Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Columns

What it Means to Detox- Part 2 of 3: Mind-Body Connection

In part one, I wrote about physical detoxification and about food and environmental pollution detoxification. I  focused on how the foods we eat, the water we drink and the skin care products we use impact our health. I am now going to talk about the mind-body connection. And how our minds/attitudes can change our physiology, how to take control of our health, and heal ourselves with very little, if any, medical intervention.  I was going to write on how light and electrical pollution has been found to be very dangerous to our health; however, due to the length of this article, I will be posting another article on the dangers and solutions to electromagnetic exposure in the near future. Let's get started The term, mind/body connection has been thrown around and misused in many circles. Our minds are our bodies and vice-versa. The only thing that separates the two, in reality, is the fact that our brains have no pain receptors. Therefore, we cannot tell when something is going "right" or "wrong" in our brain. Inflammation of the brain has been linked to depression, Depression is caused by inflammation and so it leads to reason that decreasing inflammation can help a depressed person. Just like a diabetic who has neuropathy in their feet and cannot feel the nail, they stepped on, our brains are in a similar situation. Inflammation can have many causes. Stress and a poor diet are the primary culprits. Increased cortisol levels are a result of stress, which, in turn, causes inflammation. Let's take a look at stress: According to Mayo Clinic: "Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn't mean that life is free of stress. On the contrary, you undoubtedly face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result, you may feel as if you're constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don't have to let stress control your life. Understanding the natural stress response When you encounter a perceived threat- a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance- your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation, and fear. When the natural stress response goes haywire The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including: Anxiety Depression Digestive problems Heart disease Sleep problems Weight gain Memory and concentration impairment That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life." Even "good" stress can cause the adrenals to overreact. Coping with stress In order to treat stress, we need to realize we are under stress. For example, it is not natural for a person to sit in a projectile (automobile) and go 70mph, but many of us do this daily. Our modern lifestyles do not allow for much in the way of alleviating and managing stress in a healthy way. Many people will resort to drinking to calm their nerves. This is a temporary solution which actually makes the cortisol levels in the body rise. Alcohol and cortisol levels Also, we are very much isolated in our modern world. There have been studies showing that breast cancer survivors are five times more likely to survive if they have a strong support system of friends and family. Social isolation causes cortisol levels to rise, giving way to inflammation in the body. This affects all our organs, but especially our heart and endocrine systems.    Social isolation also leads to higher cortisol levels  Tips on coping with and alleviating stress It is important to realize that each person will react to stress in a different way. Age, sex, cultural background, social support, emotional, physical and spiritual health all contribute to how a person reacts to and handles stress.  The following is a general guideline for handling stress and stress reduction Plan ahead. The simple act of planning almost anything helps reduce the potential for stress tremendously. Look at all aspects of your life. From meal planning to physical activity to social functions to a quiet time for meditation- these all help reduce stress and keep our lives in balance. Rethink your priorities. In our fast-paced world, we can start to take on too many projects and start to feel overwhelmed. I recently heard a saying "You can do anything but not everything." This applies to all parts of our lives. Sitting down and writing out priorities will give you a better picture as to what is truly important in your life. I use a planner to put down those things that I must do, should do, and want to do. Make sure you have meaningful social interaction as one of your priorities, along with meditation and prayer every day to calm and clear the mind. Reduce unnecessary clutter.  Whether it is actual physical clutter or clutter in not organizing or the clutter in our heads, getting rid of that which does not serve us is a step in the right direction. Clear out those things that do not serve you anymore. Whether it is a garage or closet that needs organizing or thoughts that serve no productive purpose, work on streamlining your life as much as possible. Learn to relax. Learn to achieve an inner, calm, peaceful state no matter what your outward circumstances. Meditation and prayer have been found to significantly reduce stress levels. 15 minutes a day has shown to reduce cortisol levels and increase productivity. It has been said that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God. Even if you do not subscribe to a religious precept, meditation will help calm the mind, thereby reducing stress levels. Here is a link on how to meditate  and a link on how to pray Release the stress. This can be accomplished by exercise, which uses up the adrenaline produced by stress, writing in a journal, talking to a friend or safe person, looking at the stress in a different light (I like to look at what's causing my stress and ask myself if it will really matter in 100 years from now- if I answer "no", I let it go). If overly tired, take a long hot bath. Add lavender and citrus essential oils to the bath. Our sense of smell is directly wired into our limbic system, which processes emotion and learning. Here is an excellent article on aromatherapy and its uses. Learn deep breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Hold for two counts. Slowly exhale through your nose. Do this five times. Studies have shown that doing this simple exercise reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. Anytime you start to feel stress coming on, try this simple exercise. In conclusion - Our bodies and minds are not separate. What happens to one part happens to another. We need to look at the whole picture- what we eat, our activity level, social/support system, our attitudes and spiritual activities, and find a balance that works for us. Only then will we be able to live the most productive and fulfilling life we were meant to live all along. Part 3 of this series will go into the very real dangers of man made radiation and some proven protocols to rid our bodies and reduce our exposure and damage it has on our bodies.

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

 

The Great Equalizer

Molly was driving down the interstate to go visit her boyfriend when she notices she has a flat tire. She immediately pulls over and assesses the situation and quickly realizes she needs to call AAA to have someone come change her tire. A few cars stop, but she refuses to open her door because the people look scary and she tells them that help is just minutes away. Molly has now been waiting for an hour on the side of the road when an Audi A8 pulls over and a very handsome man in a suit comes to her car door. He tells her that he can change her tire in ten minutes so she can get going again and that it would make his day to help someone in need. After all he is a good looking guy, in a great suit, and he really wants to help her and, not wanting to insult the kind offer of the man, she opens her door. Molly is only half out when he grabs ahold of her arm and shows his knife to her in his other hand. The man tells Molly to get in his trunk or he will kill her and then he throws her purse in on top of her. Slam…the trunk shuts and Molly is terrified for her life. The man takes off down the road and starts ranting about raping her, beating her and then killing her. To make a horrific man even more crazy sounding, she hears him turn on the stereo and sing along with the music, as if he is the happiest man in the world and he didn’t just say all those terrible things to her………. The following statement probably has more meaning to Molly than before her encounter: “The normal are inclined to visualize the psychopath as one who’s as monstrous in appearance as he is in mind, which is about as far from the truth as one could well get…” from William March, in the book The Bad Seed. I bet Molly will never assume someone is a good person just by their looks again and my hope is that you don’t either. What would you do if you were stranded on the side of the road waiting for help and had no way to defend yourself? Odds are that a very nice person would come and change your tire and you wouldn’t have any problems. But, are you one to play with odds? I know I don’t play with odds when it comes to my life. How would you feel if an evil person came to help and you couldn’t protect yourself or your family? I will talk about why, as a woman, it is important to include having a gun, a few misconceptions of guns, and why women need to share the responsibility with men as far as protecting lives of those we know and don’t know. My motto is “Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst.” I don’t take my life for granted and I realize that, as a woman, I have a much larger chance that I will be assaulted at some point in my life. I have a great idea of how many predators and psychopaths are walking in society and my chances of crossing their path are quite good. You need to develop your own personalized defensive plan, but my plan involves a little black tool that weighs 20 oz. Why? A firearm is the ultimate equalizer between a man and woman. It is said that “God made man and woman, but it is Sam Colt, the father of the modern revolver, that made them equal.” I can have amazing Situational Awareness skills and know a few martial arts moves to defend myself, but I could be stuck in a rest area bathroom stall when a 250-pound man comes in to harm me. I’m going to let him contemplate the blackness of the muzzle of my M&P Shield and the glow of the laser that is shining brightly right between his eyes. I think he will leave when I give him the option to get the hell out or I will shoot. There may be situations where you have time to “try” less lethal defenses and there are times when lethal is the only choice. It’s for times like that when a pistol is truly a “girl’s best friend”. Guns are lifesaving and threat stopping devices. I know that having a pistol and being proficient in its use has given me so much confidence and security for many years. I’m talking about the opportunity to live my normal life with the confidence that, if a psychopath tries to destroy my life, he’s going to have to fight me first. All firearms take a responsibility for their use. I’m certainly not suggesting you go buy a 38 Special with a pink grip and toss it in your purse without training or going through the mental exercises required to be a responsible armed citizen. They need to be handled with great care and respect, just as driving a car down the road does. Many critics focus on the danger of guns when the reality is that buckets of water, staircases (as mentioned in Jack Spirko’s article), side effects from prescription medications and numerous other things kill far more people than guns do every year. A common misconception amongst the students I teach is that a gun might just fire on its own. Just as pencils do not misspell words all on their own, a gun will not shoot by itself. It surprises them that it takes, on average, between 6-12 pounds of pressure (depending on the handgun design) to press the trigger with a finger before the gun will fire. A journey that I am on with my teammates is to empower as many women with confidence and safe gun handling skills to protect themselves and their loved ones. As a woman, you may love to be taken care of and protected by your significant other, but what if he isn’t home or around when something bad happens? Don’t you wish you could predict when bad things will happen? That’s just not possible. In our appointment driven society, no alarm will pop up on your iPhone reminding you that you have 15 minutes until a “critical defensive encounter”, so you may as well get ready. Another thing to consider – if your boyfriend/husband is carrying a gun, and something happens, how much do you think your chances for prevailing will increase if you both are armed, instead of just him? As the joke goes, you may be an atheist and not like guns, but if a bad guy shows up, you’ll be praying to God for a gun real quick. “Oh, but the police will come to my rescue if I need them” is a statement I hear often. Really? It takes an average of ten minutes for the police to arrive after dialing 911 and assaults can be over in seconds. I’m no math major, but I think the police will show up to investigate the scene of the crime, not prevent it. In your moment of truth, it is YOU that needs to be able to protect and fight for your life. My team has been approached by wives of soldiers deployed in the service of our country. These women want to be able to take care of themselves and their families while their primary protector is away. The brave soldiers have enough to worry about fearing for their own lives and have deep-seated worries about who will protect their wives and children while they are gone. I have had messages of thanks from soldiers for providing this small comfort to them during their deployment, so I know first hand this is the case. …. the car carrying Molly comes to a sudden stop and, as the man opens the trunk, he’s greeted with Boom! Boom! Boom! Mr. Psychopath didn’t count on the fact that Molly had a pistol in her purse and was clearly motivated to use it. Molly packed the one thing that ended up saving her life that day and the same man she shot was responsible for many other rapes and deaths. This is my recollection of a true story that I had heard 19 years ago and it was part of what motivated me to start carrying a gun. How many women a year could “turn the table” on their crisis situation if they had a gun themselves? It is time for you to rise up and take control of your personal safety and know that you have a way to guard your body and home. No person has the right to do harm to you or your family. I think it’s time to declare war on all the evil men that think they can wantonly victimize any woman they want. Yes, women are smaller and weaker than men, but we have all the tools and smarts to protect ourselves and it’s time to stop living passively and in fear. If your avoidance skills fail you, and the Devil is upon you, consider what you will hope for at that moment as a tool to prevail. For me, that’s a handgun, the great equalizer. Be Safe. Be Empowered. Be LOADED!

Beth Warford

Beth Warford

Trapping for Winter Survival or All Around for Food, Fur and Fun. Part 2

More on Trapping A friend of mine said, “What I like about trapping is that out of the 100,000’s of square feet the animal travels in I get him to place his foot in one 3″ circle area.” We use the animal’s greed, needs or miss fortune, his laziness or state of mind (mating, hunger, nursing young etc.), intellect or lack there of and  habits are all used to his disadvantage. This is how fraud, scams and the con man works. This might also be how the police or even the military do their job at times. Its a matter of knowing your prey.  As the great Chinese general said, “Know your enemy!”. “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer!” Learn as much as you can about the animals you intend to trap via actual tracking, in reading tracking guides, and conversation with trappers and hunters. Learn bedding, feeding, mating and migrating habits. Then you will know proper trap set placement. Trap placement as you might imagine is very important. A common concept in trapping is in using scent or lure to bring the animal in from a distance, then the animal sees and or smells bait which brings his foot, head or body to the trap. Trap placement is based on the type of animal you intend to trap, its habits, its nature and such.

Two obvious locations might be on a game trail or path or at the entrance of a den. Some use logs as paths or as a bridge path. Many animals burrow which form holes as entrances to their dens. Many animals will steal another animals den or borrow as well. Some animals use trees as their den. Well known examples are raccoon and squirrel. Some use hollow logs as a den. For example, with a raccoon a log/pole might be laid at an angle against a den tree. The traps are place on this leaning log.

For dog type animals, traps can be placed on high points or mounds or logs and stumps where they might climb to look around. Dogs will also circle a bait for a few minutes prior to going for it. Traps placed some feet away from the bait all the way around will catch the dog. Dogs also mark their territory by urinating on trees. Dog urine sprayed on a tree or stump will do the trick. Place traps around this tree or stump. A jaw trap should always be place such that the animal steps between the jaws and not over a jaw. This is so that the trap will not knock the animals foot from the trap as it closes.

For cats and many types of animals an enclosure, called a cubby, can be made of rock, stone or wood and roofed with evergreen bows or brush. Bait is placed in the back and a trap or several traps at the front. These enclosures use materials on the sides called “fencing” to guide the animal over the trap. A “backstop” of wood or rock or something that may aid in getting the critters attention. Bait is placed next to the backstop. When the animal is standing to take or eat bate a trap is placed not directly under where the animal will be but is “offset” so many inches from center. This is so that it will be where the animal’s foot will step on the pan (trigger). Sometimes this corral arrangement is covered, such as when deep snow is expected. In this way, the animal can dig in the snow and enter and still be trapped.

Water sets are almost always placed in a couple of inches under the water. Muskrat traps can be placed along the top of a log in the water. Bait can be placed in the water on a stick just beyond an artificial island, which contains a trap. For some animals, you can dig a hole in a bank (pocket or cache), set bait back in the hole and place a trap at the entrance just under water or covered with a bit of liquid mud or leaves. In one case, a trapper had an intelligent weasel turning his traps over. He placed his traps upside down and caught the rascal. When placing traps on trails and along shores, take advantage of natural brush or banks or rocks and even add barriers that funnel the animal into the trap. Sometimes these barriers can be made of rows of sticks pushed vertically into ground or mud creating a kind of vertical stick fence or wall. Larger pieces of logs can be laid horizontally.  And you can make stream bridges with logs by placing logs across a stream. Hollow logs can be used with great success with traps on each end and bait in the middle. Culverts and stove pipes can be used to simulate hollow logs. Traps can be set in tunnels that lead from burrow to outside.  Artificial tunnels can be made. Live bait can be used such as birds, rabbits, and rodents. Give the bait bedding, food and water to last a week or so. The baits smell grows stronger by the day and the predator can’t get to the bait because its caged.  Caged live bait can be placed in hollow log or in a small fake chicken coop like structure in the case of fox. These trap setups can be made during off season so that they look more natural and have less human scent and sign before trapping season. And some trappers have good success setting traps around and nearby their camp as animals tend to be curious of human camps. One trapper told of how he would set a trap in his own trail in the snow and catch a critter that was following him. There are many hundreds of sets (ways to set traps). They all have names and over time you can learn them from books, web sites, articles, etc. I have simply given you a few to think about in these articles to show you that its a bit more complex than walking out in the woods and trowing a trap down in some random location. And to be honest I didn’t even give you a fair overview in this article. If you use google foo, you can fin many illustrations of different trap sets. Simply google for “‘type name’ trap set”, i.e. “trail trap set” or “log trap set”. Used google images for pictures and diagrams.

I should mention trapping honey bees. One of the trapping books talked about how to find and rob bee hives. But what I’m talking about is getting the bees to come to a box. I have not tried this, but basically you set up a hive box and then place drops of lemongrass oil in it. There are other bait oils as well such as clover oil. And honey comb with some honey can be placed in the box as bait. Also I read you can start a fire and boil or burn some honey which will send the scent a long way out. The bees move in and set up housekeeping. Then later you rob them of honey. Trapping Humans?!
String Perimeter Alarms I’m sure this will get big brothers attention. But what I’m going to be talking about here is more along the lines of camp security. Some traps can be set around camp to alert a person to animal or human presence. One kind suggested is a string pull trap fireworks supplier sell that sounds like a firecracker. And they are cheap you can get a dozen for 15 cents. I wish there were a whistling trap like this. Tin cans tied to barbed wire are famous. A bunch of tin cans tied to a string and hung in a tree is a good idea. When the trap is spring the cans fall making all kinds of noise. A bow and arrow trap can be easily made to cover a bend in a trail. This might be triggered with trip line. A spring pole trap was made famous in Rambo I. Spikes or blades can be affixed to it so that it stabs victim. Pungi stick pits are famous from Vietnam where spike shaped sticks or bamboo was stuck in the mud pointing upward. A dead fall was made famous in the movie “Predator” where Arnold tripped the trap to drop the log on the alien. Actually the log in that case was a force mechanism to cause the spike trap to function but it served as a dead fall in the end. Traps like nail boards are easy to make and can be placed around with nails up like landmines. Cover the nail boards with leaves and they are almost impossible to detect.

Be careful when setting traps for human or larger game or one might become victim to his own trap. There was a story a wilderness skeleton told. The skeleton had both hands caught in a bear trap, in the wilderness and far from any help. This poor trapper attempted to stand on the jaws of a 55 pound bear trap and with both hands and feet pushing the jaws open. He had already fastened the trap to a log. It’s likely this poor mountain man died of dehydration and exposure long before starvation. Many of these intruder traps can be made non lethal or near non lethal though potentially still injurious. A pit could be made just large enough for a foot to drop into with nothing in the bottom. An arrow trap could have a padded arrow tip and set to light force (though it might still put an eye out). A spring pole trap could be made to simply slap the intruder. A dead fall could drop a bag of rags on the intruder or water or oil or anything non lethal that would intimidate and piss them off. At least they might get the idea that they are not welcome and, at least for the moment, are not in the lethal zone. Of course, if I were really going to do any of this I’d make sure the land was posted on its perimeter every 50′ or closer. I like the purple plastic no trespassing ribbon you can wrap around trees. Boundary Tape

Sniping is where hunting and trapping overlap. In sniping there is a concept called trapping. This is where you pick a location where the enemy will be traveling. Usually based on prior knowledge from intelligence reports (i.e. game cam on feeder). You set up your spider hole or nest blind or whatever. You figure ahead of time all the variables such as wind, lighting, temperature, barometric pressure, compass heading of shot,  angle, visibility, rotation of the earth, etc. Then you adjust your sniper rifle’s scope accordingly.

You make charts so that if adjustments need to be made they can be made very quickly. Then the gun is setup and positioned so that it is stationary and solidly aimed at the target location. Now all that is needed is to wait for the enemy (game) to move into the sights. The trap is tripped by a squeeze of the trigger. This is actually an active shooting situation and not a passive trap, but in essence compared to simply taking pot shots at the target it is trapping. I simply point this out as a note of a variation of trapping using a manned vs unmanned trap. In this hunting scenario you could even practice shooting given locations in the off season. Tracking
“Signs, signs, everywhere a sign, in my face and blowing my mind!” as the song goes. Signs in tracking may not be so obvious. Tracking is at least as important in trapping as in hunting if not more so. Tracking is something I have not spent much time at and may never get to spend a lot of time at.  And you need to spend time at it to be good at it. Tracking is called tracking because all animals leave trails of foot prints, right? So we begin our study of tracking there. I have an app for my phone called “Critter Trax”. This app is good but could use a lot of improvement in the number of animals it contains. It mostly contains common animals of every kind. It is a good start however. I searched the web and found a pretty good web site that gives a decent introduction to tracking. Wikihow Tracking Animals It list 3 main methods. 1. Identify the animals. Interpret animal sign. Following the animals. The book below “Tom Brown’s Field Guide” was recommended by a TSP forum woman who has spent time on search and rescue teams out west. I have read it twice and recommend it myself. I will read it again and again in the future, too. Also, the field guide I show is good as well though I’m not sure if it is “the best” field guide, but it’s not bad.  Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Natural Observation and Tracking.
The first half of his book is dedicated to teaching you the Apache ways of getting in tune with nature and explaining the mental frames of mind needed to be a good tracker. His first chapter is about clearing the mind, quieting the mind and body and learning to listen, observe and ask questions like a child. It’s about being open minded and becoming one with nature. Listen to what plants as well as what animals are saying. Don’t be afraid to become uncomfortable, weather it is weather or getting down on your belly in the mud.

