Survival News

The Complications of Bariatric Weight-Loss Surgery

Nutrition Video - Mon, 11/15/2021 - 06:50
The extent of risk from bariatric weight-loss surgery may depend on the skill of the surgeon.

Healthy Low Carb Vegetable Chow Mein

Real Food RN - Mon, 11/15/2021 - 05:03

A healthy and tasty classic Chinese dish where you can add all your favorite veggies to get more vegetables into your diet. It has all the flavor and very low carbs.

The post Healthy Low Carb Vegetable Chow Mein appeared first on Real Food RN.

Waffle Gardens

No Tech Mag - Sun, 11/14/2021 - 07:42

Historic Zuni waffle gardens, circa 1919. (Photo courtesy of Kirk Bemis)

For the past 64 years, Jim Enote has planted a waffle garden, sunken garden beds enclosed by clay-heavy walls that he learned to build from his grandmother. This year, he planted onions and chiles, which he waters from a nearby stream. It’s an Indigenous farming tradition suited for the semi-arid, high-altitude desert of the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, where waffle gardens have long flourished and Enote has farmed since childhood.

“They are the inverse of raised beds, and for an area where it is more arid, they’re actually very efficient at conserving water,” said Enote, who leads the Colorado Plateau Foundation to protect Indigenous land, traditions, and water. Each interior cell of the waffle covers about a square foot of land, just below ground-level, and the raised, mounded earthen walls are designed to help keep moisture in the soil.

Read more: The Resurgence of Waffle Gardens Is Helping Indigenous Farmers Grow Food with Less Water, Greta Moran, Civil Eats, October 2021.

How To Create A Small Cabin With Big Space – The Frontier Cabin Project!

Old World Garden - Sun, 11/14/2021 - 07:35

One of the most exciting projects at our new farm is the building of our Frontier cabin – and even though it has just 524 square feet of living space, …

The post How To Create A Small Cabin With Big Space – The Frontier Cabin Project! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

How Much Does It Cost to be a Character from James Rawles’ Book, Patriots?

Organic Prepper - Sat, 11/13/2021 - 06:42
by Aden Tate By the author of The Faithful Prepper and  Zombie Choices

Give the man his due. Rawles not only started the blogosphere off with family prepper and survival … Read the rest

The post How Much Does It Cost to be a Character from James Rawles’ Book, Patriots? appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

6 Healing Herbs You Should Know About

Insteading - Fri, 11/12/2021 - 16:07

Of the thousands of plants growing wild in nature, most are considered common weeds. However, many of these plants have healing, therapeutic properties. 

When out exploring nature, don’t be too quick to dismiss a plant as just another wildflower or common weed. Mountain mint, dandelion, burdock root, Oregon grape root, willow, plantain, arnica, chickweed, calendula, chamomile, and yarrow all offer health benefits. These common woodland plants are among the many medicinal plants found in Mother Nature’s medicine chest. 

Let’s take a look at some of those herbs that you can make use of.

Calendula Photo by Oksana Gogu on Unsplash

An ointment crafted from calendula (Calendula officinalis) applied to the skin relieves pain and reduces inflammation from leg ulcers, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. Calendula, also known as pot marigold, also speeds the healing process of bites, cuts, and sore, dry skin. When preparing a salve with calendula as the featured herb, add antiseptic properties by adding tea tree or thyme essential oils. To craft a drawing ointment, blend in powdered marshmallow root or powdered slippery elm. 

Calendula grows well in a full sun location but manages fine in partial shade. Cut back the plants to encourage flower production. Once established, it self-sows liberally. Calendula is an ideal plant for the homestead herb garden, thriving in almost any type of soil in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 2 through 11. 

St. John’s WortPhoto by Lex Melony on Unsplash

St. John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum) is a compact, dense small shrub. Slow growing, it reaches a mature height of 3 feet. The plant presents upright branches with exfoliating reddish-purple bark. The leaves are deep blue-green. The feathery-textured foliage turns a brilliant yellow in the fall. In late spring and early summer, the hardy little shrubs display an abundance of golden yellow flower clusters. 

A healing herbal ointment that includes St. John’s wort acts as an analgesic, helping to reduce nerve pain. The healing properties in St. John’s wort help soothe pain and encourage the healing of cuts, scrapes, burns, and bites. To infuse the ointment with analgesic properties, add clove essential oil. 

Low maintenance and eye-catching, it is fabulous when used about the homestead as a ground cover in a rock garden. An excellent plant to control erosion, Saint John’s wort tolerates drought, poor soil, heat, and shade. 

Related Post: Homestead Stories: St. Benedict’s Herb

Oregon GrapeMahonia nervosa / Wikimedia Commons

A member of the plant family Berberidaceae, Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), also known as Oregon grape holly, blue barberry, or Oregon barberry, flourishes through the northwestern portion of the United States. A low-growing, evergreen vining plant, Oregon grape presents deep green holly-like leaves that turn a brilliant reddish-orange in autumn. During the cold days of winter, the leaves take on a deep burgundy color in striking contrast against a snowy landscape. Oregon grape grows best in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 9. Drought-tolerant and disease resistant, Oregon grape thrives in sunshine or shade and does well in poor soil. 

There are two different types of Oregon grape: A dwarf, low-growing groundcover, and a shrub-like bush that reaches up to 9 feet tall at maturity. In early spring, both varieties display an abundance of bright yellow flowers followed by a tart, deep purple, edible fruit. Oregon grape provides habitat and food for songbirds and other wildlife. 

Oregon grape proves useful as a digestive stimulant. The hardy perennial plant presents anti-microbial, -fungal, -bacterial, -inflammatory, and -parasitic properties. Traditionally the little plant has been used for a diverse array of medical maladies including gastrointestinal issues (including giardia, an infectious type of diarrhea) as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of eczema and psoriasis, as well as proving useful in the treatment of eye infections, athlete’s foot, acne, and other skin irritations. 

