Saturday, September 12, 2009

A rattlesnake had the nerve to bite PureCajunSunshine, Part 1

Dearest Friends,

I have a recipe for Rattlesnake Gumbo, and I am not afraid to use it! Unfortunately, I missed a chance to make it because the snake that bit me on the leg got clean away before I could catch it.

All kidding aside, I am having a very rough time of it…and to make a long story short, I am trying not to lose my leg. On top of all that, I’m not sure which is worse: hospital food or snakebites.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I am unable to get online! Maybe it’s just as well…my morphine-fueled posts and rants may not be appropriate for the internets. Because I am not sure when I’ll be able to post again, I am typing this on a laptop computer and will burn it onto a CD to give to a friend who will cut and paste it to here. (Thank you sweetly, Billie!)

Some time ago, I wrote on my blog about herbal measures that I used with great success on a copperhead snakebite and brown recluse spider bites. I also cautioned that if professional medical care is available, to USE IT. If medical care is NOT available, or won’t be available for a while (such as in the event of a severe and prolonged disaster, or a zombie invasion, or some other crisis), then it might be helpful to know which herbs our ancestors have used for eons. Of course, in spite of the very best care that modern and ancient medicine has to offer, nothing is 100% guaranteed!

Hopefully between modern medicine and natural healing efforts, I will be back online to announce my recovery soon!

By the way, toasted garlic bread, a tossed salad and a fine red wine goes very well with Rattlesnake Gumbo.

‘til later,


Part 2, a couple of weeks later:

I am tired of being digested alive by rattlesnake venom!

What a wild ride this is…The doc says it ’taint over yet. He said I was not out of the woods, but we’re approaching a clearing…

I STILL HAVE MY LEG (so far) !!!!!

I have been so exhausted that a few times I came here and also to a few of my favorite forums to thank all y’all for your kindnesses and welcome smiles and laugh-out-loud funnies…but I couldn’t sit long enough and think clearly enough to post, until now.

My leg is still horribly swollen and sitting in front of puter makes it scream…

Rattlesnakes are such bad juju that here it is two weeks later, and it still feels like I am being bitten over and over again… and there’s the weird sensation of a snake writhing around inside my leg! I was told that others who have been bitten experienced similar feelings. I suppose this is the result of nerves and muscles rebelling…

I just can’t NOT write about this…Soon as I can, I will post more about it on my blog, with a view to surviving rattlesnake bites, especially in austere situations...complete with pictures for Pablo. (Warning…not for the fainthearted or those with snake phobias.)

I've been in and out of the ER, and in the hospital bed five times, and spent most of the rest of the time at a friend's (with no internet) and now recently back home.

Yes, I am battling compartment syndrome, and I am worried sick, cause the pressure has not eased up very much for two weeks. I still have circulation in my toes...HOW DO I RELIEVE THIS AWFUL PRESSURE (without surgery?).

They are hesitating to do the surgery because of several reasons...don't have the stamina to explain it right now. My leg looks like a train wreck and now I'm getting some raised red whelps that are painful...I caught some term, vascularization...something or another...doc flew off before I could ask what that was about.. Also, how long can a leg be under this amount of pressure and horrific bruising....?

I am praying that infection (gangrene, etc.) stays out of the picture, as well.

Thank all ya’ and friends in the cyberworld and in the meatworld for your kindnesses and good wishes. There’s something so very therapeutic about friends rallying ‘round…

‘til later,


Part 3:

I'm 'bout ready to haul off and hunt that snake down right now.  Today is the 20th day since it bit my leg and it feels like it's been forever…

If'n I can whine, I must be getting better, right? In many ways yes, and some ways no.

Sitting at the computer is agony, still. (It will take more than a few tries to complete this post.)

To make a long story snakebite recovery was clouded by the lack of antivenin treatment.

Snake antivenin is not given to persons who have had reactions to anti-tetanus and anti-rabies treatment, unless cardiac or respiratory arrest is in the picture. Otherwise, the consequences of deadly reactions to the snake antivenin serum are too great, even with the best measures taken to correct them.

I was not given antivenin treatment because of a past history of serum sickness and bad reaction to two episodes of anti-rabies treatment that I underwent three years apart, six years ago… (second go-round was a serious anti-rabies overdose situation…The docs mistakenly gave me the entire ten-shot regimen over again instead of the required two shot booster dose).  Serum Sickness City.

On the other hand as a result of not having antivenin, I experienced a rougher ride with the snakebite itself.

I've also been battling a massive bacterial infection that was introduced along with the snake's venom…This (and the effects of the venom) caused my entire leg to swell up Goodyear Blimp style…and away we went. 'round the clock IV antibiotics hardly fazed it. After two days, it finally started to show a little improvement…

I looked at my leg and tried not to throw up. That's sayin a lot for a Cajun, seeing how we're such a strong-stomached bunch, and all…How in the world can a human leg bruise and swell and stretch so much without splitting wide open?  The nurses told me of a patient they had who was bitten on the arm by a rattlesnake. His arm swelled up and finally did split…why did they hafta tell me all that?

The fevers were weird, weird, weird…waves of them left me drenched in sweat and dizzier than a fool on Bourbon Street after Mardi Gras…In between the waves, I felt so fragile that it scared me. I'm not the tough nut I thought I was.

The hemotoxic effects of the rattlesnake's venom caused my platelet count to plummet to near spontaneous hemorrhaging levels.  My veins were disintegrating with only a few rounds of IV antibiotics, morphine, etc. (I forgot the medical term for it). My arms look like they've been in a train wreck, with all the bleeding under the skin going on.

Doc told me that normal platelet levels are near 100,000, and that spontaneous hemorrhaging occurs at 10,000. Then the doc told me that my platelets were dropping, and at last count it was 18,000. (I'm happy to say that as of this writing, my platelet levels are finally back to normal.)

