Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hiking Packs

Spring time, what an awesome time of year, the weather is finally warming up a bit. Yes for some of us here int he Midwest it hasn't hardly come close to feeling like spring yet, but that should change this week according to the weatherman. There have been a couple decent days so far, not nearly as many as I would like.

Which brings me to this post, if you and yours are like my family we go out on what our 4 y/o calls "nature walks". We just load up and head out to the woods for a nice long walk on nice days, I am not talking miles and miles here. (how far can you really walk with a four year old in tow). We walk maybe a mile or two when we have the whole family along. There is one thing that I NEVER leave home without and it isn't my credit card, it is my day pack.

I have several different packs for different things, the one we will focus on today is my hiking or out for a walk pack. There are things in this pack that are a bit different from say a overnight pack or a few days pack. Bear in mind that you should tailor your pack to fit your needs, this is by no means a be all end all list of what you should have, that is up to you. This is to give you a great starting point of things to consider. I am about to list a few things that would be a very good idea to have in your pack in no particular order.

1. First Aide Kit: This should be a a staple in every pack for sure! There is no a reason to go out and buy a per-assembled kit. A zip lock bag with a few band-aides, a small roll of gauze, some tape and antibiotic ointment is about all you really need in it. If an injury requires more than this, you are in far worse trouble than you can take care of in most cases.

2. Emergency Blanket: These weigh next to nothing and cost very little, but can be a life saver if the weather were to take a turn for the worse if you are in an area where you are prone to freak spring snow storms. They can also be used to stay dry if it begins to rain, plus many other uses.

3. Folding Saw: Small folding saw, these can normally be picked up at camping, discount or big box stores for less than $10.00 If something were to happen, for instance you walked farther than you thought or maybe you just got tired and decided to spend the night. These are great sawing small limbs to help make a shelter even a simply lean-to.

4.Water Bottle:  Stainless steel water bottle, or a water bottle for sure. I say a stainless bottle because if the need were to arise you are able to boil water to disinfect it.

5. Firestarter: This can be in the form of a lighter, ferro rod, or a magnesium block and striker. I do have 2 different firestarters in my pack for those times when one will not work for some reason or another.

6. Knives: Remember the rule of two: Two is one and one is none. There are so many things that a good knife is useful for, it should be common sense.

7. Cordage: This can be in the form of different things, a roll of tared bank line, about 30 feet of 550 para-cord or even a survival bracelet. 

All of these things can help you in most any situation. You should tailor these to your individual needs. Not only are these things helpful but also grant you peace of mind that you are prepared if the need comes.

If you feel that there is something that I should include, or even if you disagree with this list please feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beans, Peas and Cucumbers

In staying with my gardening series, I know that this method for growing is not new by any means to some people, to others though it could be. As with anything, making things easier on you in the long run will help you become more productive. The same can be said with gardening. Who doesn't like fresh green beans, peas or cucumbers?
Whats the best way? The best way to grow them is what works for you! Now, what works best for me is to let them climb. No bending over, no back strain, just easy pick'ns. As far as what to let them climb up, that is entirely up to you. I have done it many ways, I will post below a few pictures of the ways I have done it, from simple pole and string to more of a permanent area using wooden lattice.

I do not have pictures of the lattice trellis that I used last year, I will have to do an update later this spring with that. As you can see you can eliminate the back breaking of bending over or being on your hands and knees when picking these little pots of gold. Not only is it easier on you, but it is also easier on the plants, (especially if you have younger ones out there helping you pick) they wont be stepping on the vines.

Remember to plant in an area where they can get lots of sun and plenty of water. A good shot of compost tea does wonders also.

Till next time!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Time

Those of you that have followed my posts for the last couple of years, you know that I do not strictly stick to survival. I have done things on canning, cold storage and different things also. I try to write about things that people can use in a practical sense.

I am going to be doing a series in the next little while on gardening. Yes, I know that most people can plant a seed, give it a bit of water and watch it grow. What I will do in this series is offer some tips and tricks on making your garden so it is not as hard on YOU to do.

Lets start off with something easy like onions. Did you know that you can have green onions all year long no matter where you live by planting them in the house in a planter? Yes, you sure can here is the proof:

Keep in mind that these are only about a week and a half old. There are a couple different methods to growing these little gems all year long. One of which is the obvious, getting enough seed to last you the year and just use and replant. The other, which I do normally but couldn't this time do to the fact that the ends were accidentally thrown away. You will have to forgive me, I do not have a picture of the ends that I have replanted in the past. I will remember to take one when I replant these.

In order to replant onions once you have harvested them, simply cut from the root end about a half an inch up (leaving the roots and a half in of the bottom of the onion). Once you have cut the bottoms, place them in a bowl of room temperature water to rehydrate them for about 15 minutes. After you have gotten the ends re-hydrated, simply replant them. I have done this as many as 6 times.

If chives are what you are looking for, just let the onions grow and simply cut off the green stem part down towards the bottom and they will regrow.

If there is something in particular that you would like to see an article about, feel free to leave me a comment and I will do my best to get one done for you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Oven Canning Dry Goods

Sorry all, I know I haven't posted much lately, but I promise you will love this one!!!

After thinking about trying to buy a vacuum sealer and realizing that they are pretty spendy to say the least. That got me to thinking, how else can I store some dry goods. I could, put things like rice, beans and flour into number 10 cans. Then I thought, well, that wont work because I don't know anyone that has a caner like that. So, that option is out. I have also heard about using freezer bags, and storing it in the freezer. Ok, that might be an option I thought, but then, what happens while moving things around in the freezer and you tear a bag? you will have a mess, not only that but if you have an odor of some sort in there it will probably take that on too.

Well..... now what....

Then I had the bright idea, hmmmm, how about heat canning some how in glass canning jars? So, I did a little experimenting. After a couple of unsuccessful efforts, I tried one last time. How did I finally figure it out you ask, well sit down and listen (read close) It should be noted that since I have done this, I started with flour and have moved on to also include, dry beans, rice, corn meal and oat meal all uncooked of course.

1. The first thing you HAVE to do is to make sure that your jars, quarts or pints are clean and MUST be dry, that is very important as I found out.

2. Fill your jars to with in about a half inch of the top, giving it a little shake to get it all settled. Do NOT put lids or rings on yet.!!

3. Place a cookie sheet into the oven, set your filled jars onto the baking sheet. Turn the oven on to 200 Deg. Shut the door (obviously) and set your timer for 60 minutes or 1 hour which ever is greater. (ha ha a bit of humor there)

4. Lay out a towel onto the counter or the table so the hot glass does not come in contact with the table surface. One by one take the jars out of the oven and screw down the lids till they are pretty tight. As they cool, you will here them start to seal just as if you were water bath canning or the such. There you have it.

I should note here, that the ONLY issue I have had doing this, is that the flour will cake a bit inside of the jar, What I have done is take a knife and push it close to the bottom to loosen the flour up a bit. Once you have it loose, just pour it into a gallon zip-lock bag and finish getting the "clumps" out of it. Then just pour it into your canister or whatever you store flour in. As far as the other things that I have tried, the ONLY other issue I have had, is that the oat meal does take on a bit of a "roasted" taste which, honestly I like.

Disclaimer, In being totally honest here, AFTER I went through all of the trial, and mess-ups I did a bit of research on this very thing, and it turns out that people have been doing this for a long time. Hmmm, who'da knew..... In doing my research, I found that by using this method, these things can be kept reasonable for about 15 years.

Well, there you have it my way of oven canning. If you think you have a better way, please feel free to comment.

Thanks and have a great day!!