Mountain MintOregon Department of Agriculture // flickr

Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), also known as short-tooth mint, is a low-growing mint native to the eastern portion of the United States. Found growing in open pastures, alpine meadows, and low woodlands, the hardy perennial plant is an excellent ground cover that spreads by rhizomes. Drought-tolerant mountain mint grows best in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 11. You can start the tough little plant from seed or rhizomes. 

Mountain mint repels deer, rabbits, and leaf-chewing insects. They can’t stand the taste or smell of it. The plant is useful around the homestead for planting in areas where deer tend to browse your favorite perennials. Mountain mint can be planted as a border around flowerbeds or as an underplanting around fruit trees. The herbaceous perennial does best in full sun but is tolerant of shade. 

The plant presents a pungent odor similar to spearmint when crushed. The dark green leaves edged in silver are heart-shaped, and about 2 inches long. In summer, mountain mint displays deep pink, tubular-shaped flowers attractive to bees and butterflies. Mountain mint is an important plant in northeastern butterfly gardens. 

The fragrant ground cover is not invasive. When planted in mass, the densely leafed mountain mint’s silvery brackets give the entire mass planting the appearance of being drifted with light snowfall. Pruning the roots in early spring with a spade prevents mountain mint from spreading. 

Indigenous peoples gathered the leaves for preparing a medicinal, mild-tasting tea that proved effective in treating stomach distress, ulcers, fevers, and colds. Mountain mint is also used as a culinary herb to enhance the flavor of sweet and savory dishes. 

Dried mountain mint is a primary ingredient in many smoking blends. When blended with dried mullein weed, bunchberry leaves, and a pinch of tobacco, and then rolled as a cigarette or placed in a pipe, Mountain mint contributes to a smooth, flavorful smoke that is used to relieve migraine headaches and help calm the spirit and alleviate stress. 

When wild-harvested plants are used as the primary herb or infused together with garden herbs and essential oils in a creamy herbal ointment, they bring healing relief to dry, rough skin and chapped lips, relieve muscle pain, help heal cuts, insect bites, and allergy irritations. 

Mullein WeedJohn Munt // flickr

Mullein is an herbaceous biennial that grows leaves during the first year and then flowers and dies the second year’s growth. During the first year, it can produce 18- to 20-inch wooly-gray leaves that form giant rosettes. The thick wooly leaves were used to wrap food to prevent spoilage. 

Mullein weed (Verbascum thapsus) found in open meadows, in open woodlands, roadside ditches, paddocks, pastures, and homestead gardens throughout the United States, is a key ingredient in a great many herbal remedies. The healing oil is used to treat earaches, and the stalks of the plant are bound into bundles for torches. Historically, the tenacious wildflower’s leaves were smoked to relieve lung congestion and to induce a pain-relieving euphoria. The leaves were also boiled to release essential oils that were skimmed off the top of the water when it cooled.

The dried flowers were reserved for a potent tea to treat stomach disorders, coughs, colds, dysentery, relieve melancholy, and restore energy. 

Burdockgailhampshire // flickr

A long-prized herb widely used in Western herbology, burdock root demonstrates proven efficiency as a blood purifier or blood cleanser, especially useful in healing skin infections and disorders and for overall optimum skin health. Burdock (Arctium minus), a member of the plant family Asteraceae is native to Europe and Asia, but several species valued for burdocks’ potent diuretic, detoxifying, and diaphoretic properties have been introduced worldwide. Burdock thrives in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 9. 

A recent research study into the medicinal benefits of burdock revealed antibiotic activity generated by the presence of as many as 14 different polyacetylene compounds found in the fresh root. Two of these compounds possess fungistatic and bacteriostatic properties. 

In ancient Chinese medicine traditions, burdock seeds (known as Niu Bang Zi) are added to boiling water and allowed to steep to a strong and flavorful tea used to treat stomach distress and chronic constipation. 

Burdock is also included as the main ingredient in essiac tea, a formula used by cancer patients worldwide as an herbal alternative treatment for cancer. It is also a primary ingredient in Hoxsey tea, another widely used herbal anticancer brew.

Bur oil, also known as burdock root oil extract, is used throughout Europe as an itch relieving treatment for dandruff and as a preventative for hair loss. Burdock oil is a rich source of phytosterols, and essential fatty acids said to enhance hair shine, body, and strength by promoting a healthy scalp and improved hair growth while it offers immediate relief from a dry, itchy scalp.

The large leaves of the herbaceous perennial reach up to 30 inches long. Blooming from early July through August, burdock flowers provide essential nectar and pollen for honeybees. 

Be On The Lookout

Visit your local county extension agent for assistance in identifying wild medicinal plants native to your local area. These natural healing herbs are excellent additions to the homestead herb garden or disperse across meadows and drainages. When wild harvesting, do so away from roadways to avoid gathering plants that may have been sprayed with herbicides. 


How to Increase Your Productivity with CBD Products?

Off The Grid News - Fri, 11/12/2021 - 07:45

For many people, the idea of ​​increasing their productivity with cannabis is similar to drinking alcohol to make good decisions, but you might be surprised! Great people have used cannabis for many years, not only for relaxation after a working day. In fact, some cannabis users actually use it to be more productive. In this article, we’re going to explore how people use CBD products to increase their productivity.

Using Sativa to boost productivity

If you are new to cannabis or have never used it, you should know that Sativa is the cannabis equivalent of a good cup of coffee. This is a cannabis variety known for its distinctive energizing properties. Since Sativa is known for its energy boosts, it is not a surprise that it can help you be more productive. Just like you can enjoy great tea for breakfast or sip your favorite frappuccino, Sativa can improve your mood throughout the day. Fortunately, the Delta-8 infused flower can be found online.

