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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


It's Tuesday, so let's talk about some specifics of what to add to your supplies this week.

For your 72-hour kit, get a battery-powered (or solar) radio. It's so important in an emergency to know what's happening outside your home. I got a great solar powered radio for Christmas that was also a flashlight, a siren, and had a cell phone charger and a USB port. You don't need something that fancy, but we will seriously love having it in an emergency. Radios like this can be pricy - you may pay anywhere from $20-30 (more, for additional features). Long term, however, it's a great investment.

Because the radios cost so much, it's ok to buy less for your 3-month supply, if you need to. Just stay within your budget - add a tube of toothpaste, or some soap. It doesn't have to be much, just something.

We are gathering wheat this month for our longer-term storage. Buy what you can! For more information about wheat, check out our article here.

Original: http://safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/2009/01/tuesday.html

It's Tuesday - let's get prepared!

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your 72-hour kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the 72-hour kit is complete (in just a few weeks!), we'll be putting together emergency car kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the 72-hour kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your 72-hour kits, add some mosquito repellent (spray or lotion). Also add any pet supplies you would need for 72 hours. Don't forget food, water, and any medication that your pets may require.

Hopefully you've been gathering lots of non-perishable foods for your 3-month supply. We really hope you are in the habit of picking up at least 1 or 2 cans of food storage with every trip to the grocery store. This is so much easier if you have a plan! Click here to read our previous post on how to plan your 3-month supply. However, this week, check out your cleaning supplies. Do you have enough to get you through 3 months of cleaning your home? Dish detergent? Laundry soup? Remember, the goal is to be able to live for 3 months without ever needing to go to the store-for anything! And don't forget, it's always better to be over prepared rather than under prepared.

This month for our longer-term storage, we are gathering wheat. Buy what you can! Do you have questions about wheat? Find the answers in our previous article here. Hopefully you are also starting to incorporate wheat into your diets. This way, if you ever do have to live off your food storage, your family will be used to the food, and you will know what they enjoy. To see our wheat recipes (so far!), click here. Check back often because we are always adding new recipes!

We have a great week ahead! Tomorrow Abbie will be writing a "How to" article which is also a delicious recipe. On Thursday, we have a special guest post written for us by my sister-in-law who lives in New Hampshire and was without power for a week during the ice storm in December. She wrote an article about what she wishes she would have known and how she should have prepared! GREAT advice for everyone to read! And, Friday of course is another great food storage recipe using non-perishables only. See you back here tomorrow!

Original: http://safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/2009/01/its-tuesday-lets-get-prepared.html

Small steps to Emergency Preparedness

While getting prepared for emergencies can be a big task, there are small, easy things you can do every day that can make an emergency seem a bit easier to deal with.

Gas up. Try not to let your car get below half a tank of gas. If an emergency came up and you had to get out of town quickly, filling your car up with gas might be the last thing on your mind. This is especially true if everyone is trying to leave down (natural disaster, etc). You don't want to be one of the people who has to wait in line for 3 hours just to fill up your car.

This came in really handy for me a few months ago. For about 2 weeks after Hurricane Ike, it was rare for a gas station to be open, and when it was, you waited in line for at least an hour to fill up (and paid over $4 a gallon). Thankfully, I had filled up my car right before the hurricane so I was ok, but I had to scale down my trips out of the house, and we only went places we had to go. It was disheartening to drive by dozens of gas stations and see "No gas" signs everywhere. Thankfully, though, we never fully ran out of gas.

Dress according to the weather. This may seem like a no-brainer for most people, but it's actually something I struggle with sometimes! Especially when I was a teenager, I never wanted to wear a big coat to school in the winter, and since I was going to be inside all day I figured it didn't matter.

My parents, however, were adamant that we dress according to the weather. If my car was to break down (a good possibility, seeing as how I was driving a 20-year-old car), I would heavily rely on my warm clothes to keep me safe, and maybe to keep me alive. We had a bin in our mud room full of hats, mittens, and scarves - making it easy for us to be prepared if something were to happen on the road.

