Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day!

On July 4 of 1776, the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, formalizing the separation from Great Britain and starting the path to creating a new country, with a new kind of government. 

On behalf of the Family Survival Farm Blog, we'd like to wish all our readers a happy and safe Fourth of July. Good dreams!

Photo courtesy of pxhere.com.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Naturally Fertilizing Your Survival Garden


Naturally Fertilizing Your Survival Garden



A survival garden is an important part of any prepper’s spring and summer plans. Seriously, what can be better than growing your own food and stockpiling it as a means of long-term supply.

For one thing, you will be better able to meet your dietary needs, and those of your family members, and it doesn’t really take very much space to do it. Preppers in some of the most urband settings are proving that container gardening can be just as beneficial as having a plot of rural land to grow on. So there are really no major excuses when it comes to growing food.

No matter how you choose to grow your food, the fact is that your gardens can always benefit from a healthy natural fertilizer. It’s also less expensive than purchasing fertilizer, and more sustainable, as there may be none left to buy at some point. At some point, it may be impossible not only to buy it, but even to travel to a place where there might be an availability.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Composting



It actually takes very little to learn the few steps in takes to make a compost material. This material is a great way to reuse food scraps and items that otherwise get thrown away while creating a plant boost that is rich in nutrients. This is one of the best materials to start your seeds in, before transplanting them to a garden plot or outdoor container. Using compost can even create a richer soil for the following garden season as well.

What Nutrients Does the Soil Need?
One of the most important steps in knowing how to make your own natural fertilizer is knowing what nutrients are necessary for proper plant health in the first place. Nutrients are necessary for plants to grow and even more important to keep those plants flourishing and producing. When it comes to survival gardening, a non-producing plant is a useless one.

Some of the most important nutrients needed include:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Nitrogen
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Boron
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Zinc

Natural Fertilizers


Egg shells are great for increasing the amount of calcium in your soil. This helps seeds and plants to develop on a cellular level, for a great start. Shells also have nitrogen and phosphoric acid in them, in some amount, but it is calcium that is most easily depleted throughout the growth process. Grind the egg shells into a powder form and simply sprinkle the powder all around your plants.





Coffee grounds are what you want to use for plants that need a soil rich in acidity, such as tomatoes, blueberries and avocados. The grounds help to increase levels of potassium, nitrogen and magnesium and can even raise the pH level in the soil.










Epsom salt is a long time homestead favorite for the garden, although it isn’t exactly common knowledge. Plants will grow healthier and foods such as broccoli, onions and cabbage will be sweeter. Some gardeners use it on tomato and pepper plants for stronger stems, extra blossoms and also for the sweeter flavor it adds. The Epsom salt helps by adding sulfur and magnesium to the soil. A good mixture is made by adding a tablespoon of salts to one called of water. You can use this to spray directly onto the plants at two week intervals. Epsom salts can also be applied directly to the ground around newly transplanted plants for an added boost.

Banana peels can be used to add an extra kick of potassium to the soil. You never have to worry about adding too much, as it is absolutely impossible to have too much potassium in the garden. No ill effects will be suffered, no matter how much you use. To utilize the peels, simply shred them into thin strips, placing them in a circular fashion around the base of your plants.

While it seems a bit voodoo-like, hair can be added to the garden for a richer nitrogen content. You can use human hair, dog hair, cat hair or any other kind of hair, so long as it is free from any type of hair product, flea shampoo, etc. For a greater amount of hair, you might volunteer to sweep up freshly washed and cut hair from a local salon to always have plenty on hand.

Seaweed is an excellent fertilizer option if you happen to live on the ocean, or even if you frequently vacation in areas on the waterfront. Make sure to pick up the seaweed to transport back to your garden. In order to keep the nasty smell from creating havoc, make sure you wash it and let it air dry before storing or transporting it. To use it, finely chop two cups of seaweed and mix it with equal amounts of water. The two cups will be enough to use around the base of small plants. Use four cups for medium sized plants and six cups for large plants.

If you’ve ever had or known someone who had a garden, then you’re probably use to hearing about using manure to fertilize crops. You can use manure that has been composted from cows, horses, chickens and even rabbits to cover many different kinds of plants. Rabbit manure is particularly good to use when growing tomatoes. Manure supplies a ready host of great nutrients to the soil and even deters many insects that would otherwise eat your plants. Steer clear of putting fresh manure on your plants, though. It’s possible to kill them this way.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Virtue of a Metal Swimming Pool

By Forest Puha

Enjoying your blistering hot summer day working on your homestead? Need to cool off--- but much too busy to drive to the nearest lake, river or ocean for a dip?

What you need is your own Backyard Homestead Swimming Pool, otherwise known as a big metal stock tank. Big enough to cool off, but small enough for adults to sit and relax in.

First you need to find the right size, big enough that you can sit down and have the water come to your chest, or lie on your back and float, or whatever works for you. My family chose a model about 8 feet round and two feet deep, big enough to kick, float and pretend to swim in. I can cool off whenever I'm home in the heat.

The temps in rural Nevada have reached and surpassed 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week, and that stock tank full of water has been --AWESOME-- to have. We have had our metal stock tank for 15 years now, and it's held up great.


Nothing beats desert heat like this beautiful steel pool. Years of use and keeps on ticking.






Here is how we did ours: just go to the local hardware or feed store, pick a size, pay for it, and either haul it home on your truck, or have the store deliver it. They delivered ours for free.


In today's prices, our particular model costs roughly $300 to $500 brand new. I admit it's a pretty big chunk of change, but consider this: it's your very own swimming pool without going through the hassle of digging out a spot to put it. Try looking for used ones in newspaper and online classifieds, or just ask your neighbors if they know someone willing to part with theirs.

Once you have a pool, find a good spot to place it and level that spot. Our soil is sandy so we just raked it even. You can also line the ground with bricks for a firm bottom surface. Then clean the pool out with a garden hose and fill it up with water. Make sure the plastic stopper near the bottom of the tank is screwed on good and tight. Put the hose in the pool and fill with water.

Don't add anything to the water if you can help it, or at most just enough chlorine to keep the water clear.

Our Behlen Country-brand stock tank swimming pool. Found at hardware and farm stores worldwide, including Home Depot, Lowe's, Tractor Supply, Ace, True Value and many others. You can even find them online at Amazon.

So after a few days or a week of splashing around in your great new pool, that water is getting pretty dirty, right? What to do? Waste all that water? No way! Attach a common garden hose to the drain hole at the bottom of the tank and place the other end to where your thirsty trees are waiting. You are using the same water you would have used to water your trees: you just swam in it first!

Clean out the pool with a rag or brush and plain old biodegradable soap, rinse, and refill. It'll hold up for years and even decades, unlike regular home swimming pools made from incredibly thin plastic.


Some of the trees at our place that our swimming pool keep hydrated.


Our pool faces our homestead and nourishes a windbreak of trees that tower over our cabin now, which provides needed shade from the hot summer sun and looks beautiful. It's a mix of pines and global willows and a huge mulberry tree that the birds love. All grown from the water drained from our stock tank pool. Just be sure you plant your trees away from underground pipes and any septic tank area. In the wintertime, we flip the tank over and wait for the next year. It helps to put a little weight on top or tie it down with rope and stakes to hold against high winds.

So there you go: how to own and make your economical and environmentally friendly swimming pool. It's just waiting for you to cool off on a summer hot day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018



INCUBATING & BROODING COTURNIX QUAIL


The Internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I’m here to let you in on a secret… it’s not. Forget fumigation and floating techniques. It’s really no different than incubating a chicken egg. The only difference is that it takes less time and you might as well forget about candling. You simply pop your eggs in the incubator and start the clock (well, if you have an egg turner, otherwise you do have to turn them).
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

INCUBATING COTURNIX QUAIL EGGS

Coturnix quail go from being an egg to laying eggs in 8-9 weeks. Crazy, right? The first 17 days are spent incubating and days 18 and sometimes 19 are spent hatching. Much like chickens, there is no calendar in that egg, so quail chicks may begin to arrive as early as day 16 and as late as day 20. If you have chicks hatching before or after that window, you will want to confirm that your humidity and temperatures in the incubator are accurate.

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

Humidity levels are one of the first issues with incubating your Coturnix quail eggs. Less is more. In fact, many people have great success doing a dry incubation with their quail eggs. If you choose a humid incubation, aim for 45% humidity for the first 15 days and increase to 65% for the final three days.
For temperatures, quail eggs incubate at a similar temperature to chicken eggs. If you are running a still air model incubator, aim for a temperature of 102ºF and rotate the eggs around the incubator when you turn them. In a forced air model incubator, aim for a temperature of 100ºF.

TURNING YOUR QUAIL EGGS

If you do not have an egg turner (which is a highly recommended investment if you plan to hatch quail eggs with any regularity), eggs need to be manually turned at least three times a day, though five times is better. Marking one side of the egg with an X and the other side with O makes it easier to confirm you’ve turned them all.
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

CANDLING QUAIL EGGS

Although you can try to candle as early as day 6, I personally never could see anything and stopped looking. My method is to let them sit in their turner until day 15 and just let them do their thing. On day 15, when I remove them from their turner for hatching, I hold them in my hand for a moment or up to my ear. The shells are very thin and often you can hear or feel them moving inside. I also noticed that infertile eggs weigh noticeably less than fertile eggs. Of course, if you are unsure, just let them stay in for the duration. Quail eggs have less risk of exploding than chicken eggs.

HATCHING DAY FOR QUAIL

I had read that hatch day was like watching popcorn popping in the microwave. Not much happens and then all of a sudden they all get popping out at once. There is some validity to that, but it’s not 100% accurate. There are always a few that are early to the party as well as several that are late to arrive. The ones in the middle do seem to go from unpipped to out at a startling rate. I’ve looked in and seen no action whatsoever and then an hour later looked in to find a dozen running around. Quick little buggers they are.
Once everyone is hatched and fluffy, it’s time to move on to brooding. Remember to have your brooder set up several hours in advance so it has time to warm before the chicks need to be moved.

BROODING COTURNIX QUAIL CHICKS

Much like the incubation process, brooding Coturnix quail is not any more difficult than brooding chicken chicks. I think people get nervous because the chicks are so tiny. I’ll admit that it seems a lot could go wrong with a chick the size of a half dollar coin. The biggest fear I had was making sure none had died and I hadn’t noticed. Quail are usually hatched in large batches and it’s a challenge to count 50 chicks that look exactly the same. Mine are grown now and I still have trouble doing head counts.

BROODER SIZE

You may think that a brooder for such a tiny bird could be small, and you’d be correct for about a day. Coturnix quail do everything quickly and growing is no exception. Although they will look dwarfed in a large brooder for the first day, by the end of the first week, they’ll be wing to wing. Your Coturnix quail will look considerably different at the end of the day than they did when you woke up that morning. 6″ square per bird is adequate, but the larger the better.
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

FOOD AND WATER

As with any chick, feed and water need to be made available at all times. Water containers need to have marbles or rocks in them for the first week to prevent drowning. After the first week, any shallow water container will work. Quail need to be fed a high protein feed to keep up with their rapidly growing bodies. I like to use turkey/gamebird starter for the first 4 weeks, which is 28% protein content. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find this starter in mash consistency. It often comes in crumbles, which is too large for quail chicks. I purchased a coffee grinder at a thrift store and use that to grind the crumbles for the first two weeks. After two weeks, the quail seem to be able to handle the size of crumbles.
PROPER BROODING TEMPERATURES
Temperature needs for brooding Coturnix quail seem to vary depending on
the time of year and where you live. The general consensus is that they should
be kept at 95ºF for the first week and lowered by 5º each week. I’ve successfully
gotten away with less. Most texts say that you need to keep lowering the
temperature weekly until the brooder temperature is the same temperature as
where you will be housing them, but I haven’t found that to be true.

MOVING YOUR QUAIL OUTDOORS

I removed the heat at three weeks old (so they were at 65-70ºF) and moved our quail outdoors at four weeks old. I had a heat lamp on in their outdoor housing and none of them used it, even on colder days. In fact, on their 5th day outside it was raining cats and dogs and they were out in the rain scratching for goodies. I think they are hardier than people give them credit for.
Regardless of where you live or what time of year it is, your Coturnix quail will be ready for their new home by 5 weeks. They’ll also be preparing to start laying at that same time. Check back for our post on housing and laying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tips for Creating a Survival Garden


Survival gardens are becoming more popular these days, especially considering the rising prices of food in the grocery store, the harsh chemicals used to treat those foods and water supplies that grown more tainted each day. If you aren’t familiar with what a survival garden is, it is simply this: a veggie garden designed to produce enough food for you and your family to live on.



Many people argue that no one can know if we are under the threat of needing such a thing. However, in the same way that we don’t put off planning for other disasters until the last minute, you should at least consider the scenario, and have plans, just in case. The fact is, without food, you won’t last long. And in a dire situation, when food becomes hard to find, you won’t be able to expect anyone to be sharing their own stores either.

Considerations in Survival Gardens

In a survival garden, it’s important to think about which plants will offer the most nutrition by way of vitamins, carbs and fat. You won’t need just sustenance, but foods that will keep you healthy and functioning at the best possible level.



You’ll also want to at least get started working a small plot, if for no other reason than to get some hands-on learning. A small plot will allow you to get an idea about how hard the dirt will be to till, how the weeds reproduce in that area and what pests you will encounter. On the other hand, you could also give some consideration to container gardening, or raised beds, if you have the means to do so.

































When you start small, you’ll want to plant crops that are easy to grow and that you enjoy eating, so you won’t be tempted to give up on them if the going gets rough. A few vegetables that you’ll find easy to grow include:

  • Bush beans
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas

With time, and as your gardening expertise grows, you can add other crops that might take a bit more land, but that are rich in calories, tasty to eat and fun to raise. These can include:

  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Assorted Greens
  • Herbs

It’s a great idea to create diversity in your garden, as well as an array of flavors. If you can go out and pick a cabbage, and then also pick a few herbs to flavor the dish, you’ve created something special. This will give you a desire to continue planting more crops that can actually be used together.

Finding Foods That Pack a Punch

If you study survival gardening, you will find that sunflower seeds are a great way to get necessary fat into your vegetarian diet. Peanuts are also great for this. Make sure to search out crops like these that will meet all your nutritional needs but that are easy to grow in your own specific region.


Keep in mind, when your garden produce starts coming on, it’s as important to know what to do with them as it was to grow them in the first place. Storage can be an issue sometimes, especially for crops such as greens, cucumbers, etc. Keeping them throughout the winter months will be the trick. We have found that these vegetables are some of the easiest to store:

  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Turnips
  • Beets

Don’t forget that you will also be able to can a great many vegetables. Tomatoes are probably the easiest to can, due to their high acidity content, but you can also can beans, and many other veggies as well, all in a water bath canner that really takes no more than a fire to cook over for several hours and the jars and lids to hold them.

Specific Foods and Why They’re Good

Potatoes are actually pretty high in protein, as far as veggies go, which make them a wonderful addition to the garden. Any variety will work really, depending on your own preferences. They will store very well in a place that is dark and cool, but make sure you don’t store them next to apples, as they will both rot prematurely.

Winter squash is a great source of both calories and vitamins. Some store better than other do, and for longer periods of time. To find out which works best for long-term storage, you can either risk it and try a few different ones, or ask a seasoned survival gardener who has already done it. Another good way to store squash is to cut them into rounds, dry them completely, pound them up and store them in airtight containers. Storage time increases, in this way, to almost indefinitely.

In closing, we suggest that you save and store all seeds from your heirloom vegetables (hybrid variations don’t produce viable seeds). This ensures that if you are unable to get any more seeds, you will still be able to have them for another garden next year. Continued seed saving keeps this going, for years to come.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Prepper’s Guide To Nutrition

By Tony

Despite the fact that preppers love to talk about nearly any topic under the sun, nutrition and how it applies to preppers is often a neglected topic. Very few, if any, preppers can honestly explain why it is better to eat fats and proteins than it is to eat carbohydrates.

Even fewer preppers can explain the benefits of vitamins or where calories come from. This guide is written to fill that gap.

To start off with, let’s begin talking about a basic calorie.

Calories And Preppers
Without getting into too deep of an explanation, calories are the tool your body uses to produce energy. No more, no less. With calories, our bodies can run, jump, breathe, swim, fish, and anything else we want to do.

Without calories, we starve. Simple as that.

While popular culture often sends us the message that calories are of the devil, a calorie (and a lot of calories) are a prepper’s best friend.

What most people don’t realize is that all calories come from three sources: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You will never and can never get a calorie without one of these three things.

Let’s break them down separately.

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates (carbs) are four calories per gram. Most carbs reside in fruits, vegetables, grains, and sugars. Even though carbs are usually associated with all things evil in modern culture, carbs are necessary to survive and carry precious vitamins and minerals.

Even though they are necessary for survival, they are not ideal for a prepper’s perfect meal. Carbs carry less calories per gram than fats (discussed below) and are not as useful as proteins when it comes to rebuilding and strengthening muscles.

Carbs also have a fatal flaw when it comes to prepper meals: they burn quickly. This means that even though you may eat high calories while eating carbs (think donuts), your meal will not last as long as a meal that consists of mostly fat or proteins and you will find yourself feeling hungry more quickly.

Proteins: Proteins contain four calories per gram and are the food of choice for competition weightlifters and world class performers. Proteins are useful for rebuilding muscles bigger and stronger.

Proteins burn slowly in the stomach and after eating them, you’ll feel full for a long time. Most proteins are meats, nuts, or legumes. These make for excellent prepper meals.

After spending time outside doing whatever your current prepper projects are, your muscles will be fatigued and worn down. Proteins are the body’s way of rebuilding those muscles where they can do more work and last longer the next time you go out to work.

The best prepper meals are high protein.

Fats: Fats contain nine calories per gram and are our go to foods for prepper meals. Since fats contain a lot of calories per gram, you can eat less and survive longer than others (and it’s easier on your budget!).

This happens because fats have more calories per gram than other foods. In theory and in practice, you can eat half as much fatty food as you do carbohydrate food and survive more than twice as long on your fatty food.

This is also a boon to preppers because fats typically burn slowly, meaning that you will feel full for a longer period of time.

Fats are usually found in meats, oils, dairy products, eggs, and nuts. If you’ll notice, foods that have fat and foods that have proteins are very similar. These are the kinds of foods we want to eat as preppers.

Now that we understand what fuels the body, let’s take a look at the construction materials the body uses.

Vitamins & Minerals: Tools Of The Body
Before we get into vitamins and minerals, I would like to say this: if you find yourself in a survival situation, it is better that you focus on how many calories you are consuming than how many vitamins and minerals you are taking in.

All of humanity until the past 50 years has survived without spending any time wondering how their vitamin intake is. If a situation gets bad, worry about your caloric load and the vitamins will follow.

If you can think of calories like the fuel your body uses to run, vitamins and minerals are like a trusty hammer, drill, and other useful tools.
Vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients because your body doesn’t need a huge amount, but it does need some. Without necessary vitamins, you can develop blindness, scurvy, weak bones, or an assortment of other problems.

Interestingly enough, we are more likely today to have an overdose of a vitamin or mineral than we are to have a deficiency. Because of market competition and government intervention, most of the foods we consume today have plenty of all the necessary minerals.

If you take vitamin and mineral supplements, your body is capable of getting rid of most of the excess, but you may be doing an unnecessary deed or even harming yourself by taking supplements without being told to do so by a medical specialist.

What Makes A Balanced Diet?
As said above, most of the food we consume today has all the necessary tools for our body to survive and thrive.

But what if we don’t have the resources of today?

If disaster strikes, we would almost certainly lose access to supermarkets. So how do we balance our diets then?

If you find yourself without a supermarket, your number one goal should be calorie consumption. The average human burns 2000-3000 calories per day depending on how active they are. Your meals should have plenty of meat (which contains fat and proteins), but also eat as much fruit and vegetables as you are able to get your hands on. Fruit and veggies are high in carbs, but will almost certainly carry most if not all of the vitamins and minerals that you need.

If possible, eat as many nuts, beans, and home grown meals as possible. This should prevent any sort of deficiency in vitamins and minerals while making sure that you have enough calories to survive the day.

Even though nutrition can be a complex subject, when it all comes down to it, just remember to eat as much diverse food as you can while prepping or in the bush.

Hope you’ve enjoyed!

Monday, May 7, 2018

My Left Thumb, or How I Learned To Start Worrying And Love My Body

By Forest Puha
May 7, 2018

Note: the following article has graphic medical pictures. Viewer discretion advised.

A month and a half ago, I was cutting wood with a circular saw and then I cut open my thumb.

Yeah. I make that seem low-key, but it's actually more painful, time-consuming and life-altering than it sounds.

It was fun to drop everything, including my tools, and yell in pain. It was fun to run inside and watch my family try not to faint. It was fun to rush to the nearest clinic, freaking out the staff, getting injected with whatever painkillers they had and arguing about whether or not antibiotics are covered under insurance while I was mildly stoned. Fun times all around.

Partly as a record to remind myself of what NOT to do in an emergency, and partly as a teaching opportunity to everyone else, this article will go over what happened and how you can prevent the same thing from happening to you. I learned a lot, including that ignoring common sense will only result in bad things for myself and everyone around.

Here's what happened using re-created photographs of the incident.



The equipment I was using at the time. As follows: 3M-brand eye wear protection, 3M brand silicone earplugs, a Master Mechanic brand handheld electric circular saw, and cheap generic black elastic gloves with yellow leather finger protection.

Note that the gloves are neither full leather or employ knuckle protection. This is Mistake #1.



I was sawing wood for a project, using my wooden table as a cutting platform. Note that I failed to secure the wood to the table surface with a clamp. This is Mistake #2.

I operated the saw with one hand, while holding onto the piece of wood with another. This is Mistake #3. Never, never, NEVER hold a handheld power tool with only one hand, ESPECIALLY a saw.



When operating a power saw, sometimes the wood will shift while cutting. Because the saw blade can only move in one direction at a time (forwards) any subtle movement will gather more wood than the saw's engine can handle, which forces the blade to suddenly stop. The momentum generated by the blade will be transferred into the saw, and as a result, the saw kicked back on me while I was holding onto it. It's not a problem with two hands...



...but I was only holding onto the saw with my right hand, and holding onto the wood with my left hand. The kickback of a power saw is like the recoil of a full-size rifle or shotgun. I had no control and I paid the price. I felt the saw and it really hurt more than normal. I looked down, saw drips of blood and very gently pulled the glove away. It was a gashing, gaping wound. The saw had hit the spot of the glove that wasn't covered with leather or any protection, but simple black fabric. Which happened to be right on my Metacarpophalangeal, the middle thumb joint.

 


Photos taken two hours after stitches were removed.

I calmly rushed inside, while my family freaked out over my accident.

Mistake #4: I washed the wound with cold water. Don't do that. The wound has particles of dead skin, leather, plastic, fabric, oil, wood and heaven knows what else inside; it needs to be properly disinfected with sterile solution found at the neighborhood clinic. The clinic promptly informed me I was very lucky; my wound didn't completely expose the tendons in my knuckle, so I wouldn't have to be airlifted to the nearest emergency room for surgery. They could simply put in stitches where I was at.

Then they gave me a shot of something to numb the pain while they stitched up my hand. It took a couple of weeks to be able to grab things and use a computer's keyboard, and a month to where I could bend my fingers around and not be in constant pain.

I learned a great deal from this incident. Mostly, I learned that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer, and that even when I thought I had the required safety gear, I didn't have the RIGHT safety gear. I nearly paid for it with my thumb. It could have been my hand, or my life.

I'm in the market for a new pair of gloves. These Youngstown Utility Kevlar-lined gloves seem like a good start, roughly $30 on Amazon. Supposedly the entire glove is lined with Kevlar, even the fingers. I think they're cheaper than surgery and I'll have to review a pair.


From top to bottom: a carpentry wood clamp, a cast iron C-clamp, and a spring clamp. These are three kinds of clamps I have on hand, cheaply found in any hardware store, and I recommend everyone not only buy them for their tool box, but also USE them whenever you need to hold something down. I neglected to do so and paid the price for my stupidity.



Step 1: slide clamp over object and surface. Step 2: tighten until they don't move. Step 3: you're done. They're so much better than using your hands.
And the clamps allow me to use both hands when operating my power tools now. I have more control over the tool now! It's amazing!


It could have been so much worse.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Survival firearms

By: Sebastian Berry

In a departure from my normal survival medical instruction but keeping in line with my recent theme of firearms, this most current installment is a total opinion piece.

The debate has raged on since firearms have been around about calibers, stopping power (don't even get me started), ballistics, and design. I personally am not partial to any one caliber, brand, or style. Friends and neighbors ask me pretty regularly, what firearms should I have to be the best prepared?

My answers are more thought provoking than actual advice for a specific product or device or item. In no specific order I tell people the following things.
  • Have a firearm that you like.
    • You have to like what you have. Even if it's ugly. I own a .45 HiPoint brand pistol, yes that HiPoint. Find it on youtube, you will be thoroughly entertained.
  • Have a firearm that you will use.
    • I know people that own firearms and then never do anything with them. For whatever reason they get something and it never sees the light of day again. You have to use your tools and be familiar with it. When you really need it, you need to know how to use it.
  • Have a firearm you trust.
    • We all have favorites, of everything. A favorite drinking glass, a favorite shirt or pair of shoes, and even a favorite tool. You have to have a firearm that is your go-to. One that you know is a no-fail and will hit your target. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Usually after that question and series of answers and explanations, I get the question repeated. What firearms should I have to be the best prepared? Again, my answers are more thought provoking than pointing to actual products.
  • You need a rifle or shotgun to hunt with.
    • When the time comes, and it will, you need a firearm that can put food on the table. Whether that is a .22 for taking small to small/medium game like squirrels, rabbits, and birds or a 12 gauge with shot or slugs for small to large game from turkeys to deer.
  • You need a rifle or shotgun for family defense.
    • The weapon you hunt with may not be mutually exclusive from the on you use for family defense.
    • I probably would recommend you have two separate weapons for hunting and for family defense.
  • You need a pistol for personal defense.
    • A .22 will kill you dead just a much as a .45. I am a non-believer in stopping power. Can you place shots on target? If you can place more shots on target with a .22 than anything else, then that is what you should use.
Be mindful, in the family survival scenario, firearms and ammunition may be in very short supply. Some of the more designer ammunition may be in even shorter supply. Your firearms and ammunition should be common and widespread. 

Below is the list of top selling ammunition from Federal for 2014:

1. .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO
2. .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO
3. .30-’06 Springfield
4. .30-30 Winchester
5. .270 Winchester
6. .243 Winchester
7. .300 Winchester Magnum
8. 7mm Remington Magnum
9. 7.62x39
10. .300 Winchester Short Magnum
11. .22-250 Remington

I would be remiss if I did not point out that all of these are traditional hunting calibers. There will always be a place for .22LR and 00 buck. 

Keeping arms and ammunition in common calibers and in sufficient quantity will help you keep your family fed and safe when the time comes.

I am always open for comments. Have something to add, let us know!


Friday, March 16, 2018

Spring Foraging Survival Skills


When you think about sprint time, you may think of things like new wildlife being born or an abundance of new plant life popping up everything. Spring seems to be the highlight of abundance and new life, across the board. However, even though you might not imagine it, it’s just as easy to starve in the spring if you are completely dependant on wild food. In fact, spring is one of the leanest times of year.

In some areas, spring is known as “the starving season”, and for this very reason, the fall stockpile was laid up not only for the winter, but for the spring as well. There may be a great deal of plant life to eat at this time, but there aren’t many calories in what you might find. So if springtime survival becomes key for you, here are some important resources to keep in mind.

Dandelion

You can eat dandelion roots both raw and cooked, but they are incredibly bitter in the raw stage. This often discourages anyone from eating them. They are touch and are usually best used in stir frying, stewing or sliced and turned into snack chips. They are high in iron, boron, potassium, silicon, calcium and vitamin C.

Ounce for ounce, dandelion roots have even more beta carotene than carrots do. If you happen to have a craving for coffee, you can even chop and roast these roots into an alternative. There is no caffeine, but there is a bit of a coffee flavor. True coffee connoisseurs disagree on that flavor. Simply roast the roots beside your fire or in an oven, if you have one, until they become dark and brittle. They can be stored for future use, or you can use it immediately, soaking a teaspoon of the root in scalding hot water for about fifteen minutes. You can then strain it and sweeten it to your taste.



Thistle

Across the Northern Hemisphere of the United States and North America, you will find lots of different thistle species. There are none in the United States that are toxic to humans, but you will find some that taste far more bitter than others. Harvesting them is easy, as you’ll only need to use a shovel or some similar device to pull the roots up, then cut off the tops, which are spiny. The remaining portion of the root can then be washed, chopped up and eaten immediately, if you wish. Or, just like any other root vegetable, they can be fried, stewed or even simmered, and then eaten.

Wild Onion

There are about a dozen wild onion species in North America, some of which even grow well in the winter. They prefer sunny conditions, right out in the open, so you’re more likely to find them in meadows or fields, or maybe even in your very own yard. Some seem more like garlic, both in flavor and looks, while others more closely resemble and taste like chives.

However tasty these plants are to the general population, make sure you don’t just forage and eat everything that seems to be shaped like an onion. The fact is, they still belong to the lily family, and it’s one that does contain some toxic plants. First, make sure you’re really dealing with the onion class of the family by looking for the bulbous roots and round stem. Once you’ve verified the looks, then you can do the scratch and sniff test. Just bruise the bulb or top portion of the plant. If it’s the edible variety, you will immediately smell that familiar onion/garlic smell. You will be able to use these in the same way your would use onions bought from a store, cooked or raw.

Reasons To Consider Foraging

Even if you aren’t in a survival situation, spring foraging can be incredibly beneficial. There are as many economic benefits as there are survival benefits, and well worth knowing about. Consider these factors:

  • Foraged food is free food, and makes an excellent alternative to organic produce that is often overly priced.
  • Foraging is possible almost all year long, if you know what to look for and how to harvest it.
  • Foraging can add to the wealth you harvest from a garden, or replace it all together.
  • Foraging is a great way to get outside and get moving, so it’s beneficial as a means of exercise.
  • Foraging familiarizes you with the immediate surroundings of your location.
  • Food found through foraging is naturally higher in nutrients than foods you find in commercial settings, there is no genetic alterations of any kind, and the soil in which it is grown hasn’t been depleted by years of industrial farming.

Important Foraging Rules

The best way to learn to forage is to do so under the training of someone who is experienced in foraging. If you cannot find one, or a group in your local area, the next best advice is to get yourself a really good-quality edible plant guide book. Once you begin your foraging journey, be sure to adhere to these basic foraging rules:

  • Don’t pick anything you don’t readily recognize and most certainly do not eat it.
  • Take your guidebook with you – preferably a very good one.
  • Never pick a plant that looks as if it has a disease of any kind.
  • Wash everything well before eating it.
  • Keep an eye out for bugs, snakes and other dangerous creatures that often use plants as hideouts.
  • Wear gloves and other protective clothing in case you come in contact with poison ivy or other such plants.
  • Stay in areas you are familiar with, so that you don’t accidentally get lost.
  • Do not forage on private property unless you first get permission from the known landowner.
  • Do not forage in national forests or public parks unless you are sure it’s permissible to do so. Some foraging is banned in areas such as these.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Unfortunate but necessary...

By: Sebastian Berry

Friends, I write this after our blog has been on hiatus for a while. Unfortunate events caused us all to be out of commission for a while as we regrouped and reset. I sincerely hope that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

It is my personal goal in writing to be able to better prepare people for emergency situations. My forte is medical however I have military and some outdoors experience that help guide me. In light of the recent cultural and political climate this post will probably be divisive but I will put it out there anyway.

AMENDMENT II

A WELL REGULATED MILITIA, BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE, THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED1.

The above is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It has been hotly debated for as long as I can remember. Tax stamps, papers, ATF, BATFE, assault weapons, magazine capacity, bullet buttons, etc. 

I personally like firearms. I have use for them, like other tools that I own. Like any of my tools that I own, they need someone to use them. I would love if the vacuum ran itself or the snowblower for that matter. I do not believe that the issue with guns lies in the gun itself. Guns do what we want them to do.

I own an AR-15 style rifle. Never once has it gone out and shot another person, albeit I have killed many paper targets and melons with it. I believe the AR style rifle is being targeted because it is what is popular. I have asked the question several times to people on both sides of the issue, why the AR? Answers vary from it looks scary to no one should be able to own that kind of rifle to it shall not be infringed.

Which leads me to my main point. The second amendment was written in a time and by people who were very distrustful of government. The founders (of our country) believed that government should be limited and that is why they came up with the constitution, and then the amendment process.

In my opinion the second amendment might have been transcribed in error. I believe there was supposed to be a period after the words free state. I personally think the framers (of the constitution) had two separate thoughts. I believe the amendment should read as follows...

AMENDEMENT II 

A WELL REGULATED MILITIA, BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE. THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

The reason that I think this is simple. The people were and still are the militia. This is not the National Guard or Reserves. The militia are lay-people as opposed to professional soldiers. Think about it, people who served in the militia brought their own arms and ammunition. If our country called for a militia again, who would serve? Those who are already armed. The same principle of olden time applies to our time.

A friend of mine made a statement thus, "It seems like there is nothing that can be done constitutionally to stop people from shooting up children, given that law enforcement will fail again."
His position was to eradicate the AR-15 style rifle, in all its variants. I asked him how it could be done and he answered with confiscation. But how? I asked. He took maybe a half second and said that the AR would have to be illegal. But what about the second amendment? I asked. I would have to be done away with. How? I asked. He couldn't answer!

ARTICLE V

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate2.

Folks, there is a way to change our constitution. It is by amendment. It has been done 27 other times and can be done more if needs be. Allow me to be very clear, I am not suggesting elimination of the second amendment. I am also not suggesting the outlaw and confiscation of firearms. I believe the founders saw a time where the people (all of us) would be called upon to defend our country. In order for the people to be able to do that we must be able to be armed.

I heard a statement on the radio from the Cato Institute about the constitution last week, it went about like this- The constitution set up a government, no one ever said that it set up an efficient government.

Let's hear from you in the coments. Do you own an AR style rifle? Support gun control or bans? Tell us!





1-2. https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/United_States_of_America_1992

Friday, February 16, 2018

6 Essential Things For Your Survival Backpack



Education Articles | March 28, 2012
Premium Author Justin Mountford

It sounds a bit dramatic but a survival backpack could mean the difference between life and death. In this article I share my 6 essential survival backpack ideas covering everything from food and shelter right through to essential first aid things.

Life and death-It sounds a bit dramatic, but a survival backpack could mean the difference between life and death. In a critical situation where you have to flee your house, workplace or local area, a backpack filled with survival gear transforms from being a "nice to have" and becomes your life in a bag. Imagine running for your life with your family only to discover you have no food, no water and no shelter. Not a good situation. Now imagine you have some basics, it could just be enough to get you through until help arrives.

Forget Armageddon-Armageddon is not really the reason I prepare. I like to be prepared for things like massive bush fires (really common where I live), floods, and man made disasters. I live in a quiet part of the world and it's easy to think "It won't                                                      happen to me"…..

6 Essential Ideas-I'm a survival enthusiast and love researching survival related ideas, theories tips and tricks. After extensive research, my own experimentation and years of camping I've created my own "essential survival backpack" checklist.


Checkout my 6 essential survival backpack ideas:

Water-To put it bluntly we need water to survive even for 1 day. For this reason, water is top priority. If you don't want to carry water you need ways to purify it, or boil it.Ideas:-Way to boil water e.g. portable stove -Purification System-Mechanical Filtration System like a Pocket Water Microfilter

Clothing-While you can certainly live with the clothes on your back, it's morale boosting to put on a fresh pair of socks while you clean the others. Pack a spare set of everything, you'll really appreciate this when the time comes. Ideas:-Waterproof coat with hood-Spare socks-Long sleeve shirt with quick dry- Quick dry pants

Shelter-Shelter is part of our basic human needs. Shelter can often be made from rubble, forest or natural features however, you can make things easier on yourself if you have a basic tent at the ready.Ideas:-Basic lightweight tent-Sleeping System-Mummy sleeping bag-Sleeping pad

Food-Not as important as water, however the morale effects of a little snack cannot be underestimated. It's easy to throw in a few MREs and some energy bars. Go for food that doesn't require much water to prepare.Ideas:-Energy bars- MRE- Freeze dried foods

Essentials-Many experts agree that the ability to make fire is extremely important. With fire you can cook, boil water and signal help. For this reason I suggest you pack a sparking device in your survival backpack. While multi tools (the plier type) a pocket chain saw and a flashlight (the wind up type) may not be considered critically essential, it will definitely help you in your survival attempts.

First Aid-Kit Nothing can assist a genuine survival situation more than a fully trained medicComputer Technology Articles, however since most of us don't get around with one of these we have to make do with a first aid kit. Ideas:- Bandaids- Insect repellent- Cloth Tape- Bandage- Large Safety Pins- Large Gauze Pads A survival backpack could make the difference between life and death. Keep one in your car and at home and be ready no matter what life throws at you.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Chimney Trap System 1

By:Stephen M. Vantassel
Ph.D., MNI, CNI, CWCP, ACP
Bio


     It was a beautiful Saturday Summer day in Western Massachusetts. I had lined up three chimney raccoon jobs and thankfully I was able to get my wife to come along and help. I am not very good on roofs and chimneys, let alone handling so many fireplaces in one day. Some of my colleagues talk about handling these jobs in an hour, I can only wish to be that fast. My chimney raccoon removal method at the time was Rich Daniotti’s Chimney Trap System 1. This is the trap system without the chimney brushes. You are supposed to set the trap and come back the next day. I never felt confident enough with that method, so I would just drive the female up the chimney and catch her the same day.


Chimney Trap System 1 hanging by bungee cords. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

     The first two jobs went okay despite being rather long. The sun was shinning and the temperature was beginning to rise. I felt good about the money I was making but I was beginning to feel rather tired. The last job of the day was two floor house in a nearby town. We didn’t start there till after 3:00 pm. Already the sweat was pouring out of my body and it was not at all comfortable. After greeting the client and checking out the fireplace, I accessed the roof and installed the chimney trap. The roof was a little more pitched than I like and the tiles were beginning to get soft. I knew I had to move quickly in order to finish the job today. With the trap installed, I began to harass the mother to get her to climb the chimney and enter the trap. She was a little stubborn at first but in a couple of minutes, I heard the pleasant sound of the metal trap door closing. I thought it was a bit strange that it sounded so loud. I am partially deaf in my left ear, but I figured the acoustics were right. Feeling kind a proud of myself, I exit the building looking for the chimney to see my trapped raccoon. I was a bit surprised that I didn’t see the trap. I guessed that the roof line was blocking my view, so I stepped further away from the house to get a clearer ground view of the chimney. My stomach sank when I saw the top of the chimney with no raccoon and worst of all no trap. I felt even worse knowing that the chimney was surrounded by building so if my trap fell it would not fall harmlessly to the ground. I started getting worried about the cost of potential damages. By the way, did I mention that the client was a lawyer?

     I swung around the building looking for my trap. I passed a corner, looked up and there was my trap and trapped raccoon hanging by the bungee cords against the chimney. On the roof below, urine and feces were sprayed. It seems that the trap wasn’t stabilized enough or she flew out of the chimney so fast that the trap lifted up dislodging it from the chimney. Feeling that she was falling, she literally messed herself she was so scared. Thankfully, the bungee cords stopped the trap from falling on the asphalt shingled roof below. The house wasn’t damaged by the impact either because the trap only hit the side of the brick chimney. Thank God, I had truly dodged a bullet on this one. The client didn’t even notice my mistake. He was just glad that the job was getting done.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.