Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thinking About 'Fleeing to The Mountains' If a Severe Crisis Hits Your Area? Read This Before You Bug-Out!

Are you one of the gazillions of town or city folks who think that all they need to do survive a severe widespread crisis, is to head for a wilderness area and set up camp?

There's a few things you need to know.

I live in a remote wilderness area in the mountains, and I can tell you a little bit about my neighbors, the people who are already living where everyone wants to go, WTSHTF (When The Stuff Hits The Fan).

I hope ya'll have land of your own in those mountains, or else you may find yourselves considered by the neighbors, the local mountainfolk, as being one of "Them" of the crowd of invaders who will be pouring out of the towns and cities into the countryside and "wilderness areas". In rural folk's eyes, these ones are viewed as the dreaded hordes of strangers who will suck the neighborhood dry of vital resources. My neighbors are not as nice as I am. Expect severe--and very likely brutal--resistance from many of the rural folks. This sentiment is widespread, not just in my neck of the woods. The "good old boys" who live in the country won't cotton too well to a bunch of peeps stomping all over their prime hunting grounds, either.

I suspect that, in many ways, things will be harder for the refugees in the woods, than if they had stayed in the cities.

Maybe a better idea would be to consider buying a small, cheap piece of rural property. If a SHTF situation finds you with just that, and nothing else, then you are leagues ahead of "Them". You can make do with with hasty shelter on your property, if need be.

Tight finances? Slow or no credit? Look for a lease-purchase or owner financing agreement. Many rural sellers are quite motivated, especially these days because of the tanking real estate market.

Here's another thought, if tight finances are an issue: After getting a little piece of land to call your own, build a lil' ol tool shed on the place, just barely big enough for everyone to lay their sleeping bags down. After that, build something a little bigger as finances permit...then expand on that.

I primitive-camped on my heavily forested property in a wilderness area for three years with no running water, no electricity, no heat, no a/c, and no phone service (mountains interfere with signals). Slowly but surely, and little by little, with a little help from a couple of friends now and then, I got a patch of land cleared enough to build my (now almost complete) home on. It wasn't easy...but it can be done. If'n a little old lady like me can do it, anyone can.

The idea is to have something Out There to call your own, paid for free and clear, before a major crisis event. Be a neighbor, and please don't be one of the unwelcome invaders...

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:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Where To Find The Latest Breaking News about Pandemic Influenza

Here are some of the best places for keeping track of the latest breaking news about pandemic flu, or H5N1. The freshest news are often found at some of these sites before the news media has a chance to broadcast them into the mainstream.

This is one of the most reputable and complete portals I've found for the latest breaking news on H5N1 on the Internet:

Other collaborative sites for the latest on influenza outbreaks:

Topflight health and influenza stuff here:

Here are a few reputable flu blogs:

Scott Mcpherson"s

Sophia Zoe's

Crof's Blog (a great portal, as well)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Homemade Ant Poison That Really Works

This is my all-time favorite ant killer: a cheap homemade ant bait using BORIC ACID (not to be confused with baking soda, which won't work). You can buy boric acid from any pharmacy or dollar store. Combine it with any ingredient that will attract your target ants.

I've found the big black carpenter ants and many other kinds of ants like a bait made of sugar water/boric acid mix. I put in enough boric acid to make a thick "soup" with super sweet sugar water, and pour it into numerous shallow "dishes" made from plastic yogurt or butter container lids. I put the bait where the feeding ants wouldn't be so visible (and annoying). Keep out of reach of pets and any children that might be tempted to eat it... I can say with 100% confidence: if you put out enough boric acid bait, and if you are persistent enough, you will win the battle with ants in your home! Eventually, over several days to a week, the ants will have brought back enough poison to decimate the entire nest.

I'm not sure if this will work on fire ants, but I will certainly try it and report the findings here! I'd love to hear from anyone who has...

(PureCajunSunshine wanders off, muttering...what can be used as a homemade fire ant bait to mix with boric acid? hmmm...)

This 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 #5: QUICK SUBSTITUTES and EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 "CAN'T-DO-WITHOUT" ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Everything You Need to Know to Make Really Great Jerky...Safely

Making jerky is the world's oldest way of preserving meat. When our ancestors hunted for food, they often did it in a large way. Bison, bear and deer were like the Walmarts of the ancients. A good hunt meant much more than food. It also meant bone tools, clothing, shelter and more. Priority was given to the meat and the hides because of rapid spoilage.

Before the days of canned foods and frozen dinners, many foods were usually preserved by drying. With the moisture removed, heavyweights become lightweights. The moisture is easily restored by soaking in water, or by adding to soups and stews, or simply chewed.

Because jerky and other dehydrated foods are so lightweight and needs no refrigeration, they are perfect for travel or emergencies. All the goodness of a pound of meat can be reduced to a mere four ounces!


Through the stream of time, much has been discovered in the name of food safety. Foodborne illness and diseases can be deadly serious. Because we know more about safe food preparation than the ancients did, most of us will enjoy a longer life span!

In the old days of the First Americans, jerky was hung to dry in the sun, especially in climates with low humidity, high heat and a goodly amount of wind. Other tribes that lived in less than ideal jerky-making territory, hung strips of meat near smoldering fires.

The old way of doing things is perfectly acceptable, if you are willing to put up with a small--but definite--risk of serious illness or death.

No jerky ever tasted good enough to die for, so it's a good idea to check out the latest approved techniques for making jerky the safest way possible. The USDA has the latest, right here:

Here are excerpts from the link above, which is (as of December 2007) the latest USDA meat and poultry recommendations for making homemade jerky:

* Keep meat and poultry refrigerated at 40 °F or slightly below; use or freeze ground beef and poultry within 2 days; whole red meats, within 3 to 5 days.
* Defrost frozen meat in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter.
* Marinate meat in the refrigerator. Don't save marinade to re-use. Marinades are used to tenderize and flavor the jerky before dehydrating it.
* Steam or roast meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer before dehydrating it.
* Dry meats in a food dehydrator that has an adjustable temperature dial and will maintain a temperature of at least 130 to 140 °F throughout the drying process.
* Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after working with meat products.
* Use clean equipment and utensils.

Why is it a Food Safety Concern to Dry Meat Without First Heating it to 160 °F?

The danger in dehydrating meat and poultry without cooking it to a safe temperature first is that the appliance will not heat the meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F — temperatures at which bacteria are destroyed — before it dries. After drying, bacteria become much more heat resistant.

Within a dehydrator or low-temperature oven, evaporating moisture absorbs most of the heat. Thus, the meat itself does not begin to rise in temperature until most of the moisture has evaporated. Therefore, when the dried meat temperature finally begins to rise, the bacteria have become more heat resistant and are more likely to survive. If these surviving bacteria are pathogenic, they can cause foodborne illness to those consuming the jerky.

Are There Special Considerations for Wild Game Jerky?

Yes, there are other special considerations when making homemade jerky from venison or other wild game. According to Keene and his co-authors, "Venison can be heavily contaminated with fecal bacteria — the degree varying with the hunter's skill, wound location, and other factors. While fresh beef is usually rapidly chilled, deer carcasses are typically held at ambient temperatures, potentially allowing bacteria multiplication."

What is the Safe Storage Time for Jerky?

Commercially packaged jerky can be kept 12 months; home-dried jerky can be stored 1 to 2 months.

(Well, I'm going to argue about that last point. Lots of people say jerky has lasted as long as a year. Maybe it could last longer, but I'll never know because me and my friends can't keep away from it long enough to find out. I'll be sure to include some of my favorite recipes here, so you'll know the real reason jerky has such a short shelf life.) --PureCajunSunshine

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is an excellent authority all kinds of ways to preserve food including drying, curing & smoking, fermenting, pickling and more. Go here:

Their section on jerky recommends this:

If you choose to heat the meat prior to drying to decrease the risk of foodborne illness, do so at the end of the marination time. To heat, bring strips and marinade to a boil and boil for 5 minutes before draining and drying. If strips are more than ¼ inch thick, the length of time may need to be increased. If possible, check the temperature of several strips with a metal stem-type thermometer to determine that 160ºF has been reached.

