Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything

by Todd Walker

Read the next two lines and stop. Look around you. Make a mental note of all the useful stuff produced from two resources… wood and metal.

Really, stop reading for a second!

Okay, come back now.

What did you come up with? If you only noted the obvious wooden and metallic items, go deeper. With a little thought, your list should grow exponentially.

Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything -

The fact is, wood and metal were directly or indirectly responsible for building your house, mailbox, wall clock, sofa, and the electronic device you’re reading from this very moment.

Wood and metal go together like peas and carrots. Metal tools are used to shape wood. But wood creates fire to heat metal for making said tools. And don’t forget about the useful wooden handles attached to metal tools. There’s a relationship between the two resources in which both benefit from the other. In biology, we call this mutualism.

For long-term self-reliance, learning to manipulate and exploit these resources will make you an indispensable asset to both family and community.

Blacksmithing: The Master of All Crafts

Except for harnessing fire, nothing in human history compares to the discovery of metal and its ability to be molded, formed, and poured into useful shapes. Blacksmithing is the only craft that makes their own tools and the tools of other craftsmen.


Traditional Appalachian Smithy at Foxfire Museum

You don’t have to dial back in time too far to find Bob the Blacksmith being the most prominent tradesman in town. In need of a gate latch? Go see Bob. How about that crack in your froe? Bob can forge weld it and have you back splitting cedar shakes for your roof in no time. Making a hammer for your flint-lock rifle could be done by Bob.

Basic Smithing Tools

To build a functional smithy, you’ll need a few tools. No need to spend a boatload of money to get started either. Shop yard sales, flea markets, scrap yards, farm auctions, estate sales, and antique stores – the highest prices are usually paid at antique stores.

Here are the basic tools needed for beginners like me…

  • Anvil ~ A real blacksmithing anvil may be your largest cash outlay. A common man’s anvil can be a section of railroad track or large block of metal – 100 plus pounds mounted to a wooden stump.
  • Forge ~ Charcoal, coal, or gas-powered, the forge will heat your steel for shaping and tempering metal. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A hole in the ground will work. Some sort of blower to increase heat in your coal or charcoal. Blowers are not needed for a propane forge.
Propane forge at Red Barn Forge

Dave’s new propane forge at Red Barn Forge

  • Hammer ~ A 2 to 3 pound hammer to work hot metal. You can add to your hammer collection over time. There are four basic types of hammers for moving metal: straight peen, ball peen, cross peen, and sledge.
  • Tongs ~ Long handle pliers used to grip hot steel while hammering.
  • Vise ~ A bench vise mounted on a sturdy work bench. I’ve yet to acquire a blacksmithing post vise.
  • Files ~ Flat and half-round
Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything -

File and file card

  • Quench Bucket ~ Container large enough to hold about 5 gallons of water to cool hot metal and for tempering.
  • Safety Equipment ~ Eye protection, ear protection, leather boots, natural fiber clothing, welding gloves, fire extinguisher and water bucket/hose, first aid kit.
  • Like other crafts, there are almost endless numbers of tools and items you’ll want to acquire as your skill level increases.
The "anvil" is a solid piece of steel I'll mount to a stump.

The “anvil” (lower right) is a solid piece of steel I’ll mount to a stump.

Though I’ve always known the importance of this craft historically, my dabbling has only produced a few items. However, after a recent Georgia Bushcraft camping trip, I realized it’s time to get serious about hammering steel.

Stephan Fowler of Fowler Blades spent two hours in the rain demonstrating, in less than optimal conditions, the process of turning a file into a functional cutting tool. The blade was not his best work considering he used a crumbly rock as an anvil, an air mattress pump for a billow, and burning chunks of hardwood on the ground as his forge.

I was honored to have won this file knife which Stephan made in a fire challenge during the campout!

I was honored to have won Stephan’s survival file knife in a fire-building challenge during the campout!

Check out what Stephan produces when he has access to his real forge → here.

And now for the video of Stephan making a knife from a file, in the rain, on a rock anvil…

Your skill level doesn’t have to be superior to be useful for long-term self-reliance. The more you hammer steel and study metallurgy, the better you become.

Blacksmithing Resources

Blacksmithing in America was hot and heavy during our pioneer days in North America. Not long after the Industrial Revolution, the art of blacksmithing survived only as a specialty craft. Thankfully, the secrets of metallurgy, once guarded in guilds, is being passed on through modern-day blacksmiths. Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful in connecting with local craftsmen.


The craft of woodworking compliments blacksmithing more so than any two trades I know. Developing the skill to make handles for metal tools or mill lumber from a tree to accept the nails you forged on your anvil could one day feed your family in hard times. I’ll bet your master gardener neighbor would be willing to barter food for tools and repairs on her homestead.

If you’re like me, you find yourself dabbling in all sorts of pioneer skills. One skill I’ve become proficient at is carpentry. However, take away my power tools and my skill level drops several notches.

A mix of modern and pioneer tools

A mix of modern and pioneer hand tools

Working wood with pioneer tools is based on the same principles as modern woodworking… with a steeper learning curve and physicality. Don’t abandon your power tools. Here’s my list of basic wood working tools, both modern and pioneer style.

Modern Tools

  • Hammers ~ A 16 oz. claw hammer and a larger framing hammer (20 oz.) to get you started.
  • Saws ~ Circular, chop/miter, table, jig, reciprocating – cordless and corded. Cordless 18v batteries can be charged via solar chargers if the need arises.
  • Drills ~ Cordless impact driver and drill, corded drill press, and an assortment of drill bits (wood and metal), screw bits, and socket bit adapters.
  • Squares ~ Tri-square, combination, speed square, and carpenter’s square. Used to mark and test angles. Buy metal squares to use with hot metal work. Plastic melts.
  • Levels ~ Torpedo, 2 foot, and 4 foot bubble levels keep things plumb.
  • Measuring and Marking Devices ~ 25 foot steel tape measure, wooden folding ruler, carpenter’s pencil, chalk line.
  • Utility Knife ~ One of my most used tools on my belt.