The second chapter is on fine tuning the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. He has exercises which is meant to increase awareness. One of which is tracking blind folded. If you disable one sense the others become stronger. When it comes to vision, change from distant view with binoculars to wide view to up close view to magnified views. He uses something he calls splatter vision which is an unfocused wide angle vision. Take on the mind of an artist and musician. With hearing use natural echo chambers such as tree, rocks, even brush.

He discusses ways to increase your sense of smell. Its mainly by smelling things. Smell bits of plants. Notice animal smells around dens and try to trace a smell to its origin. If you are a hunter you might try smelling the animals you hunt after a kill. I was sitting in the woods on my property a few weeks back totally camouflaged. Suddenly I smelled something different, somewhat dusty or dirty smell. I have no idea what it was, but it was different than a normal smell. One time walking in the woods in north Arkansas while looking for caves I smelled a pretty rank smell. Coyote? Bear? Big foot? I’ll never know.  

With blindfolding you can increase your sense of touch. You can take your castings of prints, use them to make tracks then feel the tracks. There are times at low light levels or during the mid day sun or overcast days when feel might become more important that sight. Its best to do tracking early morning or late evening because of the angle of the light and the shadows are longer.  He talks about developing taste with blind taste test. Notice how taste is connected to touch and smell. Finally he covers increasing night awareness.

The next chapter takes you to a deeper level of awareness. It covers his Apache grandfathers 4 veils or levels of consciousness. To get to deeper levels of conciseness you use relaxation,  mediation and concentration techniques. He talks about subconscious perception, imagination and intuition. He tells you how to make a Native American sweat lodge which is like a sauna. All of this coalesces into a more spiritual observation.

In the last chapter of the first half of the book he discusses how to move when stalking and observing. He talks about how to go from the city shuffle to  coyote walk, fox walk, fox run, trail walk, weasel walk, weasel sneak, stalking high, low,  on knees, crawling and on belly. He talks about how to use cover, clothing, concealment and camouflage.  Also covered is de-scenting, other hiding techniques and disappearing. Tracking The next half of the book is on tracking. Tracking and observation are one and the same thing. Everything is a track, not just foot prints. Believe you can see it. Be a detective and use the ground like a manuscript. Good tracking takes patience and practice. Identify the tracks using number of toes, claws and shapes. This narrows it to a family of types of animals. For example you can pretty much figure 3 toes are birds, while 4 to 5 toes are mammals. Some mammals have 4 toes up front and 5 on back feet. Some are single toed as in hoofed. And in some cases cats can have 6 toes. Dogs usually show claws but cats do not etc.

Next a gait is a speed of movement for grown humans might be walk, fast walk, run, sprint. For animals it can be diagonal walk, pace, trot, bound, lope, gallop. Some birds are hoppers and some walkers. But this all depends on the animal. Animals might use any of these as their normal mode of travel. You might think rabbits hop but what they are doing is galloping. Some weasels bound as normal mode of travel. Some animals use only one or two of these modes. With animals that have only one gait in order to determine speed you simply measure distance between prints. Faster means greater distance(stride)  of course. There are also patters in how they place the feet in any of these moves. Cats and fox direct register meaning the back foot lands directly on top of the front foot print when they walk. Others indirect register where the back print is offset from the front print. And in some instances an animal that normally doesn’t direct register will.

To narrow down from the family of animals to the species you will often have to take measurements of the width and height of front and hind foot prints. You will also measure stride and trail width. Stride being the distance they move forward on each movement of the same gait. Measure straddle which is inside width between left and right foot prints. And measure pitch which is the angle of feet to line of travel. Then consult field guides to narrow down to species. Next you can try to determine male or female, age, weight, and other signs. It is interesting to note that larger foot print doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a male. That depends on the species. If you can determine weight then that can also be used to determine sex based on species but again heavier is not necessarily the male. He talks about all the various animal families and their habits. An interesting note was that the wild dogs and wild cats have very regular patterns to their movement while the tame animals will meander around and not be so regular. While wild cats direct register the tame cats may not in their walk. I figure it’s because the wild animals are taking care of serious business when they move but tame animals are more relaxed almost playing. Next he covers animal highways and signs. He has large, medium and small scale signs, His major highways are game trails and minor ones are runs. Trails might be like our interstates and runs like local highways or city streets. Both trails and runs can be broken down into general, seasonal, singular (one animal), size group (certain size of animal uses it), directional (one way travel). Runs are offshoots of trails from what he calls manifold junctions or cluster junctions. Runs additionally have primary and secondary feeders. Some runs are push downs from fleeing animals. Some are escape routes to hides. A hide can be heavy cover where the predator may still enter to search or occlusive such as dense briers or dens. Runs lead to beds and lays, wallows, dens, feeding and watering areas etc. Feeding areas he breaks into 4 types. General, single plant, eat through and trail nibbling. So far this has been large scale signs. Medium scale signs are like rubs and nicks, scratches, gnawings and bitings. Bitings are insized, serrated and chewed vegetation. Predators being the ones that typically chew. There are breaks and abrasions of sticks twigs and logs. Look for upper vegetation disturbances such as bruised, bent or twisted leaves. Next medium sized sign that we all would think of is scat. He talks about aging scat, scat analysis, scat contents. He also tells you how to dry and preserve scat with a clear coat spray. Why might you want to preserve scat? Everyone has their own personal scat collection right?  Well it might be that at the time you find it you simply can’t identify it and want to keep it for later identification. It might also be that if you are teaching tracking a collection would be good to show students. Also you may want to take fresh scat back to study weathering effects which would help in aging scat. He talks about small scale sign such as hair, leaf disturbances, stone disturbances, compressions and using a technique he calls sideheading. With sideheading get your head down to ground level and view the sign with light source on opposite side.  There is also shinnings and dullings. A shinning is where an animal moved through grass or vegetation and left a trail that shines in the right light. A dulling is where dew was removed and therefore the path is dull while the vegetation shines. The chapter on pressure releases is worth its weight in gold. He list 31 common pressure releases out of 85 he has documented. He has nice drawings of each and shows you how to diagram them. Gouge Slide Slip Cave Cave-in Shovel Explosion Pock Reverse Pock Depression Cliff Overhang Slope Rounded Ridge Crest Dome Mound Crevasse Crumbling Plume Wave Disk Flat Pitch Roll Twist Pivot Spiral Wobble Stutter I won’t explain these but will refer you to the book. But the jest of it is that when animals step they put pressure down then release the pressure when they move the foot. Depending on what they were doing, how fast they were moving and what they had on their mind they will leave characteristic shapes aside from the shape of the foot itself. And by properly reading these you will get very good clues on where to look for the next foot print. It may be that the next foot print is not at the expected distance or direction. He also talks about using chalk or flower to make a track stand out. Sprinkle chalk in front of track and blow it over the track. He talks about preserving tracks with plaster which is easy. You see the forensic guys on TV doing this all the time with human prints or tire tracks. It’s simply plaster of Paris. You may need to clean debris from the track and spray clear coat on them before pouring plaster. If you want a good way to capture tracks so to speak make a track album. A track album is a smoothed circular piece of ground or a box with soil smoothed off on top. In the center is placed a stick with scent, bait and or something shiny or colorful that might get the animals attention. They will then come in to investigate or take the bait and leave you nice prints to examine. If the soil you are adding is too hard add sand, powdered dirt or wood ash. You could then use this casting to make prints in a sand box for further study. You could try to replicate different pressure releases. He talks about making a track like this in damp sand or dirt then cutting away small slices at a time to examine cross sections. Also you can make a layer cake of sand/flower/clay or whatever make the print and do the same. The layers show how the pressure move the soil well below and to the sides of the track. When aging tracks and signs there is a lot to consider. Having a record of the weather for the area is a must. Tracks will become beat down by rain and round out to flat. Debris will be blown or fall on track based on weather. Tracks will dry and then be blown apart by the wind. If tracks overlap then the one on top obviously is the most recent track. If you want to study weathering effects you can use your plaster cast to make tracks in soil or sand and then put in the weather and monitor it. Or you can created artificial weather with sprayers, and fans, ovens and freezers. You can practice on tracks of different depths by using more or less pressure when you make them. You can also use different hardness’s of soil in your test. Sand is softest, with typical loamy garden soil being medium and clay being hard. Vegetation ages by turning brown because of loss of water. How it turns and how fast is based on local climate. Grass will lay down and over time stand back up. Scat tends to dry from the inside out. It also has a mucous membrane on the outside which drys and goes away after a few hours. If its fresh it will still be warm of course and a temp reading might give age. In finding the next track a tracking stick comes in handy. I made one from a 36″ (3′) 1/2″  dia.  dowel rod from Walmart, using water hose band washers that roll back and forth on the stick. They fit tight. I need to mark the stick with one inch and one half inch marks for measurement. Two of the band washers mark the width and length of the foot. And two mark the trail width and length of the stride. You can lay this stick on the ground and use it to find the next track. One technique if the animal crosses a stream or pavement is to cross over and follow the bank up and down or road edge up and down until you find the next track. This is called cross tracking. Also you can step out to expected distance of next track and circle the last track at that radius. If not found increase distance. In the end of his book he talks about tracking humans. I won’t talk about any of that in this article. I will end this article by  giving you a list of items I bought from Walmart that is similar to the one he suggest in the book. Also I would always be carrying compass, gps, paper maps, lights, gun, knife, any needed clothing, rain gear etc. I also have “The Tracker’s Field Guide” which shows foot prints and other size data and info for most common north american mammals. In this trackers field guide the author has a section on tracking where he mentions Tom Brown’s guide.  Tom Brown’s guide book is $16 on Amazon. It’s 280 pages with reference material in it. He explains all of this thoroughly and convincingly in detail.  It is worth the buy. As a matter of fact I just bought one for a cop friend of mine and it was on sale for $13. Measuring stick with 4 band washers, extra bands. 10′ retractile tape measure 3′ tailors tape measure, as a 6″ flexible tape. 6 power Magnifying glass with tweezers with light. String (for outlining) Popsicle sticks (for marking) Small Cutting pliers (wire cutting) 3×5 file cards (for drawing tracks) Sharpe Pen Pencil Scotch tape (for hair collection) zip lock containers and bags or glad lock. Thermometer Plaster of Paris. A cup to mix plaster in. Some plastic to lay over plaster to keep weather off of it while it dries.

CaverDude

CaverDude

Growing and Cloning Blueberries 101, Part 2

In the previous article, we discussed USDA hardiness zones, frost dates, selection of plants with regard to early, mid, and late season harvest times.  We read about the various sizes of plants that one can purchase and begin growing.  Moreover, we touched on the importance of learning the history of the soil where we are growing our plants.  All of this is important to factor in when growing blueberries. Again, I feel as though it is important to note that I’m not an expert in the propagation of blueberry bushes.  However, my professional background is in the field of horticulture.  During my studies in college, I remember that it took a significant amount of time to root woody cuttings (minimum 30-45 days, often 2-3 months).  Additional research and reading about taking cuttings of blueberries suggested  March / April as the proper time to take cuttings. With that said, I decided to first take cuttings on March 22, approximately 8-9 weeks before the last frost.  That day, I decided to take cuttings from the canes that were being thinned out.  With each cane that was cut and “thinned” – cuttings were taken from the previous year’s growth.  From the plants that needed to have canes thinned out, I took cuttings from the plants that appeared healthiest at the time. Not really thinking ahead and planning, I proceeded to take my cuttings on Saturday afternoon with the intent of “re-cutting and sticking” the cuttings on Sunday morning.  While in the field, I placed the cuttings in a plastic grocery bag and then placed it into the back of my Subaru overnight.  The temperatures dropped below freezing for a couple of hours and it is likely that the cuttings froze over night as well.  Whether this had anything to do with the success of the cuttings remains to be seen – however, it is worth mentioning and noting. The following Sunday morning, about 18 hours after taking the cuttings, I began to “re-cut and stick” the cuttings.  For sticking the cuttings, I decided to mix perlite, peat moss and some seedling mix.  I was not very specific with the mix I created, but I would estimate I used about 40% perlite, 40% peat moss and 20% potting soil. I decided to mix up the soil in a clear Rubbermaid tote and then simply stick the cuttings in the tote.  The idea behind using the clear Rubbermaid tote was to create a greenhouse environment for the cuttings. Below is a photo of the “final product” prior to actually sticking the cuttings.   After I had my soil prepared, I gathered my cuttings, a sharp knife (I used a simple grafting knife, but any sharp pocket knife will do), some rooting compound (I used Bonide rooting powder, purchased at Home Depot) and a pencil for poking holes into the soil. The cuttings that I had taken were of varying size and lengths.  These cuttings were taken from the older canes that were being removed during the thinning process.  In order to record which bushes the cuttings were taken from, each plant where cuttings were selected from the thinned canes had white flagging tape tied to it.  I decided to make my cuttings a more uniform length.  I also decided to try varying lengths of cuttings. Most of the cuttings I took were taken as “straight” cuttings, but some of them were also taken as what is known as “mallet” and “heel” cuttings.  Mallet and heel cuttings are used for plants that might otherwise be more difficult to root. For the heel cutting, a small section of older wood is included at the base of the cutting. For the mallet cutting, an entire section of older stem wood is included. Straight, Heel, and Mallet Cuts Regardless of what types of cuttings you take, cuttings should generally consist of the past season’s growth.  It is recommended that you avoid taking cuttings from plant material with flower buds, if possible.  Typically, you want to remove any flowers and flower buds when preparing cuttings so the cutting’s energy can be used in producing new roots rather than flowers. Take cuttings from healthy, disease-free plants, preferably from the upper part of the plant. After pruning my cuttings to a desirable length, I used the grafting knife to make a new, fresh, cut at an angle.  Since these cuttings were from the previous day, I wanted a clean cut.  Also, a sharp and thin blade would allow maximum exposure of the cambium and “green” wood prior to dipping into rooting compound. At this point, I simply stuck the cuttings in the Rubbermaid tote.  I didn’t really use any rhyme or reason when I stuck them in the tote, I just did it.  My big pile of cuttings didn’t really amount to much and I was only able to fill up half of the Rubbermaid tote. At this point, I kept the plants covered in the Rubbermaid tote with the lid on them.  The plants were initially kept indoors for about three days, where they began to quickly bud out during the higher temperatures.  I decided that the quick budding of the plants was something that I probably didn’t want, so I moved them to the mud room– which was probably in the 60s during the day and in the 40s at night, receiving indirect lighting through a window.  Periodically, I would mist the plants with a spray bottle to make sure that the buds stayed tender and moist.  For the next two weeks, that is about all that I did.  After two weeks, the plants looked like this: It was at this point where I took another batch of cuttings.  The first cuttings were taken from the canes that were being thinned out.  This time around, cuttings were taken from the healthiest plants.  On each plant, especially the healthy plants, there was typically several shoots that grew rapidly, far above the rest of the plant.  In the past, we would prune branches like this and “shape” the plant.  In the nursery industry, this process is sometimes called “heading back.”  This process removes the terminal bud and encourages growth and development of secondary buds, resulting in a fuller plant.  It was typical to receive multiple cuttings from one pruning cut to the plant in the ground. One other thing worth noting in the photo above is the praying mantis egg casing.  Over the past 5 years, since we have stopped the industrial farming of grain (rotational corn, beans, wheat), we have seen a tremendous increase in the insect and earthworm population.  This is an indicator of the overall health and healing of the landscape through the planting of diverse food crops. Once the cuttings had been taken, I did not wait 24 hours, like I did the first time.  I immediately returned home to make the cuttings a consistent length.  Like the first time, I used the grafting knife to make a new, fresh, cut at an angle to allow maximum exposure of the cambium and “green” wood prior to dipping into rooting compound. After dipping in the rooting compound, I stuck several cuttings into a second Rubbermaid tote, but this time around I stuck 4-5 cuttings closer together.  The thought behind doing so was that as I “root pruned” the cuttings inside this second Rubbermaid tote, I would basically root prune each grouping of cuttings, effectively creating small “mini-plants” that would already have 4-5 canes to grow out. Moreover, I wasn’t expecting 100% of the cuttings to take, and if I grouped my cuttings together in a cluster of 4-5, the likelihood of each grouping having several cuttings that took seemed higher, ultimately increasing the success rate of the cuttings taken during the second round.  Below is a photo of how I arranged the clusters of cuttings in the second Rubbermaid tote used: And finally, once all cuttings were taken, the Rubbermaid tote was sealed for about a week and a half. What has taken place during that time? Stay tuned. (What initially began as a two-part piece is becoming a longer series.   Thanks for reading and sticking with me during my experiment in cloning blueberries.  Please leave comments and questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.)

