Survival 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.


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


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.


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!


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: , , , | 2 Comments

The Art of ‘Smoothing It’ in Struggleville

by Todd Walker

Whether physical, mental, or spiritual, your comfort zone is an oasis of low anxiety, little risk, and predictable outcomes. It’s that place which offers protection, real or perceived, from the scary unknowns of life.

Welcome to Struggleville: Now Entering Your Un-Comfort Zone

You’re entitled to comfort, right?

Well, yes, to some degree.

We all have comfort zones and comfort items we’d hate to do without. These places and things are needed for maintenance, rest, and recuperation.

However, they often turn into self-made snares. For some of us, stepping one toe outside our comfort zone would be like passing a kidney stone.

Here’s the thing…

More comfort does not necessarily equate to survivability. We need stretching, bending, tearing, ripping to grow. It’s the struggle, plain and simple, that brings new life. Babies aren’t born without pain.

But, like my bug out bag or bushcraft kit, my philosophy and mindset evolve the more time I spend Doing the Stuff. The process can only happen by entering Struggleville. And yes, Struggleville is an actually “town” in GA.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Struggleville is real!

Metaphorically, Struggleville is the place you live. The place where life is forged – good or bad – peaceful or hectic. The place where kids cry, bosses fire, mistakes are made, and life lessons are caught.

Welcome to Struggleville!

It’s located in the valley, not the mountain top. You’ll never climb your mountain, learn that new skill, or build self-confidence living in your comfort zone.

Here’s the danger of never venturing outside your warm, fuzzy boundaries…

  • You stop growing
  • You stop learning
  • You stop doing

It’s easy to talk yourself into staying put in your comfort zone. You look around at those who have reached optimal success in your field and your tempted to set your bar to their height. They make it look easy. Nothing wrong with aiming high, but your heroes didn’t magically reach the top. They learned to smooth it in Struggleville.

As “Nessmuk” (aka – George Washington Sears) so eloquently wrote in Woodcraft and Camping,

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

Nessmuk was referring to our ability to enjoy the great outdoors. But his statement applies to all areas of preparedness. Learning to smooth it takes practice. Skills aren’t developed by just reading about how to. The smoothing it process requires “dirt time.”

In a survival situation, dirt time pays off. Whether it’s wilderness survival or homesteading, you must trade theory for action. The only way to get dirt time is by Doing the Stuff!

Here’s my latest project.

The idea came from a video by Chris Kane on Pathfinder TV on how to build a semi-permanent trapping shelter. Cool project! I decided I needed one for base camp. It’s a weekend project I work on when I get a chance.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Frame almost complete. It will sleep two comfortably with room for gear.


The overhang on the front was made from 32″ poles lashed to the ridge beam.


Here are the main tools used to construct the shelter: (L to R) limb saw in black sheath, almost free ax I re-helved, and a Wetterlings belt ax. Other tools used but not pictured are my Swiss Army Knife (for lashings), Bacho Laplander folding saw, and a WWII trench shovel.

Also, I used 36# tarred bank line for lashing material. I’ll probably re-lash the main frame with a more robust natural fiber rope.


Wild grape-vine is woven between the lean-to poles for stability and to help hold debris on top. I’ll use a tarp on top of a layer of pine bows for the roofing. Then I plan to cover the tarp with debris.

As Nessmuk wrote, we don’t go to the woods to rough it, we go to smooth it. And we learn the art of smoothing it by going to Struggleville.

I’ll update you with my first night in the shelter. Ought to be a blast!

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliant, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

7 Tips to Keep You Alive and Found in the Wilderness

by Todd Walker

Get out there!

Spend enough time with Mother Nature and you’ll likely experience emergencies.

7 Tips to Keep You Alive and Found in the Wilderness

Things went right this trip.

Even the most innocent outings are potential survival situations. That fishing trip can turn nasty for all the wrong reasons. Your day hike may find you sleeping under the stars with a busted knee.

Always carry a minimal what-if emergency kit. With these tools, a survival mind-set, and Doing the Stuff skills, you increase your odds of staying alive and being found.

A.) Mindset Training

No matter the crisis or survival situation, your ability to come out on the other side alive is largely dependent upon your attitude. Recognizing that there will be added stress – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual – is your first step.

Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands. – Seneca the Younger

All your other skills will be affected by your mindset. Obviously, the more skills and knowledge you have, the more comfortable you’ll be when starting a fire to stay warm when your lost in the wilderness. Being collected enough to start a fire not only provides physical life support but boosts morale.

The more you practice skills, the more you’re attitude improves. Doing the Stuff beforehand keeps panic at bay.

B.) There’s No “I” in Team

This clever slogan adorns team t-shirts and locker room walls in the world of sport. Unfortunately, the saying won’t work on surv”I“val. There it sits, smack dab in the middle of the word!

In some cases, “I” is all you have. This scenario requires you to be a team of one – without a camera crew filming or emergency personnel standing by. You’ll have to survive on your wits and create your own ‘luck.’

C.) Resilient First Aid

Injuries happen. A scrap becomes infected. A misstep twists your ankle. Now you’ve become the doctor. All the more reason to pack a basic first aid kit. Learning basic first aid builds resilience.

The larger threat in wilderness survival situations is hypothermia and hyperthermia. Getting cold and wet leads to hypothermia. You’re ability to make sound decisions is reduced when your body’s core temp drops.

D.) Improvised Emergency Shelter

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Mother Nature is temperamental. She likes to see how much hell you can handle while visiting her “house.”

Humans aren’t built for prolonged exposure to nature’s elements. We require shelter. We may stumble upon a cave if one is available. But one advantage we have over our furry critter friends is our ability to use logic and reason to survive.

Any crisis over a couple of hours in wet, cold conditions will likely escalate into a life-threatening setting. Shelter is more important than water in this case. Humans can only go three hours without shelter. Having experience in building emergency shelter can save your life. If you’re caught without a piece of plastic or a tarp, you’ll have to improvise and use what nature provides.

Here’s some ways to build a temporary ‘home’ in the wilderness…

E.) Fire

7 Tips to Keep You Alive and Found in the Wilderness

The fire triangle

The ability to make fire is everything in the wilderness. This skill aids in cooking, purifying, heating, signaling, security, and comfort. Fire affects all your other physical and emotional steps to survival and rescue.

Fire is life!

F.) Signaling Rescuers

This one doesn’t get much attention but may be your best hope of being found alive. A series of 3 of anything (sound or visual) let’s search and rescue know you’re in distress. Three whistle blasts, rocks, logs, and/or fires. Use fire at night and smoke during the day. Be sure not to set the surrounding forest ablaze.

If you want to be found, leave a trail or signs for search and rescue. Leave a bandana or strip of cloth hanging from branches if ground rescue is involved. Also build arrows with natural or man-made material to indicate your travel direction.

For ground-to-air rescue, find an opening or clearing and create large signals with straight lines and 90 degree angles or circles. Use logs or rocks that contrast with the background. Build a log cabin fire setup with dry tinder and fuel in the bottom and green leafy material on top that will produce lots of smoke. Fire it up when you hear airplanes or helicopters.

Number Message Code Symbol
1 Require Assistance V
2 Require Medical Assistance X
3 Proceeding in this Direction
4 Yes or Affirmative Y
5 No or Negative N

The above chart indicates to rescue how to proceed. Use any available contrasting material to make these symbols a minimum of 3 feet wide and 18 feet long to alert aircraft.

Shiny Object Signaling

A signaling mirror or any shiny object will work to alert pilots. Reflected sunlight can be seen for several miles. For more details on signaling with shiny objects, Creek Stewart shows you how to improvise here.

Always leave the 3 W’s with a trusted friend or family member:

  1. Where you’re going
  2. When you plan on returning
  3. Who’s in your group.

[I intentionally left water and food out of this post. Well, to be honest, I'm running short on time and don't have the energy to cover these in this post. :) We'll chew on these later.]

Keep Doing the Stuff!


You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook pageThanks 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, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Deconstructing My Survival Slingshot

by Todd Walker

Ben left a comment requesting details on how to make the Survival Sling Shot I shared in August.

Thanks for your interest, Ben. Here ya go!

Step 1: You need a basic wrist rocket sling shot to start.

You can find them at box stores for cheap or yard sales even cheaper. They usually come with a yellowish colored surgical tube band. Purchase a black band and replace the one that came with your sling shot. The black ones are stronger and offer more power on your draw.

