Sunday, May 15, 2016

DIY Solar Food Dehydrator


I have posted about Solar Dehydrator and ovens before but this is a nice tutorial! Enjoy!

If you like dehydrated food, you would surely like to know how to make it at home. Drying your food can be very useful as it will help you preserve it for a longer period. You can also make lots of delicious and healthy snacks by using this technique, for instance drying all sorts of fruits. So if you want to try this at home, we recommend you to build your own solar dehydrator. Those that run on electricity will cost you a lot, so solar powered ones are a cheap and efficient option. The next tutorial will teach you how to make your own solar powered food dehydrator out of recycled materials. Such a great and useful tutorial!

Thin Ply Wood (Body)
4 2.5′ Long 2″ x 4″s
10 feet of 2″ x 2″ wood (Braces and drying shelf support)
A Window (20″ x 23 1/8″) or a suitable slab of clear plastic.
Screen (For covering vents)
Stretchable Cloth/Material. We used stalkings. (For drying rack)
2 Hinges
A Hook & String (To fasten the rear door)
Caulk (For perfectionists)

Red more from the source

Books Of Interest:


Books Of Interest:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

45 Survival/SHTF Tips

45 Survival/SHTF Tips

Welcome back, here’s some pretty handy survival tips that may just save your buttocks in a survival / SHTF situation. All of the below tips are what I have picked up along my preparedness journey. I am open to people adding to the list or getting criticism on the tips because a little criticism helps people bloom and learn more. Without further ado here are AlfieAesthetics 45 survival / SHTF quick tips.