Then the nasty words 'compartment syndrome' were thrown around for good measure. The remedy for this condition in snakebites is primitive and brutal, and is the alternative to amputation…Unfortunately it in my situation, it would also have been extremely bloody.  On its website, the World Health Organization detailed the procedure and showed how in a case similar to mine (no antivenin, low platelet count, etc), a patient underwent the fasciotomy surgery and was given 20 units of blood to try to stem the loss…

Forget that mess. And, I'd imagine cell salvage procedures would also be a joke…

I was told to watch my toes, and if they showed signs of impeded circulation, then it was time to do an emergency fasciotomy.  It is butchery on a snakebitten leg…

For my leg, the plan is to make two great big and deep incisions, from just below my knee to my ankle. One on the inside of my calf, the other on the outside of my leg. The cuts are made deep, in order to cut through the fascia (the tough membrane that covers groups of muscles). Each group of enclosed muscle is called a compartment. When the compartment fills with blood, fluid, etc. the pressure on blood vessels and nerves can cause permanent damage. When the pressure is too great, muscle and tissue quickly begins to die and decay…Hence the emergency to cut it open in a large way.

The brutal-to-me part: These incisions are left wide open for a week or more (sometimes less), with saline dressings on top to keep things from drying out, and to encourage muscle tissue to extrude from the wound…! Later, the mess is closed with skin grafts…

Naturally, because snakebite and hospital introduced infections are common, there is a chance of muscle loss anyway.

Bottom lines: I am hopefully almost 'there' as far as winning the battle with the bacterial infection (leg is still hot and swollen, but not as much. Fevers are gone.)…and my platelet count is back to normal…but the compartment syndrome is still a worry.

I'm just glad the rattlesnake did not bite me on the face or neck…which almost happened. I was squatting down on the ground cutting the wires to strap the "No Trespassing' sign to the tree with…and stood up, and squatted back down to fool with the wires some more, and stood up again when BAM the snake bit me on the leg…

Being hard of hearing, I didn't hear the rattlesnake ‘say’ a single word with the characteristic rattling they do, and it was so well camouflaged that I didn't notice it at first…

Wow. This could have been so much worse.

I learned more than a few things from this experience. One of the best things I learned is the immense value of Echinacea, a time honored Native American snakebite herb…it is doing wonders for the pain, infection, fever and more…

I'll write more about that later here on my blog, f'sure.

Thank all y'all sweet'uns (here, there and everywhere) for your graciousness.


Friday, June 12, 2009

How to make three months of food last six months, and why you need to know...

Can you think of ways you can stretch your groceries if you were suddenly faced with not being able to buy more for some reason? I’d like to share a few ideas with you to help kickstart your own idea machine.

How far do you think you could stretch your groceries if you really needed to? How solid are your emergency preparedness plans? Could you deal with a longer crisis than anticipated, or multiple ones? Why should you consider questions such as these?

The scene of this world is rapidly changing and becoming more threatening, with no letup in sight. Just a few bumps in the wrong places on the beltway of global commerce alone can trigger a cascading chain of events that can put a serious dent in anyone’s plans.

Our global community has grown so fragile and unpredictable that new normals are being set every day. Here are a few interesting factoids that illustrate how fast the scene of our world is changing. What we are witnessing today was not ‘normal’ just ten, twenty or thirty years ago!

Not that many years ago, terrorism was almost unheard of. The June 1986 issue of the Awake! magazine reports this about the early years of terrorism (see the commentary at the end of this article for an explanation of these statistics):

In 1971, fewer than two dozen people died in terrorist attacks worldwide.

In 1983, 10,000 people around the world were killed in terrorist attacks.

Despite increasingly diligent and aggressive anti-terrorism measures, the year 2007 saw over 22,000 people killed in terrorist attacks. Things are heating up fast!

And look at the disasters!

In 1960, there were 523 catastrophic disasters worldwide.

In 1970, there were 720 catastrophic disasters worldwide.

In 1980, there were 1387 catastrophic disasters worldwide.

Globally, more than 2.5 billion people were affected by floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters between 1994 and 2003. That's a 60% increase over the previous two ten-year periods, United Nations officials report. (These numbers do not include the millions displaced by the horrific tsunami which killed an estimated 180,000 people in South and Southeast Asia in 2004. Also, those numbers do not include Hurricane Katrina's victims and survivors.)

Despite better communications and evacuation methods, more people than ever are dying in natural disasters. As recent as 2008, 220,000 people perished in natural disasters.

Then there's the global threat of out-of-control influenza and other pandemics that are admittedly unstoppable. Famine can strike anywhere now, thanks to shortsighted agricultural practices such as monoculture and genetically engineered food crops. Weather conditions wreak havoc with our food supplies. Agricultural terrorism is waiting in the wings. War is an ever present threat in many places.

Because we can only digest so much bad news, it’s easy to be lulled into a jaded complacency that dulls our vision and hearing. It’s only natural, or else we would all go mad with worry. On the other hand, the wrong kind of complacency can be deadly because ignoring probabilities does not make them any less likely to happen. Being well prepared brings peace of mind because you know that you have done all that you reasonably can to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious emergencies.

The old saying about ‘preparing for the worst and hoping for the best’ is wise, considering the uncertainty of our times. Because none of us know what emergencies lay ahead or for how long, it doesn’t make much sense to limit your preparedness goals based on a guess what the disaster of the day might be. (If you do hazzard to guess, then be prepared to deal with the tragic possibility of being wrong.) It makes sense to prepare for the most likely events first, but don’t stop there. It’s better to be a little over prepared than not enough. The broader your plans are, the more your back will be covered.

Being well prepared is not a destination, with a finish line where you can say, “I have finally arrived! I have enough!” View your preparedness plans as an ongoing, evolving process of learning new ways to be more self-reliant. You and those around you will benefit from being better prepared for The Unexpecteds.

Being well prepared is learning how to be more self-reliant, and being less of a victim of your own ignorance.


Take an inventory of your supplies. How much do you have on hand? At your present rate of consumption, how long will they last? Three days? Three weeks? Three months? What will happen if you run out of supplies and replacements are not readily available? Hmmm... ok, then...

With that thought in mind, pay close attention to warning signs of prolonged or multiple events that could affect your ability to renew your supplies. You may need to consider a few drastic measures to stretch your provisions to create a thicker cushion against hard times.

1. RATIONS: Consider the possibility that someday you may need to view your provisions as rations, rather than as your only source of sustenance. Be prepared to use your provisions only to supplement what you cannot get otherwise. If you ever find yourself in the midst of a severe crisis, don’t wait until you have gone through most of your stuff to begin rationing. If you can, begin stretching your supplies early on, and take all reasonable measures to make them last as long as possible.