Step 2: Fabricate a piece of lightweight metal (aluminum) about an inch wide. I used a scavenged bracket from a bleacher. Bend the strip at a 90 degree angle at the 3 inch mark on one end.

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Aluminum bracket for mounting the line spool

Create a notch on the short end of the bend that will fit between the bar and plastic handle of your sling shot.

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Tweak the notch until it fits snuggly

Pre-drill two holes in the bracket and plastic handle and mount it with screws to the weapon.

Step 3: Build your line spool from a 5 to 6 inch long piece of PVC pipe (1 inch diameter). Glue a cap to one end. Drill a 1/8 inch hole in the center of the other cap that will accept a 1 inch long bolt.

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Mounting bolt attached to cap

Insert the bolt from the inside of this cap and secure it to the cap with a lock washer and nut.

Drill a matching hole in the top of your aluminum bar to accept the bolt. Attach the line spool cap to the bar with a wing nut and lock washer – thumb tight.

You can fill the line spool tube with small items you might need, like fire starter and repair glue to change arrow tips. Don’t forget to include a small Bic lighter.

Now dry fit the spool onto the mounted cap. Don’t glue this end. Use tape to hold the cap on the pipe so you can access the goodies inside the spool when needed.

Step 4: Wind several feet of nylon line around the spool. I notched a small groove near the unglued cap end and tied a simple loop to begin my spool. Use duct tape to secure the line on the spool.

Wrap the line around the spool until you have enough. Not too bulky, but enough. You’ll always have extra cordage with you when needed.

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Attach a fishing leader to the end of your line. Burn the loose end to prevent unraveling. I used a velcro strip to keep the line from peeling off during storage. A rubber band would work too. This is where I attach the line to my arrow when sling shot fishing. (Check game and fishing regulations in your state before using this to harvest animals or fish)

Step 5: Attach a Whisker Biscuit for your arrow rest between the arms of your sling with wire ties. If done properly, you can make the arrow rest fold down to allow you to shot ball bearings or small pebbles from your sling.

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Whisker Biscuit

Step 6: You can modify a carbon arrow with a fishing tip, field tip, or broad head. Here’s a look at my mods on my fishing tip.

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Fishing tip with line attached and glued

The line runs from end to end of the arrow and attached with hot melt archery glue. (Keep the glue stick inside the spool tube for storage).

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Golf tee inserted for a nock

I removed the standard nock and glued a golf tee in its place. This gives a better gripping surface in the leather sling pouch when you draw your sling shot. This step is not necessary, but adds to the overall project.

To use for fishing, attach the leader from your spool to the line on your arrow. Load your arrow in the arrow rest, and you’re ready to go fishing!

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Sho

I’ve got a couple of arrows in my sling shot quiver for different applications. My next project will be to make a take-down arrow to fit inside my kit.

Hope this helps, Ben. Let me know if you have questions or need more details.

Keep doing the stuff!


P.S. ~ As always, if anything from this site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook pageThanks 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, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Finding and Creating Heat Sources in the Wilderness

Editor’s note: Today we have a guest post from Kent Page McGroarty from Even in the summer heat, staying warm and dry is an important topic.

Finding and Creating Heat Sources in the Wilderness

by Kent Page McGroarty

Light my fire!

Light my fire!

Finding yourself alone in the wilderness is certainly panic-inducing, but best to stay as calm as possible and set about finding water, building a shelter, looking for food and keeping warm. Perhaps one of the toughest aspects of wilderness survival other than staying off of bear trails is remaining warm. Check out a few tips for staying warm and dry while waiting for rescue!


One of the best and most obvious ways to keep yourself warm is to build a fire. The ability to create a good-sized flame will also prevent animals and insects from getting too curious. If you have any paper and matches on your person, you’ll be able to start a fire easily so long as you have access to dry wood. There are many options for creating fire if you do not have these items, such as the friction method or the flint and steel method, though note that such methods require a whole lot of patience.


While fire is arguably the best way to keep warm in the wilderness, you’ll want to build your shelter first so strong wind guests don’t destroy what you’ve just created. This is especially  important if you’re already low on matches, are down to your last lighter, or have spent the last hour rubbing sticks together. The shelter doesn’t have to be fancy; if nothing else place a few good-sized logs and branches up against a rock or tree and bind them together with vine materials. However, insulation is essential. Think moss, leaves, grass, dirt and any other dry debris you can pack along shelter walls. It’s very, very hard to stay warm when you’re wet, after all! You’ll also want to make the shelter as small as possible so you can use body heat to keep the space warm.


Another way to remain warm is through dry bedding. Make your pallet as thick as possible, and don’t forget to use dry debris only to avoid a bone-chilling dampness. Start with a thick layer of dry dirt before piling on leaves, grass and thick moss. A thick bed means protection from the cold, hard ground.

Shelter Placement Tips

Where you decide to construct your shelter also plays into how warm it will be. If possible, stick to areas that receive a lot of heat. If there’s large boulders and rocks around, make your shelter against one as boulders absorb heat and will help keep you warm and dry. Spaces featuring lots of natural protection such as vines and trees are also ideal options and will contribute towards shelter insulation. It’s preferable to create the shelter in an area that is easily seen for rescue purposes. A piece of bright clothing or other applicable material tied to the shelter will help rescuers find you as well.

Remember the most important part of staying warm in the wilderness is staying dry!

Kent Page McGroarty is a blogger for Check out more of her wilderness survival tips on the Survivalbased blog


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Board Game That Could Save Your Life

As a teacher, the importance of play in learning cannot be overstated. Sadly, we’re not allowed to have fun in government schooling anymore. Interest-led learning is out – Procrustean bed style schooling is practiced.

The Crunchy Mama’s review of Wildcraft! reverses the notion that learning is boring. Whether you’re into survival and preparedness or not, this board game is a great way to introduce kids and adults to the world of wild food foraging. It might even save you one day!


Wildcraft! board game — an excellent and fun introduction to wild edibles and medicinal plants


Good day, friends!  I want to share with you today my review of a board game that introduces children and adults to wild edible and medicinal plants.  The board game is called Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game created by Kimberly Gallagher with herbalist John Gallagher and artist Beatriz Mendoza.  I purchased this game 2 months ago and I receive no monetary benefit by recommending this product to you.

I wanted to write this post because my family is wild about Wildcraft!  I don’t have to twist my children’s arms to play it — they ask us to play it and they have shared their enthusiasm for the game with others (such as Nana and cousins).  Actually, my two oldest realized that they can play without mommy or daddy and play it at least once a week on their own.

Of course, their enthusiasm is not the top reason that I take the time to write this post for you.  The subject of the game, wild edible and medicinal plants, and this terrific approach to learning them is the top reason.  I have written several posts on wild edibles (1234) because I am enthusiastic about fresh, local, nutritious and free food; I desire to share my first-hand knowledge of wild edibles with you because I believe that you might share or acquire my enthusiasm for wild edibles.  I use herbs for health and specific ailments and have done so for the past 6 years or so but I would not call myself an herbalist or herb expert.  Of course, I always want to learn more and I pick up herbal knowledge here and there, as needed.

As with other things of importance in life, I want to teach my children about wild edible and medicinal plants.  My oldest (who is 8 years old as of this writing) can identify quite a few wild edibles and he, like his mother, loves to share with others his wild edible knowledge :)  Wildcraft! board game is a great way to reinforce the things that we have already learned as well as to learn even more.

I’ve created a 3-minute video to introduce you to the game.  It’s here:

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My middle son (age 6) really enjoys the game for the “adventure” of the game, the matching aspect, the cooperation aspect, and, like the Gallagher’s children as explained here, the shortcuts and slides of the game.  I love the fact that they are learning the names and pictures of useful wild plants.  For families who have no or little previous experience with using wild plants, it gives an introduction to the concept that nature provides plants to help us stay healthy, to heal our wounds and ailments and to meet our nutritional needs.  Unfortunately, many children and adults in our “fast food and drug store” culture have never been exposed to those ideas.  For various reasons, many people from that culture decide to pursue a more natural path for their health and well-being.  This game is a terrific help for newbies to learn some of the wild edible and medicinal plants that nature provides.

