Healing Wounds Without a Doctor

Perscription for Nutritional HealingThe other Saturday when we had help building the new deck roof for our tiny house I hurt my ankle.  I brought the little portable generator up on the deck to run the oven because our little off-grid system was maxed out with the power tools.

I know how to start generators by now.  I can pull start them with no problem…usually.  But this one is so lightweight and has such high compression you have to practically stand on it to start it.  I gave it a mighty tug and the rope caught.  My momentum caused the generator to jerk, and the weight of my foot forced it to roll, and I rolled too.  I’m sure the men on the roof were quite amused.  Blah!

I jumped up and Blossom, our 12-year-old, came along smugly and started the thing with one easy pull.  That really made me look bad.  So much for being a tough homesteader!

The inside of my ankle was bruised and skinned, and from one little hole came some dark blood.  I immediately cleansed the area with peroxide and slapped Neosporin and a bandaid on it, and continued my work.  It was a very busy day, and I didn’t give it another thought till late afternoon when my ankle started hurting.  That night I could barely put weight on it and I knew something bad was going on.  An infection was trying to raise its ugly head.

I pulled out my remedy books to get a good game plan, and got to work.  That night and the next day (Sunday) were tough, as it was very painful and swollen.  A red circle about an inch in diameter was clearly outlined around the wound area, but the worst pain settled in the joint above it which made walking difficult.  On Monday we saw progress, and by Tuesday we were definitely winning.  On Wednesday it had healed so much I forgot about it.  That was a big mistake.

I am no expert, but want to share what has worked for me, and mistakes I’ve made.  These are great opportunities to learn so we are not completely helpless if no doctor is available.  Here are some things I have learned from experts:
1)  Begin treating sickness or infection immediately, at the first sign of symptoms.
2)  Be very aggressive and consistent in treating it.
3)  Don’t stop treating it until two days after symptoms are gone.

I did great with the first two, but sadly failed with the third.  The infection was still active enough that it crept back before I realized what was happening.  A few days later it started to hurt again.  The second time around it wasn’t so easy.  I’m still babying that thing.  It’s slowly progressing, but taking its good old time.  If I had stayed on top of it the first time, it would probably be healed; an important lesson to learn.  Now I can go to the doctor if things get out of hand.  Some day I may not be able to, and a mistake like that could cost a life.

Practical HerbalismThere are many tried and true remedies out there.  I looked at the lists of antibiotic and anti-inflamatory herbs in Dr. Philip Fritchey’s book “Practical Herbalism.”

Remember a few weeks ago when the goats ate all our plants except aloe, rosemary, and milkweed? I didn’t have much left to choose from.  I did have some rather oldish cloves of garlic on hand, peppermint oil, and cayenne in the cupboard.  I also had another powerful tool:  kefir grains!

I soaked my foot in warm epsom saltwater, used ice packs, and elevated it to help with swelling.  I alternated different combinations of herbs for added benefit. One was peppermint oil and cayenne with a thin layer of garlic clove laid across the wound.  Another was raw honey and flour as a paste.

My favorite was kefir grains and aloe vera.  What an infection fighting and inflamation soothing combination!  I cut a slice of aloe plant, shaved off the thorny edges and peeled the inner side.  The outside peel I left on (washed with water) and carved out a little hole on the peeled side to stick a kefir grain into.  Kefir grains are powerful, but they will dry out rather quickly under the bandage alone.  Placing them into a piece of aloe leaf keeps them moist and active for some time, and adds aloe’s healing and soothing qualities.  It brings instant relief to the wound.  I used this method a few years ago to heal my infected finger when Eventstar’s pet squirrel bit me.


A kefir grain on an aloe vera leaf. This particular time I also addes a few shavings of garlic.

Comfort for the Burned & WoundedI also used B & W Ointment (Burn and Wound Ointment) on the open parts of the wound.  This salve is formulated by Amish man John W. Keim, author of “Comfort for the Burned and Wounded.”  He’s had phenominal results treating burn patients with this salve and burdock leaves.  A few hospitals are even using his methods in place of the painful standard protocol.  I used this salve regularly at first, but when the infection returned I stopped for fear of healing the outside of the wound before the inside because it contains comfrey.

When the infection returned it needed an extra boost, so I began taking things internally as well:  echinacea, garlic, vitamin C, and whole kefir grains.  The fight is still on, but symptoms greatly reduced.  The Great Healer deserves glory for healing taking place, and for creating tools and knowledge needed.

Foot wounds can be hardest to heal because they are farthest away from the heart.  A few years ago my dad had a little crack in his foot from dryness, and it got a staff infection.  He ended up in the hospital.

We read a biography of a family who immigrated to America years ago.  A few weeks before their ship sailed the father got a little splinter in his arm.  It became infected, and he died.  They came to America without him.  Modern medicine takes care of many things like that, but what if it’s not available?Be Your Own Doctor.

The Lord has made so many options for us in herbs and other natural remedies.  The ones I’ve mentioned here only scratch the surface.  What methods do you use when treating a wound or infection?  It would be great to share ideas!


Let It Rain!  Part Two

Disclaimer:  This website is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to replace licensed, professional health care providers.  The author and Live Ready Now! disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.

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Teaching Our Children Basic Life Skills, Part Two

Cutting cording to build a shelter

If our children were caught in a disaster or difficult situation without us, would they have the knowledge and basic life skills necessary to survive or help others?  The following excerpts, used by permission from an article by SNOMAN on Survival News Online, express much of our concern on the subject.

“Child labor laws and state intervention in child-rearing in general have put our children at greater risk than ever. At the age of twelve, Jesus Christ was able to find food and shelter in Jerusalem and carry on an intelligent discussion of complex legal and religious matters with his elders. To be sure, he was exceptional, but Western socialist societies are not using that as a model or target for what a child ought to be; instead of producing kids who can take care of themselves and others by the age of twelve, we’re extending their uselessness into the young twenties and beyond. Adolescence is proof of our social bankruptcy.

When I was a kid, it was a singular shame to have to ask someone to borrow their pocketknife. Nowadays I teach my kids never to lend a pocketknife to another kid, because it’s almost a sure thing they haven’t been taught how to use one. They don’t know how to work, survive, or think, either…

One of the most productive things you can do to bring about long-term change in society (while reaping instant benefits for yourself and your children) is teach children some principles of self-reliance, and teaching life skills is a fun way to accomplish this. They learn not just how to keep themselves alive; they also learn the fundamental concept that they are the first and best provider of their own safety. “Self-reliance” is the theory, and learning life skills puts it into practice.”

One of the problems with teaching our children basic life skills is that we don’t know them ourselves.  We’re trying to take the opportunities God gives us to learn along with our children.  It could save a life someday.

Children and Chores

Our older children learn to purify dirty water for drinking, using primitive tools

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Teaching Our Children Basic Life Skills

Florida betony tubers taste like radishes without the sting, and are found in other southern states as well as Florida.

Last week as I was recovering from a nasty flu, our children were outside playing and noticed a patch of Florida Betony growing across the lane.  They did the “natural” thing: got buckets and spades, and started digging.  Finding many ripe tubers, they brought them in and washed them thoroughly to use in salads.  The tasty tubers are crunchy like a radish, but without the sting, making a delicious addition to vegetable salads.

Of course this is NOT the “natural” thing for most children in our day.  We have so thoroughly lost the basic life skills that previous generations took for granted.  Our generation knows a lot about high tech stuff, but little about simple basics.  Today’s children are knowledgeable about video games, iPods, and social networking, but have little knowledge or skills necessary to be self-reliant, if they ever need to be.

There are numerous possibilities that could plunge us into a life with no electricity or electronics, temporarily or long-term.  An electromagnetic pulse (EMP), produced by either  an intense solar storm predicted by NASA or by an act of war or terrorism against our country, could wipe out the electrical grid we depend on so much.  Supervolcanoes, earthquakes, and other natural and man-made disasters are not out of the question.  Of course there are many varying opinions about the possibilities, and none of us enjoy doomsday prophecies.  But with the electrical system being as fragile as it is, wouldn’t it be wise to understand life without it?  If it collapses, so does transportation, communication, and food production and delivery.

