The Wild Cherry

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THE WILD CHERRY:
Native Americans processed and ate the pits
of this widespread and tasty summer fruit

Nyerges has been leading Wild Food Outings since 1974.  He is the author of Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants,  Foraging California, Extreme Simplicity, and other books. For a schedule of his classes, and information about his books, contact School of Self-Reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or on-line at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com.
Wild cherry is a common, widespread plant throughout North America.  Where I live in Southern California, there are five native species of wild cherry found throughout the Pacific Coast region.  People are surprised because they do not think of this semi-desert area which rarely gets frosts as being able to support cherries. Yet, these varieties are well adapted to this climate, with deep roots, and thick — almost waxy — leaves so it can survive periods of drought.
Wild cherries are believed to be the most widespread wild shrub throughout all of  North America.  The Prunus genus not only includes all wild and domestic cherries, but also nectarines, peaches, plums, and almonds. 
One of the first historical accounts of the local indigenous people eating wild cherries comes to us from Father Junipero Serra, who passed through the San Gabriel Valley area of Southern California in July of 1769.  He noted that the local Indians (the “Gabrielinos”) used various fruits, grass seeds and other wild seeds, etc.
Most of the year, the evergreen cherry bushes or trees will resemble holly, and people will often guess that they are looking at holly bush.  I tell my students to take a leaf and crush it and wait a few seconds to get a whiff of that characteristic odor.  Most agree that the odor resembles bitter almond extract used in cakes.  In fact, this sweet odor is from the presence of hydrocyanic acid (“cyanide”).  This is why you do not make tea from the leaves.


If we are hiking around the cherries in late summer, there will invariably be fruit on the bush.  Some will be ripe enough for us to taste.  Most people can look at this fruit, and guess that it is edible. (However, I strongly urge you to never assume any wild berry or plant is edible simply because you subjectively think “it looks edible.”  That can be a quick way to get sick, or die.  Never eat any wild plant if  you haven’t positively identified it as an edible species.)  I typically will sample a wild cherry and let my students taste one before I tell them what it is.  The taste is not identical to commercial farm-grown cherries.  There isn’t quite as much sugar in the wild cherries, and they have a bitter underflavor and a tartness that makes them uniquely enjoyable, especially when you’re in the back country with meager food rations.  After a few bites, someone will guess that they are eating a cherry. 
In wet years, there is a thicker, sweeter layer of pulp around the large seed.  In dryer years, the pulp layer is thin — even paper-thin in drought years. 
And though the Indian population certainly enjoyed the pulp of these cherries in the past, they considered the seed as the more important food source.  Seeds were saved, and their thin shells removed.  There is a solid pulp inside the pit, just the same as there is with the store-bought cherry pits.  When you chew on the pulp, you’ll find a pleasant combination of that almondy-bitterness and sweetness.  Though it might be OK to nibble on a few, these seeds were always shelled and leached if substantial amounts were going to be consumed. 
The process of removing the hydrocyanic acid is essentially the same as for acorns. You shell the seeds, and boil the pulp for about half an hour, changing the water a few times.  Generally, you will not need to process cherry seeds as long as acorns. In fact, three boilings of cherry seeds are sufficient to render them safe to eat (whereas, acorns might require a much longer leaching time). The final product is then ground into flour, and mixed into breads, pancakes, soups, or other mush-type dishes.  It is good, and is a sweet flour. 
Shelling cherry seeds

whole seed in bag; shelled in bowl

3x boiled seed, ready to eat
The Cahuilla people of the desert in the vicinity of Palm Springs called this plant cha-mish, and today refer to it as a chokecherry.  They did not typically use the leached seed for breads, but almost exclusively for soups or mush.  Sometimes they made the meal into little cakes.  When dried, they were quite hard and black.  They could then be stored a long time, and would be reconstituted in water before eating.   One form of pemmican was also made by adding the fruit of these chokecherries with deer or elk meat. 
There is a great photo essay on making cherry seed atole (and other cherry seed foods) in “Ethnobotany Project: Contemporary Uses of Native Plants” by Ramirez and Small, and published by Blurb.com.
Dr. James Adams, co-author of “Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West,” adds applesauce to a cherry seed mush that he makes, and he reports that all his students enjoy it.
The inner bark of the wild cherries was also used for its medicinal value. A tea from the bark was used for diarrhea, stomach inflammations, and — among the Cherokee — the tea was said to help relieve the pain of labor during childbirth.  This medicine was also listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1820 as a sedative. 


People of the 1800s and earlier would make syrup and soup from the cherries and use it as a medicine for whooping cough. The Miwok Indians of Northern California believed that eating the raw fruit was good for the voice. The bark of the cherries has been used extensively in cough medicines.  The use of cherry fruit or bark in cough medicines was not just for flavor.  But like with so many old fashioned medicinal remedies of the past, the modern counterparts that are now sold in stores are typically all sugar and artificial flavors.  Thus, horehound candy rarely has horehound in it, marshmallows have no marshmallow extract, and even the “cherry” cough medicines do not always have real cherry in it.  The price we have paid for our “advanced culture” is using more sugar, and concomitant health problems — but that is another topic.
Due to the presence of anthocyanins in cherries, eating about 20 cherries provides the same anti-inflammatory effects as two aspirin, according to Alternatives.
Long, straight branches of the various wild cherries are often used for making archery bows, backrests, baby cradles, and various other crafts. 
The cherry is an attractive plant, somewhat conspicuous in the hillsides because of its somewhat shiny leaves.  The leaf shape of the common holly-leaf cherry (P. Ilicifolia) is very much like a camelia leaf, a simple ovate to round leaf with fine teeth along the margin.  In the spring, many white flowers develop, and as the summer progresses, you will see many small green cherries as they develop.  The fruits turn pink, then red, and then nearly black when they are ripe and at their best. 
Though great as a trail nibble, there are many recipes that you can make from the seeds’ pulp, and the deseeded fruit.  Uses for the fruit include jams and jellies, fruit pemmican, juices, and even ice cream. 
I recall taking a late August hike in the Angeles National Forest up a trail I’d never been on before.  There was no water along the four mile, uphill road that eventually led to one of the old, now-abandoned fire-lookout stations.  Though I foolishly neglected to bring along a canteen, I collected many of the ripe and very sweet wild cherries along the trail, and I ate them sparingly along the way.  I ate them sparingly, because if you consume a lot of the fruits raw, they can have a laxative effect.  I ate about three dozen fruits over the course of about three hours, and suffered no laxative results.
Keep in mind when you are collecting your wild cherries that bears enjoy this fruit also.  We’ve often observed abundant cherries in bear scat.  So be mindful and alert when you’re in wilderness areas during cherry season.


The seed readily sprouts, and I have occasionally kept the wild seeds which had particularly large or tasty fruits, and planted them in my yard or in pots.  I have several that sprouted and are now taller that I am, though I have not yet had fruit crops from these.      

Equipment: Comfort & Ease of Living.

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Equipment: Comfort & Ease of Living.

Choosing the right equipment for wilderness living is important, especially if you are carrying that equipment on your back. It is important to choose equipment that is sustainable, which many modern survival gadgets are not. So you really do need to give it some thought before you start collecting gear.

The ease & comfort that you achieve in your wilderness survival depends solely on the equipment you choose. Your survival per se depends mostly on your wilderness living skills. If you have the right skills, you can survive in the wilderness without any bought equipment, BUT, it will be a hard life & a lot of work. Choose the wrong equipment, equipment that is not necessary & not sustainable, & you will finish up living a Stone Age lifestyle!

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing or choosing items of equipment:

Is it sustainable? If it breaks can I repair it easily? Do I really need this or am I choosing it because it looks cool? What purpose will this serve? Can I use it for more than just one task? Is this suitable for the environment I am expecting to live in; example, jungle or forest/machete or tomahawk? (a tomahawk is more versatile than a machete). How versatile is this shelter option? If I choose a sleeping bag over wool blankets will the bag keep me warm when wet? In an emergency how easily can I escape from a sleeping bag? Do I need a firearm primarily for defence or hunting? How long will the ammunition last if I use a modern firearm for defence & hunting? Am I likely to get into a firefight? Will I be travelling alone? If I am travelling with a partner, how can I divide some of the equipment to our best advantage?

The Decline of Western Civilization: Why I wrote my books

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WHY I WROTE MY BOOKS

“Testing Your Outdoor Survival Skills”

Christopher Nyerges

I am often asked why I teach and write about the topics of self-reliance and survival.  Here is part of my answer.

“The city” developed organically from the earliest times of human history, presumably for the mutual survival and upliftment of all those who became a part of it.   The city because the locus for heightened social interaction, where farmers could barter and sell their goods to the far reaches of the domain, where the brightest and the best could answer your questions and resolved your needs, whether about technical, medical, or other issue.  It’s obvious why cities developed, though it has not always so altruistic.

We know, for example, that the great Mayan cities most likely had theocratic rulers whose orders were law, and sometimes that worked out well for the people.  But it could also spell the demise for the city if deluded self-important religious leaders saw themselves as more important than “the people.”  Right here in North America, there was the great city of Cahokia in what is now Illinois, which emerged, dominated, changed and improved the lives of everyone it touched, and then, for various reasons, it disappeared.

Cities and civilizations arise out of the common interests of those it serves, and they seem to follow a pattern of growth, peaking, declining, disappearing (that’s the 25 cent version of what usually takes a full semester anthropology course).

Every school child has heard about the great Roman empire, and how it “fell.”  We read the great details and shake our heads at the Roman stupidity that allowed such greatness to fall, and secretly, we believe it can never happen to us.  Really?  Well, we don’t want it to happen to us, of course, but consider that a “civilization” is a living, dynamic entity.  It’s essence and character and health are all determined by the collective mindset and collective actions of all the participants, whether you recognize that or not.  And it does seem to more and more of us that the collective mindset is too often about short-term gains, and not about the health and survival and vitality of the city, and the culture, and our civilization.

We aren’t sure exactly where we are as a people in the curve of the decline of a civilization, or whether or not we can affect that decline.  However, there is always something that the individual can do – always. 

To gain a higher perspective of what you can do, in your own life, in your own family and in your own town, I strongly encourage you to read Morris Berman’s “The Twilight of American Culture.” There are lots of good ideas there. Also, continue to read the publications that describe and promote the positive actions you can take every day in  your own life to improve your survival quotient, in the city, and in the wilderness.

Everyone wants to make the wisest choices  when our modern structures break down, either from the ravages of nature, or from man (war, terrorism, disease, etc.). 

Sometimes we can feel like we are just a drop of water in the ocean, but as we network and work with like-minded others, we can move in the direction of living solutions.

When I began teaching about wild foods and survival skills when I was still a teenager, I did so to encourage others to think likewise, but mostly I did so to clarify my own thinking on the subject.  You could call it enlightened self-interest.  Plus, by teaching and writing, I was able to meet others along the same path, people that I would have never met if I were hiding out somewhere in a cave.

I taught field trips, and I taught in the classroom. When I taught in the classroom, I found it useful to organize each subject by topic, and to teach by constantly asking questions of the students.  Those refined and edited questions became the basis for my “Testing Your Outdoor Survival Skills” textbook, which is still used by many today.  (It’s available on Amazon, or from the store at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com). 

Though I still use that “Testing” textbook, I have also written “How to Survive Anywhere,” which embodies most of the ideas in “Testing Your Outdoor Survival Skills.” 

In “How to Survive Anywhere,” I mention Jane Jacobs, who is the author of “Dark Ages Ahead,” who attempts to offer solutions to anyone worried about the decline of western civilization.  Her book is worth reading; at least read page 258 of “How to Survive Anywhere,” where I summarize her thinking.  She explains some of the obvious causes of our decline, especially the idea of community.  But she does not see “dark ages” as inevitable. Rather, she says that since culture is a living dynamic entity, we need to all become living examples of the best in society, and we need to think, we need to model solutions, and we need to teach, lecture, and write! 

Rich begins his story, about his recent travels around America…and why.

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…Finally Back Home… It’s been exactly a year since I began the job that took me across America, into the backest back roads, up mountains, down valleys, and across rivers, up the west coast from Mexico to Canada, down across the entire western tier of states, all around the parts of Texas I grew up […]

The post Rich begins his story, about his recent travels around America…and why. appeared first on SurvivalRing.

“Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants”

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WHY I WROTE MY BOOKS:

Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants

[Nyerges’ “Guide to Wild Foods” book, originally published in 1978, was published in full color as of 2014.  The book, now titled “Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants,” is available at bookstores, Amazon, and at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com.  It has been adopted for use as a college textbook in one college.]

My earliest interest in wild food began around 1967 as I began my awareness of the the Native Americans who lived in Los Angeles County in the pre-Spanish era who gathered and hunted all their food.  I wanted to learn how to do that too, because I thought I would be a good survival skill, and mostly because I thought it was one of the most essential things a person could do, anywhere, at any time.

I studied all I could from the local library, and by enrolling in botany classes in high school and then college. I made the effort to study with whomever I could, when the opportunities arose: Native Americans, Amish, gardeners, botanists, bums — whoever knew about plants and was willing to share their knowledge with me.

By 1974, I was asked to lead Wild Food Outings with the Los Angeles-based non-profit, WTI, whose focus was to educate in all aspects of survival. I fit in well, and not only led the walks (and continued to this day) but started work on a book about local wild foods.  It took the next four years of typing and researching and asking questions and compiling notes, but finally my stacks of seemingly-random notes were taking shape into a book.

My notes consisted of various piles of paperwork that I stacked around my bedroom, and which I finally began to order when I started a typesetting job at the Altadena Chronicle.  The editor, Sue Redman, allowed me to write a column each week which I called “The Emergency Plant Survival Guide,” which was eventually assembled into a photocopied 8 ½ x 11 format.   In many ways, I wrote the book for myself, as a way to assemble my own diverse notes and experiences about using plants for food, and other uses.

By then, I’d met and began studying with botanist Dr. Leonid Enari, who really opened my eyes to the vast botanical world “out there.” Dr. Enari – who I call the greatest botanist that no one knows — was instrumental in shaping that very crude first edition of what we then called “A Southern California’s Guide to Wild Foods.”

The second edition, completely revised, came out within another two years or so, and then soon another revised edition with more plants being added each time.

At the time, there was no other book like this one which appealed to the common useful plants in the Southern California area.  There were a few academic books, though they didn’t appeal to the person who wanted to actually try these plants. And there was no internet then, so all my research was done in libraries or with first-person interviews, or spending all day to get somewhere just so I could learn one new fact about one plant.

The fourth edition was released in 1995, and in many ways this was my favorite version since all the plants drawings were painstakingly done in my own hand.  But today, everyone wants color photos. 

Finally, in the spring of 2014, the book was released in full color, which is perhaps the ultimate format we’d dreamed about in the mid-1970s when the idea for this book was formulated.

One of my greatest surprises came one morning while listening to the old American Indian hour on Pasadena City College Radio. Dorothy Poole, aka Chaparral Granny, was talking about the uses of certain local wild plants.  As I listened, it sounded vaguely familiar.  I quickly pulled out my copy of “Guide to Wild Foods” and opened to the plant she was talking about.  Imagine my surprise to see that she was reading directly from my book!  I felt honored that she felt my compilation and personal commentary was worthy of sharing on the American Indian hour.

The book helps the beginner understand the basic botanical terminology, and quickly shows the reader how to best utilize many of the common wild plants for food, medicine, soap, etc. 

Many of the plants listed in the book are not  native, and are considered invasive weeds. They are the plants that gardeners love to pull up and toss in the trash, or worse, to spray Roundup on them so they don’t come back.

It turns out that some of the wild foods are more nutritious than much of what we find in the supermarket. And they taste good too, if you simply take the time to learn how to prepare them.

In “Guide to Wild Foods,” you learn that the brown pod from the carob trees planted all over Southern California are edible, and are an excellent source of calcium and B vitamins.

You also learn that dandelion is the richest source of beta carotene (not carrots), and that purslane is the richest plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and that the common lambs quarter is like nature’s mineral tablet.

The book includes many of the Native American uses of plants, such as the yucca plant which was a valuble soap and fibre source, as well as three types of food. And you learn about many of the natural cures to poison oak, including the seemingly unusual treatment that I’ve done for the past 30 years.

Now titled “Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants,”  it is available at Amazon, at bookstores, and at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com.

Growing Oyster Mushrooms

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Matt Heidrich with some of his home-grown oyster mushrooms 
Matt Heidrich is a man who loves oyster mushrooms.  He enjoys them so much that he has learned the intricate art of home cultivation.  I didn’t know what to expect when I visited him in his Highland Park home, but I certainly got a full tutorial.
Oyster mushrooms are a variety of mushroom that grows on old and dying trees throughout the nation.  They grow from the sides of trees with their gills that slope down to meet the stem.  The caps range from cream to dark brown. They are one of the simplest mushrooms to cultivate, and enjoyed by mushroom enthusiasts and foodies alike.  I always assumed they were called oyster mushrooms because the flavor (to me) is very much like oysters, though some say the name derived from the shape of the mushroom’s cap being similar to an oyster shell.
A child of Army parents, Heidrich spent his childhood in Indiana, and it was there that he first found and harvested some of another wild mushroom in the woods – the popular and colorful chicken-of-the-woods. 
In 2015 at Los Angeles’ eclectic EcoVillage, he attended a workshop led by Peter McCoy where he was introduced to the lifestyle of fungi. The workshop included the details for cultivating the oyster mushroom, and Heidrich was hooked.  Over the last several years, he has refined and perfected his technique for producing oyster mushrooms in his home. 
When I first visited Heidrich, I was given a tour of his small backyard, where he grows numerous herbs and vegetables in small upraised beds.  In one corner was a small compost pile covered with black plastic, which he uses mostly for the old medium of which his mushrooms grow.  He pulled up a corner to show me that oyster mushrooms abundantly grew from his little compost pile, the unexpected result from the leftovers of his cultivation.  He picked a few of the good ones for his meal later in the day.
Next, we went indoors for the tutorial.  It was quickly evident that growing oyster mushrooms were important to Heidrich, because it appeared that major portions of at least two rooms in his home were devoted to the various stages of oyster mushroom cultivation. 
We began by looking at some of the good textbooks that are available on the subject. Two of the best current books on mushroom cultivation are “Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms” by Paul Stamets, and “The Mushroom Cultivator” by Stamets and Chilton.   “Radical Mycology” by Peter McCoy and “Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation” by Trad Cotter are also very useful.  And for those who want to buy starter kits, Stamets’ company, called FungiPerfecti, provides supplies for beginner and expert alike.
There are many ways to cultivate mushrooms.   Understanding the difference between “spores” and “spawn” is key.  Spores are genetically diverse “seeds” that rain down from the gills of the mushroom.  The novice grower will not use spores, but spawn, which is genetically identical to the parent mushroom.  Most home growers use liquid culture spawn and grain spawn.  Liquid culture is simply mushrooms grown in sugar water.  Grain spawn is mushrooms grown on grain.  Heidrich cultivates his liquid culture using simple sugars purchased from the local homebrew shop.  (In fact, homebrewing and mushroom growing go hand in hand.)  For grain spawn, he uses organic wheat berries bought in bulk on Amazon.  The goals of these methods is to give the mycelium (the mushroom body) the nutrients it needs to form robust fruiting bodies (“fruiting bodies” are what most of us simply call mushrooms).  Liquid culture and grain spawn are readily available on Ebay or from mushroom websites.  The simplest way to begin cultivating is to buy liquid culture online and expand it at home in modified Mason jars.  But cleanliness is key.  
Heidrich created his own sterile environment with a 5 gallon clear Rubbermaid tub, onto which he has added two hole where his hands can enter with gloves.  Into this box, after has disinfected it with alcohol, he adds the starter medium, and several Mason jars of wheat berries which will be inoculated with the liquid starter medium. 

He carefully closes the lid of the box, and once everything needed is inside the box, he dons his gloves and his hands enter the box.  The lid of each jar has had two holes drill into it: one hole is stuffed with cotton for aeration, and the other is filled with high temperature RTV engine silicone.  With a hypodermic needle, he first sucks a measured amount of the liquid out of the starter medium, by pushing the needle through the silicone cover, and then he injects a measured amount into each jar of the wheat berries, again, by pushing the needle through the silicon layer.
This is all done very carefully, almost like a careful dance as Heidrich maneuvers into the limited space. But all this is necessary, otherwise the invisible contaminants in the air and environment which will infect the batch of mushrooms.
When done, Heidrich places these inoculated bottles of wheat berries onto a rack with an LED light to assist in stimulating the grown of the spawn. Temperature requirements vary depending on the oyster variety.  For example, there are blue oysters which prefer a cooler temperature, while the pink and phoenix oysters enjoy temperatures up into the 80s and 90s.

After a few weeks, if all went well, the bottles of wheat berries are covered in a white cob-webby material, which is the mycelium which will produce the mushrooms.
Heidrich took such a bottle to show me how he sets up the final stage of cultivation, which can take place in a plastic bag or bucket.  Today he demonstrated in a plastic bag.
Into the approximately gallon-sized plastic bag, he placed a layer of soaked cardboard.  (I had noted earlier that he had a few containers of old cardboard in his back yard, and this is what he uses to grow his mushrooms.). 
“Remember, these mushrooms like to grow on wood, and isn’t that what the cardboard came from?” smiles Heidrich.  He presses a layer of cardboard into the bag, and then adds a layer of used coffee grounds, a free recyclable material from a local coffee house.  Then he added about 5 tablespoons of the wheat berries covered in spawn. Then he added more cardboard, coffee grounds, and more spawn. He continues this way for several layers until the bag is full.  On his last, upper-most layer, he adds only spawn, then cardboard, then spawn.  Heidrich explains that the coffee grounds are most susceptible to infection, and by having no coffee grounds at the top where it is exposed, there is less chance of infection.
Once this is sealed, Heidrich punches a few holes into the bag so that each hole enters the bag at the cardboard.  Once the mushrooms get growing, they will grow out of the holes where they can be easily harvested.  This bag is again put on the shelf with the LED light, and allowed to sit until the mushrooms start to grow.
It all seems like a very mysterious process, but Heidrich is merely controlling in a scientific manner that which occurs naturally in the forest.
Heidrich’s favorite method of preparation is to sautee the mushrooms with his meals.
“How do you preserve the surplus?” I asked him, innocently enough.
“I eat them as quickly as I grow them,” he said smiling.  “There’s never a surplus!” 
Wow! He loves his mushrooms.  Nevertheless, if growers have a surplus, they can be frozen or dehydrated, and dehydration seems to be the preferable choice.
Heidrich has done some wild mushroom hunting on his own, but found that it was less than fruitful.  After all, wild mushrooms arise based on many factors, such as rain, weather, time of year, association of certain trees, humidity, and other factors.  Heidrich did find some turkey tail mushrooms, but generally prefers to grow his own oyster mushrooms. 
He’s not a vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic enthusiast, or a food faddist of any sort. “Yes, I eat meat,” with a smile that barely concealed a bit a guilt.  He’s a man who loves one of nature’s finest foods, and he’s found a way to have a constantly supply at home.
Heidrich does offer occasional workshops where he takes participants through the various steps involved.  His workshop participants walk home with an instruction sheet, and a bag of spawn to grow at home. For more information, he can be reached at mattheidrich@gmail.com

 [Nyerges continues to teach classes in self-reliance and survival. Go to www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com for the Schedule]

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy

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by Todd Walker

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

School is out for summer. Here’s a look in the rear view mirror at our first year of Project Based Learning at RISE Academy.

Our students and staff wish to thank each of you for the encouraging words, moral support, and following our journey of Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance! Below is a pictorial recap (picture-heavy) of the skills, projects, and links to more in-depth posts for those interested in learning these skills.

Cutting Tool Safety and Use

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Carving tent stakes.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Aware of his “blood circle”

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

How to safely chop kindling.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The draw knife was a hit with the students.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cutting rounds for “burn and scrape” spoons and bowls.

Related Links:

Outdoor Classroom Construction

Early in the school year, we decided to build an outdoor classroom. Nothing too fancy but functional for our needs. Students used math skills to square corners, learned to read a tape measure (fractions), and lashed the bamboo structure together. Their lashings held fast even through Hurricane Irma.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A lot of square lashings were tied.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A few of the crew.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Raising the roof

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The roof secured

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The Science of Fire

We have a joke around school when I’m asked, “What are we doing today?” My typical response is, “Cutting and burning stuff.” You may not get it, but fire takes center stage in the life of our outdoor classroom. Learning to use fire as a tool is paramount for outdoor living and education.

Fire by Friction

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Double teaming the bow drill.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A hand drill coal blown into flame.

Related Links: 

Fire by Spark Ignition

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Birthing fire from flint and steel

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Practicing flint and steel ignition under an emergency tarp.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ferro rod fire in the rain

Related Link: 

Fire by Solar Ignition

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mr. Andrews demonstrating solar ignition

Practical Tools and Crafts

Burn and Scrape Containers

This may be the most mesmerizing of all the skills students learned.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Showing off burned bowls.

Bark Containers

Students used Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) bark to craft traditional containers.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stitching sides with artificial sinew.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A grape-vine was used as the rim on this basket.

Related Link:

Hoko Knife

A simple way to introduce primitive technology to students is to make a Hoko knife. This stone cutting tool was discovered on the Hoko River archeological site in Washington State. A landslide destroyed the native fishing village about 2,700 years ago preserving artifacts of their material culture.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The flint flake compressed in a split stick with natural cordage.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Some were wrapped with modern cordage (tarred mariner’s line).

Related Link:

Pine Pitch Glue

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pine pitch, charcoal, and a variety of containers to hold the glue.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Crushed charcoal added to the mix.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Heating the pitch glue low and slow.

Related Link: 

Natural Cordage

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Reverse twist cordage from cattail leaves.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cordage made from a variety of natural materials.

Related Link:

Atlatl

What’s an atlatl?

A simple dart-throwing stick with a handle on one end and spur (male end) or socket (female end) on the other end. The dart, a flexible spear, mates with the spur/socket when thrown. Typically about two feet long, an atlatl employs leverage to extend the arm’s length to propel a dart further and with more velocity than when thrown using only the arm.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Notice the bend in the dart shaft when thrown.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

She was proud of her accurate throws.

Related Links:

Campfire Cooking

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cooking over an open fire.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ms. Byrd enjoying s’mores before Christmas break.