Pioneer Tools

  • Hammers, Mallets, and Mauls.

  • Saws ~ Hand saws: crosscut, rip, compass saw, coping, and bucksaw.
  • Drills ~ Brace and bit, augers, bits of various sizes.
  • Squares ~ Same as listed above; Tri-square, combination, speed square, and carpenter’s square. Used to mark and test angles. Buy metal squares to use with hot metal work. Plastic melts.
  • Levels ~ Torpedo, 2 foot, and 4 foot bubble levels keep things plumb and work as straight edges.
  • Measuring and Marking Devices ~ 25 foot steel tape measure (roughing work), wooden folding ruler, steel drafting ruler (bench work), pencil, chalk line.
  • Smoothing Planes ~ Both long and short. Stanley makes great planes and can be had inexpensively but may need some TLC to make them useable.
  • Chisels ~ A variety of sizes kept super sharp… which I’m known not to do.
  • Draw Knives ~ Draw knives for roughing wood to shape and spoke shaves for finishing form.
  • Shave Horse ~ Holds stock freeing both hands to work wood with a draw knife or spoke shave.
Pioneer tools at Foxfire Museum

Pioneer tools at Foxfire Museum

  • Froe ~ A simple tool used to split (rive) wood into shingles, boards, and staves.
  • Rasp ~ Both flat and half-round. A 4-in-1 rasp is utilitarian.

Notice I didn’t delve into the actual skill sets needed. That would take a long time and lots of bandwidth. However, I do recommend that you begin stockpiling metal and woodworking tools. They may be useful one day.

Oh, and never pass up scrap metal. Collect lawn mower blades, leaf springs, bar stock, round stock, pallet wood, hardware (nails, screws, nuts and bolts), old files, tool steel, sharpening devices, sheet metal, saws, etc., etc.

I made this end table for DRG from pallet wood, 150 year-old house siding, an old yard stick, and sheet metal.

I made this end table for DRG from pallet wood, 150 year-old house siding, an old yard stick, and sheet metal.

Real stuff, almost all stuff, can be made from skilled hands with metal and wooden tools. Learning to work these two resources may start as a hobby or pastime but could very well insure your livelihood in hard times.

Did you think of anything that was made without metal and/or wood being directly or indirectly involved in the process? Bet you didn’t.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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

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, equipment, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Resilience, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

31 Ways to Help Kids Trade Screens for Streams

by Todd Walker

“Go outside and play” were words rarely spoken in our home growing up. “Come inside and eat” was the usual echo coming from the back door.


Nothing indoors held my attention like the woods and streams of my youth. Curiosity drove me and my band of woodland brothers to explore the next creek bend, hilltop and raven. We were amazed by all creatures great and small. All the while imagining Daniel Boone leading our scout party with animal calls from cupped hands. We threw knives at our feet in games of wit and courage, climbed trees, built forts and tree houses. We camped under open skies on horseback, walked barefoot, sprawled in fields of clover, caught crawfish, frogs, and snakes. We’d swim underwater through jagged wooden crates in the muddy farm pond, fished with a homemade cane pole after digging for worms, discovered poison ivy, chiggers, nettles, and yellow jacket nests, shot bows and arrows, sling shots… and managed to retained our sight after many a BB gun battle (not recommended – but very instructive). We managed to return home smelling of campfires and creek mud.

All without adult supervision!

Our wild adventures took place before the video game era. Do you remember a time… before screens replaced streams?

Many blame the “easy” entertainment industry and techno babysitters for the apathy and aversion to the outdoors in kids these days. If electrical outlets and wifi were available on the river bank, Johnny would take more fishing trips with grandpa.

There’s no denying the usefulness of our modern information age. But… is this modern tool using us instead of us using it? In our age of glowing screens and systematic knowledge, our children (and many grownups) have lost touch with the hands-on, down and dirty, wonder of nature.

We’ve become domesticated animals. Bored. Pacing in our cages we and society built. The days of running the woods like savages to bring home nature’s treasures are being replaced with watching all manner of things gone wild on video and TV. Our faith in high-tech is a poor substitute for the real thing.

Trade Screens for Streams

Our feral genes scream for streams not screens! This primal urge has always lurked within.

There’s no condemnation or finger-pointing here. Instead, a simple call to action to get out there. Outside where the wild things live. Where curiosity knows no bounds. Where boredom is swallowed by wonder. Where life is not artificial and sanitized but raw and real. Where constant distractions and advertisements ends.

With summer break approaching, schooled kids will finally be freed from concrete captivity and mind-numbing restraints. No longer stuffed with useless facts and test taking strategies, kids can be feral and free. Wet, filthy, cold, hot, sweaty, curious, healthy and living their wildest dreams!

“My children don’t like being outdoors,” you may be thinking to yourself. That’s why I’m writing to you, the parent, grandparent, aunt, or friend. Your job is to foster feral activities that reconnect your child to the natural world. Notice I used foster, not force. When they yell, “I’m bored!”, your role as a feral facilitator begins. Please don’t couch your nature proposal as an educational experience. Simply get them outside and they will teach themselves as they follow their self-directed interest. Safely supervise without smothering their creativity and curiosity.

Backyard or mountain side, nature is just outside your door. Even apartment dwellers can find natural spaces for feral gene expression. If you live in a neighborhood with restrictive HOA rules, a tree house in the front yard may not work. But backyard fire pits could make a heck of a summertime mini wilderness camp site – tents included!

Your re-wilding efforts are only limited by your imagination. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to spark wild thoughts.

