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3 HERBS FOR SHTF HYGIENE

Soapwort, licorice root, and sage are three herbs, all easily grown in a home garden, that can really help you in case you run out of hygiene products post-SHTF. Soapwort can be used as a replacement for soap, licorice for toothpaste, and sage for deodorant.

Herbal Hygiene

Rather than keep ten years’ worth of deodorant and toothpaste on hand, I’d rather just keep one or two extras in the medicine cabinetand know what I can use from my garden instead. Part of this is because space is at a premium in my living quarters, partly because I’m a stubborn minimalist, and partly because I’m a kooky herbalist. Take your pick.

So, let’s take a look at the three most basic components for personal hygiene: something to wash skin, hair, and clothes; something for oral health; and something to keep the arm pits from getting quite so stinky. Three easy to grow, perennial herbs that fit these functions perfectly are soapwort, licorice, and sage. Being able to use these three herbs in a pinch can be handy, or they can supplement an existing daily routine as a more natural option.

Soapwort- Saponaria officinalis

Soap Substitute

Soapwort is a beautiful perennial plant that is hardy in US zones 3-9. It grows to be about three feet tall, and prefers rich, compost-heavy soil. It can be a little finicky about light requirements, as it likes sun but not too much afternoon sun. If it likes its growing location it can become invasive, but if that happens, just harvest more of it.Soapwort leaves and roots can be dried for later and still lather when used.

To make a soap solution with soapwort, use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves or roots (three tablespoons if the herb is fresh) per cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb, and allow to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and cool before use.

Soapwort solution can be used for hair, skin, and clothing. It is very gentle, and is often found in high end organic facial care products and used to clean antique textiles. So by all means, don’t wait for SHTF!

Soapwort is toxic to fish, so don’t wash with or dump soapwort solution directly into a pond or stream where live fish are present.

Licorice Root- Glycyrrhiza glabra

Toothbrush/Toothpaste Substitute

Another perennial in the three to four foot tall range, licorice is hardy in USDA gardening zones 7-9. It prefers full sun and moist soil but doesn’t appreciate clay.

The plant will need to grow for two or three years before the roots are large enough to harvest. Once they have matured, they should be harvested in the fall, when the plant has focused all of its resources down into the roots before winter. The flavor and chemistry of the roots will be at their peak during this time.

Not only does licorice root contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components, it’s also shaped perfectly for turning into a simple toothbrush substitute. I use them in addition to a regular toothbrush/toothpaste routine, but some people successfully use licorice root alone.

Licorice root typically grows in a long, thin shape. Once it has been dried (this technique won’t work on a fresh root), choose one end of the root and soften it by standing in a glass with a half inch of water or by sucking on it until the root softens (usually about sixty seconds either way). Peel back the outer root bark (the brown looking skin on the root), and gently chew the root until there is a quarter inch or so of “brush” at the end. Gently rub along the gumline and over each tooth to clean the mouth.

Licorice has a sweet taste, so there’s no need to fear that your brush will taste like pencil shavings. After each use, trim away the used “brush” with a knife or scissors and store in a clean place until next use.

Sage- Salvia officinalis

Deodorant substitute

Sage is a small to medium perennial herb that prefers a very sunny location with dry, well drained soil. It will grow from zones 4-8 in the US. Many people are familiar with sage as a culinary herb, but it also has more medicinal uses.

Make a strong infusion of the fresh or dried herb to spritz or splash the underarms and help control body odor. For best results, make the infusion in the evening and allow to sit overnight before straining. It will need to be applied more frequently than a store bought deodorant, because it will not be as strong. It is not an antiperspirant, either, so it won’t keep you dry.

Fresh sage leaves can also be added to an oral hygiene routine with licorice root. Simply rub a fresh sage leaf over the gums and each tooth. Sage has a stronger flavor than licorice, but the leaves can be harvested more often and more easily than licorice roots, so it’s a good option to know.

Soapwort, licorice, and sage have many other herbal uses, but they are definitely botanical all stars when it comes to personal hygiene. Knowing how to grow and use them will mean you always have a back up plan for soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.

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Build a Jig to Slice Plastic Bottles into Rope Project

This step by step tutorial of how to build a jig to slice plastic bottles into rope project in a way to re-purpose a soda pop container into a useful item. The project is extremely to follow and in no time at all you will be making all the rope you could need for your crafting. The completed jig is equally simple to use and with just a few bottles you will soon have a huge pile of crafting material.

When it comes to making crafts you can use a wide variety of materials in order to create your unique beautiful artist items. Whether you choose to use supplies you find in a craft store or prefer to use materials that come from recycled stuff, it is totally up to you.

One of those materials that are often used for crafting is called plastic rope. This can be used to make a number of unique items and it is really easy to acquire. Clear, green, blue and brown are just a few of the colors choices of plastic bottles on the market. The plastic strips can be cut in different widths, customized to your need.

This Do It Yourself project offers to help you to create your own way to turn an empty plastic soda bottle into tons of plastic rope.

Materials and Tools:

A Wooden Surface(2×4 works great)

2 Screws(Long enough to go through all of the washers and into the wood)

8 Washers(Holes in the middle must be smaller than top of screw)

Exact-o knife

Cordless Power Drill

A marker

2 liter soda bottles

Benefits of using the Build a Jig to Slice Plastic Bottles into Rope project

● The project includes a complete listing of all the materials, supplies and tools you will need

● It also includes a complete, easy to read and follow step by step instruction guide

● It has several full color photos that help to depict some of the steps

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Simple Emergency First-Aid: How to Treat a Stab Wound

Although many survival manuals and emergency first-aid guides detail the effects of a gunshot on the human body, stabbing wounds from knives and other sharp objects are often overlooked. However, during an emergency situation it is likely that knives and other implements will be common weapons for many as personal supplies of ammunition become limited. As such, it is important to know how to give first-aid to those in your party who may be stabbed while bugging-out or defending your retreat.

What kind of damage does a stabbing cause?

Before you go into the actual techniques of treating the wound, you should understand the of damage a stabbing wound can cause.

  • Any stabbing causes lots of bleeding, but a sharp blade causes more. When dealing with stabbing wounds, expect a fair amount of blood. Dull blades cause veins and arteries to spasm, opening and closing, while sharp blades just leave the blood vessels open which causes extra bleeding.
  • Stabbing is likely to cause infection. Knives and other stabbing weapons are rarely kept sterile, and the blade puts dirty metal in direct contact with the bloodstream. Larger stab wounds also open the skin, exposing open blood vessels to infection from the air.
  • Stabbing is unlikely to kill instantly, and can even go unnoticed if the subject goes into shock. Even being stabbed in the heart or the throat is unlikely to kill someone immediately. The infamous case of the Austrian Empress Elizabeth demonstrated this clearly when she was stabbed in the heart by an assassin, only to survive a carriage ride and a 100 yard walk to a riverboat before collapsing. She never knew that she had been stabbed at all, and even her nearby courtier merely thought she had taken ill as shock caused her skin to pale. The wound itself was not found until much later, when a small bloody hole was discovered when medical staff pulled the Empress’s clothes aside to determine what was wrong with her.
  • Wounds to the chest and abdomen can be extremely deadly from even a small wound if they go deep. Knives can puncture lungs, slice organs, and cause internal bleeding and swelling that harms organ function. Stab wounds near the intestines can pierce them, and can also cause them to be pushed out of the gut through the hole.
  • Deaths from stabbing are primarily caused by blood loss, infection, shock, and organ failure.

When to offer first-aid

Before you go rushing in to help someone, even a friend or family member, you have to ensure that there isn’t something else you need to deal with first. In a defensive situation you will have to pry your attention away from a person screaming in pain to make sure that no other human threats are present. Only go to help someone once you’re sure that the area is safe and that you can reach the person without becoming injured yourself!

How to treat the wound

Stabbing wounds can be extremely tricky depending on where and how the person is stabbed. If the stab is shallow, a simple cleaning of the wound and a sterile bandage might be all they need. However, a wound that punctures a lung or slices through the liver is immediately life threatening, and is beyond the scope of general first-aid. Therefore, these instructions can help completely treat a minor stab wound, but are limited to merely keeping a seriously stabbed person alive awhile longer until trained medical help arrives, if it is available.

  1. Inspect the patient, and determine the extent of their injuries. Unless the person was caught unawares, they may have multiple stabs and slashes on their body, or clothing may obscure any wounds at all. Part clothing, and look for all wounds before starting your treatment unless there is an obviously serious wound that need immediate treatment (massive amounts of blood, particularly if it is spurting out like a geyser should be treated as quickly as possible!)
  2. Apply a facemask and sterile gloves if possible. At the very least, disinfect your hands. Before the modern world of antibiotics and advanced medicine, battlefields killed men by the thousands through infection. Your hands need to be clean and your mouth should be kept away from the wound to reduce the chances of infection in a world without easy access to antibiotic medicines.
  3. If the person is conscious, begin working but also talk with them. They probably won’t feel much pain to help you know where wounds are, but talking helps keep the person calm and slows heartrate. If any wounds are particularly nasty (say, a knife sticking out of their leg) keep their eyes averted so they don’t focus on it.
  4. If present, leave the weapon in the body. This reduces bleeding and keeps you from accidentally cutting any more vessels when it is removed. Don’t jostle it when helping, and if you move the patient have someone to steady it and keep it from moving. Weapons left in the body should only be removed by knowledgeable medical staff that can immediately perform needed surgery to correct potential damage.
  5. Choose the wound that is bleeding the most and stanch the flow. Any wound where blood is spurting out has priority unless there is serious flow elsewhere, since spurting blood comes from an artery that your body desperately needs. A tourniquet may be needed if there are multiple serious wounds, but it is always better to apply direct pressure instead since that actually stops bleeding rather than cutting off blood flow. Keep a barrier between yourself and the patient’s blood. If you lack gloves, use layers of clean cloth. If you have helpers, clean their hands and let them apply the pressure so you can continue directing things.
  6. Proceed to stanch bloodflow from each major wound, if there are more than one. If possible, have the person sit up and lift limbs above where the heart would be to slow bloodflow. If the wounds are mainly in the legs, lay the patient flat and lift their legs up on a chair or box.
  7. Once you have some control over the bleeding, begin cleaning the wounds in order from most serious to least serious. Remove debris if present, but remember that even a wound without debris has had a dirty sharp implement jab at it, so they all need cleaning. Clean water is the best for sheer irrigation, but in a pinch peroxide or even alcohol will work.As salt is an excellent natural cleanser, a mix of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of warm clean water is perfect here. Be aware that there will be pain when applying cleaning liquids, so if the person is somewhat conscious give them warning.
  8. Once a wound is clean, close smaller gaping wounds. Butterfly bandages can obviously help here if they are the correct size. Otherwise, glue (on the outside of the wound only!) and duct tape can make an effective placeholder. You want to close the wounds to prevent infectious materials from getting inside, and to keep the wound fairly dry.
  9. If a larger wound refuses to stop bleeding, DO NOT CLOSE IT. Instead, pack it with clean rags and cover with tape. The tape should be reasonably loose: it is primarily a strong covering, not a wound binder, and you want to be able to change out the rags as needed. Some clean spiderwebs can be used over the rags and under the tape, as an extra anti-bacterial layer if you choose.
  10. Keep the person resting, and apply antibiotic ointment if you have it periodically. Check the area furthest away from the heart for each limb that has a bandage on it: check fingers for arm wounds and toes for leg wounds. If a bandage is too tight, it may cut off blood flow to the area below it, and you will need to loosen it immediately.

In many places, the ability to properly treat a knife wound is already invaluable. When disaster strikes and the dredges of society decide to make their move for your supplies, be sure that you can patch up your group of defenders and keep everyone alive.

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Pemmican: The Original Fast Food of the Native Americans

Pemmican is a tasty high-protein treat that’s perfect for snacking, traveling, hiking, camping, and for disasters or other crisis events, where cooking meals may be difficult. As a bonus, this lightweight nutrient-packed food needs no refrigeration.

Traditional recipes for Indian pemmican usually calls for a mixture of shredded jerky, dried berries and nuts, along with a bit of melted fat to hold it all together. In the old days, it was considered essential for sustaining warriors and hunters on the trail. Pemmican can be eaten out of hand, or added to soups, stews, or anything in need of an extra nutritional boost.

The fast-food idea caught on with the Hudson’s Bay Company and became a standard feature in the North American fur trade industry. The highest prices were paid for Native American-made pemmican that was stored in buffalo skin bags, called parfleches. The filled bags were sealed with melted fat. The parfleches shrank as they dried, creating a kind of vacuum seal that helped to preserve the contents for years. Traditionally, this kind of pemmican was made with equal parts dried meat and melted fat. Animal fat taken from around the kidneys and loins were considered choice. If taken from beef, this kind of fat is called suet. For those who prefer a fat-free pemmican, a recipe is included here.

To eat pemmican Native American style, pop a little bit into your mouth and chew it just about forever, sort of like chewing gum. That way you entertain your mouth and extract every bit of goodness from the dehydrated meat, berries and nuts. It is surprisingly filling when eaten this way. Even though the food is low-volume, it it packs power because it is highly concentrated and loaded with protein.

There are different schools of thought regarding the shelf life of pemmican. Some say it will last for only a month or two; others say it will last for years. It depends upon the temperature and humidity of the environment, the quality of ingredients, and how it is stored. At any rate, the fat content will also determine shelf life. After the fat goes rancid from age, it will taste bad, and should be thrown out. The cooler the storage temperatures are, the longer the fat will stay fresh.