Related Link:

I’ve also created a RISE Academy Playlist on our YouTube channel. if you’d like to see our students Doing the Stuff, click on the video link below:

Many Thanks!

The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them.

~ Aristotle

We cannot thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you’ve given our students whom you’ve never met! The full impact of this journey in experiential education may never be known. It’s difficult to quantify. But you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice.

Some of you have asked how you might help in more tangible ways. Stay tuned for updates on becoming a partner/sponsor with RISE Academy. Until then…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Photo and Video Credits: Many of the photos were taken by Mr. Chris Andrews (teacher) and various RISE students. Video footage was shot mainly by students and guided by Mr. Michael Chapman (teacher).

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bunker Days on I Am Liberty

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Bunker Days
James Walton “I Am Liberty ” Audio player below!

Which social media network do you spend most of your time on? How much time do you spend there? You might be embarrassed to admit. That’s fine. You are not unique in this. With the recent events on Youtube and Facebook as well as twitter silencing voices that they don’t agree with, it may be time to jump ship.

Continue reading Bunker Days on I Am Liberty at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Preparing for an Emergency When You Have a Chronic Illness

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Even those with a disability or chronic illness should be prepared for an emergency situation should one arise. Prepping isn’t just for the able-bodied.  The task may just be a bit trickier, as there would be more equipment and necessities to have on standby than usual. A different exit strategy could also be required, depending […]

The post Preparing for an Emergency When You Have a Chronic Illness appeared first on American Preppers Network.

This Guy Didn’t Wait for the Govt. to Restore Power in Puerto Rico. He Bought a Truck Learned to Do It Himself

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by Daisy Luther

While everyone else was waiting for the government to restore power to Puerto Rico, Oscar Carrion and his friends went in together to buy a bucket truck … Read the rest

The post This Guy Didn’t Wait for the Govt. to Restore Power in Puerto Rico. He Bought a Truck Learned to Do It Himself appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Which Camp Kool-Aid Do You Drink? Kit Dogma or Skill Cult?

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by Todd WalkerWhich Camp Kool-Aid Do You Drink_ Kit Dogma or Skill Cult_ - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Snap! My ax handle was in two pieces. Now what? Would I sink or rise above a tool failure?

The good news is that my truck was a short walk from fixed camp. I crossed the creek, pulled a hill, and grabbed another ax from my truck. The day was saved.

Could I have made a stone ax? That’s a ridiculous notion seeing as how I was cutting a cord of firewood with an ax.

Every outing is different. People have different styles and tastes. Skill sets vary. I’m now knee-deep into building a log cabin in the woods with hand tools. You better believe I carry more than a knife and belt ax to the project. I bring what I need to make the job easier. Here are the most used tools at this stage of felling, bucking, and debarking logs…

  • Axes
  • Bark Spud
  • LogRite Jr. Arch
  • Cant Hook

Once the walls begin to be laid, my tool box will expand considerably. This cabin project isn’t a camping trip. An ax is the only tool from the above list that goes camping with me. Tools in your kit should be able to multitask but some are trip or mission specific. I have different kits depending on how I want to play in the woods.

The internet is full of proselytizers. One denomination promotes Kit Dogma. Others preach from the Skill Cult pulpit. If you don’t convert to one side or the other, you’ll be damned to hell if you’re ever in that dreaded “survival situation.” Can I get a witness!?

Note: When using the term “Skill Cult,” I’m not referring to Steven Edholm’s excellent YouTube channel and blog. While I can’t speak for Steven personally, I think he’d agree with me on the point I’m about to make. He uses and makes a variety of tools coupled with self-reliant skills for the stuff he’s doing. I highly recommend checking out his content if you haven’t already!

Kit Dogma vs Skill Cult

Believe it or not, grown men get their under britches in a wad over kit and skills. Virtual fist fights break out about the best knife, ax, saw, and get this, which trousers are best. The same is true if you ask which skill is most important to a woodsman. It’s a symphony of swollen egos chanting, “We’re NUMBER 1! We’re NUMBER 1!”

At what?

The internet has done us no favors in this department. New pilgrims see all this and think they have to pick sides. Failing to question the nonsense, they’re lured into the trap of conformity. And lists. And rules. And hero-worship.

The truth, however, will set you free!

Here’s the truth…

You need both kit and skill.

The pesky part of this truth is you must have a deep desire to learn how to use your kit to improve your skills through your experiences. This truth is the hardest for most of us to wrap our heart and hands around.

Kit Dogma

Dogmatic attitudes are displayed in more than just religion and politics. Beware of kit evangelists who aggressively enforce sacred cow gear.

Which kit items are essential? This begs another question… for what? What ya doing in the woods? Car camping, hiking, canoeing, backpacking, hunting, tramping, photography, fishing, primitive camping, foraging, Classic Camping, building shelter, etc., etc., … you get the picture.

Members of the ACORN Patrol at the 2017 Kephart Days. These folks know a thing or two about camp comforts.

Here’s a thought…

Bring what you need to the woods. No shame in packing the gear you need to match your skill level. Camp comfortably, no matter how many sacks of stuff it takes. This ain’t a competition. Play by your rules on your home field. With each trip to the field, you’ll figure out what to leave home or add on your next outing.

Marketers teach us, the consumer, why we should choose one product or service over competitors. I’ve heard some disgruntled woodsmen complain that Madison Avenue has set up shop in the woods. There’s nothing new about this trend. At the height of the Golden Age of Camping (1880-1930), Henry Ford, Abercrombie & Fitch, Duluth Pack, Pendleton, and others made lots of money selling sporting goods to outdoorsmen. Young’uns are shocked when I point out the history behind the expensive “A&F” logo on their apparel.

Let’s be honest, we’re all gear junkies to some extent. It’s easy to miss the point of kit collections. All this stuff is just shiny gadgetry unless we anchor them to the landscape with skills. Our lineage always leads us back to the land.

Through years of camping, my constant companions have been my ax and knife. There aren’t many tools which have enhanced my comfort around the campfire more than these. Of course, my trusty thumb drill (Bic lighter) is always in my pocket. No, I don’t always use primitive friction fire methods. Yes, I have backup fire-makers depending on my intentions. Some hardcore folk may frown upon this dependable open flame, but, again, match your kit with your skill level.

Here’s something else to keep in mind concerning kit selection. A YouTuber unboxes a tool and talks fit and finish. Don’t bristle, it’s just that I’ve never found “shiny object” reviews to provide practical help. Videos of someone actually using the tool in the field is better, but not enough. I need to wrap my hands around it and see how it fits my needs.

Skill Cult

My interests range from Stone Age technology to modern camping. And I have kits to fit this wide spectrum.

I’ll confess that I lean heavily toward skill cult. This doesn’t discount the need for quality gear in my journey. I’m all about buying/making dependable gear that fits me and suits the stuff I’m doing.

My blue-collar overland rig is a roof top tent atop a homemade utility truck body. One of the reasons I love this trailer is that it reminds me of Daddy’s old 1970 model GMC plumbing/welding truck. With calloused hands, he taught me the lessons of his trade, work ethic, and the value of a hard days work.

Set up at the Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering.

My working-man upbringing translates well into outdoor living skills. It takes hard work and patience to not only develop these skills, but keep them in proper context.

I’ve found in my experience that when skills grow, kits shrink. Practicing primitive skills may seem silly to modern campers. However, these primal first skills are the common denominator linking us to our past and the land. Making fire by twirling sticks together, for instance, takes careful attention to detail on every step of the fire-making process. That’s the practical part of primitive fire. The priceless piece is the flame lit in my soul.

An Emergency Slush Lamp Hack Using a Torch Plant Leaf - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mullein on mullein hand drill coal

Which skills are essential for your camp? However you answer, the essence of our discussion here is the context of how these skills (and kits) relate to you and your wilderness.

These are my baseline recommendations. Your camping style may differ…

A chuck box passed down to one of our Scouts from his grandfather.

On your journey from tenderfoot to thoroughbred camper, remember, don’t drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. Discover your essential kit items, through actual experience, which will enhance the skills necessary to sleep at night in your wild places.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

Click here to view the original post.

by Todd Walker

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Casey Deming, GeorgiaBushcraft.com

On the heels of my ax-work classes at the Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering, I wanted to cover some of the risks of swinging a tree clever. It’s our job to mitigate some of the risk. Even then, accidents happen.

At the Gathering, my buddy, Karl, shared a recent ax injure he incurred when his ax glanced from the wood he was splitting. He graciously, or not so gracious if you have a weak stomach, allowed me to share his injure here for educational purposes.

********* WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF BLOOD AND A OPENED FOOT **********

The ax glanced and struck Karl on the top of his left foot severing one bone completely and halfway through the second bone.

The two bones circled took the brunt of the blow.

A nasty ax gash.

Shoes, even leather boots, aren’t much of a deterrent to a sharp ax.

Stitched and cleaned up.

The photos above make it crystal clear how dangerous a moving ax can be. However, not all injuries to wood choppers come from the business end of the ax meeting flesh, or from negligence. Trees don’t always cooperate. They’re known to drop dead limbs on unsuspecting victims below. Trees and axes are not to blame. They do what they do without malice or remorse.

Taking an ax to the woods with the intent of chopping is serious business. 99% of my ax work is done alone in the woods. Even though I try to employ best-practices, the risk of becoming a victim is always in the forefront of my mind. I’m no expert and my ax-related advice should not be trusted but verified through experience.

5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

Vernon Law is credited with saying, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

We can never eliminate all the dangers of swinging an ax. We can only lessen the gravity of missing the mark through commonsense risk management. The good news is… true repentance will change your actions, and, hopefully, save you from the pain of these painful mistakes.

1.) Arrogance

“Only the penitent man shall pass.” ~ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The toughest woodsman is no match for tonnes of wood crashing to the forest floor. Even a wrist-size limb falling from 50 feet above can crush a shoulder or skull. While toughness is a fine virtue, be humble. The moment an axman approaches his work with superiority and a been-there-done-that attitude is the moment he gets blindsided.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confident ax skills inspire. Arrogance will get you hurt or killed. This holds true more so for seasoned axmen than beginners, and, in my experience, men over women.

2.) Entanglements and Hang Ups

Any obstruction in the ax swing arc must be cleared before work begins. Check overhead for nearby limbs and vines which may snag and deflect an ax in mid swing. I’m obsessive about removing the smallest twig when standing on top of logs to buck. I figure if I’m swinging inside my frontal zone (described below) inches from my feet, I can’t afford a stroke to veer.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A screen shot from a recent video of an overhead limb which snagged my ax.

Fell enough trees and you’ll have one hang up mid-fall. My first strategy, if the tree butt didn’t release from the hinge, is to try to free it from the stump. Some times the impact on the ground will jar the hang up loose. If not, I’ve had some success moving the butt of the tree backward using a long lever pole. Place the lever under the butt end and lift repeatedly to slide the tree butt backwards until it releases.

A safer and less strenuous way is to use a come-along attached to an anchor behind the tree stump. Without a modern come-along, a powerful winch can be made from two logs and a rope/cable. Ratchet the tree butt until it releases. You may be tempted to cut the offending tree which caused the hang up. This is a high-risk endeavor. Be sure to have all your medical/life insurance up to date. You and/or your surviving family will likely need it.

One hazard I hope to never encounter again was the yellow jacket sting between my eyes on my downward stroke in the video below. You’re only defense is to run like you stole something!

3.) No Exit Strategy

When felling trees with an ax or saw, preparing two or three escape routes is wise. When the tree begins its decent, get out of Dodge on a pre-determined path. The safest exit is at 30 degree angles from the back notch of the tree. Put your back against the tree and extend your arms like you’re about to give your mama a hug. Your arms are pointing to your best escape paths. Next safest is in a line opposite of the direction of fall. If this path is chosen, or the only option, put great distance between you and the stump to prevent a kickback from nailing your body to the ground.

Escaping perpendicular to the line of fall increases the risk of being struck by falling limbs from adjacent trees. I’ve witnessed trees “jump” and roll several feet to the side of the stump hinge by contacting adjacent tree limbs during the fall. Another overlooked danger is a dead spot halfway up the tree which breaks and falls back toward the woodsman as the bottom half falls in the direction of its lay. Be vigilant, drop your ax, and sprint for your life.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fortunately this log snapped halfway up and fell sideways from where I was standing.

4.) Violating the Frontal Zone

There are two basic ax swings: lateral and vertical. Certain guidelines should be followed for each swing. Take a look at the diagram below to better understand your frontal zone.

Adapted from The Ax Book

In The Ax Book, which I recommend you devour until the pages are dog-eared, Dudley Cook describes the frontal zone as two parallel lines running along side the outside edges of your feet when chopping. All lateral swings should be outside the parallel lines, always. The inertia of an ax in full, extended-arm swing only stops when acted upon by an external force. The ax head has a stopping point, and that point could be your body if you disregard the frontal zone guidelines.

There are two relatively “safe” strokes one can make within the frontal zone: a.) backed up, and b.) bucking. The backed up stroke is what beginning choppers are most familiar – splitting wood on a chopping block. The solid chopping block offers a backstop for the moving ax. Of course, as in Karl’s case above, there remains inherit dangers. Watch our video below to gain some safety tips for splitting firewood, the most common ax-work of campers and homesteaders.

Bucking is simply separating a log into lengths. The diameter of the log to be bucked determines my technique. Larger diameter logs (12+ inch range) allow me to stand on top to cut two V notches. Swings are always below my feet. If I miss my intended target below my feet, my body is out of harms way.

I stand on the ground to buck smaller diameter logs. The log itself is my back up. Accuracy is essential at the top of the bucked notch when your feet are on the ground. Even though the log is between you and your legs, miss the top of the notch and you now have a non-backed up swing in the frontal zone… and a very bad ending.

Another video of ours demonstrates the importance of accuracy on the top of notch cuts when bucking on the ground…

A third stroke in the frontal zone, which I’ll mention, but do not recommend, is the most dangerous and best performed with a saw. Situations arise where a high limb needs to be removed. My risk management strategy is to choke up on my ax handle with one hand and strike the limb at a 45 degree angle without completely severing the limb. A few lighter followup blows usually separates the limb. My forward hand gives me more breaking power as the ax follows through.

5.) Washed in the Blood

“All bleeding eventually stops. The challenge is stopping blood loss before the supply runs out.”

~ Mark DeJong, Off Grid Medic

Injuries related to axes and trees can be deadly. A first aid kit should be in close proximity to your work area. One item which you should consider carrying on your person is a tourniquet. If a catastrophic ax wound occurs where sever bleeding will result in death, this is your only option to see your family again. Practice applying this device on your own body before you actually need it.

A personalized first aid kit will treat the most common injuries such as scrapes, bumps, blisters, and bruises. I carry large sterile bandages, gauze rolls, and Band-Aids. My tourniquet fits in my cargo pocket of my kilt or pants. A few other items I include in my ziplock first aid bag are:

  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Wound dressing
  • Tweezers and needle – mostly for tick removal, ugh
  • Aspirin, proven to assist in heart attack treatment
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for stinging/biting insects – plantain isn’t always available in the woods and I don’t react well to stings
  • This ziplock first aid kit rides in my haversack along with other kit items for core temperature control and comfort – more info on these items can be found here

6.) Losing Your Head

A sharp hunk of steel flying freely through space is a scary sight… if you happen to spot it. It’s like shooting an arrow straight overhead and wondering where it will stick. Ax heads give an ample warning to observant axmen. A slight gap appears where the ax eye was seated on the handle. Continuing work with this slight slippage is full of hazards. Stop, re-seat the head, and pound a metal step wedge into the top of the handle. My working axes aren’t pretty, but they are tightly fit cutting tools.

How to Mitigate the 6 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Step wedges added in the field on my favorite double bit. Looks gnarly but hold this working ax head on securely.

Don’t lose your head! Take great care to keep your ax sharp and securely attached to the handle.

If you’re even slightly tempted by any of these deadly sins, put your ax down before you meet your Maker.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Mitigate the 6 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

Click here to view the original post.

by Todd Walker

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Casey Deming, GeorgiaBushcraft.com

On the heels of my ax-work classes at the Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering, I wanted to cover some of the risks of swinging a tree clever. It’s our job to mitigate some of the risk. Even then, accidents happen.

At the Gathering, my buddy, Karl, shared a recent ax injure he incurred when his ax glanced from the wood he was splitting. He graciously, or not so gracious if you have a weak stomach, allowed me to share his injure here for educational purposes.

********* WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF BLOOD AND A OPENED FOOT **********

The ax glanced and struck Karl on the top of his left foot severing one bone completely and halfway through the second bone.

The two bones circled took the brunt of the blow.

A nasty ax gash.

Shoes, even leather boots, aren’t much of a deterrent to a sharp ax.

Stitched and cleaned up.

The photos above make it crystal clear how dangerous a moving ax can be. However, not all injuries to wood choppers come from the business end of the ax meeting flesh, or from negligence. Trees don’t always cooperate. They’re known to drop dead limbs on unsuspecting victims below. Trees and axes are not to blame. They do what they do without malice or remorse.

Taking an ax to the woods with the intent of chopping is serious business. 99% of my ax work is done alone in the woods. Even though I try to employ best-practices, the risk of becoming a victim is always in the forefront of my mind. I’m no expert and my ax-related advice should not be trusted but verified through experience.

5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

Vernon Law is credited with saying, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

We can never eliminate all the dangers of swinging an ax. We can only lessen the gravity of missing the mark through commonsense risk management. The good news is… true repentance will change your actions, and, hopefully, save you from the pain of these painful mistakes.

1.) Arrogance

“Only the penitent man shall pass.” ~ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The toughest woodsman is no match for tonnes of wood crashing to the forest floor. Even a wrist-size limb falling from 50 feet above can crush a shoulder or skull. While toughness is a fine virtue, be humble. The moment an axman approaches his work with superiority and a been-there-done-that attitude is the moment he gets blindsided.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confident ax skills inspire. Arrogance will get you hurt or killed. This holds true more so for seasoned axmen than beginners, and, in my experience, men over women.

2.) Entanglements and Hang Ups

Any obstruction in the ax swing arc must be cleared before work begins. Check overhead for nearby limbs and vines which may snag and deflect an ax in mid swing. I’m obsessive about removing the smallest twig when standing on top of logs to buck. I figure if I’m swinging inside my frontal zone (described below) inches from my feet, I can’t afford a stroke to veer.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A screen shot from a recent video of an overhead limb which snagged my ax.

Fell enough trees and you’ll have one hang up mid-fall. My first strategy, if the tree butt didn’t release from the hinge, is to try to free it from the stump. Some times the impact on the ground will jar the hang up loose. If not, I’ve had some success moving the butt of the tree backward using a long lever pole. Place the lever under the butt end and lift repeatedly to slide the tree butt backwards until it releases.

A safer and less strenuous way is to use a come-along attached to an anchor behind the tree stump. Without a modern come-along, a powerful winch can be made from two logs and a rope/cable. Ratchet the tree butt until it releases. You may be tempted to cut the offending tree which caused the hang up. This is a high-risk endeavor. Be sure to have all your medical/life insurance up to date. You and/or your surviving family will likely need it.

One hazard I hope to never encounter again was the yellow jacket sting between my eyes on my downward stroke in the video below. You’re only defense is to run like you stole something!

3.) No Exit Strategy

When felling trees with an ax or saw, preparing two or three escape routes is wise. When the tree begins its decent, get out of Dodge on a pre-determined path. The safest exit is at 30 degree angles from the back notch of the tree. Put your back against the tree and extend your arms like you’re about to give your mama a hug. Your arms are pointing to your best escape paths. Next safest is in a line opposite of the direction of fall. If this path is chosen, or the only option, put great distance between you and the stump to prevent a kickback from nailing your body to the ground.

Escaping perpendicular to the line of fall increases the risk of being struck by falling limbs from adjacent trees. I’ve witnessed trees “jump” and roll several feet to the side of the stump hinge by contacting adjacent tree limbs during the fall. Another overlooked danger is a dead spot halfway up the tree which breaks and falls back toward the woodsman as the bottom half falls in the direction of its lay. Be vigilant, drop your ax, and sprint for your life.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fortunately this log snapped halfway up and fell sideways from where I was standing.

4.) Violating the Frontal Zone

There are two basic ax swings: lateral and vertical. Certain guidelines should be followed for each swing. Take a look at the diagram below to better understand your frontal zone.

Adapted from The Ax Book

In The Ax Book, which I recommend you devour until the pages are dog-eared, Dudley Cook describes the frontal zone as two parallel lines running along side the outside edges of your feet when chopping. All lateral swings should be outside the parallel lines, always. The inertia of an ax in full, extended-arm swing only stops when acted upon by an external force. The ax head has a stopping point, and that point could be your body if you disregard the frontal zone guidelines.

There are two relatively “safe” strokes one can make within the frontal zone: a.) backed up, and b.) bucking. The backed up stroke is what beginning choppers are most familiar – splitting wood on a chopping block. The solid chopping block offers a backstop for the moving ax. Of course, as in Karl’s case above, there remains inherit dangers. Watch our video below to gain some safety tips for splitting firewood, the most common ax-work of campers and homesteaders.

Bucking is simply separating a log into lengths. The diameter of the log to be bucked determines my technique. Larger diameter logs (12+ inch range) allow me to stand on top to cut two V notches. Swings are always below my feet. If I miss my intended target below my feet, my body is out of harms way.

I stand on the ground to buck smaller diameter logs. The log itself is my back up. Accuracy is essential at the top of the bucked notch when your feet are on the ground. Even though the log is between you and your legs, miss the top of the notch and you now have a non-backed up swing in the frontal zone… and a very bad ending.

Another video of ours demonstrates the importance of accuracy on the top of notch cuts when bucking on the ground…

A third stroke in the frontal zone, which I’ll mention, but do not recommend, is the most dangerous and best performed with a saw. Situations arise where a high limb needs to be removed. My risk management strategy is to choke up on my ax handle with one hand and strike the limb at a 45 degree angle without completely severing the limb. A few lighter followup blows usually separates the limb. My forward hand gives me more breaking power as the ax follows through.

5.) Washed in the Blood

“All bleeding eventually stops. The challenge is stopping blood loss before the supply runs out.”

~ Mark DeJong, Off Grid Medic

Injuries related to axes and trees can be deadly. A first aid kit should be in close proximity to your work area. One item which you should consider carrying on your person is a tourniquet. If a catastrophic ax wound occurs where sever bleeding will result in death, this is your only option to see your family again. Practice applying this device on your own body before you actually need it.

A personalized first aid kit will treat the most common injuries such as scrapes, bumps, blisters, and bruises. I carry large sterile bandages, gauze rolls, and Band-Aids. My tourniquet fits in my cargo pocket of my kilt or pants. A few other items I include in my ziplock first aid bag are:

  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Wound dressing
  • Tweezers and needle – mostly for tick removal, ugh
  • Aspirin, proven to assist in heart attack treatment
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for stinging/biting insects – plantain isn’t always available in the woods and I don’t react well to stings
  • This ziplock first aid kit rides in my haversack along with other kit items for core temperature control and comfort – more info on these items can be found here

6.) Losing Your Head

A sharp hunk of steel flying freely through space is a scary sight… if you happen to spot it. It’s like shooting an arrow straight overhead and wondering where it will stick. Ax heads give an ample warning to observant axmen. A slight gap appears where the ax eye was seated on the handle. Continuing work with this slight slippage is full of hazards. Stop, re-seat the head, and pound a metal step wedge into the top of the handle. My working axes aren’t pretty, but they are tightly fit cutting tools.

How to Mitigate the 6 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Step wedges added in the field on my favorite double bit. Looks gnarly but hold this working ax head on securely.

Don’t lose your head! Take great care to keep your ax sharp and securely attached to the handle.

If you’re even slightly tempted by any of these deadly sins, put your ax down before you meet your Maker.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Homemade Liquid Hand Soap

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com I tend to get itchy, chapped hands so I wanted to see if I can make an inexpensive liquid hand that is gentle and non-drying.  I am a big fan of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Magic Soap, as you can see from this review.   So I used the soap bar version as a base for my liquid hand soap.  Here is what I did. Ingredients: 1 bar of soap – I used Dr. Bronner’s […]

The post Homemade Liquid Hand Soap appeared first on Apartment Prepper.

Prepping Up in Texas!

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Prepping Up in Texas!
David Jones “Prepping Up with the Jones “Audio player provided!

This week Dave follows up his show from Chicago by traveling to Mesquite Texas. Dave speaks at the Self Reliance Expo both Friday and Saturday. He will have the latest in new Prepper products, interviews and the best deals that can be found.

Listen to this broadcast or download “Prepping Up in Texas” in player below!

Continue reading Prepping Up in Texas! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Brute Force vs Finesse: The Art of Working Axes

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by Todd Walker

Brute Force vs Finesse: The Art of Working Axes - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Didi Davis

Less than a century ago, woodsmen skilled with an ax could chop wood all day and return to do it again, day after day. They were held in high esteem and highly sought after. Power saws and combustion engines sent yesteryear’s axes to hang on old barn walls. Today the usefulness of axes seems to be limited to splitting firewood… or, for the lumber sexual, as boutique wall-hangers.

How you choose to acquire wood is up to you. However, the steps of cutting timber hasn’t changed. A tree must be felled, limbed, bucked, and hauled. Like other aficionados of working axes, I enjoy experimenting with the potential of our most under-appreciated tool in the woods.

It doesn’t take long for the ax handle to transmit to an inexperienced axman’s brain, and his muscular system, that brute force only dulls the functionality of this tool. Fatigue and frustration are the result. And injury is not far behind. There are no secrets to becoming a proficient axman. However, there are a few techniques and strategies I’ve learned over the years which may shorten the learning curve.

Giving unsolicited advice is not my thing. But if you’d like to continue, here’s my take on thick ax handles, brute force, and working axes.

Heavy, Stupid, and Unreasoning

Watching a beginner axman swing is painful. I cringe when I think back on some of my early ax work. But ax-manship can only be improved through swinging sharp steel on the end of a stick. Like any other skill, practice makes permanent; whether good or bad.

When asked to coach someone new to the art of ax work, I try to convey the two types of force used – finesse and brute force. The origin of the word brute comes from the Latin word brutus, meaning “heavy, stupid, unreasoning.” Set the macho aside in ax work and you get a beautiful, rhythmic relationship between the wood and axman.