Rob Kaiser

Rob Kaiser

I Can’t See In The Dark

While mildly disappointing, science has not caught up with science fiction.  There are no cool eye implants that give you night vision or thermal imaging.  And the units that are available aren’t something that you would just happen to have in your pocket. Enter the flashlight!  Flashlights are awesome, I loved them as a kid and still love them today.  I still remember being around 5 years old on a trip to Hawaii and finding a $10 bill on the ground.  That was a lot of money back in the early 80’s.  What did I buy?  One of those old EverReady flashlights, the old silver looking metal bodies, takes C cell.  Awesome…  I am pretty sure it doubled as a light saber for me. Fast forward a few decades and while I still carry flashlights, my reason for carrying them hasn’t changed, well, maybe a little…  I still carry it to illuminate dark areas, but I don’t use it as a light saber much anymore… In this world we live in, bad things happen at night.  People will do things they would never do during the day.  The lack of visibility creates a feeling anonymity and being hidden.  And, in all fairness, darkness does accomplish these things in a lot of cases.  Our eyes are adapted to seeing well during the day, distinguishing colors and picking up detail. In the middle of your eyes' retina is the fovea.  This is packed with cones.  These cells are responsible for high visual acuity, spatial resolution, color, and let you perceive rapid changes in stimuli.  Throughout the rest of your retina is a dispersion of some cones and a lot of rods.  While rods allow for vision in low light, they suffer greatly with visual acuity.  What is the meaning of this Science!?  You need light to see clearly in darkness. If we carry concealed, a light should be part of the plan.  There tends to be quite a few hours of darkness in every 24 hour day.  A flashlight, first and foremost, allows us to positively identify a threat.  Be forward thinking. For the sake of this conversation, we are going to talk about carrying a light as part of your everyday carry with a pistol.  When we look at lights, they fall into two different categories, weapon-mounted and handheld. Weapon mounted lights offer some great benefits.  For one, it is on your pistol.  This means that there is no fumbling to find it, no forgetting it on the table by the front door, it is there.  With that, you have the downside of the being on your pistol.  The whole package is bigger, harder to conceal and you also lose some of the utility of having a handheld flashlight on you.  You come out from dinner and, “Hey I just dropped my car keys.”  Let me pull out my pistol mounted light and assist you in finding them in the dimly lit parking lot… With some of the pros and cons stated, I will say, personally, I prefer weapon mounted lights.  They tend to be similar in operation, regardless of the manufacturer.  Typically a switch at the rear of the light, just past the front of the trigger guard, that is moved vertically or horizontally to activate the light.  This allows the shooter to activate the light with their support hand thumb (generally).  “But I can reach it with my trigger finger.”  Yes, you can, but your trigger finger potentially has more important tasks. This does create a dilemma for us, though, if we only have one hand available.  Enter the DG Switch.  Unfortunately, it is only available for the SureFire pistol lights.  But what it does, is run a switch from the back of the light, to the front of the grip of your pistol.  By exerting pressure with the middle finger of your shooting hand, you can activate the light.  This allows your weapon mounted light to be used one handed.  Situationally, this is a great advantage over other options. With handheld flashlights, we have the ability to carry a handheld flashlight.  There is a huge amount of utility that comes from flashlights.  Even during the day they are useful, from searching for something your child dropped between the seats of your vehicle, to looking for something in the back of a shed, where the old fluorescent overhead just doesn't quite reach.  You can even pretend it is a light saber! (without flagging everyone) The downside is that, in its time of need, it can be fumbled or hard to get at.  Whereas the pistol light is there, on your pistol, always.  The other downside is the training aspect.  Typically shooters using a handheld light have more difficulty employing it than compared with a weapon mounted light.  Your hand position typically changes when using a handheld light.  And then you get into reloading while holding a handheld light and things get even more difficult.  Fortunately, there are a few flashlight retention devices which have come to market in the last year which have helped to address these issues.  Such as Graham’s Combat Ring, Raven Concealments Flashlight Ring, and Costa’s Switchback.  They are all retention devices which help the shooter manipulate the pistol and handheld light more efficiently. Where does this leave you?  Well, you first need to figure out what fits your lifestyle and what you can and will carry.  At that point, the responsibility is on you to train.  Like every piece of gear, especially ones that can save our life, we need to train with them.  This, for some people, presents a problem.  Aside from using a private range or perhaps public land, there aren’t a lot of ranges open at night, that aren’t all lit up, or indoor ranges that are very receptive to, “Hey, do you mind if I kill the lights in the shooting bay for a while; need to work on some low light skills?” This leaves you with dry firing, probably in your home.  On the upside, you get some training in your home, which is where people spend most of their time during the hours of darkness. While the actual action of firing is missing, dry firing these techniques will offer you a lot of practical exposure in a safe manner.  (When trying any new techniques, I would encourage you to run them dry repeatedly before going hot) While the space of this article doesn’t allow for me to dip into the individual techniques right now, maybe we will visit them in another article.  A few things I do want to touch on are the actual lights and what you are looking for. There are a ton of lights on the market right now.  Some suited for use in the manner we are talking about, and some better served for less intensive pursuits.  For weapon mounted lights, stick with a reputable brand, SureFire, Streamlight, Inforce, to name a few.  They have all come down the road and now use only LEDs in their lenses.  The older incandescent bulbs can’t hold up to the recoil very well and break, aren’t as bright and burn batteries. (This applies to handheld lights as well, use LEDs) As far as handheld lights go, there are a lot of manufacturers out there.  Look for the features that are important.  Size and weight for one.  If it is a boat anchor, it probably won’t leave the house with me.  The operation is a big one, too.  Does it have some sort of activation feature that is easy to use and intuitive?  If you have to twist it or if its operation requires more than one hand, leave it on the shelf.  How bright is the light?  You can get a compact 500 lumen (a measure of a light's brightness) flashlight that will fit in your pocket today.  Try to keep it above at least 100 lumens for a handheld light. Like all our gear, we are not only responsible for training with it but for maintaining it, as well.  Batteries, don’t cheap out.  Get good quality batteries, usually ones designed for long life in cameras.  You can also find good quality rechargeable batteries these days, which is an option.   Firing your pistol with a weapon mounted light or handheld will probably put some carbon on the lens of your light.  The carbon can build up quick and reduces the effectiveness of your light.  To avoid this from the onset, you can put a thin coat of gun oil over the lens, or even a light coat of chapstick will do the trick.  The light will still function but the carbon won’t get stuck on the lens.  If you do get carbon on the lens, a handy way to remove it is by using a little bit of toothpaste on a Q-tip.  It will polish right off. Lastly, on the subject of strobes…  I have yet to experience a situation where it has proven beneficial in using a strobe.  As a shooter, using a strobing light, you are seeing snapshots of what is happening.  As the person on the other end of the light, you are seeing a pulsing light rather than a solid light.  It isn't a laser beam or a phaser from Star Trek, the light won’t end the fight.  Your actions while illuminating the threat will end the fight… Stay armed and stay proficient…

Ivan Loomis

Ivan Loomis

What it Means to Detox - Part 1 of 3

When TEOTWAWKI (or SHTF or "grid down"- whatever your flavor of alphabet terms)  you will be glad you took a preventative, proactive stance by taking charge of your health. In part 1 of this series, I will be writing about food and environmental pollution detoxification. I will be focusing on how the foods we eat, the water we drink, the skin care products we use,  impact our health. I will also have a  simple food/supplement detoxification plan that costs very little to implement and will look at ways to reduce our exposure to environmental assaults to our bodies. In part 2, I will delve into the mind-body connection and how our minds/attitudes can change our physiology, how to take control of our health and heal ourselves with very little, if any, medical intervention.  About how light and electrical pollution has been found to be very dangerous to our health and offer solutions. Part 3 will be looking at the radiation we are receiving from past nuclear explosions circling the globe along with the Fukushima Daiichi incident, the types of radiation we are exposed to, and how they affect different parts of the body and a specific protocol that has been developed over the years by governments faced with this ongoing problem.   What is and why detox? Detoxification (detox) is a catch phrase that has been widely used to mean a variety of things. There is detox from addictive substances, such as alcohol and/or drugs (prescription and street).  Metabolic detoxification is a term for clearing out different chemicals, heavy metals, medications, hormones that are in abundance from the organs and body tissues. Some people are sensitive to artificial light and electricity. And, of course, detoxification from man made nuclear radiation. According to a website called "The Chemical Ape", out of nine people tested for toxic substances, 249 synthetic chemicals were found. 167 are considered harmful to the body, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system,79 cause birth defects, and 76 cause cancer.  There are 2,000 new chemicals being produced in the United States each year. There are 75,000 chemicals in use in the United States. These toxic chemicals come in the form of cosmetics, skin creams, shampoos, pesticides, and foods. Toxic chemicals found in body  One of the most interesting toxins is heat activated cash register receipts. According to the Environmental Working Group, about 20 percent of all receipts are printed on this type of paper.  They cite a Swiss study that shows that once the BPA is absorbed into the skin it cannot be washed off. It is estimated that a single receipt has between 250 and 1,000 times more BPA than canned foods. Handling a receipt for ten seconds allows your body to absorb BPA (bisphenol A)  Studies have been conducted on BPA which have found abnormal reproductive system development, diminished intellectual capacity, and behavioral abnormalities and can set the stage for other serious conditions, such as reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty,  asthma and cardiovascular system disorders. BPA and cash register receipts Problems and Solutions Our bodies are naturally made to naturally detoxify themselves if given the right circumstances and nutrients. Our liver filters out through our bloodstream excess hormones, chemicals, and drugs that we absorb through air, foods, and skin exposure. A healthy liver will manufacture approximately one liter of bile per day to transport toxins out of the body. If the liver is sluggish, toxins can build up. Toxins which are not eliminated return to the bloodstream and are eventually stored in fatty tissues. In the longer term, the slow release of these toxins back into the bloodstream can lead to a number of diseases. It metabolizes drugs and chemicals. It makes proteins that are important for blood clotting. The liver can get overloaded and the toxins spill out into the body causing many sicknesses- cancer, autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, to name a few.         WebMD description of liver and its function            How does the liver detoxify A Simple Liver Detoxification Plan I would be remiss if I did not point out that we should try to limit our exposure to environmental toxins, to begin with. Many of our shampoos carry sodium laurel/laureth sulfate, dioxan propylene glycol, and parabans, all which are known to cause cancer, among other diseases. Our skin acts like a big sponge and absorbs many harmful substances each day. Reading labels and choosing wisely will help your body help itself. toxic ingredients in shampoo   Replace your skin moisturizers with coconut oil. It is also a powerful antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. The Environmental Working Group has a database of 68.000 products you can look up and see what your skin care products contain. A good quality water filter goes a long way towards health. Look for filters that filter out fluoride and chlorine (if they can do that, they can take care of most of the pesticides and chemicals in our water- Unfortunately prescription drugs are now found in our drinking water from being excreted and entering the water supply). Steve Baze, who writes for BOF, carries a coconut filter package that is affordable and I have removed fluoride using his system. Go to downtoearthprepper.com to see what he offers. It is a very simple, but effective, system. I know reverse osmosis works but it is a terrible waste of water. The subject of water is a very important one and is out of the scope of this article. Please do your research. 1)GET OFF ALL PROCESSED FOODS- Our bodies are made to eat real food. Processed foods strip the nutrients out and add excitotoxins, such as MSG and aspartame, that make it almost impossible for our bodies to process.  Start reading labels. If you cannot pronounce it, you shouldn't eat it. High fructose corn syrup is especially hard on the liver; it is found in ketchup, condiments, yogurt, almost everything processed has it. Stay away from canola, corn and soybean oil. Get off crackers and chips Replace with fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts. There is a saying that if your great grandmother didn't call it food you shouldn't either. The closer to the land our food is the healthier it is. Also, genetically modified grains are proven to cause early death due to kidney and liver damage.   Russia has banned all GMO imports, and US corn exports to China drop 85 percent after ban on GMO strains.  Look for labels that state GMO-free. 2) Eat FAT- Good fat. Your liver and gallbladder need it to process your foods- Examples are butter, grass fed beef, olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, avocados and cold water fish, such as salmon. For instance, did you know that coconut oil acts like a carbohydrate in your body and gives you energy? If you are going to fry anything, use coconut oil. It has a high heating temperature and does not break down into carcinogenic substances like corn, peanut, soybean and canola oil do. 3) Limit alcohol consumption- I think we all know our liver processes alcohol. Moderation is considered one to two drinks a day. My recommendation is no more than one to two drinks three times a week. 4) Herbs that detox- Steep the roots of the dandelion and milk thistle seeds in purified hot water. Drink this daily to help you cleanse your liver. There are many other herbs that can be used- and they work- but this simple mixture is all you need if you are trying to maintain health. 5) Upon Arising - drink a glass of filtered warm water with 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (bottled ok). This stimulates bile to clear the liver and is a good way to start your day. Drink water throughout the day to help flush out released toxins. 6) Exercise and sweat- A lot of toxins are excreted through our sweat. Shower afterward so toxins do not reabsorb. 7) Eat your greens- dandelion, cilantro, beet, arugula, kale to name a few. These heal and clean out your body. 😎 Body detoxification juice recipe:  Juice together 1 small beet, 2 small green apples, 1 bunch of each dandelion and kale greens and the juice of one lemon.  This is a wonderful juice for a weekly juice fast. 9 )Daily: Eat 7 servings of fruits and vegetables, especially antioxidant rich ones. Examples are:  all berries, carrots, all greens, broccoli, beets, onion, garlic, eggplants are all very healing. Disclaimer- You must not rely on information provided on this post as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

Creating the Backyard Homestead: Repairing The Soil

The Soil One of the first challenges a modern homesteader is faced with is poor soil. In rare instances, soil may not be your immediate issue, but you should be looking downstream to make sure this does not become a future concern. This challenge is easily overcome in the short term, but without sustainable systems and a balance of plant life, this can become a continuing problem. To address the poor soil issue and to become a more resilient homesteader, it is essential that we deal with those things that affect soil quality and provide long terms solutions to maintaining and improving soil fertility. Composting One of the easiest things we can start doing to build rich soil is to begin composting. Compost is easily made from table scraps, cut vegetation such as weeds and grass clippings, and other debris such as paper, cardboard, sawdust, coffee grinds, and lots of other household wastes. I won’t go into the details of how to compost, but it is important that you start transitioning as much of your household waste into enriched usable compost for your garden beds. We are currently composting about 40% of our household trash, which is 100% of our food scraps and about 20% of our other waste. I am hopeful that we will be able to compost 100% of our paper trash as well, so the only thing we are paying for removal will be our plastics, metals, and sewage. Water Management The next thing we can do to enrich our soil is to increase the moisture levels. Our soil is very dry and clay colored, which is pretty common in the eastern range of Colorado. The soil consists of some decomposed granite, but mostly clay and dirt, which is a term I use to describe dead soil. There is little to no moisture in the soil and any moisture put into the soil quickly dissipates. This is usually due to the lack of biological material in the soil. Biological material becomes depleted through farming, and over grazing. Farming, or more accurately plowing, turns over the soil, causing the under soil to become exposed. The UV light from the sun kills all the micro-organisms that have surfaced, reducing the fertility. Repeating this process each season further depletes these micro-organisms, which, in turn, further reduces the amount of nutrients that can be retained within the soil. Let’s think of the soil as a lake that is teaming with all sorts of micro-organisms, and if we want bigger organism in this lake, then we need to identify and correct the problem at the smallest level to have the greatest impact over the long term. If we can provide an environment within the soil directly conducive to maintaining and growing these micro-organisms, then we can begin to build fertility back in to the soil, and have our soil produce fruit and vegetables for us. How do we get fertility back into our soil? Let’s continue and examine the water situation and determine if there is enough rainfall, and at those specific times needed by the plants and trees we intend to grow. It is not our intent to just turn on a garden hose and water the garden if we go a week or more without any rainfall. That puts us at a deficit, as we have to pay for those utilities. We may also decide to implement a gray water solution to be able to provide for our water demand in times of drought. We should address this issue through known techniques for water retainment, and maximize our retainment strategies for snow and rainfall, to either store that water or divert and spread that drainage over the backyard.  Notice the water movement, sun direction, and drip-line irrigation systems along with water storage barrels and pond, and hugel beds/enriched soil areas The Landscape There are several techniques that we can use to provide moisture and fertility back into our soil. Let’s start analyzing the possibilities and determine which work best in our situation. Our backyard has a standard down slope away from the house, which is approximately a decline of 1 foot per every 15-20 feet, but, over time, a channel has formed from the gutter downspouts and created a valley where most of the water travels. Unless we plan to plant our entire garden into these valleys then we need to start spreading the water across other areas of the backyard. Water Storage To determine the amount of rainwater, you can use a simple calculation found at: http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/calculators/. This will give you a reasonable estimate for your storage solution. There is a really nice spreadsheet you can use at the above link to calculate your total annual rainfall catchment system. We then will include a pond at the end of the swale system to retain any run off that may be leaving our property. This will serve us in watering our vegetation, and perhaps a place to grow fish and experiment with some aquaponics. Aside from providing a rain water or gray water storage system, we need to look at how we can provide water across the whole area. The options I’m considering are: a drip-line irrigation system; several soaker hoses; mini or micro swales; hugel beds; or a combination of some or all these. Drip-Line Irrigation This system will require the purchasing of tubing and hoses that connect together and are placed in the garden beds. This system is a good way to regulate the water for a specific area and to move water to areas that may be difficult to irrigate by other means. These system can also be put on a timer and can be controlled for plants with specific watering needs. These systems are relatively low-tech and are easily set up by the typical homeowner. The materials are relatively inexpensive compared to a full on sprinkler system, but can incur additional cost if you intend to put the system on some type of environmental control system to control watering. These systems are extremely useful for greenhouses, perhaps cold beds, and raised garden beds. Soaker Hoses These are typically for smaller watering requirements, such as a tree or small stand of trees, that you intend to continually water throughout the day. Though these can be more effective if placed on a timer and are set to water periodically. These connect directly to a typical garden hose and are used to saturate an area. Swales Swales can be constructed to slow the water as it moves over the land after the rains.  By constructing a swale, you can channel the water and slow it down so that it has a greater chance to be absorbed by the landscape and increase the soil fertility. Swales are typically 10-12 feet wide, are a couple feet deep, and have a 3-4 ft berm on the downhill side. They are constructed on contour to allow the water to fill the swale and slowly trickle down through each swale system. Swales can be scaled down to most situations. However, I have a concern of building one that is less than 3 feet wide, as I am not certain they will be as effective at allowing a reasonable amount of absorption into the berm. Hugel Beds These are a great way to retain water in a specific area, and are great for creating a rich soil planting environment. Typically these are to be constructed on contour and are used for water retainment. The concept is that you dig down about 2 feet into the soil, then several feet wide and as long as you desire. After moving all of the soil to the side, you place hard wood into the channel you just created. Using logs, branches debris, cut wood, and other slash, until you have about 2 feet above the surface covered. Then you pile on mulch and other trimmings and clipping before returning the soil back onto the mound. You are free to mix in manure, compost and other enriched soil as you continue to build the height of the mound to approximately 6 feet tall. The concept is that the wood in the hugel bed will soak up the run off and will provide an environment that will enrich the soil as the wood slowly decomposes.  This happens in nature when a tree falls over, the ground lays claim and begins to break down the fallen trunk. We can accelerate this process by covering the wood with soil, creating a mound, and then further planting on this mound. This is made more effective when placed on contour so that, as water moves over the area, it will be retained in these hugel beds. The Plan HC: Honecrisp Apple; Frt Cocktail: Fruit Cocktail i.e. Peach, Plum, Apricot, and Nectarine; Crtl: Cortland Apple. Notice 2 Cherry trees, one on the side of the house and one on the north side of the backyard. Which systems are the best water retention, and provide the most fertility to the soil? Well, I think I may be employing each of these in some facet, though I don’t have a need to construct a 6 foot tall hugel bed or a 10 feet wide swale. I will probably be cutting these down to size and perhaps building hugel beds and swales on a much smaller scale. The biggest thing that concerns me with constructing swales is that I am removing top soil from an area, and that area is not very permitting for a path, as it may contain water during certain times, i.e. after it rains. I will probably need to experiment more with this idea, and make that determination. The next question is where do I use drip-lines, soaker hoses, hugel beds, and swales. It should be fairly easy to move the water to the outside edges with either a drip-line or soaker hose. To determine the others may be a bit more difficult, as I also have seven fruit trees to plant, so it may not be effective for me to decide where the swales, and hugel beds will need to go in until I map where the trees need to be planted. It seems that I may be grid-locked, so let me review the situation. Looking at the diagram above shows the optimal water movement across the backyard. If I plan the swales to move the water in these directions, then I should be planting my trees on the downhill side of the swale or hugel beds. I will be planting the trees in two clusters and then three single standing trees. The diagram shows the tree placement and selection, based on the sun requirements and other concerns. I want to keep the trees within the fence line so as to prevent fruit from falling in my neighbors yard. Now we need to overlay the two diagrams and determine where the swales and hugel beds need to be placed. Tree #4 will probably need to be moved to the south to be planted on the downslope of the swale cutting through that area. The hugel bed should work in place of the existing raised bed just to the right of the patio. The raised bed can then be relocated to the other side of the patio along with expanding a few more beds into that area. Placing a small pond at the end of the swale system will allow the catchment and redistribution of water throughout the entire area. Eventually, we can make the determination to keep fish or other aquatic life in that small pond, if there is to be water present year round. This will give us another opportunity to provide an enriched water source for the garden plants. Conclusions I am still undecided about the swale system, as of this writing, and will be repositioning the trees, as needed, within the vicinity of the diagram above. The water retainment system, though still a sketch, now has a plan and we can start taking necessary actions to shore-up this design. The soil should be well nourished throughout the system and some of those dry areas should be made more fertile through the use of the hugel bed, drip-lines, and swale systems. I am confident that this is a strong design and will allow us to plant more varieties into different areas. I will be working on the next article in this series so, if you have suggestions, comments, or see omissions, please feel free to include in the comments section below. This is a working plan, and though we have a direction, there is always room for improvements and considerations along the way. Thanks to all those that have expressed such a high interest in this topic, it is through your feedback that I have decided to carry on this series of articles. The post "Creating the Backyard Homestead: Repairing The Soil" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.  

Travis Toler

Travis Toler

Two is One and One is None

It’s 7:30 AM and I have five minutes to grab everything I need to have with me when I leave for the day.  I immediately grab my billfold, car keys, lip-gloss, hand cleaner, defensive flashlight, water bottle, and put on my appendix carry holster with my Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. What’s on your “grab and go” list? My items may not be what most women grab before they leave the house, but for me, it is a ritual and routine. I value having my Shield to protect myself more than any of the other items, except my car keys, of course, so I don’t have to walk 30 minutes to town. I have been carrying concealed for 18 years and thankfully have not had to draw my handgun on anyone. I had a very scary incident last year and I was stalked and almost attacked when I was with my two daughters in what I thought was a “safe place”. I was carrying a handgun and had a lot of training with firearms, but no training with Situational Awareness, verbal defenses, or learning to keep my personal space. Instinctively, I knew the man’s body language was ominous and I actually held onto my girls’ hands and stood there and “froze.” Luckily for us, my brother showed up at the right time and the guy took off. That event left me feeling helpless and was the impetus to find other methods to learn to avoid encounters and give me more options. Now it’s a different story. I’ve spent a year on a quest to empower and load myself with a myriad of skills and knowledge to prevent predators from getting close to me. If they happen to anyway, I’ve multiplied those options as well. Now, I not only protect myself, but I am a self-defense instructor, and I teach Situational Awareness training and defensive body tactics to as many people as I can. I’ve learned that if you pay attention to the signs and signals, and are smart about it, you can keep yourself out of trouble most of the time with just these skills. Even the most skilled person at threat avoidance may find themselves in a critical defensive incident, in a time when one absolutely can’t predict an attack, and this is when it is nice to have a backup plan. Defensive hardware is a “force multiplier” when other tactics have failed, assuming you 1) have it with you, and 2) know what the heck to do to put it into action effectively. Hardware usually falls into three categories: lethal, less lethal, and non-lethal. Keep in mind the saying, “Two is one and one is none,” since you want to have more than one option at your disposal. The most important thing is to know how your device works and practice using it. I don’t care what your hardware device is, but you must “own” it. I have learned as much as I can about all the options out there, and I was a little shocked when I started researching how some products worked and what could go wrong with them. They are not the “magic wand” many believe them to be. I’m going to discuss the less lethal and non-lethal options because I think there is much more misconception about these than firearms. I will talk about pepper sprays, stun guns, Tasers and defensive flashlights. One of the top comments I hear from female students is,  “I run on an isolated path all by myself when it is still a little dark out. Don’t worry because I have my keychain pepper spray in my hand and I’m ready to blast anyone that gets close!” Seriously? Have you tried shooting your keychain pepper spray so you know how far it shoots or how long you have until it runs out? I have tested numerous sizes of pepper sprays and I was disappointed and shocked at how ineffective the small sizes turned out to be. Truth be told? Throw the grocery store, pink key chain pepper spray away because it won’t blind a squirrel. All pepper sprays are not created equal and you should make sure your pepper spray is an effective one. Many highly effective pepper spray products are rated at 1 million or more Scoville Heat Units (SHU). I like Fox Labs and Inferno because they have some wicked SHU ratings. Comparing a cheap pepper spray to a high-end one is like comparing a paper match (about 451 degrees F) to a blue-hot blowtorch (about 2000 degrees F). Contact with pepper spray in a sprayed mist induces an immediate and intense burning sensation of the skin but especially impacts the eyes causing them to slam shut, burn, tear, swell. In fact, even though tear gas is fairly nasty, it does not have the same inflammation and swelling effects of pepper spray. However, know that some people on drugs may not be affected at all. One over-marketed claim is the distance at which pepper spray is effective. To find out for yourself, buy an inert training canister and practice spraying it so you know how well you can aim and how far it will reach. I have found that the pepper spray will effectively reach 6-8 feet and not 15 feet like it says on the label. Remember to think about the wind drift, and you will likely get some spray on yourself because you’ll likely be so close to the attacker. A final note on Pepper Spray is that they have an expiration date, and I’d suggest replacing it yearly, even if not technically expired. Use the old one for practice. Stun guns are another favorite device to carry and it’s important to understand the realities of their use as well. A stun gun is an electrical device that uses high voltage to stop an attacker by discharging its electricity into the muscles at a high pulse frequency that makes the muscles spasm so rapidly that the person has no control over them. One of the huge negatives about stun guns is that you have to be at “contact distance” (close enough to touch the person, a very scary place to be) and you have to hold the stun gun in place long enough to have an effect. I’ve noticed in the fine print of the directions that stun guns can be over charged, and discharging them for too long in the air can cause malfunctions. I had a stun gun, for an example, in my classes and I fired it in the air four times to show the students (staying under the recommended discharge time) and it died. Also, will your attacker's clothing be thin enough for the stun gun to penetrate? Bad guys are notorious for not cooperating when they need to. Tasers are often confused with a stun gun, but they are very different. A Taser discharges one or two sharp probes that are connected to the handheld unit with thin wires. These probes hopefully hit a minimum distance apart and can make it through the clothing. The Taser has more profound effects than the stun gun if it works as planned and disrupts the central nervous system. It directly controls the skeletal muscles causing an uncontrollable contraction of the muscles. Tasers have been known to result in deaths, sometimes from the shock itself, and sometimes from falls that result from the shock. One of my favorite tools to have on me is my Surefire defensive flashlight because having a flashlight at all times is just a good idea anyway. The power could go out in a large department store and you’re at a huge obvious advantage if you have a light on you. At certain times during the year, it is dark when you go to work and dark when you leave, so it is wise to use a flashlight to assess your car for anyone around it or in it. Spend some money and invest in a flashlight with over 100 lumens so it has the potential to blind someone if needed. Another important consideration is to have the flashlight's first activation be the 100-lumen setting, as many have a low setting, as well. The Surefire Defender that I carry is made of strong aluminum and has an ominous looking “strike bezel” that would be able to injure someone if you needed to. So far the TSA is allowing flashlights onto planes, but this should be checked out before you fly since their rules change often. There are less tactical flashlights that may be more appropriate in the eyes of the security screeners. Next time you are leaving for the day and you are packing up your purse or your pockets with your everyday carry items, think about what defensive hardware you could add to improve your safety. Will you add a non-lethal device tool such as a defensive flashlight, just in case the unfortunate situation should arise? As the wise say: “It is better to have the tools and not need them than need the tools and not have them,” and get the skills and training to go with them.

Beth Warford

Beth Warford

 

Growing and Cloning Blueberries 101 - Part 1

This 2 part series of articles will cover our experience with the selection, cultivation and cloning of blueberry plants.  I would like to mention that I am no expert in the growth and cultivation of plants.  This is the first time I have ever attempted blueberry cloning.  At the time of my writing this article, I have taken cutting on two separate occasions and am documenting the process in an effort to share the experience with others and to learn from it and improve next year. When I first began reading about cloning blueberries, the multiple articles I read mentioned taking cuttings in the spring.  I live in Northeast Ohio – USDA Zone 6a.  Blueberries are hardy here in this part of the country and part of the reason we are growing them.  You can find more information about your hardiness zone and frost dates here: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/phzmweb/interactivemap.aspx   USDA hardiness zones make a good baseline for learning about plants, but each property has its own set of variables which can greatly impact the hardiness of plants either way.  We can also create microclimates in order to facilitate the growth and development of plants that “aren’t hardy.”  We’ll discuss this more in future articles that are focused on permaculture design systems. In addition to hardiness zones, I feel it’s important to learn about the first frost in your area.  According to research I did, I’ve found that the average last frost in the area I live is about mid-May.  Paying attention to the first frost dates can help you get a better understanding of “spring” and how this fits into the time frame for taking cuttings in your area.  More information about frost dates can be found here: http://www.plantmaps.com/index.php http://www.almanac.com/content/us-frost-chart http://www.victoryseeds.com/frost/ USDA hardiness zones and frost dates are a great start to gaining a better understanding of your particular area.  With all that said, let’s get back to blueberries.  If you’re buying blueberries, you will find them available in one gallon, three gallon, five gallon or even seven gallon containers.  Plants are also sold bare root or as balled and burlapped shrubs. In 2010, we planted approximately 100 blueberry plants.  We bought them as “two-year” plants in a one gallon container.  We planted three different varieties:  ‘Eliot,’ ‘Patriot,’ and ‘Blue Crop.’  All three links to the varieties we use are from Stark Bro’s Nursery.  They have been a great source for quality information and quality plant material for many years.  I would recommend using their site as a resource for reliable information. We decided on these three varieties due to the time of the expected harvest.  ‘Patriot’ ripened in the early season, ‘Eliot’ was a mid-season blueberry, and ‘Blue Crop’ ripened mid/late season.   The idea was for an extended harvest season.  The plants have been improving proportionally to the soil improvement and, accordingly, we are producing more abundant harvests each subsequent year. Over the past few years, some plants have performed much better than the others.  Certain plants of each variety have performed better than others.  Moreover, certain varieties seem to be performing better than others.  For example:  throughout our rows, it appears as though the variety ‘Blue Crop’ is performing better than the ‘Eliot’ and ‘Patriot’ varieties. In the photo below, you can see the past four seasons of growth on this plant.  This is an example of a healthy ‘Blue Crop’ with other weaker performing varieties in the background, towards the top right of the photo.   The baseball cap is there for scale. This plant has been in the ground four growing seasons.  Purchased as a “two-year” plant in a one gallon container – this plant is approximately 6 years old.   What was planted as a 1-gallon plant could likely be sold in the retail market for approximately a 30-36” Blue Crop Blueberry for $40-50, depending on where you live in the country.   That seems like a fair return on investment. In the past, this area was traditionally farmed in grain.  Years of rotational plantings of corn, beans and wheat has taken their toll on the soil.  Obviously, under better growing conditions (healthy soil) – the plants would be healthier and have grown even better, but growing in less than ideal conditions demonstrates the resiliency of the blueberry plant as a species.   When we first planted them, we dug large holes and backfilled the compacted clay soil with peat moss.  Over the past few years, the moisture of the plants was closely monitored and they were fertilized with Holly-Tone each spring.  Holly-Tone is a product made by the Espoma Company.  I have used Espoma products in the landscape for 15 years.  Many of their products are organic and compliment organic methods of gardening quite well. 3 years ago, we began the process of pruning the plants and thinning the canes each spring.  This idea behind this was to maximize fruit production on the selected canes.  This year is no different, but since I have moved back home to directly help my parents manage the fledgling farm, I decided that, in addition to the annual thinning and pruning, I would make an attempt at taking cuttings and propagating plants. The original cuttings were taken on March 23, almost one month before writing this article.  The second round of cuttings was taken two weeks after, on April 6.  Photo documentation and a detailed write up of the actual cloning process will take place in the next article.  Stay tuned.

Rob Kaiser

Rob Kaiser

Creating the Backyard Homestead

Shortly after moving in to our new home in Colorado, we began several projects that would enable us to take advantage of this property and begin making it into a homestead. We were excited to be in a more rural setting, but granted this is only a step above living in a townhome under an aristocratic HOA. We moved into this house knowing that it would be a stepping stone, so we needed to start making preparations so that we can lay the foundation and gain the knowledge transitioning this home and apply that towards our dream homestead, which will be a truly unrestricted and off-grid rural property. With the falling economy, political chaos, loss of freedoms and liberties, and the million other things that keep us on the edge or fearing our government, we are preparing for whatever may happen while learning valuable skills. We are going to make the biggest impact we can in transitioning this suburban home into a homestead and help it to become a producer instead of a consumer. My goal is that we will one day return to the land and learn the lessons that our forefathers leveraged daily to carve out a living for themselves and their families; that we will be able to remove our dependencies on those entities that are determined to profit through total devastation of our land and resources; provide a map for others to follow that will restore the land, feed our families; and live a connected humble life with our environment. Current baseline design for our homestead The current area will be our backyard, which is roughly 50ft by 52ft and is protected by a 6ft privacy fence. There is a long area on the west side of our house that is currently being used for storage. The western corner is where we are composting, and across the back fence is the rabbit hutch and chicken coop. There are several big spruce trees on the back of the property, which create shade and micro-climates. The drawing depicts a baseline of the area we have and the trees we are keeping. Several trees that are not on the drawing are slated for removal, and are not shown.   Water We are planning to divert rainwater into a retention system, to allow maximum absorption by the soil and to divert run off into a small backyard pond for watering the trees, shrubs, and garden. Additionally, we are researching the best way to capture our grey water and divert this into a holding tank for later use during the dry season here in Colorado, which is typically mid to late summer and early fall.   Composting Bin #1   Soil We are currently composting with a 3 container system using 40 gallon trash cans, and we also have a compost heap stored in a bin made from recycled shipping pallets. We just started vermicomposting, and will be expanding this to produce worm castings to begin making worm juice/tea for an advanced fertilizer. We also have purchased about 50 bags of topsoil mix, and 10 bags of compost and manure to further enrich our soil.   Trees We have already purchased a few trees, but will need to design and plant accordingly, to optimize space and not shade out our garden beds and shrub rows. We already have several large pine trees, standing dead aspen, and several small aspen saplings that we will be keeping, but there are several other small aspens that we will be removing to allow for the varieties of fruit trees we want to plan.   Shrubs The edge along the fence line may prove to be the best and most efficient use of space and time to plant each of the berry shrubs. This will expand the edge and utilize these long stretches to begin to build diversity, as we can then plant herbs and perennials into these areas, as well, along with other vine/climbing plants, such as grapes, of which we have several. This area may prove useful in mushroom cultivation, and we intend to further analyze the micro-climates to make this determination.   Perennials The shrub line will provide a good area to begin diversifying annuals and perennials into the mix. Along with the edges of the garden beds and, in some cases, in the beds themselves, depending on the goal for that garden bed.   Annuals We love to grow vegetables, but are having a difficult time discerning what may do well in the short growing season here in Colorado. We have taken the initiative to begin starting some of the longer term growing seeds like sunflowers, beans, squash, peppers (multiple varieties), and tomatoes. Some seeds will need to be planted later, after the last freeze of the spring, and hopefully these will have enough time to mature before the first freeze of fall. Annuals will provide our diversification, but we are hoping perennials will provide the most return over the years to come.   Herbs The edges of the garden beds and along the shrub line, as well as in the shade of some of our larger trees, should provide an adequate micro-climate to support a wealth of herbs and other small flowering plants. I would like to also provide additional supplement for the chickens that will be free ranging throughout our backyard and some garden areas. Additionally, some herbs will simply do better indoors, so we will continue to accommodate as necessary.   Rhizomes We have selected a variety of vegetables; such as carrots, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes, and other root crops, to plant in this layer. We intend to plant these in our raised beds and along the shrub line, as well as under the canopy, and wherever opportunity and the climate is adequate for proper growth and development. Additionally, I have a growing interest to cultivate mushrooms into this system and am hopeful to produce king straphoria, oyster, and perhaps button mushrooms.   Ponds and Water Management I am working on laying out the areas and direction for a few “micro” swales to allow the run off water maximum penetration into the soil. The pond will serve as an overflow catchment initially and then grow into a more stable environment to have fish and vegetation. I am looking at a simple backyard or garden pond in the lowest area of the yard, which is the furthest west corner by the compost bins. I have noticed this is the most fertile soil in the area, and currently supports a small natural worm population. From this pond, we should be able to supply water to the garden beds and shrub line, along with the trees. Another feature we want to include is a small hugel bed, but the area is still being negotiated. The hugel bed will help us retain run off water and build soil that will provide another garden bed for annuals and perennials. Our new chicken coop awaiting our chicks to be old enough to occupy   Livestock We currently have a breeding pair of California rabbits, and are raising baby chicks. Our rabbits are producing quite a bit of cold compost for us to use during plantings, and have put on quite a bit of weight in the few short weeks they’ve been here. We are excited to have this resource and will begin breeding around July of this year, and continue through the winter and coming years. Their intent was primarily for meat production, but we also will be selling some of the juvenile rabbits to recoup the cost of feed and ongoing breeding. The real return is in the meat, fur, and cold compost contributions to the system. Chickens will be the real bread-winner, as we are growing excited to have fresh eggs again. Additionally, chickens will provide a rich source of nitrogen that will boost our composting efforts, and should help loosen the soil, and keep pests at a minimum, as they will be allowed to free-range throughout the backyard. Currently they are 4 weeks old and are already producing quite a stink with our two small dogs that love playing mother hen to them. We have 6 black sex-linked chickens and will probably cut that back to 4 when they reach maturity and begin laying eggs. Though it might be nice to keep all of them so we can generate a surplus of eggs.   Energy The whole system is being designed so that it uses the least amount of grid tied electricity and water as possible. Though we are seeing that there may be a considerable investment to be able to harvest our grey water for use on our homestead. We will continue to research this and are looking into alternative methods, such as beginning with a composting outhouse and wash bins. We will leverage gravity to move the water through the system and, if we need to, rely on pumps or other electrical devices; we are considering installing a small solar array into the system to alleviate that overhead. This will provide a light in the chicken coop and perhaps a water pump in the pond to accommodate our winterizing efforts.   Storage We are anticipating quite a bounty from our first year’s efforts and are hopeful that we will be able to store as much of our harvest as we will need, and perhaps sell or give away our over-burden to family and friends. We are quite familiar with canning and freeze packing fruits and vegetables, but there are a couple other options we are exploring. First, vacuum sealing, and dry curing can provide a means for us store additional dried ingredients and meats. This year, we will be attempting to preserve meat by canning, which is something that we have not done before. One thing I am interested in researching is to be able to provide cold storage outside during the winter months. The challenge is that I am uncertain if I should direct my efforts to a root cellar, use the garage (where the temp is usually at or below refrigeration for most of the winter), or build a couple outdoor cold boxes to store food. Additionally, I am planning to make a few shelving units or pantries to store the dried and canned items over winter. I am hopeful that we will be able to preserve most everything we harvested, and drastically reduce our needs for purchasing fruits and vegetables over winter, and hopefully into spring.   Growing Aloe Vera   Propagation and Succession Plantings As we are headed into gardening season, I have been purchasing seeds to help us establish a baseline for perennials and annuals that we want to continually plant in our gardens and on our homestead. The idea is that, if we start with high quality seeds, root-stock, and cuttings, that we will be able to quickly establish our homestead and become prosperous. We understand that this is not an exact science and the success observed in one area will not cascade to every situation. In our efforts, we have managed to experiment with collecting seeds from store-bought fruits and vegetables. This may prove to be advantageous, and through learning which vegetables prove to be most successful will aid us in determining which ones to use in the future. This first year, we plan to propagate as many varieties as we can afford, in the hopes of recouping some of the costs associated with purchasing seeds, plants, shrubs, and trees. If this proves to be a viable option, we may continue to do this in future years to provide this service for our local friends and community. This gives us another outlet for any return of surplus that we do not plan to consume or develop for ourselves.   Projects This is a big list, and I am hopeful that our largest projects for this year are mostly behind us. I may not have optimized the order of some of the permaculture projects that I have planned, but I am hopeful that they will work out, and not have adverse affects going into the future. To be more specific, I have been able to provide shelter for the livestock, such as a coop and hutch, and have begun composting, but have not prioritized water management. I want to incorporate swales, hugel beds, and a pond, but I’m not sure I will tackle these in the first year. We had some interior projects that required our resources, and made it difficult address this first year. Better planning and management are the priority for next year. This year also seemed to have overwhelmed us with so many things that needed to be done right away. I am hopeful that we have addressed the critical projects and will be able to see a moderate level of success this first year. With the foundation being laid, I would like to share some of our current and future projects that will help establish this homestead, and allow us to pursue and grow our personal activities/hobbies.   Composting: We have set up a compost bin made from recycled pallets, have a 3 barrel composting system, and have a 5 tray vermicomposting system, as well. Future composting plans are to build an outhouse that utilizes a composting toilet and urinal that we can use to collect and distribute nitrogen back to the system. This is not a requirement but more of a learning venture, to see how it can be done as it pertains to our future goals of living off-grid. Alternative Energy: We currently have a 45 watt system that we want to install and plans to expand this to a 200 watt system that we can channel into the house and help us reduce our utilities bill. Additionally, we want to create a mobile battery system to have in one of our vehicles for emergencies, and camping. Gardening: We have several more raised beds that we want to create, as well as designate an area and create a hugel bed into the system. We are still hashing out the overall homestead design, where to place each raised bed, the swales, water storage tanks, cold storage boxes, outhouse, pond, hugel beds, and other plantings.   Livestock: We want to begin a sprouting system that will help us to supplement feeding our rabbits and chickens. Additionally, we want to find a low-cost ground cover crop to aid in free-ranging our chickens in the colder months.   Organizing our Garage/Workshop: One of the projects we needed to get done over last winter was to install a sub panel to provide additional power for our workshop. Currently this is set up in a portion of the garage, and is now fully operational, though we need to provide additional shelving to open more space so we can actually complete projects. I would also like to create a small blacksmith shop in the backyard, but the reality is that it will need to live within my workshop until the backyard design is complete. So I will concede to creating a mobile forge and a stand for my anvil to live in the workshop, for the time being. Being a fly fishing enthusiast, I have amassed a collection of tools and materials and am wanting to create an area within the workshop for tying flies, and for storing fly tying equipment, and possibly fishing gear. We also need to finish arranging the workshop to be able to accommodate several products that we had previously been able to sell for a small profit. We need to establish several small areas for painting, sanding, finishing, and assembly. This will allow us to spin up one of our businesses and help to bring in additional income making etched glass decor, bushcraft knives, outdoor furniture, and other miscellaneous items. This project list is sure to grow as we become more productive and figure out where we can provide products or services and/or optimize our space and efficiency. It is our long-term goal to be able to establish a baseline so that, wherever we decide to buy rural property and do this on a grander scale, we will have all the essentials to improve our chances for success. Conclusion We have very much enjoyed our progress in the midst of settling into a new home, and implementing the early stages of establishing a homestead. There are many challenges ahead of us and, though we may be challenged with a small urban lot, a restrictive HOA, and teenagers and careers pulling us in every direction, we are passionate about making this attainable dream a reality. We hope that you come along for the ride and share your views, comments, suggestions and lessons with us, as we venture forward. –The Ant Homesteader   The post "Creating the Backyard Homestead" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.

