6 No-Drama Survival Tips for a Clothed and Confident Summer

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

6 No-Drama Survival Tips for a Clothed and Confident Summer

It’s Summertime! A season where families and friends hit the trails and waterways for hikes, boating, and outdoor adventures. Sounds fun, right?

But here’s the thing…

Well over half of all survival scenarios occur on short outings in the woods or on the water. One wrong turn and you’re lost. Or an ankle sprain hobbles your partner. Your two-hour day hike turns into an over-nighter. Fly fishing that river in your canoe becomes a survival trip after a late-day thunder-storm.

Have you seen the Naked and Afraid show on TV? Apparently, people volunteer to be hurled into a jungle or tropical island with only one tool and their birthday suit.

My only question is… WHY?

I get it. Survival TV is a booming bonanza for network executives. But quite frankly, some of the drama on these shows will get you killed!

When was the last time you took a day hike naked? You may add color to your butt cheeks, but it’s neither realistic nor smart. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around a scenario in the wild where I would voluntarily spend twenty or so days without clothing.

Wait! Just thought of one. Maybe a mischievous woods gnome hides in the brush to snatch my clothing while I skinny dip in the creek (now that is realistic and enjoyable!). A gnome stealing my clothes would happen before I’d voluntarily leave my protective clothing at home. But I digress.

To make it out alive during an unexpected survival scenario, you need every advantage available. Here are my top tips to remain clothed and confident on your next outdoor adventure this summer.

Note: I can’t lie. I stole the phrase “clothed and confident” from a fellow bushcrafter (grierwolf) on his excellent Youtube channel. He’s working on a whole series of videos to debunk or confirm the drama portrayed on the many survival TV shows, survival blogs, and video channels. I love that he’s trading theory for real-life action!

You can check out his entire Clothed and Confident series by clicking this link.

How to Have a Clothed and Confident Summer

1.) Clothing (Capt. Obvious here)

Or the lack of appropriate clothing and footwear. Those new hiking boots you’ve never tested in the field could become your Achilles heel. Think of the painful blisters that may become infected and hobble your chances of self-rescue. You can’t grin and bear bad shoes! Test and break in new footwear before heading out.

Wear appropriate clothing to protect you from the sun’s blistering rays and extreme conditions. Due to a skin condition, I wear a wide-brimmed hat when in the field. I also wear a buff around my neck with built-in UV protection. Know your individual needs and environment before heading out.

2.) Water

sawyer squeeze water filter

Sawyer Squeeze and 32 oz. Pathfinder bottle kit

Have multiply methods to make water potable. At over 8 pounds per gallon, you can’t carry enough water in your backpack to keep you hydrated on multi-day treks. At a bare minimum, you need a metal container and a way to make fire to boil water for disinfection.

Commercial filters are available and weigh next to nothing. I’ve become very fond of the Sawyer water filter. Whatever you choose, become proficient with your method. Summer heat saps your body of hydration goodness. You’ll need more than you think if your ever have to self-rescue!

3.) Fitness

Know your limitations. Loving a good challenge is one thing. However, taking adventures that are not in line with your physical condition or fitness level is an invitation for disaster.

Once fatigue crawls on your back like an angry gorilla, you’re more prone to serious injury and bad decisions. There are no short cuts or magic pills to increase your physical conditioning. Time, effort, sweat, and soreness are involved. Your outdoor ambitions should line up with your skill/fitness level.

More of our health and fitness articles can be found here, and here.

4.) Planning

Being lost in an unfamiliar wilderness or body of water kills the fun factor. Always leave a written itinerary of your adventure with a trusted friend or family member before the journey.

Your plan should include at least these three W’s:

  • Where and when you’re headed out. Including a map of the trails and area would be very useful to a search and rescue team.
  • When you plan to return. A written itinerary isn’t much good if your family knows where you are but have no clue when to expect your back. If they think you’re camping for a week, when you really only planned a two-day outing, the extra five days could leave you in a world of hurt.
  • Who and how many are in your group. Are there any special needs in the group (age, special needs, health conditions, male/female, etc.). If rescuers are tracking you or your group, this info would be very valuable.

5.) Weather

More people die of hypothermia in the summer than in the winter. This is probably due to people not being prepared to control their core temperature on hot summer days. Hypothermia begins when the human body’s core temperature drops below 95º F.

If you have to hunker down to wait out a storm on a ridge, know the enemies of thermoregulation…

  • Wind
  • Cold
  • Moisture

My brother-in-law and I were caught in a thunderstorm on a large lake in my small Jon boat years ago. We saw signs of the gathering storm and headed back to the truck which was located two miles away. We couldn’t outrun the storm with my 7.5 horse powered engine and almost capsized hitting the 3 foot wind tossed waves.

The July heat in Georgia hit the mid 90′s before that storm. By the time we made it to the boat ramp, we were soaked and shivering – an early sign of hypothermia. We weren’t prepared for unpredictable weather or the bone-chilling cold that followed.

Take along some type of covering like an emergency space blanket or contractor trash bag on short fishing trips or day hikes. A more substantial cover (tarp/tent) would be warranted on overnight trips in the outdoors. Being drenched from a summer thunder-storm may be refreshing at first but can lead to hypothermia in extended situations. The key here is to be prepared for thermoregulation. Lightweight plastic can be folded to fit inside a tackle box or pant pocket without adding much weight.