​​ Except for simply boosting your energy, a good Sativa can actually help you keep focused. If you are prone to overstimulation or anxiety under heavy loads, you may just need something to calm you down, so you can stop focusing on the deadline instead of working.

Using marijuana outside the office

Using marijuana in the evening does not reduce productivity at work the next day, according to new research published in the journal Group and Organizational Management. For their study, researchers at San Diego State University, California, examined the relationship between three time-of-day cannabis consumption rates and five forms of workplace productivity, using data from 281 employees and their line managers.


The results showed that cannabis use after work was neither positively nor negatively associated with any form of productivity. “The results are obviously important to scientists and organizations who believe that any cannabis use negatively affects workplace behavior,” lead author and management professor Dr. Jeremy Bernert said in a statement. “Our research shows that there is no evidence that post-work use compromises productivity as judged by a line manager.”

Bernert suggests that off-hours cannabis use may even bring some work-related benefits, as it can help reduce stress. Alcohol has the opposite effect. Hangovers do affect employee performance. Smoking cannabis helps people relax, which means that the effect can be “a wonderful soothing after a busy day.”

In Conclusion

Cannabis is an incredibly powerful tool that can make wonders if you treat it with the proper respect. The limits are different for everyone, so you have to define them for yourself. With little experiments, you might find that your most productive personality is just a couple of milligrams away. Our advice is to listen to your body. Sometimes you can use cannabis, sometimes you shouldn’t. Anyway, with limited use, it can support you throughout the day.


The post How to Increase Your Productivity with CBD Products? appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Flashback Friday: Best Supplements for Prostate Cancer

Nutrition Video - Fri, 11/12/2021 - 06:50
What would happen if you secretly gave cancer patients four of the healthiest foods?

Who Will Take Care of Extended Family Members Post-Disaster?

Organic Prepper - Fri, 11/12/2021 - 06:42
by Aden Tate

Have you thought about who will take care of extended family members, post-disaster? If you are the one who will be caring for them, have you thought … Read the rest

The post Who Will Take Care of Extended Family Members Post-Disaster? appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

What To Do With A Cover Crop After Planting – Fall, Winter & Spring Care!

Old World Garden - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 08:07

When it comes to caring for your garden’s cover crop after planting, a few simple tips can go a long way towards getting the most from your fall planting efforts. …

The post What To Do With A Cover Crop After Planting – Fall, Winter & Spring Care! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

How to Use a Compass and a Map (More Awesomely Known as Shooting an Azimuth)

Organic Prepper - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 07:03
by Aden Tate

There are many ways to navigate, but for survival and true self-reliance, an excellent skill to have is the knowledge of how to shoot an … Read the rest

The post How to Use a Compass and a Map (More Awesomely Known as Shooting an Azimuth) appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Millions of Years of Healthy Life Lost Due to Cannabis

Nutrition blog - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 07:00

Every year, cannabis is estimated to result in two million years of healthy life lost due to disability. How much is that compared with alcohol and tobacco?

“The popular notion seems to be that marijuana is a harmless pleasure,” but what are the potential adverse effects of marijuana use? That’s not an easy question to answer, as I discuss in my video Does Marijuana Cause Health Problems?.

Most studies to date have been “cross-sectional or rely on self-reported health.” Cross-sectional studies are snapshots in time, so you don’t know which came first: Are people sick because they’re smoking marijuana, or are they smoking marijuana because they’re sick? If you ask people how they are feeling, pot smokers may say, “I feel great!” even if they are actually suffering from a health problem. There have been few longitudinal studies—those conducted over a period of time—using objective measures of health…until now.

More than a thousand individuals were followed from birth to age 38. Researchers tested associations between cannabis use over decades and “multiple domains of physical health,” and looked at 12 health outcomes. Tobacco use was associated with worse health for 8 of the 12 health outcomes, from impaired lung function to systemic inflammation and metabolic derangements. Cannabis use, on the other hand, was associated with…gum disease. That’s it? Indeed, “cannabis use was unrelated to other physical health problems.” 

Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and there may be other dental health problems associated with smoking marijuana, but when cannabis is described as “nefarious,” the first thing to come to mind is probably not gingivitis.

Is it possible that cannabis users are living healthier-than-average lifestyles to counteract the effects of the drug? Are they eating more fruits and vegetables, for example, or maybe drinking less alcohol? No, and neither are pot smokers exercising more. So, the “absence of associations between cannabis use and poor physical midlife health could not be attributed to better initial health, more physical activity, better diet, or less alcohol abuse.” Maybe marijuana just isn’t that bad. 

Heroin use and cocaine use may increase your risk of dying, but no association was found between mortality and marijuana. However, the researchers only followed the subjects until age 38. To find out what happens after that, we have to turn to Sweden, where they recently published the longest study ever on cannabis and mortality. Fifty thousand men were followed “up to around age 60.” About 30 years ago, when they first reported on this cohort, no significant excess mortality was found among cannabis users, or “abusers,” as they called them. But, back then, the men were in their thirties, as in the other study. What happens when you follow them past middle age, “when the health-related detrimental effects” might begin to emerge? Those with a history of heavy cannabis use did end up having “a significantly higher risk of death,” a 40 percent higher risk of dying prematurely. 

But, I thought cannabis didn’t kill. As you can see at 3:20 in my video, cocaine kills thousands of Americans every year, alcohol kills tens of thousands, and tobacco breaks the graph, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year—but marijuana doesn’t even make it onto the graph.

