Monday, June 29, 2015

Drying in the Sun

Many designs are out there for solar food dehydrators, but Naturewitch has one that is particularly interesting in being relatively pest-proof.  She even includes directions for creating "moats" to keep out ants.  More importantly, in a summer like we're having, it looks like it might be able to be made rainproof.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

B.O.M.B. Making 101

No, this isn't a recipe from The Anarchist's Cookbook, it's a variation on the Bug Out Bag: the Bug Out Medical Bag.  A souped-up version of a first-aid kit, these are more commonly known as gunshot wound or gunshot trauma kits.  Survivopedia has instructions on how to assemble your own for less than $100. The main components:
  1. Tourniquet
  2. Compression Bandages
  3. Suture Kit
  4. Splint/Sprain Wrap
  5. Blood Clotting Agents
  6. Miscellaneous

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Credit Card Survival....

No, this has nothing to do with financial advice....  People are taking notice of SurvCo's new Credit Card Ax.  While it is fairly unique to have something that can be turned into a hatchet be the size of a credit card, there are too many multi-tools to mention that fit that dimension.  Indeed, you could easily end up needing a second wallet if you got them all!

ReadyMan has an interesting break-apart version (shown on the right) which they are giving away for "free", plus shipping and handling.  They do have a video showing you how to use it they send a link to you when you order.  Of course, they do try to get you to sign up for a monthly membership in their organization.

One of the oldest and probably one of the best values is the 11-function one on the left.  I've had it so long I've forgotten where I put it!  It's hardly worth buying by itself, the shipping is more than the cost of the item.  My guess is any patent protections have run out, that's why there are so many inexpensive copies.

To my eyes, one of the sleekest of the genre is the Wallet Ninja.  Having a Phillips screwdriver is unusual in itself for a credit-card survival tool, but I think the function I would use most is the box cutter/letter opener; that's what I wish I had on my Gerber shard.  Interestingly, while I've never tried them yet, KnifeCenter lists 30 items in this category (although a number only differ by color), some of them quite pricey.

Perhaps the most whimsical of the entire bunch is the PocketMonkey.  At only 1 ounce and 1 mm thick, I don't expect it to be the most durable, but it might just be the most convenient to carry around -- they even say it is TSA compliant!

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over...

Much fuss is being made about the new NASA study that shows many of the world's aquifers are depleting.  Less is being said about solutions to the problem.  No Tech Magazine reports on a traditional solution in India, the johad.  This does not require lots of money, but it does require community effort.  The description of the way it works bears a strong resemblance to P. A. Yeoman's keyline system for distributing water.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Something Fishy about this Method of Farming...

Barry at has a rather extensive article about raising tilapia using aquaponics.  While it is an advertisement to sell you a book, unlike most of its kind, it lets you know upfront exactly what it is, and instead of teasing you with all the benefits you will get from buying the book, this article has information that is actually useful; insufficient for actually raising the tilapia, but extensive enough to make a decent decision whether this is something you might really be interested in.

Monday, June 22, 2015

13 Essentials for Survival

ScottishGent at The Survivalist Blog has updated the concept of 10 essential survival items to 13 categories of items to carry everyday or put in a get-home bag.
  1. Navigation
  2. Sun protection
  3. Insulation
  4. Illumination
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition
  9. Hydration
  10. Emergency shelter
  11. Signaling
  12. Personal Protective Equipment
  13. Self-Defense / Weapons
He goes into detail in the article.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dome Sweet Dome

Michael Matthews is offering plans for what he calls the "Ultimate Survival Fortress".  I haven't bought it (yet), but it seems to be a fairly standard earth-bag type of dome home.  That said, the price he is asking seems quite reasonable for the knowledge he seems to be providing (and I am not an affiliate, so I am not getting any commissions).  While $1 a square foot is literally a dirt-cheap price for living space, I certainly would not want to make a mistake after putting in dozens or maybe hundreds of hours of heavy labor.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fast Fresh Food...

Thoreau at Prep-Blog has some tips for saving time in the garden.  While it's a bit short, every bit helps, because if you're serious about growing your own food, it can be extremely time-consuming if you don't know what you're doing.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Pen is Mightier than A Sword...

Especially when it is a gun....

Survivopedia has instructions for turning pens into guns: either spring-loaded BB guns or rubber-band dart guns.

Now, I don't think they're legal where I live, but it's nice to have the knowledge if I ever end up somewhere the police aren't around for protection.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Keeping It Fresh....

Organic Authority has 8 Food Storage Options for Your Backyard Party.  I have and love the Pyrex, although I rarely use it for food storage, more for cooking, but it is nice to just put leftovers away without taking them out of the pan sometimes.  I have a few of an older style Anchor Hawking storage set, and they work great.  The rest I haven't tried, but they do look interesting, albeit a bit pricey.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hot, Hot, Hot...

M. D. Creekmore at The Survivalist Blog has 6 options for cooking without utilities.  While it is by no means comprehensive, it does give a nice range of possibilities.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Critical Points for Off-Grid Solar

Patty Hahne at Preppers Illustrated has some important things to consider in designing an off-grid solar power system.  Anything but the smallest flashlight-battery system will not be plug-and-play, and if you are expecting to just take it out of the box and have it work perfectly, you will be disappointed.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

3 Crucial Steps for Digging Water Wells

While I have no plans in the immediate future for digging a well for water, this article by Chris Black on Survivopedia looks like an extremely useful reference if I ever do need to.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

10 Healing Herbs

The admin at Homesteading Guide calls these the Top 10 Medicinal Herbs for Your Garden.  While I'm not sure I'd agree with their ranking, it definitely is an interesting list:

  1. Chamomile
  2. Calendula
  3. Peppermint
  4. Comfrey
  5. Lavender
  6. Hyssop
  7. Rosemary
  8. St. John's Wort
  9. Arnica
  10. Marsh Mallow

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dig This...

The guy is speaking in Russian (I believe), but it doesn't matter, the video on his Facebook page speaks for itself.  He's invented a cool tool to turn soil using bicycle handlebars.  The only unfortunate thing is it looks like he is demonstrating it on soil that has already been worked; I'd really want to see how it does on virgin soil.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

When It's A Cat's Ear....

When is a dandelion not a dandelion?

When it is Hypochaeris radicata, also known as Flatweed, False Dandelion, and Cat's Ear.  My mom asked me what the yellow flower out in the yard was, and my first answer was "DYC", which stands for "Damn Yellow Composite".  That gives some indication of the, um, "affection" botanists have for that class of flowers, because of the difficulty in narrowing down exactly what it is.  In the end, the Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-central North America on Google Books ended up being most helpful in coming up with an identification, but Dandelion and Cat's Ear made me confident that I had identified it correctly.

Learning more about it, Cats Ear is quite interesting.  It is edible, although it may be toxic to horses in large quantities.  Unlike dandelion, it is not supposed to be bitter, and like chicory, you can dry and grind the root for a coffee substitute.  I don't drink coffee, so I won't be trying that, and it's a bit late in the season to be eating the leaves, as they are probably quite chewy by now, but I look forward to sampling some next year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Preparing for Storms

While this article at Planning and Foresight is focused on winter storms, we're having some stormy weather this week.  Except for not needing so desperately to keep warm, there isn't that much difference between summer and winter storms.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Marking Contours with a Simple A-Frame Level

I'm getting ready to make an on-contour hugelkulture bed with upslope swale, so I've been looking for a quick and easy way to mark contours.  One of the best guides I've found is Hesperian's Community Guide to Environmental Health.  The linked page not only describes how make the A-frame level using just sticks, string, rocks, and (optionally) nails and maybe a bottle, but also where and how to make contour barriers to prevent erosion.