April 2007 Archives

Monday, April 30, 2007

My thanks to all of the recent Ten Cent Challenge subscribers. I'm glad to see that so many of you find SurvivalBlog informative, useful, and worthy of support. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, but an increasing number of readers are being noble and signing up for the Ten Cent Challenge. Some of you that are "secret squirrels" just mail cash or anonymous money orders, with no return address. That is appreciated just as much. My sincere thanks!

How do you rate caltrops for retreat defense? Would they flatten tires quickly enough to be useful? Perhaps on a long driveway? Thanks, - LKP

JWR Replies: Caltrops have been used as a defensive measure for centuries. I have my doubts about their utility in daylight, but they might prove useful at night. To be useful in daylight for defense against vehicle-borne looters approaching a retreat slowly, caltrops or tire spikes would have to be concealed, which is a huge legal liability. Because we live in very litigious times, I DO NOT recommend using caltrops or tire spikes in in anything but an absolute worst-case TEOTWAWKI situation, where you are completely on your own to defend your retreat, and there is no longer a functioning law enforcement or court system. Using them in any lesser situation is an invitation to a hugely expensive civil lawsuit and possible criminal sanctions. An ambulance-chasing attorney would have a field day, and the likely result would be that you would lose everything that you own in settling a lawsuit. Ironically, this is an example of where using deadly force against an intruder (namely, a firearm) is less likely to result in a lawsuit than a non-lethal weapon. Civil court juries tend to be very sympathetic to "maimed" plaintiffs, and are prone to award disproportionately huge "pain and suffering" damages.

Caltrops and tire spikes are banned in some states in the US, and Australia.

With all that said, commercially made caltrops are available, as are tire spike strips, although most manufacturers will only sell them to law enforcement agencies ordering on department letterhead. The best of these use hollow spikes, so they can defeat even self-sealing tires. And example of this type is the HOllow-Spike TYre Deflation System (HOSTYDS), manufactured in the UK.

In relation to the question about casting bullets from battery lead: There are a few things you need to keep in mind when dealing with things like old batteries and such. The first is, when lead-acid cells are drained, the metallic lead is converted into lead sulfate. So the ideal battery to use for this is one which is fully charged. I suppose it is technically possible for you to take an uncharged battery, and cook the plates down with a dry base such as sodium hydroxide (mineral wood ash--pour water through wood ashes, remove solids will give you some hydroxide salts KOH/NaOH) and then you are likely to get anything not reduced off as dross.
The other issue is, most batteries have some pretty strange alloy compositions. In many cases antimony, calcium, and strontium are added to the lead to improve it's structural qualities. While antimony is a good thing, the calcium and strontium do not lend the alloy very desirable casting qualities. Which means your only choice is to try to burn these out. Thankfully both bond rather strongly with chlorine, so if you have a way of producing chlorine gas (electrolysis of salt brine, chlorine gas etc) it is possible to remove these impurities.
Then you have to add something back to the lead (usually tin) that will allow it to whet properly. If you look around, you can find hard lead shot, which often has up to 15% antimony, and occasionally 5-10% tin. If you are careful about weighing your starting materials you could come up with alloys which have the right characteristics for use in this.
As you mentioned, the wheel weights are a good source. At present I cast bullets commercially using wheel weight lead as my starting alloy (to which I add a proprietary number of components to make everything come out the way I want it). The problem is, I don't think I have enough time in the day to run around and collect the wheel weights from every vehicle I can see. The batteries are a much better source, but are likely out of reach for the amateur.
However, there is much more lead in a car than just the wheel weights. The radiators of most vehicles are full of lead. This is usually a 60/40 lead/tin alloy which is great for creating alloys with any wheel weights you are trying to get to turn out better. In most cases radiators can contain up to a pound, if not more, of lead.
Lead is a very common material. It is resistant to most corrosion, and is used in a wide variety of applications from radiation shielding to pipes in chemical plants, and lets not forget stained glass windows. (But then, I suppose if you're really hurting for raw materials, perhaps looting the church of the cames might be forgivable.)
If you are truly interested in a source of "after the crash" raw material supplies, look to see what is around you, there may be a harbor, or ship refitter nearby who uses lead for ballast in ships or sailboats, who may trade with you for a more usable product (ammo). Or it may just be abandoned. Lead, copper, and iron are sure to be the most important materials after a serious crash, either because they last in a metallic state, or because we made so much of it, that there is almost no way for it to return to it's natural state (an ore, oxide, sulfate etc). While aluminum is a commonly
recyclable material, it is difficult to produce without a lot of electrical energy, and the conveniences of gas powered mining equipment.
By far the best solution is to stock up now. I currently have a number of tire shops I have existing agreements with as far as lead [scrap wheel weight] collection. I regularly collect more scrapwheel weights than I need to meet my operating requirements. For the most part, I melt it down with the rest, ingot it out, and stuff it somewhere until ready for use.One true advantage of lead
is that it won't rot if I bury it. And if you cast big enough ingots no one is going to want to steal them ;) . The largest single ingot I cast was about 500lbs, it was 21"x21"x~20" Might have been a touch bigger. I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do with it, but I do know that I could leave it in any bad neighborhood and no one is going to be successful stealing it. Best of luck to you all. Sincerely, - AVL

“On a large enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” - Chuck Palahniuk

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Please consider writing an article for Round10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which began on April 1st and ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The recent discussion of firearms lubrication reminded me about a subject that I've meant to address again in SurvivalBlog: oil and lubricant storage for your retreat.  It is important to think through all of your oil and lubricant needs--everything from motor oil and transmission fluid to firearms lubes. Calculate what you use in a three to five year period, and stock up.  Then anticipate what you might need for barter and charity, and stock up even more. Because most families do not store any substantial quantity of oils and lubricants, they will make an ideal barter item in a long term Crunch.

One lubricant that is often overlooked in retreat logistics planning is two cycle engine fuel mixing oil. I predict that this will be like gold, post-TEOTWAWKI, since there aren't any decent substitutes. When TSHTF, suddenly everyone will be using their chainsaws a lot, but two cycle mixing oil will be in very short supply. You can be "the man of the hour", but only if you stock up. I recommend buying a couple of cases of small bottles of two cycle mixing oil. It will be a fantastic item for barter and charity.

For your long term TEOTWAWKI oil storage, I recommend that you store at least a few cases of non-detergent motor oil.  This is because detergent motor oils only store well for a couple of years.  In contrast, non-detergent motor oil store almost indefinitely. Look carefully at the label before you buy. (These days, even most inexpensive brands of motor oil contain detergents.)

For firearms lubrication, I generally prefer the Break Free CLP brand.  In a post-TEOTWAWKI environment, your guns will be your constant companions in all sorts of weather. So it is important to store gun cleaning and lubrication supplies in quantity

Safe storage for your oil and lubricants is essential. I recommend that you build a separate, dedicated, locking steel storage shed to store all of your flammables. Think in terms of a 20 foot long CONEX or perhaps a pre-fabricated metal shed that is well-removed from your other retreat buildings. Aside for a very small supply for day-to-day use, nearly all of your flammables should be stored in the outside shed:  kerosene, fuel canisters (propane, stove fuel, et cetera), lighter fluid, gas cans, paint cans, bore cleaner, various automotive/tractor fluids, paint thinner, chemical degreasers, decontamination fluids, and oils of all descriptions. If you store any powder, primers, or blasting caps, or fuse in this same shed, it is important that you store them inside separate ammo cans with tight-fitting rubber seals. Otherwise, the lubricant vapors will deaden them.

For your cars, trucks,a nd tractors, oil filters are more important to store than motor oil.  The myth of the obligatory 3,000 mile oil change has been perpetrated by the "30 minute oil change" industry, because they like to see their customers frequently, to enhance their cash flow. In fact, in the modern era of multi-weight detergent oils, oil changes are grossly over-done!  Unless a car engine is older and starting to grind metal, then your motor oil will usually have a much longer life than 3,000 miles. And just because motor oil is dark does not necessarily indicate that it needs to be changed. Many commercial fleet vehicles get no oils changes at all--just new filters installed. Then the same oil is put back in. Back in the 1980s the U.S.Army instituted the Army Oil Analysis Program (AOAP.)  Under AOAP, oil samples are periodically mailed to a centralized lab. Unless the lab detects a drop in viscosity, suspended metals particles, or contamination for any particular vehicle's oil, they direct units to re-use the oil and merely change filters.  (By the way, this program has saved the U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the past 20 years.)

Another tangential note: I've mentioned this in SurvivalBlog before, but it is worth repeating: Part of keeping your hand tools in proper condition is oiling them to prevent rust.  It is a good idea to keep a steel bucket with a tight-fitting metal lid, half-filled with sand that is soaked in fresh motor oil   (Don't use wood shavings or anything else that is flammable! And, BTW, don't soak the sand with used motor oil, because it has been documented as a carcinogen.)  After tasks like splitting wood or spading the garden, be sure brush off any clinging soil, re-sharpen your tools, and then plunge them into the oily sand and swish them around to give them light coat of oil will. This will greatly extend the serviceable life of your hand tools!

Hi Jim,
Greetings from Ohio. As a former NCO in Her Majesty's Canadian Forces, and a Winter Warfare instructor to boot, I'd like to suggest some additions to your excellent post regarding extreme cold weather firearms.
While having the proper lube is of high importance do allow me to suggest that some basic handling techniques are of equal importance.
Most importantly never bring your weapon near a heat source while operating in the deep cold. This is the most common mistake we would repeatedly see on operations. If you seeking shelter in any heated building/tent or so forth - leave the weapon outside. Properly covered up to protect from the elements.
This may seem contrary to all good tactical sense but any weapon brought in from the cold to the heat starts to sweat immediately, and unless you can guarantee you will have hours with no possibility of needing that weapon it will stop functioning the moment you return it outside.
The second suggestion I would offer is while you are outside in the deep cold unload your weapon and work the action at least once every hour if at all possible, given of course the tactical situation. There's many I time I saw soldiers being forced to unload their weapons and beat them against trees to free up the action. Not through any negligence regarding lube but simply from the fact that most parts are metal and we were in -70C conditions.
Following these two simple suggestion, along with proper lube as you've pointed out, in my experience working from 700 miles north of the arctic circle south to the border keep your weapons in working order the vast majority of the time.
One last tip is regarding your magazines. While metal mags can freeze if left attached for prolonged periods you should be very careful changing to plastic as extreme cold often causes feed lips to break very easily; always of course at the most inopportune moment.
Thanks so much for your work on the site and God speed. Cheers, - David

Mr R.:
Your blogs' post on Ca++ hypochlorite as a stable disinfectant stock for water treatment was golden advice.
I had some liquid chlorine bleach stored. It actually eroded out through the bottom of the plastic container. It dripped down and ate through steel mess trays underneath. Eroded completely. I remembered that chlorine is an oxidizer, and will do damage - duh ! - to organic material ... hence it's value as an antibacterial/anti-parasitic treatment. Cleaning up the dried bleach was irritating to eyes and airways. Again - duh ! - as terrorists in Baghdad have made evident.
Fortunately other gear was inside contractor bags/plastic crates, and damage was minimal. But, the lesson learned was great. And contractor bags are worth every penny. They are in all our fannies, bags, and packs
CERT protocols call for isolating / separating potentially caustic/toxic/flammable chemicals. Good advice.
Pool shock beats the h**l outta liquid chlorine bleach. Better advice.
Check your stocks / gear / supplies regularly - best advice.
Thanks, - MurrDoc

 RBS flagged this piece for us: Gold Demand is Growing And Supply is Not

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Yes another article on honeybee CCD. At least this one has some more scientific detail, but still no answers on the source of the problem.

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Economist Jason Hommel comments on: How to Buy Physical Silver, and Avoid Getting Scammed

"Perhaps catastrophe is the natural human environment, and even though we spend a good deal of energy trying to get away from it, we are programmed for survival amid catastrophe." - Germaine Greer

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mr. Editor:

My wife and I are nearing retirement and we are considering buying a piece of land for both our retirement home and for our retreat if the times get "interesting." This land is in Oklahoma, which currently has reliable rains but was "Dust Bowl" country, back in the [19]30s. How can I know for sure whether or not the soil is still good, or if it is "played out"? Thanks, - B.K.

JWR Replies: You've raised an important issue. The importance of soil quality in the event of a true "worst case" should not be overlooked. 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 family (or 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. Simply buying lunch for the soils specialist at the local Agricultural Extension office might be a valuable investment. That lunchtime conversation will probably tell you much more about your intended new locale than several days spent talking with a real estate agent. (They don't earn commissions by mentions the pros and the cons of a community.) 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 National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) desk. Note that the NRCS was formerly called the Soil Conservation Service.

Basic soil test kits are available by mail order. More sophisticated soil analysis services are also available by mail (where you mail soil samples to a laboratory.) Some universities offer free soil testing for state residents, but this often must be handled through the local NRCS office. Other universities will test soil samples for a fee, regardless of state residency.

I just returned from my 'vacation'. A day spent with top gunmaster Len Baxley and 3 days at the Medical Corps training.
Both are highly recommended. Baxley easily doubled my speed and got me to the point where I could make 95 yard shots at a torso sized plate with a Glock 19. This may not seem like much to some of you, but for me it was unthinkable before I saw him. At $50 an hour you're getting the deal of a lifetime. Then I went for the medical training. At $325 for 3 days it's another great buy. I learned about how to stitch a wound, set and take off a cast, pain management, pull a tooth, maintain a sterile surgical environment among other things.

As I think back to the times I've needed medial attention for me or my family, they fall into these 6 categories.

(1) Childbirth, (2) Antibiotics, (3) Dislocations, (4) Suturing, (5) Dentistry, (6) Optometry and roughly in that order chronologically. [My experiences related to these have been:]

1- Have kids
2- Kids get sick, sometimes requiring antibiotics
3- Someone falls out of a tree
4- Someone slips on a skateboard
5- Not flossing (I've now taken to the habit of brushing my teeth after every meal...)
6- Getting older
Even if no MZBs present themselves and I've got my now self sustaining farm going, I will still likely need to know these things. They will also allow me to barter for goods or for entry into other SHTF communities should I find myself in that most unpleasant situation of being a refugee. I will be furthering my medical skill set along these lines. Missionaries and charities also offer training in third world (TEOTWAWKI) medicine.
Knowledge is power. - SF in Hawaii

Hi James,
I am looking at purchasing some FN-FAL (metric) magazines and would like to know which are the best ones to buy? - John Y.

JWR Replies: As I mentioned in my FN-FAL/L1A1 FAQ, nearly all of the government issue 20 round metric FN-FAL magazines on the market were made on Belgian (FN) tooling, and work fine. (Such as Israeli, Brazilian, Argentine, et cetera.) Even used FAL magazines work fine if they have no dents. Since they are the most fragile part of the rifle and a large number of magazines might be needed WTSHTF, I now recommend buying at least 25 magazines per rifle. That might sound excessive, but I tend to look at retreat logistics from the imagined perspective of my yet-to-be-born grandchildren. I am confident that someday they will stand by my gravestone and thank me for my foresight. With nasty Federal gun legislation looming in the U.S., it is now a particularly important time to stock up on your "lifetime supply" of full capacity magazines. If you can afford to, buy some extras for barter. They may very well double or triple in value in the next year.

Some of the best prices on used FAL magazines can be found at: Inter-Ordnance, (and BTW they also have great prices on inch pattern L1A1 magazines) and the some of the best prices on new magazines can be found at: WhatACountry.com (They have brand new Israeli mags and Belgian magazines.) When contacting either company, please mention that you heard about them through SurvivalBlog, since hey are both likely candidates for SurvivalBlog advertisers. Thanks!

"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there." - Will Rogers

Friday, April 27, 2007

With the goal of increasing the readership of SurvivalBlog, I'd like to encourage every SurvivalBlog reader that has a web site establish a link to SurvivalBlog. This will raise our search engine rankings and put SurvivalBlog at the top of the search results list whenever someone searches on a survival or preparedness topic. Text and graphic links are available at our Link To Us page. Many thanks!

Hi, Jim,.
I don't remember this topic being brought up, so I'll ask about it. According to www.coinflation.com, the current melt value of a pre-1982 [U.S.] penny (95% copper) is $.02, twice its face value. The melt value of a [U.S.] nickel (75% copper, 25% nickel) is $.09, nearly twice its face value.
Melt value is, of course, dependent upon the metals markets, which fluctuate daily. While most metal prices have increased dramatically over the last few years, there's no guarantee they'll continue to rise (and prices might even fall), but at this point the long-term trend seems upward. With this in mind, do you see any point in stashing away the nickels and pre-1982 pennies that find their way into our pockets/purses from day to day? Several cans or jars of them wouldn't take up much storage space. Let me throw out a few (hopefully cogent) thoughts, then perhaps you can address them.
Copper is obviously a useful industrial metal, as might be the copper-nickel alloy found in nickels
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupronickel). I'm not suggesting melting these coins down, since it wouldn't be worth the effort unless you had a lot of them--and it's illegal besides! But in a post-SHTF or TEOTWAWKI economy, do you think they might retain enough value to be useful for very small transactions instead of (or as a complement to), say, junk
silver coins? They're small, nicely packaged, instantly recognizable, difficult to counterfeit, and contain (small) amounts of useful metals.
Perhaps most important, right now they are very easy to obtain in fairly large quantities and are inexpensive relative to their metal value. What are your thoughts? Great blog, by the way.
Thanks, - RB

JWR Replies: You are correct that pre-1982 pennies are 95% copper. (The later ones are zinc tokens that are just flashed with copper.) It has been said that "silver is the poor man's gold."  So I suppose that by the same token (pardon the pun) copper is the starving man's silver. However, per dollar value, pennies are extremely heavy and bulky. I guess that it wouldn't hurt to have a few rolls of pre-1982 pennies on hand to make "change" for junk silver barter transactions.  But from a practical standpoint, at current copper prices it is hardly worth your time to sort out the pre-1982 pennies. But it is not much trouble to save all of the nickels from you pocket change, or to ask the bank teller for a couple of rolls of nickels each time that you do a banking transaction. I've previously mentioned that there is apocryphal story about a church minister living in Germany in the 1920s--during the Weimar Republic hyperinflation. During the mass inflation, he saved all of the copper pfennigs from the donation plate. He eventually filled a disused bathtub with them. When the D-Mark paper money was finally totally repudiated (used for kindling), he and his family were able to eat and had extra for charity, due to his foresight. I think that it would take similarly traumatic times before pre-1982 pennies ever become an "investment."

OBTW, in the interim since I first wrote about this topic in SurvivalBlog (back in late 2005), the U.S. government has made it illegal to melt pennies, nickels, and dimes for scrap. But there is no law against saving them. And I suppose nickels could be beaten into hunting broadheads in a multi-generational TEOTWAWKI collapse. Isn't that a cheery thought?

Hey James,
I got the chance to see a cool AR [gas] piston system this past week at the NRA Convention in St. Louis. It is made by LWRC. They have a great video on their web site that explains in detail the design and benefits.
Personally, I’m an AK guy because I want absolute reliability and was willing to give up some accuracy if it meant my rifle went bang every time. Even with my Arsenal milled receiver, accuracy is improved but [still] not like an AR. I may switch back to an AR platform and give this a try. - Zac

From what I understand, Heckler & Koch will be producing neither full rifles nor uppers in semi-auto [U.S. civilian market] form at this time. I do believe, however, that Bushmaster is getting ready to produce a gas piston AR-style rifle.
I think that for the money you would eventually have to spend on a 416, you could most definitely buy a new SIG 556 rifle, which most people say is better. Personally, I'm saving my money for an AR-10. - LK from Wisconsin


One of the popular FN-FAL makers is [also] making a gas piston upper for the AR-15: DS Arms. - BMech

Hi Jim,
Just thought I would let you know that the music wire big buffer spring in all these [AR-15 family] weapons have a life expectancy of 25,000 rounds. But if you replace them with a flat chrome silicon buffer spring they have a cycle rate life expectancy of 500,000 rounds.
You can also improve your AR-15 bolt carrier by air brushing a baked moly or ceramic coating on them and you can install a chrome silicon extractor and ejector spring, want to know more you can contact me or call Marc at ISMI Gun Springs, at: (800) 773-1940 Regards, - Pistolsmith Teddy Jacobson


Dear Jim,
There actually has been very little trouble with troops using aftermarket parts on their M16s.
As near as I can tell, the first changes were the desert tan furniture that Cavalry Arms donated to many units, along with private purchase light mounts and optics, since only a few specific troops and units were issued these.
It has reached a point, according to a friend of mine deployed as a small arms repairer, that as long as the returned weapon matches the issue, commanders have stopped worrying about what happens in between. A search for photos will show that almost no two troops have quite the same configuration. After my unit returned from Afghanistan, I helped clean 200 M4s for return to depot, and a huge number still had aftermarket mounts on them, even with accessories removed.
One word of caution is that, while mod uppers and even sidearms are allowed in theater, very few commanders are willing to sign for non-MTOE gear to return from overseas. This is probably due to the liability risk of a soldier attempting to return a war trophy, which, while once common, is now prohibited.
I'm eager to try the HK 416, but won't be spending money on one until I've had a chance to. While there are limitations to the M16, I am familiar with them. I'm not prepared to trust H&K's marketing department that their version is without flaw.
Good advice for weapon platforms in Arabian conditions is to use dry graphite lube or no oil at all (if graphite is not available) in lieu of oil which will attract sand and create sludge. Remember that Arabian sand (especially in the South) is as fine as clay, and turns into cement like muck as it dries. Oil should be considered an expedient repair method during the mission if needed, and then cleaned thoroughly afterwards. I suspect a lot of malfunctions are due to troops being eager with oil. I have seen this happen even stateside.
A dry-lubed AR can actually blow its receiver clean of sand, and, from some operators, has an advantage in that regard. Of course, others are equally condemning. It's one weapon that almost no one is ambivalent about. - Michael Z. Williamson

Pakistan Ordnance Factory? Are you kidding? Slow down and get with the program! See: http://www.pof-usa.com/index.htm. Thanks for SurvivalBlog and "Patriots" . You have really helped me wake the People I care about up. - Mark

JWR Replies: That was indeed my mistake. Here is a quote from POF-USA's "Contact" web page page, that threw me: [begin quote]
P.O.F.-USA, INC. has engineered, manufactured and tested this system. We are extremely proud of the durability and performance of the P-415 / P-416 Gas-Piston uppers. We have eliminated features of the Gas Operating System such as gas-rings, gas tube, gas key. The P-415 / P-416 Gas-Piston system also eliminates Heat, Carbon build up and Gas Leaks which can have an adverse effect on the operating system. The biggest issue being "HEAT". A weapons first priority, must be "RELIABILITY".
We first displayed our gas piston uppers at the 2004 Shot Show. We have engineered the entire system using standard "AR15/M16" style parts such as the flat top receiver and bolt. We add only three additional parts to operate our gas piston uppers (Gas plug, Gas piston, and push rod). All uppers come standard with C.R.O.S. (Corrosion Resistant Operating System).
G3 / HK-91 PARTS
All items are new, made on HK licensed tooling from Pakistan Ordnance Factories and J.L.D. Enterprises, Inc.
MP-5 / HK-94 PARTS
All items are new, made on HK licensed tooling from Pakistan Ordnance Factories.
[end quote]
Up until they started making 415 and 416 uppers and lowers, most of POF-USA's parts were manufactured in Pakistan. The company got its start in partnership with Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF), and the the word "Patriot" was substituted for "Pakistan", for US marketing purposes. Nearly al of their HK91 and HK MP5 products were (and still are) made in Pakistan, at one of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories plants. So when I saw their 415 and 416 upper and lower assemblies advertised, I just assumed that they were also made in Pakistan. After receiving your e-mail, I contacted POF-USA to confirm this. But I was surprised to hear their reply: "Our gas piston system is 100% USA made and we are the patent holder and manufacturer!" It is good to hear that it is an American-made product, but disappointing to hear that they latched on to the "416" designation without using HK's technology. Obviously, the POF-USA upper gas piston parts will not interchange with original HK 416 gas piston parts. :-( Shame on me for assuming that because they used the HK "416" designation and because they had previously imported HK clone parts from Pakistan, that these new parts were also made by POF in Pakistan. I just went back and corrected my original post. Thanks to Mark for pointing out my error.

John O. sent us this link: Waiting for the Pandemic

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InyoKern spotted this article at an Aviation Week blog: Rebar arrows in East Timor. InyoKern's comment: " I never thought of this, but it has a certain post peak grim humor, doesn't it"

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More on honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD): Up to 90% Losses in Canadian Hives

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RBS suggested this web page on hobby forge, foundry, and casting. He also recommended this supplier: Centaur Forge.

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Whenever you contact any company that you see mentioned in SurvivalBlog, please mention where you saw their company name and/or web page link. Many of these companies are ideal candidates for advertising on SurvivalBlog. Please encourage them to get an ad. (Our ad rates are dirt cheap!) And of course please say thanks whenever you contact any company that is already a SurvivalBlog advertiser--even our Affiliate Advertisers. Thank you!

Dear Sir,
Perhaps there is a food storage site you could direct me to which would answer my questions. I know how to store most things (wheat, salt, etc.) but wonder if there is a way to store brown rice (I've heard it could go rancid) and how do you store coffee (my LDS friends who have helped me with putting things in #10 cans don't drink it, of course.) I'm assuming that storing coffee beans would be superior to storing ground coffee. When you get it at the store, sometimes it's vacuum sealed. I can do that with my vacuum sealer. What I want to know it the best way to package it for long term storage, in a not so cool and pretty humid place (Louisiana).
My family and I have appreciated your books and are praying about relocating. Thanks, Sarah A.

JWR Replies: The best on-line reference on food storage that I can recommend is Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ. The best hard copy books that I can recommend are Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens (available from www.mountainbrookfoods.com--one of our advertisers) and The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.

Rice is best stored in 5 or 6 gallon food grade plastic buckets, using either the 02 absorbing packet method, or the dry ice method. Both of these methods are described in Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ and in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. White rice stores better than brown rice, but its nutritive value is marginal. Brown rice has more natural oil, so it is indeed more prone to going rancid. So be sure to store it in the coolest part of your house. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we keep 200 pounds of rice in six gallon buckets on hand at all times, and systematically rotate it. (We use the oldest bucket first, and each time a bucket is consumed, we replace it with rice from a fresh sack.)

I also discuss coffee storage in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. I've been told that there is no perfect way to store coffee long term and still maintain connoisseur's taste quality. (For the folks that pan roast their own beans.) Packing fresh beans is problematic. Roasted whole beans can be vacuum packed, and they do store slightly better that ground beans. But for the purposes of average coffee drinkers, the vacuum-packed "bricks " of ground coffee beans store fairly well. Just be sure to protect them from vermin. Be sure to put your coffee bricks in food grade buckets or other sturdy containers. Post-TEOTWAWKI--along with other tropical produce--coffee will be scarce in North America and Europe, and hence should be a valuable barter item.

Mr. Rawles:

I want to pack a rifle and ammo in a grease/lubricant that would last for years. In hopes, that the gun and ammo would work say 10 to 20 years down the road. Can you tell me what grease is used for this type of packing? Thank You, - Steve A.

JWR Replies: Ammunition should NOT be coated with any sort of oil or grease. This is because oil and grease have been long-proven to deaden primers, not to mention the fact that all grease or oil would have to be entirely removed before firing, to avoid chambering problems. Ammo should simply be placed in a good quality military surplus ammo can with a soft lid seal. Include a freshly-dried 1/4-ounce packet of silica gel in each can (or two if you live in damp climate), to absorb any atmospheric moisture. That is al that you need to do. Stored in cans, most ammo will store for 80+ years, and still all go "bang." But I've seen ammo that was stored in a paint cabinet (exposed to fusil vapors) where half of the primers were dead after just a few years of storage. Oil vapors kill primers!

Guns should be thoroughly cleaned and copiously oiled and then their bores, chambers, and then their bolt faces should get a coating of Rust Inhibitive Grease (RIG). This is available from Brownell's and several other Internet other vendors. Unless you live in a very damp climate, the other metals surfaces should be safe from rust with just a light coat of gun oil, and wrapping in vapor phase corrosion inhibitive VCI paper (also available from Brownell's). For very damp climates or for extremely long term storage, you can apply RIG (or other grease heavy oil if RIG is not available) to all of the metal pats. But if you do so, it is generally best to remove guns from their wooden stocks, so that oil and grease don't soak and soften or discolor the wood.

When preparing guns for storage, be sure to attach a warning note to the barrel or trigger guard "WARNING: GREASE IN BORE AND CHAMBER. REMOVE GREASE BEFORE FIRING!" (If a cartridge is fired with grease in the bore, it could result result in a destroyed firearm and grievous injury to the shooter.)

Hawaiian K. turned up this interesting web page: the use of animals other than horses for draught and riding. K.'s comment: "Riding elk? Wow!"

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Reader RBS mentioned that C. Crane Company has a variety of articles on shortwave antennas and other radio topics available for free download. BTW, I consider C. Crane a great potential advertiser for SurvivalBlog, so if you do any business with them, please mention that you heard about C. Crane on SurvivalBlog.

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In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, Front Sight feels they have the answer to stopping further attacks on colleges and on school children. Front Sight is offering free firearms training to any school administrator, teacher, or full time staff member designated as school Safety Monitors. They have also offered free lifetime memberships to all of the students enrolled in Rumanian-born Professor Liviu Librescu's engineering class. As a survivor of the Holocaust, I think that Professor Librescu would have approved. "Never again!"

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A hilarious lecture, from Google's Authors Series: Daniel H. Wilson discusses his book "How to Survive a Robot Uprising"

“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” - The Dalai Lama, in The Seattle Times, May 15, 2001

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I've noticed that the SurvivalBlog readership in Australia and New Zealand is continuing to grow. Thanks for spreading the word! BTW, simply adding a linked SurvivalBlog banner or logo to your e-mail footer and/or to your web page will help increase our visibility. Many thanks!

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction is now at $475. This auction is for a scarce pre-1899 Mauser that was arsenal converted to 7.62mm NATO. (It was converted by the Chilean national arsenal, using original Mauser tooling.) It has a retail value of at least $375. The auction ends on May 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Mr. Rawles:
Just a few tips on the livestock side of things, in response to Samantha's piece on Livestock at Your Retreat:
- Your Mile May Vary (YMMV) on pasture needs. On the coastal plain, two acres per head of cattle will do quite nicely in most area. But in more "brittle" areas, such as the high plains, the East slopes of the Rockies, West Texas, etc, you will find yourself needing considerably more land than two acres per cow. (Check with your Agriculture college or county extension agent.) Hereabouts, one acre of good land will provide both grazing and hay for one healthy cow. (Can you see why I'm reluctant to leave this little slice o' Heaven -- even though it's rapidly turning into the PRK-North?) Topsoil depth, rainfall, and growing season length are the critical factors. Always calculate twice as must pasture and hay field per horse as per cow.
- I applaud Samantha for recommending a dual-purpose breed, such as Brown Swiss. They are sweethearts, and give some of the very best milk (Second only to the Jersey, which does not throw a very "good" beef calf -- but then, I grew up eating "sub-standard" beef from Guernsey/Hereford cross steers, and it didn't seem to hurt me much.) Another couple options are Milking Shorthorn and Galloways. The Galloways are a rare breed, so finding breed stock may be a challenge, but they produce meat superior to the best Angus (Properly: Aberdeen Angus) on grass alone, are the easiest calvers, are self-tending (Even wolves leave them alone!) and are tractable (easy to work with). For small acreage, Irish Dexters are another option. They're the pre-miniature beef miniature beef, and also give good milk. Birth defects (pugging) can be an issue, though.
- Cows do not need grain. In fact, they can't digest it properly. God designed them to eat grass -- nothing else. Feeding cows grain & meat products constitutes a perversion. (Which is why beef has gotten a bad name for being the major source of "bad" cholesterol -- the grain turns to the worst kind of fat, whereas grass-fed beef produce high amounts of the "good" cholesterol.) Around here, the perfect mix is Timothy pasture grass mixed with red top clover and Alsace (The old-timers pronounce it "Al-Sacky") clover. It also makes excellent horse pasture and hay. The two clovers up the protein content and palatability plus give you the added benefit of capturing nitrogen from the atmosphere (If you use inoculated seed.) You will want to grow grain for your horses -- they can use it. Plus, you'll want it for chickens and other fowl -- not to mention for making bread, oatmeal, etc., for you and yours.
- Water, water everywhere -- and there'd better be enough for your cows to drink! Besides grass the other essential for raising cattle is a reliable source of clean water. Cows drink a lot!
- Hay & hay storage. Around here, you need to plan on storing one ton of hay per head of cattle, two tons per horse. No, no, no! You don't need a bunch of mechanical equipment to make hay. You can make the very best hay with just a scythe, a wooden hay rake (think of a long-handled wide-headed garden rake), and a pitch fork. The old rule-of-thumb was one good man could mow five acres a day with a scythe and two boys who were worth their feed could get it raked into windrows and have the morning's mow in the cock by sundown. Figure half that until you been doing it for a few years. But you do need covered storage for it, because nothing bleeds off nutrients from hay like getting rained on. (But make sure your hay is fully cured before putting it in the barn -- else you'll get a nasty lesson in spontaneous combustion.) How many acres do you need to cut? Purdue [University's agriculture department web site] has some rule-of-thumb calculations.
You can figure that you'll probably get over two tons per acre on the first mowing, and progressively less with each subsequent mowing. [Here are two useful links:] How to make hay the old way, and Making hay for horses.

