health · herbs · medical formulas · preparedness · self-reliance · Thinking ahead

The Incredible, Edible, Goldenrod

When It finally happens;

For post-disaster radiation damage or severe case of UV sun exposure, this yellow darling can’t be beat. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) was one of the first plants to make a come back around the devastated grounds near Chernobyl in the late 80’s, early 1990’s. In my area Goldenrod thrives in sandy or dry soils, along thicket borders, in open wooded areas or running wild in open fields on sunny rolling hillsides. Most everyone I know sees only an invasive weed, but we know better.

There are some 125 species of Goldenrods that grow in this country. All are native, most are found in the East.  A few Goldenrods have adapted to marshes, sandy beaches, deserts, and mountain areas. Most of this family of daisies are between 2 and 4 feet tall.100_2904

Now, let me set the record straight right off the bat. Goldenrod does not cause hay fever. Their pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind.  A lighter colored, (greenish) Ragweed which blooms at the same time is the culprit for running noses and itchy eyes.

September is prime gathering time here in the Upper Peninsula when the blooms are beautifully yellow, fragrant and loaded with bees, butterflies, and bugs. To harvest, cut it about 18 inches long and bring to the house. Hang it upside down in a well ventilated room to dry or if you are in a hurry, place clean goldenrod on a cookie sheet and put in a gas oven and let the pilot light do the work. It is ready for storage or tincture when the leaves are dry and crispy.  Read more;  https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-dry- herbs/

This beautiful golden plant is so misunderstood by the general public and often ignored in the herbal community because it is just so abundant.  Here at Handy Granny’s place, we use the leaves and flowers for teas, tinctures, or alcohol extract. Warm sweet goldenrod tea helps the body rid itself of mucus troubles such as Rhinitis and Sinusitis and slows or relieves  Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding.) Oh, did I mention, it makes a warm golden color when used for died fabrics and wools too.

Goldenrod, leaves and flowers make an aromatic beverage on it’s own but it also helps improve the flavor of nasty tasting remedies and other medicinal preparations. Chop the dried goldenrod flower, stem and leaves into pretty small pieces, place 1 tsp. into your tea strainer and put into your favorite cup. Pour boiled water into the cup over the herb and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove the herb and drink. You can take 1 or 2 cups a day until any of the above mentioned symptoms are relieved, or just because you like it mixed with other herbs.

This is a very good herb to use for UTI’s, edema, acute anuria and kidney-related skin disorders. It works well in formulas for all sorts of kidney and bladder conditions.

I will tell you for sure, that goldenrod will be in my post disaster first aid kit as a tincture and for use as a tea.

Read more;  

https://jonbarron.org/herbal-library/herbs/goldenrod

http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Glorious-Goldenrod.htm

http://www.pixiespocket.com/2013/10/lets-talk-about-goldenrod.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

homesteading · preparedness · self-reliance · Thinking ahead

Getting your fat on during SHTF

You may remember from your high school history class the story of Lewis and Clark and their expedition into the north west. We are introduced to a young Indian girl, Sacajawea, who leads the unlikely troop of misfits into Indian territories.

Fourteen year old Sacajawea endeared herself to the men of this historic adventure, often being called “little sister”. She patched their jackets and tanned hides to make many pairs of moccasins, she cooked delicious meals and treated their wounds with herbs and earth. However, even this young Indian girl was not aware that although there was plenty of antelope and mountain sheep available to hunt and feed themselves, the expedition was slowly dying.

During one particular meet and greet at an Indian village the expedition picked up an old Indian grandfather. Grandfather Indian was curious about the mission and the men welcomed him to travel along. Several days of traveling with his new found friends, Grandfather Indian noticed many of the men becoming ill and unable to continue the nightly chores.

Grandfather Indian recognized this groups problem as a depleted nutritional condition and quickly gathered up all the troops tallow candles and melted them in a large cooking pot. Next he scooped out a cupful of the melted tallow and had the men drink it down quickly. One by one, each person drank down a their share. Not one of them gaged or choked on the greasy beverage due to the fact the body knew what it needed to survive. By morning everyone was up and ready to hit the trail.

The moral of the story is that fat is required for many bodily functions. Your body cannot make certain fatty acids and needs to get it from outside sources. If dietary fats are not supplemented the body cannot process vitamins A,D,E, and K, creating a host of health problems. Also, fat is so very important for proper brain functions and are crucial for maintaining good eye health.