  • If you have a Zippo lighter and it has run out of fuel, don’t worry about it. You can still make a fire with it. Take out the cotton that’s inside the lighter and use the flint to ignite the cotton with a spark.
  • Carry some Aluminium foil in your bug out bag. The reason for this is if the ground is damp or wet and you can’t get a fire going lay out the foil and you will have an instant dry platform to build your fire.
  • Placing some masking tape over your flashlight reduces your profile yet giving you enough light to get things done. This is a handy tip from an SAS Friend.
  • If you carry a functioning analogue wrist watch then you can use it to find the north and south line. A little known trick but very handy. Hold your watch horizontal and point the hour hand towards the sun by set the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark to get the north / south line. North will be the direction furthest from the sun.
  • Navigating terrain at night is simple. The stars will guide you. If you are in the northern hemisphere then the north star aka Polaris will guide you to true north. If you have a basic understanding of Stella constellations it is very easy to find. First of all find the big dipper aka ursa major or the plough and follow this line. This line leads straight to the north star.
  • Having a guitar case for a bug out bag is very unconventional but very effective in its own right. You have the opportunity to pack a lot of gear without sticking out like a sore thumb. No one’s going to pester a guy for supplies if they think he is a loser carrying a guitar.
  • If you can’t afford stab resistant vests homemade protection can be made with carbon steel tenon saws. Several saws combined with duct tape can create a stab proof, fragmentation and arrow proof plate to put in a plate carrier.
  • Household bleach can be used to purify water. The ratio of bleach to water is 2 drops of bleach to purify 1 liter of water.(unscented bleach only)
  • Toothpaste can be used to treat bug bites and insect stings.
  • Tent pegs laid across 2 logs can be used as a make shift grill.
  • A can a thorn and some string can be used as a hobo fishing kit.
  • In wet conditions tinder can easily be acquired by shaving off strips of the inner bark of twigs and logs.
  • Large rocks placed around a camp fire will absorb heat and even when the fire dies down they will still radiate enough heat to keep you warm. Also the hot rocks can be placed in a cup of water and the heat from the rocks will begin to boil and purify the water.
  • If you are purifying water say from a swamp but it smells absolutely dreadful add some charcoal to the water while you are boiling it and it will remove the unpleasant smell and slightly improve the smell.
  • The inner stands of 550 paracord are strong enough so you can tie equipment to your bag and make shelter without using up all of your paracord.
  • A foil blanket duct taped to the inside of a tarp shelter can massively increase the heat potential of your shelter.
  • Glow sticks should always be carried just in case you need to be rescued. Tie 3 feet of paracord to a glow stick and swirl it around to create a 6ft disk of light which will make it easy for rescue to spot you.
  • A disposable rain coat or poncho is a very useful multipurpose survival tool. 1. It can be used as a rain coat. 2. It can be manipulated as a make shift shelter. 3. It can be made to create a solar still to gather and purify sea water. 4. It can collect rain water for drinking.
  • Don’t rely on boiling water alone as your method for purifying water as you may not always have the luxury of a fire. Pack water purification tablets.
  • Barbed wire can be made into make shift fishing hooks. If you happen to carry pliers with wire cutters in your kit then simply snip of some wire and fashion it into a hook and attach it to paracord.
  • NEVER under any circumstances use untreated water to clean wounds. It’s common sense but I have seen many people wash their wounds in a river. Also, don’t submerge your hands in water if you have cuts or grazes.
  • Animal entrails that you would usually throw away should be kept and used for bait for fishing, traps and snares. Always process your game far away from your camp. You do not want wild animals like bears other predatory animals picking up the scent and sniffing around your camp looking for a carcass.
  • If you are stung by stinging nettles, remember the stinging sensation is caused by the needles injecting an acid into you. Combat this by spitting on the area immediately and scrubbing it hard with some clothing to get the acid off and out.
  • Don’t waste time and valuable energy by chopping up logs with an axe or machete. Just give them a swift kick and snap them by force. You are not making furniture. They don’t have to be perfect.
  • Pack a first aid kit.
  • Don’t forget to pack copies of important documents in your bug out bag, birth certificates, medical records, insurance details etc.
  • Pack a modest amount of cash in your bug out bag. Contrary to belief, cash will still be accepted even if all hell breaks loose. At least for a short while.
  • When setting up shelter you need to keep off the ground. Laying on the ground is going to suck all of the heat out of you and you will end up being close to hypothermia before you know it. Laying on a ground sheet or a poncho isn’t going to cut it. Make a platform out of logs or gather up a bunch of leaves and weeds and create yourself a soft padded raised bed.
  • When packing your bag put all of the light equipment at the bottom and the heavy stuff on top to maintain your center of gravity.
  • If you are planning to move around a lot you should wear less clothing than you need. As long as you keep in continuous motion and keep your head, hands and feet covered and dry you can drop nearly all of your extra layers and still be comfortable. The key is to avoid sweating in cold weather as your clothes will get damp and your clothing will lose its insulating qualities and you risk getting hypothermia.
  • Carry a pack of cigarettes. Even if you don’t smoke. Offering someone a cigarette can help you make friends or calm people down if they are suffering from stress or suffering from nicotine withdrawal.
  • Smoke is a natural insect repellent. If you have a fire going then wave your jacket, trousers, sleeping bag or your poncho etc around in the smoke to keep the mosquitoes and ants from eating you alive. A fire is also a natural predator repellent.
  • Carry spare socks in your bug out bag. At least 2 pairs. Socks can be used to filter the dirt and crap out of water, keep animal guts suspended in a tree and of course prevent you from getting trench foot and blisters.
  • If you do get a blister thread a needle and thread through the blister to drain it and the thread will keep the holes made open and soak up any left over moisture. With this method your blisters will heal faster. If you feel you are getting a blister take a big piece of duct tape and place directly over the area, the tape will eliminate the friction and stop blisters from forming.
  • The chewing gum in MRE’s contain xylitol which has a mild laxative effect. Chances are you will need that after eating an MRE.
  • Don’t drink to much water on an empty stomach. This will mess up your body chemistry due to the imbalance of electrolytes which may cause you to go into shock. Balance your water intake with your water intake to cut the risk of this.
  • Learn how to make the S.O.S Signal both in sound and in light. It looks like this  … —… the dots represent fast signals and the dashes represent slow signals.
  • It may seem tempting to set your camp up next to a body of water but it’s a bad idea. Bugs that hover over the water will eat you alive in the night especially if you are set up next to stagnant, non moving water. Set up camp on elevated ground a modest distance away from the water.
  • Raising both arms up into the Y position and back down erratically is the internationally recognized distress signal. Remember this.
  • Depending on your global position it can be confusing to calculate KM into miles on the top of your head. The very simple way to make this calculation is to divide the amount of KM in half then add the first digit of the KM… – KM / 2 + (K) this will give you a close estimation . For example.. 50 KM / 2 = 25 + 5 = 30 miles… The actual conversion is 50 KM = 31.06 miles. So with this calculation you won’t be far off.
  • Tobacco decreases stamina by limiting blood and oxygen to the brain. It also interferes with healing and blood clotting by destroying the platelets in your blood. It also reduces night vision because it causes restriction of the blood vessels in the eye.  So the tip here is stop smoking :)
  • If you see an animal drinking from a water source.. That does not mean the water is safe for you to drink. Most animals have the ability to eat and drink things that are harmful to humans.
  • If you happen to come across coconuts only drink the milk from green coconuts. The milk from an old / ripe coconut contains an oil that acts like a laxative and could cause you to have sever dehydration from diarrhea.
  • Carry tin foil in your kit. If you loose your canteen you can fashion a cup from this and lay it by a fire and let it boil. Or you can drop some water purification tablets in it.
  • If you lose your knife or machete you can make a sharp edge by smashing 2 rocks together. This has been done for thousands of years and works great.

If you have any other survival / SHTF tips or you want to criticize these tips please send me a message and I will get back to you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

7 Absolutely Terrifying DIY Survival Weapons

  DIY survival weapons

It is The End of the World As We Know It, there are mobs of starving people rioting outside, and your stockpile of ammo is all gone. What are you going to do? In a total SHTF situation, you will be happy to know how to make these absolutely terrifying homemade survival weapons.

