Archive for the ‘fire’ Category

This last weekend I took the Complete Survivor Class from Ancient Pathways.  I picked up a whole series of skills to practice. Notice I said “practice” because, good lord, just cause I did these things once doesn’t mean I am actually competent at any of them.   We set traps, snares, tracked, snacked on plants, made jerky and stared at a whole lot of poop.

The class had many manly men and two lovely ladies.  I think it is fair to say that I was generally the least competent at just about everything.  Except for smoking bowls, this I was good at, and by smoking bowls, I mean making a bowl out of fire.

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One of the first things we learned that weekend was to whittle out a spoon. Which was handy as I had forgotten to bring a spoon, and only had a fork and knife. My spoon was incompetent. I routinely watched, for the rest of the weekend, as people whittled out far superior spoons and then pitch them in the fire.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the weekend.  First, I wasn’t sure if I was in the sort of shape to survive such a thing.  Second it snowed the night before in Flagstaff.  I was not expecting snow in mid-May in Arizona.

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This had me concerned.  In assessing my clothes the first cold morning of the class I realized if the cold held I would not be able to stay warm without looking perfectly ridiculous.  First rule of survival is PMA (Postive Mental Attitude) which is hard to do when one doesn’t look good while doing it.  O.K., maybe the first rule is only the PMA part and I just added the looking good part.

The warmest thing I had was a thick wool poncho that I had bought years before in Mexico.  I was planning on using it for a blanket.  I have only worn it on stage for comedic relief,  and I am sure the ex-military men would have met it with scoff.    Luckily for me, things warmed up.

The first thing after setting up our tests was a walking tour of the property.   Tony Nester, our instructor, pointed out the various rat and mice nests around.  Of course, I had set my tent up right beside a big pack-rat’s nest.   Once he pointed it out, it was bluntly obvious.  I never moved my tent.  I figured if I had gophers in Phoenix, I could share space with a pack-rat.

Below:  My tent and pack-rat nest.

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The weekend was simply packed with new knowledge and things worth mulling over.   Here are all the shots from the weekend. As I reflect on lessons learned and go over my half-filled notebook, I will be making a series of posts about this weekend.

One of the rules or expressions among the preppers is “eat what you store and store what you eat.”  Another sentiment is “practice is better than just reading,” which I totally agree with.  With those two sentiments in mind the Survival Mom is challenging her readers this month to cook rice and beans seven days in a row.

So, I bought some dried black beans (instead of the canned ones) to see what I could do with them.  I soaked them for three and a half days, instead of overnight, because I read somewhere that will help cut down on the cooking time, which will be helpful when wood is scarce.   I did replace the water they were soaking in every day.  The water would be dyed a little less black with each replacement of water.

Soaking them so long led to a funky smell, and some scum-like stuff floating on the top of the water.  I am not sure if this would make them unsafe to eat.    An internet search gives a unclonclusive answer.

Some say that I have fermented the beans and this is good, because it makes it easier to digest the nutrients while others say that I should throw them out.

I ate them.  They tasted very bland.

Lesson learned: Stockpile spices for the apocalypse.  Because who doesn’t like a little flavor once life has become dreary!

One of the rules or expressions among the preppers is “eat what you store and store what you eat.” Another sentiment is “practice is better than just reading,” which I totally agree with. With those two ideas in mind the Survival Mom challenges her readers to a monthly challenge or skill. January’s was to bake a loaf of bread from scratch.  

Last night I was talking with my old friend “J” who is quite the foodie, and has been trying all sorts of delicious baking experiments in the last couple of years.  She commented on how she had enjoyed my solar oven posts  because she is going to build a solar oven in order to bake bread in, which I think is awesome.  I told her about the Survival Mom’s challenge because there are (currently) 71 responses to her challenge and some of them would be quite useful for my friends goal.

I did not have a lot of success with my experiments over the weekend. On Saturday I dug a shallow bath-tub size hole, put six handfuls of weeds in the hole, and covered it with clear plastic. This was my first attempt at a solar still.

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Water did collect on the bottom of the plastic, but did not drop into the collection device.  On the next attempt, I am going to put more weeds in the hole, and try to tap the plastic before I remove it. 

I was also unsuccessful at rubbing two sticks together to start a fire. I think I failed for two reasons. One: I was feeling very lazy having just dug the hole for the solar still and only tried for like 3 minutes. Second: My drill was pine. The drill has to be harder than the fireboard.  So I am going to keep my eye out for a good hard drill.

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I did however gather or make all the other necessary ingredients  for my second attempt: different types of tinder, a fireboard, and a coal catcher.

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The weekend was not a total wash, I was succesful in one thing. I successfully melted wax in the solar oven. I figure this is a good way to recycle the nubs of used candles to make new candles.

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