Thursday, April 28, 2011

Natural Minor Burn Remedies

Minor burns, although scary and painful, can be treated with natural home remedies. As long as the burn is a surface burn only, there are several alternative solutions that can prevent infection, soothe pains, stop scarring and help in healing.

Here are a few remedies…. 

Aloe Vera
One of the most common natural burn remedies is probably Aloe. Many of us still use it today and it does work rather well.
The Aloe Vera plant contains at least six antiseptic agents: lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamic acid, phenol, and sulfur. All of these substances are recognized antiseptics, explaining why Aloe vera has the ability to eliminate many internal and external infections. Lupeol, salicylic acid, along with ingredient magnesium are all highly effective analgesics, which explains why Aloe vera is an effective pain killer.
Aloe vera also contains at least three anti-inflammatory fatty acids (cholesterol, campesterol and B-sitosterol), explaining why Aloe vera is an effective treatment for burns, cuts, scrapes and abrasions, as well as for rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever and ulcers of all kinds, both internal and external. The presence of these fatty acids may explain why some experts feel Aloe is highly effective for many inflammatory conditions of the digestive system and other internal organs, including the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, kidney and pancreas. The presence of these fatty acids, especially B-sitosterol could explain how Aloe juice is a treatment effective for allergic reactions and acid indigestion, and why it helps, in association with a low fat diet, to lower harmful cholesterol levels. 

For a minor (first degree) burn whole milk was used, either by soaking the burned area in a bowl of milk for 15 minutes or so or applying a cloth soaked in milk to the affected area. If you use this method for minor burns you may repeat every few hours to relieve pain. Be sure to wash out the cloth after use, as it will smell bad. Milk does not hold the healing power as aloe vera does it just works to soothe the burns and alleviate pain. 

Honey will sanitize minor burns by drawing out fluids. Place a few drops of honey directly on the burn, then place a bandage over the infected area. A gauze bandage works well, and should be changed several times daily. With each bandage change, a few drops of honey should be reapplied. 

Apple Cider Vinegar 
Use undiluted apple cider vinegar. Apply to the surface of the burned area and it will take away soreness. Applying it on the sunburn will take away the sting almost instantly and prevent the skin from peeling as well. 

Egg Whites 
Egg whites were often used to treat burns. Remove the yellow and use only the whites. Apply to the burned area like a salve or you can put egg whites in a bowl and soak the burned area. This treatment will not only ease the pain, but it will also help speed the healing and reduce the severity of scarring. While the egg white is still wet you will feel no pain from the burn. As soon as it dries up the pain comes back so reapplication is necessary. This can be used on sunburns as well. 

Slice of Tomato 
Just cut the tomato into wedges use one slice and rub over the burned area. The acid from the tomato takes the pain away and the burn will not blister.

NOTE: If the burn is not localized to one small area, you may want to soak in the tub instead. First, clean the tub with hydrogen peroxide or a small amount of bleach - and be sure to rinse the tub thoroughly. For this bath you will need tons of tea bags. Brew the tea with boiling water until it is very strong, and you can cool this down with half cold water. You should not get in until the water is no longer warm, and be sure to get out when the tea water gets too cold. You will need to either lie down in the tub or have the tub filled high enough to cover all the burned areas.
Never put butter on a burn! You may have heard that butter is a good healer for burns, but nothing could be further from the truth! Butter delays the healing time of a burn and in cases of severe burns, may cause infection.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fire On The Homestead

Happy Easter to all. We're just sitting at the house today getting mentally prepared for the week ahead and enjoying the time off. This post is an important one I thought needed to be put out for people.

I've noticed very few websites, books, or magazines mention the fire hazards associated with living on the homestead including your survival retreat. Fire is an ever present danger, especially in dry desert areas like Texas. Very few people would want to make Texas their go to place when calamity strikes but not everyone can or wants to run to the mountains to live.
No matter where you live fire is a possibility. It can destroy your home, barn, crops, shelters, and kill you and/or animals. There are medical dangers as well but first lets look at the homestead issues. A medical post about fire dangers will be presented at a later time.
To start, dead refuse in the field from this years harvest is a good thing. It keeps the soil from blowing away, keeps the water from washing it away, and helps the soil to hold moisture so microorganisms can work on the organic material and improve it for the coming year. But you have to consider the danger of that field catching fire. A spark from your chimney, spark from your outdoor fire, an enemy, maybe even lightening can send that field up in flames. Those flames may then jump to the forest and torch the area taking your home with it.
What would you do if a fire starts in your home? Do you have an effective, or at least a plan in place, to combat the fire? I hope so. Building a metal structure as your home is good. It should last a long time and it will provide a good defense against small arms if such an event occurs. The problem with a metal home is the heat that will build up during the summer or during a fire. The support and skin may be metal but there will be plenty of burnable material in and around that home to cook you to death. In a severe crisis you may not have the water pressure to run a hose or sprinkler system to control the fire. You'll have to escape and watch, waiting it out until you can return.
Lets do it this way for easier reading and reference;

Structure (Interior Source)
This type of fire can be cause by lightening, an enemy, a wildfire, or your chimney. Even when things hit the fan you need to make sure you clean your chimney. Keep it clean so you don't lose what your trying to protect.
Having a water tower to provide water pressure would help a lot here but you'd have to consider the possibility of an enemy destroying it as well. As preppers we can't prepare for everything but we try. Another aid would be a large body of water close by such as a large pond, lake, stream, or river. This method requires many hands to carry buckets of water and a steady and quick pace to prevent extensive damage.
Unless your using a solar system you won't have to worry about wiring catching fire so your main concern will be chimney fires. Have your place set up in advanced with flashing around the chimney and regular maintenance to reduce your chance of fire. Be careful using heating and lighting sources such as candles and kerosene lamps. These cause many indoor fires. Remember smoke is the enemy because it can suffocate you. Watch dogs are good, alarming you if something is out of the ordinary.

Structure (Exterior Source) and Field
The fire starters are the same as above. The best defense here is a good offense. This means keeping an eye on dead brush. Maintain a perimeter between all structures, fields, and forest areas. Ten to twenty feet makes a good fire line between the forest and your structures and fields. The fire line will reduce the chance that the fire will jump to other fuel sources. Another good reason to have the fire line is it will open your field of view, allowing you to see intruders from a greater distance.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation there will not be metal “a plenty” so you will have to fall back on wood as your primary building material. Thats just fine because thick logs make great homes and won't burn as easy as the thin pieces of wood used in todays construction. You should plan now for how you want your landscape to look and the material you would like to build your buildings with. It makes it easier to have the setup now and be used to it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mulch and Compost

Applying the mulch to the top of the raised bed has helped tremendously. Water retention is much better now and we have seen more sprouts because of this. I feel like there should be better growth in the bed but I'm sure that has something to do with amendments and patience. I haven't been able to get the compost to add to it but our little compost pile is growing. I toss weeds in there when i pull them and scraps from the kitchen. I also add vacuum cleaner dirt and lint when I get it. Just trying to build it as quick as I can because I know that we need a lot to prep this soil so it will grow an abundance.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Homemade Water Filtration

The homemade system I'm talking about is one that is spoken about on many survivalist sites. The caveat is pollution and nuclear fallout. Homemade filtration systems use various containers to stack charcoal, sand, and gravel to clean the water as much as possible. A thin cloth is used on the bottom with a small exit hole. The cloth holds in the charcoal which then has a sand layer poured on. Gravel is added on top of the sand. After putting the filter system together, you will need to run water through it until the water is clear. This is to clean the system and clean off the charcoal you used. After it runs clear, place a container under it and start collecting water.

This system filters out larger then smaller items as it percolates downward using gravity. The system is great and renewable in most areas. I like to use an equal amount of charcoal to sand to filter out as many chemicals as I can. Not all chemicals will be removed but the majority will be. After filtration the remaining water must be boiled. Boiling is used to kill organisms that are dangerous to the human body. A one minute or more sustained boil is required to kill these organisms. This includes protozao, bacteria, and viruses.

The advantage I find using this system is it is much cheaper than buying the commercial filtration systems. If staying put then this will work well for most people. If you believe your area may not contain safe sand after an event then you can purchase washed asbestos free and silica free sand from a store. These are checked for hazardous particles that may cause cancer and are used for sand boxes for children. Don't use all purpose sand from the store due to its contents.

The bad thing about this type of filtration is it needs to be changed out weekly or biweekly depending on the water source. The gravel and sand can be rinsed and cleaned then spread out on a surface in a thin layer to allow UV light to thoroughly dry and kill pathogens. Allow it to sit in a safe area for several days in direct sunlight. Another option is to heat the sand and gravel over a fire. Place small portions at a time on a designated pan or piece of metal and let it sit over the fire while you do other things. Make sure to dry if for a day first to prevent the gravel from overheating and exploding. Not always a problem just depends on which type you use. With this setup you can have enough materials to switch out each week without needing fresh sand or gravel. They serve mostly to simply remove large particles and trap a small amount of pathogens. The charcoal will need to be replaced each time with fresh charcoal. This means you will need to burn safe wood, i.e. not contaminated, to replenish your charcoal. If its a grid down situation this shouldn't be a problem unless your in the city with no way to gather firewood.

This system is good for bug out situations as long as you have the ability and time to stop and filter fresh water every day or two. This depends on how much you will carry. I like this system also because of the reduced weight load and lack of gear needed to carry. I can either carry a container to put the filter material in or carry extra cloth to make a drip layer system where each cloth is attached to poles, holds the filtration material, then drips to the next level.
[IMG][/IMG] Picture from "When Technology Fails."
You should carry your cloth with you at all times and can wash it using lye soap made at the fire. With this setup you can travel and gather fresh water without too much concern. Just remember to boil the filter water for one minute or more.

Commercial filtration systems are fine but require you to carry the equipment to use them. Make sure you follow care instructions and understand their limitations. The can be used to filter water without too much setup but most of them require a pre-filter to extend the life of the system. They can be quite expensive for ones that remove viruses without boiling. Commercial water filters are more of a convenience than anything allowing you to keep moving stopping for short periods for "quick" refills. They are good short term but bad long term pieces of equipment.

If your thinking about an end of days scenario then I prefer low tech but if your thinking a few months of hard time then the cheap commercial filter combined with boiling will work. Remember some type of pre-filter like a bandana will extend your filters life in murky water with large grains. For me I would rather spend 10-20 dollars on a proven system than spend 300 on a commercial filtration system that will sit in the closet until I think its time to use it or be left behind if I must leave my bug in location.

Almost forgot, another thing you could do is buy the filters and then build your own unit using food grade buckets, bottles, or cans. You'll need safe gaskets to install the filters. These can be disassembled if need be and using smaller containers they can be made portable. There are many sites that give information on how to do this but since I've not made one using a high quality filter I'll let someone else teach you.

Study hard but don't let it consume you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dry Ground

Storms have raged through the U.S. the last few days but here in central Texas we only got a few sprinkles. Not enough to quench the thirst of this dry land. I decided today that watering every two days isn't enough without a change. The raised bed is just too dry. The cardboard on the bottom isn't holding enough moisture for the bed. So today we tossed some cedar mulch on the bed to help retain moisture but more will be needed. The other problem is many of the plants have not popped up yet which could be due to lack of water. Our row of beans are up except for the ones destroyed by our company, dogs.

The tire taters are doing good. I added more dirt and manure today but found that when I added water, it found a pocket that didn't have dirt in it. The water opened a hole on one side of the tire. I didn't have any dirt to fill it in so I used the remainder of the cedar mulch to keep it dark and prevent the taters from seeing the sun. Much more dirt is needed. We're looking to start another bed but I still need a yard and a half of dirt for that and a few other things.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Damage To The Food Supply

I'm sorry plants in the garden
Broken but not forgotten
Smashed and not repairable
Eaten and not recoverable

This weekend we are watching the dogs of a coworker and from that little attempt at a rhyme, we lost some today. One of the dogs thought it would be a good idea to trudge through the raised bed. The dirt isn't compacted any and many of the plants are not big enough to survive dogs. Looks like some beans, bell pepper, cucumber, and mater plants were destroyed. Luckily its early enough we should be able to get a harvest if we replant quickly.

Because of school work and these dogs I didn't get out to pick up any dirt today to start another raised bed. Looks like that will be put off a little while longer but that's not good since the tater plants need more dirt to cover where they have grown. If I wait to long I may not get to fill the tires anymore. Its a waiting game. This is a busy week for us here. My wife has had to work long hours and an extra day a week. Of course the place where we were gonna get dirt is closed on Sundays so maybe soon.

Another issue, the plants are getting big enough for rabbits to be a concern. I'll have to figure out what I'm gonna do to keep them wascally wabbits away from my food.

Well that's it for now unless I think of another thought. In the words of a late great, Good Day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Compost Bin

Day late in posting this. The wife and I decided to take a night for us and have a date. Just the movie and food thing. Nothing fancy.
Anyhow, yesterday morning I got it into my head that we should go ahead and build the compost bin. I've talked about it for a year or two but haven't bought one nor built one, til now. Before this I had just thrown scraps into the yard and weeds I'd pulled by hand into a corner of the back yard. Same place I now have this compost bin.

It was made simply out of wood pallets. We tore some apart but that took to long and many were in bad shape so we just broke off one side and I nailed them together like this. The side facing you is not nailed but resting against the rest. I'll decided how to keeping it standing later but I don't want it permanently fixed. I'll probably just tie it off with loops just to hold it up in the wind. It doesn't need to be strong just last for a couple years. We don't plan to live here past that if we can sell the house but with the market in the dumps we may have hold on to this place for five or ten more years. Yikes. A small suburban house is not the best way to raise food or protect yourself in a survival situation. Too many people and too many of those people that are trouble in descent times. Take a guess how they'll be if things were to really get bad.

 Here we have a squash coming up to look out at the world. Oh you should see how much it has grown. Today we watered it which got some of the dirt off and made it settle around the plant. Really hoping for a good harvest, small but good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just Another Update

So far things look pretty good. I had to add more dirt to the tire taters today, the cantaloupe have surprised me by sprouting many more seeds than I thought were viable, lettuce in a hanging basket has started, and the raised beds are starting to show life. Grass in the yard is still dead with mostly just the weeds showing life but oh well water goes to what I want to eat not what looks good. Texas is always a thirsty state with each piece fighting over water rights and now trying to get water pumped in from other states. Oh what fun.

Now we need to count the days and get an estimate of when things should be ready to start harvesting. Another seven or eight weeks we may see flowers if all goes well then the taters will be about ready to come out. The other items may be able to harvest in May. What needs to be pulled will while others will continue to produce until the end of summer. As room comes available I think we'll take a chance and replant to see if we can get another harvest. Maybe we'll get some more for winter. Whooo Hooo.
Tire Taters Growing quick. Thats real good.

Cardboard added to help stop some of the grass and weeds from choking it out. Mostly clay here.

There's two things growing here more in other spots. Maybe that one on left isn't grass.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Raised Bed Update and other

Just watered the raised bed and boy was it dry. I thought for sure it would retain moisture better than it does. Guess I'll have to go ahead with my plan and lay newspaper down to keep the water where its needed. I'll try and get that going this week. I put it off hoping I wouldn't have to, at least until the plants popped up, but it looks as though I should lay it down now. Otherwise we may not have any plants at all. We're trying different ways of gardening this year so hopefully something will work for us.

I was considering get a chick or two and building a chicken tractor but due to conflicts with neighbors, its probably best I don't. Would really have liked to restart the learning process with some layers. We've had issues with the neighbor kid shooting things with his BB gun but in this neighborhood nobody knows anything unless it directly affects them. Seems to be better just to try and get out when we can and not waste money on a moving target for the delinquent.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Early this morning when it was still dark out, we had a descent rain. Just enough to soak the raised bed without drowning everything. It did point out a problem that I hope will not be an issue here. Since the raised bed is a mix between top soil and cow manure it holds water very well. Once the plants are growing it won't be a problem but for now it looked like a mud pit.

I will definitely need to consider this because a heavy rain could wash out the dirt or drown the plants. I may have to re-think the cardboard bottom or consider a small drainage ditch. For now I'm just gonna let it go and see how it does. Its still an experiment for us to see if this is a better option.

This past Sunday I planted spearmint. Spearmint has been my white whale since we moved into this house and started gardening several years ago. Every year I try to grow it from seed and every year I fail for some reason or other. I can usually get it to about three inches or so before it dies off for some reason. Today I got in and the container had been tipped over, by the wind I assume. Three other pots sitting around it, one hanging up, and various containers sitting around and only the container I had spearmint in tipped and dumped its contents on the ground. What crappy luck. Since I didn't plant all the seeds I put more soil in the same pot and placed a few seeds in. This time I'll see how they start indoors then transfer it outside.

Worm bed still looks good. Found more very tiny baby worms wriggling around inside the bin. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can eventually start another bin using the ones from this one but they are slow at reproducing. Take a peek. First glance you see the larger worm but a close look reveals tiny brown worms too. Its to hard to make out in this pic but their is also baby white worms moving around. I couldn't seem to get a good pic of them though.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Raised Bed Gardening

This year to combat the clay ground and dry weather, we decided to build a raised bed. I have here pictures of how we did it and I'll let you know what I planted. Firstly I bought 4 cedar fence planks and braces to connect them. Here is the beginning.

To keep the weeds out we put down cardboard. The cardboard will also keep the dirt in the contained area and not allow the nutrients to seep away into the ground. The top right corner has a tater that I protected with a cardboard shroud to allow it to grow larger. Once it gets eight inches tall I'll add six inches of dirt.
 And here is the final product after planting but before watering. We used a mix of cow manure and top soil. Hopefully things will pan out and my house hold will get a good crop. We planted lettuce, cucumber, mater, spinach, string beans, bell peppers, and squash. Due to the weather here in Texas I've set a watering schedule of every two days to make sure the plants have enough water. Previous gardens have failed relying on rainfall. This sure isn't like the east coast where I'm used to letting the Earth provide for the plants. We will monitor the soil to see if the watering schedule can be amended to every three or maybe four days.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tater Update

I have pictures here to show how the taters are doing so far this year. The first picture is the first one I planted in a tire. My first attempt at tire taters. It looks rough but that's is due to the temperature and lack of water in the mound. It was bone dry so I added water. Its late in the day so the sun won't fry the leaves.

This second picture is the second tire tater.

Here is the tater I planted in the ground to compare the growth to above ground tire planting. See how it is similar in size to the second tire planting. Its just a little smaller.

 Here is the tater in the ground I didn't think made it. Its small but its trying to survive. Just last week I was planning on placing an above ground bed here to plant other items. Now I'm gonna have to put up a barrier to keep the dirt from over taking it until its bigger. The above ground bed will be placed here anyhow. Plan on doing that tomorrow.

To my surprise a cantaloupe plant is fighting to live too. Its wilted some however so I'll have to keep an eye on it to see if it survives. I have some cantaloupe seed from last year I dried and placed in a clean cool whip container. I didn't know it but moisture got inside and molded the seeds where some cantaloupe residue remained. Lesson learned for me. Completely clean seed. I didn't think we would get to use them anyhow due to financial conditions but we decided to try a garden anyhow this year.

Garlic plant in the ground isn't looking to good either but I have hope for it. I have two in pots that look better with one looking like it may do well.

Even though it rained some here this past week, I'm maintaining a watering schedule because the rain doesn't soak into the ground well. Its mostly clay and since it doesn't hold moisture well I decided to go ahead and build a raised bed this year.

More to come as things get done.