1. Spiked Nail Bat

The bat (or club) is one of the original weapons used by humanity. Even when people figured out how to work with metals and make weapons like swords, the club never completely went out of style. It just got some upgrades – like the spikes of a mace.
This bat one is really easy to make and sure to bash out the brains of any zombie which comes near you. Plus, just carrying it around is going to scare away most attackers. In practice, the only real downside to it is that the nails will bend after hitting something hard – which can also compromise the interior of the bat. If you don’t have a baseball bat, then take any sturdy piece of wood. A part of a bed post will work well.

spiked bat

2. Flamethrower

Got a can of hairspray and a lighter? You can make it into a scary flamethrower. This isn’t the most reliable of DIY weapons because it depends on the aerosol can working well, and the direction of the wind being in your favor. But, in a pinch, you will definitely scare someone away with this DIY weapon. You could set their clothes or hair on fire, which would give you time to get away.

homemade flamethrower

3. PVC Bow and Arrow

It is easy to make a bow and arrow out of found materials like sticks and string. But if you want one that has killing power, you will need to use a sturdier material. PVC is perfect for this.   It is tough but flexible, and easy to work with. If you have them, wear gloves when working with PVC because it splinters. Learn how to make it here.

homemade bow arrow

4. Pipe Shotgun

This beauty is in the Cleveland Police Museum and shows what some ingenious criminals thought up.   There are plenty of instructional articles and videos online about how to make your own gun (like this one here). But, is it legal to make your own shotgun?

homemade shotgun

In most cases, it is NOT legal to make your own firearms. But, there are some exceptions. At the website, they write this:
Q: Does the GCA prohibit anyone from making a handgun, shotgun or rifle?
With certain exceptions a firearm may be made by a non-licensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms. However, a person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting semi-automatic rifle or non-sporting shotgun from imported parts. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and approval by ATF. An application to make a machine gun will not be approved unless documentation is submitted showing that the firearm is being made for a Federal or State agency. [18 U.S.C. 922(o) and (r), 26 U.S.C. 5822, 27 CFR 478.39, 479.62 and 479.105]

5. Rebar Tomahawk

The tomahawk has been hailed as one of the best tactical weapons because it can do things like dig a foxhole, open security doors, chopping wood, setting up camp, and self defense. Plus, its shape means you can easily hide it in your jacket or carry it hanging off of your belt. It was the favored tool by the Native Americans, and now is frequently used by Iraqi and Afghan militaries.
This video shows you how to make your own tomahawk out of a piece of rebar. It will require quite a bit of work to bang the rebar into shape, and you’ll need a blazing hot fire so you can forge it, but you will be rewarded with a really cool homemade weapon.

diy tomahawk

6. Homemade Grenade from Cheap Cologne

This might not look much like a weapon, but it is actually a high powered grenade. It was made by rebels who are fighting the Syrian army. They really have to get creative with their weapons and you can find all sorts of homemade weapons in their arsenal.
You can turn just about any aerosol can into a grenade, such as air freshener cans, shoe spray cans, household cleaners…   This article tells you how to make the grenades using sparklers. I doubt the Syrian rebels have sparklers, so I’m not sure what they are using 😉

homemade grenade

7. Spike Pit Booby Trap

Need to defend your home or survival retreat? You might try putting these ultra scary booby traps around it.
This one comes from the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and it was designed to injure American soldiers. The door on top of the trap swivels and could cause a person to fall into the spikes.

Please don’t make this – or ANY – booby traps around your home unless it is really a SHTF situation. First off, you are more likely to injure yourself, your family or a friend than an intruder. And, even if you do get an intruder, it could backfire when you end up having to pay the intruder a big lump sum. You could even get sent to jail for booby traps. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about how you’d defend your home in a disaster situation. Make your plans but don’t try them until they are really needed.

booby trap
Image credits, from Flickr:
The Exiles by Crysco Photography; CC BY NC ND 2.0
Standard issue flamethrower by Arko Sen CC NC ND 2.0
Pipe shotgun by Snake Oil Magazine CC BY SA 2.0
Grenade by Freedom House CC BY SA 2.0
Door to avoid at all cost by Dennis Jarvis CC BY SA 2.0

Ever make your own weapons?  Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook.


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Monday, May 2, 2016

15 Skills That Will Make You Priceless In A Post SHTF Barter World

The concept of private barter and alternative economies has been so far removed from our daily existence here in America that the very idea of participating in commerce without the use of dollars seems almost outlandish to many people. People sometimes forget that the smallest and most convenient storage space is in their own heads. If you find yourself in the midst of a disaster and you need to either build or fix something, having the necessary knowledge and skills in your mind instead of in a book will hugely benefit your ability to survive.
There’s no way of telling quite how different life after a major disaster or serious collapse of society could be, but humans are remarkably resilient, so life would certainly go on.
One thing is certain, though: in the aftermath of a widespread disaster or the collapse of civil society as we know it, you’ll want to have useful skills and items that you can barter or trade with. Once society collapses, bartering will become a business, a black market business if you will, likely run by criminal elements. Individuals will have items they can barter with, but in most cases, a person would not be able to afford to part with the items they do have. Anyone not prepared will have nothing to barter with, so looters will be active as well as desperate.
Looters and other criminals will steal so they can then use the stolen items, or just to barter with for other goods. Real trading will be based On ‘long term’ items. Seeds, not food. Arrows, not ammo. Tools, not filters. See, once the ‘short duration expendables’ are consumed, you won’t be re-supplying, you’ll be making your own or doing without. From turning your own arrow shafts, to cutting arrowheads from old license plates; from building filtration weirs to filter water, to needing copper tubing to make ‘wood-fired-water-heaters’. Knowledge and durable supplies (axes, hammers, spoke shaves, saw blades, etc.) will be the real money.
He who has stocked dozens of saw blades will be king. He who sits on a case of toilet paper will be sad he didn’t learn how to replace it with what they used 200 years ago, instead (FYI, toilet paper is only about a 100-year old concept – ask yourself, what did they use before that, and get a real clue – because THAT is VERY valuable in the long term!)
So, forget stocking for that 2-week event, it’s not that difficult. The hard part is stocking for the total paradigm shift, that few remember how to do much of. You won’t be making your own saw blades anytime soon. Now, ask yourself, what else will you NOT be making, that you need to learn how to make, or replace with older technology, before you need it (or need to trade it).