To help extend shelf life, I like to store pemmican in the freezer. If the electricity should ever go out long enough to affect the contents of the freezer, I will take the pemmican out of the freezer, and after making sure that it is perfectly dry, store it in a glass jar or plastic bag in a dark cool place.

For even longer term storage, I sometimes use raisins in place of fat in the traditional recipe.

Fat-Free Pemmican

In a blender, whiz together equal parts of pulverized-to-a-powder jerky, ground dried berries, and chopped nuts of your choice. Add enough raisins so that the smashed up raisins hold everything together nicely. Then you can form marble-sized balls or whatever. No blender handy? Chop with a knife, then pound the foodstuff to a pulp with a rock.

This stores a lot longer than the traditional version with fat. But then, during really high caloric demanding situations such as hiking, working, or coping with a disaster, you’d be wishing for that little extra fat, because it supplies a majority of the calories in pemmican.

Another delicious alternative to animal fat is peanut butter, which provides more sustenance than the fat-free version.

Pemmican with Honey and Peanut Butter

Some people prefer peanut butter to fat; some like a blend of honey and peanut butter. Here is a recipe that helps provide calories without fat:

  • 1/2 pound of jerky, pulverized to a powder, or nearly to a powder
  • 1/2 pound of raisins
  • 1/2 pound of nuts (peanuts, pecans. etc)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Warm the honey and mix with the peanut butter together until well blended.
Add all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place.

Native American Pemmican – Traditional Style

Cook chunks of fat over low heat until all moisture is removed and oil is rendered. Strain well, allow to cool until hardened. Reheat and strain again, to make the fat firmer, and to improve its keeping qualities.

Pulverize dried meat (jerky) to a powder. Add equal parts of ground dried berries and chopped nuts. Add just enough hot melted fat into the mixture to lightly coat all the ingredients. Immediately stir the mixture, working quickly to allow the melted fat to soak into the powdered ingredients before cooling. If it cools too quickly, gently warm the mixture in the microwave or over a low flame. While still warm, shape the pemmican into balls, bars or small patties.

Lacking traditional containers such as animal intestines or skin parfleche bags to store them in, wrap the pemmican pieces in wax paper. Store in glass jars or plastic bags.

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Low-Carb Paleo and Primal for Preppers

I wouldn’t have much to eat in “What’s for Dinner”, so I’m going to write up my own personal paleo/primal low-carb approach to nutrition, especially as it applies to prepping.

The mountain men, hunters, and others rarely had sugar and flour and were healthier. I’m not as active as them, but I’m trying to eat like them.

Micro and Macro Nutrients– What Your Body Really Needs

The first thing to do is separate nutrients from calories. You need nutrients– vitamins, minerals, protein, and a few other things to keep things running. These, like oil and radiator fluid, are things you only need a little of, but they are vital. You also need calories in your fuel tank.

You need a daily supply of vitamins and minerals, the micro-nutrients. For those, when I’m not eating a wide variety of natural food, I have a multi-megavitamin, which has more than enough of my daily supply of all the vitamins and minerals. For example, I don’t have to worry about whether salt is iodized or not, as I get it from the supplement. You need to find vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed by the body, and try to get mega-vitamins. (The USDA 100% requirement is the amount to keep you from death, e.g. scurvy, not the amount to insure your health.) You want to have 100% of what you need each day. Note that some vitamins and minerals are toxic at high doses, so be careful. I’m still looking for the ultimate combination. (My ideal would be to be 110% of the proper amount per 50 pounds of body weight so would be good for men, women, and children.) Feedback and suggestions are welcome, as are suppliers who might want to create such.

The only macronutrient you need is protein. That is in meats, eggs, and some dairy, so instead of worrying about calories, store up the high protein foods. I didn’t mention beans and nuts; many have a lot of protein but also tend to have more carbs, so I don’t do much, but they are also a good choice. You don’t need much, usually only a few ounces, but you do need it. You can get a 5-pound jar of whey protein for about $50. (That’s two to three months for one average person.) I get one unflavored, especially without any added sugar, but there are other kinds of powdered protein. Technically you also need nucleic acids, but you tend to get enough from eating almost anything. Here again, I’m still looking for the perfect protein powder, whey? soy? or something else?

I might only add some “Omega” oil supplements, if you aren’t going to have much fat around. Some lipids are needed, even when not for energy, and your body doesn’t make all of them.

Every nutrient you need for three months fits into a bugout bag with room left over. A small cabinet can contain a 3-year supply.

This makes one thing simple in a TEOTWAKI situation. Just get one set of vitamins and one scoop of protein, and you don’t have to worry about nutrition. No worrying about meats vs. vegetables, but are you getting enough Vitamin A, C, or D, protein, iron, or iodine?

Now for Calories – “Good Calories, Bad Calories” – Fats vs. Carbohydrates (Carbs)

What follows is a bit oversimplified for a short article, but if you want to know more, read the authors, sites, videos, and links for comprehensive information.

When your body has glucose, it won’t burn your fat. Unless you have very little and burn all the glucose daily, you will store, not burn, fat. To burn both carbs and fat, you have to burn a lot of calories like an endurance athlete or our ancestors who had to use lots of muscle power instead of having air conditioned tractors, cars, and washing machines. However, there are endurance athletes who consume no carbs– nothing starchy or sugar-related, and they do fine, many do better.

The “What’s for Dinner” article said Americans consume 40 pounds of sugar yearly. However, most are seriously obese and borderline type 2 diabetic.

Fructose is sugar, but it’s not even a good supply of calories. Only the liver can process it, and you get fatty liver (cirrhosis writ small, not unlike consuming too much alcohol, which is another toxic carb). Obviously, “High Fructose Corn Syrup” is bad, but table sugar (sucrose) is half glucose and half fructose. See Dr. Lustig’s explanation.

Grains, and especially potatoes, are simple starches, which are merely stacked glucose molecules that turn into sugar in your stomach. Yes, you can get a sugar high from potatoes and an insulin spike and everything else, as if you drank a sugary soft drink. There are complex starches in beans and other foods like nuts, but it is easier to avoid all carbs, at least to start. Maltose (in beer) is two glucose molecules. Cellulose is indigestible plant fiber. I’ll leave galactose, lactose, and the other sugars for you to search.

Glucose is also a problem. Your liver can store it up as glycogen (animal starch), as can your muscles, but they can only store a little. Endurance athletes can store lots, but they will burn it all up and burn fat too. Most of us already have a full tank. What happens to the excess fuel? When your blood glucose levels go up, your pancreas (unless you are a type 1 diabetic) releases insulin. Insulin is the hormone that says to store the calories. If your liver and muscles are empty of glycogen, it can go there. Otherwise it changes to fat. Worse, if you also eat fat at the same time you have insulin going up, that fat too will be stored. You will get fat even if you consume no fat, just sugars and starches. Worse, having insulin telling your body to store instead of burn your blood glucose makes you feel weak and hungry, because you are starving inside. You aren’t burning what you’ve just eaten.

Your body (if you aren’t an endurance athlete) will refuse to burn fat until all the internal stores of glucose have been used up and it will resist. You will feel like you are starving, you will feel weak and tired, even if you are obese if your body isn’t set to burn fat. Your body is like a flex-fuel vehicle that slows down and conserves gas until that tank is empty, and only then will switch to diesel.

When you body has adapted to burn fat, it is called “ketosis”. It takes about two weeks of not eating carbs for your body to switch. Your body releases stored fat (or what you eat), your liver turns it into ketones, and your muscles (even your brain) burns them without any problem. You don’t feel hungry. Most people say they have lots of energy and think more clearly. They lose all the extra fat and keep it off as long as they avoid carbs. Most lose their addiction to sugar; they have no insulin spikes and no starvation. Eating fat releases Leptin– the “I’m full” hormone, so they stop eating when they’ve only had a little.

Most of the diet science was revived by Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories, and his follow-up Why We Get Fat, books available from Amazon, but there is a video with the basics.

I’m also not kidding when I call it “sugar addiction”. Your brain on sugar (other than the insulin shock) looks like your brain on heroin or nicotine, or alcohol. Even caffeine’s main effect is to cause your liver to release glucose into your bloodstream. Avoid booze, illegal drugs, tobacco, but eat 40 pounds of sugar each year?

Saying you must eat potatoes, pasta, bread, or sweets is wrong. You don’t have to. You can eat anything else. You can eat any green (non-starch) vegetable, salads with dressing (read the label to see if they add sugar, HFCS is in everything), eggs any style, meats, and fish. I banished carbs from my house but always have a dish of hard boiled eggs and something like a variety of near-zero-carb cheeses and lunch meats. Coffee and tea are available but no sugar (and no honey!) I have a wide variety but am rarely hungry, usually only after a long time or a lot of activity. Once I had some surgery where I couldn’t eat anything solid for a week. I wasn’t hungry and I lost 10 pounds. I tend to eat out of habit daily, and I do need the nutrients from real food– real meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, and they bring a little fat with them so I’m not pencil thin, but I’m healthy. And I’m doing almost no exercise.

My Challenge

If you want to try, give up sugars and starches for Lent. Especially break your sugar addiction, if nothing else. To switch your body to burn fat, you need to eat no more than 20 grams of carbs every day. (Read the labels, ignore “effective carbs”, and just do total carbs.) See the DietDoctor.com website or find other books– paleo or primal are two diets, Atkins was the original. You just need to read the labels and count carbs, not calories. Then eat as much as you want and maybe a little more when starting to avoid your body thinking it is starving; eat an extra egg.

Between now and Lent, eat up all the carbs in your house (or if you have stores, put them far in the back somewhere) so that by “Fat Tuesday”, green vegetables, fat, and protein are the only things you can eat without going out, but make sure some are right at hand so you can grab them when hungry. And eat a bit more salt; bullion is one way. Look up “carb-flu” for why. It is important not to have the bad calories available. Why do they have candy in the checkouts? This is like pretending having a copy of Playboy on the table is okay because you know your male friends would never give into temptation. This is the “near” in “avoid the near occasion of sin”. For Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, all leaven is removed from the home.

For Lent, eat all the eggs, meats (except when it is a day of abstinence), fish, cottage cheese, green (non-starchy) vegetables you want. I’d be careful with dairy, as milk has lactose. Just count the carbs. Don’t cheat or admit that it isn’t a fair test if you have and fail.

You can use sweeteners, but it is better to lose your sweet cravings completely; sweeteners can by themselves raise insulin levels as your body is anticipating sugar. Still, if it will make the transition easier, do so.

If it works, and you are in ketosis, burning your stored and eaten fat, no longer have a sweet tooth, and you are thinking clearly, have energy, lost 20 pounds or more, you might want to continue. You can lose as much as you want and carry your calories with you, since your body is burning fat. Then determine if you want to store more or get thinner.

Final Notes and Miscellany

As always, especially if you have special medical conditions, check with your family physician, but remember he might have been trained in the old, wrong school that only counting calories matters.

Strictly speaking, storing highly processed food, like sugar and flour, is easy, and if in TEOTWAWKI you are going to be burning 5000+ calories a day, it might be a better option. They are less expensive. (There are pallets of the usual bags at my local grocery store), and even fungi and bacteria won’t eat them.

I don’t understand why it matters if pure sucrose (there is nothing but that in the bag) comes from GMO or non-GMO plants or if it could be produced in a chemical factory.

The Healthy Home Economist is another excellent resource but more toward natural and alternative foods, cooking, and health.

The only sugars I eat is a rare raw honeycomb from local farmers. It is rumored the pollen helps with allergies. It’s not 40 pounds per year but more like four ounces at most, and there’s almost zero fructose (just some low-sugar berries. Lustig notes the natural fiber slows the release), and little starch, mostly complex starches in vegetables, but no potatoes or grains (except for an occasional experiment with paleo-food like einkorn).

I haven’t mentioned storage. I have a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. I don’t have to mess with canning or worry about botulism, and it is less work. I can open up a bag and start crunching, or I can soak it to restore the original texture with 97% of the nutrition. Canning is high effort to store, reduces nutrition, and you have to be careful to cool afterward. What is the total cost in time, effort, and money to preserve X nutrients using canning versus a Freeze Dryer? Though, you can do canning on a wood stove.

I’ve stored what I’ve been eating all along– meats, eggs, vegetables, yogurt, cottage cheese. I buy extra and freeze-dry it; there’s one for me and one for the cabinet. I store vegetables in the growing season and meats, eggs, et cetera in winter. Oils are another matter, since they need a different approach, and the one in “Whats for Dinner?” works. I prefer butter. I might not even need to dip into my multivitamin and protein powder, if I’m just continuing to eat what I usually do but from my stores. There are lots of natural calories when you know how to get them, but you can’t control the nutrients. If I suddenly go from under 1000 to 5000 calories per day, then I won’t have to worry about eating carbs, and there’s lots of carbs around where I live since that is what the more commercial farms produce here.