Have proper alarms. Obviously, everyone should have a working fire alarm in their homes, but do you have a carbon monoxide detector?

I'm a semi-paranoid person by nature, and it's kind of startling as I think about how much money I fork out for "peace of mind". When I bought a carbon monoxide detector a few months ago, I even splurged and spent $10 extra just for a special feature that shows us the actual amount of carbon monoxide in the air (total cost: $30). I wanted to know at all times!

Last week, however, around 3 o'clock in the morning, the alarm started going off. We noticed that the number on the alarm had gone from its normally constant "0" to over 100. Thankfully we weren't feeling any symptoms (yet), but we threw open the windows and turned on all the fans in the house (thankfully the weather was mild). Slowly, then numbers on the alarm crept down and eventually stopped at 12 (anything under 30 is ok, we learned online).

After a few hours, we were finally able to fall back asleep, confident that our alarm actually worked and that opening the windows had temporarily solved the problem. The next day we called the gas company and they came to our house in less than an hour (and free of charge, on a Sunday!) to check things out. We later learned that they do emergency house calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Good to know, in case this ever happens again!

The point is, if we hadn't had a carbon monoxide detector, I'd hate to think what might have happened. Additionally, if our detector hadn't shown us the amount of carbon monoxide in the air, we probably would have needed to leave and possibly spend the rest of the night in a hotel (which definitely would have cost more than the extra $10 I paid for that feature).

Have a no-electricity day. After reading Shauna's guest post last week about the ice storm, it really made me wonder how I would do without electricity for a day. The first thing I thought of is that I would be bored (no computer! no sewing machine! no tv!), and then secondly I wondered what (and how) we would eat. We don't have a generator, so my choices with that are limited. I suppose we would just eat out of the pantry - crackers, peanut butter sandwiches, etc.

Consider spending one day in your home (or at least a few hours) without electricity. What are you going to eat? What are you going to do all day? What will your kids do? Do you have enough flashlights for everyone? How will you stay warm? I know this exercise might not sound like much fun, but it's certainly better to do it now - on your own terms - than it would be otherwise. Obviously, you will not be able to go completely without electricity (Shauna said her toilets didn't flush - we're not asking you to go that far!), but at least consider those extra things that you will be without. Hearing that made me realize that we need to get a few 5-gallon buckets for hauling water, if needs be!

Are there any other small things you do to help you stay prepared for emergencies?

Original: http://safelygatheredin.blogspot.com/2009/01/small-steps-to-emergency-preparedness.html

How to Approach Shooting

I am a basic Marine who has been blessed with learning marksmanship from some of the best practitioners in the business of shooting. No, I am not a sniper or a silent but deadly snake eater from a recon unit who is speaking from high atop a lofty pillar to the masses. Simply, I am a regular guy (with very little prior experience) who is well trained in the art of marksmanship who feels comfortable with a gun in his hand. Furthermore, I simply enjoy shooting and am fortunate enough to be able to do it as part of my working life. Like everyone else who reads this web site, the present and future state of our society concerns me. As a result, I vowed that I would contribute something to this that might help people with similar views/concerns.

While at a gun show recently, I was personally overwhelmed by the volume and cost of the high tech firearms and accessories available to the public. Most of it was truly amazing stuff. Laser range finders, laser sights, holographic sights, night vision scopes and ultra bright lights name just a few of the accessories that one can attach to a weapon to become more lethal. However, this stuff was amazingly expensive and complicated to use. I also found that many of the vendors really didn’t know their own products. Unfortunately, many were there only to make a buck and take advantage of the new hot gun market that has been created by the recent election results. This bothered me because I wondered what a novice shooter would think while swimming around in this sea of cool, yet complex stuff? They would most likely believe that one must attach all kinds of expensive accessories to a gun in order to be proficient with a weapon. They would also think that they have to spend all of their savings (assuming they have savings) to upgrade their guns to achieve great results. While I cannot endorse the quality and effectiveness of any type of accessory for a gun, I can tell you that they have a place and they are amazingly lethal when put in the right hands. Moreover, I also cannot endorse any type of weapon. Yet, I can also tell you that the accessories and the guns are only as good as the person shooting them. In other words, technology can neither teach marksmanship nor can it cure poor marksmanship. Remember, the United States military killed lots of enemy with M1 Garands and Model 1911 pistols equipped with iron sights. You need to learn the fundamentals…basics will always pay huge dividends. My goal is to throw out some of my thoughts to give beginning shooters reading this web site an idea of what direction to go in order to learn to shoot:

