HomePosts Tagged "homesteading"

This is the second article looking at ways we can cut our dependence on commercial feeds for our livestock. The first article primarily dealt with historic feeds and ways of storing them and some of the feeds that are rarely seen in small-scale production in the U.S. As stated in the first article, our modern livestock – even a lot of the dual-purpose homesteading breeds – are accustomed to certain types of feeds, heavy on mass-production mono-culture grains and hay. Those feeds tend to produce the fastest results and be cheap and easy to access.

However, they do contribute to the financial cost of keeping livestock and they require certain cultivation methods that may not be available to everyone. Substituting fertilizers and water-hungry crops for tubers and less-common grains may be part of the solution to making our livestock resilient to a small personal crisis or a major regional disaster. It can help us weather some of the ups and downs in pricing, as with droughts that send livestock feed and grocery bills skyrocketing.

There are some other ways we can increase our self-sufficiency and resiliency, though, even if it drops our livestock’s production to historic levels and takes a little longer to finish our meat stock. There is no one way to do anything, and no solution is going to work for everyone. However, having some backup ideas and methods in place as alternate feeds is rarely a bad thing, especially if we’re counting on meat rabbits and chickens, eggs, and milk in a collapse or Great Depression situation.

 

Rule of Thumb – Rabbits to Goats, Chickens, & Pigs

There are a couple of rules of thumb that can apply to our livestock and what we provide as a base feed or supplement. The first is that if hares can eat it, so can goats. Happily, chickens and pigs will eat almost anything – especially if they see other livestock going after it. Most feeds safe for rabbits will apply to them, too.

The Rabbit Food Pyramid

The Rabbit Food Pyramid

The rabbit point comes in because of all the lists available out there for pet or show rabbits. Some of the feeds for rabbits come right out of our kitchen gardens. Some of the feeds in those lists lack the roughage both hares and goats need to keep their guts processing. Others offer some excellent ways to increase the feed availability for livestock using something that already exists.

One example is trees and tree hays. Rabbits and goats can happily consume a wide number of trees, some of which may already be on our property and in need of pruning, such as willow, apple, maple, elm and mulberry.

Tree hays are little different from using a fodder like locust and calliandra that’s fed green. We can treat a surprising number of trees just like we do grasses and dry limbs at peak nutrition to pull out for hay or add to our silage. Like grasses, tree leaves are at their highest nutrient content before they flower and start directing energy toward fruits.

That allows us to selectively harvest small green boughs that would be pruned in another season normally, selecting for branches with lower impact on our future fruit harvest. And since the flowers themselves are sugary powerhouses and pollen is an excellent protein source, collecting limbs that bear those is only a bonus.

rabbits eating tree leaf and branch

Rabbits, tree branches and leaves

 

The richest tree fodders can only be used in limited number to modern rabbits, because they have sensitive digestions. Once it’s hay, instead of a leaf or three for a large meat rabbit, up to 20-40% of their grass hay can be replaced by tree hay. The larger branches themselves can go to rabbits, goats and chickens, too, even a couple of inches across should you prune something that large. They’ll strip the bark in some seasons, and rabbits will use chunks to help keep their ever-growing rodent teeth under control.

Soaking tree hays can help increase the interest and palatability for finicky livestock. Individual leaves can be soaked, or branches can be righted and stuck in a bucket of water for 24-48 hours to soak up liquids. Chickens won’t eat quite as many of the tree hays, even soaked, and pigs regularly need them soaked and sometimes mixed in with something like turnips and grasses. However, both are a little more willing to eat silage.

Don’t use the whole branches for silage, just the leaves and the tenderest tips that cattle in bare lots are willing to nibble.

Tree Fodder & Fruits

Cattle - lucerne tree fodder

Cattle consuming tree lucerne

 

There are actual trees like the black locust and smaller options like pea shrub that are being studied and cultivated as livestock feed replacements, especially in places like Africa with limited irrigation and poor soils. There are mixed feelings about keeping livestock on tree fodders, there are mixed research results, and studies tend to focus on one aspect of feed or another – it’s hard to get a comprehensive paper on DM, protein, digestibility and palatability all at once. Still, if livestock is part of the plan, it might not hurt to look into some of them. A lot of U.S. climates can mimic climates found somewhere in Africa – where a lot of the research starts and focuses still.

Fodder and forage trees and shrubs can be managed for human harvest and transport, or planted along outsides of fences or inside curbing poles and fences that limit livestock’s reach. Quickly rotated pastures can also allow the trees and shrubs to mature and grow back.

Native trees and shrubs that can be used for grass and hay replacement for rabbits and goats include American sycamore, blackberry, dewberry, raspberry, roses, hackberry, gooseberry, alder and mesquite. Livestock can eat currants, but currants and some of the other soft berry shrubs tend to not respond as well to “pruning” as brambles and gooseberry.

Other options for livestock include planting trees that drop seed or nuts, either for human harvest and fodder, or for livestock to forage on its own. Elm samaras can be collected green or brown to use as a fatty nut or seed supplement as well. Acorns are another example. There are a wealth of oaks out there that produce at different times, produce in ebb-and-flow cycles, develop acorns for two years instead of one, and produce different sized acorns. Most nuts are too valuable for livestock, but somebody with thriving hazelnut/filbert thickets might run in goats and then pigs or chickens.

 

Goat climbing and eating black locust

Goat climbing and eating black locust

There are the conventional fruits such as apples and pears. For me, the focus on fruit trees for livestock is largely on storable fruits that can go from tree to cellar. Most tree fruit is going to be too rich for domestic rabbits and a lot of cattle and horses, but pigs and chickens seem just fine with even large portions of meals made up of pears.

“Weedy” fruits like wild plum and mayhaw need absolutely no help from me to grow, but will produce some goat forage and fruits for pigs and chickens. Shrubs like chokeberry and chokecherry can be used alongside chicken tunnels and moats and runs, with the birds helping themselves to berries that protrude or drop within reach, and humans harvesting the berries they can’t reach – berries which don’t look like “normal” human or livestock foods and that dry well for later feed.

Rule of Thumb – What we eat, they eat

A lot of livestock feeds are already made from things that humans can consume – corn, soy, wheat, sunflower, millet. In the first livestock feed article, we pointed out things like tubers that store well. We can also take a look at local foraging options, and encourage what are basically weeds to use as feed. I wouldn’t try to forage for a goat’s entire diet, although there are things I can plant (and protect) that they can forage for themselves.

Sheep eating Kudzu

Sheep eating Kudzu

Cattail in the four or five human-edible stages is happily and healthily consumed by everything but cattle and horses. Reed grasses (avoid European phrag like the plague) provide a storable seed. Chickens and hogs will dig chufa. Don’t plant the stuff for heaven’s sake, but if kudzu is nearby, it makes a nice flower jelly and its leaves are readily palatable to even cattle.

Wood sorrel, henbit, low clovers, plantain, purslane, and dandelions are so routinely cursed by gardeners and lawn-growers, but they provide an enormously beneficial mix of protein- and micro-nutrient heavy foods, with the benefit of being enormously palatable as well as cold hearty. That means we can stick them under some plastic or grow them in tiers of soda bottles in our windows in winter, and be providing fresh foods to our livestock, even in just dribbles. That keeps our livestock healthier and more ready to transition back to pasture grazing.

Wood sorrel, henbit and chickweed are also tall enough and “heat”-tolerant enough that we can use them in grazing frames inside chicken runs, letting the birds munch them down as far as they can reach but having them grow back faster because the birds can’t get all the way down to the roots. They’ll hold up to grazing and manure better than just wheat or barley grasses.

Chicken grazing frame

Chicken grazing frame

Cheno-family lamb’s quarters, mallow, amaranthus pigweeds, shepherd’s purse, most of the sonchus thistles, any strawberry plants to include the invasive “weed” variant with little or no flavor, and wingstem or Iron weed can all be consumed by rabbits, goats and chickens. Most can also have leaves and stems dried to provide roughage or healthy supplements throughout winter and early spring.

Check out what Sam Thayer says about your area and your local foraging guide. Nettles have to be treated for livestock the same way they are for us, and some wild edibles are too time consuming, but there are others that can increase our feed (and pantry) potentials without a great deal of work because the weeds grow like … well, weeds.

Alternative feeds for your livestock

Using a mix of intentional forage and fodder trees, increasing the use of fruit trees and shrubs to harvest green grass and dry hay replacements or increase silage content, and looking at the wild edibles in our areas as a way to increase livestock feeds can make a difference in both resiliency and livestock costs, especially if we’re running small flocks and herds.

You need to slowly transition livestock to new feeds, especially if they’re accustomed to 1-2 base feeds, but livestock is just like humanity – we all do best with a variety of foods. Livestock is especially dependent on gut microflora to help them break down foods. I’m sure you’ve heard the “starving with a full belly” nugget. Before commercial feed and penned livestock was so prevalent, there was also “spring sickness” or “green dribbles” that came in part from livestock being able to access pasture again after winter, eating their heads off, and ending up with upset stomachs. Slowly transitioning livestock and keeping them on a variety of feeds can help limit those conditions because their guts stay primed to consume them.

Some other nuggets to research, especially for game birds like ducks and young poultry that need higher proteins, include black soldier fly farms, algae and duckweed aquariums, and worm bins or troughs. Fast-breeding minnows will change the flavor of eggs and meat, but can be kept in pretty small tanks with low energy needs. There’s also barely-sprouted grains (the ones that barely have any “tail” showing when they’re offered). I’m not a major fan of sprouted fodder systems (the kind that grow root mats and green shoots in trays) as a primary livestock feed for anything more than a couple of chickens or rabbits, but then, I’d also rather grow and re-grow rotating flats of mixed weeds and wheat grass for them in winter because it’s a lot less costly and labor intensive. Just remember that while some livestock like chickens and rabbits can be vegans and have lower protein needs, the game birds like ducks are not really grazers – they need seeds and-or live foods and the higher calories and proteins those offer.

There are a world of livestock feed options that don’t begin with slicing an alfalfa bale or cutting open a bag of pellets. Even if we choose to stay with grains and conventionally farmed feeds, having the alternative foraging and fodder options gives us a fallback and gives us something to shoulder as we walk around, giving our livestock extra nutrients and variety that can help keep them healthier.