A) Indoor/outdoor food gardens
can be grown just about anywhere in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Explore different gardening techniques that would be useful in your area. For example, if gardening is difficult because of too much shade or not enough water, seek information about which food plants thrive under those conditions. Are you physically challenged, or do you live in an apartment in the city? Look into container gardening. Many kinds of vegetables can grow in surprisingly small spaces. Highly nutritious sprouts are easy to grow inside a quart jar. Poke salad shoots can be grown in a cardboard box in a closet. Surprised? Wait, there’s more…

B) Guerrilla gardening: hiding in plain sight.

If historical accounts of the Great American Depression (and other sad chapters in human history) are any indication, you can expect conventional or “normal” gardens to be a magnet for hungry visitors during particularly hard times. If you realize that you can’t feed everyone who comes knocking, and if you can’t see yourself standing guard over your beans, corn and tomatoes, consider gardening guerrilla-style.

Guerrilla gardens can be grown just about anywhere--in the city, suburbs and in the rurals. This new clandestine type of gardening can be made highly theft-resistant without the need for fences or alarms, operating on the principle of ‘hiding in plain sight’.

You can easily grow delicious and highly nutritious ‘specialty vegetables’ that won’t attract the attention of those who are unaccustomed to eating them. Certain plants that look like weeds or ornamentals to most people in your community are highly prized as delicious foods by people in other lands. More information about this style of gardening with easy to grow plants will be discussed in my future blog posts and will be covered in detail in the upcoming Mrs. Tightwad’s Creative Survival Handbook.

C) Go for the wild and natural. Learn the basics about harvesting animals and wild plants for food and medicine.

Making meat: If you are an inexperienced omnivore who wants to learn how to 'make meat', you may want to consider cultivating a working knowledge of fishing, hunting and trapping, now. These skills can go a long way in stretching your provisions. If you are not skilled in these areas, consider taking the time now to learn. Viewing documentary videos, along with some real-time observations and experiences will help you to be a better hunter and gatherer. Much in the way of animal behavior, along with a plethora of hunting tips and techniques can also be learned from library books and the internet ( is your friend).

During prolonged or widespread crisis, expect hunting pressure to adversely affect deer and other wildlife populations, in terms of a lower count and increase elusiveness. Consider studying smaller animals and birds that are generally more plentiful and easier to hunt and trap.

Foraging for wild edibles and medicines: There are a lot of look-alikes in the botanical world, and some are deadly poisonous. If you don’t have an experienced guide to personally introduce you to the wonderful world of wild cuisine, then get a reputable guidebook and proceed very slowly and carefully. Don’t try to learn too many things at once.

One of the easiest and the most foolproof learning tools I’ve ever seen is the Peterson Identification System, as taught in the Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants in the Peterson Field Guide Series. These guides are sponsored by the National Audubon Society and are published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.

These guidebooks really shine with incredibly detailed descriptions, illustrations and photos that aid in positive identification. Plants that have poisonous look-alikes are indicated by a skull and crossbones icon as a warning, and a special chapter is devoted to them.

D) Go native! Broaden your horizons by learning about “alternative” foods that primitive tribes around the world have thrived on for thousands of years.

If you live in America, a casual study of traditional Native American foods that sustained the tribes that originally inhabited your region should be enlightening.

E) Microfarming: the other, other meat.

If you find your supplies nearing the end of their existence, and if times are austere enough, you may also want to consider ‘microfarming’, or raising certain insects for an abundance of nutritionally rich and life-sustaining food. Other folks may think of it as raising fish bait. Naturally, I prefer to recycle the fish bait first, by fishing. But if times were hard enough and I couldn’t fish for some reason, then I’d consider eating the bait (after proper cooking of course).

For thousands of years people around the world have cooked and eaten certain insects for their superior nutritional value and also because they’re tasty. This makes perfect sense because no one in their right mind would want to eat a bug, if it didn’t taste good. In many parts of the world, certain insects are highly prized delicacies that fetch good prices on the market, and are eagerly sought after.

If times ever get hard enough and you are staring at starvation, please do consider microfarming. After all, millions of people around the planet couldn't have been wrong all these years.

Those with high ‘ick’ factors can take a lesson from smart mommies around the world: camouflage the undesirable food! Cooked, dried and pulverized almost to a powder, insects can be added to soups and stews without anyone noticing the source of extra nutrition. Although the flavor of most insects is considered quite mild and bland, it is possible to sort different flavors of some insects to match or complement the flavor of the dish at hand. For instance, roasted June Bugs are said to faintly resemble the flavor of malted milkball candies and would do well to raise the nutritional value of a variety of sweet dishes. Imagine that.

F) Minifarm with small animals.

Unless you have the means to grow all your own animal feed, owning conventional livestock may become a hardship and a liability during prolonged emergencies and other hard times. Smaller animals are generally easier to maintain because of their size and feed requirements, and make good choices for minifarming during hard times.

During really hard times when hungry thieves may be a problem, some animals can be raised indoors, out of sight. If set up properly, animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs are easy to maintain indoors and pose little to no odor problems. An easy ‘ecosystem’ can be created with wire cages suspended above worm beds (plastic boxes containing soil and worms). The worms will recycle animal wastes into nutrient rich castings which makes an excellent plant fertilizer.

To prepare against the really, really hard times, you may also want to consider collecting information about how to raise some of the smaller critters such as rats or mice. The taste of the meat is said to be quite good, and has been enjoyed by people in other lands for generations.


Self-reliance topics such as these may seem extreme to some who have always enjoyed an uninterrupted supply of food and water. In contrast, many people are seeing the need to explore as many options as possible because they recognize that our food and water delivery systems are becoming increasingly unreliable and disturbingly vulnerable to new threats and interruptions.

None of us can be totally self-sufficient, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to be a little less dependent on an undependable system. Independence begins with knowledge. Accumulating a wealth of information is good, but having a working knowledge is even better and may prove to be more sustaining than relying on a pile of stockpiled goods that have a limited shelf life.

Can you learn and practice new self-reliant skills right now? Hopefully, you will never need to put this information to use, but if you wait until the last minute to learn too many new skills, it would be a lot like waiting until you are drowning before learning to swim.

A few words about statistics...

Notice that the terrorism statistics given at the outset of this article represent what is called ‘non-state terrorism‘. State terrorism is not included in the statistics given by Wikipedia and other similar factoid places because they are considered to be 'acts conducted by governments'.

