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Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF

 
Anonymous Coward
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08/29/2012 04:50 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
[link to onlineathens.com]
Link detailing the phytochemicals in pawpaws for lice treatment.
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08/29/2012 06:07 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
5 up
Anonymous Coward
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09/01/2012 01:57 AM
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The simplest method of harvesting salt from seawater


Each time the seawater has evaporated, then the contents are then moved over into the next concentration pans, and so on. By doing it this way, you have a system of concentration amounts, and then you end up with sodium chloride precipitating out in the FINAL container. Earlier salts may be any number of other salts, don't use them. Only collect salt from the final one.

Obviously salt will attract wildlife, so the entire operations should be contained and yet exposed to the sun to maximize evaporation. I'm thinking some kind of netting would be handy here.

Mineral licks of other kinds of salt attracted wildlife, and as such made them primary hunting grounds.

Salt in a post-collapse is extremely valuable as it's difficult to acquire for most people except those on the coast. As the salt get traded and moves inland, then naturally the price goes up quite a bit.

It's very hard to preserve meats without salt. Better stock up now while it's cheap.
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09/01/2012 02:14 AM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
Preventing Nutritional Deficiency: Zinc

[link to www.healthaliciousness.com]

In a Western diet, chockful of vitamin fortified food, it's very hard to experience zinc deficiency. Believe it or not, many prepared foods are not that healthy, but have had vitamins and minerals added in to make them healthier.

In a post-collapse, many nutritional deficiencies and maladies will return. Because the amount of wild game will NOT be adequate, gardening will be vital, and even so, that's all based upon access to land and being able to see it come in to harvest and based upon theft and weather.

Read the link above about all of the pre-existing health conditions that will come back in full force with a lack of zinc. Often this can easily be prevented by saving and roasting: squash, watermelon, and pumpkin seeds. Most people would throw these away, but you're going to start thinking like a pioneer and save everything that has value.

In some cases, young boys who don't get enough zinc will fail to achieve puberty since zinc activates testosterone. Naturally when someone is malnourished that also is going to affect sex hormone biochemistry too.

Since many of the sources of zinc are meats and oysters, unless you've got an active garden and have adequately prepared, I doubt there will be many vegetarians post-collapse. You eat whatever you can find, hunt, and store.

Obviously having some vitamins on-hand and rotating them will get you through the first few months, but then the inevitable decline in adequate meal choices and also the limitations on season will determine what vitamins and minerals can be located in wild edibles, gardening, hunting and trapping.
Anonymous Coward
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09/01/2012 01:31 PM
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Why you should be storing lentils

[link to www.survivalblog.com]

This is an excellent article about the importance of lentils as a staple for your pantry especially for a collapse. The primary benefit is the fast cooking time and quick preparation time versus dried beans. There are few ways of prepping beans fast that don't result in chewy bean stews.

There are many lentil recipes found online and it produces a fine taste that easily absorbs spices to alter the flavor.They are very nutritious.

Like beans, by adding in rice or corn, you get complimentary essential amino acids which create a vegetarian dish. One shouldn't eat monodiets of one food item as that will eventually create a deficit of the proper building blocks for creating and maintaining protein in the body.
Anonymous Coward
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09/01/2012 02:33 PM
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Drought affecting the soil and causing home foundations to crack
[link to www.startribune.com]

This is especially an issue in heavy clay soil. Look for more news items on this in persistent drought areas. A cracked foundation is one of the worst possible repairs and guarantees no one will want the home for resale.
Anonymous Coward
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09/02/2012 04:37 PM
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Preventing Nutritional Deficiency: Pellagra (B3)

Pellagra was a common nutritional deficiency in the US South as recently as the early 20th century. Because corn can be grown in much of the US, niacin (B3) is available, but not bioavailable unless it is treated with lime (calcium hydroxide). The First People found that mixing lime made from burnt crushed shellfish shells or bird shells resulted in their maize (corn) mixing better for tortillas or flatbreads, and as a result prevented pellagra by accident. You'll do the same by creating your own lime in the same manner.
[link to en.wikipedia.org (secure)]
[link to en.wikipedia.org]
[link to www.livestrong.com]
[link to www.healthaliciousness.com]

Niacin is also found in many meats as well as peanuts and tomatoes.

[link to emedicine.medscape.com]
Anonymous Coward
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09/02/2012 04:50 PM
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Preventing Nutritional Deficiency: Essential Amino Acids

While our bodies can take the building blocks of various plants, animal, and fish (and even insect) proteins and make many of the amino acids we need, it's not possible to make them all. Even the ones that we can make, the biochemical process requires a lot of precursors chemicals, water, and energy to re-manufacture what is needed. This means the most logical way is to vary the diet with as many diverse amino acids including the essential ones that we cannot make.

Here's some links which describe foods that are rich in them:
[link to www.tandurust.com]
[link to en.wikipedia.org]
[link to hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu]

Combining foods is the normal way that humans learned to cope with proper nutrition based upon whatever made the tribe strong over the long haul plus dealing with taste and and the desire for variety. This is why a tribe plans the harvest, goes through periods of malnutrition too as seasons come and go and the food stores will not be adequate.

