It is cold and snowy outside now. I've been going for walks in the woods and looking for the meager wild edibles this time of year. The slim pickings are pine trees, cattails and tree bark.
Pine tree needles, crushed and steeped in hot water, will give us a somewhat refreshing tea that has up to 5X the vitamin C of citrus. It is not hot chocolate but it is certainly a lot better than nothing. The inner bark of pines are edible, just slice thin vertical strips of inner bark and chew. Some people swallow the fiber, others just swallow the juice/nutrients and spit out the roughage. Don't cut all the way around the limbs or trunk of the tree to get the bark as this will kill it. Fried pine inner bark is much tastier but it certainly requires more work to process.
Cattails are the true 4 season food source. Syracuse University conducted a study and found that Cattails had 9X more food value per acre than potatoes. This time of year you pull up the roots, slice and put them in a container of water. Pound the roots to release the starch, strain out the fibers and then let sit overnight. Next morning pour off the water and you have this amazing starch to cook with. If in a hardcore emergency, you can just pull up the roots/rinse/slice and pull them through your teeth and eat the starch raw.
Lastly, the other tree inner barks that are edible. Pine, Basswood, Slipper Elm and the Birches. All are done the same, vertical thin strips of inner bark are what you are looking for. Chew thoroughly to release all the nutrients.
Next Primitive Survival skills workshop is March 30, 2019. Go to workshops for details. Now is a great time to go out and practice fire making. With lighter or bow drill, it is much harder with snow on the ground and everything wet. Another item to carry in your compact EDC bag is a few of the birthday candles that won't blow out. They are great for those windy/damp days. Also, don't forget that corn chips or potato chips make great fire starters. All that grease that clogs our insides really burns well !!
Winter reading material. One Man's Wilderness by Sam Keith and Build The Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills by Creek Stewart. The last one has many great tips !!
For you Facebook users go to my Facebook page for weekly survival tips and info....Thanks for reading.
First, I want to thank everyone who participated in the last 101 workshop. The weather was perfect and you guys were really a great group to be with. The next 101 will be scheduled for early spring 2019 but if anyone wants a special workshop over the winter let me know.
A previous student and I were discussing having a primitive skills rendezvous. This would be a gathering of like minded primitive skills enthusiasts who would spend the day practicing/sharing their skills. No charge, just a small donation to cover the cost of venue rent. If there is sufficient interest I will keep working on it. Let me know.
We talk of mental discipline as one of the most important skills to have in any emergency. I just watched 'The Martian' for the third time. The character played by Matt Damon exemplifies all the mental skills that we should strive for in our lives. He never gives up, he's always trying to figure out what the next problem is to solve and he keeps a positive attitude. Good movie !!
For you fire makers out there, now is a great opportunity to go outside with your bow and handhold and make friction fire. It feels like it has rained everyday for the past 6 months. It is wet, go out and make your tinder bundle, find dry kindling, and find/make your fire board/spindle. Put your skills to use, practice, practice......Something to add to your fire making kit, get the birthday candles that don't blow out. They would be really good on those wet/windy camping trips where the fire is so hard to get going. I also carry a wad of 0000 steel wool to help that ember/ferro rod spark ignite. It sure looks like magic the way that stuff burns.
Winter reading. I found this book by accident and it is really good. ' The Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual' by Tim MacWelch. It covers primitive skills but also throws in the bush craft alternatives.
Deer season is here, save those hides for winter skills projects. Good rawhide comes in handy in so many ways.
Again, keep studying and reading and practicing. Look at all instructors/classes, all the different books. Everyone has some bit of knowledge or experience that no one else has. My goal is to use the blog and my Facebook page www.facebook.com/primitivesurvivalskills/?ref=bookmarks as tools to share info and events. Please like on us Facebook and if you tire of these emails just let me know. Steve
I think this summer has finally broken and that is good. It has been a great year for wild edibles though. With all the rain this year, the edible mushrooms have been so plentiful as well as Pawpaws. There are still a few Pawpaws left to find, save and replant the seeds if you do find some. I am no mushroom expert for sure but the Black Trumpets and Chicken of the Woods have been plentiful and they are easy to ID and they have no poisonous look alike. Another one that should be showing up now is Lion's Mane; it grows on Maple/Oak trees where there is a damaged or rotted place. They are large,white mushrooms that really do look like a lion's mane. From what I have read they are a great brain food. Acorns and all the nuts are starting to fall, so there is still plenty to harvest. My grandkids and I made some pretty good acorn flour cookies several years back. Living Earth school in Afton has a good edible workshop going on this fall.
Not trying to be an ambulance chaser on this reminder but go back to my Nov. 2017 blog on 'car' bags. After seeing what Florence has done I feel even stronger that we all need some type of bag in our vehicles. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive, it just needs to be available if needed. I asked a great friend one time ( thanks Bob ) what is the best knife, he said it's the one you have with you.
The last Primitive Survival 101 is scheduled for Nov. 03, 2018, rain or shine at the Scheier Natural area in Fluvanna county. We will cover EDC/BOB bags briefly as well as all the primitive skills. Please pass out the word if you know of anyone who is interested. www.stevepullinger.com/primitive-survival-skills-101.html
I understand that some of you don't have/want a Facebook page and with good reason ! However, it is such a good way to pass out information. I do not want to bombard you with emails every week about some cool thing or plant but with Facebook I can post something and you can look if you want or not. Emails kind of stare you in the face until you do something with it. My stevepullinger.com Facebook page is a way of sharing events/knowledge that I hope is not too burdensome like emails. Speaking of emails, if you get tired of these just let me know and I will take you off the list.
First thing, the next Primitive Survival Skills 101 will be November 3, 2018. Location will be Fluvanna County, VA., more details will follow as class time nears.
Don't be a purist ? I think everyone would be more empowered if they knew some primitive skills. Not much is more fun than friction fire !! Having said that, there are some modern items that I always carry with me on long hikes and always go with me on road trips. Think the 4 basic skill sets needed for survival. 1. Shelter, carry a small emergency blanket. They really do work. A small disposable rain parka for shelter. 2. Water, a Sawyer mini-straw will get you through any emergency. They are very compact, light weight and inexpensive. 3. Fire, 2 lighters, a pack of matches and small roll of 0000 steel wool. All this in a sandwich bag ( or two ) to stay dry. 4. Food, carry a couple of protein bars or some GORP. Remember that you can go weeks without food but just for the mental satisfaction it really comes in..... extra stuff to carry, a good Leatherman tool and some paracord or similar cordage. A very small AAA flashlight. An extra pair of glasses, any meds and a tube of Super Glue. Super glue fixes so many things, including backwoods wound care. I know that all this sounds like a lot of stuff but it really does fit in a tiny fanny pack and it for sure could save your life. So, if you are freezing, it is ok to start your fire with a lighter.
For you friction fire folks, the Mulleins are blooming now and as soon as the blooms start falling off you can harvest the flower stalks for spindles. This year has been the worst year in memory for harvesting yucca flower stalks. They have been crooked and many have been hollow inside. Plus, the deer have realized that the new stalks taste good and they are doing a number on them.
Due to lots of interest I will be holding a summer Primitive Survival skills 101 workshop on June 23, 2018. This will be held at Pleasant Grove Park in Fluvanna Co., Va. The April 28 class went really well and was a great group. Last week I did a 2 hour demo for the Crozet library at Mint Springs Valley park outside of Crozet. We didn't do any hands-on but much information was exchanged.
Just a reminder that the yucca's are showing their flower stalks now, by the end of June they will be full length and the flowers will be starting to fall off. That's the best time to harvest, remember to get the straightest ones you can find. Remember, for friction fire spindles less wobble means more success !!
If you are on Facebook, check out my page www.facebook.com/primitivesurvivalskills/?ref=bookmarks for good articles on edible/medicinal/utilitarian plants and other survival info.
Thanks for reading, please pass on the word about my next 101 workshop and like us on Facebook !!
Spring wild flowers are blooming which means there are so many wild edibles already up. I have been posting edible and medicinal plant articles on my Primitive Skills Facebook page but if you don't have Facebook I will post some here as well.
The cattail is probably the most useful plant out there when it comes to food. It has food value all 4 seasons. A Syracuse University study found that cattails have 10X more food per acre than potatoes. www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/2013/07/survival-skills-how-use-yucca.
The yucca plant in my opinion is probably the most utilitarian plant to use. Remember Food, Soap, Fire and Rope. www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/2013/07/survival-skills-how-use-yucca
Not sure of the plants ? here's a link on how to check plants for safety. www.offthegridnews.com/off-grid-foods/survival-101-the-right-way-to-determine-if-a-plant-is-edible/
My last scheduled Primitive Survival Skills 101 workshop until fall will be on April 28, 2018. There are 5 spots left at this time so please put the word out if you know of someone who may be interested. www.stevepullinger.com/primitive-survival-skills.html
Thanks for reading and please like us on Facebook.
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