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.