Friday, December 22, 2017

Some End Of Year Thoughts

By Forest Puha

It’s been a long, eventful, tragic, harrowing, and beautiful year for many people across the world. Natural and man-made disasters have touched every country; whether environmental, financial, military or any other way, the chaos is real. The climate is changing, the days are warmer and the weather is crazier than we’re used to. People are losing their homes and living on the streets or as nomads in record rates. Animals of all kinds are becoming endangered and extinct. Prices keep going up. Outside relief is unlikely to happen quick enough or largely enough for people to feel calm again.

My family and I celebrate the vaguely Christian version of Christmas every year. If you haven’t heard the story behind the holiday then here’s a very abbreviated, non-religious summary:

A long time ago, a man and a very pregnant woman were traveling from town to town, and nobody had any spare room for them to sleep in. They were dirt poor and desperate, and the owner of a local inn grudgingly told them to sleep out in the barn because it was free. She gave birth in the barn to a son. The son would grow up to be an influential man, and so the holiday is nominally named for him.

In part because the son grew up in such horrible conditions, the son would later preach and practice tolerance and giving help to poor people, however you could, wherever you were. The son would tell you that they were not the enemy, they were not the boogieman, but they were your friends and neighbors, your brothers and sisters. To help them, honestly, is to help yourself. It makes you feel better, it makes you holy.

This year has been a long one for many people. The stress builds up until people can’t handle it anymore and they freak out. I’ve found that the best way to fight that, to remove the stress and clear your mind and get a handle on everything, is to help others. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or an expensive one if you can’t afford it. Simply offering a kind word to strangers on the internet, or knowing your friends’ troubles and helping them with a couple of them, or buy them an extra thing they can’t afford, or just hug them. If your friends and family and loved ones don’t have any place to stay, offer them your living room couch or floor. Forget the ego, your ego telling you that what you have to give isn’t very much at all and looks pitiful and isn’t worthy. Yes, it is. An influential man was born in the hay and the dirt of a barn in the backyard of an inn, and it was more than good enough for him. It made him into a better person.

Even when it’s not Christmas, say in January or March or July, give comfort and aid and solace. Inner calm is something that when provided for other people, ends up paying off dividends to you. We all need this example more than ever to face the future together.

Hau'oli Lanui, aloha kakou.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter Survival Foraging

Foraging for food to survive on in the winter is certainly possible, and we are going to look at a few of the foods you can forage for in just a moment. However, it is a little tougher to forage in the winter than it is in the warmer months.

To start with, the colder temperatures can cause more problems. It has an effect on what you are trying to gather and it also has an effect on you. Additionally, if the ground freezes, it can be harder to forage for tubers and roots. Snow cover can make it hard to find exactly what you are looking for, so you will have to know which clues to look for.

Make sure you dress very warmly, of course, when you go out to forage. Make sure to take into consideration how much physical energy you will be exerting. If sweating is likely to happen, make sure you wear clothes that will wick away that perspiration and wear layers.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the foods you can forage for in the winter.

If you are not completely certain about the identification of the wild edibles you are foraging, DO NOT EAT THEM. You can easily pick up a field guide for identification purposes, or take the time to learn from someone who already knows what to look for. Do not take chances, as some wild plants are extremely poisonous.

Wild Fruit

Fruits such as crab apples and plums can be seen hanging right from their trees. You can turn these into jelly or juice or simply boil and eat them.


In creeks and springs, watercress will be easily found as a large green bloom. They are easy enough to harvest in large quantities and can be eaten raw as part of a salad.

Wild Greens

Many greens will be easy to find such as chickweed, wild garlic and onions, and dandelion crowns and roots. These can be used in salads raw or steams or fried with a little oil. The garlic and onion can be used to season many dishes as well.

Mushrooms often appear after a bit of a thaw and you can find them on deadfalls that have begun to rot. Take extreme caution in eating wild-found mushrooms, as even in the winter, some are very toxic.

Mussels (Fresh Water)

You can find mussels growing in beds in fresh water, so if you find one, there will definitely be more. You can gather them by scraping them out of the mud with a hand rake or other similar tool. Scrub them carefully and then boil them until their shells open up. Once they do, continue boiling for a bit more. If you think the water you found them in might be contaminated, do not eat them.

Rose Hips

Containing more vitamin C than just about anything you can find in the wild, rose hips are bright red and are usually about ¼ to ½ inch in diameter. These can easily be made into jelly or used to make a nice tea.

Various Tree Nuts

Winter is a great time to find nuts such as horse chestnuts, black walnuts and acorns. They can be found beneath their trees on the ground. Once found, they should be soaked for three days or more, with no less than three changes of water. This takes away tannins. After this, you can roast, boil or dry them or even grind them up for flour to make breads.


The roots of the cattail are an excellent source of starch. Wash and peel them and they can be cooked or prepared in much the same way as potatoes. They even taste like potatoes. You can also dry them and turn them into flour.

Pine Trees
Pine needles are not only chock full of vitamin C and A, but they have medicinal properties as well, such as curing a headache. Make sure, however, that you are not harvesting needles from evergreen trees, as they are poisonous. Pine needles come in clumps of three to five needles and can be up to 1 ½ feet long. They can be used to make tea, which is the way they are normally used. The inside bark can also be used, as can pine tree roots. Before you eat them, peel them. These can be steeped or boiled as well, and contain a lot of sugar.

These are incredibly rich in iron and protein and grow under the snow in the latter part of January. You will want to wear gloves when you harvest them and then cook them and you’ll find out just how wonderful this weed really is.

Frozen Cranberries

These are a wonderful addition to other foods while being just as enjoyable when eaten fresh. They can be found above ice and are easy to harvest. Once harvested, you can make pies, jams, jellies or juice in addition to eating them as a healthy treat. Not only do they have high vitamin content, they are also used medicinally.


Also known as wild rhubarb, it tastes like a mixture of parsnips and carrots. The roots become hard in the wintertime, so you will want to boil them so they will be tender and edible.

In Conclusion
You will be able to forage different food items depending on where you live. If you live near the ocean, a great many creatures can be found while the tide is out. You can also hunt and trap many different wild animals as well as fish from ponds, lakes and streams.

Some of the items we mentioned are good for making tea. While this doesn’t give you a lot of extra calories, it does help to keep you warm inside. This can help, as it will keep you from burning extra calories as your body tries to stay warm in the colder temperatures.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Important Winter Survival Tips

We would all like to hope that an emergency or survival situation would only hit us when the weather is tolerable. In fact, when planning our bug out bags and gear, we aren’t usually thinking about harsh winter weather. The fact is, however, that an emergency can happen at any time and it is always best to be prepared for anything.

Winter Emergencies

A storm can knock our power out at any time, during any season. It most often happens in the spring, when windstorms are often the case. However, winter storms can do the same thing. The problems are intensified however, as there are more problems.

With any power outage, we have to be careful about food we have in freezers and having a method to cook without electricity. In the winter months, however, we have all that plus the problem of staying warm. Additionally, spring storms usually only leave us without power for a matter of hours. In the winter, snow and ice can leave us without power for days or weeks, making the situation even more dire.

Some Important Winter Emergency Tips

Here are some tips that we hope will help you, should you find yourself in an emergency situation during harsh winter temperatures. While we cannot list all the things that could possibly happen, we hope this list is at least a good start for you.

To start with, make sure you wear warm clothes. While this might sound like a no-brainer, it can often be so simple that it is often left off until it’s too late. Wearing the right clothes is even more important if you will have to be doing any traveling or work outside in the cold weather.

If you have to venture out, make sure your attire is thick and windproof, above all else. Packing extra if you have very far to go is another good idea, as you never know when or if you might become stuck or stranded. While the body is capable of withstanding some extreme circumstances, you certainly don’t want to underestimate winter’s harsh reality.

Next, you will want to make sure to wear the right kind of boots. Tennis shoes or other types of footwear might work for a short time, but if you have to be outside for such things as clearing away snow from doors and windows or splitting and carrying firewood, you will be miserable much quicker with the wrong shoes. Boots should be insulated well and rated for cold weather.

Staying dry is one of the most important things to remember if you have to be out in the weather. You can become damp or even wet if you have to do any strenuous activity that makes you sweat, or if you have to deal with melting snow and ice. In either situation, this dampness can quickly lead to hypothermia, which is a deadly situation in which to find yourself. If you find that you have become sweaty or wet, make sure to change your clothes as soon as possible. Otherwise, wrap yourself in a blanket and stay out of the direct wind as much as you can.

When Your Body Uses More Energy

In order to deal with the stress of colder temperatures, your body will use a lot more energy in order to produce heat from the inside out. Because of this, you will need to make sure that you have plenty of food to keep yourself nourished, as well as ample amounts of good, clean drinking water for proper hydration. Eating can also hasten the warming process as your body goes about the business of digestion.

In situations where you run out of water, never eat ice or unmelted snow. Doing so will only cause your internal body temperature to fall that much quicker. If you must resort to eating snow or ice, make sure to heat it, preferably to boiling to make sure it’s safe, before ingesting it.

Be Aware of Your Heart Rate

When you get cold, you may want to just sit down and stay as still as possible, but that is one of the worst things you could do. As your body temperature drops, your heart rate does as well. This is dangerous because the slower the blood flows through your veins, the slower heat is passed through the body.

A good way to deal with this situation is to do take part in some simple exercises that will get your heart pumping faster. For instance, jogging in place, swinging your arms or doing jumping jacks should get your heart pumping again. Just make sure not to exercise so hard that you start sweating because remember – you want to stay dry.

Do not Panic!

Above all, do not waste the time and energy in a state of panic. During all emergencies, a level head is one of the most precious possessions to have, and never more so than when the weather is treacherously cold. Instead of stressing, adapt to your environment. As a prepper, you should at least be somewhat aware of the precautions needed in a cold weather situation.

If you have not yet thought to learn about cold weather emergencies or survival skills, it’s never too late to start learning! Read books, blogs, guides or anything else you can get your hands on to learn as many tactics as possible to deal with an emergency in harsh winters.

You might want to learn different ways to start a fire, and different techniques on which fires work best for particular situations. An example would be, knowing the difference between starting a fire for the most heat as quickly as possible and starting a fire that will burn longer at a steady cooking temperature.

It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with first aid techniques that are needed for weather related illnesses such as frostbite or hypothermia. Not knowing how to treat these very common problems can be disastrous when they are really needed!