6.) Pride

“It can’t happen to me” attitude gets people killed. The more I learn about any subject the more I realize how much I don’t know. The moment we know it all is the most dangerous time.

Stay humble, my friends!

And keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

For those unfamiliar with the term Functional Fitness, FF connects fitness to real-life function. Or another way to look at FF is fitness for the tasks you perform or may one day have to perform. In a general preparedness mindset, I practice functional fitness because it’s fun and build skills.

Another cool part of functional fitness is that you don’t have to pay for a gym membership to get in shape. Use the simple machines around your house or shop to prep your body for Doing the Stuff of self-reliance. In the spirit of saving money on gym memberships and the newest fitness equipment, I give you The Wild Woodsman Workout. By the way ladies, it’s not just for men. :)

The Wild Woodsman Workout

Though I have a bodyweight workout I follow, I wanted to up my game for a specific task – a wilderness survival school next month. I devote time in the woods (dirt time) practicing self-reliance, survival, and bushcraft skills but this is different. Will I have the endurance, strength (mental and physical), stamina to finish the course? We shall see.

Equipment Needed

  • Ax – a sharp one!
  • Wood – preferably in the woods.
  • Backpack – if you’re have access to a wild area.
  • Saw – buck saw, folding saw, limb saw, or crosscut saw.
  • Water – hydration before, during, and after the workout.
  • Insect repellant
  • Footwear – boots

Cut the Core

Any swinging motion done properly works your core muscles. Find a recently downed tree. Older dead falls are likely to be too rotted. [For urban dwellers, a local park will do] If your decently fit now, I recommend selecting a hardwood with dense fibers (oak or hickory). For my workout equipment, I selected a large Beech tree uprooted by March storms.

If you’re not familiar with ax safety, STOP right here! Learn the basics of cutting wood with an ax before proceeding. Until you learn this skill, substitute a sledge hammer for the ax and bang 0n an old tire in the backyard – which is an excellent workout in and of itself. You won’t see wood chips flying with the hammer, but you won’t cut off your leg or foot.

Here’s a helpful video by Dave Canterbury if you’re new to swinging a cutting tool.

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/A7ylTAH9aLE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

First, tuck your pant legs into your boots and lace them snuggly. Apply insect repellant to clothing and exposed skin. Deet-free sprays are available. A commercial brand I use and find effective is Naturapel. I’m still working on my DiY formula.

Now grab your pack and gear and hike to your fallen tree. Carrying a loaded pack (mine weighs 25#) serves as your warm up exercise.

Ideally, your tree will be laying on flat ground. There’s not many perfect situations in the wild. My tree was on a steep hill. Find a firm footing, cut away any obstructions in the swing path of the ax, and let the chips fly.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

On the backstroke!

I set up on a portion of a limb that was about 10 inches in diameter. Your skill and fitness level will determine the diameter to cut (This comes into play later in the workout). Try to swing at a safe, steady rate until you sever the limb/tree. Take breaks as needed. Fatigue leads to sloppiness and puts you at risk for a stupid injury.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Chopping up hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

After cutting through one end, being on a steep slope, I cut two 4′ stakes (2″ in diameter) from the smaller end of this limb, sharpened them, and drove them into the ground to prevent the log from shifting downhill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Stake the log on the downhill side if you’re on a slope.

Now you’re ready to cut a section from the log.

A note on cutting tools. The ax I used was my True Temper Kelly Perfect I restored recently. On the second cut I noticed the head was loose on the handle. I figured I could make it through the cut and add a wedge when I got home. Nope. It broke. Make sure you check your equipment regularly and fix what needs fixing. In a survival situation, I’d been up the creek without an ax!

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

And this wasn’t a mis-hit.

I intentionally brought my limb saw and I’m glad I did. Saw from underneath a notched log to relieve pressure and prevent binding. The sawing motion was an added bonus to the workout. Push-pull-push transfers to bow drill fires and the companies tug-of-war event.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Finishing the second cut with my saw.

It’s hot and humid in Georgia. Hydrate before, during, and after your workout!

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Water break at base camp!

Lift Heavy Stuff

Congrats on successfully cutting timber! Now you have a new piece of workout equipment.

Stand it on end and place your shoulder about midway on the log. Grip the bottom end with your hands in a squatting position with your back as straight as possible. Use your legs and hips to lift the log onto your shoulders. Beech happens to have a very smooth outer bark which makes your next exercise easy on the neck and shoulder. I’d recommend de-barking logs with rough bark. Use your ax or bring along a draw knife for this job.

Maintain your balance and haul it to your next station. My leg-destroying station is in the creek bottom just down the hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Squats on the rocks!

How many squats should you do? Depends on your present fitness level. I did 2 sets of 10. Keep your back straight, feet about shoulder width apart, head up looking straight ahead. Thighs should be parallel to the ground at the bottom of the squat.

Haul Heavy Stuff

Drop the log and drink water. Shoulder the log and walk up a hill if one is available. You never know when you may be called upon to haul a buddy to safety. This doesn’t replicate the rescue exactly but will light your calves and quads on fire.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Uphill gets more for your money.

Walk down and repeat five times. There’s no set distance. Do what you can do.

