Guerilla Survival

Guerilla Survival

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Self-Reliance - Part Two.



One of the great problems we face today is living in a 'throw-away' society based upon the insanity of a mass-production and consumption structure which produces little more than piles of rubbish awaiting their turn to move to the local tip. But it is not just the produce-and-consume society that has the most negative affects upon us all, for it is the structure itself that causes problems at the level of the human mind. 

Take for example a simple knife which is used most every day, and which goes blunt with use. How many people today see this as thus being useless and in need of replacement immediately - throw it away, in other words? This is merely one such example of thousands, and without the 'old school' idea of being thrifty ('look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves') money is 'thrown down the drain' every day of the week. This is where the use of bushcraft-survival comes into play, because in order to function this needs a very different mind-set, one in which the knife would be sharpened over and over again. We learn to 'make do' rather than go straight out and buy something new; this has two positive sides, for it means that we learn new skills in making new what would be 'rubbish', and we learn how to use money far more wisely. Our forefathers did just this, and they were certainly better off for it.

I'll give two more simple examples. Our forefathers would not throw away a pair of shoes simply because the sole or heel was worn, they would stick on a new sole or new heel. They darned socks with holes in them, and stitched up clothes that were torn, and there are untold examples of how they were far more self-reliant than most people are today. My maternal grandfather was a coach-builder who built the old wooden horse-boxes, and as a 'chippy' he could make all his own furniture, an example of which I have kept in my living room, a chair and small table that were both well over 60 years old now. 

I must admit to having bought a great deal of stuff over the years, stuff which I then found I did not need; however, in time this proved different because what I have collected I am now making use of, and thus not needing to buy these things now. The children have grown up and do not use the old stuff I bought them, so I now put these to use in my training and work. These things are now becoming useful in so many different ways. Rarely do I buy survival gear now, except if is something that is really useful and helpful - so much has been hoarded over the decades. But that is not a bad thing, and I'm glad that the stuff was not thrown away long ago.

In my own opinion there is a need for caution in all that we do in regard to bushcraft-survival, since this has already become a part of the 'produce-and-consume' society with the YouTune reviews of what we 'must have' etc. This is not actually a bad thing since with mass-production the prices lower somewhat, but there is still need for us to buy the best equipment in regard to a knife, saw and an axe, as well as a good camping equipment. Steer clear of the 'gimmicks' which are out there because you can certainly do without much of this stuff. All we need is the basics to survive on if something did happen. 



Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Self-Reliance - Part One

 


There is nothing better than going outside into the garden to collect what food is there to eat, not only natural food but also seasonal food. Since mid-April my vegetables, especially salads at first, have come from the garden, topped up by what is not ready from the local supermarket - I am nowhere near self-sufficient as yet. I have just been out to pick my dinner from the stuff that is ready, and bar for one potato I have used which came from a large bag which I get from a local supplier, everything that I have collected to make a stew came from the garden. This has been the same now for about six weeks; sometimes I use no meat at all, and what I do has come from the local butcher, locally sourced.

This year has not been great, due to the wet weather we have had over May and into July, though there have been sunny days which break this up. Due to the wet I lost a lot of lettuce, but after eating this through April and May this really did not matter too much. The mistake I made here was due to modern ways of growing, as opposed to the 'old ways'. After a few years of planting these close together I came unstuck because the whole lot rotted due to the rain. I remember reading one of William Cobbett's books where he is critical of the 'modern' farming (of his time, of course) methods of growing closer together. Maybe I should have listened to this English Radical. Anyway, using the method of growing closer together did not affect a raised bed in the back garden, maybe because different crops were grown together in one small bed. They seem to be thriving anyway, so 'old' and 'modern' could be used together.

Much of the vegetable crops of the cabbage family have done well in regard to the leaves, and these are used freely in stews and casseroles. Cauliflowers have done badly, as usual, but I have used one of the tops which was ready to bolt to seed. The small, young leaves are fine anyway, even if later they are the food of caterpillars. I'll here share with you my success and failure -

Peas - brilliant, and I have never had such great crops of peas; these are about to come to an end but I planted some more seeds in trays (these did the best) and they will go into pots this week (the pots did the best). The best seeds were unfortunately not the 'heritage' type, which were pretty poor in cropping. 

Broad Beans - crap! Only got a couple of plants worth of pods; these went rotten, maybe due to the wet weather.

Lettuce - I planted an over-winter crop of around six lettuce which seeded themselves around last September; these were ready in April and used first. The Lollo Rosso lettuce did well as well as a mixed salad variety, but these then succumbed to the wet weather and rotted. I merely took them up, put them in the compost bin, and replaced with Summer Squash.

Summer Squash - not ready as yet, and rather later than I have had before, maybe due to the wet again. Forecast is better for a while so things may well pick up.

