Letter Re: Relocating to Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho

When I sell my place in Coeur d’ Alene, I will be looking to relocate in the Bonners Ferry area. Is there anything that I should be aware of? Are there any areas to avoid other than property near the railroads?. Thank You and Best Regards, – John

JWR Replies: I highly recommend the Bonner’s Ferry area as a retreat locale. Railroad tracks are indeed a key issue in both Bonner County and Boundary County. (It is confusing to first-time visitors to the area, but Bonner’s Ferry is in Boundary County.) It seems that most of the private land in both counties with river frontage are either right on the highway, or right on the railroad tracks. (Or both!) If I lived there, I would worry about the railroad tracks as both an additional "line of drift" and a derailment hazard. (And I dislike hearing close-by trains.) Some train traffic "funnel" areas, especially Sandpoint, get a huge volume of rail traffic. Three major rail lines pass through Sandpoint. Bonner’s Ferry has similar traffic–up to 40 trains a day.

Another key issue in north Idaho is home siting. Elevation and exposure are crucial to have a viable gardening season. Some properties at 2,500 feet and southern or western exposure only have snow that "sticks" for three month of the year. But if you were to buy a higher elevation property with a northern-facing home site, then you might have snow for 6+ months of the year!

I recommend that you contact Todd Savage, a real estate agent that formerly had an office in Sandpoint, but recently opened a new office in Bonner’s Ferry. (He was with Coldwell Banker, but went independent.) Todd specializes in retreat properties. He is one of the few real estate agents that I’ve met who really "gets it"–both in terms of self-sufficiency and defendable terrain. On a recent consulting trip, I spent some time with Todd and walked a 150+ acre property, near Bonner’s Ferry that is presently on the market. It has exceptional privacy, plenty of timber, some decent pastures, and two different creeks running through it. It has US Forest Service land on three sides and already has an off-grid (PV-powered) squared-log house. The house has a really nice exposure. There is plenty of wild game. One nice thing is that this property sits a half mile back from the highway, and it is nowhere near any railroad tracks. It is just about ideal for a semi-remote retreat. You can contact Todd Savage via e-mail: toddsavage47@gmail.com or via cellular phone: 208-946-1151.

Four Letters Re: Raising Goats for Self-Sufficiency

Perfect timing on this article by Freeholder, as my wife and I were literally talking that day about getting goats! That alone made me think that I need to hang out here for a while. I’ve gone through a lot of the posts on here, and I’m very thankful to have found your place!
I’m in Iraq right now, for the 3rd time, this time I’m working in the Embassy. I retire in five years, and the wife and I can’t wait to move to our rural home! I’m lucky, I’m married to a woman who is very self sufficiency minded as well, and has a special interest in homeopathic and all natural medicines and remedies.
Again, thanks for the work you put into this site, and I look forward to learning more and contributing in my own small way. Take care. Regards, – S.

In “Raising Goats for Self-Sufficiency,” Freeholder discussed feed requirements and mentioned that a pasture filled with brush and blackberries could considerably reduce hay costs. He also mentioned in passing that Kiko goats are a desirable meat breed. What didn’t get mentioned is that Kikos are unexcelled at thriving on a diet of brush and other rough forage. They developed this ability in the mountains of New Zealand, to which they repaired after escaping from the care of the early English settlers there. Fast forward 300 years, and some NZ farmers realized there must be some very hardy, self-reliant breeding stock out there, went out and captured some, bred them back to Swiss dairy goats to improve their milking ability, established a stable breed, and gave them the name Kiko, which means “meat” in Maori. And indeed, Kikos are primarily known as a meat breed, but their Swiss genes also make them decent milkers. All in all, they may be the very best goat for self-sufficient situations – if you’re in a place with lots of brush around. My kikos thrive on their brush diet, augmented only by a single flake of hay in the morning and twice-daily feedings of a quart of dry culled beans, shared among 12 goats. (And there are Kiko breeders who insist that a brush-only diet is the best way to maintain the hardiness of the breed.) Kikos have fewer hoof problems than other breeds and are very good at giving birth unattended. The does are excellent mothers. (Kikos who didn’t possess these traits didn’t pass on their genes in the NZ outback.)

You can learn a lot about Kikos from the International Kiko Goat Assn. Regards, Charley S.


Dear JWR,
I just completed reading "Raising Goats for Self-Sufficiency" by Freeholder and was laughing almost the whole way through! That is when I wasn’t surprised by some of his additional facts. I had been looking at meat goats for my retirement plan over several years prior to actually putting the plan into action and it is really taking a lot longer to get my herd to begin to grow than I would have thought, so his overall advice to not "wait until you need them is" visionary. That’s why I would love to assist in casting a vote for him in your contest.

My husband is a "long-time" survivalist and I have happily agreed with his position. Being prepared for what-ever ill fate we have thus far endured and could envision enduring if the SHTF I have found nothing faulty in his thoughts. Simple things like not having to buy coffee during the price spike of a few years ago has done nothing but strengthen our resolve to not be "the 48 hours away from starvation attitude" the rest of the world seems to embrace.

Originally from Long Island, New York we could see nothing but the neck at the end of a noose entrapment from our geographic location. The only way out was through water, air or millions of people. We figured we better be in a better spot before TSHTF! Seeking a more Libertarian location; friendly to gun owners, low taxes, small government, and not half-way around the world, we found New Hampshire. However, the "Live Free or Die" State is slowly becoming the "Roll Over and Comply" State. More and more migrants from the "Socially Conscious – Liberal" surrounding states are invading. Unfortunately, while they bring their love of lower taxes they can’t seem to comprehend that the lower taxes cannot co-exist with the social agendas that they bring with them to the State. We find we are at a 50/50 breaking point now and the State could go either way – depending on the next wave of migrants.

A subject that my husband has become increasingly interested in, is hearing first-hand experiences from others with Wood-gasification. He knows that this process was used successfully during World War II by the European citizens as a way of powering their equipment when gasoline and diesel weren’t available and believes to this day that it will be the only options for many of us if TEOTWAWKI occurs or should I say "when"? A valuable web site he has found is http://www.gengas.nu/byggbes/index.shtml This report is about the only thing we have found from FEMA that made absolute sense and is well worth the read. Thanks for everything you do, – Wife of NH Jumbo


In response to Freeholder’s essay on goats. Very well written. My wife and I are also long-term goat people (for lack of a better title). We?ve kept goats for 30 years plus. For the past 15 years, we specialized in selling breeding stock, and . . . witnessed several bad outcomes with inexperienced people buying goats. We got to a point we?d refuse to sell to certain people in an effort to avoid future calamity. Finally, last year – we gave up selling to the general public all together. It is not worth the hassle to us – considering the new legal difficulties with animal registration requirements – and bad outcomes with inexperienced buyers. A few goat "tips."
Breed matters. If you want goats – try to figure out exactly what you want them for – and work from there. Not all members of one select breed will demonstrate all the traits it is known for – but it?s a good start. Some breeds tend to be excellent milk producers, some breeds are meat producers, some do better on poor feed than others. Some have better natural instincts including birthing and caring for their young. This is very important – unless you want a bunch of dead goat kids – or – don?t mind hand feeding them yourself.
Goats tend to be very intelligent, creative, and adaptive. That usually makes them very hard to fence. This comes back to breed again. I assume – a goat too dumb to escape maybe not be desirable, so is there an alternative? Yes, there are very smart breeds that have physical hindrances that make them easier to keep. We keep Tennessee Fainting Goats – also known as Myotonic Goats, Wooden Leg Goats, Texas Meat Goats, etc.
In our experience, the Tennessee Fainting goats are the easiest keepers of any breed we?ve had, especially the smaller ones. They have a genetic trait that causes them to get muscle lock-up when startled – scared – excited – etc. Subsequently, they don?t tend to take the chances with escapes like many other goat breeds do. After years of keeping Boers, Alpines, Nubians, Spanish Meat, Pygmies, etc., the Tennessee Goats were a pleasure. They tend to have good instincts with birthing and raising their young. They are good for meat. They are poor for milking though, when compared to most other breeds. They can be kept for milk production, but production will be low.
A few things we?ve tried to warn first-time goat buyers about. All goats are social animals, they do not do well if raised alone. Always have at least a pair, unless you plan on keeping the goat with some other farm animal, e.g. a horse, donkey, etc. And, don?t assume any goat will get along with any other animal (goat, horse, etc.). Like many living things, each can have a distinct and unique personality.
Raising your own – means birthing, kid feeding -by you or the mother, and having a buck or two around. Buck goats can be absolutely miserable!. When they get feeling romantic, they emit a grease from various parts of their bodies that can be smelled a mile away on a damp day. It will get on your clothes and make you want to burn them. The bucks will also be somewhat possessive of "their" females during parts of the year when they are dating. With some goat breeds, this can be twice a year – and with some others – once.
The last kid sale we made – before ceasing sales to the public went as follows. A very nice, suburban sophisticated woman from central Maine contacted me. She wanted to buy six buck goats kids. That surprised us – since usually – buck kids are unwanted and get sold for meat at the local animal auction. After speaking to the woman, I learned that she had no goat experience, but . . . had read several books and had a plan. She lived in a suburban area with five acres of land. She wanted goats for keeping brush down on her land – instead of mowing it. Her plan was – to get five bucks – since they are cheaper to buy then does. In fact, at our farm we?d often give buck kids away for free is we thought someone would raise them – instead of them going to slaughter. This Maine woman figured – that since there?d be no female goats in her area to arouse these males – she?d not suffer any of the negative things that horny buck goats are known for. Well – six months later, she called me from Maine. I?m in New York. She was in a panic. Ends up, these "adaptive" young bucks – worked around the absence of females – by getting "aroused" with each other. She told me they all stunk so bad she couldn?t get near them, and they were "mounting" each other, all day, every day, and it had been going on for a week. Since she was in a suburban area, she had many shocked and complaining neighbors. She offered to pay me – to drive to Maine and take them all back. Call me a bad guy, but I did not do it. She was furious with me and my wife – even though we had warned her previously. She even threatened to sue us – for exactly what – I don?t know. Breach of Goat? Anyway, that was it – we quit selling. At that time, the state of New York was getting ready to pass legislation that was going to make selling goats and lambs across state lines very complicated – so the event with the woman from Maine was all it took to put us over the edge.
Goats are amazing and wonderful animals. I had one that rode with me in my pickup truck, along with my dog. They can do an amazing job a brush conversion and will eat scrub that horses and cattle will not. They can also destroy your garden and/or young fruit trees in record time – if they get loose. Just keep these things in mind.
If someone is interested in keeping animals with a retreat mentality, the breed is an important choice – for any animal. Many newer breeds have had the instincts bred out of them. Kind of like some people I know. Even some stock from older breeds has been severely dumbed down. This means that many chickens no longer know how to nest, sit, hatch eggs, brood and protect their young. Also means that certain types of four-legged stock do not do well on scrubby fields, do not birth well, some have bodies too big for their legs, etc.
it is best to do some research – perhaps starting with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
They do a great job with the preservation of historic breeds of animals in North America – and offer a lot of information – animal historic attributes, how and where to buy, etc. Keep in mind, that even if you select a breed known to have certain traits – the ones you buy might not have them. Best is find a breeder that culls their flock or herd and selects for animals showing the desired traits. – JD from New York

Odds ‘n Sods:

Australian Researcher warns about Mass Human Extinction from Global Environmental Collapse

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Radio ‘Screams’ Forecast Dangerous Solar Storms

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Reader Michael W. mentioned that he will be running one of the lines at the RWVA Appleseed in Bloomington Illinois this weekend. (June 2-3, 2007.) He said that he’d love to meet any SurvivalBlog readers who can attend. This is a great opportunity to learn to shoot an MBR well, or increase your score on the AQT if you are already a rifleman. The cost is just $70 for the weekend, free camping and genuine camaraderie.

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From Drudge: Smile, You’re on Google Earth–New "Street Views" feature. Yet another reason to live in the hinterboonies.

Note from JWR:

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 $2,000!) 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. Round 10 ends tomorrow, May 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Hurricane Preparedness, by MFA

I’d like to share a couple of things I’ve learned through the recent hurricane seasons in Florida, being hit directly by one, indirectly by three or four more (I’ve lost count). The following assumes you’re staying put, not bugging out. Typically my wife will take the kids and bug out, while I stay home for security and damage control if needed. This can also apply to some of the severe storms that other parts of the country experience throughout the year.
1. Water – In Florida, I travel with a case of water in the back of my car. You never know. In the off season, we use up the stored bottled water from the last year, and right about now [--May--], do a replenish. Our typical storage water "in season" is about the size of a pallet, four feet high. Off season we may get down to three or four cases. We also have a “Big Berkey” to filter the water from the lake behind our house if things are down for more than a week or so.
2. Food – Freeze dried long term storage food (Mountain House or equivalent) is absolutely required. The stores will be cleaned out in the two or three days before the storm arrives, and the grocers stop shipping food in at the last minute to cut their losses in case the buildings are knocked down. Immediately after the storm passes you’re a fool to go out on the roads with the trees and downed power lines and by the time they are cleared, the stores open on a cash basis because the power is out, and it’s dry goods only. All frozen and refrigerated food is discarded so they won’t get sued for selling spoiled food. In your house, at the start of the hurricane season it’s prudent to work down your refrigerated foods and fill the space in the freezers with gallon milk jugs full of water. This will keep the remaining food from spoiling if the power is only out for a few days.
3. Cooking – We have several stoves that work when nothing else does. The best one for indoors is a butane stove that I picked up at a gun show for about twenty bucks. Butane cans are available, and they store indefinitely. I’d not use any combustion appliance indoors without ventilation, but after the storm the windows can be opened, and there is plenty of breeze coming in around the corrugated storm shutters, which still provide some measure of security. We also have a couple of Coleman stoves that run on either propane or coleman fuel, but those are strictly outdoor units.
4. Cash – Have a few hundred bucks cash on hand in the beginning of the season, and increase it to a thousand or more if you can once things are in full swing. There is usually a run on the ATMs when the storm is bearing down on the area, and when the power is out, it’s done.
5. Fuel – If there is even a hint of a storm, top off all vehicles and keep them full until the threat has passed. It can take two weeks to get gasoline into the area and replenish the empty stations after the run on gas that happens when the storm is bearing down. Also, keep up on maintenance of your vehicles. It would truly suck to blow a radiator hose in traffic while trying to evacuate. (I’ve seen that happen – I think it was [Hurricane] Wilma, a guy from Miami was evacuating through the Fort Myers area and had [his engine] overheated with his small child in the car. I stopped with my work truck and we filled up his radiator with my drinking water supply, and I left him with a half case of bottled water, which was what I had left. His terror at being at the mercy of both the weather and his unwillingness to prepare was obvious).
6. Shelter – You need to buy the stuff to watertight your house before the storm, not after. Buy enough tarps to completely cover your roof – do the math and figure it out. In the off season the tarps are on clearance, pick up a few spares. They don’t go bad [if kept out of sunlight] – stick them on a shelf in your garage.
7. Storm shutters – either cut and number plywood to cover the glass or install the mounting tracks and have the corrugated metal panels ready to go. Do this on the off season, not the day before, as you want to do the initial exercise once and be done with it We put our shutters up about a day before the storm is supposed to hit – sometimes at the last minute. Our family can do the job in about 40 minutes in the pouring rain.
8. Tools and batteries – Charge everything at the first indication that your area is targeted, then keep them on trickle charge to maintain full capacity. I’ve got a battery powered Sawzall, but with two discharged batteries I might as well use a hand saw. The same goes for battery powered drills – a dead battery renders them useless.
9. Lighting – As for wind up lights, check them pre-season. I bought a wind up light a year ago and while it still lights up, the battery is shot – only lights when I crank it. I only paid ten or twelve bucks for it, but it’s junk. April is the month where the battery powered lights are checked to make sure they work, and a fresh supply of batteries are stocked.
10. Security – If you think you might need force to defend yourself, get your concealed carry license (CCL), get your practice in and buy your rifles, handguns and ammunition well before season. The state has been known to declare a state of emergency and suspend the sales of guns and ammo when a storm is coming. Also, the gun dealers will cut a deal in the off season, but "sticker [price] is sticker [price]" when a storm is coming. Not gouging, just no breaks. Gun shows are your friend, as you can really shop and compare.
This will get you through the storm and the immediate aftermath.

Letter Re: Questions on Maximizing Gasoline Storage Life

Sorry to bug you but I searched your site and couldn’t find the info [I was looking for]. In your experience what’s the best brand of gasoline stabilizer I can use? Are there any tricks to help the gas last longer like buying a higher octane & doubling up on the amount of stabilizer? Is 1 year of storage about the max the fuel will be at it’s best. Thanks, John T. Plumeraye

JWR Replies: I describe the degradation of stored gasoline fairly well in my novel "Patriots". Adding a gas stabilizer does prolong the storage life. The Sta-Bil and Pri-G brands are roughly comparable in effectiveness. (Although I’m sure some fuel storage aficionados will chime in with a more informed opinion than mine about which brand is best.

The main culprits in gasoline storage are: A.) the hygroscopic nature of gasoline (attracting moisture.) B.) The development of tars, gums, and esters, and the gas degrades, C.) and the gradual loss of butane. I have read that buying winter formulated gas–the gas with extra butane to provide better cold weather starting that is sold roughly October to March of each year in the US and Canada–is more important than buying high-octane gasoline. OBTW, for starting engines after the butane dissipates, keep a couple of cans of ether-based starting fluid handy. (This will allow you to start an engine even with gasoline that has had all of its original butane "burned off." )

To maximize storage life of gasoline, be sure to store you gasoline in tightly containers, filled as close to the top as possible. This will minimize water absorption.

Odds ‘n Sods:

A web search yielded this useful video on tactical movement for concealed carry. This gent’s foot work suggestions make sense. They certainly beat just blind "back-pedaling."

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From southwestern Oregon: Pitiful percentages for community-sustained agriculture (CSA) and heavy dependence on petroleum-based fertilizers. This does not bode well for local sustainability in any future disasters.

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Florida tries to wipe out cat-sized African rats

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Some implications of the continuing decline of the US Dollar versus foreign currencies

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"Both Google and Yahoo have been roundly criticized for signing a “Public Pledge on Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry” with the Chinese government, effectively, in the words of Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth, going from “an information gateway to an information gatekeeper.” China’s system of Internet censorship and surveillance, popularly known as the “Great Firewall [of China],” Human Rights Watch concluded in a 2006 report, is the most advanced in the world." – Robin Kirk

Notes from JWR:

The high bid is now at $350 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a selection of 17 survival and preparedness books.

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