The Last Fallback Plan : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I apologize for any spelling mistakes in advance.

I live in the upper midwest. I've been keeping track of the y2k issue since last winter and am concerned. I have prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.

One question that has troubled me is that if we go through a long term worst case scenerio, what implications does it have for those who have created islands of sufficency (food, heat, water) in a sea of people in need of these Basics? If we are forced to give up our preperations, or leave them behind for any reason- how do we survive without them?

I've been recently reading a book called Black Elk Speaks (1930), he was first cousin to crazy horse and one of the leaders in the ghost dance movement. Several times in his life, enemy tribes or army soldiers would ride down on their village in the middle of winter and destroy it, forcing the residents to flee into the snow with little or nothing. He lived to die of old age, but most of who he grew up with did not.

This brought home the reality of suddenly losing all that I needed to survive due to the actions of others. There was a difference in my imagination previous to this moment, as I could intelectualize "I could lose everything" to placing myself in Black Elk's shoes. The suffering potential is emotionaly paralyzing.

Here is a list of the foods that can be found all thoughout the upper midwest and many other places. Being outside in the winter requires lots of calories and an almost hand-to-mouth existance. Most people when exposed to the elements and stresses of the outdoors don't eat enough to replace the calories they are burning (i.e. "I don't feel hungry"). Force yourself to eat as much as you can, and when in doubt eat more.

Make sure you know what your eating! (see book listing below)

Catail: Is a 2-5 foot tall plant that grows in marshy ground. It has a brown tube that lookes like a sausage near the top. Get a sharp stick and dig around the root area underground. Attached to the bottom of the plant is a long, carrot-like root. wash this and slit the skin lengthwise. inside is a fibrous white stringy substance. this can be eaten raw or cooked into biscuts (sp). It is high in starch and carbohydrates and is essential to maintaining weight during the cold months. If you are worried about the ground being frozen, don't be- I've pulled them up from streams and marshes in febuary.

Pine needles: pine needles are those that are long and needle-like (green all year round), as opposed to spruce that are short and branched. Collect a bunch and chop them up into little bits and sprinkle into water (if you have a tea strainer use this instead of straining through your teeth). Wait until the water turns yellow. the deeper the color, the more vitamin A and C in the drink. This will help you fight disease and keep your teeth from falling out due to scurvy. Remember, any tea is a duritic (dehydrates you) and so you should drink plenty of water to counteract this.

Pine and birch bark: Pine can be located by it's needles as discribed above, birch trees are trees with white bark that peels horizonally rather than verticaly. The white bark feels like paper. Peel back the bark until the inner layer next to the wood is exposed. Boil this in water to make a pasta like food. It has some protien. The American Indians used this as an food in times of need- sometimes entire forests of pines were found stripped of their bark.

Lily-pad roots: these are the potato-like roots of the various kinds of lily-pads that float on the surface of lakes and ponds. they are located just below the surface of the lake-bottom. Use a hoe or long sharp stick to reach down underwater and dig them out until they come loose. excavate an area underwater and pull any you dislodge up on shore. They have lots of starch. Prepare like a potato. (roasted in tinfoil is my favorite).

Foxtail seeds: A tall grass that has a bushy fox-tail like end on it. Some folks chew on the stems during the summer months. There should be small seeds (look like sesame seeds) embedded amoung the hairs of the tail. Place in a bag and "agitate" the hairs until the seeds come loose. Eat raw or use like wheat or rice. As I write this, I like near several open feilds where there are literally several hundred pounds (???) of seeds like this.

These are the kinds of food easiest to recognize and prepare outside. I prefer cat-tail roots and pine needle tea myself because they require a minimum of preperation (no fires). If you would like to know more, these are the books I've used over the years.

Edible Wild Plants, by Lee Allen Peterson (peterson feild guides no. 23)

Feild Guide to edible wild plants, by bradford angier. published by stackpole books.

The only barrier to starving to death in this climate is an unwillingness to eat what is freely availble. Some of it is tasty, but most are bland or bitter by the grocery store standard.

