Survival Pine Nut Harvesting

Imagine you could eat 3.5 ounces of something and get 28% of your daily protein, 30% of your calcium, 17% of your potassium, 14% of your daily fibre and 62% of your magnesium requirement. Oh, and also 670 energy supplying calories. Bonus: you get to pick it off a tree, which will continue supplying this bounty for the next 25 years or more.

The Korean Pine is the most popular pine nut species beign grown in northern areas of the US and Canada and produces the largest nut.

Pine nuts can do this for you. In all there are about twelve useful nut producing pine trees found across Asia, Siberia, Europe and in the Southern United States. While all of the 100+ pine trees found around the world produce seeds, approximately 20 species produce nuts large enough for collecting however, as I mentioned above, only about 12 are important nut producers.

In the US nut collecting from native species is done exclusively with pinyon pines. The bulk of commercial pine nuts sold are collected in the wild.

In the northern sections of North America pine nuts are collected from imported varieties, with the Korean species, Pinus koraiensis, probably being the most popular because of the size of it’s nut. The Korean Pine can be grown in Zones 2-9, so it is extremely tolerant of cold climates.

You can find a great round up of the various species of pine nut trees typically available for purchase here on Rhora’s Nut Trees web page.

For a great round up on pinyon pines and harvesting their nuts try this article by Hank Shaw.

Pinyon Pine Nuts

Pinyon pines are slow growing so the likelihood of you harvesting from your own tree are slight. However, if you are on property you expect to stay on for a few years, you might want to consider starting some Korean Pine. As mentioned on the Rhora’s site, hybrids are now becoming available which can bear fruit in as little as 6 years, and they bear nuts that are up to 30% larger than non-hybrid types.

If you are establishing a homestead, whether rural or urban, you should consider planting some of these trees.  They do reach a considerable size, but so do the pine and spruce that I see growing beside many a suburban ranch style home around town. And if you have a couple of acres, not only are you able to provide a tasty and nutritious product for your family, you could also be creating a small supplemental income. Pine nuts are selling for up to $40.00 a pound. At a farmers market, where you can advertise “locally produced,” and offer 4 oz packages, you could be making a lot more than that.

Pine nut trees are definitely multi purpose, providing shade, wind protection and landscape interest as well as a tasty and nutritious food product. They fit in perfectly with the Survival Harvesting principle of work once, harvest many.

I’ve dropped the nutrition table I gleaned the opening paragraph information from down below. Consider pine nuts. Remember, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

Pine Nut Nutrition Table




Harvesting Forest Grown Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms growing wild in a woodlot

I like the idea of working once and reaping benefits for an extended period of time. That is why mushrooms are appealing. Whether you find them in the wild or on your property, you can expect to see them popping up again in more or less the same place year after year. Search once, reap many.

Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms present you with a similar situation when you cultivate them yourself. If you have a little bit of space in your backyard, or a small bush lot, you can inoculate some hardwood logs and expect to reap a mushroom harvest for 3-4 years.

I am not going to go into the details of hunting for and picking wild mushrooms. There are a ton of varieties and sometimes the differences between toxic and okay to eat are subtle. I will provide a couple of guides. The Canadian one is suitable for a lot of the US, from the east coast to the west. Of course, the Eastern Forests guide is as titled.

Here is a 346 page guide to the edible and poisonous mushrooms of Canada.

Here’s one for the Eastern US forests.

I had a lot more trouble finding a large, comprehensive guide to US mushrooms than Canadian. Since there are a ton of agricultural research stations, university agricultural extension services and local groups, I suggest you try a Google search with your location and “wild mushroom education” in the search field. I tried it with “ohio wild mushroom identification” and got lots of results. Try a similar search and add the words “guide” or “class.” I am sure you will find something useful and worth your time.

What I want to focus on in this post is raising edible Oyster and Lions Mane mushrooms. These are two of the easier ones to cultivate. And I want to focus on doing it out of doors using logs.

Basically you need to find the right type of logs, fresh enough cut that they are still holding ample moisture. You have to inoculate them with mushroom spawn and place them in the right locations, or so arranged that they get the right amount of shade. Depending on the weather you may need to water the logs periodically. But essentially you walk away.

