Primal Skills

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

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

Stump Shooting as a Survival Skill

by Todd Walker

Flinging arrows at archery targets in a controlled environment helps you master the fundamentals of archery. If you’re bored with a sterile target range, grab your stick and string and hit the woods for a dress rehearsal for bow season – or survival.

Stump Shooting as a Survival Skill

A little stump shooting in a target-rich environment!

Stump shooting, for those unfamiliar with the practice, is simply walking through the wilderness, with bow and arrow in hand, and shooting at decaying stumps, dirt mounds, foliage, or other natural targets. I use to go stumpin’ often in my younger days. Those were some fun adventures!

I still enjoy stump shooting. However, as archery season gets closer, stumping becomes a bit more serious.

If you are averse to killing game animals in good times, learning how to get close to animals, even if you only shoot them with your camera, is a skill worth adding to your survival set.

Sherpa Tip: In a complete break down of society and collapse scenario, hunting for meat should be used by baiting game animals. This only applies to true survival situations (WROL – Without Rule Of Law). Check your game laws before attempting to bait animals for hunting.

Stump Shooting Pros

These are a few ways stumping can benefit your hunting and survival skills.

  • You’re in the woods! That alone offers endless challenges and shooting opportunities.
  • Exercise. You can make it as challenging or relaxing as you like. Try carrying your hunting pack or bug out bag while stumping.
  • Grab a partner and make a game of stumping. Kind of like frisbee golf, only way cooler!
  • Hone your hunting/stalking skills. Practice moving through brush as quietly as possible. Try not to brush against vegetation or limbs. You’ll find yourself in crazy yoga-style positions. I hear yoga is very good for you.
  • Raises your awareness in wilderness surroundings. Practice using all five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Bow hunting requires a totally different skill set than harvesting game with a gun.
  • Estimating yardage without range finders.
  • Varied shooting angles – uphill, downhill, and level. This is useful for those who prefer hunting from trees or stands. Climb a hill to practice shooting at your stand height.
  • Practice instinctive shooting. I shoot with traditional archer equipment. No fancy pin sights. This allows me to acquire my target quickly.
Honing Survival Skills by Stump Shooting

The camera is on a tripod. No danger :)

I’m shooting a recurve bow (43 pound draw weight) in the above photo with a mix of cheap arrows. It’s not advisable to stump shoot with compound bows unless you’re sure your target is soft enough. The force generated from modern archery equipment is extreme. If your target is not sufficiently decayed, you’ve just destroyed an arrow.

stump-shooting-as-a-survival-skill

A cheap $2 arrow in a not-so dead stump. Had a time pulling that one.

Points for stump shooting can be plain field tips. Judo points and rubber blunt tips are better options. As always, be sure of your backdrop when shooting.

stump-shooting-as-a-survival-skill

Judo point from my Sling Shot Pocket Hunter.

The most obvious advantage of archery equipment in a SHTF survival situation is noise discipline. You can harvest all manner of game animal with proper shot placement without giving up your position.

On the other hand, there is usually tracking involved when shooting larger animals with an arrow. Wandering around the woods with your eyes searching for a blood trail could be a distinct disadvantage.

Archery equipment gives you options in your preparedness plan. And options make you robust and anti-fragile.

Buying a bow and arrow does not make you an archer. But it’s a start. Doing the stuff to build your archery skills may one day swing survival in your favor. Stumping is a one way to practice in real field conditions and can offer survival simulations.

Primitive bows have been used for thousands of years as weapons for war and hunting. In the hands of a skilled archer, they’re lethal. They do have their limitations, though.

What’s your thoughts on the pros and cons of using archery equipment as a survival tool? Share in the comments if you’d like.

Keep doing the stuff!

Todd

P.S.

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Categories: Gear, Primal Skills, SHTF, Survival | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

Feral Food: Maxing Out on Milkweed Pods

Editor’s note: Crunchy Mama‘s wild food adventures continues. For those unfamiliar with this feral food, it has so many other virtues. Not only is it edible, it makes great cordage, stomach tonic, and candle wicks. 

“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

Originally published on her site The Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead and reprinted here with her permission.

A NEW favorite wild edible: green milkweed seed pods!

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES ON JULY 31, 2013

Milkweed with green seed pods

It’s been a few months since I walked on a nearby path where I have spotted many a wild edible.  Busy with the homestead garden, ya know!  Anyway, I was thrilled to walk the path yesterday and find two wild edibles that I have been wanting to try: green  (immature) milkweed seed pods and staghorn sumac berries (blog post forthcoming).

