Rise of the Machines: How you WILL become a pawn to the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook

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This is a glimpse into the not so distant future. In this video we not only show you what your future will look like, we show you how the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and future unknown actors will control you, whether you like it or not. Your every interaction with society will be recorded …

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How to Start a Food Stockpile on the Cheap

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As a homesteader, one of your strong points is, by far, the food you produce and stockpile. Should something major happen, you’ll be one of the “lucky” ones who will have food on your family’s table. But what if you’ll be unable to grow that food? Maybe a volcanic eruption will hinder your gardening endeavors. […]

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The APN forum is down until further notice

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I apologize to the members of our community that the APN forum is currently down until further notice. Due to both the outdated forum database and server we still have been unable to implement much needed updates to keep the forum secure and stable. Please be patient while we work to resolve the issues. We […]

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Sleeping Dry While Camping in the Rain

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Sleeping Dry While Camping in the Rain via Preparedness Advice

sleeping dry

Here you can see the ditch going around the tent.

It has been raining hard on and off for the last several days. This resulted in a discussion about sleeping dry while camping in the rain. It’s surprising how little even experienced campers know about the subject, especially if they have generally camped during great weather or in drier locations. For them, the extent of their knowledge and preparedness comes down to depending on their tent alone to keep them dry.

Unless you want to end up with your gear soaked with water, soggy food, and wearing wet clothes, socks, and boots, here’s what you should know about sleeping dry.

There’s more to selecting a campsite than just a pretty view. You need to know how to How to Select a Campsite and have an understanding of how to build a drainage ditch around a tent if you suspect rain is in the forecast.  Here are a few ideas to help you if you have to build a shelter in the rain and be sleeping dry even during a heavy downpour.

First, choose a high spot for your tent, and don’t pitch your tent in an indentation which will become a puddle if it rains. Make sure you have good drainage around your tent. Most newer tents are made tub-style, meaning the floor fabric comes up the wall several inches, even forming a lip at the door, with as few seams as possible.  They claim that this will prevent water from coming into your tent even if you are sitting in a shallow puddle.

When we had tents without floors, the old-school style of directing rain away from your tent was to dig a ditch all around it. They tell me that this is no longer an acceptable practice for environmental reasons, and due to the style and materials of modern tents, no longer necessary.

I seriously question this, and in any type of a real survival situation, if rain is a problem, I will dig a shallow ditch around my tent and drain the water off to the downhill side. In the past, this method was taught by both the military and the boy scouts and is time-proven.

Personally, I’ve experienced a soaking wet tent, and it’s no fun. We have a Base Camp tent from REI, and although the overall quality is excellent, in no way is it waterproof, even with the rainfly if there’s enough rain.

So, if sleeping dry is a priority and rain is on the way, here’s how you can dig a drainage ditch around your tent.

      • Dig the trench by cutting straight down just outside tent footprint. Do not dig in a V-shape. Slope the side away from the tent. Dig trench all around the tent 
      • Throw dirt from trench away from the tent; never throw it against the tent, for it will quickly rot the material.
      • In most cases, do not dig trench more than 4 or 5 inches deep and in the shallowest place not over 3 inches. There should be enough slope in the trench so that the water will flow freely toward the outlet and not back up.
      • To carry the water off, dig an outlet at the lowest point of the area and connect it to the trench which has been dug around the lent.
      • When there is a possibility that the water may flow in from higher ground, dig a ditch to divert the water before it can reach the tent
sleeping dry in a tent

Here you can see a cross-section of the ditch

Whether you are using a tent, tarp or another improvised shelter, if possible always point the opening downhill. If you live in an area that is subject to heavy rains and plan to camp out, have good tents and extra tarps.

If you look at the homeless camps during wet weather, most tents will have a tarp over them and often under them. If you put a tarp under your tent, be sure you fold the ends underneath so nothing is sticking out. If any part of the tarp is sticking out, it will funnel the water underneath your tent.

If you don’t have a sleeping pad or something to raise your sleeping bag off the ground, cut some brush or dry grass if it is available and put some padding between you and the ground.

If you live in an area that is subject to rainy weather, go camping in the rain. Try different types of shelters and see what works for you. Not too many years ago I went camping and used my old tent and a friend with me used his brand new 400 dollar tent. Guess which one leaked? The new one. Sleeping dry requires practice. Be sure and test your gear.

 

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Conversion Chart for Powdered Milk

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Conversion Chart for Powdered Milk via Preparedness Advice

Powdered milk is a basic part of most people’s food storage pantries. I recommend trying a few different types and brands of this product before investing in large quantities.

Use this conversion chart to use powdered milk in any recipe calling for milk. Add the dry powdered milk to your dry ingredients and water to your wet ingredients.

  • 1 Cup Milk = 1 Cup Water + 3 Tablespoons Powdered Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Milk = 3/4 Cup Water + 2 1/4 Tablespoons Powdered Milk
  • 2/3 Cup Milk = 2/3 Cup Water + 2 Tablespoons Powdered Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Milk = 1/2 Cup Water + 1 1/2 Tablespoons Powdered Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Milk = 1/3 Cup Water + 1 Tablespoon Powdered Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Milk = 1/4 Cup Water + 3/4 Tablespoon Powdered Milk

Get a printable version of this chart here.

Delicious Powdered Milk Recipe
When making 1 gallon add ½ cups sugar (or more, to taste) and up to 1 teaspoon vanilla to taste. Mix well, chill, and then serve.

Powdered Milk in different ways…

Make your own Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 oz. can)
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup dry powdered milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Blend VERY WELL in blender.

Make your own Evaporated Milk (12 oz. Can)
1-1/2 cup water
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon dry powdered milk
Blend VERY WELL in blender.

Make your own Buttermilk
Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Buttermilk can make a good recipe even better. Here’s an article that explains how to use more buttermilk in your recipes.

Two types of powdered milk to consider are powdered whole milk (doesn’t have the same lengthy shelf life as non-fat, but if you have babies or toddlers in the household, you may want this) and hormone free powdered milk. This isn’t easy to find but for certain special diets, it’s something to stock up on.

By the way, another related product you may not know about is powdered heavy cream. This can really come in handy for making homemade coffee creamers or adding to recipes when you don’t have fresh cream.

Want to learn more about powdered milk? Check out this detailed tutorial and this article gives more information about why you should store powdered milk in your food storage pantry and suggestions for how much to store.

pc-iceberg

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Small DIY Solar Systems are Easy to Make

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small solar systemA small solar system designed to power lights and possibly your refrigerator for an emergency is easy to build.  It is something that you can do yourself without a lot of training.

If you have read this post, you know how to figure out how many panels and batteries you need. You can use either new or used solar panels.

To build your small solar system you will need

  • Solar panels — make sure they are matching panels, same size same manufacturer. You can mix some panels but it takes a bit of expertise to get this right.
  • Controller — make sure the controller you get will handle the voltage put out by your panels and it needs to protect your batteries by keeping them from being overcharged. Not all controllers do this.
  • Inverter — your inverter needs to be big enough to handle the draw you intend to place on it.
  • Storage batteries — get good quality deep cycle batteries.
  • Miscellaneous wiring — make sure the wiring will handle the current draw.

Get good quality components; go to a good reputable supplier like sierrasolar.com.  They are a good source of reliable information.

Now that you have all the parts, it is fairly simple to put it together, assuming you have some minimal electrical skills.

small solar panel

Here you can see the wiring on a solar wagon. This shows the batteries and the inverter.