- If I were doing a working ranch as my group's retreat, I would not think twice about getting a big tractor (100 hp or more) and a big round baler. I'd have the tractor fitted with as big a front-end loader that it would take. It helps you move those big bales (which make excellent hasty bulwarks) and you can use the bucket to dig yourself a dry moat in jig time. (I'd definitely use the tractor to dig one when fuel stocks started to run low. By then you aren't likely to have county planning people nosing about much.) Read up on Irish hill forts and Civil War earthworks on the 'Web.
- I'd do most of the work on the place with horses, just so I'd have enough on hand for me and mine to Bug Out if we need to. (I'd want a mount, a re-mount and two pack horses per person.) Horses can go where no 4x4 would have a chance. Since only the Russians do mounted calvary anymore -- that's my preferred mode of Bug Out travel. Horses outdistance leg infantry hands-down, and anywhere a 4x4 can go a tracked vehicle can go there quicker. (Helicopters trump everything, but you can usually hear them coming.)
- If you're going to have little ones about, I'd definitely plan on keeping goats for milk, as goat's milk is the universal mamma replacement. (And keeping goats will give bored children something to do on their scale - when they're not raking hay or tending poultry or helping Mom in the gardens. No little princes or princesses in my retreat!) Most people who are lactose intolerant can handle goat's milk. I'm an absolute tyro on keeping goats, so Samantha's advice is probably better than any I'd ever give.
- Don't forget "The Gentlemen Who Pay the Rent!" (Pigs) With pigs you use everything but the squeak. They are your pioneers and can plow your garden for you as well as stirring the deep bedding in your cow and horse barns for you. (A pig will dig deep for every grain of corn you hide in the bedding.) If you want to keep the brush down in your tree lines, just pig fence them and put the pigs in a couple times a year. (Throw a handful of corn into the middle of the deepest thickets and they'll root 'em out for you.) You may want to invest in a stock of welded pig panels and steel fence posts so you don't have to invest as much in fencing. (Less to hide behind, too!)
- Chickens. They're dumb as rocks, and a royal pain to work with, but eggs, meat and feathers are not to be passed up. If you get into poultry, you'll find they only thing dumber than a chicken is a turkey. (You have to run to get them under cover if a rain squall heaves into sight, because the turkeys will point their beaks to the sky, open them wide, and promptly drown in the downpour. To think that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird! Thank God cooler heads prevailed! I have heard that the wild turkey is a much smarter bird . . . I have to believe it, or the breed would be dead as Dodos.)
- Resources -- These are starting points (the first three are books) They will all give you lots of other resources to refer to:
"Salad Bar Beef" Joel Salatin
"You Can Farm!" Joel Salatin
Any of the Storey Books livestock series
Ranch & Farm webring
Down on the Farm webring
Draft horse webring
Agriculture webring

Regards, - CountryTek

Dear Mr. Editor:
Can lead from car batteries be recycled for bullet making? I'm just wondering, since there will be lots of dead batteries to be found in a post-SHTF world!
Just a thought. Sincerely, - K&S

JWR Replies: Yes, lead from car batteries could be used, but only with stringent safety precautions! "Cracking" old sulfated car batteries will expose you to highly corrosive acid and acid fumes. I've also read that battery lead has high toxicity from contaminants like strontium. A much safer and more convenient source of bullet casting lead is clipped-on wheel balancing weights. In a worst-case TEOTWAWKI, with thousands of abandoned cars and trucks along the roads and in wrecking yards, the easiest source of lead will be wheel weights. One advantage of wheel weights is that their alloyed composition is harder than the pure lead used in lead-acid batteries. with the exception of glued on wheel weights (which are often pure lead), the wheel weights with metal clips usually have about 5% antimony added to increase hardness--so-called "antimonious lead." This makes them more suitable for bullet casting. (Pure lead is too soft to use for bullet casting without adding a hardener, particularly for high velocity bullets, where soft lead can be "stripped" into rifling grooves.) Needless to say, be sure to take the standard safety precautions whenever casting lead. Goggles, gloves (preferably elbow length), a heavy long-sleeve shirt and apron are musts. Also remember that lead and arsenic poisoning are both progressive and insidious, so avoid breathing lead casting vapors! I recommend doing your lead casting outdoors.

RCP's sharp eye caught this news story: Great Lakes fish virus may threaten U.S. aquaculture. Gee, these plagues are starting to take on Biblical proportions. First it was the honeybees...

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KT flagged this one: Congressman Kucinich Seeks To Ban Handguns In The United States. Meanwhile, Rep. McCarthy (D-NY) is pushing other "gun control" legislation. My advice: stock up, particularly on full capacity magazines. I fear that a new Federal ban on 11+ round magazines is likely to be enacted before the end of the current session of congress, as part of some typical Washington DC "reasonable compromise" legislative package.

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Reader Don W. mentioned the news articles on a multi-year drought in Australia, forcing the government to halt irrigation of farming areas in order to ensure the cities have sufficient drinking water. Prime Minister John Howard has said that Australia may have to import food. Don's comment: "This illustrates the strategic problem Australia has if a TEOTWAWKI event ever forced the USA to retreat from its global empire: Australia can never support a population large enough to withstand the hordes of Asia."

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Sid sent us this article link: Armed "Miss America.1944" Stops Intruder

"I will print money today so that people can survive." - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, explaining the 1,800% annual inflation rate of the Zimbabwean dollar.(As quoted in Michael Panzner's book, "Financial Armageddon")

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The following is the second batch of responses that we've received thusfar in our current poll on Lessons Learned:

Mr. Rawles:

When I think of our early mistakes, so many things come to mind!
1. Buying ten #10 cans of T.V.P. for Y2K. Ick! We could not give the stuff away. We learned never to buy large quantities of anything we don't normally eat until we try it first

2. Buying cheap BOB backpacks. We thought that since we would most likely never need them, we could buy the cheap backpacks from Walmart. A few years later, when we decided to take a test run, we found that the packs were incredibly uncomfortable and the bottom fell out of one of them. We also discovered that it is near impossible to wear a fully loaded BOB on your back with a toddler in a front pack and be able to balance, hike, etc.

3. We just jumped in with both feet doing food storage instead of learning the proper way. We bought tons of wheat, cornmeal, and oatmeal - poured it in buckets and stuck it in several locations. About 3 years later we started learning and realized we should have taken more care, rotated our stock, etc. When we checked on things we ended up feeding about half of it to the chickens.

4. Underestimating what we need! This was the biggest. Several years ago my husband got sick and was off work for four months - unable to get out of bed for two of those months. Because we were debt free and had food stored plus some savings we did okay, but we realized how many things we had overlooked that I had to run to the store for - spices, OTC medicines, shampoos and toiletries, even socks and undergarments that were about worn out and had no spares. Nothing absolutely life shattering, but those creature comforts make life bearable.

5. We also realized during that time that our roles were too separate. We are very traditional, with me doing "women's" work and him doing the "men's" work - that's how we like it. But when he could not do it we realized how dangerous that could be. We have always hunted for elk and deer, and I am a good shot - but he always loaded the gun for me and did all the reloading. I did not know how to start the tractor, milk the cow, or even which feed and the quantity for our animals. While I could learn most of that, we did come to realize that my physical limitations are much different than his - so we bought a smaller tiller that I can run, he started putting up smaller bales that I can lift, he made charts for animal care and doctoring, etc. Likewise, he learned to deal with the milk, make cheese and butter, and I made a special "food storage cookbook" that he can work from. We don't like to think about managing without each other - but it is part of being prepared!


When in doubt, read the directions. Years ago during the first Bush ban on semi-auto rifles, I acquired a new-in-box Colt AR-15 H-BAR pre-ban rifle for $700. Before taking it out for my first bench test with USGI green tip, I cleaned and lubed the rifle, but didn't read the directions closely enough to realize I had left out the cam pin when I reassembled the bolt. The rifle seemed to rack and function fine, but when I put a round in the chamber and aimed at my target downrange 100 yds. away, I recall a hot rush of air and loud sound, which got my attention.
The bottom of the 20 round magazine was blown out, base plate, mag spring and follower were missing. The bolt was locked about half way open and there was a bloom of brass expanding like a small daffodil or somesuch protruding from the back of the chamber. The bore was clear of the bullet. The case head was gone but I was intact and so was the rifle except for being jammed half open. A gunsmith performed the "casectomy" and all was checked out fine with the rifle. I had no injuries, but I did go and re-read the Colt manual and realized that the cam pin got rolled up in my cleaning rag and I had missed it during reassembly. I now real the manuals with guns, especially new ones.


Hi Jim,
Here is a planning mishap realized by that most ancient of adversaries, vermin. I had several boxes of bottled water. Nice, heavy, sturdy cardboard boxes designed to withstand hard handling, etc. Had them stored under the workbench in the garage along with some white buckets of bulk wheat and rice. But all were largely invisible because other items were stacked in front of them. While I regularly check on how my firearms and ammo are storing, I had not looked at these supplies for several years.
We had been fighting with some small rats for several months. The traps weren't working and the rat poison did not seem to have an effect. I had to get something out from the pile of gear under the work bench and noticed rat spoor. As I pulled out the gear, I realized why the poison had not been working: We had provided our little furry friends a comfortable and well-stocked home. They had eaten away the holes in a couple of the white buckets and were consuming the foodstuffs. And they had eaten away the sides of the cardboard boxes of water, actually eaten the
plastic of the water bottles, and had consumed several gallons of water. Cleaned the mess and sadly threw away some supplies that were now suspect.
Bright side to the story, once we had removed our unintended rat support system, I started catching the despicable critters in my traps and the poison containers show signs of being eaten. No more rats! Moral: watch where you store stuff and check on your storage regularly.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
While rag-picking at my local thrift store, I spotted an Asian food wholesale supply store in that neighborhood. What caught my eye was the 50# bags of rice stocked 6' high and three deep, right in the storefront window. By my count, he had six tons of rice varieties on site. That is far more than the half-pallet that Sam's Club seems to stock.
Note to preppers: If you happen to recognize a slow spiral to TEOTWAWKI, and you still have the need to accumulate calories for the homestead or charity, map out the ethnic food wholesalers (Asian, Mexican, etc.) in your AO for the proverbial beans and rice. If and when the times call for it, my guess is our multicultural friends also will understand the value of gold and silver coin as tender in payment of debt, whereas the mass merchant will not. (Of course if folks are using silver, at that point you should already have the hatches battened down.)
BTW, my greatest "keeping your eyes peeled" find was after the November election behind the temporary county DemoRepublicrat Headquarters: hundreds of un-deployed wire-framed yard signs in the dumpster. Don't politicians know the price of recycled steel? (Of course not.) Now I'm flush with heavy gauge steel wire courtesy of wasteful politicians. Springtime Regards, - Brian H.

It may be an interest to readers who use the Firefox browser, there is an extension call "Track Me Not". [Here is a description I found on the web:] "TrackMeNot is a lightweight browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so not by means of concealment or encryption (i.e. covering one's tracks), but instead, paradoxically, by the opposite strategy: noise and obfuscation. With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are essentially hidden in plain view. User-installed TrackMeNot works with the Firefox Browser and popular search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and MSN) and requires no 3rd-party servers or services." Its better than a not-so- reliable proxy. - Martin

Makezine's MakerFaire is scheduled for May 19-20, 2007 at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds, in northern California. SurvivalBlog readers in the S.F. Bay Area should plan to attend. Your will learn some great hands-on MacGyver skills there.

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11 Retired U.S. Admirals and Generals Urge Changes on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Commercially available ("off the shelf") hydrogen fuel cells! Of course pricing is another matter, but in the long term, fuel cells are a promising technology for powering retreats and self-contained NBC shelters.

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InyoKern's research turned up this article: California real estate foreclosures are up 800% over last year. InyoKern's comment: This is a summary of California home foreclosures thanks to Adjustable Rate Mortgages. My wife and I just looked into buying one, but there's a catch or two or three (liens, insider corruption, cost of title search versus time to place a bid) which has me hesitant to jump into an "affordable" house. Expect to see lots of "Disgruntled Former Californians" (DFCs) moving to your neighborhood as they bail out of California in bankruptcy.

"In regione caecorum rex est luscus" (In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.) Desiderius Erasmus (1466 - 1536), Adagia (III, IV, 96)

Monday, April 23, 2007

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I have come to the conclusion that the nascent implosion of the U.S. residential real estate bubble is going to have some far-reaching macroeconomic consequences. We are just starting to see the beginning of the real estate collapse. The adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) reset clock is ticking, and the home foreclosure rate is just starting to spike. I predict that in just three or four months, the housing market collapse will be just as big a news story as the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s. There will be plenty of hand wringing and finger pointing. The lenders that foolishly loaned billions of dollars to home buyers that weren't actually credit worthy will get most of the blame. There will be congressional investigations. There will also probably be some Enron-esque collapses of banking and derivatives trading giants. Followed, of course, by some sort of bailout at taxpayer expense. (Some pieces of of American history keep repeating. I still remember the $1.2 Billion Chrysler bailout and the $481 Billion S&L bailout.)

In 1978, the total debt burden of households in the U.S. was less than $1 trillion. But as of 2007, it is more than $13 trillion! We drowning in debt. As house prices collapse, so much money will be lost (on paper) in such a short period of time that the debt merry-go-round will suddenly stop. There will be an enormous, collective gulp and an un-spoken: "Oh my Lord, what have we done?" For roughly the past five years, American homeowners have been using their houses like ATMs, "extracting" cash from them, usually through "home equity loans" or in a wad of extra cash when they re-financed their mortgages. These are called "Mortgage Equity Withdrawals" (MEWs), in banking circles. MEWs have pumped an extra two trillion dollars into the economy in the past five years. A lot of this money has been squandered on big screen televisions and other useless Schumer that folks have wheeled home from Wal-Mart. When the MEW money merry-go-round stops, the economy will surely go into a deep recession. (Since consumer spending is the biggest driver of the economy.) As the economy tanks, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) will eventually have no choice but to cut short term interest rates. By doing so, they will be creating new money on a grand scale.

As the housing bust develops further, there is the real risk of a stagnant economy, even with very low interest rates. (A classic liquidity trap) If consumers still feel squeezed and if they still worry about lay-offs, they will curtail their spending. Ben Bernanke has publicly stated that he will drop greenbacks out of helicopters if he has to, so don't be surprised if you see the Fed resort to some very unusual moves. This could include monetizing large chunks of the Federal debt. The combined effects of lower interest rates and debt monetization will constitute a massive shot of liquidity--perhaps the only way that "Helicopter Ben" can keep the economy afloat in the midst of the housing collapse. This does not bode well for the U.S. Dollar, which was already losing ground in the first quarter of Aught Seven against most other world currencies--most notably the British pound, the Euro and the Yen. (For example, it now costs more than $2 to buy one Pound Sterling.) So what does the "big picture" show us? For the next three years, there will likely be a bear market in real estate, stocks, and the US Dollar Index. Meanwhile, there will be a bull market in food prices, fuel prices, gold, and silver. The economy could very well turn stagnant, with high unemployment coincident with high inflation--similar to the "stagflation" economic conditions of the 1980s. Double digit currency inflation is likely. Plan accordingly. Protect yourself. Minimize your debt burden. Have plenty of cash on hand, in case you get laid off. And if you haven't yet diversified your investments into precious metals, then I recommend that you do so immediately.

Speaking of impending crises, I highly recommend the book Financial Armageddon by Michael J. Panzner. In it, Panzner does a fine job of spelling out four impending crises that within the next decade will challenge our financial well-being and perhaps threaten our entire way of life. These four crises are: The debt bubble (public and private), pension plans, government guarantees, and derivatives.

Mr. Rawles:

I'm confused. Some things that I've read say that the maximum range of [nuclear weapon electromagnetic pulse] EMP is about 60 miles, but others say 200 or 250 miles. Which of them is right? Wouldn't a terrorist bomb at ground level have shorter range EMP than a nuke touched off at high altitude or low orbit? (With a wider horizon.) Thanks, - Lance in Nebraska

JWR Replies: You aren't the first SurvivalBlog reader to ask about the greatest potential effective range of an EMP-optimized nuclear detonation. I first discussed this in SurvivalBlog back in October of 2005. The answer is both easy and impossible to determine. Let me explain. First, the easy part. The basic line of sight (LOS) footprint range calculation is really simple. It is essentially the same as the calculation that is used to determine the maximum effective range for a VHF or UHF radio onboard an aircraft. Referring back to one of my unclassified notebooks from my Electronic Warfare (5M) course at Fort Huachuca, I find: Assuming level terrain, the maximum potential radius of LOS in nautical miles (nmi) = square root of the emitter's altitude (in feet) x 1.056. Hence, that would be 149.3 nmi at 20,000 feet above sea level (ASL), or 191.8 nmi at 33,000 feet ASL. (A typical jet or C-130's service ceiling.) SurvivalBlog reader "Flighter" mentioned: "...some of the larger business jets such as the Airbus ACJ, Gulfstream, Challenger, and Citation are certificated to fly at or above 41,000 feet. The Sino Swearingen SJ30, is perhaps the highest flyer with a certificated ceiling of 49,000 feet. Hypothetically, a dangerous parabolic flight profile could with supplemental oxygen for the flight crew and perhaps even supplemental JATO rockets might push apogee to 75,000 feet in a few aircraft models. (Hey, it would be a suicidal flight anyway.) That is probably the highest altitude that could be expected for a terrorist to touch off a nuke--at least in the near future. That would equate to a footprint with a 280 mile radius. Oh, yes, they might also get really creative and use an unmanned balloon. (The word's record for those was 51.82 km (170,000 feet / 32.2 miles) But that is highly unlikely. What is likely? A ground level detonation. The EMP footprint of fission bomb detonated near ground level on dead level ground (plains country) might be no more than a 45 mile radius.

Now on to the part that is impossible to predict: long range linear coupling.  Because telephone lines, power lines, and railroad tracks will act as giant antennas for EMP, the EMP waveforms will be coupled through those structures for many, many miles beyond line of sight (BLOS). Just how many miles BLOS is not yet known. I believe that if it were not for the advent of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 (which banned atmospheric and space nuclear weapons tests), the DOD and AEC would have had the opportunity to conduct far more extensive tests to further characterize the panoply of potential EMP effects. But those test bans have kept us in the dark. In the absence of practical data, there is a lot guesswork, even among "applied physics" expert nuclear weapons physicists. We may not know the full extent of the EMP risk until after we see that bright flash on the horizon.

For planning purposes, you can probably safely assume that if you are living more than 280 miles from a major city, then your vehicle electronics will be safe from a terrorist  nuke's EMP. (Since you will be BLOS to the EMP footprint of a nuke that is set off below 75,000 feet ASL.) Your home electronics, however, anywhere in CONUS might be at risk due to long range linear coupling--that is if your house is on grid power. This, BTW, is one more good reason for you to set up your own off-grid self sufficient photovoltaic (PV) power system. The folks at Ready Made Resources. offer free consulting on PV system sizing, site selection, and design.

Mr. Rawles:

I have read your FAQ about Pre-1899 firearms being classified as antiques and exempt from some of the Federal regulations. The 1894 Winchester 30-30 serial number exempt at that time [that you wrote the FAQ] was below 147685. Mine carries serial # 165559. Would it now be exempt since it is [now] 2007? Thank you, - Eleanor

JWR Replies: Sorry, but the "antique" threshold has been frozen at Dec. 31, 1898, ever since passage of the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968. That defies common sense, but that is the law in the United States. The frozen legal threshold means that with the passage of time, there will be fewer and fewer legally recognized "antiques" in circulation, as guns eventually wear out. This makes pre-1899 guns a great investment. Antique gun exemption laws vary considerably depending on where you live. For details on the "antique" thresholds for Australia, Canada, England, and Norway, see the Wikipedia page on Antique guns. I recommend that after they've acquired their basic battery of survival firearms, well-prepared families should acquire a few pre-1899 cartridge guns chambered for smokeless cartridges that are still factory produced. There may come a day in the U.S. when all firearms will be subject to registration. But pre-1899 guns will presumably still be exempt. Anyone interested in acquiring some pre-1899 cartridge guns should contact George at The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers). He will be happy to share his knowledge on the subject.

From RBS: The history behind "political correctness"

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Survivalist.com has a fascinating links page on various disasters

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RCP sent us this, but it hardly comes as a surprise: Japan is considering selling some of its US Dollar reserves.

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I heard that J&G Sales in Arizona has some .303 British surplus ammo now in stock. It is POF surplus ammo, with a FMJ bullet, brass case, packed in 32 round boxes or 768 round cases.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they have been resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress."
- Frederick Douglass

Sunday, April 22, 2007

We recently traveled to California. I was shocked to see the exorbitant gas prices there. ($3.65 for a gallon.) After having lived in the hinterboonies for so long, I was also alarmed to see the prevailing high prices of other goods and services, like $24 for a haircut and $4.35 for a loaf of bread. A very minor repair on our SUV cost us $525. The dealership charged $125 per hour as their shop labor rate! Since we towed our a trailer down there, we were also aggravated by California's strictly-enforced 55 mile-per-hour speed limit for vehicles towing trailers. Isn't that just like a Nanny State to have that sort of law?

Hey! I just noticed that we've surpassed 1.3 million unique visits. Thanks for spreading the word, folks.

Like most, as a young hunter I longed for my first buck. I didn't take a deer the first season despite numerous sightings. The deer were there. I just couldn't seem to get a clear shot. I saw only tails, or running deer instead of still deer offering their shoulders to me. As the second season opened, I wondered if I should take shots that I was not 100% sure of. I had a tag for antlered deer only, so I would at least have to make sure that the deer was a buck before I pulled the trigger. I resolved that I would take the first shot at a buck I saw. No more waiting for the perfect broadside pose. If I could just be sure of antlers I would pull the trigger no matter what.
I had one glimpse of a departing tail opening day. My hunting companion bagged a nice six-point but after that I was on my own, pitting my wits and knowledge of the terrain against the wily bucks I knew were there. The next day I saw three does trotting across an open field, but could not legally take them. By the afternoon of the third day I had buck fever. I thought I could see antlers in every clump of brush. Every fallen log was a buck in his bed to my eyes. I still-hunted away from home all morning. Without much thought, I crossed onto the next farm about noon. I did not doubt that access would be granted if I had taken the time to ask for permission. We were on good terms with the neighbors and the area that I planned to hunt was cropland bordered by woods on one side and a brush-choked streambed well away from any livestock.
It was this stream that drew me over the fence line. I knew that any deer feeling pressured could duck into the gully to skirt the open field on one side and the open hardwoods on the other. I took a position overlooking where the gully ended. Any deer walking that brushy corridor would emerge into my view and either cross the field of corn stubble before me or work up the slope of open hardwoods on the far side. If a buck walked either of those routes, my investment in cold toes and fingers would be well worthwhile. I settled in for a long wait, watching the shadows grow as the afternoon wore on.
Just about the time I was thinking more of my damp seat and cold toes than watching the hedgerow, I became aware of something moving in the gully. A bird flew up at the far range of my vision. Then a moment later, the sound of a snapping twig reached me faintly over the gentle sound of running water. Long minutes passed without revealing the wary buck and I gradually became less alert, lulled by the gurgling stream and the motion of gently swaying saplings. The dappled leaves still holding to them occasionally drifted down to mingle with blackberry bushes separating the watercourse from me.
Minutes had passed without any sign of life when a crackle of breaking brush at the near end of the gully shot adrenaline through my veins. There was something unmistakably moving just out of sight and coming my way! I saw the top of a sapling move as something out of sight brushed against its trunk. The yellow poplar leaves drifted against the thick hedge of briars below. The form under the saplings moved closer. Yes, I could see it now. The unmistakable gray of deer hair glimpsed between silver saplings and the screen of red berry stalks. A sneaky old buck must have walked straight down the stream bed. The noise of his approach had been covered by the gentle sound of running water and muffled by the wall of brush.
My breathing became ragged. My heart pounded in my chest. I could feel every pulse in my shoulders and throat. My palms begin to sweat as my thumb reached for the safety on the rifle that lay heavily in my lap and the animal moved toward me. Oh if I could only see antlers!
I tightened my grip on the cold stock. I could see the shape of his body now. It was about 3 feet long, soft gray, 3 feet off the ground and moving slowly, and steadily my way. He was nearly free of the saplings, which at that point had a few low branches. We were only separated by the thick screen of berry bushes. I thought about the powerful cartridge in the chamber and knew that the briar stems could not sufficiently deflect the bullet from its intended target. I would click off the safety, throw the rifle to my shoulder, and fire the instant I saw antlers. I contemplated the devastation a shot raking from chest to tail would create. Without a doubt the buck would slump in his tracks and I would have to drag him up the stream bank and out of those thick thorn bushes. Perhaps I should let him step clear? He was coming the right way. I realized that I was holding my breath. Then I saw the antlers.
I could not help but pause at the sight of them. I had dreamed of this moment for so very long. This was going to be my first buck, and oh what antlers they were! Powerfully thrusting through the thick berry bushes, the antlers shoved through the briar screen and broke into the open. With raking motions the rack moved toward me. I saw three long tines on each side and thick brow tines sweeping ahead of a gray hulking body almost as tall as the low sapling branches. I heard the briar stems breaking. I could even hear his breath and began to raise the rifle.
I never fired. I never finished clicking off the safety. In fact, I never even raised the rifle from my lap. I sat stone still with the kind of chill in my soul that I hope I never feel again. Long minutes later I was quite alone at the edge of that field. For what I saw as that matched set of perfect antlers was thrust clear of the briars, was that they split apart and fell earthward when the man who held them stood up. This hunter, with rifle slung over his shoulder, had bent at the waist to move under the low branches and held his synthetic rattling antlers in either hand to push thorn bushes away from his face as he climbed the stream bank.
He never knew I was there. He never knew how close his tree bark camouflage had brought him to being a terrible statistic. As I look back now, more than a decade later, I do not recall seeing any red or blaze clothing at all. What I do recall is that my hands shook as I took them off the unused rifle and silently thanked God that I had learned the most valuable lesson of hunting without tragedy.
I've taken a dozen deer from that same area in upstate New York over the seasons that followed. But one other season I went home empty handed. I heard my buck working a rub, and caught glimpses of his gray hide moving away through the hardwoods in the last light of day on the last day of the season, but I let him walk into the shadows with my tag unfilled. I was 99% sure of my target. But 99% is not sure enough, because years before I had learned that safety is the most important lesson of all. - Mr. Yankee

Dear Jim:
You don't have to be a "Secret Squirrel" to be concerned about Google tracking your online searching.
Here is a quick and easy way to use Google but not get tracked: http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/scraper.htm
The following is a quote from their site: "Not only does Google scrape much of the web, but they keep records of who searches for what. If information about your searching is accessible by cookie ID or by your IP address, it is subject to subpoena. This is a violation of your privacy. Someday Google's data retention practices will be regulated, because Google is too arrogant to do the right thing voluntarily. In the meantime, you should not be leaving your fingerprints in Google's databases."
"There are other proxies that can protect your privacy on the web. Almost all are general-purpose proxies that cloak all of your web activity behind an IP address that is not easily traced to your service provider. One is Anonymizer.com. A possible problem with this one is that the founder, Lance Cottrell, has connections with the FBI and the Voice of America. It also costs money for a reasonable level of service. Another is Tor ["The Onion Router"], which is much more secure. But it is also slow, because Tor is a complicated system that needs networks of volunteers to run server software. Juvenile surfers from video pirates to rogue Wikipedia editors tend to clog free services such as Tor, which slows them down even more." Regards, OSOM - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Simon M. noticed a cool "Bulletproof Urban Assault Vehicle on Commander Zero's blog. The Commander 's wry comment: "Try not to think what a vehicle made out of 3/16" sheet steel weighs and what it'll do to your engine and suspension. Especially your suspension of disbelief since this thing wouldn't stop a .223. Points for style though."

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Jay in Florida mentioned a fascinating thread over at the S&W Forums on what happens to bullet hit bodies by a LEO Medical Morgue examiner. Quite valuable information.

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Its no wonder that the liberal do-gooders have such successful petition drives! Watch this brief video on Banning Water, from Penn & Teller.

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InyoKern sent us this piece: Ethanol plants come with hidden cost: Water. His comment: "This is a little eerie. Right about when the Midwest needs to bring back small non-mechanized (family) farming to deal with Peak Oil food production (which won't work at Agricorp scale). Ethanol requires 3 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of ethanol. And the very best (most efficient) methods of production only yield 1.3 units of energy for each unit of energy put into the system to make it. So you're not getting much bang for your buck."

"A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood." - General George S. Patton.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A reminder for those of you that already have copies of my recent non-fiction books printed before early April. Please update them with our new mail forwarding address. See page 207 of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation (Appendix B) and page 239 of SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 (Appendix A)--they should both get penned with this new mail forwarding address:
James Wesley, Rawles
c/o Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845 USA

I have already updated the electronic master copies at Cafe Press, (the print-on-demand publisher), so any copies that were ordered after April 6th have the address corrections already made.

Note that our e-mail address is still: rawles@usa.net

How much square footage should I fence off (to protect from deer) for a [self-sufficiency] vegetable garden for my family of five? Thank You Sir, - P.L., near Eugene, Oregon

JWR Replies: As a scant minimum, I'd recommend a 25' x 30' garden plot. By using French Intensive (double dug) or Square Foot Gardening techniques, you can get a huge yield out of that much garden space. But if you have the acreage available and can afford the extra fencing material, then by all means make your fenced garden plot two or three times that size. This has several advantages. First, you will have room to maneuver a tractor. Using a tractor disc will save you a tremendous amount of labor, especially the first year that you develop the garden. Secondly, the extra garden space can be used to grow extra crops for barter and charity. You never know how many relatives will show up on your doorstep on TEOTWAWKI+1.

Even if you don't have the time or the inclination to build and oversize garden fence now, at least buy the materials for fencing a big garden in the future--when such supplies may be difficult to obtain.

Hi Jim:
I plan to open carry in my new county here in Colorado, and I'm looking for a vendor that sells attractive leather shooter's belts and nice leather holsters for M1911s and Glocks. Do you have any preferred vendors/manufacturers you can recommend? I've only ever carried [pistols] on [military] Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) so this semi-casual leather belt open carry thing is very new to me, as is the civilian gun culture :) - Eric

JWR Replies: We mainly carry Kydex Blade-Tech brand holsters and mag pouches here at the Rawles Ranch. And for the most part we use modestly-priced Uncle Mike's black nylon/velcro belts. (they are "Plain Jane", but sturdy and functional.) We do have a couple of leather holsters made by Milt Sparks Holsters. Their belts and holsters are highly recommended. I've been doing business with them for more than 20 years. They don't skimp on quality. The Milt Sparks belts and holsters range in style and price from utilitarian (like the rough-side out "Summer Special") to some that are downright stylish. (And priced accordingly.)