So, I picked about 9 milkweed green/immature seed pods to try for the very first time.  When i got home, I referred to my copy of Sam Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest to find out exactly how to prepare them.  He says that some people can eat milkweed raw but other people cannot tolerate them raw.  I did taste a bit of the raw silky white and a bit of the raw green part.  The silky white part was pretty good raw and the raw green part was decent but I decided that I would cook the rest.   Generally, when I try a new wild edible, I like to keep it simple so that I can really taste the plant.  I steam/sautéed the pods, cut in half, for a few minutes in some butter (with a tablespoon of water) in my pre-heated cast iron skillet.  They were very good!  I now have yet another favorite wild edible!  They taste mild and delicious.  According to what I’ve read, you can put these pods in casseroles, stews, stir-fry’s, etc.  They are so versatile!  And, did I mention that they are delicious?!

What I did find out after I had picked them and come home is that I picked them a bit too big.  According to Thayer, pods that are 1 – 2 inches are best.  HOWEVER, I thoroughly enjoyed the pods that were 3 – 4 inches long.  I have some that are slightly bigger and I will try them later.  You should know, though, that once they turn brown they are no longer edible.  As with all new foods, please do your own research and, if possible, consult with a local wild food “expert” to make sure that you are following the “rules” of eating wild edibles: 1. positive identification of the plant, 2. eating the correct part of the plant at the right time of development and 3. proper preparation(can you eat it raw or do you have to cook it to make it safe to eat?)

Green (immature) milkweed seed pods (a bit bigger than “prime” according to Sam Thayer but still good in my opinion!)

Milkweed seed pods cut open to expose the silky white middle

Steam/sauteed green milkweed seed pods with butter, salt and pepper

If you are looking for my other posts on wild edibles, they are here:

Purslane

Wood sorrel (shamrocks)

Violets

Ostrich Fern Shoots (fiddleheads)

Wildcraft! board game review 

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Please consider subscribing via email or in your favorite reader.  I’m also on Twitter and YouTube!  Have a great day!

Update: I did try the bigger ones and they were fine for me!

4-inch milkweed seed pod boiled in some savory broth and served with some grassfed beef ribs, green beans and lacto-fermented sauerkraut.

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation. If you’d like, you can connect with The Crunchy Mama on Twitter @thecrunchymamaYouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Free Feral Food ~ The Missing Link in Prepper Pantries

by Todd Walker

Before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, our ancestors hunted and gathered feral food. The plants they foraged contained phytonutrients absorbed through the ground, sun, moon, and air.

Before you click away to search for a conventional way to obtain vital nutrients to supplement your pantry, you need to know the benefits foraging feral foods.

What do I mean by feral food?

The dictionary defines feral as: not domesticated or cultivated; uncivilized, untamed, uncontrolled.

You get the picture. Feral + Food = Nutrient Dense Food

But I like sweet corn! Do I have to give it up?

Nope. Just know that this mutated weakling has little nutritional value compared to its wild cousin.

Source: Nutritional Weaklings in the Supermarket

A New York Times opinion piece by Jo Robinson demonstrates that modern agriculture has breed nutrients out of our food. Open the graphic above and take a look at what’s missing in your pantry of conventionally cultivated foods. Don’t be fooled by Madison Avenue’s slick ads for BigAg and our Industrial Food Machine and its mono-crops. It may look like it’s loaded with nutrition, but it’s just imitates real food.

I’ve interviewed U.S.D.A. plant breeders who have spent a decade or more developing a new variety of pear or carrot without once measuring its nutritional content. We can’t increase the health benefits of our produce if we don’t know which nutrients it contains. Ultimately, we need more than an admonition to eat a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables: we need more fruits and vegetables that have the nutrients we require for optimum health.” 

- Source

Benefits of being a feral foodie

Instead of putting your survival and health on the line, you should build redundancy in your foodstuffs. We all know and understand the danger of depending on only one source for anything. Two is one – one is none. So, start supplementing your dinner plate with wild stuff.

Here’s a few benefits of our free feral food.

  • They’re everywhere. An entire industry has been created to stop their spread. The manicured lawn owner shrieks in horror when the neighbor’s child blows her freshly picked dandelion seed head from across the street! It’s a losing battle trying to tame these wild things.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals that are absent in conventional, tamed food.
  • In a survival situation, these foods can not only keep you alive, but help you thrive.
  • Low maintenance. Unlike their civilized garden cousins, feral foods don’t have to be watered, fertilized, or cultivated. They just do what they were bred to do – grow wild – even in extreme conditions.
  • Here’s the best part – they’re FREE! They also can supplement expensive vitamins. A local organic farmer even makes money selling dandelion greens at our local farmers market. But you can harvest your own and save money. Just make sure the area hasn’t been contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals.

Don’t Plow Under Your Garden

What am I suggesting? Ditch your garden and let the weeds take over?

No.

I’m not delusional. I totally get that our modern lifestyle doesn’t allow us to spend hours harvesting wild food. Feral foods don’t grow in office cubicles where many of us spend most of our working lives. You’re doing good just to grow a garden now a days.

