In light of the record cold temperatures, and my laziness, I am reposting information that I previously published. You can read more survival tips on the Surviving Nature page. You can find credits and resources for this info on that page as well.
Surviving cold winter temperatures and conditions can bring its own special challenges. Even though the basics remain the same, Water, Food, Shelter and Heat, achieving those basics can be much tougher in cold winter months.
Water-It is tempting in the winter to grab handfuls of snow and cram your mouth full of the white stuff. Though, of course, melting snow or ice in your mouth does put water in your body, it can cause more problems than it solves. It’s not going to hurt you or your child (unless the snow is contaminated) to eat a bit of snow in a non-survival situation. But, when survival is at stake, don’t do it.
The cold snow or ice will lower your body’s core temperature. Your body then has to work harder to maintain its heat. Your body uses more water, to metabolize to create heat, than what you are getting from the snow or ice. This will lead to both hypothermia and dehydration.
Rather than eating snow or ice, find a way to liquefy it. Eating snow or ice (or extremely cold water) actually dehydrates you. Heat it first. Melt it with fire or find a running source of water such as a stream. Heating the stream water is still important to both kill bacteria and to warm your core. Also, make sure your snow or ice is from as clean a source as you can before using it.
Food-can be real tough in the winter. There are some sources that are available if you know where to look. One of the easiest to find are pine needles. A tea from pine needles provides both comfort and Vitamin C. Another possibility is sumac berries.
A very nice and Vitamin C rich tea can be made by boiling the red berries of sumac.
Believe it or not, there are some green plants that survive quite well under the snow. A few of them are Winter Green, Violet and Mallow.
Move the snow aside in areas that these plants likely live. Just keep in mind. The same rules apply in winter as in summer. 100% identification is a must. This is not a time to experiment.
The Goldenrod Gall Fly Larvae can be found on many Goldenrod plants. Check out the photos. I can’t find any evidence that this grub is harmful to humans and few that briefly state they can be eaten in survival situations. I post them as important to know because they do make great fish bait. You should have small hooks in your pack. Recover the grub as shown. They actually stay on a small hook very well. Small fish like trout, panfish, chubs and shiners love them. I grew up using these grubs because they are readily available and wax worms or mealworms just weren’t easy for me to get to. I caught a lot of bluegills on these grubs through the ice as a kid.
There are few other sources of food that you may find as you work towards rescue.
Rose Hips are a good source of Vitamin C. Keep an eye out for the little red hips. You will recognize them when you find the thorny wild rose plant.
Don’t overlook animals as a source of food during the winter. Your sling shot or snare can take small animals such as squirrels, rabbits and birds.
Also, and this might sound gross, but you can find good meat on dead animals that you find. Just make sure you are able to cook the meat thoroughly to avoid any possible bacteria.
Remember, this is survival during a tough time for all animals to find food. You can’t be choosy.
Shelter and Heat-If the snow is deep enough, you can dig a snow cave. Be careful not to dig too deep down. Make sure only a couple feet of snow is over you. If it were to cave in on you, you don’t want six feet of snow on you. Snow is a great insulator. Making a tee-pee or lean-to packed with snow makes a very good shelter.
Don’t build your fire inside your shelter unless you have adequate ventilation. The only thing different about building a fire in the winter vs the summer is that finding dry tinder might be tougher. Make sure you have dry tinder and fire starting material in your survival pack. Also, wood that is cold is harder to ignite than warmer wood. You might need to make sure your fire is better established at each stage. Don’t slight it. Get each stage good and hot before moving to the next.
A few more notes to wrap it all up:
Remember that dehydration is a major issue in the cold. You might not think you are dehydrated, but you very well may be. Simply put-drink water.
Don’t get caught in a situation without your survival pack. Preparation is the first step of survival.
Remember, it takes a lot to starve to death. Finding food is tough in the winter. Keep a constant vigil for tidbits you can munch on.
Make sure you limit sweat. Sweat leads to major body heat loss when you stop work. When you are building your shelter or hiking out, don’t over dress. Keep your extra clothes dry so that you have them when its time to rest.
Do not forget to sit down and relax if you find yourself in a survival situation. Pray for guidance and calm. God has your back, lean on him.
Cold weather injuries can be painful, debilitating and life threatening. Make sure you study and understand the sign of these injuries. Please research these conditions prior to embarking on a cold weather adventure.
Hypothermia-A condition with abnormally low body Temperature. Life threatening. Immediate attention required to prevent death.
Frostbite-The freezing of living tissue. Possible loss of extremities. Loss of skin and muscle tissue. Very serious. Immediately seek medical treatment.
Chilblains-Usually extremities such as fingers, toes and nose. Above freezing temps with higher humidity. Rash, burning, tingling, numbness. Usually not life threatening and can go away unassisted. Recommend medical attention.
Immersion/Trench Foot-prolonged exposure to cold moisture. Loss of skin tissue. Can be debilitating. Immediate medical attention required.
Dehydration-Loss of body water to the point of reduced body function. Can lead to Hypothermia. Increase water intake. Possible medical attention required.
Constipation-Usually brought on by improper diet but also dehydration. Cold weather can increase chances of constipation. Seek medical attention if severe. OTC remedies. Proper diet/water intake.
Sunburn-Usually on face in cold weather. Reflection of sun off snow and ice can increase the suns ability to burn. Use sunscreen in the winter.
Snow Blindness-Due to increased ultra violet rays to the cornea from sun reflection off of snow and ice. Swelling of cornea. Very painful, feeling of grit in eyes. Cover eyes with dark material. Wear good sun glasses. Seek medical attention immediately.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning-poisoning due to combustion of carbon based material. In nature it is usually due to a fire built inside of a shelter with inadequate ventilation. Life threatening. Get medical attention immediately.
Cold weather injuries are almost always avoidable. Make sure that you are properly clothed, nourished, hydrated and dry. Use sunscreens and sun glasses. The better your overall health and condition, the better your body can resist cold injury.
The video that this link takes you to is an excellent source of information on cold weather injuries. It was put out by the US Army. You should take a minute to watch it.
I watch a lot of videos on wild edibles. I read a bit as well. Something that gets my goat is when video “producers” try to reflect themselves as more professional or educated than they actually are.
Sounding very confident in the their presentations and information, they proudly expel their content to eager viewers ready to soak said expelled knowledge. I’ve made a few videos as well. Hopefully I’m not guilty as those I’m irritated with. Also, there are many excellent videos out there.
Let’s get to the issue. Many people watching these videos are novice Foragers. There are 1800 native species of plants in Michigan and 800 non-native species of plants. Pretty much, we are all lacking much of the knowledge available. It’s really a matter of being less ignorant than the next person or more ignorant as the case may be.. Even someone who is brilliant in the subject of plants has much to learn.
When it comes to the dangers of Foraging, humility is a great trait. Even if you are completely wise about a plant, it’s a great idea to encourage your viewer to study further any plant they intend to use. I always tell people to be 100% sure the plant you are about to make use of is safe and what to use it for. I know it sounds like a disclaimer and to some extent it is, but the real intent is to portray the importance of knowing what you are doing when the potential side effects of making an error is death.
The straw that spurred this little rant of mine is a video that I watched this morning. The person was quite informed on the 36 edible and medicinal plants that he educated his audience on, in a sonic boom speed of 15 minutes. His information was accurate…sort of, but extremely inadequate.
Again, the title was concerning edible and medicinal wild plants. In the video he quickly listed Jack in the Pulpit as an edible. No explanation or elaboration. No warnings. Just “here is another wild edible, Jack in the Pulpit”. Nothing was said about the roots being deadly poisonous or the leaves containing silicate crystalline structures that will leave micro cuts in your mouth or throat. Nope, just confidently and knowledgeable sounding, stated, it’s an edible.
Most foragers would not spend time harvesting Jack in the Pulpit for use.
It’s a plant that serves us well being left in the moist creek bottoms where they like to grow. They typically pop in the Spring just after the spring floods recede. Besides, they aren’t the most common plants. Not really enough to be a sustainable source of food.
Then the person showed the audience a Poison Ivy vine. Handling the 3 leaf cluster with bare hands, he stated that he isn’t allergic and therefore isn’t concerned. I’m pretty sure he was just showing his audience what Poison Ivy looks like, but never did he say it wasn’t edible or medicinally useful to your average Forager. Nor did he say handling Poison Ivy, allergic or not, is not advised.
So some of the information is just plain inaccurate. Some of the information, which really confuses people, especially novice foragers, is spurred on by plants that are typically inedible, but can be made to be edible.
There are two basic types of poisons in plants. Water soluble and alcohol or oil soluble. That means the poison is broken down by water or alcohol. Some plants, such as the Jack in the Pulpit, have Crystal structures and aren’t necessarily chemically poisonous in the tradition sense.
Some of those Crystal containing plants would be the Skunk Cabbage, Marsh Marigold and the aforementioned Jack in the Pulpit.
These plants were traditionally consumed by Native Americans as they were amongst the first greens to pop in the Spring. I don’t know who the poor sap was that tried the plant raw, but I bet he or she didn’t get much sleep that night.
Somewhere along the line though, the Native Americans learned to boil the greens. Boiling breaks down the crystal structures which renders the greens edible. Boiling is not a step you want to leave out when educating people.
The plants that contain poison that can be consumed are those that have water soluble poisons in them. Typically these plants are boiled in 2-3 changes of water washing out the poisons.
Note that not all plants that have water soluble poisons can be made safe. Some of the poisons are too potent to risk. Some plants that can be made edible are Pokeweed and Milkweed.
There are some plants that have edible parts and non-edible parts. This must also be explained. Plants such as Ground Cherries have parts that are only safe in particular stages of development. Ground Cherries are a species of Nightshade. Very closely related to Tomatillo, the Ground Cherry plant is poisonous. So is the cherry, except when it turns Yellow and is ripe. At this point, the berry or cherry is safe and delicious.
A domestic example of poison parts and safe parts is Rhubarb. The stalk is good to go as we all know. The leaf on the other hand will make you go. Abruptly and without delay, if you get my drift. Not to mention a myriad of other less than desirable effects.
The fact is, making use of wild plants is not always straightforward. Consuming the wrong plant or not processing it correctly can result in a nasty illness. Some can conclude in a permanent nap. I encourage people to make videos, write blogs and generally attempt to inform people on plants. Just do everyone a favor and make sure the information you supply is accurate and as complete as you can. At least warn people your information is not complete and that they need to do further study prior to making use of the plant.
If you are watching videos and run across one that claims 36 plants in 15 minutes, use common sense and know that less than 30 seconds per plant doesn’t supply enough information to bet your health or life on.
Most of us grew up with the knowledge that Common Milkweed is poisonous. We were taught that one of the only creatures that can eat Milkweed is the Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar. By eating the leaves, the Monarch ingest the poison becoming toxic itself. This self-defence mechanism makes the grubby bugger unappetizing to predators making its demise less likely.
The knowledge that we grew up with was dead on accurate…but…it was only part of the story. There is a lot more to Milkweed than being a nursery for butterflies. Milkweed might be one of the most useful plants we have.
First let’s get past the poison white sap. Though it is true that the sap is not for human consumption, that doesn’t mean the whole plant can’t be turned into fine dining. There are actually 3 stages that the milkweed goes through where we can make use of its nutrition.
First- When the young shoots first appear in Spring: Make sure it is Common Milkweed (other varieties are less palatable and not recommended) and not Dogbane for instance. Always know 100% what you have and that you know how to use it. The young shoots can be harvested before they leaf out. Use them like you would asparagus. (see note below)
Second- The flower heads, when budded or opened, make an amazing broccoli substitute. The taste is similar, but the Milkweed has a bit of a floral taste. Very good!
Note: Here is the deal with preparing Milkweed shoots and flowers. Many poisons in plants have compounds that are soluble in alcohol or oils. Others have compounds that are soluble in water. When the compounds dissolve, they leach from the plant tissue and create a solution containing the poison compound. Some plants of course have various poisonous compounds in which some are alcohol based and others are water based. Those plants would have to be processed in water and then an alcohol to leach all of their poisons.
There are also some plants, such as Poison Hemlock, that are so toxic, that there is no rendering them edible. That is not the case with Milkweed which contains several glucosidic substances called cardenolides. Common milkweed is slightly toxic to humans, but only if eaten in large amounts, according to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Ohio State University. If you eat large amounts of improperly prepared milkweed of any species, you may experience bloating, fever, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils and muscle spasms, and the result can be fatal.
The key there is “large amounts of improperly prepared Milkweed”. Meaning you can consume a pretty large amount (way more than you could eat without being gluttonous) so long as you cook it properly. Cooking it properly is easy. The toxins in Milkweed are water-soluble. Simply boil the shoots or flower heads in clean water for a minute or so. You will notice that the water turns very dark green. Drain that water and dispose. Boil the Milkweed again for a minute. The water will still be green, but not as dark. Again, strain and discard the water. Boil a third time and drain. Again, discard the water. This time, the water should have a tint of green but that’s about it. Add some butter, salt, pepper and I like a dash of vinegar…Yum.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Use two pots. Put the Milkweed in one and cover with water. Turn stove on high. While that is heating and cooking, get another pot on with enough water to cover as well. When the Milkweed has boiled a minute or so, strain and dump into already boiling second pot. Meanwhile, refill the first pot with hot water and have it ready for the third boil. I like having a tea kettle on with water that boiled so it’s ready for the third boil. Really, the whole process is 10 minutes or less.
Now, the Third: The young pods. I know that kids love to have pod fights. I did growing up and even though it’s a waste of a great resource, every kid should get beamed in the noggin at least once by a Milkweed pod. It’s a part of growing up. But, there is a better use for the young pods…eat the contents. When 2″ long and less, the contents of the Milkweed pod can be quite delicious. Make sure the “feathers are tightly packed and not starting to fluff out. They should also be snow-white from top to bottom. If they start turning brown, they are too old.
I have eaten the real small ones raw. They are sorta bland, but otherwise pleasant. But they shine when soaked in a little milk, rolled in your favorite fish coating and deep-fried. They remind me of deep-fried mozzarella sticks. Oh yeah, that good.
I’m not finished. I am with eating the plant, but there are other uses. Here is a list of traditional medicinal uses from http://medicinalherbinfo.org :
Milkweed is useful for kidney problems, dropsy, scrofula, conditions of the bladder, water retention, asthma, stomach ailments, and gallstones, female disorders, arthritis, bronchitis. Causes increase in perspiration, thus reducing fever. Some Native Americans rubbed the (latex) juice on warts, moles, ringworms; others drank an infusion of the rootstock to produce temporary sterility or as a laxative. A folk cancer remedy.
Make sure you completely study medicinal uses before attempting them. It’s also a good idea to talk with a herbalist about how to use Milkweed.
Bet you think that’s it for this amazing plant. You would be wrong! The fibers were a favorite of Native Americans for making rope and netting.
The tall stems lose the milky latex as they dry out. You can strip the outer layer off in long strips and twist the fibers into strong cordage.
The Milkweed strips from the stem easily, It also rolls very easily making for pretty quick results. It is one of my favorite fibers to work with.
Another use is that the sap can be used as a simple glue. Much like Elmer, the sap dries fairly quickly. It isn’t going to make a strong bond, but it can help to lay down cordage fibers, or seal papers and plastics together.
Now to wrap it up. Milkweed has saved American lives! During WWII, children were encouraged to pick the maturing fluffy feather from the pods. That fluff is much more buoyant than cork. The Navy was running out of the stuffing they used in life preservers and depended on the Milkweed fibers to keep their sailors afloat. Not bad for a poisonous plant.
The next time you are out and about, have another look at the Milkweed plant. There is much more to it than saving the life of caterpillar. Do yourself one more favor. When the Milkweed flower is in full bloom, take a close look at the flower itself. God had one more surprise for you. It is a fabulously complex structure that only He could have designed.
It’s Mid July. It’s hot and humid. The sun has already dried up the Spring bounty. So what is there that makes foraging worth the effort this time of year?
How about one of the most nutritious vegetables known to man? What is known as food in other parts of the world like India or Pakistan is known here as a weed.
That is very unfortunate. In the U.S., people spend hours pulling this out of their garden only to make way for an inferior common vegetable.
So what is this wasted resource? Purslane!!!
Purslane is very easy to recognize. It has succulent leaves and grows in mats. You can find it pretty much anywhere where the soil has been disturbed. Lawns, gardens, sidewalks, etc. It is very prevalent in Urban areas. Literally no one in any city should be going hungry this time of year.
Purslane is excellent in a salad. You won’t even notice it being there as it doesn’t have much flavor. What flavor it does have is pleasant. It chews very nice with a good texture. It is smooth and juicy. It really isn’t bad at all on its own, raw. Some wild plants it’s like “yes, it’s good for you, but it taste like crap”. That’s not Purslane. As I mentioned, in other parts of the world, you can buy it at the market.
That’s actually how it came to America, as it is an introduced species. Brought over by immigrants because it was a valuable food source that they were familiar with.
Have a look at the nutrition information below from Nutrition And You.com. Then consider harvesting this little succulent, rather than pitching it to make way for less nutritional veggies. Just as an example: Purslane has more Omega 3 fatty acids in it, than do many fish. So check it out and stop throwing it away.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0.5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.036 mg||1%|
|Vitamin A||1320 IU||44%|
|Vitamin C||21 mg||35%|
Compromise, as defined by Merriam-Webster:
: a way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute
: something that combines the qualities of two different things
: a change that makes something worse and that is not done for a good reason
Americans have been indoctrinated with the idea of compromise in the last few decades on a continuous basis. It is the song being sung by politicians, news pundits and everyone else who has a view point. But the question is, is compromise good for you and your America?
Look at the definition and break the idea down. That’s the only way to answer the question. Merriam-Webster provides three different definitions on it which I provided above.
Take the first one. “A way of reaching agreement in which each person or group gives up something that was wanted in order to end an argument or dispute.” If for instance the people involved are 10 year olds disagreeing as to who is the cowboy and who is the Indian, then compromise might come in handy. Compromise, take turns. If the question at hand is whether to go to Florida this winter or Alaska this summer, compromise, go to New England this fall. Compromise can solve a lot of issues.
What if however, the issue is whether to mug the old woman crossing the street or help her cross safely? Is there a reasonable compromise? Help her across the street, then mug her. I don’t think that works. Or, do you believe in Jesus when you want something from him, but not when it comes to the question of the morality of lying? “Dear Jesus, please bring me an x-box for Christmas”, then cheat on your final exam? That’s a compromise, isn’t it? Believe in the grace of Jesus when you want him to provide, then sin against him when it suits you.
What about “combining two qualities.” That can work. By combining an artist with a scientist, you might come up with an amazing discovery. But, what happens if you combine the cleaning qualities of ammonia and bleach? You make poisonous gas. Can you combine good and evil and come out with an exceptable outcome?
The worse compromise, “a change that makes something worse and for no good reason.” There is no good example of when that is good. There are many examples of when it isn’t. Such as a compromise of your values, ethics and morality. That I am afraid is the most common trend in America.
The point of this. Compromise in today’s society is being sold as a necessity for our growth as a country. Reaching across the aisle or bipartisan efforts seem to be the “pat on the back” tout of politicians. Their way of claiming to be able to work with the other party in order to reach an agreement that is supposed to be good for America. Compromise on taxes, education, religion, etc., etc..
Are there winners and losers in a compromise, or because an agreement has been reached, is everyone a winner?
There are, in fact, clear winners and losers in compromise when the subject at hand is fundamentally fractured in polar opposite directions. When the opposing views are dangerous and transgresses values, traditionally followed by the masses and agreed to by the masses as being proper, there can be only one winner in such a compromise. The winner will always be that of the transgressor.
Looking at it in its most basic term, any compromise that transgresses the morality of God, is in fact Evil. There is no middle ground. A deal with the devil is not a deal you will come out of unscathed. In this case, the devil is driving the agenda.
It is the agenda driver that has something to gain from compromise. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus as being your savior, then any other belief can only taint your faith. You cannot compromise and tell yourself you will go to heaven because you are a nice person, so therefore, faith in Jesus is not needed. That is a compromise that you will regret on your judgment day.
In the same sense, Americans cannot compromise their ethics and morality to the Progressive movement that is driving the current agenda in our society and politics. Every time we reach an agreement with the Progressive movement, we lose a little bit more of our freedoms. Every time we allow them to redefine the Constitution, we lose the core values that our founding fathers intended to protect by defining our rights as Americans in the Bill of Rights.
It must be understood that there is a right and a wrong direction to move our society. There is no middle ground as long as the Progressive movement drives the agenda, for each compromise is another inch closer to subjugation by a strong central government. One that would be extraordinarily difficult to break free from.
Compromise, as it pertains to good or evil, morality or perversion, freedom or enslavement cannot be allowed. To compromise your morals, to compromise your freedom or to compromise your faith is a sin. The eighth deadly sin.
First posted by Free America Ministry Sept. 2015. – Jeffrey Yenior
When I think of survival, I sometimes overlook the obvious. I’m looking for wild edibles, good drinking water, shelter and fire material from the natural surrounding around me. The obvious around me that I overlook? The trash so irresponsibly left behind by goof balls who were there before me.
Don’t be one of those goof balls. Pack out your garbage. Even though the obvious right thing to do is to not clutter our forest and fields, that doesn’t mean you don’t take advantage of it when the need arises.
A discarded beer can can become a canteen or a cook pot. A broken glass can become a cutting tool or even a spear head. If you are by water, look in the trees and brush for broken fish line. Hopefully, a fish hook is still attached.
Anytime you run across plastic sheeting, it’s a survival treasure. If it’s large enough, you can use it as shelter or drape over yourself for a wind and rain break.
If you know how to use bark and plant fiber to twist a rope or string, then you know how to do the same thing with strips of plastic bag. Use the same technique. The smaller the strips, the lighter the cord. You can twist small strips into fish line. A little larger strips becomes cord for tying shelter material. Large enough strips can be made into pretty strong rope. There are tons of videos on how to twist rope. We don’t need another one, so I will provide a link to good one. Here it is. It’s a two part video with a bonus. He also shows how to use Stinging Nettle. One of the most useful plants you can find.
The point of this short blog, is this. When a survival situation occurs, don’t overlook the obvious. Use any material available and that includes junk left behind by some goof ball.
So this is a cheesy re-post. Why would I be so lazy? Well, simply, because Spring has sprung, Summer is around the corner and so is camping, fishing, hiking and foraging. Why should I spend valuable time writing a blog reminding you what plants to avoid, when I’ve already done it? But I do want to bring this information back to the front of my readers mind. So do yourself a favor and click this link…I’m the link. Click it. Read it before you go venturing out. You might already know it, but a reminder never hurts. Enjoy the Seasons…Snow will be back soon enough.
Learning survival means you are out in the woods looking for various flora that can be used. Just because you looking for potential food stores, it doesn’t mean you don’t stop and “smell the roses”, so to speak. It’s been a beautiful Spring in the woods so far. Hope you enjoy these photos I took looking for vittles.
These flowers are not only beautiful, but the following are edible. (Keep in mind, it is illegal in Michigan to harvest wild flowers on state land.)
Edible: Trillium, Yellow Violet, Large-Flowered Bellwort, Spring Beauties, Wild Strawberry, Trout Lily, Pansy and Marsh Marigold (boiled several times).
Non-edible: Bloodroot, Jack- in the- Pulpit and Anemone.
Don’t ever forget that eating the wrong plant can spell disaster. Always know what plant you have and that you are using it 100% correctly.
During my studies of Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, I have had the pleasure of photographing many flowers with an artistic intent. Many of which will soon be available through ImageKind.
Below are some of the images that will be available as a print or a canvas. Please enjoy. Soon I will provide a link where you can order prints and canvas’s for your home.
I have many more that will soon be available. I will provide the link when the store is open.