This is the second article looking at ways we can cut our dependence on commercial feeds for our livestock. The first article primarily dealt with historic feeds and ways of storing

There’s more to zip than meets the tie. No? Let me try another one on you. Tie me a river? Zipper me timbers? I give up. Anyway, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, today’s top is zip ties – very common and handy household item, especially when things get way too intense in the bedroom.

Joke aside, I believe that everyone should have at least one bag of heavy-duty zip ties around the house since they’re very useful for all manner of odd jobs – I personally use them to prevent my PC cables from getting tangled. Sometimes I even use them to organize my paracords.  Now, as you’ve guessed it, zip ties can be a great help in a shit hits the fan situation. So, without further ado, here are 25 survival uses for them zippy ties.

Splinting and securing bandages

Not every SHTF ends with you being rescued the minute you hit the “dial” button on your phone. Sometimes, you will need to fend for yourself before the cavalry comes to pick you up. Scrapes, bruises, wounds, and fractures are possible, especially when you’re forced to cross a hostile terrain.

Normally, you would use cordage (string, rope, shoelaces or dental floss) in case you need to splint a limb, toe or finger. If you don’t have anything else on hand, use one or two zip ties to secure the splint. Don’t forget to snip off the excess. The same method can be employed to ensure that the bandages stay where they’re supposed to stay and that would be the wound.

In a major medical emergency (e.g., profuse bleeding, protruding wounds), a heavy-duty zip tie can double up like a tourniquet. Only use this as a last resort or if you don’t have anything else on hand to control the bleeding like plastic tubing, surgical glove, condom or cordage. Indeed, a zip tie can be used to “clamp off” a bleeder but, in the long run, it ends up doing more damage than the wound itself.

Repair damaged gear

Missing stuff from your bug out bag like a sewing kit for instance? No problem as long as you have a bag of zip ties. They can be successfully employed to mend any kind of gear – parka with a missing button, zipper with no tab, holes in the backpack or heavy rain poncho; snip off the ends and you’re good to go.

Keeping B.O.B items within reach

Many survival items come with lanyard holes, but not all of them. That shouldn’t be much of an issue if you remembered to pack some zip ties in your bug out bag. Just run that plastic tie through anything resembling a hole and attach the item to your belt or to a mini carabiner (that’s how I keep my survival lighter).

Restrain someone

If you get caught up in the fight, use a heavy-duty zip tie to restrain the bad guy until the authorities arrive. Well, you can also use them for other restraint purposes, but I ain’t going to touch this one.

Keeping boots where they belong

One of the worst things that could happen to you during hacking is shoelaces going sour on you. Don’t have extras in your backpack? Grab a zip tie, run it through the holes, and you’re all set.

Prevent pants from falling off you

Lost your belt or had to use it for other purposes? Yup, grab a heavy-duty zip or more, run it through your pants’ belt loops, and tie it. Won’t win you a fashion contest, but at least you won’t have to go around butt-naked.

Craft a shelter

You can use zip ties to secure the beams to each other when you’re building a shelter. They’re also useful in anchoring your makeshift shelter to a nearby tree or to the ground.

Mark trails

If you have a pack of brightly colored zip ties, you can secure them to low tree branches or rocks in order to mark off a trail. They also serve the purpose of signaling, letting your rescuers know that they’re going the right way.

Make a net

It’s possible to weave a net using small zip ties – very useful for all kinds of purposes such as berry-picking or storing game before reaching the campsite.

Make a trap

You can whip up a simple trap using a zip tie, a bent sapling, and some bait. Moreover, heavy-duty zip ties can be used to hang large or medium game from a branch – makes skinning and butchering easier. If you plan on curing meat, draw a heavy-duty through the flesh, and hang the cuts on a branch or an improvised line.

Repair a broken bag

If the zipper or purse lock refuses to work, grab a zip tie and secure the ends. Yes, I know it looks awful, but hey, at least your stuff will stay inside the purse\backpack\bag\tote.

Hang clothes

Don’t have any cloth hangers around the house? You really don’t need to hit the store to buy some more; just use a couple of zip ties to hang them in the wardrobe.

Patch holes in your fence

As the proud owner of a dog which has way too much energy, I spend at least a couple of hours every week mending the chain link fence. As replacing the entire grid would cost me a pretty penny, I usually use heavy-duty zip ties to patch the holes; thanks, Nero. You’re the best!

Keep your B.O.B organized

Use small zip ties to secure paracord and to keep your cables organized. Remember that it’s an emergency survival kit, not your sock drawer!

Extra traction in cold weather

Although I wouldn’t advise you to drive around town with zip ties attached to your wheels, in an emergency, you can use two or three to gain extra traction on icy roads. Works best in conjunction with kitty litter and sand.

Quick-draw mod for pocket knives

A pocket knife is not only great for carving wood or cutting meat, but also a great ally in hand-to-hand combat. As a self-defense teacher once said, the first ten seconds of any armed encounter will determine the outcome of the fight. A pocket knife is an excellent close-quarter weapon, but getting the blade out takes a couple of seconds.

To gain an edge in combat, you can add a quick-draw mode to your pocket knife. Here’s what to do: take a piece of the zip tie and secure it to the finger hole. Snip away the excess. Yes, I know it looks dumb, but that little piece of plastic will get the blade out as soon as the knife leaves your pocket. Try it and see if there’s any difference.

Keep your travel bags safe

If you plan on going abroad this year, forget about using a padlock to secure your suitcase. Use a heavy-duty zip tie instead. Travel locks can be easily removed. The same thing cannot be said about a fastened zip tie which will take more than a pair of a bolt cutter to unfasten.

To be extra safe, use at least four of that stuff. You should use zip ties that match the color of your suitcase for concealment purposes. Don’t forget to tighten them before reaching the airport and to snip off the excess.

Leg protection

Mother Nature’s is very good at hiding stuff in plain sight. This includes poisonous plants like ivy or nettle. Now, if you’re about to cross an area with tall grass or plenty of puddles, use a heavy-duty zip tie to lash the pants to your ankles. That tie will make sure nothing gets inside your pants.

Make more room in your bug out bag

If your bug out bag comes with a bedroll, mylar blanker or sleeping bag, use a couple of heavy-duty zip ties to secure the bundle and to compress it. You can do the same for your rain poncho.

Makeshift bandana

Hair getting in your eyes? Use a bandana. You don’t have it anymore? Not a problem. Use a piece of zip tie to prevent those curly locks of your from getting into your eyes. If you have longer hair, it’s possible to use a pencil and then zip tie to make a bun.

Keeping your tomato vines in line

As a gardener, I can truly say that zip ties are what one might call a God-sent gift. Without those little plastic loops, my tomato vines would grow all over the place. That doesn’t sound so bad, I know, but I do have this obsession with keeping my garden organized; the same thing cannot be said for my clothes or socks.

Make a headlamp from any tac light

Although your tac light should come with a head attachment, in some cases the manufacturers forget to include that thingamajig. Anyway, if you find yourself unable to hold your electric torch, use some heavy-duty zip ties to secure the tac light to your head. Furthermore, you can use the same trick to tie a regular flashlight to your bike’s handle if the one you have can’t handle the darkness.

Hang a solar still

In one of my previous articles, I showed you how to make a simple solar still using a plastic bottle and a tin can. When it’s ready, use a piece of zip tie to secure your still to a nearby low-lying branch.

Patching your tent

Because I’ve been hiking ever since I could remember, I have at least one fully functional tent around the house. Now, the thing I realized about these mid-range tents is that the rivets closing the hatch tend to break after a couple of uses.

No problem if you’re still in town, but kinda shitty when you want to hit the hay and can’t close the hatch – bears are not a problem if you keep the fire running, but the mosquitoes won’t spare you.

Now, if you have issues with your hatch, use a couple of zip ties to close it. Yes, you may need a survival knife or a pair of scissors to get out of the tent, but at least those damned mosquitoes stay outside, where they belong.

Use around the house

Zip ties are great for keeping cables anchored to the wall or other kinds of odd jobs. For instance, I like to use them to dry the meat my wife will use to prepare beef jerky. If you have a little smokehouse, you can replace metallic hooks with zip ties to hang the meat.

They’re also double up as padlocks – if you have a gun cabinet, you can use one or two heavy-duty zip ties in conjunction with a lock to keep the guns out of children’s reach.

That’s it for my article on ways to use zip ties in a shit hits the fan situation. Anything missing from the list? Head to the comments section and let me know.

Not every SHTF ends with you being rescued the minute you hit the “dial” button on your phone. Sometimes, you will need to fend for yourself before the cavalry comes

Ever stopped to think just how useful a bar of soap can be? No, you can’t shave it and turn it into plastic explosive as Frank Burns from M*A*S*H said, but there are lots of other stuff you can do with it beyond washy-washy. No matter if you’re using the old rectangular bar, the liquid variety or dishwasher detergent, each and every one of them could save your skin one day.

Most seasoned survivalists and bushcraft experts carry at least one bar of soap with them and, as you might expect, it’s not only for washing soiled jammies or getting the dirt off your hands.

Since soap is another one of those household items that should get its own statue in the survival hall of fame, I’ve decided to do write this short and sweet piece on how soap may serve your bushcraft purposes.

So, because talk’s cheap, here are 5 ways you can use soap to get out of a potentially life-threatening situation.

  1. Shampoo

I know that most of you don’t really see the purpose of washing your hair during an SHTF situation, especially because, I don’t know, priorities tend to shift. Still, hygiene’s very important, and you really wouldn’t want to end up with lice in your hair and worse.

Don’t know for sure if the rest of you people have even considered the thought of adding one bottle of shampoo to your B.O.B or at least an all-purpose shower gel (great for hair, body, carpets, upholstery and anything in between), but I really don’t see the point of getting one if I have one or more soap bars.

Sure, you won’t get curls or fluffy hair, but at least your head’s clean and lice-free. By the way, if you find yourself without shampoo\shower gel, you can also use liquid soap or dishwashing detergent to wash your hair. Just be careful not to use that dishwasher stuff on more sensible body areas because you’ll end up with sores (true story).