Muscling through wood is a white-knuckle affair. I broke my favorite double bit handle last year, not by over-strike or mishit, but by stupidly applying my full force throughout initial contact. The handle was thin, flexible, and a joy to use. Brute force ended its usefulness. It is now taped together and serves as a pattern when thinning down fat factory double bit handles.

Brute Force vs Finesse: The Art of Working Axes - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bucking eastern red cedar with the tuned handle on my best double bit.

Simply reducing my forward force just before the moment of impact would have allowed the inertia of the axhead to do the work. Giving that extra “push” through the strike does more harm than good. You’ll not only save ax handles, you’ll reduce some shock sent up the handle. A thinner handle flexes to help absorb and reduce the beating on your body. At least that has been my experience. Wielding an ax with brute force is not how the old timers lasted all day, day after day. This type of finesse is seldom mentioned or passed down to inexperienced axmen.

The resurgence of interest in axes is encouraging to see in outdoorsy groups. Axes are chic, sexy, and scary – all reasons we like them. The novice buys a high dollar ax and proceeds to break the fat factory handle, even after adding a bulky leather over-strike collar. Handle manufactures compensate for low Ax I.Q. with fatter handles. And then again, the age of working axes was so long ago that even commercial handle makers have no reference point as to what a handle should look like and feel like in the hands.

Thicker, modern handles are not the cure. Wrapping your hands around these clubs makes the uninitiated think they’ll never break. Stephen Edholm makes a logical argument (from actual experience with working axes) for thinner handles in the video below. Anyone who chopped all day with an ax will echo the same.

No replacement handle I’ve ever bought in recent memory was ready to hang and go to work. To be fair, there may be some turnkey handles out there. I’ve never found them. I either make my own or customize the club-like handles from hardware stores. Then there’s the rare occasion of finding that forgotten ax at an antique store or yard sale grandpa used before the chainsaw came along.

You can see the noticeable difference between the modern and old working ax handle below.

Power vs Finesse

On occasion, I have split toothpicks (Stim-U-Dent – matchstick size toothpicks) with my ax. I don’t say this to brag. It is, however, a lesson in muscle memory, striking where I look, and relaxing at the end of my swing. Knowing I’m not chopping heavy wood, I began to notice that I was unconsciously easing up about halfway into the downward arc of my natural swing. As a result, I’d hit my mark more times than not.

Brute Force vs Finesse: The Art of Working Axes - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Striking where you look.

The human brain is a beautimus, complicated computer. Since few people actually use axes, baseball may help illustrate the point. A pitcher doesn’t aim the baseball as it leaves his outstretched arm. The ball is thrown, not aimed. There’s a significant difference in the two. The same goes for batting. I coached my players to throw their hands at the ball. This is oversimplified. But the brain tells a player when to grip the bat tightly and when to relax the grip. A death grip at the beginning of the swing tightens the muscles in the arms, shoulders, and upper torso causing the swing to be herky jerky. As a result, accuracy plummets since the “flow” is lost. Through years of drills, coordination, practice, and timing, batters learn that aiming won’t hit the target.

I don’t aim my ax. I look at the exact spot I want my blow to land. I then throw my hands through an imaginary plane from my nose to the small target. My only swing thought is “strike where I look.” My natural, controlled swing gets the job done more efficiently. Once you can strike where you look, power will follow accuracy.

Accuracy and Precision

Wasted ax strikes are frustrating and exhausting. Making every blow count takes a combination of accuracy and precision. At first glance, the two words seem the same. But in my world of teaching math and science, they have different meanings. Let’s apply them to working axes.

Accuracy is how close you come to the desired result. Precision is how consistently you get the same result using the same method. Translated to ax-manship, does my swing hit the target and is it consistent enough to repeatedly hit the target?

When bucking, I try to overlap each cut in a three to four swing pattern (depending on log diameter) down the face of the log. This overlapping pattern opens wood fibers to help prevent the ax bit from get stuck in the wood. Repeat this cutting pattern one double bit length wide from the first line of cuts. If accuracy and precision is dialed in, chips the size of the notch will go flying.

Developing accuracy and precision with working axes is like hauling logs, you gotta really want to do it. There’s not a lot of finesse in log hauling.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

FIVE REASONS TO KEEP A BOLT KIT CACHED AT YOUR WORKPLACE

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You never know when or where you may find yourself in an emergency (or worse) situation, but the odds are that it won’t happen when you are comfortably at home with every member of your family in your line of sight and all of your gear and emergency supplies just feet away.  It is much more likely that you will be away from home, at work, or even in your vehicle when the balloon goes up.  The S could HTF at any time and we must remain ready to respond.  With that mind, here are five reasons to keep a BOLT (survival/preparedness) kit cached at your workplace.

 

CIVIL UNREST

We live in a fractured world these days.  A world in which any number of flashpoints could splinter the thin veneer of societal peace can instantly fall away like so many shards of broken glass.  You can never know exactly when, where, or how this unrest may manifest itself and it could even spill out into the streets around where you are located.  According to the 2010 census, 80% of the U.S. population now lives in urban areas.  It is a safe bet that at least that number or greater also work in an urban setting, and since we spend so many hours at work, or commuting to and from work, here in the United States, it’s a pretty safe bet that if you are going to encounter civil unrest or riots in your lifetime, it will be when you are at your workplace.

 

ACTIVE SHOOTER / TERRORISM

A few years ago my building was put on lock down when my workplace was turned into a crime scene because a domestic dispute turned into a murder when an angry male entered the building and shot a female employee several times, killing her instantly.  The murderer was then shot by security forces inside the building.  More recently, myself and my fellow employees were warned that there was a threat from a potential active shooter that lasted several months before he was finally apprehended by authorities.  Due to my chosen profession, journalism, my building will always be a target in today’s world and that is a reality that we must deal with daily.  Even with an armed security force on duty 24 hours a day, this is a very real threat.  Couple the reality that journalists and journalism has long been under attack from many angles with the fact that my workplace is located in the heart of a major metropolitan city, not only is my place of work a potential target for the every day active shooter threat that has now become commonplace in America, but it is also a target for domestic or international terrorism.  This scenario is one that virtually mandates that I have a plan, the skills, and the gear on hand that will give me the best chance to make it home safely to my family at the end of the day.

 

SEVERE WEATHER

Mother Nature plays no favorites as to where and when she will choose to unleash her wrath.  I know this from first hand experience, having survived a direct hit from a tornado while at work about a decade ago.  After this event, communications were down for several hours and vital infrastructure was heavily damaged.  Also, I have been “trapped” at work for several days over the years due to “ongoing” severe winter storms and wound up spending the night at the office with limited access to food.  Even if you do not take the direct hit from a severe storm, your local area may be impacted effectively stranding you at work.  A good example of this would be localized, or even widespread, flooding.  Flood waters can come up in a hurry and whether you recognize the obvious threat that presents as the streets outside your office flooded with feet of water, or the more less obvious danger as access to nearby travel routes prevent you from making it home, the threat is very real regardless.

 

STAGING AREA

You never know when disaster may strike and we must resolve to always be ready.  The situation may be that an emergency begins during your work day that doesn’t necessarily impact your workplace, but impacts the area around your home, in your community, or it may even be a crisis unfolding on a larger, regional or national level, and you have to leave work and head to your designated meeting place outside of work with no time or opportunity to return home.  Because of the built in flexibility offered to you through the tiered system we prescribe here at Practical Tactical will mean that the kit you have built to keep at your workplace is now available to you to use/combine with your Get Home Bag (GHB) and/or your vehicle kit to help you make your way back to your family and other members of your team.

 

EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR / CITIZENSHIP

By having a BOLT (preparedness/survival) kit at my workplace, not only have I given myself a better chance of making it through any emergency situation that may arise during my work day, I am in position to help my fellow employees or other civilians should the opportunity present itself.

Keep in mind that if you work out of your vehicle or you often travel away from the office during your work day, you can easily adjust your kit setup so that it can be kept in your vehicle at all times, in addition to your independent vehicle kit.

 

If you want to better understand my thoughts on personal preparedness, please check out my books HERE and HERE, or wander deeper into this blog.  I hope this website will help you along your way, especially if you’re just getting started.  Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

www.practicaltactical4you.com

Practical Tactical

 

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods

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by Todd Walker

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Image used with permission from the builder, Wiley Log Homes.

We built crude log forts in the woods growing up. They weren’t water tight or warm. The wind would cut through the muddle of sticks and threaten to take your hat off. Those were fun times. A bona fide log cabin was what I dreamed of then… and that dream remains.

At nearly my age (55), Dick Proenneke set out to live in a remote area of Alaska. For 30 years, he lived in a log cabin he built with his own hands. You can learn more of his remarkable legacy of self-reliance and conservation by watching the documentary, Alone in the Wilderness.

For those following my cabin project on my YouTube channel, I’m in the early stage of cutting and debarking logs. I don’t have the luxury of waiting a year or more for peeled logs to season. I could wait but patience isn’t one of my strong suits. I’ll build my little “practice” cabin with green logs. I’ve already been asked in video comments how long I’ll let my logs season before building.

Here’s the thing, I’m not going to use traditional saddle notches to connect corners. I may try my hand at saddle notches on cured/seasoned logs at some point. Until then, my research turned up a little-known (to me at least) construction method which uses green, unseasoned logs in construction. If you’re not familiar with this style, let me introduce you…

Butt and Pass Style Log Cabin

The advantages of using the butt and pass construction technique is it requires little in the way of tools and construction experience for a DiY log cabin builder. I’ve got plenty of construction experience and tools. My dilemma is that I have green logs and want to finish the cabin before the end of the school year. This no-scribe, no-notch method will speed up the construction process.

The top photo of this article is a butt and pass log home built by Wiley Log Homes. Ronnie, the owner, gave me permission to share a few of his beautiful handcrafted log homes here. I hope to have a few shots of my own cabin corners soon. Until then, take a look at the corners of these Wiley Log Homes.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This cabin has a stone basement.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Five foot eves help keep water off the logs.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A good shot of the butt and pass corner style.

No matter what method is used green logs will shrink. However, with tight-pinned butt and pass construction, settling will only happen if the foundation/piers are not properly formed. With each course of logs, holes are drilled through the top log through the bottom log. A length of 1/2″ rebar is driven through the logs (tight-pinned) about every two feet. As the green logs cure and shrink, the logs shrink around their center line. The gaps between the logs increase but the wall height remains the same. Touching up the chinking over the first few years will have to happen as the logs cure, so I’ve read.

Self-Reliance on Trial

I plan to build my cabin with hand tools only. That’s a tall order especially when I have power tools at my disposal. The pioneer method doesn’t trump someone who chooses to use power tools. I have a comfortable home and don’t “need” this cabin. But somewhere, back in my deeper, primal self, I want this cabin, if for nothing more than to put my self-reliance on trial. Who knows, I may not make it through the project using just hand tools. Either way, this project has been brewing in my gut for years and feels good to take the first step.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My cousin said this to me after he saw the first logs de-barked. “Hardest step is the first one. I’ve been told this but usually by someone who ain’t doing the stepping.” ~ Tim Hester. This is a photo of Dick Proenneke peering out of his cabin door (Image credit: National Park Service)

I’ve only bucked and de-barked one pine tree so far. My first attempt at skinning logs was with a draw knife. The tool peeled bark really well but would not be a sustainable method for this old man. I needed a method where I’m not bent over scraping with pine sap flying in my face. Enter the tile scraper. I ground the edge on this old long-handled tool and it’s a far cry better than my draw knife on my back. I’ve been using it like a draw knife, scraping long strips of bark off the length of the logs, but will try peeling whole sections off logs by prying around the round part of the log. Not sure how well this will work since the sap is not rising like in spring time.

Another hand-tool concerns that comes to mind is boring holes to accept the rebar pins. Twisting a half-inch auger through logs can’t be easy. Yet another challenge will be transporting 12 and 14 foot logs to the build site in the woods. I won’t be able to split them in half or into rails the way I did in last year’s Axe Cordwood Challenge. I need draught horses, or oxen. Seriously!

Progress Report

To keep up with the log cabin journey, I’ve created a playlist on my channel titled, Log Cabin Build. Most are mine but a few are of Dick Proenneke’s cabin. I’ll also be updating here on the blog.

This is the last video in the log cabin series. I traded my draw knife for a DiY bark spud…

With only one day per week to work on the cabin, progress is slow. Winter break should offer a few extra work days. Below are some photos of my progress.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A storm blow-over bucked and ready for de-barking.

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two debarked logs.

After the first two logs, I mentioned in my video about the fun you can have debarking logs. In honor of Tom Sawyer’s fence white washing pitch, I had a buddy and his son show up to my first Barking Party. Evan Newsom, first picture below, was the first to party on!

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Tom Sawyer would be so proud!

I even have my school students convinced…

Self-Reliance on Trial: Using Hand Tools to Build a Log Cabin in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Introduced students at RISE to the draw knife. They have acquired a liking for this tool.

Sure appreciate having the physical health to be able to attack this pioneer project. It will take longer to construct using hand tools. Patience may become a strong suit of mine after all is said and done.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture 

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by Todd Walker

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Five years ago, I built Dirt Road Girl an eight foot farmhouse table from dimensional lumber. It served our family well but was really too large for our dinning room. It had a tendency to bruise unsuspecting thighs. For Christmas, a smaller, less aggressive piece of furniture was in order.

From Tree to Table

My nephew, Blake, showed me a standing dead cedar on our family land last year. Easy access since it was just past a field’s edge. Just after Thanksgiving I made the trip south to cut and haul the tree home. I was disappointed after it was on the ground. The trunk was hollow a good portion of the widest table-top material. After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided to buck it anyway and hope to get enough useable live-edge slabs. With the help of two other nephews, Kyle and Casey, the trailer was loaded and headed north.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Barbed wire strands ran through this old cedar on our family farm.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Visited with Mama and Daddy for a while and hauled hollow log back home.

Mill Work

You either pay with time or money when milling lumber. My Alaska chainsaw mill demands a lot of elbow grease and belt sanding to achieve a smooth surface on lumber. By the first of December I realized I’d better spend some money to save time. My buddy up the street gave me a lead on a man with a large bandsaw mill. Boy, was that mill fancy! It quickly sliced up two-inch thick slabs from three logs like cutting through hot butter. And the surfaces would need only minor sanding.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This is a $50,000 machine. Too rich for my blood but milled up my logs in no time!

Note: Sawn and sanded red cedar may smell delightful, but breathing it has been linked to ill effects on lungs. Wear appropriate respirators or dust masks when working with red cedar.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Finding four useable boards from a hollow tree was a challenge.

Sizing up my slabs, I knew I’d have to use the lumber or find and fell a tree with a solid trunk. No time for that. Dirt Road Girl and I chose what we thought would be best for her new table. I went to work figuring out how to fill the holes and save the character of this cedar on our family farm.

Ripping Live Edge Lumber

My tree wasn’t near wide enough to use only one slab as the table top. I would need four boards, two outside with a live edge, and two square edge boards joined in the middle.

How do you rip a straight line on boards without one side being square? My table saw died but wouldn’t be much good anyway squaring live edge sides. A square side is needed to run along the fence of a table saw. My solution? I laid a seven-foot straight edge (aluminum square stock) on the slab and eyeballed where the square edge should be cut. I marked the cut line and then clamped the aluminum straight edge 1 and 3/16th inches off the line which would put the blade of my circular saw on the cut line. Ripping commenced.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Straight edges ripped on the lumber.

With at least one square edge on each of the four boards, I marked the ends using a framing square and cut the boards six feet long. A two foot level was clapped on the ends with the same offset described in ripping to ensure a clean cut. You could freehand the cut if you’re that good with a saw. I prefer using a fence to keep it square.

I also ripped more slabs for the table legs. Each of the legs and cross supports was cut with one live edge intact. Again, I used the eyeball method and the straight edge. The leg lumber turned out about 3.5 inches wide by two inches.

Joining the Table Top

My trusty Kreg Jig is meant to be used on 1.5 inch lumber or smaller. My boards were 2 inches thick. I monkeyed around with the jig to modify it for 2 inch boards. I used the longest pocket screws, meant for 1.5 lumber, which worked fine on all the glued joints. I tested the pocket joinery on two scrap pieces beforehand.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A view of the bottom side glued, screwed, and clamped.

Once the top is glued and screwed, you’ll need clamps to hold it all together. I used two pipe clamps and a vintage bar clamp to squeeze the top together overnight. The next morning I hit the top with my belt sander – 80 grit and then 120. To remove bark from the live edges, I use a side grinder with a wire wheel. I do this on my cedar benches as well. Then I use an orbital sander to smooth up scratches left by the wire brush.

Table Frame

This step is a simple “H” frame. You could go fancy but simple suits DRG. I secured a cedar 2×4 (all sides squared) about a foot in from both ends under the table. These pieces served as cleats to attach the legs and frame.

Flip the table over with the bottom up. Saw horses are helpful. We wanted a 30 inch high table. I cut four legs 28 inches each. Use a framing square to plumb each leg. I glued and screwed the legs to the ends of the 2×4 cleats with the live edge facing the ends of the table. No Kreg Jig pocket holes needed on these joints since they’re hidden under the table.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A simple H frame attached for legs.

Add two cross pieces (live edge up) between each pair of legs. Pocket holes and screws were facing toward the middle of the table and filled with glue and wood pegs. They were secured about 12 inches from the bottom of the legs. Just make both match on each set of legs.

Next, I centered the long crossbar on both of the previously installed cross pieces, checking for plumb legs again. Drill pocket holes, glue, and screw. Leave live edge facing up when table is set on the floor.

By the way, it’s easier to sand the “H” frame before installation. You can go back and sand pocket wood plugs flush after the glue dries.

Hole Filler Fiasco 

What a horror story. I didn’t do my homework on hole fillers. I read somewhere that epoxy will do the trick. My idea was to fill the holes with clear epoxy. Gorilla Brand epoxy, the kind with two push syringes, don’t dry clear – no matter what it says on the package. Actually looked like puss in a wound. I discovered this disturbing fact after stripping the shelves clean in our little town of the stuff and filling holes and crevasses. Stupid of me not to test it on scrap wood. I was sick and told DRG that I might have to go find another cedar tree to mill. Time was running out in Santa’s workshop.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Remnants of painters tape outlining ‘clear’ Gorilla epoxy.

To remove the nastiness which had bonded in every nook and cranny, I spent the day with a heat gun and a variety of paint scrapers whittling and digging “puss” from this beautiful wood. Crank the heat gun on high and keep the heat moving over the target area. When warmed/hot, epoxy will turn loose with some determined coaxing.

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This paint scraper has multiple heads and sizes which came in handy.

Table Top Finish

After fixing the fiasco, I purchased a self-leveling epoxy called Glaze Coat. By now I was apprehensive as to how any product would work. Some of the knot holes went all the way through the table top. The live edge could not be boarded to allow a pour like one might do on a rectangular bar top. One table end presented a couple of crevasses which I attached boards to using painters tape and waxed freezer paper. This would hopefully dam up the epoxy until it sets.

I followed the detailed instructions on the box for mixing. Poured epoxy into all holes and prayed it would set clear. I waved my heat gun over the pours to release trapped air bubbles which form in the mixing process.

The next morning all was good. The clear epoxy revealed all the interior details of the holes and highlighted the character of this old cedar tree. My attention was now directed to raised areas where I had poured.

Since I couldn’t fence in liquid epoxy on a live edge table to cover the raised epoxy over the holes, I hesitantly decide to sand the areas flat along with the table end. The progression went from 80 grit to 400 on my belt and orbital sanders. From there I used 600, 1,000, and finally, 1,500 grit on hand-held drywall sanders – the same grits I use to sharpen my axes. It was a tedious process of replacing sets of scratches until the surface was clear. It worked.

Wipe all dust from the table with a damp rag a few times before starting the next step…

Pouring a 1/8th inch layer of epoxy on the top, as recommended in the instructions, was not an option for live edges. I bought the cheapest “nice” oil brush as a sacrificial applicator. Chip brushes will shed bristles. Mix another batch of epoxy and bush a thick coat on the table top. The product is self-leveling so brush strokes will flatten. This top coat blended in well with the epoxied holes and made the colors pop!

Tree to Table: Building Live Edge Dining Room Furniture ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Merry Christmas, Dirt Road Girl!

Apply a coat on the live edges while your brushing. Obviously, you’ll want a drop cloth under your project. Be vigilant as the top coat levels over the live edges. Blend any runs/drips on the live edges with a brush. You’ll have about a 30 minute time frame as the top coat levels and sets. In the meantime, use a heat gun or propane torch to remove air bubbles on the top coat.

As a side note, one of the holes, not completely patched from underneath, dripped a 12 inch pool of epoxy on my uncovered shop floor. Let it dry and scrape it up the next day. It’ll break up by chiseling under the edges.

For the “H” frame legs, I bushed a few coats of polyurethane left over from my cedar bench projects. I’ve never been so relieved to have a project completed. What matters most was that Dirt Road Girl was happy, too!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

5 Medical Uses for Raw Honey

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I’ve written about the health benefits of honey, but it also has many other uses, particularly in survival scenarios. In this video, SkinnyMedic shares 5 ways raw honey can be used for first aid. I typed them up, but be sure to check out the video below for more details. Note: If you try any […]

The post 5 Medical Uses for Raw Honey appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Campfire Cookery: How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire

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by Todd Walker

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Prepping a cook fire depends on what type of cookin’ you’ll be doing and the fuel available. In my area of Georgia, we have an abundance of hardwood to choose from. I’ll describe my experience with wood we burn. Not every area is as fortunate. That doesn’t mean you can’t cook up goodness over a campfire. Use the resources available in your woods.

The problem with campfires is they don’t have a knob to dial the heat up or down like a kitchen stove. Learning to managing your cook fire for what you’re cooking is key. If all you’re having is ramen noodles and hot cocoa, a hot burning twig fire will get the job done. Cast iron cooking needs a whole new arrangement of hot coals. Baking biscuits in a reflector oven requires radiant heat from flames.

This is not a comprehensive guide to open-fire cookery. I’ll give you basic guidelines that have worked for me when baking and cooking at fixed camp. If you cook in your kitchen, you can cook over a campfire.

Cooking at a permanent or semi-permanent fixed camp is different than when sauntering from one camp location to the next. This article won’t apply to the ultralight hiker cooking freeze-dried meals with a cup of boiling water. Weight is not as big of an issue if you’re canoe or car camping. So load the equipment you need to whip up stick-to-your-ribs food and take to the woods and streams.

Wood Processing Tools

Charcoal briquette don’t grow on trees. You’ll have to collect wood and make your own coals. An ax and saw are tools you’ll find useful. We have two pages on our blog if you need to hone your ax skills: Ax Cordwood Challenge and The Ax-Manship Series. Our YouTube channel also has instructional videos in a few playlists you may find helpful: The Axe Cordwood Challenge and Ax-Manship.

You need dry/seasoned wood for your cook fire. Look for standing dead trees since you don’t want to wait six to nine months to season your wood. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a good choice for dry kindling in my area. Red cedar works as well. Both burn fast and hot but won’t produce the hot bed of coals you’ll need for grilling. Add hardwoods like oak, hickory, and beech for long burning coals. Can’t always be choosy so use what you have available.

Campfire Cookware

Improvising in the woods is often what happens to get food cooked. No need to if you bring the cookware needed for meals. Keep in mind that we’ve got a way to tote this stuff; car, canoe, mule, etc., etc.

My load of cooking stuff is in a constant state of evolution. But I think I’ve settled on a system. Tim Smith of Jack Mountain Bushcraft introduced me to stainless steel milk pails a few years ago in his book, The Woods Cook. As a Master Maine Guide, Tim has been feeding folks professionally over an open fire since 1999.

Below are a few items I use to cook at fixed camp and our outdoor classroom at RISE Academy…

  • Cast Iron skillet
  • Steel Fry Pan: Lighter than cast but doesn’t cook as evenly
  • Stainless Steel Pails: 2 quart with six-inch rim (6 inch pie tin for lids), and a 9 quart with a nine-inch rim (9 inch pie tin for lid)
  • Pot/Lid Lifter makes it easy to handle pails and lids when hot
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven: 10.5 inch with a flanged lid and three legs
  • Improvised Reflector Oven: Stainless steel drywall mud pan is large enough to bake a few muffins/biscuits/cookies at a time
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil: Great for hobo meals
Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Top row left to right: 9 quart SS pail with pie pan lid, 2-two quart pails with pie pan lids, coffee tin. 2nd Row: cold handle steel skillet, square cast iron skillet, dry wall mud pan. Bottom: 10.5 inch dutch oven in a box with lid lifter.

Most folks I know take only one pot to save pack space when camping on foot. Having two or more pots is a game changer around the campfire. The beauty of these milk pails is that they nest together decreasing the footprint when compared to the several cylindrical cook pots. This is a space-saving advantage if you’re traveling on foot or any other means of transportation. The pie pan lids also double as plates when you’re ready to eat.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Both 2 quart pails nest inside each other and fit in the 9 quart pail with room for other items if necessary.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The end result of nesting.

Managing Cooking Fires

You’d best process or collect enough kindling-size wood to keep your heat steady. Once lit, keep adding kindling sticks to maintain a robust fire that eats through the top of your fire lay. Take advantage of these hot flames by hanging a pot of water from a cooking tripod for coffee, tea, or cocoa. A second pot can be added to disinfect drinking water.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cowboy coffee on.

Once your fuel has burned long enough to produce a nice bed of coals, drag or scoop a pile of hot coals from main fire. When grilling meat at fixed camp, I’ll use two green wrist-size sticks (if I can’t find my metal pipe) to support a grill grate over the coals. Adjust the height of your grate up or down for temperature control. No grate available? Lay the steak directly on the hot coals. Sounds unsanitary but I end up eating a little ash in most of my camp meals anyway.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I keep a grill grate at fixed camp for times such as these. Bacon wrapped filets!

For a camp dutch oven with three legs on the bottom, sprinkle coals on top of the flanged lid and around the perimeter at the bottom of the oven. With experience, you’ll learn to adjust the amount of coals to control the temperature of whatever you’re cooking. You can’t count wild coals like store-bought briquettes.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

At a recent Georgia Bushcraft work weekend, Jeff and Melonie cooked two delicious dutch oven cobblers and shared with the cold, hungry crew!

