Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bow Drill Fire Making Class

So...this is fairly short notice...but I've put together a bow drill class two Saturdays out on October 22nd. This class is going to be about as in depth as one can be.  Extensive plant ID...collection of materials...making kits to take home...and practice.  It's a $40 class and it will be worth every penny as I save you hours and hours of frustration trying to figure it out on your own!  (I speak from experience!)  Click on the above flyer for info...and make sure you do contact me if you want to reserve a spot.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ron Hood Dies...

In case you hadn't heard...Ron Hood recently passed away.  Though I never personally met him...I consider him one of my greatest mentors in wilderness skills as I have repeatedly watched so many of his videos...and followed his teachings.  In my mind...this is a great loss to the preparedness he surely had so much more to teach.  Thankfully his wife will continue his work and his many videos are still available.  Clips of his videos are found on youtube and you can also purchase his work at his site

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Drilling Without Electricity

I love my cordless Dewalt hand drill.  It is so handy to be able to quickly screw in loose screws and drill holes.  But so many other conveniences we currently enjoy...runs on electricity. many of you believe that a plethora of circumstances could interrupt the infrastructure of our nation where we could find ourselves without electricity for very extended periods of time.  Or even on a more personal level...we may not be able to afford electricity in a hyperinflation situation...or other such situation.

Unless you have invested in those solar panels and charging system...or have some other means to charge your electric may be dead in the water to drill anything in a timely manner.  Which may not seem like a big deal...until you actually need to do it!

If you were to take a walk through grandpas carpentry shop back in the day you likely would have seen some hand crank contraption used to drill.  It  might have been in a "U" shape...or a type that used a corkscrew...or maybe an "egg beater" style. If you are lucky you might pick one of those up at a garage sale.  Many of them were really well made and will work as well for you as it did for grandpa.

I picked up a kind of "modern" version of grandpas that is an "egg beater" style.  It is fairly inexpensive and seems pretty durable...with it's metal on metal gears...and does a good job of making holes.  It also has good reviews on Amazon.  It's made by Schroeder...whom I assume is a company formed by that kid who played piano on "Peanuts" after his music career didn't pan out.

It is also a great tool to teach carpentry to younger children.  While I would be quite wary of putting a big drill in a childs hand...this one I could practically leave a child unattended with and not have to worry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brain-tanning Workshop (Potentially)

A friend of mine named Adam is trying to organize a class...bringing Tamara Wilder out to the Sacramento area to do a brain-tanning workshop.  She is the co-author of "Buckskin The ancient art of brain-tanning"...which many consider to be THE book on the subject.

This skill allows for the possessor of the knowledge to be able to make an incredibly useful and durable material from a variety of animals skins.

It should be $250ish for the tanning workshop...and maybe $100ish for an animal processing workshop.

If you have interest in attending please contact Adam at... 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Debris Hut...

Apart from being an author of a Wilderness Survival book...Michael Pewtherer has a handful of videos on youtube.  I really like the videos...and think he's pretty cool too.  One of these days I'll be interested to check out his book.  Here is a great training he did on a method of making a debris hut.  The most cozy looking debris hut I've ever seen.  It's in two parts.  The sort of hut you would want to know how to make to survive...or just be more comfortable in the wilderness.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Second After...

My local public library has a variety of audiobooks available for download.  I read a lot...and like the idea of being able to "read" from time to time without the effort involved with having to concentrate on the pages of a book.  And free from the library suits me well.

I went ahead and listened to a book called "One Second After".  I won't attempt to rehash the plot...other than to say that it is a about a small town dealing with the effects of an EMP.  Read more on the Amazon page if you want more details than that.

It was a grim story.  A coarse life that could one day be our reality.  While some preparedness types may spend their energies dickering over the plausibility of every scenario in such a book...for me the value is how it gets me thinking about what I would do if faced with similar situations...and how I would want to be prepared for such times.  It  reminded me that it would be good to have a sling on my shotgun!

The book is loaded with moral conundrums regarding a parents desire to take care of self and family...and the difficulties one faces trying to balance that with taking care of a community that is also very needy.  Such a book serves as a slap in the wake us up from our complacency and ingratitude for the blessings we currently enjoy.

Be warned that just like in real life...this book has some ugly characters saying and doing ugly things.  It also has people that show themselves to be selfless and good...people we all ought to aspire to be like.

I also want to mention that the man who read the audiobook was incredible!  He made the voices of little girls...old southern men...gruff talking tough guys...etc.  I wouldn't be surprised if he had 100 different characters to make up a voice for in the course of the book!  Excellent job.

This is a book that I will remember.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Angle on Car Kits...

Being prepared for whatever may come seems to be made up of two things.  Knowledge and stuff.   Knowledge is the how to make something edible with a bucket of wheat....stuff is the bucket of wheat.  Of course...baring you don't take a nasty blow to the head or contract "old timers"...your knowledge will go with you wherever you go.  Nice and light...easily packed in your brain.