We want our children to know how to think, work, and survive.  The more we learn the more we realize there is to learn; how ignorant our generation has become.  So if you visit us on a typical day in our home educating family, you are more likely to find us out digging in the ground than burying our heads in textbooks!  🙂

Children and Chores                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Who wants you and your children to be prepared…


Thistles for Dinner!

Even our four-year-old enjoys the thistle greens

For dinner last night we ate wild sow thistle!  My hubby grew up in the south, eating collard greens.  Sow thistle is similar, but even more nutritious!  In fact, it has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and some minerals than any domesticated green (domesticated plants are bred for looks, season, easy growing, etc, NOT necessarily for nutritional content).

A section of our backyard has recently become overgrown with sow (mama pig) thistle, since Silver Oak went along with his wife’s crazy idea to let wild edibles (weeds) grow during this slow growing season here in Central Florida.  Sow thistle is not a genuine thistle, but bears that name because its leaves have a spiny appearance, and the mature, stiffer leaves are prickly because of their pointed tips.

The girls harvest sow thistle from our back yard

As long as buds have not opened, the top six inches of each stalk is very tender and tasty and can be cooked and eaten like asparagus, or even raw in a salad.  Once the buds open, a bitter flavor sets in, although not nearly like dandelion greens.  Boiling more mature stems and leaves reduces bitterness, also relaxing stiffness and prickliness.

Our main entrée last night for eight cost under two dollars; the only store-bought ingredients were seasonings and a box of pasta.  Talk about a frugal menu, tons of nutrients, and harvesting food we didn’t plant!  Sometimes blessings are too close and common to see!  We steamed the tops of the stalks and seasoned them with salt, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, serving them like asparagus.

The bounty from one harvest

Our favorite was the pasta with sow thistle leaves sautéed in extra virgin olive oil.  We had chopped the washed leaves so they would tenderize more easily.  We added salt and lots of garlic, mixed it with cooked and drained pasta, and topped it with parmesan cheese.  It was very tasty, and confirmed once again that wild foods are more filling than normal foods.

Sow thistle

We have books about wild edibles, but an interesting one that taught the most about sow thistle is Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate, written by a PhD in nutrition who has spent time getting all of his vegetables from wild plants.



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Children and Survival Skills

Dutifully picking burrs off sister's skirt

When my brothers and I were growing up we made “forts” in the nearby vacant woods.  We used old discarded pieces of things for “furniture.”  Interesting plants (potatoes from potato vines, etc) were our “food.”  What fun!  I’m sure you have similar stories.

In our quest to learn survival skills (basic life skills which were common knowledge before our modern lifestyle) I’ve noticed our children’s natural interest in them.  They think it’s really cool to build a shelter, and one of the girls is taking it upon herself to learn to make a small kitchen lean-to for the water and cooking pots next time.  After several failed attempts to make something that actually stays standing, she is learning the principles of constructing a sturdy shelter which could be a valuable asset to her someday.

One attempt to build a small shelter

Fire is interesting to children, and boys especially tend to love it.  Our four-year-old makes it his job to keep us supplied with firewood.  He will gladly be in charge of starting and keeping the fire going as soon as he is allowed.

Finding water also catches our children’s interest.  When the main work of setting up camp is done, some of the girsl have been found digging for water.  In Florida that is not too hard, and a four-foot hole can be successful in yielding water if you’re patient, giving time for it to slowly seep in.

Our six-year-old has learned to recognize certain wild edibles and loves to take the initiative gathering them for our salad.  Her older sister also does a good job collecting them.

Our oldest daughter is old enough that learning survival skills is more of a serious thing for her, but she enjoys throwing herself into helping with the construction of the shelter and helping organize the younger ones for various tasks.  She is becoming our wilderness adventure photographer, and we enjoy watching her video recordings of our experiences.

Over all, this has been a great family adventure and learning experience, making good memories which will not soon be forgotten!

Surviving Peer Pressure

Survival toys: sticks and spades

Building a kitchen lean-to

Survival Cooking

The frying pan sets over hot coals by straddling logs taken from the fire

As the head cook at our house I should teach my children to cook without a stove in case of an emergency.  Everyone should at least know how to boil water without modern technology, in case there is no other way to purify it.  I used to be clueless about starting fires, let alone cooking over them.  It is a basic life skill everyone used to have because there weren’t other options, and in many countries this is still the case.

I’ve learned it works best to start a fire early so there are hot coals available when I am ready to cook.  It doesn’t work to simply set a pot on top of a fire.  The pot will scorch and get ruined.  Rather, a hanging pot just out of reach of low flames and hot coals gets the quickest and easiest results.

Cut three sturdy branches approx. 6' long, fasten them together by wrapping cording about 8" from one end, and tie securely

 You can purchase fancy tripods for this purpose, or make your own.  On our recent family wilderness adventure we used what was available: large palm branches.  In northern climates three small sturdy saplings cut to the same length would work great, but in Florida those are hard to find.  The photos demonstrate how my hubby made our tripod, strong enough to hold a large heavy pot full of water or food.

Open the tripod and place over fire

Another method that is a little trickier is with hot coals moved to the side of the burning fire.  The coals must have ventilation to keep them hot.  Dig a trench for the coals and use the sides of the trench to hold up the pot.  Or use a three legged dutch oven to allow air to flow under the pot.  Or find a few small hot logs in the fire to place around the hot coals to set the pot on.  Using only hot coals often takes longer and is more work.  It helps to keep them as close to the fire as possible without scorching your pot, and to keep stoking the coals and adding new ones.

Give it a try now when it can be fun (not an emergency) and let me know how you do!

Surviving Peer Pressure

The pot hangs over the fire

Cleanliness for Survival

The older girls wash dishes in the “sink”

Without clean running water like we are accustomed to, cleanliness in the wilderness can be challenging.  One might think that in such a setting cleanliness is a lost cause.  But the contrary is true.  Without doctor or medical supplies, sanitation is even more important.  Preventing sickness and infection is vital.  Chances of surviving are greatly enhanced if preparation can be made for cleanliness.

Cleanliness also greatly impacts our emotions.  A big enemy in a survival situation is depression or hopelessness.  Enduring hardship requires a positive mental attitude.  Dirt can have a negative impact on our emotions, whereas cleanliness gives us an emotional boost and strengthens our resolve to press on.

I am very protective of the water used to wash my kiddos’ hands or a dirty dish when it had to be hauled from a nearby stream, strained through a cloth, boiled over the fire, and then cooled to a usable temperature. Waste is not tolerated because the amount of time and work to get a gallon ready is too great.

It takes skill to practice cleanliness with little water.  The best way to learn is to practice!  First of all, NEVER place a dirty hand or utensil or soap into the storage container of clean water.  Always dip or slowly pour the clean water over the dirty object, catching the waste in a different container.  This waste water can rinse off soil or other grime from dirty hands or utensils before doing the final wash.  Using this method gives you maximum use of clean water.

Keeping our entire body as clean as normal may be impossible in a survival setting, but washing hands, faces, utensils, and injuries regularly and brushing teeth has worthwhile benefits.  This week turn the water valve off for an afternoon, preparing ahead with one quart per person in buckets, and practice using very small amounts of water to wash with.  Then let me know how it goes.  🙂

Silver Oak cleans off our sleeping bags, hanging them on a bar he fastened between two trees

Surviving Peer Pressure

A Yard Full of Salad

A bowel of wood-sorrel leaves & flowers, and wild violets, washed for the salad

Yesterday the kiddos went out into our yard and picked several small buckets of salad greens. And we hadn’t planted it in our garden, either. In fact, the lettuce I sowed this past hot summer miserably failed. Yesterday’s salad greens grew by themselves without any help from me! How is that for convenience? And free food?

Winter here in Central Florida means our yard hasn’t needed mowing for nearly two months, a perfect opportunity for wild greens to thrive. You can’t get this lucky with a well-manicured yard of thick grass with fertilizers and pesticides.

After the children had fun gathering wood-sorrel and a few wild violets, I methodically went through them to make sure no other green things (or other foreign objects) were volunteering for our evening salad. If we don’t recognize it, we don’t eat it.

Wood-sorrel growing in our yard...flowers already picked out

We have several varieties of wood-sorrels in our yard. With three heart-shaped clover-like leaves growing on the end of each stem, they have violet, yellow or white flowers. The younger leaves, stems and flowers are tender and add a tasty tangy flavor to salad. If the stems are too big and tough, snip them off halfway down. Tie the discarded stems in a bundle to make a tea useful for fevers and urinary infections. This plant is high in vitamin C, so it’s a great winter edible.

 Two years ago I was clueless about identifying edible plants, even though herbs and natural medicine have long been my interest. I found a gold mine years ago in Bulk Herb Store, and most of what I’ve shared about wild edibles I’ve learned from the wealth of resources they offer. We’ve learned much about homesteading, nutrition, making herbal remedies, disaster preparation, survival, and much more. If you have any interest in these subjects, take a look, if you haven’t already!

Surviving Peer Pressure


Some of our eager wild edible harvesters

Survival Tea in the Wilderness

Tea time in the woods

Many wild plants are not edible because they are too woody or fibrous to digest properly, but steeping them in hot water releases valuable nutrients.  On last week’s wilderness adventure we found some great wild plants that we could “drink” even though we couldn’t eat them.  I noticed a definite difference in my energy level after consuming one or two cups of the brew we made.

I believe I already mentioned in an earlier post that we found wild citrus trees, including lemon, near our camp.  Lemon juice is high in electrolytes, is a natural refrigerant and helps reduce thirst. The essential oils in the peels are a good digestive aid.  I squeezed the juice and added the peel and rinds of one very large lemon to our brew.

Sitting for a spell; not too common an event in wilderness survival

Even though it is winter, we managed to find enough black raspberry vines to add about a cup of leaves to the pot.  A close relative of the red raspberry plant, it is high in vitamins and minerals.  It cleanses and alkalizes the blood and is a good stomach tonic. 

Last we found some dry goldenrod and a few wild violets and their leaves.  Goldenrod is antibacterial, fungicidal, worm expellant, and used for fevers and snakebites; not a bad idea to have in a survival setting. 

Over some hot coals I brought my pot of canal water to a boil, removed it from the heat, and added all the above ingredients to steep for about 15 minutes.  It was very pleasant to taste, and gave a good energy boost.

Surviving Peer Pressure

Enjoying tea after lunch

Eating Like Squirrels

A delicious acorn burger!

Guess what we had for dinner tonight!  You’ll never get it…acorns!  In central Florida right now we are blessed with acorns dropping from the oaks.  We decided to try this free food which the Indians used to eat.  The children had fun gathering them, and trying to keep Faline, the friendly deer who hangs around, from eating out of their buckets.

Acorns contain a lot of tannins, making them bitter and hard to digest.  The tannins can be leached out by boiling the meats and draining the water off numerous times till the water is no longer dark brown.  Some varieties of oaks, such as Live and White, have such a low level of tannins that leaching is not always necessary.  We have Live oaks, and many of the acorns were sweet, but enough were bitter that we went ahead and brought them to a boil several times for good measure.

The acorn pickers!

After gathering the acorns, we placed them in a bucket of water and discarded all the floaters.  Then we set about the tedious task of cracking and shelling them.  Of course any wormy acorns were also discarded.  Next time we will gather mostly from the huge tree out front, as those were larger, sweeter, and the easiest to process.

We leached them, and ground them in the mortar and pestle that Grandpa bought for us on his last trip to Haiti.  One of our Liberian daughters remembers using one to mash fufu in Liberia before she was adopted, so she enjoyed doing it again.  Finally the ground acorn meal was ready for cooking.  Following is the recipe we used:

Cracking and shelling

Boil together for 15 minutes, covered:

  • 3 ½ cups ground acorn meal
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ts salt
  • 1 ts garlic

Meanwhile, sauté the following:

  • 9 small onions
  • 6 T butter

Last, combine the following and form into patties; fry like hamburgers:

  • Boiled acorn meal
  • Sautéed onions
  • 3 cups oats
  • 5 eggs, beaten

Grinding & mashing

We ate the burgers with ketchup, mayo, and pickles, just like a hamburger.  They were absolutely delicious!  The children all loved them and we ate till we were stuffed!  They were very filling, and we have enough left for another meal.   The flavor and texture was a bit nutty, as you would expect; definitely a winner!


Bug out Bags

Editors note:  The following night we made spaghetti and acorn balls, which was another hit.  The rest of the acorn burger kept in the freezer very well for months, used as needed in casseroles.