What I am saying is…

Get in touch with your wild side – one weed at a time. Gradually adding feral foods is the strategy.

A teaching buddy of mine and I often wonder who was the first human to eat stinging nettles. The conversation may have gone like this.

“All righty then. Grok, you drew the short straw. Try this one!”

Not a recommended edibility test! You might wind up dead.

First, learn to properly identify edible feral food. There are several books and resources that can help you get started. The best method would be for you to find a local wild food expert and learn from him or her. My buddy Durable Faith has found such an expert a few miles from his home and is learning from her. He’s also practicing permaculture – caring for wild spaces that already exist to benefit his family.

Crunchy Mama has contributed articles here that will help you connect with your true nature on her wild food adventures. There are video tutorials available as well on your web surfing machine. I like Eat the Weeds.

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Even More Feral Food Resources

Start adding feral foods to supplement your family’s eating plan. If an event happens that stops the food delivery system to your super market, you’d be one step ahead if you’re already practiced in eating feral foods.

Here’s my usual disclaimer: You should never eat feral foods without checking with a local wild food expert.

There! I feel better.

What do you think? Are feral foods a viable food option for optimizing your preps and health? Let us know your wild thoughts in the comments, please.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

As always, if you like what you’ve read, please share it if you think it will add value to your tribe!

Categories: Bushcraft, Natural Health, Primal Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

How Chronic Couch Preppers Can Look Good Naked Again

by Todd Walker

Do you hate mirrors!

http://fitnessgurunyc.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/1.1250550826.fat-mirror.jpg

In the not so distant past, mirrors were my arch-enemy. I’d talk myself into believing that the shirt hid my love handles. The Dirt Road Girl must have used a shrinking agent in the laundry. Wait a minute! That doesn’t explain my leather belt shrinking. Hum. What’s up with that?!

I had become a chronic couch prepper. I was carrying 50 more pounds than my once athletic frame was intended to haul. In my delusional mind, I figured on summoning super-hero strength if the time came for me to hump my 40 pound bug-out-bag plus an extra 50 pounds of self-indulgent body fat. Pulling myself up by the bootstraps in a SHTF scenario or emergency situation has it’s time and place. What do I do when merely reaching for my boot straps is exhausting?

If you’ve followed my journey any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about my primal/paleo lifestyle. It’s not some fad diet. It’s a lifestyle of making choices and taking your health and fitness into your own hands. I can’t imagine that preparedness minded people would not embrace this lifestyle. Going into any emergency, natural or man-made, optimal health and fitness might give you the edge in survival. The people who depend on you can’t if you’re a chronic couch prepper.

If you stumbled upon this site and aren’t into preparedness, self-reliance, and resilience, but are looking for a solution to the dieting dungeon and want to experience real long-term health and fitness, you’re in the right place.

The benefits of going primal

Since going primal in February 2010, I’ve lost the aching joints, irritated bowel, sugar cravings, and 50 pounds. I’ve gained confidence in my physical abilities, muscle mass, increased energy levels, new appreciation for play, and a lifestyle of healthy living. An added bonus is I look good naked again – according to Dirt Road Girl :) Vanity? Not really. It just goes with the territory of a primal lifestyle.

Do you have to follow the primal lifestyle to be physically fit? No. It’s the path I’ve followed and highly recommend for those who have tried ‘everything’.

Prisoner of the Pyramid

http://philadelphia.grubstreet.com/20070711zombies.jpg

The real Zombie Food Pyramid is the USDA Food Pyramid

Nutrition is key to a healthy lifestyle. Following conventional wisdom on nutrition was a big fail for me and millions of Americans. I have two degrees in Health and Physical Education. In those six years, I was schooled to follow the conventional wisdom of eating mostly carbs mixed with a little fat and protein. Great plan if you value chronic health problems, fatigue, and dying. Following the misinformation put out by our benevolent government (corporate-driven USDA food pyramid) will only help you remain a chronic couch prepper. Why would they do that? Follow the money. I’ve chosen to abandon willful ignorance and take control of my own life. Self-reliance and preparedness starts within you.

RESET!

Flip the pyramid upside down and start over. Eat no grains, or grain based meals for one month. Hold on there pilgrim! All preppers know that storing grain in 5 gallon buckets is the way to survive TEOTWAWKI. Again, think like a hunter/gatherer. Destroy the old conventional paradigm. I know this will offend and even anger traditional/conventional preparedness folks. I’m no expert on nutrition, I just know what worked for me. All I’m asking is that you take the challenge for one month. Break free from the conventional wisdom and give it a chance.

The Caveman’s Gym

http://agarlandcrown.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/caveman-fitness.jpg?w=470

What would Grok do? Short and intense is better than long and grueling. I’ve had friends join me on my work outs. They are very simple and minimalist. No gym membership, long hours, expensive equipment, or boring stuff. Here’s some of the ‘gym’ equipment I use.

  • My body weight for pull ups, push ups, lunges, and squats.
  • Rocks for throwing and lifting.
  • Fallen trees, broken into manageable pieces, are used for weighted squats and balance.
  • Sledge hammer swung at old tires. I also do Shovelglove. Never heard of it. Click here to check it out. Splitting wood with a sledgehammer, wedge, and axe are great full body movement creating functional fitness.
  • Don’t discount children and grandchildren. I hoist my grandson on my shoulders (40 pounds) every time he comes over and we do our walk. Well, he rides and giggles. I walk.
  • 7 gallon water containers. Grab two that are full to perform killer lunge sets. I don’t do many with that weight. Work up to heavier weight with two gallon jugs of water or other object with a handle.
  • Sprint as fast as you can every 7 to 10 days. This is all out effort whether you bike, run, or swim. My sprint sessions only last about 10 minutes. Long slow distance only leads to stress related injuries (chronic cardio)…especially in shoes.
  • Tree climbing. I’m not talking about with a deer climbing stand either. Get over your domesticated workout and go wild!
  • Here’s another wild workout I posted that you may find helpful.

Functional fitness for SHTF

Specialization is for insects. “Time to go to the gym,” my buddy moaned. He can bench press 400 pounds but can barely squeak out a pull up. In any survival situation, versatility will be the key to not becoming room temperature. If he and I were hiking and had to climb a tree to escape a charging wild boar, he might be out of luck. Ever watch a dog ‘exercising’ outside? He doesn’t run in a boring circles. He mixes it up with jumping, sprinting, sparing, playing, with an occasional stop to pee on bushes. Animals move without monotony. Movement is survival.

Wild animals depend on their ability to move to survive. The odds of us having to sprint to the nearest tree to outrun a wild beast is small. WTSHTF it’s the two-legged predators I’m worried about. Knowing we could escape a dangerous encounter is rewarding. More practically, could I carry my wife or children to safety if called upon? Our fitness level should be well-rounded. We’ve got to be strong to be useful.

Here are a few resources I recommend to get you into the wild and moving naturally.

1) The 13 MovNat Movement Skills© (Check out this site for natural movement)

If you’re wondering what moving naturally means for human beings, think of human species-specific movement aptitudes. Visualize how the human animal would move in nature for his survival – that is natural human movement.

‘Aren’t there more natural ways to move naturally than just running?’

Human beings possess locomotive skills such as 1) walking, 2) running, 3) jumping, 4) balancing, 5) crawling, 6) climbing, or 7) swimming.

In addition to locomotive skills, human beings also utilize manipulative skills such as 8) lifting, 9) carrying, 10) throwing, and 11) catching, and 12) throwing and combative skills, such as 13) striking or grappling.

2) Mark’s Daily Apple. Reprogram your genes for effortless weight-loss, vibrant health and boundless energy.

3) The Paleo Solution. Revolutionary solutions to modern life.

4) Free The Animal. Richard Nikoley’s quest to live a primal/paleo lifestyle.

If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired when it comes to your workout, give these suggestions a try.

You’re turn. What’s been your exercise regiment? – I hate that word. It’s so hard to keep up with a regiment. Share your wild functional workout with us.

NOTE: A recent email conversation with Daisy Luther got us both thinking about the importance of fitness and health for survival. Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting together a more detailed series on functional fitness, healthy living, and unconventional advice for those following a preparedness and self-sustainable lifestyle.

Got anything in particular that you’d like to hear discussed?

 

Categories: Functional Fitness, Natural Health, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, SHTF | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Caveman Classroom Tips for Real Learning

Leaning is “so easy, a caveman could do it.”

Can education be as simple as the GEICO ad?  Education, yes!  Schooling, no!

Two years ago I discovered “The Primal Blueprint“, thanks to Karen De Coster’s article over at LewRockwell.com.  I was 50 pounds overweight with aching joints.  I decided to go primal because it seemed so easy.  It was.  I lost the excess weight and started making choices for my life and health.  What’s my primal experience got to do with learning like a caveman?

Simple is better.  The institutionalized school system was set up to bastardize the learning process.  The rules, bells, standardized testing, and structured control, to name a few culprits, are all part the corruption of meaningful learning.  Sides are taken on how to reform “education”.  What the intellectual reformers miss is so simple.  Look to the caveman for the answers.

Caveman Classroom

If you assume there wasn’t much to being a hunter-gatherer in pre-agricultural society, you’d be wrong.  Young Grok’s survival depended on skills learned from birth.  He learned animal tracking, weapon construction and usage, physics, weather patterns, structural engineering, free market economics, plant identification, navigation, medicine, social interaction, music and dance, self-defense for both two and four-legged animals, athletics, art, negotiation, and the list could continue.  Grok and his buddies learned this stuff without being schooled.

Here’s 3 Easy Ways To Learn Like A Caveman

Teenage Cave Man

1. Play.  Allowed to play, Grok discovered things about himself as he explored the world around him.  Mom and Dad were wise enough to give him all the time and freedom he needed for discovery.  This was the surest path to education.

My experience with play as a child taught me much about myself and what I enjoy.  By age 7, my dad loaded up the family and moved to the country.  The nearest neighbor was a mile up the dirt road.  My brother and our two best friends spent our daylight hours and some nights in the woods.  We explored creeks, caught crayfish, built forts, had BB gun fights, and camped on horseback.  We didn’t have video games.  We played in real life.

2. Observation.  Grok and his friends learned new skills by watching the adults in the tribe.

I learned how to shoot, not from cowboys on TV, but by watching my dad and his adult friends while hunting or target practice.  Around 10 years old, I showed genuine interest in learning to shoot a shot-gun.  Daddy would take me with him to the landfill when it was time to dump a load of trash.  He’d throw glass bottles into the air and I learned to bust them with some helpful coaching.  I wanted to be as good a shot as my dad.

It was not always my dad I learned from.  There was people I respected of all ages and backgrounds.  Those that were successful at certain skills, I followed if I was interested in learning.

3. Explore.  Curiosity and inquiry naturally leads to exploration.

As an adult, I’ve become more curious about things I never was interested in growing up.  A question pops into my head and I begin my journey of exploration.  I’ve always been a serial multitasker.  I pursue what interests me.  That was not the case for me in school.

Subjects were forced on me.  I hated history.  Now I love it.  Why?  Because it interests me. I love learning as an adult.  School, on the other hand, was brutal.  I honestly can’t remember 90 percent of what I was “taught” in school.  I’d estimate even less during my college days.

The classes I remember learning in were Shop, Art, Physical Education, 4th grade Math, and 6th grade English.  I loved to draw, play sports, build stuff, and write.  The 4th grade Math class was fun because I learned all my multiplication tables that year.  The English class was taught by my aunt.  That’s not the only reason I loved that class.  Aunt Cindy would send the whole class outside to write or draw.  Our class published a poetry book that year.  One of my drawings and short stories got included.  I still remember the winter scene I drew.

I learn best when I really want to learn.  I bet the same is true for you.  Play, observe, and explore your passions.  Discover how easy it is to learn.

Fight the urge to think that kids need to be taught.  Kids are able to teach themselves if the right environment is provided.  If they need or want help, they’ll find it.

Doing the stuff,

Todd

Categories: Government "Education", Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Self-reliance, Survival Education | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making Herbal Tinctures from Lawn Weeds

[SS Note: Plantain is my go to herb/weed for all stings/bites and poison oak rashes. I simply chew it for a few seconds and secure it on the effected area with tape, band aid, or whatever is available. Instant relief!]

Source: Catastrophe Network

We, like most of the country, have been experiencing drought the past few weeks, so the lawn hasn’t been mowed in a some time. While the grass is dead, there are several weeds (herbs) that are thriving. Two of them that I have identified are of course plantain and yarrow. Today, I decided to make a tincture out of those beneficial herbs before I mowed the grass and destroyed them all. To do this, I picked a quart jar full of each kind of herb and then dropped them in the food processor with a little vodka. After pulverizing them, they now fit in a nice little pint size jar, which I then filled to about a quarter inch from the top with vodka. In a few weeks, or maybe a month or two, I can strain out the pulverized leaves and I will be left with a very potent herbal tincture of plantain and yarrow.

Plantain tincture can be applied externally to:

  • Act as an antidote for stings, bites, poison ivy, etc.
  • Stop bleeding and promote healing
  • Pull out puss, slivers, dirt, etc. from wounds.

Plantain tincture can be taken internally by putting a few drops of tincture in water and drinking it to:

  • Serve as a general antiinflammatory and antiallergenic
  • Heal urinary tract infections

Yarrow tincture can be applied externally to wounds to quickly stop bleeding or taken internally by putting a few drops of tincture in water and drinking it stop bleeding of the digestive system, such as a bleeding ulcer.

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Plantain
Yarrow
Categories: Bushcraft, First Aid, Frugal Preps, Herbal Remedies, Medical, Preparedness, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Survival Sunday Roundup #5

This is the last week of summer for me before I head back to the salt mine to start another school year. I’ll try to keep up with my furious posting schedule in spite of school and Dirt Road Girl’s battle with cancer. With all that’s on my plate, someone suggested that I should take a break from blogging. It’s a great outlet for me and I enjoy it – whether anyone else enjoys my rantings or not – what counts is that I do. I’m humbled and surprised that anyone stops by here anyway. That is simply a bonus. Thanks to those who do!

This was my Must Reads:

My focus this week, with bow season approaching, has been primitive skills. There’s also some other preparedness/self-reliance/SHTF stuff you might find interesting from around the PrepperSphere. So here’s a recap of what I’ve been viewing in this edition of Survival Sunday Roundup.

Down and Dirty DIY: Fletching Arrows with Duct Tape (in case you missed my earlier)

10 Reasons Why Building a Community is Key When the SHTF

by Survivor Mike over at The Home For Survival Blog

Clearly, having more mouths to feed and more variables in the equation will be a challenge.  However, a unified front when the desperate folks come calling is clearly the best long term approach.

Getting Prepared Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like Minded Folks

by Survival Woman at Backdoor Survival

One important reason for sharing your knowledge with a group is that they will share back and you will learn so much more than you could on your own.  You will learn what skills they may have that you don’t have and when the time comes, working together you can spread the burden of chores and duties among each other.  Another important reason is that by being friendly, you will begin to establish a trust that translates in to watching each other’s back, keeping a collective eye out for bad guys or simply watching for zombies trying to get to your stuff.

When It Comes to Survival, Don’t be a Purist

by Hank at Sensible Survival

Remember, your mind is your most important survival tool. Learn to think outside the box, and use anything that you can find, natural or man-made, to help you survive.

 

Preparedness, Survival, and Primitive Skills

by Hank at Sensible Survival

Everyone should be prepared for disasters, natural or man-made. The posts on preparedness are about being ready for things like temporary power outages, unemployment, natural disasters, biological accidents or attacks, civil disorder, or the complete breakdown of society. The social order may endure forever, but everybody’s power will go out sooner or later, so be prepared.

Prepping on a Budget

by Off Grid Survival

Those who prep with knowledge will be far better off than those who rely solely on their gear to survive.

 

 

Categories: Preparedness, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival Sunday Roundup | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bee Lining: Simply Math Could Save Your Life

Bees Like John (The Baptist), by Mike The Bee Shepherd

Source: Survival Blog

 In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, many people will naturally resort to hunting and fishing to procure food. The increased hunting pressure will make many animals nocturnal and quickly deplete the populations of wild game. There is, however, one overlooked source of food that flies completely under the radar by even the most seasoned survivalists.  It tastes delicious, lasts forever,  replenishes itself to be harvested again and again, is a phenomenal barter item,  and can be found in every state in America.  I am talking about wild honey! The Bible says that this is the food that sustained John the Baptist during his time in the wilderness and that’s all the endorsement I need.
Allow me to give you a quick primer on honey.  Honey has roughly 1,376 calories per pound. It is not uncommon for a healthy colony of bees to produce 60 to 80 pounds of surplus honey in a good season. That equates to 60-80 days of life sustainment for one person from one hive.  Honey has an indefinite shelf life. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian kings was found to be perfectly edible. Honey also has multiple uses. Besides its obvious value as a food item, honey can be fermented to make mead (honey wine) which can be further distilled to make ethanol fuel.   Honey also has antibacterial qualities since it contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide and it was reportedly used by Roman Soldiers to pack sword wounds.  Honey can and will crystallize over time since it is a super saturated solution but you can easily restore it back to liquid form by gently heating it. Did I mention that Winnie the Pooh loves the stuff?

I think it’s safe to say that John the Baptist didn’t get his honey from the local food co-op or Piggly Wiggly. Our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of buying bees from the Internet and having them shipped in a tidy box via UPS, instead they used an ancient technique known as “bee lining”.  Locusts may not travel in a straight line but fortunately for us, the honey bee generally does.  It is this straight-line behavior that we can utilize to lead us back to the proverbial “honey-hole”.  There are numerous techniques for bee lining and although I doubt John the Baptist used trigonometry to locate his wild bees, we can.  Do you remember the days back in high school when you were plodding with contempt through trigonometry homework and thinking to yourself “I will never use this”?  Personally, I would rather have watched paint dry as I was never very adept at math. I don’t think I could count all my protruding body parts and get the same number twice. I am now man enough to admit that I was wrong.  A little simple math can reveal the bee’s secret location.

Bees predominantly forage when the weather is nice so do not waste your time trying to do this in the rain. It takes honey to make honey! You need to start with a sweet solution of sugar or honey and water (dissolved 1:1).  Put this solution on a small piece of sponge in the center of a bowl.  Set the bowl with sugar baited sponge in an open area and wait. The wind will carry the scent to foraging bees.  The first time a honey bee takes her fill, she will fly up in ever widening circles trying to remember the landmarks so she can lead her sisters back to the source.  It helps them if you wear brightly colored clothes as they will use you as a landmark. The exception to this is the color red as bees cannot see the color red. You can get a very rough estimate of the distance to the hive by timing the round trip time between the first bees departure to its return. 3-5 minutes is generally indicative of a quarter-mile, 5-10 minutes a half-mile, and 15 minutes or more indicates a distance of at least one mile. Once the bee communicates the source of food to the hive, the whole family will join in and you should see an ever increasing volume of bees visiting your bowl. Take out a compass and note the direction that the bees are flying in between the dish and the hive. Shoot an azimuth and note the azimuth (in degrees) on a map. Write a line from your current position out a few miles indicating the bee’s current flight path. (We will call this line SIDE “A”) The hive is obviously somewhere along this line. Once you have 15 or 20 bees in your bowl you can place a cover on the bowl thus capturing the bees. Take your captured bees and walk 50 yards in a line that is exactly perpendicular to the bee’s line of flight. (It is very important that you are exactly 50 yards as this will figure into our equation later)  Jotting this line down on the same map as the bee’s azimuth would now form an “L” with your new position now being at the bottom right edge of the “L”. (We will call this bottom line SIDE “B”).  Now do your best to release just a few bees at a time from your new position and again shoot an azimuth with your compass.  Writing this line down on the map should now give you a right triangle with the right angle being in the base of the “L”. This last line SIDE “C” is the hypotenuse of our right triangle. The angle that you need to figure out is in the bottom inside right corner of your triangle (where you are now standing). We will call this angle “a”.  You can use a protractor on the map to determine this angle (angle “a”).  Once we have the bottom right inside angle of our triangle, we need to do a little math to determine where our new line (SIDE “C”) intersects with our very first line (SIDE “A”). This intersection will be the exact location of the hive.  The formula to figure this is:
SIDE “C”= SIDE “B” / cosine (angle “a”)
So let’s say that we used our protractor on the map and determined that SIDE “C” made a 47 degree angle with SIDE “B”. This means that angle “a” is 47 degrees. We also know that SIDE “B” equals 50 yards.
SIDE “C” = 50 yards / cos (47)
SIDE “C” = 73 yards

Our wild bees are approximately 73 yards from our current position at the point where our last azimuth intersects with our first azimuth.  Now we can bring our bowl to that spot and use our ears and eyes to look for the entrance to the hive. Many old time bee liners claim to hear the hive before they see it.  Now finding the cosine of an angle usually requires a scientific calculator (solar powered scientific calculators are available for five or six dollars). To make life easier, I have created a lookup table that automatically converts the degrees of angle “a” into the exact distance to the hive so no cosine calculation is necessary. This table will only be accurate if you walk exactly 50 yards (150 feet) to form SIDE “B”. I have printed a small version of this table and laminated it to keep in my wallet. The table follows:

 

Once we find our bees we need to don our protective gear. It might be a good time to mention that this should not to be done by anyone with bee sting allergies and I always carry two Epi-Pens with me just in case. A simple Tyvek painter’s suit sold for a few dollars at Home Depot will provide protection that is comparable to most commercial bee suits. Be sure to get the suit with the built in hood. Purchase some nitrile gloves as they are more puncture resistant than either latex or vinyl and are the choice of medical professionals to prevent needle sticks. A simple mosquito head net worn over a ball cap completes the outfit. Many beekeepers remove hives with no protective gear whatsoever but this is not recommended for the novice.  Tie some dry grass together tightly and light it on fire. Extinguish the flames so that it makes smoke. Fan this smoke into the hive entrance. This will trick the bees into thinking their home is on fire and they will immediately gorge themselves with honey in preparation of seeking a new home. This causes the bees to become very docile. Would you want to get into a fistfight after eating Thanksgiving dinner?  At this point, you may need to enlarge the access hole to reach the comb. It is preferable to only remove a portion of the honey and to do it without destroying the colony so that we can come back for more later. Remember that the bees need honey to survive throughout the winter and without sufficient stocks, they will die. This is the equivalent to shooting your cash cow.

Take the honey comb back to process the honey. You can eat it right in the comb or you can employ the crush and strain method. Whichever you do, do it indoors otherwise you will create a swarm of bees all looking to rob your honey.  Crush the comb and strain it through a paint strainer or cheese cloth. Make sure that at least three quarters of your honeycomb is capped. The bees cap the comb once they have the moisture content down to 18% or less. The uncapped portion is still nectar but with a much higher moisture content. Uncapped nectar can be eaten if done right away but it does not store as it will ferment from the natural yeasts that are present. The wax can then be utilized to make everything from candles to lip balm (again, outside the scope of this article).

