When many people think of raising rabbits, the image of a cute and cuddly pet comes to mind. If that’s your only frame of reference for raising rabbits than beware as this article discusses a far more important reason for raising rabbits…raising rabbits for meat production. Raising rabbits is an inexpensive and potentially stealthy way to help your family become more food secure and self sufficient. Throughout mankind’s history, and in many cultures, domesticated rabbits have been valuable source of food. The following is a list of the Top 10 Benefits To Raising Meat Rabbits:
1. Rabbits are one of the most productive and economical livestock available. One rabbit can produce 6 lbs of meat on the same amount of feed and water that a cow produces only 1 lbs of meat. Think about that for a minute…600% more efficient than beef! The only livestock animal that can out produce the rabbit in terms of turning feed into meat is the chicken due to egg production.
2. Rabbit are prolific breeders. Because rabbits are prey animals; an animal that provides food for the higher level predators, they are biologically hard wired to be prolific breeders. Let’s face it, a rabbit’s primary functions in nature are to make babies and get eaten. Female rabbits are fertile 365 days a year unless environmental stress causes them to temporarily become infertile. Their gestation period is about 28 days, and a female rabbit can become impregnated again within 24 hours of giving birth.
3. Rabbits mature quickly. Again, genetically rabbits are hard wired to grow quickly. Baby rabbits, known as kits, wean at about 4 weeks. It only takes about 8 weeks for a rabbit to reach butchering weight. All this means that under an intensive and highly managed breeding program, a buck (the male rabbit) and 2 does (the female rabbit) can produce enough kits to give you almost 300lbs of meat a year.
4. Rabbits take up a relatively small footprint. Depending on the size of the breed, adult rabbits only need from 1.5 to 5 sq ft of space, each. Typical meat breeds need from 3-4 sq ft to be productive. Because of this small foot print, many rabbits can be raised in a given space that larger livestock, like say cows, pigs, or goats.
5. Rabbits can be raised where other livestock can’t. Even though there is a nationwide movement in the US, there are many places where raising livestock is prohibited, or highly regulated. Because of the small foot print and zoning laws in many municipalities, rabbits can be raised where other livestock can’t. Often rabbits are allowed even in places that ban chickens. Except if caught by a predator a rabbit is nearly silent…no noises to bother the neighbors into calling the authorities. If I was unlucky enough to live in a town that didn’t allow me to raise meat rabbits, I might just have to have a few rabbits as ‘pets’ and because they are also relatively clean, so they don’t generally raise any red flags with neighbors or city officials.
6. Compost. Rabbit create a prolific amount of poop. This by product is excellent for composting as it is high in nitrates. Composted properly you are left with high quality amendment that can be used in your garden, or sold to others.
Production Bonus Benefit: Raising Rabbits With Children. Home rabbit production provides an additional benefit to those with young children. By including your children in the rabbit production process your kids should come away with a greater appreciation of what it takes to put meat on the table and the fact that meat doesn’t really come from a Styrofoam package.
7. Rabbit meat is high in protein. In fact, out of all the readily available protein sources (store bought and farm raised), rabbit meat has the highest percentage of protein. A 3oz serving of rabbit contains about 24.7 grams of protein. The proteins in rabbit meat are also easily digestible.
8. Rabbit Meat is very lean. Rabbits do have fat, but unlike beef and other livestock, the fat is not distributed throughout the muscle but is primarily deposited around it’s internal organs. In fact, a 3oz serving of rabbit meat contains about 6.8 grams of fat which is about 1/3 of the fat that you’d find in a comparable serving of beef. Because of this, there is actually a risk of starvation if you eat nothing but rabbit meat but as part of a well rounded diet it’s a very lean, healthy protein.
9. Rabbit meat is low in cholesterol. If you suffer from elevated cholesterol, rabbit meat is a good alternative to other protein sources. 3oz of rabbit meat contains about 70mg of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommend no more than 300mg a day, and no more that 200 if you already suffer from heart disease.
10. Rabbit meat has a very mild flavor. Unlike beef, rabbit meat does not have a strong flavor. This means that it makes a very good canvas for other flavors in the dish, much the same way chicken does. This makes rabbit meat a very versatile food to cook with.
Culinary Bonus Benefit: Rabbits have a high meat to bone ratio. Meat rabbit breeds have been developed to yield a high meat to bone ratio. This means that there is more edible meat on the carcass of a butchered meat than can even be achieved with chickens. A live 5lbs rabbit will dress out at about 3lbs.
I have been raising rabbits for meat production for about 5 years. I have learned a lot along the way. There is something fulfilling about knowing exactly where my food has come from and what is in it. I’ve also gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the process. I enjoy going out and spending time with my rabbits. My family makes fun on me, because I talk to them and interact with them but just because a creature is livestock doesn’t mean that it should be treated as, well…livestock.
While rabbit isn’t on the daily menu for most of us here in the U.S., rabbit recipes abound especially in the culinary traditions of Northern Italy and France. If you can’t find a rabbit specific recipe that sounds good to you, do not fret. Because of it’s versatility, you can substitute rabbit in many recipes that call for chicken. Low (temp) and slow (time) are the watch words when cooking rabbit.
I’ve gained a lot of perspective while raising rabbits both on my family’s nutritional needs and the mechanisms we use to fulfill those needs. When raising my rabbits, I endevour to provide them with a healthy and happy existence before they are butchered, dispatch the animal humanely and utilize as much of the rabbit as possible. The rabbits we consume are making the ultimate sacrifice for me and my family, and it is the least I can do for them. If you are looking for an alternative source of meat, during the good times, as well as the bad, raising rabbits is something you should seriously consider.
In the Prepography post entitled “Top 10 Food Dehydrating Tips“, I detailed the benefits of dehydrating your own food. One of the most important pieces of equipment for dehydrating in the modern era is the store-bought dehydrator. Shocking, I know! There could be several reasons why you haven’t already run out and purchased a new dehydrator based on my sage advice. The price of a new one could be outside your budget. You could be a cheapskate and don’t want to spend the money. or, you could be one of those industrious types that thinks you could build one cheaper, and better than one bought from a store. Well, this post is for you and will help you make a simple dehydrator.
In fact, you can make a simple dehydrator using nothing but household items. It will by no means be as good as a Nesco or Excalibur but it will; given time, patience and attention, get the job done. Gathering the parts to make a simple dehydrator will take longer than actually putting it together and making it operational.
WARNING: Your home-made dehydrator won’t be the subject of an ISO testing regime so make sure to use it only in a fire-safe area that you closely monitor during the dehydrating process.
Step 1: Select a large cardboard box. A suitable box should be able to stand on its end for easy access. Make sure not to use a plastic box as there may be the risk of off gassing when the dehydrator heats up or melting. Line the inside with aluminum foil using tape. Double sided tape works best for this step.
Step 2: Insert and mount your heat source, with the cord running through the side or back of the box. Try and keep the hole as small and insulated as possible, in order to cut down on heat loss. A word on the heat source, use a bulb that gives off heat. A 75w or 100w incandescent bulb works great. An LED, or CFL bulb won’t give off the necessary heat. Make sure there are no exposed wires in contact with the aluminum foil, as moisture may accumulate inside your box.
Step 3 (Optional): Insert and mount your fan. Place the fan opposite your heat source. Adding the fan to the process will help with the dehydrating process by circulating the warm air and helping remove moisture from your food.
Step 4: Cut holes in the sides of the box to slide your wooden slats or dowels through to place your racks on. Some suggest that you could use PVC for the rack supports but due to the possibility of off-gassing, my suggestion is to use wooden dowels, slats or a freestanding rack.
Step 5: Make vent holes at the top to allow the moisture to escape. You want to use numerous smaller holes, rather than fewer larger holes. The reason for this is that moisture will collect on the areas where there is no ventilation.
Step 6: Insert the cooking thermometer into the side of the box, at about the level of you rack supports. Ensure you can read your thermometer from the outside of the box. If you were to place the thermometer inside you would have to open the box to read it and would lose valuable heat in the process.
Step 7: Place your newly constructed dehydrator in a fire safe area.
Step 8: Place your food on the racks and mount inside your box.
Step 8: Close your box, turn on your new dehydrator and let the food dehydrate! Make sure to monitor your dehydrator for safety during the dehydration process.
Some notes on using your home made dehydrator. First and foremost, do not leave you dehydrator unattended; safety, safety, safety. The next thing is managing the heat. Different foods need to be dehydrated at different temperatures, for best results. The table below shows you the proper temperature for different foods:
|Fruit & Vegetables||130°-140° F|
|Meats||145° F or higher|
You can manage the heat inside the box, by leaving the box slightly open or closing it up.
Water is a key component of survival. Water security falls under more than one section of the Full Spectrum Preparedness doctrine. This article highlights how water is integral in the Health & Medical Preparedness function of the FSP doctrine. Based off the ideas in the manual “Where There Is No Doctor” by David Werner, Jane Maxwell, and Carol Thurman (free download) or purchase as paperback, it details:
1) Prevent diarrhea, worms, gut infections – Filtering and boiling water before using it for drinking, or hygiene, will help kill germs and bacteria that can cause diarrhea, worms, and gut infections. In third world countries, and in areas hit by disaster these are the leading causes of sickness, and death, especially among children.
2) Prevent Skin Infections – By bathing often, in clean, treated water, you can help prevent skin infections like impetigo, ring worm and folliculitis; among others. These highly infectious infections can run rampant through a population that doesn’t bath properly, and often, as part of their hygiene practices.
3) Prevent wounds from becoming infected – The danger of a wound becoming infected is greatly reduced if it is washed thoroughly with clean water and soap, as soon as possible. Infected wounds can lead to other problems, all the way through death, if not treated properly.
4) Treat Diarrhea and dehydration – Diarrhea is one of the largest cause of death throughout the world. The diarrhea itself does not kill the patient. It is the associated dehydration that ultimately kills them. When struck with a bout of diarrhea, drink plenty of water/liquids.
5) Treat Illness With Fever – The high temperatures associated with fevers can lead to complications that staying hydrated might prevent. By maintaining proper hydration, you can circumvent situation that can lead to more dangerous condition as well as reducing discomfort and symptoms.
6) Treat A High Fever – Along with the dangers of dehydration, a high fever can also pose a threat from the temperature itself. If a fever goes over 103 degrees F, brain damage and organ failure can result. Soaking a patient with a wet, cool compress can help reduce a dangerously high temperature and increase comfort. In extreme cases, submerging the patient in a cool bath, or ice may mean the difference between life and death.
7) Treat Minor Urinary Infections – This common ailment can strike men and women of any age. They can be very painful, and lead to life threatening complications. Mixing 1 cup of water with 1 tsp of baking soda then drinking can help alleviate some of the discomfort. While it may not be the most appetizing of combinations, the mixture may be able to help lessen the intensity of a urinary tract infection or UTI.
8) Treat Coughs, Asthma, Bronchitis and Pneumonia – Again, maintaining proper hydration is key to good health and healing. When you have a cough, asthma, bronchitis, or pneumonia drink plenty of water. You can also help loosen mucus by inhaling hot water vapors
9) Treat Sores, Impetigo, Ringworm, Cradle cap, A Pimple – If infected by one of the aforementioned ailments, the best solution is to washing with soap and water. using a wash cloth, lightly scrub the area. This will help remove dead and infected tissue, and promote faster healing.
10) Treat Infected Wounds, Abscesses And Boils – Once an infection gets deep enough, more than simple washing may be called for. Soaking in a hot tub, or using a hot compress can help alleviate discomfort, as well as draw out infection from wounds, abscesses and boils. If done early enough, lancing, or excising the infected area may not be necessary.
11) Treat Stiff/Sore Muscles And Joints – Taking a hot soak, or using hot compresses will relieve pain from muscles and joint made stiff by over use and stress. The increased blood flow they generate will also help quicken the healing process.
12) Treat Strains And Sprains – By alternating cold and hot soaks, you can hasten recover from strains ans sprains. The cold soak will lessen swelling, improving comfort, and the hot soaks will increase blood flow, which helps with recovery.
13) Treat Itching, Burning, Or Weeping Skin Irritations – The pain and irritation from rashes caused by things like poison ivy and poison oak can be lessened with a cold compress.
14) Treat Minor Burns – After receiving a minor burn, immediately hold the effected area under cold water. This will help numb the area, and reduce any swelling that may occur.
15) Treat sore throats or tonsillitis – The most common home remedy for treating a sore throat, or infected tonsils, is to gargle with a warm salt water solution. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt per glass of water, and gargle. Ensure you get the solution to the very back of your throat.
16) Acid, Dirt or Irritating Substance In Eye – If you get a foreign substance, or chemical in your eye, thoroughly flush the eye with cold water at once. Continue to do so for 30 minutes.
17) Treat Constipation Or Hard Stools – Drinks lots of water can help hydrate your dietary tract. This will help treat, and prevent, constipation and hard stools.
18) Treat Cold Sores Or Fever Blisters – At the first sign of a cold sore, or fever blister, hold an ice-cube on the inflamed area for several minutes. This will help keep the swelling down, as well as numbing the associated pain.
While water can help prevent and heal, as this list highlights, hydration is the common thread in recovery. Proper hydration is only attainable if you have a clean, safe source of water. To learn more about water preparedness, click on the Prepography links below:
If you have spent any time at all in the on-line Prepper community, you have no doubt seen discussion from people who have plans for bugging out into the woods and living off the land in the event of a crisis. These discussions lay out optimistic projections of grabbing a BOB and hoofing it into the woods. There, the authors will hunt and forage in order to survive whatever crisis they are escaping. The reality of bugging out into the woods will most likely be considerably different than those author’s fantasies. We’ve been discussing these wilderness fantasies recently and have come up with 5 tips on bugging out into the woods. Bugging Out Into The Woods
1) Have A Plan, Otherwise You Are Just A Refugee.
Having a vague plan of bugging out “into the woods;” essentially taking an extended camping trip, is not a real plan. We were all raised on movies where the city slicker was dropped unexpectedly into the wilderness and through some difficulties learned to live off the land but there are very few people who have the necessary skills to survive this kind of life long term. Even Dick Proenneke had a plan that included regular resupply from civilization. Being part of some mass exodus with no prepared location waiting for you makes you a refugee, no matter how well equipped you are. If you own the property you are bugging out to a plan might include building shelter ahead of time and laying in an extensive collection of prepositioned caches. If you don’t own your property your choices are retreating to public lands with every other mountain-man wannabe or trespassing on other people’s lands. With resources running thin either situation can get you in legal trouble if there’s still some rule of law or worse. If your plan includes unnecessary trespass and theft then you aren’t a prepper…and may not even be a survivor…you’re a criminal.
2) Be prepared to be hungry
There are a couple of T.V. shows on currently that show exactly how hard it is to procure adequate food for yourself while in the woods even if you’re a ‘survival expert’ or have one advising you. On both “Fat Guys In The Woods“, and “Naked And Afraid“, after just a couple of days the common thread is extreme hunger. These types of shows inevitably end up focusing more on human endurance than survival skills because that’s the best you can hope for without a plan…to endure temporarily. Remember also that these experts have an idea of where they will be filming and have time to prepare for local conditions and study up on seasonally appropriate foraging targets. In a long-term crisis, you can pack in only so much food so eventually, you will run out and have to rely on foraging. Also, you had best be prepared to open your mind to a whole new level of food options; many of them less than palatable and unless foraging for food is a skill that you practice daily you will quickly find yourself in an endurance situation. How long can you go without adequate food before you get hurt or sick and then things are likely to get worse.
3) Be prepared to be miserable.
Have you ever been on an extended camping/back-packing trip? As enjoyable as it is, remember how good it felt to go home. This is especially true after trips which it rained buckets or was extremely cold or hot. There may be no going home when bugging out into the woods during a long-term crisis. While effective, primitive fire making techniques truly stink in all but the most ideal circumstances. When you are tired, wet, cold, have low morale, and have not been eating well fires are very difficult to get going. Living in a primitive shelter for extended periods isn’t comfortable, either. Shelter building, hygiene, water purification, protection from the elements, bug repellant, fuel collection and every other facet of life is harder in primitive conditions.
4) Be prepared to fight for resources.
If you live near a major population center, be prepared for hundreds, if not thousands of people having the same idea as you. There may be masses of uninformed people heading in to the woods just like you and they will be scared, hungry, desperate and dangerous. They will be competing for the very same resources that you are. One of the sad repercussions of the Great Depression was that across the entire country wildlife populations were decimated from over hunting and this wasn’t even a WROL situation. The deer herd in my state was down to less than 5,000 (est. 2.5M now, with modern management) in the mid 30s. Think about that for a moment…an entire state’s deer herd hunted to near extinction and the U.S population was 41% of what it is today. You had better be prepared to face people in the woods who are willing to kill to take what they need to survive.
5) Be prepared to die.
Unless you already practice a primitive lifestyle, be prepared to die in your bug out location in the woods and if you are a lone wolf survivalist then be prepared to die alone. Even those well versed in primitive living will face a multitude of dangers in the wilderness and if your bug out location is a ‘wilderness area’ surrounded by sizeable population…heaven help you. Under normal circumstances transitioning rapidly to a primitive lifestyle is difficult…in the midst of a crisis the challenges are likely insurmountable. In a long-term crisis situation, without the support a modern infrastructure, they can be life threatening. A simple medical condition can turn into a mortal danger. There was a reason why many pioneers died at a reasonably young age.
Don’t take this article as a condemnation of bugging out into the woods. It has its place in any survival plan…but the key word there is PLAN. Plan ahead to provide yourself the tools, supplies, skills, knowledge and elbowroom you’ll need to survive. We are simply trying to point out that it is not the best course of action, under most circumstances. If you must take that course, make sure that you have exhausted all other options.
Providing better nutrition is always a concern, even in the best of times. In a SHTF scenario, it can literally mean the difference between life and death. Food security/preparedness is one of the 10 tenants of the Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine, and providing better nutrition is a key component of that. In the interests of helping you improve your food preparedness and security through good times and bad, Prepography presents the Top 10 Thoughts for Better SHTF Nutrition:
1. Think Chicken & Eggs – It doesn’t matter which came first as Chickens provide the cheapest animal protein, pound for pound, to produce. Their meat is low-fat, and high in nutrients. They also produce eggs, which provide additional nutritional benefits. Chicken meat and eggs can be prepared a variety of ways for consumption and storage. Even egg shells can be boiled and finely ground then added to food for additional protein.
2. Think With Your Guts – Actually, think about guts. Liver, kidneys, hearts and even blood are can be very nutritious. Many people turn their noses up at them for a variety of reasons and liver was considered to be dog food until the Great Depression but there are many ways to prepare them to make delicious meals. One of the axioms in food prepping is that if you don’t eat it normally you won’t eat it in times of crisis so give some of these other protein sources a try with the following recipes.
3. Think Beans, Peas, Lentils And Other Legumes – These provide a good, inexpensive source of protein. That’s why legumes are a key staple in most Preppers’ pantries. Not only are these inexpensive to buy but they are easily purchased in bulk quantities and if properly packaged they can last for decades. Also, don’t forget include legumes in your garden. They are easily grown and help fix nitrogen in the soil for the benefit of subsequent and companion plantings.
4. Think Green Leafy Vegetables – Kermit the Frog is famous for quipping “it’s not easy being green” but it also isn’t easy staying healthy without your greens. Green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin A, iron and other essential minerals. These veggies promote good vision, support regulating genes, help maintain healthy skin, enhance the immune system and help produce red blood cells. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables to ward off vitamin A deficiency which can cause impaired vision and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases.
5. Think Corny – Unprocessed corn (maize) is deficient in niacin, which is problematic when corn is used as a staple food in a diet. Soaking unprocessed corn in pickling lime, aka nixtamalizing, provides better nutrition by freeing up Vitamin B3 and reducing mycotoxins (a type of fungus that can be dangerous). Additionally, nixtamalized corn is more easily ground and has a better aroma.
6. Think Whole Grains – Rice, wheat and other grains are more nutritious without the outer husk removed. They are important sources of nutrients, minerals and dietary fiber. Whole grains can also help with reducing the risk of heart disease, gastric problems, weight management, and can help during pregnancy and fetal development. Since whole grains are less processed than other grains they also tend to be less expensive.
7. Think About How You Cook Your Food – Boiling meats and vegetables removes nutrients, decreasing their nutritional value. Steaming is a great alternative to boiling vegetables but if you must boil a food, use as little water as necessary and drink the water you used to recoup some of your lost nutrients.
8. Think About Wild Fruits, Berries & Nuts – Foraging for wild fruits and berries can provide you with a rich source of vitamin C and sugars. While this is a very seasonal method of finding a low-cost foods, it is a very good one and there are preservation methods to store your harvest. Nuts are a great source of protein that typically don’t take much energy to acquire. In addition to improving your nutrition, nuts, fruits and berries also provide variety to your diet and fruits and berries can be surprisingly satisfying to your sweet tooth if it hasn’t been spoiled recently by processed sugars.
9. Think Like An Iron Man – If you find yourself eating a diet deficient in iron, find ways to add iron back in like cooking your meal on/in cast iron. Some folks have gone to very creative, sometimes dangerous extremes to add iron to their diet by doing thinks like adding a horseshoe to the bottom of a non-iron cook pot or placing iron nails into water enhanced with citrus (acidic) squeezings to leach the iron out of the nails…this isn’t a recommended technique for obvious reasons.
10. Think Like a Baby – Baby food is nutritionally dense, well-balanced, portable and has a long shelf life. Adults and children of all ages can benefit from these foods if they can be purchased affordably. These also make a safer diet to use for a member of your group who has become ill and is unable to eat rougher foods. Mix with cereals or other ‘gruels’ as your invalid becomes more robust.
Bonus 1: Think About Your First Meal – Studies have shown that breast milk will help protect babies from a long list on illnesses. Additionally, it helps babies from developing allergies. In times of crisis, breast-feeding my also be the only option for providing proper nutrition for newborns and toddlers. If yours is a formula family…consider this more natural alternative.
Bonus 2: Think about Cassava Leaves – If your environment is tropical or subtropical think cassava. Young cassava leaves provide good nutrition due to high content of protein, minerals and vitamins. They can contain up to 7 times the protein as other vegetables. In addition to reportedly increasing stamina, they also contain vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, calories, phosphorus, protein, fat, carbohydrate and iron. Used as herbal medicine they are said to aid or relieve rheumatism, headache, fever, fester and diarrhea.
It bears repeating, at this point, that your brain is the most important tool in your preparedness and survival inventory. Creating and executing a proper nutritional plan is key to living a long and healthy life. The ideas listed above should not be looked on solely as emergency options. They should be looked at as practical, everyday ideas that can be integrated into your daily diet as well as your preparations. Not giving consideration to your nutritional needs as you develop your supplies could easily lead you to be missing key ingredients or components. Even if you are able to scavenge some of what is needed above, chances are it will be of inferior quality, or you will be fighting others for a limited resource. Plan and lay in your supplies now for better nutrition later and so that when the SHTF you aren’t left wanting and searching for other options.
I read Chris Kyle’s book “American Sniper” and think it is one of the best books out there. By all accounts, Clint Eastwood and company have done it more than justice with the recent movie version they created. On the heels of its release, there has been a fire storm of progressives* decrying the effort and besmirching the memory of Chris Kyle; a true American hero. They’ve called him a hate filled racist, said he reminds them of fictional Nazis, and more. It has raised a bit of debate on the matter. Well, I have the short answer on the subject for you Prepography readers:
You can take the stance that all snipers are equal because they shoot. In which case you are also saying that every ideology behind the shots are equal. Or, you can take the stance that “why” the sniper shoots is what ultimately matters. In which case you are making a moral judgement behind the ideology of why the shot was taken.
In the end it comes down to this; either you think the ideologies that leads to death camps and killing children with drills is equal to the ideology that values life and individual freedom (even if it doesn’t do it right all the time), or you think there is a moral difference between them.
You may ask why I am bringing this up on a preparedness site? Well, I’ll tell you. The morals that guide a person are what matters. If you can not make the moral distinction between differing ideologies, cultures, and values, as is the case for the former, I want to know. I want you to declare it to the world, for all to see. Shout it from the rooftops, and post about it on every blog you haven’t been banned from. I want people like me to know who will be a threat when the time comes. If you are the latter, I want to know because if you are not an ally, you, at the very least, will not be an overt threat should the SHTF.
A bit dramatic; probably. It is what it is, though; deal with it.
Andrew’s Note: I recently took my Navy veteran father to see the movie and it’s one hell of a movie…but make sure to read the book!
* Henceforth, I will no longer be referring to leftists as “liberals”; they will be referred to as “progressives” or “leftists”. They are the polar opposites of what classical liberal thinking is about, and I will no longer be an accomplice to the abuse of the English language. It is an ingrained habit, so if I slip and use the term liberal when progressive or leftists fits better, I apologise.
My recent Prepography article “8 Tips For Using A Chainsaw” gave the basics on using a chainsaw. Having a sharp chain is very important for safety as well as productivity. Chains will dull very quickly, especially if cutting an extremely hard wood such as hedge. Knowing how to sharpen a chainsaw is an important skill to have. Not only will it increase the effectiveness of your efforts, it will save you money to boot because you’ll use fewer saw lubricating oils and won’t have to pay someone else to do it for you.
1) Determine Your Chainsaw’s Gauge – You will need a rotary grindstone or chainsaw file that matches the size of the chain’s teeth. You can also buy a chainsaw sharpening kit that has everything you need in it, like the one to the right. Typical sizes are 3/16, 5/32 and 7/32 of an inch in diameter.
2) Thoroughly Clean Your Chain – Use a brush and solvent to clean dirt, dust and debris off the chain.
3) Inspect Your Chain For Damage – Look for chipped, broken, or bent teeth. These will make a chain dangerous to use. If a tooth is worn short, it is at risk of breaking during operation, which is extremely dangerous to the operator. Replace any chain that is worn or damaged.
4) Place Your Saw On A Solid Surface – For safe and accurate filing your saw must be stable and the blade firmly supported. Use a vise to clamp the bar while allowing the chain to rotate freely is the best option.
5) Locate Your Start Point – The lead cutter on a chain is the shortest cutting tooth on the chain. If you can’t locate it, just take a permanent marker and mark a tooth as the starting point.
6) Set Your file Into The Notch On The Front Of The Cutter – The cutter is the angled “tooth” on the front of the flat surface of the chain link. Your file should exactly fit the curve of the face of the cutting tip. The top 20% of the file diameter should be above the top of the tooth. The file should be at the same angle as the cutter. Also check your saw’s specs to find out what that correct angle is. Usually it is a 25 or 30 degree angle
7) Push The File Across The Face Of The Cutter – Using a twisting motion push the file across the cutter. The twisting motion help get the metal filings out-of-the-way. Do this on every other tooth until you have made one full rotation of the chain.
8) Reverse Sides And Repeat – Once you have sharpened all the teeth from one side, switch to the other side of your saw and repeat step
9) Check The Clearance – Check the clearance of your depth gauges which are also known as the rakers. These curved hook shaped pieces link the cutters. They govern the amount of wood that the cutter removes on each pass. They should be about one tenth of an inch lower than the cutter. A special tool called a Depth Gauge Tool is available online or from chainsaw dealers or hardware stores. You can eyeball it if you don’t have one but the tolerances are pretty small so use the depth gauge if possible.
10) Oil The Chain & Check Tension – Saturate the chain with oil. Then, check the tension to ensure it is not too loose, or tight. Adjust as needed, and you should be ready to cut again.
Winter is almost upon us and freezing temperatures are already here. Part of the Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine is recognizing the dangers we may face and being able to address them. One of the major dangers in cold weather is frostbite. Knowing first aid for frostbite is an important first aid skill to know once freezing temperatures arise.
Frostbite is a medical condition that results from the freezing of the body’s tissue. It usually affects the parts of the body that are farthest from the heart and large patches of exposed skin. Frostbite is characterized by the constriction of the skin, as blood is shunted to the body’s core in an attempt to maintain body temperature. The affected tissue freezes, and ice crystals form inside the body’s cells. As the tissue thaws, symptoms range from pain and itching (1st degree) to deep tissue damage (3rd and 4th degree), which can result in the necessity to amputate or excise dead tissue. Death can occur if left untreated, so it is important to seek medical assistance and know first aid for frostbite.
Get out of the cold. If you can not, do not start treating frostbite until you reach safety.
Before treating frostbite, remove any jewelry, as swelling will occur as the tissue thaws.
Submerge the affected area in body-temperature water. Change the water as it cools down. Try to keep the water at a constant temperature.
Use body heat for treating mild cases of frostbite, if water is not available.
Wrap damaged tissue in sterile bandages to protect the affected area from infection. Wrap affected digits (fingers and toes) in individual wrappings.
Remember in any case of frostbite, seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.
Using a chainsaw to cut wood is an essential part of maintaining a homestead and providing your home with an alternative heating fuel source. Both of the aforementioned are integral parts of the Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine. Whether you are an experienced chainsaw user, or a novice starting out, any time of year is a good time to cut wood. In my book, now is the best time, though. Late fall is upon us, and we’ve had our first hard freeze. This is for a variety of reasons:
With this in mind, here are Prepography‘s:
1) Select a model that is dependable , that you can handle, and is the right size for what you are cutting.
Chainsaws come in a variety of sizes, from a number of manufacturers. Like anything else you buy, “you get what you pay for”. There are some inexpensive reliable models, as well as some more expensive unreliable ones. Consumer reviews are great at helping you decide which one is best quality and best suited to your needs. Chainsaws range from small electric models with 12 inch bar blades, suitable only for cutting small limbs, to huge industrial ones with large bow blades used for lumberjacking. A novice would not want to start with one of the latter, as it would be too unwieldy for them. Conversely, they may find the smaller one incapable of doing what they want. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to comfortably lift the chainsaw, and the blade should be about 1/4 to 1/3rd larger than what you want to cut. Engine power and size, known as HP and displacement, are usually dependent on the blade size, and are matched at the factory. The biggest reason all this is important is safety. When using a chainsaw, use the proper tool for the proper job.
2) Get familiar with your chainsaw.
Before you even start your chainsaw, read the operators manual. Book learn the tool and its operation. Know how to maintain it. Learn proper safety precautions for using a chainsaw. Thanks to the internet, there are videos, and online courses you can watch. Your local chainsaw dealer, or big box DYI store might even offer training courses as well. Lacking all this, find someone with experience to teach you. Even if you are an experienced chainsaw user, it is good to periodically review the manual; lest you become complacent or forget something.
3) Do a maintenance and safety check on your chainsaw.
Before using a chainsaw, check to ensure everything is in proper working order. Check all the fluid levels, and ensure that you are using the proper ones. Chainsaws use a special mix of small engine oil and gas. There is also specially weighted oil for use in small engines. Using improper fuel and oil will cause damage to your chainsaw. In addition to the fluids, make sure everything is mechanically good on your chainsaw. Ensure nuts and bolts are tight. Ensure the chain is fitted properly and sharp. Not only is all this important for the long life of the chainsaw, but safety as well. Once you’ve done all the above, fire up your chainsaw and make sure it runs properly. Be sure to always use two hands when operating your chainsaw.
4) Starting your chainsaw.
The proper methods of starting your chainsaw is as follows:
5) Suiting up and safety gear.
When operating your chainsaw, be sure you have the proper safety clothing and gear. At a bare minimum, you should have proper heavy-duty outdoor work attire, safety gloves, safety glasses/goggles, and hearing protection. Additionally, you could wear a leather apron and chaps to protect your torso and legs. A safety helmet and face shield also improves safety. Other gear that improves safety are straps or chains with a come-a-long, for securing things being cut and a maul and wedges in case your blade gets bound in a cut.
6) Know your cuts.
|There are four basiccutsthatare made with a chainsaw. The cuts are:
Each of these have considerations addressed. Where will the cut piece will fall? Are there any obstruction, like power lines, buildings and vehicles. What is the proper length I need to cut the wood in for transport and usage? These are some of the more prominent questions that need to be asked. You may come up with others, each time you cut wood.
|Beware of Kickback When making Your Cuts: This occurs when the blade of the chainsaw catches, comes to a sudden stop and throws back toward the operator. Most of the time this happens when the upper tip of the cutting bar gets in to the cut. So, avoid getting this part of the blade into the cut if possible. Having a firm grip on your chainsaw, a firm stance, and a stable location will help in the event of a kickback.|
7) Inspect the area and have a plan.
After you’ve taken your properly working chainsaw in to the field and before you make your first cut, have a plan. Inspect the area you will be working in and what you will be cutting any hazards you should know about. Hidden barbed wire, rocks, or other obstructions could cause you to trip, with a running chainsaw. Or, they can be embedded in the tree you are cutting; hitting which can ruin you chainsaw and/or cause you injury. If felling a tree, look for lean, excess growth, or obstructions. All of these could cause the tree to fall an unexpected direction. If cutting a fallen tree, or limbs, check to see how they are laying. Make sure that when you cut a limb, the whole thing won’t shift, because you’ve just taken a support out from underneath it.