Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Life-Reform Part 8

It is two years ago since I first started to log down my own experience of changing my own life-style for the better, so I think it is now time to go back over the last two years to give comments on this. Firstly, I have to say with honesty that I most certainly have not stuck wholly to what I wished to do, and there have been lapses I am afraid. However, these have been overcome and I have managed to get back on the right path again after a short time, so this cannot be seen as a 'failure' in any way.

Meat & Fish: I have kept to the pledge not to get these from the supermarket; at first I got these from a local farm-shop simply because it was on the way to take my daughter to college three times a week. When she finished college I had to find an alternative or have to pay more in fuel costs to make a journey that before had to be made. Using local butchers most of the time this was kept up; recently a new butcher has opened in the village and he sources from local farms so we get meat and free-range eggs from him. 

Bread: I still make my own bread and have extended this to making 'camp-bread' and other sorts useful when we go over to the woodlands where I meet up with Wulfgar and we make a dinner for ourselves. 

Milk: Unfortunately the source of 'raw milk' stopped because of some excuse about TB. Not sure of this since I have had it from the same source for this time and all of a sudden the risk of TB came onto the scene. There is a local milk supplier who produces all raw milk but the prices are so high as to be out of the question. What I do is to get milk supplied locally, though this is not always possible due to having to travel again. Unfortunately the 'Jersey Milk' supplied by supermarkets does look like real milk in that it has the cream on top, but as far as I can find out the cream is added later which rather defeats the object.

Vegetables: We still use local suppliers for this when we cannot grow our own; this year I plan to grow more fruit and veg and thus go further into being self-sufficient in this area. This is a difficult area because, again, only a local farm-shop that grows stuff on the farm mainly can supply stuff known to be locally grown, and again this requires a longer journey. 

These are the main things that I need to cover here; there are other things that I have done, and we are now in a better position to do more for ourselves than we were two years ago. I got hold of a second small raised-bed allotment plot last year and grew potatoes, onions and peas on the two plots; this year's plans should make this even more viable. There are also plans to extend this growing through the use of more available land. 

There is one thing that really stands out here; that is the difficulties in getting fresh, raw vegetables and fruit from local sources around Sussex. There are very few farms who actually grow food here; some cows, sheep and pigs but nothing like what there was a few decades ago. Plenty of horses to ride on which take up some of the fields, and plenty of unused land left unused for years - land that could be useful to those who would like to use them, but now in the hands of landowners who do absolutely nothing with it! Acres and acres of land which could grow food for local people's use, and thus make the county more self-sufficient and save on travel costs and pollution. I guess the craziness of the EU has some part in this but even so there is land out there which farmers could use to grow where there is a growing market for this.

Thursday, 4 January 2018


'Prepping' is the term used in the USA to explain the need to be prepared for any future catastrophic change or indeed any form of change that becomes a problem that needs to be dealt with. Unfortunately this, allied with many forms of 'conspiracy theory', gives vent to fear-mongering which serves the cause of the Dark Forces that control the world today. It also, in some cases, seems to serve the cause of the money-powers that will sell us anything for a quick 'buck'. I have seen so many videos trying to promote this or that which obviously makes for a profit for someone, somewhere. This is the real problem faced at every level; when anyone starts to promote something useful for mankind they are inevitably followed by someone, somewhere, who will distort this, and invariably make a quick profit from doing so. 

There is nothing wrong in 'Prepping', none-the-less; indeed, anyone who does not do so should be considered rather foolish considering the state of the world today. The idea of 'Prepping' is to be ready for anything, for it is better to be prepared (both physically and mentally) than to be 'thrown in at the deep end'. If we are ready, and have the right equipment, then we will always be in a better position to survive whatever comes. This is the reason for preparing oneself, and putting together the right gear for the job.