31 Ways to Help Get Your Child Outdoors

  1. Catch lighting bugs in early evening. Place them in a vented glass jar and release them at dawn. What makes them light up?
  2. Star gaze. Lay out a blanket and stare at the universe around us. Identify as many constellations as possible. Discuss navigation techniques using stars.
  3. Revive the art of story telling. It’s a dying art.
  4. Puddle stomping. After or during a rain (not lightning) storm, stomp through the mud puddles. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing.
  5. Build a fort, shanty, shelter, or tree house. Then camp in your fortress.
  6. Trail blaze. Hoof it through the woods or local park. Introduce navigation with a compass and topographical map.
  7. Climb a tree – while it’s still legal. Excellent physical training and it’s what kids do!
  8. Spot a critter. All mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles are fair game. First one to 10 wins.
  9. Night moves. With a full moon, take a family walk in the dark. Listen to the night sounds. Bring a flashlight for back up. Kids love flashlights!
  10. Backyard camping. Set up a backyard tent or tarp shelter over the jungle gym and spend some nights there.
  11. Graduate to car or pioneer camping as skills increase.
  12. Take a digital hike. No, not on the computer. Document plants, trees, animals, and tracks with a camera for later identification.


    Look for animals too

  13. Sketch and draw wild stuff. Even if you think there’s not an artistic bone in your body. Nature brings out creativity in us all.
  14. Discover little things. Roll a dead log over and count the life forms under it. Replace their house gently. Come back in a week to see what’s new.
  15. Feral Food Walk. Learn to safely identify, harvest, and prepare wild foods. Wild food resources can be found on our site – Here.
  16. Go fish. Use a rod andreel, cane pole, or limb hooks to harvest dinner. The worst day of fishing is better than the best day at school or work!


    She was caught on a fly rod

  17. Feral Food Walk. Learn to safely identify, harvest, and prepare wild foods. Wild food resources can be found on our site – Here.
  18. Keep a Wild Journal. Write down questions, observations, and feelings you experience as you re-wild. Go back to the same place in different seasons and record the differences.
  19. Fox walk. Maneuver through the woods as quietly as possible… barefoot. You’ll experience more of nature, see more animals, and hear bird songs that are missed when trudging through a forest.
  20. Get grounded. Bare feet on the earth is called grounding or earthing and offers many health benefits. Don’t miss out on the fun!
  21. Bushcraft. Bushcrafting is simply learning to craft stuff in the bush. While learning these skills, your child’s self-reliance quotient increases.
  22. Find a personal wild space. It could be in your backyard, park, or vacant lot in the neighborhood. This is the safe place where you recharge. It should afford some amount of privacy and freedom to discover your wild nature.
  23. Nurture wild free play. The less adult supervision the better. Of course, supervision depends upon age, maturity level, skills, and setting. Children learn through play. Recommended resource: Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
  24. Archery. Introduce your child to the world of archery. Take advantage of an increased interest in archery created by the Hunger Games books and movies. 31-ways-to-help-kids-trade-screens-for-streams
  25. Summer camp. I’ve run many youth camps over the years. Find one with a focus on wilderness skills and nature.
  26. Field guides. Acquire field guides for wild and medicinal plants, trees, native animal species, animal tracks, birds, reptiles, etc., etc. Humans tend to value what we can name.
  27. School work. The school class I learned the most from was 6th grade English. Not because my Aunt Cindy taught it, but because she let us take time to sit under trees to write and draw as a class. We published a book of poetry and drawing which my mom kept after all these years. Great creative memories of connecting with nature came from her English class.
  28. Wild cards. Make your own field guide cards. Start with easily identifiable plants. Sketch/draw a diagram and write a description on the back of the index card.
  29. Get naked. Not literally, kids. Leave all electronic devices behind and pack minimal gear. This strategy is best for teens who have developed basic wilderness skills.
  30. Skip Stones. Find smooth, flat stones and throw them sidearm across a pond. Count the number of skips on the water’s surface.
  31. Race ‘Ships’. Choose a small stick and set it adrift on a creek or steam in a race to the finish line. Use your bushcraft skills to build a mini log raft and test it in the water.

Up for the challenge of cutting the electronic umbilical cord? Modeling and facilitating is your job. There’s no app for that. However, kids will follow your enthusiasm and their primal curiosity of our ever-changing natural world if given the chance. Get out there. They will follow and get lost in the right direction!


We’d really like to know any methods you’ve found useful in the re-wilding process. Thanks for sharing the stuff that works for you!

Keep Doing the Wild Stuff,


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

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 © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Resilience, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 20 Comments

Martial Arts: Resilience Against Physical Force

The philosophy behind Doing the Stuff is simple… Trading theory for ACTION. We’ve had a great response from folks joining the DTS Network. We’re excited for all of you who have traded theory for action and joined us on our journey!

I’ve updated our DTS page and added a list of Trusted Resources who add value to the preparedness community. If you have a moment, be sure to check out both pages. While you’re there, let us know if you want to join the journey by trading theory for action.

After introducing the Doing the Stuff Network, I was contacted by Resman who blogs at Resilient Man. He caught the vision of Doing the Stuff and wants to move more towards the practical skills side of survival and not as heavy on theory.

I thought I’d introduce him and allow you to get to know him a bit. You can check out his bio at the end of this post.


by Resman

I have been in Martial arts for 20 years. This is what I have learnt .

Guy giving a Side Kick

Image source

Martial arts as a form of physical resilience.

Think long-term when choosing a defense system.

I started training when I was 14 I am 40 today, I have a bad back, somedays my left knee bothers me more than I wish and my right does tingle a bit. If I do more than 15 pullups my elbow is sore for a week. My point is choose a system you can use when you are 40, 50 or 60. Forget about kickboxing and Taekwondo, too many high kicks. I have been there, done that and know I suffer the consequences everyday.

Leverage Early.

This means, learn an art or a system that can use everyday items as weapons.

When I was in my teens, I thought I could take on the world with my bare hands. Twenty two years later I know that my thinking was irrational but typical for an 18-year-old. At 40, I have to start learning new systems that use sticks and knives. At this point I understand the importance of weapons such as an umbrella or a simple pen. Using such every day items for self-defense could mean life or death, an umbrella can help you deal with two attackers (range), a pen can help you defend yourself in a confined space (penetration).

Depending on stamina and power alone just because you physically can is something you will regret, at some point in the future. In a decade or two your body will no longer be able to cope with the stress of high intensity martial arts.

Ironically, when I was younger I was never bothered in the street I had the “do not f*** with me” body and look . Now I have to say I do not look like a marine anymore and I have been “hassled” more frequently by younger punks and I presume, that the older you get the easier of a target you become. Which means that the older you are the more you need your martial arts!