When you do a Google search using the key words: 'deaths terrorism 1971', you’ll find state terrorism deaths are not included in the statistics published in many of the encyclopedia-type sites such as, Wikipedia and other similar notables. The acts committed against people by governments or their armies are not considered in the statistics.

So, what I'm seeing is that while the harm done by some political machines can be horrific and terrible, it's apparently not coined with the term 'terrorism'. That’s too bad, because terroristic acts committed in the name of governments are in many ways worse than that of individuals in a militant or religious group.

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter how you look at it, regardless of the source! To me this ‘state’ and ‘non-state’ distinction is terribly misleading, also because it is obvious that some deaths will fall through the cracks of “facts” and may never be reported justly or accurately. To see an example, Google statistics involving the IRA (Irish Republican Army). Although by definition (from,the IRA is "a militant organization of Irish nationalists who used terrorism and guerilla warfare in an effort to drive British forces from Northern Ireland...", those who died under IRA hands sometimes are not counted in terrorism statistics because of the misleading 'state' distinction.

In spite of these inaccuracies in historical accounts, one thing is clear: terrorism in every form is showing no signs of slowing down and more innocent people than ever will be affected by it in the future. No, it’s not a new thing, by a long shot, but it is an unstoppable growing thing that every preparedness plan should take into account.

This copyrighted article may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seeds for survival gardens? How reliable are they?

Before ordering from a new-to-me seed company, I always plug their name into the search box here:

The Garden Watchdog has saved me a small fortune with just a few clicks. It is a "directory of 6,750 mail order gardening companies. Here gardeners share their opinions on which companies really deliver on quality, price and service."

Keep in mind, a few bad reviews does not always mean a bad business, but a long string of them is a good indication that something is not right.

Speaking of not right…

Hmmm...looks like more than a few ‘survival seed’ companies are jumping on the $eed wagon these days. My concern with some of these new boys on the block is their integrity.

Without naming names, I’ll just use a typical example of a ’survival garden seed’ outfit selling an (x) number of thousands of seeds, almost two dozen variety heirloom seed package for a total of $X.95...

For what it's worth, my alarm bells were clanging and banging when I visited their site.

I was put-off and a bit suspicious of the hype-hype talk, especially since the heirloom seeds they're offering are not exactly 'rare' as they claim. The same varieties are commonly available--by the small pack and in bulk--at reputable places such as Fedco, Baker Creek, Seeds of Change, Johnny's Seeds, Territorial Seeds and others. Also the emphasis on their seed count was silly and pure hype (almost insulting, really). Most small-seeded varieties are normally sold in multi-hundreds or thousands anyway.

Because heirloom seeds are essential to a survival garden, more folks are appreciating their value. Heirloom seed sales are skyrocketing, and as with any other profit venture, there will be unsavory merchants.

If venturing outside well known and established companies...buyer beware! Companies with reputations similar to the ones I listed are a safe bet for your large orders.

Some 'new kids on the block' look promising, but they'll get small trial orders from me before I would consider investing in a larger order.

For long term storage purposes and as a hedge against hard times, I'd rather assemble the packet myself with seeds from reputable companies that are well known for their fresh-as-possible seeds labeled with honest germination rates and dates.

I'm not saying all new companies are bad news, but...

If your food source is--or will be--from your garden, get your seeds from a well known and reputable seed source before trusting the success of your food garden to brand new or unknown entities.

Seeds of all food plants can be safely stored many years (in most cases for up to ten times longer than normal germination rates, longer in some cases) if they are frozen in airtight containers and if the seeds are dried to about 5% - 8% moisture. If they are not dry enough, the excess moisture inside the seeds will expand when frozen and derange their internal cell walls. As a result, germination and seed vigor may be poor.

How dry is enough? If the seed breaks or shatters instead of bending when folded or whacked with a hammer, it is good to go.

If you can’t freeze the seeds, the next best place to store them would be the refrigerator. Failing that, a cool dry and dark place would be third best.

Tip: When you take your seeds out of the freezer or refrigerator, allow the container to completely reach room temperature before opening (overnight is best). If you don't, you may have problems associated with condensed moisture inside the container.

Because fluctuations in temperature will also shorten the shelf life of seeds, I like to package my seeds in many smaller containers instead of a few large ones. That way I don't thaw out a big wad of seeds when I just need to remove a few from frozen storage.

And just in case you didn’t know…it is possible to overdry seeds! For example, if you stored a desiccant (a drying material such as silica gel, etc.) with seeds that are already plenty enough dry, you could shorten their life span considerably.

Seeds that are stored with less than 5% moisture may suffer a poor germination rate over time, and the ones that manage to sprout may suffer loss of vigor. You can test one or two seeds from each batch the low tech way. When the seeds reach the point where they are dry enough to crack and shatter when lightly whacked with a hammer or when bitten with your teeth, they should be stored in an airtight container without a desiccant.

Never dry seeds in an oven or in direct sunshine! Damage begins when the temp rises above 95* F. When you harvest your own seeds, it is best to dry them on window screens in a warm airy place. I like to boost the air circulation with a fan, and park the seedworks in the same room as my woodstove. On the days when I don’t want to fire up the woodstove, I use a fan, a thermometer, and a portable electric heater with a built-in thermostat to dry seeds in a small room.

A great food garden starts with great seeds!

Grow forth and be happy!

This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas in Cajun Land

’tis funny no matter what month it is! This is an oldie that I dressed up just a little bit. (BTW Thibeau is not Thibodeaux misspelled.)

Day 1: Dear Boudreaux, Tanks for de bird in a pear tree. I fix it las’ night with Jambalaya. I doan tink de pear tree will grow inna swamp, so I swap it for a Satsuma.

Day 2: Dear Boudreaux, You letter say you sent two turtle doves, but all I got was two scrawny pigeons. Anyway, I mixed dem with andouille sausage and made some good gumbo out of dem.

Day 3: Dear Boudreaux, Why doan you sent some crawfish? I’m tired of eating dem birds. I gave two of dose prissy French chickens to Marie Trahan over at Grans Bayou and fed de turd one to my dog Phideaux.

Day 4: Dear Boudreaux, Mon Dieu! I tol you no more a dem birds. Deez four, what you call dem “calling birds” were so noisy you could hear dem all de way to Napoleonville. I used dere necks for my crab traps, and fed de rest of dem to de gators.