  1. Removing ice from the driveway nice and fast

No rock salt or kitty litter? No problem. You can create your own ice-busting concoction using regular liquid dish soap, water, and a bit of alcohol (don’t get your hopes up because you’ll want to rub alcohol for this concoction). Here’s what you’ll need to do: take a bucket and fill it halfway with hot water. Add one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and one tablespoon of undiluted dishwashing liquid soap. Mix and use this concoction to remove ice from your driveway.

  1. A sure-fire remedy for poison ivy poisoning

Do you know what’s worse than having a bear on your ass? Having to resist the urge to scratch after getting into contact with poison ivy. What’s even worse about this type of poisoning is that the blisters can spread if you pop those oil-filled pustules.

How to solve this? Using dishwashing liquid soap, of course. Since the stuff’s designed to deal with oil stains, it will eliminate the excess oils from the area, thus stopping the blisters from spreading. Moreover, using liquid soap on poison ivy blisters increases the healing rate of your skin.

  1. Keeping them nasty bugs away from your food

Now that spring’s finally arrived, we turn our attention to things more romantic like picnics, BBQs, and campfire sing-alongs with your intoxicated buddies. The only thing that annoys me the most, apart from having to clean that bathroom (sorry, hun) is insects crawling over my food.

Yes, I should know by know that a picnic’s not exactly, well, a picnic, but I do hate to share meals with overly insistent ants, and God knows what.

After doing a bit of snooping on the Internet, I found out that you can actually protect your food from pests using diluted dishwashing soap. It sounds crazy, but believe me, it works. And no, the food will not have a soapy taste to it. To prepare your own pest repellant from soap, get yourself one of those spray bottles and fill it with others. Add two teaspoons of dish soap, shake, and spray the table area.

Yes, you can even spray the food – in its watered-down form the stuff’s safe to eat. Only don’t use too much of it because your food will certainly end up tasting funny.

  1. Getting rid of sticky things in your hair

Well, what can I say? Shit can happen even at home. Doesn’t matter how hard you try to maintain hygiene, because there’s always that moment when you forget that you just dunked your hands in Vaseline, but that itchy spot on the top of your hand just refuses to go away. For moments like this, be thankful for the fact that dish soap exists.

This stuff’s powerful enough to remove anything from the flue, Vaseline, nail polish, gum, and, yes, even peanut butter.

However, do keep in mind that dish soap was made for washing dishes and not to be used as a shower gel. Here’s what you will need to do in order to get rid of that nasty stuff from your hair. First of all, stop scratching because you’ll only spread around the stuff, and rip some hair locks in the process.

Now, pour a tablespoon of your favorite dish soap into your palm and apply it over the sticky area. Rub the area for 5 to 10 minutes. After that, wait a while for the soap to sit and do its job. After that, get into the bathroom, rinse your hair with plenty of water.

You can also use a little bit of shower gel or shampoo to ensure that there’s no more dish soap in your hair. I know it sounds nasty, but then again you really had to scratch that itch.

That’s it for my short and sweet list of how survivalists use soap, regardless if its liquid, solid or the kind used for washing dishes. Do you believe my list lacks certain applications? Hit the comments section and let me know.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Ever stopped to think just how useful a bar of soap can be? No, you can’t shave it and turn it into plastic explosive as Frank Burns from M*A*S*H said,

Homesteading’s the fine art of getting your land legs while learning how to do most of the stuff on your own. It’s great to have your own slice of heaven by the sea or in the middle of a dark and twisted forest – I for one can vouch that, most of the time, it’s rather amusing to figure out how our ancestors did things like tending to the garden, raising farm animals, settling in for the winter, picking up fresh herbs from the garden or building simple stuff out back.

Still, as pleasure-laden, as homesteading may be or become, it’s rather a turnoff when you need to do all of the things or more when you’re sick. Even a simple cold or the flu can turn a grown man into a noodle, but imagine what happens when you become bound to your sickbed with no one around to take care of you and your house.

Yes, that may strike as being a little depressive, but, unfortunately, it can happen even to the best of us. I being struck down a couple of months ago by the stomach flu somehow wound up all alone at my hunting cabin. Wife couldn’t come up on account of the kids being sick too and no driver’s license, so I was kind of force to get ingenious about my homesteading.

Anyway, after careful considerations and some chicken soup, I came with this wonderful piece which details my journey from sickly couch-potato to a regular Paul Bunyan wannabee. Without further ado, here’s are my golden rules to successful homesteading while you’re sick.

  1. Stay in bed

Of course, my first golden rule had to be a no-brainer because of reasons. Just kidding – most people tend to underestimate the severity of their medical condition and decide to just brush it off. Don’t do that. If you’re feeling that your legs are turning into the noodle, get to bed, medicate, and sleep on it. Remember that you’re all alone out there, and if you happen to collapse while working the field or chopping wood, there’s no one around to pick you up or drive you to the hospital.

  1. Get in touch with emergency services

No matter if you’re a big city dweller or the king of your own hill or mountain, you’ve still got to figure out how to get in touch with the emergency services in case shit hits the fan. A while after I bought my hunting cabin, figuring out that I kind of get down with the flu when spring comes, I went to my local drug store and bought me a one-push emergency bracelet.

Surprisingly, the device has great coverage, even in places where there’s no phone signal. Don’t kid around with your health, especially if you decide to drop off the grid. If you can’t find an emergency bracelet, use an emergency service smartphone application like Emergency+ if you have adequate coverage. A portable distress beacon is always a great alternative, but it will need some tinkering before you can use it to alert the local emergency services.

  1. Keep an ample supply of chopped wood or fire-starting material

Golden rule number three – when you’re game, chop as much wood as you can because you won’t be able to do so when you’re sick. It would also be a good idea to keep a small wood stack as close to the home as possible to minimize exposure to the elements.

Yes, I know that’s a big no-no in the big book of prepping, but some rules are meant to be bent if in doing so increases your survival likelihood. If your stove is running on another kind of fuel, be sure to keeps some close by, but not too close to the heating device.

  1. Soup broth all around!

I know it’s kind of a cliché but hot chicken soup really help you’re sick or feeling down. Making some in your home is no big deal. Still, I would skip the cooking part and go buy some canned soup. Sure, nothing beats a home-cooked meal, but do keep in mind that you can’t prepare the broth that much in advance.  So, make sure you have enough in your pantry for whatever the case may be.

  1. No one should be without a checklist

Checklists are a marvelous way of keeping everything nice and tidy, especially if you’re the kind of person that has no love for neatness. If you find yourself alone and sick on your property, get yourself together and try to jot down a small to-do list for the next couple of days. That way, you will have ensured that you haven’t missed anything.

  1. Let someone know you’re there

You may be king of the mountain, but every king sometimes requires the aid of a royal advisor. In this case, you should let someone know where you are and, most importantly, how long you’re planning on staying. If you plan on moving there, get to know your neighbors and, if possible, ask someone to check up on you every couple of days to make sure that you’re safe and sound.

  1. Keeping your meds close

You don’t need to be sick in order to figure out that it’s really important for the meds to be within reach. I personally emptied an old wooden wardrobe and sort of turned it into a big med cabinet. Of course, you can do as you like when it comes to med storage. Don’t forget about the golden rule of med hoarding: painkillers first, anti-histamines second, and vitamin supplements last.

These are my golden rules of homesteading while I’m sick. As I’ve mentioned, all of this stuff are the results of my me-time at the hunting cabin. Sure, it may be possible that some steps might be a bit off, but, as I’ve said, this was a personal experience. Think something’s missing from the list? Then go ahead and hit the comments section and let me know what you think.

Homesteading’s the fine art of getting your land legs while learning how to do most of the stuff on your own. It’s great to have your own slice of heaven

How are you doing, fellow preppers and preppies? Been a while now since I’ve tried my hand at making stuff, rather than repairing or buying new. Seeing that most of you have trouble figuring out what to use for electricity in case of an SHTF situation, I thought of sharing with you my latest project: a home-made bike-powered generator.

I have to admit that I wasn’t too sure about how this project would turn on since I had to improvise most of the time. The idea came from one of dad’s friends who said he used something similar during the Korean War to power a small radio.

So, after doing a bit of snooping on the Internet, I gathered my tools and the rest of the stuff and jumped right into it. Time-wise, it took me about four hours, give or take the time spent chatting on FB with some of the buddies.

Anyway, this little gadget is quite useful if you’re ever in need to juice up something on the spot – I tried it on dad’s old motorcycle and even on an old tablet (you may need to find an adaptor for electronics such smartphones, tablets or laptops). So, without further ado, here’s how to build your own bike generator.

Tools and materials needed

  • Hammer with a nail puller.
  • Saw.
  • Philips screwdriver.
  • Lightbulb.
  • Old fan belt.
  • Old car alternator.
  • Switch.
  • Battery.
  • Voltage regulator.
  • Short plank.
  • Two 50x6x2 planks.
  • One plank (24 inches)
  • Nails
  • L-corner braces.
  • Bendable metal bracers.
  • Old bike.
  • Piece of metal.

Already gathered your tools and materials? Awesome. Here’s what you’ll need to do next.

Our Recommendation
Revealed: Hitler's Deathbed Confession

Did Adolf Hitler make THIS shocking final confession in the seconds before his death? Buried for over 71 years, Hitler hoped his biggest secret would never go out. Now here's the 1 thing NO ONE ever expected him to say.

Assembling the bike generator

Step 1. Place the two 50-inch wooden planks next to each other on the ground. This will be your base.

Step 2. Grab the saw and cut the 24-inch plank in half.

Step 3. Using the saw, cut two triangular grooves on the upper part of the two pieces.

Step 4. Attach the two grooved pieces to your base (place them halfway from the short edges).

Step 5. Nail the grooved pieces to the base.

Step 6. Attach two big L-corner braces where the grooved pieces meet the base. Use screws to fix them in place.

Step 7. Attach a small L-corner place in the triangle-shaped indentation. Repeat step for the second piece.

Step 8. In order to secure the bike’s front wheel, attach two bendable braces in the front part of the base. Use two screws to lock them in place.

Step 9.  Using the appropriate wrench, tighten the screw that holds the bike’s back wheel into place.