Once you have your panels, determine where you want to place them.  They need good sun exposure for as many hours as possible.  One option that I have seen is to build a solar wagon, An Easy to Make Solar Wagon.  You can build a unit that is portable and you can move to make the best use of the sun.  A wagon can carry enough panels to supply lights and run a refrigerator.

With a small solar system, it is best to connect the panels in series.  This means you attach the positive leads to the negative leads.  Two 12-volt panels will produce 24 volts.  So for each panel, you add your voltage increases.  This is different from a large system where you may have strings of panels in series and the strings then connected in parallel.

Next, attach the leads from the solar panels to the controller.  Then run your wires from the solar panels to the batteries.  The batteries should be wired in parallel.  Your jumpers between the batteries and to the inverter should be out of 2 AWG cable for up to 100 amps.  For 200 amps you should use 3/0 copper.

small solar system

This shows the panels connected in series, the controller and the batteries

small solar system

This is how you wire your batteries in parallel

The inverter should be connected to the batteries.  In mine, I would put a box with at least two 15-amp breakers between the inverter and the appliances.  This is not mandatory but is a good safety feature.

There are several ways to build these small solar systems, some are more complicated than others.  This one is about as simple as you can make. Have fun.

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Six Survival Weapons you need in your Arsenal

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Choosing a weapon, and accessories is always going to be dependent on what they are being used for. For instance, you might be looking for an easy to use pistol for home protection, or the best red dot sight, to help make hunting trips more successful. It’s no different with survivalism; you need to make […]

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How Big Data will make your world unrecognizable

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It is tough to comprehend how something you can’t see or touch is going to existentially change the human race.  From the way you interact with the world, to economics and politics, big data is going to change your understanding of reality.  Technologies like cloud computing, the internet of things, big data, and fast data …

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Seven Problems Older Preppers Face

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Seven Problems that Older Preppers Face via Preparedness Advice

The older I get the more I see problems that older preppers face. Since prepping hit the mainstream back in 2008-09, we all have a good 8-9 years under our belts. My own kids were just 8 and 6 when my wife and I started prepping, and now our oldest is making college plans. Time flies.

I know you all plan to be that rare exception that is still able to walk long distances in your 90’s and not taking any medication. If that happens, then good for you! You were blessed with some amazing genes. Unfortunately, that will likely not be the case for most people, even the most devout prepper. Most of us end up facing some type of serious limiting medical problems. Many are dependent on medications, have mobility problems or cognitive problems, even after living a healthy lifestyle for decades. You may be the rare exception but you don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

So what are some of the problems older preppers face?

  1. Medications — this is a big one. Extra prescription medications are hard to get already. I know people who are on medication that keeps them alive. Without those drugs, they would be dead within a few days. Here are some ideas that may help you stock up on important medications.  15 Over the Counter Medications Preppers need to Stock , So You Need Prescription Medications,  More on, So You Need Prescription Medications

    problems that older preppers face

    These will no longer be available

  1. Mobility — While I have not had any mobility problems yet, it seems like many of the people around me are. Last year we discovered that my fairly young wife had degenerative arthritis in her hip joint and required a total hip replacement. Suddenly, she was having to use a walker to get around the house, and I realized the importance of having access to things like walkers, crutches, canes, and wheelchairs. They are often in garage sales, very cheap, and can be stored in the attic or an outbuilding as they don’t necessarily need to be protected from the elements.
  1. Cognitive Challenges — Aging results in normal changes in cognition. Three specific changes occur: reduced processing speed, greater tendency to be distracted and reduced capacity to process and remember new information (working memory). Many of us have seen this happen with grandparents and older parents. You may have to write notes to remind them of things and just, in general, be more patient.
  1. Visual Challenges — Many older adults have problems with vision. About 2/3 of adults with vision problems are older than 65. Make sure you keep your eyeglasses up to date and have extra pairs. You have cataracts, get them fixed at your first opportunity as the surgery will be covered by insurance and Medicare. My wife depends on reading glasses and she has stocked up on at least a dozen extra pairs.
  1. Hearing Challenges – Hearing loss is common in older adults, affecting 1 in 3 people older than 60 and half of those older than 85. This is a hard one to prepare for, long-term, as hearing aids will be useless without batteries. By all means, stock up on as many batteries as you can and store them in their original packaging at room temperature. When you communicate with hard of hearing people, face them directly when talking to them. Speak loudly and clearly. I have hearing problems, and if someone is not facing me, it is much harder to understand them.
  1. Bed supplies – You may need oversize diapers, rubber sheets, bedpans, and porta potties to assist someone who is unable to make bathroom trips on their own. This would be a good time to stock up on hospital quality cleaning supplies, like these handy wipes and nitrile gloves.
  1. Over the counter medications – Here is a list of 15 Over the Counter Medications Preppers need to Stock. This is a list that everyone should have regardless of your age.

Our partner site, The Survival Mom, has an excellent article with more suggestions for preparing for old age as preppers or for caring for aging loved ones. You can read that article at this link.

The problems that older preppers face can be quite serious. For instance, what do you do with your parents who are in a nursing home and require 24-hour care? Homecare nursing is something to learn and prepare for. These are decisions that are best made ahead of time. You may even consider asking them what they would want you to do.

Remember you can’t stock everything for every contingency, just do the best you can, but plan ahead, if not for yourself then for aging parents and other loved ones.

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Protecting Your Home or Camp with Early Warning Systems, Part 1

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early warning sytems

A good dog can be both an early warning system and a deterrent.

In a real emergency, it doesn’t matter whether you are bugging in or out, you may need to be warned of intruders.  Today many of us sit at home with the doors locked, window closed and air conditioning keeping the temperature under control.  After a disaster, we may have to keep all our window open, to try to stay cool.  This eliminates some of the security we normally have.  If you have people, who are trying to take advantage of the situation by looting you may need to rig up some early warning systems.

Fortunately there are many simple ways to give you early warning of intruders.  Dogs are great, one of the best early warning systems.  Often smaller dogs are more alert and will be quicker to bark.  Get your dog ahead of time and get to understand your dog’s reactions.  With a bit of training your dog can be a very effective early warning system.  In addition, depending on the type of dog they can discourage prowlers.

One of the simplest early warning systems is to set up tripwires.  Tripwire systems are very simple to put up and use.  You just have to be sure that the tripwires blend in well with the surrounding.  Some types of fishing lines works well, you can get fishing line in different colors.

early warning systems

Fishing line should blend in.

These can be used at your home, bugout location or in a campsite.  They can be as simple as a tin can hanging on a line with rocks in it and trip wires.  Because my hearing is not very good, I recommend cowbells.  You can often find them in thrift stores or garage sales and they make lots of noise.  I recently saw cowbells on sale at a local feed store for $2 each.  Depending on the size of the cowbells, they can be quite loud and may scare someone off.  Just remember if you have one tripped you need to make changes to your layout, they may come back.

Using YoYo fishing traps for early warning systems.