Besides fat add a lot of flavor to food, fat if a ready source of energy contributing 4,000 calories per pound of fat. Fats other jobs are that it provides a blanket around vital organs thus shielding them from trauma and cold.

During SHTF

You can stockpile beans, rice, pasta and oatmeal for the really hard times, but the more important fat products are seldom thought of. And of course, fats and oils have a short shelf life because they go rancid easily at room temperature. However;

Store purchased lard and beef tallow can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Coconut oil can be frozen up to 6 months–Although, I have had some in the freezer for more than a year and it is still good if kept in a tightly sealed plastic jar.

Butter can be frozen up to a year. Some industrious folks have learned how to can butter, but that craft has escaped me.

Cold water fish are quite fatty, providing the body with many needed nutrients. Cod liver oil will keep in the refrigerator for several months and is an excellent source of vitamin D.

Learn more about collecting and using fat for your survival prep

https://www.youtube.com/watch? Rendering fat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeZHrcI2BNU Schmaltz chicken fat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q75AkXgVpFo Goose fat for bush craft maintenance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-fN2XjC6Qc How to collect fatwood

homesteading · preparedness · self-reliance

Post Apocalypse Hard Truths

You have beans, Band Aids and bullets stored for when the SHTF. You have put some things back for those who didn’t prepare or maybe for anonymous donations to your church congregation. You have a little silver and a box of neat stuff designated for barter. You even remembered to buy extra seed for next years garden and you even thought to put books and games into storage for quiet times. Congratulations, you are a step ahead of 85% of the rest of the country.

***

Today was a dreary, grey, Sunday morning for April. The temperature was 26 degrees and as I poured my first bitter brew of the day, I witnessed large white snow flakes flying past the window carried on a 20 mile an hour icy wind. I snatched up my warm cup of coffee and headed over to the woodstove, picked up the fire poker and stabbed the fire making sparks float up the chimney. It needed another chunk of tree to keep it burning and warming the house. I put on two medium sized logs. The house was quiet, so I curled up in the easy chair closet to the woodstove with my coffee and allowed my mind to bring me memories of my first year out here in the backwoods. 25 years living out here, how far I have come and I’m amazed at all that I have learned!

If God had chosen a place on earth to live, I serious believe he would have loved it here. His handy work is ever present with thick pine and hardwood forests and abundant animal population of all descriptions, rushing rivers and gushing waterfalls in all the right places. The first time you stand on the edge of a bluff and witness a summer sunset over lake Superior with an intoxicating warm pine scented breeze caressing your check, you will have been permanently embedded on your primal physic consciousness blessings of our ancient ancestors. I fell in love with this very hypnotic reality and have been addicted even sense.

On the flip side there is ‘Mother Nature’ who is less agreeable. She expects you to know your environment and will spank you hard if you don’t take your situation seriously. People have walked off the edge of a cliff by misjudging the beauty of this place and their own ability. A few years ago two sisters left their southern state homes and took a drive to the U.P. to see the sights in April. They drove out into the woods with nothing more than the coats on their backs and a bag of junk food. Confident in their driving skills, the pair drove to the northern most part of the forest on a wilderness back road ending up close to lake Superior in about 3 inches of snow. They stopped to take in the sights and promptly became stuck. Alone and no cell phone service they ended up out there for twenty-one days. The first night stranded in Michigan’s wilderness, it snowed hard and the car was pretty much buried. Long story shortened, they lived and managed to make it out but they were almost done for when they were finally discovered. They had no idea what to expect driving to a different climate, even in what they thought was spring. By the grace of God, their wind shield had reflected a momentary spot of sunshine and a rescue helicopter spotted something shiny. Most people aren’t so lucky. Authorities found a frozen man near a major river just yesterday. He too had wandered off to see the sights.

My first winter alone in my little tar paper cabin out here in the big woods, the jet stream took a right turn to the south. (I was a young 43 years old and fairly fit at the time. Tough as nails I thought.) Artic air dove down from Canada, blew across lake Superior and landed over Michigan’s U.P. at minus 50 degrees. Hell, that is mid winter Alaska temperatures! I went to bed at about 10:00 last night, put a few logs in the woodstove as usual but I didn’t wake up during the night to feed the wood burning beast. That fateful morning I woke up to 26 degrees in my one room cabin. It was so cold, the dogs’ water was frozen, I surmised that the woodstove must have gone out soon after I had gone to bed.

