screen that the food sits on from the reference given in the book. We didn’t want to risk galvanized metal or aluminum screens interacting with the food.

One thinks of summertime as having long days and the sun high in the sky—perfect for a solar dryer. In reality, the days are getting shorter and the arc of the sun lower by August and September when most fruits ripen. Fortunately, the plans include a built-in light bulb that provides backup electric heat if the day becomes overcast or if the food needs drying into the evening.electric cord and themometer

The one design detail I would change for our latitude is to tilt the dryer a bit more to face the lower arc of the late summer sun. The original angle was calculated by taking our latitude and subtracting 15 degrees. So far, we’ve only use ours in late summer, and have increased the angle by elevating the back legs on two-by-fours. We may soon commit to that angle by shortening the front legs.

A thermometer tells us the internal temperature of the dryer as we rotate it during the day to face the sun. Our goal is to keep the temperature in the 120 to 150 degree range. If it gets too warm, an additional screened vent can be opened as much as necessary.

I make it sound as if we’re standing by the dryer monitoring and adjusting its progress throughout the day. In reality, the homestead’s too busy for that, but the dryer does well with two or three adjustments during the day as we’re walking through the backyard doing other projects. It wouldn’t work, however, to put it out in the morning and leave for work until late in the day. It needs help in following the sun.

Preparation of the food for drying is pretty fast and easy. I prepare the tomatoes by giving them a minute or two in boiling water so they’ll peel easily, and then slicing them as uniformly as possible. I’ve even dried paste tomatoes by just halving them. It’s amazing how small and intensely flavored they become when most of their water is gone.

Preparing the apples for drying is easy and fun if you have a manual apple peeler-slicer-corer. This even gives you slices of equal thickness. The apple slices require no treatment to keep them from discoloring—the drying results in a slightly darker color anyway.apple peeler-slicer-corer

I judge when it’s time to take the food out of the dryer by making sure it’s beyond the sticky stage, still a bit leathery (a good excuse to taste-test!) but not brittle. Then I put it immediately in a container where it won’t re-hydrate in the humid summer air. Glass jars with tight lids are a nice option, but need to be kept in a cool place. I sometimes freeze the fruit indried apples labeled plastic bags, though I’m trying to wean off plastics.

There are books that give recipes for making “fruit leathers” when drying, but I really dislike adding sugar to food that tastes so great with just its own fructose. I dry the apples and tomatoes plain, and I often savor them as “plain” winter treats. However, these dried tomatoes are great in pasta or soups, and the apples add incredible flavor to even vegetable dishes.