They are a spring-loaded wheel with approximately 12 ft of 60 lb test line with a swivel on the end.  For most uses, you tie the reel to a tree or other solid anchor point.  You then stretch out the line, which turns the wheel compressing the spring.  When you get as much line as you want out, there is a small latch that you place in one of the notches in the wheel.  When the line is disturbed, it trips the latch and the spring-loaded wheel reels in the fish.  You would normally add more line to the trap.

early warning systems

YoYo fishing reels or traps

However, they have an alternate use.  They will work well as early warning systems.  Simply take a can full of rocks and stretch the string across the area you wish to protect.  Set the string at ankle height so that any disturbance will trigger the YoYo fishing reel. You can add fishing line to lengthen the string.  When the YoYo fishing reel retracts, it will cause the can to fall or shake, warning you that someone is in the area.  There are many other ways that you can use this to trigger a warning, even using it to trigger electronic devices.

ealry warning system

A jar hanging from a door knob

Another simple alarm that can be used in your home or even a motel room is to put an empty glass jar upside down on your doorknob.  This will fall (and make a loud noise, except on carpet) should someone turn the doorknob. (Warning- the bottle can break leaving glass fragments on the floor).  A soda can filled with loose change balanced on the doorknob will make a lot of noise if someone attempts to enter.  Windows also easy to trap with cans of change or jars.

You will notice that these are all noise making devices; I am not recommending any devices that can cause bodily harm. These are just a few of the many possible ways you can rig early warning systems to help protect you from intruders.  Today we have just discussed low tech methods, in the future we will post an article on higher tech methods.

Howard

pc-iceberg

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Free Manuals: Military Manuals & Books About Knot-Tying

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Here are some free downloads of various books on knots and military manuals that you may find useful. You may want to consider downloading them to an older laptop and sticking it in a Faraday Bag. This will let you keep them handy, even in a worst-case scenario, without the expense of printing them.

Knot-tying

Essential Fishing Knots

Pioneering Knots and Lashings

Ropes-Knots-Ladders-Lashings-Anchorages

Knots, Splices, Attachments and Ladders

Knots, Splices and Rope Work

Knots-for-Mountaineering-Camping-Climbing-Utility-Rescue-Etc

Free military manuals

Arctic SubArctic SurvivalB-GL-323-003-FP-001

Basic Food Preparation

Canadian Military Field Craft

Marine Land Navigation

Mountain Operations FM3976

Pressure Points Military Hand to Hand Combat Guide

TC 31 – Special Forces Caching Techniques 

Terrain Analysis

Topographic Operations

US Army fm31 70 Basic Cold Weather Manual

US Army Combatives hand to hand combat FM-325-150

US Army Field Manual FM 3-19.15, Civil Disturbance Operations 

US Army Map Reading and Land Navigation

Army stp21-1 Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Skills Level 1

US Army stp21-24 Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Skills Level-2-3-and-4

US Marine Corps Hand to Hand Combat

US Marine Corp Pistol Markmanship

pc-iceberg

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Survival Communities make great sense, but are difficult to operate. Fortitude Ranch provides an approach to make them feasible.

We all know that pooling resources and getting the cooperation of a large number of people provides the best means of surviving a major disaster that leads to a halt in economic activity or loss of law and order. Unfortunately, trying to get people to agree on policies, leadership, and how much everyone should invest […]

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Survival Communities make great sense, but are difficult to operate. Fortitude Ranch provides an approach to make them feasible.

Click here to view the original post.

We all know that pooling resources and getting the cooperation of a large number of people provides the best means of surviving a major disaster that leads to a halt in economic activity or loss of law and order. Unfortunately, trying to get people to agree on policies, leadership, and how much everyone should invest […]

The post Survival Communities make great sense, but are difficult to operate. Fortitude Ranch provides an approach to make them feasible. appeared first on American Preppers Network.

How to Make Bannock Bread

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As my wife will verify, I do a lot of things in the kitchen, but baking is not normally one of them. Well yesterday, I felt like baking some fresh bread so I decided to make some bannock. Learning how to make bannock has been on my list of things to learn for a while.

How to Make Bannock Bread

Bannock seems to have originated in Scotland, but it became very popular in the wilds of Canada and the American West. It is easy to make and does not even require a pan to cook it. Kids would enjoy learning how to make Bannock bread, as it can be cooked directly on the hot coals.

I cheated a bit and made mine in the kitchen on the stove.  It is an easy way to have hot fresh bread in under thirty minutes. You’ll need the following ingredients.

  • 2 cups of flour (white or wheat) I used one of each.
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder, I used one without aluminum in it.
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • Enough water to mix into stiff dough.
how to make bannock bread

The uncooked patty in the pan

Throw the ingredients into a bowl and mix; you want the dough stiff enough to stick together. The dough was formed into a large patty between 1 and 2 inches thick.  I then threw it in a cast iron frying pan that I had heated some oil in. The dough cooked on one side until I could flip it like a pancake. The backside was then cooked until I could stick a fork in it and it came out clean.  The bread was hot, fresh and delicious.

The bannock may have a few burned spots on the exterior by the time it is cooked, but it will be good on the interior. Now the same recipe can be used outdoors without a pan. Just lay your bread patty directly on the hot coals. When the bottom is done, flip it. When the bread is finished brush the ashes off and enjoy.

how to make bannock bread

The finished bannock ready to come out of pan.

You can make variations of this bread by adding raisins or other dried fruits. Bannock bread cooks fast and requires less fuel than other forms. The pioneers knew how to cook Bannock bread and now you do, too! Enjoy!

Howard

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Ultralight doesn’t have to be Expensive

Many people mistakenly believe going ultralight is expensive. While it can be, more often than not it is less expensive than your non-ultralight counterparts.

Here are some quick action steps you can do today to lighten your pack as well as saving you some money before you make the decision to buy.

The first obvious thing you can do is get rid of things.

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Ultralight doesn’t have to be Expensive

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Many people mistakenly believe going ultralight is expensive. While it can be, more often than not it is less expensive than your non-ultralight counterparts.

Here are some quick action steps you can do today to lighten your pack as well as saving you some money before you make the decision to buy.

The first obvious thing you can do is get rid of things.

The post Ultralight doesn’t have to be Expensive appeared first on outdoor self reliance.

Cooking & Eating Wild Mustard

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wild mustardLearn about the plants in your area. I live in Northern California and every spring you see acres of yellow flowers.  Most people ignore them, but a few know that you are looking at wild mustard.  They are good to eat and you can make mustard from them.

Some people eat the flowering tops just before they open.  They are cooked like broccoli.  My wife was raised eating the leaves.  The tender young leaves are used for cooked greens or in salads.

To Cook, wash the greens well and cook in salted water. Wild mustard can be somewhat sharp when raw and somewhat bitter when cooked. Blanching it or boiling it in water for a few minutes will remove the bitterness (the longer you boil the less bitter it’ll be).   It can be used like spinach in any recipe.

The seeds are black and can be used to make mustard.  They can also be used in pickling. We are going to experiment with making mustard and will post the recipe in the future.

Chickens and the rabbits love the dried stalks as a treat in the spring and summer.

Wild Mustard grows in most of the U.S. You will see it in the spring to early summer.

Mustard plants are most easily identified by their small and plentiful yellow flowers, growing in clusters atop a long stem.  If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that each of the flowers has four small yellow petals, and they’re in a cluster

If you have any doubts as to the identity of the plants I recommend you review the video at the following link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXqYbWMBzqM

A good rule in foraging for wild plants is to always find a local expert to learn from, there are lots of poisonous plants out there.

Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooking & Eating Wild Mustard

wild mustardLearn about the plants in your area. I live in Northern California and every spring you see acres of yellow flowers.  Most people ignore them, but a few know that you are looking at wild mustard.  They are good to eat and you can make mustard from them.

