Monday, December 23, 2013

Nothing at All...

Over the weekend NW Vermont had a wonderful ice storm. The news was reporting that it was worse than the 1998 ice storm. One of the electric co-ops actually requested the Red Cross to open a couple of shelters. During the early morning hours on Sunday I was was what looked like lightening, but it turns out that the transformers were popping and trees shorting out power lines were the cause.
The weather was funny. Raining and freezing as it hit. Overcast, foggy skies. I cleaned off a two inch blanket of ice of the cars. Trees are popping and snapping leaving one heck of a mess. Sunday appears was the worse day at the moment in the this storm. Still have the branches loaded with ice and it is going to get a colder. More snapping with limbs and trees coming down soon enough. We were without power most of Sunday until late evening. No TV, no internet, I live in an area where cell phone coverage is generally not available for the carrier I use.

What did I do and what did I learn?

Nothing beats a quiet day with the wife and Christmas music playing on the radio...

Heat - I used a small indoor propane heater called or made by Mr. Heater. Has two ceramic waffle plates that heat up a small room nicely. When I bought the heater I bought the extension hose that connects to a grill tank. Normally the heater will use two Coleman fuel lantern tanks. The wife was happy about being toasty warm. No smells or fuss.

Food & Water - Well, what can be said about this. I suppose that people should exercise a bit of common sense here. Having a supply of food and water to go for a week or more is a given. If you don't I would give some thought to it. No issues with hydrating or eating.

Communications - I have a small portable radio that I listened to local news, music, and shortwave. My scanner radios were working as well as my 2M/440 radio. Used FRS radios to update and keep in touch with the neighbors. The one radio I was not going to use is the HF rig. I need to work out the DC power for that. I have car battery that I trickle charge that I connect to my DC distribution panel. It is not a deep cycle battery so I don't get to carried away when it is hooked up.

Lighting - I have purchased some 12VDC LED reading lights from Amazon. Very bright and useful. I plan to get several more as they draw .020 amps DC. The battery will last forever with lamps like this. For wandering around we have some LED flashlights. No worries with lighting.

Power - As mentioned above I have a auto battery for the radios and a couple of lights. Total draw with radio receiving and LED RV Lamp was four (4) amps. Also, cranked up the generator long enough to recharge the battery.

What do I want or rather what does the wife want? What do I need to do to provide the wants?
TV and internet. Working out the details for these two. Got pieces & parts on order.

Stay Tuned....


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

To Listen/Watch RF Spectrum...

Sometimes I like to know what is happening around me. Actually most of the time I want to know what is happening around me. Scanner radio's can be expensive and in some cases controlled and have limited coverage. Governments have a tendency to want to hide what they are up to. What can the average person get a hold of without spending a ton of cash to be able to listen and watch what is happening around them.

First off get a hold of this free application. Donate if you can afford it and like it.
Get this one. Plugins for SDR#: SDR# Plugins.
This one has a few plugins as well: RTL-SDR SDR# Plugins.

On to the hardware. A person can be one of these USB DVB-T  RTL2832U tuners for 10$ on e-bay. Amazon has them, I am not sure who is cheaper. Depends on the day I suppose.

The tuner I bought has the MCX connector for the antenna. I purchased an adapter that changes MCX to BNC with a short length of cable between the two connectors. The cost for the adapter was 6$ with free shipping. Next on the list was a three foot USB extension cable M/F (3$). This lets me get the tuner up a little bit away from the laptop. Finally a collapsible antenna (10$).

This little setup lets me listen 30 MHz to 1.8 GHz, AM, FM, LSB, USB. Has a waterfall to watch for transmissions. While you may not be able to understand if they are using P25, but you will know something is happening. Guesstimate distance from your location.
So for 30$ I have a wide band receiver. The software works with Linux and Windoz. Lots to explore.

** Remember these types of devices can be used by good people as well as bad.


Friday, August 23, 2013

to Make a Tincture...

Well, summer is coming to a close. We built a solar food dryer and played around with strawberries and bananas. The strawberries worked out the best, the bananas not so much. Needed more time for them.

For a definition check wikipedia for Tincture. Basically a concentrated form of medicinal herb suspended in an alcohol base. For the alcohol I used 80 proof vodka. Never made a tincture before, so I had to do some reading. I have several books about herbal medicine and as well as poking around the internet.

Check out these books...
Handbook Native American Herbs Healing
Peterson Field Guide Medicinal Plants Herbs
Backyard Medicine Harvest Herbal Remedies

Of course there are more on the subject. I do have a few more, but these are what I keep handy. I went to the local grocery and picked up a case of large mouth pint canning jars and lids. Also, got some wax and pectin. Just in case we want to try and make some jam later.  So here is what I did.

First I sterilized the lids and bottles.
1 cup of dried chaga into a pint jar.
Filled the remainer of the jar with vodka.
Try to leave as little air space a possible.
Shake daily and let seat for a month.

The second batch is made of black elder berries.
1 cup of elder berries, I used a fork to mash the berries.
Turns out to be 1/2 a cup. (Next batch will be 2 cups of whole berries)
Filled the remainer of the jar with vodka.
Try to leave as little air space a possible.
Shake daily and let seat for a month.

Both will stay in the dark corner of the pantry for a month. I have some yarrow and self-heal in the yard. I am going to pick some to dry as well as make a batch of tincture for them.

As a matter of fact my wife just finished making a small batch of black elderberry syrup. We will have to taste test in a bit.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Solar Food Dryer...

** Update 2 Aug 13
Did get to experiment with some blueberries, strawberries, banana's. The dryer reached a temperature of 160 degrees. The strawberries dried the best and tasted very good. The banana's looked like they were drying well, but were not quite ready after ten hours. They would have needed another four to five hours maybe? Blueberries never got close. I lanced them, poked them with a fork. They will take a couple of days.
Overall a pretty cool project.

Was looking for an alternative to a food dryer that you buy at the big box stores. Off to the internet I went searching and reading about solar food dryers. Why even try to do something like this? Why not? Seems like a good project to learn about.
Below are three links to videos on my progress.

Solar Food Dryer Part 1
Solar Food Dryer Part 2
Solar Food Dryer Part 3

This project is based on the book Solar Food Dryer by Eben Fodor.

Stay tuned as I will post more on the progress and use. It will be interesting to see how this works and how well I master the drying times.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Small Mess Kit for my Pack?

Not to long ago I put together emergency packs for the kids and wife to keep in their vehicles or to have if they are going off on a hike. The backs contained very basic supplies that met the needs for protection against the elements, filter/carry water, fire.
While going through my pack I noticed I had left something out that will be needed. What were we all going to do when it was time to break out the soup or oatmeal? Carrying water was covered, but we would need to find something to mix the water and oatmeal. Darn... All that planning and find I forgot something. This had to be rectified at once. I perused Amazon, e-bay for mess kits. What I landed on first was a nice little stainless cup.

This cup was found on Amazon for less than 15$ with free shipping
at the time. Feels well built. I have not got out to make my coffee or
chaga tea yet. Hope to do that soon.

So this cup fills the need for putting together a quick instant meal.
16 Oz. is good enough for a pack.

Then I found this at the local W**mart. Now this one looks very promising and in keeping with a kit that is compact. Check these pics out. This kit is made by Stanley. It is stainless steel and comes with a couple of insulated plastic cups.

 20 Oz will boil enough water for cup-o-soup or instant oatmeal. And keep the other cup free to make coffee.
 A vented lid to keep things under control and minimize a mess, maybe.
These are the insulated cups that come with the kit. Plastic and insulated to keep the contents cool or hot.

As you can see the Stanley adventure kit sits nicely into the other cup. Makes for a nice compact kit for the pack and light weight as well. W**mart had the best price for the kit, under 15$. While I did check online prices were much higher.
I think this is an awesome find for the pack.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

a Woodsman Axe...

Always wanted one of those Gransfors-Bruks small forest axe. Have to save up some funds for this purchase. Those axes are not on the inexpensive side.

Got the idea from here.
Woodtrekker - Cheap alternative for gransfors bruks

Tractors supply has this axe called a boys axe with w 2.25 pound head. I have been doing some grinding to make the edge of the axe head a bit narrower. A file to sharpen the edge and a handy dandy Puck stone to smooth the edge. Seems to cut well, holds an edge without to much wear. The axe has been used on hardwood and softwood. I cannot compare this axe to the Gransfors-Bruks, because I don't have one yet.

This pic is after the 2" sander I have for the air compressor. Removed the protective coating on the axe head. The coating seemed to offer up some resistance while chopping and not getting a lot of penetration per swing. So I cleaned it off most of the axe head. Gets a nice bite, edge is still needs work as I am not the most proficient sharpener. But, the edge I do have is nice and cuts well.

I will post updates if I come up with any here.


** As always this is a tool. Tools can be dangerous can cause injury. Always exercise caution. Wear gloves and eye protection using these types of tools...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Organic Tea that Our Ancestors Drank for Health & Curing Properties...

I have been poking around the internet re-kindling my interest in bushcraft and the associated knowledge that goes along with the practice. My interest in plants and their properties goes back to when I was a youngster. I follow a couple of channels on youtube that peaked my interest in a fungus called Chaga (Inonotus obliquus).
According to history this fungus was/is used by the people of the northern latitude as tea to maintain good health, sprinkled on food, in stew, etc. Used when sick to help the immune system fight the infection. Read more here: Mushroom Collecting - Chaga
Dr. Cass Ingram on Youtube has some great videos on Chaga: Dr. Cass Ingram
Also, here on the Renegade Health Show, and here at bushcraftbartons.

There are some birch out back on the property and so the hunt begins. After several walks around studying the trees our birch trees do not have any chaga. At least not yet. But, I continued to walk around the swamp and adjoining properties. This afternoon is a nice sunny day with the temp sitting at 44F in NW Vermont. Get the leash on Barney the Basset and collect the wife... Off we go.

Got the backpack, hatchet, Becker BK3, a couple of water bottles, bag(s). Here are some images of the Chaga that was found today. I was the one excited about the find. Barney could care less. The wife... well she was in a hurry to get out of the woods. Set them off in the direction of the road and told them I would catch up. Wouldn't you know I forgot the camera. Darn!!! But, here are some photos of the piece I got. I left much of it on the tree and got enough to last a while. 

Awesome afternoon in the woods. Now I need to cut this up and dry it out for tea. Chaga also makes great tinder for starting a fire. 
At the moment I have one cup of chaga tea a day. As I collect more I will consider replacing my morning coffee with chaga. Chaga is not bitter like coffee or tea. Has a mild flavor. Not sure how to explain it, but the drinker can add honey or the like to sweeten it up. 
Find some chaga and give it a try. Your body will thank you.


** Update
Here is a pic of the chaga chopped and ready to dry. Here is a helpful video on how to dry: Bushcraft Bartons - Drying Chaga

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A New RSS Reader...

While perusing the internet I came across an article about RSS readers. Listed there was one I have not heard of and headed over to their website. Blogbridge is a Java powered RSS reader. I loaded the application on my Ubuntu 12.04 laptop. I am still tinkering with the settings. I have not had a problem with it locking up like Liferea which I have on the same laptop.

Check it out here: Blogbridge

I do like it. If you use an RSS reader currently the layout for Blogbridge is similar.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

To Make A Knife...

I was doing some reading about knife making, and then to add to the process I watched several videos on Youtube. Found some really cool bushcraft websites, here is one of the many out there: Making a Bushcraft Knife.

I did not have much in the way of steel. I poked around the shed and found one of the old mower blades. So far so good. I noticed that the blade has a turned up corner, cut off that section. I don't have any way to heat up the metal to flatten. At least not yet. I do have plans to build a small forge very soon. Once again Youtube has plenty of videos on building a forge.

As for tools here is what I used:

Bench grinder
Belt sander (hand held, need to get a bench mount)
Dremel tool

I need to build a jig to get the blade bevel right. This is a learning experience so the first round will not be so good. Here are a few pic's of the project.

Need to come up with some scales for it. I will try to root up something out back in the woods. Maple, Birch, some decent hardwood. A small knife, but something to test out and learn from.

 Holes need to get drilled for the scales and lanyard before the tempering.

 The spine is approx. 3/16" thick. It will make a nice sturdy knife once it gets tempered.

More to follow as I gather up and build what I need to work through this project.


Friday, February 8, 2013

A Weekend Emergency Ration...

I was visiting different blogs reading different ideas about creating light weight food stuffs to have in my pack as a just in case. MRE's can be had for 10+ $'s from various places. After reading and poking around I decided on a path to take. I would create my own version of an E-RAT. As a matter of fact I made two for each of the kids, son-in-law, and wife.
I used my Food Saver to create an air tight package. I suppose that a zip lock bag will work as well.

Here is what I placed in the pack:
2 - Cliff bars
2 - Lipton Cup of Soup, Chicken Noodle
2 - Instant Oatmeal packets
2 - Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa
4 - Jolly Rancher Candies
3 - Instant Coffee packets
3 - 4C Light powdered drink mix packets (100% vitamin C)

This very basic packet is good for one day or over night stay in the woods. If one conserves maybe two days. The packs the kids have contain items to filter water, start a fire, container to heat and carry water or eat from. The items will keep for sometime, well over a year if not left in the sun. All that is needed is a fire and little water to create the meal.

All of the items can be purchased at the local grocery.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Way to Store Food...

Many ways exist to safely store food stuffs for future or emergency use. Folks can purchase dehydrated food in buckets that are meals, there are MRE's, any number of combinations are out there in the market place. The price also reflects the quantity, but not always the quality.
Uncle Sam recommends that Americans have at least three days of reserve food and water on hand.

Starting off with food storage. One will need food grade storage buckets. A lot of folks sell them, but this place has the best prices as they are a manufacturer; These five gallon pails will store plenty of beans, lentils, white rice, salt, pepper, sugar, and whatever else your heart desires.
I am not going into how to store the food. The internet has plenty of resources on how to store food. I am just putting up a link to the folks who had the best deal for me when I needed the buckets.

The Gamma lids are awesome and will not break you hands while opening them. A great find and worth sharing.

** Update 8 Feb 13
Here is a link(s) to some handy ideas for storing the food; Modern Survival, Backdoor Plenty of other resources out there, these are just a couple I have visit from time to time.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

To Learn Something New...

I have decided to try and learn something new; Emergency Medical Technician Basic (EMT-B). So far so good. My class meets two nights a week for three hours. The instructor(s) include one paramedic and a few intermediate EMT's. All of the instructors are very knowledgeable concerning the subject matter.
One particular area of interest is the FEMA training courses available to the general public free of charge. These courses can be taken by anyone and provide introduction(s) to several different topics in regards to disasters. A test can also be taken upon completion of the course. If a passing grade is received a certificate of completion is e-mailed to the users.

Check out the courses here: FEMA Independent Study

Why are these courses useful? Well, you can help your community to prepare for emergencies as well as the arrival of resources to implement recovery. These courses all provide some insight as to what is expected in government response and how the organization is built to respond. If a community decides to handle the recovery without external help than these course will provide basic knowledge of what should be done.

What is unfortunate is that whenever the government gets involved the recovery effort is prolonged and drawn out. This was witnessed locally.

So, maybe folks should complete these courses on their own and be ready to help their communities and keep the inept government out.


Friday, January 25, 2013

See What Congress is Voting On...

I found out about the awesome website that lets me read a Bill as well as send a note to my Congressman or Senator. The note lets these folks know if I support or oppose a particular Bill. Now if you decide to read a Bill you will be years ahead of those voting on them. I suspect the percentage who actual read them is pretty low. I base this one some of the recent Bills that have passed. To me it looks like some were never read, just stuffed with Pork and passed.
Anyway, here is the link.


Check it out. This has got to be the easiest way to read a Bill and let your delegation know where you stand.

** Be sure to read the Bill contents. Some of the titles will throw you off. I found out about this site from MAINEPREPPER on Youtube. Check out his channel, very informative.