Camping

DON’T PANIC! A Layperson’s Guide to Surviving Common Wilderness First Aid Emergencies

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

By Kathleen Starmer, OYOInfo.net

As a rule, I don’t take life guidance from a work of science fiction. But when it comes to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I make an exception. Whether you’re dealing with the sudden onset of a blizzard or an alien invasion, you won’t be of use to anyone if you allow yourself to be seized by the sinister tentacles of panic. Take a breath. Get all zen. Channel your inner monk. NOW you’re in the proper mindset to handle an emergency situation. Let’s proceed!

DISCLAIMER: Before we get into the meat of this article, let me say this loud and clear: I am not a medical professional. In fact, let’s all say that together, shall we? “Kathleen is not a medical professional.” The author accepts no liability for anything that happens to anyone who follows the advice in this article. The information supplied herein is strictly for informational purposes, and will hopefully serve to incite you to sign up for a Wilderness First Aid course so that you can enjoy The Great Outdoors in the safest manner possible. Glad we got that squared away.

Presenting (drum roll, please) three—count ‘em: THREE!—of the most common emergencies you’re likely to confront in a wilderness situation, as well as some suggestions on how best to handle said emergencies with only a basic level of training.

Oh, My Aching Back…or Foot…or…: Muscle Strains and Sprains

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

“Hold still! I’m trying to help!”

Ah, the disappointment of a twisted ankle one day into your week-long backpacking trip! Not surprisingly, the treatment for strains and sprains in exactly the same on the trail as it is on the soccer field: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE).

The “rest” part is fairly easy. If your schedule allows, take a day or two to chill out and give the injured muscle, tendon, or ligament a break. Ice can be a bit trickier. I, for one, have never hauled frozen blocks of water into the woods, but you can improvise by immersing the sore area in a cold stream for short intervals, filling a plastic bag with cold water and securing it to the injury, or even by wrapping a wet bandana around the injury and letting the breeze perform some evaporative cooling. That wet bandana can also do double-duty as a compression bandage, or you could break open the first aid kit and use an elastic wrap. Lastly, if the injury is to one of the person’s limbs, prop the offending limb on a backpack, a fallen log, or whatever handy item you can find to decrease swelling and speed recovery.

You can also offer anti-inflammatories to the patient if they wish to self-administer, and there are some fancy-schmancy taping techniques you can learn about in a Wilderness First Aid Course. Taping is especially useful if the patient needs to keep moving before they’ve fully recovered. Plus, it looks bad-ass.

“It’s Just a Flesh Wound”: Abrasions and Lacerations

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

Boo boos aren’t only for the wee ones when you’re on the trail

Boo-boos just seem to be a way of life in the outdoors. In fact, lots of folks don’t consider it a successful outing if they don’t come home with at least one “war wound.” But just because skin injuries are common doesn’t mean you should get all devil-may-care about them. You can minimize the risk of complications down the line by following these simple tips.

First of all, if there is significant blood loss, staunch the flow. Just a little bit of blood is fine—in fact, it can even be good, as it will clean out the wound. Otherwise, apply pressure to the wound with a clean bandage. You can learn proper technique in any basic first aid class. Major blood loss, it goes without saying, is beyond the scope of this article.

The second thing you want to do is prevent infection. Since we’re addressing injuries in the boonies, chances are, an open wound is contaminated with nasties. You can use the alcohol wipes found in your first aid kit to clean around the wound, but it’s best not to use those wipes on broken skin because their harsh nature might actually further damage tissue. Your best bet is to irrigate the wound with clean water. Either use copious amounts of flowing, potable water, or if you’re super-prepared, use a special irrigation syringe. In the unfortunate incident of embedded debris, you can use sterilized (read: toasted in your campfire) tweezers to carefully remove it. Now, if we’re talking outright impalement, that’s a whole other issue…again, best addressed by taking a Wilderness First Aid course. Gee, you knew I was gonna say that, didn’t you?

Lastly, you want to promote wound healing. This is simply a matter of applying a proper dressing. Bonus points for elevating the injured area to decrease swelling.

You’re Giving Me a Heart Attack: Cardiac Issues

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

Could be a heart attack; could be a bad cheeseburger. Play it safe and treat as a cardiac event.

You might be surprised to learn that heart attacks are among the top three causes of wilderness fatalities. It’s certainly not as “sexy” as a dramatic fall from a canyon wall, but a cardiac event has the potential to be just as deadly. So do yourself a favor: get in shape before you head out for that three-day backpacking adventure. Step away from the deep fried, gravy drenched chocolate cheesecake. Have a doctor give you the all-clear before you embark on that 14,000 ft summit hike. Do everything you can to stack the deck in your favor.

However, even the best-laid preparations can go awry, so it behooves you to know the signs of a cardiac emergency. While it’s true that less-serious conditions can cause some of these symptoms, when you’re in the wilderness, treat any patient with the following signs as though they are experiencing a heart attack until proven otherwise by a medical professional. Better safe than sorry. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the most common symptoms of heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort, typically in the center of the chest and lasting for several minutes. It may feel like painful pressure, squeezing, or a sense of “fullness.”
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or even the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath that is not due to exertion, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs could include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness/dizziness, or an impending sense of doom.

(Although the most common symptom of a heart attack for women is the classic chest pain shown in the movies, females are also more likely to experience the symptoms I’ve indicated in italics above.)

If you have any reason to suspect someone is your wilderness party is experiencing a cardiac emergency, sit them down, give them 325 mg of uncoated aspirin to chew for about 30 seconds and swallow, and make them comfortable. Ask if they are carrying nitroglycerin tablets. If they are, give the tablet container to them so that they can self-administer one dose. Keep them calm and quiet. If you have cell reception, call for emergency rescue by qualified professionals. If you are out of communication range, pick the fittest person in your party to hoof it back to civilization and bring help ASAP. A heart attack is serious business, and there are all sorts of special situations and qualifiers for this dilemma; your best bet is to get your Wilderness First Aid certification before your next outing so that you’ll know the proper course of action for your particular scenario.

