Lost Skills

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

23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Those who are paying attention are actively retooling to escape the noose of modern consumerism and become self-reliant producers.

23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

You can find these independent thinkers on different fronts of the preparedness movement:

  • Back-to-basics
  • Homesteading
  • Preppers
  • Off-grid living
  • Survivalists
  • Simple living
  • Bushcrafting
  • Self-reliance
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • DiY’ers
  • Farmsteading

Whether you’re in this movement as a hobby or a passionate pursuit, the common thread tying us together is self-reliance and breaking our dependence on our fragile system. One of the reasons we started the Doing the Stuff Network was to encourage people to learn and practice new skills. The journey we’re on will require us to retool for an uncertain future.

Hurt me with the truth but never comfort me with a lie. Here’s the truth – our fragile system of consumerism is not sustainable. Of course, you can take comfort in the lie that we can print and spend our way out of the hole we’re in – or – you can embrace the painful truth and get busy Doing the Stuff to build self-reliance.

Retool or Be a Tool

A person is a tool (blunt object) when he/she is being used without even realizing it.

You ever been used as a tool? Yes? Me too. It’s a nasty, degrading feeling when you realize a ‘friend’, coworker, or family member has you wrapped tightly in their grip. Those situations are often easily recognized.

But here’s the thing…

The vast majority of people rarely wake up to the fact that they’re a tool in the system’s matrix. That’s the ‘beauty’ of our system. We get used to being used for the good of the collective. We accept dependence and conform.

For those of you wishing to escape the system’s unsustainable human farm paradigm, if only in small ways, it’s time to retool!

Retool is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

1. to make changes to (something) in order to improve it

2. to reequip with tools

As #1 states, you have to make changes to something to see improvement. That “something” is you. There’s no better way to improve you than to learn new skills and enhance existing ones. New skills require new tools.

Sherpa Tip: Strive for progress, not perfection in your retooling. Buy/acquire the best tools you can afford. Cheap shiny objects from China are tempting but you’ll end up replacing them several times costing you more in the long run. Cheap tools aren’t good and good tools aren’t cheap. You can find quality, inexpensive tools at yard/estate sales and used online sites.

Get ‘em, you’ll need them someday when the power fails to help rebuild. Until then, make smart use of modern power tools while building your non-powered toolbox. Like any new undertaking, there’s always a learning curve, especially with forgotten pioneer tools.

Here’s my top 23+ human-powered tools that your grandparents or great grandparents used to forge a self-reliant lifestyle. Don’t be shy about jumping in and adding to the list in the comments.

Tools for Self-Reliance

  1. Scythe – This tool was used to cut grass at a camp I ran in Siberia in 1993. An American friend with good intentions wanted to help speed up the landscaping chores and bought a combustion engine lawn mower. It threw a rod in 15 minutes. The scythe never lost power.
  2. Hoe and shovel- There will be long rows to hoe and holes to dig.
  3. Posthole diggers – Job specific tool that is indispensable for setting fence posts and digging round, vertical holes.

    23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

    Scary looking fencing pliers

  4. Fencing pliers – A nasty looking tool no homestead should be without.
  5. Come-Along and block and tackle – Use mechanical advantage to lift carcasses for cleaning or persuade leaning trees to fall away from your cabin. 23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance
  6. Wheeled carts – Based on a simple machine: lever. Give me a long enough lever and I can move the world.
  7. 4 pronged garden fork – Turns compost and sod.
  8. Containers – The most overlooked of all tools is the humble container. Collect metal, cast iron, plastic, glass, large barrels, stainless steel (milk pails), rubber, and clay containers. Animals have to be fed, water hauled, crops canned, food cooked, water stored, etc., etc.
  9. Carpentry – Hand saws (rip and cross cut), screw drivers, chisels, draw knives, shaving horse, brace and bits, spoke shave, froe, mallet, miter box, framing square, levels (4′, 2′, torpedo), hammer, pencils, and plenty of hardware.
  10. Handyman tools – Channel Lock pliers, socket set, adjustable wrenches, hand saws (cross and rip), hacks saw and blades, clamps, claw hammers (sledge, ball peen, claw), pry bars, pipe wrenches, measuring devices, heavy-duty vise, and files (all shapes and sizes).
  11. Cutting tools – Knives (fixed blade, folding, and everything in between paring to butcher), axes, hatchets, bush hook,two man saw,adz, broad ax, sharpening stones, and a butcher’s steel. I prefer high carbon steel over stainless steel for achieving razor-sharp edges. Plus, high carbon steel knives all you to create sparks with flint, chert, or other hard rock. Redundancy!

    DiY Sawbuck: Work Smarter in the Woodpile

    Buck sawing on the Sawbuck

  12. Blacksmithing – Forge, billow, anvil, hammers, tongs, post vice, files, and quench bucket. After acquiring these, you can make your own tools and needed items. Stock up on salvaged steel.
  13. Cordage – Natural and synthetic rope, twine, tarred bank line, and paracord of all sizes. Making your own takes time, resources, and skill. Stock up now. Don’t forget sewing thread as cordage.
  14. Food prep – Wood cook stove, cast iron cookware, utensils, pressure canner (relatively new tool), crocks, and churn.
  15. Personal care – Straight razor, strop, and sharpening stones.
  16. Weaponry –  Modern to primitive. Modern: At a minimum, a common caliber (for your area) shotgun (12 or 20 gauge), side arm (.45, .357, .38, 9mm, .22), high-powered center fire (30-06, .308,  30-30, .223) and rim fire (.22 cal) rifle. When you run out of cartridges… Traditional muzzleloaders: Black powder rifle, shotgun, and pistols. Primitive: bow and arrows, atlatl, slings.
  17. Music – Forgotten but important culturally and entertainment wise.
  18. Education – Books – lots of hard bound books from all genres. Writing utensils and reams of paper. Reading glasses.
  19. Trapping – Foothold,  bodygrip (Conibear), snares, and live traps. Check local laws and regulations.
  20. Beekeeping – Because we all love honey, right!? Bee hives, hive tool, smoker, hat and veil, gloves, and protective clothing.
  21. Leather work – Down and Dirty Basics: Cutting tool, punch, awl (ice pick works), needle, glue and clamps.
  22. Medical – Surgical kit that covers minor and major needs. Of course, if you don’t have the skill to use these tools, someone in your tribe may. Collect ‘em!