Some people eat the flowering tops just before they open.  They are cooked like broccoli.  My wife was raised eating the leaves.  The tender young leaves are used for cooked greens or in salads.

To Cook, wash the greens well and cook in salted water. Wild mustard can be somewhat sharp when raw and somewhat bitter when cooked. Blanching it or boiling it in water for a few minutes will remove the bitterness (the longer you boil the less bitter it’ll be).   It can be used like spinach in any recipe.

The seeds are black and can be used to make mustard.  They can also be used in pickling. We are going to experiment with making mustard and will post the recipe in the future.

Chickens and the rabbits love the dried stalks as a treat in the spring and summer.

Wild Mustard grows in most of the U.S. You will see it in the spring to early summer.

Mustard plants are most easily identified by their small and plentiful yellow flowers, growing in clusters atop a long stem.  If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that each of the flowers has four small yellow petals, and they’re in a cluster

If you have any doubts as to the identity of the plants I recommend you review the video at the following link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXqYbWMBzqM

A good rule in foraging for wild plants is to always find a local expert to learn from, there are lots of poisonous plants out there.

Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Shelf Life of Dry Sausages

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dry sausages

Notice all the non refrigerated meats hanging up.

There is a deli not to far from me that stocks nice Italian style dry sausages.  They look and taste delicious.  I have noticed that he always has them hanging up without refrigeration.  I have not been able to get a straight answer as to how long the sausage will store.  But I have talked to people who claim it will store for several years.

Now dry sausage has been used for thousands of years as a way to preserve meat.  The problem is that we don’t always know what changes have been made in the recipes in the name of quicker and easier production.  Many of our food processers have modified their recipes so that the sausages have shorter shelf lives.

I have been doing some research on this subject but have not come up with anything firm that I am willing to bet my family on.  The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) puts out the following information.
“Dry and semi-dry sausages are possibly the largest category of dried meats, particularly in the United States. These products can be fermented by bacterial growth for preservation and to produce the typical tangy flavor. Alternatively, they may be cultured with lactic acid — much as cheese, pickle, and yogurt makers do — to eliminate the fermentation phase and shorten the process. They are, with a few exceptions, cooked.

Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of preserving meats. Dry sausages — such as pepperoni, and semi-dry sausages such as Lebanon bologna and summer sausage, have had a good safety record for hundreds of years.

In this procedure, a mixture of curing ingredients, such as salt and sodium nitrite, and a “starter” culture of lactic acid-bacteria, is mixed with chopped and ground meat, placed in casings, fermented and then dried by a carefully controlled, long, continuous air-drying process. The amount of acid produced during fermentation and the lack of moisture in the finished product after drying typically have been shown to cause pathogenic bacteria to die.

Dry sausages require more time to make than other types of sausages and are a more concentrated form of meat. Dried sausages range from 60% to 80% of their original weight before drying.

Semi-dry sausages are usually heated in the smokehouse to fully cook the product and partially dry it. Semi-dry sausages are semi-soft sausages with good keeping qualities due to their lactic acid fermentation and sometimes heavy application of smoke. Some are mildly seasoned and some are quite spicy and strongly flavored.

What are examples of dry and semi-dry sausages?
Dry sausages include:

  • Sopressata (a name of a salami)
  • pepperoni (not cooked, air dried)
  • Genoa Salami (Italian, usually made from pork but may have a small amount of beef; it is moistened with wine or grape juice and seasoned with garlic
  • Semi-dry sausages include:
  • summer sausage
  • Lebanon bologna
  • Cervelat
  • Thuringer

Are any Sausages Shelf Stable?
Some dry sausages are shelf stable (in other words, they do not need to be refrigerated or frozen to be stored safely). Dry sausages require more production time than other types of sausage and result in a concentrated form of meat. If the product is shelf stable and ready to eat, the product is not required to have a safe handling statement, cooking directions or a “Keep Refrigerated” statement. (this is an indicator to watch for, Howard)

Should people “At Risk” eat dry sausages?

Because dry sausages are not cooked, people “at risk” (older adults, very young children, pregnant women and those with immune systems weakened by disease or organ transplants) might want to avoid eating them. The bacterium E. coli O157:H7 can survive the process of dry fermenting, and in 1994, some children became ill after eating dry cured salami containing the bacteria.

After the outbreak, FSIS developed specific processing rules for making dry sausages that must be followed or the product must be heat treated. These products are included in the FSIS microbial sampling program for E. coli O157:H7, and in 1997, FSIS began to test fermented sausages for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Dates on Packaged Sausages
Although dating is a voluntary program and not required by the Federal government, if a date is used it must state what the date means. The product can be used after the date, provided it was stored safely.

“Sell By” date – tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.

“Best if Used By” date – date by which product should be used for best flavor and quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

“Use-By” date – the last date recommended for use of the product while at peak quality.”

FSIS says that whole hard/dry sausages may be stored 6 weeks in your pantry and indefinitely in the refrigerator.  After opening, they should be used in 3 weeks even if stored in the refrigerator.

Now I am looking for more and better information on this subject.  Do any of you have information or experience with storing dry sausages?  If so would you be willing to share the information with us?

Howard

pc-iceberg

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Sugardine, a Great Homemade Antiseptic

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sugardineI try to put up a new post every day, but occasionally there are posts that I think are important enough to be repeated. This post on sugardine is a good example.  It is something that everyone should know and due to the turnover of readers, many of you may not have seen it.  Sugardine is easy to make and most of us already have sugar in our storage.

For thousands of years people have survived without the use of antibiotics.  Many early treatments for infected wounds involved honey.  Both the Smith Papyrus of 1700 B.C. and the Ebers Papyrus of 1500 B.C. describe the treatment of severe wounds and burns with coagulated milk and honey held in place by a muslin bandage.  Later granulated sugar was used to treat sores in both horse and humans.  Today a mixture known as sugardine in widely used to treat sores and wounds on horses.  It has proved to be effective and is inexpensive.

Sugar by itself has been used and shown to be effective in the  treatment for infected wounds.

sugardineBut sugardine, a mixture of iodine and sugar has proved to be more effective.  The American Farriers Journal Special Management Report #1…Using Sugar To Treat Those Nasty Wounds stated the following.  “One study was done over a 5-year period in which 605 human patients were treated exclusively with sugardine. In nearly all cases, these patients (whose injuries included ulcers, cat scratches and gunshot wounds) healed more rapidly with sugardine than any alternative method of treatment”.  This is a link to information on the study.

You can purchase various sugardine mixtures at many places that sell medications for horses and other animals or you make it yourself.

Ingredients for sugardine.

  • Table Sugar
  • 10% povidone iodine (or the more expensive but easier to find betadine)

Procedure:

  1. Mix one part 10% povidone iodine to two parts white sugar.

Add more or less sugar to make it the consistency of thick honey or peanut butter.

Put the sugardine in a container with a tight fitting lid.  The mixture will need stirring now and then but it will never go bad.

It is my understanding that with a large open wound you pack it with sugardine and then bandage it.  Please understand that I am not a Doctor and have had no specialized medical training.  Any suggestion I have made in this post are only for a situation in which modern medicine is not longer available.

I remember when I was child, whenever you got a cut or scrape your parents treated it with an antiseptic.  Today I no longer see it emphasized as much.  But as soon as the antibiotics go in short supply, people will need to go back to this practice.  So be sure to stock up on antiseptics.

