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What Native Americans Can Teach Us About Sustainability

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 16:00

What Native Americans Can Teach Us About Sustainability

We know that the earth and all of creation came into being by God as designer and creator. God put in place a number of finely tuned systems, cycles and physical parameters that sustain life.

Adam and Eve were given instructions to care for and work the garden. Adam was a caretaker of creation, not a conqueror. Throughout the Bible we see God demonstrating to His people that the land belongs to Him, not us, and we are merely aliens here and His tenants (Leviticus 25:23). God instructed man not to overuse the land and to allow it to lie fallow every seven years. So, from many biblical examples, it is clear that God expected humans to sustainably manage the resources He provides. We are to leave an inheritance for our children’s children (Proverbs 13:22).

While Christians should in no way abandon the mandates given to us in the Bible, there is much to learn about caring for the land from those who don’t necessarily believe the same as we do — specifically the Native American people.

 

Native Americans

Europeans who arrived in America must have thought that the fertile, well-managed land just happened to be there. They knew that native people existed but did not give credit to their skills or knowledge. Because of this, they missed the opportunity to learn about a highly complex and sustainable form of earth management. In fact, this form of land management was one of the most sophisticated that has ever existed.

The lands that our forefathers first put their eyes on was not “untouched” or “wild” as some have recorded, but rather the result of a broad range of indigenous, land management techniques. Today, these techniques are being rediscovered amongst sustainable agriculture activists who are seeking to bring back to life that which has been buried by industrialization, commercialization and a general disrespect for the earth.

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It behooves all of us interested in living as sustainably as possible to delve deeper into the ways of the past. The ways that the Native American people managed to survive in some of the harshest climates in our country — places where winds blow, temperatures freeze or scorch and water is scarce.

 

What does it mean to be sustainable?

The term “sustainable” or “sustainability” has come to mean a number of things including:

  • Renewing resources at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are consumed.
  • Living within the resources that are available without damaging the environment.
  • A community that resembles a living system where all resources are renewed and in balance always.
  • An economic system that provides a high quality of life while renewing the environment and its resources.

Although all of these definitions are somewhat different, they all hold something in common — a respect for the earth, for natural resources and a stewardship mindset.

John Muir commented in the late 1800s that “Indians walk softly and hurt the landscape hardly more than birds or squirrels.” As a result, the land before the Europeans arrived was rich and fertile, organized and well-tended. Native Americans did not struggle against nature. They worked within the set boundaries and out of a spirit of respect. They took no more than they could use and used all they could from what they took, being sure to put the time and energy into the land so that it would continue to yield and continue to produce for generations to come.

Native Americans practiced extensive and intensive land management for food, clothing, shelter and medicine that was guided by a number of ethics including moderation, reciprocity, restraint, celebration and gratitude. In fact, we refer to Native Americans as the “first ecologists” or “first environmentalists.”

Here are just a few of the practices that allowed Native Americans to thrive without harming the earth.

 

Farming

Native Americans had no plows or heavy machinery but contrary to what many think, this was a good thing. The lack of plows actually helped sustain soil fertility. Many tribes used sophisticated methods of permaculture to harvest the same plants year after year. Because of this, there was no need to create new cropland by burning — like we do today. “Keep it living” was their goal. Perennial cultivation demonstrated their value and respect for nature.

In 1779, a soldier sent by General George Washington reported that his unit had destroyed more than 200 acres of Iroquois corn and beans that was the “best I ever saw.” Clearly, the natives and their “three sisters” companion cropping technique was a testimony to their agricultural prowess that has been highly underestimated.

At one time it was estimated that the Iroquois could support up to three times as many people on one acre as compared to Europeans and their wheat crops. Clearly they were doing something right.

 

Foraging

Native Americans learned that the land provided a great many plants whose usefulness extended far beyond food. Roots, greens, berries and tree bark were all on the menu and revered for the potent medicinal qualities. Many of these same plants provided building materials for shelter, fuel, tools and clothing. Tribes were careful not to over pick and their nomadic nature allowed for regeneration of resources in many areas. When natives harvested bark, for example, they took what they needed without killing the tree. So, compare this to our tree harvesting techniques today — our conquer mindset is what causes us to chop an entire tree down for perhaps only a portion of that tree, leaving the rest to rot on the forest floor.

 

Fishing

Natives applied the same attitude of stewardship and caring to aquatic harvesting. They carefully tended and even cleaned salmon streams. When the stream changed course they transplanted salmon eggs to the new stream channel to continue the circle of life. Coastal tribes moved rocks around in configurations that would provide for the highest yield of clams while maintaining natural order. They also made fishing nets out of spears and hooks attached to hemp twine.

 

Hunting

Native Americans hunted a variety of game and used all parts of the animal. They used the animal for food, clothing, shelter, tools, bedding or decoration for example. Hunting tools made from natural resources included throwing sticks, bows made from wood and animal tendons and arrows, spears and harpoons made from stones. They made netting from hemp or grasses to trap small game. Native Americans living in the plains hunted Buffalo with bows, arrows and spears. They used the meat for food and the hides for clothing, moccasins, tepees and bedding. There was no waste.

 

Lesson for all of us

Out of His grace and goodness, God has put everything on this earth for our survival. Historically, the Native American people understood, in their own way, that nature was to be tended, to be carefully and lovingly maintained, to be respected and not dominated. That the natural resources on the earth would continue to produce year after year – to provide the things needed for survival when steps were light and hearts were right.

This is what it means to be sustainable.

Do you agree or disagree? Tell us in the section below: 

 

The post What Native Americans Can Teach Us About Sustainability appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Forget Plucking! There’s A MUCH Easier Way To Process Chickens

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 15:00

Process Chickens a much easier way, with no plucking.

Processing chickens usually involves plucking feathers, which can be a long and tedious job, especially with some heavy-feathered traditional chicken breeds such as Cochins, Orpingtons and Wyandottes. Instead of inviting a herd of neighbors over to help pluck your chickens on chicken butchering day, make your chicken meat processing easier with these simple ideas.

 

Skin Your Chickens

Forget plucking altogether and instead, skin your chickens. The process is quicker, eliminating not only all feathers, but the skin, excessive fat, the tail and the head. You get all of the meat in a neat, freezable package.

 

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The chicken skinning process is as follows:
  • Hang upside down – After putting a bird through the killing cone, tie a cord between its legs, and hang it upside down from an outbuilding ceiling rafter or tree branch.
  • Skin legs – Use a sharp skinning knife and start skinning from where feathers start on the legs. After just a couple of turns around a leg, and you can simply pull the leg skin off with one downward motion.
  • Skin body – Make a slice from leg to leg on the bottom of the bird’s abdomen. Then, skin rearward and frontward. Again, most of the skin will separate from the meat by simply pulling it downward. More delicate skinning is required on the bird’s rump, lower back, and where its wings attach to the abdomen. Only skin to the wings’ elbow joints.
  • Separate unwanted parts – Using a stiff hunting knife, make a slice on one side, and then the other side of each elbow joint, thereby severing them in two. You won’t keep the end of the wing, but there’s not enough meat on that part to worry about. Next, slice through the neck with your hunting knife. Dispose of the skin with all of the feathers, the neck, the tail with its oil gland, the head, and both wing tips. What’s left hanging is the meat and legs. Unhang this carcass, make a slice at the hock joint, snap it sideways, and then cut off the scaly ends of the chicken legs. Slice open the bottom of the cavity, pull out the guts, and wash the carcass in a bowl of fresh cold water. You can separate out the liver, heart and gizzard, if you enjoy chicken giblets.

 

Clean Up the Whole Bird

Thorough cleaning is best performed in a sink with running water. Rinse the cavity and remove any parts missed by prior gutting. Pay particular attention to lungs, trachea and ovaries or testes, which still might be attached. Cut away unwanted fat. Trim any remaining feathers from the ends of the legs and wings.

 

Cut Body into Parts

To cut up your chicken into individual pieces:

  • Legs and wings – Cut to the inside of the thighs. Then, grab both legs and snap them backward, exposing the joints. Cut them off of the main body and cut the drum sticks from the thighs, again through the joints. Cut the mini drum sticks of the wings off of the main body.
  • Back and ribs – Stand the bird on its neck. Cut from the tail to the neck along one side of its ribs, and then cut the other side. Bend backward until the back snaps. Cut across the points of least resistance, cutting the lower back from the ribs.
  • Breast – Put the front of breast down on a cutting board. Cut on both sides of the cartilage, slide fingers along the breast bone and peel it out. Cut the breast in half, giving you two pieces of breast meat.

Story continues below video

 

 

Packaging and Freezing

A nice aspect with skinning and cutting up your chicken is that you get a more compact package of chicken meat that fits better in the freezer than does a round chicken carcass. After you’ve cut up your chicken, thoroughly wash all parts again under cold water. Then let the water drain from the chicken parts by leaving them in the sink with the water turned off.

Avoid wrapping chicken meat in freezer wrap paper. Chicken meat lasts longer in the freezer when it’s packaged in plastic. Zippered gallon freezer bags work best. Traditional chicken breeds butchered at 12 weeks old will fit nicely into gallon freezer bags. Once excess water drains off the chicken parts, place them all within a gallon bag, partially close the plastic zipper of the bag, and then squeeze excess air from the bag before closing it.

You now have a nice, flat package of chicken meat. Now, wasn’t that easier than plucking the chicken?

Do you have any advice for processing a chicken without plucking it? Share it in the section below:

 

The post Forget Plucking! There’s A MUCH Easier Way To Process Chickens appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The Surprisingly Simple Way To Avoid Being Robbed

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 17:03

Situational Awareness – The Simple Way To Avoid Being Robbed

Let me start this out with a bit of a test for you. Try to answer the following questions:

  • The last time you stopped for gas, how many other cars were getting gas?
  • What color socks was your boss wearing today?
  • What did the people in front of you and behind you at the grocery line look like?
  • How many of your neighbors left this morning, before you did?
  • Were there any unusual cars parked on your street when you got home today?

If you can answer any of those questions, without it being pure guess work, you’re doing good. The truth is, though, that most of us can’t. We become used to the situations around us and then just stop noticing them. Then, when something new or different comes along, we don’t even recognize it for what it is.

 

Instead, we’re looking at our smartphones — checking email, texting friends, or posting pictures to Facebook.

“So, what?” you might say. “Who cares about my boss’s socks or the other people stopped in the same gas station?” If that’s your reaction, trust me, you’re not alone. Most of the adults on this planet would say more or less the same thing. But then, those same people would step on a land mine, without even realizing it until it went “boom.”

The thing is, not being aware of what’s going on around you can be deadly. Just about every dangerous situation we can find ourselves in has some sort of warning. But like the intelligence before the attack on Pearl Harbor, ignoring those warning signs can have grave consequences.

What we need is situational awareness. Situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of what is around you and what the people or things around you are doing. It is being so aware of your surroundings that when something changes, you notice it. It’s knowing what to expect, so that the unexpected stands out. More than anything, it’s seeing things that could be a threat, and analyzing that threat before it can manifest.

Without situational awareness, we’re more likely to get mugged, to get carjacked, to get pickpocketed.

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I recently re-watched one of the Sherlock Holmes movies, starring Robert Downey, Jr. At one point in the story, his female companion asked him, “What do you see?” To which he responded, “Everything. That’s my curse. I see everything.” That’s part of what made Sherlock so successful. He saw things that others didn’t see. Had he been a real person, rather than just a character in a story, his situational awareness would have served him well.

Ask any soldier who has been in war, and they’ll tell you how important situational awareness is. Seeing things that can be a threat, before that threat manifests itself, can be the difference between life and death, especially in the close environment that is urban warfare.

Situational Awareness – The Simple Way To Avoid Being Robbed

But situational awareness goes totally against our nature. We are creatures of habit, and we normally go through life without noticing things around us. Few of us can remember details of what happened in the television shows we watched last night, let alone tell what the person in front of us ordered at our favorite coffee house. Thus, we’ll never be a Sherlock Homes and if we are ever put into a position where seeing is survival … we might not make it home.

 

Developing Situational Awareness

So if situational awareness is so important and is against our nature, how does one acquire it? What can we do, to make ourselves more aware of our surroundings, than we are today?

To start with, we must make a decision to become more aware — not a wishy-washy decision, but a firm one. That, in and of itself, will make a huge difference, simply because we’ll be thinking about the need to be aware. We’ll open our eyes and start looking around us, just because we know that we should.

Still, that isn’t enough. It’s just a start. Building situational awareness requires practice. We’ve got to train our mind to pay attention to what our eyes are seeing. So, we need to develop a series of exercises, which will help us to see. Things like:

  • Make a habit of knowing how many people are within 100 feet of you, where they are and what they are doing.
  • Count the number of cars of a particular color as you drive somewhere.
  • Look at what a co-worker wears to work every day and try to remember it. See how many days’ worth of attire you can recall, and if you can recall the last time they wore a particular shirt or outfit.
  • Learn what cars your neighbors drive. Then, make it a habit to look for new or different cars, every time you step out of your home. Look for patterns, to see if certain cars show up at certain times.

Once you are more aware, it’s time to start putting that awareness to use. Start looking at people to see what they are doing and try to evaluate how much of a threat they are. Use a scale from one to 10, with one being no threat at all and 10 meaning it’s time to draw a gun to protect yourself. Rate each person, even if there are many people around you. Then, keep track of those with a higher score, updating your score as you go.

Ultimately, that’s what situational awareness is all about — finding threats. Once it becomes a habit, it will help you in countless ways.

What advice would you add on becoming more situationally aware? Share your tips in the section below:

 

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How To Heat Your Home With Solar Heating

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 16:15

Solar power is a hot topic these days. With energy costs increasing and expected to keep on increasing, many are seeing solar power as the way to go. While expensive, it’s possible to add solar power to pretty much any home. But adding solar heating isn’t always all that easy, especially when that home wasn’t designed with solar in mind.

When most people talk about solar heated homes, they’re referring to passive solar. In a nutshell, passive solar works by the principle that dark colors absorb light. Since light is energy, the law of the conservation of energy tells us that the light must be converted to some other form of energy. This naturally occurs by converting the sunlight into heat. So, as long as a home is designed with enough windows, a good absorber and sufficient thermal mass, a passive solar heating system will work.

Unfortunately, not all homes lend themselves to passive solar heating. While many can be adapted to receive some benefit from passive solar, there are some with designs or locations that make it cost-prohibitive to modify them for passive solar.

 

Solar Heating

That’s where active solar comes in. Active solar heating works under the same basic principle as passive solar. However, that’s about the end of their similarity. The major difference between the two is that an active solar system has an “active” element, which moves the heat from the collector and absorber to the thermal mass or directly into the home.

Although not as common as passive solar heating systems, designs for active solar systems are literally endless. Some go as far as to have a swimming pool in the basement of the home, to be used as a thermal mass. However, it is possible to design a simple active solar heating system that doesn’t bother with a thermal mass. While this would only provide heating in daylight hours, in many parts of the country, that would be a help.

 

How The System Works

Most homes today have forced-air heating and cooling systems. There is an air handling unit which combines a blower, an evaporator for the air conditioning and either a burner (with natural gas) or an electric heating coil. This unit is the center of the home’s heating and cooling system, and it is controlled by a thermostat.

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To add active solar heating to such a system requires a solar collector, which will heat water from the sun, an additional heating coil to be placed inside the air handling unit and a small circulating pump to move the water between the two.

The solar collector to go on the roof should be as large as you can make it. If you can find a used sliding glass patio door for it, that would be ideal. Make a well-sealed wood box for the collector and use the glass patio door as the cover.

Inside the collector, you need a network of copper pipes to carry the water, as shown in the diagram. The top and bottom pipes can be 1/2 inch in diameter, as they will be functioning as manifolds. The vertical pipes between them should be 1/4 inch in diameter. Make the unit as flat as possible and attach sheet aluminum (aluminum flashing will work) to the back as an additional heat collector. Paint the entire thing black so that it will absorb the most light possible and mount it in the box.

It is important that the box be sealed to prevent moisture from getting into it. Putting some silica desiccant in the box to absorb any moisture at the time of assembly wouldn’t be a bad idea either. The water must enter from the bottom (downhill) of the unit and exit from the top of it.

 

Mounting

The panel needs to be mounted on the roof of the house, pointed south, at the right angle to ensure that it captures the most sunlight this angle is dependent upon the latitude of the home:

  • If the latitude is below 25o, the latitude needs to be multiplied by 0.87.
  • If the latitude is above 25o, the latitude needs to be multiplied by 0.76, plus 3.1 degrees.

The resultant angle is the angle away from directly vertical that the panel should be mounted. The water supply pipes should then be routed to the HVAC air handling unit. Insulate the pipes to ensure that no heat is lost en route.

Okay, that’s the heat collector for your active solar heating system. The next part is creating a way for that heat to get into your home. To do this, we’re going to modify your existing air handling unit.

 

Air Handling Unit

Most air handling units have extra unused space in them. This space is normally there for the addition of more heating coils. Some climates need a lot of heating coils in order to keep a home warm; but in most cases, they aren’t all installed. We can easily utilize that space for the active solar heating coil.

Just like the solar collector on the roof, the heat coil to go inside your air handling unit needs to be made of copper pipe or aluminum. Those are the two best thermal conductors there are, besides silver. Since silver would be a bit expensive, we’ll stick with copper and aluminum.

 

Coils

One option is to make your own coil, just as you did for the solar collector on the roof. However, there is a better alternative, which will provide better heat transfer and less fabrication. That is to use the radiator from a car. You should be able to find a radiator in a junkyard which will fit in your air handling unit.

Besides the time it will save you, the other advantage that an automotive radiator gives you is that the fins on the tubes greatly increase the radiator’s heat transfer ability. Make sure that the radiator is mounted and plumbed in a way to have the water enter the radiator from the bottom and exit it from the top. That way, there won’t be any air bubbles in it.

For the system to work properly, it needs to be totally filled with water. To facilitate this, a small tank should be mounted with the solar collector on the roof. This tank can be used as a fill point, as well as providing a buffer for expansion. As the water will expand when it heats, having a small amount of air in this tank provides the necessary expansion space, so that pressure doesn’t build in the system.

 

Thermostat

For simplicity sake, you can use this system without a thermostat. Simply set your regular thermostat a degree or two cooler than you would like your home and leave the fan (blower) on full-time. That allows the solar system to heat your home, leaving the normal heat system as a backup.

Another option is to install a second thermostat to operate the solar heating. This one would turn the pump on and off, as well as turning the blower on and off. The advantage of this is that you won’t overheat your home or have to turn the fan off because your home is overheating. By using two thermostats, you would still have the capability to have the normal heat coils work as a backup to the solar heating, as well as keeping your home warm at night, when the solar heating won’t be working.

 

Adding A Thermal Mass

The system can be improved upon by adding a thermal mass. This is essentially a battery for storing the heat that is gathered by the solar collector. For active solar heating systems, the thermal mass is usually an insulated water tank. Two separate water loops are established. The first one goes from the solar collector to the tank, heating the water in the tank. The second one goes from the tank to the air handling unit, providing heating to the home. Each loop will need its own circulating pump.

While this type of system is more complicated to build, it does have the advantage of providing heat 24 hours per day, assuming the thermal mass is large enough. In either case, the normal heating coils are still left in place as a backup, in case of extensive cloud cover or other weather problems which would prevent the active solar heating system from working.

 

The post How To Heat Your Home With Solar Heating appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The 5 Worst Mistakes Gun Owners Make

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 16:00

Mistakes Gun Owners Make

Gun ownership is a fundamental civil liberty, but just like all rights, it requires responsibility.

Here are five mistakes that some gun owners make, and how you can avoid them:

 

Mistakes Gun Owners Make 1. Poor Storage Choices

Don’t store your weapons out in the open, where children have access to them, or where burglars in a potential break-in could easily find them. Keeping your guns locked in a safe or high in the closet are better locations. Of course, keeping them in easy-to-access areas for emergencies will require you to be a little more creative to keep them out of the reach of children. Also, it is crucial that you store your guns in the “safe” position, especially if you have children. Yes, they are in a safe, but it is always best to limit liabilities when possible. If you have trigger or bolt locks, then use them.

 

2. Not Being Proficient

What good is owning a gun if you aren’t proficient with it? Granted, some gun owners are gun collectors and just enjoy collecting firearms as a hobby, but for the gun owner who buys firearms for hunting, personal home protection, or for using during a crisis, becoming proficient with the weapon is more important than owning the gun just so you can say you own it.

You should be able to shoot your weapon accurately, reload it, clear a jam, and holster or sling it aside based on muscle memory. That means shooting at least a thousand rounds on the range and performing a thousand repetitions reloading and clearing a jam (which you can use fake ammo for). Practice, practice, practice.

 

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3. Lack Of Education 

One of the biggest mistakes gun owners make is not educating themselves or their household. When you buy a firearm, or if you own any existing ones, educate everyone in your household about them. Your children should know that guns are not toys and should learn to respect them. Teach your children proper trigger discipline, such as indexing, and teach them how to check the safety and if the weapon is chambered or loaded. Keep in mind that children who are uneducated about guns are more likely to try to find them based purely on curiosity. Everyone in your household should be familiar with the weapons in your home, have experience with them on the range, know proper gun safety, and learn to respect them.

 

4. Wrong Ammunition Size

For inexperienced gun owners, it can be easy to confuse some calibers and buy the wrong ammunition. For example, the 5.56x45mm NATO and .223 Remington rounds chambered for ARs and Mini-14s are easily confused. 5.56x45mm can typically chamber .223, but .223 cannot chamber 5.56. Some ARs and Mini-14s are chambered for 5.56, and can thus also shoot .223. But other ARs and Mini-14s are chambered for .223, and thus cannot shoot 5.56. Nonetheless, some gun owners will still confuse the two and buy 5.56 ammo for their gun that clearly says it is chambered for .223. Even more easy to confuse are the vastly different kinds of .45 (.45 ACP, .45 LC, .45 GAP, etc) or .38 (.38 LC, .38 Special, etc.) for example. Loading guns with the incorrect caliber can severely damage your gun and is a safety hazard.

 

5. Failure To Register Guns

Gun registration is something that many if not most gun owners do not support, and there are many valid arguments that gun registration violates the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. No one wants to have their name and personal information logged into a database, but if you fail to abide by the laws of your state or city and get caught by law enforcement, you could have all of your firearms confiscated, not to mention face severe fines or jail time.

What are other common mistakes gun owners make? Share your opinion in the section below:

 

 

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Off-Grid Medicine Kit – How To Make Your Own Tea Tree Oil

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 16:00

Tea tree oil is the one essential oil you don’t want to be without.

Tea tree oil is both nature’s antibiotic and disinfectant. The list of medical uses for this essential oil is nearly endless. A homesteading, off-the-grid, or prepping family should keep at least 24 bottles of essential oil on hand for every three members of the family or group. Tea tree oil is a must for every bug out bag and first aid kit.

 

Making vs. Buying

Melaleuca alternifolia trees (a.k.a. “tea trees”) grow mostly in Australia, which limits access to raw leaves for many. Fortunately, you can also buy the leaves wholesale. Either way, the steam distillation process must be used to create this essential oil.  The essential oil contains 48 natural compounds and no one can reproduce it synthetically. Effective grades of tea tree oil can typically be purchased for around $5 to $7 per bottle, either online or at a local store.

 

How to Make Tea Tree Oil

If you have a source of leaves, use the following directions to make the oil.

  1. Place tea tree leaves in a pot and pour in only enough water to cover the leaves. Put a vegetable steamer into the pot over the top of the leaves and water.
  2. Place a measuring cup inside the vegetable steamer.
  3. Place the lid on the pot upside down so that the handle nub in the center is pointing towards the measuring cup.
  4. Turn the stove on high to boil the water and steam the leaves. The water will soon begin to condense and evaporate. The condensation will slide towards the handle and into the measuring cup.
  5. Put about four ice cubs on top of the upside-down pot lid to hasten the steam condensation.
  6. Once all the ice had melted, turn off the stove burner.
  7. Take off the lid and pour the ice cube water into the sink. Remove the glass measuring cup next – use pot-holders when completing both of these steps.
  8. Pour the measuring cup contents into a separating funnel. The stopcock at the bottom of the funnel must be closed. Close the top of the funnel and shake vigorously.
  9. Invert the funnel and then open to release pressure. The oil will float to the top of the water, effectively separating the two substances.
  10. Place a glass bottle beneath the stopcock and release the water. Pour the tea tree oil into a different glass bottle, preferably one dark in color.
  11. Repeat the same process up to three more times to pull more oil from the same tea-tree leaves.

 

Tea Tree Best Uses

Acne, Carbuncles, and Canker Sores, Chigger Bites, and Cold Sores: Mix between 20 to 40 drops of tea tree oil to your current face wash and use as a cleanser and toner to clear up acne. For carbuncles, chigger bites, cold sores, canker sores, and pimples, dab one or two drops of the essential oil directly onto the sore.

Minor Cuts and Scrapes: Clean the area well with water and then apply several drops of tea tree oil directly onto the cut. Depending upon the size or depth of the wound, there may be a slight stinging sensation, but not any worse than when using peroxide.

 

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Tea Tree For Arthritis 

Arthritis: Tea-tree oil is perhaps the best way to alleviate the pain and swelling associated with arthritis and carpel tunnel. Massaging the oil directly onto the area of pain two to three times per day often reduces inflammation and discomfort. Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with two ounces of a carrier oil, and store inside a tightly closed bottle in a cool and dark space for use as needed.

Allergies: Massage either undiluted or carrier oil diluted tea-tree oil onto the soles of the feet, abdomen, and/or chest to alleviate allergy symptoms. One undiluted drop on each foot enough oil to typically help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Mix two drops of oil with one to two drops of carrier oil when massaged on the chest or abdomen area.

Asthma: Pour two to three drops of carrier oil into a small to a medium-sized saucepan and fill with water. Heat the mixture on the stove for several minutes – do not bring to a boil. As the oil and water begins to cool, place a towel over the patient’s head and breath in the oil and water mixture for several minutes.

Athletes Foot: Remedy athletes foot by applying a mixture of tea-tree oil, a carrier oil, and cornstarch on clean dry feet once every two weeks. Mix one tablespoon of carrier oil with 10 drops of tea tree oil together and massage on feet and especially between the toes. Once the oil mixture air dries, make sure that you dust with cornstarch until your feet are covered. Allow the cornstarch to remain on the feet inside socks overnight, or apply in the morning and simply pull on a fresh pair of socks and head out the door to do chores or go to work.

 

Beat Bacterial With Tea Tree Oil

Bacterial Infections: Tea tree oil can be used to fight bacterial infections in several ways. The oil (either in undiluted form or mixed with a carrier oil) can be applied directly to reflex points of the feet. Several drops in the bath water can also help heal bacterial infections. The same mixture which is applied to the feet can also be carefully applied directly onto the infected area. Use a Q-Tip, clean cotton cloth, or spray bottle when putting the oil mixture onto the bacterial infection.

Bladder Infection: Pour approximately 10 to 15 drops of tea tree oil into a shallow bath and carefully wash the area. Dilute with a small amount of water if necessary. Skin irritation is a concern.

Blisters: After washing the blister carefully, follow the tea-tree oil cuts and scrapes remedy instructions further below.

Boils: Hold a very warm cloth on the boil for several minutes and then apply two drops of tea-tree oil to the area. The infection housed inside the boil should come to a head and be ready for easy release after one or two treatments.

Bruises: Apply ice or cold water to the bruise, pat dry, and then follow the arthritis relief directions above.

 

Bronchitis Blaster

Bronchitis and Bronchial Congestion: For congestion, mix between five to 10 drops of tea tree oil with one ounce of a carrier oil and massage it onto your throat and chest three times per day. For bronchitis, pour two drops of the essential oil into a pot of hot water and breathe in the steam.  Then, you can massage the congestion mix onto your chest and throat in conjunction with the pot breathing treatment.

Burns: Pour very cold water onto the burn area and allow to air dry. Mix five drops of tea tree oil with one teaspoon of raw honey and drop onto the burn area three to five times per day.

Bunions, Corns, and Calluses: Mix one tablespoon of a carrier oil with five drops of tea-tree oil and massage onto bunions several times per day.

Chicken Pox:  Apply one drop of tea tree oil directly onto each blister and allow to dry. Once dry, dust with cornstarch. Repeat this process every few hours or at least twice each day, until the chicken pox blisters disappear. Tea tree oil may also help reduce or eliminate scarring.

Coughs: Follow the bronchial congestion and bronchitis directions above. You may also pour 10 drops of tea tree oil into the steamer compartment of a vaporizer and use for 10 minutes, several times daily, to relieve a cough.

 

Dandruff And Dry Skin

Dandruff: Mix 25 drops of the essential oil into any shampoo and use regularly to cure and prevent dandruff. To ease itching from a current dandruff issue, massage two drops of undiluted tea-tree oil or two drops of oil mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil mix directly onto the scalp.

Dry Skin: Mix together one tablespoon of sweet almond oil with five drops of tea-tree oil and massage onto dry skin as needed.

Dermatitis: Mix one tablespoon of a carrier oil with 10 drops of tea tree oil and massage onto the affected region. You can repeat this process up to three times per day.

Earache: Mix two tablespoons of warm olive oil with two to three drops of tea tree oil and place a small amount into the ear with a dropper. Use a Q-Tip to absorb oil from the infected ear after several minutes. Repeat up to three times daily until the earache subsides.

Tea tree oil leaves.

Eczema: Mix one tablespoon of either coconut oil or grapeseed oil with 10 drops of tea tree oil and massage onto affected area up to three times per day.

 

Tea Tree Oil Fights Fungus

Fingernail and Toenail Fungus: Use a cotton cloth or Q-Tip to massage one to two drops of the essential oil onto the nail and surrounding skin. Allow the oil to dry completely before using the hands or feet. You can repeat this process twice a day until the nail fungus is gone. And, you can also use this same process to eliminate plantar warts.

Household Pests: Reduce the spread of disease caused by common household pests with tea-tree oil. Several drops of undiluted oil at areas where pests such as ants, mice, and bugs have been spotted will deter future entry. Clean cabinets or shelves with an equal part tea-tree oil and water mixture to deter mice and bugs from visiting your food stores.

Mouthwash: There is no need to run to the local chain store to cure bad breath. This mouthwash also helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Simply mix one drop of tea tree oil with one ounce of water and shake. Gargle with the mixture only – do not swallow.

Mosquito Bites and Bee/Wasp Stings: Apply one drop of tea tree oil directly onto the area of the bite or sting. Dilute with a half teaspoon of carrier oil if skin irritation is a concern. Experts always recommend diluted essential oils for young children and pets.

 

Soak Away Pain With Tea Tree Oil

Muscle Pain and Muscle Aches: Mix a half of a cup of Epsom salts with 12 to 15 drops of tea tree oil and dissolve into bath water. To massage sore muscles, mix 10 drops of the essential oil with two tablespoons of a carrier oil and use as needed. The mixture will keep for at least six months when stored in a dark glass container in a cool and dry space.

Mumps: Follow chicken pox directions and diffuse throughout the home to alleviate symptoms. You can massage the muscle pain mixture directly onto your feet to help reduce mump symptoms.

Psoriasis: Mix one tablespoon of a carrier oil with 10 drops of the essential oil and massage onto the affected region. Repeat this process up to three times per day until symptoms subside. You can also use undiluted oil to fight psoriasis if skin irritation is not a concern.

Rheumatism: Reduce the swelling and pain associated with rheumatism by mixing two tablespoons of a carrier oil with 20 drops of tea tree oil. Massage the mixture onto the affected area up to three times per day.

Ringworm: Mix one drop of lavender oil with one drop of tea tree oil and gently rub onto the ringworm spot. Undiluted tea-tree oil is also very effective in removing ringworm but may irritate sensitive skin when used several times a day for an entire week.

Skin Rashes, Scabies, and Rubella: Mix equal parts coconut oil and tea tree oil and gently rub on skin rashes.

 

Tea Tree Warnings

The essential oil is widely regarded to be safe, gentle on the skin, and has few side effects when used correctly. Do not swallow tea-tree oil. 1,8-cinelole, a substance that is known to irritate the skin of some users, is present in various quantities of tea-tree oil. I have recommended and handed out the oil to a multitude of friends and acquaintances, and none have ever reported anything but positive results without any side effects.

Essential oils that are not diluted should not be for folks with sensitive skin. You can also use carrier oils to dilute essential oils without reducing the effectiveness of the natural medication. When fixing up home remedies for our dogs, I use only 1 drop of tea tree oil per every five pounds of the dog’s weight. Some pets do have a negative reaction to the oil, so use sparingly and adjust amounts as necessary.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction or tea-tree oil poisoning include loss of muscle control in the legs and arms, disorientation, drowsiness, and rash.

 

The post Off-Grid Medicine Kit – How To Make Your Own Tea Tree Oil appeared first on Off The Grid News.

7 Important Steps To Prepare Your Chickens For Fall And Winter

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 15:00

Prepare your chickens for colder temperatures

This time of year it is important to begin preparing your chickens and your coop for colder weather.  In the Midwest, the popularity of winter-hardy breeds, is quite high. If you don’t keep them warm enough and well-fed, however, there’s a good chance that their egg production will drop off or stop altogether. By taking steps to winterize your coop before winter sets in, you can easily keep your chickens happy, healthy, and laying.

 

Winterizing The Coop

In every survival situation, finding good shelter is paramount, for both humans and animals, including chickens. Illness or death resulting from exposure is perhaps winter’s greatest threat to a flock’s well-being. Preparing your chicken coop for the cold months ahead is one of the most important steps toward keeping the birds happy, warm and healthy. It’s important to provide a clean, warm and draft-free environment for your chickens to winter in.

 

Clean, Clean, Clean

A bit of fall cleaning will go a long way towards preparing the coop for winter. Take out all perches, dishes, removable nest boxes, and other accessories, and spend some time giving everything a good scrub. Use scrubbers and scrapers to get off all those stuck-on droppings and thoroughly wash everything with a commercial cleaner or a simple vinegar-water solution. Now is also a great time to inspect everything: are there any cracks in the dishes, or are the perches too worn down? Replace anything that’s in poor shape, and leave the rest out in the sun to dry.

 

Fortify

Before returning the perches and everything else to their place in the coop, take advantage of the extra space to perform a thorough inspection. The coop’s integrity will make all the difference in the cold months ahead.

While maintaining airflow is just as important in winter as it is in the summer, too much can allow drafts in the coop. To little airflow, however, or poor control of water leaks, can cause the humidity to rise, which could make your coop a breeding ground for parasites and disease. You want your coop to maintain a comfortable 40 to 60 percent humidity. During the winter, it isn’t just the weather that threatens your chickens; it is also the cold, hungry predators that may be bolder in their search for an easy meal when resources become scarce.

Some things to look out for during your coop inspection:

  • Make sure the coop doors, hatches, and other openings are hinged correctly and can shut tight.
  • Look for signs of leaking water, and make sure the roof is watertight. Replace the roofing if necessary.
  • Watch out for openings, cracks, holes, and anything else that could let in a draft. Some hatches and vents might need to be sealed shut for the winter.
  • Look out for signs of predators, and fortify any weak spots that you notice.
  • If you have electricity running to the coop, inspect all wires, hardware, and outlets for frays or other damage.
  • Check on the coop’s bedding. Are there any signs of mice or other rodents? Is the bedding clean enough to be top-dressed, or will it need replacing?

 

Bedding

Most flock owners find that it isn’t necessary to completely clean out and replace the coop bedding in the fall. In fact, the presence of manure and decomposing bedding creates heat and can actually help keep the coop warmer. If you do decide to replace the bedding, don’t worry – there will be plenty of time for manure to build up throughout the winter.

You don’t have to switch to a new kind of bedding for winter. The following make perfect bedding all year-round:

  • Straw: Straw is easy to come by and works great on its own or mixed with other bedding types.
  • Wood shavings: Aspen, pine, and other shavings are widely available, can keep the stench and bugs down, and make for great insulation. Just make sure the shavings are chicken-friendly.
  • Shredded paper: It compresses and decomposes too quickly to be used exclusively as bedding. Shredded paper makes a great lining for nest boxes, adds extra insulation, decomposes just fine, and is often free (newspaper is best – avoid bleached, colored, or glossy paper).

 

Heaters

In the Midwest, Northeast, and other regions where winter temperatures regularly drop into the single digits or below zero, it’s a good idea to provide a source of heat in the coop. Extra heating is also important if you have cold-sensitive chicken breeds or large single-combed roosters, which are prone to frostbite. There are several ways to provide electrical heat to your chickens, including radiant heaters and heat lamps. If your coop is well insulated, it won’t take much to provide extra warmth. One 100W bulb usually does the trick. Whichever heat source you decide to use, make sure the wires are out of the birds’ reach and keep an eye out for signs of wear or damage. Heating panels or lamps should be kept in a corner to allow the chickens to escape the heat if they need to.

 

Nutrition

Staying warm takes a great deal of energy, so it’s important that chickens are kept well fed both before and during the winter. You can expect their caloric needs to increase by 10 percent or more in cold weather. As with the rest of the year, make sure your chickens have constant access to a quality chicken feed. To help keep them laying and help make them more able to handle the stresses of dropping temperatures, you can also add some extras to their diet. Feeding a little extra corn is often recommended, as is high-quality pecking foods like forage cakes. To help the birds bulk up a bit, you can also occasionally feed warm oatmeal. Many chicken owners also provide greens such as alfalfa, wheat grass, and lettuce. This can help keep the chickens happy and nourished until spring arrives and the birds can forage again.

 

Water

Chickens need constant access to clean water in the winter just as they do in the summer. If winter temperatures drop well below freezing and you dread trekking out to the coop to break ice first thing in the morning, consider investing in a simple water heater. The birds seem to enjoy the warm water, and you can have the peace of mind knowing that ice won’t be a problem. Like any electrical heat source, keep wires away from the birds, and periodically check for signs of damage.

As you prepare for winter, especially if this is your first winter with chickens, remember to relax! Chickens are surprisingly adaptable birds, and it’s fun to watch how well they handle winter’s chill.

References

https://www.hobbyfarms.com/chickens-magazine/online-exclusives/fall-2011-exclusives/chicken-winter-chores.aspx

https://www.backyardchickens.com/products/category/chicken-breeds?593%5B0%5D=Cold

https://www.thegardencoop.com/blog/2010/11/18/winter-chicken-coop-care-p4/#more-1204

https://www.examiner.com/article/winterizing-your-chickens-for-the-cold-winter-months

 

The post 7 Important Steps To Prepare Your Chickens For Fall And Winter appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Garlic Planting Secrets Of Fall Gardeners

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 12:00

It is best to plant garlic in the fall

Have you ever thought about planting garlic bulbs during fall? Garlic grown in late autumn tends to be bigger, tastier and just plain better, probably because the roots have all winter to get established before the heat of summer sets in.

 

Time To Plant Garlic

Plant garlic two to three weeks after the first frost in autumn, but before winter arrives in earnest. This way, the garlic has time to develop roots – but not shoots — before temperatures get seriously cold. Garlic can tolerate severe cold, but too much top growth can put the plants in jeopardy. On the other hand, if you wait too long, the cloves won’t have time to produce a few healthy roots. If you live in a mild climate, you can wait until the end of the year.

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Now that we’ve determined the best planting time, here’s everything you need to know, step by step.

 

Choosing The Garlic Bulb 

Purchase clean, firm garlic bulbs and plant them. It’s best not to use bulbs from the grocery store, which are treated with substances that prevent sprouting and make them last longer in your refrigerator.

 

Location

Prepare a sunny spot in your garden by digging in an inch or two of organic matter such as decomposed manure or compost. Avoid soggy spots; garlic requires well-drained soil.

 

Prepare Your Garlic Cloves

Planting Garlic

Break the cloves apart, but leave the papery outer skins intact. Plant good-sized, plump bulbs and discard the tiny ones, or toss them in a pot of soup or pasta sauce.

 

Properly Planting Garlic

Plant the garlic cloves upright, with the wide sides down. The cloves should be about 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep.

Work 1 to 2 teaspoons of organic general purpose or high-nitrogen fertilizer into the soil around the garlic. Alternatively, apply blood meal according to label recommendations.

Water well immediately after applying fertilizer.

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Once the garlic is planted, you may want to surround the area with stakes or rocks; otherwise, you may forget they’re there.

 

Maintaining Your Garlic Bed

Mulch the garlic bed with 4 to 6 inches of mulch if you live in a cold climate, or just lightly if winters are mild. Straw works well because it allows the soil to breath, but skip mulch altogether if you live in a rainy climate, as the cloves are likely to rot in soggy soil.

 

Harvesting Your Garlic

Remove the mulch in early summer when the plants are no longer producing new leaves. Stop watering and let the soil dry for a few weeks. At this point, dry soil won’t hurt the garlic, but the bulbs will keep longer in storage.

Lift the garlic with a garden fork or spade when the tops begin to die back and turn yellow – usually mid-to-late summer. Don’t wait too long, or the papery covering will break down and the garlic won’t keep as long.

When you plant garlic this fall, plant a lot of it. The garlic lovers in your family will thank you.

Have you ever planted garlic during fall? What are your best tips? Share them in the section below:

 

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Thu, 10/10/2019 - 05:53

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Kitchen Herbs To Keep You Healthy During The Cold Season

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 16:30

Kitchen Herbs To Keep You Healthy During The Cold Season

Cold season is in full swing. Try as we might, all that hand washing only goes so far at school and work. Healthy eating and smart prevention will make a big difference with cold season. But viruses will always be lurking and waiting.

Instead of suffering through nights of coughing and congestion, put those herbs in the cupboard to work for you. They’re great dried, distilled as essential oils, and many can be easily grown indoors. They provide a fresh supply of medicinal benefits throughout winter. However you stock your kitchen, try putting a few of these to the test. You’re sure to find that your cupboards offer relief that will put that medicine cabinet to shame.

 

Expectorants

Heavy congestion can lead to phlegm accumulating in the throat and lungs. All this mucus can lead to problems if it sticks around too long. So a productive cough is actually an important part in getting over colds. Expectorants help to loosen mucus which makes our coughs more effective, and in shorter periods of time. Herbs like thyme, garlic, juniper berry, licorice root and mullein can all be used to make a tea that will help the body bring up phlegm while offering additional cold-fighting benefits.

 

Antivirals

Cold and flu are the result of a viral infection rather than a bacterial infection. So antibiotics won’t do a bit of good against their common symptoms. The only way to get over a virus is to give your body the tools it needs to tend to damage control while you wait it out.

 

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While antibiotics can’t help, antivirals can interfere with viral activity and boost immunity to help put a halt to invasion. Both licorice root and black elderberry possess amazing properties that can be received by making teas and homemade “syrups.”

 

Decongestants

Congestion within the chest and nasal passages can be a thing of the past with some basic herbal decongestants. Peppermint may be a nuisance when it comes to taking over the yard. But it’s worth the frustrations come cold season. In its essential oil form, this herb makes a powerful chest rub that can keep nasal passages clear all night long. Peppermint also offers lightning-fast sinus relief as steam inhalation or tea. For kids or adults interested in the above, make a sachet with freshly chopped leaves that can be put under their pillow to help clear stuffy noses as they sleep.

Kitchen Herbs To Keep You Healthy During The Cold Season

Anyone who has ever eaten spicy food knows the runny nose and flush of heat that comes with eating spicy peppers like cayenne. These side-effects can get uncomfortable, but this spice comes with big benefits. It’s a natural antibacterial that provokes sweating and circulation and offers immediate relief of sinus congestion thanks to the compound capsaicin. One teaspoon in a cup of hot water will have your nose clear in no time, but those wary of spice can dilute this as needed.

Cayenne also can be taken in capsule form to receive these benefits, but congestion relief will take more time. Whatever form you choose, make sure you eat something beforehand to avoid the pains this spice puts upon empty stomachs.

 

Demulcents

When it comes to raw and scratchy throats, herbal demulcents are your best friend. A demulcent is a plant rich in the slippery compound mucilage. This protective mucilaginous coating forms a soothing layer over the throat that can ease the pains and occurrence of coughing. Herbs like marshmallow root and plantain are high in mucilage and worthy of keeping on hand all winter, as are fellow herbal expectorants mullein and licorice root. Make your own herbal cough syrup or pair an herb with the soothing powers of raw honey to make a tea that will ease raw throats while combating chills with its warming heat.

 

Vitamins

Sickness is a sure sign that our immune system is in need of help. Vitamins A, C, D E and B6 build and support the immune system, so now is the time for fruits, vegetables and good supplements. If you have access to a local co-op or an online food supplier, then look into the vitamin-rich superfoods of South America like dragon fruit, soursop, and the rightly famous acai berry. Foods like these will give you an array of important vitamins in the form of clean energy, and without putting any unnecessary stress on your healing body.

What are your favorite herbs for the cold season? Share your tips in the section below: 

 

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4 Deadly (And Easy-To-Make) Self-Defense Weapons

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 15:45

Homemade Melee Weapons

Guns have been referred to as “the great equalizer,” and there’s no weapon which can come close to them in that regard. A lot of the popularity of firearms is due to the fact that anyone can use them effectively, not only the strong and agile. The young, the old, men, women and child can take up firearms in defense of home and family and do so effectively.

But what do you do if you can’t use a gun – or if you don’t have a gun — to protect yourself?

It only makes sense to have a backup plan. That way, in the case that a firearm malfunctions, you run out of ammunition or somehow get separated from your weapons, you still have a way of defending yourself and your family.

 

Common Alternate Weapons

When people think of alternate weapons, they either think of non-lethal weapons or they think of two of the most common weapons in history. Those are the knife and the bow. Both are excellent weapons, but they have one drawback as a secondary weapon: They require extensive training to use effectively. Unless you are willing and able to spend the necessary time to become proficient with them, owning those weapons really isn’t much of a benefit.

The non-lethal weapons, such as a taser and pepper spray, don’t require much in the way of training, but are extremely limited in range. This makes them a poor choice for more than avoiding a mugger or rapist. Even then, I’m not all that sure how effective they would be, unless you were able to catch the assailant off-guard and use them. They would not be effective in a situation where there was a breakdown of society and you had to defend your home.

 

Introducing Melee Weapons

Melee weapons are weapons created for the purpose of use in a melee. According to Dictionary.com, a melee is “a confused hand-to-hand fight among several people.”

There are two basic problems with being caught in hand-to-hand combat. First of all, the person who has practiced with his or her weapon has a distinct advantage. Second, the advantage always goes to those who are stronger and have a longer reach. That makes hand-to-hand combat a bad place to find yourself, especially if you don’t have an equalizer with you.

 

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Berserker Weapons – a Sub-Category of Melee Weapons

Criminals use their weapons primarily to intimidate. That’s why many use a knife. They aren’t expert knife fighters, nor do they really want to gut you like a fish, regardless of what they say. They want to scare you with that knife. Even so, they aren’t really all that concerned about hurting you. So, the worst thing you can do is meet them without a weapon or with a knife, giving them the advantage.

Okay, so what do you use? That’s where the weapons below come in. These melee weapons could also be referred to as berserker weapons, because they are the type of weapons that you just go berserk with. While training would help, the main idea is to just beat on them with the weapons. Violence, not training, gives you the advantage.

 

Making Simple Melee Weapons

What’s the advantage of these weapons? Simple: It’s reach. If a criminal is coming at you with a knife in his hand, the reach is limited to the length of his arm. On the other hand, if you are holding a weapon that’s two or three feet long, you’ve got a longer reach than they do, even if your arms are shorter. So, when it comes down to it, you’ve got the advantage.

 

1. The Quarterstaff

The quarterstaff is just a wood pole. Perhaps it is easiest to think of it as a long walking stick. Originally, they ran from six- to nine-feet long; but in reality, it’s hard to work with one that’s more than six-feet long. You’re likely to spend more time hitting the ground than you are your assailant.

Simple Homemade Melee Weapons

In the Middle Ages, when one wanted a quarter staff, they simply cut off an appropriate tree branch or sapling, about two to three inches in diameter. It should be fairly stiff wood, but lightweight. The biggest trick is finding a long-enough branch that is straight. I tried a willow branch and it was too flexible. Then I tried an oak branch and it looked like a crooked finger. The best I did was to improvise one by grabbing a closet rod. This works if you have wood closet rods. The metal ones have built-in hangers on the ends, so they are a bit awkward as a quarterstaff.

In use, the quarterstaff is held in both hands, dividing the staff in three sections. The middle section is used for blocking and both of the ends can be used for striking. A sweeping blow from a quarterstaff carries enough force to cause considerable pain or even knock an opponent unconscious. An assailant with a knife doesn’t stand a chance.

 

2. The Axe

Although not something you normally make yourself, the axe is a natural berserker-style melee weapon, especially the axes they had in olden times. Modern axes aren’t quite as good, because the blade is extremely short, but axes in olden times had a much longer blade.

A warrior armed with an axe could put fear into the heart of an experienced swordsman. That’s because there is no art or science in swinging an axe. More than anything, the axe is held in two hands and swung with pure wild abandon. This makes the axe-wielding warrior unpredictable; therefore, it’s hard to counter in battle. The longer the handle on the axe and the heavier the head, the more that damage can be inflicted.

If you want to use an axe as a weapon, I’d recommend buying a double-bitted axe. A standard woodcutting axe has two things against it. First of all, the head is off-balance, with almost all the weight to one side. That will tend to make that side turn downward, rather than being naturally pointed at the enemy. Secondly, the handle is curved, which is great when you’re cutting a tree, but horrible when you’re using it as a weapon.

The modern incarnation of the tomahawk really isn’t at all like an axe. First of all, it’s mostly intended to be a throwing weapon. But even when used in the hand, it is a single-handed weapon for striking; you really can’t go crazy with one, like you can with an axe.

 

3. Spear

The spear is another very simple weapon. Spears have evolved throughout the history of warfare, being one of the first actual manufactured melee weapons. Those early spears were about four to five feet long and hard wood points. American Indians chipped stone points for their spears, and the Europeans made metal points for them, once they learned how to work metal. In the later Middle Ages, spears became much longer, as they were intended to be used against men on horseback.

For a melee weapon, a four- to five-foot long spear works well. You can make one easily by taking a knife blade (with the handle removed) and inserting it in a slot cut into the end of your spear shaft. Binding the blade in place with strong cord, strapping or duct tape would finish off the spear. Not fancy, but functional.

It is easy to make your own spear point by grinding a piece of metal, much as I explained in the article on how to make your own knives. As an alternate plan, you could grind a spear point from a piece of 1/8-inch thick steel strap. The edges don’t have to be as sharp as they are for a knife, since spear is mostly a piercing weapon.

 

4. Spiked Club

Man’s oldest melee weapons were the rock and the stick. The stick gave the advantage of reach over the rock held in the hand, but in turn the rock could be thrown, giving an even greater reach. Many of our weapons can trace their roots all the way back to those two basic weapons — none more obviously than the club.

A club is merely a heavy stick. Weight is important, especially at the striking end of the stick. The weight improves the velocity and force of the impact. Another thing that helps a lot is to put spikes on the business end of the club. Then, not only does the club provide blunt-force trauma, but also piercing trauma when it strikes.

All you have to do to make a spiked club is find an appropriate piece of tree branch for the club itself. This may require a little bit of whittling on the handle end, to make it thin enough to get a good grip on. You can then hammer nails into the striking end of the club for spikes. Cut off the heads of the nails and then grind points on them to complete the spikes.

Don’t worry about making your spiked club pretty; generally speaking, the uglier they are, the better they work. Oh, and, the easiest way to grind points on your spikes is to grind their ends at an angle, rather than trying to grind them to a conical point.

What is your favorite alternative weapon? Share your tips in the section below:

 

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How to Inspect the Being-in-use Cars Before Purchase

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 15:41

The question of how to examine a car before purchasing is still relevant for many drivers. If you have decided to buy a car, but you don’t have enough money for a new one, then to find a being-in-use car is the best choice. In order to avoid possible problems after the purchase, you need to inspect it before the transaction, both technically and legally. What should be primarily considered — read below in the article.

Three main steps to take before buying:

1)Clarify the legal status of the car;
2)Inspect its history;
3)Make sure of its good technical condition.

Let’s consider each stage in detail.

Legal Status

Before buying, an auto is inspected and verified by the VIN and engine numbers. Today there are quite a lot of online services where you will be provided with info whether a particular car got into an accident or other unpleasant situations. Find out all the information about the car you are going to buy by visiting FAX-VIN official website.

Vehicle History

If it was purchased from an authorized dealer, then this is the most transparent story. It is enough to visit an authorized station where the car was serviced, and you will be provided with full-service history by a certificate of vehicle registration. You can also get info from car manufacturers, for instance BMW, by contacting any service center, even if the car was not purchased in the US.

Technical Condition

First of all, you have to check up on the car with a colleague or expert. Pay your major attention to the following criteria:
● the presence of a breakdown\rust on all external parts;
● the operation of the equipment;
● the oil leakage in the motorized compartment;
● the paint thickness;
● computer diagnostics of the engine and its systems, etc.

Considering a potential auto, start with the exterior. Why is it vital? Well, it shows whether the auto got into an accident and had removable spare parts. The engine is indeed the most expensive part of the auto. In the world-class industry, the engine is not the most expensive part of the auto, but it is the most complex and expensive for repair. There are two main stages of the diagnostics: visual and computer ones.

You have to carefully inspect the engine and the related equipment. An experienced driver will establish the overall state of the vehicle. Neither on the cylinders nor the internal panels of the engine compartment should be any oil or other liquids’ leakage.

Conclusion

To fully define the state of the vehicle — have a test drive. It will help you to evaluate how the car is driven and whether it suits your expectations. All the “other diagnostics” must be carried out by professionals.

What was your story of buying a used car? Tell us about the outcomes of the deal in comments.

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8 Overlooked Survival Skills That Kept The Native Americans Alive

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 16:00

Native Americans

I have a lot of respect for Native Americans — those who populated this land before the first European white man set foot on these shores.

History rarely mentions it, but countless thousands of those Indians were killed by disease and carried in the boats of those early traders. But before that, the American Indian had a thriving culture, in tune with nature and appreciative of the beauty around them.

Of all the cultures referred to as “primitive” by supposedly civilized society, this is the culture we know the most about. Yet at the same time, we know very little about them. Sadly, history and Hollywood has not treated the Native Americans fairly, portraying them as a barbaric culture, mostly responsible for attacking white settlers and committing atrocities on them.

There are probably countless things about survival that we can learn from the American Indians. Here are several:

 

1. Nature Has Everything You Need

The Indians had to get everything they needed from nature, and they did. Whether it was flint to start a fire or animal skins to make clothes, they found everything they needed in the world around them. Few of us would be able to survive if we were just dumped in the wilderness with nothing. But for the Indians, that was just everyday life.

It is important to note here that the Indians were satisfied with what nature provided. While many Indian cultures used gold and silver, they were not seeking to amass wealth to themselves. They were satisfied with the lives they had, and not wanting anything more.

 

2. Fathers, Teach Your Children

Survival was an all-encompassing task for the Indian. One of a father’s responsibilities was to teach his sons how to survive. There wasn’t a school to which they could send their children; they had to teach them on their own. If a father was negligent in teaching his son, the son would most likely die.

The number of skills the average American Indian needed to learn was actually rather extensive. Since they had no trade centers as we know the term (although they did have trade), they had to make everything they needed. An Indian who needed a canoe had to know how to build it himself. Same for his bow, his arrows and his knife.

Native Americans

If you and I don’t teach our children the survival skills we are learning, we are preparing them for failure. You won’t be there forever to protect them. At some point in time, they will have to make it on their own. That will be the test of whether you’ve trained them well or not.

 

3. Live in Harmony with Nature

If there were ever a people who lived in harmony with their surroundings, it was the American Indian. They took what they needed from nature, but did so without destroying nature. They learned the sounds and movements of the animals and could read their signs. More than anything, they studied everything around them.

There were always tribes which were friendly to the white man. We all know the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant and cultivate. Had it not been for the knowledge of the Indians, and their understanding of nature, the United States would have died aborning. Their knowledge of nature was unsurpassed and became the foundation of many learned works, written by scholars who learned from them.

 

4. Waste Not

When American Indians killed an animal, they used every bit of it they could. They were not wasteful. You never saw an Indian village with a garbage dump beside it. Everything had its use and the Indians were amazingly clever in finding those uses. Even internal organs from the animals could be used, making containers out of them to carry water or to store medical herbs.

The Hidden Secrets Of Making Herbal Medicines … Right At Your Fingertips!

The Indians also understood that what they had today may not be there tomorrow. When they had food to eat, they ate well, banking up extra for the time when they would not have food. Winters were hard on them, but they made do mostly by preserving food in the summer and fall.

We see this in the westward expansion as well. The early pioneers didn’t throw anything away. They made an old shirt into a rag. A burlap sack became a towel. People brought their baskets to the General Store to go shopping and they used everything they had. The waste in our modern society, especially the ideas of disposable items and planned obsolescence, simply add to our ultimate downfall.

 

5. Make it Yourself

Probably one of the worst things that white men did to the Indian was to teach him to be dependent on manufactured goods. While those goods were in many ways superior to what the Indians had, that dependence played a part in their ultimate downfall.

Indians made what they needed; they didn’t buy it or trade for it. If a man needed a knife, he would make one. If he needed a teepee, he had to kill enough animals to have the skins. In a culture where everything is handmade out of materials gleaned from nature, one can survive alone, without the huge infrastructure that we depend on today. We would be better off at surviving if we were able to do more for ourselves, rather than depending on others.

 

6. Be Aware

The Indians may have been the inventors of situational awareness. They knew when enemies were about by the reactions of the birds and squirrels. They could tell when a storm was coming. Indians would see things in the world around them that you and I would pass over, without a moment’s notice.

Living in harmony with nature requires knowing her moods and truly seeing what is happening around you. Survival makes this a requirement. Often, the only difference between the living and the dead is who sees who first. This is true for animals and it is true for humans, too.

 

7. Blend In

Native Americans

The Apache Indians were masters of guerrilla warfare. Stories have been told of Apaches who crept up on a man dozing, holding the reigns of his horse, and stealing the horse, while leaving him sitting there sleeping. How could they do this? By blending in with their surroundings and moving slowly.

The whole idea of camouflage is one that came naturally to the Indian. Their skin color and attire lent itself to hiding in the environment. They knew how to move without attracting attention and had the patience to move slow enough so as not to catch the eye.

Blending in helps us to avoid attracting attention. In a survival situation, that can be invaluable. Just avoiding being seen by others greatly increases the chance for survival. That means learning how to look like the environment around you, as well as moving as part of that environment.

 

8. Learn the Medicinal Value of Plants

The only medicine that the Indians had was the plants around them. While they had their medicine men who were experts in using those plants, most Indians had at least some rudimentary knowledge of herbal medicine. After all, they would be observing everything the medicine man did.

Modern medicine is an evolution of herbal medicine. In the past, doctors gathered herbs and plants which they used as medicines. Many of today’s modern medicines are merely artificial copies of things found in nature. Many of the medicines we need are there waiting for us. We just need to learn which plants to use and how to prepare them for treating our needs.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts on the Native Americans in the section below:

 

The post 8 Overlooked Survival Skills That Kept The Native Americans Alive appeared first on Off The Grid News.

5 Quick Steps To Easy Apple Cider

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 16:20

Fresh apple cider is delicious

Autumn is here! And autumn means harvest time has come and is in full swing. To me, fall has always meant lots of apple pies, apple butter and apple sauce, as well as jugs full of apple cider and juice. There’s just nothing like a fresh-made, frothy mug of apple cider after a long day of harvesting and processing the fruits of my labors from the previous six to eight months.

It doesn’t matter if you have your own private orchard supplying you with all the apples you could want or if you’re raiding the local farmer’s markets. Either way, you can make your own apple cider and juice at home. Of course, if you do happen to have your own orchard, making cider is a great way to cut down on the waste you might experience, especially with those early summer apples that have gotten insect stung, pecked by birds or blown down in a windstorm.

You can make your own apple cider in two different ways. If you happen to have a juicer, you will cut your work down a bit more than if you don’t. But it’s still a good way to get everyone involved in the process and it lets the kids have a nice reward at the end of the day that they can see – and drink!

 

Steps To Making Apple Cider

 

1. Gathering, Sorting & Preparing Your Fruit.

This is the most time-consuming step in making apple cider. It is also the best step to get the kids involved in the process. Older kids can learn how to use a small paring knife while mom and/or dad are there to watch over them.

  • Small children can be employed to gather the apples into small buckets or baskets, especially if they are windfall apples already on the ground.
  • Once the apples are gathered you will want to sort through them. You will want to cut off the bruises, peck holes and anything that you don’t think would be wanted in your finished product.
  • After you’ve sorted through the apples, wash them well in fresh water. If you happen to be using grocery store apples, you’ll want to add half a cup of vinegar to each gallon of water to remove the wax from the skin of the apple. The wax may make the apples look nice and it may not have a lot of flavor, but it could still taint your cider and we don’t want that.
  • Cut the apples up. There’s no need to peel or core the apples. However, if you’re worried about the seeds, then you can separate out the cores — but don’t throw them away! I’ll give you an idea for them later on.

 

Making apple cider

2. Cook Your Apples.

You can use a large stockpot for this, but make sure that you can reach the bottom with a potato masher without touching the tops of the apples, since they’ll be hot when you get to that point.

  • Add about 2-3 inches of water to the bottom of the pot full of apple pieces and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the water boils, turn it down to a medium-low simmer to help the juices come out of the apple flesh. Cover and let the apples soften. You’ll need to keep an eye on it, since apples cook down fairly quickly depending on the amount you have in the pot.
  • Every once in a while you’ll want to take the lid off and mash the apples with a potato masher. Beginner’s Note: A potato masher is the one with the wave-like, single wire. Not the flat piece with holes in it.

 

3. Strain the Mash.
  • Cooking should only take about 10 to 20 minutes for each batch.
  • Once the apples are broken down, you are ready to strain the pulp out of the juice. You can use either a fine mesh sieve or a food mill.
  • If using a mesh sieve, you will want to use a silicone scraper or “jelly fish” spatula to move the mash around to press as much juice out of the pulp as you can.
  • A food mill is much easier than a sieve. With a food mill you will need to strain your juice a second time to separate out the pulp that will have gone through the mill.
  • Don’t throw out the leftover solids from the sieve or the peels from the mill!
  • If you use the mill and have to strain the juice a second time, the resulting mash can be made into apple sauce or apple butter. I’ve even got an idea for the peels that I’ll mention later on.

Emergency Backup Power In The Palm Of  Your Hand.

 

4. Adjust the Sweetness,
  • After straining, taste your cider. Is it too tart? If so, continue on to the next step.
  • Transfer the liquid into a clean pot and start it on a simmer.
  • Add sugar a teaspoon at a time and whisk thoroughly to dissolve it before tasting again. Continue doing this until it is the sweetness you and your family can enjoy.
  • If you used a variety of apples, this step may not be necessary but it is always a good idea to taste your cider to be sure.

 

5. Preserve It!
  • There are two methods to preserving your fresh-made cider: freezing or canning.
  • If you are freezing your cider, allow it to cool in an air-tight container before putting it into the freezer. Use the cider within 3 to 6 months for the best flavor.
  • For a longer shelf-life, it is better to can your cider. Pour warm cider into hot, sterilized jars with ½ inch head space. Process in a hot water canner for 30 minutes.

Congratulations! You’ve made your own, homemade apple cider that you and your family can enjoy for weeks or months to come. But you might be asking what you can do with the leftover cores and peels besides tossing them in the compost or out in the chicken yard. Well, that’s the idea I wanted to leave you with. You can make apple cider vinegar from them. Nothing needs to go to waste!

What advice would you add on making apple cider? Share your advice in the section below:

 

 

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Eight Ways To Use Pumpkins That You May Not Already Know

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 15:00

There are so many different ways to use pumpkins this fall.

Pumpkins are more than bright orange decorations for Halloween and the basis of a tasty pumpkin pie – they can be an amazing source of nutrition and health. The key is looking beyond the bright orange shell to the benefits inside. What better way to do that than a little  trivia? These eight insights will help you look at this fall vegetable in a different light and teach you a few interesting facts you probably don’t know.

 

Pumpkins are all-American.

The earliest pumpkins have been traced back to Northern Mexico and the American Southwest, sprouting between 7,000 and 5,500 B.C. They were brought to other parts of the world by travelers and conquistadors. Pumpkins are now cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.

 

Need nutrition? 

Part of what makes pumpkin so full of nutrition is that almost all of the plant can be eaten. The shell, seeds, leaves, and even the flowers are edible and delicious when prepared right. They can be steamed, roasted, boiled, or dried, while the leaves and flowers are used as snacks or soup flavorings.
A serving of pumpkin (one cup) contains nearly 300 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, iron, and manganese, as well as containing nearly 5 mg per serving of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
A serving of roasted seeds (one cup) contains twelve grams of protein with no cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin A, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

 

Pumpkins are some of the thirstiest and hungriest foods in your garden.

Pumpkins require large amounts of water and soil nutrients. This vegetable is 90% water. They drink in an average of an inch per week. They also love to suck nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients out of the soil.

 

Re-mineralize Your Soil With Sea Minerals And Grow More Nutritionally Dense Foods.

 

Illinois is the pumpkin state.

Approximately 95 percent of all the processed pumpkin in the United States is grown in Illinois. In case you’re curious, that’s nearly 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin! Even more surprising? Nestle Corporation, a famous chocolate company, produces 85 percent of the processed pumpkin in the U.S. During a rainy year in Illinois it has been known to damage the crop. The damaged crop in Illinois leads to pumpkin shortages across the country.

 

Vegetables of unusual size.

While the average Connecticut field pumpkin weighs in between eight and fifteen pounds, some pumpkins can grow to well over 1,000 pounds. The current world record holder in the giant pumpkin category is Chris Stevens, who grew an Atlantic Giant pumpkin to a shocking 1,810 pounds in 2010.

 

This vegetable can cure what ails you.

Historical folk remedies recommended pumpkin as a cure for freckles, but modern science is researching how this vegetable helps cure elements of both diabetes and cancer. It turns out that some of the same phytochemicals that give pumpkin its unique color can also help regulate glucose and insulin production in diabetics. Meanwhile, early research is promising for breast and prostate cancer patients who take pumpkin seed oil, as the alpha-linolenic acid it contains can prevent metastases and the spread of the disease.

 

Animals benefit too.

It’s not just people who benefit from this vegetable – animals get a lot out of it, too. Cats and dogs with digestive problems can be treated with canned pumpkin. Chickens that are fed pumpkin in the wintertime lay more eggs than other hens. This vegetable can also be used to plump out feed for horses, cattle, and pigs.

 

A major sporting event.

Though you may not think of a pumpkin as a piece of sports equipment, there are thousands of people who love nothing more than a good pumpkin chucking (Punkin’ Chunkin’) competition. There’s a World Championship Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association and more than 100 teams compete in the world championship games held annually in Delaware.
In this “game” the objective is to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Think it won’t go far? World championship events routine cross 1,000 feet, while in 2010, a team showcasing their skills in Moab, Utah, shot a pumpkin 5,545 feet, earning themselves a Guinness World Record.

Let us know if you have any more fun facts about this amazing fall vegetable in the comments below.  

 

The post Eight Ways To Use Pumpkins That You May Not Already Know appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The Danger From The Smart Grid That No One Is Talking About

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 17:16

Nobody knows if the smart grid will actually work because it is a totally new technology that no one has ever tried before.

Big government’s plans to modernize electricity by creating a smart grid appear to be a recipe for disaster. Consequently, a grid such as this would be more vulnerable to hacking and sabotage.

A smart grid will be more prone to failure because it relies on the cloud – a fragile and complex network of data centers. Therefore, it would be more likely to suffer blackouts than the traditional system.

A traditional electric power grid distributes electricity from power plants to homes and businesses directly through a simple system. In addition, human operators control the traditional grid at a few central locations. The traditional power grid is less vulnerable to sabotage because it is low-tech.

What Is The Smart Grid?

A smart grid is a computerized system in which artificial intelligence (AI) would make the decisions. People call such a system the smart grid because it deploys so-called “smart technology.”

The control systems for this type of grid will be located on the cloud. As a result, they will be more vulnerable to hacking and software glitches. Humans might not be able to access or repair cloud-based systems quickly.

The hope is to optimize the grid’s performance and maximize profits. A smart grid is supposed to maximize performance by having AI send electricity to where it is needed most, or by selling power for the highest price.

The most noteworthy advantage to the smart grid is that it can harness electricity from a wide variety of sources. Those sources can include traditional nuclear or coal-fired power plants, roof-top solar panels, and micro-generators.

That means the smart grid is theoretically more robust than the existing grid. Unfortunately, the AI and cloud-based control systems add another layer of complexity that makes failure likely.

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The Smart Grid Nightmare Scenarios

A smart grid can give rise to a number of frightening nightmare scenarios. Grid nightmares your family might face in the near future include:

  • Sky-high electric bills that appear out of nowhere. Under an unregulated smart grid, an AI or algorithm might have the power to increase or decrease your electric bill at any time.
  • Utility companies can program the smart grid to change rates suddenly and without warning. The cost of electricity might be $10 a day on Monday and $100 a day on Friday if demand increases.
  • A grid utility would have the ability to shut your power off at any time. A smart grid AI might call you and tell you to pay your bill right now or it will turn off the lights.
  • A far greater potential for sudden electricity shortages. The AI that runs a smart grid might automatically shift electricity supplies away from homes. The electricity would be sent to more profitable customers such as big corporations instead. Homes might be in the dark while the lights and registers stay on at Walmart.
  • Hackers have already proven it is possible to take down the existing grid. The cloud-based grid would be far more vulnerable to cyber attacks because it operates through the web. A grave danger would be targeted attacks aimed at specific customers or certain kinds of users. Attackers might try to sow panic by shutting off power to certain businesses such as filling stations or supermarkets.
More Vulnerable To Sabotage
  • A smart grid will make traditional low-tech sabotage easier and more effective. This kind of grid will be highly vulnerable to low-tech, traditional sabotage methods. Those methods include smashing computers, cutting wires, or bombing infrastructure.
  • A major threat would be the destruction of internet infrastructure, which might cause a system crash. Attacks on the data centers that operate the cloud might bring down the smart grid.
  • Another way to knock out the smart grid would be to attack the power sources for the data centers. In this case, cutting off power to the data centers would shut down the cloud and the power grid.
  • Increased possibility of catastrophic failure because of more complexity. The smart grid will be a highly complex system. That means that there is a lot more that can go wrong with it.
  • Equipment failures, software glitches, and human errors can be magnified throughout the whole system. A software glitch might shut off power to several states or provinces.
  • There would be no backup available because there are no humans are on duty. The worst case scenario is that there would be no human operators available to switch power around and keep the system operating in an emergency.
  • If the smart grid fails, it might take hours, days, or even weeks for human operators to take back control.
  • Governments or utilities can use a smart grid to ration power. A grid like this can be used to divert electricity from low-population rural areas to cities where most of the voters live, for example.
  • Nobody knows if the smart grid will actually work because it is a totally new technology that has never been tried before.
Conclusion

The bottom line is that the smart grid will probably be very unstable and unreliable. Fortunately, there is a portion of the power grid plan that can keep the lights on even if the whole system fails. Households and businesses can hook up their own off-grid sources of electricity and backup power systems.

Such systems will keep the lights on and technology working even if the smart grid itself is a failure.

A complete selection of cutting-edge sources of off-grid electricity is offered by our partners at Powerful Living. Please visit them.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 8 Simple Ways To Live Off Grid On Less Watts

Or download our free 30-page report which discusses slashing your electric bill by up to 50%: How To Cut Your Electric Bills In Half

Do you have any additional thoughts about the smart grid and the danger it may pose? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

The post The Danger From The Smart Grid That No One Is Talking About appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Why Almost Everyone Is Wrong About Cooking With Lard

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 16:07

Our ancestors ate lard for thousands of years and were healthier than we are now.

Are you like millions of Americans who bought into the lipid hypothesis myth? You know, the one that says that saturated fat causes heart disease and is like poison to your body? Did you abandon the way your great-grandmother cooked, replacing healthy animal fats with synthetic hydrogenated oils for fear of ruining your health? If so, you are not alone.

The good news is that your great-grandmother was probably right all along. In fact, our ancestors ate lard and other natural saturated fats for thousands of years and were comparably healthier than we are now.

In spite of modern medicine, we are not living much longer than people 2,000 years ago, so something must be wrong. Moreover, degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis were extremely rare before the 1900s.

The Good News

Recent, breaking research has confirmed what many have known for years: natural saturated fat does not cause heart disease or stroke. Now, it will just be a matter of time before this information makes its way into mainstream medicine, thereby splitting the lipid hypothesis wide open.

We must prepare for it to trickle down slowly as paradigms do take a while to change. This is a challenge for health academics for sure who have spent the better part of their career advising against consumption of saturated fat. Plain and simple, it takes people a while to admit that they are wrong.

The Rise Of Dangerous Cottonseed Oil

It will take an even longer time before food manufacturers make the shift. This is mostly because there is extreme profit in cheap hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed. Interestingly enough, people saw cottonseed oil as waste in 1860, used it for fertilizer in 1870, fed it to cattle in 1880, and turned it into table food by 1890.

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In the early 1900s, Proctor and Gamble were growing and harvesting cotton and began to experiment with the cottonseed (a byproduct of cotton). They wanted to see if they could do anything with it to expand their profits. After some experimentation, they found that by heating and pressing the seed, they could extract an oil. Furthermore, this process was easy and inexpensive, making it highly desirable. Companies used this process of hydrogenation to make the oil last a long time, and when it cooled it looked just like lard. We knew this product as Crisco (the recipe has since been replaced with soybean oil).

It was at this point in food manufacturing that the decision to market cottonseed oil had a terrible and far-reaching impact on the health of millions of Americans. Crisco was touted as being a cheaper and healthier alternative to lard. Early on, Proctor and Gamble even gave away free cookbooks with each purchase of Crisco that replaced lard and butter with the dangerous oil.

Today, the packaged or processed food that you find in your local grocery store uses cottonseed oil. The list includes such things as chips, cookies, crackers, bread, salad dressings — even soaps, shampoos, and makeup.

This oil contains 50 percent omega-6 fatty acids. Although we have a small amount of omega-6 in our body, too much causes inflammation. Most lifestyle illnesses today are the result of inflammation.

Not long after cottonseed oil infiltrated our food supply, diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and autism skyrocketed.

On the other hand, saturated fat such as what you can find in lard is actually good for the body.

Saturated Fat Is Necessary For Strong Bones

Your body can’t effectively incorporate calcium into bone without saturated fat. Dr. Mary Enig, PhD., leading expert on dietary fats, recommends that 50 percent of fat in our diet should come from saturated sources.

Saturated Fat Keeps Lungs Healthy

In order for lungs to function properly, a thin layer of lung surfactant needs to coat them. This material consists of 100 percent saturated fatty acids. If we replace this fat with non-saturated types, the surfactant does not work properly and we may experience breathing problems.

Saturated Fat Keeps Your Brain Healthy

The brain is made up of fat and cholesterol. In addition, most of the fatty acids in the brain are saturated. When we eliminate saturated fats from our diet, we rob our brains and they cannot function properly.

Saturated Fat Builds A Strong Immune System

Saturated fat keeps the immune system strong. When we lose saturated fatty acids in white blood cells, they have a hard time identifying and destroying foreign invaders such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Saturated Fat Is Good For Your Heart

This is perhaps the biggest shock of all. What health experts once thought to be detrimental to cardiovascular health they are now recognizing as being beneficial. Saturated fat reduces lipoprotein (a), which correlates strongly with the risk of heart disease. Additionally, studies show that when women diet, those eating the most total fat as saturated fat lose the most weight.

Saturated Fat Helps With Nerve Signaling

Saturated fats that you may find in butter, coconut oil, and lard work as signaling messengers to influence your metabolism. This process includes the release of insulin.

Why Use Lard?

Lard, or pig fat, appears to be making somewhat of a comeback these days. Although lard is a saturated fat, it actually contains one-fourth the amount of saturated fat that butter does. In addition, it is rich in monounsaturated fat such as what you can find in olive oil.

1. Lard Is Good For You  

Lard is comprised of 48 percent monounsaturated fat. This figure makes it second to olive oil, which contains 77 percent monounsaturated fat. The primary fat found in lard is oleic acid, which people have associated with a decreased risk of depression, a reduced risk of cancer, and proper cholesterol balance. Lard is also loaded with naturally occurring vitamin D. We are a society that is deficient in vitamin D and we don’t do a very good job of synthesizing it either. Pigs, on the other hand, store vitamin D in the fat under their skin, which is why the lard is so full of it. Consuming lard on a regular basis can help to keep our vitamin D levels where they need to be.

2. Lard Is Natural And Highly Sustainable

Although not everyone can raise a pig, if you can and you let it get to be about 250 pounds, you will have about 20 pounds of lard. It takes about 6-9 months to raise a pig to this weight, and this would give a family of 5 plenty of lard for a year.

3. Lard Is Tasty

Those that cook regularly with lard will testify to its taste and ease of use. From crispy, fried, free-range chicken to baked goods — lard just makes everything taste richer. Pastry chefs swear by it for a wonderful and light crust.

Warning… Don’t Buy Store-Bought Lard

The lard that you will find in your local grocery store is not healthy but is hydrogenated and comes from pigs raised in confinement. Look for a local, organic pig farm where the animals are raised outdoors and are not given any antibiotics or drugs. Visit EatWild.com to find a farm near you.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Lard: Your Great-Grandmother’s Secret To Better Skin, Naturally

Do you use lard? What tips would you give to readers? Tell us in the comments section below.

 

 

The post Why Almost Everyone Is Wrong About Cooking With Lard appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The Secret To Cracking Black Walnuts

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 16:00

Cracking Black Walnuts Is No Easy Task

Fall is black walnut season in North America, and once you come across a tree you’ll find hundreds of the nuts on the ground. You also can knock them from a tree with a stick, but watch your head. They can hurt.

So, why are they called black walnuts? That’s a good question. If you’re ever seen a black walnut, then you know that the outer shell is a deep, light green. But if you handle one, you’ll quickly discover that they stain your hands black. Thus, the name.

 

Removing the Outer Shell

Wear gloves when harvesting black walnuts, and gently press the green, outer layer. If it’s soft and your finger can make a dent, then it’s at its peak of ripeness.

In order to get to the inner nut, you must remove the green, outer shell. I usually put the walnuts on either a flat rock or my driveway and gently roll them back and forth with my boots.  Usually the outer green husk will break off, leaving you with the inner nut. This is when you particularly want to wear gloves, as the inner nut will stain your hands.

Other techniques for removing the outer shell include rolling them between two boards or putting them in a burlap sack and forcefully hitting the bag on a hard surface.

 

Rinsing the Nuts

Soak black walnuts in water to remove the black, outer bits of pulp. Fill a bucket with cold water and dump the shelled walnuts into the water. If any of them float, discard them. Floating means that the nut has either been compromised by insects or the inner nut meat has dried or is spoiled. Good black walnuts sink. Soak them overnight and in the morning, drain the water and refill. Continue to repeat this cycle of refreshing the water until the water remains clear.

You’ll notice after the first soaking that the water is quite black. Don’t let any of this water get on your clothing; dump the water out of the way, preferably on some black dirt. Black walnuts were used by our ancestors to dye clothing, and any of the black walnut stain that gets on your clothes likely will be permanent.

 

Drying the Nuts

Once you have sufficiently rinsed the black walnuts, put them on a foil lined baking sheet topped with paper towels and let them dry for two weeks in a dry space. Keep them out of the sun. I’ve found that the garage or basement is a good place to do this. I also found out very quickly that my wife wasn’t fond of staring at a bunch of black walnuts sitting on the kitchen counter for two weeks.

 

Cracking the Nut

Cracking Black Walnuts

If you think you can use a regular nut cracker to crack a black walnut, think again. These nuts are incredibly tough and have a very hard, outer shell. Supposedly there’s a special black walnut nut-cracker, but for the life of me I haven’t been able to find one. Personally, I use a hammer. I’ll wrap a few nuts with a wash cloth or a piece of burlap and gently smash them with the hammer until they open. You can then pick out the nut-meat and discard the outer shells. The reason you want to wrap them in some kind of fabric when doing this hammer technique is to avoid the shrapnel and shattering that could strike your eyes.

 

Roasting Black Walnuts

Once you’ve cleaned out the nut meat, you can give your walnuts a light roast. I usually rinse them in cold water and dust them with a finely, ground sea salt. Next, I roast them for about 15 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, but taste them after 15 minutes to see if they need more time. I would strongly advise that you do not roast an unopened or un-cracked black walnut.

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The moisture in the nut-meat could cause the black walnut to explode and the toughness of its outer shell could send shards flying in all directions. If you feel you must roast them intact, do it in a Dutch oven with a heavy iron lid. That way, any fragments from an exploding black walnut will be contained.

 

Storing Black Walnuts

If the walnuts have been shelled, the nut-meat is best stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid or a canning jar in the fridge. They should be good for up to a month. If the black walnuts are still in the shell, there’s good news. They’ll keep for up to two years if stored in a burlap bag or fine-meshed bag in a dry space like a back or front porch or an attic. Don’t put them in the root cellar, as the moisture can cause mold to grow on the outer shells. As always, inspect your black walnuts after they’ve been stored. If they show any signs of mold or have a mildew smell, discard them.

 

Menu Ideas

Black walnuts are great eaten right out of a bowl like regular walnuts. I like mine roasted and lightly salted and that’s why I toss them in salt before roasting. They’re also great in salads, pressed into cookie dough before baking or as a topping for a freshly baked loaf of bread. I’ve even put them on pizza.

If you come across black walnuts in your neck of the woods, give them a try. It’s a bit of work, but they’re free and they taste really, really great.

How do you crack black walnuts? Share your tips in the section below:

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The post The Secret To Cracking Black Walnuts appeared first on Off The Grid News.

How To Make Good Old-fashioned Soap… The Pioneer Way

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 15:00

Making Old-fashioned soap

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to make soap if you are living off the land?

The hard-working pioneers had to be resourceful and learn how to make their own soap from wood ashes and waste fats. They realized it’s easy to craft soap using the overflowing amount of hardwood ashes that built up in their daily fires, along with the ample amount of animal fat from the butchering of livestock they used for food.

For a lot of the pioneers, soap making became a semi-annual or yearly affair on the homestead. As the butchering of livestock occurred in the fall, soap was crafted at that time on many farms and homesteads to utilize the abundant supply of lard and tallow. For the homes that did not butcher their livestock for food, soap was generally crafted in the springtime, from saving the ashes from the wintertime fires and the cooking grease which they salvaged throughout the year.

 

How to Craft Good Old-fashioned Soap Directly in Your Pan

Old-fashioned soap

For all the campers out there, many likely have already discovered that by just throwing some white ashes into the hot frying pan, the lye from the ashes will combine with the fat or oil in the pan to form a crude soap.

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This is an excellent way to wash out that dirty frying pan. However, this is not a great way to make enough soap to say, go take a bath.

 

How to Craft a Larger Amount of Soft Soap Step One: Saving up Supplies
  1. Wear goggles and gloves.
  2. Boil the white ashes from hardwood fires in a little bit of water for about ½ an hour. Rainwater is said to be the best because it is considered to be soft water.
  3. Let the ashes settle to the bottom of the pan.
  4. The liquid lye will float to the top. Skim this off of the water. Save it in a container.
  5. You will need to do this daily until you have a nice amount saved up.
  6. At the same time, you want to be keeping any leftover cooking lard from your everyday This includes solid animal fats from your food and animal lard from cooking.
  7. When you have saved up enough of both, you are ready to begin old-fashioned soap making process.

 

Step Two: the Soap-Making Process
  1. You will need to find a pan or pot that is not aluminum. This is important because this process will eat through aluminum. You want this first pan or pot to be large enough to boil your lye in, and then add the hot grease to, as discussed in a later step.
  2. Begin by boiling the still weak lye that you have been saving. (It is said that you should boil it down until you can float an egg on it. Now, I know that not everyone always has an egg on hand, so improvise here!)
  3. Now put the fat, lard and oils that you have saved up into a separate pot. Depending on how much you have actually saved up, you might want to use a large pot or kettle for this. Make sure not to go over the halfway point of the pot you are using because you don’t want the fats to bubble over.
  4. Heat the fats until all of the water has been rendered out. This is especially important if you have solid fats.
  5. You should still have the lye going at a slow boil in the other large pot. Now, you want to slowly stir in the new, hot, clean cooking grease into the lye. Slowly! Keep stirring until the mixture becomes a consistency of mush.
  6. Save any extra, clean grease to use next time.

 

Step Three: the Pouring  
  1. You will need to have ready a wooden box of sorts if you want to pour this into an actual bar. If not, any container will do.
  2. Cover whatever container you have in grease. so that the mixture won’t stick to the container.
  3. Pour the mixture into the container.
  4. Let it cool and set.
  5. This mix will turn solid but remain soft. Use a knife to release it from the container, if needed, or chop it up into usable pieces depending on your needs.
  6. Now you have soft good old-fashioned soap!

 

How to Craft a Harder Form of Soap

Some people might want to harden up their crafted soap a bit more. Here’s how:

  1. You make it exactly the same way, but you will need to add salt to the mushy mixture before pouring.
  2. Add about a cup of salt for each gallon of mix. Proportion this amount as needed ─ if you make a ½ gallon, use ½ a cup of salt, and so forth.
  3. Pour into a greased container, let it cool and then set before cutting it out with a knife.
  4. You can cut it up into blocks or pieces, depending on your needs.

For homesteaders and outdoorsmen alike, making soap from what you are already using in nature is convenient — and costs you nothing.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

 

 

The post How To Make Good Old-fashioned Soap… The Pioneer Way appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Essential Tips For Bagging Your Record Buck This Deer-Hunting Season

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 16:00

Essential Tips For Bagging Your Record Buck This Deer-Hunting Season

As deer-hunting season arrives, we’ll no doubt be pulling out and checking our hunting gear, sighting in our rifles at the range, and scouting hunting locations at our favorite spots.

Some hunters will want to bag a trophy buck, others will just want to put some venison in the freezer for the winter. Some hunters will want to teach their own children to shoot and hunt (after all, they will be the next generation of hunters).

If you are reading this article, you may already be an experienced deer hunter — or you may be new to hunting. If you’re frustrated that you haven’t been able to bag a deer yet over your life of hunting, or if you’ve shot several and are looking for new ways to enjoy the sport, then this article is for you.

 

The Basics

The best time to hunt, of course, is in the early morning when the light is just breaking out, and in the late afternoon and early evening before sunset. Deer will be out foraging at that time in the day, unlike the middle of the day when deer will be hidden beneath the brush and trees.

Many hunters choose to hunt by traversing the countryside, scouting for deer through their binoculars. This has worked for many hunters no doubt, including some who are reading this. But this is also not the most effective way to hunt deer. Deer have a very acute sense of smell and hearing, so chances are that they’ll know you’re coming from a great distance away (this is why many who opt to hunt this way have to shoot their prey as it makes a beeline through an opening to cover). Because of their great sense of smell, it’s not only important to wash your hunting clothes with unscented detergent, but it’s also important to wash yourself.

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In deer-hunting, patience is the key. You should scout out many locations before hunting season begins and head to areas that have lots of deer. You can also ask around with your friends, family members, and/or other hunters for places in your area that they would recommend. Then, set up a blind very early in the morning, before there’s light out. If it is dark, it probably won’t be legal for you to shoot a deer yet (half hour after sunrise and half hour before sunset rule), but it will still give you more than enough time to set up a blind.

Your blind should be located in some cover with a view of an opening area. You could also try a tree stand if you’re comfortable being several feet high off the ground. One of the best examples would be on a hill, in the middle of some trees, with an open field or hillside in front of you.  There should also be plenty of recent deer tracks and other signs in the area to suggest that deer have been around. Preferably, you will have seen deer while you were scouting the location before the hunting season. Another great location to hunt: near streams, where deer come often to drink.

Avoid using tree stand locations that you’ve used in the past or even those used by other hunters. Deer will eventually become aware of the danger and distinctive evidence of human presence and begin to avoid the area. Also, you want to be downwind from the deer, so keep this in mind when setting up your stand.

 

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Deer-Hunting Season

Still confused over where to hunt? Then try a trail cam – a waterproof digital camera connected to a motion sensor. When the sensor detects motion, it snaps pictures, allowing you to see what kind of action there is. The data you get will be telling – even some areas that are heavily tracked may not have seen deer come through there in a while. There’s nothing as dull as sitting up in a tree stand watching a game trail that’s devoid of life. Setting up a few trail cams and then going home to a roaring fire and a hot cup of coffee is better time spent than stubbornly freezing in a tree stand waiting for deer that will never come.

Once the light has started to break, you have the option to bring out a deer call, scent or antlers in an attempt to lure deer to your location. Many hunters prefer not to use this option in favor of just waiting for a deer to pass by, so it’s up to you.

 

Patience

This part of the hunt requires great patience. You might have to go several hours without sight of a deer. You have to keep your eyes and ears attentive at your surroundings, and your rifle or bow at the ready. If it’s early morning, it can be very cold. Your blind isn’t going to be much of a shelter. Bring a small camp stove if necessary.

If you don’t see anything for the next several hours, don’t feel disheartened. You can come back to the same location a few hours before sunset and try again.

Being patient for deer in this manner, however, is usually more effective than setting out and trying to flush them out.  Setting up a blind and waiting for your prey in a heavily deer-populated area means that you get to ambush the deer when they least expect it.

If you attempt to traverse the countryside and flush them out, you’ll be the one who’s caught off-guard.

What are your best deer-hunting tips? Share them in the section below.

 

 

The post Essential Tips For Bagging Your Record Buck This Deer-Hunting Season appeared first on Off The Grid News.

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