To bake small servings of baked goods, I found that a stainless steel drywall mud pan does the trick. Place the reflector oven on the ground level with your fire. The drywall pan isn’t really large enough for a baking rack. You need radiant heat from flames for baking. Stoke the fire with your driest kindling sticks so that the flames cover the opening of your reflector oven throughout the baking process.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

DRG and I baking cookies on our date night in the woods.

To gauge the heat entering your reflector oven, place you palm just in front of the oven and count to 5 quickly. If you reach 5 before nerves in the back of your hand tell your brain to jerk out of the heat, you’re at a good baking temperature (around 350 F). Any lower in the 5-count and the temperature in your oven is above baking temperature.

I fill cupcake liners with cornbread mix and place them directly on the bottom of the pan. Rotate the muffin tins as needed to brown and cook evenly. This diy oven has no handles so be careful when lifting it from the fire’s edge. Thick leather gloves or a pot/lid lifter, described above, are recommended.

Hanging Pots

At my fixed camp, I prefer a bipod system instead of a tripod for hanging pots over the fire. Two sturdy poles are lashed together with a long pole (waugan stick) laid in the top of the crotch. The other end of the waugan is lashed (loosely) to a tree opposite my fire pit. Minor height adjustments can be made to the waugan by spreading or closing the bipod. You can also swing the entire system off the fire safely by lifting and moving the bipod while the opposite end of the waugan pivots around the tree.

Of course, if you don’t have a tree near your fire pit, a tripod system may be your best option. Add a crossbar to the tripod to suspend more pots.

If you favor traditional woodcraft style, here’s our article on carving several useful pot hooks. I use carved pot hooks and modern chain to hang pots from my pot suspension system. Carving your own pot hooks boosts your knife skills considerably. Use whatever suits you.

Plate and Enjoy

The entire experience of cooking over an open fire, collecting firewood, starting your fire, managing the flames, and timing the meal is a celebration of sorts. Everything doesn’t always go as planned, but that happens in the kitchen, too. I’ve had some major flops in camp cooking. In the end though, and you’ve probably heard it said, food tastes better flavored with woodsmoke from campfires.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hobo packet of potatoes and onions with filets.

Serve your food up on warm plates. I lay my 9 inch pie tins on coals or propped up near flickering flames just before the last recipe is done. Nothing disappoints like what used to be hot cheese eggs on a cold plate. My daddy always said, “It just ain’t right! Ya gotta eat ’em hot.”

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Bugging Out Equipment List. WHAT & WHY.

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I decided to post this because when I read lists of other people’s modern equipment for bugging out I often see items that I can’t make sense of. Items that are NOT sustainable & seem of very little use. Some say “well I use this until it breaks & then I throw it away”. The problem with that is that this equipment has taken up room, added weight to the pack, can leave sign to track you by if you don’t dispose of it properly, & meanwhile you could have used this space & weight to either carry a better piece of equipment, or you could have left it out & saved room & weight. If you can afford to throw it away, then you don’t need it in the first place.

Anyway, here is my list. Please feel free to comment, different people sometimes see things in a different way & I like to hear other people’s point of view.

My Equipment List. WHAT & WHY.

.62 cal/20 gauge flintlock fusil. 42 inch barrel.

Why?  Large calibre smoothbore has a lot of knock down power with a round ball, very versatile using bird shot, buckshot, or round ball or a combination of any two of these, able to use other projectiles found in nature, only requires a siliceous rock for ignition which can be found in nature, the lock is easy to repair, if the lock breaks & there are no spare parts I can use it as a matchlock or tinderlock & keep using it, I can use the lock to make fire without the use of gunpowder, I can make my own black powder, I can retrieve spent lead from shot game & reuse it, I can mould my own round ball & shot.

.70 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistol.

Why? Same as above fusil, light to carry, easy to use, good for a back-up & self defence.

Gun tools and spare lock parts.

Why? To keep my firearms working long term.

Shot pouch and contents.

Why? For maintaining & using my firearms.

Leather drawstring pouch of .60 caliber ball (in knapsack).

Why? Back-up supply.

Powder horn.

Why? For carrying gunpowder for immediate use with firearms.

Ball mould, swan shot mould & Lead ladle.

Why? So I can reuse spent lead by remoulding.

5 Gunpowder wallets.

Why? For carrying extra gunpowder, the leather wallet is lighter than a powder horn, once empty they are good for storing spare tinder for fire lighting.

Butcher/Hunting knife.

Why? A good basic working knife made for skinning & butchering game, good self defence knife, long blade but light to carry & use.

Legging knife.

Why? Good back-up knife for hunting & self defence, easy to access, light to use & carry.

Clasp knife.

Why? Good back-up knife, mainly used for camp chores, making kettle hooks, making trap parts, easy to carry.

Tomahawk.

Why? Lighter than a modern hatchet, the helve fits in a round or oval eye & is easy to make in a wilderness situation, the helve can easily be removed to use the head on its own for making a new helve or scraping hides for making leather or rawhide, good for trap making, good for hammering, can be thrown for hunting, defence, offence & entertainment.

Fire bag.

Why? Greased leather waterproof  bag for keeping my tinderbox & contents dry.

Tinderbox.

Why? For preparing plant & fungi tinders for flint & steel fire lighting, contains prepared tinder for fire lighting, is used for fire lighting by striking sparks into the tinderbox.

Flint & Steel. (NOTE: Not a ferocerium rod).

Why? For making fire. This method is sustainable long term.

Belt pouch.

Why? This pouch is carried on the waist belt at all times & contains my fire bag, my fishing tackle container, my sundial compass & my fire steel/striker which is tied to the pouch buckle.

Fishing tackle in brass container.

Why? For fishing & for trapping fowl.

Two brass snares.

Why? Small game snares for trapping .

Roll of brass snare wire.

Spare wire for making small game snares, can be used for making leaders for angling, can be used for repair work.

Knapsack.

Main pack for carrying equipment & food supplies, carries my blanket roll & oil cloth shelter & secures my market wallet.

Scrip.

Why? This haversack is carried just for foraging purposes. I often forage along the trail when trekking.

Market Wallet.

Why? This is secured under the flap closure of my knapsack & is used to carry extra items. This wallet can also be carried indendently.

Tin Cup.

Why? For drinking tea & eating food.

Kettle (Billy Can).

Why? For boiling water for sterilising & making tea, for cooking.

Water filter bags (cotton & linen bags).

Why? For filtering dirty drinking water before boiling, light & compact & easy to carry, unbreakable.

Medical pouch.

Why? Contains medical equipment & supplies, lighter than a hard container, easy to pack & carry in my knapsack near the top.

Housewife.

Why? This is my sewing kit for making repairs to clothing, making moccasins, needles can be used to remove splinters & if necessary to stitch wounds.

Piece of soap and a broken ivory comb.

Why? For bathing & looking after my hair.

Dried foods in bags.

Why? Dried foods are lighter to carry, easy to pack & preserve well for long periods.

Wooden spoon.

Why? For cooking & eating, light to carry.

Compass.

Why? A compass makes it easier to tell direction on very overcast days & nights, makes it easier to maintain a straight direction & travel quicker.

Whet stone.

Why? For keeping my blades sharp, for working on gun lock parts if needed.

Small metal file.

Why? Same as whet stone above.

Oilcloth.

Why? The oil cloth is for making a quick shelter, easy to set up & versatile, enables me to use a fire for cooking & warmth close to my bed, can be used as a rain coat, can be used for water collection, can be used to make a boat, gives me more vision around me & an easy exit if needed.

One pure wool blanket (Monmouth cap, spare wool waistcoat and wool shirt rolled inside blanket).

Why? The blanket roll is easy to carry, does not restrict my movement/escape at night like a sleeping bag will, can be used as a matchcoat, can be used as a Great Coat, retains body warmth even when wet, light to carry.

Spare pair of moccasins.

Why? To wear if my other pair get wet, to wear whilst I make repairs on the other pair, to wear if the other moccasins need replacing & whilst I make a new pair.

Two water canteens.

Why? For carrying drinking water.

Bottle of rum.

Why? Only a small bottle but I like a tot of rum & it helps me relax a little.

25 Survival Uses for T-Shirts

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Survivalism isn’t just about gathering supplies. It’s also about making use of everything around you–or on you–in a survival scenario. As you’ll see in this video by Sensible Prepper, even a simple T-shirt has at least a couple dozen survival applications. Here’s the list, but I recommend watching the video below so you can see […]

The post 25 Survival Uses for T-Shirts appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Tuning the Gray Matter

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by Leslie Hill

Tuning the Gray Matter ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A person might possess the most popular Swedish axe on the planet and tallied up countless hours on the YouTube watching bushcrafting axe videos, but if that person hasn’t gotten out and actually used it, they’d be no better than an armchair quarterback (and that’s putting it nicely). Okay, I know that sounds like a no-brainer of a statement, but I’m not just talking about taking the axe out, splitting some kindling, and calling it good. What I’m talking about building adaptability, muscle memory, and keeping yourself ‘left of bang’. The only way to achieve any of it is through practice.

Equipment and knowledge are rendered useless without practice.

This commentary is not about gear, skills, or credentials. It is about the most important and complex survival tool you have in your inventory. It’s about your brain. It’s about tuning your brain to function in any number of situations, tuning it to function in an emergency, which ultimately will keep you out of trouble.

For those who may not be familiar with the phrase, left of bang, it’s a reference to situational awareness and being proactive versus reactive. The ‘bang’ is a bad event, be it an IED or an ambush. Finding yourself right of bang means you’re reacting to a bad event that has occurred. The right of bang environment is typically wickedly chaotic, which serves an invitation for just more bad stuff to come in and jack up your day.

Full Exposure

As a single dad, one of the primary tools I used to prepare my daughter and son for adulthood was the expansion of their comfort zones. Plans were never cancelled due to weather. If a planned a hike and a picnic were paired with a 90% chance of rain, we executed our plans anyway. Yes, the first couple of times (for them) were complete disasters, but they learned from the experience. It didn’t take long before my two elementary school-aged children were packing their trash better than some of the Marines I knew. They learned the value of zip-lock and heavy duty trash bags. They learned to organize the gear in their packs similarly, so that everyone in the group knew exactly where something was in someone else’s pack. They also learned how footing on various terrain changes when it’s wet… stuff you can only learn by getting out there and doing it. We have camped and hunted in the rain, snow, and in temperatures below freezing. I did this not only to teach them how to operate in harsh conditions, but to also develop the ability to think ahead. The experiences taught them what to expect, which gave them the insight to prepare for the unexpected.

Experience is a prerequisite for adaptability.

One of my most used expressions is, “There’s more than one way to skin a rabbit”. For those who suddenly had a visual of Thumper dangling by his feet, what I mean is that there is always more than one solution to a problem. There are a number of techniques one may use to start a camp fire, all of which share a common concept in the actual ‘building’ of the fire. Knowing the concept is not enough. Based on what I’ve stated up to this point, you’ll probably think that I’m going to suggest that you practice the various techniques in various weather conditions. If you did, then you’re tracking with me. If you didn’t, you may want to go back to the beginning of my commentary and start over. Go ahead. Do it now. We’ll wait.

Tokens

In the movie, Heartbreak Ridge, Boyd Gaines plays the role of First Lieutenant Ring, an incredibly book-smart officer with no real experience. He understood the concepts of combat and tactics, but had little to no field training or real combat experiences. He was a tactical book worm. On the other end of the spectrum was Gunnery Sergeant Highway (Clint Eastwood) who had more combat experience than he cared to remember. As the platoon sergeant of the Recon platoon, he tries to teach the less than exemplary members of the platoon how to adapt, improvise and overcome an obstacle. He does this in many ways, but one approach was specifically used to engage their brains. He did this by declaring that the platoon will wear the same t-shirt during PT (physical training) as he does, or they will wear no t-shirt at all. They make several attempts to outsmart GySgt Highway, but they missed the mark every time. (Please note that I did NOT use the word ‘fail’. I’ll get to why I did that in a second.) Later in the first half of the movie, Corporal “Stitch” Jones (Mario Van Peebles) discovers the source of GySgt Highway’s PT uniform of the day. That’s about the time 1st Lt. Ring decides to conduct PT with the platoon. He shows up in a white skivvy t-shirt while the rest of the platoon is wearing their black Recon unit t-shirts.

Yah, I know that’s Hollywood, but it illustrates a couple of things. Every attempt the platoon made to figure out what t-shirt to wear was a trial and effort that didn’t pan out. That doesn’t make it a failure. It makes it an experience… a notional token that they could keep in their hip pockets, or in the case of Marines… their cargo pockets. Even that final solution (Cpl Jones’ discovery) should be considered a token. It happened to be the final solution in that scenario, but when added to the other tokens, it becomes part of any number of viable options for future circumstances. These tokens represent experiences. As you build your collection of them, you begin to build options. Options are what made MacGyver look so flippin’ ingenious.

Autopilot Switch

Since I’m on a Hollywood roll, allow me to introduce another 80s classic, The Karate Kid. For those who have had the pleasure of seeing the movie will remember the scene where Daniel (Ralph Macchio) finally realizes that Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) has, in fact, been teaching him an old Okinawan form of self-defense as opposed to coercing him to do all of his chores for him.

As part of the deal to teach Daniel karate, Mr. Miyagi requires Daniel to sand his deck, paint his fence, and wax his car. In doing so, he must also perform each task with very specific and deliberate arm movements. Unbeknownst to Daniel, doing these tasks in this manner is actually building muscle memory for blocking techniques. Unlike the movie, building muscle memory takes a bit longer to achieve. When achieved, it is essentially pre-programmed in your brain housing group (your brain), and will function automatically in emergency situations. For what it’s worth, the same scene in the 2010 remake with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan has a noteworthy closing.

Practice until it becomes a no-brainer.

As an axe enthusiast, I possess a large amount of vintage and modern axes, but I’m not a collector of display pieces. I actually use mine, even the ones over 100 years old. My favorites are the axes that perform exceptionally well at the tasks I typically use in the outdoors. I know how each and every one of my axes performs, because I field test them with a battery of seven tasks. Your tasks may be different. My field testing serves two purposes; 1) it allows me to gauge and compare the performance of each axe, and 2) it allows me to practice these tasks with different types of axes. This second purpose is a hidden gem. You might want to write this one down. Practicing the same seven tasks with different axes helps maintain my adaptability, and it builds muscle memory, which has a synergistic effect of enabling me to perform the seven tasks with any axe in any environmental condition… automatically. No, no, no. I don’t mean like a robot with my eyes closed. I mean the process becomes automatic. Here are the seven tasks of my field test:

  1. Limb
  2. Buck
  3. Hew
  4. Split block ~ billets
  5. Split billets ~ kindling
  6. Split kindling ~ tinder
  7. Carve stake

These seven tasks are organized in the order that I would process firewood. The seventh task is carving a ground stake (piece of kindling sharpened and notched) to test the maneuverability of the axe and to build personal dexterity. The shavings are added to my tinder pile. Repetition builds muscle memory. Having performed my field test over 400 times, I no longer have to think about the seven different steps. These seven steps are now reduced to a single thought… a single token called, Process Firewood.

Wargaming

The more tokens you collect doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to need larger cargo pockets. It means that you will have more options to draw from when presented with a problem that you haven’t faced before. It also means that you will have more information to draw upon to keep you left of bang.

Military tacticians ‘wargame’ by building scenarios (real or notional) with a list of assumptions, which set the stage for coming battle. Based on the conditions and the forces pitted against one another, the tactician will play the role of ‘commander’ for each side by employing their respective doctrine and tactics to determine a potential outcome of the battle.

A tactician is a combination of 1st Lt. Ring and GySgt Highway… so is a well-prepared outdoorsman. The more knowledge and experiences you gain, the more able you are to predict and prepare for a potential outcome. Understand too that the experiences don’t necessarily have to be directly related.

Anyone who has ever experienced a flash flood knows not to pitch camp next to a stream. Anyone who has ever experienced a forest fire knows to pitch camp in close proximity to a stream. If you haven’t experienced either one of these events, I would wager that you have enough personal experiences (tokens) to figure out that these solutions make perfect sense. I would also wager that most of you have probably never considered what you would do in the event of a flash flood or forest fire.

This is the wargaming part of living outdoors, and it is a variable rabbit hole for ‘what ifs’. Venturing into the outdoors without thinking things through is an almost iron-clad guarantee that things will go south in a big hurry. That right there would be considered right of bang, but you already had that one figured out, huh? The beauty of wargaming is that you can do it just about any time of day. Remember that I said ‘just about’ any time of day. If you get slapped for wargaming while you’re supposed to be engaged in something else… let’s say a bit more intimate with your significant other, I take no responsibility for that. Actually, the perfect place is the porcelain library. It’s relatively quiet and you’re not likely to be disturbed.

Practice builds experience. Experience builds options. Options increase survival.

Fill the Gap

Acquiring tokens of experience isn’t limited to a specific outdoor adventures. You don’t have to plan a trip to the woods to practice. You may acquire these precious tokens by simply pressing the boundaries of your personal comfort zone in your own back yard. Sleep overnight in a tent and prepare a meal… when it’s raining or snowing. Pack, un-pack, and then re-pack your gear in complete darkness. If you’re right-handed, practice tasks with your left hand (and versa visa). As your zone expands (meaning the more comfortable you are operating in that expanded area), your thirst for knowledge and experience will increase. You know yourself better than anyone else. Think about what sends you running for shelter (physically or mentally). Think about what your strengths and weaknesses are (perceived or real). Now think about what you can do to fill the gaps. You may decide to take a wilderness first aid class, learn to read a map, or enroll in a Jiu Jitsu academy. Expanding your comfort zone also builds confidence and empowers you with the courage to face your greatest fears. Fear is not knowing, and not knowing is what will put you in the hurt locker out in the woods. Happy tuning.

About the Author

Mr. Leslie Hill is an experienced outdoorsman who did most of his growing up at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. He has lived in various climes and places from tropical islands to the high desert plains of southern Asia. He is a tactician by trade and a community subject matter expert, a capacity for which he has served since 1999. Mr. Hill’s life experiences include service as a United States Marine, a ranch hand, and an emergency medical technician. His hobbies have include motorcycle racing, woodworking, marksmanship competition, and mixed martial arts. Mr. Hill’s current focus includes reconditioning vintage axes and simply spending more time in the woods.

 

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage

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by Todd Walker

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Arguably, the most underrated and overlooked primitive technology is rope and string. That is until you run out of modern cordage. A whole new appreciation for stuff that binds will quickly become apparent.

Ropes and knots predate the ax, the wheel, and possibly the controlled use of fire by our ancestors. Think of stone tools. These had to be tied to the end of sticks. Shelters stood with joints bound by fibrous lashing material. Animal sinew, catgut, and hide were used as well. But, as my friend, Mark Warren, says, it’s easier to get your hands on plants since they don’t run away from you.

Fibers that Bind

In my area of Georgia, tree bark, roots, leaves, stems, and stalks can be used for bindings. For our cordage class at school, we used Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and cattail (Typha) for fiber materialCattail from our second-hand beaver pond, and tulip poplar from my stash I collected over the years.

You’re not limited to a few choices in nature. Below are 18 cordage fibers made and displayed by Scott Jones at one of his workshops I attended. If you’re into primitive skills and technology, I highly recommend you pick up his books, Postcards to the Past, and A View to the Past. Both are essential for any primitive practitioner on your Christmas list!

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

18 indigenous cordage fibers Scott Jones has on display for demonstrations

Besides the 18 listed below on the display, we also used okra stalk, that’s right, the garden variety, to make cordage in his class.

From L to R:

  1. Red Cedar
  2. Bald Cypress
  3. Atlantic White Cedar
  4. Red Mulberry
  5. Black Locust
  6. Yellow (Tulip) Poplar
  7. Winged Elm
  8. Paw Paw
  9. Basswood
  10. False Nettle
  11. Blue Star
  12. Milkweed
  13. Dogbane
  14. Evening Primrose
  15. Spanish Moss
  16. Button Snakeroot
  17. Yucca
  18. Cattail

Different materials require different methods of extracting fibers. For our purposes, and to keep this article manageable, we’ll stick with the two materials we used in class – tulip poplar and cattail.

Preparing Fibers

As mentioned earlier, I collect tulip polar bark every chance I get. This tree has many uses – (see here and here). It’s best to harvest in late spring and summer as the bark will “slip” off the trunk with ease. The inner bark is what you’re after. I like to use inner bark from fallen limbs or dead standing saplings. Simply soak the dried bark, a process called, retting, in water for a few days to a few week. At my fixed camp, I toss large sections of bark into the creek and weigh them down with rocks. The soaking helps break down the stuff that holds the outer and inner bark together. After the bark is retted, the inner bark should peel in long, useful strips.

Hang the strips to dry. Pre-dried fibers are less prone to shrinkage even after wetting them during the cordage making process. Separate the strips into finer fiber bundles (hair-like fibers) for stronger cordage. Or you can start twisting wider strips for expedient cordage.

We have a nice stand of cattails next to our outdoor classroom. At this point in the season, the leaves are dead and brown. For green leaves, cut and dry until they turn brown. You’ll notice these leaves twist better when damp. Even a morning dew enhances their flexibility.

Cattail leaves can be striped into smaller widths for stronger cordage but wasn’t worth the effort for our class. For expediency, we used whole leaves. Here’s how…

Reverse Twist Two-Ply Method

For our beginner cordage-makers, we used whole cattail leaves and wide strips (1/2 inch) of tulip poplar inner bark. Larger material allows the student to see how the twisting works and is easier to handle than fine fiber bundles.

Also, keep the fiber material damp during the whole process.

Start in the middle of a strip of fiber material about arm’s length long. Pinch the ply with the index finger and thumb of both hands with 2-3 inches between your pinch points. Begin to twist the ply away from your body with your right hand in a clockwise rotation and left hand counterclockwise. This will cause the ply to twist until it naturally bends into a kink/loop.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Forming the loop.

Pinch the loop with your left hand (index finger and thumb). You now have two plies extending in a “Y” formation. Pinch the strand furthest from your body with your right hand close to your left hand (about 1/4 to 1/2 inches). Twist your right hand away from your body in a quarter turn or 90 degree rotation.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Starting the outside ply twist.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A full 90 degree rotation of the outside ply.

While holding the twisted ply between your thumb and index finger, reach your middle finger on your right hand around to grab the strand closest to your body. Grip this ply with your middle finger against your index finger. Now twist back a quarter turn to the original starting position. This motion brings the outside ply over the inside ply. The two plies have now switched places. Release the ply you were pinching and repeat the process on the “new” outside ply.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rotating back 90 degrees with the opposite ply pinched with the middle finger.

Once you get the mechanics down you’ll be able to hand-twist tightly woven cordage like a champ. One student picked this motion up quickly and made a few feet of cattail cordage in less than 30 minutes.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

RISE student twisting cattail cordage. He began teaching other students the technique.

Splicing Technique

If both plies are even when you begin twisting, you’ll end up backtracking (unwinding twists) to make a splice. With experience you’ll find that starting the kink/loop with one ply longer than the other will take care of this problem.

When you get to the end of your rope (about an inch left on the outside ply with a longer inside ply), and need to make longer cordage, a splice is needed. Take another length of fiber material of similar diameter and lay it in the “Y” with an inch of material overlapping. Pinch the overlapping new fiber on the existing two-ply cord you’ve already made. With the new ply running parallel with the short outside ply, pinch these together with your right hand and continue the two-ply twisting technique described above. This splicing technique will continue until you twist a length of cord long enough for your needs.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

New fibers added in the crook of the “Y” to be spliced.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Trim the overlapping spliced end when your cordage is complete.

Note: For any left-handed folks, reverse the instructions.

Trim the overhanging spliced material on the finished cord. Now you can terminate the end of your cord with a couple of half hitches.

Start using your new cordage for primitive binding projects like a Hoko knife.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Tying it all together with natural cordage.

Below is a video we did during class on making cordage for those interested…

The reverse twist method is useful when smaller lengths of tightly woven cordage are needed. We’ll do a future post on a method called the “Thigh-Roll”. This technique is a speedy way to make large quantities of natural two-ply cordage… and easier on your hand muscles.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

12 Surprising Uses for Super Glue

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Some products are famous for their versatility. For example, both duct tape and paracord come to mind as items with an almost unlimited number of uses. However, another product that falls into the category of surprisingly versatile and useful is super glue. In survival and emergency situations, super glue is definitely something that you want […]

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Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool

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by Todd Walker

The blood of our ancestors flows in our own veins. Our aboriginal legacy is written in the very make-up of our bodies. The ancient caves and campfires of our pasts call to us from within. Primitive Technology is our inheritance as well. It is a world heritage which knows no race, creed, or color. It is foreign to no one. It is the shared thread which links us to our prehistory and binds us together as human beings.

Steve Watts ~ “Primitive Technology, A Book of Earth Skills”

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

It seems with every generation, the disconnect between the earth and her resources widens. But deep inside us all, our primal roots desire to reconnect with the raw resources that have sustained our species for millennia. Touching our Stone Age past offers this tangible connection.

A simple way to introduce primitive technology to students is by making a Hoko knife. This stone cutting tool was discovered on the Hoko River archeological site in Washington State. A landslide destroyed the native fishing village about 2,700 years ago preserving artifacts of their material culture.

Steps to Making a Hoko Knife

Materials needed:

  • Sharp stone flake
  • Wooden handle
  • Cordage

A.) Stone Flakes

You don’t have to possess mad flintknapping skills to construct this simple cutting tool. The original Hoko knife was made of a thumbnail size flake hafted with spruce root to a cedar handle. Archeologist believe this delicate tool was used to butcher fish for eating and longterm preserving.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Discarded flakes from Justin Cook.

Our stone flakes were gifted to our class by a good friend and master flintknapper, Justin Cook of Wayback Wilderness. He had a pile of flakes left over from his flintknapping class at our Georgia Bushcraft Fall Campout and offered them to me. I gladly accepted.

You can also make your own flakes. Find a stone which breaks like glass. As you know, broken glass creates sharp edges. My friend and primitive skills mentor, Scott Jones, introduced me to bipolar flaking. Use a hammerstone and stone anvil to strike smaller stones which fracture into sharp, straight, useable flakes. Flat, long flakes work best for this application.