Since except for an occasional garden, I don’t grow enough, I’m into CSA – community supported agriculture, Natural meats, Free range hens (sometimes running through the yard), raw milk from grass-fed cows , heirloom seed vegetables, et cetera since I don’t think we were created to digest things which come from factories. Different states have different laws, but I’m surprised – Montana is restrictive and Wyoming next door has food freedom (ignore the headline) from the link: Summer 2015: Governor Matt Mead signed the Wyoming Food Freedom Act into law on March 3. The new law gives farms, ranches, and home kitchens the right to sell any foods they produce, other than meat products, direct to the consumer without any government regulation or inspection. Sales can take place at farms, ranches, private homes, farmers markets, and through delivery. The Food Freedom Act legalizes the sale of any raw dairy product, including unaged cheese. The sale of raw cheese that has not been aged at least 60 days is prohibited in interstate commerce, but states do have the option of not having any aging requirement in their laws. At this time, Wyoming has the most favorable laws on the sale of raw dairy products in the U.S. You might want to remember that if you want to have a farm in the Redoubt. There are still regulations for more commercial sales, but I buy most products at Farmer’s markets.

Mostly, I want to eat real food. Although I suggested natural but processed supplements at the start, that is for an extreme situation. I was blessed with good health and an iron constitution, but I still feel much better since I’ve reduced the supply line and even minimal processing from the plant or animal to my table, which isn’t possible even with big-box “organic” food. Sugar and flour are bad just on that basis. In the garden of Eden, only one tree was off limits. However, the rest were firmly planted in the ground. Post flood, animals were to be respected, even if eaten and not treated like some factory input. Even raw honey, real original fruit, grains, or even potatoes are different (to draw a parallel, how many own or want dachshunds, yorkies, or poodles instead of something that could easily be mistaken for a wolf?). I’m skeptical of some of the miracle claims but am even more skeptical that processed foods aren’t seriously lacking in nutritional value. Low carbs, paleo, primal (though I don’t believe in evolution) is the closest to the ideal.

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6 Items You Should Pack in an Emergency Bow Aid Kit, Plus a Few Extra Considerations

Can assembling your very own home bow shop make you a better bowhunter? A huge component of successful bowhunting is being intimate with your equipment, and nothing helps you get there faster than amassing the tools for a home bow shop, and learning how to use them. But this practice is not for everyone.

If you have the time, money, and inclination, becoming a completely self-sufficient bow technician is indeed a great goal. But a more-pressing goal for every bow  hunter—and one that offers the potential to literally save a hunt—is to ensure you are always carrying at least a basic “emergency repair kit” that will help you thwart some common in-the-field mishaps.

Here are a few of the things I carry with me most every time I travel.

1. Amazing shrink fletch
On cold winter nights I dearly love to use my old trusty fletching jigs to carefully build some custom arrows, especially some eye-catching crested and feather-fletched arrows meant for my traditional bows. But these days, when it comes to arrows meant for my compounds, and especially for ultra-fast arrow repair, I’ve become a serious fan of the latest “shrink-fletch” products offered by Extreme Archery, New Archery Products, and Bohning. All feature a plastic “cartridge” to which is glued three plastic fletchings of various designs; to repair a fletching-damaged arrow simply scrape off any remnants of the previous fletching with a knife, then slide on a new shrink fletch cartridge and dip the works into boiling water. In 10 seconds your arrow is ready to rock again. Initially I was concerned about the durability of these shrink-wrap cartridges but have tested them extensively in some fairly extreme hot (and more importantly, bitter cold) temps. They are not only impressively durable, I now depend on them almost exclusively for my compound arrows; my emergency kit always holds a three-pack.

2. Portable bow press
My home bow shop holds a full-size bow press but when traveling—and especially on those trips when I don’t bring an extra bow—I bring along a portable press (mine is a Bowmaster). This compact unit doesn’t take up much space and allows me to install peep sights or string silencers, or even change a bowstring (be sure to bring one) if necessary.

3. Allen wrench sets
I always carry at least two of these lightweight, portable sets; one stays in my daypack and I’ll have another in my gear duffel just in case. I use them regularly to ensure my sights, quivers, rests, and more are locked down tight.

4. Extra string loop material/lighters
I’ve been on several hunts where buddies have had their loops fail; thankfully it’s never happened to me but if it does I’ll be ready. Also, my emergency kit always includes a few lighters that are required for proper installation.

5. Extra sight and rest screws
Most of these are small and easily lost when attempting to make an adjustment. Thwart Murphy by carrying a few extras.

6. Bowstring wax
I’ve never had a string severed while hunting but some of my friends have had this unfortunate failure. I have been frightened by the sight of my frayed and fuzzy bowstring halfway through a few backcountry elk hunts that required a good bit of bushwhacking. Nothing helps your string last, and otherwise fend off disaster, like regular applications of protective wax; a tube is in my pack at all times.

The Benefits of an Extra Bow
This might seem excessive for bowhunting newbies, but many who have been bowhunting awhile seem to have a spare around somewhere. The nice thing about toting a ready-to-shoot spare bow (that you’ve shot recently and is tuned for your current arrow/broadhead combo) is that it renders almost all the aforementioned emergency gear unnecessary. For those who can swing it the practice comes highly recommended. I’ve carried an extra bow for years, and it hasn’t been a hassle because I’ve always been a fan of airline approved “double bow” cases when I travel. My typical approach is to remove any “extra” layers of foam these cases typically come with, and simply use my hunting clothes as padding around my two bows. Lately I’ve been saving even more space by toting along a compact takedown recurve as my “backup” bow on some of my out-of-state bowhunts, although this approach does require separate arrows and broadheads and, of course, traditional archery proficiency.

Some Important Additions
In addition to the aforementioned, I’ll make sure my kit includes some Kevlar thread and a needle or two to reattach buttons (carry a few spares) and mend cuts in outerwear, and I’ll also include some adhesives (Super Glue gel, two-part epoxy) that might come in handy for a variety of gear fixes. Similarly, I find it difficult to leave home without at least one roll of do-everything duct tape, and I always carry extra batteries for headlamps and laser rangefinders, which have a nasty habit of powering down when you need them most. More smart items are extra broadhead blades as well as a compact carbide sharpening tool that can touch up heads as well as your knives. Also in my pack is a well-appointed yet compact first aid kit and one of those silver-lined heat-saving emergency bags, to provide a few options when a gear failure might impact the bowhunter himself. Knock on wood.

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Survival First-Aid: How to Identify and Treat Internal Bleeding

Even if you can’t treat it, you can probably grasp the danger of broken bones, severe diseases, or stab/gunshot wounds. The dangers of internal bleeding however are typically harder to understand since they’re not as easily seen. Heck, in most movies internal bleeding is code for “the doctor won’t be able to save him”! Fortunately in real life this is not so, but nevertheless is is important for you to know what internal bleeding does and how to identify and treat it properly.

Disclaimer: I’m no doctor, nor did I play one on TV at any point. Internal bleeding can become very serious quickly, so if you suspect that this is an issue please seek immediate medical attention! This post is meant only for situations where no medical help is available, and should only be treated as my opinion and not any kind of sound medical advice.

Internal Bleeding: More common than you might think

As I mentioned most movies tend to treat internal bleeding like some sort of mysterious affliction that can kill anyone regardless of treatment, but in all likelihood you have suffered from it a time or two yourself! If you’ve ever suffered from even the most minor bruise, you have had internal bleeding which discolored the skin and left the area tender to the touch. Of course, more serious cases will be much more dangerous than a mere bruise, but it is important to know that not all cases of internal bleeding are inherently deadly.

Serious cases and the damage they cause

That said, what we’re looking at here are specifically the more dangerous kinds of internal bleeding, which may not be as obvious as a bruise. These are typically caused by trauma in a disaster situation, though some illnesses and conditions (brain aneurysms for example) can also result in internal damage and blood loss. Any kind of trauma, from a gunshot to a stab wound to a fall can cause internal bleeding. The more severe the trauma, the more likely that internal bleeding will show immediate symptoms, while a less severe incident with lesser blood loss might not be apparent until later.

Regardless of the severity of the actual injury, blood seeping from vessels is never a good thing and can cause a great deal of damage depending on which vessels are broken and where the blood pools. The most immediate and obvious issue is the typical symptoms of external blood loss. Unsafe drops in blood pressure, skin clamminess, and even shock can result from blood leaking out into the cavities of the body. Beyond that are symptoms exclusive to internal bleeding:

  • Pressure in the wrong places. It may not seem like much, but leaking blood can pool and put pressure on certain organs and inhibit proper functioning. This is most prominent in brain, chest, and abdominal injuries. Your brain, heart, and other important organs need blood in very specific amounts from very specific locations and are forced to work harder and harder to overcome the crushing pressure of blood. The brain and heart in particular react poorly to excess blood owing to the presence of other fluids (in the brain) or the need to move and pump (in the heart).
  • Stiffness in skin and muscles. A side effect of excess pressure from pooling blood, parts of your skin or even whole muscles can become stiff and difficult to move owing to swelling.
  • Pain in strange places like muscles or joints. Pooling blood can also deny that precious liquid to other areas of the body by pressing on vessels that are still intact and slowing blood flow to extremities of the body. This can result in pain as muscles attempt to move without the proper amount of blood. Joints can also suffer from this, though sometimes swelling is all that is needed to cause joint pain.
  • Abdominal/chest bleeding denies oxygen to parts of the body. Not only does this cause pain, but it can also cause the body to go into shock as the cells that usually use oxygen for fuel switch into emergency anaerobic (without oxygen) modes. This allows your body to survive without proper blood flow for a time, but the body is unable to subsist for long in this mode before it starts to damage organs. The brain generally suffers the most from this, since it can’t really function without oxygen at all.
  • A wide variety of sensory weirdness from internal bleeding around the brain. The brain floats within your skull, cushioned, protected and fed by the cerebrospinal fluid it produces. One key reason why your brain floats is to avoid putting too much pressure on any one spot, since that can destroy or severely alter the functioning of a particular part of the brain. When internal bleeding disrupts this delicate balance, you can experience nausea, hallucinations, or lose vision. In extreme circumstances you can even have a stroke or fall into a seizure since the brain cannot compensate for the increased pressure.

How to identify internal bleeding

Some types of injuries almost always cause internal bleeding. A gunshot to the gut, for example, is definitely going to make you bleed! However other trauma like falling or getting tackled by a crazed lunatic could still cause that blood loss without any obvious external signs, at least initially.

First off, you should pay attention to any signs of bruising in areas that were otherwise unaffected by the injury. This may indicate that loose blood is pooling near the skin and showing through the layers, similarly to a regular surface bruise.

Secondly, you should be extremely careful to watch for sensory problems, a persistent headache, or any other odd symptoms that might be related to blood in the brain. Even if you otherwise appear fine, long-lasting headaches, sudden and frequent migraines where you had none before, or nausea that is persistent long after any sickness should have been cured.

Thirdly, keep an eye out for blood in any bodily excretions. Vomit, urine, and poo all show signs of blood present, and any amount of blood in them is a very bad sign. Any blood in urine or vomit will probably be red to some degree, while the color in feces varies between black, tea, or red. Vomit indicates blood in the stomach or the throat, while urine and feces can both indicate blood in the intestines or digestive organs such as the kidneys.

Finally, look for any signs of the symptoms noted above, particularly pain in joints or muscles or any kind of swelling. You’ll have to use your own best judgement (joint pain isn’t odd to an arthritis sufferer, for example) and be careful to notice any persistent issue that seems strange.

How do you treat it?

First the bad news: certain severe internal bleeding problems require surgery from a competent doctor. No amount of care or medication will save them, and they will suffer the full extent of the damage or death that the pooling blood will cause. Unless you have a surgeon along for the ride with you.

However, there is some good news to counterbalance the bad! Although some injuries require surgery, other cases of internal bleeding are quite capable of healing themselves if the patient is properly cared for until they recover. Proper care in this case largely involves treating someone for shock, giving the body additional time to recover. Unless the head, neck, or back were harmed during the traumatic incident, elevate the patient’s feet about a foot off of the floor and wrap them in a loose, warm blanket. Try to keep the head from moving at all, though if the person is vomiting or has blood coming out of their mouth you should set the head on its side to improve drainage. If they’re still conscious,  try to keep them calm to avoid raising their heartrate and bleeding faster. Assuming a lack of hospitals or medical care, at this point you merely keep them comfortable (don’t give water or food unless dehydration becomes a danger or other factors demand it) and hope that the inner wounds heal.

I should note that unless there is a strong medical reason for it, anticoagulants and blood thinners are very bad for a patient suffering from internal bleeding. This includes many prescription medications, but it also includes Aspirin.  If you take these medications regularly, I would advise you to ask your doctor about the appropriate course of action. For everyone else, don’t take them in that situation unless a trained medical person instructs you to.

Internal bleeding is a nasty business, but it’s not the death sentence many think it to be. Know how to identify it and treat your patients so that their body can heal the damage and hopefully save their life.

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18 CAMPING TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SURVIVAL (AND FUN)

You learn a lot about yourself when you camp. Your patience will be tested when pitching a tent or building a fire, you’ll see food from a whole new perspective, and you’ll understand that sleeping on the ground with little else than a nylon sheet protecting you actually feels pretty awesome.

You’ll also learn that some tasks are harder than others, but they don’t always have to be. Here are 18 tips and tricks guaranteed to make your outdoor adventure a bit more agreeable.

1. Make a stove from a beer can:

With a knife, some denatured alcohol, and a little bit of courage, you can transform a 12 oz can into a great DIY camp stove that’ll boil water in 5-6 minutes. We did it, and it’s remarkably simple.

2. Light a fire with Doritos are nailing it right now. Delicious snack? Check. Ingenious fire starter? Double check. And here’s the kicker: any flavor will do, even Gout Olives!

3. Use an old shower curtain as a disposable ground tarp Throw it under your tent to keep the floor dry overnight, throw it out the next morning.

