July 20, 2019 at 10:14 pm #21053
I have lurked here for a bit, and decided to come out and meet the people that make this place rock! I am looking forward to learning more from you, and hope that I can contribute something too.
I believe my intro is the longest post I’ve ever made on a message board. I thought about trimming it but didn’t because if it encourages just one person to pursue and persist in their goal to be more self-sufficient it may be worth the read.
My brother calls me Grizzlyette Adams and a crazy hermit on the mountain like it’s a bad thing. He still has not forgiven me for moving hundreds and hundreds of miles away from family in south Louisiana to go on a wild-goose chase, as he called it. Women just don’t do this kind of thing, he said. At the time, my poor mother about had a stroke.
Some years ago, what I thought would be just a three-week camping trip to begin clearing my land to build a home in a classified wilderness area, turned into a three-year-long event. As hard as it was (ok, it was sometimes downright sucky), the experience turned into an education that I would not trade for all the gold in the world.
I found out what I was made of.
For reasons beyond my control, ALL of my well-researched and rock-solid plans for building a nice cabin in the woods turned to pure gumbo-mud. Pretty much overnight. It was going to be a long while before I would have the financial resources to build anything on the BOL I bought… It was either pack it in and go home or tough it out.
I cried for a day (ok, a few days), got over myself and set about the business of some hard camping out in the boondocks in the land of snow and ice (which was something totally foreign for this ol’ Cajun girl). I was a long way from home and did not know anyone in the area (yet).
I was broke…no, I was broker than broke. At the time I could not afford to get a regular supply of propane for my one-burner camp stove or drive a bunch of miles to buy ice for my ice-chest (those were reserved for “special” times). No electric, no phone (cell phones will not work in these mountains), alone in what is classified as a wilderness area on the forestry map…
My family and friends thought I was pure-D-crazy for not calling it quits and coming back home. Or, maybe I just might be part alligator? Once I sink my teeth into something, I rarely let go. Either that or I am just plain crazy. Maybe that’s it. They say that the definition of insanity is when you’re nuts and it bothers you. Crazy is when you’re nuts and you like it. Well, at least I am not insane.
I had enough money to keep me in lamp oil, so I could read my Bible and (many!) other books at night to take my mind off of my fears and troubles. I decided to spend my $$ on lamp oil instead of propane for the camp stove, which was so small, it was almost worthless anyway. I reasoned that I could always cook over a campfire, which I did. Mais cher! Smoke-flavored gumbo and jambalaya in a dutch oven over a hickory fire is awesome! Never mind the commercially bottled liquid smoke…the real stuff is truly wondermous.
One year later, I tangled with a rabid skunk. That was serious crap. It put everything else into perspective… because on the day before IT happened, I was sliding down into a blue funk about my failed cabin-building plans and feeling sorry for myself. (Oh boy, then I really had something to whine about…and learned all about perspective.)
Fast forward three years…I finally achieved my goals of clearing the land for my future home. And once my constipated money situation improved, one tiny baby-step at a time, I started to build my cabin. I paid a builder to build the frame and roof it, and along the way, I met some nice friends who helped speed things along considerably. (It took over ten hard years to get that cabin built.) Once the outside walls were stood, and the windows and doors were in, I moved in along with a lot of construction stuff, a wood stove, AND electricity! Yay! I was delighted to pack my oil lamps away. (Dragged them out later for a month during a nasty prolonged ice storm; we were just like old friends again.)
Still, there ain’t no easy button, f’sure. Especially if you suspect that you may be a real live Crap Magnet. Let me explain that part:
Along the way, in spite of all my extreme care and caution, another rabid skunk made its way into my life. I had to go thru the rabies treatment a second time (five years after the first).
Later, I got bitten by a timber rattlesnake…almost lost my leg and my mind (I managed to avoid amputation but it took six painful months for the swelling to go down and before I was able to walk again without crutches). I don’t mind telling you, I am nervous as a sunburned bobcat every time I see a curvy looking stick on the ground.
Long-term outdoor living is not for sissies.
On top of it all, this old swamp girl found out what camping in freezing cold weather was all about. There were many mornings during the roughest spells of winter when I woke up with ice on my eyebrows and parts of my long hair (what the heck? frozen breath or what?), and my water glass on the make-shift “table” 3 feet away from where I slept was frozen solid with ice. I was running low on lamp oil, and propane was unaffordable. (I thought about bringing in some coals in my cast iron pots, but because I was worried about carbon monoxide, I just slept with the pre-heated pots under the blankets.) It was so cold, that sometimes the plastic 7-gallon water containers that I hauled water in and kept outside, froze solid as well. I never saw such fast freezing in my life. No matter what I did, I never felt truly warm.
Sometimes I cried myself to sleep. My little piece of paradise was trying to kill me. Then I was like, Shut up, stupid monkey mind! Just shut up and quit feeling sorry for yourself! Nobody asked you do do this. (Which was a damned good thing because if someone forced me to do this, I probably would have choked them.)
But, looking at the big picture, ‘taint all bad! Winter isn’t forever. In camp during the summer, I got to meet the most gorgeous fireflies. I saw some real honest-to-goodness foxfire and glow worms too. It was like pure magic! My crude camp shower had the latest in surround-sound; no music CD could match genuine nature sounds of birds, crickets, and frogs. Mountain breezes and natural pure mountain “air freshener” came with the deal, too! No electric or batteries required! I enjoyed a lot of truly unforgettable delights. Nature gave me lots of consolation prizes that made it all worthwhile. I will still remember them all, even after I am 98 years old and rocking on a porch somewhere.
Also, I learned how to keep my food cool without refrigeration, without the benefit of a nice cool creek. I discovered that repurposing an abandoned armadillo hole can save HOURS of digging in hard rocky soil for a primitive sewer system. (I never dreamed that I would be so happy to see armadillos this far north.) I emptied my lil’ chamber pot into not one, but TWO abandoned armadillo tunnels for the entire three years of camping. When I didn’t have money to buy lime for odor and fly control, I discovered that wood ashes from the campfire worked just as well.
The education I got in the school of hard knocks was priceless. As Mark Twain (my hero!) once said: A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
Financial deprivation and other constraints taught me how to do a lot of things in unconventional ways. If I had the money or the means to do things “normally,” I might have never pursued alternatives on my own.
Now I can honestly say I have a well-rounded education. Growing up in New Orleans, I learned more than I wanted to know about urban survival. I also learned more than I cared to know–in spite of my earnest best efforts to evacuate–getting trapped and riding out stuff like Katrina, and plenty of other messes. I spent many years in my beloved swamps, in deepest, darkest Louisiana, which taught me a lot, including how to eat anything that doesn’t eat me first, lol. And because I refused to chicken-out, I can add long-term rough-camping and so much more to the mix.
There is no substitute for experience. In the hard times coming to this world, I won’t be frantically looking for this book or that book to learn the things I will need to know to survive. And as a bonus, I may be able to help others who may need my knowledge of herbal healing, foraging, hunting, fishing, flintknapping, primitive living skills and so on.
So, if life deals a bad hand? There is hope if you really believe this:
Sorrow looks back…
Worry looks around…
Faith looks up…
By the way, I am not a spring chicken, just a little old crazy woman now, barely over five feet tall, 62 years young…and too stupid to believe anyone who tells me, “it can’t be done.”
Sheesh, this is one ridiculously long post! I am almost too embarrassed to hit the send button…but what the heck, here goes…
- This topic was modified 1 month ago by Grizzlyette Adams.
July 21, 2019 at 7:57 am #21061
It may be a “Sheesh, this is one ridiculously long post!” but it is a good one!
Welcome! Look forward to more of your posts!
July 21, 2019 at 8:27 am #21062
That was one heck of a compelling read. Welcome aboard!
July 21, 2019 at 12:16 pm #21063
Welcome aboard! What you’ve done is awesome.
July 21, 2019 at 7:49 pm #21066
Thank y’all for the welcomes. I like to encourage folks to think they can do anything they put their minds to. If I can do it, almost anyone can (hopefully not in the same way, lol).
July 22, 2019 at 11:20 am #21074
Wow. Very impressive. You have experienced a lot of living. Can’t hardly wait to more of what you have done.
July 22, 2019 at 2:06 pm #21075
LOL, yes a lot of living was crammed into those three years, f’sure. And, lots more in over a half-century of living on this Blue Marble we live on. But in spite of best-laid plans and (mostly) careful living, I managed to earn the title: “Crap Creek Survivor.”
July 22, 2019 at 11:41 pm #21080
@ Grizzlyette Adams
I too am interested in herbal medicine and make some of it- also foraging. What medicines do you make?
This spring I made balm of Gilead salve- also called balsam poplar (my favorite is comfrey) and chaga tincture is in the works.
July 24, 2019 at 5:21 am #21094
July 23, 2019 at 10:09 pm #21087
That’s truly amazing – are you looking for any paid writing work? I would LOVE to publish this! If you aren’t interested, no problem, but if you want to share more of what you learned drop me an email at email@example.com Seriously.
July 24, 2019 at 4:25 am #21090
Daisy, thank you for the kudos! I will email you soon.
July 24, 2019 at 5:24 am #21097
Woodsrunner, I have more favorites than I can shake a stick at, but a few at the top of the list of healing plant medicines include:
elderberry syrup & tincture
teas and tinctures made with a blend of roots from 3 species of echinacea:
e. angustfolia, e. purpurea, and e. pallida (I used this internally and externally on my rattlesnake bite, and strongly believe that this saved my life and the leg that the docs were contemplating amputation.)
I’m also a fan of plants that contain thymol such as thyme, oregano, wild bergamot/bee-balm, etc. Thymol is incredibly useful in so many applications that it boggles the mind.
Some of these plants also have insect-repelling properties which would be especially valuable during hard times!
more on that later!
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