B.) Wood Selection

Next to our outdoor classroom, a willow (Salix) tree grows in our secondhand beaver pond. I cut a finger-size branch for handle material. I also had a section of box elder (Acer negundo) left over from friction fire kits. We used both for our project since they’re split easily and evenly. Experiment with woods in your locale to find what works for you.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Willow on top, Box Elder on bottom.

C.) Cordage

Since we haven’t taught natural cordage yet, students used manmade cordage to haft the flakes in place. A partial spool of tarred bank line is what we had left over from our bamboo shelter construction project. Natural cordage options in our woods include inner bark of several trees, dogbane, yucca, cattail, and many more. Artificial sinew, real sinew, or leather would also serve as good bindings.

D.) Assembly

Split one end of your handle with either a stone flake or metal knife. If the split starts to run off to one side, bend the thicker half more than the thinner half to even up the sides. The split should be long enough to accept the flake with room for binding the split end.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

With the flake inserted in the split stick, lash the split ends together. With modern line, we used a jam knot to start the lashing (clove hitch also works). After 4 or 5 tight wraps, we tied two half hitches (down-n-dirty clove hitch) to secure the line. This provides enough friction to hold the flake securely. The problem point with this method is the chance that the handle will continue to split on the un-lashed side. To help prevent this, give the backside of the flake one wrap to reach the other side of the handle. Terminate the lashing just above the flake with two half hitches.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wrapping both sides of the stone flake.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A finished Hoko knife bound with jute twine.

Without fish to butcher, we used our new stone tools to scrape bark off handles. I need to bring a mess of fish to class soon for some experimental archeology. One student asked, “Would this thing cut the head off a fish?” We shall find out.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two students tag teaming the lashing job.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Using his Hoko knife to scrape bark.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Proud students of primitive technology.

Additional Hoko Resources:

  1. Hoko Knife, by Dick Baugh, Primitive Ways
  2. The Hoko River Complex, Native American Netroots 

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

5o+ Reasons I’m Thankful for My “Country-as-Cracklin’-Cornbread” Raisin’

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by Todd Walker

5o+ Reasons I'm Thankful for My Country as Cracklin' Cornbread_ Raisin' _ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Being raised in the South, these are a few things I’m thankful for today. I’ll bet some of y’all can add to the list.

  • A dust trail behind a truck coming down the long dirt driveway meant you had visitors or someone was lost and in need of directions.
  • The memory of your first green persimmon when you wiser cousin assured you it was an apple.
  • Daddy’s brains and eggs with a side of country ham for breakfast.
  • The day Daddy walked me down the church aisle and stood with me as I was “washed in the blood” and later baptized.
  • Watching Mama skid the black Pontiac to a stop on the dirt road, wait for the dust to pass, and fetching her snake-killing rock from the boot to dispatch a rattler her tires missed.
  • Eating Thanksgiving dinner at Mother Vaughan’s tiny house, where she and Papa Vaughan raised 10 children, followed by pick up football games in her front yard with cousins.
  • Feeling the painful pinch of a crawdad on your finger under a rock in the creek.
  • Camping beneath the Southern stars on Henry and Randy’s trampoline.
  • Watching your line straighten with a speckled trout hooked on the flats of Apalachicola.
  • Riding your pony dressed like John Wayne and shooting your cap gun.
  • Cane pole fishing in a watering hole in the front pasture.
  • Feeling the mud squish between your toes while walking over the freshly plowed bottom field searching for arrowheads after a spring rain.
  • Shooting Daddy’s single-shot 20 gauge at a squirrel directly overhead and getting kicked to the floor of the jon boat in the middle of Little Echeconnee Creek.
  • The smell of Daddy’s Southern cornbread dressing cooking on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Paddling a seasoned fly fisherman all day on the lake just learn his tricks.

5o+ Reasons I'm Thankful for My Country as Cracklin' Cornbread_ Raisin' _ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  • Watching the lukewarm summer rain dance on the lake and listening to the rhythm on the tin roof of the plywood shack we called The Cabin.
  • Listening to the grown folk tell family stories which we thought were unbelievable.
  • Finding Mama and Aunt Cindy in the hog pen after school, elbow deep in mud, helping a sow in labor.
  • Pulling over on the dirt road a mile from the house to eat a watermelon on the tailgate of Daddy’s pickup.
  • Building a treehouse with scrap lumber and previously bent nails.
  • Eating the first peach of the season straight off the limb.
  • Skipping rocks across the Flint River to determine how many children you’ll have one day ~ thankfully, that didn’t come true.
  • Riding calves in the pasture in the dark.
  • Cow patty fights.
  • Swinging over creeks on wild grape vines.
  • Scalding hogs and scraping hair in late Autumn.
  • Boat (broken sticks) races in ditches during a Summer gully washer.
  • Freaking out when a Cottonmouth wants to join you in the jon boat while frog gigging.
  • Walking the bottom creek to reach the wooden bridge several miles away.
  • Carving our initials on the Beech tree next to the creek feeding the lake.
  • Dirt clod battles.
  • Listening to Merle Haggard on 8-track on a sleepy Saturday morning.
  • Camping on horseback.
  • Shooting a real gun for the first time.
  • Listening to old timers spin yarns and solve the world’s problems at the Grill.
  • Trying to stay vigilant on a 24 hour detail “protecting” our bumper harvest of corn at the big city farmer’s market but falling asleep on burlap sacks anyway.
  • Loading hay bails on the trailer in the heat of a Georgia summer.
  • Old weathered barns.
  • The smell of saddle leather and horses.
  • The prick of a catfish fin in your hand.
  • The tickle of horse’s lips as she eats sweet feed from your hand.
  • Singing “Amazing Grace”, all the verses, in a small town church.
  • Riding our bikes seven miles one way to the Hays General Store across the street from the Dickey’s Peach packing shed.

Photo credit: Vanishing South Georgia

  • Sitting in the swivel barber’s chair at Mr. Lindsey’s filling station and sipping on my RC Cola with salted peanuts fizzing and floating inside the bottle.
  • Filling your chest waders after stumbling in a beaver pond while duck hunting in February.
  • Living in a small town with no red lights, a general store, post office, one church, a cotton gin, and a peach packing shed.
  • Riding on the back of a pickup truck on dusty dirt roads.
  • Burning household trash in a 55 gallon drum.
  • Pronouncing pecan correctly… Pee-can.
  • When the judge looks out the courthouse window and asks, “Melvin, those your cows coming down the road?” and dismisses Daddy from jury duty to round ’em up.
  • We still called sushi bait.
  • Grits. We have grits and redeye gravy!
  • When someone says, Fixinto or Piddlin‘, we know what they mean. I reckon so.
  • Hauling a load of trash to the dump and shooting bottles Daddy tossed in the air to help my dove shooting skills.
  • Chasing fireflies on summer evenings.

If the good Lord made anything better than being raised in the South, He kept it to Himself.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Develop Self Reliant Food Sources in 2018

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How to Develop Self Reliant Food Sources in 2018 Not matter what path prepping has taken you down it all ends at self reliance. We are all pushing towards a point in life where we gain self reliance over ourselves and our resources. That is the dream for so many preppers. Some people take huge …

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8 Survival Hacks Using Safety Pins

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There are a lot of items you may start reaching for when SHTF – a gun, a HAM radio, even duct tape and its seemingly endless list of uses may come to mind. One item that probably doesn’t come to mind is the lowly safety pin. It turns out, you can do a lot with […]

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How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set

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by Todd Walker

The Bushcraft Journal, a free online magazine, has a wealth of articles dealing with outdoor self-reliance. This post is based on a recent article by Gary Johnston of Jack Raven Bushcraft.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Editor’s Note: If you see any ads linked (double underlined) in this article, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there. I’m wondering if it’s only happening on my computer. Thanks! ~ Todd

As Gary mentions in his article, many people would like to learn to make fire by friction with a bow and drill but many not have the physical stamina to twirl up an ember. Others may have bad knees or other injures which prevent them from ever attempting fire by friction. This method alleviates knee pain and weak wrists.

Here are the steps our students at RISE Academy used to make fire using this method…

Long Lever Bow Drill Set

Step 1: Gather the Stuff

  • Bearing block: About a yard long log and 3-4 inches in diameter
  • A platform like a firewood round knee-high
  • Long bow about chest high for multiple bowers
  • String for bow and normal stuff you’d use for regular bow drill fire – tinder, welcome mat, etc.

Cut a 36 inch long, 3-4 inch diameter, tree to be used as the bearing block. Flatten the underside on one end of the log. Carve a pivot hole about 3 to 5 inches in from one end of the long bearing block. We found a wide pivot hole about 1/4 inch deep to be about right. We used a hearth and spindle (cedar on cedar) which the students found produced embers in the traditional bow drill set.

In the video below, we show two separate groups of students successfully using this long lever bow drill set. It makes for a great team building or family project.

Step 2: Attach Bearing Block to Tree/Pole

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The bearing block attached to a bamboo riser on the student-built outdoor classroom.

Lash the other end of the long lever to a tree or pole. Use a square lashing or tie knots until it holds to the anchor point level with the top of the spindle. The long lever bearing block takes advantage of mass and mechanical advantage to easily apply downward pressure on the spindle during bowing. In fact, I applied too much pressure in the beginning which caused problems.

Step 3: The Longer Bow

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sixth graders using the longer bow.

For two or more people doing the bowing, use a longer bow to achieve more spindle rotations per stroke. By yourself, stick to a normal arm-length bow. And yes, this method works well if you’re spinning solo. The anchored bearing block steadies the point of contact against my shin – which is one of the struggles I see a lot with first-time friction fire makers.

Load the spindle into the long bow, place the spindle into the hearth board divot, and mate the top of the spindle to the long lever bearing block. The person “driving” the bearing block will place his/her foot on the hearth board resting on the stump. Steady the bearing block against the shin with two hands.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Extra length at the end of the lever bearing block give ample room to connect with the shin.

You can also set this entire rig up without elevating the hearth board. It’s certainly kinder on the knees when elevated.

Step 4: Twirl an Ember

For a group effort, have two bowers hold opposite ends of the loaded long bow. Oh, have them stand offset to the plane of the bow so nobody gets a stick in the gut. Start the pull/push slowly to gain a rhythm like a lumberjack crosscut saw competition. As the charred dust builds into the hearth board notch, pick up the speed in bowing.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Getting into a rhythm

If the first two bowers tire, and you have alternates waiting, the bearing block “driver” gives the command to switch. Including all the hands builds teamwork and ownership to the effort. While the switch takes place, check the condition of the char dust in the notch. Even if it is smoking on its own, allow the other bowers a turn in spinning.

Step 5: Blow the Ember into Flame 

Celebrate your creation of a fire egg (ember) and allow it to grow by fanning it with your hand. High-fives all around! No need to hurry as you will likely produce a larger-than-normal amount of char dust in the hearth board notch.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A nice pile of smoldering char dust!

Once the fire egg is resting in its nest of tinder material, have each team member take a turn blowing the ember into flame. At that moment when heavy, white smoke billows from the nest, get your camera ready to capture the magic of fire from scratch!

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Road-kill pine straw and cattail fluff for the win!

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Almost there.

Place the burning nest in the fire pit and add prepared kindling for the fire to eat. Let the high-fives and fist-bumps begin! Your team has just created fire by friction and welded bonds of friendship never to be forgotten!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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101 Paracord Projects

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If you’re a paracord enthusiast, then I have the ultimate article for you. PrepperZine made a list of 101 paracord projects complete with a table of contents, instructions, pictures, and videos. He even lets you know the difficulty level of the project and how long it should take. This is pretty much the best paracord […]

The post 101 Paracord Projects appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

DIY Preparedness: Projects for Any Pocketbook

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Here are some of our favorite DIY preparedness projects to get you started. Pick one to complete each week or choose a larger project for each month. Each step toward self-reliance is one less reason to be concerned about the future | PreparednessMama

Here are some of our favorite DIY preparedness projects to get you started. Pick one to complete each week or choose a larger project for each month. Each step toward self-reliance is one less reason to be concerned about the future. The thing that I find encouraging about preparedness is the fact that you can […]

The post DIY Preparedness: Projects for Any Pocketbook appeared first on PreparednessMama.

3 Emergency Cooking Ideas Anyone Can Do

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Going without power because of a natural disaster can be stressful. There are steps you can take to plan for the next storm and one of these is to set up a system for emergency cooking | PreparednessMama

Going without power because of a natural disaster can be stressful. There are steps you can take to plan for the next storm and one of these is to set up a system for emergency cooking.   I think it is fun when the power goes out and we have a chance to pull out […]

The post 3 Emergency Cooking Ideas Anyone Can Do appeared first on PreparednessMama.

DIY Emergency Heater for $5

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It’s getting cold out, which means it’s time to make sure you’re prepared for a winter power outage. If you don’t want to spend money on expensive propane space heaters and the like, you could try making your own space heaters, like VP Prepping & Survival does in this video. All you need to make […]

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Sustainability & Long Term Survival.

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Sustainability. 

Sustainability/sustainable means lasting  for a long time, or, the ability to make something last for a long time.

If in our preparations for survival we are considering that we may need to live long term in a wilderness situation, then we need to make sure our equipment is sustainable. We also need to make sure that the lifestyle we have chosen is sustainable. In other words, if our equipment is not sustainable, then neither is our lifestyle.

If one has not had the experience, then at least most people can use their imagination to help them see & understand. For instance; let’s say our country is attacked & the enemy uses an EMP to knock out the electricity grid. What will this mean for those living in towns & cities? It will mean that there will be no electricity, no water, no sewage control so no toilets. We all know what else will happen don’t we, looting, supermarkets will be raided for all the food. Chemists looted, gun shops looted, Medical facilities will be hampered. Some people will want what you have, so it will not be safe for you to cook outside or in fact to go outside at all. Your house could be raided, if you manage to repulse an attack, then the attackers may well fire your house or drive a Mack truck through it. Does this make any sense to you?

Now you may say that you must bug in because you simply would not know how to survive in the bush. Well my reply to that is, learn. Get the skills you will need & go bush & get some experience before the shtf.

Now for the equipment. IF you are prepping for long term survival, there is no point relying on items that are NOT sustainable! Ferocerium rods, matches, cigarette lighters, are not sustainable, don’t kid yourself that they are just because you do not have primitive fire lighting skills. Flint, steel & tinderbox is a sustainable method of making fire, & it is an easy method to learn & use. Think about what you have in your bug out pack, do you NEED the items you have, or are they just adding weight & taking up room? Most important items are: Medical supplies, water, food & ammunition. Do NOT compromise the carrying if these items!

Firearms:

I have modern firearms & I have muzzle-loading firearms. IF I had to leave on my own & could only carry one firearm, I choose to carry my flintlock. Why? Because it is sustainable! If it breaks I can fix it. Now I could carry one of my .22 rimfires, the ammunition is relatively light, but if it should malfunction, I simply would not be able to fix it. Yes I could carry a spare firing pin & perhaps the tools needed to strip the bolt & replace the firing pin, but then I still only have a .22, which can not be relied on to drop anything but small game. Yes I know you can shoot roos & goats etc, but how many times have you shot a medium sized animal with a .22 & lost it? I need a gun that I know I can count on, a gun that will efficiently kill small & medium sized game & if possible large game too.

I realize that a flintlock muzzle-loading gun is not the best in a fire fight against others who can load faster than I can, but it only takes one shot to kill, & I plan on keeping a low profile & staying out of fire fights if I can. Now if I am travelling in a group, which in fact I would be if I had to leave my home in the forest, then as a group we would be carrying modern firearms, muzzleloaders & traditional bows. I will add a list of the advantages in carrying/using a flintlock muzzle-loader.  I can see the advantages in carrying a modern firearm, but I can also see the disadvantages, & for me, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Reading through this list it is pretty easy to compare these advantages with those of the modern firearm, so see what you think. Do bear in mind the weight factor of modern ammunition, the larger the calibre, the heavier it is. How much can you carry without compromising other important equipment?


Advantages of a Flintlock Muzzle-loader.

1)   Ammo is less expensive than a modern equivalent calibre firearm.

2)  The smoothbore is very versatile, being able to digest round ball, bird shot, & buckshot, or any combination of two of these (can also use minies).

3)  The fusil is lighter to carry than a modern equivalent sized gun.

4)  You can vary the load if needs be.

5)  The smoothbore will digest other projectiles besides lead.

6)  Lead can be retrieved from downed game & remoulded with a simple mould & lead ladle. This means that you can carry less lead, & more of the lighter gunpowder.

7)  You can make your own gunpowder.

8)  You can use the lock to make fire without the need for gunpowder.

9)  You can use gunpowder for gunpowder tinder fire lighting if needs be.

10)        IF the lock should malfunction (these are very robust & it is not likely) you can easily repair it if you are carrying a few spare springs & a few simple tools.

11)If you do not have any spare parts & the lock malfunctions, you can easily convert it to a tinderlock or matchlock & continue using it.

12)        You do not need a reloader, brass shells, caps, or primers. The latter have been known to break down in damp conditions or if they are stored for too long.

13)         Wadding for ball or shot is available from natural plant materials or homemade leather or rawhide.

14)       Less chance of being affected by future ammunition control legislation.

15)        Gunpowder is easily obtainable providing you have a muzzle-loader registered in your name regardless of calibre (NSW)

16)        A .32 calibre flintlock rifle is more powerful than a .22 rimfire, less expensive to feed, more accurate over a greater distance, able to take small & medium sized game, & other than not being able to use shot (unless it is smoothbore), it has all the attributes of the other flintlocks.  For larger game you can load with conical slugs, which of course you can make yourself in the field.

17)        Damage from a .62 calibre or .70 calibre pistol or long arm is in the extreme. Wounded prey is unlikely to escape.

18)         By using buck & ball you are unlikely to miss your target. This load is capable of taking out more than one target.

19)        There is less kick-back to a muzzle-loading gun.

20)       Antique Flintlock muzzle-loading guns do not require a license, registration, or a permit to purchase in NSW Australia.

The Advantages of Carrying/Using 18th Century Equipment.
·      A flintlock smoothbore gun is versatile, you can make fire with the lock without using any gunpowder, you can use various sizes of small shot & round ball, you can if necessary use other projectiles besides lead, you can retrieve lead from shot game & remould it for further use. If the lock should malfunction it is easily repaired with spare springs, if you have no spare springs the lock is easily converted to matchlock.

·      A flintlock rifle has the same advantages as the smoothbore except that it can not use small shot without leading the barrel. A .32 flintlock rifle has more power than a .22 rimfire & is less expensive to shoot.

·      You can purchase an antique flintlock pistol now with no need for licence or registration.

·      Ball moulds can be used as heavy tweezers for removing foreign objects from the body.

·      Gunpowder (Black Powder) can be used to make fire with unprepared plant tinders without wasting ammunition.

·      A trade axe/tomahawk is very versatile. The head is easily removed to be used as a hide scraper, the tomahawk can be thrown for recreation, self defence & hunting. This axe is a good defence weapon for hand to hand fighting, for constructing shelters & traps & for hammering in stakes or wooden pegs. A new helve/handle is easy to make & fit & does not require a wedge to secure the head.

·      The awl is used for making leather items & for repairing leather items. The awl is used to make & repair moccasins.

·      The butcher knife is for skinning & butchering game & can be used for self-defence.

·      The legging knife is a back-up to the butcher knife. If you should dull the edge on your butcher knife you can continue with the legging knife. You do not want to stay around sharpening blades. Your shot may have attracted unwanted attention.

·      The clasp knife is used for camp chores & for making trap triggers. You do not want to use your main blades as utility knives.

·      Flint, steel & tinderbox will enable you to make fire anywhere in all weather conditions. It will not break or wear out & the process is renewable & sustainable.

·      18th century woodsrunner’s clothing (men & women) is practicle, protective, hard wearing & renewable.

·      The housewife (sewing kit) is for making & repairing clothing & packs. The needles can be used for removing splinters & if needs be sewing up wounds. The beeswax is used to wax the linen sewing thread & can be used as makeshift tooth fillings.

·      The angling tackle can be used with a rod or set lines, it can also be used for catching ducks & large land fowl. The linen or silk lines can be replaced with hand made cordage made from plant materials. Silk lines can be used as suture thread.

·      The cooking kettle is used for boiling food, boiling water for drinks & sterilising, carrying water & for catching rainwater.

·      Cotton & linen bags can be used for cleaning dirty water before boiling for drinking or adding to your water bottle.

·      Gun tools are used for repairing the lock on your flintlock muzzle-loading gun if needs be, but these locks are very hard wearing. The tools are merely a back-up. The turn screw is used to remove the lock & barrel for cleaning.

·      The whet stone is used to sharpen your blades, as is the metal file, though both could have other uses if working with metal.

·      The half-axe is optional & is capable of heavier work than the tomahawk without adding too much weight.

·      An auger is optional & is used for making holes for constructing more permanent dwellings. These augers come in a variety of sizes & weigh very little. Small versions will fit in your pack, where longer versions can be tied to your blanket roll.

·      The sword is also optional but in a hand to hand fight can be very useful. The sword is also used for cutting reeds for shelter & mat construction.

·      The wool blanket is far more versatile than a sleeping bag, & if wet the blanket retains more body heat than a sleeping bag. The pure wool blanket can be used as a matchcoat or a Great Coat & can be used in a sitting position under an oilcloth covering on the trail.

·      The oilcloth shelter is very versatile & can be used in many ways, including use as a rain coat. Used as a lean-to shelter you can use fire for warmth at night & you have good visibility on at least three sides. The lean-to is easy & quick to construct & quickly taken down. It does not need tent poles/rods & it is easy to carry.


Anyone using this equipment is advised to learn the many primitive skills that go with this type of wilderness living. If you are living this 18th century lifestyle then your level of comfort will never drop below this level. This equipment does not wear out; anything that could break can be repaired or replaced from natural sources. You are also advised to carry a modern medical kit which should include an eye wash glass.

My Equipment List.

.62 cal/20 gauge flintlock fusil. 42 inch barrel.

.70 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistol.

Gun tools and spare lock parts.

Shot pouch and contents.

Leather drawstring pouch of .60 caliber ball (in knapsack).

Powder horn.

Ball mould and swan shot mould.

5 Gunpowder wallets

Lead ladle.

Butcher/Hunting knife.

Legging knife.

Clasp knife.

Tomahawk.

Fire bag.

Tinderbox.

Belt pouch.

Fishing tackle in brass container.

Two brass snares.

Roll of brass snare wire.

Knapsack.

Scrip.

Market Wallet.

Tin Cup.

Kettle.

Water filter bags (cotton & linen bags).

Medical pouch.

Housewife.

Piece of soap and a broken ivory comb.

Dried foods in bags.

Wooden spoon.

Compass.

Whet stone.

Small metal file.

Oilcloth.

One blanket (Monmouth cap, spare wool waistcoat and wool shirt rolled inside blanket).

Two glass saddle flasks.

Length of hemp rope.

Bottle of rum.

Basic list of what I carry. This list is made up from items that we know were carried, from items that my research has shown were available, & from items that have been found, such as the brass snare wire. I am not saying every woodsrunner carried all these items, but I am saying that some woodsrunners may have carried all these items. From experimental archaeology results in historical trekking, I think the items I have chosen are a reasonable choice for any woodsrunner that is going to live in the wilderness for a year or more.

Keith.

25 Survival Uses for Ammo Cans

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Old ammo cans are incredibly useful if you’re a prepper. They’re designed to be sturdy, stackable, waterproof, and easy to transport (with handles on the top and the front). That’s why militaries have been using them for decades. There are several sizes and shapes, but they all have the same basic design which hasn’t been […]

The post 25 Survival Uses for Ammo Cans appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

13 DIY Projects Using Cinder Blocks

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Concrete and cement are the building blocks of humanity. When you take concrete and make it into a literal block, though, what you’re left with is a cinder block – an item with almost unlimited DIY potential. To help spark your imagination about how to best make use of cinder blocks, we’ve put together a […]

The post 13 DIY Projects Using Cinder Blocks appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Bugging Out. Something to think about.

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Bugging Out. Something to think about.

For the purpose of explaining things in this article, let us assume that this shtf situation is going to last for at least 5 years. Let us also say that bugging out in this article means not living in the city. You could be living at a country retreat in a house, in a house somewhere out of town, possibly even in a small town or you could be camped out in a wilderness/country area.

1) There are many ways/choices/methods in which you could opt to survive. One would be to go into the country/wilderness with nothing at all, in which case you would have to make your own tools from stone, wood or bone, make fire by a friction method, & construct a primitive shelter from wood, stone or earth. Now this would mean a lot of hard work, & this work would be for the most part continuous. Comforts would be at a minimum. Your defenses would be very primitive, & your best defense would be to stay unseen; hidden from view.



2) You could go bush carrying a lot of modern gear, some modern gear is good, but all modern gear has its limitations & is rarely sustainable. Two modern items that are worth considering are 1) medical supplies, which I consider vital, & 2) a modern firearm. The modern firearm is not really sustainable, although a .22 rimfire rifle or an air rifle would allow you to carry quite a lot of ammunition without adding too much weight. The larger the modern caliber, the more weight you carry & therefore the less ammo you can afford to carry. Reloading equipment, primers & lead would add even more weight. Modern gadgets for the most part are not sustainable or vital to your survival. Torches, solar chargers, multi tools, compound bows, radios, walkie talkies, satellite navigation, fuel stoves, heated gloves, night vision goggles, cigarette lighters, matches, ferocerium rod, etc, etc, are not vital additions to your equipment & they are not sustainable or they will add weight & take up room in your pack that could be better served by carrying more important vital items such as water, food, medical supplies & ammunition.

If you were to opt for carrying all modern gear that was not sustainable, then sooner or later you could end up living a stone age lifestyle such as in the first option of going bush with nothing.


3) You could equip yourself with sustainable equipment that will not run down, break or wear out. This type of equipment is dated, by that I mean it is hundreds of years old in its function & technology. Your comfort will not be the same as lying on an inflatable bed in a tent cocooned in a sleeping bag, but there would be a certain amount of comfort that can be maintained/sustained! Flint & steel fire lighting will mean that you are never without fire. Your tools are unlikely to break if you look after them. The moccasins on your feet can be repaired by yourself & even replaced when needs be. A long bow or a muzzle-loading flintlock will supply your meat as well as the traps you have made to set up your trap line.  In short you will have a more comfortable lifestyle than the stone age option.