4. Fill Toilet paper roll with dryer lint for a fire starter

I’m not sure who the first person was who stuffed a bunch of dryer lint into a Toilet Paper roll and lit it on fire, but goddammit they were onto something.

5. Freeze a gallon of water to keep food fresh You’d think this would take up valuable cooler real estate. BUT the jug-shaped block of ice will last much longer than cubes, and after it melts, you’ve got a gallon of ice water at your disposal.

6. Use an Altoid tin to house a survival kit Step 1: Eat Altoids
Step 2: Enjoy minty fresh breath
Step 3: Fill empty can with matches, sandpaper, small compass, small knife
Step 4: Survive, grow old

7. Strap your headlamp to a jug of water for a tent light

It’s basically a giant night light for your tent and it adds a nice ambiance.

8. Use old coffee cans for waterproof storage This specific tip is most notably applied to toilet paper, but coffee tins can come in extremely handy for storing anything you want to keep dry, and in one place.

9. Don’t camp downwind Your tent will smell like campfire. You’ll smell like campfire. Your mouth will taste like campfire. You’ve basically slept in the campfire.

10. Waterproof your tent with sealant

Pick up a can and spray everything. Your rain fly, your tent, your tent’s seams, your tent bag. Getting caught in thunderstorms can easily put a damper on an otherwise great weekend, but it doesn’t have to.

11. Get yourself a Hobo knife Case makes an amazing one that you’ll one day be able to pass down to your grandchildren.

12. Repel ticks with water and tea tree oil Lyme disease is on the rise. I’ve been caught by ticks firsthand and know how unnerving it can be. Mix up about 40 drops of tea tree oil with around 12-16 oz of water and spray it on. Even if you don’t encounter any ticks, you’ll smell uncharacteristically good.

13. There are 9 ways to start a fire. Know at least 2 ways.

The tee-pi and log cabin styles are camp standards, but knowing whether you want a cooking fire or a raging bonfire is something to be considered.

14. On chilly nights, fill a Nalgene with warm water and throw it in your sleeping bag “But where do I get the warm water from, you goon?” Good question. You could either boil water on the fire, let it sit, and pour it in your Nalgene, or fill your Nalgene with regular water and place it on the outskirts of the fire for a few minute with the top closed.

15. Invent in a solar recharging station

I have a Goal Zero Guide 10 that I swear by. To charge it up, I attach it to my backpack on long hikes and voila—it’s ready to go to work in no time.

16. Pack Emergen-C

Admittedly, this is the most obvious entry, but it’s one of those things that people always forgot to pack. It’s especially useful for a day out on the trails when you need to stay hydrated, or after a long night of singing ’90s pop songs around the fire. It’s also way cheaper than lugging OJ.

17. Create coffee packets

Coffee and camping go together like pot and planetarium laser shows. Tie some grounds up in a filter, secure it with dental floss (or string), and throw it in a mug full of piping hot water you just boiled in that empty beer can.

18. Use a rope and a tarp to create just about anything you’d ever need Most people will employ the rope as a line to hang wet clothes and a tarp as ground cover, but in a pinch or survival situation, they can be used together to craft a warm, dry shelter.

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Go Camping: Camping is Great Way to Increase your Survival Knowledge

Don’t be caught off guard; Prepare yourself by going camping!

When it comes to preparedness, testing, practice and real-world experience is everything. If you have a closet full of gear, but you’ve never really put that gear to the test then why bother even having it?

Camping, fishing and hunting are all great ways to relax and spend time with the family; they’re also great ways to improve your survival/preparedness related skills. Only by testing yourself in a real-world setting, can you truly understand what it will take to survive a real-life disaster.

Good old fashion camping is a great way to get in shape, discover how you’ll do with limited resources, and introduce children to the idea of preparedness.

JUST DO IT: Reading a book is not a Substitute for Real-World Experience

Reading about survival is one thing; actually practicing the skills your reading about in a real-world setting is entirely different. The only way you can truly be proficient in anything is to get out there and do it. Think about it; when you first learned to ride a bike, did you do it by reading about it in a book or did you get out there and practice?

Reading a book or a website about survival is not the same thing as getting out there and using that knowledge in a real world survival situation. You need to start putting your knowledge to use.

It Doesn’t Take much… You have a Backyard Right?

Personally, I’m a big fan of camping and backpacking.  But not everyone shares my enthusiasm for really roughing it, and those who lack real-world wilderness experience really shouldn’t try it there first time out.

You don’t even have to leave your home to go camping.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to trek miles away from people to benefit from camping. If you have a backyard, or even a living room, you have everything you need to get started – especially if you have small kids.

Camping at home can be a great way to ease younger children into the idea of camping out in the wilderness. A backyard adventure is not only an experience they will remember forever, it will start them down a path that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Preparedness skills that you can practice while you’re out camping:

For the beginner, things like learning how to put up a new tent, figuring out how the cook on an outdoor stove or fire, and testing out your sleeping bags are all great first steps. Once you have the basics down, you can then start to throw in some other wilderness survival related training.

Learning how to start a fire

Learning how to start a fire is a skill that everyone should have; but learning how to start one is only half the battle. Just like all aspects of preparedness, practice makes perfect.

Take the time to learn how to not only start a fire, but how to start one using various different fire starting techniques. Once you have that down, really start to study how different tinder, woods, and stacking techniques affect the fire.

Learn how to construct a good tarp shelter

I love making tent shelters; they’re fun, easy to make, and can really make a difference during an emergency situation. While building shelters from natural materials is always an option, tarp shelters are something you can practice in your backyard, or even in your living room in a pinch.

Make your breakfast in a thermos

During an emergency, where power and gas may be hard to come by, a thermos can be a great way to cook a wide variety of slow cooking foods. They are also awesome while camping.

Using a thermos can be a great way to save fuel when cooking foods that have a long cooking time. If you’ve ever cooked with a crock pot, then the concept of cooking with a thermos is pretty similar. It allows you to simmer foods for a long time, with only the fuel that’s required to boil some water.

Practice making survival traps and snares

If you have kids, you need to be careful with this one. That being said, knowing how to find and procure food is going to be essential to your ability to survive during a long-term survival situation. In order to get enough calories, you’re going to have to find foods high in fat and protein; that means you’re going to need a way to hunt and trap game.

The best survival traps are usually very simple to make, and can constructed with natural materials — if you know what to look for.

Camping Safety Tips:

If you do decide to trek out into the wilderness and camp for a couple of days, there are some safety tips that you need to keep in mind:

  • Pack a Good First Aid Kit: First Aid Kits are one of those preparedness items that people often forget about. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to receive the same amount of attention that things like survival knives, guns and bug out bags get.
  • Have a Pre-trip Plan: One of the most important parts of any back country camping trip is your Pre-Trip Planning. Planning will help ensure your camping adventure goes smoothly, and will allow you to account for any threats you may face out in the wilderness.
  • Fill out an Emergency Plan Sheet: One of the best ways you can prevent becoming another statistic is by filling out a detailed trip plan. Should something happen, and you fail to return home at the agreed upon time, your plan can help search and rescue teams know exactly where to start looking.
  • Bring Extra Emergency Supplies: In addition to a First Aid kit, make sure you pack things like a map, compass, flashlight, knife, duct tape, waterproof matches, whistle, blankets, and a solar or hand-crank cell phone charger.
  • Stay hydrated. Being out in the elements can take a toll on your body. Make sure you pack enough water for your entire campsite. If you like to hike and be on the move, we recommend carrying a portable hiking water filter. 
  • Stay Alert: When you’re out in the wilderness keep your eyes open. Just like all aspects of survival, situational awareness is the key to staying safe.
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Natural Disasters: Emergency Preparedness Checklist

There are a number of different emergency events that people prepare for; unfortunately, far too many people ignore the most likely ones and focus on things that may or may not ever happen. But there are some events that are actually pretty predictable. At some point, everyone is going to have to deal with a natural disaster, so preparing for these events is something that we all need to take seriously.

What to expect:

While every disaster will have its own set of unique challenges, there are some things that you can expect during most natural disasters. Whether it’s a hurricane, flood, earthquake, wildfire, or even just extreme seasonal storms, there are a number of things you should be prepared to deal with.

  • Expect to be without utilities for several days to several weeks. That means services like electricity, gas, and water could be affected.
  • Disruptions in Food Distribution. Depending on the severity of the disaster, it’s very likely that you will see at least temporary disruptions in food delivery systems. Your local grocery stores may have trouble keeping food on the shelves.
  • Loss of Infrastructure Services. Things like trash collection, emergency services, and even hospital services could be affected.
  • Crime, Looting, and Violence. During most disasters there is usually a pretty big uptick in the amount of crime. From unprepared people who are desperate to find supplies, to the lowlifes who prey on the innocent in the aftermath of a disaster, this is something that has become far too common of an occurrence post-disaster.

Do you know what Disasters are most likely in your Area?

In order to plan for emergencies, you need to know what disasters are most likely to affect your immediate area.

  • Do you live in an earthquake zone?
  • Is your home situated in a flood plain?
  • What disasters have affected your geographical location in the past?

If you live in an area that is prone to a certain type of natural disaster, then that’s where you need to start your planning.

Do you have an evacuation plan in Place?

Being prepared for natural disasters means preparing for the possibility of having to evacuate your home, and possibly even your city or state. Events like hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes can create a situation where hunkering down could prove to be a life-threatening decision. It’s essential that you have a plan in place to deal with evacuation causing disasters.

Depending on where you live, millions of people could be hitting the roads trying to flee the area.

If you don’t have a plan, or you decide to wait for the government to issue an evacuation notice before you leave, you’re probably not going to get out of town on time. At the very least, you will find yourself stuck for hours in traffic with hordes of people all trying to escape; but more likely, you will probably find yourself stuck in the danger zone without a way of getting out.

  • Your plan should have a trigger. You need to decide ahead of time what things would need to happen for you to kick your plan into place.
  • You need to keep communication in mind and have a plan for contacting your loved ones during an emergency.
  • You need to practice your plan before disaster strikes.

Is your Home Disaster Ready?

When disaster strikes, there is a good chance your home is going to sustain some sort of damage. To minimize the effects of the disaster, and to help ensure your safety, there are some things you should be aware of.

  • Find out where your homes emergency shutoffs are located. If a disaster ruptures your waterlines or gas pipes, or damages the power grid in anyway, you may need to shut off these utility services at the source.
  • Do you have a Safe Room? You should have a room in your home that is a dedicated safe zone – an area away from windows that has been structurally fortified to withstand severe weather.
  • Is your emergency gear easily accessible? Things like flashlights, candles and emergency radios should be in a place where you can easily grab them once trouble strikes.

Is your home attack proof?

During times of crisis, criminals usually try to take advantage of the situation. You need to be prepared for the possibility of looters and people who are seeking to do you harm.

  • If you don’t have a firearm, you need to consider purchasing one and learning how to use it.
  • You need to make sure your home is fortified to withstand an attack or home invasion.
  • You need to have a plan in place, and everyone in your family should know what to do should a criminal try to enter your home.

Do you have an emergency kit, and will it last at least two weeks?

Most preparedness experts recommend having 72 hours’ worth of emergency supplies; that number is completely wrong. At minimum you need to have a two-week supply of food, water, medicine, and emergency supplies on hand at all times.

  • When stockpiling water you should store 1 gallon per day, per person in the household. You should also know where all the water sources are around your home.
  • Food supplies for a natural disaster are a little different than those for a long-term disaster, as you want to make sure you have plenty of easy to prepare foods that don’t require a lot of cooking.
  • Make sure you have a fully stocked first-aid kit, and if you have medical problems make sure you have extra medication. Check out our article on how to prepare if you have health problems.

Do you have cash on hand?

Even during small-scale disasters, power outages can affect electronic payment systems — making your debit and credit cards completely useless. You should always have some emergency cash on hand. Should you need last minute supplies, or need to rent a hotel room during a temporary evacuation, having cash could become extremely important.

Do you have a way to generate power?

Most natural disasters can have a destructive effect on the power grid. From temporary power outages, to outages that can last for weeks, or even months as we seen after Hurricane Sandy, you need to be prepared to deal with shutdowns in the grid.

  • How to Choose the Right Emergency Generator for Your Home: Our Generator worksheet will help you determine the right size generator for your situation.
  • The Top Portable Solar Panel Chargers for Disasters: Advances in solar technology have made it possible for everyone to have a small emergency solar backup. These small portable devices can help keep things like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running.
  • Make sure you have a way to cook food. I recommend having some sort of outdoor stove or grill so that you can still cook should your power and gas go out.

Are you Psychologically prepared to deal with emergency situations?

Throughout history people have endured many unthinkable hardships. From the arctic explorers who survived being shipwrecked for years in the brutal conditions of the Antarctic, to those who survived the unthinkable conditions in Nazi Germany, the one thing these survivors all had in common was the will to survive.

To truly be prepared to survive any type of disaster, you need to cultivate a mindset that goes far beyond just having the skills and gear to survive.

  • Surviving Traumatic Events starts with developing the Right Mindset: The will to survive is probably the single most important aspect of surviving a traumatic event.
  • Disaster Related PTSD: How to Recover from Disasters and Traumatic Events: Disasters can have severe mental and physical health consequences, developing the proper coping skills and strategies can help get you through even the toughest situations.
  • Prepping without giving into Fear: While aspects of fear can be helpful during certain situations, if you don’t learn how to how to properly control it, it can be a debilitating killer.

Are your family, friends, and children prepared?

