Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It was a really cool experience to check out different plants and see which ones were used as food or for other purposes by the native Americans. One thing I'd like to stress though is that this is in California, I can't guarantee that a plant that looks like one of these is the same thing in other climates or parts of the country, so always do the research and find out about the plants native to your area before taking it for granted that something is safe to eat!
This is the California Bay tree. The trunk looked to me like a sort of grayish color, rough, but not cracked deep at all, I'd actually almost call it smooth but that would be confusing after I said it was kind of rough, there's a little picture down there within the pic. Anyway, Native Americans used to burn the leaves in their sweat lodges in order to mask their scent when hunting. People who aren't hunters probably don't think about how unbelievably easy a deer (or many other animals) can smell a human, so this could be very important in the wild if you needed to hunt discretely.
This one is the Sword Fern. It's differentiated by the tubers, stolons, and rhizomes it produces, the last of which are edible. A Rhizome is a root-like stem that creeps along underground. Stolons are stems that creep above or barely right below the surface of the ground, popping new plants out of their nodes. Tubers, which are roundish-to-oblong food-stores for the plant. A potato is an example of a tuber. As far as I've found, only the rhizomes of the Sword Fern are edible.
This guy is the Black Hawthorne. It's characterized by being a very bushy vertically growing shrub (sometimes even a very small tree) with thin thorny branches and leaves that are serrated (not smooth). The serration can vary from large to small serrations. It also grows little white flowers with green-tinged centers.
The cool thing about this one is that it grows berries that are edible. The berries are reddish when growing and eventually become a deep purple or black when ripe.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I took some pictures so you can check stuff out now, but as I read these books I'll be sure to mention anything particularly cool that I find.
Here's the pics: (if I start doing this often I'll have to get myself a flickr account
This is Oregon Iris. According to the little placard it's fibers can be used for cordage. I guess you'd have to strip off the many leaf-stems on one of the main branches first and somehow strip that into fibers. I'm very interested in learning how this is done!
This is the California Buckeye. It blooms fruits in the summer and has snowy-white pink flowers. ATTENTION! This thing is TOXIC==POISONOUS!!! Good thing I saw it here first. If you were lost in the wilderness wouldn't you test out a fruit as harmless looking as this? According to the placard this was used by the natives as fish poison. I don't understand exactly what that means though. Used to poison a fish to kill it? Wouldnt that make it inedible? I'm very interested in finding out the specifics about this.
Ahhh the California Juniper. I'm used to seeing Juniper bushes used as hedges in front of many houses and in other public places. What I didn't know is that the branches and especially large dried-out trunks were prized for bow-wood, and the leaves were used as medicine, which is definitely something I'd like to learn more about.
More California Juniper. Up there is the leaves, down here is the bark.
Yucca Whipplei, aka "Our Lord's Candle." This is a very awesome plant. According to the sign: "Indian uses: food, stalk for tinder, leaf fibers for cordage & sandals." Again a plant I'm very interested in learning more about, specifically how to make it's prepared as food, and how to make sandals out of it's leaves! You know us Californians with our beaches and our sandal-rocking in February, haha...
That's all I've got time for right now but I'll try to post more tomorrow or the next day. Lots of studying to do though so we'll see...
One interesting thing to note: No palm trees anywhere. I remember hearing from a friend at some point that Palm Trees are not native to our area so I'd like to find out if this is true. It's just kind of interesting considering that the rest of the country probably associates Palm trees with California and Florida... I wonder if they're native to Florida for that matter...
Sunday, October 12, 2008
One of the things I heard about on Jack Spirko's "The Surival Podcast" is being self sufficient. Growing and making your own food to save money. One of those things is making your own bread and a fun little thing to try might be trying to make beer-bread, so as suggested, I gave it a shot.
THE INGREDIENTS: there are many different variations and you can really make the recipie your own by experimenting but here's what I used:
- 3 cups Flour (sifted)
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 (12oz) bottle of Beer
- You'll also need a breadpan, wooden spoon, measuring tools(tbsp, tsp, cup) and butter to grease the breadpan.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. It'll be hard to do after the beer is added.
- Add in the beer. As you stir, the beer with react with the dry ingredients to make the mixture very sticky and very hard to mix. Just put some muscle into it and use a good strong wooden spoon. You can add another couple ounces of beer if you want, I did and found it loosened everything up just a little and made it easier to stir.
- Put it all in a greased breadpan and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
- Let it cool for a while in the pan, then a little more out of the pan, then dig in!
NOTES & MODS:Store in a nice dry place like any other bread. Got a breadbox? Cool. I don't :(
Whether it's a plus or a minus for you, don't worry about the alchohol, it dissolves once you bake it.
Make sure you sift the flour to make the bread lighter and fluffier, not like a brick.
Also note the crust is often hard. There are ways to change this (i think the melted-butter on top thing will, haven't tried it myself yet) but this is generally to be expected.
As mentioned before you can really tweak things and add things to make this recipie your own. The recipie I used suggested sprinkling extra sugar on top to make a nice sweet crust so I did.
I've also heard it recommended to pour melted butter and garlic-salt on top, or add garlic and/or herbs to the dry mixture. Either try your own experiments for look stuff up online for ideas.
It's remarkably quick and easy to make but it can be screwed up if you do things wrong, like don't sift the flour, or don't store it right. Mine was delicious the night I made it, but quickly wen't nasty because I don't have a good place to store it. It's worth mastering though b/c it's quick to make and it ends up being a good snack or dinner-side that's cheaper than buying something.
Ah! One last note!I don't think it matters what kind of beer you use, but it might be interesting to experiment with different kinds. I first heard that light beer works best so I used Miller, but while baking I read online that for folks who want to try heavier beer, you should add things like garlic and herbs and butter if you use heavier beers like Guiness. Anyway, have fun!
***Also: I took more pics, but my memory card was loose so most of them didn't save properly, hence no pics of the sticky beer-included mixture, nor the baking.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Today I made my own charcloth.
Charcloth is charcoal-like fabric that catches an ember or spark very well and retains that heat, burning slowly to make it useful for igniting kindling to start a fire.
It is made by burning the fabric used to make it in the absence of oxygen so that it gets all of the oxygen and moisture sucked out of it and gets charred without being consumed by actual flame. What's left over is a black brittle thin charred cloth.
I made my own today and will share the steps and specifics of how to make it with pretty pictures.
1. the materials
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Yo, people. Just wanted to spread the word about a podcast I've been listening to.
This man in Texas runs a website at http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/.
His shows consist of a huge range of topics having to do with the various concepts of survivalism. Everything from keeping your head above the water if our economy fails, to self-sufficiency in food growing and hunting, to more hands-on skills for survival that you ought to know and even the mindset one should have.
A couple shows I liked:
Another very cool website is http://www.survivaltopics.com/ which offers almost strictly practical hands-on wilderness survival instructions, ideas and the like.
That's where I bought my firesteel and paracord, and where I've learned about quite a few of the things I really want to try which I will be posting about.
If anybody has any other cool websites on anything from plants and animals to camping and survival advice please let me know.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I ordered some Sweedish Firesteel and 550 Paracord from a great information resource I found, http://www.survivaltopics.com/.
Sweedish firesteel is like other metals that are used to create sparks and in turn fire. The website I found it on reccomended it above the rest though. I'm not sure if that was only because the sell it there, or because it really is a cut above, but either way I'm happy with it.
It's really easy to use. It works just by scraping particles off of it with another hard object like a piece of metal or even a shard of glass! It creates a considerable shower of sparks when scraped the right way which will quickly ignite anything highly flamable (more on that stuff in another post).
Another great thing about it is that it's waterproof. It'll spark just fine even after it's been completely submerged in water (though obviously your kindling and timber needs to be dry to catch fire in the first place.
This is cord originally developed by the military (WWII I think?) for parachutes but it's become very popular since then because it's been found to work very well for all sorts of things. The number 550 comes from the fact that this grade of it (Grade/Type C or 3) is built to have a minimum breaking point of 550 lbs.
It's got a good nylon outer sheath and 14 inner threads braided first in pairs and then all together from there. The fact that it has these easy to get-at inner threads makes it very useful for even small things like sewing (repair clothing/gear) and even as fishing line. And the nylong sheath can be burned down to seal the ends after cutting to keep it from fraying.
I'm curious if it could be used to stich a wound shut but I don't know anything about what kind of materials are used for medical stiches. I'd be interested to find out though.
One thing to note is that it is a bit stretchy which could be either good or bad depending on what you need it for, but I like that aspect because I would imagine it would make good bowstring. I'll have to experiment with that.
Friday, September 26, 2008
For one, I'd like to get familiar with the local plants of my area (Southern California) so I'm going to visit a local nature preserve that's focused on highlighting the natural vegetation of the area and educating the public about it. I'll definitely take my camera along and try to get some cool pictures.
Secondly, I'm going to attempt to make my own charcloth, which is basically a like charcoal. It's made from cloth that's been charred so that it catches a spark very well, keeps it for a fair amount of time, and therefore is very helpful in starting fires. I just need to find a small gas micro-stove first and I'm not sure where to go. Should be fun though.
I also ordered some Swedish firesteel and 550 parachord which I'll talk more about when I receive them and take some pictures.
You guys know what I mean right? It's basically the classic image of someone trying to start a fire by spinning a stick very fast between the hands, while applying downward pressure to help the friction. You cut a notch in the area you're drilling so that dust that comes off falls down into one place until that dust becomes so hot that you end up with a small coal.
Here's an image. Borrowed it from http://blog.makezine.com/. All credit goes that-a-way. I didn't have the patience to make a crude ms_paint rendition of my own. ;)
Why Mine Didn't Work:
I actually expected to fail, otherwise I would have taken pictures.
I think the fact that I'm very very near the coast was a fair detriment to my attempt because of lots of moisture in the air during this time of the year and the fact that the wood pieces I used were not nearly as dry as I would have preferred.
Not only that but my drill wasn't very straight or smooth or easy to work with.
Maybe one Saturday before the fall really comes to So-Cal I'll try to find time to take a drive up to the mountains to find some better materials and I'll make a real attempt I'll take some pictures.
I'll also try other versions of the fire drill with bow and strap to help the process.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
His slogan is:
"Helping You Live the Life You Want
If Times Get Tough, Or Even If They Don’t"
Think about it. In order to survive we have to conform to society's rules and standards of normalcy to be accepted so we can get hired for jobs to pay for food and water we're not capable of acquiring ourselves, clothes we're not capable of making ourselves, and shelter we're not capable of building ourselves. That's a large chunk of what's literally necessary to our physical survival that we are dependent upon society for.
Before the institution of the Federal Reserve and the the institution of debt, our kin used to know how to hunt, fish, skin and cook an animal, how to build a house, how to make our own clothing, or shave a damn sheep for that matter. Today we're so overpopulated there's not enough land for us all to live that way so we work to pay for these things as well as stuff we don't need and can't afford, which we buy on credit to feed the big corporations.
I'm not saying I really want to shave my own sheep and make my own clothes, but ideally I do wish I could own my own land where I coud at least plant a garden and build a greenhouse to save money growing my own food and stick some solar panels on the roof to cut down the electricity bill. That right there would probably leave me with a good chunk of extra cash and a proud feeling of a little more real freedom and independence.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I've checked out all sorts of websites and blogs by guys who are eithor survivalists in the at-the-ready sense, or are hardcore nature enthusiasts who are into nature in general and like camping and surviving out in the wilderness, and most of them say one of the most important things you can have besides a good knife, is a good multi-tool. But even for no reason at all, they're convenient to have just in general.
A multi-tool for those who don't know is exactly what it sounds like, something with multiple tools for any job, but to liken it to a phrase more people are familiar with, think of a Swiss Army Knife, with all those cool little tools on there.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I don't like what I see around me here in my little city in California, in my country as a whole and in the world. Whether it's lack of interest in meaningful ideas in our music, movies and television, the state of our economy, the state of this 2008 Presidentail Election, the state of our country's image in the eyes of the rest of the world, or the state of many religions around the world including my own, I feel that there are a lot of things wrong out there and I can't help but feel that things HAVE to change sooner or later.
I just don't see how things can keep getting worse and not result in some rather large consequence. If you understand what's going on in the economy right now then you realize that we're in a horrible place right now.
While contemplating all of this one night, I was struck with a sense of fear and helplessness. For about a week, maybe more, I felt as though the very possible prospect of things getting worse and worse was looming like mountain-sized boulder over me and there was nothing to do to get out of the way or stop it. That analogy however is completely unfitting of how I felt after what happened next.
One night while lying sleeplessly worrying as I had been doing, I was struck with a sense of rebellion. Rebellion against feeling sorry for myself and sorry for the world around me. I decided, no, I told myself that I'm a fighter. I'm a strong-minded and strong-willed person like my mother and I don't just sit and take bullshit as it comes.
I decided that I could handle anything if I wanted to, so I could at least try to handle anything that came my way.
I may be short and scrawny but dammit I'm not somebody who just gives in to anything.
While searching for anything that reflected what I was feeling I came across the concept of survivalism.
It's basically the mentality that if the shit ever hits the fan, you want to be prepared for whatever it is and survive it. It is embraced by some religiouns who believe the end is near, but it's also been taken up by people since the 60's when there was the fear of nuclear attack looming over everyone. What I'm more interested in is the generic sense that while anything could happen, we don't have to take it lying down and there are always steps you can take to be prepared. Come to think of it I like the phrase "preparedness" more than "survivalism." Whether it's natural disaster, social unrest, economic crisis, terrorist attacks, there are always things you can do to be prepared.
I resent the media stereotypes of people with a preparedness mindset as anti-social nut-jobs. I don't think I need to be an antisocial nutjob to store food and grow my own to hedge against rising food costs, or to stay out of debt and save money to guard unforseen personal economic hardships, or to keep emergency supplies handy in case of an eathquake or some other natural disaster, or to know basic skills like how to build a fire, how to build a shelter, how to identify wild medicinal plants.
Here on this blog I'll be posting about things I learn and what I'm up to. Keep in mind I'm a total newb to this stuff so there a lot of people out there that know a hell of a lot more than me so I'm not claiming to be trying to help anyone other than myself but if any other n00bs are out there interested this blog is here.
Also if you want to send me other resources feel free. I'm going to be slowly scouring videos, podcasts, other blogs, books, websites and whatever else I can with what time I have. I do work 40hrs a week and go to a few hours of school per week so between that my free time is pretty minimal but I'm just going to do what I can, when I can.
This gives me something to occupy myself and I hope if anyone cares to read this junk, that you'll find it informative and/or interesting.
Thanks for reading.