Because food doesn't always store well, but increased intake leads to internal fat stores, this allows the body to cope as well. There will be few overweight folks post-collapse as getting enough calories without grocery stores will be impossible.

Obviously while being a vegetarian is admirable and logical in the long run, in a collapse it is just about impossible unless you live on an intensely worked diverse farm. Soybeans are a wonderful source of nutrition, but not without their own issues if overeaten by the tribe.
Anonymous Coward
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09/02/2012 04:57 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
Tree Crops: Carob bean pods

One of the trees that J Russel Smith was trying to get Americans to grow was the carob. It contains an enormous amount of nutritional value, but of course has specific climate requirements. If the carob grows in your area, you'll want to be foraging for it. Here's some links which describe the benefits of eating and growing it.
[link to archive.org]
[link to nutrition1.knoji.com]


Anonymous Coward
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09/03/2012 02:53 PM
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Low tech ways to move heavy items or move dirt

Hopefully you're starting to see the necessity of creating ways to move very heavy objects now that you're considering the need to move large amounts of unfiltered water from the source of it to your neighborhood. Recently Survival Blog found a link on Chinese wheelbarrows at Low-tech magazine. The wheel on a Chinese wheelbarrow is located in the middle of the wheelbarrow versus the traditional front end, and as such, very little lifting is needed. The operator is steering the cart only, which will really save your back. Other methods are found at the second link to not only move heavy items but also as low tech earth moving equipment. You most certainly will not have petroleum driven equipment.

[link to www.lowtechmagazine.com]
ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/CDrom/FAO_Training/FAO_Training/General/​x6708e/x6708e04.htm

Imagine your car running out of gas, and then all your gear will need to be pushed to the next location. Likewise if you needed to relocate, if you had a Chinese wheelbarrow, then you'd be able to haul far more items.

Many times people with gardens have made their own garden carts too. These usually have twin bicycle tires and are made very inexpensively and can haul a lot more than a standard wheelbarrow.
[link to gardencartblog.blogspot.com]
Having one of these, especially with a bicycle would means being able to haul around things much easier. Many are made to be foldable too.
[link to www.gardentownsuites.com]
Anonymous Coward
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09/03/2012 05:51 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
Helpful wild edibles: Hibiscus tea

While much of hypertension is avoidable due to diet, we tend to take medicines rather than lose weight to deal with it. During a collapse, we'll have few medicinals available to us. And so, the sudden loss of blood pressure medicine will result in an intense renewed lack of control.

All is not lost. Slowly over time, as our weight returns to some sense of normalcy, we can also gather the flowers of the hibiscus and brew a tea. This is a drink that's enjoyed the world over as it's not only delicious but thirst quenching and reduces average systolic blood pressure.

[link to en.wikipedia.org]

Changes are good that there's some hibiscus growing in your neighborhood. It is easily identified. Why not poke around and survey your area to see if you have some? It can also be cheaply purchased as dried flowers in almost any ethic grocery store too.


Your kids will love you for making it!


This video shows how easy it is to harvest.
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Making dye from natural sources

After a collapse, you'll want to change your apparel as they get stained, especially whites. It's very easy to find plants to color clothing. Things like onions skins or flower blossoms or berries have been used on the frontier to dye the wool and flax that was harvested. You'll need a mordant too as while clothing can easily be dyed, it will also bleed out the dye in the wash. A mordant is usually made from salt and or urine as these were common methods of fixatives. Here's a link:
[link to www.pioneerthinking.com]

Naturally hibuscus blossoms make a great purple. Polkweed berries were also used, but more often they were saved to make ink.
Anonymous Coward
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09/03/2012 06:14 PM
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Helpful wild edibles: sumac tea

Sumac berries are easily gathered and usually abundant. Here's a video showing how simple it is to make an alternative citrus-like drink:


While lots of articles have been written on the value of sumac tea as a sort of lemonade, few people mention that since it creates a sense a lemon-like flavor, that's very useful for cooks to add variety for cooking. The same is true for vintners who are looking for a way to add a citrus note to their wine.

Sumac berries have been ground and used as a spice as well:
[link to voices.washingtonpost.com]

[link to www.eattheweeds.com]

Think too, who will need extra vitamin C...just about everyone in your party due to malnourishment, but also pregnant mom's who are eating for two (or more), anyone with a wound that need healing, a broken bone that needs lots of vitamin C to help it to knit, etc. Sometimes you need something to acidify your urine (tannic acid) to help with a bladder infection. Or maybe you just need something to help with digestion or gas or both. Maybe you need an expectorant? Maybe you're helping an alcoholic treat their terribly damaged liver.