During your planning, it’s important to realize you’re not an island. If you have loved ones who live in your home, or people you take care of on a regular basis, these people need to be on board with your plans. An emergency is not the time to start teaching them what they should or shouldn’t do.

Once you have your plans in place, you need to remember to practice and periodically review your procedures to make sure nothing has changed. Conduct drills; ask your family members if they remember where to meet and what to do, make sure your emergency supplies are up-to-date, and stay on top of anything that might require you to rethink or rework your plans.

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How to Weather Forecast And Weather Predict Without Technology

We have no control on the weather yet it is a part of our lives which influence what we do, what we eat, what we wear and many times where we live.  How did people predict the weather before there was the Internet, television, radio or the weatherperson with all of their gadgets?

Modern Tools for Weather Forecasting

  • Doppler radar and high altitude balloons.  The Doppler radar produces velocity data about objects at a distance with the help of the Doppler effect.
  • Weather balloons send back measurements of atmospheric pressures, wind speeds, temperatures, and humidity. Balloons send back data via a device called a radiosonde which collects information on its upward journey and transmits it back as the device comes back from its high altitudes.
  • Barometers measure air pressure.
  • Anemometers measure air pressure but have no mercury.  They also measure wind speed.
  • The Beaufort scale is also used to measure the wind speed.  Each picture represents one level of the scale.
  • Psychrometers measure relative humidity.  This instrument uses two thermometers.  One bulb is covered with a wet cloth.  A cooling effect of evaporation lower the temperature on the bulb as the cloth slowly dries.  The two thermometer temperatures are compared to a chart to get the relative humidity.
  • Thermometers measures the air temperature. In the United States, temperature is measured using two scales.  These are the fahrenheit and celsius scales.  Both of these are based on the state of the water at sea level.
  • Rain gauges measure the amount of liquid precipitation.  This is a fancy rain gauge used by professionals but any open container with a flat bottom can measure precipitation by adding an inch scale.

Predicting The Weather Before All Of The Modern Technology

Before our world had so many gadgets to predict the weather, people had to depend on observations and folklore to predict the weather.

Step 1 OBSERVATIONS

A.  Coffee

  • You can predict the weather by observing a cup of coffee.  When you pour a cup of coffee watch which way the bubbles on the top go.  A good sign is when the bubbles quickly move to rim of the cup.  That means high pressure and good weather for the next 12 hours.  When the bubbles stay in the middle of the cup, you know the pressure is low and the weather is unsettled.  This illustrates air pressure just as a barometer or anemometer do.B.   Insects
  •  When bees stay in or hover around their hives it means it is going to rain sometime that day.  So if you see no bees in your flower beds you can probably count on rain.  Air pressure again is the cause of bees not venturing out too far from their hives.
  • Ants also stay near the opening of their ant hill if a rain storm is coming.  Sometimes ants will even cover up the hole on their mound.  They will also build the sides of their ant hills very steep right before the rain.  All of these occur due to the air pressure.
  • Some insects have a tendency to be mean when rain is approaching.  Wasps have a tendency of stinging and fleas will bite fiercely.  Watch your arms for flea bites and don’t let the wasp get you as they really hurt.
  • Spiders make their webs  stronger when a storm is expected, and rain is predicted.  The webs usually have more cross sections that reinforce the web.
  • Crickets are known as a poor man’s thermometer.  They can tell the temperature.  If you add the chirps a cricket makes in a 14 second time period and add the number to 40 you should come up with the temperature with one degree Fahrenheit.  Imagine using crickets as your thermometer.
  • C.  Cows
  • Looking in the field at a heard of cows, you know if they spread out it is going to be a nice day.
  • If the cattle are all clustered together, a storm is brewing.  The tighter the cluster the worse the weather will be.
  • Cowboys and cattle can’t talk but cattle can relay a message that it is going to rain and the cowboy understands by observing the actions of the cows.  For example, if a cow is restless in its stall, it usually is a sign of rain as cows are usually calm in the barn.
  • Another way a cow predicts rain to a cowboy is by not giving milk.
  • In the pasture cows rarely lie down but if they do, this is another prediction of precipitation.
  • D.  Birds
  • When rain is coming, birds have a tendency to fly low because the air pressure starts falling due to an oncoming storm and the lower air pressure hurts their ears.
  • It is also a sign of the air pressure falling when you see a bunch of birds sitting on the telephone or power lines.
  • Rain in coming when you observe the sparrows chirping and all of a sudden you don’t hear any birds.
  • Seagulls stop swarming and stay on the beach when a storm is coming.
  • E.  Cats
  • You will often see cats clean behind their ears before it rains.
  • Most animals sense the air pressure changing and will have a sixth sense when it come to predicting stormy weather.
  • F.  Moon
  • Light shining through cirrostratus clouds associated with moisture and warm fronts cause a ring around the moon.  The ring around the moon usually means rain or snow.
  • G.  Wind
  • By observing which direction the wind is blowing, throw a piece of grass into the air and watch its descent.  This will give you the wind’s direction.  Westerly winds indicate no storm fronts are near. Easterly winds can indicate a storm front is approaching.
  • H. Leaves
  • The leaves of deciduous trees turn upside down during unusual winds.  The leaves grow in a way that keeps them right side up during regular prevalent winds.
  • The leaves on trees will curl when the humidity changes.  Imagine observing tree leaves for humidity rather than measuring it with a psychrometer.
  • G.  Clouds
  • Clouds which look like puffs appearing in long rows.  These clouds are called cirrocumulus clouds. These are considered high clouds which have an elevation of over 20,000 feet.  When much of the sky is covered with these clouds the sky is called a “mackerel sky” because it looks like a lot of fish scales.
  • Altocumulus clouds are in the middle cloud group.  The elevation of these clouds is 10,000 to 20,000 feet.  These clouds form when rising currents within the cloud extend to the unstable air above.  Rain can be predicted within 36 hours.
  • Towering clouds, know as cumulonimbus clouds usually mean thunderstorms in the afternoon. These clouds usually have thunder, lightning and heavy rain.  These towering clouds can go up to 60.000 feet.
  • Cirrus clouds which are the highest clouds look like a lot wispy feathers in the sky.  Usually these clouds indicate pleasant to fair weather when they move from west to east.  A high number of these clouds can be a sign of an approaching frontal system.  They are usually over 20,000 feet and are where the atmosphere is very cold.
  • Light and moderate participation is associated with nimbostratus clouds.  These clouds cover the whole sky and are dark and low hanging. These are considered low clouds, under 10.000 feet and lengthy precipitation can be expected within a few hours.
  • Cumulus clouds look like cotton balls in the sky.  Usually these clouds are not a prediction of rain as there is a lot of clear sky in between them.  In the spring and summer these clouds can change into thunderhead clouds (cumulonimbus clouds).
  • H.  Air
  • If the air smells like compost, there must be a low pressure and plants are releasing their waste. Rain is on the way.
  • Another smell in the air during low pressure and a sign a storm is on the way is that of the gasses from the swamps.

Step 2 Folklore

Even though folklore weather seems way out there, farmers and sailers still use it today.

A.  Proverbs

  • “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight”.  Red sky at night usually means high pressure and stable air is approaching from the west.  Usually good weather will follow.
  • “Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”.  If the sunrise is red, it usually indicates a storm system is moving to the east.  Rain is on its way if the morning sky is deep fiery red.
  • “Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning”.  This usually indicates we are probably going to get the shower in the west.
  • “If March come in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb”.  March is such an unpredictable month for weather.  We can only hope that if it is cold and snowy the beginning of March, it will be springlike and warm at the end of March.
  • “Cool is the night…when the stars shine bright”.  The temperature seems to drop when there is less moisture in the air at night.  A clear night sky allows the stars to shine bright.  The brighter the stars the cooler the night.
  • “Clear moon, frost soon”.  If the night sky is clear enough to see the moon and the temperature drops a-lot, frost will form.
  • “Mare’s tails and mackerel scales make tall ships take in their sails”.  This saying means that high winds could be coming and therefore the sails of the ships should come down.
  • “When the stars begin to huddle, the earth will soon become a puddle”.  Many stars are hidden by approaching clouds at night.  The clouds that are not hidden by the clouds look like they are huddled together.  This doesn’t always lead to rain but if clouds start increasing then there is the chance of rain.
  • “When the wind is blowing in the North, no fisherman should set forth.  When the wind is blowing in the East, ’tis not fit for man or beast.  When the wind is blowing in the South, it brings the food over the fish’s mouth.  When the wind is blowing in the West, that is when the fishing is best”. This is when all of the door signs that say “GONE FISHING” come out.
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How to Dry Cure Meat at Home

One of the old forms of food preservation is fermenting and curing meat. It’s also one  of the tastiest in artisan salamis, pepperoni, aged cheeses, and of course, bacon, just to name a few. Not only does fermenting add preservation to the meat, but it adds flavor, flavor. Need I repeat it again.

If learning how to do things the old-fashioned way, bringing back traditional skills and learning true art forms, or just plain eating delicious foods that you know where they came from and went into them, then you my friend, are in the right place. Let’s raise our cheeses and pepperoni together!

Today we’re talking about the art of using salt and fermentation to preserve your meat.Many people use the freezer or canning to preserve their foods, and while I’m a die hard Mason jar and canning addict, looking back at older forms of food preservation is just as important.

The art of fermenting is using the good bacteria (and salt with meats or dry curing) to give flavor and preservation to the meat, along with drawing out the moisture, which allows it to be a form of preservation. 

Advantages to Fermented and Dry Cured Meat

Cured meat increases in flavor as it ages, as opposed to time in the freezer where over time your meat slowly degrades. Hanging and aging your whole muscles cuts and salami it concentrates the flavors and gives it a more intense flavor process. Plus, there’s the cool factor of being able to have shelf stable meat cured like the pioneers did.

 How to Dry Cure Meat at Home

Purchase a culture specifically for meat SausageMaker.com or ButcherPacker.com  You can keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to do your meat.

The easiest way to preserve your meat is taking a whole muscle cut, make a salt and spice rub and cover it with the rub, and put it in the fridge for a few days. This way you don’t have to use nitrates or any special ingredients.

After a few days, when the salt has had a chance to get in there and draw out some of the moisture, hang it in a controlled environment at 60 degrees Farenheit with 70% humidity and let it dry until it’s lost about 30% of its water weight. That is preserved traditionally and you can eat it raw.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. I make a commission if you make a purchase, but it costs you  no more. Thank you so much for helping support this site and podcast.

Resources for Dry Curing Meat at Home

Kitchen Scale– digital kitchen scale weighing up to 18 pounds at a time to make sure you can accurately tell when 30% moisture loss has occurred.

Salt This is a pink Himalayan sea salt with no additives

Curing Salt– for use in ground up cured meats to help prevent the growth of botulism

The Cave – unit that allows you to control the temperature and humidity on any refrigerator or freezer.

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing -the book on how to cure meats at home.

Three FREE Recipes on How to Dry Cure Meat at Home- homemade pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto

How long do you let your muscle cut cure?

Prosciutto cuts can take up to a whole year, but smaller cuts don’t take as long. It depends on when it looses the 30% of its water weight. So you need to weigh the cut going in and then after its aged.

You can make Panchetta, which you usually cook, so if you cook it, and don’t eat it raw, then the 30% weight loss isn’t as crucial.

How do you store your cured meat and how long is it good for?

You can continue to store it in The Cave to continue to age it and concentrating the flavors. If you keep curing it will get really hard, otherwise you can store it in your fridge.Lowering the temperature slows down the aging. You can freeze it as well.

Once the meat is completely dry cured, it is shelf stable. You can keep it out on the counter. But to keep it as palatable as possible,  you store it in the fridge or freezer to extend the shelf life and keep it from drying out too much.

Karen says they take they’re salami camping and don’t worry about keeping it in the fridge.

What cuts are a whole muscle cut?

The most popular would be your back leg of a pig, deer, or lamb. You can do something smaller like a loin or neck muscle. Just a whole muscle group, just follow the line and separate that muscle from the rest of the muscle groups. This way you don’t need a grinder.

A grinder is a small investment and you can find both manual and electric
meat grinders here–>stainless steel meat grinder

You can take any piece of meat and do this process of salting and dry curing it.

Back when people naturally cured their own meant, they’d use an basement, cellar, or attic.

You want a slightly warmer temperature so the good bacteria blooms and forces the bad bacteria out, and not being to cold helps with this.

You can use cheese cloth to wrap your meat while its hanging if its in an open environment like a basement or attic. For ease and safety, a contained chamber is best, not only to keep the bugs off, but to help with humidity and temperature levels.

Karen and James created a product, called The Cave, to control your humidity and temperature that attaches onto any refrigerator or freezer. It has a touch screen that allows you to set the humidity and temperature for dry curing meat, cheeses, and even culturing yogurt and sourdough. It has a wireless app so you can easily change the settings if you’re not home.

Right now (thru June 8, 2016) they have a kickstarter campaign going for the Cave including some special kits and e-books.

The fridge or freezer you put it on should be a single unit (no separate freezer) and the heater for warm cultures works best at 10 square feet.

With cheese and meat, if it gets to dry on the outer layer of your meat and cheeses then it creates a hard crust and that hard crust traps the moisture inside and creates a safety issue. This is why the humidity level is so important.

This is also true of your cheeses, if the good mold doesn’t start to form. We had some disasters in the first few years, before The Cave, which is why we ended up creating.

