Waxing Gear

A simple more traditional way to waterproof your clothing or gear is to use Greenland wax. I own a couple pairs of Fjallraven Vidda pro trousers and one of their granite wool flannel shirts. When I ordered my first pair of Fjallraven pants I also ordered some of their Greenland wax.

It was time to wax/waterproof my pants and the shoulders on my granite shirt so I grabbed the wax and my heat gun. Putting the wax on is simple. All you have to do is rub the wax on whatever you’re treating like you’re coloring in a coloring book.

Once each garment was completely covered in wax, I grabbed my heat gun. I set the heat gun on the lowest setting and took care to constantly keep the heat gun moving so not to burn the garment.

There’s something very satisfying about watching the wax melt into each garment and disappear. It didn’t take me much time at all to treat my two pairs of pants and flannel. Since I had the wax out, I decided to wax my Hidden Woodsmen Deepwoods Ruck. It turned out pretty good. We’ll see how well it worked this weekend well I’m out.

Do you wax any of your gear? What type of wax do you use? Let me know what you think in the comments section down below. Have a wonderful day and get out into the wild places and use that gear you’ve bought.

Fire Kit

 

Pictured are some basic fire kits I made for my older three boys, Father and brother for Christmas. I wanted to make the kit compact but encompass more than most kits do. I put everything in a metal tin (similar to an altoids tin) and included a fero rod, 6 ft of jute twine, a piece of chert and a steel striker I designed, made and heat treated.

I used 1095 steel to make the striker. I drilled an indent in each striker so that they can be used as a baring block for the bow drill, primitive friction fire starting technique. I made all the edges 90 degrees so that the edges can be used to scrape wood for fine shavings or be used to scrape a fero rod.

The tin can be used to make char cloth. They have room to add char cloth as well as add some quik tinder or other modern tinder for fire starting. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to sit down and teach them all how to start a flint and steel fire. I did teach my older son, who was excited when his first try was a success. I’m sure they’ll be addicted to starting a fire in the wilderness this way, just as I am. Flint and steel is by far my favorite way to get a fire going. What’s your favorite fire-starting method? Have you ever used flint and steel or any primitive friction methods? I added some pictures of me heat treating the steel strikers in my simple forge.

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Quick Tip #13

When putting together an emergency fishing kit try using braided fishing line instead of mono. If you’ve ever tried to straighten out that emergency fishing line in any of the small kits available on the market today you know it’s a feat in itself to get it untangled and to try to ever get it straight again. Braided fishing line can take being wound up tightly unlike mono line can. Also the braided line is thinner in comparison to the mono for the same pound test line. If you ever need that emergency fishing kit you made you’ll be happy (jumping for joy) that you chose to use braided fishing line over mono. Which fishing line do you prefer, braided or mono, for an emergency fishing kit and why?

Trail Food: Dinners

These are just a few of the meal options I use for dinners when I’m backpacking. These meals are very versatile and can be adjusted to your tastes and needs. I adjust my serving portions based on whether I am going to be exerting a lot of energy hiking or if I am going to be staying around camp and spending more time fishing. Generally you are going to want to be taking in more calories if you are hiking all day long.

Meal 1: Hearty

1-2 servings of Instant Potatoes (You will need to add powdered milk as well)

½-1 cup of Dehydrated Vegetables

Dehydrated Meat or Tuna Fish Pouch

Butter Packet (optional)

Just add to hot water when you’re ready eat

*Write how much water you are going to need for the meal, on the baggy when you package it

Meal 2: Soup

1-2 cups of Dehydrated Vegetables

Chunks of Dehydrated Meat or TVP for Vegetarians

Any seasonings or spices you would like

Add to plenty of water to make it more of a soup consistency

* You can also add chunks of potato to make it more like a stew (carry a fresh potato) or Rice

*If I have any dinner rolls left I like to eat one with my soup

Meal 3: Sweet and Sour Chicken and Rice

1-2 servings of instant rice, cous cous or some sort of grain (I prefer Brown Rice)

Some Dehydrated Chicken or TVP

½-1 cup Dehydrated Vegetables

1-2 Sauce Packets (sweet and sour, soy sauce etc.)

Add to hot water when ready to eat

These are just some basic recipes to give you a basis with which to start making your own trail dinners. Think of these recipes as a launching point. You can adjust them and vary the recipes in many ways. You can add different meats, vegetables and spices or sauces to make for many different meals. You can also add arrowroot (healthier than corn starch) to your soup to make it thicker for more of a stew consistency. Test these recipes out and have fun adjusting them to your tastes. All my meals are interchangeable, meaning that sometimes I might use a breakfast meal for lunch or dinner or I might use a lunch for breakfast or dinner etc. Have fun with your meals and make them flavorful. You don’t have to eat bland boring food just because you are not in a kitchen. What kind of homemade trail meals do you use? Have you ever put together you own meals for backpacking/camping? I suggest testing any homemade recipes out ahead of time. It’s easier to make any adjustments that need to be made, at home, than it is on the trail. If you work out all of the bugs ahead of time, you’ll end up with easy, healthy, tasty, homemade trail meals that you made yourself.

Raising Chickens for Meat

Raising meat birds is very easy and if you are conscious about what is in your food, I recommend that you try raising some chickens of your own. I order all my chickens from Murray McMurray Hatchery. I have not had a problem with them and their birds seem to be of very good stock. I buy the XRocks and I order them with no vaccines or antibiotics. They are not genetically modified, they are a cross breed. They are crossbred so that they mature very quickly.  These birds are ready for slaughter in 6-9 weeks. I usually slaughter mine at 8 weeks. If you go too much longer they can start to die off or have health complications. You really don’t gain much by going over 8 weeks. They just continue to eat a lot but not really put too much more meat on.

You will want them in a brooder or some sort of enclosure with a 250 watt heat lamp for the first 3 weeks. I usually order 30 meat chickens at a time and I just took some scrape plywood I had lying around and built a pen 16”x4’x8’ and set it up in one of the spaces in my garage. I then spread out a bag of shavings on the floor. This way I could hang their food, water and heat lamp from the rafters and adjust them easily as the chickens grow. By having the chickens in the garage, they are safe from predators and there should be no cold drafts to worry about. It is also easy to clean up the garage floor when they move out. These chickens eat and drink like crazy so you will want a large feeder and waterier.  I ordered my feeder and waterier from Amazon because my local Tractor Supply didn’t carry any large enough.

After 3 weeks, if the weather is going to be decent for a few days, you can move them outside. I built a 3’x5’x8’ “chicken tractor”. You can see mine in the picture above this post. It only cost around $100. It could have been done a little cheaper. I used pressure treated 2’x2’x8’s to go around the base. I used regular 2’x2’x8’s for the rest of the framing. To save some money you could rip down some 2x4s but I was tight on time when I built mine. I used chicken wire for 3’ of the total length and metal roofing for 5’. This gives them plenty of room to get out of the rain or away from predators trying to reach in through the wire. This is based on Joel Salatin’s chicken tractor model. His are 10’x10’ so I just modified it down in size. My size works perfect for 30-40 meat chickens.

Once your chickens are moved out into the chicken tractor you will want to fill their food and water first thing and move the tractor just enough so that they are off of the ground that they were on the day before. This way they will have fresh grass and be off of their feces from the prior day. This setup works much better than free range for meat birds because it forces them to eat fresh grass and bugs daily. Meat chickens are very lazy and will not free range like egg layers will. This tractor will also protect them from predators. The top screened part of my tractor is hinged with locks on the front so that any predators cannot open it.  I hang the food back under the metal roofing so that if it rains the food doesn’t get wet. You will want to move the tractor before you fill up the food and water. Just slide a dolly under one end with a short piece of wood between the dolly and the top of the tractor to lift the tractor up a bit and then pull from the other end. It moves very easy. Once moved you can now fill the water and food up. If you have to get inside the tractor for any reason you are now standing on clean grass instead of the mess from the prior day.

Your yard will thank you for the fertilization. It doesn’t take long for your yard to recover from the chickens. You do not want to leave them on one spot for more than a day. About the last two weeks you will have to give them food and water in the morning and again when you get home from work. In the summer if it is a real hot and humid day you will want to prop the metal side of the tractor up a bit so that there is some air flow. I just stick a 2×4 under the back side where the metal is and it works well. Just remember to take it out before it gets dark so that predators can’t get in.

When the chickens are ready for slaughter you can either, load them up and pay to have someone else slaughter them for you, or you can slaughter them yourself. I slaughter them myself. This way it saves me money and now I am in charge of how clean everything is. As well as how well the bird is cleaned out and plucked. I feed my chickens locally grown non medicated organic chicken feed. This way I know what they are eating and what they are made of. My last batch of 30 birds yielded around 175 lbs total after slaughter. They are like small turkeys. The meat has so much more flavor and you don’t have to worry about any chemicals ever touching the meat. Its nice knowing what I’m feeding my family is safe and healthy.

Once you have a chicken tractor built it really is easy to raise chickens. I think it only took 5-10 minutes per day until they were ready for slaughter. It takes two people about 3-4 hours to slaughter 30 birds. I’m sure somebody that slaughters chickens everyday could do it faster but this is my average.

It is getting harder to know what is really in our food supply these days and if you are anything like me you can’t afford to go out and buy all organic meat to feed your family but you can grow it much cheaper. You will also feel less dependent on others to supply your family’s food. Chickens are one of the easiest animals to raise for food. Once you taste the meat from the chickens you raised you’ll never want a store bought chicken again. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have and let me know if you want specs for my chicken tractor. I will try to help in any way I can. What is stopping you from raising some chickens of your own (Besides local town laws)? I hope this encourages you to tryout raising your own chickens and becoming more self-reliant. It’s only a 6-8 week commitment so why not try it out at least once?

Review of Dash Yogurt Maker

Review of Dash Yogurt Maker

This is a review for the Dash DSY007CM STAINLESS 7 Jar Home Yogurt Maker w/ One Year Warranty. My wife and I have wanted to make our own yogurt for a long time. We did test making it without a yogurt maker and it can be done but we had a hard time having consistent temperatures for the yogurt and it always came out very runny.  So we finally decided to invest in a yogurt maker.

One of our stipulations was that we wanted the yogurt to be made in glass containers instead of plastic containers. That limited our options big time. I also went online and read a ton of reviews. I found that one of the brands had a common problem running through all their lines of yogurt makers. The heating element would go bad in a short amount of time and would get to hot, which would in turn kill the bacteria. You would end up with soup instead of yogurt. We definitely didn’t want that.

So after doing a search for yogurt makers, and reading a ton of reviews, up popped the Dash yogurt maker. I liked that it used glass jars and as I began reading all the reviews I began to realize that this was the yogurt maker for us. So we ordered one. It only cost us $43.15 with free shipping from Amazon. I didn’t think that was a bad price at all.

Well we received it and couldn’t wait to make some yogurt. The first batch came out soupy but my wife realized it was her fault because when she was checking the temperature of the mixture, she did so without stirring so she ended up overcooking some of yogurt mix. You need to be very careful about not over heating the yogurt mix. Since then every batch has been amazing. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful our yogurt tastes. The wonderful thing is we know what is and isn’t going into our yogurt. We use organic milk for our yogurt. No preservatives and no artificial flavors. We like to add our favorite fruit, a spoonful of homemade jelly or some granola, although the yogurt does taste good enough to eat all by itself.
So far we have not had one single problem with this yogurt maker. Its works exactly like it’s suppose to with no problems at all. The only minor issue I do have is the amount you are able to make. We have a family of six and we love our yogurt. I wish that they made this yogurt maker twice the size that it is. As nice as that would be and as convenient as that would be I’m not sure if that might affect the quality of the yogurt or the possibility of it not thickening. We overcome this slight issue by getting extra jars and making more batches consistently.

Out of a possible 5 stars I give it 4.9 stars. Only because I wish it made larger quantities does it not get a 5. I do highly recommend this machine if you are contemplating making your own yogurt. It’s always nice to know what you are eating and putting into your body. The more things you can make at home for yourself the better off you’ll be and hay its always more satisfying making your own food from scratch and eating it to. Let me know if this review helped you in any way and if you enjoy making your own yogurt. What kinds of things do you add to your yogurt and why?

Trail Recipes: Lunches

I’ll start off by saying that these are just a few lunch ideas that I use. These are not my only lunch “recipes” but may give you some extra ideas for your own trail lunches. In general I don’t like to stop for too long a period of time when I’m stopping for lunch. Because of that I try to eat something that doesn’t need to be warmed up or cooked unless it is going to be cold and I know in advance that I will want something to warm me up.

For quick lunches I like to pack homemade flour tortillas or homemade dinner rolls. I keep these at the top of my bag so that they don’t get crushed. Bread products do actually last for awhile on the trail. It just depends on how hot it is going to be. I then pack peanut butter packets, jelly packets and sometimes some honey. The honey is also great to have to sweeten your tea at night or possibly coffee. I squeeze these onto a roll or tortilla shell and I’ve got a sandwich. This way I can also keep hiking well eating if I would like. I bring a small baggy to place the used packets of peanut butter, jelly and honey in so I don’t end up with a mess in my pack. Sometimes I will also bring tuna fish that is in the pouches and mayonnaise packets so that I can make a tuna fish sandwich. Here are the recipes for the tortilla shells and dinner rolls I use.

 

DINNER ROLLS

3 ½ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

½ cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)

½ cup very warm milk (120-130 degrees)

1 large egg

 

1) Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, ¼ cup butter, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and warm milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

2) Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

3) Grease rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with shortening.

4) Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; place in pan. Brush with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until double.

5) Heat oven to 375 degrees.

6) Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool.

 

FLOUR TORTILLAS

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for the counter

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces

4 Tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening or lard, cut into ½-inch pieces

 

1) Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and shortening, and rub them into the flour mixture with your hands until you have pea-size lumps. Slowly add 1 ½ cups of warm water to the mixture, tossing with your hands as you go. Add an additional 1 tablespoon of water at a time (but don’t use more than 4 additional tablespoons) until you have a slightly sticky dough. Lay a clean, damp dish towel over the bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

 

2) Flour the counter and divide the dough into 16 balls, each about 3 inches in diameter. Cover the balls with the damp towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Start heating a dry skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. (If you have two skillets, use them both.)

 

3) Use the rolling pin to roll out your first tortilla to 8 inches in diameter and 1/16 inch thick. Put it in the skillet and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until it is bubbly and starting to brown. Use the spatula to remove the tortilla from the pan. Repeat with the other balls of dough. Serve immediately or store covered, in a warm oven or under a warm, damp cloth until ready to serve.

For a warm meal I take a Ziploc bag and place 1-2 servings of instant potatoes in it. Then I add enough powdered milk to cover the needed milk for the instant potatoes (dependant on how many servings of instant potatoes you use). If you want butter in the potatoes just bring some butter packets to use. Now just add some dehydrated vegetables and some dehydrated meat of your choosing (or maybe TVP if you are vegetarian) and you’re all set. Just add to some hot water and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes and you’ve got a wonderful warm lunch. I also use this for my dinners once in awhile.

Feel free to use these recipes or come up with your own but just know that you are not stuck having to buy trail food from your local sporting goods store. I do use mountain house meals once in awhile but I can’t imagine the cost of eating those strictly well on long hikes and they are generally full of sodium. I like to save money and I rather enjoy putting my own healthier meals together. I hope this post helps encourage you to come up with your own trail meals instead of settling for prepackaged. What meals do you make for lunch well on the trail?