Day 5: Dear Boudreaux, You finally sen’ something useful. I like dem golden rings, me. I hocked dem over at da pawn shop in Thibodeaux and got enuff money to fix da shaft on my shrimp boat and buy a round for da boys at de Raisin’ Cane Lounge. Merci Beaucoup!

Day 6: Dear Boudreaux, Couchon! Back to da birds, you big honking ole turkey! Poor egg suckin’ Phideaux is scared to death at dem six geeses. He tried to eat dems eggs and dey peck de heck out a his snout. Dey good at eating cockroaches, though. I may stuff one of dem with erster dressing.

Day 7: Dear Boudreaux, I’m gonna wring your fool neck next time I cast eyes on you. Thibeau, da mailman is ready to kill ya. The merde from all dem birds is stinking up his mailboat. He's afraid someone will slip on dat stuff and sue him good. I let dose seven swans loose to swim on de bayou and some duck hunters from Mississippi blasted dem out of de water. Talk to YOU tomorra.

Day 8: Dear Boudreaux, Mais cher! Poor ole Thibeau, he had to make tree trips on his mailboat to deliver dem 8 maids a milkin and all their cows. One of dem cows got spooked by da alligators and almost tipped over da boat! I doan like dem shiftless maids, me no. I tolt dem to get to work guttin fish and sweeping the floor, but no. Dey say it wasn’t in dair contract. Dey probably tink de too good ta skin nutrias I caught las night, f’sure.

Day 9: Dear Boudreaux, What for you tryin to do huh? Thibeau had to borry the whole Lutcher ferry to carry dem jumpin’ twits you call “Lords-a-leaping” ‘cross da bayou. As soon as dey gots here, dey wanted a tea break with crumpets. I doan know what dat means but I says, “Well, La-Dee-Da. You gets Chicory coffee or nuttin.”

Mon Dieu, Emile! What I’m gonna feed all dese bozos? Dey too snooty for fried nutria, and de cows done eat all my turnip greens.

Day 10: Dear Boudreaux, You got to be outs you mind! If de mailman don’t kill you, I will f’sure. Today he deliver in da mailboat, 10 half nekid floozies from Bourbon Street, all the way from N’Awlins. He said dey be “Ladies-a-Dancing” but dey doan act like ladies in front of dose Limey twits.

All a dem almos' left for good after one of dem go bit by a water moccasin over by da outhouse. I had to butcher two whole cows to feed toute le monde and had to get terlit paper. The Sears catalog wasn’t good enuff for dose hoity toity Lords’ royal beehines.

Day 11: Dear Boudreaux, Where y’at? Cheerio and pip pip! Your eleven pipers piping arrives today on the mailboat. Dey musta come from de House of Blues, second lining as soon as de got off de boat. We fixed stuffed goose and beef jambalaya too, finished all da whiskey and we having a fine fais-do-do. Da new mailman, he drink a bottle of Jack Daniel and he having a good time, yeah, dancing with all de floozies. Thibeau, he jump off de Sunshine Bridge yesterday, screaming your name. If you get a mysterious, ticking package in de mail, doan open it. Hit’s prolly a goodbye present from the old mailman.

Day 12: Dear, dear Boudreaux, I sorry to tole ya, but I ‘taint your true love anymore, no. After fais-do-do, I spent de night talking with Jacques, de head piper. We decide to open a restaurant and gentleman’s club on de bayou. De floozies, pardon me, Ladies-a-Dancing, can make $20 for a table dance, and de Lords can be waiters and valet park de boats and pirogues. Since de maids doan have no more cows ta milk, I trained dem ta set my crab traps, watch my trotlines, an run my shrimping bidness. We will prolly gross a million whole clams next year.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Everything you need to know about alcohol-free elderberry syrup for preventing colds and influenza

Elderberry is considered by many herbalists and satisfied users to be nature’s answer to Tamiflu, a drug that is commonly used to nip influenza in the bud. Elderberry works in a similar way by preventing the virus from adhering to human cells and multiplying. Traditionally, elderberry preparations are taken early enough to head off a massive viral invasion right from the start.

Sambucus nigra is the most researched medically potent species of elderberry, and it is so highly regarded in Europe that it has been called the “medicine chest of country people”. It grows wild in most of Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia.

Native Americans and the Pioneer settlers found elderberry useful, but historical accounts suggest that they may have not regarded the American species of elderberry as much as Europeans do their own. It’s possible that the European species may be a little more potent than the American species of elderberry. The jury is still out on that debate.

Some herbalists are leaning towards the same slant as Richo Czech of Horizon Herbs in Oregon, who says that the European native Sambucus nigra “…is the most tried-and-true species for medicinal use.” He also notes that the berries are about twice as big as the berries of other species.

If something should ever prevent me from making a cold and flu preventative from the traditional European Sambucus nigra species, I would gladly use elderberries from commercially available cultivars such as the York and Nova species. They are available from nurseries such as Henry Fields and Gurneys. (I would steer clear of other cultivars sold for ornamental landscaping use.) According to more than a few devotees, the York and Nova cultivars are said to work very well in warding off the common cold and influenza.

As a personal preference I am cultivating the European elderberry species Sambucus nigra from seed, and will continue to buy the dried European berries to make my preparations with until my little ’orchard’ becomes established. Herbalcom and Frontier Herbs are two of my favorite sources for the berries.

Interestingly, after years of searching, I have never found any commercial sources for elderberries from cultivars or American elderberries, only berries from the imported European Sambucus nigra species.

Elderberry has been proven effective against a wide range of influenza viruses including human, swine and avian strains.

Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu made elderberries internationally famous through the well publicized research and laboratory studies conducted at the Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was demonstrated that Sambucus nigra species of elderberry was effective against a wide range of influenza viruses including human, swine and avian strains. This led to the development of a popular elderberry syrup preparation called Sambucol. Even if the preparation is taken too late to act as a preventative, controlled clinical studies in 1995 also demonstrated that Sambucol could reduce the severity and duration of influenza by half.

At a press conference held January 19-20, 2006 at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, the results of exciting new research on the patented elderberry formula were presented. Speakers included the developer of Sambucol, Dr. Mumcuoglu and Professor Hannoun of the Pasteur Institute.

Imagine the excitement of hearing the announcement that the elderberry-based Sambucol was found to be at least 99% effective against the Avian Flu (H5N1) virus in cell cultures! Laboratory trials verifying this were held in a prominent research institute associated with the University of London. Retroscreen Virology, Ltd. concluded that the elderberry preparation “significantly neutralised the infectivity of the virus in cell cultures”.

Although elderberry is effective against the H5N1 viruses in a culture dish, without human 'guinea pigs' there is no way to conclude that it is as effective in humans, but all indications look good.

Science is beginning to realize what European country folks knew all along. Elderberry is good for preventing cold and influenza infections. According to many herbalists and satisfied users, traditional homemade elderberry tinctures and non-alcoholic syrups work just as well as Sambucol.

How well does a non-alcoholic elderberry preparation work?

The original and well-researched Sambucol formula was made with an alcohol-based extract with a bit of glucose added. Some modern-day herbalists speculate that only alcohol-based elderberry preparations will work. Others speculate that the application of heat could be detrimental to the effectiveness of elderberry.

I am happy to tell you this is not true. For over a decade, I have made and given away to family and friends, many gallons of a very potent non-alcoholic elderberry syrup made with heat. I make my decoction by gently simmering elderberries in water for hours over a medium-low fire. The result is a fine tasting juice and syrup that has worked splendidly against every challenge of cold and influenza viruses put to it. It works so well that every year friends and family (as well as their friends) always ask for more.

Before I share my recipe with you, I’d like to alert you to a few things you should know.


One of the things that make some influenza strains more deadly and worrisome than most ordinary strains is that they can cause a young healthy person’s immune to kick into overdrive. In this case, too much of a good thing can become deadly because of the overproduction of cytokines. Some cytokines promote mucous production. Unfortunately when too much mucous is produced, it can quickly become a life threatening situation because the patient can literally drown in his own fluids.

In recent years, some herbalists and pandemic flu speculators (affectionately known as flubies) have debated a valid question: Could the immunostimulant properties of elderberry worsen the cytokine storm associated with a deadly strain such as H5N1 and others?

On the other hand, elderberry also increases levels of the cytokine IL-10 which is a known immunosuppressant. This could very well ‘balance out’ the cytokines with immunostimulating effects. Another natural check and balance system at work?

Of additional interest is the fact that elderberry is useful for treating bacterial sinusitis because it reduces excessive mucus in the sinus cavities, promotes better drainage, and reduces nasal congestion and swelling of mucous membranes. In that light, it seems that elderberry would be beneficial during a mucous producing cytokine storm.

To date elderberry has not yet been tested in humans against the strain of the dreaded H5N1 avian influenza that has worried the medical community for the past few years. No one really knows what elderberry preparations will do in the face of an influenza induced cytokine storm.

Experts agree that limiting the initial viral load (such as with Tamiflu) seems to be one of the best ways to survive the more deadly influenza strains. It is commonly understood that if the viral load is dramatically reduced, especially in the beginning stages of infection, then the body’s response to it--the deadly cytokine storm--is reduced as well.

Elderberry is a time tested remedy with a great reputation for preventing and inhibiting ordinary influenza in humans, if taken promptly and regularly. It does the job so well, that my personal pandemic influenza plans include taking elderberry syrup as a preventative. If for some reason, I am stricken with a pandemic flu, I plan to continue taking elderberry, but at a higher and more frequent dosage.

I am not suggesting that anyone else do as I do, but that you should explore all your options, including professional medical help if confronted with the possibility of a life-threatening illness such as pandemic influenza.

Because this issue is so controversial in the face of certain deadly strains of influenza, I am monitoring several news portals very closely for any new findings that I need to know. If it is ever determined that elderberry is harmful to take during a full blown pandemic influenza infection, a change in my plans would be in order.

Go here for up to the minute news and intelligent discussions about pandemic influenzas:

PureCajunSunshine’s Recipe:

The Dry Stuff

In some cases, herbs and other natural remedies are not substitutes for professional medical care. I urge you to seek the best professional medical resources available to help you make informed decisions in all health matters, especially concerning pandemic influenza.

This educational information is intended to increase your knowledge of traditional usage of plants. It is not meant to diagnose, prevent, prescribe or to administer in any manner to any physical ailments. In any matters related to your health, please contact a professional health practitioner.


Avoid any kind of elderberry preparation if you have a known allergy to plants in the honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae) family.

Don’t consume raw elderberries or uncooked elderberry juice, which may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal pain. It is understood that cooked elderberries are safe and completely free of any cyanide toxicity.

Don’t take elderberry if you are undergoing chemotherapy. Elderberry may increase the effects of some cancer chemotherapies, which may also increase adverse effects as well.

Patients using theophylline should consult with a medical professional before using elderberry preparations. The quercetin in elderberries may inhibit xanthine oxidase, and may also affect theophylline levels.

Elderberry may lower blood sugar levels. If you are a diabetic, monitoring and medication adjustments by a qualified health professional may be in order.

About sugar concentrations in elderberry syrup

A 65% or more sugar concentration in a water-based syrup is self-preserving, without the need for refrigeration. A lower sugar concentration may invite mold growth. For long term storage and extra insurance against harmful mold growth, I prefer to increase the sugar concentration to 70%.

A sugar-free, or lightly sweetened elderberry preparation can be made by simply omitting the sugar in the following recipe. If you omit the high sugar content, the final product must be frozen and used within six months, or else refrigerated and used within three days. Without alcohol or a high concentration of sugar as a preservative, the elderberry juice will likely promote the growth of molds that can cause spoilage.

An elderberry tincture made with alcohol works great, but it may not be suitable for work or school. Teachers and traffic cops may also agree. Alcohol-free elderberry juice and syrup to the rescue!

Why I don’t like to use honey or glycerin in making elderberry syrup

Because glycerin does not affect blood sugar levels like honey or sugar, it is sometimes used in making certain herbal extracts, such as echinacea. Unfortunately, glycerin is a very poor vehicle for extracting medicinal oils and resins in some herbs and berries, and elderberries are definitely resinous! Ask anyone who has ever made elderberry juice! When making juice from fresh elderberries, you will notice that utensils are soon coated with a dark and oily residue.

Honey is nice for flavoring, and it has enough sugars to preserve itself, but not enough for making a shelf stable grade of medicinal elderberry syrup.

How I use elderberry juice and syrup to ward off colds and influenza

I’ve found that the very best time to start treating a cold or flu virus with elderberry is at the very earliest stage, BEFORE the virus has presented itself in full-blown symptoms. As in “I think I might have been exposed but I’m not feeling bad yet”, or maybe “I think I may be coming down with something, but I’m not quite sure”. Elderberry works by preventing the virus from multiplying. Cold and flu viruses multiply so rapidly that it is critically important to begin treatment while they are few in number, and before they have a chance to mount a massive attack.

Although elderberry syrup can be taken alone, it is so highly concentrated (and quite sweet) that some people prefer to mix it with water or juice. Some of my favorite ways to take it is to stir a couple of tablespoons of elderberry syrup into a glass of red wine (delicious!), or grape juice, or into an old fashioned ‘shrub’ style drink (2 tablespoon elderberry syrup along with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar stirred into a glass of cold water). For more shrub ideas see

The advantage of elderberry syrup is that it needs no refrigeration, so it’s ideal for work, school or travel.


Approximate guidelines are given here, not exact dosages. Doses may vary more or less, depending upon the level of risk, along with many other factors such as an individual’s immunity, weight, etc.

In the event of possible exposure to colds and flu, I would consider taking more frequent doses of sugar-free or lightly sweetened elderberry juice at home, reserving the self preserving, but sugar-laden syrup for situations when no refrigeration is available.

Individual doses of juice can be frozen and popped into a plastic covered cup or other tightly capped container and tucked into a lunchbox, book bag, purse or briefcase. (Warning: elderberry juice will stain! Make sure containers are leak proof.)

If I suspect that I have been caught ‘off guard’ without my elderberry preventative, and start feeling even the barest hint of “something coming on”, I immediately start taking elderberry at approximately the same doses given above, or perhaps more frequently if the situation warrants it. Sometimes I can ’feel’ it when I have not had enough (feeling more poorly). This is a clear signal for me to immediately ramp up the dosage and frequency a bit. If I get up during the night, I make sure to take another dose. Umm, please don’t go crazy and overdo it, or else you may find yourself dealing with a powerful diuretic and laxative action! Don’t ask me how I know.


If the risk of exposure to ordinary flu is high, I usually take one to two tablespoons of the sugar-free juice, or two tablespoons of elderberry syrup every four to six hours as a cold and flu preventative.


In my house, little kids take kid doses. For children under 12 years old, I use about half the adult dose. Toddlers get half of that. Keep elderberry syrup out of the reach of children because the little rascals may try to sneak extra ‘doses’ when you are not watching. Elderberry also makes a fine pancake syrup. Yum!

Pregnant or Nursing Mothers:

Some herbalists prefer not to give any herbs to someone who is pregnant or nursing. Other herbalists like myself feel that, if faced with a deadly pandemic influenza outbreak, the risk of dying from the virus far outweighs the risk of consuming a fruit product such as elderberry. However, pregnant women should not take large, frequent doses of elderberry or any herb, for that matter. Although I am not aware of any human contraindications in normal usage of elderberry syrup, I have read that insanely high concentrations of pure elderberry extract given to laboratory rodents have sometimes caused spontaneous abortion and birth defects.
If I were pregnant, I would only take elderberry only if I were at high risk of being infected by a particularly deadly strain of flu.


1. Elderberry stains. Everything. Just be careful and rinse off spills immediately.

2. The aroma of cooking elderberries is pretty stout and lingering. If you have a range hood exhaust fan, use it! Open the windows! (I cook my elderberries on my covered porch with an electric hotplate.) If you live in bear country, keep the shotgun handy. The aroma of elderberries is bearbait extraordinaire and may provoke home invasions. (The bears are berry crazy in the mountains where I am living now.)

3. Don’t use a metal cooking vessel to extract medicinal properties from herbs, roots or berries. A glass pot is best. An enamel coated metal pot is fine, as long as there are no chips exposing the metal.

4. Start off with cool water (not hot) and gradually bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat. (This little trick also brings out maximum flavor when cooking soups and stews.)

5. If you can, try to cook elderberries in larger rather than small amounts.

6. Regular canning jars and lids are perfect for storing elderberry syrup. Make sure to sanitize the jars and lids just before using. More on that later.

7. Keep everything clean, clean, clean. The last thing you want to see when you need elderberry is a jar of spoiled syrup!


You will need a ratio of ¼ cup of dried elderberries for every two cups of water. You can make more than this amount, but try to maintain this ratio. To help promote maximum extraction, I like to soak the dried berries in water for a few hours first. Overnight in the refrigerator is even better.

Cover the pot loosely with a lid, enough to allow steam to escape, but not too rapidly. Gently simmer the water and berries together over medium-low heat until the liquid volume is reduced by about almost half of the original volume. For a large pot, this make take a few hours. Don’t allow the brew to come to a full rolling boil.

When elderberries are decocted in hot water, you may see a few very small ‘oil slicks’ form on the surface of the water. This is a good thing! The longer the berries cook (over low heat), the more medicinal resin is extracted. To increase the extraction process, stir and mash the berries against the side of the pot with a large spoon from time to time. Don’t try to skim it the oily stuff off, you want it to stay in the brew.

After a few hours, when the liquid in the pot has been reduced by about half of the original volume, allow to cool a little before straining the berries out.

Strain the berries through a colander, taking care to squeeze all the juice and goodness out of the berries. I don’t like to use cheesecloth or any other fabric for straining elderberries because the resins and other medicinal goodies will stick to the cloth.

At this point, if you have opted for the sugar-free preparation you will need to preserve the juice it by freezing it (use within six months), or you can refrigerate it if you can use it within 3 or 4 days.

To make a shelf-stable and self preserving 65% sugar syrup, add 2 1/8 cups of sugar to every cup of elderberry juice. Reheat and stir until all the sugar is completely dissolved.

Pour the hot syrup into hot canning jars that have been sanitized first by boiling in water for at least ten minutes. Jar lids need to be hot, as well. Simmer, do not boil the canning lids. Overheating the canning jar lids at a higher heat than a simmer (about 180*F. or so) may result in a seal failure. After pouring the hot syrup into the hot jars, wipe the jar rim with a clean damp paper towel to ensure nothing is there to interfere with sealing. Fill the jars to about ¼ - ½ inch from the top. Wipe the rim with a piece of a wet paper towel before positioning the lid. Screw on the band firmly and allow the jar to cool slowly. From time to time, you may hear ‘pings’ as the jars cool and a vacuum forms, pulling the lids down tighter.