Here are the invaluable skills that will likely help you sustain yourself in a hand-made local world:

Organic Gardening and Seed Saving:
Skills involving food production will be the most valuable in a post-collapse society. Learning to grow your own food is a must.  Obviously, it is necessary to feed your family, but you will also be able to trade your abundance for other items. Additionally, learning to save seeds will also provide another excellent means of trade.  Understanding permaculture design for your garden can help reduce water consumption and use the lands natural resources. Aquaponics can provide plants, fish, and store water. Watch this video to understand how aquaponic sistems work.


Food Processing and Preservation:
Learning to process and preserve foods will be another huge skill in a post-collapse world. Taking seasonal abundance and preserving it for future consumption or trade will be vital.  Remember, learning to do this with limited electricity is a must. One necessity for every homestead is having someone who knows how to butcher animals and preserve them for future consumption by smoking, salt curing, or dehydrating. This can also include learning to brew beer, mead, vinegar, or other alcoholic beverages from meager ingredients.
Hunting, Fishing, and Gathering:
Learning to fish and hunt is essential to survival. Having the proper gear and training will be priceless after the collapse of modern civilization.  Having reference guides for edible plants in your region, repairing weapons, trapping wild game, and fishing are great tools to have if you haven’t the time to learn them now. You should also take the time to learn or refine your skills on hunting using quiet weapons like bows, slingshots, knives, and spears.
Animal Husbandry:
Knowledge of animal husbandry can provide endless amounts of sustainable meat, eggs, and milk to you and your tribe.  Your farm animals are the most valuable food source you have since they can reproduce. Knowing which animals to breed and when is an important part of farming and should not be learned through mistakes.
Knowing how to cook without using your time-saving, electricity driven appliances may not be as easy as you think.  Practice cooking with your stored food supplies using no or very little electricity.  You will soon realize how much more time and preparation it takes to do what once was a simple task.  Learn to cook using a dutch oven, a sun oven, an outdoor fire pit, and whatever means you have for cooking.
Foraging:  Someone who knows how to forage for wild edibles and can increase your food supplies, becomes an asset to any group. There will be a high demand for this skill.
Water Purification: Since it’s difficult to pump well water without electricity, unless you have a hand pump, and with surface water likely to be contaminated, clean water will be in very limited supply.  Learning to purify water will allow you thrive during this time. You can also purchase water filters for your go-bag and you can have back-up tablets should you need them.  However, the skill and knowledge to purify water should be the goal as that can never run out.
Collecting and Storing Water:  Do you have enough stored water for you to survive through the first 30 days post disaster?  Most do.  How about for 3 months….or 9 months?  Now, do you have enough for your family members?  If you have a family of five and want to store a one year’s supply of water you would need to have over 1800 gallons, and that’s just for drinking.  Now, how about the extended family members who show up on your doorstep?  Your animals?  Your garden?  Your sanitation, hygiene and cleaning?  Whew! Now you understand how it can be very difficult to store all of the water you would need, so knowing how to collect water to replenish your stored supplies is invaluable.

Ham Radio: Do you have your ham radio license or at the very least own and know how to operate a ham radio?  Having a skilled ham radio expert in your group is a necessary key component to keeping up on communications and knowing what is going on in the world around you.  Remember, tv, cell phone, the internet, will all most likely be down.  Understanding how to make and set up an antennae to improve your radio signal and knowing morse code are other valuable skills to include in your arsenal.
Communications: Not all people know how to truly communicate well with others.  During stressful and hazardous times, people with great communication skills will be valued for their abilities.  Knowing how to handle and calm down people and even groups on the verge of fighting can save lives.
Languages: Knowing a second language is a great skill to have.  If you were to know a second or even third language what would you choose?  Hopefully you would choose the language of your most dangerous threat.  Knowing what others are saying over radio communications can be a very valuable piece of intel.
Self-sustainability is one of the most important skills to learn.  You can store food, water, and everything else you may need for survival but when those stored supplies run out, and they will, how will you replenish them?  Knowing how to live off the land, grow a garden, raise animals, store seeds, hunt for food, or make your own clothing can prolong your survivability. A very important skill is knowing how to cure meats and butcher animals. This might take a little while to show its merit, but if you’ve got the guts and knowhow to slaughter and butcher a variety of animals for consumption, demand for your skills will gradually return and rise as society starts to regulate again. Even during the hardest of times, if you can find work as a butcher it is usually sufficient to allow you to keep food on the table, as you can at least trade your skills as a butcher for a suitable share of the meat, if nothing else.
Word of the day: Prepare! And do it the old fashion way, like our fore-fathers did it and succeed long before us, because what lies ahead of us will require all the help we can get. Watch this video and learn the 3 skills that ensured our ancestors survival in hard times of famine and war.
Take away all electricity and go back to the old ways of living.  What did your grandparents or great grandparents do?  How did people survive during the great depression or dust bowl? If we don’t understand our history we are doomed to repeat it.  Some skills that will be useful are: fire making, camp cooking, basket weaving, pottery making, animal tracking, tool making, tanning hides, rock climbing, knot tying, etc.
Other useful skills include teaching, knitting, piloting an aircraft, sailing, music, etc.
The only way to understand how we can live without our electricity driven modern conveniences is to live without them.
Test #1  Turn off your electricity for a few hours.  Take notes on how it affected you.  What did you learn?  What did you need that you didn’t have and what wasn’t necessary at all?
Test #2  Turn off your electricity for a weekend.  Take notes again and see how your answers changed or stayed the same.  How did you cook?  How did you get water?  What would you change?
Test #3  Turn off your electricity for a week.  Sounds hard?  Try doing it for a few months or a few years, because that is what can happen after a large scale disaster.  Be uncomfortable now knowing that you can flick the switch back on whenever you want.  Learn from your mistakes now while you can make them.  Appreciate the fact that these are just tests we’re putting ourselves through and not the real thing.  The more you practice the easier it will become and you may come to realize how little you miss the modern life.
Shelter building can really fall under two categories.  One being outdoor wilderness survival and the other would be construction to your current home and property.  In this section we will focus on the later.
Construction skills will be very important in a shattered civilization.  These skills, especially without power tools, are not something you learn overnight.  If you have some basic skills it may be worth learning a few techniques for building small structures with crude hand tools.  There are many books teaching anyone how to build basic cabins, sheds, and composting outhouses.

First Aid and TraumaThis is another skill that can take years to develop and learn, but that will be crucial when supply lines of pharmaceuticals are cut off and hospitals are over-run.  You will need an emergency medic who can perform appendectomies, c-sections, and set broken bones. If having a nurse or doctor in your group is not an option, then learning basic procedures for stitching wounds, CPR, and more will be an absolute necessity for every adult and teenager in your family group.
Veterinary Skills:
Your farm animals are vital to your survival.  Horses are a tool for transportation, your goats are your milk supply and your chickens and rabbits are your protein.  Heaven forbid that they have any health issues that require immediate veterinary care.  Learn at least the basics about the animals you are caring for because they are depending on you as much as you are on them.
Knowing how to pull a tooth, fix a filling, and manage pain during dental procedures will come in handy.
Natural Medicine:
Knowledge of growing herbal gardens for making medicine at home will prove to be very important.   Being the tribe’s shaman with a natural medicine chest is a prestigious position.
I know this may not sound important compared to food and water but if you think about it, it is. When a disaster strikes, whether it be natural or man made, the creature comforts that people have grown accustomed to throughout their lives will no longer be there. No more daily showers and washing your hair with apple scented shampoo. No more flushing the toilet 10 times a day. Sanitation services that require power will no longer be functioning. This will quickly lead to diseases being spread rapidly.  Learning how to build a composting toilet, a solar hot water heater, or a sewer drainage system is important.  It is good to know how to make your own toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo and stock up on the supplies necessary.
Home and Property:
Regardless of the threat, an ideal home is one that is secure and can keep you safe from a person or people who mean to do you harm.  Take the time now to learn how to protect your home, land, and everything on it as best you can.  This includes farm animals.  Your animals are a valuable asset and must be protected from hungry predators, including man and beast.
Personal Defense:
Learn how to protect yourself through hand to hand combat.  There may be times when you’re in the garden or tending to the property and are caught off guard by a lone stalker or a group of marauders.  I know this sounds Mad Max but when the SHTF it can happen.  Learn to use your tools as weapons.  Nunchucks were originally used to harvest rice.
If you are going to own a gun then get the training necessary to know how to properly use it.  Know how to clean it and store it as well.  Someone that has the knowledge and can train others on weapons and strategies will be a valuable asset. Gun smithing is another important skill to master.
Alternative Energy and Fuels:
Having the knowledge to implement alternative energy systems will make you a wealthy survivor in a “dark” world. You can learn to build your own alternative energy systems through solar, hydro, and wind power. Knowledge of how to create energy would be invaluable when oil is scarce.
In the event of a grid failure, all life as we know it will change. The ability to build or do anything without power will become a life-saving skill in itself – but it will make sure you have a steady supply of either cash or barter goods coming your way. Most other folks – even if they have some of these things – don’t have any skill in using them. Your skills and services will not only be in demand, but may just be the thing that keeps your family or tribe thriving.

Here is a list with the best items you can stock for trading:
  • Tools (saw blades, hatchets, axe heads, hammer heads – many sourceable from auctions, garage sales, etc.)
  • A simple still (or the components to assemble one), as this will make your alcohol for drinking, cleaning, medical use, etc. (don’t forget to learn how to make the corn mash itself, or to have extra parts put back)
  • Bows,arrows and bowstrings.Learn to make alternative bows (PVC bows are excellent, weather-proof), and how to turn arrow shafts, as well as how to lace and tie bowstrings – not all string will suffice for it – dacron works well.
  • Barrels. Learn to make filtration weirs for water. Forget store filtration units, understand how rain barrels work, how to purify water with boiling, and how settlement works to remove metals. Extra barrels are highly tradeable.
  • Seeds. Forget trading foods, long-term you will have far more demand for trading seeds. Those with the most-seeds and largest fresh selection will draw the best trades.
  • Salt,sugar, pepper and spices.Long-term storable items are great (salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, some cheeses, dehydrated or cured foods possibly). He who can build a primitive dehydrator, and had the parts to trade to others, will be king. Dried beans and salt-cured hams can last 24 months, these will be in demand as well. Jerky was used and looked-at differently 200 years ago (the jerky was used as a stew meat with the salt extracted to flavor soups and stews – knowing this extends the use of your stocks – and IS TRADEABLE INFORMATION!)
  • Survival information is valuable, and in a time when it is desperately needed, being able to have a few copies of condensed information on-hand and barter-ready will be very valuable, indeed. Type up and print a dozen copies of general information that others may not readily have.
  • Ferroceramic rods and striking steels. Fire-making will ALWAYS be critical, and having a dozen extra ferroceramic rods and striking steels will be worth their weight in gold, if it all goes south.
  • Containers. Enough can’t be said for water containers. Seems simple now, but if things go wrong, one of the hardest things to usually find is a good canteen or water jug. Put enough back for yourself, but put more back for trade. The harder to break, the better. I’ve got a dozen military 1-qt canteens laying around here and there, in a pinch, I have 2-3 I’ll use, but the rest can be had – for a price.
  • Blankets.Everyone needs a warm place to sleep. Funny thing is, linens wear out pretty fast – as do blankets. A good blanket is like a good coat. We’ve all planned for clothes (I hope), but when’s the last time you heard someone brag about having a couple of good wool blankets put back? I’ve got two good wool blankets. I paid $40 each for them. Let the power go out, in November, and you not have one. I don’t know how much you’re willing to pay for them, but I know what you’re going to trade me for them, if you don’t want to freeze at night. I won’t trade both at all, but I’ll be looking for what would be several thousand dollars worth of trade for the one I can ‘spare’.
  • Tabacco will have a great demand. Cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco; supplies may be limited or altogether unavailable after whatever catastrophe has occurred, so tobacco products would become even more valuable than they already are. Tobacco doesn’t keep forever, but properly stored loose tobacco, cigarettes or cigars can last several years.
These three old lessons will ensure your children will be well fed when others are rummaging through garbage bins. Click here to learn all about the 3 skills that will help you thrive in any crises situation.
See, barter comes down to how desperate (or how much does your life depend on it) you are, as to how critical it really is to have for barter. Can you live without toilet paper, versus that last wool blanket? THIS is how barter REALLY works.
Barter is far scarier than you can even understand, if you are UNABLE to assess ‘critical need’ from ‘whimsy want’ right now. Fire, water, shelter, warmth – yeah, you’re going to pay dearly for what you didn’t see fit to pack now. Think about critical needs, before you think all that ammo is so important. I bet my wool blanket is worth AT LEAST all of your ammo, if you’re cold and we’re both armed. Again, don’t plan on thuggery, stock what you can’t afford to trade for. Have extras to trade yourself, in regards to those critical things we MUST have.
Toilet paper? LOL, Davey Crockett didn’t have toilet paper and he did just fine. HE DID have a weapon, a knife, a fire flint, a good blanket, and good clothes and boots. He traded horses, burros, saddles and whiskey. Take a 3-year, 1,000 mile trip in your mind, and imagine only meeting others on the road like yourself. Each packed differently, not all are nice, not all are passive. Now, prepare for the trip in your mind and take it. What do you see yourself needing, each day, as the seasons change, as the environment changes, and as bad and good people cross your path?
Once again, toilet paper is like a good cigar or stick of chewing gum. It might give you ‘modern comfort’, but there are far more important things you need first.
Did you pack them?


Books Of Interest:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How To Build 15 Survival Traps

In a survival situation, traps can capture animals that provide us precious calories from meat and fat. Think of them as little hunters that you put out to do your work for you while you are off accomplishing other tasks. There are seemingly as many different traps as there are creatures to catch, but we’ve selected 15 for you to try and master. Click here to see them all.

Ancient House Designs - Virtually Free To Build

Want to learn how to build a cheap house? Look no further. Let me ask you; how would your life change if you never had to pay rent or interest on a mortgage again? I bet it would take a significant weight off your shoulders. It sure would for me.
You’re not alone, in fact today most people in “civilized” parts of the world don’t own their homes but are indebted to banks or rent from a landlord. But it has not always been this way, as Henry David Thoreau so truthfully writes in his book Walden:
In the savage (Native American) state every family owns a shelter as good as the best, and sufficient for its coarser and simpler wants; but I think that I speak within bounds when I say that, though the birds of the air have their nests, and the foxes their holes, and the savages their wigwams, in modern civilized society not more than half the families own a shelter. In the large towns and cities, where civilization especially prevails, the number of those who own a shelter is a very small fraction of the whole. The rest pay an annual tax or this outside garnment of all, become indispensible summer and winter, which would buy a village of Indian wigwams, but now helps to keep them poor as long as they live.