Howard

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The Versatile Stinging Nettle Plant

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Stinging nettles grow throughout most of the United States. They are common and easy to identify and pick as long as you wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants and have a good pair of gloves. Of course a good quality, authoritative book on foraging like this one goes a long way to insure you’e picking the right plant.

How to use stinging nettles as an edible

This edible plant has a flavor similar to spinach when cooked, and they are well worth harvesting when you can as they are rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Native Americans harvested stinging nettles and used them as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce. Depending on where you live, you might also find them as early as January.

The stinging chemicals from the plant can be removed if you soak them in water or cook them. This allows the plant to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging. After stinging nettles enter their flowering and seed setting stages, the leaves develop gritty particles, which can irritate the urinary tract.

At its peak season, the stinging nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable. The young leaves are edible and make a very good pot herb. The leaves can also be dried and be used to make an herbal tea or used in stews and soups. Nettle soup is a common use of the plant in parts of Europe.

Using stinging nettle for medicinal purposes

The stinging nettle has many medicinal properties. Rather than collecting the plant, drying it, and then using it for medicinal purposes, I highly recommend buying it in capsule form in order to know exactly how much you are taking.

Some of the ways it may help with health issues are:

  • Blood purifier and diuretic.
  • Primary use has been for allergies (usually taken in capsule form).
  • Used for urinary problems and rheumatic problems.
  • Used for anemia, arthritis, food or pollen allergies, head and chest colds, relief of asthma and bronchial cough, hay fever, and prostratitis.
  • The tea with honey and lemon is used as a stimulant.
  • Increases flow of milk in nursing mothers.
  • Makes an astringent gargle for sore throats and mouthwash for bleeding gums.
  • Tea used as a rinse for dandruff.
  • Joint pain — My mother-in-law swears by it.

The following information is from WEB MD it shows the interaction with prescription medicines.

Lithium interacts with STINGING NETTLE

Stinging nettle might have an effect like a water pill or “diuretic.” Taking stinging nettle might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with stinging nettle

Stinging nettle above ground parts might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking stinging nettle along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with stinging nettle

Stinging nettle above ground parts seem to decrease blood pressure. Taking stinging nettle along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with stinging nettle

Large amounts of stinging nettle above ground parts might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking stinging nettle along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with stinging nettle

Stinging nettle above ground parts contain large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, stinging nettle might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

As with any plant be sure of its identity before you use it. Herbal remedies can interact with pharmaceutical medications and you should advise your doctor if you include these remedies in your daily routine.

 

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The Many Uses of Borax

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Sodium tetraborate decahydrate, commonly known as borax, is a natural mineral made of sodium, boron, oxygen and water, and is a good thing to have in your storage. It has many uses in your home, and if kept in a dry location, the shelf life of borax is virtually unlimited.

Borax and pest control

  • Keep roaches, waterbugs, and ants away by sprinkling a combination of equal parts all-natural borax and sugar.
  • Keep the mice out by sprinkling borax on the floor along the wall.
  • Kill fleas by sprinkling borax on your carpet.  Leave it for an hour and vacuum it up thoroughly.
  • Combine cornmeal with borax. Pour into shallow dishes and place them in areas where pests are a problem.

General uses for borax

  • Make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing 2 tablespoons borax and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle.
  • You can remove oxidation from metals with borax. The ingredient is also used as a flux in welding.
  • As a laundry detergent, add one cup of borax to each load and significantly boost your cleaning power.
  • Make your own dishwasher detergent by mixing 1 tablespoons borax and 1 tablespoons baking soda.
  • For removing urine odors from a mattress, wet the mattress rub in borax with a damp cloth. Let dry, then vacuum up the remaining residue.
  • Just 1/2 cup of borax poured down drains will help unclog them.
  • Pour 1 cup of borax into toilet bowls at night and in the morning, scrub bowl with a toilet brush.
  • A paste of water and borax can scrub away sticky residue from adhesives.

Borax for homemade candle wicks

This is an unusual application of borax but will help homemade candles produce less ash and smoke.

  • Dissolve 2 tbsp. table salt and 4 tbsp. borax in 1 1/2 c. warm water.
  • Soak a 1-foot length of regular cotton kite string or twine in the solution for 15 minutes.
  • Hang the string with a clothespin for five days to be sure it is completely dry.
  • Use a paper clip to dip the string in melted wax three or four times, coating it completely. Hang it up to dry as before.
  • Store wicks rolled up in a newspaper.

Is borax toxic?

Safety Source for Pest Management states the following regarding uses and toxicity.

“While exposure to boric acid has been linked to adverse health effects, experts agree that careful application offers a safe and effective alternative without the indoor air problems associated with sprays. Boron is a naturally-occurring element in the earth’s crust and background levels even circulate in the human bloodstream. Boric acid’s exposure risks are minimal because of its method of application.

However, while boric acid has become one of the chemicals of choice for many urban pest control programs, it can be toxic. EPA considers boric acid as a moderately acutely toxic due to acute effects including oral and dermal toxicity, and eye and skin irritation. EPA’s reregistration document states that a subchronic borax feeding study using dogs resulted in blood and metabolism disorders as well as effects to the testes, endocrine system, brain weight, and size ratios among various organs and glands. In chronic oncogenicity studies using mice, rats and beagle dogs, boric acid and borax were found not to be carcinogenic; however, testicular effects and decreases in body weight resulted at high dose levels. EPA has classified boric acid as a “Group E” carcinogen, indicating that it shows “evidence of noncarcinogenicity” for humans. In reproductive and developmental toxicity studies using rats, mice and rabbits, maternal liver and kidney effects and decreased weight gain as well as decreased fetal body weights were observed. In two studies, at the highest dose levels, no litters were produced. Prenatal mortality occurred at the highest dose levels in the rabbit study. Boric acid does not cause mutagenicity (U.S. EPA 1993).”

This is a good item to keep in your storage, just use some common sense. It is inexpensive and readily available in most grocery stores. You’ll find it in the laundry soap aisle.

pc-iceberg

 

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How to Choose a Good Campsite As a Bug Out Location

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It seems that these days the internet is filled with articles about bugging out. It sounds like many of you have decided that this is a better cause of action than bugging in. That very well may be the best choice for you. The question remains, though, if you are planning on bugging out, even as a last resort, where are you bugging out to? Do you have a bug out location that is stocked and ready or are you going to be one of many looking for a semi-permanent campsite?

If you are among the group that will be looking for a campsite, here are some suggestions that may help you.