If the strips were not heated in marinade prior to drying, they can be heated in an oven after drying as an added safety measure. Place strips on a baking sheet, close together, but not touching or overlapping. For strips originally cut 1/4 inch thick or less, heat 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 275ºF. (Thicker strips may require longer heating to reach 160ºF.)

(End of excerpts from the United States Department of Agriculture)


Now that we have the important food safety issues covered, lets get to the meat of the matter.

Use only pure lean muscle meat in making jerky. That means no fat, no tendons, no connective tissues of any kind. Meat that is marbled with fat will not make good jerky.

Best wild game or beef cuts of meat to use in making jerky: flank, round and sirloin.

If using poultry, pork or bear meat, dry only meats that have been thoroughly pre-cooked for safety's sake.

Before drying wild game, freeze the meat for at least 60 days at 0 degrees F to help kill any parasites or bacteria that causes disease that may be present.

Cut strips of meat 1/8" - 1/4" thick, and 1" -1 1/2' wide. They can be as long as you wish. The thinner the meat, the faster it dries.

Make the meat easier to cut thinly by firming it up in the freezer for a bit, first.

There are two ways to cut jerky: for a real chewing workout, cut the meat "with, or along the grain"; for an easier chew, cut "across the grain". The grain is the direction that the muscle fibers lay.

A marinade or dry rub is what makes delicious jerky.

To marinade: Raw meat strips are soaked between four to eight hours, or overnight in a flavorful liquid consisting of any combination of ingredients such as soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and seasonings.

Dry rubs are often a blend of salt and seasonings that are rubbed onto the surface of raw meat, and is refrigerated for several hours to overnight.

Fancy dehydrators are nice, but not necessary. For years, I made my best jerky in an oven at the lowest heat setting, with the door propped open one or two inches. I can fit lots more in an oven, which is a must during deer hunting season.

To test jerky for doneness: Remove a strip of dried jerky, let it cool for 5 minutes. Bend the jerky. Jerky that was cut across the grain should snap if it is done. Jerky that was cut along the grain won't break, but will bend.

Never, ever make jerky in a microwave, which is notorious for uneven cooking, and can be a health hazard.

A gas or electric oven works fine.

For longer shelf life, I tend to overdry the meat a little more than I need to. I store it in a glass jar with some kind of desiccant (moisture absorber). Some people like to store jerky in plastic bags.

If you freeze or refrigerate the jerky, and take it out of storage, it will immediately absorb moisture from the air. This may shorten shelf life, depending on the amount of moisture it collects.

If you use a dehydrator, and if the instructions include jerky making, follow the directions carefully.


Here's how I do jerky in an oven.

Marinate the meat overnight in your favorite choice of flavors. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Line the bottom of the oven with heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray the oven racks with a no stick spray made for BBQ cookers. Do not forget this. If you do, you will never forget it again. The baked on drippings are a pain to remove.

Skewer the end of a strip of meat onto a toothpick. Position the toothpick between the rungs in the oven rack, so that the meat dangles freely below the rack. (My way is a little different from what most people do, which is laying the strips directly onto the oven racks. My way dries better because of improved air circulation. It is a space saver, so more jerky can be made at one time.)

Turn the oven on the lowest setting (mine goes to 200 degrees Fahrenheit). Close the oven door, but leave it ajar with a one or two inch opening to allow moisture to escape. To hasten the drying process, and drive everyone in the house insane and drooling, place a fan in the room. If it gets too bad, beat everyone back with a broomstick until it is done. Jerky before its time can make you sick as a dog.

Tip: place the thinnest cuts of meat near the front of the oven. Because it will be a few degrees cooler near the front, the thinner pieces won't need as much heat as the thicker slices. The thicker pieces dry much better closer to the hotter backside of the oven.

Before storing, the meat must be allowed to cool on the rack naturally. After the jerky has cooled, remove the toothpicks, and place the strips of jerky in a large bowl. Cover with a clean dishtowel and allow them to "rest" for several hours. During this period, the overall small amount of moisture remaining in the jerky becomes equalized. This allows for the possibility that a few small unseen spots in some of the pieces might not be as dry as the others.

Here are a few of my favorite jerky recipes. They're all deliciously different.

Cut strips of lean meat 1/8" - 1/4" thick, and 1" -1 1/2' wide. They can be as long as you wish. Soak the strips in the mixture given below for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally to ensure even penetration of flavor throughout. Dry in a dehydrator or oven, according to guidelines given above.

Marinade #1, for about 1 or 2 pounds of meat

2 packs of Au Jus instant dry gravy mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons lemon pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 dry powdered mustard
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups water

Marinade #2, for about 3 or 4 pounds of meat:

2 c soy sauce
1/2 c water
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs liquid smoke (look near the Worcestershire sauce in the grocery)
1 Tbs garlic powder or onion powder (or, in proportion, use both if you're adventurous!)
1 Tbs ground ginger
black pepper (optional)

Marinade #3, for up to 5 pounds of meat:

2 cups teriyaki sauce
3/4 cup water
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. onion powder
1 t. ground ginger (powder)
1 Tb. Liquid smoke
1 t. black pepper
1 t. Tabasco sauce

This recipe from Sunset Home Canning shows another way of making jerky.

Basic Beef Jerky Recipe

1½ lb Lean boneless meat
¼ c Soy sauce
1 ts Worcestershire Sauce
½ ts Onion powder
¼ ts Pepper
¼ ts Garlic powder
¼ ts Liquid smoke
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Preparing the jerky: Freeze meat until firm but not hard; then cut into 1/8 to 1/4-inch-thick slices. In a medium-size glass, stoneware, plastic or stainless steel bowl, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire, onion powder, pepper, garlic powder, and liquid smoke. Stir to dissolve seasonings. Add meat and mix until all surfaces are thoroughly coated. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or until next day, stirring occasionally; recover tightly after stirring.

Drying the jerky: Depending upon the drying method you're using, evenly coat dehydrator racks or metal racks with cooking spray; if oven drying, place racks over rimmed baking pans. Lift meat from bowl, shaking off any excess liquid. Arrange meat strips close together, but not overlapping, on racks. Dehydrator and oven drying: Arrange trays according to manufacturer's directions (if using dehydrator) and dry at 140-degrees until a piece of jerky cracks, but does not break when bent (8 to 10 hours, let jerky cool for 5 minutes before testing). Pat off any beads of oil from jerky. Let jerky cool completely on racks; remove from racks and store in airtight, insect proof containers in a cool, dry place. You may also freeze or refrigerate the jerky, however keep in mind that cold jerky will collect moisture from the air when taken out of cold storage.

Makes about 3/4 pound.

Storage time: Up to 3 weeks at room temperature; up to 4 months in refrigerator, up to 8 months in freezer. Per ounce: 94 calories, 12 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates; 4 g total fat; 28 mg cholesterol, 398 mg sodium.

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:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pemmican: The Original Fast Food of the First Americans, Traditional and Fat Free Recipes

Pemmican is a tasty high-protein treat that's perfect for snacking, traveling, hiking, camping, and for disasters or other crisis events, where cooking meals may be difficult. As a bonus, this lightweight nutrient-packed food needs no refrigeration.

Traditional recipes for Indian pemmican usually calls for a mixture of shredded jerky, dried berries and nuts, along with a bit of melted fat to hold it all together. In the old days, it was considered essential for sustaining warriors and hunters on the trail. Pemmican can be eaten out of hand, or added to soups, stews, or anything in need of an extra nutritional boost.