Step 10. It’s time to place your bike on the support. Carefully place the back end on the two triangle-shaped indentations.

Step 11. Bend the two front metal braces over the front in and secure into place with two screws.

Step 12. Hop on the bike and start pedaling. If the bike feels like it’s about to go forward, add another metal brace to the front part of the wheel and make sure the rest of the screws are tightened.

Step 13. Remove the bike tube from the back wheel.

Step 14. Install the belt of the back wheel.

Step 15. Attach the other end of the belt on your alternator.

Step 16.  Attach the alternator to your base. Keep tension on the belt.

Step 17. Place the piece of metal over the base and attach the alternator to it. You can screw it in place if your alternator has mounting holes or weld it – I’ve gone with the latter option.

Step 18. The alternator has another mounting platform right out the back. Place a thin piece of metal under it and secure in place with a long screw.

It’s now time to test-drive the generator. But before you can do that, you will need to do play electrician for a bit.

  1. Take the voltage regulator to install it on the alternator. This will allow you to control the energy flow and to add a switch.
  2. Grab some wires. I color-coded them to know which is which (blue, red, and white).
  3. Take your read wire and attach it to the motor (this will be on positive).
  4. Take the blue wire and attach it to the voltage regulator (this will be on negative).
  5. To install the switch, take the white wire and attach it to the very same spot on the alternator where the red wire went. The other end goes into your voltage regulator.
  6. Connect the alternator to your regulator.
  7. Attach the last wire to the DF spot on your regulator.
  8. Solder the positive and negative wires to your battery. That’s it!

To try out your makeshift electricity generator, take a regular 12-volt right bulb and connect it to your thingamajig (red on side and blue on bottom). Put in a place where you can see it, hop on the bike, and start pedaling. After a couple of spins, the bulb should turn on. However, do keep in mind that the thing will stay on only if you keep on pedaling.

I’ve also tested out this generator on an old tablet. Had to whip out some sort of adaptor. It’s very easy – take your blue and red wires and connect them to the negative and positive terminals of a car charged outfitted with a USB outlet.

Hop on the bike and start pedaling. A couple of seconds later, I saw the charging icon lighting up on the top-right corner of the screen. I know it’s a crude way to juice up electronics, but it’s very handy to have around for, I don’t know, very short phone calls, sending a quick text or checking your mail.

One more thing: be sure that the belt connecting the back wheel to the alternator is always in tension. You might need to reposition the alternator for that. Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed my little project. As always, feel free to hit the comment section for any insights, tips or just to say ‘hi’.

This little gadget is quite useful if you’re ever in need to juice up something on the spot – I tried it on dad’s old motorcycle and even on an

American colonists were once encouraged to grow and cultivate cannabis for hemp, but it all changed when the plant’s more “medicinal” uses were discovered. And here we are now.

These days it seems like Wall Street has high hopes for the blossoming cannabis industry — with marijuana stocks rapidly gaining traction. Tilray (TLRY) , the first marijuana IPO in the United States, has been having a heyday in the market, with one of the most astonishing sessions earlier this week that saw the stock shoot up over 90% before closing lower. And with an estimated valuation of around $24 billion, cannabis is no longer a joke on The Street.

As other companies like Coca-Cola (KO – Get Report)  work on getting a piece of the pot pie, it seems the wave of approval for cannabis-based companies and IPOs won’t be stopped.

 

Question is – why aren’t you investing in marijuana stocks right now?

You’re missing out on what could be the quickest and easiest way to get rich in your lifetime. Right now, literally hundreds of these marijuana stocks are exploding to rare highs of 8,500%11,430%17,054%25,099% and even 127,900%

Minting hundreds of new millionaires — and even billionaires, like Christian Blue and Michael Kennedy — along the way. And because many of these marijuana stocks are still trading for just pennies, you could literally start investing in marijuana stocks with just a $100 bill.

So what’s keeping you from turning that tiny stake into a massive fortune, and retire incredibly wealthy in less than a year. I’ve seen it happen to literally dozens of folks already.  And even more, are still becoming millionaires seemingly every single day.

One fellow I know of, for example — Terry Braid — was a local electrician in his hometown, when he decided to invest in this once-in-a-lifetime boom with a friend. The result? His combined stake is now worth over $200 million! Imagine that… A 53-year-old now has more millions than he could ever spend. All because he invested in what historians could look back on as the biggest boom ever.

You will NEVER see an easier way to get rich than explosive marijuana stocks… not in your lifetime. And if you miss out, you’ll spend the rest of your life regretting it.

news headline

Right now, hedge funds, venture capitalists, institutional investors and even massive corporations like Constellation Brands have marijuana investments in the pipeline. And once they get set up, billions — possibly even trillions — of dollars will flow into the marijuana industry, helping push these marijuana stocks even higher.

This really is the new gold rush.

That’s why we’re already seeing some of the world’s biggest investors, like hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman, and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, go all in. It’s the biggest no-brainer of our generation.

But while the “smart money” is going all-in right now,  everyday folks are being left out of this once-in-a-lifetime “get-rich-quick opportunity.” Regular Americans like you are not participating, simply because they don’t know how to get started, or what marijuana stocks they should buy.

And that’s not fair.

Many of These Tiny Marijuana Stocks Are Still Trading for Just Pennies!

 

 

Because there are literally countless dozens of other small marijuana stocks still trading for pennies, you could get started with a single $100 bill. You could cash out with a retirement fortune just a few short months from today.

After all, just look at what happened with shares of Abattis Bioceuticals Corp., a tiny Canadian-based marijuana company. You’ve probably never heard of it. But had you invested a single $100 bill when shares were trading for just 3 cents, you could have cashed out with $9,208 in profits. In just a little over three months!

chart

Look, take it from someone who has been involved with the markets for well over a decade. There’s never been ANYTHING like this before. This is the true “get rich quick” opportunity you’ve spent your whole life waiting for, one that could turn a single $100 bill into a retirement fortune.

That’s because Abattis Bioceuticals Corp. is just one of literally hundreds of marijuana stocks that are exploding right now…

For example, look at what happened with shares of Acacia Diversified Holdings, a tiny marijuana company from Clearwater, Florida. Had you put $100 in when shares were trading for just pocket change, you could have turned your $100 stake into a quick $13,700 windfall. Invest $1,000 and you’d be looking at $137,000 in profits!

Imagine that… six figures in gains in just a few short weeks.

chart

 

 

You’re probably starting to see why so many people are becoming marijuana millionaires seemingly every day. That’s because the bottom line is this: almost every single day, dozens of marijuana stocks are exploding, making it the fastest and easiest way to grow rich… starting with just a few dollars in your pocket. 

But this WON’T last forever…

The marijuana stocks that are trading for pennies will soon begin trading for $25… $50… $75… or maybe even $100 or more. And once they get expensive like that, it will be too late for you to get rich quick. We’re already starting to see it happen with some marijuana stocks like Canopy Growth Corp., which recently reached a high of $51.53.

That’s why I can’t emphasize size this enough, there’s no time to waste.  We will NEVER see an opportunity even remotely like this again in our lifetime. That means you have a very small window of opportunity to act. One that’s closing with each passing day.

Just remember, every day you sit out, someone else is growing rich from Marijuana Stocks!

Funny or not, it’s just the simple truth.

Just remember, every day you sit out, someone else is growing rich from Marijuana Stocks!

Bread is a truly wonderful food. It tastes good no matter what you do to it — whether you’re toasting it and slathering it with butter, or covering it in eggs and making French toast for breakfast. Heck, it’s even delicious when you’re eating it completely plain. Bread is a super versatile item in the kitchen when cooking or baking, but what you may not have realized is that even when you’re not eating it, bread can be used for so many other things around the house. There are so many weird things you can do with bread that, after reading this, you’ll want to make sure you always have a loaf in your kitchen, just in case. Basically, to quote the great Oprah Winfrey, “I love bread. I love bread.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re using white bread, multigrain bread, whole wheat, sourdough, or rye — any type will work for these life-changing hacks. Bread of all kinds can be a valuable tool when it comes to cleaning your house (seriously!), and it can actually bring certain foods back to life (more on that in a minute). Honestly, I’m not quite sure why bread hasn’t been labeled a superfood yet, because it deserves the title.

Check out these weird things you can do with bread, and prepare to see this item differently for the rest of your life.

Remove Stains

Sometimes, cleaning requires products full of chemicals and bleach that will destroy everything in its path. Other times, though, you’ll be just fine with a natural cleaner — in fact, you may even be better off. According to Country Living, bread is an excellent natural cleaner. White bread or rye bread rolled into a ball is basically an eraser that can lift stains off walls, wallpaper, kitchen cabinets, and more. The site advises dabbing gently at the surface with the rolled-up bread ball, and you’ll notice the smudges and marks disappear.

Soak Up Grease Spills

Bread doesn’t just get rid of smudges or tiny marks. It’s also incredibly helpful in soaking up annoying grease stains, which can be difficult to get rid of. Simply take a piece of bread and lay it over the stain, pressing gently until it goes away.

Treat Calluses

According to Fluster Buster, bread is a lifesaver when it comes to fixing calluses and other various foot ailments. For calluses and corns, you can soak a piece of bread in apple cider vinegar, then place it on the callus. Tape the bread in place, cover it in plastic wrap, and let it sit overnight.

For boils, you can soak a piece of bread in some milk, then apply it to the affected area, tape it in place, and allow it to dry overnight — it will drain out the liquid.

Prevent Vegetables From Smelling Weird

You know how some vegetables get super smelly when you cook them? (I’m looking at you, broccoli and cauliflower.) You can eliminate that odor with bread. Simply place a piece of bread on top of the vegetables in the pot to get rid of the stinky smell.

Revive Stale Marshmallows

Marshmallows are delicious — until they get stale and hard. But if that happens, don’t toss the bag just yet. According to Food and Wine, you can put a squishy piece of bread in a plastic bag with the marshmallows, seal it, and give them a few days to sit. They should become fluffy again, just like magic.