Put some serious thought into the gear that you choose, if you do not have the experience, then use your imagination! Some people say that you cannot learn anything worthwhile from watching movies, I disagree. Some old movies did in fact foresee the future, & many modern dramas are based on real life, based on the fact that there are bad people out there & it only needs you to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to get yourself in a heap of trouble!

Primitive skills are important, good equipment is vital but A) you need to know how to use that equipment to the best of its advantage, & B) with the skills comes knowledge & understanding.

People on forums have often commented that with all their modern equipment, including powerful telescopic rifle sights mounted on a powerful super accurate rifle that people like me will not live long post shtf. But what these people fail to comprehend is that they do not have the skills that I have, & they, unlike me are not a part of my environment. I can smell things they don’t smell, I hear things they don’t hear, & I sense things that they cannot.


You will not become a part of a wilderness environment overnight, it takes time, patience, experience, & a willingness to learn. Don’t rely on modern gadgets, rely on good proven tools & above all rely on yourself, your abilities & your skills.

Keith.


PREPARED. SPARED. SHARE.

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If you’re into preparedness, odds are you take a long(er) range view of world events than most, in preparation for a day when some disaster will darken your door in hopes of mitigating the impacts from said disaster on your family and friends.

But what about when you’re fortunate enough to be spared by disaster?  Do you just sit on your supplies and be thankful you were spared.  Or do you take a more sinister and darker view, growing paranoid assuming it’s just a matter of time and figure not having to use your supplies this time around just means you’re farther along in your preps for the next time disaster comes knocking?

Courtesy NBC News

 

Well, there is another option you may not have considered.  We have always said that being prepared puts you ahead of the game in most instances and this fact can prove beneficial in a number of ways.  Not only will you and your family suffer less from the impacts of any disaster, but by preparing you put yourself in position to possibly help others.  In turn, this will help community response efforts by taking some of the pressure off the system.

ROCKPORT, TX – AUGUST 26: Jessica Campbell hugs Jonathan Fitzgerald (L-R) after riding out Hurricane Harvey in an apartment on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Jessica said is became very scary once Hurricane Harvey hit their town. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall by next Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

One immediate action step you can take post disaster is to help strengthen your community’s resilience by choosing to share some of your supplies to help those in need that were not fortunate enough to be spared by the storm.  Do not fear violating your personal OPSEC (operational security) by stepping up to help others.  This can easily be done anonymously through community agencies such as churches or local governments.

Courtesy IBTimes UK

 

Rotating supplies is a must (FIFO) when you store preparedness supplies, especially food goods.  The easiest way to work through your stores is simply to rotate them into your everyday routine when everything is normal. This concept works for all of your supplies, but especially when it comes to food stuffs.  When a disaster rolls through your area, but you are not directly impacted, you have a tremendous opportunity to bless others by passing along a few of the supplies that you have been blessed enough to have had the opportunity to acquire ahead of time.

The easiest way to implement this positive action step is simply find some of the oldest items in your stored food supplies (and/or other goods if you choose) that you haven’t worked into your everyday meal plan and pull them out.  If possible, you may want to take just a moment to balance your gift with a little variety, but anything you can afford to spare will be a tremendous benefit to the recipient and will be very much appreciated.

Heroes do not always wear a uniform.  They reveal themselves in times of emergency and the reality is they come in all shapes and sizes.  We often call these unseen heroes Nation Makers.  People that saw a need in their community and have taken it upon themselves to do something and help to make the world, no matter how broken and lost, the type of world they want to see.

This is not a new concept, but rather a reminder of an option you may not have considered.  In fact, we have seen it recently following Hurricane Harvey’s disastrous impacts in Houston, Texas and all along the Gulf coast.  Here is a post I saw on Facebook in the days immediately after the category 4 storm made landfall:

 

This is just one example of a scene I am certain played out in many other prepper homes following that storm, and every other disaster too.  It shows the best of what the preparedness community can be in an emergency.

Despite what you may be told by the generic media or led to believe on internet forums, most preparedness minded folks do not view the world as a zero sum game and are not all just out for themselves.  We are normal people with big hearts that care about our families and our fellow citizens.

In a world where you do not have to look far to find the impacts of disaster or feel the anxiety and fear of crisis, there is no shortage of opportunities to step up and help someone.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to secure a comfortable level of preparedness for yourself and your family, I want to encourage you to reach out to help someone in need the next time disaster strikes your community.  In doing so you may find that you can increase your spheres of influence and maybe even introduce someone else to the idea of personal preparedness.  Who knows?  Down the road, they may be the one in position to help another person or family after the storm and in the end, we will all be better because of it.

If you want to better understand my thoughts on personal preparedness, please check out my books HERE and HERE, or wander deeper into this blog.  I hope this website will help you along your way, especially if you’re just getting started.  Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

 

 

September is National Preparedness Month

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Disaster's Don't Plan Ahead, you can during national preparedness month | PreparednessMama

Are you thinking about preparedness this month? September is National Preparedness Month and it’s a big deal for us in the preparedness community. While we always want you to be prepared, this month has a special focus.  Are you preparedness minded? The Back to Basics Summit has FREE presentations from over 25 experts on all aspects of self-reliance. […]

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Campfires From Scratch: No Boy Scout Juice Required

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by Todd WalkerCampfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I discover at a young age that pouring Boy Scout Juice on sticks for a “quick” campfire was not real smart. Boy Scout Juice is a vague term which includes all sorts of liquid accelerants. We had gasoline at the cabin that day. I can’t remember who to blame for this grand idea, Henry or Craig, but I vividly remember the low whoosh sound that transformed a flickering kitchen match into a flaming mushroom cloud billowing up my legs. Screaming and wild dancing, reminiscent of cartoon characters, commenced in a desperate attempt to extinguish my now flaming trousers.

When the scent of singed hair and screaming finally settled, a silver dollar size blister on my calf taught us all a lesson that day.

Accelerants are dangerous and unnecessary in traditional fire craft. Cheating, some might call it. I’ve often said that there is no such thing as cheating when you really need a fire. Use a road flare if you have one. Camping ain’t an emergency. In modern camps, building a sustainable fire, less the fancy accelerant-impregnated fire starters, seems to be a lost art these days. I find the process of preparing a wooden meal to feed my fires pleasurable, even meditative.

Our irresistible fascination with fire was passed down by early humans who, through observation and notions and necessity, came upon the crazy idea of harnessing the flame. They weren’t content to live out their days cold and wet. This simple, powerful tool warmed hearths, made pottery, fashioned other tools, cooked meals, made potions, dispelled darkness, forged bronze, just as we use it today. The only difference for us moderns is that we route fire through insulated wires. But we’ve lost the aroma of wood smoke in our modern processes. Ah, that wonderful smell!

Many moderns never learned how to build a campfire, not from scratch. We hope this whets your appetite. Gather around our fire ring as we burn a few sticks and embrace the warming gift of fire.

Fire from Scratch

To transition from modern to a traditional fire-starter, you need things. Things like wood and air. These two are the easiest to procure. The third thing, which can be the most difficult to come by, is a heat source hot enough to complete the fire triangle, and, as intended, set stuff alight.

The heat source, modern or traditional, won’t produce a sustainable fire without properly prepared wood. I’ve witnessed, on occasion, fire-starting fails by people using a plumber’s blow torch. Lightening is another option… but you must wait patiently near the chosen tree.

For this exercise in fire-starting, our heat will come in the form of sparks from rocks and metal. Those of the traditional camping style call these materials flint and steel (not to be confused with ferrocerium rods). Sharp rocks are used to scrape micro particles from the steel which oxidizes rapidly into sparks. If you’d like to know the Secret of Flint and Steel, our previous article may help.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Flint and steel

Moderns may scoff at flint and steel as a fire maker. Why not use a Bic? It’s your fire. Use whatever ignition method you like. In my experience of teaching and learning fire craft, an open flame offers no distinct advantage until you understand how a fire eats. Practicing traditional methods makes the learner more attentive to the finer details of planning a fire’s menu.

One test for beginner and experienced campers is to start a campfire using a single match. This experiment gives immediate feedback as to how carefully the fire-chef prepared the menu. If the match ignites and consumes your meal, you’ll be ready to practice more traditional methods.

A true primitive Fire from Scratch method requires rubbing sticks together. If you’re interested in twirling up fire, read and practice these articles: Bow drill and hand drill.

Wood Size Matters

The most common failure in feeding a fire is wood size. I’ve used the analogy before of creating a fire meal plan – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s worth repeating… with a bit of a twist.

 

Don’t cheat on preparing the appetizer for flint and steel ignition. If you’ve ever placed a delicate fire egg (ember) in a tinder bundle (via friction methods), you understand the importance of this starter meal. The same holds true for charred material aglow from flint and steel sparks. A baby ember’s appetite is delicate. If it likes the first offering, it will be stimulated to eat more of your carefully prepared fare.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Top to bottom: fat lighter’d shavings and curls, pencil lead to pencil size twigs, and larger fuel.

In many flint and steel demonstrations viewed on computer screens, char cloth is laid on the rock in such a way as to catch a spark flying from the scraped steel. I’ve found that having a larger landing strip for sparks increases the chance of glowifing the charred material. Try sending your sparks into the target-rich char tin. Once you see points of light in the tinder box, place your appetizer on top of the glowified stuff and blow it to flame. Remember to close the lid of your tinder box to starve the glowified embers of oxygen for your next fire.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Aiming sparks into a char tin

You can also make your own South African tonteldoos (tinder box) for more flint and steel options.

Appetizer aflame, your fire is ready to ravage the kindling salad above it. Surface-area-to-volume ratio (SAV) plays an important role in the combustion of cellulose. This is a fancy way of describing a particles fineness. The more fineness (higher SAV), the more readily wood will burn. Fine twigs/sticks have low ignition times and burn quickly.

Arrangement

Ever watch a cooking show? Chefs know the importance of plating a meal to be visually appealing. Presentation can cause the guest to be attracted or reject the meal based solely on appearance and arrangement. We eat with our eyes.

Here’s a little good news…

Your arrangement of wood (fire lay) doesn’t have to be pretty to be palatable. Fire eats ugly. More information on four down-n-dirty fire lays can be found here.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Appetizer below the salad (twigs) with fuel ready to eat.

When plating your fire’s meal, keep in mind that different arrangements affect how a fire eats.

  • Loose fire lays allow more oxygen to flow through the fuel to burn hotter and quickly dry sticks to the point of combustion. Give your fire plenty of elbow-room to eat.
  • Arrange too tightly and the fire will be choked to death from lack of oxygen. However, once a coal bed is established, a tight arrangement of larger fuel will provide longer burn times.

Boy Scout Juice Substitute

This stuff doesn’t come in liquid form, but it’s the closest thing in my Georgia woods to an accelerant. Fat Lighter’d, fatwood, lighter wood, lighter knot, etc. is the resin-rich heartwood of many dead pine trees.

Fat Lighter’d Facts

  • All natural with no petroleum products
  • Won’t catch your pants on fire at ignition like accelerants
  • Smoke from fat lighter’d makes a great mosquito repellant in a smudge pot
  • The long leaf pine, which was clear-cut to almost extinction, is the best pitch producing pine tree
  • The term ‘fatwood’ came about from the wood in pine stumps being “fat” with resin that was highly flammable
  • There are between 105 and 125 species classified as resinous pine trees around the world

Not every pine is created equal. In my experience, one tree in the pine family, White Pine (Pinus strobus), makes poor fat lighter’d. I discovered its lackluster lighter’d on a winter trip with my buddy Bill Reese. We set up camp on the scenic Raven Cliff Falls Trail near a fallen White Pine. I figured all pines would offer up that beautiful, flammable fat lighter’d for our initial fire needs. Not so. With much labor, I finally nursed life into our traditional fire.

Know the wood in your woods.

Once you develop a taste for traditional fire-making, you’ll realize Boy Scout Juice is not required for a comforting campfire menu.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Make a Waterproof Fire Starter

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It’s well known in the survival world that Vaseline and cotton balls together are one of the best ways to catch a spark and convert it into a flame. So if you have any cotton balls or nearly empty bottles of Vaseline lying around, don’t throw them away! This video will show you how to […]

6 Homesteading Skills You Need To Know—And Where To Get Them

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In this edition of Homesteading Basics, let’s talk about learning homesteading skills you need if you’re going to be a modern-homesteader, and where the best place is to get those skills.

Watch the video here: (video length: 2:38 minutes)

A True Story

My son was using the mower the other day and ran out of gas. 

He left it in the south pasture with the key turned on, and the battery died.

Now he’s off on a trip, and I’m stuck with a dead battery.

This got me thinking about all of the skills you need to be a modern-day homesteader.

Do you have the skills you need?

Here are some basic skills that you’re definitely going to need on your homestead:

  • Basic electrical knowledge
  • Carpentry skills
  • Plumbing knowledge
  • Animal husbandry
  • Gardening methods and techniques
  • Home Medicine

If you don’t already possess this knowledge, these skills can take a while to acquire.

Where to gain homesteading knowledge

One of the best places to get the knowledge you need is to attend a Mother Earth News Fair. They are held all over the U.S. There are a lot of different workshops in a two-to-three-day period. They offer the basic skills you’ll need for your homestead.

Here are a few other suggestions to help you improve your homesteading skills:

Your local farmer
See if he or she will give you a few tips or pointers on something specific, like animal husbandry. Offer to pay him or trade him something that he needs, maybe even your labor.

Big Box Stores
A lot of the big box supply stores offer Saturday morning classes in home improvement skills, including basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry.

Local Community College
Many community colleges offer nighttime and weekend classes in auto repair, small engine repair, carpentry, basic plumbing, and electrical.

Online Classes
There are thousands of online classes from home medicine to gardening. Choose the one that gives you the knowledge you need and works with your schedule.

County Extension Master Gardeners
Master Gardeners are a community of volunteers trained in horticulture by the County Extension Office. You can become a Master Gardener by learning valuable plant and soil information. Then volunteer 40 hours during the year and give your knowledge back to your community. Check your local or state extension office for more information, or call your local Master Gardener hotline for more information on the public classes they offer.

Local Master Classes
In many places, there are local classes offered by specialty groups. For instance, Master beekeepers, Master composters, and others often offer classes for free or a small fee to attend. Look online for groups near you.

YouTube videos
There are hundreds of thousands of videos online to help you gain the skills you need in just about any area of homesteading.

Let’s improve our skills together.

Where are you getting the homesteading skills you need? In the comments below, let us know what skills you have and which ones you need.

The post 6 Homesteading Skills You Need To Know—And Where To Get Them appeared first on The Grow Network.

Australian National Security. Terrorism.

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I did a quick search on the net this morning to see if there were any disaster preparedness surveys or government advice sheets. I found nothing to date. I find this quite amazing. In & post WW2 there was advice on needed supplies, how to preserve foods, how to save money when purchasing food, growing your own food etc etc. The world has changed. My advice, Be Prepared!

A Nation Can Fall

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A Nation Can Fall James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio player below! Another socialist paradise ruled by a charismatic leader, who was loved by Hollywood, has fallen. It goes to show you the great judgement of those we like to idolize in our nation. Sean Penn, most notably, was in love with Hugo Chavez. The … Continue reading A Nation Can Fall

The post A Nation Can Fall appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Secrets of the Forest: The Best Outdoor Education Book I’ve Read

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by Todd Walker

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I recently began working with at-risk youth in our county’s alternative school, Rise Academy. My “job” is to offer project-based learning opportunities to develop self-reliant skills in our students.

My curriculum guide is a blank slate. There are no state approved guides for Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance in academia. I must write my own. Out of necessity, I began to pull from my own experience and those of my mentors. Fortunately, one of my teachers, Mark Warren, director of Medicine Bow, recently published the first in a series of four books, Secrets of the Forest.

Secrets of the Forest, Volume 1, is broken into two parts:

  1. The Magic and Mystery of Plants, and…
  2. The Lore of Survival

I ordered and quickly devoured Volume 1. If you’ve ever wondered how to transfer lost knowledge and skills to our next generation, this book series is your guide. Mark is no newcomer in the world of primitive skills and nature study. He’s been passing on his knowledge to young and old for over a half century. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several of his classes in Dahlonega, Georgia. Mark is a walking encyclopedia of earth-lore and the skills required to call Nature home.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mark showing an impromptu lesson on stringing a bow during a Winter Tree Identification class.

Part 1: The Magic and Mystery of Plants

Students at Medicine Bow are fully submerged in experiential, hands-on learning. Reading Mark’s book is no different. Over 200 original activities are included to engage one’s senses in the forest. Making your own Botany Booklet, written and illustrated by you, is worth the price of this first volume. It only consist of six sheets of folded paper (12 pages) but will set a student on a path of discovery in the amazing green world surrounding us.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sassafras

“Plant study is the foundation upon which all survival skills are built.” ~ Mark Warren, p. 16

Mark is quick to point out that modern humans have lost the instincts of our paleo ancestors regarding plant usage. Therefore, we must approach our study of plants on an academic level. Eating the wrong plant, or wrong part of a plant, in the wrong season can be deadly. However, embracing the study of plants and trees for food, medicine, and craft is worth the time and effort.

I’ve read many online discussions of outdoorsy people expressing their desire to become more proficient in plant identification and use. Many have purchased botanical field guides specific to their locale. These guides are helpful for identification but rarely offer hidden secrets of a plant. In Chapter 6, 100 Plants ~ And Their Many Gifts, Mark offers insight into plants/trees of southern Appalachia which I’ve never read in other botanical books. Color photos of each plant await at the end of this chapter to aid in identification.

Chapter 10 is devoted entirely to Poison Ivy. Anyone spending time outdoors will appreciate the information on this rogue plant. From identification, protecting ourselves, treating the rash, and even making oneself immune, Mark covers it all.

Part 2: The Lore of Survival

“If you get lost out there, the world around you may seem your enemy, but it’s not. It’s just that you’ve forgotten what your ancestors knew a long time ago.”

~ Natalie Tudachi, Blue Panther Woman of the Anigilogi clan, Let Their Tears Drown Them (p. 167 – Secrets of the Forest)

Reading this volume will give you knowledge, but knowing is not enough – there must be urgency in doing the stuff. As with Part 1, many hands-on activities accompany The Lore of Survival section. Chapters include:

  • The First Step ~ getting started in survival skills
  • The Ties That Bind ~ cordage
  • Oh Give Me a Home ~ shelter building
  • Sticks and Stones ~ the multi-use rabbit stick
  • Water, Water Everywhere ~ water purification
  • Hors D’oeuvres of Protein ~ adventures with larvae
  • A Kitchen in the Forest ~ cooking in the wild
  • An Army of Silent Hunters ~ traps and snares
Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Describing the finer details in a tracking class at Medicine Bow.

Mark’s approach to wilderness survival centers around the primitive technology used by the Cherokee who called Southern Appalachia home. Our relationship with “the real world” (forest) becomes intimate as we integrate primitive survival skills. This may seem overwhelming, depending on the forest to provide your needs, so take one skill of interest and practice until proficiency is developed.

Of particular interest to me, since I’m allergic to yellow jacket stings to some degree, is the section on making yellow jacket soup. Larvae, not adults, are used to make a nutty flavored, protein-packed soup. Mark gives detailed descriptions on how to “safely” dig and harvest larva from a yellow jacket nest. My experience with the business end of these stinging insects has prevented me from attempting a heist. However, after reading his experience, it sounds doable even for me.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hands-on learning in a creek studying animal tracks and sign.

I respect Mark Warren a great deal, not only for his passion to share this lost knowledge, but more so because he lives what he describes his book. He traded theory for action decades ago. When purchasing his book or attending his classes, you’ll quickly discover that Mark is the real deal with a depth of experience sorely lacking in the world of outdoor education.

If you teach wilderness living skills, scouts, school children, or just interested in expanding your own outdoor education, I highly recommend Secrets of the Forest! Order yours at his site: Medicine Bow.

While you’re there, check out his class schedule. I’ll be attending The Art of Archery class in September. Mark knows a thing or two about archery. He was the World Long Bow Champion in 1999.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

32 DIY Projects for Preppers

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If you’re the type of prepper who likes to spend time in the garage or outside building your own things, then you need to check out these articles from Skilled Survival. There are enough DIY projects here to keep you busy for a while. The first article is about DIY survival gear and includes a […]

The post 32 DIY Projects for Preppers appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

How to Make Gunpowder Step by Step (With Pics)

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In the Chinese culture, there are four great inventions that are celebrated. You may have recognized them at the Beijing Olympics as they made an appearance at the games. They are: papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder. Although there is a widespread belief that the Chinese only used gunpowder for fireworks, they also used it […]

The post How to Make Gunpowder Step by Step (With Pics) appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society”

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It’s always interesting reading when someone smug and sanctimonious writes a clueless diatribe about another group of people being smug and sanctimonious. So when I saw that an economist for … Read the rest

The post Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society” appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Make At Home

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As some of you may have noticed, I’m no longer curating two articles every week like I used to (in case you don’t know, “curating” is when I make a post about an article on another site). Instead, I’ll just be doing this once a week on Sundays. Sometimes I’ll comment on an article I […]

The post 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Make At Home appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

The Beginner’s Guide to a Well-Hung Hammock

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by Todd Walker

A Beginner's Guide to a Well-Hung Hammock ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Several years ago I decided to give hammock camping a shot. It was miserable!

I’d been better off laying in a zipped body bag. That first morning felt as if my shoulders had been clamped in a vise while wrapped in a cheap tortilla shell. Claustrophobic, sore, and sleepless was not my idea of happy camping.

Here’s the thing. I’m stubborn and didn’t give up on hammock camping. With a few adjustments on my hanging technique, my hammock raised my sleeping to new levels.

Here’s how to avoid the misery of my horrible hammock hang…

A Well-Hung Hammock

“One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp”. ~ Warren H. Miller

A Beginner's Guide to a Well-Hung Hammock ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A typical backyard hammock with spreader bars is not what you take camping.

Camp hammocks are gathered at each end unlike the rope hammocks with spreader bars in the backyard. Ever been dumped out of one of these hammocks? It happens easily because they have a high center of gravity. I stretched my first camp hammock horizontal as tight a banjo string. I thought this would help me lay flat. That’s the biggest mistake I made.

Set the Sag

This is how I make my ENO DoubleNest hammock smile. Smile = Sag.

Wrap your suspension straps (mine are ENO Atlas straps) around two live tree as your anchor points. My straps are a little over head-high depending on the distance between my trees. Now clip the carabiners to the strap loops. Remember to leave a little sag.

In our video below, I replaced Atlas straps with mule tape for my suspension straps. Use whatever works for you.

I have a fixed ridge line (550 paracord) which runs between the two carabiners at both ends of the hammock. Expert hammock campers recommend a non-stretchy cord. I use 550 paracord because that’s what I have a lot of. My set up allows me to adjust the ridge line length, and, thus, make it sag just right.

Here’s how…

A Beginner's Guide to a Well-Hung Hammock ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A bowline knot through one carabiner.

One end of my ridge line is permanently attached to a carabiner. The other end loops through the opposite connector and is tightened with a Trucker’s Hitch knot. I can easily tighten or loosen the line to make my hammock smile just right.

After hanging your hammock, step back to see if it smiles back at you. The middle should be low with both ends high.

Dig the Diagonal 

Why do I like sag better than tight? The sag allows me to lay diagonally so I don’t become a shrink wrapped banana. Sag has revolutionized my sleep!

A Beginner's Guide to a Well-Hung Hammock ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sag allows for a diagonal lay for comfort. No shoulder squeeze!

A smiling hammock is easy to enter and exit. Stand next to your hammock. Spread the fabric with both hands, sit back, and lift your feet over. Now you can easily adjust your body to a diagonal position without fighting taut sides. You’ll know the sweet spot when your body lays flat. To exit your comfortable bedding, hold both side of the hammock and swing your feet over the side to stand up. I sometimes grab the ridge line for assistance.

A Beginner's Guide to a Well-Hung Hammock ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Makes a great camp lounge chair, too!

Knots to Know

I already mentioned the Trucker’s Hitch I use on my fixed ridge line. There are three simple knots I use for my setting up my rain fly (tarp). We’ll cover all three below:

  • Bowline
  • Trucker’s Hitch
  • Prusik Loop

It’s difficult to describe knots in writing. Grab some practice rope and watch this quick video demonstration of these three knots.

Here’s a tip for quickly setting your ridge line for your rain fly/tarp. Wrap the Bowline end around your anchor tree. Instead of threading 25 feet of cordage through the Bowline to cinch it tight to the tree, use a toggle (Our first video above shows an even quicker way to secure a non-weight bearing ridge line). Slip a bite of cordage through the bowline to form a loop. Place a finger-size stick (toggle) through the loop and pull tight against the tree. This ridge line only has to support a lightweight tarp – not your body weight.

Wrap the opposite line end around your other anchor point at the same hight. Secure it with a Trucker’s Hitch.

Place your rain fly/tarp over the ridge line. I have a Prusik Loop which stays connected to my tarp ridge line near the Bowline end. Slip the Prusik Loop through a tie out or grommet hole on the Bowline side of the ridge line. Insert a toggle.

Move down the ridge line keeping the tarp taut to keep the toggle in place. Repeat the same procedure in the above paragraph – but use the loop of the Trucker’s Hitch just like the Prusik Loop. Toggle this loop and pull the tag end of the Trucker’s Hitch to tighten the tarp. Adjust the tarp, right or left, by moving the Prusik Loop and loosening/tightening the Trucker’s Hitch loop.

Stake out the four corners of the tarp. My tarp/fly has tie out line already attached for this purpose. I use a Trucker’s Hitch to secure and tighten the lines around the ground stakes. This creates an A-frame around your hammock.

Another tip worth knowing for warm weather hanging. To take advantage of a breeze, I use a 5-6 foot stick to lift the corners of my tarp. Make a single wrap around the stick at the 4 or 5 foot mark. Take the remaining line and secure it to the ground stake as described above. If you’re lucky, you may have saplings or trees at the right spot making the sticks and stakes unnecessary. This method lifts the corners of your tarp allowing welcome airflow in warm weather.

Cool Weather Hanging

The beauty of hammocks in warmer weather is they allow convective cooling from breezes. I like sleeping cool to cold. However, when temps drop below 60 degrees F, I add a layer of insulation to the bottom of my hammock. Under quilts are available but expensive. I spread a cheap closed cell foam mat inside my hammock and lay out my sleeping bag on top of the mat. This system works for me when temps are in the high teens in Georgia.