The fast-food idea caught on with the Hudson's Bay Company and became a standard feature in the North American fur trade industry. The highest prices were paid for Native American-made pemmican that was stored in buffalo skin bags, called parfleches. The filled bags were sealed with melted fat. The parfleches shrank as they dried, creating a kind of vacuum seal that helped to preserve the contents for years. Traditionally, this kind of pemmican was made with equal parts dried meat and melted fat. Animal fat taken from around the kidneys and loins were considered choice. If taken from beef, this kind of fat is called suet. For those who prefer a fat-free pemmican, a recipe is included here.

To eat pemmican Native American style, pop a little bit into your mouth and chew it just about forever, sort of like chewing gum. That way you entertain your mouth and extract every bit of goodness from the dehydrated meat, berries and nuts. It is surprisingly filling when eaten this way. Even though the food is low-volume, it it packs power because it is highly concentrated and loaded with protein.

There are different schools of thought regarding the shelf life of pemmican. Some say it will last for only a month or two; others say it will last for years. It depends upon the temperature and humidity of the environment, the quality of ingredients, and how it is stored. At any rate, the fat content will also determine shelf life. After the fat goes rancid from age, it will taste bad, and should be thrown out. The cooler the storage temperatures are, the longer the fat will stay fresh.

To help extend shelf life, I like to store pemmican in the freezer. If the electricity should ever go out long enough to affect the contents of the freezer, I will take the pemmican out of the freezer, and after making sure that it is perfectly dry, store it in a glass jar or plastic bag in a dark cool place.

For even longer term storage, I sometimes use raisins in place of fat in the traditional recipe.

PureCajunSunshine's Fat-Free Pemmican

In a blender, whizz together equal parts of pulverized-to-a-powder jerky, ground dried berries, and chopped nuts of your choice. Add enough raisins so that the smashed up raisins hold everything together nicely. Then you can form marble-sized balls or whatever. No blender handy? Chop with a knife, then pound the foodstuff to a pulp with a rock.

This stores a lot longer than the traditional version with fat. But then, during really high caloric demanding situations such as hiking, working, or coping with a disaster, you'd be wishing for that little extra fat, because it supplies a majority of the calories in pemmican.

Another delicious alternative to animal fat is peanut butter, which provides more sustenance than the fat-free version.

Pemmican with Honey and Peanut Butter

Some people prefer peanut butter to fat; some like a blend of honey and peanut butter. Here is a recipe that helps provide calories without fat:

1/2 pound of jerky, pulverized to a powder, or nearly to a powder
1/2 pound of raisins
1/2 pound of nuts (peanuts, pecans. etc)
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons peanut butter

Warm the honey and mix with the peanut butter together until well blended.
Add all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place.

Native American Pemmican - Traditional Style

Cook chunks of fat over low heat until all moisture is removed and oil is rendered. Strain well, allow to cool until hardened. Reheat and strain again, to make the fat firmer, and to improve its keeping qualities.

Pulverize dried meat (jerky) to a powder. Add equal parts of ground dried berries and chopped nuts. Add just enough hot melted fat into the mixture to lightly coat all the ingredients. Immediately stir the mixture, working quickly to allow the melted fat to soak into the powdered ingredients before cooling. If it cools too quickly, gently warm the mixture in the microwave or over a low flame. While still warm, shape the pemmican into balls, bars or small patties.

Lacking traditional containers such as animal intestines or skin parfleche bags to store them in, wrap the pemmican pieces in wax paper. Store in glass jars or plastic bags.

This 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:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Foods That Are Perfect for Camping, Traveling, Disasters or Crisis Events

Save time and money when traveling, by bringing your own brand of fast foods to eat. Light and nutritious foods helps to beat road fatigue better than heavy, fat-laden McAnything!

Camp or trail food needs to be fast and easy, so that you can get back to having more fun doing other things besides fooling around with a bunch of pots and pans without a sink to wash them in!

Homemade fast foods can also come in handy even when you are not having a good time.

During and after a prolonged and severe crisis, the ways and means to prepare meals may become a serious challenge. Fuel may be scarce, or you may be an evacuee, or you may be too sick or injured to prepare a conventional meal.

Good buzzwords: Trail Food...Instant Meals...Quick Cooking...No Cook...Low Profile...

Low profile? Yes, as in a "don't attract unwanted attention" kind of way.

Imagine the effects of the smell of delicious meat roasting over an open fire or even of beans cooking during a very severe crisis, after most of the unprepared masses have gone long past "just a missed lunch"...

That picturesque odor trail you see in newspaper comics and TV cartoons is for real. You would be surprised at how far odor molecules float in the wind to keenly hungry people! Unless you are in a position to assist everyone, go low profile!

Sometimes the business of keeping well fed can be a challenge in a crisis situation, or even while camping or traveling. That is why I will soon devote a separate category just for this, in my blog and handbook.

This 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:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Urban Survival During a Severe Crisis

Natural or manmade disasters can befall any community. That can be bad enough, but in the inner cities especially, things can get real ugly in a hurry. There, extreme duress can bring out the very darkest side of humanity. It is the kind of stuff that used to shock the world: widespread rioting, looting, and general mayhem triggered by things such as electricity outages, court decisions, or even just general fed-upness of the people...such as what happened in France not that long ago. Then there's Katrina...where even rural and small town communities were raped and plundered by out of town gangs, and even by their own neighbors.

If you ever find yourself in a severe crisis situation that turns your world upside down, and your fellow man turn into predators, here are a few lessons borrowed from Katrina Hell that might help you survive:

1. Water is top priority! Lots of pure drinking water, and the ways and means of purifying the worst possible polluted water. Think viruses (pandemics), radiation, sewage, industrial accidents and other toxic scenarios. Do NOT even count on rain. After Katrina, it did not rain for weeks. Droughts happen.

Prep action: Scout out all possible sources of water now. A Google-search using the keywords "hydrology" and "hydrology maps" and your location could be rich with little known sources of water. A good hydrology map will reveal abandoned wells, natural springs, streams and other sources of water in your area.

2. Prep for various ways and means for purifying water and cooking meals. My portable "mess kit" has saved me much grief over the years. I keep one at home and another in my vehicle. It is a sturdy school-style backpack that contains a few propane bottles, a single burner rig that screws onto the propane bottles, plus other ways and means of "making heat", boiling water and cooking foods: pots, utensils, homemade "hobo stoves" (more on that in a future article), alcohol, candles, Sterno fuel, a flint & steel kit, Bic lighters, matches, and a few pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil to serve as wind foils and as a pot "lid".

3. Prep heavily on instant meals, MREs, dehydrated stuff, and canned goods for low profile heat-and-eats that also conserves fuel, which will likely be limited.

Concentrate on low, low profile meals, as in NO COOKING ODORS. You would be amazed at how far the odor trail goes...and the trouble it can bring back to you.

4. Secret temporary retreats (important IF you are few in number, or could possibly be overrun). This can be inside fake walls, fake closet backs, etc. Use your imagination and plan ahead of time. Preparing for this possibility now may be your saving grace later.

5. Low tech barrier "alarms" might buy time for you to prepare for fight or flight. Almost a hundred years ago, some French Quarter residents would place large broken pieces of slate on the ground beneath the windows, so that the crunching sound of the intruder's footfalls could alert the householders. Some still do. Use your imagination with whatever materials are handy...

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I strung clean empty tin cans (with a small hole punched near the open top for passing a string through) and beer cans onto fishing string. Then strings of cans were tied to gether in such a way that it made a hellacious racket at the slightest movement. I pinned bunches of them onto curtains, and also used them in other rigged up contraptions that made lot of noise if triggered...

6. If your home/apartment already looks looted, AND uninviting in an unappealing kind of way...gangs, and other Bad Guys will move on quickly.