Sweet Corn (Corn-on-the-Cob) - Have not planted these for years now but they seem to be doing well at the moment. They are just beginning to show the tops now.

Tomatoes - Those I have planted were all from seeds collected from some given by a Folk-Comrade, and also some supermarket seeds, which some say are not fertile, but which gave me 100% germination and are now flowering. We shall see what they do now. Some are in the poly-tunnel, and some outside; the ones outside are flowering first.

Swiss Chard/Spinach - Fair crop, but unlike last year when I had nice green leaves some this year have gone yellow, a problem I have had in the past. Obviously a lack of nutrients in the soil. But still usable and still growing for use. 

Cabbage - The leaves have been used for a while and I have another crop under a small poly-tunnel which has been netted. This crop have a couple going to seed already - I just let them go because the seeds will do for next year.

Onions - Last January a very early crop of onions was planted as sets in the poly-tunnel, but they have done nothing much at all. Decided to lift and store the bulbs to try for next year. Those planted outside are a little better, but still not as good as the year before last, which was a bumper crop. Spring onions did very well, unusual for me.

Carrots - Nothing last year but a few very tiny ones, this year they were planted in a raised planter and have done well. They have been picked for about 4 weeks or more now and are small but very sweet and tender. Grown with onions which seems to go well together.

Kale - Grown for the first time in a small raised bed, and seem to be doing well so far.

Beetroot - These were put in late, like the Parsnips, and they seem to be going alright so far.

Leeks - Going alright, though I shall pick them early because some may well go to seed this year.

Runner Beans - Late coming up but they are now flowering and near the top of the canes. 

Cucumber - These are in the poly-tunnel and are now flowering; last year was a very bad one for these but maybe these will be alright.

Potatoes - So far I have lifted none of these because I have a large bag from a local supplier. Plenty of green top growth but due to the wet weather there may be problems underneath - we shall see. 

Apples - Cut the trees well back last year so expect a smaller crop, but they are growing well. This will depend upon getting some warm sunny weather to sweeten them up a bit.

Strawberries - crap! Lifted them from the bed where they did nothing last year and put them in a barrel made for strawberry-growing. No luck again this year, so I'll try using new ones and a different variety. 

Cress - first crops failed, but renewed them and these are growing well. Not done these before.

Celery - did not come up, so gave up in the end. Had a good crop last year.

Radishes did well this year, or at least one crop did well and the other not. 

The aim this year is to try to overwinter some stuff, but I have had problems with germination on such things as lettuce, which have been problem-free in the past. Hoping to get seeds from the crops to grow on, which seems the best way to become 'sustainable' (*) into the future. Raven and I were talking about the idea of seed-sharing and we both remember our fathers with allotments always sharing their seeds with other growers. This needs to be revived if we are to go into the future with at least some hope. 

(*) I don't like the term 'sustainable' since it conjures up images of certain very dark figures, but it will do for now.

One last point. I let some wild plants grow around the garden, such as nettles, dandelions and daisies, and these are sometimes used for food, especially put into a good stew. Nettles make a good tea, and I have garden mint, peppermint and spear-mint which are used to make a tea, good for the digestion and stomach. Also lemon balm and comfrey, as well as thyme, rosemary, fennel, parsley, bay, and coriander. Looking to create a herb-garden next year to grow a greater variety still. 

The Rowan Tree has a large crop of berries again this year, more than last year in fact, and according to an old Scotsman I know this is a sign of a coming bad winter. The last two years have been colder and this seems to be quite true. 

As part of the Edel-Project those involved are trying to create a seed-bank where we can share seeds from our own growing. This is another stage in the process towards self-reliance. This is all part of our work to become more self-sufficient and to be able to buy less and grow more, and thus to cut out the State-System which is forever throwing blocks in the way of any form of freedom. This may not be achieved at all, but having it as a goal is enough to keep us motivated, which is the main thing to think of. 

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Woodland Base-Camp - 3

 




Another visit to the base-camp today allowed some more work on the site, though it turned out to be a wet day in the end, and I got soaked getting home, as did poor old Sam (who is not at all keen on the wet). But firstly I would like to look at the backpack again, because I have some things to say on this which I hope will help others. This is why it pays to get out and about with a rucksack.




As you can see I have made slight changes, adding another bottle-holder to the side of the pack. I thus carried three water-bottles, which makes for quite a bit of weight since these are the heaviest parts of a backpack. I bought the side-pouch (or shoulder-pouch) and a new stainless-steel bottle, since this can be used on its own, or it can be attached to the rucksack. 