  • Avoid privately owned land, if possible. National and State parks, forests and wildlife refuges are all possibilities. The park rangers will probably be home taking care of their families in a dire scenario. This also means there won’t be any law enforcement, so choose your location carefully.
  • Get out of sight of roads, railroad tracks, and other areas where people are likely to be traveling. A very detailed map of the area, including topography, will help you identify spots that are far enough away from highly trafficked areas and yet be accessible for everyone in the group or family, including children.
  • Keep any fires that you have to start small or better yet use a Dakota fire hole. Be aware of giving away your position not just by a campfire but also sounds and smells. Begin now to learn about noise discipline. Also think about how you’ll prepare food without tell-tale scents giving away your position. (A Sun Oven, in particular, is one cooking device that is tightly sealed and does a good job of keeping cooking smells confined. Once the oven is opened, however, and your food is finished, all bets are off.)
  • Defensibility — The campsite should be surrounded by natural obstacles, limiting access. High ground is preferable, for visibility. However, visibility works both ways. Don’t get silhouetted. Once you’ve found a spot that works for you, you can always add “man made” obstacles, such as large boulders, felled trees, and the like. After a rainstorm or two, they will very likely blend in with everything else and the man-made aspect won’t be obvious.
  • Think wildfire. Always take this into consideration during fire season. Make sure you have a way to evacuate, if needed. This puts you in a dilemma — do you stake your campsite far from any human contact and, thus, limit virtually any evacuation route or stay nearer to civilization in case the worst happens? It will have to be your call and could also depend on the season and current weather conditions.
  • Stay out of low-lying, green, grassy areas. These will collect water if it rains and the ground may be damp, although they may appear at first to be an idyllic location. You will also be easy to spot. However, camping near one of these meadows may be helpful when hunting wildlife, since they provide grazing areas for deer, rabbits, and other mammals.
  • Camp uphill from streams or rivers. This will protect you from flash floods and sudden rises in water levels created by releases from dams. Keep in mind that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, and you’ll need at least one gallon per day for each person in your group. For me, access to a reliable and convenient water source trumps just about everything else on this list.
  • Look for protection from wind and storms.
  • Check the site for poisonous plants, dangers of falling rocks, overhanging branches and animals, and teach your kids and grandkids what to avoid.
  • Stay back from standing water to avoid insects pests like mosquitoes. Stocking up on mosquito pellets and mosquito netting would be a wise move.
  • Look for a flat place for your bed and campfire.
  • Is there a good source of firewood and kindling?
  • Check for food sources: edible plants, animals, fish.
  • Check for the availability of good water, but don’t be too close. Water will attract people, bugs and wildlife. Be aware that others, once finding a water source, my decide to camp there as well.
  • In the winter, it will be colder in the bottom of ravines and valley or near low-lying rivers. Camping 20 – 30 feet higher can make the difference of several degrees.
  • If your gear is in bright colors make sure there is enough brush and grass around to camouflage them, but if you have the choice, from now on only buy gear that will blend in.
  • Keep your cooking area separate from your sleeping area. Odors will attract wildlife and possibly people.

People can walk right by a well hidden campsite.

Now I have given you a list of all the best options for choosing a campsite for a (temporary) bug out location. If you have to hide from people, you may have to make some hard choices and break many of these rules. Personally, I will bug in until it becomes more dangerous to stay than to leave.  The roads will be a rough place. For me setting up a semi permanent or permanent campsite is one of my last options. Keep in mind, that as members of your group/family age, you’ll have other issues to take into consideration.

 

 

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How to Choose the Right Backpack

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Backpacking season is in full swing, with many folks being on the trail since March and April, en route to completing their thru-hikes. Some of these folks are seasoned hiking veterans and have dialed in their packs for maximum carry efficiency and load, while others are learning along the way, tweaking and changing as they go along. A few things to keep in mind before buying your pack will help prevent you from tweaking, changing, and wasting money on a pack which is ill fitting and painful to carry.

Choose your gear before you choose your pack.

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Hike Your Own Hike

After last week’s gear shakedown, I knew I would have to hike my own hike. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the hiking and backpacking community, you’ll have undoubtedly heard the phrase “hike your own hike.” It basically means keep your nose out other people’s business and worry about your own.

We’d been planning this shakedown for a couple of weeks. It was our chance to gauge what did and didn’t work. Walking twelve miles, half going uphill, seemed like a great way to test us and our load out.

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Hike Your Own Hike

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After last week’s gear shakedown, I knew I would have to hike my own hike. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the hiking and backpacking community, you’ll have undoubtedly heard the phrase “hike your own hike.” It basically means keep your nose out other people’s business and worry about your own.

We’d been planning this shakedown for a couple of weeks. It was our chance to gauge what did and didn’t work. Walking twelve miles, half going uphill, seemed like a great way to test us and our load out.

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4s Approach to Clothing for Hiking and Backpacking

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Clothing and Layering systems for outdoor adventures have been discussed ad nauseum. Rightly so, it is a first defense essential against heat and cold exposure. No matter how many times it is discussed, it still seems to confuse people.

Your clothing’s primary function is to keep you warm, dry, and offer protection from the sun. Their secondary function are to protect you from insects and small scrapes. There is a delicate balance which must be observed when deciding on your clothing. Putting on a heavy jacket while covering miles on a hiking trip, while keeping you toasty, can cause you to perspire making you wet from the inside which ultimately works against you.

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A Hike to Say Thank You for Your Service

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When my daughter deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year, I knew I had to do something in support of her service. It had to be something meaningful to her and me, something special.

She was only seventeen and still in high school when she decided to serve her country. She would leave for basic training two months after graduating high school and then graduate basic training on her eighteenth birthday.

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5 Primitive Skills That Will Come in Handy When SHTF

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If you’ve been part of the prepping community for any length of time you know that when SHTF, life is going to change substantially. You may have an EDC and a BOB and even a bug out location ready and waiting for disaster to strike. But have you really taken the time to think about … Read more…

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Preventing Tick Borne Diseases

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It’s Monday morning and you’re returning to work, all smiles, after a wonderful weekend backpacking with friends. By Wednesday, all of a sudden, you’re not feeling so well. You’re feeling a bit of nausea and weakness. Sitting around for too long also makes you experience joint pain. “What could it be?” you ask yourself. “Maybe I’m catching some sort of bug from one of my co-workers,” you tell yourself. While that may be true, it is likelier you’ve brought a stowaway with you from your weekend adventures and you’re experiencing classic symptoms of a tick-borne disease.

With backpacking and hiking season in full swing, it is important to know tick season is also in full swing. And these little stowaways are quietly lying waiting to hitch a ride on an unsuspecting soul.

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View Ranger Mobile Phone Navigation App

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For about a year now, I’ve been using View Ranger Navigation on my Galaxy phone. And while there are no shortages of navigation apps out there, This app just really called out to me with some of it’s features.

Available for both android and apple, this app is free for download. One of the key points I liked about this app, unlike others, is I didn’t have to set up an account to use it. Of course to really enjoy all of the features registration is needed. But the key features are all available without registration.

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3 Excellent Weapons for Survival

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Even without a natural disaster or SHTF event, deadly situations arise unexpectedly. Confirmation of this is available via the home invasions, rapes, muggings, and other violent crimes flooding police scanners weekly. The right weapons for survival on hand can catch an opponent off guard and give you and your family members time to get away … Read more…

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Drinking Too Much Water Nearly Killed Me

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“Drinking too much water nearly killed me!”

That’s how the story started on a first-aid course I was teaching. I was into the middle of my spiel on hyponatremia (water intoxication) when one of the students blurted out that statement.

“It occurred on an organized long distance bike ride,” he continued. “We were riding along a ridge and I started to feel sick and was developing a headache. I thought I was just dehydrated and needed to rest, so I drank more water, but the headache was getting worse. I knew something was wrong and needed to go to the hospital. Luckily I wasn’t alone on the ride and an aid station was near by.

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The Importance of Rest in the Back Country

I was fairly new to the business and eager to make connections and keep clients happy by being available when they needed me. I had already booked a project and now a different client was contacting me for a different project all together. The first job would end about 3 a.m. and the second one begin about 7 a.m. that same morning. I was young and full of myself, so I agreed to do the second one. Needless to say, I was a wreck. I couldn’t think clearly, I was moving slowly and I was caught dozing off a couple of times. Not a good way to keep a client happy.

