September 2005 Archives

Friday, September 30, 2005

This region is on the east side of the Blue Mountains

Statistics (for La Grande):
Average high temperature in August: 85.
Average low temperature in January: 23.1.
Average snowfall in January: 6.7”.

Growing season: 160 days.
Advantages: Proximity to good hunting and firewood sources in “The Blues.” More plentiful water than in many other parts of eastern Oregon. Fairly diverse agriculture. Grande Ronde Valley crops are primarily wheat, hay, and barley, with some oats, apples, cherries, sugar beets, and beans.
From the Oregon Blue Book: “The Grande Ronde Valley in Union County is nearly table flat and is covered with the rich silt of an old lake bed. Highly diversified, with an annual rainfall of twenty inches, the valley boasts of never having had a general crop failure. The county's 1,092 farms average 473 acres a unit.”
Disadvantages: A major interstate freeway (I-84) passes through the region, so look for places that are away from the freeway. Downwind from Seattle if the winds are atypical.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 2 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 6 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 4 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

I am an non-denominational Christian, (not a Mormon), but I do appreciate the fairness you exhibit on your blog. The Mormon man's recent comments were good reading and I hope his view is representative of all Mormons. Thank you for your fairness and honesty.

ABOUT KNIVES: I have found that the Cold Steel "Recon Bowie" with its 5/16' thick blade is an excellent field knife which can be used like a hatchet and it is quite tough. It's big brother - the Trailmaster Series is also another great large knife.

ABOUT OLIVE OIL: I purchased a three liter can of Bertolli Brand "Classico, Full Bodied & Mild" olive oil in July of 1998. It was stored in a dark cool place in the basement (average temperature about 60F). I opened this can in late 2004 and the oil was fresh, and is still fresh now at the bottom of the can after using it for the last 11 months. God Bless you, and your sweet family. - Christian Souljer

JWR Replies: I definitely prefer using and storing olive oil rather than vegetable oil. The vegetable oil sold in stores goes rancid very quickly--in fact it verges on being rancid even when it is sold freshly bottled. Olive oil is more healthy to use in cooking and baking and as you pointed out, it has a long shelf life.

Hello from a long-time fan. With some of the discussions going into how to build a home that will be designed with survival in mind, I’d thought that the following may be useful (If you haven’t seen this stuff already).

I’ve been researching extensively differing home structures and came across what the owners of this home call “The Ultimate Secure Home” See:

Now I’m not advocating anyone buy this place, but it is chock-full “Secure Home”. What scenarios to consider like plague, economic collapse, fire, and items dealing with water support, off-grid power, communications…etc. Also the unique dome-structure itself that has inherent security features which led me to a company called Formworks Building Inc. See: They are experts in designing thin concrete-shelled Earth homes using a unique steel reinforcement structure that (according to them) will cost no more than a standard framed home. Best Regards, - R.G.

Mr. Rawles,
I realize you are busy, and appreciate any response you can supply. I am residing about 20 miles out of St. Louis, Missouri. I realize my close proximity to such a large urban area is far from ideal, but I do not have the financial security to quit the job and move out to a less populated area. Now, my question is not in regard to my specific area. Rather, my question is regarding the rest of Missouri. I have friends owning land in central Missouri in a small community that have extended an offer to allow me to bunk with them if worst comes to worst. I do not see Missouri on your Top 19 list, and I wonder how it ranks up in your personal opinion? I can certainly research my state's ranking as compared to other states, but any opinion you could share on Missouri would be appreciated. Thanks! - B.J.

JWR Replies: As mentioned in previous posts, I don't consider anything in that portion of the country to be survivable if and when things get truly Schumeresque. (Too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.) Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details.

I am not familiar enough with Missouri to make any specific locale recommendations. All that I can say with relatiive certainty is that its population density makes it marginal for a grid down situation. Some rural parts of the state might pull through in a grid up situation. But once the grid goes down, all bets are off. With that much population you would have devote all your manpower to security. Then who is going to handle the gardening?

Perhaps someone who reads the blog who also lives in a rural portion of Missouri will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

Hello Jim,
I really enjoyed Buckshot’s post on eating wild game. Like him we eat “off the land,” on a regular basis. There is bear, beaver, turtle, pheasant, muskrat, rabbit, squirrel and venison in our freezer right now. We recently tried canning up some blue gill with great success.Free food is out there for the taking and it is good. Get started now and find out for yourself, which is the best way to fix game to your tastes. By the way we like to brown the cut up muskrat, place it in a roaster, make gravy in the frying pan and pour over the meat. Put some dressing balls on top the meat and cook it for a couple of hours at 350 degrees. (This will tenderize the meat if you are cooking an older animal) Make some mashed potatoes and you have a feast. Remember folks, anyone that will eat chicken will eat anything! Just follow a chicken around for a day and you’ll know what I mean. I should add that I have not eaten everything in our AO though. I killed a opossum one day, with the intention of cleaning it, but it was so ugly I decided that I was not that hungry (at least at that time). We keep a number of traps around our house. A double spring conibear (a step up from the 110 size) has a 7” opening and will work it’s magic on most of the “small deer” that Buckshot was referring to.

As an FYI, here is a link for vitamins that are advertised to store for 10 years. I use these vitamins myself and would recommend Nitro-Pak. Their customer service is excellent. Keep up the great work, and God Bless. - John & Abigail Adams

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”
- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 29, 2005

When you patronize any SurvivalBlog advertiser, please tell them where you saw their ad.

The agricultural Umpqua River Valley is one of my most highly recommended regions in Oregon. Unlike the Willamette Valley--Oregon's largest agricultural region, which may get swarmed by the masses from Portland and Salem, the Umpqua River Valley has relative geographic isolation. However, the proximity of the major population centers of northern California are troubling. The Umpqua valley wraps around west from Roseburg, Oregon.
Concentrate on small towns like Melrose, Cleveland, and Umpqua.
According to Oregon State University (OSU)’s School of Agriculture, Umpqua River Valley crops include: snap beans, beets, head cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, medicinal and culinary herbs, onions, green peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, and various vegetable seed crops.
Statistics (for Roseburg):
Growing season: 217 days.
Average snowfall in January: 3.5” (6.1” annually).
Median residential home price in Roseburg: $129,940.
Advantages: Very long growing season and very diverse agriculture. Upwind from all anticipated nuclear targets except for Roseburg, which might be a tertiary target in a full scale exchange. From “Extremes of heat and cold are rare. The summer humidity is low and snowfall is rare on the valley floor. The normal growing season is 217 days. Roseburg enjoys one of the lowest average wind velocities in the United States.” Good small mouth bass and steelhead fishing in the South Umpqua River.
Disadvantages: Proximity to California. Large seasonal population of migrant farm workers.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 2 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 1 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

"I could never eat that!" I can't tell you the numbers of times I have heard that one! With normal grocery-store-plastic-and-foam-to-grill crowd I can understand that statement. But from hunters? I have seen people look down their nose at suggesting eating wild game but mention other animals and they freak out. Mention eating muskrats and people look at you like you are from Mars and have two heads. They have that "Stay away from my children" look. I find it amusing. Muskrat (a.k.a. Marsh Rabbit) is said to have a rat tail. But true rat tail is round whereas a marsh rabbit's tail is flat on the sides.)

This reminds of old western movie I saw with Paul Newman. A lady says "I could never eat a dog." Paul Newman replies " Lady if you were really hungry I mean really hunger not just missing a meal but not having a meal in three days. You would gladly eat it and fight over the bones to suck the marrow out." In a lot of ways I feel like Paul Newman if you were really hungry you would gladly eat it.

For many years in Louisiana have been called "marsh rabbits" think about it you are hunting rabbits miles from anywhere around a small farm pond you shoot a rabbit. I bet that rabbit would be good eating, right? Now take it one more step in the pond is muskrats they live and feed on almost the same kind of food, plant life. How come the rabbit is a prize and the muskrat is scorned? Program response because people have been lead to believe that anything with the word "Rat" in it is unfit for human consumption. I remember the time when I was single and sharing an apartment with two other guys. I spent a day making jerky. They came home and the kitchen table was covered with finished jerky that was cooling before packing. They ask if they could try some. I said sure why not. They were eating and raving about how great it was. After both had eaten 3 or more pieces they ask what kind of meat it
was. I smiled and said guess? Tasted like farm raise beef kind of lean. Maybe an old bull that was why it was chewy. Nope, snapping turtle, I reply. One guy immediately ran to bathroom to puke. The other guy grabbed another piece and said that it was great. You see it was all psychological for the guy who puked. Just seconds before raving about how good it was until he found out what it was.

Muskrat is the same way. Sometimes when a person becomes brave enough to try it they will gut a muskrat inside the house. This I will warn is a big mistake. Muskrat live a long time underwater and for some reason they really smell when you open their guts up. Make sure you clean them outside. Or if you just want to try it skin it leave the guts in and cut off the back legs. I did this last year on the back legs of m'rats and we BBQ on the grill. I can say with all honestly it was the best marsh rabbit I have ever cooked. How does this fit into a survival plan will you can easily trap them with 110 conibears, or if you are heading to a retreat you can make a multiply catch trap. Yes, this trap can catch up to 10 in one night but most customers report back they get between 3 and 5 a night.

But what other animals can you get? Learn to snare "small deer". What the heck are small deer? Raccoons, ground hogs, beaver, etc.. Even in most suburban areas there is plenty of animals running around like raccoons, ground hogs (woodchucks) squirrels, rabbits, marsh rabbits, etc. Raccoons are easy to snare once you learn how. Now raccoon are a very important survival food because 2 lbs of roasted coon meat equals 2500 calories. As US ROG stated 1 raccoon can provide a soldier 4 days worth of food. How you cook raccoons is very important they are very greasy but if you grill or roast them over a fire so the fat can drip off they are truly excellent. Another way is to par boil allowed to cool and strip the meat off and then make a stew.

Beaver another excellent food source. In fact they are one of my favorite wild game I like it better then venison. They taste real close to beef. My Survival Snaring and Water Trapping videos both cover catching these animals in detail. As one customer told me. "I took the back legs off and decide to roast it at work one day. Place two back legs in roasting pan pour over the meat 1 cup of Lipton onion soup and baked for 1 hour. Guys at work were at first real hesitant to try it. But finally they did and before I knew it almost all of it was gone. Afterwards everyone was asking when I was bringing more in."

I always hear that "all the animals will be wiped out". I smile when I hear this one. Please keep believing this more food for the rest of us. I have read hundreds of account of trappers who made it through the Great Depression. You can't hunt all the animals out like beaver and marsh rabbits--you need traps for that. You still should have store food but what if you can add 25-100 animals each year. Sure would stretch your food supply, won't it? By the way, I trapped in Michigan back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That was when some counties had unemployment at 25% (same as the Great Depression) I caught plenty of animals.

One last thing Pre-Y2K I was working a show selling conibears traps and snares. Two Air Force enlisted guys in uniform walk by and I ask if they want any traps they said "no I could never do that to an animal." I just smiled. The conibear trap was rated as one of the most humane traps for quick kills on the market. Just a different kind of mouse trap. But when these folks come back day, after day, after day, after day with no game from hunting they will wish to God they would have bought some trapping supplies. In a True TEOTWAWKI happens with no resupply possible and you are hungry for three days straight sure would be nice to whip out some traps and snare) and go catch dinner. But only if you can get over your programming of "I could never eat that!" - Buckshot

Hey Jim,
A gent recently wrote you regarding the reliability of the AK. This is something I can attest to first hand. Kind of a long story so I'll try to keep it short. My nephew had used one of my Polytech AK's one weekend he was visiting, cleaned it and gave it back. Let me preface this by saying that I've had this particular weapon almost 20 years now and have had no less than 30,000 rounds through it. And yes, the barrel is pretty shot out at this point, accuracy is about 1/3 of what it originally was. Anyway, the next time I used the rifle was for let's say a defensive rifle shooting competition. This involved engaging targets at varying ranges up to 200 yards under more than a little stress, movement, etc. Right from the start the action of the rifle felt "slow." I hesitated for a second cause I knew something was wrong with the rifle. I completed that course and was 90% through the next course of fire (about 400 rounds total) when the bolt locked back on the weapon. I went through the normal malfunction drill and the bolt would not move. It was stuck about halfway. I covered the last few targets with pistol fire to complete the course. I disassembled the AK to get the tension to release on the bolt and to figure out what had happened. It seems my nephew got the receiver cover to fit in UNDER the notch on the rear sight assembly (I didn't know that was even possible!) I mean the notch that the receiver cover is supposed to fit OVER. I found a broken piece of metal jammed next to the bolt carrier in the receiver. Upon further inspection I found HALF OF THE TRIGGER gone (it had broken off). The best I can figure is that the receiver cover forced the bolt carrier down into the receiver and somehow it sheared off part of the trigger. I put the weapon back together (now with HALF a trigger), checked the barrel and proceeded to shoot another couple hundred rounds that day. The trigger held up fine, it's one of those two leg type triggers. The hammer springs on those weapons are also double wound and designed to function at 90% even with one of the springs broke!

FWIW, I was really stupid at 17 years old. A friend and I used to bury our AKs in mud, sand, two feet of water and pull them up and fire them. This was back when they were $265 for an original Chinese AKS. It truly is a reliable weapon, I've seen it first hand. - Mr. Sierra

Just a little more information on Google Earth (also available for free from Google if you type "Google Earth" in and Google Maps satellite view (also free) - you can use street addresses any time - usually easiest done in 100 Main Street, 42276 or some similar fashion. It's also very easy with lat/long coordinates in the search field. There is a ton of information for free there. Also consider for older but more complete satellite maps. - L.C.

Hi Jim,

Our first mountain snow of the season here in Wyoming has re-vitalized our preparation efforts. We took a good, hard look at the homestead and made some substantial improvements this past week or two.

Transportation - I took my EMP-proof 1984 diesel 4X4 in for the new steering gear that has been on the back burner for some time. The new engine is now broken in, so I installed a dual filter system and switched to synthetic diesel-grade motor oil, which will only require semi-annual changes.

Backup Heating - We already had a wood burning stove in the lower level of the main house. Added a wood stove to the outbuilding that houses the pantry. To insure a long term supply of fuel, I called a local logger and ordered a logging-truck load of logs... specifying nothing larger than 10 inch diameter. A load costs about $1,000 and provides approximately 20 cords of wood. I replaced my old chainsaw and stocked up on extra chains, oil and supplies.

I ordered a 500 gallon tank of propane that will be used to fuel a backup generator that is on the planning board for next summer. In the interim, We can use it to heat the pantry with that high efficiency furnace (that my heating-contractor brother is trading me for an Elk hunt.)

(We keep between 2 and 3 years supply of food in the pantry and want to be sure it is protected from freezing should the balloon go up in mid-winter. Redundancy, Redundancy)

Bartering - Bought a few rolls of silver dimes to augment the one ounce silver rounds on hand. Added to reloading supplies. Inventoried the plexiglas, plywood, screws, nails, rolls of plastic, baling wire, barbed wire, twine, hand tools. Noted a dearth of alcoholic beverages. We're non-smokers, but a case or so of cigarettes might be useful Wampum.

Medical - Checked expiration dates and bought extra vitamins, aspirin, topical antiseptic and prescribed prescription medications.

Clothing - Found that my Carhart insulated coveralls had somehow shrunk. Replaced them and wonder how many pairs of Sorel insulated boots We live on high plains of Wyoming) I should have. Sometimes it's hard to visualize a world without Wal-Mart and Cabela's.

Books - Printed and audio... Can you imagine a snowy afternoon without books?

Keep the Faith, - The Regulator

I came across a website advertising a food storage calculator for $18. Here's a free one from the LDS Church.,11242,2008-1,00.html
It invites you to identify the gender/ages of family members to produce the custom report. By reading carefully, you will note you can manually change the suggested quantities to reflect your family's preferences. It's pretty complete and lets you calculate quantities by quarters (3 months, 6 months, all the way out to 3 years). One thing for sure: it will make you realize that money and proper storage area are important issues to deal with. Maybe most folks would be starting with a 3-month's supply and then adding as money and storage shelves etc. become available. OBTW, I think the water amount in a "family report" from the LDS Food Storage Calculator is only for preparing these foods. The amount of water at a gallon/day/person would quickly become impossible to store. So, a running water source is crucial, as you have regularly counseled. Better get started now. Remember the mantra: beans, then bullets. - B.B.

Hi Jim,

Our first mountain snow of the season here in Wyoming has re-vitalized our preparation efforts. We took a good, hard look at the homestead and made some substantial improvements this past week or two.

Transportation - I took my EMP-proof 1984 diesel 4X4 in for the new steering gear that has been on the back burner for some time. The new engine is now broken in, so I installed a dual filter system and switched to synthetic diesel-grade motor oil, which will only require semi-annual changes.

Backup Heating - We already had a wood burning stove in the lower level of the main house. Added a wood stove to the outbuilding that houses the pantry. To insure a long term supply of fuel, I called a local logger and ordered a logging-truck load of logs... specifying nothing larger than 10 inch diameter. A load costs about $1,000 and provides approximately 20 cords of wood. I replaced my old chainsaw and stocked up on extra chains, oil and supplies.

I ordered a 500 gallon tank of propane that will be used to fuel a backup generator that is on the planning board for next summer. In the interim, We can use it to heat the pantry with that high efficiency furnace (that my heating-contractor brother is trading me for an Elk hunt.)

(We keep between 2 and 3 years supply of food in the pantry and want to be sure it is protected from freezing should the balloon go up in mid-winter. Redundancy, Redundancy)

Bartering - Bought a few rolls of silver dimes to augment the one ounce silver rounds on hand. Added to reloading supplies. Inventoried the plexiglas, plywood, screws, nails, rolls of plastic, baling wire, barbed wire, twine, hand tools. Noted a dearth of alcoholic beverages. We're non-smokers, but a case or so of cigarettes might be useful Wampum.

Medical - Checked expiration dates and bought extra vitamins, aspirin, topical antiseptic and prescribed prescription medications.

Clothing - Found that my Carhart insulated coveralls had somehow shrunk. Replaced them and wonder how many pairs of Sorel insulated boots We live on high plains of Wyoming) I should have. Sometimes it's hard to visualize a world without Wal-Mart and Cabela's.

Books - Printed and audio... Can you imagine a snowy afternoon without books?

Keep the Faith, - The Regulator

My personal taste runs towards magazines like Backwoods Home and Countryside & Small Stock Journal. However, the once great Mother Earth News (now sadly yuppified) occasionally runs a great article. David in Israel recommended this one:

"If wisdom's ways you wisely seek,

Five things observe with care:

To whom you speak,

Of whom you speak,

And how, and when, and where."

- Caroline L. Ingalls (Mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Concentrate on small towns that are off of Interstate 5, such as Gold Hill and Jacksonville.
Josephine County crops: Hay, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, berries, garlic, and herbs.
Statistics (for Central Point):
Average high temperature in August: 90.
Average low temperature in January: 30.8.
Growing season: 165 days (1st of May to mid-October).
Average snowfall in January: 3.2”.
Median residential home price: (Rogue River): $145,000.
Median residential home price: (Gold Hill): $135,000.
Advantages: Mild climate with a long growing season. Upwind from all potential nuclear targets in CONUS.
Disadvantages: Proximity to California' s Golden Horde. All of Oregon suffers from the creeping Nanny State mentality that emanates from Salem.
Note: The valley of the Rogue was the late Mel Tappan’s preferred home/retreat locale.This region might be a good one to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 6 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 1 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)


Announcing The SurvivalBlog Writing Contest--The Prize: A Front Sight Four Day Course Certificate!

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Dear Mr Rawles:
Greetings from the UK. Thanks for the very interesting website. I have your book which I've read a few times now. I must admit to a certain envy with the potential you have over there to prepare for the possible difficult times ahead. Just as an exercise and to make some of the people living in even the most restrictive states feel not quite so bad I thought I'd do a run down in your style for England the 'state' in which I live. As you will know the United Kingdom is made of (leaving aside the anomalies like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and the province Northern Ireland.
Population: 60.8 million.
Population Density: 1211 per square mile
Area: 50,193 square miles
Average car insurance cost: £757/yr. (NB Today £1 = $1.78)
Average home insurance cost: £203/year
Crime Safety Ranking: probably worse than you think.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 0.0001%. (approx!)
Average per capita income: £34,197
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: ?.
Plusses: The countryside is still beautiful. Tradition and history still takes some beating. Still contains vestiges of our once greatness if you look really hard.
Minuses: Very dense population, (2nd only to the Netherlands in Europe) Very little in the way of personal freedoms, you know about the complete ban on private ownership of handguns. All other firearms are subject to government licensing. You can still own an air gun (just!) as long as it is less than 12 ft/lbs (rifle) or 6 ft/lbs (pistol). Illegal to carry any knife with fixed or lock blade or longer that 3” blade folding knife. England cannot be recommended for anyone with a hope to survive a TEOTWAWKI situation. Very little space to escape the teeming hoards that will flee the cities, and realistically nothing much in the way of defensive firearms to protect what you have. Of course the bad guys will always be able to get guns so the law abiding won’t stand a chance, humanly speaking. We have to remember that God is sovereign and still in control despite what we see around us and my hope is that he will guide us to prepare as best we can within the limitations.
Bob’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 51 of 19.

Just following the blog for the past few weeks it seems the biggest discussion is EMP. I have to say that the idea of an EMP far enough away from Air Force One to not blow the wings off will at worst disrupt HF radio for a few days/weeks as the ionosphere recovers from being charged up beautiful aurora would be expected. commercial aircraft would likely also be not adversely affected. The EMP myth started with the day after and grew massive, how much EMP is a car expected to survive before we consider it safe for survival purposes. When we consider risk we must consider aperture and sensitivity. A radio with a 100 meter wire antenna has both a large aperture to generate voltage as well as a very sensitive detector mechanism that can pick up micro changes in the resonant voltage on a given frequency. Your cars under hood electronics has neither long runs of wire (they are also partly shielded in a nice metal shell) nor are they sensitive, in fact they are designed somewhat hardened since they are subject to proximity to several thousand volt spark discharge nearby. As always ground everything that has an antenna, surge protect everything that connects to grid power and look for long wire runs like cable TV and telephone lines.
During the megaton Starfish Prime space blast that opened our eyes to EMP only grid power was affected because of the large aperture of running lines. Even the Intel 386 processor was EMP rated and military EMP rating is for close-in battlefield bursts. It is important to point out that most of the EMP radiation reaching the ground would be longer waves
typically below 30 MHz this means long antennas to get a good resonance. The rules for shortwave radio apply to EMP, you need a real antenna to fry electronics. .I need to get further information from my old E.E. professor (who was head engineer for aftermarket ignition parts design firm, after working designing systems for the F-111/FB-111) for further info and will get back to you with more mil-spec to civilian brand EMP resistance comparison info. For everyone reading they must know losing their car/truck to carjack, nuclear strike, mutated wombat hordes, or no fuel is not the end of the world. After your no power/gas/water tests do a no car test week. Take a bike/donkey/bus/walk to work, not every scenario starts with EMP, I place EMP in the same category as dirty bomb, it has never happened but there is so much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) surrounding the mythical EMP demon that any discussion automatically reverts to the scary movies and books you have seen.

JWR Replies: I agree that the EMP threat is widely misunderstood and misstated in the MSM. I have studied EMP off and and on for many years. (My first article on the subject was published in 1989 in Defense Electronics magazine.) The EMP threat is real, not mythical. It is true that the greatest risk is from EMP coupling to unintentional antennas such as phone lines or power lines. Keep in mind that the "antenna effect" is cumulative. The microcircuits that operate so many of our modern conveniences are installed in devices that are connected to grid power--and that constitutes an EMP antenna that stretches for hundreds of miles. It is also true that the 386 processors if the 1980s were specifically designed to be EMP-hardened. However, most microcircuits that have been made since then are very vulnerable--with gates (gaps between transistors) that are almost 1/10th that size. (To illustrate the significance of scaling on logic transistor density: The 386 generation chips had 1.0 micron width gates, 486s had 0.8 micron gates, Pentium Pros had 0.25 micron gates. The latest Pentium 4s have only 0.13 micron gates. And now 0.08 micron and even smaller gate-size chips are going into production.) With each generation of microcircuits, the vulnerability to EMP has steadily increased. The rise time for EMP is even faster than lightning. I do agree that the risk to vehicular ignition and fuel ignition systems might be overstated. However, a full scale EMP-optimized attack on the U.S. might do considerable damage to vehicular electronics. The extent of this damage will not be fully known until after we see that bright flash high in the sky. Prudence dictates that we prepare for the worst case. IMHO, each family should have at least one EMP-proof vehicle.

Sir, here is a short bit of advice about EMP: The older diesel farm tractors would probably be usable after an event because they have no chips or transistors to burn out, either in engines or transmissions. They'd be slow but still usable for as long as you have fuel with either gravity flow or manual pumps for fueling. Hook one to a trailer or former motor home and welcome to the post 21st century nomads. They could also power most PTO driven generators if the generator circuitry has escaped the EMP. In our area a lot of people collect old tractors for parades and farm shows, including townsfolk. Just a thought. Thanks, - Jim.

Another very neat -very free resource that is out there is the Google Earth program. It is available through Many of the aerial photos that are used are substandard or old. However much of Eastern Washington and a lot of Northern Idaho contain the most up to date and detailed color aerial photos. This program also allows you to drop down to above the Earth's surface and move around like you are flying. It also uses some topo functions to view the surface in relief. This tool may be very handy and useful for many scouting out the terrain. The only negative is that you must navigate from town centers. No legal [townshup and range descriptions] or street addresses can be used. It will teach you the skills of photo interpretation fairly quickly as you try and figure out where you are. Thought I would let you know. - EHB in North Idaho

As you say, the northeast is not so good for a variety of reasons. However, if one has to stay in that area for family, work or any number of other reasons there are areas where one can be more secure than you might expect. For example, I live in Central New York State. Our place is more then 40 miles in any direction to an interstate highway. The entire county has a population of just over 51k and a population density of about 57 per square mile. Most of this is concentrated in a few larger towns at least 18 miles away with 7k-8k of people. The town I live in has about 1000 inhabitants and a population density of about 12.7 per square mile. The area is very hilly and densely forested. The local economy is based on agriculture - mostly dairy, but some beef and a fair number of small holders with sheep, goats, chickens, etc. However, there are high tech operations as well such as aerospace, pharmaceutical, etc. within easy commuting distance. Of course there are 2 smaller cities (Syracuse and Binghamton) within 50-60 miles. NYC is about 230 miles away while Rochester is about 90 and Buffalo about 200.

In a slow slide scenario people will stay where they are and get whatever handouts they can get from government. In TEOTWAWKI scenario, in a few minutes of quality time with my chainsaw I can close off the road and make it difficult for anyone to approach my house. If my saw isn't working I can still do it with a handsaw/axe - although it will take more time ;-) I'd imagine that this would happen everywhere so vehicular travel anywhere but on the interstates (they are a bit wide to drop a tree across!) would become difficult quite rapidly. Not even ATVs can get over a decent log snag.

Another thing that one has to remember is that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, for about four months out of the year in this area - unless you are equipped - you aren't going anywhere. Also, if you aren't equipped, you ARE going to die from the cold. I am amazed by the number of people in this area who have lived here all there lives who do not have appropriate winter clothing, have no backup heating system, etc.! If TSHTF in the winter most people will die off before they get out of the city because they do not have the proper gear. Even if they do, walking through anything more than a few inches of snow is more than even a fit person can handle for much distance. So, in TEOTWAWKI scenario, for about 1/3 of the year we would be isolated by mother nature. Anyhow, these are my thoughts on the matter. Hopefully not too delusional. One must make the best of one's own situation. BTW I do enjoy SurvivalBlog and read it virtually every day. Sincerely, - T.P.

Dear Mr Rawles:
Greetings from the UK. Thanks for the very interesting website. I have your book which I've read a few times now. I must admit to a certain envy with the potential you have over there to prepare for the possible difficult times ahead. Just as an exercise and to make some of the people living in even the most restrictive states feel not quite so bad I thought I'd do a run down in your style for England the 'state' in which I live. As you will know the United Kingdom is made of (leaving aside the anomalies like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and the province Northern Ireland.
Population: 60.8 million.
Population Density: 1211 per square mile
Area: 50,193 square miles
Average car insurance cost: £757/yr. (NB Today £1 = $1.78)
Average home insurance cost: £203/year
Crime Safety Ranking: probably worse than you think.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 0.0001%. (approx!)
Average per capita income: £34,197
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: ?.
Plusses: The countryside is still beautiful. Tradition and history still takes some beating. Still contains vestiges of our once greatness if you look really hard.
Minuses: Very dense population, (2nd only to the Netherlands in Europe) Very little in the way of personal freedoms, you know about the complete ban on private ownership of handguns. All other firearms are subject to government licensing. You can still own an air gun (just!) as long as it is less than 12 ft/lbs (rifle) or 6 ft/lbs (pistol). Illegal to carry any knife with fixed or lock blade or longer that 3” blade folding knife. England cannot be recommended for anyone with a hope to survive a TEOTWAWKI situation. Very little space to escape the teeming hoards that will flee the cities, and realistically nothing much in the way of defensive firearms to protect what you have. Of course the bad guys will always be able to get guns so the law abiding won’t stand a chance, humanly speaking. We have to remember that God is sovereign and still in control despite what we see around us and my hope is that he will guide us to prepare as best we can within the limitations.
Bob’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 51 of 19.

Mr. Rawles,
Here is a link to a site which provides extensive nuclear war survival info. They will provide a free CD I believe your blog readers will be interested in:
Please keep up the excellent work. -Echo Mike

"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest possible limits. ... and [when] the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
- St. George Tucker, Virginia Supreme Court Judge, 1803

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I've completed the "State by State" level analysis series that I posted earlier in the month. For ease of reference, this data is now archived at the Retreat Areas static page. (See the new button in the SurvivalBlog navigation bar.) I'm now moving on to providing detailed retreat locale recommendations. While I'm posting these, please give this some serious thought. Particularly for those of you living east of the Mississippi and for our overseas readers, I would appreciate you sharing your expertise. If you know of a particular region with retreat potential, please e-mail me the details, and I will post them.

To begin, a great site for surveying the extent and type of agriculture in various regions can be found at:

My post for the next few weeks will include listings of my most highly recommended regions in the western United States to consider for survival retreats. Note: I will likely add to or delete from these posts, based on substantive input from readers. (SurvivalBlog readers never hesitate to tell me when I’m mistaken—and I’m always willing to defer to those with more knowledge!)

Notes on My Sources (These were also used for my State-By-State analysis):
Most of the tax and real estate price data is from 2003 or later references.
The Crime Safety Rankings quoted are based on 2003 data compiled by the Morgan Quinto Awards. This ranking compares six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle thefts. This data is plugged into a formula that measures how a state compares to the national average for a given crime category. See for details.
The population density data was calculated by my #2 Son
The health insurance rate data was courtesy of Web M.D. See:
For current information on home schooling laws in various states, see:
For current information on home birth laws in various states, see:

Concentrate on small towns north of the reservation line, such as Bigfork, Creston, Proctor, Rollins, and Somers.
On Staying Outside the Reservation: Much of the lower elevations in this region are inside the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation. The united Salish and Kootenai (“S&K”) tribal government has been forcefully asserting its sovereignty in recent years, affecting both tribal members and everyone else living inside the reservation boundaries. (Even deeded property owners!) If you want to buy land in this region, buy land that is beyond the reservation boundaries but that is still at low elevation. This you will have to look for properties north of Dayton. (Dayton itself is just inside the reservation.)
Statistics (for Kalispell):
Average high temperature in August: 80.2.
Average low temperature in January: 13.9.
Growing season: 140 Days (Typically May 9 to Sep. 27).
Average snowfall in January: 17.1”.
County Median residential home price:
Advantages: Well removed from any urban region. Fairly diverse economy. Excellent fishing and big game hunting. Plentiful firewood.
Disadvantages: Much of this region lies inside the Flathead Indian Reservation boundaries. Cold climate. Relatively high land prices.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 4 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 4 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

It has been said that nothing is inevitable except death and taxes. But personally, I add inflation to that list. Inflation is an insidious hidden form of taxation

We've been robbed! According to The Inflation Calculator, what cost $100 in 1905 would cost $2052.36 in 2005. The U.S. dollar has lost 95% of its value in that time. (If you were to buy exactly the same products in 2005 and 1905, they would cost you $100 and $4.87 respectively.) The inflation rate jumped considerably in the 1960s and 1970s. It is no coincidence that the U.S. Treasury stopped minting real silver coins in 1964.

Even it this current era of supposedly"low" inflation, the depredations of inflation are inexorable-- but just slower. It is like watching a 50 pound ice block sitting in the sun. The real rate of inflation is presently about 6.5%. Thus, you need to make at least 6.5% a year on your money just to keep pace with inflation. In the long term the concept of "saving" for retirement is almost fallacious, especially when you consider the bouts of inflation that are likely to occur in the next 20 years. The twin deficits--budget and trade--will inevitably lead to much higher rates of inflation in the years to come. Perhaps we'll even experience a full-blown hyperinflationary currency crisis that will wipe out the value of all of our dollar-denominated investments in just a few months. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: If you want to protect yourself from inflation, then buy tangibles. My late father used to be fond of saying: "There are three kinds of people in the world: People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and [the majority of people,] the people who wonder, 'What the heck happened?'" Inflation is a process that is so subtle that the majority of people do not recognize it for what it is.

It is safe to assume that inflation will continue, and will only get worse, especially with commodities. Oil will likely double in the next 18 months. So that means corresponding increases in gas, diesel, and home heating oil. Wheat, rice, and other commodities will also jump up in price. They too, may double soon. Protect yourself from inflation. Stock up on tangibles. Not only is it wise to be prepared physically, but you can also consider these tangibles a prudent investment.

Hello from Pleasanton, California! I too look at the hills and envision the populations of Hayward, Oakland, et al. swarming over into our little valley in the event of disaster. So we have a "ten-year plan" to purchase and stock a "vacation home" in NE Oregon. I have been looking long-distance at the Wallowa Valley. Do you have any particular objection to planning on freshwater lakes as a fallback source of water? (I am thinking of Wallowa Lake.) Just wondering what may have pushed you to choose the Grande Ronde valley over the Wallowa.

You may wish to link to the below: a fantastic collection of 3-D aerial topographic maps. They can really help to visualize a region, and complement "flat" topo maps. This is a very nice tool for folks like myself who do not own topo map software. See:
Best, - D.M.

JWR Replies: I'll have details on both the Grande Ronde Valley and the Wallowa Valley sometime in the next two weeks.

Mr. Rawles:
Glad I found your is a daily read for me. I watched a show that was on Discovery (I think) channel this past weekend, about a special police force in South Africa. Relevant here is that part of the show where they went to destroy certain arms caches left from a war decades ago. The arms were buried under massive rocks, far from civilization. At one point it show a truly nasty AK-47, rusted and just looked like garbage. One of the officers poured a can of oil over it, and in it, worked the bolt a few times, jammed a magazine in it, and fired 10-12 straight shots into a target set up 20 or so yards away. It was an eye-opener. Keep up the great work. - Bruce

"Make preparations in advance... You never have trouble if you are prepared for it."
- Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 26, 2005

Please continue to pray for the folks who suffered damage from Hurricane Rita. OBTW, your support of efficient (low-overhead) Christian charities providing relief to the area would also be greatly appreciated.

Warning: Today's blog posts will exceed your recommended daily allowance of Gloom 'n Doom.

Before selecting retreat locale, It is crucial that you decide on your own worst case scenario. A location that is well-suited to surviving a "slow-slide" grid up scenario (a la the deflationary depression of the 1930s) might not necessarily be well suited to a grid down situations. As stated in my post on August 15, 2005, a grid down situation will likely cause a sudden onset variation of TEOTWAWKI with a concomitant mass exodus from the big cities resulting in chaos on a scale heretofore never seen in modern memory. (See below.)

My own personal "best case" scenario is an economic depression, with the grid still up, and still some semblance of law and order. Things would be bad, but the vast majority of the population would live through it. Living in a rural agricultural area won't ensure that you'll always have a job, but probably will ensure that you won't starve.

My personal "worst case" scenario takes a lot more description: A rogue nation state launches three or four MIRVed ICBMs with high yield warheads simultaneously detonating at 100,000 feet over America's population center, preferably in October or November, to maximize the extent of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects. With only six warheads arriving "time on target" (synchronized for simultaneous detonation) over, for example, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, and Los Angeles, more than 90% of the U.S. population would fall within the footprint of EMP. With such an attack there would be hardly any initial casualties aside for a few thousand people unlucky enough to be traveling on that day. (Since EMP would disable electric flight controls, causing any modern aircraft to go out of control and crash, and the sudden loss of engine power in automobiles at the same time as a blinding flash would likely cause thousands of high speed car crashes.) A high altitude air burst would impart no blast or radiation effects on the ground. Nothing other than just EMP. But what an effect! Think of the full implications.

As previously stated, the higher an nuclear air burst is detonated, the wider the line of sight (LOS), and hence the larger the footprint of EMP effects. With an EMP-optimized attack, as I just posited, EMP would be coupled to nearly all of the installed microcircuit chips in the U.S., southern Canada, and northern Mexico. In a enormous cascade this would take down all of the north American power grids, and cripple virtually every vital industry and utility: Natural gas production and piping, municipal water systems, telephone systems (hardwire and cellular), refining, trucking, banking, Internet services, agricultural machinery, electrically-pumped irrigation systems, you name it! 95% of cars and trucks would be inoperative. With the dependence of the power utilities on computers, I have my doubts that they would be able to restore the power grid for weeks, or months, or perhaps years. And with the chaos of society disintegrating around them, they might not have the time or opportunity to restore the grid, even if they would otherwise have the means to do so. This would mean TEOTWAWKI on a grand scale. The words "dog eat dog" do not even begin to describe how things would become in the cities and suburbs. Soon after, as the cities became unlivable (without power, heat, water, sanitation, or transportation of foodstuffs) this would cause a massive, involuntary exodus from the cities and suburbs, almost entirely on foot, comprised of countless millions of starving people. With winter coming on, this would result in a massive die-off, perhaps as much as 70% of the American population. It would not be until after that die-off that some semblance of order could be restored.

