Very often I come across people who ask me how they can be self sufficient, but they either don’t want to go all out and live entirely off the land, or they want to gradually adjust to doing precisely that. I’m far from an expert, but in either case the usual advice I give to people is to break it down into as many small steps as possible, and then set a pace to do them. All a person really needs is just food, water, shelter, and clothing, right? Sooner or later if you keep changing one of your habits at a time you’ll find you’re already doing everything you need to do. After all, how many tasks do you actually do in the day? So this is just a list of easy habits you can change, say one a week. It might not seem like much, but at the end of the year it amounts to allot. And even though a year is along time, how many years have you spent wishing to be more self sufficient, and where are you now?

-Making your own toothpaste. Personally, I prefer to brush my teeth with just baking soda, but you can make more complex ones by adding hydrogen peroxide and mint or cinnamin to the baking soda to turn it into a paste like store bought toothpastes. It’s an awful lot cheaper (plus you know and can control exactly what goes in it), but you still would have to make the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to be truely self sufficient. But atleast baking soda and hydrogen peroxide have allot more uses than toothpaste so it’s considerably more adaptable to stock up on them than to stock up on toothpaste. Same thing with baking powder- it’s just a mix of baking soda and cream of tartar. Why keep baking powder around seperate? If you leave it sit the ingredients slowly react together and lose their effectiveness.

-Dry your clothes on a line or rack. Dryers are one of the least sustainable appliances, they’re expensive, hard to make, and use up allot of electricity. And it’s so easy to dry your own clothes I don’t know why anyone bothers with them. Set up a clothesline or buy or build a drying rack. Once you have it and get into the habit of using it it’s easy to keep the habit going just like anything else on this list.

-Knit something. It only takes a couple hours to knit a hat or mittens or socks or boxers or a storage sack or a dishcloth, and every item that you use that you replace with something you made is a substantial step. Learning to knit is a big thing to do, but once you learn you’ve got it, it’s not something you need to learn again. Making larger projects like pants or shirts or blankets take a much longer time, but for them I recommend setting aside 15 minutes a day just to work on larger projects. Even on a large blanket you can probably knit two rows in 20 minutes, once you’ve got a feel for knitting, and on size 15 needles you would be done now if you’d started three months ago just 20 minutes a day! It’s not that demanding of attention either, so you can do it while reading a book or sitting around talking or at school or watching TV or whathaveyou.

-Make your silverware and dishes. Pretty much everyone knows how to whittle a spoon. I generally just go cut a pair of chopsticks whenever I need a new pair instead of keeping around any dedicated silverware, but I suppose most Westerners are probably more comfortable with forks and such. If you don’t have constant access to the woods, then stock up on materials when you’re out there so you can replace anything on the spot should you need to. The same with bowls. You can burn or carve them out of wood or collect clay and fire some terra cotta. Or forge some if you have access to a forge. If you’re in the city and can’t burn out a bowl or fire pottery in your back yard bring what you make to a kiln. Allot of them let you fire things you made on your own there, for a small fee. Plates are just a slab of wood or slate. It doesn’t need to look good to function perfectly, and you can always go out and grab another stone or piece of bark as yo need it easy enough.

-Wash your clothes by hand. Ok, this one might be a bit harder to swallow for some of you. It’s easy enough though, and doesn’t cost anything or take any longer than using a machine. I’m sure everyone already knows how, but I’ll go over it anyways cause it I feel funny leaving just one blank here. Just fill a sink or bucket with hot soapy water and rub your clothes violently in it until the dirt’s gone, then either empty and refill the bucket or sink clean water or stick them into a seperate rinse sink or bucket. If you’re doing allot of clothes you may have to refresh the water a couple times. Then you wring the clothes out to get rid of as much water as possible, and hang them to dry.

Start a kitchen garden. Just put a couple plant pots up in the window growing herbs. Grow things you already use and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it. Mints, thyme, basil, and oregano are all exceptionally easy to grow. A long rectangular pot can grow radishes or carrots in a window. You can also put trellises up on the sides of your house for things like grapes, squash, gourds, and cucumbers if you don’t have allot of space. Speaking of which, this farm is amazing: http://urbanhomestead.org/urban-homestead

Grow your own mushrooms. You can buy premade kits for growing mushrooms on the internet for about 25 dollars. It’s little more than a bag of straw and nutrients innoculated with mushroom spores, and you don’t really have to do anything to get them to produce brilliantly. Just stick it in a cabinet or closet when you get it and wait till it starts producing. It’s so foolishly simple I have no idea why everyone’s not doing it, but then again I think that about allot of things, like keeping chickens and making soap.

Raise chickens. Chickens are so easy to raise it’s crazy. Just set them outside and go collect the eggs, then butcher them in Fall. That assumes you have a porch or shed they can roose and get out of the rain under and enough land that they can roam around on without ending up on someone else’s property, and a stream or puddle or someplace they can get water. They’ll be able to find all the bugs they need to eat, so no need to feed them. If you don’t have ideal conditions then you can fence them in or build a chicken coop. Once you’ve set one up you’re all set though. They eat just about anything, kitchen scraps and leftovers, potato mash, oats. A big bag of cracked corn will last a very long time if you mix in some more nutritious stuff like leftovers and is cheap. Allot of times you can find people giving away chickens pretty easy too.

Raise rabbits. Rabbits are an amazing source of food, one doe from a meat breed like californians can produce 300 pounds of meat in one year, and they can live on pretty little. I once read that a 20 by 20 foot garden could supply enough food to raise one buck and three does for a whole year.

Compost. It’s pretty easy to keep an extra bucket next to your trash to throw decomposable odds and ends in. Vegetable ends, uneaten or old food, paper scrap, all sorts of things. Why not go get a bucket and stick it there now? Empty it in a pile outside, flip the pile over next to itself a couple times a year to let it aerate, and when it’s black soil it’s ready to stick on your garden or in pots.

Vermiculture. Both for your own food, and as a form of compost. If you want to eat them you have to set them in little wet cornmeal overnight so their system cleans out, then boil the mucus off their skin. Then you can cut them up and use them in any recipe that calls for very lean meat, since that’s all they are. They really do taste good, don’t take my word for it, go try some! You can grind them up and add a little tallow or lard to keep the burger together and do anything with it you’d do with burger if you don’t care for the sight of them whole on your plate. The liquid you pour off the worm colony periodically is also excellent nutritients for plants, so you can water your container plants with it whenever you get it.

Raise insects. A couple 2 gallon glass jars and you can raise a mealworms to eat. Take a look here for a good guide: http://abigalesedibles.com/mealworm-care/ Crickets are just as easy, but really hard to prevent escaping. I like to dry them and grind them into flour, adds an excellent flavour to breads and buscuits. Sorta like sardines or roasted pine nuts. Very very good.

Brush your teeth with a stick. I really have no idea why this is so unheard of in the U.S.. This is historically the most common method of cleaning teeth, and is still used in parts of the world. It’s no less effective than a toothbrush, either. My guess it it’s a marketing thing rather than any actual benefit of modern toothbrushes. Just chop off a stick and chew on the end for a while, it’ll eventually break up into fibers like a brush. Pretty near any tree will work, but there’s some trees they sell specifically because in addition to turning into small fibers they also have chemicals in them good for the teeth. I don’t know if any of the local varieties have the same chemicals or not, but they still work. If you don’t have steady access to the woods, just take a big handful of sticks home next time you find some good trees. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teeth_cleaning_twig

Bake bread once a week. The actual working parts involved don’t take all that long. I’d say 20 to 30 minutes at most, combining the ingredients, kneading the dough, putting it on a pan and into the oven, and then taking it out of the oven. The vast majourity of it is just waiting for the bread to rise and then for it to bake. Besides, the more often you do it, the better you’ll be at making good bread and the quicker you’ll be. And flat breads or bisquits can be made even quicker because they don’t need to take the time to rise.

Start using candles or oil lamps for light. Candles are very cheap and easy to come by, and oil for oil lamps isn’t very cheap 3but it still works out to cheaper than electric lights. It can take a bit of adjusting, since you can’t just sit down anywhere in the room and expect to be able to read a book at night, but once you get used to it you don’t even notice. And with different reflectors oil lamps and candle lamps can be really quite bright in a limited area.

Keep bees. I’ve never kept bees myself, and there’s already allot of very good comprehensive guides out there on it. Startup is expensive, from what I gather if you were to buy everything and make none of the equipment yourself, it would cost nearly 700$ to get initially set up completely for two hives, the tools and outfit, and the starting bee colonies. But once you have it going, you have them going. You could get away with never having to put any money into it again if you do it right. The great thing about bees is you don’t need hardly any land to raise them, you could keep them on a balcony or a rooftop if you wanted. The other great thing is they make your garden produce so much better. And the greatest thing is all the honey! And you can get bee pollen, royal jelly, wax, you can collect bee venom for it’s medicinal uses (or just use the bees), and you can eat the larvae. It’s pretty win-win. Then again I feel the same about almost everything on this list.

Raise your own sugar. If you live in an area with sugar maples you probably already know how to do this. If not, you can always raise sugar beets. This blog: https://lastoneeating.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/the-beet-goes-on-ann-arbor-sugar-beet-project-2010/ says a 5 foot square patch of garden can grow 5-10 pounds of sugar with sugar beets. I’ve never succeeded in this myself (I can’t get them to grow right in my swamp…I need to make some raised beds for next year) but it’s supposed to be fairly easy, just boilig shredded root until you have syrup, and crystalising it the same way you would maple syrup.

Raise your own flour. Wheat is the all around most versatile grain in my opinion. It grows in the widest range of conditions and has enough gluten in it to make anything wihout mixing it with other flours.

Things that do not change, have no meaning. Things that do not end, have no value.

If a process were to last forever, a point in the future would inevitably come where due to the intermediary buildup the actions of what is currently the present are untraceable to the conditions at that future point.

And in a real process, one which must end, the actions during it’s existence have no effect on the final outcome. This is indistinguishable from a process without end.

A universe without value is self-contradictory. Rules without action are not rules.

Without some process to act, value cannot apply to system.

Thus, any set of value cannot violate the preliminary requirements for there to exist value. This, in itself, is valuable.

You can only have one of the following

You can only have one of the following, but you will have it beyond all others. Which one: Intelligence, Beauty, Nature, Wealth, Compassion?

This is a silly little social experiment I’ve been doing for years. It doesn’t actually mean anything, I just like to ask it to new people when I first meet them. I’ve been fiddling with it for years, until I got it to a just about even five way split in the responses people give.

What’s far more interesting than their actual response is how they interpret the question. Some people think ‘You can only have one of the following’ means they will not have any of the rest, others think it means they can only pick one out of the following of the list. Some thing it means it will be a trait they will have, others think it will be a quality they will find present throughout their life. Some people think ‘have it beyond all others’ means that quality will be stronger than any of the other four qualities, some people think it means they’ll have that trait stronger than any other person. Some people think that by choosing one quality they can use it to attain the rest, and other’s think that without that one quality none of the rest are meaningful.

I’ve tried switching around various concepts and wordings and numbers of concepts over the years, but this one seems to be the most even split among the people I have access to ask. The times I’ve asked people over the internet, it’s always seemed to be pretty biased towards wealth and intelligence far more than in person, so it does matter allot on where you’re asking.

Other concepts I’ve included that weren’t entirely off the mark but didn’t balance have been Power, Love, Fame, Health, Balance, Knowledge, Honour, Skill, Passion, &c. And lots of minute variations on those. Sometimes a term can be completely synonymous, but if it doesn’t sound as simple or isn’t used as often, it can be chosen far far less.

It’s interesting to play around with nonetheless. What would you answer? Why?

Of course, to work right you should’ve answered that before you knew the reasons behind asking the question.

-mouse

A Rite of Xuilte

There is something beyond everything, the All of the all that is, the all that isn’t, and the all that will never be, it is the outside, it is undefineable and unknowable. It is infinite and nothing, it breaks all rules and is the source of them all, it contains nothing, the lack of nothing, everything, and far beyond everything. It is irrevelant, and unapplicable to anything, yet it must exist. From any point, it appears empty. And at any point of emptyness, there is always creation. 

This is the seed of being, the only spontaneous force, the original irregularity of being. A disbalancing of perfect simplicity, void and potential. This uneveness will flow once more to level uniformity. 

This is the Will of the will to order, the will to live, and the will to know, the primal seed of action. Choiceless, it flows in but one direction. It is the rebalancing of the irregularity of being.

This is existance. All creation is irregular, a disbalancing. All existance is the flowing back to level. All existance eventually becomes even, and in such becomes again non-existant. This alone causes creation once more. 

There exists a cyclical nature. It is because if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be. This is the state of all being, the definition between the all that is and all that isn’t, and the beyond all that is and all that never will be. This is life. 

At the rejection of irrevelance is the separation of truth and false. This is the descent from the original irregularity of being, the beginning of logic. This is the limit of Knowledge. It is the beginning of perception, perspective, and fallibility. It is forever incomplete, yet never infinite. It is the source of truth and fiction. These are the tiers of knowledge. 

Therefore the Ryup, having Will and Knowledge, seeks purpose. Thus the Ryup values potential, simplicity, and adaptability. 

Valuing potential, and having Will, the Ryup continues to survive, and values society. 
Valuing simplicity and adaptability, the Ryup limits his reliances. 
Having Knowledge and valuing simplicity, the Ryup analyses his mind and actions and values honour. 
Valuing adaptability and having Will, the Ryup values knowledge. 
Having Knowledge, the Ryup knows emptyness. 
Valueing adaptability and potential, the Ryup cherishes his knife. 

Analysing his mind and actions and having Will, the Ryup practices ritual. 
Valuing adaptability and society, the Ryup uses only what is immediatly available. 
Unable to use what is immediatly available and valuing ritual and limiting his reliances, the Ryup does not use tools without knowing their origin. 
Valuing knowledge and society, the Ryup is honest. 
Seeking a purpose and valuing simplicity, the Ryup values purity. 
Knowing emptyness, having Knowledge, and seeking purpose, the Ryup acts without attachment, and does not act upon desire. 
Lacking purpose, a Ryup is content with the world. 
Analysing his mind and actions and valuing potential and knowledge, the Ryup values debate. 
Failing debate and valuing adaptability, the Ryup values self-determination. 
Failing self-determination and valuing potential, the Ryup values combat.

Every Day Carry

In my day-to-day life I spend allot of time in what most people would probably regard as “primitive” or “survival” situations. If you want to gather allot of cattail root flour it’s simply most practical to hike out to a good bog with some waders and a couple pots and general tools to spend a few nights there boiling starch. So for me the primary concerns might not be exactly the same as someone working on perfecting their every day carry for emergencies in the city, but I still think there’s allot of overlap.

So without further ado, here’s my list;
-2 Knives
-Wallet
-Cellphone
-Poncho

And that’s it. Really it’s quite simple.
Knives: I know of no more useful tool, and if I was limited to carrying only one thing with me at all times it would be this. (although having just spent a rather cold windy night in the snow last night I’m half tempted to say I’d forgo the knife and go with my poncho, haha.) As Ryups we have a moral requirement to keep a blade on our persons at all times and I’ll probably write a post about the philosophical theory behind that at some point. But this post is intended to be a general critique of the Every Day Carry philosophy so I’ll not elaborate upon that right now since it probably wouldn’t interest the same people who’d be interested in the other content of this post, eh? The reason for two knives is that I keep one knife sharp and one knife dull. The dull one I use for pretty near everything, the majourity of that consisting of thigs that’d probably make knife enthusiasts cringe. I use my dull knife for things like prying stuff apart, unscrewing screws, rough wittling or splitting kindling, cooking and eating (and if I ever need any other utensils I usually just go out and carve some chopsticks. I don’t see much point in keeping other utensils around. Except for the occassional guests, but usually they’re scared away by my not having indoor plumbing and sleeping on the wood floor of a cold smokey cabin before the subject of utensils comes up, haha.), and all sorts of other stuff. My sharp knife I reserve for special occassions like butchering, and even then it’s used in combination with the dull one. The other big reason for having two is I’m awfully prone to losing knives, and by having two I’m never without one. And even then I’m liable to carry around a piece of ground slate or a chert shard and call it a ‘knife’. It serves for the most common purposes even if it doesn’t hold an edge long. And I like the simplicity of simply being able to pick my tools up off the ground, so I try stick to that as often as possible. I also think there’s little point in being picky about brand or design of knives, they all more or less do the job. Maybe I can see being picky about having high carbon steel in some scenarios though.

Wallet: This item is perhaps a but deceiving. You see, even though there’s usually a bit of American and Canadian money in my wallet and my bank card and hunting and fishing and trapping licenses, that’s not really what I consider it’s primary purpose. In my wallet I keep a book of matches, a bunch of strong thread and twine, another flat piece of steel that can make a rudimentary cutting or prying tool, a couple folded up sheets of blank paper and a little flat pencil, and on the outside are a bunch of needles and fishing hooks. I usually just punch then into the leather when I finish carving one. I don’t really use the fishing hooks all that often, I keep my creel in the truck and just go get that when I intend on fishing, but the rest of that I use at minimum on a weekly basis. It’s worth buying one of those big boxes of new matchbooks just to have some matchbooks on hand, no matter how nice those wooden ones can be.

Cellphone: Now in this matter I think most EDCs I’ve seen are bollocks. Almost always they’ve got some sort of top of the line smartphone or something, and in most cases I’d say they’d be worth less than a rock. Surprisingly enough, I do carry around a cellphone. Ando it’s an amazingly handy tool. It’s helped me out in more than a small way in numerous cases, getting lost, the truck breaking down way back there, having people call me when an emergency happens back at my land and I’m not there, being able to get in touch with people if I’m unexpectedly late or can’t make it to an arranged meeting,, conducting business, &c. I also can’t get a landline where I live, so if I want a phone at all it would have to be a cellphone. As it happens I do not want a phone, and I do intend on getting rid of it someday, but while I’ve got it I’ve got on opinion on which kind works better for every day and emergencies. Smartphones are no good, they get the most restricted service ranges of any model from each brand, they take up the most electricity and can barely hold a charge for any time (my tablet holds a charge for longer than most of them!), and they break all the time. That is the exact opposite of a good phone in my opinion. I’ve got a simple tracphone, it is wicked durable, lasts for more than a week without being charged, runs off other company’s cellphone towers so gets service pretty near anywhere a cellphone is capable of getting service, and it doesn’t take a very big charge to fill it up. You can actually charge it up full several times on a pair of AA batteries if you’ve got the tool for it. I also use it as an impromptue light and watch in more situations than I, being a luddite, would care to admit. But a good analogue watch is something that shouldn’t be overlooked so easily either. You don’t need to charge them, and many models come with built in lights and compasses. And in a way they function like rudimentary cellphones, if you arrange a meeting in advance, then with a watch you can get there on time! Heh, so perhaps I’m stretching terms there quite a bit too far. :p

Poncho: So I don’t always wear this every day in the Summer, but most of the year it’s on my back every single day. It’s just a simply bulky knit rectangle I tied together in the middle and folded over. I guess it’s really more of a cloak than a poncho then, but terminology doesn’t really matter, this thing is plain useful. It’s warm, and thick enough to keep dry in light rains, and unfolds to just the size that I can wrap up in it as a blanket if I ever need to stay somewhere unexpectedly which happens on a fairly reguliar basis. The only modification I think I’d make is having it be felted instead of knit, then it would keep the wind out, could serve as a tarp type shelter if need be, and would be even warmer than it already is. Because it’s cloak-like and not held close to my body and is open in frompnt (unless I pin it together or closer to me) it can be worn when it’s fairly warm out too.

Prepping, food saving, and survival seed packs

Now just as a disclaimer: I don’t really believe there’s going to be some sort of drastic collapse or disaster any time soon. Sure, I know full well that the modern Western lifestyle is unsustainable, but I think that any sort of collapse related to it would be due beyond our lifespans, perhaps 100 to 300 years from now. And I think it will probably occur so slowly that people will switch to other (almost certainly still unsustainable, just more efficient) methods in the process and no one will realise that their lifestyle is the cause. Infact, I think this has already happened in several areas and most people don’t seem to realise the effects on them. Fishing is a prime example, stocks were over fished to such an extent that they had to advance more efficient techniques to catch more fish causing the wild stocks to plummet even further, now no one would ever be able to compete using historical methods, but the demand for fish never really decreased, and dispite perhaps the occassional rise in price no one really lacks access to fish. And now they’re switching over to farmed fish, but from a consumer’s perspective the supply hasn’t really changed and the switch has been smooth. People don’t notice the collapse going on around them because their lifestyle hasn’t changed as a result of it. That doesn’t mean I think the way most people live is OK, but I simply don’t agree with the survivalist mindset.

Seed saving is a prime example of the sorts of faults I see in survivalism. You can’t really set asside a box of seeds and then expect that when the apocolypse comes you’ll be all set to grow your own food. Seeds don’t work that way, for one. Seeds are living things, they are only dormant, and they can’t survive that way forever. Germination rate for most seeds drops fairly quickly, and while there are some seeds like nubian date palms that have been successfully sprouted after centuries, the majourity can’t even put up with a decade. Spores on the other hand, are not alive. You can keep a spore however long as you want in the right conditions, and then have it come to life when it ‘s put in the right environment. That’s just one of the reasons why I believe if anyone were to do this mushrooms ought to be their first priority. But those “50 year garden-in-a-cans” that prepper companies sell? You’re not going to get anywhere near a garden out of it, you may get a a handful of sprouts total. I get a feeling that the whole ‘buy enough stuff to last a year or two and you’ll be fine’ attitude of advertisers is more to take advantage of people who don’t know what their doing than a serious position anyone who knows what they’re talking about takes.

The people who will be in the best position in such a scenario will be those whose lives change least. If you expect that when some disaster happens suddenly you and your friends or family will be able to go all militia and eat rations from your stocks and acquire all your own food and start using candles for light and walking miles to get everywhere and all this other stuff you’re not used to, all your plans will fall apart fast. Think you’ll be fine because you know how to hunt? Do you realise how many deer it would take to support a family for a year? Can you supply one without fail every couple of days, including when you have competition from everyone else who’s backup plan is ‘I can hunt.’?

-mouse

20130902_092140
Out gathering a few weeks ago when I saw a mouse moving her babies from one nest to another. Something must have discovered her old nest, probably one of my dogs. Well, I accidentally scared her and she dropped her baby and ran off, so I picked him up and took a picture. He looked a bit old to be being carried around by his mother still, but all he wanted to do was curl up in the folds of my shirt so I guess he was the right age. I put him back down and his mother came back not too long later to bring him back to their new nest.

Speaking of baby animals, I released that little leveret from a while back. She was getting really friendly, jumping up on top of me demanding that I pet her between the ears and such, but it wasn’t very practical trying to manage both her and the dogs in the little cabin all at once.

20130926_092149
I tried making a little moose bone folding knife. The knife itself didn’t come out too bad, but it will not hold an edge for anything. Can’t carve wood with it, and can barely cut leather. I wonder if there’s a way to strengthen it, some sort of chemical I could treat it with. As of now it’s only good as a strigil.