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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Native plant sale

Native plants are a great option in your yard and garden. In addition to promoting a return to the natural state of your area, native plants tend to thrive with a minimal amount of care. Many species can be used for food, shade, ground restoration etc.

If you live near Yamhill County check out the upcoming native plant sale. I'll be there on the 13th so I can pick up some blue camas in addition to a few others I've ordered. For roughly 10,000 years natives burned local fields to encourage the growth of camas quamash and reduce weeds and douglas fir; at the same time it helped encourage the supremacy of oaks that provided acorns for food. Now we put out fires, I guess we know more in 200 years than they did in 10,000 - go figure. Sorry, I stepped up on the soapbox and that's not my intent for this forum.

Evergreen huckleberries, salal, elderberry, and Oregon grape are tasty additions to your yard, all can be eaten fresh, made into jams/jellies or used for wine. Kinnikinnick makes a great ground cover and the berries can be mixed with other berries for jams, and yes, it's been smoked by Native Americans as well as being used as a tea for urinary problems.

Pacific Yew is a great option too, though it likes to be under a canopy; such as doug fir and potentially oak; it will do well on the northern side of your house where it can get some shade. It makes a great self-bow if you're into that sort of thing but expect 8-10 years to get a 6" stick out of it. It's burned as waste during commercial lumber harvest, but it's bark is used as a cancer treatment after some serious lab work. I mention it here because it is disappearing from the environment and it's medical use make it worth preserving as a species that, and I like archery.

Wild ginger root is tasty too, if you want to plant it on the north side of your house as an herb. Bleeding heart is just beautiful, you should have some just for variety.

Last and most important, native plants are a perfect choice for guerrilla gardens if you're into such a thing. I appreciate the food aspect and the flowers are nice, but they should be responsible enough to only plant native plants.


The bounty of the sea or not

A couple weeks ago there was a great minus tide near Seaside about 7:30 at night. Sure I knew it was going to be dark but that's what my Coleman dual-fuel lantern is for. I love razor clams and other seafood so I figured it would be a cheap way to get a couple meals worth of seafood. With two adults and 2 boys I figured we could get 60 razor clams and have a bunch fresh and freeze or possibly dry some for later.

$50 later I had enough 4" PVC for 4 clam guns, after making two I figured one tall and one short version would be enough for the trip since I had a couple shoves that should work too. My wife decided she and the boys better have some rain boots since we'd be close to the water. Shellfish licenses for 2 adults ran us $13, the kids are still free.

We brought snacks and drinks but after a two hour drive and 30 minutes on the beach checking things out we decided it was still an hour before low tide and a hot drink would be nice. $10 more at a mini-mart we drove around sightseeing in the dark.

Well the big moment arrived, we parked on the beach and got out to enjoy the 30mph winds and horizontal wall of rain. I had decided a mag-light would work just as well, it didn't. The clam guns leaked air near the threads of the wing-nuts and only drew up about 2" of sand. The sand was so saturated with water the hole I dug with the shovel filled in almost as fast as I could dig it and to top it off, every time you tapped the sand to make the clam 'show' it was almost immediately washed away by the water, wind and rain.

After about 30 minutes I was soaked to the bone and knew everybody else was about as happy as I was. We got into the car with complaints of cold and hunger; we could have eaten more snacks and turned up the heater, we could have stopped at GAH! fast food, but Pig N Pancake sounded better.

I had the razor clams, I had been thinking about them for a week and didn't have a single one to take home. I figure those razor clams cost me $50 each, but I learned a lot and the next ones should only cost me the price of gas... I hope.

Next minus tides I can make it down for are next Saturday, wish me luck. After a month or two on the unsafe list mussels are back on the menu, I'll have to take a rake too.


Quick blender Salsa

A cheap Superbowl addition served with chips.

1 28 oz can, whole tomatoes with juice
1 medium sized yellow onion - 1" dices (white onion makes it a little hotter)
1 jalapeno - 1/2" dices (seeded and deveined for mild)
2 cloves of garlic diced fine
2 Tbls lemon or lime juice (vinegar is ok, but not my preference
1 tsp kosher salt (brings out the flavor of the cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne
2 Tbls cilantro - chopped to 1/2"

Pour the juice from the can of tomatoes into the blender and add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Pulse the blender a couple times to reduce the size of the veggies slightly.

Add the juice, salt and spices and then about 1/2 the can of tomatoes, blend for about 15 seconds until the tomatoes start to get incorporated, add the cilantro and the rest of the tomatoes and blend it again until the last of the tomatoes start to break down.

To make this from your pantry you can substitute 1 Tbls of dried jalapenos or red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup dried onion or 1/2 cup frozen, diced onion, 1/2 Tbls granulated garlic. Let dried ingredients soak in the tomato juice for an hour or two; or rehydrate by pouring 2 cups boiling water over them, let sit for 15 minutes and drain. Dried cilantro just isn't the same but 1 Tbls is about right if you have to.

I usually eat this immediately but it's better after 1 hour of refrigeration, esp. if using dried ingredients. Stores well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.


100,000+ people lost their jobs last week, were you one of them?

CNN reports over 100,000 job losses from major employers, it makes me wonder how many jobs were lost from smaller companies that don't report the same way.

Obviously this is more than a trend. December's numbers of 632k actually show that last week is fairly average.

I hope these people have some food put back in the pantry for themselves and their dependents.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Ten Essentials - ie. some stuff that's nice to have when the chips are down (when the shtf)

It seems to be a unwritten rule lately that any discussion of wilderness survival skills has to cover the ten essentials, personally I just consider a list like this to be a general guide. I carry many of these items everyday and it doesn't matter if I'm in the woods, at work or at the grocery store. At the same time I often trek into the woods without food and water or a manufactured method of shelter.

This list is roughly sorted into my personal order of importance. During an 'event' the order will change constantly and the silliest thing you never considered might end up on top.

1. Knife: A Swiss Army knife with a saw, multi-tool or a fixed blade about 4" long are my top choices. I have an awesome knife, the HHS1 that I might show off in the future, it needs a little more work on the finer points before we reveal it to the world.

2. Fire Starter: Butane lighter, fero rod, or matches and some form of tinder. Flint and steel are great too, but I suck at getting the angle right when it matters, friction is tough too but I'll show you my bow drill setup eventually.

3. Cordage: 550 cord, twine or braided fishing line. You can make your own cordage as needed, but that's another post.

4. Shelter: 8x10 tarp, tube tent, large trash bags, tent, bivi bag. You can make a lean-to or debris hut as well; my personal preferences. Oh someday I'll expound on my experiences with snow caves where I wake up with the ceiling touching my nose.

5. Water: Water bladder, canteen, water treatment, filter, sponge, transpiration bag or panel or a boiling pot will provide a way to collect/carry water and make it safe to drink. Oh, condoms; these really do work but there's a few tricks. We'll get there soon, with pictures! You've heard about water pasteurization in a pop bottle right?

6. Whistle: A quality whistle (Fox 40 or similar) can be heard a mile away under the right conditions. It can get the attention of searchers, a pet or a distracted child. 3 sharp blasts are a sign of distress. I have 6-7 whistles I tested with a meter, I might discuss that again someday.

7. Flashlight: A small LED flashlight can be used to signal searchers, find your way in the dark, work on detailed tasks or for looking for that last damn match you just dropped.

8. First Aid Kit: You're more likely to be injured during a stressful situation or maybe it's the injury itself which turned this event into a survival situation. A simple kit that covers the basics for cuts, headaches, stomach discomfort, allergies; a little petroleum jelly, antibiotic cream, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Do you know how to use cayenne pepper to stop bleeding... we can cover that.

9. Map and Compass: This combination is the ultimate tool for land navigation, but they're worthless if you don't know how to use them before you need them. I love my new GPS but it sucks in many of the areas where I 'work', we'll hit that eventually too.

10. Food: Even 300-500 calories can make a big difference in your immediate survival needs. Plan 1000-2000 minimum per day if you know you're heading into the field.

So that's ten items give or take, though closer to 30 if you pack stuff the way I do; with 2-3 knives, a couple ways to make fire, a true first aid kit, spices, 2-3 forms of cordage, backups and replacements. They don't do you any good if you leave them in the car or back at camp so they should be kept on you both in camp and as you leave it. Packed into a couple zip lock bags and tucked into your pockets, it makes it easier to keep these toys with you.

A few bonus items you might want to consider:
sandwich baggies, small garbage bags, large garbage bag or survival bag, zip ties, duct tape, surveyors tape, nails, wood screws, emergency blanket, 8x10 tarp, pen or pencil and paper, spare batteries, tinfoil and about a thousand other things I could add given time.

Stick with me and we'll have enough information for a book or ten, I know I've started that many.

Semper Paratus - Rick

Time to start your garden. In January?

My garden is a key component in preparing my family and I think it's as important now as Victory Gardens were in the past.

I started my garden about 2 weeks ago. I ordered seed manuals, started pulling winter weeds, clearing leftover plants and sharpened the tools. It's still below freezing most nights and we had an inch or so of snow this week. I plan to actually start planting seeds this weekend. OSU has a great calender that you should modify to fit your location.

How do you know when it's time for you?

The USDA Hardiness Zones are usually included on most seed packets bought in the US but Sunset Magazines zones are generally considered more accurate and often used by local nurseries. Unfortunately they use a different numbering system and you'll need to interpret the recommendations based on where your own garden is located.

Your baseline for starting seeds is based on the last frost date for your region. Typically, raised beds can be planted 2-4 weeks earlier than specified, adding a cold frame can give you a couple more weeks and adding a insulated blankets at night might give you a couple weeks too. Starting seeds or pots inside extends your growing season as well, but many plants don't transplant well and need to be started in a pot suitable for the entire growth cycle.

For me (Willamette Valley) it's time to start peas in the raised beds; inside it's the first round of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower in trays. If I can finish my new cold frames I'll toss one over one of the raised beds and put in the first round of onions. My garlic cloves are in the fridge, wrapped in a damp towel next to last years short small horseradish roots (both in ziplock bags), they're just kinda hanging out for now but I give them some sun and light occasionally just for fun and they progress slowly. The garlic is late, I was lazy last fall due to work, but I can still get a decent harvest if I plant it in the next month or two.

Good Luck - Rick

My primary focus

Unemployment levels increase in all Oregon counties. [Oregon Live] 01.26.09

"Statewide, more Oregonians were out of work last month than at any time since 1983. Oregon's jobless rate was 8.8 percent, compared with 5.4 percent in December 2007."
This is one of the reasons we need to 'Prep' and I think it's the most important reason to do it now.

Unemployment is likely to increase for at least the next foreseeable future and having food and other materials handy will ease our minds and decrease the stress on our budgets should we be in the next batch of people to hit the unemployment lines.

Oregon's maximum unemployment benefit is $482/week, before taxes (the equivalent of $12/hour). If you're used to bringing home twice that much you're going to have a hard time meeting your bills, looking for a job and feeding your family. If on the other hand you had been making 12/hour before, don't expect a free vacation, you'll receive considerably less than the maximum amount and it could be as low as $113/week pre-tax.

If you have a decent supply of staples (not the pointy kind) and can put in a garden, grow some container vegetables, brew up a batch of sprouts on the kitchen counter, you can supplement that $482 taking some of the stress off.

This is my focus for the 'OPN' at this time. I'll interject a few other things relating to wilderness survival, frugal living, handy gadgets, DIY projects and the like. I'm not going to dwell on many other aspects being discussed on so many other websites and in the news, I'll be keeping my focus on helping out the individual and his family and the community they live in.

I'm new at the blogging 'thing' so be gentle as I jump into the mix. If you have other ideas or would like to join in let me know.

Thanks - Rick

Coming Soon....

Rick will be operating the Oregon Preppers Network. Welcome Rick! If you would like to be a contributor and Team member leave him a comment. Thank you.

Oregon Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Oregon Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.