Since it can be dried and stored, this will help you get through seasonal periods when vitamin C sources are limited too.
Anonymous Coward
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09/03/2012 06:39 PM
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Helpful wild medicinal plants: Jewelweed

As you begin foraging and exploring, no doubt you'll come across poison ivy. Since it exudes an oil, that material will get on your clothes and this is most likely how you end up with a rash. Realize that you'll not be washing clothes very often post-collapse, and so this is a very big problem for hunter/gatherers.

The first thing to do is wash off your skin very well with strong soap. You want to remove the oils in order to minimize amount of rash.

If you're lucky, you'll find a flowering jewelweed. It's also called a touch-me-not as the seed pods burst when touched, something most children love to play with. Here's some information on making a concoction to neutralize the irritation. This ingredient is the primary ingredient to Preparation H, so it's useful for almost any skin irritation from stinging nettles or whatever.



[link to www.annarbor.com]

[link to www.wildmanstevebrill.com]

[link to www.straightcreekvalleyfarm.com]
[link to www.monticello.org]

In my mind, those little flowers are incredibly lovely and akin to orchids. By gathering and preparing and storing this very helpful plant, you'll protect your family later when there's no drugstore to get the medicines you need.

Parts of the plant can be eaten for nutrition but the one caveat is that anyone prone to kidney stones should avoid it due to it's high calcium oxalate.
Anonymous Coward
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09/03/2012 10:09 PM
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A reality check about a potential Great Depression

When you study history, you get a better in depth look at the events that shaped that period, and then you can often see other periods in history in which similar events occurred. When you do that, you cannot help but notice that often people respond in much in the same manner despite their cultural differences.

Now a lot of people are assuming that when the next Great Depression fully occurs, that it's immediate dog-eat-dog, and my personal sense of that is that while it's plausible, I don't think that this will happen.

It's true, that people long ago had more agrarian knowledge and pioneer skills. As a result of already living in a somewhat frugal manner, but losing their life savings, they had to tighten their belts (literally something that's done to feel less hunger), and began growing more food, taking terrible jobs, and trading and bartering instead of taking cash.

Now today, post-FDR, we have a huge amount of government aid. People have become used to the government always finding a way to give to the people in order to acquire votes. As such, people most often expect that the government will come to the rescue, and it's possible that this will happen. The price of such government assistance may be horrific in the long term, but in the short term will keep some people alive.

No government will deliberately allow the electricity, natural gas, and water infrastructure to go belly up. Doing that will certainly mean mass riots as most people have no ability to cope for long term electrical disconnection. However what's far worse is simply no water, as any reader of my posts will consider the enormous difficulty and health risks of a lack of drinking water, much less hygiene.

What might happen is a slow decline of government services and an inability to pay government aid. As the government goes bankrupt, people will purchase progressively cheaper and cheaper food and/or eat less.

Naturally in such an event, many people will lose their homes, but we haven't seen massive foreclosures allowed to progress at any time in history. It's possible the banks could foreclose on the homes in order to have some sense of assets, but they also owe money all over to the Federal Reserve as well as depositors. I highly doubt that the government would bail out the banks and then use soldiers in order to repossess homes. That's about what would have to happen as municipalities couldn't afford to pay their police or sheriffs. The alternative would be private security hired to foreclose, but still they have to pay them something.

What might happen is a complete breakdown of medicines and medical care, and as a result a huge amount of deaths within the first couple of months. Then we'd see malnutrition and outright starvation, and as they happened with have tremendous riots. Even during the Great Depression, sometimes farmers and citizens demanded food benefits of some kind, and vouchers were given for minimal food and seeds for gardens.

We're a spoiled people, used to tremendous abundance, and this is the most worrying aspect of people dealing with a Great Depression event. Sure a lot of people might riot and loot and temporarily fill their bellies or steal items. What then? As all of these stores restock constantly to save money on inventory costs, there won't be any further shipments.

What's more likely is city officials might commandeer store items with temporary vouchers. By seizing control of the inventories, the officials have control versus the items being looted. I would expect this to occur as federal officials pass along their tacit approval to do so. What's troubling is who would get this food or supplies?

This past year, if you've been reading along, there's seldom been any mention of using weapons or even hunting techniques. I hope you're researching that kind of thing independently as it's such a political hot potato. I'm more interesting in teaching you ways to cope based upon tried and true methods used on the American prairie and homesteaders as they expanded Westward. I've also deliberately given you modern methods utilized in 3rd world nations for digging wells and water purification too. Together, I hope that you've gleaned enough skills or at least whetted your appetite to learn more.

Real wealth ultimate comes from producing, harvesting, foraging, and growing items. It comes from being able to own land and build a home on it with your own two hands. It comes from creating items from cobbled materials and then trading them too. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of this, and now we'll have to go through a period of adjustment to re-learn how to do all those things. Unless you live in a country devoid of natural resources, you still have the ability to create things or grow them.

The harsh reality is that Mother Nature provides, as well as the Source, but we have too many people living in concentrated areas that cannot realistically provide enough timber, rock, food, game animals or livestock, etc. They'll be movements of people out of the concentrated metropolises into what few rural areas remain. Even that will be very difficult as many people don't have skills and so they'll eek out a subsistence level for a period and probably die as they can't learn fast enough to prosper.