That little experience is not unusual. People are doing it all the time, with reckless abandon, and getting into fatal accidents.

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The Importance of Rest in the Back Country

I was fairly new to the business and eager to make connections and keep clients happy by being available when they needed me. I had already booked a project and now a different client was contacting me for a different project all together. The first job would end about 3 a.m. and the second one begin about 7 a.m. that same morning. I was young and full of myself, so I agreed to do the second one. Needless to say, I was a wreck. I couldn’t think clearly, I was moving slowly and I was caught dozing off a couple of times. Not a good way to keep a client happy.

That little experience is not unusual. People are doing it all the time, with reckless abandon, and getting into fatal accidents.

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The Importance of Rest in the Back Country

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I was fairly new to the business and eager to make connections and keep clients happy by being available when they needed me. I had already booked a project and now a different client was contacting me for a different project all together. The first job would end about 3 a.m. and the second one begin about 7 a.m. that same morning. I was young and full of myself, so I agreed to do the second one. Needless to say, I was a wreck. I couldn’t think clearly, I was moving slowly and I was caught dozing off a couple of times. Not a good way to keep a client happy.

That little experience is not unusual. People are doing it all the time, with reckless abandon, and getting into fatal accidents.

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The 10 Essentials Revised and Improved

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Developed in the 1930s, by Seattle based Mountaineers club, “The 10 Essentials” were items listed as needed to respond positively to backcountry emergencies and accidents. Over time, the list morphed from an item approach to a systems approach, an improvement, but still fundamentally lacking in some regards. With some critical thinking and a couple of tweaks, however, the list can be solid.

The classic 10 essentials are

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Early Morning Hike Checking Out Useful Plants

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By 3:30 a.m. I was already tossing and turning. After laying in bed for a while, I finally decided to get up. It was 4:00 a.m. by now and I was getting in the shower, ready to start my day. Funny thing is I really had no where to be, or anything really to do. I just wanted to get up and get ready. I guess It’s not entirely abnormal. I’m usually up between 4:30 and 5:30 every morning.

After checking some emails, I headed out the door and on my way to the convenient store for my usual morning stop. By now it was 5:oo a.m.

“Hmmm! Guess I’ll head over to the local hiking trail and get an early morning hike in,” I thought… Off I went.

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Chicken Fried Steak Throwdown

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I loves me some chicken fried steak. And I try to make it a point to have some in my travels across the states. I’ve not yet found what I would call the Cadillac of chicken fried steaks, but I’ve sure had some tasty meals in my search.

Now there’s one cowboy’s chicken fried I’m eager to try, cuz if you can beat Bobby Flay in a head to head throw down, I’m bet’n it’s gonna be the best I’ve ever had.

Sum y’all may’ve never hear of him, but he sure seems to be a household name round the cowboy culture.

Okay hoe’d up. Let me reboot. Trying to write in a cowboyish tone is giv’n me a headache.

Kent Rollins, rather cowboy Kent Rollins, is a bonafide chuckwagon cook, and if watching his videos don’t put you in a bushcrafting mood, I’m not quite sure what else will.

Born and raised near Hollis Oklahoma, Kent has been a cowboy all his life. He’s…. Ah hell let me just provide the blurb from his website, kentrollins.com

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Ham-O-Can Redux: The Operator G1 from Hardened Power Systems

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Call it a radio go box or Ham-O-Can, the Operator G1 by Hardened Power Systems IS the Ham-O-Can…only better.  The original Ham-O-Can video is here.  This comms box is one awesome piece of kit.  Check it out: Products in the video: HPS Operator G1 Midland MXT 105 Operator Magnetic Kickstands New 15 Watt Midland MXT …

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The Website Has Changed. Here’s Why

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If you’ve followed this site and this is your first visit in some time, you’ll notice quite the change in look. Aside from the overall look and feel, I made a conscience decision to close down the online store.

The decision to close the online store really had nothing to do with sales, more the confliction with my core philosophy. Here I am the guy whom always admonishes the pervasiveness of gear hype and aggrandizing, yet I’m not behaving in a manner congruent with my beliefs. I’ve all but rid myself of all my outdoor gear, as an affront to the mainstream idea you need this widget or that gadget, yet here I am selling those very chachkies. Who was I kidding? Every time a sale would come through I would feel guilt. I was not being true to my beliefs; moreover, I was conceding to an ideology I do not believe in.

Christian Noble, of Master Woodsman, some time ago wrote, “I hate gear. Outside of doing what its supposed to do, it really gets in the way… physically, psychologically, and especially financially.”

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Buy Experiences Not Things

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The concept of “buy experiences not things” is not new. Studies have been conducted and countless articles written about the idea.

I’ve just returned from the PNW (Pacific Northwest). The memories I bring back will last me a lifetime, but aside from my clothes and hygiene kit, I couldn’t tell you what else I packed to save my life. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I could tell you what I had, but I couldn’t detail on which day I wore or used what. More importantly, in no way did I ever feel anymore exhilarated and excited or my day improved because I wore or adorned a specific item. I couldn’t tell you what clothes my colleagues wore or what knives they used while we were together. But What I can tell you are the stories we shared, the laughs we had and the places we visited.

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I’d Rather be Caught Dead Than Caught with a Ferro Rod

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“I’d rather be caught dead than caught with a ferro rod!” That was the comment I made to a fellow instructor this past weekend. To him, however, it came as no surprise. He knows I have a rather oblique and critical view of the survival industry. “It’s not that I think the ferro rod doesn’t work,” I said. “It works well for what it is and is great bushcraft tool. The problem I have with it is it’s billing. It is billed as the ultimate emergency fire starting tool. It creates the mind set of the be all end all of fire starting when in reality it violates my basic tenet of survival—Can a five year old do it?”

He listened on in silence as we walked down the trail. I can only think he was thinking, “Oh boy, here goes Alan again on one of his wild rants”

“You know, Rob,” I said. “I’ve run thousands of students.

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Try making hardtack: A great, cheap addition to your survival gear

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Looking for a way to use up surplus flour, or make a cheap trail food or durable survival ration? One answer may be hardtack, a baked, unleavened wheat cracker. As a survival food, hardtack has a proven track record.

by Leon Pantenburg

Vicksburg, MS: My gray-clad brothers-in-arms and I  hunkered down to eat. In the morning, we would do battle with those “heathen Yankee horde” Civil War re-enactors at Champions Hill, between Jackson and Vicksburg,  Mississippi.

I was “under cover” on assignment for the Vicksburg Post to photograph the battle, one of the biggest re-enactments of the year. Except for the Nikon safely hidden  in my haversack, my gear, weapons and accouterments were authentic in every way.

Hardtack can have different ingredients to make it more flavorable.

Hardtack can have different ingredients to make it more flavorable.

Since I was working for the Post, I had to represent the home team and be a Confederate. (This probably caused a minor earth tremor in Ruthven, Iowa, as my great-great-grandfather, James Hallowell,  92th Illinois Infantry, rolled in his grave!)

My only excuse was that like most Confederate soldiers, I had been drafted, thought “The Cause” was illogical, had no choice about being there, and wanted to go home!

