Build The Benefits of Raised Beds

Raised beds are the perfect way to start your own garden. Fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs can all thrive in the raised bed environment. The popularity of raised beds is on the rise because of their many benefits – reduce soil erosion, the ease of access to control weeds and pick vegetables, creation of a warmer soil temperature in the spring, plus many more

Follow this guide to learn how to create your own raised bed garden. From the building materials to the vegetables – We dive into everything you will need to create a flourishing raised bed.

Click to Enlarge Image Build The Benefits of Raised Beds Build The Benefits of Raised Beds Infographic by CustomMade

Share on Tumblr

Camping Hacks for Families

Source: Fix.com

Make Your Next Camping Trip a Breeze

Ah, the family camping trip: fun-filled days at the lake or river, restful afternoons lying in a hammock slung between two trees, roasting marshmallows by the fire, and snuggling into cozy sleeping bags at night. At least, that’s what glossy magazine covers and campground brochures would have you believe about the experience. If this idealized version of events doesn’t exactly mirror your own camping experiences, you’re not alone. My first few excursions into the great outdoors with my kids involved more work than play, more chaos than relaxation, and far more dirt (on everything) than I bargained for. In the years since, I’ve learned some tricks of the trade that have turned my camping trips into (almost) the postcard version.

Want to ensure that your next camping trip is relaxing, stress-free, and focused on the fun, not the chores, in the outdoors? The following camping tips will ensure more time in the hammock and less time over a camp stove.

Double Duty - Make your next camping trip a breeze with these fun hacks for families. We'll help you save time, space, and money with these tips for easy camping with children.

Simplification is the key to creating a relaxed camping atmosphere. Reduce clutter around the campsite and shorten your packing list by bringing a few ordinary objects that can double as useful camping tools.

 

  • Instead of hauling bags of ice (and dealing with the mess), freeze plastic water bottles and let them slowly melt, first cooling your food, then ensuring hydration.
  • Skip the bulky camping lantern: instead, simply wrap a standard headlamp around a clear plastic water jug. It will light up the entire picnic area for games of cards after dark.
  • No need to bring sleeping pads and water toys. Sleep on plastic blow-up air mattresses that can go straight from the tent to the lake. Float on them during the day (or take a nap!), then return them to the campsite each night.
  • Don’t buy an expensive camp kitchen set. Bring a hanging shoe organizer to store camp kitchen supplies, such as spices or grilling tools.
  • Why buy fire starter or chemical-based gel? Use dryer lint as your fire-starter: simply save lint in cardboard egg carton pockets, pour wax over each pod, then bring along to start your fire.
  • If you buy coffee at home, there’s no need to buy a toilet paper roll container. Store toilet paper rolls in your empty plastic coffee containers (the big ones work best). The toilet paper will stay dry and be easy for kids to find when they need it.

 

Must-Have Luxury Items - Follow these fun camping hacks to save time, space, and money on your next family trip!

Unfortunately, not every camping item can be “MacGyvered” from items you already own. A few camping “luxury” items can go a long way toward ultimate comfort and fun in the outdoors.

 

  • A good hammock: We stand behind the Grand Trunks Goods double hammock (as reviewed on PracticalTravelGear.com), which is easy to set up, comes in a compact stuff sack, and fits two people comfortably.
  • Headlamps for everyone: A headlamp can be picked up for under $10 and allows for hands-free illumination. We’ll never return to clumsy flashlights again.
  • Hydration packs: Want kids to stay hydrated? Outfit them with small hydration packs (one liter will do). Most day packs now fit hydration pack bladders, which can be purchased solo for under $30.
  • Water shoes for the family: Say goodbye to stubbed toes and splinters in little feet. Water shoes can be worn in and out of water, performing double duty as light hiking shoes. We love the Keens and Columbia options.
  • A dining set for every family member: Check out Light My Fire: this camping product company makes individual meal kits that include a plate, bowl, cup, and utensils that all fit together. Kids take pride in ownership, which means they’ll do their own dishes.
  • Mosquito bands, candles, or clothing: Mosquitos are an unfortunate evil of outdoor recreation, and repellent spray is often unhealthy and smelly. Mosquito bands are a non-intrusive alternative, and they can be bought for just a few dollars. Ditto for citronella candles, which can be set out on picnic tables after dark. If you want to go high-tech, try insecticide-treated clothing, with repellent infused directly into the fabric. Exofficio.com and Columbia.com both make shirts, pants, and bandanas in this fashion, but they won’t come cheap.
  • Sun and shade shelter: Everyone remembers a tent, but many campers overlook the convenience and comfort offered by a sun and shade shelter. These simple canopies can be set up over picnic tables for shaded meals and card games or brought to the lakeshore to protect kids from the sun.