You maximize harvest by creating the right kind of log environment and using the spawn efficiently. In the wild, mushroom spawn may find the right environment to reproduce or it may not. If it does, it may be in competition with the spores from some other type of fungi. If there isn’t ample shade, then as the seasons progress, it may get too much sunlight. If there is an extended dry spell, then the small struggling mushroom may just dry up and blow away. By lending a hand to Mother Nature, we help ensure survival, and many meals for the future.

Oyster mushrooms in an efficient, prolific way, from the Cornell U Cooperative Extension

One of the simplest ways to get a harvest of mushrooms is to use the Oyster mushroom Totem Method of cultivation. Click on the picture to get a concise two page explanation of the complete process.

The same method can be used for Lions Mane. Select fresh logs about 2 feet long and around a foot thick that were cut before the trees leafed out. Keep your cuts at right angles to the length because you are going to stack the pieces on top of each other.

Cut the logs in half again (about a foot long) and slice a 2″ disk from the outer end of one of them. Put a sharpie mark on the logs where the cuts are going to go so that you can put the pieces back together as exactly as possible. This will make secure stacking more likely.

Placement of log sections and spawn for Oyster Mushroom production

Put a piece of cardboard on the ground to keep the wood from being contaminated by native fungi and put some spawn on the cardboard. Now stack the longer  piece of log on the cardboard. Put more spawn on the upper end of this piece and stack the 10″ section on top of it, lining up the marks. Place more spawn on the upper surface of the second piece and then top it off with the two inch disk.

Cover the whole structure with the kind of brown paper bag used for garden waste and loosely tie it in place. The bag will waste away but you can remove it in six months or so if you wish. You want your logs to be well shaded so that your log sections don’t dry out too much. If your logs are surrounded by evergreens you can be sure they will receive shade summer and winter. All you have to do is check back in the fall or the next year and start picking. This type of setup will continue to produce for up to four years.

Shiitake mushrooms are a little more complicated, but not much. I will examine how to grow your own supply of Shiitakes in another post.


Survival Information Resources Harvesting

Being prepared for survival means being knowledgeable and having access to survival information

A little something different for today’s post. If you are trying to increase your chances of survival or self-sufficiency, you are going to need to learn a ton of stuff.

Whether you learn it now, or take it step by step once you have the need depends on your time and resources. A strong case can be made for getting your food, water, shelter and energy preps in place before working on self-sufficiency. That way you are covered for low risk, high frequency disasters (like a job loss or extended health emergency), moderate risk and moderate frequency disasters (like hurricanes, winter storms and power loss) and even higher risk low frequency disasters (like a pandemic, or extended grid down situation).

The amount of food, water, energy and shelter you have available determines how well you will be able to cope. More preps means longer coping ability. But the more self-sufficiency you can arrange for today, the better prepared you are for all contingencies. And generally, the more self-sufficient, the lower your cost of living, so the more flexibility you have even if nothing happens.

Whatever your situation, or inclination in terms of how you prepare for life’s surprises, I am pretty sure you will find something here to engage your interest and help you achieve whatever your aim is.  Below is a list of  downloadable documents (PDF format) that address the following:

Energy – Efficient Wood Stove, Paul Wheaton’s Rocket Mass Heater

Food Resources – Nuts and Nut Trees, Integrated Farm Design, Tree Crops, Mushrooms -Shiitake/Oyster/Wild Edible, Microgreens, Aquaculture, Small Game Traps, Bird Harvesting, Fish Traps,

Bushcraft – Ropes and Cords, Huts and Thatching, Food and Water, Firemaking etc. Making Traps, Snares and Deadfalls, Camp Life

All of these items are available as free downloads as of the time of writing. No guarantees. You know how the internet is. If you find a broken link, let me know and I will find an alternate source or find something as good to replace it with.

Hope you enjoy going through these documents. There is a lot to learn. I am working on preparing more pages like this. Check back periodically and look under the category of “Information Resources.”