This crush of humanity will of course head for any agricultural regions that are within 50 to 75 miles of the major cities. Hence, I would not want to be a farmer living in Pennsylvania's farmlands, California's central or Imperial valleys or Oregon's Willamette valley. They will simply get swarmed and overwhelmed.

Surviving a Long Term a Grid Down WTSHTF Situation
Even in the absence of EMP, any set of circumstances that would bring down the power grids (for example a major war, a fuel embargo, a cyber attack on power utility Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software, etc.) would be devastating, and have a similar result. The biggest difference would be that the Golden Horde would have functional cars available--at least as long as their gas lasted. This would and Lets say that you've already moved to a lightly populated agricultural region that is more than 150 miles from any major city.
Assuming that you can avoid the ravages of the Golden Horde by virtue of geographic isolation, you will then have to contend with producing food. If the region that you selected is dependent on electrically-pumped irrigation water, then you'll be out of luck. That is why I emphasize the importance "dry land farming" regions. (Regions where consistent seasonal rains are sufficient to produce crops.) A small scale "truck" farmer in such as region, producing a wide variety of vegetables will be sitting pretty. Even with horse drawn or hand cultivation, he will have large quantities of excess crops available for barter and charity. By teaming up with neighbors and hired hands (paid in barter) for "strength in numbers" he will be able to defend what he owns. With copious produce available, he will be able to barter for harvesting manpower, horses, tools, and so forth. IMO, a man in this position and locale is the most likely survivor of TEOTWAWKI.

With the aforementioned in mind, you can see than importance of finding the right retreat locale. Ideally, it will be far removed from metropolitan regions, have a fairly long growing season, plentiful rainfall, rich topsoil, a reliable domestic water supply that us not dependent on grid power (preferably spring-fed), nearby sources of firewood or coal, and a light ambient population density. If you combine all of these factors--visualize them as map overlays--you will end up with only a few regions in north America that are wholly suitable for "worst case" retreats. Start with a photocopy of a climate book with maps of America's farming regions. Mask out any farming regions that are depending on grid-power pumped irrigation water. Then take a compass and start drawing radiuses around all of the cities with a population greater than 200,000 and shade them in. Depending on your level of pessimism about the scenario and/or your estimation of the depravity of human nature, you may be drawing some pretty large circles!

Hurricane Katrina was a wake up call. I cannot imagine how anyone could watch the television coverage of the aftermath of Katrina and not come to the conclusion that we live in a highly interdependent technological society with enormously long lines of supply and just a thin veneer of civilization, as documented in countless newspaper stories. It doesn't take much to disrupt those interdependencies, nor to expose what lies just beneath that thin veneer. Like an onion, what lies beneath is not very pretty smelling.

Get to Know the NRCS Man!
You will note that I specifically mentioned topsoil in the preceding discussion. The importance of soil quality in the event of a true "worst case" must be emphasized. As S.M. Stirling so aptly described it in his science fiction novel "Dies The Fire", soil quality is not crucial in modern mechanized agriculture. If an acre of ground produces 5 bushels of wheat versus 12 bushels of wheat it is not of great consequence when you are cultivating hundreds or even thousands of acres from inside the cab of an air conditioned $40,000 tractor, or a $70,000 combine. However, if someday you are reduced to traditional pre-industrial manpower or horsepower, where cultivating just a few acres will require monumental exertion, then the soil quality will make a tremendous difference between feeding a community, and starvation. Therefore, have the soil analyzed before you buy a retreat property! Determining the soil types within a region should be your first step--in fact even before you talk to the first real estate agent. Buying lunch for the soils specialist at the local Agricultural Extension office might be a valuable investment. On your first scouting trip to your proposed retreat region, call the USDA Agricultural Extension Office, and ask to talk to a soils specialist at the NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) desk. (The NRCS was formerly called the Soil Conservation Service.)

James Wesley--
I admire and deeply appreciate the detailed counsel you have been giving about self-sufficiency and defense. After I borrowed "Patriots" from the library, I went ahead and paid $50 for a used copy. We became "First Family" members at Front Sight on your say-so, even though we are in Hawaii and can't even attend Front Sight until 8/2006. So I think I merit being heard with respect to your musing that being a non-Mormon in a Mormon community might make you "expendable".

To the contrary, the unbelievably magnificent efforts in time, people and materiel of the LDS Church in the Katrina disaster and the pre-positioning by the LDS Church of additional goods and resources for the impending Rita disaster give the lie to your insinuation that the Mormons look after themselves first.

In fact, I think you have the situation backwards--American history shows that when "push comes to shove" it's the Mormons who have been expendable. In fact, the first Americans to suffer for defending the rights of "free men of color" were the Mormons. For their defense of civil rights in Missouri, the Mormons were burned out, many beaten, some raped, and a number murdered. Finally, the shameful Missouri Governor's Extermination Order threatening that if the Mormons didn't leave the state at once the state militia would kill them makes it abundantly clear who considers whom to be "expendable".
[JWR Comments: Out of fairness, one should distinguish between the mid-19th Century and the early 21st Century. As a "gentile" I cannot be blamed for those atrocities any more than I can be blamed for the institution of slavery in America. We are several generations removed from those events and all of those involved in them.]

It might be enlightening for you to know that the first people to defend themselves against an illegal and immoral invasion by the United States Army were the Mormons. Self-serving politicians sought to gain votes by sending the Army to put down a so-called "rebellion" by the Mormons in Deseret. Thank God, the military leadership refused to be used in such a way and entered an abandoned Salt Lake City peacefully, their commander riding through the streets at the head of his troops with his head uncovered honoring the people he knew to be maligned. I truly believe that, unless you are like the heroes in "Patriots" and are taking care of yourself, the absolutely best place to be in a crunch will be in a rural community with a heavy Mormon majority. And that is true, not insignificantly, because the Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States of America to be a divinely inspired document--and have shed blood defending its principles.

Now on perhaps a lighter note about "who is my neighbor": When we moved to a little island in Washington state some years ago, a neighbor, getting acquainted, said, "Oh, Mormons! Good. I'll know where to come when I need food." I answered (and I meant it): "Yes Ma'am, I don't have food for one family for 24 months; I have food for four families for six months."

Now you've got me on a roll. This same family: husband an attorney, wife an elementary school teacher, her dad an MD were stuck, like us, in an ice storm on Thanksgiving day some years ago. Everybody's turkeys were cooling in the ovens. The phones weren't affected so the neighbor called over to borrow my Coleman stove to heat up some water for coffee. Why not, we had our free-standing iron stove doing its job for us. I sent a daughter over with the, admittedly, ancient white-gas stove. After a quarter hour, the neighbor called back to say the stove didn't seem to work and could I help. I was embarrassed: here I am the local "how-to-hack it" guru and my dumb stove is DOA. So I went over to apologize, and beat a retreat with my Coleman antique. There they were in their family room huddled around the stove in blankets with burnt out matches on the floor--and with the gas canister still undeployed inside the stove! I realized that had these folks got their fingers on the red knob and opened it, they might well have burnt their home down--and maybe mine too!
It never occurred to me that they were expendable.

I hope you will take the opportunity in your blog to "lighten up" on your castigation of Mormons. I have never checked out my neighborhood to see if any non-Mormons were around that I could get rid of in a crisis. I have held important positions in LDS Church administration in Salt Lake City, California, New Zealand, Washington, and Hawaii, and have never heard any such notions from any of my brothers and sisters in the Church. - B.B. in Hawaii

Just a few nits to pick (grin), RE: "A draconian business gross receipts tax of 2-to-3%. Marginal gun laws. Very high sales tax. (8.8%)"
Can't disagree with draconian. Can disagree with the B&O rates, slightly. They depend completely on the type of business. My business is taxed at 1.5%.
Sales taxes vary per county over a very wide range.
Gas tax is $0.28 per gallon.
Just for fun, check out this link for "major" taxes in the Evergreen state. Yikes.
There are also more than a few badges (not obvious, but there nonetheless if you know what to look for) at our local gun shows at the County fairgrounds. Keeping an eye on who, what, and how much. Not particularly comfortable about that one. Best Regards, and keep up the good work. - T.S.

Greetings Jim,

I'm writing to give you more information on Iowa. While it's true we're too close to Chicago there are only a few handfuls of bridges to cross the Mississippi. These can be blocked by backing semi-trailers onto the spans and abandoning the trailers in rows. Crossing a bridge blockaded in such a fashion, guarded by a few dedicated snipers, makes removal of the barricades a more than interesting proposition! No mob is hard-core enough to attempt removal, or crossing on foot for more than a few minutes, before moving on to a new path of lesser resistance. Field implements with folding hydraulic "wings" can also be used in such instances. Once in place, without the proper equipment, their tonnages are impossible to move, easily or quickly. As for food production, their are many farmers markets during the growing season, that sell everything from fruits & vegetables, to pastry's & pies, to homemade crafts, (quilts to cupboards). These can be roadside stands to county courthouse parking lots. Usually every Saturday till they sell out of goods. We have good wells with fresh water, most have been tested for contaminants and have passed. We have a good work ethic and have lately been adding solar & wind farms to the economy, plus the expansion of the ethanol industry is helping to get Iowa energy independent. Corn turned into ethanol can still be fed as mash to cattle, the cobs burned to heat the distillers, soybeans turned into bio-diesel for the fleets of semi's to move grain & goods also improve grain prices, i.e., local economies. Plus we're far enough away to avoid the problems of the Yellowstone caldera [JWR Comments: I beg to differ! According to geologists, the last time that a super-caldera blew up in the same area, locations as far down wind as what is now Virginia ended up under 15 feet of ashfall!] , and the recently developing 4 Sisters,(soon to be 5?), bulge. Whatever that may entail. The hunting season this year for the first time will also add rifles to the already legal shotgun, handgun, & bow hunting deer hunts. A bonanza of deer & trophy deer being available. Also we are now finding that we have feral pigs in numbers & weights up to 400 lbs. in some timbered areas of the state. I've probably missed some other highlights, and hopefully others can fill you in on the price and performance of corn burning stoves, etc., that I have glaringly left out from ignorance. Thanks Jim! Best wishes on this exciting new blog. A fervent devotee, - K.H.

"Harry: Look sweetheart, for the next few weeks survival is going
to have to be on an individual level.
Ann: What do you want to do, write off the rest of the world?
Harry: When civilization gets civilized again, I'll rejoin."
- Ray Milland, Panic in the Year Zero

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Today's SurvivalBlog post has been put up 24 hours early, due to the communications disruptions that are expected to be caused by Hurricane Rita.

I'm glad that most of the SurvivalBlog readers stocked up on liquid fuels long ago. Here are some details on the wholesale oil supply reductions. This comes from an oil industry insider newsletter report (dated 22 September):


Recent forecasts place Hurricane Rita directly over Galveston [now OBE], threatening the Houston area, home to almost 25 percent of U.S. refining capacity. OPIS estimates that by noon on Friday (9/23), refinery closures could impact as much as 3.8 million bbl/d of refining capacity. Current confirmed closures will affect approximately 2.7 million bbl/d of refining capacity.
Information is still being gathered on other potential affects of the storm, such as disruption of tanker shipments of crude oil and refined product barges.
The following is the latest information from OPIS on refinery closures:

Flint Hills, Corpus Christi, 305,000 bbl/d
ExxonMobil, Baytown, 580,000 bbl/d
BP, Texas City, 460,000 bbl/d
ConocoPhillips, Sweeny, 228,000 bbl/d
Marathon, Texas City, 76,000 bbl/d (anticipated)

Valero, Texas City, 215,000 bbl/d
Valero, Houston, 85,000 bbl/d
Astra, Pasadena, 103,000 bbl/d
Lyondell-Citgo, 283,000 bbl/d
Shell Deer Park, 340,000 bbl/d

Teppco is shutting down its Seaway crude pipeline, Baytown terminal operations and four pipelines from Texas City, Houston, Red Bluff and Baytown.
Dixie – Mont Belvieu facility shut down.
Port of Houston – closed as of 5 p.m. today.

ExxonMobil, Chalmette, LA,190,000 bbl/d
ConocoPhillips, Belle Chasse, LA, 260,000 bbl/d
Murphy, Meraux, LA, 125,000 bbl/d
Chevron, Pascagoula, Miss., 350,000 bbl/d
There is no way to estimate how long refineries will be offline due to Hurricane Rita. Fortunately some of the refineries are on higher ground than those affected by Hurricane Katrina, although storm surges of 20 feet resulting from Rita are currently predicted. Also, electricity outages could hinder the refineries’ ability to get back online, as well as personnel issues. Some 800,000 bbl/d have been lost due to Hurricane Katrina.

Offshore companies are continuing to evacuate facilities in Gulf of Mexico. MMS reports 469 platforms and 69 rigs have been evacuated. This represents 1,097,357 bbl/d of crude oil, which is 73.16 percent of daily Gulf Coast oil production.

Areas served by these three major pipelines:
Colonial/Plantation (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania)
Teppco (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio)
Explorer (Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois)

Excellent blog, sir. I read it every day. I've also read Patriots several times, I'm on my second copy.
I live in Illinois. (I know, I know, I'm working on it.) I wouldn't even ask how low Illinois was rated, if it were me doing the rating it would be near the bottom for many reasons; gun laws, high taxes, corrupt politicians, terrible roads, and overcrowding anywhere near Chicago. High insurance rates of all kinds, high crime rate, and the weather stinks. There is a pretty long growing season, more than some of the western states you discuss, and there used to be plenty of work here. That's not the case anymore, due to many reasons you're no doubt aware of from your research. On to the main reason for my post: In regards to the dual fuel letter from The Army Aviator, these kits are still available from several dealers. I just bought and installed a tri-fuel kit for my 5 KW genny. I can now run it on gasoline, natural gas, and propane--either the large tanks or 20 pound tanks. Total cost was about $220 shipped. The conversion took about 1 hour, but could probably be done a little quicker. I took my time and made sure I didn't miss anything. The conversion can be done with gasoline in the tank, no problem. I tried it on propane from a 20 pound tank, and it works great! The genny runs smoother on propane than it did on gasoline. And of course propane stores much safer and longer [than gasoline]. I bought my kit from U. S. Carburetion, but there are several other suppliers. Google or other search engines will find them.

The flu of 1918 killed more people than World War I. The Black Death (bubonic plague) was a leading cause of death during the middle ages. The ban on DDT and the resultant rebound of malaria has caused more death than Stalin and Mao and the Austrian corporal (may their memory and name be erased). History is filled with the tragedy caused by intentional and unintentional microorganism-caused deaths. Plans need to be made for dealing with disease vectors that can carry these microbes. Rodents can carry plague and many other pathogens, cats are good but may carry the pathogen from their prey into your home. Traps and poisons may get domestic animals or children. Mosquitoes may carry malaria and West Nile. Acquire mosquito netting, repellents, and bug lights (low power versions are available even battery powered.) People infected with any type of malaria other than P falciparum most likely can be treated with chloroquine (Aralen) or mefloquine (Lariam). Most people can tolerate these oral drugs. Or you may initially be treated with quinidine (Quinalan, Quinidex, Cardioquin, Duraquin), a related heart medication that also kills malarial parasites. P falciparum drug resistance to chloroquine is widespread, especially in Southeast Asia, South America, and East Africa (the latter spreading westward). Those infected with P falciparum malaria, or if the doctor does not know the specific type of malaria, are likely to be treated with IV quinine (Formula Q). Quinine bitters were initially popularized as a treatment for malaria last century, now quinine has become a prescription only medication in the last few years. The quinine levels in modern tonic water is below therapeutic values. Malaria was a scourge in both the southern and western USA. Wetlands laws have allowed mosquito breeding areas to remain but mass planting of eucalyptus can dry up some swamps.

Fleas, ticks, and lice carry Lyme disease, Bubonic plague and other diseases as well as opening the skin to infection. Pet dips, soaps, and repellents may be considered but watch for reactions or allergies. Massive consumption of garlic has been known to repel these parasites as well as mosquitoes in many humans and animals. Reductions in infrastructure and public health work from natural or man made disasters could cause a return of pestilence to first world nations. Be prepared!

JWR Adds: "David" is the pseudonym of SurvivalBlog's volunteer correspondent in Israel. He is a former EMT, now a rabbinical student. Living in that troubled land gives him a a particularly insightful perspective. I greatly appreciate his posts!

Jim, I am enjoying your blog site a lot. I am a big fan of your work, and I especially enjoyed your novel, Patriots. I appreciate the advantages of the western states when the balloon goes up; but some of your readers are going to be tied to the populated east coast and mid-western states. Please take some time after your western state series to give some advice to those of us who will (or must) stay for family, as well as other reasons in the less advantageous areas of the country. Sincerely, - C.G. in Ohio

JWR Replies: I'm glad that you enjoyed my novel. Most folks find it both exciting to read and a useful reference to keep around. I will do my best to cover retreat regions in eastern states, but as a westerner I will be depending on the expertise of SurvivalBlog readers. Please e-mail me your suggestions!

Hi Jim,
Your novel Patriots was revisited in New Orleans! I thought I would fill you and your blog in on the Blessings For Obedience ministries mission to Mississippi, and Louisiana this past week, It all started with a question to Kelly Coleman our president like... "Are we going to do anything for the stricken area?" Kelly and Tina were fishing in central Texas at the time, and having a nice time I shouldn't have disturbed them with such a question. Sorry Tina. After about twelve hours of communications with the FCC, the head of the FCC decided it would be a good thing to issue an emergency FM Broadcast license for New Orleans. I think the FCC deserves a big kudos for what they did, and the heroic work to approve the license in such a short period of time, this is definitely un heard of in normal times, Our call sign is (KS5XAE) It took one week from the day of the approval to get funding, plane tickets, tools and equipment. Canada paid for and shipped 800 Gal-Com go-ye radios for 107.9 FM and a 250 watt transmitter. We filled the bill with a mixer, mikes, CD, and tape player, antennas coax[ial cable], et cetera.
Next was to get a location to install the station, FEMA tried to help us get a location on top of some big hotel in New Orleans but it didn't work out, after much prayer after we dropped off food and supplies at the Salvation Army distribution point in Biloxi MS and getting a real education of the death and destruction. Destruction I might add would not be equaled by a hundred tactical nukes or more, I watched the Salvation Army do most of the serious work, and the "Red Curse" get a lot of their credit. I have no love for the Red Curse, in case you hadn't noticed.
We traveled west on I-10 toward New Orleans, only to have The Lord open every door. When we got to the major check point our little convoy went right through without even being asked what we were doing. We drove over a huge bridge down into the big lake area and Slidell, such devastation I have never seen, even in Viet Nam. Those poor people, rich and poor alike lost everything. there was the smell of decaying bodies all along the way. Going over the causeway bridge, the power lines were normally about 80 feet above the lake water. About three places I saw where boats had caught the power wire and pulled it into the water, just holding on by something on the boat. There must have been either flying boats, or really high water. At the end of the bridge thing we came into a village probably fishing and arts crafts place buildings, (totalllllly destrooooyed), stench of body decay all the way through. Then further from the lake, was less and less destruction. We needed directions so we stopped at a girls' school where the Army had taken up residence, they told us how to get over a huge bridge on I-10 into New Orleans so off we went over the river and through the (woods) flooded, but not as much destruction we were on the elevated I-10 all the way through New Orleans no people cars, etc just some police, army and a few semi trucks bring supplies. You could drive any lane you wanted without using a blinker light. It was really weird. I listened to AM radio in the way into the area, and the N.O. station being what it is was cursing the military, FEMA, and everyone who was there to help, I got sick of their tripe, and tuned to a station in Gretna, where we wound up going to a pier and huge warehouse. That radio station was praising their Mayor, police chief Lawson, the Army, etc, and all the helpers who came in. What a change, we got to the pier, and who was the first person I met (the Mayor). He seemed like a person who really cared for his community and its people. He ask what we were going to do, and I told him we were going to give him an emergency FM broadcast station. Which we did, we linked up with FRIEND SHIPS ministries, and the ship HOPE where we installed the first FCC licensed emergency FM broadcast station ever licensed in the United States. God sent a young man named Lynnie to volunteer to run the station, and God couldn't have made a better match, He had not only the right loving, caring spirit, but some fine skills, He had never been on radio before. God don't make no junk. The station plays Christian music, to sooth and comfort, news, location announcements, "help me find" messages, and praise for the people, the military, police, etc. The police and military are being fed at the same location, along with a huge distribution center being located there. God owns Gretna, and the signal is covering 22 miles across the river to N.O., and 14 miles into the Gretna.
We saw a lot of sad things, but most of all we walked with our LORD JESUS CHRIST through the valley of the shadow of death, and feared NO evil. HE was with us. and with His eye guided us every step of the way, Oh ! The ship HOPE is just across the river from the IWO JIMA where the rescue HQ is. I might add that a MARS message email I got passed on to me from the Captain, reflects his close walk and dependence on our LORD JESUS too. God is taking back something that satan took.
My report to the LORD is: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, LORD! I am convinced that He only sends people who will accomplish the mission and when he provides all the funds and opens every door in one week, it is very obvious that His hand is on you an will be with you, We did carry one weapon. It was never even opened up. But then the Lord said the night he was betrayed that the disciples only need two for twelve men, who never had to use them either. Just the devil needs a little convincing now and then, He the Lord sent in the ARMY and police to do that.
Some other observations: I noticed while on my mission trip to install the Radio Station in N.O. were that generators dried up almost immediately, even from stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were we combined our team before deployment. We did find a 5.5 KW at Sears for half the price of Home Depot, and lots of gas cans at smaller hardware stores, around the area. On the way down the middle of Mississippi on the inter state, about a third of the piney trees had blown over or were broken in half, making them harder to cut down, the road for about 150 miles had been cleared in 4 days to allow convoys to get south, there was a good reason it took a while to get help into the area, the road was being cleared by every logger, chain saw handler in the country, what a massive undertaking. You sure don't hear much praise of them and the power crews restoring power, so people can get electricity back , and re-start commerce.
The American people are resilient and strong. Rich and poor, they want commerce, and as soon as possible they got back up and running.
Ham radio was the only communication in or out of the area for days, GET YOUR HAM LICENSES, AND LEARN TO USE THE RADIOS YOU BUY, I can't say this loud or long enough. Learn who your friends are. Most people are very civil, and thankful that your there to help. Americans don't tolerate criminal disobedience, looting. etc. There were signs everywhere: "LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT", and people carrying guns to do it with.

I am proud to say we live in a strong country, but we are woefully ill-prepared. We must get our neighbors up and running before the Big One here where I live in California. It will devastate major metro areas, and small towns alike. We must get ready and prepare like never before. Encourage people to get prepared! Blessings to all who read this. Our ministry is located at - David Martin e-mail:

JWR Adds: The Blessings For Obedience ministry deserves your support, folks! Like most small Christian charities, it operates with minimal overhead, so virtually all of your contributions will go directly to radio gear and direct travel expenses for the volunteer radion station installers.

I noticed that one of your readers requested information on retreat architecture. I'm off the grid and in the process of building a house. Before designing it, I investigated several different types of architecture, including straw bale, insulated concreted form (ICF), adobe, corn cob, concrete and earth-bermed. All of these have wonderful advantages, but one major drawback: nearly all literature and materials available to novices are dedicated to mainstream stick-built homes.

I've found few books or other resources that give step-by-step instructions on building in alternative materials, although I've found many for stick-built. Home Depot carries lumber, insulation, windows, etc designed to be used in stick-built homes. Even sub-contractors for concrete, electrical, and plumbing look askance when asked about alternative building.

End result: I'm building a standard frame house, despite its many drawbacks. Those who wish to pursue alternative building designs should be aware that they'll need to be either very experienced, or very stubborn in the face of obstacles. :) - JD

Regarding your statement: "A lot of people are starting to wake up and recognize the fragility of our society." I really wish I had your optimism. I'm afraid I don't give the sheeple any credit any more. By sheeple I mean the general public. I just don't have any respect for the sheeple left at all. They could cry that they "didn't know" before 9/11 but they have no excuse in my book now a days. I think Paul describes today's people pretty well in his epistles. To be honest, I fear for our Country.

One of the biggest problems IMO is TV. People were starting to prepare, store a little food, buy gas masks, etc. after 9/11. Then a month later the TV was bashing them for it. Once it was "out of the norm" again, the sheeple gave up. I can't imagine living my life based on TV influences. We stopped watching TV when we moved in 99 and it has been great. We selectively watch movies, that's it.

Freeing oneself of the mental chains put on by TV/media is one of the biggest problems I see with survivalists now a days. Whether they realize it or not, a lot of "there" opinions come directly from the talking heads, "opinion polls" and the news. You see it all the time on the message boards. People who say they are conservatives but espouse liberal thinking and attitudes.

Survivalists need to re-learn how to think for themselves. I've met so many who were good people, motivated, etc. but just could not think outside the box to solve any problem. Survival situations are going to require outside the box type thinking. One of my favorite movie lines is: "Improvise, overcome, adapt!", from Heartbreak Ridge.

I think every survivalist should go one year without watching regular TV and note the change in his attitude, mental and physical abilities (hard to sit on your butt drinking beer and watching TV if their's nothing to watch!). It tends to bring the Family closer also.
Long rant, sorry. Once again, thanks for your efforts! - R.H.

Excellent Survival Blog T-Shirt! It arrived in the mail the other day and I wore it to work and my fellow employees wanted to read the quote on the back. My boss said he always wanted to see if he could survive on a remote State of Maine island with just some parachute cord, a fish hook, a tin can, matches, fire starter and space blanket for a few days. I said why not try something a lot easier, and just shut the electricity off on some Friday night at your house, and turn it on again on Monday morning and see how you can manage two small children, wife, food preparation, entertainment, etc... He sighed and said, "Now that would be tough!" - Mr. Sierra

"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
- Patrick Henry March 23,1775

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Our prayers are with everyone on the Gulf Coast. One last warning: The chances of nationwide fuel shortages in the wake of Rita are 90%+.

Today, I'm covering Wyoming, the last of 19 western states, in my rankings of states by their retreat potential. This series will be followed by some detailed recommendations within these 19 states. OBTW, I'd appreciate hearing from easterners with their specific recommendations for good retreat locales outside of my "top 19 states" list.

Population: 493,780.
Population Density: 5 per square mile (Rank 19 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 97,800 square miles (rank 9 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $646/yr. (rank 44 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $484/yr. (rank 20 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 7 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 93%.
Per capita income: $27,372 (rank 28 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 16 of 50.
Plusses: Low population density, very low crime rate, no income tax.
Low car insurance rates.
Minuses: Brutally cold winters, especially at higher elevations. Minimal growing season. (Snow has been reported in every month of the year in every county in Wyoming!) There are missile fields (see map) in the southeast corner of the state. (Part of the large array of missile sites that overlaps into northern Colorado and parts of Nebraska.) These ICBM missile silos would be primary targets in the event of a full scale nuclear exchange.

Wyoming is not recommended for a survivalist with a small to moderate budget. However, if you are someone who is wealthy and who can stand the cold, Wyoming should be bumped up to your top choice. Taxes will be a big issue for you—and Wyoming has no income tax. As someone “of means” you will be able to afford lots of food storage, voluminous fuel storage, and a large greenhouse to make up for the severe climate. Look for natural gas producing areas so that you can run your vehicles on “drip oil.” Anyone considering relocating to Wyoming should read Boston T. Party’s novel Molon Labe, which depicts a Libertarian political coup in the state, as part of the nascent “Free States” migration movement. Two related groups are currently encouraging libertarians to move to New Hampshire and Wyoming to create a political sea change. See: and
Note: I probably should have given Wyoming a higher ranking, due to its favorable gun and tax laws. However, its severe climate and minimal growing season pushed it down the list. If you can stand hard winters, by all means consider Wyoming a top choice.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 5 of 19.

You may have noticed that I only write sparingly about economics and investing. I do follow economic trends closely, but I don't consider myself an expert. If you want to categorize me, then you could say that I fall into the "Guns and Groceries" school of survivalism rather than the "Krugerrands and Plane Tickets to Offshore Havens" school. My current advice is fairly terse: Concentrate on buying tangibles. (Namely: productive farm land, storage food, practical tools, guns, and common caliber ammunition.) Then after you have your retreat fully squared away with logistics, it is time to consider buying some gold and silver. For the record: I consider gold at anything under $500 an ounce and silver at anything under $8 an ounce as genuine bargains. In the long term the dollar and all other paper currencies will be relegated to their proper use, as kindling. The other reason that I don't write voluminously about the markets and investing because these topics are already well covered at a variety of great "hard money"-oriented web sites. For commentary and analysis, my favorite of these sites is So for me to add my (pre-'64) $0.10 worth would just be redundant.

Part of my daily routine is reading economics newsletters. Parenthetically, you can subscribe to many of these e-mail newsletters free of charge. Some have daily issues while others are e-mailed weekly. These include: The Daily Reckoning and its sister publication The Rude Awakening, Whiskey and Gunpowder, The Sovereign Society Offshore A-Letter, What We Know Now (from Casey Research), and Dr. Gary's North's Reality Check. If you have the time to do some reading, then I highly recommend all of these newsletters! But if your time is limited and you need to pick just one, then make it The Daily Reckoning.

"A billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."
- Senator Everett Dirksen

Friday, September 23, 2005

You will notice that there are several new advertisements in our scrolling "ad bar." And even more ads will be posted there in the next few days. Vendors have gradually come to the realization that SurvivalBlog is the place to be to attract customers! Some advertising space is still available at our low rates, but be advised that there will be a rate increase on October 1st. This is the "last call" to lock in an ad contract (for up to six months) at the current rates.

Today, I'm covering Washington, the 18th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential. This series will be followed by some detailed recommendations within these 19 western states. I'd also appreciate hearing from easterners with their specific recommendations.

Population: 5.9 million.
Population Density: 86.6 per square mile (Far less in the eastern half of the state!) Very high population density (by western U.S. standards.) (Rank 3 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 68,100 square miles (rank 20 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $803/yr. (rank 19 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $428/yr. (rank 31 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 30 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 57%.
Per capita income: $31,230 (rank 11 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 10 of 50 (tied with Oregon).
Plusses: Low property taxes in some of the eastern counties. (But rising!)
Whitman county Washington taxes rose 80% from 1988 to 1995. In 2002,
the annual tax bill was $3,047 on a $200,000 home. (Second highest in the state.)
The median home value in 2000 for Washington was $168,300, up 38 percent
since 1990, adjusted for inflation. The average statewide property tax rate in Washington is $13.53 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Minuses: Creeping Californication. Highly regulated home schooling. Fairly high crime rates in the Western counties and in the larger cities in the eastern half of the state—such as Spokane, Yakima, and the Tri-Cities (Richland/Pasco/Kennewick) region. A draconian business gross receipts tax of 1.5%-to-3%. Marginal gun laws. Very high sales tax. (8.8%)
Parts of the state are recommended. (See my detailed retreat locale recommendations posted starting September 24, 2005.)
Note: I probably should have given Washington a lower ranking, due to its mediocre tax and gun laws. However, like Oregon, its favorable climate and growing season pushed it up the list.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 4 of 19.

A Reader in Washington Adds:
Just a few nits to pick (grin), RE: "A draconian business gross receipts tax of 2-to-3%. Marginal gun laws. Very high sales tax. (8.8%)"
Can't disagree with draconian. Can disagree with the B&O rates, slightly. They depend completely on the type of business. My business is taxed at 1.5%.
Sales taxes vary per county over a very wide range.
Gas tax is $0.28 per gallon.
Just for fun, check out this link for "major" taxes in the Evergreen state. Yikes.
There are also more than a few badges (not obvious, but there nonetheless if you know what to look for) at our local gun shows at the County fairgrounds. Keeping an eye on who, what, and how much. Not particularly comfortable about that one. Best Regards, and keep up the good work. - T.S.

In the 1970s there was a well-publicized "Back to the Land" movement. Hundreds of thousands of America's young generation wanted the freedom of self-sufficiency. But most of them eventually returned to urban life. We can analyze their failures to avoid making the same mistakes. Happily, someone else has already done this for us! Eleanor Agnew's book Back From the Land is a fairly detailed analysis of why the "Back to the Landers" went back to the big cities. Here is a summary of some of the conditions that led to their failures:

1. The realities of rural life were much harsher than those portrayed on television or in popular books or magazines.
2. Farming and raising livestock was not profitable, so they either lived in extreme poverty or had long commutes to jobs in town.
3. Local "town" jobs were low paying.
4. Poverty was not as genteel and romantic as portrayed in books and movies.
5. The harsh realities of rural life put undue stress on marriages, especially when the spouses were not in agreement about living self-sufficiently.

We moved to Idaho in 1992. I observed all of these conditions among our neighbors who moved to rural Idaho in preparation for Y2K in 1998 and 1999. (Yep, we experienced a couple of these ourselves, as much as I hate to admit it!)

In our part of rural Idaho, we observed that the vast majority of families that departed post Y2K left for economic reasons. Most of the local jobs available were minimum wage. The local economy was depressed. Start-up businesses that required the patronage of the local population failed.

Suggestion: Make sure that your income does not rely on the local economy and that you will have enough income to sustain a standard of living not too far below your urban standard. If the drop in your living standards are too drastic, your spouse and children are likely to rebel. Even though you may be preparing for a time in the future when the grid is down, and you'll have to be totally self-sufficient, don't insist that your spouse do without the modern conveniences in the meantime. (Okay, maybe the washer and dryer are going to be giant paper weights if the balloon goes up. But I don't want to start washing clothes by hand one day sooner than I have too!) If you make life drudgery for your family, the contrast of how the rest of America lives will be so great that they may question your sanity!

Eleanor Agnew's Back From the Land tells it like it really is. If you are contemplating a move back to the land, you should read this book!

Back From the Land by Eleanor Agnew, Published by Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 200. Hardback, 274 pages. Cover price: $27.50 ISBN 1-56663-580-2

Just a recommendation for Robert Henry of JRH Enterprises and his wife. Good man, dependable and fair. His merchandise is always a good product.
Whenever I've dealt with him, I can only say it was "always a pleasure".

Oh, for your PVS-14, they finally came out with something handy and servicable.For $44 U.S. Tactical sells PVS-14 hard case for your belt. Fits with the mounting arm attached and has capacity for two spare AA size batteries. I'll let you know how well it lives. Regards, - The Army Aviator

Letter Re: Doug Carlton's Article on Concealed Carry (SAs: CCW, Holsters, Survival Guns, Survival Mindset, Firearms Training)

Greetings Jim,
Thanks for an outstanding blog--it is on my "must read" list everyday. Doug Carlton's article on concealed carry is right on target. One of his best points is to practice the way you carry. I try to do this often to hone my skills. Being a practicing pharmacist I am exposed to all kinds of people. The ones that concern me are the thugs/pill heads/stop-'n-rob types whose desperation has risen to new heights. But, I do have the luxury of wearing a white lab jacket while working, which nicely conceals my carry piece from prying eyes. I routinely practice drawing from concealment with my lab coat on to simulate a work-place encounter of the worse kind. I've never had to unholster my weapon, but you just never know. My philosophy is "They need only be right ONCE, I have to be right EVERY TIME". One other point I might add is to keep the fact that you carry concealed (especially in the workplace) to yourself. No one else needs to know. Keep up the fine work! - S.P.

I just found a waaaay cool web site. A lot of Civil Defense stuff. See: - Fred "The Valmet-meister"

"Our institutions were not devised to bring about uniformity of opinion; if they had we might well abandon hope. It is important to remember, as has well been said, 'the essential characteristic of true liberty is that under its shelter many different types of life and character and opinion and belief can develop unmolested and unobstructed."
- Justice Charles Evans Hughes

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Please pray for all those living on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Hurricane Rita looks fearsome! Most of you have surely already done so, but don't neglect to stock up on fuel. (Fill your gas and diesel storage tanks, fill all you car/truck tanks, and order a "top off" of your propane and/or home heating oil tanks.) I predict that there will be widespread fuel shortages after Rita does her damage. OBTW, the PRI-G and PRI-D stabilizers are available from Ready Made Resources (RMR) and several other vendors.

Today, I'm covering Utah, the 17th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 2.23 million.
Population Density: 26.2 per square mile (Rank 11 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 84,900 square miles (rank 11 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $718/yr. (rank 32 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $378/yr. (rank 43 of 50.)
Crime Safety Ranking: 14 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 76%.
Per capita income: $23,436 (rank 44 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 7 of 50.
Plusses: A great state to live in if you are a LDS (Mormon) Church member. On average Utah has the best prepared families in America. (By church doctrine, one year of food storage is considered mandatory.) That is commendable. The norm for home construction in the state is to include an extra large pantry to accommodate storage food. (Commonly called a “fruit room” in LDS parlance.) Nearly every LDS ward has its own food storage cannery. Fairly low crime rate. (Utah has two of the safest metropolitan areas in the country: Orem, ranked #7, and Provo, ranked #9.) The only significant street crime is on the west side of Salt Lake City. Low car insurance rates.
Minuses: Ground water is scarce in parts of the state, so check on well water before buying. Utah might be a poor retreat/relocation choice if you are not a LDS Church member. Non-LDS members of any religious persuasion are derisively called “gentiles.” If you are not LDS, you might be ignored or perhaps even seen as conveniently expendable when push comes to shove. In practice, many LDS families do not have a true full year of storage food. Highly regulated home schooling.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 6 of 19.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Having read your retreat advice I'm planning a road trip through Montana and Idaho for November to scout around for a new home and maybe a new job (I'm a high school history teacher). Still, I can't help but wonder: with the increasing profile of the blog and its ever-greater circulation, won't greater numbers of survival-minded people moving to the ID/MT area degrade its qualities and reduce it to the same mess we're all trying to escape/avoid? I got to thinking that when an Idaho resident & survivalist online told me, "Don't come here, we don't want you people. Idaho is full." Anyway, love the blog and now two other teachers in my department read it, too. Take care and may our God bless you & your family. Sincerely yours, - S.P.