Where to Hang

Give careful attention to the 4 W’s when selecting a campsite.

  1. Widow Makers: No dead limbs or trees overhead. Never hang your hammock from a dead tree(s).
  2. Wind: Hang to take advantage of the prevailing wind direction for cooling or warmth.
  3. Water: Close to rivers or creeks but not too close (flash floods). If possible, avoid stagnate, standing water (bugs).
  4. Wood: If open fires are allowed, look for a campsite with standing dead trees close by but not within reach of your hammock.

Hanging from a dead tree is inviting disaster. Not only from falling limbs, but the entire tree could topple over on you.

Additional Resources: 

  • My friend, Glenn (Outside the Box channel), inspired me to continue to tweak my hang with his video below…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

25 Survival Uses for Clothes Pins

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Clothes pins–along with bobby pins, paper clips, and Q-tips–are one of those handy little items that almost everyone has around the house, but most people don’t realize they have multiple functions beyond the ones they were invented for. In this video, the very creative Youtuber known as Sensible Prepper lists 25 ways to use clothespins […]

The post 25 Survival Uses for Clothes Pins appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

JOBS: Preparing for Job Loss…steps to move onward & upward [Updated]

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Yes, I am living it right now. I made a decision and quit a job with the state of Wyoming, moved to Nashville with everything I owned (that I hadn’t sold or gotten rid of) and started from scratch again. Had a job building corporate Dell PCs for two weeks, but after knee surgery 6 months […]

The post JOBS: Preparing for Job Loss…steps to move onward & upward [Updated] appeared first on SurvivalRing.

A Tenderfoot’s Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp

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by Todd WalkerA Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

“Next to the rifle, a backwoodsman’s main reliance is on his axe. With these two instruments, and little else, our pioneers attacked the forest wilderness that once covered all eastern America, and won it for civilization.”

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Not much has more appeal to a young camper than having the opportunity to use an ax. The lure is irresistible. Yet, ax lore is rarely passed down to our younger generation.

The following is a common sense guide which will help a tenderfoot, young or old, learn to safely use an ax for the most basic camp chore – chopping firewood. Keep in mind that “safe” is a relative term. There are risks inherit when an ax is moving, or, even when idle.

Our aim here is to manage the risk, not eliminate it. Not teaching children to cope with the risks and dangers of handling edged tools will never prepare them for real-world self-reliance.

Ax Selection

As I mentioned in our beginner’s guide on knife craft, only you, the parent or guardian, will know when your child is responsible enough to use edged tools. My oldest grandson was seven when I began teaching him how to handle a hatchet.

I recommend a general purpose ax for the beginner. The handle length and weight should fit the user. My favorite felling ax is a double bit. This is NOT the ax for a tenderfoot of any age. A poll ax has only one cutting edge and is recommended for first-timers.

Read our Ax Selection article for more details on choosing your first ax.

A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun.

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Kephart’s advice is sound on carrying a hatchet. And to the tenderfoot, using a short camp hatchet may seem to be the wise choice. However, shorter handled axes are more dangerous to use than longer axes.

Here’s why…

If I miss my target when swinging my 16 inch hatch, the follow-through, when standing, is likely to strike where I do not wish to strike – my body. A full-size ax, 30 to 36 inches long, would likely strike the ground before reaching a foot or knee. For a young boy or girl, swinging a longer ax which weighs 3 to 4 pounds is ridiculous to even think. In the end, the size of the ax must fit the user.

A more suitable choice might be a 3/4 ax, or “Boy’s Ax.” They tend to be armpit to fingertip length with a head weight in the 2 pound range. If camping on foot, this ax trims a few pounds off your pack. Felling trees, splitting firewood, making kindling, and pounding tent stakes can all be done very well with a sharp boy’s ax.

“Safe” Chopping Techniques

There are two basic ways to safely swing an ax: Lateral and vertical chopping. Before you even lay a hand on your ax, be sure no obstructions, people, or pets are in your chopping zone (a circular area two handle lengths around you). Even a small vine or twig can cause your ax to deflect away from your intended target.

Lateral Swings

Lateral swings (diagonal and horizontal) are used mostly to chop down trees. Any stroke outside your frontal zone is considered a lateral swing. What’s your frontal zone?

Adapted from The Ax Book

For more in-depth coverage of lateral swings, read our article link here. I DO NOT recommend that a tenderfoot attempt tree felling until he/she becomes proficient with vertical swings while chopping firewood.

Vertical Swings

Splitting logs into smaller firewood happens to be the most used vertical swing by the average camper. There are three categories for this powerful stroke. For the tenderfoot, we will only concentrate on #1.

  1. Backed-up
  2. Non-backed (dangerous even to experienced woodsmen)
  3. Bucking, or chopping below the level of your feet (not a beginner skill)

The backed-up stroke is the safest of the three for a tenderfoot (or experienced woodsman). Backed-up strokes are performed on piece of robust wood (chopping block or log) wide enough to stop the ax swing momentum. The earth can serve as a back-up but you never want to ground a sharp ax in the dirt.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Notice the position of the wood on the chopping block – to the far side.

Practice your vertical swing by standing a small log (about 6″ in diameter and 12″ long) on top of a wide chopping block. Position the log near the back of the chopping block, not the center or near edge of the block. This allows more room for the ax to strike the chopping block as it separates the round log – or misses completely.

Note: For younger children using a short ax or hatchet, this exercise should be modified. Here’s how I taught my grandson to chop kindling. Adult supervision required!

If you’re grown and strong enough to handle a full or 3/4 ax, stand facing the chopping block. Grip the ax handle with one hand at the base of the handle with the other on top of the bottom hand. Touch the target with the ax in outstretched arms. Raise the ax overhead and strike the top of the log. As you strike the target, bend your knees so that the ax follows through parallel to the ground. This adds another layer of protection to prevent the ax from striking your body on a miss hit or glancing blow.

Increase Ax Accuracy

Accuracy is more important than power. Here are a few tips to help your accuracy…

  • Focus your eyes on the exact spot your want to strike. Aim small, hit small.
  • On the down stroke, the ax handle should follow an imaginary line drawn with your nose if it were a long sharpie marker… right through the small, focused target.
  • Relaxing your grip on the ax to keep your upper body (arms and shoulders) loose. Your brain will automatically tighten your grip for impact.
  • Let the ax do the work. You can add power to strokes as your accuracy increases.

A fun way to practice accuracy is to stand a kitchen match or toothpick vertically in a chopping block. Using a safe stance and full swing, try to split the match/toothpick. You may never strike it but this gives automatic feedback on how close you come to your tiny target. If you actually light a kitchen match on a swing, well, you’re an elite axman!

Improvised Back-Ups

What if there is no “proper” chopping block available at your campsite? Here are two alternative methods I’ve used over the years.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This is a Y-branch from a Red Oak I’ve used for years at fixed camp.

With a little effort you may happen upon a large Y-shaped branch. Place a round piece in the “Y” on the ground. Straddle the bottom of the Y. Strike the round cradled at the top of the Y. Keep in mind that the Y is not as high off the ground as your previous chopping block. Therefore, bend your knees even more to keep the downward ax swing parallel to the ground. Once a round is split, place the halved log back in the Y with the round side up. It’s much easier to split from the round side than the flat.

You may only find a straight log or split wood to use as a back-up. Lay the round to be split perpendicular over the back-up log. Stand with the back-up between your feet and the round. In other words, the round touching the ground should NOT be on the same side of the back-up log as your feet. That setup is inviting injury.

Splitting Without Swinging

To half and quarter smaller logs safely, keep this technique in mind. This works well with smaller axes and camp hatchets. With the ax in your strong hand and the round in the other hand, place the ax bit on the opposite end of the round. Lift the ax and round together and tap them on a chopping block to start the ax bit in the wood. The handle should run parallel down the length of the round now. Now you can lift them both and slam them down on the chopping block. Repeat until the round separates.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Always kneel to the ground when using a short ax/hatchet.

If the wood doesn’t separate, slam the pieces again so that the ax bit sinks into the chopping block. Now give the wood a sideways twist with your off-hand and it usually separates.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The ax bit serves as fulcrum as you twist with your off-hand to separate the wood.

To cut smaller stuff (wrist-size and smaller) to firewood length, chop at a 45 degree angle to the grain… on a back-up, of course. The end that separates can go flying so be careful.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

This forked tree stacked the firewood as it broke.

You may not even need to chop long, wrist-size firewood. If you have two trees close together, place the round between them and use leverage to break the round into pieces. Or, just burn them in half over the fire.

Safety Reminders

As I mentioned previously, an ax can cause injury while in use or when idle. Practice the following to decrease the risk to you and others.

  • Keep your ax sheathed when not in use. When in use, sink the single bit into a heavy chopping block instead of laying it on the ground unsheathed.
  • Keep your swing zone clear.
  • Axes are daylight tools. Never chop in dark conditions.
  • Only use a sharp ax. Dull axes will not bite into wood and glance off.
  • Only chop firewood that is backed-up properly.
  • Always check that the axhead is securely fixed to the handle. If it becomes loose, stop chopping.
  • If you become fatigued, stop and rest.
  • An ax is a tool, not a toy!

Additional Resources

As you become proficient chopping firewood, expand your ax skills. Check out the resources in our Axe Cordwood Challenge Page with links to our ax videos/blogs and other skilled axmen I respect.

This is the third post in our First-Timer’s series aimed at getting people outside. Here are the previous articles:

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

The gender pay gap – as measured by 1000ths of an inch

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Here’s a quick word association test – how big is the gender pay gap? How
much less are women paid for doing the same work? You might automatically
say 30% less. Or 25% less. Or even 21% less. These are all common figures,
all used by various experts, celebrities and even heads of state. Yet they
are all totally and tragically wrong.

There is no gender pay gap. It is a complete myth.

1/1000th of an inch is the width of a human hair. That’s about the real
size of the gender pay gap – and it is probably in favor of women.

How could that be? The gender pay gap is common knowledge. As carved in
stone as 365 1/4 days in a year or 5280 feet in a mile. You don’t even have
to think about things like this.

That, of course, is the problem. You don’t think about it. You got your
information about the gender pay gap from a reliable source at some point
in the past and have had no reason to think about it since.

If you did think about it, however, it would be quite obvious that there
were serious problems with it. The fact is – and you know this already – if
a man and a woman worked in adjacent cubicles doing exactly the same work,
then they would get exactly the same pay. Their cubicles would be exactly
the same size. And there would probably be exactly the same number of steps
to the washroom and to their parking spaces. Because if that were not the
case, it would be against the law in any western country. The company would
be charged with discrimination and forced to pay a huge fine. Furthermore,
the woman would sue the company – and win – and get a huge settlement. In
addition the resultant bad publicity could actually force the company out
of business. So no company would pay men and women differently for the same
job. They simply would not dare to take that much risk for such a small
reward.

Another, humorous side of this argument is made by Christina Hoff Somers –
who calls herself The Factual Feminist. She says that if women really could
be paid a lot less for the same work, then every company would immediately
fire all of its men and hire all those low paid women to do the same work. (
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oqyrflOQFc)

But, of course, they don’t.

So it’s pretty clear when you do think about it – a gender pay gap for the
same work simply does not and could not exist in today’s workplace.

Why then do feminists continue to claim such a pay gap exists? Again,
Christina Hoff Somers suggests that it is agenda driven. Modern day
feminists need women to be victims, oppressed by the evil patriarchy in
order to have something to fight against. So they keep using the gender pay
gap as a trigger to get people riled up.

In fact, if there was an evil patriarchy oppressing women, why would it let
more women into universities than men, allow more women than men to graduate
universities, give women advantages in private sector job hunting, as well
in criminal and in family courts. Pretty inefficient patriarchy.

If they are so patently wrong, then where did these pay gap figures of 30%
less, 25% less and 21% less come from? Benjamin Disraeli once said there
are three kinds of lies. Lies. Damned lies. And statistics. And that’s
exactly where the discrepancy figures come from. Milo Yiannopoulos, the
Conservative speaker, who recently billed himself as The Dangerous Faggot
on his tour of American Universities, says the figure comes from bad math
and bad economics.  If you take the earnings of all women who work and
compare it to the wages earned by all men who work, there will be a gap.
But it’s certainly not a gap in pay for doing the same work. It’s a
statistic and one that lies, because it doesn’t take into account the life
choices women make – to have a more balanced life, rather than to spend
every waking moment at work. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTcy4GiN1iQ)

Dr Jordan Peterson, a Psychology Professor from the University of Toronto
expands upon this idea, saying that competitive places, like top law firms
simply cannot keep their female lawyers after age 35, because there are
innate differences between men and women, and at that age women generally
decide that they simply do not want to spend 8 hour weeks working and every
waking moment in the office. They’d rather have a more balanced life.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq_QjDbkLuA)

The point is, with a little research and a bit of thinking, it’s obvious
that there is no gender pay gap for the same work. It’s a myth. Even
measured in 1/1000ths of an inch, there is no difference. The question, of
course is, why don’t more people question it? Why didn’t you?

The truth is, like most of us, you probably don’t have lot of spare time.
What little you do have you don’t want to waste on things like calculating
how many feet in a mile. Or how many days in a year. You simply take the
figures for granted.

This exercise illustrates not so much about the agenda of modern feminists
or about the mythical gender pay gap, but rather a phenomenon that Tom
Peters in the Search for Excellence books defined as a “blinding flash of
the obvious”. Maybe you need to reorganize your life so you do have more
time. More time to think. More time to spend with your friends and family.
More time to relax and enjoy life.

The path to this state of being is probably to become your own boss – which
the internet let’s you do now with little to no investment and a lot
greater job satisfaction and a lot more fun. For example, you could set up
your own website quite affordably and write out a blog every week or every
day. It could become very popular very quickly and begin attracting
advertisers and paying you, in some cases, even more than you earn now. If
you have a lot of opinions you’d like to share, this is something you can
do easily, from anywhere in the world. Here’s an idea how to get started. (
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Website)

Another exciting possibility is making a regular podcast. You can do this
in audio alone or audio and video. All you really need to do this is a
smart phone with a camera. Once you’re done you upload your podcasts, which
can contain your opinions on big issues, your take on breaking news and
even your conversations with your friends. It could be serious. It could be
comedy. It could be dramatic. But it’s said to be the most fun you can have
with your clothes on. You upload your finished productions to YouTube and
when your unique brand of entertainment catches on, you can make millions
from advertisers or from viewer contributions. Thousands of people are
doing just that right now, and more are coming on-line every hour. Here’s
an idea of how to do a podcast: (http://www.podbean.com/start-podcast)

If you don’t have strong opinions or you don’t want to put yourself up
front as a target, however, there’s an even more comfortable way to be your
own boss on the intenet and make the money you need to take care of things.
Selling. This is far beyond selling a few things out of the garage on
eBay. This is serious business. Internet millionaires can teach you how to
join their exclusive club and show you how to sell pretty well anything to
anybody and make a big profit on the transaction. One way to learn this
skill is here: (https://go.preppers.org/action-plan-video)

All of these exciting internet possibilities can be tried out without
giving up your day job. See what works for you before you make huge
changes in your life. But start working towards a future that gives you
more control, more spare time and quite possibly even more money.

The Gender pay gap is a myth. And so is the idea that you have to work long
hours for someone else. You are the author of your own novel. Make it into
an exciting story, starting today. Write on.

The post The gender pay gap – as measured by 1000ths of an inch appeared first on American Preppers Network.

A Beginner’s Guide to Knife Craft for Kids

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by Todd Walker

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’ll never forget my first one. It had two blades, one long, one short, which folded into the wood grain handle with a snapping sound only good pocket knives make. I had crossed over, in my mind, from boy to man with my knife in the bottom of my jeans pocket. I had finally become a part of a long line of Southern knife toters.

No man in my family would ever be caught without a sharp pocketknife while wearing pants. The tool was used for everything from peeling a fresh Georgia peach, gutting a blue gill, cutting bailing twine, sharpening a carpenter’s pencil, and for the inevitable splinter removal while chopping firewood. But, by far, the most relaxing task was whittling on a stick as the aroma of wood smoke soaked into our clothes and canvas tent.

Without a knife, a man from my parts was close to useless.

For this tutorial on beginner knife use, we’ll cut through all the fluff and get back to the basics of selecting and using a knife safely.

Knife Selection

As the parent, only you will know when your child is responsible enough to use a knife. When that time comes, allow him/her to hold and use several knives to test the fit in smaller hands. My first knife was the pocket knife described above. For camping and other outdoor activities, we’ll focus our attention on sheath knives (non-folding).

However, if you decide to go with a jack knife (pocket knife), which is hard to beat for simple whittling, steer away from multitool types. They’re too fat, bulky, and uncomfortable for longterm use. Buy a folder with three or less blades. The handle should have smooth edges to prevent hot spots which lead to blisters. When gripped, your child should have enough room to rest his thumb on the knife handle and not the open blade.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two blade, three blade, and a multi-blade knife.

No need to spend a lot of money on a kid’s first sheath knife. I bought my grandson his first fixed-blade knife, a Mora Companion, for under $15.00. This four-inch blade has a non-slip handle which fits his hand. There is also a slight knob on the forward handle near the blade for added protection against slipping a hand down the blade. The carbon steel is easy to sharpen and maintain. The scandi grind really bites into wood to produce fine, controlled shavings when whittling.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

L to R: Mora Companion, Mora Classic, and a smaller Classic. Below is Fixin’ Wax and steel wool.

The spine of the sheath knife (opposite of the cutting edge) isn’t given much thought to new campers. It’s not the business end of your blade, right? Not true. A 90 degree spin comes in handy for many camp tasks such as creating fat lighter shavings, sparking ferro rods, and smoothing wood surfaces. If your knife spine is rounded, take a bastard file to the edge and create right angles on the spin. Our video below demonstrates the usefulness of a sharp spin in fire craft…

A fixed blade sheath should hold your child’s knife firmly in place. If you turn the sheath upside down, the knife should stay put.

Knife Safety

Our gun community does an excellent job of teaching gun safety to children. The same should be taught concerning knives. A knife is a tool, not a toy. A sharp knife holds potential for serious injury, even death. There are inherit dangers with edged tools. With proper training, supervision, and experience (and a few band aids), your child will soon build confidence in his new skills.

Here’s a few safety guidelines to remember:

  • To remove a knife from a belt sheath like the Mora Companion, grip the handle and place your thumb on sheath tab. With gentle downward pressure from the thumb, the knife will release. Do not forcefully pull the knife as you will lose control of the blade. Return the knife in the same manner, in a controlled manner, until the blade snaps back into the sheath. In the beginning stage of practice, you may want to add a strip of painters tape to the cutting edge until you demonstrate proficiency in the process.
A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Grip handle and press the thumb tab to safely remove blade.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  • Only use a knife when your Blood Circle is clear of others and obstacles. To define the Blood Circle, stand with arms outstretched. Turn full circle to make sure no other person is within this space.
  • Never whittle with a knife within your Blood Triangle. It may seem natural to whittle between your legs while in the seated position with knees spread. Cutting within this danger zone, a triangle formed between your knees and crotch, is inviting disaster. One slip and the blade could plunge into the femoral artery.
  • For basic whittling, always cut away from your body. There are times when cutting towards the body is acceptable, but these strokes are for more advanced users.
  • With a knife in hand, it is your responsibility to make sure no person is within your Blood Circle. If someone enters, stop whittling and sheath your knife.
  • Keep your knife sharp (We’ll cover sharpening in a later article). It may sound contrary, but a dull knife poses more danger than a sharp one. It takes more applied force to make a dull knife cut wood or potatoes. A keen edge slices with more control.
  • Never attempt to catch a falling knife.
  • Keep your knife sheathed when not in use. Do not walk, much less run, around with an unsheathed knife.
  • To pass your knife to someone, hold the spin between your curled index finger and thumb with the handle towards the person. When the fellow grips the handle, don’t release the blade until he says “thank you.” This lets you know he has a firm grip on the handle.
A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

“Thank you”

Knife Care

Carbon steel blades are sharpened more easily than stainless steel. However, high carbon will rust if neglected. Always wipe excess moisture from the blade after each use. Lubricate your blade with a food safe oil before stowing your knife for your next adventure.

If a rust spot appears, hit the area with 0000 steel wool and apply oil. My go-to lubricant is my DiY Fixin’ Wax. This stuff has many uses for camping and woodcraft.

Whittling Skills

Once you’ve learned and demonstrated the above safety tips, it’s time to do some whittling. You’ll need a softwood stick with no knots. Pine, tulip poplar, and basswood are all good choices. If green, pine will coat your blade and hands with resin. Fixin’ Wax will remove the sap from both. Dowels from hardware stores will work as well. Find a stick about an inch in diameter and about a foot or two long. A longer stick can be tucked between your elbow and side for extra stability while whittling.

Overhand Grip

The overhand grip will be your most used method in basic whittling. Place the spine side of the handle in the palm of your strong hand. The spine/back of the handle should lay in the “V” between your thumb and index finger. Don’t put a death grip on the handle until your knuckles turn white. Relax your hand. Your brain will tell your hand when to grip the handle tight in use. With your arm and fist extended in front of you, the cutting edge will face away from your body.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Back of handle fits into the V between your thumb and index finger. It’s like you’re shaking hands with the handle.

The first step will be to remove the bark from the stick. This helps you get the feel for how the blade bits into the wood. With the stick gripped in your off-hand, begin slicing the bark off your stick with controlled slices an inch or so below/past your off-hand. Try not to dig your blade into the wood beneath the bark. When half the bark is removed, flip the stick and remove the other half.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Remember to work outside your Blood Triangle.

Now sharpen one end of the stick to a pencil point. Gradually begin shaving small amounts of wood off to a point. No need to hurry the process. Just relax and enjoy whittling. If you get tired, stop and rest. Fatigue leads to careless mistakes.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Gradual strokes to get to the point.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Try to make your stick resemble a sharpened pencil.

Thumb Lever/Push Cut

This technique, a bit more advanced, allows you make controlled cuts for notches and detailed carving work. Yep, it’s time to notch the opposite end of the pencil point your just whittled. You’re about to create your first tent stake.

Using an overhand grip, rock the blade of your knife perpendicular on your stick about an inch or two on the end opposite the pencil point. Cutting across the grain of wood with an edged tool is difficult and applies lots of downward pressure. It’s best to place the stick on a support (a chopping stump, large log, etc.). Rock the blade until you create a 1/8 to 1/4 inch kerf across the grain.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cut across the grain on a solid support.

You’re now ready to use the thumb lever. Grip the stick with your off-hand about an inch or so from the kerf you just rocked. Maintain your overhand grip with the blade resting an inch down from the kerf. Grip the stick with your off-hand just behind the blade. Place your off-hand thumb on the knife handle in the “V” of your strong hand. Angle the blade into the wood and push the handle with your off-hand thumb until the blade reaches the kerf. Again, take small, shallow cuts until you reach the bottom of the kerf. You’ll want to rock the blade in the kerf until your reach about 1/3 the diameter of the stick. Continue alternating between each cut for a smooth notch to tie off your tent or tarp line.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You thumb acts as a fulcrum to leverage your blade through wood safely.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One last cut to finish your tent stake. On the notched end of the stick (the end you’ll pound on to drive the stake), whittle off a small portion of the right angle edge (1/8 inch) of the rim. This chamfer cut will help prevent the stake from splitting when pounded into the ground.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use the thumb lever to remove the sharp edge. Keep your fingers safely below the top edge of the stick.

Congrats on making your first tent stake!

As your skills progress, try carving a few simple pot hooks for your camp kitchen. I think you’ll find your journey into woodcraft and camping to be very rewarding. Knife craft is only the beginning… now get outside and whittle something useful!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

JOBS: Preparing for Job Loss…steps to move onward & upward.

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Yes, I am living it right now. I made a decision, and quit a job with the state of Wyoming, moved to Nashville with everything I owned (that I hadn’t sold or gotten rid of) and started from scratch again. Had a job building corporate Dell PCs for two weeks, but after knee surgery 6 months […]

The post JOBS: Preparing for Job Loss…steps to move onward & upward. appeared first on SurvivalRing.

25 Survival Uses for Q-Tips / Cotton Swabs

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Q-tips, cotton buds, cotton swabs, or whatever you want to call them, can be found in almost every single household. So if you’re a prepper, you may as well learn how to use cotton swabs in a survival scenario. In this video, Sensible Prepper shares 25 survival uses for cotton swabs. Below is the complete […]

The post 25 Survival Uses for Q-Tips / Cotton Swabs appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

13 Prepper Uses for Plastic Sheeting

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For those who are prepping for tougher times, there are certain items whose number of uses is almost limitless. Duct tape comes to mind, as does paracord, but another item that certainly deserves consideration for one of the most useful things you can have is plastic sheeting. From collecting rainwater to making a shelter, there’s […]

The post 13 Prepper Uses for Plastic Sheeting appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Prepper Apologetics!

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I recently completed a three-art series of videos in which I answer the three most common objections to preparedness, self-reliance, and survivalism that I hear from people. Here are the videos:

1) Is Preparedness and Self Reliance Selfish?

2) Are Preppers failing to trust God? 

3) HA! HA! It hasn’t happened! 

I hope you enjoyed these videos. Please subscribe to my You Tube channel. Please remember that I am not a public speaker and am relatively new to making videos.  Consider me still learning! 

How To Build An Underground Survival Bunker From Scratch

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The whole underground shelter thing is not as cut and dry as you may think. I have serious reservations about long term bunker living. How effective would it actually be? How mind-numbing would it be? Having a short-term bunker or storm shelter, on the other hand, is an idea that I can get behind. Even […]

The post How To Build An Underground Survival Bunker From Scratch appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

10 Ways to Get Survival Supplies When You Have Almost No Money

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Prepping for a disaster can be expensive. While fully-stocked private bunkers and steel safes full of weapons and supplies are great for the wealthy, low-income people need to be able to survive when the SHTF, too. Thankfully, prepping for tough times doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you are looking for a way to get […]

The post 10 Ways to Get Survival Supplies When You Have Almost No Money appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

7 Reasons You Should Raise Backyard Chickens

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Not only is the idea of backyard chickens a fun one, there is so much to gain from this little, feathered friend. Owning chickens for me is about a mutual relationship where they offer me so much and I am responsible for protecting them. This is not always an easy thing to do. Chickens are […]

The post 7 Reasons You Should Raise Backyard Chickens appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons

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by Todd Walker

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Bill Reese, Instinct Survivalist

Early on I took to the woods and never outgrew it. Exploring every creek bend, barefooted as the day I born, cane pole in one hand, and one of Mama’s soup cans half-full of hand-dug worms, fishing has never been as fun. Chiggers, aggravating as they are, were no match for my need to be out there. Georgia red clay joined my toes and soul to our woods.

