Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free firestarter offer is over...for now

The feedback for free firestarters has been overwhelming. For now the offer is over until Leon can get some more inventory. If you received a firestarter please let me know what you think of it. You can email me at artyboy at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Improvising a fixed blade knife

A couple of posts ago I talked about how I had made a fixed blade knife with the small pocket knife blade that I keep in my wallet. It was a pretty easy little project. It only took about two hours. I've never made a knife handle. I've never even read about how to make one. I just put it together off the top of my head. Everything I used either came out of my wallet or can easily be found in nature. Any suggestions on how to make a better knife handle next time will be appreciated. Anyway, here's what I did.

I started with a stick that was about the size of the blade.

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I battoned the stick in half.

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Then I "sanded" them into the rough shape of a handle by rubbing them on my patio. Any flat rock should work. After getting the rough shape I drilled holes in them to line up with the hole in the blade so that I could pin it in place. I started by digging out a hole with the blade then I used my diamond knife sharpener to file out the holes to the same size as the hole in the blade. I also carved out a space for the blade on one of the handle halves.

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Once I got everything to fit flush I pinned the blade in place with a stick. I also wrapped the handle with some string.

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Before taking it apart I put it through some normal knife tasks just to see how it handled. I chopped up some meat and vegetables for dinner.

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I also tried starting a fire with the small striker that I keep in my wallet. While it provided plenty of spark I couldn't get a fire started. I suck at making fires with firesteels. It's one skill that I've never been able to master just from reading about it on the internet (among many others). In this case practicing doesn't seem to help much, either.

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My overall impressions of the knife aren't bad. It had no play from side to side but quite a bit forward and backward. For normal cutting tasks it functioned well enough. Much better than it would have had it not had a handle. The handle definitely allowed for a lot more torque and control. I didn't try doing anything wild and crazy like battoning logs (besides the handle) or cutting down trees and it wouldn't stand up to that kind of abuse. If all else fails I'll be glad to have it during an emergency.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Wallet Firestarters!

Leon over at http://survivalcommonsense.com/ has made a very generous offer to my readers. He's giving away free wallet firestarters for a limited time! Just send him an email that you saw this post and would like to try it out and he'll send you one for free. You can reach him at survivalsenselp at gmail dot com. I already have some on the way and will be doing a review when they show up. Be sure to check out his site, too. It's got a lot of great survival information.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Wallet Survival Kit

Recently I did a post on my every day carry. I had just updated a few things. In that post I also mentioned a wallet "survival kit". You're obviously not going to be able to fit everything you need into your wallet but you can definitely carry enough to give you an advantage if you ever get stuck in a situation where you're between you and your preps. I've been messing around with the idea and have come up with a few items that are so small that they're practically unnoticeable.

Everyone knows that the one tool you really need if you ever get caught on your own is a knife. Most of the knives that I've seen that fit into a wallet tend to be very small. They're just a small, maybe 1-2" knife with a full tang and no handle. Such a small knife has limited functionality. So instead of paying a ton of money for what would amount to a novelty I just dug around in my knife drawer and pulled out a gun show special folder. I took it apart and was left with a 3" blade that fit neatly in my wallet.

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With a little ingenuity you can make a pretty effective fixed blade out of it. I'll do a post about how I made that with just the items in my wallet later. I also want to see how the handle holds up to some light duty. It's not as good as a quality fixed blade. Hell, it's not even as good as a decent folder but it makes a decent backup in case you were to lose or break your "real" knife. If you didn't have anything else it would certainly be better than nothing.

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As you can see from the pic above I also carry about 20 feet of string wrapped around a business card. I need to tape a few needles and fish hooks to the card. The string is a bit too thick to sew with but it's strong enough to be very useful for light duty tie downs and stuff like that. If you needed to build a shelter, tie down some gear or wrap the handle of an improvised fixed blade knife it will do the trick.