What they were referring to, though, is that “no deaths have been directly attributed to the acute physical toxicity of cannabis.” When a 19 year old eats a cannabis cookie and then jumps off a fourth-floor balcony, the direct cause of death—trauma—is attributed to the fall, but that doesn’t mean cannabis didn’t contribute.

It’s true that people don’t directly overdose on cannabis as you can with opiates, which can shut down your breathing. Unlike many pharmaceuticals, for which a harmful dose may be just a few times larger than a prescribed dose, the therapeutic index for cannabis is 40,000 to 1. Does that mean you could smoke 40,000 joints without overdosing? No. In fact, you may be able to smoke two million joints before a lethal overdose. Cannabis use contributes more to disease than death, in part because people aren’t injecting it, but the health-related harms of cannabis weren’t quantified on a global scale until 2013.

As you can see at 4:47 in my video, cannabis is estimated to result in two million years of healthy life lost due to disability every year. Now, that is tiny compared with the hundred million years or so attributed to alcohol or tobacco use, but it still results in a lot of pain and suffering. But what about the gum disease study I discussed earlier? I thought the only physical health problems associated with cannabis use were dental in nature. In that study, the researchers were looking at a specific set of health concerns and emphasized that the periodontal problems were in addition to all the other potential issues, such as increased risk of accidents and injuries, bronchitis, heart attacks and strokes, possible infectious diseases, and cancer, as well as mental health concerns. As a more direct cause of death, though, marijuana may be suspected in only hundreds of deaths over an eight-year period, whereas a single pharmaceutical drug—Viagra—was involved in thousands.


  • A longitudinal study conducted over a period of time and using objective health measures followed more than a thousand individuals from birth to age 38. Researchers found that tobacco use was linked with worse health for 8 of the 12 health outcomes assessed, such as impaired lung function and systemic inflammation, whereas cannabis use was associated only with gum disease and was determined to be unrelated to other physical health problems.
  • Cannabis users were not found to be living healthier-than-average lifestyles, so this absence of a link between marijuana use and poor physical midlife health couldn’t be attributed to better initial health, more exercise, a healthier diet, or less alcohol consumption.
  • The longest study ever on cannabis and mortality came out of Sweden, where researchers followed 50,000 men up to around age 60. They first reported on the subjects when they were around 30 years old and found no significant excess mortality among cannabis users. Around age 60, however, those with a history of heavy marijuana use had a 40 percent higher risk of dying prematurely.
  • Why, then, does marijuana have the reputation of not being a killer? Cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco have all been directly linked to deaths, but not marijuana. That is because deaths have not been directly attributed to “the acute physical toxicity of cannabis”—but that doesn’t mean marijuana didn’t contribute to an accident occurring after cannabis use, for example.
  • Users don’t overdose on cannabis as they can with opiates, for instance, but marijuana use does contribute to disease. It’s been estimated that cannabis use results in two million years of healthy life lost due to disability every year.

If you want to take a deep dive into the cannabis research, I made a whole DVD you may be interested in. See Cannabis: What Does the Science Say.

My other videos on cannabis include:

The cannabis issue reminds me of a similar clash of politics and commercial interests in the cell phone debate. If you’re interested, check out my videos Does Cell Phone Radiation Cause Cancer? and Cell Phone Brain Tumor Risk?.

You might also want to check out some of my videos on smoking:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

How I Grow Watermelons

David the Good - Thu, 11/11/2021 - 05:45

How I Grow Watermelons – a post by Ezekiel Good

I grew my first watermelons when I was six or seven years old. I was at our local farm store with my dad, and I suddenly saw a rack of seeds in a corner. A walked over and found my mom’s favorite variety of watermelon seeds: Charleston Gray.

“Hey dad.” I said. “Can I have these?”

“What are they?” he responded.


And that was how I got my first watermelon seeds.

Of course, my dad being the best gardener in the country, he encouraged us to plant our own garden beds. As soon as we got home I planted my new watermelon seeds and within the week they were sprouting all over my garden.

Unfortunately that episode did not turn out too well, because I planted them too near the time of frost, and we had to pull them up. But as my dad says, you have to fail until you succeed.

How to Grow Watermelons

I have now grown a lot more watermelons, and so I am not getting that kind of failure any more.

A 10lb watermelon I grew in the Caribbean

Here’s how I grow them. All you have to do is go to a farm store during the middle of February, and they should have watermelon seeds in stock. Buy a few packages, take them home and plant them when most of the risk of frost is over, although don’t plant them too late, or the pests will get them.

Make mounds about 6′ apart in all directions. Put in a handful of fertilizer, compost, or Steve’s Mix when you make the mound. Then plant four seeds in each mound.

Seeds usually come up in a week or two, depending on how cold it is outside. If it’s still chilly, they won’t come up for a while, and if they do come up, they won’t grow fast. Watermelons like warm weather!

I water them daily when they are babies, but when they are big I water about twice a week. If you water too much when they’re fruiting they will be watered down and will be less sweet.

In eighty to a hundred days you should have some incredibly sweet and juicy watermelons.

Once you learn how to grow watermelons, you’ll be able to truly enjoy summer!

Once harvested you can cut them up and put them with some other fruit in a bowl, instantly making some of the best fruit salad you’ve ever tasted.

Or you can just chop watermelon into triangles and eat it by itself, either way they will be some amazing fruit.

Watermelons are pretty easy to grow, although not as easy as potatoes, turnips, cabbages, or their cousins the pumpkins.

The Downsides to Watermelons

Yet there is a problem with watermelons.

You have to supply watermelons with the right amount of lime, a common fertilizer you can buy at any farm store, or else the melons will get blossom-end rot, which makes your watermelons turn black and rot off the vine. Blossom-end rot can also happen if you have alternating periods of wet and dry weather, as the fruit is trying to grow fast but is being held back by drought, causing the roots to be unable to get enough calcium to the melon.

Rot issues may also happen if melons are lying on very damp soil, so I suggest creating drainage ditches if your area is prone to flooding. You can also lay cardboard down to keep the melons from sitting right on the soil.

Another problem with watermelons is that they do not store well. You can only leave them on the counter for about five days until they start rotting.

Just Grow Watermelons!

Don’t let these issues get in the way of you growing your own watermelons!

Why would you grow zuc—– or eggplant when you could grow watermelon? Or basically anything else?

Watermelons refresh you at the hottest time of day, they are deliciously crisp and sweet, the seeds are cheap and they are easy to grow.

The post How I Grow Watermelons appeared first on The Survival Gardener.

Ethically Harvesting & Processing Aloe Vera

Insteading - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 17:20

Had fun in the sun and now your skin is burned? Do you deal with irritating skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema? Are you constipated or have digestive issues? What about dental plaque? Do you have buildup?

The list could go on, but let’s pause here and give a grand and beautiful solution that may help alleviate many of these issues for you … Aloe vera!

Aloe Vera // Elizabeth Buttram

Aloe vera is a popular and cherished plant for a variety of reasons. There are many medicinal uses of this plant with the most common and well-known being a relief for sunburnt skin. Aloe vera is also aesthetically pleasing, and many like to have it around to admire. Its plump leaves (that range from spotted yellow all the way to dark green) are beautiful, and the flower stalks that Aloe vera produces are equally mesmerizing. Not to mention, it’s easy to grow indoors and out with its size varying according to the container it’s growing in.

Many are unaware of Aloe vera’s uses and benefits outside of sunburn topical gel, and equally unaware of how to harvest this gel in order to use it.

Ethical harvest is the most important part of this article, and the first step in this process. Let’s start there.

Ethical Aloe Vera HarvestingWhat Is Ethical Harvesting?

This term means that the plant (regardless of species) is being harvested in a responsible and sustainable way, which often means the environmental impacts are next to none, or minimized as much as possible. For the purposes of this topic, it means the plant undergoes as little harm as possible from the process of harvesting, and therefore, is ensured to live on and keep thriving after the fact. After all, you can’t keep harvesting Aloe vera gel if the plant dies.

Thriving Aloe Vera // Elizabeth ButtramHow Does One Ethically Harvest From an Aloe Vera Plant?

To ethically harvest, you make sure to only harvest what the plant is capable of giving without killing it or causing it to become fatally ill. When harvesting from an Aloe vera plant, you first examine the size of the plant.

  • If you deem the plant to be large and abundant, you may harvest upward of 3 to 4 entire leaves at once.
  • However, if you find the plant to be rather small, you may only take one whole leaf, or none at all.
  • Unfortunately, there is no scientific or mathematical formula to follow here and it truly requires your best judgement. Hopefully the following pictures will help you better understand.

Related Post: How To Grow Healthy Aloe Vera

Primarily Solid Green Leaves With Yellow Serrated Edges // Elizabeth Buttram

If you have a larger Aloe vera and you can harvest more leaves, ensure that you are taking leaves from multiple sides of the plant. You don’t want to take four leaves from the same section of the plant as this greatly increases the chances of infection. It is easier for the plant to lose leaves from multiple areas and helps minimize the chances of infection and accelerate healing.

If you have a large Aloe vera, you may believe you can take more than four leaves, and this may be true. However, I would advise taking leaves on a rotation and harvesting four leaves the first day, and (after the plant has had a few days to recover and close off the fresh wounds from where you harvested) then take more. This allows the plant to undergo less stress and ensures an easier time healing.

Another factor involved when selecting leaves to harvest is the actual size of the leaves. Having a large Aloe plant doesn’t necessarily mean the leaves are ready to be harvested. Generally, younger leaves will have light-colored streaks or spots on them, while older leaves will be solid in color, or fading from light to dark with different shades of greens and yellows. You want to avoid any leaves that still have the spotting or streaking; these leaves are too young to harvest.

Next, you are looking for leaves that are both wide and thick. The width should ideally be 3 plus finger-widths wide, and the thickness has no specified perimeters except there should be a “squish factor.” If you lightly squeeze the leaf, it should be soft and allow you to squish it a little. This means it is ready and ripe enough to be harvested. If it is hard, and you are unable to squish it without a more forceful squeeze, it is not ripe enough to be harvested. Think about a mango or avocado, you don’t want to eat hard mangoes or avocados – plump and squishy ones are what you want.

Aloe Vera Leaf That Is Under Recommendation Size to Be Harvested // Elizabeth Buttram

Another aspect of ethically harvesting to help minimize harm is that you harvest with a clean tool, and make a clean, straight cut at the base of the leaf as close to the center of the plant as you can get. Jagged cuts do not allow for optimal recovery, just as smooth cuts on human skin tend to heal better and quicker than jagged ones (same same, but different).

Previously Harvested Leaf Wound Healing and Example of Aloe Vera Leaf Being 3 Plus Finger-Widths Wide // Elizabeth Buttram

You will find when you harvest Aloe vera that it actually cuts easily, and therefore, any smooth, clean tool can work well to do this. No special tools needed. Cutting as close as possible to the base of the leaf you to get the most gel you can, as larger quantities of gel are found lower down in the leaf.

Immediately after harvesting the leaves, you should place them so the base is facing down. Aloe vera contains aloin, which is a quite bitter and potent natural laxative I would advise against ingesting. You will notice after you harvest the Aloe vera that yellow liquid will begin draining out. This is the aloin.

Placing the leaves with the base down helps the aloin to drain. I have placed them on rocks with minimal dirt present, hung them on clothes lines, put them in large containers to help them stay standing (sometimes, containers with water). The water seems to help pull the aloin out quicker. Regardless, allow the Aloe vera to drain for at least 30 minutes.

Aloe Vera Leaves Propped up Inside Pot Filled With Water to Allow Aloin to Drain // Elizabeth ButtramProcessing Aloe Vera

Next, prepare to begin processing the Aloe vera leaves and harvest the gel. To do this, ensure you have these items present.

  • Cutting board or a surface that’s equivalent
  • Sharp, nonserrated knife
  • Large bowl filled with water
  • Sink/drainage/rinsing station
  • Compost bin
  • Spoon
1. Chopping the tips

Chop off the tip of the Aloe vera leaf, as well as the base where the initial cut was made (residual aloin that has not drained will usually stick here). Discard top and bottom in the compost bin.

Tip of Aloe Vera Leaf Being Cut Off // Elizabeth ButtramBottom of Aloe Vera Leaf Being Cut Off // Elizabeth ButtramTop and Bottom of Aloe Vera Leaf Removed // Elizabeth Buttram2. Section the leaf

Cut the leaf into 2 or 3 sections, depending on the length of the leaf (use your best judgment, as always).

Leaves Cut Into Equal Sections // Elizabeth Buttram3. Cut the serrated edges

Cut off the serrated edges, being careful to cut as close to the edge as possible. This is in an effort to keep as much of the Aloe vera gel in the leaf as possible.

Serrated Leaf Edges Removed // Elizabeth Buttram4.Slice the layer of green skin off the flat side

You will notice the bottom side of the leaf is smooth, while the top side that faces the sun is rounded. Slice the layer of green skin off the flat side, holding the leaf as seen in this picture. Try to cut as close to the green skin as possible to minimize any clear gel being cut off with the skin. Discard the skin in the compost bucket.

Flat Skin Being Peeled Back (With Use of Knife Not Seen Here) to Reveal Gel Underneath // Elizabeth Buttram5. Scrape the aloe

Using the spoon, scrape the clear Aloe vera gel off the remaining green skin.

Gel Within Leaf You Want to Scoop out With Spoon // Elizabeth Buttram

Important to note! When cutting off the bottom, flat skin, try to ensure there are no green or yellow fibers still attached to the gel. If there are, remove them from the gel as well. Likewise, when scraping gel off the remaining skin, don’t scrape so hard that the green-yellow fibers come off with it. The green-yellow fibers will contain aloin which you want to avoid as much as possible.

Another fun thing to note and try! Taste the Aloe vera gel during the process. Again, I wouldn’t recommend tasting the aloin as it is dripping, but taste the gel as you scoop it off the remaining skin. It will likely be very bitter.

The last step is simply rinsing the freshly harvested gel a few times. There will be obvious pieces of gel present, as well as essentially invisible slime. Try not to rinse the slime down the sink. The slime is good! You want to keep that.

After you have rinsed it a few times, try tasting it again (it may still be bitter). For safe measure (even if it is not bitter) allow Aloe vera to soak overnight in water in a refrigerator or closed container. Then rinse again the following morning. Continue taste testing until bitterness is gone.

Aloe Vera Hanging on a Clothes Line // Elizabeth ButtramAloe Vera Uses & Benefits

Now that you have the gel, what do you do with it? How can you use it? Why would you want to use it? What are the benefits?

There are two uses of Aloe vera gel (that I know of).

Topical Use

Because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties, Aloe vera gel is excellent in treating numerous skin ailments. It helps accelerate healing and prevent infection. You can use Aloe vera gel to treat sunburns, canker sores, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles if applied topically. Aloe vera gel may also provide temporary pain relief from sunburns and canker sores. It is said if swished in the mouth, it can help reduce dental plaque.

Essentially, once you have processed your Aloe vera gel, it is ready to be applied topically. You may prefer to blend it to help remove the larger chunks of gel leftover and allow for a smoother application. You may also choose to mix it with organic coconut oil to make a lotion.

Aloe Vera // Elizabeth ButtramIngestional Use

Because of the aloin present, Aloe vera can help alleviate digestive issues, particularly constipation. Aloin acts as a natural laxative. It is not helpful or advised to drink pure aloin. The previously described process tries to reduce the presence of aloin by repeated washings. Ingesting the final product after most of the aloin has been washed away is okay. The trace amounts of aloin can help alleviate mild constipation. Also, the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of Aloe vera gel help to provide relief from a wide variety of digestive issues. It is also said that Aloe vera can help reduce blood sugar levels.

You can ingest the processed gel as is. The taste is that of water with slight bitterness. Or, you can lightly batter it in sugar (even a lemon sugar mixture) and freeze it to have as a healthy-ish frozen treat. Personally, I have blended it and made Aloe vera mint lemonade. Blending the gel into smoothies is also a nice way to ingest it.

Aloe Vera // Elizabeth Buttram

* Not all of these uses and benefits have been FDA approved or scientifically proven, most are home remedies recommended by herbalists. They are homeopathic remedies. Try under your own advisement and risk.

I personally have tried aloe vera gel to treat sunburns and acne, and provide relief from constipation, and have found it to be helpful for all of these. While it is widely accepted that Aloe vera gel aids in sunburn relief, it is not as commonly known that it helps alleviate mild constipation issues. It could be the placebo effect of me having believed it would help, but regardless, I found it very useful.