Many people may decide to literally dig a hole in the ground and support it with a wooden skeleton and live in the National Forests. I highly suspect a lot of people will attempt to do so. Even if they did, they'd eat all the game quickly. There's not enough any more, not by a long shot.

Yes, the crap may hit the fan, but most likely it'll be a terrible decade of struggling, lots of deaths, starvation, and failure to cope. I'd expect a lot of deaths from deliberate or unintentional causes through that process. Sometimes people can't cope and during the Depression, men took off and abandoned their families. Sometimes the parents died and there were a lot of orphans.

Yes, we may enter another world war, as that did ramp up industry during WWII. It's plausible, but we live in a post-nuclear world now. The consequences of a major offensive on multiple fronts will be completely new. What's also plausible is a military coup d'etat, a frightening idea that might happen from such bedlam. Even if that occurred, you'd have little ability to feed people...only soldiers. The military is NOT a police force, and so just as we've seen terrible abuse in the 21 Century, we'll see far worse if this happens.

I can definitely see people electing to enter government controlled facilities to manufacture and live in exchange for goods and services. I shudder at the thought.

After the loss of market confidence, many wealth folks bought up assets for pennies on the dollar. That will happen again for those with hard assets.The concentration of wealth in such a world may be as intense as the time of the Roman empire and far exceeding any kind of feudalism.

The antidote to all of that is life skills. I hope that somehow a few of you may survive because you took some of this to heart.
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09/03/2012 10:57 PM
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Anonymous Coward
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09/04/2012 09:25 PM
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A video showing the ease of making a biosand water filter

[link to www.biosandfilter.org]

I've seen lots of bad information of making these. The primary importance is waiting for up to four weeks to allow the sand to develop the biological culture which will assist in digesting the pathogens left behind by sand filtration. In other words, you need to store enough water for about a month in order to allow the culture to get strong enough to consume those pathogens, then the sand layer creates an anaerobic zone (lacking oxygen) which kills some, and slowly filters the remaining amount. No filtration system kills all. This removes about 97% when uses in this manner.

The biosand filter is not merely just straining out the pathogens, but also digesting them.

Why use charcoal? It's really about taste quality. That means you use the charcoal on the output end. It's the final filtration step.

Any introduction of soap into the filter will bugger it up. Don't allow well meaning folks to try to clean the operation up and kill the helpful culture that's killing pathogens.

If you use a prefilter, then you rid a lot of debris from clogging it up. See, that's common sense.

This is the most likely filtration system for a community to use, and will require maintenance to replace the sand and charcoal periodically, and then allowing more time to create the new culture. Which means, obviously it's easier to have others on standby to create a water and not to have to wait, and to filter all the rainwater you'll need as it comes down and then putting that in a clean reservoir.

A few careless people will accidentally contaminate the whole thing.

Note that while wells are commonly dug in 3rd world nations, they can easily be contaminated by garbage and fecal matter. Therefore the biosand filter is used in conjunction with a well too to insure purity.
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09/04/2012 09:35 PM
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Making a final charcoal filter to improve taste

Here's a video which describes simply removing the old spent charcoal and putting in fresh activated charcoal. Post-collapse, you'd make your charcoal using a simply metal tin canister and using hard wood to create it.

Then the water that exited from your biosand filter would then pass through the charcoal filtration for drinking and cooking water to improve the taste. Obviously you only want this for those functions and not for washing water.
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09/04/2012 11:14 PM
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How many trout would I have to catch, clean, cook, and consume to maintain my weight if I am an average man?

A lot of less than sensible folks are assuming that in the event of a SHTF scenario, they'll carry a backpack and bug out and “live off the land”. It's hard not to laugh, but at least they're thinking about prepping. If it was that simple, then homelessness wouldn't be a major issue. We'd all be hunter/gatherers in nomadic tribes rather than developing agriculture and animal husbandry and civilization.

Assume for the moment that there's an endless supply of trout in an unpolluted stream with no competition whatsoever, and almost effortlessly you harvest the food in warm weather and practically sedentary (as most Americans are today).

The recommended dietary allowance in broad strokes for a sedentary guy is 2000 calories a day. Since we're being unrealistic to the extreme, that guy needs to take in about 600 calories as protein, 500 calories as fat, and the other 900 as carbohydrates.

Let's say that you fish and catch 5 fish which you then cleaned and ate to get 590 calories. Pretty lucky and not realistic, yeah? That fish provided 85 grams of protein and 25 grams of fat.
[link to nutritiondata.self.com]

You collected, cleaned, processed, and roasted acorns too, and ate 8 ounces of them to get 1142 calories. The acorns provide 16 grams of protein and 72 grams of fat and 120 grams of carbohydrates.
[link to nutritiondata.self.com]

You've harvested maple syrup and have it on hand and eat ½ of a cup too to get 420 calories, ½ gram of fat, and 108 grams of carbohydrates.
[link to nutritiondata.self.com]

You eat mixed greens of violets and baby dandelion leaves for vitamins. You drink some pine needle tea. Let's not be fussy about the actually vitamins and minerals that you'd actually need, nor worry about the lack of essential amino acids in such a simple diet.

