Camping

Why Being a “Tree Hugger” Builds Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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…

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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.

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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: , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Top 3 Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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

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

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

by Todd Walker

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

Fire is life out there!

In fact, it’s so important I carry at least three emergency fire starters with me on wilderness adventures. I’ve made my own DiY starters in the past from waxed jute twine, char cloth, cotton balls and petroleum jelly, and dryer lint and wax. In a true survival situation, having the ability to start and sustain a fire is crucial. This component of survival skills should be practiced by all who venture into the great outdoors.

Even if you’ve never started a fire in a barbecue grill, you could start a campfire with this amazing product. First off, InstaFire is an all natural fire starter made from volcanic rock and other natural ingredient, mixed with wood pellets and then sealed with food grade paraffin wax.

I was contacted by the CEO of Inst-Fire, Inc., Konel Banner, who sent me two packets of InstaFire to try. As our regular readers already know, I don’t advertise on our blog and receive no compensation for reviews. If I review a preparedness product or piece of self-reliance gear, I’ll gladly recommend it if I think it would add value to our journey together. If not, I’m tell you the truth and move on.

Trading Theory for ACTION!

I’ve heard and read a lot of hype about many preparedness products flooding the market today. I’m afraid some products don’t live up to their epic claims. Marketing shapes and bends consumer choices without real world testing in some cases. I finally got some dirt time scheduled to give InstaFire a whirl.

Here’s what I found…

It Burns On Water

No commercially made fire starter I’ve tried matches the ease of use and combustibility of InstaFire! No need to prep the material – just pour and light.

For my first test, I poured a small amount in the edge of the creek near my personal space. It floated atop the water with only a few pieces drifting down stream. I wasn’t concerned about chemicals contaminating the water since the product is human and environment friendly. You can safely store it inside your home or next to your food in your Bug Out Bag or backpack. When lit, it reaches almost 1,000º with no noxious fumes or odor.

The floating pile of InstaFire took a spark from my Fat Ferro Rod… instantly.

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

Fire on the water!

A lighter or match also works. It would probably be more difficult to light with a flint and steel striker – but judging the results of my ferro rod test, it should catch. There was no snow or high wind in Georgia for my test. However, the floating flame convinced me of its usefulness.

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

Lightly stir to continue the burn.

The flame began to die down in 5 minutes. I lightly stirred the burning pile and the flame burned another 5 minutes or so on the water. And this was with about a quarter of the contents from the InstaFire mylar bag (1.75 oz size). While burning atop creek water has no practical survival use for us, it demonstrates its combustibility in wet conditions. When you’re wet and cold, a pile of InstaFire would be a great fire extender to dry kindling for your next fire.

Next, I built a log cabin fire lay with another 1/4 serving from the bag on a damp fire ring next to the creek.

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

Obviously, you’ve got to do your part in gathering the wood. It’s not a blow torch! I used a dead fall poplar limb which made a crisp snap when broken. Kindling included pencil-lead-size twigs, pencil-size, and thumb-size at the ready when the InstaFire took another spark from the ferro rod. Here are the results…

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

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

Instant fire!

Benefits of InstaFire

  • Safe – no toxic chemicals for a “green” burn
  • Storage – 30 year shelf life
  • Combustible – but with no accelerant flare ups; just a steady, controlled burn
  • Lightweight – ideal for Bug Out Bags, lightweight backpacking, bushcraft kits, or camping
  • Starter – use to start charcoal briquettes for dutch oven cooking or backyard grilling
  • Backyard Fire Pits – when you don’t have time to practice your fire skills ;)
  • Emergency Scenarios – hunting, fishing, day hikes, and wilderness outings – ya just never know

InstaFire is available in 2 and 5 gallon buckets for home/RV use, 1 cup single use packs, and boxes of 24 one-half or 1 cup packs. You may order online via their website or through retail stores. Check their site for store locations. The single use packs I used cost $1.49 each.

This is a product I DO recommend for all who are pursuing preparedness and self-reliance! I’ll be adding more to my preps for sure.

How about you? Have you tried InstaFire? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section.

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 the 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

by Todd Walker

The thought of a second grader even touching an razor-sharp ax is horrifying to modern helicopter parents… and probably illegal in some jurisdictions! If so, please don’t share this.