For longer term storage, I prefer to bump up the sugar concentration a wee bit more to 70% . This translates into adding 2 ¾ cups sugar to every cup of elderberry juice. It may be overkill, but I have never seen a batch of elderberry syrup go bad at this rate.

Although elderberry syrup can last for years, I like to rotate my stock on a 6 month basis for maximum freshness. Store in a cool, dark location.

EDITED TO ADD: Until I get around to posting Part II of this article, there's more information in the comments section...If they are not displayed in their full glory, just click onto the "comments" link at the end of this post, right after the date 5/2/2009...

Copyright 2009 PureCajunSunshine / Mrs. Tightwad

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:This article and recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #2: HOW TO MAKE HOME REMEDIES THAT REALLY WORK. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is gardening too physically challenging? Try wheelchair gardening!

Here's a really nice collection of ideas and resources for those who find conventional gardening a bit too physically challenging:

Susan Tomlin's Disabled Garden Page (check out the photos for ideas and inspiration):

Happy Gardening!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Put a 'Shelter Box' in Your Emergency Preparedness Plans

Even if you plan to ride out every crisis in the comfort of your home, you should prepare to evacuate anyway. When SHTF (Stuff Hits The Fan) it is not usually evenly distributed...Not one of us is immune to the possibility of natural or manmade disasters forcing us to flee our homes or our favorite crisis hideyholes.

Do you have a tent in your emergency bugout kit?

Some of you may be thinking along these lines in the event of an emergency evacuation, "I don't need a tent, I'll be in a motel/relative or friend's house/etc." or "I can sleep in my car, if I need to." If this is you talking, then please consider that best laid plans can go wrong. You may have to abandon your vehicle for some reason or another...or face way too many miles of no motel vacancies...houses can burn get the idea.

The paramount rules for survival anytime, anywhere involves shelter, water and food. Naturally, when preparing for emergencies, we always think of food and water...but how prepared are you for emergency shelter?

If you have not already done so, put a low cost ‘shelter box’ in your emergency preparedness plans. Make your own custom kit to suit your group. Here’s the general idea:

The price and weight is a bear, so...

Here’s my spin…a combination Shelter Box and 'bugout' bag. The following items can be packed into one or two large sturdy and waterproof boxes (or large bags). Waterproofing is essential, in the event of rain. Use plastic bags inside of the containers, if needed. A well stocked Shelter Box should at least include the following items.

This is an outline of a very basic kit. My personal kit contains more gear than this, and other folks may have more or less than what is outlined here. A supply list as long as your leg can be overwhelming to those who are just starting out in their preparedness ventures, or to those who simply can't afford to buy a lot. Here is a short and sweet version of the basics:

1. Expedient dry shelter such as a tent (or several heavy duty tarps and rope if you can’t afford a tent right now). Instead of including one large/medium tent to shelter your whole group, I would include two medium (or smaller) tents. Bad things can happen to your one shelter. Better to have a backup, even if it will be a bit cramped.

2. Bedding and clothing for every person:

A. Thermal blankets and thermal sleeping bags, if you can afford it.

B. Even if it is summertime (or wintertime) when you pack your shelter box, and the next season is far from your mind…don’t forget to include a coat and a summer/winter change of clothing and shoes for each person.

C. One heavy duty plastic tarp for each person, to serve as a ground cover beneath bedding. Include an inexpensive mylar blanket for every person to bolster up insulation where needed. In summer, the same mylar blanket can be used on top of a tarp shelter to divert the sun’s hot rays and to help cool the area beneath the tarp…

3. Light - Include an inexpensive solar powered battery charger and rechargeable batteries for several LED flashlights. I like to get a few of the same kind of flashlight (and other gear), so I can cannibalize one for parts, if needed.

4. Clean water and several ways and means of purification. Collapsible water containers.

5. Heat / cooking - Two lightweight stoves: one multi-fuel stove and one twig-burning stove. Here are some options/ideas: Include several ways of making fire.

6. Cooking aids - 2 cooking pots, cooking spoon, sharp, tough knives, small knife sharpener, folded heavy duty aluminum foil, etc. Include one set of utensils and a bowl for each person. Lightweight mugs if you have room. (A bowl can do multi-duty in a pinch, if needed to save space on plates and mugs).

7. Food - Lightweight instant foods that require no refrigeration or extensive cooking. Include dried fruits, nuts, jerky, tasty energy bars, etc.

8. Tools - hammer, axe, saw, heavy duty plastic bags of varying sizes, quality duct tape (the ‘Gorilla’ brand tape is the best!), folding shovel, rope, tent stakes, bungie cords, etc. etc.

9. Health and special needs: fever and diarrhea reducing meds, personal medications, basic first aid gear. Your favorite insecticide, and mosquito nets if your area calls for it. If you have babies, include the basics for their survival. Pets…decide ahead of time what their emergency plans will involve and plan accordingly.

10. Communications - Radio, cell phone, windup battery chargers. Phone numbers.

11. Sanity savers - Just to mention a few…

A. A copy or the originals of your important papers. You know what they are.

B. A list of details about your employment/educational history. Not many think to include this in their emergency kit, but it is a sanity saver in the event you cannot return home right away, and may need to apply for temporary or permanent work elsewhere.

C. Crayons, pens, pencils and paper can go a long way to help children work through stress. Include instructions for simple games that can be made with found materials.

D. Snacks and hard candies.

E Last but not least, consider your spiritual needs. For me and mine, that would be our Bibles.

If you made your own Shelter Box right now, what would it contain? How could you make it better, later?

Here are a few ideas for solving the problem of hauling all this stuff on foot, if you needed to abandon your home or vehicle. In addition to backpacks, you could consider a few options.

The first one I like. The rest are make-do's, but they may be better than just a backpack alone.

--> Folding game carts and carriers can haul up to 700 pounds of deer and gear--or your shelter box and bugout kits. One of my favorite places to shop has a good variety. Looksee at Cabela's...

--> whatyoucallit...the suitcase-on-wheels-with-a-long-handle kind of thing (lined with plastic bags)...

--> Plastic wheelbarrows can be disassembled and reassembled with minimal tools and ease...

--> Garbage cans with wheels...

--> Child's wagon and rope for strapping a load on...

--> Native American style travios...

Can you think of other ideas for transporting as much of your essential gear as possible, in case you need to travel on foot in an emergency?

This copyrighted article may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: