Friday, December 31, 2010

Survival: Tropical Weather

Most people think of the tropics as a huge and forbidding tropical rain forest through which every step taken must be hacked out, and where every inch of the way is crawling with danger. Actually, over half of the land in the tropics is cultivated in some way.

A knowledge of field skills, the ability to improvise, and the application of the principles of survival will increase the prospects of survival. Do not be afraid of being alone in the jungle; fear will lead to panic. Panic will lead to exhaustion and decrease your chance of survival.

Everything in the jungle thrives, including disease germs and parasites that breed at an alarming rate. Nature will provide water, food, and plenty of materials to build shelters.

Indigenous peoples have lived for millennia by hunting and gathering. However, it will take an outsider some time to get used to the conditions and the nonstop activity of tropical survival.

High temperatures, heavy rainfall, and oppressive humidity characterize equatorial and subtropical regions, except at high altitudes. At low altitudes, temperature variation is seldom less than 10 degrees C and is often more than 35 degrees C. At altitudes over 1,500 meters, ice often forms at night. The rain has a cooling effect, but when it stops, the temperature soars.

Rainfall is heavy, often with thunder and lightning. Sudden rain beats on the tree canopy, turning trickles into raging torrents and causing rivers to rise. Just as suddenly, the rain stops. Violent storms may occur, usually toward the end of the summer months.

Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons develop over the sea and rush inland, causing tidal waves and devastation ashore. In choosing campsites, make sure you are above any potential flooding. Prevailing winds vary between winter and summer. The dry season has rain once a day and the monsoon has continuous rain. In Southeast Asia, winds from the Indian Ocean bring the monsoon, but it is dry when the wind blows from the landmass of China.

Tropical day and night are of equal length. Darkness falls quickly and daybreak is just as sudden.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Medical: Desert Survival: Precautions

In a desert survival situation, take extra care to avoid heat injuries. Rest during the day. Work during the cool evenings and nights. Observe the following guidelines:

* Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
* Watch for signs of heat injury. If someone complains of tiredness or wanders away from the group, he may be a heat casualty.
* Drink water at least once an hour.
* Get in the shade when resting; do not lie directly on the ground.
* Do not take off your shirt and work during the day.
* Check the color of your urine. A light color means you are drinking enough water, a dark color means you need to drink more.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Food: Cranberry

Vaccinium macrocarpon

Description: This plant has tiny leaves arranged alternately. Its stem creeps along the ground. Its fruits are red berries.

Habitat and Distribution: It only grows in open, sunny, wet areas in the colder regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Edible Parts: The berries are very tart when eaten raw. Cook in a small amount of water and add sugar, if available, to make a jelly.

Other Uses: Cranberries may act as a diuretic. They are useful for treating urinary tract infections.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Animals: Moose

Not exactly a reindeer, but close enough.

The moose inhabits Canada and the United States, and they are found widespread in both these countries.

A large moose can stand about 2 metres tall at the shoulder, and be over 3 metres in length, and weigh up to 500 kgs. They are strange looking creatures, and one of the most distinct features (which also sets it apart from deer or elk) is the flap of skin known as the bell, which hands from its throat.

Due to their size, they have little predators. Wolves will often prey on moose, but usually only if the moose is very young, or sick. Bears will also occasionally prey on the moose.

Did you know? The moose is the largest member of the deer family.

Moose are herbivores, and will eat plant type foods. They feed on twigs and leaves of trees. They will also often wander into water two metres deep, to feed on water lillies.

The male moose is called a bull. The female moose is called a cow.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Survival: Desert: Environmental Factors

Surviving in an arid area depends on what you know and how prepared you are for the environmental conditions you will face. Determine what equipment you will need, the tactics you will use, and the environment's impact on you.

In a desert area there are seven environmental factors that you must consider--

* Low rainfall.
* Intense sunlight and heat.
* Wide temperature range.
* Sparse vegetation.
* High mineral content near ground surface.
* Sandstorms.
* Mirages.

Low Rainfall

Low rainfall is the most obvious environmental factor in an arid area. Some desert areas receive less than 10 centimeters of rain annually, and this rain comes in brief torrents that quickly run off the ground surface. You cannot survive long without water in high desert temperatures. In a desert survival situation, you must first consider "How much water do I have?" and "Where are other water sources?"

Intense Sunlight and Heat

Intense sunlight and heat are present in all arid areas. Air temperature can rise as high as 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) during the day. Heat gain results from direct sunlight, hot blowing winds, reflective heat (the sun's rays bouncing off the sand), and conductive heat from direct contact with the desert sand and rock.

The temperature of desert sand and rock averages 16 to 22 degrees C (30 to 40 degrees F) more than that of the air. For instance, when the air temperature is 43 degrees C (110 degrees F), the sand temperature may be 60 degrees C (140 degrees F).

Intense sunlight and heat increase the body's need for water. To conserve your body fluids and energy, you will need a shelter to reduce your exposure to the heat of the day. Travel at night to lessen your use of water.

Radios and sensitive items of equipment exposed to direct intense sunlight will malfunction.

Wide Temperature Range

Temperatures in arid areas may get as high as 55 degrees C during the day and as low as 10 degrees C during the night. The drop in temperature at night occurs rapidly and will chill a person who lacks warm clothing and is unable to move about. The cool evenings and nights are the best times to work or travel. If your plan is to rest at night, you will find a wool sweater, long underwear, and a wool stocking cap extremely helpful.

Sparse Vegetation

Vegetation is sparse in arid areas. You will therefore have trouble finding shelter and camouflaging your movements.

Follow the principles of desert camouflage--

* Seek shelter in dry washes (wadis) with thicker growths of vegetation and cover from oblique observation.
* Use the shadows cast from brush, rocks, or outcropping. The temperature in shaded areas will be 11 to 17 degrees C cooler than the air temperature.
* Cover objects that will reflect the light from the sun.

The emptiness of desert terrain causes most people to underestimate distance by a factor of three: What appears to be 1 kilometer away is really 3 kilometers away.

High Mineral Content

All arid regions have areas where the surface soil has a high mineral content (borax, salt, alkali, and lime). Material in contact with this soil wears out quickly, and water in these areas is extremely hard and undrinkable. Wetting your uniform in such water to cool off may cause a skin rash. The Great Salt Lake area in Utah is an example of this type of mineral-laden water and soil. There is little or no plant life; therefore, shelter is hard to find. Avoid these areas if possible.


Sandstorms (sand-laden winds) occur frequently in most deserts. The "Seistan" desert wind in Iran and Afghanistan blows constantly for up to 120 days. Within Saudi Arabia, winds average 3.2 to 4.8 kilometers per hour (kph) and can reach 112 to 128 kph in early afternoon. Expect major sandstorms and dust storms at least once a week.

The greatest danger is getting lost in a swirling wall of sand. Wear goggles and cover your mouth and nose with cloth. If natural shelter is unavailable, mark your direction of travel, lie down, and sit out the storm.

Dust and wind-blown sand interfere with radio transmissions. Therefore, be ready to use other means for signaling, such as pyrotechnics, signal mirrors, or marker panels, if available.


Mirages are optical phenomena caused by the refraction of light through heated air rising from a sandy or stony surface. They occur in the interior of the desert about 10 kilometers from the coast. They make objects that are 1.5 kilometers or more away appear to move.

This mirage effect makes it difficult for you to identify an object from a distance. It also blurs distant range contours so much that you feel surrounded by a sheet of water from which elevations stand out as "islands."

If you can get to high ground (3 meters or more above the desert floor), you can get above the superheated air close to the ground and overcome the mirage effect. Mirages make land navigation difficult because they obscure natural features. You can survey the area at dawn, dusk, or by moonlight when there is little likelihood of mirage.

Light levels in desert areas are more intense than in other geographic areas. Moonlit nights are usually crystal clear, winds die down, haze and glare disappear, and visibility is excellent. Sound carries very far.

Conversely, during nights with little moonlight, visibility is extremely poor. Traveling is extremely hazardous. You must avoid getting lost, falling into ravines, or stumbling into enemy positions. Movement during such a night is practical only if you have a compass and have spent the day in a shelter, resting, observing and memorizing the terrain, and selecting your route.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Medical: Desert Survival: Need for Water


The subject of man and water in the desert has generated considerable interest and confusion since the early days of World War II when the U. S. Army was preparing to fight in North Africa. At one time the U. S. Army thought it could condition men to do with less water by progressively reducing their water supplies during training. They called it water discipline. It caused hundreds of heat casualties.