JWR Replies: I seriously doubt that more than a few hundred or perhaps a thousand people will ever make a move based on what they read at SurvivalBlog. (Most folks are 99% talk and 1% action.) But even if a substantial number do make the move, they will be the kind of folks that you will want as neighbors. With deep larders, copious heirloom variety gardening seed, extensive first aid supplies, advanced commo gear, livestock, and plenty of useful tools, they will be valuable assets to the community.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Congratulations on your successful Web Log. I suspect that you will soon be counting your unique hits by the million instead of the thousand. I was very pleasantly surprised to see the mention of my novel, "Lights Out", on your Blog today. It was fitting that you reviewed Texas, my home state, as well on this day. I must tell you that my writing was largely inspired by "Patriots". I have two copies and the first has been read so many times that it is now held together by rubber bands. "Patriots" is the ultimate 'How-to' novel and an absolute must have for the serious survivalist. I look forward to the next edition with the additional chapters. I started writing "Lights Out" in August of 2002. It has been a labor of love. I am working on the last two or three chapters right now and hope to have them posted in the next few weeks. The link you provided only contains the first twenty chapters of the novel. All of the current 73 chapters are available in Frugal's Forums in the Patriot Fiction section. However, each chapter is a separate post and it is difficult to track them all down. For a new reader, I would suggest this site: This reader is graciously hosting the story in both PDF and text formats. I appreciate comments, good and bad, from readers. At this point, feedback is the only payment I receive for the work. Please send them to and put "Lights Out" in the subject. Once I finish the first draft, I plan to go back and clean up the story line and then look for a publisher. I realize that publishing is a long shot. Any advice you can give me would be greatly valued. Thank you. - D.C.

Having extra food and water and other goods to barter with is a good idea, but do you think bartering with your guns and ammo is. During a TEOTWAWKI scenario, I think the last thing you need to do is to put more guns and ammo out in the streets, no matter if you know the people you bartering with or not. The same ammo and guns you barter with may be the same guns and ammo that could be turned against you and your family. There are only a handful of my friends and family that has even fired a firearm let alone train with them and really know how to handle a gun. Where do you draw the line on who you barter guns and ammo with and who you don't. I am not a heartless person but I am going to be damn limited on who I arm with my ammo and guns. - S.D.

JWR Replies: If your planned retreat is in an area where you cannot trust your neighbors with firearms, then you might want to re-think that retreat location! Look more along the lines of Montana or Wyoming, where virtually everyone knows how to shoot. Guns in the hands of your neighbors shouldn't be a potential looting problem--they should be the solution! I would not sleep well in a YOYO situation. Instead, give me a few trustworthy neighbors that are within line of sight--for mutually-supporting fields of fire. If they don't already own capable battle rifles, then I'll gladly provide them!

Having just left South Dakota after 16 years there, I might add concerning the cold and short growing season: 20 below for weeks on end, pretty hefty wind on top of that, and a 90 day growing season if you are lucky. One year I had to replant beans 3 times, the last after they were snow killed in June. Another drawback for the state is lack of potable water. My well put out 5 GPM and was considered a good well and at it was 300 feet deep, to boot. The majority of the water there is very alkaline, or from natural hot water underground sources and extremely heavy on the minerals. That really plays havoc with water faucets and water heater elements. Lastly, there is no wood in the state to speak of for heating purposes either except pine, in the very western part of the state. Best, - "Mrs. Golf"


Check out the "NWS Tactical Thigh Holster" from LBT. It is the one I use for carry in the woods. It can be used in a couple different configurations, but it's main plus is that used as shown, your handgun WILL be there when you need it. (And not laying in the rocks at the bottom of some canyon...don't ask.) IMHO LBT makes some of the finest products around, and they are made to last and last. See: - "Gung Ho"

JWR Replies: I agree that London Bridge is a great gear maker. OBTW, I prefer hip holsters to thigh holsters. I find the latter fatiguing on long hikes.

"Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom." - President John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Today, I'm covering Texas, the 16th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 20.8 million.
Population Density: 77.9 per square mile (Rank 4 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 266,800 square miles (rank 2 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $759/yr. (rank 25 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $880/yr. (rank 1 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 41 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 82%.
Per capita income: $27,752 (rank 24 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 47 of 50.
Plusses: Has a high rating in “education freedom” (ranked #6 of 50), since Texas has relaxed home schooling laws, but the public schools are far below average. Texas is just plain huge. The population density figure cited above is skewed by the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston metro areas. A lot of Texas out in the hinterboonies is very lightly populated.
Minuses: High population density (by western U.S. standards.) Major population centers. Very high crime rate. Hurricane prone (ranked #1 of the coastal states.) Coastal Texas and +/- 50 miles inland is in the hurricane zone. Extremely high home insurance rates. (Average of $880 per year--ranked #1 in the country for 2005--but probably soon to be surpassed by Louisiana.) High ratio of illegal aliens. Some rural parts of the state are recommended, with reservations.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 13 of 19.

I've mentioned the Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) several times since I launched this blog in August. The risk of mutation of the virus into a form that could be transmitted from person to person (P2P) is relatively small. However, if that were to happen, it would be catastrophic. The folks at WorldNetDaily (one of my daily "must reads") just posted a story that quotes a WHO official that said that a species-jumping P2P mutation of H5N1 could cause a global pandemic that would likely result in "the deaths of "tens of millions". Take the time to read this article, and plan accordingly.

Recently North Korea and Iran have both made overtures about dismantling their nuclear programs. Frankly, I'm dubious. The following may be evidence of the"free floating anxiety" that I was accused of having by one of my televised debate adversaries, but I feel convicted to mention it. I believe that the risk of a nuke going off in CONUS is now greater in the post-Soviet era than it was back during the height of the Cold War. There are at least a dozen "backpack" nukes from the former Soviet Union that are still not accounted for. And of course there are several international terrorist groups that would love to get their hands on a nuke and touch it off in downtown New York City. Whether they buy one on the black market or they build one of their own, I am convinced that the odds are 60%+ that a nuke--or at least a sub-critical dirty bomb--will go "bang" somewhere in CONUS within the next 10 years.

Assuming that the foregoing is a reasonable possibility, you should protect yourself. Unless you live in a major metropolitan city and have very bad luck, the odds of being in the blast/flash/thermal effects radius of a terrorist nuke are very small. There are greater odds of being down wind of fallout. But there is an event higher likelihood that you could end up in an EMP "footprint." If the terrorists are really clever, the most effective way that they could use a nuke would be to detonate it at high altitude (either suspended from a balloon or in a jet aircraft flown to its absolute ceiling--something over 35,000 feet.). They could do this over New York or Los Angeles. Here are the physics in a nutshell: The higher the altitude means the broader the line of sight (LOS), and hence the larger the EMP footprint. An nuclear air burst creates an EMP surge that will couple with all metallic objects that are within LOS (phone lines, power lines, railroad tracks, and so forth) and instantly fry any unprotected computer chips--billions of chips, all at once. The economic effects would be devastating. The corresponding societal impact is almost too much to imagine. (For one man's view of the latter, see the web novel "Lights Out", available for free download at the Frugal Squirrel's web page--just scroll down to bottom of the main page. BTW, there are several other pieces of survival fiction there as well. They aren't all epic fiction, but they are thought provoking)

Specific Nuclear Threat Countermeasures Recommendations:
, study up on fallout protection. If you don't already have a copy, get a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills--available for free download from the folks at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. If you might be downwind, build yourself a fallout shelter. Buy yourself a radiation dosimeter, rate meter, and charger.

Second, unless you have vehicles that are pre-electronic (see my previous posts on this subject for details), buy one or two spare set of ignition and fuel injection electronic components for each vehicle. Keep those stored in Faraday Cage enclosures such as milsurp ammo cans.

Third, put any radios, computers, night vision equipment or other electronics that you don't use regularly in similar Faraday protected storage.

Fourth, buy at least one older fully "EMP Proof" radio that uses all vacuum tubes. (No, chips, transistors, or even SCRs.) That will be your designated radio to leave out for everyday use during times of international tensions. OBTW, I currently have an auction on eBay running for one of my spare radios. It is a Hallicrafters 38C (an AM/HF receiver) that was built in the early 1950s. It has all vacuum tube circuitry, so it is virtually invulnerable to EMP. Similar radios often come up for sale on eBay, or can be found at garage sales if you look around. Garage sales in predominantly retirement communities are best for that. (Old people = old radios.)

Fifth, stock up on Potassium Iodate (KI) to protect against thyroid damage in the event of a nuclear incident. Do a search through my archives for details. KI tablets are sold by Ready Made Resources (RMR) and several other vendors. Tangentially, I heard today that RMR just got in a fresh supply of Polar Pure (iodine crystal) water purifying bottles. With another hurricane currently plowing toward the Gulf Coast, I don't think that they will keep those in stock very long.

Sixth, pray. I'm serious: Get right with God, and pray for His guidance, providence, and protection.

Jim asked me a while back to write a piece on carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) in hot weather and damp climates. I failed. What you have here simply has to do with CCW overall. I tried to limit it, but after a few false starts I realized there was no way to keep it confined to hot weather without covering the basics anyway. I’m no expert. I’ve carried concealed both in the USA and overseas, and have done so daily (almost without exception) for the last 20 years. In every class I take I usually learn something new, and always learn something old. I’m no expert in guns or writing. So here you go.

The first and most important thing about a concealed weapon is to understand what it does and does not do for you. Having a gun and be willing to use a gun are two different things. It has been rightly said that “A sheep with a gun is still a sheep.” Also, if you carry a concealed weapon, you may still be attacked. After all, the attacker doesn’t know you have one. So just having a gun on you does not stop crime. Think of the concealed weapon as a spare tire. It won’t prevent flats, but it can certainly help out if you have one. The first step is to develop the mental attitude required to carry a gun. Once that’s done, proceed to step two. That second step would be dependent upon your state’s laws. Obviously some places are easier to legally carry, but they all have some odd-ball codes and laws, and you need to know them. Often times a class may be required, but often times it’s not. The laws still apply, so it’s up to you to know them. Hey, it’s part of your responsibility anyway. So now you have your CWP, CHL or whatever you want to call it, or you live where you don’t need one, and it’s time to start packing. Obviously the first thing you need is a gun. Now gun choices are a personal thing. I could pontificate about one gun or another, but in the end it’s your hide, and your choice.
Choose something that you like. The reason for this is you’ll practice with something you like more than something you hate. You’re also relying on this for your life, so you might as well like it. King Arthur probably didn’t hate Excalibur, and you shouldn’t hate your carry gun either. Carry a gun you like, it makes life easier. What’s good for one person may not be suitable for another. So don’t get too wrapped around the axle about when anyone tells you that, “you need to carry X…blah, blah, blah.” Advice is great, but it’s your life that we are talking about here. Choose based on what you need, not on what someone else needs.
Carry a gun that you’re comfortable with. You want it to be as easy as grabbing your cell-phone or car keys. It needs to be easy to live with. It also needs to be good enough to put a quick end to your problems too. I’m not as dogmatic as some in choosing a particular caliber. A good hit in any decent caliber will do the job. Making a hole that’s one tenth of an inch bigger will not make up for a poor hit. I guess I’m from the Shot Placement party. I wouldn’t go smaller than a .38+P, and I wouldn’t go larger than a .45ACP for most applications. I’m not going to get into any pissing-matches on the subject either. Choose what you feel is right for you. In the sticks or in the city, you may have to also deal with animals of pretty good size. Dogs, big cats, lions, tigers and bears, whatever, just remember you might have to deal with something other than a two-legged assailant.
I’m not a big fan of specific guns for limited applications. I don’t have a “car gun”, a “nightstand gun”, a “house gun”, a “cold weather gun, nor a “hot weather gun”. I have one gun that I carry. It goes with me out the door, into the car, around the town, back in the house, and there it is. If you have guns stashed all over the place, that’s your business. That works for many just fine. I just feel that if the gun I’m carrying is good enough to trust my life to, then it’s good enough to trust it in the house, in the car, et cetera.
So now you have your gun. How will you pack it around? There are several ways to do it. One is “off-body”. This is the fanny pack, gun purse, briefcase, portfolio, etc. option. While they do indeed easily conceal a good size gun, anything that’s not strapped to your body securely increases the risk that you won’t have it right when you need it. A purse snatcher may render someone weaponless. It’s fairly common in tourist areas to “snake” a fanny pack off of someone and run off as well. Unless you maintain positive possession of that portfolio at all times, then your gun isn’t secure. There are some good reasons to use off-body, but a lot of bad ones too. I’d do some serious thinking before using one of these methods.
Another common way is to carry it in your pocket. Yeah, it works but the gun is rarely secure, so drawing it is slower since it’s not in the same place all the time. When it’s flopping around in your pocket it can become uncomfortable as well banging around in your pocket. It also wears on pockets something fierce. There are pocket holsters, and they work, but pocket pistols are usually small, light, underpowered affairs. There is always the shoulder holster. It’s not all that popular generally because it’s a hassle to put on and take off, and you have all sorts of adjustments. Women can find the shoulder holster more useful, because hip holsters are often made for men, and a lady’s hips just aren’t the same. If you have to use the toilet a lot, a shoulder rig makes the process easier though. If you sit a lot at a desk, or drive a lot, they can work as well. Then there is the ankle holster. You need to dress right for it. Obviously shorts won’t work. Neither will close fitting, boot cut jeans. The biggest drawback with them is it takes two hands to draw, and it takes time and space. The most stable way to do it is to go to one knee, pull up with one hand and draw with the other. There are variations, but it’s going to be hard to do if you’re in contact with a mugger, or have one arm fending off a knife or herding a child. As a back-up, I’d say it’s a great place. As a primary, it’d have to be a situation where I couldn’t carry on my belt. Which brings us to the waist carry. Inside the belt, outside the belt, tucked in the waist, “Mexican string”, clips, whatever. Most people carry this way, and there are a large variety of holsters available. The most important thing about carrying on the waist is the belt, not the holster. You can get away with a cheap holster if you have to, as long as you have a good, stiff belt to support it. If you have a $150 holster, it will still suck if it used with a flimsy belt. Get a good belt! This is where your money should go.
Obviously for the gun to be concealed, you need to hide it some way from common sight. Try to blend in. Wearing a police raid jacket in 110 degree weather isn’t blending in. A lot of people have gone to vests. How successful that is will depend on what people wear in your area. Darker colors will hide the profile of a gun better than light ones. Also watch how you move. Bending over, reaching up, etc may expose your sidearm. If you pick an inside the waistband system, remember to have room in your waistband. The first couple times you carry, you might feel like a gun with a person attached to it. Once you get used to it, it’s no biggie.

Practice the way you will be using the gun. If it’s cold and you’re wearing gloves, then you need to practice with them on. The same goes for drawing from under a coat. Practice with what you’ll be wearing. If it’s hot, practice when it’s hot. Sweaty hands can make things different. Inspect your gun regularly. Yeah, it sounds odd, but people forget to re-load their gun after cleaning it, or worse yet don’t clean it until they shoot it. Get in a habit in the way you do things. Stick to those habits.
Practice in situations that are real-life threats to you. Americans spend a great deal of time in and around cars. In fact, statistically, most gunfights in the USA occur in and around cars. So practice from the driver’s seat with the seat belt on. You should practice getting out, getting in, and moving around a car.
Training is the key. Get professional training. OK, I won’t harp on it, but if you don’t have training, you’re counting on luck--and that’s not what you should be counting on. - "Doug Carlton"

JWR Adds: I wholeheartedly concur with Doug's comments. My personal choice for concealed carry is a stainless steel compact .45 ACP such as a Colt Officer's Model or even a trusty old Detonics. But YMMV. It is important to get top notch training at a place like Front Sight. That is money well spent. If you've never attended professional firearms training, you'll find that you will learn more in one weekend than you picked up casually in your entire lifetime. Train as you’ll fight, because human nature dictates that you will fight as you train. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Rather, PERFECT practice makes perfect. Don't scrimp on training!

Dear Jim:
I read your insightful article on the pending economic meltdown and in it you suggested storing up tangible assets like gold/silver, ammo, and GUNS, etc. My
question is concerning the details of purchasing used firearms for barter and trade.
1.) Do you think that used is better than new because private party sales are done with no paper trail?
2.) If so, what types and caliber(s) do you foresee as being the most pragmatic and desired TEOTWAWKI?
3.) Do you recommend equal quantities of rifles, shotguns and pistols or do you have other ideas?
4.) Are their any calibers or manufacturers you suggest we stay away from in a barter scenario?
5.) Are you storing firearms for barter/trade or are you keeping your arsenal for personal use?
P.S. I just read in your Oregon profile where the State has stopped all private [no transfer record] gun show gun sales. Fortunately out here in Arkansas there seems to be an ample supply of firearms for sale. Whatever we do, we had better "make hay while the sun is still shining!"
B'shem Yahshua Messiah, - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies:
In answer to your questions...
1.) Definitely buy used, but be sure to buy quality. (Read Boston's Gun Bible for detailed gun recommendations as well as some useful gun show buying strategies.) By buying used guns, you can buy privately (sans paper trail--very important), and almost as importantly you won't be paying full retail. Guns shows are probably the best place to buy. However, some private party sales bargains might come up in you local newspaper classified section. Assuming that you paper hasn't gone PC and banned gun ads, check the classifieds every week.
2.) IMO, in CONUS, the calibers to concentrate on are .22 Long Rifle, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 12 gauge, and .308 Winchester. In Alaska, add .44 magnum, .30-06, and perhaps .375 H&H Magnum to the list. In Australia, Oz, or New Zealand, add .303 British to the list. In any Third World country, add 7.62x39mm Russian (AK-47) to the list.
3.) Based on expected demand, I'd recommend 40% Main Battle Rifles (.308 semi-auto), 30% semi-auto handguns, 20% pump action riot shotguns (preferably with a spare long "bird" barrel for each), and the balance in semi-auto .22 rimfires. (For example the Marlin Papoose and/or the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22.)
4.) Avoid most cheap off brands. There are a few exceptions, such as N.E.F. (New England Firearms), which makes surprisingly good guns at budget prices. Likewise, avoid oddball calibers! Think: commonality. Remember that any of your designated "barter" guns may just as well end up in the the hands of relatives or other newcomers that will be living at your retreat. So getting "extra copies" of the guns that are already in your personal battery would be ideal. That will have several key advantages, namely: commonality of training, commonality of magazines, and commonality of spare parts.
5.) I have set aside roughly 20% of my firearms battery for charity and barter.

One note in closing: When shopping for used guns for barter, forget about aesthetics. Some of the real bargains at gun shows are guns with nasty home brew camouflage paint jobs, guns with a lot of honest holster wear or hunting wear (but no pitting), and guns that have been "personalized". (Typically these have amateurish carvings on the stocks.) Remember that a gun fight is not a beauty contest. Rather, it is playing for keeps, with no second place winner.

Sir: Can you be more detail oriented and give us your opinion on some of the factors you have mentioned previously? Which areas in the West are not potential deserts and have natural un-irrigated water supplies? Which areas are sufficient wood available? Which have the least population density? I have thought Modoc County, CA would meet this requirements. How about you? - R.Y.

JWR Replies:
Modoc County has much more harsh winters and a shorter growing season than California's northern coastal counties. You might be better off on the western slopes of the Yolla Bollies. This region is just as remote as Modoc County (if not more so), and has a milder climate. BTW, if you are going that far north, why not go a little farther and escape the California Nanny State legal morass? (It is only going to get worse as time goes on! ) There are some nice areas in southwest Oregon, which I will be covering in detail in my blog in a couple of weeks. Be patient... My detailed retreat locale recommendations will be posted at this blog starting next week.

Mr. Rawles,
In your 09/19/2005 blog, you asked for input on different architectural techniques related to a retreat. Following is information on a type of construction that has some interesting potential. Take a look at the video at . It is a high-resolution Windows Media Player file showing construction of sandbag shelters using very low tech methods and tools. The shelter exceeds all standard earthquake specs for buildings. Very cool idea and a very well done video. The objective was to find shelter for refugees rather than sticking them in tents. Adding Portland cement to the sand makes for a very permanent structure. In a nutshell, the construction technique uses a modified type of sandbag. The defensive advantages should be readily apparent. For someone with little money to spend and little time left, this could very well be a good solution. Architectural drawings are available if needed for building permits, etc.
This photo - - shows a home under construction.
This photo - - shows that just how nice a home can look using this construction technique. - "SMG"

JWR Replies: More about retreat architecture will be posted in the near future. But for now, here is a teaser -- just as FFTAGFFR.

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Yesterday morning, we passed the one million hit threshold! The more important metric is that we've had more than 43,000 unique visits. Yee haw! Not bad for a blog site that is just 45 days old. Please help to continue to spread the word. Just sending a one line e-mail to all of the folks on your e-mail list will make a big difference. Many thanks!

Today, I'm covering South Dakota, the 15th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential. Following this series of state-level articles I will begin making specific retreat locale recommendations down to the county level. OBTW, if you have first-hand experience, I'd appreciate your input on specific retreat locales anywhere on the planet. If you know of a region that will provide a nice self-sufficient hidey hole for WTSHTF, let us know, via e-mail.

South Dakota:
Population: 754,800.
Population Density: 9.78 per square mile (Rank 16 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 77,100 square miles (rank 16 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $618/yr. (rank 46 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $380/yr. (rank 42 of 50. )
Crime Safety Ranking: 4 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 69%.
Per capita income: $25,958 (rank 34 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 12 of 50.
Plusses: Very low population density and crime rate! A low “total tax burden” of 8.9%. Low car insurance rates.
Minuses: Cold winters and a short growing season. Like its northern sibling, South Dakota has major nuclear targets, so I only recommend that you look west (upwind) of the missile fields.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 7 of 19.

All of the books in the "Little House on the Prairie" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder are great reads for all ages. Many lessons can be gleaned from their pages. (The books are much better than the sappy television series.) Laura’s "Pa" was an eternal optimist. When he saw the luxuriant prairie grasses he assumed the soil was rich and good for farming. But he did not realize that those plants were designed to survive in the Dakota territories’ weather and its pests and and that cultivated grains were not. He did not foresee the devastating storms and pests that would wipe out his crops. Like other homesteaders he took out chattel mortgages on his oxen team in order to buy lumber to build the required house on the homestead. He figured that the wheat crop would more than cover the mortgage. Pa had his crops destroyed one year by a hail storm. Another year his wheat was shriveled by searing winds. Gophers ate half of his seeds as soon as he planted. Another year enormous flocks of blackbirds ate all the ripening corn and all the oats. Twice a plague of locusts ate every green thing on the farm.
As you make you preparation plans, you must plan on the worst. Do not think like Pa that a harvest is a SURE thing. Have a food storage program to get you through crop failures! Diversify your crops. A disaster may wipe out your corn, but you could still have potatoes. Plant way more than than you think you’ll need. Insects and birds will devour more than you think. Pay off your land so that you don’t get foreclosed on when the economy turns bad. Farming doesn’t often “pay” so be sure you have another plan for making enough cash to pay your taxes. The sayings of the old farmers are still applicable today: Don’t count your chicks before they hatch. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. And nothing is sure but death and taxes.

I appreciate the link on Captain Dave’s site. I have read your book [Patriots ] 'till the pages are falling out. I have been visiting your blog every day since it was first mentioned on Captain Dave's. I just wanted to give you a quick A1 "Attaboy" on your advertisers. I have used JRH Enterprises starting in the mid-late 90’s when he was still located in Jacksonville Florida, and he has ALWAYS been a source of good information, honesty, and good deals. If he does not have it he can tell you who does. Bruce Hemming (Buckshot’s) has been a valuable source of training and equipment for trapping to someone that lives in a non-trapping state, and has never done it before. Believe me, if his videos can teach me (they DID!) then anyone can learn. And one last advertiser: Ready Made Resources. I discovered them the late 1990’s when I was preparing for Y2K. I bought thousands of dollars in long term food and supplies from RMR. I have and continue to recommend them as the BEST source this side of the Mississippi. They have always had the best prices and most variety, and have done a great job of expanding into other supplies. Living in Panama City, Florida, I have not dedicated money into the Wiggy's sleeping bag fund yet but when I finish the retreat in Western N.C., it will surely be higher on the list.

I know you do not recommend retreats on this side of the country but how do you feel about western North Carolina (Macon County), I prefer the lower elevation mountains and the growing season there, as well as the sparse population. Thanks for the daily information - R.L. in Panama City, FL

JWR Replies: Thanks for you kind words about the SurvivalBlog advertisers. I am very selective about from whom I'll accept advertising.

Regarding North Carolina: I am quick to admit that I have western U.S.-centric viewpoint. This is in part because my family came out west by covered wagon in 1857. My great-great grandfather felt that Ohio was getting "too many people." (I can't help but be reminded of the lyrics of the bluegrass song "New Cut Road", a.k.a. "Coleman Bonner".)

I'm not familiar enough with North Carolina to make any specific locale recommendations. Perhaps a SurvivalBlog reader who lives there will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

I just read Army Aviator's post on the helmets, et al. He brings up some good points, and perhaps even ones that he didn't intend to. Just because the Army does things a certain way, doesn't make it the right way for a survivalist. The main difference is that the Army has a long logistics capability and an individual's will vary so much that even things that may work for one group, might not work for another. An example is the tarps used on the 5-ton trucks. For the Army, the plastic tarps are a better system to use. They're lighter, cheaper, and they can come in different colors cheaper and easier. Basically, they're more disposable than the canvas ones (that only come in green and painting them tan for use in arid climates only works marginally well) due to unit cost. Well, that approach is probably better for the Army, because they have a huge logistics system that can provide for that, and hence their relatively short service life is not a major issue. The problem is that individual survivalists don't have a logistics "tail" like that. So for a survivalist, the canvas might be a better option for the same use. Another example is battery powered gear. The Army devours batteries at an enormous rate. In Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), it became critical to a point that batteries rivaled fuel in maintaining the advance. There's no way that an individual survivalist is going to maintain that tempo of battery usage, yet I see several who continually purchase battery powered devices like there's no tomorrow. Some of these item s may have great value, and some may not, but they all take batteries and usually these folks have no "battery plan". The same goes for any piece of equipment, or even tactical doctrine. What works great for the "Big Army" might not work for me. Many people with no exposure to the logistics of warfighting don't understand just how much effort goes into the Army's logistic system. They just figure that "if it's good for the Army, then it must be good for me." Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Army's a good place to get ideas, but you must always look at your own needs to make decisions on what to buy, or how to do things. As a side note, the MICH came about to have a compatible helmet for Special Forces (SF) individual commo systems. They made it cover less area for a variety of reasons. For SF use, the higher sensory effectiveness was the trade-off for area covered. The ACH is basically the MICH without the commo integration. Per square inch, the ballistic protection provided by the ACH is actually higher than the K-pot. [The Kevlar PASGT helmet.] The material used is indeed lighter, but it will stop more than the 1980's Kevlar in the K-pot. The problem is that the old K-pot covers more head area so the ACH may indeed be less effective. The USMC has decided against the ACH (though Force Recon uses the MICH) and will be issuing a helmet made from the same lighter, stronger ballistic material of the ACH, but built in the same profile of the current K-pot. That will give them the same higher ballistic protection, without sacrificing the area covered. As for the sidearm, there is another example of not buying the way the Army now does things. They went with cheap aftermarket magazines, and got predictable results. (Factory mags worked 100% in the desert). What many don't know is that the mag problem was actually identified a few years earlier. It was pretty common knowledge here when the Navy guys started having the same problems with their P226s here a couple years before OIF. At first I figured some swabbie was swapping out mil-spec mags for their private mags, but sure enough the Navy had bought aftermarket mags for the SEAL's SIG P226's. They were all collected up, and factory mags issued, and P226 failures disappeared. (Shocking!) The bottom line: just because it's U.S.G.I., it may not be the best. - "Doug Carlton"

JWR's Note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Doug Carlton character. It is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. (We went through ROTC at San Jose State University together in the early 1980s.) "Doug" is a former U.S. Army pilot who now works in the civilian transportation sector.

Dual Fuel Carbs for generators generally aren't available any more. Also, Onan references below also include Kohler's. Onan Generators 4.0kw to 7.5 kw are a good selection when combined with a Trace SW4024 inverter package. I run my generator two hours a day and have electricity 24/7. (Generators are best run with a full load for maximal service life and fuel economy.)

I've noticed that many people think of having a generator and when the grid goes poof, cranking up the genny and life goes on. That dog doesn't hunt. They usually use a ton of non-essential electricity.and that simply doesn't cut it when the grid goes away. You can't possibly run a 100KW for the needed period AND storing (and wasting ) that much fuel is foolish.

I've been able to get along wonderfully with a 4.0 KW Onan, I thought about going larger but by staying with the 4.0 KW, I was able to acquire two generators. I only need one but "Two is one and one is none" I do rotate the two on a scheduled basis. Anyway, I started out around 1999 with the one running on gasoline. (Note my property doesn't have anything coming into it, no electricity, phone, water, NADA!) I went thru Y2K with that setup and it was great. So I went to buy the Dual Fuel carb and BINGO, Due to EPA/OSHA/some alphabet agency they don't make that any more so I installed the Propane-only carb for both generators. I still have all the gas carb parts and can change back at will (30 minutes) but what a pain. Note: Do the conversion yourself and ask for help if you need it, BUT do it yourself. Then you can do it again when there is no help. Next to last note: Get the not so terribly older Onans/Kohlers. They have a mechanical voltage and frequency (60 Hz) adjustment/control and the Trace still loves it. These older units have minimal electronics to EMP fry (or simply fail). Worst thing you'll generally find is a mud dauber plugs up the case vent hose and the thing stutters. (Use a coat hanger!)

Last note: Propane stores well! Underground tanks are a waste of time unless you really have to be hidden. Above ground tanks won't "blow up" They will pop the safety valve and vent with a great big ball of flame but they won't explode or fragment AND by going with above ground surplus tanks you can store a lot more propane. (I have 6000 gallons). (And mine survived the forest fires!) The only drawback to propane is you can't go get 5 gallons of propane and pour it into your tank. That's why you need propane and diesel for your fuel reserves. If anybody asks why you're buying so much fuel? Tell them you're buying ahead for your retirement so that when you DO retire your cost of living will be minimal for the first 6 years. or Buying ahead lets you buy when the price is best. Both are always accepted. Regards, - The Army Aviator

Hi Jim,
Thanks for doing a great job on SurvivalBlog... very informative, easy to follow and obviously attracting some pretty bright folks.

Having spent nearly 40 years "working" for Uncle Sam in a variety of military and civilian posts (I retired as a senior IRS field agent), I have a deep-seated mistrust of the feds.

We, The People, are one episode away from martial law and the end of the United States Constitution. As retired General Tommy Franks put it... "the worst thing that could happen” is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties. If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.” Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack. “It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution." Coming from a former CENTCOM commander, that statement should have scared all of us to death. In reality, it raised few eyebrows, testimony to how little we Americans value our liberty. When martial law is enacted, the light of liberty will flicker and die.

Imagine this: A major terrorist attack or a major earthquake on the New Madrid Fault... President Hillary Clinton's FEMA director (Chuck Schumer) orders the confiscation of all semi-automatic firearms in the interest of public safety. Does our spine turn to jelly and we stare at our Nike sneakers as we're disarmed, or do we put ourselves at odds with the government and defy the order? Too many folks not surrendering their weapons? Any guess on what happens next? Should we have added backbone to our stockpile of beans and bullets? I guess that I'm a pessimist. I fear there are too few of us left who value Liberty above safety. We're vastly outnumbered by the folks who are willing to surrender precious Liberty in exchange for the worthless promises of professional politicians.

I hope that our Grandkids can forgive us for all we've given away in our post 911 fear and hysteria. - "Dutch"

I recommend getting a copy of the book "Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat To North America" by Larry Wayne Harris (Registered Microbiologist and a Christian)
ISBN 0-9647860-5-2

Why do you need this book? Here is an example: Chapter 13 is on Preparation of Veterinary & Agriculture Antibiotics for Human Use. This chapter has dose charts for using six of the most commonly available veterinary antibiotics.

Used copies are often available through from private sellers.

I get a chuckle out of your terms "When the Schumer Hits the Fan" and "Schumeresque." I am unfortunately, stuck with ol' Chuckie [Schumer] as a Senator. The biggest laugh is, as you may know, we have a CCW permit system here [in New York.] Schumer is very anti-gun. A state trooper told me years ago, he was accessing the permit log and found that Schumer himself has a permit, and there were, at the time, two guns listed on it. He couldn't say what [models] they were, but there were two. Probably more, by now!!

Hi Jim,
Just read your review of Oregon for retreat potential. Good write up. But your reference to the face to face transfer for firearms is slightly inaccurate. AFIK only those transactions between private parties at a gun show must be papered. Those done in other ways (i.e. newspaper ad, garage sales, private sales between friends, etc.) can still be done without paperwork. I'm an NRA instructor and active range safety officer and try to keep up on the laws and haven't heard of that getting through yet.
Though some in the state house would like to make things more like California than we already are. There's also a state preemption pertaining to guns that prohibits cities, counties or other local government bodies from making any laws pertaining to the possession or use of firearms. Oregon is also a "shall issue" state in regards to concealed carry permits.
Keep up the good work, your powder dry and eyes toward heaven.
Blessings to you and the Memsahib. - Jeff in Oregon

JWR Replies:
Thanks for the clarification. I will make the requisite correction to my post. Sadly, since gun shows are the best place to find a decent selection of used guns, and since many metropolitan newspapers now refuse to run gun ads in their classified sections, I consider this change in the Oregon law a significant hit against firearms freedom. The state is definitely suffering from creep Californication. Alas, simply moving to eastern Oregon is not the solution, when everyone is subject to the same petty tyrannies that they issue forth from Salem.

"These people want our guns because they want to run our lives, and they don't want to worry about getting shot when they try to do so. When you hear that they've confiscated my gun, then you'll know I'm dead". - Newspaper columnist Dr. Walter Williams

Monday, September 19, 2005

Please spread the word about Survival Blog. Your mention of this blog at Internet Forums and/or on radio talk shows is greatly appreciated!

Today, I'm covering Oregon, the 14th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 3.4 million.
Population Density: 35 per square mile (Rank 9 of JWR’s top 19 states) (The highest density is in the northwest part of the state. It is much lower elsewhere, particular eastern 2/3rds of the state.)
Area: 97,000 square miles (rank 10 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $704/yr. (rank 35 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $343/yr. (rank 47 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 18 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 65%.
Per capita income: $27,660 (rank 25 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 10 of 50 (tied with Washington).
Plusses: No sales tax. Very low home insurance rates. (Average of $343 per year. Ranks #47 in the country!) Has a high rating in “education freedom” (ranked #5 of 50), since Oregon has relaxed home schooling laws. Relatively low car insurance rates.
Note: In the late 1970s, the much-respected survival writer Mel Tappan touted southwestern Oregon--particularly the Rogue River Valley--as a survival haven. But that was back when California had a population of only around 20 million people. Today, I'm not sure that southwestern Oregon will have sufficient geographic isolation to be immune from California's "Golden Horde" in the event of an abrupt TEOTWAWKI. Presently, I recommend the Grande Ronde Valley of eastern Oregon. I will have more on specifically recommended Oregon locales in subsequent posts.
Minuses: High property taxes. Creeping Californication. Second lowest church attendance rate in the country. Restrictive zoning and expensive building permits in many western counties. Private party gun sales at gun shows were recently banned. All transactions involving modern (post-1898) gun at gun shows must now be processed through a FFL-licensed dealer, with the requisite paperwork. Sadly, since gun shows are the best place to find a decent selection of used guns, and since many metropolitan newspapers now refuse to run gun ads in their classified sections, I consider this change in the Oregon law a significant hit against firearms freedom.
Parts of the state are recommended, (with reservations).
Note: I probably should have given Oregon a lower ranking, due to its mediocre gun and tax laws. However, its favorable climate and long growing season pushed it up the list slightly. JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 3 of 19.

The following comes to us from a SurvivalBlog reader who was deployed with a WMD/Hazmat Team to New Orleans, very soon after the hurricane struck. Cellular phone difficulties and 15+ hour work days kept him from making reports to SurvivalBlog as he had originally planned.

I'm very sorry that I couldn't make contact [while there] and keep you all up to date with the Katrina Deployment.

I rotated out of New Orleans yesterday and made it home it time for my daughter's 16th birthday. Quite an emotional ride, to say the least. I want to say thanks to those who supported my WMD team and continue to do so. Emotions ran very high. We have recovered several human remains ("HRs") and identified ("IDed") several of these. I was a Strike Team leader composed of 8-10 individuals varying each day on our operations ("OPS"). I was privileged to have a Chaplain embedded with us on several recovery's. For each set of HRs, a simple prayer was given:
"Lord, We give thanks for this man's life.
We give thanks that he was found.
We give thanks for those that found him.
We ask that he may be made whole in God's arms.
And that he knows peace, Amen"

We treated these individuals with the dignity and respect they so deserve.

An interesting aspect of this was the attempt to make some comparisons to movies and the "Hollywood" aspects. Let's take Mad Max, Escape From New York, The Day After Tomorrow, and Soylent Green, rolling these together into real life. Now take the Hollywood out of it--and you have New Orleans.

These people have lost everything....the infrastructure is phones except for cellular, if and when the towers, (portable), work. Radio communications are less than good and operate under the most austere conditions. Electricity in some parts is coming back. Its interesting to see a city of that magnitude highlighted by only a few lights.

Now for the individuals who decided to be less than friendly...those individuals were met by an equal or greater force, subsequently neutralized and the OPS continued. Enough said!

People turned into animals.
I found it interesting that an individual who was "displaced" was given an MRE to eat...His reply was, "I don't want this stuff, I want real food." Amazing enough, most all of the participants of this recovery process were eating MREs, or Heater Meals either some or most of the time. This wasn't good enough for this individual, but it was for those who were helping...An interesting factor.

I guess from watching the TV most all saw the looting and destruction to the city and homes caused by a few lawless dregs...these are the types that we will face if and when another catastrophic event might occur...Enough said.

The AO is an environmental nightmare. Water is beyond polluted, testing high in most diseases we don't want to think about. Hand washing was/is a continuous task.

Hopefully I can sit down and write some more after a few days of decompression. Please remember my team-mates [still in New Orleans] in your prayers, as their task is demanding. If you care to assist in their "creature comforts", drop an e-mail to me...I'll supply the address.
[JWR Adds: I'll be happy to forward your e-mails--just include "For R.K.'s Team" in the message header.]

Be safe and pray that we never have to endure an incident such as this, because it could have been the beginning of the end. - R.K.

Shortly before Katrina hit I eliminated all of my unsecured debt. At the moment we have just the mortgage and two car payments (aside from utilities and insurance payments.) We put a 48 month plan into action. Every month we 'bank' a percentage of our income, roughly $1,000 USD a month. At the moment it's going into the safe and we are entering month 3 and are at $2,000 and right on track. Our car payments will be done before the 48 months are up and 100% of that will then also be going towards our new home/retreat. We are moving out west. Where, we don't know yet. Your reviews have been very informative thusfar, timely as well. God has brought us this far, and I trust he'll place us in the right location.