I ‘d learned a lot about being a Civil War infantryman in one short, sweltering afternoon: the food was absolutely awful; our wool uniforms were too hot, and felt like you were wearing a sweatsuit: the Kepi-style caps provided no sun protection and the canteens were too small.

The Sargent, sensing my discontent (because of  my constant whining and complaining) picked on me.  He proclaimed to all within hearing distance that I was a “slacker,” and called me a “baboon” when I dropped my canteen during drill. As darkness fell, the re-enactors would sleep under wool blankets, not to stay warm, but to fight off mosquitoes.

But the food was the worst. Dinner was a piece of hardtack, a fatty piece of bacon toasted on a bayonet over a campfire;  horrible boiled coffee brewed in my tin cup and a wormy-looking apple. After eating my meager meal, I was ready to either desert or form a raiding party to attack  the Yankees and get some real food!

A hardtack biscuit

A modern hardtack biscuit

Hardtack is one of the original trail and emergency foods, and it is worth considering if you are a prepper or are interested in wilderness or urban survival.

The advantage is that hardtack is easy to make, transports easily and will last a reasonably long time if stored in appropriate containers. The disadvantage is the bland taste, and traditional toughness.

Even after yeast was discovered by the Egyptians, there was a purpose for unleavened breads. It was easy to carry and durable, so it was standard fare for hunters and warriors.  Centuries later, Christopher Columbus took unleavened bread on his journeys.

Hardtack remained a staple in the New World. During the early settlement of North America, the exploration of the continent, the American Revolution, and on through the American

Hardtack was a durable, if bland-tasting, field ration.

Civil War, armies were kept alive with hardtack.  A basic concept in war is that the side that keeps its soldiers from going hungry will probably win.

Hardtack is also reasonably nutritious. Wheat flour is more than 10% protein and includes Vitamin B. During emergencies, people can live for quite a while on just bread and water.  Although raw flour is hard to digest, in the form of hard bread, it is edible.

No one has determined just when, or how, during the American Civil War, hard bread began to be referred to as hardtack. Apparently,  it was first called hardtack by the Union Army of the Potomac; although the name spread to other units, it was generally referred to as hard bread by the armies of the West.

Regardless of the time frame, if you’re a history buff, prepper or hard-core survivalist, you should consider including hardtack in your emergency food supplies or survival kit. A guaranteed conversation starter at any campfire, campout or outdoor event, hardtack can have a useful place  in today’s survival kit.

(It only takes a few additional ingredients to turbocharge  the nutritional value of hardtack. To each cup of flour in the recipe, add one tablespoon of soy flour, one teaspoon of wheat germ and one teaspoon of powdered milk. There is no difference in the taste, and these ingredients combine to make the bread a complete protein.)

There are many versions and varieties of hardtack recipes: Try some of these to start out.

Army Hardtack Recipe
  • 4 cups flour (preferably whole wheat)
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • Water (about 2 cups)
  • Pre-heat oven to 375° F
  • Makes about 10 pieces

 

After cutting the squares, press a pattern of four rows of four holes into each square, using a nail or other such object. Do not punch through the dough.  The appearance you want is similar to that of a modern saltine cracker.  Turn each square over and do the same thing to the other side.

Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn each piece over and bake for another 30 minutes. The crackers should be slightly brown on both sides.

The fresh crackers are easily broken, but as they dry, they harden and assume the consistency of fired brick.

Swedish Hardtack

I cup water

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 tbsp. honey

3 cups rye flour (or 1 1/2 cups rye & 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)

1  1/2 tbsp. brewer’s yeast (optional)

1/4 tsp. salt

Mix liquids together.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Combine the mixtures, stirring to moisten throughout.  Form a ball.  On a floured surface, flatten the dough, and roll out thinly. Cut into squares and prick each cracker with the tines of a fork a couple of times.  Transfer to lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 425° F for around 8 minutes, checking to be sure not to over-brown.  It is best served warm.

Mix: two cups of all-purpose flour and a half teaspoon of salt.  Use more salt for authenticity. Mix by hand. Add a teaspoon of shortening and a half cup of water, stirred in a little at a time to form a very stiff dough.  Beat the dough to a half inch thickness with a clean top mallet or rifle butt.  Fold the sheet of dough into six layers. Continue to beat and to fold the dough a half dozen times until it is elastic. Roll the dough out to a half-inch thickness before cutting it with a floured biscuit cutter or bayonet. Bake for about a half hour in a 325° F oven.

The basic ingredients are flour, salt and water. General directions are also similar: Dissolve the salt in water and work it into flour using your hands.  The dough should be firm and pliable but not sticky or dry. Flatten the dough onto a cookie sheet to about 1/4 inch thick, and cut into squares 3 inches by 3 inches.  Pierce each square with 16 holes about ½ inch apart.  Bake in oven until edges are brown or dough is hard.

Preheat the oven to 400° F For each cup of flour add 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix salt and flour with just enough water to bind. Bake 20-25 minutes.  The longer you bake the hardtack, the more authentic it will appear.

A Sailor’s Diet

In a separate container, mix:

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk.
  • 3 tablespoons honey.
  • 1/2 cup melted bacon drippings or shortening.

Combine the two sets of ingredients. When the dough is thoroughly mixed, roll it out on a floured board to a thickness of about a quarter inch.  Cut out circles of dough with a large drinking glass dipped in flour and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 5 1/2 minutes at 450° F.

Let the hardtack cool on a wire rack before serving with jam or jelly.

 

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The COMPLETE How To Build The Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle

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We’ve been on this series for some time and here it is, the COMPLETE How To Build The Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle.  Bug Out Vehicles, they can mean different things to different people.  Not all “bug outs” may be permanent, some could be.  In this video we talk about the fundamentals of building a bug …

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Exploring the High Desert

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I knew with all the rains the high desert and it’s rolling hills would be turning beautiful shades of green. And yesterday I had the opportunity to explore an area of the high desert I’ve been meaning to get to for some time.

The drive up to Agua Dulce was uneventful, other than the winds attempting to blow my vehicle sideways. The winds are fairly predictable, however. Mornings and afternoons are typically much more windy as the sun’s rays warm up the air hovering just above the earth’s surface. The warming air then rises and is displaced by the cooler air that sits higher in the atmosphere. This is what causes the winds. As late afternoon approaches and the temperatures drop, the sun no longer warms up the air as it did earlier in the day and their is no warm air to rise causing winds. [I digress]

As I drove to my destination, just a coupe of miles from Vasquez Rocks,

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Henbit, Plant of the Week

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We’re slightly over a month into Winter and already, here in Southern California, we are seeing wild greens popping up. And one of the most noticeable early bloomers, amongst many, is henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). And certainly yesterday, during my wild plants class, this little mint was making its appearance in a grand way. It was growing so rampant, it was difficult getting around it without trampling it. Fortunately, this abundance just provided more pickings for a wild green salad.
Henbit often goes unnoticed, as it blends into the background of growing grasses and other wild plants. But this small low growing European native is found throughout North America and its mild sweet taste makes a welcome addition to any wild salad. And once recognized, you will notice this plant growing in a lot of places you may frequent. It prefers light dry soil as well as cultivated soil. It is often found along roadsides, in pastures, yards and gardens. In my case, it grows rampant in my backyard, but is just as easily found in areas I hike.

Henbit is in the mint family and shares the typical mint characteristics—square stem and opposite leaves. It is often confused for purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), but is indeed different.

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