Jump Stuff

Plyometrics are awesome for developing explosiveness. For this one, find a stump, rock, park bench (for urban jungles), or fallen tree trunk. My equipment was too high for me to do straight up plyometrics – jumping from the ground over the top of the obstacle and back down again like a pommel horse.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Nature’s pommel horse.

I did about 10 reps of jumping over the tree from side to side…

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans WorkoutMight as well throw in a few push ups on the log while you’re there!

Primal Pool Dip

After a long Father’s Day morning workout, a woodsman needs to cool down. No better way to do this than to get all primal and jump in the creek! Grok on!! Not advisable in your city park. :)

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Checking for ticks and other creepy-crawlies. Found one!

 

The purpose of functional fitness is to prepare your body and mind for real-life tasks. It’s not about counting reps and bench pressing the world but more about training your body for situations you’re likely to encounter in daily life. An added bonus is the mental and emotional satisfaction gained from Doing the Stuff of self-reliance with simple tools and makeshift equipment.

Could you fireman’s carry a family member to safety – or split firewood without hydraulic equipment – or hoe that long row in your garden without having a stroke? You may never have to prove your worth in this regard but what if’s do happens.

Keep Doing the Stuff of self-reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Functional Fitness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

50+ Dumpster Diva Hacks that Convert Waste to Wealth

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

possum mentality will lead people to think you’re cheap. In our propped up economy, I call it industrious, resourceful, and plain smart. Why buy stuff with hard-earned cash when other people’s trash is everywhere?

Over 50 Dumpster Diva Hacks to Convert Waste to Wealth

Dumpster diving is certainly NOT above the members of our Doing the Stuff Network. These resourceful folks embody the Dumpster Diva mentality. In fact, repurposing or up-cycling everyday items is an integral part of homesteading, prepping, bushcrafting, back-to-basics living, and emergency first aid.

Once you catch the Dumpster Diva bug, you’ll view dumpsters as treasure chests! I’m sure our handlers have pesky prohibitions against this uncivilized pursuit – so dumpster dive at your own risk. Ask permission from business owners before taking what you think is trash. Especially when prowling for pallets. Most businesses recycle pallets and consider taking without permission theft.

But here’s the thing…

You don’t have to actually dig in dumpsters to repurpose stuff. Up-cycle, repurpose, and re-trash are trendy terms for what our grandparents did to get through hard times. Use it up, wear it out, and then find another use for the item other than its intended purpose.

Check out the projects below and get in touch with your trashy side.

Dumpster Diving for Self-reliance

1.) Cheap to Free Stuff

That metal DVD rack collecting dust could be repurposed to feed rabbits.

Grace (DST Networker) up-cycled a 25 cent yard sale find to dispense hay in her rabbit hutch.

Grace (DST Networker) up-cycled a 25 cent yard sale find to dispense hay in her rabbit hutch.

She could have dumped several dollars at the local feed and seed but went all Dumpster Diva and made an unconventional – yet functional – rabbit feeder.

2.) Landfill Love

Michael, my brother from another mother, found an 18 foot long tent and other items he repurposed from the local landfill.

Landfill Love

I think his best up-cycling miracle performed was when his gas tank on his old Datsun pickup ruptured. He ran a gas line from a gallon gas can to his engine with the can sitting inside the hood of his truck. A fire hazard? Yes. But he had to drive to work and this was a short-term fix. Might come in handy in a bug out scenario. Redneck genius!

3.) Billboards

You didn’t hear me wrong. Large tarps are expensive but have endless uses around a homestead…

  • Protect equipment from weather
  • Wind block
  • Shade animals
  • Ground cloth
  • Roofing, etc., etc.
Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

A shot of my 14′ x 40′ tarp from my shop roof

I bought a 14′ by 40′ billboard for $14 a few months ago. A portion was used as a roof for my trapping shelter (personal space). A few of our readers have scored free tarps by just asking the work crew for old billboards!

4.) Pallets

With a little sweat equity, free wood for projects around your homestead, yard, handicrafts, or house can be found in wooden shipping pallets. No disassembling required for some projects. Here’s some DiY pallet projects from around the web to get your mind geared to repurpose…

I love it when people start trading theory for action! Resilient Man emailed the first steps of his journey to self-reliance and active resilience. He’s getting his hands dirty using pallets to build a chicken coop.

5.) Containers

Without becoming an obsessive compulsive hoarder, you can turn waste into wealth. The key here is to organize waste to prevent your house from becoming a death trap of trash.

The plastic five gallon bucket may be the most under appreciated prep item ever… until you need one and none are to be found. Ever tried to create your own containers from raw materials? Not an easy task! That goes double for glass.

Keep your wine bottles, mason jars, and other glass items. For an unusual use of mason jars, check out our post on Mason Jar Oil Lamps. They make Healthy Fast Food meals as well!

6.) Think Before You Toss Everyday Items

Here’s a round-up from a few of my Prepared Blogger friends who can help you take dumpster diving, repurposing, and up-cycling to new levels.

7.) First Aid/Medical

Lizzie over at Underground Medic put together Ten unconventional additions to your emergency medical kit worth checking out.

If you haven’t discovered the many survival uses for duct tape yet, The Survival Doctor (Dr. James Hubbard) wrote an entire book on how to use duct tape for medical emergencies - Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together

The Dumpster Diva Award goes to…

One of our amazing members of the Doing the Stuff Network is now crowned Dumpster Diva! She and her husband are building a homestead house (Earthship) out of old tires!