My request is this: A review of different home styles for a home / retreat. Patriotpages did an awesome job on standard ranch style houses, so I'm covered if we wind up getting a 'standard house'. I've read quite a bit about 'earth homes' that are covered on all sides except the front. I love the idea of not needing A/C in the summer and a temp of no less than 50 degrees in the winter without heating (especially if trees aren't as plentiful in your AO). The other advantage of being basically tornado proof really makes it appealing. The limited view from the home is a minus and a plus on a defensive side. I've been mentally thinking about how that would play out...

If we have 48 months left (I'm beginning to wonder) I hope to move into a new home (if Earth style, if not brick or cinder block) with 4-5 bedrooms with a full basement and all the goodies... if we can make it another full 12 months beyond that, I plan on it being completely off the grid from day one. Otherwise all we'll have is electric service on grid and the rest off grid. As things shape up over the next two years, I might buy my property early and put a trailer or small 600 square foot cabin type thing on it 'just in case'.

I don't know what you have planned after the State by State run-downs, but I thought that might be an idea. [JWR Adds: Stay tuned. I'll be making detailed suggestions on specific retreat locales soon after I finish my "19 Western States" review series.]

As an aside, I've ordered from a few times in the past... they always make it right, even if it takes them a month or two. I tell anyone ordering from them "If you need it on time, then buy elsewhere. If you can wait a few months, buy from them."
FWIW, A guy on ordered the Level 3/4 [body armor] plates from them last week and got them in under 7 days. Good deal as well, $150 shipped per plate. In Christ and Liberty, - Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, The Banzai Institute

JWR Replies: I plan to write a series of blog posts on retreat architecture options, probably early this winter. In preparation for writing that series, I would appreciate e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, helping to round out my knowledge. Sometimes dozens of bits of anecdotal information can build a fine and comprehensive "big picture" view of a subject. BTW, I plan to cover everything from double-wide trailers to Monolithic dome homes.

Shortly before Katrina hit I eliminated all of my unsecured debt. At the moment we have just the mortgage and two car payments (aside from utilities and insurance payments.) We put a 48 month plan into action. Every month we 'bank' a percentage of our income, roughly $1,000 USD a month. At the moment it's going into the safe and we are entering month 3 and are at $2,000 and right on track. Our car payments will be done before the 48 months are up and 100% of that will then also be going towards our new home/retreat. We are moving out west. Where, we don't know yet. Your reviews have been very informative thusfar, timely as well. God has brought us this far, and I trust he'll place us in the right location.

My request is this: A review of different home styles for a home / retreat. Patriotpages did an awesome job on standard ranch style houses, so I'm covered if we wind up getting a 'standard house'. I've read quite a bit about 'earth homes' that are covered on all sides except the front. I love the idea of not needing A/C in the summer and a temp of no less than 50 degrees in the winter without heating (especially if trees aren't as plentiful in your AO). The other advantage of being basically tornado proof really makes it appealing. The limited view from the home is a minus and a plus on a defensive side. I've been mentally thinking about how that would play out...

If we have 48 months left (I'm beginning to wonder) I hope to move into a new home (if Earth style, if not brick or cinder block) with 4-5 bedrooms with a full basement and all the goodies... if we can make it another full 12 months beyond that, I plan on it being completely off the grid from day one. Otherwise all we'll have is electric service on grid and the rest off grid. As things shape up over the next two years, I might buy my property early and put a trailer or small 600 square foot cabin type thing on it 'just in case'.

I don't know what you have planned after the State by State run-downs, but I thought that might be an idea. [JWR Adds: Stay tuned. I'll be making detailed suggestions on specific retreat locales soon after I finish my "19 Western States" review series.]

As an aside, I've ordered from a few times in the past... they always make it right, even if it takes them a month or two. I tell anyone ordering from them "If you need it on time, then buy elsewhere. If you can wait a few months, buy from them."
FWIW, A guy on ordered the Level 3/4 [body armor] plates from them last week and got them in under 7 days. Good deal as well, $150 shipped per plate. In Christ and Liberty, - Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, The Banzai Institute

JWR Replies: I plan to write a series of blog posts on retreat architecture options, probably early this winter. In preparation for writing that series, I would appreciate e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, helping to round out my knowledge. Sometimes dozens of bits of anecdotal information can build a fine and comprehensive "big picture" view of a subject. BTW, I plan to cover everything from double-wide trailers to Monolithic dome homes.

I have been checking out solar battery chargers and came across the link below. Perhaps some of the other SurvivalBloggers would be interested! - G.C.P.

Click here: AA-SOLAR - Solar AA Battery Charger

Dear Jim,
Excellent blog, it has really taken off, and I recommend it constantly. I have it on my desktop to read first thing every morning. Currently I'm living in coastal southern California, but plan to relocate in 2006. Much like New Orleans, Southern California is also "under water," or in our case, dependent on distant water supplies for over 90% of our fresh water needs. In the event of a terrorist attack or major earthquake which disrupts the water supply, SoCal will "go New Orleans" in a matter of days. On the plus side, I have a 48 foot home-built steel sailboat which is a proven ocean crosser. I spent 65 nonstop days at sea sailing from Guam to California, and I could easily stretch that to over 100 days in the "bug out" mode if I'm stuck in SoCal when things fall apart.

Now, onto a question about vehicle conversion for post-collapse use. Many of the states you recommend are now major natural gas producers. If these assets come under "local control" in some future scenarios, it may make a lot of sense to have a vehicle which can run on natural gas. Is there any reference material on what is involved with this conversion? Also, I understand propane can be used as a vehicle fuel, and propane has a very long or indefinite usable shelf life. Could propane or NG be used in the same vehicle, with minor adjustments?

Also, what about making a diesel-engine vehicle EMP-proof? Would this be a difficult matter, in these days of universal availability of conversion parts? I think a simple diesel truck (either an older model or one converted for EMP resistance) would be relatively cheap to buy today, and worth it's weight in silver during hard times. Of course, that assumes the prudent survivor has laid away an ample supply of diesel fuel.

Regards, - Matt Bracken (Author of the novel "Enemies Foreign and Domestic")

JWR Replies: Liquid propane (LP) conversions for trucks are fairly commonplace, especially with utility company trucks. (Not surprisingly, many propane companies have their entire fleet of vehicles powered by propane.) Sometimes companies auction off their older vehicles. This is an inexpensive way to acquire a propane-powered pickup. (Buying a truck for $2,500 at auction, versus paying $2,000 for a conversion.) The rule of thumb is that the energy in a gallon of LP is equates to 9/10ths of a gallon of gas.

Up until recently, running a vehicle on propane cost about the same per mile as gasoline. But the recent spike in gasoline prices illustrated one nice thing about propane--it doesn't usually have the same seasonal price fluctuations and news-driven price swings that gasoline does. And, of course it has a much longer storage life than gasoline. LP/NG-powered electric generators are also widely available.

Do keep in mind that propane and natural gas have differing chemistry, so they require different jet geometry. Ignoring that could cause a big fireball! The ultimate survival set-up is something like Dr. Gary North's home/retreat where he has his own natural gas wells. Talk about sitting pretty! Several vendors offer propane and natural gas conversions. OBTW, some states offer tax incentives for propane use. See this incentives and laws page for details.

I have briefly discussed diesel engines in EMP environments in a few previous posts. In essence, all early (pre-1990) diesels are EMP-proof. However, many that have been built since the early 1990s have used electronic fuel controls and/or electronic glow plug controllers, which could be fried by EMP. Most diesels can be retrofitted to eliminate these vulnerabilities. Any local diesel mechanic with experience with diesel powered pickups can tell you exactly what you need to know.

Dear Mr. Rawles, Just wanted to ask why Iowa didn't make the list of 19? If you could write a small blurb, it would be much appreciated. Also wanted to thank you for making your "Pulling Through" screenplay available. Great read!!!!!!! I can't wait for the movie. Should be done for T.V. to put out much needed info to the greater portion of the uninformed public. It would make life much easier on the rest of us to not have to inform people piecemeal one-at-a-time of things they need to know. Should be an ongoing series after "Katrina" it should be a dead certain to get a large viewership. I would think it'll run for years if you can find an intelligent network exec. to back it. Done right it would prove an invaluable tool for "Homeland Security", FEMA, etc., to get the word out that you can't wait on them, but must do for yourselves or do without! Thanks for a great site, great reads, and for reawakening the "can do" attitude. Respectfully, - K.H.

JWR Replies: I generally don't consider Iowa to be suitable for retreating if and when things get truly Schumeresque. Its terrain is not defendable, much of the state is in close proximity to massive population centers in Illinois, and its crop diversity is marginal. Parts of the state might suffice, but in essence it is about 500 miles too far east. Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details. (In general, the east has too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.)

Further, I am not familiar enough with Iowa to make any specific locale recommendations. Perhaps someone who reads the blog who lives there will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6.

Today, I'm covering Oklahoma, the 13th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Population: 3.4 million.
Population Density: 48.5 per square mile (Rank 6 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 70,000 square miles (rank 18 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $736/yr. (rank 26 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $612/yr. (rank 5 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 33 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 80%.
Per capita income: $23,650 (rank 42 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 23 of 50.
Plusses: Minimally regulated home schooling.
Minuses: Fairly high population density (by western U.S. standards.) Fairly high crime rate. Tornado prone (ranked #3 out of top 20 States) High home insurance rates. (Average of $612 per year. Ranked #5 in the country!) Low wages. High car insurance rates. High population density (by western U.S. standards.) Low wages. Tribal governments create an extra layer of bureaucracy within the Indian reservation boundaries.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 17 of 19.

It seems to me that I was reading some of Reason Kearney's writings and he said the EMP damage to cars, etc was waaaay overrated. Of course, that was back when cars had a lot of non-solid state stuff and tube radios. I do remember he said all you had to do to protect the radio was ground the antenna to the car body. (Tube radio, I expect) and not to worry about the alternator and starter (unless you were smack dab in the middle of the flash). When he wrote that, we already had alternators in lieu of generators. Seems like the Army specifies that you should disconnect all antennas and power connectors prior to a [nuclear] detonation.It appears like your engine ought to still turn over and if your ignition system survives, your car might run.[JWR comments: True for most diesels and for any vehicle with a traditional points/rotor/condenser ignition--but not true for electronic ignitions or for electronic fuel ignition electronics.]

Just a thought, with the army switching from the Personal Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) helmet to the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH)--commonly referred to as a MICH (Modular/Integrated Communications Helmet) ,which it isn't really. The real MICH meets the same specs as the ACH but is reserved for special function groups. The ACH, however, is designed (as I recall) to maximally deflect 12 mm upon impact from a 9mm at (forget what speed, something pretty average though.). More a police level resistance than a combat one. Oh that's right, that's what the military will be for. Sorry, I forgot! Why I brought this up is ....... Good opportunity! The PASGT helmet is rated a lot higher in projectile impact and they are about to become dirt cheap. I've never minded the weight or configuration of my PASGT and it's stable as heck for using the PVS-14 [NVG]s. Good thing to have, keeps the sun out of your eyes and the rain off of your neck and projectiles from knocking the golley-whomper out of you. Just be sure to get the airborne nape pad. Although, something you might want to look at is a real MICH helmet. For general wear around the property after TSHTF, it'd be light and generally effective but then you could always grab the PASGT while locking and loading. A MICH and a pair of good gloves might save you some distress "When there is no doctor".

Off on a Tangent: On the NOROTOS, Inc. mount... Waste of money in my opinion so far. Single point release, too easy to bump and bingo, no
NVD. I'll give it some more time and let you know.

Comment: I have opined for awhile that "they" are reducing the ability and effectiveness of our troops equipment. Now we have a "lighter" helmet that "enhances vision and hearing on the battlefield". Sounds to me like the REMF's bitched about the weight and so they cheapened up the effectiveness. Just like they reduced the calorie count of MRE's because the REMF's were getting fat and now "Real" combat troops gotta eat two MREs to have an effective meal in combat. Look at the covers for M998's and 5 tons. Sucky plastic. How about the 9mm sidearm while the operators in Afghanistan ordered in .45s and pallets of ammo when they found out the 9mm didn't put their opponents down? And the 9mm [Beretta M9] magazine springs hung up, disabling the weapon. Modern military controls areas, grunts control the dirt..... AND the government fears the ex-military because the ex-military has seen that one man with a rifle can bring a government down. My grandfather told me that. Nuff bitching.

Like you I carry a .45. Since Mel Tappan's time back in the seventies, I've had my pair of Detonics Combat Masters, and I carry every day.

Oh, I should mention that the FreezeDryGuy's food is good. You have to follow the instructions on rehydrating the meat but then it's great on the BBQ grill
or the frying pan. - The Army Aviator

I got back into the National Guard (I got an 'old man' waiver). I am with the [Deleted for OPSEC]th Military Police (M.P.) Company. I am presently deployed with the hurricane relief. Even though I have been a 'survivalist' (whatever that means) for years, I have learned quite a bit this last month, some of which may move me more from 'armchair' to active survivalism. Our M.P. Company was activated and we are helping with the hurricane relief not far from New Orleans. We have not seen much nastiness where we are, but our daily 'police sheet' sounds like something out of your novel 'Patriots', and frankly, it scared me in an eerie sort of way. Reports of both Crips and Bloods a few miles one direction, Pagans and Hell's Angels not far another, the state police arrested a group of 25 (that was one group!) looters in the next county. We are working with the local police here, to keep order. the last two days we kept order at the food stamp distribution center (at a church) there were a few thousand [recipients] over this period (and this is in small town dixie). We drove to the outlying areas to hand out water and MREs. What scared me most was the fact that in such a rural area things would be so much like your book (and this was not as widespread a disaster as in your novel 'Patriots'. Below is a letter you may find interesting (FFTAGFFR).

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster. If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild. Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting. But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster. The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view. The man-made disaster is the welfare state. For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed; they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country. When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).
So what explains the chaos in New Orleans? To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story: "Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on. " The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gun fire..."

JWR's Comments: The liberals seem to want to have it both ways: First they were begging for Federal relief. "Why isn't the Army here?", they cried. Now, only a week later, we have Cindy Sheehan et al complaining about the Army's "occupation" of New Orleans. Sheeesh!

A huge fault I see in the survivalist planning of most people is to purchase and stock their bugout bag with the best and most carefully chosen equipment that mail order and eBay can provide years of loving care go into their Bugout Bag (BOB); I consider myself in this group. The potential "survival failure" comes if this gear is lost or taken.
Some people have have no idea how to substitute or replace their gear. You should hopefully have a good idea of the chemistry and physics of your gear and at least have the possibility of repair or replace with on site materials. For example: Sleeping Pads. The est replacement is either a stack of cardboard boxes--which makes good conductive thermal protection from cold concrete very popular with the homeless. From old non-PC Boy Scout manual, pine boughs (with branches the size of a normal pencil, nice and springy stack until you have a good thermal barrier for conductive heat loss.

JWR Comments: This illustrates several things: The first is adaptability. You should be able to think on you feet. That only comes with practice. I know of one survival group that trains specifically for adaptability. They dubbed one of their winter three day training weekends "Bucket Weekend"--in which everyone had to pack everything that they needed for the entire weekend aside from their coats into in one 5 gallon plastic bucket--including their sleeping gear and tentage. That is is the sort of exercise that really gets people thinking and encourages creativity and flexibility. BTW, one of their later summer weekend outings was called "Tennis Ball Can Weekend." That one nearly caused an insurrection

Secondly, David's letter illustrates the folly of putting all your eggs in one basket--namely your one and only precious G.O.O.D. Kit or "BoB", or even your one an only retreat location. Losing that one kit could cause someone to practically go into grief and mourning. Always have a Plan B,with the corresponding logistics for Plan B stored elsewhere. (Typically in a separate offsite cache.) One group that I've been associated with for many years by SOP has each of their members cache a spare weapon, pack and clothing in an offsite underground cache in adjoining National Forest, in the event that their retreat is ever over-run. (Each member has one P-3 Orion octagonal plastic sonobuoy storage canister and two or three big 20mm-size ammo cans in the caches.)

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds are against you and only a precious chance of survival. There may be even a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." - Winston Churchill

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Today, I'm covering North Dakota, the 12th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

North Dakota:
Population: 642,200.
Population Density: 9 per square mile (Rank 17 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 70,700 square miles (rank 17 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $601/yr. (rank 49 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $426/yr. (rank 33 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 2 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 61%.
Per capita income: $24,708 (rank 38 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 6 of 50.
Plusses: very low population density. Extremely low crime rate. Extremely low car insurance rates. With the decline in family farming, the state has actually de-populated, leaving real estate prices low. In eastern North Dakota, in-town lots can be had literally for free--to encourage re-settlement. For various economic and demographic data, see:
Minuses: Brutally cold winters. Short growing season.With the de-population, crop diversity has decreased. (Practically a monoculture.) Many small towns in North Dakota now lack key commerce such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and so forth. (People in many small towns are now forced to drive long distances to do their weekly shopping.) Some small towns in the de-populated regions are verging on desperation, hence the aforementioned "free lots"offers. (Some schools are being closed for want of pupils.) North Dakota has major nuclear targets, so I only recommend that you look west (upwind) of the missile fields. It is estimated that in a full scale nuclear exchange Russia might direct up to 1/3 of its ICBMs at the Dakotas! Unfortunately the missile fields are all WEST (mostly upwind) of Grand Forks (which is on the eastern border). Also, much of North Dakota is downwind from the missile fields in Montana and Wyoming, at least with the prevailing winds. That makes it less than inviting in a nuclear war scenario. North Dakota also has highly regulated home schooling.

JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 8 of 19.

I was gratified to see that the spot price of gold went to a 17 year high ($459 per ounce) yesterday, while silver closed at $7.21 per ounce. (See my metals price ticker.) I expect some brief profit taking for a few days (and perhaps into October--which has traditionally been a weak month for precious metals prices), but then the metals bull will probably resume his full-tilt charge in the winter. How high will the top be? Who knows... But consider that when adjusted for inflation, the $805 top that gold saw 25 years ago would equate to around $2,200 per ounce, today.

Only one thing is for certain: Like all of the other "fiat" (by decree) unbacked paper currencies of this new century, the U.S. dollar is doomed. Any investment that you buy denominated in dollars is a loser in the long run. Because of both the huge balance of trade deficit and the Federal government budget deficit, someday--probably within the next five years--there will be a full scale dollar crisis. When that happens, expect to lose 40 to 70% of the value of all of your dollar-denominated paper assets overnight. Poof. Finis. Gone!

Your solution to all of this is to buy tangibles. Buy productive farmland. Buy guns, buy ammunition, and buy storage food. Once that is done, buy some silver, and then perhaps some gold. Then you will be sitting pretty. Take the time to read through my Profiles of retreat owners. You will note that tangibles investing, including plenty of precious metals investing is a common thread. They do this for a reason: These folks are not the Generally Dumb Public (GDP). You should invest likewise.

My current prediction is that the U.S. Housing Market Bubble is likely to burst sometime in the next two or three years. There will likely be a concomitant stock market collapse and perhaps a dollar crisis. This will make the Crash of 1929 look like a summer picnic by comparison. And depending on which party that the Powers That Be (read: The Banksters) want to occupy the White House and to control congress, then these events will be orchestrated either before or after the next mid-term elections. (Pardon my cynicism.) In any event, buckle your seatbelts.

Parenthetically, I still think that silver has a better chance of doubling or tripling than gold in this bull market cycle. So if you have the room, buy more silver than gold. Besides, all of those 55 pound bags ($1,000 face value each) of pre-1965 silver coinage make great ballast in the bottom of a gun vault--making your vault that much harder for burglars to haul away. (Which is not to say that you shouldn't also bolt your vault to the floor, too.)

In closing...
Aside from my steadfast faith in God, the reason that I sleep well at night is the knowledge that my home has a very full larder, large stores of fuel, and a full gun vault. The last thing that I see when I drift off each night is the reassuring glow of a Colt 1911's tritium sights beside my bed.

I should point out that the battery offer by Botach is a high risk issue. Botach is a scum sucking bottom feeding scammer! Check the comments at and - They have a horrible reputation. I can also attest personally that they and have ripped me off (on an expensive rifle scope deal) as well as two of my associates (various rifle parts). I strongly encourage folks to slit their wrists before buying from Botach! - A.M.

JWR Replies: Don't hold back, A.M., tell us how you really feel! (Seriously, I appreciate your advice. I've removed that post.)

Mr. Rawles – I appreciate your web site and read it daily. This is in response to “Mo” in West Virginia: I wondered if you have read Mr. Joel Skousen’s book Strategic Relocation. He tends to feel there are areas of the south east that could be viable areas during a crisis . My choice would be central Idaho, but for complex reasons, I will stay in small town western North Carolina and try to prepare an adequate blast shelter. Water is plentiful here and the weather is rarely extreme. (Mr. Skousen also wrote an excellent book on survival shelters.) Respectfully, - C.G.


Letter Re: "Interest Only" Mortgages and Montana Real Estate (SAs: Economics, Montana)

I read a discussion today at Investec Research about on Mortgages and the Federal Reserve as well as price rises on property in Montana. The Fellow said that over 40% of new mortgages are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and then he said that over 40% of new mortgages are set up as interest only loans. Interest only means that it's a forever mortgage. Geez, it's just a new form of rent where the banks are becoming 100% property owners. I wonder what that connotes, huh? Another dot seems to be connected. - The Army Aviator

I have been thinking about EMP damage to circuitry. Am I correct that it only damages computer-chip circuits, or does it also fry transistor type? It won't harm old type ignition (with points) systems, right? If this is the case, a generator would become just as useless as anything, unless it is stored in a metal cabinet of some kind, right? How air-tight would it have to be to be effective in EMP suppression? (would it need to be totally welded, or just tacked good enough to keep it together? I am a welder, and am thinking about making just such a cabinet for my generator, just for such an eventuality, using old 275 gallon furnace oil tanks for metal, I find they are a good source for fairly heavy gauge metal, long as you 'burn them' first, so they won't cause any problems when ya cut them. So, the old tractors, Harleys, etc. will still run, but everyone else will be walking, right? Can we do anything to protect our existing ignition systems that we use day-to-day? I guess this is more than enough questions for right now. I just found your site last night, and I think you are barking up the right tree. With between 80 and 100 suitcase nukes running around, we are very likely to need this info sooner than later!! "My people perish for the lack of knowledge" is more true now than ever!!

If this is the case, extra ignition systems for these generators would be worth their weight in gold, if not more, if stored properly. Talk about a great barter item!! - S.C.

JWR Replies: To clarify: There is essentially nothing practical that you can do to protect existing vehicle electronic ignition systems or fuel injection systems that are used day-to-day. Just store spares, but they must be shielded. (See below.) The alternative is retrofitting to traditional "points, rotor, and condenser". This is still possible on many rigs built up until the early 1990s.

Some transistorized circuits are at risk from EMP. Essentially, it all depends on the size of the gaps (gates) between components. The smaller the gaps, the greater the risk. (With advances in miniaturization--now down to 1/10 micron gates on many chips--the vulnerability of microcircuits to EMP has steadily increased. The rule of thumb: the older the circuitry, the better. OBTW, as I'm writing this, I'm looking across my desk at my Zenith Trans-Oceanic multiband (AM/Shortwave) receiver that was built in 1957. It has all vacuum tubes--no transistors. So it is essentially invulnerable to EMP. This radio was just recently acquired for me at a garage sale by my friend Fred the Valmet-Meister. It was priced at just $20 because it had some paint splatters that ruined its collector's value. Look around and you might find some similar vacuum tube vintage radio bargains.

Your generator itself (the windings and the ignition system--assuming that it has traditional "points, rotor, and condenser" ignition) is not at risk, but its control and switching circuitry probably are at risk. Buy at least one spare set of control parts and store them in an ammo can or other similar "Farady cage." Putting your whole generator in a metal housing will not work unless you disconnect all external connections--including the power output cables. (Any long metal conductor acts as an 'antenna" for EMP.) So that is not practical on a day-to-day basis, but potentially viable if you get some warning about international tensions.

Finally, your comment about storing extra ignition systems is spot on! You will need both electronic ignition sets and electronic fuel injection controller sets. Try to find them cheap--perhaps from auto parts shops that go out of business. Concentrate on the most common types for pickup trucks and those ubiquitous minivans. Do some research on commonality between models/model years for each type of ignition set that you acquire, and photocopy that data. (So that they'll be no guesswork, post facto.) Just be sure to store all of the parts in ammo cans or metal tool boxes. An absolutely tight-fitting lid is not crucial. But if you aren't certain, wrap items in aluminum foil first, for extra protection.

You should certainly stock up to protect against a disaster, but meanwhile, here's a website which will teach you how to start "square-foot" gardening now, so you can take care of yourself and yours now and post-disaster, See:
Note: this method will also provide work/food for everybody/anybody you find under your wing. And the "work" part: a feeling of being a contributor may be as important as the food. I heard the man lecture and this Saturday I will attend a workshop on constructing and completing a square-foot garden--but clearly it's not rocket science. It is something everybody can start doing and thus feel they are participating in your preparation plans, even if they think that you are a bit of a fanatic.

BTW, I paid full price for the same book that he'll sell you for 1/2 the price on the web site (Grrrrr!) - B.B.

Dear Jim:
I am completely impressed with the level of data and analysis on your blog site! However, there is one subject I have yet to see discussed. When looking for a homestead/retreat have you evaluated a manufactured home versus a conventional\ stick and frame house? Around these parts lots of rural properties come with manufactured/mobile homes as part of the deal. What is your opinion as to the type of housing to be used for your homestead/retreat?

I also have a few questions concerning some answers to a previous e-mail:
1.) You had mentioned a CETME weapon. What exactly is it and can you tell me something about it?
2.) What kind of AR-10 do you recommend?
3.) You recommended purchasing hollow point .22 bullets. I have noticed a lot of soft point .22 are available. Are
these similar? Any advantage of hollow vs. soft points in .22?

As always thanx for your input.
B'shem Moshiach Yahshua, - Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR: Replies:

On Manufactured Homes Versus "Stick Built" Homes: If you aren't worried about ballistic protection, then a manufactured home (also called a mobile home) is probably a good choice. Most built these days have 2x6 stud walls and are very well insulated. If you are moving to an area where they are commonplace, then buying a manufactured home will help you to blend in. You certainly won't be looked at as a pretentious newcomer! The only serious downside is resale value--but that is hardly an issue for most survival retreats.

Regarding your firearms questions:
1.) The CETME is the Spanish-made predecessor of the HK-91--a semi-auto magazine-fed rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. A lot of CETME parts kits landed on American shores in the past few years, and most have been built-up with semi auto-only American made receivers. The result: a fairly reliable +/-$350 semi-auto .308 rifle that can utilize dirt cheap HK-91 alloy magazines. (See previous posts on this subject.) The CETME is a good choice as a primary rifle for someone that is on a very tight budget. (For example fixed-income retirees or starving college students.)
2.) I recommend the American Spirit brand AR-10, because it uses standard FN-FAL magazines, which are cheap and plentiful. Some of the AR-10s from other makers require expensive OEM magazines. In general, I prefer FALs/L1A1s or M1As over AR-10s, since AR-10s share one major design flaw with the AR-15: a gas system that blows powder fouling back into the action.
3.) The .22 LR hollow points are only marginally better for small game hunting than standard copper-washed soft points. (They only expand slightly better.) But, I predict that they'll be preferred for barter purposes, because most of your potential customer will be doing their shooting for the stew pot, and hollow points will be perceived as better for this purpose.

"Stand your ground.
Don't fire unless fired upon,
But if they mean to have a war,
Let it begin here!"
- Captain John Parker, Lexington Minute Company, April 19, 1775

Friday, September 16, 2005

Today, I'm covering New Mexico, the 11th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

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New Mexico:
Population: 1.8 million.
Population Density: 14.8 per square mile (Rank 15 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 121,593 square miles (rank 5 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $828/yr. (rank 14 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $450/yr. (rank 27 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 44 of 50.
Per capita income: $21,931 (rank 48 of 50).
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 87%.
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 30 of 50.
Plusses: Low population density. Minimal gun laws. People in New Mexico's rural areas are already highly self-sufficient, out of economic necessity.
Minuses: Proximity to Mexican border. Water is scarce in much of the state. (Many families haul all of their drinking water from town and store it in large cisterns. That would have dubious utility in a TEOTWAWKI-style collapse.) Economically, New Mexico is essentially like a Third World country within the U.S. The least well-educated population of any state. Expensive car insurance rates. Unfortunately the most mild climate zone in New Mexico (the southwest corner) is also very close to the Mexican border. Low wages. High crime rate. Note: Look for natural gas producing areas so that you can run your pickup on “drip” oil. (See my posts in the Archives on alternate fuels.) Some portions of the state with low population density are recommended.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 15 of 19.

After our recent Gush Katif removal of Jews because of their religion I have seen firsthand people who had to do a grid up bugout. I suggest having all 110/220 VAC gadgets in your pack at a minimum immersion boiler and battery charger these will take up a few grams and make your life easier by not wasting cooking fuel and lantern fuel, a lightweight extension cord may not be a bad idea either if room/weight permits. Sneaking into Gaza to protest (it felt freaky sneaking through Arab villages) reminded me of several important things which I hope to write about at length. But for starters: Have a decent heavy duty wire cutter for both concertina and cyclone fence. Only travel (if possible) with a trained group. Infrared cameras are mounted on drones for personnel detection, if you are in an unauthorized place have plans to defeat FLIR both cameras and airborne (an umbrella is pretty effective). The cellular system is operated totally at the whim of the powers that be not to mention acts of G-d destroying the infrastructure. The cellular system also allows you to be found within a few meters of your location every time your phone is powered up similar to GPS (AT&T in the USA allows you to access this function). Never assume that roads will be open even if it was open only hours ago! Be ready to have to get out and walk, or use a dirt bike. If a cash reward is offered and times are hard a person would be surprised that even hostile Arabs will call the army. Have a VERY detailed map of possible areas readable in red light and NVGs use map compass and GPS. A piece of aluminum foil with a pinhole behind your flashlight lens is good for reading a map, don't forget your light discipline including infrared lights.

Mr. Rawles,
I’m a huge fan of your work, and was pleasantly surprised to come across Survivalblog during the course of my cyber-travels. It has become my new source for survival info. I particularly enjoy your state-by-state retreat potential evaluations. As a lifelong resident of the east coast, and an eight year resident of Virginia, I’m kind of geographically anchored to this section of the country. My family’s here, too. Consequently, I’m rather limited in terms of my choice of retreat locations. I will be graduating from law school (God willing) in May 2006, and hope to do real estate settlement work, as it will give me some flexibility in terms of work locations. Plus, it will ensure that I am able to avoid engaging in the sort of lawyering that would conflict with my beliefs (my wife and I are fundamentalist Baptists). I’ve had my eye on West Virginia for awhile, as it seems to offer the greatest potential within this limited region. I would really appreciate your thoughts on the matter. - "Mo"

JWR's Reply:

As mentioned in previous posts, I don't consider anything east of the Mississippi River to be survivable if and when things get truly Schumeresque. (The East has too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.) Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details.

With the mobility that your new profession will afford you, I strongly suggest that you move out West. (Preferably the inland northwest.) With a lawyer's income you can afford to fly home frequently to visit relatives. But if you must stay in the east, move to a very lightly populated rural area and construct a very well stocked fallout shelter.

I am not familiar enough with West Virginia to make any specific locale recommendations. Perhaps someone who reads the blog who lives there will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

"Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought." - Henri Louis Bergson

Thursday, September 15, 2005

"If you can be seen, you can be hit. If you can be hit, you can be killed." - The First Law of the Modern Battlefield

Population: 2 million.
Population Density: 18 per square mile (Rank 13 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 110,561 square miles (rank 7 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $937/yr. (rank 7 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $479/yr. (rank 21 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 49 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 76%.
Per capita income: $29,506 (15 rank of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 25 of 50.
Comments: One editor listed in the acknowledgements stubbornly insists
that my ranking below is unfair to parts of Nevada. Nevada is really “a tale of two states”: Las Vegas and then all the rest. Las Vegas has the same urban problems as Los Angeles, which affects the insurance and crime numbers above. Las Vegas has a severe desert climate that is hostile to agriculture, and most residents are dependent on water from elsewhere. Las Vegas is not worth of consideration, and its influence on the state’s statistics conceals a very viable and potentially desirable relocation alternative in Northern Nevada.
Plusses: No income tax, relatively pro-gun ownership, except for Clark County's (Las Vegas) handgun registration laws. Northern Nevada, particularly Reno and the Carson Valley (which will be listed second tier relocation region in my subsequent posts) have mild summers not requiring air-conditioning, ample water from snow melt from the Sierra Nevada mountain range, widespread ranching and hay production, better schools than Las Vegas, and solidly conservative political demographics (except for inner Reno). Healthy economy with many companies relocating from California. Northern Nevada is considered an ideal off-the-grid solar power location, with plenty of sun during the moderately chilly winters.

Nevada is not recommended for a survivalist with a small to moderate budget. However, for someone who is wealthy and who can stand the climate, Nevada should be bumped up a notch or two. Taxes will be a big issue for you—and Nevada has no income tax. As someone “of means” you will be able to afford lots of food storage, voluminous fuel storage, and a large greenhouse to make up for the hot summers/cold winters climate of the Nevada high country. (See my posts in a week or two for specific recommendations within Nevada.)
Minuses: Expensive land in the more desirable areas with plentiful water. May suffer from the "Golden Horde" effect--a huge wave of refugees and looters pouring in from more populous California in in the event of an abrupt TEOTWAWKI. Water is scarce in Nevada, at least south and east of the Sierras.Also consider: extremely high crime rate (Las Vegas severely skews this statistic), minimal agriculture (except for some hay growing and ranching in the northern portions of the state), high sales tax, expensive car registration for newer cars (but a friend in Nevada reports that a 10-year-old vehicle that was originally purchased for $50,000 costs only $68 per year to register), exploding population growth (the fastest in the U.S. due primarily to Las Vegas), the lowest church attendance rate in the country (ranked 50 of 50 - the state is more libertarian than conservative), and heavy dependence on gambling for tax revenue. Has a low rating in “education freedom” (ranked #47 of 50). While Nevada's calculated per capita “tax burden” is 12% higher than the national average for all 50 states, much of this comes from tourist gambling revenues, so those non-gamblers in their prime earning years may still find Nevada to be a relatively low tax haven. Nevada has refreshingly lax incorporation laws. There is a risk that statewide political control could shift to the pro-tax liberals of Las Vegas (although the state Constitution requires a 2/3 majority to create an income tax). Some central and northern regions of the state with plentiful surface water are recommended—but with provisos.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 14 of 19 (Note: I’d probably rank it at 7 or 8 if it weren't for Las Vegas.)

Back in the 18th century, game wardens in Scotland were engaged in an occasionally deadly game of cat and mouse with poachers. These wardens--called "ghillies" in the local parlance of the day were experts in field craft. To catch a poacher was difficult, so the ghillies would cut tree or bush limbs and cover themselves with them as camouflage while in laying in wait. This was laborious, but worked well. Then a warden whose name is lost in history came up with a clever idea: A camouflage body suit that was made of shredded rags in dull earth-tone and foliage-toned colors. From a short distance, the man wearing it resembled a bush, and could not be easily recognized. Thus was born the Ghillie Suit. The first use of ghillie suits by military organizations recorded by historians was during WWI, when Scottish ghillies served with Lord Lovat's Scouts, brought their camouflage suits with them for the fighting in the fields of France. The ghillies in the Lovat Scouts shared their expertise in stalking, long range shooting, and camouflage, which spread to other British Commonwealth armies.

The modern ghillie suit, re-popularized in the late 20th century in the British and U.S. armies is now standard wear for sniper teams in most western armies. These modern ghillie suits use the same concept, providing four key attributes: they look like like plant foliage, they occupy three dimensions (unlike camouflage printed cloth), they break up a soldier's distinctive silhouette, and they muffle noise. There are two common designs:

A full ghillie suit, which is usually made by sewing ghillie garnish (typically strips/bundles of dyed burlap, jute, and/or hemp) to a set of green mechanic's overalls or to a BDU shirt and trousers

A ghillie cape, which is draped over the head and shoulders like a poncho.

(BTW, I prefer the latter, especially in hot climates.) Both designs are nearly always used in conjunction with a camouflage face veil and a boonie-type hat with similar ghillie garnish.

Ghillie suits and capes are commercially made, but these tend to be very expensive (since they are labor-intensive to assemble) and the choice of colors used will not always match your local terrain. Avoid the cheap commercial ghillie suits that are made out of plastic. They are indeed three dimensional but they do not blend in well in the boonies compared to natural materials like burlap and jute. Some commercial sources include:

And for our Australian readers, see:

Do It Yourself (DIY) ghillie suit/cape construction resources on the web include:

U.S. Army FM 23-10:

There are also fairly detailed ghillie suit making instructions in one for my favorite books, The Ultimate Sniper. See:

If you want to save money and assemble all of the materials yourself, rather than buy a commercially-made assembly kit:

Heavy duty black or brown nylon netting--such as deep sea fishing net material-- (the 1.5-inch square mesh works best) is often found for sale on eBay.

The folks at sell fairly inexpensive military surplus rolls of 1.5" wide burlap that is already dyed green and brown. Stripping out most of the horizontal crossbars (the Memsahib--who is a weaver--tells me this is properly called "weft") is time consuming, but it is necessary to make burlap frizz up into a proper three dimensional look.

Two more points, in closing: Don't overlook the need to integrate a hydration pack (such as a CamelBack or clone thereof) with a drinking tube when you build your ghillie suit. (This is not a big issue with a cape, but it is with a full ghillie suit.) It is also very important that you thoroughly soak your completed ghillie suit in flame retardant before using it. Without it, all of that frayed burlap is a fire accident that is just waiting to happen! In my experience the FlameCheck brand retardant (made in England) works well, because it does not leave a white residue like some other brands.

The Pentagon has drafted a considerably new strategy on nuclear strike options. See: This is some serious FFTAGFFR! From the standpoint of national security, it is probably a sound strategy, but in some instances (such as the emerging threat from North Korea), IMO it will raise the risk of a full scale nuclear exchange. Plan accordingly! (If you live in the blast radius or downwind from a potential nuclear target, then it is wise to move.)