Whilst going to the woodland it was noticeable that the water-bottles and cooking-pot were rather uncomfortable, being at the back of the pack, so on the way back I padded these with some of the tarp-equipment etc. This seemed to do the trick as I did not notice any discomfort on the way back. This has to be considered when backpacking or trekking, since discomfort is the last thing you would want on a long trip. This is yet another reason to get out and do this regularly, since you need to know comfortable the rucksack is in use - when packed right. This is something that many 'Bug-Out Bag' videos do not mention, but it is one of the most important things to consider. I would certainly look for a better quality rucksack in time, and one with better features since there are certain better designs than mine -

  • The back of the pack is padded, but it is not as much as I would like; it was not a dear pack, hence the short-fallings.
  • The best type of waistband is one that is wide and padded, mine is not, and this does make for less comfort.
  • I had to add shoulder-straps since the backpack did not have them, which is a must for comfort. 
However, even though I point out these drawbacks, this backpack is quite comfortable, and it does not feel that heavy, except when moving through the denser parts of the woodland which is always awkward whatever you are carrying. Enough of the rucksack.




The first thing I did was to put an extra log on each of the sides, and two logs on the rear of the shelter. This helps to protect from the elements, though this can be bettered in time. As you can see I have put the tarp up much the same way, with some minor adjustments. It is pretty taught and now easy to put up without any problems. This is the aim here, to be able to get to the site and put the tarp on straight away, thus making it easy to shelter if it rains - which it did today. 




This time I did not light the fire with cotton-wool and the ferro-rod; I lit it with a Zippo Lighter, lighting the eco fire-lighter rather than the cotton wool. Again, I do not see the point in using a ferro-rod over and over again and wearing it out when you can use a lighter and merely refill each time, and be able to get fuel as you go along. This saves on cotton-wool too, and it was a bit damp today so finding dry tinder would have been hard - and taking it with me saves time looking for tinder, which can be done at any time. 




I boiled a pot of water for a coffee, using the two metal bars used last time I went over. This is the easiest and safest way to do this, and I find also that using small twigs on the fire and a lot of flames helps speed the boiling up. 




I use a stainless-steel cup which is not blackened because It has not been used to boil the water over the flames. The lid is from the other pot set, but it fits the cup exactly. It is useful to carry such sets because if needed I could use the cup, or even one of the stainless-steel water-bottles to boil over the fire. The 'Teacher's Whisky' bottle is a miniature someone kindly gave me, and I used it in the coffee - a doctor once told my mother that whisky helps to thin the blood down, so this is, of course, for medicinal purposes only. 





One improvement that may well be made is to create a Fire-Reflector at the front of the fire, which would push the heat back into the shelter. As yet I have not come across the larger tarp that I think I kept, but when this is found the shelter will be extended over the front, making it warmer I would think. You can feel the warmer middle part of the shelter because the fire is at this point, a longer fire would warm the whole thing. 

I have cut off all of the dead lower branches of the small pine-trees so that it makes it far easier to get around the camp-area. Using a fire regularly also uses up much of the waste wood lying around, and gradually clears the area for the future. 

As I said before, this is a temporary base-camp which is being set up to make it easier to build something a bit stronger and better over a period of time. There is plenty of potential here for finding a suitable place to build another nearby, and use this whilst doing so. 

Monday, 5 April 2021

Woodland Base Camp - 2


 

Easter Monday and a bright, sunny day, even though the forecast was overcast and even perhaps some snow. I went to the woodlands to work on the Base Camp and to look around the area to see what else can be done there. 



I made the tarp tighter at the back, and due to the edges going over the poles now there is a 'dent' in the middle. In the past such a set-up can actually be useful because when it rains the water runs down the 'dent' and can be collected in a cup or container below. I made a survival-blanket 'kennel' for Sam, but he is rather a round-arse and soon got up to turn round and shed the blanket. Tried a poncho I had with me but not having used this for some time I forgot how small it is (Hobbit size) and it would not fit the shelter. 




I made a small fire-pit, some 12" diameter and 6" deep, which will make a start for a Dakota Fire-Pit if needed. This time I cut the eco fire-lighter in two, and used half the amount of cotton wool to start the fire. 



A cook-pot hung from a stick was used to boil the water for a coffee, but the above set-up was not really very steady, so I changed this afterwards. In the end I used two metal pieces to put the pot on over the fire.




The above seems to be the safest set-up here and the water boiled far quicker; the problem with the stake hung over the fire was that it needs better fixture at the back end because of the logs there, which I did not wish to move. Another idea is a tripod from which the pot hangs - a job for another time. (The metal bars were found near this site years ago.)



The area was cleared of debris scattered around, but left clear as a path around the back of the shelter. The dead wood was collected up and piled at the back so that the shelter cannot be seen so easily from the upper area, which is where the public could walk. The green tarp shows up clearly at this time of year, but the back could eventually be covered with a tarp left there and dead wood, leaves and pine-needles scattered over it.




The photo below shows some honeysuckle that grows in the area, which could be useful for vines and also some flowers are edible. 