While I do really love the game, there is one thing that I was disappointed in.  The game does not teach any specifics on how the plants can be used to cure ailments or to fulfill hunger.  One of the top things about eating wild edibles is learning which part of the plant you can eat, at what stage in development you can eat it, and how to properly prepare it (i.e. does it need to be boiled in 3 changes of water?).  Some plants have edible and toxic parts so it is vital that you know those things.  It’s the same with medicinal plants.  You must know which part is safe to use, how to prepare the part, how to use the part (i.e. is it safe to ingest or can it only be applied externally?), and how much to use.  The creators do acknowledge this and have provided a lot of freebies (e-books including a cookbook and a 10-video beginning herbal lesson series) to help you learn how to use the plants to meet your health needs.  I personally went through the 10-video herbal lesson, learned from it and enjoyed it.

The price is $37.00.  For some, that price might seem a bit high for “just a game”.  I certainly  understand.  For our one-income family, it was money well-spent.  We will continue to enjoy playing this game, learning better and better how wild edible and medicinal plants can help us.  And we will continue to learn the deeper learning material offered as freebies including a monthly herbal newsletter.

If you are on the fence about spending that much on a game, here is some great news — they guarantee that you will love Wildcraft! or they will refund your money AND you can keep the game!

Even if you do not have children in your life, as long as you have another person who is also interested in learning wild edible and medicinal plants, I highly recommend that you get and play the game together and, of course, learn and start using the plants in your cooking and for your minor ailments.  Of course, if you are on prescription drugs, you should consult with your physician to make sure that the herbs that you are interested in incorporating into your “medicine chest” will not cause you problems.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, they are sold out of the game.  Their website indicates that they will have more by the fall (2013) and that you can enter your email address to be notified when the game is again in stock and available for purchase.  The space to enter your email address is at the bottom of the webpage.

If you have purchased this game, I’d love to hear what you think of the game!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  If you like what you’ve read, please consider subscribing via email or by following me on Twitter or YouTube (where I upload videos more often than I post on my blog).

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 @thecrunchymama, YouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.


Categories: Herbal Remedies, Real Food, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Knoppix Thumb Drive (KTD) Project

Claire Wolfe over at Living Freedom sent me an email last night around 10:00. Of course, I’d been sleeping for an hour and a half when it hit my inbox. A reader of hers, Scott, has a project going that will put 600 + preparedness documents in a thumb drive. Don’t know if you can get one by Christmas for stocking stuffing, but I’m ordering one today.

Like Dirt Road Girl, Scott is fighting cancer. He’s working to put a little (very little) extra money into his pocket with this project. If you’re so inclined, get one ordered today. I have no financial interest in Scott’s project. I just love preparedness and support folks who show initiative, love liberty, and build self-reliance. I’ve added Claire’s post about the project below. To order, just follow the links.

Still doing the stuff,



Practical preparedness essential; everybody should have this

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The first entry in our “Two Weeks of Sanity” was inspirational. Now for the practical. Not just the practical — the essential.

You already know about the DIY Knoppix Thumb Drive Preparedness Project dreamed up by Mark/Greylocke. It puts 600+ preparedness documents at your fingertips — bootable on nearly any USB-capable computer. Carryable in an emergency. Great for a bug-out bag or any prepper stash. The only catch: it’s been a do-it-yourself project (and I confess, beyond the likes of me).

Reader Scott said he’d like to set up a mini-business supplying ready-made KTD drives. And with Greylocke’s cooperation, he’s done it.

Now, for just $10 above the cost of the thumb drive itself, you can get a ready-made bootable drive with vast amounts of preparedness/survival information on it. Just $30. Postpaid. For all that.

Scott’s making one for me right now.

For the few dollars extra, I hope you’ll send some business to Scott. Who went through a lot to set this up. Who has cancer. And who’s a dedicated reader of this blog. Besides, the DIY version is WERK!

Everybody should have one — or two or three — KTDs stashed various places. And how about telling prepper friends and neighbors about them, also?

NFI on my part. And frankly, not all that much FI on Scott’s, considering the amount of work involved.

You want an effective way to fight the bastards? Be ready not to need the bastards.


Categories: Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Manuals, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Video Vault of Retreat Preparedness

Hat tip to John Rourke at Modern Survival Online for graciously allowed me to share this massive video vault with our followers. This section deals with retreat preparedness and comes from the YouTube channel of southernprepper1. Enjoy.

Retreat Preparedness

Files related to all aspects of a survival & preparedness retreat – from defense and security to stocking with sufficient supplies.


- – – Articles – – -



- – – Books/Manuals/Guides – – -

- – – Video’s – – -

Below are many videos that come from a YouTube Channel – southernprepper1. Southerprepper1 places and emphasis on preparing for a WROL (without rule of law) situation and quite often focus’s on preparing for such an occurrence in a retreat. The information is vast and second to none.

Here are the southerprepper1 videos (oldest to newest):

Up to date as of 8/13/2011

Read the rest here


Categories: DIY Preparedness, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Direction at Night Using the North Star

Source: Sensible Survival

It is not a good idea to travel at night in the wilderness unless you are in desert terrain, but night-time is a good time to orient yourself and figure out directions.  In the Northern Hemisphere the North Star (Polaris) has been used for thousands of years to establish which direction is north.  Contrary to popular belief, the North Star is not the brightest star in the night sky.  In fact there are forty-seven stars that are brighter than the North Star, so we must use some method other than brightness to locate the North Star.  The North Star is at the end of the handle of the constellation we call the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor).  Unfortunately, the stars of the little dipper are not very bright, and this constellation can be difficult to locate.  Two easily identifiable constellations will help you locate the North Star.  One of these is the constellation that we call the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).  If you draw a straight line through the two stars at the end of the cup in the dipper (called the pointer stars), the line will point toward the North Star.  The distance to the North Star is about five times the distance between the two pointer stars.
Depending on the time of night, the month of the year, and your own latitude; the Big Dipper may not be visible to you.  If this is the case you can look for the constellation Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia also revolves around the North Star and is located on the opposite side of the North Star from the Big Dipper.  Cassiopeia looks like the letter “W” or the letter “M” depending on where it is in its path around the North Star.
Once you have located the North Star you can take a sharp stick and draw a line on the ground.  Draw the line from where you are standing so that it points toward the north.  Label the end of the line that points toward the star with an “N”.  Label the other end of the line with an “S”.  Now draw another line that crosses your north/south line at a ninety degree angle.  As you face the north, the right end of your second line will be pointing to the east.  Label it with an “E”.  Label the other end of this line with a “W”.  Now get a good night’s sleep and when you wake up in the morning you will have a compass drawn on the ground that will help you get started in the direction you want to travel.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Maintaining a Straight Course in the Wilderness

Source: Sensible Survival

 Of course the best way to stay on course in the wilderness is with a compass, but you may be in a circumstance where you need to travel through the wilderness and you don’t have a compass.  You would think that traveling in a straight line would be an easy thing, but it is not.  It is very common for people who are lost in the wilderness to walk in circles.  If you think this would not apply to you, try the following experiment:
1. Go out into a large field, parking lot, or other unobstructed area.  It’s a really good idea to have a friend with you to stop you from running into something or walking out into the street.
2. Take a sighting on an object or landmark on the opposite side of the field.
3. Put on a blindfold and walk in a straight line toward your landmark.
4. When you take the blindfold off, I guarantee that you will be nowhere near your goal.
You see everyone has one leg that is a little shorter than the other, and everyone has one leg that is a little stronger than the other.  The difference in the stride of your right leg and your left leg may be tiny, but over the course of thousands of steps it is enough to cause you to move in a curved path.  Eventually you will curve all the way around and end up back where you started.
The only way to stay on a straight course without a compass is to use landmarks.  You need to begin your journey from a recognizable landmark, sight on a distant landmark, and walk toward it.  Turn back on a regular basis and note the location of your starting landmark.  When you reach your goal, look back to the landmark that you started from, then turn to the front and select another landmark that will keep you moving in the same direction.   This method will work over long distances if the country is fairly open.
If you are in dense forest you can use the same method on a much smaller scale, sighting from tree to tree in a straight line.  It is time consuming, but not as time consuming as walking for two days only to end up back where you started from.
Legend has it that the early Spanish explorers could only cross the vast, treeless plains of North Texas by driving stakes in the ground and sighting from stake to stake in order to keep a straight course.  This is supposedly where the name of this region, the “Staked Plains”, came from.  I doubt if this legend is true because compasses were widely used by this time, and I can’t imagine a large expedition that would be without one; but it makes a good story, and it would be a very practical way to cross an area with no natural landmarks.
Categories: Bushcraft, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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