How to Make Bacon at Home

Take your pork belly and throw it in a container with spices, maple syrup or brown sugar is a favorite, and put it in the fridge and flip it once a day for a week. Then throw it in the smoker or in the oven and cook it to a set temperature and you’ve got your bacon.

On the Kickstarter campaign is bacon making kit, both ginger garlic and apple cinnamon bacon.

Salt Safety in Dry Curing

Again, you really need some type of scale. You need 2.5% percent of the weight of the meat to salt ratio, if the meat is 100 grams then you need 2.5 grams of salt to the meat.

If you’re grinding the meat you need to include some type of sodium nitrate or pink salt, and it’s .25% in order to prevent botulism. Nitrates are controversial, but our opinion is we’d much rather not die of botulism if we’re aging salami, the nitrates protect against that.

You don’t need to use nitrates in a whole muscle cut. Unless, you’re rolling up panchetta, in that type some of the meat has been exposed to oxygen, and some hasn’t. Nitrates are needed when the  meat has been exposed to oxygen and is then put into an anaerobic environment. 

Type of Salts for Dry Curing

You want to use salt that doesn’t have any additives to it, like anti-caking methods.

Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, Himalyan Pink Salt.

Is your cured meat okay if its moldy?

Orange and black are bad.

You’re dry aged pepperoni’s are covered in white mold.

You can buy mold powder to add to your meat when you’re hanging them. It’s beneficial to help with the moisture level and to establish the good mold.

We dissolve the mold culture into water and then spray our sausage with it to help bloom that mold onto the surface of our sausage.

What’s the molds purpose?

It helps the flavor profile and when you make a sausage like salami, the casing helps it not dry out too quickly, and the mold does the exact same thing. It helps regulate the moisture loss, so you don’t dry out the outside too quickly and then moisture gets trapped inside instead of releasing.

Three Dry Meat Recipes:

Home Curing Recipes Pepperoni: Homemade pepperoni is worlds above what you can buy in the store. It is also a great “beginner” fermented sausage, since it is aged in a smaller casing and is ready to eat much sooner than other sausages.

1400 g pork  600 g lean beef (or venison)  10 g Bactoferm F-RM-52  50 g de-chlorinated water  50 g salt 5 g Pink salt #2 (not Himalayan salt—pink salt is a mix of sodium nitrite/sodium nitrate)  30 g dextrose  56 g nonfat milk powder  13 g paprika  6 g sugar  6 g black pepper  6 g cayenne pepper  5 g anise seeds, crushed  1 g fennel  24 g reduced dry red wine (optional: boil wine for 15 minutes then chill)  3 meters hog casings, or 6 meters sheep casings

If using natural casings, soak the casings in cold water for about an hour, making sure to rinse and replace the water at least once halfway through. Open the casings underneath running water to rinse the insides. 2. Grind chilled beef and pork through the small die of your grinder. 3. Dissolve the starter culture (F-RM-52) in de-chlorinated water. Let sit for 20 minutes. While it is re-hydrating, chill the beef and pork in the freezer to keep it cold. 4. Combine meat with starter culture, salt, and remaining dry seasonings. Mix for 1-2 minutes, until it becomes tacky. 5. Add chilled dry red wine and mix until combined. If you took the optional step to boil off the alcohol and concentrate the wine flavors, be sure to add the same mass of liquid that the recipe calls for (start with a quantity of wine greater than 24 g and boil this down to 24 g). 6. Stuff immediately into casings. Prick all over with a sterile pin to eliminate air pockets. Weigh the mass of your sausages and record this value. 7. Ferment using the Cave fermentation controller at 85ᵒF and 90% relative humidity for 12 hours. 8. Optional: cold smoke for 6 hours. 9. Dry using the Cave fermentation controller at 55-60ᵒF and 75% relative humidity until the pepperoni has lost 30% of its weight. Adjust airflow so that it is highest at start of drying, and gradually decreases until the pepperoni is complete. This should take approximately 2-3 weeks, if using hog casings (less time if using sheep casings)

Goat Prosciutto: Lamb or goat prosciutto is easy to make, requiring only a few minutes of hands-on time before hanging in the Cave. It is intensely flavorful and has an amazing mouth-feel when sliced thin. This is a traditional recipe made with juniper berries, garlic, and fresh rosemary. You could also substitute other game animals for this

de-boned and butterflied goat leg (or leg roast)  3.8% sea salt  0.25% cure #2 (optional)  3.0% sugar  2.0% minced garlic  1.0% fresh rosemary (or 0.6% dried rosemary)  1.4% pepper  0.4% crushed juniper berries 1. Start by de-boning and butterflying the goat leg. Trim off any silverskin. 2. Mix the salt, cure, and seasonings Cure in the refrigerator: place it all in a zip-loc bag (or a covered non-reactive container) and put in the refrigerator. Cure for about 5 days, being sure to redistribute the cure every day or so. 4. Rinse in water or wine and pat dry. Weigh the meat and record this number. 5. Tie with butcher’s twine and hang in the Cave. Age at 55ᵒF and 75% relative humidity. The goat prosciutto is done when it has lost 30% of its weight and is firm to the touch. 6. Slice thin and enjoy!

Hungarian Salami Hungarian salami is a slow-fermented sausage with traditional flavors of Hungarian paprika, pepper, and garlic.

1200 g pork  400 g lean beef (or venison)  400 g pork fat  0.9 g T-SPX dissolved in 30 g de-chlorinated water 50 g salt  5 g pink salt #2  20 g Hungarian paprika  20 g pepper  10 g fresh garlic, minced  4 g dextrose  3 g white pepper  24 g reduced dry white wine (Hungarian Tokaji)  3 ft of beef middles 1. If using natural casings, soak the casings in cold water for about an hour, making sure to rinse and replace the water at least once halfway through. Open the casings underneath running water to rinse the insides. 2. Grind partially-frozen meat through small die and pork fat through large die. 3. Dissolve the starter culture in de-chlorinated water. Let sit for 20 minutes. While it is rehydrating, chill the beef and pork in the freezer to keep it cold. 4. Combine meat with starter culture, salt, and remaining dry seasonings. Mix for 1-2 minutes, until it becomes tacky. 5. Add chilled Tokaji wine and mix until combined. If you took the optional step to boil off the alcohol and concentrate the wine flavors, be sure to add the same mass of liquid that the recipe calls for (start with a quantity of wine greater than 24 g and boil this down to 24 g). 6. Stuff immediately into casings. Prick all over with a sterile pin to eliminate air pockets. Weigh the mass of your salamis and record this value. 7. Ferment in the Cave chamber at 70ᵒF and 90% relative humidity for 72 hours. 8. Cold smoke for 6-12 hours. 9. Dry in the Cave at 55-60ᵒF and 75% relative humidity until the salami has lost 30% of its weight. Adjust airflow so that it is highest at start of drying, and gradually decreases until the salami is complete. This may take 2-3 months if using beef middles.

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So You Want to Eat a Tree

By Tao Tao Holmes

MAY 20, 2016

Trees provide us with lots to eat―all kinds of nuts, fruits, and berries, not to mention maple syrup. But what about the other stuff: can we eat the trees themselves?

It turns out we sure can. While trees should not be your go-to forager’s fare (in fact, they’re more of a famine food), their different parts can be repurposed into all kinds of nibbles, often venturing into the gourmet.

We chatted with several dedicated foragers to get the inside scoop on how best to eat trees. Here’s a guide to what we found: the edible parts of trees.

Sassafras roots and bark are used to make different teas and beer. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

Cambium
Cambium is the layer of inner bark between the hard wood and the rough, papery outer bark: it’s a soft, moist, paler layer, the part of the trunk that is actively growing. It’s nutrient rich, and if you taste it, can actually be sweet, though the taste can vary a lot from tree to tree. The cambium of hundreds of trees―most, in fact―is edible, and can be harvested throughout all four seasons.

If you’re desperate, or just curious, you can try chewing it, kind of like gum. More palatable, perhaps, is if you shred cambium into strips and boil it, to soften the texture and taste, or turn it into chips or bark jerky by frying it in oil or butter. Dry roasting can create an almost crouton-like salad topping. However, it’s most commonly (and historically) repurposed as a flour: dried and then pounded into a powder, which can then be used in breads and baking, and added to other flours.

But you won’t last long on cambium alone, and if you eat too much of it, you’ll definitely upset your bowels. Naturalist and self-declared “Wildman” Steve Brill says that if you’re trying to survive on cambium, you have no idea what you’re doing.

Just pluck it off and pop it in your mouth. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

Spruce Tips
Delivering a strong taste of pine and citrus, spruce tips are easy to gather and currently in season. You’ll find them on evergreens, such as the spruce and pine, as the trees are growing their new needles for the year. Those small, young, soft bits at the end of branches―a lighter color than the matured needles―are fully edible, and tender enough to just eat them on the spot. Karen Monger, who runs a website devoted to family foraging, says that her kids like to chew them plain.

You can also candy them, or use them to infuse a sugar or salt by mashing them with mortar and pestle; adding a cupful of spruce tips while baking scones or shortbread adds a really interesting flavor, says Debbie Naha, a naturalist and nutritionist who specializes in wild edible plants.

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Though spruce tips are only available in spring, pine needles are perennial, and you can give the needles of the white pine a quick chop and simmer to make tea, which Naha notes is a good source of Vitamin C.

Alder bark can be used as a bittering agent for primitive beer and also to provide a reddish color. (Photo: Pascal Baudar)

Outer bark
While today, bark is not seen as a viable or appealing food source, you might be surprised to know that the name “Adirondack”―best known for the mountain range, but also the name of a Native American tribe―derives from the Mohawk Indian word atirú:taks, which actually means “tree eaters.” It appears to have been aderogatory term used on neighboring Algonquian tribes who would resort to buds and bark when food was scarce.

Bark flour has made numerous cameos as an emergency food; for example, during World War I, there’s evidence of ground birch bark being added to enhance rations. During World War II, since flour was expensive, wood chip powder was regularly used as a filler.

The bark of the black birch has strongly wintergreen-flavored inner bark and twigs, that can be made into birch beer, used to flavor drinks and desserts. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

Sassafras bark and root are used to make the traditional Southern tea, as well as traditional root beer. The bark of the hickory nut tree can be stripped off and boiled into a simple syrup, that boasts an earthy, nutty flavor and can be added to breakfast foods and baked meats.

Birch bark can be used as a flavoring, providing a sweet, wintergreen kind of taste. In parts of Scandinavia, pine bark is reduced to powder and made into cookies with the subtle flavor of Christmas. The ponderosa pine, for example, smells distinctly of vanilla.

Pascal Baudar’s shrimp cooked in eucalyptus bark with mountain spices such as white fir and manzanita berries. (Photo: Pascal Baudar)

In the middle ages, a lot of bitter barks were used to make beer, as well as being used for dyes, says Pascal Baudar, a professional forager and wild food consultant. Baudar likes to roast bark and use it in vinegar, which imparts a smoky, aged taste.

He’ll sometimes smoke and roast old bark and put it in sauerkraut, or he might infuse the bark with beer or white wine and use it cook fish. Baudar also uses bark as part of his concoction to make bitters, but a lot of the time, he simply uses bark to plate the food, rather than as an ingredient itself.

Linden tree bracts and flowers, which make an aromatic and relaxing herbal tea. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

Leaves
To answer your burning question: yes, you can make trees into salad. The young, tender leaves of trees like the beech, birch, Chinese elm, fennel, mulberry, hawthorne, sassafras, and linden can be tossed into a salad, though some are better tasting than others. You can also pick and eat them fresh off the tree.

Steven Brill has used the very young leaves of white oak trees to make wine (the best wild wine he’s ever made, he says). Leaves, like cambium, have also served as a famine food in the past, as well as being used for medicinal purposes.

Black locust flowers, equally beautiful and delicious, can be used to make sweet and fragrant crepes, doughnuts, drinks, and custards—though all other parts of the tree are toxic. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

Flowers
A number of trees grow delicious flowers. Right now, says Naha, the redbud tree boasts beautiful and very nutritious pink flowers, which are packed with antioxidants. And, if you miss your window, you’re still in luck: when the flowers fade, they turn into tiny pods, which can be cooked and eaten like snow peas.

The flowers of the linden tree are the most famous, used in various calming teas and cordials. Those of the black locust are also scrumptious, though be careful―they’re the only part of that tree that isn’t toxic.

Pine pollen, apparently high in testosterone, is used as a dietary supplement, added to baked goods and smoothies. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

Other comestibles
Maple trees are not the only trees from which you can collect sap. People sometimes tap birch, black walnut, and hickory trees, though their sap has a lower sugar concentration than that of the maple, which makes transformation into syrup too much of a hassle.

Pine trees boast a cornucopia of edible parts. Not only can the cambium, needles, and tips be used in food, but pine cones―the young, male ones―are also edible. The male cones are small and soft, in contrast with their tougher female counterparts. In fact, they are less cones and more clusters (strobilus). On top of that, pine pollen is also collected for use as a dietary supplement.

As for all those tree branches? The twigs of some trees, like the birch and spice bush, can be scratched to extract flavor for drinks, puddings, and sorbets, according to Monger, of The 3 Foragers blog.

Homemade sassafras root beer. (Photo: The 3 Foragers)

There’s definitely a learning curve―don’t just set off into the nearest forest and start tasting plants. While the bark and cambium of most trees is edible, or at least harmless, there are also toxic ones loaded with tannin and cyanide, like in yew and cherry trees.

