It has been 15 months since I have added to this blog and 18 months since I've done a workshop. Unless Covid rears it's head again I will be having my Primitive Skills 101 on Saturday, November 6, 2021.
Since last March when the shutdown started I have immersed myself in the study and taste of the edible world. We would all like to have the skill set to kill an animal with a homemade bow or trap, and that is a worthy skill, but it is the plant world that will feed us the easiest. We all need to be able to ID the most basic edible plants, the ones that work best for cordage and the ones that are used for friction fire. It is one thing to start a bow drill fire if someone hands you the materials to use, it is a totally different ball game to be able to ID/gather these materials yourself in any season. I will be placing a much bigger emphasis on plants in my next workshop.
I apologize if I sound like an 'ambulance chaser' BUT the past 18 months have shown me just how important the skill sets are in my 101 workshop.
I find it ironic that with social distancing ( and I do think it is needed ) I cannot do workshops that can help us to survive situations like this. All any of us can do is to take advantage of the extra time we may have on our hands and practice our skills. I have been consumed with edible plants the entire spring. In March I did a talk for the Virginia Native Plant Society on how Native Americans used our flora to keep them fed, warm and healthy and the day after the talk 'stay at home' kicked in. So it has been 5 months of edible plant study ( obsession ? ) for me. Since I cannot do workshops I have started a daily Facebook post on survival items that I see in my travels. It could be an edible plant, a natural shelter or something good for fire making. Not trying to sell Facebook to you but it is such an easy way to share info without having to click on an email every day, I know that I would not want to do that. So here's the link for your daily skills hit... www.facebook.com/primitivesurvivalskills/?ref=bookmarks
I do not know when I will be having any more workshops, will keep an eye on what the governor says and go from there. Again, use this time of uncertainty to practice and learn. I honestly don't think this will be the last thing that we have to face. Just the empowerment of knowing that you could mostly feed yourself from what is in nature is worth working at. If anyone would want a personal workshop at your place that would be possible with enough people.
Bought a new toy, I haven't played with it much but what a compact little stove to carry in your BOB bag, it solves a lot of issues in cooking. www.uberleben.co/products/stoker-flatpack-stove This guy keeps selling out so I'm not the only one who likes it.
Stay healthy and remember the 5 P's. Prior Practice Prevents Poor Performance
It's been a very busy week for me. Two days were devoted to teaching 220+ homeschoolers the survival basics and one night was giving an edible, utilitarian plant talk for the Virginia Native Plant Society.
Speaking of edible plants, you can hardly walk across the yard or fields now without tripping over so many nutritious wild edibles. I have been making wild edible salads for the past several weeks. Wild edibles may or may not be as tasty as some 'store' veggies but they are for sure more nutritious. You can eat better and less expensive using wild plants.
My next survival skills 101 is still on for April 4, 2020. With the uncertainty concerning the Coronavirus in securing venues, I will make a venue choice the first of April as to where the workshop will be held. It will be in the Palmyra, Va 22963 area regardless.
The virus, store shortages and closings makes all the skills much more real. I do this mostly for the fascination of primitive living and for the feeling of being able to take care of myself in an emergency but the virus has upped the intensity for me.
Follow my Facebook page for survival and plant info, I try to post at least one good tip per week.
Remember the 5 p's, Prior Practice Prevents Poor Performance. Stay healthy and keep learning !!
The holidays are over and I hope everyone will have a great New Year.
The next Primitive Skills 101 will be April 4, 2020 www.stevepullinger.com/primitive-survival-skills-101.html
The 5 P's. I was at a funeral recently and the deceased used that mantra to live by. The 5 P's were Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. For survival purposes I'm subbing Planning with Practice. Practice is so important in any survival skill. If you were caught in an outdoor emergency could you start a fire in wet conditions ? Would you know what it took ( work/materials ) to build a shelter ?? An emergency is no time to learn a new skill !! Whether its survival, sports or the military, muscle memory/extensive practice is what will make you proficient. So when the next rain comes, go out with matches/bow drill or whatever method you like and try starting a fire. When I take a hike I am constantly looking for shelter, seeing what edibles are available, and where I could find water. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my hikes just like everyone else, but I try to keep my survival awareness going at all times. Having said that, my wife and I hike a section of the AT every New Year's day. This year I found several good natural shelters, plenty of materials for friction fire, a few edible plants, and a few edible trees. I probably would not have gone to bed on a full stomach, but there was enough food to keep me going; mid winter is a hard time to forage.
Every new blog I want to discuss some of my favorite trees and plants. This month's blog will cover the Basswood tree and Cattails. The Basswood tree has so many uses. For me, it is by far my favorite wood for friction fire. The inner bark is a good winter survival food, the leaves and flowers are edible in the spring and summer. Honey bees love the trees flowers and make good amounts of honey from it. Its bark makes usable cordage and its wood was used for the first prosthetics. In Virginia you will find the Basswood from the western Piedmont to the West Va. line. Here's a link for more Basswood info. willowhavenoutdoor.com/featured-wilderness-survival-blog-entries/survival-trees-basswood-amazing-survival-resources-from-the-basswood-tree/
The Cattail plant is the 'Golden Corral' of plants, it has edible parts all year long, which makes it such a valuable survival food source. The cattail was not only survival food for Native Americans, it was a staple. Syracuse U. did a study and found that cattails have 9X more food per acre than potatoes. There are many uses for its stalks, leaves and seed heads. It purifies water and is cover for wildlife. The cattail is very widespread across Virginia. Enclosed is a good link to cattails. www.askaprepper.com/delicious-recipes-using-cattails-supermarket-swamp/
Learn to ID the trees and plants and then find out what each is good for. I will cover the basic trees and plants in my 101 workshops.
Thanks for reading and keep up the practice !!
This article is a rerun from several years back but after seeing this past weeks snowstorm and cold, I feel that it is worth reading again. Also, the next 101 workshop will be Dec. 7, 2019.
Everyone talks about BOB bags, EDC kits,etc. I want to discuss a 'car' bag that will cover the needs of the soccer mom, average Joe who is on the road. Winter is coming on and that ups the ante even more in having one of these in your vehicle. Look at the natural disasters of the past 6 months that have hit our country, think back to the winter of 2009 when central Virginia residents were stranded on the road for days without help/supplies. You never know when or where you may be stranded away from home. How do you get back ? How do you survive for days ? That's where I think a car bag will come in handy.
To start with, lets look at the 4 requirements needed to stay alive. 1) shelter/warmth 2) potable water 3) fire 4) food. Fortunately a 'car' bag doesn't have to be as compact/light/efficient as a BOB bag. We can afford to carry more supplies/tools than you could easily carry on your back. However, a backpack to consolidate supplies to head out on foot is highly recommended.
When reading this blog just remember that this is only my opinion of what to carry, there are many options/ideas when it comes to making these bags. 1) to cover shelter/warmth, I would carry a good sized tarp ( with plenty of cordage ) and a quality sleeping bag. Between your vehicle, a tarp and the sleeping bag you should be able to stay warm and dry. 2) for water I would have several bottles of water, ( maybe some coffee ), a metal container that you could boil water over a fire and carry a Sawyer mini-straw. The Sawyer mini-straw is very light weight water filter that is easy to carry in a small fanny pack. 3) for fire, I carry 2 lighters, 2 packs of matches in double zip locked bags, a 9V battery with some 0000 steel wool and several types of tinder/paper. 4) to supply your caloric needs I take cereal, protein bars, GORP, jerky. These are good food choices that do not need refrigeration or cooking. Everyone has favorites of course but be sure it will stay good in the car without care. Remember the average person needs 2,000 calories daily to maintain weight.
Adding to the 4 basics above: I would pack extra clothes if you get wet, a poncho or rain gear, hiking shoes and a good outdoor hat, bandana and gloves. Some type of protection, small pistol/pepper spray or whatever you feel comfortable carrying. Take extra meds, glasses, Aleve, vitamins, bug spray and sun block to cover your health needs. A sturdy camp knife/hatchet for firewood or cutting a small tree out of the road. A quality multi tool, there are tons of good, used Leatherman tools on Ebay. A small first aid kit. Several flash lights and extra batteries. A hiking staff if you have to walk it out. Phone chargers/cords.
This looks like a lot of stuff but it will easily fit into the old suitcase you no longer use or a duffel bag/back pack. Be sure to always, winter or summer, keep your gas tank at least half full.
Lastly, if you loose all this stuff, you can take my Primitive Survival Skills 101 workshop on Dec. 7, 2019 and still be good to go. Thanks for reading and I would love to hear feedback from you about your bags.
As always, check our Facebook page for weekly articles and survival tips.
1.) Why take my survival skills 101 ( or anyone else’s for that matter ) ?
For the uninitiated, this workshop may spark a lifelong interest in survival skills / living with the land. You may want to further your skill sets by taking more advanced workshops from me or other instructors. If it doesn’t spark an interest, that's ok too. The least it will do is give you the skillset to survive a temporary emergency if that were to happen in your life.
For the experienced outdoors person, I am sure you will pick up a fact/skill or two that you didn’t know and that skill could be the one you need in a bad situation. I have yet to go to a workshop, no matter what level, that I didn’t pick up some useful information. Also, my workshops are open and interactive which provide an atmosphere where we all gain information from each other.
My guarantee, if you don’t feel that you gained $75 worth of skills and information from this workshop I will refund your money in cash at the end of the day.
The next Primitive Survival skills 101 will be December 7, 2019 in Fluvanna county, Va. 22963.
2.) I have been visiting family in upstate NY this week. I took a hike today in the Minna Anthony nature area which borders the St. Lawrence river. It is an amazing place to walk/scout and so different than my home base of central Virginia. Although different, there are quite a lot of utilitarian/edible plants in NY that are in Virginia. I would say that the friction fire materials here are fewer than in Va. but there are certainly enough to cover our needs. Any time you are in a new territory, take a hike and see how you would fare in starting friction fires and finding food. It is a great mental discipline and it will keep your skills sharper.
3.) I am drying out some sumac for my next fireboard. Finding new fireboard materials is one of the most fun things for me. I recently got a coal with a yucca spindle and Red Spruce fireboard. Red Spruce is very similar to Hemlock and they are both found in the Allegheny Highlands. Red Spruce mostly grows above 4,000 feet of elevation where most of the other good trees don't. Learn to ID this one and give a try. I think the Red Spruce makes 18 native ( Va.) trees that will work for friction fire.
4.) I found a really nice Chicken in the Woods mushroom last week. This is one of my favorites as it has good taste/texture and it has no poisonous lookalike. Mushroom season is peaking now so get your ID books out and start hunting. There are 6 pretty safe bets in Va., learn those first before you move on to the hard to ID ones. Chicken in the Woods, Hen in the Woods, Black Trumpets, Lion's Mane, Morels and Puffballs.
5.), Thank you for reading and please like us on Facebook !! My Facebook page has regular posts on friction fire, edible plants and general survival info.
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