Not much has changed in my mid 50’s. The Monday morning question always comes from a few of my students…

“Mr. Walker, did you go to the woods this weekend?”

“Yup. You know I did.”

“I saw your video. You were chopping wood.”

My eighth graders live vicariously through my outdoor adventures. They want to learn how to use an ax, identify plants and trees, rub sticks together to build a campfire, get muddy, and sleep soundly in the woods. Their innate curiosity gnaws at them like a beaver on a Sweet Gum. But those pesky rules. I stop the stories and press on through the math lesson. But some stuff just doesn’t add up.

I wonder, would time in the woods help these students? Recess is a historic relic. No green spaces for free-play and wild exploration, just red ink on paper. You know my thoughts if you’ve read any of my work. Kids, and especially all of us over-busy and strained grownups, could benefit from the human-nature connection.

Science proves it. But woods loafers don’t need studies as proof. We experience the benefits firsthand with everything that’s wild and free and good in the woods.

Woods Loafing

Some friends and coworkers have the idea that I live in the woods like Jeremiah Johnson based on this blog and social media. Not hardly. I live in a typical neighborhood. I’m fortunate to have my fixed camp a short drive from my house. Like the vast majority of readers, town is where I live and make a living. The forest is where I play and learn.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned from being a woods loafer…

#1) Be Wild

The distinction between “wilderness” and wild places (nature) needs to be made. The disturbing attitude that wilderness skills are not as real unless demonstrated in a wilderness setting is invalid. YouTubers go to great lengths to get the setting just right so as to build credibility and authority and views. Break that “wilderness” protocol with a touch of civilization, even an occasional airplane overhead, and the hardcore purist may unsubscribe.

I love going to Back of Beyond, a place Mr. Kephart was so fond of. However, if I had to wait to practice wilderness living skills in a vast wilderness, I’d still be a novice. Some of my most memorable woods loafing lessons have come close to home.

My backyard is full of wild things and nature. The tract of land surround my middle school is full of wild nature, despite being bordered by a railroad track and I-20. Practicing skills, or just observing nature, need not take a tank of fuel and three hours of driving to reach. Read our Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required article for practical ideas.

Developing wilderness living skills is my greatest unfinished work. I’m not moving to a vast wilderness to live alone like Dick Proenneke. However, building a log cabin with hand tools is on my woods loafing bucket list.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Reconstructing old cabins with tulip poplar at Foxfire Museum

#2: Be Still

Drop me in any patch of woods and my eyes shine like new money. Every sense awakens. Sounds, aromas, textures, sights, even tastes are heightened. From where I park my truck, the walk to my fixed camp would take only a few minutes at a normal pace. Intentionally, many trips there take much longer.

Creeping slowly along the creek side to spot crawdads or admire trout lily blooms bending low requires a deliberate decision to slow down. Instead of breaking into the woods like a jack hammer on concrete, make as small a ripple as possible. In doing so, the non-human participants of nature are more likely to return to their normal everyday life.

I sometimes find a comfortable spot where I can sit and be still. Try this yourself. Look out over the landscape and relax your eyes. Look but don’t focus on anything in particular. Allow time for your ripples in the forest to settle. You’ll begin to notice movements and sounds and critters you would have missed by tramping through the woods. Jot down reflexions and observations in your note pad or journal.

I watched this family of otters feasting on crawdads one day as I sat quietly on a creek side. Pardon the shaky camera.

#3: Be Curious

The idea of wilderness living first came from animals. They lived in the forest before humans. We learned how they moved, stalked, and slept by observation and curiosity.

For instance, the concept of staying warm in an emergency debris shelter came from our bushy-tail friends. A squirrel’s home, nestled in a tree fork, viewed from the ground may appear to be just a large bird nest with an open, cupped design. However, upon closer inspection you’d find the two tree homes differ greatly. A squirrel nest is not open but an enclosed dome shape built of sticks, leaves, and shredded forest material. This design is efficient for shedding water and holding warmth in cold weather.

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The inside of a debris hut built at a Georgia Bushcraft Campout

Math is all about making sense of patterns. Have you noticed patterns in nature? How about the spirals on a pine cone? Or the number pattern of limbs on trees? There’s actually a name for this, the Golden Ratio (phi = 1.61803…) or the Fibonacci sequence.

 

If you’d really like to get your geek on in the woods, research theses terms and start counting tree limbs and flower pedals. Not every plant and animal displays the Fibonacci pattern but enough do to make this a valid pattern occurring in nature.

#4: Be Resourceful

Wild nature provides more than just a refreshing walk in the woods. Resources are at every turn. I wonder as I’m woods loafing if the dead tree up ahead would give me fire by friction. Or if fibers from the green plant to the left would make strong cordage. As my human-nature journey continues, my eyes are keen to spot a tree or plant I’ve used for food, medicine, or craft. Experiencing the usefulness of woodland resources for yourself builds confidence, comfort, and appreciation for nature.

A while back a misguided youth vandalized my fixed camp. One of the first things I checked on inside my shelter was my collection of wood, stone, and bones. A few modern items went missing, but my most prized resources were of no value to the vandal. You learn to value the trees, rocks, dirt, leaves, bark, and vines you can name and use. Become intimate with nature’s gifts.

A Swiss Army Bread Bag as a Common Man's Haversack

Pine sap collected to make pitch glue sticks. The vandal saw no use in this resource

Not all resources in nature are physical and easily seen.

#5: Be Healed

Woods loafing is my process for body-mind-spirit alignment. It allows me to focus inward and center my mind and body for optimal performance.

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Raven Cliff Falls

Five years ago, after regaining her strength from chemo treatment, Dirt Road Girl wanted to go back and visit her favorite hiking destination, Raven Cliff Falls. Our slow pace and frequent stops allowed us to take in more scenery than ever before. There are times in life, unforgettable moments, where spiritual healing takes place. This hike was one of them.

Spiritual stuff is impossible to measure. But it’s real. Infinitely real. I experience the Infinite when woods loafing. Nature subtly draws my soul to that which is bigger and smarter than I. What appears to be primordial chaos in nature is full of order. Discovering this order through woods loafing humbles me and makes God smile.

Go. Get out there!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Know the Risk: Wildfire Preparedness Before You Need It

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If you live in an area that is susceptible to wildfire, it can be scary. Your best course of action is to know the risk, be aware and prepare for wildfires | PreparednessMama

Be Aware and Prepare If you live in an area that is susceptible to wildfire, it can be scary. Your best course of action is to know the risk, be aware and prepare for wildfires. For our last seven years in Oregon, we lived in a wonderful little town of 2500 people called Estacada.  It is […]

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15 Things You Should Be Hoarding (And Why)

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Nearly everyone has a drawer, closet or room filled with, well, stuff. The word ‘hoarding’ generally evokes terrifying images of a house overflowing with useless junk – newspapers from the past thirty years, every can or bottle the hoarder has ever drunk from, and a seemingly endless supply of containers, wires, screws, and other things […]

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How to Make Beeswax Soap

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Written by Cornelia Adams on The Prepper Journal.

I decided to make beeswax soap for Christmas gifts last year.  It has been on my list of things I should probably know how to do and when my stepfather, who keeps bees, brought me seven pounds of beeswax from his hives, I thought the time was right.

I started my soap-making adventure with a recipe for beeswax soap from the book, “Beeswax Alchemy”.  This book contains directions for making candles, balms and bars, salves, cream and scrubs, soap, and even beeswax art.

BEESWAX – WHERE TO GET IT AND HOW TO HANDLE IT

You can either acquire your beeswax from a beekeeper, which I was fortunate enough to be related to, or you can buy it online and it comes in handy little balls that are easy to measure and melt.  The wax I had was in giant hunks which I sawed off with a bread knife.  I do not recommend this method.  It’s maddening.  Since then I have learned another method which would have saved me a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

First, beeswax becomes brittle when frozen and is much easier to cut.  Secondly, and I think I will go this route next time, the wax can be melted and poured onto a large cookie sheet lined with freezer paper.  Once hardened, the wax can be broken off into small chunks without sawing at it like a crazed butcher.

You can make soap without beeswax, however, I wanted to use the beeswax I had on hand because the scent is wonderful and it has conditioning properties that I wanted to in my soap.  There is a very basic non-beeswax soap recipe found here.

LYE, LYE, LYE

Without lye, there is no soap.  Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is required to make the chemical reaction that makes soap.  Period.  I had seen lye in the hardware store for cleaning out drains and thought that there must be a softer, gentler lye available for making soap.   To my surprise, the lye I made soap with to give my loved ones was made with the same highly caustic chemical that will burn the eyes out of your head.  Since lye is so dangerous, I want to give you some tips:

  1. Measure everything correctly. This is not the time for measuring with your eyes, use a digital scale, it is most accurate. If your lye to fat ratio is off, or you have added too much beeswax you will waste your time because your soap will be sludgy or rubbery.
  2. Once you have added the water to lye, it’s all business. Wear clothing to cover your skin and protective eye-wear.
  3. When the water is added it creates fumes that should not be breathed in. I didn’t know this and I leaned over the pot of lye and took a deep breath.  I am still here, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  4. ONLY USE STAINLESS STEEL! The lye will react badly with other metals.  I bought a stainless steel pot that I use only for soap making.  I just cannot make mashed potatoes and serve them from the same pot that had a toxic chemical in it.  I am just weird that way.

Other equipment you need to make soap

  1. Immersion blender –  This is a luxury item.  You can mix all your ingredients up with a STAINLESS STEEL whisk, but I have to tell you, this blender made mixing so much faster and easier.
  2. Freezer paper – You can buy large rolls of it and it is essential for lining cardboard if you are making your own rectangular molds.  It is also nice to wrap the soap in and tie with twine to give as gifts or just to store for yourself.
  3. Soap molds vs. cardboard – If you use the cardboard and make a box (approximately the size of a bread pan) and line with freezer paper.  I bought a silicon soap mold that was the right size.  The advantage of a mold is that it will be more durable than cardboard over time and you don’t have to fool with the freezer paper.  You can get fancier molds INSERT AMAZON LINK HERE that have lovely designs in them, but I opted for the box shape and cut with a blade for a more homesteader look.
  4. Fragrance – I bought essential oils and used the lemongrass. Any of the essential oils will work great, but I would buy the most concentrated possible so the scent is present.  You can combine scents to create something unique, or just use one of them for a distinguishable scent.

Beeswax Soap Making Material List

  • olive oil – 358g
  • coconut oil – 225g
  • palm oil – 177g
  • castor oil – 32g
  • beeswax – 7.2g
  • distilled water – 266g divided
  • lye – 111g
  • honey – 1 TBS
  • fragrance – 2 TSP
  • disposable paper bowl
  • stainless steel bowl for lye
  • stainless steel pot or microwave save container for oils
  • stainless steel whisk or immersion blender
  • digital scale
  • mold
  • freezer paper (if using cardboard)
  • digital thermometer INSERT AMAZON LINK HERE

Yield – eight 4 ounce bars

How do you make soap?

  1. Measure out the lye and place in disposable paper bowl.

  1. Measure out 148 grams of distilled water and pour into stainless steel bowl. Place bowl onto heat resistant surface and then add dry lye crystals to water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY AROUND)  Stir until lye is completely dissolved.  Set aside to cool.

SIDE NOTE:  Those new to digital scales, this is for you.  When measuring ingredients, first select the TARE WEIGHT and then set the container that will hold what you are measuring (ex. plastic cup, bowl, etc.)  This will analyze the weight of the container so that weight is NOT included in the weight of the ingredients.  Then, once the TARE WEIGHT is selected, the scale should read 0.0 (give or take some zeroes) and then you can add the ingredients to be weighed.  If you are not using a digital scale you will have to weigh the container then add the ingredients and subtract the weight of the container to get actual weight of ingredients.

  1. Microwave the honey, 118g of remaining water, and microwave until dissolved.
  2. Prepare the mold.
  3. Heat all the solid oils and beeswax in a stainless steel pot. Add the liquid oils (excluding honey and water mixture) and stir.
  4. Check temperature of lye and the oils. This is crucial!  To keep beeswax from getting hard, the oils need to be around 120 F.  The lye needs to be 120 F as well.
  5. Now add honey water to the lye water ONLY when it has reached the correct temperature. Sometimes this will result in a color change, which is normal.

  1. Now pour the lye water into the oils and mix with the stainless steel whisk or the immersion blender.
  2. When the mixture begins to looks creamy, it has emulsified and this is the time to add your fragrance.
  3. Keep mixing until it looks like a light cake batter. This is called the trace.

  1. Quickly pour into prepared mold or cardboard container lined with freezer paper. Scrape every bit of residue from the pot with a high-temp spatula.

  1. Tap soap mold on the counter to remove air. Smooth out the top and cover mold with cardboard to hold heat in.
  2. In twenty-four hours the soap should be cool enough to cut. If it seems too soft, then wait and continue checking every 4-6 hours.  Once it is hard enough to cut into bars, I cut it with a blade made for cutting soap.  The handle and size made cutting more even and straight.  I wrapped my soaps in freezer paper and twine and stored them in a cool dry spot.
  3. I also allowed my soaps to cure for 30 days because more water will evaporate from them, resulting in a longer lasting soap bar. I hated the thought of going through this process only for the soaps to sludge away in the shower.

The finished product – looks like… soap.

FOR THE HARDCORE SOAPERS – MAKE YOUR OWN LYE

For those that are more adventurous than myself, this is probably the best article describing how to make your own lye.

END RESULT

Like anything else, there are pros and cons, here they are:

PROS

Making soap is a good skill to have under your belt.  One day you may not be able to drive to your local Walmart and pick up a bar of Ivory soap.

They make wonderful gifts!

It is natural and uses a bi-product produced by our dear friend, the honeybee.

This soap is the best if you have sensitive skin, eczema, or other skin conditions.  It will leave you clean without the drying effects of the cheaper commercial soaps.

CONS

The next time I make it, the cost will be significantly less, but it will definitely cost more than cheap drugstore soap.  You can always stock up on the cheap stuff in the event of an emergency and you can shower yourself clean with the best of them.  Personally, I like the idea of having a chemical-free, all natural way to clean up.

The post How to Make Beeswax Soap appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

The Urgency of Doing: Knowing is NOT Enough

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by Todd Walker

Bewildered, you approach two doors. One reads Self-Reliance. The other reads Books About Self-Reliance. Which will you open?

500 years after the life of Leonardo da Vinci, his words resonate in my soul.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

In one of his thousands of notebook entries, da Vinci wrote, “I know I am not a man of letters, experience is my one true mistress, and I will cite her in all cases. Only through experimentation can we truly know anything.”

In 1452, born a bastard son, Leonardo’s future was bleak. No formal education was offered to illegitimate children in his day. Apprenticeships to professional guilds was out of the question. He had no choice but to bootstrap his way out of a situation which he had no control over. In spite of all the obstacles, da Vinci reached genius status as a painter, engineer, botanist, scientist, anatomist, sculptor, and inventor.

How did he become the ultimate Renaissance Man?

He traded theory for action.

Designed for Doing

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. ~ Aristotle

There are two classes of knowledge: Experiential and Theoretical. Near the end of my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to Experiential Learning Theory. It’s worth another look when comparing book learning to hands-on self-reliance.

Book Knowledge (Conventional Training)

I’m not anti-book. I have books stacked, shelved, and archived all over the house. However, it is one thing to read about self-reliance and another to apply what you’ve read for self-reliant living. Skills only become yours by doing.

Conventional training (here’s a book, go read it – or lectures) is based on knowledge transfer which arrogantly assumes what the individual needs to learn and how the student learns best. The focus is on the needs of the educational system, i.e. – passing high-stakes tests, school rankings, etc. – and not the individual’s interest or learning style. This is the “sage on the stage” model where information is taught externally but rarely applied internally.

I saw a funny but applicable cartoon the other day about wilderness survival which went something like this…

A guy wearing his bug-out-bag is approached by a woman.

Girl: What’s inside?

Guy: Survival books.

Girl: What if you have to survive longer than 72 hours?

Guy: Right. I need a bigger bag of books!

Again, books aren’t bad – correction, some are actually bad. Book knowledge is entertaining but not very useful until it’s applied through hands-on experimentation in context to the real-world. Conventional training is about memorizing facts. Experiential learning consists of applied knowledge acquired from doing. The urgency of doing is real.

Designed for Doing- Conventional vs Experiential - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Experiential Learning

The cornerstone of learning for me is my experience. Your experience will be different from mine. Where we go astray is trying to mimic what another “successful” person has achieved. By doing what they do, dressing like them, copying their “keys to success”, to the point of hero-worship, we lose our unique self and temperament. Being a fan of someone is one thing. Becoming their mini-me will only limit what you could have become. You and I must live our own story.

Other people’s ideas, even my own ideas, will never be as authoritative as my experience.

Experiential Self-Reliance

One of my goals is to get people to think about what they think they think.

~ Scott Jones, Postcards to the Past

Here’s a few thoughts I thought I thought along my journey.

A.) Planning

Quit it. This may come as a shock to OCD minds, but by the time you’ve got every detail planned out on how to do stuff (which I’m guilty of), you’ve just wasted a lot of valuable time. You really don’t need a 31 step plan like the experts say.

Procrastination often cross-dresses in plan’s clothes. It’s tricky like that. Just start and make adjustments as you move forward. Taking action has a way of bringing a plan together. The perfect plan does not exist. Stop wasting time on the sofa.

We tell ourselves, “I’m going to start learning a new skill. I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

B) Failing

Do it fast. You can’t plan for all the mistakes. Since I know I’m going to fail, I want to fail fast. The quicker I flop, the faster I can make adjustments and shorten my learning curve.

C.) Beginning

At the onset of my recent Cordwood Challenge, I had legitimate fear. Failure and bodily injury were on the top of the list. Looking at that measly pile of wood I chopped the first day, self-doubt doubled down.

Here’s the thing about beginning. It has power to overcome fear and doubt. When we start, providence moves us a step closer to what we were created to do. This may seem overly dramatic, spiritual, or too philosophical coming from a wood chopper. Maybe so, but many doors were opened for me personally and professionally since that first ax swing.

The benefits of bold beginnings are often invisible. Most people give up before reaping their rewards.

D.) Doing the Work

Self-reliance is a byproduct of the Work. Reading about it is not the Work. It’s physical, dirty, sweaty, smelly, and satisfying. It comes dressed in overalls with a hoe in its hand.

I’ve had the privilege of learning skills from very talented people. How did they reach such high skill level? To put it simply, they isolated themselves with their Work. True artisans spend thousands of hours alone hammering, chopping, baking, writing, carving, experimenting, failing, reflecting, and acting again on an idea.

Whatever Work you were born to do, start doing it.

A side note to our regular readers: I haven’t published an article for over a month. I don’t offer apologies. This has been a much-needed break which has given me time to think about what I think I think.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

 

Personal and Family Preparedness.

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Personal and Family Preparedness.

Personally I don’t see one thing as being more important than another. There is no point in prioritising shelter if you are unable to protect & defend. But for the purpose of this article, I will start with my home & work my way through other priorities.

We have two dwellings, a main house & an old cottage. Both are situated in a forest that we own. We do have fire breaks, but this winter we will be widening those breaks because of the new threat posed by global warming. On the main house we have two 5000 gallon cement water tanks, plus another 1000 gallons in a polly tank for the garden. We have two fire pumps, one on the lower cement tank, & one down at Cattail Pond. The Cattail Pond pump can pump water up to the main house & the cottage for gardens & fire fighting. The gardens supply us with all our vegetable needs for the house & the chooks, but we also keep on hand a good supply of dried, bottled & canned foods. The chooks are kept mainly for eggs.

The main house & the cottage are both off grid & self-sustainable with grey water systems & composting toilets. The cottage has two 1000 gallon water tanks but we will be adding another larger tank soon. Heating of both houses & hot water is provided by wood burning stoves, plus a wood heater in the main house & a large open fire in the cottage. Cooking of course is also done on the wood burning stoves & the forest supplies all our firewood. 240 volt Electricity is supplied by solar panels & batteries.

We have four 4WDs, The Lada is only used on the property, but the Hilux & Triton diesels are registered for the road, as is the X-Trail SUV. If we ever have to leave here, the whole family can just fit in the Hilux & the two Tritons with all our equipment. Every family member that is able to carry has their own pack & arms. I am a primitive skills instructor & I have passed my skills on to my three sons. Arms are a mixture of modern breech-loaders, muzzle-loaders & traditional bows. Our equipment is all 18thcentury except for medical supplies & some of the water containers. We do not expect to have to leave our forest home as we have plenty of people & arms to protect what we have, but we are prepared to leave if we consider it necessary.

Individual equipment is much the same for everyone with a few exceptions including arms, types of packs, clothing. & personal items.

Equipment List:

.62 cal/20 gauge flintlock fusil. 42 inch barrel.

.70 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistol.

Gun tools and spare lock parts.

Shot pouch and contents.

Leather drawstring pouch of .60 caliber ball (in knapsack).

Powder horn.

Ball mould and swan shot mould.

5 Gunpowder wallets

Lead ladle.

Butcher/Hunting knife.

Legging knife.

Clasp knife.

Tomahawk.

Fire bag.

Tinderbox.

Belt pouch.

Fishing tackle in brass container.

Two brass snares.

Roll of brass snare wire.

Knapsack.

Scrip.

Market Wallet.

Tin Cup.

Kettle.

Water filter bags (cotton & linen bags).

Medical pouch.

Housewife.

Piece of soap and a broken ivory comb.

Dried foods in bags.

Wooden spoon.

Compass.

Whet stone.

Small metal file.

Oilcloth.

One blanket (Monmouth cap, spare wool waistcoat and wool shirt rolled inside blanket).

Two glass saddle flasks.

Length of hemp rope.

Bottle of rum.

Basic list of what I carry. This list is made up from items that we know were carried, from items that my research has shown were available, & from items that have been found, such as the brass snare wire. I am not saying every woodsrunner carried all these items, but I am saying that some woodsrunners may have carried all these items. From experimental archaeology results in historical trekking, I think the items I have chosen are a reasonable choice for any woodsrunner that is going to live in the wilderness for a year or more.

Skills: All adult male family members have these skills. The only reason the women don’t have these skills is because they have not shown any interest. Two of the women can use a gun & one of the girls has her own bow. One of our family is a trained nurse & others have skills such as cooking, clothing manufacture, weaving & gardening.

Skills List:

Fire-bow Flint & steel fire lighting

Wet weather fire lighting

fire lighting

Flintlock fire lighting

Flintlock use, service & repair

Marksmanship with either gun or bow.

Field dressing & butchering game

Blade sharpening

Tomahawk throwing

Making rawhide

Brain tanning

Primitive shelter construction

How to stay warm in winter with only one blanket

Cordage manufacture

Moccasin construction and repair

Sewing

Axe and tomahawk helve making

Fishing

Hunting

Evasion

Tracking

Reading sign

Woods lore

Navigation

Primitive trap construction & trapping

Open fire cooking

Fireplace construction

Clothing manufacture

Drying meat & other foods

Knowledge of plant tinders & preparation

Knowledge of native foods & preparation

Knowledge of native plants in the area and their uses for other than tinder and food.

Scouting/Ranging.

Basic first aid.

Finding and treating water.

General leather work.

Can You Sustain Yourself?

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By The Survival Place Blog

We can’t live without food. It is perhaps the most important skill that anyone with a mind on survival can learn. All your navigation and self-defense skills aren’t going to be of any use when you run out of canned goods and have to rely on your wits to survive. To learn to live in the wild, you need to learn a few tasty skills.

Time for a forage

Foraging for natural foodstuffs is a skill that has mostly died out but it’s part of what got humans this far. If you can’t tell your safe and totally edible morels from your potentially dangerous false morels, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge. Research with the help of foraging apps are a good start, but make sure you cross-reference any info you get with at least one other highly experienced, reputable source. There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet, after all.

The hunt is about more than the thrill

Hunting’s a great pastime, but many people who take part in it realize they’re learning a skill that can be truly handy in a critical situation. Hunting should be more than practiced, however. It should be sustainable. That’s why, above all other techniques, you should consider bow hunting lessons. It’s not enough to learn about how to use them, either. There are lessons in crafting bows and arrows from natural sources that could prove essential when you’re left in the wild.

Image Source: Pexels.com

Find your catch

Hunting’s a great source of meat in a time of survival. However, if you live near a river or a lake then you already have one of your most reliable sources of foods right there. Fishing is a skill that many of us might already know from our childhoods. If you’re out of practice, however, take a trip now and again and try different methods. From traditional rod fishing to fly fishing and even spearfishing. It’s a lot more reliable than hunting when in the wild.

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Growing your own

It’s not all about meat, either. Besides foraging, you should work on your skills in growing your own vegetables and herbs. Gardening might not be what most would consider an essential survival skill, but if you learn to grow stock crops like potatoes, then you guarantee yourself a great source of carbs when they might otherwise be scarce.

Image Source: Pexels.com

That vital aqua vitae

The truth is that the human body for go for a surprisingly long time without food. The same can’t be said about water. Water purification tablets are a handy tool to keep in any bug out bag. But you can’t expect to go long periods of isolation and survival without learning how to purify water. Now is the time to start practicing the method of creating your own filters and boiling water. You can even make tea with some of the needles of leaves you might be able to forage.

It’s a good idea to take it slow and practice these skills one at a time. As time goes on and you get more proficient, organize more extended trips out, relying on everything you’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to keep some apps and guides on hand while you start out. It can be dangerous to get it wrong, after all.

Originally published at The Survival Place Blog: Can You Sustain Yourself?

Filed under: Prepping

27 Useful Items You Should Have In Your Bug Out Bag

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Everybody has their own ideas about what are the most important things to include in a bug out bag. Different strokes, different folks. But whatever items you choose, make sure a lot of them are multipurpose items. Your bug out bag might not seem very heavy, but after carrying it all day, it will begin […]

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