Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sucker harvesting

 Every spring we harvest suckers. This year our goal was to smoke, can, and use a hundred pounds.

Sucker fillets ready to smoke. This year we converted an old gas barbecue grill to a smoker it worked real well.

A meal of fresh batter fried suckers.

Poison Ivy

Leaves Of Three, Let It Be!    Berries White, Take Flight!
• by John David Fawcett
Humans are the only members of the animal kingdom afflicted by Rhus radicans, otherwise known as poison ivy. Although it's a nuisance to people, poison ivy is of considerable value for many animals such as deer and other small mammals which browse on the leaves, twigs and berries. A popular food for birds such as grouse, quail and turkey, especially during fall migration and in winter when other foods are scarce, the small waxy, yellowish-white berries of the poison ivy plant pass through these animals and are widely distributed throughout the forest. There is rarely enough sunlight for the plant to thrive deep in the forest, but in the damp, rich soil of clearings and the forest edge it may stand upright like a shrub, spread over the ground, or be a vine climbing up tree trunks attached with thousands of aerial rootlets. The young leaves are often reddish colored in the spring and green during the summer, while in autumn they turn red, orange or yellow depending on the amount of sunlight they receive.

Although you're more likely to contract rhus dermatitis in spring and summer when the plant leaves are soft and more easily bruised, the dermatitis can also occur in autumn and winter. Some people claim to be immune to poison ivy but medical research indicates that the severity of the rash depends on the condition of the plant and the circumstances under which the individual is exposed. Toxicodendrol, a phenolic oily resin, is present in the resinous juice of the plant and contains a chemical called urushiol which is absorbed by the skin cells. The itching skin lesions which result are the body's immune system responding to these contaminated cells. An allergic reaction will occur if the plant oil remains on the skin for several hours. After twelve to twenty-four hours a rash will develop and once the reaction has begun it will persist until all the contaminated cells have been shed, a process that generally takes up to two weeks. Once contact with poison ivy is made, your skin absorbs the urushiol within three to five minutes. Although all skin areas that come in contact with the urushiol may be affected, the most severe poisoning affects areas with thin skin. Symptoms are usually less severe or do not occur at all in areas with thick skin or heavy hair. There have been reports of males unknowingly transferring the urushiol from their hands to their genitalia and even to the genitals of their sex partners during intercourse. The rash usually begins as an area of blisters appearing in thin lines where the person has brushed against the plant and is accompanied by stinging or itching. The affected area is often hot and swollen, and oozes a clear yellow fluid before eventually drying. Crusting of the lesions occurs as the fluid dries. Once healed, the affected areas will often remain hypersensitive to further contact with urushiol for several years.

The best way to prevent catching poison ivy is to learn to recognize and avoid the plants, which are hazardous even in winter when they have dropped their leaves. If exposed, washing the oil from the affected area as soon as possible with a strong soap and cold water will usually prevent or minimize the reaction. Using hot water is not recommended, since it can cause the skin pores to open and allow the urushiol to penetrate. It's also extremely important that you wash everything that may have come into contact with the oil, since it is easily spread and can remain on clothing, pets and other contacted items for many months. In cool dry weather the urushiol retains its harmful effect for quit a long period of time. However, under hot and humid conditions the toxin is rendered inert in about a week. A thorough washing with an alkaline soap or organic solvents such as alcohol is necessary to prevent absorption of the urushiol. Originally designed to remove radioactive dust from the skin, Technu Poison Oak-n-Ivy Cleansing Treatment from Tec Laboratories has proven to be an effect skin cleanser. Barrier cream skin protectants that are applied prior to contact, such as IvyBlock manufactured by EnviroDerm Pharmaceuticals, Inc., have recently become popular and are reported to be effective against poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. I've used a bar laundry soap called Fels Naphtha with great success. While it is a bit harsh, it works great for getting the oil off your skin, as well as any other item that may be contaminated.

There are many myths told about poison ivy, such as "scratching the blisters will spread the rash". Scratching will not spread the rash on the infected person or to anyone else if all the oil has been washed off. Scratching the affected areas after the rash appears will not spread the infection, but different levels of exposure and secondary exposure can cause delayed reactions up to two or three days, which give the impression of spreading.

Centuries ago, Native Americans used the juice from crushed leaves of the jewel weed (impatiens capensis) often found growing near poison ivy, both to prevent the rash and to treat the rash after it developed. A more modern suggestion for relief is to apply hot water to the rash. The heat releases histamine, which is responsible for the intense itching. Once the cells are depleted of histamine, it is possible to obtain six to eight hours of relief. The various over-the-counter remedies usually contain alcohol which appears to provide temporary relief by cooling and drying the infected area. The alcohol, however, has been reported to cause dry and cracked skin resulting in even more itching. Hydrocortisone cream is effective at providing relief, but you may find that the 0.5% over-the-counter concentrations are too weak to be effective.

If you are unlucky enough to contract a serious rash, doctors can prescribe powerful steroids that apparently suppress the immune systems response to contaminated cells. These oral systemic gluco-cortico-steroids may cause behavioral changes, but are very effective and rapid with most symptoms disappearing within twenty-four hours. You should also be examined by a physician if you develop a severe rash, especially if the rash covers large areas or is accompanied by above-normal body temperatures.

Learning to recognize and avoid the poison ivy plant is an important outdoors skill. If you have never seen it lurking at the edge of the trail waiting for a careless step, you owe it to yourself to have someone point it out. Observe and search surrounding areas carefully when hiking and before choosing a campsite. It could save you from several weeks of misery.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

watcha gettin?

Burdock plant without the burs
I was out looking for some Plantain (which this isn't) one time and a fellow came along. I could tell he was on the shy side but he managed to verbalize his thoughts. "Whatcha gettin? " he said as he slowly walked by with his aged dog.  "Plantain" I said. That seemed to satisfy him. Or he was totally rejoicing in his extrovertedness in an introverted kinda way.
At any rate, whatcha gettin fits what I will be posting about as I get this and that from our property as well as "other places".

You all remember burdock and it's cling on factor. Well those burs aren't quite ready yet but I had a plant where I didn't want it so I dug it up and harvested the root.
Burdock root can be used to treat gout, rheumatism, ulcers, acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The last two problems were what I was interested in. So I cleaned and cut up the root and put a few pieces in some water to boil for about half an hour. It turned the most gorgeous color of green. And it tasted just fine.

Normally you will dig the first year plant in the fall as the energy goes into the roots to get ready for the big job the second year. But there is still a bunch of goodness in what I dug up.

I haven't been real detailed here but I am just showing ya "what I'm gettin" right now on our very own property. Natures medicine chest is all around.

I will dig the root of this first year plant in the fall
The root washed and cut up to dry for medicines

Making tea with some of the root

Friday, May 31, 2013

Wild Supper

Especially during the spring we eat wild edibles every day as a normal part of our meals. This meal is a not uncommon fare at our house.

I haven't figured out yet if the "weeds" we deliberately let grow in our garden should be called wild or domestic.

On the table is Lake Michigan salmon baked with wild leeks on top. The wine jug holds apple wine from last falls pressing of around a 1,000 pounds of wild apples.

The greens are stir fried nettles, garlic mustard, dandelions.

The salad is greens from our garden, violet leaves, etc.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The beautiful, invasive, edible daylily

Early March new shoots in our yard.

We have lots of them in our yard and are very abundant in our area.

Young spring shoots and leaves under five inches taste similar to mild onions when fried in butter. They are also a mild pain killer and in large quantities can be hallucinogenic.  The leaves quickly become fibrous so they can only be eaten young (but you can make cordage out of the older leaves.)

The flower buds, a rich source of iron, are distinguished from the plant's non-edible fruits by their internal layering. The blossoms are edible as well, raw or cooked (as are seeds if you find any.) The dried flower contains about 9.3% protein, 25% fat, 60% carbohydrate, 0.9% ash. It is rich in vitamin A.  The closed flower buds and edible pods are good raw in salads or boiled, stir-fried or steamed with other vegetables.

The blossoms add sweetness to soups and vegetable dishes and can be stuffed like squash blossoms. Half and fully opened blossoms can be dipped in a light batter and fried tempura style (which by the way was a Portuguese way of cooking introduced to Japan.)

Dried daylily petals are an ingredient in many Chinese and Japanese recipes. Nearly any time of year the nutty, crisp roots can be harvested, but they are best in the fall. They can be eaten raw or cooked.

A good article on the daylily.  The beautiful, invasive, edible daylily

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tom Brown One of the Most Influential Persons in My Life

Tom Brown's books have had the most influence on my life and learning how to survive in the wilderness and off the land. Here is an interview of him. He gives some of the most  important basics of wilderness survival.

For the past 40 years I have read a majority of the survival and wild edible and medical plant books and Tom's books are by far the best. One I use the most both for myself and teaching others is Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature and Survival for ChildrenIt says for children but it is the best and most practical and fun book for learning wilderness survival skills that I have come across.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pine Trees for survival

The "Pine Tree" can quite arguably be considered the number one friend in the forest. Not only can every part of this highly versatile king of the woods be used, but those uses can range anywhere from shelter and heat to food and medicinal purposes, and even some less well known uses like glue and gum! We are fortunate that so many forested areas of our country contain varieties of this majestic friend from the towering sugar pines and ponderosas in the west, the pinyon in the southwest, the loblolly in the southeast, the eastern white pine in the northeast, and many more. All told, there are between 105 and 125 species worldwide, a third of which are right here in the U.S!

Let's take a look at an overview of the different parts of the pine tree and see what uses those parts can serve

Pine Needles
Pine needles vary greatly in size depending on the variety of tree, but for the most part you can take advantage of many of the uses below no matter what variety you have available.

  • As a mulch or as a compost. (While pine needles will help make alkaline soils more acidic, despite popular myths, pine needles won't make your soil nearly as acidic as you might think). They are not poisonous, and they will last about 2 years as a mulch
  • Baskets and Rugs. The longer varieties of pine needles are excellent for braiding or weaving with thread or long grasses in order to make baskets, rugs, and could even make a long term survival blanket in a wilderness shelter.
  • Starting fires. Dry pine needles are excellent for starting fires. They burn fast and hot and can help ignite larger sticks and pieces of wood.
  • Tea. The needles from most  pine tree varieties can be used to make tea rich in vitamin C.  (however, it must be noted that large quantities of pine needles have been known to cause miscarriages in livestock)
  • Survival Shelter roofing. Pine needles are great as a roof covering for your survival shelter. (of course be cautious of the fire hazard, especially with dry needles)
  • Animal bedding
  • Pillows and Mattresses. Another great use for a survival shelter. The needles have been known to help repel fleas and other insects.

Pine bark also has many uses. Some of these include:
  • Mulch
  • Pine bark extract. antioxidant and anti-inflammatory uses
  • Food. The inner bark can be eaten. Excellent to know in a SHTF survival situation.
  • Water filtration

Pine Sap
You would be surprised at the number and types of uses for pine sap, some of these include:
  • Turpentine. Pine sap can be distilled to make turpentine.  Which of course has many uses as well, including but not limited to, as a solvent, a cleaner, a lubricant, and medicinal purposes.
  • Gum.  Pine sap can be chewed like gum and will actually clean your teeth. It can also be used as a temporary filling for a toothache.
  • Starting fires. Pine sap is flammable and is great for starting fires.
  • As a candle. Use pine sap on sticks to make candles.
  • Medicinal uses. Pine sap can be used to seal wounds and has been used for its antibacterial properties.
  • Glue. Excellent uses for adhesives and as waterproof sealant
  • Flavoring.
Male pine cone flower
An excellent source of protein, the pollen from the male pine cone flower can be used to thicken stews or as a flower substitute.

Pine nuts
The nuts are edible and actually quite tasty.  Many recipes can be found on the web.

Pine cones
In addition to ornamental purposes, pine cones can also serve some uses in survival situations.
  • As a fishing bobber. You can use a pine cone as a bobber when fishing.
  • As a bird feeder. Take a mixture of cornmeal, shortening and bird seed and fill and cover the pine cone with it. Hang the pine cone to attract birds.
  • As a fire starter. Fill the pine cone with sap and use it to get your fire started.

Don't forget the wood!  This is of course, is the most well known and most versatile part of the pine tree and has virtually unlimited number of uses including heat, construction, furniture, paper, tools, handles, and just about anything that you can think of that is made of wood.  But did you know about it's water retention properties? The wood can be used in your garden to store rain water.  When buried below your garden in the soil, it will absorb the rain water like a sponge and continue to water your vegetables for weeks and sometimes even months.  This method is known as hugelkultur, and while a topic for another article, it's something definitely worth getting into.

This article came from The American Preppers Network 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Apples, Pears, & Crab Apples Harvest

A day of foraging.
It's apple pressing season. We were out collecting apples yesterday. We also came across a nice pear tree (got about 100  pounds) and some crab apple trees. After picking about 80 pounds of crab apples it didn't even look like we had make a dent on the trees.
Cooking down crab apples to make jam.
Notice the hard rolls in the back ground. We forage in the wild as well as anywhere else.

When we came across 150 dozen day old rolls for free we gathered those up too.
Pickled crab apples. This is their natural color. Yum! Yum!
We are drying these so we can store them for the winter to feed our animals. This is what's left after sharing dozens of dozens with friends, making croutons, garlic bread, toast, mini pizzas, dog food, etc.

This is the first time we have pickled crab apples and they are beautiful. Can't wait to taste them as I have fond memories of my aunt's pickled crab apples.

We'll be pressing apples this afternoon with a young man and his dad who have been on a number of our wild edible hikes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Identifying Posion Ivy

Two different stages.