The ultimate toxic tree is the deadly manchineel, which you should not touch or even go near. You should also be mindful of the trees themselves; when you are harvesting the inner bark, you must make sure not to strip off an entire ring or you’ll kill the tree, cutting off the irrigation system that allows water from the roots to reach the leaves. Brill says that you’d have to be a very particular kind of herbivore―one who specializes in browsing rather than grazing―to really make food out of trees.

And while the internet provides all kinds of field guides, foraging blogs and apps, your best move is to find a forager in your area and go out with them. Dedicated foragers go out nearly every day, and they know exactly where to look―which means that for the most part, you won’t be looking at trees.

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6 Ways to Hack Outdoor Solar Lights for Survival

Solar Lights for Emergencies

It’s that startling moment when the lights go out in the middle of the night.

You haven’t had time to mount your flashlights next to your bed. And you can’t find your candles in the complete dark. As you stumble about, you notice a white glow coming from your vegetable garden.

It’s the solar lighting you put out there earlier this year.

Often overlooked as a preparedness tool, solar lighting is something we should all consider. You can use them in many other ways than just looking pretty: from increasing egg production, to charging batteries, to preparing your unprepared loved ones.

Here are six hacks to maximize the usefulness of this green gadget:

1. First, replace the batteries

Yep, manufacturers lower their costs in building solar lights by using low-quality batteries. It’s often why solar lighting gets mixed reviews – it’s not the light, but the battery that failed. Replacing the low-quality ones with higher quality batteries is the secret to both longevity and efficiency of using solar outdoor lights indoors.

There’s a lot of debate out there on whether to use NiCD or NiMH batteries (such as the amazingly awesome Eneloop, of which I find myself collecting). If you live in a climate with moderate temperatures and a good amount of sunlight, a NiMH battery is your best choice. If not, opt for quality NiCD batteries, as they will tolerate a broader range of conditions than a NiMH will.

2. Turn it into a battery charger

Solar lighting can be used as a battery charger. You can use solar lights to charge batteries during the day, and then remove the batteries and use in other devices. Solar outdoor lights then serve double-duty and give you extra flexibility.

When looking for outdoor solar lighting that might be used indoors or as a battery charger, be sure it has an on-off switch. You’ll save energy for other uses and you may not want your house lit all night. Plus, a switch will allow you to convert it into a dedicated solar battery charger.

Most lights house a single battery, but if you get solar lights with at least two batteries, the light output is quite a bit more, and your charging capacity has doubled.

3. Remove the shades

Because the decorative shades impede the light, removing them will expose more light and the difference can be drastic.

4. Duct Tape over the light sensor

Most outdoor solar lights have a small sensor that works to turn off the lights at dawn. When using them indoors,you may also have other light sources that would trigger the sensor, so use some of your massive stock of camo duct tape to tape over it, effectively disabling it temporarily and keeping the light on.

5. Light up your coop and increase egg production

Increase egg production by putting a solar lamp in a chicken coop in winter and get more “daylight” for egg production. The solar lights can be hacked to extend the solar chip outside of the coop, while keeping the light itself inside the coop.

6. Prepare the unprepared

As I’ve said before, one of the best ways to prepare the unprepared is by giving practical gifts that can be used in an emergency. And this is a sly one.

You can’t very well show up with a hostess/birthday/Christmas gift of a H20 1.0 Personal Waterstraw (well you can, but you’ll probably compromise your OPSEC in the process), but you can show up with a wonderful treat for their lovely garden or eating area. And the bonus is you won’t have to explain yourself to a chorus of“are you like one of those doomsday preppers on TV?”

Pair the lights with a pack of good rechargeable batteries, and baby, you’ve just set them up with a solar battery charging solution that also runs double-duty as emergency lighting – cleverly disguised as a gift.

Solar Lighting options

So where to get good solar lights? It’s tough: If you buy online, you’ll encounter a lot of mixed reviews. If you pick some up at a dollar store, there’s no reviews at all to rely upon. And buying a cheap light just because it’s cheap won’t get you anywhere, worse yet, it will give you a false sense of security.

I’m a firm believer in doing your research – and online shopping. When I shop online at a site like Amazon, I can review the reviews and do price-comparisons to make sure I’m getting the best option out there. I’ve reviewed about a dozen options and these are my top three picks for outdoor solar lighting for the purposes as discussed:

1. Inexpensive Power-Houses

At less than $2 a piece, these solar lights are an inexpensive solution. I don’t plan on using these lights as a replacement for regular bulbs; and at this price, as one reviewer pointed out, you couldn’t buy the solar cell, battery and LEDs. This is an ideal set to gift to an unprepared loved one as well – the price is low enough to pair with some smashing batteries without busting the budget — and you’ll be preparing a loved one with a sneaky solar battery charger as well.

2. A Spot-On Spotlight

A spotlight is also an excellent choice – they tend to have larger solar panels and charge faster. This one, while it has a few mixed reviews (mainly due to damage in shipment) is the one for me. I just bought a tiny house and plan to use it to light my flag at night until someone I love needs some batteries charged.

3. Hanging tree lights

What can I say? I’m a total girl when it comes to the “pretty” factor. These solar lights for trees have pretty good reviews and well, they’re just so flippin’ pretty. Plus, you can just flip them upside down for indoor use. Perfect for my sister-in-law and her lovely (and useless, non-fruit-producing) trees. She won’t even know that I just set her up with a solar battery charger like a total “prepper”.

So there you have it, 3 options for solar lighting and 6 hacks you can do to them to make them moresurvival-y. Are you using solar outdoor lighting in a novel way in your preparedness plans? Do tell!

Happy prepping!

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Mom, Could You Please Pass the Potassium Iodide?

ReadyNutrition guys and gals, by now, hopefully you’re well on your way to finishing up making a batch of JJ’s Ginger Ale; and what could go better with it than a nice serving of Potassium Iodide!  Only kidding.  Potassium Iodide is what you need to stock up on to protect your thyroid from radiation.  I’m sure my Ginger Ale will help it go down a little more smoothly.  We’re going to cover Potassium Iodide in this piece…what it is, and why you should have some in your supplies to prep for when the SHTF.

Why Should Every Family Have Potassium Iodide in Their Supplies

First, let’s cover the why.  Fukushima is still glowing hot, and according to news sources, the control rods have now completely melted into a radioactive “blob” weighing many tons…and gone right through their protective casing into the earth.  The radiation levels are on the rise.  We already know (no thanks to the MSM and their obfuscations mislabeled “reporting”) that radioactive particles are reaching the West Coast and the Pacific is beginning to show signs of contamination.

In addition to the Japanese problem, there are many reactors in the U.S. that are either leaking or beginning to have structural problems.  I just recently did a piece on EMPs and that article came with a map showing the location of the nuclear power plants in the U.S.  Skipping on, we find that Kim Jong-Un of North Korea is threatening the U.S. with a nuclear strike on an almost daily basis, and he has the capability to do it.  Russia and China have not become any friendlier, and Iran is waiting in the wings to develop its own nuclear capabilities with the assistance of all three of the other nations just mentioned.

How Does Potassium Iodide Protect Me?

So, let’s talk about Potassium Iodide.  It is a compound with the chemical formula of KI.  It can be found on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, and it is commercially produced in quantity in the U.S.  It is specifically used in medicine to block excess intake of radiation by the thyroid, hence its value in a nuclear disaster/situation.  In emergency purposes, potassium iodide tablets are given out by emergency respondents to prevent radio iodine uptake.  This is a deadly form of radiation poisoning caused primarily with the uptake by the human body of iodine-131, produced with a fission reaction found in a nuclear explosion or a leakage.

Symptoms of Radiation Sickness Include:

  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
  • Bloody stool
  • Bruising
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation of exposed areas (redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Open sores on the skin
  • Skin burns (redness, blistering)
  • Sloughing of skin
  • Ulcers in the esophagus, stomach or intestines
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness

You may find it interesting to know that potassium iodide is produced naturally within Kelp, and the iodide content can range from 89 µg/g to 8165 µg/g.  Potassium iodide, incidentally, is what is added to table salt to prevent iodine deficiencies.

The thyroid gland has a natural affinity for iodine.  Iodine deficiency can lead to goiters, which presents with an enlarged, thickened throat/neck area.  Potassium iodide was approved in 1982 by the FDA for use in protecting the thyroid gland from fallout or fission in a nuclear emergency/accident, or in the event of a war.  By saturating the thyroid gland with the potassium iodide, the harmful nuclear fission-produced iodide particles are unable to be absorbed/taken up by the thyroid.  This has to be taken prior to exposure.  The dosage lasts for 24 hours.  Here is the WHO recommendations for dosages of KI:

WHO Recommended Dosage for Radio-logical Emergencies involving radioactive iodine:

AgeKI in mg per day

Over 12 years old130

3 – 12 years old65

1 – 36 months old32

Under 1 month old16

The pills were given out in 1986 with Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor accident, and the U.S. Navy has been giving KI to its personnel who have operated within the area of Fukushima’s contamination.  As with all things medical, consult with your physician prior to acting upon any of this information, as there are some complications that may arise from overdosing, and also with those who have heart conditions, due to the potassium intake. In this case, there are natural foods you should have on hand that are high in iodine.

You can obtain it (for now) in some of your health food stores, for about $10 a bottle, ranging from 50 to 100 pills.  I picked up some made by NOW foods, 30 mg per tablet, 60 per bottle…originally $9.99, for $1.00 per bottle at a yard sale.  You just have to shop around; you can find a deal on it.  Bottom line: it’s a good line of defense in your arsenal.  I’ll bet every government employee and their families have a supply for themselves, paid for by our dime, no less.  Stock up on it and set it aside, and let’s hope we’ll never have to use it.  In the meantime, drink a glass of Ginger Ale and keep fighting that good fight!

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Survival Bread

Many years ago, at a Preparedness Fair, I picked up this recipe for Survival Bread. The recipe says that after it’s made, it “will keep indefinitely”. Hmmm… Made me think of Lembas bread – something the elves would make (for you Lord of the Rings fans). “One small bite will fill the belly of a grown man.” Since I can’t stand to waste, it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to HAVE to consume on an otherwise perfectly good day, with soft yeast bread and an abundance of other good foods in the fridge. But this recipe keeps popping up in front of me, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and bake up a brick of Survival Bread today.

Here’s the original recipe, just as I received it:

Survival Bread

2 cups oats

2 1/2 cups powdered milk

1 cup sugar

3 Tbl honey

3 Tbl water

1 pkg. lemon or orange Jell-O (3oz)

Combine oats, powdered milk and sugar. In a medium pan, mix water, Jell-O and honey. Bring to a boil. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. (If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of water a teaspoon at a time.) Shape dough into a loaf. (About the size of a brick.) Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Wrap in aluminum foil to store. This bread will keep indefinitely and each loaf is the daily nutrients for one adult. 

Well, the ingredients don’t sound too bad, but that last line bothers me for some reason. Healthy food should deteriorate, shouldn’t it? I have teenage boys and not much goes to waste around here, so I figured it was worth trying out. Even though the recipe doesn’t specify, I used quick oats. As for the liquid, that little bit didn’t even begin to cover it. It was so dry, I was still stirring mostly powder, so I ended up adding another 1/3 cup water plus more – almost 1/2 cup! It was very stiff, and very sticky. I wonder if I should have added less and got my hands in there and just packed it all together when it was still a lot drier. I don’t know, but here’sthe results:

It doesn’t look so bad! AND – it actually tasted pretty good! It has a heavy powdered milk taste, which I’m not a big fan of, but with a little butter, or honey, or butter AND honey(!) I hardly noticed. I’m sure the recipe can be altered. Maybe less powdered milk and more oats? Unless it’s formulated to an exact scientifically nutritional specification! 🙂  But I doubt it.

Has anyone else had any experience with survival bread? Or maybe if you have a different recipe you’d like to share, email it to me and I’ll post it with your name.

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How to Build a Fire Bed

Did you know that you can have your fire and sleep on it as well?  Most people are content to sleep as close to a fire as possible in order to stay warm at night.  However, we all know that this doesn’t always work as effectively as we would like.  Parts of our bodies get really hot while others receive little or no heat at all.  Let’s explore a really easy trick that can give you the best of both worlds and provide a long-lasting source of heat that your whole body can enjoy.

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Build A Solar Dehydrator For All Of Your Garden Bounty

Build a solar dehydrator for all of your garden bounty. This is a great diy project if you want or need to dehydrate a lot of food. It is perfect for folks that follow a raw diet or are mostly vegetarian. When preserving foods you have a few choices and a lot of folks like to can their foods for storage but canning does affect the nutrients because the food is cooked, where dehydrating only removes the moisture content of foods leaving all the nutrients behind. Another plus to dehydrating is storage space. Dehydrated foods take up much less space than either canned or frozen. While a lot of people have electric dehydrators, these can take hours to dry foods and they are using energy the entire time. This diy solar dehydrator tower by Peak Prosperity can dehydrate a great amount of foods while it costs nothing to use because it drys with the sun.He built it using some recycled materials to help keep costs down but says the family is mostly vegetarian so they dehydrate a lot of their garden produce. As long as you have a place to build this that can catch enough sun you could dry a lot of your garden produce, saving on energy and storage while retaining all of the nutrients in the foods.