USRSOG conducts a civilian S.E.R.E. (Search Evasion Rescue & Escape) class once a year. They teach primitive fire-building, Evasion techniques, field camouflage techniques, some plant identification, hand-to-hand [fighting] techniques, natural cordage making, [flint] knapping and a bunch of other things like primitive shelter making. These guys are hardcore and I’m blessed to have known them and took their class last year. This year's class is April 27-28-29 and I think there is still time for any last minute sign-ups but your readers will need to contact them right away. Students also need proof that they are right with the law by producing a CCW license or letter from their sheriff stating that they have no outstanding warrants. They don’t want to teach bad people [potentially] bad things. The cadre are all made up of retired [U.S. Army] Special Forces, Rangers, SWAT, so the stories they tell are worth the price of admission alone, which is $250. Not a bad deal for the knowledge you get in return. - A Reader

I'm sorry, but that Wikipedia article gave you bad information. It's describing the situation for E10, not E85. You'll note it doesn't give you a reference to a study backing up this analysis. On the other hand, this Wikipedia.page does: Ethanol Fuel Mixtures
The key graph is on page 32 of that reference
Similar graphs and conclusions agreeing that the sensitivity to phase separation declines as the percentage of ethanol increases are available elsewhere:
From the US EPA
From Cim-tek

Regards, - PNG

JWR Replies: Thanks for correcting my error. My humble apologies for not researching my reply more thoroughly. One of the things that I love about SurvivalBlog is the breadth and depth of knowledge that is possessed by the readership. If I err, I don't hesitate in posting a correction.

Reader Bill G. notes that VITA has added a lot of new "appropriate technology" resources to their free library since I last referenced them.
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Kon Tiki recommended this short documentary video: The Gun Makers of Pakistan. The documentary is politically biased, but if you ignore the commentary, the images speak for themselves. Don't miss the close-up of the kid's precise handloading technique.

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Tim P. flagged A Guide to Drilling, Reaming, and Broaching a Bolt-Action Receiver at Home for free download at the Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) web site. It is a book on making a Mauser type bolt actions, by Raymond Benwood.

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A reader e-mailed us this thought-provoking tag line: " In 2002, another Virginia college was attacked by a madman bent on mass murder. That time, only three people died-- because two legally-armed students intervened before the local police could arrive. Virginia law allows college students to carry guns just like other responsible adults, but Virginia Tech's rules left its students defenseless. It's time to face facts in the gun-control debate . Gun control doesn't protect people. Guns protect people."

"...To own firearms is to affirm that freedom and liberty are not gifts from the state. It is to reserve final judgment about whether the state is encroaching on freedom and liberty, to stand ready to defend that freedom with more than mere words, and to stand outside the state's totalitarian reach." - Jeff Snyder, "A Nation of Cowards"

Friday, April 20, 2007

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction is now at $425. This auction is for a scarce pre-1899 Mauser that was arsenal converted to 7.62mm NATO. It has a retail value of at least $375. The auction ends on May 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Hi Jim:
Your blog is the best I've come across on the Internet. Very useful information. Regarding the subject of [Electromagnetic Pulse] EMP, are the new Light Emitting Diode (LED) flashlights more, or less immune to EMP than those using conventional incandescent bulbs?

Modern solid-state circuitry is in grave danger of terminal damage in the event of an EMP occurrence.
LEDs are composed of a semiconductor junction, similar to transistors and integrated circuits.
Do modern LED flashlights have enough of the right characteristics to pick up sufficient EMP burst energy and become permanently useless?

Your comments please, and thank you. - Clark F. in Canada

JWR Replies: LEDs are not absolutely impervious to nuclear weapons effects, but their design makes them fairly robust. Most of the publicized vulnerability of microcircuits to EMP pertains to Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) devices, which are indeed quite sensitive to fast rise-time high voltage spikes. (Everything from EMP, to lightning, to even just a the touch of a human finger transmitting static electricity.) In essence, the smaller MOS-based chip gate dimensions, the more vulnerable the chip is to EMP. But according to C.N. Ghiosh, writing in the IDSA's Strategic Analysis Journal, "[microcircuit]...diodes, transistors, gate arrays and ICs are based on pure silicon slices [which do not have the same EMP vulnerability as MOS devices] as their electrical properties depend upon the regularity and uniformity of the basic silicon crystal lattices. The initial total damage from Neutron radiation is proportional to the neutron influence, but there is a subsequent annealing process during which there is some degree of recovery. This apart, the damage could be permanent. Also it may be made clear here that it makes no difference whether the device is working equipment or kept on the shelf for future use. However, the annealing process will be longer in such cases. According to Ghiosh, when struck by neutron radiation, "Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) can suffer degradation in optical output by 10 to 20 per cent." In essence, LEDs are far less vulnerable to nuclear weapons effects. Hard gamma or neutron radiation would kill you long before you noticed any degradation of LEDs due to silicon matrix disruption! And EMP waveforms themselves don't affect the silicon structure on an LED. The scale of a LED semiconductor junction is huge compared to the junctions found in gate array chips. So even if they were MOS-based, LEDs would be an order of magnitude less vulnerable to EMP. The bottom line is that I wouldn't worry about EMP destroying LEDs.

Hi Jim,
I'm in the middle of reading Roy E. Appleman's book "East of Chosin". It is an account of the tragic fate of the 31st Regimental Combat team during the Korean conflict.

Several references talk about the soldiers weapons (especially M1 Carbines) locking up due to the extreme (-20 Fahrenheit or greater) cold. It mentioned how the Chinese weapons worked because they had little or no oil in them. I imagined those weapons had a short operational life without lubrication, but they worked when needed.

What would you recommend to keep firearms functional in extreme cold? A dry/powdered lubricant? Sincerely, - Ron S. in Upstate New York

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning this topic! It is particularly important fro SurvivalBlog readers, since firearms will surely be carried and used outdoors more frequently, post-TEOTWAWKI. The only sure method to keep firearms actions from binding in sub-zero weather is to completely de-lubricate the moving parts, using a spray can of carburetor cleaner solvent such as Gummout or Berryman's B12 Chem Tool. (Wear rubber gloves!) and then re-lubricate, using a dry film lubricant such as Dri-Slide or similar molybdenum disulfide powder. Even when using these dry lubes, there is the chance that moisture from rain or condensation can get in a gun's action and freeze it to the point of binding. Therefore, it is important to frequently test your guns' actions by cycling them, whenever the temperature drops below freezing

I was doing my nightly research on the web and discovered a great resource for making Expedient Footware. This seemed a slick and quick answer. Check out this link for the directions on fabricating sandals out of tires. I printed a copy of the instructions and they will become part of my library for that rainy day event we all hope never happens. The children and I will make our practice run set here shortly. - Matt B.

From reader RBS: Dash for green fuel pushes up price of meat in US

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Larry LaBorde, was quoted at 321Gold.com, on April 13th: "The United States dollar index has dropped below 82 today. We would do well to remember that the index is just a measure of the USD strength in relation to other currencies. It is sort of like measuring the USD with a rubber yardstick. While all currencies are racing to zero the USD just got a little ahead of the others. Check out www.coinflation.com and scroll down until you get to the current melt value of US coins. Notice a nickel is now worth over 9 cents. It seems that the USD has devalued faster than the US mint can cheapen its coins. A safe investment today is to simply trade federal reserve notes for nickels at your local bank and make an immediate profit of 80%. While some people may remind you that it is illegal to melt US coinage, just remember the pre-1965 silver coinage. They do not have to be melted to be worth more than their face value. It will not be long before this little bargain disappears. Take advantage of this easy money while you can. It is just one more example of how fast the USD is devaluing before our eyes."

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Reader C.M. mentioned: New Modeling Study Forecasts Disappearance of Existing Climate Zones. C.M.'s comment: "An interesting article on climate change from the National Science Foundation (a government sponsored entity). Apparently, some plant and animal species have already realized the change is happening, and are heading to the hills...at least a cooler part of the hill."

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Yet another opinion on Global Warming.

"There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in a new place." - Washington Irving

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19th (Patriot's Day) is a significant date. It is coincidentally the anniversary of the battles at Lexington and Concord (the opening of America's war of secession from Britain, in 1775), the German assault on the Warsaw Ghetto (1943) , the FBI/ATF assault on the Branch Davidian church at Waco (1993), and the tragic misdirected Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing (1995).

Regarding your statement: :"Even E10 (10% ethanol) blended gasoline is highly hygroscopic and can absorb 50 times more water than traditional non-blended gasoline."
E10 is much more sensitive to the water/alcohol solution separating from the gasoline than E85 is. E10 undergoes separation at around 0.5% water. E85 can absorb about 20% water before separation occurs. - PNG

JWR Replies: That is not entirely correct. An explanatory note from the L.U.S.T. Line Report (on Leaking Underground Storage Tanks): "Ethanol will mix with gasoline,
but it does so reluctantly. Although gasoline is nonpolar, it can only hold up to 0.2 percent dissolved water before the water “drops” out of solution to the bottom of the storage vessel as free water. Conversely, hydrogen bonding allows E10 fuel to hold much more dissolved water than gasoline—approximately 0.5 percent. This is because the energy needed for ethanol and water to hydrogen bond is much lower than the higher energy required to keep ethanol evenly distributed with gasoline. Because of this, ethanol and water will continue to preferentially bond until the ethanol and water drop out of solution, a process known as “phase separation.” A Wikipedia entry on 85 mentions that phase separation of E85 can occur with as little as 1% water contamination: The article states: "In addition to corrosion, there is also a risk of increased engine wear for non-FFV engines that are not specifically designed for operation on high levels (i.e., for greater than 10%) of ethanol. The risk primarily comes in the rare event that the E85 fuel ever becomes contaminated with water. For water levels below approximately 0.5% to 1.0% contained in the ethanol, no phase separation of gasoline and ethanol occurs. For contamination with 1% or more water in the ethanol, phase separation occurs, and the ethanol-water mixture will separate from the gasoline. This can be observed by pouring a mixture of suspected water-contaminated E85 fuel in a clear glass tube, waiting roughly 30 minutes, and then inspecting the sample. If there is water contamination of above 1% water in the ethanol, a clear separation of ethanol-water from gasoline will be clearly visible, with the colored gasoline floating above the clear ethanol-water mixture." Temperature is a major determining factor in the threshold for phase separation. The lower the temperature, the less tolerance for water. (Phase separation is more likely in cold weather.)

OBTW, later in the same article, there is this useful tidbit of information for wound-be still builders: "For those making their own E85, the risk of introducing water unintentionally into their homemade fuel is relatively high unless adequate safety precautions and quality control procedures are taken. Ethanol and water form an azeotrope such that it is impossible to distill ethanol to higher than 95.6% ethanol purity by weight (roughly 190 proof); regardless of how many times distillation is repeated. Unfortunately, this proof ethanol contains too much water to prevent separation of a mixture of such proof ethanol with gasoline, or to prevent the formation of formic acid during low temperature combustion. Therefore, when making E85, it becomes necessary to remove this residual water. It is possible to break the ethanol and water azeotrope through adding benzene or another hydrocarbon prior to a final rectifying distillation. This takes another distillation (energy consuming) step. However, it is possible to remove the residual water more easily, using 3 angstrom (3A) synthetic zeolite pellets to absorb the water from the mix of ethanol and water, prior to mixing the now anhydrous ethanol with gasoline in an 85% to 15% by volume mixture to make E85. This absorption process is also known as a molecular sieve. The benefit of using synthetic zeolite pellets is that they are essentially comparable to using a catalyst, in being reusable and in not being consumed in the process, and the pellets require only re-heating (perhaps on a backyard grill, in a solar reflector furnace, or with heated carbon dioxide gas collected and saved from the fermentation process) to drive off the water molecules absorbed into the zeolite.

Also BTW, I found the following at a Mercury Marine web site that confirms my assertion that ethanol tanks should be kept as full as possible for long term storage: "A partially full tank is not recommended because the void space above the fuel allows air movement that can bring in water through condensation as the temperature cycles up and down. This condensation potentially becomes a problem."

Regarding the HK "416" [gas piston operated M16]s. I found a video about them. Do you think that [semi-auto only variants of] these rifles--or at least upper receivers--will be available to civilians any time soon? Also, do you know if they make a .308 [AR-10] version of the gas [piston] operated .223 you linked to? Thanks, - S.F.

JWR Replies: As background, I should first explain that standard AR-15s, M16s, M4s and AR-10s use gas tube impingement rather than a gas piston to operate their actions. This blows powder fouling back into the action. Heckler und Koch of Germany greatly improved the design with a gas piston upper receiver. (The same thing was first done 20+ years ago by Walt Langendorfer of Rhino Systems, but it took a while for the idea to catch on.) Just a few HK 415/416 uppers have hit the U.S. market thusfar. These are designed and manufactired by POF-USA. Sadly, they do not interchange with original HK-made 416 parts. The uppers sell for around $1,225 each. That is a lot of money for what is just a quasi-clone upper! (For about the same price, you could buy a complete SIG 556 rifle--also gas piston operated--which are finally shipping to dealers in the US. With the passage of time there surely will be many 416s produced and the price will inevitably fall--even for the German-made originals. Also, no doubt, there will be U.S.-made "415" (semi-auto) and "416" (full auto) upper clones (of various quality/parts interchangeability) produced.
My personal prediction is that the families of deployed soldiers in the States and/or soldiers themselves about to deploy to The Big Sandbox will start buying HK 416 uppers at their own expense. (If I were recalled to active duty, then I certainly would!) Ditto for privately purchasing an ACOG TA-01-NSN scope.) I also predict that these uppers will be the source of envy and possibly even threatened Article 15 non judicial punishment charges for the soldiers that take them on overseas deployments. I suspect that the media will get their teeth into this story and will not let go. There will be lots of acrimony (just like with the body armor procurement snafus that led to soldiers buying their own commercial off-the-shelf body armor). The pointed question will be: "Why are we still fielding the jam-prone standard M16s and M4s with a fast-fouling gas tube action, when something better (contributing to soldier safety) is readily available? So eventually Uncle Sam will be shamed into procuring HK-416s (or equivalents) as an upgrade for at least the Combat Arms regiments, if not the entire U.S. Army.

In answer to your second question: I think that with the large number of AR-10 vendors out there, it was inevitable that several of them would start making gas piston uppers that are at least similar to the "416" upper design. The first to hit the market was the POF "P-308" AR-10, but I'm sure that there will soon be others.

Hawaiian K. sent us this: More on honeybee CCD, from Der Spiegel. Are genetically modified crops to blame? And Brian H. sent a link to this article from England that was featured in The Drudge Report, which suggests that cellular phone transmissions might be to blame.

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From RBS: Sagging Housing Industry hits largest homebuilders

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Also from RBS, shades of 1929: The NASD issues a rare warning to investors on excessive stock and bond purchases made on margin

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Reader Jim H. mentioned that Sam's Club membership warehouse stores are now stocking some long term storage foods.

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We are pleased to announce that we added GunBroker to our roster of Affiliate Advertisers.

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The mass media is abuzz about the massacre at Virginia Tech, where Cho Seung-Hui, a foreign student used a pair of handguns (9mm and .22 rimfire) to kill 32 unarmed people. The mainstream media pundits are pointing fingers at the college administration that failed to raise an alarm after Cho killed his first two victims, and fled. Two hours later, he killed 30 more students, and then himself. But the issue that the media is failing to ask is: Why were all of his victims unarmed? The answer: Because it was against school policy to have guns on campus, and to be caught with a gun was grounds for expulsion. Blogger Lester Hunt notes: "...in 2005 there was a bill in Virginia that would have allowed students with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns on campus, but it died in committee. (Hat-tip to David Beito here.) The victims of this atrocity had been deliberately disarmed by their own government. Adding horribly to the irony of this is the fact that one Larry Hinker, a Virginia Tech spokesperson, praised the death of this bill: 'I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions,' Hinker said on Jan. 31, 2006, 'because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.'"

We have seen these massacres played out over and over (and revisited umpteen times on CNN.) One underlying theme is apparent: Mass murderers prefer to do their work in places where they know that they will be facing unarmed victims. Will schools change their "gun free zone" policies because of this incident? I doubt it. All that we will likely see is liberal politicians dancing in the blood, screaming for more "gun control." SurvivalBlog reader JB in Nashville notes: "[this incident is] ...re-igniting the debate on the reinstitution of the assault weapons ban (H.R. 1022.) The impulse to "do something" is powerful. Get your normal-capacity magazines now!"

Be sure to read the commentary by Oleg Volk, as well as the commentary from our correspondent Israel, below.

And I may sound like one of those MK-ULTRA conspiracy theorists, but I have three questions:

1.) Why do so many of these mass murderers conveniently shoot themselves in the head at the end of their killing sprees?

2.) Why are so many of these mass murderers on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants like Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Celexa, or Prozac?

3.) Why do so many of these mass murder incidents take place when there is a major piece of gun control legislation already up for consideration by congress?

Today we present another article for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Livestock, while not strictly essential to post-TEOTWAWKI survival, are certainly on the to-have list of the majority of all survival-minded individuals. However, it is also a subject rarely broached within those same circles, and concise, laymen’s term pointers are a hard find. For the most part where the U.S. is concerned, what was once knowledge crucial to the survival of men the world round has now dwindled, in effect, to the level of a hobby.
In brief, I'll cover the three most basic issues which apply to all manner of livestock, and then broach species-specific information. I encourage everyone with even a mild interest in keeping livestock unfamiliar to them to get involved with the animal as soon as possible: most community colleges, for instance, have cost-effective, basic courses concerning animal science of all types.
Space is a governing factor, where livestock are concerned - and will often dictate what sort of livestock you have. A good rule of thumb for larger animals (horses, cattle, llamas, etc.), is that two acres of pasture should be available for every individual. With any less, the pasture can easily become overgrazed, and subsequently barren and/or muddy, which can lead to such diseases as foundering, and may also, via rain runoff, damage any nearby crops. A good ten feet or so of fallow ground should be placed between crops and pastures, to greatly reduce damaging runoff and also to give grasses a 'handhold' from which they can always re-establish themselves into the pasture. (A brief, comprehensive guide to pasture management can be found here.)
Feed is critically important, and most animals eat a surprising amount. Some animals, like goats, can forage for themselves quite effectively in almost any season, if left to their own devices in a large enough enclosure. Others, notably cattle and horses, have been raised so that they expect food - grain and hay - to be brought to them periodically during all seasons, most importantly winter, and have generally lost the ability to winter themselves. Will you have enough acreage to grow enough hay to last your animals through the winter? Or the tools to harvest and bale it? An interesting solution to this is to mix corn stalks with hay. When done in a fairly small ratio, this roughage has no adverse effects on the animal, and can greatly extend the life of your hay supply. Another alternative would be to purchase animals raised to winter on their own: but these animals are often under-socialized to human contact, and can be a bit of a handful to manage.
Futurity. You’re not keeping these animals to have eaten them all within a season – you’re wanting to create a sustainable ecosystem. Look at your retreat location critically, and find animals suited and accustomed to the terrain and climates. Then look even more critically at the animals you want to stock it. For most big-time livestock operations, a certain amount of line breeding in stock is acceptable: you want to avoid this when choosing the few individual animals that are going to be your potential lifeline, especially with smaller animals that have frequent breeding cycles. Letting rabbits or chickens inbreed out of neglect is one of the fastest ways to reduce their utility (especially as feed animals), so keeping males and females separate, and creating breeding records, can be a sure lifesaver. With bigger stock (cattle, horses, etcetera…) inbreeding is less of a problem, but should still be a concern: few people have the land, finances, and know-how to manage herds of livestock, which reduces your potential gene pool immensely. With luck, a neighbor might allow you breeding rights to a bull or stallion for a modest barter fee – and on the other hand, keeping an in-tact male on hand might offer similarly rewarding opportunities for trade. As a special note, extremely few fish breeders care about inbreeding in their stock: typically, only fish with very obvious malformations are destroyed. It’s a good idea, if you’re going to stock a pond, to buy your fish from at least two different vendors.
My top-choice breed of horse for post-apocalyptic living would be a BLM-captured Mustang [feral horse]. These animals aren’t much to look at, but they’re small and hardy. When other horses are thin in winter, waiting at the gates for hay, these animals will be fat and glossy, digging up grass roots to eat. They prosper naturally in almost every type of terrain and climate, and are priced at a steal. At BLM auctions, a single horse will usually sell for between 100 and 300 dollars. This, of course, means you’re stuck with a wild horse, but the BLM also sells trained-to-ride Mustangs at a gently higher price. Most of these horses weren't sold at their first or second auctions, and then trained through prison good-behavior programs. Runner up would be a Percheron. These are draft horses, so they’re more than capable of carrying or pulling an extraordinary weight – and they’re often trained to ride, drive, and occasionally even plow. Typically, most drafts have a slow and easygoing temperament, which is an especially key trait if you have children. Since drafts are rather ‘out of fashion’, you can usually get a well-bred, well-trained horse for between 1 and 3 thousand. Often these horses are sold in driving pairs at deep discounts. There are hundreds of breeds of horses, and it’s a good idea to stick to ‘working’ breeds. The ‘eventing’ breeds tend to be more high strung, and their popularity often results in bad breeding practices.
If you’re wanting to maximize the utility of your cattle, you want a breed that gives a high meat return but is also good for milking. For this (and especially if you’re new to cattle), I would recommend Brown Swiss. These animals are slow and gentle to the point of extreme lethargy, making them easy handling even for young children. Calving is easily one of the hardest parts of owning cattle – the list of possible complications is extraordinary – and these cattle are rather renowned for their easy time of it. They’re hardy and don’t need much looking after, and are very suitable for colder climates. If you’re looking to maximize the lifelong utility of your cattle, the South Devon is a safe bet. Again, calving is a big part of owning cattle, which is what warrants this breed as second choice – they’ve been aptly nicknamed ‘the maternal beef’. These cattle, unlike most, produce milk and calves well into their teens.
As a special note, miniature cattle are starting to gain popularity, and as I don’t have any experience with them, I won’t be so brash as to make the recommendation: however, I have heard a lot of positive things from small family beef farms about their utility, especially for small acreage, and I encourage others to look it up.
Small Ruminants:
For the most part, I recommend sheep more than goats; they’re less predisposed to sickness, and are generally much less ornery. If you’re prepared to acquire a herding dog, sheep are much easier to herd and shift than goats, and there is the added benefit of their fleece (but if you don’t want to go through the trouble of de-fleecing, there are some breeds of sheep without wool). However, with sheep, there is a notable safety concern: do not, under any circumstances let pregnant women near lambing ewes, because the same chemical that triggers aborting in ewes can trigger aborting in women. If you’re not terribly concerned with wool yield or quality, I recommend Suffolk sheep.
Goats revert to their feral state faster than any other domestic animal with the exception of the house cat. In my experience, they are notorious escapees, a bit on the sickly side, and take a considerable amount of physical wrangling to manage. However, if they suit your fancy, I would recommend the Kinder breed, hands down. They’re medium sized dual-purpose goats (milk and meat), and does average out in maturity as about 115 pounds. They have between 3 to 6 kids a year, which will each weigh around 80 pounds in 14 months… They are extremely efficient meat converters.
Geese and ducks can be just as useful as chickens, generally because they’ll tend to feed themselves more often. One thing few consider about raising chickens is the fact that a good deal of corporate-bought chicks won’t sit their eggs – which can definitely present a problem, if you’re hoping to have more than one generation of chickens. A good way to work around this is to either just buy mature brooding hens from a small farmer, or one hen and her brood. Just as with cattle and small ruminants, there are dual-purpose breeds: breeds which are both good egg layers and have a high meat yield: Dominiques, Orpingtons, and Plymouth Rocks are all good for the job. If you want to slowly get used to the idea of owning chickens before going so far as to own a flock, country feed stores and the like will often sell color-dyed chicks for Easter (they can make an educational present for children). I recommend chickens very highly, because they’re small and hardy enough that you can keep them anywhere – even in the city, so long as you have a modest backyard – and not only will you have the benefit of fresh eggs every day, and the best chicken you’ve ever tasted – but you will be that much more prepared when the grid goes down, and the supermarkets are empty. A really great site about getting involved with raising chickens while living in the city can be found here.

Today we see again a senseless shooting in an American city on the same day we observe the remembrance of the Shoah. Sadly an innocent Jew who survived all of these years after being delivered from the Nazi death machine gave his life trying to disarm the attacker. Rumanian-born Prof. Liviu Librescu, 75 was an Israeli citizen and taught engineering at Virginia Tech where the shooting occurred. May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Had Prof. Librescu been in Israel his home perhaps the end of the story would have been different. Israelis
carry their weapons. Since the '73 war every soldier on leave must carry their rifle most of the time and anyone else with a permit (settlers and others with a reason to carry) are actively encouraged by the police to carry their weapon when in public. Had this happened here the likelihood that this killer being neutralized quickly is high, unfortunately schools and colleges in the US have become "gun free"
a very safe place for a killer to do their work without being interrupted.
We are very careful that Innocent life including one's own must be protected as we learn in Talmud Sanhedrin, discussing the burglar, mentioned in the Torah, who tunnels in knowing he may have to confront and kill the homeowner. We learn that if a person is coming up to kill you you must go up and kill him first.
That said I must admit that both times in university I carried, which was against the university rules. Fortunately there were no deadly metal detectors on campus at the time so my classmates had some protection from murderers. Unfortunately nobody saw fit to ignore the student rule book on Monday and they lost a chance to save many innocent lives.

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction is now at $300. This auction is for a scarce pre-1899 Mauser that was arsenal converted to 7.62mm NATO. It has a retail value of $375. The auction ends on May 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

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RBS pointed us to this commentary by Dr. Irwin Kellner: End of housing bubble should have been obvious to everyone

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$40 Million Worth of MREs Spoiled as FEMA Ran Out of Space

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"Hiker" noted this warning issued by John Rubino, about the "SLV" Silver exchange traded fund (ETF). In essence, there is no sure substitute for holding precious metals carefully hidden at home in your personal possession

"The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children." - The Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII, of England)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We have started a new SurvivalBlog benefit auction. This one is for a scarce pre-1899 Mauser that was arsenal converted to 7.62mm NATO! It has a retail value of $375. The auction ends on May 15th. The opening bid is $50 Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Hi Jim,
On the subject of refrigerators: I have used a basic model 12 volt DC Adler Barbour Cold Machine marine fridge for 15 years. This is already a 12 volt [DC] machine, so it does away with the need for an [AC] inverter; it is run straight from solar panels via a deep cycle battery bank. When I was building my boat (a.k.a. The Escape Pod) I contracted out the two part polyurethane spray foam insulation job for its steel hull. On that day, I already had my fridge box prepared, and the foam guys sprayed the exterior of my ice box to my specs, which amounted to a foot of poly foam all around the box. This is just about an R value of infinity.

Additionally, like most boat refrigerators, it is top-opening, so very little cold pours out each time the box is opened. (The top-opening lid has about 4" of sheet foam glued in place.) This fridge makes ice, and has a frozen side and a refrigerated side. Adler Barbour only provides the compressor and the evaporator, the part that surrounds the ice trays which actually gets freezing cold. (Jim, correct me if my terminology is off.) With the basic model I purchased, the owner has to build or provide the actual ice chest to install this inside. Since I had to build it, I built it with the foot of foam insulation surrounding it as described.

This system has worked beautifully for 15 years, but it takes two 120 watt solar panels plus a small wind generator to run the entire show (fridge, interior lights, navigation lights, fans, electronics, fresh water pump, radios, stereo, etc). If there is a lack of wind and/or sun, I just turn off the fridge, and the icebox can "coast" on its stored cold for several days with no harm to milk etc. The fridge is still the biggest single power draw, so turning it off allows all of the other systems to operate as usual on the lower power input from wind and sun. This setup would work just as well at a remote cabin as on the water.

To my thinking, building a cabin electrical system that mainly uses 12 volt DC RV components makes a lot of sense. They can all be operated directly from sun and wind via 12 volt storage batteries. Ocean sailors have been living a "first world" lifestyle this way for decades. My self-built Escape Pod is also wired for 110 AC, for time spent at the dock, but the 110 just goes into the battery bank via a converter. Even dockside, we mostly live a 12 volt life, with the exception of other electrical stuff I can plug into my 110 AC outlets, such as big household box fans, large power tools etc. But when unplugged from the dock we can live a classy "first world" life, 100% off of the sun and wind. - Matt Bracken


This is pertaining to the 4/14 thread that reads: "Refrigeration is only a big problem for survival when one makes poor choices and is dependent on obtaining fuel for a generator to power a typically inefficient refrigerator. Refrigeration is relatively easy if one has planned ahead and made the right investments in both refrigeration and power generation before a crisis when one can still get the required system components."

Having lived off grid now for 7 years, using storage food and homegrown food for slightly more than 80% of our total food needs, I would say that we now value refrigeration much more than we used to. And no, we do not use it to keep beer cold, make ice cubes or anything silly like that.

We have a "Conserv" model fridge and with that running constantly, plus the ever present "ghost loads" from DVD/VCR, microwave, answering machine, portable phone, etc. the inverter will show just 1 amp being used. I call that efficient enough.

We are in a hot, humid environment, which also has helped us to appreciate the refrigeration.

Could we do without it? Yes. Are we basing all of our plans on having refrigeration? No. Will we use it as long as possible? Yes.

One thing to think of also is the trade off's. For example- say your cooking for a dozen people with storage food. Just the prep work involved ties up more than a few people that could be tending animals, raising crops, standing guard, etc. Instead of 3 time consuming and labor intensive (most true food storage meals are somewhat labor intensive), you make two or even just one large meal and use the leftovers for several other meals that day.

In a hot, humid environment food spoils quickly. To me it's a trade off in using less fuel (cooking once instead of three times) and having more manpower available for other tasks.

Despite the common thought that folks "have" to store board games, fiction books, etc. because there will be so much free time if TSHTF, actual practice runs will show you that there is usually much to do, even in the wintertime. Hope this helps. - Mr. Lima

Dear Editor:
Regarding photovoltaic (PV)-powered refrigerators, wouldn't it be easier to get a propane fridge and just keep a small fire going to power it? - T.G. in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Converting a propane refrigerator or freezer to use another fuel is possible, but the heat generated must be kept fairly constant. Their designs do lend themselves to conversion by a clever (and cautious) tinkerer to other gasses (such as natural gas), or perhaps fluids (such as kerosene or alcohol) , but conversion to solid fuels such as wood or coal is problematic. Propane itself is a viable option, but it does not have the long term post-collapse survival potential of PV solar. Consider where you live, in Hawaii. Where does your propane come from? Not from Hawaii! It is shipped in, in the form of crude oil which is then fractioned. Propane is one of the refinery fractions that is then distributed. (And, BTW, liquefied natural gas LNG importation is presently being considered, for conversion of Hawaii's oil-fired utility power plants.) But solar power comes to you direct from Old Sol. I'm not saying that PV power is an absolute panacea. Monocrystaline panels can last a lifetime, although a freak hail storm could shatter them. And granted, battery banks are problematic, since lead acid batteries eventually sulfate, even if they are kept fully charged. (You have to swap out your batteries every eight or nine years--a recurring expense--but this is still cheaper than propane in the long run, and offers far greater self-sufficiency for disaster situations, especially for you in Hawaii, where so many essential commodities have to be imported.

Mr. Rawles:
I've seen your comments on the pros and cons of registered [Class 3] full autos [in the United States]. But can't a similar effect be accomplished with a "Tac Trigger" or "Hellfire" [or similar device] for someone like me, who plans to have a marginally-manned retreat? They are banned in California, but here in Arizona, they are legal to own and use. Merci, - G.H.

