Posts Tagged ‘research’

Back in March I built a solar still in my backyard.  As Arizona is a dry place and my backyard does not have a creek in it, I tried to suck moisture out of plants.

This did not work.

I finally got around to editing the video.  Watch below if you care to watch my failed attempt as well as my first use of the fast-forward function.  If you don’t care to watch the video, the short version is that a solar still is a ridiculous amount of work for a ridiculously small amount of water.

On a side note, the raised garden did not work either.

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Below are some random notes I took at the survival school the other weekend.  It is not all of the notes, the ones that should be their own subject/post I have not included.  Think of it as random bits of wisdom.

–The animals were skittish for it was a full moon.  The bunny rabbits were not on the move.  There was also a strong cold wind blowing away the tracks of the few brave ones.

–When researching how to survive in the wild it is best to read materials written before 1970.

–Mice leave rice-sized poop.  Rats leave bigger poop.  Fear the smaller poop.

–A cotton-ball soaked in vaseline makes for a hell of a good starter fireball.

–When tracking, keep an eye for things out-of-place.  Remember the print may not be inconsistent.  The “fun part” of tracking is figuring out the story.  Watch for patterns.

–85% of human are right-handed.  The tend to drift right when not paying attention.  This is not a metaphor for the tea party but maybe it should be.  The average american walks 2 miles per hour.  One might be surprised how much they meander right in just one hour of aimless walking.

–When tracking someone who wants to survive, do not discount what would be the easiest path.

–If you stumble across someone’s marijuana field you might get sucker-punched.

–What defines survival?  If one sees famine and death outside of one’s window does that mean survival?   What crazy fool would roll down the window when death is outside?  If one does not look outside of the blinds how can you be sure it is not too late?

–Native Americans in the SouthWest generally used traps and not snares.  There is probably a reason why.  Deadfalls work best here.  One can only generally use snares in the forest where there are plenty of branches and shade.   If desperate, birds over any other animal, is your best chance to catch an AZ animal by snare.

–A Rolling snare jerks the animal off the ground.  Setting one ain’t easy when one is using cacti as one’s trigger.

–The fewer triggers the better.

–Avoid fleas.  Especially when dissecting an animal for dinner.  Fleas suck.

–When learning, focus on a digestible area.  Tony recommends 20 acres.  How big is 20 acres?  I think my yard is .25 acres.  Figure out 20 acres and know that 20 acres well. Use that as lesson one.  Otherwise learning every plant or every technique for all the variations one finds in a desert as big as the Sonoran is simply too overwhelming.  Know the plants in your 20 acres.  Know what plants grow.   Know where the afternoon shade is.  Know the morning shade.  Know the rhythms.  Know what the animals eat in your area.  Know what the smell of rain is like.  Think locally, act micro-locally.

–Best Glide is the best brand for a compact fishing survival kit.

— For catching fish a cast net is the “way to go.”  It is currently illegal to fish with a cast net.  Cast netting would give a “bathtub full of fish in 15 minutes.”  Sidenote:  It is also illegal to hunt with a salt lick.  Both of these methods are illegal for a reason.  Once we no longer care about the rules, hunt in whatever manner was previously illegal.  They were originally made illegal because it made things just too easy.

–A Dip net is an easy way to gather minnows.   Minnows will probably easier to gather than one big fish.  Multiple strips of protein might be better than the fish that got away.

–Don’t count your fish before they are in the skillet.

–“Primitive fishing is like primitive hunting.  It is a numbers game.” 20 baited traps = 1 edible animal, if you are lucky.

–Before the bow and arrow was the atlatl.  It was the weapon of choice for big game.  Get all Aztec up on it.  It is a difficult weapon to get accurate with but great for sheer ease and power.

–When shooting bows and arrows switch arms from time to time to avoid arthritis.

–Arrows over 33 inches do not need feathers.

–Michelle’s craft store is a great place to get marbles for sling shots and craft wire (which is already made camouflage) for cheap.  Buy galvanized wire, at least 20 gauge.  A 550 cord is best for snares for Coyotes.

— When using a knife think safety first-ish.  Think through if you were to slip while carving, where would the knife go?

— Rabbitt’s eat their own poop.  The first pass is brown, the second is white.  If you see rabbit poop where there are brown and white droplets beside each other than the rabbit goes one way at sunrise and another at sunset.  Try to ignore that you are hunting an animal that eats its own poop.

–Hunting rabbits is not easy.

–Cats have  asymmetrcal toes.

–As a general rule, if the hind foot falls in front of the front foot then that means speed.

–Don’t put anything camouflage in your survival kit, because you might lose it.

–Surviving is not living.  When people say “The Navajo survived in the Southwest for centuries”, they did not “survive” they lived.

–Spam is the culinary equivalent of the cockroach.

–In Hunter/gatherer society’s people did not live alone.  The lived in groups of 15 to 30 people.  To survive one needs more than oneself.

–Diesel is a better shelf life than gasoline.

–To use bleach to preserve water, pick ordinary bleach not one that is “scented” or has “lemon.”  6 drops of bleach per quart.  There are 4 quarts per gallon. 

–The SODIS method for purifying water is the easiest.  It is used around the world in developing nations.  It involves putting water in a clear plastic bottle and setting that in the sun for 6 hours.  –Anybody who has ever been in a natural catastrophe and had to struggle to survive has said “Man, we did not have enough water.”

Thermal Cooker’s are a good way to cook with minimal energy. They are big in Japan.

Flash cooking is where you put your meat on a stick, put a trash can or other large metal can around it and put coals of the outside of the can.  So far I have only found one internet site that describes it.

–If you put insects in a stew you won’t even know they are there.

–A good reachable goal when learning this stuff is to learn 12 edible plants in your area.  Trying to learn every plant can be overwhelming.

–When learning edible plants, also take time to learn poisonous plants as they kill.  You want to know what to avoid.   Hemlock kills!  I think I also might have it in my yard. http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/poison/plants/pppoiso.htm

–Pine Nuts are ripe in Sept.

Permaculture would be a good thing to research. –Mustard plant is easy to find in Phoenix in spring.

–Pine sap has antibacterial features.  Olive oil will help make it less sticky.

–A good book to read is “Gathering the Desert” 

–Rendezvous are events were people who are into this stuff present their skills and teach others.  A complete list of events can be found at hollowtop.com.

–Whichever foot print is bigger means means more weight.

–Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use bear spray on a cougar.

–Japanese wet stones are awesome because they only need water and not oil to sharpen a knife.

–The bubonic plague kills prairie dogs.  Do not eat a mangy-looking mammal that lives in a dark hole surrounded by other mammals.  Disease and plague can run rampant.  On a side note, if an animal does not look healthy do not eat that animal, no matter how hungry one is.  This rule also applies to zombies.

–The bigger the wood the bigger the fire bubble.

–To survive and prosper in the wilderness you will need a knife, a saw, an axe and a good pot to cook in.

–Anything left over goes in the stew, this is why one needs a good pot.

–Belive in yourself.

I am starting to do some research into solar panels, because after the grid goes belly up then a little bit of juice would be a wonderful luxury.  The problem with solar panels however is they are not easy to hide.    You can’t exactly put big-ass panels hidden away in a corner because then they would not get any sun.  This principal is also why Goth kids tend to be very pale.   But if one puts them proudly up on the roof, then after society crumbles you are just asking for the barbarians to come to your driveways gate.  So……

Maybe portable Solar Panels are the way to go?   For example a solar back pack?

My local Fry’s electronics has a got one shelf of other options as well……
aprilhikeSolar 010

A report on what the Pueblo Ruins look like has already been commented on in a previous post.  This post is more about getting to the ruins and comments on the surrounding area.

The ruins I went to 7 years ago were NOT Pueblo Canyon, they were the appropriately named Devil’s Chasm Ruins.  The two sets of ruins are relatively close to each other (I would need to consult a topo map to determine how far, but the drive to the head of each trail is 2.9 miles apart.)  Devil’s Chasm is a much more difficult, even though a shorter hike.

We met a Park Ranger in the ruins and spoke with him for a while.  He mentioned another set of ruins called Cold Spring Ruins, which is his favorite, but according to the Ranger they are hard to find and many people don’t find them.   The fact that there are separate awesome places for a post-apocalypse desert bunker so close to together emphasizes how the area is a decent place to start rebuilding.

The drive in is around 24 miles down a dirt road off of HWY188 (the road between Globe and Roosevelt Lake).   On the dirt road you cross a river three times.  The fact there is such easy water to find in the area is awesome.  You pass (I think) two ranches and multiple cow pens.  I would assume the family’s that live in these two ranches are a hearty bunch.

Below: Crossing a river on the drive in.
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Despite the fact you cross the river three times I think my Honda civic could make it the first 20.5 miles.  However, I am not sure what the parking would be like.  The last 4 miles on most definitely needs 4WD, even better if you have high-clearance.    Here is the link to what I thought were the best directions to Pueblo Canyon.

The last temporary visit of the local library yielded some useful videos on how to prepare for Humanity’s waterloo.

There were two decent videos on how to build an enviromental house.  From what I have seen so far, the community of people preparing for civilization’s curtains tend to be a conservative bunch.  One place where the preppers and the far left overlaps is Extreme Pro-Green Building. After all, surviving on your own is the goal of both groups. And I tend to like it when extremes meet.

Back to point of this post, the library had two decent videos on how to build green, a lot of the techniques might be good to know once the giant wire spider stops giving us it’s venom. They were a good start for me on how to approach the learning construction task. I really have trouble with hammers.

Building with awareness the construction of a hybrid home is a good overview of the considersations one might consider.

Building Green Hosted by Kevin Contreras goes into much more detail.  With four discs he walks through multiple aspects of building green during all stages on construction.

I wonder if the 2011 Survival conference is worth going to.

Marks against it

#1 It is in Dallas.

#2 It will be people pitching me a bunch of stuff to buy.  Much of it will seem necessary at the time.  Even putting aside the obvious thoughts on how easy it is to sell fear, it is money I don’t really have to spend.

#3 While the conference and hotel is cheap, the airfare makes it debatable.

Marks for it

#1 I would learn a ton.

#2 It is fun to window shop.

#3 Dallas can’t be all bad.  Sure it might have a tangled history with guns, but so does Tucson, and I can tell you that Tucson is a wonderful town.

Two weeks ago I gathered water from the mountain, built a water purification system, and drank some water that went through it. I did not get sick, but I suspect that was more because of dumb luck rather than my engineering skills.

I used the World Wildlife Foundation’s instructions on how to build a water filter as my general guide. I used their’s because it was the best one I could find in terms of clarity along with the most post-apocalyptic scenario. Most sites I found for water purification are using modern toys that won’t necessarily be available after the camping stores and hardware stores get raided.

There where were many lessons learned that did not make it into the video because of editing concerns. Those lessons learned were the following.

Flush the system. Flush the system some more. And then flush the system. I am not sure how one would flush the system with water if your issue was lack of water. Maybe have the system built and then wait for a rain? Not good if you need the water for immediate survival.

Clean the sand, let it dry. Clean it again. The water came out dirtier than when it first went in. Reading about things later, I learned that wet sand can hold more nasty tiny lifeforms than water. If I had to use the sand immediately, I might even skip the sand step.

Don’t wait until the last moment to build your system. The whole system took 14 hours to make, and it should have taken longer. Best way to not run out of water is to plan ahead. This system should be built over time, before you need the water immediately to survive. If the grid goes down, and you don’t have a way to clean water, then make this a first priority after taking care of other immediate survival needs. According to the author of survivalblog.com a good low-cost way to clean water is pool shock tablets that only contain calcium chlorite.

Place multiple charcoal levels. Perhaps pre-treat water with charcoal first. Charcoal doesn’t taste that bad as tea. A fire does not produce as much charcoal as you might think. If I had to have a little water now, and not later. I would just filter the water as best as I could, put some charcoal into the bottle and shake it around. I read somewhere that is would work for immediate  and last resort water concerns. I suspect it would, but I am not inclined to try that until I have to in order to survive for real.

And on youtube