Take a day off this week. Go to your local nature preserve and walk around. sample some of these foods. If the worst happens, they may mean the difference between life and death. If not, you still have a powerful tool at your disposal: the ability to feed yourself during the hardest time of the year. Give yourself the gift of empowerment this christmas... :)

I fully expect the deer and other wild animal populations to be decimated by over-hunting in a worst case scenerio, so they cannot be relied on forever as a source of food. Besides, in terms of tons of food, there is much more plant sources than there are meat sources.

I feel like I'm rambling again and making this too long, but I feel that I need to go into other aspects before this is ended.

Fire: white birchbark works best for getting fires started. Dead branches still attached to trees will stay dryer than those on the ground, so you can use these to build the fire until it is hot enough to dry out logs. Get a big pile of materials ready before you even start though, as I have left many fires unattended to fetch more wood and come back to coals. Have a couple of handfuls of dry (DRY) pine needles handy to throw on there if the fire starts to die out. Pratice starting fires with cold hands, as that will be the norm rather than the exception.

Shelter: Find a fallen tree with thick branches in the forest with plenty of leaves and snow nearby. Get sticks and place them against the fallen tree as close together as possible. make walls and a roof. leave a small entrance to crawl through- something to cover the door is nice. Once you have the basic structure, pile leaves on first covered with another layer of sticks, or if there is a good snow cover, pile snow on about 6-12 inches thick. Poke two dozen holes in the snow about the roof to let air circulate. Pile leaves on the floor inside to make a bed of air pockets to help keep heat from sucking into the ground. Use leaves as blankets also if you have none. Make the shelter big enough only for the occupants- body heat is precious.

For indoor heat, take rocks (not from a stream! as the water inside may heat up and cause an explosion) and put them in the fire. Bring/roll the stones into the shelter and they will continue to radiate heat for hours. Be careful building a fire in a shelter of this type, as they are susceptible to burning down.

Water: sadly, with the advent of pollution and poliferation of waterbourn diseases like giardia, there is little else to do other than use a water filter or boil water for at least 5-10 minutes to make it safe. Drink lots of water, especially with food, as the dry air will quickly dehydrate you.

If you can, take some time before the end of the year to try these things out. Challenge yourself to live outside for 24 hours. Learn more about winter survival than the pittiful ammount I have listed here, as things like hypothermia and severe frostbite can eaisly take your life or limb. What you know is probably the most important part of survival.

If the bad men come, and burn your house down, it need not be the end.

I Wrote this with the express feeling that someone might find this useful, and if by learning these things some anxiety is turned into confidence then my purpose here is fulfilled. I'm sorry if I inadvertantly offended anyone.

Good Luck to you all

-- Lonelyroads (, December 11, 1999


Mercy! The most informative survival I have EVER read in the past 18 months of research! You can bet cha I will be printing this jewel! Than You Mr./Ms. Lonelyroads!! I have been pretty lonely myself on this trip. Than You Again!!

-- Grateful (, December 11, 1999.

kkkkkk stupid k key!

-- Grateful (, December 11, 1999.

I'm with grateful, thanks, some handy tips I wasn't aware of. Hope it doesn't come to this, but every bit helps. Thanks again.

-- Michael (, December 11, 1999.

I apologize for any spelling mistakes in advance.

I live in the upper midwest.

Ok, thats being redundant, anyway you are excused.

Anyone laugh yet ?. I being nutty today, please forgive me.

-- hamster (, December 11, 1999.


Hello. In "The Basic Essentials of Edible Wild Plants and Useful Herbs" (by Jim Meuninck, ISBN #: 0-934802-41-6 Published by ICS Books, Inc. Merrillville,IN) Page 1: Cattails "Caution: Before eating Cattail shoots learn to distinguish young Cattail shhots from the poisonous look-alike Iris shoots."

Unfortunately, no description of the difference between Cattails and Iris shoots appearances was given.

I'm not trying to butt-in, but thought it was important to have all of the information available. I'd hate to see someone become ill because they didn't have all of the info.

-- Deb M. (, December 11, 1999.

A most informative post of useful, back to nature survival tips. Thank you and Good Luck to you and yours.

-- Irving (, December 11, 1999.

All of it is good advice. In addition to the books mentioned above, I would recommend the Tom Brown books on survival. He has written books for both wilderness and urban survival. Even if you never need to use the information, it is sure nice to have it.

Thanks for the post.

-- Pete (, December 11, 1999.

Ewell Gibbons lives!!