Travis Toler

Travis Toler

 

*Life* and a Shift in Perspective (Part 2)

Almost three months ago, I wrote an article entitled: Chronic Medical Conditions and a Shift in Perspective (Part 1).   The original thought upon writing the article was that I would be able to use my own experience with a chronic medical condition to write a short series of articles that could potentially provide people with some guidelines and suggestions towards finding effective solutions to dealing with the challenges that life can sometimes throw our way.   This article represents Part 2 of that series and a return from a medical leave of absence from Brink of Freedom. I am hoping that sharing my experience, strength, and hope through this medium will assist people with overcoming any adversity that they deal with.  It is my opinion that, whether or not we deal with chronic medical conditions, we all have to deal with adversity.  We all have issues that we deal with.  We all have baggage from our past.  What defines us is the manner in which we deal with that baggage.  More often than not, a simple shift in perspective is what can allow that to happen.  With that said, I decided to rename this series of articles “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective.” Part 1 of this series touched on several key points.  The most important point is what I like to call “deliberate living.”  Living deliberately is a concept I have written about at great lengths elsewhere – but for the sake of the article, we can simply say that “deliberate living” can be defined as living on purpose and with purpose.  In Part 1, we read that “deliberate living” can help us regain control in our lives. When we regain control of our lives, we feel empowered.  Often times, we feel as though we’ve lost control.  Regardless of the circumstances behind the apparent loss of control, the feeling accompanying it is awful.  If we are not careful, those feelings can become overwhelming.  Sometimes, the overwhelming feelings that can accompany the adversity that life can present us with can be too much, unless we are work towards equipping ourselves with the tools and skills necessary to deal with that adversity accordingly.  Learning this is one more part towards regaining control. We also discussed the concept of “making your mess your message” in Part 1.  Personally, I believe that this is important to remember because, when we turn our challenges into our message and communicate that message to others, we frequently learn that our challenges are often miniscule compared to the challenges that others around us deal with regularly.  For example, for the month following Part 1 of the article, I spent a considerable amount of time reading about Epilepsy.  I shared much of what I learned in an effort to raise awareness about the condition.  My involvement in several forums gave me an opportunity to share my own life experiences with people who were just beginning to experience similar things for themselves. Some of the people I encountered suffered from epilepsy differently than I did.  Their seizures were of a different type or their seizures were more or less frequent.  The differences between our chronic conditions were less relevant than the commonalities we shared.  The bottom line is that the conditions caused adversity in our lives.  By “making our mess our message” and communicating among ourselves about our conditions – we were all able to discuss the individual things that we do to deal with all of this in a healthy, positive, and beneficial manner. We also discussed the benefits of a healthy and balanced lifestyle in Part 1.  Over the past few months, I found that it can be very challenging to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle during times of adversity and stress.  While I didn’t touch on the specifics of what I was dealing with in the last article, it is important to provide a little back story.  In late September 2013, I went on a 5 day camping trip in the Utah backcountry with one of my best friends. Upon our return to civilization, I suffered from some “breakthrough” seizures and was taken to the emergency room at a Denver hospital.  The seizures were intense enough that I entered into a life-threatening condition called status epilepticus , in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure.  I was sedated, placed on a ventilator and subsequently admitted into the hospital.  I spent several days in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit. My life was immediately turned upside down because of the series of events that took place late last year.  The healthy and balanced lifestyle that I was living was put on hold for a few months as I took the time to recover.  Moreover, I had to make arraignments to reclaim my possessions that were scattered throughout three different states.  Ultimately, I ended up losing my job on account of the disability that I suffered from.  Compound all of the stress along with the holidays and the food – drifting away from “healthy and balanced” can take place in a short amount of time.  The important thing is recognizing and accepting this. When we have accepted that we have gone “off course” - we are better able to put together and ultimately execute an action plan to get back on the right track.   Acceptance of what is taking place is the fifth stage of grief in the Kübler-Ross model that we also discussed in Part 1.  We also discussed the culture of debt and consumerism in the first part of the series…initially as a coping mechanism – but it’s possibly worth mentioning again in Part 2 due to the expenses and bills incurred as part of the recent hospitalization.  What’s the best way to deal with all of this? Ultimately, Part 1 of the series of articles focused on gaining control in one’s life and experiencing freedom.  It becomes easier to do this when we maintain the right perspective.  More often than not –this requires a shift in perspective.  Another prime example of a shift in perspective is this...during the past few months of trying to sort out my own life issues and challenges; I reconnected with an old college friend. Unfortunately, our reconnection was due to the fact that his wife was dying.  She was a beautiful woman.  She had been battling cancer for several years.  Her family spent the holiday season preparing for her death.  Just a couple days after Christmas, she passed away at 34 years old.  She left her 36 year old husband and 6 year old son.  Witnessing this, I realized that, regardless of our own individual hardships, there is always someone else out there that is experiencing something a little bit more challenging and difficult than we are.  This is not meant to discount our own experiences…but the ability to recognize this is critical in order to be able to have the shift in perspective that was discussed in Part 1. To recap, “living deliberately,” making our mess our message, and striving towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle can ultimately help us gain control in our own life.  Gaining control helps us experience the freedom that so many of us long for.  More often than not, when we feel as though we are on the “Brink of Freedom” - it doesn’t take much to get us over the edge.  Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective is all we need to get us there.

Rob Kaiser

Rob Kaiser

Against the Clock

When you go to the range, do you shoot your weapon or do you train with your weapon?  And if you do train, is it quantifiable?  A lot of people go to the range to train and expend a lot of rounds (read money) putting holes in paper.  Are they getting their money's worth?  I can’t speak for everyone, but I would like to help you get the most out of your time and money. When I speak of training, I am speaking about using your firearm in a lifesaving/taking manner.  In defense of yourself, your family or your fellow citizen from the wolves.  It isn’t to say that, in the content below, you can’t find something applicable to your next deer hunt, but this is for the winner take all confrontation that we train for and hope never occurs. At the beginning, I mentioned quantifiable.  What do I mean by this?  Well, is your training quantifiable?  That last draw from the concealed felt really smooth and fast.  Was it fast?  Was it faster than the last time?  Was it your fastest yet?  That drill you just ran engaging multiple targets, did you just shoot it more accurately than the last time?  We want that balance of speed and accuracy. How do we quantify the results of our training?  One way, and the most inexpensive, is with clean (at least initially) paper targets.  Why do I mention paper targets?  They tell the truth of your bullet impacts.  While steel targets have their place, and we will touch on them later, paper shows you hits.  When I say clean targets, I mean ones that aren’t chewed up.  If you were just testing your patterning of your 12 gauge on that target, it is time to paste up a fresh one before you do any pistol or rifle work.  We want to see hits. There are a lot of great targets out there.  The one produced by Viking Tactics comes immediately to mind.  It is of a skeleton and distinctly shows target zones not based on IDPA or IPSC scoring, but on our anatomy.  Incapacitation coming from shutting down the central nervous system, blood loss - the heart, and immobilization via the pelvic girdle.  They are great targets and reiterate why and where we are targeting. Do you need to go buy these or any other targets?  No, not at all.  I have spent many days at the range with sheets of printer paper and 3x5 cards stapled to cardboard.  What we are looking for is a clean score-able target.  I want to be able to see where my hits are and I want to have a way of judging what is a good hit and what isn’t.  Did my bullet go where I wanted it to go? Did it still impact an acceptable distance from where I wanted it to go? To save on targets, bring yourself a roll of masking tape to patch holes.  Or you can bring a pen to put a line through your holes so that you know which are fresh hits.  Conversely, depending on your skill and/or distance you are working from your target, cut out the target zones of your target.  With this method, you are only marking your misses (hopefully none).  This is especially helpful when you are working closer and well within your general level of accuracy, and really pushing the speed envelope. Speaking of speed…  How do we quantify time in our training?  With a pro-timer.  For those unfamiliar, a pro-timer is something that will give an auditory signal to let the shooter know to begin the drill/firing.  The pro-timer then keeps track of the shots fired and the times of those shots fired in relation to all your shots, as well as the start of the drill.  What this does is allows you to truly gauge the time element of your drills. The pro-timer offers so much for the shooter.  For one, it is no longer a matter of how fast you can draw from the concealed when you decide to draw.  It is how fast can I accomplish this action when it isn’t on my schedule.  Unless you are telepathic, someone will do or say something that you will key off of, which leads you to bring your weapon to bear.  Regardless of how turned on and situationally aware we are, our actions are driven by our surroundings. Having an audible que that is coming unexpectedly creates stress.  Something we aren’t in control of.  Pro-timers will have a random function.  This allows you to train on your own, but at the same time, not knowing when the que will come.  When you press the button while it is in its random mode, the que will come usually between 2 and 4 seconds later.  Hit the button and then it is out of your hands.  You then have to do your part and beat the clock. The pro-timer, like the clean target, doesn’t lie.  Are you faster or slower than last time?  There is a definitive answer on its screen.  This allows for you to actually see measurable progress.   But a pro-timer and a fresh paper target are only part of the equation.  What are the other variables?  This you have to decide for yourself.  Are you running drills that have an emphasis on trigger control and multiple targets or are you working on speed from the holster or maybe reloads? Whatever you are working on, write it down, spell it out, create a log and revisit it from time to time.  For example, I want to see how fast I can draw from the concealed and engage a target with two rounds to the chest.  Ok, let's flesh that out.  How far am I from the target?  7 yards we’ll say.  What is acceptable accuracy for me shooting at a targets chest?  How about 5” by 5”, this still creates a reasonable target should the threat not be squared up to me.  (Think smaller than bigger, in this world you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your weapon)  What pistol are we using and what holster…? So now we compile all of this information and we have a quantifiable drill.  Our pro timer will show us our speed within the confines of the drill we have set up.  Our paper target will show us our accuracy within this drill.  Now we just work at it.  If we are fast and miss, slow it down.  If you are getting all your hits, speed it up.  When your rounds start to drift, reign it in a bit.  Find that balance.  Log it in, revisit it and improve.  Shooting is a journey and a perishable skill. Another great use of a pro-timer is prove outs.  Maybe you are working on transitioning from your rifle to your pistol.  With this in mind, prove it out for yourself.  What is faster and at what distance?  For example, if it takes me X seconds to reload my rifle but only Y seconds to transition to my pistol, should I transition to my pistol?  Again, create the drill.  How far is the target and what is acceptable accuracy?  With this in mind, if I am only 5 yards from the target and my rifle goes dry, it is then faster for me to transition to my pistol and engage the threat.  What if my rifle goes dry while my target is 28 yards away?  Am I proficient enough to engage that target with my pistol, knowing I can at least bring it to bear quicker?  Or am I better served reloading my rifle and reengaging?  A pro-timer will answer these questions for you. What pro-timer should I use?  There are a number of pro-timers out there.  Some offer some cool features and some are fairly simple.  Most are pretty user-friendly once you get acquainted with them.  There are also some Apps you can download for smartphones that act as pro-timers.  I have had limited experience with them, but they do offer an option at a lower price, some are even free. On a side note, earlier I mentioned steel targets.  Let me say here briefly with regards to safety; use reputable steel targets and shoot them in the manner they were intended to be used.  Soft or pitted steel will ruin your day in a heartbeat.  That being said, steel targets have a wonderful property…  …instant feedback!  It is so gratifying to hear that round impact.  The downside of steel is that you generally don’t see the rounds impacting.  Because of this, they tend to shine more in working on speed than on accuracy, since it is difficult to quantify your hits.  That being said, a work around is to use smaller steel targets, only as big as your acceptable accuracy. All in all, the next time you head to the range, set yourself up to Train.  Come with a plan, what you want to work, and a drill or two that will help you achieve a greater proficiency.  The older I get the more I find my time to be at a premium, between my family, work, social obligations…  Get the most out of your range time and start logging your progress and improvements. Stay armed and stay proficient…      

Ivan Loomis

Ivan Loomis

 

Pig Drinking Deck

The first few years that we raised pigs on our farm, our largest struggle was that of drinking water.  We didn’t have any issues getting them to use a water nipple connected to a pressurized hose, the issue came from the rooting that occurred around the drinker.  This required frequent relocation which was always a pain in the neck, and sometimes extremely laborious if the ground conditions were dry.  Since most of our pigs are finished on the farm between May and November, dry ground is usually the rule and not the exception. After years of frustration and testing different ideas and methods, I finally developed what we affectionately call the “piggy drinking deck”.  This simple solution has since saved me countless hours, loads of frustration and mitigates large holes (wallows) appearing everywhere.  I don’t mind the pigs having a good wallow, and in fact they need one!  But they don’t need dozens of them which can ruin equipment and break the legs of both man and beast.  Once new pigs on the farm figure out how the drinker works, it doesn’t take them long to make a wallow in short order.  I’ve actually witnessed them holding the nipple valve “open” and intentionally not drinking, allowing the water to hit the ground, thereby enhancing said wallow construction. The piggy drinking deck is very simply a 3′ x 3′ x 4″ platform with a diamond shaped hole cut in the center two boards.  Materials include one (1) 2″x4″x12′ treated board cut into 3′ long sections and mitered for the base.  Two (2) 10′ long, 5/4″ treated deck boards are then used to make a simple platform to stand on.  We space the deck boards for water drainage.  A t-post is  driven through this hole using a 3lb. hammer and a double nipple drinker is then mounted to it using two adjustable pipe hose clamps.  This allows the height of the nipple drinker to quickly be changed, based on the maturity size of the pigs.  Water is supplied via a pressurized garden hose with a shut-off valve.  This is routed and tied to a second t-post on the outside of the pig paddock, which keeps the hose up off the ground and away from the pigs.  The nipple drinkers I have found are smaller than the garden hose and come with a male 1/2″ threaded connection.  We simply buy a 4′ or 6′ washing machine supply hose and use it to connect between the shut-off valve and the drinker.  Be certain to use double rubber washers on each end of the washer hose to avoid leaking.  It’s not a perfect fit, but works just fine for pigs. Here the drinker is all setup and ready for use. A small amount of grain is set out to lure the pigs to this area for water. Note the washer hose is up high where the pigs can’t reach it and destroy it! Pigs are a number of things, and one of their traits is a very high intelligence.  Even if they have never been exposed to a nipple style drinker before, they are quick to learn.  By simply hanging around the ole’ watering hole and waiting on them to come into the area, you can reach through the fence with a stick and actuate the waterer for them to drink.  After doing this a few times over three or so days, one of the pigs will pick up on how to use the nipple drinker.  Within another day, all of the other pigs will learn from him how to do the same thing.  Plenty of fresh water is paramount for good animal health and performance.  And after years of toiling with other ideas that didn’t work, this one tip will save you lots of time, frustration, poor performance and, in the end, money! Pigs enjoying a nice, cool drink on a hot day. The hose is connected to a post hydrant just about 50′ away.

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

A Shift in Perspective - Part 3

This article is the third of a series of articles entitled “A Shift in Perspective.” This series of articles began in November with an article titled, “Chronic Medical Conditions and a Shift in Perspective (Part 1).”  At that time, I was trying to process and deal with the results of having spent a week in intensive care less than two months prior.  My initial thought was that writing about the series of events that occurred in my own life would be a good way to help others deal with similar life issues.  The reality is that writing this article better helped me cope with the challenges I faced with the very struggles I was facing at the time. Without going into great detail, I realized that writing that article took time.  It was challenging for me to write.  There was an incredible amount of change taking place and the time and energy it took to write that article was considerable – though it didn’t really seem like it at the time.  At that time, I was on a medical leave of absence from work. After much thought and reflection, I decided to take a medical “leave of absence” as a columnist for Brink of Freedom as well.  This was a difficult decision to make, as I made a commitment to Josiah Wallingford and all those involved with The Brink of Freedom – especially the readers.  I didn’t want to come across as a flake or someone who didn’t hold true to their word. Josiah assured me that all was well and that my personal health and well-being was of the utmost importance and that I should take as much time as necessary to make the necessary recovery.  I am glad I took the time to do so.  Taking those three months to regroup and get my life back on track was likely one of the smartest decisions I could have made.  It helped to “put things into perspective.” In March of 2014, I returned to writing with an article titled “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective (Part 2).”  Part 1 of the series dealt specifically with chronic medical conditions and how they impact life.  Part 2 of the series focused on adversity in general and how we can overcome that adversity in our lives.  Whether it is a chronic medical condition, physical ailments, unhealthy relationships, financial burdens – the bottom line is that we all experience some sort of adversity in life that we wish to overcome…thus the change of the name of the series to “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective (Part 2).” In this article, we discussed “living deliberately,” making our mess our message, and striving towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle, in order to help us gain control in our own life.  We read that when we gain control, we become better able to experience the freedom that so many of us long for.  Personally, I came to realize that, more often than not, a simple shift in perspective is all we need to get us on the road to freedom.  Thus…the final article of a three part series will be titled:  “A Shift in Perspective.” In Part 1 of the series, we read about the Kübler-Ross model.  We learned that, the Kübler-Ross model is a written description of a series of emotional stages that is associated with death and dying.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book, “On Death and Dying” covers what she calls the “five stages of grief.” Denial Anger Bargaining Depression Acceptance I’d like to add to this with a sixth and final step:  ACTION. It is important to recognize and understand that these 5 stages of grief do not happen chronologically.  Like life, we experience these different emotional stages in cycles.  Like perennial plants, there is a cycle where the emotions grow and “blossom” – so to speak.  As the seasons continue, our emotional cycle bears fruit.  Sometimes this fruit is beautiful and delicious, other times…it is not.  While it is important to experience the emotions we have, we cannot allow our decisions to be based on emotion. When we acknowledge each stage that Elizabeth Kübler-Ross talks about and learn more about this model, we also begin to realize that this model does not simply apply to death and dying, but it often times applies to all stressful situations to one degree or another.  Let’s refer to this stress “adversity.” When encounter adversity, it often seems to happen at the most inopportune times.  When we are running late, we often times lose our keys or lock them inside the car.  Sometimes we let one of our bills lapse and we get dinged with a finance charge.  Sometimes we leave something in the oven too long and they burn.  All too frequently, we seem to be less prepared to deal with adversity than we wish we were. This is a harsh reality to accept.  However, like the Kübler-Ross model, acceptance is the fifth step of the grieving process that we often go through when dealing with adversity on many different levels.  The first step in moving forward after the grieving process is action.  But…how exactly do we do this? A friend of mine, Linda Andres, wrote this about taking action:  “Action is something that is taken all the way through the process [of grieving], even if that action is authentically accepting your tears or openly asking your questions, or finding a way to diffuse your anger in positive ways.  But it has to be more than a word to the person grieving.  The word needs to also be around the edges.  It just might mean someone else will step up to the plate and help with some of the smaller tasks during the grieving or healing process.  I think we short change the process when we key so much into motivating the action of the person in grief that we forget about motivating the action of those who surround that person.” For me…learning how to take action after all of this was a seemingly slow and laborious process.  Prior to ending up in intensive care, approximately six months ago today, I had a very detailed plan in place with regard to my life, the direction I was headed and the time frame required for me to reach my short term goals.  Generally speaking, my life seemed to be “dialed-in” right before my visit to the hospital and a week in ICU.  Luckily, I have supportive family and friends that have helped me along the way.  Luckily, these friends and family helped me with “stepping up to the plate” the way Linda spoke about. Over the past six months, I have dealt with a fair share of adversity.  I’m willing to bet that you’ve dealt with your fair share of adversity, as well.  If not within the last six months, then at some point in your life you have likely dealt with your share of adversity.  If you’ve been lucky enough to live life without a substantial amount of adversity, that is awesome!  However, not to sound like a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer, but Murphy’s Law dictates that the adversity is coming…it is important to prepare accordingly to best deal with it.   Slowly, but surely, we must continue putting one foot in front of the other.   We think about and repeat to ourselves all the silly clichés and quotes we have heard and read throughout the years.  For me, the most recent motivational and inspirational quote was spoken by Diego Footer during his introduction speech at the first annual Permaculture Voices Conference in March.  He said: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase; you just have to take the first step.” -- Diego Footer   We’ve experienced the five stages of grief.  We’ve learned that, regardless of how we plan and how we prepare…life is meant to be lived on life’s terms.  We’ve learned that, regardless of the situation behind the adversity, we all deal with it and we can all learn from each other and how we choose to deal with it.  We’ve learned that a shift in perspective is essential to effectively dealing with this adversity.  This shift in perspective allows us to better observe the ebb and flow of how our plans change…because no matter how well we plan, there are only *two* absolutes in life:  death and taxes.  Change occurs in life. Sometimes the change can be overwhelming.  When this happens, it is important to remember Diego’s words…and take the first step.  Sometimes this step is reaching out and asking for help.  This could be to a close friend, family member, pastor or counselor.  If you haven’t asked for help and you find someone offering it to you…accept their help.  Often times this is the best action we can take when faced with adversity.  More will be revealed once we begin to take action. We will see that once we become receptive and welcoming to the change, we will begin to see the seeds of opportunity that lie within.  These seeds of opportunity within the change end up growing into what nourishes our minds, ultimately allowing us to overcome the fear associated with making the change.  This desire to make the change – or more specifically, the action required to initiate the change - becomes the driving force behind how we choose to live our lives.  We become the change we wish to see in the world. Stay tuned.