JWR Replies: I don't consider trigger reset devices particularly effective, because of the way that a shooter has to loosely hold a rifle to get it to bump fire sequentially.This is not conducive to practical accuracy. Some have suggested that there might be circumstances where a "show of force" might be in order, to convince a band of looters to move on to greener pastures. You could load a couple of magazines with all tracers, and then "bump fire" them over the heads of the Bad Guys, in the hope that it will scare them off. But I mention this only with a strong proviso: I am doubtful that it would be an effective tactic unless you are up against someone with little or no combat experience. It is more likely that this would be correctly perceived as merely a bluff, and the Bad Guys will return with greater stealth and cunning, probably on a different salient. In essence, it is better to aim to hit, and bloody their noses. That is the way to convince them to move on. Precisely aimed semi-automatic fire is much preferable "spray and pray" bump firing. The Muy Malo Hombres will not show respect not for sheer volume of rifle fire, but they will for concerted retreat defense where nearly every shot finds its mark. Looters will not want to take those kinds of casualties. Only suicidal attackers would press their advance in the face of mounting casualties. We are, after all, talking about a post-collapse situation where there will be a dearth professional medical care available. Without proper care, even superficial wounds could lead to sepsis and death.

The paper trail associated with buying trigger reset device via mail order might someday become a liability. Notably, the BATFE issued an "about face" ruling on the $1,000 Akins Accelerator spring-loaded bump firing retrofit stock for 10/.22 rifles. They first approved it, but then later redefining it as a "machinegun". This illustrates that purpose-built trigger reset spring devices could be outlawed at any time, by some bureaucrat's decree. Remember that the BATFE is notorious for seizing the sales records of manufacturers and importers and then visiting individual purchasers to collect ex post facto banned items. (In recent years they've knocked on doors looking for both machinegun parts kits and "80% complete" receivers.) And BTW, there is no need to buy a Tac Trigger, since fairly reliable bump firing (with augmented trigger reset) can be accomplished with just a rubber band, as shown in this video. And I don't think that rubber bands will be banned anytime soon.

Reader H.H. sent us a link to this article with a different view of peak oil at the IBD: Running On Empty? Not Yet

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One of the folks over at The Claire Files mentioned the My Fallout Shelter web site. It has some very useful maps on fallout pattern prediction (very scary for easterners!), as well as some free downloadable document on fallout shelter construction.

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Not the slightest bit survival or preparedness related, but you gotta love this piece of jet jockey lore, by way of our friend Kit's entertaining blog: “ASPEN 20” – SR-71 – Ground Speed Check

"No one will ever look out for you as well as you will look out for yourself." - Sid R. Real

Monday, April 16, 2007

Congrats to JMA, the high bidder in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction that ended last night. Thanks for your generous bid! We will be starting another auction within a few days.

The following are the responses that we've received thusfar in our current poll on Lessons Learned:

I didn't the follow instructions on the bottle and I only took antibiotics until fever broke, then stopped. Fever came back and had to switch antibiotics.

I didn't floss my teeth for years thinking brushing my teeth was enough. Ignored continual bleeding from gums and didn't visit a dentist for 15 years. When I went I found out that I had advanced gum disease and jaw bone loss far beyond my years. Surgery was required. I've been flossing every day now. If I hadn't made this change I'd have started losing teeth within 10 years.

On a day hike I relied on a GPS and ignored my own sense of direction and nearly got stuck out at high altitude at night without any shelter supplies. Could have killed both of my kids.

Bought a bunch of meat, dehydrated it and put it in a vacuum sealed bag. Two months later it was all molded.

I assumed that a brand new rifle I had bought would work. Didn't shoot it for a year. When I did it had problems that required it be sent back to the factory for repair.


Mr. Rawles:
I bought a case of CCI Blazer .357 Magnum ammo, aluminum cased. Blazer is fine for semi-autos. Not so good in revolvers - the case expands and I couldn't punch them out with more than one round in the gun
Moral: make sure your ammo works in it's intended platform - always.
Stupid avoided - courtesy of the good folks at Olympic Arms: steel-cased / lacquered 7.62 x 39mm ammo has been gumming up their K-30 AR carbines. Sustained fire heats up the chamber and melts the lacquer. When the gun cools, the chamber is pooched, making feed/extraction reliability iffy. Stupid prevention: use brass, or zinc-plated ammo ( Barnaul Silver ). See moral ...

My first big survival mistake was buying a Ruger ultralight all-weather rifle, which weighs around 6 lbs empty, chambered in .30-06. I'd done lots of research and knew it was effective to every conceivable range, was common and available, and would kill just about any animal I cared to imagine...but I'd never fired one. It kicked like a mule and left me black and blue from firing exactly 8 rounds in it. I never fired it again and sold it for slightly more than I paid for it, with the rest of the box of ammo. It wasn't that the rifle was bad. It was that it was too light for the caliber on a brand new shooter with no training in handling recoil.

The right thing to do would have been to buy that rifle in either .243 Winchester or .270 Winchester, the former being slightly preferable since its enough for California deer and is a surprisingly good target round, better than .270 due to better quality bullets. And in a 6 lb rifle, its also very light recoil. The memory of that recoil shied me away from .30 caliber rifles for several years and it wasn't until I fired an M44 Mosin Nagant that I learned how to handle serious recoil. That [.30-06] Ruger set back my rifle marksmanship education around three years.

Of course, I've met guys who were tougher than me who foolishly bought .300 Win Mag rifles and winced around 5 minutes after each and every shot. I got a headache-inducing concussion from firing a 7mm Remington Magnum in a Savage hunting rifle. Very sharp recoil. Glad it wasn't mine. I also met guys who shot the .338 Ultramag with muzzle brakes and made 38 inch groups at 300 yards (that's big enough to miss a moose, BTW.) It was the .22 LR which taught me proper trigger control and breathing. And the .223 which taught me handloading and further accuracy since the ammo was better than the .22 LR that my rifle liked to be fed (.22's vary that way quite a bit.)

I suppose I shouldn't have bought the M44, and the Mauser, and the .308, and the 7mm-08, and the .338-06 after I'd already proved myself a marksman with the .223. I should have just bought a .308 and dealt with the recoil, loading 130 grain bullets until I was used to it with heavier rounds. But the upshot is I have rifles to fire all those different [types of] ammo. But I don't own a .30-06 or a .270 Winchester, or a .243 Winchester either. The 7mm08 does everything those do.

Knowing what I know now, and knowing that .308 ammo is expensive and the surplus is mostly cr*p, I'd probably go for a 7mm'08 re-barreling of a .308 autoloader for the most flexibility and recoil reduction in a lighter battle rifle yet retain penetration and wounding capability. Something like the FN SCAR-H (Heavy) and keep the .308 barrel in reserve for when I run out of my good ammo. Swapping the barrel takes minutes, after all. Now, if only we civilians could get them...


I started out my gun owning career with some clunkers - among others a Mossberg 500. (Yes, I know lots of people love them) but mine was a total [Piece of Schumer] (POS). The safety on top would engage from recoil and racking the slide, not conducive to follow up shots, I also had the Para Ord that I told you about a while back, a POS [Ruger] Mini-14, that could never shoot straight and was seriously tempted by a Star, Rossi and some other real turds that I was talked out of prior to purchase.
Also stick with quality glass, Leupold at a minimum and Swarovski / Kahles if you can afford it. I have wasted money on Burris and Simmons and other Chinese cr*p. Maybe go Nikon if that's all you can afford
If I was recommending a battery to a new shooter I would say, stick with a quality handgun, in 9mm, .40, .357, .44 or .45 made by S&W, SIG, Glock, Kimber, Colt, Browning, Ruger, and stay far away from lower tier B and C guns unless they are free or 'no papers'. Get a good bolt rifle in .223, and in .308 or 30-06, semi auto in same .223 and in .308 or 30-06 (Winchester, Rem, Springfield Armory, Savage, or sporter Mauser and a .22 handgun and rifle (10/22 or a CZ bolt rifle) and a good 12 and/or 20 gauge shotgun (Browning or Remington or Benelli). Family heirlooms and inheritances in goofy calibers not withstanding.
My problem is that I now want to get a 7mm Mauser, a .22-250, .358 Winchester, and some others just to play around. because I can afford to, not because I need one in that caliber, I have rifles that will hunt anything. I don't need these other calibers. My main point is stay with tier A quality arms in common calibers.


Mr. Rawles,
To add to the what not to do, embarrassing mistakes I have made. I have a few to share that I think are quite illuminating for safety and personal reasons.
Number one and dangerous was as a young reloader, now over 25 years ago in 1981 after about a year of getting into the macho (and stupid) habit of loading close to max. Firing a Colt manufactured first series AR-15 with .223 loaded to the max, only one load that may have had just an extra grain or two over maximum (as I found several out of that batch of 100 that were one to two grains over, once pulled and checked). As luck would have it the damage to the AR was relatively minimal: a burst and split gas tube, bent ejection cover, hand-guard damage, and one frightened and lucky shooter - me... Luck because the damage could have been catastrophic and I was not wearing protective eyewear. Those are both major mistakes I do not make now, eyewear and loading quality control / conservative loading procedures.
Second mistake was a new pistol with out a complete check, the first time I racked the slide a broken firing pin had wedged just far enough forward to fire the round, the damage to the loading table at the range was not as bad as the embarrassment of firing into the range table in front of several friends all of us without hearing protection because we were preparing to fire rather than kill the table.
I have nightmares about that pistol to this day, had it not been for the fact that I was not pointing that pistol at a person that could have been a negligent discharge with a big price. Proper procedure would have had the firearm pointing at the range field or target area rather than over the range table.


While I have made plenty of mistakes on my road to preparedness, I see two that stand out. One is somewhat comical, while the other one is a trap that is all too common.

The first one happened about eight years ago now when I first really caught the preparedness "bug". I knew that water is second only to oxygen when it comes to immediate needs, so I decided to start stockpiling soda bottles to use for water storage. before too long, I have a basement full of sticky, nasty pop bottles of all shapes and sizes just waiting for me to rinse out and fill with water. About that time I realized that not only were half of them missing their caps, it also dawned on me just how much room all these bottles would take up. needless to say, I stopped stockpiling soda bottles. I did buy a British Berkefeld and two extra sets of filters though, and am getting ready to hook my rain gutters up to a food grade 50 gallon drum.

The other mistake I made is using my preparedness ideals to over-indulge in some over-lapping areas of interest. Like a lot of survivalists, I am a self confessed "gun nut". I like to shoot, and I truly value my time spent at the range. Just how many battle rifles does one need though? I currently own three different "assault rifles", each one using a different magazine and caliber. The story with handguns isn't quite as drastic, but I still have two types of pistol with their own caliber and magazines. While it isn't a bad idea to have some extra rifles and pistols on hand, the logistics of owning so many types and calibers is expensive to say the least. I did the same thing with communications gear. I love radios, and think that everyone who is seriously into preparedness should have a good quality communications receiver, but just how many does one really need? A table full? A room full? I have since realized what I was doing, and have issued a couple of new rules for myself: No more guns, and no more radios. I have enough of both, thank you, and the resources I could be spending on these hobbies are much better spent elsewhere. the cost of the last rifle and receiver I purchased would have bought an awful lot of food, or even paid for a solar backup to power all those radios when the power goes out.

The bottom line is that being prepared is more than an excuse to buy a lot of guns. They are a very important part of it, but they are not the only part. Before you buy that sexy looking AR, maybe you should ask yourself if you have enough provisions on hand to survive a week off the grid. If you do, then maybe it's not a bad purchase for your particular situation. If you don't, then your money could be better spent elsewhere. We live and we learn I suppose. Hopefully others will read my mistakes and learn from them.


I love SF's idea to share our "hiccups" as we all make them and we learn invaluable lessons from each. Three things come to mind quickly as things in which I largely disappointed myself more than anything. (On the brighter side, lessons learned pre-SHTF are all good!!)
Here are the topics of disgust:
1). Sawdust-based compost on Garden
2). Vacuum sealing spare garden seeds
3). Not putting my dust masks in a dry vermin resistant package.As for the sawdust compost mixture I tilled into my garden three years running I continually noticed a decline in yield. In further research I found that the sawdust "sterilizes" the soil by absorbing the key nutrients and not releasing them to what is needed. (This can be corrected with adding Nitrogen, but what if Nitrogen is not readily available)? In talking with [The] Seed Savers [Exchange], it sounds as if they recommend not vacuum sealing seeds as they are "living organisms" that will decrease in germination if sealed if not ruin your yield. Sounds like a good ol tight fitting can in a cool dark environment is as good as anything. I guess I have a bunch of sweet corn seed that is now squirrel feed. (Different food family than intended, but will not totally go to waste :-).As far as the dust masks are concerned, I had a few boxes of masks in case of a bird flu type scenario that did not get put into crates. These are now laden with mold from the lack of controlled environment that they were in. Now, it surely would be a health risk to inhale dust/mold spores directly into your system while hoping to filter out other harmful impurities. Can you say "lesson learned"?Someone may as well benefit from the mistakes I made. Humility, yes; Humor, No.

JWR Adds: This poll is still open. By all means, please send us additional "lessons learned", via e-mail. We will of course post them anonymously.

Dear Jim:
As my confidence in the dollar depreciates and my desire for skills increases, I'm wanting to convert FRNs into hands-on knowledge. What weeknight or weekend workshops would you recommend? Are there any places where you can learn Army Ranger skills without joining the military? Animal husbandry, and so on? - Spencer

JWR Replies: There is a tremendous wealth of free or low-cost classes available--enough to keep you busy every weekend of the year if you are willing to drive a distance. If you have time and just a bit of money, you can get some very well-rounded training in skills that are quite applicable to post-TEOTWAWKI living. In my experience, the most cost-effective training opportunities in the U.S. include:

American Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes

Local Community College, Park District, and Adult Education classes. They offer classes on metal shop, auto shop, wood shop, leather crafting, ceramics, baking, gardening, welding, and so forth.

RWVA Appleseed Shoots. These are held all over the nation. They offer great training for very little money. The West Side Sportsman's Club, located on the west side of Evansville, Indiana is hosting the national RWVA shoot on June 30 / July 1st. The Red Brush Gun Range, located on the east side of Evansville is having another Appleseed, and they're also having an Appleseed Boot Camp. The boot camp starts on Monday October 22 thru Friday Oct. 26th. Then the Appleseed Shoot is on Saturday Oct. 27 and Sunday Oct. 28. The deal is if you want to attend both the Boot Camp and the Appleseed match, you do so for $200. Yes, for just $200 you can have seven days of top notch marksmanship training.

U.S. Army ROTC classes, the ROTC Ranger program (administered by individual university ROTC Departments), and ROTC Leader's Training Course, aka Basic Camp). The first two years of the ROTC program--including Leader's Training Course--are available to any full-time enrolled undergraduate college student (including "cross-enrolled" junior college students) with no contractual obligation. Participation in the ROTC Ranger program by anyone other than enrolled ROTC cadets is usually up to the discretion of the instructor or the PMS. When I was in a ROTC Ranger program back in the early 1980s, we had two Marine Corps PLC students and an Administration of Justice (police science) major in our Ranger program, as supernumeraries. So even if you don't sign up for ROTC classes, you might be able to be involved in a Ranger program. Of particular note: If you sign up for the four week ROTC Leader's Training Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, you will actually get paid to attend, plus get a couple of free pairs of combat boots. To be eligible to participate in ROTC, you must be under 31 years of age on Dec 31 st of the year that you expect to graduate. (Or possibly 34 years old, with waivers.) The best chance to get a slot at the ROTC Leader's Training Course is during your sophomore year of college, but when I was there I met a graduate student that had wangled a slot. (He eventually got a direct commission, by virtue of his ROTC "contact hours")

LDS (Mormon) cannery classes/canning sessions. Many "wards" have their own canneries, which are generally open to non-Mormons. (OBTW, the LDS food storage calculator web page is a very useful planning tool.)

FEMA / CERT Classes (Classroom and Internet courses, some with team commitment)

ARRL amateur radio classes.

Species-Specific or Breed-Specific Livestock and Pet Clubs

NRA and State Rifle and Pistol Association training and shooting events

Fiber Guilds (spinning and weaving) and local knitting clubs

Mountain Man/Rendezvous Clubs (Blackpowder shooting, flint knapping, soap making, rope making, etc.)

University/County Agricultural Extension and Cattleman's Club classes on livestock, gardening, weed control, canning, et cetera

Medical Corps small group classes. I heard that they have scheduled just one hands-on Combat/Field Medicine Course thusfar for 2007. It will be at the OSU Extension Campus, in Belle Valley Ohio, April 20-21-22. That class is full, but check their web site for additional course dates. They offer great training--including advanced life saving topics that the American Red Cross doesn't teach--at very reasonable cost.

Volunteer Fire department (VFD) classes (usually with some commitment)

Candle and Soap Making Clubs/Conventions

Boy Scouts and 4H. Informal, un-enrolled ("strap hanger") training is available for adults--just take your kids to the meetings and don't leave.

I would also consider these less important (but still worthwhile) training opportunities, as time permits:

Sheriff's posse and Search and Rescue (SAR) programs

Police department "Ride Along" and Police Reserve programs

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) courses.

Civic/Ethnic Club cooking classes

Michael Z. Williamson flagged this one: Sean Rakhimov's recent commentary on silver. The demand side of the silver price equation is inexorable. I still strongly believe that spot silver will rise tremendously in the next few years.

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Thanks to all of the recent Ten Cent Challenge subscribers. I'm glad to see that so many of you find SurvivalBlog informative, useful, and worthy of support. My sincere thanks!

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Larry LaBorde, was quoted at 321Gold.com, on April 13th: "The United States dollar index has dropped below 82 today. We would do well to remember that the index is just a measure of the USD strength in relation to other currencies. It is sort of like measuring the USD with a rubber yardstick. While all currencies are racing to zero the USD just got a little ahead of the others. Check out www.coinflation.com and scroll down until you get to the current melt value of US coins. Notice a nickel is now worth over 9 cents. It seems that the USD has devalued faster than the US mint can cheapen its coins. A safe investment today is to simply trade federal reserve notes for nickels at your local bank and make an immediate profit of 80%. While some people may remind you that it is illegal to melt US coinage, just remember the pre-1965 silver coinage. They do not have to be melted to be worth more than their face value. It will not be long before this little bargain disappears. Take advantage of this easy money while you can. It is just one more example of how fast the USD is devaluing before our eyes."

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SF in Hawaii mentioned this documentary segment on the venerable AK-47 and the later AK-74 variant.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money --- only for wanting to keep your own money." - Joseph Sobran

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Today is the last day of bidding in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot:. The auction ends on April 15th. The current high bid is at $425. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

SurvivalBlog reader L.C. recently asked me: "What's your novel "Patriots" like? Is it like the Jerry Ahern ["The Survivalist"] books?" My novel "Patriots" is hard to describe. It is a fast-paced novel, but it is not at all like Jerry Ahern's novels. I did my best to weave a lot of practical and tactical information into the storyline. To illustrate, here is an excerpt from one of the later chapters in the novel (titled "Radio Ranch") that shows the style:

Edgar Rhodes had just turned 72 when the Crunch hit. He had lost his wife two years earlier, to cancer. His only son, an electrical engineer, had moved his family to Brazil a decade earlier. Edgar was alone at the ranch. The sign by the front door read “Radio Ranch”, and the place certainly lived up to its moniker. He had selected the property 40 years earlier, specifically because of its favorable ridge
top siting. The ranch parcel was 35 land-locked acres. His road transited deeded right-of-ways through two neighboring properties to get out to the county road. Edgar liked the privacy. The ranch had plentiful water—a big spring near the bottom of the property—but not much else. There were no trees and there was not much topsoil. Rocks poked through the surface of the soil throughout the property. But Edgar liked his ridge top. He said that it gave him “line of sight to the world.” Eventually, five antenna masts were scattered around the house.
The largest was his “moon bounce”, perched atop a 60 foot tower. There were also dipole and sloper antennas stretched as far as 88 yards from the house, in several directions.
Edgar used a pair of hydraulic rams to lift the water to the house. They were very inefficient, but reliable. The 25 gallons a minute at the spring yielded only 5 gallons a minute at the house.

o o o

Thirteen months after the Federals invaded the Palouse Hills region, Edgar was the recipient of a package that he hadn’t expected. A knock on his door at 11 p.m. woke him from a sound sleep. Edgar put on his robe and slippers and picked up his Belgian Browning 12 gauge shotgun. He was about to snap on the 24 VDC porchlight, when he heard a muffled but familiar voice through the door:
“Edgar, it’s me, Vern. Leave the light off! I need to ask you a favor! You’ve got to hide this package.” Edgar drew back the heavy bars that he had built for the top, middle, and bottom of the door. He opened the door warily, and asked, “What’s so important you have to come here in the middle of the night?” He could see his neighbor in the dim moonlight. There was a woman with him. They were silent. Edgar motioned inward with his hand, and said, “Well, come on in.”

Vern and the woman crept in, groping in the dark front hall. After Edgar had re-bolted the door, he lit a big “triple wick” candle and carried it to the kitchen. Vern and the unfamiliar woman followed him. They sat around the table, with the candle between them, lighting their faces. It was then that Edgar could see that the woman was emaciated. She appeared to be around 60 year old, with graying hair. Her eyes were sunken, and the skin around her jaw seemed taut. She also looked frightened. She kept glancing at Vern. Vern spoke in a jumble: “I’ve just gotta ask your help. This is Maggie. She
escaped from the Federal camp down at Gowen Field, three weeks ago. Folks have been shuttlin’ her north, here into rebel-controlled land. I can’t keep her.
I can barely feed my own family. I figured that since you were alone, and that because you eat good, that, well, you know . . .”
Edgar raised his hand to signal Vern to stop his chatter, and then asked, “Can you cook, Maggie?”
She nodded.
“ Can you mend clothes?”
She nodded again.
“Do you know how to shoot?”
She nodded again.
“Can you speak, Maggie?”
She laughed, and answered, “Of course I can speak!”
“How old are you?”
“How is your strength? You look something terrible thin.”
“I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I still have my strength. Will you hide me here?”
Without a pause, Edgar answered assuredly, “Certainly, ma’am. Nobody bothers me here. The Federals have never noticed me. Even if they did, they’d think I was an eccentric old hermit. Come to think of it, I am an eccentric old hermit. I suppose some day they’ll come looking, to confiscate my radios. But in the mean time, since I’m so far off the county road, nobody is going to notice that there’s somebody else living here.” Maggie beamed and said quietly, “God bless you.”

Vern stood up and made his good-byes, thanking Edgar Rhodes repeatedly, and giving Maggie a hug. As Edgar shook his hand, Vern said, “Now you take good care of this little gal, Edgar.” He turned and disappeared into the darkness. Edgar made Maggie a batch of scrambled eggs before bed. He apologized for not having any coffee or tea. As he walked her down the hall to the guest
bedroom, he said, “You can tell me all about your adventures in the morning.”
The next morning, Edgar went looking on the front porch, where he expected to find Maggie’s luggage. There was none. She had only the clothes on her back.
They consisted of a long and tattered gray dress, a pair of filthy tennis shoes with no socks, and an over-sized man’s forest green trench coat.

Over a breakfast of eggs, flat bread and honey, and slices of cheese, Maggie told her story: “We lived in Payette. My husband had died five years before the stock market crash, so I went to live with my daughter and her family. Three weeks after the troops and the UN administrators arrived, they came for our whole family: My daughter, my son-in-law, their two children, and me. Both my daughter Julie and my son in-law Mark were with the resistance. They were trying to organize groups in the neighborhood for sabotage. One of our neighbors must have informed on us.”
“They surrounded the house at 6 o’clock in the morning. Must have been 40 of them. They said that they’d burn us out if we didn’t come out with our hands up. They dragged Julie and Mark away in handcuffs. They took Mark’s guns and CB radio as “evidence.” They gave me, and the children just five minutes to pack a few clothes, while they stood there with Kalashnikovs pointed at us.
Then they searched me again, and they took everything that I had packed in the suitcases and the duffle-bag and scattered it across the yard, looking for
“contraband.” They laughed and kicked me while I was picking it all back up and trying to re-pack it.”
“When Mark shouted at them, the soldiers threatened to kill him. Finally, after I had most of the clothes picked up, they threw the bags up into the back of a big canvas-topped army truck, and handcuffed me next to Julie and Mark. They even handcuffed the kids. We were all connected to a big heavy chain—it looked like a big boat anchor chain, running lengthwise down the middle of the
truck bed. It was welded down at both ends.”

“They stopped and picked up another family later the same day, the Weinsteins. By the time they had them loaded in the truck, Mrs. Weinstein was having a nervous breakdown. To her, it was the Holocaust all over again. They had lost great grandparents and several great aunts and great uncles in the Nazi years in Germany. Seeing it happen all over again was just too much for her.”
“We were nearly 15 hours in that truck, without a drop of water. They only stopped once to let us relieve ourselves, and we had to do that in full view of everyone. They did what they called “double locking” the handcuffs, so that they wouldn’t tighten up, but even still they left horrible red marks. Poor Mark lost some of the circulation in his left hand, but the guards wouldn’t do anything about it. When they finally took the cuffs off of him, his hand was all puffed up. He must have had permanent nerve damage in that hand.”

" Gowen was a horrible place. We were put in a barracks with eleven other families. There were 59 of us in that barracks, at first. We had one large pot, and we had to do all of our cooking in that, as best we could. There was a weekly ration of spuds. And once in a while, there would be some beans, or bread, or wheat. But there was never enough. Once in a blue moon we’d get some rotten
lettuce or cabbage.”
“We never got a trial. There was never even any mention of it. And when we asked about appealing our confinement, or asked when we would be released, they just laughed at us. Most of the adults were expected to work. Some of it was just make-work. Others worked in the sweatshops. At Gowen, the big industry was boots. Julie was one of the boot makers. She worked 11 hours a day, with 15 minutes for lunch. If she didn’t do her quota of stitching, she was beaten.”
“They came most every day, to take away one or two people for interrogation. It was usually the men. They came back, usually a day or two later, looking ghastly. Sometimes they couldn’t walk. They were usually bleeding. Sometimes they were bleeding out of the rectum from being kicked so much. They often talked about the torture: beatings, whippings, electric cattle prods. Oh, and the bruises, so many bruises! I thank the Lord that I never got picked up for interrogation. I don’t think that I could have survived it.”

“ After three weeks, they came for Mark. He fought them. He hit one of the Belgian soldiers square in the nose, and I think he broke it. His nose bled like a headless chicken. They started beating Mark even before they drove off with him. They never brought Mark back. We were sure they must have killed him.”
“They let some of us older women go out to gather firewood, between the inner and outer fence. The inner fence was new, and had that dreadful razor wire. The outer fence was old. I found a gap where the chain link had parted at the base of a post. I pulled it up and squeezed through. I knew that if they spotted me outside the second fence that they’d shoot me down. But by then, I didn’t care.
I just wanted out of there. Julie had often told me, “Mom, if you ever have the chance to go, then go!” She said that I shouldn’t worry about her and the kids.
So I went without regrets.”
“I walked for three days, drinking out of stock ponds before somebody found me. Seven families helped hide me and move me along, by car, by wagon, and on horseback. All those families were a wonderful blessing. And now I’m here.”

Edgar asked, “Do you have any family, other than your daughter and her kids?”
“Then you are welcome to stay here, indefinitely.”
A week after she arrived, Edgar took Maggie as his common law wife.
Five weeks after Maggie’s arrival, Edgar unknowingly brought a bug back with him when shopping at the monthly Moscow barter market. He soon got over it, but when Maggie got the flu, she quickly grew dehydrated and weak. She died while Edgar was sleeping.
Edgar was convinced that if it were not for her malnourishment at the Gowen camp that Maggie would have recovered from the flu. Cancer had robbed him of his first wife, and now the Federals had robbed him of his second. He never forgave the Federals for that. Before he met Maggie, he had no desire to join the resistance. He sided with them, but did nothing to actively help. But when Maggie unexpectedly came into his life and then so unexpectedly left, it changed him. The day after he buried Maggie, Edgar started packing.

o o o

Soon after joining the resistance, Edgar was put in charge of the fledgling Signals Intelligence Section. He had had communications intelligence (Comint) experience many years before with the Naval Security Group. He had been stationed at Skaggs Island, at the north end of the San Francisco Bay. He soon put that experience to good use. Their well-camouflaged intercept site tents were
generally set up on low hills, usually within 20 miles of Moscow. They had already been operating for nearly a year, on a makeshift basis, using just a couple of Uniden multi-band scanners. When he joined, Edgar brought with him a wealth of Comint knowledge, organizational skills, and lots of additional equipment. This included Drake and Icom shortwave receivers, two additional scanners, a pair of “Gunnplexer” microwave transceivers, a spectrum analyzer, three cassette tape recorders, and several custom-made antennas. Edgar transformed the amateurish section into a professional unit of Comint specialists.

Edgar was a half-century older than most of the men and women in his section. They treated him like their adoptive grandfather. He was a self-professed “crotchety old man”, and they loved it. During some quiet times, he entertained them with old ditties that he played on his ukulele. He sang 1940s pop songs like “They Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil” and “Three Little Fishies.” The
young resistance fighters loved them.

The section got their most prized piece of equipment from the Keane Team, the winter after Edgar took over. It was a Watkins-Johnson AN/PRD-11 VHF man-portable intercept and direction finding set. It had been captured from the Federals, complete with an H-Adcock antenna array. Using microprocessor generated time-of arrival calculations with the H-Adcock antenna, the PRD-11 could provide lines of bearing on VHF signals, on a three digit display. The “WJ” could also do intercept (without DF) of HF signals. With the single WJ, they could only produce individual lines of bearing, but even this was a valuable for building an intelligence picture of the battlefield. The original sealed batteries for the PRD-11 were soon expended, but the resourceful crew at the intercept site provided the correct voltage for the system using car batteries. All of the other equipment at the site was similarly powered by car batteries, all of which were laboriously carried to the site, and back down to town for re-charging.

Eventually, there were six men and two women on the intercept team. They manned three round-the-clock intercept-shifts, with two intercept operators per eight-hour shift or “trick.” The “day trick” also had two extra staff members. The first was a Battlefield Integrator/Briefer who plotted “best estimate” enemy unit locations on an acetate-covered map board. The other was a Traffic Analyst
or “TA”, who reconstructed the enemy networks by analyzing the pattern of traffic. The TA’s most important time of the day came during the network roll calls that were conducted by the Federal and UN units each morning. Assisting the operational team were a full-time cook, three security men, two teenage message runners, and five “sherpas” who hauled food, water, and batteries to the site. Most of the sherpas had captured Alice pack frames with cargo shelves, a few had less comfortable 1950s-vintage army pack boards. All but one sherpa spent their nights with their families in town.

I am not sure if the majority of SurvivalBlog readers are interested in the following, but I am. It was inspired by your quote of the day for April 13, 2007, by Robert Nozick.

Here is a summary of an article at the Tax Foundation's Summary of Latest Federal Individual Income Tax Data, by Gerald Prante. It discusses the Federal portion of the US income tax burden. As one will see in the following, one productive American family works to support the burden of two American families, 100% of the time. Another productive family pays the bill for ten(!) families 70% of the time. Think about that each time you go out for supper with a bunch of friends and it comes time to pay.

This illustrates the mounting stress that is built into the system of "one person, one vote," given the 16th Amendment. Will the productive family continue to operate in the same way and pick up the dinner tab each time? Will the free-riders finally vote to kick in something before the productive family pulls out and moves to its retreat? Will the collective "They" come to the retreat and take property in lieu of the lost income tax to pay for the free-riders?

Here is some data from the above referenced report, which cites the IRS as the source of the data:

1. Between 2000-2004, pre-tax income for the top 1 percent of families grew by 7 percent. On the other hand, in that same time period, pre-tax income for the bottom 50 percent of families increased by 10.6 percent. The poor are getting richer and that's great.
2. The top 1% group of American families pay 37% of all Federal income taxes.
3. The top 10% group of American families pay 68% of all Federal income taxes.
4. The top 25% group of American families pay 85% of all Federal income taxes.
5. The top 50% group of American families pay a whopping 97% of all Federal income taxes.
6. The bottom 50% group of American families, half of us, pay 3% of the burden, essentially zero.

Yes, payroll taxes are taxes in addition to income taxes that come with the promise of specific benefits to the payer. They are supposed to pay for Social Security and Medicare when workers become eligible. My guess is that the top 25% group of American families (i.e. the rich with an annual family income of $60,000) are getting angrier. They are going to stop paying for dinner 85% of the time someday soon? Will they retreat [into non-taxpaying self-exile, like "Galt's Gulch" in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged]? I don't know. Will the rules change to squeeze them if they do?
Thank you again, James, for the inspiring quote of the day and your important work. - The DFer

Can you hear the rumble of the implosion? From Foreclosure Radar: California Foreclosure Sales Near $2 Billion in March (15% of all home sales!) Notably, 4,796 homes of the 5,316 homes at the foreclosure sales received no bids. (About 90%.)

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SF. in Hawaii flagged this: Scientists predict Southwest mega-drought--Climate models indicate region will be as dry as Dust Bowl for decades

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J.M. mentioned that the CMP has some decent prices on surplus .30-06 ammunition. Stock up, because the current ammo shortage is only going to get worse in the next few years!

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Euro hits new two-year high against dollar

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." - novelist Herman Wouk

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tomorrow is the last day of bidding in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot:. The auction ends on April 15th. The current high bid is at $425. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

This is in response to "Three Liabilities Addressed: Refrigeration, Sanitation, and Fuel" article [by James D.]: Refrigeration is only a big problem for survival when one makes poor choices and is dependent on obtaining fuel for a generator to power a typically inefficient refrigerator. Refrigeration is relatively easy if one has planned ahead and made the right investments in both refrigeration and power generation before a crisis when one can still get the required system components.

Most refrigerators and freezers are inefficient, often using 500 to 1,000+ watts per hour. Choosing the right refrigerator, adding insulation to its exterior, and being careful not to open it too much can get the load down to about 100 watts per hour. Australian Tom Chalko published an article in 2005 showing how to convert a standard chest freezer into an extremely energy efficient refrigerator that uses 0.1 KWH per day.

A 750 watt photovoltaic system (five 150 watt panels, a 750+ watt inverter, and a battery) is enough to power the 100 watt per hour refrigerator. However, Tom Chalko's design only needs one 40 watt panel [$300 to $400 at typical retail ripoff rates], a 40+ watt inverter [$34 at The Inverter Store], and one battery - the total investment would be about $500. Inverters will typically last 10 years for the premium brands (e.g. Fronius, Kaco, Xantrex, SMA America) while the panels will last 25 to 40 years. Note that using a 12 volt DC refrigerator eliminates the need for inverters.
One could easily stockpile several extra small inverters and store them in a Faraday cage. They also would be a good post-collapse trade good.

For multi-generational collapses once the inverters and solar panels die, lead acid batteries and DC direct driven wind turbine technologies are sustainable and could be locally manufactured using home garage scale workshops. In an absolute worst case scenario, [in northern climates where ponds and lakes freeze in winter] one uses the refrigeration solution used for hundreds of years in Europe:

1) Find a cave or build a sufficiently large underground root cellar.
2) Heavily insulate the structure using natural materials such as straw bales
3) Every winter, use the natural freezing cycles to make large volumes of ice blocks
4) Store the ice blocks in the structure and insulate them with saw dust
5) Store food in the portion of the structure surrounded by ice
6) Use smaller, insulated ice chest in individual homes for day-to-day refrigeration and resupply the ice chest with ice from the large storage cellar or cave every several days.

Ultimately, knowledge of the right appropriate technology (some high tech but mostly alternative design approaches successfully used in the past or in third world countries that were often abandoned in the West as cheaper energy destroyed their economics) can show us ways solve many of our daily technical problem.They can tell us what tools, supplies, and components we need to stockpile while they are still available (including many items that may not be on common survival check lists). They can also allow us to live in a more sustainable, low energy fashion that saves money in good times and maintains a minimum living standard in post-crash or post-disaster scenarios--when the bulk of the population who failed to prepare are struggling simply to live. - Dr. Richard

JWR Replies: I agree with you on the efficacy of PV-powered refrigeration. A small system can indeed produce sufficient power for a small refrigerator--certainly enough for insulin storage for a diabetic. Ditto for anyone with sleep apnea that is dependent on an electrically-powered constant positive airway pressure (CPAP) breathing machine. One such PV power system was detailed in SurvivalBlog back in early 2006. And, as recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog, pre-packaged PV power systems are available from Ready Made Resources. (A loyal SurvivalBlog advertiser.) They even offer free consulting on system sizing, site selection, and design.

Hi Jim,
I have been fortunate to acquire another batch of $49 MURS radios. In honor of Patriots Day and the wonderful support from your readers I am able to again offer them a
special deal. With the purchase of two or more radios you will get free shipping. Please see this special ordering page for details.
This offer will expire when supplies have been depleted so don't delay. These radios are ideal for spring and summer outdoor activities as well as for use in "hard times" communications.
Thanks! - Rob

RBS pointed us to another article on the unintended consequences of the ethanol boom: Wheres the Beef?? It Better Be in Your Freezer

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Some serious FFTAGFFR Reader Bill F. recommended this: Shift Happens. Bill's comment: "[It is] a video with information about extrapolating numbers about our population compared to China and India as well as education and technology rates of change. Stunning!"

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Chuck mentioned this essay by Prof. Goose, over at The Oil Drum: A Letter to My Brother: Peak Oil in Greater Detail

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Florida Guy sent this: "Wouldn't you like to know the population make-up of your new potential home town, and area? It's crime stats? Incomes? Cancer deaths? You can type in almost any city in the U.S. and get those questions answered, and many more, at ePodunk.com"

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand

Friday, April 13, 2007

Whenever you contact any of our advertisers--even our Affiliate Advertisers--please mention that you saw their ad on SurvivalBlog. Thanks!

The recent piece in SurvivalBlog outlines many of the advantages of belonging to a Volunteer Fire Department (VFD). The VFDs in many areas have women as members as firefighters and support. The VFD that you join will let you network with other folks who care about their home area. The good training is just one of the many perks. You will most likely get to know your local police officers. And if you live in an area that prohibits scanners in cars, as a firefighter you might be able to have one legally. Having scanners lets you know what is going on in your area. Regards, - Tom in Oregon

I haven't noticed this discussed on your blog, or any other for that matter. Is there anyway to protect a gun safe that uses the electronic key pad instead of the standard dial combination lock from electromagnetic pulse (EMP)? I wasn't thinking along those lines when I purchased it several years ago. I enjoyed "Patriots" immensely and will be re-reading it soon. Thanks for the terrific blog. - Bruce H.

JWR Replies: I mentioned this about a year ago in SurvivalBlog, but it is worth repeating: A steel gun vault body itself makes a decent Faraday cage. (Although a mesh RF gasket at the door perimeter would make it even better.) All that you really need to add is a flat steel can (such as a peanut can or Danish butter cookie tin) to cover the keypad assembly. Taping the can on works fine, but it will look tacky. A hinge attached to a square or rectangular tin with epoxy (allowing the can to swing to the left or right) might look better. Ideally, the tin should be grounded to the vault body. (Again, this looks tacky, but there is no way around it if you want a fully effective Faraday enclosure.)

If EMP is a major concern where you live (i.e. if you live within 250 miles of a major nuclear target), and your vault has an electronic lock then you should use silica gel rather than a Golden Rod dehumidifier in your vault. This is because the power cord for a Golden Rod can act as an unintentional antenna that might "couple" EMP to your vault's electronics. (One of the major "no-no's" with Faraday cages is to have any conductor that can carry RF penetrate the cage/container body.)

And, needless to say, to have a vault lock that is absolutely safe from EMP, the next time that you move, you should sell your current vault as an included "bonus feature" with your house. Then replace that vault with one that has a traditional mechanical combination lock. (I prefer S&G Group II locks.) Oh, and speaking of moving, I prefer Zanotti Armor brand six piece gun vaults that can be disassembled for ease of transport.


I am a recent (6 months) reader and learner from the SurvivalBlog and I really do appreciate all the work and information that you have shared with the world. Thank You! My survival preps are going slowly but steadily, and thank God I purchased a few cases of 308 for my M1A before the prices went ballistic.

Now for the meat of the subject. I notice that you have a ton of information on retreats but something that I notice is a lack of kitchen information, which is a must. If you don't have good cooking utensils, then all of your food preps are worthless.

Having spent 28+ years in the restaurant industry, I can recommend a few items that I think everyone should have in their retreat.

1) Good stainless steel chef, boning, serrated, paring and carving knives. These are readily available in any restaurant supply store for $10 to $30 each. The stainless is for longevity, ease of cleaning, and rust resistance. I also recommend a plastic handle for the same reasons (except rust of course). A good standard readily available knife brand is Dexter-Russell. I recommend the Sani-Safe line of the Soft Grip line. In my years I have seen the Sani-Safe knives take an unbelievable amount of abuse from untrained employees and keep right on going.

2) A good set of cast iron cookware. You know, Grandma's old skillet that is 60 years old and the best no-stick one out there! No, these are not the latest titanium nestling pots and pans for your BOB, but a very necessary basic need for your retreat. I say retreat because they are a little too heavy for the bug-out bag (BOB). I would include several of them like large skillets with lids, a Dutch oven, a variety of small sauce pans, and there is a wide selection of corn bread pans. The reason I recommend cast iron is longevity with minimum care. Once they are properly seasoned, they will literally last generations. I am a fan of the Lodge brand, probably because I have been to their factory in SE Tennessee. They can be found at www.lodgemfg.com and are a great source of information on cast iron. The fancy no-stick teflon that you probably have at home if fine but it can and will wear out, and how well will that thin bottom pan hold out in a camp fire? Cast iron can and will handle anything you can throw at it and even be used to bake bread in a campfire with the dutch oven and a good bed of coals. Remember [your time in the] Boy Scouts? JWR Adds: Lodge cast iron cookware is available from Promised Land Products in Montana. (One of our former advertisers. These are good folks with fair prices.)

3) A good pepper grinder with metal gears and a supply of pepper corns, and large granule salt or sea salt.

4) A mortar and pestle for grinding herbs, salt, and anything else that you might need to grind up finely.

If you have addressed these items in previous discussions, then my apologies, but I know some folks out there will bring their very expensive Calaphon cookware out to a retreat and be in trouble in a very short time if they have to cook over an open fire. Just my .02 caliber of information. - Mark C.

More on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), mentioning beehive population losses up to 70%: Mysterious disappearance of US bees creating a buzz

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Remington Arms has been sold to Cerberus Partners

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From the new, improved, Democrat party-dominated U.S. Congress: A bill to create a "Department of Peace and Nonviolence." George Orwell saw it coming. Don't miss Section 102, which includes: "(5) analyze existing policies, employ successful, field-tested programs, and develop new approaches for dealing with the implements of violence, including gun-related violence and the overwhelming presence of handguns" Gee, I always thought that handguns could also be used as "implements of self-defense" and "implements of target shooting" too, but I guess I'm one of those conservative dinosaurs who is not properly conversant in the subtleties of Newspeak.

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Nick mentioned this piece from the Life After The Oil Crash (LATOC) web site: True Confessions of a Hurricane Katrina Refugee.

"Taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor. Seizing the results of someone's labor is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities." - Robert Nozick

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The high bid is still at $425 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

You have spoken convincingly of purchasing pre-1899 firearms. I have noticed a flood of older rifles on the market for the last few years, all at seductively low prices, even if some [that are post-1898] must be "registered." I looked through the topics on the Blog site but could not find the answer to what I am about to ask.

Would you care to offer comparative opinions on the older rifles readily available (Mosin-Nagant, Yugoslavian Mauser, Turkish Mauser, etc.) on the market today. Thanks, - B.A.C.

JWR Replies: I generally prefer pre-1899 Mauser rifles. The Yugoslavian M48 Mausers currently on the market are legally "modern", requiring transfer through an FFL if purchased across state lines. State and local laws vary widely, but the Federal exemption on pre-1899s is captivating. I'd recommend that anyone interested in acquiring pre-1899 cartridge guns contact George at The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers). He will be happy to share his knowledge on the subject.

Reader Ken. M. found the following on the highly recommended Daily Reckoning Discussion Board and thought you might enjoy it:
You might just be a survivalist if...
- You can't put your groceries in the trunk of the car because its already jammed full with emergency kits, first aid supplies, and fully-stocked BOBs.
- You have emergency rations for your pets, and view your pets as potential emergency rations.
- You know the news three days before it hits the mass media.
- You have back-up plans for your back-up plans.
- You're convinced you've been exposed to so many chem-trails, you consider it a form of birth control.
- You've ever repressed the urge to bleat "BAAAAAAAAAH" as your neighbor earnestly asks, "What war? Where?"
*- You've ever bought antibiotics for human use through a vet, or grains for human consumption through a feed store.
- You've got more than one grain mill.
- You've ever wondered how you might filter the used water from your washing machine to make it fit for human consumption.
*- You have a kerosene lamp in every room
*- Your living room coffee table is actually a board with pretty cloth over it to disguise your food storage underneath.
- Your box springs are Rubber Maid containers filled with rice and beans.
*- You save dryer lint to make fire starters.
- Your most commonly-used fuel additive is 'Sta-Bil', instead of 'Gumout'.
*- You automatically choose the heavy duty flatbed cart upon entering Sam's Club or COSTCO.
- If you know the shelf life of tuna fish, but don't know how long you've had an open jar of mayo in the frig.
- Your basement walls are insulated with crates of toilet paper, from floor to ceiling, all the way around.
*- While other people are saving money for new furniture, or vacations, you are desperately saving to get solar panels put on your house.
- You were excited beyond all reason when they came out with cheddar cheese in a can.
*- You've ever served MREs at a dinner party.
- You can engage in a spirited debate on chemical vs. sawdust toilets for hours on end.
*- You've ever considered digging an escape tunnel from your basement to the nearest stand of trees.
- You know how to use a vacuum cleaner in reverse to filter air in your designated bio-chem attack safe room.
*- You've ever considered buying an above-ground pool for water storage purposes.
- You know what things like 'TSHTF', 'BOB' and 'TEOTWAWKI' mean.
- You have different grades of BOBs.
*- You know the names, family histories, locations, and degree of readiness of over a thousand fellow doomers on the net... but you've never met your neighbors.
*- The best radio in the house is a wind-up.
*- You have better items in storage than you use every day.
*- When the SHTF, you would eat better than you eat now.
*- Your significant other gave you a sleeping bag rated at -15 degrees for Christmas... and you were moved beyond words.
- You've sewn a secret mini-BOBs into the bottom of your children's school backpacks.
- Local food pantries have come to depend on donations from your larder when you rotate stock in the spring and fall.
- You're still using up your Y2K supplies.
*- You have enough army surplus equipment to open a store.
*- The local army surplus store owner knows you by your first name.
*- You fill up when your gas tank is 3/4 full.
- You call Rubber Maid for wholesale prices.
*- You have several cases of baby wipes and your kids are all grown.
- Bert from 'Tremors' is your favorite movie character.
*- You carry a pocket survival kit, a sturdy folding knife, a SureFire flashlight and a small concealed handgun on you to church every Sunday.
- You start panicking when you are down to 50 rolls of toilet paper.
*- You keep a small notebook to write down any edible plants you happen to see along the road.
*- You shop yard sales, store sales, and markdown racks for barter goods for after TSHTF.
- You own a hand-operated clothes washer and a non-electric carpet sweeper.
*- You have at least two of every size of Dutch oven, and 20 bags of charcoal, although you have a gas grill.
*- You have rain barrels at each corner of your house, although you have a city water hookup, and a Big Berkey to purify the water.
- You have sapphire lights, survival whistle, and a Swiss Army knife on every family member's key chain.
- The people in line at Costco ask you if you run a store or restaurant.
- You require a shovel to rotate all your preps properly.
*- You no longer go the the doctor's because you can either fix it yourself, make it at home, or know and understand the Physician's Desk Reference better than he does, and can get the goods at the vets or pet store for much less moolah anyway.
*- You know that a 'GPS' has nothing to do with the economy.
- You track your preps on a computer spreadsheet for easy reordering, but have hard copies in a 3-ring binder 'just in case'.
- You've thought about where the hordes can be stopped before entering town.
- You start evaluating people according to 'skill sets'.
- You view the nearest conservation area as a potential grocery store if TSHTF.
*- You know all the ways out the building where you work.
- You have enough pasta stockpiled in your basement to carbo-load all the runners in the New York marathon.
*- You know that you have 36 gallons of extra drinking water in the hot water tank and your two toilet tanks.
*- You know which bugs are edible.
*- You have a hand pump on your well.
- You have #10 cans of 'stuff' that the labels fell off of, but you won't throw it out or open it because it 'may be needed later', even though you haven't a clue as to the contents.
*- You know where the best defensive positions and lines of fire are on your property.
- You've made a range card for your neighborhood.
*- Your toenail clipper is a K-Bar.
*- The Ranger Handbook is your favorite 'self help' book.
*- You've numbered the deer romping in the yard by their order of consumption.
- You must move 50 cases of food for the plumber to get to that leaky pipe, but you have your own hand truck in the basement to do it.
*- You own more pairs of hiking boots than casual and dress shoes combined.
*- You have more 55gal blue water drums than family members.
- Your UPS system has more than 6 Deep cycle batteries.
- You have a backup generator for your backup generator, which is a backup for your solar system.
*- You go to McDonalds and ask for one order of fries with 25 packs of ketchup and mustard.
- You have ever given SPAM as a serious gift.
*- You've had your eye out for a good deal for a stainless steel handgun to conceal in the bottom of the magazine rack next to the toilet.
*- You are single male over 40, but you still have an emergency childbirth kit, just in case you have to deal with that possibility.
- You have two water heaters installed in your basement, but one is a dummy that's been converted to hideaway safe.
- You've made bugout cargo packs for your dogs.
*- You have a walking stick with all sorts of gadgets hidden inside.
- Your koi pond is stocked with catfish.
- As a stand-in scoutmaster, you taught your son's troop to set mantraps and punji pits, and haven't been asked to stand in since.
- You're on your fifth vacuum sealer, but you keep at least one of the worn out ones because you can still seal up plastic bags with it.
- You haven't bought dried fruit in years, but you buy fresh bananas, apples, peaches and pears by the case and have three dehydrators.
*- Your UPS man hates you because of all the cases of ammo he's had to lug from his truck to your front door.
- You have duplicates of all your electronics gear, solar panels and generator parts in your EMP-shielded fallout shelter.
*- You have set aside space for your live chickens in the fallout shelter.
- When the power goes out in your neighborhood, all the neighbor's kids come over to your place to watch TV on generator power.
*- You must open the door to your pantry very carefully for fear of a canned goods avalanche.
*- You have a 'Volcano', you know you can cook anything, and you cast evil glances at your neighbor's annoying, yappy poodle, muttering "your day will come, hotdog" under your breath.
- You've learned to knap flint, make twine from plant fibers for snares and use an atlatl, because you fear that all of your preps and hard work will be confiscated by FEMA troops or destroyed by earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear blasts, ravening hordes of feral sheeple or reptiloids from 'Planet X' after TSHTF.

"When a place gets crowded enough to require [identification cards], social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere." - Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This one is bit short, but still eligible for consideration. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

One of the biggest problems for the survivalist is the lack of refrigeration, since the cost in energy is just prohibitive, especially in the multi-generational scenario. Normal refrigeration uses an electrically driven compressor to compress a refrigerant (a liquid that boils at room temperature) turning gas to a liquid. For the survivalist, ammonia is the refrigerant of choice, and at the proper pressure (since it is normally a gas), it will act as a refrigerant, although other chemicals may be added to improve performance, including water and salts. When the liquid boils it will cool the surface that the refrigerant evaporates from returning to gas again. (Note that you can change the pressure in the system to alter the temperature it will boil at)
Evaporative cooling works the same in this case as it does when sweat evaporates into vapor cooling you. Ammonia can be made from urine and was first derived from urea. “It was also used by dyers in the Middle Ages in the form of fermented urine” This is of particular interest for those who worry about the multigenerational scenario.

There are many plans available on the internet for experimental ice makers.
These ice makers for the survivalist may make the difference between life and death for those who need cooling for insulin that will work even after an EMP.
Further ice will have huge trade value when there is no other way to make ice post-crash.
Bleach is a great sanitizer but unless stored as a powder it loses potency over time, and there is a limit to the amount of powdered bleach you can rationally store. So the ability to make bleach from raw materials, water and salt, is worthwhile knowledge. Further with the advent of antibiotic resistant bacteria and pandemic viruses, sanitation is not an issue of social graces, but sickness and death. Further bleach made from salt is another potential use for the salt that should be stored for those who do not have access to bodies of salt water, it has innumerable uses, and this is just one more. The basic process is similar to the other electrolytic processes described on SurvivalBlog, like making colloidal silver. Also see this site.

Alcohol is in many ways the wonder fuel for survivalists. It doesn’t spoil (like gas or diesel), it has been made since the dawn of civilization, so it is a robust and simple process the make it, and the ingredients are ubiquitous, plus it makes good trade fodder as more than just fuel. All you need is sugar, yeast and a sealed vessel. Yeasts digest sugar and make alcohol when there is no oxygen around, this is called fermentation. Yeasts are common enough that even without a culture you can just contaminate the vessel with saliva or expose it to air, and there will be enough yeast to ferment the sugars. This is not the most efficient way, or the most appetizing, but it can work. There are many sources for more information about making the mash, but to make a fuel or liquor rather than a semi-toxic mash you need to refine the product. This process is called distillation, and it works by using the boiling points of alcohol and water to separate them in a device called a still. This process is simple, but for efficient distillation, a well made device is required, and most are quite expensive. This is a good tutorial on how to make a quality one for a reasonable price.

As far as I know, [modern] E85 vehicles [with fuel flash point sensing] can run on pure ethanol (E100 fuel). You can assume there will never be a commercial supply of E100, though, since someone would inevitably try to drink the stuff.As you note, alcohol is hygroscopic, and "If enough water is absorbed, the alcohol separates from the gasoline and goes into solution with the water." For E85, "enough" is around 20%, so this generally isn't going to be a problem. - PNG

JWR Replies: Even E10 (10% ethanol) blended gasoline is highly hygroscopic and can absorb 50 times more water than traditional non-blended gasoline. This can be enough to cause hard starting or even engines that won't run. Water absorption is of particular concern to boat owners. According to fuel-testers.com, one risk with ethanol blends is phase separation. They assert: "With the process of phase separation, two layers of liquid are visible. An upper ethanol-deficient gasoline layer and a lower ethanol-rich (up to 75% ethanol) water layer. It occurs because ethanol is completely soluble in water but only marginally soluble in hydrocarbons. After phase separation, the gasoline layer will have a lower octane number. The fuel also is less volatile."

And as for someone attempting to drink E100, as long as it is prominently labeled "denatured" and just a small percentage of gasoline or kerosene is added, that is all that is needed to make it unpalatable. Well, perhaps a wino that is already plastered might try it...

I read a good posting on the blog [by Bryan A.] that unfortunately made me chuckle. Those of us who are first responders (cops, firefighters, etc.) will confirm that the usual mantra of “three days” of preps is excessively optimistic. In fact, FEMA is quietly (or not so, depending on who you ask) telling folks a minimum of ten days. In a briefing last year by a major Puget Sound USAR director, he stated that in his opinion, 10 days is minimum. This is an actual Region 10 director, contrary to what the government says (who did respond to Hurricane Katrina). Three days for supplies to get to someplace is wholly dependant on the ability to get to the region. Far more days elapsed in Katrina affected regions due to the impassibility of so many roadways, especially into rural areas. In a briefing by a New Orleans, Louisiana police department SWAT officer, even their supplies were drowned by the toxic flooding, causing them to go well outside the area to acquire foodstuffs, fuel, etc. (and yes, causing some station houses to loot stores under the disgusting idea that it was for the greater good).

In the windstorm we experienced in the Seattle Metroplex area last winter, there were whole neighborhoods stranded and without out even power for anywhere from 3 to 14 days. Vehicles couldn’t even access some areas until power lines and trees could be cleaned up. One neighborhood in the city that I patrol in had power out for six days, and they were across the street from the city hall! They were the unlucky folks to be at the extreme end of a power grid.

When asked by folks, I warn them to plan for 15 days as a minimum. I get many shocked looks. A recent evaluation of the region showed that over 90% of folks didn’t even have the basic minimums (three days), as easily evidenced by the panic buys of the usual candles, matches, batteries, flashlights, fuel, etc. No wonder people seem shocked. Best Regards, - MP in Seattle

From the Wall Street Journal (by way of SKaiBlog): Crop Prices Soar Pushing Up Cost Of Food Globally

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GG sent us this article link: Diet of tarantulas saves hikers lost in jungle

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Until May 31, Safecastle Royal buyer's club members can take 30% off the list prices on all Montague folding bikes and accessories (with a minimum purchase of $100). They are listing seven bike models, including the popular "Paratrooper." Discounted prices range from $349 to $1,431, with free shipping.

"America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to 'the common good,' but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance -- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way." - Ayn Rand

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The SurvivalBlog readership in Europe is continuing to grow, particularly in England, France, Germany, and the Benelux countries. Thanks for spreading the word! BTW, simply adding a linked SurvivalBlog banner or logo to your e-mail footer and/or to your web pages greatly increases our visibility. Many thanks!

Today we present another article for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

A small flock of Chickens are not only fun to raise but also a good source of year round protein. They are good scavengers and can make high quality good tasting protein out of every day scraps. A little known fact about chickens is that they will eat almost anything and everything that grows or crawls on this earth. I have seen my small flock eat grass, seeds, bugs, flies, worms and yes I even saw the flock catch and eat a mouse one day. The mouse was stealing food out of the dish when one of the older hens grabbed him and ate him.

A small flock of chickens will provide protein in the form of eggs year round. The younger birds can be eaten in the fall. If you select the correct breeds and give them the right place to live they will hatch out their own young the next spring. The other good thing about chickens is that they are small enough that you can eat the whole animal at one or two meals. This will avoid the need to preserve the meat in the freezer and or refrigerator. These may be luxuries that are not around in the future. Eggs are very versatile and can be used in many many foods as well which will give you a great variety in your diet which may be missed in the future. The extra eggs can also be traded for other items and they will keep for over two months if stored correctly.

Breed Selection
There are a number of different breeds of chickens. The white hybrids are the best chicken man can make. The ones that lay eggs will lay more eggs than any other breed out there. The ones that are made for meat production can grow to over 9 pounds in just 8 weeks. The main drawback to these is that you cannot breed them yourself. You need to get the day old chicks from a hatchery. So for practice they are a good way to get started. They will save you money each year on feed costs and give you the best product that you can get out of your flock. But for the survival flock they will not be what you are looking for. They cannot reproduce with the same traits that they carry. This is done by the breeders to keep their work from being copied. So for a survival flock I would look at a dual purpose breed. Ones that are okay meat producers and still have hens that will lay quite a few eggs. I like the Black Australorps and Rhode Island Reds but there are many many different breeds available. The hens are good egg layers and the young birds are very well fleshed out at 15 to 20 weeks. The only other thing you may want to look at is getting a few dark Cornish boys around for making some really meaty young birds with a cross breed with some of the hens above.

The most important part of getting started is to realize that the first month will make or break a small flock. You need to keep them warm and draft free. This is usually done with the use of a heat lamp or two and a draft free pen. Until they have feathers they will need an outside heat source. They like to have the area they live in at 90 degrees for the first week and then lower it 5 degrees a week until you reach normal out side temperature. It is best to feed them a high protein seed based diet. (corn, wheat, oats) You will need to crack the seed until they get to be 8 weeks old. Do not feed soybeans that have not first been cooked at 180 for 15 minutes. Some of the chemicals in Soybeans will destroy the stomach lining of poultry. Cooking breaks these down. You can boil the soybeans and that will make them safe to feed. Your hens will start to lay eggs at 18 to 22 weeks of age. The hybrids will lay a few weeks earlier and the really heavy birds will start a few weeks later.

You also need to keep them safe from predators. Almost every animal that hunts for a living will eat a young chicken. After about 8 to 10 weeks some of the predators will stop looking at them as food (cats, rats). But raccoons, skunks, mink, fox, coyotes, hawks, eagles and owls will eat them at any age. This means that if you want to keep your animals alive you should lock them up at night. Once they are about three months old they can be let out to forage on their own during the day and they will return to the coop to sleep at night. If you can close the door at night, this will keep most of the predators out and your hens safe. It is also a good idea to pick the eggs every night. Hens will usually lay an egg every 36 hours or so. They most likely will lay this egg early in the morning. If you can pick the eggs at noon and again as you close up for the night you will remove a temptation for predators. Not only do they eat the chickens they also eat the eggs as well.

In the southern U.S., chicken really will just need a place to get out of the rain and stay dry and warm on the colder days. In the northern states they will need to have a place that is not only dry but as draft free as possible. Chickens are really hardy animals and can take a lot of cold weather, but if the cold winter wind blows through your building you will end up with frozen combs and even some missing toes come spring. You will also get as many eggs as the house is warm. Once the birds start to use their energy to stay warm they stop producing eggs and just survive. Which is good because then in the spring you will have eggs once again.

Processing for meat
This is the hard part for many people. But when you are starving and or just sick of beans and rice this may be a lot easier. There are a lot of different way to put down your chickens. One way is to use a killing cone. It is really just an upside down funnel. You place the chicken in the funnel so the head comes out the small end at the bottom. You can then cut the throat until you get spraying blood. They will bleed out in a minute or two. Once the blood is all gone they will thrash around for a few minutes more. The cone will contain them and keep them from bruising the meat. One of the other ways is to cut the head off with a large knife or hatchet. Take an old stump and pound two nails in one side of it. Space them just far enough apart so they will hold the head of the chicken still. Hold the wings and legs with one hand and stretch out the neck. Them with one swift swing sever the head. Hold on to the wings and legs for the first minute or two. Once they have stopped thrashing around you can lay them down.
Heat your water between 150 to 160 degrees. Once the chicken has stopped all movement dip them in the water. You will need enough water to cover the entire bird. Use a small stick to make sure the water gets to all parts of the chicken. You should keep the chicken in the water until you can easily pull out the feathers. At that time I like to move to a plucking area. I keep this process separate from the rest. This will remove the feathers and the dirt from the birds. I usually remove the bottom part of the legs at this time. Then I move to a cleaning table where I remove the crop and then the insides. The crop is under the skin at the base of the neck and can be pulled away from the body once the neck skin is removed. Removing the insides can be done in many ways but usually I just make cut between the legs below the breast bone big enough for my hand to reach in and remove what is inside. You can save the gizzard, liver and hart if you want at this time. Rinse the inside with water and wash the outside as well. Now you can singe off the little "hair" on the body of the chicken. To do this you can use a torch or you can use a rolled up news paper. Once this is done get the bird into cold water to cool. Bury the rest with the feathers so you do not invite more predators to your area. Then enjoy the best chicken dinner you have ever had.

I have described just the basics of keeping a small flock of chickens for survival needs. There is much more to learn and much more to enjoy about keeping chickens. But this should get you started. From here if you listen to your birds they can give you clues of things they need. But for the most part chickens are one of the few animals that if left alone and given enough room to run they will balance their diet with out much help. Just keep them safe at night and enjoy fresh eggs and meat from your small flock. - Korey

Hi Jim:
I'm having a good time filling the tank on my [flexible fuel variant GMC] Yukon XL with E85 [a 85% ethanol / 15% gasoline blend] which is very cheap compared to regular in these parts. I was wondering if you had any storage information for E85? Given it's high alcohol content, by default do you know if it would it require an additive for long term jerry can storage? Google searched return a lot of useless noise. Thanks, - Eric

JWR Replies: In retrospect, I'm glad that more than year ago I started recommending that SurvivalBlog readers buy themselves E85-compatible vehicles. The good news is that I predict that within a few years the price of E85 in the U.S. will be about half the price of unleaded gasoline. But the bad news is that by the time this happens, E85 will probably be $3 per gallon, and standard gasoline will be $6 per gallon. I am hopeful that within a few years E100 vehicles will become available. These will run on pure ethanol (grain alcohol) or methanol (wood alcohol). That would be ideal for a survival retreat, where you could presumably build your own still. But for now, E85 vehicles are highly recommended. They are still fairly scarce. (To find one for sale near you, do a search on "Flex Fuel" in the Edmunds.com vehicle search page.)

The E85 ethanol blend has a storage life that is longer than standard gasoline, but it is essential that it is stored in tightly sealed containers. Otherwise, the alcohol will absorb moisture. If enough water is absorbed, the alcohol separates from the gasoline and goes into solution with the water. (Read: Ruined fuel, and an engine that won't start.) So keep your containers full, and tightly sealed. A special note to SurvivalBlog readers in damp climates: The higher the humidity, the faster that this will occur!

Pri-G (available from Nitro-Pak) or STA-BIL (available at your local auto parts store) brand additives can and should be added to E85 that is stored more than a couple of months, to protect the 15% of the blend that is gasoline. But of course you only need about 15% of the quantity per gallon that you would normally use to treat standard gasoline. (The alcohol component of the blend needs no special stabilization.) As with storing standard gasoline, it is best to buy E85 for storage during winter months, when you will presumably be buying a winter blend that has extra butane added for cold weather starting. (This also extends its useful storage life.)

The U.S. real estate implosion begins, in earnest: A house costs less than a car in Detroit. The recent shift in the real estate market (which I predicted two years ago) has led me to believe that the best way to buy land these days is to watch and wait for bargains, particularly bankruptcy sales and foreclosures. The foreclosure rate jumped 13% in the past two months. I expect this trend to continue, especially as millions of sub-prime ARMs reset. to higher interest rates. There will be a lot of foreclosures to choose from--including some good rural retreat properties--as the down-market in real estate unfolds in the next few years. By definition, a declining market is a "buyer's market", so you can afford to be both patient and picky. If you buy any land, you should assume that the market will go down in value at least another 20% in rural areas, and perhaps 40% in the coastal metropolitan markets. So it makes sense to only make offers that are well under the current prices. I see bankruptcy sales and foreclosures as some of the best venues to have "low ball" offers taken seriously. One good source for finding foreclosure listings in your intended retreat area(s) is Foreclosures.com. (One of our Affiliate Advertisers.)

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By way of blogger Teddy Jacobsen comes a news story on the now chronic ammunition shortage in the U.S. Parenthetically, our family intentionally stocked up on ammunition ("Ballistic Wampum"), starting in the early 1990s. All of that ammo is still in sealed military surplus ammo cans, ensuring that it will be sure fire, many decades in the future. Our small mountain of ammo was a pain to move (our last move to the new Rawles Ranch will hopefully be our last), but the moving expense was negligible, especially since a lot of the ammo that we moved had greatly increased in value (2x to 8x) since we originally purchased it. I still consider common caliber ammunition the ultimate post-WTSHTF barter item.

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Any SurvivalBlog readers in western Washington should jump on this bargain on Craig's List: just $50 for a big stack of bee keeping equipment.

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The high bid is still at $425 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot:. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can." - Barry Goldwater

Monday, April 9, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Dear JWR:
My wife and I use a “thinking process” concerning preparedness that I would like to share with you and your readers, as well as expand upon one of the items. We organize our thoughts and actions along the line of tiers of necessity for survival. This is analogous to the oft-quoted “beans, bullets and band-aids” strategy.
The first tier is absolutely critical for survival and consists of air, food, water, shelter and security. This not only includes physical items such as stored food and weapons for security but also knowledge such as gardening and tactical/strategic planning.
The second tier items, while not absolutely necessary for survival, strongly complements and expands upon the first tier items. This includes mobility, information/communication, power and illumination. This list is not exhaustive but it gives the general idea of what I consider second tier items.
Third tier items are more in line with comfort and enjoyment or “making life livable”. This includes entertainment or other simple pleasures of life. One might include tobacco and/or EtOH as third tier items.
Obviously, preparations should be planned in a top down priority. Air, food, water, shelter and security (say it again so it becomes second nature “air, food, water, shelter and security”) need to be “squared away” first and foremost, and has been well covered in your’s and others’ writings in this weblog. I would like to expand upon a second tier item, namely information/communication.
Notice that I make a distinction between information and communication. This is because communication is bidirectional but information can be unidirectional. Leaving smoke signals to someone else, I will only touch upon electronic means of information transfer.

For information, every retreat needs some means of broadband radio receiver. I appreciate the utility of “EMP-resistant” shortwave radio receivers and in fact have several Zenith TransOceanic receivers in various states of refurbishment. This does not mean that I depend on them. The “tube type” receivers, while essentially EMP proof, are far from ideal. The power supply is difficult to replicate in the absence of 120 VAC grid power (needing separately an A voltage of 9 VDC and B voltage of up to 90 VDC), and the main oscillator tube (1L6) are getting exceedingly difficult to find. In addition, the paper capacitors are prone to failure and refurbishment is more of an act of love than necessity. The constant tuning required due to frequency drift is also something like a labor of love. For the price of one TransOceanic (refurbished with spare parts), you could buy several general purpose receivers and store some in an EMP resistant [Faraday Cage] container [such as a steel ammo can.] Modern radios are also able to be easily powered by a minimal photovoltaic system (i.e. foldable solar panel by SunLinq and 12VDC 7 amp hour SLA battery) and are much more power conservative.

This brings us to the area of communication or bidirectional information exchange. By necessity, this requires the ability to transmit as well as receive. VHF/UHF handheld transceivers are a necessity for tactical communication, but I also feel that every retreat should have the capability of beyond line of sight (LOS) communication and this will require HF capability. Having an HF rig and antenna is not enough. Becoming a “communicator” requires skill, experience and above all practice (same as with security/firearms). While by necessity getting an amateur radio license one will lose some anonymity, it is strongly recommended. Without experience and practice, one cannot hope to be an effective communicator in a TEOTWAWKI situation.
Amateur Radio Licensing
For US citizens, current FCC amateur radio licenses are divided into three classes, Technician (essentially VHF/UHF only), General and Amateur Extra (both including HF privileges, the difference being only expanded band privileges for the Extra). With the demise of the Morse Code (CW) testing, the only hurdle is a written test for each class of license. From my experience, there is only a very small increment in technical knowledge between the Technician and General class tests, but both have to be passed in order to get HF access. In other words, a Technician is licensed when one passes the Tech test. A General license is awarded as an upgrade to the Tech, and the Extra is an upgrade to the General. All three tests can be taken on the same day if desired.
I would strongly recommend the book “Now You’re Talking” as a study guide for the Technician license. From personal experience, I can tell you that if you know the Technician material cold, you will likely pass the General test as well, but the General study guide is also suggested. The Extra class test is much more technical and likely will require significant additional study. All three books are available from most on-line book stores as well as directly from the ARRL (amateur radio relay league, representative member organization for the US).
If you are of the “test taker” crowd who doesn’t care to actually learn the material, the entire question pool for all three tests are publicly available, with the actual test being a subset of the questions out of the pool. Thus you can “learn” the answers to all the possible questions you may be asked. I would however strongly suggest understanding the material rather than just “gaming” the test. It is not difficult, even for a non-technical person.
Locating a testing venue is also not difficult. The FCC licensing tests are given by a group of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VEC) of which the ARRL is a member. Simply go to the ARRL VEC site. The cost is nominal, approximately $10 per test. I would allocate one month of relaxed study time to prepare.
The entire process was relatively painless and the rewards of reliable communication independent of infrastructure are incalculable. In a future diatribe, I hope to expand on the utility of amateur radio in survival situations.

Hi James,
I've decided to embark on a re-write of the Austere and Survival Medicine book. I know a number of MDs and other health professional read SurvivalBlog. If you think it appropriate would you mind posting a request for chapter authors on your blog. We will be starting with the existing book with the goal of adding more "how to" to the book and by popular demand also making some of the advice even more austere and primitive. The goal is to empower non-medical people to prepare medically for major medium and long term disasters. Once again the book will be available for free download or purchase for cost from CafePress. People who are interested can be directed to this link. - Dr. Craig in NZ

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Recently a fellow posted asking about firefighting options. If he wants advice about firefighting and resources to do so, he might want to look into joining his local Volunteer Fire Department (VFD).
Fire departments are the first ones (along with law enforcement) to be summoned to any natural or man-made disaster. For this reason, almost all fire departments (including the VFDs) prepare, trains themselves for disaster! 75% of the fire departments in the United States are manned by volunteers. All [of them] are always looking to add men to their rosters.
While one might think that all the local VFDs do is fight fires, they actually perform many services and have great training that would be quite useful for the average Joe.
One great advantage to being in the VFD is that you not only know what resources your municipality may have for dealing with a disaster, you know how they are going to use those resources and can make your preparations accordingly. Simply put, you know how the municipality is going to respond, so you can tailor your preparations to address at the personal level the areas where the municipalities preparations are lacking.
As far as training, pretty much everything is available: Basic First Aid, Advance First Aid, Certified First Responder, EMT-A, EMT-B, etc. All at no charge to the individual. Aside from first aid, there’s training on handling Weapons of Mass Destruction scenarios, Hazardous Materials, Mass Casualty Scenarios, Decontamination, etc. That’s in addition to firefighting training.
Many departments actually have retirement benefits even though it’s a volunteer gig; my department pays a $400 a month pension when I’m 62 if I stay active in the company for 20 years. May not sound like much, but that will pay my property and school taxes for the year! Also, after five years in the company I get a 10% break on my property taxes.
Since the departments are volunteer, a fellow can pick different jobs within the department. Not everyone is cut out physically to run into burning building or cut drunks out of car wrecks. Some folks are just drivers, some are Fire Police, others are scene support. There are different positions for different degrees of physical ability.
Another big plus is now that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a standardized National Response Plan (NRP) and National Incident Management System (NIMS), there has been an impetus to standardize protocols between departments on things such as identification. In my company we receive county/state issued ID cards that have our name, photo, physical description and identify (in my case) the bearer as a Firefighter in the (name of town) Fire Department. On the back are the state seal and county seal. In the event of Bad Times, this ID can be a big help in getting around.
Also helpful in getting around can be the special license plates and authorized emergency vehicle lights. In a disaster when civilian traffic may be barred from the roads, such markings can be useful.
Since I’ve been in my company, I’ve learned the following things that can help my family and I in an emergency:
I know what the local municipalities disaster plans are. I know what resources are available and I know how long they will last. In short, I know how long before the refugees become a hungry mob.
At no cost to me I got credentialed as a Certified First Responder.
I learned all the 'ins and outs' of the county’s communication systems. I know where all the repeaters are, how much fuel they have and what frequencies all the local agencies use.
In the event of a smallpox or Avian Flu pandemic, I will be one of the first people vaccinated and will be assisting in the distribution of vaccine to others (meaning that I will make sure my family gets theirs in a timely manner!).
I persuaded my company to avail itself of Federal programs that allow for first responder agencies to purchase (for a nominal fee) surplus military equipment. Our company has pallets of MREs (ostensibly to feed the crews during wildfires), we have trailer mounted military generators (for when power to the municipality goes out and we need to power the local emergency shelter) and are currently looking at several other useful ‘dual-purpose’ items.
Probably the best thing is that I have learned how preparation pays off. It is one thing to prepare for social collapse; there are no rehearsals or try-outs. Society collapses or it doesn’t and you are prepared or you are not. In firefighting, I have learned first hand how being prepared before hand can affect things; I understand now that every night, without fail, my hat and keys go in the exact same place, that my boots, pants and shirt go in the exact same place, so that when I have 30 seconds to clear the building at zero dark thirty, I’m not frantically searching for my keys. My turnout gear is always painstakingly stowed in a very precise and careful manner so that when the call comes the 10 minutes I took to carefully stow it allows me to go from flammable to fire-proof in 60 seconds. My privately owned vehicle (POV) is parked with the radio off, electronics pre-set, etc. so that when I jump in to respond to a call and start the ignition, the tape player doesn’t come on blaring music that drowns out my fire pager leaving my in the dark about where I am headed. All little things to be sure, but tricks learned from repetitive experience.
How does this translate to preparing with my family? I have a much better understanding of how carefully thought out and meticulous planning can pay off in an emergency. - Regards, R.V.

Bigger than you think: The story behind the recent U.S. pet food recall.

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Political Correctness run rampant: Anti-gun zealots oppose Navy SEAL memorial statue.

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Reader Ben L. mentioned that he came upon a "do it yourself" solar-power web site. Ben says: "Personally, the 40 watt/Xantrex XPower 1500 rig (most all the equipment in a case with attached cart) looks darn good." OBTW, similar pre-packaged systems are available from Ready Made Resources. (A loyal SurvivalBlog advertiser.) They even offer free consulting on system sizing and design!

"The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward; how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done." - Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa (Rocky VI)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter, everyone. Christ's death on the cross and his resurrection have meaning for me. My prayer is that it does for you, too.

Today we present another article for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

One of the recent phrases the media has used almost to exhaustion is, "dirty" bomb. A dirty bomb, or radiological dispersion device (RDD) is basically an explosive device with some element of radioactivity attached, or some other means of distributing radioactive particulate matter. When detonated, it releases radiation in the form of dust or debris, which is harmful mostly when inhaled, or introduced into the body by other means, (eyes, open cuts, etc.). The main terror use of such a weapon would be to contaminate emergency services workers responding to the initial blast. In the 1990s, Chechen rebels reportedly placed such a device in a park in Moscow, They used no explosive or other means to announce it's presence; they just let it sit there and expose passers by to radiation until it suited their needs to tell the Russians it was there. They could just as well have spread the material on the ground and let people track contamination wherever they went.
What if you live near a nuclear reactor/facility? First off, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission controls all nuclear facilities in the United States. The NRC strictly controls and governs safety and security of all nuclear facilities. They mandate a "layered" approach to security systems, with redundant perimeter controls, and a dedicated, heavily armed reactive force of trained professionals. The chances of a successful attack on a facility by terrorists is slim and none, and "slim" just left town. In addition, the safety systems are layered to provide backups to backups, especially the critical cooling systems. In the event of a release of radiation, the public would be notified, and given instructions to follow, such as whether to evacuate, or to stay in their homes.
Contrary to popular belief, a detonation/release of either type would not be a "death ray, heat wave" type situation. In both situations, the radiation would come in the form of particulate matter, and affect the population according to proximity and winds at the time. For example, in both situations, depending on the direction of the wind, you could be five feet away from the release and not be affected, or be a half-mile away and receive a dose. This is why winds are important, and are taken into account by emergency officials when evaluating nuclear events. This is why having both a "bug out" (which we will call, dramatically, an 'egress' plan), and a plan to stay at home are equally important. For example, have several routes planned for several different areas in at least two opposite directions. This takes into account wind direction, as well as other naturally occurring situations, (flood, fire, riots, etc.)
I'm sure some of us remember the "duck and cover" days (no, not me, I'm not that old), of the evil Soviet empire, launching missiles at our cities, envisioning Hiroshima-like mushroom clouds. There is an important lesson in the philosophy of those times, be prepared. Have a plan to deal with emergencies at home, while keeping yourself and your family safe, and one to leave your home, and go to a safe area.
Here, we'll discuss two strategies, the egress plan, and the stay at home plan.
Egress or "Bug Out" Plan.
In the event of a radiological release due to an incident at a nuclear facility or a terror detonation of a RDD type device. (This plan will also apply to natural disasters, rioting or other scenarios). Your best option may be to evacuate, leaving your home or workplace for a safer area as prompted by authorities. You'll notice I mentioned home and workplace. What would you do if you and your spouse are at work and the kids are at school? Do you have the means to contact them or retrieve them? What kind of emergency procedures do the schools have in place? Find out. You need to have contact numbers and be sure that everyone knows the plan. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are leaving, everyone around you also has the same idea. This is why evacuation is to only be carried out if danger is imminent, and planning of at least two different routes to your safe area is critical. Picture rush hour with a "chicken little the sky is falling" mentality, that's what roads exiting a disaster area could resemble. A good idea is to have at least one of your routes on secondary roads, staying away from highways, as they could be generally congested. Your vehicle is critical. Keep it maintained. Think of your car as you would your duty weapon if you were a police officer. Take care of it, and it will take care of you. This means a spare tire, keeping gas in your tank and changing the oil, as well as regular maintenance. Keep road maps in your vehicle as well as a spare quart of oil, and spare antifreeze/coolant. A small emergency/bug out kit should be kept in all of your vehicles, and contain the following:
Non-perishable food items, MREs/canned meats.
At least 2 quarts of clean drinking water.
Matches or a fire source
Multi-tool or "Swiss army" type knife.
40' of rope capable of supporting 200 Lbs.
Duct tape, string, nails, etc.
Survival or thermal blanket.
Small first aid kit (bandages, antiseptics, bug repellent, pain medications)
This is a small compact kit, which can be assembled with around $25.00. You probably already have most of the items you will need in your garage. There are many different sources for MREs and survival foods on the Internet and in various publications, or you can pick up "SPAM" type canned meats at your local grocery store for around $1.00 a can. They have a shelf life of several years, and provide critical fats and calories when you need them most. The rope can be obtained at a local shopping center or sporting goods store. I picked up mine at a boating supply store. All of these items can be placed in a small backpack or duffel bag, or a great idea is a USGI surplus ammo can, also available on the Internet or a local army surplus store for around $5 each, They're airtight, waterproof, and strong. I use the ". 50 cal" can in my cars, and all of the items listed fit with room to spare. The idea here is to keep it compact, as it's going to stay in the vehicle. Also keep in mind that temperatures in a car trunk can soar into the triple digits in the summer and well below freezing in the winter. Checking the contents at least once a month is a good idea, and if you are using conventional tap water in containers, change the water at least once a year, cleaning out the containers before putting the fresh water in. I also carry a pair of good quality GMRS/FRS radios for communication with extra batteries if needed for communication.
A large "bug out bag" should be prepared for each family member and be stored in your home, or in cases of extreme heightened awareness, kept in your vehicle, some items to be considered for that:
Non perishable food for three days
Portable water for three days
Matches or other fire source.
Flashlight, spare batteries and spare bulbs.
Portable AM/FM radio with spare batteries
Survival type or thermal blanket.
Multi-tool or "Swiss army" type knife.
Portable pocket saw.
Small first aid kit, including insect repellent, and needed prescription medications
Small backpacking type, "pup tent" for shelter.
3 strong plastic garbage bags.
"Isolation" or particle/dust protective masks.
These items should be packed into a portable waterproof backpack, and need to be checked and maintained at least once every few months. (Author uses a frame type hiking pack) The Isolation masks can be purchased at a medical supply store and will provide inhalation protection against particulate matter; "Dust Masks" will also work for this application, and can be purchased at a hardware store. While these do not provide the level of protection as "Gas Masks", and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, they will work for particulate matter. And, besides, personnel that wear this equipment are trained and individually fit tested for the equipment. Improper use of such masks can be more harmful than helpful. The author also recommends the use of chemical light sticks. Available from surplus, camping supply, and sporting goods stores for around $1.00 each. They are portable, bright, safe, and last for up to 12 hours. They can provide a good source of light for an area or can be used as a marker. Keep in mind that these should not be used to replace a flashlight and spare batteries.
Stay at home plan.
In some scenarios, leaving home may not be the best thing for you or your family. In those situations, you need to be prepared to stay in your home and be self sufficient for up to a week. A good idea is to have precut plastic sheeting cut and labeled for the windows and doors of your home. These can be affixed with duct tape and will prevent particulate matter that may contain harmful radiation from entering your home. Precutting the sheets and labeling them with marker will speed up the application process. It may be necessary to isolate your water supply from the outside, to prevent the introduction of harmful elements, know where your shut off valves are. Also keep in mind that you probably already have a 40-gallon fresh water supply in your house, your hot water tank. Most hot water tanks are equipped with a drain valve in the bottom and an intake shut off valve. Know where these are. In the event of a possible contamination of the water supply, you may need to turn off the flow of incoming water, and be able to use the water in the tank. A good idea if you are going to do this, however, is to purge you tank regularly. Sediments will build up in the bottom of the tank, and can be drained by the valve in the bottom. Just keep draining the water until it comes out clear. I have a couple of "camping style" 10 gallon blue [plastic] containers that are made for water that I keep filled in the event they are needed. These have handles for ease of transport and do not affect the taste of the water during prolonged storage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends at least one gallon of water, per person, per day, for at least three days. I feel that this is a good guideline, as studies have shown that three days is the average time it takes for outside aid to reach disaster areas and begin distribution to the public.
Food is also crucial. Again, you will need enough food for each family member for at least three days. It's a good idea to keep a supply of non-perishable food items for all family members in portable plastic storage bins; these can also be purchased at a local department store for a few dollars. This will provide ease of transportation in the event relocation is required. You will need to check and rotate food stocks to keep them fresh and current.
One of the most important tools you can have during an emergency situation is communication. Local authorities already have contingency plans in place, and will pass the info on to you. However, you need a means of getting that information. A battery-powered radio is one of the most important ways of getting this information. Power supplies may be interrupted by disaster situations, accidents, or terrorist activity which makes self powered devices important.
All communities around nuclear power facilities as well as most major population centers have an emergency broadcast system, which may consist of sirens, public address (PA) speakers, television and radio broadcasts, and activation of local authorities. It's up to you to know what the audible sirens represent, and when to take action. Remember the words of George Santayana "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Words to live by.
JWR Adds: In my opinion, having just a three day supply of food is overly optimistic. FEMA is not likely to come cahrging to the rescue in every neighborhood in just three days. So a three month supply of food with a three week supply of water (and the means to filter additional water that is gathered later) is more realistic. Also, it is important to consider charity for your neighbors. A five year supply of storage food for one family can also be a three month supply for 20 families, or a three day supply for 200 families.

Brian mentions sheet plastic and duct tape. Completely sealing a room (which of course he is not suggesting) would be suicidal. Commercially-made shelter air pumps and HEPA filter systems are sold by a number of Internet vendors including Ready Made Resources and Survival Logistics. (Please mention SurvivalBlog when you order.) Instructions on how to build improvised air pumps and filters can be found in the book Nuclear War Survival Skills, which is available for free download, courtesy of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Keep in mind that your air filter box must be isolated and/or shielded from the occupied portion of your shelter, since it will accumulate radioactive particulates.

I just wanted to pass along my experience with KnifeKits.com. I purchased their FLX-25 frame lock folder kit. As a beginner, I found this kit to be an excellent little project. It took me only about 20 minutes to put it together and I had a nice rugged (and repairable) pocket knife. (I wish it took longer to build as I was having so much fun!) The blade sharpened up very nicely and it has been a great pocket tool ever since.
I ended up buying another five-pack of this kit which came out to be $16.25 per knife (a great bargain). I gave a few away as gifts and kept a few for the future. I highly recommend this kit and am looking at building some of the more difficult kits. Just what I needed, another hobby! - 6xddx6

Reader RBS sent this: Solar radio bursts interfere with GPS. His comment: "This is just one more reason why one should not place faith in modern technologies." Have a map and compass as backup and know how to use them.

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From The Herald Sun: Australian scientists warn of dust bowl disaster

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The Army Aviator mentioned two web articles, the first from Reason on the Hit and Run: A Missouri legislator is seeking restrictions on the sale of baking soda.The other was this news story: Present to Michigan Kids Its not long after April Fool's Day, but neither of these stories are jokes.

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true." - James Branch Cabell

Saturday, April 7, 2007

I took the advice that was offered by Gus in Alabama, and had #1 Son replicate the "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog" window up above the scrolling ad bar. I hope that folks find this helpful.

Today we present another article for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Perhaps the most difficult demographic group to prepare for is children. Their needs are constantly changing as they age, grow, and learn. The sheer number of variables involved can be mind boggling, but with enough planning and foresight all their needs can be met. We have eight children under the age of 12 still at home (with three grown and gone), so this is something we have given much thought to.
If you are of child bearing age and still have your God given equipment, you must prepare for infants. Even if you have stocked birth control, it is not foolproof and a child can result. If you can not have children, you should still prep the bare minimum because if society falls apart there is a good chance that children in need will be looking for homes. We live in a perverse generation, and while we often think of the animals that will be abandoned and roving, in reality there will also be needy children. Whether their parents left them through choice or died, children will need cared for, and all Christians should be willing to take on that responsibility as much as they are able. It is better to have prepped ahead, then to try to make do after.

Infants and Toddlers
Prepping for an infant is not difficult and does not have to be expensive – all of their needs can fit in one large Rubbermaid type tote. You truly do not need the majority of things most baby magazines tell you to get. If you do not plan on having children, just the barest of basics should suffice. If children are in your plan, then you should prep more. If you never need the preps – someone will and they will be valuable trade material.
The first thing needed is a good book! Emergency childbirth is good, but there are more comprehensive ones out there if you want more information. We have home birthed several of our children without a midwife. Hopefully your normal preps call for 4x4 gauze pads, betadine, and other medical supplies. Cord clamps are nice, but clean cotton cording works too. A nasal syringe should be included. Most home birth books and web sites give a list of supplies – use common sense so you don’t oversupply.
At a bare minimum you should stock 3 dozen cloth diapers (less may be needed depending on laundry facilities). These can be obtained cheaply or even for free. Try looking at thrift stores, requesting them on FreeCycle, or even making your own if you sew (directions can be found online). I purchased 6 dozen Chinese pre-folds eight years ago. They are now on their fifth child and still going strong. To go along with the diapers, you will need 3-5 diaper covers in each size. Fleece and fabric are all the rage – but they are bulky, expensive, and I think they wick moisture resulting in more leaks. I have used nylon pants for years. They are very inexpensive new – I pay $3 for 2 pair. With proper care (rinsing or wash and line dry) they last forever. Avoid the plastic Gerber type pants at all costs. While cheap, the plastic degrades and they split. Diaper pins are inexpensive. I prefer to order the old fashioned metal ones as they last longer, can be sharpened when they get dull, and can be used for many things besides diapers (what man wants his overall strap held on with a yellow ducky?). I am still using the same metal pins that I bought for baby #1. For inexpensive new diapering items, check babybestbuy.com.
Feeding an infant should not require any special preps, since in a perfect world Mom will nurse the infant until it is ready to eat table foods. We have never fed a child infant juice, baby cereal, or the awful looking jarred baby food. Since we do not live in a perfect world, we should take a few minutes and dollars to ensure that baby can be fed if something happens to mom. I suggest the baby bottles that take the disposable bags. The bags are cheap and eliminate the need to carefully wash or sterilize bottles. In a pinch, the bags can be washed and reused. We have stocked 5 bottles, an extra 20 nipples, and 500 bags. Infant formula is very expensive and has a short shelf life. While not ideal, infants can be fed goat or cows’ milk (you can pasteurize it on the wood or Coleman stove if worried about the health of the animal). If a dairy animal is not an option, you can stock canned milk and corn syrup and make your own formula. A simple web search will give you several different recipes for what the old timers fed their babies. If even that is not an option, you can successfully raise a child without milk – although I certainly do not recommend it. My husband was highly allergic to all dairy (they even tried mare’s milk). They would boil beef, grind it, strain it, and feed it to him in a bottle, then supplement with calcium drops. Please remember that these methods are only to be used when the alternative is death. Once a child can eat table food, it will eat what you do. Our two year old loves enchiladas and chili. Our 8 month old eats anything we feed her. Children learn to be picky – they are not born that way.
Clothing an infant is the simplest of all and does not require any large cash outlay or space. For infant clothing, pick up some cotton baby gowns with elastic at the bottom and socks. A child can wear those for the first 3 or 4 months. I recommend a good quality baby sling (I use the Maya wrap) or a 4 yard length of heavy duty cotton that can be tied into sling formation for carrying baby. Wearing your baby will keep it warm and safe. Babies do not require swings, playpens, and jungle gyms. They require warmth, food, and lots of love.
You will want clothing for when the child starts moving about on its own – about 6 months or so. When choosing the clothing to stock, try to choose things that are adjustable, can easily be cuffed, and do not have parts to wear out. Baby crotch snaps are notorious for giving out. Avoid “cute and ruffly” and go for “easy to launder and adjust.” Stains are going to come out of natural fibers much easier than polyester and petroleum based fibers, and also darker colors rather than light. Girls can wear overalls, but boys can’t wear dresses. I have also found that it is better to pay more for high quality (even used) than it is to purchase the cheapest clothing. We have OshKosh clothing that is now being worn by an 8th child and still looks new. After using a wringer washer for a year, we also have discovered that the cheaper quality clothing does not stand up to less than ideal washing conditions. If you will be using a wringer, you might keep in mind that they eat buttons and zippers. Perhaps your greatest asset in this area will be the ability to sew – a hem can be put in or let out in moments and can make a pair of pants or a dress last a year rather than two months. You might stock a snap setter and assortment of snaps (less than $30 for all) and also an assortment of buttons for those needed repairs.
Another item you will need is blankets. I love to quilt, and so I usually use quilts and/or crocheted afghans. These have an added benefit of being able to be sewn together into bigger quilts and afghans as the child gets bigger. Two crib sized quilts becomes one twin sized bunk bed quilt, four sewn together becomes a full sized or small queen sized. Again, the ability to sew will serve you in good standing as you can turn old clothing into new blankets.
Children's Clothing
When choosing clothing, please consider fiber content and your heat source. We heat with wood and only choose clothing that is 100% cotton. Most commercially made sleepwear is made from polyester blends, as per government guidelines. The reason for this is that cotton burns. Polyester has a lower burn threshold, but melts into your skin – which is why airline travelers are encouraged to wear natural fibers. Our oldest daughter has the habit of backing up to the wood stove to warm up in the mornings and her polyester nightgown melted. Since then, we use only cotton.
I shop the local thrift stores when they have $1 a bag days. We also get offered hand me downs quite often and we never turn them down. I have to do a bit of digging, but I have managed to stock clothing from children through adults, including shoes, hats, gloves and winter coats. I only purchase high quality brands that are in good condition. All shoes, boots and hats get sprayed with Lysol. All clothing gets sorted into totes by size and stored in a shed. When a child grows into the next size, we go through the shed before going shopping. In these good times, my daughters and I wear only dresses but I stock only pants for practicality. There have been times when a local house burned down, or a homeless family came through, and I was able to re-clothe them from my shed. I avoid all “stylish” clothing and choose timeless items – jeans, sweatshirts, flannels, etc. I keep a list in my wallet so I do not end up with 20 size 10 winter coats and no size 14. I also limit my “stash” to one tote per size of clothing, and 2 coats per size. When saving clothing that our own children have outgrown we follow the same guidelines – only those in good condition get stored. I do not store summer clothes, per se. We do not wear shorts or tank tops due to modesty. We go barefoot at home on our farm. Summer clothes would just take up space that could be used for winter clothing – which is a necessity. Warm winter clothing is a need, and as such will be good for barter and gifting when it is no longer available new.
Miscellaneous Physical Needs
In addition to clothing and food, we stock a year to 18 months worth of children’s multivitamins and medicines. We keep a close eye on the expiration date and donate them to a children’s home 2 months before they expire if we have not rotated through them (2 months so that they have time to use them). We have a relative living near the border that travels to Mexico once a year for us to stock up on children’s antibiotics, cold medicines that we can no longer buy in the US without being treated like a criminal, etc. Again, these are shipped to an orphanage in Mexico when they near their expiration date. We also keep diarrhea medications and laxatives on hand that are formulated for children. All of these items can be rather expensive, but I would rather spend the money and not need it than need it and not have it. I also stock a quantity of children’s electrolyte powder that can be added to water.
Our children are not allowed to be picky eaters. Because they have been taught to eat everything, we do not worry about stocking special food for them. We grow a large garden and our children have been taught to love fresh foods – people are amazed when my children tell them that Brussels sprouts are their favorite vegetable, or that asparagus is a close second. We try to eat what we store and store what we eat, so our children do not turn their noses up at beans, rice, lentils, and the like. I do stock more fruits and vegetables than I would for just adults, because I think growing children need a more balanced diet.
Once a child's physical needs have been met, it is time to think of their educational needs. Not only would it be good to school your children in times of societal breakdown for the sake of intelligence, but it will keep the children occupied and give them a sense of normalcy.
We have always home schooled, so we have a certain curriculum that we like. Last year we felt our other preps were sufficiently in place and it was time to look towards schooling. We sold an asset and used the money (just under $3000) to purchase the school books for every child from now until 12th grade. It seems silly to have the high school books for our 8 month old, but we do! Our chosen curriculum is mostly non-consumable and is one of the more affordable ones available. You might need to spend much more than that if you use a consumable curriculum. One good thing is that it will not go to waste – we would be buying it anyway, just not all at once.
If you do not already homeschool, or can not manage to spend that chunk of money, you can still provide for their educational needs. Our local school district has one weekend a year where they give away all of their old text books and supplies. We have gotten two complete sets of World Book Encyclopedias on those days. Call your school district office and see if they do the same thing. You could get the books you need, plus teachers editions for free.
I have seen old school books at yard sales and book sales. You could ask on FreeCycle, watch eBay, or check out the local homeschool convention for used book sales. In a situation where the schools have been closed, any book will be better than no books.
Even if you just supply non-fiction books and biographies, your children can be learning while reading a set number of pages or hours per day.
In addition to books, you will need supplies. Each year our local big box store puts crayons on sale 25¢ per box and paper 10¢ per package. Other school items go on sale at the same time. I have 4 totes filled with school supplies. When a local school closed we were able to purchase a chalk board and a hand crank pencil sharpener. This small slice of normalcy will be important to our children if life as they know it has ended.
Toys and Entertainment
Many of today’s children will have no idea what to do with themselves if they find their Gameboys, iPods, and MySpace no longer function. Hopefully, those who are of the prepping mindset have directed their children towards interests that won’t disappear. When choosing play items for our children, we try to choose things that provide lasting benefit hidden behind the fun.
When purchasing toys, we avoid batteries and try to choose ones that have lasting play value. We have extensive collections of Legos, Lincoln Logs, KNex, and the like. We also try to stick with toys that can be enjoyed by more than one child at a time. Our children have always been each others closest “play buddies” so they will not have a hard time transitioning to close quarters.
We generally do not have baby toys. Unwritten parental rules include the fact that babies will want what their older siblings or parents have. They are quite happy playing with wooden spoons, measuring cups, crochet hooks, boxes, and other objects they think they are not supposed to have.
Instead of handing our son a video game with karate killers, we hand him a throwing knife and spend time with him. Instead of an iPod, he got a compound bow and some arrows and a special time with Dad each week. Instead of his own television for his room, he got a chemistry set. Instead of Disney world, we go hunting, fishing or camping. Instead of Harry Potter, we read Backyard Ballistics and made a catapult.
Our daughters have high quality baby dolls instead of Barbie and enjoy sewing clothes for them out of mom’s scraps. They have their own aprons, measuring cups and rolling pins and get to actually cook and make a mess (then help clean it up!) instead of painting their fingernails. (Our oldest daughter is just 10.) They get latch hook rug kits, paint by number kits, and other craft items rather than karaoke machines.
Everything we purchase or give our children is making a choice. It will give them fleeting enjoyment, or enjoyment and knowledge. All of these things can be considered prepping because you are prepping your children – without their knowledge. You are equipping them to handle the changes that life may bring, and if life doesn’t change they are none the worse for wear.
In addition to prepping my children by the things we enjoy and do, I have chosen to store things for their enjoyment also. Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to find craft kits that people bought and never used. Large puzzles are great family activities and can be bought cheaply. I have some games that are new to us stored away for a little variety. Other items in my “entertainment” preps are decks of cards, books and supplies for learning to knit, rubber stamps and water based inks (so they can be recharged with water), a book about making homemade kites from widely available objects, etc. I also have a tote full of gifts for birthdays, Christmas, or special occasions. High quality pocket knives, wind up watches, sewing scissors, nesting dolls, etc. Things that will make a holiday seem normal and special, but that have lasting value and take up little space. One thing I have noticed in most doomer movies and books is that after a few weeks, the hard work is done and boredom and monotony set in. I want to make that transition easier.
In general, I apply the same philosophy when prepping for my children as I do for general preppin: Store what you use and use what you store. I store nothing that will go to waste, even if I have more of it than just my children can use. Cloth diapers can be dust rags, bandages, or traded. The gifts and school books will get used either way. Children are our greatest resource, and we need to be prepared not just to keep them alive, but to let them flourish.


My mention yesterday of South African military surplus 7.62 mm NATO ball ammo prompted several readers to write me to ask for my recommendations on surplus ammo dealers. I recommend: AIM Surplus, Cheaper Than Dirt, Dan's Ammo, J&G Sales, Midway, Ammunitionstore.com, Natchez Shooter Supply, and The Sportsman's Guide. Of these, the last that I heard that had any South African 7.62 mm NATO was Cheaper Than Dirt, but they now seem to have dropped it from their catalog. But you might want to give them a call to ask if they still have any left on hand.

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Keith reminded me that it has been many months since I've mentioned Gamma Seal bucket lids. These make storage food buckets much more versatile. They are available from Nitro-Pak. or directly from www.gammaseals.com

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Reader "RCP" sent this story from Bloomberg.com: Total, Shell Chief Executives Say "Easy Oil' Is Gone". Meanwhile, ABC News reports: 'Strong Possibility' That U.S. Gasoline Will Rise to $4 Per Gallon

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake." - Chess Master Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)

Friday, April 6, 2007

I begin today's blog entries writing on a theme that is familiar to both readers of SurvivalBlog and readers of my novel "Patriots", charity.

At the risk for sounding preachy, I'd like to re-emphasize the importance of storing extra logistics so that you can be charitable when disaster strikes. Charity is Biblically supported, and makes common sense. (I strongly advise it, regardless of your religious beliefs.) When the Schumer Hits the Fan (SHTF), you will want neighbors that you can count on, not people that you fear or distrust. By dispensing copious charity to your neighbors that did not have the same foresight that you did, you will solidify them as strong allies instead of envious potential enemies. In describing communities, psychologists and sociologists often talk in terms of the "we/they paradigm". Typically, this is used in a negative connotation, such as when they describe racism. (And rightfully so--I loathe racism.) But I can see something positive in building an appropriate "we/they" distinction during a societal collapse--the distinction between your local community and predatory outsiders. Just ask anyone that has ever lived "inside the wire" at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Iraq. Those soldiers will tell you that they felt a strong cohesive bond, and were absolutely determined to repel anyone that attempted to attack their FOB. Their steadfast resolve can be summed up with the words: "They are not getting through the wire. Period." Dispensing charity helps build a cohesive "we" and draws into sharp contrast the "they." (In my view of the near future, the "they" will likely be roving bands of criminal looters. Imagine a situation like in the movie The Road Warrior, and you are inside the perimeter at the refinery. Can you see the appropriate "we/they"?)

By logical extension, you can dispense significant charity only if you have it to give. Clearly, you must stock up above and beyond your own family's needs. So, for example, if you calculate that you need 300 pounds of wheat for your family, don't buy just 300 pounds. Instead, buy 600, 900, or even 1,200 pounds. That might sound expensive, but presently you can buy 50 pound sacks of hard red winter wheat for around $7 to $8 each. About 45 pounds of wheat will fit in a plastic 6 gallon food grade bucket that costs just over $2. Or even if you pay more to buy wheat that already packaged for long term storage in buckets (from a vendor like Walton Feed), a 45 pound bucket of wheat still costs just $17.15. Beans and rice are similarly priced. Consider that extra food as a key to building a "sense of community." Even for even those of you that are non-religious, dispensing charity will be part of your "we/they paradigm" insurance. If purchased in bulk quantities, it is also cheap insurance. Don't neglect buying your family that insurance! OBTW, speaking of wheat, the threat of the wheat "super-blight" is looming. This makes it urgent for families to stock up.

Where is the Biblical support for charity? It can be seen throughout the Old and New Testaments. Remember the Bible's guidance about leaving unharvested rows of crops, to benefit "gleaners"? For example, see Leviticus 23:22: "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God." (KJV)

The Old Testament law regarding charity can be found in Deuteronomy Chapter 15, verses 7-11 (KJV):

15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
15:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
15:9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year [of Jubilee], the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
15:10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

From these verses it is it clear that we will always have poor people in our community ("the poor shall never cease out of the land"), and it abundantly clear that it is our duty to help them ("Thou shalt surely give...") End of preachy mode. My apologies if this offended those of you that aren't Christians or Jews. But again, even folks that are strident atheists should see the wisdom of having extra food storage to provide for charity. It is in your own best interest.

Dear Editor:
As you likely know from my prior communications, I am a long time reader of your web site, your novel "Patriots", and your recent "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" book, which is, other things being equal, well written and interesting. However, the obvious exclusion, which you freely articulate, is the Eastern US. I' m bringing this up for two reasons:
1) I am an ex-military Emergency Room Physician, who is convinced that TEOTWAWKI is very, very near ( the next signal is when the US Dollar Index goes below 77, that's it! The "Patriots" [economic collapse] model will then come into full play), who is personally looking at retreats in the middle and east Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, north Georgia, and western North Carolina regions. These are the areas that I am most familiar with, having grown up hunting and fishing, there. Although I have a heavily supplied, fairly secluded and defensible, and very well armed suburban outpost with several highly skilled sons for fire support, I am looking for a secondary retreat for when it looks as if our ammo is exceeded by the number of urban zombies (or, police state drones, same thing) invading the "burbs." Thus, I am seeing a lot of land that is reasonably priced and fairly remote from the Golden Horde and it seems that such represents a logical retreat location. Obviously the Boston/Washington DC corridor, and at least 200, maybe 300, miles surrounding it, is to be avoided, as when TSHTF, the skill-less, resource-less, dependent, sometimes brain-less hordes from that region will descend upon the rest of humanity like locusts. Otherwise, I see many areas East of the Mississippi River that might be included in a listing of potentially useful survival sites.
2) I suspect that many of your readers are from the East of the Mississippi area, and can't, as I can't, truly relate to the Western regions. (Although I've hunted in the West and the main difference is that you guys don't have "true woods" with heavy thickets that require snake pants and machetes for movement.) I think that you either you need to look at producing a new "retreats" book focusing on the East (which it is clear you aren't really interested in, from the forward in Rawles on Retreats and Relocation or we need a sub-forum on this topic for a detailed, ongoing discussion. Maybe an area of your web site site for discussion on this topic. Much thanks for your work, - Wardoctor

JWR Replies: You are correct. As I wrote in the opening chapter of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation I only have recommendations on 19 western states, (excluding 29 eastern states) for two major reasons: 1.) their high ambient population density, and 2.) their downwind locations, in the path of fallout from the U.S. Air Force missile fields, roughly half of which are around the juncture of Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming, and large fields in central Montana and north-central North Dakota. (Where the vast majority of enemy "throw weight" would presumably land, nearly all in the form of fallout-producing ground bursts.) And, BTW, even if I thought those locales were suitable for retreats, I wouldn't feel qualified to write on the subject, since I am a westerner. (I haven't traveled extensively in the eastern U.S.)

I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers that are interested in retreats east of the Mississippi River should chime in on a new thread of discussion at the The Claire Files, in their "Gulching" Forum. I just started a new thread titled: "From SurvivalBlog: What are the Best Eastern Retreat Locales?)

Quoting AllAfrica.com, economist Richard Daughty (a.k.a. "The Mogambo Guru") commented on the dire straits of the hyperinflated Zimbabwean dollar: "...in local currency, 'current gold producer price stands at Zim$16,000 per gram.' This is the producer price, which works out to Zim$497,655.63 per ounce." The Mogambo notes that the Zimbabweans that invested in gold back before the currency inflation began in earnest are now thankful for their foresight. My observation: Someday you may be similarly thankful. Just plan ahead. If you haven't done so already, diversify your investment portfolio into gold and silver. Sleep soundly.

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S.F. in Hawaii mentioned two bits of McGyver that he found on the Internet: Video on how to re-build dead laptop battery packs, and another video on how to make a whipped cream can secret safe that you can leave in your refrigerator.

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Apparently, the South African 7.62mm NATO ball ammo currently on the U.S. market was diverted from intended destruction as scrap metal. The CNN reporter makes it sound like some horrendous crime. But our kids here at the Rawles Ranch are benefiting from that surplus South African ammo. It would a shame if it had been run through a popper and melted for scrap. My advice: stock up, because obviously there won't be any more imported.

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem ." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Thursday, April 5, 2007

On a recent car trip, we saw a pair of Sand Hill Cranes in a marsh near the side of the road. The Memsahib, a life-long birder, was very excited to finally be able to put them on her "life list."

Mr. Rawles,
I've read your book and perused your web site extensively, yet there is one issue which I cannot find a plan or answer for: growing children.
I have three and five year old boys. Kids grow of course, and fast. Stocking up on clothing, shoes, et cetera while planning for future growth is like stocking up for five or six separate people. I'm sure there are many of us who would appreciate some advice on this issue, and maybe some time in the future you could address it.
As a comment, I highly recommend an anti-diarrheal such as Loperamide in one's medicine chest. One half of all deaths during the Civil War were intestinal disorders: typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery. When a new dark age settles upon mankind, poor hygiene and tainted food or contaminated water will again take their toll, especially on kids.
From a history on Civil War Medicine which you may find interesting, as the descriptions of some Civil War camps might resemble some retreat [situation]s. (The following is quote from The American Civil War Home Page):
"About half of the deaths from disease during the Civil War were caused by intestinal disorders. The remainder died from pneumonia and tuberculosis. Camps populated by young soldiers who had never before been exposed to a large variety of common contagious diseases were plagued by outbreaks of measles, chickenpox, mumps, and whooping cough.
The culprit in most cases of wartime illness, however, was the shocking filth of the army camp itself. An inspector in late 1861 found most Federal camps 'littered with refuse, food, and other rubbish, sometimes in an offensive state of decomposition; slops deposited in pits within the camp limits or thrown out of broadcast; heaps of manure and offal close to the camp." As a result, bacteria and viruses spread through the camp like wildfire. Bowel disorders constituted the soldiers' most common complaint. The Union army reported that more than 995 out of every 1,000 men eventually contracted chronic diarrhea or dysentery during the war; the Confederates fared no better.
Typhoid fever was even more devastating. Perhaps one-quarter of non-combat deaths in the Confederacy resulted from this disease, caused by the consumption of food or water contaminated by salmonella bacteria. Epidemics of malaria spread through camps located next to stagnant swamps teeming with anopheles mosquito. Although treatment with quinine reduced fatalities, malaria nevertheless struck approximately one quarter of all servicemen; the Union army alone reported one million cases of it during the course of the war. Poor diet and exposure to the elements only added to the burden. A simple cold often developed into pneumonia, which was the third leading killer disease of the war, after typhoid and dysentery."
Regards, - Jeff

The Memsahib Replies: Buying clothes for kids can be problematic. We buy lots extra "to grow into"-sized clothes at thrift stores. Many thrift stores have special sales once a month where you can buy a bagful of clothes for a dollar. This is a great time to stock up on kid's clothes. They may not be stylish, but they are inexpensive and functional. If you make the rounds of thrift stores regularly on their sales days you will be able to stock up inexpensively.

Avoid jackets with zippers because zippers break easily.

When thrift store shopping, be on the lookout in the sweater section for Merino wool sweaters (usually tagged as such.) These can be purchased for a fraction of their retail price. They stay warm even when wet, so are ideal for layering outdoor clothing.

We like to visit thrift stores when we travel to large urban areas with affluent populations. (You won't find much selection in small town thrift stores, and the thrift store clothes there are generally heavily worn, with little life left in them.)

The only items that we avoid at thrift stores are shoes, which might be vectors for foot fungi. . We buy lots extra mud boots (in several sequentially larger sizes than our kid's current ones) when they are on sale at our local farm co-op store. I've also lucked into some brand new (unissued) military combat boots at great prices at gun shows. It is amazing what Uncle Sugar releases as surplus, usually at pennies on the dollar.

Our extra clothes stored for survival purposes are nearly all in earth tones (not reds, yellows, pinks, blacks, or bright blues). Light-colored clothes made from natural fibers can be dyed to "tacticalize" them. As mentioned in JWR's book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, it is a good idea to buy packets of RIT brown and green dyes when you find it on sale. Also a lot of our native plants can be used to dye natural fiber fabrics. Your local library will probably have books on plants for natural dyes. Also see this web site. And BTW, a fun Spring craft project is coloring hard boiled eggs with natural dyes.

One not to overlook when thrift store is gloves in sequential sizes. If you have too many, they always can be used for barter. Most clothing items can be improvised, but gloves and footwear are the most difficult.

Another good source for kids clothes are hand-me-downs. We never say "no" to hand-me-downs. I sort all the excess clothes into boxes with the sizes marked outside. We get double duty by storing unisex clothing. We store basic sturdy pants, that can be worn by boys or girls. Ditto for tops. We don't store anything obviously girly. Rightly so, the boys in your family will not wear anything girly. But girls can wear "boy" clothes in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Boy clothes are usually better made, comfortable to wear, modest, and in more tactical colors. By the way, aren't the latest fashions just awful!? At a recent social event at which kids of all ages competed in games and relays, the girls in their low rise pants couldn't keep up with the others because these girls kept having to yank their pants back up! And of course the girls wearing those spaghetti strap tops were not only freezing, but distracted because their immodestly cut tops kept gaping during the active play. The last thing you want in a dire situation is the females in your family distracted by a wardrobe malfunction!

Internet/mail order dealers such as Cheaper Than Dirt and Major Surplus and other surplus sellers occasionally offer great prices on foreign military surplus camouflage uniforms, of which the small sizes will fit older children who weigh 100 lbs. or more.

I hope it goes without saying you shouldn't force your wimmin' folk to wear drab ugly boy clothes before the balloon goes up! Nothing will turn the gals off preparedness faster than denying them the enjoyment of bright pretty colors, lace, and ribbons because they won't be practical if and when western civilization collapses!

A few tips/modifications that I have picked up regarding 308 rifles that I hope may be helpful. All the "battle" rifles could stand to lose a little weight and be a little more user friendly. Surprisingly, I have re-worked my FN-FAL down to under the weight of many AR-15s out there with their axle-sized heavy barrels! A heavy barrel carbine seems like a oxymoron to me. Any weight you save, increases the amount of ammo you can carry.
FAL/L1A1- Remove the FAL muzzle brake (its too heavy and too long), replace with a [Smith Enterprise] Vortex flash hider or the Steyr 3-prong flash hider. Replace the round FAL front sight with a square one, you get a better sight picture, or better yet get a tritium night front sight. L1A1 has a fine front sight already. Replace the rear sight with a paratrooper rear sight. You lose some of the adjustment but they don't have the 3 MOA wiggle that the typical FAL rear sight has. If you have metal handguards, ditch them for the Imbel plastic handguards (it takes a blow torch to melt them and they still don't heat up like the metal STG ones do). L1A1 handguards are fine as well. Forget the bipod, or get a QD bipod that can go in your ruck, its extra weight. [In his book "Boston's Gun Bible",] Boston T. Party explains how to change the charging handle into a forward assist/reciprocating handle, as is standard on the heavy barrel FALs, easy to do mod to the bolt carrier. Speaking of bolt carrier get one with sand cuts, and even better is to swap it out for a Para bolt carrier, even if you keep the standard stock. This eliminates the "rat tail" and in a jam, you can hinge open the receiver and work on it. DSA makes a aluminum lower to shave some weight, but its not worth the cost IMHO. DS Arms is also offering a folding stock that accepts CAR-15 style collapsible stocks. The advantage here is that if you wear body armor, or change seasons, you can quickly adjust stock length for the heavy clothes you have on. Neat, but not necessary. If you do go this route, use a Vltor buffer tube. They make them with a screw off endcap so you have an extra storage compartment for your cleaning kit etc. Are you going to scope it? DSA scope mount is the only way to go. They even sell one that is milled out for the [Trijicon] ACOG, which allows you to use iron sights as a back up. Finally, swap out selector for a L1A1 selector, since its easier to manipulate. [JWR Adds: To use an inch selector in a metric FAL, it will take some minor machining or cautious Dremelling. If you aren't mechanically inclined, then selectors that have already been modified to fit metric are often available through the FALFiles Forums "Marketplace" forum page. Just post a "Want to Buy: (WTB) Inch Selector Modified for Metric FAL"") ad.] If you live in a cold climate you may even want to swap out the lower for a L1A1 pistol grip that has the winter trigger guard feature. [JWR Adds: That will only work if you also change the gas block/front sight base, since inch rifles and metric rifles have their front and rear sights at significantly different heights above the bore centerline.] Have a spare parts kit, know how to swap and headspace a new barrel and bolt. Get your spare parts now before they dry up again.

M1A - Get a USGI winter safety, these are fairly rare and I'm not sure of a good source. Swap out front sight/flash hider with a Vortex from Smith Enterprise. Its lighter and works better. They even have a gas block front sight, but you lose some sight length. Get several synthetic stocks from Fred's M14 Stocks and camouflage them to your environment and the various seasons. Scoping the M1A makes it heavy, but the only mount I found that holds rock steady is Smith Enterprises.YMMV Get some variable glass, a nice leupold, to compliment the M1A. A nice combo I played with today was a Scout M1A (not the SOCOM [model] as the 16" barrel gives off some tremendous noise with the noise maker on the end) with the shorter 18" barrel in a Vltor pistol grip, collapsible stock. It was short and sweet. Especially if your terrain precludes 500-800 meter shots. Forget the Picatinny rails, they are just too heavy. Spare bolt, and rear sight parts were cheap, but once the CMP sold out their prices have skyrocketed. Get them while you can. The Taiwan GI mags are comparable to USGI, but anything else is junk.

HK91 - Again, get the Vortex, no difference in weigh but it works better. Get the CETME bayonet lug cap, since it has a cleaning kit that slides behind it in the cocking tube. I don't know about fixed bayonet charge, but this provides an option The slim forearms, with heat shield, are the lightest. Again on the bipod, do you really need it? The low profile scope mounts are the way to go. The surplus W. German FERO are 4x and nice, but the mounts weigh a ton, ditch it. Drill out the rear sight to have a up-close ghost ring. There is an aftermarket sight drum coming that has this. Flapper mag release, this is expensive to modify to your gun, but well worth it. The Tac Latch is another option, but even it is over $50. Both of these speedup the process of magazine changes tremendously. Swap out the charging handle for the larger MG handle, its easier to manipulate under stress and with gloves on. The sliding (A3) HK stock is neat, but hot in the summer and cold against the check in the winter, keep the standard plastic stock, consider a CETME stock, since it has a recoil pad. Get an extra parts kit. You need a spare bolt, carrier, and trigger pack, and rollers. CETME trigger groups have a better trigger pull and you may want to swap it in( but the selector arrangement is different) and you have to modify it for semi only. If the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) or 1986 ever gets repealed, modifying the HK and CETME trigger packs to allow full auto is simple. [JWR Adds: Needless to say, all NFA rules apply. Full auto conversions are illegal in the U.S., and it is illegal to own both a semiauto rifle and selective fire conversion parts. (In the eyes of the law, owning both is the same as owning a gun that has already been converted. If any readers desire full auto capability,then $200 transfer tax full autos are available for purchase in most states, although prices have been bid up to astronomical levels since the 1986 machinegun freeze. I personally feel that semi-auto is fully adequate (and usually more effective) for self defense, and the high profile associated with owning a registered Class 3 full auto or suppressor might be counterproductive, depending on circumstances.] Vector Arms is selling HK91 clones with the flapper mag release already installed if you are in the market. They even have a 16" barreled HK91 clone with a short cocking tube and short carrier. (It cuts weight way down, but you lose sight radius, and 16" in a 308 is pretty darn short.) [Alloy] HK magazines are as cheap as $1.50 each, get many while you can.

AR-10 - I don't know anything about them, but there are some piston uppers coming out for them. The HK417 looks nice, but pricey, if ever available to civilians. [JWR Adds: My advice is to buy only AR-10s that can accept inexpensive FN-FAL magazines, such as the AR-10s made by Bushmaster and Rock River Arms.]

AR-15 - Okay its not a battle rifle but every house should have one, my mouse gun has a pencil 16" barrel, standard handguards, and a flat top upper with a Trijicon ACOG. I'm not sure with the fascination of hanging things on them like a Christmas tree. I do have a QD Surefire that attached to the bayonet lug for use at night. CavArms has the plastic lowers with A1 stocks to get the weight down even farther, I don't know how well they hold up, but Brownell's has them pretty cheap right now. As you know registered drop-in auto sears are available, so get the spares you need. [JWR Adds: A registered drop-in auto sear is presently around $15,000, if you can find someone willing to part with one.]
Get the 'smithing knowledge on your weapons now, and stock up on spare firing pins, magazines, and parts. You should already have the ammo. You need to be able to strip it apart and at least change out the firing pin on everything you own, your life may depend on it. Ditto on firearms training.

Okay now for my question to you regarding fire protection. Our local fire department has hose filters that allows them to draw from ponds and lakes if the tankers go empty. Fine and dandy if the fire department is still around. What options are available if they are not? One of the earlier"Jericho" shows, showed them back pumping a pool filter to fight a fire. I imagine it would take a whopper of a "pool" filter/pump to actually do this. I guess bucket brigade may be the only option? - Mike

JWR Replies: Gasoline engine-powered portable pumps are available for about the same cost as a portable generator. These can easily provide enough water pressure for a firefighting rig. I also recommend that if you have a retreat property with a hillside above it that accommodate a cistern with at least 40 feet of "fall" to your retreat buildings that you construct at 1,500 gallon (pr larger) cistern. Be sure that the water service line coming down from this cistern is at least 1.5-inches in diameter (preferably 2" diameter), and Schedule 40 specification. That will give your sufficient pressure and volume for a firefighting rig.

As mentioned over at The Claire Files, there is a family in Pasadena, California, that feeds themselves with just the produce from a garden on their small suburban lot. They even have excess to sell to restaurants!

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Reader RBS mentioned this commentary from Pastor Thomas Horn: Does God Have An Emergency Preparedness Plan?

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Hawaiian K. recommended "A good, puncture-resistant bike tire."

"Do not that to another, which thou wouldest not have done to thy selfe."- Thomas Hobbes (born April 5, 1588)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Please consider writing an article for Round10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which began on April 1st and ends May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Dear Jim and Family,
I have bad news on the Peak Oil front. We're about five years from losing 50% of our current production, in real world terms. The producing countries are failing in their big fields, many from 8-15% decline a year (Cantarell in Mexico is down 25% from last year, Ghawar is down 10.5%, Burgan in Kuwait down 12%, Iran down something like 16%, Russia down 12%, UK/North Sea no longer exporting). Even if there are no wars and no embargos, we only have about 5 years before we only have around half as much oil (gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil, plastics, cosmetics, lubricants, pesticides, etc) production left. There will still be oil in the ground, however it won't be enough for the demand so the remaining supply will be bid up in price until things get very bad. Very bad. If we're quite lucky we'll see rolling blackouts (scheduled) in the Western states which only last a few hours a day, rather than days a week. There are certain unpleasant complications too, already being felt around the world.

The first to feel the effects of Peak Oil was Cuba. Contrary to public claims by the commies, they don't feed themselves with their city gardens. They feed 18% of themselves, and import 82% of their food. Castro lies: how unexpected!

Zimbabwe is ruled by a crazy despot named Robert Mugabe. First he stole the land of the only productive farmers and gave it to untrained poor people. [JWR Adds: And lots of land to his political cronies in his own tribe, most of whom have left the land fallow.] Crops failed. Lack of crops meant lack of money (and food), and fuel bills didn't get paid so fuel stopped being delivered to Zimbabwe. The country has 1200% inflation (or higher) and the whole country has collapsed. Then he cleverly tore down the slums and did not build new housing for the 120K poor people now homeless. With no money, how could he? Before his brilliant land theft, Zimbabwe was feeding Africa with its grain. I'm still trying to figure out why nobody has thought they might shoot Mugabe.

Another country suffering from Peak Oil is Guinea. This is one of two major cacao (chocolate) producing countries. The average person there earns $370/year. The fast rise in fuel prices has destroyed most businesses and farms there so there have been fuel/food riots.

Indonesia, usually considered a fairly stable developing country, has had several strikes and riots over fuel costs. Indonesia long subsidized fuel costs so it was the same everywhere. This seemed like a good idea back in the early 1990s when [the price of] fuel was pretty stable anyway (after Gulf War 1) but then the price went crazy and the government lost control. I recall that people died in the rioting, and more than a couple. Indonesia used to export oil, but its been importing for the last few years now.

The USA peaked its oil supplies in 1970, a year earlier than M. King Hubbert (the father of Peak Oil) predicted. At that point, the USA suffered a major economic shortage and suffered troubles from the OPEC embargo. The USA responded by getting involved in Middle Eastern conflicts and sold weapons in the region, making a bad situation worse. A deal closed with Saudi Arabia was deepened with modern planes and tanks and more oil was pumped out, using the Latest Technology. By 1980, the USA was struggling with even worse problems but Ronald Reagan convinced the Saudis to pump oil even faster, with even later technology, greatly increasing the production rate of their wells, and the decline of their major field, Ghawar. Prudhoe Bay helps the USA a little but the decline continued, even with the latest technology (notice the emphasis?). By 1989, Russia, forced to sell its oil at a lower price thanks to the Saudis, declares bankruptcy and the Berlin Wall comes down. US citizens all buy SUVs to celebrate the end of communism and recession promptly kicks in after fighting Gulf War 1. GHWB is replaced by Clinton and he's the first president we know of for sure that's heard of peak oil. GHWB probably did too, and Jimmy Carter talked about energy crisis but we didn't want to hear it and fired him. Lord Knows, the American People won't stand for lowered expectations. All that oil pumping in Saudi means the field is going empty. The latest figures show its declined from 8% in January to 10.5% in March, which means the decline is accelerating. In these Latest Technology oilfields, oil supply can suddenly just... stop. You pump water in and get water and oil back out most of the time, but if you pump too much too fast you just get water out. And your field is done.

And that's kinda what's happened in Venezuela too. Overproduction by politically correct amateurs. A boss who cheats the polls, kills his opponents, and blames the USA for his problems. Like Mugabe a few years ago. I wonder if it will go just as well?

Nigeria doesn't have a civil war. Honest. It's just Youths. With AK-47s, who control large parts of the oil fields in the Niger delta. Its just Troubles, not stealing oil and kidnapping oil workers and stopping work on the oil platforms. Just troubles. Honest. Nigeria is not in Civil War. You can trust me on this. Pay no attention to the blackouts covering most of the country, or the fact that exports have dropped by 600,000 barrels a day. Not civil war. And I got a bridge I can sell you.

What do you think will happen when there's only half as much oil left to use? Its called a Bidding War. The price is bid up until demand is destroyed. How high would that price go when there's only half as much fuel to go around, and we've got 1/3 of China and 1/3 of India who are bidding for it too, and their money is more stable than ours because they're not bankrupt funding the Iraq War. $300/barrel? Nope, that's too low. More like $500. Gasoline is around $3/gal now, when oil is $63/bbl. Do the math on that. At $300/bbl, gasoline jumps to around $15/gal. Rip out the taxes and its $11/gal, which is still really high but less than beer. At that price driving around will be expensive, and questionable for commuting. If you keep your junker SUV and carpool, you can afford it, barely. Of course, when 100 million more Chinese buy cars, the price goes up again, to $500/bbl, which means fuel now costs around $20/gal. This is more than the average person can afford. Carpooling is no longer something you can do on a daily basis unless you can carry 3 other people. The vehicle gets more crowded, the bidding goes higher and production keeps falling, inevitably, because there's just only so much oil to go around. And before you get too excited about Ethanol, oil makes the pesticides and herbicides which makes growing corn over and over in the same field possible. Without it, you need crop rotation or bugs and rots and molds will destroy all future crops. Crop rotation means far lower yield, which means less ethanol, much less. Around 1/6th as much and at that point, wouldn't you rather eat the corn? The greatest irony of a bidding war and fuel economy is the higher the total economy rises, the higher the price of fuel can go. A 60 mpg Prius means that the price of gasoline can run to $45/gal. for the average driver. Throw in one carpooler and it doubles to $90/gal. Swap that Prius for a modified Plug In Prius, getting 150 mpg (some have reported 200 mpg) and a short commute, and you're looking at $100/gal for gasoline, sold in a hand cut, etched glass decanter at a high end liquor/fuel store where men with shotguns stand guard at the front door. Ad nauseam. Yes, you can argue that such and such thing will make this new alternative source of fuel affordable but the real world can't afford that stuff. Nickel is in short supply: there just isn't enough of it to make batteries for all the vehicles needed. Other options aren't as good as nickel, or are even rarer and more expensive.

So basically, we're up the creek. Take a good look at your car in the driveway and think hard: should I be selling this car and buy a junker that only lasts a couple more years rather than sit in debt on something I won't be able to afford gas for? A few days ago I figured we'd see $4.50/gal as the high point this year. Now I think we'll pass $6/gal by Christmas. Think about that.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that a miracle occurs, but we don't plan for miracles here. We plan for worst case, and worst case is getting used to the idea of unexpected fuel shortages and expected unsteady-but-continual rise in prices.

I feel like sticking my head in the sand and doing my Ostrich Impression. I'm seriously pondering bailing out of the city much sooner because of this, but there are things I need to finish here so we'll wait as long as we can bear it. Best, - InyoKern

Mr. Rawles:
I discovered SurvivalBlog just by accident about two months ago, when I was doing a Google search on "FN-FAL" [rifles]. I pretty soon discovered your blog was a treasure trove. Not only am I totally addicted to reading the new postings every day (I read it on my lunch hour at work), but I've also started working my way back through the archives. (It was just two weeks ago that I discovered the little "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog" window down under your rotating ads. Maybe you should put that up at the top, so people can spot it easier.) Wow! I just can't believe how much practical no-BS info that you have put together in your blog postings, and in the permanent [button bar] pages at the top (like your Retreat [Areas] page and your Survival Guns page), plus all your FAQs. Also, thanks for your big glossary, which is great for a newbie like me. (I'm a served as a Air Force mechanic and I know a lot about vehicles and guns, but the rest of preparedness is pretty new to me.) I had always felt the need to be ready for more than just high water and hurricanes, but couldn't put my finger on why. But now, after reading your blog and your books, I'm connecting all the dots. Everything you write rings true with me. We do live in a very fragile world. I saw that up close and personal, right after Hurricane Katrina. And that was just a regional disaster. Something nationwide will be horrendous. An you were right when you said: "The power grid is the lynchpin." Once that grid goes down past a few days, people are going to come unglued.

So now, I'm selling off some of my "Big Boy Toys" (like our ski boat, our his-and-hers matched set of jet skis, my Army Air Corps and early Air Force flight instrument collection, and my commemorative guns.) I'm spending all that cash on getting prepared, big time. Example: Right now, the Mrs. and I are getting our long term food stocks and heirloom garden seeds squared away. I just recently got your Rawles on Retreats and Relocation book, plus your Best of the Blog book. They are both some Hotel Sierra reference books. I tore through those books! Now the Mrs. is reading them. And I just ordered your novel ["Patriots"], too, and we can't wait to read it.

But the main reason I'm writing this is to say that just last week I decided that I was being a freeloader, so I signed up for The Ten Cent Challenge. I challenge everyone else out there reading this to do it, too. Come on you clowns, if you think that SurvivalBlog ain't worth 10 cents a day, y'all are kidding yourself. Fact is, I'd be happy to pay ten times that--a dollar a day--for what I learn on SurvivalBlog. Example: Just what I learned about generators by itself saved me about $500, last month. (On Mr. Rawles's advice, I bought a diesel engine low-RPM genset instead of the "bargain" gasoline-powered high-RPM genset that I had originally wanted to buy. It [the diesel generator] will last 2X or 3X longer [than the gasoline-powered model.] Plus, until I had read through SurvivalBlog, I hadn't even thought about common fuel for [the generator and] my [diesel] tractor and my Dodge pickup, which is also a diesel. That's just one small example of what I'm talking about. Knowledge is power, and knowledge prevents us making expensive mistakes. Like I said, SurvivalBlog is a treasure trove of knowledge and worth every freakin' penny to me, and it should be to you, too. It is a disgrace that only 1% of the SurvivalBlog readers have bought a subscription. For you that are freeloading, shame on you. Quit freeloading, and pony up! - Gus in Alabama.

In a recent e-mail, frequent contributor Michael Z. Williamson noted that the Rock River Arms AR10 (The "LAR-10") variant accepts inexpensive FAL magazines--both metric and inch pattern (L1A1), and is reasonably priced. He also mentioned that despite the looming specter of the H.R. 1022 Federal ban, there are still some bargains in military surplus.308 rifle magazines. Notably, Mike found a source for used FAL magazines for just $5 each, and I found used HK91 (G3) steel magazines for $7.99, and alloy magazines as little as $1.20 each! (HK G3 magazines will also fit CETME rifles.) Stock up, folks!

  o o o

Gardening season will soon be here in North America. If you haven't yet purchased some heirloom variety (non-hybrid) gardening seeds, then now is a great time to do so. I highly recommend the heirloom seed variety packs sold by The Ark Institute, in Bandon, Oregon. Practice using those seeds this gardening season to see which varieties do well in your microclimate, and just importantly, practice saving seed for future crops. (The book "Seed to Seed" describes how to do this for may types of vegetables and grain crops.)

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I'm pleased to see that Mickey Creekmore's Survival Strategies blog is now being updated daily. It has some quite useful articles.

"You may find me one day dead in a ditch somewhere. But by God, you'll find me in a pile of brass." - Trooper M. Padgett

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I have slightly updated my "Pulling Through" screenplay. If you know anyone in the movie business, please let them know that it is an "available property." At least until the screenplay sells to a studio or "indie" production company, the HTML version of the full screenplay is still available for free download. I also distribute hard copies of the screenplay through Cafe Press, with less than a $2 markup. (The goal is to get a lot of copies out there, with hopes of one finding its way into the right hands.) Thanks, folks!

Freeholder's comments on the need for real world experience in animal husbandry are part of a larger issue. How can we gain hands on experience in so many diverse survival skills and still have time for work, family, friends etc? Even if we wanted to, how many stupid mistakes would we make without someone mentoring us? It's just as important to know what doesn't work as what does. This blog has had a lot of great ideas of what to do. Now I'd like to see some of what not to do, otherwise, I'm likely to do that same dang fool thing myself. I'm putting out a call for all the embarrassing mistakes you've all made. Don't assume that it's too stupid for anyone else to make it. I'll start the ball rolling. The first 600 rounds of 9mm that I bought won't shoot reliably from my ported Glock pistols. I need to have non-ported barrels to use them. Did I buy 115 grain target ammo to start? Yup. I didn't know any better. Here's another. After I heard the sound of breaking glass in my house today, knowing my family was out I tried to clear the house with my long-barrel shotgun. Nope, I just couldn't make it through the stairway with that thing and still work the angles. Turned out it was just the wind knocking over a picture frame but it made me realize I had the wrong tool for the job. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Adds: Let the poll begin! I think that this will be a very valuable learning experience for all of us. Humility is considered a virtue by Christians. I've been involved in family preparedness for 30 + years, and in that time, I 've had my share of humbling mistakes. Some have been costly. Here is just one of mine: When I was was 16 years old , I thought that the "ideal" firearms for survival would be an M1 Carbine and Ruger single action revolver, both chambered in the same cartridge (.30 U.S. Carbine.) What I soon discovered was that .30 U.S. Carbine is a poor stopper for deer--even the small coastal deer of California. (Sadly, I crippled one and had to blood trail it for 12 hours before I found it. My foolish choice caused that animal to suffer needlessly.) I did some research and learned that .30 U.S. Carbine is an even worse stopper for self defense when facing two-legged or four legged predators. I also learned from experience that handguns chambered in .30 U.S. Carbine are incredibly loud and have a huge muzzle flash. Thus, they are not practical for much of anything. Needless to say, I soon sold both of those guns. I eventually settled on .308 Winchester / 7.62mm NATO for most of my rifles, and .45 ACP for most of my handguns.

I look forward to reading other people's "lesson's learned" on preparedness. Let the poll begin!

Mr. Rawles,
I bought your book "Patriots" a few years back and just came across your web site in the last month. I loved the book (and have lent it to a few friends), and I am trying to get through the extensive information in the archives on the site. Today I ordered your other book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

Anyway, I currently live between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah. My wife and I have been of a preparedness mindset for at least seven years and are blessed to be completely out of debt. We have a good supply of food, water, tangible assets, defensive options, a garden & fruit trees, heating/cooking fuel fall out shelter, etc... I am a very active Latter-Day Saint (LDS) but you ought to know that 90-95% of LDS people have little or no food storage in spite of 150 years of being told to do it. (I am in charge of preparedness in my ward but for many it still falls on deaf ears).

I have become convinced from people like Joel Skousen and yourself that having a self sufficient, retreat property as you describe is absolutely critical, and I truly believe that TEOTWAWKI may very well happen sooner than we think. Your recommendation of Idaho rings true and I feel like that would be a good viable option. I am not prepared to go and live full time there, but like in your novel, I would hope to be in tune and be able to get out of suburbia at the first sign of trouble.

My biggest concern is distance and limited access routes. In addition to a survival retreat I want to be able to use it for family recreation in the mean time. (By the way I am in my 40s, married with four teenage and pre-teen children). I will be contacting a few realtors and going up to Idaho over the next couple of months to look around. I am serious about doing something this spring! I have a group of close friends who share my concern and would probably join us.

Would you be willing to share your thoughts on specific areas in central and southern Idaho. (Perhaps you already do that in your book?) Do you see any problems or benefits with southeastern Idaho? My thoughts are that the northern Idaho areas near Moscow, Coeur d' Alene, et cetera are just such a long drive to be able to get to with any regularity from Salt Lake City. Any suggestions or help would be gladly appreciated. Thank you in advance. Best Regards, - Thomas B.

JWR Replies: Idaho is my top-ranked state for retreat potential. Parts of southeastern and east-central Idaho are fine for retreat locales. Just be sure to pick properties with plentiful water. (Either spring water or a reliable shallow well.) You will probably feel very comfortable there, since about half of the population of southern Idaho are LDS Church members. In particular, I most highly recommend three areas:

1.) The Montpelier area, in the extreme southeast corner of Idaho. This is a dry land farming region--much like the Palouse Hills of north-central Idaho, albeit on a smaller scale, and with slightly less predictable summer rains. OBTW, one of my preferred storage food companies, Walton Feed, is located in Montpelier. Around Montpelier there seem to be a lot of houses that were built to Mormon family proportions that are still available at reasonable prices.

2.) The Star Valley, which straddles the Idaho-Wyoming state line. If you are looking in that area, then it might as well be on the Wyoming side of the valley, since there is no personal income tax in Wyoming.

3.) The Salmon region. Last Fall we traveled there on behalf of a consulting client. While we we there, we visited numerous parcels all the way from Challis to north of the town of Salmon that have water, abundant wild game, and contiguous state or USFS land. We particularly like the properties in the side canyons, like this one. If you want a truly remote retreat, then look down the River of No Return Road, near the little hamlet of Shoup. (Which by the way has one of America's last gas stations with all hand pumps.) This entire region is off-grid, so all of you neighbors will be on photovoltaics. It is at low elevation, so the snow only sticks about one month of each year. It is also crawling with deer and elk. You certainly won't starve there!

For my detailed recommendations on retreat locales in Idaho, see my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. BTW, the book includes all of my top picks in Idaho--which are not included in my Retreat Areas web page.

I'm not a regular user of cargo trailers; I do own a 26-foot boat with a long-tongue trailer. Whenever I trailer the boat and whenever I have had occasional need for a cargo trailer, I have been the source for entertainment for bystanders. I think I inherited this failing from my father--but that's another story.
My point: is, unless you are really adept at trailer handling, you may want to consider the fix you will be in if, while trailering to your secure location, you come upon a street barricade with armed folks. The attendant super adrenaline rush, together with your lack of trailering skills (backing up--which is always my downfall), may put you and yours in serious jeopardy.
Might be better to have your secured location already stocked, so that your escape vehicle can hold whatever you need to get you safely to that refuge. - R.B.

JWR Replies: I agree wholeheartedly! My general advice is still: It is best to live at self-sufficient retreat in a lightly-populated area, year round. But if you must live in the Dirty Big City, then the vast majority of your logistics should be pre-positioned at your retreat. When you attempt to "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.), when catastrophe strikes you might even have to abandon your vehicle and make it to your retreat on foot. So putting any significant logistics in a trailer could be an invitation to disaster.

Reader T.L. asked where he can get Castile Soap via mail order. It is available from Survival Enterprises. They sell the same Dr. Bronner's Brand soap that I've carried on my backpacking trips since the 1970s. (Castile soap is ideal for backpacking, because a little bottle goes a long way!) The microscopic type "ABC-1-2-3" labels make interesting reading. (Odd doctrine, but hey, the gent has the freedom to put whatever he wants on his bottles and packages.) BTW, I heard that Survival Enterprises also still have a good supply of a few remaining varieties canned long term storage foods.

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Signs of the times: Gasoline Prices Soar on Refinery Trouble, and, Cost of Fuel, Corn Could Push Milk Prices Up 9% by Fall, and Gold, Silver Up As Oil Hits 6-Month High. Gee, it's a good thing that Ben Bernanke is at the helm of the Fed, keeping inflation in check.

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SurvivalBlog reader Murray mentioned that Kim du Toit has again issued an invitation for readers to pick what they'd take on a cross-country wilderness journey. Murray's comments: "Always interesting ...... what long gun, what handgun, what knives, what dog. Me? Marlin 1894C, Taurus 669 .357 revolver, Cold Steel SRK with kydex sheath, a Bark River Knife and Tool Mini-Skinner with kydex sheath, and an American Working Collie. And a wish for a whole lot of steel in the spine along with good boots and healthy feet.

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field." - Niels Bohr

Monday, April 2, 2007

Wow! I just looked at our stats and I see that we logged 71.78 GB of bandwidth for March! The previous record for a month was 53 GB. And as a gauge of long term growth, our traffic in March of 2006 was only 20.5 GB. More than a 355% increase in just a year! The "visits" counts were equally impressive, with 146,548 visits in March of '07 versus 61,641 in March of '06. Many thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Please keep spreading the word by telling your friends and co-workers about SurvivalBlog. Just wearing a SurvivalBlog hat or carrying a SurvivalBlog tote bag around town will help. Thanks!

Today we present the first article submitted for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I might again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which ends May 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Continuing the theme of being part of the solution and not part of the problem when crisis strikes, consider that the time to stock up is before a shortage occurs. We may disagree on the reason why, but it seems obvious that we are living at the tail end of a historic period of plenty.
Whether you feel that the price hikes we are seeing are due to peak oil, developing nations gobbling up natural resources, or active war zones sucking in all available oil and ammunition, you can not deny that prices (especially for fuel and metals) have increased significantly over the past few years.
I think it will become far worse. As the cost of fuel increases, the cost of both manufacturing and shipping drive up retail prices across the board. When you factor in the very real risks of an economic crisis (derivatives, real estate, etc), the loss of honeybees from the pollination cycle, corn products being diverted from food to ethanol, and the real potential for global pandemic, you can see the threat of significant price increases for goods with a post-SHTF value.
Even if you focus only on specific products like the impending shortage of honey from [honeybee] Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) or a ban on high capacity magazines during the next presidential administration, you can not deny that shortages have either already begun or are fast approaching.
That said, this is the time to take stock of what you have on hand and compare it to what you would not want to be caught without. Consider what you expect the price of those goods to be in the future and b work your way through your available funds meeting your highest priority needs first.
In general, the “Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids” mantra is a good place to start.
Beans: You will always need to eat whether there is a TEOTWAWKI event or not. If you take advantage of weekly grocery store sales and group buy discounts to stock up on food you will realize financial savings even if no general price hike or famine occurs. I personally feel that a significant rise in food prices over the next year is almost a certainty and so feel that acquire a food reserve is the top priority.
Bullets: Having food is no good if you have to surrender it to the first thug who comes along. The price of ammunition has increased dramatically as the demand for metals has skyrocketed globally. The political situation in the United States makes impending bans on rifles, ammunition, and magazines very likely in the near future. If you haven’t already stocked up you will pay a higher price, and it is only going to get worse.
Band-aids: Every disaster scenario includes the potential for injury and disease. If you can prevent and/or treat both, the likelihood of survival and the quality of your family’s life increases dramatically.
My chief complaint with survivalist literature in general is the over generalization of recommendations. So my top ten recommended specific purchases are below. Keep in mind that your needs and local market may differ from my own. The following recommendations are based on what I see a need for post SHTF and the likelihood of future shortages in my area.1. Food Grains – rice, oatmeal, beans, wheat, corn – most of us consume far more than we produce. Food grains are cheap especially if bought in bulk and when properly stored can last for years. Regardless of the crisis, food will be needed. It just makes sense to keep several months of food on hand especially in light of the potential shortages that could result from the die off of pollinators, and the potential need for self isolation in case of pandemic. Rice seems the best bargain in my local market. For literally pennies per pound, you can buy insurance against hunger in the form of dry rice.
In addition to grains, watch for grocery store sales on canned goods. Buying 50 cans all at once for 40 cents each is half the cost of buying one can per week for 50 weeks at 80 cents each. I strongly recommend taking advantage of any bargains you run across on shelf stable foods that you normally buy (canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned soups and dry soup ingredients, grains, pastas, etc.).
2. Matches – whether you prefer strike anywhere matches or safety matches, they are cheap, useful, and currently plentiful. They are so cheap that I have listed them as my second recommendation because for less than ten dollars you can have literally years’ worth of matches on hand. Unless you have small children at home, it is well worth storing a book of matches in every bug out bag, camping tote, evacuation suitcase, jacket pocket, and vehicle.
3. If you can still find reasonably priced ammunition, especially 22 Long Rifle bulk packs, buy it. It seems that the opportunity to buy low cost center-fire ammunition is nearly gone. But you may still be able to find 22 long rifle cartridges for less than 2 cents per cartridge. If you can find that price in a brand which functions well in your firearms, I’d recommend buying a large supply. The same is true of 7.62x39 under 15 cents per cartridge and 308 under 25 cents per cartridge. If you can find it, I’d recommend buying it. And don’t forget reloading supplies. As the price of ammunition escalates, reloading will become more popular. It may be worth watching for opportunities to stock up on discounted powder, primers, wads, shot, and projectiles. I recently found a 500 .308 projectiles for $10 at a local gun shop. Few of us have invested in a rifle capable of firing .50 BMG ammunition. If you have, or plan to do so you should buy the ammunition soon. I expect a California style ban on .50 BMG to go nationwide within a decade.

4. Effective defense weapons – like the FAL and HK91 rifles are getting hard to find for less than $500. If you find one, consider picking it up. I think it very likely that 1994-style ban on the tools of self defense will be enacted within the next presidential term. Not only rifles with specific features but whole technologies like night vision equipment, starlight scopes, thermal imaging, and any rifle chambered to accept 50 BMG cartridges may prohibited by future legislation. If any of these features factor into your retreat defense plans, the time to buy is now.
5. High Capacity magazines – HK91 alloy magazines are currently available for under $3 each. I think the likelihood of a ban on the manufacture and import of high capacity magazines during the next presidency is very high. If they are legal in your state and reasonably priced, I think it prudent to buy multiple high capacity magazines for your own use, as a resale investment, and for the next generation!
6. Over the Counter Medicines – including hydrogen peroxide. OTC remedies for flu, cough, digestive issues can be picked readily and inexpensively now. Why not have a spare box or bottle of each against the day when they might be hard to find? Should a flu pandemic spike demand you will want to stay isolated anyway. Even absent a SHTF event, you will find yourself glad for a well stocked medicine chest when the need arises. As an agent for preventing infection in wounds I prefer hydrogen peroxide. It is incredibly cheap difficult to manufacture at home, and has always proven effective for me as everything from mouth rinse to shallow wound cleanser. I think it is well worth picking up a few spare bottles and storing in a cool dark place. As with all medicines, read and observe the warnings.
7. Hygiene products – especially chlorine bleach to use as a disinfectant and water purifier but also soap, shampoo, feminine products, dental products, tissues, and toilet paper. All are currently cheap, all are needed in our households anyway, and all are worth having on hand when the lights go out, especially in regard to the ability to prevent illness.
8. Oils of every kind – 2 cycle chainsaw oil, engine motor oil, lamp oil, even cooking oil. All are still reasonably priced, have long shelf lives and are not something that we can typically produce on our own. That makes all of them good things to stock up on as far as I’m concerned. With the talk of peak oil and the rapidly increasing cost of distribution (gasoline and diesel fuel) it may be smart to set aside a few cases of whatever oils you use most frequently especially if you plan to use a chainsaw to lay up firewood for a post-TEOTWAWKI winter in snow country.
9. Salt – as previously posted on Survival Blog salt is essential to life, cheap, and presently plentiful. But post a SHTF event you will have a hard time getting it. Don’t think of salt as only for flavoring your food. It is essential to life and valuable as a food preservative in both curing and canning. Iodized salt provides vital iodine as well as salt. It can be used for all the uses that non-iodized salt is used for but you may end up with cloudy pickling solution etc. Non-iodized salt (preferred for canning, pickling, and hide tanning) is currently selling for about 69 cents per pound in my area. When you consider the labor involved in collecting it on your own, that is ridiculously cheap.
10. Honey – the bees are dying. I expect the price of honey to double in the next six months, so I have separated it from the other recommended food purchases but since it is not essential to life I have moved it down to #10. While not essential, honey could make life more pleasant as a shelf stable sweetener should you become dependent on your own food reserves for an extended period of time. You might find some sweetener a welcome relief from the usual flavors. It even has a potential use for sealing wounds against infection in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation. As noted on SurvivalBlog, honey stores indefinitely (crystallization is easily reversed by gentle heating) so why not store it for your own use and as a potential barter item before the price goes up?
If you take advantage of these recommendations and the opportunity to stock up now in general, you will be better prepared to face the potential shortages of the future. You will avoid the risks of being among those fighting to sweep the shelves bare gathering supplies at the 11th hour. And if you take action before the expected price hikes you can gain those advantages at lower cost than those who wait to boot!

Mr. Rawles,
Charles R. mentioned the book "Caveman Chemistry" by Kevin M Dunn. It is available from the Lindsay Publications "Technical Book" catalog. The catalog is filled with how-to books of every kind - many reprints of long out of print books. I can recommend the fine folks at Lindsay Publications as I have several of their books and have several more on my "to order" list. I've been satisfied with every one. Check them out on line at www.lindsaybks.com and order a catalog. Other than being a happy customer I am not affiliated with Lindsay Publications.

While on the subject of books, Joel Skousen has several outstanding books on relocation, survival, building a secure home, etc. They are expensive but well worth the price.

I greatly enjoyed "Patriots" and have loaned out my copy to over a dozen others, many of whom have purchased their own copy. I am in the process of saving up for a copy of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course as well as the "Best of the Blog". Thanks for a great Blog. - T.

"$100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $100,000,000 -- by which time it will be worth nothing." - Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, April 1, 2007

We have finished the judging for Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The first prize winner is: E.C.W., MD, for her article: "Wound Care: An Emergency Room Doctor's Perspective" (posted on February 24th.) She will receive a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate that is worth up to $1,600. Congratulations!

Second prize goes to J.D., for his article "Fish Farming for Survival Protein". J.D. will receive an autographed copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

Honorable Mention prizes go to Mike McD for "Selecting a Retreat Location in Australia", and to CMC for "Blue Water Sailing as a Retreat Option?" They will both receive autographed copies of the latest expanded edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"

Note to the prize winners: Please let me know your snail mail addresses, via e-mail.

Round 10 of the writing contest begins today. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your non-fiction article. Round 10 ends on May 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The recent letter from a SurviuvalBlog reader seeking advice on magazine duplexing systems inspired a torrent of e-mails, both pro and con. (Mostly con, see below.) I'm always willing to present differing opinions, so that readers can make informed decisions on gear for their retreats.

Dear Jim,
Some other things to consider with multiple magazines attached together: The AR-15 was designed with a 20 round magazine, which was increased to 30. The magazine catch can chip, break, wear or jam with too much weight.
If one magazine is inverted ("jungle clipped"), the bottom, then one is going to get the feed lips dinged up or full of dirt, as well as preventing one from taking a good prone position.
Having a spare magazine in hand or readily accessible on the gear is just as fast a change as those overpriced and clunky gadgets.
As to pending magazine bans, my wife noted that since it is legal to repair existing magazines, one could, hypothetically, salvage a spring from one, a follower from a second, a base plate from a third and a body from a fourth and repair "all four" magazines with newly purchased parts...just don't show all four parts together in case someone thinks it's just one disassembled magazine. - Michael Z. Williamson

Almost every soldier in the IDF uses a duplexed mag setup on their carry weapon made from heavy tape and a piece of wood or plastic as a spacer to make [the shape of] a "V". The magazine V is either hung upside-down through the belt or kept in the weapon allowing both a quick reload and fulfilling the [IDF constant carry] requirement of two [loaded] magazines with the soldier without having two bulky things to carry in their pockets and their possible loss.
Israeli training requires use of the semiautomatic mode in all engagements, keeping most shots aimed and reducing ammo waste and collateral injuries. Sixty rounds is usually enough to handle most short incidents requiring either dispatching/pinning-in a terrorist or laying cover to make an escape. - David in Israel


For those times when you feel the "need for speed" the Redi-Mag is a better solution that any of the magazine cinching systems. It attaches easily to your AR-15, is ambidextrous, allows you to insert one or two magazines at your option and doesn't irk the BATF-men by covering up the serial number. The other advantages of not having to bind magazines together are self-evident. - Redmist

Hello James,
In regards to AR-based systems and trying to attach multiple magazines together, a better solution might be the Redi-Mag which holds a second magazine in a system that parallels the magazine
well. I believe they have two systems available, one in which the standard magazine release will drop both the original and the spare at the same time and one in which the second magazine has its own release button. I haven't tried either of these out (and don't know anyone offhand who has) but they do look interesting and got a favorable mention in Boston T. Party’s “Boston’s Gun Bible”.
After taking a tactical carbine class at a local range and observing one gentleman repeatedly drop spare magazines and fail to seat them fully with a duplexing system in place (in addition to dropping his Glock's magazine repeatedly because of an extended magazine release) I definitely agree that any gadgety-style additions should be well thought out, tested and proven before being counted on. Cheers, - Steve H.

In reference to the recent letter about magazine duplexers. These have been around for years, there is always the old standby of taping the mags together each facing the opposite direction. Generally speaking, this is a good way to get yourself into trouble. If they are facing opposite directions you can jam the mag (when you hit the deck) and bend the feed lips, virtually guaranteeing jams on your reload.
The other problem with these, depending on the gun, the added weight can also cause jamming problems (the added weight pulls the magazine down, keeping the ammunition from being stripped off properly). In my opinion, when it comes to duplexing, my advice is don't. If you really require faster reloads, practice a lot, and if you use a MOLLE rig, or similar, figure out where you should mount your mag pouches to make sure you can load faster. There are also many ways you can make it easier to pull your mags (Mag-Pul, parachute cord loops, etc).
As far as magazine recovery. I took a british gas mask bag, and retrofitted it, so there is a Lycra cover on the top with a hole in the middle. Simply stuff your hand with the magazine into the hole, let go and your mag should stay inside. I experimented with hanging your mags on a carabiner or similar arrangement, and this is by far the noisiest option. Generally speaking, either a pouch or a cargo pocket is the best place for empty mags. Thanks again for the great blog! - AVL

Hi Jim,
As a quick historical note, [U.S. Navy] SEALs were duplexing mags as early as at least 1980. This was by the do-it-yourself method of putting a piece of pencil half way up between two magazines, and then firmly taping the butts of the mags together with green rigger's or "hundred mile an hour" tape. It worked, and the two mags were in a slight "V" shape. I would not put this concept into the "mall ninja" category. The first shots fired in either an offensive or defensive ambush scenario are critical to achieving fire superiority and then victory or at least survival. The individual or team that can pour out 60 shots per man with hardly a pause will have a great advantage in suppressing the fire of the enemy.

Additionally, the duplexed mags have a handy feature in that for your grab-and-go carbine, you have double the firepower for a quick walk out the door to check a noise, or do some work, without having to jock up in full web gear. A second set of duplexed mags can be shoved upside-down into your belt, where they will remain conveniently at hand. Without pulling on the web gear, a person can have 120 fast shots right at hand, simply by grabbing his carbine, and shoving a second duplexed mag pair over his belt and going out the door. Why do I keep mentioning carbines? The duplexed mag concept works best with 30 round mags for an AR. The concept doesn't work as well for shorter, fatter 20 round 7.62 NATO magazines, IMO. Just my dos centavos. - Matt Bracken (a former SEAL)


Mr Rawles,
I have limited experience with the "Mag Cinch" system. Because of a unique situation I am in with regard to a threat to my life, (No, I can not move away from the threat) I keep an M4gery as a home defense weapon. The idea of having an extra reload readily available regardless of my state of dress seemed both prudent and comforting. I first tried the Mag Cinch and was sorely disappointed. Under recoil the top round would move forward far enough to require me to either remove it or re-seat it before inserting the magazine into the firearm. This is not a good thing when un-friendlies are in your area! I considered a Ready Mag, but based on experiences with the Mag Cinch (I would occasionally dump both magazines on the ground under stress) decided against it as well.
Recently I found a product called Rail Mag and gave that a try. It works wonderfully for my needs, but I can not recommend it for field use. For grab and go field use I prefer something like Tactical Tailor's Active Shooter Bag, or Diamondback Tactical's BattleLab Escape & Evasion Bag--also available with in a MOLLE version, so you can configure it for .308 magazines instead. - Griff

I came to the survivalist mindset by the strangest of all possible paths - a literary one. I would probably be considered more of a "self-reliantist" than a survivalist, but I see that as a fine point.
I've always been the sort of guy who has wanted to know how to make things from scratch, and I've learned a lot in my planning efforts. I've been slowly compiling an encyclopedia of important skills and knowledge that is now in excess of 1000 pages and includes things from the most primitive tasks to the light-industrial. I thought I might offer a few things I've learned along the way.

1. The Light Survival Kit - My wife is skeptical of my efforts and thinks I'm making a big deal out of nothing. More importantly, she's not willing to sacrifice valuable trunk space for something that may not happen in her lifetime. To counter this, I built a small kit that takes up less room than her purse - in it I put a butane lighter, a magnesium block, fire-starter matches, two collapsible water bottles, 6 bottles of water purification tablets, a knife, a sierra saw, a small first-aid kit, two rain ponchos in a pouch, some plastic bags, an LED flashlight, and a jar of bouillon cubes. Admittedly, it's not perfect, but it is better than nothing. My work colleague liked the idea enough that he put one together for his wife as well.

2. Salt - From the investigation I've done around the web, unfortunately this includes even your own site, this is an important and overlooked staple that should be high on everyone's list. Civilizations have collapsed due to lack of salt. In short, without electricity and reliable refrigeration, salt is the primary means of food preservation. If you live near the coast, you can gather salt from the sea, as well as those living near a salt spring, or dry salt bed, etc. Everyone else will have to stock it up or trade for it. Iodized salt is the preferable solution because it contains the small amount of iodine that the human body needs, the deficiency of which is called goiter, and can lead to birth defects such as mental retardation, thyroid disorders, and loss of IQ. If you live near the ocean, you can get the necessary iodine by adding seafood (including seaweed) to your diet.

3. A very useful book - One of the most informative books I've found in filling the gaps between what I don't know and what I need to know is the book "Caveman Chemistry" by Kevin M Dunn. It's written in a peculiar style, but it's packed with useful information. - Charles R.

Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Jakarta Floods Linked to Illegal Construction. Mike notes: "Something to watch out for in a collapsing or collapsed society is failure of drainage and other infrastructure. Floods are messy and spread diseases.

  o o o

RBS sent this story of a local government running roughshod: Brooksville, Florida proposes to foreclose homes and seize cars over less than $20 in parking tickets.

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Rourke (the moderator of the Yahoo Jericho Discussion Group) pointed us to a web page that shows how to convert a typical drill motor into a hand crank generator. Functional, yes, but methinks a bike frame mount would make it much more practical for daily use.

"When you want to fool the world, tell the truth." - Otto von Bismarck (born April 1, 1815)

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