Stuff on the other hand has to be kept somewhere.  And the challenge is to have it accessible when the need arises.  If we all never left our homes...then having all of our supplies kept at our home would work out great. as we are...having stashes of "stuff" in other places is wise.

One of the places that preparedness types generally advocate having emergency supplies is in a persons car...and I think wisely so.  Especially as so many of us spend so much time driving around.  The challenge is deciding what to put in your car.  There are minimalist kits...that basically just have some water...some snacks...medical supplies...a knife...etc.  Tiny things that could be stashed under a seat of a car.  The downside is that you may leave out some valuable gear that could prove useful in an emergency.

Then on the other extreme you could put enough gear in your car to comfortably go camping.  The challenge with packing comprehensively is that...especially with a growing may not have room to function from day to day!  Where will you put the groceries!!

Something to to get one of those roof cargo carriers and stash your gear overhead...out of sight out of mind.  Instead of just having it on the roof for a weekend could just have it up there all the time.  If you pay attention you will notice that lots of people do just leave them on top of their cars.  A few points about overhead cargo carriers...

1.  Many of them are super streamlined and don't require being taken off before pulling into a garage.
2.  Many have good locks on them to keep your gear relatively safe.  If theft is a might put your less expensive gear in it.
3.  They are often on craigslist available for half their price new.
4.  Probably the most popular brands in my area are Yakima and Thule.  Sears has also made one for a long time called x-cargo.
5.  There are ways to mount these to even the smallest of cars...or cars without any sort of rack system.  You may have to consult with a place like REI to figure out what you need.
6.  The cargo carriers come in a plethora of sizes.  Some are designed to just hold a few pairs of skis...while I've seen others that hold 21 cubic feet!

If you opt to do this...understand that this could be for major emergencies...all the way down to having a long sleeve sweater on an unexpected chilly night...or a stash of diapers when they are sorely needed...or whatever else your imagination can think of.  The End.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Iron Age Forging...

No....not foraging.  Forging!

I took this week long class with Ruskin Mill last year and had a wonderful time.  We went down to the creek and dug up a bunch of clay...mixed it with some sand...and made forges directly on the ground...using materials that could be found most anywhere.  Then we forged a variety of useful and beautiful items out of pieces of a junk car.  As I type this...the knife I'm wearing on my belt I forged out of a cars suspension spring!  I also designed the handle and carved it out of scandinavian birch...which looks quite lovely when oiled up.

We also covered some friction fire with bow drill...and how to make charcoal from raw materials.

What I really took away from the class was an increased sense of self reliance...that I can put together a forge with found materials...and shape metal into a variety of shapes as needed.  Plus it was fun!

Arian Leljak who teaches the class is also a great teacher.  Very patient and yet intense...and not one to settle for poor work..for himself or his students.  If you live in my area and are able to attend you will not be disappointed.

For the bulk of you who do not live in my area...perhaps you could seek out someone to teach you this skill.  Yet one more valuable skill to add to your preparedness bag.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


You know those little hand warmers that have been around for years that are rubbed together and then a chemical reaction happens inside?  Pretty cool.  Especially to the person stuck out in the cold with numb hands!  When put in that position...what a treat it is to stick one's hands into a warm pocket...or to rub it on another cold body part!!  While these warmers may be seen as just a way to increase some is also possible that having a heat source like this could save one from getting frostbite in a pinch.  There are people that would tell you that it did just that for them.

Despite their preparedness value...I don't have any of these in my emergency bags.  Why?  Well...because I believe the word of Jim Phillips who says they have a very limited shelf life.  Something like having a battery that is losing its charge just sitting in storage...until one day they won't work at all.  If a person doesn't have a regularly scheduled regiment of going through their emergency bags to make sure that all of their supplies are still good...then they may one day find that they will have just as much luck getting heat from rubbing a tea bag between their hands!

I am also reluctant to purchase preparedness items with one time use.  I love items that I don't have to worry about running out.  That is why I have been such a big advocate of the Sawyer water filters that back flush and can be used theoretically indefinitely (as I know many of you are we bought so many!!)

Now...thanks to the miracles of science...or perhaps black magic...there are hand warmers that can be used and reused!!!  They are plastic bags filled with a benign product called sodium acetate.  There are now a ton of videos on youtube describing how they work.  Watch those videos to learn more.

If you go looking for companies selling will find that there are a growing number of distributors...the warmers come in all different shapes and sizes...and that the prices are all over the place.  Generally you are going to get the best deal by purchasing them in bulk.  I purchased 100 from a seller on Ebay named Newcat619 who sold me them for $2 each (including shipping) which was as good a deal as I could find.  Even better than buying direct from China.  (You know...the country that manufactures most everything for the US).  Newcat619 sells "Heatinaclick" which is a more name-brandy sort of version of the product.  Featured on the "Today Show" and that sort of thing.

I have also heard that people have found these warmers at the "Dollar Tree"...though I have never confirmed that.

I have sent these with my children to school on chilly days...then they bring them home...we boil them up...set them out to cool...and they are ready for the next chilly day!  We purchased enough for all of our emergency bags...some for daily use...a few to give away...and a few to accidently lose!