-- (munchin@aDingDong.bush), December 11, 1999.

Ewell Gibbons wrote "Stalking the Wild Asparagus"...a good read for those wishing to eat off the land. My parents bought the book back in the 70's when I was a teen, and on the weekends would walk out back and gather ingredients for dinner. Mom still has the book, and some of the recipes are actually quite tasty!

I recall one year when they were experimenting with dandelions...they made a batch of dandelion wine, with the crocks, the yeast, the cheesecloth, and sugar. They waited about a year to let it age, but it tasted terrible...I'll never forget the expressions on their faces, LOL.

So, the bottles were stored in the basement (a "farm" basement)...they couldn't even give 'em away. It got better with age...but it tasted so bad upon their first try that they didn't bother trying another bottle until about 5 years later. They were about ready to throw it out, but my father mustered the courage to dust one off and take a swig. It's smooooth, and is potent to boot! Since he passed away, we've been conserving it for special occasions, and toast to his memory.

Now that I look back, I think my father was ahead of his time. I invited him to visit where I worked right after I landing my first coding job, which was writing COBOL on an HP 3000. He looked around the area, and was amazed at the all of interconnected equipment...most of them hard drives the size of washing machines. "Heaven forbid if these machines do all of the thinking for us...if the electricity goes down for a long period of time, WE'RE SCREWED!"

I'll never forget that moment as long as I live. What's amazing is that he didn't touch a computer until about a year before his death...and even then, he preferred perusing his law library versus using Westlaw.

My apologies for wandering off-topic. Do read up on gathering food from the wild. I have gobs of sasaphras growing during the summer...makes for great tea, and the leaf steams are good to chew on if you don't have chewing gum. Lotsa good stuff growin' out back :-)

-- Tim (, December 11, 1999.

More!!! More!!!

-- Hokie (, December 11, 1999.

Thank you Lonelyroads. What a great thing to give the forum, and it's so refreshing to hear a real woman speak. I say that because I've been watching/participating on the probably by now, infamous LL thread.

I've got a lot of foxtail here too.

-- Gregg (, December 12, 1999.

Great post. I was looking at edible plant books tonight but didn't buy any because they do not match the terrain here on the Florida coast. I know the cabbage palm is edible, but neither mentioned it. (I just don't know which tree the cabbage palm is.)

I know sea grapes have grapes midsummer that are edible, too. I wish I knew more. We have sea oats on the beach, but I don't know if they're edible. What I was reading about seaweed wasn't encouraging.

Thanks for the info on pine needles. Don't know if there are pines where I live. Some people do have banana trees, not much yield to those--and someone has a sour orange tree... I did find a coconut on the beach that seems to still be intact after floating for goodness knows how long. There's a lot of driftwood, too, that could make firewood... although it won't be all that cold.

I hope I'll be able to fish, but I'm putting off practising...

-- Mara (, December 12, 1999.

DARN !! We experimented with dandelion wine one time and it was sooooo nasty that we fed it to a couple of pigs before sending them on to porkchopville...must admit they thought it was tasty ! Should left that jug in the cellar to mellow. Alas,no dandelions in our yard here for some reason...probably can't grow in stone. Used to have a zillion as my DH let them go for a pollen source for his bees.

-- mutti (, December 12, 1999.

I'm glad this thread was started - I just dug up another favorite of mine: "Outdoor Survival Skills" by Larry Dean Olsen (ISBN#: 1-55652- 084-0 Published by Chicago Review Press). This is it's 5th edition in printing.

It deals with all softs of wilderness survival situations, especially in areas of the Western U.S. (quite a bit of info can be altered to fit other climes though). What I was most impressed with though are the color photographs of the edible plants described earlier in the book.

The book also covers building shelters our of natural materials and snow caves, building/creating fires, obtaining drinking water when good water is scarce, harvest and food preparation from wild plants, hunting/foraging skills, tan leather and weave natural fibers (doesn't teach spinning), and fashioning primitive weapons.

I found it especially helpful as I love to hike and this knowledge greatly supplements my first aid skills.

-- Deb M. (, December 12, 1999.

Thanks for the post I wish there were more like this floating around because if any are forced to leave or burned out they need natures foods.

A few more things you can eat but some may be hard to find during winter.

Clover flowers - can eat or dip in batter and fry. You can eat the clover also but need to cook it and get use to it as can cause stomach cramps, empty first cook water.

Kudzu - most know about Kudzu but want to mention as we have plenty of this in the south, boil or fry the leaves, cut up roots boil in water and mash like potatoes.

Summac - the "RED" topped kind, take the top red berries and soak in water, will taste like pink lemonade.

Acorns - best if soaked in clay water for a few weeks to take some of the tannin out. Then rinse roast and pound into flour, good to use in stews.

You can eat song birds but under current laws it is illegal. There is frog gigging for frog legs yummmm!

A sponge to soak up dew in the morning from plants in case you are not near a water source.

I suggest a few wild edible books in everyones home library and bug out bag and read them now.


-- Obo (, December 12, 1999.

Funny, I was just looking out my window at a beautiful mockingbird hopping around on my patio table and was shocked at my thought: "Mmmm, he looks pretty meaty." Sheesh. I need a break from prepping.

-- preparing (, December 12, 1999.

I wouldn't consider myself an expert but I've been in extended outdoor survival situations. Grains are natural travel food. Small amount packs well and expands for good meal. You can carry enough to last many weeks with foraging. Small amounts of honey (sugar) travels well and gives you instant energy to get moving to hunt for more food. (The ultimate prep)

You can eat about everything to stay alive, (wild food can be nasty) but you should test it if your not sure with a small amount under tongue to make sure its not poisonous (will make you sick). Once you find some herbs that you like hot teas are the best.

Research now would be best spent identifying poisonous plants. Eat anything else you can find!

Snakes taste great, lizzards, frogs, tadpoles, ants, you name it, its a buffet out their. I've watched people fight over scunk brain stew. mmm my favorite!

Run out of water? Try recycling it. It will keep you alive.

Your at the top of the food chain, But when people get really hungry you'll be suprised at what they become and what they do, and that's the thing you really have to watch out for. Humans can be vicious creatures when their famished, try to stay away from them.

Oh! Except these people. I hate to let this one out of the bag, but hey, single guys and gals, slim and slender may not be in fashion next year, believe me, a fat dude or a fat chick is a hell of a survival companion. Their metabolism is very efficient once they've adapted. They get more miles per gallon than the rest, can keep things warmer at night and after a couple of months, their much more attractive than anyone else. A little cranky at first, but in time they begin to get real energetic and happy about themselves.

-- robert j. (, December 12, 1999.

Robert: regarding the fat people comments! Thanks for the smile! I just KNEW I was carrying around this extra 30 pounds for a reason. And I carry it quite well,thank you. It is not enough to hamper me physically, I am amazingly in shape and limber for 30 pounds over. I am 5'7" and a medium frame.

Yes, I read on this post about a year ago, a woman had a great grandmother who lived in Lapland and an extra 10-20 pounds was the difference betw. survival and starvation in the winter.

Let me clarify though. The myth that you can LIVE on the fat is just that: a myth. If that were true, very obese people could go for MONTHS w.out eating with no ill effects but they die of starvation, too. Thing is, it does take a lot longer. here's the deal: let's say Y2K is reaaaaaal bad. REAL bad. We are eating, but rationing our food carefully. Obviously everyone is losing weight since we've gone off our typical rich, fast food, fat and sugar laden American diet. But I, at 30 pounds overweight can lose a LOT more weight before it puts me at risk. Someone that is proudly slim that starts losing weight will be DANGEROUSLY slim very soon. Then concentration camp slim (hey Calista Flockhart is already there!). Meanwhile, I am just losing my love handles and slightly chubby cheeks.

When you are too thin you are at greater danger for getting ill and also get colder faster. Can't warm up as well. Can't fight off infections as easily. We have been so brainwashed into thinking the only good thing to be is thin that we have forgotten there ARE a few advantages to being SLIGHTLY overweight. Now the very overweight will not be able to move very quickly if needed, or handle a major bug out situation, possibly. Can you see a 350 pound guy having to hike all over the woods, fish with a net, live in a tent and hunt for meat? He wouldn't be 350 for long!

-- preparing (, December 12, 1999.

This is April 2004. I guess all you survival nutcases found out that you wasted your time and money. (Not a lot of brains though)

-- R.E.Grant (, April 21, 2004.

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