Rob Kaiser

Rob Kaiser

Glamorous Gut Flora

As a holistic nurse, my practice and philosophy are focused on prevention. So, when I started thinking about a topic that can really affect and enhance and ultimately help to prolong a person's life, I had to get down to the basics. Our gastrointestinal tract dictates a lot of our health. From producing serotonin to helping our immune system, a healthy GI tract is imperative. To have a healthy GI track, we need to look at our gut flora. I will start by explaining what gut flora is, what it does, what types there are, and what affects gut flora. In the course of my research, I found studies showing that coffee is really beneficial to gut flora and will link research explaining these findings. At the end of this article, I will share some recipes you can make in your own kitchen that are full of probiotics. These recipes are cheap, easy to make and  delicious! What is Gut Flora? Gut flora consists of a complex of microorganism species that live in the digestive tracts of animals and is the largest reservoir of human flora or microbiota. Gut flora's primary benefit to the host is the gleaning of energy from the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates and the subsequent absorption of short chain fatty acids. Intestinal bacteria also play a role in synthesizing vitamin B and vitamin K, as well as metabolizing bile acids, sterols and xenobiotics. Wikipedia definition of gut flora What gut flora does Our digestive track is coated with a bacterial layer, much like a thick layer of turf on the surface of the gut epithelium, providing a natural barrier against invaders, undigested food, toxins and parasites. Apart from providing a physical barrier, they work against invasive pathogenic micro-organisms by producing antibiotic-like substances, anti fungal volatiles, anti-viral substances, including interferon, lizocym and surfactins, that dissolve membranes of viruses and bacteria; they engage the immune system to respond appropriately to invaders. In addition, by producing organic acids, the beneficial bacteria reduce pH near the wall of the gut to 4.0 to 5.0, making a very uncomfortable acidic environment for growth and activity of pathogenic "bad" microbes, which require more alkaline surroundings.                                                                                                                  Pg 16 of GAPS- Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride. Much interest has been focused on the correlation between health gut flora and autism,  autoimmune disorders, Hashimotos thyroiditis (low thyroid), systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and mental health are just a few of the autoimmune diseases linked to poor gut flora. A syndrome called "leaky gut" occurs when the barrier is impaired, leading to intestinal permeability. Food and other materials can enter the bloodstream, which the body recognizes as a foreign substance. The immune system goes into overdrive and can start attacking your body tissue that may be similar to the foreign invaders. This is what is called an autoimmune disorder.  Good article on leaky gut and autoimmune disease Mental Health Tied to Healthy Gut Bacteria Gut microbes may  communicate with the brain, scientists say, by modulating the immune system or by producing their own versions of neurotransmitters. "I'm actually seeing new neurochemicals that have not been described before being produced by certain bacteria," says John Cryan of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene, who studies how microbes affect the endocrine system. "These bacteria are, in effect, mind-altering microorganisms."  This research raises the possibility that scientists could someday create drugs that mimics the signals being sent from the gut to the brain, or just give people the good bacteria — probiotics — to prevent or treat problems involving the brain.  Gut flora and mental health Types of gut flora Researchers have classified people into categories of bacterial ecosystems, or enterotypes. You’re an ecosystem. One of three possible types. Bacteriodes-known for breaking down carbohydrates have been found to be the most abundant Prevotella - known for breaking down meats and fats, and makes vitamin B1 and folic acid Ruminococcus - helps cells absorbs sugars What is interesting is that scientists can tell there are three ecosystems of bacteria from which all mankind is a part of. Each of the flora are found in varying degrees in a person's digestive track. Types of intestinal flora What affects gut flora Antibiotic use, poor diet, weight loss, chronic stress, chlorinated water, heavy metal exposure and pregnancy can all affect gut flora.  A pregnant woman can affect the quantity and quality of gut flora to their baby by her stress level and nutrition. Heavy metals and gut microbes  pregnancy and gut flora On a positive note, we have the ability to restore gut flora with a few easy to make recipes or a good quality probiotic.  Research into how coffee effects our gut microbes revealed some interesting findings. Earlier this year, Spanish researchers unveiled coffee as a notable source of soluble fiber. Now, a team in Germany confirms the finding and shows that beneficial gut microbes can easily digest the coffee-bean fiber left in brewed liquid and extract its energy for their growth. Because the waste products of that digestion—also called fermentation—can repel some disease-causing bacteria, the new data suggest that coffee drinking might represent more of a benefit than a vice. coffee as a probiotic You can tell if your gut flora is impaired by a variety of symptoms. Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, foul smelling stools, food sensitivities or cravings, to name a few. A course of antibiotics will wipe out your healthy microbe,s so you can be sure you will need to restore them. Here are a few recipes you can make at home: PROBIOTIC RECIPES We need  daily servings of fermented, probiotic rich foods over an extended period of time (6 months up to 2 years) in order to restore the beneficial bacteria. By this I mean  1/4 to 1/2 cup fermented vegetables along with other types of probiotic rich foods. Raw apple cider vinegar is also a good probiotic. For instance, yogurt (made at home) contains lactobacillus bulgarius. The culture was named after a group of people who were known for their longevity. Kefir grows a beneficial yeast that combats destructive types of yeast. Fermented vegetables aid in digestion and provide vitamins and enhance the immune system. It is very important to have a diverse group of foods to restore healthy gut microbe colonies.  Start out with a very small amount of food at first. If you try to jump in all at once, you can experience a bad bacteria die off, which can be unpleasant.  I have personally made fermented carrots, beets, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and the very first probiotic I was introduced to - rejuvelac. Rejuvelac recipe To begin with, rejuvelac is any soaked and sprouted grain that is allowed to stand at room temperature until it ferments. The most popular are wheat and rye- I am making Amaranth rejuvelac -  almost any grain will do. Rejuvelac was made popular by the renowned raw food expert Dr Ann Wigmore. Fermentation breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple amino acids which are easier for the body to digest. It is rich in enzymes and vitamin C. It aids in digestion and healing. How to make Rejuvelac: 1)Start with 1/2 cup any type of grain. The most popular is wheat and rye berries. I use amaranth. 2) Soak in purified water for 24 hours. Drain and rinse 2 - 3 times a day until sprout tails appear. 3) Place grain into large jar. Add 4 cups of purified water and let sit on the counter for 2 - 3 days. Cover loosely with a dish towel or cheesecloth. 4) You will notice small bubbles will start forming on the side of the jar. The liquid will be slightly cloudy. 5) Taste - It should taste clean and fresh with a hint of lemon. Strain off grain, store in the refrigerator. You can add purified water to the grain and make another batch. I like to add a bit of lemon juice to the rejuvelac for taste. The used grains can be dried and used in a favorite recipe or eaten as a cereal. Here is a video on how to make rejuvelac:   Here is a good video on making sauerkraut or vegetables - note you DO NOT put lids on tightly as she does in this video!   Here is a video on milk kefir-   And last, but not least, apple cider vinegar.  I like to take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar before meals to aid in digestion.  

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

The Awareness Advantage

Top of the morning to you! My name is Marco and in approximately 2 minutes I am going to put a knife to your throat and shove you in my trunk. I will take you to some undisclosed area and likely tie you up. What happens after that is X-rated and I’m not sure how angry I will become and just what I will do to you, but I can assure you that you will be changed forever (if you live). So… what do you think? Are you interested? This article is going to focus on the steps to avoid the above scenario becoming a reality by being attacked by a predator. I will discuss Situational Awareness, body language, intuition, verbal commands, and learning to keep your personal distance from any stranger.  You already know from past articles that predators target weak and distracted looking individuals, so don’t play the part of a target. Remember the last article, Predators Amongst Us? Predators are all around us and they look just like you and me. A sad but true story to hammer my message home on people not being who they seem just happened in my hometown when my former high school was burned to the point of being unusable for classes the rest of the year. The suspect in custody is the school’s new Principal! That’s right, the best man for the job, beat all the other candidates for “Mr. Perfect Principal”, wasn’t as perfect as he seemed. The three criteria where the criminal decides whether or not he can get away with attacking you are 1) how you look, 2) how close he can get to you and 3) whether or not you are polite when answering his “testing question.” This is known as the interview, and it is his way to double check if you are safe for him to attack. He may have the intent to attack, but if he doesn't have the opportunity or positioning close enough to you, then he cannot succeed. He fears failure, so if he can’t succeed, he’ll likely not even try. Criminals do not make appointments and do not telegraph that they are about to commit a crime. The tendency to be a “chameleon” is a huge advantage to them. They are about to do something vicious, and they know their own life is at stake for what they are about to do if the target fights back. Your first step to not be a victim is the mindset to not be a victim, no matter what it takes and starts with being aware of your surroundings. Situational Awareness is the foundation of personal security and is an amazing tool for you because it focuses on conflict avoidance. The “best” fight is the one you’re never in! You must have an awareness of all the people and objects in your surroundings. You must learn to watch eyes, hands and pick out anything unusual. Be ready to change your line of walking at any time to avoid a possible encounter and look ahead to where you are headed and glance behind you when leaving a store. If you look ahead and see a group of men walking toward you, cross the street. When you leave the grocery store and “Mr. Creep of the Year” is right on your tracks, you should turn around and go back into the store. Have someone escort you to your car if you are uncertain at all, no matter what your “I’m tough and proud attitude” says. Another great practice is to play the “What If?” game. If a scenario unfolded in any area or building you are in, where would you go and what would you do? Are you sitting in a seat facing the primary entrance and do you notice people when they walk in? Where could you find cover, safety, or extra exits if you needed to? Your body language really sets you up to be or not be a target. Some experts claim that body language is 90% of all communication and you can use this to your advantage if you pay attention to it. Humans are a lot like animals and we do the same thing as a lion will do before an attack. Beware if someone constantly stares at you without blinking or turning away and squints their eyes. Clenching the jaw, and clenching and unclenching fists is another sign right before an attack. How do you adjust your body language to dissuade a predator? Multiple studies show that a purposeful walk sends subconscious signals to the predators that you are not an easy mark. It is imperative that you stand tall and walk with your head up scanning around. If you see someone that makes you nervous, send a stern gaze their way because this notifies them that you are very aware. In 1984 a study, known as “The Grayson/Stein Study”, was conducted by showing criminals a video of people walking. The criminals were asked to pick out their targets and, coincidentally, they all marked their targets in less than seven seconds and almost always picked the same people. Who did they pick and why? They picked both men and women, and what all their victims had in common was slow walking with their heads down and distracted. Distraction is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as insane and mental confusion. Alert, on the other hand, is defined as watchful, intelligent, and on the lookout for danger or opportunity. Hmm, your pick:  Alert or distracted? Intuition can be your friend and it is quick and insightful. Put manners aside and listen to this gift. Science has discovered that humans are made up of 0.00001 percent that is physical and the other 99.99999 percent is a form of energy. This is the reason you can feel that something isn’t right inside when a certain person approaches. Do you think you are picking up on their negative energy? Absolutely! Listen to your gut and learn to trust it. Your personal space is a critical thing to keep in mind. Distance from any stranger is a safety buffer, and if they start to get too close (where alarms are going off in your head) put your hands up and out so it looks like you mean business. You must have enough command presence to stop a possible attack! Tell them “Stop! Don’t come any closer!” If the person insists on coming closer after you have warned him away, he has clearly announced that his intentions are not good and that you need to be ready to employ your self-defense skills if you are unable to escape. Words have power, but they only have power as long as someone is listening. Once a person decides not to listen, words lose their power. At that moment, there had better be something else up your sleeve or a backup plan. Don’t forget you are talking to someone who could be on drugs and/or alcohol and speaking to someone chemically altered may be futile. In the use of force continuum, you are justified taking it up to the next level when a suspect has failed to respond to your command presence. He's decided to ignore you, and now you have to work twice as hard to convince him that his behavior is unacceptable. If you have the bad luck to encounter a violent criminal, odds are it won’t be in a safe location. Unfortunately, it will be like looking into the eyes of a charging bear in his natural habitat. You aren’t bear bait! You have a practical understanding of a predator and how they work. You’re mentally and physically prepared and have the skills and tools for doing whatever it takes to stop the attack. You must be prepared to meet violence with violence and have enough stopping power to thwart the predator’s plan. The more compliant you are, the more contempt a predator will have for you, so being submissive is not an option for you. Some great advice from a friend and mentor, Frank Sharpe, Jr, of Fortress Defense Consultants is this:  Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things! What places are considered high risk, other than alleys and dark corner bars? All high-risk areas are called “Fringe areas,” and are ATM locations, public bathrooms, stairwells, parking lots, and sidewalks. People are around, but out of range for immediate help should a problem arise. Another dangerous place is a bedroom of a crowded college house party and many women have found this out the hard way. Your life is your dream and don’t let anyone turn it into a nightmare. Be prepared and ready for the good, as well as the bad, in life. The emotional trauma you sustain from an attack will weigh heavy on your heart and soul although thwarting the attack will make it infinitely easier to live with for the rest of your life. You are worth fighting for! And to answer Marco’s question… Although I appear as a small woman that doesn’t seem to know how to fight because my jeans are too tight and my pumps are too high, let me tell you a secret: I saw you coming and I can tell you are up to no good, especially after I told you to “back off”.  I have my hand on my Kahr in my appendix carry holster under my shirt and my other hand on my Inferno pepper spray. Oh, and I’ve been taking Krav Maga lessons for a year. I’m ready to stop you, and I’m going to fight like my life depends on it, because it does!

Beth Warford

Beth Warford

Three Part Addendum, Deer Hunt, .177 Rifle, Cartography Updates

Deer Hunt Addendum First I had told you guys that a friend of mine’s son told me I got lucky with the 410 in killing that deer. So I took a cardboard deer target to the spot where the deer was standing and strung it up between two trees to be positioned same as the deer that day. Recall that the deer was at 44 yards. I went back to the chicken coop and shot the target 10 times. The result was 3 hit vital areas, the lower one was actually two shots almost in the same hole. I hit the back legs 4 times and they would only have injured the deer. It would have had plenty of strength left to run off and die a slow miserable death somewhere. I hit it once in the front leg which would have had similar results. The shot group was about 2.5 feet in diameter. I missed completely twice. So yes I had a 30% chance of a kill shot that day and got lucky and killed the deer. That might be fine in a survival situation but it’s bad deer hunting. If I had practiced with the gun, I could have made the shot group tighter. If I had something to brace the gun against, such as a post or wall or tree, the shot group would have been better. If I were using shooting sticks to rest the gun on (bi pod), it also would have been better and I could get a tighter kill zone shot group. There might also be a couple of mods to the gun which could help out. I hear using rifled slugs can help and I hear also they won’t because the riffling in this case is so that the round fits easier through the modified choke. Also adding a riffled choke might help. Removing the smooth bore barrel and adding a riffled barrel would also help. Adding a back sight could also help. Without any of this, however, the gun might be better used for closer ranges, such as 10 to 25 yards. I still proved this little snake charmer 410 to be a good survival gun in my opinion. I just need to work on my accuracy a bit more and wait for closer shots. If you have time to be in the woods every day, a closer shot is much more likely. With me getting only 4 days this last season to hunt I think next year I will use a longer range gun. .177 Chinese Air Rifle In the gallery below you will see how I camouflaged the rifle using gun tape. I camouflaged the scope using vinyl sticky cut out cammo. I need a different scope ring set, which is sold separately from the scope. I need one that would allow me to sight with open sights under the scope. Also this would give more room for inserting a pellet. As it is, this scope setup puts the scope almost in the way of inserting a pellet. I show you the full view of rifle in a couple of shots. I show two shots of the scope, and I show the front sight and rear sights. You may adjust front sight up and down by twisting it counter clockwise with a tool from the top. The back sight can be raised and lowered easily to make quick adjustments for various ranges. And you numbers for 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 3.5 positions, etc. Also I could not get a good photo of it, but there is a screw in the back sight which can be turned clockwise or counter clockwise to adjust windage. There is no way to adjust windage of front sight. I can not tell you right now how much adjustment each 1/4, 1/2 or whole turn makes for either windage or elevation. I think I will probably be replacing this chinese rifle with a Beaman Duel Cal .177 .22 soon. Otherwise I need to buy a new chinese rifle. This one probably has been dry fired too many times, as it only shoots 450 fps. Also, I need to do some work to the scope mount to make it more in line with the barrel. We welded it, but didn’t get the alignment good enough to even sight it in. I could attempt to rebuild this one but I’m not sure that I might not destroy this gun trying. Mapping the 18 Acre Homestead using my Smartphone and Compass Map 1 is the overall map which shows everything. I basically took one evening and walked from my camper on Nichols Lane up an old road to the chicken coop then eastward up another old roadway. I then went south to the shale pit and found 3 points on the shale pit. I also tried to triangulate on 2 buildings. One I own in the shale pit is a shop and one is the neighbors. Next I followed around to the beginning of a ravine/brook that sometimes has flowing water. I made my way to the power line on the east boundary of the property and northward into the woods and found some corner markers. I tried to triangulate the location of the white house on the cliff. Next I moved westward along the cliffs (which I don’t think I own) and took notes on a few points one of which was next to a pretty nice bluff shelter that might house 2. Then westward past what was an old lodge up on top of the bluffs that burnt down. All that is left is a deck. Next to the west boundary and down a log skidder road along the west side. I took notes on a couple of points then the west driveway into the property to the old house place, the barns and chicken coop, which is also the old road that continues on over to the power lines and crosses to adjacent lands. If you read my deer hunt articles, you will notice a few points that were part of the deer hunt. 80 yard scrape and maybe the 60 yard scrape, along with chicken coop and where the dear was at near the east end of the old burned house foundation. The white crosses are reference points I used when plotting these points (the yellow triangles). Each crosshair is 100 feet apart. This forms a 100 foot by 100 foot grid. My cell phone app on my Android phone, called GPS Tracker Lite, which is no longer on Google Play for some reason, was what I used to get GPS coordinates. It gives Longitude, Latitude down to minutes, seconds and 10ths of seconds. I looked up info on the web that suggested a second of longitude or latitude is about 100 feet by 100 feet. So the precision of the phone reading is about 10 feet by 10 feet. The accuracy, however, didn’t prove to be that good. Some of the points were off by about 100 feet, but maybe there was some other reason for this. Like maybe I read and recorded the numbers wrong. Also, the phone was going to sleep between points and then I’d wake it up to read the next point. It seem to float to the point from the last one. It’s possible I didn’t wait long enough for this floating to settle down before recording a reading. It doesn’t make sense for the phone to be so accurate on the streets but not accurate in the woods. I pulled the satellite image off of Google Maps and imported it as a layer in Inkscape I then stretched it to fit my points. I had already made the grid as one layer and plotted the triangles on another layer. Many points seemed to line up perfectly while a few did not. So I stretched it to fit what I thought were the majority it lined up with. I will explain more in the rest of this article next to the images. Also the grid of crosshairs were for me to use to plot points and are not aligned with any real known point on the satellite image, except for general features. In other words, they are not aligned with a corner marker of a section or of my property or of my neighbors’ properties.
Map 2 is of the compass and pace count survey I did from my camper, up a path to the chicken coop then to the east, up an old road above the shale pit. The white pixels next to AA1 is my camper. The few white pixels next to AA2 is an old mobile home roof covered by tree foliage. AA3 is next to another mobile home on my property. My pace count is about 12 paces for 21 yards, which is 57 paces for 100 yards. This is about 1.75 paces per yard. A pace is every left foot or every right foot when stepping it off, do not count both left and right feet. And the foot you start with is not the one you count, the other foot is, because it will be a full pace. The one you start with is half of a pace. Note that if you pace uphill, your steps will be shorter and vice versa longer downhill. The compass I was using was a cheap Chinese made lensatic compass from Walmart. This survey turned out surprisingly well. It seemed to fit the satellite features image perfectly. It lined up with he road well. I did back angles and checked error as I went on the truck survey. I did not do that on two branches to the chicken coop and deer kill site.

Map 3 is along the shale pit, which is also our pistol shooting range. I started taking my GPS coordinate readings here. I moved from there over to the ravine intermittent stream and to the power line on the eastern side of the property. Later in this article, I talk about how I tried to use 3 points to triangulate on two buildings to find their location. Not really necessary since we have satellite image, but a good exercise anyway. The phone app said the elevation precision was about 20 feet. I took the first elevation reading at the power line and then moved upward to the next point where it actually read lower! That was disappointing. However, as you look at these, you will see it going up to the north, which is correct and the 150′ elevation difference is about right.
Map 4-1 is the south eastern corners of the property. First, there is the end of the compass pace count survey AA11 and AA12. Then 4 shale pit points along the upper edge/rim of the pit. Next one point in the ravine/intermediate stream. Then two points on the power line, not that the first one’s elevation can’t be near correct. It was lower than the first point. Next, a couple of points on an old road/trail with a buck scrape nearby. This was not a fake scrape, like the ones I made by the chicken coop, but a real scrape. And a point on a flat area.

On map 4-2, the north eastern property boundaries, we see two corner markers, a log seat where I stopped to rest, and a large rock. Not that there were many large rocks on this property. We also see the white house on the cliff that belongs to a neighbor. And we see the bluff shelter at 855′, which I think is most likely on the neighbor’s land.

Map 4-3 is the north west boundary and I didn’t really take any points on the south west boundary yet. This one shows again the bluff shelter. It shows two points along the bluff, one of which has a crooked pine growing out of it. It shows a point below where the old burned lodge house was. You see the deer kill site, well the deer ran uphill to about 100 feet or so just south and slightly east of the lodge, where she lay down to finish bleeding out. Then, on the western edge, two points along the clear cut and property line. One at the road/western drive at the clearcut edge. Another at a fork in the drive. Another at the 80 yard fake scrape I made in the road that goes past the barns and coop. Those 3 points are almost exactly 100 feet too far north. I may have recorded coordinates wrong and I may move them to where they need to be, 100 feet to the south.

Next we have Map 5 triangulation attempt 1 and 2. I was on top of the shale pit and decided to take compass readings from several points to two corners of the shop and at the neighbor’s house, which was behind some trees. You will see that I put a box bottom left for the neighbor’s house, well it needs to be smaller and moved towards that lower left triangle. That point actually looks close. But the other box was much larger than the house and well on the other side of it.

Next on map 6, I was triangulating in on the white house you see on top of the cliff to the right or east of the green box. The green box is where the house was supposed to be located. Note that I sized these green boxes before I underlaid the satellite image. I made them a bit too large. So, with this triangulation experiment, we see that we get a general direction and very rough distance. This is mainly because of the cheap ($5-$10) compass. A Sunnto ($150) brand compass or a transit ($500) might be better suited to this type of mapping. Really the cheap woodland navigational compass is to allow you to trek across miles of woodlands. And you can use triangulation on nearby ridges or water towers or other features a few miles away and get a fairly accurate location within a few hundred feet or so. In this case, you shoot angles from multiple points to the target. You can also shoot angles from yourself (the target) to multiple known points to find where you are on the map. The black dotted lines where added in for 500’x500′ grid. Here is the download for the 18 Acres.svg Inkscape file Inkscape file.

CaverDude

CaverDude

 

The Food Movement

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health. And are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” – Wendell Berry Growing a garden and taking control of your own personal agriculture might be the most important thing you can do for yourself and for the planet. The way we produce food in the modern world is broken and people are waking up to the shortfalls of our food system and the reality that “food” is being manufactured for profit, not nourishment. Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. According to USDA data, crops such as broccoli and wheat are showing a 50% decline in key nutritional components in the last 50 years. Food system emissions account for up to 29% of the total greenhouse gas emissions and the average meal travels an estimated 1,500 miles to our plates. In fact, the large majority of the supermarket contains food-like substances that should not qualify as food in the first place! People are becoming increasingly aware that using toxic chemicals to grow food makes no sense and are learning and asking the right questions about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and other risky conventional methods of agriculture. The reality is that eating is an agricultural act and we vote for what we want offered in our food system with every bite that we take. The single most potent tool towards making sense of our food system is for every single eater out there to start a food garden. It doesn’t matter if it is in the front yard, in your closet or a container on the balcony, growing our own food needs to become the rallying cry of the day. Let’s call it The Food Movement, with the focus to grow healthy people, plants and planet. Even if it is a single tomato plant on the deck, the principle of growing something that you eat is therapeutic and rewarding. Growing a garden is easy to do, but most don’t get started for fear of “screwing it up”. Am I starting the seeds correctly? How do I know when and what to grow? Should I use conventional or organic fertilizer? The questions become overwhelming and can never end. The fun irony of this sentiment and the secret to learning to grow an amazing garden is in the perspective you hold in your approach and the making of mistakes. Often times it is the “mistakes” that result in the greatest yields! Remember that plants want to grow. Our job is to nurture the natural systems at hand to get the most out of the garden. A perfect example of this is to consider the living microorganisms that live in your soil that make up what is called the “soil food web”. Just like in the ocean, the soil is comprised of varying trophic levels of life. The smallest organisms are called bacteria and they perform the role of the plankton of the soil. They are prey for the higher organisms called fungi, protozoa and nematodes. The importance of this soil food web cannot be overstated, imagine you took the plankton out of the ocean? In concert with plants that feed them through their roots, microbes make soil. It is the responsibility of these microbes to self-organize into a system of symbiosis with surrounding plants to help them eat, protect them from disease, and recycle organic matter into perfect plant food. Consider that, in the forest, the trees don’t eat the leaves that fall, but what the microbes make of them. This is what we call “composting”. It should be happening everywhere, not just in the compost bin. In keeping with the forest analogy, consider that the forest grows trees without any fertilizer. The reason is that the soil is at least 100 years biologically mature and the soil has never been killed through development or use of toxic artificial biocides and fertilizer. In short, the more biologically active the soil, the less we are required to fertilize. It is not possible to fertilize your soil into health. Fertilizer is a crutch. In fact, if you are using artificial fertilizer you are taking advantage of your soil. It’s really no different than fast food for plants, and we all know what happens when we eat fast food for every meal. The most potent way to grow your soil is brewing compost tea.  Compost tea is a concentration of compost created by aerating water and presenting microbes from good compost with organic fertilizers; such as molasses, fish, kelp, etc. In the presence of air and food, the microbes grow to extraordinary concentrations. Compost tea is very easy to make and can be brewed using your own compost, as long as you properly inoculate the pile with a broad diversity of microbes. Unfortunately, soil in the average landscape has been significantly disturbed through development and chemical abuse, so it cannot be taken for granted. Microbes move micrometers in their lifetimes, they don’t jump over the fence. So if they are not deliberately added, most times they are not present. On the positive side, this helps explain many of the typical gardening issues you may encounter with pests and disease. A healthy garden self-regulates, it checks pests and disease with beneficial bugs and microbes. The truth is that growing a garden should always get better with time. It is only when we use an artificial approach when this is not true. So our goal should be to grow our soil, not our plants. Remember that the only true metric for success is the quality and yield of your plants. The healthier perspective you hold towards living systems the healthier your garden will be. What you think, you grow.   The post "The Food Movement" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.    

Evan Folds

Evan Folds

Here Come the Girls

It’s silly, I know, to humanize plants, seedlings and seeds, but with so much information out there, much of it contradictory and most of it ‘ticklist’, it’s something that helps my little mind prioritize and it sorts things out in my head. Sow in March directly into moist raked soil – says the packet. Well what if it’s still cold in March? What if there’s not enough oomph in my soil? Obviously you need a degree of knowledge for successful growing of crops, but empathy, and connecting with an intrinsic common sense, goes a long way. One of my tools is to treat my seedlings like I would any little person, and if you listen and watch hard enough, the answer is often there. After all, I’m spending a lot of time with these little fellas, they are getting a lot of attention, both in terms of how much they get from me, and how their performance reflects on me professionally, so they become ‘my girls’. The tomatoes are important at Pattendens (my main place of work). The clients eat a lot of them. 4 varieties this year, 3 cordon and 1 bush, and they have already been pricked out and potted on, this is an important step – they sit on propagators, so I am always keen to get them potted up as soon as the seed leaves are unfurled. Having their own pot means they are able to grow away without getting spindly in the race for more light with their mates, also the tendency for the whole pot to dry out is increased if we have a number of seedlings in one pot. 
The organized chaos of the Polytunnel Aubergines and Melons have been moved on in exactly the same way – all now sit individually in a heated propagator, the first perilous part of their journey to fruition completed. Moisture levels are checked regularly – not too much or too little – a balancing act for me as I only get to visit twice a week, although I will pop in midweek if I feel the need. It’s a bit like having a small baby, high  inputs at this point, but it does get easier. I leave the watering can on the propagation mat in the greenhouse. It warms the water nicely so my girls don’t get a cold shower. Instead the watering becomes ‘a treat’ – a warm watering from a fine rose. A cold soaking every now and again might not impede germination and growing on fully, but I can’t help but feel it doesn’t help. I try to leave as much space between plants, to enable airflow and eradicate the build up of disease, I am giving them the room to grow – just as I stand away from my daughters and allow them to explore and grow without their embarrassing dad too close. I will find different spaces within these protected environments for plants and seedlings with different needs. I am always attempting to ‘read’ what is going on and then act on those conclusions. Past the danger of mice? Out in the garden, I am doing similar work. Old bits of glazing go down on the soil, ready for sowing. This will warm the earth beneath, giving any subsequent sowings a better chance of ‘getting away’ – like baby turtles hurtling to the waves, so germination will be the first big test and I will be there to nurture and aid. We have mice at Pattendens, too – and I don’t like to put down poison, though I wouldn’t be averse to a cat or two in this space. But I have to think differently if I want peas (and I do). It appears, after a few years of wrestling with the problem of mice eating my peas before they get going, that the solution is to germinate them indoors and plant them as small plants. The pea before germination appears to be the treat – not the small plant (that appears to be pigeon fodder – but nothing a little chicken wire doesn’t fix.) And the broad beans, whilst being a very easy baby, requiring little care and being happy plunged into cold Autumn soil, will turn into a gangly juvenile. Hazel coppice crafted into a support structure will protect these youths from getting too ‘leggy’ and the inevitable flopping, just like a drunk sixteen year old not understanding his limits. It’s useful, at least for me, to think like this when dealing with plants that we annually grow for crops – they require care and attention, and the inputs are pretty large. If we think like this, it becomes less of a to do list and more natural. I have had clients and friends quite fairly say that the price of fruit and vegetables are so low, that it makes no sense to grow your own, and to an extent they are right – but that argument misses the main points. Yeah – it’s a hassle, if you’re not naturally inclined to grow stuff (actually, I believe we are ALL naturally inclined – it’s just that we’ve forgotten over the centuries) and modern life gets in the way of nurturing something to fruition – there is often something that feels more urgent or important to do, and we have instant gratification everywhere. BUT if we swing the thinking around a little (or a lot) and looking after a tomato plant, or a row of spuds can be life changing. Bear with me. The reason growing your own is so special is because it is not always easy. Like life itself, supporting a rubbish football team and going through adversity, you come through stronger, more philosophical and more able to deal with the future. You also learn how to grow good food, which is no small thing – especially in this uncertain world. It’s a learning curve you will never master, you will be forever a student because, for all the advice and books and courses, and maybe even this blog, mistakes will be made. Anyone that says different is almost certainly fibbing. Growing food will always throw you a curve ball – because that’s intrinsic in the nature. It’s why commercial agriculture uses so many ‘weapons’ to curtail the chances of those curve balls – of course, in the long term, some might say those practices are storing up one whoopass problem in the not too distant future, but maybe that’s for another day. The point is that growing food is an experience that can help the individual grow and heal. Nature can be read, and this is a intense course. The advantages of growing your own are actually infinitesimal- it’s healthier both for you and the planet. It’s also tastier. In the end, it can be cheaper, though certainly not at first, but the real bonus is a connection with your piece of earth, and the mental gymnastics and common sense practiced to perform to coax life and food from it. This allows philosophical thought and an escape from the vast amounts of bull shit that is heaped upon us every day. It connects us with the rythms of nature and unearths the meaning in things. It cuts through the noise and creates peace. Of course that’s until you get potato blight or Carrot root fly. Nobody said bringing up kids was easy!   The post "Here Come the Girls" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.    

MarkFurmston

MarkFurmston

Can Cinnamon Help You Lose Weight?

The History of Cinnamon For thousands of years, numerous cultures used cinnamon as a spice and to benefit health. As a matter of fact, in the ancient world, cinnamon was the most sought-after spice. It was known as “Kwei” in China in 2700 BCE and was introduced to Egypt around 1500 BCE. At one time in history, cinnamon was so sought after that it built empires and was the center of violent trade disputes. In addition to being a spice, ancient cultures used cinnamon for colds, flu, and digestive system issues. You can see why this multi-dimensional spice was so popular. Even today, cinnamon is still considered one of the most popular spices in the world. Why is Cinnamon So Popular? So what makes cinnamon so popular today? Is it because it makes your $5 latte taste better, or is it because it gives your protein shake more flavor? Of course, those are some of the popular uses today, but cinnamon has become more popular due to recent research indicating cinnamon has many beneficial health applications. Cinnamon is a small tree, commonly found in South Asia and the Middle East. The cinnamon that we typically purchase in our supermarkets is from the bark of the tree and is either sold as sticks or ground into a powder. The two most popular types of cinnamon (Ceylon and Cassia) are from two different types of cinnamon trees. Cinnamon is one of the most widely used herbal medicines and has diverse bio-active effects. For example, it has been found to have positive effects on cancerous tumors. Cinnamon has many anti-oxidant qualities, and cinnamon oil has strong antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is also a source of fiber, manganese, iron, and calcium. Some of the Health Benefits of Cinnamon Cinnamon has been used as an effective home remedy to do the following: Curb hunger Aid digestion Decrease blood glucose levels and help to treat type 2 diabetes Treat diarrhea Treat the common cold Reduce arthritis pain Reduce cholesterol Boost memory and cognitive function Treat headaches and migraine pain Treat toothaches Eliminate bad breath More recent research focuses on cinnamon’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and possibly help with the obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemic in America today. An article in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition addressed the following: The intake of 6 g cinnamon with rice pudding reduces postprandial blood glucose and delays gastric emptying (GER) without affecting satiety. The inclusion of cinnamon in the diet lowers the postprandial glucose response, a change that is at least partially explained by a delayed GER. Another recent study in Diabetic Medicine discovered the following: Intake of 2g of cinnamon for 12 weeks significantly reduces the HbA1c, SBP and DBP among poorly controlled type 2 diabetes patients. Cinnamon supplementation could be considered as an additional dietary supplement option to regulate blood glucose and blood pressure levels along with conventional medications to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. How Does Cinnamon Lower Your Blood Sugar? Cinnamon slows the emptying of your stomach contents, thus reducing quick elevations in blood sugar following meals, which can improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Those of you who have read my book know that insulin and insulin sensitivity is the key to weight loss. By assisting in the regulation of your insulin levels, cinnamon will result in you storing less body fat and make the body fat you have more available to be used as energy. Of course, cinnamon alone is not the magic formula for weight loss; you must incorporate it into a healthy diet in order to get the full benefits. What Are the Different Types of Cinnamon, and Where Can I Purchase Them? The everyday powder or stick form of cinnamon that is available in most grocery stores is usually Cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is typically more expensive and is, therefore, typically sold in specialty stores. It is usually only available in stick form. While both types are known for their therapeutic effects, the Ceylon cinnamon is slightly sweeter and is therefore considered to be of higher quality. How Do I Incorporate Cinnamon into my Daily Diet? I have used cinnamon in my foods and drinks every day for years and truly love it for its variety of uses. For everyone who is looking to improve their health and/or lose weight, I recommend substituting cinnamon for their daily use of sugar. Obviously, you can’t use cinnamon in everything that contains sugar, but this is an easy and inexpensive step toward reducing your sugar intake. Some of my favorite foods and drinks I use and recommend cinnamon as a sugar substitute are below:
- When you are making your protein shake, mix it with ¼ to ½ tsp of cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, about 4 ounces of fruit, and a scoop of almond butter. I will even put a couple of dashes of cinnamon in my chocolate protein shake, as it gives a distinctive, but very pleasing, taste. - Instead of using sugar in your tea, try substituting cinnamon and stevia. - For a quick healthy dessert, cut up some frozen banana slices, put in a small scoop of almond butter, and sprinkle it with cinnamon. - In a medium bowl, whip up three egg whites until they are nice and fluffy, then add stevia and cinnamon to your preferred taste. You can also add some blue berries, and now you have great tasting, and incredibly healthy, dessert or snack. - For those of you who make your own almond butter, you can add a little honey, sea salt, and cinnamon to spice it up a bit. Look for my video on YouTube “How to make homemade almond butter.” I recommend you buy organic cinnamon whenever possible, as it will be grown with the best farming practices, and you will avoid ingesting various chemicals found in today’s mass produced foods. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to incorporate cinnamon into your daily diet and reap the health benefits. The uses for cinnamon are nearly endless, and I encourage you to explore the various recipes.   References:  

Gary Collins

Gary Collins

Perspectives of Fitness and Health, a Mindset

There is a tremendous amount of written information on the important subject of fitness and health. But there is one common thread that holds true in all of it. You can acquire all manner of information and read every possible perspective from information, based on examples of personal experience to purely technical data of a scientific based nature, like physiological outcomes and expectations. But the one fact that is a constant is this, if you do NOT put the information to use or actually test it for yourself, it is not only somewhat worthless, but you will not see any actual benefit, unless some effort is expended. So talking about it and acquiring information is a first step, and an important step, but taking action is what actually makes it happen and has any real effect. I hope to help you do that part just by wrapping your head around it, and pointing you to that action! We all react slightly differently to the food we take in and the physical stimulus we apply to our bodies. So it makes a lot of sense to realize that a sort of “playing with it all”, as though it is an experiment, will likely yield all manner of feedback we can use to expand our efforts and results. Having this attitude and frame of mind is actually critical to the results one will achieve. It helps create a relaxed mental state about starting your own program, which is of course a personal journey of sorts. A conscious decision to improve one’s health and overall physical functions. The purpose of such endeavors is, many times, spawned by the acceptance or realization that we need to lose some weight or are experiencing some sort of physical problems/injuries, or maybe just want to feel better and perhaps look better. There are many motivating factors, as we are all slightly different physiologically and psychologically. I would point out that, if you take a perspective of purely health benefit, guess what happens; the good looking/feeling parts will automatically be a byproduct of your efforts and all else will simply follow. So focus on the health issues, like reducing body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol, and just how good it makes you feel. Realize looking good and all these benefits will simply be a byproduct of your own personal program, as well as clear mindedness. Healthy diet/nutrition is key to this effort but not the only component, for sure. A balance of all factors is necessary. This is a very empowering concept because it helps us wrap our head around the highest purpose to accomplish our goals in such endeavors. This mindset will help you stay focused, yet relaxed mentally, so you do not defeat yourself and, therefore, can reach a higher state of accomplishment. When all is said and done, the only thing that matters is your actual results that you can see and feel. The benefits will be mental, as well as physical, because the body, mind, and spirit are very much interconnected. The shin bone is definitely connected to the thigh bone, as a metaphoric analogy, but completely accurate and valid. Remember, when we are exerting that energy, we are circulating blood to all parts of the body and that, too, is highly beneficial for many reasons. Blood carrying oxygen and removing toxins is a very good thing. So it really is all about our mindset and how we think about it, and then take action to bring it all to fruition. Recently I interviewed a guy named Gary Collins. He may be familiar to some of you. He is almost 25 years younger than myself. Gary is a professional in the field, I am not. I am a common sense guy that found what works and how to heal myself. But I realized we have reached a very similar place in our health/fitness endeavors. The underlying common denominator was putting out the effort to make our thesis or goals come to fruition. Gary takes a much more technical approach than myself with data. I was motivated largely by an effort to heal myself after a major accident to regain and, hopefully, surpass my previous physical capacities from sports related endeavors of many years. And, with a lot of effort and tweaking, it worked ! It seems Gary has had some similar experiences and motivations. My own experience has been a lot of reading, but mostly hands on trial and error of what worked and what didn’t. I am simply built that way psychologically. I am all about hands on, try it and see what happens, after gathering the necessary information. You will find that some will work for you and some not so much. So we have to fiddle with it all a bit and fine tune our own program that fits us both physiologically and mentally. I gained a new level of understanding from my interaction with Gary for numerous reasons. He has a lot of excellent information, and zeros in on the most basic points to focus on that actually matter and will yield results. I highly recommend his book on the Primal Power Method. I just finished it. The information about the glucose/insulin connection was the most important and relevant for me. Although there are many good points and a wealth of data to be gleaned. Gary breaks it down to its simplest forms. I like that part , because that works for me. He explains how to apply the information, rather than just, here is the data. And he is not hung up in Paleo dogma so prevalent from many sources. He does NOT say or claim that Paleo whatever will make you fit and or healthy. He squarely shows it to be just a piece of the puzzle, but for good reasons. I clearly state on my site fitness page that I am simply a common sense guy that set about to heal himself and willing to share the things I learned to accomplish that goal. For me, all I need to know is the results of those endeavors. I really don’t care how I got there, except for the fact that it is just good information at that point. Something worked. Another major issue I had to cross was simply being honest with myself about my current condition and where I was headed and how to get there. Being injured, the outcome was all unknown. So a trial and error method was completely necessary and appropriate. For me, that always works the best and I imagine for many, as well. I have a basic workout and some basic minimums at my site, as well, to help as a reference point to get you started. I offer some proofs of sort or guidelines to help you to your goals and success. Below is a simple chart of photos that will help you identify your current physical condition of body fat. The photo method is really simple and that is why I use it and mention it. It is a great guideline and reference point. There is a full page link on my site that gives much more info. If you are honest with yourself, it does NOT lie! The purpose is to NOT defeat yourself or injure yourself and to have the correct starting point of reference for yourself. As well, simply by looking at yourself naked in the mirror does not lie. So these are excellent reference points, based in reality, that are the absolute best place to start. There is also more technical measuring methods at my site, as well in the links. For Men                                                                          For Women                       
                      
Remember women’s body fat is slightly higher So why am I focusing on body fat? It is the single most important factor most of us face to good health and fitness. A person with lesser body fat will have all the benefits mentioned above and will have a higher state of physical ability and performance. A person with 10% BF will simply outperform a person with 20% and the 25% plus person is not even in the ballpark of equal performance of overall strength, stamina, endurance. They will simply not be able to keep up past a certain level, in a very short time frame. As well, the benefits of the healthy state are ever present in equal abundance and relationship. How do we gain control over the body fat? With a combination of nutrition and physical stimulus. What we put in our bodies is our fuel and is critical. And simply taking count of our current habits can cause us to make some simple, but profound, changes that will help us immensely and rather easily. We do not have to suffer for food in any way. I explain what I eat in great detail and I do without nothing really, except JUNK. I simply eat real foods and it all tastes great. I  have seen many people who talk about Paleo this and that, or various other techniques, resolutions and plans over the years, and they are not fit. You can see it easily visually. So I pretty much discount most of what they say, because it is obvious they are 25% body fat or more. Talk never works for me. I am all about results and that takes action, not talk. Bottom line, it is our specific effort and mindset that really matters the most to making any real accomplishment or changing our fitness/health for the better. So we must take the information and put it into action and not just talk about it or think that simply eating meat or limiting white carbs is going to accomplish fitness or health. It won’t, it can’t. It is just a small piece of the puzzle and still must be tempered per individual. You have to take action, although the Paleo thinking can help for sure, it is NOT a panacea or fix all. There is more to the picture and that boils down to taking action for yourself.  That is what separates the talkers from the doers and accomplishers, simple as that. It always reminds me of back in the day when many people, where I lived in Eugene, were continuously talking about and complaining about pollution and the evils of the world, while smoking a cigarette or a joint. No question a nonsensical set of double standards and completely self defeating, hey? But supposedly mellow , whatever that means. I saw this a lot and still do in a slightly different way, when I see people talking Paleo and they are obviously not fit. And there is definitely a relationship to fitness and our health. So we can fool ourselves and create our own illusions in every part of our lives. As I see it, our government does that to us a bunch, so I don’t really want anymore if I can help it. So wrap your head around your current state of fitness/health and take charge of your body, mind, and spirit. The benefits will be many and, when all is said and done, it won’t make a bit of difference how you get there, only that you arrive! Amazing, hey? There is an abundance of good information out there, but it does all simply come down to you and your actions. By the way, I am probably a 75% Paleo guy and have been for a long while, well before it was a popular item. But I don’t even consider it Paleo actually and I am very healthy and fit, with little effort. The only fitness God I worship is the results God! You can choose any level you want to reach. I was crippled for 5 years and healed myself and now going to a slightly higher level with little effort or angst. I am heading back to below 10% BF for a while and see if it works for me this time any better. I lost another 10 pounds this winter, so it will be fairly easy. As Joni Mitchell said quite a while ago “it all comes down to you.” Nothing has really changed. I am all about our Inner Powers in every aspect of our life. We just have to recognize and utilize them in every event and purpose. Good on Ya and good luck in your endeavors. Keep it fun and enjoy. Hope you can glean some helpful insights from my own experiences at my site. It is FREE!    Steve Baze    wwwdowntoearthprepper.com   The post "Perspectives of Fitness and Health, a Mindset" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.    

Steve Baze

Steve Baze

The Use of Force Spectrum: Advanced Physical Force

Advanced physical force and intermediate force are the tools and skills that go beyond physical force in the Use of Force spectrum but are still not considered lethal force. They included advanced martial training; such as expertise in multiple weapon types,  professional-level martial training, chemical sprays, electro-muscular disruption technology, and adaptations of lethal force to minimize damage (such as bean bag shells for shotguns). This article is NOT a primer on what is legal or not legal in certain states, as the laws vary. The reader is encouraged to research the laws pertaining to their state and to consult their legal counsel to verify their understanding of these laws. Advanced martial training is included in intermediate force only from the standpoint that such training brings additional scrutiny to the protector when utilizing this skill set. This is NOT the notion that 'hands and feet are registered as lethal weapons' because that is a myth. However, credentials in advanced martial skill can be used to question if the level of force administered was necessary for protection, or if it was excessive. This is sometimes initiated through 'disparity of force' arguments. In disparity of force, a lone protector against multiple attackers may be able to respond to the altercation with lethal force, even if none of his attackers are using lethal force instruments, only because the 4 against 1 scenario provides enough justification that life or great bodily harm is a reasonable possibility. Similarly, in an altercation between a mid-20's athlete arguing with granny over a parking space, if granny starts swinging her cane, the other individual may not necessarily be able to justify a physical force response, because granny is no real threat. Expertise in martial training may be used to demonstrate a force disparity based on capability. Remember, a prosecuting attorney's job is to get convictions, and any legal avenue he can bring to bear on the case may be used. Chemical weapons are often allowed to use anytime physical force is justified (again, check for yourself in your state). The most widely accepted is OC spray, which stands for oleoresin capsicum. It is an inflammatory, so when sprayed affects the eyes, nose, and mucus membranes of the target. While some people are not as affected by this type of attack, it will have an effect on most of the population. The inflammatory effects take time to onset. This can be between 10 and 20 seconds, depending on the target. In that onset time, the target will feel discomfort, but will not be overly incapacitated. Repeat offenders who have been sprayed multiple times are also far more likely to control any anxiety over getting sprayed, so while the spray will affect them, any panic associated debilitation will be averted. Users of OC spray are well served by having a strong martial background so that they can protect themselves while the effects of the spray set in. Another advanced force item is an electro-muscular disruption. TASER is a popular brand device for this. In the case of these devices, an electrical signal is imparted to the target using frequency and high voltage to disrupt the nervous system's ability to send signals to the body. The effects are a kind of stun because the target can no longer control most bodily functions. These effects are instantaneous, but the nature of the device is such that one shot is usually all that the device has the capacity for. In that one shot, two probes must make contact with the target to create the signal loop. Fortunately, the probes' small wires can also act as a signal loop so contact with the wires is sufficient to get some effect. There are other intermediate force options available, primarily to law enforcement, which include bean bag rounds fired from shotguns, using weapons such as flashlights and batons in a controlling way, and other alternatives. These options are not generally available to civilians or may constitute lethal force. For instance, a night stick used by a police officer trained in using it as a grappling aid would fall under advanced physical force. If the same scenario was played out between non-LEO civilians, the use of the weapon may constitute lethal force. Advanced physical force options are an excellent way for a protector to be able to help ensure he is not harmed by using these tools in an effective and law-abiding way. A fight against a thug may have been a challenge, but if the thug has been hit with pepper spray, it makes the protector more likely to prevail. There are multiple courses around the country that instruct intermediate force options available to the non-LEO civilian. Like all protection training, these courses should be explored and attended, and proficiency gained, before relying on the force option for personal protection. Each of these options has very unique characteristics and require an understanding and proficiency to correctly employ. Paying for a pepper spray canister from the hardware store does not generate this proficiency. Training does.  

DonaldJ

DonaldJ

Secrets of the Morel Mushroom

A bounty of morel mushrooms With the mushroom season fast approaching, morel hunters from all over the country are watching the soil temperatures and precipitation. Usually, when soil temperatures reach around 55º F, the morels will begin to pop out of the soil. I have seen morels pop as early as March and as late as July, and sometimes a second season in August and September, though it has been my experience that the spring harvest is by far the most prosperous. Understanding the life cycle of the morel mushroom still challenges modern mycologists. This is one mushroom that has proven difficult to cultivate outside of nature. Though modern science has had limited success in their efforts, the results simply do not compare to the quality found in nature. Therefore, we, as mushroom hunters, need to be sure to protect and assure the morel populations are not depleted. We can do this by observing a few simple measures. The morel mushroom has thousands of tiny spores within the cone or head of the mushroom. These spores are carried by animals, insects, and by the wind to other areas and deposited on the ground. These spores will then grow into tomorrow’s morels. The essential item that every morel hunter should carry is a mesh bag for collecting morels. Using a mesh bag allows air to pass through the bag as you walk. The air then evaporates any moisture or condensation that has settled on the morel mushrooms, and causes a cooling effect. The next and most appropriate reason to use a mesh bag is to help the morels propagate by allowing their spores to be dispersed as you walk through the forest collecting your bounty. Use an old onion or potato bag, as long as the mesh is along the bottom and side edges to allow more spores to be dispersed. Fellow morel hunters have seen a decrease in the morel populations in some areas, compared to what they once observed in a particular area. This is believed to be caused by mushroom hunters using a plastic bag or other container that does not allow proper spore dispersal when harvesting mushrooms. Other reasons for a population decline may simply be the geography or specific minerals or nutrients for that particular area are not as conducive as they once were. Let me share a few things that may help you to become more successful when hunting these morel mushrooms. The best areas to find morels are around fallen and rotting trees. There are several trees that morels seem to be consistently found within the vicinity. In the Midwest and throughout the south, some of the best areas are close to the forest edges, in groves of elms. Morels may be found in the low areas that retain ground moisture, but that do not contain standing water. They have been found on the sides of ravines that face a southward direction within forested areas. Around birch and aspen trees are other areas that morels favor. Morels have been harvested in areas that have been burned out by wildfires or old campfires. They enjoy a light tree canopy that allows moderate light through, and can be found next to shrub rows, as well as the forest edges, and just about anywhere. I have found lots of morels along railroad tracks through the Midwest, in fact these are some of the areas I scout to see if morels are up. One thing I like to do after finding a few morels is to check the air flow patterns through the area to determine where spores may have deposited, based on the direction of air flow. Look around and identify any trees that are near or have fallen. Check to see if any other types of mushrooms are growing, and also try to note other plants or shrubbery and see if they are flowering, blossoming or their size and color. This will help you advance your knowledge in determining other areas that may yield a morel population. Using these methods, I have stumbled upon rich areas that otherwise may not have been checked. Recognition and identification is essential in collecting these treasures from the forest. To identify and harvest this mushroom is fairly easy, after you are familiar with a few characteristics of the morel mushroom. The morel has a few varieties that are most common and referred to by mushroom hunters based on their color (grays, yellows, and blacks). Each morel variety springs up within several days of each other, and offering a longer window of opportunity to harvest. Next you need to be able to distinguish the cone or cap of the morel from other mushrooms. There is only one mushroom that is remotely close to the morel in appearance, but looks more like brain matter than the waffle type pattern of the morel, and that is called the false morel, which is poisonous. The morel mushroom will always have a hollow stem that is light in color. If you have any doubt whether the mushroom is a morel, then simply throw it out. Once you have stumbled upon an area rich in morels, it’s time to get to work. When harvesting a morel mushroom, either pinch or cut the base of the mushroom, remove any soil, then place in your mesh bag. I like to try and leave any morels whose cap is smaller than my thumb, and return a few days later to harvest them, as they will usually double or triple in size. Remember to shake your mesh bag around these areas to deposit more spores. When returning to your vehicle, do not place the fresh morels into your trunk or back window. Try to keep them in a shaded but well ventilated place. This will help them remain fresh for the ride home. If you want more morel mushrooms and greater areas to hunt these elusive treasures, then I highly encourage you to use a mesh bag when collecting your morels, and sprinkle your favorite areas with the spores of your harvest. Following the advice of this article will help to ensure the future populations of these wonderful mushrooms. Morel hunting can be very rewarding and offers a good time for adults, teens, and small children alike to enjoy the outdoors. After your harvest, be sure to invite a few friends over and cook them up some fresh morels as an appetizer to your favorite meal. The following is one of my favorite recipes for enjoying fresh morel mushrooms. Remember store bought morels will need to be re-hydrated prior to preparing. Cast Iron Morels
½ pound fresh morels
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp pepper
2 eggs Mix flour, salt and pepper together. Place eggs in a separate dish and beat well (for egg wash). Melt butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Take your washed morels and add them to egg wash, then roll in seasoned flour and place in cast iron skillet. Reduce heat and repeat steps until skillet is full. Press gently to flatten morels with a fork or spatula. Turn when golden brown. Aside from morels simply sautéed or fried in butter, this recipe is most enjoyed with friends and family. WARNING! When eating any wild edible for the first time it is wise to consume a small amount to minimize any allergic reaction. Morels for consumption must be clean and free of decay. This is done by soaking in brine (salt water) for several hours and rinsing prior to preparation. For more photos of morel mushrooms please click here to visit my Flickr site. The post "Secrets of the Morel Mushroom" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.  

Travis Toler

Travis Toler

  • Recent Status Updates

  • Hello Guest, we are ThriveThrough

  • Column Statistics

    • Total Columns
      67
    • Total Articles
      280
  • Column Comments

    • Thank you for your service and your fighting spirit! I'm an army brat and know what it's like to have a father in Croatia doing what he needs to do to keep his troops and his family safe.
    • I didn't find the OP as negative. Shared/mutual feelings definitely! I was on a great path and able to GSD in lots of areas. Prepping was never a new idea to me. My family had always done it and we just didn't have a name for it. Having stores of supplies, rotating stock, and long term thinking were just the way to do things. The MAG was my family - uncles, cousins, and neighbors. However, the loss of my grandfather saw that come to an end through some internal disagreements, and errant children (my generation). I've been trying to put those pieces back together for the last several years as one of the "older" kids that saw and really experienced what we used to be. One or two were coming back to the fold and then off to AFG I went.       Simple things that I was on task with went out the window - ground prep for my current bugout and future home property, maintaining ever increasing stores of food, teaching and experiencing things with my kids as they grow up, etc. I was REALLY off track at first. I had a radical change in location (from NM to DC to AFG)) and total loss of access to my previous resources. As I slowly get back to that state (puns abound), I have worked on other areas - I learned a new language (1+ in Dari), I'm still practicing my gardening (underneath my bunk here in AFG) and teaching those skills to my Afghan counterparts. Scrounging around the base looking for items to build a garden plot has been interesting, Teaching (very trying in a new language) has been reinforcing my own understanding of topics and I keep adding to the plans and outlining what I need to get done. Although most of it is on paper, I am regaining focus and the plan continues to solidify. The greatest frustration is the loss of time with the ground prep - it COULD have been building more resilient soil and base infrastructure if I had only two more months before I left (in 2015) and I would be returning to a somewhat thriving base. Although, I don't feel overly angry about it because I was pushing the envelope then and know it wasn't because I was BSing and just didn't get it done.      It is tough to keep the frustration from getting in the way, but groups like this here and Jack's podcast have been invaluable to keeping the focus. It did help to hear that I'm not the only one. It does help to hear that others are getting through it and the ways we are all doing so. Fortunately, living a better way "if things get tough or even if they don't" resonates deeply with me. Understanding that things can be executed incrementally has taken the greater stress off of not getting something done as long as I can keep chipping away at the overall plan. The greater my self reliance becomes, the greater I feel. It's also a driving factor in working with others to get them to experience the same personal relief when you have "x" level of preps. An extra pack of batteries, week of food, proper tools in the car, skill set to do something themselves, etc has shown the light for lots of friends and served as building blocks for their lives as well. Josiah's (and many others) efforts (and sacrifices) aren't going unnoticed. I greatly appreciate those efforts and look forward to contributing to group.
    • I am finding myself slacking with my preps trying to get ThriveThrough going so that others can find each other, build MAG's, and advance their preps. Hopefully, this will pay off and many more people will be prepared. Then I can get back to advancing my preps further than I currently am. 
    • I'm going to do this with 1 or 2 x 6 this year. Had to do a lot of diging to find em last year. Check out my club for more pictures!
    • Thank you, ProtectorCdn! I can imagine the work put in on those beds. I'm jealous about the beach 😀 All the best in health and possibilities.  
×