Posts Tagged With: Bushcrafting

DiY Fire Starter in a Drinking Straw

Hank over at Sensible Survival is at it again. Check out his DiY fire straw and make this your next project.

 

This is one of the best and most convenient fire starters that I’ve come across in a long time.  Many of us know that cotton balls rubbed with petroleum jelly make great fire starters, but they are messy and not real convenient to carry.  This method makes it easy to carry these little fire balls and they won’t leak and get on your clothing or other gear.  All you need to make these is some cotton balls, petroleum jelly, a plastic drinking straw, a pair of scissors, and a small stick.

Start off by taking a cotton ball or two and rubbing them thoroughly with petroleum jells.  While you’re at it go ahead and pull apart the cotton into thin shreds.  Pictured below: top, Rubbing petroleum jelly into cotton balls: bottom, shredded up cotton.
 
Now take the drinking straw and cut it into two 3 inch tubes, and four ½ inch tubes.  Pictured below: Cut up drinking straw
 
The next part is a little hard to describe, but the pictures should make it easier to understand.
1. Use your thumbnail to crimp across the straw about ¼ inch from one end, then fold that end down.
 
2. Now use your thumbnail to make a length-wise crease in the part that you folded down. Then pinch the end together.
 
3. Now take one of the ½ inch pieces of straw and slip it down over the end to hold it closed.
 
4. Turn up the open end of the straw and start stuffing it with the soaked cotton.  I find that it is easier if I kind of roll the cotton between thumb and fingers to make a string out of it.
 
5.  Use the stick to tamp the cotton down tight in the straw.
6. Fill the straw to about ½ inch from the top, then fold the top end down the same way you did the bottom.  Crimp it, put a ½” collar on it, and you’re finished.
 
Wipe off any petroleum jelly that you got on the outside, and you now have a leak proof, waterproof, convenient fire starter that you can add to a survival kit, put in your glove box, or drop in your pocket.  To use the fire starter just cut it open, fluff up the cotton and light it up.  This stuff will ignite easily using a metal match type fire striker.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Lighten Your BOB: Pack The Alpha Tent

I spotted this while visiting Paratus Familia Blog. Here’s Enola Gay’s full post on their experiment with the Alpha Tent.

The Awesome Alpha Tent

When we posted our adventures with the Survival Net, one of our readers sent a link that he thought Sir Knight might enjoy.  The link was for the Alpha tent, fashioned from nothing more than a USGI Military Issue Poncho, tent poles and 4 wire nuts.  Thats it!  The wonderful thing about this tent is that is consists mainly of things you already carry in your gear so you are not adding unnecessary weight and bulk.  And, did I mention this was really cool?  To get the real skinny on this tent, and the gentlemen who came up with the idea, you must go to his site, Alpharubicon.  He has dimensions, specifics on the components and explanations for the uses of the Alpha tent.

Knowing a good thing when he sees it, Sir Knight began compiling the necessary articles to put together his own Alpha tent.  He already had a USGI poncho, so he laid it on the ground and measured it to be sure it was the same size as the one used on the Alpha tent site.  Next, he dug up some tent poles that we had saved from a long-ago defunct tent, measured them and proceeded to cut them down to the correct size for the tent.  Sir Knight cut each pole to the same size, rather than just cutting down the one pole that was too long, so that the tent poles bent in the correct manner when inserted into the poncho.  After cutting the poles, he strung the shock cord through the modified poles, tied it off at the end and fitted RED wire nuts to each end of the poles.  The wire nuts keep the poles from going through the grommets on the corners of the poncho and red wire nuts are the perfect size.  The directions on the Alpha tent website instruct you to drill a hole through the wire nuts and run the shock cord through the holes and tie them off.  Because of technical difficulties with our poles, we glued the wire nuts on instead.  The shock cord through the nuts would have been a better option, however, we made do with the materials that were available to us.

Wire nuts through the grommets

Once the tent poles were inserted into the grommets, we tied them down with cording that was already in the poncho.  It was almost like they were designed with the Alpha tent in mind!  Within a matter of minutes we had put together a lightweight one man tent, camouflaged and with a reduced IR signature, with nothing but a poncho, 4 wire nuts and some cast-off tent poles.  The folks at Alpharubicon really know their stuff!

Poles tied to the cording
The Alpha tent can even float your gear across creeks!
Very roomy

It makes perfect sense to fill your 1st and 2nd line kits with a few articles that have multiple purposes.  Rather than carrying a poncho and survival net and a hammock and a tent, you can carry a poncho, a net and a few odds and ends and still have all your bases covered.

USGI Poncho’s can be challenging to find, but really, you can use any poncho.  The difference is that you will have to measure your poncho and customize your tent poles accordingly.

Thank you for coming along for the ride as Sir Knight and I pare down our kits to the bare essentials and find out what works and what doesn’t.  Try an Alpha tent of your own and let us know what you think.

 

Categories: Bushcrafting, Camping, DIY Preparedness, DIY Preparedness Projects, Equipment, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Bee Lining: Simply Math Could Save Your Life

Bees Like John (The Baptist), by Mike The Bee Shepherd

Source: Survival Blog

 In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, many people will naturally resort to hunting and fishing to procure food. The increased hunting pressure will make many animals nocturnal and quickly deplete the populations of wild game. There is, however, one overlooked source of food that flies completely under the radar by even the most seasoned survivalists.  It tastes delicious, lasts forever,  replenishes itself to be harvested again and again, is a phenomenal barter item,  and can be found in every state in America.  I am talking about wild honey! The Bible says that this is the food that sustained John the Baptist during his time in the wilderness and that’s all the endorsement I need.
Allow me to give you a quick primer on honey.  Honey has roughly 1,376 calories per pound. It is not uncommon for a healthy colony of bees to produce 60 to 80 pounds of surplus honey in a good season. That equates to 60-80 days of life sustainment for one person from one hive.  Honey has an indefinite shelf life. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian kings was found to be perfectly edible. Honey also has multiple uses. Besides its obvious value as a food item, honey can be fermented to make mead (honey wine) which can be further distilled to make ethanol fuel.   Honey also has antibacterial qualities since it contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide and it was reportedly used by Roman Soldiers to pack sword wounds.  Honey can and will crystallize over time since it is a super saturated solution but you can easily restore it back to liquid form by gently heating it. Did I mention that Winnie the Pooh loves the stuff?

I think it’s safe to say that John the Baptist didn’t get his honey from the local food co-op or Piggly Wiggly. Our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of buying bees from the Internet and having them shipped in a tidy box via UPS, instead they used an ancient technique known as “bee lining”.  Locusts may not travel in a straight line but fortunately for us, the honey bee generally does.  It is this straight-line behavior that we can utilize to lead us back to the proverbial “honey-hole”.  There are numerous techniques for bee lining and although I doubt John the Baptist used trigonometry to locate his wild bees, we can.  Do you remember the days back in high school when you were plodding with contempt through trigonometry homework and thinking to yourself “I will never use this”?  Personally, I would rather have watched paint dry as I was never very adept at math. I don’t think I could count all my protruding body parts and get the same number twice. I am now man enough to admit that I was wrong.  A little simple math can reveal the bee’s secret location.

Bees predominantly forage when the weather is nice so do not waste your time trying to do this in the rain. It takes honey to make honey! You need to start with a sweet solution of sugar or honey and water (dissolved 1:1).  Put this solution on a small piece of sponge in the center of a bowl.  Set the bowl with sugar baited sponge in an open area and wait. The wind will carry the scent to foraging bees.  The first time a honey bee takes her fill, she will fly up in ever widening circles trying to remember the landmarks so she can lead her sisters back to the source.  It helps them if you wear brightly colored clothes as they will use you as a landmark. The exception to this is the color red as bees cannot see the color red. You can get a very rough estimate of the distance to the hive by timing the round trip time between the first bees departure to its return. 3-5 minutes is generally indicative of a quarter-mile, 5-10 minutes a half-mile, and 15 minutes or more indicates a distance of at least one mile. Once the bee communicates the source of food to the hive, the whole family will join in and you should see an ever increasing volume of bees visiting your bowl. Take out a compass and note the direction that the bees are flying in between the dish and the hive. Shoot an azimuth and note the azimuth (in degrees) on a map. Write a line from your current position out a few miles indicating the bee’s current flight path. (We will call this line SIDE “A”) The hive is obviously somewhere along this line. Once you have 15 or 20 bees in your bowl you can place a cover on the bowl thus capturing the bees. Take your captured bees and walk 50 yards in a line that is exactly perpendicular to the bee’s line of flight. (It is very important that you are exactly 50 yards as this will figure into our equation later)  Jotting this line down on the same map as the bee’s azimuth would now form an “L” with your new position now being at the bottom right edge of the “L”. (We will call this bottom line SIDE “B”).  Now do your best to release just a few bees at a time from your new position and again shoot an azimuth with your compass.  Writing this line down on the map should now give you a right triangle with the right angle being in the base of the “L”. This last line SIDE “C” is the hypotenuse of our right triangle. The angle that you need to figure out is in the bottom inside right corner of your triangle (where you are now standing). We will call this angle “a”.  You can use a protractor on the map to determine this angle (angle “a”).  Once we have the bottom right inside angle of our triangle, we need to do a little math to determine where our new line (SIDE “C”) intersects with our very first line (SIDE “A”). This intersection will be the exact location of the hive.  The formula to figure this is:
SIDE “C”= SIDE “B” / cosine (angle “a”)
So let’s say that we used our protractor on the map and determined that SIDE “C” made a 47 degree angle with SIDE “B”. This means that angle “a” is 47 degrees. We also know that SIDE “B” equals 50 yards.
SIDE “C” = 50 yards / cos (47)
SIDE “C” = 73 yards

Our wild bees are approximately 73 yards from our current position at the point where our last azimuth intersects with our first azimuth.  Now we can bring our bowl to that spot and use our ears and eyes to look for the entrance to the hive. Many old time bee liners claim to hear the hive before they see it.  Now finding the cosine of an angle usually requires a scientific calculator (solar powered scientific calculators are available for five or six dollars). To make life easier, I have created a lookup table that automatically converts the degrees of angle “a” into the exact distance to the hive so no cosine calculation is necessary. This table will only be accurate if you walk exactly 50 yards (150 feet) to form SIDE “B”. I have printed a small version of this table and laminated it to keep in my wallet. The table follows:

 

Once we find our bees we need to don our protective gear. It might be a good time to mention that this should not to be done by anyone with bee sting allergies and I always carry two Epi-Pens with me just in case. A simple Tyvek painter’s suit sold for a few dollars at Home Depot will provide protection that is comparable to most commercial bee suits. Be sure to get the suit with the built in hood. Purchase some nitrile gloves as they are more puncture resistant than either latex or vinyl and are the choice of medical professionals to prevent needle sticks. A simple mosquito head net worn over a ball cap completes the outfit. Many beekeepers remove hives with no protective gear whatsoever but this is not recommended for the novice.  Tie some dry grass together tightly and light it on fire. Extinguish the flames so that it makes smoke. Fan this smoke into the hive entrance. This will trick the bees into thinking their home is on fire and they will immediately gorge themselves with honey in preparation of seeking a new home. This causes the bees to become very docile. Would you want to get into a fistfight after eating Thanksgiving dinner?  At this point, you may need to enlarge the access hole to reach the comb. It is preferable to only remove a portion of the honey and to do it without destroying the colony so that we can come back for more later. Remember that the bees need honey to survive throughout the winter and without sufficient stocks, they will die. This is the equivalent to shooting your cash cow.

Take the honey comb back to process the honey. You can eat it right in the comb or you can employ the crush and strain method. Whichever you do, do it indoors otherwise you will create a swarm of bees all looking to rob your honey.  Crush the comb and strain it through a paint strainer or cheese cloth. Make sure that at least three quarters of your honeycomb is capped. The bees cap the comb once they have the moisture content down to 18% or less. The uncapped portion is still nectar but with a much higher moisture content. Uncapped nectar can be eaten if done right away but it does not store as it will ferment from the natural yeasts that are present. The wax can then be utilized to make everything from candles to lip balm (again, outside the scope of this article).

Some people see the face of God in the clouds.  I see Him in the bees.  They are an amazing gift to us and they have been sustaining man for thousands of years.  God’s Manna from heaven was reputed to have honey in it and the best land was referred to “the land of milk and honey”.  When you realize that one out of every three bites of food you eat is a byproduct of honey bee pollination, you get a picture for how important they are to our sustainment.  Mr. Rawles, please forgive the unabashed plug but if you are interested in learning more about honey bees or about purchasing wild honey you can visit my web site, The Bee Shepherds.

Categories: Barter, Food Storage, Homesteading, Preparedness, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival Skills, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pemmican: The perfect primal stick-to-your-ribs survival food

Here’s my dilemma…

I subscribe to a primal/paleo lifestyle. I don’t have tons of grains stored as most preparedness gurus recommend. Some for extreme emergencies, but not tonnes. I’ve written about my lifestyle choice here, and over on my other blog here. No need to re-hash.

So what’s a preparedness minded, Primal Blueprint groupie like me suppose to store for lean survival times? A must-store, life-sustaining item is pemmican. No refrigeration required, full of hunger stopping fat, long storage life, tasty (with the right seasoning), and easy to make. What’s not to like?

Here’s Mark Sisson’s recipe on how he made pemmican. A simple search (use Startpage – it’s the world’s most private search engine) for pemmican recipes will yield many results. Now, get started rendering that fat!

Source: Mark’s Daily Apple

How to Make Pemmican

rii0lxVihljamur Stefansson, eminent anthropologist and arctic explorer, went on three expeditions into the Alaskan tundra during the first quarter of the 20th century. His discoveries – including the “blond” Inuit and previously uncharted Arctic lands – brought him renown on the world stage. People were fascinated by his approach to travel and exploration, the way he thrust himself fully into the native Inuit cultures he encountered. Stefansson studied their language, adopted their ways, and ate the same food they ate. In fact, it was the diet of the Inuit – fish, marine mammals, and other animals, with almost no vegetables or carbohydrates – that most intrigued him. He noted that, though their diet would be considered nutritionally bereft by most “experts” (hey, nothing’s changed in a hundred years!), the Inuit seemed to be in excellent health, with strong teeth, bones, and muscles. He was particularly interested in a food called pemmican.

Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat (usually beef nowadays, but bison, deer, and elk were common then) which is crushed to a powder and mixed with an equal amount of hot, rendered fat (usually beef tallow). Sometimes crushed, dried berries are added as well. A man could subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy and the protein for strength (and glucose, when needed). The Inuit, Stefansson noted, spent weeks away from camp with nothing but pemmican to eat and snow to drink to no ill effect. Stefansson, a Canadian of Icelandic origin, often accompanied them on these treks and also lived off of pemmican quite happily, so its sustaining powers weren’t due to some specific genetic adaptation unique to the Inuit. In fact, when Stefansson returned home, he and colleague adopted a meat-only diet for a year, interested in its long-term effects. A controlled examination of their experience confirmed that both men remained healthy throughout.

So, pemmican has a reputation as a sort of superfood. While I’m usually leery of such claims, the fact that the stuff is essentially pure fat and protein (plus Stefansson’s accounts) made me think that maybe there was something to it. I set out to make my own batch.

I got about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast, let it firm up in the freezer, then sliced it thin. After adding liberal amounts of salt and pepper, I set the oven to the lowest possible temperature (around 150 degrees) and laid out the strips of meat directly onto the rack. I cracked the oven door to prevent moisture buildup. At this point, I also put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.

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I let the meat dry out for about fifteen hours, or until it was crispy jerky that broke apart easily. I tossed the jerky in the food processor until it was powder. After the meat, in went the blueberries to process. Again, you want a powder.

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Now I was ready to render some fat. I used grass-fed bison kidney fat, which was already diced into tiny pieces. I put about half a pound of that into a cast iron pan and cooked it slowly over super-low heat.

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I made sure to stir the fat as it rendered out, and watched closely so that it wouldn’t burn. When the fat stops bubbling, the rendering is done.

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Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.

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Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder.

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I think I poured too much too quickly, so I added a bit of almond meal to firm it up. Let it firm up, then cut it into squares or roll it into a ball. I went with a ball.

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Pemmican will keep almost forever. Pure, dried protein and rendered (mostly saturated) fat are highly stable, so I wouldn’t worry about it going rancid. If it does, you’ll know.

Now, my pemmican wasn’t exactly delicious. In fact, it tasted a bit like bland dog food [SS Note: Try smoking the meat for more flavor]. Maybe I’ll jazz it up next time with some more salt and spices, but I don’t think pemmican is meant to be eaten for pleasure. This is utilitarian food, perfect for long treks through the wilderness. It gets the job done, and I’ll probably make it again. It definitely doesn’t taste bad; in fact, the taste grows on you after awhile.

My dog certainly enjoyed cleaning up the bowl.

Categories: Bushcrafting, DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

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