    23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

    Surgical tools a good friend gave us but I have no experience using – yet

  23. Animal husbandry – This list of tools can get long really quickly. Take care of your animals and your animals will take care of you. So here goes… Species specific halters, leads, and restraints; wound care, hoof care, syringes, oral dose syringe, etc., etc.

Some of these tools and the skills to use them were common in earlier generations. After a reset, you’ll be proud you retooled with a collection of human-powered pioneer tools. Think muscle over motor to rebuild a strong, self-reliant future for your family.

Even if you never learn how to use all these tools, they’d make great barter items for stuff you do need at your local SHTF swap meet.

What would you add to the retool list?

Retool and Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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: Gear, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

by Todd Walker

Imagine the first human who made fire from scratch.

The Art of Rubbing  Sticks Together

We have no way of knowing the gender of this hero, but I’m sure her clan celebrated her curious discovery well into the night! We’ll call her Pyrojen.

Scouting for berries by the stream that day, she threw a fist-sized rock at a slithering, scaly animal. Snake was a delicacy during berry season. Her projectile missed its mark. Hunger has a way of improving our hunter-gatherer craft. She threw more stones at random targets in the creek bed.

Still missing her target, Pyrojen’s frustration turned to anger, then to rage. She pitched a flailing fit while breaking rock on rock. And it happened. Sparks flew from two random rocks which lit her curiosity.

Word spread to nearby tribes huddled and shivering in dark, damp primitive shelters. Like a moth drawn to a flame, they came. Wondering as they wandered towards the glow if they too might learn to capture this primordial, glowing ember. And the rest is history.

This is where the term pyromaniac originated. ;)

Our fascination with fire is nothing new. For millenniums, men and women have stared at flames. Fire was man’s first TV. Besides being mesmerizing, fire from scratch opened a whole new world and we’ve been creatively using it’s power to make other useful stuff like glass, pottery, and weaponry.

We had three generations in our house last week. I offered to show our oldest grandson (almost 7) how to start a friction fire. He was not interested… yet. His bow and arrow held his attention. But our son jumped at the chance.

Here’s how he started his first friction fire using the bow drill method. If you’ve ever wanted to created fire by friction, the bow drill is the most efficient way. There are subtle nuances involved which can only be mastered by Doing the Stuff!

Ready to make ancestral fire?

Gather the Stuff

Though you can make a bow drill set from natural material in the bush, this is my practice set I use at home. It’s better to practice in a controlled environment to perfect your skills than waiting until you absolutely need them.

I’m planning a tutorial on making a bow drill in the woods. Stay tuned!

Here’s the stuff what you’ll need for the bow drill method…

  • Fire hearth (board)
  • Bow and bow-string
  • Spindle (drill)
  • Handhold socket
Friction fire kit

Friction fire kit

Fire Hearth

friction fire

Select wood that is free of moisture and resins. I had a scrap piece of cedar 1×4 board left over in my shop. I ripped it down to 2 1/2 inches wide by about a foot long. The board measures about 3/4 of an inch thick. Anywhere between 3/4″ to 1/2″ is a good thickness for your hearth.

Spindle

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

About 8 inches long

We used a thumb-sized dowel rod made of poplar. The length of your spindle should be about 8 inches. Without a measuring device, make the spindle about the length from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

The business end

There are two ends of the spindle. On the business end (where you’ll create the primordial ember), chamfer a slight bevel on the entire edge to fit into the pivot you’ll create in the fire board with your knife. This pivot will be ‘burned in’ by friction to create a socket for your spindle.

Whittle the opposite end to a point. The pointed end decreases the friction on the handhold socket.

Handhold Socket

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Since my practice set gets lots of use, I made a metal socket and secured it with epoxy.

I created my handhold from a piece of cedar leg I shaved down when I made DRG’s cedar bench. I split a smooth, rounded 4 inch piece and made a pivot hole that would accept a “knock out” from a metal receptacle box.

You could use a coin of some kind for the socket. Or you could burn a socket in the handhold with your spindle. A round stone with a dimple would also work.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Ball pen hammer, 9/16 ” socket, and a vise made the metal divot

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Cordage

We used the quintessential survival cord – 550 paracord – for our bow-string. You could use tarred bank line, natural cordage, braided dental floss, animal sinew, or any strong line.

Bow

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Bow and bow-string

The length of your bow should measure from the tip of you outstretched finger tips to your arm pit. Use a limb with a slight bend. My bow (oak) has a large bend but it’s what I had available. I’ve seen bows work that were perfectly straight.

If you have a boring tool (awl on your Swiss Army Knife) or a drill and bit, drill a hole about an inch from both ends of the bow. Away from civilization, just cut a 1/4″ notch on the back of the bow where you would have drilled holes. Wrap the cord around the notch to hold the bow-string in place.

Burning In Your Socket

Place your spindle on the fire board so that the edge of the spindle is about 1/4 inch from the edge. Tilt the spindle and make a mark where the center of the spindle would touch the board. Now make a pivot hole with your knife that will accept the drill. Spin the board with the knife point in the pivot until you’ve created a shallow hole the diameter of your spindle.

Twist the spindle into the bow string and slowly burn a hole in the board. This creates a socket  in the fire board that will mate with the drill.

Notch the Socket

Once you’ve burned in a socket hole, cut a notch on the edge of the board that runs at a 45° angle from the center of the hole. The notch should cut into the burned hole about 1/8th of an inch. The notch is used for air flow and collecting charred cellulose dust from process of friction.

Rubbing Sticks Together

I’m right-handed and built my bow drill to allow my students to see the process while facing me. That is why the notched holes are facing away from the fire-maker. If you’re left-handed, just flip this set around and the holes face you as you place your right foot on the board.

Before starting your bow drill, place a dry leaf, piece of paper, or bark under the edge the fire board to collect the ember. This will be used to transfer the primal ember to your tinder bundle. (It’s a good practice to lay a dry barrier under the complete set to prevent moisture from entering your fire hearth).

With your bow sting tight, twist the spindle into the cord with the business end down. Place the drill in the socket on your fire board, place handhold on top of spindle, and brace your off-hand against your shin for stability and pressure. This technique also helps you keep your drill vertical.

