27 Survival Uses for Common Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Ever been caught in the woods with nature calling you to a squatty position? If you forgot the Charmin, you’d still be a happy camper with Cowboy Toilet Paper (AKA – Common Mullein). It’s velvety soft leaves have wrangled many a woodsman and camper from certain disaster over a cat hole.

27 Survival Uses for Common Man Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

The fuzzy leaf of this botanical wonder may cause skin irritation (contact dermatitis). That’s not a bad thing if you happen to be a Quaker in the new world. Since Quaker women weren’t allowed to wear make up, these resourceful ladies rubbed the hairy leaves on their cheeks for a homemade blush to attract suitors. Hence the name Quaker’s Rouge.

If employed as Cowboy TP or camper’s wash cloth, wipe with the flow of the hairs not against. Use caution with sensitive behinds. If a rash occurs, plantain is usually close by.

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is easy to identify making it a safe gateway herb to wildcrafting and medicinal plants. The leafs, stalk, and root are safe for medicinal purposes.

First year plants grow as a rosette with large, wooly, hairy, velvety leaves. The silver-green foliage gives the plant an artificial waxed appearance. They grow in well-drained disturbed soil by roadways, abandoned fields, waste places, and even gravel, rocky soil in full sun.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

First year growth

Second year growth can reach heights over ten feet.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Forgot my tripod. This is my first EVER selfie! I’m 5’10” tall for comparison.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Mullein flowers showing off their five yellow flowers

You may know this European weed transplant by other common names such as flannel flower, Quaker’s rouge, bunny’s ear, candle wick, great mullein, torchwort, miner’s candle, poor man’s blanket, hag’s taper, ice leaf, or Cowboy Toilet Paper. Whatever name you use, mullein has been a valuable mulituse tool for self-reliance for thousands of years.

Here’s why…

Properties of Mullein

Understanding the properties of herbs allows you to get the most out of  your herbal medicine chest. Here’s the plant’s medicinal profile:

  • Analgesic – pain relief
  • Anticatarrhal – reduces inflammation of the mucous membranes (lungs, sinus, etc.)
  • Antispasmodic – suppresses involuntary muscle spasms
  • Antitussive – relieve or prevent coughs
  • Astringent – contraction of body tissue, typically on skin
  • Demulcent – forms a soothing film over mucous membranes
  • Diuretic – increases urine production
  • Expectorant – aid in the clearance of mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi, and trachea
  • Mucilant – coat and protect mucous membranes
  • Vulnerary – promotes healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions

For more information on medicinal properties of herbs, check out Bk2natuR’s Herbal Dictionary and other natural goodness!

An additional awesome herbal/wildcrafting resource can be found at Common Sense Homesteading. Laurie, a blogging friend of mine, has a great series called Weekly Weeder with 48 posts on using your weeds for culinary and medicinal purposes. I highly recommend her stuff!

As you can see, Common Mullein has many more uses than emergency roadside TP. Take a look…

Medicine

  • Mullein tea (expectorant) helps facilitate lung function and removes congestion and mucus from the respiratory tract. Dried leaves may also be used as a smoke inhalation.

A dehydrator speeds up the drying process. Set your dehydrator on its lowest heat and process until dry. I set this batch on 95º for about 18 hours for crispy leaves.

[Side note: Even though out Excalibur uses little electricity, I want to build a solar dehydrator. If you have successfully built your own, please contact me. Thanks!]

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

One of five trays of 1st year mullein leaves

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

‘Toby’ the pig helping me make some mullein tea with a backyard bushcraft setup

  • Oil infusion of the yellow flowers for ear aches

How to make Mullein-Flower Oil Infusion

A.) Locate a group of blooming mullein plants (June-September) and harvest the yellow flowers. You’ll need enough to fill a small jam or jelly jar half to three-quarters full. I ended up with about half a jar of flowers. This is tedious and time-consuming. Allow the blooms to dry for an hour or so to remove some of the water content.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Flowers harvested from 6 or 7 mullein stalks

B.) Fill the jar with olive oil or any oil you like and screw the lid tightly. Steep the infusion in a warm, sunny spot for about 2 to 4 weeks. Shake the infusion once a day – if you remember.

10 Survival Uses for Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

Sunny spot for steeping

C.) Pour the infused oil through a strainer (cheese cloth or bandana) into another container for storage. Label, date, and store in a cool dark cabinet. For ear aches or wax build up, place a few (2-3) drops into the ear a couple of times daily until the problem clears up.

 Garden/Permaculture

  • Improves soil as a nitrogen fixer and heals the worst soil conditions
  • Feeds bees and other pollinators
  • Compost material
  • Some birds enjoy the seeds
  • Rotenone, found in mullein, is synthesized for insecticide
  • Goats won’t eat it so mullein is a good way to add some green to goat-ravaged land

Bushcraft and Self-Reliance

  • Mullein leaves can be used inside shoes as a cushion and warmth
  • Blanket mullein is one alias outdoor enthusiasts should keep in mind for emergency blanket
  • Saponins in the seeds are said to be useful for stunning fish for easy collection – use only in a true survival scenario
  • Dried leaves and seed pods make an excellent tinder for fire starting
  • Dip a dried seed head stalk in tallow, bees-wax, or pine sap for a long-burning torch (torchwort, miner’s torch)
  • The stalk can be used to create a friction fire – bow or hand drill style

Creek Stewart at Willow Haven Outdoor has a great video demonstrating the friction fire technique using mullein below:

Common Mullein is the common man/woman multi-tool of herbal self-reliance. Ah, a new alias… Common Man Mullein!

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

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, Doing the Stuff, Herbal Remedies, Medical, Natural Health, Self-reliance, Survival, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 23 Comments

Build Blue-Collar Self-Reliance with The Prepper’s Blueprint

by Todd Walker

Build Blue Collar Self-Reliance with The Prepper's Blueprint

My daddy would unroll a blueprint across the hood of his old GMC truck each morning. Men wearing Carhartt overalls and hard hats would cradle black coffee in thermos cups with calloused hands waiting to be assigned their task for the day.

Whether it was a power plant or a brewery, the blueprint kept his crew of pipe fitters and welders focused on the building project. Each pipe had to be laid with precision and skill for the system to work. Following the details in that rolled tube of paper was crucial to completing the job – and getting paid!

Not often do I read a book that offers a practical, common sense plan for building self-reliance and preparedness for the common man and woman. Some writers in our niche rehash gloom-and-doom theory but fail to lay out action steps for Doing the Stuff on our journey to self-reliance.

That’s certainly not the case in Tess Pennington’s new book, The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Prepare For Any Disaster. It’s slammed from cover to cover with non-fluff, blue-collar, get-your-hands-dirty strategies and projects to get you prepared for the unknown unknowns that show up unannounced on your doorstep.

Tess will liberate your mind, layer by layer, and show you how to make this journey a lifestyle and not some event with a finish line. Each chapter ends with “Preps to Buy”, “Action Items”, and “Supplemental Information and Resources”. No matter what level you’re on in our preparedness journey, this blueprint will keep you focused on the job at hand.

Chapters are structured in 3 layers: I.) Immediate Needs, II.) Short Term Preparedness, and III.) Long Term Preparedness. I sat by my early morning campfire at out off-grid cabin last week and devoured this 430 page guide. The Prepper’s Blueprint just earned a place in my preparedness reference library next to a few other classics! Here are few of my favorite sections that will help you work smart not AND hard for self-reliance.

  • Chapter 1: It All Starts With A Plan
  • Chapter 15: Spiritual Preparedness
  • Chapter 35: Essential Fats (If you’re primal/paleo like me, tweak what you need to change. Ex: Crisco is in our larder but not for cooking purposes)
  • Chapter 53: Bartering and Community

The choices we make revel the true nature of our character. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and trade theory for action, The Prepper’s Blueprint is for you. I’ll be unrolling this blueprint on the hood of my truck (or by campfires) for years to come.

If you’d like to order Tess’ book, it’s available on Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow her value-adding website, Ready Nutrition, if you haven’t already.

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: Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

You’ve heard the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers”, right? When your survival is on the line, don’t be ungrateful when a gift comes along. Survival gifts come in all sizes but it’s the small stuff that’s more likely to get you out alive.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Being mindful of the useful mnemonic, Survival Rules of 3, you’ve taken care of shelter and water but your situation may place you weeks from civilization. As a refresher, you may die if you go…

  1. 3 minutes without air (asphyxiation)
  2. 3 hours without shelter (exposure)
  3. 3 days without water (dehydration)
  4. 3 weeks without food (starvation)

While there are documented exceptions to these rules, view these as guidelines to prioritize your survival effort. A lot depends on the timeframe for rule #4. People have survived well past three weeks with little to no nourishment.

You may be thinking, “I’ll forage enough wild plants to survive.” Wildcrafting is an excellent skill to possess. However, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of wild lettuce to sustain you long-term. You need to find a source of protein and fat before you body goes all cannibal on you.

The days of prolific herds of deer and bison roaming the woodlands are gone. Big game animals aren’t hiding behind every tree. Even if they were, you may not be equipped to harvest them. You could make a primitive weapon from rocks and sticks but that costs calories too. You’re trying to save as many calories as possible. You burn 2,000 calories before noon crafting a weapon and stalking the animal and fail. Now what?

That’s where the small stuff helps.

The Small Stuff

Could I put enough small stuff in the pot if I had to? Here’s how I tested my theory.

Start at the water’s edge. Creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds are where you’ll find bullfrogs, fish, birds, turtles, crawfish, rodents, and snakes. That’s the easiest place to find small stuff.

Collecting Crawfish

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Boiled mud bug

Also known as crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs, and creek lobster, these shellfish are quite tasty. The problem is they are hard to spot and catch without traps. As a child, my buddies and I walked creeks to catch these elusive critters by hand. They hide under rocks and ledges. If you’re brave enough, poke your hand in the crevices to locate the crawfish. If you’re lucky, he will clamp down on your finger and you can pull him out. It doesn’t hurt for long. You may also try gently lifting small flat rock to spot them. These methods take time and energy, two things you’ll be low on in a survival scenario.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Lost two tines off this cheap gig with only one creek lobster to show for it

It’s not likely that you’ll have a wire minnow trap with you. If not, consider a gig. Sweep your gig under ledges and watch for a lightening quick streak to exist. That’s your dinner. He probably scooted to his next hiding place. Now you’ve narrowed down his location and may have a chance.

To prepare creek lobster, bring water to a rolling boil in container and drop your catch into the water. You won’t have corn, potatoes, and sausage for a wilderness low country boil. But you’ve got protein. Boil about 5 minutes. Hold the head in one hand and twist the tail off with the other hand. Gently pull the middle fin on the back of the tail to devein. Crack the shell open to get to the tail meat. Pop the mudpuppy in your mouth and enjoy. Don’t forget to suck the head to remove all the yummy juice.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A creek lobster boil!

A word about gear. If man-made it, it’ll break eventually. Two tines on the gig pictured above were lose after hitting a rock. I was able to pull them out with little effort. I kept the barbed tines since they’d make great improvised fishing hooks for larger fish.

A better method and one which is more reliable for survival purposes is a homemade gig.

Assuming you have a cutting tool, cut a green sapling between 1-2 inches in diameter. Split the trunk end of the sapling to make four separate prongs. Make the splits about 6 to 8 inches deep. Insert a twig about the size of your pinky finger inside the split as a spacer for the prongs. Repeat the process with another twig spreader so that the two twigs meet forming a cross at the base of the splits. Lash the twig spreaders to the gig with cordage – natural or commercial. Sharpen the tines and go find some slithering small stuff.

Snake Stew

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Water Moccasin on a stick

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A closer look at the wooden gig which I didn’t lash

This homemade survival tool is effective on snakes, fish, and other small game as well. Check your local hunting and fishing regulations before practicing.

Water moccasin, like other venomous snakes in the eastern woodlands, are edible. To prepare a venomous pit viper, chop off the head a few inches below it venom sacs. Slit the belly and remove its entrails and skin. Skewer the meat with a green limb and roast over a fire until well done. You may also like snake stew with a few wild edibles. Rattlesnake is my favorite.

Warning: Bury the severed head in the ground. The muscular bite reflex continues even after the snake is dispatched.

Minnow Dinner

With enough small stuff, you can reload your reserves. Smaller minnows and sun-fish can also be used as bait for larger fish, turtles, and crawfish. I used a commercial minnow trap to catch several small bream at our cabin/shack. I wrapped a piece of bacon in tin foil and suspended it inside the trap. This prevents minnows and crawfish from feeding on the bait from the outside edge of the trap.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

About a dozen bait-minnows in less than an hour

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Floating Fish

Many indigenous tribes used plants to poison or stun fish. When ingested or passed over the gills, the fish would float helplessly on top of the water for easy gathering. In my state, Georgia, the Cherokee used the bark and green nut husks of Black Walnut trees and Polkweed berries as a fish poison. Once the fish reach un-poisoned water, they would recover.

No, I’ve never tried this method. From my research, I’ve found that the green husks must be pounded to pulp and introduced into a pooled area of a stream or slow-moving river or a still body of water. Processing enough husks or plant material may burn more calories than could be made up by floating fish.

Rotenone and saponins are the active chemicals that affects the breathing mechanism of fish but not their edibility. How much to use? Not sure. Maybe one of our readers could enlighten us on this technique.

NOTE: Fish poisoning is illegal in most states in the U.S. I don’t endorse this method. I added it for educational purposes only.

MRE’s on the Half Shell

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A snapping turtle I caught on the way to school one morning

Unfashionable now, turtle soup was once a presidential delicacy. President Taft, our most rotund White House resident, loved turtle soup. There is a smorgasbord of seven different meat flavors in a large snapping turtle – beef, chicken, goat, pork, shrimp, veal, and fish.

Turtles are slower than most animals in the forest. No surprise there. Snapping turtles do what their name implies… oh, snap. Unless your Turtle Man and have experience on which end to grab, these feisty creatures can perform instant digit amputations. Senseless injury in a survival scenario can be fatal.

I’ll leave it to you to research catching, cleaning, dressing, and cooking methods. Here are few useful resources here and here.

The prospect of feeding your body in a long-term survival situation is a challenge. Focus on the small survival foods. Choose a few methods to practice in case you ever have to depend on them for a meal. And remember to be thankful for any survival gift that comes your way. Bon appétit!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-reliance,

Todd

P.S. The winner of my handcrafted bushcraft journal is Patrick Blair! Thanks to everyone for the entries and support you have shown to our family and this blog!

P.P.S – If you find value in this article, please Share the Stuff! Dirt Road Girl and I would also 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…

As always, 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 in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

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

5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliance Skills

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Our grandson is about to start walking with only 10 months of practice. From the moment he graced our family with his beautiful presence, independence was his goal. As much as we love the baby talk days, babies grow up. Cooing and crawling suddenly turns to walking and talking. And we dance around like crazed hippies celebrating each stage of his independence!

5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliant Skills

Like our grandson, your desire for self-reliance is innate. Our modern entitlement culture may not reflect this fact – but all humans are hardwired for survival. However, the stumbling block that trips us all is overlooking the small steps on our journey to doing epic survival stuff.

I mean, who doesn’t want to have epic self-reliance skills?

No one aspires to be non-Epic. Here are 5 tips to help you build those Epic skills…

Specialization

I admit it. I’m way behind the eight ball in more than a few Doing the Stuff skills. According to Robert A. Heinlein, I need to up my game…

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Got about 15 off his list under my belt. Still, self-reliance is a long journey that takes time and intentional living.

We’ve had the honor of meeting and being motivated by members of the Doing the Stuff Network. These are people from around the world who have traded theory for ACTION on their journey to self-reliance and  preparedness. They’re normal, everyday folk at different stages of skill development. Gotta say though, many of our DTS Networkers are Epic!

Even then, you won’t be able to master all the skills on an Epic level. But you may become good enough. If not, you’ll need this next one…

Voluntary Trade 

Without government interventionists, a true free market economy would exist. This would enable people to exchange goods and services freely without the politicians on “your side” getting involved.

I generally don’t write or speak about the rigged game we call politics. However, when the weight of this house of cards we’ve built comes crashing down, it will be the producers that rise to rebuild. Epic self-reliance skills will lead the way.

In his book, “Starving the Monkeys”, Tom Baugh paints a picture of caveman capitalism. What do you have to offer when TSHTF and we experience TEOTWAWKI? Are you a producer or consumer?

These are questions I juggle in my mind. I’m a teacher by trade. There will be a need for educating people in a post-collapse world. But I’m not referring to the multi-generational government fiasco inflicted upon our nation. What will happen immediately is TEOSAWKI (The End of Schooling As We Know It). Learning will look like it did before government control infected education. Kids (and adults) will learn what’s important and of interest to them to survive and thrive.

Will your skills be marketable when it counts? That’s a great reason to start now to build skills.

Dirty Nails

The computer screen is a dangerous place from which to prepare for the S*!t Hitting The Fan!

Since the advent of the internet, the avalanche of information available to us is overwhelming! An unhealthy byproduct of information overload is paralysis. The antidote is simple – start Doing the Stuff.

Start with the smalls and progress to Epic. Fill in the blank of your most respected resource on self-reliance and preparedness. He/she has logged thousands of hours honing their skills with dirty finger nails and Epic fails. The key to their lasting success is lasting!

It’s not likely you’ll get excited about following a weight-loss guru who never struggled to maintain a healthy body weight. Nope. We like to follow and learn from people who produce results by failing forward. This only happens with dirt time.

Check out our Trusted Resources page full of people with dirty nails.

Get Local

Fear and hype prevails and sells in our growing preparedness/survival community. Common sense seems to have left the building with Elvis. The old paths have been forgotten and neglected.

Not long ago, your grandparents lived a self-reliant life because they understood the bigger picture. The knight in shinning armor riding a govt mule was not coming with life-saving supplies. They grew their own food and traded to make up what was lacking… locally. Community filled the gaps when needed. Here’s why neighboring matters.

Judgement

Individual needs require individualized plans. What works for me may not work for you. Ignore “Epic” armchair survivalists and self-appointed prepping experts who bang out belittling remarks on their keyboard. You know your situation and abilities better than anyone on the planet.

Sadly, brow-beaters like to pull folks down to their level. You can’t win a wrestling match with a pig. All you get is dirty and the pig gets happy wallowing in the mud.

I recently witnessed a display of arrogance in an online group where I spent time. It seems that proper grammar is required for one to be considered valuable. Don’t slip into pompous grammar-nazi mode. Overlook the typos and poor grammatical skills to glean wisdom from people actually Doing the Stuff. They’ve probably forgotten more than most of us have learned.

So what if you flunked English. Don’t be afraid to put your ideas out there. Just find the right group of honest, like-minded people to hang with. We’re all in this together!

Small consistent steps end in Epic self-reliance. Gotta go, the boy is trying to walk!

Keep Doing the Small Stuff,

Todd

P.S. Time is running out for you to enter to win my handcrafted leather journal! Click this link for your chance to win ->> a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley’s Advice

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

I first heard the song Ticks by Bard Paisley at a bank drive-thru window. Clever lyrics. Why share such a trivial event? Because I like Brad Paisley’s music and hate ticks… passionately!!

Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley's Advice

These blood suckers are anything but petty parasites for anyone venturing outdoors. Their genetics seem to steer them to the most delicate and hardest-to-get-at places on the human body. Like zombies looking for a blood meal, they sink their barbed jaws in your skin and gorge.

For me, I’d rather roll naked in poison ivy than have a tick bite. Once removed, they leave itchy, nagging bite marks for months. However, applying my plantain spit poultice immediately and repeatedly for a few days causes the bite symptoms disappear.

The War on Ticks

We’re in the middle of peak tick season (May – June – July). That’s why I love dirt time in the winter – little to no ticks! My personal war on ticks involves prevention and early treatment.

Is your skin crawling yet? No need to panic over these blood-bloated pests.

Take a Deep Breath

Just don’t exhale. Breathing sets off the tick honing device. You see, ticks are attracted to you and me, all mammals in fact, because we spew carbon dioxide with each breath.

Check out this creepy field experiment at North American Hunter. Calvin and Grant placed a one pound container of dry ice in a deer bedding area. In less than 8 hours, they harvested over 600 of these blood suckers! One more than the mark of the beast. There’s a the correlation here I think!!

An Ounce of Tick Prevention

If only there were a way to experience bug-free dirt time. There isn’t. Biting insects are part of the outdoor experience. But you can decrease their damage by following these tips.

As Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Proactive parasite prevention will help you get out there without constantly worrying about tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world but only a few are of concern to you. Blacklegged tick, Wood (Dog) tick, and Lone Star tick are the 3 arachnids on top of the tick-born disease list.

Image courtesy of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

Image courtesy of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

I hate them all but here’s the top woodland offender in my neck of the woods…

Blacklegged Tick (Deer tick)

This is the only tick in the Eastern woodlands with 8 black or dark chocolate-colored legs. Beware of this little devil. Not all deer ticks are carriers of Lyme disease but some are. That’s reason enough to make you cringe, right? Baby deer ticks (nymphs) become infected with Lyme disease by feeding on certain rodents. Early spring and summer are the times they are likely to be found feeding on you and passing on bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme disease.

The good news is that Lyme disease isn’t transferred until about 24-36  hours of an infected tick having a blood meal on you. Early detection and removal is the key. Be a real friend and do what Brad Paisley suggests, “I’d like to check you for ticks”… every 2-3 hours while in tick country.

Common Sense Tick Deterrents

  • Light colored clothing makes spotting these critters easier
  • Long pants tucked into boots or socks
  • Walk in the center of wooded paths when possible to avoid brushing against undergrowth where ticks hitchhike for a ride – and no, ticks don’t fly or pole vault from overhead trees limbs
  • Tuck long sleeve shirts into pants
  • Cover your head with a hat, bandana, or buff
  • Apply insect repellant to all clothing and exposed skin

It is recommended by the CDC and other government health organizations to apply repellent containing 10-30% DEET. That alone is the reason I do NOT apply DEET to my skin. Call me skeptical or even a tin foil hatter but I’ve seen the damage done in the name of public health in more areas than pest control.

Natural Tick Repellents

One of the tenants of our Doing the Stuff Network is to trade theory for action. Will natural (non-DEET) insect repellents really prevent you from becoming a tick’s next blood meal?

I haven’t tried all these recipes. If you’ve found/created an effective natural concoction, please share in the comments. The war on ticks needs you!

Here are a few DiY recipes to consider.

  1. Healthy Household: Bug Away Spray – Doing the Stuff Trusted Resource
  2. Natural Tick Repellents That Worked!
  3. 20+ Natural Insect Repellent Recipes for a Bug-Free Summer – Doing the Stuff Trusted Resource
  4. Easy, Natural Tick Repellent That Really Works (Rose Geranium Oil works on dogs too)

These recipes all contain some form of essential oil. Cat nip has been studied and found to be as effective as DEET. Warning – do NOT use essential oils during pregnancy – animal or human. Other effective essential oils for ticks are:

  • Tea tree
  • Lemon
  • Pennyroyal – do your own research before using this one
  • Eucalyptus
  • Clove
  • Rose
  • Sweet myrrh

Tick Check and Removal

I’ve done my fair share of this unpleasant practice. As the lyrics say, “You never know where one might be.” Ticks seem to migrate to tender, gentler areas of my body.

Check for ticks thoroughly while showering. Bathing removes crawlers. Once attached, no amount of soap and water will wash them off. For those hard to reach places, have a really close friend or partner look you over. Of course, they’ll need to rub that freckle and occasional mole to confirm their tick suspicions. ;)

See, another argument against being a lone wolf!

If it’s too late and a blood meal is in progress, break up the dinner party. There’s a right and wrong way to remove ticks. No disrespect meant to any folklore methods passed down from grand pappy but these may cause more harm than good.

Your goal is to remove the tick without causing it to vomit supper back on its dinner plate – your skin! Pardon the disgusting description. Grabbing the tiny tick with your club-like finger is likely to hurl its bodily fluids back into you. Confession time. I’ve removed ticks with my fingers when that’s the only tools I’ve had available. Just be as gentle as possible.

Other Wrong Methods

  • Hot match applied to an embedded tick
  • Paint with nail polish
  • Smother with petroleum jelly

The Correct Way

Flip the attached tick in a handstand position. Use tweezers or forceps to grab the little menace close to your skin. Pull straight up and out with steady pressure. Twisting or jerking will likely leave barbed mouthparts in your skin. Companies sell tick tools specifically designed to remove ticks safely. I’ve never used one but would be happy to hear your experience.

Now you can go all destroyer mode. In a wilderness setting, drop the tick in your camp fire to return it to its rightful place – HELL! Crush it between two rocks and burn the rocks to destroy any potential gooey pathogens. At home, simply flush the tick down the toilet. It’s also a good idea to sterilize the tweezers via heat or alcohol.

Wash the bitten area and your hands with soap and water or antiseptic ASAP. Check the tick to see if it lost its head in tug-o-war battle. If so, apply a plantain poultice to help draw the nasty stuff out of the bite indention.

Bushcraft Tick Tools

Carry these tools to add redundancy to you kit…

  • Swiss Army Knife – the tweezers are for more than plucking your unibrow
  • Compass – use the sighting mirror to inspect your nether region
  • Magnifying Glass – make fire on sunny days and get a visual on the smaller embedded ticks

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Within 3 to 30 days after being bitten, the first sign of Lyme disease is a reddish bull’s-eye about 2 inches in diameter at the bite location. If detected in the early stage, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics for a quick recovery. Later stages respond to antibiotics but may take months or years to cure.

Any itchy rashes or reactions after being bitten is a sign to seek medical attention. An extra precaution would be to preserve the tick in a small vial of alcohol or taped to a white piece of paper for identification purposes if complications arise. I’ve never been a tick saver. I burn ‘em!

My hatred for ticks can not be overstated! At the same time, I love being outdoors. So my war on these blood suckers continues with the lyrics of Ticks swirling in my head.

What’s your best tick tips on prevention and treatment?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. Don’t forget to enter to win my handcrafted leather journal! Click this link for your chance to win ->> a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Medical, Natural Health | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

by Todd Walker

Here’s a reader appreciation giveaway!

[The giveaway is over as of 7/3/2014. Thank you to all who participated and support our blog!]

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

 

I’m learning leather craft as one of my Doing the Stuff skills this year. This is my second leather journal I’ve made and want to give it away!

Dirt Road Girl and I want to say thank you for all the support you’ve shown to our family over the last two years on our blog. One person will win this rugged bushcraft journal.

I custom-made this journal cover with hand stitched waxed tread to fit over a Wood Grain Compass Rose Journal from Barnes and Noble – which was made in China but the cover is 100% American Made! Once you’ve filled this journal, simple replace it with another journal to continue documenting your journey to self-reliance and preparedness.

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

The Compass Rose Journal insert on the left

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

A closer look at the journal package

How To Enter

To be eligible to win, you must be a legal resident of the U.S.A. Apologies to our readers in other countries. We are only able to ship to a U.S. address. To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. You have 4 options to enter the giveaway:

1.) “Like” our Facebook page

2.) “Follow” us on Twitter

3.) Tweet about the giveaway

OR

4.) Leave a comment on this blog post.

I know not all of you do social media. That’s why we added #4. If that’s you, just write “Keep Doing the Stuff!” in the comment section below to enter the giveaway.

 

It’s not required that you choose all four of these options, but you may if you’d like. Oh, spread the word and thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

The giveaway will begin June 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM and end July 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM. Once Rafflecopter randomly selects the winner, I will announce the winner on our blog and social media accounts. I will also contact you via Facebook, Twitter, and/or email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours of the close of this giveaway, a second winner will be chosen.

DRG and I wish each of you the best of luck and look forward to give one lucky reader this custom leather journal.

Enter by Clicking the Link Below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 78 Comments

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.

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

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.

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

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