Doing the Stuff Book Review: Practical Self-Reliance by John D. McCann

by Todd Walker

Anyone Doing the Stuff of self-reliance will appreciate John McCann’s new book, Practical Self-Reliance: Reducing Your Dependency On Others. I bought his new book this summer and have throughly enjoyed the read!

practical-selfreliance-john-mccann

Right upfront, a distinction is made between being self-reliant verses self-sufficient. Self-reliance is attainable no matter where you’re located – a 40 acre homestead or urban apartment. Every step you take to decrease dependence on outside sources builds self-reliance. McCann makes it clear that self-sufficiency, providing for all of one’s own needs without outside help, is nearly impossible in today’s world. Few will achieve true self-sufficiency. However, the more self-reliance skills you put in your toolbox, the better off you’ll be to deal with everyday situations and live independently.

Since we’re all inter-dependent in varying degrees, the author takes you on his journey of building practical, real-world self-reliance in a well-written, easy to follow 16 chapter, 323 page book. As you know, I’m a DIY kinda guy. And this book is loaded with no-nonsense, easy to understand ideas and projects. Practical skills are laid out with photos and resources to get you started or to continue your journey. You’ll find his site, Survival Resources, on our Trusted Resources Page for the sheer number of practical DIY projects, tips, and articles.

Two of my favorite chapters are “Recycle & Repurpose” and “Let There Be Light”. One lighting project, Slush Lamps, is forehead-smacking simple but is sure to add value to anyone’s “Just In Case” preps. No expensive or fancy stuff needed to build one either. You’ve probably got all the needed supplies lying around the house. Add the DIY wick to cooking oil in a shallow dish, and, presto, you’ve got a long burning emergency light source.

We’ve installed rain water collection barrels on our house. One idea John tested in Chapter 10 (Water Is Essential) was a tarp collection system. Again, a simple, low-cost solution no matter where you live. He used 4 posts, a 8 x 10 foot tarp, one 5 gallon bucket, cordage, and rock to fill the bucket in two minutes during a rain shower. That’s resourceful!

If you’re a member of our Doing the Stuff Network, you know how I dislike self-appointed experts giving advise based on theory. This author is different! McCann is a self-proclaimed student of self-reliance, not an expert – even though many label him in the latter category. He’s earned his “student” status through years of trading theory for action in the laboratory of life. You’ll appreciate his long, gray beard as an added sign of experience and wisdom! ;)

The theme of Practical Self-Reliance fits perfectly with our mission here – Helping each other on the climb to self-reliance and preparedness… the Survival Sherpa way… one step at a time. Every small step you take to decrease dependence on others and our fragile systems is one step closer to personal independence and freedom. The best news is that you can apply these principles of self-reliance no matter where you live or whatever stage your on in your journey.

This book will help you get there! You can order online at Survival Resources and Amazon. The Kindle Edition has over 250 full color photos; black and white in the Print version.

He may not smile for photos often, but John McCann’s new book will put a smile on your face as you continue your journey to self-reliance and preparedness!

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: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Applied Physics for Self-Reliance: Newton’s 3 Laws of Doing the Stuff

by Todd Walker

Scientists use applied physics to find solutions to real world problems. These smart people put principles of physics to work to add value to our everyday lives. They trade theory for action!

In one of the most monumental scientific books ever written, Sir Isaac Newton painted a different picture of how the world works. His three simple laws of motion transformed the scientific community and set in motion a revolution in math and science.

Have you ever thought about applying the 3 laws of motion to improve your life, skill sets, and self-reliance?

If not, follow along as we go back to science class to explore, without boring lectures and calculus, the physics of Doing the Stuff of self-reliance.

“Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one’s own person is its ultimate reward.”
~ Patricia Sampson

Newton’s big idea became law after many people verified his theory with action. Here’s a simplified version of his Laws of Motion and how to apply them on your climb to self-reliance and preparedness. Keep in mind that each of these laws builds upon the previous law.

The 1st Law of Doing the Stuff

Newton’s first law of motion simplified…

Objects tend to keep doing the stuff they are doing, resting or moving, until some other force is applied to them.

Your level of self-reliance will not change without an unbalanced force being applied. Your lack of motion will not change unless something happens to you. Your life and skill set will stay the same.

applied-physics-selfreliance-doingthestuff

The flip side of this law is also true!

If you’re already in motion Doing the Stuff, you tend to continue in that direction. Once you start doing the stuff of self-reliance, momentum builds. The act of doing is the force needed to break the dam of dependence we all float in at times.

The first law of Doing the Stuff is to start. I put together 13 Preps You Can Do in 120 Seconds or Less to help you get moving. You’ll also find several self-reliance projects to try on the DIY Projects tab at the top of this page. Once the ball is rolling, it’s easier to keep it moving.

Self-reliance is a climb with many small steps. You may be putting off one or two skills you’ve always wanted to learn. Owning the skill will never happen until you take the first step of starting.

For instance, I was reluctant to start crafting leather. There was a 40 year stretch between my first leather project and my new leather creations. I’m no professional but, by starting, I’ve learned to make functional stuff from raw material with my own hands. That alone is reward enough for me.

By far, the biggest mistake I’ve made on my journey to self-reliance is failure to launch. Not starting a new skill, for whatever reason, effects zero motion. Overcome inertia with small starts.

Get this out of your mind. You don’t have to master the skill. But you must start! I would argue that combining many self-reliant skills trumps expertise in only one specialized area. Robert Heinlein said it best, “Specialization is for insects.”

Start doing as much as you can as much as you can!

The 2nd Law of Doing the Stuff

Newton’s second law of motion simplified…

When a force acts on an object, it will cause the object to accelerate.

Obvious, right?

A simple equation sums up the second law of Doing the Stuff:

F=ma (Force equals mass times acceleration)

applied-physics-selfreliance-doingthestuff

The more force applied to an object, the more it accelerates. This implies that working hard (applying force) will accelerate your skills.

Not so fast, speedy!

Force is a vector.

What’s a vector?

You can’t hold a vector. It’s not tangible. Simply put, it’s a number value. Vectors add both direction (focus point of the force) and magnitude (size of force) to the 2nd Law of Doing the Stuff.

