Friday, October 21, 2011

survive and thrive friday: camouflage, difference between self-sustainability and self-reliance, and a homemade mouse trap

I took these pics before the inception of Survive and Thrive Friday, but I'm including them since being camouflaged is a pretty survival-relevant idea, canigetawitness.
Do you see the moth?
If not, there's a hint at the bottom of this post.
Fun times, right? Participatory blog reading.

Jason's hunting clothes, becoming one with the forest (as far as scent)

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Now then, the terms self-sustaining and self-reliant. I have used those words somewhat interchangeably, which I guess is fairly common, but a podcast by Jack Spirko a few weeks ago put me to pondering. In that same podcast, Jack talks about lifestyle design, and asks people to consider if the life they now live looks anything like what they would intentionally design for themselves, and if not, what they can do to work toward what they want. He has a lot of great thoughts. Side note. Anyway, if the systems we currently rely on were to shut down (power, water, availability of fuel, food, etc.) self-reliance, says Jack, is getting by temporarily. It's the bandaid fixes. Food in the pantry. Flashlights and candles. A generator. Self-sustainability, on the other hand, allows a person to produce their own power/food/warmth/shelter and live indefinitely in that state. Both are important to think about and work toward; neither should be ignored.

It's interesting how the two are best measured. Self-reliance should be measured in time. Like, if we're keeping bags of beans or canned goods in a pantry, maybe we have 4 weeks' worth of emergency food on hand. Self-sustainability, though, is measured in percentages - what percent of our needs we would be able to fill ourselves (or within our small community). For now, because the existing systems are working okay, most people aren't too self-sustaining. As an example, maybe folks who garden are 30% self-sustaining in the specific area of food, being able to provide vegetables for themselves. If they know how to hunt small and large game, or how to keep chickens for eggs and meat, or if they plant some fruit trees on their property, or keep bees, their self-sustainability percentage increases. See what I mean? The idea is to keep upping the percentage of self-sustainability as you go along - slowly, deliberately, with the acquisition of skills and equipment, animals, whatever you're going for, and at the same time to better situate yourself for self-reliance, the quick fixes to get by if the system you rely on shuts down. The failure could even be within your own system (poor growing season, disease among the animals, etc.), so self-reliance is essential as the back up plan.

That idea sure clicked some things into place for me.

Well, that's the end of the warm, fuzzy section about the world as we know it potentially ending. Next up, a method for trapping mice and other rodents!

Most of you who read my blog probably read Rachel's too. Her recent post called, "There Is One Kind of Hippy I Will Never Be," is about her fear of rodents, amphibians, bugs, and every other small creature known to Earth. This is a perfect segue from that - a small rodent trap. What it has to do with survival is several fold. First, though we don't eat the rodents we catch, we could if times were, like, really hard. A person could conceivably set this same system up for larger animals with a 5 gallon bucket or crud, a 50 gallon drum. Secondly, even though we don't eat them, just disposing of mice is good for our health, since mice can spread diseases just by being their cute but nasty little selves. Thirdly, this is much safer to have around kids than spring loaded mouse traps, which could no doubt snap off fingers or toes unwittingly. You can opt to put a bit of water in the bucket, so that is something to be aware of with kids, but it doesn't take much water. Jason learned of this mouse trap from a fellow employee in Glacier Park, and the first time we set it up here in ND, we caught four mice in 45 minutes. They had taken over our home while we were on a vacation, and by the time we returned, they were brave and plentiful little party animals. Have your party in our bucket, you little mice-ies.

Here's the recipe, so to speak.

1. Find a bucket. Ours is a 2 gallon bucket.
2. Cut a stick to be a skosh longer than the bucket's diameter. It should stick tight in there just by pressure.
3. Cut a hole in both ends of an aluminum can or plastic juice can that you can put the stick through. The holes should be bigger than the diameter of the stick, so that the can is able to freely spin on the stick.
4. Smear peanut butter in a line around the can - toward one end rather than in the center.
5. Put an inch or so of water in the bucket. 
6. Find a plank-like stick and secure it somehow to the bucket.

The idea is that the mouse smells the peanut butter. He scurries up the plank to find it, sees the peanut butter, and steps out onto the can. (If he can stretch to the peanut butter without stepping onto the can, it's no good.) The can spins on the stick, and the mouse falls into the bucket. If you have water in it, the mouse will drown. Sorry, yo. If you do not have water in it, it is a live trap, and I'd go with a bigger bucket to insure no jumping escapees. Meanwhile, the trap stays perfectly functional for the next victim; there is p.b. all the way around the can, so it doesn't matter where it stops spinning.

Man. This feels really different to blog about than, say, a nice book I'm reading or a funny character I met in town. But, it is what it is, and that wraps up another delightful edition of Survive and Thrive Friday.

Hot dog!   

Hint for the moth picture: the moth looks like a leaf. 
Okay, okay the real hint is this: look to the far left, barely above center.


Rena said...

Cool camo pictures! (I didn't look back to find the moth because I really don't like moths. I'd rather NOT see them.) And that's an amazing mouse-trap, like something Macgyver would make. I'm really impressed!

Caryn Ouwehand said...

That is one nifty trap. You get 10 big crafty points for that bad boy.

We had traps in our kitchen growing up... but they weren't anywhere near that awesome.

lori said...

I was pretty skeptical about that trap at first, but 4 mice in 45 minutes proved ME wrong.