Total: 2152 calories

Does any of that scenario seem highly unlikely? How about the season in which to harvest? How about knowing how to harvest them? How about realistic fishing per day? How about the actual amount of calories needed to actually gather all of that on a daily basis. Think 2000 calories is enough? Perhaps as much as 4500 – 6000calories might be needed to comb through the woods and gather without a base camp and supplies.

This is why you need to be storing food now. Most people do not live in any areas in which food can be effortlessly gathered in their immediate surroundings, and even if they did, they'd be competing with everyone else for that food.
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09/06/2012 07:31 PM
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Autumn: The Season of Abundance

For much of the USA, in those temperate zone areas in particular, many nuts and some fruit trees are producing an abundant harvest despite the drought. In some cases, the harvest may be smaller in yield or size of the fruit or nut, but it can also be sweeter because of the lower than expected water.

The leaves of trees work hard at producing energy, oxygen, and produce starches and some protein, and then, then die. Deep underground, the roots pull nutrients from the soil, and up to support the tree's skeleton of branches and the trunk. Those same roots will store their own starches, and in turn feed the tree during the winter season.

The leaves cannot survive with adequate sun and water and warm weather, so they're sacrificed. They fall, and in doing so create humus for the soil and the bacteria to digest and over hundreds of years renew the soil and make it rich loam.

Nitrogen fixing bacteria did their part by breaking down the soil and releasing the chemicals needed for the tree to survive. In turn, the tree created and fostered an environment for those simple organisms too. Above ground, birds, bats, insects, mammals, lichens, mosses, slime molds and yes...humankind all survive and thrive because of the trees and the forest. It's a cycle of working hard to store up abundance, but also to live in harmony. Each species (and there are many unknown ones), has adapted over time to live in the meadows and forests and grasslands and in sync with each other. They need us since we produce carbon dioxide for their photosynthesis cycle, and they in turn breath out oxygen for us and the plethora of species that depend upon it.

Like those trees, humans need to store up a surplus too, not only as the product of their labor, but also like the roots storing nutrients for the cold winter. Less rain falls then, and in some places a little snow, and so the tree hopefully can tap into the ground water, and if not, then release stored water to create the needed turgor pressure to sustain life. In a way, it's much like the circulatory system in other life forms.

We live in a society of immediacy. We expect texts to be answered right away, and certainly expect emails to be answered in a day or two. Our TV shows must constantly thrill and change the scene, and produce musical soundtracks so we know who is the hero and who is the villain. We want it now, and we don't want to have to wait, and we don't want to think about it.

We expect that should our food stores run low, well we only have to drive a few blocks at most, even expecting to drive less than two blocks for fresh bread and milk. Most people have less than a week of food, and particularly since we desire to eat immediately, we microwave or eat out or at least open a can of prepared food, rather than go to the trouble of making a meal.

Many Americans are on government assistance, and so they rely upon both guaranteed benefits and food stamps and many other things in order that they can purchase their groceries. Of course, 70% live paycheck to paycheck, despite having many tvs and cell phones and video game machines and gambling and whatever shiny toy makes them temporarily forget their abject misery.

Yes, there is a kind of abundance in humanity, but it's a twisted kind, and not at all prepared for surplus, but rather for a way to fill those hungry immediate desires.

Imagine this, a collapse occurs, a temporary cessation of grocery stores and inventory. While people can live a month without food, many people will die quickly due to poor health, weak or damaged mental attitude, weak constitutions, dehydration, etc. Others might die because of sociopaths who routinely steal and pillage from society. Many of those who might die may be young children who already are poorly taken care of, or might lost their parents or guardians, and so fall victim to all of the above.

If the food supply is disrupted, then you can count on a lot of other elements of civilization to falter as well. Pharmacies and pharmaceutical operations, and if that happens, then coupling malnutrition and dehydration with a lack of medicines, and you have hospitals swamped. Something like 70% of world wide illnesses occur due to lack of adequate water.

If you're on a limited income, might you sell off some of your items that have just been sitting in your home and unused anyway? Maybe you decide to stop eating as many prepared meals and eat simply and thus create some funds to buy very simple recommended staples for two months? These will be rotated and used and over time you store up three months worth. It might be enough for survival, for if many people don't store up a surplus as the rest of Nature is doing, then they may indeed fall like those leaves, and those who remain will have the enormous task of rebuilding.

Perhaps for as little as $500, you could create a backup larder of food. You know, the same thing that our grandparents did routinely because they were frugal and lived through the Depression and knew what real hunger felt like. This isn't complicated or anti-biblicial or foolishness, but practical and good old common sense.

So, you actually go into your kitchen with your children and loved ones and cut up vegetables, cook and bake, and you know, they may really like it. They'll not only see you cooking and as such demonstrating a kind of love for them, but also if you prepare the food together, it'll be quality time. Meals won't last 15 minutes, but maybe 45 and you'll actually have to talk and relish each other's company again.

We can always spend more on meals, but when we lavish love and attention on other's instead by cooking and passing along that skill, then usually it adds harmony despite the simplicity of the meal. Try it and see. Do it now.

This is the abundant life.
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09/07/2012 12:26 AM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
Winter: The Season of Poverty

The opposite season to Autumn is Winter. With the cold temperatures and less hours of sunlight, plus the absence of regular rain, plants and animal without shelter will die. Many animals simply won't make it until the Spring unless they're very lucky and can forage and find some source of food and water. People often criticize deer hunting, but if you've ever seen starving deer suffering, then you'll see why applying our ethos upon Mother Nature seldom works.

Old farmers often have remarked to me that snow is “poor man's fertilizer”. That moisture while far less than regular rainfall, will keep older plants going long enough into the Spring. If not, then perennials stand to die, and given the drought conditions have not abated, we're going to have to pray that the Autumn rains come.

Now imagine a collapse in Winter. Imagine no water and sewer system. With little to no rainfall, there's only snow, and it takes a lot of inches of snow to equal one inch of rain. In a collapse, you always fill up water reservoirs, but particularly in Winter. Then too, you've got to plan for an absence of electricity and natural or propane gas, and potential freezing issues.

There's very little foraging that can occur during winter. Except for pine needles to prevent scurvy, there's not many plants that can sustain the cold. They'll last for a bit, and if you don't harvest what you can, then they're gone until next year.

As the ground freezes, it then become impossible to dig for wild roots. Even if you did manage, it's very likely that all the cattail will either be eaten or nibbled upon by voles and other rodents.

Many animals hibernate either by dramatically reducing their activity, and hence their caloric needs, or sleeping most of the time. They've been smart and using instinct, have stored up food supplies in their burrows and warrens, and built them near water sources. Even then some die from disease and starvation.

Only desperate animals travel out in search of food, and then it's a toss-up whether the search for food exceeded the amount of calories they burned. Those are the few game animals you'd be hunting and trapping and fishing. Since your body is much larger, you're expending even greater amounts of energy while milling around and hoping to flush out an animal. Since you're cold and struggling to stay warm, and possibly walking across snow and ice, then there's a good chance of injury. Worse, you might get lost, and that's deadly in wintertime. This means that realistically, one must curtail most activities for foraging and hunting in Winter during a collapse.

In older times, soldiers hated fighting in Winter. They always ran out of food, and went hungry, and ended up pillaging from farmers' homes to get enough to eat, and still became very malnourished and not fit for war. Depressed immune systems always caused sickness, and living in less than hygienic circumstances resulted in contagion.

The worst possible thing would be having to bug out then. People are not used to hiking 10 miles on a clear path in Springtime. Imagine crossing across winter terrain with small children, and then having to make shelters using what little insulating material you can find and endlessly trying to burn enough fire wood to stay warm. Yes, tribal people did it, but mostly they weren't nomadic in Winter, deliberately choosing to relocate to a known safe area and put up semi-permanent structures that were located near water and supplies and plenty of firewood.

Maple syrup and acorns kept them alive, but sometimes just barely, as the food ran out. This meant living off of fat stores on their bodies, but they were lean people since food was always scarce. If they'd had a lot of children in the Spring, and if the harvest had been bad, or if they'd been raided by another tribe, then their supplies were very low, and the tribe could easily die.

Yes, there are some things you can forage in the early Springtime, but they are very limited, mostly nibbles not meals. From mid-November to mid-May, one could have great difficulty located and foraging food. Even if you planted in mid-March, you'll have very limited foods coming in the garden until May. Yes, you can plant greens and harvest cabbage family plants (like broccoli), but they're not caloric dense food sources.

In mid-February, on warm days, you'll seek many small game animals, but you might be terribly weak by then to trap them. If you've been starving all Winter due to lack of supplies, hunting would be pretty much out as you're probably going to be stuporous and collapse from lack of adequate blood sugar.

This is why I've spent hundreds of pages trying to help you cope by learning skills but also preparing a food and water cache. Winter will be the worst time to cope and a time of true poverty.
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09/07/2012 10:42 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
If there's a collapse, and you only have seven good soldiers...

I wonder if many of you have seen Seven Samurai? The old Japanese film can often be checked out in public libraries and is currently free to watch in the US and Canada on hulu.com.

In it, the peasants are bemoaning the fact that their village will be plundered once the crop comes in. Only one person stands up and says, "Let's fight them off". The rest discount that idea entirely, and they decide to hire seven desperate samurai. In the end many honorable samurai (and a few who are desperate for a meal and job), decide that it's a worthy idea even though they realize that some of them will die.

It's a great film, but the idea is even finer. Once organized, the village has enough people to repel the invaders. Food for thought.
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09/08/2012 03:26 PM
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Finding a caffeine source post-collapse: Growing Black tea

As far as I know, there's very limited areas of the US that can grow coffee, that being the Kona Coast of Hawaii. Other than that very limited area on the large (almost moon-like terrain)but rocky island of Hawaii. There are many islands there, but I think the only one that coffee cultivation has worked successfully on is on the tiny sliver of that one miniscule space.

For the rest of us, there will be no coffee post-collapse. So whenever your supply of coffee beans runs out, then that's it, unless you live near the border of Mexico and can get some deliveries across that area. Coffee is grown in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and elsewhere, so some might end up being traded again.

There are sources for caffeine, but they are slim for us, as gurana, the kola nut, and yerba matte don't grow well here either. The only one that does is the yarpon holly, and it also has a bad effect of creating nausea too, so that's out as a source.

This leaves one and only one source of caffeine with any kick, and that's growing black tea. Basically that variety comes from India and Sri Lanka, versus the green tea that comes from China. Green tea contains compounds which promote alertness but are low in caffeine.

Black tea contains more caffeine by weight than coffee beans especially Arabica beans, but it's a matter of brewing strength. Most people brew a quick cup and don't steep it, which means that they're tossing out the bag too soon in order to get the maximum caffeine from it.

Black tea has been successfully grown commercially in South Carolina, but it will grow in Southeastern states as well as on a small scale in green houses or indoors. This means that we might be able to have black tea production if and only if people get heirloom black tea seeds and attempt to cultivate it later post-collapse.


[link to edis.ifas.ufl.edu]

[link to www.teaguyspeaks.com]

The particular type of tea produced from either green or black tea depends upon the maturity of the tea leaves when harvested and the methods used to make it. I urge you to consider either as a barter product, for you can bet that people will urgently trade in order to have some means of promoting alertness.

While there were lots of wild edibles like chicory and dandelion root or persimmon seeds that were used as coffee substitutes, none were consumed because they had a kick, only because they approximated the flavor. They may contain their own phytochemical stimulants, who knows?
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Useful wild plants to forage for: the Kentucky coffee bean tree

Now someone may have the bright but very old idea to use Kentucky coffee bean tree seeds to brew up their coffee. I can't recommend this at all. While it was historically done, it must be treated for three hours of heat over 150 degrees F to removed the alkaloid in the coffee beans, or else sickness and nausea can result.

What's more useful is to use that plant for other things. It contains saponins, which are soap-like substances that can be utilized to replace soap for cleaning:
[link to practicalplants.org]

There are many on that list, and this is important as wild game and livestock may be quite limited and hence few fat sources to gather from to make lye soap. Any oils say from soybeans or corn will be consumed for vital calories and probably not wasted for soap production.

The Kentucky coffee bean pod is filled with a goo that was used as a natural sweetener by the First people and by the pioneers, so that's very useful quality as there are few plants that have that property.
[link to www.uwsp.edu]

Like the outer black hulls of the walnut, the Kentucky Coffeebean tree contains phytochemicals that stun fish or interferes with their gills, so the Native Americans would use this property to gather in many fish in a small localized area. Earlier I added a link to black walnuts being used in this manner to force earthworms to the surface so they could either be used as bait for fishing or trapping.

While the First people or the pioneers used many natural items for this or that, it's important to study both history and modern research to check the efficacy of their uses.

It's true that the Kentucky Coffebean tree produces a fine wood that is resistant to rotting, so it's been used as fence posts too.
[link to plants.usda.gov]
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Cleaning with and without soap and its ingredients

Now when civilizations had an abundance of wild game or livestock, then they'd collect those fats, rendered them, and then combined them with lye to make soap. Here's a long article about that process.
[link to www.alcasoft.com]

The most superior soaps were made from olive oil, something that we don't have in the US or in most places due to the particular climate needed to grow them. That kind of soap is known as Castile soap, and it's one of the recommended supplies that I personally like in Dr. Bronner's soap, or similar companies make the same liquid soaps. These are very concentrated and can be diluted to last for a long long time versus making a bar of soap that will be wasted far quicker.

Other oils can be used, but the problem is that extraction is difficult plus the amount that is pressed from those plants. The most likely plant we could cultivate would be sesame as it produces the most oil and hence the greatest yield per acre. That oil would be very useful for cooking and lighting too.

But in the short term, in the absence of proper supplies and careful planning, then what is one to do? It's true that using a buffing towel or scrubby in water and a little lye from wood ashes will clean you well enough, but you have to be careful doing this often as it will crack the skin. Once that barrier is lost, then bad Step or Staph bacteria or fungal infections can penetrate and cause illness or infection.

Yes, you've no doubt read that some people are foregoing soaps and shampoo in order to restore the natural oils that the skin and hair produces. That will work mostly in hygienic times now where there is plenty of hot water from the tap, and an ability to have a luxurious shower or bath. In a collapse, that won't be true, and you'll be getting grimy from gathering and from fishing, hunting, and trapping. You'll have all kinds of animal debris and bacteria on you from those activities, so this means some kinds of cleaning agents must be used from plants, or as listed above, in order to cut down on skin infections.

One might steep pine needles in water and use that too, as it contains mild turpentines which can be used for cleaning. The best ones to use are: Southern Yellow, Black, and Loblolly Pine.

If one lives in the desert, here's some common plants like the Yucca and the Quillaja which contain sapponins:
[link to lpi.oregonstate.edu]

Here's a long list of plants that have sapponins:
[link to homesteadingthebackforty.blogspot.com]

These will be ways to stay clean in the absence of making soap by harvesting from wild animals. Truthfully, in a survival situation, you'll be eating all parts of the animals for calories rather than be saving the fat to make soap.
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09/08/2012 04:41 PM
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Here's the very simple method to brewing a pine needle infusion, but be sure not to steep them too long as you want to brew them only long enough to get the Vitamin C for internal use. Brew it longer to make it for a cleaning agent for exterior use, or as an insecticide to repel them.


Use common sense.
[link to www.globalhealingcenter.com]
[link to www.practicalprimitive.com]

If people were starving and only used this brew, then you'd be able to make it for a month .
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The ongoing research for an entirely wild edible bread without cultivated flours.

While it's true that some Native Americans and ancient tribal people ate flatbreads that were made of locally acquired wild edibles and wood ashes, it's extremely difficult to find an actual practical recipe that some modern person has attempted. Most bushcraft folks or historians have not made an entirely successful bread.

The reason is simple, most bread today is made by using the gluten in the wheat to interact with yeast or an alternative leavening agent. As replicating baking soda or tartaric acid may be impossible post-collapse, that generally knocks them out. Historically people have simply used sour milk and molasses or wood ashes, but still they generally use some wheat. They tend to add corn, pine bark flour, bannock made from white clover flour, spruce bark flour, etc. Still no one that I can find has produced a loaf or flatbread from those ingredients without any wheat.

Several youtube bushcraft folks that I admire discuss something here concerning lichen as a gelling agent which might hold the wild flours together for something like bread. Most likely it would be baked and then eaten as a breadlike food, but would still crumble.
[link to www.youtube.com]

Historical references to this:
[link to books.google.com]

[link to books.google.com]

[link to books.google.com]

[link to books.google.com]

[link to www.1920-30.com]

In many cases, due to milling times and caloric needs to expend energy to make the flour, you might be best served by simply eating the wild edibles instead of trying to make a flatbread. Still as a cook, you want something that tastes reasonably good too.
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09/09/2012 03:50 PM
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Help wild edibles: persimmon

Persimmons are one of those fruits that often will not be harvested even though they taste great. They can be eaten fresh when ripe, or if over ripened they can dried or turned into persimmon pudding.

They were an important discovery in the New World. Persimmons allowed a way of sweetening other foods, provided a great source of Vitamins A and C, plus high in potassium, copper, and manganese. They are smaller than their Japanese cousins, but still many trees will have up to a 1000 fruits on them, and hence a great source of calories.

During the Civil War and at other times, people ate them for nutrition but also if cooked they were useful for treating a bout of intestinal issues. If eaten raw and prone to diarrhea or already having a bit of an intestinal bug, then they can exacerbate the issue. This is due to the osmotic effect of their chemical properties.

They can harvested beginning now based upon the latitude, climate, sun exposure, elevation, and climate of your area. It's an old wives tale that you must wait for a frost to remove the tannins that cause the puckering effect. It's really a matter of seeing if they're ripe, and in some places people have to wait until frosts come.

You can harvest them by using a basket and some forked branches attached to a pole to pluck them off, which is a slow method. The trees are often not filled with thick branches, so that makes climbing it difficult for some. Otherwise an alternative method is to spread a tarp and shake the trunk and gather the fallen fruit.

Some of the fruits will be in various stages of ripening, and as such softer than others. Those soft ones can be made into persimmon pudding, or else dried as like plums and grapes, they dehydrate well.

This property means that you can concentrate the sugar and use that to sweeten other foods. Like raisins, they can easily be fermented, which means a way to make bread by their natural means of collecting wild yeasts. Or if one is so inclined, make wine from them and or vinegar.

It's true that the seeds can be ground up to make something that tastes like coffee, but has no kick to it. This is a way not to waste the seeds, and of course you should replant some to create an orchard.

That high amount of calories means that it's a great way to help your blood sugar in a collapse and restore glycogen in your muscles and liver too.

[link to www.sierrapotomac.org]

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09/09/2012 03:56 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
Making a picking pole
[link to www.fao.org]
[link to www.fao.org]
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09/09/2012 03:59 PM
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Re: Last minute tips for parents when the SHTF
The best way to dehydrate something like a persimmon is to use a solar oven. This is one of the essential tools you're going to build for a collapse as it can be used so many ways and will save you burning wood.
[link to solarcooking.wikia.com]

To make persimmon pudding plus some tips:
[link to www.persimmonpudding.com]

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