Now begin to spin the drill with long, smooth strokes while applying pressure on the handhold. The correct amount of pressure takes practice. Use the entire length of the bow string to rotate the spindle.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Our son creating smoke

Not too much pressure in the beginning. You’ll begin to see charred dust fill the notch in your fire board. Once the notch is almost full, you’ll pick up your pace with the bow. You’ll need to create a temperature around 800°F to create an ember from the char dust.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

A successful ember

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Messaging (blowing) the ember inside the bird’s nest (tinder bundle)

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

His first primitive fire!!

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Making char material to ensure future fires when using flint and steel or a ferro rod

This method of making fire is a spiritual experience that connects you to our ancient ancestors. It’s also a great way to connect with your family now!

Keep Doing the Stuff with fire!

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG 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 third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Lost Skills, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

50 Ways to Build Resilient Wealth Before and After a Collapse

by Todd Walker

“Lordy, we’s got to have a doctor! I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin babies!”

That’s when Scarlett says, “You told me you knew everything!”

“I don’t know why I lied!”

Pinned ImageDoes this famous scene from “Gone With The Wind” sum up how you feel sometimes? You feel you don’t know nothing about escaping the caged wheel inside your cubicle.

That may be true, but you do know enough to turn your knowledge and skills into extra income.

The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have ~ Charles Schwab

Conventional prepper wisdom tells us to get our beans, bullets, and Band Aids in order. This strategy, which I embrace, begs the question(s): What then? What do you do after you have squirreled away this consumable stuff? Is it enough? How long before your stuff runs out? How long before the rubber seals on your buckets deteriorate?

These questions nag you like a loose tooth.

Once you come to the un-Pollyannic conclusion that your survival cache will run out,  you have to ask the main question, “Is survival enough?” Maybe it is – for the short-term.

Survival skills and stuff are necessary after any disaster. Merely surviving is not what I signed up for in my preparedness contract. You probably didn’t either. You’d like to have your post-SHTF coffee and drink it too – with heavy whipping cream! Could I do without? Sure, for short periods of time.

This requires an outside-the-bunker mindset (unless you enjoy bunker living). If you plan is to hunker down in a remote, hidden hole somewhere, you’ll have to eventually come up for air where the zombies and biker gangs rome. Stuff runs out.

Adopting a non-survivalist mentality may fit the bunker-less among us – present company included. What’s that mean? This is the Survival Sherpa blog, right? Correct. But there’s more to us than mere survival. We promote a lifestyle that would be worth living both now and after economic collapse.

I’ve read that during the Great Depression, the deficit was 40% of our total US GDP. Today it’s 105%. I’m on the tail end of the baby boomer generation. I don’t have plans to retire. I’m not dreaming of eating crumbs from the Social Security Ponzi scheme.

What’s our strategy? Build resilience physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. This is our long-term strategy. It takes time. But it’s worth the effort and investment.

When our fiat dollars become useful only in the outhouse and fireplace, you’ll be ahead of the herd. The key to producing resilient wealth now and after a collapse is to find a way to add value and improve the quality of life for others.

Here’s a few ideas that will help you build resilient skills that produce wealth before and possible after the illusion explodes.

[I've designated each with 'Pre', 'Post', or 'Both'. The transfer of some 'Pre' items to a post-collapse world will be dependent on things like technology and available resources like electricity or the internet. Make use of these modern conveniences while we've got them. Many on my list will transfer to 'Post' seamlessly. I hope 'Both' is self-explanatory.]

1. Pre: Write an e-book and self-publish.

2. Pre: Publish instructional videos and tutorials.

3. Both: Nanny for kids and elderly

4. Both: Food buyers club. The relationships you build with food producers would carry over into a post collapse environment.

5. Pre: Freelance writing

6. Both: Blacksmithing and metal work

7. Both: Seamstress

8. Both: Carpentry

9. Both: Plumbing/Electrical – especially for installing alternative energy systems.

10. Both: Cooking. People have to eat. We enjoy good food. Market your recipes. Tess Pennington over at Ready Nutrition has done just that with her new book, “The Prepper’s Cookbook.”

11. Both: Medical skills. After the SHTF, the free market will determine who’s capable in the field of medicine – not a framed piece of paper on an office wall.

12. Both: Wild food foraging. Learn more on this here.

13. Both: Education/tutoring service

14. Both: Musician/Entertainer

15. Both: Build a barter network

16. Both: Animal husbandry

17. Both: Gardening/permaculture

18. Both: Gunsmith

19: Both: Mechanic for diesel and gas engines

20. Both: Biodiesel production

21. Both: Well boring. Having the equipment to bore water wells makes you a valuable asset.

22. Both: Portable sawmill. People will always want and need lumber. In a post collapse world, energy to run a mill might be a challenge. Explore steam power and biodiesel as alternative fuel.

23. Both: Draft animal trainer. This skill might be more valuable in a post world.

24. Both: Timber frame construction. In the past, raising a barn or home with primitive tools within a community was common place. Having the skills and tools to do so would ensure place you at the top of the producer list in your group.

25: Both: Alternative energy expert – solar, hydro, wood gasification, etc.

26: Both: Make charcoal. It’s mainly a hobby in our pre world. I can see it being value adder after a collapse.

27: Both: Heavy equipment operator. Barter with the guy making biodiesel to keep the machines running.

28. Both: Lumberjack. Post world lumberjack tools will look much different from today. Axes, crosscut saws, draft animals and sleds, files, wedges, and sledgehammers come to mind.

29. Both: Preserving food – smoking, pickling, canning, etc. Practicing more primitive techniques now would be useful in a post world.

30. Both: Building chicken coops/tractors for backyard poultry.

31. Both: Unconventional housing – cob, bail, rammed earth, earth homes, etc.

32. Both: Mobil butcher and meat processor. Instead of hauling livestock to a distant location, this local option might be welcomed by farmers. This would bridge a gap from farm to dinner plate.

33. Both: Marketing and distribution of products. This service bridges the gap between the producers and the consumers. Start small and keep it local. Look for bigger opportunities to grow your business. It’s a win-win-win for the producer, consumer, and you.

34. Both: Distilling spirits. If you don’t think alcohol will be in demand after TSHTF, think again. Its role won’t be just consumption either. Think medicinal and sanitation.