1. Take a class. Go to an indoor range and take a class from a certified NRA instructor. Pull out an advertisement in the classifieds or put a flyer up at a local range seeking marksmanship instruction from someone in law enforcement or the military. We are out there in large numbers. I would teach someone in exchange for a burger on a free Saturday. If you find the right person, it shouldn’t cost you too much. Here are some of the things to look for when you are receiving instruction (these can apply to rifle and pistol and are in no particular order except safety): safety, trigger control, grip, stances/positions, sight alignment, sight picture and breathing…just to name a few. There are no secrets, only basic techniques. Demand the basics. If someone wants to come right out of the chute and start teaching advanced techniques, either force them to take a few steps back or get another instructor. Basics, Basics, Basics.

2. Start small. Every learning process starts off with one small step and should progress toward refinement as a student masters the fundamentals. Go buy or rent a .22 pistol, get some cheap rounds and let someone show you the proper way to shoot it. Once you have a small caliber weapon mastered at a very low price, you will truly be amazed at how easily you can cross apply those skills to a more powerful weapon. On many civilian ranges I have observed multitudes of clowns brandishing large caliber weapons, shooting expensive tactical/competition ammo and deploying zero common sense. Due to their abject ignorance, they can’t put a round on paper because they are too concerned about the sexiness of the gun that they are shooting. Meanwhile, two lanes down, I am getting a 14 year old first time shooter to hold a 4 inch group with 9mm reloads. Starting with a .44 Magnum or a Desert Eagle will not teach you anything but how to fail or how to get killed. Shooting is not sexy and it is not a fashion statement. It is designed for one thing…to kill. Start at the bottom and work up. It is worth it in the end.

3. Dry Fire/Snap In: Snapping in (practicing without rounds off of the range) is something that Marines do at boot camp for countless hours before stepping foot on a live fire range. This process also continues in the squad bays at night to help young recruits refine positions and work out the kinks. Ask anyone who is a really good shot. They will tell you that you can improve your shooting for free without expending a single round by dry firing and snapping in. There are many different exercises you can do to enhance this. Shooters place quarters or spent rounds on top of the pistol and see if they can dry fire the weapon without said item falling off. It enhances your trigger control and your confidence. Bottom line, it gets the weapon in your hand and allows you to practice and commit proper technique to muscle memory without leaving the house. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WEAPON TO ENSURE THAT IT IS NOT LOADED PRIOR TO HANDLING IT! READ THAT AGAIN.

4. Get further training: Once you feel confident and you have some cash, enlist the help of one of the tactical shooting schools to hone your skills. Again, just like transferring basic shooting skills from a .22 to a .45, you will be amazed at how smoothly good fundamentals apply to solid tactical shooting. There are arguments on both sides of this, but I will tell you that building a solid foundation is not only critical, but it is easy and can be done at a reasonable price. Don’t fall victim to believing that you have to spend substantial amounts of money to become a great shooter.

As a public service, I would like to include the four safety rules that are pounded into the heads of recruits. I do not bleed green and do not put these in this article to somehow snub people from the other services. These are the only rules that I know. I have taught them to novice shooters in the civilian world, and I can attest to how well they work. If everyone internalized these and followed them, we would not have accidents with weapons. They are brilliant in their simplicity. I wish that we still worked on a level that was this cut and dry. Here they are:
1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
2. Never point a weapon at anything that you do not intend to shoot.
3. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
4. Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire.
Read them and teach them!