High efficiency cook stove uses twigs and small pieces of wood


Construction Manual for the Firewood Saving Household Stoves


Paul Wheatons Rocket Stove Mass Heater

Tree Crops

Nuts, fruit, berries, and inner bark are some of the tree parts you can eat

Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture

Nuts and Nut Trees



Farm Design
A Manual on Integrated Farming System

Growing Wild Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushroom Production on Logs
Growing Shiitake Mushrooms




Microgreens provide high nutrient levels, easy to grow, quick production ,,,whats not to like



Growing Microgreens and Baby Greens for Home Use
Guidelines for Growing Microgreens




Rabbits being driven along 2 miles of wings that converge into the final 100 foot diameter corral.

Game Drives



Small Game

More Than a Rat Trap

Bird Traps

.Propagation of Aquatic Game Birds
Dove Trap
Wild Bird Capture Techniques


Plants and fish in a low cost, easy to build setup

Small Scale Aquaponic Food Production



How to Make Various Types of Traps and Pots


Snares tend to be more effective than other types of traps because you can set many of them quickly

Deadfalls and Snares A.R. Harding
How To Make It: Rabbit Trap is Easy to Build
Rappahannock Taking Devices: Traps, Hunting and Fishing


The Ten Bushcraft Books of Robert Graves
Camp Life in the Woods – Tricks of Trapping – Trap Making


Survival Water Harvesting – Rainwater

In a previous post I talked about going through a very dry spring and watching the level of our dug well drop almost out of sight. We made some changes to our lifestyle. Showers had specific phases. The wet yourself down phase which was about 15 seconds of running water. The lather up phase which didn’t use any water and the rinse off phase which used about thirty seconds of water with my buzz cut, and a little longer for my wife whose hair was shoulder length.

We were getting bulk water from the local water treatment plant for a rate I was willing to pay and we were doing our laundry in town. As a final step we added a trickle tank to our water system and that made things much easier.

The stand lifts the water supply thirty inches off the ground so we have a gravity supply for our garden watering

The last thing we did was set up a rainwater harvesting system. The image a left shows one of our totes now, in the depths of winter, with the downspout removed and the tote empty. Replacing the downspout  will have to be an annual ritual until I add some additional downspout and a bypass line.  This was kind of a quick and dirty job and I learned my lessons along the way. The tote will have to be covered to prevent algae growth. I need to fabricate a dirt diverter to keep the interior of the tote a little cleaner and I am going to install a proper hose and piping system to make the garden watering process simpler and hopefully automated.


There are tons of online instructions on how to set up a simple system like this, and lots of info for more complicated ones, so I will just let you know about my experiences and then give you some links. As I already said, a simple set of covers to block out the light would pretty much eliminate the growth of algae. Some lightweight plastic sheeting would work. Something that can be zip tied to the framework would allow removal if necessary and would be handier and last longer than plywood. Located out in the country, with my totes out of sight behind buildings, I don’t have to worry about looks too much. But if I wanted to fancy it up, I know a source of rough sawn cedar planks where I can get seconds. I also know a source of cedar slabs from a lumber sawing process that I can get for free. I would be tempted to go that way. In addition there are made for purpose covers available or it wouldn’t be hard to make your own. See the link at the end of this post for an example.

The concrete blocks on edge present the strongest surface to the 4″ x 4″ load spreaders

My garage (shown in the photo above) is relatively new and the soil around the foundation is not particularly compacted, so I took an extra step to ensure the weight of the tote wouldn’t cause any settling. You can see in the photo that I used patio stones as bases for the concrete blocks I used under my 4″ x 4″ pressure treated legs.

Placing the blocks on edge provides the strongest foundation for the load spreading blocks. I do not expect any shifting of my tote support with this arrangement.

The final height of the tote gives me an excellent flow rate, just from gravity. You can see in the first picture that it is easy to stick even a five gallon plastic pail under the nozzle. Below is a closer look at the way I constructed the tote support.

The legs go inside the 2 x 8’s and there are two additional cross beams under the tote.


There are plenty of different ways to get your own tote rainwater harvesting system. Here are some links to different ideas:

Large Rainwater Harvesting System

Collect Rainwater with a DIY 275-Gallon Rain Cube

Rain Harvesting Setup Completed: 2,300 Gallon Capacity

Full Bore System – Solar Powered

Tote Cover, Hand Made

Survival Water Harvesting – Trickle Tank

I never really worried about water supplies until last year. On our couple of acres in the country we have a dug well. It’s only twelve feet deep, but normally holds six feet of water. We’ve been here for four years and never had any problems, but last spring it was very dry in our part of the country.

Running water, when you need it. One of your top three survival priorities

Our well got down to about 13 inches of water. We were able to get bulk water from our local towns water treatment plant for $10.00 for 1,000 imperial gallons. That’s about 1,200 US gallons for $8.10 US. I was okay with that. We used it for the garden. We went into town for laundry. We managed okay.

We finally got some rain, but I was a little concerned about how close we came to a dry well. Of course, the problem isn’t really the well drying out, though that was always a possibility. The big concern is having a demand for water that outruns the ability of the well to replace the water flowing out of it. They do have a solution for that. You install a trickle tank. 

The image below shows you what it is, but check out the link above to get the finer details.

The trickle tank fills with a slow draw on your well and has a 150 gallon reservoir to meet your daily needs.

We could use water during the day and as soon as we used more than a few gallons, the system would start drawing water from our well at a very slow rate. The 150 Gal. tank could meet all of our shower, laundry, washing needs and it refilled at a slow enough rate it never outpaced our wells ability to refresh itself.

Of course, we do store water against power outages. I always have a couple of full 15 gallon food grade containers. And we have a hot tube outside. I know for a fact the water in it will stay at least warm for a couple of days…good for washing. And if push comes to shove, we have a little garden fish pond that holds about 1000 gallons. The veggies and flowers would just love to get a taste of that water I am sure. However I must admit that I really like the idea of of that 150 gallon trickle tank full of water that has gone through the filter and UV light. Even in a power outage, the water has already been treated.

Just to be sure I have covered off all of the obvious I will mention that you can access the water in your hot water tank, if you have no power. Best to get a short length of garden hose a few feet long. That will allow you to conveniently fill water containers even though the tank outlet is only a few inches off the floor. The tanks tend to be full while the power is on so you have a lot of head. If you have a 30 gallon tank, you will probably be able to easily get 25 or more gallons out of it.

I also try to have one or two cases of bottled water on hand. Single serving bottles of water are extremely convenient for quenching thirst, moderate hygiene maintenance requirements and are easily transported.

Next post I’ll talk a little more about the rainwater harvesting system I installed, using two 250 gallon totes. And we will look at what you can do if you have no rain gutters, or even no roof.

Wild Geese – Corral Trap Capture

The Canada Goose has been an important food source for indigenous peoples for millenia.

Wild geese have been an important food item for people from the earliest times. They are found around the world. Geese remain a common target of hunters, wherever the taking of geese is permitted. Typically they are hunted with shotguns. However I am going to be talking about methods of taking geese that were used prior to the arrival of gunpowder, specifically the corral trap.

Shortly after breeding. for up to three weeks in mid July to August, geese (and other waterfowl) moult. That is they lose their flight feathers. During this time they typically take to the water. At this time it is possible to herd them towards a previously constructed corral consisting of long wings, extending into the water and funnelling down into a corral pen. You can see the general form of the corral pen in the image below. The three illustrations below are from  the FAO. 2007. publication, Wild Birds and Avian Influenza: an introduction to applied field research and disease
sampling techniques. Edited by D. Whitworth, S.H. Newman, T. Mundkur and P. Harris. FAO Animal Production and Health Manual, No. 5. Rome. (also available at

The geese can be herded by individuals in small boats, people wading in shallow water or walking on land, as the case may be.

The geese naturally follow the wings into the funnel. Wings should be up to 2.0 m (6 ft) for geese.

The number of boats or people will depend on the spread of the wings. Herders should move at a steady pace so that the birds simply keep moving forward. Poles and/or nets can be used to foil escape attempts.

Indigenous peoples of northern Canada would use bow and arrows, bird darts or nets to take their prey. Bird darts were spears with three pronged heads typically used with a “throwing board” or atlatl to provide more distance and force. Sometimes the birds were simply clubbed to death. As can be imagined, numerous birds in a small area made taking them a much simpler matter than hunting individual members of the species.

Large numbers can be taken at the right time of year.











Obviously it would be very difficult for a single person to manage this method of survival bird harvesting. Not impossible, but difficult. In some ways, this is very similar to game drives, used in the past to take jackrabbit, antelope, deer and buffalo in North America. Evidence for European prehistoric game drives has been report. It would seem to be an obvious technique, though once settled in an area, people may have been more careful to preserve a significant portion of any prey animal population for their own benefit.

Waterfowl being captured for survey and banding purposes by naturalists.










Taking birds is simplified during their moulting  period because they can only operate in two dimensions and their speed is drastically reduced. Advantage hunters. Because of the number it is possible to take, it is necessary to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of people available to process the catch and preserve the meat, or to use it immediately. An alternative is to allow some birds to remain alive inside the pen, to be used as required. However, the corral pen must then be constructed sturdily enough so as to keep other predators out.

The technique discussed above has many similarities to the techniques used in fish traps and in game drives. Long wings, angled towards a collection spot. Large numbers of prey herded into a constricted area that make collection simple and efficient.

If you have any thoughts, don’t hesitate to comment, or to go over to the Survival Harvesting Facebook page to engage with others who have similar interests.




Animal Drives – Jackrabbits

Animal drives, in their various shapes and forms, have been and continue to be part of human animal harvesting technique. Today they are still seen in aboriginal harvesting, typically under agreed upon terms, in animal tagging efforts which are not focused on harvesting but in tabulating, recording and tagging, and in animal population control efforts.

Cooperative efforts resulted in massive catches of jackrabbits in early drives to control their populations. Idaho

The image at left illustrates the results of an effort to control jackrabbit induced losses of crops.

Historical accounts of jackrabbit drives provide some incredible numbers. A report in the Chicago Tribune dated October 1, 1893 claimed 20,000 dead jackrabbits in a drive outside of Fresno, California.

A 640 acre ranch in Bakersfield, California was driven and the take was 1,126 jackrabbits.  Two more drives of the same field, the same day netted another 796 rabbits.

There were aboriginal tribes that depended heavily on the jackrabbit and were essentially “rabbit cultures,” making use of the meat and skin for food and clothing. Drives by natives were witnessed and reported on by John Townsend, in 1839 and by John Fremont in 1844. In both cases the tribes had fabricated nets which were then managed by individual tribe members stationed 5-6 feet apart. Each person had a club. The net was used to enclose a large area. A group of natives entered the enclosed area, walking close together. Then they separated and started walking outwards toward the net, beating the bushes. The rabbits rushed away from the disturbance and got caught in the net where they were quickly clubbed to death. As many as two hundred or more natives took part.

Rabbits being driven along 2 miles of wings that converge into the final 100 foot diameter corral.

A rabbit drive was organized in Lamar Colorado in 1893 and quickly became an annual event. A holiday was declared for the town.

“Wire netting some three feet high is divided into portable sections, and set up in the form of a wide-spreading V. These wings often extend two or three miles in each direction. They converge in a circular corral about one hundred feet in diameter.” (January, 1899 issue of “Outing” magazine)

Animal drives were used by local tribes in the American Midwest to catch antelope while they have been used by northern tribes to catch deer, and buffalo. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, outside Fort McLeod in Alberta, Canada shows evidence of having been in use as early as 6,000 years ago.

The cliff ends in a 30+ foot drop. Members of the Blackfoot tribe created funnels, using lines of rock cairns, that converged on the thousand foot wide cliff . Buffalo were driven into the funnel and over the cliff by specially trained “buffalo runners.” The drop was enough to stun or break the legs of the buffalo that were forced to take the leap. Warriors stationed at the bottom of the cliff finished the stunned or immobilized animals off.

California rabbit drive.

On a smaller scale, a drive could be managed by just a few people if they had access to fencing (snow fencing or rolls of wire mesh) and/or netting. By setting sections of fence into place, with short gaps and then leaving it alone for the animals to acclimatize themselves to it, you avoid the “new – danger” signal. When it is time for the drive, the gaps could be closed and the animals either driven down the funnel into nets or to kill zones.

In future posts I will take a look at large game animal drives in more detail. There are numerous prehistoric remnants of drive lanes, and plenty of early reports of drives being used by cooperating indigenous groups.

Survival Tree Crop Harvesting – Nut Trees

What feeds people, horses, cows, pigs, sheep and goats, produces a by-product of wood, anchors soils, preserves moisture in the soil, creates plant material that breaks down into compostand creates microclimates with shade and windbreaks? Nut trees, in particular the chestnut tree, according to J. Russell Smith in his 1929 book “Tree Crops – A Permanent Agriculture.”

Food for humans and livestock, plus it attracts game

Smith championed tree crops used in a planned and integrated way long before Robert Hart stated talking about “Forest Gardening” in 1980.

Low Work Feed for Livestock

In his book Smith describes the efforts of Georgia farmer R. O. Lombard who eventually had a wide variety of nut trees and other fruit producers including”two hundred everbearing mulberries,  two hundred hog plums, two hundred wild cherries, three varieties of haws, and mock oranges.” In all he had twenty-six crops growing wild and cultivated on his three hundred acres. In addition to those mentioned he had huckleberries, blackberries, acorn bearing oaks, hickory nuts, chestnuts, chinquapin nuts and hazelnuts.

A range of nut trees ensures a range of tolerance to conditions and a spread of harvest times

These plants required little care from him and they kept him with a continuous supply of food for forty hogs who fed on the fruits of these trees throughout the year. YOU don’t need three hundred acres to take advantage of tree crops. A lot can be accomplished using a regular suburban lot. With some research, some careful thought and planning, you can start taking advantage of the space above the soil. This is a broad topic but in this post, as I suggest in the first paragraph, I want to narrow our focus to nut trees because of their special nutritional attributes.

Nutritional Values of Common Nuts

There are a wide variety of nut bearing trees and bushes. Stretching from northern lands down into southern latitudes nuts have provided food for man and beast alike. There are about a dozen nut trees that have become important from an agricultural point of view.

Nuts can be an excellent source of protein, essential fats and carbohydrates

For a technical paper on the impact of nuts on cholesterol and cardiovascular disease see this.

First Steps in Raising Nut Trees

No matter where you are you can probably find at least some these trees and their hybrids available from local nurseries. By crossing different cultivars growers have produced varieties with a wide level of tolerances to varied climate zones. Your local providers will be a big help in making the correct choices. Most areas, provinces or states also have nut tree growers associations. Meeting and talking to other growers right in your locality will give you a strong start with nut trees. In my province of Ontario, the Society of Ontario Nut Growers has a host of information that is directly applicable to me. You can find local or regional associations by doing a simple Google search for “<your region> nut tree growers” or some variation.

Smith referenced the Georgia farmer Lombard who wisely diversified his plantings. You should consider doing the same to the best of your ability. Most nut trees need two varieties for best production, yielding hybrid vigour in offspring and in nut production. Some trees come in male and female types, so you will need to pay attention to this after having selected what nut trees you want to raise. Talking to local nurseries or growers is an important way for you to receive advice tailored to your local conditions.

No Land, No Problem

Don’t forget to assess trees off your land and in your immediate area. You may be able to harvest from neighbours trees. Coming to an arrangement with the folks next door or down the street in which you gather some of their tree’s nut harvest and you give your neighbours some of your tomatoes or the use of your rototiller each spring  is good for everybody. It might be worthwhile to encourage neighbours to plant nut trees of their own. Increase varieties, diversity and the likelihood of produce in any given year. Some trees produce large harvests once every two or three years, as opposed to consistently on an annual basis.

Are you close to crown or state or federal land? If there is open access land near you, what are the requirements around harvesting. Most jurisdictions are very liberal if your harvest is for personal use. What about empty lots or acreage? If you spot some nut trees on land that is not currently occupied, the absentee owner might be willing or even happy to have you harvesting nuts from his trees. Possibly you can exchange some kind of labour for the right to harvest.

Nut trees are infrequently thought of when people look at the “fruit of the soil.” But they were an important food crop in earlier times, in advanced societies as well as developing ones. They could be again. I highly recommend you consider downloading Smith’s book, “Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture.”

Note: Let give you some information about the source for this download. Here is a statement from their “Home” page:

“This website provides free downloadable e-books about radical agriculture, natural hygiene/nature cure and self-sufficient homestead living. There are secondary collections involving social criticism and transformational psychology.

There is no fee for downloading anything in this library.

The library’s topic areas connect agricultural methods to the health and lifespan of animals and humans. A study of these materials reveals how to prevent and heal disease and increase longevity, suggests how to live a more fulfilling life and reveals social forces working against that possibility.”