 

Dining Hacks

Families can have all the right gear and convenient household items, but if you’re still slaving over the camp stove, your trip won’t be relaxing. The following dining hacks make meal prep and planning a breeze. We prefer to cook most of our meals over the campfire or on the BBQ to make food fun and clean-up simple.

 

  • Grill fruit on the barbecue: Fruit is more appealing than grilled veggies to kids, and with a little whipped cream, you can skip the marshmallows. We prefer to create fruit kabobs with stone fruit such as peaches, pineapple, grapes (cut in half for young children), and strawberries. Local berries bought at farm stands or even picked by the family work well, too.
  • Make “pocket” dinners: Create pockets of tin foil and fill with sliced potatoes, zucchini, onions, and other veggies, and then let them cook in the coals. It’s best to use heavy duty foil to ensure that ashes don’t get into your meal. Each pocket is customizable and fun to eat! Best of all, when you’re done, simply ball up your foil and toss it on the fire. Dishes are done!
  • Pack milk substitutes instead of cow milk: Milk substitutes like soy, almond, and rice milk don’t have to be refrigerated, and vanilla or chocolate flavors are appealing to most kids, so there’s no need to worry about keeping milk cold for breakfast cereal.
  • Skip the dishes: Use empty snack-size chip bags as individual serving “bowls” for chili, stew, or even oatmeal. Kids love these “on-the-go” containers.
  • Don’t get fancier than boiled water: If you really want to simplify mealtime, buy dehydrated backpacking single- or double-serving meals. They taste just fine in the wilderness, require only boiling water, and take about five minutes to prepare.

 

Cooking Up A Storm - Taking children on a camping trip is rewarding but also hectic. Follow these camping hacks for families to make your next trek to the outdoors with children run smoothly

Camp Close to Home

There is no need to drive hours for a family camping trip. Find a campground close to home to keep stress at a minimum. Plus, being near home allows for spontaneous camping or quick returns home for forgotten items. Check your region’s state park listings and then search for available sites online. KOA.com is a good resource for campsites with kid-friendly amenities, like pools or mini golf courses. A short drive and familiarity with the surroundings helps campers to relax more quickly.

Source: Fix.com

Share on Tumblr

The Benefits of Cattails as a Survival Food Source

This is a great article from Eat The Weeds, on the benefits of Cattails as a survival food source. It is a readily abundant wild edible in North America.

No green plant produces more edible starch per acre than the Cat O’ Nine Tails; not potatoes, rice, taros or yams. Plans were underway to feed American soldiers with that starch when WWII stopped. Lichen, not a green plant, might produce more carbs per acre. One acre of cattails can produce 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average (Harrington 1972).

It is said that if a lost person has found cattails, they have four of the five things they need to survive: Water, food, shelter and a source of fuel for heat—the dry old stalks. The one item missing is companionship.  Of course, the other thing to point out is that no matter where the water flows, down stream is civilization in North, Central and South America. 

Cattails are the supermarket of the wilds. The young cob-like tips of the plant are edible as is the white bottom of the stalk, spurs off the main roots and spaghetti like rootlets off the main roots. They have vitamins A, B,and C, potassium and phosphorus. The pollen can be used like flour.  I like their convenience as a trail nibble, or canoe nibble as it were. Just pull on one and where it pulls from the stalk there’s usually a tasty bite or two.

Cattails are the champion of starch production. The way you get the starch is to clean the exterior of the roots and then crush them in clean water and let them sit. The starch settles to the bottom then one pours off the water.  It may take several drain and settle sessions get rid of the fiber. I sampled the starch raw once and got a bit of a stomach ache.  Once you have just the starch it is excellent for cooking as you would any flour. Getting starch that way is quite labor intensive. Here are three other ways to get to the root starch:

Dry the peeled roots (peel roots while they are wet–they are difficult to peel when dry). Chop roots into small pieces, and then pound them wtih a little water. When the long fibers are removed, the resultant goup powder can be dried and used as flour.   The roots also can be boiled like potatoes then the starch chewed out (spitting away the fibers) or you can also roast the root in a fire until the outer spongy core is completely black. Then chew the starch off of the fiber.  Don’t eat the fiber. It will give you a stomach ache. I know from personal experience. The advantage of the latter method is no pots or pans are needed. If you have fire and a pond you have a nutritious meal.  You can also put the roots on the barbecue.

[source]

Share on Tumblr

Top 11 Uses For Alcohol In A Post SHTF Scenario

One of the top items to add to your survival preps

There are hundreds, if not thousands of uses for alcohol in an disaster or emergency situation, but I these are MY top 11 uses.