The entire concept of accelerating your skills depends on where you apply force and the size of the force. Acceleration has direction. Speed does not. To accelerate your Doing the Stuff skills, it’s important to understand that acceleration is any change in an objects speed or direction.

To get an object (you) moving in a direction of self-reliance, focused force must be applied in that direction. The size of your force depends on the mass of the object (simple or complex skill) you want to move forward. Grabbing yourself by the bootstraps and hard work alone won’t get you there. You need force applied in a specific direction.

Here’s the thing…

You only have x amount of force available. It’s a limited resource which needs to be conserved – just like calories in a survival situation. Where you apply force is more important than how hard you work to hone your skills.

For instance, anyone who practices primitive fire craft understands the importance of direction and magnitude of force. Learning the nuances of friction fire methods takes practice and properly prepped material. Even then, all you’ll get is smoke and a sweaty shirt until you apply the proper amount of force at the correct angle. You can’t know that until you’ve created a primal ember.

applied-physics-selfreliance-doingthestuff

Our son’s first bow drill ember!

But once the ember is born, you’ll be in a state of euphoria staring at its glow!

The 3rd Law of Doing the Stuff

Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion simplified…

When one object exerts a force on an other object, the second object exerts and equal and opposite force back.

The chair you’re sitting on exerts an upward force equal to the downward force of your butt. If the size of the downward force exceeds the upward force, the furniture fails. In this example, you want equilibrium.

Forces come in pairs. If forces are symmetrical (equal), balance is achieved. No movement, forward or backward. The object is at rest and will remain at rest. Forever. See Law #1.

However, to move your Doing the Stuff skills along, you must create an unbalanced state. Controlled. Reproducible. Consistent.

applied-physics-selfreliance-doingthestuff

The Battle of Forces

There are two options to create motion (unbalanced state) in the battle of forces:

  1. Increase the magnitude (size) of one force against an opposite force
  2. Decrease or eliminate an opposite force

As mentioned in Law #2, force is limited. Option 1 is unsustainable for long-term self-reliance. You can only pump yourself up for so long before reaching exhaustion. Caffeine induced bursts of energy and hard work are necessary at times (and I partake in both), but eventually you body runs out of force.

The sustainable choice to build skills is to take a deuce. Eliminate and flush unproductive forces.

To illustrate, apply physics to your 72 hour kit or bug out bag. If your reduced to foot travel, the latest shiny survival stuff only adds mass on your back. Are these shiny objects even necessary to effect your survivability? Probably not!

With proper skills and essential tools, you increase skill set acceleration with the same amount of force. F=ma. The older I get, the more I realize the need to simplify life and remove opposing forces.

Less stuff x skills = self-reliance

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: Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Craft a Down and Dirty Survival Gig from a Sapling

by Todd Walker

In Surviving Large on Small Stuff, I was asked how I made the gig used to harvest the water moccasin in that post. Two months later – sorry for the delay – I give you my gig tutorial.

diy-survival-gig

A survival gig is a simple tool that has been used, and is still employed by primitive hunter-gatherers and boy scout troops, throughout history to add protein to campfire meals.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need to build your own survival gig.

Gather the Stuff

  • A sapling from a known species
  • Cutting tool(s) (folding saw and knife)
  • Cordage

Knowing the properties of trees comes in handy when selecting wood for your gig. As Chris, over at 35 Years of Scouting, discovered the hard way, along with 15 young scouts in his troop, the emetic properties of the Paw Paw tree on a recent camping trip. Everyone got sick. I appreciate his candor in sharing their lesson.

Step 1

Choose a 6 to 8 foot sapling from a hardwood family if available. American Beech trees scatter the understory near my shelter and personal space. I harvested a fairly straight sapling about 2 fingers in diameter and cut it to about 1 foot taller than my height. Bamboo is also a great selection since it grows like a weed (renewable) and crafts with ease.

Step 2

Trim the shaft of all limbs. Place the larger of the two ends on a wooden anvil (stump or log). With your knife and a baton, make two perpendicular splits into the end of the shaft. The depth of each cut should go 7 or 8 inches. Make deeper cuts for a wide-tined gig.

How to Craft a Down and Dirty Survival Gig from a Sapling

Strip the bark of the shaft the length of these splits. This can be done before making the splits. I did so after splitting to avoid handling the wet wood beneath the bark.

Step 3

Keep one pencil-sized limb from your trimmings. Split a 3 inch long green twig to make two spreaders. Wedge the first spreader into one split on the shaft. Once in place, install the other spreader into the opposite split.

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

Remove the spreaders and strip the bark

diy-survival-gig

A view from the business end

Step 4

With your knife, remove wood from the 4 gig points. Avoid the triangle of death (area of spread legs between the crotch and knees) when crafting wood. Always cut away and to the side of your body. Another power technique for whittling is the chest lever grip.

Chest lever gets it done safely

Chest lever gets it done safely

For a chest lever, grip the knife with the blade facing away from your body. Lock your arms against your sides. Contract your back and shoulder muscles while expanding your chest to move the wood against the cutting edge of your blade. The knife is anchored to your chest and hardly moves. Using a chest lever is a powerful and safe way to craft wood.

Step 5

Whittle gig points. Nothing fancy. Although I added a barb to each point on this gig. Totally unnecessary. Straight points work fine. As a matter of fact, the points are stronger without the barbs. But I wanted to test my new knife’s fine carving abilities. I’m pleased with my Red Barn Forge Bushcrafter! A little more dirt time and I’ll have a review on this knife for you.

Nice knife!

Love this knife!

Step 6

Lash the spreaders and shaft. I used 36# tarred bank line. Any cordage (natural or manmade) will do.

To preserve your cordage for later use, avoid tying hard knots. Use a timber hitch below the spreaders to get your lashing started. Tighten the cordage every 3 wraps with a toggle stick or, in my case, with the package carrying tool on my Swiss Army Knife.

Used about 6 feet of cordage here. Remember to trim the spreaders.

Used about 6 feet of cordage here

Terminate the lashing with a clove hitch. Both the timber hitch and clove hitch are easy to tie and untie without the need to cut your cordage.

Saw or cut the spreader sticks almost flush to make your gig streamline. I missed a creek lobster (crawfish) when the spreader sticks glanced off a rock in tight quarters.