Yesterday was one of the best days yet in my young grandfathering career! Our daughter and grandson came over to hang out and hit up our local farmer’s market for some naturally grown produce. Afterwards we played several rounds of Eye Spy at a local restaurant, ate lunch together and headed home. Max slumped in a patio chair and said what every young video gamer has running through their mind when their electronic device is not in their hands…

“There’s nothing to do.” *Sigh*

That’s all I needed to hear!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I’m bored! 

Like most school children today, our grandson had a fear of sharp, pointy stuff ingrained in his psyche within two years of public schooling. The NO WEAPONS mantra had stuck in his pliable mind. Knives, axes, and most of all – guns! These menacing, inanimate objects are inherently evil and must be avoided. Granted, these tools should not be left in the path of toddlers. This begs the question, what age is appropriate to begin training children to use a knife or ax?

You’re no stranger to the No Weapons Zone signs if your kids are school age. Yes, all these tools can be weapons. Yellow school buses and SUV’s possess the same ability.

But here’s the thing… the intent of the user is what matters. Even with the purest intentions, accidents happen. All the more reason to introduce safe handling and respect for these tools to the next generation at an early age.

Under proper supervision and training, Max discovered that my camp ax is a useful cutting tool – not the vicious weapon portrayed in Kindergarten circle time.

As a prepared parent or grandparent, you have to decide the appropriate age to begin training your children to use sharp stuff. There’s no magical age. We’re all individuals. Move slowly and follow their curiosity and maturity level. My children didn’t come with a user’s manual. You just have to figure it out as you go.

It’s my hope that these tips will help train our next generation to begin Doing the Stuff with the tools of our trade.

Fear Factor

While demonstrating my DiY Survival Sling Shot at our backyard, Max was afraid to try it out. He told me that he knew what those things were called, pointing my bag of ammo.

“What?” I asked.

“Bullets.”

“No buddy, these are ball bearings.”

“Well, they look like bullets,” he assured me.

My explanation of “bullets” gave him enough confidence to pull the sling without the “bullet” misfiring in his hand. He fired a few rounds and hit the target.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

Taking aim!

Fear is overcome easily with truth and patience. Our body follows our mind (thoughts). An elementary physics lesson on what made bullets (or any object) move was all it took. I shot a pebble to prove the point.

Safety First

Obviously, safety of the child and bystanders is paramount when using projectiles or cutting tools! Our next skill came about through his curiosity of an ax in my shop.

Here’s a few tips I hope you find helpful for introducing your child to cutting tools.

First, allow the child to hold the ax with the bit (sharp edge) in the sheath or mask. I used my Backcountry Ax with a 16 inch handle. Take a moment to point out that the bit will bite and that axes should always be sheathed until they are ready to be used. Allow your child to hold the ax on their own strength under constant supervision. If they struggle to hold the tool steady, find a lighter ax or hatchet.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

The Eastwing hatchet (at the bottom of the pic) is a few inches shorter than the Backcountry Max used and has a smaller handle grip.

Now, while you hold the tool, remove the mask to reveal the ax head. Explain the purpose of the cutting tool. No need to go into the history of axes. A few sentences will do for short attention spans.

Next, demonstrate proper technique on a wood anvil (chopping block) with your work space cleared of obstructions and tripping hazards. Find an anvil about waist-high to your child when he/she is kneeling. Always use a kneeling position when spitting wood with a short ax. If you miss the target in the standing position, the arc of the ax may find your shin. By kneeling, you increase the swing radius of the ax from the pivot point of your body.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I modified the wood by cutting it into 4 inch lengths to make splitting easier.

 

Short Cuts

For young beginners, saw a wood round into 3 to 4 inch sections. I let Max strike a 12″ piece with no noticeable results. I ran into my shop and chopped a few pieces with my miter saw. You want them to have success and see the results as they learn a new skill. Seeing wood fly is very motivating!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

Explain the importance of placing the round to be split at the back edge of the anvil. Above I demonstrate the danger of swinging too closely on the near edge of the anvil.

Now assist them in their first swing with the ax. Have them swing at a spot on the back half of an empty anvil. The ax will get stuck in the anvil if enough force is applied on the down swing. Push down and pull up on the ax handle in a controlled movement to loosen and remove the ax.

IMG_0500

When you’re comfortable that they’re able to strike a target on the anvil with assistance, allow him to try a 90º swing on his own – with very close supervision. Repeat several times until accuracy improves.

Now place a short round on the back half of the anvil. This is where the fun begins! On his first strike, the ax head got stuck in the round. I had him raise the ax with the round still attached and swing it back down on the anvil. It worked. The wood split!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

And he scores!!

He was so excited and amazed at what he’d just done. His next round split with his first swing… even more excitement! After carefully placing the ax on the ground, he ran to show his mom and DRG pieces of split wood.

As a reminder of this right-of-passage, his skillful work is proudly displayed on our fridge.

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to My Seven Year Old Grandson

Fridge worthy wood!

I’ll give you one guess as to what he wants now instead of a bow and arrow set. Ha! He’s got a lot of learning and maturing to do before he gets his first hatchet. My father gave me my first folding knife when I was seven. I learned some valuable lessons that year and still sport a puncture wound scar in my left forearm for doing what I was told not to do while unsupervised.

Please use your best judgement when teaching Doing the Stuff skills to children. Scrapes, cuts and bruises happen as they learn. But with proper training, serious injuries can be avoided – and traditional knowledge gets passed on.

For more articles related to kids and self-reliance, check out these Trusted Resources:

Here’s two questions for you: A) When did you receive your first cutting tool? B) What do you consider to be the top 5 skills children need to for self-reliance? I’d like to put together a summer series on self-reliance skills for kids. Your thoughts and input are really appreciated!

Keep Sharing 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 the 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

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

Pondering Poison Ivy Remedies and Itch Relief

by Todd Walker

Pondering Poison Ivy Natural Remedies and Itch Relief

pon·der – to think about or consider (something) carefully

Spend any amount of time in the outdoors or in your yard, it’s very likely you’ll come in contact with this evil plant. It has successfully reduced men, women, and children to miserable, scratching beasts.

Time in nature has a calming, rejuvenating effect on people… until they feel Nature’s revenge.

Over the years I’ve sought out home remedies to stop the painful, blistering rash caused by poison ivy. In my experience, some work, some don’t. In extreme cases, I’ve gotten steroid shots. Like the time I transferred the oil to my nether region while relieving myself in the woods – the week before getting married! An injection of steroids was my top priority. LOL!

It’s ironic that this poisonous vine is in the family of my favorite nut, the cashew. I eat a hand full daily with no reaction. What makes the ivy, oak, or sumac poisonous to humans is the dreaded oil… urushiol (you-ROO-shee-ol). All parts of the plant contain the oil which can stay active for up to five years. Once the oil makes contact with your skin – via touching the plant directly or indirect contact from clothing, shoes, or your pet – the clock starts ticking for a red, itchy, bubbly rash to occur within 12 to 72 hours.

Some people swear they are immune to this stuff. I’ve personally witness a buddy of mine hug a pine tree covered in poison ivy with no ill effects. The theory of some people being immune is suspect in my mind. WARNING: If you are one of those fortunate individuals who have rolled in this stuff and never experienced a reaction, you may be a candidate for hospitalization in the future. Stories exist of people who thought they were immune but found out the hard way they were not. The more times you come in contact with the oil, the more likely your are to come down with a rash.

Attempting to build immunity to poison ivy is not a new idea. Tales of Native Americans eating leaves in early spring to build resistance , true or not, is not something I’ve tried or recommend.

Stuff to Avoid

The best remedy for poison ivy is AVOIDANCE. That’s not always easy. The oil is potent and stable. Taking off shoes after hiking or petting your dog who stares at you wagging and waiting for affection can transfer urushiol. Doing exposed laundry or handling outdoor tools – same effect. Imagine unknowingly spreading the oil in a sleeping bag – and re-infecting yourself two more times by sleeping in the bag a year later!! You can read more stories of creatively contracting the rash here. Horrific photos of poison ivy victims can be viewed in the Skin Rash Hall of Fame. This stuff is nothing to play with!

Avoid anything that would make the oil go airborne like burning wood contaminated with poison ivy. Lawn mowers and weed trimmers have a way of spreading the wealth.

Leaves of Three

Leaves of three, let it be! Poison ivy and oak have three-leaf clusters. Poison ivy and oak are very similar and not worth making a distinction between the two. They’re both bad news!

Pondering Poison Ivy Natural Remedies and Itch Relief

Leaves of three!

Pondering Poison Ivy Natural Remedies and Itch Relief

Avoid ‘hairy’ vines climbing on trees

Pondering Poison Ivy Natural Remedies and Itch Relief

Poison ivy about to bloom

Poison sumac, on the other hand, is a shrub that has 7 to 13 leaves on a branch and is found mostly in wet, swampy areas.

I Need a Remedy!

If you know you’ve come in contact with urushiol, wash the area of skin with cold water and non-oil based soap. Hot water opens skin pores to allow more poison oil in. An industrial soap like Fels Naptha is good to keep on hand or in your bushcraft/camping kit. No soap? Water is better than nothing. Once the oil bonds to the skin, no amount of washing will help.

While I haven’t tried all the folk remedies listed below, they may work for you. If so, please let other readers know. Also, you may have a cure that we haven’t listed. By all means, please share!

Herbal Remedies

  • Jewelweed – Apply the juice to affected area. The natural soaps in this weed are thought to be responsible for healing blisters in 2 to 3 days. How to identify and use jewelweed for skin rashes can be found here.
  • Tea Tree Oil – Apply every two hours to stop itching and dry the blisters and rash.
  • Honey suckle leaves – Blend leaves 3:1 with water. Strain and apply to affected area liberally.
  • Plantain – The drawing properties of this weed helps with bites and poisonous plants. Apply a poultice twice daily.
  • Aloe vera plant is known for burn relief but can be used for poison ivy as well

Kitchen/Bath Remedies

  • Fels Naptha soap is excellent stuff for removing urushiol
  • Baking soda paste and bath
  • Oatmeal paste and bath
  • White vinegar
  • Salt rubbed into the rash and used in baths
  • Banana peel (inside) rubbed on rash – from Foxfire books
  • Tomato juice bath with salt
  • Immediately after contact, wash with cold water and dishwashing soap which cuts grease… and urushiol
  • Some like it HOT! Hot water treatment – run hot water (hot as you can stand without scalding) on affected area for itch relief
  • Hair blow dryer – same idea as hot water treatment above.
  • Vicks VapoRub – temporary relief from itching
  • Rubbing alcohol misted on areas
  • Bleach – I don’t recommend this but people use it on their skin
  • Ban roll on anti-perspirant – the plain, non-scented stuff

Medicine Cabinet Conventional Remedies

  • Witch Hazel
  • Over the counter poison ivy meds
  • Goldbond medicated cream
  • Epsom salt bath soak
  • Milk of Magnesia – add layers to affected area for itch and drying
  • Preparation H

Clean Your Stuff

Now that you know you have the rash, it’s vital that you clean clothing, bedding, tools, shoes, and pets that can further spread the toxic oil. You don’t want to share the love with others or re-infect after you’re cured. Urushiol the size of a pin head can infect 500 people. It’s potent stuff!

First, the oil is what causes the rash. It’s not spread by draining blisters to other body parts or people. It is systemic in highly allergic people and can spread to other body parts. The culprit is usually oil on or under finger nails that causes the rash to spread. Avoid touching sensitive areas if you knowingly touched the plant oil.

Wash clothes and bedding several times. The first few days after exposure, shower in cold water several times a day with a non-oil based soap. Oily soap helps spread the urushiol. You want to completely rid the oil from your body. This may sound like overkill but better safe than itchy.

Wipe down tools and gear with alcohol or using rubber gloves. Anything you may have touched before may hold the oil – steering wheel, light switch, door knobs, tool handle, etc. I carry a flask of Everclear in my bushcraft kit for medicinal reason and disinfection.

Trade Theory for Action

Not every remedy works for everybody. We’re individuals and our body chemistries are different. What works for me may not for you. Besides avoidance, what conventional or folk remedy have you found effective to rid the rash?

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 on 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 the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Medical | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

31 Ways to Help Kids Trade Screens for Streams

by Todd Walker

“Go outside and play” were words rarely spoken in our home growing up. “Come inside and eat” was the usual echo coming from the back door.

31-ways-to-help-kids-trade-screens-for-streams

Nothing indoors held my attention like the woods and streams of my youth. Curiosity drove me and my band of woodland brothers to explore the next creek bend, hilltop and raven. We were amazed by all creatures great and small. All the while imagining Daniel Boone leading our scout party with animal calls from cupped hands. We threw knives at our feet in games of wit and courage, climbed trees, built forts and tree houses. We camped under open skies on horseback, walked barefoot, sprawled in fields of clover, caught crawfish, frogs, and snakes. We’d swim underwater through jagged wooden crates in the muddy farm pond, fished with a homemade cane pole after digging for worms, discovered poison ivy, chiggers, nettles, and yellow jacket nests, shot bows and arrows, sling shots… and managed to retained our sight after many a BB gun battle (not recommended – but very instructive). We managed to return home smelling of campfires and creek mud.

All without adult supervision!

Our wild adventures took place before the video game era. Do you remember a time… before screens replaced streams?

Many blame the “easy” entertainment industry and techno babysitters for the apathy and aversion to the outdoors in kids these days. If electrical outlets and wifi were available on the river bank, Johnny would take more fishing trips with grandpa.

There’s no denying the usefulness of our modern information age. But… is this modern tool using us instead of us using it? In our age of glowing screens and systematic knowledge, our children (and many grownups) have lost touch with the hands-on, down and dirty, wonder of nature.

We’ve become domesticated animals. Bored. Pacing in our cages we and society built. The days of running the woods like savages to bring home nature’s treasures are being replaced with watching all manner of things gone wild on video and TV. Our faith in high-tech is a poor substitute for the real thing.

Trade Screens for Streams

Our feral genes scream for streams not screens! This primal urge has always lurked within.

There’s no condemnation or finger-pointing here. Instead, a simple call to action to get out there. Outside where the wild things live. Where curiosity knows no bounds. Where boredom is swallowed by wonder. Where life is not artificial and sanitized but raw and real. Where constant distractions and advertisements ends.

With summer break approaching, schooled kids will finally be freed from concrete captivity and mind-numbing restraints. No longer stuffed with useless facts and test taking strategies, kids can be feral and free. Wet, filthy, cold, hot, sweaty, curious, healthy and living their wildest dreams!

“My children don’t like being outdoors,” you may be thinking to yourself. That’s why I’m writing to you, the parent, grandparent, aunt, or friend. Your job is to foster feral activities that reconnect your child to the natural world. Notice I used foster, not force. When they yell, “I’m bored!”, your role as a feral facilitator begins. Please don’t couch your nature proposal as an educational experience. Simply get them outside and they will teach themselves as they follow their self-directed interest. Safely supervise without smothering their creativity and curiosity.

Backyard or mountain side, nature is just outside your door. Even apartment dwellers can find natural spaces for feral gene expression. If you live in a neighborhood with restrictive HOA rules, a tree house in the front yard may not work. But backyard fire pits could make a heck of a summertime mini wilderness camp site – tents included!

Your re-wilding efforts are only limited by your imagination. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to spark wild thoughts.

31 Ways to Help Get Your Child Outdoors

  1. Catch lighting bugs in early evening. Place them in a vented glass jar and release them at dawn. What makes them light up?
  2. Star gaze. Lay out a blanket and stare at the universe around us. Identify as many constellations as possible. Discuss navigation techniques using stars.
  3. Revive the art of story telling. It’s a dying art.
  4. Puddle stomping. After or during a rain (not lightning) storm, stomp through the mud puddles. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing.
  5. Build a fort, shanty, shelter, or tree house. Then camp in your fortress.
  6. Trail blaze. Hoof it through the woods or local park. Introduce navigation with a compass and topographical map.
  7. Climb a tree – while it’s still legal. Excellent physical training and it’s what kids do!
  8. Spot a critter. All mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles are fair game. First one to 10 wins.
  9. Night moves. With a full moon, take a family walk in the dark. Listen to the night sounds. Bring a flashlight for back up. Kids love flashlights!
  10. Backyard camping. Set up a backyard tent or tarp shelter over the jungle gym and spend some nights there.
  11. Graduate to car or pioneer camping as skills increase.
  12. Take a digital hike. No, not on the computer. Document plants, trees, animals, and tracks with a camera for later identification.

    31-ways-to-help-kids-trade-screens-for-streams

    Look for animals too

  13. Sketch and draw wild stuff. Even if you think there’s not an artistic bone in your body. Nature brings out creativity in us all.
  14. Discover little things. Roll a dead log over and count the life forms under it. Replace their house gently. Come back in a week to see what’s new.
  15. Feral Food Walk. Learn to safely identify, harvest, and prepare wild foods. Wild food resources can be found on our site – Here.
  16. Go fish. Use a rod andreel, cane pole, or limb hooks to harvest dinner. The worst day of fishing is better than the best day at school or work!

    31-ways-to-help-kids-trade-screens-for-streams

    She was caught on a fly rod

  17. Feral Food Walk. Learn to safely identify, harvest, and prepare wild foods. Wild food resources can be found on our site – Here.
  18. Keep a Wild Journal. Write down questions, observations, and feelings you experience as you re-wild. Go back to the same place in different seasons and record the differences.
  19. Fox walk. Maneuver through the woods as quietly as possible… barefoot. You’ll experience more of nature, see more animals, and hear bird songs that are missed when trudging through a forest.
  20. Get grounded. Bare feet on the earth is called grounding or earthing and offers many health benefits. Don’t miss out on the fun!
  21. Bushcraft. Bushcrafting is simply learning to craft stuff in the bush. While learning these skills, your child’s self-reliance quotient increases. Recommended resources: Wilderness Outfitters, Bushcraft on Fire, One Foot Into The Wild
  22. Find a personal wild space. It could be in your backyard, park, or vacant lot in the neighborhood. This is the safe place where you recharge. It should afford some amount of privacy and freedom to discover your wild nature.
  23. Nurture wild free play. The less adult supervision the better. Of course, supervision depends upon age, maturity level, skills, and setting. Children learn through play. Recommended resource: Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
  24. Archery. Introduce your child to the world of archery. Take advantage of an increased interest in archery created by the Hunger Games books and movies. 31-ways-to-help-kids-trade-screens-for-streams
  25. Summer camp. I’ve run many youth camps over the years. Find one with a focus on wilderness skills and nature.
  26. Field guides. Acquire field guides for wild and medicinal plants, trees, native animal species, animal tracks, birds, reptiles, etc., etc. Humans tend to value what we can name.
  27. School work. The school class I learned the most from was 6th grade English. Not because my Aunt Cindy taught it, but because she let us take time to sit under trees to write and draw as a class. We published a book of poetry and drawing which my mom kept after all these years. Great creative memories of connecting with nature came from her English class.
  28. Wild cards. Make your own field guide cards. Start with easily identifiable plants. Sketch/draw a diagram and write a description on the back of the index card.
  29. Get naked. Not literally, kids. Leave all electronic devices behind and pack minimal gear. This strategy is best for teens who have developed basic wilderness skills.
  30. Skip Stones. Find smooth, flat stones and throw them sidearm across a pond. Count the number of skips on the water’s surface.
  31. Race ‘Ships’. Choose a small stick and set it adrift on a creek or steam in a race to the finish line. Use your bushcraft skills to build a mini log raft and test it in the water.

Up for the challenge of cutting the electronic umbilical cord? Modeling and facilitating is your job. There’s no app for that. However, kids will follow your enthusiasm and their natural, primal curiosity of our ever-changing natural world if given the chance. Get out there. They will follow and get lost in the right direction!

Here’s a family Doing the Stuff in the wild with their kids…

We’d really like to know any methods you’ve found useful in the re-wilding process. Thanks for sharing the stuff that works for you!

Keep Doing the Wild Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over on 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 the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Resilience, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

A Swiss Army Bread Bag as a Common Man’s Haversack

by Todd Walker

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

First, let’s get some history and terminology out of the way.

WTH is a Swiss Army Bread Bag!?!?

Don’t feel bad, I had no clue until recently. I found this bag hiding in an antique store and brought it home for $8.56! I’m always thinking like a possum when it comes to vintage gear and old tools at common man prices.

Once home, DRG and I launched an immediate search on the internets for pictures identifying my new ‘old’ treasure. We looked up the name stamped on the substantial leather strap. She finally found a bag matching the description on eBay.

I felt like I’d just won the lottery. I paid half to 2 times less than what we found online.

Swiss soldiers were issued this style bag for bread rations from the 1940’s to the ’80’s. Measuring 10″ long x 10″ wide x 4″ deep, it’s made of heavy-duty canvas, saddle leather, metal rivets and studs, and sports a soft vinyl cover for rain protection. The stress points are double stitched to hold up to abuse. The sattler’s (German for exclusive leather craftsman) maker’s mark is stamped on the leather strap securing the canvas to the outer shell. My bag was made in 1969.

Why add a haversack to your gotta-have-gear list?

The quick answer: It’s reeks of manliness and has a killer blue-collar attitude! Unlike high dollar preppy pouches showcasing expensive logos hanging from shoulders at chic coffee houses, you want to be seen with a manly haversack.

Besides encouraging manliness, a haversack gives you options when roaming field and stream, backpacking, camping, or scouting game trails. By the way ladies, DRG now has haversack envy. Not sure if Coach makes a bushcraft haversack – but they should – in earth tones!

A haversack is a small bag with a single shoulder strap designed to carry extra provisions. Wikipedia reports that the term ‘Haversack’ originated from its use in carrying ‘Havercake’ or Hafer, the German word for Oats. A rough bread made of oats and water was a staple of the textile district working poor (common man/woman) in England. Havercake was carried in haversacks for meal time. In the past, soldiers used haversacks to carry 3 to 4 days of rations and extra supplies.

For self-reliance purposes, a haversack allows you to detach from your larger pack or base camp and still carry essential items for self-reliance. It also serves as an accessible container for resource gathering while scouting territory or taking day hikes.

I’d like to own a traditional 18th century long hunter haversack but my budget won’t allow for an expensive, custom-made bag. Think I’ll just stick with my common man bread bag for now.

Characteristics of a Good Common Man’s Haversack

Whatever you re-purpose for your common man’s haversack, it should have the following traits…

Sturdy Construction

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Now that’s manly!!

Military surplus items are excellent common man options. They can be had inexpensively and are made to last. Even heavily used items have life left in them. Or you can make your own from waxed canvas or other sturdy material.

Functional

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Leather loop on the vinyl shell allows me to hang it with a toggle or tree branch

My bag also has two more leather loops with studs I use to carry my camp ax. These loops were added by the sattler to enable soldiers to attach the bread bag to belts for hip carry.

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Leather belt loops adapted to carry my 16″ camp ax

Notice the two vinyl straps on the shell pictured above the ax. My Pathfinder Bottle Cook Set attaches there with a molly strap. This frees internal space by having my container on the outside of the bag.

Compartments

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Compartments aren’t necessary but come in handy

The canvas bag has two compartments. I use the larger area for essential gear (5 C’s of Survival), and the smaller section for collecting resources like fire tinder or pine sap. I also added a foldable cotton sack for extra resource gathering.

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Hardened pine sap collected in a tin can to make pitch glue sticks

Practical Comfort

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Dirt time with my bread bag. And no, I’m not throwing a bushcraft gang sign with my pinky finger!

Just like selecting a pistol or knife for concealed carry, if it’s not practical and comfortable, you’ll leave it at home. I discovered a modification I need to make on the bag. The thin shoulder strap digs into my shoulder. I know, right!? Man-up! But why not make it as comfortable as possible.

I’m thinking of a custom, padded paracord strap like I made for my rifle sling. Any suggestions on mods are welcome. Maybe leather.

Capacity

http://survivalsherpa.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/decontructing-my-adjustable-paracord-rifle-sling-just-for-you/

Stuff in and on the bread bag

The bread bag, along with my belt carry items, covers me in the essential equipment list. Here’s all the stuff scattered.

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Either on my belt, or in the bag, I’m covered. Neck knife not pictured. Guess where it is?

If a bag is too large, I tend to over pack. I loose gear weight with my haversack by packing only these items: cutting tools, combustion, cover, container, and cordage. Oh, insect repellent is pictured. I found 3 ticks crawling on my skin even with bug juice applied.

Minimalism

Getting dirt time with a haversack promotes the idea of carrying only essential tools to train for self-reliance. Minimalism forces you to practice the skills needed to effect survivability.

If you’re interested in a Swiss bread bag, search a few online sites. The cheapest I found was 15 bucks. If you’re as fortunate as I was, you may find one at a local antique store or yard sale.

Do you have a common man haversack? Mind sharing with us?

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 on 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 the 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 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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