I put on a jacket and boots and went out to the outhouse. On my way back I stopped at the side porch to grab an arm load of wood. WHAT??!!! There was only 4 pieces of wood left. I had run out of heating wood, with no back up heating as I had no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Back inside the house I put on some warmer clothes, grabbed the hand saw and headed for the woods to find some wood to get me through the rest of the day and night.

I began trudging through three feet of snow feeling around in the snow for anything burnable. By now my heart is racing from the stress of the deep snow and cold. I couldn’t find enough wood to do much good, I was about to go into a full blown panic. I gave up and headed back to the house. I wanted to cry but I knew better at minus 50 degrees air temperature.

I struggled to get back to the house with a meager arm load of twigs, hardly enough to get me through the day. I fired up the camp stove to heat some water for another cup of warm coffee and to help clear the cold so I could contemplate my next move. How long could I stay out here in the wilderness without heat? Will they find my cold, dead body in the spring?

Mother nature spanked me good that day! I managed to get through that crisis thanks to a dear neighbor (we call people neighbors out here even when they are miles away instead of blocks away) who was able to get his snow machine up and running. He came to check on me and helped me to secure a load of split wood to get me by until I could find someone to sell me their extras. You can’t thank good neighbors enough.

This is one of the many near misses I experienced while living out here in the backwoods alone without modern stuff back in the early days. I am still here because I learned my lessons and have developed a great respect for what dearest mother nature has to dish out.

In all reality, for those who feel that bugging out to the woods when the SHTF, I’d like to warn you; life in the woods, without electricity and skills will not be easy and could kill you. Many won’t have the stomach for it, I don’t care how much you protest that you could do it. It is not the time to learn as you go. Most TV shows like those reality survival programs are scripted or pretested. Case-in-point–The history channel put on a series where they took a group of young healthy men and put them alone in the wilderness in the Pacific Northwest. Did you see it? They contacted me to audition, but given my age they declined may application. I figured, this little old lady would show up those little boys so they didn’t want to ruin their ratings. You know drama and pain sells. There were several episodes where I couldn’t believe these guys had to tap out. One kid decided to go home and give up the $50,000 prize money because he lost his fire starter and another young guy became sick and went home after drinking stream water, without filtering or boiling it first. But I digress. . .

There has been an influx of people to this area lately, people looking to get out of the city and maybe just a more peaceful existence. Whatever their reason, they are bringing with them huge outdoor mercury lights and paved roads and driveways. In other words, they are bringing modern stuff with them and not learning how to survive as our ancestors did. When the SHTF they will be just as dead as everyone else because they didn’t learn their lessons.

Moral of this story? You have prepared with food, water and other stuff and feel you can survive what a failed society will hand you. But I’m here to tell you, you are not! You need the wherewithal and skills to make it through to the other side. And just because you got stuff, it still may not be enough and will eventually run out, remember this; whatever you got, someone else wants and will take it! You need to fill your head with know-how, and teach your children. Hell, learn together and start them young, you will have past them survival skills as their legacy from you. Much more important than anything you could ever, ever give them. Start now!
Melting Time

Your very first step is to secure a hard copy library. How to books you can pass down to the next generations because who knows if their future will have electricity for their stuff.

Go out into the woods and do it! Or take a survival class. There are classes everywhere for urban and wilderness survival. I took a class set up by 4-H leaders. It was very intense to say the least. One of the things they did to us was blindfold each student, spin you around and lead you out into the forest. One at a time they took us out into the wilderness and left us their to stay the night and find our own way back the next morning. Hey, I love it. I would have liked to stay another night or two but, you know, duty calls.

Practice, practice, practice and then teach others. You learn as you teach. Repetition pays off.

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

forest dweller · homesteading · preparedness · self-reliance

Hide-behinds and the Long Winters Night

Creatures of the long silent night. . .

Many years ago, the young and adventurous me, discovered a 40 acre parcel of heavily forested property which none of the locals even knew was for sale, smack dab in the middle of a state forest. Deep in the middle of  this secluded 40 acre parcel  in the wild’s of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula stood a 20’X20′ tar papered shanty I was about to call home. It took every penny I had to buy the property that had unknowingly been up for sale for more than 15 years. I was beside myself with excitement! I was 43.

The cabin/now shanty was built as a hunting camp in 1963 using real saw milled 2X4’s. Sturdy, well built, no electricity or water as there were no power lines out there in the early days. It was dirty, run down and ghost like from all the years of no human intervention. However, a local population of mice and raccoons had made a claim to it over the years, moving in their own families. And really large, gray wart covered wolf spiders inhabited every crack and corner of the tiny, lovable little cabin nestled in amongst the over growth of trees and flora. These guys were the biggest, most horrifying eight legged creatures I had ever witnessed!

I was anxious to get started and arrived early on the day after I had taken procession of my new home. There were no keys handed to me at the time of signing at the bank.  Even the realtor was unaware of the shack on the property. Gus, my yellow lab took off to explore his new environment and was no help what so ever helping to unload the boxes of cleaning supplies, hammer, nails, crowbar and a shovel I figured it would take to make this place near as livable as possible. It took me most of that summer to fix up what was to be the most memorable 20 year adventure of my life.

By now it is late fall. My first night alone out here in the woods, in my now cleaned one room shanty found me laying in my bed with my blanket pulled up to my chin with one hand and a flashlight gripped tightly in the other. Listening to the night time parade of mice playing tag in the ceiling and walls, my thoughts turned to; “What the hell am I doing out here 30 miles from town,  in the middle of this 1000’s  of acres of woods? All alone! Was I nuts?”

“OMG! What’s that noise? Listen, there it is again!”

It sounded like something was actually chewing on my cabin.  Sometime during the night I did doze off but only briefly. A thunderstorm demanded that I not get too comfortable. Loud claps and bright lightening fueled my anxiety of this precarious first night in the woods. Then suddenly as a lightening bolt lit up the room, there on the ceiling was a monstrous, wart covered wolf spider the size of my hand, hurriedly making his way in my direction. . .

To make a long story short and the purpose of this post, when the power is out it is quiet! I will be the first to tell you that the constant buzz of human activity, electronic gadgets, cell phones and all sorts of technology along with traffic noise and streetlights are so natural to the every day guy and gal that we just don’t notice the noise, that is, until it is gone. When the electrical plug has been pulled and the power goes out the first sense is that of ahhhhhhh. It actually feels good.  (Personally, I miss my days and nights living unattached to the power grid and even today, going into town seems so loud.)  It doesn’t take long, however, before you begin to feel withdrawal symptoms, much like that of a cigarette withdrawal. Then night comes, the stillness of the true lightless night becomes the monster in the closet of our childhood.

My first long winter night played games with the stillness of my snow covered wilderness. I suddenly became acutely aware that the moon light uses shadows as an accomplice; it tricks the imagination into seeing beasts stalking the darkness. A wise older man I knew called them hide-behinds. Elusive mystical creatures without true form, created purely from ones own imagination, hiding behind leafless hardwoods, he liked to say.  I remembered his words one night  as I sat reading quietly by oil lamp,  the muted flickering of the yellow flame demanded entrance into the playful party of dancing shadows. At that moment, as I look up from my reading, the icy stillness crept up and stole away with my struggling confidence. A mythical hide-behind ran an icy finger up my spine.

Twenty years have now come and gone since my first night time encounter with the night time hide-behinds deep in my forest. My tiny cabin has given way to a fit a proper homestead and a husband. The moral of this story you may have guessed is that when the lights go out, and they will, it is the quiet people will surrender to. More often that not, even before the lack of food sets in. Humans have adapted to noise, to the hustle of activity and having every desirable electronic device at their finger tips. You can and should prepare for as many physical aspects of the coming take down of the U.S. as possible. But will you be able to survive the quiet? It is truly a possibility that needs to be understood.

History has recorded that silence created a debilitating  madness in the unprepared pioneer women  during the 1800’s westward movement.  Women whose husband had settled them in the prairies of the western U.S. and were left alone for a long periods time often went mad due to the silence. Their only companion was the never ending wind, the mournful song of the elusive wolf and the fear of an Indian raid. Returning husbands sometimes found their wives, if the were lucky, wandering the open prairie looking for another human neighbor.

 

 

homesteading · self-reliance

Grumpy Grandpa Gets a New Toy

Grumpy Grandpa Gets a New Toy–Disclaimer; If you think all your food comes from the grocery store and eating what you grow is distasteful, click off this blog right now because it could get gruesome for you.