So there you have it! A quick-n-dirty layperson’s guide for dealing with common wilderness emergencies. And I know I’ve said it 127 times already, but once again, with feeling: sign up for a Wilderness First Aid course today! Your life—or at least your comfort—may depend on it!

Author Bio:

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

After over a decade of working as an academic ecologist and another 13 years at NASA, Kathleen Starmer created http://OYOinfo.net with the intent of bringing practical emergency preparedness to The Every(wo)man. She is particularly concerned with helping people who live in urban areas deal with the fallout from climate change-related disasters. You can follow Kathleen on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/oyoinfo), Twitter (http://twitter.com/oyoinfo), Instagram (http://instagram.com/oyoinfo), and Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/oyoinfo). You can also amuse yourselves with her amateur video production skills on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmamAXUReXQyKZOX-jf6wrQ); encouraging emails may be sent to inquiry@oyoinfo.net (mailto:inquiry@oyoinfo.net). 

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P.S. Don’t forget to register to win a $75 gift certificate from Trayer Wilderness. The giveaway ends November 3rd! Click here to enter.

Categories: Camping, First Aid, Medical, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Finally! A Fire Piston That’s Bomb-Proof

by Todd Walker

A few months ago my friends, Glen and Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness, sent me their MultiFlame Tool to review. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical since I’ve yet to use a fire piston that produced an ember on a consistent basis. After two months of testing this tool, I was shocked… in a good way!

multiflame-tool-trayer-wilderness

Here’s why…

The MultiFlame Tool is aptly named. Glen Trayer reveals his genius in the design. Besides being a combustion device, it functions as a screw driver, auger, and, get this… a bore cleaner for sidearms! Multifunctional, redundant, and bomb-proof!

First, let’s look at its combustion capability.

Fire

Science students at my school are going to love this!

The primitive technology of making fire out of thin air is nothing new. Rudolph Diesel put this ancient concept to work in an internal combustion engine that bears his name to this day. Compressing air quickly in a chamber raises the air temperature to around 500º… hot enough to ignite petroleum fuel, or in our case, tinder material.

With the proper input, the MultiFlame Tool has consistently produced a burning ember with char cloth. Simply place a small piece of charred cloth in the hole at the end of the piston. Lubricate the o-ring with chap stick, saliva, fixin’ wax, skin oils, or other available lubricant. Insert the piston into the chamber and slam the piston in and quickly remove. It’s that simple.

An alternative to char cloth, chaga, known as tinder fungus, will work. I tested a piece of chaga that my buddy, Joel Bragg, gave me at the Pathfinder School the first weekend of October. On the third attempt with tinder fungus, I had a coal.

Here’s the video review:

Other Tool Functions

This tool is way more than a fire piston! You can use it as a screw driver. Any 1/4 inch hex head bit will fit the end of the piston chamber. The auger adapter accepts 5/16th inch hex shaft auger bits for boring larger diameter holes for camp craft and other wood craft chores.

Add a gun bore cleaner to the list. The round handle on the piston will unscrew allowing you to attach a bore cleaning brush for 9mm or larger sidearms. Small hex bits, cleaning brushes, and tinder material can be stored in the tin which comes with the kit. Two extra o-rings are included in the tin.

Conclusions

Would I choose fire pistons as my primary source of fire? No.

As I mention earlier, fire pistons were never a reliable combustion tool for me. However, the Trayer Wilderness MultiFlame Tool is not only a reliable ignition source, it’s multi-functionality has earned a spot in my kit!

If you’ve had epic fails with fire pistons, I recommend you try the bomb-proof MultiFlame Tool. They come in two sizes: 6″ piston ($45.00 – auger adapter not included), and 8″ piston ($75.00 – auger adapter included ~ which I reviewed). These MultiFlame Tools are made in American. Check out the other self-reliant items in their online store that has helped them live off-grid in the Idaho wilderness. Oh, and you won’t find better people to deal with!

You can order yours at Trayer Wilderness.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube 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, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Make an Emergency Shelter in 5 Minutes or Less

by Todd Walker

Your footing gives way and you body is immersed in 45º water. The clock is ticking. Within 15 minutes, you’ll begin to lose dexterity in your fingers. You need shelter and fire.

5-minute-emergency-shelter

Photo courtesy of Iris Canterbury, Pathfinder School photographer

What’s in your kit to help you erect a quick shelter and fire?

I uploaded my first ever YouTube video covering this topic. Check out my channel if you get a chance. I’d greatly appreciate any honest feedback from you on the video. The following is an outline of what I covered.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need for shelter and fire:

Emergency Shelter

  • Emergency space blanket
  • 4 ABS tent pegs
  • 25 feet of cordage

Hopefully you keep an emergency space blanket in your outdoor kit. If not, get one! They add little weight but have many redundant uses.

Before even heading out to the woods, prep your space blanket. Pre-install loops while you’re warm and dry. Tie a loop of cordage (#36 tarred bank line or paracord) in the four corners of your space blanket. I prefer the smaller diameter on the bank line. I used a necklace knot for the loops. Make the loops about 3 or 4 inches long… enough to slip a tent peg through.

Another time-saving tip: Practice this set up in your backyard. Keep a bowline knot tied on one end of your ridge line. Attach your pursik loop to the ridge line and leave it there. This will trim valuable minutes off your shelter set up in an actual emergency.

Fire

  • Ignition source
  • Tinder
  • Smalls (pencil lead and pencil size twigs)
  • Cutting tool

Practicing primitive fire craft in a controlled setting is smart, but you need fire now! Building a bow drill set off the landscape won’t cut it when you’re losing fine motor skills and finger dexterity at a rapid rate.

Wet and cold, you need fire fast! Always keep layers of sure-fire sources in a dry bag in your kit. A Bic lighter in your pocket, even wet, can be dried by blowing and shaking water out of the valve and striker. Ferro rods work in all weather conditions.

In my video, I collected a drum liner of smalls on my way to the site. This process takes the most time but is essential to creating a sustainable fire. In the eastern woodland, look for dead hanging limbs that snap when harvested.

Your fire kit should also be prepped with a bullet proof tinder material. Commercially made products like Mini Infernos or InstaFire burn for several minutes in wet conditions… even on water.