A key factor in desert survival is understanding the relationship between physical activity, air temperature, and water consumption. The body requires a certain amount of water for a certain level of activity at a certain temperature. For example, a person performing hard work in the sun at 43 degrees C requires 19 liters of water daily. Lack of the required amount of water causes a rapid decline in an individual's ability to make decisions and to perform tasks efficiently.

Your body's normal temperature is 36.9 degrees C (98.6 degrees F). Your body gets rid of excess heat (cools off) by sweating. The warmer your body becomes--whether caused by work, exercise, or air temperature--the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more moisture you lose. Sweating is the principal cause of water loss. If a person stops sweating during periods of high air temperature and heavy work or exercise, he will quickly develop heat stroke. This is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

Figure 13-2 shows daily water requirements for various levels of work. Understanding how the air temperature and your physical activity affect your water requirements allows you to take measures to get the most from your water supply. These measures are--

* Find shade! Get out of the sun!
* Place something between you and the hot ground.
* Limit your movements!
* Conserve your sweat.

Roll the sleeves down, cover your head, and protect your neck with a scarf or similar item. These steps will protect your body from hot-blowing winds and the direct rays of the sun. Your clothing will absorb your sweat, keeping it against your skin so that you gain its full cooling effect. By staying in the shade quietly, fully clothed, not talking, keeping your mouth closed, and breathing through your nose, your water requirement for survival drops dramatically.

* If water is scarce, do not eat. Food requires water for digestion; therefore, eating food will use water that you need for cooling.

Thirst is not a reliable guide for your need for water. A person who uses thirst as a guide will drink only two-thirds of his daily water requirement. To prevent this "voluntary" dehydration, use the following guide:

* At temperatures below 38 degrees C, drink 0.5 liter of water every hour.
* At temperatures above 38 degrees C, drink 1 liter of water every hour.

Drinking water at regular intervals helps your body remain cool and decreases sweating. Even when your water supply is low, sipping water constantly will keep your body cooler and reduce water loss through sweating. Conserve your fluids by reducing activity during the heat of day. Do not ration your water! If you try to ration water, you stand a good chance of becoming a heat casualty.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Food: Coltsfoot

Petasites spp. (a.k.a. Tussilago spp.)

Description: This perennial herb rises from a thick creeping rhizome, with large basal leaves. The flower stalk grows up to 30 cm tall in early spring, fruiting and dying usually before the leaves show. The flowers are purple, white or yellow, the stem reddish. The leaves are from thumb size to 30 cm.

Habitat & Distribution: Coltsfoot can be found on stream banks, in swamps and wet tundra. It ranges from Alaska to Washington and into Alberta.

Edible parts and other uses: The young flowering stem is a tasty spring vegetable, steamed, or stir fried. The young leaves are also edible. The rootstock may be roasted and then eaten.

The most common use for this herb is cough suppression. It is applied to cases of whooping cough, asthma, bronchial congestion and shortness of breath. It was used (in the form of a smudge) by many Natives to cure problems caused by smoking too much. It has also been used for menstrual cramps.

Externally, a decoction or poultice can be made to alleviate the discomfort of sores, insect bites and arthritic pain.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Animals: Canadian Lynx

Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)

The Canadian Lynx stands about 30-40 cms tall, and ranges in length from about 90-110 cms. They weigh anywhere between 10-20 kgs. The lynx has characteristics that stand out, such as its amazing triangular shaped ears with black tufts at the end. The lynx usually has thick light brown or grayish colored fur which helps to keep it warm during cold winters. They have large paws which assist them in moving fast through the snow.

The Canadian Lynx inhabits Canada, and also the northern United States and Alaska.

These cats are too small to hunt people, but will hunt domesticated cats and birds, etc. The lynx is a carnivorous animal, meaning that it only feeds on meat. The lynx feeds on the snowshoe hare wherever possible, and will feed solely on these if given the opportunity. Their sharp claws and teeth aid them in their hunt, and they can bring down animals as large as a deer. The lynx is also known to store food for later consumption, and they do this by covering the carrion (dead animal) with snow.

They are agile creatures, and can climb trees with ease. They will use their position in a tree as a vantage point, spotting potential prey. Once spotted, they can leap from the branch and pounce on their prey.

After the lynx has bought down its prey, and ready to feast it may be interrupted by animals such as the wolverine. The wolverine will growl and snare at the lynx, and the lynx will not contest with the wolverine, leaving its fresh kill for the other animal.

Fact: The Canadian lynx will cover its prey with snow for later feeding.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Survival: Desert Terrain

To survive and evade in arid or desert areas, you must understand and prepare for the environment you will face. You must determine your equipment needs, the tactics you will use, and how the environment will affect you and your tactics. Your survival will depend upon your knowledge of the terrain, basic climatic elements, your ability to cope with these elements, and your will to survive.

Most arid areas have several types of terrain. The five basic desert terrain types are--

* Mountainous (High Altitude).
* Rocky plateau.
* Sand dunes.
* Salt marshes.
* Broken, dissected terrain ("gebel" or "wadi").

Desert terrain makes movement difficult and demanding. Land navigation will be extremely difficult as there may be very few landmarks. Cover and concealment may be very limited; therefore, the threat of exposure to the enemy remains constant.
Mountain Deserts

Scattered ranges or areas of barren hills or mountains separated by dry, flat basins characterize mountain deserts. High ground may rise gradually or abruptly from flat areas to several thousand meters above sea level. Most of the infrequent rainfall occurs on high ground and runs off rapidly in the form of flash floods. These floodwaters erode deep gullies and ravines and deposit sand and gravel around the edges of the basins. Water rapidly evaporates, leaving the land as barren as before, although there may be short-lived vegetation. If enough water enters the basin to compensate for the rate of evaporation, shallow lakes may develop, such as the Great Salt Lake in Utah, or the Dead Sea. Most of these lakes have a high salt content.

Rocky Plateau Deserts

Rocky plateau deserts have relatively slight relief interspersed with extensive flat areas with quantities of solid or broken rock at or near the surface. There may be steep-walled, eroded valleys, known as wadis in the Middle East and arroyos or canyons in the United States and Mexico. Although their flat bottoms may be superficially attractive as assembly areas, the narrower valleys can be extremely dangerous to men and material due to flash flooding after rains. The Golan Heights is an example of a rocky plateau desert.

Sandy or Dune Deserts

Sandy or dune deserts are extensive flat areas covered with sand or gravel. "Flat" is a relative term, as some areas may contain sand dunes that are over 300 meters high and 16 to 24 kilometers long. Trafficability in such terrain will depend on the windward or leeward slope of the dunes and the texture of the sand. Other areas, however, may be flat for 3,000 meters and more. Plant life may vary from none to scrub over 2 meters high. Examples of this type of desert include the edges of the Sahara, the empty quarter of the Arabian Desert, areas of California and New Mexico, and the Kalahari in South Africa.

Salt Marshes

Salt marshes are flat, desolate areas, sometimes studded with clumps of grass but devoid of other vegetation. They occur in arid areas where rainwater has collected, evaporated, and left large deposits of alkali salts and water with a high salt concentration. The water is so salty it is undrinkable. A crust that may be 2.5 to 30 centimeters thick forms over the saltwater.

In arid areas there are salt marshes hundreds of kilometers square. These areas usually support many insects, most of which bite. Avoid salt marshes. This type of terrain is highly corrosive to boots, clothing, and skin. A good example is the Shat-el-Arab waterway along the Iran-Iraq border.

Broken Terrain

All arid areas contain broken or highly dissected terrain. Rainstorms that erode soft sand and carve out canyons form this terrain. A wadi may range from 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep to several hundred meters wide and deep. The direction it takes varies as much as its width and depth. It twists and turns and forms a mazelike pattern. A wadi will give you good cover and concealment, but do not try to move through it because it is very difficult terrain to negotiate.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Medical: Desert survival: Issues with Heat

Your chances of becoming a heat casualty as a survivor are great, due to injury, stress, and lack of critical items of equipment. Following are the major types of heat casualties and their treatment when little water and no medical help are available.

Heat Cramps

The loss of salt due to excessive sweating causes heat cramps. Symptoms are moderate to severe muscle cramps in legs, arms, or abdomen. These symptoms may start as a mild muscular discomfort. You should now stop all activity, get in the shade, and drink water. If you fail to recognize the early symptoms and continue your physical activity, you will have severe muscle cramps and pain. Treat as for heat exhaustion, below.

Heat Exhaustion

A large loss of body water and salt causes heat exhaustion. Symptoms are headache, mental confusion, irritability, excessive sweating, weakness, dizziness, cramps, and pale, moist, cold (clammy) skin. Immediately get the patient under shade. Make him lie on a stretcher or similar item about 45 centimeters off the ground. Loosen his clothing. Sprinkle him with water and fan him. Have him drink small amounts of water every 3 minutes. Ensure he stays quiet and rests.

Heat Stroke

A severe heat injury caused by extreme loss of water and salt and the body's inability to cool itself. The patient may die if not cooled immediately. Symptoms are the lack of sweat, hot and dry skin, headache, dizziness, fast pulse, nausea and vomiting, and mental confusion leading to unconsciousness. Immediately get the person to shade. Lay him on a stretcher or similar item about 45 centimeters off the ground. Loosen his clothing. Pour water on him (it does not matter if the water is polluted or brackish) and fan him. Massage his arms, legs, and body. If he regains consciousness, let him drink small amounts of water every 3 minutes.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Food: Chicory

Cichorium intybus

Description: This plant grows up to 1.8 meters tall. It has leaves clustered at the base of the stem and some leaves on the stem. The base leaves resemble those of the dandelion. The flowers are sky blue and stay open only on sunny days. Chicory has a milky juice.

Habitat and Distribution: Look for chicory in old fields, waste areas, weedy lots, and along roads. It is a native of Europe and Asia, but is also found in Africa and most of North America where it grows as a weed.

Edible Parts: All parts are edible. Eat the young leaves as a salad or boil to eat as a vegetable. Cook the roots as a vegetable. For use as a coffee substitute, roast the roots until they are dark brown and then pulverize them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Animals: The White-Tailed Deer

Where they live?

This deer can be found in southern regions of Canada in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

It likes the wooded areas where it can hide in the trees and eat leaves.


The white-tailed deer is about 2 metres in length and 1 metre high to the shoulders.

Males have large antlers that make them look taller. They shed the antlers in the winter but a new set grows in the summer.

In the summer the back and sides of the deer's coat are brown. In the winter the brown coat turns greyish. The stomach and insides of the legs are white. The underside of the tail is white.


Deer eat grasses and leaves. They will also eat mushrooms and berries. In the winter deer nibble on twigs and buds. Deer also eat the grain that is left in farmers' fields after the harvest.

The white-tailed deer eats its food twice. It has four stomachs. The deer starts eating early in the morning. It gobbles down grass and leaves to fill the first stomach. Then while it takes a rest the food goes into the second stomach where it turns into little balls. Now the deer can bring the food back up to its mouth and chew it well. The chewed food goes to the third and fourth stomachs.

The young

One or two fawns are born in May. They are able to stand and walk shortly after birth. Newborns are protected by a lack of scent. Their enemies cannot smell them. The mother keeps the young fawns hidden in the thick bushes. Fawns' coats have hundreds of white spots which disappear when they are 3 to 4 months old.

The mother does not stay with the fawns but checks up on them 5 or 6 times during the day to feed them. The young deer stay with their mothers for one or two years.

A buck fawn (young male) has bumps on his skull where the antlers will grow.


Man, the wolf, lynx, coyote, bobcat and cougar are the deer's enemies. Even though a deer is very fast a pack of wolves or coyotes is able to catch them. The deer cannot run fast if the ground is covered with deep snow. The deer's thin legs sink into the deep snow.

Protection and adaptations

When the deer is alarmed it raises its tail like a flag and dashes away. The flash of white fur warns the other deer.

Deer have a keen sense of smell, good hearing and good eyesight.

With its antlers and sharp hooves the male deer can sometimes kill a wolf. It will butt the wolf with its horns and then stamp on it with its feet.

To prepare for the winter deer grow a thick coat and eat a lot of food to store up body fat. If it is a very long and cold winter deer may gather in small groups for protection from the cold.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Survival: Windchill

Windchill increases the hazards in cold regions. Windchill is the effect of moving air on exposed flesh. For instance, with a 27.8-kph (15-knot) wind and a temperature of -10 degrees C, the equivalent windchill temperature is -23 degrees C. The figure below gives the windchill factors for various temperatures and wind speeds.

Remember, even when there is no wind, you will create the equivalent wind by skiing, running, being towed on skis behind a vehicle, working around aircraft that produce wind blasts.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Medical: Psychology of Survival: Preparing Yourself

Know Yourself

Through reading, family, and friends take the time to discover who you are on the inside. Strengthen your stronger qualities and develop the areas that you know are necessary to survive.

Anticipate Fears

Don't pretend that you will have no fears. Begin thinking about what would frighten you the most if forced to survive alone. Train in those areas of concern to you. The goal is not to eliminate the fear, but to build confidence in your ability to function despite your fears.

Be Realistic

Don't be afraid to make an honest appraisal of situations. See circumstances as they are, not as you want them to be. Keep your hopes and expectations within the estimate of the situation. When you go into a survival setting with unrealistic expectations, you may be laying the groundwork for bitter disappointment. Follow the adage, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." It is much easier to adjust to pleasant surprises about one's unexpected good fortunes than to be upset by one's unexpected harsh circumstances.

Adopt a Positive Attitude

Learn to see the potential good in everything. Looking for the good not only boosts morale, it also is excellent for exercising your imagination and creativity.
Remind Yourself What Is at Stake

Remember, failure to prepare yourself psychologically to cope with survival leads to reactions such as depression, carelessness, inattention, loss of confidence, poor decision-making, and giving up before the body gives in. At stake is your life and the lives of others who are depending on you to do your share.


Through life experiences, begin today to prepare yourself to cope with the rigors of survival. Demonstrating your skills in training will give you the confidence to call upon them should the need arise. Remember, the more realistic the training, the less overwhelming an actual survival setting will be.

Learn Stress Management Techniques

People under stress have a potential to panic if they are not well-trained and not prepared psychologically to face whatever the circumstances may be. While we often cannot control the survival circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is within our ability to control our response to those circumstances. Learning stress management techniques can enhance significantly your capability to remain calm and focused as you work to keep yourself and others alive. A few good techniques to develop include relaxation skills, time management skills, assertiveness skills, and cognitive restructuring skills (the ability to control how you view a situation).

Remember, "the will to survive" can also be considered to be "the refusal to give up."


Friday, December 3, 2010

Food: Cattail

Typha latifolia

Description: Cattails are grasslike plants with strap-shaped leaves 1 to 5 centimeters wide and growing up to 1.8 meters tall. The male flowers are borne in a dense mass above the female flowers. These last only a short time, leaving the female flowers that develop into the brown cattail. Pollen from the male flowers is often abundant and bright yellow.

Habitat and Distribution: Cattails are found throughout most of the world. Look for them in full sun areas at the margins of lakes, streams, canals, rivers, and brackish water.

Edible Parts: The young tender shoots are edible raw or cooked. The rhizome is often very tough but is a rich source of starch. Pound the rhizome to remove the starch and use as a flour. The pollen is also an exceptional source of starch. When the cattail is immature and still green, you can boil the female portion and eat it like corn on the cob.

Other Uses: The dried leaves are an excellent source of weaving material you can use to make floats and rafts. The cottony seeds make good pillow stuffing and insulation. The fluff makes excellent tinder. Dried cattails are effective insect repellents when burned.



Cattail Fried Rice

This savory version of a well-known Chinese dish combines left-over rice with wild plants.
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup peeled and chopped cattail shoots
1 cup shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili paste or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the cattails, shallots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the rice is hot. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
Serves 4


Raw Cattail Soup

When I was invited to a raw food potluck dinner, creating an extraordinary recipe posed a psychological challenge for me because I disagree with the theory that it’s more healthful to eat only raw food. I was quite pleased to come up with a successful raw, wild variant of a traditional iced Greek yogurt and cucumber soup. The party guests consumed it completely soon after it was served.
2-1/2 cups almonds
10 cups water, or as needed
2 cups sliced cattail shoots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh spearmint leaves or other mint leaves, finely chopped
The juice of half a lemon

1. Cover the almonds with water and soak, refrigerated, 6 hours to overnight.

2. Puree the soaked almonds, about 2 cups at a time, with about 3 cups of the water at a time in a blender until all the almonds have been pureed.

3. Pour the almond-water puree into a colander lined with cheesecloth or thin nylon fabric over a bowl. Twist the top of the cloth and squeeze the remaining water.

4. Discard the pulp and mix the remaining ingredients with the almond milk. Serve chilled.

Serves 6
Preparation Time: overnight + 20 min.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Animals: Beaver

The beaver lives by rivers where there are trees nearby. Beavers can be found from northern Canada all the way down to the southern United States.


The beaver is the largest rodent in North America. A full grown beaver can weigh from 16 to 32 kg. It can be from 60 to 80 cm. in length. Beavers has long sharp front teeth.

A beaver's tail is flat (about 30 cm. long) and covered with scales. The beaver uses the tail to steer when swimming or for balance when sitting on land. If an enemy is near, the beaver slaps its tail on the water to warn other beavers. The tail is not used to plaster mud on dams or lodges.

The beaver's legs are short. It is not able to move quickly on land. But the beaver is a strong swimmer under water and on the surface of the water. The large hind feet are webbed. The small front paws are not.

The front feet have sharp claws. The beaver uses the claws for digging up mud and stones. The beaver uses its front feet for carrying mud and branches. With its back feet the beaver spreads a waterproofing oil on its fur. The beaver's fur has to be oily to keep the animal waterproof.

The beaver has strong, sharp front teeth for cutting down trees. It chews and chews around the tree trunk till the tree falls down. The bark and leaves are eaten. The branches are used for building a dam and a home.

Beavers are hard workers. They work together to build the dam and the home. They make a pond by building the dam across a stream. The dam holds back the water and a deep pond is formed. Then the beavers build their home in the middle of the pond where they are safe from most enemies.

The beaver is well adapted for swimming. It can see well under water. Over its small eyes there is a thin see-through lid. The beaver's nostrils and ears can be closed when swimming .

The front teeth are very strong and sharp for gnawing and cutting down trees. Beavers pull smaller branches with their teeth. Bigger logs are rolled down to the pond with their front paws or their nose or the top of their heads.


The beaver lives near wooded streams. Beavers are found in most parts of Canada (the north, the west and on the prairies). In the rest of North America the beaver's range extends from Alaska to the southern United States.

The beaver builds a home (lodge) made of mud and branches. The inside of the beaver's home consists of one or more underwater passages, a feeding area and a dry area for the nest. Most lodges are about 5 metres wide and 2 metres high. There is a fresh air hole at the top (roof) of the lodge.

The trees are dragged to the water. A dam is made of branches, mud and rocks. This dams holds back the water amd a deep pond is formed. The pond must be deep enough so water will not freeze to the bottom.

Mud is plastered on the outside of the lodge to make it strong. This prevents enemies from breaking in. The mud also helps keep the inside warm during the winter.

Beavers may also build dens or burrows along river banks. Sometimes they live in these bank burrows while they are building their lodge. The burrows are also a place to hide from enemies.

In the winter the beaver family stays inside a lodge. There can be six or more in the lodge including parents, yearlings and kits. They do not hibernate. Enough food must be stored to last all winter. The beaver's food pile of twigs and branches is at the bottom of the pond close to the entrance to the lodge. During the winter the beaver dives down to get some food.


Beavers eat the bark and leaves of trees . Their favorite tree is the aspen. Beavers also eat grasses, berries and waterplants.


Beavers mate for life. Early in the summer ( May or June ) the female has a litter of three or four kits. The newborn have fur, teeth and can see and walk. The babies remain inside for about a month. The yearlings act as babysitters for the new litter. During their second year, young beavers help their parents repair the dam and lodge and gather food for winter. Young beavers stay with their parents until they are two years old.


In the winter the beaver family stays inside the lodge. They do not hibernate. The beavers keep a pile of branches at the bottom of the pond. During the winter the hungry beaver dives down to get food.


Wolves, coyotes, bears, the wolverine and lynx are enemies of the beaver. Beavers can be easily caught when they are on land. River otters have been known to slip into the lodge and kill the kits. In the winter when the water is frozen, predators can walk right up to the lodge. These animals may try to break into the lodge.


Indians called the beaver the "sacred centre" of the land because beavers create habitats for other mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, birds and ducks. Beavers can change the landscape by damming streams. Much of the flooded area becomes wetlands. Many endangered and threatened animals rely on the wetlands for their survival.

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