Look at your parents, and you can see your future.

My father has a bad back, my mother is lactose intolerant. I suffer from both. Martial arts may amplify chronic issues such as joint pain and back pain.

Read the rest here

Author bio:

I am 40 years old. Live in continental Europe. My introduction to the world of prepping was through the scouts, at the age of 10. Up to my early 30s prepping and survival where at the very heart of my life. In my 20s looked at prepping as a set of individual skills and materials that one needed to acquire in order to survive. In my 40s I believe that one’s ability to be a productive part of society no matter how it will transform itself in the future is a more efficient way to survive than going it alone. Having skills that will be of service to others is the only way to ensure a safe transition, if society will ever transition to something else.

Resman blogs at Resilient Man.


Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. – You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: Pinterest, Google +, and Facebook.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

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


Categories: Doing the Stuff, Resilience, Self Defense | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

by Todd Walker

What I’m about to share is ‘Dirt Road Girl’ approved!

When Stacy Harris sent me her new book to review, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, before I could get my hands on it, DRG snagged it and wouldn’t put it down. She immediately performed her sniff test ritual. She opened the book, plants her face between the pages, and inhales deeply. Congrats Stacy! Your book passed DRG’s sniff test with flying colors!


Our first impressions of Stacy’s new book were high quality, glossy pages with excellent photos of food, recipes, family, and sustainable practices for self-sufficient living. It’s good that the pages are high gloss since I began drooling by just looking at the food photos and recipes.

Stacy’s passion for growing heirloom plants and animals that are natural, pesticide, hormone, genetically modified free is clear. And she’s able to cook for a family of 9 from her heirloom garden, pastured animals, and wild game. Very inspiring!

The tips for sustainable living are mixed in throughout the book. One of my favorites is on page 88 – The Perfect Boiled Egg.

“To determine the age of eggs, place eggs in about five inches of water. If the egg lays flat on the bottom it is very fresh and is good for baking and poaching; it the egg tilts on the bottom it is about 10 days old and is great for boiling; if it floats throw it out.”

There’s also tips on foraging wild foods, beekeeping, seed saving, and other self-reliant skills. The tips aren’t going to teach you everything you need to know about sustainable living, but they will motivate you on your journey.

Being an avid hunter and fisherman myself, I loved the ‘Woods and Water’ section of Stacy’s book! I’m always happy to try new recipes for venison, wild turkey, duck, quail, small game, and seafood and fish. Even if you don’t harvest wild fish and game, she provides a substitution page to incorporate domesticated animals for recipes to please everyone.

Not Your Typical Recipe Book: Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living

10 slices of bacon on Stuffed Venison Meatloaf – perfect!

A note to my Primal/Paleo readers – a few of the baking recipes call for sugar and flour. You can easily substitute for these if you wish and still enjoy the goodness of these traditional home cooked recipes.

Reading Stacy’s story and new cookbook will inspire you to take your next step towards personal freedom and sustainable living. All while eating the best prepared foods on the planet!

You can also connect with Stacy on her blog, Game and Garden, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Special Announcement: Congratulations to Stephanie G. on winning an autographed copy of Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living from our Reader Appreciation Fall Giveaway! We appreciate everyone’s continued support of our blog as we continue Doing the Stuff of self-sufficiency and preparedness together!

Keep doing the stuff!


P.S. ~ Thanks for sharing the stuff! You can connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Gardening, Homesteading, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Regular Folk Taking the Doing The Stuff Challenge

by Todd Walker

Inspiration comes from perspiration. Thought I’d share a few of our fellow Sherpa’s projects.

1.) Crunchy Mama shared with me that her son has begun making paracord survival bracelets. He’s a little entrepreneur. I’ve offered to send her a paracord jig that makes creating bracelets very easy. (Sorry, I don’t have permission to post pics yet)

2.) Here’s a look at Caroline Cooper’s homemade medical kit.

medical kit Healthy Household: Homemade Medical Kits

3.) MI Patriot made these tomato ladders. The ladders are painted primary colors and are very functional. DRG and I just took ours down last week, folded them up, and stored them for next season.

Todd's Tomato Ladders in primary colors

Primary colored tomato ladders

4.) One of my new friends on FB, Perky Prepping Gramma, is learning how to reload ammunition. Check her out. She’s a doing the stuff machine!


What new skills are you learning?

Let me know and we’ll add them to our growing Doing The Stuff List! You can submit photos to me via email (survivalsherpa at gmail dot com) or send me a link if you have it published on a blog with permission to reprint it here.

The projects should be relevant to general preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, wilderness survival, self-defense/security, wild food foraging, real food, functional fitness, and self-reliance. I’ve never done a contest with prizes on our site but I’m considering it for a Doing the Stuff Challenge.

What do you think? Interested? If there’s enough interest, I’ll get it organized and started. Let me know.

In the mean time,

Keep doing the stuff!


P.S. ~ DRG and I got our daughter and grandson moved into their new place this weekend. Feeling more secure. Met several of her new neighbors. One of her next door neighbors is an old friend of mine! In case you missed it, you can read about her recent break in here.

P.P.S. ~ As always, if anything from this site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page.

Any information on this site may be shared freely, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience, Self Defense, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Ollas: Ancient Low Tech and Low Cost Sub-Surface Irrigation System

by Todd Walker

I woke up with an Olla (pronounced “oy-yah”) in my inbox from John Robb of Resilient Communities.

What’s an Olla?


Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

It’s a simple unglazed clay pot that is buried in the ground near plants with the neck of the pot above ground. They typically have a wide, bulb-like base with a narrow neck. The porous walls of the olla allow water to wick to the plants root zone.

I’ve looked at the 2 liter plastic soda bottles buried next to plants for irrigation. The problem with those are that there’s no way to regulate the flow of water to plants.

Ollas are different. They seep water when the plants and surrounding dirt need it. They acts as a moisture equalizer. The unglazed clay pots dispense water only when needed. Basic physics here.