Some people see the face of God in the clouds.  I see Him in the bees.  They are an amazing gift to us and they have been sustaining man for thousands of years.  God’s Manna from heaven was reputed to have honey in it and the best land was referred to “the land of milk and honey”.  When you realize that one out of every three bites of food you eat is a byproduct of honey bee pollination, you get a picture for how important they are to our sustainment.  Mr. Rawles, please forgive the unabashed plug but if you are interested in learning more about honey bees or about purchasing wild honey you can visit my web site, The Bee Shepherds.

Categories: Barter, Food Storage, Homesteading, Preparedness, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival Skills, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pemmican: The perfect primal stick-to-your-ribs survival food

Here’s my dilemma…

I subscribe to a primal/paleo lifestyle. I don’t have tons of grains stored as most preparedness gurus recommend. Some for extreme emergencies, but not tonnes. I’ve written about my lifestyle choice here, and over on my other blog here. No need to re-hash.

So what’s a preparedness minded, Primal Blueprint groupie like me suppose to store for lean survival times? A must-store, life-sustaining item is pemmican. No refrigeration required, full of hunger stopping fat, long storage life, tasty (with the right seasoning), and easy to make. What’s not to like?

Here’s Mark Sisson’s recipe on how he made pemmican. A simple search (use Startpage - it’s the world’s most private search engine) for pemmican recipes will yield many results. Now, get started rendering that fat!

Source: Mark’s Daily Apple

How to Make Pemmican

rii0lxVihljamur Stefansson, eminent anthropologist and arctic explorer, went on three expeditions into the Alaskan tundra during the first quarter of the 20th century. His discoveries – including the “blond” Inuit and previously uncharted Arctic lands – brought him renown on the world stage. People were fascinated by his approach to travel and exploration, the way he thrust himself fully into the native Inuit cultures he encountered. Stefansson studied their language, adopted their ways, and ate the same food they ate. In fact, it was the diet of the Inuit – fish, marine mammals, and other animals, with almost no vegetables or carbohydrates – that most intrigued him. He noted that, though their diet would be considered nutritionally bereft by most “experts” (hey, nothing’s changed in a hundred years!), the Inuit seemed to be in excellent health, with strong teeth, bones, and muscles. He was particularly interested in a food called pemmican.

Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat (usually beef nowadays, but bison, deer, and elk were common then) which is crushed to a powder and mixed with an equal amount of hot, rendered fat (usually beef tallow). Sometimes crushed, dried berries are added as well. A man could subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy and the protein for strength (and glucose, when needed). The Inuit, Stefansson noted, spent weeks away from camp with nothing but pemmican to eat and snow to drink to no ill effect. Stefansson, a Canadian of Icelandic origin, often accompanied them on these treks and also lived off of pemmican quite happily, so its sustaining powers weren’t due to some specific genetic adaptation unique to the Inuit. In fact, when Stefansson returned home, he and colleague adopted a meat-only diet for a year, interested in its long-term effects. A controlled examination of their experience confirmed that both men remained healthy throughout.

So, pemmican has a reputation as a sort of superfood. While I’m usually leery of such claims, the fact that the stuff is essentially pure fat and protein (plus Stefansson’s accounts) made me think that maybe there was something to it. I set out to make my own batch.

I got about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast, let it firm up in the freezer, then sliced it thin. After adding liberal amounts of salt and pepper, I set the oven to the lowest possible temperature (around 150 degrees) and laid out the strips of meat directly onto the rack. I cracked the oven door to prevent moisture buildup. At this point, I also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.

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I let the meat dry out for about fifteen hours, or until it was crispy jerky that broke apart easily. I tossed the jerky in the food processor until it was powder. After the meat, in went the blueberries to process. Again, you want a powder.

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Now I was ready to render some fat. I used grass-fed bison kidney fat, which was already diced into tiny pieces. I put about half a pound of that into a cast iron pan and cooked it slowly over super-low heat.

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I made sure to stir the fat as it rendered out, and watched closely so that it wouldn’t burn. When the fat stops bubbling, the rendering is done.

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Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.

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Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder.

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I think I poured too much too quickly, so I added a bit of almond meal to firm it up. Let it firm up, then cut it into squares or roll it into a ball. I went with a ball.

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Pemmican will keep almost forever. Pure, dried protein and rendered (mostly saturated) fat are highly stable, so I wouldn’t worry about it going rancid. If it does, you’ll know.

Now, my pemmican wasn’t exactly delicious. In fact, it tasted a bit like bland dog food [SS Note: Try smoking the meat for more flavor]. Maybe I’ll jazz it up next time with some more salt and spices, but I don’t think pemmican is meant to be eaten for pleasure. This is utilitarian food, perfect for long treks through the wilderness. It gets the job done, and I’ll probably make it again. It definitely doesn’t taste bad; in fact, the taste grows on you after awhile.

My dog certainly enjoyed cleaning up the bowl.

Categories: Bushcrafting, DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

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