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How to make a simple Bushcraft Bow

The following video is by "Coalcracker Bushcraft" and demonstrates how to make a simple Bushcraft Bow that you could hunt with.

You will need:

  • An axe or hatchet.
  • A knife suitable for slicing wood.



Zombie Apocalypse Tactics #1: To Hoard or Distribute Firearms

So I decided to start a new series of posts dubbed "Zombie Apocalypse Tactics".

It is really more of a fun series of posts, but I am hoping it will get people thinking about what methods are the best way to survive in similar post-apocalyptic scenarios.

So here goes...

Should you hoard or distribute firearms during a a Zombie Apocalypse?

So imagine you are sitting on a stockpile of firearms. ie. You own a gun store or perhaps you just collect firearms. The Zombie Apocalypse starts, should you:

A. Barricade yourself inside your gun shop and wait out the disaster, only to emerge later and kill as many zombies as you can?

or...

B. Start handing out free firearms and ammo to any would-be "Zombie Slayers" in the community?

So there are pros and cons to both strategies.

In Option A you run the dangers of running low on food, getting injured or sick and having nobody to help you, having no allies, and when you eventually emerge from your gun shop you will be alone against a giant hoard of zombies.

In Option B you run the risk of people you give guns to turning on you and stealing your guns, stealing your food, murdering you, etc. But on the plus side, fostering a community of Zombie Slayers around you could make your small town or neighbourhood "zombie free" as a well armed community will be able to kill lots of zombies, purge the region of zombies, and be better able to feed themselves, find supplies and can rely upon a commodity system wherein bullets are effectively the new currency.

If you run low on food or supplies, you just buy some from your neighbours.

Injured or sick? More likely to be a doctor, nurse or medic amongst the survivors if you managed to save the community using your stockpile of guns and ammo.

Get attacked by a rival community of survivors? If your group of survivors is well armed they will be better able to withstand such an attack. Having allies is useful. Being alone against a rival group of survivors makes you easy pickings no matter how well armed you are.

To me Option B is the clear choice, even though it comes with a few risks. The risks of being isolated and alone with Option A is simply not worth it. The pros of Option A outweigh the risks.

What do you think is the best option in that scenario? Post your thoughts in the comments.

The right tool for the job? Or just silliness that will reduce the accuracy of your bullets?

How to make Dowels or Arrows using a Drill and a Vise

Note - To use this method the wood needs to be pretty straight in the first place. If the wood is not straight, it will not make a good arrow.

Thus the importance of cutting the wood in straight pieces is tantamount if your goal is to make arrows.

You will need:
  • A nice tablesaw capable of making nice straight shafts of wood.
  • A vise with serrated jaws. This method will not work otherwise.
  • A hand drill.


Which is better? Renovate and repair, or build fresh?

Which do you think is better?

A. Buy an existing home, repair and renovate it to make it as Green and Sustainable as you can... with all the architectural modifications and solar/wind power you could want.

Or...

B. Buy an empty plot of land and build a brand new structure... with the same amount of solar/wind power.

Lets assume, for the sake of argument that the total price and the time expenditures for both properties are exactly the same.

So both properties are:
  • The same price in terms of total cost of home regardless of whether you renovate or build fresh.
  • The same time requirements to either repair/renovate or build fresh.
  • The same amount of solar/wind power being generated.
Assuming everything is the same, which do you do?

I even made A and B both red so that people wouldn't be more likely to pick their favourite colour.

So really what I am asking is:

Is it better to repair a home or build a new one, assuming the end costs/time requirements are the same?

Well, lets consider some issues.

1. 1200 square feet minimum.

These days many townships in Ontario won't let you build a new home unless it has at least 1200 square feet because then they get to charge you more property taxes. So if you build a new place, it will have to be at least 1200 square feet.

In contrast if you buy an older place and renovate it, if the original structure is under 1200 square feet you will end up paying less property taxes.

So that is a point in favour of buying an older structure that is smaller and repairing it.

2. Less Surprises

Sometimes when you buy an older home you find out things that the previous owner didn't warn you about. Like how the basement floods every Spring. Or how the electrical lines in the building are faulty and are just waiting to cause a fire.

