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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seattle Bear Problem

Several Seattle neighborhoods are experiencing a current 'elusive black bear' problem. It seems one or more black bears have been repeatedly spotted in different residential neighborhoods and also in play areas of parks, but then quickly disappear into the green belts when pursued.

The bear(s) have been lucky so far to leave the area before animal control agents can arrive. Attempts to trap the animals have been unsuccessful so far. They have been living off garbage and animal pet food, and possible even some small pets. When bears hang out in residential neighborhoods, there is a very real, highly potential danger of a person and a bear coming into contact in a manner that will have an unfavorable outcome. Namely in the form of an attack.

Once an attack occurs, the bear(s) will be trapped and put down, aka killed, without a trial of how stupid the individual victim might have acted that might have provoked the attack. This is not to say all victims are stupid, however it should be noted that if you have a bear problem, you should exercise caution and not take unnecessary chances like going for a walk in the evening just before or after dark, or early in the morning, especially along green belt trails in your area.

Bears typically graze over a five to ten square mile area. If you see a black bear in your residential area, immediately call the police and animal control.

Do not approach any bear, no matter how cute and cuddly it appears. And yes, baby bears do have mommies. If you are out and see a bear, return to inside your home for refuge, or get back into your vehicle (so long as it is not a convertible) and keep your distance. All you amateur photographers, please do not try to see how close you can get with your 'point and shoot' cameras for that wishful "National Geographic" pic to send to Uncle Bill. Hello, anybody home! Bears are wild animals. Without a cage, only distance is your security. By the way, no one wants to see more cute baby bear photographs taken up close by dead 'point and shoot' photographers.

Also, sneaking up close from tree to tree and trying to hide behind trees to get a better look does not work. If you can see the bear, the bear can see you. If you run, you can become part of the food chain. Besides, you can not outrun the bear anyways, really! Even downhill!!! If you encounter a bear at a distance, just back away slowly, keeping that distance or more. If this does not slow the approach from the bear, continue to yell at the bear as you back up. Throw rocks, branches, and anything that you can to extend your distance between the two of you as unfriendly.

Contrary to popular opinion, bears rarely attack and in the rare case when they do, they can be beaten back by flailing both arms and fists and kicking hard at the nose of the bear, the most sensitive part of the animal...However, use all missiles (aka rocks and branches and small logs) and all weapons (meaning all weapons - which are extensions of your personal body first, such as small logs, big rocks, pans, purse, binoculars, camera on strap, little rocks, hiking sticks, etc. or real weapons such as handguns, rifles and/or shotguns; then, use your fists and shoes as a last resort), to distract and disturb the animal into running for it's life. By so doing, you may not only save your own life but you may scare the bear from attempting to approach another human being later. With black bears, do not play dead...ALWAYS, ALWAYS fight with all of your might!

If you are out and about with others and see a bear, promptly (but without running) form a closed 'group' and yell at the bear(s) and make noise with pans or whatever noise makers you have. Bears are not stupid. They can see when they are outnumbered and are not desired. Most of the time they will 'mosey' on down the road or back into the underbrush. Then, when the bear is gone or moving away from you, collectively, move away from the area and call for Animal Control.

As a reminder, do not walk your pets without a leash. If a dog sees a bear, it's first instinct is to bark and aggravate the bear, then to run back to you for safety, bringing a bear in tow, running right behind it.

If you have outside pets on fixed leads in your Seattle yard, be aware that they may put up quite a fuss when a bear is first seen, however this pet may become a meal for a hungry bear due to the shortened lead. You might want to consider bringing outside pets inside during bear problems, while bear(s) are still on the loose in your area.

For a good video with a few other good ideas on how to keep you safe:


Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Perfect Storm is Brewing!

One of the articles at the Millennium-Ark site was particularly well worded. The only part I am not sure of is that it mentions pending farm legislation, which I have not found information on yet, but the remainder of the article seems valid based on current headlines.

The name of the article is: “We have the perfect storm brewing”

The author shares 8 reasons for concern and possible proof that worse times on food availability are in the immediate future:

(1) There is no “bridge credit” for farmers to get their crops in this year due to the credit crisis, resulting in many farmers not planting this season;
(2) Some farmers in Colorado, Texas, and possibly some other states are not planting this season because they cannot get as much for their crops, as their costs for production are greater than their returns;
(3) Some foreign countries are shutting down exports of food to the U.S. (which is a net 15% food importer currently) due to their own crop failures and food shortages in their own countries;
(4) The devaluing of the dollar, will not buy as much foreign food as it used to, with the high probability of runaway inflation once foreign countries are no longer willing (or able) to subsidize our debt, which will further decrease purchasing power and increase food prices;
(5) There are no export restrictions on American farmers, who can and do sell their crops to foreigners who will pay more for them than Americans will, with the result that some of our production is going overseas and not to us;
(6) There is pending legislation that may soon may make it much more difficult to farm and/or may shut down organic farms, farmer's markets and possibly even home gardens in the near future;
(7) There is still a potential of a flu pandemic with potential quarantines and consequent cessation of shipping and the ability to shop;
(8) California is shutting down some irrigation to farmers in several farm areas of California. One area in particular, the Sacramento Central Valley, has been affected, whereby there is the killing off the source of much of the fruit and vegetables there, in order to save ‘the allegedly endangered smelt!’

These circumstances are documented in mainstream media, and point to restrictions in the availability of some food items in the fall of 2009; and with what will be available, many will be more expensive.These circumstances are the setting for "an apocalyptic food shortage of biblical proportions." She states that “only the very blind and arrogant among us” could fail to see the immediate and obvious necessity for the home production and storage of food and other necessities.

I cannot emphasize or stress more strongly now the need for getting in food storage and for planting a garden this year while food and seeds are still available and are still affordable. But, the fundamentals, underscored by the conditions outlined above, suggest that this may well be the case.

The author points out that if it turns out not to be the case, “you can have a good laugh at my expense and tell me to go and get a tin-foil hat, but the apocalypse is still coming.” Consider any extra preparation time to be a gift.

She suggests that the window for preparation is closing rapidly, possibly this summer and fall. So get your preparations done now if you have not done them.

No one can prepare for you. There are too many of us and there are too many members from third world countries who are physically unable to prepare. Your neighbor or family members cannot prepare for you, either.

Also, those of you planning to raid your neighbor or a family member's larder when times get tough, this is not only improbable, but evil. Your neighbors or family members do not have the responsibility or the resources to prepare for you and your neighbor, and or your neighbor’s neighbor.

She feels the window of opportunity is slamming shut fast. Don't let it slam shut on you!

Her final Note: If you have been preparing, good for you! It is always fun to preach to the choir. But, once you have your house in order you can and should go out and help others to prepare. You are not fully prepared until your neighbor is prepared!

[I think, she has made some good points!]

To see the full article, go to:


I have bumped into this site in the past and have had a few people rave about this site before, but I had not had the chance to go to the site and do an in-depth review until now.

What a gold mine of information this site is. Stan and Holly Deyo have a chronological listing of world catastrophic events listed according to the most recent dates, going backwards in time, with articles on each of the events. I am greatly impressed with the volume of good information.

I highly recommend everyone go and check out this site and tag it as one of your favorites. Lots of data work has already been done here. If you are an aficionado of statistics and the data that backs them up, you will salivate over this site. Kudos to Stan and Holly!

The site address is: http://standeyo.com/

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Introductions and preparedness thinking

My name is Jonnalyhn and I currently reside in Tacoma, WA. My home is a smaller urban lot very close to Tacoma Mall, so I can address some pieces more specifically to folks who maybe feel disconnected from those who have 2 or more acres and do the mini-farms. This year I am putting in raised beds with several perennials and small fruits, and with the help of my roommates and friends, organizing my various hoards of supplies or things into an accessible whole. A longer term goal is to be able to have my own rabbits to have meat, fur and wool for spinning, plus possibly a couple of chickens.

I'm a single mom, which is part of the reason my introductory post is so far from Bill's welcome aboard--I've simply been finishing off some garden prep, a wedding commission, and a competition entry for my costuming, as well as a major overhaul of my fabrics/notions/crafts stash with the help of my beau, in addition to the modern job that pays the bills. I'm happy to note that several of my new fruit plants (rhubarb, blueberries, bush cherries, plum and pear trees as well as currants) are doing well. Plus the flowers intermingled for fragrance, beauty and some edible or other uses are showering me with growth!

Because of my parent's influence, I have a grounding in many 'old-fashioned' skills and concepts, which I've done a lot of adding to because of my interest in historical recreation. I joke that these aren't hobbies, but lifestyles, and transpose a lot of the skills and knowledge from my personal foci to the concept of being a prepper. It's challenging at times to balance work, family, beau, hobbies and interests with beliefs, but worth it.

To me, being a prepper goes beyond having a year's supply of food, water and monies, but knowledge and skills-whether comfortable enough on your own, or with having done basic practices and having access to the references to remind you for the rest.

In the event of the apocalypse, or massive transport to pre-history, what skills and talents do you have that would be useful? That is to say, what can you do from scratch or near-scratch? These are things you have done, or have read/studied enough about that you could probably work it out after a few tries.

To give you a feel of this, here's my personal list:

I can:

make fire without matches, lighters or liquid fuel.

make candles and basic oil/rush lamps.

Gather shellfish and edible crustaceans or seaweeds and cook it.

Turn cedar bark into clothing, shelter, rope, nets and other accoutrements (or make tapa cloth in the islands).

Rett flax and other fibers, make a drop spindle and spin said fibers or collected wools or longer fur combings, my spinning isn't super thin or long (ok, it's lumpy right now), but at that point it would get better quickly!

Make cards and do tablet weaving for straps or other items or twist/braid twine.

With help, construct a basic loom and do very plain weaving for cloth.

identify many edible wild plants, and as well as medicines or dyes, and can prepare tinctures, ointments, salves and tisanes (teas).

sow, raise, and reap if I have the seeds, and know the basics of seed storage or other propagation methods for cultivating.

deal with some of the more common garden pests and problems organically.

dry, can, or otherwise store a large variety of foods.

grind grain, catch yeast, or have a sourdough starter for raised breads.

make bread, cheese, butter and yoghurt.

make soaps.

brew wine, beer or mead, and distill alcohol to help make the base for tinctures.

knap stone and could extend this into making basic bladed tools.

dress out a deer or other beasts, including plucking and cleaning birds.

make additional supplies from the rest of the animal carcasses-water bags, sinew thread, leather or fur, horn and bone and feathers (pillows and mattresses instead of straw).

make a basic bone needle, awl, or the basics of drawing wire.

make clothing, including dyeing and ornamentation in different styles-from underclothes, shoes, pants, shirts, coats and dresses.

do various styles of quilting for bedding-using fabric scraps or recycled garments or brand new cloth.

tan my own leather or furs, although I've not done it in a long time.

weave grasses, rushes, withies or pine needles into baskets or mats, but I'm better at mats.

make basic clay dishes and know how to make a basic kiln/stove (although have not actually done that).

make paper, quills, and ink.

use base medical knowledge for humans and most domesticated livestock.

construct, without help, basic shelters such as teepees (although help setting it UP is needed), larger pavilion-style tents, leantos, or roundlodges. More permanent types of shelter are possible with more hands.

do very plain utilitarian treen (woodware)although others could probably do it quicker and with a more graceful end product.

Can make basic furniture with help on cutting larger pieces, or can lash or peg up smaller pieces (trestle-type table, bench, rope bed).

Find directions without a compass, if I have to.

Make a solar or earth oven and cook with other alternative methods.

Can make and use several types of weaponry-bows & arrows, spears or javelins, rope lines, traps, and at least use swords, axes and guns. I can also make a trebuchet or catapult.

create and bind books, do calligraphy in several basic styles and illumination (illustration)

sing, know several dance styles, make some musical instruments and construct/teach/play several different games. Keeping yourself, family and friends amused keeps cabin fever and conflicts at bay!

create harnesses for animals to help with tasks.

use Morse code, with some refreshers

If I went to look at my personal library or notebooks, I could probably add a few more items to this list, which can look overwhelming. Yet I began with the basic home ec style know-how and built up from there, and you can too. Remember that balance is important, having the goods but not the knowledge or skills to use them doesn't help, nor does the opposite position, and that family and/or friends are necessary to life as well.

After all, we need both men AND women to continue.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sources for Identifing Edible Plants

There are a few books specifically written for Northwest plants, but many other sources are very useful here in Washington also. Some of my favorites on identification of edible, medicinal and poisonous plants are the following sources:

A few good Books to check out (alphabetically listed):

All That the Rain Promises, and more…A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms, by David Arora
Backyard Harvest, by Marjorie Blanchard
Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West, by Muriel Sweet
Deadly Harvest – A Guide to Common Poisonous Plants, by John M. Kingsbury
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies, by Kershaw
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, by Gregory L. Tilford
Edible Wild Plants – A North American Field Guide, by Elias and Dykeman
Edible Wild Plants and Herbs – A Pocket guide, by Alan M. Cvancara
Edible Wild Plants and Useful Herbs, by JimMeuninck
Feasting Free on Wild Edibles, by Bradford Angier
Nasco Field Guide to Edible and Useful Wild Plants of North America, by Myron C. Chase
Gather Ye Wild Things – a Forager’s Year, by Susan Tyler Hitchcock
How to Live Through a Famine, by Dean L. Rasmussen
Mountain Flowers of the Cascades and Olympics, by Harvey Manning
Mushrooms of North America, by Roger Phillips
Northwest Coastal Wildflowers by Visalli and Ditchburn and Lockwood
Northwest Foraging – A Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest, by Doug Benoliel
Northwest Weeds – The ugly and Beautiful Villains of Fields, Gardens, and Roadsides, by Ronald J. Taylor
Plants of Power – Native American Ceremony and the Use of Sacred Plants, by Alfred Savinelli
Plants of The Pacific Northwest Coast, by Pojar and Mackinnon
The Complete Outdoorsman’s Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by Berndt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby
The Edible Wild – A complete cookbook and guide to edible wild plants in Canada and North America, by Berndt Berglund and Clare E. Bolsby
The Rocky Mountain Wild Foods Cookbook, by Darcy Williamson
Western Edible Wild Plants, by H.D. Harrington
Wild Berries of the West, by Betty B. Derig and Margaret C. Fuller
Wild Harvest, by Terry Domico
Wildflowers of Mount Rainier by Laird R. Blackwell
Wildflowers of Washington, by C. P. Lyons

Three specific Videos:

Trees, Shrubs, Nuts and Berries, (VHS video) by Jim Meuninck and Dr. Jim Duke
Edible Wild Plants, (VHS video) by Jim Meuninck and Dr. Jim Duke
Cooking With Edible Flowers and Culinary Herbs, (VHS video) by Jim Meuninck, with Debra Nuzzi and Mikulyuk and Hampstead

A few good Websites to check out:

http://www.wildfoodadventures.com/newsletter.html (not free)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thinking of Eating Your Way Through the Woods?

Spring has Sprung and the Northwest’s wild edibles are now found in abundance.

For a nice Spring salad, try mixing Siberian Miner’s Lettuce, with Miner’s Lettuce, young Dandelion leaves, Wood Sorrel or Red Sheep Sorrel and some Clover. Add a vinegar and oil salad dressing. This combination tastes great. Later, as the berries ripen, they can be added for additional flavor.

Sorrel is sometimes referred to as sour grass. This is due to the oxalic acid salts found in the plant, so you do not want to over eat too many at any one setting. Also, Dandelion plants that are mature and receive a lot of sunlight produce bitter leaves and roots, which must be boiled first to rid the milky bitterness from the plant. Once boiled it makes a good pot herb however.

‘Tis the season’ to learn what is edible and not, but do so with another Prepper that has some experience in identifying what is edible and what is poisonous. There are some look-a-like types of plants that are deadly if you eat the wrong plant. Always rule on the side of caution.

Two such deadly look-a-likes are Camas (the wild onion) with the blue flowers and the “Death” Camas with the white flower. Their flowers are in bloom now for about two more weeks. Only pick Camas when in bloom. Another plant to be cautious with are Queen Anne’s Lace (the wild carrot) and it’s deadly look-a-like, the Poison Hemlock plant, which is non-forgiving and deadly. Without a knowledgeable guide, avoid both of these, Camas and Queen Anne’s Lace.

While speaking of avoiding getting poisoned, mushrooms are an especially non-forgiving fungi. Do not take chances with any mushroom. Even experienced “shroomers” occasionally make a mistake, so rule only on those mushrooms with absolute positive identification. Books with photographs are helpful, but should not be considered sufficient for positive identification. There are many, many poisonous look-a-likes. When in doubt, leave it out (of your pot and/or your stomach)! Do not even try to do a taste test for good mushrooms. Poison does not always taste bad, mushrooms or otherwise.

There are many good books at the public library on edible and poisonous plants. Also check out your favorite book store on the subject.

I make it a goal to learn a few new plants each year. Over the last twenty plus years in Washington State, I have learned to identify about 50 edible plants. Each year, I renew my plant knowledge to help me grow more confident in locating habitat for my favorites.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cell Phone Vulnerabilities

Think your cell phone conversations are private? Think again!!!

This is worth watching, even if you think it's unlikely to happen to you.

Washington Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Washington Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.