I cannot possibly hope to teach anyone how to shoot in an article. I simply believe that there is a lot of confusion out there for those who want to arm themselves against some of the dangers that lurk in our society. For them, I hope that this little compilation helps dispel some myths and provides a useful roadmap to get started. Thanks for reading.

Original: http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/01/how_to_approach_shooting_by_mj.html

Growing The "Three Sisters": Corn, Squash, Beans

Have you heard about the "Three Sisters" method of planting corn, beans and squash?

From ( http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html ): The Iroquois believe corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sisters spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or “Our Sustainers". The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honor them, and a festival commemorates the first harvest of “green” corn on the cob.
Native American People used corn as the staple in their diet. Parched corn plus prevented starvation for many days. Corn was boiled, roasted and also ground and used as flour for many dishes. Corn was easy to store by braiding the leaves and hanging upside down from rafters. Husks for used as dolls, masks and mats. Corn stalks could be used as fuel. Keep a watch on the corn, and soon after you see the silks and pollen (which gets everywhere!), watch for the cobs. After a while you'll get the hang of seeing the brown silk tassles, and the feel of the cobs, you'll know when to harvest.

Pumpkins (or other winter squash) provide the ground cover. The pumpkins from even a couple of centuries ago weren't our jack-o-lantern but more of a crookneck. Pumpkins could be stewed or dried to use during the coming winter. Not sure if the seeds were roasted, or just kept for planting the next year.

Fresh young beans were cooked in stews, while the dried beans provided meals later - rehydrated for soups and stews, or ground into flour. Great source of protein when meat was scarced. The vines were braided together and also hung from the rafters. Pole beans, chosen appropriately, will use the corn stalks as a trellis without strangling the stalk. Planting the corn with plenty of room in between will help you find the beans. Once they start flowers, keep careful watch. They will quickly become edible size and ready for eating as cooked "green beans". If you plan to dry the beans, leave them alone until harvesting the corn, to dry on the vine. Still, keep a watch on them so that predators don't steal them or they don't split once they've dried.

Sunflowers have recently been found to do excellently in this arena. They break down the earth with their strong roots, and stretch out to provide a living trellis for the beans. The sunflowers are harvested when the back of the heads turn brown and bend from the weight of the seeds. Cut the stalk near the ground, hang upside down, with paper bags around the head to catch the seeds as they dry. Good for snacks, but also good for grinding into flour, and making sunflower seed oil.

Why companions? The squash/pumpkin provides ground cover to keep moisture in, and the prickles of the leaves and vines prevent predators (like raccoons) from getting to the corn. The corn provides stalks for the beans to climb. The beans fix nitrogen into the soil, which the corn needs. Together, this is companion planting at it's best. PLUS, when you mix corn, squash and beans in your diet, they make a complete protein. Also called succotash, which we don't like, but we do make our own various recipes even tastier!

Picture: Our Three Sisters
Corn-Patch on August 20 2008

As novice gardeners, we tried the "Three Sisters" in Summer 2008. This year we planted "Early and Often Sweet Corn", several different kinds of beans, and several squashes, including pumpkins, Mexican X-Top, zucchini, and yellow crookneck, plus some sunflowers and cucumbers. We tried to follow the "Square Foot Gardening" method but having difficulty finding how to plant using the Three Sisters, we guessed. BOY, we were WRONG!
  • We planted the corn seeds too close together.
  • We didn't plant enough sunflowers.
  • We planted too many kinds of corn, and they all intermingled, which was ok with us, but the different heights and maturation rate gave us problems.
  • We planted too many kinds of beans. At the end, we froze all of them because we couldn't remember what was good to dry and what was good fresh-eating.
  • We planted way too many kinds of squashes and cucumbers and etc. They all cross-pollinated, and came out very strange. Mutants. Plus, some of our choices (zucchini and yellow straightneck) were bush kinds which grew up to push aside the corn stalks, making them weak.
  • We didn't mulch and keep up with the weeds. Thus, by the end of August, we couldn't keep up and the weeds (bind-weed in our case), strangled all of the plants. We would have had a much better harvest if we'd kept up with the weeding.