Earthship house being built by a Doing the Stuff Networker

Dumpster Diva’s house in progress!

I hope Part 2 in the Self-Reliant Summer Series encourages you to trade theory for ACTION! We’re planning an entire summer of self-reliance articles to keep us Doing the Stuff. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

What’s your favorite repurposing hack for self-reliance and preparedness? Comments are always welcome…

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for an Heirloom Ax

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

A large part of self-reliance is learning to make your own gear. You’ll get FAT in two areas – your wallet and skill set!

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools are essential for self-reliance, survival, and preparedness. You want the best you can afford. You’re not going to find heirloom quality tools, the kind you pass down to your children and grandchildren, in a big box store. Nor do you want to stake your survival on “Made in China” junk. So what’s the common man and woman to do?

Make your own!

Remember the True Temper ax I bought that wasn’t for sale? Well, it needed some TLC and a mask/sheath. Every cutting tool you use in the field should have a cover to protect the tool and you. Instead of paying to have a custom-made mask, I decided to make my own.

It’s been exactly 40 years since I did any serious leather craft. Check out the last picture in this post to see my first leather project I made in Industrial Arts Class in the 7th grade – back in the day when school kids were allowed to learn self-reliance skills like leather work, welding, and carpentry.

Ahhh, Smell the Leather!

You can make a sheath or mask for your cutting tools by repurposing old leather goods. Since I’ve taken on leather work as one of my Doing the Stuff skills this year, I decided to buy a shoulder of 8-9 ounce vegetable tanned leather from Tandy Leather. A few leather working tools were added to my arsenal as well. Of course, you could use common everyday tools to get the job done.

Gather the Stuff

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools and stuff

  • Leather
  • Razor/utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Cardboard or file holder for the template
  • Marker and pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Glue
  • Needles and thread
  • Awl/Punch
  • Hardware – snaps and studs (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Clips

You don’t have to tap your 401k to get started. Substitute an ice pick or other pointy object for an awl. I used a drill with a 5/32″ bit to make stitching holes for the rounded portion of the mask. Get creative and save money.

Make Your Template

Use a thin cardboard box or file folder to lay out your template. A cereal or 12 pack beer box makes a thicker template and is easier to trace around.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

You’ll need two folders

Outline the ax with a pencil and cut out the image with scissors.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Draw a straight line on the other folder using a straight edge.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Outlining the top profile of the ax

Center the ax head on the line and draw the shape on the folder.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

 

Now align the full cut out of the ax to the top profile you just traced. Draw a line around full ax profile. Be sure to match the ends of the full profile to the top profile.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Once you trace the full ax, you will sketch a 1/2 welt where the cutting edge will rest in the mask. The welt is where the blade rests inside the sheath to protect the stitching. I took this design from my Wetterlings ax mask. As you can see, the welt at the toe of the ax is short. If the welt is extended too far towards the handle on this design, the ax head won’t fit in the mask.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cut one side of the template, fold over the center line and trace to the other side

Label and store the template for later projects.

Ready for Leather

Lay the template on your leather and outline it with a marker.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Transfer the mask template to your leather

I’ve seen people cut leather with scissors and razors. I chose to use a utility knife. Take it slow and cut the line. You want a tight fit as the leather will stretch with use.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cutting the leather

Next, cut the welt portion off of the template. Transfer the welt template to the leather. After I traced and cut the full welt, it dawned on me that I only need half of the welt in the mask. Learn from my mistake.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Making the welt

Dry fit the mask by securing the welt inside the mask with a few clips. This will revel any needed adjustments and test the fit on the ax head.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Dry fitting

Holes – Glue – Grooves

To secure your mask to the ax head, punch an appropriate sized hole in one side of the leather to accept a snap. Without hardware, you could use a leather thong to secure the mask. Use whatever you have on hand.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Punching holes

Once you punch the first hole, align the mask by folding it over and punch through the first hole to create the second hole on the opposite side of the mask. You’re now ready to add snaps or studs to secure the strap.

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Beveling edges

Bevel the inside and outside edges with a beveling tool. This isn’t necessary for function but adds a finished touch to the project.

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Grooving the edges for stitching

If you have an adjustable grooving tool, set the width to about 1/4 of an inch and groove the edges where stitching will go. I got carried away and ran a groove all the way around the mask even where no stitching will appear. Very cool tool!

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Gluing the welt

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Apply an all-purpose cement to one side of the welt and the mask. Follow the directions on the glue for wait times before connecting the two pieces.

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Punching stitching holes

Once the glue is cured, punch holes in the groove for stitching through the mask and welt. I used the new 4 pronged thonging tool. You can use an ice pick, awl, or anything that will punch through the leather. I used a drill for the rounded corners. [Experienced leather crafters, I need advice on lining up the stitching holes on the other side of the mask.]

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Attach a strap to the mask with a rivet or stud. I used a screw stud. The strap needs to fit snug. Leather will stretch with use.

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Setting the snap for the strap

I dressed up the strap with a fancy buffalo snap from Tandy.

Stitching

Here’s a quick video I found helpful for the saddle stitching on my mask.

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I haven’t decided if I will dye this project or not. I may just treat it with Fixin’ Wax and call it good!

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Stitched and ready to go!

As promised, the picture below captures my 40 year span of leather work – ha! Don’t laugh, folks, mushrooms and leather were hot in 1974!  :)

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Can’t believe I kept this thing all these years.

This is our first post in a series called Self-Reliant Summer. We’re highlighting the top skills members are learning in the Doing the Stuff Network! Hope you’ll join us.

Check out more stuff in the Self-Reliant Summer series

  1. DiY Custom Leather Mask for an Heirloom Ax
  2. 50+ Dumpster Diva Hacks that Convert Waste to Wealth
  3. Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley’s Advice
  4. Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout
  5. 6 No-Drama Survival Tips for a Clothed and Confident Summer
  6. 5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliance Skills
  7. Surviving Large on Small Stuff
  8. 27 Survival Uses for Common Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance!

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Milestone Post #500! The One Stick Fire Challenge

by Todd Walker

You’ve helped us reached a milestone – today marks our 500th article here!!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire ChallengeDirt Road Girl and I want to thank each of you for supporting us on our self-reliance journey! We’re closing in on 1,000,000 visits. But the numbers aren’t what matter to us. Freely passing on knowledge, skills, and lore is our heartbeat of this site.

We express our deep appreciation for your support for our family – especially the prayers and thoughts you sent DRG’s way as she beat stage 4 cancer! We are HUMBLED and burning both ends of this second chance at LIFE!

Appropriately, our 500th post covers one of my favorite topics: Fire!

The One Stick Fire Challenge

A few months ago Justin Wolfe issued a challenge on his YouTube channel (grierwolfe). The purpose of the challenge was to make a sustainable fire with only one stick/log. An interesting concept and survival skill indeed. I love a good challenge and Doing the Stuff of self-reliance so I was in.

The guidelines (not rules) are to use one stick and one or two cutting tools to make fire. You’ll also need an ignition source. I’ve only seen ferro rods used in this challenge so that’s what I chose.

Tools

Here’s my break down on the tools I used:

  1. Knife – Condor Kephart
  2. Saw – Bacho Laplander folding saw
  3. Combustion – Ferro rod (the big one – 6″ Long x 1/2″ Diameter)

Wood

Your choice of wood is determined by available resources and the degree of difficulty you prefer in the challenge. For an easier fire, select any soft wood like cedar, pine, or poplar. Up the ante with oak or hickory.

The location of my personal space (shelter) is loaded with poplar and cedar. I chose a dead-fall limb from a poplar tree about the size of my forearm.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Using a plumber’s vise to hold the wood for sawing a one foot length of poplar

Others have used larger diameter logs for the challenge. Most of my shelter was built with dead cedar which I had available. But I went with poplar. Both cedar and poplar have bark that can be processed into fine fibrous material to form a bird’s nest. I noticed that Justin used a larger section of cottonwood but chose not to use the bark for his tinder bundle.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no rules or time frame in this friendly challenge. What matters is that we are trading theory for action by Doing the Stuff to improve our skills. Watching and doing are worlds apart.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

A benefit of building a personal space or base camp is furniture. I took advantage of the wood anvil and cedar rounds for my work station. Begin by splitting the wood with a your cutting tool. Batoning a knife, machete, or axe works.

You want to process three sizes of wood from your one stick:

  • Pencil-lead sized (smallest – feather stick curls and scrapings)
  • Pencil sized (small)
  • Thumb sized (largest)
Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bird’s nest

Tinder Bundle

There are few ways to create a good tinder bundle for this challenge. Use the outer bark if it’s fibrous like poplar or cedar. Processed down, the bark makes this challenge a bit more easy. Only use the sap wood and heart wood of your stock for more of a challenge. Either way, process enough pencil-lead to feed the fire from your tinder bundle.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Twist and rub poplar bark and separate the inner bark fibers

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Time consuming but well worth the effort

Feather Sticks

On a few pencil sized pieces, I shaved curls by propping my knife-hand on the anvil and pulling the stick towards me. I’ve found this technique coupled with a very sharp knife works well for curling smalls. On thumb sized fuel, I brace the stick at an angle and carve down the stick with the length of my blade to create the desired amount of curls for the feather stick.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Creating feather sticks

Take the time to process enough curls and shavings to add to your lit tinder bundle. More time was spent on processing the bark for the tinder bundle than any other part of the challenge. This step is even more important if you choose not to use the bark fibers. In that case, use the spine of you knife to scape off fine sawdust into a pile that will catch a spark from a ferro rod.

Dang, I’ve got to start recording this stuff on video. That’s a goal of mine this summer!

 Fire Lay

There’s really no best fire lay for this challenge. I used a twig fire lay which resembles the corner of a stacked split-rail fence. This allow ample air flow to feed the fire which is started in the corner. If the ground is wet, be sure to lay your tinder bundle on top of a few pieces of thumb size wood.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Fire lay

Ignition

With the tinder bundle in place and processed wood close at hand, shower sparks down on the bird’s nest. Processed into fine fibers, the poplar bark caught fire on the second pull of my ferro rod.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Ferro rod ignition

The bird’s nest won’t burn for long so be ready to feed the feather sticks and shavings on top of the blaze. Follow those with the pencil-lead and then pencil sized sticks. Make sure not to smother the flame. As the smalls ignite, place the thumb size fuel on top.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Adding smalls

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Burning fuel

Again, let me encourage you to practice safe procedures when using cutting tools. Cut away from your body and never in the Triangle of Death (between your thighs from knee to crotch).

Have fun practicing your bushcraft skills. We’re all at different levels of mastery. As you hone your skills, add more challenges in a controlled environment (backyard or personal space) remembering that perfect practice makes perfect.

Have you taken the One Stick Fire Challenge? Want to? If so, let us know your results.

Thanks Again!

To close, DRG and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and willingness to share the stuff you’re doing for self-reliance and preparedness! Y’all rock!!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thank you for Sharing the Stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

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

Fire is life out there!

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

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

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

Trading Theory for ACTION!

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

Here’s what I found…

It Burns On Water

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

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

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

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

Fire on the water!

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

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

Lightly stir to continue the burn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instant fire!

Benefits of InstaFire

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

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thank you for Sharing the Stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

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

Sherpa Tip: Equine Vet Wrap in First Aid Kits

by Todd Walker

Sherpa Tip: Equine Vet Wrap in First Aid Kits

I first discovered this flexible, self-adhesive bandage as a handle wrap for my sledge hammers 4 years ago. I needed grips for the handle to do a workout called Shovelglove. If you’ve never tried swinging a stick with a 12 pound hunk of metal on the end for 20 minutes, it will have your entire body begging for mercy!

Sherpa's Quick Survival Tip: Equine Vet Wrap

A six and 12 pound Shovelglove tool

We keep Co-Flex in our medical supplies even though we don’t own horses. On a recent tick bite to my upper buttocks – they seem to find the most inaccessible spots for attachment – I applied my usual plantain spit poultice with a band-aid 3 times daily. The problem with this is that the adhesive from the band-aid irritates my skin. And no, I don’t have a hairy butt! That’s probably too much information right there.

Sherpa Tip: Equine Vet Wrap in First Aid Kits

First Aid items in my bushcraft kit

For those with sensitive skin or you’re covered in Cro-Magnon body hair, this tape is the ticket! A non-latex version is available as well.

Tape with Benefits

Self-adhesive

Co-Flex functions like an Ace bandage without the metal clips, velcro, or safety pins. I applied plantain to the bite with a small gauze pad and secured it with two wraps around my hips. *No Pics to Document* You’ll have to take my word on this one. The bandage did roll at my waist while bending but held the pad in place for most of the day.

Lightweight/Flexible/Breathable

It performs well on body parts that don’t bend. But the flexibility allows you to wrap an elbow or wrist to hold a bandage securely. You can apply enough compression without constricting the limb.

Sweat and Water Resistant

It won’t turn loose fording a river or while sweating profusely in a sprint to escape zombies. This alone is reason enough to stock up.

Abrasion Resistant

Adds a layer of protection for wounds. It’s durable stuff!

Trading Theory for Action

FYI: If you store a roll in your first aid kit, you’ll need to find a way to prevent compression. I had a roll of camouflaged Co-Flex in my bushcraft kit that had been smashed, compacted, and abused. I needed it to wrap up my tick bite poultice. I tried to find the end to peel but it had turned into a solid lump of tape. Even slicing through to the next layer to start the roll yielded no results.

Sherpa Tip: Equine Vet Wrap in First Aid Kits

I split through the continuous mass to the cardboard core. Aha! This could be repurposed for fishing bobbers (floats), an improvised pillow for someone with a tiny head, elastic cordage, etc., etc.

Got any other ideas on using this multi-purpose kit item?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thank you for Sharing the Stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

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

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

“There’s nothing to do.” *Sigh*

That’s all I needed to hear!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I’m bored! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear Factor

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

“What?” I asked.

“Bullets.”

“No buddy, these are ball bearings.”

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

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

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

Taking aim!

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

Safety First

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

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

 

Short Cuts

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

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

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

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

IMG_0500

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

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

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

And he scores!!

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

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

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

Fridge worthy wood!

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

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

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

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

Keep Sharing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

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

10 Reasons to Add Plantain to Your SHTF Medicine Chest

by Todd Walker

10 Reasons to Add Plantain to Your SHTF Medicine Chest

No matter how domesticated we’ve become, at our genetic core, our hunter-gather within longs to be unleashed. In our quest to express our primal genes, we encounter Nature’s revenge from stings, bites, cuts and injury. The fear and misery that follows is enough to keep one indoors and isolated from our natural environment.

If you only learn to identify and use one medicinal herb, I’d like to recommend plantain. Over-the-counter medicines won’t always be available. In North America, this plant is prolific.

Plantain (not the fruit) can be found most any place there’s soil and sunshine. On the trail, in the backyard, and growing in sidewalk cracks, this pesky plant is sprayed, pulled, and hated by millions hellbent on preserving pristine lawns.

I first discovered plantain’s effectiveness on tick bites years ago. It is now my go-to remedy. My skin reacts wildly to stinging/biting insects and poisonous plants. You’d think I would avoid the woods but I can’t. The rewards outweigh the risks many times over!

The good news is that nature provides an antidote – in abundance – which works better than store-bought chemical stuff!

Picking Plantain

There are over 200 varieties of plantain around the world. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds can be used both internally and externally. The two commonly found in North America that I use are…

Scientific namePlantago major

Broad leaf plantain

Broad leaf plantain without the stalks and spikes formed. It’s too early for them to grow the spikes I guess. The spots on the leaves are dirt from a recent rain.