Edited to add: This advice may be useful
only in certain situations (such as mentioned in #4, "IF you are few in number, or could possibly be overrun", and if you decide to hide or leave the area...). Every situation is different. More on this in a future article.

This bit of advice may not always
prevent theft, but it might discourage looters and other two legged critters from hanging around too long, or camping out at your place.

Prep item (don't laugh): Large jars of superstinky homemade catfish bait with screw lid caps. These can be opened and hidden near likely points of entry, and in the kitchen area, etc.

Heh. Now the Bad Guys think the place has already been picked over AND there's a lot of dead and rotten things in there...phew! They might be more inclined to set up camp down the road in better quarters.

PureCajunSunshine's Looter Repellant...duh huh...this plan just might work almost too (gag) good.

This 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:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Herbs and Things for Copperhead Snakebites and Brown Recluse Spiderbites

In an austere, where-there-is no-doctor situation caused by natural or manmade disasters, we may have no choice but to rely 100% on our own resources. In that case, this information may come in handy. If competent medical care is available, I strongly advise that snakebitten or spiderbitten persons take advantage of it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or dysfunction. If you have a physical concern, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a competent health care professional.

Last week a young copperhead snake bit me on my finger. Fortunately the angle of the bite was in my favor. One of the fangs hit my knuckle bone and did not penetrate deeply; the other fang kind of rolled off and left a deep scratch. I think that because the snake struck me on the knuckle bone it did not turn loose with nearly as much venom as it would have if it had sunk its fangs into sure 'nuff in muscles or tissues. The pain and swelling was intense enough to make me wonder if somehow the fang had reached inside the joint. Yeow!

I opted for self-treatment because I live in a wilderness area where medical care truly is a dismal option. I would not trust the nearest local professionals on anything more than a bee sting.

If the bite had been on my face, neck or closer to my heart, or obviously hit an artery, or if I had been bitten by the deadlier diamondback rattlesnake or coral snake, I would have opted for the nearest competent hospital. Heh. That would be quite a long ride.

Death from copperhead snake bites are very rare (I believe the average is only about one per year in the USA), which is a good thing because statistics show that they account for most of the reported snakebites in America.

However, because serious complications are also frequently reported with copperhead snakebites, diligence and good medical care will greatly influence the outcome.

I have several traditional Native American snakebite remedies in my herbal arsenal. For my copperhead snake encounter last week, I relied on these herbs internally and made lots of poultices. More on poultices later.

Now the bruising and swelling has gone down and everything is looking and feeling MUCH better. I noticed that whenever I'd slack off on the echinacea regimen, the swelling and pain reminded me that it was time to take more of something!

Here's what I use for snakebites (and brown recluse bites, too...see below: "About Brown Recluse Bites").

Echinacea root (Echinacea angustifolia or E. purpurea or E. pallida), (4 - 6 capsules, internally every two to three hours) and poulticed

Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis), (2 capsules, internally every two to three hours in between Echinacea doses) and poulticed

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) root, poulticed

Slippery Elm bark (Ulmus fulva), (capsules internally, as needed for nausea and stomach pains) and poulticed

Plantain leaves (Plantago major), crushed and poulticed (this is a whiteman herb adapted to redman uses) Take one tablespoon crushed leaf juice every hour, at the same time applying the bruised leaves to the wound. The dried leaves can also be used when soaked in water or herbal tea. Plantain tea can be used as a wash to bathe the area often.

Garlic internally and poulticed

Salt water soaks

Honey, poulticed

Charcoal, poulticed

For pain relief: Calcium gluconate 500 mgs. every 4 - 6 hours in addition to your favorite pain relief measures. NO ALCOHOL, under any circumstances.

Vitamin C capsules 1,000 - 5,000 mgs several times a day, as much as can be comfortably tolerated (take with Slippery Elm powdered bark). I use Ester-C.

I used a combinatin of herbal teas and decoctions to moisten a single or combination of herbs being used in the poultice, depending upon the immediate crisis or need at hand (drawing/extracting, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, or anti-whatever else is needed at the time).


A poultice is a pulverized or powdered mass of herbs moistened with water, herbal teas, tinctures, infusions, oils, decoctions. It is applied wet to the problem area. If fresh herb is used, it is pulverized until juicy, then applied directly to the skin without moistening. A cloth can be wrapped around the poultice to hold it in place when there will be movement such as walking, etc.


By the way, the regimen outlined here is pretty much how I treated my brown recluse bites (3 bites, the first time two years ago, and another one a couple of months ago). Instead of the poultices, I poured a high quality tea tree oil directly into the "hole" that the bite caused. All four bites healed amazingly well, and tissue necrosis was kept down to the size of a dime, or less. I also took frequent large doses of echinacea as outlined in the other post.

Note: It is quite possible that I may be one of those tough old birds who is "immune" to Brown Recluse spider bites. I don't know if this is the case, or if my homemade treatment should take the credit for my success. If you have access to professional medical care, I urge to you seek it promptly if you think you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse spider. More often than not, the damage from Brown Recluse is very profound, as in severe tissue damage leading to loss of limbs... They are nastybad spiders.


I do not have an "extractor" of any kind in my arsenal. It is my understanding that they are no longer recommended first aid treatments. Not even the Sawyer Extractor (which involves no cutting or lancing).

Here are three (of many!) well-versed comments made about extractors:

Note - The Sawyer Extractor kit, is no longer viewed by experts (such as Dr. Sean Bush, the nation's leading expert on snakebite) as a useful therapy for snakebite treatment, and may cause more harm than good.

Proper protocol is to immobilize the bite, keep it at roughly the same level as the heart, and to transport to the hospital without delay. In the words of Dr. Bush - "Time is Tissue. The longer it takes to get proper medical treatment, the more tissue is damaged and destroyed."


Matt_H on 2005-02-26
I have to agree with Doctor Bush on this one. I've read several reports on the study of this device and have come to the conclusion that it is not a good idea for hemotoxic envenomations. From a medical point of view, consider this. When you are bitten the first thing to consider is whether the fang penetrated a vein or just tissue. the fang penetrates a vein it is immediately traveling through your bloodstream and envenomation effects will be rapid. If it has not penetrated a vein, then it will sitll enter your bloodstream (though a little slower) by absorbtion through the capillaries. Once venom enters your bloodstream it is at the mercy of your circulatory system which is continually flowing as long as your heart is pumping. A simple negative pressure at the bite site is not going to slow down your blood circulation enough to stop the travel of venom. At best, it can retain a small portion of the venom at the bite site. If you are bitten by a pit viper, or any other snake whose venom is hemotoxic, this will definately exaggerate the localized necrosis.

The main idea here is to try to slow the movement of venom until medical attention can be acquired. In order to slow down the movement of venom you have to reduce the circulation in the affected area. This is still best achieved by a pressure bandage, (NOT a tournequet). A pressure bandage will constrict the veins and arteries in the limb enough to slow the movement of blood through the limb and thus slow the movement of venom. The bandage should be tight enough to compress the limb but loose enough to slide two fingers under the bandage. In additon the limb should be immobilized. This combination should buy you plenty of time to seek emergency medical treatment.


By Tod Schimelpfenig
Curriculum Director – WMI of National Outdoor Leadership School, 2007
NOLS, 284 Lincoln Street, Lander, WY 82520-2848, USA

We've taught that if promptly applied the Sawyer Extractor may be helpful for pit viper bites, albeit with caveats that there is limited evidence it helps, and some evidence that concentrating venom locally may be harmful.

We've changed our curriculum on the Extractor, based on the opinions of experts and research that indicates the Extractor has not lived up to it's original promise. A study published in the February 2004 Annals of Emergency Medicine created a human model for "mock venom" extraction and found little to no venom (2% actually) was extracted by the extractor. A second commentary article reviewed past studies of the extractor and weighed pros/cons. The authors overall recommendation was "This study should change our practice. We should stop recommending Extractors for pit viper bites, and the manufacturer should certainly stop advertising that they are recommended medically as the only acceptable first aid device for snakebites."