35. Both: Water purification. Essential to life.

36. Both: Appliance repair man/woman. Fixing stuff that breaks is a skill worth knowing.

37. Both: Dumpster diving. A friend of mine rescues ‘trash’ that he finds in dumps. His most recent find was a 18 volt Dewalt drill. He tinkered with it and now uses it in his construction business. Trash into treasure.

38. Both: Soap and candle maker. Handmade soaps and candles are very popular now. Could you become one of these local artisans?

39. Both: Shoe repair/leather work. My mama has the shoe lass that her daddy used to make and repair shoes for her and her nine siblings during the Great Depression.

40. Both: Herbalist. Healing with herbs and homeopathic methods.

41. Both: Luxury items. Even in a post collapse world, we will want our creature comforts to make life seem more normal. Small things like chocolate or a steaming cup of coffee would brighten things up.

42. Pre: Sell stuff on eBay, Craigslist, and other online sites.

43. Pre: Blogging. The vast majority of blogs don’t make big money. Successful sites make lots of money. The conventional approach is to produce great content which draws high traffic. You would then sell advertising on your site. I made a decision to not use advertising on this blog. I’m getting lots of requests from vendors to advertise here. But I want to stick with my no advertising policy.

44. Pre: Photography. Sell your stock photos online.

45. Both: Own land. They don’t make anymore of this stuff. Productive farmland has doubled in price since last year. Even with small acreage, people are able to produce supplemental income. Our local farmers market has several vendors that use limited space to grow and sell organic vegetables.

46. Both: Lease your skills. Offer your knowledge through classes. Build authority in your field and teach others the skills you’ve honed for a fee.

47. Both: Sell seeds. We take for granted that we can run to the garden center and buy seeds for our garden. Heirloom, open-pollenated varieties are hard to come by locally. You could start a seed swap if your area doesn’t have a community of seed savers. Here’s a rare seed company you might be interested in checking out.

48. Consulting. This list alone could go on for pages. For our intent here, we’ll stick to the realm of sustainability, survival, prepping, and resilience: Water, energy, security, food, etc. There are few limits to the list. Be creative. Build authority. Add value.

49. Pre. Retreat and relocation service. Survival Blog has several examples of everyday folks who have developed niche markets to serve Mr. Rawles’ vision of moving to sparsely populated areas. He has promoted the American Redoubt on his site for people wanting to and are able to relocate. You can read Pastor Chuck Baldwin’s reasons for moving to Montana here. A son of Mr. Rawles operates SurvivalRealty.com aimed at helping find survival retreats. Todd Savage started Survival Retreat Consulting to help serve this niche market.

50. Both: Midwifery. How valuable would it be if Prissy possessed these skills? I don’t know nothing about birthing babies. Do you?

This is a simple list to get you thinking. More came to my mind when compiling this list. But I figured 50 was a good, round number to get us started. What would you add? Add yours in the comment section.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

 

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Categories: Lost Skills, Preparedness, Resilience | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

Charcuterie: Off The Grid Food Storage For Meats

Ever eat cured raw pork?On my list skills to learn is the lost art of off grid meat preservation. I can meats, store meat in the freezer, and have some canned seafood in our primal pantry. What happens when the fragile electrical grid goes down? Leaning to cure meat for long-term storage would be a great skill for bartering, building resilient preps, and, well, it’s just plain cool to see meat hanging from the ceiling in your basement or root cellar.

Caroline Cooper has an interesting article on her blog (eatkamloops) about a technique I’ve never heard of or was able to pronounce. Click here for the proper pronunciation. It’s fun to say and sounds like it’d be fun to make and eat.

Any of y’all ever tried making charcuterie? I’d like to hear from you.

Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Source: eatkamloops

cured pork 1 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Charcuterie adds a wonderful element to winter pantry food. A small slice of cured meat goes a long way with its rich flavor. With traditional charcuterie there is a natural order to when the cured meats are ready and when the cured meats should be eaten.

“These dry-cured meats and sausages, almost always sliced thin, are dense and chewy, with a strong, dry-cured flavor and smooth, satiny fat. When we eat them, we’re most often eating pork that’s never gone above room temperature, let along come close to the 150F recommended by government. And yet, properly prepared, these are perfectly safe to eat. There really is nothing similar to eating cured raw meat — it has a flavor and an effect like no other food.”

Charcuterie: The Craft and Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman

cured pork ribs 4 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Raw cured ribs are the first cured product to come out of the cellar. Sliced thinly, the sweet meat of the ribs is a wonderful contrast to the salty cure. One rib will satisfy.

I just wanted to share a few pictures of the cured pork my husband Shaen made with the expert mentoring from Joe Trotta. Charcuterie is not an easy craft to learn from books. Charcuterie is a craft best passed down from the older generation to the younger generation. If you are interested in learning the craft, I have no books for you, or courses you can take. You will just have to look around and find someone knowledgeable in the craft and someone willing to mentor you in the techniques. If you can find someone to show you how to cure raw meats, the process becomes simple, and the stress of wondering if you are doing it right, is greatly reduced.

Two warnings. Hurry up and learn. Many of the people who know these techniques are older. Many have children that do not value the wisdom that came from the old country and have never learned the craft. These old techniques are dying with the people, and unless we learn their knowledge, the knowledge will pass out of this world. If you are a professional cook or chef, you will have to empty your cup of knowledge, if you want to learn traditional charcuterie. Everything you think you know about FOODSAFE is wrong regarding these foods. If you come to traditional cured foods with your own ideas of how to do it right, you will likely miss the mark, and mess up the process. Saying “Oh my God, that isn’t safe,” is meaningless and disrespectful to someone who has eaten these foods their whole life.

cured pork bacon 5 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

This is raw cured bacon with sea salt and paprika. The sticks help keep the bacon flat and stop it from curling. This is the second cured product out of the cellar. Very few people have enjoyed the flavor of raw bacon. It can be cooked but you will miss the satiny smoothness of the fat.

“Dry-curing results in a beautiful type of sausage, the most individualistic, idiosyncratic, and temperamental sausage there is, precisely because of its reliance on atmospheric conditions, which change all year round, and the presence of varying microflora in the air.”

cured pork 2 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Soppressata is the third cured product out of the cellar. Soppressata is made from raw pork, sea salt and paprika which is stuffed into the pig’s intestine. There is no curing salts or other ingredients. Soppressata’s flat appearance is from pressing to help remove air from the salami.