 

I write the above disclaimer because a few years ago Grumpy Grandpa and I felt that we would like to do some traveling. In order to leave our backwoods homestead for any length of time we would be forced to sell our animals. It was quite the effort, to be sure. We searched and searched, in the end we just couldn’t find any willing, able bodied, humans that would live out here and care for them in our absence, so we sold them all. Even to pay someone a good wage, the amount of work around here was more energy than interviewees  were willing to give. Also, we are a bit isolated. Between the amount of work and the isolation, well, there were just no takers.

It was February when we made the decision  we would like to do some traveling. That meant we needed to start selling our critters now if we wanted to be ready by spring to hit the road. Chickens were first to be posted on Craig’s list,  20 beautiful, one year old laying hens with pictures went up online. We really didn’t think anyone would be interested at this time of year. Our area was elbow deep in snow. Boy, were we wrong!

The e-mails and phone calls came in like a troubled 747. The phone and computer were smokin’, but not to buy the hens. People were pleading with us to make sure our chickens had a good home and that no harm would come to them. Please, please make sure the new owner isn’t going to eat them, one lady begged. Another lady wanted me to contact her after I had sold the girls to reassure her that they went to a good home. E-mail after e-mail and one phone call after another for days. I’m absolutely not making this stuff up, it really happened. Perfect strangers demanding that I do the right thing! It was crazy.

Just to put everyone at ease, however, we ended up selling them to a guy about our age who wanted younger hens to add to his flock because his hens were 4 years old and not laying any more. Yeah, I know.

So, if you are someone who thinks your food mysteriously appears at the grocery store wrapped in nice packages, then read no further. We kill animals out here in the backwoods and eat them! Chickens, ducks, deer, rabbits, fish, turkeys, partridge, etc.  I do, however, draw the line at road kill. I’m not Granny Clampet. And vegetarian on the label of a carton of eggs cracks me up, what a gimmick! Chickens love road kill and fish and worms and bugs. Hell, they even eat each other. Someone hit a snowshoe hare out on the road, tossed it into the chicken pen and boom, half an hour later all that is left are some fur and bones. But I digress.

This spring we went nuts in the head and purchased 100 baby chicks and 8 ducklings. For those of you unfamiliar with the process; at the feed store you can order what is called a straight run, which is a mixture of hens and roosters. You don’t know what you got until they start to mature. This year we ended up with about 50/50, 50 hens and 50 roosters. (Usually, it is about 80/20, 80% roosters, 20% hens per order.) This year 50+ of our chickens will go into the freezer. (No hate mail, please.)

It’s a ton of work putting up that many critters, so Grumpy Grandpa made the decision to purchase some mechanical help.When we were younger, living off the land and doing everything by hand was fun and challenged our creativeness, but we had strong, healthy backs back then. At the tender age of 63, I can still toss a 50 pound bag of chicken scratch over my shoulder and carry it around but oh do I pay for it the next day. We did forego some other needed items to be able to purchase this back saving appliance. We are so glad we did.

Video may be disturbing, watch at your own digression. I pulled this off youtube to give you an idea of how this cool machine works.

 

In a matter of seconds you can have two chickens, or two ducks, or one turkey cleaned and ready to go. Awesome device, I’d like to kiss the guy who invented this thing.

 

self-reliance

Five Years From Now. . .

An article from 2015. How close are we now?

Handy Granny in da Woods

How-Modern-Life-Destroys-Survival-Instinct

Today the waking hours of waning day light here in Michigans Upper Peninsula was depressingly dark and gloomy. Old man winter has begun his ritual ceremonial dance for the seasons dominance with heavy gray clouds, cold brisk winds and a pissy drizzle from above. His signature warning is a prelude to a 6 months serving of cold, wet, white stuff. It was a day where you just wanted to eat, sleep and hibernate in front of a fire in the woodstove with a hot cup of tea. I say, wanted to. I was not that lucky, I had to go out into the world and briefly leave my woodland sanctuary and little cabin.

As I reached town, I merged with all the other zombie drivers who couldn’t decide which lane they wanted to drive in. The brain seems to disengage in chaotic traffic. 90% of the zombie drivers had a small, black, rectangle shaped piece of plastic held…

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