Jim, I'm no expert but I have some limited knowledge regarding the topic of diesel engines and EMP. What you want is a diesel engine with a mechanical fuel injector pump, not an electronic one. Diesel engines don't require ignition systems to run, no spark plugs, distributor, etc. and the old ones used a mechanical fuel pump. All you need is a starter to turn the engine over, it runs or fires by the heat generated by the compression stroke. [JWR adds: A glow plug is also needed for the fuel to reach flash point at low ambient temperatures. Some of the newer diesels use an electronic glow plug control, which could possibly be bypassed if they are someday fried by EMP.] No ignition system, therefore impervious to EMP. Since the mid to late 80's manufacturer's have switched to electronic fuel pumps so even though you don't have spark plugs, etc., the engine has "electronics" for fuel regulation. Now you have EMP problems. Hope this helps. - T.N.

I read the letter you posted from "Mr. Lima" about what his friend "W" had told him. Other than knowing your blood type ahead of time, the rest of the letter is wrong. I'm not sure if "Lima" misunderstood "W." or if "W." only works in a lab on samples and machines and has never had any patient contact or he just mistook one substance for another after so many years in the lab. FWIW, the laboratories and blood banks in today's hospitals are two separate and different departments. Short and sweet: EDTA anticoagulated blood can (and mostly likely always will) kill a person. EDTA has never been used (at least not since the days of trying to infuse humans with cows blood) to anticoagulate donor blood and has never been available in "blood donor bags from the blood bank". EDTA bonds with calcium (irreversibly) and prevents clotting in blood sample tubes (vacutainers) and has seen some use in certain lab machinery. EDTA is a chemical compound and has other issues that could cause massive problems to a person aside from coagulopathy, it would alter a persons blood chemistry and I can only make educated guesses as to the outcomes since no data is available on EDTA entering a person's vascular system. EDTA bonds with calcium because it is a metal ion, which means any metal ions in the blood (and finally the body) could be bonded. All those 'guesses' would result in major systemic problems that would invariably lead to death, 99%+ could be assured in a SHTF situation and not much better even with access to modern medicine. Coumadin (a.k.a. Warfarin) is not an anticoagulant in the sense of preventing clotting when drawing blood. Warfarin drugs work by inhibiting certain functions of the body from producing different factors that make up the clotting cascade. This is why they are commonly referred to as 'blood thinners'. Obviously giving Coumadin to prevent immediate clotting won't work, because it doesn't deactivate the clotting cascade, it just prevents certain factors from being replaced once they expire normally in the body. It is unlike Heparin in that Heparin works immediately to interrupt the cascade rather than removing a factor or two. Getting blood bags with Citrate (CPDA-1 or ACD-A) from the blood bank is what a person would want and is also my personal choice. I keep some Heparin as well as a backup, but I wouldn't use it until I exhaust my supply of CPDA-1 bags. So, never give Coumadin in the field. If there is some sort of need to 'thin' a patient's blood (high blood pressure perhaps) then go on an aspirin regimen. Another bonus of Citrate as an anticoagulant is that once the blood is back into a person's body the calcium in there body replaces the bound calcium and you almost instantly viable platelets again! Thus you kill two birds with one stone. Fresh RBCs and more coagulation factors and platelets to stop the bleeding. It's really a beautiful thing. If you have any atheist friends, tell them to learn about blood. Just blood. Once they know it, I would be surprised if they can still deny that Divine intervention led to our existence. The complexity of how everything works just to form a clot a clot, let alone fix the clot is astounding. That is another topic however. In the future I would suggest getting some independent people to review some of the letters you put on the blog before you post them. I don't know where anyone would find EDTA easily other that breaking open those vacutainers and just the thought of that sends chills down my spine. EDTA is used in cases of lead poisoning, but it's is a sterilized and specific format. The patient's blood gases and values must be constantly monitored to ensure no harm comes to the patient. This is not the same thing as the EDTA powder in laboratory vacutainers! I would be more than happy to review the hematology aspects of those posts, however I like most medical professionals are like insects. We specialize and I have already forgotten a lot of that too :( I'm working on that as part of my preparations as well. I love the blog and keep it up!
P.S.: If you have free time (wishful thinking) drop by, we have a good group of Christian Patriots on the board.

JWR Replies: Thanks for setting us straight, Buckaroo! I will remove that erroneous post so that nobody mistakenly refers to it in the future.

I debated for four or five weeks about whether or not to write an email to you, as I know that you must receive too many already, and others probably offer information and mine only offers praise and thanks. I finally decided, that everyone could use encouragement and praise, so here goes…
I read your novel [Patriots] for the first time many years ago, several times since, and have worked it into my 5-6 book current reading stack. It was my first exposure to another way of viewing the world, and it alone, was responsible for opening my eyes and mind to a looming menace in our present “Koyaanisqatsi”. ["koy-yan-iss-katsi"--meaning "life out of balance" in the Hopi language.] I grew up on a farm in Kansas and have been living my adult yuppie life in Kalifornia for twenty plus years now. I have returned mentally, to my agrarian roots and self sufficiency that my grandparents taught me when I was a child on the farm and am PREPARING. I am currently making plans to leave our suburban existence and move my family to a rural farm setting. My wife and I are both readying for the transition. I found your blog soon after you started it by re-visiting bookmarks in by browser folder, titled “TEOTWAWKI”, that I created when I read your book the first time and what a great resource!
I hope to have information in the future to share with you and the readers of your blog as another silent member of your blogosphere whose life you have touched by your creativity, willingness, and drive to share what you imagine and see. In short, Thanks, God Bless, and keep up the good work. - C.J., Southern California

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Today, I'm covering Nebraska, the ninth of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 1.7 million.
Population Density: 21.9 per square mile (Rank 12 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 77,355 square miles (rank 15 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $649/yr. (rank 42 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $499/yr. (rank 18 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 12 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 64%.
Per capita income: $27,630 (rank 26 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 5 of 50.
Plusses: Low crime rate.
Minuses: Tornado prone (ranked #4 out of top 20 States). Few local firewood sources.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 11 of 19.

Proviso: The following is for informational purposes only. Do not modify radios as described unless it is a dire emergency. (FCC regulations do not permit out of band transmissions except under emergency situations.)

One aspect of preparedness that is often overlooked is secure radio communications. As I've mentioned in some of my previous blog posts, buying a pair of VHF Marine Band radios makes sense if you live in an area that is both inland from the coast and away from the Great Lakes. You will essentially have a band all to yourself. Another approach to increasing communications security is modifying CB radios to transmit just above or just below the designated Citizen's Band.(The so-called "Freeband".) Although your transmissions will still be vulnerable to interception with any scanner, they will not be noticed by anyone that has a standard (unmodified) CB radio. Freeband modification was very popular in the U.S. back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Citizen's Band was very crowded. It also had some popularity in Australia.

The earliest CB radios used crystals. In those days you could order specially cut "bastard" crystals to give your the ability to transmit out of band. But very few of those radios are still on the market. Then along came the early synthesized CBs. These could be modified for freeband by clipping wires or soldering-in a few jumpers. (Some modifications were very clever. In one instance a panel light switch became a freeband toggle so that the freeband modification was un-noticeable to the casual observer.) The latest production CBs are also synthesized, but have virtually all of their frequency-setting electronics burned onto a chip. So those are not easily modified for freeband.

Many of the early synthesized CBs from the 1970s/1980s "golden age" of CB radio are suitable for out of band modification. One of the most popular of these is the Cobra 148GTL. (BTW, lots of other Courier, Galaxy, GE, Midland, Realistic (Radio Shack), Uniden, and President brand CBs from the same era can be similarly modified.) There is a lot of information on the WWW if you look around. Books like the CB Hacker's Guide also describe these mods in detail. You will occasionally find a CB that has already been modified up for sale on eBay. But to be sure that a freeband mod is done right, your best bet is to find a standard Cobra 148GTL (or similar) with "low hours" and do the modification yourself.

In closing, I need this admonition: Do not be tempted to install a linear amplifier for illegal transmission in excess of five watts. That would be like waving a red flag to the FCC. Remember: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down."

Here are links to two interesting articles that were recently posted by Debra over at Claire Wolfe's Blog: One is titled: "Five Nights Alone in the Dark with a Shotgun". The other article is about a Super Neighborhood Watch in New Orleans. (What I like to call a "Neighborhood Watch on Steroids.")

Hi Jim,
On Survival battery on a budget: It doesn't really matter what you have as long as it is of good quality and you know how to use it. For instance, an M1 Garand is certainly a viable rifle, especially in areas where others may not be legal, but it may not be the best rifle for me. For others it might be the best choice over anything else. The key reason is training. My father (drafted for the Korean War in the 50's) would be much better off with an M1 Garand than a FAL. Why? Because he knows it inside and out. The same goes for many folks that have military experience. If I were to choose a 5.56mm, it would be an AR-15 platform, not because it's the best rifle ever made, but because after ten years in the Army it's an extension of myself. Training and experience is the key. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you're better off buying a cheaper gun and spending money on training, than buying an expensive gun and shooting it from the bench once or twice a year. Gizmos, gadgets, and dollars do not make up for skill. Only skill matters. Get professional training from one of the many instructors that teach carbine or rifle classes. Which brings me to J.B.'s question on night vision, etc. Training is again the key. It doesn't matter if you have NVG's if you can't use them effectively. It takes training, and a lot of it to really use the potential of night vision systems. Don't fall into the expensive trap of buying a night scope and thinking you "own the night." The scope is just a tool. You have to know how to use the tool effectively. Now night is just another environment. Since it can be half the day or longer farther north, it's pretty important to know how to operate at night. Again, training is the key. The only way to get good at night is to train at it. You won't make up for lack of training, by buying gadgets. Training at night will put you ahead of those that don't when you're in that environment. Too many people get hooked on the gear and ignore training. Your brain is your primary survival tool. - "Doug Carlton"

Mr. Rawles,
I see that when evaluating retreat locations you consider the state's gun laws. It appears that the more favorable the gun laws, the better the state as a potential retreat. Your site seems concerned primarily with the "SHTF" or "TEOTWAWKI" scenarios. Should either of these come to pass, I don't see where gun laws would matter one way or the other. Who's going to enforce them? Regards, - J.G.

JWR Replies:
I strongly disagree. You still have to live and to train/practice with firearms somewhere in the interim. Why subject yourself to living under bad laws? And what if things deteriorate in a "slow slide" scenario a la the U.S. in the 1930s, or Zimbabwe in the present day? Think about it: In both cases--still a viable government to contend with. So gun laws do matter. If you live in a state that isn't gun friendly, then I strongly recommend that you vote with your feet! Refer to my previous posts and Boston's Gun Bible for details on the various state gun laws.

See the following string of discussion at:

JWR Replies: Some FFTAGFFR to consider here!

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice Doggie!' while you are looking for a rock." - Will Rogers

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today, I'm covering Montana, the eighth of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 903,000.
Population Density: 6.1 per square mile (Rank 18 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 147,000 square miles (rank 4 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $671/yr. (rank 38 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $451/yr. (rank 26 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 10 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 92%.
Per capita income: $22,518 (rank 46 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 8 of 50.
Montana Agriculture reference:
Montana Crops: Potatoes, sugar beats, sorghum, alfalfa, grass hay, and grains.
Plusses: Very low crime rate! Very low population density. Minimal gun laws. Good schools. A very non-intrusive government. (For example, in the 1990s there were a few years with no daylight speed limit on most of Montana’s highways outside of city limits.) Low car insurance rates.
Minuses: Very cold winters, especially east of the Great Divide, and a short growing season. (The number of frost free days range from 139 days in Glendive to just 39 days in Ovando!) Insufficient crop diversity. Low wages. Montana's missile fields are still in the Russian target structure.
Lower elevation areas west of the Great Divide (and upwind of the missile fields) are recommended.
Note: I probably should have given Montana a lower ranking, due to its cold climate and short growing season. However, because of Montana’s favorable gun laws, low crime rate, and light population density, I bumped it up the list.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 2 of 19.

A Recent Relocatee to Montana Adds The Following:
Jim: I am not a religious nut when I tell you the Holy Spirit impressed my entire family we were all to leave where we lived and head to Montana. So I started visiting
the real estate web sites searching for homes that might fit our particular requirements. We arrived with a list of 46 homes in a binder sorted by area/city etc. After
spending seven days working out of the Flathead Lake / Kalispell area and looking at 28 homes we were discouraged. We looked at properties up to $450,000. Price was not the issue. The issue was being at peace with our purchase. After seven days my son in law called to say we should go up to Eureka and look at the houses we had printed out for that area. So I called a realtor's agent and gave her a list of eighteen properties with the liberty to weed out those that she thought would not fit. We looked at eight properties and one twice.
All of the properties appeared to belong to Christians of one flavor or another. Some we met just outright stated they were believers. After leaving the realtor we discussed the merits of one property some more. It had all the things we require: five bedrooms, two for offices, 2 plus acres, multiple bug out routes, two tillable acres, about two feet of snow per year, plenty of wood nearby, a lake filled with ducks and geese. Plus we have plenty deer, elk, bears, game birds, chickens in the spring, and more available land in the general area. The growing season is 158 days. The land is sub irrigated and we have a deep thirty gallon per minute well. Water is just seven feet down. After several hours of contemplation, some prayer the Holy Spirit simply said you will be safe here. After purchasing we learned the seller failed to disclose the presence of a questionable unrecorded easement and spring. These undisclosed issues will work themselves out in time. We are about 20 miles from the Canadian Border. I am an American, so I will stay here regardless of what happens. This is a very nice home, but it may just prove to be our base camp while establishing something more remote. In the coming times of confusion, I believe that boldness, good planning, stealth and mobility will be key to retaking our nation. The wind currents are favorable to protect us from most fallout. We are situated on the edge of a valley between two mountains. I can close the roads with chain saws and some old vehicles stored nearby without trouble. The hillside provides three good LP/OP positions with places for many spider holes. Bug out into the National Forest is behind the home or down the road. The plus side of living here is that most of the people profess to be Believers without ever asking them. There are the drug pushers and users in the high school and we will gather their names for future reference. Everybody works hard at whatever they do. The down side of moving to a non-affluent area is that the people do not have the wherewithal to prepare for what is coming. Some are on welfare. So if they do not leave they will eventually become part of the problem. The only thing I will be able to help them with is seed and prayer. Unless we get a windfall my family of twelve is all I can prepare for.
I am 64 years old and splitting six cords of wood. We have sufficient food to carry us for a good while plus seed, game, and fish. We will be putting in a garden and canning vegetables and storing, smoked meats (am building a smoke house in the spring). We are putting up enough fuel to last us for at least two years. My priorities are water, food and seeds, fuel, fire heat, natural medicine, clothing, shoes, trade goods, tools, trade coins etc. We have sufficient weapons and supplies. Our choice of weapons are .45 ACP, .22, .223, .308, plus other hunting calibers. We would like to see things remain stable for two more years so I can pay this place off, but can get by if things crash ten minutes from now. All of us need to remember if we have a real financial crash as the result of any disaster, all of us will be in the same boat. This includes the bankers as well. The crash will be worldwide. We who survive the crash, food riots, anarchy, civil war and the attack on America that follows can purchase property for reasonable prices with real money. My home insurance is about $1,000 per year but my rural auto insurance just went down. License plates for vehicles twelve years and older are a onetime $76. Food costs are not too bad yet. We make a weekly trip to the larger stores in Kalispell to buy in bulk. We are filling our fuel tanks quietly. I recently learned that before 911 there were sixteen Border Patrol in the area. Now there are about seventy. They appear to have police powers twenty five miles south of the Canadian border and they act like we Americas were the enemy. Something to remember when you move close to the Canadian border.
Lord bless you and your family with happiness and joy. - M. in Montana.

Jim, just to let you know, for anyone on a budget like me, the surplus G3/HK-91 magazines for sale by Tapco function very nicely in my CETME. No hangups or malfunctions. I bought 100 of these and some require a little cleaning, but at $1.99 each they are a good bargain. With all the recent news of gun confiscation in New Orleans this may be just the "crisis" the feds are looking for to 'slow down' or stop entirely surplus gear. I suggest everyone buy 'in quantity' any firearms supplies of this nature.

JWR Replies: In case Tapco has sold out, the same alloy G3 magazines are also sold by Cheaper Than Dirt. At that price, everyone with an HK-91 or CETME should buy at least 50 of them. OBTW, one important proviso: G3/HK-91 magazines fit and function in most CETMES, but not vice versa!

I am Mr. Sierra, and yes I bought a SurvivalBlog T-Shirt... as well as survival Freeze Dried Foods and Water Barrels and following the advice of the Blog have done that. I do have a surplus Military Winter Sleeping Bag with a Gore-tex cover. Carrying my snubbie around as a concealed carry firearm while returning a video to store etc, is
comforting, concealable, and better than my pointed index finger in my jeans pocket. ;-)

One thing I read on the Blog today was about Stress Reduction [David in Israel's article, posted on 12 Sept. '05] which I found very helpful. On the one hand, by buying the SurvivalBlog T-shirt with Robert A. Heinlein quote of what a human being should be able to do...and I thought, one of those things, if one has a faith in the great beyond, heaven that we are all going to meet our maker someday. No matter how much we have in stock to prepare for the worst or whatever, being obsessively survival minded stresses out the spiritual sensitiveness and has the tendencies to keep us thinking we are only a human piece of meat and nothing more that needs to survive. That produces stress, and keeps are mental focus on just the physical. We are more than physical bodies and matter right? I desire to keep a balance of being able, like Heinlein, to weed a garden, program a computer, change a diaper, and shoot nine holes in a pie plate at 100 yards with my M1A, and meditate and connect with that greater source of myself to be calm and peaceful, with a clear mind and able soul. Survival and preparedness is a important factor, and we should be able to work thru most any emergency that threatens our lives, homes, and families...while connecting to that spiritual source within us that can transcend the negative evil in this world, and give us peace and happiness and thankfulness for having what we got. Great Blog! - Mr. Sierra

Leathermans are great, but I also have two different ones from Sears Craftsman. My favorite one has its main tool as lineman's pliers that are slip joints, replaceable screwdriver tips, and very functional wood saw (which I think is important). Their other one that I like is a vise grip style needle nose. I bought these about 3 years ago and either they stopped selling them in the People's Republic of New York or they discontinued them all together. I wanted to buy an extra of each. BTW--your book is great, as is your website, I bought it from Fred’s M14 Stocks as well as a few copies for friends--that love it also. Will you be writing another one? - D.F

JWR Replies: All of the major U.S. made brands (like Gerber, Leatherman, and Craftsman) each have their strong points. Personally, I like the Leatherman, but some folks swear that the pliers on the Gerber Multi-Plier tools are superior. To each his own... But regardless, be sure that you get an American-made tool, since the ones made in mainland China are flimsy junk, and are made with lao gai system slave labor!

Yes, I have more book in the works. The first will be a book titled Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.That should be available for ordering in early Aught Six.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I post as "Preacherman", one of the moderators on The High Road (, a forum for firearms enthusiasts and the Second Amendment. I wanted to draw your attention to two threads I posted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, containing "lessons learned" on the ground (I live in Louisiana). There have been many member responses, often including good points and valuable information. The threads may be found at:
There are a number of other threads in our Strategies & Tactics forum dealing with lessons learned after Katrina, particularly bug-out and survival needs. I hope you'll find them of interest. Thank you for your interesting and informative Blog. I'll be a regular reader! God Bless - Reverend. P., Louisiana

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have followed your writings and bought your book Patriots which I have read several times. Now I am enjoying reading your blog everyday and all the profiles and exploring your links. You have lots of great ideas and have obviously spent a lot on equipment and supplies. Not everyone has many thousands of dollars every year to put into preparations, so I am wondering if you could say something about a low-cost strategy.

For example, a no-holds barred firearms battery may include (in various quantities):
* FAL .308 ( most are $1,000 - $1,500) plus 20 or more magazines, plus spare springs, extractor, firing pin, ejector, etc., plus 1,000+ rounds of ammo
* .308 bolt action such as Rem M700, plus a few extra magazine, spare parts, scope, and another 500+ rounds of .308 ammo
* 12 ga. pump shotgun such as Rem 870 Police 7-shot (about $400), plus spare parts, and 500+ slugs and shotshells
* 1911 .45 ACP (about $600), plus 10+ magazines, spare springs, extractor, firing pin, ejector, and 1,000+ rounds of ammo

On the other hand, a lower cost version might be:
* .308 bolt and scope such as a Savage 110 for less than $500, plus spare parts and 1,000 rounds of ammo
* 12 ga. "Plain Jane" Mossberg or Remington pump or double barrel coach gun (such as Stoeger) for about $250, spare parts and 500 shotshells; or even a lever action carbine such as a Winchester or Marlin in a pistol caliber (.357, .44, .45 LC)
* .357 Ruger GP100 plus 1,000 rounds of ammo, or perhaps a Hi Power clone such as from FEG, or even a Makarov (under $300)

Practically every defensive situation I can think of except all out war seems as though it could be handled primarily by the shotgun with slugs or buckshot, with a handgun for “always there” carry, and the scoped rifle for hunting and defensive beyond 50 yards. Magazines can be a huge expense so eliminating as many of those as possible would keep costs down.

Another example: I like the idea of “owning the night” in a chaotic situation. But what can those of us who cannot afford many thousands of dollars for multiple sets of night vision goggles do that would give us an advantage without all the technology?

Anyway, I would appreciate reading your thoughts along these lines. Especially if you could include the “ideal” and the “low cost alternative” for each factor you discuss in the future. Many thanks for your inspiration and ideas. You have taken a bold step to sound the warning and help others. Sincerely, - J.B.

JWR Replies:

Yes, budgets do vary. But prioritizing is the key. What is more important? That big screen HDTV or jet ski in the garage, or the lives of your wife and children? TANSTAAFL.

Your "lower cost version" battery would definitely do in pinch. As I often say, it is the man or woman behind the rifle that determines its effectiveness. In the right hands a $150 sporterized WWI vintage bolt-action Springfield or Mauser rifle is much more to be feared than a $3,000 Steyr AUG or SIG-AMT.

Regarding Handguns: You mentioned FEG Hi-Power clones and Makarovs. But for about the same amount of money you could buy a used military surplus Argentine M1911 clone (M1927 "Systema Colts".) Do consider that .45 ACP is much superior to 9mm Parabellum or 9mm Makarov for stopping two legged predators!

Regarding Night Vision Gear: If you are on a very tight budget, think in terms of tanglefoot wire, concertina wire (sometimes available at scrap metal prices at U.S. Army DRMO auctions) and trip flares to give you an advantage in defending your retreat at night.

Regarding Magazines: I am of the firm opinion that six magazines per weapon is a bare minimum. If you can't afford that, then perhaps you need to consider a less expensive rifle.As I pointed out in previous posts, some rifles such as Valmet .308s, Steyr AUGs, and AR-10s (from some makers) are essentially limited to accepting only very expensive OEM magazines. One reason that I like FALs and L1A1s is that the magazines can usually be found for $6 to $8 at gun shows. HK-91/CETME magazines are even less expensive than that! (See the letter on this subject in today's blog entries.)

Regarding Lever Action Rifles/Carbines Chambered in Pistol Calibers: I do not recommend these, except perhaps as secondary small game hunting/marksmanship training guns. IMHO, they are underpowered for stopping both deer-class wild game and men. The advantage of having both a handgun and a long gun chambered in the same cartridge is far outweighed by the disadvantage of having an under-powered long gun! If you want a lever gun, I recommend that you make it a .30-30 or .45-70!

Mr. Rawles,
I thought you might be interested in this article from the LA Times today:,0,5207254.story?coll=la-home-business

With $3.25 per gallon diesel,we now have “fuel rustlers” stealing from ranchers. In your writings you always point out that our fuel storage tanks should be underground and the pumps disguised. Sound advice!

Jim, after checking out the articles on the best transportation during EMP, I'm a little confused. I read, but may not have
understood, that the older pickups (1988) with diesel engines were best. Also that 1994 and older were best, and that
the newer trucks are protected today. Can someone help since I am looking for a diesel pickup? - G.C.

JWR Replies: Frankly, I'm also a bit befuddled by the conflicting data. Perhaps some kind soul out there that has more knowledge on the subject than I do can clarify exactly which makes/vintages of diesel engines are EMP resistant, and which are not. (I have never owned a diesel, since the exhaust fumes give the Memsahib headaches. So I've never studied this subject in detail.)

"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest possible limits. ... and [when] the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, [then] liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction." - St. George Tucker, Judge of the Virginia Supreme Court 1803

Monday, September 12, 2005

Today, I'm covering Louisiana, the seventh of 19 states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential. Note that I wrote the following a year ago--long before Hurricane Katrina arrived. I certainly was right when I warned "Coastal Louisiana and +/- 50 miles inland is in the hurricane zone"--but I didn't need to be any sort of sage with arcane knowledge to figure that out...

Population: 4.5 million.
Population Density: 94.2 per square mile (Rank 2 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 47,751 square miles (rank 8 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $928/yr. (rank 30 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $721/yr. (rank 2 of 50)
Crime Safety Ranking: 50 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 94%.
Per capita income: $23,090 (rank 45 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 34 of 50.
Plusses: Mild climate. Low property taxes. Firearms freedom.
Minuses: Coastal Louisiana and +/- 50 miles inland is in the hurricane zone.
Very high population density (by western U.S. standards.) Louisiana has the lowest crime safety ranking the U.S.! (New Orleans is ranked one of the least safe cities in the country: It is ranked #13 in the “Top 20 Most Dangerous Metropolitan Areas.) The second least well-educated population of any state--ranked 49 of 50. Very high car insurance rates. Extremely high home insurance rates. (Average of $721 per year. Ranks #2 in the country!) In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, folks in some rural areas may see non-Cajuns as expendable “outsiders.” High humidity (over 60% in the southern half of the state.) Low wages.
Some northern portions of the state are recommended, with strong reservations.
Note: I probably should have given Louisiana higher ranking, due to its favorable gun and tax laws and favorable climate--at least in the northern half of the state. However, its extremely high crime rate and high insurance costs pushed it far down the list.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 18 of 19.

If you want to see a full scale "slow slide" economic collapse in action--one that rivals the severity of what I portrayed in my novel Patriots--then just look at modern day Zimbabwe. Comrade Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies have absolutely ruined a once prosperous nation. Please take the time to read the August and September letters archives at the Cathy Buckles web site. IMHO, Zimbabwe needs our prayers, and a vigorous counter-revolution!

In my days as EMS system director I had to do quite a bit of psych and stress management on my firefighters and medics. We were living the survivalist lifestyle where every day was TEOTWAWKI for the people we responded to when we were on shift. Humans and animals share a common bond deep in our nervous system. Deep below out intellect and ego we
have two basic modes fight/flight or rest/digest. We live our whole life sliding in between these two areas. When you feel stress form being shot at by terrorists or worrying about your credit card bill the same processes take affect the sympathetic nervous tone increases adrenaline release increases, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates all rise, pupils dilate blood flows from the digestive organs and rush to the skeletal muscles and brain. Long term living in stress causes a weakened immune system, lack of proper rest, chronic cardiac issues, digestive problems, and increased fat retention or loss. While I have had to deal with crew members who suffered from the opposite of the fight/flight symptoms it was often due to emotional stresses which lead to a chemical/neurological condition known as depression this is in my opinion the most likely problem on this end of the scale. Throwing away all feelings of bravado and coach inspired speeches depression becomes a real medical issue which the patient cannot just "snap out of" in stressful situations. Patients can endanger their teams safety by having lack of mental clarity, disregard for personal or team safety, and sometimes suicidal intentions. There are times when a person may swing between the two extremes of high and low this is known as bi-polar. The patient may seek stressful or dangerous situations and these "adrenaline junkies" if lacking basic responsibility can endanger their team.

Stress and associated adrenaline release is not caused strictly by an immediate threat in humans but can be caused by fear or dwelling on perceived future threats. One of the most powerful chronic stressors is the worry of things that the stressed person feels they have no control over. In some survival situations the loss of radio, Internet, cellular, and normal social networks is a sudden shock. Since you have no idea what is happening away from your direct area of observation the stress can be quite acute. Hindsight 20/20 will also be cause for a stress, replaying a personal failure during an incident or just the priceless item you forgot that only cost a few dollars can cause sleepless nights, you cannot relive the past, analyze for learning purposes and then drop it. In many people stress and the associated symptoms can be mediated with a proper diet including green vegetables and fiber as well as a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic rate exercise daily.

The ideal candidate for stress resistance. Studies show that people who have the following traits will be more resistant to stress disorders and depression following traumatic events. Having a functional relationship with a loving spouse and family is very important. A religious faith which recognizes the creator as having ultimate control for the best of his creatures gives meaning to the temporary suffering we may feel or see. Sense for mission and a clear purpose motivates a team even if they are not sure of all the details for tactical reasons. A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Get a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic level exercise (that means hard enough you can't sing but easy enough that you can talk), a proper diet including green vegetables and fiber avoidance of relying on refined sugar and starch, saturated or animal fats, and processed foods to meet your energy and nutritional needs. Junk food is bad for you and will make surviving harder. Proper amounts sleep and exposure to bright light during the day keep your somatic system in check.
Kol Tov, David

I noticed that you asked for some input on knives. Well, I just wanted to tell you that I have been using a Leatherman Wave tool since they came out...what, six years or so?....And the last year it has been used everyday on my job as a Handyman. I just don't know what I would do without it. It is a fine tool and knife, that will stand up to some hard use. Though I have always tried to use it within reason, and not abuse it to much (the day I tried to make it work as a small hammer, maybe was a bit over the top) it really seems to stand up to a lot of hard use. BTW, I now own two Waves and one of the new Ti Charge models, which comes with all the changeable bits. IMHO in a SHTF type situation, they will be worth their weight in gold. Now I do not care for Tim Leatherman's politics, (he endorsed Kerry) but he does make a fine product. - Gung Ho

This link is to a newspaper story from Johnson County, Iowa, regarding a huge pack of feral dogs that is terrorizing a small town, West Liberty, about 15 miles southeast of us. Iowa City, the "capitol" of Johnson County is an extremely anti-gun, liberal town and this is an interesting battle about wild dogs, self protection, property rights etc. Thank you for everything that you write and promote.See:

It has occurred to me that someone staying in a zone where authorities are going to harass gun toting survivors ought to consider having at least one or more covert sidearms. If a survivor has to step out in a no-gun carrying zone,they can still be armed. I currently own one J frame Model 36 Chief's Special and may well seek out another. This might possibly be one of those new Scandium 357 snubbies. A couple of five-shot snubs hidden in matching pocket holsters are better than a full-size service pistol that cops will hassle you over. It seems to be an acceptable alternative for someone who has to step out from their home to collect food or make repairs. They would be good enough to fight ones way back to the serious guns secured at home. - L.K.

JWR Replies: I concur that there is a need for compact/concealable handguns for some circumstances. Since my primary handguns are .45 ACPs, I personally prefer the AMT Backup .45 ACP. (A very compact .45 ACP automatic pistol, with a 5 round magazine.) It is a lot of gun in a small package. It is no larger than many .380 ACPs yet is chambered in a fairly potent caliber. Its sights (actually just a "sight rail" inlet) are marginal but the gun was hardly designed for long range shooting, anyway.

If you are going to opt for a snubbie revolver, make it a .357 Magnum. (Since .38 Special snubbie is a marginal stopper, at best .) But do keep in mind that a .357 magnum with a 1.5" barrel generates a muzzle velocity that is roughly comparable only to a .38 Special with a 6" barrel! "Sound and Fury..."

"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods." - H.L. Mencken

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Thanks to the graphics talent of my #1 Son (age 13 and home schooled, naturlich), you can now order SurvivalBlog logo T-shirts, sweat shirts, hats, mugs, tote bags, and bumper stickers. This serves two purposes: Showing our URL will help spread the word about preparedness, and it generates a little cash to pay for the site bandwidth. Wearing a SurvivalBlog T-shirt is a great conversation starter and is the height of fashion at the range, at gun shows, or anywhere on the Gulf Coast! Tacking up a SurvivalBlog bumper sticker in your cubicle is sure to make your liberal co-workers squirm. (And it just might attract like-minded co-workers that you never knew existed.)

Today, I'm covering Kansas, the sixth of 19 states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 2.6 million.
Population Density: 31.7 per square mile (Rank 10 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 82,000 square miles (rank 14 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $688/yr. (rank 36 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $593/yr. (rank 8 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 23 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 68%.
Per capita income: $27,374 (rank 27 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 4 of 50.
Minuses: Little crop diversity. Few local firewood sources. Tornado prone (ranked #2 out of top 20 States). High car insurance rates. High home insurance rates. The flat terrain is difficult to defend. (Because there are too many avenues of approach.)
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 12 of 19.


A "Must Read" Piece on Gun Confiscation in New Orleans (SA: Disaster Preparedness, Gun Control)

Don't miss David Kopel's editorial "Defenseless on the Bayou" --about how the Mayor of New Orleans, has grossly exceeded legal authority by ordering both forced evacuations and gun confiscation for the few remaining residents of the city. Can you spell lawsuit, boys and girls?

In the area of knives: I carry a Swiss Army Knife with me at all times, along with a Gerber Multi-tool. When I go into the field (Hunting, camping, whatever) I carry a fixed blade knife from Anza Knives. I've owned a lot of knives and used even more and I have sold every sheath-knife I owned and bought Anza's. These things are sharp as razors, tough as nails, and as easy to sharpen as any knife I've ever had, and at $60 or less for each of them they are on of the best bargains I've ever run across as well. The one problem I have with them is the high-carbon steel starts to rust if it rains on television. I'm getting DuraCoat ( ) applied to all of them shortly which will cure this problem, and I've talked to the owner of Anza and he is considering providing it as an option. DuraCoat is my second choice for refinishing as I prefer hard black Chrome, but the Anza knives have wooden handles which are stuck on with a space-age glue that simply cannot be removed, the DuraCoat can be applied over the metal and the wood and needs no heat curing.
Keep up the good work and I'll keep reading. - W.

JWR's Reply: I have heard good things about Anza knives from other sources. I appreciate hearing recommendations about other brands of both fixed blade and folding knives from SurvivalBlog readers who have first hand field carry experience. OBTW, be sure to bead blast or otherwise remove all of the oxidation before you apply a finish. Most people don't realize that rust can continue to do damage underneath a protective finish!

Mr. Rawles, do you have a list of gear that we should all have say on our persons or in our cars at all times? I finished your book, and more recently Boston [T. Party]'s Molon Labe and with what is happing down South, I need to prepare.

JWR's Reply: I think a workable baseline is the list that is recounted in my novel Patriots, where the Doug Carlton character appears for the first time, and he is searched. I encourage readers of this blog to e-mail me their suggested G.O.O.D. Kit / Bug Out Bag (B.O.B.) packing lists. I think that by working together, we can come up with a combined list that is far more comprehensive than one that is based on just my individual experience. Engage synergy mode, folks! OBTW, the letter below has a link that is another good point of departure.

The suggestions (for example, a car emergency bag) in this list prepared by the emergency preparedness people on the Puget Sound peninsula
See: ...will be helpful for any number of minor setbacks that can occur anytime without producing TEOTWAWKI. - B.B.

Here is a hot topic. I'm not sure how a person is to post it on the blog with the liability issues. (Please don't mention my name)

Disclaimer: The following is for veterinary use only.
See: This company had the best prices I have found for antibiotics, the last time that I checked. These are the most useful for human use. They don't sell the really expensive cipros or i.v. antibiotics to mere mortals like us.

During the three years before we moved we were on a microscopic budget and without insurance. Using veterinary antibiotics saved my wife three times: once from a kidney infection and twice from bladder infections. The Merck Manual has all the info you need for dose, etc.
OBTW, I seem to remember you mention the fish medications in your novel [Patriots]. - U.G.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I'm a CA resident and a CA high school history teacher, and just read your retreat observations regarding my state. My experience with out-of-state critics of CA is that they often exaggerate wildly about conditions here as well as frequently blame voters here for the conditions we have (I've
voted against all aspects of the present socialist nightmare but look what we have). In your case, however, I can honestly say that your analysis and summary are 100% accurate and spot-on. I regret only that your summary isn't printed in the Op-Ed section of the Los Angeles Times and circulated.

FWIW, I am looking for a teaching job elsewhere so I can get the heck out [of California] before TSHTF. When it happens here, it will make Katrina's aftermath look like a kindergarten dance.

Take care and keep up the great work, - S.

Mr. Rawles,
I love your site. It is the first thing that I read in the morning now. I just wanted to point out Alameda County [California] sales tax is now 8.75%, the highest in the state except for Catalina Island! I drive to Monterey (the nearest county with the state minimum 7.25% sales tax) for any decent sized purchase, except autos because the DMV charges you by the county of residence. BTW, the county listed on the registration determines your insurance and whether or not you need a smog inspection. (yes some counties don't require smog tests or not as stringent tests) if you have property or a friend with an address you can use. Modoc County car insurance will be much cheaper than Alameda County, I guarantee you.
Since the hurricane, I have doubled my efforts and consolidated down my BOB, working on one for my wife's car. I picked up three times the amount of canned goods this last weekend at our regular shopping trip (stuff we actually eat on a regular basis). I sold a few more of my excess firearms, put the funds towards supplies and hard money investments (no debts except mortgage) one benefit of CA gun laws is that no 'out of production' guns can legally be brought into the state for sale This includes vintage Smiths and Colts and even recent stuff like Colt Delta Elites. So the price of these in the People's Republic of Kalifornia (PRK) is way out of whack compared to the rest of the country, as seen by prices on the firearm auction sites. I sold a few old S&Ws that I was into for $200 and $300 for $650 and $750.. just because you can't 'legally' get them here! After I move to free America, I can repurchase at lower prices if I want. Acreage properties in Modoc, Plumas and Trinity or Sierra counties up in extreme northern CA as you suggest are way too expensive (relative to acreage on the Oregon or Nevada side of the line) now. There is little to NO industry or jobs up there and logging is being legislated out of existence. Unless you have money or have a home-based job that you can do from your computer, good luck up there. Possibly as a retreat location but you are still sometimes 4-8 hours drive to some of those places on Friday night from the [San Francisco] Bay area. Double or triple that time in Katrina like escape traffic on I-5 or I-80. Though fishing and hunting up there is second to none!
BTW some of your profiles are awesome. If I had even 1/100 of Bill Gates' budget mine would be even better. - T.L.

You sure hit the nail on the head when you wrote about California, and the northern counties of Humboldt and Trinity. Life IS different up here, but you still have to contend with the lunatics down south, and the stupid laws they make. (Not to mention that some parts of Humboldt (Arcata) are just full of "hippy" types....Yes, there are many left, and this is where they pooled.) Many people up here just do not seem to understand that they ARE subject to these laws. I have been told not to worry so much about certain things, because even the cops (up here), just don't care. But the bottom line is the fact that this creates a huge "if they want ya, they got ya" type situation. Now most people already live with this to some extent, but it is FAR worse out here. Then there is the fact that the people that were born and raised out here, if they are under 30, just have no idea what it's like to live in a semi free state. Some just cannot believe it when I tell them what is still legal in a state like Florida or Wyoming. It is very sad. This is a beautiful part of the country, with a great climate...but I know I will not be able to stand it long. - Gung-Ho

Reading your blog for 9-10-05, I was reminded of what I read in your book Patriots a few months back about transfusions. In Patriots blood is drawn off into a sterile bag with no mention of anticoagulation. There is a huge risk here IMO. I am a director with a major university hospital . Here are some things to consider and what I plan on doing for transfusions WTSHTF. You are correct that person to person transfusion is too risky. Depending on vein size and the size of the needle / catheter you could have a flow of 1 ml per minute to 5 or 6. Also, once the line is de-aired, without a optical fluid analyzer you have no way of knowing how fast it is going, let alone if it has stopped -which it can and does. Blood does clot! Moving through a system that has not been anticoagulated will cause many microaggrete clots at best. This is very dangerous IMO. Of course if someone is going to die anyway, why not risk it.

Viable options for anticoagulation drugs:
Citrate: AKA CPDA-1, ACD-A
Ratio: 1ml of either ACD-A or CPDA-1 per 7 ml of blood. These forms of citrate are premixed, unlike Heparin.
Risks: Aside from transfusion reactions, citrate is readily neutralized and absorbed by the body. Calcium negates Citrate. Risk of mis-dosing the PT (via over anticoagulated blood) is minimal. DO NOT use any IV fluid such as LR (lactated ringers) to prime or 'chase' this blood because it contains calcium and could clot in the IV line. No worries once the blood is in the patient (PT), LR is fine after the line is cleared. Use .9 NACL during infusion. Once blood is drawn off into a pre-citrated bag, you have 6 hours to reinfuse it at room temp. of 72 degrees.
Bonus: In some areas outside the USA, CPDA-1 blood bags can be purchased without a prescription (RX). The bags store for a printed shelf life of about 24 months. A "must have" if it is legal in your AO.

Heparin: A very distant second choice, EASY to overdose (OD). Basically impossible to properly fix in the field (unless you can wait it out) without PT and PTT tests from a lab or mobile device.
Heparin: Porcine or bovine. (Note: most bovine is expired or nearing expiration, porcine is the current standard)
Ratio: 30 units per 7ML of blood. Here is where it can get VERY confusing. Heparin comes in many different concentrations. From 1,000 units per ML to as high as 20,000 units per ML (some may be around in higher concentrations, but it is rare to see nowadays because of overdosing issues). You must pay strict attention.
Risks: Many. Using Heparin in the field means you must PRECISE. Under anticoagulate and the blood clots before it goes in. Over heparinize the blood and the PT could become anticoagulated. Unlike citrate, heparin attaches to the platelets. You have to wait out the heparin in order for it to go away. Theoretically you could give protamine, but if you knew how much you OD'd your PT you wouldn't have to give it anyway. NEVER give protamine in the field. Blood can only be stored for an hour once drawn off into heparinized bag.
Negatives: As stated, risk of OD and your PT bleeding out because of it. You must have a pen and paper or calculator to determine how much heparin to use. You also must have a spare bag of .9nacl (preferably) to dilute the heparin in. There is just a lot of room for error at the moment when your most likely to make an error.
Advice: Don't use it unless it's truly life or death, make out all you calculations and such ahead of time and keep them with the heparin. Also, heparin requires a RX in the USA.
Blood Volume (in MLs)= Weight in kilograms x 65
6500ml=100Kg x 65
1ML=1 gram (if you have a scale and want to weight the transfer pack, that comes in handy).
A full transfer pack looks like it is going to burst.
A 40 micron blood filter would be a big plus to have along with your other transfusion equipment. Running non-anticoagulated blood through one isn't a good idea.
Keeping iron pills on hand (legal in the USA) is a great idea to boost red blood cell (RBC) production after a transfusion or before it.
I hope this info helps... - Dr. Buckaroo Banzai

"Sad are the eyes, yet no tears.
The flight of the wild geese brings a new hope--rescue from all this.
Old friends, and those that we've found.
What chance, to make it last?
When there's fighting all around, and reason just ups and disappears.
Time is running out.
There is so much to be done--Tell me what more, what more, can we do?
There are promises made, plans firmly laid.
Now madness prevails, lives will be ended!
What more can we do?
What chance, to make it last?
What more, can we do?"

- Theme to the motion picture The Wild Geese

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Today, I'm covering Idaho, the fifth of 19 states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential. I rank it as my top choice for buying a survival retreat.


Be Ready for the September 11th Anniversary (SAs: Emerging Threats, Disaster Preparedness, EMP Protection)

The Al Qaeda terror network tends toward maximum psychological impact for their attacks, so it stands to reason that there is a higher than usual likelihood for an attack tomorrow-- September 11th. (9/11/2005). Be ready. Although the statistical chances of Der Tag are very low, I still recommend that you do the following today:

Put your extra NiMH batteries in the charger.

Refamiliarize yourself with with where you've stored your radiation monitoring gear and antibiotics.

If you don't already have a hard copy, print out a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine web site.

Top off you truck or car's gas tank.

Make "Just in Case" coordination contact via phone or e-mail with anyone who you expect to rendezvous at your retreat in the event of deep drama.

Replace the perishables in your G.O.O.D. packs and/or your vehicular G.O.O.D. kits.

Disconnect from power and external antennas any radios or computers that you don't uses on a daily basis. Store them in steel ammo cans to protect them from EMP. Or, if you are short of ammo cans, at least wrap them in aluminum foil. (The poor man's Faraday cage.)


Population: 1.3 million (and about 2.1 million cattle.)
Population Density: 15.5 per square mile (Rank 15 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 83,437 square miles (rank 13 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $608/yr. (rank 48 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $326/yr. (rank 50 of 50).
Average Home Price in Clearwater County: $112,725
Average Home Price in Idaho County: $109,500
Average Home Price in Kootenai County: $112,849
Average Home Price in Latah County: $118,325
Crime Safety Ranking: 9 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 97%.
Per capita income: $23,727 (rank 41 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 15 of 50.

Plusses: Low Very low crime rate. (For example, it ranks second from the bottom in car thefts of the 50 states.) Low property taxes. Inexpensive building permits. Minimally intrusive government. Inexpensive car registration ($20 to $50 per year, plus a one-time-only $15 plate fee.) Low car insurance rates. Low health insurance rates. Extremely low home insurance rates. (An average of $326 per year. Ranks #50 in the country!) The most wilderness area in any of the 48 Continental United States. (Only Alaska has more.) 21.6 million forested acres. Minimal gun laws. Class 3 guns (machineguns short barreled rifles and shotguns, and suppressors) are legal to own after the $200 Federal tax and background check. Open carry of handguns is legal and fairly commonplace. CCW permits must be issued unless someone has a prior criminal record. (“Non-discretionary.”) No CCW permit is required for concealed carry outside of city limits. Vehicular carry of loaded guns is legal and very common. Automatic knives are legal to own and carry. Minimally regulated home schooling. Low population density. Low elevation portions of the state have a fairly mild climate. Hunting and fishing are excellent in many parts of the state, so there will be no shortage of protein WTSHTF. High ratio of horse ownership, so I anticipate that transportation will be available in the event of a long term TEOTWAWKI. By 2025, Idaho is projected to be the 40th most populous with 1.7 million people. (It is currently the 39th most populous state.) Affordable property: The median home price for all of Idaho is $105,403. One useful web site: Idaho Department of Commerce Community Profiles.

Minuses: Has a relatively high state income tax. Sadly, 63.7% of Idaho’s lands are owned by federal government. (Mostly National Forest and BLM land.) But at least that provides a "really big back yard" for hunting and cutting firewood. Cold winters at the higher elevations. (Look for property in the low river valleys if you can’t stand snow!) Low wages compared to most coastal states.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 1 of 19. (JWR’s top choice!)

Last week Abigail and I were out picking elderberries. After harvesting all we could find at our place we stopped and asked the neighbor if we could hunt for some on their farm. My neighbor's'30 year old son, who has spent a lot of time in the woods, sent us to one spot his Dad to another. When we got to the son’s spot we indeed found a huge batch of berries, but they were pokeberries, definitely not what we were looking for! Lesson learned: Make sure you know what you are picking and eating.

It did get me to thinking about variety in our diet if the “event” happens. At the Adams house we currently supplement our diet with what we can find in the wild. blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, all make great cobbler and jelly. We also harvest walnuts, hickory nuts morel mushrooms, ramps, dandelion for greens and gravy, nettles, clover, and violets for greens. All these are seasonal of course but make a pleasant break in our current fare. If someone was on a constant diet of wheat and beans the ability to identify and cook these wild plants would be a godsend for the palate, and a nutritional gold mine. Naturally different places will have different “wild fare” that will be out there to harvest. Now is the time to be learning what nature is providing in your own part of the world. This web site has over 187,000 recipes, basically if you can kill it or pick it, you will find a way to cook it here.

I would caution anyone that is new to foraging to find someone that is very knowledgeable with the plants in their immediate area. Someone that has picked their own plants and eaten them too! Don’t get started with someone like my neighbor’s son, who thought he knew what he was talking about but had never eaten his own harvest! - John and Abigail Adams

I am a fan of your work and am glad that you are now doing a regular blog. I found something that might be of interest to your readers while going through my regular slew of catalogues in the mail today. I remember reading in your novel Patriots about how one of the characters jerry-rigged a person-to-person blood transfusion setup. I noticed that Deutche Optik, a militaria surplus dealer, is carrying a new in the box German surplus person-to-person blood transfusion device. I went ahead and ordered one, on the off chance I may need it one day and have someone around who is medically qualified. Here's the description:
Blood Transfusion Device “Assa” [NS011] $45.00 (Very Limited Availability) Yeah… we know! Sounds bizarre and macabre, but a damned useful, brand-new, 25ccm instrument. As the German description states: for the use of blood transfusions from vein to vein; infusion and extraction of fluids from body cavities (pleuritis exsudativa); irrigation of serious, bloody and septic joint injuries. Gorgeous tool. 200° C glass with nickel-plated syringes and hardware. Surgical rubber tubing enclosed. 7.5”

Just in case some SurvivalBlog readers might be interested. - D.H.

JWR Replies: I do not recommend person-to-person transfusions, except as a last resort. Under the stress of an emergency surgery, it is too easy to lose track of time and the next thing you know, you have two patients! It doesn't take that much longer to draw blood from a type-matched donor into sterile packs and then transfuse by gravity from those packs. Proviso: Don't attempt any sort of transfusion unless it is a dire emergency and until you've been taught the proper techniques by an M.D. or other medical professional. (BTW, a phlebotomist or surgical nurse with regular daily experience is probably the best teacher for how to find a vein and set up a Luer lock. A lot of non-surgical docs tend to get a bit rusty.) Blood typing and all of other typical precautions (for shock, embolism, etc.) must also be observed. In the absence of other equipment, one of these Deutche Optik kits would suffice.

Dear Jim:
I am thoroughly enjoying your web site and appreciate very much all of your quality information. Recently you had an article about storing coins and ammo for barter and trade purposes. I would like to ask several questions about this subject.
1.) You mentioned pre-1965 silver dimes, but what about silver quarters and half-dollar coins?
2.) Do you recommend gold coins? I understand the inherent problems with gold bars and bullion, but what about .10, .25, and .50 ounce gold coins for barter?
3. What types and quantities of .22 ammo do you suggest? Stingers, hollow points or FMJ? and in what quantities of each?
4.) Do you recommend storing up primarily hollow points or FMJ in the other calibers?
I'm sure that the other blog readers have similar questions and we thank you for your help.
B'shem Yahshua Ha Moshiach, - Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR Replies:

In answer to your questions...

1.) I mentioned pre-1965 silver dimes only because they are the smallest denomination U.S. 90% silver coins. Dimes will be perfect for barter transactions like a can of beans or a loaf of bread. Quarters, half-dollars, and even silver dollars are also good to keep on hand for bartering--but only for larger items/quantities, unless you want to use a cold chisel. BTW, U.S. silver dollars are much more expensive per ounce, but since silver coinage has been out of circulation in the U.S., for 40+ years and public knowledge of them is fading, silver dollars are undeniably the most recognizable silver coins for barter with the Generally Dumb Public (GDP). I recommend that you get a mix of coins, but mostly dimes.

2.) As I illustrated in the Barter Faire chapter of my novel Patriots, I do not recommend gold coins for barter.Even the smallest gold bullion coin (1/10th ounce) is still worth about $50 at present and will probably be worth at least four times that When the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF). They are much too compact a form of wealth for most barter transactions. However, gold coins do serve two useful purposes: Firstly, due to their compactness (per dollar), they are ideal for a last ditch "I need to flee the country, tonight" form of portable wealth. (I couldn't imagine lugging a bunch of $1,000 face value silver bags (at 55 pounds each) or 100 ounce silver Engelhard bars under such circumstances. Secondly, gold coins are good long term store of wealth to protect the value of your savings from one side of a monetary crisis to the other. (The "time machine" effect that I mentioned in a previous blog post.) But again, don't buy gold coins for barter. But you should first buy a $1,000 face value "junk" (circulated pre-1965) silver bag each member of your family, for barter purposes. Only then should you consider buying any gold coins or silver bullion.

3.) Stingers tend to have erratic velocity, so I don't recommend them. I do recommend storing standard factory (Remington or Winchester) .22 Long Rifle hollow points for barter. Buy as many as your budget allows. I personally have 15,000 .22 cartridges set aside for small game hunting and target practice, and another 25,000 set aside for barter. The nice thing about .22 rimfire ammo is that it is relatively inexpensive and very compact. You can fit 4,500 rounds in just one ammo can. They are also divisible for smaller purchases. As a barter item, 50 cartridge boxes of .22 LR will be very desirable. (They will mean "meat on the table" for a lot of hungry families.)

4.) I recommend storing primarily pointed soft point ammunition for hunting rifle calibers, (with perhaps 30% in FMJ loadings for calibers like 5.56mm NATO and 7.62x39). Buy nearly all hollow points for your pistol calibers. WTSHTF, people are going to want to acquire man stopper loads rather than plinking ammo.

Hi, Jim,
Just adding some thoughts on your assessment of Arizona. There are two Arizonas, the lower half at an average elevation of less than 3000 feet, and the half up on the Colorado plateau at 5000-8000 feet, and the two are totally different. You are absolutely correct about Southern Arizona being too populated, too close the border, and too much crime, almost all of which is in metropolitan Phoenix. If ones does their research (and I am not going to spell it all out here), there are some locations that come in very high. First check your groundwater availability, some areas have intermittent surface water, and no aquifer. Other areas have excellent, clean, well flowing, deep aquifers. You will probably have to put in a well, either wind or solar powered. Solar power has an advantage in that it can be hidden better, but it had the disadvantage of being more technologically complex.
[JWR Adds: The folks at Solarjack/SunPumps of Safford, Arizona are both knowledgeable and reputable PV powered pump dealers. I first did business with them in 1991.] With a good well, you not only have drinking water, you can grow crops. There are large concentrations of LDS members in some areas, this is a good thing to look for, crime is low, and they make good neighbors, even if you are not LDS. Land is reasonably cheap ($200-$500/acre) out of the towns a few miles, but you will have the added expense of your well, which will cost $12-$15K including the windmill or solar, and solar electric generation for lights, and other power, which can add that much again, for a modest system. Game is available, and the population density is these localized areas is measured in square miles per person. My nearest neighbor is 3/4 of a mile away, the next closest is two miles in the opposite direction, and more than 3 miles each in the other two directions,yet there is a town of about 5000 people, only 9 miles by rough road, away. (The place I selected, allows my retreat to not be seen from the little traveled rutted dirt road in front of my place; the only indication that someone is even there, is a slightly overgrown track leading over a low ridge through some trees, from a nondescript barb wire fence gate. After one rainstorm, the track looks like it hasn't been traveled for months. The CONEX boxes are painted olive drab, and hidden by trees. blackout curtains are used at night in the neutral colored dwelling, you cannot see the place, day or night, from 40 yards away, even though there are large meadows on two sides, as I made sure at least some trees were between the open areas and the structures.) Cattle and crops are grown in the area, and there is game, ranging from rabbits to antelope to elk. Topography ranges from savannah, to juniper to tall pines, depending on the elevation. You are close enough that you can work/live in Phoenix, if needed, yet have a retreat available less than 200 miles away, just know ALL the ways out of town, and have stuff propositioned. And, if you have the money for $20-40K an acre, there are a few select areas in the 4000-5000 foot elevation that have year round running surface water, good flat ground for crops are isolated, surrounded by high mountains and easily defended, as the only two roads in, can be easily defended, or blocked - AZDoug

Dear Nationwide:
SIGARMS® is responding to emergency requests from law enforcement in the hurricane ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and is expediting orders to agencies in those states. Already SIGARMS has shipped extra pistol magazines for the Louisiana State Police who carry the P220 pistol, and at the agency's request will be sending all available remaining P220 magazines. As a result, SIGARMS has suspended sale of the P220 pistol magazines to the commercial market. Commercial sales are expected to resume in October. Additionally SIGARMS is working closely with officials at the ATF to expedite required paperwork for law enforcement agency transfer of the SG 551 and SG 552 select-fire rifles. Already, SIGARMS has made preparations to ship several hundred rifles to one Louisiana agency. Due to the magnitude of the emergency facing law enforcement in the region hit by hurricane Katrina and the surrounding states which have taken in thousands of refugees, SIGARMS will give immediate priority to requests from area law enforcement agencies and expedite shipments of firearms, parts and accessories. Agencies in other parts of the country that are sending personnel and supplies to the region will also receive priority status to assist them in their efforts. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to our commercial dealers and customers. We deeply appreciate your understanding in this matter. Thank you. - SIGARMS

Reader MH. Adds: I thought everything was "under control ..."

JWR Adds: This is evidence that there will be shortages of firearms, accessories, and ammunition WTSHTF. In this isolated instance, SIGArms is devoting its entire inventory for a full month just for one region of the country. Think about the implications of a more widespread emergency. FFTAGFFR, folks! Stock up.

"Oh how cruel is the interval between the conception of a great enterprise and its execution! What vain terrors! What irresolution! Life is at stake---much more is at stake: honor!
- Schiller

Friday, September 9, 2005

My #1 Son has added a new "Link to Us" button in our navigation bar. This makes it easy for you to add a image link to your web page/site. Many thanks for helping to spread the word!

Today, I'm covering Colorado, the fourth of 19 states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Population: 4.3 million.
Population Density: 41.3 per square mile (Rank 8 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 104,000 square miles (rank 8 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $881/yr. (rank 11 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $571/yr. (rank 12 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 26 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 74%.
Per capita income: $32,434 (rank 7 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 15 of 50.
Plusses: A low “total tax burden” of 8.4%. Has a high rating in “education freedom” for home schooling (ranked #8 of 50).
Minuses: Fairly high population density (by western U.S. standards.) The emerging Nanny State mentality is also troubling.
Parts of the state are recommended.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 10 of 19.

I started writing about this topic after reading that there are 100 millions dogs in America, back in the fall of 1998. Every year people e-mail with more true dog attack stories. Since that time I have put them in my newsletter. The first three articles are still posted here:

Now, in today's climate of terrorist attacks, hurricanes that could cause an economy collapse changing America into chaos I think it might be something interesting to share. The premise is the majority of the people in bad times would let their pets go to fend for themselves. These pets would soon revert back to becoming predators. [JWR Comments: I portrayed precisely that in my screenplay Pulling Through--available for free download.] Once the chaos hit the cities and people start killing each other the dogs would start feeding on the dead bodies. These packs will then have a taste for human flesh and you will be considered food.

Canines like fresh kills the best. Something about the blood letting turn it into a frenzy like in a shark attack. If you want to see for yourself next time you've unthawed some meat save the bloody water in the foam tray. Carry this outside and spread it across your lawn. Let your dog out and watch what happens. To really open your eyes have two dogs checking it out at the same time. But I'd better let you know up front I am not responsible for the vet bills or human injuries--so be careful if you do this. In other words you'll do so AT YOUR OWN RISK.

To get a glimpse into what an attack would sound like read this. This was posted to a forum and later e-mailed to me. Pretty graphic bone chilling descriptions. I am sorry I don't know who the author is to give him/her credit.
"That is true primal fear ...."I don´t know what it is about dogs but there is a built in something inside of me that when I hear a pack of dogs attacking .....especially attacking another lone helpless dog (lets just stay with dogs for now)....there is something that goes click in me and every fiber of my being is set on the highest tension a person can experience....all hairs standing on end....stomach churning, panic/fear/tears/screams.....everything reactive instantly and at once. There are some folks alive who have never actually heard this except on t.v. and let me tell you it does not do justice to hearing these sounds for real and seeing the fangs/blood, flying flesh, gouged out eyes and horrific screams...yes screams of bloody murder coming from the dog being attacked....well, if you ever have this experience it will stay with you forever....most assuredly if in that experience you were totally helpless to stop/control/defend/run-from/drive off the pack and those long horrific minutes became unending video stuck on reply....forever. I guess it brings back a deep deep species memory of long ago when the nights were terrifying and not made for sleeping but rather for surviving until the dawn/daylight.... I guess that is why dogs still sleep so soundly during the day though they don´t remember why and I don´t sleep during the night....though I can´t forget. Keeps one alive when civilization is long dead and gone."

I would like to add a few things every time this posted someone will always say "no way dogs will become food" or "coyotes will kill the dogs." While it is true that coyotes do kill dogs mostly smaller ones or loners. Now you take a pack of 15 dogs against a normal coyote pack of 2 to 6 and the coyotes will become the food. Even though there is a number of coyotes in almost every state last time I heard the population average for coyotes in the Lower 48 was 10 million. That is a far cry from 100 million dogs.

The key point most people miss in this is what I call the rule of 50. At any given time the normal city person has about 50 miles worth of gas in their vehicle, less then $50 cash, less then 50 hours of food in the house, and less then 50 rounds of ammunition. If you research into what happen after 9-11. ATM shut down most people didn't have any money, how many gas station were sold out within hours? How many rounds of ammunition were bought that day? How many could not buy any food? The funny ones are the people that think a club will be all they need against a pack of attacking dogs. Ever hit a Rottweiler in the head with baseball bat? Nope, me neither, but I saw it once and all it did was make the dog really mad. Now try it against a pack of 15 dogs attacking you... They will find your bat next to your torn up body.

Here is part of story in one of my Newsletters. Note this was after fighting and killing off most of a feral dog pack:

"The whole walk home I had the feeling I was being watched. I didn't know by who until I went out to my jeep later that night. The last dog followed me home and attacked me as I was walking to my jeep. I think that was the alpha male because he was a ballsy and got me to the ground on his own. I ended up stabbing him about 25 times with my pocket knife before he quit biting me. I found him in an old rusted out car that was in a field about 2 days later."

There are some really important points to be made here. One this is after killing off most of the pack, the Alpha had no fear of humans, the dog thought this human was trying to be the new Alpha and he was not going to let that happen until the two fought it out. What is very startling is the number of wounds from the pocket knife; 25 times. I'm just guessing it was small pocket knife with a 3 inch blade. Still it was a "to the death" fight in the dog's mind. Also, even after all of those knife wounds the dog still got away and died out of sight.

These dog packs will range in size from 6-to-50 dogs. I don't care how good a shot you are--if 20-to-50 dogs are attacking you are deep do-do. Have you ever tried to shoot a running coyote or deer? How many times did you miss? Now imagine trying to hit running dogs coming from all directions? A simple effective solution is to have 10 dozen coyote snares on hand. This is for a homestead-retreat. With some basic snare knowledge you can have 120 guards watching every animal path into your homestead. This will also be a great deterrent for coyotes and other vermin coming to feed on your livestock. Now I am NOT talking about homemade wire snares. Once a 20-to-70 pound feral dog hits one of these he will break it right off. Just like hot knife through butter. This is very bad for a couple of reasons. You just taught the dog to avoid snares making him warily and 10 times harder to catch the next time. No I am talking about real professional grade self locking snares made out aircraft cable rated up to 1,080 pounds of strength. But the large dog is only 100 pounds why so strong? Well the first thing you learn trapping is animal fight the trap or snare. They roll, twist bite, chew and used their strength to escape. Wild coyote have showed they could put 5 times their weight into breaking free. Simple math a 100 pound animal can put 500 pounds of breaking strength on a snare. Next rolling and twisting our snares come with a swivel to help prevent kinking or twisting. Biting ,coyotes can chew through the cable if you are not diligent in checking the snare every day. But this cable is perfect for a 24 hour check. Even with all it's strength a coyote can still [eventually] chew through it. That is pretty amazing to me. - "Buckshot"

JWR's Comment: I've known "Buckshot" Bruce Hemming for about eight years. I highly recommend his traps, snares, scents, and videos. (I have quite a few that I've bought from him over the years.) Buckshot will sell you 10 dozen professionally made coyote snares and a video for around $200. In a real long term grid-down TEOTWAWKI situation, traps and snares will be worth their weight in gold. You'll be glad you have them for both the food and the protection that they will provide. To learn more, visit Buckshot's Camp at:, or call (in the U.S. or Canada) for a free catalog: 1(888) 600-6869. If nothing else, at least sign up for Buckshot's free newsletter at his web site. Disclaimer: I haven't been paid or given any merchandise to write this. I'm in awe of the depth of his knowledge on trapping. (If you've seen any of his videos, then you know what I mean!) Lastly, I should mention that Buckshot is a new SurvivalBlog advertiser. But I would have run his letter, regardless!

Here are some useful specifications:
Katadyn Drip Filter
0.2 micron ceramic depth filter (Note: This is the ABSOLUTE filtration specification, NOT the Nominal filtration rating.)
British Berkefeld Big Berkey

With filtration rating efficiencies of >98% down to 0.2 microns >99.9% at 0.5 microns >99.99% at 0.9 microns (Spectrum Labs).
Note: Berkefeld's ABSOLUTE filtration specification is 0.9 microns. (See the above line.)

I 've watched the PR advertisements regarding Berkefeld and just sat there shaking my head. I was sent some Berkefeld filter replacements which were touted as equal to Katadyn's but a much better price. NOT! When I read the spec's on the filter, I sent them back and bought Katadyn's. (Actually, it's just as cheap to buy a new complete drip unit as to buy replacement filters. Well, within $15 bucks anyway.) Don't get me wrong, Berkey's do filter .....but Katadyn does it a lot better.

Oh, I tried the Gravidyn filter element by Katadyn, which has the carbon filter built in but they are to be changed every six months. Not worth the cost for me unless I lived in a city. With the Ceradyn filters, you use them until they are worn out. That's a lot better for a long run need and mine generally last 6 years.

I should mention that when you buy a complete new Katadyn replacement unit, you still have the old one which wasn't totally useless. Eventually you end up with ones you could give to the needy neighbors who could get by on it. Just a pet peeve where I think the American consumer is being misled. Gosh, like that's uncommon, huh? I hope that Berkefeld isn't supporting your blog ;-) - The Army Aviator

"Put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket!" - Mark Twain

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Today, I cover California--the third of 19 states in my rankings of retreat potential.

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Population: 34 million+.
Population Density: 214 per square mile (Rank 1 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 158,706 square miles (rank 3 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $765/yr. (rank 23 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $592/yr. (rank 9 of 50),
Crime Safety Ranking: 39 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 30%.
Per capita income: $32,149 (rank 8 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 37 of 50.
Plusses: Mild climate and a long growing seasons in most parts of the state. High wages.
Minuses: Excessive population density, high crime rate, copious smog, high cost of living, aggravating traffic, earthquake prone, over-inflated real estate prices, expensive building permits, restrictive zoning, high sales tax (as much as 8.5% in some counties!), draconian gun control laws, MTBE-tainted municipal and well water, high income and property taxes, multiple terrorist and WWIII targets, mediocre public schools, a cluttered radio spectrum, a state budget crisis that has reduced the state’s bonds to junk bond status, a proliferation of anti-small business and environmental regulations, exploding illegal immigration, anti-home schooling legislators, expensive car registration, high car insurance rates, the highest worker’s compensation insurance cost in the nation ($5.23 per $100 in payroll!), high health insurance rates, a very litigious and biased court system, and an ever-expanding socialistic Nanny State. California K-to-12 students ranks 48th of the 50 states in academics. California is definitely not recommended, except perhaps for those committed to the anti-gun pacifist school of survivalism and willing to home school their kids, and then only in the most remote portions of the state--far northern California. (Such as Humboldt, Modoc, or Trinity County) or perhaps the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.(Such as the Bishop or Lone Pine areas.)
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 19 of 19.

JWR adds: I included California in my rankings of 19 states partly to show some contrasts to the other states listed. Because so many SurvivalBlog readers live in California, I hope that this serves as encouragement for them to "vote with their feet."

I see that Missouri is not on your list.  There are a lot of good things to say about the Ozarks of Southern Missouri (and Northern Arkansas).  Self reliant culture which is pro gun and private property and which respects people's privacy.  There is very low population density in many counties (such as Shannon population 8,300, Reynolds 6,700, Oregon 10,300, and Carter 5,900). Very low cost of living and a very homogeneous population (mostly Scotch-Irish). You find people from California moving to Missouri since they can live on just their Social Security there. Regards, - "Nearnorth"

JWR Replies: Your point is well taken. however, as a whole, Missouri is too populous to be recommended. It has a population of over 6 million which equates to 1448.4 per square mile. That is more than four times the population density of California, which just barely made my list. Take another look at the "Lights of the U.S." photo maps at:

Missouri also has an increasingly intrusive government. Even if you live in a lightly populated county, you still have to contend with the state regulations. (This, BTW, is the same predicament faced by people who live in the rural counties of Colorado, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and northern California.) Also, consider the number of nuclear targets in the state (The following list is courtesy of Richard Fleetwood at
Primary Targets: Whiteman AFB complex (Minuteman missiles, area within a line connecting Freeman, Richmond, Arrow Rock, California, Gravois Mills, Osceola, Stockton, Sheldon, Rich Hill, west to state line to Freeman again).
Secondary Targets: St. Louis, Kansas City, Fort Leonard Wood.
Tertiary Targets: Columbia, Springfield, St. Joseph.

Mr. Rawles,
Many thanks for an excellent web site!  I read it daily with much anticipation.  Your book Patriots is a first-class work as well. 
Storing fuel is a must for a survival retreat.  Having said that, how do you get delivered several hundred gallons of diesel (or gas) without raising eyebrows?  I live in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on a mountain top.  Very private and quiet, but not a farm.  Maybe it is easier than I presume and nothing would raise flags to delivery folks filling a couple of above ground tanks.  Is there an approach that has worked for you or your readers?

OBTW, your Retreat Owner Profiles are super--keep up the good work! - S.P.

JWR Replies: As mentioned in previous blog posts, I recommend getting the largest underground fuel tanks that you can afford, but of course no larger than the maximum allowable under your local law. I also recommend that you purchase the tanks from a company that is a long distance away, and that you have workmen from that same company handle the delivery and installation. That will keep local rumors to a minimum. For example, one of my good friends in Clearwater County, Idaho ordered his gas and diesel tanks from a company in Missoula, Montana, more than 100 miles away. The shipping was expensive, but this was offset by the fact that Montana has no state sales tax. OBTW, the fiberglass fake basalt rocks covering the filler necks and hose stands are a nice touch.

As for the local companies that fill your tanks, there are a couple of obfuscatory statements that might prove helpful: "I only got this big tank because I want to be able to ride out large price fluctuations." Or, "I need to keep this much diesel on hand because I'm co-owner of a (fill in the blank) company." (Trucking, logging, et cetera)

The most expensive but most discreet approach is available for "Secret Squirrels" with a big budget: As I just described, have your large underground tanks installed by a company from at least 50 miles away. Then order your fuel in small increments (200 gallons or less) from several different vendors, preferably from 30+ miles away. There is no way for them to know the capacity of your underground tank just by looking at the exposed filler neck--unless of course the curvature of the tank also shows. Shelling out for multiple delivery charges is a high price to pay for privacy, but TANSTAAFL. Parenthetically, I have one acquaintance in Wyoming that has an 80 gallon diesel "L" shaped tank (the under tool box type) in the bed of his his dualie F350 diesel pickup. He buys diesel 90+ gallons at a time on his weekly trips to Cheyenne. Once he gets home, he pumps it into his 3,000 gallon diesel tank at home. It is a slow process, by very discreet.

"I didn't say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth." - Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus in The Matrix (1999)

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Today, I cover the second of 19 states in my rankings of retreat potential.

The situation on the Gulf Coast is still fairly grim. The evacuation is nearly complete, and much needed supplies are now pouring in. But the communities that are still hurting the most are the small inland towns that were cut off from communications and that still don't have power restored. The power utilities are making Herculean efforts to get power restored, but is is a slow process. Their crews are working around the clock. These are good men doing a commendable job.

The bureaucrats at FEMA are getting mostly bad reviews for their performance in coordinating the disaster relief effort. Who ever dreamed up the concept of managing an emergency? Methinks that in the long run it will be religious charities and small private charity organizations that will do the most good for the most folks, using funds with the greatest efficiency. Large charity organizations and government bureaucracies always tend toward high overhead costs, misdirected efforts, and gross inefficiency.

There have been some interesting exchanges about the implications of Hurricane Katrina over on The Claire Files (The discussion forums at Claire Wolfe's blog.)

Over at Keep and Bear Arms there are some tidbits about firearm used for self defense, post-Katrina. I'm sure that it is just a matter of time before that hopeless Hopolophobe Josh Sugarman and the rest of the civilian disarmament crowd get around to claiming that privately owned guns somehow caused the looting problem. I have news for them: Guns aren't the cause of looting. They are the solution.

And don't miss the 20 Most Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina

Population: 2.67 million.
Population Density: 50.2 per square mile (Rank 5 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 53,187 square miles (rank 27 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $721/yr. (rank 30 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $494/yr. (rank 19 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 8 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 66%.
Per capita income: $21,995 (rank 49 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 23 of 50.
Plusses: Low property taxes.
Minuses: High population density (by western states standards.) Tornado prone (ranked #5 out of top 20 States). Poverty. The Arkansas economy barely scrapes by, even in good times. The state has a fairly large welfare dependent under class. This could prove problematic in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Poorly educated populace. For example: High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, (2000 stats): 75.3%, versus 80.4% nationwide. Bachelor's degree or higher, percentage of persons age 25+, (2000 stats): 16.7%, versus 24.4% nationwide. Note: Look for natural gas producing areas so that you can run your pickup on “drip” oil. (See my posts in the Archives on alternate fuels.)
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 16 of 19.

A Recent Relocatee to Arkansas (and Regular SurvivalBlog Contributor) Comments:

I researched for several years and made five trips to Arkansas in 18 months or so and as a "retreat" area North Central Arkansas wins on many levels for my needs. The statistics you quote, I'm sure, are valid as an overall state average, BUT most of the population seems to be in the Southern and West/East portions of the state and that seems to be where most of the tornados occur, and also where welfare recipients live. [JWR adds: This adds credence to my theory that tornadoes are mysteriously guided by some unseen force toward single-wide trailer parks.] There is a very homogenous population in this area with lots of well-attended churches and close family ties. One does not need a Bachelor's to take over Dad's logging or sawmill business or river/fishing guide business. Up here in the North Central area in the Ozarks things are really not fitting your averages. My criteria on a new AO was an sparsely populated area, a longer growing season than the maybe 90 days I had [in northern Nevada] for the last 16 years, better/shorter winter season, water availability, less expensive cost of living for basics, and lack of bureaucratic interference. The northern counties of Arkansas seem to fit the criteria perfectly. So far my propane, building supplies, fencing, food costs, and car insurance/license/tags are far less than I had been paying. Yes, the education system is poor and conventional jobs are scarce. However, the folks are friendly to newcomers without being nosey, one does not seem to need a permit for doing any improvements to property, and self-employment (under the table income) is rampant here and the work provided to customers is excellent. Land is, in my opinion, very cheap here to buy compared to lots of other areas in the U.S. - averaging $500-to-$1000 per acre with the higher pricing on lakeside properties. Good fishing, good hunting, good weather, good friends - just what I was looking for. Cities are cities anywhere one goes and that seems to be where the "problems" or potential problems congregate. Rural is rural, by the same token. I know your focus is/has been communities of like-minded folks banded together for safety and survival. I, personally, think that will happen much more shortly after a SHTF scenario than before such an event(s). I, like many others I know, have been laying the groundwork for that latter scenario, but it's not that comfortable to do it now, in advance. The plans are there, ready to put into action, but in the meantime, we are all working on our own plans for now and in the future and we stay in communication regarding such plans while still maintaining our privacy and property, if that makes sense to you. We, amongst my friends, know who will/can do what and provide what in most any disaster and we keep those plans in mind while we develop our individual projects.

JWR,  It may be of some assistance for you to check out  It will support your position on locating west of the Mississippi by showing Nuclear Power Reactors in the United States in map form. It also is an eye opener!

One of your "Bloggers" recently suggested that more information on primitive subjects should be looked into.  Since I have been taking so much information from your Blog,  I felt that I must contribute! See: - G.C.P.

Hello All,
I have two of the size that fits in your shirt pocket. That’s where this little product endorsement starts. I was out in the bush one weekend and used my note pad extensively. As usual I got really dirty and forgot to retrieve my Rite in the Rain note book from my shirt pocket. Well, I washed it in the washing machine and dried it in the dryer as well. Upon discovering this I felt really silly, however, to my surprise the note book and all my hen scratching was still intact and readable. I could still write on the paper and it is still water proof.  So, this stuff really works in my “book”. Regards, Larry

In your spare time (LOL) you might want to check out this book, downloadable free at or hard copy at
Survival and Austere medicine would be a REALLY handy thing to have in a SHTF situation as it's practical info, field tested, and doable by a non-medical person.  All the authors are in the medical field either as MDs, EMTs, RNs, etc.  They knoweth what they are doing and talking about.  Chapter 8 is really good on herbs, preps, uses, and the content is approved by the above listed medical personal.  I think Chapter 8 is really good for beginner or experienced herb users (I should think it's great - I wrote it). 
Anyway, try to find time to give it a peruse - it may be helpful to lots of your readers - the authors do not get any kickback or anything - this was a labor of love and caring, and is a free download for anyone.  Best, Norma aka Goatlady

"In this world you've just got to hope for the best and prepare for the worst and take whatever God sends." - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne Of Avonlea

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Today, I begin a series of articles that compare 19 states in the western U.S. for their retreat potential. I hope that you find this useful. I would appreciate your comments and suggestions to balance my admittedly subjective assessments.

If nothing else, Hurricane Katrina has verified my long-held belief that we live in a very fragile society with just a thin veneer of civilization. And it is evident that it doesn't take much to peel back that veneer. A "must read" article recently ran in USA Today.

And consider this from yesterdays' Daily Reckoning: "Katrina was the rainy day for which people are meant to save. But Americans of the Greenspan era saw no need to save. The latest figures show them saving in July at the rate of MINUS 0.6% of income. Oh la la...laissez les bon temps rouler!" ("Let the Good Time Roll!")

The data in this series of posts describes 19 western states. (Note: Much more detailed retreat locale recommendations will be provided in subsequent blog posts, following this series of articles.) After much consideration, all of the eastern states were intentionally excluded from this analysis because they are either downwind of nuclear targets and/or are in areas with excessive population density. (See my post on population density, back on August 5th.) This wasn't just the result of subjective bias. I try to use the dispassionate mindset of an actuarial accountant.

As evidenced recently with Hurricane Katrina, population density is perhaps the most crucial factor to consider when selecting a safe haven. The big cities on the Gulf Coast are hell holes, whereas the small towns are getting by fairly well. I know that this will cause acrimony with a lot of my readers who live east of the Mississippi River, but the plain truth is the East has too much population! Unless you are among the uber-rich and can afford to buy an elaborate fully hardened bunker with HEPA filtration deep in the Smoky or Appalachian Mountains with a five year food supply, I firmly believe that you will be safer west of the Mississippi. That is just my opinion, so your mileage may vary (YMMV). However, before you write me a tirade about how wrong I am and how safe you'll be in upstate New York, please re-read my August 5th through August 10th posts. Also, take a long hard look at the "Lights of the U.S." photo maps at: A picture tells a thousand words.

When thinking about where you’d prefer to buy your retreat and/or retirement home don’t just look at climate. Look at all the factors. Depending on your age and interest in true independence from “the system” you might also consider factors like home schooling laws and home birth laws.

Here is my overall Retreat Potential ranking of 19 western states, which I will explain in detail in forthcoming blog posts:

1 Idaho
2 Montana
3 Oregon
4 Washington
5 Wyoming
6 Utah
7 South Dakota
8 North Dakota
9 Arizona
10 Colorado
11 Nebraska
12 Kansas
13 Texas
14 Nevada
15 New Mexico
16 Arkansas
17 Oklahoma
18 Louisiana
19 California

As a point of reference, here is an excerpt from Boston T. Party's Gun Law ranking (for the 19 states on my list), from Boston's excellent book Boston's Gun Bible.

1 Idaho
2 Louisiana
3 Wyoming
4 Montana
5 Arizona
6 New Mexico
7 Texas
8 Oklahoma
9 Nevada
10 Utah
11 Colorado
12 South Dakota
13 Kansas
14 Arkansas
15 Oregon
16 Nebraska
17 North Dakota
18 Washington
19 California

And as yet another point of reference, here are the same 19 states, ranked by the length of their growing season (in the warmest part of each state):

1 Arizona
2 Texas
3 Louisiana
4 California
5 Nevada
6 Oregon
7 Washington
8 Idaho
9 Utah
10 Kansas
11 Arkansas
12 New Mexico
13 Oklahoma
14 Colorado
15 Wyoming
16 Montana
17 Nebraska
18 South Dakota
19 North Dakota

Why not Alaska?

A year ago, I heard one “expert” on the radio recommend Alaska as a retreat destination because it has the lowest population density of any State, and low taxes. IMHO, he couldn’t be more wrong! The biggest problem is that from an economic standpoint, Alaska is essentially a big offshore island. Many essential items are shipped or flown in. What happens when the ships and planes stop arriving? It won’t be pretty--at least not in Alaska's cities. (Ironically, although it is the most lightly populated state, Alaska has the second highest crime rate in the country!) Coastal Alaska is also earthquake prone. Further, you may think that because of the North Slope oil that the state will have plentiful fuel. Bzzzzzt! Wrong answer! There is insufficient refinery capacity of meet Alaska’s “domestic” needs, and insufficient transport to get refined fuels where they are needed. (Current transport is geared to distributing fuel and lubricants brought in from the Lower 48--not locally produced fuel and lubricants.) So the little fuel left in Alaska post-TEOTWAWKI will be jealously guarded--doubtless saved for critical tasks like running farm tractors and chain saws. So there will be virtually none available for fishing boats or between-town commerce.

In a long term collapse, the residents of Alaska's densely populated coastal cities will likely starve and/or freeze to death. Meanwhile, those in inland towns, albeit better fed, will be geographically isolated so that commerce with the coast will be difficult if not impossible. Bush pilots will eventually be grounded due to lack of fuel, lubricants and spare parts. The only people I foresee surviving are a few seasoned Sourdoughs and native tribe members that still have well-honed outdoor survival skills and are still capable of reverting to a self-sufficient mode. The best set up for this would be a small settlement on a clear water (non-glacial) stream with an active salmon run and a couple of productive “fish wheel” salmon traps.
Another consideration is that the Alaska Pipeline is vulnerable to frost heaving and rupture if the power grid goes down. (It is not widely known, but grid power is used to run thousands of refrigeration elements that keep the permafrost frozen around the pipeline supports.) My prediction: In the event of TEOTWAWKI, the Al-Can highway will have heavy traffic with heavily-laden pickup trucks carrying beau coup gas cans, going in both directions: Greenhorns from the lower 48 thinking that Alaska is the place to be and Alaskan Citizens who realize that Alaska is not a viable place to stay in a long term Crunch.

And Hawaii?
Just as in Alaska, what happens when the ships and planes stop arriving? Too much population (1,250,000 and growing!) and too little self-sufficiency. Lousy gun laws, too. The only thing that Hawaii has going for it is a mild climate and the fact that each island produces its own power—albeit with imported fuel. If and when the North American grid goes down, it will be something that Hawaiians will see reported on the evening news. Yes, I know, fish are plentiful and you can walk through the jungle and forage enough fruit in just an hour to feed your family for a day. But the two-legged predators will be out in force. It won't be safe to go out fishing or foraging. Perhaps the residents of some of the smaller islands will pull through a Crunch. Certainly they might on Ni`ihau--the small western island reserved for natives only and their traditional lifestyle--subsistence agriculture, and fishing. But of course: “Haoles need not apply…”

Population: 5.1 million.
Population Density: 44.7 per square mile (Rank 7 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 114,000 square miles (rank 6 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $438/yr. (rank 30 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 48 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 91%.
Per capita income: $24,988 (rank 37 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 25 of 50.
Plusses: Mild winters at lower elevations. Has the nation’s top rating in “education freedom” (the state is at the forefront of the charter school movement.) Open carry of handguns is legal and perhaps the most commonplace in the Lower 48.
Minuses: Intensely hot summers at lower elevations. Fairly high population density (by western states standards.) Water is scarce in much of the state. Very high crime rate! Expensive car insurance rates. Nuclear targets. Proximity to the Mexican border. Some northern parts of the state are recommended (with provisos). Has a high ratio of illegal aliens. Note: I probably should have given Arizona a higher ranking, due to its favorable gun laws and long growing season. However, its very crime rate, high insurance costs, and proximity to the Mexican border pushed it down the list.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 9 of 19.

Note: Details on 18 other states will be posted on a daily basis. Stay tuned.

Rite in the Rain is truly waterproof paper. You can even write on it underwater! I tested their Field Binder. They also make binders and paper for many other uses. The paper comes in several templates: Universal Grid paper, CAS Briefing Form (9 Line), Standard Range Card, Call for Fire, Warning Order, Soldier's Personal Data, MEDEVAC (9 Line), and UXO/IED Report (9 Line). The grid paper is useful for writing and graphing/mapping.

Field Binder Design: The green plastic binder measures 7 3/4" x5 3/4"x 1" with six snap rings. It has an inch ruler and a standard/metric conversion table inside the front cover. The back cover has a centimeter ruler and a clear plastic storage pocket. The paper measures 7" x 4 3/4". The binder provides 1/4-inch protection around the sheets, but is open at the top, bottom, and sides.

Performance: The paper will accept writing from ballpoint pens, pencils, and "space" (pressurized) pens when underwater, wet, and dry. New paper dries nearly instantly, the water beading and running off. After being soaked for12 hours the paper is slightly weaker and stays damp for half an a hour, but still works fine. The grain is vertical so it does not rip out of the binder easily. The loops on the binder are sturdy, although they might be jammed by coarse sand.

Recommendation: A highly recommended product, especially if you live in a damp climate or on the water. It is ideal for field tactical operations, or for something as mundane as leaving a note on someone's car window (pinned under their windshield wiper). If you can afford to, buy one for each of your vehicles and each tactical or G.O.O.D. pack. Rite in the Rain field binders and refills are available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. (Reviewed by #1 Son--A 13 year old Home schooled kid.)

Reading through the reams of articles and blogs concerning New Orleans, this AP piece stood out.  Notice that the person profiled is apparently a Vietnam veteran who had stockpiled food, fuel and firearms, lived in the war zone, and seemed to be just fine without bugging out.  And it made me think...
Yeah, we all want a 'retreat' - but this may be possible for less than 1 percent of Americans.  Are we as survivalists ignoring the efforts of the folks that are prepared to sit in place in an urban setting?  What training or informational resources would be appropriate to their situation?  I realize it's just about the same as for those of us who can buy/stock a retreat - but are there any specific things an urban dwellers needs to do differently?  Just a few thoughts on this matter:
Blackout curtains
Generator noise reduction (if used)
Disease risks with sewage/garbage system failures
Plans for an urban privy
Rooftop or backyard cisterns

JWR Adds: Don't forget a method for drawing, transporting and purifying water!
Just a side note...  I have attempted to volunteer to work as a police officer in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish providing my own food/shelter and doing so without pay.  I have not been rebuffed, but even FEMA has/had NO IDEA what to do with my offer or suggestions on a point of contact.  I am a peace officer in Colorado, and can get the time off.  Telephonic attempts, e-mail, all without answer. 
Nobody seems to know who would coordinate these things.  It had been suggested to me that I simply show up to volunteer - but this didn't seem to be the best course - I kept telling myself that SOMEONE would contact me.  Apparently there is no administrative infrastructure left at these two police agencies.
Contrast this attempt with that of a buddy of mine who contacted Gulfport PD in Mississippi - got asked by a deputy chief to 'come on down' the same day he contacted them to volunteer.    - L.D. in Colorado


You might want to have a section dedicated to the lessons we can learn from this. If you do, my two cents worth would be:
1-The authorities may cut off the water and phones-even if you are a politician. The Feds want you to go to an approved shelter-and they want control of all information. Your life is not really that important to them.
2-The shelter may lock you up for five days or so with no water, food, or medicine. And you can't get out-and charities won't be allowed to come to you.
3-The shelter may have druggies in need of a fix or even stray prisoners let out from a local jail.
4-Charities, the police, or just relatives may be prevented from coming across the only road into the area. Your need for water is not that important to the authorities.
5-You may or may not be allowed to leave on that one road depending upon how soon you try. It may become impossible once the Feds get there and declare that they are going to put down an insurgency. Your need for water is not that important to the authorities.

6-Your neighbors may save your life.
7-Stock up with everything, and store it well. Make that water-proof.
8-Have an extra water filter or two for your neighbors or friends.
9-Don't count on the government, at any level.

Best Regards, - "Patrick Henry"

"Along the debris-choked Mississippi River, pharmacist Jason Dove watches as people scramble in the parking lot of the downtown convention center for cases of airlifted water and shakes his head. 'We created this Frankenstein,' he says. 'It's showing how fragile this society is.'" -as quoted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, USA Today, Sept. 2, 2005.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Law and order are still scarce commodities on the Gulf Coast. It was reported yesterday (Sunday, September 4th) that police shot eight armed people, killing at least five of them, after gunmen opened fire on a group of contractors that were traveling across a bridge near New Orleans on their way to make repairs. Meanwhile, 200 of the formerly 1,500-strong New Orleans Police department have either formally resigned or have deserted, and two have committed suicide. WorldNetDaily and other sources have reported that looting and assorted acts of lawlessness are continuing in inland areas of Louisiana and Mississippi that were spared the worst of the hurricane's effect but that are still without power. I'd appreciate hearing some accounts from SurvivalBlog readers close to the scene that would confirm, deny, or clarify the foregoing.

If you want to donate to the relief effort, here is a fairly extensive list of relief organization contacts, courtesy of our friends of Little Green Footballs. I believe that it is best to donate to church-sponsored charities like ADRA, since their overhead is much lower than bloated bureaucracies like the Red Cross.

If and when it comes, TEOTWAWKI will certainly mean a disruption in food production and distribution. You should have enough food stored for your family to last a year, and much longer if you can afford it. Keep in mind that: you will need extra to dispense as charity, to your "head-in-the sand” relatives, to neighbors, friends, fellow church members, and refugees. So store lots of extra wheat, rice, beans, and honey. They are cheap now, but may be very expensive later.
You can “do it yourself” for nearly everything required for home food storage except canned powdered dry milk. It is messy to re-pack yourself, and because of milk’s butterfat content it only stores well for long periods with commercial nitrogen packing.

As previously mentioned, I sharply disagree with the LDS (Mormon) church on their religious doctrines, but I commend them for their food storage philosophy, practice, and infrastructure. Your local LDS ward probably has a cannery, and they will let non-LDS members use it on a “space available” basis. Members are usually on hand to train “newbies” how to operate the equipment.

Bulk wheat, rice, and beans are best stored in 5 or 6-gallon food grade plastic pails. Walton Seed in Montpelier, Idaho has excellent prices and they have top quality products.

If you use your own pails, make sure that they are certified “food grade” (buckets made for paint are not.) And if you re-use food grade buckets, make certain that they were only used for non-smelly foods. (Re-using pickle pails for rice will give you pickle-flavored rice!)

Alan T. Hagan has written an excellent FAQ on food storage. It describes some excellent methods. See:

Date mark all of your storage foods. Consistently use FIFO (First In, First Out”) rotation.
Buy replacement cooking oil and Crisco every two years. This will be your biggest “recurring loss” food storage expense. (Donate the old oil and Crisco that is nearing its expiration to your local food bank. If you have any vegetable oil that has gone rancid, it can be saved for use as biodiesel. See my previous posts on this subject.)
If you can adapt your diet, buy more stable oils such as peanut oil and coconut oil that have a longer shelf life. They re also more healthful than Crisco or liquid vegetable oils.
Canning lids and rings—buy plenty of extras for barter.
Salt—stock up in quantity, particularly if your retreat is more than 30 miles inland!
Sulphur for drying fruits.
Vinegar-Buy a couple of cases of one-gallon bottles.
Don’t forget:
Baking soda.
Food storage (freezer and vacuum) bags.
Aluminum foil (Buy lots! 101 uses, including making improvised solar ovens.)
Deer bags.
Dog Food. Note: One of my old high school buddies, Scott T. who is now an attorney once quipped “A real survivalist would eat his dog.” But seriously, if your dog(s) will be useful for providing security, then store two years of dog food. Make sure that the dog food has a low fat content (for better long term storage) and that you store it in vermin-proof containers. Galvanized trash cans work fine for this purpose. You can get away with storing much less dog food if you live in an area with profuse deer, bear or elk; or if you raise a lot of livestock. Rotate your dog food just like you do the rest of your storage food.
Date mark all perishable foods with a medium point Sharpie pen. If you have a lot of canned goods to mark, then a date stamp will work.
Rotate your foods consistently. Always place the newest cans at the back of the shelf. Keep a multi-year rotation calendar.
Long term storage multi-vitamins and other food supplements: You should plan to supplement with a good quality double encapsulated multi-vitamin, a good quality B-complex tablet, and a 500-milligram vitamin C tablet. See Vita Cost for some of the least expensive vitamins and nutritional supplements available via the Internet. They should be consumed and replaced at least every three years. Store them in a cool, very dark place. (Light kills vitamins quickly!)
Natural laxatives. (Your diet may shift heavily toward meat, and this could cause problems. Plan ahead.) Bulk Metamucil is one option.
Preservation Methods:
Most families should do their own wet-pack canning and dehydrating. We also buy commercially canned (nitrogen packed) foods, some freeze dried foods, and some MREs (retort packaged.) As I will describe, some methods are more appropriate than others for certain foods.
See Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living (published by Sasquatch Books)--a MUST for every survivalist's bookshelf. The basic guideline for edibility is 2 years for meats and other "high acid" foods, and 4 years for all others. (See Carla’s book for a complete chart.) Edible, yes, but keep in mind that the nutritional value won't all be there in four years. So store as many vitamins as you can rotate without going past expiration dates. (Roughly three to four years worth, unless you have an ultra cold medical freezer--I'd love to find one of those, used. They cost $3,000+, new!)
Nitrogen Packing is good for roughly 8-to-10 years for most foods and much longer for whole grains. I do not recommend storing flour. It only keeps two or three years.
Whole wheat stores for 20+ years with 80% or more of its nutritional value. Buy whole grains and a hand wheat grinder.
I recommend buying commercially nitrogen-packed cans only for the items that don't store well otherwise (e.g. dehydrated peas, powdered milk, peanut butter powder, and textured vegetable protein (TVP).
You are better off buying some items in bulk (honey, whole grains, beans, and rice) and canning or otherwise "containerizing" them yourself. Canned nitrogen-packing of these items is ridiculously expensive, and there is very little advantage in storage life. Pack bulk grains and legumes in 5 or 6-gallon plastic buckets by yourself, and you will save a lot of money! Note: Make sure that you use oxygen-absorbing packets available from Walton's or the dry ice displacement method to kill all the bugs/larvae before you seal up each bucket. (Again, see Mr. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ.)
Commercially canned “year’s supply type units are needlessly expensive. (Even the salt comes canned. Talk about overkill packaging!) In the instance of wheat, you are paying two to five times as much for the product because of the packaging. (My most wheat purchase was at just $11 per hundredweight! Of course, I had to re-pack it all in six-gallon buckets.)

I do recommend MREs as a supplement to a well-rounded food storage program. Because they are fairly compact, lightweight, and require no cooking , they are ideal to pack in your "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) backpack (or "BOB").

My old friend who has profile under the pseudonym Mr. Tango had a round of correspondence with the U.S. Army's Natick Laboratories in Maryland, on the potential storage life of MREs. Like all other storage foods, MREs must be stored at low temperature to maximize their shelf life. The data that they sent him was surprising. Here is the gist of it:

Degrees F / Months of Storage (Years)
120 / 1 month
110 / 5 months
100 / 22 months (1.8 Years)
90 / 55 months (4.6 Years)
80 / 76 months (6.3 Years)
70 / 100 months (8.3 Years)
60 / 130 months (10.8 Years )

Note 1: The figures above are based on date of pack, rather than inspection date.
Note 2: MRE’s near the end of their shelf life are considered safe to eat if:
A.) They are palatable to the taste.
B.) They do not show any signs of spoilage (such as swelled pouches.)
C.) They have been stored at moderate temperatures. (70F or below.)
Note 3: Not enough data has yet been collected on storage below 60 degrees F. However, projections are that the 130-month figure will be extended.
Note 4: Time and temperature have a cumulative effect. For example: storage at 100 degrees F for 11 months and then moved to 70F, you would lose 1/2 of the 70F storage life.
Note 5: Avoid fluctuating temperatures in and out of freezing level.
JWR’s Comments on MREs: The above-cited figures are for palatability, not nutritive value. You should plan on storing vitamin supplements. Again, vitamins should be stored in a cool, very dark place for the longest shelf life. (Many tablets are light sensitive—this explains why they are usually packed in dark brown bottles rather than clear glass.) I recommend rotating your vitamins every two years. The bottom line is that most of the fat, carbohydrates, and protein will still be available in MREs, even after many years of storage, but the vitamins will not. Plan accordingly.
Because MREs and other emergency foods are relatively high in bulk and low in fiber, I also highly recommend storing a bulk fiber supplement with each case of MREs. Don't overlook this precaution! Also, get yourself some sprouting supplies, and practice sprouting before The Crunch. Sprouts are an ideal source of vitamins and fiber!

I wanted to let you know that a correction needs to be made in your statement that copper is toxic to sheep and goats. I own dairy goats on our homestead. Copper is indeed toxic to sheep, BUT COPPER IS CRITICAL FOR THE GOOD HEALTH OF GOATS.  In fact copper sulfate is given as a supplement at times, especially with the darker goats to keep them from turning chocolate brown instead of the black coat color they should have. The belief that copper is toxic to goats is a common misconception and I have had nearly knock down drag-down fights with different feed store employees who didn’t want to sell me the copper salt blocks when they knew I had goats. See David Mackenzie’s excellent “Goat Husbandry” for more information, or “Natural Goat Care” by Pat Coleby. Both available from - Midwest Farm Mom

JWR's Reply: I defer to to your experience and study on the subject. I have corrected my original post. Many Thanks!

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
An overlooked area for putting meat on the table is trapping and snaring. Perhaps the reason is it is an almost lost skill because most people live in cities or the suburbs today. However, WTSHTF it may mean the difference between having meat on the table or none at all when, if the supply runs out. Those who live in cities and suburban areas normally have squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, deer, raccoons and other edible animals available if they have the knowledge and equipment to obtain them. Many in rural areas who are preparing plan on using a firearm to obtain their meat because they too lack trapping and snaring skills and equipment. I am attracted to trapping and snaring for manifold reasons. One, it provides a means to obtain food without drawing attention by the sound of a firearm going off, thus providing an almost silent means of acquiring meat in almost any environment. Two, traps and snares can be used repeatedly year after year making them one of the cheapest investments in long term food gathering. Three, IMHO, traps and snares will be high on the list of bartering items in some areas when, if TEOTWAWKI occurs. Four, using traps and snares increases your firepower by saving bullets. "Buckshot" Bruce Hemming, one of the best trappers in North America can teach everyone in their own home by using the same videos the United States Rescue & Special Operations Group uses to teach their students.  The knowledge from the videos may save your life. The professional grade traps and snares sold here were chosen for military aviator survival kits through extensive testing of several commercially available traps and snares. There is a wealth of survival information and products to check out for knowledge and ideas whether one lives out in the boondocks or in the heart of the city. See: Buckshot's Camp  
- "F1"

JWR's Reply: I agree wholeheartedly with all of the points in your letter. I have done business with Bruce Hemming for more than 10 years. He really knows his stuff, and he sells top quality products at great prices. His videos are a must for every serious survivalist.

I just checked with both and ABE books and there's probably a couple hundred copies of The Alpha Strategy by Pugsley available from used book sellers around the country. I just ordered mine and thanks for a great blog! - J.K.

I know you get a lot of email! But I found an interesting web site. It is one man's experience with handguns, yet very practical. It covers lots of issues with handguns. Fun to read if you have the time. Fred (The Valmet-Meister)

"It's downtown Baghdad," said tourist Denise Bollinger, who snapped pictures of looting in the French Quarter. "It's insane." (as quoted by The Associated Press, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina)

Sunday, September 4, 2005

The floodwaters have not yet subsided, but the Monday Morning Quarterbacking, finger pointing, and general recriminations about the FedGov's handling of Hurricane Katrina relief effort have already begun. For example, see the quotes posted Chrenkoff's blog.

Meanwhile, the MSM is frantically backpedalling, apologizing for having been so insensitive. They've realized that in their haste to report the news that they actually televised images of black people breaking into stores and taking other people's property and referring to it as looting. I have news for them: It was looting. It is both a crime and it is a Biblical sin. And it wasn't just blacks that were doing it. Whites and Hispanics were looting too. But since the New Orleans population is predominantly black, the TV camera crews just didn't happen to catch folks of other races in the act. Shame on the looters, and shame on the MSM for being so spineless and Politically Correct.

Stocking a retreat is a complex series of tasks that should be done dispassionately. It will be expensive and may take several years, so make your purchases systematically and in strict order of priority.

At present, the only items that I would recommend bumping up in priority would be the private acquisition of your core firearms battery. (One rifle, pistol, and shotgun for each adult family member, and a .22 rimfire rifle for each child.) With talk these days about “closing the gun show loophole” (requiring a paper trail on all gun purchases), this should be one of your top priorities!

For Starters...
Go through your cabinets with clipboard in hand and calculate what you use at home every month. Everything: from envelopes to toothpaste to paper towels to motor oil to teriyaki sauce. Everything! Then do some multiplication, depending on how long you expect to have to hunker down. Then double or triple those numbers, depending on how many extra people are likely to show up at your retreat on TEOTWAWKI+1. And there will almost certainly be newcomers! Just look at the number of people from the Gulf Coast displaced by Hurricane Katrina last week that just drove a thousand miles or more and are ending up on the doorsteps of their relatives. Some of them have very few possessions. I imagine that a future full scale TEOTWAWKI will create dislocations and refugee mass migrations an order of magnitude larger. So be prepared to dispense lots of charity, and be prepared to have a lot of people under your roof.

Keep shelf life in mind. (You can’t store 10 years worth of vitamins, because they won’t store that long unless you buy an ultra-cold medical freezer.) You will soon find that you’ll need a lot of shelving, plus metal mouse-proof lockers for the items that come in paper or plastic packages. Buy your shelving and lockers used, from a surplus office or industrial supply house.
One key reference on stocking your retreat is the book The Alpha Strategy, by John Pugsley. Sadly, this book is long out of print, but it should be available via inter-library loan. Borrow a copy and make yourself photocopies of the most important sections.

Start your retreat stocking effort by first composing a List of Lists, then draft prioritized lists for each subject, on separate sheets of paper. (Or in a spreadsheet if you are a techno-nerd like me. Just be sure to print out a hard copy for use when the power grid goes down!) It is important to tailor your lists to suit your particular geography, climate, and population density as well as your peculiar needs and likes/dislikes. Someone setting up a retreat in a coastal area is likely to have a far different list than someone living in the Rockies.

As I often mention in my lectures and radio interviews, a great way to create truly commonsense preparedness lists is to take a three-day weekend “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” with your family. When you come home from work on Friday evening, turn off your main circuit breaker, turn off your gas main (or propane tank), and shut your main water valve (or turn off your well pump.) Spend that weekend in primitive conditions. Practice using only your storage food, preparing it on a wood stove (or camping stove.)

A “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” will surprise you. Things that you take for granted will suddenly become labor intensive. False assumptions will be shattered. Your family will grow closer and more confident. Most importantly, some of the most thorough lists that you will ever make will be those written by candlelight! (Note: I've posted the two preceding paragraphs before, but it bears repeating.)

Your List of Lists should include: (Sorry that this post is in outline form, but it would take a full length book to discus all of the following in great detail)

Water List
Food Storage List
Food Preparation List
Personal List
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
Nuke Defense List
Biological Warfare Defense List
Gardening List
Hygiene List/Sanitation List
Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
Power/Lighting/Batteries List
Fuels List
Firefighting List
Tactical Living List
Communications/Monitoring List
Tools List
Sundries List
Survival Bookshelf List
Barter and Charity List

JWR’s Specific Recommendations For Developing Your Lists:

Water List
House downspout conversion sheet metal work and barrels. (BTW, this is another good reason to upgrade your retreat to a fireproof metal roof.)
Drawing water from open sources. Buy extra containers. Don’t buy big barrels, since five gallon food grade buckets are the largest size that most people can handle without back strain.
For transporting water if and when gas is too precious to waste, buy a couple of heavy duty two wheel garden carts--convert the wheels to foam filled "no flats" tires. (BTW, you will find lots of other uses for those carts around your retreat, such as hauling hay, firewood, manure, fertilizer, et cetera.)
Treating water. Buy plain Clorox hypochlorite bleach. A little goes a long way. Buy some extra half-gallon bottles for barter and charity. If you can afford it, buy a “Big Berky” British Berkefeld ceramic water filter. (Available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. Even if you have pure spring water at your retreat, you never know where you may end up, and a good filter could be a lifesaver.)

Food Storage List
See my post tomorrow which will be devoted to food storage. Also see the recent letter from David in Israel on this subject.

Food Preparation List

Having more people under your roof will necessitate having an oversize skillet and a huge stew pot. BTW, you will want to buy several huge kettles, because odds are you will have to heat water on your wood stove for bathing, dish washing, and clothes washing. You will also need even more kettles, barrels, and 5 or 6 gallon PVC buckets--for water hauling, rendering, soap making, and dying. They will also make great barter or charity items. (To quote my mentor Dr. Gary North: “Nails: buy a barrel of them. Barrels: Buy a barrel of them!”)
Don’t overlook skinning knives, gut-buckets, gambrels, and meat saws.

Personal List
(Make a separate personal list for each family member and individual expected to arrive at your retreat.)
Spare glasses.
Prescription and nonprescription medications.
Birth control.
Keep dentistry up to date.
Any elective surgery that you've been postponing
Work off that gut.
Stay in shape.
Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.
Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example, even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance rather than a crucial event.
“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books, games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)

First Aid /Minor Surgery List
When tailoring this list, consider your neighborhood going for many months without power, extensive use of open flames, and sentries standing picket shifts exposed in the elements. Then consider axes, chainsaws and tractors being wielded by newbies, and a greater likelihood of gunshot wounds. With all of this, add the possibility of no access to doctors or high tech medical diagnostic equipment. Put a strong emphasis on burn treatment first aid supplies. Don’t overlook do-it-yourself dentistry! (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction tools, et cetera.) Buy a full minor surgery outfit (inexpensive Pakistani stainless steel instruments), even if you don’t know how to use them all yet. You may have to learn, or you will have the opportunity to put them in the hands of someone experienced who needs them.) This is going to be a big list!

Chem/Nuke Defense List
Dosimeter and rate meter, and charger, radiac meter (hand held Geiger counter), rolls of sheet plastic (for isolating airflow to air filter inlets and for covering window frames in the event that windows are broken due to blast effects), duct tape, HEPA filters (ands spares) for your shelter. Potassium iodate (KI) tablets to prevent thyroid damage.(See my recent post on that subject.) Outdoor shower rig for just outside your shelter entrance.

Biological Warfare Defense List

Hand Sanitizer
Sneeze masks
Colloidal silver generator and spare supplies (distilled water and .999 fine silver rod.)
Natural antibiotics (Echinaecea, Tea Tree oil, …)

Gardening List
One important item for your gardening list is the construction of a very tall deer-proof and rabbit-proof fence. Under current circumstances, a raid by deer on your garden is probably just an inconvenience. After the balloon goes up, it could mean the difference between eating well, and starvation.
Top Soil/Amendments/Fertilizers.
Tools+ spares for barter/charity
Long-term storage non hybrid (open pollinated) seed. (Non-hybrid “heirloom” seed assortments tailors to different climate zones are available from The Ark Institute
Herbs: Get started with medicinal herbs such as aloe vera (for burns), echinaeca (purple cone flower), valerian, et cetera.

Hygiene/Sanitation List
Sacks of powdered lime for the outhouse. Buy plenty!
TP in quantity (Stores well if kept dry and away from vermin and it is lightweight, but it is very bulky. This is a good item to store in the attic. See my novel about stocking up on used phone books for use as TP.
Soap in quantity (hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, cleansers, etc.)
Bottled lye for soap making.
Ladies’ supplies.
Toothpaste (or powder).
Fluoride rinse. (Unless you have health objections to the use of fluoride.)
Livestock List:
Hoof rasp, hoof nippers, hoof pick, horse brushes, hand sheep shears, styptic, carding combs, goat milking stand, teat dip, udder wash, Bag Balm, elastrator and bands, SWOT fly repellent, nail clippers (various sizes), Copper-tox, leads, leashes, collars, halters, hay hooks, hay fork, manure shovel, feed buckets, bulk grain and C-O-B sweet feed (store in galvanized trash cans with tight fitting lids to keep the mice out), various tack and saddles, tack repair tools, et cetera. If your region has selenium deficient soil (ask your local Agricultural extension office) then be sure to get selenium-fortified salt blocks rather than plain white salt blocks--at least for those that you are going to set aside strictly for your livestock.

Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
“Buckshot” Bruce Hemming has produced an excellent series of videos on trapping and making improvised traps. (He also sells traps and scents at very reasonable prices.)
Night vision gear, spares, maintenance, and battery charging
Salt. Post-TEOTWAWKI, don’t “go hunting.” That would be a waste of effort. Have the game come to you. Buy 20 or more salt blocks. They will also make very valuable barter items.
Sell your fly fishing gear (all but perhaps a few flies) and buy practical spin casting equipment.
Extra tackle may be useful for barter, but probably only in a very long term Crunch.
Buy some frog gigs if you have bullfrogs in your area. Buy some crawfish traps if you have crawfish in your area.
Learn how to rig trot lines and make fish traps for non-labor intensive fishing WTSHTF.

Power/Lighting/Batteries List
One proviso: In the event of a “grid down” situation, if you are the only family in the area with power, it could turn your house into a “come loot me” beacon at night. At the same time, your house lighting will ruin the night vision of your LP/OP pickets. Make plans and buy materials in advance for making blackout screens or fully opaque curtains for your windows.
When possible, buy nickel metal hydride batteries. (Unlike the older nickel cadmium technology, these have no adverse charge level “memory” effect.)
If your home has propane appliances, get a “tri-fuel” generator--with a carburetor that is selectable between gasoline, propane, and natural gas. If you heat your home with home heating oil, then get a diesel-burning generator. (And plan on getting at least one diesel burning pickup and/or tractor). In a pinch, you can run your diesel generator and diesel vehicles on home heating oil.
Kerosene lamps; plenty of extra wicks, mantles, and chimneys. (These will also make great barter items.)
Greater detail on do-it-yourself power will be included in my forthcoming blog posts.

Fuels List
Buy the biggest propane, home heating oil, gas, or diesel tanks that your local ordinances permit and that you can afford. Always keep them at least two-thirds full. For privacy concerns, ballistic impact concerns, and fire concerns, underground tanks are best if you local water table allows it. In any case, do not buy an aboveground fuel tank that would visible from any public road or navigable waterway. Buy plenty of extra fuel for barter. Don’t overlook buying plenty of kerosene. (For barter, you will want some in one or two gallon cans.) Stock up on firewood or coal. (See my previous blog posts.) Get the best quality chainsaw you can afford. I prefer Stihls and Husqavarnas. If you can afford it, buy two of the same model. Buy extra chains, critical spare parts, and plenty of two-cycle oil. (Two-cycle oil will be great for barter!) Get a pair of Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps. They are expensive but they might save yourself a trip to the emergency room. Always wear gloves, goggles, and ear-muffs. Wear a logger’s helmet when felling. Have someone who is well experienced teach you how to re-sharpen chains. BTW, don’t cut up your wood into rounds near any rocks or you will destroy a chain in a hurry.

Firefighting List
Now that you have all of those flammables on hand (see the previous list) and the prospect of looters shooting tracer ammo or throwing Molotov cocktails at your house, think in terms of fire fighting from start to finish without the aid of a fire department. Even without looters to consider, you should be ready for uncontrolled brush or residential fires, as well as the greater fire risk associated with greenhorns who have just arrived at your retreat working with wood stoves and kerosene lamps!
Upgrade your retreat with a fireproof metal roof.
2” water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide large water volume for firefighting)
Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
Smoke and CO detectors.

Tactical Living List
Adjust your wardrobe buying toward sturdy earth-tone clothing. (Frequent your local thrift store and buy extras for retreat newcomers, charity, and barter.)
Dyes. Stock up on some boxes of green and brown cloth dye. Buy some extra for barter. With dye, you can turn most light colored clothes into semi-tactical clothing on short notice.
Two-inch wide burlap strip material in green and brown. This burlap is available in large spools from Gun Parts Corp. Even if you don’t have time now, stock up so that you can make camouflage ghillie suits post-TEOTWAWKI.
Save those wine corks! (Burned cork makes quick and cheap face camouflage.)
Cold weather and foul weather gear—buy plenty, since you will be doing more outdoor chores, hunting, and standing guard duty.
Don’t overlook ponchos and gaiters.
Mosquito repellent.
Synthetic double-bag (modular) sleeping bags for each person at the retreat, plus a couple of spares. The Wiggy’s brand FTRSS (Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System) made byWiggy's of Grand Junction, Colorado is highly recommended. (See my recently posted review.)
Night vision gear + IR floodlights for your retreat house
Subdued flashlights and penlights.
Noise, light, and litter discipline. (More on this in future posts--or perhaps a reader would like to send a brief article on this subject)
Security-General: Locks, intrusion detection/alarm systems, exterior obstacles (fences, gates, 5/8” diameter (or larger) locking road cables, rosebush plantings, “decorative” ponds (moats), ballistic protection (personal and residential), anti-vehicular ditches/berms, anti-vehicular concrete “planter boxes”, razor wire, etc.)
Starlight electronic light amplification scopes are critical tools for retreat security.
A Starlight scope (or goggles, or a monocular) literally amplifies low ambient light by up to 100,000 times, turning nighttime darkness into daylight--albeit a green and fuzzy view. Starlight light amplification technology was first developed during the Vietnam War. Late issue Third Generation (also called or “Third Gen” or “Gen 3”) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,500 each. Rebuilt first gen (early 1970s technology scopes can often be had for as little as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for under $100. One Russian model that uses a piezo-electric generator instead of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used as backups (in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars you can afford. They may be life-savers! If you can afford to buy only one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or better) tube. Make sure to specify that that the tube is new or “low hours”, has a high “line pair” count, and minimal scintillation. It is important to buy your Starlight gear from a reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists and scammers. One dealer that I trust, is Al Glanze (spoken “Glan-zee”) who runs STANO Components, Inc. in Silver City, Nevada. Note: In a subsequent blog posts I will discuss the relationship and implications to IR illuminators and tritium sights.
Range cards and sector sketches.
If you live in the boonies, piece together nine of the USGS 15-minute maps, with your retreat property on the center map. Mount that map on an oversize map board. Draw in the property lines and owner names of all of your surrounding neighbor’s parcels (in pencil) in at least a five mile radius. (Get boundary line and current owner name info from your County Recorder’s office.) Study and memorize both the terrain and the neighbors’ names. Make a phone number/e-mail list that corresponds to all of the names marked on the map, plus city and county office contact numbers for quick reference and tack it up right next to the map board. Cover the whole map sheet with a sheet of heavy-duty acetate, so you can mark it up just like a military commander’s map board. (This may sound a bit “over the top”, but remember, you are planning for the worst case. It will also help you get to know your neighbors: When you are introduced by name to one of them when in town, you will be able to say, “Oh, don’t you live about two miles up the road between the Jones place and the Smith’s ranch?” They will be impressed, and you will seem like an instant “old timer.”

Security-Firearms List

Guns, ammunition, web gear, eye and ear protection, cleaning equipment, carrying cases, scopes, magazines, spare parts, gunsmithing tools, targets and target frames, et cetera. Each rifle and pistol should have at least six top quality (original military contract or original manufacturer) full capacity spare magazines. Note: Considerable detail on firearms and optics selection, training, use, and logistic support will be covered in a forthcoming SurvivalBlog posts. In the interim, read my FAQs.

Communications/Monitoring List
When selecting radios buy only models that will run on 12 volt DC power or rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs (that can be recharged from your retreat’s 12 VDC power system without having to use an inverter.)
As a secondary purchasing goal, buy spare radios of each type if you can afford them. Keep your spares in sealed metal boxes to protect them from EMP.
If you live in a far inland region, I recommend buying two or more 12 VDC marine band radios. These frequencies will probably not be monitored in your region, leaving you an essentially private band to use. (But never assume that any two-way radio communications are secure!)
Note: More detail on survival communications gear selection, training, use, security/cryptography measures, antennas, EMP protection, and logistical support will be covered in forthcoming blog posts.

Tools List
Gardening tools.
Auto mechanics tools.
Bolt cutters--the indispensable “universal key.”
Woodworking tools.
Gunsmithing tools.
Emphasis on hand powered tools.
Hand or treadle powered grinding wheel.
Don’t forget to buy plenty of extra work gloves (in earth tone colors).
Sundries List:
Systematically list the things that you use on a regular basis, or that you might need if the local hardware store were to ever disappear: wire of various gauges, duct tape, reinforced strapping tape, chain, nails, nuts and bolts, weather stripping, abrasives, twine, white glue, cyanoacrylate glue, et cetera.

Book/Reference List

You should probably have nearly every book on my Bookshelf page. For some, you will want to have two or three copies, such as Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living. This is because these books are so valuable and indispensable that you won’t want to risk lending out your only copy.

Barter and Charity List
For your barter list, acquire primarily items that are durable, non-perishable, and either in small packages or that are easily divisible. Concentrate on the items that other people are likely to overlook or have in short supply. Some of my favorites are ammunition. Jeff Cooper refers to it as “ballistic wampum.” WTSHTF, ammo will be worth nearly its weight in silver. Store all of your ammo in military surplus ammo cans (with seals that are still soft) and it will store for decades. Stick to common calibers, get plenty of .22 LR (most high velocity hollow points) plus at least ten boxes of the local favorite deer hunting cartridge, even if you don’t own a rifle chambered for this cartridge. (Ask your local sporting goods shop about their top selling chamberings). Also buy at least ten boxes of the local police department’s standard pistol cartridge, again even if you don’t own a pistol chambered for this cartridge.
Ladies supplies.
Salt (Buy lots of cattle blocks and 1 pound canisters of iodized table salt.)
(Stores indefinitely if kept dry.)
Two cycle engine oil (for chain saw gas mixing. Gas may still be available after a collapse, but two-cycle oil will probably be like liquid gold!)
Gas stabilizer.
Diesel antibacterial additive.
50-pound sacks of lime (for outhouses).
1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner and Break Free (or similar) lubricant.
Waterproof dufflebags in earth tone colors (whitewater rafting "dry bags").
Thermal socks.
Semi-waterproof matches (from military rations.)
Military web gear (lots of folks will suddenly need pistol belts, holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
Pre-1965 silver dimes.
1-gallon cans of kerosene.
Rolls of olive drab parachute cord.
Rolls of olive-drab duct tape.
Spools of monofilament fishing line.
Rolls of 10 mil "Visqueen", sheet plastic (for replacing windows, isolating airspaces for nuke scenarios, etc.)
I also respect the opinion of one gentleman with whom I've corresponded, who recommended the following:
Strike anywhere matches. (Dip the heads in paraffin to make them waterproof.)
Playing cards.
Cooking spices. (Do a web search for reasonably priced bulk spices.)
Rope & string.
Sewing supplies.
Candle wax and wicking.
Lastly, any supplies necessary for operating a home-based business. Some that you might consider are: leather crafting, small appliance repair, gun repair, locksmithing, et cetera. Every family should have at least one home-based business (preferably two!) that they can depend on in the event of an economic collapse.
Stock up on additional items to dispense to refugees as charity.
Note: See the Barter Faire chapter in my novel Patriots for lengthy lists of potential barter items. I will have lots more on barter in a forthcoming blog posts. (BTW, I would greatly appreciate your suggestions via e-mail to add to the preceding list!)

“Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food-free" - Thomas S. Monson, "That Noble Gift--Love at Home," [LDS] Church News, 12 May 2001, 7).

Saturday, September 3, 2005

I again recommend reading Interdictor's blog --direct from the central business district of New Orleans. There is nothing quite like reading something from the perspective of someone who has "boots on the ground". Please keep all of those affected in your prayers!

Next, a letter from our regular correspondents, "John and Abigail Adams" in Ohio:

It looks like we will be seeing some relief in regards to gasoline and diesel supply and prices in the very near future. Crude oil is now being shipped into Ohio and the refineries are producing product once again! Supply is opening up and prices are dropping! Some stations in our area have run dry, but they should be re-supplied shortly. Our cost on 87 octane is currently at $3.41 per gallon, it will drop around 23 cents per gallon this evening. Hopefully nothing else will take a swing at us, if not we should be looking at normal prices and supply within a week or two.

Also the federal government has made steps to easy supply on diesel fuel. See the following message that I received this afternoon.

IRS WAIVES DIESEL FUEL PENALTY DUE TO HURRICANE KATRINA: The Internal Revenue Service, in response to shortages of clear diesel fuel caused by Hurricane Katrina, will not impose a tax penalty when dyed diesel fuel is sold for use or used on the highway. This relief applies beginning August 25, 2005, in Florida, August 30, 2005, in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and August 31, 2005, in the rest of the United States, and will remain in effect through September 15, 2005. This penalty relief is available to any person that sells or uses dyed fuel for highway use.

Many states have been rationing diesel to truckers on the interstates, hopefully this too will pass shortly! Things are looking up. - John & Abigail Adams.

JWR Adds: Isn't that just like a Federal bureaucracy to formulate differing dates for the suspension of the tax penalty. Oh well, at least it is some goods news for a change!


On Retreat Selection: (SAs: Relocation, Retreat Selection)

Deciding exactly where to relocate is not an exact science. You can gauge the potential threat and plan accordingly. But you can never be sure what will happen and where you will truly be safe. But you can sleep well, knowing that at least your percentage chances will be higher if you make the move.

There is an apocryphal story about a man who was living in Virginia in the late 1850s. He could see the U.S. Civil War brewing, and he wanted no part of it. He realized that his native Virginia was likely to be heavily contested territory, so he set about finding the safest place possible where he could shelter his family during the coming war. After much searching and deliberation he finally found a peaceful place that was far, far away from where the anticipated the battles would occur. He moved his family up to Pennsylvania--a little farming town called Gettysburg.

Basic Criteria
Once you have selected a potential region to concentrate on, select an experienced local real estate agent. Odds are that you won’t be able to find one that specializes in retreat properties. So it may take a while and a few false starts before your agent starts showing you the right type of properties. The following is a basic criteria list that you can give a real estate agent. (Tailor to suit your particular needs):

Plentiful water--preferably spring fed or an artesian well. (Pumped well water would be an inferior second choice.)

Good exposure for gardening and photovoltaics.

Not on a flood plain.

Southern exposure (for those reader in the northern hemisphere, naturlich)--particularly important at higher elevations

"Panoramic views”. This usually means a hilltop location with open fields of fire and defendable terrain.teh concept of holding high ground goes back to pre-history. Yes, I know, that this is mutually exclusive with the concept of having a house that is not in line of sight of any major road. TANSTAAFL. Decide on one or the other. But don't buy a place that has neither attribute.

A diverse and healthy local economy.

Minimal noxious weeds. (Russian Thistle, Teasel, Russian Knapweed, Yellow Star Thistle, etc.)

Not in the path of real estate developers. Look at where suburban developments have been established in the county. Suburban tracts tend to follow a “line of march” in certain directions—especially where there is level terrain. Note that in most regions row crop farmland and orchard land is at the greatest risk because it is easy to subdivide. Put on your thinking cap and do some extrapolation. If your intended area is in the path of the sprawl within 10 to 15 years then start looking in a different direction in less advantageous terrain, or a little further out of town.

If it has an existing house, a house with fireproof/ballistically-protected (e.g. masonry) construction. Note: If it is also in an earthquake prone area, you might weigh the odds in this regard and opt instead for more earthquake safe timber-frame construction.

Low housing costs. As discussed in detail in some of my previous blog posts, don’t overlook examining as many factors as possible including home and car insurance rates, property taxes, and so forth. This useful Internet tool compares cost of living in two cities.

My personal preference is to select a retreat in a mixed farming/ranching/timber region in low-humidity western state, preferably in the inland northwest. I generally discourage folks from living in coastal regions for health reasons, risk of tidal waves or hurricanes, oil tanker mishaps, visits by foreign terrorists, and the outside chance of dramatically rising or falling sea levels in the event of a climate shift. I also discourage relocating to anywhere within 150 miles of the Mexican border. (Note: I'm not a racist--just a realist. The crime rate is higher near the border, and in the event of civil war in Mexico or any number of variations on TEOTWAWKI there could be a huge influx of illegal immigrants.)

Consider giving priority to a rural region where you have deep family roots. Even if you have just a few scattered relations in the area, if your surname is familiar then you will have the instant cachet of an “old timer“ in the eyes of most locals. So if you have relatives living in a rural area in any of my “Top 19” western states (you can refer to my posts about these states next week), then you might start your search there. That is something that would otherwise take a decade or more. To enhance these familial ties, get busy researching your genealogy and how you are related by blood and marriage to other local families. Share that information widely, and you will build extremely valuable bonds that will be remembered when The Crunch comes.

I have been searching through our tiny food storage auditing its contents. We have been slowly adding to the contents since we moved but it still is enough for only about two weeks. Since we eat what we store it is much more mixed than the econo basic mix of:

Flour or red wheat
Sugar or honey
Oil or Crisco
Powdered milk

The price tag for my laying in a supply of all of the above was $200-300 when I bought in the USA, years ago. The items on this list are fine if you are going to go buy a year supply today for emergencies while you are building a proper food larder, they are also perfect for helping out neighbors in need. Red wheat properly packed in sealed oxygen free containers lasts longer, retains more nutrition, and is able to be sprouted for part of it's useful life. A good grinder is among the top items to buy for your family, cheap grinders are on the market but the burrs and parts will not survive the year you are expecting to survive off of your reserves. The highly touted Country Living grain mill [hand powered/convertible to electric] is over $300 that is a months rent for me! I have a Back to Basics mill which seems to be the lowest rated on the market.

The other end of the spectrum of survivalist buys several pallets of MREs to live off of, price tag over ten thousand dollars for just 3 people. The payoff to MREs is that after a day of exhausting work drop a few packets into boiling water or a MRE heater and you have dinner, throw everything away and get some sleep.

We have decided to take the middle road. Prepared canned food that can be eaten with a spoon is cheap storable and can be included into our weekly food rotation. If there is a family in need we can give freely without having the weirdness of handing out military grade goodies. Packing away olives, corn, crackers, Graham crackers [aka digestive biscuits, for those of you in the British Commonwealth], peanut butter, tomato sauce, pasta, you get the idea now--stuff you eat every day but rely on your own just in time delivery system. If you have successfully stored an item for too long [without eating any of it] cross it off the list, you are unlikely to eat it unless starvation sets in and unwelcome food is a good way to destroy morale during hard times. Rotate and consume your food stores, but keep track of popular foods and boost their quantities in your pantry.

The sanitation problem may be one of the worst aspects of the tragedy in New Orleans. Polluted water is full of parasites which once ingested inhabit the digestive tract causing dysentery or even cross over into other organ systems. In a flooded world people are dying of dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. The best way to combat bad water is with a large gravity filtration system like the Big Berkey [British Berkefeld ceramic water filter, in a stainless steel housing, made in England] or its plastic cousin filter for a whole family with little effort. Hand filters are good for camping but require a person to spend time every day at the water collection point pumping for all of the days water needs, in an emergency especially when food is restricted plans to eliminate extra exertion must be put into place.

Clean water is not just for drinking but also for food preparation washing of hands and face and washing surfaces and vessels which contact food. If you fear that there are larger parasites such as Giardia or Cryptosporidium. Longer treatment periods are required to kill these parasites. Often, if infected, the treatment for these parasites is Flagyl aka Metronidazole. Speak to your doctor about a prescription for Metronidazole.

Sodium hypochlorite--better known as household bleach--can be used for the following purposes: A 1 in 5 dilution of household bleach with water (1 part bleach to 4 parts water) is effective against many bacteria and some viruses, and is often the disinfectant of choice in cleaning surfaces in hospitals. The solution is corrosive, and needs to be thoroughly removed afterward, so the bleach disinfection is sometimes followed by an ethanol disinfection.

For shock chlorination of wells or water systems, a 2% solution of household bleach is used. For larger systems, HTH is more practical because lower rates can be used. The alkalinity of the sodium hypochlorite solution also causes the precipitation of minerals such as calcium carbonate (lime), so that the shock chlorination is often accompanied by a clogging effect. The precipitate also preserves bacteria, making this practice somewhat less effective. Sodium hypochlorite has been used for the disinfection of drinking water, at a concentration equivalent to about 1 liter of household bleach per 4000 liters of water is used. The exact amount required depends on the water chemistry, temperature, contact time, and presence or absence of sediment. In large-scale applications, residual chlorine is measured to titrate the proper dosing rate. For emergency disinfection, the U.S. EPA recommends the use of 2 drops of 5%ac household bleach per quart of water. [JWR Adds: Be sure to stock up on PLAIN household bleach. Check the label before you buy! The only ingredients should be sodium hypochlorite and water. Formulations with scents added or any other ingredients are probably toxic.]

If infected with intestinal parasites the treatment is Flagyl (aka Metronidazole) Speak to your doctor about a prescription for Metronidazole or the other meds mentioned in the Wikipedia articles.

A request for your comment on best hand powered grain grinder for us poor folks. The Back to Basics? The Corona? (The Country Living is $350!) - D.J.

JWR Replies: A hand grain grinder is an important tool to have on hand. They are essential for grinding corn and wheat, which are of course indigestible unless ground. (Soaking wheat in water overnight to make "wheat berries" will suffice, but flour is what you'll need for most recipes.) If you can possibly afford one, buy a Country Living mill. They work well hand powered, and they are also set up to take a V-Belt so that they can be converted to be powered by an electric motor or even from a bicycle frame for someone that has mechanical skills. They are available new from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. You might look for used ones on eBay. They don't come up for auction in used condition very often, but you might be fortunate enough to get one for under $250.

For someone on on a tight budget, the Corona is probably the best bet. They are not designed for a lifetime of use, but they will do the job. You can occasionally find them at thrift stores in the western United States. Otherwise, new, they are typically around $75. For those of you Down Under, these are also available in Oz.

“God gives all me all earth to love,
but since man’s heart is small,
ordains for each one spot shall prove,
beloved over all.” - Rudyard Kipling

Friday, September 2, 2005

I'm amazed that in just the blog's first 28 days we've had 23,500+ unique visits and over half a million page hits! Thank you, folks! Please continue to spread the word about When your friends, neighbors, and co-workers bring up the subject of Hurricane Katrina and its after-effects, please mention SurvivalBlog to them. Hopefully, reading this blog will get them motivated toward some concrete preparedness and substantive charity.

I'm sorry that I can no longer send many personal replies to your emails. I hope that you understand that I have to concentrate my effort and make the best use of my time. I'll try to primarily cover the aspects of Hurricane Katrina that are getting overlooked by the MSM.

First and foremost, the following brief e-mail from B.D.B. in Baton Rouge:

I just found this site. It’s a blog from a guy down in the central business district of New Orleans that still has access to the Internet. I think he also has a web cam that he’s trying to keep available.

JWR Adds: A simply amazing blog. Talk about "first person" reporting! Follow the photo link URLs. Its like looking at news footage of Beirut in the 1980s...

Next, this e-mail from regular blog contributor B.H.:

Just spoke to my father who is a driver out of Birmingham, Alabama. He is gassed up and ready to get to South Georgia to a small town of Thomasville to pick up ice. They are making and bagging around the clock. He will caravan with five other trucks to Meridian, MS where the Army is staging 200+ semi’s at the state fairgrounds. They have set up a secure temporary truck stop with showers and three squares-a-day.

They must wait to be deployed with full armed escort vehicles to deliver to disaster zone. There is no diesel fuel from Mile Marker 50 at near Atmore, Alabama until you get to East Texas. Ice and water are being brought in from Missouri, Arkansas and as far away as Illinois.

The only access to NawLens is from the West-Zero access from all other sides.

Lastly, a tip of the hat to Claire Wolfe's blog for pointing me to this interesting discussion on the nationwide ramifications of Hurricane Katrina.

More tomorrow... Stay tuned.

When doing radio interviews or giving lectures, I'm often asked where the "perfect" place is for a survival retreat. The short answer is: There is none. Granted, there are a lot of places that are much better than others, but there is no single "one size fits all" perfect place. Like buying a pair of boots, the decision has as much to do with the size and shape of the foot as it does the maker of the boots. Everyone has their personal needs and expectations. Some people prefer dry climates while others can't stand them. Some folks like the feeling of privacy provided by a wall of trees where others would feel claustrophobic. Some need the stimulation of exposure to the arts, while others could care less. And some have good health, while others need to live close to medical specialists.

Even more importantly, before deciding where you might move, you have to weigh the Risks and Benefits of moving at all. From an actuarial standpoint, you might have nearly as good a chance of living to a ripe old age if you stay in the suburbs. It all depends on your personal "worst case scenario". If your worst case is an economic depression similar to that of the 1930s--with a relatively intact infrastructure--then you might conclude that there is no need to relocate. (You can just "stock up" and stay put where you are.) But if your worst case is a full scale whammy--such as a terrorism campaign that levels cities and/or causes a long term grid-down societal collapse, then you will probably want to move to a remote, lightly populated farming region with plentiful water. I'm not in the business of making scenario-based decisions for people. Those decisions are up to you, as an individual. Once you decide that you definitely want to move, then, yes, I certainly have some good suggestions on potential locales for you.

Lastly, as a Christian, I believe that any major decision should be preceded by prayer. Seek God's providence for your life. You can only do that if you have repented of you sin and have begun a Christian walk. In deference to the nature of this forum and the wide range of views held by my readers, I won't go into great detail about this. But you know where I stand.

You may have concluded by now that while my husband is a "guns and groceries" style survivalist, I can more accurately be called a homesteader. A modern homesteader is a person who tries to live self-reliantly on their own land. Our satisfaction and peace of mind come from growing our own food, heating with our own fuel, and even knowing how to make our own clothes if necessary! Happily survivalism and homesteading dovetail nicely.

My homesteading mindset was developed early in my childhood as I listened to parents and grandparents talk about living through the Great Depression. My father’s parents were town people. His Dad soon lost his job at the newspaper. They had meager savings. My father said after that they ate potatoes--just potatoes. At harvest time each year they found a bit of work picking fruit. Then they ate whatever fruit they were picking, and only that fruit. Then it was back to potatoes again. And forget about money for new clothes, or gas for the car, or doctor's bills, or anything else.

Meanwhile, my maternal Grandpa worked in town as a machinist, but they always lived out in the country on a small farm. Grandpa cultivated a large garden and orchard, had a few milk cows, raised a couple of hogs, and Grandma raised 100 chicks every year to sell as fryers. My mother’s father lost his job during the Depression too. But they had fresh milk and butter from their cows, eggs, chicken, and beef and pork, fruits and vegetables in season, and lots of canned produce. (Plus my mother’s family still had a small income and a ready source of barter from the farm produce.) It so happened that their house was next to a church on a rural highway. And many times Grandma fed “poor folk” who had come to their house thinking it was the church parsonage. And she could--because of the bounty of their farm!

My Dad had a miserable youth through the Depression. He suffered a profound change in quality of life as they experienced extreme poverty. My Mother on the other hand, did not experience much of a change because her parents were self sufficient on their farm. I intend to emulate my self sufficient grandparents. And with God’s grace, my family will have a good quality of life--no matter what the economy does.

How to Find your Ideal Country Home by Gene GeRue. 1999 Edition, Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67454.
I had my first look at this book back in 1994, when the author contacted me after having read the draft edition of my novel The Gray Nineties. (Which was then available as shareware.) At the time, Gene GeRue had just come out with his first edition. I was impressed with how thorough he was. His premises were sound, and his research was excellent. Imagine my surprise this year when I found an updated edition. It is even more thorough, and even more detailed!

GeRue systematically details the criteria to look for in a country home. He hits all of the key factors: climate, topography, soil, vegetation, water, demographics, agriculture, services, taxes, land/home prices, and so forth. He includes a lot of fairly detailed maps.

The author also includes a section on analyzing you. This is important and shouldn't be overlooked. It is important to understand your personal needs, expectations, and personality. Some people just aren't cut out for living in the country! The book also delineates between wants, needs and fantasies. Sometimes people have preconceptions that require a "whack upside the head."

This book is not all "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm." There are some great doses of reality--such as finding a job or developing a home-based business before you move to the hinterboonies. He also discusses risks such as flood plains, fire prone regions, prisons, toxic waste, radon gas, incineration, and so on. he also describes the factors in choosing an existing home versus building on bare land.

I highly recommend this book. Referring to the content of GeRue's book as a baseline, you can add the factors that you find important for a true survival retreat. (See my previous blog posts for some suggestions.)

Not looking good these days. It is chaos down south. Those poor people, may God be with them in their time of need. What is your opinion on the current state of
the union? Gas prices, oil supplies in doubt. Do you think this could be the harbinger of an economic 9/11? I hate to admit it, but I do.

JWR's Reply: Perhaps you might be right. There is the outside chance that this could be "it": You know, The Big One. WTSHTF. Total wipeout. The Day. TEOTWAWKI. The Crunch. But something that drastic would surely take several more dominoes falling first. (Read my August 5/6/7 posts for details on my conception of a full scale TEOTWAWKI sequence of events.)

Something big such as a major earthquake or a major terrorist incident could tip several dominoes all at once. The next likely domino after something like a fuel crisis would be a major jump in interest rates. I think that because of Katrina the Federal Reserve may stop its current cycle of raising interest rates, and could in fact start to nudge them downward. That could keep the housing bubble inflating even longer. (So when it does pop, it will be worse.) Also, consider the home construction and home supply sector (the latter including companies like Home Depot and Lowe's) which had been faltering, may actually benefit from Katrina.

The big imponderable is the drag on the economy caused by the present upward spiral of fuel prices. At the minimum, I think that this could throw us back into a recession. Worst case is that it could cause a depression, exacerbated by the concomitant pop in the housing bubble. (Read: A very painful and a long term economic whammy--perhaps a decade or more.)

Buckle you seat belt. We are in for a roller coaster ride. IMHO the Hurricane Katrina disaster means that the likelihood of a hyperinflationary depression (a la my novel Patriots) has increased. (That would be Uncle Sugar's expedient solution to a dollar crisis. They could just inflate their way out of it and conveniently wipe out the national debt in the process. (Along with everyone's life savings--virtually anything invested in anything denominated in U.S. dollars. That explains why I emphasize investing in tangibles.) But regardless, try to get out of debt, because if things tip into a deflationary depression, it will be even more severe than the 1930s.Being a debtor in the midst of a deflation is a Very Bad Thing (VBT).

Most importantly, pray for God's guidance, providence, and protection. That is our only real hope. Trust in God to put you in the right place at the right time, with the right friends. Blessed assurance is the best insurance of all.

"My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a New Creation. Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
it sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
songs in the night it giveth. No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing? When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing? In prison cell and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging,
when friends by shame are undefiled
how can I keep from singing?"

-The Traditional Shaker Hymn How Can I Keep From Singing, popularized by Enya

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Please continue keep all of the folks in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and surrounding states in your prayers! Please donate generously to your local church relief agency or to the American Red Cross. Charity is our Christian duty!

You can use the current Hurricane Katrina situation to emphasize to your relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers just how fragile our society is. Do your best to convince them that it is prudent to stock up. I'd appreciate it if you could also tell them about SurvivalBlog.

Hurricane Katrina Update (SAs: Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Relief, Lessons from Katrina)

Things have gone from bad to worse on the Gulf Coast. Here are some tidbits that were phoned to me on Wednesday by a regular SurvivalBlog reader who is currently in close proximity to New Orleans. (He cannot currently send e-mail.):

1.) In New Orleans, looters are shooting at police stations, in one instance with a semi-auto AK-47. The looting is completely out of hand, and spreading.

2.) Jefferson Parish Louisiana Sheriff Harry Lee has issued a "shoot to kill" order.

3.) At the Super Dome (cum Relocation Center) there have been countless armed robberies, suicides, rapes, and three murders in the past 72 hours. Conditions are intolerable there (with no running water and no sanitation, so it has been ordered evacuated. Several thousand Super Dome evacuees are being bussed/trucked to the Houston Astro Dome. At least the electricity is working there...

4.) The level of the 13th Street has now essentially equalized with Lake Ponchartrain. Huge 7,000 pound sand bags are being lowered from Chinook helicopters into the levee breaches, but no success yet.

5.) New Orleans residents are caravanning in large numbers to Baton Rogue, and are now putting a tremendous stress on that city.

6.) A local radio reporter that was airlifted to safety from a badly flooded region reported that he saw "hundreds of bodies" floating the water when his helicopter was en route.

7.) Locals in have cleared the roads of fallen trees in many areas around New Orleans (using chainsaws), but no normal commerce has resumed.

7.) All of the local television stations are off the air.

Well, I was lucky enough to be outside the edge of Katrina’s rampage here in Baton Rouge. I can attest that is was no picnic here and the devastation is widespread and intense.

Beginning on Sunday morning refugees came pouring into town fleeing New Orleans and by mid-day traffic westbound on I-10 was crawling. People were swarming the stores buying supplies and fuel. Gasoline disappeared very quickly but diesel fuel seemed readily available (no surprise there.) Many people were buying useless supplies though, things such as dairy products, meats, vegetables, and such. There was a distinct tension and sense of near panic in the shopping centers in this area. As the day progressed, the clouds started picking up and the wind began blowing, and refugees clogged the major roadways. Many of them had no plan of action; they were just driving west away from the storm but had no plans on where they would go or stay. Many of them had no clue that there were other roads besides the interstate or other major highways.

As of today, there are at least 100,000 refugees in shelters here in Baton Rouge, and probably that many staying with friends and family here in town. There are refugees in every other southern city within driving distance of the coast. Anywhere within say 300 miles of the affected area will have large numbers of refugees--some with with nothing but the clothes on their backs--and nothing to return home to. We have power and water here, but communications channels are choked. Fuel is in short supply but holding out. There is a definite tension in the air, and it’s going to happen soon…refugees will get frustrated and hungry to the point that they may riot or begin looting. There is widespread looting and lawlessness in affected areas of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Looters are firing on the police, police officers trying to help them are getting hit, helicopters and planes are coming under small arms fire. Areas of New Orleans are now under martial law and I’m fully expecting that case to be expanded to other areas such as Gulfport and Biloxi. This disaster will directly impact not only our local economy, but the economy of the rest of the nation. Oil production is shut down not only offshore, but in the refineries as well; transportation systems are damaged; businesses are under water and their employees are out of a job for an unknown duration; the Ports of New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile are not functional; and the list goes on. If this isn’t a SHTF situation, I don’t know what is.

Here is a quick update on the gasoline and diesel fuel supply situation in Ohio. As I write this there are 15 oil refineries down in the US, either from storm damage or
lack of power. There are 3 pipelines down due to lack of power, limiting the flow of crude oil to the north. One refinery in Canton, Ohio, our main supplier of gasoline and diesel fuel in this area, has been closed since Monday, because there was no crude oil to refine.

Abigail and I work for a company that is a bulk supplier of gasoline and diesel fuel. Today (8/31) we are out of "On road" diesel fuel and have feet of "off road" diesel fuel in our tank. I have had several semi loads on order since Tuesday morning, but none have been delivered. We are rationing out the remaining product, as our supplier has no idea when he will be able to deliver us any product. I have contacted other suppliers and received the same answer

The industry “word” is that supply interruptions can be expected to last from one to six weeks. If this continues for more than a few days then stations will be running dry.

Our cost on 87-octane gasoline today is in excess of $3.00 per gallon. I do not want to raise a panic here; however I think your readers should be making whatever arrangements they can to get their tanks topped off.

This may not, and should not last very long, and I certainly hope not, but one thing is for certain…for now the fertilizer has struck the ventilation system.

As always if there are any questions feel free to send them our way. - John & Abigail Adams.

I'm a big fan--I have read your novel (Patriots) several times and consider it vital to every home library. I have extensive family in the south. I gave a copy of your book to my cousin T. in Pensacola. They have weathered the last two hurricanes and have come out on the financial up side-they specialize in commercial garage doors. They’ve made a killing after each storm. They have several generators and months of MRE’s for employees, family and neighbors. They used swimming pool water to flush toilets after Ivan.

I also have two cousins in central Mississippi. No word yet but they are both armed well and quite survival minded. One manages a Wal-Mart Supercenter-if it’s still there and stocked. I’ll get some intel on central Mississippi later today.

My father is in Birmingham and they are running out of diesel fuel. He is a long haul driver who has been summoned to Huntsville, Alabama because their power is down and a large food distribution center is out. They need him to get there ASAP so they can transfer frozen food to Nashville before it thaws and spoils. Power is out intermittently over most of Alabama and parts of North Georgia. Cell phones are also sporadic.

We have cousins in Louisiana who have evacuated to Kalifornia to be with family. One cousin is a school counselor-word is no school until after Thanksgiving, if they are lucky. One cousin returned home to Eastern Louisiana and the flood waters had receded but their Acura was gone-floated away. My great aunt’s small town is still under water-a total loss.

Just spoke to my cousin in Madison, Mississippi. Power is back on and phones are down. Cell phone on but some towers are down. Things getting back to normal pretty quickly- he called me from work. Most of the damage is downed trees and every ‘good ol boy’ with a chain saw got busy as soon as the storm passed. But the coast line is a completely different story. No access or economy for months.

As if you needed any more proof what you wrote in Patriots is correct, consider these snippets from Fox News:

New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns.
He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were
fired at by criminals on the street. The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the gun section at a new Wal-Mart had been cleaned out by looters.
Authorities said an officer was shot in the head and a looter was wounded in a shootout. The officer was expected to

The Schumer has hit the fan in the South. - B.H. in Spokane

I have read you blog for a couple of weeks now. Since shortly after you started it, I believe. In any case I do enjoy it. I noticed that you listed some Natural gas explosions from the past. There was a large explosion of another sort in 1947 in Texas City, Texas. It was caused by a fire on a ship filled with Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer. It killed almost 600 people and pretty much leveled the town. It is an interesting story and shows just how devastating even accidents can be, let alone deliberate acts!

Thanks for keeping us all on our toes. - T.P

The Mississippi Militia just went to Defcon 2. I am from the devastated area in South Mississippi. I am E&Eing back there tomorrow to the house. I have been preaching and preaching about TSHTF scenarios and using your book as the guide.

The real story has not been told. Hancock County still has not been surveyed and bodies are in trees. This will surpass 9/11 in death toll. Pray and prepare. We will keep up the good fight. Pray for us! - G.G.

I checked and REI was cheapest @ $10.50 ea. Called my local REI and they had none, but they checked and found that they had 244 in their one and only distribution center. They quoted two weeks for delivery. I ordered my six. But assuming perhaps 2 in stock at each store [JWR adds: Unlikely, given recent events] that's less than 500 available nationwide. That's less than 1 for every 12 SurvivalBlog readers... I wonder which future ransacked city their distribution center is in? Hope it wasn't New Orleans. Kind of unsettling how some things are really pretty scarce already.

Oh, I also have a Product Report: The MSR Chlorine Maker is GREAT as long as you have 6 VDC or a good supply of 3 volt lithium batteries. It came to mind while thinking of "Mr. Coffee" in Costa Rica. The MSR MIOX Water Purifier

Still the "old reliable" is what I have the most faith in, since I've used one since 1976 and that is: The Katadyn Pocket Filter with Output Hose
Regards, - The Army Aviator

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
Have you ever wished you could go back in time to a hardware store circa the late Forties, early Fifties? Imagine finding almost any style of kerosene or oil lamp including Aladdin (creates 60 watts of light using either kerosene or lamp oil) and the fuel for the lamps sold right in the store! Looking for hand powered tools? There are here! Crosscut saws? Yep, they got them. What about timber framing, logsmithing and wood carving tools? Look no further. Looking for self-sufficient dairy supplies? Come and get them! There are many garden tools to choose from too. Some tools you may never heard of before. Have you planned gas for mowing the lawn at the retreat? Forget it! Use one of those old fashion push mowers, except this one is brand new! Exercise and save fuel at the same time. When I was a kid, I liked to watch the grass fly as I mowed the lawn using one of these babies. Maybe yours will too. They have many other hand tools for lawn care available. Wouldn't be nice to have highly efficient electric washing machines and refrigerators? There are here too. Imagine having an old fashion kitchen fully supplied just like great grandma's. Everything you need to make it happen is here. Looking for wood heating stoves? There are several to choose from. Wondering what toys the children can play with when there is no electricity? Here are some old fashion ones that will bring back memories. Have you thought of a composting toilet? Read about the benefits and you might purchase one. There are about 14 types to choose from including a 1 pint flusher. Wondering which propane stove and or refrigerator to purchase? Check out what the Amish use for possibilities. If you are planning your retreat with antique flare, check out Heartland and Elmira kitchen appliances. They are awesome! There are books on every subject. Some are blacksmithing, canning, herbs used by the Amish, the secrets of starting a homestead or farm and the list goes on and on. If you are looking for something for self-sufficient living, chances are you will find it. No matter where you live it can be shipped right to your door. International orders are a specialty. There are so many items not listed many people plan a stop at the store while vacationing. This is a must check out Web site and store for all interested in self-sufficiency. I have made three trips and I am going back again! A scenic vacation can be planned by traveling the Old Lincoln Highway (US Route 250) to the store. It is in Kidron, Ohio. The store? Lehman's -Products for Simple, Self-Sufficient Living - F1

JWR's Reply: I have been doing business with Lehman's for 20+ years. They have a sterling reputation. They are our kind of people. OBTW, they should be advertising here! (Hint, hint.)

Dear James:
I have read in your book and in the blog site that you do not recommend the .223 round for a battle rifle. What do you think about the effectiveness of the 7.62 X 39 cartridge? I own an SKS and would like your opinion on the 7.62 compared to the .223 and also the .308. Also what is your opinion of the SKS as a battle rifle? As always, I appreciate your valued input. - Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR's Reply: Ballistically, the Soviet 7.62x39 (the standard cartridge for the SKS, AK-47, and clones) is almost identical to .30-30 Winchester. So it is better than .30 Carbine or .223, but not by very much. .308 Winchester is in whole 'nother class, ballistically. I only recommend SKS rifles as an interim rifle for someone that is on a very tight budget. The biggest limitation of the standard SKS is its top-loaded 10 round (stripper clip filled) fixed magazine. If you opt for an SKS then you should take some extra time shopping around to find one of the thumbhole stock models that were imported in the late 1980s--these are the SKS variants that use standard detachable 30 round AK-47 magazines. These are scarce but can sometimes be found (used) for around $225 to $275.

If you can afford a .308--even just a $300 to $400 CETME, then you should forget about getting a SKS or other semi-auto chambered in 7.62x39! remember that .308 Winchester / 7.62 mm NATO is a flat shooting man killer with 500+ meter range. In comparison, 7.62x39 is a barely capable man stopper with a rainbow trajectory and an effective range of only about 250 meters. For anyone that can afford $600 to $2,000 for their MBR, see my previous blog posts about FALs and L1A1s. Those are my preferred tools for serious social work.

Hello sir. My name is John [Surname deleted for OPSEC], and I'm an 0351 in the U.S. Marine Corps. I'm about to deploy with [unit designation deleted for OPSEC] to Ar Ramadi, and I wanted to open a line of communication before going. I read Patriots several years ago, and it truly changed my life. I only recently became aware of your blog, and having a lot of training [going on] and limited access to the Internet I was unable to contact you. However, I do wish to thank you. It introduced me to an entirely new mindset, and has helped shape my plans for the future.

I have a small favor to ask. If you feel it is unreasonable please don't feel bad about refusing. There is a free service called MotoMail that allows emails sent to the troops to be printed in-country and delivered in a sealed, bank type envelope within 24-to-48 hours. I would be greatly obliged if you could send periodic updates of your blog to me in this fashion. I'll have very limited computer usage time over there, and I intend to spend as much of this as humanly possible communicating with my wife. If you could send me your blog I wouldn't be tempted to spend time looking at it. :) The website for this is Any letters over 1K words will merely arrive in multiple envelopes.

Thank you again, and I'll be writing you from in-country. - John

"Pressure makes diamonds." - Gen. George S. Patton.

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