Common name: Common plantain, broad -leaf plantain, snakeweed, and White Man’s Foot. The last nickname came about as the english and europeans brought seeds over to North America because of its healing properties. Native American’s are said to have coined this name since everywhere the white settlers stepped, plantain seemed to sprout.

Scientific name: Plantago lanceolata

Common name: Lance leaf, snake plantain, ribwort plantain, black plantain, narrow-leaf plantain, and long plantain.

This narrow-leaf variety is more plentiful in my area

This narrow-leaf variety is more plentiful in my area

Narrow -leaf plantain with the head and stalk

Narrow -leaf plantain with the head and stalk

The long stems on the narrow-leaf plantain have seed heads at the tip. As a kid, we would pick these stems, wrap the end around the head and ‘shot’ them like a sling shot of sorts. I know, we were easily entertained.

For more identification info, here are a few links that may help: Broad-Leaf Plantain and Narrow-Leaf Plantain.

Properties of Plantain

I’m not a herbalist or expert feral food forager. After all…

it’s the things that you learn after you know it all that really matter!

I’m not giving medical advice here. This is simply my first-hand experience of Doing the Stuff with this wicked-good weed.

Understanding the properties of this plant broadens its medicinal application. My main use of this plant has been for stings/bites and skin conditions. However, with a little research and digging, I’ve discovered many uses for this common weed.

NOTE: Traditional uses of plantain and other herbal remedies may not have been proven effective through scientific studies or approved by the FDA. But you probably know how I feel about the Food and Drug Administration – use their advice (and herbal remedies) at your own risk after doing your own due diligence.

There’s no money to be made in herbal meds by the FEDs. Commercial pharmaceutical companies can’t monopolize a weed. Just a thought!

#1 Alterative (Cleansing) Uses

An Alterative herb cleans the blood and organs that help eliminate waste products from your body.

  • Blood poisoning – I witnessed red lines from an infected tick bite disappear with a plantain poultice.
  • Improve liver function

#2 Anti-inflammatory Uses

  • Reduces swelling from bites, stings, and sprains. Approved in Germany for topical treatment.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Inflamed digestive tract

#3 Demulcent (Soothing) Uses

  • Mucilage (husks of plantain seeds – Psyllium harvesting tutorial) forms a soothing film over irritated and inflamed membranes.
  • Cough suppressant
  • Bronchitis and other upper respiratory conditions
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Sore muscles – apply warmed, bruised leaves to sore or sprained area

#4 Diuretic (promotes production of urine) Uses

  • Kidney problems – taken as a tea throughout the day
  • Bladder problems
  • Bed wetting
  • Water retention

#5 Refrigerant (Cooling) Uses

  • Burns – apply a bruised whole leaf to burned area. An excellent substitute when aloe is unavailable!
  • Sun burn – make plantain tea and spray on burned area.
  • Scalds and mild ulcers
  • Abcess on gums and teeth
  • Laryngitis
  • Lung infections – even pneumonia
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Hemorrhoids – heals and sooth via plantain tea and salves
  • Diaper rash and cradle cap – apply plantain oil or slave infusion to affected area

#6 Styptic (stop bleeding) Uses

  • Chew into spit poultice or crush in a mortar and pestle and apply to minor topical wounds.

# 7 Anti-toxic Uses

  • Plantain contains Aucubin which is a powerful anti-toxin
  • Anti-venomous for snake, insect, and bug bites. Get medical attention where available if you are ever snake bit or allergic to insect stings!

#8 Astringent (drawing) Uses

  • Splinters
  • Poisonous bites and stings
  • Eczema
  • Boils
  • Glass shards
  • Poison ivy - relieves itching and helps dry the rash
  • Acne
  • Stinging nettles
  • Gout

#9 Laxative

  • Relieves constipation
  • But also works on diarrhea

#10 Antimicrobial (antibiotic) Uses

Plantain packs high amounts of beneficial chemicals for health and healing. Vitamins A, C, K, and calcium are abundant in this ‘weed’. The chemical mix of tannin, sorbitol, aucubin, acids (eg, benzoic, caffeic, chlorogenic, cinnamic, p-coumaric, fumaric, salicylic, ursolic, vanillic, ascorbic), alkaloids (boschniakine) and amino acids (eg, alanine, asparagine, histidine, lysine).

  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Bacterial infections
  • Anti-cancer effects – no human studies have been performed but has been shown to reduce tumors in rats.

Note: This information should be verified by YOU before using plantain medicinally. In no way is this information intended to overlook the advice of medical personnel. If you are taking other medications, please consult your physician before using plantain for self-healing. While plantain has no known toxicity, be aware that there are documented adverse effects in pregnant women. 

Further scientific studies on plantain’s usefulness can be found here.

Medicinal Recipes

Plantain decoctions, salves, teas, tinctures, poultices and infusions can be made with simple recipes. Here are few you can check out:

  1. Astringent Tincture
  2. Plantain Oil from Susan Weed
  3. Topical Salves
  4. Internal Herb Methods

Plantain is a prolific ‘weed’ that tops the list in my herbal medicine chest! What’s your top healing herb?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Herbal Remedies, Natural Health | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won’t Require a Mule for Conveyance

by Todd Walker

Ever notice hernia bag (aka – Bug Out Bag) lists of essentials items to pack to get you through a 72 hour crisis. With only half that stuff in your bag, you’ll need a mule to get where you’re going.

5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance

We depend on modern modes of transportation – planes, trains, and cars. That’s a blessing and a curse. Even if vehicles are operational during an SHTF evacuation, roads become long parking lots. Then what? You and your family will be forced to use the oldest form of human locomotion… your feet.

Now…

Can you actually hump that 83.7 pound pack?

The fact that you’ve got a B.O.B. or Get Home Bag packed puts you light years ahead of the general population. Conveyance is the big issue though. The not-so-distant past proves that mayhem follows disaster in urban areas. If you’re trapped in the horde of humanity exiting cities, you need to lighten your load.

The must-have list below assumes you’ve been Doing the Stuff with your tools of survival. Be mindful that the added stress of a survival scenario makes the learning curve steep. Before an event is the perfect time to trade theory for action. Put on your Mike Rowe outfit and get dirty practicing your survival skills.

The number one way to increase your survivability is to always carry items that are difficult or impossible to reproduce in a crisis. At a bare minimum, every kit you pack should enable you to cut stuff, burn stuff, cover stuff, carry stuff, and tie stuff.

Cut Stuff

Ah, the good ol’ survival knife. Which is better, a 5 inch blade or the tricked out 12 inch Rambo version? Nothing gets feathers ruffled in the self-reliance community like a knife discussion.

I’ll put an end to the debate here and now. The best survival knife is the one in your hand.

The cutting tool is the hardest item to re-create in a survival situation. If a SAK (Swiss Army Knife) is all you have with you, guess what, it just became your survival knife. My SAK never leaves my pocket and sees more daily duty than any other knife I own. However, if I were limited to only one knife in a survival scenario, I’d choose a multi-tasking blade with these characteristics:

  1. Size: Fixed blade that measures 5 to 6 inch with a pointed tip. 10 to 12 inches overall length.
  2. Metal Content: Carbon steel is easy to hone and throws sparks with flint.
  3. Spine: A 90º edge on the spine is essential when making fire with a ferro rod. You can use the cutting edge on a ferro rod in dire emergencies but you lose a valuable resource – a sharpened edge.
  4. Full Tang: Partial (rat-tail) tangs are not as durable and more likely to fail/break with heavy use. Full tang knifes have solid metal the width and length of the handle.
  5. Functional: Should be able to perform detailed carving tasks, process fire wood, skin game and filet fish, food prep, shelter building, and self-defense. Your knife should fit comfortably in your hand.

    5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance

    Cutting tools!

Burn Stuff

Pack several fire starting methods in your kit. Fire equals life. Don’t mess around with fire making. Redundancy is the key.

  1. Cigarette Lighter: This is an obvious one that has bailed me out many times.
  2. Fire Starter: Fatwood, charred material in a char tin, commercial fire starters, flint and steel, ferrocerium rod, DiY waxed jute twine, steel wool and 9v battery stored separately, and a magnifying lens.
  3. Primitive Fire: Friction fire methods take skill to master – and can still fail. Always carry other fire options.

    Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

    Bow drill in the backyard

Cover Stuff

Burning precious calories to erect a natural shelter might be necessary if you’re caught unprepared. A simple, lightweight, waterproof covering to protect against the elements is easy to pack and affordable.

  1. USGI Poncho: These can be worn over clothing and gear and used as a tarp shelter.
  2. Contractor Trash Bag: Makes an emergency ground cloth or covering for your body.
  3. Emergency Space Blanket: Invest in a quality space blanket that will extend its usefulness to more than a couple of nights.
  4. Tarp: You don’t have to spend a fortune for emergency shelter. A cheap poly tarp from Wally World can get you through an emergency.

    Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

    Lean-to tarp shelter

Carry Stuff

Plastic water bottles are better than no container. But they have limitations. Their not very useful for boiling water or cooking over a fire. I like stainless steel water bottles for their durability and resilience. Bottles that nest inside a cup are easy to pack and give you two containers without losing space in your kit.

  1. Stainless Steel: Heavy duty, multi-tasker. Here’s my preferred container5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance
  2. Aluminum: Choose hard anodized aluminum if possible. I avoid aluminum for health concerns – but would use it to survive for sure!
  3. Titanium: Very lightweight but pricey.

Tie Stuff

Sure, you can make natural cordage with enough time and available resources. Time and resources are often scarce commodities. Processing plant fibers to make a ridge line for your shelter is a great skill to know and practice… but not when your life is in jeopardy. Commercially made cordage doesn’t take up much space or become a burden to carry.

  1. Paracord: 550 paracord contains seven individual braided strands within a nylon sheath making it a favorite among survivalists and campers. Interior strands can be removed and used for fishing line, sutures, snares, and other detailed survival needs. I pack 50 feet in each of our kits. But I prefer this next cordage…
  2. Tarred Bank Line: Another lightweight cord popularized in the survival community by Dave Canterbury. First used in the maritime world to preserve line and give extra bite to knots. We grew up using this cordage for trot lines and limb hooks on the Flint River. With 360 pound test strength (offered in other strengths), bank line was the only cordage I used to build my trapping shelter. Pack two 50′ hanks. Bonus – it’s cheaper than 550 cord. The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Emergencies are never planned. They just happen. Be prepared by packing these five essentials in all your kits.

Your Turn

Since I don’t own a pack mule (yet), I’m working towards increasing Skills to decrease Stuff in my kits!

How have you lightened your load?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

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