This is a story of one of the steps my family has taken towards increased resiliency, including actions taken to build a more sustainable lifestyle and invest in our food security.  My family lives on mostly a vegetarian diet. We currently grow a large garden and plan to grow most of our food for the full year. Growing a year’s worth of food brings up many questions, but the most critical one is how do we preserve the bounty of our garden?  Of methods that I know of, one can dry, ferment, can, or use cold storage. Canning heats the food and takes away some of the nutrients. Not all foods can be stored in cold storage (but I am working on this, as well). We have an Excalibur dryer but find it takes forever to dry things and the electricity to match.

So I decided to build a solar dehydrator. After researching different design ideas, I went with a design that I could use some recycled materials and materials left over from other projects, plus some new. I also wanted a high-capacity design that could dry a lot of food at once. This design has a heat collector and a tower.

Construction

First, I built the foundation out of 4×4 pressure treated (PT) and some not PT. The wood that did not touch the ground did not need PT. The site was also at a slight slant, so I doubled the wood under the tower. The design has a 4′ square tower and an area for the metal that is used for the heat collector mass. I dug trenches in the dirt, drilled screws into the 4×4’s and filled the trenches with concrete. I set the 4×4’s (with the screws down) in the trenches, then leveled the 4×4’s and bolted the intersections together. Then I covered this with 1/2″ plywood that I painted black.

We have a shop in town that sells recycled construction materials (Habitat for Humanity Restore) that makes finding used materials easier for these types of projects. I was able to find three 5′ long, 6″ diameter, single-wall stove pipes and one 14″ diameter single-wall pipe. The three 6″ pipes fit nicely inside the larger pipe. I painted the pipes black with high temp paint (the same paint that you paint a woodstove with). I was going for as much mass as I could get to dry a lot of food at once.

Next, I built the tower. I used 5/8″ plywood siding, as I have this thing for making structures that not only function, but look nice as well. You could use 1/2″ CDX plywood instead, if you chose. Since the plywood is 4′ x 8′, it took 3 sheets (the door is on one side). The framing, including the rafters was made from 2×4 studs. I was able to get a recycled 3′ wide door with a full dual-pane window. This I framed in on the west side of the tower, so the food would not be in the direct sun, but you could see inside. (It could have also been in the rear.) The roof is slanted to allow for an exit vent in the rear. The exit vent opening should be approx. equal to the inlet opening. I covered this with galvanized welded mesh wire on the outside (for animals) and window screening on the inside (for insects). I covered the roof with 1/2″ plywood and scrap metal roofing.

I went to my local glass shop and they had recycled (like brand new) 3/16″ thick, tempered glass shower doors. I framed in a triangular box to hold the shower doors. This area became the heat collector area. Again I covered the inlet with welded mesh wire on the outside (for animals) and window screening on the inside (for insects). This could be flat, as well, with corrugated metal sheets as the heat mass. I made covers for the inlet and outlet for winter.

Cool air comes in the heat collector area, is heated by the metal, and flows up thru the tower and out the top rear of the tower. It works like a woodstove or greenhouse. Heat rises.

Now for the food trays: I made 10 frames out of 2″ x 2″ wood, painted with mineral oil. They are 3′ square. The mesh covers an area of 2′ x 3′ (the mesh comes in 4′ width, so I cut it in half). This leaves an area of 1′ x 3′ opening. I covered 3/4 of this opening with plywood. The opening is on the outside of the frame, away from the mesh. These are installed in a staggered pattern, with the opening opposite on each. This makes the air flow on both sides of the food and slows it down, as it makes its way up to the exit vent. The food is sliced thin and placed with maybe 1/4 to 1/2″ between the pieces. This makes the hot air stay more on the bottom of the trays and move to the opening. The trays rest on angles mounted the inside walls of the tower.

Material for food trays: I used 1/4″ mesh welded wire, type 316 stainless steel, to hold the food. This type of stainless is best for acid foods. It’s expensive, but there are only two types of mesh that you should use for this: food-grade plastic mesh (which I could only find commercial grade) or type 316 stainless steel. (Window screen is fiberglass and can put fibers in the food; aluminum window screen adds aluminum to the food. So these should not be used.) The stainless mesh needs to be welded, not woven, as food can be caught in the weave. The stainless comes in 4′ wide and sells by the foot. I needed 6 square feet (2′ x 3′) per tray x 10 trays = 60 square feet x $6 per square foot = $360.

Final Thoughts

The overall project came out nicely and the ability to use a lot of leftover and used building materials makes this type of project creatively adaptable regarding the design and size of the final dehydrator. The size of our system gives us the capacity to dry and preserve large quantities of garden produce with limited light exposure (we live in a mountain home) and maximize our harvest yields. Some of the other things we will be exploring with our system are:

  • Creating an adjustable cover to regulate heat levels
  • Adding a wireless thermometer to monitor temps from the house
  • Evaluating temperature ranges and zones of differing heat levels within the tower.

I’m happy with how this project turned out, and I hope you will be inspired by my efforts. Do-it-yourself plans for capturing and utilizing solar energy are a solid step on the journey toward resiliency. I’m looking forward to increasing our year-round preserved food supply with homegrown dehydrated produce and dried fruit, and I look forward to sharing our experiences after we’ve used our solar dehydrator through another growing season.

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Teaching Your Kids Not to Rely on the Digital World

Children between ages 8 and 10 spend around 5.5 hours every day using media , according to a media usage report by the Ganz Cooney Center and the Sesame Workshop. But in reality, they’re exposed to eight hours a day of media because they’re often multitasking–watching cartoons while using a gaming system. Meanwhile the American Academy of Pediatrics warns too much media can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.

Technology can be useful in helping kids master valuable skills relevant in today’s digital workforce. There are also plenty of gadgets, tools and digital resources that can help kids learn. But there are life skills every child needs that go beyond technology. Here are five things kids should know without the help of a laptop or smartphone.

Telling time

With smartphones never being further away than arm’s reach, it is rare to see people looking up for a clock on the wall to tell the time. Being able to read a clock is a skill that is fading among the younger generation. Teach your kids the technique of telling time with an old-fashioned wall clock. Busy Teacher offers time telling worksheets illustrated with pictures and shows how to do simple tasks like writing the time and drawing the hands of the clocks. When they’ve got the hang of telling time, show them how to set a watch or clock to the correct time.

Money skills

Kids today see adults putting charges on credit cards and don’t know how to make change or count it back to ensure it’s correct. Children as young as age 4 can understand the concept of earning and saving money. Give them three clear jars and mark one for spending, one for saving and one for charity. Start a chore chart and let them earn an allowance that must be divided into their jars appropriately. When they save up for a big purchase, show them how to calculate how much they’ve earned and how much they still need. The sooner you teach your kids about money, the sooner they’ll develop the confidence to deal with financial matters themselves.

Reading a map

GPS devices make it easy to get from point A to B and never get lost. But a GPS doesn’t work everywhere, and your kids may find themselves in a situation where they need to read a map. Start by showing them how the map on your GPS works and what the different colored lines mean. Next, get out a paper map and show them how it looks just about the same as a GPS map and how to read it. Give them a challenge like how to get to grandma’s house just by using a map and have them write out the directions.

Entertaining themselves

Believe it or not, entertaining yourself is a skill that should be learned and is quickly becoming a lost art. Technology gives kids plenty of options from video games to online chatting without much room for imagination. Make mandatory nature time and get the kids outdoors in your backyard or at a local state park. Let the kids figure out what to do to have their own fun without suggestions from the adults. See what they come up with and remind them how much fun they had the next time they’re bored and looking for something to do on their computer.

Write a handwritten note

Handwriting and crafting a letter are getting left by the wayside with the rise of technology. But every child should know how to write a handwritten note with a structure including an opening and closing. Show them an example of a letter you wrote and its purpose. Whether it was a thank you note or correspondence with a relative, tell your kids why it’s important to learn how to communicate without emojis and text messaging. Give your kids an assignment like writing a note to their grandparents once a month or after receiving a gift.

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6 Mind-Blowing Tactical Products Every Guy Needs

Guys like gadgets, whether for fun or for self-preservation. And when tech combines with tactical, it’s just cool. These days, with natural disasters seemingly on the rise and the threat of worldwide terrorism growing, keeping tactical gadgets handy is more than cool. It might be a necessary precaution. What do you carry now? Will it help you in state of emergency? Here are six tactical gadgets engineered for guys who want to be prepared for every day…and for when the pressure is on.

1. Shadowhawk X800 Tactical Flashlight

If Jason Bourne could pick his flashlight, this would be it. It packs military-grade LED technology into an aircraft-grade-aluminum-skinned cylinder. And it throws an astounding amount of light. You might be thinking that you already have a flashlight. But do the U.S. Navy Seals and the U.S. Coast Guard use the kind of flashlight you have? The Shadowhawk X800 can illuminate a field or blanket a work area with 800 lumens of glorious light. It can also blind an attacker. Don’t let its light weight trick you into thinking it’s not durable. Throw it, drive over it—it’ll still work. Drop it in six feet of water—it’ll still work. This tough gadget is also versatile. It comes with a strobe setting if you are stranded and need to signal for help, and you can zoom and focus its LED beam to see far, far away. The 3 AAA batteries give it 1,000 hours of life. That makes it ideal for reliable, abundant light during a prolonged natural disaster or emergency…and for lots of everyday uses. This is standard gear if you want to be prepared.

2. TrackR Bravo

When you attach this coin-size, James Bond-style tracking device to an item, you have a 20,000-times chance of getting it back if you lose it. The accompanying app enlists the help of network TrackR users to locate your lost bag, bike or dog. Last count, there were over 20,000 strong in their Crowd GPS. Of course, you will probably be able to get your wallet or whatever back on your own. The TrackR app will display how far you are from the keys or case you dropped, and it will sound the alarm to help you pinpoint its exact location. If you realize you left your bag after you travel to another location, all other TrackR users in the network are notified, and when one passes your missing article, you’ll get an update sent to your phone. What if you can’t find your phone? Use TrackR to ring it, even if it’s on silent mode, and you’ll find your phone fast. TrackR helps you keep your stuff…especially if you’re a chronic (keys/wallet/bike/car/bag) misplacer.

3. Inferno Dual Beam Lighter

This is the baddest lighter on the market since ZIPPO set the bar for bad-ass lighters. It is engineered to make you look cool, and cool you will be wherever you break it out: bar, ball game, backpacking, hunting. In fact, it might be worth becoming a smoker just to use the lighter. (Don’t actually start smoking just to use the lighter.) Forget harmful butane, because that’s not its fuel. Pay no mind to rain because water does not affect it. Don’t worry about blocking the wind, because there is no flame to protect. Get that? There. Is. No. Flame. Just an electric current forming a hot X that ignites anything in its crosshairs. Tactical, practical and flat out cool. You recharge it via a USB and you ignite it by pressing a button. Keep it in your pocket for those times you need fire and want to look cool. Real cool.

4. TL900 LED Headlamp

This Tactical Headlamp is survival gear at its best. It blasts a massive 1000 lumen beam, enough to light a field, an emergency work area or a basement. With five settings, you can focus the beam to pinpoint targets at a distance of 500 meters! (That’s over 1640 feet…or 546 yards.) The design is the result of multiple attempts at perfection. It seems these guys have nailed it with a 90° pivoting spotlight and a completely water-resistant head unit. The beauty of this equipment, though, and what it makes it a top-tier tactical tool, is the hands-free capabilities it gives you. You never know into what situation you might be forced to work or search in the dark, and being able to freely use both hands could be the difference between success and failure…even in mundane use when there’s no pressure.

5. Shadowhawk Military Tactical Laser

Another great gadget to have. It’s fun, it’s useful, and it could save your life. Simply speaking, it can help you point to that thing way over there, even half a mile away. Speaking from a safety standpoint, a blast of this beam of light can blind a person. Not recommended for use on friends, but on a would-be attacker or an intruder into your home, your Shadowhawk Military Tactical Laser lets you get all Star Wars on him. ZAP, and he’s on the ground or holding his eyes, letting you go to work on him or just get away. It’s also good in the woods if you ever lose your way. The powerful beam will point Search and Rescue to your exact origin. And on nights when you’re not walking the streets or wandering in the woods, your dog will get a kick out of chasing the laser point on the living room floor.

6. Everstryke Pro

Let’s face it: besides shelter, water, and food, fire is what you’d crave if you were ever lost, stranded or washed up on desert island. (Or hunkered down in a prolonged state of emergency.) Whatever your survival situation, fire is vital. That’s one reason you have so many product options to obtain fire quickly, easily… and in style. The Everstryke Pro is one—a sleek little canister that delivers a flame up to 30,000 times! It’s waterproof, rain proof, sleet proof and snow proof, and it won’t leak lighter fluid. The O ring sees to that. This item can easily be carried around on your keychain or in your pocket. Its effectiveness and its size make it ideal for bug out bags as well.

BONUS PRODUCT: Firekable

This is required survival gear and tactical planning at its best. If you are heading to the woods or going camping, the Firekable is insurance on your wrist. Should you lose your way or find yourself in trouble, you will be very glad you have this incognito camou bracelet. It has lot of tricks up its, well, up its sleeve. For starters, you can use it to easily start a fire. All you need is kindling. The ferro rod and striker are fitted nicely into the bracelet. Pull it out, strike it, start a fire. It might take a few strikes and some getting used to, but it works. The actual paracord is mildew-resistant. However, the strands inside the paracord cannot be used individually, should you need to peel back the skin for extra lines. That’s unfortunate. But you do get 80 feet of functional cordage if you unwind the paracord. This is helpful and could save your life, even if you’re not in the woods. Its rugged look will get you compliments around the office even if coworkers are not aware of its hidden abilities.