The first point that I should make is that there is no point in reading this, saying that you will do something, and then doing nothing about it. It is important that we are all ready and so it is important to take some form of action; 'New Year's Resolutions' might be a good thing to mention at this point. Make a note of what you wish to do and get on and do it

I do agree with the need for what our friends 'over the pond' call a 'Bug-out Bag'; this is some form of bag containing essential survival equipment. This can serve many purposes too, since it can be carried in the car with you at all times when driving so that it is there to hand if the equipment is needed. There are times when such equipment would be very useful, even here in England where things are not always as tough as many areas of the world. I remember back in 1981 when I was a truck driver and got caught in a heavy bout of snow in the Hereford area. I was forced to turn back into Hereford after taking the Worcester road and not being able to climb a hill because of the conditions (we are not used to such conditions and very few carry snow-chains, and in any case this was due to drivers not having the experience to move on snow). The police turned me back from another road closed due to a jack-knifed truck and I had to give up and go back into Hereford, where I was stuck for two nights as the weather worsened. I had overnight gear but if I had carried a good deal more stuff it would have been easier; it was perhaps by luck that I could get back to the nearest town, for had I been stuck out in the sticks things would certainly have been far different - and this is the time when we must think of what could have happened in a worse scenario.

I remember another time when my late brother, who was far better off than I have ever been, hit upon a hard time where he was forced into eating soup for his meals because he couldn't afford anything more. I did not know about this, since most of us are far too proud to tell others; had I known I would have obviously helped him out. Had he been prepared and stockpiled some food he would not have been in this situation. In fact, I myself have had times when my food-stocks have been completely run-down due to having to use them in the harder times. No doubt we all get these times, and if not there is always the possibility that something will happen to make preparing necessary. Even if it does not, nothing can ever be lost so long as we show moderation in everything, and do not go overboard.

So the need for a 'Bug-Out Bag' should be seen as essential, as should be the need to stockpile some food for an emergency. But a careful balance should be kept in all this since going too far is not only expensive but also unnecessary. This goes for equipment and food-stocks. In my own opinion the best thing to do is to grow food yourself as much as possible; this, of course, is seasonal, and food production is usually limited to the warmer months, so the worst part of the year (autumn-winter) is the problem here. This is a problem that can be overcome by careful preserving and storing for these times, especially since the cold can be an aid to storage. Knowing how to grow food is a start, and being able to do so, even in an emergency, will certainly help. Tinned food lasts a long time but this is not a healthy alternative, just an emergency. I will now look at these two things - the 'Bug-Out Bag' and the 'Food-stocks' now.

A wise saying is that he who carries least knows most; this is certainly true of survivalism. A good knowledge means that less equipment is carried; this was very true of the old 'pioneers' and 'explorers'. It does ring true, but only up to a point. In any survival situation the first thing needed is shelter, especially in very hot areas, very cold areas, and very wet areas, as well as the added problem of wind-chill in cold and wet areas. The knowledge of how to build a shelter from materials to hand is invaluable, but even more invaluable is to recognise that there are places where minimal shelter is needed since some form of shelter is already there if recognised. Even better if some form of shelter were carried with you to be put up in minutes rather than hours. This can be part of the kit put in a bug-out bag.

I am not going into the full kit needed to carry, which certainly depends upon the individual and the funds needed to put one together. Shelter, fire-lighting equipment, a knife, saw and axe, water-treatment and water-carrier, and some type of emergency blanket are a start. It also helps to carry some form of tea-making equipment and cooking equipment. Don't forget to carry a good first aid kit, which is often overlooked. You can start with the minimum amount and work up, but it is better to consider - from the start - that weight matters a great deal, and also quality. The obvious order to follow is - shelter, fire, water, and then food. This should be considered in what is packed in the bag.

I have packed out a bug-out bag for emergency use, but I also use it for my own personal use in training and practice, as well as for camping and our Folk-Moots. No point in having a bag full of brand new stuff that has never been used, and thus never tried and tested for use. The equipment is then ready for use immediately, and it becomes familiar to use when needed.

As I said, growing for food is the best way to go; it is a start to living 'off-the-grid' which should be our aim in the long term. Food grown can also be stored and preserved, which is a far more healthy way to go about this. I have stockpiled tinned food and packed food, and will still do so, but my own aim is to gradually move to preserving and storing my own home-grown food. Having acquired two small allotment plots this should increase the yearly yield of food in 2018. So now is the time to change direction and start to store and preserve home-grown foodstuffs. When storing food take careful note of 'use by' dates and rotate stocks. It is thus essential to use packaged and tinned food that is for everyday use, this being used and replaced. 

I have started to set up an area where I could feasibly live if anything happened to change things drastically. This can be done by anyone since all that is needed is an out of the way spot with a good deal of privacy - not so hard to find. I have done this before but this time it is on a larger scale, and far more practical.  Such a move would mean leaving 'civilised' life behind to some extent, but the aim is to prepare in advance by doing as much as possible to make things easier if something did happen, thus lessening the initial shock and impact on one's life. Some years ago we set up an area of a local woodland with a tepee-shelter and camping area; this was there for about six years before they bulldozed that particular piece of woodland as part of their 'woodland management'. There is a lessen there too, since had we used an area with younger trees, say a new area of birch-trees, this would not have happened. Pick the spot right and things would be easier.

It is also a good idea to keep some form of survival gear in the car, since this would be the usual means to get away into a more rural area if needed (for those in urban areas). Even if you live in a rural area there may still be a need to get away for some reason, so best be prepared. All that is needed in a car is the bug-out bag, a shovel, and the equipment needed to get the car going in an emergency. Blankets are also a useful carry, and these can be put on the seats to save space. helping keep the seats in better condition too. In an extreme emergency there may be a need to travel along the old 'dirt-tracks' in which case a 4 x 4 off-roader would be essential. 

'Prepping' is merely short for 'preparing' and the old scout motto of 'Be Prepared' is something to take note of and to take up seriously. Someone who is prepared is far better off than someone who is not. But when doing so I find that it is necessary to use the equipment that you have when practicing or when camping, since there are far too many YouTube sites where we see brand new and unused equipment being flaunted - sometimes to promote this for sellers, and not for their usefulness. 

An important point here; there are far too many sites promoting the use of new and expensive gear which may be far beyond the means of most people today. There is no need for expensive equipment since all that is needed at first is -

1. A good knife, preferably with a fire-starter on the sheath.

2. A good axe; here a forest axe or mini-axe can be carried.

3. A good saw.

4. A small camping cooking set.

5. Fire-lighting equipment, i.e. fire-starter, tinder.

6. A small stove - Kelly-Kettle/eKettle/ or a home-made wood-burning stove.

7. Water Bottle.

8. A First Aid Kit.

9. Shelter-building equipment - poncho/basha/tarp and paracord. 

Build up from these things into a Bug-Out Bag; again, it is not necessary to spend hundreds of pounds on equipment which can be bought cheaply second-hand or made as in the case of wood-burners. Spend the most on a good knife, good axe, and good saw - these are worth investing the most in. The above will get you out wild-camping; add a tent if you wish. 

There will be a need to set up some form of semi-permanent shelter which can be used in emergencies. This will not concern us here but I shall be featuring this in a future post. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Survival Food

Here are some ideas that will certainly help our people who go out and camp, practice bushcraft or survival. These are simple things but putting them down here may help others to save a good deal of time researching -
The following is a recipe for 'Damper Bread' or 'Bannock Bread' which is nothing more than a very simple bread made with ingredients that can be carried with you and only water need be added when you camp or train. Originally this bread was made as 'unleavened bread' (i.e. plain flour with no rising agent), but today it is usually made with self-raising flour or plain flour with baking powder added. The advantage is that the dried material can be carried in a bag/container and all you need is water and a good cooking-fire. Unlike normal bread this does not use 'Bread Flour' but normal plain or self-raising flour. It rises due to it being self-raising.
Ingredients -
450 grams (3 cups) self-raising flour/plain flour with baking powder).
180 ml (1 small cup) water.
1 tsp sugar (caster sugar preferably).
1/2 teaspoon salt.
(Tip - some of the recipes given for this bread do not state that it needs to be kneaded, but kneading the bread for about 100 turns helps the process greatly. You can, of course, leave out the kneading if this bread is prepared on site.)
Cooking - Cooking over an open fire should take around 2/3 to 3/4 the time of that done in a home oven - i.e. around 25 minutes or so.
This is the very basic bread-making mix which can be carried with you in a dry state ready to add water on site. When making this bread at home (and it is delicious!) I have used milk; a tip here is to add 2 tbsp. of powdered milk to the dry mix.
This is a very good way of making bread on an open campfire; the ingredients are the same as above but here I have given a slightly different recipe and method of cooking. Here the dough is placed on sticks which are cooked over the fire.
Ingredients -
I cup self-raising flour (or plain flour/ 1 tbsp. baking powder).
2 tbsp. powdered milk.
1 tsp salt.
1 tsp sugar.
Again, these dry ingredients are mixed before setting out. Either water or vegetable oil can be added to make the dough, water being perhaps the easiest since you will be carrying it anyway.
Cooking -
  • Gather some sticks suitable for twisting the bread onto.
  • Heat the sticks over the fire but do not scorch them; this heats and sterilises the sticks.
  • Twist the bread around the sticks.
  • Cook the bread-on-sticks over the fire.
This is an alternative if you are camping and have a Dutch Oven. You can cook any types of bread in this.
The above recipes are the very basic and you can add other ingredients as you wish. The following can be added, useful especially for making this bread at home -
  • Egg
  • Butter/lard/margarine
  • Ground pepper
  • Cornmeal
  • Herbs chopped finely
A tip here - as you can see I have used the measurements of certain ingredients as 'cups', 'tsp' (teaspoon) or 'tbsp. (tablespoon) in some of these. What would be a good idea is to measure all of the large ingredients you need in 'cups' using a standard plastic cup (camping-type cup). Doing this we move away from the need for modern scales, which would not be available on site. It would also standardise our measures since we here in England use different measures than the US, Canada, Australia etc.
Bread made with plain or self-raising flour tastes a lot different than that made from bread flour. It is both wholesome and filling, and, of course, you can use wholemeal flour if you wish, or make 'unleavened bread' which was the original way to do this. Whatever the case this is a good way to start to make your own bread on site from ingredients easy to carry in your backpack.
You can, of course, pay out four to five pounds on specially-prepared dried food for backpacking, but really this is not necessary. Here I am going to put forward some alternatives. Why do we need to carry food anyway? Well, in any emergency survival situation the first steps would be shelter-building, fire-lighting and finding water; food would be less of a priority and would take much more time. But a good meal inside us certainly lifts the spirits a bit, and gives us the energy to get active in what needs doing urgently.
When we talk of an 'emergency' for most of us that would be one which would happen to us when we are pretty well prepared, i.e. when we go out on a hike and get problems due to the weather, or break down in the car in a wilderness (not much of that here in England anyway). This means that we would (or rather should) have the necessary stuff with us in our backpack/car. The same situation would occur if we were made homeless or had to leave our home quickly. Again, we would have time to prepare; in saying this it is thus essential to have a 'bug-out bag' ready for such occasions and anyone who has not prepared a rucksack after being told so many times by various people at our Folk-Moots should do so as soon as possible.
Anyway, these are some ideas on what to pack into a rucksack in regard to ready-food -
  • Pot noodles - if you are leaving these in a bug-out bag leave them in their container, if using them straight away take out and put in a small polythene bag (lessens the weight).
  • 'Mug Shot' (Symingtons) - These come in various types, pasta being a good one to use. They are made in a mug (as the name suggests) adding boiling water and leaving for 5 minutes. Other makes are available.
  • Cup Soup/Cup-a-Soup - These are very easy to make, very light and the new Heinz variety is very good. Again, they are light to carry and here you can take the sealed sachets with you. Shelf-life is anything from 8 - 12 months.
  • Rice - the packets of flavoured rice are handy to pack into a rucksack, taking up very little room too. Some of these now take only 10 minutes rather than the original 20 minutes cooking time, so take half the time to prepare.
These make really good snacks and are quick and easy to make; taking a bread-mix with you as well will make this into a small meal for one. This is an ideal way to ensure you have something to eat when out. There are also other things you can take - pasta, rice, noodles etc. What would be a good idea is to stock up with these as an alternative to tinned food, or better still as well as tinned food. Remember, as with tinned food, to rotate stocks on a regular basis, marking when teir dating runs out. 
I am not going into the full use of dried food here since that is for another post; these are just a few ideas that can be got cheaply and easily. It should also be remembered that fruit-cake (the type of 'Christmas Cake mix') will last a good 12 months after making. This is another thing you can take along. Also perhaps pack in some home-made biscuits or scones (the Northern Lads might need cream to go with the scones, Veorsson and Vicaxe will put you right on this aspect!).

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Survivalism & The Future

I see no point whatever in us learning the very basics of survival through regular self-learning and self-training if this is as far as it goes. Some of us have done this whilst taking our children out, and thus they too learn the basics, but even this does not really go far enough. The family unit is just the smallest part of our Folk, and we have a duty and a responsibility to help our Folk through these troubled times. If we have built up a knowledge then we should pass this knowledge to others who form part of this struggle.
Young people of today are, in the main, ignorant of what to do in any type of emergency that may arise, and this cannot be a good thing. But there are today a growing number of young folk who are more willing, and no doubt able, to learn the arts of camping, outdoor-craft and survivalism. It is to these people we must look to impart our knowledge and to help this knowledge to pass on to future generations.
What I would suggest is that anyone who has taken up the task of self-learning and self-training in the basic forms of survival should offer their help and knowledge to young people who are today taking up this struggle for the freedom of our Folk.
When we consider the Martial Arts we should be able to note a pattern which emerges -
1. When we are younger we use physical strength and power rather than using the mind. This is because we have much more energy and vitality at a younger age.
2. As we grow older we have less physical strength and thus turn to the more esoteric side of the Martial Arts - the use of the mind and the progression of the spirit.
3. But when we are young we lack knowledge which is only gained through the wisdom of age, through the experience of the passing years. So in later life we have (or should have) knowledge and wisdom and it is this that we then must pass on to the next generation. We thus begin to teach.
There is very little point in taking years of our time to learn and amass such knowledge without it being put to good use. To put this to good use we must teach others what we have learned. Now, this is already being done on YouTube where there are numerous sites of interest to survivalists. But there can be nothing better than hands-on experience, and in teaching through this method the young people have an incentive to get out and get involved - rather than just looking at a video at home. It is very often the case that we need a push to get us started on something, and actually getting out on a camping trip could well fit the bill.
The idea of using a weekend of camping is ideal to start with, since it means being able to 'chill-out' a little in the first stage. This then would progress to the more serious side of learning through making things harder and 'rougher', progressing from a tent to a bivvy bag and tarp etc., and also learning the basics of how to build shelters from just the material available in the area. Star off slowly and progress to harder tasks. We can all now start to think about doing this and offering our services to other individuals and groups.

Shelter & Fire

The two main tasks undertaken in a survival situation, or indeed in any camping situation, are the building of a shelter and then a fire. This is especially true here in England where the weather can be wet at any time of the year, and in winter getting wet means the body gets colder and hyperthermia can easily set in. Not only are these physical points important, for a shelter and a good fire lift the spirits and give a boost in confidence at the start - and also take the mind away from one's predicament.

A simple shelter -


The simplest and quickest shelter is the lean-to; here I used a small tarp draped over a length of paracord tied between two trees. Notice how tarp clips are used to secure the tarp to the cordage. I have seen videos on YouTube where loops are made through the eyelets and pieces of wood pushed through the loops, an excellent way to do this when tarp-clips are not available. But I carry them in the kit so that I am ready to put it up without making pieces of wood up - and also sometimes carry tent-pegs to peg the back down, but again pieces of wood can be made up. (Of course, before going out on a training trip you could make pieces of wood up for the eyelets and pegging-down, and these could be carried at every trip. In doing so it would be advantageous to use linseed oil on them all to make them waterproof so that they last a longer time.)
The advantage of a lean-to type is that it can be put up very quickly when it first starts to rain, thus keeping you and your kit dry. Overnight sleeping is alright, but the front may need to be lowered a little to keep the rain out. But it is not an ideal way to sleep in cold weather, though a long fire would keep you warm. I have done this many times in the cold of winter and got through, but things do get cold, and in windy conditions the winds change directions.

This A-Frame shelter is much better since it gives protection on three sides, and stacking the bags against the front would make it even more weather-proof. Of course, and easier way to make it would be to use a single stick at the front, or better still a walking-pole if carried with you (which itself is a good idea since these are adjustable and very handy for many uses). For a one-man shelter this is ideal and very quick to put up when using a walking pole or single pole. Remember that when using a single pole wrap something around the top end so that it does not rip the basha/tarp.
The above shelter was made using a basha but a larger tarp could be used to make it a bit bigger. As you can see two small children fitted into this one, and one small adult would fit in easily. There are many other ways of setting up a tarp and we shall feature more ways in this blog.

Fire-Lighting -

I have featured fire-lighting in early blogs so I will not go into full details here. The important thing to remember is to ensure that you have the following, which should be stored ready for use or collected when the weather is dry -
  • A supply of tinder. What I carry with me is cotton-wool or a Tampax which easily lights. The cotton-wool can be soaked in Vaseline or candle-wax; this makes it light even easier, and keeps the moist out. Collect small slithers of birch-bark when it is dry and keep them with you in your kit.
  • A few pieces of dry small kindling can be carried in your kit, or you can collect these when the weather is dry for use in the wet.
  • Collect pine-resin and larger pieces of birch-bark which light even when wet.
  • It is a good idea to ensure that the tin containing your tinder is held tight using a few pieces of rubber cut from an old bicycle tyre; these would light with a lighter/matches even when wet, and burn in the wet. (Small points like this are important, since you carry little more weight and have more chance of lighting a fire in the wet.)
Last weekend I took the dog for a walk into our local woodlands; when we set out it was warm, fine and sunny. I took the car because we were going over to the far side of the woods for a change, which was a lot greater distance than using our normal route. When we got there it started to rain; luckily I had a rain-coat but I still got very wet around the legs and feet.
For once I did not take any shelter-building kit, only the mKettle and some dried food and coffee. The rain stopped after about 30 minutes but not before I was quite wet, so I decided to light a fire and dry out. This time of year is not cold but it does help to be dry. With the fire-lighting kit that I carried it was quite easy to get a fire going and dry out pretty quickly. In such a situation it is good to make a quick cup of coffee to warm up with. But I will think next time about taking the shelter-building kit too - it would have come in handy even when taking the dog for a long walk.
Putting up a quick lean-to shelter takes less than five minutes and can be the difference between getting wet and keeping totally dry - and keeping your kit dry too. I now use a small green tarp which is strapped to the Snugpack Response Pack for instant use. Also carried is an old ground-sheet which fitted the front section of an old tent I had to throw away years ago - keeping it came in handy.


Survival Bags

This Snugpack Response Pack contains the following items -
  • A small Gransford-Bruks Axe.
  • A Bahco folding saw.
  • A survival knife with steel-striker.
  • A small ground-sheet.
  • Paracord and tarp fasteners.
  • A basic fire-lighting kit.
  • A basha (strapped to the outside).
  • A small torch (fastened to outside).
  • A survival blanket.
This kit all fits into the pack easily, with the basha strapped to the outside. To complement this I sometimes use another 'bum-bag' which contains the following -
  • An mKettle.
  • A small water-bottle.
  • some 3-in-1 coffee sachets.
  • Dried meals.
  • A fork-spoon.
  • 2 plastic cups.
The two bags can be carried over the shoulders, crossing over each other, which is quite comfortable and not heavy.
The survival knife has a steel-striker and a sharpener attached to the sheaf, which makes it a very useful and handy tool to carry. This has seen many years of wear without any problems and keeps very sharp. It is Swedish made.

The above is a Japanese made mini-saw, but I usually carry a Barco folding saw which is larger and cuts larger logs. The Bahco has given years of use and as yet has not even had to have the blade renewed. I have also used these Bahco folding saws for many years on gardening tasks.

To be quite honest this small kit is quite sufficient for training purposes; the twin-bags are easy to carry and with each one containing different things - one contains shelter/fire, the other contains food/drink/cooking - it is easy to get to what you need.

This is the mKettle which heats up quickly when used with wood fuel, and slightly less quick when using a methylated-spirit burner (and slower with the latter in the cold of winter). It was new when this photo was taken some years ago, and today it is still going strong, though it does suffer from a typical fault (like the Kelly Kettle) of the aluminium base distorting slightly after a few years of heat using wood fuel. This, however, does not distract from its purpose and it still works fine.
This is the Storm-Kettle or Kelly-Kettle which is slightly larger and does not have the cover which makes it easy to lift up. Again, this one was new when the photo was taken, but after many years of use it is still going strong. I have a larger one for our Folk-Camps.
This is the mini-axe from Gransford-Bruks which fits perfectly into the small pack. It is now some years old and has kept its edge well through sharpening and keeping clean. Although very small it is heavy enough to tackle many of the jobs needed in survivalism. I have the larger hatchet too which is used at Folk-Camps.
This is not a 'survival kit' in the sense of a small kit carried at all times; it is a kit suited to weekly training in a local woodland area. The idea is to do the basic survival training as a weekly practice - 'practice makes perfect'. This then becomes automatic and the work can be done without thinking about it. The advantage is that once the basic shelter-building and fire-lighting can be done automatically the basics are done with and other important tasks can then be undertaken.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Life Reform - Part Seven

My good friend and Folk-Comrade WyrdWalker asked about a bread recipe so I thought that doing another post would be a chance to put this in. What I do is to use the most simple method to make bread from the following ingredients -

500g/1lb Flour.

1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

1 teaspoon sugar.

1 teaspoon dried yeast.

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl and add the other dry ingredients, mix together thoroughly.

Add 15 ml (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil or olive oil, and mix together as before.

Add 300ml/1/2 pint warm water (2 parts cold to one part warm), and mix together in the bowl into a soft dough. 

Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes.

Put the dough into a small bread-tin. Cover with greaseproof paper and leave for 30-45 minutes in a warm place to rise.

Preheat oven to 230 degrees C. Bake loaf for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 200 degrees C and bake for another 15-20 minutes. It is ready when removed from the tin and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. 

This recipe is ideal since it is so simple and can be used to make all kinds of bread. I have used it to make wholemeal bread, Wessex Cobber (which is made with various seeds) and Malt Loaf. The Wessex Cobber and Malt Loaf are made from flour already mixed - the bread is from farms in Wessex. White flour can, of course, be used. 

You can also make bread using herbs, seeds or garlic, and the only limit is your own imagination. The above recipe would do for any type of bread and the ingredients can be changed to suit your own use. One tip, however, the Malt Bread dough is very, very sticky and this need only be mixed together not having to knead for so long - a couple of tablespoons of golden syrup adds taste to this too. 

In the summer I am going to try to get hold of some local flour since Sussex has a number of windmills, some of which are still used to produce bread for 'tourism' (would it not be good to see them used for locals). We have two windmills and one watermill within a radius of five miles, one windmill and the watermill still producing flour on days of the year. 

I do the bread-making by hand but a machine would no doubt be easier; kneading the bread for 10 minutes is in fact good arm-exercise! Whatever the case using this recipe makes it easy to do and to remember. The exact measurements are less important than the 'feel' of the dough. Being new to this I have baked all our bread and only once did it go wrong (when I forgot it was in the oven and it came out black - at least I'm not 'prejudiced'). 

The project is going well still and the only problem that I have faced is getting supplies of Raw Milk because the local farm-shop does not always have a stock. So far I have avoided getting it delivered because it is dearer, but I do feel that in the end I will have to go this way. I have to pass the farm-shop three days a week to take my daughter to college, but when she finishes in June this will not be so. 

I have changed my garden to try to get earlier crops of salad-veg; our front garden is south-facing so I have put in two raised beds, one with salad-veg and the other with strawberries. The salad-veg is coming along much earlier even with the colder weather we have been having. The raised bed for this was made up as follows -

  • It is around 4ft x 4ft which is small but easily manageable, and the problem with salad-veg is that it all comes through at once so a lot is not needed at one time. It is around 18 inches tall.
  • The bottom was filled with rotting logs, small branches and evergreen cuttings. These will break down slowly and give nutrients.
  • A layer of grass-cuttings was added to this - this warms the whole thing up.
  • Compost, soil and manure was then added to make the top layer which is grown on. 
The raised bed was indeed warmer due to the south-facing aspect and no doubt also to the grass-cuttings which warm up. This has forced the growing ahead of its time. Also, I cut two pieces of plastic roofing sheets to go over the top at night, which keeps the warmth in. 

The rest of the garden is made easier since I grow potatoes and onions in a good part of it - these never are a problem. We also grow tomatoes, spring onions, chives, squash, courgettes, cucumbers, radish, peas, runner beans, beetroot, turnip etc. We have four apple trees, a plum tree, two pear trees, a cherry tree and fruit bushes (raspberry, redcurrant, blackcurrant, gooseberry) . Also a grape vine and thorn-less blackberry bushes scattered around. 

Apart from last year with the back-leg problem I have made our own jam from collecting local blackberries and wild plums, and I hope to do the same this year. Without using any preservatives these lasted for 6 - 8 months. If we have a good crop of currants I shall use this to make jam a bit earlier than blackberries.

When doing hikes across the South Downs we came to find where wild strawberries and gooseberries grow, as well as wild plums (damsons). One of the things that would be of advantage is to keep an eye open around us as to where we can find food growing wild. There is an area further north in East Sussex where at least twelve apple trees grown beside the main road. We don't usually have problems with apples as some I grow, and also have a friend who has a large apple tree and does not use them so we get a stock each year and freeze them. 

The mentality of the broad masses is rather strange in this respect, since most would rather use supermarket fruit to stuff grown themselves - even when it is there free-of-charge and fresher by far. When we grow the stuff ourselves we are used to the blemishes and see the 'inner' side of things - the goodness and freshness. I think this is the real problem, since most people only look to the outside appearance of everything, and overlook the 'inner' side. This has caused great problems really, in many ways. Take for instance the washing of foodstuffs such as root vegetables; when they are washed they decay quickly. 'Consumers' would rather have the appearance of clean unblemished food than have good quality, fresh, nutritional food that lasts longer. Of course, the supermarkets will not argue with this since the stuff goes off quickly and they can sell more! 

This brings up another point - preserving and storing. Vegetables can be stored easily over the winter months, and this is something that needs learning. Fruit and vegetables can be preserved into jams, chutney etc. Fruit and vegetables can also be frozen, and some (like peas) do not lose any of their goodness in doing so. Some can also be dried and this is another way to store food. 

One of the aims of this project is also to grow and forage for food which can be stored up for later use. I have in the past encouraged the stockpiling of food for emergency use, and doing so would certainly be an advantage over others. But I have noticed over the past 10 years or so that the 'use by' dating on tinned food has gone drastically down. It used to be a fact that tinned food lasted decades, but I am not so sure nowadays. Rather than a 'use by' date of some 6 years, we are now down to around 3 on many items, and I am not sure as to why this is. Also, the long-life does not apply to tins that are milk-based which go off very quickly. My aim is to shift the emphasis from too much stockpiling of tins to the storage of home-grown food or food foraged from the wild - which means replenishing the stocks each year. I still stock about 3 weeks supply of food for an emergency but will try to add my own to this. 

I believe that the main point in stockpiling is to have a small stock that would help in an emergency; this could be used whilst food is then found, much harder in the winter months, of course. A problem that I did find with stockpiling was that the foodstuffs had to be restocked as the sell-by date went well past, and thus tinned food had to be eaten for some time. I wanted to avoid this since fresh food is far better, so I have now turned to the alternative of growing and foraging for food and preserving, drying or freezing it. 

There is also an old saying - 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket'. I have mentioned tins (which keep well), preserving (which lasts for maybe months), drying (which lasts longer) or freezing (which lasts months but needs a supply of electricity or gas). Using a mixture of methods would seem to be the best approach. Whatever the case preserving and storing is a must for the future. 

By growing and foraging, hunting and fishing, we get back into the rhythm of the seasons; foodstuffs found in the supermarkets today are shipped all over the world, disregarding seasonal growing in one area. Getting back to basics we would eat food that is in season, and food stored for the colder and wetter months. Ours is a Nature-Religion too.