As for the rest of the "kit" it's pretty straightforward. I took the diamond sharpener off of one of those Smith's Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpeners. It unscrews easily and disappears in your wallet. It makes a handy knife and hook sharpener or you can use it as a file. I also carry a small flint that I removed from a magnesium firestarter. I always like to have a few extra receipts on me in case I need some tinder. Just a few days ago there was a great post over at Bug-Out Survival about some wallet sized firestarters. As soon as I can get my hands on a couple of them I'll be slipping them into my wallet. I also carry about 10-20 feet of duct tape wrapped around a credit card. Besides that it's just the normal stuff...cash, credit cards and an emergency contact card with phone numbers of friends and family.

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Do you carry anything unusual survival related stuff in your wallet? Do you have any ideas to improve mine? Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ova Easy Dehydrated Egg Review

So, like I said in my post yesterday, I was checking out my local big box sporting goods store and saw some dehydrated eggs in the freeze dried food section. The bag was only 4.5 oz and it claimed to contain the equivalent of a dozen eggs. I've been looking for something like this for a while. I'm not a fan of mountain house "camper meals". They just have way too much salt and they don't fill me up at all. I prefer to cook my own stuff. Eggs are a pretty essential ingredient in many of my favorite recipes. Dehydrated eggs are an obvious solution but every time I look at the ~$50 price tag on a #10 can of them I've always decided to hold off. At $3.99 these were not only a good price but they were in a convenient package that will fit nicely in my BOB. If they came in resealable packages they'd be absolutely perfect. Everything else that I carry is in plastic peanut butter jars, though, so one more won't hurt.

Anyway, I'm not about to carry it anywhere unless I know it tastes like eggs. So this morning I made an omelet. I used 6 scoops of the eggs and 12 tablespoons of water. That seemed to work out almost perfectly to 3 eggs. I also threw in some shitake mushrooms, tomatoes, ham, green onions and garlic.

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Saute the ingredients in some olive oil before adding the egg.

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Add the egg, flip it and then lay a slice of cheese (in this case my homemade cheese) across the top.

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Fold it over onto a plate. I went ahead and sauteed some tomatoes in some hot sauce for the topping.

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The texture was spot on. It cooked like an egg. I thought that it tasted like an egg, too, but when I went back to the store to pick up another package the guy stocking the shelf said that he'd tried it (just cooking scrambled eggs) and he thought that they were horrible. In an omelet I couldn't tell the difference between these and regular eggs. I thought that they were great and a bag immediately went into my BOB after tasting. Some people's minds are made up before they even try something new. If it's just too weird then they'll never like it. Other people taste things that most people don't ever seem to. Keep an open mind and get the ratio of egg to water correct and I think that you'll like it. From what I can tell 1 egg = 2 scoops of dried eggs + 3 scoops of water.

On the way there I stopped at a pawn shop and picked up a Buck 119 for $20. The sticker price was almost retail so I decided to just lowball the guy and see if he'd bite. He did. It's like new and the previous owner probably never did much more with it than try to cut paper to see how sharp the blade was.

When I got to the store I picked up that Condor Bushcraft 5" blade that I was talking about yesterday. That cost me $32. The review for it is coming up. It's got a nice, thick blade and the point isn't very pronounced. The blade is made of 1075 high carbon steel. It's got a pretty plain but comfortable walnut handle and it comes with a very nice leather sheath. At 10 1/2 ounces it should be a pretty good at chopping and I'm sure that it's beefy enough to handle battoning. It's got a fairly sharp, convex edge. From what I've read it's easy to sharpen. Some people want a blade that they can shave with. I have a baby face so being able to shave isn't much of a concern to me. I just want it to cut when I want to cut something. I have a feeling that it can take some punishment so I'll probably post up a few trials at some point.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What I did to prep today

I don't do these posts too often. I should probably start doing them more just to give other people ideas. I always seem to be prepping so I don't really think about it much. It's just kind of second nature. I spent a couple of hours in the garden getting caught up with weeding. Usually, I just water it and go to work. I weed on the weekends when I have more than 20 minutes to spend in there. It amazes me how much you can get for such a small amount of work out of a garden.

