Bushcraft

Plans Fail → Skills Endure

by Todd Walker

All the Survival Blogs in the world… cannot save you!

Coming from a fellow survival blogger, this may seem a bit strange. Hang with me as I explain.

plans-fail-skills-endure

My good friend, Daisy Luther – owner and writer at The Organic Prepper, wrote an article recently about reality checks in the prepper world. My favorite line in her article came from someone who is all too familiar with punches in the mouth…

Everyone’s got a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.

~ Mike Tyson

Like him or not, Tyson lands a stiff right hook in the mouth of every person who has ever attempted to plan for the unknown. You don’t have to be a professional boxer to understand that when life punches you in the mouth, Plan A goes bye-bye.

The self-reliant skills you, your family – and ultimately – your community possess will get you through the unknown unknowns. Your Plan B of getting out of dodge with your bug out bags loaded – children and pets in tow – is sound on paper. Have you actually put it to the test? Do you have a pre-determined destination besides the remote National Forest “teaming with wildlife and wild edibles?” No worries, there will be other desperate “like-minded” people in the hills willing to “lend” a helping hand.

Not so fast!

This popular SHTF survival plan has refugee written all over it.

Dirt Road Girl and I both have bug out bags and vehicle kits packed just in case. But we’re also realistic about our survivability if we ever need to get to our retreat on foot. And we don’t have young children tagging along for the hundred mile hike – just our two rescue mutts. Our Plan B only goes into action when a true SHTF scenario prevents us from staying put.

Young children changes the plan. Immediately. This point was driven home on my recent bushcraft trip with my second grade grandson. What you think might be a 72 hour trip would likely turn into a week or more. Packing enough food for that length of time would be prohibitive. You’re best bet would be to have several pre-planned, well stocked pit stops (friends and relatives) along the way and…

a fist full of skills!

We’ll cover two today – one for each fist.

Plan B Skills Go Beyond Your Bag of Stuff

The less you know, the more you need. No slam here. Just stating the facts.

In the early stages of my journey to self-reliance, I packed so much shiny survival stuff that I needed a pack mule for conveyance. Funny thing is, as my skills increased, my pack weight shrunk like it was on a late-night infomercial diet.

Plan B Skills transcend your stuff. You’ll never regret spending more time watching YouTube tutorials, reading how-to articles, and practical preparedness books. But here’s the catch…

You must practice the skills for yourself. That’s how trading theory for ACTION becomes personal!

Here are two essential skills that go beyond your bug out bag…

Fire Craft

Yep, I listed it first. Fire is life. So is water. Prioritizing your self-reliance skills is like playing the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. You throw paper and Mother Nature throws scissors. You lose.

It’s simple. You can’t physically carry enough water on a physically demanding  journey. Water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon. A Bic Lighter weighs nearly nothing. Fire creates potable water.

Plan A for water is a commercial water filter. It’s in my bag of stuff. Plan B relies on fire craft skills and a container.

Fire is beautifully redundant. With fire, you now have the ability to…

  • Purify water
  • Cook food
  • Stay warmth
  • Add comfort and security
  • Keep bugs and wild critters away
  • Signal rescuers if you want to be found
  • Boost morale – an overlooked commodity
  • Make stuff
  • Brew coffee – arguably its most important use ;)

If you’ve hung out here for any length of time, you know I love fire craft. If fire is life out there, carry modern fire tools (Plan A) – but Practice Primitive (Plan B) fire craft. Plan B is not for the faint of heart. But every self-reliant man, woman and child can – and should – have fun building primitive fire skills.

Plan A Fire Craft Kit:

Plan B Fire Craft Skills:

  • Friction based – Bow drill, hand drill, fire plow are a few options
  • Flint and steel – char material needed to catch a spark

Shelter Craft

Develop and practice the skill of creating cover. A dry cover protect you from the elements to prevent hypothermia and hyperthermia.

Many options are available in the shelter category. Buy, make, or barter for a durable Plan A covering for thermoregulation. Consider space, weight, quality, and redundant uses for your shelter.

  • USGI poncho – This poncho is military issue and very tough. It can be used as a tarp shelter, cover your body and pack, and can even be made into a mini canoe.
Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Poncho and hiking poles for a quick shelter

  •  Silnylon – a lightweight covering that is water and wind proof
  • Contractor Trash bags – Good for emergency shelter and collecting resources
  • Waxed canvas – a more traditional shelter which weighs more but bomb proof
  • Oilskin cloth tarp – cotton fabric treated with oil and wax
  • Walled tents
  • Space blanket
  • Proper clothing offers shelter
  • Natural rock ledges, caves, and hollow trees
  • Build your own shelter – hone your cutting tools and build a shelter
DSCN0480

A roll of tarred bank line, used billboard, natural material, a saw, axe, and knife were used to build my Trapper’s Shelter

The importance of setting up shelter – especially in the dark – shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re a hammock sleeper, do you remember how to tie the knots to hang your tarp and hammock in the dark? Practice tying a few useful knots until they’re automatic.

Plan B Skills are Your Knock Out Punch

I’ve been punched in the mouth many times – literally and figuratively. Both jabs hurt. But at the end of your bout, in the flurry of flying fists, the skills you’re Doing, not the stuff you’ve read about, will keep you from tapping out when your life is on the line.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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: 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.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Why Being a “Tree Hugger” Builds Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

I’ve never considered myself a “tree hugger” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

noun: someone who is regarded as foolish or annoying because of being too concerned about protecting trees, animals, and other parts of the natural world from pollution and other threats [Emphasis mine]

Yesterday I annoyed a few motorists crossing a narrow country bridge on a tree hugger outing. Not intentionally, mind you. It’s just that I needed to photograph a beautiful American Sycamore stretching its molten limbs over a muddy Georgia river. One trucker let me know how foolish I looked by blaring his air horn as I perched on the bridge railing snapping my shutter. Unaffected, I continued my craziness.

The thought of being a tree hugger, as previously defined, may not describe you, but every person on the journey to self-reliance and preparedness would benefit from hugging a tree or two.

You’re conflicted, right? Well, don’t be.

It’s our responsibility to protect, use, and conserve our natural resources. We’re stewards of this land. Our Appalachian ancestors understood the properties of trees and how to use the wood, bark, leaves, and roots to build a sustainable life. There were no box stores with stacks of dimensional lumber to build a house. If a handle shattered, they knew the best wood to use for re-hafting an ax. Tulip Poplar was abundant and used to build houses and hand-hewn log cabins. The Appalachian pioneers knew their wood!

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

A young sycamore growing near the roadside

There are boat-loads of info on edible weeds and medicinal plants. I’ve found a lack of printed material on the medicinal/edible uses of trees. I have many of the Foxfire book series and always look to add more to my self-reliance library. Clue me in if you have more tree resource books, please. So, like any good Doer of the Stuff, I’m embarking (pun intended) on a tree education journey as part of my Doing the Stuff Skills list. Who knows, maybe you’ll be convinced to embrace your inner tree hugger.

Ready, set, hug!

The first tree to wrap your arms around is the American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). It can reach heights over 130 tall, over 10 feet in diameter, and grow to be 600 years old. George Washington documented in his journal in 1770 a sycamore with a diameter of 14 feet (45 feet in circumference). Trees this large usually have hollow trunks that house animals of all sorts. It’s been reported that settlers even used hollowed Sycamore trees to shelter livestock.

The rapid growth rate of this deciduous tree causes the bark to shed in molten fashion like a birch tree. Its camouflage pattern of light green and brownish gray with creamy white background splotches causes the trunk to stand out in late fall and winter when forest leaves lay on the ground. The exfoliating bark and coloration makes the sycamore one of the easiest deciduous trees in the eastern woodlands to identify in the winter.

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

The Sycamore and Self-Reliance

The fast growing American Sycamore likes wet bottom land near streams, rivers and ponds in full sun. Their leaves are similar to maple but not as spectacular since they turn a boring brown in the fall. Beavers find the bark appetizing.

In Bushcraft 

Bushcraft refers to the art of crafting in the bush (woods) with minimal tools and lots of skill.

  • Sycamore’s fibers intertwine making it an excellent wood for spoon and bowl carving. The wood tends to warp in the drying process, so use dried, seasoned wood.
  • Not rot resistant and shouldn’t be used for longterm structures exposed to the moisture.
  • The sap offers a year-round source of hydration in warm climates.
  • The sycamore can also be tapped like a maple tree for syrup or sugar. However, it takes a lot of sap to make small batches of sycamore syrup.
  • Shade-casting crown of large trees offer shelter from the sun.
  • Large leaves (up to 10 inches across) can be used as a wrap for slow cooked food over coals for an added sweet flavor.
tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

This green leaf measured almost 9 inches across

In Woodwork 

  • Sycamore is grown commercially for pulp and rough lumber.
  • Interlocking grain makes nice accent pieces for woodworking.
  • Turns easily on a lathe for bowls.
  • Beautiful specking on gun stocks.
  • Music boxes; guitars and violins.
  • Hard to split which makes sycamore an excellent butcher’s block.
  • Quarter sawn makes this wood more stable for projects. Flat sawn tends to warp.
  • It gets one of its nicknames “Buttonwood” from it ability to create durable wooden buttons.
  • The wood is food safe and was used for food crates and barrels in the past.

In Medicine

Inner bark tee was used for a wide variety of treatments by Native Americans.

  • Colds, coughs, and lung ailments
  • Measles
  • Emetic – cause vomiting
  • Laxative
  • Astringent properties to treat skin issues and eye wash
  • Sweet sap on the inner bark used for wound dressing
  • Sap can also be used to make wine

The American Sycamore is a pioneer species. About forty years ago, we stopped cultivating a small field on wet bottom land on our family farm. Today we have a large stand of native sycamores growing wild.

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

What was once several acres of corn we pulled by hand

Being a “tree hugger” should not carry a negative stereotype or denote a political affiliation for those of us building self-reliance skills and pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle. Embrace your love of trees and learn to be stewards of these towers of the forest!

Have you hugged a tree today?

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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: 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.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Medical, Natural Health, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

The Top 3 Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

Survival TV scripts promote the “get out alive” theme – as they should – it’s survival. The idea of survival conjures up roughing it, eating nastiness or not at all, sleeping on muddy ground under leaky cover, and drinking your own urine until rescued. Sounds fun, right?

Not so much.

I’m a student of the art and science of bushcraft, not to merely survive, but to live comfortably, even thrive in a wilderness setting. As George Washington Sears (“Nessmuk”) put it in Woodcraft and Camping,

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. [Emphasis mine]

Bushcraft is primal (first; original; fundamental). The craft extends far past modern survivalism, prepping, hiking, and camping. It criss-crosses all the preparedness circles and powers the survival mindset circuitry. Self-reliance through basic, simple machines (tools) is the central theme of bushcraft.

If you hang out here for any length of time, you know how fond I am of vintage tools. In a natural/wilderness setting, tools in skilled hands can give you the mechanical advantage (MA) needed for “smoothing it” in the woods.

Here are my top 3 tools and few ways to use these simple machines while learning to “smooth it” in the woods.

Number One

In the world of simple machines, all cutting tools are wedges. The cutting tool is primary since a sharp knife, machete, saw, or ax can be used to create other simple machines. The wedge shape of your knife creates a mechanical advantage when removing material for notches, carving spoons, or dressing animals.

For instance, I wasn’t pleased with my fire reflector wall in front of my shelter. It had served its purpose as a temporary fix for my semi-permanent shelter but had begun to char with all the fires built there. I needed something more permanent.

Stone!

Thirty yards from the shelter lay a massive, flat rock perfectly shaped for a centerpiece in my reflector wall. Only one problem. Distance, time, and my physical force and capability to get it from point A to point B. Work equals force times distance. Work smart!

I didn’t want to expend too much energy remodeling my campfire. How do I get a 200+ pound rock to my camp? I remembered my daddy moving heavy objects by placing smaller pipes underneath – a technique I’d used before – just not in the wilderness.

Brilliant!

Top Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

Rock and roll!

A folding saw (Wedge) gave me a mechanical advantage (MA) in processing the cedar rounds (Wheel and Axle) used to roll the huge stone up a slight incline to camp. Though there was no real axle involved, the solid wood wheel worked got the job done. Less physical force saves calories. Flipping rocks this size while doing functional fitness workouts is fine. However, we want to save energy/calories to enjoy the fruits of our labor at base camp.

Your cutting tool can also be use to carve a wooden wedge for felling larger trees. Wedged tools make wedges. None of these methods are exhaustive. I’m only giving a few suggestions. You can add your own creative ideas in the comments if you’d like.

Number Two

Levers are powerful tools for creating mechanical advantage in bushcraft. There are two types of levers that give MA: First Class Lever and Second Class Lever.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ~ Archimedes

Levers trade distance for force. To get the stone started onto the wheel and axle logs, I sharpened the end of one of the discarded saplings from my old reflector wall to use as a lever. Once on the rollers, I was able to push the rock to camp with less work on my part.

Levers can be counted on to save resources like the cutting edge of your ax. Dull cutting tools are dangerous. Here’s an example of a First Class Lever.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

This forked Beech tree caught the firewood as it broke

Find a forked tree or two trees close together and place your stick of wood between the two trees. Now apply force on the lever and break the piece where it contacts the fulcrum (point where lever pivots). Stand with a wide stance and pull the lever toward your body. As your lever grows shorter, more force is required to break the wood.

This sweet set up stacked the firewood for me!

A travois is an example of a Second Class Lever. It’s basically a wheel barrow without the wheel. A travois consists of two long poles lashed together with cross braces or netting to form an isosceles triangle. Yep, geometry and physics are part of bushcraft. Native American plains indians used this as a method of conveyance for heavy loads.

Here’s Dave Canterbury’s tutorial video on making a travois in the bush.

Number Three

Cordage, whether crafted in the field or commercially made, offers MA when used as a pulley, another simple machine. My favorite knot in bushcraft for creating mechanical advantage is the Trucker’s Hitch.

While the two loops in the Trucker’s Hitch are not true-to-form block and tackle pulleys, this is a great way to apply extreme pressure on cordage for ridge lines, hanging game from a branch, or any time you need a taunt line.

Mechanical advantage is quickly achieved with cordage when making friction fires with a bow drill. Cordage wrapped around the spindle forms a primitive pulley system which decreases the amount of work required to produce a burning ember. [Work = Force x Distance] The bow drill combines several simple machines – pulley, lever, wedge, inclined plane.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

Simple machines create mechanical advantage

Wrap Up

Learning to “smooth it” with simple tools helps erase the “rough it” aspect of bushcraft, camping, and adventures in nature. Now you can sit around the fire on your rustic camp furniture and stare, without uttering a word to your friends, at the awesomeness you’ve created with minimal tools. You’ll also admire and appreciate your connection to the land as you sip on a cup of camp coffee or pine needle tea.

Mechanical advantage is your friend 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 +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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: 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.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

by Todd Walker

Doing the Stuff of self-reliance takes time, resources, tools, and want to. More important than any of these is ACTION! With only 24 hours in a day, you can’t always trek to your personal space in the woods to practice wilderness survival skills. Hectic schedules and time constants eat away at your availability.

You’re family needs quality time… and no, staring at the TV or computer screen doesn’t count. No better way to hang out with your loved ones, even the indoors lover, than to introduce them to outdoor self-reliance skills in a controlled setting. Your adventures await one step over your door sill – no wilderness required!

Convenience just destroyed all the excuses.

backyard-bushcraft

Our Self-Reliant Summer series is intended to keep us motivated with common sense ideas for Doing the Stuff. Stay with us to learn how to strike self-reliance gold in your backyard.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

It would be great if we all had a picturesque wilderness for a backyard. That’s not likely. Driving hours to reach one is not practical for busy people. The solution is to bloom where you’re planted.

Fire Pits and BBQ Grills!

Making fire is a critical skill many of us take for granted. In ideal conditions, fire may be easy. Just flick your Bic and, poof, you have flames. It’s wise to practice several ways to achieve a sustainable fire.

backyard-bushcraft

A BBQ grill is a good tool for practicing fire making!

Fire is simple. All that’s needed is…

  • Air
  • Heat
  • Fuel

These elements make up the fire triangle. Take away any one of these and you no longer have fire. Starve the fire of air and you’re making charred material for your next fire.

You can practice your fire making skills with the available resources out back. No wood? No problem. Dirt Road Girl and I are known to walk our neighborhood, wagon in tow, collecting dead wood conveniently stacked at the edge of neighbor’s yards. We get our walk in and employ our possum mentality for free resources.

Fire Project 1: Make char cloth and charred material.

Fire Project 2: Practice making fire using 3 different methods: friction (bow drill, hand drill, fire plow), heat (fresnel lens, lighter, matches, etc.), and sparks (ferro rod, flint and steel). You’ll need your homemade char material for the flint and steel.

backyard-bushcraft

Our son’s first friction fire on the back patio

Fire Project 3: Make a fire from one stick only.

If you’re neighborhood allows open fires in a fire pit, consider building or buying one. If not, practice inside a charcoal or gas grill. If grills aren’t allowed, call the moving van! Build fires directly on the grill grate or use a board or other flat object as a support.

Be curious. Try new tinder materials. I discovered an excellent coal extender growing on beech trees near my shelter. [That's me - two photos up - at the Weber grill lighting dry sooty mold from a Beech tree with a ferro rod]

What’s for Dinner?

After building a fire, why not use it to practice cooking over an open flame. Since you’re in the backyard and conveyance is not an issue, break out that cast iron dutch oven granny passed down to you. Once your fire burns down a bit, suspend the pot over a bed of coals with a bushcraft tripod. Experiment with cooking methods other than stabbing a tube steak on the end of a stick.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Campfire chili!

Practice using twig stoves like the Emberlit. A handful of twigs can boil water for a pre-packaged meal in a stainless steel camp cup.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Tied in Knots

Do you remember how to tie that nifty knot you saw on YouTube? Probably not. Find two trees in the yard and practice tying out your tarp and hammock. Repetition is the mother of all learning.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Dirt Road Girl and Abby testing knots

Basic knots should become second-hand. You won’t need to know 41 knots to survive and thrive in a survival scenario. Knowing a few simple knots will save you time and cordage. The knots I use most while bushcrafting are the timber hitch, trucker’s hitch, Siberian hitch, bowline, clove hitch, and tension hitch. Learn knots with a specific purpose and tie them repeatedly until you’re able to do so even in the dark.

Sharp Skills

The cutting tool is fundamental for bushcraft. Safe use of knives, saws, and axes should be learned before heading to the big boy woods. The backyard is the perfect classroom.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

Teaching ax safety to my grandson

Wielding sharp tools has risks. You never really know your cutting tool personally until it bites you. Accidents happen to even the most skilled bushcrafter. Practicing in a controlled setting like your backyard builds confidence and skills for times when your life may one day depend upon sharp stuff. Plus, first aid is close by.

Sharp Skill 1: Make a feather stick for your backyard fire. Bracing your knife against your knee with the cutting edge facing away from your body, pull a piece of wood towards your body to curl shavings on the stick. You can also place the stick on another wooden surface (anvil) and slice curls using the full length of the blade.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Fatwood feather stick and shavings

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Fatwood shavings lit with a ferro rod

Sharp Skill 2: Baton wood with your knife. This skill is useful when a camp ax is not available. This method can produce pencil lead size, pencil size, thumb size, and larger fuel from logs. I prefer batoning for the one stick challenge and when creating bow drill sets. More precision in woodcraft can be achieved by practicing your preferred method.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

Sharp Skill 3: Notches add stability when joining and lashing woodcraft items. They’re also essential for the hearth board on your bow drill fire set.

Got Cover?

There may not be enough resources to build a debris hut out by the kids swing set, but you can practice tarp and tent set up.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

Tarp and hammock set up

Common man/woman cover can be an affordable tarp or poncho. Start with the resources you have. Practice different cover configurations to find out what works for different situations.

Sticks and Strings (Archery)

Archery has been given a huge boost by the recent Hunger Games books and movies. Capitalize on the interest with your children or grandchildren.

backyard-bushcraft

Killing spuds in our backyard

Archery has been practiced for thousands of years by hunter-gatherers, indigenous groups, and self-reliant folk. This tool can be used for harvesting game quietly and an effective addition to your SHTF arsenal. Zombies beware! The place to hone this skill is in the backyard. Once hooked on stick and string, you and your entire family can enjoy this as a family sport and survival skill.

Make Your Own Stuff

Simple machines in bushcraft can be used to build stuff to aid in self-reliance and survivability. Here are three projects that are doable in the backyard.

Project 1: Build a simple cooking tripod for your backyard kitchen.

Project 2: Torches. Gotta have torches. Kid’s love them and they’re fun to build!

  • How to make a fatwood torch
  • Miner’s torch (pictured below) made of a dried mullein stalk and soy wax (pine sap or tallow can also be used) – Warning: burning close the base of the seed head will burn through the stalk quickly
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Mullein torch

Project 3: Make a bow drill set from one piece of poplar or other suitable wood

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A bow drill set crafted from one piece of tulip poplar

Eat the Yard

Every backyard lawn has weeds. Learning to safely identify wild edibles for nutrition and medicine is smart. Like every other skill mentioned above, wildcrafting can be done close to home. We place value on what we name. Before I knew the name of Mullein, it was just a weed growing along the fence row of our pasture. Now it’s a valued item in our herbal medicine kit.

There are many resources available to help you identify wild edibles. One that I’ve found most helpful is The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer. Thayer didn’t just regurgitate what other authors wrote about, he spent years of actually Doing the Stuff in the field of wild edibles.

You can check out our Foraging Feral Food page and Herbal Medicine Kit series if you’d like to dig deeper into wildcrafting.

Doing the Stuff of self-reliance through bushcraft should start in your backyard. 17th and 18th century woodsmen forged their skills close to home. Owning these essential skills was necessary to survive the wilderness treks with minimal gear. That’s the essence of bushcraft – dependence on skills more so than the latest shiny object and technological gadget.

What happens when technology fails? Hopefully your skills will get you through. Your journey to self-reliance starts in your own backyard!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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

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: 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

27 Survival Uses for Common Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Ever been caught in the woods with nature calling you to a squatty position? If you forgot the Charmin, you’d still be a happy camper with Cowboy Toilet Paper (AKA – Common Mullein). It’s velvety soft leaves have wrangled many a woodsman and camper from certain disaster over a cat hole.

27 Survival Uses for Common Man Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

The fuzzy leaf of this botanical wonder may cause skin irritation (contact dermatitis). That’s not a bad thing if you happen to be a Quaker in the new world. Since Quaker women weren’t allowed to wear make up, these resourceful ladies rubbed the hairy leaves on their cheeks for a homemade blush to attract suitors. Hence the name Quaker’s Rouge.

If employed as Cowboy TP or camper’s wash cloth, wipe with the flow of the hairs not against. Use caution with sensitive behinds. If a rash occurs, plantain is usually close by.

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is easy to identify making it a safe gateway herb to wildcrafting and medicinal plants. The leafs, stalk, and root are safe for medicinal purposes.

First year plants grow as a rosette with large, wooly, hairy, velvety leaves. The silver-green foliage gives the plant an artificial waxed appearance. They grow in well-drained disturbed soil by roadways, abandoned fields, waste places, and even gravel, rocky soil in full sun.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

First year growth

Second year growth can reach heights over ten feet.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Forgot my tripod. This is my first EVER selfie! I’m 5’10” tall for comparison.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Mullein flowers showing off their five yellow flowers

You may know this European weed transplant by other common names such as flannel flower, Quaker’s rouge, bunny’s ear, candle wick, great mullein, torchwort, miner’s candle, poor man’s blanket, hag’s taper, ice leaf, or Cowboy Toilet Paper. Whatever name you use, mullein has been a valuable mulituse tool for self-reliance for thousands of years.

Here’s why…

Properties of Mullein

Understanding the properties of herbs allows you to get the most out of  your herbal medicine chest. Here’s the plant’s medicinal profile:

  • Analgesic – pain relief
  • Anticatarrhal – reduces inflammation of the mucous membranes (lungs, sinus, etc.)
  • Antispasmodic – suppresses involuntary muscle spasms
  • Antitussive – relieve or prevent coughs
  • Astringent – contraction of body tissue, typically on skin
  • Demulcent – forms a soothing film over mucous membranes
  • Diuretic – increases urine production
  • Expectorant – aid in the clearance of mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi, and trachea
  • Mucilant – coat and protect mucous membranes
  • Vulnerary – promotes healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions

For more information on medicinal properties of herbs, check out Bk2natuR’s Herbal Dictionary and other natural goodness!

An additional awesome herbal/wildcrafting resource can be found at Common Sense Homesteading. Laurie, a blogging friend of mine, has a great series called Weekly Weeder with 48 posts on using your weeds for culinary and medicinal purposes. I highly recommend her stuff!

As you can see, Common Mullein has many more uses than emergency roadside TP. Take a look…

Medicine

  • Mullein tea (expectorant) helps facilitate lung function and removes congestion and mucus from the respiratory tract. Dried leaves may also be used as a smoke inhalation.

A dehydrator speeds up the drying process. Set your dehydrator on its lowest heat and process until dry. I set this batch on 95º for about 18 hours for crispy leaves.

[Side note: Even though out Excalibur uses little electricity, I want to build a solar dehydrator. If you have successfully built your own, please contact me. Thanks!]

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

One of five trays of 1st year mullein leaves

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

‘Toby’ the pig helping me make some mullein tea with a backyard bushcraft setup

  • Oil infusion of the yellow flowers for ear aches

How to make Mullein-Flower Oil Infusion

A.) Locate a group of blooming mullein plants (June-September) and harvest the yellow flowers. You’ll need enough to fill a small jam or jelly jar half to three-quarters full. I ended up with about half a jar of flowers. This is tedious and time-consuming. Allow the blooms to dry for an hour or so to remove some of the water content.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Flowers harvested from 6 or 7 mullein stalks

B.) Fill the jar with olive oil or any oil you like and screw the lid tightly. Steep the infusion in a warm, sunny spot for about 2 to 4 weeks. Shake the infusion once a day – if you remember.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Sunny spot for steeping

C.) Pour the infused oil through a strainer (cheese cloth or bandana) into another container for storage. Label, date, and store in a cool dark cabinet. For ear aches or wax build up, place a few (2-3) drops into the ear a couple of times daily until the problem clears up.

 Garden/Permaculture

  • Improves soil as a nitrogen fixer and heals the worst soil conditions
  • Feeds bees and other pollinators
  • Compost material
  • Some birds enjoy the seeds
  • Rotenone, found in mullein, is synthesized for insecticide
  • Goats won’t eat it so mullein is a good way to add some green to goat-ravaged land

Bushcraft and Self-Reliance

  • Mullein leaves can be used inside shoes as a cushion and warmth
  • Blanket mullein is one alias outdoor enthusiasts should keep in mind for emergency blanket
  • Saponins in the seeds are said to be useful for stunning fish for easy collection – use only in a true survival scenario
  • Dried leaves and seed pods make an excellent tinder for fire starting
  • Dip a dried seed head stalk in tallow, bees-wax, or pine sap for a long-burning torch (torchwort, miner’s torch)
  • The stalk can be used to create a friction fire – bow or hand drill style

Creek Stewart at Willow Haven Outdoor has a great video demonstrating the friction fire technique using mullein below:

Common Mullein is the common man/woman multi-tool of herbal self-reliance. Ah, a new alias… Common Man Mullein!

DISCLAIMER: This information is offered for educational purposes only. Do your own due diligence before foraging wild edibles and medicinal plants of any kind.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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: 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.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Herbal Remedies, Medical, Natural Health, Self-reliance, Survival, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 23 Comments

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

You’ve heard the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers”, right? When your survival is on the line, don’t be ungrateful when a gift comes along. Survival gifts come in all sizes but it’s the small stuff that’s more likely to get you out alive.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Being mindful of the useful mnemonic, Survival Rules of 3, you’ve taken care of shelter and water but your situation may place you weeks from civilization. As a refresher, you may die if you go…

  1. 3 minutes without air (asphyxiation)
  2. 3 hours without shelter (exposure)
  3. 3 days without water (dehydration)
  4. 3 weeks without food (starvation)

While there are documented exceptions to these rules, view these as guidelines to prioritize your survival effort. A lot depends on the timeframe for rule #4. People have survived well past three weeks with little to no nourishment.

You may be thinking, “I’ll forage enough wild plants to survive.” Wildcrafting is an excellent skill to possess. However, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of wild lettuce to sustain you long-term. You need to find a source of protein and fat before you body goes all cannibal on you.

The days of prolific herds of deer and bison roaming the woodlands are gone. Big game animals aren’t hiding behind every tree. Even if they were, you may not be equipped to harvest them. You could make a primitive weapon from rocks and sticks but that costs calories too. You’re trying to save as many calories as possible. You burn 2,000 calories before noon crafting a weapon and stalking the animal and fail. Now what?

That’s where the small stuff helps.

The Small Stuff

Could I put enough small stuff in the pot if I had to? Here’s how I tested my theory.

Start at the water’s edge. Creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds are where you’ll find bullfrogs, fish, birds, turtles, crawfish, rodents, and snakes. That’s the easiest place to find small stuff.

Collecting Crawfish

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Boiled mud bug

Also known as crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs, and creek lobster, these shellfish are quite tasty. The problem is they are hard to spot and catch without traps. As a child, my buddies and I walked creeks to catch these elusive critters by hand. They hide under rocks and ledges. If you’re brave enough, poke your hand in the crevices to locate the crawfish. If you’re lucky, he will clamp down on your finger and you can pull him out. It doesn’t hurt for long. You may also try gently lifting small flat rock to spot them. These methods take time and energy, two things you’ll be low on in a survival scenario.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Lost two tines off this cheap gig with only one creek lobster to show for it

It’s not likely that you’ll have a wire minnow trap with you. If not, consider a gig. Sweep your gig under ledges and watch for a lightening quick streak to exist. That’s your dinner. He probably scooted to his next hiding place. Now you’ve narrowed down his location and may have a chance.

To prepare creek lobster, bring water to a rolling boil in container and drop your catch into the water. You won’t have corn, potatoes, and sausage for a wilderness low country boil. But you’ve got protein. Boil about 5 minutes. Hold the head in one hand and twist the tail off with the other hand. Gently pull the middle fin on the back of the tail to devein. Crack the shell open to get to the tail meat. Pop the mudpuppy in your mouth and enjoy. Don’t forget to suck the head to remove all the yummy juice.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A creek lobster boil!

A word about gear. If man-made it, it’ll break eventually. Two tines on the gig pictured above were lose after hitting a rock. I was able to pull them out with little effort. I kept the barbed tines since they’d make great improvised fishing hooks for larger fish.

A better method and one which is more reliable for survival purposes is a homemade gig.

Assuming you have a cutting tool, cut a green sapling between 1-2 inches in diameter. Split the trunk end of the sapling to make four separate prongs. Make the splits about 6 to 8 inches deep. Insert a twig about the size of your pinky finger inside the split as a spacer for the prongs. Repeat the process with another twig spreader so that the two twigs meet forming a cross at the base of the splits. Lash the twig spreaders to the gig with cordage – natural or commercial. Sharpen the tines and go find some slithering small stuff.

Snake Stew

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Water Moccasin on a stick

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A closer look at the wooden gig which I didn’t lash

This homemade survival tool is effective on snakes, fish, and other small game as well. Check your local hunting and fishing regulations before practicing.

Water moccasin, like other venomous snakes in the eastern woodlands, are edible. To prepare a venomous pit viper, chop off the head a few inches below it venom sacs. Slit the belly and remove its entrails and skin. Skewer the meat with a green limb and roast over a fire until well done. You may also like snake stew with a few wild edibles. Rattlesnake is my favorite.

Warning: Bury the severed head in the ground. The muscular bite reflex continues even after the snake is dispatched.

Minnow Dinner

With enough small stuff, you can reload your reserves. Smaller minnows and sun-fish can also be used as bait for larger fish, turtles, and crawfish. I used a commercial minnow trap to catch several small bream at our cabin/shack. I wrapped a piece of bacon in tin foil and suspended it inside the trap. This prevents minnows and crawfish from feeding on the bait from the outside edge of the trap.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

About a dozen bait-minnows in less than an hour

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Floating Fish

Many indigenous tribes used plants to poison or stun fish. When ingested or passed over the gills, the fish would float helplessly on top of the water for easy gathering. In my state, Georgia, the Cherokee used the bark and green nut husks of Black Walnut trees and Polkweed berries as a fish poison. Once the fish reach un-poisoned water, they would recover.

No, I’ve never tried this method. From my research, I’ve found that the green husks must be pounded to pulp and introduced into a pooled area of a stream or slow-moving river or a still body of water. Processing enough husks or plant material may burn more calories than could be made up by floating fish.

Rotenone and saponins are the active chemicals that affects the breathing mechanism of fish but not their edibility. How much to use? Not sure. Maybe one of our readers could enlighten us on this technique.

NOTE: Fish poisoning is illegal in most states in the U.S. I don’t endorse this method. I added it for educational purposes only.

MRE’s on the Half Shell

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A snapping turtle I caught on the way to school one morning

Unfashionable now, turtle soup was once a presidential delicacy. President Taft, our most rotund White House resident, loved turtle soup. There is a smorgasbord of seven different meat flavors in a large snapping turtle – beef, chicken, goat, pork, shrimp, veal, and fish.

Turtles are slower than most animals in the forest. No surprise there. Snapping turtles do what their name implies… oh, snap. Unless your Turtle Man and have experience on which end to grab, these feisty creatures can perform instant digit amputations. Senseless injury in a survival scenario can be fatal.

I’ll leave it to you to research catching, cleaning, dressing, and cooking methods. Here are few useful resources here and here.

