Posts Tagged With: doing the stuff

Gnawing Solutions to Self-Reliance: 18 Beaver Habitat Resources

by Todd Walker

North America’s largest rodent may be considered a nuisance to farmers, landowners, and highway departments. From a self-reliant perspective, this fury critter offers more benefits than damage in most cases.

Gnawing Solutions to Self-Reliance- 18 Beaver Habitat Resources - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Last weekend our family gathered to fulfill my brother’s request. After spreading most of his ashes in the lake behind my parents house, Kyle, my brother’s oldest son, and I took a small container of his ashes to the feeder creek where my brother and I spent many childhood hours catching crawdads and reenacting the Daniel Boone TV show.

Childhood memories were as fresh as the day our jack knives carved “CW” and “TW” in the paper-like bark of a massive Beech tree on the creeks bend. Kyle and I searched for the tree with no success.

I felt lost. Not just because my brother would never tramp these woods by my side…

The entire landscape surrounding what was once a creek full of boyhood memories and misadventures was unrecognizable. The stream which once flowed unobstructed under a thick hardwood canopy between two ridges was now a decade old beaver pond.

My eyes witnessed a complete transformation. Twenty-five yards to both sides of the creek grew a lush, green landscape of grasses, cattail, and other aquatic plants. The scenic vista stretched 100 yards with dead standing timber scatter intermittently. Our life had changed much like my beloved creek.

Self-Reliant Resources Gnawing to be Discovery in Beaver Habitat | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Kyle and ‘Abby’ walking on beaver pond sediment collected over the years. The creek of my youth had split which once ran three times the size on this spot.

Inspired by Scott Jones, Georgia native and author of A View to the Past – (and a recent roadkill beaver on my drive home) – this article highlights the importance of the fury woodland engineer. For further research on the role beavers and their habitat played in pre-history, read his book.

Jones pegged it when he wrote that the beaver is…

“next to fire and human activity, one of the premier agents of landscape and habitat alteration on this continent.”

Our upland creek had morphed into new ecosystem. Presented with a smorgasbord of new resources, the beaver pond could be viewed as a gnawing problem or…

The Gnawing Self-Reliance Solution

It’s a dam good idea! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

Seriously though, when a beaver couple selects their home site on a free-flowing stream or creek, landowners may look despairingly upon the beaver colony and the accompanying swimming hole. However, with a view to long-term self-reliance, one should consider leaving it to the beavers.

Here’s why…

With the wetland area comes a host of new and beneficial resources for the homesteader, farmer, woodsman, foragers, primitive technologist, hunter/fisherman, wildlife, and the land itself.

Below are the top 18 resources available in your local beaver-built wetland habitat…

The Beaver (Castor canadensis) 

Beavers were once near extinction in Georgia and the United States due to over-trapping and habitat loss. A reintroduction program in the 1940’s successfully repopulated our state and nation. In fact, they’re thriving to the point in Georgia that there is no closed season on harvesting beaver.

A harvested animal can be used for

  • Meat – prepared correctly, beaver tenderloin, back straps, hams, and even the tail makes a tasty and nourishing meal.
  • Pelt – composed of long, coarse hair with wooly undercoat, beaver pelts were luxuriously warm winter hat and mittens.
  • Teeth – the chisel-sharp incisors make great primitive scrapers for wood carving tasks
  • Castor glands – used in the perfume industry but are most valuable for trappers as a universal furbearer attractant. For those interested in trapping, check out this informative article on harvesting castor glands and oil to make your own attractant.

Not crazy about the thought of eating a large rodent? No problem. A beaver colony is full of southern hospitality. Their engineering feats offer accommodations for fury, feathery, and finned appetizing meals.

Fish

In mature beaver ponds, many species of fish are available. You may not catch one as large as the one I’m tangling with below, but rest assured, you can feed yourself and family from beaver ponds.

A large grass carp

Landing a 25 pound carp

Limb hooks, fish traps, and trot lines are great for harvesting fish while you attend to other tasks of self-reliance. However, don’t discount cane poles! My brother and I pulled many a mess of fish from fishing holes with a homemade bamboo or sapling pole.

Reptiles

Venomous and non-venomous snakes are fond of wetland habitat.

Didn't get close enough to identify this one but we think it was a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) by its behavior

Black snake resting his briar hammock

We didn’t get close enough to positively identify this one but we think it was a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) due to its behavior. Racers like to climb and lay on vegetation. This guy/gal was using a clump of dead blackberry bushes like a drying rack.

Water moccasin

Water moccasin is a venomous snake common in and around beaver ponds in Georgia

Watch your step when scouting for resources in beaver ponds. The only venomous snakes in our area of Georgia to be concerned about are rattle snakes, cottonmouths (water moccasins), and copper heads.

Turtles and beavers go together. And, yes, turtles are edible.

This snapping turtle is next to a size 12 shoe for comparison

This Common Snapping Turtle is next to a size 12 shoe for comparison

Foraging Flora and Fauna

IMG_1616

False Nettles growing in sediment build up along the creek

River cane, Willow, Tulip Poplar, Arrowhead, Cattail, and other plants and trees that thrive in wetland habitat are available in and around beaver ponds. Always, always, correctly identify wild edibles before consuming.

Cattail

Cattail

Woodcraft and Primitive Skills

Debarked wood for tool handles, digging sticks, bow drill sets, shelter, and rabbit sticks can be found in beaver habitat. Wood removed from a dam will quickly be replaced with freshly gnawed logs. Some of my favorite walking sticks were removed from beaver ponds.

Flooded timber in our beaver pond was home to many wood peckers

Flooded timber in our beaver pond is home to many woodpeckers

Try removing bark on a log using only primitive scraping tools and you’ll have a new appreciation for beaver-chewed wood.

Beaver damage to a maple on a small pond at the property

Beaver damage to a maple on a small pond at the property

Firewood is plentiful, too. Beavers eat the bark off large diameter trunks killing the tree to open the canopy above. Standing dead, they eventually fall from wind storms or get gnawed down.

The spillway in the middle of one of the dams

The spillway in the middle of one of the dams

Exercise caution tramping through beaver dams and ponds. Watch for hazards while admiring the beauty.

Wetlands and Stored Water

The natural way to create beneficial wetlands costs no money and is built by Mother Nature’s best engineer… the beaver.  The beaver pond at the head of our lake provides critical habitat for waterfowl.

Even without the beaver pond, we have a deep water lake. However, landowners and farmers without a man-made lake or pond could benefit from a beaver-built watershed for irrigation.

  • When water tables drop during drought, water will be available in beaver ponds.
  • Dams also serve to naturally filter water and remove silt.
  • Stable water supply for wildlife, livestock, and vegetation.
  • Elevates ground water table.
  • Formation of fertile beaver meadows after being silted in.

Beaver Facts

  • Lifespan – 5 to 10 years in the wild
  • Size – 30 to 50 inches from head to end of paddle tail
  • Weight – 40 to 60 pounds fully grown; the Ice Age beaver, Castoroides, was said to have weighed 400 pounds… that’s a big beaver! (Source:A View to the Past)
  • Diet – Southeastern beavers eat tree bark: Sweetgum, Willow, Dogwood, Tulip Poplar, Pine, Cottonwood, Maple and most any tree available. They also dine on aquatic plants, roots, fruit, and tubers and stems of plants in the beaver habitat. Beavers will also venture into corn fields for meals.
  • Identification – large rodent with orange teeth, coarse outer hair with a wooly undercoat, webbed feet with claws, and a paddle tail used as a rudder, warning signal when slapped on the top of water, and a prop when standing to gnaw trees.
  • Natural Predators – Bear, bobcat, cougar, coyote, and humans
  • Shelter – Beavers build dens in lodges in the ponds they’ve created. They burrow into banks mostly in my area and not the typical beaver lodge. On deep water lakes and larger rivers, bank dens are their homes. We call these critters bank beavers.

The gnawing solutions are worth consideration by every student of self-reliance for long-term sustainability. What do you think? Benefit or nuisance?

Though I lost the Beech tree containing our initials due to flooded beaver habitat, our property has gained a valuable wetland resource. Plus, Kyle, part of the next generation of Walkers, found his initials he’d carved in a smaller Beech tree and forgotten about. I think I’ll go add “CW” and “TW” to this new family tree.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube 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, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Water | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex

by Todd Walker

Which word in the title lured you to this article? That’s a rhetorical question really.

Whatever the reason, thanks for reading!

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

We’re not analyzing all the different labels related to preparedness. That’s a waste of time. If you believe your label (bushcraft, prepper, homesteader, survivalist, etc.) is superior to all others, stop reading now. Other venues are available which encourage you to crawl onto a pedestal of superiority.

Tess Pennington, author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, addresses the preparedness community’s cubical mindset in the intro of her book:

“Once again, we have compartmentalized ourselves. Well, I hate to break it to you all, but we are all one in the same. That’s right folks, same group; different names. Potato, potahto. There are however, varying degrees of preparedness and this is where the difference lies. Preppers range from people who have a first-aid kit in the car to those who have an underground bunker. That said, it’s about time that we start embracing one another as a preparedness community and be more positive and uplifting towards one another’s endeavors.”

With that out of the way, let’s get started with…

Primal (First) Skills

If you started your journey to self-reliance as a prepper, why should you be interested in mating primitive skills with prepping?

My philosophy of preparedness is in a constant state of evolution. Reliance on gear and tools has always been a key component. Humans have always been tool junkies. We’re really no different from our Stone Age ancestors. The difference is that their survival depended upon their ability to make said tools.

For instance, imagine your popularity if you were the first human to make fire by friction repeatable. Now your tribe’s mobility isn’t tied to carrying smoldering embers nestled in dry animal dung and plant fibers. The game changed. Grok can now make fire from materials found on the landscape. No previous fire required. This new technology expanded his survivability in a big way!

There in lies the conundrum with new discoveries and technologies…

For most of us, we’ve forgotten our roots. Domestication occurred. We’ve grown dependent upon modern tools and gadgets. Nothing wrong with modern stuff. I’ve got Bic lighters scattered throughout all my kits. The challenge is to practice primitive while carrying 21st century gear. To do so…

“We need to see ourselves in prehistory.”

– Scott Jones in A View to the Past

I’m I saying replace your carbon steel cutting tools and synthetic cordage and stainless steel water bottle for flint knives, nettle cordage, and deer stomach containers? Nope! Not even close. But you’ve gotta admit, owning the skills to do so would give you options. And options make us Anti-Fragile.

Here’s a truth Dave Canterbury drills into our self-reliant mindset. The 5 C’s of Survivability are the most difficult to reproduce in nature. To do so, you need knowledge, skills, and resources –  which may not be readily available. These five; cutting tool, combustion device, cover, cordage, and container, most directly affect our number one priority in wilderness survival – core temperature control. So don’t hit the wildness without them.

But what if… you dump your canoe or lose all your stuff? Your belt knife is still attached but that’s about all. Will you be able to reproduce the missing 5 C’s from the landscape… even your cutting tool?

Primitive Skills Reduce Survival Stressors

Mors Kochanski’s bushcraft motto is, “The more you know, the less you carry.” Caught without modern gear in a survival situation can add lethal stress.

Knowing how to deal with the stress of having no cordage to lash a shelter together can be reduced if you know how to make cordage from plant and tree fibers. More time and calories are required to make natural cordage, but owning this skill gives you one less thing to worry about.

Learning primitive skills can be done at two speeds… incrementally or total emersion. I’ve chosen the incremental approach. Most moderns will.

Bill of Instinct Survivalist, another new buddy, Kevin, and I spent last Saturday at a local (Georgia) primitive skills workshop taught by Scott Jones. The class focused on fire, cordage, and sharp stuff (stone cutting tools) – 3 of the 5 C’s of Survivability.

This is a small fraction of the knowledge and skills our ancestors passed down for outdoor self-reliance and wilderness living. With that said, it’s a good place to start.

Primitive Skills Every Prepper Should Know

1.) Natural Cordage

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

18 indigenous cordage fibers Scott Jones has on display for demonstrations

Primitive skills take practice. Learn to identify, harvest, and process the local resources nature provides. Scott’s board (pictured above) revels a sample of 18 natural fibers suitable for cordage.

From L to R:

  1. Red Cedar
  2. Bald Cypress
  3. Atlantic White Cedar
  4. Red Mulberry
  5. Black Locust
  6. Yellow (Tulip) Poplar
  7. Winged Elm
  8. Paw Paw
  9. Basswood
  10. False Nettle
  11. Blue Star
  12. Milkweed
  13. Dogbane
  14. Evening Primrose
  15. Spanish Moss
  16. Button Snakeroot
  17. Yucca
  18. Cattail

We made 2-ply cordage from Yucca, Tulip Poplar, Okra, and Dogbane. Yup. Don’t compost all those okra stalks in the fall.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Indigenous cordage I made this weekend. Clockwise from 12:00 ~ Dogbane; Tulip Poplar; Okra; and Yucca. Moose, our dog, thought the okra and yucca were chew toys.

I filmed a video on making cordage with Dogbane Sunday. The fibers were too small to add much instructional value. I’ll use a larger material next time. Until then, you may find Dave Canterbury’s cordage video as helpful I did…

2.) Fire by Friction

I’ve made fires using a bow drill many times. However, Scott ruined my previously held belief that resinous woods like pine are not suitable for bow drills. That theory went down the drain as every student created glowing embers with a pine hearth board and pine spindle. Here’s a quick video of the fun…

3.) Stone Cutting Tools

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bipolar Flaking technique… wear eye protection and watch those fingers!

The simplest way to create a sharp edge comes from bipolar flaking. All you need is an anvil (large base stone), hammer stone, and a smaller rock (chicken egg size) to crack like you would a nut. Place the egg sized stone upright (pole to pole, hence the term bipolar) on the anvil and strike it with your hammer stone. If you miss hit, expect blood, swearing, and possible tears. Wear eye protection.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This crude technique takes little skill and provides sharp tools like scrapers, sharp flakes, and small stone drill points. You could make and use these simple tools even with no flintknapping knowledge.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones demonstrates how to make an arrowhead from glass

Practicing primitive skills develops a Possum Mentality. You’ll become keenly aware of raw resources, especially other people’s trash. For instance, bottoms of glass bottles can be made into arrowheads and cutting tools.

Pictured below are a few products of my Possum Mentality over the years:

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Possum Mentality: Top row is a sample of points I’ve found over the years. Bottom row are multi-functional products of bipolar flaking.

Be True to Your Nature

We preppers and self-reliance technicians love gear. But all gear and tools eventually fail. Having the knowledge and skills to use available resources to make stuff from the landscape is essential for both short-term and long-term survivability.

What happens when prepping and primitive skills have sex?

The offspring of this union breeds a self-reliance trait found only in prehistory which expresses our true nature. To tap into your true nature, I recommend Scott Jones’ book, A View to the Past: Experience and Experiment in Primitive Technology.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube 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, Gear, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Top 31 Uses for “Killer” Cotton in Core Temperature Control

by Todd Walker

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cotton got a bad rap with the advent of modern synthetic outdoor wear. I love the properties of my synthetic base layers. In cold environments, I wear synthetic wicking material against my skin. I’ve also been known to wear…. wait for it… fleece! But I’m more a fan of natural fibers like cotton and wool.

Being modern is not always better. While some situations require a blend of new and old school clothing, nothing beats wearing my favorite flannel shirt as I brew my morning coffee on an open fire at the Dam Cabin.

IMG_0824

Abby is fond of fire too

In fact, besides being comfortable, cotton can be a life-saver! Wilderness survival is all about Core Temperature Control and cotton plays a vital role.

Here are my top 31 ways Killer Cotton can be used to control your core temperature and effect your Wilderness Survival Priorities…

Priority #1: Self Aid

Self aid is your number one priority in a wilderness survival scenario. If you can’t move effectively, your chances of survival plummet. If you’re a minimalist gear junky like me, cotton material excels to meet this survival priority.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings.

I’m not suggesting you not carry a first aid kit. That’s completely your choice. There’s a difference in first aid kits and prescribed medications. Carry all medicines you require. But for the most common injuries you’ll encounter in a wilderness scenario, your 10 Piece Kit is your first aid kit.

  • Bandaging
  • Sling
  • Wound compress and pressure dressing
  • Cleaning
  • Padding for splints
  • Cover burns and keep moist
  • Straining medicinals in the field
  • Hot/Cold wrap
  • Tourniquet as a last resort

Priority #2: Shelter

Clothing is your first layer of cover.

  • Yes. I wear this “killer” as mid-layers in the winter! Be smart while wearing cotton by following the C.O.L.D. acronym…
  1. C – Keep cotton CLEAN
  2. O – Avoid OVERHEATING
  3. L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
  4. D – Keep cotton DRY

Priority #3: Fire

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My buddy Joel making char cloth in his stainless steel water bottle. Photo credit: Iris Canterbury, The Pathfinder School

  • Char cloth for your next fire
  • Makeshift wick for tallow or other oil lamps
  • While not clothing, many folks use cotton balls/pads and Vaseline as fire starters
  • Wind screen to start a fire

Priority #4: Water/Food

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pre-filtering with a bandana into a metal container. Photo credit: Iris Canterbury, The Pathfinder School

  • Container for foraged food and other resources
  • Waxed cotton material can be used in water collection
  • Pre-filter to strain larger “floaties” while collecting water from outdoor sources. This decreases the chances of clogging commercial filters. Bandanas won’t filter out micro organisms. Boiling is the best way to kill these nasties.
  • My friend Joshua over at The 7 P’s Blog has a great tutorial on building a DiY Tripod Water Filter using… you guessed it, cotton.
  • Collect and absorb moisture from dew and plants
  • Insulator to grab hot pots off the fire
  • Use it as a tea/coffee ball

Priority #5: Signaling

Pack at least one orange bandana in your kit.

  • Orange bandanas used alert rescuers
  • Strips hanging as trail markers

Bonus Uses for Cotton

  • Toilet paper – ever tried wiping your business end with synthetic base layers?
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Personal hygiene, wash cloth, cleaning your teeth
  • Cool looking dew rag
  • Handkerchief – Yup.

Cotton can be a killer. But as you can see, it can also save your life.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube 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, First Aid, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliance Skills

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

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

5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliant Skills

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

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

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

Specialization

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

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

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

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

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

Voluntary Trade 

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

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

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

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

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

Dirty Nails

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

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

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

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

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

Get Local

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

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

Judgement

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Small Stuff,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

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

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

by Todd Walker

Here’s a reader appreciation giveaway!

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

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

 

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

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

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

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

The Compass Rose Journal insert on the left

A Handcrafted Bushcraft Journal Giveaway for Your Journey to Self Reliance

A closer look at the journal package

How To Enter

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

1.) “Like” our Facebook page

2.) “Follow” us on Twitter

3.) Tweet about the giveaway

OR

4.) Leave a comment on this blog post.

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

 

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

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

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

Enter by Clicking the Link Below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 79 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

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

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

But here’s the thing…

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

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

My only question is… WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Have a Clothed and Confident Summer

1.) Clothing (Capt. Obvious here)

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

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

2.) Water

sawyer squeeze water filter

Sawyer Squeeze and 32 oz. Pathfinder bottle kit

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

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

3.) Fitness

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

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

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

4.) Planning

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

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

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

5.) Weather

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

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

  • Wind
  • Cold
  • Moisture

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

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

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

6.) Pride

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

Stay humble, my friends!

And keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

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

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

The Wild Woodsman Workout

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

Equipment Needed

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

Cut the Core

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

On the backstroke!

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Chopping up hill.

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

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

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

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

And this wasn’t a mis-hit.

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Finishing the second cut with my saw.

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Water break at base camp!

Lift Heavy Stuff

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

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

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Squats on the rocks!

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

Haul Heavy Stuff

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Uphill gets more for your money.

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

Jump Stuff

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

Nature’s pommel horse.

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

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

Primal Pool Dip

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

Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsmans Workout

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

 

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of self-reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Functional Fitness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 18 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

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

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

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

Make your own!

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

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

Ahhh, Smell the Leather!

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

Gather the Stuff

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools and stuff

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

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

Make Your Template

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

You’ll need two folders

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Outlining the top profile of the ax

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

 

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

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

Label and store the template for later projects.

Ready for Leather

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Transfer the mask template to your leather

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cutting the leather

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Making the welt

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Dry fitting

Holes – Glue – Grooves

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

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Punching holes

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

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

Beveling edges

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

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

Grooving the edges for stitching

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

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

Gluing the welt

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

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

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

Punching stitching holes

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

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

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

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

Setting the snap for the strap

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

Stitching

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

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

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

Stitched and ready to go!

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

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

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

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

Check out more stuff in the Self-Reliant Summer series

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance!

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

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

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

“There’s nothing to do.” *Sigh*

That’s all I needed to hear!

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

I’m bored!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear Factor

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

“What?” I asked.

“Bullets.”

“No buddy, these are ball bearings.”

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

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

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

Taking aim!

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

Safety First

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

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

Short Cuts

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

Passing Down Self-Reliance Skills to a Seven Year Old

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

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

IMG_0500

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

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

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

And he scores!!

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

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

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

Fridge worthy wood!

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

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube 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, Self-reliance, Survival Education, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

10 Reasons to Add Plantain to Your SHTF Medicine Chest

by Todd Walker

10 Reasons to Add Plantain to Your SHTF Medicine Chest

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

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

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

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

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

Picking Plantain

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

Scientific namePlantago major

Broad leaf plantain

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

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

Scientific name: Plantago lanceolata

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

This narrow-leaf variety is more plentiful in my area

This narrow-leaf variety is more plentiful in my area

Narrow -leaf plantain with the head and stalk

Narrow -leaf plantain with the head and stalk

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

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

Properties of Plantain

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Alterative (Cleansing) Uses

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

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

#2 Anti-inflammatory Uses

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

#3 Demulcent (Soothing) Uses

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

#4 Diuretic (promotes production of urine) Uses

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

#5 Refrigerant (Cooling) Uses

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

#6 Styptic (stop bleeding) Uses

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

# 7 Anti-toxic Uses

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

#8 Astringent (drawing) Uses

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

#9 Laxative

  • Relieves constipation
  • But also works on diarrhea

#10 Antimicrobial (antibiotic) Uses

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

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

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

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

Medicinal Recipes

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Herbal Remedies, Natural Health | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

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