Episode 228. A Closer Look at Hair Sheep

National Center for Appropriate Technology - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 11:25
In this episode of Voices from the Field, Margo Hale, NCAT’S Southeast Regional Director, and NCAT Agriculture Specialist Tracy Mumma discuss considerations in raising hair sheep. Both have raised hair sheep but in very different climates – Tracy in Montana and Margo in Arkansas. Because hair sheep are less common than wool sheep in many part of the country, Margo and Tracy begin by explaining what hair sheep are and go on to discuss some of the benefits of hair sheep as well as some potential pitfalls to be aware of when deciding whether a hair sheep enterprise is right...

Join the Quiet Insurrection – Epi-179 – TSP Rewind

Survival Podcast - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 09:30
Today is an episode of TSP Rewind, commercial free versions of past podcast episodes. Today’s episode was originally, Episode-1885- Join the Quiet Insurrection and originally aired on Oct 18, 2016. The following are the original show notes from that episode. … Continue reading →

Why is China So Interested in Afghanistan?

Organic Prepper - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 07:30
by Jeff Thompson

Why is China so interested in Afghanistan? Not content with buying up land and businesses in the United States and Europe, now they’re apparently ready … Read the rest

The post Why is China So Interested in Afghanistan? appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

The Mortality Rate of Bariatric Weight-Loss Surgery

Nutrition Video - Wed, 11/10/2021 - 06:50
Today, death rates after weight-loss surgery are considered to be “very low,” occurring in perhaps 1 in 300 to 1 in 500 patients on average.

Live Streaming Schedule for TSP-21 Presentations

Survival Podcast - Tue, 11/09/2021 - 14:42
We will be streaming all the class room based presentations for TSP-21 from Tuesday the 11th – Saturday the 13th.  Here is what we have coming with links to each of the YouTube Streams.  All times are CST Thursday the … Continue reading →

A Real-Life Tale of Extreme Free-Range Chickens – in a Predator-Rich Area!

David the Good - Tue, 11/09/2021 - 12:50

Yesterday I posted an article on extreme free-range chickens.

Today I’ll tell a remarkable tale of genetics, Southern ingenuity and natural selection.

An Unexpected Knock

On Halloween a man and his wife with a couple of young children came trick-or-treating at my front door. Since we are quite rural and didn’t get any visitors last Halloween, we were unprepared for trick-or-treaters.

“I don’t have any candy,” I said, “but I do have a mulberry tree I can give you.”

With that, I sent my daughter out back to get a mulberry. The children seemed a bit confused about it, but the parents just laughed and said they’d be happy to grow a mulberry. I asked if they wanted some farm eggs, too.

I knew I was running a risk here, since I (a), did not give these poor people any candy, and (b), was now offering to give them ammo.

The dad said, “Aww no, we got plenty of farm eggs.”

“What birds are you raising?” I asked.

“They’re actually my dad’s. He has a mix.”

“Do you keep them in a barn?” I asked.

“Naw, they just wander,” he said.

As I had just been talking with Florida Bullfrog about Cracker chickens and extreme free-ranging, I was intrigued. We’ve lost LOTS of chickens to predators over the years, yet here was a guy with chickens that were living in the wild and apparently producing eggs as well.

“Can I come see them?” I asked, sharing further that I’d been in a conversation with a man who was talking about the same thing his dad was doing.

“Sure,” he said, and gave me his number. “You’re welcome to come see.”

Chickens in the Wild

The following Saturday I had some time, so I called him. He said they were home and just hanging out.

“Hey Rachel,” I said. “You want to go see some chickens?”

“Sure,” she said. She grabbed a Seminole pumpkin and I brought a couple of Rocky Patel cigars to give our hosts, then we headed out the door, a couple of our children in tow. It was a cool afternoon, and the sunlight shone gold through the pines as we drove past churches and trailers, farmhouses and fields.

They lived maybe 15 minutes away from us at the end of a rural road. A red dirt driveway rolled up beside a country house with fences and outbuildings and little children playing. A fence beside the driveway held back an assortment of mixed beef cattle who were grazing contentedly on thick green pasture.

I was waved down by Jeremy, the man I’d met on Halloween. He stood with two other men in front of an open garage. All three had cans of beer in their hands, as any respectable Alabamian should on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

“Park anywhere,” he said, so I did, pulling up onto the grass. I was met by a pit bull puppy and a grizzled bulldog along with a baby girl with golden curls. J shook my hand and I gave him a couple of cigars. He thanked me and introduced me to his dad, a weathered fellow with a wry grin. His name was Bobby.

“I heard you were keeping chickens without a coop,” I said. “Do you do anything to protect them?”

“Naw,” Bobby said. “They take care of themselves.”

“How do you get their eggs?” I asked.

“I’ll show you a nest right now,” he said, showing me a pile of hay bales in a three-sided storage building. On top of the hay was a beautiful little nest.

“Where do they roost?” I asked.

“They go up in those trees at night,” Bobby said, pointing to some trees along the barbed wire fence behind their garage and a couple of small sheds. “Some of ’em go in the holly, some in that oak, others are up in that one. A few will go in there,” he continued, pointing to a small shed. “Here, I’ll show you.”

We walked over to the little shed. “Here’s a roost I made,” he said.

A chicken roost does not get any simpler than leaning a pallet against a wall

“I just put a pallet against the wall.”

(In the picture you can see some fencing on the edge of the building, but the front and part of the back were completely open.) 

On the other side of the little building were some low nest boxes. They were made from pine boards and were currently empty.

“A possum has been getting in here and stealing the eggs,” he said. “I gotta trap him. There was some shells in here but I guess he ate them too. They like to get the eggs.”

“This is amazing,” I said. “You have predators, but the birds are just wandering around without getting killed.”

“All kinds of predators,” Bobby said. “Hawks, owls, racoons.”

“You want a beer?” Jeremy asked, bringing a few cold cans of Natural Ice.

“Sure,” I said, accepting the can. “Thank you.”

“I throw a little grain out now and again to keep them around,” Bobby continued. “They all hang around here. Sometimes we’ll get a young rooster taking off some of the hens and starting a new flock. I’ve given flocks to all my family around here.”

“How did you get started raising birds this way,” I asked.

“I started with some Buffs,” he said. “Let them wander the yard. But they’re fat and can’t roost in the trees well.”

“Right,” I said. “They’re built for meat and eggs.”

“Too weak,” he said. “I lost half my flock to predators. But my neighbor had a game rooster.”

“Like, a fighting cock breed?” I asked.

“Yeah, a Gray. They’re good fighters.”

The young man behind him nodded. “Yeah, they’ll fly up to face height, then dive on another rooster.”

“Wow,” I said. “So they’re tough.”

“Real tough,” Bobby said. “I let them breed the Buffs and then hatched the eggs. You know those Buffs, they’re bad moms. They like to sit on a nest long enough to spoil the eggs, then abandon them.”

“Yeah, we had one that did that,” I said. “We called her the bad single mother.”

“They need some game in ’em,” he continued. “You mix them, they get tougher and they’re better mothers. So, the first year I lost half the flock, but the second year I don’t even think I lost five birds. They got tougher. They fly up into the trees and fend for themselves. Look – you see that momma with her little biddies? She’s part Buff, part game. You can see the stripes on those chicks, too. They’re half the mother, half game.”

“The other day she beat the bulldog off when he got a little too close to her biddies. She’s tough.”

I noticed she was also a good color, blending in with the ground and the woods. Her chicks were even harder to spot.

Predators and Free-Range Chickens

A couple of children rolled up on a four wheeler and introduced themselves to my kids. Most of my children joined them and headed off to go jump on a trampoline in the nearby field.

“Do you do anything to protect the mothers and chicks when the chicks are little?” Rachel asked.

“Nope,” Bobby said. “I let the weak ones get killed. Only the smart and tough ones live.”

These hens are a cross between domesticated egg-layers and game cocks. They are quick and wary – and excellent foragers.

“Do you think Leghorns could free-range like this?” one of my sons asked, getting interested in the conversation.

“No,” Bobby replied. “You know why?”

“Why?” my son replied.

“They’re white,” he said.

“Oh. So the predators will see them!”

“That’s right,” Bobby said. “They’ll pick ’em off.”

“So you don’t lose birds to predators anymore?” Rachel asked.

“Only thing that gets ’em now is an owl. One night I heard them up in the tree making a lot of noise, so I came out with my flashlight. An owl was right there on the branch next to them, right at the end of the row. They’ll grab a chicken by the neck with their claws and take him right down.”

Obviously, though, Bobby and his family weren’t  losing enough birds to make a difference. There were chickens wandering in and out of the edge of woods, over wood piles, around the out buildings and into the gloom beneath the hollies.

Unlike her Buff Orpington ancestors, this hen is wary and quick, living naturally in the forest

“How many birds do you have?” I asked.

“I got no idea,” he told me with a chuckle. “A lot.”

“And you don’t really have to feed them or anything,” I said.

“Like I said, just a little grain to keep ’em around now and again.”

I was amazed. They got plenty of eggs and spent very little to get it.

While I was there, I did my best to take pictures. It was hard to take decent shots, as the birds were wary and not interested in being anywhere close to me.

We thanked out hosts and were sent home with a 5-gallon bucket of homegrown sweet potatoes and told we could come back anytime.

More Thoughts on Extreme Free-Ranging Chickens

This, then, was the extreme free-ranging Florida Bullfrog was talking about.

He told me that in the past, his old Florida Cracker ancestors were poor and the chickens had to make economic sense or else they wouldn’t be worth keeping. They weren’t plump pets that needed to be locked in cages. They were scrappy birds, wary, wild, smart. They were fighters – often literally, as cock-fighting was a major sport until being banned in recent decades. The old lines of birds may not have been fat and may not have laid an egg every single day, but they were capable of producing meat and eggs for a farm family without needing to be pampered and fed with bagged corn and soy.

This rooster was in no mood to be photographed

In the third world, scrappy, half-wild fowl are still the norm. In Indonesia I saw chickens ranging without fences at a Lutheran school where I taught a few gardening classes. At night the birds roosted as high as sixty feet up in a huge tropical tree. Down lower their owners had put some baskets in the branches, which they told me the birds would lay eggs in during the day.

Down on the island of Grenada they called their traditional chickens “Yard Fowl.” Yard Fowl were known to be much tougher and predator-proof than the hatchery chicks that were commonly imported from Trinidad.

Grenadian “Yard Fowl” foraging in the jungle

They too would roost in trees at night. They were a common sight beside the road and scurrying about in the city, snapping up dropped food.

What does this mean for us today, as homesteaders seeking a sustainable flock?

Perhaps it means, as Florida Bullfrog said, that to deal with chicken predators we need to change our chickens.

Extreme free-range hens foraging around the edges of the farm

Seeing Bobby’s farm flock in action, I have decided to get a couple of game roosters to replace my fat, domesticated, almost flightless roosters. Some roosters with fighting cock genes, not placid domesticated egg-laying or meat bird genes.

Then, a few weeks later, I’ll hatch out the resulting eggs.

The game cocks will cross with Brown Leghorns, Production Reds, Australorps, California Whites and Buff Orpingtons.

When the chicks get big enough, I will then release them to face the predator-filled wilds of rural Alabama.

May the best birds win.



After reading this article, Jeremy texted me a shot of his dad’s chickens roosting for the night. Now those are some tough chicks!


The post A Real-Life Tale of Extreme Free-Range Chickens – in a Predator-Rich Area! appeared first on The Survival Gardener.