But when your sausage has dried just right, and you slice it thin, and the interior is a glistening deep crimson red with bright pearly chunks of fat, it is incredibly exciting. This is real mastery over the food we prepare. To make a home-cured pork sausage, with just salt and pepper for seasoning, is a deeply gratifying experience, like making a great wine.”

cured pork 3 Pantry Foods: Charcuterie

Soppressata is hung by it’s string on clothes hangers cut into hooks. Soppressata with its white coat is an eerie sight in the cellar. The white coating is safe to eat though traditional Italian sausage makers like Joe wipe the soppressata with vinegar and water to remove the coating.

Mastering the technique of transforming raw meat and fat, whether a sausage or a whole muscle, into something delicious without using heat, enhances your ability to work with all food. This is true craftsmanship, craftsmanship aiming for art, a craft reliant on the cook’s skill and knowledge and, perhaps, a little bit of divine intervention.”

Divine intervention indeed. Or maybe just allowing for the peaceful co-existence of humans with their helpful bacterial friends. When you cure long-term your household will become colonized with helpful microbiota. If you would like to learn more about traditional Italian curing please see: Pantry Foods: Fast Cured Green Olives.

Categories: Barter, Food Storage, Lost Skills | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

The Virtue of Industry

Originally published at The Organic Prepper and reprinted here with the author’s permission. 

by Daisy Luther

Times are stressful.  In many homes, there are unopened bills in the basket by the door.  Bank accounts are in overdraft.  Every week the charges at the grocery store are a little bit higher than the week before, and for less food.  Kids want new clothes and that latest video game, the car needs to be fixed and people’s jobs are draining the very life from them.

It is vital to take time out of the day to relax.  It rejuvenates you, improves your health, and calms your mind so that you can think more clearly.

When you have a million and one things to do, though, sometimes it’s difficult to force yourself to stop.  This is because stress releases two hormones into your body: adrenaline and cortisol. Excesses of these hormones can cause blood pressure spikes, food cravings that lead to weight gain, and heart disease, to name just a few of the pitfalls.

Many folks decide they need a hobby, and that hobby ends up either costing them money with nothing to show for it, or it kills off a few brain cells as the person sits there, passively entertained in an altered state in front of the television or a video game.

Studies have shown that watching television induces low alpha waves in the human brain. Alpha waves are brainwaves between 8 to 12 HZ. and are commonly associated with … brain states associated with suggestibility…Too much time spent in the low Alpha wave state caused by TV can cause unfocused daydreaming and inability to concentrate….Advertisers have known about this for a long time and they know how to take advantage of this passive, suggestible, brain state of the TV viewer. There is no need for an advertiser to use subliminal messages. The brain is already in a receptive state, ready to absorb suggestions, within just a few seconds of the television being turned on. All advertisers have to do is flash a brand across the screen, and then attempt to make the viewer associate the product with something positive. (source)

Passivity actually opens up the door to your brain and allows you to be programmed – mass media uses this as a tool, by promoting ideas (like gun control, acceptance of the “big brother” philosophy, or the politically correct flavor of the month).  It inhibits your critical thinking skills and leaves your brain craving even more time in this low Alpha state.  This is the reason that some people sit blankly in front of the TV for hours every night, until they fall asleep on the couch and then get up to do it all again.

File:BenFranklinDuplessis.jpgBecause of this, it’s important to choose your spare time activities in a manner that enhances your brain function, instead of reducing it.  In a world where entertainment means playing on your Iphone or sharing photos on Facebook, opting for industry for your downtime can be an unusual choice.  But, stepping outside the path of the herd and choosing productive hobbies is a great way to relax.  What’s more, if your brain is engaged in an activity while you view a television program or movie, then you are not as susceptible to messages, either subliminal or blatant.  This means that you don’t actually have to keep the TV turned off at night – you just need to refrain from zoning out in front of it.

In 1726, 20 year old Benjamin Franklin sought to cultivate his character.  He listed off the thirteen virtues that he  believed were important to living a good life, one of which was industry.  Franklin wrote of this characteristic, ” Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”  He believed that the pursuit of productivity would build character and help the practitioner to lead a more successful and moral life.  In his autobiography Franklin wrote, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”

We can absolutely apply Franklin’s philosophy of industriousness and productivity to our lives today.  When choosing leisure activities, consider opting for a productive hobby.

It should either…

  • Teach something
  • Create something
  • Repair something
  • Improve something

That leaves the door wide open to a broad range of choices!  If you tend to be an overachiever, then you can relax without the guilt of worrying about all the things that you “should” be doing instead of chilling out.

 

Think back to the days before television.  People worked hard all day long, producing food, cutting wood, cooking, hunting, building…it was a full time job to survive and thrive.  In the evenings, by candlelight, they could stop and put their feet up for a while.  Books were not widely available like they are now, so families passed the time by performing stitchery, carving, making furniture, mending things and creating items that made their lives more pleasant and beautiful. Sometimes a family member would read aloud, play an instrument or sing.  Time was of value and not to be wasted, and there was rarely money to spare on an “evening out”.

Productive hobbies not only improve your brain – they can save you money and better your chances for thriving in a post-SHTF world.  The ability to create or repair something will improve your standard of living and provide you with valuable skills for barter should an economic collapse occur.  Time spent teaching your children these skills will, in turn, pass down arts that would otherwise be lost to generations of the future, while helping your child become a more critical thinker and problem solver.

Following are some examples of productive hobbies.

  • Reading
  • Sewing clothing, curtains and soft furnishings
  • Knitting and crocheting
  • Carving
  • Repairing broken items
  • Mending
  • Darning socks
  • Building furniture
  • Making pottery
  • Cooking and baking
  • Writing
  • Drawing and creating art
  • Playing an Instrument
  • Singing
  • Archery
  • Making cards
  • Making jewelry
  • Fletching
  • Gunsmithing
  • Making ammo
  • Welding and soldering
  • Learning a language
  • Doing a puzzle
  • Playing a word, math or strategy game
  • Marksmanship
  • Exercise
  • Gardening
  • Preserving food
  • Practicing outdoor skills like hiking, camping and foraging

The list is endless but those are a few suggestions.  How do you unwind?  What do you like to do in your spare time?

Author bio: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

Categories: Life-Liberty-Happiness, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Steps to Uncovering Your Hidden Handicraft for Survival

by Todd Walker

If tools could talk.