This is a fun and easy project for backyard bushcraft, camping, and/or survival training. There’s a large degree of satisfaction in making your own gear when building self-reliance skills. Plus, campfire food seems to taste better when harvested with stuff you’ve crafted yourself!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

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

How to Make Lucky Sherpa Plantain Salve

by Todd Walker

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

When you’re Doing the Stuff of self-reliance, you’ll have the scars to prove it!

There seems to be no end to the things that attach to and attack my skin. Ticks, chiggers, cuts, burns, and poisonous plants seem to find me in the woods and backyard. My go to herb to treat these nasties that slip past my defenses is plantain. Chew a leaf of two and apply it to the area.

But what if plantain isn’t available?

Today is your lucky day!

I want to share with you an all-natural DIY ointment you can conveniently carry while practicing your Doing the Stuff skills. No need to chew the weed into a spit poultice. Just open the container, apply, and heal! I pack Lucky Sherpa Salve in all my kits now. It’s on the front row in my herbal medicine cabinet too.

There are store-bought salves available with ingredients you can’t pronounce. I like to know exactly what goes on (and in) my skin. Plus, I’m a cheap Doer of the Stuff.

Here’s how to create your own luck…

Lucky Sherpa Salve Recipe

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil
  • A handful of fresh plantain leaves
  • 1 ounce of beeswax
  • 2 Tbs of local honey
  • 1 tsp of Vitamin E oil
  • 2 Tbs of Almond oil (optional)
  • 8 drops of Tea Tree essential oil (optional)
  • 8 drops of Peppermint essential oil (optional)

How to Make Your Own

This is a topical recipe for external use only.

I’ve been battling a cyst for a while now. Plantain is an effective drawing agent. However, it grew tiresome traipsing into the yard after showers looking for fresh plantain. No one is more thankful for this convenient salve than DRG!

In a hurry to treat the cyst, I whipped up a batch. Gather a large handful of plantain leaves, broad leaf or narrow leaf will both work. The narrow leaf variety is plentiful in my area.

Place the harvested weed into a blender with a 1/2 cup of virgin coconut oil. Blend until it turns into a green liquid. I added two tablespoons of almond oil to help liquefy the mixture. It should look like a dark green smoothie when properly mixed.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

Scrape the sides to get it all!

Pour the mix into a pan and place over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes to infuse the good stuff with the oil. Stir the simmering pot occasionally.

After the concoction is infused, strain the mix through cheesecloth over a wire strainer into a clean boiler. I twisted the cheesecloth into a ball and squeezed it with tongs to extract the infused oil quickly.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

Place the pot of strained oil back on low heat. Add one ounce of grated beeswax to the mix. Beeswax is flammable. Keep the heat low or melt the wax in a double boiler before adding it to the plantain oil. Now add two tablespoons of local honey and one teaspoon of Vitamin E oil.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

Once the beeswax is melted, remove from heat and stir in the essential oils (optional). This step isn’t necessary. I added Tea Tree and Peppermint essential oil because of their healing properties. Tea Tree oil is also an effective insect repellent.

Test the consistency by placing a drop on a plate or wax paper and place it in the fridge for a few minutes. If it’s too thin after cooling, add more beeswax. Too thick, add oil until it’s right for you.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

An eclectic mix of containers for my Lucky Sherpa Salve

Use your Possum Mentality and round-up several containers with lids. Pour the liquified concoction into the clean containers and allow the mix to solidify. This recipe makes about 12 ounces of salve.

Benefits of Lucky Sherpa Salve Main Ingredients

Selecting ingredients for any recipe will determine the quality of the product. Start with the best stuff nature has to offer. Here are the benefits of my ingredients.

Plantain

Plantain may be the best utility player in the world of wild weeds. Check out plantain’s healing properties here.

Coconut Oil

This natural powerhouse contains super benefits.

  • Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
  • Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it effectively prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)
  • Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
  • Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)
  •  Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)
  • An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
  • Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
  • Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)
  • Anti-retroviral (kills HIV and HLTV-1)
  • Anti-viral (kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
  • Infection fighting
  • Has no harmful for discomforting side effects
  • Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
  • Nontoxic to humans and animals

Source

Honey

Local raw honey has been used for thousands of years for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Honey can be applied to burns, cuts, and scrapes for wound care. More sweet benefits can be found here.

Vitamin E

This antioxidant promotes healing of the skin and scar tissue.

  • Removes free radicals
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Speeds cell regeneration
  • Reduces oxidation rate
  • Improves skin hydration
  • Studies on rodents show promise for vitamin E’s reduction of the risk of skin cancer caused by UV exposure.

CYA Disclaimer:

I’m not a medical professional. I’m just a regular guy busy Doing the Stuff of self-reliance with calloused hands. This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be advice on treating, curing, preventing, or diagnosing diseases or conditions. Do your own due diligence with our information as it may not be complete.

With the above CYA taken care of, I can report that the drawing action of the plantain has made a huge impact to reduce the soreness and size of the cyst over three days. I apply Lucky Sherpa Plantain Salve to a gauze pad and tap it to the affected area twice daily. On the second day, the nastiness is oozing out. Sorry, that’s as delicate as I know how to put it. This stuff works for me!

No-see-ems and mosquitos were out last night while I was grilling. My ankles took the brunt of their bombing raids. I rubbed a dab of the salve on and the itching stopped almost immediately.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

This tin fits nicely in my haversack

If you want to get lucky and make your own, we’d like to hear how it turns out!

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, First Aid, Herbal Remedies, Natural Health, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Herbal Medicine Kit: Bleeding

Part 5 in our Go-to Herbal Medicine Kit series.

herbal-medicine-kit-bleeding

by Kat Yorba

Today we continue on with our series with looking at “Bleeding.”  We will discuss the herb Agrimony and Yarrow.  Make an Herbal Compress to stop Bleeding and a Tincture of Yarrow.

BLEEDING

Some people can handle the sight of blood, some can’t.  I am one of those who can’t.  But I find that being prepared…knowing ahead of time what to do and having my supplies on hand enables me to feel better about the whole issue.

 Let’s better understand what bleeding does.  Bleeding has it’s advantages.  It’s the bodies way of cleaning dire and foreign particles from a wound, and when exposed to air it forms a fibrous substance called fibrin.  This fiber creates a netting that entangles other blood cells so that they clot into a scab…your bodies natural band-aid!