After last year’s drought, we ramped up our rainwater collection system (just added two more in a tower) in our backyard pictured below, I’m thinking ollas would help conserve even more water in our garden.

Stacked rain barrel collection system

Two 55 gallon barrels stacked to give us more water and water pressure.

Here’s some benefits of using a ollas I’ve discovered and wanted to share with you.

  • They water the roots instead of the surface of your garden or raised bed preventing soil compaction
  • The dry surface of your garden deters weed growth
  • Run off and evaporation are eliminated giving 100% application efficiency
  • The clay pots only need to be filled 1 or 2 times per week depending on climate
  • Reduces water usage by 50 to 70% making your collected rain water last even longer
  • Cuts the amount of time needed for watering with conventional methods
  • Adding fertilizer to the olla will feed the plants as it waters

One company, Dripping Springs Ollas, was started in 2011 and makes and distributes ollas. Click here to find a Dripping Springs Ollas vendor near you. Their ollas sell for around $32 each. If you don’t want to invest the money for a commercially made olla, you can always go the DiY route.

DiY Ollas

Check out these links for tutorials on making your own ollas:

If you’ve ever used ollas, we’d like to hear your experience. Drop us a note in the comments or email us at survivalsherpa (at) gmail (dot) com.

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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, Gardening, Homesteading, Resilience | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Camouflaging DiY Rain Barrels for Frontyard Gardens

by Todd Walker

The resilient front yard transformation has begun in earnest at our home. Growing food – not lawns requires a certain amount of stealth. Hiding a rain barrel in plain sight was my next project on Dirt Road Girl’s honey-boo list.

I bought two food grade 55 gallon barrels months ago. One was for the DRG Compost Tumbler. I finally turned the other one into a rain barrel. The problem is that this white barrel against a red brick wall stuck out like a red fox in a chicken coop.

Camouflage was needed. Keep in mind this for our front yard not a war zone. We’ll cover that later.

Tools and material needed

The materials and a few tools for the job

The materials and a few tools for the job

Material List

  1. One 3 x 4 inch PVC reducer
  2. One 3/4 inch PVC male thread to glue adapter
  3. One 3/4 inch PVC tee with glue ends
  4. One 3/4 inch PVC 90 degree bends with glue ends
  5. One 3/4 inch PVC 90 degree bend – one end female threads – one end glue
  6. PVC cement/glue
  7. One 3/4 inch PVC cap – if you plan on adding more rain barrels at a later date as I’m planning to do
  8. One 3/4 inch PVC ball valve with glue ends
  9. Teflon and pipe dope (you could use just one of these, but I like to over do it working with water)
  10. One 3/4 inch male thread (brass) adapter with a male threaded garden hose on the other end
  11. Burlap and twine
  12. Window screen and hose clamp

Tools List

  1. Bunghole wrench – homemade from scrap lumber
  2. Jig saw
  3. Adjustable wrench or pliers
  4. Drill and bits
  5. Tin snips or metal-cutting blade a circular saw
  6. 3 feet of 3/4 inch PVC pipe – I’d recommend heavy walled schedule 40 for this application

Step 1: Remove the two-inch bunghole so you can rinse the barrel out. Some recommend a chlorox-water mix. Since my barrel contained vinegar, I just rinsed with water. Vinegar is a great alternative to bleach for cleaning anyway.

homemade bunghole tool

Homemade bunghole tool cut from a scrap 2×2. Worked great for loosening and tightening.

Step 2: Turn the barrel upside down so that the lid is on the ground. Place the 3 inch side of the 3×4 inch reducer on the barrel bottom a couple of inches from the edge of the barrel – trace the circle of the fitting on the barrel. Drill a starter hole on the inside of the circle. This allows you to insert the blade of your jig saw to make the circular cut. Tip: I had DRG hold the cutout with a pair of needle nose pliers so it didn’t fall into the barrel when the cut was finished.

Cutting the 3 inch filling hole

Cutting the 3 inch filling hole

Step 3: Flip the barrel back over. Remove the bunghole with your homemade 2×2 wrench. Being the first-born male of a master plumber and general tinkerer, I carefully clamped the bunghole in a vise and cut through the 2 inch and 3/4 inch threads with a hacks saw. This removed the extra nipple (non-threaded) portion allowing me to attach a 3/4 inch male adapter in the center of the 2 inch bunghole cap. Do Not cut through the threaded part of the bunghole cap.

Step 4: Once the cap of the 3/4 inch female center is removed, add teflon and pipe dope to the 2 inch threads of the bunghole cap and screw the cap back into the barrel hole. Tighten with your 2×2 wrench. Be careful not to over tighten and strip the treads. Now apply teflon (5 to 7 revolutions) to the 3/4 inch male adapter. Tighten hand-tight and just a half turn with a wrench.

Step 5: I built a stand for the rain barrel out of old 4x4s and half a shipping pallet. I’ve used cement blocks for rain barrel stands before this project. Whatever material you have available would work.

Once the barrel is in place on its stand, you’re ready to start cutting and putting together your drain assembly. Cut two pieces of 3/4 inch PVC pipe 5 inches long. These measurements depend on what your stand measurements are.

(Note: I made several mistakes at this point in my project. I didn’t account for the barrel sitting on a pallet and glued up my drain beforehand. Then it hit me. How am I am going to the drain through the pallet stand? I recommend you dry fit the parts – check for fit – then glue it with the barrel in place on the stand.) Below is a picture of me realizing my stupid mistake.

Don't strip the treads when tightening.

Don’t strip the treads when tightening. That would be two stupid mistakes for me.

Step 6: Assemble the drain. With the adapter tightened into the center of the bunghole cap, apply PVC glue to the female end of the adapter and the end of one of the 5 inch pieces of pipe you just cut. Mate the two together and give the pipe a 1/4 turn (do this to all your glue joints) to ensure a good seal.

Now glue a 3/4 inch elbow to the end of the other 5 inch piece of pipe. Then glue the elbow to the 5 inch drop piece attached to the bunghole cap. This should give you an inch or so of pipe sticking out (stub-out) in front of your pallet stand.

Glue the 3/4 inch PVC tee to the stub-out with the open ends running parallel to the stand. On one end (closest to my garden area) of the tee, glue a 3 inch piece of 3/4 inch pipe. Then glue the ball valve to the other end of the 3 inch piece. Cut another 3 inch piece and glue it to the open end of your ball valve.

Go ahead and attach the threaded end of the brass fitting to the female end of the last 90 degree elbow before gluing it to the open end of the pipe sticking out of the ball valve. Remember not to over-tighten.

Now glue the 3/4 inch glue end of the elbow to the end of the pipe.

Cut an 8 inch piece of pipe and glue it to the open end of the tee. Glue the cap on the end of this pipe. Your drain assembly is complete. To add more barrels, simple cut the pipe at the capped end and couple it to your next rain barrel drain assembly.

completed drain assembly

The completed drain assembly. The right side is capped and will allow me to add more rain barrels in the future.

Gutter Time

I moved the down spot on our gutter from the front corner to the side corner on the front of our house. The holly bush will help hide the barrel on the stand.

Step 7: Attach mesh screening to the 4 inch side of the reducer with a hose clamp. This will keep debris and mosquitoes out of your barrel. Place the 3 inch side of the reducer back into the hole on top of the barrel.

debris screen

I used a 10 x 10 inch piece of scrap window screen for the debris trap. Once you secure it with a hose clamp (or in my case – two smaller hose clamps joined together) trim off the excess screen under the clamp.

Step 8: With the barrel on its stand, measure the distance between the downspout and the 3 x 4 inch reducer sitting in the hole on top of the barrel. Cut a piece of gutter the proper length and secure it to the wall so that it directs rain water into the 4 inch opening at the top of the barrel. Note: Leave about two inches of space between the downspout and the top of the 4 inch reducer. This allows you room to remove the reducer to wash out collected debris periodically.

Step 9: Camouflage your barrel (optional). DRG and I picked up 3 yards of burlap from a fabric store for under $10. It’s 4 feet wide so it covered the barrel with some left over. Wrap the barrel with the burlap and tie it on with natural cordage. I tied jute twine on the bottom and top rims and two more in the middle of the barrel. Then I laced the top flaps together with more twine to insure it didn’t slide down the rain barrel.

It's not camo paint, but it blends in very well in the front yard.

It’s not camo paint, but it blends in very well in the front yard.

Now pray for rain. We just got an inch of rain last night. A 1,000 square foot roof will yield 600 gallons of water with one inch of rain. Needless to say, our barrel runneth over.

I check the pressure with the barrel being full and it will water the garden with no problem – or chlorine – or fluoride tainted city water. A water bucket is the next option if the water pressure gets too low to reach the garden.

Not only that, it’ll save us money on our water and sewer bill. Plus, it adds one more layer of resilience to our home.

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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, Homesteading, Resilience, Water | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Monsanto Hopes You Prep Like Homer Simpson

by Todd Walker

Dr. Hibbert: Homer, I’m afraid you’ll have to undergo a coronary bypass operation.
Homer: Say it in English, Doc.
Dr. Hibbert: You’re going to need open-heart surgery.
Homer: Spare me your medical mumbo-jumbo.
Dr. Hibbert: We’re going to cut you open and tinker with your ticker.
Homer: Could you dumb it down a shade?

— The Simpsons

Dr. Mercola’s recent article exposes a new alliance of 50 industrial food and biotechnology front groups covering for GMO producers like Monsanto. At first glance, the Alliance to Feed the Future sounds like a group genuinely concerned about your health and what you’re feeding your family.

The trend to buy locally produced organic, naturally grown real food needs to be nipped in the bud. Local farmers, producers, and consumers are a growing in numbers and are becoming a pesky fly in the ointment to the multinational food and pharmaceutical bottom line. See March Against Monsanto. To combat these rebels and their vocal opposition to junk passed off as ‘food’, the cabal alliance wants to add balance in the public discussion on mass factory farming and techno-foods.

Monsanto, supported by power and money hungry US politicians, are the bully on the playground. They don’t want to be perceived as such. So they employ soft bullying tactics on the world. The problem with pushing kids around on the monkey bars is that the ‘weaker’ school children have had enough. One or two kids have finally punched the bully in the nose – and the schoolyard erupts in applause and cheers.

But now, this alliance has bigger fish to fry. China recently destroyed three shipments of GMO corn delivered from the US. Japan and other European countries are rejecting Monsanto’s lab experiment foods. Meanwhile, in American poly-ticks, our ‘representatives’ killed a bill that would have allowed states to label foods containing GMOs. So much for state sovereignty.

Don’t be fooled by their ‘caring’ attempt to spin the Industrial Food Machine, loaded with unpronounceable labels, genetically engineered Frankenfood, and chemical concoctions.

You’re smarter than Homer Simpson. But that won’t stop The Powers That Be from dumbing it down a shade. Our government schooling is proof that this ‘dumbing down’ strategy works to produce trusting, compliant citizenry.

Don’t pull a Homer Simpson when it comes to your own health and fitness, self-reliance, or knowledge.

For example, The American Council for Fitness and Nutrition, a member of the sell-out club, is a non-profit organization promoting fitness and nutrition. It’s in their name! They must be concerned about your wellbeing. Following their advice is like living in Willy Wonka’s factory as a weight loss strategy. Here are a few of their members – all ‘experts’ on nutrition:

  • American Bakers Association
  • American Meat Institute
  • Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers Association
  • Chocolate Manufacturers Association
  • Coca-Cola
  • Hershey’s
  • National Confectioners Association

This is just a small taste of the front groups peddling illusions with beneficial talking points that fatten their wallets at your expense.

Smart preppers do the opposite of what the FDA, USDA , and Monsanto alliance advocates. If you’ve followed this blog at all, you’re already in the smart prepper tribe. You’re building individual and community resilience by…

  • Growing and storing nutrient dense food – even in space challenged locations
  • Doing the stuff of self-sufficiency
  • Designing your home to be a producer and not a money pit
  • Buying locally grown food from sustainable farmers to supplement what you can’t produce yourselves
  • Embracing the importance of play, exercise, sunshine, and family
  • Avoiding stupid stuff
  • Developing the art of neighboring
  • Question everything – be the stupidest survivalist in the room

My last point may seem oxymoronic. But here’s my point.

Try this the next time you’re in a work related meeting. Don’t have all the answers. Ask all the questions – especially those that everyone is afraid to ask. Keep asking and digging until you hit the root. You’ve just become the smartest person in the room by playing the part of the dumbest.

There a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. – Henry D. Thoreau

Being a smart prepper means you lay your axe to the root. You don’t let things just happen to you and your family. No matter what elites tell you is good for you, you’re no Homer Simpson!


Categories: Preparedness, Real Food, Resilience | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Doing the Stuff to Escape the Matrix

After a year of getting to know Durable Faith online, I finally got to meet him and his beautiful family. Many times I read preparedness bloggers and wonder if they are actually doing the stuff. DF falls into my “Doers of the Stuff “category! He’s put his money (and faith) where his mouth is.

“Doing the stuff” doesn’t mean you’ve ‘arrived.’ Who has? I haven’t! What this phrase means is that you’re taking action steps on your journey to freedom, self-sufficiency, and resiliency.

Durable highlights his long journey to escape the matrix created by elitists controllers in the media, government, globalists, and the institutional church. Please pass this on if you find it useful.

Reprinted with permission by Durable Faith

A few thoughts about a shift in ‘editorial policy’

Online friends

The posts which seem to get the most views are those that you can now find any number of places.

The most popular posts seem to be about “what is going on” – how criminal our government is, how politicians lie, how our economic system is rigged, etc. This was an important phase in my learning curve and in my progression through the prepper stages of grieving the loss of much of what I thought was real and true.

The posts that I write about “what we can do about it” or “what the bible says about what is going on”, those posts don’t get very far in the viral cyberspace. Often, they start well and then fizzle out.  I don’t want to flatter myself, but I candidly suspect information suppression. I can see the WordPress stats. And I have some posts that have more likes than views…if you figure that one out, let me in on the secret please…In China they admit to watching which activists posts gather momentum quickly and then they demote them or make them disappear. Similarly internet filtering is being rolled out in Australia now. Who is to say that it’s not already happening to some degree in the USA.

For instance just this week, Faceboot has not only been caught red-handed suppressing posts about GMO’s and citizen journalism of an expose nature, but now they are claiming that their new policy of suppressing “hate speech” is motivated by their desire to stop violence on women and is in response to outcry’s from their advertisers (poor faceboot, wah).

As Hillary said, they (the global elites) are losing the information war and they are re-grouping (filtering as defense, propaganda as offense) in an effort to regain control  of the information flow.

As for the news, you can get it elsewhere now. There are many sites that devote themselves to exposing corruption, darkness, and imminent threats to life and pursuit of happiness. If you have subscribed to for news, you may want to unsubscribe and subscribe or bookmark some of the following sites. As a caveat, I cannot vouch for the past or future content of these sites. You should review the information, ask hard questions, and chew before you swallow or share each story.

  3. –
  4. –
  5. –

As for survival tips, there are many content rich sites on the web, in communities, and even as youtube channels. I encourage you to frequent these sites and to practice DOING the stuff. Not just reading about it and thinking your knowledge will save you when the dark days come. The stress of those days will render almost useless everything that is not ingrained habit with muscle memory.

  4. Greene Deane – foraging expert ->
  5. Permaculture techniques ->

The coming editorial shift in content posted on

I’m glad you are reading this and have found the site useful, but I started the site as a way to organize my thoughts and compare current event trends to scripture to get the mind of Christ on the matter. I’ve power processed a lot of information over the past 5 years. And the value I am gaining from each additional tidbit of information is going down as rapidly as the quality and outlook in our macro situation.

I’m not convinced I need much more news.

I get “it” and am pretty much done with the multiphase grieving process.  The world is not what I thought it was. America is not what I thought it was. The media, money, the United Nations, democracy, conservatism, the institutional church… I have a new reality, the old is gone, but the new is coming.

I don’t need any additional evidence that:

  • power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely
  • that people scheme
  • that Islam is not a religion of peace
  • that the US foreign policy is creating suffering on a huge scale for Christians in the mid-east
  • that the church is under a self imposed gag order on the moral issues of our day because they are in debt to their eyeballs
  • that the UN is serious about agenda 21, population reduction, and creating a tyrannical one world government
  • that central banks, politicians of both parties, and global corporations are in on this agenda and stand to profit from it
  • that a divide and conquer strategy is being employed that will end in social chaos and much bloodshed right here on our soil
  • That laws are for the little people, while bankers, politicians, and global companies are ‘above the law’
  • Hoping for a GOP victory, judicial rulings, or military intervention is foolish and naive. No one is coming to save us.
  • That those in our state capitols and DC do not work for us and do not seek our approval or consent.
  • Politics in modern America is just a show

Frankly, it’s a show I’d rather turn off so I can devote more time to timely actions; doing the next right thing.

  • Improving the productivity, diversity, and resilience of our farmstead using permaculture and optimized foraging techniques
  • Searching the scriptures to clarify (for myself) the original gospel message, not the (fema trained) gutless crowd control message we find in most pulpits
  • Enjoying my family (while being less stressed) and being the best husband and dad I can be with God’s help
  • Getting involved in local community in meaningful ways including the dialogue on nullification and returning to auditable paper ballots

My planned editorial shift

  • I suspect the number of posts will go down to an average of two posts per week.
  • The posts will be almost entirely original content and way less newsy.
  • If others do not get our a crucial message or point of view, I may occasionally weigh in on some controversial news item

My advice to you

  • Figure out what “having done all, stand” means to you. And do all that you need to in order to hear “well done, good and faithful servant”
  • If you want to wake others, use paper or email NOT social networking and NOT news site comment threads.
  • Finish up getting through the stages so you can free up more time for building: productive capacity, local community, useful skills, and of course developing a more durable faith.

Blessings, DurableFaith

Categories: Preparedness, Resilience, Tyranny | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

All American Sun Oven: Off-Grid Cooker Review and a DiY Version

by Todd Walker

This past April I was contacted by Billie Nicholson of All American Sun Oven asking if I’d be interested in testing their solar appliance. It just so happens that my 8th graders were getting ready to study solar energy.

“You bet! I’ll test it at home and with my students.”

Below are two tests I ran on the All American Sun Oven. First, school with hotdogs. Second, home with hot wings.

Too cool for school

solar cooker, All American Sun Oven,

The All American Sun Oven at my middle school.

The Sun Oven arrived in the middle of a unit we were teaching on solar energy. Perfect! I was immediately impressed at its quality construction, simplicity, portability, and general idiot-proof-ness (the one-piece reflector was genius). The shipping box contained the basic get-started paperwork plus an instructional CD with hundreds of suggested recipes and advice.

Being the frugal teacher I am, I talked my co-teacher into bringing the food for our first test. He brought hotdogs. Turns out he’s cheap frugal too.

We set up just outside the classroom on a partly cloudy day. Focusing the oven to collect the most solar energy was easy. The Sun Oven has two alignment holes on the top of the oven to help you focus the sun’s energy for the best cooking temp. There is an adjustable alignment leg (self-contained in the unit) in the back to give the proper vertical angling of your cooker. Aligning the sun with the ‘focus’ holes on top and the up or down of the back leg, we were ready to cook in no time. For windy days, the cooker comes with two stakes to anchor the alignment leg to the ground.

I placed the oven out around 30 minutes before our class began. [Note: Follow the Pre-cooking instructions before you cook your first meal. They recommend you place a container with three cups of vinegar in the oven, place cooker in the sun, and wait 90 to 120 minutes before cooking a meal.] This brought the temperature up to 250 degrees with the sun peaking in and out of the clouds. When the sun cooperated, the temp would reach 300 plus with no problem.

We placed the cheap hotdogs in a Pyrex dish with a lid, set it on the Duel-Purpose Leveling Rack, shut the lid, and realigned the oven every 30 minutes. I was afraid that even a simple meal like hot dogs would not cook on a partly cloudy day.

I was wrong. We cooked the meal for an hour and a half with sporadic sunshine. The hotdogs were too hot to eat as steam rushed around the Pyrex lid when we brought the dish inside.

Most of the students were really impressed – as impressed as microwavable middle schoolers can be at the end of a school year.

The performance task for the solar energy unit was to build their own solar cooker. We had some creative and interesting units built. Below is one I was particularly proud of that was modeled after the All American Sun Oven. It turned a chocolate candy bar into mush. That’s all they brought to cook.

diy solar cooker, student built solar cooker

Student built solar cooker modeled after the All American Sun Oven. They used a milk crate, cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, plastic film, shredded paper for insulation, and duct tape (an essential for any good DiY project).

Sun Hot Wings on the All American Sun Oven

To test the Sun Oven at home, I prepared my chicken wings as I do anytime I grill hot wings. They marinate 24 hours in the special sauce before going on the Big Green Egg. I pulled six wings out to cook in the Sun Oven.

sun hot wings,

Sun Hot Wings ready to cook in a covered dish on the leveling rack.

I focused the Sun Oven and left the wings to cook. The oven reached 315 degrees in my backyard. Tip: Find a spot that gets full sun for several hours so you don’t have to chase the sun with your oven. I had to move the oven three times to escape the shade cast by trees.

As the Sun Oven worked its solar magic, I cooked the larger batch of wings on my BGE. Dirt Road Girl and I enjoyed the meal and washed the dishes when I remembered the Sun Hot Wings outside.

One of the benefits of the All American Sun Oven is that your can’t burn your meal. The oven is designed to heat evenly and hold the moisture in the food. Good thing, because I forgot about my Sun Hot Wings. They’d been cooking for two hours.

Here’s the thing I hate to admit. The Sun Hot Wings were better than my standardly amazing grilled hot wings! The only drawback to the Sun Oven wings was they didn’t have the grill marks. Other than that, they were ‘fall off the bone’ tender and full of juicy flavor.

There’s so many uses for the Sun Oven. There’s many recipes on their website and even more on the CD that comes with the oven. From asparagus to turkey, if you can cook it in your conventional oven, you can bake, steam, or boil it on your Sun Oven. Even if the extent of your kitchen experience is ‘cooking’ a bowl of instant oatmeal, you’ll look like a real chef with the Sun Oven.

Cleaned, closed, and ready for storage.

Cleaned, closed, and ready for storage.

Off-Grid Cooking Benefits

  • No fuel needed – runs on free sunshine
  • No smoke or fire if OPSEC is ever a concern
  • Compact, light weight, and user-friendly
  • Even without focusing the oven every 30 minutes, it will still slow cook your meal like a crock pot
  • A great cooking alternative for car camping
  • Use the Sun Oven even with the grid operating to save money on electric or gas stoves
  • Pasteurize or boil water to purify for drinking in an emergency
  • Dehydrate food for long-term storage

The one con of the All American Sun Oven happens to be its most appealing feature – fueled by free sunshine. Without direct exposure to sun, you’ll have to use another method of cooking. However, free solar energy is the most plentiful and inexhaustible source of energy we have around.

The Sun Oven has been used around the world to provide off-grid cooking alternatives to people in all kinds of situations. From feeding orphans in Uganda, to North American hunters who love moist venison, it gets the job done. One of my favorites place the Sun Oven has been used is by Sherpas at base camp on Mt. Everest. Not any deadwood there for a camp fire.

I highly recommend one as an off-grid cooking alternative and long-term money saver if you have funds available. The basic model runs around $300. Their website offers more models and lots of other accessories you can check out here.

I hate to send it back to the company. I may have to save my money and keep this one. I’d always considered building a DiY solar cooker. But I don’t think I could match the All American Sun Oven’s performance.

Keep doing the stuff,



If you’ve made an effective DiY solar cooker, please let us know how it worked. Maybe you could share it on a guest post here.


Categories: equipment, Preparedness, Resilience, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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