There are fir-trees growing at the upper area which would supply green shoots for using as camo, but the area around the base-camp has little greenery so this may be used elsewhere. 







The photo below shows red markings on the fir-trees which suggests that the Forestry Commission may be looking to felling some of these soon, which may well cause a problem for a while. 




Looked at with this in mind I found an area the other side which has bluebells growing and is thus less dense; just by this is another area of small pines which could be used, and one further from the upper area.



This clear area is about 200 yards from the back of a skip-plant, but I have never seen anyone from there and the entrance is on the main road which is further away. The reason this area is not used by many is that the woodland next to it is private and fenced off, and there is no through-way. 




The above short video shows how I have tied various bits of equipment to the outside of the rucksack, which is why the molle-type is used because this is very easy to fix more stuff to. The following is in the rucksack, which also acts as my Bug-Out Bag since it is always ready for use, everything being checked and new stuff added each time I use it. I see no point whatever in keeping a Bug-Out Bag ready and never using it until the one-off which could happen. Better to use the equipment and see how it works. 

  • Vango 2-season sleeping-bag.
  • Small camo poncho.
  • A milar-backed tarp.
  • A tarp used as ground-sheet.
  • A small camo-tarp.
  • A Highlander bivvy-bag which is not breathable but can be used to stuff leaves and pine needles in to sleep on, or to keep equipment dry. I have used a small strap to take this down from 9" to 6" long.
  • Cooking Pot/cup/spoon and fork set, and Stainless Steel Cup.
  • Stainless Steel Water-Bottle/Plastic Water-Bottle.
  • Shelter-building equipment/bungees/cordage/tent pegs.
  • Emergency Camo-Blanket.
  • Fire-Lighting Equipment - lighters/ferro-rods (2), cotton wool/eco-lighters.
  • Knife/Silky Saw.
  • Pine Sticks/Fat-Wood Stick.
  • Phone-Charger/GPS/Batteries.
  • Windproof Lighter.
  • Small Maxpedition Pouch with spare GPS, electronic lighter, and another ferro-rod.
In the Leather Waistcoat (a good German make) I have a Zippo Lighter, Torch/Lamp/Signal Light/Alarm, two emergency camo-blankets, sun glasses, and video camera.

This set-up, when put together, holds enough to use for an emergency, and can be added to for a 'one-nighter' in the warmer weather, or added to for colder weather. You will notice how I have adhered to the Two-is-One:One-is-None saying which I believe originated with Ray Mears; this is that if you have two of something and lose one, you still have one, but if you have one and lose one you have none. This is especially true of fire-lighting equipment which is one of the most important things to carry at any time. You can find shelter or make shelter, but you will not find fire-lighting equipment easily. Water you may find but it may need boiling. I do have a number of tarps so this would not be a problem, and these can be used as 'blankets' too, and the bivvy-bag, though not breathable, can still be used as a blanket. 

The camo survival blankets are very neatly packet and go into the jacket pocket, but after use they will never go back that way. I have one stuffed into a small bag and this seems to be alright and has been used a number of times now. The one problem I find with Zippo Lighters is that they go dry very quickly, but I have since found that they do a very small key-chain fuel container which I may invest in soon. They are a good lighter but every one that I have had (all given to me) has the same problem - going dry very quickly. 

This molle-backpack is a medium size and it has areas where it can be added to, which may well be the best way to go about using a Bug-Out Bag. This is used as a 'Day-Sack' here but, as I said, it can be useful for a 'one-nighter' in the warmer months, and bits can be added to it for use in colder weather. It was not a dear one so I may in time get a better one, maybe a bit bigger and able to carry a bit more. The weight is not too heavy for me; I am 74 years old now and it seems light when travelling to the site, but gets a bit more cumbersome over the rough woodland areas. It does not have a very side belt, something which would be improved were this wider and padded, and I had to add the chest-straps myself which is not unusual in these. It is certainly very easy to use, but some improvements would make it easier. 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Spring Growing


 

Survival is just as much about how to survive in a future where the powers in control have total control over everything we need for that survival. In such a future time - not so far off by the look of it - we will need to be able to grow our own food for the use of the individual, family or group. Of course, an idea was brought before the EU to try to stop the individual growing food, but was thrown out. However, what seems totally insane today becomes reality tomorrow. Whatever happens, learning to become self-reliant through food-growing will never be a waste of time, because no matter what happens this can be done through Guerilla Gardening using land which is not used and which is out of the way enough not to be noticed easily. We should think of the worst that can happen and plan for this, if it does not happen that way we shall not have wasted our time.




Seed trays with small 'plug' compartments are useful for growing at the earliest stage, and this can be done in February-March-April. I started early with some of mine, even as early as late January, and using the poly-tunnel has been a boon for this year. The seed-tray above was planted later and the seedlings are just coming through.