In contrast if you are building fresh, you should not be surprised by anything related to the previous owner of the property - unless they were burying dead bodies in the ground or something like that.

So that is a point in favour of building something new.

3. Previous Owners Leave Things Behind

Sometimes when a previous owner sells a home they leave some of their things behind which you gain as a bonus. Like an old canoe. Or tools. Or valuables they forgot were in a locked box in the basement. Some things might be useful, some garbage, some even valuable like a collection of old Elvis records you sell on eBay for hundreds, and perhaps even a few antiques worth keeping.

Point for the old home, repair and renovate.

4. Everything is Brand New

If you build fresh, everything you install in the new building is also probably going to be brand new. New sinks, new toilets, new fireplace, etc. You shouldn't have to worry about repairs to various items for a long time and your maintenance costs should be less.

Point for the fresh build.

5. Rustic Appeal, Weathered Look

Some people really like it when a building looks older and more rustic/weathered.

Point for the older building.

6. Shiny and New

Some people really like it when a building is brand new and everything is shiny and fresh.

Point for the new building.

7. Newer buildings are often more energy efficient... or are they???

Maybe. Not always. Generally building codes these days require modern buildings to be more energy efficient, so it is more or less a requirement depending on where you live. Will it really be more energy efficient? Maybe. Assuming you are trying your best to live off grid, you should really be investing in insulation anyway so that should be something that is neutral regardless of whether you buy an old place and install more insulation, or build a new place and install equivalent insulation.

Point for neither.

So who won?

Well if you kept track, both got 3 points and tied.

But you may have noticed, 5 and 6 are basically a matter of personal taste and style. So that is the real answer you are probably looking for.

Are you the type of person who prefers:

Rustic/Weathered
Shiny/Fresh

???

Whichever you decide, that is the one probably best for you.

Then it just becomes a question of how important the other factors I mentioned actually matter to you. You might decide for example that price is the real sticking point and might try to find your cheapest available option. Good luck with that. Or you might decide you would rather pay more for a place that was already renovated by someone else, and you are hoping that by paying extra you will be able to be more lazy about repairs/etc. It is just more pros and cons and back to personal preference.

Individual properties might also have features you particularly like too, like a river or stream, access to a lakefront, fishing holes, a hill or cliff with a view, rock formations, local wildlife, etc.



How to make Lime using Primitive Tools

Lime is a very useful building material which can be used to make flooring, mortar, render, whitewash and many other uses. The Romans used two different types of lime to make Roman concrete. Combined with clay, dirt, gravel and other building materials it is a very useful way to make sustainable architecture.

In the video below it is demonstrated how to make a "brick a lime" which can be stored and used later during the building process.


How to make Flatbread and other types of bread off the grid

So in the first video below the chef from "Food Wishes" demonstrates how to make flatbread, which as he points out was originally made on large flat rocks that were heated on hot coals of a fire.

However you can just as easily make your flatbread in a cast iron skillet (again over hot coals) or on a wood stove or electric stove.

The second and third videos are from "Coalcracker Bushcraft" and show how to make biscuits and camp bread, also over a fire but using a Dutch Oven instead.

A Dutch Oven is a handy off grid device because they are meant to be used with hot coals on top of the lid and help heat whatever is inside more evenly.



How to make Biscuits in a Dutch Oven over a Fire



How to make Camp Bread in a Dutch Oven over a Fire


Orienteering, the Lost Art

An Orienteering Compass
The Lost Art of Orienteering

Guest Post by R. W. - January 19th 2018.

Orienteering is not only a fun and rewarding hobby, it’s also a crucial survival skill that could one day save your life.

But orienteering is different from other ‘survival skills’ in that it is something that can be beneficial to almost all of us in practical situations. Let’s be honest, many survival skills are things that we are unlikely to ever need. A lot of survival enthusiasts operate on a ‘what if’ basis. What if I got stranded on an island? What if there was a zombie apocalypse?

But getting lost without GPS is something that still happens to most of us from time to time. And being completely helpful in these situations makes us feel just that: helpless.

So, learn orienteering and be a little less dependent on your phone. Not only could it get you out of a pickle, but it will also hone and train valuable skills.

How Orienteering Works

Orienteering is more than just navigation, it is actual practiced as a sport. It is possible to find ‘orienteering events’ which include courses for beginners and experts. To start, you will pick a special map with a course of your choice printed in red. You’ll see a start point (a triangle) and an end point (a large double circle) and you’ll be required to visit a number of specific points along the way, known as ‘control sites’. When you reach the control sites, you’ll see a stake with a triangular red and white nylon flag. There will be an electronic timing device here, which is used to record your time and to prevent cheating. You’ll also carry a small block called a ‘dibber’ which will record your time and download to a computer when you’re finished.

This sport is great for testing your skills with a compass, honing your natural sense of direction and also getting some fresh air and exercise (not to be underrated!).

Engineering Compass
Tips

Whether you’re taking part in an event or just trying to improve your navigational abilities, you’ll need to be able to use a map and a compass. Orienteering is all about reading and understanding maps drawn at large scale. These will often be 1:10,000 scale.

One tip for this is to keep the map set to match the view. This means you’ll need to constantly turn the map as you go, in order to know what sites you’re looking for. Of course you also need to know which direction you should be heading in, and this is where using a compass helps. That said, the best navigator or orienteer will be able to use the sun, stars and even vegetation to help learn the direction they need to head in.

Another skill that needs to be developed is the ability to judge distance. Interestingly, most people will walk at a rather even length pace and if you can count how many paces it takes you to cover 100m, then this can be used to ascertain how far you’ve walked in a given direction.

But to really master the art of orienteering, you need practice. Over time, you’ll find that you learn to intuitively estimate distance, direction and more much more easily. You’ll become better at looking out for useful landmarks and orienting your map.

Once you manage this, you’ll find you become inherently more aware of your surroundings in daily life. You’ll be more mindful and engaged with the world around you, with more of an idea of which way you came and where you need to go. And so if you ever do get lost, you should be able to quickly and efficiently correct your course!

See Also

The Barkley Marathon, a marathon for people who are into orienteering / survivalism.

Ship's Compass

DIY Blacksmithing Forge

How to make your own DIY blacksmithing forge, courtesy of the "Outdoor Boys" YouTube channel.

Note - Luke notes in a later video to skip the sand and just use gravel instead. Sand + Blower just makes a mess. The gravel alone does the trick.



And while you are at it, check out the DIY smelting method for making crucible steel out of iron ore the same ways the Vikings did it centuries ago.


The Economics of Firewood

Living Off Grid often means you are using some alternative method of heating your home.

Traditionally wood is seen as the most economical, but is it really cheaper than say propane?

Well lets do the math.

If you use 2000 litres of propane per year (roughly November to April) to heat your off grid home, at 75 cents per litre that comes out to $1,500.

To get the equivalent amount of heat from wood you would need 3 full bush cords for the same November to April time period. At $350 per bush cord (pretty standard rate in Ontario), you are looking at $1,050.

Okay, you saved yourself $450. That makes wood cheaper yes?

Technically, yes.

But what about time consumption?

Once you get those 3 full bush cords you also need to cut the wood with an axe or a mechanical log splitter and then pile up the wood.

Then whenever you need to carry the wood into your home to be used, you need to go through the whole process of carrying it in, lighting a fire in your fireplace or wood-burning stove, and then keep feeding the fire.

You also need to either brush snow off your wood pile regularly, or build a roof that goes over the wood pile, possibly with a large tarp to prevent snow from drifting / blowing in to your wood pile.

Clearly, wood is not the best option for lazy people.

So how much TIME is required to do all that extra work?

Well if you end up toting around wood, chopping it into kindling, etc for 30 minutes (at least 30 minutes minimum) each day, over the course of November 1st to April 30th (181 days) you will spend at least 90.5 hours per year doing all that work.

Is it exercise? Sure. And exercise is good for you.

But how much do you value your time?

Personally I see my time as being worth at least $30 per hour. That is the minimum rate I charge clients in both of my two businesses.

But maybe you only value your time at say, minimum wage. So $15 per hour in Ontario.

90.5 x $15 = $1,357.50

So is wood still cheaper?

$1357.50 for TIME + $1,050 for wood = $2407.50

As opposed to propane. You click a switch on the thermostat and the propane heat starts warming the place up. But you are saving $907.50 worth of your time by being lazy.

What if you cut the wood yourself?

Well first you need to determine how many cords of wood do you need during the colder months? Do you need 3, 4, 5 or 6?

A single person living in a small house might only need 3 cords. Two people or a family living in a larger house are going to need a lot more firewood.

You should also know how much a cord of firewood is:

4 feet x 4 feet x 8 feet of wood.

So a single cord of wood might require you to cut down at least 3 large trees. (Or 2 very large trees.)

Really it depends on the size of the trees available...

So lets say you need 4 cords...

So that is 12 large trees that need to be cut down with a chainsaw, clean the branches and twigs off of it, cut the trunk and larger branches into logs with the chainsaw, and then split into smaller pieces suitable for burning, and then pile them in neatly in rows that you can use during the winter.

All of that is very time consuming. Cutting down a single large tree and processing it will take you about a day. Less time if you have help. So about 12 days to make 4 cords of wood.

Or you could just buy 4 cords of wood for $1,400 from the professionals who do it as a living.

You will also need:

Chainsaw + gasoline + an axe or mechanical wood splitter.

Minimum price of a gas chainsaw at Canadian Tire? $199.99 + HST. Highest price? $669.99 + HST.

Average price $434.99 for a gas chainsaw.

Plus 13% HST, so $491.54 total + however much gasoline you end up using. Lets say $500 even.

Plus repair costs whenever it breaks down, say once every 3 years. Or buy a new chainsaw every so many years. Whichever. Lets assume the cheaper chainsaw breaks more often than the more expensive ones.

So you do all of this work, the cost of the chainsaw is still $500, and you only really saved $900 instead of just buying 4 cords of firewood from your local professional woodcutter.

What about the Trees on your property?

Really depends how many trees you have on your small/medium/large property.

If you have a tiny property you might not be able to cut down 12 large trees each year without seriously effecting your privacy and the general sense of beauty/pride you have in your property.

A very large property might have ample trees that come down during windstorms that you really only need to collect the trees that fall down naturally and cut them up.

Can you just do a mix of both firewood and propane?

Absolutely. Sounds awesome.

You could simply have firewood for your fireplace and wood-burning stove, which you use for cooking/preparing food, and then use propane most of the time or whenever you feel lazy. Having both options available is certainly a thing to do.

Conclusions???

You really should do what is right for your situation.

You are the best judge as to whether you want to be spending your time getting exercise by collecting firewood or whether you would prefer to just buy propane. Or a mix of the two. There is nothing wrong with doing one, the other, or a mix of both.

Is propane lazier? Of course it is. But it also saves you a lot of time and effort.

So you have to ask yourself, which option is better for you?

Personally, I like having all my options available if I need to. A mix of the two works well for me. The romance of the fireplace, the convenience of the propane heater.


The Best Exercises when Living Off the Grid

Happy New Year!

So you are living off the grid in the wilderness somewhere - in our case that would be northern Ontario - and you want to stay physically fit.

So how do you do it? Well, here is a list of 20 ways to exercise off the grid which won't require any electricity.

#1. Chopping firewood and stacking the wood in piles.

#2. Snowshoeing.

#3. Skiing.

#4. Shoveling snow out of the driveway.

#5. Go outside and build something.

#6. Take the dog for a walk.

#7. Cycling.

#8. Swimming (probably best to do this in the summer).

#9. Build your own exercise equipment (the building process alone is exercise).


 #10. Weightlifting.

#11. Hiking.

#12. Gardening / Landscaping.

#13. Birdwatching / Outdoor Photography - which oddly enough involves a lot of walking and hiking.

#14. Exploration.

#15. Spelunking / Cave Exploration.

#16. Rock Climbing / Tree Climbing.

#17. Build a Zip Line between two high points. (You should really research how to build Zip Lines properly before attempting and get someone with more experience with building Zip Lines to help.)


#18. Garbage cleanup - just go around your property and clean up the place. Sometimes debris builds up over time.

#19. Build a stone wall or staircase for your property.



#20. Horseback riding / Equestrian archery. My personal favourite.


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