The fundamentals of rattlesnake treatment remain scene safety; remaining calm (both you and the patient); removing constricting clothing and jewelry; keeping the patient resting with the bite site immobilized and at approximately the same level as the heart; monitoring swelling and evacuating the patient by carrying, walking only if it's necessary.

This 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:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Learn How To Make Dozens of Useful Knots With This Animated Website

The easiest way in the world to learn how to make knots is by watching how it is done. Clear instructions accompany the step by step process of selecting the right knots for the job, all the way through the creation of each knot. offers the clearest presentations of how to make an amazing variety of knots for every imaginable purpose: fishing, boating, household, decorative, search and rescue, climbing, scouting and more.

You can even control the animated step by step instructions just by moving your mouse along the row just beneath the animated photos. This way you can repeat any of the steps as many times as you wish.

This EZ learning tool is just so cool! It is now a constant feature on the sidebar of this blog. I'll want to play with it, every time I come here to post...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

FEMA Getting Ready For Catastrophic New Madrid Earthquake Events to Hit America's Midsection

Instead of mainly considering disasters in a generic kind of way, FEMA is now concentrating on specific potential disasters, such as "...devastating earthquakes beneath San Francisco and St. Louis and catastrophic storms in South Florida and Hawaii..."

Well, at least they realize which one of these four contemplated disasters would be the most devastating and crippling to the United Sates: The New Madrid Earthquake.

Here's how the dollars are being spread at the moment: "The federal government spent $5 million to develop the Florida plans, about $17 million for the New Madrid plan, $1.5 million for Hawaii and $1 million for northern California."

When the New Madrid fault blows again, it will be tragically spectacular, because of all the people now living in harm's way.

When it last blew near St. Louis, Missouri in the winter of 1811 and 1812, the walls in the White House cracked and the tremors rang church bells over 800 miles away...

Because of the high population now living along the fault line, a New Madrid earthquake will bring the entire midsection of America to her knees...

It is an expected event.

Here's part of the news article:

FEMA Shifts, Draws Own Disaster Plans

By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is quietly drawing up plans for a handful of disasters: devastating earthquakes beneath San Francisco and St. Louis and catastrophic storms in South Florida and Hawaii, FEMA's chief said Thursday.

In a departure from its traditional expectation that states develop such responses, the agency is forming "base plans" for responding to specific calamities, FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

FEMA officials expect to finish plans for a massive Bay Area quake by the end of the year and are at work on another response blueprint for a large quake on the New Madrid fault, which runs from southern Illinois to northeastern Arkansas and lurks beneath St. Louis, Paulison said.

FEMA also is preparing for a Category 5 hurricane in the Miami area and has nearly completed response guidelines for a failure of the 143-mile dike around Lake Okeechobee, northwest of Miami, he said. About 45,000 people live in flood-prone areas around the lake.

Also, the agency recently began assembling response plans for a catastrophic hurricane in Hawaii, Paulison said....

...The federal government spent $5 million to develop the Florida plans, about $17 million for the New Madrid plan, $1.5 million for Hawaii and $1 million for northern California.

Friday, October 19, 2007

NOAA Weather Radio For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Here's an informative excerpt from the folks at NOAA. Go here for more information and a diagram:

The material provided is intended as general information on how NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) can be used as an emergency warning tool for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is not intended to be an all inclusive listing of how the system can be used, what products are available, or an endorsement of any product or vendor listed herein.

In several cases there are complete off-the-shelf NWR receiver based systems available that will perform the required emergency warning function as they come from the box. In some cases, where a home alerting system is already in place, the NWR receiver can be connected to the existing alerting system, much the same as a door bell, smoke detector, or other sensor. In other cases, persons with some electronic skills can purchase the NWR receiver and other components and assemble them into a system designed to meet their own special needs.

In simple systems, alarm devices can be directly connected (hardwired) to the output of the NWR receiver. In more complex installations, using wireless and wired remote modules, connections are made through devices that allow more remote and versatile placement of alarms. Alarms may require external power from batteries or modular power supplies. Care should be taken that the complete alerting system works when commercial power has failed. See the block diagram (below) for system layouts.

The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) does not guarantee the proper operation of any of the equipment and systems listed herein and is not liable for any damages as a result of non-receipt of alarms, alerts, or warnings from these systems. Inclusion of a product in this document does not imply endorsement by the NWS.

The following are general questions regarding use of NWR by people who are deaf or hard of hearing:

QUESTION: What good is a radio to people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

ANSWER: The voice broadcast of NWR is of no value to people who are deaf and of limited value to many people who are hard of hearing - very little of the audio information broadcast can be understood by individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss.

However, other non-verbal information is imbedded in these broadcasts that can provide timely, critical warnings of life threatening events to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The NWS uses something called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology to send warnings of imminent severe weather or other hazard conditions from any of 122 Weather Forecast Offices directly into homes, offices, public buildings, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, and to many other locations using the National NWR network of transmitter stations. At least 97% of the American population is covered by NWR. The NWS is working toward a coverage level of 95% in every State.

Special NWR SAME radio receivers can be programmed to set off an alarm for specific events (tornado, flash flood, toxic spill, evacuate, etc.) and specific locations (your county) of interest to you, the listener. Some receivers are also equipped with special output connectors that activate alerting devices - bed shakers, pillow vibrators, sirens, and strobe lights or other alerting systems.

Those who use hearing aids or cochlear implants equipped with telecoils may also be able to use Aloop technology to listen to NWR broadcasts. Many receivers are equipped with external output connectors that will accept a Aneckloop. The Aneckloop creates an electromagnetic field that couples the NWR receiver to the telecoil in the hearing aid or cochlear implant, allowing the user to hear the broadcast. FM, infrared, and loop based Assistive Listening Devices can also be used. There are also some hearing aids and cochlear implants with adapter cables that can connect directly to the output of an NWR receiver.

QUESTION: How does it work?

ANSWER: Forecasters at your local NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO) decide that a severe weather event is occurring or about to occur, or local authorities determine that a hazardous event (nuclear power plant problem, a chemical or biological accident, etc.) has occurred and is a threat to the local populace. The information is immediately input into a computer at the local WFO and immediately broadcast by NWR transmitters that cover the areas at risk. Digital codes are added to each broadcast identifying the event (tornado, flash flood, local civil emergency, etc.) and the location (Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Anne Arundel Counties). When the Warning is received by an NWR SAME receiver, the receiver turns itself on, sounds an alarm, activates a warning light, writes a short message (TORNADO) on the display, and activates any external devices (strobe lights, sirens, vibrators, etc.) connected to the receiver.

QUESTION: What should I do when I receive a Warning from NWR?

ANSWER: If the Warning is for a Tornado or Flash Flood you should immediately take steps to protect yourself. Every household should have an emergency plan in place that includes pre-established actions that need to be taken to lessen the likelihood of injury or death. These may include moving to the basement, a special safe room, or lower, interior levels of your home during a tornado or evacuating to higher ground along a pre-established, safe route during a flash flood. Household emergency plans can be developed with assistance from your local, county, or state emergency management office and or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

QUESTION: Where can I get additional information about the event that caused the Warning to be issued?

ANSWER: The NWR SAME Warning message broadcast you receive also triggers the Emergency Alert System at your local television stations. The message is also immediately available on the internet at sites accessible from the NWS Home Page at Either or both of these sources of text information can be monitored to get additional information, if you can do so without putting yourself at risk. There are also numerous sources of emergency information supplied by Email by various commercial telecommunication service providers on cell phones, pagers, and other personal digital devices, however, these may not be as timely as the NWS services.

QUESTION: Where can I get the necessary equipment and what does it cost?