Onion sets were planted in the poly-tunnel in early February and this is how they are now; this has put them well ahead, though this could mean some going to seed. Red Onions, I am told, can do this, and some I planted are Red Onions, so we shall see. This is the advantage of having many options as to the use of covers such as a greenhouse, poly-tunnel, cloches, or mini-greenhouses, all of which will produce food much earlier. These are used to create a longer growing season, the object of trying to become more self-sufficient.




These are peas grown in a pot, using small sticks which they will climb up; the peas I used were dried peas from a supermarket, much cheaper than the packets from seed-suppliers. These are the first sown and I have a lot more in seed-trays and pots, some using Lord Leicester variety which is an old heritage seed, but which last year did not do too well. I think this was because of the location I set up the pea-canes, but I had enough seeds to save for this year to try again. I have also sown peas in an old piece of guttering with the ends shut off: this is then easily tipped out sideways to form a pea-row. Another experiment.



The raised bed in the front garden has been planted with spring onions and different varieties of lettuce. I intended to do a Welsh form of planting spring onions, where a greater number of seeds are planted together in a pot and then transplanted into place, producing a cluster of plants close together. The tops can be harvested this way. But I forgot this and will try a second crop later; spring onions have never done well for me I am afraid, and rarely do I get any decent ones. Last year I cut the tops off regularly and they grow again, and this way seems to work better for me. 




I have a tub of peppermint in the front garden, and a tub of spearmint in the back garden, and these get rather tangled and 'leggy' each year. Now I get the roots up and break them into small pieces, thus being able to produce a number of pots of new plants each year. 




These lettuce grew from the seeds produced by last year's crops, and I transplanted them into the poly-tunnel; they have grown bigger now and will soon be ready to harvest. This will be much earlier than the seeds sown in this spring, thus again lengthening the growing season, which is the aim for this year. It seems best to give yourself some kind of goal to achieve each year, trying evermore to grow more and lengthen the season's growing.




This is yet another experiment I have done this year; when cutting off the top and bottom of an onion to use in cooking, don't throw away the pieces. Keep the rooted part and plant it in some compost. This is growing now, and may produce an onion, but if not the tops can be used. First try this so I am not sure what happens. 



 

The above shows seed-trays with more dried peas growing, and I have done quite a lot of these. Peas need only some type of twigs (better than canes) which they can wrap around to grow upwards. They use a lot of nitrogen though and need feeding; dig the roots into the ground (like runner beans) to get the nitrogen back into the soil. 




This is the strawberry-barrel which is coming on well this year, after being put into the poly-tunnel for a month or so at the end of the winter. These have never done well in a barrel, but this year I shall try to give more attention and feeding. I have a strawberry bed in the front garden but I am considering the future of this since these did badly last year too. They are well behind those in the barrel, and nowhere near as healthy-looking. Maybe the bed could be put to better use. This is something to consider when having to grow in small areas, since something that is not worth growing is merely taking space for another thing that is. 




I have put up sticks for growing runner beans, but these have to be started later because they are not frost-hardy. They like a little shade and cool rather than too hot, and need lots of watering. I have different types in different areas, but set up sticks and canes early so as to be well ahead this year. 




I have a platner which my mum had when she was alive, and this is filled with strawberries and is here placed in the strawberry bed, which I have made smaller this year after some losses. This planter has also never done well, so need to rethink the strawberry growing. The large pot has lettuce in it.




An area in the corner next to a shed is where I intend to grow Lord Leicester pease this year, so I have set up canes and poles and have put seeds behind these. Next to these will grow Polestar runner-beans, but we can have frosts until, mid-May so cannot plant now. A few leeks are growing from last year, and I'll leave these where they are - no need to be too neat and tidy with growing, a bit of Chaos never hurts.




A small gooseberry bush grows in a pot for now; some of my fruit bushes and fruit trees went over to the woodlands where they grow now. This may well join them later, but for now it can grow on here. 




Lastly, as an experiment this year I am going to try to grow Whippets; as you can see here I have planted one in a small raised bed next to the pea-canes. If this works we'll have hunting-dogs for the future - until they ban hunting altogether, of course. 




From the world-situation and how things are panning out we shall see catastrophic change and social upheaval, and maybe even some sort of breakdown of society, just as long predicted. Whatever the case, Covid-1984 has shown how we need to forge ahead with the drive for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, and growing our own food goes some way towards our aims. 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Woodland Base Camp - Improvements


 

This is the Base-Camp as it was before the improvements; it took part of a day to get the set-up right using dead wood from the area.




What I have done is to set the milar-backed tarp up using tarp-clips in the centre, bungee-balls at the ends (don't know what these are really called), and tying the back down from the tarp-grommets. This makes it far more taught and a much better set-up. I cut the rotten bits from the ends of the fence-stakes and made the seat to the left better and sturdier, though the logs are rather rotten too and really need replacing. The longer fence-stake is not rotten so I used at on its own as a seat to the right. 




The right-hand side has been filled with large logs, held by two uprights knocked into the ground with a wooden baton. The other side I used smaller logs, and most of this was done with a dead pine-tree which I felled and cut into pieces, using only a Silky Pocket Boy which did the job well. 




Filling in the sides helps to stop some of the cross-winds, and the structure itself will be left there as it is, just the tarp removed and taken home each time. The shelter itself is sound but the logs do need filling in between the cracks at some time in the future, and maybe adding more logs to this at some stage. It is actually wise to leave the sides lower because if the wind blows smoke into the shelter this escapes through the sides. 




To ensure a quick start to a fire to get a brew on I used a bit of cotton-wool and an eco fire-lighter which works very well. I dug a small pit this time with a sharp stick so as to be able to fill it over and quell the fire since it has been dry most of the week. The eco fire-lighters were given to me by Hamasson, and they can be found in some stores; they work very well so carrying a few with you is something to consider. Of course, to make what you have last longer it would be fine to cut one in half and use one half at a time, especially in fine weather conditions. Just thought of that but it would have been an idea doing this fire since everything was really dry. Also goes for the cotton wool, which I have probably used too much of here. This is something to think of for the time when you have only a limited stock of anything. 




A pot filled with water was used to boil water for a cup of coffee, using a stick on a Y-shaped stick, just with a notch cut in the end to hold the pot. I also cleared the area around the camp so as to minimise the chance of fire, since the weather is now getting much dryer and sometimes warmer - though it was quite cold today. One thing to mention here; the cooking-pot gets very sooty in use, so I clean it with washing-up liquid and water using a scourer, but not taking all of the soot of in doing so. This builds up and the black finish helps to heat the contents quicker, according to science anyway. 




This is the back of the shelter which could be pulled tighter on the right side, but the post is in the way at the moment. I have left these higher because it may be wise to add another log or two on the top of these, and thus cutting the tops off is not really needed. I have cleared the area around the Base-Camp, and the aim is now to arrange the fallen wood (which there is loads) around the outside leaving only one entrance to the site. This I intend to do next time, at the same time cutting up more fire-wood from what is around. This will make the Base-Camp quite secure with only one entrance to the site, and anyone trying to get in would make a noise trying to get through the fallen branches. 

NOTE - On the subject of securing a site, one way to do this is to use a length of cordage threaded through a number of food-tins (drill small holes around the top) which hang from the thread. Put about five or six small pebbles in each tin, and if anyone tries to get into the camp at night they will trip the cordage and the tins will rattle as they do so, hopefully waking you up. Not high-tech but this is very effective. A more high-tech way would be to use trip-wire and a blank cartridge, but this (as we found once at Wayland's Smithy) tends to attract the police. Another option, which can be used with the tins & stones, is to use a solar-powered PIR lamp which lights up when any movement takes place. This lights up the whole area so that anyone coming in can be seen. I have done this when camping out on my own, but animals can set this off too. 




As you can see here the inside-perimeter is quite secure, especially in the dark when it will most likely be needed. The front end has a couple of logs thrown down, but this is only for now, until such time as I can build a fire-reflector across, leaving a small gap to get into the base. 

The aim is to get the whole thing set up ready for some one-nighters over the spring-summer months. The area has a great deal of fallen dead pine-wood which, as I said, will be used to create a barrier around the base, and for stocking up fire-wood for future use. There is more to do yet, including trying to fill the gaps in the logs at the back and sides; the aim is to make it as comfortable as possible because I intend to use only a small rucksack and light sleeping equipment to see how this works in the warmer time of the year. This can then be extended into the autumn and winter months. 




The fire is quite a bit away from the tarp because I have a 3m x 2m tarp which would most likely fit this shelter and would thus have a hang-over at the front and go right down the back. I would still use the milar-backed 2m x 2m tarp because it would act as an insulation-layer and reflect the heat from the fire into the shelter. If I remember right this tarp is an old one so it could even be left on the site, especially if I can use some of the fallen wood as camo around the back. We shall see. Using a larger tarp would certainly be a must for the colder time of the year, since a hang-over at the front keeps the rain off far better than this set-up. The usual wind-direction is from the back and right-side anyway, but there may be times when the wind comes in from the front. 




I tried one of these camo-milar emergency blankets whilst the weather was rather chilly and this seemed to be quite warm in the circumstances. I have yet to try this out as an 'emergency shelter' but will do so in time. I do have an emergency bivvy-bag which is a closed version of the blanket, and have put this with an old silk sleeping-bag liner which is small enough to pack into a rucksack or bum-bag, and the silk liner helps to keep it warm (I feel that the milar-blankets would get rather colder in use due to not being breathable against the body, so a liner would solve this - in theory now anyway.) 




The Silky Pocket Boy saw is very small but it is an exceptionally good tool and today cut through some logs over 4" thick. It cuts on the pull-stroke and the design makes it so easy to get through. I have about 4 Bahco Folding-Saws which are slightly larger, and are very good too, but carry the Silky now because it is so small and compact. It has a very good locking system too, which makes it very safe to handle and use, and there are larger versions for cutting larger logs. 

Of course, one improvement that could be made to such a shelter is to double the layers of the logs at the back and sides, filling the gap between layers with dead pine-needles and twigs. This would create a layer of insulation for the back and sides, making the shelter warmer in the winter. 




What I have used as a ground-sheet here is an old Highlander Bivvy-Bag bought years ago; this proved totally useless since it is not breathable and in use you get soaked in sweat. Rather than throw it away I kept it luckily, and it packs small enough to carry in a large day-sack and can be used as a ground-sheet or even for putting clothes in to keep dry - never throw old stuff away! It could even be filled with dead leaves or pine needles and used for insulation under a sleeping-bag. This is also true of large bin-liners which can be filled with leaves and /or pine needles and used as insulation for sleeping on. 

I have still to explore this area fully, and have found only a couple of footprints a bit further up from the base, so it is still not used by many people today. There would be enough dead stuff around to camo behind the shelter later, but it is very hard to see from the area of the footprints anyway. 

The advantage of having a tarp left on such shelters is that the area inside the shelter is kept dry, and thus dry dead wood can be stored under the tarp for use each time you go to the base. This is how Wulfgar and I set up the earlier lean-to shelter in a different part of the woodlands, and this stayed completely dry through the years that the shelter remained there. You can thus also use a couple of bin-bags filled with leaves/pine needles left on the site and kept dry by the tarp left on. These can be use to sit on, rest on, or for use for a one-nighter now and again. 

Sleeping in a lean-to shelter can be very cold in below-freezing temperatures, hence the use of the Long-Fire. Wulfson and I once did this in another area of these woodlands and the temperature went down to well below zero that night - the frost was thick on the ground even inside the canopy of the woodland. We had to get up a couple of times during the night to cut wood since the fire went out - a lesson to make sure that before you get to sleep to stock up enough wood for the whole night, or make a Long-Fire using a couple of very thick logs. We had good sleeping-bags and kit but that night was bloody cold! 




Base-Camp Video


Water-Purification (Boiling) -

Boiling water is the safest and most effective way to purify it; chemicals can be used where boiling is not an option. Firstly, sieve out all dirt etc using a Milbank Bag, then rolling boil the water for at least one minute - I do this for two minutes to be safe, and longer if the water looks 'iffy'. Below is a very short video showing a 'rolling boil' -




Saturday, 27 March 2021

Mind-Set of Survival.


I have said before that what we are really doing is Wild Camping and not what most people would call 'survivalism'. I have taken 'survival courses' which teach in the main how to survive in a dangerous situation in which you are hoping to be rescued as soon as possible. This means making yourself as conspicuous as possible, so that you can be easily seen and rescued. But there is also the other scenario, where you may well not wish to be seen at all, and in such a situation the practice of Wild Camping would thus be useful in what would be a survival situation. The term 'survive' means merely 'to live beyond' or just 'to live', and thus this can be used for any dangerous situation that the individual is faced with. 

I think the main point, often missed, is that what is necessary in any survival situation is one's mental attitude. Where one person will survive a situation through pure will-power and inner strength another will die in the same situation. This has been recorded so many times but is not something that is always mentioned in regard to survivalism. Unfortunately we can see the problem arising around us today, where the survival of our people is threatened, and where the vast majority of these people are either totally oblivious of what is happening, are too scared to do anything about it, do not care at all (or more likely are too scared to face such a situation and thus block off altogether) or in some cases (unfortunately) are aiding and abetting the forces of destruction. There is a good section of the people who are self-destructive and who are trying to bring down everyone around them. This we have to now look to in regard not to the whole but to each individual, and thus learn something about the mind-set needed for survival. We may not actually be in an individual survival situation but we are most certainly in a group survival situation

Whether we call this wild camping, bushcraft, wilderness craft, or survival really does not matter since the core principles are used in whatever we do in regard to any of these -

  • To be able to build a shelter from natural materials around us at the time.
  • To be able to light a fire to keep warm and to cook on.
  • To be able to find water for drinking and for washing. 
  • To be able to find food from the wild.
Given that these four things are the most important we would be able to live for a short time, and thus give time to -

  • Build a larger and better shelter and to create some form of bedding that will give a comfortable night's sleep. 
  • Find suitable utensils for cooking and boiling water.
  • Find suitable containers to store water and to boil water for drinking. 
  • Stock up a store of food for a period of time. 

Now comes into play what I was saying in the last post, and that is that having an already-packed rucksack would be the best way to prepare since -

  • It would negate the need to build a simple temporary shelter since a tarp/poncho/basha would serve as a simple shelter, and this can be built upon to make a larger and better shelter. 
  • A fire-starting kit would ensure that this part is made much easier than having to make up a bow-drill and find the dry wood for a 'tinder-bundle'. This would be carried with you to make the first few fires, thus using the time to prepare for future fire-lighting needs. 
  • Having a little water with you would be most useful in that this leaves out the part of finding water, straining and boiling which would need to be done straight away. 
  • Carrying a little food would give some sustenance straight away, without the need to forage for wild food.

I believe that this is an important point since in a situation where the individual is forced to move out of the 'comfort-zone' then making a smooth transition from one situation to another would be a far better way to go about it. This, of course, is not always possible, in which case the first set of 'core principles' would apply, and thus the need to be able to do these things is vitally important. 

Last year I did some wild camping alone in a woodland in Sussex, staying over for a full week of fairly good weather. This was in the spring so not too cold, but at night the temperature drops somewhat. At the end of it I was not really ready to get back home again, since it was an enjoyable experience and I learned quite a few things from it. But the one thing that stuck in my mind throughout the time spent outdoors (and which I often think about) is what would I have done had the weather been like our very wet autumns when a week spent in the pouring rain would certainly have not been so pleasant. We have had times when it has rained for weeks on end with only a few breaks in between the wet weather, and here we are rather worse off than areas of heavy snow which is not quite so bad as endless rain. This is compounded by high winds and the wind-chill factor that sends temperatures down. 

Thinking on this one the necessity to be able to have some form of more permanent shelter is rather obvious, since one of the factors that would decide on our mental attitude would be how we cope with this type of situation. None of us wakes up to a sunny morning (even with a cold frost) without feeling that life is good; this does not apply to a cold, wet, gloomy day, especially if this is day after day for a while. Thus, one of the most important things to consider here is the need to have a kind of set plan to work with, and when the situation arises ensure that every moment is spent doing something positive and useful to the situation we find ourselves in. When the body and mind is not busy it gives time to think, and in such a situation where things have gone 'tits-up' this is not something we would need. 

Last Midwinter we held a meet-up and I slept rough in the area the night before, to save the journey the next day. Going over in the morning it rained almost all day and all night without a break, so it meant being inside the shelter for most of the time with a fire lit outside the shelter for warmth. This was quite uncomfortable, so project this to a week, a fortnight, a month....and this would be perhaps the scenario we have to prepare for. In regard to this I would thus suggest some extra stuff that would be handy to keep ready for an emergency -

  • I use a small poncho or tarp for training purposes, but have a basha that is of better quality and which would make a better shelter. But if the chance arose I would take with me a 3m x 3m (10' x 10' approx) DD Tarp or one of such quality, or if this is not possible a cheaper tarp of the same size or larger. This larger tarp would cover a wider area to sit under, to store wood under, to cook under (being very careful to ensure the tarp is high and the fire small), and to do some crafting where necessary.
  • When going for a few days I take with me a 25ltr water-container, or two if going longer. In the situation where this would be long-term you have a couple of ready containers that you can fill with rainwater (which is where the rain does come in handy). 
  • Have some tinder, kindling and small logs ready to go in your car/truck, and thus save time when your destination is reached.

It seems obvious but there is the necessity to use what dry weather there is to collect tinder, kindling and cut up logs. For longer term purposes a bow-saw can be carried, and if space is the problem (which it should not be) then just the blade can be packed, making a 'bow' on site. Here an axe is also needed, the minimum being a 'Forest Axe', and maybe a couple of wedges to break larger wood (or these can be made up on site). When you buy wood it is chopped from large pieces, and not left round; this burns better than round wood because it has edges that catch fire much quicker. This is why wood left round does not always burn right through. Smaller pieces burn faster, so keep this in mind because chopping into small pieces is necessary, especially in wet weather, to keep the fire going at the start. This is why I suggest taking some tinder, kindling and a few cut-logs with you in a vehicle; makes easier starting in cold wet weather. 

Whether you have the knowledge of bushcraft, survivalism, wilderness crafts, or wild camping you are training yourself in becoming self-reliant and self-sufficient, and thus breaking free of the shackles of modern society where the mass of people rely wholly upon the State (and we could say the 'corporations', but need not do so since they now seem to have taken control of the state). Many of those who are doing this are the last vestiges of the creative individuals whose work opposes the mass-production of the produce-and-consume society. In their own way they are becoming craftsmen and women in the field that they do. This in itself means having an entirely different mind-set than the masses whose lives today revolve around rampant technology and the latest 'techno-gadgets'. Here we need to ensure that we do not fall into this trap and feel the need to buy every new 'gadget' or 'survival tool' that comes onto the market.