A few of my hand tools

A few of my hand tools

I love working with my hands. Connecting with my project takes me away to another time, another dimension.

When life gets too crazy, I tell Dirt Road Girl I’m going to my shop. The sight of tools, the smell of sawdust, and unfinished projects brings me back to center. I walk over and pick up an antique brace and bit or draw knife hanging on my wall. How many old timers used these tools to craft a chair or build a barn? My hand touches history – and our culture.

I own new tools that are very useful and have their place and function. Yet I was drawn to the old hickory handled hammer this past weekend while working on my new compost tumbler – the hammer my daddy gave me many years ago. He added many scars to its wood grain before passing it on to me.

I exercised my artistic muscle for Christmas of 2011. I took some old plumbing tools Daddy gave me over the years and designed a name plaque that reads “WALKER”. It’s hanging on his wall as you enter my boyhood home. It’s a reminder to him, and all who enter, the place of honor tools have in our family.

There’s also a connection between handmade, artisan handicraft items and our individual health. Visual arts, music, dance, and even expressive writing are effective in decrease stress and anxiety, reducing heart rates, and boost our desire to continue the healing process. Our youngest daughter painted DRG an oil painting of her favorite flower. It hangs near the kitchen lifting DRG’s spirit with every glance.

Oil painting by our youngest daughter

Oil painting by our youngest daughter

The doom and gloom in survival fiction often times portrays man reverting to dark age living. I understand the effects of some natural or man-made end of the world scenario. You know, the collapse of civilization stuff. Heavy stuff which I have neither the time nor desire to get into at this point. My purpose here is to point out the need and importance of working with our hands, developing artisan skills, and passing on lost/forgotten skills to future generations.

Our primitive ancestors depended upon skilled artisans to craft weapons for hunting and defense, brew beer/ale, harness fire for warmth/cooking/light, make baskets and containers from reeds and clay, and stitch clothing from hides and sinew. Their function and contribution built resilience in their family and tribe. They added value. They produced.

It’s so simple even cavemen and cave-babes did it. How hard can it be? An over simplification, I know. Or not.

You’re probably thinking to yourself that we can’t all be great writers, sculptors, and artisans of handicraft. You might be right. But even pursuing one new hobby or craft you’ve always wanted to try might be the spark needed to inspire the creative artisan inside you.

The degree we develop our skills and art not only adds function and beauty, but may increase our chances of survival and ability to thrive during chaos. At the very least, working with our hands offers stress release and sense of satisfaction that we created something  that didn’t previously exist.

If you’re cooped up in an office pushing pencils and paper, staring at glowing screens like so many other desk jockeys, you owe it to yourself to find a way to get your hands dirty and cleanse your soul. Here are few things on my artisan to-do list:

  • Soap Making. I got interested in saponification a few years ago. If you’re interested, there’s lots of info on the net and in book form. I bought The Everything Soapmaking Book for recipes. Hooking up with someone who has experience is always a great way to learn. There is a good chance you’ll find a local soap artisan in your area. THANK YOU TIME. Just before Christmas Darlene, a soap artisan in FL, sent me a bar of shaving soap to try with my traditional shaving equipment. I absolutely love her soap’s scent, lather, and texture on my skin. Darlene makes soap for people and puppies: body soap, shaving soap, and shampoo bars. She sells her soap locally but will ship to anywhere you are. You can find her on Facebook here: Doll Babies Farm Goat’s Milk Soap.
  • Permaculture. I’ve grown gardens most of my life but never practiced permaculture. Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks the question, “Where does this element go? How can it be placed for the maximum benefit of the system?” It seems to be a natural extension of sustainable living. Any tips or resources for a newbie like me are welcome.
  • Resilience in health, food, water, and preparedness. Thanks to conversations with a blogger friend over at Resilient News, my entire attitude toward preparedness and self-reliance is being challenged. Being better situated to bounce back from surprises is part of every preppers mindset. Storing consumable stuff that will eventually run out is a good strategy to get you through a crisis. However, DRG and I are now focusing on building resources that are sustainable, robust, and resilient. Another good source I’ve come across is Resilient Communities.

7 Ideas to Help You Discover the Artisan Within

If you have no interests, you’re not interesting. Here are some Sherpa steps to get you in touch with your lurking artisan within. You’ll also receive the added bonus of having something interesting to say at your next social gathering other than who de-friended you on Facebook.

A.) Be Selfish. Not in a narcissistic way. Find stuff that stirs interest in you. Who cares if it’s popular or taboo. Block the voice of conformity. Every time I cave to someone’s political correct ideals, I lose 10% of my effectiveness. Carve some time out for you and protect it furiously. Feed your soul before expecting to offer any value to others. Be generous to yourself in a non-navel gazing way – unless that’s some yoga position.

B.) Connect with tradition. My mom still has the paper towel holder I made her in 7th grade industrial arts class. Bring shop class back! She also has the shoe lass that her my granddaddy used to repair the shoes of his ten children during the Great Depression. The tools of artisans tell the story of people we’ve never met. Mom’s storytelling motivates me to carry on the tradition. Blue-hairs have jewels of wisdom if we’ll only take the time to listen.

Broom maker at Foxfire

Broom maker at Foxfire

C.) Don’t segregate. Resist the temptation to pigeon-hole and compartmentalize your handicraft. Find ways to incorporate you skills in everyday life.

  • Darlene started making soap as a hobby and turned it into a profitable business.
  • You like to write. Start a free blog at Word Press. Self-publish an eBook. Why be at the mercy of an unhappy publishing executive who wants to change your writing to fit a certain demographic their group polling determines is best. Don’t wait for some ‘expert’ to approve.
  • Find local artisans and connect. It’s very likely these folks will welcome you into their group. Don’t forget to give value for value.

D.) Find your passion. What makes you pound your fist on the table? Find out and do something about it. Start. Today. You’ll become the “go to” guy or gal.

E.) Exercise your idea muscle. I’ve got notebooks and journals and iPhone apps for recording ideas. Sometimes I just sit and think of ideas. A word on the car radio, or a picture, or a seed stuck to your pants could be inspirational. How do you think Velcro came about. The saying “Use it or lose it” especially applies to our idea muscle. Shock your brain synapses by listing ten new ideas everyday. Ten is the bare minimum. You’ll become addicted and your idea muscle will never atrophy.

F.) Read - Outside of your “field.” Pick up a book or article that has nothing to do with what consumes the majority of your day. Fiction or non-fiction – doesn’t matter. Be open to change what you thought was the right way to do things. Diversify. Plant lots of seeds.

G.) Do what you love and the money will follow…maybe. But who cares, right? This goes back to being selfish. I remember watching Wild Kingdom with my daddy growing up. He’d say how he wished he had been able to do what Marlin Perkins did for a living. He always advised me to do what I loved for a job and it won’t be work. Writing hasn’t made me money, but I love doing it – even though there are no masterpieces to validate my work. I’m keeping my day job, but make time everyday for what I love.

It wasn’t long ago that people lived in tightly knit communities, connected with each other, and lived a local life. In our modern rat-race, folks have come to believe you have to be the best to be recognized and rewarded. If I don’t make it on American Idol I’m a nobody. I’ve been guilty of wanting a little fame and fortune. At this point in my life, I’m not waiting for that one magical moment to make me happy. I’m going in exactly the opposite direction. Simple living – back to my roots – getting my hands dirty.

What’s your hidden talent?

 

Categories: Homesteading, Lost Skills, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Pastured Poultry Butchering

Kids say the darndest things. The topic of where our food comes from was raised in my new Science classroom a few year back. I’m still in shock at Tony’s ‘enlightened’ response on the origin of meat. “From the ground,” he said. I probed. I never pass up these entertainment opportunities.

“So, it’s kinda like planting corn,” I asked.

“Yep. You plant some meat in the ground and it grows,” he said with confidence. That, my friend, is called job security.

Tony, if you’re reading this, you can stop wondering where pastured chickens come from. Matronofhusbandry over at Throwback at Trapper Creek gave me permission to share this with you and the Sherpa crowd. I love their site. It chronicles the similarities and differences of homesteading on a 1881 farm and in present day.  Located in the Pacific Northwest, their goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible. Our kind of folk. Take some time to read their musings and practical articles.

Now for the featured article. HEED the WARNING for the squeamish, vegans, and/or vegetarians.

Not for the squeamish…

June 28, 2008

WARNING – LOTS OF BLOOD AND BODY PARTS WILL BE SHOWN AFTER THE SERENE VIDEO and the first 5 pictures.

Last supper – really it is last lunch.

[Click here to view their short Pastured Poultry video]

Here is what those adorable chicks I showed you 8 weeks ago, turned into.  Grass and grain eating and pooping fertilizing fools.   I’ve just moved them to fresh grass, and am watering them, you can see them grazing and doing the contented chicken leg and wing stretch.  They have had an enjoyable eight weeks.  I always think if I was a dog, I would want to be one of my dogs, and if I was a chicken, I would want to be one of my chickens… .

We withhold the feed the afternoon before processing the chickens.  They receive water and fresh grass, but no grain.  This allows the crop  and the rest of the digestive system to clear out.  This step is important,  a clean crop and a flushed out intestinal tract make life a little more pleasant during this task.

We loaded them into our crates during the dark, they stay calm and settle right down in their crates.  They were going to get to travel and see other chickens in the nearby state of Washington at our friends farm, who let us come over and butcher when they do.  On the slate for the day:  4 adults and an assortment of kids from age 9 – 16 were going to  butcher 500 chickens and be cleaned up by lunchtime. This is in addition to doing chores as usual, on three farms They had 365, their friend from church had 70, and we were bringing 71.  We were home by noon.

As an aside to people who might be bothered by this post – I worked today alongside a nine year girl teaching her how to butcher a chicken.  Her biggest concern?  Her apron was a little too big, and the straps kept slipping off of her arms.  She was a trooper.  She stuck with it and like a good trail horse, she was bombproof, even getting playful and making a dead chicken fart, by bouncing it on the table.  I don’t think she wonders where her food comes from.

This post will be long on pictures, but I will try to explain each so you can see how we spent our day.  I’m still number crunching – I’m scared to see how much they cost me, but the accountant in me has to know to the penny.

Crossing the Columbia River, looking east towards home.

Yep, this is the place.
//i28.tinypic.com/4jnae9.jpg

Jerseys and broiler pens.
//i31.tinypic.com/atwtq9.jpg

Missy, our greeter.

New baby chicks.

*****WARNING***** the party is over!

 

Read the rest here and stop wondering where our food comes from

 

Categories: Food Storage, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Edible Wild Plants – Sassafras

Source: Sensible Survival

DISCLAIMER:  Don’t believe anything I or any body else tells you about edible wild plants.  Don’t eat edible wild plants based on what you see in a book or on the inter-net.  Get a qualified instructor to show you the plants, and don’t eat them until the instructor shows you how to prepare them, and then eats them him or herself.  Be aware that you may be allergic to a plant that someone else can eat without harm.  Be sure that any plants that you gather have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
In the “old days” it was common practice for pioneer families to imbibe a spring tonic.  This ritual was part medicinal and part psychological.  It was medicinal in that the tonic in question usually had some medicinal benefit, either real or imagined; and it was psychological in that it was an acknowledgment that the natural world was renewing itself and man, by the act of taking this purifying herb, was to be part of this renewal.  In the South, one of the most common spring tonics was Sassafras tea.
The Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is a fairly small tree, sometimes up to 40′ tall, which grows throughout the Eastern United States.  The easiest way to identify the Sassafras is by its leaves.  You will find that the Sassafras has three distinctly different shaped leaves on the same tree.  Some of the leaves are oval shaped, some of the leaves are mitten shaped, and some of the leaves are three lobed.  All of the leaves have smooth edges, and are shiny on the upper surface.  Pictured below: The three different shaped leaves found on the sassafras tree
 
If you have any doubts about whether you have correctly identified a Sassafras, all you have to do is dig up a small root and smell of it.  Sassafras root smells exactly like rootbeer.
To make Sassafras tea, dig up several small roots and wash the dirt from them.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and throw the roots into the boiling water.  Let the roots boil for a few minutes until the water begins to turn a deep red.  Remove water from heat and let the tea steep.  Serve hot or cold.  Add honey or sugar if you like.  Native Americans added maple sugar.
Old timers referred to Sassafras tea as a blood thinner.  They said that it helped a person tolerate the coming summer heat better.  Modern science tells us that Sassafras contains a mild narcoleptic, a drug that induces drowsiness.  The Food and Drug Administration also warns us that Sassafras can cause cancer if given in large doses to laboratory rats over extended periods of time (so don’t give your pet rat a washtub full of Sassafras tea every day).
Apparently mosquitoes do not like the smell of Sassafras.  Take some of the tea and rub it on exposed areas of your skin to repel these pesky little critters.
Yet another use of Sassafras is as a thickener in stews.  You may remember the Hank Williams song about “Jambalya, crawfish pie, and filet gumbo.”  Well, filet is the substance used to thicken gumbo, and filet is made from dried and powdered Sassafras leaves.  If you make your own filet be careful to remove the sharp stems and veins after the leaves have been crushed.  These can cause major stomach problems.  Also, be sure and don’t give your pet rat too much gumbo.
I have read that Sassafras can be used to make a fire-bow-drill, but I have had no success with this.  The wood seems to be too hard.  I have intended to try and dig up a large Sassafras root, let it dry for six months and see if that wouldn’t make a usable fire-bow-drill.  The root of the Cottonwood is the only part of that tree that I have ever been able to start a fire-bow fire with, and I was thinking that the same may hold true for the Sassafras, but I haven’t got around to trying it yet.  Maybe you’ll try it first and let me know.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Herbal Remedies, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Make a Bench from a Cedar Tree with Pioneer Tools

by Todd Walker

Beautiful wife asks sweetly, “Honey, we need a bench for the front porch *purr*. Could you make one for me?” And the fun begins!

Here she sits outside my shop

I’ve made plenty of honey-do projects for the wife. This one is different. I decided to make this one using pioneer hand tools. It turned out fine. Lessons were learned. Wife is happy.

NOTE: During this post, you’ll see me insert [Prepper Lesson] to highlight our dependency on modern power tools, both electrical and internal combustion.

History: This cedar stock came from my family homestead. It was felled by a tornado a few years ago. A buddy of mine limbed it and stacked it for future use. On my last visit to my folks, we cut a six-foot section (about 12 inches diameter) and hauled it back to my place.

[Prepper Lesson: A chain saw was used to expedite the matter in 100 degree heat. Post SHTF, crosscut saws will require physical stamina and skill in this kind of heat. In a grid-down situation, having quality hand tools and the skills to properly use them are paramount. For me, I learned that I need more practice using older hand tools like my grandfather used in his day. I took a few shortcuts and used a few power tools during the project.]

Here’s the progression on the project.

Step 1: Once home, I used my chainsaw to rip the stock in half. I laid the log on top of a couple of scape pieces of 2×4 to prevent my saw from digging into the ground.

Step 2: I laid out my cut lines on the ends and sides. I used a square and level for the ends. Transfer the end lines down the sides with a long straight edge. You’ll need a lovely assistant or clamps to hold the straight edge. I used my lovely assistant.

Applying level end lines

Lovely assistant!

Step 3: Saw the stock as close to the lines as possible. Cutting this dried cedar really heated up my bar and chain. I liberally oiled during the process. The cleaner the cut, the less work you do planing the rough cut stock. Scotch the log with wedges. I also found it helpful to drive a rod in the ground to lean the log at the angle I needed.

Notice the pry bar used to hold the stock at the correct angle for ripping

[Prepper Lesson: A saw pit was used in old times to rip logs to create usable lumber. The stock was laid on an elevated rack with one man on top, and the pit man below the stock. I would imagine the man below had the worst part of the job. Without modern sawmills, a whole new skill set will need to be deployed.]

Photo via abesbb.blogspot.com/ 2010/ 07/ tom-sawyer-and-charles-dickens.html

Step 4: Plane the rough surface to be used for the seat. The tricky part was finding the correct depth setting for the plane and not gauging knots while planing. I found that the depth of the blade was determined by the roughness of the chainsaw marks. This took about an hour as I missed my line on when I was ripping with the chainsaw. A portable sawmill would have been a great help

I know of some Amish who have used steam power to run their saw mill. This would be a huge bartering skill/item in an off grid world.

Hand plane time

[Prepper Lesson: I cheated and used a Dewalt sander to finish the surface after planing. I could have used a sanding block, but electricity was still on.]

Step 5: Use a draw knife to remove the bark on the underside of the stock. I had planned to keep the bark on, but it had already begun turning loose. I helped it along with the draw knife. If you don’t have draw knives, you can order them from Lehman’s and other companies. I found the one pictured below in an antique shop. Closely inspect used knives for any signs of cracks or damage. Blades can be sharpened and handles replaced.

Draw knife to remove the bark

Step 6: With the other half of the stock, I split it to make four legs for the bench. Use an axe and splitting wedge for accuracy.

Splitting rails for the legs

Step 7: Shave the legs. Once I split the rails for the legs, I realized I would need a shaving horse to complete the legs. So I built one from scrap lumber I had lying around. That was a two-hour rabbit hole. If I had to buy the material, I would have spent maybe $25. It’s a simple plan and worked incredibly well. I used a plan I found online. I can’t find the link. I’ll keep looking and post it when I find it.

Simple shaving horse

Shaved rail will make two legs

[Prepper Lesson: Using pioneer tools means retooling my entire shop. I'm not throwing out my power tools. I do see the need to acquire more tools and skills. Electricity is wonderfully addictive.]

Step 8: The auger I used bore 1 1/8 inch holes. Bore four of these at slight angles about 6 inches from the end of the bench bottom. I used square and a level to keep the angles about the same for all the leg holes. You could eyeball it I guess.

Auger four holes

Step 9: Create a tenon on the end of each leg to fit the holes. The draw knife was used to take the stock down most of the way. I used a spokeshave to dress the tenon’s final shape. Make sure not to take too much off the tenon. You can’t add wood to the tenon. Also, I tapered the tenons to make the tip fit the hole and drove the rest in with a mallet. No glue needed.

Spokeshave

Four legs inserted

Step 10: Level the legs. I only had to cut 1/2 inch off one leg to make her sit evenly. Use a 4 foot level or just eyeball it.

Here she sits outside my shop

Last step is to put a couple of coats of sealant on to preserve the beauty. I also carved a love note on the bottom to my wife. What a sap!

If your interested in pioneer tools or have helpful links for their use, please leave your tips and comments. I need lots of help with these lost skills.

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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