After spending a few hours with the baby and some time doing some researching I decided to head over to the local big box sporting goods store. I wanted a good fixed blade knife and their selection is usually pretty good and reasonably priced. When I got there they had CRKT Pike's Peak folders on sale for $15. It was a good deal so I had to grab one for the wife. My daily carry is an urban shark so it wasn't much of an upgrade for me. CRKT makes some great knives, though, so having a spare or two around isn't a bad thing. I almost picked up a 5" Condor Bushcraft knive for $32. I was impressed by the quality of the sheath, the thickness of the blade and the decent edge. I don't like buying anything that I know nothing about without doing some research, though, so I held off. After a quick Google search it looks like a solid blade so I'll be going back tomorrow morning to snatch it up. Reviews will follow.

Walking through the camping section I noticed some interesting stuff. They had some Datrex bars so I grabbed a brick of them since they always seem to be out of stock. They also had some small bags of dehydrated eggs for $3.99. On the package it says that they're the equivalent of 12 eggs. I will be doing a review on them soon. I almost bought a #10 can of dehydrated eggs just a few days ago but I opted for a can of freeze dried ground beef instead. Now I'm glad I skipped the eggs. They're not something that I'd want to buy a bunch of without giving them a try first. These packets are the perfect size for what I'd want to keep in my BOB or take with me on a camping trip. There is a scoop inside and they're resealable. As an afterthought I grabbed a couple of boxes of pistol primers.

From there I headed to the army surplus store. I was really in the mood to buy a solid fixed blade but they didn't have anything besides Kaybars and no name crap. They did have a pretty cool little low tech gadget that I almost jumped on, though. It was a block of gypsum inside of a plastic container. The idea is to fill the container with kerosene or something and let the gypsum absorb it. It becomes a firestarter that you can retrieve from your campfire after you put it out. Cool idea. Kind of bulky. It looked messy. I passed. I did grab a Lansky folding diamond sharpener, though. It's basically a two sided diamond sharpening stone that folds up like a butterfly knife. I took it home and FINALLY managed to put an edge on a really crappy beater knife that I bought a while back. I'll see how well it works on my hatchet tomorrow night. It's extremely compact and easy to use so I can see it seamlessly fitting into my bugout gear.

So what did you do to prep today?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cheese is finally done

So I finally tried the cheese that I made a couple of months ago. I wasn't sure what to expect. What I ended up with was a good, edible, mild cheese that was a bit like cheddar. I could eat it every day and I wouldn't complain about it a bit.

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As you can see it ended up with a lot of little holes in it. I'm not sure what that's from. It didn't seem to affect the flavor, though. It made it a little crumbly but it was still soft with the same texture as a jack cheese or something. I let some friends try it a couple of days ago and they all liked it. I'm not going to try again until I build a press that can handle a 5 lb block. Making 1 lb of cheese is just too much work. When I can start making 5 lbs at a time I'll likely get more into it.

I hit up an estate sale today and scored a Lyman Spartan reloading press and a GI hatchet for $30. The hatchet is replacing the Coleman hatchet that I usually take to the woods. As for the press, I've got a lot of the equipment I need for the calibers that I normally shoot. I also have a ton of brass and the Speer reloading book. I mostly just need the powder, primers and bullets. Stay tuned for some updates on my adventures in reloading.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quote of the day

"The more you read and learn, the less your adversary will know." - Sun Tzu

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Garden update

My garden is going pretty well so far. The kale from last year has taken over a corner around my container gardens. I let them grow because they're a very good green. I love them and have been eating a ton of them but they just keep growing. In hard times they'll likely be a staple. You can can them, freeze them, dry them, eat them raw or cook them. They're great in a number of dishes. I've also been harvesting turnips for a few weeks now. My beans and peas should be ready soon. My summer squash should also be ready pretty soon. The "beets" that I planted turned out to be broccoli. I've already harvested some florrettes.

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I planted some acorn squash and peppers in another patch of the yard. A bunch of purslane also went nuts so I just weeded the nasty stuff and let it do it's thing. It's a really good wild edible that tastes like spinach. The stems have a citrusy taste. I've been eating a lot of them and will be planting some in strategic places in my general vicinity.

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My potatoes are starting to look a little sad. I should probably add another tire onto the stack but I figure there's at least 40 or 50#s of potatoes in there. I'll find out once I let the vines die off and start eating them.

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The sunchokes that I didn't have much hope for are thriving now. I planted some heirloom beans around them but I don't think that they're very good companion plants. I'm not expecting much from the beans but I'll probably have plenty of sunchokes.

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My three sisters garden is doing OK. The corn is all growing nicely. A few of the squash plants were eaten up so I replanted. I'm hoping that they end up producing something before the first frost. The beans seem to be doing OK but some of the vines leaves look pretty sad. For the most part they're good. We'll see.

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I have high hopes this year. I don't have much space but I think that I'll get a lot of yield. If I had some chickens and rabbits I could probably get by without many trips to the store at all. I will be canning. Even now I probably go to the store once every few weeks and spend maybe $30 or so.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dr Seuss on government

Saw this on the web and thought I'd post it.


I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks,
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their secret deals.
I do not like this speaker Nan,
I do not like this 'YES WE CAN'.
I do not like this spending spree,
I'm smart, I know that nothing's free,
I do not like your smug replies,
when I complain about your lies.
I do not like this kind of hope.
I do not like it. nope, nope, nope!

Monday, July 12, 2010

My little baby is growing up

As I type she's on her second (ok third now) bowl (very very small bowls) of prune juice and baby food rice. She loves the stuff. Being the prepper that I am I can't let her get too big before I make sure that I have a good repertoire of great one liners for any boys that she actually convinces me are OK to bring home. So now I call out to you experienced fathers. What do you say to junior when he shows up to pick your daughter up for a date? Maybe you've been junior. Has anyone ever really freaked you out? Tips and ideas are appreciated.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Get Home Bag

I've touched on the GHB in the past but I've never really gone over what I put in mine. The idea is simple. It's just a miniature bob that's designed to get you home in the event of an emergency where you can't just drive home. It should be small, lightweight and easy to carry. Some people go so far as to carry there's everywhere so that they always have it on them. I'm rarely far enough away from my car to warrant that so mine stays in the trunk. When I go to fairs, festivals or other places where you have to park 10 miles away and deal with huge crowds of people then I take it with me. So what should you put in it?

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As you can see, I probably pack a lot more than I need. The pack only weighs 8 lbs, though, so I don't even notice the weight. If I ever need it there's a good chance that I'll be walking several miles to get home. There's a very big network of green belt trails in my city which I plan on utilizing if I happen to be in town when something happens. If I get caught outside of town then I might have to live out of it for a day or two. Here's a rundown of the contents:

The bag - It's just a generic backpack with a hydration bladder. I don't remember where I got it. I just had it and everything fit so I've stuck with it. I prefer civilian gear to paramilitary style gear.

Water - My water solution for this pack is a Platypus 1L Hoser hydration bladder and iodine tablets. I can also boil water in the pot.

Food - The cliff bars are convenient. The 1L pot has a folding handle that locks down on the lid. The altoids tin is an alcohol stove. Take the lid off and it fits neatly into the esbit stove. I keep a few esbit tabs in the stove for backup/firestarters. There's also a small bottle of everclear for the stove. Why a cooking setup but no food that needs to be cooked? For day trips I can throw in a backpacking meal or two. I can also use it to cook up some wild edibles if I get sick of Cliff bars and decide to do some foraging.

Fire - Between the strike anywhere matches, a bic lighter and a magnesium bar I should be able to get a fire going. The knife has a firesteel in the sheath, too.

First aid - My first aid kit is pretty bare bones. I've added some things since taking this pic. Basically, though, it's just medical tape, gauze, small bandages, small tweezers and moleskin. I can also use the everclear for disinfecting.

Shelter - The idea is to get home not to go play in the woods. If worse comes to worse I can use the poncho and some 550 cord to cobble something together. Throw in the emergency blanket and I should be fine... as long as it's a beautiful summer evening.

Lighting - I've got a small pen light and a xenon with a spare set of C123 batteries. I should probably throw in a headlamp. I keep one in my car, though, so if I really think I'll need it I'll have one.

Miscellaneous stuff - Duct tape, 550 cord, a cheapo fixed blade knife (a real piece of shit that I must replace soon...don't buy cheap knives unless it's a Mora), some kleenex, pencil and a small notebook (not in the picture), a small mirror, sun block, one of those compass/whistle/matchbox/signal mirror "survival tools", some body warmers and a couple of waterproof bags round out the rest of the kit.

If I get stuck on the other end of town and I have to hoof it home this should cover me. If it takes longer than expected to get home or I can't go directly there then a little ingenuity should get me by for a day or two. Besides what's in the bag I'll also have my EDC on me (Keltec P3AT, CRKT Urban Shark, Gerber Clutch, Streamlight Stylus Pro and whatever is in my wallet).

If you're looking for a "get it and forget it" premade option I'd probably go with Nitropak's executive 72-hour kit. They claim that it covers two people for 72 hours. It weighs in at 17 pounds. At first glance it seems expensive but you'd probably end up spending a lot more if you were to try to buy everything a piece at a time. Then there's the time it takes to research, decide what you want and then actually go get it. There are a few things that I'd probably replace or remove immediately but for the most part everything looks pretty solid. I'd also add a few things. They claim that there's extra space for some more stuff. There's a detailed description of the contents on their site if you follow the link above so you can decide for yourself. It's the best looking premade "survival kit" that I've seen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late

So I finally finished reading Scott William's Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late. He sent me a copy for review just a couple of days after it was released. I've been reading a couple of other books on the side so this one took me longer than it should have to get through. It's a very easy to read, concise, to the point manual that covers the who, what, when, where, why and how of bugging out. You see several other survival manuals touch on it. You read about it all the time on message boards. You see people talk about BOBs, survival caches, bug out locations, bug out routes and everything else. I haven't seen any books and very few discussions with this level of detail that concentrates solely on this aspect of survival, though.

Who: Who needs to have a serious bug out plan? Not everyone has a stocked bug out location in the boonies. He does a good job of not only convincing you that you should have a solid plan but that you can have one no matter what your circumstances are. This book concentrates more on the typical person who doesn't think that they have anywhere to go in an emergency. It also makes the people who think that they have somewhere to go think about what they'd have to do if they couldn't get there.

What: He goes into good detail on what to take. Let's be honest, though. This is the one aspect that's been covered to death all over the place. He covers what he considers the essentials and why they're essential. How do you cook? How do you purify water? What kind of gun should you take? In the appendix there's a very long, detailed list of everything that he would consider taking with him if he had to bug out. It's a very solid list with some things that I hadn't thought of or seen talked about before.

When: When should you seriously consider bugging out? If you're going to do it then be ready to do it on a moment's notice and don't hesitate or you could find yourself fighting with everyone else who's trying to get out of town themselves.

Where: Where do you go if you have nowhere to go? If you live in the US he's got you covered. He breaks down every region of the US with basic maps, different areas within each region, wild edibles and game and the kinds of things to expect in the wildernesses of each region. I didn't read this whole section since I'm not interested in some of the other regions. He has my region pegged, though, so I trust that he knows what he's talking about with the others.

Why: Why even consider bugging out? What would make you want to leave your home? Why would you even think about it if you have nowhere to go? Sometimes you won't have a choice. Other times you'll have some important choices to make and having the tools and knowledge beforehand can ensure your success if you decide that staying home isn't the best option.

How: How do you get out in the first place? He covers everything from automobiles to boats to pack animals. He also gives good suggestions on making plans, making caches and having your route planned out ahead of time among other things.

Overall, this is a very well thought out book with a ton of practical information. Whether you have a stocked and paid for BOL that no one knows about or not bugging out can be an option. If you're interested in the outdoors at all then you will be able to make use of it whether you ever have to bug out or not. To be honest you could just as easily use this as a guide on how and where to go adventuring in the US wilderness. I could see it being a good book for someone who's on the fence about getting started in preparedness. Especially if they're already into camping, hiking, kayaking, hunting, etc.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trapper family in ANWAR

Here's a cool documentary that I watched last night. Years ago this guy moved to the ANWAR with his wife to raise his family. He's one of the last people allowed to live there by the US government because he lived there before they instituted a moratorium on new people settling there. Check it out when you have time. This guy is the real deal without being your stereotypical antisocial survivalist type.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This is an interesting camping tool

A couple of months ago a new outdoors store opened up locally. It's pretty neat. They have everything from military surplus to clothing to camping gear to cattle feed. Anyway, I was poking around in the milsurp section and saw a stack of these:

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It was only $3.95 so I went ahead and picked it up. If nothing else I'll have fun beating up on it next time I take it to the woods. The concept is very cool, though. It's a small hatchet with a pry bar, a hammer and a nail puller. It only weighs about a pound and it's not very big. More than anything it struck me as a great urban emergency tool. It's small and lightweight enough that you could easily carry it in a daily carry bag or a laptop bag. It would be a great tool to have on you if you had to pry a door open or even hack through it. My biggest concern is that the steel seems pretty soft. I don't think that I'd want to stake my life on it. The thought of using the pry bar really concerns me. It would be better than having nothing, though. If someone made something similar that was properly heat treated and used good, quality steel then I'd be very inclined to take a close look at it. Does anyone know of anything? At $4 you can't go wrong. I'm not saying that it wouldn't hold up if you needed it to. I just don't think that it would hold up under real torque. I doubt that the hatchet blade will hold an edge for very long, either. It doesn't have the weight to be very effective without a sharp edge.

Quick update: After making this post I decided to test it a little by taking out a few saplings that I needed to remove from the backyard. It made short work of them.

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It's probably something that I could have done just as easily with a good fixed blade knife but it's something. The handle kept slipping off of the rest of the blade after just a swing or two. A little epoxy will fix that, though. At least a few whacks and some stripped branches didn't dull the blade. I'm still worried about the pry bar holding up if you actually use it for something serious. I'll update later when I get a chance to test it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Brewing Beer With Preps

For years I've stored grain. I've had at least a couple of bags of rice and a few bags of wheat lying around longer than I've been brewing beer. Ever since I started brewing I've been looking for ways to "cut" my beer with my preps. The big boys do it all the time and they produce drinkable beer. Purists will, of course, poo poo you all day but if you haven't figured it out by now I give a crap what the purists say. I prefer to figure it out for myself. It's amazing what I learn when I do something on my own rather than reading about the almost certain results from a book.

Anyway, I've been reading Bug Out by Scott Williams (buy this book...my review is coming soon and it will be glowing) and Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass by Randy Mosher. If you understand the basic concepts of brewing (up to the point of understanding how to brew a decent all grain beer) then you can follow Randy's book and get a lot out of it. He explains in detail several recipes and techniques that are way out of the modern day norm that he takes from old world styles and recipes.

One of those techniques is brewing with unmalted wheat. I'll just assume that if you're reading this blog that you have plenty of wheat lying around. If you don't then you need to get some. After reading Randy's description of the process I did some research online. Wheat beers used to be extremely popular. They're light, refreshing and easy to drink. Brewing with it can be quite a challenge if you're not using malted wheat, though. What brewers of old would do was use a cereal mash. I tried to do this over the weekend. My efficiency was lower than expected but it was still sufficient to make a decent beer so I went ahead and pitched my yeast (a strain that I cultured from the dregs of a bottle conditioned saison), popped on the airlock and will now forget about it for at least two weeks.

So what is a cereal mash? Start with your crushed, unmalted grain. Keep it separate from the rest of your grain bill until you're ready to mash. If you're using corn keep it at 10-20% of your total grain bill. If you're using wheat keep it under 30-40% of your total grain bill. If you're using some other off the wall grain you're just going to have to experiment till you figure out the proper ratios for yourself. Once you figure out how much unmalted grain you want to use then you can start setting up your mash.

Start with your unmalted grain. Some websites recommend adding 3 quarts of water per lb of grain. I think that 2 quarts per lb was sufficient. Mix your crushed, unmalted grain with the water in your boiling vessel and get it up to 120 degrees F. Once you get it there turn the heat off and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then do it again at 154 degrees F. After both rests are finished then bring the mash to a boil for 20 - 30 minutes. The wheat/corn/whatever will start to congeal and gelatinize. Pour it into your mash tun with the rest of your grain bill. Once you get the temperature of your grain then calculate your strike water temperature. Add the water and mash for an hour.

If all goes well then you'll end up with phenomenal efficiency. Your finished beer will be loaded with alcohol and everyone will be coming to you for your secrets. More realistically you'll end up with horrible efficiency and a beer that's much weaker than you anticipated and without much body to back it up. Next time I try a cereal mash I'll use a much higher percentage of unmalted grain.

I'm one of those weirdos that uses arcane formulas to calculate the final temperature in my outdated cooler mash tun. It does the job as long as you do your part and hit your temps. One thing to keep in mind is that if you want a stronger beer but your wort doesn't finish as high as you wanted it to you can always boil it a little longer to bring up the gravity. While brewing with preps might be a bit of a pain it can be done but you'll still need some malted barley to round it out.

This post is definitely geared more towards the experienced homebrewers. Don't let that stop you from asking any questions if you're not one, though. I've done a few posts that detail brewing from extract and all grain but if you don't do it you'll never really get it. This is one of those skills that could prove to be very very lucrative if things get really ugly. Even if the world doesn't end you can still always make good, cheap beer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Cold Steel order showed up

I decided to get in on the Cold Steel Special Projects sale. I ordered an 18" spear point machete to possibly replace the hatchet in my main BOB, 2 western hunters and 3 finn wolfs. The machete was dull. It's also well balanced with good heft, a full tang and a lanyard hole. I can't wait to test it after spending some time on it with a sharpening stone. The sheath is a little chinsy but it should hold up. The other blades were pretty sharp. They're a little thin and flimsy. From what I read I expected that from the western hunter. It's more of a multi-purpose kitchen knife. I expected the finn wolf to perform about as well as a Mora, though. As you can see from the picture it didn't.

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I couldn't wait to test the finn wolf before taking the picture. I was hoping at least some durability but the tip broke after just one or two stabs into a tree. Why was I stabbing a tree with my brand new knife? Well today I was reading Bug Out Survival (the blog not the book..same author) and Scott was talking about how pine resin has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Apparently it's pretty good at sealing and healing wounds.

Anyway, as you all probably know I followed one of Scott's tips from Bug Out Survival and got a machete that turned out to be pretty sharp. The cut is already mostly healed but I have a pine tree in my yard so I figured I'd try Scott's remedy and get some sap to apply to the cut. First I tried the Finn. As I mentioned earlier it broke after just a couple of stabs.

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I was pretty disappointed to say the least. Cold Steel has quite a reputation and the blade seemed pretty solid. Granted, it was one of their $10 blades and not one of their $300 blades. I guess I'm just one of those guys who believes that your $10 blade quality has a reflection on your $300 blade quality. Anyway, I decided to go grab my Mora. To be honest I've never really "torture tested" my Mora. I just use it for normal knife tasks. I've seen the videos of people using them as spears. I've seen people cutting trees down with them. In some circles they're the ultimate survival knife. So I ripped into the tree with mine.

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After tunneling a hole into the tree I still wasn't getting any sap. After an hour very little sap had seeped out. At least my Mora held up. It didn't have a scratch and at no point did I even worry about it. I was more intent on getting some sap so that I could make a post about how awesome natural remedies are. Alas, the sap did not come. At least I still have 2 more finn wolfs and I know not to put them through too much. I also have a Mora that I now have confidence that it can take all of the beating that the experts claim it can.

Read this article

Here's an article that you need to read. It explains a lot about human nature, world views and idealism. This flaw in the human thought process is currently one of the greatest threats to our liberties. Too many of our leaders and people in the media on both sides suffer from it.