ANSWER: NWR SAME receivers with features useful to people who are deaf and hard of hearing, such as an output to activate external devices, an LCD display, and battery back-up power are manufactured and/or sold by several companies, including Radio Shack, Midland, Recom, Homesafe, and First Alert. Connecting some of them to external alarm devices requires knowledge of electronics and some electronic technician skills for proper installation. However, there are systems that have been assembled, tested, packaged, and marketed by Silent Call, Harris Communications, Compu-TTY, and Homesafe that are simple to install and use. The cost of a basic NWR SAME receiver is $50 to $90. Systems packaged with external alarm devices start at $100.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and NOAA collaborated on the development of an industry standard and a certification program for Public Alert (NWR capable) electronic devices that include displays and external alarms useful to deaf and hard of hearing people. Purchasing a Public Alert certified NOAA Weather Radio assures that you are getting a high quality receiver, however, you still need to make sure it works for you in your location and that it is able to activate any external alarms you want to use.

QUESTION: What should I do if I’m interested in using NWR to get warnings of life threatening weather or other hazards?

ANSWER: Satisfy yourself that your area is vulnerable to weather or hazard conditions that warrant expenditure for an emergency warning system. The National Weather Service believes that NWR receivers should be as common as smoke detectors. Visit the NWS web site at to learn more about NWS and NWR and to determine if the area in which you live is covered by NWR. The web site has very specific information, including coverage maps, state and county listings, and codes needed to program receivers.

QUESTION: Where can I buy an NWR receiver and accessories for the deaf and hard of hearing?

ANSWER: Contact one of the vendors listed below. Purchase an NWR receiver or system only with the understanding that if it does not work in your area that it can be returned for a full refund.

Vendors of NWR Specifically Packaged for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Silent Call - 800-572-5227 -
(Download catalog, page 12-14)

Harris Communications - 800-825-6758 -
(Search on Weather)

Homesafe, Inc. - 800-607-6737 -

QUESTION: Is anything being done to improve the delivery of warnings of life threatening events to people who are deaf and hard of hearing?

Yes, there are currently efforts under way that will have a direct impact on warning systems to serve the deaf and hard of hearing.

The NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS) provides the direct delivery of text warning messages via Email by subscription. This provides Email delivery to any device (pager, cell phone, PDA, PC) capable of receiving text Email. Messages are selected by event type (tornado, flash flood, etc.) and issuing office (Washington, DC, New York City, etc.) and can be used to supplement NWR SAME warnings or to get specific information on severe weather anywhere in the country.

NOAA and the Consumer Electronics Association developed a standard (CEA-2009) and a certification program (Public Alert) based on NWR SAME technology. Most Public Alert certified devices are able to provide an alarm output that can drive devices to warn the deaf and hard of hearing. Public Alert certified devices are currently available from a number of manufacturers.

NOAA NWS has initiated a Weather Radio Improvement Program that includes greatly improved access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

All of these innovations have direct, significant application to deaf and hard of hearing warning improvement.

NWR Alerting Equipment

NWR Receivers with NWR SAME and an Alarm Output

Special receivers that can tune to NWR frequencies and trigger an auxiliary output on the basis of a received All Hazards warning from the NWS for a specific event in a specific state and county. Items with an asterisk (*) can be purchased as a system with external alarms (bad shaker, strobe, siren, etc.). Items in bold type are Public Alert Certified. Items in italics are out of production, but still may be available.

First Alert WX-167 Homesafe 2000HS* Midland 74-200
Homesafe 2005HS* First Alert WX-67 Radio Shack Model 250
Radio Shack Model 262 Midland WR-30 Radio Shack Model 258
Midland WR-300 Midland WR-100 Radio Shack Model 261
Reecom R-1650 First Alert WX-167 Radio Shack Model 249
Silent Call WX-67S* Midland R-300 Reecom-1630

Power Module Interface or Signaler: Converts the output of the NWR SAME receiver into a signal that is carried by electrical wiring in the home or by means of a wireless transmission that can be received anywhere in the home.

Radio Shack (X-10 Powerhouse Modules) Alertmaster AM-AX, AM-DX
Sonic Alert DS 700 Silent Call X67T*
Silent Call SC-DOT1003-2 Compu-TTY KA300TX

Remote Modules or Receiver: Receives the signal from a Power Interface or Signaler and coverts it into something that can activate an internal or external alarm.

Radio Shack (X-10 Powerhouse Modules) Alertmaster AM-RX2
Sonic Alert SA 201 & 101 Compu-TTY KA300RX
Silent Call SC-REC09214, SC- REC1001-N

Alarm Devices: Converts the alarm signal into visual, audio, or mechanical form that is more easily sensed by a person with a hearing disability. (Some of these do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but may be useful in special circumstances.)

Strobe Light
Radio Shack 49-527 Homesafe Kit*
Harris HAL-2737 First Alert WX-TRS*
Harris DATA-1005 Reecom R1603
Silent Call X67-S* Midland 18-STR

Radio Shack 49-490 or 49-488

Bed /Pillow Shaker
Harris SA-SS120V, SS-SS12V , NFS-BV6670
Silent Call X67-V*, Homesafe Kit*

Appliance module
Radio Shack (X-10 Powerhouse Modules)

The above are available from the sources listed below:

Radio Shack - See local store

Harris Communications 1-800-825-6758*

NFSS Communications 1-888-589-6670

Potomac Technology 1-800-433-2838*

Homesafe, Inc. 1-800-607-6737**

Midland Consumer Radio 1-800-241-8500

Silent Call 1-800-572-5227**

Compu-TTY 1-817-738-2485 or 1970 (TTY)**

Sima Products 1-800-345-7462**

*Vendors of Silent Call, Homesafe, Compu-TTY, and First Alert packaged systems for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Other websites for NOAA Weather Radios:*

The National Weather Service does not guarantee the proper operation of any of the equipment or systems listed herein and is not liable for any damages as a result of non-receipt of alarms, alerts, or warnings from these systems. Inclusion of a product in this document does not imply endorsement by the NWS.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How To Do Laundry When There Is Little or No Water

Whether you are camping or in a crisis event such as a natural disaster, laundry can be a challenge when water is in short supply. This cheap and easy no-soap, no-rinse way of getting your clothes clean really works!

Here's how it's done:

Add about 1/2 cup of ammonia to a sink or bucket of water, swish things around, let the clothes soak for up to a half hour. Scrub where needed, swish the clothes around, and repeat scrubbing and swishing until the grime is lifted. Remove the clothes from the water, wring out, then hang dry. No rinsing is needed. Use a little more ammonia for heavily soiled clothing. Repeat if needed.

Somehow, the ammonia seems to help prevent redeposits of dirt and grime onto the clothes. The ammonia smell will evaporate as the clothes dry, and they come out smelling and looking fresh and clean.


Brush off the worst of the dirt and grime. Turn underwear items inside out. At night, lay the clothes outdoors where the dew will fall on them. Early in the morning, hang the clothes up in full sun for a few hours.

This copyrighted material 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:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How To Rescue Leather From Mold and Mildew

Here's what I do for mildewed leather...

Remove the mildew with a cloth that has been dipped in vinegar, and wrung out. Repeat applications with fresh clean cloths and vinegar, until all traces of mildew are gone. Take care not to allow the leather to become soaking wet with vinegar. The vinegar acts as a strong fungicide and mildewcide, but it will not harm or weaken your leather. After cleaning the leather, replace the leather's natural oils with a light coat of Neatsfoot oil or Jojoba oil rubbed in and buffed with a clean dry cloth. If the leather was badly mildewed, add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to it (see below).

After the vinegar treatment, this trick will kill every last trace of mildew, and will help keep the mildew from returning:

Add about 15 - 20 drops of Tea Tree oil to a tablespoon of Neatsfoot oil or Jojoba oil. Apply a light coat of this mixture onto the leather. Buff it into the leather well. This may darken the leather somewhat, depending on the amount of oil absorbed by the leather. If this is not desirable, add Tea Tree Oil to a small amount of vinegar, and dampen a soft cloth with the mixture. Buff it into the the leather.


The Tea Tree Oil and vinegar odor will disappear soon.

Buy the best quality Tea Tree Oil you can find. The cheapo off-brands are made with weaker strength stuff, they just don't seem to work as well as the older more established brands... Tea Tree Oil and Jojoba oil can be purchased at any well stocked health food store.

Neatsfoot oil is a leather preservative and conditioner that can be found in most hardware stores, farm supply stores, or here

Use more drops of Tea Tree Oil if the mildew was abundant or longstanding. Do not allow the oil to come into contact with plastics (plastic unfriendly).

Jojoba oil also makes an excellent rust inhibiting gun oil. The mildly nutty aroma will vanish and won't spook game...Some Native American tribes already know this. Machine gunners in WW II also appreciated the high heat tolerance and superior lubricating properties of Jojoba oil...

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

This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT'-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How To Skin a Snake, Make Beautiful Snake Skins for Belts and Hatbands, and Prepare Snakemeat for Cooking or Freezer

Warning, this is rather graphic, and not for the fainthearted!

Here's how I do snakes, for the meat and beautiful skins.

First, I lop off the dead snake's head and bury it deeply, then I pour a little ammonia over the "grave" so that critters I care about won't get the notion to dig it up and play with it.

Then I hang the headless snake upside down for a few hours to bleed out. When the dripping is done to my satisfaction, I take the snake down and lay it flat. I start at the cut off head side of the snake with my knife just barely under the skin, at that exact spot where the row of belly segment "scales" meets the skin on its back. Then, CAREFULLY, ziiiip down with a super sharp knife blade. Not too deep! I don't want to poke any stinky innards. Then I do the same thing on the other side of the belly scales.

Next, carefully separate the meaty part of the snake from the mess of innards with a super sharp knife. Slide the packet of innards off, nice and easy, without rupturing anything or else, phew-ee! I find this part easier to do when I am wearing rubber gloves. For some paranoid reason, I always look around the innards for any possibility of baby snakes that might have been about to be born, had I not shot mama. They can bite, too.

After the innards are out, rinse the snake well, pat dry with a cloth. The top skin can then be peeled off in one piece. I use a dull knife to help "move" the skin off the meat, wherever it is needed. 'tis too easy to mess up a pretty skin with a super sharp knife.

You might find the most interesting things in snake bellies. I have pulled a full grown rabbit out of a 6 foot long eastern diamondback snake. The rabbit still had live "wolves" or bots squirming under its skin...These big ol' bot grub looking things are larvae of some kind of fly. The darned things will grow large under the skin of a rabbit, squirrel, dog, other critters...breathing out of holes chewed out of the host's hide. Some can get almost as big as half your thumb in length, and about as big around. I don't know why folks call them "wolves". I just call them disgusting. We don't generally shoot rabbits and squirrels for food during the "wolf" season, late spring and during summer. After the first few frosts, critters are generally parasite free. But for Mr. Rattlesnake, it was open season for rabbits.

That was weird, but the weirdest darned thing I ever saw in snake innards, was a snake's own beating heart. The rattlesnake was shot at 3 pm, here it was 9 pm, six hours later, and the heart was still beating, even though it was cut out of the snake's body. Stranger still, eight o'clock the next morning, the heart was beating, but barely. I am not making this up.

Speaking of snake reflexes, they continue moving for a while after they have been skinned. Something about removing the skin exposing nerves, I guess. If this bothers you, pop it into a bag, and freeze it for about a half hour or so.

A well done snakeskin makes a fine belt or hatband

After the skin is off, I use a dull knife or serrated rib bone or clam shell to get off every bit of whatever is not classified as "skin". Rinse well. Wash the skin by hand with detergent or soap. Rinse well. Rinse it some more. Pat the skin dry with a clean cloth.

Make a mixture of half glycerin/half boric acid (you can buy both at a drugstore). Coat both sides of the snakeskin with this mixture. With tiny nails, gently stretch and tack the edges of the skin onto a board. I like to put a length of wax paper between the skin and the board. The wax paper should be positioned so that the edges of the paper can be wrapped around the top side of the skin. This helps to conserve and hold the glycerin mixture in place, next to the skin.

Leave it like this for a couple of months. Longer is even better. Every couple of weeks, wipe off the glycerin/borax mix and renew it with a fresh application.

I have done the same thing using automobile antifreeze, instead of glycerine. I didn't care for the slight green tint on an eastern diamondback rattlesnake that I tried it on. It would probably work pretty good on a darker snake, though.

After the snakeskin has absorbed a great deal of glycering and boric acid mix for a few months, wipe the skin with a clean damp cloth, and it will be ready for any project.

How I prepare snakemeat for cooking or freezer

I clean the skinless and gutless snake with heavily salted water, and rinse well before freezing. My favorite part is the "backstrap", the two rows of muscle meat on either side of the spine. This can be chopped up and cooked like shrimp, YUM!! The flavor is delicate like lobster, almost, but sweeter.

The rest of the snake I cut into segments, then boil it in salted water (about as much salt you would cook noodles with). As soon as the meat begins to fall away from the bones, I lift the segments out, let cool...debone the meat. This meat can be used in an almost unlimited variety of recipes. It can be added to Jambalayas, Gumbos, stews, sauces. It can be added with ingredients to make patties for frying...

Although I have only eaten rattlesnake, it is my understanding that all snakes are edible. Some are said taste better than others. I heard that water moccasins taste horrible, in a cod liver oily kind of way.

There is no venom in the meat. The only poisonous part of the snake is in the head. Long after the snake is dead, reflexes are still strong, and it can still inflict damage, however unknowningly. Extreme care must be taken with the business end of a snake, dead or alive.

By the way, you may find this difficult to believe, but I used to be deathly afraid of snakes and other 'thangs'... I learned (the hard way, of course) that the more I confronted my issues head-on, the more empowered I would be. With every exposure, I grew less and less afraid...although it was just a tiny bit less, each time.

Now lookit me!!! I'm eating my durned issues for dinner.

This copyrighted material 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:

Monday, October 1, 2007

Homemade Vinegar is Fun and Easy

Here's how I make vinegar for making gourmet salad dressing, and poison ivy killer too.

For a recipe for making weed killer with vinegar, go here

Cover any kind of chopped fruit and/or fruit peelings & cores with water, in a clean widemouth glass container. This can be scraps leftover from home canning, piemaking, or general mayhem involving fruit.

Different fruits yield their own special gourmet flavors. A pear canning spree usually results in a nice salad vinegar with a delicate undertone. Apple peelings make a more robust vinegar. Experiment and have fun.

If possible, use rainwater, distilled water or water from a well or spring. Chemicals in tap water may interfere with the natural bacterial action that is needed to make vinegar. Cover the container securely with a cloth to keep out insects while allowing contact with air. Keep it in a warm dark place for a few months, stirring now and then to allow the topmost layer to work with the rest of the mess.

The wild strains of vinegar-making bacteria present in the air should colonize and feed on the sugars and starches in the liquid. After a few weeks, you will notice a vinegary smell. Allow the liquid to ferment until desired strength is achieved (smell, taste). Strain and pour into clean bottles.

For faster and better action, add a cup or so of Bragg's Vinegar or other natural unfiltered vinegar (from health food store) to the water before fermentation takes place. This promotes rapid growth of the good bacteria, while discouraging unwanted bacteria that could spoil the batch. I usually use a bit of my previously made vinegar for this purpose. The "mother of vinegar" sold by Lehman's and other back to basics stores, also helps to ensure successful vinegar making, by introducing a dense population of the "good bacteria" that converts sugars to vinegar.