  • Barter & Trade (use in place of money, which will be worthless)
  • Medical (antiseptic for wounds, sterilize needles, knives and other instruments)
  • Fuel for engines (use as fuel on small equipment, generators, etc)
  • Make herbal tinctures and elixirs
  • Solvent (use to clean guns, razors and other tools)
  • Numbing agent (if you need to knock someone out for dental or medical surgery)
  • Weapon (can be used to make accelerant bombs)
  • Morale booster (keep spirits up during difficult or cold times)
  • Attract a mate (set the mood, can be used to repopulate the human race)

Currently, in my preps I have 2 cases (12 bottles each case, one name brand & one of the cheap stuff): Vodka. Whiskey, Rum, Red Wine & High proof alcohol (Everclear). Granted this quantity of stock is not very mobile, and is best stored in a bugout or bug-in location.

What type of alcohol would/do you stock?

Share on Tumblr

Poisonous Animals You Can’t Eat

Survival manuals often mention that the livers of polar bears are toxic due to their high concentrations of vitamin A. For this reason, we mention the chance of death after eating this organ. Another toxic meat is the flesh of the hawksbill turtle. You recognize them by their down-turned bill and yellow polka dots on their neck and front flippers. They weigh more than 275 kilograms and are unlikely to be captured. 

POISONOUS ANIMALS YOU CAN'T EAT

Many fish living in reefs near shore or in lagoons and estuaries are poisonous to eat, though some are only seasonally dangerous. The majority are tropical fish; however, be wary of eating any unidentifiable fish wherever you are. Some predatory fish, such as barracuda and snapper, may become toxic if the fish they feed on in shallow waters are poisonous. The most poisonous types appear to have parrot-like beaks and hard, shell-like skins with spines and often can inflate their bodies like balloons. However, at certain times of the year, indigenous populations consider the puffer a delicacy. 

Blowfish

Blowfish or puffer (Tetraodontidae species) are more tolerant of cold water. You find them along tropical and temperate coasts worldwide, even in some of the rivers of Southeast Asia and Africa. Stout-bodied and round, many of these fish have short spines and can inflate themselves into a ball when alarmed or agitated. Their blood, liver and gonads are so toxic that as little as 28 milligrams (1 ounce) can be fatal. These fish vary in color and size, growing up to 75 centimeters in length. 

Triggerfish

The triggerfish (Balistidae species) occur in great variety, mostly in tropical seas. They are deep-bodied and compressed, resembling a seagoing pancake up to 60 centimeters in length, with large, sharp dorsal spines. Avoid them all, as many have poisonous flesh. 

Barracuda

Although most people avoid them because of their ferocity, they occasionally eat barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). These predators of mostly tropical seas can reach almost 1.5 meters in length and have attacked humans without provocation. They occasionally carry the poison ciguatera in their flesh, making them deadly if consumed. 

Other Dangerous Sea Creatures

The blue-ringed octopus, jellyfish, and the cone and auger shells are other dangerous sea creatures.

Blue-Ringed Octopus

Most octopi are excellent when properly prepared. However, the blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) can inflict a deadly bite from its parrotlike beak. Fortunately, it is restricted to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and is very small. It is easily recognized by its grayish white overall color and iridescent blue rings. Authorities warn that all tropical octopus species should be treated with caution, since many have poisonous bites, although the flesh is edible. 

Jellyfish

Jellyfish-related deaths are rare, but the sting they inflict is extremely painful. The Portuguese man-of-war resembles a large pink or purple balloon floating on the sea. It has poisonous tentacles hanging up to 12 meters below its body. The huge tentacles are actually colonies of stinging cells. Most known deaths from jellyfish are attributed to the man-of-war. Other jellyfish can inflict very painful stings as well. Avoid the long tentacles of any jellyfish, even those washed up on the beach and apparently dead. 

Cone Shell

The subtropical and tropical cone shells (Conidae species) have a venomous harpoonlike barb. All are cone-shaped and have a fine netlike pattern on the shell. A membrane may possibly obscure this coloration. There are some very poisonous cone shells, even some lethal ones in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Avoid any shell shaped like an ice cream cone. 

Auger Shell

The auger shell or terebra (Terebridae species) are much longer and thinner than the cone shells but can be nearly as deadly as the cone shells. They are found in temperate and tropical seas. Those in the Indian and Pacific oceans have a more toxic venom in their stinging barb. Do not eat these snails, as their flesh may be poisonous.

 

[source]

Share on Tumblr

Why Try Body Armor?

As this is the first post I’ve had about body armor, we’ll start with a little bit of history:

Bullet-Proof-Vest

The modern form of body armor has its Western origins in Italy and England in the mid- to late-1500s. From there, we move on to various updated forms of body armor, paying
particular attention to forms of “bulletproof vests,” experimenting with steel breast plates and cotton padding. The greatest shift occurs with the discovery of properties leading to the creation of Kevlar® in the 1970s. The synthetic fibre known as Kevlar® is extremely strong, while having the benefit of being lightweight. This revolutionary discovery lead to the advancement of improvements with body armor, allowing for a less restricted frame of movement while being exceedingly strong. Though the name Kevlar is synonymous with bulletproof vests, there are similar aramids used to create vests, such as Twaron and Heracron.

There are various types of body armor on the market, with different levels of strength, as outlined by the NIJ. The NIJ takes care to note the difference between bullet proof and bullet resistant. Although the types of ammunition increase incrementally as the armor level goes up, as armor cannot protect against every type of ammunition, they thus cannot be called bulletproof. In fact, “an extremely small percentage of cases, a round can even go through a vest that it is rated to stop,” meaning that one must exercise reasonable precaution even while wearing a form of body armor.

Although the Level IIA offers the lightest weight, and thus is easiest to conceal, it may not be an optimal choice for your protection needs. For comparison purposes, the vest most commonly worn by police officers is a Level II. Interamer offers a pretty comprehensive chart outlining the specific weapons and ammunitions each armor level will cover. As the protection level increases, so too does the weight of the vest. You should be taking that fact into account when it comes to choosing your vest – if your vest is too heavy to comfortably wear, you’ll likely forgo wearing it altogether.

Another important thing to keep in mind about your body armor is its longevity. Though the NIJ “rates for five years of service,” that ends up depending on how often it’s worn. A vest worn at least semi-daily will have more wear than one worn sporadically, so further inspection is required. Related to this, due to wear and weather conditions weakening the ballistic fibers, the strength of your vest will end up dwindling over time. As it is unsafe to buy a used vest because of this, I wouldn’t recommend trying to sell it either.Teijin Aramid, the company that produces the synthetic fiber known as Twaron offers a buy-back program of vests. The materials are recycled and used as an “asbestos replacement.”

Provided you care for and wear them properly, a bullet resistant vest could end up being a worthy investment. So long as the vest is fitted properly, it has the benefit of offering additional protection in case of vehicle crashes. If you’re realistic about what a bullet resistant vest could do for you, the positives of owning (and more importantly wearing) one certainly outweigh the negatives.

Share on Tumblr

No Gutters On Your House – Create a “Drain Barrel” (Rainwater Collection System)

Picture of Gutterless Rain Barrel - DIY
DIY rainwater collection system
make your own rain collection system
water containers
drain  barrel steps
This is a great idea for capturing rainwater for your home, garden or even at your bugout location. It comes in handy in places where you may not be able to tap a well or water source directly.
I wanted to share instructions on how to build a “drain barrel” for those of you who may not have gutters on your house.  This project is most useful for those of us who have a clearly-defined gouge in our wood chips where the water pours off the roof.

Step 1:

Step 1 to build your own rainwater collection system
Purchase three cedar decking boards and screw them together in the shape of a trough. Seal all joined edges with a clear silicone caulk.

Step 2:

Step 2 to build your own rainwater collection system
Obtain containers in which the capture the rainwater; it would be best to find containers with about a 2″ opening.

Step 3:

Step 3 to build your own rainwater collection system
Line up the containers and measure the distance between the center of the containers’ openings. Leave about 1/2″ per container for expansion.  Measure the diameter of the container’s opening and use a hole saw (attached to the drill) to make holes in the trough.

Step 4:

Step 4 to build your own rainwater collection system
Purchase a 10′ length of PVC pipe. It should be slightly less in diameter than your hole. Count the number of holes and divide evenly. Cut the PVC into equal lengths.  Purchase a narrowing PVC conduit to glue to the top of your pipes.  Drill two holes in the widest part of the conduit and use a miter saw to remove the material between the holes. This will make a slit to help drain the water into the pipe and ultimately into your container.

Step 5:

Step 5 to build your own rainwater collection system
Construct some simple “feet” to attach to the ends of the trough. If you drill a hole in the middle of the end of the trough, you will be able to swivel the trough up-side-down on the lag bolt to prevent snow from weighing the trough down during the winter.  Dig a hole on both ends for the “feet”, level the trough, and add concrete to prevent the structure from moving during a hard rain.

Step 6:

Step 6 to build your own rainwater collection system
Rake the area under the trough so that you can remove the containers easily. Insert the PVC pipe, and add metal menders if you like to ensure the container’s slit stays level with the trough. When it rains, the water will be directed from the trough, into the PVC pipe and then into your container.  When the container is full, lift the PVC pipe out of the mouth of the container, remove the container, and water your plants.  When the container is empty, put it back under the trough and slip the PVC pipe back down into the mouth of the container.  If you like, you can purchase a rain barrel with which to pour the full containers.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share on Tumblr