InstaFire: Lights in Wind, Rain, Snow, and on Water!

InstaFire on the water!

Processed jute twine is a flash tinder that burns quickly and may not ignite marginal or damp tinder and smalls. Click here for a DiY option on jute fire starters that burn for several minutes. Whatever you decide, commercial or homemade, it’s your job to test these items before you actually need them.

In Georgia, we have an abundance of fatwood. A couple of sticks always ride in my fire kits. For demonstration purposes on the video, I used fatwood. Create a pile of fatwood shavings with the spine of your knife if you have no other sure-fire starter. The increased surface of the shavings allows ignition with a spark from your ferro rod. Add a fatwood feather stick to the lit shavings and let the fire eat the smalls. This gives you time to add larger fuel as needed.

You can view my 32 ounce water boil on the video.

Knots

  • Bowline
  • Necklace/Blood knot
  • Trucker’s hitch
  • Prusik loop

These four knots are most useful in woodcraft and survival. Grab a length of cordage and practice tying the bowline, the king of bushcraft knots, while you watch TV or stand in line at the store. Simply ignore the stares. Practice until you are able to tie one with your eyes closed. I’ll do a short video on tying these 4 knots soon.

Here’s my first attempt at videos. Thanks for watching.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube 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, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

47 Creative Uses for Self-Aid in Your 10 Piece Kit

by Todd Walker

Fall is a season where many of us head out to enjoy the outdoors. Crisp air, colorful leaves, deer in rut, and clear mountain streams lure us to nature. Unfortunately, there are times when things go sideways on day hikes and canoe trips. When they do, you’ll need knowledge, skills, and resources to get home safely.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

The goal of wilderness survival is simple… to effect self-rescue or be found alive. Even “minor” injures in a 72 hour scenario can decrease your chances of meeting that goal.

Self-aid should become a top priority on your skills list. Why?

You’re likely to come in contact with sharp stuff, hot stuff, slippery stuff, and/or stinging stuff on outings. I rarely leave the woods without one of these most common wilderness injuries:

  • Cuts/Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Breaks/Strains/Sprains
  • Bites/Stings
  • Blisters

You may choose to carry a first-aid kit to treat these injuries. The problem with a dedicated first-aid kit (pre-made or homemade) is that they take up space and typically have only on use. Let me state upfront, if you require daily medication for health issues, by all means, be sure to pack enough of your meds.

Can your 10 piece kit double as a self-aid/first-aid kit? Indeed it can!

First, here are the 10 essential items that should go with you on every trip to the woods…

The 10 C’s of Survivability (10 Piece Kit)

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device
  3. Container
  4. Cover
  5. Cordage
  6. Cotton bandana
  7. Cargo tape
  8. Cloth sail needle
  9. Candling device
  10. Compass

Look beyond the obvious uses for these 10 items – shelter, fire, navigation, water, etc., etc. With a little creativity and practice, your 10 C’s can effectively treat each of the most common injuries in a 72 hour wilderness survival scenario.

Here’s how…

(Adapted from Brian Manning’s hand-out and Jason Hunt’s class on wilderness self-aid at The Pathfinder School)

Cuts and Abrasions

  1. Cutting tool – use knife to remove debris from wounds
  2. Combustion device – sterilize tools
  3. Container – irrigate and wash wound with water
  4. Cover – (drum liner, plastic tarp) bandage and cover wounds
  5. Cordage – tourniquet as a last resort
  6. Cotton bandana – wipe/clean wound, bandages, dressings, tourniquet
  7. Cargo (duct) tape – all-purpose Band Aid, DIY butterfly Band Aid
  8. Cloth sail needle – remove debris from wound and stitch/suture in extreme cases
  9. Compass – good compasses have a magnifying lens that can be used to inspect wounds closely
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Using your knife to cut a duct tape butterfly bandage. Keep your knife outside the Triangle of Death. You don’t need another wound.

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Pull the wound together after securing one side of the bandage to the skin. The cut should be pinched together slightly. This is a temporary fix.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings. Get one that is 100% cotton.

Breaks, Sprains, and Strains

  1. Container – water bottle used as a hot or cold pack
  2. Cordage – splint wraps, slings (add padding)
  3. Cargo tape – immobilize limbs by taping makeshift splints in place
  4. Cotton bandana or shemagh – slings, splint wraps, padding under splints (tie smaller bandanas together for longer slings)
  5. Cover (drum liner) – water collection (cold/hot pack), splint wraps, slings
self-aid-10-piece-kit

If using a folding saw or machete as a makeshift splint, tape the cutting edge before taping it to your limb.

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Immobilizing a limb. Add padding under your splint before taping.

Burns

  1. Cutting tool – remove debris and clean burns
  2. Container – use to pour water for irrigation, stop the burning process, and cold pack
  3. Cotton bandana – cover burn loosely, retain moisture on burn
  4. Cloth sail needle – clean burns
  5. Cover (drum liner) – cover and protect burns
  6. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to inspect burns and hard-to-reach areas on the body

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Bites and Stings

  1. Cutting tool – knife to scrape/remove stingers and splinters
  2. Container (water bottle) – cold compress to reduce swelling, irrigation – in the case of venomous snake bites, keep location cool, immobilize, and get medical help ASAP.
  3. Cargo tape – DIY Band Aids, bandage tape, remove stinger
  4. Cloth sail needle – remove stinger or splinter
  5. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to locate and inspect hard to reach areas on the body (i.e. – tick removal and bites)
  6. Cotton bandana – Band Aid/bandage material, pressure dressing
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Sighting mirror on compass used to inspect embedded tick on the back of the calf in the dark. A headlamp frees both hands for the task.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Cold water in a water bottle

Blisters

  1. Cargo tape – cover/shield developing hot spots
  2. Cloth sail needle – pop blister at base to drain
  3. Container (water bottle) – irrigate and clean area

Additional self-aid uses for the 10 piece kit

  • Your candling device (head lamp/flashlight) can be used for inspection and treatment at night with all the common injuries.
  • Metal water bottle and cup is useful for preparing infusions, decoctions, and sterilization of your knife or needle before cleaning wounds.
  • Besides using a tarp/emergency space blanket for core temperature control (CTC), these items can also serve as a stretcher, water collection device, and sling material.
  • Use your pack for immobilization and elevating injured limbs and or dealing with shock.
  • And of course, a proper fire kit affords you the ability to maintain CTC, heat natural medicinals, and heat compresses.

Your 10 piece kit should always accompany you on wilderness adventures. As you can see, these multi-purpose tools have many redundant uses. Heck, the 10 C’s of Survivability should go with you no matter where you’re headed.

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, First Aid, Medical, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

by Todd Walker

Weight – a unit of heaviness or mass; any heavy load, mass, or object; the vertical force experienced by a mass as a result of gravitation

Gravity. It’s unescapable… on this planet. It keeps us grounded. But it also weighs us down.

I consider myself to be in decent physical condition. Even so, at my age, every pound added to my backpack affects the gravitational pull and energy needed to carry the stuff. I’m no ultralight hiker by any stretch, but I do try to lighten my load every chance I get.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps

I’ve wanted to own an oilskin tarp for some time now. They’re durable but too pricey for our budget at this time. A quality oilskin tarp (new) will set you back $200. My motto, when it comes to gear, is buy the best you can afford. Or, go the common man route and make your own.

The idea for this project came from William Collins’ 4 part series on his YouTube channel. I’ve condensed his method into a short tutorial for you.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheet (flat). The higher the tread count the better. I used a king size which measures 8.5′ x 9′.
  • 20 oil lamp wicks (1/2″ x 6″). They come in packs of 5 at Wally World.
  • Boiled linseed oil – 3 to 4 cups (depending on the size of your cloth)
  • Mineral spirits – 3 to 4 cups
  • Dye (optional) unless your sheet is the color you desire
  • Containers
  • Heat source
  • Rubber gloves

Prep the sheet: Before the dyeing process begins, wash the sheet in cold water and washing powder. Then dry on high heat to close and tighten the woven fibers in the sheet.

Sew the lamp wicks on all corners and at two foot intervals along the edges. I sewed these on by hand. A sewing machine would take less time but that’s how I roll. I added 3 additional loops down the center of the sheet to allow for more options when configuring my tarp.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 1: Making Natural Dye

I filled the bottom of a 10 inch pot with green hickory nuts from a tree in our yard. Thank you, squirrels! Use an old pot that you don’t mind staining. I then added several black walnuts (green hulled) to the mix which happen to be dropping from trees now.

homemade-oilskin-bedsheet-tarp

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

With the dyeing agent (green nuts) in the pot, fill 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil on an outdoor fire. Allow to slow boil for an hour or more. The longer you boil, the darker your dye will become. I was going for an earth tone.

You can also break the green hulls off the black walnuts to increase the surface area and improve the extraction process. Be aware that the hulls will stain anything they touch – skin included.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

If you choose not to make your own natural dye, RIT dye is available at most grocery stores.

Step 2: Dye the Sheet

Test the color of your dye on a piece of scrap cloth. If you’re satisfied, strain the dye mixture into a clean container. A window screen over a bucket works well.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Place the sheet into the container. Use rubber gloves to prevent staining your hands. Turn and squeeze the material for a thorough coverage.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Leave the sheet in the dye for 24 hours. Longer for a darker color. To keep the sheet submerged, I place the lid of cast iron dutch oven on top. Not recommended. The greasy drip spikes on the lid left a polka dot stain pattern on the bed sheet. What was I thinking!? I replaced the heavy lid with one of DRG’s small dinner plates and a 25 lb. dumbbell.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 3: Set the Dye

Wring the sheet over the container to remove the excess dye. I hung mine over a double clothes line out back to dry.

Once dry, wash it in cold water with washing powder when your wife isn’t home. No, it won’t stain the washing machine tub. The cold water sets the dye. Dry the sheet on high in preparation for the waterproofing.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 4: Waterproofing

Mix equal parts boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (drying agent) in a container. I used a 5 gallon bucket. You only need enough to completely saturate the cloth. I used two cups of each and found dry spots on the sheet. Another cup of each did the trick. Other DiY’ers have “painted” the oil on their cloth. For the best coverage, message the oil into the material in a bucket. You’ll probably want gloves for this step.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Squeeze the excess mixture from the sheet back into the bucket. Funnel the extra waterproofing liquid in a smaller container and label it for later projects. I used the empty mineral spirits can.

Note on boiled linseed oil: Properly dispose of any oil soaked rags used to wipe spills. As the linseed oil dries, it creates heat and can combust spontaneously.

Worried about burning down your shop or barn while the tarp hangs to dry? Don’t be. Spreading the tarp to dry dissipates the heat.

Step 5: Cure the Sheet

Hang the oiled sheet vertically under a covered roof outside. In a hurry, I laid my sheet over the double clothes line. This method created two lines down the middle section of the sheet. Plus, it rained that evening. Dumb move. The next morning, water was standing on the sheet between the two lines. I hung the sheet under my attached shed behind my shop the next day.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

The drying time on the oiled sheet depends on humidity. Well, it rained for three days after I applied the oil. You guessed it, the tarp stayed tacky. When the weather cleared, it dried in 48 hours.

Now for the moment of truth… is it waterproof?

I hung the dried tarp on the clothes line and unreeled the garden hose. I set the nozzle on “shower” and pulled the trigger. This was my common rain shower test. It passed! No moisture behind the tarp when wiped with a paper towel.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Dry as bone!

Dry as bone!

Now for the hurricane test. I set the hose to “jet” from three feet away and blasted the tarp. The paper towel underneath remained bone dry!

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Even with standing water between the clothes line, no drips or moisture anywhere. Good to know the tarp could be used to harvest water in a survival scenario!

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

As far as durability, I’m pretty sure my bed sheet tarp won’t outlast an eight ounce canvas oilskin tarps. Maybe it will. Time will tell. I’m testing it this weekend at the Pathfinder School Basic Class. I’ll update y’all on its performance.

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, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 24 Comments

Top 13 Uses for Pine Trees in Woodcraft and Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Feel the nip in the air? Summer fades and autumn arrives to transform the forest canopy into an artist’s palate. Hunters, campers, and hikers are gearing up to enjoy the great outdoors.

Winter is on the way and many of your favorite edible and medicinal plants will fade into the landscape. But trees, they’ll stick around all four seasons. Now is the time to locate these valuable resources before their foliage covers the forest floor.

You may have a favorite season to tramp in the woods. For me, it’s Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer! Journal the location of these valuable resources. With the exception of evergreens, the only obvious identifying characteristics in the winter months will be the tree bark.

In this 5 Part Series, we’ll cover my top 5 useful trees found in the Eastern Woodlands; more specifically, in my home state of Georgia. These may be in your neck of the woods too. First up, a tree that is ease to identify year round.

pine-tree-uses-self-reliance

Pine (genus Pinus)

Let’s start with North America’s most familiar and successful conifer, pine trees. Whether you’re from the south or not, you know a pine when you see one.

There are 36 pines in North America to choose from. To narrow down the species, count the needles. The Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) is the only species with 5 needles in the fascicle sheath (the paper-like sheath surrounding the base of the needles). I’m just south of their natural range and haven’t had much experience with this variety. This tree is touted as the king of Vitamin C. But all pines are useful medicinally.

Self-Aid

Medicinal Properties include: antiseptic, astringent, inflammatory, antioxidant, expectoranthigh in Vitamin C for colds – flu – coughs, congestion, and even scurvy. Shikimic acid, the main ingredient in Tamiflu, is harvested from pine needles in Asia.

A.) Pine Needle Tea: Drink a cup of pine needle tea to extract the useful stuff when you feel flu-like symptoms in your body. More research can be found here.

How to Make Pine Needle Tea

Add a few pine needles to a cup of boiled water (Don’t boil the needles in the water as this will release un-tasty turpenes). Allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Add natural sweetener if you like. I prefer pine needles only for a Vitamin C boost!

B.) Pine Bark Band Aid: The inner bark can be fashioned as an antiseptic Band Aid for cuts and scraps. Apply to wound and secure with duct tape, bandana, or cordage.

Inner bark Band Aid from the pine tree

Inner bark Band Aid from a pine tree

C.) Pine Sap/Resin: This sticky sap can also be used to cover wounds, blisters, and burns. Collect hardened sap from a wounded tree and heat it to make it pliable.

Mowers scared this tree on a power line. The white streaks are pine sap. Older sap is easier to collect when it forms a amber "ball" at a wound.

Mowers recently clipped this tree on a power line. The white streaks are pine sap. Older sap is easier to collect when it forms an amber “ball” at a wound.

D.) Pine Pollen: The yellow pine pollen that blankets the south in the spring is actually beneficial, not only for pine tree reproduction, but also for boosting our energy levels with small levels of testosterone.

Arthur Haines describes on his YouTube channel how pine pollen provides multiple avenues of protection against radioactive cesium. The endogenous antioxidants that are promoted by pine pollen are protective of DNA against radioactive particles.

Woodcraft Uses

E.) Bug Dope: “Nussmuk” (George Washington Sears) described his effective insect repellent in the North Woods with its main ingredient being pine resin. Once applied, a bronze protective film gave his skin weeks of protection from pesky biting insects.

Woodcraft and Camping by "Nessmuk"

F.) Firecraft: Fat lighter’d (fatwood, lighter wood, fat lighter, pine knot) is in every fire kit I own. It’s plentiful in Georgia and hard to beat as a natural fire starter/extender – especially in wet conditions.

Shavings from fatwood will ignite with a ferrro rod.

Shavings from fatwood will ignite with a ferrro rod.

G.) Pine Bark Bacon: Inner bark is edible . Check out this woodsman at Survival Topics frying pine bark like bacon!

H.) Core Temperature Control: Debris shelter roofing, pine bough bed for insulation against conductive heat lose, shelter construction,

I.) Pine Pitch Glue: Used for hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows, patching holes in tarps, seal containers, fire extender, waterproofing equipment – really, any stuff that needs adhesive.

J.) Illumination: Fat Lighter’d torches are simple to make and adds light to your camp or night-time trek.

Fatwood torch | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

K.) Hugelcultur: Dead wood in hugelcultur beds acts as a water retention sponge to help build food independence and self-reliance. Want to build one? One of our Doing the Stuff Network members shows you how Here.

L.) Signaling: To alert rescuers, a pre-made signal fire built with green pine boughs on top will generate enough white smoke to be seen for miles.

M.) Firewood: Burning pine on your campfire won’t produce BTU’s like hardwoods, but will keep you warm and cook your coffee. Plus, piney forests are littered with an abundance of dead limbs for fuel. The carpet of dead needles can be gathered for tinder material.

The lowly pine is listed first in our series for a reason. As you can see, its uses are many… too many to list here! Please add to the list in the comments anything I missed (I always miss something) to help us learn from each other.

Next up in the series: White Oak.

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, First Aid, Natural Health, Permaculture, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Daily Disaster Drills and The 5 C’s of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Everyday life if full of daily disaster drills.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

1.) Red Barn Forge Bushcraft knife 2.) Fire kit – ferro rod, lighter, magnifying glass, fatwood, char tin 3.) USGI poncho 4.) Pathfinder stainless steel bottle and cook set 5.) #36 tarred bank line

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The fire alarm blared mid-sentence second period. My first thought was that this couldn’t be a routine, scheduled drill. Our sixth graders were taking one of those useless, high-stakes standardized tests. A prankster either pulled a fire alarm in the hall or the building was on fire.

Waiting for fire trucks to arrive, our class stood in a hot Georgia sun. Sweat and hints of body odor began to waft through the crowd. Occasional whines floated through the air. But no visible smoke from the building.

Thirty minutes later, “all clear” was given. A defective alarm in the system cause 850 middle schoolers to line up, somewhat orderly, on the safe edges of our school yard. Every teacher and student knew exactly what to do and where to go. We practice fire drills, religiously, once a month. No coaching or coaxing needed. It’s automatic!

Had this been a real emergency – school burns to the ground – would I have been personally prepared to get home? I know many coworkers who leave car keys, phone, wallets, and purses in their classrooms during evacuation drills. Real “what if” situations aren’t likely. It’s only a drill, right?

Emergency preparedness doesn’t cover the entire scope of self-reliance. However, it often times serves as a gateway or starting line for deeper self-reliance and Doing the Stuff skills.

Having the skills to properly use supplies and equipment is even better. Layered redundancy in tools, coupled with practiced skills, equips you to handle stuff when the “what if” actually happens.

Two is One – One is None Mentality

What’s in Your Pockets?

Back to the school yard. What’s on my person that could affect my personal survivability?  Do I have the 5 C’s of Survivability on me at all times? How about backups to these essentials?

Let’s see…

  • Car keys in my pocket – √
  • Brain – √ (“If I only had a brain.” ~ Scarecrow)
  • Combustion device in pocket and on key ring – √
  • Cutting tool in pocket – √
  • Communications device (phone) in pocket – √
  • Cover in emergency car kit – √
  • Cordage in wallet (Gorilla Tape) – √
  • Candling device (flashlight) – √ [one of the 10 C's of Survivability in my pocket]

If you’re familiar with the 5 C’s, you noticed I’m missing the all important Container from my list above. No worries.

Get Home Bag

I only teach one hour in my own classroom each day. The other four periods I move to other classrooms – away from my Get Home Bag. I can’t grab this bag if we evacuate the building after 9:50 AM. That’s why it’s smart to have layers of redundancy in your vehicle emergency supplies.

Vehicle Kit

My car keys are literally the KEY to accessing more essential survival stuff – metal container included. My vehicle is my preferred method of conveyance. If my ride dies, my hiking boots and spare socks (stored in the vehicle) are plan B for my 21 mile journey home.

I’ve written a detailed post on my car kit if you’re interested in seeing the junk in my trunk.

The Why Behind The 5 C’s of Survivability

These 5 tools have passed the test of time to help humans survive and thrive. From the first human who discovered a sharp edge on a flake of stone, our entire history changed – as did the size of our brains! The cutting tool put us at the top of the food chain. Animal fat and protein could now be harvested with sharp stuff and processed with another tool in the 5 C’s – combustion/fire.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

My nephew, Kyle, enjoying some wild ginger tea on our last rainy dirt time session

Skills to use these 5 items will always trump the “hottest”, shiny survival gadget on the market.

Here is the run down of why you should include these 5 items in every kit you pack.

To sum it quickly, specialized skills and material are needed to reproduce these 5 essential tools in the wilderness.

So you’re not into wilderness self-reliance?

You should be and here’s why

Chris Noble at Master Woodsman just gave me a different, and enlightened, perspective on what wilderness really means. I lifted these bullet points of his broader definition of Wilderness…

  • when you’re lost in the woods, roadless or not
  • it’s when the electricity stops coming through the wires to your house for a long period of time
  • or even worse, your home is damaged or destroyed from a storm or other event.  Don’t tell me after Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy those poor souls weren’t in a wilderness.
  • wilderness is an emergency situation with no immediate help [emphasis mine]

The 5 C’s are essential for any setting, urban jungle or vast wilderness. The tools pictured above fit nicely into my haversack and/or attach to my ring belt and accompany me on all treks, short or long, into my wilderness.

Below is a brief explanation and a minimum of three redundant uses for each of the 5 C’s.

A) – Cutting Tool

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – craft splints, dig splinters, remove ticks, etc.
  2. Shelter – craft stakes, toggles, supports, and other needed tools
  3. Fire – a 90º spine for ferro rod use, carve feather sticks, process wood
  4. Food – processing game and collecting edibles

B) – Combustion Device

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – sterilize cutting tools and needles
  2. Shelter – core temperature control
  3. Water – purification
  4. Fire – heat to complete the triangle of fire (heat, fuel, oxygen)
  5. Signaling – smoke rescue signal
  6. Food – cooking

C) – Cover (proper clothing is first layer of cover)

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – core temperature control
  2. Shelter – creates a micro climate for core temperature control
  3. Signaling – if your cover contrasts with your surroundings

D) - Container

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – make herbal concoctions and infusions
  2. Water – transporting water
  3. Fire – metal water bottles can be used to make char cloth for your next fire
  4. Food – collecting and cooking stuff

E) – Cordage

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – slings, pressure wraps, and bandaging
  2. Shelter – lashings and knots
  3. Food – snares, fishing line, hanging a bear bag, etc.

* The 5 C’s are adapted from Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder System which I follow

Our other kits (vehicle, get home bag, and Bug Out Bags, hunting/fishing) contain duplicates of these 5 C’s and more. Obviously, our vehicles can haul more than these five items. When carrying capacity is a consideration, cull the shiny survival objects and build your skills with the 5 C’s.

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: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

How to Craft a Down and Dirty Survival Gig from a Sapling

by Todd Walker

In Surviving Large on Small Stuff, I was asked how I made the gig used to harvest the water moccasin in that post. Two months later – sorry for the delay – I give you my gig tutorial.

diy-survival-gig

A survival gig is a simple tool that has been used, and is still employed by primitive hunter-gatherers and boy scout troops, throughout history to add protein to campfire meals.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need to build your own survival gig.

Gather the Stuff

  • A sapling from a known species
  • Cutting tool(s) (folding saw and knife)
  • Cordage

Knowing the properties of trees comes in handy when selecting wood for your gig. As Chris, over at 35 Years of Scouting, discovered the hard way, along with 15 young scouts in his troop, the emetic properties of the Paw Paw tree on a recent camping trip. Everyone got sick. I appreciate his candor in sharing their lesson.

Step 1

Choose a 6 to 8 foot sapling from a hardwood family if available. American Beech trees scatter the understory near my shelter and personal space. I harvested a fairly straight sapling about 2 fingers in diameter and cut it to about 1 foot taller than my height. Bamboo is also a great selection since it grows like a weed (renewable) and crafts with ease.

Step 2

Trim the shaft of all limbs. Place the larger of the two ends on a wooden anvil (stump or log). With your knife and a baton, make two perpendicular splits into the end of the shaft. The depth of each cut should go 7 or 8 inches. Make deeper cuts for a wide-tined gig.

How to Craft a Down and Dirty Survival Gig from a Sapling

Strip the bark of the shaft the length of these splits. This can be done before making the splits. I did so after splitting to avoid handling the wet wood beneath the bark.

Step 3

Keep one pencil-sized limb from your trimmings. Split a 3 inch long green twig to make two spreaders. Wedge the first spreader into one split on the shaft. Once in place, install the other spreader into the opposite split.

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

diy-survival-gig

A view from the business end

Step 4

With your knife, remove wood from the 4 gig points. Avoid the triangle of death (area of spread legs between the crotch and knees) when crafting wood. Always cut away and to the side of your body. Another power technique for whittling is the chest lever grip.

Chest lever gets it done safely

Chest lever gets it done safely

For a chest lever, grip the knife with the blade facing away from your body. Lock your arms against your sides. Contract your back and shoulder muscles while expanding your chest to move the wood against the cutting edge of your blade. The knife is anchored to your chest and hardly moves. Using a chest lever is a powerful and safe way to craft wood.

Step 5

Whittle gig points. Nothing fancy. Although I added a barb to each point on this gig. Totally unnecessary. Straight points work fine. As a matter of fact, the points are stronger without the barbs. But I wanted to test my new knife’s fine carving abilities. I’m pleased with my Red Barn Forge Bushcrafter! A little more dirt time and I’ll have a review on this knife for you.

Nice knife!

Love this knife!

Step 6

Lash the spreaders and shaft. I used 36# tarred bank line. Any cordage (natural or manmade) will do.

To preserve your cordage for later use, avoid tying hard knots. Use a timber hitch below the spreaders to get your lashing started. Tighten the cordage every 3 wraps with a toggle stick or, in my case, with the package carrying tool on my Swiss Army Knife.

Used about 6 feet of cordage here. Remember to trim the spreaders.

Used about 6 feet of cordage here

Terminate the lashing with a clove hitch. Both the timber hitch and clove hitch are easy to tie and untie without the need to cut your cordage.

Saw or cut the spreader sticks almost flush to make your gig streamline. I missed a creek lobster (crawfish) when the spreader sticks glanced off a rock in tight quarters.

This is a fun and easy project for backyard bushcraft, camping, and/or survival training. There’s a large degree of satisfaction in making your own gear when building self-reliance skills. Plus, campfire food seems to taste better when harvested with stuff you’ve crafted yourself!

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, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 5 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

How I Preserve Food: Modern Mountain Man MRE’s

by Todd Walker

Humans have been preserving their harvest well before modern conveniences like pressure canners and deep freezers were invented. Preserving the harvest was the art of delaying nature’s natural effect on food – spoilage.

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Being resourceful… and just plain hungry, our ancestors figured out ways to make food safe to eat long after living food was dead. Fermenting, smoking, drying, grinding, pounding, salting, and/or curing were preservation methods Native Americans, frontiersmen, long hunters, mountain men, and pioneers used.

None of the above, are you?

Maybe you hike, camp, or hunt. What I’m about to share will even be useful to hungry desk jockeys looking for a  protein-rich, healthy snack you won’t find in the processed-food vending machine at the office.

The vast majority of us are not mountain men/women or Amazon explorers (not the online store). We’re simply on a modern-day journey of self-reliance. You have to eat now and later. Learning to preserve foods with traditional methods is a skill you’ll be glad to own when the power grid fails.

In the meantime, let’s make a Mountain Man MRE (Meals Ready To Eat). The MRE will consist of four items; pemmican, jerky, parched corn, and dried blueberries. Here is another article on our site for pemmican with dried fruit mixed in. Parched corn is being added to the MRE with a brief tutorial. Today’s post will focus on making jerky in traditional fashion – over an open fire.

Modern and old ways will meld together. For instance, I used our electric Excalibur dehydrator for drying corn to parch and made jerky over a fire pit. This is my modern version of traditional trail foods eaten by Native Americans, fur traders, and mountain men.

Our Mountain Man MRE’s need to meet the following criteria:

  • Convenience – similar to pre-packaged, processed fast food – only ours is whole food and healthy
  • Storable – long-lasting without modern refrigeration
  • Transportable – dense, compact, and light-weight (less than 1/2 pound)
  • Tasty – an acquired taste by some but I love this primal stuff

Onto the first item of your MRE…

How to Make Jerky

If this is your first attempt at making jerky, you may want to read how to safely dry meat in my Definitive Guide to Making Jerky.

Being a Mountain Man MRE, this was a fine opportunity to dry meat over an open fire. I’ve cooked many meals over campfires but never made jerky this way.

What new stuff did you do today?

Every new preserving technique we own, no matter how small, is one step closer to food independence.

Step 1

Start a fire with hard wood to create a coal bed. A fire pit is nice if you have one. A charcoal grill may work for you.

Step 2

Design a way to hang the meat. I used poplar and sweet gum saplings lashed to my outdoor kitchen tripod.

How to Make Modern Mountain Man MRE's

Step 3

With a bed of coals underneath the rack, place the meat over the heat. The rack was about two feet over the fire.

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Jerky hanging

Then the rain came down. I improvised and wrapped a tarp around the tripod which did two things; protected the fire, and created a smoke chamber accidentally.

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Smoke house teepee

Step 4

Wait. The meat took about 4 hours to dry on the fire. I keep the coals going from time to time by adding wood at the back of the fire pit. The key here is to keep a constant heat (shoot for 225-250º F) inside the smoke house. Low and slow. You not cooking the meat.

Step 5

Check for doneness. If the jerky strips bends and no fibers are exposed at the bend, it’s not ready to be used for pemmican. You want a very dry meat that can be ground into powder.

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Now you’re ready for the next item on our MRE package…

How to Make Traditional Pemmican

Down and dirty (traditional) pemmican consist of dried meat and rendered fat. I’ve seen a few fat-free pemmican recipes on the internet but that idea is just plain ludicrous and feeds the big fat lie. Stick with healthy, grass-fed fat for a satiating trail food. Ever heard of rabbit starvation? If you hate the thought of eating fat, substitute honey as a binding agent instead of tallow. Peanut butter pemmican is another option.