Is this the best humanity can do?

Is it impossible to imagine a future where humans, just as other animals, own their shelter free and clear and don’t have to pay a “tax” their whole lives just to stay protected from the elements?
Of course not. This is crazy!
In the list below you’ll find examples of homes that “savage” people throughout the world built with their own hands using locally available materials that Nature provided for free. No mortgage or rent required.
Most of the examples on this list are small house designs. They are small because a small house takes less fuel to heat, less time and building materials to build, and for some of the more portable designs a small home is much easier to move.
What you take away from this list is up to you, but I have no doubt there’s a lot to learn from how our ancestors lived in harmony with their surroundings and adapted perfectly to their environments, no matter how harsh.

1. The Tipi

The Tipi
Tipis (also spelled Teepees) are tent-like American Indian houses used by Plains tribes. A tepee is made of a cone-shaped wooden frame with a covering of buffalo hide, and originally they were up to 12 feet high. Like modern tents, tepees are carefully designed to set up and break down quickly. As a tribe moved from place to place, each family would bring their tipi poles and hide tent along with them.
Plains Indians migrated frequently to follow the movements of the buffalo herds, and it’s said an entire Plains Indian village could have their tipis packed up and ready to move within an hour.

2. The Lavvu

The Lavvu
Sami family infront of their lavvu, 1900
The Lavvu has a design similar to a Native American tipi but is less vertical and more stable in high winds. It’s a temporary shelter used by the Sami people living on the treeless plains of northern Scandinavia, and it’s made of wooden poles which are covered in reindeer hides or, more recently, textile.
Modern designs of the lavvu have replaced the wooden poles with aluminium poles and heavier textiles with lighter fabrics. Today some people choose to heat the lavvu with an oven instead of an open fire and that has the benefit of producing less smoke, but it also produces less light making it quite dark inside.

3. The Wigwam

The Wigwam
Wigwams, sometimes also known as birchbark houses, are Native American houses used by Algonquian Indians in the woodland regions.
These shelters are small, usually 8-10 feet tall, and they’re formed with a frame of arched poles, most often wooden, which are covered with some sort of roofing material ranging from grass, bark, brush, mats, reeds, hides or textile. The frame can be shaped like a dome, like a cone, or like a rectangle with an arched roof. The curved surfaces make it an ideal shelter for all kinds of conditions, and while wigwams are not portable they’re small and easy to build.
A first hand account from 1674 of Gookin, who was superindendent of the Indian subject to the Massachusetts Colony, says…
“The best of their houses are covered very neatly, tight and warm, with barks of trees, slipped from their bodies at those seasons when the sap is up, and made into great flakes, with pressure of weighty timber, when they are green….The meaner sort are covered with mats which they make of a kind of bulrush and are also indifferently tight and warm, but not so good as the former….Some I have seen, sixty or a hundred feet long and thirty feet broad….I have often lodged in their wigwams, and found them as warm as the best English houses.”

4. The Hogan

The Hogan
A hogan is the primary, traditional shelter of the Navajo people. It can be round, cone-shaped, multi-sided, or square; with or without internal posts; timber or stone walls and packed with earth in varying amounts or a bark roof for a summer house. Anything goes really.
The hogans of old are also considered pioneers of energy efficient homes: “Using packed mud against the entire wood structure, the home was kept cool by natural air ventilation and water sprinkled on the dirt ground inside. During the winter, the fireplace kept the inside warm for a long period of time and well into the night. This concept is called thermal mass.”
In 2001 the Hogan began seeing a revival with a joint-venture of a partnership involving the Navajo Nation, Northern Arizona University, the US Forest Service and other private and public partners.

5. The Burdei

The Burdei
The burdei dates back as far as 6000 years and it’s a type of half-dugout shelter somewhat between a sod house and a log cabin, usually with a floor that’s 1 – 1.5 meters under ground level.
This type of shelter is native to the Carpathian Mountains and forest steppes of eastern Europe but has seen use in North America as well by many of the earliest Ukrainian Canadian settlers as their first home in Canada at the end of the 19th century and by Mennonites from Imperial Russia who settled in the Hillsboro region of Kansas.
The March 20, 1875, issue of the national weekly newspaper Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper described the structures:
…is the quaint brand-new village of Gnadenau, where there are some twenty small farmers, who have built the queerest and most comfortable cheap houses ever seen in the West, and with the least amount of timber, being merely a skeleton roof built on the ground and thatched with prairie-grass. They serve for man and beast, being divided on the inside by a partition of adobe..

6. The Barabara

The Barabara
A barabara were the traditional shelter used by the Alutiiq people and Aleuts, the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands. Similar to the Burdei, the barabara lay partially underground like an earth lodge or pit-house so they could withstand the high forces of wind in the Aleutian chain of islands.

7. The Clochán

A Clochán is a dry-stone hut with a corbelled roof, commonly associated with the south-western Irish seaboard. Dry-stone is a building method where you use stones without any mortar to bind them together, and these structures get their strength from compressional forces and the interlocking of the stones.
Clocháns are most commonly round beehive huts and the walls are very thick, up to 1.5 metres. Some Clocháns are not completely built of stone, and may have had a thatched roof.

8. The Log Cabin

The Log Cabin
Some of the first log structures were built in Northern Europe many thousands of years ago, and they’re most commonly associated with Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
They’re built out of logs laid on top of each other horizontally, with notches at both ends to form weather tight corners. The thick solid wood provide much better insulation over a timber frame covered with skins, boards, or shingles.
With suitable tools and logs, a log cabin can be erected (and disassembled) from scratch in days by a family but it can stand for potentially hundreds of years. In fact, not far from where I live you’ll find one of Sweden’s best preserved old farms with log structures built in the 1700’s that’s still in good condition.
Just as with the Clochán, the log cabin gets its structural integrity from compressional forces, and a log cabin tends to slightly compress as it settles over a few months or years.

9. The Long House

The Norse LonghouseReconstructed long house in the Vikingmuseum in Borg, Vestvågøy/Lofoten, Norway
Longhouses have been built all over Europe, Asia and the Americas, but may be most commonly associated with the Iroquois tribes in North America, as well as with the Norse (better known as the Vikings) in Scandinavia.
They are built similarly to wigwams, with pole frames and bark covering. The main difference is that longhouses are much, much larger. Longhouses could be 200 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 20 feet high.
Smaller longhouses housed one or several multi-generational families while larger ones could house an entire clan– as many as 60 people!

10. The Bamboo House

Bamboo House
Tahitian bamboo house, c. 1902
Not a house design but rather an excellent building material, bamboo has a high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures. It grows fast, it’s light-weight, and is a sustainable source of building material.
In its natural form, bamboo as a construction material is traditionally associated with the cultures of South Asia, East Asia and the South Pacific, to some extent in Central and South America,

11. The Pueblo

Pueblos are adobe house complexes used by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest. They’re modular, multi-story houses made of adobe (clay and straw baked into hard bricks) or of large stones cemented together with adobe.
A whole pueblo housing comples can house an entire clan, with each adobe unit being home to one family much like a modern apartment. These houses can last for dozens of generations or longer in a warm, dry climate.

12. The Earthen House

Earthen House
Turf house in Sænautasel, Iceland.
In the old days you’d find several types of earthen houses around the world, including Native American houses such as the Navajo hogans, Sioux earth lodges, pit houses of the West Coast and Plateau, as well as subarctic sod houses in Alaska, Canada and on Iceland in the Atlantic.
These are all semi-subterranean houses, sheltered by the surrounding earth on three or four sides with a roof on top. The main benefit of the earthen house is that you’re sheltered from both cold and wind by the earth, and if you face large windows towards the south you can potentially heat your home 100% passively from the sun.

13. The Igloo

Igloos are snow houses used by the Inuit (Eskimos) of northern Canada. Igloos are dome-shaped shelters built from the snow, with large blocks of ice set in a spiral pattern and packed with snow to form the dome.
You’d be surprised how warm an igloo can get when it’s freezing outside! “On the outside, temperatures may be as low as −45 °C (−49 °F), but on the inside the temperature may range from −7 °C (19 °F) to 16 °C (61 °F) when warmed by body heat alone.” – Cornell University, 2003

14. The Yurt

The Yurt
The yurt is a portable shelter used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia for at least three thousand years. You read that correctly. 3000 years. Wow.
Traditional yurts consist of an expanding wooden circular frame carrying a felt cover, and complete construction takes as little as 2 hours.

15. The Walipini

The Walipini
© Neo-farms
Not as ancient as the other shelters on this list, the walipini is still worth a mention because it’s such a simple yet brilliant idea, and it can be built for as little as $300.
A walipini is an underground greenhouse that lets you grow food year-round, and the idea was first developed in Bolivia, South America. It uses the same earth sheltering principles as many of the ancient house designs on this list.
What makes the walipini better than hoop houses and green houses? First, by locating the growing area 6’- 8’ underground you take advantage of the constant temperature of the earth below the frost level. Second, you can capture and store the daytime solar radiation in the surrounding earth which then radiates back into the greenhouse during the cold winter nights.

What Can We Learn?

You might not want to move into a tipi any time soon, but there are still a lot to learn from our ancestors.
These ancient house designs are better than modern homes in many aspects because they were adapted specifically for their environments. The homes in the Arizona desert looked much different from the homes in the Alaskan tundra, and nomadic people had different needs than agricultural people.
The point is that our ancestors were as One with their environments and co-existed with Nature. These people were native to the land, while modern man is more like an invasive species that does not know its place in Nature.
But, maybe most of all, these homes illustrate that the builders knew when enough was enough. They were clear about the purpose of building a home, i.e. to stay protected from the elements and have a safe place to sleep, rather than constantly expending their life energy on trying to build bigger and fancier homes.
Here’s a closing thought from Henry David Thoreau:
It is possible to invent a house still more convenient and luxurious than we have, which yet all would admit that man could not afford to pay for. Shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less? Shall the respectable citizen thus gravely teach, by precept and example, the necessity of the young man’s providing a certain number of superfluous glow-shoes, umbrellas, and empty guest champers for empty guests, before he dies? Why should not our furniture be as simple as the Arab’s or the Indian’s?

Books Of Interest: