Practical Self Reliance: Pine Bark Bread

Ashley at Practical Self Reliance has written a good, long post on making bread from pine tree bark., at least in part. The ratio of wheat flour to pine bark flour is about 3.5 to 1. We live where pine trees are some of the few trees that will grow without irrigation, so I’m always on the lookout for ways that they can be used to supplement food in an emergency. Most people are aware that you can get pine nuts from appropriate species. Fewer may be aware that you can make pine needle tea which is high in vitamin C and A. Ashley documents the harvesting of the bark and bad effects on the trees themselves, grinds the bark into flour, and then makes some bad-tasting crackers and some good-tasting yeast bread.

Having the option to add pine tree bark would help in the less likely scenario where you are faced with a major TEOTWAWKI style disaster that occurs past the time that you can grow or store more wheat for the year, and you need to stretch your food reserves until foods can start growing again in the spring. Ashley also has a post How to Eat a Pine Tree for using other parts of the tree. You may just find that you like the flavor. My first taste for pine-flavored food came from drinking Retsina – an Aleppo Pine resin infused white wine – at Greek restaurants. Some can’t stand the flavor, but it goes well with some strong flavored dishes.

Bark breads are a staple of Nordic indigenous cuisine.  The Sami of northern Sweden harvested pine bark and mixed it with reindeer milk in their traditional breads.  Since the richest sami had the most reindeer, they’re also the ones that harvested the most pine bark.  It wasn’t out of desperation, but out of a quest for flavor.

In the case of birch bark, the historical evidence is clear that the papery outer bark was used to make food storage vessels, while the nutritious inner bark was ground into birch bark flour.  In the case of pine bark, the records are a bit less clear.  There are some sources that say only the inner bark was used, and others that claim only the outer bark was used.  Since I’ve been able to find recipes using both, I’ll share them all with you.

The outer bark of a tree is mostly there to protect the tree from the elements and doesn’t contain much in the way of calories.  Calories aren’t the only reason to eat something, and pine outer bark seems to have other benefits.  Pine outer bark may contain compounds that help keep food from spoiling or important nutrients that were scarce in a northern climate.

According to Nordic Food Lab,  though pine outer bark is not calorie rich, it does “contain condensed tannins called procyanidins that are being researched for potential health benefits. Aromatic hydrocarbons such as terpenes and phenols which give pine its distinctive warm, woody scent also deliver antimicrobial properties, perhaps useful for blending with other flours to preserve their shelf life.”

These days, nutritional supplements are made from pine bark, and you can buy bags of powdered pine bark online which claim that “Pine Bark is used worldwide for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. When used regularly, pine bark may support healthier cardiovascular and circulatory function.”

The outer bark was harvested from a section of the tree to create a “window pane” of exposed cambium.  Over time, the bark slowly healed over the wound, and since the inner cambium was not harvested the tree continued to grow.  Such trees could be harvested multiple times over the course of their life.  There’s evidence of window panning on 700+-year-old pine trees in northern Sweden.

Obviously, if you’re going to harvest the bark of a tree, know that you are damaging the tree in a way that will impact it for hundreds of years.  This particular pine tree has a partially dead top, and it’s very near our wind turbine.  It’s going to be cut in the spring, so it’s a good candidate for bark harvest.

I started out using a draw knife, but it’s actually pretty difficult to use one just on the surface without really digging into the cambium.  Since I only needed a small amount of pine bark flour, I was able to just use my hand to flake off chunks of shaggy exterior bark from a large pine tree growing on our land.  No need to window pane a tree and cause it damage in any case.

Initially, I tried to grind the pine bark flour in a food processor, but it was in vain.  The exterior bark is quite hard, but not brittle enough to fly apart.  After several minutes the motor was heating up and had almost no pine bark flour to show for it.  The bark, even exterior bark, needs to be dried out thoroughly before grinding.

I put the bark chips in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.  The house smelled nice and toasty, like the warm scents of the high desert pine forests of my youth.  Once the bark was toasted it ground much more easily.  It would be possible to dry the bark out over a low fire in a similar way, which would make it much easier to grind by hand.  When the pine bark was dried, I put it back into the food processor for grinding…

 

Rainier Redoubt: Zello Emergency Communications

Rainier Redoubt has posted a brief article on using the Zello app for emergency communications. Zello is available for iPhone, Android, and for Windows PCs. The Zello app does require an internet connection, so why might you use it? In a disaster that doesn’t destroy cell towers or backbone fiber links, you may still find that you can’t make outgoing phone calls because all of the circuits are busy. You may be able to text or email, but using Zello may be your easiest voice option to contact someone outside of your area. It may also be available if authorities have blocked phone calls. If yu have radio mesh applications for emergencies in your area, you may still be able to get internet service even if the cell towers are down, but you’ll need to know about its availability.

Zello is an application startup located in Austin, Texas. The application emulates push-to-talk (PTT) walkie-talkies over cellular and WiFi networks. The app is available for Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Windows PC, rugged mobile devices and two-way radios. Zello is free for personal use, while the Zello@Work application is free for up to five users. For more than five users Zello@Work costs $6.00 per user / per month. Perks that Zello@Work offers include private networks, dedicated servers, management interfaces for users and channels, higher security, cloud history and tech support.

Zello turns your phone into a walkie talkie and works anywhere in the world as long as you are connected to the Internet! Please note however that the Zello app cannot function without an Internet connection. According to the Zello Support page: “Zello cannot work without internet access, but if both you and your contact are within one network, the voice will be transferred using the shortest way – WiFi network in your case. Internet will be used only to log into Zello network and do some service data exchange, it will be less than 1 kiB per second.”

Once connected, users can join channels and instantly send voice messages or photos, and the app even works over older 2G networks.

…Zello made the news in June 2013 when Turkish protesters used it to circumvent government censors. As a result, Zello was the top most downloaded application in Turkey during the first week of June 2013. In February 2014, it was blocked by CANTV in Venezuela. Zello issued workarounds and patches to overcome the blocks to support approximately 600,000 Venezuelans who have downloaded the application to communicate with each other amidst protests. It “has been one of the most downloaded applications in Ukraine and Venezuela.” In April 2017, the Roskomnadzor instructed Russian Internet Service Providers to block mobile access to Zello. Under Russia’s data privacy law passed in 2016, all companies processing the personal data of Russian citizens are obliged to store it on servers within the country’s borders for a half of the year and provide it to law enforcement if necessary. Zello had more than 400,000 users in Russia. In August 2017 during relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Zello became a popular method for communications between volunteer rescuers and people stranded by the widespread flooding. The app received over 6 million signups in one week as Florida residents prepared for Hurricane Irma. In 2018 Zello had over 120,000,000 subscribers world-wide…

Organic Prepper: Winter Is Coming – Vehicle Emergency Kit

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper has a good article up on making sure that your vehicle is ready for emergency situations – Winter is Coming: Here’s Your Vehicle Emergency Kit Checklist

Many of us spend far more of our waking hours away from home, busy with work, school, or chauffeuring our kids to their various activities. Because of this, a vehicle emergency kit is vital. In recent winters, there were two notable situations during which a well-stocked kit would have been beneficial. During one scenario, a freak snowstorm struck the Atlanta, Georgia area. Because weather like this is such a rarity, the area was completely unprepared, officials didn’t have the experience or equipment needed to deal with it, and traffic gridlocked almost immediately. Hundreds of people were stranded as the freeway turned into a scene reminiscent of The Walking Dead, with bumper-to-bumper vehicles at a standstill. Those without food and water in their vehicles went hungry, and many people ran out of gas as they tried to keep warm. No matter how comfortable you are with winter driving, in a situation like this, you are at the mercy of others who may not be so experienced.

The take-home preparedness point here is that it doesn’t matter how great of a driver you are in the snow, whether or not you have moved to the tropics from your winter chalet in Antarctica, or whether you have huge knobby tires and 4WD. Over-confidence in your own ability can cause people to forget about the lack of skills that other folks have. Many times, people end up in a crisis situation through no fault of their own and are at the mercy of other people who have no idea what they are doing. (source)

The next situation had a lot more potential for a tragic ending, had it not been for the survival skills of a father of 4 small children. A family of six had taken off for a day of snowy adventure when their Jeep flipped over in a remote part of the Seven Troughs mountain range in Northwestern Nevada. James Glanton, a miner and experienced hunter, kept his family alive and unscathed for two days in the frigid wilderness using only the items from his vehicle and the environment. Due to his survival skills and the things he had on hand, none of the family members so much as suffered frostbite while awaiting rescue. You can learn more about the hero dad’s resourcefulness HERE.

Before adding any preps to your vehicle, make sure that it is well maintained because not having a breakdown in the first place is a better plan than surviving the breakdown. Change your oil as recommended, keep your fluids topped up, and keep your tires in good condition, replacing them when needed. As well, particularly when poor weather is imminent, be sure to keep your fuel level above the halfway point. If you happen to get stranded, being able to run your vehicle for increments of time will help keep you warm. Build a relationship with a mechanic you can trust, and pre-empt issues before they become vehicle failures at the worst possible time.

What’s in my vehicle emergency kit?

Disaster can strike when you least expect it, so now is the time to put together a kit that can see you through a variety of situations. I drive an SUV, and I keep the following gear in the back at all times. You can modify this list for your amount of space, your environment, the seasons, and your particular skill set. Some people who are adept at living off the land may scale this down, while other people may feel it isn’t enough. I make small modifications between my cold weather kit and my warm-weather kit, but the basics remain the same. While you should have the supplies available to set off on foot, in many cases, the safer course of action is to stay with your vehicle and wait for assistance.

Some people feel that having a cell phone means they can just call for assistance. While this is a great plan, and you should have a communications device, it should never be your only plan. What if there is no signal in your area or if cell service has been interrupted? What if you simply forgot to charge your phone? In any scenario, calling for help should never be your only plan. You should always be prepared to save yourself.

How-to-Create-a-Vehicle-Emergency-Kit1-300x236

My SUV is small, but I manage to fit a substantial amount of gear in it, still leaving plenty of room for occupants. The tub on the right hand side just has a couple of things in the bottom and serves two purposes. It keeps the other tubs from sliding around, and it contains shopping bags after a trip to the grocery store. You can also place purchases on top of the other containers if necessary. I have two 18 gallon totes and a smaller 10-gallon tote, with individual components in small containers within them.

Tools

tools

knife

First Aid

first aid

I use old Altoids containers for small items like band-aids and alcohol wipes. They stand up far better than the flimsy cardboard boxes those items come in. (Also, that means we get to have Altoids.)

altoids tin

Light

The police flashlight is also a taser.

Individual Kits

individual kit

It’s sort of hard to see but in the photo above, the container is a stocking hat for warmth and a waterproof hat that will also provide some sun protection. Inside the container are two pairs of socks, a rain poncho, a Berkey sport bottle (it can purify up to 100 gallons of water), and a space blanket. Each of these is topped off with a hoodie in warmer weather. In the winter, gloves and scarves replace the hoodie.

Shelter

shelter

Obviously, THIS is not the Taj Mahal of tents. But it fits easily into a backpack and would be sufficient for day-to-day emergencies in warmer weather.  In the winter, and anytime we are going further from home, we have a bigger sturdier tent that we put in the vehicle. This would be used in the event that we were stranded but for some reason, unable to use the vehicle for shelter. Generally speaking, your vehicle will provide better shelter and safety than a tent.

Emergency Kit

All of the above mini-kits go into one big 18-gallon tote.

Emergency kit

Also included are a few different types of rope, a compass, a road atlas (I like the kind that are spiral-bound), WD-40, duct tape, and a 4 pack of toilet paper. There is room for 2 warm blankets folded on top.

Food

I use a separate smaller container for food and hygiene items.

food

Our food kit contains graham crackers with peanut butter, pop-top cans of soup, pop-top cans of fruit, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, garbage bags, spoons, forks, a survival guide, and plastic dishes. Not shown: ziplock bags of dog food in single servings…

Click here to keep reading at The Organic Prepper. More categories and itemized kit list through link.

ARRL: Emergency Net Activated for Mexico Earthquake. 9/8/2017

From the American Radio Relay League, Emergency Net Activated in Wake of Earthquake in Mexico:

The National Emergency Net of the FMRE — Mexico’s national Amateur Radio association, has activated on 7.060 MHz (the Net also may operate on 3.690 MHz) to handle any emergency traffic after a late evening earthquake occurred off Mexico’s coast. Radio amateurs not involved in the earthquake disaster should avoid those frequencies.

The potent magnitude 8.2 earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific Coast — the strongest in 100 years — has resulted in multiple fatalities so far, including 23 in Oaxaca, seven in Chiapas, and 2 in Tabasco. Rescue and recovery efforts are under way to free victims trapped in the rubble.

The tremor was felt around Central America. At 0500 UTC, Jose Arturo Molina, YS1MS, reported feeling a strong temblor within a few minutes of the earthquake in Chiapas, which is near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. In Honduras, Antonio Handal, HR2DX, located on the North Coast, also reported feeling the quake.

The Central American Network operates at 7.090 kHz, and Guatemala at 7.075 MHz. No reports have been heard yet from Guatemalan radio amateurs. In Southeastern Mexico, FMRE has a link to the WL2K Network with capacity to cover Mexico and Central America. — Thanks to IARU Region 2 Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, for some information