So, you’re in a serious situation and bleeding needs to be stopped right away.  Certain herbs can be applied directly to the wounded area.  If this does not stop the bleeding, apply an herbal compress with pressure.  While administering herbal remedies, you should also try to slow the flow of blood by raising the injured area higher than the heart.

Agrimony, plantain and yarrow are versatile herbs that can arrest bleeding and encourage scabbing.

Keep in mind that treatments made with these herbs in the form of powders or poultices are an emergency tactic only.  Although herbs quickly arrest bleeding, they are not antiseptic enough so proper cleaning and disinfecting will also need to be done.  Use your discretion but seek medical attention when necessary!

Herbal Compress to Stop Bleeding

Click HERE to print recipe! 

 Herbal Medicine Kit   Bleeding 

Agrimony

 Herbal Medicine Kit   Bleeding

Defined

Agrimonia gryposepala: species native to North America commonly known as tall hairy agrimony was used by the Among the Iroquois people, Cherokee, The Ojibwe and other ingenious peoples for much the same purposes of the common agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria which was naturalized from europe. Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium Cannabinum (Linn.)and the Water Agrimony Eupatorium Aquaticum mas, have somewhat similar properties but are not botanically related.

Therapeutic Uses

Agrimony’s astringency is effective against diarrhea, especially in small children, and because of its low toxicity, the herb is particularly suitable for children’s illnesses. Agrimony stops irritation of the urinary tract that may increase a child’s urge to urinate and, therefore, may be useful in the treatment of bladder leakage (cannot hold urine), bed-wetting and adult incontinence.

Agrimony is perhaps best known as a wound herb used on medieval battlefields to staunch bleeding. This same property helps to staunch heavy menstrual bleeding as well. Agrimony is most used in modern herbal practice as a mild astringent and a tonic, the tannins it contains tone the mucus membranes making it is useful for alleviating the symptoms of coughs and sore throats. The combination of being a bitter tonic as well as an astringent herb make agrimony a valuable tonic for the digestive system and a useful remedy for healing peptic ulcers. The bitter principles in the plant support the function of the liver and gallbladder. The herbal tea can be used as a skin wash; it is thought to improve minor injuries and chronic skin conditions.

Recipe

Skin Wash/Tea/Infused Liquid for Creams or Gargle :

Standard brew using 1 teaspoon of dried herb to each cup hot water. The longer you let it steep, the more tannins are extracted. Make a stronger decoction for external use in baths and skin washes Drink 2 to 3 cups per day. Used in ointment form for skin rashes, and as a gargle for sore throat.

Yarrow

 Herbal Medicine Kit   Bleeding

Description:

Yarrow was once known as “nosebleed”, it’s feathery leaves making an ideal astringent swab to encourage clotting. Yarrow skin washes and leaf poultices can staunch bleeding and help to disinfect cuts and scrapes; taken as a tea it can help slow heavy menstrual bleeding as well. Yarrow is a good herb to have on hand to treat winter colds and flu; a hot cup of yarrow tea makes you sweat and helps the body expel toxins while reducing fever. The chemical makeup of yarrow is complex, and it contains many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins and volatile oil azulene. These compounds are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and help relax blood vessels. Yarrow should be on everyone’s list of remedies since the herb makes itself useful for everything from brewing beer to a hair rinse to preventing baldness. In China, yarrow is used fresh as a poultice for healing wounds. A decoction of the whole plant is prescribed for stomach ulcers, amenorrhoea, and abscesses.

Side Effects: 

Avoid in pregnancy, can cause allergic skin reactions in sensitive people who suffer from allergies related to the Asteraceae family. Moderation is the key to safe use, the thujone content can be toxic over an extended period of time

Recipe:

Yarrow Spritzer

For a tonic that soothes the nerves and uplifts at the same time, this is a good combination for an aroma lamp or mister. Also use as a facial steam for the benefits of yarrow that is skin healing and for spruce that helps the respiratory system.

Variations: Use lime instead of orange.

3 drops-Orange

4 drops-Spruce

2 drops -Ylang-Ylang

6 drops -Yarrow

How to Use:

Lamps/Diffusers:

15 to 20 drops of a blend can be used at a time in most standard sized aroma lamps.

 Mist Spray:

As a general rule use 15-30 drops per cup (8 oz.) of liquid for mist sprays, depending on your preference and the strength of the essential oils.

Yarrow Tincture

Click HERE to print!

  Herbal Medicine Kit   Bleeding

 

Recap:  That concludes our look at “Bleeding”.  Today we learned a little more about the herbs; Agrimony & Yarrow.  We made a Herbal Compress to stop Bleeding and also Yarrow Tincture.

Looking ahead:  Next post we will be learning all about “Bruises”.  We will first talk about Arnica, Witch Hazel and Chamomile.  Then move on to several recipes; Bruise Compress, Tincture of Arnica & a Herbal Ice.

Reminder:  Have on hand St. John’s wort flower tops, Witch Hazel Bark, Chamomile Flowers, Lavender Flowers, Lavender Essential Oil, Distilled Water, Washcloth for Compress.

————————————–

About Kat Yorba: Hi, I’m Kat. I’m a wife, mother, friend, massage therapist, writer, gardener, and child of God. I LOVE coffee, chocolate, essential oils, good books, cats, motorcycles, guns, drag racing and living in the USA! Learning to be more self-reliant & self-sufficient in a semi-homemade, homesteading way! Connect with Kat on her blog, Simply Living SimplyFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Herbal Remedies, Medical, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Plans Fail → Skills Endure

by Todd Walker

All the Survival Blogs in the world… cannot save you!

Coming from a fellow survival blogger, this may seem a bit strange. Hang with me as I explain.

plans-fail-skills-endure

My good friend, Daisy Luther – owner and writer at The Organic Prepper, wrote an article recently about reality checks in the prepper world. My favorite line in her article came from someone who is all too familiar with punches in the mouth…

Everyone’s got a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.

~ Mike Tyson

Like him or not, Tyson lands a stiff right hook in the mouth of every person who has ever attempted to plan for the unknown. You don’t have to be a professional boxer to understand that when life punches you in the mouth, Plan A goes bye-bye.

The self-reliant skills you, your family – and ultimately – your community possess will get you through the unknown unknowns. Your Plan B of getting out of dodge with your bug out bags loaded – children and pets in tow – is sound on paper. Have you actually put it to the test? Do you have a pre-determined destination besides the remote National Forest “teaming with wildlife and wild edibles?” No worries, there will be other desperate “like-minded” people in the hills willing to “lend” a helping hand.

Not so fast!

This popular SHTF survival plan has refugee written all over it.

Dirt Road Girl and I both have bug out bags and vehicle kits packed just in case. But we’re also realistic about our survivability if we ever need to get to our retreat on foot. And we don’t have young children tagging along for the hundred mile hike – just our two rescue mutts. Our Plan B only goes into action when a true SHTF scenario prevents us from staying put.

Young children changes the plan. Immediately. This point was driven home on my recent bushcraft trip with my second grade grandson. What you think might be a 72 hour trip would likely turn into a week or more. Packing enough food for that length of time would be prohibitive. You’re best bet would be to have several pre-planned, well stocked pit stops (friends and relatives) along the way and…

a fist full of skills!

We’ll cover two today – one for each fist.

Plan B Skills Go Beyond Your Bag of Stuff

The less you know, the more you need. No slam here. Just stating the facts.

In the early stages of my journey to self-reliance, I packed so much shiny survival stuff that I needed a pack mule for conveyance. Funny thing is, as my skills increased, my pack weight shrunk like it was on a late-night infomercial diet.

Plan B Skills transcend your stuff. You’ll never regret spending more time watching YouTube tutorials, reading how-to articles, and practical preparedness books. But here’s the catch…

You must practice the skills for yourself. That’s how trading theory for ACTION becomes personal!

Here are two essential skills that go beyond your bug out bag…

Fire Craft

Yep, I listed it first. Fire is life. So is water. Prioritizing your self-reliance skills is like playing the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. You throw paper and Mother Nature throws scissors. You lose.

It’s simple. You can’t physically carry enough water on a physically demanding  journey. Water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon. A Bic Lighter weighs nearly nothing. Fire creates potable water.

Plan A for water is a commercial water filter. It’s in my bag of stuff. Plan B relies on fire craft skills and a container.

Fire is beautifully redundant. With fire, you now have the ability to…

  • Purify water
  • Cook food
  • Stay warmth
  • Add comfort and security
  • Keep bugs and wild critters away
  • Signal rescuers if you want to be found
  • Boost morale – an overlooked commodity
  • Make stuff
  • Brew coffee – arguably its most important use ;)

If you’ve hung out here for any length of time, you know I love fire craft. If fire is life out there, carry modern fire tools (Plan A) – but Practice Primitive (Plan B) fire craft. Plan B is not for the faint of heart. But every self-reliant man, woman and child can – and should – have fun building primitive fire skills.

Plan A Fire Craft Kit:

Plan B Fire Craft Skills:

  • Friction based – Bow drill, hand drill, fire plow are a few options
  • Flint and steel – char material needed to catch a spark

Shelter Craft

Develop and practice the skill of creating cover. A dry cover protect you from the elements to prevent hypothermia and hyperthermia.

Many options are available in the shelter category. Buy, make, or barter for a durable Plan A covering for thermoregulation. Consider space, weight, quality, and redundant uses for your shelter.

  • USGI poncho – This poncho is military issue and very tough. It can be used as a tarp shelter, cover your body and pack, and can even be made into a mini canoe.
Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Poncho and hiking poles for a quick shelter

  •  Silnylon – a lightweight covering that is water and wind proof
  • Contractor Trash bags – Good for emergency shelter and collecting resources
  • Waxed canvas – a more traditional shelter which weighs more but bomb proof
  • Oilskin cloth tarp – cotton fabric treated with oil and wax
  • Walled tents
  • Space blanket
  • Proper clothing offers shelter
  • Natural rock ledges, caves, and hollow trees
  • Build your own shelter – hone your cutting tools and build a shelter
DSCN0480

A roll of tarred bank line, used billboard, natural material, a saw, axe, and knife were used to build my Trapper’s Shelter

The importance of setting up shelter – especially in the dark – shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re a hammock sleeper, do you remember how to tie the knots to hang your tarp and hammock in the dark? Practice tying a few useful knots until they’re automatic.

Plan B Skills are Your Knock Out Punch

I’ve been punched in the mouth many times – literally and figuratively. Both jabs hurt. But at the end of your bout, in the flurry of flying fists, the skills you’re Doing, not the stuff you’ve read about, will keep you from tapping out when your life is on the line.

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, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Grease the Groove for SHTF

by Todd Walker

Personal SHTF events are more likely to happen than TEOTWAWKI.

grease-the-groove-shtf

Here’s a fresh example.

I decided to take my 7-year-old grandson on a bushcraft trip with two other grown men last weekend. We hiked about a mile into the woods to practice a few Doing the Stuff outdoor skills for an upcoming survival class.

We set up, built a fire, and then it happened… a personal SHTF for my grandson.

The trip was too demanding for Max. Poor planning and judgement on my part. He needed to go back to the cabin. I ended up carrying him most of the way through fields of hip-tall grass and briars. Had he been injured and unable to walk, I would have had to carry him the entire trek.

Be Strong to be Useful

Developing physical strength is a skill, not just a part of fitness programs. Are you physically prepared to deal with a SHTF event – personal or otherwise?

It makes sense to prioritize for probable scenarios over cataclysmic-end-of-world stuff. But hey, if you’re totally convinced a Zombie Apocalypse is in your near future, this post will help you defeat your un-dead attackers too!

For the rest of us non-zombie believers, we’ll keep doing the practical stuff of self-reliance.

One skill utilized everyday, that is often taken for granted, is functional fitness. If carrying a loved one to safety, changing a flat tire, lifting a toddler, walking two flights of stairs, or hoeing a row is out of the question for you physically, it’s time for you to Grease the Groove.

grease-the-groove-shtf

GTG pushups while hiking.

I first heard the phrase Grease the Groove (GTG) when I started living a Primal/Paleo lifestyle over four years ago. My once athletic physique was 50 pounds overweight and my middle-aged body was a wreck. Mirrors were my enemy. Achy joints were my constant companion.

The Grease the Groove concept came from Soviet Special Forces trainer Pavel Tsatsouline. The idea is to perform a specific exercise frequently throughout the day without reaching muscular failure (max repetitions). Perform 50% – 75% of maximum about 4 to 5 times a day. Keep this up GTG routine up for a few weeks and test you max again for the exercise you’ve chosen to strengthen.

For me, GTG and my new lifestyle changed my pitiful pull up numbers when I couldn’t eek out one stinkin’ pull up.

I’ll confess, I’ve let my numbers slip. So I’ve started greasing the groove again. My goal is to do 15 pull ups – with proper form – before I attend the survival school in a couple of months. I’m guessing I could make it through the course at my present fitness level, but I’m fond of  personal physical challenges.

Here’s my GTG plan…

Install a pull up bar in my classroom. Between class change and breaks (my cue or trigger), I’ll knock out 3 to 5 pull ups. No sweat involved. This would put me in the 20 to 25 pull ups per day range at school for the next eight weeks. The pull up bar behind my shop will be used every time I grill out or fetch a garden tool. These quick reps will all be sub-maximal effort.

I’ll continue my normal bodyweight exercises; push ups, squats, sprints, lifting heavy stuff, and walking – but grease the groove with pull ups only. I’m sharing my pull up challenge for accountability and progress monitoring I suppose. I’ll do my best to update my progress for y’all.

Smash Plateaus with GTG

The principle of Greasing the Groove offers benefits in several areas of self-reliance. This technique can be employed in firearms training, food independence, habit training, self-defense, situational awareness, and all our Doing the Stuff skills.

Repeatedly performing a specific movement causes your nervous system and muscles to work in unison. With enough time and repetition, the movement or skill becomes more natural and easier to perform. Automatic!

Focus on one movement or skill in 2 to 4 week cycles. The key is to remain fresh without reaching fatigue. If you want to shoot more accurately but can’t afford range trips daily, practice drawing and dry firing your unloaded sidearm 3 or 4 times a day between range trips.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Whatever skill you want to strengthen, greasing the groove is a simple technique to get crazy numbers of reps.

Smash your plateaus and be the hero in all your SHTF events!

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: Doing the Stuff, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Unstoppable Self-Reliance: The Tree is in the Seed

by Todd Walker

unstoppable-self-reliance

Ever judge a book by its cover? As a teacher, this happens more times than I’m comfortable to admit in my vocation. We tend to forget our youth.

I’m reminded of the agony I dished out to select teachers. Apologies, Mr. Holmes, for the skunk scent on the radiator heater in your room in ’73. You’ll be happy to hear that I’ve reaped many of the seeds I’ve sown in my own classroom!

I’m sure some of my teachers wrote me off after many of my school antics. Thankfully, a few looked beyond the seed and saw the tree.

I’ve been fortunate to have mentors in my life. The best ever has been my father. He did more than simply pass our genetic code down at conception. Daddy witnessed all my flaws – up close and personal – but never quit nurturing the potential in his seed.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Mark Twain

Here’s the thing…

I’m not naive enough to think that everyone has an awesome mentor in their life. The fact that you’ve read this far shows that you’re interested in becoming less dependent on others by growing independent roots.

The Tree is in the Seed

Here’s another fact: Everything you need to become self-reliant is already in your DNA.

The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in a seed is a recipe that determines the size, shape, fruit, and usefulness of each tree, weed, plant, and all living organisms. This hereditary code is stored in chemical bases that form a twisted ladder called a double helix. The seed’s task is to grow and transfer these characteristics from one generation to the next.

What if you inherited bad self-reliance genes? You may have never attempted a DIY project in your life. Here’s the good news…

DNA doesn’t have to determine your destiny. Genetic code is a recipe, not a blueprint etched in stone. You can change the outcome by tweaking ingredients to suit your taste. Granted, you can’t un-freckle your face – thanks to grandma’s generous gene sharing. But you can influence how your self-reliance gene is expressed.

Self-reliance DNA isn’t about physical appearance. Our actions, the stuff we do, the ground we grow in shapes our self-reliance. In a nut shell, it’s about taking responsibility for your own life through the choices you make.

5 Choices for Unstoppable Self-Reliance

Choice #1: Start

Your journey to self-reliance begins with one step… the first one!

Click here for a list of skills fellow DTS members are learning.

Pick a skill, any skill… and START. You’ll be sloppy at first. That’s part of the process.

Our Trusted Resources Page is a great place to build some background knowledge to ease you into self-reliance skills or help you hone the skills you possess.

By taking that first step, you’ll begin creating a new identity. Each tiny choice to do for yourself weakens the chains of dependency. Here are some skills you can start doing in the comfort of your home or backyard.

Being completely self-sufficient may not be your ultimate aim. Your location my be limited by pesky restrictions or space. Even if you live in an urban apartment, you can take small steps towards self-reliance by growing some of your own food on a balcony or community garden.

Here’s the formula: Start – Repeat – Start – Repeat…

Choice #2: Hours

That’s how long it takes to own a skill. Reading about the stuff is nice, but not enough.

I’m an avid reader. Right now I’m midway through John McCann’s book, Practical Self-Reliance: Reducing Your Dependency on Others. The reason I mention John’s book is to illustrate how he and Denise are committed to living an independent life. The self-reliant skills they’ve acquired have taken thousands of hours. Check out his site for some featured how-to articles and tips.

This quote from John will resonate with our Doing the Stuff Networkers:

Being Self-Reliant is not a pastime, but a way of life.

~ John D. McCann

There are no short cuts to self-reliance. Plan on logging many hours with dirty hands. But the satisfaction of knowing you growing into an independent “tree” is so worth it!

Choice #3: Student Teaching

Taking advice from instant-experts is not only dangerous, but can be deadly. In the blogosphere, all you need to do is read 3 books, regurgitate the info, and bam, you’ll amaze your fans… until the Q&A session begins without a teleprompter. This isn’t directed at anyone in particular. But if the shoe fits…

Find teachers who are students of self-reliance. To teach the stuff, they maintain a humble student mindset. I’ve known teachers who have taught for 30 years and only gained one year of teaching experience. They repeated that one boring lesson for 30 years.

We all have expertise in certain areas. A true expert is never satisfied. They’re always learning, exploring, discovering, and questioning. Learn from people who have unquenchable curiosity.

Choice #4: Own the Skill

It’s easy to think rubbing two sticks together will produce fire. You saw the technique on YouTube. But unless you’ve actually created several embers from friction, you don’t own the skill – you know about the skill. Experience is the best teacher!

I was humbled in front of my students as they stood around watching smoke billow from my bow drill. These two pieces of wood had produced several embers for me at home. The schoolyard was a different story. They got a lesson in friction but not fire. Not that day at least.

This fail illustrates how, even with practice, in a low-stress environment, you won’t always succeed. To be honest, I had a bit of performance anxiety. Stress impaired my circulation, judgement, and fine motor skills. I didn’t own the skill at that point – at least not when people (my students) were depending on me.

Playing out survival scenarios in your mind is helpful, but mind games will only get you so far. Owning a physical skills will alter your perception and move you from uncertainty to confidence. Meaning, your skill set matches your mindset.

Practice until you own it!

Choice 5#: Share the Stuff

Once you own a skill, share it. You have value to add!

Fear of failing or being rejected is normal. Share the stuff anyway!

Writing has taught me to overcome my fear of rejection. Will people read my stuff? Will it add value? I never know until I hit “publish”. There are no masterpieces here. If I waited for my magnum opus to be written, this site would be empty.

Perfection is way overrated.

With each new skill I teach or post I write, I add more value to myself than my students or readers. Risk rejection and start sharing your stuff for unstoppable self-reliance.

Time to pass on some self-reliance DNA. Remember, the tree is in the seed!

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, Self-reliance | Tags: | 5 Comments

Why Being a “Tree Hugger” Builds Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

I’ve never considered myself a “tree hugger” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

noun: someone who is regarded as foolish or annoying because of being too concerned about protecting trees, animals, and other parts of the natural world from pollution and other threats [Emphasis mine]

Yesterday I annoyed a few motorists crossing a narrow country bridge on a tree hugger outing. Not intentionally, mind you. It’s just that I needed to photograph a beautiful American Sycamore stretching its molten limbs over a muddy Georgia river. One trucker let me know how foolish I looked by blaring his air horn as I perched on the bridge railing snapping my shutter. Unaffected, I continued my craziness.

The thought of being a tree hugger, as previously defined, may not describe you, but every person on the journey to self-reliance and preparedness would benefit from hugging a tree or two.

You’re conflicted, right? Well, don’t be.

It’s our responsibility to protect, use, and conserve our natural resources. We’re stewards of this land. Our Appalachian ancestors understood the properties of trees and how to use the wood, bark, leaves, and roots to build a sustainable life. There were no box stores with stacks of dimensional lumber to build a house. If a handle shattered, they knew the best wood to use for re-hafting an ax. Tulip Poplar was abundant and used to build houses and hand-hewn log cabins. The Appalachian pioneers knew their wood!

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

A young sycamore growing near the roadside

There are boat-loads of info on edible weeds and medicinal plants. I’ve found a lack of printed material on the medicinal/edible uses of trees. I have many of the Foxfire book series and always look to add more to my self-reliance library. Clue me in if you have more tree resource books, please. So, like any good Doer of the Stuff, I’m embarking (pun intended) on a tree education journey as part of my Doing the Stuff Skills list. Who knows, maybe you’ll be convinced to embrace your inner tree hugger.

Ready, set, hug!

The first tree to wrap your arms around is the American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). It can reach heights over 130 tall, over 10 feet in diameter, and grow to be 600 years old. George Washington documented in his journal in 1770 a sycamore with a diameter of 14 feet (45 feet in circumference). Trees this large usually have hollow trunks that house animals of all sorts. It’s been reported that settlers even used hollowed Sycamore trees to shelter livestock.

The rapid growth rate of this deciduous tree causes the bark to shed in molten fashion like a birch tree. Its camouflage pattern of light green and brownish gray with creamy white background splotches causes the trunk to stand out in late fall and winter when forest leaves lay on the ground. The exfoliating bark and coloration makes the sycamore one of the easiest deciduous trees in the eastern woodlands to identify in the winter.

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

The Sycamore and Self-Reliance

The fast growing American Sycamore likes wet bottom land near streams, rivers and ponds in full sun. Their leaves are similar to maple but not as spectacular since they turn a boring brown in the fall. Beavers find the bark appetizing.

In Bushcraft 

Bushcraft refers to the art of crafting in the bush (woods) with minimal tools and lots of skill.

  • Sycamore’s fibers intertwine making it an excellent wood for spoon and bowl carving. The wood tends to warp in the drying process, so use dried, seasoned wood.
  • Not rot resistant and shouldn’t be used for longterm structures exposed to the moisture.
  • The sap offers a year-round source of hydration in warm climates.
  • The sycamore can also be tapped like a maple tree for syrup or sugar. However, it takes a lot of sap to make small batches of sycamore syrup.
  • Shade-casting crown of large trees offer shelter from the sun.
  • Large leaves (up to 10 inches across) can be used as a wrap for slow cooked food over coals for an added sweet flavor.
tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

This green leaf measured almost 9 inches across

In Woodwork 

  • Sycamore is grown commercially for pulp and rough lumber.
  • Interlocking grain makes nice accent pieces for woodworking.
  • Turns easily on a lathe for bowls.
  • Beautiful specking on gun stocks.
  • Music boxes; guitars and violins.
  • Hard to split which makes sycamore an excellent butcher’s block.
  • Quarter sawn makes this wood more stable for projects. Flat sawn tends to warp.
  • It gets one of its nicknames “Buttonwood” from it ability to create durable wooden buttons.
  • The wood is food safe and was used for food crates and barrels in the past.

In Medicine

Inner bark tee was used for a wide variety of treatments by Native Americans.

  • Colds, coughs, and lung ailments
  • Measles
  • Emetic – cause vomiting
  • Laxative
  • Astringent properties to treat skin issues and eye wash
  • Sweet sap on the inner bark used for wound dressing
  • Sap can also be used to make wine

The American Sycamore is a pioneer species. About forty years ago, we stopped cultivating a small field on wet bottom land on our family farm. Today we have a large stand of native sycamores growing wild.

tree-hugger-self-reliance-uses-american-sycamore

What was once several acres of corn we pulled by hand

Being a “tree hugger” should not carry a negative stereotype or denote a political affiliation for those of us building self-reliance skills and pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle. Embrace your love of trees and learn to be stewards of these towers of the forest!

Have you hugged a tree today?

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Medical, Natural Health, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

How to Build a “Stairway to Heaven” Rat Trap in 15 Minutes

by Todd Walker

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Rats… I hate rats!

We dropped our bushcraft kits in my shop when we got home. I’d just taught my grandson to cook his first simple meal over our campfire – Raman noodles! The next morning I was greeted with this…

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Good thing we don’t live in bear country

In our excitement over his latest bushcraft lesson, we forgot to remove his food items from his pack.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Rat noodles!

Apparently, rats love Raman noodles.

Actually, these rodents will eat just about anything. We were fortunate that we only lost a pack of cheap noodles and was left with only one extra opening in his pack. If left to their own survival instincts – they gotta eat – rats can destroy non-hardened food storage items and spread disease.

I’m always trying to build a better mouse trap. I saw a couple of bucket rat traps on YouTube that seemed clever. This would be the perfect time to test the theory.

Here’s how to make a bucket rat trap in 15 minutes from everyday stuff.

How to Make a Bucket Rat Mouse Trap 

Gather Your Stuff

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • One 5 gallon bucket
  • One unopened can of liquid
  • Ice pick, awl, or drill bit for making holes
  • Pliers
  • Wire
  • Bait – peanut butter

First Step

Drill two holes on opposite sides of the bucket about a half-inch below the rim. The hole diameter should be a little larger than the wire you’ve chosen to use.

Second Step

Remove the paper label. Use you’re ice pick or drill to bore a hole in the center of the can lid. If you plan to reuse the liquid, turn the can over and bore another hole in the bottom of the can over a container. This will vent the can and empty in a few minutes.

Third Step

Skewer the can with the wire. This took time and patience trying to thread the wire through the second hole blindly. You could use a clear water bottle with the cap on to make this easier.

Once the wire is through both ends, make sure the wire extends a few inches past the bucket on both edges. With the threaded can centered over the bucket, crimp the wire at both ends of the can. This will keep the can sliding to the edge of the bucket which would defeat the trap.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Once crimped, insert the wire into both holes. You will need to bend the second side of the wire to get it in the hole. Just straighten the wire after it’s through the hole. Center the can over the bucket opening and bend the spare wire on the outside of the bucket around the bucket rim to keep the can centered over the bucket.

Fourth Step

If you think you’ve got a rat to deal with, pour about 6 to 8 inches of water in the bucket.Big rats can jump. The water prevents the vermin from leaping to freedom. For mice, use less water. At least that’s the theory…

—————————————————

PROJECT ALERT!

Warning: You’re about to see dead stuff! If easily offended by the sight of dead rats, turn back now!

Just walked out to my shop to check the bait and Ratzilla just ran up the wall onto some storage shelves. This sucker stands on the edge of the bucket eating my peanut butter!

Change of plans. This bucket trap may work for mice but not for this nemesis! As Roy Scheider, star of Jaws, said when he laid eyes on the shark, “Your going to need a bigger boat.” When dealing with Ratzilla and his kin, you’re going to need a bigger bucket!

I stand there in shock as he hides on top of the shelf mocking me with his shrieks. It’s on! No more cute little YouTube contraptions. You know, there are times when a better mouse trap has already been built. Use it!

I pulled a rat trap from my bushcraft kit. Large rat traps are part of my survival trapping kit. They’re useful for trapping tree rats (squirrels) and other small game in a survival scenario.

I’ll finish the MOUSE trap tutorial in a moment. But for now, I’ll share my progression of trap sets for this monster…

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

Epic fail! The Victor rat trap trigger had been stripped of peanut butter and was dangling from the bucket. Now what? DRG suggested that the “Stairway to Heaven” was not wide enough and the Victor trap needed to be placed, as designed, flat on the floor. I reset the trap and anchored it. I’ve had rats drag traps out of reach before. Rotting rat inside a wall is not pleasant!

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

I ditched the bucket and used the Victor rat trap alone. Think he’ll drag 10 pounds?

Update: He didn’t have to. He cleaned the peanut butter off the trigger… AGAIN!! I’m ready to load the .38 with snake shot! On second thought, he may take a hollow point. This is war!

DRG suggested using a different bait, one he wouldn’t easily remove. I modified the trigger to make the V-shaped metal tab stick up at a 45º angle. I then formed a ball of cheese around the trigger and reset the trap.

Thirty minutes later I flip the light switch on with my neck hair bristled. It looked like a murder scene minus the white chalk outline. Finally, Ratzilla was dead. I’ll spare you the bloody shots. No, this is not the bloody shot below. He measured over 15 inches from nose to tip of the tail.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

R.I.P Ratzilla

If you see one, there is usually more. And they don’t leave on their own accord. I reset the trap after 11 o’clock that night – way past my bed time. Checked the next morning and one of his girlfriends couldn’t resist the cheese. Disposed of her and reset. You guessed it, caught another one! Three dead rats.

Note about sanitation: Avoid handling dead rats and mice with your bare hands. Wash your hands throughly after handling rat traps.

stairway-to-heaven-bucket-rat-trap

——————————————-

“Stairway to Heaven” How-to Continued…

Not sure if the continuation of the tutorial is even necessary at this point. I didn’t have a mouse problem, I had rats! This is why I continue to stress the importance of trading theory for ACTION before you actually need critical gear and equipment.

Here’s how to finish the bucket mouse trap.

Fifth Step

Spread peanut butter over the surface of the can. When a mouse scurries up the ramp to eat, in theory, he will leap to the can for the bait, spin off the wheel and drown. I can’t see why this bucket mouse trap wouldn’t work on mice.

Trading Theory for Action Lessons

This set up is genius on paper. It would allow me to catch multiple varmints without having to re-bait or reset the trap. Set it and forget. But in real life, you’re going to need a bigger bucket – or smaller rats.

The thought of using a wide-mouth bucket to increase the distance to the bait wheel occurred to me early on in this epic battle. But due to my obsession with destroying Ratzilla’s posse in a timely manner, I had no time to waste. I wanted them dead. Now!

What I discovered is that my bucket trap was nothing more than a rolling rotisserie for large rats. Stick with proven traps for Ratzilla and company or build a better mouse trap.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

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