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How To Get Rid Of Stinkbugs In Your Home And Garden

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 13:00

Get rid of stinkbugs naturally and without using pesticides

There’s a smelly pest in the US, from its native Asia. The brown marmorated stinkbug is an insect that’s proven difficult to contend with. But it’s not that unpleasant smell they release that makes these bugs problematic. They are tough, very invasive, and they have quite an appetite for our crops. Most people have tried almost anything to get rid of stinkbugs.

 

About Stinkbugs

The brown marmorated stinkbug is a dime-sized insect featuring a flattened, mottled brown body, long antennae, red eyes, and a hard, shield-shaped outer shell. It releases an unpleasant odor when squashed or when feeling threatened.

The brown marmorated stinkbug feeds on the fruits and leaves of many different plants.  Stinkbugs also have a particular taste for many popular fruits and vegetables, including all stone fruits, apples, grapes, tomatoes, peppers, lima beans, and corn.

Female stinkbugs lay little clusters of light green eggs on the underside of leaves every summer. Mottled yellow, black, and red nymphs hatch soon after and quickly grow through another four nymph stages before becoming fully formed adults. Depending on the climate, stinkbugs can produce between one and five generations every year.

 

The Invasion

The stinkbug is a large, diverse genus that includes some indigenous North American stinkbugs, which pose no threat to crops. The brown marmorated stinkbug, however, hails from a completely different continent, with different insect predator species. What this bug found when it arrived in North America was a paradise of food to eat, warm homes to hibernate in, and no natural predators to keep their numbers in check. Birds won’t eat it, and predatory insects don’t seem to recognize it as food.

Reports of the brown marmorated stinkbug first appeared in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. Since then, the bug has spread to 38 states nationwide, appearing by the hundreds of thousands in Florida, California, the Northwest, and almost everywhere in between. Besides being a household pest, the brown marmorated stinkbug is an invasive species that poses a serious economic threat to the agriculture industry. In 2010 alone, this insect caused an estimated $37 million in damages to the apple industry.

 

Get Rid Of StinkBugs In The Garden

It’s no wonder that the stinkbug is becoming such a worry for commercial farmers and home gardeners alike. Not only do stinkbugs render fruit inedible and unmarketable. Stinkbugs also make foliage unsightly and leave plants stressed and open to infection from the tiny bite wounds left from feeding. During especially bad years, managing this pest isn’t easy, but it is possible.

When tending your crops, especially any fruit trees, tomatoes, peppers, and grapes, keep an eye out for stinkbug damage. Damaged fruits display scarring, pitting, and a mealy texture. Damaged leaves also show scarring in the pattern of round stippled areas.

Control Fall Pests Naturally Without The Use Of Pesticides 

Because the brown marmorated stinkbug is so new, few pesticides have been tested for effectively controlling them, though any that are marketed for native stinkbugs seem to work just fine. There are, however, other more effective and long-term methods of control in the works:

  • Traps: Researchers tasked with finding effective methods of control have brought back traps used on these insects in their native Asia
  • Natural controls: Researchers have also begun to introduce a parasitoid wasp species native to Asia and natural enemy of the brown marmorated stinkbug. Purposefully introducing a new species to the US takes time and a lot of paperwork from the USDA, EPA, and others, as this new wasp could threaten native stinkbug species. Preliminary tests show great promise though.

 

Get Rid Of Stink Bugs In The Home

Brown marmorated stinkbugs aren’t just a pest outside; they infest the indoors as well! As cool weather starts to show up in the fall, these stinkbugs begin looking for a place to hibernate. Out in the wilderness, many hide out under fallen logs or under a pile of leaves. Most stinkbugs, if given the opportunity, choose to winter inside houses, sheds, and other structures. You may notice only one or two inside your home or outside by windows and doors, but in some cases, these bugs can invade by the hundreds.

Once a stinkbug makes it indoors, it can post up just about anywhere, including behind bookshelves, in windowsills, under baseboards, and any other place that’s dark and sheltered. Stinkbugs, unlike termites and other insects, do not cause any damage to your home at all. Stinkbugs won’t reproduce inside, and don’t bite, so they aren’t a threat to children or pets. Their stench that gives them their name though and the potential to cause allergies in some individuals, certainly make them unwanted guests.

Prevention is the best method of control here. Like spiders and insects, stinkbugs enter the home through small cracks, especially around windows and doors. Take the time to properly seal your home for the cold winter ahead. You’ll also be sealing your home against these invaders.

 

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Some simple prevention steps you can take:
  • Caulk all windows
  • Weather strip all doors
  • Seal any cracks in the foundation or elsewhere that may give bugs access to the indoors
  • Screen your house’s chimney, if it has one
  • Clear piles of leaves and other debris near the house
  • Cut back or remove vegetation harboring stinkbugs

While common home sprays labeled for indigenous stinkbugs work, they are not an effective long-term solution. Many homeowners instead are vacuuming up the bugs as they find them (which will stink up the vacuum, by the way). More severe cases may require contacting a local pest control expert with experience in managing brown marmorated stinkbugs.

Not sure if brown marmorated stinkbugs have invaded your region? Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office for more info, as well as additional advice on control measures. If these stinkbugs have not yet been reported in your area and you suspect you have them, try your best to catch one and report it immediately to your local Cooperative Extension Office.

Do you have any tips for getting rid of stinkbugs? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

 

The post How To Get Rid Of Stinkbugs In Your Home And Garden appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Preparing Your Body For Survival Situations

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 16:31

Don’t just depend on going to the gym and working out. Do some actual physical labor to train your body for survival situations.

I live in an area with one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation. A few years ago, we were number one, but someone else has managed to pass us up since then. I have to admit, I fit the demographics of the area as well. But last year I did manage to lose 60 pounds, although I’m still not quite down to where I want to be. Nonetheless, I don’t look like the Michelin Tire Man anymore.

There are several reasons why I decided to finally get serious about losing weight. Unquestionably, survival was high up on that list. How could I, a supposed expert in survival, allow myself to get to the point where bugging out would probably kill me? I couldn’t let it stay that way.

However, the reality I had to face is the same one that many of us have to face. The bottom line is that our bodies aren’t ready for survival. Any survival situations that we encounter will be physically demanding, even bugging in at home. Just turning your backyard into a survival garden will be physically demanding. This task doesn’t even include hauling water, splitting wood for the fire, and all the other manual labors that we are accustomed to having machines do for us.

Preparing For Survival Situations: Losing Weight

As a society, we have become physically lazy. Sure, there are certainly those amongst us who go to the gym regularly to make up for their sedentary lifestyle. Yet, that accounts for only about 20% of our population. Oh, and statistically speaking, the ones who do exercise tend to be younger adults. In fact, a third of all those who make regular trips to the gym are under 24 years of age. Sadly, those of us who are overweight and need to exercise the most are also those who are least likely to do so.

The basic problem is that losing weight requires doing the things we don’t want to do and not doing the things we want to do. I had to give up a lot of my favorite foods in order to lose those 60 pounds. That was hard, especially when others around me were eating them. I felt like the guy who quit smoking in a room full of smokers.

Our diets consist of way too many starches, sugars, and fats. But then, you already know that. The trick is having the “won’t power” to cut them out of your diet. I call it “won’t power” because we don’t have any problem with our will. It’s easy to say “I will eat that,” but it’s hard to say “I won’t eat it.”

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That’s Not Enough

Notwithstanding, losing weight alone isn’t enough. Yes, losing weight has some definite health benefits, such as reducing the risk for Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. But just losing weight will turn us into skinny weaklings rather than fat weaklings. We still won’t have the strength and stamina needed for survival.

As a basic rule of thumb, I’ve determined a few benchmarks that I feel are minimum physical requirements for adequately handling survival situations:

  • Be able to walk four hours, at normal walking speed, with your bug out bag on your back (at least 30 pounds), with 10-minute breaks every hour.
  • Can you chop wood or swing a sledgehammer for one hour without breaks.
  • Able to pick up a ¾” thick sheet of plywood and carry it across your backyard without stopping or losing balance.
  • Be prepared to walk on a balance beam with your 30-pound backpack on.
  • Fire 100 rounds through your personal defensive firearm without your arms getting shaky.
  • Able to carry two five-gallon buckets, filled with water (a total of 80 pounds) one block without resting.
  • Can you shovel 500 pounds of dirt (1/4 cubic yard) without a break.

If you can do these things, you’re probably physically strong enough for the tasks you’ll have to do to survive. Surprisingly, some bodybuilders will have problems with some of these exercises. This is because their strength is trained for specific actions and not necessarily actions associated with the physical work of survival. Consequently, don’t just depend on going to the gym and working out. Do some actual physical labor to train your body as well.

Get Your Health In Line

Nearly 70% of Americans take some sort of prescription drug on a daily basis, with more than half of them taking at least two. That’s horrible. What are all those people going to do when the pharmacies are closed and there are no medicines to be found?

Granted, we can use natural remedies for a lot of things if we know how. Nevertheless, most people know little to nothing about herbal or natural medicines and even fewer are growing the plants necessary. Unless you take the time to both study herbal medicine and grow the necessary herbs, that’s just not going to work for you.

It is better to get your body healthy enough so that you don’t need all those medicines. Many chronic conditions can be alleviated or even eliminated by proper diet and exercise. High blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes are both related to diet. High blood pressure is also related to anxiety. If we get our diets, our bodies, and our thoughts in order, we can eliminate the need for most of those prescription drugs.

Conclusion

Mankind has survived for most of its history without allowing the medical profession to make us chemically dependent. While some of those pharmaceuticals may help to prolong our lives, we probably won’t need them if we eat sensibly and get more exercise. It has been medically proven that both high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes can be eliminated by going back to a lifestyle which requires more physical work, which is how our ancestors lived. I wonder how many other things could be eliminated as well?

This aspect of preparing for survival situations has got to start now. You and I can’t afford to wait until a disaster strikes and we can’t get our medicine. That’s why I’ve put so much effort into losing weight, and if I can do it, you can too. It’s just a matter of making up your mind that you’re going to see it through.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 3 Forgotten Survival Essentials – Straight From The History Books

Do you have any other tips on how to prepare your body for survival situations? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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Bugging-In: A Safer And More Practical Alternative To Bugging-Out

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 15:00

Bugging-in may end up being a more practical decision in the long run as opposed to bugging-out.

If you look around the internet these days, you might get confused about whether it’s better to be bugging-out or bugging-in should a disaster strike. It seems like most of the big name preppers are recommending bugging-out, rather than staying at home. But for most of us, that option may not really be all that practical. Being able to bug-out effectively requires a lot of money and a lot of preparation.

3 Kinds Of Bug-Out Situations

Actually, there are several different types of bug-outs that one might find themselves involved in. They differ in the reason for bugging-out and the destination:

  • Bugging-out to another city because of a natural disaster. Before hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the government was telling people in the storms’ path to evacuate. In this case, you end up in a temporary shelter or a hotel. After the disaster passes, you can go back home (assuming your home survives the disaster).
  • Abandoning your home to go to a prepared location at the first sign of trouble. This is the luxury version of bugging-out. This process requires the time and resources to buy and/or build an alternate location and stock it for long-term survival.
  • Bugging-out to an unprepared location because you have to abandon your home. In this scenario, you don’t have a prepared bug-out location. Additionally, you are forced to evacuate your home due to a breakdown in society. This is what most people who bug-out are thinking they will end up having to do. While the chance of survival for these people will be better than staying at home to be shot, it will still be rather minimal.
Drawbacks In The Bugging-Out Concept

Looking at these options, it’s clear that unless you have a well-prepared location to go to, bugging-out may not be all that good an idea. Oh, I know that there are hordes of people out there who think that they can live off the land. Nonetheless, the reality is that they can’t. Game isn’t as plentiful as it was back in the pioneering days and the population is much larger. With all the people who are thinking they can just hunt for their food, chances are what game there is won’t last long.

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Most of us can’t afford to buy land in the mountains and build ourselves a nice little cabin in the woods. In reality, bugging-out may not be the great option that many tout it to be. In fact, bugging-out may be akin to signing your own death warrant.

Besides natural disasters, the biggest reason for bugging out is a general breakdown of society. Should that nightmare happen, there will be mob violence, theft, vandalism, and all sorts of crime. Being in the city will be outright dangerous… at least, if people know you are there. This fact will be even truer if they know you are there and have a stockpile of supplies.

On the other hand, unless you have that well-prepared bug-out location, your home is the one place you have that is best prepared for you to be able to weather a disaster. That’s where you have your equipment and supplies, along with all the other things that you possess for day-to-day survival.

Bugging-In Is A More Than Viable Option

It’s also easier to prepare your home for surviving an extended disaster than any other location. Since you live there, you can drill a well, plant a vegetable garden, and start raising chickens. All of these things are important parts of preparing to survive the aftermath of a disaster. At the same time, you can prepare your home’s passive defenses so that you are ready to defend it from any attackers.

The problem that most people have with bugging-in is fear. They are afraid that they will be too easy a target for hungry mobs who are roaming the streets. While I’m sure that there is some justification for that fear, I’m not sure that they are thinking things through.

Let’s say that there are hungry mobs roaming the streets and looking for anything that they can steal. This type of situation would be evidence of a total breakdown of society. Unless you have that prepared bug-out location, where are you going to be able to go so that you can avoid that mob? There really aren’t all that many options. Other than concealing yourself out in the woods, which is going to be much harder than most people think, hiding is going to be a problem.

 

Bug-In Tips: Preparing Your Home For Defense

The best bet for most people when bugging-in is to make their home look abandoned. Then, they can stay there while making sure that they have the ability to defend their home as well. Making a home look abandoned isn’t really all that hard. All it takes is plywood over the doors and windows and for everyone to stay inside. If no light shows through the windows and no noise comes from the house, it’s going to look like nobody’s home.

Defending that home is an entirely different ballgame. There’s a lot more to defending a home than knowing how to shoot a gun. You also need to know the tactics necessary so that you can know how to control the battle. Moreover, you need to know how to set up an ambush so that you can make any fight be as one-sided as possible. Should you have to actually fight against a hostile mob, you need to have a plan to make the battle as short and one-sided as possible.

Part of this task entails setting up your home in such a way that you have a “kill zone.” This concept involves standard ambush tactics. The kill zone is a place where all your defenders can focus their fire, therefore ending the battle quickly. You need to establish your landscaping in such a way as to channel any attackers into that kill zone.

Let me tell you a psychology secret here. When faced with various ways to get from point A to point B, almost everyone will choose the easiest way. Consequently, if you want to get people into your kill zone, make the easiest path onto your property and to your front door go right through the kill zone. If every other way is harder (fences, shrubs, hedges, locked gates), almost everyone will take the path that you want them to.

Conclusion

A well-prepared home, used as a bug-in location, gives you a much greater chance of survival than bugging-out to some unprepared location. That doesn’t preclude having a bug-out plan though. Things may get so bad that you are better off bugging out and trying to live in the woods for a while. Of course, if you do that, you should also plan on coming back to reclaim your home once the hungry mob has moved on.

Don’t think that you need to have only one plan. Since none of us know what the future holds, we must be ready for anything. That means having a number of different plans and bugging-in is just one of them. So, plan on bugging-in, but also think through various scenarios and decide what events would necessitate your bugging-out. Then, create the best possible bug-out plan you can with the resources you have available to you.

You may also enjoy reading another Off The Grid News article: Starting Your Armory

Do you have any additional tips or suggestions for bugging-in? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The post Bugging-In: A Safer And More Practical Alternative To Bugging-Out appeared first on Off The Grid News.

How To Protect Your Family With A Fortified Front Door

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 16:30

Having a fortified front door can make a world of difference in keeping your home safe from criminals.

The most common entry point into a home for burglars or attackers is the front door. Regardless of how many other ways there are to enter a home, burglars follow the way that we all typically use to enter a home. Therefore, it behooves any homeowner who wants to protect their home from intruders to make sure that they have a fortified front door against unwanted entry.

You may be sitting there saying, “No problem, I’ve got a deadbolt.” Well, let me and my boots pay your home a visit. Then, I’ll show you how one quick kick can eliminate that deadbolt and open your door. A single deadbolt isn’t enough to keep anyone out, except little children and obnoxious salesmen.

Fortified Front Door Tip #1: Deadbolts

To ensure that nobody can get in your front door takes much more than a deadbolt. You need several points of attachment to ensure that your door can’t be broken into. So, put that deadbolt in, but don’t stop there. You should add two more.

To get the most out of your deadbolts, you need to spread them out. If they are close together, the wood door frame can break out in one place. As you separate them, you need to put one near the top of the door and one near the bottom. Consequently, an attacker has to break three separate deadbolts out, not just one.

Since you’ll only use the other two deadbolts when you are home, you can install them in such a way as to not be visible from outside the door. This trick will add to the surprise when they can’t just kick your door in. To do this, cut out the opening for the deadbolt, but don’t go all the way through. You’ll still have a 1/4 inch hole where the pilot bit goes through. Nevertheless, you can plug that and sand it smooth.

Another important part of installing your deadbolts is to make sure that they go all the way through the doorframe, into the home’s framing. Typically, only a few finishing nails hold the door frame in place, so it isn’t very strong. If the deadbolt only goes into the frame, and the frame doesn’t break, the door and frame can be kicked in together.

 

This diagram shows the cross-section of a typical front door installation. As you can see, the deadbolt is only going into the door frame, and only a few finishing nails hold this in place. Six 15 gauge nails are normal on each side of the frame. The space between the frame and the studs is typical as well. This is because companies make most rough door openings slightly oversized and then they install the door frame with shims.

A longer deadbolt, which goes into the 2”x 4” stud is considerably stronger. You can also strengthen the door frame itself, by attaching it in more points. Instead of using finish nails, you can use drywall screws for added strength. These can then be puttied over and painted, making them invisible.

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Fortified Front Door Tip #2: Hinge Side

Front doors are typically installed with three 3-1/2” hinges. The hinges themselves are fairly strong if they are installed with the hinge pin on the inside (door opening inwards). Older homes may have them installed with the hinge pin on the outside (door opening outwards).

The weakness in the door’s hinge comes in the way that people usually install it. Typically, they install the hinge with 3/4” or 1” wood screws. That means that just like the deadbolt that only goes into the door frame, the hinge screws only go into the door frame as well. By removing these screws and replacing them with screws that are at least two inches long, you can add a lot of strength to the hinge side of the door.

Just as you need to make the door frame on the lock side of the door stronger by adding screws that hold the door frame to the studs, you should strengthen this side as well. This will help prevent someone from kicking out the door and frame together. There is no reason for installing screws in the lintel side of the door frame, as that won’t add any strength.

In addition to strengthening the hinge side by changing out the screws, something akin to deadbolts can be added. Four screws typically hold each hinge in place. Remove one pair of screws (the screw into the door and the matching one into the frame). Drill out the hole in the door and put in a three-inch lag screw, leaving it sticking out of the door 1/2 inch. Then, cut the head off the screw. Take a grinder and round off the cut-off end of the lag screw.

Now, drill out the hole in the door frame side of the hinge slightly larger than the diameter of the lag screw. You must allow enough room for it to enter. That means a 1/4” lag screw will need a 3/8” hole and a 3/8” lag screw will need a 1/2” hole.

Fortified Front Door Tip #3: Cutting Barriers

A determined criminal, on finding that they can’t just kick the door in, might try and cut the door around the lock and deadbolt. You can easily thwart this act by putting steel rods into the door. You should install these rods above, below, and between the door lock and deadbolt. Then, if they try to cut through the door, their saw will hit the steel rod and stop, probably dulling the blade.

You can buy steel rod in pretty much any hardware store or building supply center. The harder part is to find the extra-long “aircraft” drill bits. You could do this with a six-inch drill bit, but a 12-inch one would be better if you can find it.

Drill holes in the edge of the door in the desired locations. These holes need to be as deep as practical, but not hit the raised panel area of the door. Cut off sections of the steel rod that are just a touch shorter than the depth of the hole, and glue them in place. Once the glue is dry, cover the holes with a little bit of putty, sand, and paint. This will hide the work you’ve done.

Fortified Front Door Tip #4: Glass Panels

Glass panels are the bane of many a modern door. You can do the best security job there is, but if there are glass panels, all anyone has to do is break the glass and they can reach through to open the door.

You can easily eliminate the ability to reach through these windows by putting wrought iron gratings over them. Then all they can do is break the glass. Even if they break it, they can’t reach through and open the door.

If the door has sidelights, you should do the same thing for them as well. The area near the door locks needs to have the bars of the grating very close together. You need to place the bars close enough together to prevent anyone from getting their hand through. Farther away from the door locks, they only need to keep people from crawling through the window.

Fortified Front Door Tip #5: Bar The Door

Have you ever seen a movie where they had to bar the castle door to protect against the battering ram? There’s a reason why they did that. It’s because it’s really hard to get through a barred door. Well, you can bar your door just as well as they can bar the castle door.

All you need is a 4”x 4” that’s long enough to cross your door and reach to the studs and some brackets. You’ll probably have to make the brackets yourself out of 1-1/2” or 2” strap steel. Be sure that you mount them into studs and not just into trim or drywall. I don’t care what type of mounting hardware you use. If you just mount them into drywall, then you may as well not bother. On the other hand, if you mount the brackets into studs with two-inch lag screws, then they won’t be able to break it loose.

A door that’s prepared in this way can still be broken. Nonetheless, instead of using a boot or even an improvised battering ram, they’re going to have to drive a car through it. Most assailants won’t want to bother doing that unless they are extremely desperate. Common criminals will definitely avoid it, as they don’t want to leave that much evidence behind.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Important Home Defense Reminders

Do you have any additional tips or suggestions on protecting your family with a fortified front door? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The post How To Protect Your Family With A Fortified Front Door appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Is Coconut Oil A Dangerous “Killer Poison” And A Threat To Your Health?

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 15:00

Is coconut oil poison an issue that people should take seriously?

Cyanide is a deadly poison, and so is a bite from a venomous snake. However, Dr. Karin Michels, in her recent declaration at the University of Freiburg in Germany, made a far more surprising statement. In her lecture entitled “Coconut oil and other Nutritional Errors,” she stated that coconut oil “poison” is even worse than lard (pig fat from the abdomen).

Coconut oil is one of the worst things you can eat,” she said.
Her lecture hit close to a million views on YouTube. It also sparked a serious debate about the “superfood” often regarded as a cure-all for a wide array of conditions.

Well, how valid are her allegations?

If you’re a fan of coconut oil and usually add it to your smoothie or fry your veggies with it, this news from Dr. Michels is concerning. Years ago, the oil was commonly used in movie theaters for popcorn.  Then, some “scientists” said it would kill us. Then, a few years later, coconut oil became the miracle medium-chain triglyceride as we were taught to burn fat instead of carbs.  The oil also has a few other remarkable properties including anti-fungal and anti-bacterial characteristics. In addition, it’s a pretty effective skin moisturizer from the research I’ve read.

The Scientific Conflict Regarding “Coconut Oil Poison”

Due to its high level of fat, Michels argued that coconut is probably one of the worst foods you can eat. During the low-fat fad that was widespread a few years back, coconut oil was something that dietitians wouldn’t recommend under any conditions. However, doctors and nutritionists eventually concluded that carbs and sugar led to more weight gain than fats. Consequently, people started studying the issue more and gave coconut oil and other fats some street cred.

So what’s going on? What’s with all the conflicting data?

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil contains beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as it’s packed with phytochemicals. A study from Harvard showed that coconut oil elevates the body’s levels of “good” cholesterol. That said, coconut oil consumption could also prevent many diseases.
The findings on coconut oil are helpful, but there’s a lot of misinformation floating around concerning its fat burning properties.

 

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How Much Coconut Oil Should You Consume?

Back in 2017, the AHA (American Heart Association) analyzed years of research data connecting heart disease and saturated fat. Their information supposedly showed an active link between the two. They recommended cutting down on saturated fatty acids because exposure to high amounts increases the risk of coronary heart disease. However, the merits of a low-fat diet are still hotly debated

The AHA is concerned that coconut oil is 82% saturated fat.  They also warn consumers to stay away from foods like butter, cheese, sausage, and meat pies.

Furthermore, the AHA discourages the use of coconut oil and said that it’s better on skin than on food. It recommends that no more than 5% of an individual’s daily calorie uptake come from saturated fats.

And now we’re back full circle … coconut oil as a poison story popped up. There’s no question that you can exceed “smart amounts” of coconut oil on a daily basis. Nevertheless, if you use coconut oil on a daily basis you might want to keep using it and simply wait for the next scientist to come along and tell you that it’s a superfood again. Might be six months, might be a year, but science never seems to sit still.

The recommended coconut oil consumption is a teaspoon per day. In addition, you might want to pay attention to the type of coconut oil you’re consuming. Another study demonstrated that virgin coconut oil doesn’t have the same side effects as other highly processed oils.

Coconut Oil CounterPunch?

There has certainly been a great deal of hysteria surrounding Dr. Michels comments. In response, Max Lugavere, who is the author of the book Genius Foods, said that calling coconut oil poison is pure hyperbole. He also stated that this type of claim is simply “click bait” not backed up by evidence. Kind of like fake news only with science. Maybe “Fake Science” will gain some traction on Google.

Analysis of fat consumption, heart disease, and early mortality has not shown any correlation between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease or premature death. Nonetheless, the verdict on coconut oil will be out for a while.  It certainly has beneficial properties. Yet, when it comes to healthy fats backed up by more and more evidence, extra-virgin olive oil seems to run a strong race.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, calling coconut oil poison is unmerited. It has some excellent health benefits. Notwithstanding, like almost any food you can think of … it can become dangerous in excessive amounts. So listen, forget the click bait and don’t avoid coconut oil. The truth is … no one really knows. It all seems to hinge on what study you read. So find a doctor with an open mind to discuss this with. Have a blood test done so you know your actual lipid numbers. And remember… do your research, but stay diligent. And learn to discern … “Fake Science.”

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 14 Amazing (And Even Crazy) Uses For Coconut Oil

What do you think about coconut oil poison being a potential threat to your health? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Is Coconut Oil A Dangerous “Killer Poison” And A Threat To Your Health? appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Milkweed Is Edible? Yes, And It’s Super-Easy To Prepare, Too

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 16:30

Milkweed Pods

August, September and early October are the prime months for milkweed pods in many parts of North America. The pods range in size from 2 to 4 inches and grow in clusters of 4 to 8 pods.

They’re typically a light green color and filled with a combination of seeds and soft, silky floss. I’ll usually collect about 20 or so pods and head to the kitchen or camp.

In early to mid-summer, the milkweed shoots first emerge, and they taste great when gently boiled, shocked and sautéed in butter or olive oil. We’re going to start with the pods because they’re in season now, and cover the spring shoots later.

 

Prepping the Pods

Harvest the milkweed

Raw milkweed pods are quite bitter and the white, milky sap is not exactly appetizing. It is also very sticky. They have numerous seeds and a stringy, silky floss inside of the pod. In order to remove the bitterness and the sap, they must be boiled in water and shocked in ice water, and then boiled and shocked again. (The duration for boiling is 10 minutes and then a shock in ice water followed by another 2 minutes in boiling water and a final shock in ice water.) This is done for any milkweed pod, regardless of its size.

 

 

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Prior to the boiling water/ice-water shock, the seeds and silky floss need to be removed.

This can be done by gently pulling the seam apart with your thumbs on the curved back of the pod and pulling out the silk and the seeds.

Milkweed pods are loaded with seeds

There is also a tough, inner lining or membrane that needs to be removed. This is easy to do after the first boil and shock by gently pulling the tough membrane from the pod.

Large pods up to 4 inches are the best for stuffing. The best cooking methods involve baking or sautéing.

One thing you’ll notice during the first boil is a lot of bubbles and the white sap floating to the surface.

That’s good news, and you don’t have to skim the surface. The ice-water shock will rinse them.

Empty milkweed pod

After you’ve chilled them for a few minutes in the ice water and you’ve removed the tough inner membrane, boil them again for 2 minutes. You shouldn’t see any more sap or bubbles. You’re just giving them a final rinse and finish to clean the now-exposed inner membrane of the pod, and they’re ready for stuffing.

 

Baked and Stuffed Milkweed Pods

Larger milkweed pods up to 4 inches are the best for stuffing. You can stuff them with any combination you like, but I prefer a mix of chopped vegetables and a cheese-like mozzarella or cream cheese. However, you can use any cheese. I’ve also tried some variations with chopped fruit. Here’s a sample recipe with the cheese blend and the proportions if you want to give it a try.

 

Ingredients:
  • 24 to 30 large prepped milkweed pods, about 3 to 4 inches in length.
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese or 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella.
  • 2 tablespoons of onion, finely diced.
  • 1 jalapeno finely diced or two tablespoons of sweet bell pepper.
  • 3 tablespoons of crispy, diced bacon.
  • Bread crumbs or corn meal.
  • Salt and pepper.

 

Directions:
  • Baked milkweed pods

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Combine the cheese in a bowl with the diced pepper, diced onion and bacon; salt and pepper to suit your taste and combine everything with a large wooden spoon.
  • Stuff the pods until they’re full, but not so much that you can’t close the seam in the side of the pod. You can either stuff the whole pod, or cut them in half to create a half-shelled pod and simply spoon the stuffing on top.
  • Coat the seam with some bread crumbs or corn meal to help seal the pod during baking if you’re using a whole pod, and you can also sprinkle some on top of the half-shelled pods.
  • Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crumbs or corn meal are browned.
  • Serve warm or cold with your favorite dip, or eat them plain.

 

Sautéed and Stuffed Milkweed Pod Halves

The large 3- to 4-inch pods also can be sautéed. Prep the pods the same way you would for baking, but break or cut them in half so they’re a half-shelled pod. Stuff them and sauté on the bottom of the pod only in 3 tablespoons of oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until they turn a golden brown.

 

Other Ways to Eat Milkweed Pods
  • Unstuffed small pods. Small pods up to 2-inches in length can be eaten unstuffed with the immature seeds and immature floss. You’ll still need to remove the inner membrane. so gently remove the immature seeds and silk and give the small pods the hot water treatment for 10 minutes before removing the membrane. Repeat for 2 minutes in the boiling water, followed by the ice water shock. Once they’re prepped, re-insert the immature seeds and silk and bake or sauté. The immature seeds and silk actually have a creamy texture. Don’t boil the pods with the immature seeds and silk inside. They’ll dissolve in the boiling water.
  • Salad or soup. Give the pods the boiling water/ice-water treatment and chill them in the refrigerator. Chop them and add them to a salad or soup.
  • Milkweed chips. Chop the prepped pods into larger chunks and sauté or deep fry them for milkweed chips.
  • In sauces. Dice the prepped pods and add them to a sauce like a marinara or chili.

 

Milkweed Shoots

Milkweed shoots show up in the Spring. They are surprisingly tender and not bitter. They look similar to dogbane shoots which are very bitter, but dogbane has pointy leaves and a smooth surface while milkweed shoots have a velvety leaf like sage and rounded leaves.

The best way to prepare milkweed shoots after you wash them is to remove the leaves from the stem and chop the stem into pieces about 2- to 3-inches long. Boil them for 3 minutes in salted water and then shock them in ice water. Drain the leaves and the shoots and sauté them in butter or olive oil. Sometimes I’ll add a little garlic.

They have an asparagus flavor note and the boiled and shocked leaves and stems also can be frozen for future use. A variation is to sauté them in rendered bacon fat and then top them with crumbled bacon.

 

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Storing Milkweed Pods

Milkweed pods can be kept in the refrigerator and will have a shelf life similar to other produce in the fridge. The prepped pods also can be frozen and should be good for up to 3 months.

Milkweeds are easy to harvest and easy to prepare. Give them a try and who knows — you may really like them and try them again and again.

Have you ever eaten milkweed? Share your tips in the section below:

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Natural Antibacterial Gel You Can Quickly Make At Home

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:00

Make your own natural antibacterial gel easily at home.

As the cold weather sets in, we find ourselves taking extra precautions to ensure we are not the next victim of the cold and flu viruses spreading around our communities.

Perhaps we increase our vitamin intake or even obsessively wash our hands.  While those are easy to do around our homestead, many of us reach for an antibacterial gel. But that’s probably not the best idea.

 

The Problem With Store-Bought Antibacterial Gel

Each spring our local elementary hosts a science fair. There is usually one project investigating the effectiveness of antibacterial gel versus traditional hand washing. A quick glance at the petri dishes confirms that traditional hot soapy water does the job just fine. Even the FDA has banned certain ingredients in commercially manufactured antibacterial soaps and alcohol-based gels. One controversial component now banned in soaps by the FDA is triclosan. Triclosan has been linked to thyroid problems and increasing resistant strains of bacteria. Manufacturers have until the fall of 2017 to reformulate their antibacterial soaps; however, antibacterial gels are exempt from this ruling.

Nature, though, has provided all we need to combat viruses and bacteria. From medicinal plants grown in our herb gardens to essential oils curated from the best sources, creating our own antibacterial gels and sprays to use when we are away from home, or when we need an extra layer of protection after coming in contact with those suffering from illness, is a simple process and requires few ingredients.

Here are several ways to do it …

 

The Best All-Natural Ingredients To Use

Grown in containers, rosemary is useful as a seasoning and as a garnish for savory dishes, but it has several medicinal qualities, as well. Rosemary is antibacterial and anti-viral. Preparing an infusion of fresh rosemary creates a non-toxic alternative to commercially produced antibacterial gels. Using a one-to-eight ratio of fresh rosemary to distilled water in a stainless steel pan, bring the water to a simmer, and then cover and remove from heat. Let the rosemary steep for 20 minutes. The infused water, when cooled, can be transferred into a spray bottle for convenient applications. It also can be added to foaming solutions of castile soap, adding a layer of antibacterial protection.

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Natural Antibacterial Gel contains this plant called Wooly Lambs Ear.

Wooly lamb’s ear is not typically thought of as anything more than a textured addition to landscapes, but it has amazing antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in the treatment of bruising and cuts and abrasions, in addition to reducing fevers and swelling due to insect bites and bee stings. As with the rosemary infusion, an infusion of wooly lamb’s ear makes a quick and effective antibacterial on-the-go spray.

If time permits, create your own extract using a one-to-three ratio of chopped wooly lamb’s ear and vodka. Let steep for four to six weeks in a cool, dark area, gently shaking every few days. Use a few drops of this extract combined with rubbing alcohol or witch hazel in a spray bottle for a concentrated antibacterial spray.

Make Your Own Herbal Medicines In Your Home

The use of essential oils has certainly experienced a revival in recent years, and as a result they have become much more readily available to the average consumer. Many oils are antibacterial in nature and most contain additional properties that are beneficial to our overall health. In addition to the benefits gained from using essential oils, we also help diminish the growth of resistant strains of bacteria. That’s because the use of naturally occurring antibacterial extracts, oils or the like does not lead to the creation of superbugs or resistant bacteria.

Perhaps the most commonly known essential oil is tea tree oil (melaleuca oil), which is a medicinal powerhouse. Antibacterial, anti-viral and antiseptic, tea tree oil is an excellent addition to any antibacterial gel or spray formula.

Start an antibacterial gel formula with Aloe Vera, adding a small amount of witch hazel at a ratio of one-to-eight, and essential oils; a popular antibacterial combination is lavender and tea tree oil. Rosemary oil added to this formula will act as a natural preservative.

To any essential oil blend, a few drops of vitamin E oil will not only act as a natural preservative but also will moisturize your hands.

Do you make your own antibacterial gel? If so, share your tips in the section below:

 

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Get 12,000 Detailed Shed Plans To Build Your Next Shed!

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 17:18

Are you looking to build a shed at home but don’t know what goes into it?

It turns that even with zero woodworking experience; you can build an amazing shed in a weekend. However, you will need to have a detailed plan for the project. Unfortunately, though, most shed plans sold by woodworking publishers today won’t help you. In this post, we’re going to tell why this is the case and how MyShedPlans is going to help you out.

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So what’s MyShedPlans all about and who is it for?

Ryan Henderson, a professional craftsman and educator, gives you a variety of shed plans to help you build any kind shed at home. He has put together a collection of 12, 000 shed plans with different styles and designs. And you don’t need to have woodworking experience to use the plans; they are detailed enough and come with “hold-you-by-the-hand” step by step instructions.

As mentioned earlier, the shed plans sold by woodworking publishers can’t help you. I once wanted to build a shed. So I went online, bought the cheapest shed plan I could get and started following it. I got the tools, the 2×4’s, and even began cutting to size. I didn’t proceed much; I got stuck not knowing how to get from one point in the plan to another. If you have ever bought a plan to help you build any project, you probably know what I am talking about.

Many of the plans sold by publishers are not even written by woodworkers. They are written by ghost-writers who have never touched a chisel or a piece of lumber in their life. So, such plans often have wrong instructions, are either too dumb down or too complicated.

A good shed plan can only be written by a woodworker with experience building a lot of projects and teaching the craftsmanship to others. With Ryan’s shed plan, you will never need to hire someone to build a shed for you. You will complete it yourself and within the shortest time possible.

And if you are going to invest your money, energy, and time in building a shed by yourself, then you need a detailed plan that has everything you need to know about building a perfect shed. The plan should also include factors you need to consider when building a shed, from the most basic to the most critical.

With up 12,000 detailed shed plans, MyShedPlans is arguably the only place you are going to get a complete plan that will help come up the shed you want. Note also that the plans have different designs and styles. So you will get to compare the styles and designs and build a shed that stands out.

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Among other things, the plans will give you;

  • Views from all angles. This will help you see how everything will look before you start building.
  • Step-by-step instructions. The instructions are so detailed you’ll know exactly what to do in every step.
  • Lists of materials and cutting lists, so you know what to buy, the quantity, and how to cut the materials. The cutting lists include measurements.
  • 3D drawings
  • CAD designed drawings
  • “Used for” labels to help you know what each material is used for and when you will need it.

Visit MyShedPlans today, get your plans and complete your shed most inexpensively and quickly.

The post Get 12,000 Detailed Shed Plans To Build Your Next Shed! appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Why You Should Put Garlic in Your Ear Before Going to Sleep

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 16:31

An old book I bought recently holds some very interesting information you might want to know about.

Besides turning into my go-to book whenever I have a health problem, you’ll find some interesting things like:

*why you should put garlic in your ear before going to sleep

*what happens when you pour salt into a cabbage

*the most powerful natural painkiller you can make at home

Basically, “The Lost Book of Remedies” is over 300-pages of our forefathers’ most powerful natural cures that have been lost to history.

When medicines will vanish, you’ll need this on your bookshelf.

Some of them are the cures and homemade remedies our grandparents used when we were children to nurse us back to health.

Others can help us heal as we’re moving into our senior years and health problems begin to creep up.

And you don’t need to be an herbalist to use it.

In fact, “The Lost Book of Remedies” was made for common folk with no previous plant knowledge.

It will allow you to turn your backyard weeds into painkillers, antibiotics and many more forgotten but highly effective remedies.

In times of crisis, this book will probably end up saving many American lives.

When medicines will vanish, you’ll need this on your bookshelf!

The post Why You Should Put Garlic in Your Ear Before Going to Sleep appeared first on Off The Grid News.

4 Essential Tips For Beginning Big Game Hunting

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 16:00

Tips For Beginning Big Game Hunting

If you’ve never tried big game hunting, and are considering getting into the sport, there are some basic principles of hunting that you may or may not be aware of. Hunting is an exciting and challenging pastime, one that not every prospective hunter will master. To some novices, hunting represents too much of a challenge, and frustration ensues when a catch isn’t made after even multiple attempts. Here are some tips to make your big game hunting trips more productive:

 

1. Hunt only one type of animal at first

Laser-like focus is the key to your early success as a hunter. If you’ve got several big game opportunities in your area, such as bear, mule deer and pigs, then pick one species to try first, and one species only. Novices will often make the mistake of picking a rifle and cartridge for, say mule deer, then packing other rifles or gear “in case” they see something else. While experienced hunters can often switch gears during a hunt by pursuing a species that serendipitously crosses their paths, new hunters need to focus on the species they are after. This means:

  • Learning everything about the species they are seeking, including feeding habits, mating habits, the appearance of their scat, and what their natural environment is like.
  • Learn where the species is most likely to be found.
  • Learn what the natural predators of the species are.

Basically, if you have decided to go deer hunting, then go deer hunting rather than trying to bag a few ducks that you find along the way or follow that bear scat you found on the game trail.

 

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2. Stick to a small area at first

Most novice hunters make the mistake of trying to cover too much ground in search of whatever they are hunting, and as such, they neglect the toll that all of this travel takes on their bodies. While it’s true that some species like bear are relatively few in number per square mile and require a hunter to cover a large area just to find one, the beginning hunter should hone his or her skills on game that is abundant and geographically constrained in space.

Hiking for miles while carrying a rifle and gear is hard work; work that most people aren’t used to, which leads to injuries, dehydration and disorientation. Consider stationary hunts for your first big game experiences; for example, consider setting up a tree stand over a game trail and waiting for deer to pass instead of actively stalking them. You’ll learn noise discipline, and also learn what sort of game passes over that trail so you can tailor your future hunts.

 

3. Consider trying a game reservation hunt as your first big game hunting experience

Game reservations and private hunting grounds have one key advantage to hunting in the wild; you are certain to find game. Taking the certainty of game out of the equation and using a guide, you can gain some valuable experience on engaging an animal target in a more or less controlled environment. Look for an outfit that has good guides, and above all, a sportsmanlike environment. It does you no good to shoot an animal in a pen, and you won’t learn a thing by doing it; having said that, if you can head out from base camp and go a mile, sighting your first animal within an hour of starting, you’re further ahead than spending all day outdoors and not seeing a thing.

 

4. Brush up on the basic principles of hunting

The basic principles of big game hunting relate to the behavior of the animal in its natural environment. This means that animals in general need water to drink, and thus they have watering holes they typically use. Because the watering holes are used by more than one species (potentially predators), the animals won’t usually eat or bed down by the watering holes. Instead, the animals will eat somewhere safe, and bed down somewhere away from too much activity.

Going from the watering hole to the food, and then to the bed down location, animals will create game trails – clearings in the bush that they follow, much like our freeways. Also keep in mind when animals are active; some animals are nocturnal, some operate during the day, and others are diurnal, which means they cover both day and night. As the name implies, hunting is the art of finding the animals, then engaging them. You can’t find them if you don’t know where to look!

Finally, brush up on your shooting positions, and teach yourself to shoot from positions other than standing, and while hidden behind cover. Practice stalking as silently as possible through brush, and also stay well aware of the direction of the wind in relation to where you are, realizing that most animals will smell you and flee well before you can see them. Keeping the basics of hunting in mind and honing these skills will make you a far more successful hunter.

 

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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The Seven Minute Pain Solution

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 15:00

Many Americans continue to look for the perfect alternative pain solution.

You can’t survive without pain.  That might sound surprising, but the truth is, pain alerts you when you are overstressing a specific part of your body.  It also indicates a potentially chronic condition that will keep reoccurring over time. Pain could definitely represent an acute condition as well which still needs to be dealt with. Both situations require a pain solution.

Fortunately, we’re left with some great alternatives including one fascinating pain solution. These off-the-grid options do not require prescription drugs which often have some terrible side effects. One favorite fix for pain is power that is electrostatic in nature. And, believe it or not, static electricity, the very same kind you experience with a shock when you touch an object in a cold, dry environment, can be used to relieve a lot of suffering and pain. Allow me to explain.

 

Maintaining Cellular Balance To Maximize Your Pain Solution

Every single living cell within your body has both a positive and negative charge. It is the balance of these charges that lead to a state of wellness. An imbalance, on the other hand, leads to degradation, malfunction and varying levels of disease. You may have heard that the cells are more alkaline if an area of your body has a negative charge. Usually, less blood flowing to the area of concern also means a lower temperature in that area.

Conversely, when an area of the body has a positive charge, the cause is usually cellular hyperactivity. Excess tissue acids, along with inflammation, swelling, warmth, and pain accompany this over-activity. To help reverse these problems, you will need to present additional negatively charged particles (electrons) to the area.

Natural And Effective Pain Solution

 

Creating Your Own Electrostatic Treatment Hack

One of the easiest ways to create a significant amount of usable negative “healing” electrons is using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plumbing pipe and a small piece of fuzzy material. You can purchase PVC pipe from a building supply firm, any home improvement store, or online I suppose.  All you need is one to two feet of 1 1/2-inch pipe. By the way, at this length, its usually considered to be scrap. One of the best choices for the fuzzy material is the somewhat wild-looking polyester fake fur that can be found in fabric and craft stores.

To make a pain relief charge, take the PVC pipe in one hand and rub the piece of fuzzy material back and forth across it. For best results, move the charged PVC pipe slowly back and forth over the area, keeping it from the surface of your skin.

Important: By rubbing the PVC against the material, you recharge the pipe. If you happen to touch the pipe against your skin, you won’t get fried. However, you will have to “reload” the PVC from time to time.

Repeat the procedure until you feel relief.

The results can be quite dramatic. In fact, many folks begin to feel better within seven minutes. (Some even sooner.) That said, there is no set time period for treating a problem area. Sometimes it’s 15-20 minutes.

Bottom line: stubborn areas may take longer.  It took me almost an hour to get rid of a migraine one time.

What do you use for natural pain solutions?

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Turn Bitter Acorns Into Delicious Nuts, Butter And Flour

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 16:05

Making delicious foods with acorns like acorn butter is a fall treat

A variety of oak trees across North America produce acorns that usually mature in early to late fall. The size and shapes vary — and so does the flavor. There are basically two types of acorns: bitter and sweet. What makes an acorn bitter is a chemical referred to as tannins, or tannic acid. Certain oaks, like red oaks, have the highest amounts of tannins, while burr oaks and white oaks have less.

Any acorn should be processed to leach out tannins, regardless of whether they are bitter or sweet. The fundamental process involves either a boiling water bath or cold-water bath to remove the tannic acid. This process can take a couple of days up to a week or more, depending on the amount of tannins in the acorns.

 

The Hot-Water Bath

To leach the tannins out of acorns quickly, the acorns are immersed in gently boiling water. Only brown mature acorns should be used. Green acorns won’t work, and have on off-taste. The mature acorns are typically found on the ground, while those still on the tree tend to be green. The caps are removed from the acorn and a slit is cut in the side of the acorn. Sometimes you can peel the skin off the acorn after cutting this slit, but usually they need to be boiled for a while before the skin can be easily removed.

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To determine when the acorns have been sufficiently soaked, a simple taste will do. If it tastes bitter, then continue the slow boil and change the water every couple of hours. You’re trying to get rid of the tannins and without this water change you’ll simply reintroduce the tannins into the acorns.

 

The Cold-Water Bath

Some people feel that the hot-water leaching process removes much of the flavor from the acorn. The alternative is a cold-water soak, but this will take much longer. The acorns are again prepared by removing the caps from the mature acorns and cutting the slits. The acorns are then soaked for days at a time with water changes occurring at least daily if not twice a day. Here again, a quick taste of the acorn will tell you when they have been sufficiently soaked.

 

Drying the Acorns

Harvesting acorns

After any type of soaking, the acorns need to be dried. This can be done by putting them on a tray in the sun or gently roasting them in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Once again, a taste test will tell you when the acorns are sufficiently dry.

 

Storing Acorns

The best way to store acorns after they are dried is in a canning jar in the refrigerator or a root cellar. The shelf life will vary from a week to months, depending on how well they have been dried and the variety. Keep an eye on them if you have stored them and if you see any sign of mold or notice a mildew smell, discard them.

 

Roasting Acorns

To roast acorns, I’ll usually give them a quick rinse in cold water and then roll them around in some salt. Place them on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for one hour. Taste them after an hour until they suit your taste and have the texture you want.

 

Chopped Acorns

Chopped acorns can be used as a topping on desserts, incorporated into baked goods or tossed onto a salad for some added crunch. They can either be chopped on a cutting board with a knife or in a food processor. The size of the chop is up to you.

 

Acorn Butter

To make acorn butter, continue to chop until the acorns begin to develop a smooth consistency. This can take a while depending on the acorn variety and the amount of oil in the acorns. You can easily combine different varieties to make an acorn butter blend.

 

Acorn Flour

The best way to make acorn flour is to chop them fine and then run them through a flour mill. You could also try to use a food processor, but the acorns will need to be very dry or you’ll end up with another batch of acorn butter. If you want to make sure the acorns are extra dry, take the chopped acorns and roast them on a baking sheet in the oven at 225 degrees for a couple of hours. Toss them from time to time on the baking sheet to expose as much of the surface area to the heat. You could also put them on a paper towel in a food dehydrator to dry them out for flour making.

To bake with acorn flour, use it the same way you would use conventional flour but the addition of some regular flours like all-purpose flour or bread flour will help with the consistency and rise.

 

Competing With the Squirrels

When harvesting acorns, look for the acorns that have no split in the outer shell or any sign of insect damage. It’s okay if the caps have fallen off, but avoid the ones with splits in the shell or green ones. You’ll also have some competition from squirrels when it comes to finding acorns on the ground. Squirrels love acorns, but they also prefer the relative safety of a nearby tree. If you see an oak standing out in a field un-surrounded by other trees, your odds of beating the squirrels will improve. Typically, a squirrel won’t travel farther then 30 yards from the nearest tree. An isolated tree is less likely to have any visits from squirrels and the acorns will be plentiful.

How do you prepare and eat acorns? Share your tips in the section below:

The post Turn Bitter Acorns Into Delicious Nuts, Butter And Flour appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Simple Fall Chores To Avoid Bugs In Next Year’s Garden

Mon, 09/23/2019 - 15:00

We would all love to avoid bugs in our gardens.

As the season comes to a close for many gardeners in North America, you may be thinking of some much-deserved “time off” from your garden. After all, you’ve spent the last few months caring for plants and probably battling a few garden pests.

But before you pack in your gardening for this year, why not get a jump on battling next year’s pests? That’s right, there are a few things that you can do right now, in the fall, to help you avoid bugs in next year’s garden.

Let’s look at the end-of-season tasks that can help make next year’s gardening season a whole lot smoother.

 

1. Give your garden a final weeding.

If you’re like many gardeners, wedding is probably your least favorite task, but removing weeds one last time is going to give you a leg up on battling pests come spring. That’s because a weedy garden can allow many of this year’s pests to survive the winter, giving them a ready supply of food and shelter.

Pulling weeds now has the added advantage of making your spring gardening tasks a lot less daunting, too. After all, come spring you’ll be excited about planting, and the less time that you have to spend weeding, the better.

Why not pull them now instead and start the new season to help avoid bugs?

Ride your home of pesky fall insects naturally

 

2. Get rid of dead plants and debris.

Just as pests enjoy hiding out in weeds, they also can thrive in dead and diseased plant material and other garden debris. The last thing you want to do is leave a bug buffet out for your garden foes all winter!

Clean up your garden before winter, being sure to remove any annual plants or any crops that are diseased or dead.

Be sure that these diseased plants don’t find their way into your compost, either, unless you are absolutely sure that your compost will heat up (between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal). Otherwise, you could end up inadvertently re-introducing pests to your garden after you’ve worked so hard to remove them.

If you’re at all unsure whether your compost pile will heat up enough to kill these pests, then throw out diseased plant material.

 

3. Till your soil.

Avoid bugs in next years garden and keep your plants looking healthy.

Removing weeds and old plants alone does not ensure you’ve gotten rid of the bugs. In fact, some of the worst offenders like to burrow in the ground and remain there over winter only to emerge when the weather warms again – ready to destroy a freshly planted garden. Don’t give them that chance.

To deal with these nasty critters, get out your rototiller one more time this season and give your garden a good, deep tilling. This will help to push those pests deeper underground. Other pests will be pulled up to the surface, where it will become too cold for them to survive.

Tilling your garden once more at the end of the season also has the added benefit of introducing more organic matter into the soil.

 

4. Amend your garden if necessary.

The healthier your soil is, the healthier your plants will be. And the healthier your plants are, the less vulnerable they will be to pesky garden insects. If it’s been a while since you’ve done a soil test, take the end of the season as an opportunity to do so.

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Adjust your soil’s pH with any amendments as necessary. Planting a cover crop in the fall and then turning it under in the spring is a great way to add more nitrogen to the soil.

 

5. Start planning your spring garden.

Planning next year’s garden is about more than deciding what variety of tomato you’d like to try next year. It’s also about reviewing any pest problems that you had the previous season and strategizing how to avoid bugs in the coming season.

Part of your strategy should be crop rotation. If a particular crop encountered pest problems one year, it should be moved to a different location in the next year.

Another part of the strategy involves how you choose your varieties of vegetables. Depending on what problems you experienced, research some varieties of plants that are resistant to those problems. Or research what types of companion plants can help to minimize the problem.

So before you hang up your gardening gloves this season, take the time to prepare for spring and give yourself the advantage over pests next year.

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

 

 

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Off-Grid Home Remedies For Dry Eyes

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 10:15

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can make you feel miserable. Fortunately, natural home remedies exist that can ease the itch and relieve the burning.

In order to select the best treatment for your eyes, start by determining the cause.

 

Causes of Dry Eyes

Dry eyes may be the result of environmental causes. If you live in a cold, dry or windy environment, your eyes may feel dry. Exposure to glaring sunlight or artificial lights can cause irritation. Sitting by an air conditioner or fan may dry your eyes out. Allergens, smoke and chemicals also are often to blame.

Dry eyes also can be a side effect of certain medications. These include pharmaceuticals which are prescribed to treat hypertension, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Allergy medicines, drugs that suppress your immune system, and steroids such as prednisone and cortisone may cause dry eyes, too.

In some cases, a person might develop dry eyes because they do not produce enough tears to keep eyes moist.

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Dry eyes are most common among menopausal and post-menopausal women. This is due to changes in hormone levels. Women who undergo sudden, early menopause due to surgical removal of the ovaries or who experience menopause induced by medications – such as chemotherapeutic agents – are prone to experiencing hormonally influenced dry eyes.

 

Signs of Dry Eyes

You may feel as if you have sand in your eyes. They may be itchy, red or watery. You may have no drainage at all or you may have small amounts of rope-like mucus. Your vision may be blurry at times and your eyes may feel tired.

It is important to have an eye exam if dryness and irritation arise suddenly, are accompanied by other signs of illness or if the condition lasts for more than a few days. Eye irritation can be a sign of the highly contagious bacterial conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye. Eye problems may be signs of diabetes and other serious illnesses.

 

Prevention of Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be very painful

If your health care provider rules out other conditions and you have dry eyes, here are some ways that you can reduce the likelihood of being bothered by them.

  • If you wear contact lenses, consider purchasing lenses which are designed for people with dry, sensitive eyes or wear glasses instead.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes.
  • Wear goggles if you are working with chemicals or in environments that are dusty.
  • Avoid windy, dry and cold environments when possible.
  • Sit away from wood stoves, fans and air conditioners.
  • When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Avoid eyestrain by using proper lighting and taking frequent breaks when doing close work or while using a computer.

 

Diet
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine, as it dries the tissues of your body, including your eyes.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid the use of medications which cause dry eyes. Ask your health care provider about alternative treatments.
  • Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins, including household cleansers, perfumes and workplace chemicals. Use natural, fragrance-free products whenever possible.
  • Include foods which are rich in healthy fatty acids in your diet regularly. These include salmon, mackerel, herring, flax seeds and hemp seeds.
  • Eat a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables daily. Orange and deep purple produce contain compounds which are especially beneficial for eye health.
  • Take 1000 mg of evening primrose oil three times daily. You must use the supplement consistently for several months in order for it to reach its maximum effectiveness.
  • Take a multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement that is designed for eye health. It should contain lutein, bilberry, carotenoids, zeaxanthin and 25,000 IU of vitamin A. Follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Consider the use of herbs which contain phyto-estrogens or bio-identical hormones if you believe that your dry eyes may be related to hormonal changes.

 

Treating Acute Flare-ups of Dry Eyes

Acute flare-ups may be relieved by using internal and external remedies. Use them in combination with the tips given which prevent dry eyes. Take the following actions to decrease your symptoms quickly. Wash your hands carefully prior to and after administering topical eye treatments.

Moisten black tea bags. Chill them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Lie down and close your eyes. Place the tea bags over your eyes. Black tea contains tannins which reduce discomfort, redness and puffiness. The tea bags which are sold for iced tea are large and work especially well. Inexpensive tea is fine to use. You may place thick slices of cucumber over your closed eyes as an alternative to the tea bags.

Make compresses out of calendula or Eyebright tea and apply them over your closed eyes.

If those attempts don’t work, then purchase and use homeopathic or herbal drops and gels. I think that the gels usually work better. Do not touch the tip of the applicator to your eyes or tissues surrounding them. If you do touch the tip, discard the product. Replace eye drops and gels within one month of opening them. Boric acid is the main ingredient in many commercial eye washes and drops. Follow label ingredients for making an eyewash.

Boric acid is the main ingredient in many commercial eye washes and drops. Follow label ingredients for making an eyewash.

By using the tips above you will reduce your likelihood of suffering due to dry eyes. Should irritation occur, you now have the ability to obtain comfort quickly, easily and inexpensively.

How do you treat dye eyes? Share your tips in the section below:

 

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Cleaning With Oregano Oil – The World’s Most Powerful Disinfectant

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 08:00

Cleaning with oregano oil is ideal because it has excellent antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.

Keeping your home clean is important, especially as changing seasons typically hail the arrival of a new onslaught of cold and flu viruses. While sanitizing and deodorizing is important, did you know that many common household cleaners contain dangerous pollutants? These contaminants can damage the environment, water quality, and even your own health.

Luckily, oregano oil has the ability to kill the bacteria that are responsible for common illnesses like food poisoning and the common cold. It has excellent antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. These impressive attributes make it a prime candidate to replace chemical-based, commercial cleaning products.

  The History Of Oregano Oil

You likely already grow oregano in your herb garden, as this delicious spice can add flavor to a range of dishes such as pizza or pasta sauce. Particularly, the Greeks and Spanish have made use of Oregano for a long period of time. It can even be grown as a perennial in some places.

Oregano also has a long, storied past as a medicinal plant. The Ancient Greeks utilized it to treat mild poisoning and skin infections, as well as for antiseptic purposes. Many people still employ Oregano oil today to treat ear infections, immune system dysfunction, and bacterial infections.

  Why You Should Be Cleaning With Oregano Oil

Oregano is a bushy plant that is part of the Lamiaceae family. With fragrant, round leaves and tiny, white flowers, you can grow this plant all over the world. Furthermore, even the most modest homestead herb gardener can produce it in large quantities.

Oregano oil possesses potent antibacterial properties. Research studies have proven that oregano oil is effective against five strains of common bacteria, including those responsible for giardia, listeria, salmonella, and other common infections. Oregano oil is also effective at fighting drug-resistant E.coli and Staphylococcus bacteria.

The reason behind this is that oregano contains high levels of carvacrol and thymol. These are two phenol chemicals that have the ability (more so than other essential oils) to cleanse and deeply reinvigorate any surface. This is why oregano is so useful as a cleaning agent, medicine, and dietary supplement.

Oregano oil offers many other benefits. When you use it as part of an aromatherapy routine, it can help loosen unpleasant mucus buildup in your sinuses. This process aids in alleviating common respiratory problems. It can prevent viral infections and even lessen your body’s sensitivity to allergens. In addition, some people have had limited success in using it to relieve pain.

More Powerful Than Other Cleaning Products And Even Prevents Resistance

You can use oregano oil cleaning solutions in any location, including around children and pets. You don’t need to worry about staining your clothes or leaving behind an unpleasant residue when cleaning with oregano oil. It smells lovely and you can use it on practically any surface.

Oregano oil cleaning solutions can replace any cleaning solution with the exception, perhaps, of dish and laundry detergents. This is because those items tend to need additional ingredients to get the job done. While some bacteria become resistant to chemical cleaning solutions, oregano has the ability to kill even the most durable strains of viruses and bacteria.

 

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  DIY Oregano Oil Cleaning Recipe

Luckily, it is incredibly easy to make your own oregano oil cleaning solution. It lasts indefinitely and you can store it in a cool, dark location between uses so that you never have to run to the store for cleaning supplies ever again.

You can purchase oregano oil from an herbal or holistic medicine store, or you can create your own oregano essential oil by steaming freshly picked oregano leaves over boiling water. Either way, using oregano oil is the key to a healthier home and body.

The most important part of making effective oregano oil cleaning solutions is never to use refillable plastic spray bottles. These can leach chemicals into your cleaning supplies, thereby reducing the effect of your cleaning solution and also increasing its toxicity. Instead, purchase a glass spray bottle with any kind of screw-top and sprayer nozzle.

To make the cleaning solution, simply combine a cup of water, twenty drops of oregano essential oil, and two teaspoons of castile soap. If you are looking to create a solution with more powerful antiseptic properties, add some white vinegar and lemon oil as well. Oregano oil also pairs well with other essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, and rosemary. So, if you dislike the scent as you are cleaning with oregano oil, you can always experiment with other blends.

Shake the solution, no matter the blend, thoroughly each time you use it. Make sure you store the mixture in a dark place as sunlight can oxidize essential oils and render them useless.

You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: 11 ‘Powerhouse’ Essential Oils That Combat The Cold & Flu

What are your thoughts on cleaning with oregano oil? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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How A Funnel Trap Can Turn A Tomato Cage Into The Ultimate Fish-Catcher

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 15:00

Image source: Jenifer Jost

Learning how to make a funnel trap is an important skill, because you can use it on land and water, and in almost any terrain in the world. You can turn plastic bottles into funnel traps for minnows, rodents, toads, crayfish, and other small animals. You can also make larger funnels for muskrats and big fish.

In this article, I will specifically explain how I made a funnel trap out of an old tomato cage and discarded grapevine. This project inspired two recon missions into my husband’s garage and (oddly) a trip to Hobby Lobby to satisfy a hunch.

First, let’s go over the concepts.

 

The Basics Of Funnel Traps

A basic funnel trap is made of two cones. First, one large cone that holds prey until you remove it. Second, a smaller, open-ended cone that allows animals to enter the trap. The opening should be just a bit larger than the animal you plan to trap. Traps also must include a door you can open to remove the prey. Usually, the smaller cone is detachable from the larger cone, and serves as the door.

Some types of funnel traps are designed so animals physically cannot escape. A rodent cannot escape a bottle trap, for instance, because the plastic is too slippery for it to climb the inverted cone. Fish can physically escape a funnel trap, but their hard-wired behavior almost always prevents them from doing so. They follow a scent trail (bait) into the trap, but the shape of the funnel discourages them from finding the way back out. While a few fish luck their way out of it, they usually do not.

 

Materials To Use

As I was preparing my yard for spring, I came across an old wire tomato cage and a pile of discarded grapevine. Those are a great combination for a funnel trap. The cage provides a framework, while the grapevine can be wrapped (not woven), around the cage, in very little time.  The wrapping process took me about two hours, but weaving would have taken an entire day.

Because grapevine is so prolific, I cut it all the way to the ground every fall. It would have been much easier to manage had I used it when freshly cut. Because it had dried over the winter, the canes thicker than one quarter of an inch had to be wrangled, even after I soaked them in water for 30 hours.

 

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Wrapping The Grapevine Around The Tomato Cage

I started at the small end of the cage with the thinnest, most flexible, and least brittle canes. I used them as ties to bind the lower spokes of the tomato cage, then continued to wrap the vine until I reached the first rib.

At that point, I switched to the thicker vine, which was so unruly that I performed embarrassing wrestling moves in my yard before going on the first recon mission to my husband’s garage. After scoring a fistful of zip ties, I was able to twist and secure the grapevine around the cage.

Next, I bent the protruding wires from the small end of the basket over, and tucked them into the grapevine. Most of the vine was neatly wrapped, but there were a number of loose ends on the inside and outside, which I crudely wove into the erratic pattern.

At this point, my project looked like something sold at Hobby Lobby. I checked, and there are, indeed, small grapevine cones sold at Hobby Lobby for under $10 dollars per piece. Unfortunately, they are a bit too small for my purposes, or I’d be making one each for my besties.

 

Making The Funnel

The smaller cone, which is both a funnel and a door, takes three times as long to make as the larger cone, because you must create a framework for it. Start by making three rings of graduated diameters with vines. The first ring should be the same diameter as the opening of the larger cone. Make the second ring just a little bit larger than the animal you’re baiting, and the third ring in between the sizes of the first two.

Image source: Jenifer Jost

The vine ring in my hand in the photograph is the smallest ring. My trap is large enough to hold small-sized fish such as perch, bullheads, and brook trout, so I made the smallest ring accordingly.

Use sticks to create the spokes of the funnel. I was able to secure the sticks to the largest and smallest rings. However, I had to use temporary cloth ties to secure the middle ring.  Once the framework was in place, I made the funnel by crudely weaving and wrapping the vines around the framework. Then I wove twine perpendicular to the spokes to help the funnel hold its shape in water.

 

The Finishing Touches

Most basket-type traps will not be heavy enough to sink in water. You can weigh it down with rocks, or, as I did, take another recon mission to your husband’s garage. This time, I found old fishing weights that I tied to the inside of the basket.

Attach the cones with whatever you have on hand. I’m using twine, but I have seen traps of this type that are secured with several small sticks.

Finally, you must bait the trap. I’m certain I will catch crayfish if I hang bacon on the inside. Otherwise, I might try a general approach by filling a small muslin bag with scraps and letting it float around on the inside.

Of course, you can make funnel traps without tomato cages, using only supplies found in the woods – vines, sticks and willow bark cordage, for instance. The result, though, is the same: a trapped animal, and sometimes, lunch.

(Editor’s note: the video below shows how to make a funnel trap in the woods.)

 

 

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Four Super-Fast Survival Shelters When Life Leaves You Stranded

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 13:11

You can use a tarp to build simple yet highly effective survival shelters with limited effort.

When lost, stranded, or injured in the outdoors, adequate survival shelter is of the utmost concern. We may often take for granted shade from the sun or an escape from wind, rain, and cold in our daily life. If disaster strikes, we cannot overlook this essential concern. Thankfully, survival shelters can be as simple or as complex as one wants to make them.

Here, we have an overview of four different types of simple survival shelters that one can set up rather quickly.

Types Of Survival Shelters 1. Tarp Shelters

When preparing to venture into the outdoors, it is highly recommended that some type of tarp and a few feet of rope or cord be included in your gear. The reason for this is that tarp can be used to build simple yet highly effective survival shelters with limited effort. Whether you are stranded in a heavily wooded area or one that has relatively few trees or shrubs, the versatile tarp could very well aid in your survival. A tarp can be spread over a rope tied tightly between two trees in order to form either a lean-to or an A-frame. Guy lines anchored at each corner will pull the survival shelter tight. The closer to the ground, the more it will provide protection from wind and rain.

In addition, there are some outdoors enthusiasts who pack along a sturdy poncho that can double as a tarp for a survival shelter. It is my opinion that it is important to carry both items.

Tarp or poncho survival shelters will be very effective in protecting you from the elements, but neither of them will accomplish this goal completely. The tarp is for shelter and the poncho is for the body. That means a person who’s wearing a poncho and being protected by a tarp shelter is much more likely to remain warmer and drier.

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2. Debris Hut

The thicker the layer of debris, the more water and wind resistant it will be and the more it will retain your body heat.

To build a debris hut, it is essential to locate a site that is safe from flooding and falling limbs. Furthermore, you should locate the shelter in an area that has plenty of leaves. Identify the area and clear the ground of all debris. Leave a flat area of dirt around a foot long as your height and about twice as wide as your shoulders.

Construction

Find two branches that are about three feet long and lash them on one end at a 45-degree angle. In addition to that, find a branch that is two feet longer than your height. Next, place one end in the X formed by the lashed branches. Then, place the other end on the ground in the direction of the prevailing wind. Construct the walls by leaning branches against the ridge pole until you fill in the entire length on both sides. Collect piles of leaves and other small debris to pile on top of the structure. The thicker the layer of debris, the more water and wind resistant it will be and the more it will retain your body heat.

For added protection, lash together a U-shaped structure and place it at the opening of the survival shelter. Continue to pile debris on this form, which will decrease the size of the opening and further improve the protection of the design.

3. Lean-To Step 1

Building a small fire halfway between the lean-to and the wall will reflect the heat and light back into the survival shelter.

You can construct a lean-to with the aid of a tarp if the material is absent. Moreover, it’s possible for you to build the same structure with branches, sticks, and twigs. First of all, place a log horizontally between two trees and about three feet high to construct a sound lean-to. The branches or lashes can support the lean-to securely. You should place the wall on the windward side because it gives adequate protection from wind and rain. The length of the wall and the supporting branches should be approximately 8 to 10 feet long. Also, lean six or seven of these branches against the support beam.

Step 2

Next, you can construct the wall using branches long enough to span the distance between any two of the wall supports. This “roofing” material shall stack or lash to the support from the ground to the top. Once the wall support is covered, further insulation is made by piling grass or leaves. To add warmth and comfort to a lean-to, build up a stone or wood wall three feet from the open side of the structure. Building a small fire halfway between the lean-to and the wall will reflect the heat and light back into the survival shelter.

4. Wedge Hut

The wedge hut brings together the strength and insulation of the debris hut with additional sun and wind protection. A reasonably sized tree with a y-shape split about waist high is necessary for the construction of this shelter. To begin, find a log between two and four inches wide with a height of three feet long. Place one end of the log in the y-split of the tree on the windward side and the other end firmly on the ground. It may seem counter-intuitive to place this facing the wind. However, before the construction is over, you will notice the open entrance of your survival shelter on the leeward side.

Collect many branches that will reach from the center pole to the ground and place them at an angle. Continue placing these branches from the support tree to the end of the support. Choose one side of the large opening as the entrance to the survival shelter. On the opposite side, close it in with branches. Finally, cover the wall with leaves, grass, and twigs as thick as necessary to provide adequate protection from the elements.

You may also be interested in reading our OTGN article: Fire For Survival Part One: Materials And Ignition

What is your favorite type of survival shelter? Tell us in the comments section below. 

 

 

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Unusual Uses For Milk That Can Revolutionize Homestead Life

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 15:00

Unusual Uses for Milk

Got milk? Although there is an ongoing debate about the complete range of health benefits that cow’s milk provides to humans, milk remains a staple beverage in many American households.

A USDA study found that the average American drinks 20.4 gallons of milk each year, and milk ranks fourth behind carbonated soft drinks, bottled water and beer as America’s beverage of choice.

Cow’s milk is about 90 percent water, but the remaining 10 percent of volume contains protein, carbohydrates, fat, Vitamins A, D, and B12, as well as various minerals, organic compounds and antioxidants that are beneficial to the human body.

What you may not realize, however, is that milk can provide other benefits beyond its use as a beverage. Here are 11 unusual uses for milk that make a big difference if you’re a homesteader:

 

Unusual Uses For Milk 1. Relieve burns.

You can experience quick pain relief and promote the healing of minor burns, including sunburn, by applying milk to the affected area. Soak a washcloth in whole milk and apply to the area for about 15 minutes. Repeat every few hours.

Another option is to create a milk paste with powdered milk, water and two pinches of salt. Apply the paste to areas with minor burns for soothing relief.

 

2. Take the itch out of insect bites.

Milk also can ease the pain, swelling and itchiness of insect bites. Create a paste with milk, water and salt, and place it on the bites. After a few minutes, redness and itching will be significantly reduced.

 

3. Repair china.

Did you know you could use milk to fix cracks in your fine china? Fill a cooking pot with enough fresh milk or reconstituted powdered milk to cover a damaged cup or plate.

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Submerge the china in the milk and then bring the milk to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 45 minutes. When you remove the china, the milk proteins will have diminished the appearance of fine cracks and lines.

 

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4. Skin moisturizer. 

Try applying cold milk to calluses or other hard, dry areas of your skin three times a day.

Another way to moisturize the skin with milk is to take a milk bath. Add 1 1/2 cups of powdered milk to your bathwater as it fills the tub. You also can prepare a moisturizing facial mask by mixing powdered milk with enough water to make a thick paste. Apply the milk paste to your face, let it dry for about 30 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.

 

5. Polish silver.

You can clean your tarnished silver with the help of sour milk. Mix a cup of milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar. Soak the silver in the sour milk for 30 minutes. After rinsing with warm soapy water, buff the silver with a dry, soft cloth.

 

6. Revive leather.

To remove scuffs and to give a fresh look to leather shoes, purses and belts, moisten a soft cloth with fresh milk and gently wipe the leather. Let the milk dry before buffing with a clean soft cloth.

 

Unusual Uses for Milk

7. Remove ink.

We all have had leaky pens stain our clothes at one time or another. The next time it happens, try soaking the stained garment overnight in a dishpan of milk. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice for extra cleaning power. Then wash it in your machine.

If ink has stained your carpet, mix milk with enough cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the stain. Allow it to dry, and then vacuum the residue.

 

8. Take off makeup.

You also can use milk to remove makeup. Simply dip a cotton ball in whole milk or reconstituted powdered milk and then gently wipe your face with the cotton ball. For added antioxidants and a pleasant aroma, add a few drops of almond oil to the milk.

 

9. Boost the flavor of corn.

Want to make your sweet corn taste even sweeter? Add some milk to the water before you boil corn on the cob. When the corn is ready, you will notice a richer, sweeter taste.

 

10. Improve the flavor of fish.

When you defrost your frozen fish in a bowl of milk, the fish will have a smoother texture and a richer flavor.

 

11. Treat tongue burn.

Feeling the burn of spicy food on your tongue? Milk can dissolve capsaicin, the organic compound that makes foods spicy. Drink a glass of milk after eating spicy foods to alleviate the discomfort.

Now that you know some of the unusual uses for milk, you may be tempted to have more cartons on hand in your refrigerator. By the way, you can freeze milk for longer storage. However, you will need to leave some room in the container because milk expands when it freezes.

You can thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator or in cold water.

What other uses for milk would you add to this story? Share your tips in the section below:

 

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Low Cost Ways To Build An Off-Grid Home.

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 12:00

Straw is a low cost option for building an off-grid home.

There is nothing quite as exciting as purchasing bare acreage with plans to turn it into a working homestead.

But building a traditional home, even one considered to be small by most standards – say, a 2 bedroom, 1 bath — is extremely expensive. Many people go this route not realizing that there are alternative ways of building a home that can save you money — and even lower house maintenance costs over time.

Here are three inexpensive housing materials that you can use for off-grid and other self-sufficient homes.

 

1. Straw Bales

Straw is a common building material in some parts of the world. Whole bales are actually a great inexpensive housing material for creating solid, well-insulated walls. You then can add a thatched roof or go with something more traditional like metal.

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Building with straw bales is ridiculously easy, as they can be used just like bricks. Usually these bales are light enough in weight that one person can move them, although two people is a better idea. They are safer to work with when it comes to climbing up a ladder to stack as well. Due to the thickness and density of good bales, they are great for keeping heat and cold out — thereby lowering energy costs. Ironically, straw bale construction is more fire resistant than traditional building materials, again, due to the density.

Straw bale construction is best for very dry climates, and constant high humidity can cause structural issues. You must perform construction  during warm, dry weather. You do not want any moisture getting into the bales while building. Naturally, you also need to be certain that the bales you use have been properly dried.

 

2. Cob

There is nothing quite as picturesque and quaint as a cob cottage nestled into the countryside. Cob is one alternative building material that uses some straw, as alluded to above, along with earth and sand to create a moldable clay-like blend.  Adobe is essentially the same thing as cob. Instead, the mixture is formed into bricks and dried in the sun before being used.

Cob and adobe are both very strong building materials. They are also fairly versatile in terms of where they can be used. You can tell by the popularity of this clay-like mix in wet areas of the UK to hot, dry climates in Africa. Cob is more structurally sound, too. Both are particularly suited for regions that experience a lot of inclement weather and earthquakes.

A downside of working with cob is that it can be quite labor- and time-intensive. Cob structures will also need time to properly cure and dry. Adobe is quicker to work with after the bricks have been dried.  A very good mix of natural building materials would be straw bale exterior walls and cob/adobe interior walls.

 

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3. Earth Bags

Earth bags, or sand bags are a great option for building a low cost off-grid home.

Sometimes called sand bags, are another way to build a solid, off-grid home. They are not as popular as some other natural building materials but are worth exploring. Using earth bags is similar to cob in the sense that you don’t really need special skills or tools. You’re essentially filling bags with earth or sand, stacking them like bricks to form your walls and tamping them down.

Earth-bag buildings are resistant to fires and to many natural disasters like flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes. Due to the density and materials filling the bags, rodents will not be a concern, which is a worry some people have about straw bale buildings. For the most moisture resistant building, use polypropylene bags, but you can really use any type of recycled bag for building, which naturally helps reduce waste.

Since bags are being used, the structure won’t be totally biodegradable. There is a lot of labor involved when using earth bags. Moving buckets of earth, filling bags and especially stacking can be very tiring. You will definitely want the help of a team of people if you plan to get the building done in a timely fashion.

 

In Conclusion

These three building alternatives are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what inexpensive materials are out there for building. There are a ton of resources on the Internet about using natural or alternatives materials for building homes. Homes made from natural or recycled materials have a lot of character, and when built well will outlast pretty much any traditionally built home. They offer far superior insulation and less negative impact on the environment. Using natural materials also eliminates the dangers of toxins that are so prevalent in traditional building materials.

Do you have experience building homes with alternative materials or have plans to do so? Please share your stories and any ideas for inexpensive housing materials in the comment section below.

 

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Everything You’ve Heard About Stockpiling Ammo Is Wrong

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 15:00

Are you stockpiling ammo?

Amongst all the critical supplies that survivalists stockpile, there is nothing more controversial than ammunition.

When it comes to food and water, you never hear someone saying, “That’s too much.” But you can hear that with ammo. You can also hear a lot of people spouting off about how you need 10,000 rounds, without a whole lot of justification for it.

Part of the problem, as with everything else in preparing for an uncertain future, is that none of us really know what we need. We’re trying to define how much inventory to invest in, without really thinking it through and determining how we’ll use it. In order to fully understand how much ammo we need, we also need to develop a plan for how we will use our firearms.

Of course, there are many preppers who have made a life out of collecting firearms, too. While I can fully understand the fascination with guns and the desire to have lots of them, I can’t really say that buying the largest gun safe you can find and filling it up with guns is really a necessity.

 

How Much Is Enough When Stockpiling Ammo?

So, let’s start out by talking about how many guns is enough. We need to determine that in order to know how much ammo we’ll need for those guns. There are two basic purposes for which you’ll need guns in any disaster situation. They are:

  • Defense
  • Hunting

Everything You’ve Heard About Stockpiling Ammo Is Wrong

You need to decide what sorts of guns you’re going to have on-hand for each of those purposes. In some cases, you may decide that you can use a gun for both purposes. A great example of this would be an AR-15. You could use that for both defense and hunting. If you have it chambered for .223 and buy a .22 long rifle adapter kit for it (new bolt and magazine), you could even use it for hunting.

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Likewise, a shotgun can be used for both purposes, although you are limited in range with a shotgun. Nevertheless, the actual gun that each member of your party is going to use in a survival situation should be decided. Those are the guns they should practice with and those are the guns you need to concern yourself about stockpiling ammo for.

Each member of your party needs a long gun (rifle or shotgun) and a pistol. As one firearm instructor so aptly put it, “A pistol is what you use to fight with, while you’re making your way to your rifle.” The idea here is that the pistol is always on your person, while you might be forced to put the rifle down, in order to accomplish some tasks.

If each family member is a shooter (and they should be), then you need one long gun and one pistol for each.

 

Now, on to Ammo

Almost every gun owner has some kind of stockpiled ammo

If you have more guns than those mentioned above, then the amount of ammo that you have for the “extra” guns doesn’t really matter. You’ve already decided which guns you’re going to use, so those guns will only be used if a straggler joins your party or you break or lose one of your primary firearms.

We’re going to look at the two uses of those guns separately, specifically in the sense of determining how much we need when stockpiling ammo and then add them together. Keep in mind that you don’t need hunting ammo for a gun that’s not going to be used for hunting. That would just be extra ammo and an extra expense.

 

Defensive Ammo

Home defense is where people really go crazy on ammunition purchases. But is that realistic? When infantry soldiers go off to battle, they carry what is known as a “basic combat load.” That’s the amount of ammo that they are expected to use in one day’s fighting. Do you really think you’re going to use more ammo than an infantry soldier?

The basic load of rifle ammunition for an infantry soldier is 210 rounds. That’s seven, 30-round magazines. One is in their rifle and the others are in ammo pouches on their chest rig. For those who carry a pistol (usually rear area troops and upper level officers), they carry three magazines’ worth. You should have ammo for both, as you should be carrying both.

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Okay, so if we use that as a basis, then how many basic loads of ammo do you need? This is subject to argument, but I seriously doubt that any of us are going to use more than two. If you survive through that much fighting, you’re amazing. Most of us will probably die long before we reach that point.

The other issue here is portability. Ammo is heavy. If you’re “bugging out,” you probably won’t be able to take more than two basic loads with you — one on your person and another in your vehicle. Once again, if you survive through that much fighting, you’re simply amazing.

 

Hunting Ammo

We could actually end up using more ammo for hunting than we will for defense, in some situations. A lot will depend on your specific survival plans. If you are planning on staying in your home during a crisis, you’re probably not going to use a lot of ammo hunting. But if you are planning on living off the land, in some cabin in the woods, then you may actually go through a lot of ammo. But there are few who fall into that category.

The only way that hunting will be a realistic possibility for most of us is if we live someplace where we have woods within walking distance of our home. Otherwise, without gasoline, we probably won’t be able to go hunting at all.

Everything You’ve Heard About Stockpiling Ammo Is Wrong

Now, the next question is how much ammo do you use hunting? When I go, that’s limited to two or three rounds, maybe only one. Unless I’m bird hunting, when I might actually use as many as six. So, you really don’t need a lot of rounds of ammo for each hunting trip.

Start by figuring out your worst-case scenario for how long you’re expecting to be in survival mode. Based on that, how often will you go hunting? Let’s say two or three times per week. So, if you’re using three rounds of ammo per hunt and hunting three times per week, you’re going to need an absolute maximum of 365 rounds of ammo to survive a year. I bet it will actually be much less than that.

 

Putting it Together

Okay, so let’s put this all together. As an example, let’s say you’ve got an AR-15, which is your primary defense and hunting weapon, and you’re carrying a 9mm Glock as your sidearm. Two basic loads of ammo for your AR-15 is 420 rounds. Plus a year’s worth of hunting at a maximum of 365 rounds. That makes a total of 785 rounds. Then you need 102 rounds of 9mm for the two basic loads to fill the three magazines for your Glock.

For people in your family who are not going to be hunting, you can forget about the ammo for them to hunt. They’ll only need the two basic loads. That’s a whole lot less ammo than you need. For that matter, if you have others who do hunt, then you won’t have to hunt as much, so you’re still looking at only 365 rounds to take care of the year.

This means that for a family of four, all of whom are shooters, you need 2,453 total rounds of ammunition for rifles and pistols, in order to be ready to survive for a year. That’s a far cry from the 10,000 rounds that a lot of people are saying.

Of course, if having that 10,000 rounds gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, then buy them, assuming you have enough money for that much. But don’t feel like you have to, just because someone set up an arbitrary number and a lot of others have repeated it.

Keep in mind that these figures are only for surviving. They do not include anything for training. That’s another issue entirely. You can go through a lot of ammo learning to shoot. But then, those aren’t rounds that you need to stockpile for survival; those are rounds that you’d better expend before it becomes time to survive, or you’re going to be in a world of hurt.

Do you agree or disagree on stockpiling ammo? How much ammo should you stockpile? Share your thoughts in the section below:

 

 

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