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.  But...mobile 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 family...you may not have room to function from day to day!  Where will you put the groceries!!

Something to consider...is 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 trip...you 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 fear...you 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.