For today’s recipe, we’re using rendered tallow and jerky made over an open fire – mountain man style!

Disclaimer: This was my first attempt at jerking meat over a fire. Not an easy task in the rain – but doable. After the jerky was ready over the fire pit (approximately 4 hours), for added safety, I tossed it into our Excalibur for an extra hour. Also, modern kitchen appliances were used to grind and prep the jerky. The old school method is to place the dried meat on a stone and pound it to a powder. Gotta gather me some stones next time!

 Step 1

You’ll need equal parts of tallow and ground jerky. Here’s how I render tallow. You may add dried fruit to the mix if you like. I prefer the taste without the fruit.

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Jerky dried over an open fire

For time’s sake, I used our Vitamix blender to turn jerky strips into a fine powder. Dump the powder in a mixing bowl while your tallow is warming on the stove.

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Jerky powder!

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Pre-made tallow melting

When heating the tallow, don’t allow it to get so hot that it smokes/burns. Low to medium heat here.

Step 2

Pour a small amount of tallow into the powdered jerky and stir. Don’t pour all the tallow in at once. It’s easier to add more tallow than to grind more jerky.

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It took two pours of tallow for the correct consistency

Step 3

You’ll know when you’ve got enough tallow mixed in with the jerky when it compresses without crumbling.

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Needs more tallow

Add too much tallow and the pemmican’s jerky flavor will be overwhelmed by tallow. Mix while your tallow is warm to better saturate the meat powder.

Step 4

When the right consistency is achieved, add mixture to a loaf pan. Press it down evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and, with one motion, drop the upside down loaf pan onto the paper. Lift the pan and you should have perfect pemmican. Another option is to form pemmican patties or balls. I’ve thought about sprinkling powered sugar on top and slipping these on the snack table at faculty meetings. ;) I’ll video the response and get back with you.

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Pemmican loaf!

Wrap the wax paper around the loaf and place it in the refrigerator until the tallow hardens. Slice into individual serving sizes and wrap in wax paper. Place in a container (ziplock bag or paper bag) for your next adventure. Wax paper and ziplock baggies have redundant uses… wax paper = fire starter; ziplock bags = container.

Or – go fur trader style and stash your fresh pemmican in a “parfleche” – an untanned animal skin bag. For further reading on the benefits of this amazing trail food, check out my article on Bread of the Wilderness.

Pemmican may be eaten as stand alone snack/meal or added to beef up wild onion soup for a hot trail meal.

Add the third item to your MRE…

How to Make Parched Corn

Dried corn that has been roasted is called parched corn. Removing/reducing he moisture content makes the corn last a long time. Parched corn is easier on the teeth than plain dried corn. You’ve bitten a popcorn kernel before, right?

Ideally, you’d walk out to your corn crib and grab a few ears. If you’re like me, you may not have access to dried corn on the cob. Dirt Road Girl and I took a road trip looking for dried corn. We stopped at a local organic farm we buy from, but their corn crop was gone and stalks plowed under.

We ended up buying two green ears for this experiment. I shucked them and tossed them into our dehydrator as a test – along with a bag of frozen organic grocery store corn. The bag corn was cut from the cob. Traditionally, you’d want the whole kernel. We adapted and used the cut corn. Dehydrating corn on the cob was a big waste of time.

Step 1

Heat a pan/skillet over medium heat. You can parch corn in a dry pan or with oil added. I tried both and found the dry pan batch tasted the best. You’d think bacon fat would make anything taste better. Not with the corn.

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Parching with bacon grease

Add salt or other spices (optional) to the pan and cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer of dried corn. Shake the pan to keep the corn from scorching. A spatula is also helpful for stirring. Keep the pan and corn moving for a few minutes until it turns golden brown. Dump that batch and add another.

Step 2

Allow it to cool and bag and tag your snack. Pretty simple.

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The completed Modern Mountain Man MRE!

Pictured above is the full-meal deal: Two bars of pemmican, one bag of parched corn, one bag (about 8 pc.) of water buffalo jerky, and a bag of dehydrated blueberries. The entire Mountain Man MRE weighed less than 1/2 pound (0.418 # to be exact).

Where’s the bread? Since I don’t eat bread, I didn’t include traditional hardtack in the MRE. Survival News Online has a great how-to for your reference if you’d like to make your own.

Hopefully, this light-weight, nutrient dense MRE will keep you moving on your next outing. Toss it in your coat pocket or haversack and you’re set for mobile fast food on the trail!

To see how a few of my Prepared Blogger friends preserve foods, check out our “How We Preserve Foods” round robin below with over 20 articles to help you achieve food independence!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

The Prepared Bloggers - How We Preserve Foods

Join us as we share different reasons and methods of how we preserve food to create a long-term storage plan for our families. Click on each link to be taken to a new blog with helpful information and tips.

Mom with a PREPHow to Dehydrate Ginger and Make Ginger Powder

Preparedness MamaMake Jam Without Pectin

Mama KautzDehydrating

Busy B HomemakerFreezer Jam

Ed That MattersAnyone Can Do It: Fool Proof Food Storage

The Apartment PrepperEasy Marinated Mushrooms

The Homesteading HippyHow to Use Your Pressure Canner

Montana HomesteaderMaking and Preserving Cherry Pit Syrup

Are We Crazy or WhatHow to Dehydrate Cherries

Your Thrive LifeHow I Preserve Food: Meals in a Jar

Melissa K NorrisRe-Usable Canning Tattler Lids-Do They Really Work?

Real Food LivingPreserve and Store Grains wiith Dry Ice

Cooke’s FrontierSmoking

Homestead DreamerWater Bath Canning

Evergrowing FarmHow to Preserve Red Chile

Survival SherpaModern Mountain Man MRE’s

The Backyard PioneerFermentation

Trayer WildernessHow We Preserve Food

Living Life in Rural IowaVegetable Soup

The Organic PrepperHow to Make Jam without using added Pectin

Homesteading MomHow I Preserve Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

A Matter of PreparednessHow I Preserve Using Mylar Bags

 

Categories: Camping, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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