So, here's what you need to do:

  • Start corn in peat pots, one corn seed per. When the seedlings are an inch high (you'll notice a long taproot starting), plant entire peat pot in corn bed. One corn per square foot.
  • Two rows of corn, about 10 feet long. Then 4-5 feet before starting another 2 rows of corn, 10 feet long. And again. The 4-5 feet in between gives you room to pick your beans, check the corn and squashes, and pull weeds without getting a corn stalk hitting your heiny.
  • Same with sunflowers - make sure they get the northern side of ALL the cornbeds because if you get the mammoth sunflowers, they will block out sunlight for everything else. These need 3 square feet for each flower as their roots are quite strong, and their stalks and leaves and faces need more room up top.
  • A week after planting the corn and sunflowers, start seeds indoors (in peat pots) for pumpkin (or your chosen vining squash).
  • When corn is at least one foot high (prefer two feet high to give them a good head start), plant entire peat pots of squashes - one per TWO corn plants and one per TWO sunflowers. Your squash seedlings should be a few inches tall by now.
  • At the same time, sow three bean seeds per corn or two per sunflower - make a triangle around the corn/sunflower. They will quickly grow up and around the stalks.

Our plan for next year: we've chosen:

  • Black Aztec Corn (heirloom - not hybrid) (sweet when ripe, and black when dried, perfect for flour) ORDERED
  • Connecticut Field Pumpkin (heirloom - not hybrid) (perfect for making pies and canning puree, and this is the pumpkin we see for sale in October for Jack-o-Lanterns) ORDERED
  • Missouri Wonder Pole Bean (heirloom - not hybrid) (old-time cornfield type - loves winding around the corn stalk and won't strangle it - good for string beans and for drying) NOT YET ORDERED

We have ordered Sonoran Gold Bush Tepary Beans (low on gas-producing, high in protein, don't need much water, excellent fresh or dried for storage) but as you can tell from the name, they are a bush bean. We'll grow the tepary, soybeans, anasazi, black turtle and other beans elsewhere.

As to the squash choice... in the following years, we'll replace the pumpkin (year 1) with Mexican X-Top Cushaw Squash (year 2), Butternut Squash (year 3) and Spaghetti Squash (year 4). Then we'll start the rotation all over again. This will prevent cross-pollination, and give us a variety. When each squash is harvested, half of the harvest will be put into cold storage, and the other half will be sliced and dehydrated (saving some seeds for toasting and some for planting in the next appropriate year).

You absolutely should try planting the "Three Sisters". It's companion planting at it's finest.

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/growing-three-sisters-corn-squash-beans.html

Audio Podcast: Turning a Home into a Homestead

icon for podpress Episode-128- Turning a Home into a Homestead [43:16m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

This is a topic we discussed in the past and I thought it was time to do it again. Time to ask yourself a question, “does your home provide for you or do you provide for it”?

Tune in today to hear….

  • Make sure to call in your questions and comments to 866...
  • We have more gear for the Listener Appreciation Contest from SOE Tactical Gear
  • What is the main difference between a house that owns you and a home stead
  • What to look for when buying a home today
  • Things you had to buy before leaving back during the hay day of homesteading
  • Thoughts on gardening and permaculture
  • A 48 Hour ‘What If’ project
  • Thoughts on energy efficiency in the home
  • Thoughts on solar and wind energy
  • The real difference we have lost in how we view our homes and the one thing that will NEVER let your home become a homestead
Original: http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episode-128-turning-a-home-into-a-homestead

Keeping cash on hand

Well the FDIC has said that it may go belly up in 2010. For those that don't know, the FDIC guarantees our money in the bank should the bank go belly up.

