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Archive for August, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Living off the grid, updates on the off grid RV

I have been living fully off the grid for 3 months now. All of my electricity and water supply are provided by my own hands. Homemade solar panels provide energy to run my electronics and lights. Rain water collectors provide water for daily living. In the beginning, it was a hard time. It was like a rough camping trip at first with very little energy and hand carried water jugs for drinking and washing. But now things are settling down into a relatively comfortable life.

The Off Grid Project has been progressing quite well. I left my apartment and moved into a trailer in the woods on 90 acres of wild land near the foot of the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York. The owners of the property were kind enough to let me use the land for the duration of the project. The original concept of The Off Grid Project was to show you how to get your own home off the grid on a budget. It does not require tens of thousands of dollars in order to get your home off the grid. I made the move into a trailer in order to prove this point. You can also do it step by step as your budget allows.

During the last few months, I had to increase the available electricity to run lights, laptop, cell phone, charge batteries, power cooling fans, run the water pump and anything else I needed. At first I only had enough electricity from a single homemade 65 watt solar panel to keep my laptop charged. And that was only if the sun was shining well. It was rough. Now I have 5 large homemade solar panels, a homemade solar charge controller and a nice power inverter to run appliances.

I started out hauling one gallon water jugs from the creek for drinking and bathing. There was nothing to spare. Since then I have made a very nice, although simple, rain water collection system which provides enough water for all of my needs. I am not yet taking 30 gallon half hour showers, but I am comfortable.

The solar panels run my water pump which keeps the lines in the camper pressurized. It is so nice to wash your hands in the sink with running water rather than using a tub of water sparingly to wash in.

I have also made a lot of changes to the trailer. Since I am alone, I did not need the six sleeping spaces provided in the original camper. I removed one of the beds and turned it into a nice desk and work space. This is where I conduct electronics experiments and solder my solar panels together. I have converted every light in the trailer to LED bulbs in order to conserve energy. Some of the light bulbs I have made myself. You can make your own LED light bulbs and save money and energy.

I have also added a wood stove and solar heating for winter use. I also built a DIY Water Boiler Heating System in the trailer to distribute the heat throughout the whole 32 foot camper.

I have also added more lights over the desk in order to work better and record my work with a video camera. Most of the work I have done can be found on the The Do It Yourself World Youtube Channel.

Another side benefit of The Off Grid Project is that I have learned that you can move out into the forest in the wilds and live a natural, clean life. Many preppers and survivalists talk about moving into the mountains one day if the need arises. But most people never get to test out their theories. It is a good and reassuring feeling to be actually testing out all of my theories. Now I know that if disaster ever strikes, I can still live in comfort with no problem.

The project will continue throughout the year. More experiments will be carried out on off grid living and shared through The Do It Yourself World and The Off Grid Project websites.

Keep following and learn how to get off the grid cheap.

PostHeaderIcon Wild Foraging Series – Common Wild Plantain

The common plantain family of plants are often found in waste areas and in mowed lawns. They grow very well in many conditions and are pretty tough plants. Although we often mow them down, poison them and try to rid our yard of these plants, our ancestors used them as a delicious herb.

The common plantain, a wild edible food

The two most common varieties of wild plantain are the broad leaf plantain and the narrow leaf plantain. Both can be easily distinguished by their long stalk in the middle of the plant with a seed head on top. The leaves are low to the ground and grow in a round pattern around the center seed stalk. The leaves have very clearly defined veins running their length. If you tear a leaf, you can see fibers in the leaf, especially in late summer. (click on an image for a larger view)

How to recognize common plantain in your yard

Wild plantain can be eaten fresh as a salad green or boiled lightly and eaten like spinach. The seeds can be cooked like cereal or dried and used like flour. You can dry the leaves or seeds and use them later. Fresh or dried leaves can be used in tea. As with most green leafy vegetables, the younger leaves are fresher and less stringy.

As a medicine, the plantain family is outstanding. It can be used for a multitude of ailments.

Externally plantain can be used to treat burns, cuts, blisters, stings, bites, sores. Relief from poison ivy can be had with a poultice of plantain leaves. Crush or grind the leaves to use them externally. You can even chew the leaves to form a compress in an emergency.

Common plantain can be used for a multitude of skin problems ranging from rashes to infections.

It has even been claimed that plantain leaf draws out snake venom and bee venom.

Plantain is a mild antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It can lower cholesterol levels.

It can help with coughs, sooth and aid digestion, helps with diarrhea. Provides relief from swelling of the mouth and throat.

Common plantain can help cleanse the entire system.

Overall, the common plantain is a powerhouse of an herb with many medicinal and nutritional values.

Watch the video here:

PostHeaderIcon Wild Foraging Series – Wild Peppermint Family

Peppermint is one of the most widely used herbs in existence today. You can find it in food, chewing gum, drinks, toothpaste, tea and many other food products. But did you know that peppermint can also be found in the wild quite easily?

There are hundreds of varieties of peppermint in the world. It can be found in wet areas, along water, ditches and moist forested areas. It likes partly sunny areas and spreads like a weed, if left alone.

Peppermint Plants in the Wild

Peppermint can easily be identified by its square stem with very fine hairs all over it. Peppermint leaves grow in pairs on the stem, opposite one another. Often smaller branches will grow in between the stem and a leaf. If cut, peppermint will grow again from the next highest leaf pair on the stem.

How to identify wild peppermint

Notice in the photo above the fine hairs all over the leaves and stem of the plant (click on photo for larger view). The pairs of leaves are opposing with smaller growths in between. You can often find small groups of flowers in between the leaves and stem near the top of the plant. If you rub the leaves between your fingers a very powerful peppermint smell is released.

Peppermint has many uses. It is used in natural food products as a flavoring. Its essential oils are used in perfumes, soaps, shampoo and food. It is also used in natural insect repellent formulas. Dried peppermint leaves make a great tasting tea. Peppermint and spearmint are also used in chewing gum and cough drops as a flavoring.

Peppermint can be used to relieve colds, fever and indigestion. It has been known to help fight headaches and stomachaches. It is a relaxant and improves sleep. It relieves nervous tension and helps fight insomnia. Peppermint can be a natural anti gas treatment. If taken either fresh or as a tea, relief comes within about 20 minutes.

Peppermint oil is also an antiseptic and antispasmodic.

Catnip, a variety of peppermint is known to relieve stress and helps improve sleep. Catnip is also a powerful mosquito repellent, if you can handle 500 stray cats rubbing on you.

Peppermint can be used either fresh or dried.

The mint family is a very healthy addition to your lager.

PostHeaderIcon Wild Foraging Series – Wood Sorrel In Your Back Yard

Wood Sorrel is a common weed that many of us around the US often mow down, pull out, poison, walk on and generally try to get rid of. It grows easily in your yard and garden. It is also just as happy growing in the forest.

Wood sorrel is easily identified by its three heart shaped leaves. It looks slightly like clover and is often sold as a Shamrock on St Patricks Day. The flowers bloom in Spring time and are normally yellow, but can also be found in pink, purple and white.

Below is a photo of wood sorrel growing at the edge of a cleared path in the forest.

Wood Sorrel, A Wild Edible Plant

Below is a close up view of a wood sorrel leaf stalk with its clearly distinguishable Shamrock like leaves.

Identify Wood Sorrel

Wood sorrel leaves may fold downward during rain or at night, as you can see a little in the first photo above. The photo was taken during a partly rainy day.

Wood sorrel, of the genus Oxalis, has been used by humans for thousands of years. Indians used wood sorrel for its medicinal properties. It also makes a nice addition to salads due to its slightly sour taste. Indians often used it on the trails as a refreshing thirst quencher.

Some medicinal uses are:

  • Treatment of nausea
  • Mouth sores
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Fever
  • Urinary Infection

And it was also used in the treatment of scurvy in old times. This is good information for survival enthusiasts. Wood sorrel has a refreshing taste, as mentioned above. It makes a nice addition to your list of wild edible foods for survival and disaster readiness. Wood sorrel is one of the most easily identified and common of the wild edible foods covering most of North America and around the world.

Wood sorrel contains oxalic acid, which is considered slightly toxic in large quantities. But so do spinach, collard greens, beans and rhubarb, among others. Oxalic acid is known to limit the absorption of calcium, but is considered generally safe for people with a normal, balanced diet.

Watch the video:

Note: The statements made on this page are not medicinal or doctor approved facts. This information is for educational purposes only. As with any herb, if you are taking medication, consult your doctor before trying it.

PostHeaderIcon Out on a survival week – experiments in survival and foraging

I am in the middle of a survival and foraging week. This week I am trying out experiments in survival and foraging for wild foods. I am conducting various experiments in food and water supply with a minimum of equipment.

So far I have made a Solar Water Distiller using some plastic wrap and a foam cup. The experiment was partly a success, except that the sun went down for the day and I did not get as much water as I had hoped. But on a sunny day the solar water purifier works quite well. In an emergency survival situation any clear plastic can be used to make the purifier and any container can be used to hold water.

I have also been blessed with a lot of wild foods to forage here in the area. Fresh wild salads foraged from the surrounding forest and meadows make for refreshing and healthy meals. Strawberries are out of season but the leaves still provide lots of vitamins in tea. Blueberries should be in season but due to a drought this year, the berries have dried up. But you can still steep the blueberry leaves in hot water for a healthy tea.

Other wild foods here in the mid Michigan forest are wild plantain, wood sorrel, wild peppermint and spearmint, pine needle tea, and of course fish in abundance.

Summer time is a great time of year to forage in the woods for wild edibles. Sadly the drought has also ruined the mushroom harvest this year, but there are plenty of other foods available in summer.

Watch The Do It Yourself World for updates on these projects and experiments.

You can also find videos posted on The DIY Youtube channel about these experiments.