Remove Splinters

Removing splinters with tweezers can be painful. Using bread, you can make a poultice that gets the job done. According to Genius Kitchen, you can fold a handkerchief along the diagonal, place the bread on the handkerchief, pour boiling water over the bread (don’t let it get dripping wet), and then let it cool slightly. Place it over the splinter. Tie the ends of the handkerchief around the part of your body where the splinter is, elevate that body part if possible, and keep the bread on there as long as you can. You can repeat if necessary, until the splinter is close to the surface of your skin and easily removable with tweezers.

According to The Farmer’s Almanac, you can also soak bread in cool milk, press out the milk, and apply the bread to the affected area, then tape it there, and let sit for a few hours or overnight. After, the splinter will have risen close to the surface of your skin, or (if it’s not that deep of a splinter), it may be removed from your skin completely. Easy peasy!

Clean Old Paintings

If you have old paintings in your house, you’ll notice that they might get full of smudges, dust, or dirt. The best way to clean them is actually with bread. According to The Brick House, you can rub the soft spot of white bread all over the painting. Be gentle, and just run the bread over the surface. It kind of works like a sponge to pull off grime and dust.

Make Bread Art

If you really want to get creative, look into bread art. There are basically a million different ways to mold bread into something aesthetically pleasing. You might not want to eat it when you’re done, but you will want to put it on display for everyone to see!

Cut Onions Without Crying

No one enjoys cutting onions because of how much they burn your eyes, leaving you teary. Apparently though, bread can help. If you put a piece of bread in your mouth while cutting, it will absorb the sulfates that cause the tears.

The Farmer’s Almanac also suggests spearing a piece of stale bread with your knife and sliding it up to the end of the blade near the handle to absorb the sulfates.

10 Fix Burnt Rice

Burning rice happens to the best of us. Unfortunately, it’s not very tasty… at all. But bread can make things better! The Healthy Home Economist recommends putting a slice of bread on top of the rice, covering it, and letting it finish cooking. Use a regular slice of bread instead of crust. The bread will absorb any burnt taste that might be there.

11 Pick Up Broken Glass

Picking up tiny pieces of broken glass can be made easier with a piece of bread. Simply press it gently on the area, and it will snatch up all the teensy pieces.

12 Clean A Coffee Grinder

To clean out a coffee grinder, The Farmer’s Almanacrecommends pinching off three or four small pieces of stale bread, grinding them in your grinder, dumping the crumbs, and then wiping the inside of the grinder clean. Voila!

13 Keep Cake Fresh

Once a cake is cut, it can get stale quickly. To keep it fresh, simply put a piece of bread against the cut part and leave it there.

14 Skim The Fat Off Soup

If you notice a lot of fat on the top of your soup, you can easily get rid of it by skimming a piece of bread along the top. It absorbs the oil and grease quickly in a mess-free way.

Honestly, I’m beginning to feel like there’s no problem in life that bread can’t fix.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Bread is a truly wonderful food. It tastes good no matter what you do to it — whether you’re toasting it and slathering it with butter, or covering it in

I haven’t been able to understand why the expression “to live like an Amish” has a pejorative meaning. Not until I started to love like a prepper. They are simple folk, trying to live a very simple life; some may call them minimalists, but I can’t see why they’re mock just because they chose to live without electronic gadgets, electricity, and as far away as possible from the hustle and bustle of the city. I would be lying If I were to say that I’m envious about their life choices.

Yes, I am a prepper and, even more than that, a person who’s ready to sacrifice comfort for safety, if the situation demands it, but not willingly. Sure, I can make do without a tablet, the latest Samsung Galaxy with four motion-triggered cameras or going to the cinema every weekend to see a movie, but there are some things I just can’t part with (well, not right away).

Anyway, the other day, as I was taking my daughter back from school, I stopped at a light downtown. Even though it was well after two o’clock, the traffic was downright infernal – you know what that means; lots and lots of patience. So, while standing there, waiting for the green light, I noticed that the driver on my right side kept sliding his hand out of the window in an attempt to snap a picture.  Nothing curious about that considering that, sometimes, becoming stuck in a traffic jam brings out the artist inside all of us.

However, the man kept on doing this, whilst talking to someone on the driver’s seat. When I looked in the direction of his camera I saw the embodiment of ‘screw you, I do what I want with my life.’ Standing in the dicky of four-wheeled coach, there were two men – father and son, I gathered. Both of them were dressed in black from head to toe, had these thick, bushy beards, glasses, and clergymen hats.

What amazed me was the fact that although most of the drivers were snapping pictures and mocking them, they went on about their business as if nothing was wrong. I can’t imagine being that calm when someone is calling me names. But, then again, I can very well assume that this isn’t the first, nor the last time that they had to deal with people staring at them as if they were zoo animals.

Well, long story short, once I got home, I started to read a bit about the Amish community.  And, as you’ve probably guessed it by now, the article you see before you is the result of, shall I call it, an exploration into America’s most conservative community. So, without further ado, here are 6 life and survival lesson I’ve learned from the Amish. Enjoy!

Family and togetherness mean a lot more than all the treasures of this world

Last time I paid my folks a visit, I sort of got one of those Hollywoodian flashbacks. More than 20 years ago, I was in the living room with my mom, dad, and grandma. ‘Twas around the time of the prom. I wanted to tell my parents that right after the party, I was going to hit it off with my girlfriend and two classmates.

As you would imagine, my parents were not too thrilled about this. Dad was adamant about me getting back home. Guess he would have rather seen me hitting the books for my college entry exam then reenacting Adam’s intro of Summer of ‘69. Long story short, we argued, a lot, and everything ended with me saying some very nasty things about my family.

This is one of the things I kinda envy the Amish – no matter how shitty things are; they stay together. Everything they do, they do for the family. More than that, they do not believe in stuff like “hey, I have this thing, but you can’t have it, because you will have to work for it just like I did.” Nope. If one family makes more than it needs, it will wholeheartedly share with the rest of the community, especially with the more unfortunate ones.

I can’t say that my family is perfect. No, we don’t argue all the time, scream at each other, say things like “I’m going to leave you and take the kids with me,” but tempers do flare from time to time. In those moments I come to realize that we have everything we need and we should try to play nice with each other. I mean, the Amish communities are like stepping into a time machine and ending up in pre-colonial America- no electricity, no Internet, no gadgets. And yet, they still have more tightly-knitted families than 90 percent of the people I know or grew up with.

You really don’t need to become a member of the Amish community to figure out the meaning of “family.” Just talk or read some books about them. Trust me – after doing this, you won’t be that eager to raise your voice at your wife, punish your kids for stuff they didn’t do or laugh in your neighbor’s face when he asks for help. Remember the saying: “give an inch and take a mile.”

The Amish rehashed “self-reliance.”

There’s no such thing as being too self-reliant, whether it refers to cooking your own meals, washing your stuff or learning to make things rather than buying them from the store. Emerson’s Walden may have been a good read for a lot of preppers, but for the Amish, that book’s almost sacred. Imagine living in a very small community with no money, no debit or credit cards, and no stores. Sounds interesting, does it not? Well, in traditional Amish communities, a family’s only way to obtain certain goods they need around the house, say lamp oil, is trading. And yes, everything being trading within the boundaries of this community is produced or manufactured there.

And let me tell you, those people really know their business – I’ve seen Amish canned goods, oil lamps, furniture, tobacco, bread, coffee, and even toys for the little ones.

There’s a lesson in this, folks – when you do decide that it’s time to drop off the grid, you must ensure that you know how to make stuff. Otherwise, it’s just what I like to call prepping with benefits.

Treating your livestock as if it’s part of the family

Can’t really say that I like livestock that much – sure, baby goats and horses are gorgeous, but not as cute as kitten or puppies. What struck me the most when watching YouTube videos about the Amish community is the bond they share with their livestock. When I was a kid, my grandma used to tell me these stories about her parents keeping animals like baby horses, goats, sheep or chicklings inside the house during the winter.

Sure, it’s a heartwarming story, but I didn’t take it for granted. However, after seeing these people care for their livestock, I kind of began to believe in them. If there’s one worthy takeaway, it’s learning how to see if your livestock is healthy or there’s an illness running amok.

Overcomplicated farming is not a recipe for success

We are literally surrounded by supermarkets, farmer market’s, and hypermarkets, yet all the food we eat tastes like cardboard. Granted, we have the means to feed millions of people thanks to the advancement in farming technology, but all this stuff doesn’t mean anything if the final product lacks the very stuff our bodies so desperately need. I wholeheartedly recommend viewing a video on Amish farming methods. To say that it’s fascinating, would be a major understatement. They have no need for trucks, tractors, cultivators, subsoiler, rollers or spike harrow – they toil from dusk till dawn to sow the ground with horse-pulled plows. That’s it! Yes, I know that it’s very hard work, but, my God, their veggies are astounding. I’ve seen cantaloupes the size of a basketball and beets as big as my beer belly. Their secret – plenty of hard work, dedication, and using all-natural solutions.

Hand sewing is not just something you see in the movies

Nowadays, nobody pays too much attention to sewing – if your parka needs stitching, you just take it to tailor’s shop, and that’s basically it. If I were to ask someone about hand sewing, he would probably look at me as if I’m from another planet or something. The only thing close to actual hand sewing was this old lady who had a stand at an exposition hosted by our local history museum. She could make anything from tunics, socks, underpants to carpets and upholstery. However, for the Amish, hand sewing is a vital skill. Although the women do the heavy lifting, the men also know how to sew back a ripped button or patch a hole in their shirts.

I am well aware of the fact that hand sewing clothes and other things is not a skill that can be learned overnight. Heck, some members of the Amish communities spend half a century honing their skills and perfecting their techniques. So, the next time you see an Amish couple in your hometown, don’t mock their sense of fashion – just remember that everything they wear is made by the head. The same thing cannot be said about us town folk, who buy every piece of garment from Mall stores.

That hard work is a virtue, not just a 9-to-5 undertaking

The next time you complain that your cushy 9-to-5 is exhausting, think about the fact that the regular Amish workday begins at five in the morning and ends well after sunset. And it doesn’t matter if the weather’s nice or really bad or if that person woke up with a major headache because he drank too much last night – for the Amish community, work is sacred. And, dare I say, the results speak for themselves. I’ve never seen an Amish home in disarray or a family that has nothing to eat or to wear.

If that’s not enough for you, get a load of this – Amish don’t work just for themselves. They work for the entire community. Sure, your land and livestock are important, but so is the rest. For instance, if a new couple moved into ‘town,’ the entire community helps them settle in. Yup that means even giving them a hand to raise a house or a barn.

By the way, if you need new furniture, you may want to try out your local Amish store or get in touch with a member of the community. Why? Because their furniture’s all-wood, not that cheap crap manufacturers use to whip up low-quality beds or couches. It’s a win-win.

That about wraps it up for life and survival lessons learned from the Amish. What do you think about this topic? Hit the comments section and let me know.

I haven’t been able to understand why the expression “to live like an Amish” has a pejorative meaning. Not until I started to live like a prepper.

Ever since I bought my very first computer back in the odd ‘90s, I sort of became a hoarder of everything related to tech – I kid you not when I say that the back of my garage is filled to the proverbial brim with outdated components like CPUs, motherboards, video cards, monitors, and boxes of CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks.

Sometimes I feel the urge to pop open my PC’s optical drive just to see what’s on them. Unfortunately for the computer geek in me, half of that stuff has stopped working long ago. As for the CDs and DVDs, not even wishful thinking can restore them to their former glory. Still, that doesn’t mean I should throw them away.

Even the thought of parting with a single CD would break my hear. So, as usual, I paid a visit to my old pal Google to see what other people have done with their optical disk collection. I was stunned to see just ingenious people get when it comes to repurposing stuff.

And yes, even though all the threads began with “do, I really need to throw them in the garbage?”, they usually ended in a lighter note – great homesteading projects and some of them carried out by guys who haven’t even head the word “prepping.”

So, if you are the proud owner of a huge CD or DVD collection, here are X clever ways to use them around the house.

  1. Building a gigantic solar cooker

I simply love outdoor cooking, no matter if it’s barbequing or watching others prepare food. Anyway, this one thread was speaking about creating a solar cooker from CDs or DVDs. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. That was my first impression as well. However, the math seemed to be right, and since the weather’s nice, I tried to see if it works.

Now, keep in mind that you will need around 100 or 200 CDs and DVDs for this project and old parabolic antenna (the biggest you can find). If you don’t want to invest too much cash, you can always pay a visit to your junkyard to scavenge for parts (that’s where I found the antenna). Here’s what you will need to do in order to create your solar cooker.

Place the antenna in the yard’s hottest spot (that would be around the back). Using a nail gun or zip tie, attach the CDs to the antenna. Make sure that you don’t leave any gaps. When you’re done, take a small grill and attach it just below the receiver (I used a couple of metal pieces which I secured to the receiver using screws).

Wait for the grill to get hot, then BBQ your meat of choice. If the weather’s holding out, you should be able to get at least 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, if the temp’s too high for you, simply remove a couple of CDs to lower it.

  1. Creating a retro-futuristic night lamp for your off-grid cabin

Everything can be solved with a little illumination. If you’re a big fan of DIYs and repurposing, you should definitely try out this simple and neat project. The result is a cool, retro-futuristic night lamp that’s brighter than anything you have around the house. Even neat is the fact that it won’t cost you a dime.

Here’s what you’ll need to do – salvage a bulb socket from an old lamp. Search around the house for an LED bulb (there’s bound to be one somewhere, especially if you’re committed to stockpiling survival items).

Take a closer look at the wires coming out of the socket. If they’re too far gone, replace them with new ones. Now grab a handful of CDs (I used about 50 for my project) and some epoxy. Stack and glue them together. Place the socket inside the stack, screw in the bulb, draw the wires, attach a plug, and have fun with it.

  1. Keeping pests away from your veggie garden

I like birds and bees and flies as much as the next man, but not while they’re tearing apart my veggie garden and my corn. Still, I can’t find it within me to take out my hunting rifle and shoot those birds down. And no, I won’t even consider using chemical pesticides. While reading about CDs and DVDs, I came across a thread which suggested that old optical supports can be used to keep pests away.

Didn’t believe it for a second, but I hung up a couple of ones at the edge of my garden just to see what happens. Don’t know how or why, but those crows seemed to be scared shitless of the light reflected by those old CDs. What can I say? Win-win.

  1. A hiding place for docs and jewelry

Not enough dough for a strongbox or a safe? No problem. You can use a stack of old CDs or DVDs to create a hiding place for your valuables. Here’s what you will need to do. Get ahold of one of those mini-CDs (you’re going to use this as a reference point). Place it over a bunch of old CDs (at least 50) and draw the mini disk’s outline using a marker.

Now here comes the fun part: using a hacksaw, cut on the ‘dotted line.’ When you’re done, glue all of them together to create a miniature tower. It’s now time to put everything together. Place one CD on the bottom of the plastic holder.

Glue the stack to the base. Now put a holder inside your mini safe (I used an old muffin mold). Place another CD on top, screw the plastic lid in place and, voila, your project’s completion.

That’s it for my four neat ways of repurposing old CDs and DVDs. Now, I know there are tons of other ways to make use of disks, and I would really like to know your thoughts on this. So, hit the comment section and let me know.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Ever since I bought my very first computer back in the odd ‘90s, I sort of became a hoarder of everything related to tech – I kid you not when

Probably the best thing about an off-grid home is that it kinda forces you to get back on speaking terms with things you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I was I going to split logs, stack manure or making candles out of bacon, I would’ve probably told him that his mom’s a very nice person (not!).

Anyway, ever since I bought this dingy, I learned that the things I once considered as being nasty or beneath me are actually very entertaining and, dare I say, therapeutic to some degree. Of course, shoveling manure can hardly be considered fun, but spending an afternoon splitting logs for a cozy campfire or late-night BBQ is awesome.

On the latter activity – splitting logs and making fires is fun. Cleaning up afterward is not. The only thing that kept me from doing this all day was sawdust. It gets everywhere – I found that stuff inside my boots, my pants, even my skivvies for God’s sake. And no matter how hard you broom or power wash the place, you will still find sawdust piles.

Okay, so cleaning sawdust is not entertaining, but figuring out what to do with that stuff after gathering it, well…still not fun enough for me. I mean, what in Hell’s name can you do with a handful of wood chippings and dust apart from taking it to the thrash? That’s when it hit me.

I remember watching this outdoor cooking show featuring this guy who had the same problem with sawdust. The only difference between us is that he figured out a way to reuse it. His clever workaround was reusing the stuff to cure and smoke meat. Neat, isn’t it? Well, long story made short, I hopped on the Internet and searched for ways to reuse that stuff around the house. And, wouldn’t you know, there is indeed life after death, at least for sawdust. So, without further ado, here are X creative recycle and reuse wood dust.

Making a campfire

Remember about the tinder box? Well, because it can get so lonely for that char cloth of yours, here’s one more thing you can add – fine sawdust. Since this stuff’s the byproduct of woodworking, it’s safe to assume that it can be used to start a fire. However, since sawdust’s very, well, dry, it will need something else to sustain a flame.

On a prepping forum, someone suggested that you can make a briquette out of a bar of wax and a handful of sawdust. It’s very easy – melt the wax in a small pan and add the wood shavings. Stir and allow the mixture to harden. After that, cut it into tinder box-size pieces and profit.

Weed-whacker

A gardener has but four sworn enemies: moles, bad weather, moles, insects, and weeds. Moles can be kept away by sprinkling a bit of wood ash at the base of the plant, while insects go nuts around coffee grounds. There’s nothing you can do about bad weather, though (you can try a rain dance if that makes you feel a little better). But weeds can be dealt with by using sawdust. After planting your veggies, place a thin layer of sawdust on top.

Veggies don’t mind wood chippings; weeds, on the other hand, won’t go near that stuff. I don’t know the science behind this claim, but I’ve read somewhere that it has something to do with inhibiting the weed’s natural parasitic properties. Tried it a couple of times in my garden, and it works like a charm. You can also use some of this stuff in those cracks that appear on your driveway.

Pulling a fast one on a drunk friend

I don’t think there’s anything more disturbing than waking up butt-naked outside during the winter. If you want to pull a fast one on someone’s who got sauced at your party, get some sawdust, spray-paint it white, lay it outside, and carry your bud then. Well, this may not be your typical SHTF use, but at least it makes for a great YouTube video.

Dealing with oil spills

Probably most of you have attempted at least once to fix your car in the garage. The operations might have gone well, but the same thing cannot be said about the floor, which is covered in motor oil. Power washing the floor won’t work. Trust me. I think I’ve used up more water than two hospitals trying to clean one tiny spill.

To quickly get rid of that thing, sprinkle some sawdust over it. In a couple of minutes, the sawdust will absorb all the oil. All you need to do now would be to use the power blower to get rid of the oil-soaked sawdust pile.

Make neat garden or forest paths

If your home’s next to the forest, there’s bound to be a place of interest nearby – a creek, rock with peculiar features, an old tree, perhaps even a cave. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice path leading to it, instead of relying each time on markings or memory? Well, you can do that using sawdust, sand, and a couple of river rocks. Start by choosing you rocks – they should be flat and smooth because you wouldn’t want to hurt your feet now, would you?

The path should be at least one-and-a-half meters in width which mean that you’ll need to use at least three small and flat rock or two big ones. Figure out just how many rocks the path will require before heading off into the forest to scavenge for materials.

Use a hoe or an implement with a flat head to trace the path from your garden to the place of interest. After that, add a think layer of sand and a layer of sawdust on top – this combo will allow you to them the river rocks easier. Finally, arrange the rocks, place some tiki torches on either side of the path for mood, and you’re done.

Extra fertilization!

Plants don’t have enough yum-yum to grow? Try a little bit of sawdust. Here’s what I like to do about pretentious veggies – in a plastic bucket, put one full shovel of manure, two shovels of organic compost, and half a kilogram of sawdust. Add some water and mix with something (I usually end up putting some surgical gloves on because it’s easier to mix that stuff with your hands). When you’re done, pour that mix over your veggies of choice and wait to see what happens.

Sawdust’s also a great and eco-friendly way to combat soil erosion. Some gardeners even use it for mulching.  Word of warning though – if you plan on using sawdust in conjunction with manure and compost, avoid walnut trees. Apparently, walnut wood contains a substance that kills plants without discrimination.

For when nature calls

Well, these are shitty times, which means that we always have to ensure that there’s at least one functional toilet around the house. This is not a problem for those of use leaving close to the woods, but what do you in case your city toilet gets clogged, or the water pump fails? Sure, you could go to a friend or neighbor’s house for number 2 or number one, but that’s hardly what I would call a solution. In the immortal words of Bear Grylls: adapt, overcome, and…. make a portable shitter.

It’s very easy to build one. Best of all, you’ll only need things that are usually found around the house. Here’s how to do it. Take a big plastic bucket and saw the top off. Get a second smaller bucket, and place it inside the bigger one. Fill the smaller one with a mixture of sawdust, kitty litter, and perhaps something to wish away the nasty smell. Now, go around the house and search for an old toilet seat and a plastic ring.

The latter should be thin enough to slide in the narrow gap created by the two buckets. Use some epoxy to glue the plastic ring to the bottom part of the toilet seat. Congrats! You’ve just built your first portable emergency toilet. When the potty fills up, take out the second bucket, discard in the compost pile or heavy-duty garbage bag, and refill with sawdust and kitty litter.

Using as bedding for your cats and dogs

If you’re unable to get to the pet shop, you can use sawdust to fill your cat’s\dog’s poopy box. It may not be pretty, and your cat will surely have the murderous gaze in its easy, but at least your pet will not go number two on the carpet or bathroom tiles.

Provides extra traction

As you know, many counties made winter traction kits mandatory for drivers. A good thing too, because getting snowbound isn’t exactly relaxing. If you want to add more kick to your winter traction solution, try this trick. In a bag or bucket mixt kitty litter, sand, rock salt, and sawdust. It’s a great combo – litter, sawdust, and sand will provide you with extra traction while salt makes the snow melt.

Patching holes in woodwork

I was more than thrilled about my new home away from home. Mostly because I managed to convince the former owner to go way below the initial price. Well, long story short, there was a reason why the guy did this – the entire living room carpentry was full of holes as if someone had been using the walls for target practice or something. Obviously, the thing cost me a pretty penny, and I didn’t have much left to repair the walls. However, a fellow prepper told me that I could use sawdust to temporary fill the holes.

Yes, I know it was a piss-poor job, but at least the living room didn’t look like Swiss cheese. If you’re having the same problem, here’s what you will need to do – put a small amount of epoxy inside each hole. After that, take a handful of sawdust and fill the hole. Allow the glue to harden. Finally, give that wall a fresh coat of paint and, voila, no more holes.

Grow your own mushrooms

Remember my article about using coffee grounds to grow mushrooms? Well, there’s another way to grow a yummy-yummy batch of shrooms. The trick is to use Eastern Red Cedar sawdust. This might come as good news for people who have no love for coffee. Or for those who prefer coffee capsules over the regular variety.

The procedure’s more or less the same as in the case of using coffee leftovers. Get a plastic bucket, put some fresh dirt into it, add a handful of sawdust, add some stuff from your compost pile, mix, add some mushroom seeds, and store into a damp place. You’re welcome!

Well, that’s it on how to recycle sawdust. Do you have other ways in mind? Hit the comments section and share your thoughts with the rest of the community.

Probably the best thing about an off-grid home is that it kinda forces you to get back on speaking terms with things you wouldn’t do for all the money in

I decided to make beeswax soap for Christmas gifts last year.  It has been on my list of things I should probably know how to do and when my stepfather, who keeps bees, brought me seven pounds of beeswax from his hives, I thought the time was right.

I started my soap-making adventure with a recipe for beeswax soap from the book, “Beeswax Alchemy”.  This book contains directions for making candles, balms and bars, salves, cream and scrubs, soap, and even beeswax art.

BEESWAX – WHERE TO GET IT AND HOW TO HANDLE IT

You can either acquire your beeswax from a beekeeper, which I was fortunate enough to be related to, or you can buy it online and it comes in handy little balls that are easy to measure and melt.  The wax I had was in giant hunks which I sawed off with a bread knife.  I do not recommend this method.  It’s maddening.  Since then I have learned another method which would have saved me a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

First, beeswax becomes brittle when frozen and is much easier to cut.  Secondly, and I think I will go this route next time, the wax can be melted and poured onto a large cookie sheet lined with freezer paper.  Once hardened, the wax can be broken off into small chunks without sawing at it like a crazed butcher.

You can make soap without beeswax, however, I wanted to use the beeswax I had on hand because the scent is wonderful and it has conditioning properties that I wanted to in my soap.

LYE, LYE, LYE

Without lye, there is no soap.  Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is required to make the chemical reaction that makes soap.  Period.  I had seen lye in the hardware store for cleaning out drains and thought that there must be a softer, gentler lye available for making soap.   To my surprise, the lye I made soap with to give my loved ones was made with the same highly caustic chemical that will burn the eyes out of your head.  Since lye is so dangerous, I want to give you some tips:

  1. Measure everything correctly. This is not the time for measuring with your eyes, use a digital scale, it is most accurate. If your lye to fat ratio is off, or you have added too much beeswax you will waste your time because your soap will be sludgy or rubbery.
  2. Once you have added the water to lye, it’s all business. Wear clothing to cover your skin and protective eye-wear.
  3. When the water is added it creates fumes that should not be breathed in. I didn’t know this and I leaned over the pot of lye and took a deep breath.  I am still here, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  4. ONLY USE STAINLESS STEEL! The lye will react badly with other metals.  I bought a stainless steel pot that I use only for soap making.  I just cannot make mashed potatoes and serve them from the same pot that had a toxic chemical in it.  I am just weird that way.

Other equipment you need to make soap

  1. Immersion blender –  This is a luxury item.  You can mix all your ingredients up with a STAINLESS STEEL whisk, but I have to tell you, this blender made mixing so much faster and easier.
  2. Freezer paper – You can buy large rolls of it and it is essential for lining cardboard if you are making your own rectangular molds.  It is also nice to wrap the soap in and tie with twine to give as gifts or just to store for yourself.
  3. Soap molds vs. cardboard – If you use the cardboard and make a box (approximately the size of a bread pan) and line with freezer paper.  I bought a silicon soap mold that was the right size.  The advantage of a mold is that it will be more durable than cardboard over time and you don’t have to fool with the freezer paper.  You can get fancier molds that have lovely designs in them, but I opted for the box shape and cut with a blade for a more homesteader look.
  4. Fragrance – I bought essential oils and used the lemongrass. Any of the essential oils will work great, but I would buy the most concentrated possible so the scent is present.  You can combine scents to create something unique, or just use one of them for a distinguishable scent.

Beeswax Soap Making Material List

  • olive oil – 358g
  • coconut oil – 225g
  • palm oil – 177g
  • castor oil – 32g
  • beeswax – 7.2g
  • distilled water – 266g divided
  • lye – 111g
  • honey – 1 TBS
  • fragrance – 2 TSP
  • disposable paper bowl
  • stainless steel bowl for lye
  • stainless steel pot or microwave save container for oils
  • stainless steel whisk or immersion blender
  • digital scale
  • mold
  • freezer paper (if using cardboard)
  • digital thermometer

Yield – eight 4 ounce bars

How do you make soap?

  1. Measure out the lye and place in disposable paper bowl.

  1. Measure out 148 grams of distilled water and pour into stainless steel bowl. Place bowl onto heat resistant surface and then add dry lye crystals to water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY AROUND)  Stir until lye is completely dissolved.  Set aside to cool.

SIDE NOTE:  Those new to digital scales, this is for you.  When measuring ingredients, first select the TARE WEIGHT and then set the container that will hold what you are measuring (ex. plastic cup, bowl, etc.)  This will analyze the weight of the container so that weight is NOT included in the weight of the ingredients.  Then, once the TARE WEIGHT is selected, the scale should read 0.0 (give or take some zeroes) and then you can add the ingredients to be weighed.  If you are not using a digital scale you will have to weigh the container then add the ingredients and subtract the weight of the container to get actual weight of ingredients.

  1. Microwave the honey, 118g of remaining water, and microwave until dissolved.
  2. Prepare the mold.
  3. Heat all the solid oils and beeswax in a stainless steel pot. Add the liquid oils (excluding honey and water mixture) and stir.
  4. Check temperature of lye and the oils. This is crucial!  To keep beeswax from getting hard, the oils need to be around 120 F.  The lye needs to be 120 F as well.
  5. Now add honey water to the lye water ONLY when it has reached the correct temperature. Sometimes this will result in a color change, which is normal.

  1. Now pour the lye water into the oils and mix with the stainless steel whisk or the immersion blender.
  2. When the mixture begins to looks creamy, it has emulsified and this is the time to add your fragrance.
  3. Keep mixing until it looks like a light cake batter. This is called the trace.

  1. Quickly pour into prepared mold or cardboard container lined with freezer paper. Scrape every bit of residue from the pot with a high-temp spatula.

  1. Tap soap mold on the counter to remove air. Smooth out the top and cover mold with cardboard to hold heat in.
  2. In twenty-four hours the soap should be cool enough to cut. If it seems too soft, then wait and continue checking every 4-6 hours.  Once it is hard enough to cut into bars, I cut it with a blade made for cutting soap.  The handle and size made cutting more even and straight.  I wrapped my soaps in freezer paper and twine and stored them in a cool dry spot.
  3. I also allowed my soaps to cure for 30 days because more water will evaporate from them, resulting in a longer lasting soap bar. I hated the thought of going through this process only for the soaps to sludge away in the shower.

The finished product – looks like… soap.

END RESULT

Like anything else, there are pros and cons, here they are:

PROS

Making soap is a good skill to have under your belt.  One day you may not be able to drive to your local Walmart and pick up a bar of Ivory soap.

They make wonderful gifts!

It is natural and uses a bi-product produced by our dear friend, the honeybee.

This soap is the best if you have sensitive skin, eczema, or other skin conditions.  It will leave you clean without the drying effects of the cheaper commercial soaps.

CONS

The next time I make it, the cost will be significantly less, but it will definitely cost more than cheap drugstore soap.  You can always stock up on the cheap stuff in the event of an emergency and you can shower yourself clean with the best of them.  Personally, I like the idea of having a chemical-free, all natural way to clean up.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

I decided to make beeswax soap for Christmas gifts last year.  It has been on my list of things I should probably know how to do and when my stepfather,

Humanity has survived in some pretty frigid extremes, even before the advent of our sleek ski suits and long underwear. Even so, it doesn’t take all that much cold to start affecting our moods, physical capabilities, and eventually making us sick or endangering our lives. Whether bedding down in a sturdy home, on the move, or making a temporary camp for the snowy season, there are a lot of lessons we can take from history to keep us safer and more comfortable.

Tipi & Longhouse Fires

From the Vikings who dealt with some pretty gnarly conditions to the Native Americans on the East Coast, longhouses have been common throughout history. The general types share a few common traits. There’s a fire pit in the center, or several dotted in between, with sleeping or seating areas down the sides. The construction differs somewhat, with Vikings going for very solid, deep, permanent longhouses and only turning to higher floors and loftier ceilings later in history.

The First Nations and Native tribes who built winter longhouses typically built them with higher ceilings, which served the dual purpose of increasing space for storage and drying winter fish and game as well as allowing smoke to rise higher and out of faces. The higher ceilings also allowed them to vent smoke without as many drafts making it the floor.

The migratory Indians of the plains also turned to height to allow smoke to rise – yes, the large tipis of the Sioux and Lakota had fires inside them.

Tipis of original construction were seriously tall, and built with flaps that could be opened and closed near the tops. Natives could control openings to allow for ventilation but minimize drafts reaching the ground level. It took only a small fire to warm the conical space, with the shape helping to minimize rising heat loss. The shape also helped with resilience to the harsh winds of the Great Plains, and to shed snow and icy build-up when in winter camps.

We might not be able to build permanent homes to take advantage of every aspect of history, but we can apply some of the same facets, especially remembering that we need ventilation space – but it doesn’t have to be empty, wasted space. We will likely construct smaller shelters on the move, especially if we’re by ourselves, but the benefits of lessened heat loss, small space to warm, and buffering and withstanding winds and heavy snow or ice can make both a tipi shaped shelter or a geodome shape a good one to be familiar with.

Switch Sheets

Those Vikings and natives in their longhouses had another trick up their sleeve, just like everyone else in cold climates, ancient Samurai to modern Mongols: furs. When winter chilled bones, bedding was switched out so folks piled into thick, dense furs.

We might not be big into furs now, but we can still apply that. One, it was dense furs below as well as above. Throwing a comforter or blanket down over a mattress or the bottom sheet can be a fine way to buy a few degrees of warmth in winter. Likewise, instead of a sheet near the body, even a flannel sheet, the next time toes are cold, think about remaking the bed with a fuzzy flannel or fleece blanket between you and the quilt or comforter instead. Sheets are far easier and faster to wash and dry, but when it’s a difference of trying to sleep through tensed muscles or huddled together instead of stretching out and relaxing in comfort, it just might be worth it.

Backpacking in cool weather, I regularly carried a lightweight but fuzzy flannel blanket to line my bags with instead of my usual sheet. Even though my bags would have done the job, most likely and almost anywhere, the blanket also had a warm-and-fuzzy morale boost.

Caves & Construction

If we do have a chance to build from scratch, we might take note of the number of ancient and more modern folks who have survived winters by bunking down into caves. Deep places in the earth hold a more constant temperature. It may not be warm – an advantage in summer – but insulation can definitely be an aid over the lightweight and thin stick construction of today or single-layer bricks.

Erecting wraparound porches with or without screens, pulling drywall to pack in insulation, planting evergreen shrubs, or attaching greenhouses can all be ways to increase the “thickness” of our construction and help regulate the temperature inside our home.

Tapestries

Stone is not without its faults, even thick stone. Tapestries were originally conceived in the Middle Ages for a far different purpose than movable art. Originally, they weren’t ornate at all. In some cases they were plain straw mats or even animal skins. Humble or elaborate, they helped buffer residents from the cold and damp that seeped around stone and earthen walls.

We don’t have to have stone to benefit from the same. If we’re in a serious disaster, buffering our walls with blankets, quilts and comforters can provide us with the same insulated benefits. Especially if we have modern construction of planks, OSB, siding, and drywall, we might be served very well to invest in tarps and nails to line walls, and hunt up free and low-cost bedding and tablecloths at thrift stores, yard sales, and freebie websites.

Rushes for Floors

Another form of insulating used in early times on both sides of the Atlantic were rushes or straw laid across floors. Historians may have gotten it wrong though, and beyond the very earliest days, those rushes may have been woven into mats instead of strewn loose.

If you bring a bunch of dry grass into my house, I may have to hurt you. However, we can gain the same benefits layering carpets and rugs and runners.

I lived in an old farmhouse with such cold floorboards, my mother actually used to throw a quilt under a rug at the dining room table, and cover the living room floor in a comforter to get the dog beds and feet a little higher off the floor. She used another comforter or several sets of rugs under our beds, giving them just a few degrees of insulation from the cold boards – a few degrees that made a big difference.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune – we grew up pretty poor. She made the comforters herself out of thick padding and a couple of durable pieces of fabric, sometimes old curtains from hotels, and picked up carpeting from installation companies to clean, cut to size, edge and use as rugs. Like our ancestors before us, she saved clothing and scraps, and turned them into patchwork quilts – some lovely and intricate, but most just simple squares patched together.

Canopy Beds

In the olden days, the lucky and wealthy had canopy beds that helped tremendously in cold winter nights. It’s like an igloo or tipi: The curtains and the top create a smaller space to warm up, and it’s easier to keep warm. They also cut warmth-stealing drafts from the room, and help keep heat from rising all the way to the ceiling.

We can replicate aspects of the canopy bed in a lot of ways. My father really did once pitch tents atop beds during a long, severe blizzard. For a short-term disaster, we might have low enough beds and tall enough chairs to create a small space similar to a snow cave.

For a larger personal or widespread disaster, we can prepare with four, eight, or twelve poles from unwanted bamboo stands or swing sets, or pick up some lumber. Shower rods and curtain rods, more bamboo from a roadside, and tarps, freebie curtains, layers of free or cheap sheets, and we’re in business.

Stoves vs. Fireplaces

Benjamin Franklin revolutionized more than we may know. He’s responsible for the switch from fireplaces to home-heating cast iron stoves. Fireplaces tend to be drafty and require larger chimneys – chimneys not conducive to moving or taking apart for cleaning. The cast iron stove eliminates some of the cold air drafts drawn in by the fire and chimney. It also creates a huge heat sink that more effectively radiates warmth into and throughout a room.

We can replicate some of the advantages with metal grating in front of fireplaces, and fire bricks and stone that will hold and radiate heat. We can add metal pots of water in front of a fire or on a stove to increase heat retention and radiation. We can also add actual radiators to our chimneys, increasing the warmed surface areas that can in turn help warm and heat our homes.

Hoods & Caps

There are all kinds of funny hats in history, and they worked. The folks who wore – and wear – knit caps that come over the ears and big square bonnet-like hoods stayed warmer, in bed and out in the chilly world. If we anticipate a long-term or personal disaster in winter, some sleep caps and fur-lined or wool-lined hoods we can wear with anything are a very good idea.

Chamber Pots

While the wealthy eventually used them exclusively, the poorest and earliest users turned to chamber pots overnight to eliminate the need to expose themselves to the most severe cold hours, or the hassle of getting geared up to hit an outhouse or latrine. Honeypots are still a winter staple for some First Nations and Alaskan camps, where plumbing and outhouses freeze solid. In addition to the usefulness in winter, something to stand in for chamber pots (or bedpans) are worth the investment in case of illnesses.

Furry Friends

It’s not really a joke. Body heat is a wonderful thing, and nothing pumps it off like a cat. History and the modern world are full of anecdotes about cats and dogs being lap warmers, and being allowed in to share beds – especially with children in the pre-HVAC eras. Children were also packed into beds in winter to share warmth, both to be able to layer more blankets in a single space and because of the shared body heat. Explorers and hikers have spooned to survive in countless situations.

Modern Tricks for Staying Warm

Windshield reflectors (or Mylar blankets) – Place them under beds, sheets, or bedrolls, or behind you and behind a campfire to reflect heat back towards the body.

Create a smaller space – Divide rooms with curtains or panels, or hang curtains to close off entryways and large openings where there are no doors. It creates a smaller space to warm. Remember that heat rises, so as with a proper canopy bed, closing off the top is important.

Switch Curtains – While we’re collecting goodies for hanging, we can also collect darker, heavier fabrics to switch for the lightweight, pale summer curtains in our windows. They’ll help absorb and hold heat during the dull gray days.

Flip Fans – Ceiling fans help in summer by drawing heat up and creating a breeze. In winter, changing the rotation or in some cases flipping the blades can help push rising heat back down. It can save a few degrees on the thermostat, and the electricity or wood for heating the house or room those few degrees.

Stay Dry – Forget “wool is warmer when wet”. “Warmer” is a relative term. Wet wool will give you hypothermia, blisters, and chilled footsies just the same as leather, cotton, linen or hemp. It might buy you minutes or a few degrees, and that can matter, but don’t rely on it. If you get wet or sweaty, change; plain and simple. Avoid getting wet by investing in trash bags, overboots/Mickey boots, Mucs or Bogs or similar field boots, gaiters, ponchos and rain pants.

Snug As A Bug

History is full of lessons we can apply at home and afield, now and later, whether we’re trying to cut heating costs (or labor) or trying to survive and thrive in a disaster. Most require at least a little planning and forethought, although many can be accomplished with free and low-cost salvage.

The older we are and the more we abuse our bodies, especially, the more we will feel the pains and discomfort of cold weather. It can wind up costing us our edge from poor sleep, or affect our ability to complete even simple indoor tasks from cramped fingers.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be sub-zero to be uncomfortable, or for hypothermia to take effect. Start with the body and warm the smallest area necessary in a survival or disaster situation. With a little preparation, we can take advantage of all our forbearers’ experience to stay roasty-toasty, this winter and regardless of what the future brings.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

Humanity has survived in some pretty frigid extremes, even before the advent of our sleek ski suits and long underwear. Even so, it doesn’t take all that much cold to