They do accept donations. For a one time payment of 9 Euros, through Paypal, you can download as much of their library as you like and you can avoid future requests for donations. Certainly a fair request. I paid without thinking about it.

A tremendous resource of downloadable books on agriculture, Health and more






When talking about “tree crops” there is a lot more to cover, especially if we also include shrub and bush providers of fruits and berries. We will be covering some of these topics in future posts soon.

Survival Harvesting – Stocking Up at the Store

Years ago I came across two books that left a big impression on my ideas about buying and storing things that you need. They have both informed my regular purchase strategy, even if I don’t follow them to the letter.

The first book was called “Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half” by Barbara Salsbury. The book was written in 1983. The copy I have is a discard from the Peterborough Public Library that I bought at a book sale. It is essentially a grocery shopping planner. The first couple of hundred pages of the book explains how the average consumer shops and how grocery stores work.

The last hundred pages of the book describes the steps you take to effect the promised cost savings in your grocery bill. There are worksheets, tables, checklists galore in the book but let me simplify it for you.

Survival Harvesting philosophy extended to the grocery store.

Most products in the grocery store go through sales cycles. An item that normally sells for $4.00 will be reduced to $3.50 once every three weeks or so, down to $3.25 every two months and as low as $2.25 a few times a year. These aren’t exact, just a simple example. Salsbury advises you to start recording the cost of items in a workbook or on a spreadsheet. You don’t have to run around to all the different stores, just look through the sales fliers, or subscribe to get their email copies. And record the prices. Different stores will be in a different location in their cycles, so in a few months you will have a really good idea of what the likely best price for a product is going to be.

I am skipping over consideration of store brand, national brand and generic products, but you obviously want to compare apples to apples. For instance, there is a name brand of coffee you like, and a generic that you hate. There’s no point in comparing the prices on these two items. Focus on the one you love the taste of. If the two pound can usually sells for $10.00 and your records show that it goes down to $5.50 three times a year, then whenever it goes down to the low price, you purchase enough for four months (or longer). That’s it. Track prices, determine the cycle timing, train yourself to only buy when the cycle is at it’s lowest price and then buy enough to get you through to the next low.

The book goes into things in more depth and discusses meal planning and substitutions of basic items for more expensive ones etc. But the summary above should allow you to seriously start saving, and stocking up. Barbara hasn’t stopped writing. Go over to Amazon and look her up. She is obviously into prepping and has written eight or nine volumes on the storage and stocking up theme.

Harvesting deals on food items by being smart with your purchases and following sales cycles

Actually, while doing a little research for this article as I was writing it, I think I discovered that the book to the left of this paragraph is a newer version of “Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half.” Judging from the reviews, it covers exactly the same material in the same depth and structure.

You can currently get a copy at for eight bucks or as low as five bucks including shipping on


The second book I want to talk about was written in 1980 by John A. Pugsley.

Put your money into hard goods that you know you will use over the next decade and stop worrying about inflation.

It is called “The Alpha Strategy – The Ultimate Plan of Self-Defense for the Small Investor.” Pugsley wrote in a time of inflation and the eroding value of the dollar was a huge concern. At the same time the dollar was going down and able to buy less each year, wages were rising and pushing people into higher tax brackets. It was Pugsley’s view that the dollar you had in your hand today would never be worth as much as it was right then.

He reasoned that under those kind of conditions (which were widely expected to continue for decades) instead of putting money into savings where it lost value, or investments where traders constantly skimmed off the top on every transaction and the government taxed you on every gain, why not just buy things that you knew you would need in the future?

The book is available as a PDF here.

The book cautions the reader that things go out of date, fashion trends change, technology moves on, some items deteriorate with age and you need to assess what the cost of storage actually is. Nonetheless, it essentially lays out just what is required for you to think long term in your buying plans. This book fits in well with the thinking above. Hard items go through sales cycles as well. And bulk buying on non-perishable goods can dramatically lower the cost of goods.

Pugsley covers how long various items will last in storage.  He talks about buying things in bulk to lower the unit cost. That certainly makes a lot of sense in specific instances. OTC medicines and vitamins are good examples. “But what about expiration dates,” you say. Well, read what the Harvard Medical School has to say about that in an online article about the stability of drugs and what their expiration dates might actually mean.

“Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.”

Technology can throw curves at you in your stocking up Alpha Strategy purchases. Take razor blades. When I started shaving, a razor blade was good for about five shaves. Today I use a multi-blade cartridge for over a month. I’m not sure if buying thirty years worth of “Gillette Blue Blades” would have been a good deal, even if the price was fantastic.  But the concepts are worth keeping in mind.

Combining the purchase of hard goods with the sales cycle knowledge in the grocery shopping book can lead you to some excellent buys. I used just this strategy when I went shopping for a snowblower a couple of years ago. I went shopping in the spring, just as winter was over. I found just the model I wanted, at about 60% of retail price. A small one family operation, selling small gas engine equipment, didn’t want to go through the summer with money tied up in stock. So I got my purchase at wholesale or below. Sales cycles are a thing for any seasonal equipment of products, not just soup and dishwashing detergent.

Together, these two books, “The Alpha Strategy” and “Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half” (or “Beat the High Cost of Eating”) compliment each other very well. They arm you with strategies to maximize your purchasing when you are buying things that you just need to buy. A little forethought, some planning and recognizing that almost all consumer goods go through sales cycles can save you big dollars, can ensure you have what you need on hand when you need it and will also see you better able to cope with emergencies.

Pages From the Past – Tidal Fish Traps

The images below are taken from the Encyclopedia of Diderot, a 32 volume work, assembled by over 140 contributors between 1751 and 1777. It was meant to be a broad summation of existing knowledge and was composed of 70,000 articles and hundreds of engravings covering commerce, agriculture, domestic activities, the arts etc. We can be thankful for the articles and illustrations because a lot of contemporary writing of the time did not cover such subjects as the construction of a working fishermans nets, for instance. These topics were deemed to be too mundane to be dealt with.

In this post I have three examples of tidal fish traps. All three of these are fixed in place and depend on the receding tide to leave fish behind, captured in the different obstructions the fishermen have created. The beauty of tidal fish traps is that they are very low maintenance once they are constructed, particularly if stone is used in their construction. You simply need to check them after the tide has gone out, and pick up your catch.

Siting them requires familiarity with the way the currents run as the tide moves out. Selecting a bay sheltered from prevailing winds means that your structure is less likely to be prone to storm damage. And finding a stretch of shore that is habitually used by feeding fish, whether due to structure, vegetation or the effects of currents is important.

Let’s take a look at three tidal fish traps I have selected for this post.

Structural uprights are driven into the sand and then pliable vines or willow (or similar) branches are woven between the uprights. The V shape funnels the fish to the collection point as the tide flows out.

This trap takes advantage of a slightly sloping beach to increase the funnel effect. It uses natural materials that are almost everywhere close at hand. The same principles could be used if you had rebar and netting available. Or loose rubble to form the wings.

Here we see two examples of the same form, constructed of two different types of material.

Two styles and construction methods, but the same baffle and funnel combination. The long straight section channels the fish to the open mouth of the trap and the inward curving walls directs them away from the opening. The fish trap on the  left in the picture is constructed of vertical supports and pliable branches of vines woven together.

Dry laid stone blocks prevent fish from escaping and small outlets allow water a path out.

You can just make out the outlet openings low on the horizontal walls, on the water side of the trap. They could have gratings in them to prevent fish from escaping. Obviously this tidal trap could stand the pounding of waves or a storm surge. Of particular note is how this trap takes advantage of natural features of the landscape. Blocking off the relatively narrow opening between the two rock outcroppings takes advantage of the much wider expanse of seaside shore line potentially occupied by fish at high tide.

So a couple of takeaways from the images above. The range of materials that can be used for constructing this type of fish trap are wide ranging. These are just a few examples. Think of the various kinds of fencing material that could be used. Everything from chain link, to poultry, to the various sizes of mesh could work, depending on fish species targeted. Uprights could be posts, rebar, piping etc. Walls could be loose stone, any of the various types of blocks, logs, or even plastic piping secured between uprights.

Familiarity with the specific section of coastline is important. Water flow paths during tides, species available for harvest, and seasonal changes in fish behaviour etc. all will affect your potential catch.