A great product to consider for your preps! can find videos of people on Youtube showing you how to make your own.  You can actually go on EBAY and find people selling sodium acetate so you can make your own warmers.  Personally...I'd rather just purchase them done...but to each their own!

Monday, April 4, 2011

US Mormons Preparing...and Rising LDS Canning Center Costs...

A front page story today talked about how the Mormons and being "spurned" by what they have seen in Japan to increase their "survival" preparations.  I hope they do!  Hopefully they can still afford to get together the things they will need for their well as have some to share/barter in times of distress.

I have thought for sometime seemingly artificially the canning centers prices are.  Well...a new price list was passed onto me...and the prices are drastically going up!!   An average increase of 19.71%!  Quick oats went up 61.93%!!  It's going to cost a lot more to stock up on the basics.  Just a taste of how food and other commodities prices can jump up overnight.  

Black Beans$13.20$16.8027.27%
Pinto Beans$17.45$18.556.30%
White Beans$12.55$16.0027.49%
Dry Milk, Nonfat$41.65$47.2013.33%
White Rice$10.00$13.8538.50%

White Wheat
Apple Slices


Quick Oats
Regular Oats
Dry Onions
Potato Flakes

Refried Beans
Hot Cocoa Mix$33.50$38.9516.27%
White Flour
Fruit Drink Mix$27.75$31.3012.79%


Saturday, February 26, 2011

2nd Annual Buckeye Gathering...

The native peoples that inhabited (and still inhabit) California (and a host of other places) were not the misled hands off nature conservationists that exist today...nor were they on the other extreme stripping the earth of its resources.  They were the ultimate managers of the land...thankfully using what they needed and tending resources to be there for the future.  Hundreds and hundreds of years of observation and trial and error imbued their peoples with a knowledge of how to use the lands resources...not just to survive...but to thrive.  While our land has but a shadow of the resources that once existed here...we can still use what is left of that increase our awareness of the natural world and how to use and not abuse it.

It's hard to describe...but there is something that is just so satisfying about going for a nature walk and noticing a game trail...or collecting materials and weaving a useful basket...or seeing a mushroom growing and collecting it for lunch...or starting a fire using just sticks...of hearing a bird song and knowing what it might be talking about.  It is a path to really understanding and appreciating the works of the Great Creator.  A path of true self reliance...not dependent on gadgets and manmade materials as so many of us are today.

While much of the knowledge of the native peoples has been lost as they have died...and as successive generations have become is wonderful that there are still groups that are working to keep such knowledge alive.  I went to the first annual Buckeye last year and had a life changing experience.  It's a family friendly environment...with classes running ALL DAY from top notch instructors.  A week long camping trip hanging out with really nice and smelly earthy folks wearing buckskins!  (just keeping it real!)  To learn more and to register...visit their site.  I hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Preserving Important Documents...

I've heard the question asked many times..."If your home was on fire...your family was all safe outside...and you could only take out 3 things before the house burned down...what would they be"?  It seems that most people that respond to this sincerely (after joking about big screen TV's)...generally mention things that would be difficult or impossible to photographs...sentimental items like stuffed animals...home movies...important documents...and so on.  I am left to wonder...if someone were really to try to collect those things to get the door REALLY long it would take to collect all those things?  Photographs are likely hung in frames...or on a computer...or in a plethora of photo albums.  Home videos might be scattered through the home on old VHS tapes...on tiny tapes...or on computers.  Important documents like birth and marriage info...and others may also be in disarray.  Without the luxury of might have a really difficult time collecting all of the items on their list.  I also wonder if they would physically be able to carry those items?

While there are a myriad of valuables where only the original will suffice (like a stuffed animal)...a great many of those irreplaceable items can be shrunk down and stored digitally.  Even a tiny keychain sized 16gb flash drive like the one pictured above can hold upwards of 14k photographs!!  16gb might be enough to hold every important document you own!  You might just stay on the curb and watch your home burn if everything you felt you needed was on a flash drive in your pocket.  The Patriot xporter flash drive is nice too because it is fast...has great reviews...and may withstand weathering like going through a washing machine.

I am by no means a computer tech.  Of course there are all kinds of opinions from tech to tech as to which brands are best...and which document back-up methods are best.  Some people like to back files up on DVD's.  Some like to back files up onto portable external hard drives.  (Which may be necessary for people with lots of home videos and other large files)  Some people are now even paying for back-up services that use off-site hard drives.

Now as far as how to do it.  If you are computer may either have to learn how and pick up some equipment (like a scanner)...or pay someone else to do your work for you.  Here is a site that discusses some of the "how".  When it comes to archiving old home video and audio...there are services out there that will take your old reel to reel and make it into a format you can enjoy without all kinds of defunct equipment and make it ready to be put onto run out the door.  A good friend of mine does that work and could help you tremendously...his name is Judd.

Whatever methods you is wise to get them all collected now and stored that when and if the day comes that you have to leave your home in a have it ready to go!