The prospect of feeding your body in a long-term survival situation is a challenge. Focus on the small survival foods. Choose a few methods to practice in case you ever have to depend on them for a meal. And remember to be thankful for any survival gift that comes your way. Bon appétit!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-reliance,

Todd

P.S. The winner of my handcrafted bushcraft journal is Patrick Blair! Thanks to everyone for the entries and support you have shown to our family and this blog!

P.P.S – If you find value in this article, please Share the Stuff! Dirt Road Girl and I would also 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…

As always, thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: 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 in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley’s Advice

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

I first heard the song Ticks by Bard Paisley at a bank drive-thru window. Clever lyrics. Why share such a trivial event? Because I like Brad Paisley’s music and hate ticks… passionately!!

Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley's Advice

These blood suckers are anything but petty parasites for anyone venturing outdoors. Their genetics seem to steer them to the most delicate and hardest-to-get-at places on the human body. Like zombies looking for a blood meal, they sink their barbed jaws in your skin and gorge.

For me, I’d rather roll naked in poison ivy than have a tick bite. Once removed, they leave itchy, nagging bite marks for months. However, applying my plantain spit poultice immediately and repeatedly for a few days causes the bite symptoms disappear.

The War on Ticks

We’re in the middle of peak tick season (May – June – July). That’s why I love dirt time in the winter – little to no ticks! My personal war on ticks involves prevention and early treatment.

Is your skin crawling yet? No need to panic over these blood-bloated pests.

Take a Deep Breath

Just don’t exhale. Breathing sets off the tick honing device. You see, ticks are attracted to you and me, all mammals in fact, because we spew carbon dioxide with each breath.

Check out this creepy field experiment at North American Hunter. Calvin and Grant placed a one pound container of dry ice in a deer bedding area. In less than 8 hours, they harvested over 600 of these blood suckers! One more than the mark of the beast. There’s a the correlation here I think!!

An Ounce of Tick Prevention

If only there were a way to experience bug-free dirt time. There isn’t. Biting insects are part of the outdoor experience. But you can decrease their damage by following these tips.

As Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Proactive parasite prevention will help you get out there without constantly worrying about tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world but only a few are of concern to you. Blacklegged tick, Wood (Dog) tick, and Lone Star tick are the 3 arachnids on top of the tick-born disease list.

Image courtesy of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

Image courtesy of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

I hate them all but here’s the top woodland offender in my neck of the woods…

Blacklegged Tick (Deer tick)

This is the only tick in the Eastern woodlands with 8 black or dark chocolate-colored legs. Beware of this little devil. Not all deer ticks are carriers of Lyme disease but some are. That’s reason enough to make you cringe, right? Baby deer ticks (nymphs) become infected with Lyme disease by feeding on certain rodents. Early spring and summer are the times they are likely to be found feeding on you and passing on bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme disease.

The good news is that Lyme disease isn’t transferred until about 24-36  hours of an infected tick having a blood meal on you. Early detection and removal is the key. Be a real friend and do what Brad Paisley suggests, “I’d like to check you for ticks”… every 2-3 hours while in tick country.

Common Sense Tick Deterrents

  • Light colored clothing makes spotting these critters easier
  • Long pants tucked into boots or socks
  • Walk in the center of wooded paths when possible to avoid brushing against undergrowth where ticks hitchhike for a ride – and no, ticks don’t fly or pole vault from overhead trees limbs
  • Tuck long sleeve shirts into pants
  • Cover your head with a hat, bandana, or buff
  • Apply insect repellant to all clothing and exposed skin

It is recommended by the CDC and other government health organizations to apply repellent containing 10-30% DEET. That alone is the reason I do NOT apply DEET to my skin. Call me skeptical or even a tin foil hatter but I’ve seen the damage done in the name of public health in more areas than pest control.

Natural Tick Repellents

One of the tenants of our Doing the Stuff Network is to trade theory for action. Will natural (non-DEET) insect repellents really prevent you from becoming a tick’s next blood meal?

I haven’t tried all these recipes. If you’ve found/created an effective natural concoction, please share in the comments. The war on ticks needs you!

Here are a few DiY recipes to consider.

  1. Healthy Household: Bug Away Spray – Doing the Stuff Trusted Resource
  2. Natural Tick Repellents That Worked!
  3. 20+ Natural Insect Repellent Recipes for a Bug-Free Summer – Doing the Stuff Trusted Resource
  4. Easy, Natural Tick Repellent That Really Works (Rose Geranium Oil works on dogs too)

These recipes all contain some form of essential oil. Cat nip has been studied and found to be as effective as DEET. Warning – do NOT use essential oils during pregnancy – animal or human. Other effective essential oils for ticks are:

  • Tea tree
  • Lemon
  • Pennyroyal – do your own research before using this one
  • Eucalyptus
  • Clove
  • Rose
  • Sweet myrrh

Tick Check and Removal

I’ve done my fair share of this unpleasant practice. As the lyrics say, “You never know where one might be.” Ticks seem to migrate to tender, gentler areas of my body.

Check for ticks thoroughly while showering. Bathing removes crawlers. Once attached, no amount of soap and water will wash them off. For those hard to reach places, have a really close friend or partner look you over. Of course, they’ll need to rub that freckle and occasional mole to confirm their tick suspicions. ;)

See, another argument against being a lone wolf!

If it’s too late and a blood meal is in progress, break up the dinner party. There’s a right and wrong way to remove ticks. No disrespect meant to any folklore methods passed down from grand pappy but these may cause more harm than good.

Your goal is to remove the tick without causing it to vomit supper back on its dinner plate – your skin! Pardon the disgusting description. Grabbing the tiny tick with your club-like finger is likely to hurl its bodily fluids back into you. Confession time. I’ve removed ticks with my fingers when that’s the only tools I’ve had available. Just be as gentle as possible.

Other Wrong Methods

  • Hot match applied to an embedded tick
  • Paint with nail polish
  • Smother with petroleum jelly

The Correct Way

Flip the attached tick in a handstand position. Use tweezers or forceps to grab the little menace close to your skin. Pull straight up and out with steady pressure. Twisting or jerking will likely leave barbed mouthparts in your skin. Companies sell tick tools specifically designed to remove ticks safely. I’ve never used one but would be happy to hear your experience.

Now you can go all destroyer mode. In a wilderness setting, drop the tick in your camp fire to return it to its rightful place – HELL! Crush it between two rocks and burn the rocks to destroy any potential gooey pathogens. At home, simply flush the tick down the toilet. It’s also a good idea to sterilize the tweezers via heat or alcohol.

Wash the bitten area and your hands with soap and water or antiseptic ASAP. Check the tick to see if it lost its head in tug-o-war battle. If so, apply a plantain poultice to help draw the nasty stuff out of the bite indention.

Bushcraft Tick Tools

Carry these tools to add redundancy to you kit…

  • Swiss Army Knife – the tweezers are for more than plucking your unibrow
  • Compass – use the sighting mirror to inspect your nether region
  • Magnifying Glass – make fire on sunny days and get a visual on the smaller embedded ticks

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Within 3 to 30 days after being bitten, the first sign of Lyme disease is a reddish bull’s-eye about 2 inches in diameter at the bite location. If detected in the early stage, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics for a quick recovery. Later stages respond to antibiotics but may take months or years to cure.

Any itchy rashes or reactions after being bitten is a sign to seek medical attention. An extra precaution would be to preserve the tick in a small vial of alcohol or taped to a white piece of paper for identification purposes if complications arise. I’ve never been a tick saver. I burn ‘em!

My hatred for ticks can not be overstated! At the same time, I love being outdoors. So my war on these blood suckers continues with the lyrics of Ticks swirling in my head.

What’s your best tick tips on prevention and treatment?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. Don’t forget to enter to win my handcrafted leather journal! Click this link for your chance to win ->> a Rafflecopter giveaway

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: 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.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Medical, Natural Health | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

by Todd Walker

Here’s a reader appreciation giveaway!

[The giveaway is over as of 7/3/2014. Thank you to all who participated and support our blog!]

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

 

I’m learning leather craft as one of my Doing the Stuff skills this year. This is my second leather journal I’ve made and want to give it away!

Dirt Road Girl and I want to say thank you for all the support you’ve shown to our family over the last two years on our blog. One person will win this rugged bushcraft journal.

I custom-made this journal cover with hand stitched waxed tread to fit over a Wood Grain Compass Rose Journal from Barnes and Noble – which was made in China but the cover is 100% American Made! Once you’ve filled this journal, simple replace it with another journal to continue documenting your journey to self-reliance and preparedness.

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

The Compass Rose Journal insert on the left

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

A closer look at the journal package

How To Enter

To be eligible to win, you must be a legal resident of the U.S.A. Apologies to our readers in other countries. We are only able to ship to a U.S. address. To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. You have 4 options to enter the giveaway:

1.) “Like” our Facebook page

2.) “Follow” us on Twitter

3.) Tweet about the giveaway

OR

4.) Leave a comment on this blog post.

I know not all of you do social media. That’s why we added #4. If that’s you, just write “Keep Doing the Stuff!” in the comment section below to enter the giveaway.

 

It’s not required that you choose all four of these options, but you may if you’d like. Oh, spread the word and thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

The giveaway will begin June 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM and end July 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM. Once Rafflecopter randomly selects the winner, I will announce the winner on our blog and social media accounts. I will also contact you via Facebook, Twitter, and/or email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours of the close of this giveaway, a second winner will be chosen.

DRG and I wish each of you the best of luck and look forward to give one lucky reader this custom leather journal.

Enter by Clicking the Link Below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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

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: 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.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 78 Comments

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

For those unfamiliar with the term Functional Fitness, FF connects fitness to real-life function. Or another way to look at FF is fitness for the tasks you perform or may one day have to perform. In a general preparedness mindset, I practice functional fitness because it’s fun and build skills.

Another cool part of functional fitness is that you don’t have to pay for a gym membership to get in shape. Use the simple machines around your house or shop to prep your body for Doing the Stuff of self-reliance. In the spirit of saving money on gym memberships and the newest fitness equipment, I give you The Wild Woodsman Workout. By the way ladies, it’s not just for men. :)

The Wild Woodsman Workout

Though I have a bodyweight workout I follow, I wanted to up my game for a specific task – a wilderness survival school next month. I devote time in the woods (dirt time) practicing self-reliance, survival, and bushcraft skills but this is different. Will I have the endurance, strength (mental and physical), stamina to finish the course? We shall see.

Equipment Needed

  • Ax – a sharp one!
  • Wood – preferably in the woods.
  • Backpack – if you’re have access to a wild area.
  • Saw – buck saw, folding saw, limb saw, or crosscut saw.
  • Water – hydration before, during, and after the workout.
  • Insect repellant
  • Footwear – boots

Cut the Core

Any swinging motion done properly works your core muscles. Find a recently downed tree. Older dead falls are likely to be too rotted. [For urban dwellers, a local park will do] If your decently fit now, I recommend selecting a hardwood with dense fibers (oak or hickory). For my workout equipment, I selected a large Beech tree uprooted by March storms.

If you’re not familiar with ax safety, STOP right here! Learn the basics of cutting wood with an ax before proceeding. Until you learn this skill, substitute a sledge hammer for the ax and bang 0n an old tire in the backyard – which is an excellent workout in and of itself. You won’t see wood chips flying with the hammer, but you won’t cut off your leg or foot.

Here’s a helpful video by Dave Canterbury if you’re new to swinging a cutting tool.

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/A7ylTAH9aLE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

First, tuck your pant legs into your boots and lace them snuggly. Apply insect repellant to clothing and exposed skin. Deet-free sprays are available. A commercial brand I use and find effective is Naturapel. I’m still working on my DiY formula.

Now grab your pack and gear and hike to your fallen tree. Carrying a loaded pack (mine weighs 25#) serves as your warm up exercise.

Ideally, your tree will be laying on flat ground. There’s not many perfect situations in the wild. My tree was on a steep hill. Find a firm footing, cut away any obstructions in the swing path of the ax, and let the chips fly.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

On the backstroke!

I set up on a portion of a limb that was about 10 inches in diameter. Your skill and fitness level will determine the diameter to cut (This comes into play later in the workout). Try to swing at a safe, steady rate until you sever the limb/tree. Take breaks as needed. Fatigue leads to sloppiness and puts you at risk for a stupid injury.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Chopping up hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

After cutting through one end, being on a steep slope, I cut two 4′ stakes (2″ in diameter) from the smaller end of this limb, sharpened them, and drove them into the ground to prevent the log from shifting downhill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Stake the log on the downhill side if you’re on a slope.

Now you’re ready to cut a section from the log.

A note on cutting tools. The ax I used was my True Temper Kelly Perfect I restored recently. On the second cut I noticed the head was loose on the handle. I figured I could make it through the cut and add a wedge when I got home. Nope. It broke. Make sure you check your equipment regularly and fix what needs fixing. In a survival situation, I’d been up the creek without an ax!

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

And this wasn’t a mis-hit.

I intentionally brought my limb saw and I’m glad I did. Saw from underneath a notched log to relieve pressure and prevent binding. The sawing motion was an added bonus to the workout. Push-pull-push transfers to bow drill fires and the companies tug-of-war event.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Finishing the second cut with my saw.

It’s hot and humid in Georgia. Hydrate before, during, and after your workout!

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Water break at base camp!

Lift Heavy Stuff

Congrats on successfully cutting timber! Now you have a new piece of workout equipment.

Stand it on end and place your shoulder about midway on the log. Grip the bottom end with your hands in a squatting position with your back as straight as possible. Use your legs and hips to lift the log onto your shoulders. Beech happens to have a very smooth outer bark which makes your next exercise easy on the neck and shoulder. I’d recommend de-barking logs with rough bark. Use your ax or bring along a draw knife for this job.

Maintain your balance and haul it to your next station. My leg-destroying station is in the creek bottom just down the hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Squats on the rocks!

How many squats should you do? Depends on your present fitness level. I did 2 sets of 10. Keep your back straight, feet about shoulder width apart, head up looking straight ahead. Thighs should be parallel to the ground at the bottom of the squat.

Haul Heavy Stuff

Drop the log and drink water. Shoulder the log and walk up a hill if one is available. You never know when you may be called upon to haul a buddy to safety. This doesn’t replicate the rescue exactly but will light your calves and quads on fire.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Uphill gets more for your money.

Walk down and repeat five times. There’s no set distance. Do what you can do.

Jump Stuff

Plyometrics are awesome for developing explosiveness. For this one, find a stump, rock, park bench (for urban jungles), or fallen tree trunk. My equipment was too high for me to do straight up plyometrics – jumping from the ground over the top of the obstacle and back down again like a pommel horse.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Nature’s pommel horse.

I did about 10 reps of jumping over the tree from side to side…

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans WorkoutMight as well throw in a few push ups on the log while you’re there!

Primal Pool Dip

After a long Father’s Day morning workout, a woodsman needs to cool down. No better way to do this than to get all primal and jump in the creek! Grok on!! Not advisable in your city park. :)

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Checking for ticks and other creepy-crawlies. Found one!

 

The purpose of functional fitness is to prepare your body and mind for real-life tasks. It’s not about counting reps and bench pressing the world but more about training your body for situations you’re likely to encounter in daily life. An added bonus is the mental and emotional satisfaction gained from Doing the Stuff of self-reliance with simple tools and makeshift equipment.

Could you fireman’s carry a family member to safety – or split firewood without hydraulic equipment – or hoe that long row in your garden without having a stroke? You may never have to prove your worth in this regard but what if’s do happens.

Keep Doing the Stuff of self-reliance,

Todd

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

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: 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.

Categories: Bushcraft, Functional Fitness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Milestone Post #500! The One Stick Fire Challenge

by Todd Walker

You’ve helped us reached a milestone – today marks our 500th article here!!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire ChallengeDirt Road Girl and I want to thank each of you for supporting us on our self-reliance journey! We’re closing in on 1,000,000 visits. But the numbers aren’t what matter to us. Freely passing on knowledge, skills, and lore is our heartbeat of this site.

We express our deep appreciation for your support for our family – especially the prayers and thoughts you sent DRG’s way as she beat stage 4 cancer! We are HUMBLED and burning both ends of this second chance at LIFE!

Appropriately, our 500th post covers one of my favorite topics: Fire!

The One Stick Fire Challenge

A few months ago Justin Wolfe issued a challenge on his YouTube channel (grierwolfe). The purpose of the challenge was to make a sustainable fire with only one stick/log. An interesting concept and survival skill indeed. I love a good challenge and Doing the Stuff of self-reliance so I was in.

The guidelines (not rules) are to use one stick and one or two cutting tools to make fire. You’ll also need an ignition source. I’ve only seen ferro rods used in this challenge so that’s what I chose.

Tools

Here’s my break down on the tools I used:

  1. Knife – Condor Kephart
  2. Saw – Bacho Laplander folding saw
  3. Combustion – Ferro rod (the big one – 6″ Long x 1/2″ Diameter)

Wood

Your choice of wood is determined by available resources and the degree of difficulty you prefer in the challenge. For an easier fire, select any soft wood like cedar, pine, or poplar. Up the ante with oak or hickory.

The location of my personal space (shelter) is loaded with poplar and cedar. I chose a dead-fall limb from a poplar tree about the size of my forearm.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Using a plumber’s vise to hold the wood for sawing a one foot length of poplar

Others have used larger diameter logs for the challenge. Most of my shelter was built with dead cedar which I had available. But I went with poplar. Both cedar and poplar have bark that can be processed into fine fibrous material to form a bird’s nest. I noticed that Justin used a larger section of cottonwood but chose not to use the bark for his tinder bundle.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no rules or time frame in this friendly challenge. What matters is that we are trading theory for action by Doing the Stuff to improve our skills. Watching and doing are worlds apart.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

A benefit of building a personal space or base camp is furniture. I took advantage of the wood anvil and cedar rounds for my work station. Begin by splitting the wood with a your cutting tool. Batoning a knife, machete, or axe works.

You want to process three sizes of wood from your one stick:

  • Pencil-lead sized (smallest – feather stick curls and scrapings)
  • Pencil sized (small)
  • Thumb sized (largest)
Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bird’s nest

Tinder Bundle

There are few ways to create a good tinder bundle for this challenge. Use the outer bark if it’s fibrous like poplar or cedar. Processed down, the bark makes this challenge a bit more easy. Only use the sap wood and heart wood of your stock for more of a challenge. Either way, process enough pencil-lead to feed the fire from your tinder bundle.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Twist and rub poplar bark and separate the inner bark fibers

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Time consuming but well worth the effort

Feather Sticks

On a few pencil sized pieces, I shaved curls by propping my knife-hand on the anvil and pulling the stick towards me. I’ve found this technique coupled with a very sharp knife works well for curling smalls. On thumb sized fuel, I brace the stick at an angle and carve down the stick with the length of my blade to create the desired amount of curls for the feather stick.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Creating feather sticks

Take the time to process enough curls and shavings to add to your lit tinder bundle. More time was spent on processing the bark for the tinder bundle than any other part of the challenge. This step is even more important if you choose not to use the bark fibers. In that case, use the spine of you knife to scape off fine sawdust into a pile that will catch a spark from a ferro rod.

Dang, I’ve got to start recording this stuff on video. That’s a goal of mine this summer!

 Fire Lay

There’s really no best fire lay for this challenge. I used a twig fire lay which resembles the corner of a stacked split-rail fence. This allow ample air flow to feed the fire which is started in the corner. If the ground is wet, be sure to lay your tinder bundle on top of a few pieces of thumb size wood.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Fire lay

Ignition

With the tinder bundle in place and processed wood close at hand, shower sparks down on the bird’s nest. Processed into fine fibers, the poplar bark caught fire on the second pull of my ferro rod.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Ferro rod ignition

The bird’s nest won’t burn for long so be ready to feed the feather sticks and shavings on top of the blaze. Follow those with the pencil-lead and then pencil sized sticks. Make sure not to smother the flame. As the smalls ignite, place the thumb size fuel on top.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Adding smalls

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Burning fuel

Again, let me encourage you to practice safe procedures when using cutting tools. Cut away from your body and never in the Triangle of Death (between your thighs from knee to crotch).

Have fun practicing your bushcraft skills. We’re all at different levels of mastery. As you hone your skills, add more challenges in a controlled environment (backyard or personal space) remembering that perfect practice makes perfect.

Have you taken the One Stick Fire Challenge? Want to? If so, let us know your results.

Thanks Again!

To close, DRG and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and willingness to share the stuff you’re doing for self-reliance and preparedness! Y’all rock!!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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

Thank you for Sharing the Stuff!

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…

Copyright Information: 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.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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