Picture this.... XYZ Bank goes bankrupt or whatever the appropriate term for a bank is. People start to worry and go to XYZ Bank to take out all their money. The bank of course runs out of money because banks don't keep our money physically there. They use it for investments and loans. So now we have a bunch of people with money in their accounts that want it back and cannot get it back. Normally the FDIC would guarantee these amounts so that people would get their money back up to a certain dollar value. But, if the FDIC goes belly up, how do we get our money back? We don't.

How much actual cash do you have on hand right now? How many of us use our credit cards month to month and then pay them at the end of the month? How many of us use our debit cards or checks instead of keeping cash on hand? So, now you can't pay your credit card bill when it arrives and your debit card or checks are worthless. Where's the cash? You should keep at least a month's worth of cash on hand in case you need it. Two months would be better if you can handle it.

Even worse, what happens if the company you work for has an account at that bank? Where does your paycheck come from? Does the company have any cash on hand to meet its obligations? Does the company go bankrupt now? Do you loose your job? In this economy can you find another one quickly? How do you live while you're looking?

If you can, try to have an alternate income source. Can you mow lawns? Babysit? Weld? Take a job 2 nights a week flipping burgers? Deliver newspapers in the morning? At least that way, you'd have some type of income coming in if you needed it. Right now I work several part time jobs. Even if one disappears, I have several more to fall back on if I need to.

Original: http://vermontpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/keeping-cash-on-hand.html

Make your own powdered laundry detergent

With prices increasing daily, it's good to know how to make some of your own household cleansers. This powdered laundry detergent works quite well for us:

Powdered Detergent

2 cups finely grated Fels Naptha soap
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 cup Borax

1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.

2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

You may not see as many suds as you're used to but it will clean just as well. If you want to, you can add a drop of essential oil to the water as your washing machine is filling up. I like lavender the best.

Original: http://vermontpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/make-your-own-powdered-laundry.html

10 Herbs to Know

(I don't know where I found this article the web, but it is a good informative article, so I copied it to my hard drive. Enjoy, HM)

Ten Medicinal Herbs You Should Know: by Debra Nuzzi, MH
(From The American Survival Guide-July 1991)

(Debra Nuzzi holds Master Herbalist degrees from Dominion Herbal College and the School of Natural Healing. She has been a student of herbal medicine for 22 years and has taught herbology since 1984. She is the author of the herbal video series, HerbalPreparations and Natural Therapies-Creating and Using a Home Herbal Medicine Chest She is president of Nature's Apothecary Inc, a fresh plant herbal extract company, and Essential Aromatherapy, which manufactures aromatherapy inhalers. Both are inBoulder, Colorado - The editors.)

By Debra Nuzzi, MH

ONE hundred years ago, the kitchen garden was also the medicine garden, and plants which produced medicinal benefit were part of the working knowledge of the common people. Those plants which were difficult to cultivate were sought in the surrounding fields and meadows, then preserved and added to the harvest storehouse to soothe and heal the illnesses of winter.With the advent of the chemically synthesized drugs, the home pharmacy has all but disappeared, and with it the knowledge of simple herbal remedies for common ailments. This knowledge is now resurfacing: researched and regenerated by people who want to take an active and independent role in their own health care.

A very necessary part of this renaissance is self-education. Starting is easy. Just familiarize yourself with a few key herbs and begin to use them in your daily life. As you see how effective they are it will spark your desire to learn more, and you're on your way!

Following is a list of 10 commonly available herbs and simple ways to use them in personal health maintenance. These herbs are easily available and fulfill a wide range of benefits with a minimum amount of effort.

ALOE LEAF (Aloe Vera) - This plant has hundreds of uses, the most popular being its ability to alleviate the pain of burns and to speed their healing. It is very easily cultivated as a house plant, and should be in every kitchen. It is the best remedy for sunburn, often preventing later peeling. Immediately immerse the burn in cold water or apply ice until the heat subsides, then generously apply the aloe. It is best to trim the prickly sidesoff the succulent leaf, then split the leaf in half and gently rub the exposed gel onto the affected area. Aloe may also be applied to any cut or skin abrasion, and onto skin eruptions, remarkably speeding healing. To relieve the pain and itching of hemorrhoids, carve out a suppository sized chunk of the inner leaf gel and insert into the rectum.

BURDOCK ROOT (Arcticum lappa) - Well known as a blood detoxification agent and eaten as a vegetable known as Gobo in oriental cuisine, Burdock root is available throughout the U.S. It is used for skin eruptions and dry scaly skin conditions. Burdock is also used as a digestive stimulant and to lower blood sugar. Its seed is used as a diuretic and kidney tonic. The root is now found in supermarkets and can be cooked as a vegetable or made into a decoction. Fresh plant fluid extracts of the root and seed arealso available in health food stores.

COMFREY LEAF/ROOT (Symphytum officinalis) - Comfrey should be grown as a house plant in every home. Like Aloe, it is a natural herbal bandaid, useful for cuts, scrapes and burns. It is styptic, which means that it will stop bleeding. Commonly known as "knit-bone," it stimulates tissue regeneration. Used externally as a poultice, it helps heal bone fractures and deep wounds. Recovery rate is accelerated with use of this fresh plant poultice on muscle, tendon and ligamentous injuries. Thoroughly cleanse the wound with an antiseptic first, because Comfrey is so quick to regenerate the tissue that it will seal over the wound with the bacteria still inside.

DANDELION ROOT (Taraxacum officinalis) - Dandelion is naturally high in potassium, making it a safe diuretic, increasing the ability to eliminate waste products through the urinary channels. It helps restore kidney function and relieves liver and spleen congestion. It is extremely beneficial as a spring tonic which stimulates sluggish liver function. The root should be made into a strong decoction, which means that it should be cut into smallpieces and simmered in a glass or enamel vessel for at least 10 minutes before straining and drinking. The fresh plant fluid extract can also be used. set 20-30 drops into a cup of hot water and drink as a tea.

ECHINACEA ROOT (Echinacea angustifolia) - A powerful immune stimulant, Echinacea has become increasingly popular in recent years. Its antiseptic and anti-viral properties are used for sore throats, flu, colds, infections and allergies. It also has tumorinhibiting properties. The most potent form is a fresh plant fluid extract, however, medicinal benefit can also] be derived by mixing a decoction, as explained under Dandelion.

GARLIC BULB (Allium sativum) - Best known for its antibiotic effect, garlic bulbs or the milder garlic greens can be eaten raw at the onset of a cold or flu. A small piece of bread may be necessary to make the spicyness more palatable. You can growgarlic greens by planting the bulbs in a 4-inch-deep pot, and trimming them to use in salads or stir fry dishes. Garlic oil is effectively used for ear infections. It is easily made by finely chopping enough fresh organic garlic bulbs to fill a jelly jar, and covering them with organic olive oil. Cover the jar with cheesecloth held on with a rubber band. Let the mixture sit in a warm room for a week or a sunny window for several hours (if youneed it right away). Strain the oil and store it in an amber glass jar. The warmed oil is then placed in the ear and plugged with a cotton ball. Leave in overnight and treat nightly until the infection is gone. This therapy is not to be used in cases of eardrum perforation. A wonderful garlic cough syrup can be made by simmering freshly chopped garlic in apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes. Strain the resulting liquid, add honey and simmer down until the mixture is thick and syrupy. The vinegar neutralizes the garlic taste, making it much more tolerable, yet preserving the antibiotic effect.

GINGER ROOT (Zinziber officiale) - Ginger has a carminative effect, which means that it will help relieve digestive problems which result in gas formation. It is also a diaphoretic, used both as a tea and added to a soaking bath to stimulate sweatingand reduce fevers. In cases of abdominal menstrual cramping, a ginger fomentation can be made. A fomentation is prepared by slicing 1-3 large roots into a half gallon of water and simmering in a covered pan for at least 30 minutes. A cotton cloth is then dipped in the mixture, wrung out (wear rubber gloves, it's hot!) and applied to the abdomen as hot as can be withstood. Two folded bath towels are placed on top to help maintain the heat of the fomentation as the therapy progresses. Internally, 1/4 teaspoon of ginger or one dropperful of the fluid extract can be added to 1 cup of warm water to alleviate nausea/morning sickness/motion sickness and to aid digestion.

KELP (Nereocystis leutkeana) The kelp family, which includes kombu, wakame, arame and hijiki, is known for its ability to combat the effects of radiation in the body. Radioactive strontium-90, one of the more prevalent sources of radiation, isstored in our bones, and contributes to long term diseases such as leukemia, bone cancer, Hodgkins disease, anemia, and decreased production of red and white blood cells. The sodium alginate found in the kelp family binds with the radioactive isotope in the gastrointestinal tract and forms an insoluble gel like salt called strontium alginate, which is safely excreted in the feces. (For more information on radiation detoxification, see Fighting Radiation with Foods, Herbs and Vitamins, by Steven Schechter, ND. Kelp is recommended as a daily addition to the diet.)

ST. JOHN'S WORT (Hypericum perforatum) - The extract and oil are used externally for bruises, strains, sprains, contusions and wounds. The extract is used internally as an immune system stimulant, for retro-viral infections, as an expectorant and anti-bacterial. It speeds the healing of wounds and burns and aids the regeneration of damaged nerve tissue. It is used as an anti-depressant and to treat bed wetting and children's nightmares. It is also known as Klamath weed, a common pasture plant, and is found throughout the U.S.

VALERIAN ROOT (Valeriana officinalis) - Valerian is classed as a nervine and sedative with mild pain relieving properties, which makes it a good candidate for stress, anxiety and restless insomnia. It has also been used for intestinal colic, menstrual cramps, migraine headache, and rheumatic pain. Although it smells like well used socks, the extract and tea are both recommended.

It is vitally important to properly identify the plant you are harvesting before you use it. Forest Service visitor centers carry plant identification books for their region, and the Petersen Field Guide series plus a range of medicinal plant hand books are also sources of botanical identification. Most of these books can be found in local bookstores. It is wise to take classes or go with an experienced guide when you are in the early learning stages. Herbs are precious natural resources, and should be ecologically harvested. The following guidelines for harvesting help insure herb potency and purity and help preserve the species for further enjoyment.

Medicinal herbs should be:

1) Gathered in the proper season. General rules are: Barks in the spring; leaves before the plant flowers; flowers on the first day of opening; roots are best in the fall (although they are sometimes harvested in spring, previous to aerial plant development).

2) Gathered in wild habitats where the plants naturally grow or should be organically grown according to certification standards established by the state in which they were harvested.

3) Harvested in an area free of chemical/industrial pollution of air, water and soil.

4) Gathered at least 1/4 mile from any traveled roads, and at least 10 miles from any waste disposal or toxic dumping areas.

5) Protected from over-harvesting by leaving at least 3/4 of the stand intact for reproduction and continuance of the species. If roots are dug, root crowns and seeds must be replanted to perpetuate the growth and proliferation of the plant.

Even if you only learn to use a few of these simple herbs it should be of great benefit to you.

Original: http://handmaidenkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/01/10-herbs-to-know.html

Quote of the Day

Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. Winston Churchill

Link of the Day

The Survival Bible 2001

Richard Perron's large files contain a compendium of survival information on many subjects from many sources. Ranges from excellent to poor. Not very well organized, nor particularly scintillating prose, but there is lots of it. However, well worth the effort if you're seriously interested in the subject. Be warned that this site includes some "survivalist" materials that some may find objectionable. (Perron's site disappeared some time ago, so ETS now provides these files in a single archive downloadable from the ETS server )