Some tips:

You can make vinegar from just about anything that contains starch or sugar: Fruits, fresh or frozen fruit juices, berries, grains, roots, or even a 10% sugar water solution.

Do not use canned or bottled fruit juices, as they contain chemicals that prevent fermentation.

The 1999 July/August issue of Countryside Magazine has an excellent article on canning and general purposes:

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

This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT'-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How To Call The Police When You're Old and Can't Get Around Like You Used To

True story, this!

This happened in Meridian, Mississippi. George Phillips called the local police one night to report a burglary in progress. He told the dispatcher that thieves were stealing things from his shed, and he could see them from his back door. The dispatcher asked, "Is someone in your house?" George said "No, but..." He was cut off by the clipped voice on the phone. The dispatcher then told him that all patrol units were on calls, and that an officer would be there when they would be available.

George said "Okay", then hung up the phone. He looked out the window, looked at the phone, took a deep breath and called the police again. This is what he said. "Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I've just shot them." Then he hung up the phone and smiled to himself.

Within just a few minutes, an Armed Rescue Unit, three police cars, and an ambulance responded. The surprised burglars were apprehended.

One of the officers wondered out loud, "I thought the homeowner shot them..."

George leaned on his cane and shouted from his doorway, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chainsaw Safety Chaps May Help Newbies Stay in One Piece

If trees are part of your habitat, having a chainsaw is helpful, especially for clearing your driveway of trees and tree limbs after ice and wind storms.

If you are new at the business of chainsawing, you should thoroughly study the safety aspects of it. Practice enough so that you are comfortable with your new skills. During emergencies is no time to learn anything.

Experienced chainsawyers appreciate the extra margin of safety that good safety gear provides. Chainsaw safety chaps, safety gloves and glasses are not 100% chainsaw proof, but may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Buy only good brands of safety gear. Discount or "off" brands are noticibly skimpier on quality. The savings are certainly not worth the sacrifice. AO is a good brand that is reasonably priced. The best deal I've found for safety chaps is here:

AO Safety Chainsaw Chaps Item # 181931 $49.99

Provides leg protection while logging or when using a chain saw. Durable nylon material designed to jam a chain saw on contact. Each leg has two quick-release buckles. Oil and water-resistant outer layer. 42 in. Waist with 37 in. Inseam. UL approved. U.S.A.

These folks sell lots of safety gear for chainsaw work:
Orders: (800) 827-1688
Technical & other (503) 843-3608 Fax:(503) 843-3673

Ear Protection
Eye Protection
Safety Shirts
Safety Gloves
Safety Boots

Monday, September 24, 2007

Undercooked Beans Can Be Toxic

If you find yourself in a hurry, and tempted to cook beans "al dente" (just a tad bit too firm)...don't!

Time or fuel constraints might tempt some to settle for slightly undercooked beans. Did you know that dried Kidney beans (and other beans) that are not thoroughly cooked can cause poisoning? This can range from moderate to severe discomfort.

Hat-tip to Science Teacher (at, for this link: FDA/CFSA

The toxin is called: "Phytohaemagglutinin"

"The onset time from consumption of raw or undercooked kidney beans to symptoms varies from between 1 to 3 hours. Onset is usually marked by extreme nausea, followed by vomiting, which may be very severe. Diarrhea develops somewhat later (from one to a few hours), and some persons report abdominal pain. Some persons have been hospitalized, but recovery is usually rapid (3 - 4 h after onset of symptoms) and spontaneous." snip

Alan T. Hagan, a CE poster who is also a food storage and preservation expert, said: "Most of the common beans are Phaseolus vulgaris so they all contain varying levels of this compound.... Virtually all legume seeds contain various compounds that are anti-nutritional which is why they must be cooked before eating them...."

5. Associated Foods: Phytohaemagglutinin, the presumed toxic agent, is found in many species of beans, but it is in highest concentration in red kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). The unit of toxin measure is the hemagglutinating unit (hau). Raw kidney beans contain from 20,000 to 70,000 hau, while fully cooked beans contain from 200 to 400 hau. White kidney beans, another variety of Phaseolus vulgaris, contain about one-third the amount of toxin as the red variety; broad beans (Vicia faba) contain 5 to 10% the amount that red kidney beans contain.

The syndrome is usually caused by the ingestion of raw, soaked kidney beans, either alone or in salads or casseroles. As few as four or five raw beans can trigger symptoms. Several outbreaks have been associated with "slow cookers" or crock pots, or in casseroles which had not reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy the glycoprotein lectin. It has been shown that heating to 80°C (176 degrees F.) may potentiate the toxicity five-fold, so that these beans are more toxic than if eaten raw. In studies of casseroles cooked in slow cookers, internal temperatures often did not exceed 75°C.

6. Relative Frequency of Disease: This syndrome has occurred in the United Kingdom with some regularity. Seven outbreaks occurred in the U.K. between 1976 and 1979 and were reviewed (Noah et al. 1980. Br. Med. J. 19 July, 236-7). Two more incidents were reported by Public Health Laboratory Services (PHLS), Colindale, U.K. in the summer of 1988. Reports of this syndrome in the United States are anecdotal and have not been formally published.

AT Hagan also said, in response to another poster who was concerned about the sometimes kinda crunchy commercially canned beans:

"Canned beans have been cooked well over 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook your beans until they are not crunchy and you'll be fine. Other than relatively small amounts of bean sprouts (usually not made with P. vulgaris varieties) don't eat raw legumes. They need to be cooked."

Another poster, Summerthyme, pointed out that this temperature issue with the beans "...might be a bigger issue with people grinding dry beans for "bean flour" and then using it as a thickener in various dishes, possibly without thorough cooking..."

Here's the link to that thread:

So, to sum it all up: If you want to cook beans using a low temperature method, first boil the beans, or bean flour for 10 minutes to destroy the toxin. If you have cooked the beans the conventional way, and if you can't mash a bean between two spoons, it needs to be cooked longer.

I make my own "bean powder" by dehydrating cooked beans, then pulverizing them to a powder for thickening and adding extra nutrition to soups, stews and such.

Beans and rice are a staple in many emergency food storage plans. Together, they make an nutritious protein-rich meal, and store well for a long time.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How To Make a Homemade Emergency "Multi-Tool" With a Bic-type Lighter

I have several of these compact "multi-duty lighters" scattered where it counts. They've come in handy more than a few times over the years.

Here's how I make my favorite homemade emergency "multi-tool", starting with a plain Bic-type lighter...

Wrap a lighter with a foot or two of duct tape, as close to the bottom end as possible. Then wrap several yards of dental floss around the lighter, just above the duct tape. Secure the loose end of floss with a spot of duct tape. The dental floss can be used for many things besides your teeth.

Gorilla Tape can fix a bad day, and it is the world's best duct tape. Period.

My "deluxe" model includes a few more items wrapped around it. A tightly folded, brand new unopened plastic trash bag, plus a decent sized piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, then a bandana (that has been ironed super flat) is wound around the whole job, and tied in place with several rounds of dental floss. Sometimes I get in a fancified mood, and wrap the floss around the lighter in a decorative criss-crossed pattern. XXXXXXX

If need be, you can boil water in the heavy duty aluminum foil to purify drinking water in an emergency. A bandana and a bag = water carrier. There's a gazillion more uses for every item. Necessity may prove to be the mother of invention...

I have two "multi-tools" that feature a magnesium fire-starter and a small knife (instead of a Bic lighter), plus a few fish hooks and split shots, along with a lot of dental floss. I use a narrower strip of duct tape so I can freely use the magnesium firestarter without interference from the tape. With magnesium shavings, I can start a fire under almost any rain, snow, or sleet. I must be a serious firebug, because I go buggy looking at Cabela's firestarters.

You can customize your own lighters with a variety of small items that might help make a difference between a really bad day and a saved day.

This copyrighted material 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: