August 2007 Archives

Friday, August 31, 2007

Get your entries in for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging. Just send us your article in .txt, .rtf. or .doc format, via e-mail.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I've also been able to pick up a lot of gear and most importantly, books, at yard sales and junk stores that sell books for $1 or 25 cents each. I was able to pick up a home medical advisor from the 1920s for 25 cents in maine, I have also bought numerous books on small scale farming, canning, food storage, and living off the grid from the 1920s for a dollar each. Much of the information would be relevant to a post-TEOTWAWKI, as it was written for farmers or rural residents that didn't have access to electricity and largely lived off the land.
Regards, - Sam


I saw the letter about garage and yard sales and had a related comment. I used to live in the suburbia of North Denver and they had what we called Junk Days. More formally known as bulk item pick-up. A time - twice a year - when the city trash service would pick up virtually anything you put out. Many cities do this. You would not believe the items that people throw away. Garden tools (shovels, rakes, hoes, etc), power tools (lawn mowers, weed whackers, drills, routers, table saws, etc) motorcycles, snow blowers, roto-tillers, etc. So many things that with a little bit of attention can last for a long, long time. I have not paid for a garden tool for years off of what I picked up there and still have many spares. I would recommend this to anyone. It became sort of a treasure hunt for me. I enjoyed cruising the neighborhoods looking for things. Got all sorts of stuff that people said there was no way I could find. A piano, a spinning wheel, a riding lawn mower. People are just insane with what they throw away. Once I stopped to grab an aluminum step ladder from in front of someone's house. The man was working in his garage so I asked if it was okay to take it. He was getting out his new fiberglass step ladder while I was taking his old - perfectly useful - aluminum step ladder. What a fool . . . In any case, I could go on and on, but look for this sort of thing in a suburbia near you. Just make sure it is not illegal (some places have made it illegal to take trash from peoples houses due to identity theft). Regards, - Tim P.


Greetings Jim and Family,
To expand on the garage and yard sales for logistics source here is another source, rental storage facility auctions. One would be amazed how many people rent storage space and then just stop paying rent after moving or leaving town. Usually when renters fail to pay the rent for several months the storage facility can place the rented storage space contents up for auction. Most rental facilities hold auctions quarterly in order to have a block of storage spaces for auction. By coincidence I ran across an auction one day when I went by to pay the rent for the month. I walked around and was amazed at the contents of the storage spaces. All the bidders were going to the unopened storage spaces marked for auction, the space was then opened and the auctioneer's assistants would haul out the contents for bidding. No one got a chance before the auction to view the contents, everyone got a look at the same time. It is amazing the things some people leave behind. I saw some beautiful wood bedroom furniture, nearly new golf clubs, antiques of all descriptions, just about anything you could find in a home or business.

One storage space contained a business's files on employees among other business files. Since a lot of the files had SSN from the employees files the auctioneer did not let the contents of the filing cabinets leave with the bidder. The contents were removed and then shredded for security. When one of the storage spaces was opened I had wished that I could have been a bidder. The contents contained the obligatory furniture and other miscellaneous items. But the last quarter of the contents in the storage space contained radar scattering camouflage netting (complete with spreaders, poles and a repair kit), ammo cans (mostly empty but some with tools), a box of belted 7.62 NATO blanks among other kinds of gear. The look on most people's faces when the camo net and gear was hauled out was one of "What the heck is that?", and one fellow looked like a kid at Christmas. He knew what he was looking at, the others didn't. After bidding he walked away a very happy man.

The storage space contents are usually broken into lots of items for biding. Bedroom furniture among other kinds of furniture were auctioned separately then the small items were separated into lots of similar items like all the kitchen items, books, toys, etc. When a bidder won the bid, they paid for the items before moving on to the next storage space and they had to take away their purchases the day of the auction. Only in the case with some of the furniture or other very bulky or heavy items were the bidders allowed to return with a truck to take the item away within 24 hours.

Check local newspapers for announcements of auctions. The one I stumbled on was held during the week instead of the weekend for some reason. I would think the weekend would be more suitable to get more bidders. Most of the bidders there that day had businesses where they would resale some of the items like furniture for a second hand store. But there were individuals looking for bargains or that rare antique that no one else would recognize. In talking with the auctioneer later I found out that many commercial warehouses do the same thing at least once a year or so. But because the warehouse customers are predominately businesses the auctions are few since it is less likely a business will walk away from stored merchandise. - The Rabid One

Today we are pleased to present: a market analysis for Northwest Montana and Part 1 of our initial analysis of New Zealand.

Northwest Montana Market Analysis
This analysis is presented by the newest Approved Retreat Realtor, Viola K. Moss in Libby, Montana. Congratulations Viola!

The market for properties in beautiful northwestern Montana continues to compete for retreat-minded buyers. As the real estate market goes, the good news is that this is the second most desired location in the nation (after the southwestern Arizona area); the bad news is that many have to sell their current property to relocate here. Here in Lincoln County, I have personally seen prices quadruple since 1999 and double in the last three years.

Last year, appraisals could hardly keep up with the increased market demand sales. As a domino effect this year resulting from the real estate downward spiral in the rest of the nation and because people from other areas have to normally sell to make their purchase here, prices have seemed to have leveled out this summer. Additionally, there is more inventory on the market. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a lot of inventory compared to other markets, but for this area, inventory has increased and is still rapidly increasing.

Increased Inventory

Why the larger inventory? First, it is because Sellers saw the rapid increase in value and have decided to take advantage of the market. Thus, they are putting their properties on the market. Many of these are retirees or near that stage in life when they want to relocate closer to their children and grandchildren. (Many of whom live in western Washington.)

The second reason is because timber companies are selling off large tracts of land (which causes the local logging/timber mill economy to go next to nil) and because investors seeing the money to be made have bought large tracts of land and are subdividing it.

The bad news is that many of these new parcels which are sorely needed come with restrictive covenants. This is where I get the notoriety of being the “chicken realtor” as it seems I always have clients looking for property wherein one can raise chickens and small livestock. I find it increasingly difficult to locate homes for my clients and, more so, vacant land that does not have restrictive covenants these days.

Patriots Needed!
We need people who are survival and back-to-practical purposes minded who will demand these types of properties. Otherwise, we will end up with retirees who just want increased infrastructure, services and taxes to support all this with their Baby Boomer retirements and investments. This is all at the expense of those who are still the working class and who want the freedoms and pleasures of rural to remote living. Believe me, I’m a Baby Boomer too and I know how this can ruin a community. I sat back and watched rural agricultural Central Florida turn into the likes of Los Angeles within a 15 year period. Old timers who have their places paid for can’t afford their property taxes or the crime that comes with this mentality. In fact, in many places in Florida, it is illegal to have a family sized homestead (with livestock) even if you have the acreage and it is zoned Agricultural. I see a huge potential for this trend to occur in Montana, Idaho and Washington. So we need to keep the survival-minded people coming to prevent any demographic shift.

Public vs. Private Land, the Real Crunch
Historically, only 7% to10% if the land here is privately owned. This low level of inventory kept prices escalating. Now that this is the #2 destination in Montana (second only to the more snowy Kalispell area) prices are leveling out. Over 80% of the buyers are from out of state and are baby boomers. Most are looking to retire but there are many in this group who are moving their families to get out of the rat race and get a better quality of life and education for their families. In fact, many of these people are motivated from personal and religious beliefs that things are going to get nasty in this country and they want to be out and away from the mainstream population. I personally know many families that are here today as a direct result of revelations from God.

The average sold to list price for this area is 94%, marking the beginning of a transition from a seller's market to a buyer's market. However, many sellers are not desperate or very motivated and are just biding their time trying to take advantage of the market. If they are able to wait it out they will probably get their asking price.

The average price for homes this past year was $162,000 with 198 closings. The land sale average price was $139,000 for 114 land deals.

Currently, the residential inventory of listings stands at 189 with only 25% of these being parcels 10 acres or more. Vacant land inventory is 285 with 30% being parcels of 10 or more acres. I have noticed that many times, if one is looking for land value, it is better for per acre cost to buy a home with lots of land and simply ignore the home if you don’t like it. Land parcels get more bang for the buck here! Additionally, properties with springs, rivers, creeks, lakes, et cetera get premium top dollar and normally have more covenants unless they are older, bigger parcels.

The land in this region is very desirable for remote location, access to water, and ability to be self-sufficient. One of our best kept secrets in northwestern Montana (along with North Idaho) is that the winter weather is moderate!
Retreat Realtor Viola K. Moss can be e-mailed at She covers the Northwestern portion of Montana including the Yaak River Valley, Troy, Libby, Heron, Noxon, Trout Creek, Thompson Falls and all of Lincoln County. - V.K.M.

New Zealand (Part 1)
New Zealand is made up of two large islands, one large island to the south and a smaller island to the north. The locals refer to them as the North island and the South island, go figure.
The north is home to most of the businesses, manufacturing and industry, as well as the hub for tourism. If you want to be secluded and live off grid then you’ll want to be on the northern part of the South island. The North island has a climate similar to a mix of Hawaii and California, damp and cold is the winter and hot and humid in the summer with allot of sunshine and beautiful days. Places in the northern part of the North island like Auckland do not get any snow, unlike the southern parts of the South island that are closer to Antarctica, where there are four defined seasons and snow in winter. Pick your climate, either way New Zealand seems to have the best of it all.

The South island is where the real New Zealanders live, at least according to an agent I spoke to down there recently. This island has everything from a wine growing area to rocky, mountainous remote areas. According to the Realtor, the North West end of the island houses several private sections that are inhabited by people living off the grid and support themselves by working the land and bartering. The farther south you go the more remote and the weather patterns get more varied. As you know we preparedness minded folks like to have a lot of land, but amazingly enough most people there are happy and can support themselves with 20 acres, not 80 or 100. Real estate prices seem to be holding steady with a few corrections over the past year or so. Farm and dairy ranches started the year off slow but it seems from the reports that it is heading for a strong finish.
This site has an enormous amount of information on the housing market in New Zealand.

This New Zealand real estate site seems to offer the best overall view of the country, with the most offices and agents that could be found.
New Zealand is a huge country as islands go and we are working to find approved Realtors there, please e-mail us if you can recommend someone for the site.
As far as actually buying a retreat in New Zealand you’ll want to consider the exchange rate as well as taxes, the economy and firearms laws, all of which are covered below.

Monetary Exchange Rates
The exchange rate table will help those worldwide understand their own currency’s worth against the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). You may use this calculator to help you see what your dollar will buy.
As of this month for every $1.00 US Dollar you’ll have the buying power of $1.41 in NZD. For example a retreat listed in New Zealand for $675,000 NZD would cost you only $518,000 USD.
For those of you in Britain your Pound is worth almost 2.64 NZD! That same retreat listed at $675,000 NZD would only be only £255,690 in GBP. Hurry! Run, swim, fly, and buy!
For those of you interested in researching the ins and outs of the economy down there, a large amount of technical data regarding the economy can be found here.

Taxes in New Zealand
After researching on the NZ Tax Site it seems that the use of a sliding tax scale works well and a person making 65,000 NZD will pay 16,000 NZD in taxes, or about 25%, rather than the stated 40%. All in all, as with almost every nation out there it is better to be a business owner than a worker, so you’ll have more tax ‘loop holes’ to slide into.

Firearms in New Zealand
It appears from the research completed that owning military semi-automatic weapons is acceptable in NZ. You can preview the NZ Police site and a guide service for some excellent technical information.In addition here is a local gun shop with a list of nice battle rifles to purchase should you decide to move. It looks like they sell AKs, ARs, HKs, M1As and the like (with a valid ‘E’ license), and suppressors!
Although it looks like you would be better off bringing your entire collection to NZ since prices seem to be two to three times the cost in the U.S.A., even after factoring in the exchange rate. The costs of suppressors though, strangely seem to be lower.

In order to store your firearms you must use an approved secured safe or for larger collections a safe room. The room must be complete with re-bar reinforced walls, floor and ceiling as well as bars over any windows. This is more likely to be required with a “E” license which covers the black rifles and all suppressors et cetera. There are some rifles like the Saiga that can be had with the “A” license, the normal easy license to get apparently. You do have to justify your ownership, i.e. collector, investment, match shooter, whatever. But to escape escalating issues in your country of origin it seems to be worth it, even those of us from the USA, this is a good locale to bring your guns n’ gear and escape the coming Nanny (police) state.
Hopefully in the near future we will feature an in-depth market analysis written by an approved agent.

In other news, it looks like we have a new approved 130 acre retreat called Rolling Meadows, in North Carolina. This is the first of many retreats to come from Ron Thompson, currently seeking full approval from the staff here to become's sole approved Realtor in Northwest North Carolina. Ron is a former US Marine and fellow Patriot. You can see his new listing at very soon! If you are looking at North Carolina as a possible retreat locale you may contact him directly: Ron Thompson at

Look for more, next Friday! - T.S.

Chuck G. pointed out this article: USAGOLD's Top 25 Quotes on the Credit Crisis of 'O7

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Our friend Peter in Switzerland sent us the link to some field trials of the Beta CMAG (100 round double snail drum for M16, M4, and M249 SAW) in Iraq. This confirms my earlier observations when testing Betas here at the Rawles Ranch. My biggest complaint about the Beta mag is not jamming problems (which typically are minimal if it is kept clean and properly lubricated.) The biggest drawbacks are its weight and noise. When loaded, the drums have an annoying rattle (as the cartridges shift forward and backward), when walking. And when moving at a jog or a run, they sound like maracas in a Mexican band. Rattling noises like this are a tactical no-no verging on suicidal. Another drawback is price. For $240 (the cost of one Beta with pouch, loader, and dry lubricant), you could buy 24 of the standard 30 round M16 magazines. That would be enough to hold 720 rounds! And when you take into account eventual breakage (which seems inevitable, given the plastic "tower" portion of the Beta magazine), I'd rather have 24 sequential chances to ruin a magazine than a single point of failure. In the final analysis, I can only recommend the Beta magazine for folks a.) with lots of money, and b.) who plan to use one as a "bonus" magazine in a fixed site perimeter security role. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Do not confuse gear or gadgets with a high quotient for drama with real tactical practicality.

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I spotted this over at The Drudge Report: U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people. The article mentioned that about 4.5 million new guns get purchased each year (and presumably about a million per year get worn out to the point that they are scrapped or discarded. Perhaps a few hundred thousand guns get turned in for destruction by do-gooders, senile widows, and idiots. But there is definitely an increase, year on year. I won't be at my "comfort level" until I know that there is a gun for every man, woman and child in the US.

"Wealth is the number of forward days you can live without relying on another human being." - Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The high bid is still at $210 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. As a bonus for this auction, I'm also including autographed copies of three of my books: Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 and my novel: "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". (Together, these books have a retail value of $82.) The auction ends on September 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Here in Iraq the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) threat is very serious. Obviously at home we won't be able to set up the complex entry points seen on a US Forward Operating Base (FOB). However a lesson can be taken from the Iraq Outposts. At the Combat Outpost (COP) where I am stationed (Joint US/Iraqi Army); the entry is well defended. Using HESCO barriers to create the lane, the 'gate' is simply a 2 1/2 truck with armor plate welded on one side. This truck is parked across the entry way. This can be quickly moved and is decent blast protection. The traffic lane has jersey barriers set up to create a series of switch backs, to force the vehicle to slow down. At the end is a small bunker and tower that allows one to place fire on anything that may try to run past the truck when it opens up to let vehicles in. At night concertina wire is stretched across, slowing done vehicles even more.
At home one could store HESCO barriers, concertina wire and sandbags to create something very similar to force any vehicles into a kill zone. HESCO barriers are easy to store when unfilled and a small tractor with front-end loader can fill them quickly. To create a 'gate' one could simply take a heavy duty pickup (any junker that can go forward and reverse will work) and weld steel plate on one side. Using angle iron (to make vehicle-stopping caltrops) and wire you can create the switchbacks to slow vehicles.
HESCO [type]barriers would also be useful for blocking off vehicle access to open areas; as they can be easily wired together. Regards, - Tim McB. in Iraq


Dear Mr. Rawles,
The subject of vehicle barriers, as recently mentioned on your web site, is one that I have given some thought to.
In terms of defensive measures, the [WWII] British Home Guard had some surprisingly effective measures that would work quite well today. Also, since the Home Guard operated on a shoestring budget and had a minimum of materials, their clever approaches are quite relevant to today's preparedness minded individual.
The two vehicle barriers that I thought would still be useful today are these:
The Hedgehog - Extremely simple and low key. The modern version of this is seen at embassies all around the world (and in surprising numbers around lower Manhattan).
Simply, “sockets” are placed in the roadway. These are nothing more than simple holes about 3-4 feet deep lined with pipe of sufficient diameter to admit the entrance of a piece of steel beam/pipe. When not in use, the sockets are covered and the steel beam/pipe is stacked on the side of the road as if it were construction material. When needed, 2 or 3 fellows go out, uncover the sockets and drop in the beam/pipe. Hedgehog being set-up for use.
The other simple but effective measure would be the permanent type roadblock also used by the Home Guard.

A simple concrete column that has openings in it to allow for the installation of steel pipe or sections of rail track.
When not in use, these two different types of barriers present a very low profile. The Hedgehog simply looks like tiny manholes in a road surface and the permanent type roadblock looks like a large gatepost.
As with any barrier, both have to be placed in such a way vehicles can not go around it easily and that vehicles and personnel approaching it may be brought under direct observation/fire. One of these barriers properly placed at one end of a long straight approach could allow multiple vehicles the line up single column while the lead vehicle deals with the obstacle; this turns your approach/driveway/road into a marvelous enfilade.
There are several good books and web sites on the different types of vehicle defenses the British had set up during WWII. While some are not practical at individual level, either because they require too many resources or they present too obvious a message, many are surprisingly low key, low maintenance, durable (they’re still standing) and simple. One of the greatest features of the British Home Guard vehicle barriers as compared to many others is that they allowed for everyday use of the roads, but could be instantly put into action with very little external resources. No electric, no hydraulics, no computers; just 3 or 4 Tommies with strong backs to shoulder the rails and it was done.
As with any defense, layers are best. That reinforced steel gate at the entrance to ones property is fine. That same gate with a second one 25 yards back flanked by "culverts" (anti-vehicle ditches) is even better. Redundancy and layers. - RMV

JWR Replies: The Bollard type hedgehog approach works well, but like any other obstacle,to be effective it must be covered by fire. To stop attackers from pulling up removable bollards, a short length of chain attached to the inset pipe can be secured with a padlock. One inexpensive source of material for Bollards is used railroad track.


All black powder attracts water. Before a hunt or shoot, I empty the powder in my horn into a shallow earthenware bowl, then set it in the oven warmed to about 200F for a few hours. My stock of powder is in the airtight cans I bought it in. black powder is one of the few products that has not been noticeably improved in the last 250 or so years. It also does not ever deteriorate in storage as long as it's kept dry. The Lewis and Clark expedition carried their powder in lead boxes which were soldered shut. They capsized one or two of their canoes in the Salmon River in 1803 or '04 losing several rifles and some of the lead boxes containing US government issue powder. In the 1960s (IIRC) that portion of the river went dry during the fill-up of an upstream dam at which time remains of one of the rifles and several of the powder boxes were recovered. One was opened and the powder in it was found to be as good as new. What a wonderful design for a container! Over 150 years in a wild, roiling river and still good as new! - Fred The Valmet-meister

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter. I would recommend using extreme caution when getting any source of heat anywhere near a box of blackpowder! In the modern context, for safety I'd recommend a waterproof container has some means of pressure relief.

A recent entry on your blog from 'Tanker' gave the link to a video on the Lifehacker web site. The last video he mentioned was made by a poster named KipKay. I have been a fan of KipKay's for several months. He posts regularly on Incidentally, for each video he is paid and he has made approximately $55,000 from his creations. He has several videos that may be of interest to your audience. Below are the links and a brief description of each. Please decide if any of these merit inclusion on your blog. His official web site is

In this video he shows how to turn an ordinary AA Maglite into a laser capable of popping a balloon or lighting a match.

In this video he shows how to make an underwater camera housing for a fraction of what a commercial model would cost. He uses an ammo can, a piece of plexiglas, velcro and marine sealant.

He shows how to make a USB powered cell phone charger.

He shows how to take a cheap flashlight and make a super bright Surefire-type flashlight for ten dollars. He doesn't give any information about battery life but the final cost is less than ten dollars.

KipKay shows how to double gas mileage (at least in his car).

KipKay shows how to get 6 AAA batteries from one nine volt battery (in case of an emergency).

He has various other videos that are very interesting. KipKay also occasionally posts at which is a fascinating web site in its own right. Regards, - Caesar

From Money and Markets, (by way of SHTF Daily), Marty Weiss provides this sage analysis of the real estate market and the liquidity crisis: Final Warning!

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Stephen C. in Iraq mentioned this piece from The Economist: The agonies of agflation: "As oil prices stay high, wheat prices hit an all-time peak of over $7.50 a bushel for December delivery at the end of trading in Chicago on Thursday August 23rd."

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I just heard about a blog dedicated to "Survival, Preparedness, News, and Resources" vis-a-vis the Asian Avian Flu: Bird Flu (H5N1) Daily

"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." - Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), U. S. Supreme Court Justice, West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, 1943

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Rawles,
I am recently new to your SurvivalBlog web site. I have thoroughly enjoyed trying to catch up and read the thousands of posts. While I have always felt the need to be prepared for any eventuality, I have recently began more intensive preparations up on food, ammo, water and learning every thing (like making soap) that I can.
I have grown up around guns and hunting my entire life. Of the four guns that I have, 12 gauge, 16 gauge, .22 [rimfire] rifle and 9 mm pistol, I have only purchased one myself: the 9mm pistol. The other three were given to me as gifts by grand parents (generally ones they had and no longer use). The reason I am emailing you is that, while I do not want to go to jail for doing anything illegal, I am interested if there are ways to purchase firearms, especially kinds like AR-15 etc, without having a paper trail that the government could use to confiscate them in times of crisis? Obviously it would be nice to have ones that were not used in previously committed crimes that I could be blamed for.
For example, if the government were to ban firearms, I would be able to say, "all I have is this 9mm pistol" and therefore be left with my other three guns hidden away. (And of course whatever [more] I may purchase in the near future.) Any suggestions? Respectfully, - LowProfileGuy

JWR Replies: Here in these United States, acquiring firearms without a paper trail depends a lot on your state laws, which vary widely. This might seem odd to our readers in England, who are accustomed to a uniform "Country Code." But here in the States there is an odd patchwork of laws. Some states now require registration of modern (post-1898 manufactured) guns. Most states, thankfully, still do not. In those states you can still make an intrastate "private party" purchase of a used gun. This sort of transaction is strictly between two adult private citizens that both live in the same state, and the transfer is not processed through a Federally licensed dealer. Typically, you can find local private party sellers in through newspaper ads, at gun shows, or through (For the latter, you can use their Advanced Search feature to find only guns offered in your own state, and that are being sold only by non-licensees.) Proviso: Research your state and local laws before making a purchase, since laws vary widely!

The chances of a gun being stolen or previously used in a a crime are very small. But if that worries you, then you can have a friend in law enforcement run a check on it. (You will need to supply the make, model, caliber, and serial number.)

Another great opportunity to buy guns without a paper trail is to buy pre-1899 manufactured Federally exempt antique cartridge guns. These can even be sold across state lines without a paper trail, because they are entirely outside of Federal jurisdiction . They will also presumably be "below the radar" in the event of nationwide (Federal) gun registration. I have written a detailed FAQ on this subject. There are a few pre-1899 dealers that I recommend, including The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers) and Empire Arms.

OBTW, 16 gauge is now an uncommon chambering and shells for it might be scarce WTSHTF. So unless it has sentimental or family history value I recommend that you trade your 16 gauge for another 12 gauge (preferably with a 3 inch or 3-1/2 inch chamber), or perhaps use it in trade toward the purchase of a .308 Winchester rifle.

Dear Mr. Rawles
I have read your novel ["Patriots"] (several times) although I do need to get the [latest] expanded edition. And I finally talked my wife into reading it. I loved it--by far my favorite book of all time.
Okay onto my two cents. I just thought it might be a good idea to mention to everyone the value of going to your local garage sales. I work third shift and have been able to find quite a few good deals over the past years. This year I really focused on survival needs and I think I did okay. I got a Camelbak pack and bladder (never used) for $2, a wheel barrel for $3, and a pry bar that is used by fire departments to open up cars for $7. (These retail for $265). I've also purchased ammo, candles, lamp oil, and several other things that will really help me out when the time comes. All at deep discounts.
Just thought everyone should have their eyes open next time they drive by some junk in someone's driveway. you never know what you will find. Thanks a lot. Keep Up The Good Work, - Bill C

I've got a plain, white, lidded bucket of coins (that's the way the dealer packed them for me) on the floor of my guest bedroom closet. Above it is an old daypack with vital papers and bugout money. The closet, like most folks', is full of shoes, coats, caps. I'm counting on [Edgar Allan Poe's] The Purloined Letter idea.
My thinking is that the Bad Guys will go first for the master bedroom--and that's where I'm well prepared to meet them.
On the other hand, if I have to bug out quickly, I will have these things ready to pick up and move out. - Bob B.

JWR Replies: Here is another example of "in plain sight" hiding places; I have a friend that for many year has used a 100 ounce silver bar as a doorstop, with its markings turned down toward the carpeted floor. He just painted it dark gray to make it look like a lead ingot. Of course, with the current high price of lead, perhaps not even its disguised form would no longerkeep it safe from theft.

Hi Jim,
My wife and I will be moving to Montana in the near future. While researching a location for our future home, we found the following links to be especially helpful for state tax and cost-of-living comparisons.

Overall Tax Burden by State

State Income Tax Rates

State Sales Tax Rates

Cost of Living Comparison

Sincerely, - Jeff H.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending those very useful links. I just added them to my Retreat Areas web page.

DAV mentioned this story that might portend a market change: Russian government takes over gold mining sector

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Some analysis from Steve Schifferes of BBC News: Financial crises: Lessons from history. I disagree that government intervention is the best solution. Inevitably "market intervention" ends up being a wealth transfer from one group of citizens to another, to the detriment of the former, and to the benefit of the latter. In the context of the current liquidity crisis, "intervention" will probably be in the form of loan guarantees which will put taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars. In the long run, all debt, good or bad, must be "unwound." This unwinding can be painful, but it generally best to let the free market take its course and return to equilibrium.

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Sometimes a toy is not a toy: Laser perimeter security sets. It looks like two or three sets would be required for serious use. Just be advised that these will show up like searchlights when seen through night vision gear. (A hat tip to Hawaiian K.for spotting these.)

"The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved." - Confucius

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

As promised, I have again put "six packs" of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" on sale. The price of a box of six is now just $90, postage paid. (You'll get six autographed copies for $90, delivered, via Priority Mail Flat Rate box, mailed to anywhere in the Unites States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents.

Before building a house with a walk-in vault, for years I stored firearms and ammo in an old soft drink vending machine. Bought the non-working machine for next to nothing, removed the guts, and had a cheap gun safe (if necessary, a locksmith could re-key an old machine for a few bucks). It held a lot, had an excellent locking system, would be hard to break into, but best of all was invisible. Placed in my garage and later a barn, with a few tools and old boxes stacked on top, no one ever gave it a second look. - Bois d'Arc


Just a couple more ideas on hiding in plain site:
Junk silver coins can fit in [tubular] clothing rods in your closets.
If you take the felt bottoms off of most ceramic lamps there is a hollow are to stash stuff in though you will have to secure it so it does not rattle.
Depending on the layout of your house look at heating duct work, is there a place where you could install a false duct going to nowhere and fill it.
under a kitchen sink drill a 1-1/2" diameter hole opposite of each other in the back and you can slide a piece of PVC drain pipe in the holes one side first then the other.
also if you have a compound miter saw a semi permanent hiding place is installing crown moulding and using the dead space behind the moulding as a storage area. If you use nails as well as liquid nails glue to install it can support a large amount of weight. this idea also lends itself to coffered ceilings where you can build in a very large hidden space.
if you have a bed with large posts and decorative screw on tops you can use a wood boring bit to make a large hollow space and then screw the tops back on.well I hope these help you guys - Brian

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. One other "in plain site" cache suggestion that I've seen mentioned is a piece of black 4" diameter ABS plastic pipe with threaded end cap protruding from the ground. To the casual observer, it will appear to be just a sewer or septic tank clean-out access port.

I found this very cool German-made alcohol stove called the Turm Touring.

I've never seen anything like it before. Took it home put some alcohol in the brass tank and lit the burner. It really works well. I got a nice blue flame; lots of heat from this little single burner stove.
Very interesting design; no pressure! You don't have to pump up a tank with air like the Coleman stoves. Then reading some more I found this web site: Very interesting and
seems like something a survival type person would be interested in. - Fred The Valmet-meister

Mr. Rawles:
There are so many great and not-so-great ideas on the LifeHacker site including this one I found showing you how to use C cell batteries in place of a D cell compartment in an emergency situation:

There are some other interesting things on this site like creating make-shift air conditioning systems using cold well water (others have made emergency air conditioners using beverage coolers, fans and copper coils): DIY Heat Exchanger and Make Your Own Air Conditioner.
There is this one showing you how someone made hand washing more efficient while filling the tank of his toilet. [JWR Adds: I would recommend skipping this one. The implementation shown uses plywood which cannot be kept sanitary. It also might result in a smelly toilet tank if you use an non-chlorinated water source such as well water or spring water.]

And here's one with a video demonstrating how one can cheaply acquire 8 - 1.5v button cell batteries from 1 - A23 12v battery:

Well, there's enough on this LifeHacker site to keep you busy for some time. Enjoy!, - Tanker


Saw the post regarding imported honey. Heard the same thing from my small time honey supplier. For west coast Costco’s, Silverbow honey is pure and made from US and Canadian honey. Verified this with the folks at Silverbow, based in Moses Lake, Washington state. For the record, I do my best to support local businesses and suppliers in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest, followed (naturally!) by SurvivalBlog [paid advertisers and affiliate] advertisers. Regards, - MP near Seattle

"Dancing Barefoot" sent us this: H5N1 Asian Avian Flu Now in Germany: "Tests have found that birds at a poultry farm in southern Germany died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, and some 160,000 birds were being slaughtered as a precaution, authorities said."

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I heard from Vic at Safecastle that Mountain House freeze dried storage food prices are going up substantially on September 1st. OBTW, they still have some 7 Day Just in Case Kits of Mountain House foods (in handy pouches) on sale for just $100 postage paid. Get your Mountain House orders in to Safecastle, ASAP!

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The big put option play: Mystery trader bets market will crash by a third. Obviously this is either someone with killer insider knowledge or with no sense whatsoever.

"I would argue that Countrywide is insolvent. Their only asset is their pricing platform, their business algorithm, and that's not working. The next biggest asset they have is the toner for their copiers." - Joe Mason

Monday, August 27, 2007

When reviewing our blog statistics, I just noticed that more than 33% of SurvivalBlog readers now use the Firefox browser. It is a much more secure browser than Microsoft Explorer. I highly recommend that all of our readers make the switch. And speaking of security and privacy, I also recommend using's scraper as an anonymous interface to Google searches.

In recent months I've been asked by several consulting clients if it is still a good time to buy a retreat property. The answer is yes. If you find a really phenomenal property, the answer is always yes. (Yes if you can buy it without going deep into to debt. ) In fact, some close family members bought the place of their dreams after consulting with me this last year.

Say that you find a property that is in the region that you've selected, and it has all of the features that you've been looking for--such as gravity fed spring water, defendable terrain, good soil, open space for gardening and livestock--then you probably shouldn't let it get away from you.

It is notable that SurvivalBlog recently launched a spin-off web features only survival retreat properties. Some might think that this is not a wise time to start such a venture. But consider that most of the advertised retreat locales are in areas where the price of real estate is likely to drop no more than 10%, even in the event of a prolonged bear market in real estate. In those areas, the downside risk is minimal. Further, the Baby Boomers will start hitting retirement age in 2011. many of them are planning on relocating to rural areas at that time. Some will be planning on using their equity in their city or suburban home to buy a home outright in a low-cost-of living rural area. Some will be retiring to a locale with great hunting or great fishing, to fulfill a lifelong dream. Others have a dream of owning rural acreage so they can have all the critters they've dreamed of, and that big garden. I believe as we approach 2011, property in rural areas will actually increase in value, especially if they have water frontage, are in an area renowned for great hunting or great fishing, or in some other way meet the qualifications of being someone's retirement "dream" property. Our close family members took our advice and bought a waterfront property in a prime hunting and fishing location in the inland northwest. If the Schumer hits the fan then they are ahead of the game because they are actively preparing and upgrading their retreat. If it doesn't, then they have still made a great investment for the future by buying their retirement property way ahead of the Baby Boomers.

Meanwhile, in the Coastal Suburbs...

In contrast to rural retreat properties, coastal suburban real estate is clearly in a declining market cycle, where time is on your side. There will be exceptions to the down trend, like the Silicon Valley, where industry is still humming along (at least for now) and where new immigrants are keeping demand high. But within a couple of years, most of the over-bought coastal real estate in the US will resemble Cape Coral Florida, where the listed prices have already dropped 22%, or Phoenix, where the inventory of unsold houses jumped 523% in one year. It is in the formerly "hot market" coastal regions that prices could decline by as much as 40% before the market starts to recover. These areas include San Diego, Orange County, Sacramento, Seattle, much of Florida, the Atlanta metroplex, the entire Washington DC region, eastern New York, and the entire "commuter corridor" portions of New England.

Economist John Mauldin recently reported that the largest number of residential home adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) resets--some $110 billion worth--will occur between October of 2007 and March of 2008, with the peak in March. Come next spring and summer, look for the U.S. home mortgage foreclosure rate to skyrocket. California is already leading the pack on foreclosures, registering their highest foreclosure rate in 11 years. The ARM resets (or "ARM twisting", as I call it) will only make matters worse. Banks will be repossessing hundreds of thousands of houses and they will doubtless dump most of them on the market. And remember that these are regional markets that already has far too much unsold inventory. (In Sacramento, California, there are so many vacant houses with unkempt swimming pools that public health officials are fearing outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses.) I think that we can look for the bottom to fall out of the US coastal real estate market, most likely next summer. And by the summer of 2009, I predict that we will witness some "fire sale" prices, particularly in the inflated price regions where ARMs predominated. Again, for anyone looking to purchase property in coastal regions, time is on your side. Just watch the market patiently. In particular, watch for foreclosures. (Subscribing to a service like or is a good way to avoid missing foreclosures as they become available in your chosen retreat area.) Keep your land-buying bankroll in easily-accessible short term paper--preferably something like TIPS. Be patient. It may take as long as eight years for the coastal real estate market to bottom. But when the price is right, pounce.

Today's market is already a "buyer's market." Soon, it will be a genuine bargain shopper's market. With this in mind, don' hesitate to make a "low-ball" offer. Make your offer low enough to offset the downside market risk. That way you will be able to sleep at night. As the market deteriorates, offers will be few an far between, so even low offers will be given consideration. And if yours is the only offer, then you might be pleasantly surprised. Assuming there is a property that you really want but the asking price is too high, one tactic is to make a standing offer at a lowball price. Such offers are best made in October or November. Tell the seller that your offer will stand for six months. Odds are that the offer will initially be rejected. But then, if the seller gets nervous about the market and has a mood swing into desperation, the chances are good that the seller will eventually accept your offer. OBTW, your real estate agent will probably discourage you from this sort of tactic. But remember that he makes his living on commissions from home sale closings, so anything that delays a closing is discouraged. They just love that phrase "time is of the essence". But in today's market, at least on the coasts, time is on your side.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a recently retired auto worker, electrician by trade, currently live on 5 acres 25 miles north of Detroit. We have plenty of woods and a nice garden area. When we built the house back in 1987 it was out in the boonies, in the past 20 years developers have bought most of the surrounding property and subdivided it. With the exception of the two 5 acre parcels to the north of us we are completely surrounded by houses. Most of the neighbors are nice people who we get along well with. We do get some trespassers from time to time on the property, these are usually suburban people who feel that our woods is a nature sanctuary for them. When we had the major power outage 4 years ago everyone helped each other out, sharing resources. I still do not feel comfortable being so close to Detroit. Having grown up in Detroit I can vividly remember the riots that occurred in the city when I was a small child.
Our family has spent many summer vacations in the Upper Peninsula (UP) and always enjoyed the people and forests of the UP. Recently we have been considering purchasing a parcel of land in the UP and building a retreat there. We are considering the eastern or central portions of the UP. There is plenty of good water, trees, and deer and small game are in abundance. The limiting factors as we see it are the cold winters, distance, and having to cross the Mackinac Bridge. Of course hard winters seem to keep the population down, and in a worst case scenario the Bridge could be secured to limit the number of people.
We have also considered the Thumb area of Michigan. We would be interested in your opinion.- Mark G.

JWR Replies: I've brushed on the "U.P." as a retreat locale a few times in SurvivalBlog, most recently on March 28, 2007, when I wrote:

If you can stand the severe climate, then yes, the U.P. is about as good as it gets for retreat locales east of the Dakotas. For a move to the U.P., plan to budget to build a big greenhouse (with a steep-pitched roof), and big woodshed. You are going to need both! Oh yes. Don't forget to lay in a large supply of mosquito repellent.

Here are a few notes to expand on those comments: Since I've never lived there, I can't add much more than that. It is probably clear to most SurvivalBlog readers that I prefer low population density rural areas west of the Great Divide. This is for three key reasons: 1.) A more livable climate with a decent growing season, 2.) Less risk of nuclear fallout, and 3.) Much lower population density. In essence, fewer people = fewer problems. I fear that much of the eastern US has so much population that in the event of a societal collapse the wild game will be decimated, and there will be so many hungry people wandering about that looting of the worst sort will quickly ensue. Read my novel "Patriots"and my non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation for details. But it bears mentioning that the U.P. is a special case: It is an area with a low population density. It is geographically isolated from the rest of the United States. And it has such severe winters that the climate will do far more for looter control than any ballistic measures.

One other factor is not very widely known: The utility power in the U.P. is provided by Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO), which is one of the most independent utilities in the nation. While normally tied to the grid, it has enough generation capacity that it could conceivably go independent in the event of a short term grid-down situation. But I have my doubts as to whether the natural gas and coal that it uses would last very long. There are some hydroelectric dams and a few natural gas wells in the U.P., but most of their natural gas is piped long distances with the aid of compressor stations. These compressors are nearly all powered by grid power. Quelle dommage! I don't think that the U.P. could be energy independent in a long term collapse

If you must stay in the Midwest for work or family reasons, then the U.P. is about as good as it gets. As for "the Thumb" of Michigan, it also has its merits. However, it is inferior to the U.P. in that there is no "back door" exit. But I would only feel truly "cornered" there if it were a worst case Golden Horde scenario. That might induce some severe anxiety!

Very, very well done post, "Possible Outcomes for the Panic of 2007". I would say you nailed it as good as can be done. However you will not be invited to be a guest on CNBC. - DAV


Don't ignore the compounding effects of a) an energy shock from peak oil, a major gulf hurricane, or geopolitical conflicts, b) natural disasters, particularly major 8.0+ earthquakes on the West Coast or the New Madrid fault, or c) wars and terror attacks driven by causes other than angry debt collectors (e.g. Al Qaeda, false flag attacks). All of these could shift us from the current outcome in your framework to a more painful one. Likewise, do not underestimate the risk of U.S. dollar hyperinflation - it is substantially more than 2%. Spending more money and printing money (or creating its electronic equivalent) is too much of a temptation for 99+% of politicians (Republican and Democrat) who are too cowardly to take desperately needed but painful steps and instead make everything worse with more spending, more regulation (particularly high risk of currency controls and offshore investment accounts), and more government interference in both the economy and our lives.

The most important message is to be prepared. Now is the time to get any long-lead time preparations ordered or built and to get any items that may no longer be available in the near future (particularly imported items). To the extent that you can make your family either partially or fully independent of the grid through a) installing solar electric, wind turbine, and/or small hydro alternative power systems, preferably with battery backups, b) installing combined heat and power or solar hot water systems, c) drilling water wells (even in suburbia where you have city water, d) building greenhouses and other infrastructure to grow your own food (plant and animal), and e) installing diesel backup generators with large fuel tanks, do it now because all of these are good personal investments for hard times. Although the financial markets have only dropped about 8% to 10%, at some point in the near future, one may have to think about non-conventional investment strategies to liquidate IRAs and other financial portfolios and move assets into either real goods (e.g. prepay future expenses), precious metals, or offshore in non-dollar denominated accounts with non-U.S. financial institutions with little or no exposure to derivatives. - Dr. Richard

I'm writing to you from Caldwell, Ohio where I just completed the Medical Corps "Medical Response in Hostile Environments" field medicine class. Since Medical Corps, the group who offered the course, is one of your advertisers I thought you might like some unbiased feedback on the quality of their training.
This was an outstanding class given by a group of dedicated professionals. The information, and in particular the hands-on practice, was excellent. Our instructors included a BSN, CRNA, DDS, EMT and a former Corpsman/Medical Researcher. Their knowledge; willingness to share; humility; and hard work were impressive. You can really tell that these folks are doing what they do not for love of money, but a sincere desire to help others by sharing and teaching.
As you know Jim, I have no financial or other relationship with this group -- just wanted to give you some feedback. Hope you and The Memsahib are well. Best Regards, - K.C.

JWR Adds: K.C. is a good friend of mine who is an EMT in the Western US. I highly recommend the Medical Corps training. The class that K.C. mentioned was their last course for 2007. In coming months I will be posting announcements about their training calendar for 2008. Don't miss the opportunity to get some great training at a reasonable price.

From France24 (by way of SHTF Daily): Analysts mull contagion from US property market woes. We also read in ChannelNewsAsia: The German state of Saxony has decided to sell the Landesbank Sachsen (SachsenLB), which has been hard hit by the US sub-prime crisis

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DAV mentioned Michael J. Panzner's Financial Armageddon blog. I was pleased to see that Michael is really digging ito the current liquidity crisis and astutely focusing on derivatives. (That will surely be "the other shoe to drop." ) I was also delighted to see that he has a link to SurvivalBlog in his blog roll.

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Reader Jeff S. mentioned the web site. Jeff's comment: "Having a QRP transmitter and receiver stashed away, in cans, for under $50 can't be a bad thing, eh? Admittedly, you're looking at "some assembly required", but I suspect they're EMP proof as all get out." My comment: Yes, they'd be relatively EMP proof if they have no antenna attached. But once one is, then the microcircuits would surely be vulnerable.

"If the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution inhibit the government's ability to govern the people, we should look to limit those guarantees." - Bill Clinton , 42nd US President, August 12, 1993

Sunday, August 26, 2007

At least two or three times a year, I have consulting clients ask me about anti-personnel and anti-vehicular obstacles.

In heavily-wooded country, dropping some trees to form an abatis (as shown in this illustration from US Army Field Manual FM 90-7) is a viable expedient. But keep in mind that obstacles often work both ways. they will keep the bad guys out, but also keep you in. That is why my favorite roadblock is a Caterpillar ("Cat") or similar tracked tractor, parked perpendicular at a narrow spot on a road, with its blade dropped and ignition system disabled. That will stop just about any vehicle short of another Cat. The biggest advantage of this method is that a Cat can be moved quickly, to allow the passage of "friendlies."

If you don't own a Cat, then parking cars or trucks perpendicular at a narrow spot works fairly well. Remember: In most foreseeable circumstances, emplacing multiple obstacles of marginal utility is as good as emplacing just one massive obstacle. One fairly inexpensive technique is to emplace multiple 5/8" diameter steel cables at 20 to 50 foot intervals strung 18inches above the ground, secured with heavy duty padlocks. To gain entry, even someone equipped with large bolt cutters would have to repeatedly reduce each obstacle. And during that time, they could be warned off or directly engaged with rifle fire.

As I've mentioned several times before in SurvivalBlog, an obstacle is only useful in defense if it is under observation from defenders, and can be fired upon by them. Otherwise, the obstacle can be quickly reduced or bypassed by attackers and rendered useless.

I've already discussed anti-personnel obstacles at some length in SurvivalBlog, including tanglefoot wire, razor wire, and concertina wire. I recommend that you store defensive wire, but that you delay emplacing it until the situation warrants it. In essence, you should wait for the time when your neighbors will no longer say, "Gee, what a nut case!", and instead say: "Gee, I wish that I had thought of that!"

Jim and readers,

Many of you that have read the Bible remember Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Ezekiel 4:9 says "Take thou unto thee wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and fitches (spelt), and put them into one vessel and make thee bread thereof."

This diet sustained Ezekiel in the desert for 390 days. A modern day interpretation of the Ezekiel recipe calls for the following: 20 parts wheat, 12 parts Spelt, 4 parts Hulled Barley, 2 parts Hulled Millet, 2 parts lentils, 2 parts Pinto Beans, 1 part Great Northern Beans, 1 part Kidney Beans.

Modern Food scientists have found that Ezekiel Bread is surprisingly complete in nutrients, containing all 8 essential Amino Acids. It only lacks the vitamin provided by sunlight that converts cholesterol in the skin into Vitamin D, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Ezekiel Mix can be ground into flour to make Ezekiel Bread, used to make Soup, Stews or Porridge. Ezekiel Flour can also be added to other bread flour recipes to enhance nutrition.

You can make your own Ezekiel Mix, or do as we do. We purchase the mix from Walton Feed. They sell Ezekiel Mix in 25 pound bags, #10 cans with oxygen absorbers and Super Pails. (6 gallon air tight plastic food grade pail, containing the mix in a sealed mylar bag with oxygen absorbers.)

To grind the mix into flour you must use a grain mill. Because of the beans in the mix, you cannot use a stone mill because it will plug up the stones.

Ezekiel Bread Recipe (makes three loaves)

5-1/4 cups of Ezekiel Flour


Grind in a Grain Mill:

2-1/2 cups of Wheat
1-1/2 cups of Spelt
1/2 cup of Barley
1/4 cup Millet
1/4 cup Lentils
2 Tablespoons Great Northern Beans
2 Tablespoons Kidney Beans
2 Tablespoons Pinto Beans

Measure into large bowl:

4 cups of warm water, (note if you have chlorine in your water it may kill the yeast and bread may not rise)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup of oil
2 Tablespoons of yeast

Mix and set aside for 5 minutes until frothy

Add 2 teaspoons of salt and all the flour

Mix with spoon until stretchy and elastic, about 7 minutes

Since this is a batter-type bread, you must use bread pans. Pour into 3 greased bread pans in even amounts.

Set oven to the lowest temperature and let rise 15-20 minutes. Level should be within 1/2 inch of the top of the bread pan. Do not let it rise any more or you will have a major gooey mess in your oven. Do not open oven or bread will fall from the cool air.

Turn oven heat up to 350 degrees and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!

When making stew, simmer for 8 to 10 hours on low heat or use a pressure cooker for 3 to 4 hours. You can also soak the mix overnight.

You may wish to consider storing extra Ezekiel Mix to hand out as charity as it is inexpensive and easily stored. - PED

I often get questions from folks looking for survival retreat property about the state tax rates (income tax, property (real estate) tax, sales tax, and so forth.) Here is a useful Internet reference at State and local tax rates should be thoroughly researched before you choose a retreat locale.

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American home foreclosures leap 93% in a year

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The Credit Crunch contagion spreads yet further. We read this from England: Over 8.5 Million will be denied credit as level of debt soars. Can you spell recession?

“Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you whenever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Our readership is on track to double by the end of this year. (More than twice the number of visits in December of 2006!) My special thanks to the readers that have shared their knowledge in their letters and articles.

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog to your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and church brethren. Adding a SurvivalBlog graphic link to your web page and/or e-mail footer really helps. Many, many Thanks!

Another cache option:
In a basement, with exposed floor joists, several options are available:
1) around the rim joist above the concrete foundation, the rim joist usually is on the outboard edge of the concrete foundation, with floor joists sitting on top of the concrete foundation. This in old houses might leave an 18" gap between the rim joist and the inner face of the basement wall (stone foundations). In newer homes, it might be a foot or so. Free space, easy to conceal with a false front, or a thin insulation board.
2) between the floor joists, especially where a drop ceiling has been installed, pull off a few panels of the drop ceiling, install [all or part of a sheet of oriented strand board] (OSB), screwed to the bottom of the floor joists (assuming that you have an inch or two between the bottom of the joists and the top of the drop ceiling), and you have a hidden shelf.

Substantial amounts of stuff can be hidden this way. And I mean, substantial. Best Regards, - Tom S.


Another way to cache 'long storage items', i.e. those that are put away for long term for whatever, is as follows:

Modern construction methods employ the use of 'screws' as opposed to 'nails' and solid support columns have been replaced, especially when those columns are more decorative than structural, in many applications (barns, porches, etc.) with screwing together 1"x6"s or 2"x6" planks of various lengths---thus creating a hollow void.

This 'void' can be easily weatherproofed and filled with 'whatever'. Painting the column only adds to the distraction! To the casual observer or the thief, this 'cache' [in plain sight] would appear to be yet another structural/decorative construction method and ultimately overlooked.

Just another idea on an ageless quest to preserve that which should be. - Matt, Somewhere south of Kentucky and north of Alabama

Let me start with a thank you for such an awesome resource! I've finally sent my 10 Cent Challenge [voluntary subscription payment.] I didn't feel right e-mailing you with this until I got it out. Since finding your site (from the link at] Captain Dave's Survival Center), I've been devouring the info here, as well as "Patriots" (read twice, and I'm starting it for the third time) and the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. I've also just finished reading "The Alpha Strategy"--that you recommended in both the blog and in the preparedness course. Tremendously eye opening stuff. You've radically changed my view on things like firearms ownership, preparedness, and charity. I can't express with words how much my world view has changed since finding this. Again, thank you.

Anyway, down to business: I'm a computer guy by trade, and while perusing I found two books titled:"Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things" (ISBN: 0740738593) and "Sneakier Uses for Everyday Things" (ISBN: 0740754963). While most of the info contained within is of marginal use, I found "making plastic (and glue) from milk (using vinegar)", and "making a metal detector from a calculator (using a radio)". There are other things like adjusting a FM radio to get airline [aviation band] frequencies, and powering a LED with coins, cotton, and salt water. They are fun for the tinkering types, but also give glimpses into how some other things work. There are also sections on emergency survival. Not much new [in those sections], but good info nonetheless.

Thanks for coordinating all this, and keep up the good work! - Nick in Wisconsin


Any honey you are purchasing at Costco, Sam's Club, et cetera is undoubtedly imported from China or South America. We all know about the recalls for Chinese food products that are tainted. South America isn't any better as they still allow toxic chemicals to be used in their agriculture that have been long banned in the US. I sure wouldn't want to be storing this honey. Find a local beekeeper and buy your honey [there]. We are small beekeepers in that we have only 10 colonies but probably get more production as we actually take care of our colonies unlike many "bee havers". [There is] no commercial farming anywhere nearby. Honey prices are going to escalate. Package bees/queens/supplies are higher and higher each year, fewer people interested in beekeeping and many of the big producers have had problems with colony collapse disorder [CCD]. In our humble opinion, [CCD is] the result of too much manipulation of the bees from their natural state. Just like any business we can't keep absorbing the cost of supplies. If the label doesn't say "Pure Honey" you could be buying honey mixed with corn syrup. Yuck. Real honey will keep forever.Any health store could probably point you towards a local beekeeper. But don't expect to buy the real thing at Costco prices. - D. Smith

JWR Replies: I have read that the honey sold at some Costco stores is pure, and domestically produced. For example, Costco sells some from Dutch Gold Honey, which is produced in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The Department of Homeland Security has decreed that propane gas is a "chemical of interest" and will soon require anyone with 7,500 pounds or more of the fuel to register with the agency.

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The latest boom: Foreclosures. (OBTW, one of the companies quoted in the article one of our Affiliate Advertisers.)

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DAV recommended this market analysis and commentary from Jim Willie posted over at Desperate Measures for USFED

"A very few--very few--isolated locations around the world, where it was possible to impose a rigid quarantine and where authorities did so ruthlessly, escaped the disease entirely. American Samoa was one such place. There not single person died of influenza.

Across a few miles of ocean lay western Samoa, seized from Germany by New Zealand at the start of the war. On September 30, 1918, its population was 38,302, before the steamer Talune brought the disease to the island. A few months later, the population was 29,802. Twenty-two percent of of the population died." - John M. Barry, The Great Influenza

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today, I'm introducing a new SurvivalBlog feature column: "Weekly Survival Real Estate Market Update. This will include general market news, details on recommended retreat locales, and much more. I plan to post it each Friday. It will either be written by Todd Savage ("TS"), or by me ("JWR".)

SurvivalBlog reader Thad L. recently asked me: "How would you describe your novel? I don't like most books but I like Tom Clancy novels. Is it that sort of novel?"
My novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" is a fast-paced novel, and it does have some "techno-thriller" elements. I did my best to weave a lot of practical and tactical information into the storyline. To illustrate, the following is an excerpt from one of the later chapters in the novel (Chapter 23: Vicissitude) that shows the writing style:

Geographically distinct units were formed from the Northwest Militia, as planned, late in the April of the fifth year. To avoid confusion amongst the local citizenry that they protected, they designated those at the original retreat as “Todd Gray’s Company” and those at Kevin Lendel’s house as “Michael Nelson’s Company.” The responsibility for patrolling was divided along a line east-west between the retreats.
Todd Gray’s Company was to patrol the northern half of the sector, while Michael Nelson’s Company patrolled the southern half. Separate CB channels were assigned to each Company for locals to use to contact either Company.

On the 5th of May, Mary was in the garden plot transplanting some young tomato plants that had been started in the greenhouse a few weeks earlier. As she was methodically digging holes for each of the plants, she heard a strange engine noise in the distance. Just moments after she first heard the noise, she was astonished to look up and see two light aircraft approaching from the south. She dropped her trowel, snatched up her AR-15, and ran to the house. By the time she was in the house, the Mallory Sonalerts were wailing, and everyone at the house was at their “stand-to” positions, scanning their assigned sectors of fire.
“Does anybody have any idea where those planes came from?” Mary asked. Sitting at the C.Q. desk, Jeff shrugged his shoulders, and reached over to turn off the “panic button”, silencing the piercing alarm.

The engine noise was clearly louder now. From the LP/OP, Terry called in on the TA-1: “They’re pusher prop jobs, twin seat, tandem style. It’s hard to tell, but it looks like there’s just one pilot in each. They’re definitely circling us. Everybody stay put.” The planes circled the house a second time, just a hundred yards above the ground.
From the front of the house, Todd declared: “Hey, wait a minute, it looks like they’re getting ready to land. Yep, they are landing down on the county road.” The two planes landed in rapid succession on the straight stretch of county road below the house. Todd was surprised by how short a distance it took for the planes to land and come to a full stop. The planes looked identical, except for their color. One was painted dark green. The other was tan. He heard their engines roar up in tempo as the planes turned and taxied back to the front gate. The planes came to a stop at the front gate, and their engines shut down.
Both pilots lifted their canopies and took off their headphones, almost in unison. Two figures, one tall and one short, hopped out of the planes, wearing BDUs and tan boots.
Todd shouted loud enough for everyone at the house to hear: “They are painted drab, but those sure don’t look military. Have any of you heard of anyone in the area that owns an ultralight?” There was no reply. Todd pondered for a moment. “Hey, you know, Dan told me that Ian Doyle was in an ultralight club.
I sure wish Fong was still here. He’s probably seen pictures of Ian’s plane. He said that it was a zippy little thing, and I think he said that it was a two-seater.”
“Who is this Ian fellow?,” Rose asked.
Mary answered, “An old college buddy of Todd and Dan’s. He has a wife and daughter. That might be him in one of those planes down on the road.”

Ten minutes later, after a cautious squad-sized approach by the bounding overwatch method, Todd and Ian Doyle were sharing hugs. “Wow! Long time no see. What brings you here?”
“It’s a long story, Todd. Suffice it to say that we left town in a hurry when a very large number of muy malo hombres took over. It was muy peligroso there. So we did some Van-dammage--just to whittle them down, you understand--and then we took off. It took a few inquiries in Bovill, but we found your place here easily enough.”
Todd took a long look at the plane behind Doyle, staring at just below the wing root, where it was stenciled EXPERIMENTAL. He said insistently, “You can tell me the whole story later. First tell me about these ultralights. They are really a sight to behold.”
Ian turned to caress the fuselage of the flat forest green-painted plane behind him. “To begin with, technically, they aren’t ultralights, although they use a lot of the same design features. Legally, these birds are classed as light experimentals. These birds are both Laron Star Streaks. I paid just under $30K for mine, when I picked it up new from the factory in Borger, Texas, back in ‘98. We towed it home in it’s trailer behind our Suburban. The Star Streak comes with a lot of standard goodies like dual controls, an ICOM radio, electric start, electric brakes, three position half span flaps, electric trim, and a pretty complete set of VFR instruments. I added a GPS navigation box and active noise reduction headphones to this one. It’s essentially a poor man’s general aviation plane, but legally it’s a light ‘experimental’. But it’s too heavy to be classed as an “ultralight” under the FAA regs.”
“With its enclosed canopy, it’s one of the best light experimentals for long range flying. In fact, one guy flew a similar model Laron from London to Beijing and wrote a book about it. As I’m sure you know, the main advantages of ultralights and light experimentals is that they are so thrifty on gas, and have a super short take-off roll--usually under 200 feet--and very low stall speeds. The Star Streak only weighs about 400 pounds, empty. The other neat thing about our Larons and most similar light experimentals and ultralights is that they are not restricted to av-gas. In ours here, for example, you can burn any grade of gas down to about 85 octane. If I adjusted the carb jets, I suppose they would even burn ethanol or methanol. Luckily, I haven’t had to try that yet.”
Doyle turned to the trim woman with an olive complexion standing beside him. She appeared to be around 35 years old. “I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. This is my wife Blanca. I’ve written to you about her, but we haven’t seen each other face to face since college, so you’ve never had a chance to meet.”
The attractive woman in BDUs extended her hand, and Todd shook it firmly. Gray said quietly, “Encantado.” She replied in a soft accent, “A pleasure finally meeting you, Meester Gray.”
“As you probably recall from my e-mail, I met Blanca when I was stationed down in Hondo,” Doyle continued. “That was back in my ‘Terry and the Pirates’ days, when I was a lieutenant--not too long out of transition training. She was a civilian working in flight ops at Tegucigalpa. Blanca was already a qualified single engine pilot when I met her. Talk about love at first sight, eh conchita?” Blanca smiled and blushed, nodding her chin to her shoulder.
Gesturing to the other plane, Ian said, “We swapped for Blanca’s Laron just after the stock market tanked. I got it from an old fart civilian who was in the Phoenix Metro ultralight club. He bought this one as a kit. He said that it took him almost two years to build it in his spare time. He finished building it in ‘99. It had very low hours clocked on the engine. His was stored in the same style enclosed trailer that we had for mine. I traded him my Sten gun, a suppressor with nomex cover, a whole bunch of magazines, and 1,000 rounds of nine millimeter ball for it. Fair enough swap, I suppose, since unregistered and suppressed submachineguns don’t grow on trees. We could both see the handwriting on the wall by then. He knew what I needed, and I knew what he needed: I needed some more transportation, and he needed some more firepower. I asked him why he wasn’t planning to bail out of Phoenix. He said that his wife refused to budge an inch. They had their whole life wrapped up in their house. Since he was stuck there, he didn’t need the plane, but he certainly needed a serious self-defense gun.”
Doyle stepped toward the back of the fuselage, deftly ducking under the wing, and went on: “The Star Streaks cruise at just over 120 miles an hour at 80 percent power, which is pretty fast for a light experimental. Of course, that seems like crawling when you are used to wearing an F-16, but I like ‘em. The cockpit layout is even similar to a Falcon. Not exactly fly-by-wire controls, though. This model uses a 85 horse Hirth F-30 engine. It’s a great little plant. It just hums along and sips gas--only about five gallons an hour at 80% power. Both of these planes are identical except for the propellers. Mine uses a four blade composite, but the prop on Blanca’s is the older composite three blade. The Hirth is a powerful little engine. It will make the Larons climb at 2,500 feet per minute when it is in normal configuration with just one man on board, but of course a lot slower the way we have them loaded down right now. The planes have a rated useful load of 500 pounds. I’m afraid that we exceeded that limit when we took off from Prescott. Between the heavy load and the high elevation of the airport, our takeoff distances were outrageously long--at least, that is, for a light experimental. But luckily, we had a long straight stretch of road to take off from.”
Blanca looked around anxiously. “Ees there anywhere where we can put theeese birds where they whon’t get stolen?”
Mary answered, “We’ll put them both in the Andersen’s big hay barn, just down the road. It’s a nice dry barn. The wings should hopefully fit through the front. It was left open on that side to let the big New Holland harvester in. It’s a three-sided affair. The farm is deserted, and the barn is almost empty now. They gave us permission to use the place. Don’t worry--when the planes are pushed to the back of the barn, no one will see them there. And, as further insurance, it’s just within line of sight of our LP/OP, up on the hill.”
“Ell-Pee-Oh-Pee?”, Blanca asked, quizzically.
“Sorry, Blanca. I’m afraid that we are used to talking in ‘acronese’ around here, and not the Air Force acronym dialect you’re probably used to. LP/OP is a ground pounder acronym for listening post/observation post.” Pointing to the nearby hill, Mary explained, “Basically it’s a glorified hole in the ground. If you look very closely, you can see it up on the hill there. It has a good view of the area. It’s for observation in daylight, and for listening at night.”
Moving the planes into the barn took only a few minutes. They were able to taxi the planes under power to within 20 feet of the barn. From there, they were pushed in by hand. Going in, the planes’ 30 foot long wingspans cleared the entrance with just a foot to spare on each side. As they were pushing the first plane in, Mary asked, “How many gas cans have you got in there, and how far can you fly without refueling?”
Doyle pointed through the canopy at the rear seat area, and cited, “Originally, the Star Streaks only had a range of around 320 miles at 80% power. The main tank is 14 and-a-half gallons. But I added some big bladder tanks to both planes. They aren’t connected directly to the primary fuel system. I cheated and installed a couple of little Black and Decker Jackrabbit hand pumps along side the front seats, with extra long hoses. To transfer fuel from the bladder to the main tank, you just put the Jackrabbit in your lap and crank away. The bladder tanks extend our range to about 480 miles without landing to refuel, when we are at max takeoff weight. If we were in a light configuration, they could maybe even go 550 miles.”
Ian’s plane came to a rest with the tip of its nose less than a foot from the rear wall of the barn. He inched past the nose and walked around to the other side of the plane, talking as he walked. “They are both quite a bit lighter right now, since we have less gas and we had to barter some of our stuff for fuel.” He tapped on the Plexiglas with his index finger and said, “I have these five gallon gas cans strapped into the back seats of both birds, but they are nearly empty, too. Aside from some clothes, sleeping bags, tools, and aeronautical charts; most of the weight on board is fuel, oil, guns, ammo, water, and MREs. You know, just the essentials in life. At present we’re down to less than 8 gallons of fuel between the two planes...”
Mary interjected, “Don’t worry about that. We still have over four hundred gallons of stabilized unleaded premium in the tank here. It will only be good for another year or two, so we might as well use it up. I think that it’s 92 octane, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask Terry--she’s our logistics honcho. But she’s up at the LP/OP right now.”
After they had pushed the second plane in, Todd declared, “Don’t worry about all your gear, we’ll come down with the pickup truck later this afternoon and take it up to the house.”
Before they left the planes, Doyle used a socket wrench to remove the nose wheels from both planes, and buried them under some loose hay near the front of the big barn. “They won’t be going far without these,” he said. As they walked out of the barn, Ian slung his suppressed MAC-10 over his shoulder. Blanca did likewise with a stainless steel folding-stock Mini-14 GB. Todd was disappointed to see that they didn’t carry any extra magazines. He made a mental note to correct that glaring deficiency.
As they walked, Blanca was bemused at the way the militia members walked at 5 yard intervals. “Why are you walking so far apart?,” she asked with a laugh.
“Force of habit,” Mary explained. “In case of an ambush, you are at much greater risk if you are bunched together.”
They chatted amiably as they hiked back to the Gray’s house. Once they were inside, Rose served up an early lunch of raw carrots, apple slices spread with reconstituted peanut butter, and freshly baked bread. It was over lunch that Ian and Blanca started to recount their story. Mary set a TRC-500 to the “VOX” setting, so that Terry Layton, who was still up at the LP/OP, didn’t feel left out.
Munching on some bread, Ian began, “The 56th Fighter Wing had just started a rotation to Saudi. It was just two years before the Crash that we switched back from a tactical training wing to a tactical fighter wing. I came on board just a few months into the transition. Anyway, when all the trouble started, since I was the wing maintenance officer, I was stuck back at Luke, catching up on paperwork. I was also taking a idiotic mandatory ‘Diversity, Sensitivity, and Sexual Harassment’ class. The frickin’ class lasted a whole week. I had orders to catch up with the wing in late November. But then, when the riots got going in earnest, they planned an emergency redeployment of virtually all of the close air support aircraft in the Air Force inventory back to the States. Some weenie at the White House must have dreamed that one up. Our wing was going to deploy to Hurlburt Field, down in Florida. Criminy! Could you imagine F-16s and A-10s versus rioters? Talk about over-kill! I never heard what happened to our squadrons after that. I was too busy with problems of my own--like finding drinking water for Blanca and myself.”
“And your daughter?,” Mary asked.
Doyle’s face clouded with emotion. Stiffening, he replied, “Linda didn’t make it, ma’am. She died five years ago. She was in Detroit, doing her annual six week long ‘Grandmom and Grandpop’ visit with my folks. It was the first time that she was old enough to go on a commercial plane by herself. Blanca wanted to stay home to relax, do some pastels, and a bit of surfing the Internet. We were home-schooling her, so Linda wasn’t on a normal school year schedule. Blanca and Linda liked to go up to Michigan in the Fall. They get some nice Fall colors up there.”
Ian paused and looked at the ground. “By the time we realized the magnitude of the situation, most of the flights had been canceled, and the few that were still flying were booked solid. In retrospect, what I should have done was played “you bet your bars” and commandeered a D-model Falcon to zip up there to get her. Instead, I took the conservative route and just hoped that the riots wouldn’t last long or spread outside the downtown area of Detroit. I also figured that if worse came to worse, my dad’s gun collection could handle any rioters that came down their block. I was wrong. I got a call from one of their close neighbors who managed to make it out of Detroit alive. She said that looters got really pissed when my dad shot some of them. They torched my dad’s house. Killed them all. I still feel like such a fool. I could have saved my folks and my daughter’s life.”
Blanca squeezed Ian’s hand and said softly, “Don’t do thees, E-an. We can-no change history.”
Mary’s eyes were wet with tears. “I’m so sorry, Ian. I’m so sorry, Blanca. ”
Doyle shook his head from side to side and muttered, “Dwelling on it won’t do any good. In times like these, you just have to suck it up and drive on.”
Todd said a silent prayer. Then he looked up and asked, “So what happened to everybody at Luke?”
Doyle snapped out of his reverie and recounted, “To call it mass desertion would be to put it mildly. The mess halls only had limited food supplies, and we only had enough MREs on hand for short-term contingencies. I’m sure some of the overseas air bases had better stocks, but nobody ever expected a disruption of re-supply of food in CONUS! When it became clear that the food wasn’t going to last long, virtually everybody started to disappear. And when they went, they took a lot of equipment, fuel, and nearly every scrap of food on base with them. The Base Exchange, the commissary, and the mess halls were stripped clean. When I say everybody, I mean everybody. There wasn’t a soul from 56th Log or 56th Medical left on base. Even the whole Support Group basically vanished in about three days time. By the time I decided to pack it in, Luke was a ghost town. There were only seven pilots and about 20 ground crew guys left on the post. Most of them were young bachelors. By that point, I was the senior ranking officer on the base, so I could do pretty much anything I wanted. I was the de facto base commander. I just called a formation and released the remaining personnel on base on ‘indefinite leave.’
Unfortunately, my options were pretty limited. You see, there wasn’t a single aircraft left on the ramp, or a single military vehicle left on post. By then, there were just a few POVs. Even the fuel trucks had disappeared. Now you’ve got to understand that they had 217 birds on the property books, mainly F-16 Cs and D models. Of those, they were all either out on the Saudi Arabia rotation, or off on “emergency” flights that all mysteriously ended up being one-way missions. At least three F-16s, and the general staff Lear were out-and-out stolen. No flight plans were filed. The guys who took them just figured that they could get away with it. They just taxied out at O-dark-early and took off. And there was nobody left in the tower to say ‘boo’ about it. Those four had been the last airworthy planes on the base. The few planes that were left were just some stripped hangar queens.”
“After that ‘gentlemen, you are released’ speech, I spent the rest of that day looking for fuel containers. Every gas can available had already walked off base. The only good sized containers I could find were some hydraulic fluid drums. But I was afraid that the fluid left in them would contaminate the gas. So I ended up scrounging a bunch of empty 2 liter pop bottles from dumpsters around the BX. I drove home that evening with almost 140 gallons of av gas in the back of the Suburban. I never went back to Luke after that.
We were living off base in a rental flat-top in Buckeye. It’s basically a retirement community. When I got home, I talked things over with Blanca. We decided to hang tight for a few days. We packed up, but packed light. It was like one of those life boat games--’Now if you could only take five items, which five would they be?’ The end result was that Blanca and I had to leave a lot behind. We spent a lot of that time listening to the radio for reports on the rioting. Only a couple of AM stations were on the air by then, and the news they were handing out was pretty sketchy. None of it sounded good. They spent half the time repeating the same FEMA ‘Stay calm, remain in your homes, order will be restored shortly’ tape. What a pile of bull. The tape even recommend calling 911 if we saw any looting in progress. I laughed and said, ‘Oh yes sir, will do.’ The phones had all been dead for several days.”
“Our next-door neighbors had a police scanner. That was the best thing for monitoring where there was trouble happening. This was at the time when Phoenix and Tucson were burning down. Major chaos, let me tell ya. Once the looting started spreading out into the suburbs, we agreed that it would be bad news to stay in the Phoenix area much longer. Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, we wheeled the Larons out of their trailers, and bolted on the wings and tails, right there on our front lawn. It only took about fifteen minutes each to assemble and pre-flight them, since we’d had plenty of practice before, putting my bird together for weekend jaunts.”
“While we were loading our gear, most of the neighbors just stood there and gawked. A few helped out with the fueling process. We handed our next-door neighbors the keys and title to our Suburban, and the keys to the house. I told them that anything inside was free for the taking. By then, we knew that we weren’t ever coming back. Then we taxied off the lawn, down the driveway, and out the court. We hung a left, throttled up, and took off from Hastings Avenue. Some of the neighbors stood at the ends to block car traffic for us. Must have been quite a sight for the retirees. We flew from there straight to Prescott--that’s in northern Arizona. We planned to stay at my cousin’s place.”
“My cousin Alex was a senior salesman with J&G Sales, a big gun distributor up in Prescott. With that job, I figured that he would be pretty well squared away, at least in terms of guns and ammo to barter for anything he could possibly want. Prescott is partly a resort community, and kind of a haven for gun nuts. J&G was there, Ruger had a factory there, and there were lots of custom gun makers, barrel makers, and stock makers. One little outfit there made elephant guns on custom magnum Mauser actions before the Crash. Big .416 Rigbys and that sort of thing. The last I saw of them, they were still producing some smaller caliber long range guns in H-S Precision Kevlar-Graphite stocks. They sold them on a barter basis. Real tack drivers.”
“Prescott is not a big town, but it took us a while to locate Alex, since the phones were out there by that time, too. I hitched a ride from the airport, while Blanca stayed behind to guard the planes. From talking with Alex’s neighbors, we discovered that he had hired out as a security man for some Tucson banking fat-cats. They had a pretty elaborate hidey hole set up just north of Prescott. There were four families living at the compound. At first they didn’t want to take us in. Then they saw the firepower that we had with us, and they changed their minds. Officially, we were “security”, just like my cousin. We had it pretty soft there, compared to most folks. We had plenty of water, and enough food to get by. We were in no hurry to leave.”
“Things were pretty quiet there for four full years. A little local trouble, but nothing worth mentioning. Then we started hearing about this gang of escaped convicts and assorted riff-raff that was slowly working its way up from New Mexico. Refugees told us that it was originally two gangs that combined into one big super gang. They would hit a town, linger a week or two, strip it clean, and then move on to the next one. They were like a swarm of locusts. There were over 300 of them by the time they made it up to the Prescott area. Rumor had it that at least one of the two gangs had been doing this town-to-town hopping all the way from south Texas. By then they were getting pretty good at it.”
“I took a recon flight in my Star Streak down to Wickenburg when they hit there, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. They just swept through the town in one big mass of vehicles. Many of the houses were abandoned, ‘cause folks had heard they were coming and didn’t want to be around when they did. Basically, they burned down any house that anyone was shooting from. Then they went from house to house, taking anything of value. Even from the air, I could see them dragging some women out of houses and raping them on the sidewalks. We’re talking total scum of the Earth. It made me wish I was flying a fully armed Fighting Falcon instead of my little Laron. I could have really kicked some tail. These guys were absolute savages, Todd.” Doyle stopped for a few moments, and then added, “I got shot at some when I was on that flight, but I didn’t find any bullet holes in my bird when I got back.”
“Just three weeks ago, the gang was making their way up the Agua Fria, and hit the little town of Mayer. About 80 of us from town, mainly men, went on a little preemptive strike when we heard that the gang had moved into the town of Humboldt. Blanca, Alex, and I were all on the raiding party. We knew that Prescott would be next, because we were just 12 miles up the road. A Navajo kid about 13 years old, who escaped from Humboldt just after they arrived, gave us the layout. He even volunteered to go back in to town to scout which buildings the looters were in. That was a real help in planning the operation.”
“Our little raid didn’t have much in the way of military precision, but we sure did some damage. We knew that we couldn’t kill them all, so we decided that the thing to do was to concentrate on their vehicles, especially their armored cars and APCs. We hit them at just after three in the morning. Since we were all on foot or horseback the last two miles in, they didn’t know we were coming until we were already in their midst. They had the buildings that they were occupying lit up like Christmas trees. Our little Navajo scout had told us in advance which buildings they’d be in. We were only fully engaged for about five minutes. It was fast and furious, but like I said before, we did some serious Van-dammage.”
“In the first couple of minutes, we had the advantage, because most of the looters were asleep. They made me the point man, since I had the only suppressed weapon in the raiding party. When I shoot Winchester Q-Loads--those are special low velocity subsonic rounds--this thing doesn’t make much more noise than a loud hand clap.” Doyle held up the stubby Ingram M10 for a brief display, unscrewing the nomex-covered suppressor. “The term ‘silencer’ is really a misnomer. A ‘can’ like this is really just an elaborate sound muffler. Again, you can still hear the shot--sounds like a loud hand-clap. The normal sound is reduced so much that you can even hear the clack of the bolt going forward with each shot.”
Doyle screwed the suppressor back on the M10 and set it down on the window seat. “Sorry, I digress. Getting back to what happened in Humboldt... I got the chance to personally drop three of their sentries, shooting my MAC in the semi-auto mode. I don’t mind saying that it felt real good, after what I’d seen them do in Wickenburg. At first, we were the only ones shooting. Once the looters rolled out of bed and started shooting back, it was another story They had a lot of fully automatic weapons, grenades, and rocket launchers of some sort. They really started hosing us down. Before they did though, we had torched more than 40 vehicles with Molotov cocktails. Apparently, we got every one of their APCs and armored cars.”
“Our retreat out of Humboldt was let’s say ‘less than organized.’ Only 29 of us made it back to Prescott alive by noon. Two more guys straggled in the next evening. Of the 31 that made it back, only three had been wounded, and those were all minor grazing wounds. Oddly enough, all five of the men and women who were on horseback were among those to make it back without a scratch. Not even any of the horses were hit. Either they were real lucky, or cavalry is making a comeback. My cousin Alex never made it back from the Humboldt raid.” Ian skipped a beat, and then went on: “The looters didn’t show up the next day or even the day after. Blanca and I waited at the compound, with the Larons loaded, fueled, and ready to go.”
“Three days after our raid, they came into Prescott, and they must have been plenty pissed. The gang rolled in just after dawn. They didn’t seem to care how many losses they were taking, and they immediately started to torch every building they got to. Blanca and I didn’t wait until they made it to the north side of town. Everyone at the compound was by then either in town manning the barricades, or had headed for the hills. Most of the remaining stuff at the retreat went with two families that had a pair of GMC motor homes. They were headed for Flagstaff.”
“At that point, we realized that discretion was the better part of valor, so we took off, too. We used a nice long straight stretch of road that started a quarter mile north of the compound. I had taken off and landed there many times before during the five years we were there. When we wheeled around after take-off, we could see that almost half the buildings in the downtown area were on fire. We didn’t stick around to see how things ended, but I’m afraid that the looters must have taken the town. Even though they didn’t have any armored vehicles left, they had superior numbers and superior firepower.”

Welcome to the Weekly Survival Real Estate Update. This new column will feature news, statistics, market analysis and opinions. We plan to feature one or two retreat locales each week. Typically, we will report on one locale in the Continental United States and one internationally. Our first full length update will appear next Friday and feature Northwestern Montana and New Zealand, both locales have excellent characteristics and qualities for the retreat shopper.

One quick note this week: The Northern Idaho market seems to now be feeling the combined effects of the real estate market crunch and liquidity crunch. Over the past few weeks there have been major price reductions on large acreage properties, some new listings of retreat-qualified properties--now listed at reasonable market values--and investors trying to dump their rural subdivisions which have just received approval. There are currently 1,141 residential listings and 1,605 vacant land listings in the northern Idaho area (Sandpoint, Priest River and Clark Fork north to Bonners Ferry and Porthill) in an area of about 35,000 people in two counties.
For all of you looking at Northern Idaho the market there is flooded with listings and the time is at hand to cherry pick the retreat of your dreams. The decline (Crunch) here will never be as bad as the coastal locales or big cities due in part to the fact that only 17% of the land here is in private ownership and it drops to 11% in northwestern Montana. This alone may actually cause the decline to stop over the next year, as the demand for retreats increases as city dwellers ‘bail out’ of the nosediving markets. This is especially true with larger acreage homes and land (40+ acres), as sellers get wise to this fact.
All in all, no matter what retreat locale you are considering it looks like everyone is in for a rough ride. Read, study, plan and then investigate some more before making your move. But whatever you do, don’t hesitate. Because, like those battle packs of South African .308 ball ammo, one day you’ll wake up and say “Darn, I knew I should have bought a dozen cases of that stuff while it was still cheap.” Remember, smart people learn from their mistakes, but the wise learn from others' mistakes!
For more information and analysis of retreats for sale in your locale of choice, please visit Locales listed on the site do not have to follow JWR’s list of approved areas in his top 19 western states. If you think that a locale you are interested in moving to has merit, please let us know. We would be happy to contact realtors there, find and approve a few listings, and get them up on the site for you. The more feedback and help we get the better the site will be, so go ahead, have it tailored to feature retreats in your favorite locale. - TS

I heard that the makers of Polar Pure water purifier had a visit from the DEA this week. They have plans to so highly regulate the distribution of iodine crystals that they will soon run the family owned and operated company out of business. (They make just one product.) The DEA said that they will expect retailers to get a photocopy of each buyer's driver's license, keep track of the quantities purchased, report "suspicious" purchases (with an as yet-to-be determined threshold) maintain the records for at least two years, and on and on. ll this because iodine has been deemed a "precursor" chemical for the illicit production of methamphetamine ("meth")..The owner of Polar Pure said that he "tried to negotiate" with the DEA agents, but " they weren't in the mood to negotiate." The bottom line: Rather than jump through the bureaucratic flame-filled hoops, the company will probably just shut down. I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers buy their lifetime supply of Polar Pure as soon as possible, before it is heavily regulated and the new record keeping rules go into effect. You should probably buy at least 3 or 4 bottles per family member. At last count, the folks at Ready Made Resources only had 180 bottles left in stock. Once this is posted, I suspect that their inventory will sell out within just a couple of days. After that, there will be no more.

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Hardly a Surprise Department: Financial Services job cuts soar on housing woes. We also read of more "difficulties", a la Countrywide, just as we predicted: Accredited Home Lenders Shuts Down Much of Its Business

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China to install sensors along NAFTA highway

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Cylindrical wind power generators in development in Australia

"We should reserve a storehouse for ourselves, altogether ours, and wholly free, wherein we may hoard up and establish our true liberty." - Montaigne, Essays

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The high bid is now at $210 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. The auction ends on September 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

I'm sure that you've been reading about the current liquidity crisis. But I'm not sure that the average citizen realizes the full implications. Twenty years ago, borrowed money was a lubricant for the American economy. Now it is the economy. Without credit at all levels--consumer, corporate, and government--America as we know it would cease to exist. We live in what economist Bill Bonner calls The Empire of Debt. Because of the lending crisis, the U.S., economy is teetering on precipice. Writing in his Reality Check e-newsletter this week, Dr. Gary North pointed out: "On August 15, the 90-day T-bill rate was 4.21%. The next day it fell to 3.79%. That was a one-day drop of .42 percentage points. As a percentage, it was a 10% drop. We rarely see 10% moves in one day. The next day, Friday, it was down to 3.76%. On Monday, August 20, it fell to 3.12% . That was another 17% decline. This is not a merely rush for safety. It is bordering on panic."[Emphasis added.] This crisis can have huge, unforeseen macroeconomic effects.

I think that the term "panic" is a good description for current credit market conditions. In fact, I won't be surprised if the current credit crisis is someday remembered as The Panic of 2007. Hopefully it won't be followed by the Depression of 2008 to 2028.

I've been asked by several readers for a projected outcome on the current credit crunch. Since no one, not even Helicopter Ben Bernanke can say for certain what will happen, in this article I'm offering a range of potential outcomes. I will also assign a speculative percentage likelihood of each outcome. To assuage the Pollyannas, I will first offer the best case outcome:

1.) Best Case: The Credit Market Staggers Back to Business As Usual

If the recent massive injections liquidity the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are successful at calming credit market fears, and if congress steps up and starts issuing blanket loan guarantees, then perhaps the credit market will recover, and stagger back to some semblance of normalcy. But unless or until that occurs, the credit markets will continue to be petrified by fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Even in this best case, there will probably be a global recession, while order is restored to the marketplace

As background, let me explain: When in FUD mode, credit does not flow, regardless of low interest rates. Presently, the bankers are beFUDdled: They are reluctant to make loans-to even the heretofore most "credit worthy" corporations because they are uncertain of the true credit worthiness of any borrower that has either primary or secondary (derivative) exposure to sub-prime loan investments. Bankers have a long and worthy history of being risk averse. In situations where one or more risks cannot be fully and properly gauged, their default answer is, was, and always will be, NO. As in: "No, I won't approve this loan." The only way that they will get out of FUD mode is if the risk can be either be removed (through loan guarantees), or if risk can be properly gauged, through new accounting practices that reveal underlying risks being borne by the borrower. The latter may be difficult to accomplish, because in the past five years the derivatives market has ballooned to gargantuan proportions. There are many trillions of dollars of derivatives in play, with only some very flaky accounting to back them up.

Even this "Best Case" is not a real solution to the Debt Bubble problem. A speedy return to a credit-driven economy is essentially just forestalling the inevitable. The Powers That Be will only be sowing the seeds for an even bigger, more painful unwinding of debt in another few years. Likelihood for this outcome: 5%

2.) Lower Interest Rates, Then Recession

As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, Ben Bernanke and the Fed Board of Governors are stuck. If they lower rates then they will crack the critical support level for the US Dollar Index, which appears sacred at about 80. And if they raise rates, then it will put Wall Street into a tail spin and possibly plunge the economy into depression. In the short term, the Fed will likely yield to political pressure and continue to lower interest rates. But this will be to the detriment of foreign investment, and inevitably to the value of the US Dollar on the FOREX. So I doubt that the Fed will drop the prime interest rate more than 80 basis points (0.8%), including the recent 50 basis point (0.5%) drop. Any further drop could precipitate a full scale dollar panic--a global flight from the US Dollar. After moving within this narrow range of motion, Bernanke, et al will be truly struck--inextricably stuck. Starving for liquidity, the economy will plunge into a deep recession. This recession could last 2 to 5 years. And there could be some variations on this theme (See 2A, 2B, below.) The stock market will decline at lest 20% and corporate layoffs will be be even larger than in recent recessions. Likelihood for this outcome: 60%.

2A.) Coastal Suburban Real Estate Declines to Desperation Price Levels
Regardless of whether or not Bernanke and company pull off a miracle for the bankers, the coastal suburban real estate market will continue to decline. It was so badly inflated--all with easy money courtesy of "Easy Al" Greenspan and his successor--that it may fall by as much as 60% in some overvalued markets like Palm Beach, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Seattle before the market bottoms. Meanwhile, the price of rural real estate in inland regions will probably remain fairly solid--except for resort areas like Hot Springs Arkansas, Sun Valley, Idaho, Vail, Colorado, and Lake Arrowhead, California.

As the market falls and ARMs reset, some home owners will go to extreme measures to save their McMansions. They will sell off at a loss their second homes (mostly in resort locales), sell off their "spec" and rental houses, their fancy cars, fine art, and various collections. One nice fringe benefit: The price of some guns may actually come down for a while. Consider any good quality gun in a common caliber a good choice for tangible investing.

Not all owners will continue to psychologically latch on to their unaffordable houses. Some owners will simply walk away when they get upside down in their mortgages. This will be compounded by corporate layoffs that force families to relocate to live with relatives and/or to seek work. When they realize that the remaining unpaid mortgage principal is far greater that what they if they sold their house, they will do as the Lord Humongous suggested to Papagallo's band of survivors: "Just walk away." A lot of them won't even bother dropping off their door keys at the bank.

2B.) Sequential or Simultaneous Deflation and Inflation

We might see some real economic oddities in the next few years, as the debt spiral unwinds and people are forced to liquidate some assets at a loss. There might be a wave of deflation followed by mass inflation, or even simultaneous inflation and deflation of some prices, such as:

* Precious Metals Up... and Base (Industrial) Metals Down

* Inland Rural Farms Up... and Coastal Suburban/Resort Houses Down

* Groceries Up... and Timber/Lumber, Yachts, and Fine Art Down

* Disney and Coleman Stock Up... and Home Depot, Microsoft and Most Other Stocks Down

* Pickup Trucks Prices Up... and Sports Car/Luxury Car/Classic Car Prices Down

* Imported Goods Up... and Domestically Manufactured Goods Down

* Farm Machinery Up... and Textile, Plastics, and Metal Stamping Machinery Down

* Commercial Greenhouses Up... and Urban Office Buildings Down

Depending on how deep the industrial recession gets, and how much travel is curtailed, we might even see oil and gasoline prices come down to pre-2005 levels. (Of course, if the US Dollar Index slips substantially, then oil prices will remain high since most oil is imported, and less of it will be denominated in US Dollars in the coming years.)

3.) Lower Interest Rates (Within Limits), Then Depression

Picture outcome #2 (above) only worse. The recession doesn't end. It only gets worse. Corporate layoffs escalate to the point where 30% or more of American workers are out of work. Lower interest rates, loan guarantees, and government job programs are ineffective. The stock market keeps going down. The dollar continues to lose buying power versus foreign currencies. Coastal real estate remains in the doldrums. After three or four years, the anchormen on news networks stop calling it a recession. They call it what it is: a Depression. Similar in some way to the Great Depression, they might call it The Greater Depression. It could last from 5 to 20 years. Likelihood for this outcome: 20%.

3A.) The Cure Worse Than the Disease: HRC Channels FDR

If Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) is enthroned in the midst of a deep recession or a depression, I predict that in partnership with the Democrat party-controlled congress she will take the typical New Deal Democrat approach, and begin a massive round of Federal spending to help "revive" the economy. Channeling the spirit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (or should I say Eleanor Roosevelt, who really ran the show), HRC's answer will be to throw money at the problem: A whole raft of new "Alphabet Soup" agencies, wage and price controls, currency changes, pork barrel road projects far and wide, massive expansion of Federal job programs, more welfare, you name it---more, more, more government spending.

4.) Global Depression and World War III

Everyone know that if you buy a car on credit and you stop making your payments, the bank sends someone to tow your car away. Nation states do the same thing. I call it kingdom towing. Most people just call it war. In the event of a major Depression, the chance of war will increase dramatically, either because of perceived vulnerability, or because politicians will see wartime spending and national resolve as a means to rouse a dormant economy. Likelihood for this outcome: 10%

5.) Worst Case: Depression, Hyperinflation and Total Socioeconomic Collapse

The Depression and inflation are so severe that law and order completely breaks down and long distance commerce ceases. You've read about it before in SurvivalBlog and in my books, so I don't need to explain it here. Likelihood for this outcome: 2%.

Again, I don't pretend to have a crystal ball. Take all of the foregoing as educated guesswork. Formulate your own pet scenario and extrapolate outcomes. But above all, be prepared. Tailor your preparations for your climate zone and for the population density and water availability in your area. Quit hesitating. If you have the means to do so, move to a lightly populated retreat area. Even if you decide to stay in the suburbs, get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away, muy pronto.

Mr Rawles,

I'm looking forward to trying Grandpappy's wood ash soap making technique. I've tried it before, but unfortunately only was only successful once. I might add, although unavailable as Red Devil brand in the grocery stores, lye is easily available from online soap making and chemical supplies. [JWR Adds: It is also available via mail order from Lehman's--one of our Affiliate advertisers.] Another source, if you live in oilfield country, is to find a friend who works on a[n oil] rig. They get it in 50 pound bags and it's pure and fine for soap making, hominy making or other uses. It comes well packaged in double plastic lined bags and stores well loose in a 5 gallon bucket (the kind with a [rubber] lid seal) lined with a plastic bag. It's quite hygroscopic, so you need to be careful in humid weather that the bag is tied and the lid is sealed. - Judy B

Several months ago, I e-mailed you and the others on the blog about bulk honey prices going up. They stabilized at $7.99 for a 96 liquid ounce jug of Silverbow brand honey at Costco for many months. Two weeks ago, a jug of honey was $7.99. As of today, the same jug is $8.79, a 90 cent price increase. I put out some questions as to why the price increase and all I am hearing is minor costs due to dwindling honey supplies (as was discussed in SurvivalBlog) but [also] a greater [wholesale] cost due to transportation costs as well as other business costs such as wages, labor, etc. I’m hoping more blog readers can give some input.

As it stands, the very same honey I bought last year for $7.49 is already paying off. - MP in Seattle (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

JWR Replies: Ah, yes, The Alpha Strategy, proven right, once again.

By way of SHTF Daily: Bernanke fears economy will hit a brick wall

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I just heard that Gun Parts Guy (one of our loyal advertisers) now offers metric FN-FAL parts kits (sans receivers) complete with US Section 922(r) compliance parts, in a wide variety of configurations. FAL parts kits are getting scarce in the U.S., so stock up. When you order, please mention that you saw the kits mentioned in SurvivalBlog.

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More from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Top Swiss banker attacks US lending standards as 'unbelievable'

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"The most important factor in the survival equation is you: Your physical health and your cast of mind--particularly the way in which you handle stress." - Mel Tappan, Tappan on Survival

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If you value what you read in SurvivalBlog, then please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. These subscriptions are entirely voluntary, but greatly appreciated. They help pay the bills here, including our bandwidth costs, which increase increase steadily as the readership grows. (In August of '05--the month that we launched--we had 9,377 unique visits and used 6.9 used gigabytes of bandwidth. In August of '06 we had 87,117 unique visits and used 24 gigabytes of bandwidth. In August of '07 we expect about 158,500 unique visits, and we'll use about 82 gigabytes of bandwidth.)

How to Render (Melt) Animal Fat:
Beef fat is called tallow and pig fat is called lard. Poultry fat is too soft to be used by itself, but it may be used in a ratio of about 10% with tallow or a tallow-lard combination. Bear fat may also be used but it must be melted (rendered) quickly after the bear has been killed because bear fat will quickly become rancid. You may also use the fat from farm animals such as sheep or goats, and a variety of wild animals, such as beaver, opossum, raccoon, and groundhog. If there is any lean meat still attached to the fat, cut it off and make sure you only use the fat to make grease.
Melting animal fat is called rendering. Rendering should be done outdoors or in a well ventilated area. The smell of melting animal fat will make most people nauseous. Cut the animal fat into small pieces about one-inch cubed and put them into a pot with about 1/8 inch of rainwater and cook over low to medium heat. Gradually add the fat to the pot and stir to keep the hot grease and solid pieces of fat circulating. As you stir be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent any fat from sticking to the bottom and burning. Do not burn the fat or allow it to smoke. If it starts to smoke then you are applying too much heat and you are burning the fat or grease.
One pound of fat will yield about 2.25 cups of grease. Most of the fat will melt into a liquid but some small solid particles will not melt and these are called cracklings. After melting the fat, allow it to cool slightly, and then strain it through a clean thin cloth and store it in a sealed container until it is needed. The cracklings will be on the top surface of the straining cloth. Save the delicious cracklings for use in other cooking recipes.
(Note: Raw animal fat can quickly become rancid. Therefore raw animal fat should not be saved and then converted into grease at some future date. The best procedure is to render animal fat into grease while the fat is still fresh. Rendered animal fat has a much longer storage life than raw animal fat.)
(Note: You can also reclaim bacon grease (pork lard), hamburger grease (beef tallow), and other used cooking greases for soap making purposes. The basic instructions are on my web site at: How to Clarify Used Cooking Grease.)

How to Make Concentrated Brown Lye Water:
You will need rainwater (or steam distilled water) and the cold ashes from any hardwood fire, such as oak, hickory, maple, ash, beech, or old fruit trees. Do not use the ashes from a fire that burned pine tree wood.
The cold ashes from any hardwood fire can be converted into lye. Lye made from fire ashes is not as caustic as commercially purchased lye. Any large wooden, plastic, or clay container may be used, such as a huge flower pot. A deep container is better than a wide container. The container should have a hole in its bottom center and that is why a flower pot is perfect. Do not use a container made of tin or aluminum because lye is caustic and it will react with these materials. (Note: Or you could use a container with a side-mounted water valve, such as a 5-gallon water jug.)
For example, I use a clay flower pot that has a 9 inch outside diameter top, a 5.5 inch outside diameter bottom, and it is 9 inches tall, with sides and a bottom that is 0.25 inch thick. When packed with cold ashes to within 2.5 inches of its top, it holds approximately 145 cubic inches (about 10 cups) of tightly packed cold ashes. Ten cups of tightly packed cold ashes will yield one-gallon of average strength brown lye water. Tightly packed means the loose ashes were pressed down firmly into the cup. If you use a different size container, then you should do the math to determine how much average strength brown lye water you will get from your container.
Caution: Lye water is caustic and it will burn your skin. Be extremely careful and wear rubber gloves and wear goggles when handling lye water. If possible, lye water should be made outdoors.
Firmly pack a layer of straw, or brown pine needles, or sand about one-inch deep in the bottom of the container to help keep the ashes inside the container. Firmly pack cold ashes from any hardwood fire on top of the bottom layer. Slope the top surface of the ashes slightly from the sides of the container to its center to help direct the water flow to the center of the container. Tightly pack the ashes to within two to three inches of the top of the container, depending on the size of the container. This empty top space is necessary to receive and hold the hot rainwater when it is first poured into the top of the container.
Place the large container on top of concrete blocks, bricks, or any other type of support so a second smaller container (at least one-gallon or four-quarts) can be placed beneath the center of the upper pot to catch the brown lye water as it drips through the hole in the bottom of the upper pot.
Rainwater is the best water for making brown lye water because it is soft and it contains no minerals or chlorine. Several easy ways to collect large quantities of rainwater can be found on my web site at: How to Find Water and Make It Safe to Drink.
(Note: If you do not have access to rainwater, then you may use the steam distilled water sold at most grocery stores. Steam distilled water is chlorine and mineral free water. Instructions for making steam distilled water are also included in the above water article on my web site.)
Your objective is to make approximately one-gallon of brown lye water from one fresh batch of cold hardwood fire ashes. Heat about one-half gallon of rainwater to boiling and then slowly pour it over the ashes in the upper container. If the ashes were packed down firmly they should not be swimming or floating in water. While the rainwater gradually disappears into the ashes, heat another one-half gallon of rainwater and then slowly pour it over the ashes. Wait about one-hour and then heat another one-half gallon of rainwater and slowly pour it over the ashes. Wait about one-half hour. If your brown lye water container has about one-gallon of brown lye water then you may stop. If you do not yet have one-gallon of brown lye water, then heat another one-half gallon of rainwater and slowly pour it over the ashes. When you have finished you will have poured a total of approximately 1.5 to 2 gallons of hot rainwater into the pot of ashes. It may take a little while for the water to make its way through the ashes and out the hole in the bottom of the upper container. Be patient. The liquid that drips into the smaller container on the ground will be brown lye water. 1.5 to 2 gallons of hot rainwater will yield approximately one-gallon of brown lye water. (Note: The ashes will absorb and retain between one-half to one gallon of rainwater, depending on the size and shape of your container and how tightly you packed down the ashes in the container. Discard the used ashes after you have extracted one-gallon of brown lye water. If you need more brown lye water, then use a fresh batch of hardwood fire ashes to extract your next gallon of brown lye water.)
Wear rubber gloves and goggles when handling the brown lye water because it is caustic and it will burn your skin if it comes in contact with your skin. If you get some lye water on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water.
If necessary, the brown lye water can be stored in a safe container, such as a stainless steel pot with a lid, or a glass jar with a lid. However, the best procedure is to use the brown lye water immediately to make soap.
(Note: There are several different methods for testing the strength of the brown lye water but none of them are necessary. There is no reason to complicate the soap making process by attempting to get the brown lye water to a specific strength prior to using it to make soap. If your lye water is at the recommended average strength, then you will make a good all-purpose soap. However, if your lye water is a little stronger than average then you will produce a good laundry soap. If your lye water is a little weaker than average then you will produce a good bath soap. Therefore don’t be too concerned about the strength of your brown lye water. You will need both laundry soap and bath soap, and you will be making soap frequently if you are out of soap. Therefore you can tolerate a little variability in the strength of your brown lye water. Besides, you will be boiling off most of the brown water anyway before you use it to make your soap.)
(Note: Some recipes recommend that you pour the brown lye water through the same batch of ashes several times in order to increase the strength of the lye water. This procedure has marginal value. The first extraction of the lye from the ashes will remove most of the usable lye from the ashes. Trying to squeeze a little more lye out of ashes that have already been seriously depleted of their lye is just not practical. On the other hand, a single extraction of lye from each new set of ashes will yield brown lye water that is of approximately the same strength each time, and this will result in a more predictable soap making process that can be replicated over and over again. From a quality control perspective, this means the process will have less total variation and therefore it should yield a product that is more consistent from one batch to the next. When you have a consistent stable process, it is easier to fine tune the process and improve the quality of your finished product.)
There are three methods for making soap from the brown lye water as follows:
Method 1 - Brown Lye Water: Some soap making recipes recommend using the brown lye water in the same strength as it was originally created when the rainwater was poured through the ashes. This method requires a much larger soap making pot and it also adds several hours to the soap stirring process. This is the traditional method that was used in the 1800’s and it is the method that is still used today in many third-world countries. If you have a really, really old soap making recipe, then this is probably the method it describes. The major difficulty with this method is that it requires considerable skill and experience to consistently produce usable soap. Relatively minor mistakes or poor timing when using this method will result in a batch of nasty stuff that is neither soap nor anything else worth using. That is the reason this method was abandoned by our ancestors when commercial lye crystals became available at the local hardware and general store. Lye crystals significantly reduced the time required to make soap and they also yielded consistent batches of good usable soap.
Method 2 - Lye Crystals: Some modern soap making recipes recommend boiling down the brown lye water until nothing remains except lye crystals, and then saving the lye crystals in a safe container for future use. Later, when you want to make soap, you add the lye crystals to a little fresh rainwater and make fresh lye water. This method adds an unnecessary step to the soap making process and it does involve some danger when reconstituting the lye crystals into lye water. (Note: These homemade lye crystals are very similar to the lye crystals that were once widely available at most hardware and grocery stores. However, it is no longer possible to purchase lye crystals at the grocery store because they were withdrawn from the market because they were being used to make illegal drugs.)
Method 3 - Concentrated Brown Lye Water: This is the method I developed out of necessity, and it is much more practical than either of the above two methods. Boil one gallon of normal strength brown lye water down into 3/8 cup of concentrated brown lye water. If you boil the brown lye water down before you use it in a soap recipe, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to stir the soap mixture by several hours. This also simplifies the trial and error method of combining the lye water and the grease and it significantly reduces the possibility of making a failed batch of unusable soap. If you start with one-gallon (16 cups) of original strength brown lye water, then it usually takes between 3 to 4 hours to boil it down to 3/8 cup of concentrated brown lye water, depending on the amount of heat used. This means you will have reduced the subsequent old fashioned soap stirring procedure by at least 3 to 4 hours. As the water gradually boils away, the boiling process begins to proceed faster and faster because there is less water remaining in the pot. By the time the water is down to one-quart or less, it boils away very quickly so you will then need to watch it carefully to make sure you don’t boil off all your water. (Note: If you make a mistake and boil the one-gallon of brown lye water down into less than 3/8 cup of concentrated brown lye water, then wait until the concentrated brown lye water cools a little bit, and then add just enough rainwater to return the concentrated brown lye water to the 3/8 cup mark. Add the rainwater slowly and be careful because the mixture may sputter a little bit.)
(Final Note: The Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe that I developed through trial and error specifies the use of the concentrated brown lye water made by following Method 3 above. However, as mentioned previously, most really old soap making recipes recommend putting the brown lye water and grease into a big pot and cooking it over a big fire for several hours and stirring it while it cooked. The reason for the big fire was because they were using original strength brown lye water that contained too much water to make soap. Therefore they had to boil the water off and this frequently resulted in a failed batch of soap, or a batch of soap that was gritty, lye heavy, and of very poor quality. If you follow my Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe at the beginning of this article, you will notice that it is not necessary to cook the soap mixture. The reason is because the brown lye water has already been boiled down to the correct ratio of water to grease using Method 3 above. If a person does not know about Method 3 then he or she will probably invest a lot of time and energy in a multitude of unsuccessful attempts to make soap, and repeat the very same mistakes our ancestors did in the 1800’s before the invention and sale of commercial lye crystals.)

A brief summary of the most important critical information from "Grandpappy's Homemade Soap Recipe" is as follows:
A. Boiled rainwater poured through ten cups of tightly packed ashes from a hardwood fire will yield one gallon of average strength brown lye water.
B. One gallon of average strength brown lye water should be boiled down to 3/8 cup of concentrated brown lye water.
C. 3/4 cup of concentrated brown lye water should be mixed with 2 cups of warm grease which was made from melting (rendering) almost any type of animal fat.
D. When stirred the lye and grease will combine together in a chemical reaction to make soap. This normally takes between 30 minutes to 3 hours. The soap mixture must be kept above the melting point of the type of animal fat you are using.
E. When the soap mixture traces, pour it into a mold and let it rest for one to seven days, depending on the type of animal fat or oil used. Then remove the soap from the soap mold.
F. Air dry the soap for another 2 to 6 weeks. The chemical reaction will then be 100% complete and all the lye and grease will be gone. The lye and grease will have been converted into homemade soap.
The major contributions this article adds to the body of knowledge about soap making are items A, B, and C above. Items D, E, and F can be found in any good soap making book and at a variety of Internet web sites, with both minor and major variations.

Knowing how to consistently and successfully make soap from rainwater, campfire ashes, and animal fat takes you one step closer to becoming an independent resourceful human being in God’s natural order of things.

After being scared Schumerless by the potential US economy meltdown and reading various related posts on SurvivalBlog, I finally took the plunge and purchased some junk silver coins. Since I plan to store these at home rather than a bank safe deposit box (because of potential accessibility problems), would you please recommend a strategy for storage. I'm assuming a small, somewhat hidden, safe bolted to the floor/wall would be reasonable. Any recommendations? Thanks, - Russ S.

JWR Replies: Unless you already own a large home vault--such as a gun vault--I recommend that you construct one or more secret caches in your house. If the weight is modest, you can simply hide a bag or box of silver coins under the insulation in your attic. Keep in mind that it will probably be resting on top of horizontal ceiling sheetrock, so keep the weight under 15 pounds!

To conceal up to 200 pounds of silver, you can make a Rawles "Through The Looking Glass" Wall/Door Cache. Even someone with just rudimentary skills can make one of these "between the studs" wall caches. These are simple to construct, and will go un-noticed by all but the most astute and methodical burglars. Here is how even someone inexperienced with carpentry can do so, in typical North American wood frame houses--with modern sheetrocked walls: Pick out a section of sheetrocked interior partition wall in a bedroom where a wall-mounted mirror wouldn't look out of place. Go to your local home "Big Box" store such as Home Depot or Lowe's and buy a vertical mirror that is at least 16 inches wide, and 4+ feet tall. (Ideally, you should get one that is the the same width as your wall's stud interval, so that the mirror mounting screws will attached the sheetrock into the studs. Such mirrors typically come with a set of L-shaped mounting clips that attach to a wall or door with screws. Figure out where any wiring might be running through the wall. Typically it will run horizontally, about 1 foot up from the floor, parallel with your power outlets. Do not pick a section of wall that is near a light switch, since vertical wires may be running though those wall sections. Plan to mount mirror at least 6 inches above the wiring. Look for small indentations, puckers, or other signs of nails attaching the sheetrock. These will typically be centered either 18" or 24" apart. If you can't spot the nails or screws you can either buy or borrow an inexpensive magnetic stud finder--a little magnet-on-a-pivot gizmo that reacts when you pass it over a nail head or drywall screw head. (A bit of judicious tapping to hear pitch changes can also be helpful.) The nails will be driven into vertical studs, and it is between two 2"x4" studs that you will cut your cache hole. It will provide you a caching space that is about 15" wide and 3-1/2" deep.

Once you've estimated where the studs are, drill some small exploratory holes in the sheetrock, at a sharp angle. Probe inside the hole with a length of coat hanger wire to confirm where the vertical studs are located, and whether or not there are any horizontal 2"x4" fire stop blocks. (Those are typically half way up each wall.) Then, with a power jig saw or a SawzAll, cut a hole (or holes) to provide access to the wall cache dead space. Leave at least 2 inches of sheetrock width around the hole that will be covered by the mirror. Remove any insulation from the cache area, and vacuum out the sheetrock dust. Place your valuables in the cache. If there is substantial weight, do not rest it directly on top of any wiring at the bottom of the cache. (You should first cut a support block out of 2x4 block and screw it in place with drywall screws.) Then neatly mount the mirror over the hole, measuring carefully and/or using a level so that the mirror will be mounted straight up and down. Accessing the cache will just take a few minutes to remove the mirror mounting screws. (Or about 10 seconds (rip!) with a claw hammer if you need to Get Out of Dodge in a real hurry.) If you need to access the cache frequently, you'll find that if the screws are screwed only into sheetrock and not into studs behind, then the screw holes in the sheetrock will become enlarged and the screws will eventually loosen. If that happens, you can install anchor bolts behind most of the screws. (Remember, I mentioned leaving at least a 2 inch overlap. You will need that width of sheetrock to support the anchor bolts.) Oh, by the way, the same technique can be used to created a similar--albeit more shallow--cache inside a hollow core bedroom door. One neat trick with a door cache is to only remove the top mirror mounting brackets when you access the cache. With those removed and the door slightly open you can simply slide the mirror up to reveal the cache opening.

The next WRSA shoot is in Douglas,Wyoming, this weekend (August 25-26.). Don't miss this opportunity for some great rifle training at a very reasonable price!

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Frequent content contributor DAV mentioned this article: Panic in U.S. money markets! by Marty Weiss and Mike Larson.

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We read that Counrtywide Home Loans is having "difficulties." I predict that lots of other home mortgage lenders will face similar "difficulties" in the near future. In a year, many of them will be history. As I've said before, the only folks in the real estate industry that hat will fare well in the next few years will be foreclosure specialists.

"Frankly, dear public, you are being robbed. This may be put crudely, but at least it is clear." - Frederic Bastiat, Economic Sophisms

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The high bid is now at $150 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. The auction ends on September 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

How to Make Special Types of Soap using Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe:

All-Purpose Soap and Bath Soap:
Use 50% beef tallow and 50% pork lard in Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe.

Facial Soap:
Use 25% beef tallow and 75% pork lard in Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe to make a soft facial soap.

Laundry Soap:
Use 100% beef tallow in Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe.

Soap Flakes:
To make soap flakes, rub a bar of hard soap made from 100% beef tallow (or any other hard fat) over a vegetable or cheese grater (shredder).

Soap Powder:
To make soap powder, dry the above soap flakes for 10 to 12 minutes in a 160ºF oven and then pulverize the dry soap flakes.
Liquid Dish Soap or Laundry Soap or Hair Shampoo:
Add one-pound of soap flakes to one-gallon of boiling rainwater and boil for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir frequently. Then turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the liquid soap mixture into a storage container with a lid. The lid will prevent the mixture from drying out. This liquid soap mixture dissolves very quickly in hot water and it makes dish washing and clothes washing much easier. This procedure will also make a good hair shampoo if the original bar of soap was an all-purpose soap that contained an average amount of lye.
Saddle Leather Soap:
Old fashioned “saddle leather soap” is made by using five-parts beef (or bear) tallow and one-part pork lard in Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe.
Floating Soap:
Either of the following two methods will yield a bar of soap that floats on top of water:
Method 1: Just before Step Four, fold the soap mixture over onto itself several times and stir really well each time in order to add lots of air bubbles into the soap mixture. Then immediately pour the soap mixture into the soap molds.
Method 2: After all the grease and lye has been added in Step One, and the original mixture has been stirred for at least 15 minutes, then add one-teaspoon of ordinary baking soda to the soap mixture and stir really well.
Soap that Lathers and Makes Soap Bubbles:
At the very beginning of Step One, replace one-fourth of the grease with either olive oil or coconut oil. (Note: In my opinion, olive oil and coconut oil both have better uses than making soap bubbles.)
Other Soap Additives:
Kerosene ("coal oil"), ammonia, vinegar, Borax, sugar, milk, honey, and several other chemicals that are occasionally recommended as soap recipe additives provide minimal or no benefit, and may even have a minor negative impact. My suggestion is to not use any of them. However, if you wish to experiment with additives such as oatmeal or salt or Vitamin E, then I suggest you do so with a small batch of soap, and then verify for yourself that the advertised benefits actually materialize in the soap that you make, and that they don’t introduce other problems into the soap making process.

Volume or Weight:
Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe is based on volume (cups). As of August 2007, most other good soap making recipes are based on weight because of the variation in the weight to volume ratio of the different types of animal fats and vegetable oils that can be used to make soap. These other recipes are based on a very precise concentration of lye water made from commercial lye crystals. If you are working with two variables, and you can hold one variable constant, then it is not too difficult to predict the amount of the second variable that needs to be used. However, commercial lye crystals are no longer available, so it is not possible to easily control the lye variable as a constant in the soap recipe. For this reason I decided to use the easier method of measuring volumes (cups) of lye and grease instead of the more precise scientific method of using weights. When you are working with brown lye water made from campfire ashes, your lye water will be whatever strength it happens to be on the day you make it. If you use Grandpappy’s Homemade Soap Recipe then you will be very close to the correct ratio of water, lye, and grease that is required to make good soap. However, since there will be variations in the strength of your brown lye water, and variations in the type of animal fat you use, you may need to make minor adjustments towards the end of Step One depending on what you actually see in your soap making pot at that time. These minor adjustments are discussed as Problem One and Problem Two at the end of Step One in the recipe.

Mr. Rawles,
I live in northern New Hampshire and have been "prepping" for the last year. We will be staying in this area for various reasons that I have come to accept. However, my wife has agreed to consider a property in this same small town that would make a substantially better retreat. We currently own 16 acres but on a main state road. We are able to live off of this 16 acres, but my concern is from a defensive standpoint: It is too close to neighbors and the main road, and is just too accessible. We have almost no mortgage. We are considering a 50 acre piece with a small house at the end of a dead end private road, and which abuts an enormous woodlot. It can be heated 100% with wood, and has no close neighbors.
So here's the big question: do we take on about $200,000 debt for the retreat, or stay here and add to our guns/ammo/food supplies?
We have currently put away: a CAR-15 and 6,000 rounds ammo, two Glocks and 2,000 rounds, one year's freeze dried food supply for our family, and various other survival gear.
BTW, I have just recently found SurvivalBlog and also just received your novel "Patriots" in the mail. Thank you for organizing this and for the abundance of helpful information it provides. Thank You, - A.D.

JWR Replies: Unless you can move to a substantially safer locale, then in my opinion you are probably better off keeping your current property with minimal debt. You need to weigh the risks versus the benefits of buying the larger property. Ask yourself: How much more self sufficiency would 50 acres provide, versus the current 16 acres?. If you take on a new mortgage, what would the risk be that my bank will foreclose and my home away from me, in a slow-slide depression? (In circumstances where you cannot make your payments.) And, would the 50 acres under consideration offer true privacy? In a worst case societal collapse situation (as I describe in my novel), with hordes of displaced urbanite looters roaming the countryside, nowhere in New Hampshire will remain "hidden and overlooked" for too long. So an end-of the road 50 acre parcel may not be much of an improvement.

To make a viable retreat, you need to plan ahead to team up with other families to provide 24/7/365 (and 360 degree) security. As described in my novel, this will require substantial logistics. It will also mean buying some intrusion detection sensors and night vision gear. If you can't get firm commitments with the requisite purchasing commitments from other families in advance, then you will have to store food, cots, linens, garden tools, cold/foul weather gear, and so forth for them. Thus, your current "one year" food supply for your family can be seen as just a four month food supply for three families. Buy a lot more storage food. And buy plenty of heirloom gardening seed, too. Another item is of crucial importance: At least one member of your family should attend training at a top flight firearms training school such as Front Sight. (They can then come home and share what they learned with others.) Your money would be better spent on these preparations rather than sinking it into a larger retreat property.

You might consider taking some steps to make your current property less visible. One approach that takes more time than it does money is planting a staggered triple screen of fast-growing trees to block the view of your house and out-buildings from the county road. To be ready for a true WTSHTF situation--again, where you'd team up with one or two other families to defend your property--you might also consider constructing a pair of concrete pillbox LP/OPs overlooking either side of your house. These could be camouflaged with cord wood, to look like jumbled wood piles.

Reader Steve H. alerted us that a scan of a brochure from the Kelsey-Hayes Company, Detroit, Michigan for their pre-fabricated fallout shelters, circa 1963 is available for free download at,
This set includes scans from a Life magazine feature called "Fallout Shelters" from a September 1961 issue.

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Karen B. mentioned a couple of interesting low-budget do-it-yourself (DIY) projects featured at Build a solar water heater for under $5 and Get free air conditioning with a DIY heat exchanger

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Why is America falling apart? Ask Ayn Rand

"Far from being grateful defenders of the system from which they have profited, the children of capitalism tend to turn against it. Thus it is that radicals and even revolutionaries almost always stem from the middle and upper classes rather than the working class or the poor, in whose name they presume to speak. And thus it is that what is called liberalism today is increasingly identified with the more, rather than the less, prosperous sectors of American society." - Norman Podhoretz, Commentary editor, Harvard Business Review, 1981

Monday, August 20, 2007

The high bid is now at $90 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. The auction ends on September 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Today we present the first part of a three part article on soap making. It was written by Grandpappy, who you may remember as one of the winners of SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

During hard times sooner or later everyone runs out of soap.
To make soap you only need three things:
1. Rainwater,
2. Cold ashes from any hardwood fire, and
3. Animal fat from almost any type of animal, such as beef, pork, goat, sheep, bear, beaver, raccoon, opossum, groundhog, etc.
All soap consists of the above three ingredients in one form or another, and that includes bath soap, dish soap, laundry soap, and hair shampoo.
Soap is not difficult to make and it does not require any special equipment. And soap can be made from things that exist in large quantities in nature, and which are typically discarded as being of little value (rainwater, campfire ashes, and animal fat). Therefore, a person who knows how to make good soap could provide his or her family with a small but steady income during hard times by making and selling soap. Soap requires no financial investment in raw materials, and therefore it does not require the advance purchase and storage of inventory before the hard times occur.
Soap is a “perfect consumer product” for the following five reasons:
1. soap is a legal product,
2. everyone everywhere uses soap,
3. soap is completely used up in a short period of time,
4. when people run out of soap they want to buy more, and
5. soap is relatively low in price so almost everyone can afford it.
In my opinion, soap is one of the basic necessities of life for the following five reasons:
1. Personal hygiene: Good health is maintained by washing your hands before eating and by taking a bath on a regular basis.
2. Laundry: If your clothes get really filthy then they will collect lots of germs and those germs will eventually attack your body and you will get sick. During hard times families with small babies quickly revert back to cloth baby diapers that require a really good cleaning before being reapplied to the baby’s bottom.
3. Dish washing: If your eating utensils are not clean then it won’t be long before you get sick from the microscopic organisms that collect and grow on your dishes.
4. Wound care and other medical situations: Even small wounds can get infected and become life threatening if they are not properly cleaned with soap at the earliest possible opportunity.
5. Disease control: Soap is extremely valuable in preventing the spread of diseases because you can wash the bed sheets, clothes, and eating utensils of the sick person, and you can also give the sick person a daily bath or cleaning to help neutralize any germs on the sick person’s body.
In developed countries most people take soap for granted until they don’t have any, just like they take water, canning salt, socks, and shoes for granted. When their soap is all gone people suddenly realize how important it really was. Regardless of how much soap you may have stored for an emergency situation, it will eventually be used up. At that time it would be useful if you knew how to make really good soap from rainwater, campfire ashes, and animal fat.
The major difference between commercial soap and homemade soap is that homemade soap does not lather or produce soap bubbles. However, soap bubbles are only for visual appeal. Bubbles do not increase the cleaning power of soap. (Note: It is possible to add bubbles to homemade soap and that procedure will be explained below.)
(Note: Soap making lye crystals have been withdrawn from the market because they were being used to make illegal drugs. Therefore, if you have an existing soap recipe it will probably be of limited value because you can no longer purchase lye crystals at your local grocery store or hardware store. However, if you follow the instructions below you can still make good soap using lye water made the old fashioned way.)
A cook pot made of stainless steel, or cast iron, or enamelware, or heat-tempered glass, or a clay-fired cooking pot. Aluminum and tin and Teflon coated pots are not acceptable because the soap making lye will adversely react with these materials. The cook pot should be at least twice the size of the batch of soap you intend to make. Generally, a one-gallon or four-quart cook pot will be more than adequate as a soap making pot. (Note: You may use the same pot for soap making and cooking. Just wash the pot when you are finished making soap. Some soap recipes suggest having a special pot just for soap making but this is not necessary, in my opinion. You are just making soap in the pot, and it will be the same soap you use later to wash the pot after you cook a meal.)
A long spoon made of stainless steel or wood. If necessary, an old wood broom handle or a big stick may be used to stir the soap if nothing else is available.
A glass measuring cup. You can use a plastic measuring cup but the concentrated brown lye water may permanently discolor the inside of the measuring cup. (Note: If you don’t have a measuring cup, then use approximately 2.5 times the amount of melted grease as concentrated brown lye water.)
Some type of mold to pour the soap mixture into so it can harden into a bar of soap. For example, you could make a soap mold out of a large empty kitchen matchbox by lining it with plastic food wrap. Or you could use the small black plastic serving trays that contain frozen dinner meals, such as a single serving lasagna meal. The soap mold container should be at least 1 to 1.5 inches deep.
A thermometer is optional because soap was made for centuries before the thermometer was invented. If you wish to use a thermometer, then select a cooking or meat or candy thermometer that will show temperatures from a minimum of 70ºF to at least 140ºF. An instant-read thermometer works exceptionally well.
Almost anyone can make good soap if he or she has a little patience and is willing to begin on a small scale in order to gain practice and experience.

(Yields two large eleven-ounce bars of soap or a total of 22 ounces of soap by weight. This is equivalent to approximately four normal bars of store-bought soap.)
3/4 cup of concentrated brown lye water. Normal strength brown lye water can be made by pouring rainwater through the cold ashes of any hardwood fire. Detailed instructions for making concentrated brown lye water are at the end of this article.
Two cups of melted grease. Any type of animal fat may be melted into grease, such as beef, pork, lamb, goat, bear, beaver, opossum, raccoon, groundhog, etc. Only use the fat because lean meat will not make soap. Do not use any lean meat. Ordinary vegetable oil or grease may be used instead, but vegetable oil or grease has more valuable uses than making soap. Detailed instructions for melting animal fat into grease are at the end of this article. Beef tallow is a hard fat and it makes a hard soap that cleans really well. Pork lard is a soft fat and it may be used in a ratio of up to 75% with a hard fat. A mixture of half-tallow and half-lard is usually recommended to achieve a good all-purpose soap. (Note: If you do not have access to animal fat, then you can ask the employees in the fresh meat section of your local grocery store if they have any beef fat or pork fat for sale.)
(Note: You should reduce the above quantities by one-half when you first attempt to make soap. This will give you the opportunity to gain confidence and experience on a small scale. You may use the above quantities, or any multiple thereof, for future soap making efforts depending on how much soap you wish to make in one batch.)


STEP ONE: Mix the concentrated brown lye water and the grease, stir thoroughly, and give the chemical reaction between 30 minutes to 3 hours to gradually take place. Be patient.
This is the most important step in making soap.
The concentrated brown lye water (or lye crystals) used in soap making can hurt you. Be careful when handling the lye. Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from the lye. If some lye solution gets on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water. Lye is caustic and it will permanently disfigure Formica counter tops, kitchen tables, and other nice furniture, even if you wipe it off the surface immediately. Be careful when handling lye and do not let it splash or spill or bubble over onto your kitchen furniture or onto your floor.
Concentrated brown lye water is normally used at room temperature unless the room is unusually cool or cold (below 75ºF). If necessary, heat the concentrated brown lye water to between 80ºF to 130ºF in a separate cook pot. The temperature is not critical as long as it is not too hot. The purpose of using warm lye water is to help maintain a warm soap mixing temperature inside the soap mixing pot.
Put the grease into a separate small melting pot and then put the pot on the stove over very low heat. Do not heat the grease to the smoking point. If you see smoke then you are burning the grease. Melt all the grease and then allow it to cool back down to 90ºF for pork lard, or to 130ºF for beef tallow, or to 110ºF for a combination of tallow and lard. Do not allow the grease to harden while it is waiting to be added to the soap mixture. The grease must be melted when it is added to the soap mixture, and it should be relatively warm. The temperature does not have to be exact, but the grease must be warm and fully melted.
Pour one cup of the melted grease into the big soap making pot. Slowly pour 3/8 cup of the concentrated brown lye water into the soap making pot. Stir the mixture for three-minutes. The mixture will look like brown soup with white streaks in it. Add another cup of grease and another 3/8 cup of concentrated brown lye water and stir thoroughly and continuously for about 15 minutes. The grease and lye must be completely and thoroughly blended together to make soap. If the mixture is not thoroughly blended then the mixture will separate later and you will not get a good soap.
(Note: You can use a manual hand-cranked blender to speed up the mixing process and reduce the amount of time it takes for the chemical reaction between the grease and the lye to be completed. However, this method does require a little practice and experience because it can also result in what is called a “false trace” which is described in Step Two below.)
(Note: If you increase the original recipe to make larger batches of soap, you should still slowly and gradually mix the grease and concentrated brown lye water together at the rate of one cup of grease to 3/8 cup of concentrated brown lye water until all the grease and lye water has been added to the soap making pot. By adding the ingredients gradually and mixing thoroughly each time, you can avoid a separation problem later in the process.)
When you are not stirring the soap mixture, cover the soap mixing pot with a towel to help conserve the heat inside the mixing pot. Remove the towel if you need to add a little heat to the mixing pot, and then replace the towel when you turn off the heat.
This part of the soap making process normally takes between thirty minutes to three hours if you are using grease made from animal fat. During this time the soap mixture needs to remain slightly warm and just above the temperature at which the grease normally hardens. This is where an instant read thermometer is useful. If the mixture begins to cool too quickly, then add just a little bit of heat to the soap mixing pot until the temperature of the soap mixture is between 90ºF to 130ºF, depending on the type of grease you are using (pork lard melts at 85ºF and beef tallow melts at 125ºF), and then turn off the heat.
(Note: Do not cook the soap mixture and do not heat it to the boiling point. Although additional heat will speed up the chemical reaction it can also cause potential separation problems later in the process.)
Be patient and wait for the chemical reaction to gradually take place at its very slow normal speed. Once every ten or fifteen minutes stir the soap mixture vigorously for one-minute to facilitate a more complete mixing of the lye and the grease. Vigorous stirring means fast and smooth stirring. Do not splash the soap mixture onto the sides of the mixing pot. When you begin stirring the mixture after a ten or fifteen minute rest, you will notice that the brown lye water and the grease are still partially separated because you will be able to see streaks of color in the soap mixture as you stir. However, as you stir vigorously for one minute you should attempt to combine the lye and grease into a solid color so there are very few or no streaks in the mixture. Then you may stop stirring and wait for another ten or fifteen minutes.
Each time you make a new batch of soap you may or may not encounter one of the following two problems. These problems may occur because your concentrated brown lye water may be just a little stronger or a little weaker than what you used in your previous batch of soap. You may also encounter one of the following problems if you use a different type of animal fat, or combination of animal fats, than you normally use. The exact amount of concentrated brown lye water that is required will be slightly different depending on the type of animal fat you are using.
Problem One: If a layer of grease forms on top of the mixture, then check the temperature of the soap mixture and make sure it is above the temperature that the grease normally solidifies, which is 125ºF for 100% beef tallow, or 85ºF for 100% pork lard, or 110ºF for a 50-50 blend of tallow and lard. If the top layer of grease is simply due to a cold soap mixture, then heat the mixture just a little bit and stir the grease back into the mixture. However, if the soap mixture was already at a reasonably warm temperature, then heat the soap mixture just a little, then turn off the heat, and then add 5% more of the concentrated brown lye water, and stir the soap mixture thoroughly for ten minutes.
Problem Two: If the mixture does not thicken properly after three hours, then heat the soap mixture just a little, then turn off the heat, and then add 10% more melted warm grease, and stir the warm grease thoroughly into the soap mixture for ten minutes.
(Note: It takes time for the concentrated brown lye water and the grease to combine together chemically to make soap. Depending on the type of animal fat or grease you are using, it may take as much as twenty-four hours. If you are using vegetable grease or oils, it can take several days. The most difficult part of Step One is to be patient if the chemical reaction is going slowly, and not ruin your batch of soap by adding too much lye water or too much grease in an effort to get the soap mixture to Step Two more quickly. Waiting patiently does not hurt the chemical reaction. Adding too much of the wrong thing can upset the chemical balance.)
When the soap mixture is a solid cream or solid light brown color that displays no streaks when it is first stirred after a ten-minute rest, and it is the consistency of thick gravy or soft pudding, then you can test it using one of the methods in Step Two below.

STEP TWO: Verify the soap mixture is warm enough and that it is ready to be poured into the molds using one (or both) of the following two test methods.
The grease will gradually thicken if the temperature of the soap mixture gets too low. This will make you will think the chemical reaction is complete, when in fact it is not. This is called a “false trace.” Therefore you must verify the soap mixture is still above the melting point of whatever grease you are using before you test the mixture using either (or both) of the following two methods. The minimum soap mixture temperature is 125¬∫F for 100% beef tallow, or 85¬∫F for 100% pork lard, or 110¬∫F for a 50-50 blend of tallow and lard. If your soap mixture temperature is above the minimum, then it is ready to be tested.
(Note: If the soap mixture is below the minimum temperature, or if you do not have a thermometer, then add a little heat to the soap mixture and see if the soap mixture melts back into a fat and lye solution that separates into different colors when stirred gently. If the mixture does show streaks of different colors, then continue to add very low heat for two minutes, stir the mixture vigorously, and then turn off the heat and cover the pot with a towel and return to the instructions for Step One.)
Test Method One: Use a spoon to lift a little of the soap mixture about one-inch above the top surface of the mixture, and then allow one drop to fall back onto the top of the mixture. If the surface of the mixture will support the drop for a moment, then the soap is done.
Test Method Two: Try to draw a medium thick line in the top of the soap mixture with the front tip of your spoon. If you can see the line, then the soap is done. This is called “tracing.”
(Note: When the mixture “traces” the chemical reaction between the lye and the grease is approximately 90% complete. However, the final 10% will happen very, very slowly and it will take another 3 to 7 weeks. The soap will not be ready for use until the chemical reaction has been 100% completed.)

STEP THREE: (Optional Step) - Add Color and Fragrance.
If you wish, you may add color and/or fragrance at this time. However, in my opinion, it is generally not worth the effort. Soap is a consumable item and when it is used up it is gone. Investing time and energy to make the soap more colorful or more fragrant has marginal value if you are simply going to use your soap yourself. On the other hand, if are considering the sale of your soap for a profit then color, shape, and smell are important marketing factors. However, do not use commercial perfumes or alcohol-based solutions. Adding a fragrance or color that is not compatible with the soap making chemical process may ruin your batch of soap. Pure essential oils or herbal solutions are preferred, if you chose to use them. Stir them thoroughly and completely into the soap mixture and then proceed to step 4.

STEP FOUR: Pour the soap into the soap molds and let the soap rest for seven days.
Any container can be used as a soap mold, such as cupcake pans, small boxes, or any other type of container. Lightly grease the inside of the containers. Or place aluminum foil or plastic food wrap inside a small cardboard box, such as an empty kitchen matchbox. The small black plastic serving trays that contain a frozen dinner meal, such as a single serving lasagna meal, make really nice soap molds if you wash them out first. The soap molds need to be at least 1 to 1.5 inches deep because the soap mixture needs to retain its heat during the initial phase of this step and if the mold is too shallow it will lose its heat too quickly.
In the old days our ancestors would use a thin damp towel to line the inside of whatever container they were using as a soap mold. When the soap finished curing, the towel permitted the easy removal of the soap from the mold.
Today the best way to line the inside of a mold is to use plastic food wrap. The plastic food wrap will not react with the soap while the chemical reaction continues to its completion, and it provides a very easy way to remove the soap from the mold when the soap is done.
The soap mixture should be above the minimum melting point temperature for the type of grease you are using.
Pour the warm soap mixture into the molds and then put the soap molds in a warm location.
Immediately cover the soap molds with a thick cloth or blanket to prevent the heat from escaping too quickly. Do not let the cloth or blanket make contact with the soap in the molds. The blanket should simply provide a cover to help keep the molds warm.
Allow the soap to rest in the soap molds for one day. Then remove the towel.
Let the soap continue to rest in the soap molds uncovered for six additional days.
If you peek at your soap during the first day while the soap is covered inside the molds, the soap may look strange depending on what stage of cooling the soap is in. Do not worry. Be patient and wait for the chemical reaction to run its normal course.
During most of this seven-day period the soap may be relatively soft and it will not have the hard consistency you expect from soap. This is normal. Remember to be patient.

STEP FIVE: After a total of seven days, remove the soap from the molds.
If you used a hard fat that melts at a higher temperature, such as beef, or goat, or lamb, then the soap will probably be firm enough to be easily removed from the molds. However, if you used a soft fat, such as pork, or some combination of soft fats such as chicken or pork mixed with a hard fat, then your soap may not be firm enough for it to be easily extracted from the molds. If your soap feels soft like a firm pudding then put it in the refrigerator for two hours and it should then be firm enough to be removed from the molds.
Turn the soap mold upside down and the soap should fall out, if the soap mold was lightly greased or if the mold was lined with aluminum foil or plastic food wrap. If the soap does not fall out of the mold, and you are using flexible plastic molds, then flex the sides and bottom of the mold to loosen the soap from the mold so it can release and fall out. If necessary, you can use a thin bladed knife to separate the soap from the sides of the mold and then gently help the soap out of the mold. (Note: If you used plastic food wrap to line the inside of your soap mold then you will not encounter this problem.)
If you wish to cut the soap into smaller bars, then use a sharp thin knife, such as a serrated steak knife, or use a thin fine wire to saw through the soap. At this time the soap should still be relatively soft, similar to cheese, and it can be divided into smaller sizes if you wish.
If there are any imperfections, lines, or tiny cracks in the exterior surface of the soap, you may smooth them out with your fingers at this time.

STEP SIX: Air dry the bar soap for 2 to 6 weeks.
After removing the soap from its mold, allow the bar soap to dry in a warm dry dark place for two to six weeks before using it. If you really need your soap, then you could start using it after the second week. But if you want the best possible soap, then allow it to air dry for the full six weeks.
Cover a dish or large serving tray with some plastic food wrap, and then stack your soap on the dish in a manner that will allow as much air as possible to reach each bar of soap. Do not stack one bar of soap directly on top of another bar of soap. Do not put the soap in direct sunlight or in a moist area. The longer the bar soap ages the harder it will become and the better it will perform when used as soap. During this time any remaining water in the soap will gradually evaporate, and any remaining lye will gradually blend in with the surrounding grease. However, if your soap is brown lye water heavy, then it will leak out of your soap onto the dish during the first day and you will see a small puddle of brown lye water around your soap. If this happens, then drain off the excess brown lye water so it does not have an opportunity to be reabsorbed into your current batch of soap. You should also consider the addition of about 10% more grease to your next batch of soap at the beginning of Step One.
After six weeks, put the bars of soap into an air-tight container, or wrap them in plastic wrap, or put them in a plastic food storage bag. Depending on your local climate conditions, this will either prevent the soap from drying out, or it will prevent the soap from absorbing moisture from humid air.
When you remove your bar of soap from storage it may have a thin layer of white powder on it, which is the result of the air reacting with any lye on the outside surface of the soap. This thin layer of powder will contain some lye and it needs to be removed from the surface of the soap. Just rinse the powder off and forget about it.
You may also discover that the first two or three times you use the soap to wash your hands that it does not work very well. This is because the soap needs a brief adjusting period after making its first initial contact with water. After the soap has been in brief contact with water a few times, and rubbed, and allowed to dry, it will start to behave like normal soap and clean very well, with one exception. Homemade soap does not lather the way ordinary store bought soap lathers. Bubbles are not necessary for a soap to be effective. Bubbles only add visual appeal.
(Note: If you are going to sell your soap for a profit, then you should dip the bar of soap in water and allow it to air dry several times to pre-condition the soap for your customers. This will help to reduce the number of customer complaints about your soap not working the way it should.)
You can test the quality of a finished bar of soap by shaving it with a sharp knife. If it crumbles, it contains too much lye, but it will still be very effective as a good laundry soap. Good all-purpose bar soap will curl slightly when shaved with a sharp knife blade. Keep a written record of your soap making results and make minor adjustments as required on your next batch of soap.

DAV flagged this piece of commentary from Edward Chancellor at The Washington Post: Look Out. This Crunch Is Serious. Meanwhile, writing in the Sovereign Society A-Letter, Kathlyn Von Rohr commented: "The sub-prime crisis that was "likely to be contained" according to Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke back in March - brought more havoc to Wall Street this week. Now that "financial market conditions have deteriorated," the Fed has changed its tune, as they chopped the discount rate yesterday." In my estimation this will get a whole lot worse before it gets better. The current crunch has essentially shut downthe major credit markets. That will create a shortage of working capital for manufacturers. Simultaneously, hearing all this bad the financial news, consumers are sure to tighten their belts. This spells recession, or possibly even depression if the panic spreads. Be ready.

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RBS sent us this link: Former US Marine Corps Presidential Helicopter Pilot, 71, Shoots Two Armed Robbers. I'd be happy to send him a autographed copy of my novel and some ammo to replace his expended rounds. If any SurvivalBlog readers have his address, let me know.

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Wally in Oregon notes that there was some looting unpleasantness following the recent big earthquake in Peru. Wally predicts that things similarly won't be friendly after an event of the same magnitude here in the States.

“By their own follies they perished, the fools.” - Homer, The Odyssey

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thanks to all of you that have visited our new spin-off site, If you know of anyone looking for a retreat property, please tell them about the site. Keep in mind that there are still a couple of remaining free ad spots for anyone with a retreat property to sell. We plan to have listings worldwide!


We poor individuals left stranded in Suburbia have a rough lot when it comes to making survival preparations. An easy trip down the expressway for the Golden Horde, enough ordinances, zoning restrictions, and association bylaws to hamper the efforts of even the most ingenious survivalist, long commutes, and the list goes on. Clearly, its best to get out while you can.
But for those of us stuck here, it makes sense to use whatever resources we have at our disposal, and one of the few areas we just might have the country folk beat is easy shopping.
I know that venturing out into public just on the brink of a societal collapse is a dangerous decision, but it is still a decision that must be made in view of the facts specific to the disaster at hand and your local conditions. Who among us can say he is so well prepared that he would not buy a single item if he knew there would be a coordinated EMP strike tomorrow? Even items unimportant from a survival perspective—a gallon of ice cream, a bottle of your wife’s favorite perfume, or quality violin strings-- gain new worth when you realize that you may never have an opportunity to buy that item again.
As I prepare to head off to college, I’d like to share a few points I’ve thought of while working at a major hardware store/warehouse as a stocker.
1. Beware the Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory system. I know this point has been belabored countless times on SurvivalBlog, but at my work we couldn’t even order stock ourselves—our store manager had to request special permission from corporate in any case not covered by the computer. Often, we would receive a shipment the day after we ran out of stock.
2. Get to know your stores. I cannot stress this point enough. If anyone honestly believes they’ll be able to walk into a panicked hardware store and quickly find the materials they need, they’re kidding themselves. At my work, no one can do that on a good day, not even contractors, and quite frankly, often not even employees.
3. Check the top stock/back stock. [JWR Adds: "Top Stock" is retailer terminology for the extra merchandise stored on upper shelves, usually right above each item's normal shelf location. The term "Back Stock" can vary, but generally refers to extra inventory kept a back room, although some retailers like Home Depot use it to refer to extra inventory kept in large unit boxes behind the normal inventory, on extra deep shelves. To add to the confusion, some other retailers use "Back Stock" to refer to merchandise kept in regional warehouses.] In some cases-- including gloves, propane, cleaning chemicals, and other important survival-oriented materials-- top stock outnumbered floor stock by as much as 20-to-1.
4. Unless people are edgy and armed, don’t be afraid to break unimportant rules. Go ahead, use the "Employees Only” ladder. If you keep your wits about you, look in the back stock. Stop thinking like you did before the disaster happened and do what you must to keep yourself and your family alive.
5. Plan your route in advance-- including alternate routes. Avoid attracting attention, travel in groups if there’s danger, split up if the danger is negligible, and go as heavily armed as is appropriate.
6. In some stores, it helps to get to know the employees. This one’s fairly simple, but in a life-or-death situation it just might make a difference to be the person who gets the last of the plywood, or the bottle of Cipro, or the slightly “irregular” ammunition the gun store owner locked away just in case.
There are many other instances where the very infrastructure we rightly fear as leading to our doom can also help us get out the door or barricade it with sandbags, so to speak. Public libraries. Pharmacies. Animal hospitals. Industrial and artisans’ workshops that may contain important materials. Churches, even (“Hey Pastor, mind if I borrow a few bibles? I have this feeling…”) Depending on the pace of the crash, all these places and more should be considered for one last “shopping spree,” especially by those unable to make these purchases now for financial reasons.
Of course, I welcome anyone else’s comments. God Bless, - Daniel C.

Mr. Rawles:
I am writing concerning the letter in which the gentlemen suggested using Enfield 2A Ishapores for Barter/Charity. In my opinion, you would be better off buying an SKS than an Enfield 2A Carbine. The SKS is cheaper at $179.95 (at AIM Surplus) compared to the Enfield at $229.95, and it comes with a bayonet. The SKS can be easily modified to accept 30rd magazines which are easily available, whereas the Enfield is limited to 10 rounds and the magazines are hard to come by. I have not been impressed with the ProMag Enfield 2A magazines. None of the ones I have ordered functioned properly. You would be better off buying a new factory production from Numrich. Furthermore, the price for 7.62 x 39 Russian is much cheaper than 7.62 NATO, and it is still a very potent calibre. Finally, SKSes are plenty reliable and plenty accurate, so you also don't lose anything there.

So for the same amount of money if you bought SKSes, you could arm more people with better weapons and give them more ammunition. I am not saying the Enfield 2A is a bad weapon, but I don't believe arming untrained neighbors is its optimal role. If you are worried about them taking their time for a shot, and not blowing through a whole magazine, then they were not trained very well. So if they were not trained very well, are you sure it matters if they take their time? As for barter, I think the SKS would also be more valuable because most people would rather have the semi-auto over the bolt and it looks meaner to the lay person. Just my two cents. Thanks, - Paul

JWR Replies: I stand by my assertion that equipping poorly trained volunteers with bolt actions is preferable to arming them with semi-autos. Granted, 7.62x39 costs only half as much as 7.62mm NATO. But if the volunteers from your "Neighborhood Watch on Steroids" get trigger happy when under pressure--and believe me, they will--they could easily expend five times as much ammunition, with not much to show for it other than a pile of brass. (There is something about a 30 round magazine in a semi-auto that just begs a newbie to pull the trigger rapidly.)

Here is a compromise to consider: How about equipping them with bolt action rifles chambered in 7.62 x 39 Russian? That way, they would benefit from lower recoil and less expensive ammunition. And again, the benefit is the ammunition-conserving bolt action. You could start with any small ring Mauser--even a pre-1899 production ("no paperwork") Model 1893, such as the Turkish contract Oberndorf Mausers available from The Pre-1899 Specialist. Then have your local gunsmith retrofit the Mauser with a carbine-length 7.62x39mm barrel, available from Numrich. If you had a big budget, you might even consider buying a few Remington Model 799s. (their hunting bolt action chambered for the AK round.) OBTW, SurvivalBlog readers in the firearms-deprived portions of the British Commonwealth might consider the Australian International Arms M10A1/A2 or perhaps an Enfield K to fill this same role.

And on a humorous note, speaking of the semi-auto versus bolt action debate, you might enjoy reading this comparison by the folks at of AR, AK, and Mosin Nagant owners. (A hat tip to Richard at KT Ordnance, for recommending it.)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was at my local public library and noticed they did not have a copy of your novel ["Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"]. I inquired of our head librarian and she agreed to order your book. As a matter of fact, she ordered it while I was chatting with her. Perhaps some more of your loyal readers would be willing to contact the many public libraries and ask them to order some specific books. They too might order your book as well as other preparedness books. Respectfully, - Happy Howie

JWR Replies: I appreciate that suggestion. In addition to my novel "Patriots", SurvivalBlog might consider requesting some of the books and DVDs listed in my Bookshelf page. (Starting with my "Must Read" list.) Having those in circulation locally might get some of your neighbors more motivated to prepare--or at least better informed.

John and Abigail Adams suggested this training video on the use of the Israeli field dressing.

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RBS thought that readers might enjoy reading this report from Afghanistan: 'I could feel the breeze as the bullets went by'

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Reader Nick M. alerted us to the fact that the Popular Mechanics August "Survive Anything" cover story (previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog) is now available on their Web site to read for free download. Nick's comments: "The series of articles discusses how technology has made humanity more comfortable, but how our reliance on it has also made us more susceptible to the wrath of nature. The article includes a lot of advice on emergency preparedness, and there are online extras including an audio slide show of tornado-town Kansas, disaster checklist, and preparedness quiz."

"The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." - Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice (Public Utilities Commission v. Pollack, 1952)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Whenever you contact a vendor mentioned in SurvivalBlog--whether or not they are one of our advertisers--please mention where you saw their name. Every bit of publicity helps. Thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
In response to your post replying to 'Marie R.' regarding Missouri as a retreat location; here is some information that other families on this blog may find interesting. I'm writing this as someone who has a wide venue of travel and associations across the country. I am a professional trucker, a licensed ham radio operator for over 35 years, and was employed in the defense electronics industry for many years. I have been preparing for TEOTWAWKI here in the mountains of the Arkansas Ozarks for some time.

With no disrespect to your research and personal choice(s) for retreats, one of the best kept secrets for quality living is the Arkansas-Missouri Ozarks. Our attributes have been many in this region for years and some improvement in the dynamics and demographics in recent times. In my opinion, the best area of Missouri is the area south of the I-44 corridor from about Joplin to Union, Missouri then a line south to the west of Poplar Bluff and back across the top of the Arkansas border. I agree with JWR on the population density issue especially considering Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas. Interstate 70 is the worst place to consider a SHTF bugout route (not that I-44 would be a cruise either).

The Arkansas/Missouri Ozarks is becoming a top choice for military and government retirees, combat veterans, and people desiring a wholesome, honest, environment to raise families.
We have 4 true seasons here. Gardens do well as long as you do them in raised beds (rocks we have!!), a natural food supply in wild game,all the fish you can catch, herbal plants, plenty of wood for heating/steam plant generation, natural springs, and of course the biggie, lots of water!

Real estate is still reasonable compared to other areas and more bargains on remote property will be had as the bubble continues to deflate. Within 25 miles of my homestead, I have alliances varying from a retired border patrol officer, numerous Navy/Coast Guard brass, to some persecuted souls of the 1990s patriot movement who survived and moved here. We need more informed, God fearing, like minded people here to help cement the communities. Missouri now has enacted the Castle Doctrine on self-defense and concealed carry is now becoming a reality. Governor Matt Blount has turned the state management/government in a more conservative direction and it appears that the big city liberals have been pushed into the corner. (At least for now.)

Do your research on Ozarks trees, wildlife, plants, culture and history and then come see what it's about. I think you will be pleasantly surprised regardless of the nuclear downwind issue. In reality, everyone could use a bomb shelter when the time comes. Like all preparedness, it's a decision. Thank You, - Skytower in Arkansas

Dear Jim and Family,

Its true that boiler maintenance and safety are a serious concern. As my wife is a rail fan (train chaser), she knows a bit, and knows people who know a lot more. One of these was kind enough to send me this info in his reply.

"Bear in mind that the great costs mentioned are all meant to get the boilers up to federal-mandated standards, i.e. extremely safe conditions. If you just want to get it to function, you don't have to do near as much work. The problem of course is that while under steam you have several thousand gallons of superheated water just looking for a breach in the boiler that will allow that water to expand something on the order of 1800 times in volume instantaneously. Boom.

While the concept of a steam engine is simple, its implementation grows more complex with its scale. How do you inject water into a vessel already at 250 psi? How do you preheat that cold water so that the thermal shock of the water entering the boiler doesn't fatigue and eventually crack it? How do you deal with the impurities in the water inevitably left behind as the
water evaporates and departs as steam? There are systems designed to take care of all of that, but that's just more hardware to break and

The only restrictions on track depend on the particulars of the engine -- the curves shouldn't be too tight for its wheelbase and the bridges should be strong enough to support it.

My thoughts center on use of stainless steel (including the new cheap nitrogen impregnated stainless steel) listed as Nickel-free stainless 404GP and 445M2 alloys.

Cheap stainless changes the entire equation on affordable and reliable steam since you end the spalling problem in the firebox. There's still quite a few old steam engineers running around, as well as enthusiasts restoring and running old engines they buy for a $1 and "please remove this from my property" from the former owner, often a lumber yard with a railroad spur somewhere in the back. Steam fitters and boilermakers unions have men capable of welding up pressure vessels. They need the plans, but rail fan associations typically have those, as well as in archives of existing railroads. Despite the company reputation, the people working there aren't all ba****ds. Many genuinely love trains, and most will keep them running, though the legal issues of running excursions on active lines is a major regulatory headache. Think of railroad companies being massively burdened with regulations and you'll sympathize with their headaches.

The original discussion was regarding restoration of old engines and using them to haul people around. That's a good idea, for style if nothing else, but not the best idea for function. If you build steam engines from the ground up, there's a degree of sense in using hybrid techniques, as hybrid trains came decades before hybrid cars. A hybrid steam engine running an electric motor and batteries would resolve a lot of those pressure, maintenance, and safety issues affecting traditional piston train engines. If any mechanical engineers are reading, give some thought to designing a modern steam engine with the advantages of cheap stainless steel, modern pressure vessels, steam turbines, and automatic relief valves, and an eye towards multiple fuels, from low quality oil, coal, and even firewood if need be. Thanks to Peak Oil, trains are our best bet to offer some shipping between cities and towns, and local transport of goods and people. I think there's a great deal of merit in this, and a real future with them, despite their initial hurdles. Best, - InyoKern

Our friend Nick recommended this article by Douglas MacKinnon at The Two Things To Know Before Your City is Nuked By Terrorists

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My thanks to "J", who gave a prominent plug for SurvivalBlog over at The Rumor Mill News Reading Room.

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Alphie sent us this one: NYPD Warns Of Homegrown Terror Threat

"A legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law." - Justice John Marshall (1755-1835) US Supreme Court Chief Justice

Friday, August 17, 2007

We are pleased to announce the launch of a SurvivalBlog spin-off web site, Be sure to check it out. You will find that it is a truly unique web site. All of the properties there are suitable for survival retreats. You will see no urban or suburban properties, no time shares, no condos, and no McMansions on postage stamp-size lots. This is a pleasant change from searching typical Internet real estate sites, where finding a survival retreat is like finding a needle in a haystack. The properties featured at will come from both licensed agents and "For Sale by Owners" (FSBOs.) I personally review and approve each property for its survival retreat potential before it is posted. Most of the legwork for the new site is being handled by Todd Savage, a real estate agent that I know and trust. His office is in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. And not coincidentally, Idaho is my top choice for relocation and survival retreats. To get the new site off to a fast start, advertising during the first three months is available free of charge, but only for the next six individuals or agents that submit listings.

Further to my recent post about the recent flooding In the UK, things in the immediate area are pretty well back to normal now, aside from some continuing disruption to the road network due to land-slips, undermining and in some cases, bridges across water courses being washed away.
Here, we got off very lightly, compared to some. No loss of life, no injuries, very little property damage. There are many families, however, who will be counting the cost of this incident for a long time, both in terms of loss of loved ones and of property and livelihood. One’s heart goes out to them.As to how our preparations ameliorated the effects of the flooding, I must first of all say we were very lucky to have escaped. The waters found their way into areas never before affected, with properties and farmland many feet above the normal floodplain levels being covered. In one case, a farm tractor in just such a place was up to its cab-roof in floodwater.
However, we moved to this area for work purposes in 1999. Prior to the move we rented a property in the area to give us a base from which to explore and familiarise ourselves with it.
The next task was to obtain 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey maps of the entire region and work out the pros and cons of each likely area for settlement.
To the east of this region lies the flat, productive lands of the Vale of Evesham which, as beautiful and fertile as they may be, are crisscrossed with so many waterways that the map of the area appears to have varicose veins. To the west the topography changes as it moves into the mountains of Wales, an area of stunning countryside, so well beloved of tourists in the summers, but one so bleak in winter that it is used by Special Forces as a training ground. [JWR Adds: This is the "Brecon Beacons" area that many SurvivalBlog have read about in books about the SAS.]
In-between the two the land becomes one of foothills, with small peaks up to a thousand feet or so.
The area has several cities, many towns and villages, with all the concomitant amenities and services along with a good transport infrastructure. It ticked many of the boxes we had earmarked as necessities.
It also has one of the most unstable rivers in Europe running through it; the River Severn. With its source in the hills of mid-Wales, the Severn is one of many local rivers that feed from the mountains of Wales and find their way to the sea further south in England after joining with the Severn.
Coming in from the east is the River Avon, of Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon fame. Another picturesque watercourse when in good humour, but truly frightening when in flood. This too joins the Severn as it moves west towards the sea.
Given all this water, the thought of joining the many flood-plain dwellers (does this name not give them a clue?) along these rivers did not have much appeal. Also not wanting to live in an urban environment, we ruled out the cities and larger towns. This led us to ‘head for the hills’ but given the additional need to be reasonably close to transport links due to work commitments, a compromise had to be reached.
We finally settled on (in?) the outskirts of a village in the foothills which had the requisite communication links and was high enough to avoid all but truly Armageddon-like flooding from the river system.
Being doomers by inclination and country folk by nature, we set about making the place as self-contained as possible given the constraints of time, money and the desire not to look out of place.
Water was a primary objective. Having invested so much time and effort trying to avoid it, we now installed a series of linked barrels to collect around 500 gallons of rainfall run-off from the various roofs. (The long term plan was to install underground storage but an impending move has forestalled this). This to be used in the summer for assisting with garden irrigation and for hygiene use should the need arise.
There is a mains supply of potable water, supplemented by bought bottled and spring water from the adjacent hills captured and stored in ex-military containers. (Again an underground cistern was planned).
When the recent floods hit, we found unprecedented amounts of rain had fallen (up to 131mm locally) in just over 24 hours and the subsequent run-off completely overwhelmed the drainage systems. It is not uncommon in these parts for the hill roads to turn into rivers after a storm, but the amount coming off the peaks was phenomenal. Due to our location on a hillside, we were in little danger of standing –floods, but fortunately had sandbagged the ventilation bricks and doorways to deal with the expected run off. Even so, the bags were in danger of being overtopped by the sheer volume of water. This caught us somewhat by surprise, never before had we needed to cover these points.
The mains water supply is electrically pumped throughout the area, so it is not unknown for it to fail when the power goes down. We had sufficient water available to deal with what was thankfully a short-term event. However, the provision of more capacity could only be a good thing especially in the event of a long term incident.Our electricity supply is mains provided, but due to local conditions is fairly unreliable, going off on average once a month. We have back-up for heating, cooking and lighting, with a variety of methods for providing for each. As well as propane heaters and cooking rings, we have wood stored and several camping style cooking sets using differing fuels. Lighting from candles, hurricane and Coleman lamps as well as the ubiquitous MagLites complete the list. Wind up radios are used to keep connected to news services.
This system works well for us in a bug-in situation, with some of the kit doubling for the bug-out bags, in which it is normally kept. It again worked this time and we are currently replenishing supplies ready for the autumn and winter weather.
We thought that given the predicted rainfall, bugging-in would be the best solution and this proved to be so. We also planned to be on site during the event as the lower surrounding area a re prone to flooding and we have been cut-off in the past. Had we been caught out of position, one or more of us would have been stranded. Cars were washed away by previously unheard of levels of rainfall and all exit routes were simply inundated. We have multiple exit routes planned and driven, but all were closed in a very short time.
Several staff members at one of our employers, who also live nearby, had to remain in the building for several days, unable to get out . Even if they could have escaped the building, they would have been unable to return to their homes due to the floodwaters.
Being aware of the potential for the area to become cut off by bad weather, we keep an above average level of consumables in. This includes foodstuffs, medications, hygiene materials etc. We keep little in freezers, having lost the contents once too often when power remained off too long. Most foods are either canned or dried and when the power does fail, we emulate the NCIS agents Jethro Gibbs and Kate Todd and eat the ice-cream before it melts!
When we could get from the property into the nearby town, we found the shelves of the shops were depleted of nearly everything. Some panic buying had apparently occurred, but this was also down to the inability to re-supply them as the entire area was cut off from road and rail links. The disturbing part about this was that this took no more than a couple of days for the shelves to empty. It seems that the ‘just-in-time’ approach also now applies to your local food store and those behind-the-shop front warehouses are no longer filled with more than a day or two’s goods.
What this would mean in a long term situation became all too obvious further down the Severn’s route as large scale efforts had to be mobilised to bring in bottled water and emergency food supplies to stranded people.

In summary, our initial site location work and subsequent ‘prepping’ served us well during this event, but if any of us had been caught out of position, or had we decided at the last minute to ‘bug-out’ as flood levels rose, we might well have found ourselves in a different situation.
No matter what precautions one takes, it is surely down to the Grace of God as to what happens and how well you fare. We are currently planning our next adventure, a move out of the UK to a small patch of land somewhere in the Mediterranean. The planning and preparation for this has been ongoing for several years. More on that in a future article. Keep safe. - Michael in England

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Regarding your recent comments on shotguns, I’d like to add the following opinion:
I own a gun shop and I get -many- people looking to buy their first shotgun. The first question I ask them (and probably a good question to ask ones self before making any purchase) is: “What do you intend to use it for?”. Different guns for different purposes. When they tell me they want an all around do everything shotgun (which is how the shy and low-key convey that they want a defensive shotgun), the choice usually come down to the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. Both are great shotguns. Both are used by the US military and both are found in law enforcement. Both have a fair bit of aftermarket parts and accessories (not all of them useful) available.
When customers ask me to choose between the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870, I go with the Remington.
Magazine capacity - A standard Mossberg 500 (the one sitting on my desk right now is a inventory gun, 500BB in 16 ga. with a cut down barrel to 21 inches) holds 5 rounds in the magazine. To put an extended magazine on this particular gun, one must replace the entire magazine tube (and it’s guts), as the existing one is closed on the muzzle end and has a threaded hole in the center that the barrel retaining nut (“magazine cap”) screws into. If I take this commonly encountered gun and put an extended magazine on it I now need to get a different barrel as this one one can not mount properly with an extended mag.
On a Remington 870, I unscrew the barrel retaining nut (“magazine cap”) and replace the magazine spring with the new longer one and screw on the magazine extension. Re-install original barrel. Done. On later 870s it may be necessary to drill out two small ‘dimples’ at the end of the magazine tube that retain a superfluous magazine plug. Big deal. [JWR Adds: Brownell's sells a special mandrel designed for pressing out these dimples. Every retreat group that has standardized with 870s should acquire one of these tools.]
Parts availability - The two most common shotguns are the Mossberg 500 series and the Remington 870 and all the aftermarket accessories people know this. If you were to make a list of all the Mossberg accessories available and all the 870 accessories available, the lists would be long, but the 870 list would be longer. More options.
Construction - Both guns are used my military and law enforcement, so you know that can take rough use. One common problem I see with Mossbergs is that the safety selector is plastic (on the mil-spec model they are steel); this causes enough problems that one of the more widely purchased aftermarket accessories for the 500 is a replacement safety made of steel.
Both guns (on current models) have plastic triggerguards. The Remington has one that has a built in locking device. Yesterday I had a fellow come in who had bought a used 870 with a locking device but no key. It wasn’t a problem, as he had not planned to ever lock the gun, but it turns out you can lock the gun by just turning the safety with a fingernail or, in his case, a cleaning brush while cleaning the gun. To -unlock- the gun, you need the key. That’s bad. Mossberg has wisely avoided this mistake.
One thing that makes a big difference for me is that the Remington receiver is steel while the Mossberg is alloy. It may not make a practical difference, but I just feel better with the heavier gun. Also, the 500 receiver is anodized and once the finish wears off, your only choices are stove paint, tape or shine.
Commonality - Both guns are extraordinarily common. Together I believe they account for the majority of pump action sales in the US. While both guns are used by military and law enforcement, the 870 is the hands down law enforcement favorite, and thus more likely to be found/recovered from ‘official’ sources.
One great advantage the Mossberg has is price: it’s cheap (or as I like to describe it “entry level priced”). The cheap shotgun you have -right now- is a whole heck of a lot better than the expensive shotgun that you were planning to buy in 3 months! Also, when compared to the Remington 870, spare barrels seem to be a bit cheaper on the used market.
For my “just in case” customers, I tell them:
• Remington synthetic stock 870 Special Purpose [Parkerized] finish 12 ga. with a 3-inch chamber with a 26 or 28 inch bird barrel with a full assortment of screw in chokes.
• Spare smoothbore rifle-sighted slug barrel in 20 inch.
• In reserve, a Wilson combat/Scattergun Technology two shot magazine extension, a six shell ‘side-saddle’, a clamp-on M1913 rail for mounting a small light on the barrel (I like and own the Surefire fore-ends, but the cost is prohibitive and they use very specific parts. A clamp-on M1913 rail allows for mounting a variety of lights, including a spare M3 or M6 pistol light, which one should already have).
• Usual spares, slings and support parts and tools.
Remington and Mossberg both make fine guns that possess the great feature of what I call ‘modularity’; the ability to be easily reconfigured by the end-user to suit multiple purposes with a minimum amount of tools and skill. I often tell my customers that they should think of the 500 and the 870 (and the AR-15) as ‘Lego kit’ guns; you can pretty much snap-on and snap-off parts and accessories as needed.
A very, very distant third choice for shotguns would be the classic Ithaca 37s. All metal, no plastic and bottom ejecting for left handed shooters. Used as a military gun up through Vietnam and the classic LAPD gun for many years.The NYPD has [also] used this gun for over 50 years (in everything from 13 inch to 30 inch) and I can tell you first hand that a lot of those original purchase guns bought when President Eisenhower was in office are still riding around the mean streets. You'll never find spares and accessories like you will for the Mossbergs and Remingtons though.
Best, - RMV

Daniel C. mentioned that a PDF of the book The Alpha Strategy by John Pugsley is now available for free download. (This is the key book that I mentioned in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.) I highly recommend Pugsley's book, which is considered a classic in preparedness circles. It was one of my main influences when I first formulated my investment strategy, back in my late teens. I owe Pugsley the credit for the many useful tangibles that are stacked on the shelves down in Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR). Many of those items were purchased in the early to mid-1980s when I had military commissary and post exchange privileges. For example, my family is still using aluminum foil that I bought in 1985 for just 79 cents a roll. By my calculations, I won't have to buy another batch for six more years. We are also still not even close to using up the many 12 ounce bottles of vanilla extract that I bought in 1984 for $1.20 each. Enough logistical war stories. I concur with reader Jamie D., who's motto is "Buy it cheap and stack it deep." Now, getting back to the author: Pugsley is now the chairman of The Sovereign Society. You can read read more of his writings at The Daily Reckoning web site.

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I noticed that the spot price of silver recently took a dip below $12 per ounce. This might be a good buying opportunity. I'm still convinced that Helicopter Ben will inflate his way out of the current crisis. So in the long run, the precious metals will appreciate in value. Buy on the dips!.

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Some "must read" commentary over at Jim Sinclair's MineSet: Commercial Paper Market All But Shuts Down

“Whatever is going to happen will happen...just don’t let it happen to you.” - Doug Casey

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Congrats to Mike in Missouri, the high bidder in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a Big Berkey water filter. Today we begin a new auction. This one is for a SteriPen UV light water sterlizer, complete with a solar charger and pre-filter, donated by the fine folks at Safecastle. Also included as a bonus in this auction are three autographed copies of books that I've authored.
Be sure to visit the Safecastle web site and see their broad line of survival and preparedness products, as well as details on their storm/blast/fallout shelter engineering and construction services.

I'm a big fan of western movies and was thinking of how trains seem to dominate so many. These old steam locomotives are still running in many locations around the world so it got me to thinking. I've heard you discuss steam power before and I was wondering what you thought of a return to steam power for transportation in between settlements in the case of full societal collapse that may drive us back a century or more in technology. It seems we have a good supply of lumber in our forests as well as a good supply of coal (especially in places such as Utah) to power these trains. Could they be adapted to run on existing tracks? Do enough exist to be viable? Are they high maintenance? Can they still be produced? I had a friend whose father worked for the railroad in Kentucky/Virginia and he stated that the large steam locomotives were in fact more powerful than the diesel/electrics and that more than a few had been 'rescued' by old steam driven locomotives when they broke down. I do remember hearing that they needed overhauls more frequently but if we returned to that type of society that would certainly beat wagons for transporting goods, people etc.--Just a thought and wondered if you had given it any serious consideration. - Jason North Idaho

JWR Replies: I'm all for it, but sadly even with existing tracks and rolling stock, it takes a lot more than a supply of firewood or coal to operate and maintain a steam locomotive railroad. The main drawback to using steam engines post-TEOTWAWKI is the high maintenance required for their boilers, and their inevitable replacement. Currently, steam engine boilers are rebuilt or replaced as essentially custom pieces. And if you read any of the hobbyist web sites devoted to steam engine restoration, the boiler work is typically a key topic of discussion and the main focus of the groups' fundraising efforts. It is one of the most cash intensive part of rolling stock restoration, since everything else is typically done with donated time and effort on the part of club members. Almost all of the old large-scale steam locomotive repair infrastructure in North America is sadly gone. There are very few companies that still do steam locomotive boiler work, and most of those are in China. They are few and far between here in North America.

Up until the 1940s, nearly every railroad company had their own "in-house" boiler shop. Nowadays you only see that in China. Ironically, the locomotive boiler companies still in business in the U.S. are now highly dependent on grid power to run most of their tools. (In the old days, they would have had a stationary steam engine to run everything in the repair/rebuild shop on belt drive. And in those days they also had traditional (non-electric) hoists that could lift 4,000+ pounds, and they did traditional riveting. Nowadays they use gas-fired rivet heaters, welding gasses, arc welders, et cetera.) So unless the old-fashioned shops could be re-created post-TEOTWAWKI, then we will see the old engines drop out of service, one by one, as their boilers wear out. I may sound pessimistic in all the forgoing, but I'm a realist. I have great faith in American ingenuity. But if the old-fashioned infrastructure no longer or exists, or if the little that does remain isolated in inner-city areas that might resemble Beirut after TSHTF, then perhaps my pessimism is justified. With time, ingenuity, raw materials and plenty of"sweat equity", a working 19th century technology industrial infrastructure could be re-created from the ground up. (Starting, of course, with forges .)

For some background on steam locomotives and boiler rebuilding, see:
Midcontinent Railway Museum

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Do you have any thoughts on the use of A-frame homes as a retreat? I can see the positive negative points, and would appreciate your thoughts (and those of your readers).
They are economical to build and maintain.
The extensive roofs offer lots of space for PV panels or solar water heaters.
The steep roofs are good for distributing heavy loads (whether from heavy snow falls or volcanic ash).
They look like most people's stereotype of a vacation home, and not like a survival retreat (good for hiding in plain sight).

More difficult to harden against attack.
The steep roof angles create "dead spaces" within the building, reducing the usable square footage.

Any input would be appreciated. Sincerely, - James K

JWR Replies: I would add the following to the list of negatives:

In a societal collapse, looters will be looking for what appear to be vacation homes.
They are often less well insulated than comparable size houses with attics.
They are typically built with very poor visibility on two sides, making them vulnerable to attack.
They have roof materials in close proximity to ground shrubbery, so any combustible roofing (e.g. wooden shakes) are definitely a hazard.
The lack of an attic means less storage space.
Odd angles on the inside walls limit storage space and make cabinet installation far more difficult.
The steep roof angle is not ideal for photovoltaics unless you live at an arctic latitude. (A-frame roof pitches are typically too steep for flush-mounted solar panels.) Ideally, solar panels should match your latitude (i.e. if you live on or near the 40th parallel, then flush-mounted solar panels should be mounted at a 40 degree angle.)

Summary, in my estimation: A-frames look quaint, but they aren't very practical except for areas with very heavy winter snowfall, such as Michigan's Upper Peninsula and upper elevations in the western slope of the Rockies. A-frames were a fad in the 1960s, but are not very popular these days, in part because their drawbacks outweigh their advantages.

Mr. Rawles:
I've read your novel ["Patriots"] three times. It rocks. I hope that you run another six pack sale soon, because I plan to buy a bunch of copies for this year's Christmas gifts. I've also been working my way through the [SurvivalBlog] archives. Packed with amazing stuff--what a treasure trove! And I'm also now a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. (I'm the one that sent you that roll of silver dimes.)

One thing that you've stressed that has really struck a chord with me is the possibility that a global depression might last decades, or even generations. With that thought in mind, I've been picking out gear that is both easy to maintain by myself, and very durable. My flashlights all use white LEDs to maximize their usable life. My watches are all Swiss hairspring [self-winding], and I've been told by jewelers that can be rebuilt to easily last more than a century. For tools, I'm buying all Craftsman [brand, from Sears.] For pistols, I have one Glock M21 with rail, and plan to buy two more, plus a Mini Glock [M30] for concealed carry. For my primary rifles, I recently bought three Saiga .308s. (BTW, it is neat to know that there are now reliable converted HK steel magazines available for them from one of the SurvivalBlog advertisers.) For my secondary/training carbines, I'm buying two of the [Armalite] AR-180B. But the magazines for those are aluminum [alloy]. In my mind, I can practically hear the beer can scrunchy noise those will make if they get stepped on! So my question is, is there a sturdier M16-type magazine that won't cost a fortune if I buy two dozen of them? Thanks, - . F.T. in Kansas

JWR Replies: Although they weigh considerably more than alloy magazines, I highly recommend the Imperial Defence SA-80 magazines made in England. These steel magazines were originally made for the British SA-80 bullpups now in service in the Middle East. They are extremely durable and reliable. A fair number of them have been released as surplus. I have heard that they are a sought-after item when informal gear bartering goes on between US and British troops deployed overseas. The SA-80 magazine interchanges with all AR-15 and M16 family weapons. They will also fit the new production AR-180B model, but not the older original AR-180s that used magazines with a narrow magazine catch notch on the left side of the magazine.

Another option in steel AR-15/M16 magazines is the much-touted HK steel M16 magazine, but those presently run $39 to $45 each. (Ouch!) The gray parkerized steel Imperial Defence SA-80 magazines are available in new condition from CDNN Sports, for under $13 each. I heard from a source inside the company that they still have more than 10,000 of these magazines in stock. With a new Federal magazine ban in the works, I recommend that you stock up. The price will only go up. CDNN also has very good prices on Glock magazines (a dollar less than Midway, the last time I checked), and they are currently offering free "+2" baseplates with each magazine purchased. But if you don't use baseplate extensions, I heard from SurvivalBlog reader Craig W. that the very best price on new factory-made Glock magazines is offered by "Sgt. B.", over at the Glock Talk Forums. (His price is just $15.98 for most models!) I recommend that you be sure to specify the latest production Glock 21-SF 13 round magazines, since those will fit in both the new SF-series Glock 21s and in the older generation Glock 21s. (But not vice versa: The earlier-production M21 magazines will not fit in the new M21 SF-series pistols.)

For that dreaded multi-generational TEOTWAWKI scenario, buy plenty of ammo, spare parts, armorer's tools, and a boat load of spare magazines. Even if you buy the most durable magazines available, they are still likely to get lost in combat. My general recommendation is to acquire 20 spare magazines for each rifle and 12 spares for each pistol. Buy even more, if you can afford them. The extras will make a great barter item. And with another magazine ban likely in the U.S. you can consider them an investment. (Glock magazines tripled in price during the 1994-to-2004 ban.)

Joe P. sent us a link to this news story (by way of The Drudge Report): Prices for key foods are rising sharply. Speaking of food price increases, I heard from the folks that run Best Prices Storable Foods (aka The Internet Grocer) that they will make significant price increases on the 23rd of August. If you have been thinking about ordering, place your order by August 21st to get the current pricing. It is noteworthy that storage food price hikes typically don't occur until the end of each calendar year. This year, however, the wholesale foodstuffs costs and shipping costs increases accelerated beyond what the canneries could absorb. Their Mountain House freeze dried and Family Grain Mills prices will be going up on September 1st. Their canned butter, cheese, and meat will probably go up sometime in the Fall. OBTW, many of the same products are available from Freeze Dry Guy, JRH Enterprises, Mountain Brook Foods, PrepareTV, Ready Made Resources, Safecastle, and Nitro-Pak. I anticipate that these other SurvivalBlog advertisers will all be forced to make similar price increases, so order soon!

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Larry W. flagged this article: Stock market brushfire; will there be a run on the banks?

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From The Elliot Wave International: One Big Reason Why U.S. Dollar Is Still "King" Methinks this might be our last chance to latch on to any foreign imports at fairly reasonable prices. Inevitably the US Dollar will resume its decline against the Euro and most other currencies. For any readers that own foreign made guns, stock up now on magazines and spare parts.

"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty."- John Adams (1735-1826) Founding Father, 2nd US President June 21, 1776 Source: letter to Zabdiel Adams, 21 June 1776, (Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett, p.371)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Today is the last day of the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by the fine folks at Ready Made Resources--one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends tonight at midnight, eastern time. The current high bid is at $330. Your bid includes postage. (It will be mailed to you at no extra charge.) Note that the current retail value of a Big Berkey is $335 plus postage, and prices are expected to rise further, with the ongoing decline of US Dollars versus Pounds Sterling. Just e-mail us your bid.

If a minimum of one of the pins is cut for full length, then a bump key won't open the lock. You can tell if your key has that one magic pin because the cut on the key will extend all the way to the bottom of the key. Bump keys work on many locks but definitely not all.
Medeco locks have a good reputation but they aren't like a military armory padlock. But then again, good locks only keep honest people honest.
For survival, everyone should buy and learn to use a clicker [lock opening] gun (These cost approximately $50) as well as a good German surplus wire cutter. if you have to take shelter in an abandoned building, you can unlock the door, go in and re-lock the door. Keeps you a lot safer and makes it a lot more private. (Read "less noticeable"). [Comments on other topics deleted, for brevity.] Best regards to all. - The Army Aviator

Regarding the recent inquiry about the 5.7x28 weapons. Here at the Teutoborg forest we have amassed two of the pistols and two of the P90 rifles. There are serious issues about the rifles, pistols and the ammunition.
Ammunition. The Federal government, in their infinite wisdom, restricted the most effective ammunition. The [SS]190 armor piercing ammunition never made it (broadly) to the civilian marker. It is rumored to be able to defeat most military armor and helmets at distance. The stories vary from 300 yards to 600 yards. I find the 300 yard figure credible. There was also a tracer and a sub-sonic round produced, also, alas, restricted. The most potent velocity ammunition which was broadly distributed was the [SS]192 HP ammunition. Clocked on my chronograph at 2,100 [f.p.s.] in the rifle and 1,980 in the handgun. I immediately went out and filled three .50 [caliber size ammunition storage] cans with this stuff. Concomitant with my acquisition of 192 ammunition 195 and a lead free round started filling the shelves of my local gun emporium. This stuff is a polymer tipped ammunition, 35 grains, variously made in Belgium, Italy, and U.S.A. 1,650 or so for velocity. At the same time the 192 dried up. Hmmm. A call to FN USA revealed that the 192 was cancelled for "marketing reasons." The less effective ammunition remains on the market. 192 penetrates both sides of a 2A vest. 196-96 penetrated 1 side of such vests.
If you get either rifle or pistol then take up reloading. Surf the Internet for 5.7x28 reloading data. There is a lot out there.
The pistol. Robust and mostly polymer, the pistol has many good features. Magazine capacity is 20 rounds, a 10 round extension is available after market. The weapon is lightweight. The safety is engages/disengaged by the index finger. It causes some adaptation by shooters new to the weapon. The fully adjustable sights are very high over the centerline of the bore. Possibly higher than any handgun in my experience. It is a devil to take down for maintenance. Tricky. It does suppress well and here at the forest we have a Gemtech can for one pistol
It is accurate and flat shooting with little recoil There is a rail for lights. We have lights on all our FN products.
The P-90 rifle.
Compact. I recall 27-28 inches. 16-1/2 inch barrel. Lightweight. It uses a 50 round magazine which snaps onto the top of the weapon. When ammunition is pressed into the magazine the previously-loaded round swivels perpendicular to the axis of the bore. The body of the magazine is smoke gray, thus one may ascertain remaining ammunition. There are two types of the P-90: one comes with a non-battery powered holographic sight (similar to a Trijicon) or a flat top requiring an Eotech or other sight to be mounted. Other rails are available after market. We have the factory sight on our P90s and each has a light. The safety is in the lower triggerguard and is ambidextrous. This weapon is a delight to shoot, easy to maintain and accurate. The perfect weapon in urban/close quarters situations. It is sold with a 30 round magazine. A brief experience with an Exacto saw by the intrepid owner makes it a 50 round.
The FN 2000 rifle.
Nearly equally compact as the P90, this weapon is in .223. One virtue is that it takes 30 round AR-15 magazines. Do not put in a 20 [round magazine] because if it locks in, it takes disassembly to free it. The safety is as on the P-90. Barrel length is around 17-1/2 inches. The flash hiders on the 2000 and the P-90 work well in low light/darkness. There is no factory sight that I am aware of. I mounted an Eotech 522 which is night vision compatible. One problem that we encountered is that we adjusted to the end of the sight's travel at 100 yards and the weapon groups fine but is 4 inches high. Tennessee windage seems to resolve this. Disassembly is easy. All in all a compact weapon as is the P-90.
The greatest downside is price. List for the handgun is nearly $1,100 or more. The P-90 is nearly $1,950. The 2000 lists for $2,200. I considered all of these critical additions to the "collection"
I purchased a green stocked P-90 and later obtained a black stocked one for Mrs. Oscar. The day after I took home the black stocked one I hit a local gun show. Lo and behold there was a black stocked P-90. I like to play the rube at gun shows. It gets the gun show goons really into BS mode.
The yarn was astonishing when I asked about this interesting gun I paraphrase "Well y'know the black stocked ones are restricted/rare/only sold to dealers as a sample", and so forth. He was merely asking $2,350. Rare, eh? I [had] paid $1,800.
By the by, the U.S. Secret Service carries short barreled P-90s in full auto for their protection units. The Mexican army issues to special units. The Chilean military used suppresses P-90s in their re-taking of an embassy years ago in their country.
Portability, capacity of ammunition, storability (squad cars, military vehicles, Buicks and pick up trucks) all virtues.
However, it is hard to defend the price. - Mr. Oscar

Dear Jim and Family,
Speaking from research I've read and memories of the Spec Ops deciding against the 5.7 as ineffective for US needs back in 2000, the 5.7 FN pistol is an interesting toy, but its mostly a toy.

The round attempts to get rifle velocities from a pistol, duplicating the results of the British 5.56 BOZ experiment. The main problem is its effectiveness is poor, the barrel is too short to get proper rifle velocities, and the projectile just doesn't fragment like a proper 5.56 NATO would without getting full 2,500 fps velocity. If you want armor piercing, you're much better off either using an AP round designed for a standard pistol, or manufacturing a special round yourself, which has its own expenses and dangers. Because high (rifle) velocities just aren't reasonable in a concealed pistol, experiments with very small calibers have met with limited success. The problem is, punching a small hole in body armor does not necessarily lead to a "quick kill", which matters a lot at 7 yards range, where most self defense shooting occurs. You must have enough velocity for explosive kinetic fragmentation of the projectile, which in the 5.56 is around 2,500 fps velocity. Once below that critical threshold it has a tendency to "zip through" with little damage, allowing the target to keep firing and suffer consequences later. At 100 meters this may be enough to save you, but at 7 yards, you probably just make him mad. Personally, I'd much rather have a 10mm than a 5.7.

Or you can stick to existing firearms and just choose your bullet carefully. That's a lot less work. At present, Short Barreled Rifles are illegal in many states and the risks of possessing one without the proper license and paperwork could turn counterproductive. The 5.7 FN is legal, at least. Some states ban "armor piercing pistol ammunition", some ban pistols that can shoot rifle ammunition, and the 100 year old 7.62 Tokarev CZ 52 pistol is capable of the same feat as the 5.7 FN, though it was discarded due to unreliable stopping power thanks to "blow through". The same problem we're having with 5.56's in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When it comes to close range self defense, use your brain to avoid the confrontation in the first place, and aim for the head if you must defend yourself against an armored opponent. A 10mm or .40 S&W are a good compromise, and the .45 ACP is dandy, if you can take the recoil of 230 grain hardball. It makes me flinch so I stick to 9x19mm. To each their own, and work within your limits. Best,
- InyoKern


Mr. Rawles,
Regarding Toby in Oregon and the 5.7x28mm handgun. The SS190 (armor piercing) round is only available to Military and LE agencies. Unless he has a source for the AP ammo he can write off the benefits of this cartridge. The SS195LF (LF=lead free) SS196SR, SS197SR (SR= sporting round) are training and hunting rounds . SS195LF is a 28gr copper jacketed aluminum core, SS196SR is a 40gr V-max and SS197SR is a 40gr V-max at a higher muzzle velocity. SS196SR is now discontinued. SS195LF and SS197SR is around $750.00 per 2000 round case.

SB193 subsonic. Restricted
SS190 ball. Restricted
SS191 tracer. Restricted
SS192 ( formerly legal now restricted due to the Brady Bunch raising cain and FN caving in )
SS195 lead free training round. Not restricted
SS196 V-max Not restricted
SS197 V-max Not restricted
5.7x28 Blank Not restricted

I don't know if this would apply to Buddy's Board. The following quote is from BATFE web site:
(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver--
(5) any firearm or armor-piercing ammunition to any person unless the licensee notes in his records, required to be kept pursuant to section 923 of this chapter, the name, age, and place of residence of such person if the person is an individual, or the identity and principal and local places of business of such person if the person is a corporation or other business entity.
& sect; 923

All that being said, the ability to feed a pistol and a carbine from the same box is awful nice. The P90 carbine is very handy in a vehicle or around the homestead and with 50 round magazines you have a "Tacticool factor" of around 9.7. - Mark K.

JWR Replies: Regarding the Federal restriction on AP ammo, the key phrase is: "...any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector ..." I'm not an attorney, but my reading, any secondary sale and subsequent possession by private citizens would be unrestricted.

And regarding the Tacticool Scale, which here at the ranch is also known as the Airsoft Mall Ninja Scale. Don't mistake looks for lethality. If looks could kill, there'd be dead bodies littering the streets.

Felix D. mentioned an interesting piece over at The Discerning Texan blog: The Coming Age of Urban Terror

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Our colleague Bill Bonner, co-editor of The Daily Reckoning notes that “Bank Owned” is the latest real estate brochure newspeak to describe foreclosed houses.

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Frequent contributor Michael Z. Williamson notes that there is a nifty new development that may revolutionize lubricants in the near future: Boric acid nanoparticles.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic." - John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

One oil that I think is very good for us and has exceptional storage life is coconut oil. That is, organic, extra-virgin coconut oil. There is quite a bit of info out there on it, the two best sites that I have found are,, and
In our research, coconut oil is better for your health than even olive oil. We have been using it exclusively for about nine months. God Bless, - Bob P.


Mr. Rawles:
One of your readers recent comments about geese as a source of fat served to jog my memory about the origins of what is now commonly considered a gourmet food.
Goose confit and duck confit were made as a way of preserving the meat from birds slaughtered for foie gras. Birds are plucked, cleaned and sectioned, the fat from around the internal organs is saved and the skin is left on the carcass. Pieces are then liberally sprinkled with salt and whatever other spices one might wish to apply (thyme, rosemary, black pepper and garlic are all good choices). The heavily salted sections are then held overnight in a cool place, for most that would be the fridge but traditionally it would be either a root or wine cellar. The next day, the excess salt is shaken off and the pieces are cooked in a dutch oven over low heat for 2 to 3 hours uncovered. The fat will melt and should be allowed to get hot enough to gently boil, but not hot enough to smoke. As the fat cooks it will clarify. When it's finished, strain half the fat into an earthenware container, let the fat cool until it begins to firm up then lay the pieces of cooked meat on the fat in a single layer and arrange them so they don't touch the sides of the container, now pour the rest of the fat over the meat. Cover the container and leave the confit in a cool place for up to one year. Confit can be reheated or eaten cold, additionally the fat is commonly used as either a spread or to fry potatoes in. Domestic birds fattened on grain (they do not have to be force fed) will have more than enough fat but wild ducks and geese probably won't yield enough fat to cover the whole bird so, either supplement the fat with lard or just preserve the thighs and legs.
I noticed that the Walton Feed web site has a description of meat potting, that's basically the same process minus the salting step. So if salt isn't available you might be able to get some short term preservation with just the fat.
If all of this seems like a big hassle there is a French foie gras company, Rougié, that sells canned duck confit. Rougié says the shelf life is 4 years. They also sell big cans of duck and goose fat, but I've never seen those on this side of the Atlantic. - B. from New York



Something anyone with a couple of cows or more found indispensable was a cream separator in the 30's Particularly where it pertains to making butter. Skimming doesn't quite cut it.
Here is a small modern hand unit. I would prefer S Steel spouts, but they would be easy to make. The important/indispensable part is the centrifuge. Old ones, except the centrifuge, bowl, and float, were usually cast iron on their own base. (About 4&1/2 feet tall) This one needs to be bolted down onto a bench. (Bit of a pain to use.) Replacement "O" rings are essential, you don't use more than one a year, but getting others will be very difficult. The rest of the machine should last indefinitely if maintained. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

P.S.: Tell Carl, of the manual grain harvesting letter, that for practice, oats would probably teach him faster than wheat, but given potential drought problems? Plus, given the current state of the financial world, I doubt he will have the extra year to learn. - JustamereFarmBoy



To get to the survival bottom line for me first – the long-term storage of food oils and pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and health food products and the long-term storage of live local heirloom seeds plus the short-term storage of venison, beef and fish have set many of my equipment investment decisions here on the farm. I believe the most critical pieces of survival gear are two very efficient electric chest freezers and a small efficient electric upright freezer and a way to power them inside a survival envelope. My freezers are electric because I would not have a propane/ammonia freezer anywhere within the survival envelope. My propane generator and propane freezer are in a barn about 400’ away (not one used for animals, but one used for equipment) with an underground propane tank. If a propane/ammonia freezer explodes or leaks ammonia, it will most likely to render a shelter unusable for a critical period of time (days not hours). My propane freezer and propane generator sit unused in the far equipment barn waiting for a time when power consumption may become critical. While the price of the wire alone from the barn to my pump and generator was $1,500, it was worth every penny for long-term security and short-term quiet during power outages. Recent solar electric pricing changes have switched me even further toward electric with propane planned mainly for convenience and the possibility of a nuclear winter.

My main long-term food oil stored is frozen 31.5 oz. (1 qt.) plastic-jarred LouAna coconut oil (92% saturated) bought at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club. I also store a smaller amount of frozen unsalted clarified butter that I have processed myself to add taste to my diet when I feel it is critical. Most of the Essential Fatty Acid/food oil academic studies of saturated oils and cholesterol have used lard (39% saturated) as the “straw man” saturated oil. The reason I recommend coconut oil is complicated and requires study into the role of arachidonic acid in the body. While the case may be overstated at The Scientific Debate Forum, all the appropriate journal articles are referenced there and there is no need for me to repeat them here.- Southsider in Georgia

I have read a number of responses on SurvivalBlog on the best shotgun for survival. Many like the 870 Remington and many like the 500 Mossberg. Please give me your opinion on the Maverick 88 Mossberg field grade shotgun. Thanks, - Lynn:

JWR Replies: I'd recommend getting a Mossberg 500 or 590 series rather than the Mossberg Maverick 88. With the Mossberg 500 you have more versatility on both magazine capacity and forend accessories--such as Sure Fire lights. It is noteworthy that you can turn a 6 shot Model 500 into a 8 shot with a magazine tube extension, but you can't with the Model 88. Thankfully, the 500/590 series guns are not substantially higher priced than the Maverick 88.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
When it comes to ordering ammo, I have had excellent experiences with the folks at Century [International] Arms. While their selection has narrowed down a little lately, Century has one feature that few can match: a $7.50 flat shipping fee for ammo and guns. I have literally ordered 200 pounds of ammo from them and the shipping was only $7.50.
Since ammo is essentially lead (one of the heaviest things going) shipping has always been a big issue. That $25 can of ammo from a dealer in Arizona isn't such a great deal when it costs $30 to ship it to my AO!
I own a gun shop and I order fairly decent quantities of ammo. I especially like to lay in surplus ammo when the price is right. A couple months ago Century had Yugoslavian 8mm Mauser ammo on stripper clips in sealed 900 round cans for $49.95 per can (dealer price). I ordered 15,000 rounds of it. This weighed several hundred pounds and shipping was free because the order was over $500.
Definitely shop around for ammo prices and buy big when it's priced right, but if you can find free shipping, then that can often make a slightly more expensive ammo purchase a bit more palatable. - RMV

Aside from some overtly political Quote of the Day blog entries, I do my best to downplay political issues in SurvivalBlog. This is primarily because the blog has an international readership. (After all, what interest would someone in France or Indonesia have in American politics, any more than I would have an interest in theirs?) But I do make an exception for the border control issue. Clearly, lax border security could be the modus operandi for terrorists, possibly with weapons of mass destruction. So that makes this political issue also a survival issue! If you are concerned about border security, then please take a few minutes to sign this on-line petition. Thanks! (A hat tip top Sid for mentioning the poll to us.)

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Reader Mark H. mentioned The Backwoodsman magazine. Mark's comment: It has a lot of good survival and low-tech living information and isn't full of itself like a lot of the better know outdoors magazines are.

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Mike the Blacksmith flagged this Financial Times piece for us: Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned

"Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty." Anne Louise Germaine de Stael (1766-1817) French author

Monday, August 13, 2007

To all of the new SurvivalBlog readers in Europe, welcome! (I've noticed quite a surge in readership throughout Europe, particularly in the Low Countries, in recent months.)

The news wires were abuzz last week about the global credit squeeze. Bankers are unwilling to make loans when they can't calculate risk. What risk? Here is a big one: Many of their clients have derivatives exposure, which means that lenders can no longer calculate their credit worthiness. In the banking world, the standard "safe" answer to any loan question in the absence of data is almost universally no. I surmise that if this situation gets any worse, governments may step in and make loan guarantees. (Meaning that the taxpayers would shoulder the risk instead of the bankers.) That may be the only thing that will get bankers to start making new loans to derivatives holders--which include nearly every major corporation, these days.

With the sub-prime contagion spreading, there is the potential for a sharp break in the U.S. stock market. That will surely push the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates. (With the hope that the increased liquidity will stave off a recession.) But lower interest rates will discourage foreign investment and may spell doom for the U.S. Dollar. The Chartist Gnome tells me that if the U.S. Dollar (USD) Index drops below 80 for more than one week, all bets are off for the dollar. In a recent commentary, Jim Sinclair sized up the massive liquidity injections by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. His conclusion: These moves will badly tarnish the dollar and will likely push the USD Index down to around 72. I concur. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see a breakdown to the 65 level.

There could be a major devaluation of the dollar--whether formal or informal--within the next few week or months. If foreigners start dumping their dollar-denominated assets, watch out! This could even snowball into a full scale dollar panic. The Chinese have already threatened to jettison their U.S. Dollar holdings. If carried out, that alone could have huge implications. Economist Peter Schiff has an even gloomier prediction than mine. He predicts that the US Dollar will lose half its value.

What does all this mean for the average American? Already, the weaker dollar has made some imports painfully expensive. Does the next few months spell ruin just for the bankers and big stock traders, or does it spell ruin for most Americans? I think that inevitably everyone that holds dollars will suffer. Granted, bank accounts are insured by the FDIC to up to $100,000 per individual. But that won't mean much if our currency tips over into hyperinflation. That will make bank deposits effectively worthless in very short order. So how will this play out? I'm not entirely certain. Credit squeezes are traditionally deflationary. But government invention like last week's is highly inflationary. (To better understand deflation, see Bob Prechter explanation of credit squeezes, deflation, and economic depression.) I'll still predict an inflationary outcome. Governments love inflating their way out of monetary crises. It is much less painful for them that way. (Deflation is painful for everyone involved.) And since inflation is a hidden form of taxation, it will be the citizenry that ultimately bears the burden. (Just ask the average Zimbabwean how the past 10 years has treated his real net worth.)

My advice: Shift the majority of your investments out of anything dollar-denominated, right away. The only exception would be holding no more than 20% of your assets in short-term TIPS, which are automatically inflation adjusted. (Series I US savings bonds are also inflation protected, but I discourage investing in such long term bonds.) To be ready for mass inflation, you'll need your wealth primarily in tangibles. That way, if the dollar loses value, you'll be protected. I'm talking about silver, gold, productive farm land, and hard goods like tools, guns, and common caliber ammunition. The timing? Again, hard to predict, but look for some continuing large ripples in the financial waters for the next two months. Then, perhaps in October, be prepared for some massive wave action. Historically, major move in the US equities markets tend to happen in October. Be prepared.

Hello James,
Not long ago, our friends at FEMA destroyed six million MREs, (which we taxpayers had purchased at a cost of $40 million). Why? Because of storage conditions. Now this is an extreme example: FEMA placing food products in unrefrigerated containers under the Gulf Coast summer sun. But it does serve to illustrate that no matter how large one's pantry may be, to avoid turning that food into so much garbage, you have to monitor storage conditions.

Our "summer kitchen" at our home/retreat occupies a 200 square foot area in one of the outbuildings. This room is double insulated and drywalled. In the summer, with outside temps as high as 100 degrees, it seldom rises above 75 inside and no air conditioner or cooling mechanism is used. We do have a 220 volt thermostatically controlled baseboard heater, plus a wood/coal stove to provide backup heat in the winter when it may drop below freezing inside. Two deep freezes and a small refrigerator are situated here, as well as an apartment sized propane gas range/oven. (A 500 gallon propane tank sits outside.). In a true emergency, we could prepare all our meals here. It is 50 feet from the main house.

A door on one wall of the summer kitchen leads to our insulated and finished pantry area. (In essence, the pantry is a room within a room). Both cooling and heating are provided, although ambient temperatures generally stay above 40 degrees in the winter and below 65 in the summer. We monitor the temperature using a remote thermometer with a readout in the main house. The walls are lined with commercial grade shelving (sold at the big box stores), so nothing rests on the concrete floor. Our food storage is deep and diverse, supplying a well-rounded, 3-year diet for a family of four. To track all this inventory, shelf-life, etc.., we have come to depend on a computer program called "Food Storage Planner".

Our freezers are stocked with meats, fish, butter and other perishables such as chocolate bars, nuts and dehydrated fruit. We have a commercial grade vacuum packer and everything that goes into the freezers is vacuum-packed and labeled. Hint: When vacuum-packing fish, freeze it before packing, or you'll end up with seafood mush. During the summer, the refrigerator holds several cases of canned cheese (University of Washington Dairy Farm) and canned butter ([Best Prices Storable Foods aka] The Internet Grocer). In cold weather, the refrigerator is shut down and the contents moved into the pantry. We recently added a 5 cubic foot freezer which is filled with MRE main meal (entree) packets.

The recent thread on fats and oils highlights an often overlooked area of food preparedness. Our pantry contains 25 gallons of oils, including olive, canola, peanut and corn, plus 100 pounds of butter (canned and frozen). We also stock a large amount of canned meats and fish, smoked salmon, UHT processed whole milk, etc.., so the dietary intake of fats and oils should be sufficient. We have found that by storing these oils between 45 and 60 degrees at all times, their shelf life is extended almost indefinitely.

Man does not live by bread alone, so comfort foods occupy some shelf space. Grandma's Fruit Cakes (the big ones!), cases of MRE pound cakes and number ten cans of brownie mixes constitute the bulk of this category. Maple syrup, sweet sorghum, pancake syrup, cocoa and lots of coffee are also on hand.

Several shelves hold first aid and OTC drugs and medications as well as use-only-as-a-last-resort antibiotics and anti-fungals purchased at aquarium supply shops. Another shelf is stocked with whiskey. (Neither one of us drink the stuff).

A 6.5Kw Yamaha generator and a solar system provide backup power for the freezers. Plans are to install a fuel efficient diesel power plant and 500 gallon diesel tank next year.

How long did it take us to put this whole shebang together? A good ten years. We couldn't afford a big shopping trip, so we always tried to bring home that extra item from the store. Maybe a brick of .22 ammo. Maybe an extra can of coffee or a bag of flour. It's amazing how quickly the shelves fill. Those items that we can't cycle through fast enough, we donate to the local food kitchen.

Hoping for the best, planning for the worst. - Dutch in Wyoming (A 10 Cent Challenge Subscriber)

A short comment on using any power source without a governor to drive a generator. While it will work, it will not maintain a constant voltage or frequency under varying loads. I am 69 years old and have watched people build "tractors,buzz saws, water pumps etc" over the last 60 years using car or truck engines. Usually with very little luck. A tractor has a decent governor and will maintain a near constant RPM from about 10 % to 100 % load. Old tractors often used oil pressure to control RPM, don't know about the modern ones as mine was built by Case in 1964 and still works great. A lot of Ford 8Ns still in use were built before that. Many people have used a snow blower and it indicates how a good governor works. The unit runs at nearly a constant RPM as you use it and the load varies from near 0 % as you approach the snow, to near 100 % of its usable output as you go into the snow bank. If the governor is disconnected or fails, the unit is unusable for all reasonable purposes.

The major reasons for using a PTO generator are all given in the link, low RPM motor with excellent governor, used often so fuel and engine are fresh, easily portable as it usually is on a 2 wheel cart attached to the tractor, and you have a power unit that can be used for many purposes every day.

My personal choice is a 20 or so HP unit, compact, low noise, fuel efficient, reasonable cost, available in diesel or gas, can be used in the woods or for small scale farming now and for any number of things if TSHTF. - JDT

JWR Replies: Thanks for your comment. Until you mentioned it, I hadn't remembered that constant RPM (via a governor) was crucial. Home lighting, pumps, and traditional refrigerators/freezers are relatively flexible on input voltage, but most home electronics are not. Unfortunately, with each passing year, more electronics creep into what were heretofore purely electrical appliances. Even some brands of mundane chest freezers and washing machines now have electronic circuitry including microchips. This has three major drawbacks: 1.) Vulnerability to EMP, 2.) Greater difficulty for individual owners to do their own repairs, and 3.) The requirement for relatively "clean" input power in a fairly narrow input voltage range. The latter is something that many generators cannot provide.

On a related note, SurvivalBlog reader "Poikilo" mentioned that some of the new hybrid trucks on the market (such as the Chevy Silverado Hybrid) can also in effect be used as a generator. The question is: Are the truck's 110 VAC outlets sourced directly from an AC winding on the hybrid engine generator, or are they powered by an inverter that draws on the vehicle's batteries? I'd be curious to know what sort of load those 110 AC outlets could handle.

Courtesy of SHTF Daily: Israeli website causes panic in NY. I've warned SurvivalBlog readers before: The DEBKA files material is predominantly gray propaganda that originates from the Russian Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB).

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Reader J.D. recommended this vendor for knives: The Outlaw Knife Shop. I haven't done business with them yet, but they seem to have a great inventory!

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I've been told that there are just a couple sets left for the outstanding Medical Corps "Medical Response in Hostile Environments" field medicine course. It will be held on August 24-25-26 at the Ohio State University Extension Campus in Caldwell, Ohio.

"There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved." - Ludwig Von Mises

Sunday, August 12, 2007

If my military 6x6 troop carrier's engine will run on multi-fuel (diesel, gasoline, mothballs, etc.) Why can't someone make a generator that would connect to the power takeoff (PTO). That way I have a generator that runs on any fuel, and will go anywhere. Perhaps one of your readers could explain why this should be added to my list of really dumb ideas. - DAV

JWR Replies: If the engine can be set to a moderately high RPM with the load of generator for extended periods of time, then it isn't a dumb idea at all. PTO generators are commonly used with farm tractors. Check the Internet tractor supply vendors such as Messick's.
I assume that your 6x6 has a PTO spindle that is similar to those on tractors, and hopefully it has a common dimension "haft." (If not, there is probably an adapter available.) I also assume that your 6x6 also has a manual throttle that you can lock in position, right? If so, you're in business!


I recently went for a drive with both my Uniden GMR 1058 handheld radio (GMRS/FRS [band, and according the manufacturer's literature] boasting a 10 mile range) and my newly-acquired ICOM IC-V85 FM [2 Meter band] Transceiver. I had my wife (with one of each as well) on our porch and here are my results. As I drove though the hilly and wooded terrain, immediately the GMR radio was picking up other kids and families and taxi drivers also talking. At 1/4 a mile the sound quality became unintelligible and communication was impossible. If no one else was on the line, morse code might have worked. I called her on my cell and told her to turn off the Uniden and to switch on the ICOM. I was able to speak and hear clearly for about 3.5 miles. Remember, none of this was line of sight. At about 3.5 miles communications became sketchy and I had her put on a collapsible antenna and stretch it out. It was a 2 Meter 5/8ths wave Super Stick II manufactured by Smiley Antenna Company. She stretched it out and communication was clear again for a few more miles. When communication became weak again, I put the longer antenna on mine and stretched it out inside my car and went out to about 10 miles. At that point it got weak again and I got out of my car and put the antenna vertical and was able to hear her with better quality than my cell phone. I went a mile further and parked in an industrial complex with metal buildings surrounding me and heard her with perfect clarity. So IMHO the FRS/GMRS radios are toys only good for short range direct line of sight. For serious communications, get a FM transceiver and you must have a detachable antenna so you an mount a longer antenna to it. You might also consider the ICOM IC-V8000 with 75 watts of power (or something similar) and a decent antenna for base operations. Being designed for a car it would operate off a car battery. The greater power would allow you to transmit signals to a greater distance (although I wouldn't want to be more than a day's walk from my base anyway) and the bigger antenna (A Diamond antenna X200 is 8.3 feet and an X510 is 17 feet) should also allow you for reception from a greater distance as well. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Thanks for taking the time to do those test.they confirm my previous finding on FRS and GMRS radios. The term "toys" is a good description! In between the power if FRS and 2 Meter radios are most MURS band radios. Unlike 2 Meter ham hand-talkies, these do not require a license in the US. That is what we uses here at the Rawles Ranch. The band is also much less crowded than the CB radio band. In fact, the MURS band is virtually unused in many parts of the country. These transceivers typically transmit 2 watts. (Four time the power of FRS radios.) With a good antenna, MURS hand-helds can achieve commendable range--far better than FRS radios.

Don't know if the callow-youth angle is of interest to your readers, but I dashed this off after a recent wildfire alert: This evening around 5:30 there were reports of a fire very near my
home. Wildfires around here can get interesting quick, especially this late in the year with plenty of dry fuel waiting around. I thought we might have to Get out of Dodge and so I ordered the wife to pack up the paperwork and prep the munchkin for a few days field trip.
Error. Wife does not respond well to orders, and she judged the threat to be considerably less than I did.
I then went to grab my bug-out bag and load it in trusty escape vehicle. Mixed results. My Bug Out Bag (B.O.B.) was in pieces all over the garage and house, as parts of it had been used in recent camping
trip, some for vacation travel, or in my guru-bag for my work.
Assembling the kit under time pressure and while checking in on the radio/tv/internet news, hounding the wife to follow through on evacuation was not going too well. Stress induced
tunnel vision slows people down and invites errors.
A few hours later the fire was under control and we wound down and turned in for the night.
Lessons learned:
Discuss relative priorities ahead of time, so when the time comes to move out there is less wasted effort in communication.

Rechargeable batteries are great for daily use, but useless in a bug-out situation. Not enough extras were charged and ready to go, so my two-way radios, extra Mini-Maglites, and backpacking GPS were useless. Keep a stash of copper-top [Duracell]s or lithiums on hand for when they are needed.

Keep your evac vehicle ready to roll. My escape vehicle was in moderate condition. The truck bed was loaded with junk I’d slated for a dump run, and only one of the two fuel tanks was full. Better to be empty of junk and topped off. Other minor problem: Not road-legal for three bodies.

Keep your B.O.B. packed with dedicated gear. If you can’t grab and go, it isn't a B.O.B.Yeah, your best flashlights live there. So what. Make the second rate gear take the daily wear and tear.

Gear to make life bearable and the more readily portable valuables / memorables could have been collated and loaded, but it would have taken quite some time. Lesson: Get some Rubbermaid bins. Number them. Stow gear numbered by load order so as to make finding things easier. Items not likely to be needed in the short-term get loaded first. Print up inventory list and tape to inside lids, along with
a cheapo LED keychain light. This way important equipment gets loaded quickly and my loved ones can find what they need in my absence, even on the side of the road in the dark. Keep a few
extra bins for rapid-load of household items such as family photo albums, insurance paperwork, etc. Keep the weight manageable by the weakest person likely to be helping load.

I had I planned to haul off any fuel or ammo I had, for the safety of any rescue workers. Since I do not yet have a large volume to move, I thought it polite. Having a garage explode or a case of
ammo cook off could ruin somebody's day. Remembering where all gas, kerosene, Coleman’s, fuel canisters, target ammo, real ammo, gopher-killer ammo were stored and getting it all together was a
minor challenge. Lesson: Keep ammo stored centrally and securely. Keep fuels stored outside garage in locking cabinet.

Alternate evac routes were planned, but only in my head and on screen. Should keep paper maps in all cars. Review routes in advance. Two alternate routes, two alternate rally points. Practice them in advance by taking the 'scenic route' to 'grandmas house'.

[My original] plan was for her to head out very early in this scenario on with our precious cargo and take shelter at our fallback place while I loaded gear and stood ready to defend the home front against fire or looters until such time as I needed to bail out. With everything but property already secured, I know I would not spend much time playing hero. In the future, I want to plan on a one
vehicle evac, so I know where my most important cargo is and have a second set of hands and eyes to help in getting there intact.

Planning and wishful thinking don’t go very far to securing the safety of your family and property. It can all fall down fast with sloppy execution. I now intend to finish my summer by being able to pack up with a few minutes notice and be safely out of town. Thanks for all the good advice and references I have found here. - The Hushmailer

Russell suggested this article on The Nightmare German Inflation (circa 1922-1924) You will note some strong similarities to the hyperinflation in present-day Zimbabwe, as described by Cathy Buckle. And, BTW, if the Federal Reserve over-reacts to the current credit crunch, they could crash the US dollar, too.

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Dave S. recommended a web page at the C. Crane radio web site, on preparedness.

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Frequent contributor Ben L. sent this: Fifty percent of U.K. drivers cannot read a map. If you find your family's map reading skills lacking then spend a few weekends orienteering. Great exercise for both the brain and the leg muscles.

"The totalitarian states can do great things, but there is one thing they cannot do: they cannot give the factory-worker a rifle and tell him to take it home and keep it in his bedroom. That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage, is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." - George Orwell

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Do you consider SurvivalBlog worth 10 cents a day to you? If so, please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. Thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I noticed that Missouri is not listed as one of your top 20 [states ranked as] desired retreat locations. Please tell me why you think Missouri would be unsuitable.

Is there any possibility of meeting like minded people on your Survival Blog? Thanks so much for your help. Sincerely, - Marie R.

JWR Replies: I consider Missouri unsuitable mainly because of its population density. It is also down-wind of some nuclear targets. So if you plan to stay there then I recommend that you construct a fallout shelter (like the ones that Safecastle builds), and have plenty of friends to help defend your retreat. In the event of a societal collapse, I think that things will be much more stable in the more lightly-populated western states.

My reply to this posted letter
includes a link to a Survivalist Groups Matching page that might prove useful in finding like-minded folks in your area.


What is your opinion about adding a FN 5-7 Pistol to my arsenal once other more pressing needs have been fulfilled? The pistol has a capacity of 20 rounds and 5.7x28 round which was constructed to penetrate body armor. When I was working for a public safety organization when this gun hit the streets we received a ton of bulletins concerning the possibility of this gun being used against officers. I think it might be a nice weapon to have around if you are forced to venture off your retreat location and conceal a weapon. When TSHTF we will likely be faced with armored threat like government contractors "ensuring peace and order". One would have to store all the ammunition they would need however due to the rarity of use of the cartridge. - Toby in Oregon

JWR Replies: With reservations, yes, I recommend that you buy one. But do so only after you have all your other major preparations squared away. (Food storage, fuel, communications gear, medical gear, MBR, and so forth.) Since the likelihood of having to confront bad guys that are wearing body armor when you are not armed with a rifle is relatively small, you should consider your 5-7 more of an investment or toy. Also take into account the over-penetration risk for home defense situations. There, a riotgun would be much more appropriate.

OBTW, with a new Federal magazine ban looking likely, be sure to buy at least 8 or 9 spare polymer 20 round magazines and 9 or 10 of the "plus 10" magazine extensions before you buy the pistol itself. (CDNN Sports is a good source for both the magazines and the extensions.) And of course you will need to acquire what is essentially your "lifetime supply" of 5.7 ammo. You can expect no re-supply of 5.7mm ammo after things get Schumeresque. Speaking of which, "specialty varieties" of 5.7mm ammo (such as API) come on the market from time to time at Buddy's Board.


What are your thoughts on getting 10 of the Enfield 2A.308 carbines for barter/defense or would you go with the AK? Thanks, - F.

JWR Replies: The .308 Enfield is a fine choice. They are ideal to hand out to neighbors (one way or the other--be it via barter or charity) after TSHTF. The beauty of a bolt action is that folks are more likely to aim carefully rather than just "spray and pray." OBTW, be sure to get one spare magazine of each of those Enfields, while they are still available.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
In response to the letter regarding buying silver in small increments each month, I know that Franklin Sanders has a monthly acquisition program ("M.A.P."). I have made bullion coin purchases with him twice now, converting some bonds to gold and silver coin and had good experiences both times. Look for the M.A.P. link to find details about his offerings.
Something to consider when buying locally versus through the mail is the difference between sales tax and shipping. If you buy from an out-of-state vendor, there should not be any sales tax. Mr. Sanders only sells and ships to people outside of his home-state of Tennessee. The savings there might make it worth paying the shipping cost. Best Regards, - Benjamin


"Let the buyer beware": I ran across one local dealer who priced his precious metals reasonably (100 ounce bar of silver) ...... then at the conclusion of the deal, he proceeded to add local sales tax to the final price. I backed out on the deal and never went back to him. Of course he was also the one who offered me a 100 oz bar of silver (at a slight discount) with the serial numbers scraped off. Not the best type of trustworthy person obviously.

If you have a good trustworthy rapport with your dealer, many times you can buy 1/10 oz gold coins and then later trade 8 or 9 of them back for a full 1 oz coin. This is due to the premium on the smaller coins. Whether 8 or 9 for an oz depends on the economy and the times.
This is how I got started. Say $70 for a 1/10 rand every month or when you can spare the money and then after you get up to 50 1/10's, start trading out for 1 ouncers while still buying 1/10 ouncers. I remember how good it felt when I got my first 1 oz rand in my hand and still had 41 1/10 ouncers. All day I was kicking myself in the butt for not having started sooner.
However, remember if you ever need to bribe someone, it's to your advantage to bribe them with one 1/10th oz than to have to resort to giving them a 1 oz coin.

Many coin shops, when dealing with junk silver, will dip the coins so they come out bright and shiny. It's never bothered me one way or the other but I've heard some shops will put a premium on the shiny (possibly the newly shiny) coins. This isn't right. - The Army Aviator

Ken M. sent us this: The US Banking/Derivatives Contagion Spreads Still Further: BNP Paribas (France's Biggest Bank0 Freezes Funds as Loan Losses Roil Markets

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Christopher D. recommended a site with simple instructions on rain barrels.

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Hawaiian K. flagged this useful article: Top 100 Items to Disappear First in a National Emergency

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Adam M. sent us the link for this photographer's tour of a civil nuclear fallout shelter, beneath Lucerne, Switzerland. I wish that the U.S. had a real civil defense system (like Switzerland's), instead of just printing pamphlets and hoping for the best. By law, the builders of any multi-family apartments in Switzerland must provide fallout shelter space for the tenants. That's my idea of a good building code!

"There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men." - Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'd appreciate some help from readers to help SurvivalBlog grow in popularity. If there are any other blogs that you read regularly, watch for topics related to survival or preparedness. When they do come up, please mention SurvivalBlog, preferably by including a permalink to a related post. For example, if the subject of food storage comes up, you might mention the recent thread on Fats and Oils, and include this Permalink. Many thanks!


I just wanted to let you know of a web site where one can buy natural oils in bulk. It's a company in Solon, Ohio, called "Oils By Nature". They produce their own oils with the lowest amount of refining and don't add things like detergents and anti-foaming agents, etc. Prices are based on seasonal availability. Their customer service is great!

For example, I bought a 55 lb. of unrefined Palm Kernel Oil for a very good price. This kind of fat is solid at room temperature and it's molecular composition is very usable by the human body. It also keeps well in it's steel container for years as long as it's stored in a cool dry place where it won't liquefy.

I have also purchased olive oil and peanut oil from them. Their peanut oil is the best I've ever tasted. Maranatha! - K.

Hi Jim,
I just read the letters and comments on fats and oils, and wanted to add a couple of things. First, it is possible to get enough cream off of goat milk to make butter. The milk needs to set for several days, up to a week or more, and you will end up with 'ripened' butter, which actually tastes pretty good. You need quite a bit of milk, at least a gallon, and preferably two or three if you can manage it. It helps the cream to rise if you can let the milk set out at room temperature for a while, but it will be easier to skim when it's cold. Also, use a large jar (gallon if you have one) with a wide mouth. The soured milk left after skimming the cream can be used in baking, made into cheese, or fed to pigs, chickens, or dogs.

It also helps to have goats with high-fat milk -- Jim mentioned Nubians, and it's true that of the large dairy breeds they have the highest butterfat content. But Kinder goats, Nigerian Dwarfs, and the crosses of Nigerian with large breeds (for 'mini' goats) all have higher butterfat than any of the large breeds of goats, except possibly for Boers, which aren't usually milked, but can be. A quart jar of Kinder goat milk will have an inch of cream on the top in just a couple of days, and a gallon jar may have two or three inches after a week. That's about a quart, enough to make a good amount of butter.

Another way to get fat into your diet using dairy products is by making cheese using whole milk. The fat remains in the cheese, rather than draining off with the whey. Of course, the richer the butterfat content of the milk, the more fat you'll obtain from the cheese. Or just drink the whole milk as a significant percentage of your diet.

The other solution to the fat problem that I didn't see mentioned was geese. Geese were the traditional fat source for people who didn't use pork, and also among some who would use pork if they could get it but found it easier to feed geese. Geese require much less grain than pigs do, and have much better-tasting fat than sheep or goats (the fat from sheep and goats has other uses, though, such as tallow for candles -- because it's a hard fat -- or for soap making). They are also very hardy, able to survive down to 100 degrees below zero, according to an extension agent in Fairbanks who I once talked to. They are good watchdogs, too, though are a little too aggressive to have around small children. - Freeholder

The following (courtesy of Tom at is an excerpt from letter written from a lawyer from Mason City, Iowa in the Corn Belt, recounting the impact of the Great Depression of the 1930s on his town. Foreclosures galore. Tom's Comment: "Anything sound familiar?" Just substitute residential real estate for farm land, when reading the following:

“The boom period of the last years of the World War and the extremely inflationary period of 1919 and 1920 were like the Mississippi Bubble and the Tulip Craze in Holland in their effect upon the general public. Farm prices shot sky high almost over night. The town barber and the small-town merchant bought and sold options until every town square was a real estate exchange. Bankers and lawyers, doctors and ministers left their offices and clients and drove pell mell over the country to procure options and contracts upon this farm and that, paying a few hundred dollars down and expecting to sell the rights before the following March brought settlement day. Not to be in the game marked one as an old fogy, while paper profits were pyramided and Cadillac cars and pleasure trips to the cities took the place of Fords and Sunday afternoon picnics. Everyone then maintained that there was only a little land as fertile as the fields of Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota, and everyone sought to get his part before it was all gone. Like gold, it was limited in extent and of great potential value. Prices skyrocketed from $100 to $250 and $400 per acre without regard to the producing power of the land.”“During this period insurance companies were bidding against one another for the privilege of making loans on Iowa farms at $90 or $100 or $150 per acre. Prices of products were soaring. Everyone was on the highroad not only to comfort, but to wealth and luxury. Second, third, and fourth mortgages were considered just as good as government bonds. Money was easy, and every bank was ready and anxious to loan money to any Tom, Dick, or Harry on the possibility that he would make enough in these trades to repay the loans almost before the day was over. Every country bank and every county-seat town was a replica in miniature of brisk day on the board of trade.”
“The drastic deflation of Iowa loans under the orders from the Federal Reserve Board, upon which Smith Wildman Brookhart, depression Senator from Iowa, poured forth his venom, definitely marked the downward turn in the mythical prosperity of boom days. Despite our hopes for the better, conditions have grown steadily worse.”
“During the year after the great debacle of 1929 the flood of foreclosure actions did not reach any great peak, but in the years 1931 and 1932 the tidal wave was upon us. Insurance companies and large investors had not as yet realized (and in some instances do not yet realize) that, with the low price of farm commodities and the gradual exhaustion of savings and reserves, the formerly safe and sane investments in farm mortgages could not be worked out, taxes and interest could not be paid, and liquidation could not be made. With an utter disregard of the possibilities of payment or refinancing, the large loan companies plunged ahead to make the Iowa farmer pay his loans in full or turn over the real estate to the mortgage holder. Deficiency judgments and the resultant receivership were the clubs they used to make the honest but indigent farm owners yield immediate possession of the farms.”
“Men who had sunk every dollar they possessed in the purchase, upkeep, and improvement of their home places were turned out with small amounts of personal property as their only assets. Landowners who regarded farm land as the ultimate in safety, after using their outside resources in vain attempts to hold their lands, saw these assets go under the sheriff’s hammer on the courthouse steps.”
“During the two-year period of 1931-32, in this formerly prosperous Iowa county, twelve and a half per cent of farms went under the hammer, and almost twenty-five per cent of the mortgaged farm real estate was foreclosed. And the conditions in my home county have been substantially duplicated in every one of the ninety-nine counties of Iowa and in those of the surrounding states.”
“We lawyers of the Corn Belt have had to develop a new type of practice, for in pre-war days foreclosure litigation amounted to but a small part of the general practice. In these years of the depression almost one-third of the cases filed have to do with the situation. Our courts are clogged with such matters.”
“Gone, too, is that pride of ownership which made possible the development of stock and dairy farms with their herds of fat cattle and hogs, their Jersey cows, their well-kept groves and buildings which beautified and developed the countryside. The former owners were willing to use a large part of receipts from a farm’s income to increase its value and appearance but the present absentee owner regards it only as a source of possible dividends.”
“From a lawyer’s point of view, one of the most serious effects of the economics crisis lies in the rapid and permanent disintegration of established estates throughout the Corn Belt. Families of moderate means as well as those of considerable fortunes who have been clients of my particular office for three to four generations in many instances have lost their savings, their investments, and their homes; while their business, which for many years has been a continuous source of income, has become merely an additional responsibility as we strive to protect them from foreclosures, judicial receivership, deficiency judgments, and probably bankruptcy.”
“The old maxim of three generations between shirt sleeves and shirt sleeves is finding a new meaning out here in the Corn Belt, when return to very limited means in a formerly prosperous population is the result not of high living and spending, but of high taxes, high dollars, and radically reduced income from the sale of basic products.”
“George Warner, aged seventy-four, who had for years operated one hundred and sixty acres in the northeast corner of the county and in the early boom days had purchased an additional quarter section, is typical of hundreds in the Corn Belt. He had retired and with his wife was living comfortably in his square white house in town a few blocks from my home. Sober, industrious, pillars of the church and active in good works, he and his wife may well be considered typical retired farmers. Their three boys wanted to get started in business after they were graduated from high school, and George, to finance their endeavors, put a mortgage, reasonable in amount, on his two places. Last fall a son out of a job brought his family and came home to live with the old people. The tenants on the farms could not pay their rent, and George could not pay interest and taxes. George’s land was sold at tax sale and a foreclosure action was brought against the farms by the insurance company which held the mortgage. I did the best I could for him in the settlement, but to escape a deficiency judgment he surrendered the places beginning in March 1st of this year, and a few days ago I saw a mortgage recorded on his home in town. As he told me of it, the next day, tears came to his eyes and his lips trembled and he and I both thought of the years he had spent in building up the estate and making those acres bear fruit abundantly. Like another Job, he murmured “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away”; but I wondered if it was proper to place the responsibility for the breakdown of a faulty human economic system on the shoulders of the Lord.”
“When my friend George passes over the Jordan and I have to turn over to his wife the little that is left in accordance with the terms of his will drawn in more prosperous days, I presume I shall send his widow a receipted bill for services rendered during many years, and gaze again on the wreckage of a ruined estate.”
“I have represented bankrupt farmers and holders of claims for rent, notes, and mortgages against such farmers in dozens of bankruptcy hearings and court actions, and the most discouraging, disheartening experiences of my legal life have occurred when men of middle age, with families, go out of the bankruptcy court with furniture, team of horses and wagon, and a little stock as all that is left from twenty-five years of work, to try once more – not to build an estate – for that is usually impossible – but to provide clothing and food and shelter for the wife and children. And the powers that be seem to demand that these not only accept this situation but shall like it.”

Tom at sent us the link to this "must see" video clip: Charlie Rose interviewed two journalists about debt securities, the sub-prime debacle, and the emerging liquidity crisis. New York Times scribe Floyd Norris described the recent wave of margin calls on debt securities as "the functional equivalent of a run on the bank." Katherine Burton of Bloomberg News admitted that the credit crunch will "go on for a long time." In related news, don't miss this news story from Reuters: Central banks move to calm panicky money markets. This isn't just a traditional credit squeeze, folks. This is approaching credit paralysis!

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I was doing some web surfing and I stumbled across a DRMO auction for what appears to be some new concertina wire, at Camp Pendleton, California.

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I just heard that Ready Made Resources still has three new copies of the scarce out-of-print book "Survival Guns" by Mel Tappan. They are being offered for $60 each. That might sound steep for a book that was $19 when it went out of print a bit more than a decade ago. But be advised that used copies have recently been selling for $60 on up, on The three remaining copies of "Survival Guns" are not listed in the Ready Made Resources web catalog. Call them for details.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet go out to meet it, nonetheless." - Thucydides, 430 B.C.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I just noticed that we are about to surpass 1.75 million unique visits to SurvivalBlog. My sincere thanks to everyone for making the blog such a huge success. Please keep spreading the news. Special thanks to our readers down in Oz, where we've had huge readership growth in recent months. My only question is: what is that big dot on the map for SurvivalBlog readers out in the middle of the Outback? I can't imagine that there are that many SurvivalBlog readers in the town Alice Springs, so there must be some very bored "knob turners" at Pine Gap.

Mr. Rawles
As a proud 10 Cent Challenge subscriber and daily reader of your blog I must thank you for the mountains of information and content that you make available to us every day.
Worth many times the price!

Today I would like to know if you could recommend a reputable seller of tangibles i.e. gold / silver. I have been in contact with your banner advertiser Swiss America. They are a good group of
people but I don't quite have the funds to invest that I think they normally deal with. I think I would be a small time buyer of said tangibles. I would like to invest no more that $100 a month, I know this is a
small amount but it is a start.

Again thank you for such a wonderful and potentially life-saving web site and keep up the good work. Respectfully, - S.R.

JWR Replies: First, congratulations for taking the initiative to actually diversify your investments into some silver. I should mention here that I have several quite wealthy consulting clients that have been talking about buying precious metals for several years, but they have never "gotten around to it." Meanwhile, silver has doubled in value.

Under your circumstances, buying locally makes sense. With small mail orders for silver coinage, postage costs are a real killer--effectively doubling the premium (over "spot") that you pay. Hence, you'd probably be best calling around to local coins shops. Just ask all of them on the same morning for a price quote: "How many times over face value do you sell small quantities of pre-1965 "junk" silver?" Then do your business with whomever offers the best rate. Be courteous, offer to take even slightly bent coins (that won't run through their coin counting machine), don't take up too much of their time, and pay in cash. They'll like getting cash. Tell them that you'll be back about same time next month every month for the foreseeable future. They'll wish they had a hundred customers like you.

Once you have developed a rapport with the folks that run the coin shop, you can probably sweet talk them into selling you small quantities of coins at the same rate that they charge for full $1,000 face value bags. (After they see you coming back, month after month.)

I wish you the best with your silver investing program.

I was reading through FR Doc E7-12736 (Federal Register: July 2, 2007, Volume 72, Number 126, Rules and Regulations, Page 35920-35931, online at your link this morning when I found this language at the bottom of the document: Sec. 1310.12 Exempt chemical mixtures.
(4) Iodine products classified as iodophors that exist as an iodine complex to include poloxamer-iodine complex, polyvinyl pyrrolidone-iodine complex (i.e., povidone-iodine), undecoylium chloride iodine, nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanol-iodine complex, iodine complex with phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol, and iodine complex with ammonium ether sulfate/polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate.

It appears that Betadine and some other organic iodine compounds will continue to be available.

Thanks for the great blog, and God bless you and your family. Your brother in Christ, - DF

JWR Replies: Thanks for making that clarification. We can breathe a sigh of relief about Betadine, but sadly, not Polar Pure water purifier, which uses iodine crystals.

The latest that I've heard from preparedness vendors is that Polar Pure will not be totally banned from sale, but that the Federal government will soon be mandating a new licensing procedure costing $2,400 per year for wholesalers, and $1,200 per year for retailers, with the costs to be borne by the vendors. There will also be severe purchase quantity limits, and "positive tracking" of iodine products (over 2% solution) through every step of commerce from manufacture to wholesalers, to retailers, and finally and right down to electronic logging the names and addresses of every retail customer. Again, the cost of compliance (and the time required for record keeping) will be borne by the vendors. To offset these costs, wholesalers and retailers will undoubtedly raise their prices. With licensing at multiple levels plus the sales tracking paperwork, the price of Polar Pure and other potent iodine products will surely skyrocket. So stock up now, before prices increase. Polar Pure is still under $12 per bottle from Ready Made Resources, with no DEA paperwork. But if you dawdle a few months, I predict that you will find that it will be selling for $30+ per bottle, and you will have your particulars enshrined in some Federal database. I've said it before: Whenever a government interferes and enacts a ban, freeze, or other control, prices are bound to rise.

Hi Jim,
Regarding a previous thread in the SurvivalBlog archives, some news has come to light about picking [some varieties of] "high security" Medeco locks.The article begins:

"A group of researchers has cracked the security features in what are supposed to be some of the world's most secure locks -- locks that are used at the White House, the Pentagon, embassies and other critical locations.
The researchers presented their findings for the first time at the DefCon hacker conference this weekend and showed how they could easily bump and pick the newest high-security M3 locks made by Medeco, a company that owns an estimated 70 percent of the lock market.
In addition to bumping and picking Medeco's M3 cylinder locks, the researchers also succeeded in the last few weeks to crack a Medeco M3 deadbolt lock -- considered to be one of the highest security locks in the world. They showed Wired News how to open the deadbolt in less than a minute using nothing more than a modified $2 screwdriver and a wire shim. They asked, however, that we not publish the details."

Regards, - Chris D.

By way of SHTF Daily: Minneapolis bridge disaster draws attention to neglect of U.S. infrastructure

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David D. recommended this article on some medicinal uses of honey

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Hawaiian K. sent us this: The Incapacitating Flashlight--An LED flashlight makes culprits vomit. If police start to use these, I can predict lawsuits from epileptics.

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Thanks to SHTF Daily for posting this piece from Bloomberg: U.K.’s Subprime Crisis May Be Worse Than U.S.’s

"14 million people took a mortgage in the last three years. Seven million [of those] people took teaser rates or piggy-back rates. They will lose their homes, this is crazy!" - Jim Cramer

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Today is the last day of the special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The sale ends at midnight tonight, Pacific time. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price, and this may be the only time that it is ever sold at this sale price. The sale ends midnight tonight (August 8th), so place your order ASAP! (You can order on-line, or be sure to have your order letter postmarked with today's date.)

I found your blog about a month ago. I received a copy of your novel "Patriots" from Fred's M14 Stocks and have probably read the thing about 20 times. It sits by the bed. I sometimes just pick it up, open and begin reading. Good stuff.

I am a former police officer (10 years) with sniper training, construction company owner( I have built everything except a church) CPA with many years public accounting and have military experience (like you in Military Intelligence. I was what is now known as a 98C [- Signals Intelligence Analyst]). I shoot a lot of IDPA both in local and state matches, am an IDPA safety officer and an NRA firearms instructor. My wife is a soon to be a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Federal retiree. She shoots also.

We have 58 acres in a rather remote area in the south side of Virginia. We plan on incorporating cisterns, gray water septic et cetera in the building of the house that we will start in about three months. The heating will be closed loop geothermal, radiant in the floors. We have a lot of experience in growing vegetable gardens (25 years to date). The wife knows how to can and otherwise preserve food. We generally keep enough on hand to see us through several months of problems. I would probably be better off relocating further to the northwest but moving is such a pain that this was as far as we want to go. We are about 200+ miles from [Washington] D.C.

I find your blog very informative and educational. Some of the weapon selection I agree with, some I don't. That's okay. I just wanted to say hi and thank you for your efforts. Keep up the good work. - rb

Mr. Rawles:

Firstly, I must say I have found your site informative and have implemented many of the ideas/suggestions listed on it.
Regarding the most recent post regarding crucial fats in the diet, I must say it was informative but I felt it left out a very viable source of animal fat: The Groundhog. While it may be a rodent, it only eats plants and an occasional insect. The meat is good but greasy since groundhogs actually hibernate. This means later on in the year they will have stored up a large amount of fat which would be of very good value. This geographic region has bear and beaver but they require more effort to procure than the common, rapidly reproducing groundhog, which seems to be everywhere.
I respectfully request that this little tidbit of info finds its way onto your blog as the information available on the internet regarding the consumption of groundhog seems to be in short supply on the Internet. It seems everyone knows about the danger of eating nothing but rabbit, the benefits/fat content of bear and beaver tail, and next to nothing about groundhog. Best Regards, - Jon S.


Thanks for posting the fat question. As to pressing the seeds for oils, wouldn't it be better to keep them as seeds? I think that they would last longer and they can be planted. Also, shortenings like Crisco are not only not useful as fats to the body but outright harmful. They may count as caloric value but not in terms of necessary fats in the diet. - SF in Hawaii

I read the letters about fats and oils and realized that I too haven't thought about them in my plans! I refer you and my fellow readers to Captain Dave's web site. A great site, with an extensive on-line reference manual for Food Storage (and a medical FAQ, too) This site is where I first learned of Joel Skousen, et cetera. and has been a favorite of mine for many years. The link below takes you to the fats and oils section of the food storage "book". It says at one sub-page that a solid fat like Crisco can last 8-10 years if properly packaged, and if it has preservative anti-oxidants in it. Although, no matter how long you can store something from the supermarket, you will assuredly run out at some point, so home scale production would seem to be the best way to obtain a reliable, safe supply of essential fats and oils.

One other thing that may be helpful as well, for oil storage. According to, olive oil suffers no ill effects when frozen. If a freezer is available and powered, it could easily store at least olive oil, if not others as well? On the linked page below, there's a question toward the bottom about freezing pesto, and that's where the folks that run the site say freezing the olive oil is okay.

I hope this helps my fellow readers! Thanks! - R. in New Hampshire

I have pondered your recent posts about stocking up on ammo. I've decided to spend $6,000--the same that I spent last year on storage food, a wheat grinder, and heirloom gardening seeds--to buy some ammunition to squirrel away. That will pretty well tap out all of my available cash. I'll mainly be buying mil surplus rifle ammo (.223, 7.62x39 and .308) plus some civilian pistol ammo--mostly .45 auto, for my two Glock 21s and my Glock 30. But I'm also taking your advice from a post earlier this year and buying 300 rounds of .40 S&W, even though I don't own any guns in that caliber--because my local police department issues Glock Model 22s [chambered in 40S&W.] I think having that ammo may be great for bartering and as a way to 'make friends and influence people", once the Schumer Strikes the Oscillating Blades.

My question to you sir, is, where is all the reasonably-priced ammo hiding? My local gun shop charges near full-ticket retail, even when I ask about ordering me some case lots. Are there any places on the Internet you can recommend? Thanks to You and Best Regards, Ray in Southern Arizona.

JWR Replies: I'm glad to hear that you bought your storage food and seed first. I recommend: AIM Surplus, Cheaper Than Dirt, Dan's Ammo, J&G Sales, Midway,, Natchez Shooter Supply, and The Sportsman's Guide. If you plan to buy $6,000 worth, it is probably worthwhile for you to drive a 3/4 ton pickup truck up to Prescott, Arizona, to visit J&G Sales. With their inventory, they can probably supply 2/3s of your needs. They are in north-central Arizona. Paying for that gasoline will be far less expensive that paying for UPS shipping, and it will also help you keep a low profile. (Neighbors might get curious when they see 20+ large, very heavy boxes being unloaded from a UPS truck in front of a suburban house.)

HikerLT, DAV, and Mark B. all forwarded this gem (by way of the Drudge Report) from The Daily Telegraph: China threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales. Mark's comment: "This is why trade deficits are a strategic and political liability! The American people have virtually put their economic future and well being in the hands of the Chi-coms!"

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Chris S. sent us a news story link that illustrates the signs of the times: Lead stolen from church roofs to ship to China

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I have updated my Links page with a new section on Survivalist Fiction web sites. Let me know if there are any other web sites--for novels, movies, and television series--that I should add. Thanks!

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The Western Rifle Shooters Association (WRSA) has a high power rifle shooting clinic and match scheduled for August 25-26 in Douglas, Wyoming. Don't miss out on this opportunity to get high quality instruction at a very reasonable price! (A fraction of what you would pay for a two or three day course at a big "name" academy like Gunsite or Thunder Ranch.) OBTW, their first event, in Kooskia, Idaho, was from all accounts a great success.

"But if a man lives may years and rejoices in them all,

yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many .

All that is coming is vanity." - Ecclesiastes 11-8 NKJV

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Don't miss out on the special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. The sale ends tomorrow, so place your order ASAP!

Today we present another article for Round 12 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 11 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

To survive one must be physically fit! This statement has been said and written over and over, time and again. To say that Survival is for this group of individuals exclusively has strong weight when it comes to a TEOTWAWKI scenario. How ever I would disagree with this assessment. Granted, total invalids could pose a problem but that is not the focus of this article. The focus is on those individuals who are disabled but can still function to some degree and contribute to a TEOTWAWKI scenario.
During the fall of the twin towers on September 11th there were 31 disabled employees working in the towers when they were struck by the jet planes. There was only one disabled survivor. This brave young lady and her friend took it upon themselves to no be a sheeple and risked their lives to get out of the building. Moments after they left the tower collapsed. The rest of the disabled employees died because they were told to wait by the stairwell and rescue workers would help them out. 30 lives were needlessly lost because they did what they were told to do.
In an ideal world, no one would be left behind but we do not live in an ideal world and all people no matter their background deserve a right to live and be productive members of society. A lot of disabled individuals have contributed to the world as we know it. Beethoven was deaf. Professor Hawking is wheelchair bound. Even President Roosevelt was disabled during most of World War II but saved this country from the nazi war machine. [JWR Adds: Some might argue that FDR's weakened condition led to disastrous results at the Yalta treaty negotiations.] So even if someone is disabled don’t count them out as a valuable asset.

On the practical side of survival let’s look at what can one do to contribute in a survival situation. To a disabled individual, every day is a challenge so one of the great factors that they have is the ability to improvise in everything they do (At least that is how I think.) Let me break it down to simple everyday tasks that people take for granted. Getting out of bed. Bending over to pick something up. Going to the bathroom. Sitting down or standing up. Climbing stairs or even getting up the curb. All of these scenarios don’t seem like a big deal to the average person because they don’t need to worry about these simple tasks in daily life. In my case all of these are daily challenges to overcome. In a pre-TEOTWAWKI world there is a lot of assistance to be had and laws that ensure that I can function in society with little or no assistance in certain areas. However there is a lot that does not apply because efficiency is not always geared towards the disabled. Going anywhere is an adventure. I go to a friend’s house to visit and he has a 4 or 5 step stoop with no railing. I do not have the strength to climb it without the railing. What do you do? Imagine trying to climb that stoop with 500 pounds on each leg with nothing to lean on to assist you. This presents a significant challenge would it not? How would you overcome this simple obstacle to visit your friend? If the stoop sticks out from the home and not running parallel to the wall there will be nothing to lean on to climb them. A standard cane is too short and one does not normally carry crutches around and the fact that the latter tend to hinder more than help when ascending stairs. A sturdy walking stick made from a shovel handle would be best in this situation. It is strong and be cut to the desired length for the user. Put a rubber cane or crutch stopper on the end and you have a multi-purpose walking stick. If applied right one can employ the walking stick as a portable railing. It can be used for defense. A walking stick can be used as a pry bar. It may also be used as an extension of you arm. Imagine sitting down on the toilet and the toilet paper is across the room on the sink counter. You have done your business and realize that you need the TP. Using the walking stick it is just long enough to reach the TP. If done right you would not need to get up to get the TP. There are several things that you can do with your walking stick that most people would not think of using it for. One can wrap a poncho around the walking stick and secure it with 550 Parachute-Cord. You now have a portable simple shelter in a compact package complete with a support spine all in one. Total cost for this was less than $5.00.
One more thing you can add would be a micro compass on the end. Drill out a small hole in the top of the shovel handle just big enough to fit the compass. Once done you can apply a silicone based glue (I prefer "GOOP “) and place the compass it the hole you just drilled. There are many things you can do to customize your walking stick to your needs. Your only limitation is your ingenuity.

Other aspects of Disabled survival can be put into one word “Improvise”. With this word there are several things that come to mind. Most of which revolve around making things easier with a minimal amount of effort to achieve the desired results. 90% of my survival planning is based on this concept. With limited strength and limited mobility, finding innovative ways to achieve my goals is a daily exercise in adapting normal items tailored to my specific needs.

One of the more embarrassing aspects of daily living is doing the simple task of going to the bathroom and wiping myself when I finish. A normal person has no issues with this unless they are paralyzed. I am not exactly pleased with the prospect of having someone wiping my behind. Not to mention the numerous jokes that are associated with it. In my case I have limited range of motion and it causes several problems. One of which is not having the ability to reach around and wipe. My Father had similar issues when he was alive but he did not live long enough for me to ask him how he overcame this little problem. You see his range of motion was even more limited than my own (I do stretching on a regular basis to keep what range of motion I do have.) I asked my mother about how my dad solved this and she was no help either.
This was an issue with immediate need. My attempts to solve this problem were futile at best for some time. As it became more and more difficult to reach around to clean up I was at my wits end. Then one day while tagging along with some friends at Wal-Mart it hit me like a ton of bricks. We just happened through the domestic supply isle. I was looking at the various implements used for cleaning and right there was a very simple tool that would solve all of my wiping problems. Hanging on the wall was a curved handled toilet brush. What caught my attention was the fact that it had a sponge on the end instead of the typical bristle brush. It was only 99 cents so I figured what the heck. It was a lot cheaper than the cost of a Birthday. That and there would be no need for water pressure or electricity to use. A simple solution to a very big problem. I have also found that Cottenel wipes are a must for my survival stocks, to use the brush. Take one Cottenel wipe and drape it over the end of the wiper making sure that the curved end of the handle is pointing up. Than just use it as an extension of your hand and finish your business.
Weight is another issue that I have to contend with. if there is anything more than 20 pounds that is needed to be moved and I am not any good. That is the limit of how much I can move and that is not very far. So this presents additional problems. The least of which is a Bug out Bag. If it is packed too light than there are essentials that are missed. If it is packed to heavy than It won’t bug out very far without help. I happened upon a nice little pack that solved my needs, made by Whirlwind. It has an extension handle and wheels I’m am currently modifying another walking stick to attach to the extension so that I can pull the backpack behind me when I am hobbling for short distances or attached to my electric scooter.

Speaking of scooters if you happen upon any Bruno brand scooters grab it they are no longer manufactured but they out last anything currently on the market. It turns out that the manufacturer stopped making them because they made them too well. Solid steel frame with an enclosed electric motor that does not get exposed to the elements like most standard motors. There are a lot of modifications one can do to this scooter that you would not be able to do to any of the other ones on the market. One other side note the Bruno battery cases are perfect for marine [deep cycle lead acid] batteries. You can swap out the chemical gel ["gel cell"] batteries with marine batteries in a pinch. The manufacturer does not recommend this. I waited until after my 10 year warranty expired before I did this. I was in the market for a new scooter by this time anyway but as long as mine was still kicking I’m going to use it until it finally dies. The reason I feel that the manufacturer did not want you to swap out the batteries is due to the cost. After extensive research on the types of batteries on the market and after reading several articles on SurvivalBlog about alternative power and battery banks I notice that with the exception of the ratings and output of any given battery it does not really matter what type is used as long as the output matches the recommended wattage usage of the device they are attached to. With the cost of the specialty batteries that the scooter manufacturer says you need I was rather irritated. The chemical gel batteries run about $180 each and I need two batteries for my scooter. That's $360.for replacement batteries. I don’t like them because they are way over-priced and wear out much too fast. After the third set I looked into an alternative. That is when I read about Marine batteries. A good marine battery can be had for less that $50 and perform just as well as the fancy chemical batteries. I can even find them on sale for less depending on the time of the year I am looking. My scooter can go 25 miles on a full charge with an average top speed of 4.5 miles per hour. It is rated for a 350 pound carry capacity. I can carry 200 pounds of gear and supplies without any problem. Add to this a small trailer and the possibilities are endless. It may be low profile but it can go over most terrain without any problems. I have been able to take it up a 45 degree grade hill without any trouble except I had to lean forward to the front to prevent it from coming up and flipping me backwards.

Hope this helps anyone out there who may find that they may need to depend on a walking stick now or in the future. I will be typing follow up articles on additional items and skills to help those who are disabled and are survival-minded.


Farmer John asked for some input on his Chevy Sprint engine project.
I had a Sprint years ago, along with several other very-small engine autos - including a 1969 Subaru 360, Fiat with an 850 cc engine, a two-stroke-cycle DKW, and even a car with a 650 c.c. Royal Enfield motorcycle engine. The Subaru had a two-stroke-cycle gasoline engine with 25 horse. On an absolute flat highway at 55 MPH and no wind, it could get 65 MPG. My Sprint could get close to 50 MPG on a flat highway, and dropped to the high 30s on highway with steep inclines. They all relied on a formula of small engines, very light weight, and light engine-loads for good fuel economy. That is not what happens when you use such an engine for medium or high load PTO work, e.g. running a electric generator. The auto industry and./or EPA uses a measure of "miles per gallon" to reflect overall fuel efficiency capabilities of a car or truck that depend on many factors that go well beyond the engine itself. The industrial/agricultural industry uses a different measure for efficiency since the issue at hand is the engine’s ability to provided sustained medium or hard usage at a certain fuel-use rate. This figure is usually given in "horsepower hours per gallon". These two ratings have little relationship with one another. A car engine with good fuel mileage is usually not a good candidate for hard steady use - particularly because of a short stroke to large bore ratio, compression ratio, valve lift, duration, and timing designed for highway use, et cetera. A lot of experimentation and testing has been done over the years to register fuel consumption with engines being worked via the Nebraska Testing Institute. These include engines running on kerosene, diesel, gasoline, distillate, tractor fuel, and LP (propane). One of the highest efficiency engines run on gasoline was an Allis Chalmers 33 horsepower engine - year 1962 - that provided an efficiency rating of 13 horsepower hours per gallon of gasoline. For reference, the worst gas engine tested at only 3 horsepower hours per gallon.
One of the best diesels is a John Deere tractor - actually built by Yanmar in Japan and it yielded a rating of 18.6 horsepower hours per gallon at 62 horsepower.
With engines run hard on propane - they are relatively poor performers. The best on record with Nebraska Tests is Case tractor that is rated a 9.9 horsepower hours per gallon at 71 horsepower. Propane has less energy per gallon than gasoline or diesel - there is no getting around that.
In brief - engines being worked hard tested as such in Horsepower Hours per Gallon:
Diesel - 9.2 low to 18.6 high.
Gasoline - 3.3 low to 13.1 high
Distillate - 6.7 low to 12.4 high
Kerosene - 4.8 low to 11.3 high
LP - Propane - 7.2 low to 9.9 high
Taking a look a modern cars and trucks today - they still are not much more efficient that the same built 40 years ago, when worked hard. Take a 2007 Chevy 3/4[-ton] truck with a gas engine and pull a heavy trailer, and it will do little better than a 1960s Chevy truck doing the same. However, the newer truck will do much better when driven at a light load.
One example: I recently used a 2007 Chevy truck with a 5.3 liter engine to pull a 5,000 lb. trailer and got an average of 9.2 MPG. Did the same with my 1967 Chevy truck with a 5.7 liter engine and got 9.5 MPG. Not much difference. - John in New York

SurvivalBlog reader Chuck accurately notes that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is in a predicament. At this juncture the Fed can neither raise nor lower interest rates without powerful macro level repercussions. Chuck mentioned that Mad Money host Jim Cramer made a passionate plea to Ben Bernanke to consider cutting interest rates that would in turn help the market and the people who are losing their jobs on Wall Street. More liquidity via lower interest rates might mean a brief respite for the battered US residential real estate market as well as the equities markets. But if Mr. Bernanke lowers rates then he will crack the critical support level for the US Dollar Index, which appears sacred at 80. And if the Fed raises rates, it will put Wall Street into a tail spin and possibly plunge the economy into depression. Hmmm... Quite a predicament. OBTW, SurvivalBlog reader "Boosters" mentioned that Fred at iTulip has already created an interesting annotated edit of the Cramer segment.

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First Armed Robots on Patrol in Iraq.

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More on Zimbabwe: IMF Issues 100,000% inflation alert. Regular contributor SF in Hawaii also mentioned this "must read" letter from Cathy Buckle that recently ran at the web site: Zimbabwe - Crawling Under Razor Wire To Leave. SF's comment: "[This] could have been good survival fiction. Too bad that its real" JWR's comment: "Gee, weren't we just talking about essential fats and oils?"

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I have added the new USPS "Forever" Liberty Bell postage stamps as a payment option for 10 Cent Challenge subscription payments, consulting fees, and for items purchased from my Mail Order Catalog.

"Half an hour. [Pack just] one bag, plus the guns. I'll make pancakes."
In the next scene:
"Every family has rules, and we had ours: Keep your head down. Keep yours eyes up. Resist the urge to be seen as important or special. Know your exits." - Lena Headey as Sarah Connor, The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Pilot episode screenplay by Josh Friedman.)

Monday, August 6, 2007

The publisher's special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends in just two days. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. I'm not sure if and when the sale will ever be repeated, so get you orders in soon! If ordering by mail, be sure to have your letter postmarked no later than Wednesday, August 8th.

A few comments in regard to fuel choices, in response to what is posted on your web site. There is mention of the legal difficulty of getting a 1,000 gallon tank of diesel installed at a homesite. I guess I have to ask, what is the difficulty? I've lived in several rural areas in the northeast, and it's never been a problem here. Where I live now in central New York state, anybody
can have up to 1,000 gallons per tax-map parcel without any interference, permits, etc. Many homes in my area have dual 275 or 500 tanks inside the house, down the basement, out of sight. I have five tanks - but since my farm is composed of eight separate deeded parcels - all contiguous but still with distinct tax-map numbers - I can easily install more tanks with zero permits or legal issues.
I also have two diesel pickup trucks with 100 gallon capacity each - which gives me more storage.

There is nothing wrong with liking or preferring liquid propane (LP) gas - however - in many ways it is inferior to other fuels. Getting a large quantity of LP gas in my area is more difficult than for diesel. I own two 1,000 gallon LP tanks. I bought them myself since no local gas company would install one of their own - since I do not use enough gas to satisfy them. And, even after buying the tanks, nobody was willing to fill them without an inspected gas line and regulator system, along with a county permit. All that is not exactly what I call "easy."
When it comes to using LP for electric generators - the big advantage is when it is used for gensets that spend most of their lives sitting around in "stand-by" mode. This is very common since many consumers buy such generators for emergency situations that rarely occur. On the other hand, if someone intends to use their generator - LP can be a waste of energy and money. Heating oil/diesel fuel has about 130,000 BTUs per gallon. Gasoline about 114,000 per gallon. LP has only 84,000 BTUs per gallon. Now - take prices. I just bought 1,000 gallons of dyed farm diesel/heating oil for $2.30 per gallon. I bought LP last month for $1.99 per gallon. So at present prices, for dyed diesel, that is 5,652,174 BTUs of energy. Meanwhile, the same number of dollars spent on propane yields just 4,236,181 BTUs.
Besides the better bargain in BTUs per dollar, a diesel engine will run more efficiently than an engine run on propane. Take one example with a typical modern 12,000 watt generator. A typical propane powered unit will run 36 hours at full load on 100 gallons of LP - costing approximately $199 ($1.99 per gallon). A same size diesel genset will run 36 hours at full load on 40 gallons of fuel costing approximately $92 ($2.30 per gallon). I'm no math wiz, but that seems to be twice as efficient, overall. The same [multi-fuel] unit - when run on gasoline at full load with run 59 hours on 100 gallons of gas costing approximately $290 ($2.90 per gallon).

Obviously, all the fuels have their advantages and disadvantages. But, if planning for a crisis and trying to maximize on short supplies - I can't figure where LP makes any sense on a long term basis - except for this: Many small gensets sold for LP use are tri-fuel - i.e., they will run on natural gas, LP vapor, or gasoline. It is possible to further convert such a unit to run on wood smoke - if needed - which you cannot do with a diesel. On the other hand, you can run a diesel on many types of plant matter extracts, vegetable oils [both virgin and waste], waste motor oils, et cetera. - John from central New York

JWR Adds: There is one other important factor to be considered: The service life of low-RPM diesels versus other genset engines, which generally run at higher RPM. If a diesel engines lasts three times as long, with all other factors being equal, its derived lifetime cost per hour of lighting is substantially less than with higher-RPM gensets that use other fuels. Aside from installations in Arctic climates (where diesel fuel gelling can be a problem), diesel gets my vote!

As usual, I found this article [from London, Ontario, about national differences in charitable giving] while browsing something unrelated. I read through it, thought you and possibly the blog readers might benefit from it. I offer a small text extract, to whet your whistle:

"Brooks also found a strong and specific correlation between political ideology and charity. In both the United States and Europe, conservatives who believe in limited government are far more likely to make charitable contributions than are liberals who think government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality.
Note the irony: Liberals who support the governmental redistribution of income are apt to deride conservatives as selfish, yet these liberals are far less likely than conservatives to donate their own time and money to help the poor and needy. Of course, there are subsets within both groups: For example, religious liberals are a lot more generous than secular conservatives.
Many of the liberals who give little or nothing to charity try to justify their selfishness by saying government is more effective than private charity at redistributing income.
Brooks argues that the combination of relatively small government and high rates of charitable givings has contributed to the extraordinary economic prosperity and relatively high living standards for all income classes in the United States."

Regards, - Ben L.

Mr. Rawles:
About noon on Friday, I was starting to write a mean e-mail, because y'all were late in the putting up the blog posts for the day. You see, I've been a daily reader of SurvivalBlog since about April of 2006, and I'd gotten used to you putting the posts up like clockwork, right around (or before) midnight for the next day. It has become my habit to read the blog while having my morning coffee and waiting for my employees to arrive. (I run a lawnmower and power tool shop in a fair-sized city in Georgia, and I'm an early riser.) Then a thought struck me: What cotton-pickin' right do I have to complain about late blog posts, when I haven't done hardly anything to support the blog, other than just buy a copy of your novel? It wasn't until your new daily posts weren't there for a few hours later than usual that I started to think just what my day would be like without reading those posts. Now I'm now sorta glad y'all were late [in posting] on Friday. It made me appreciate what what I've been getting free every day for more than a year. And up until that glitch on Friday, you were very consistent. Please accept my apology, and my two-year 10 Cent Challenge subscription payment. (I'm mailing a check before the P.O. closes today.) Sincerely, - Parker

"The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind." - Thomas Paine

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Today is the Second Anniversary of SurvivalBlog. Thanks for making the blog such a huge success, worldwide. (See our global hit map.) Our readership is still growing. I greatly appreciate so many readers sharing their knowledge in their letters and articles. Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog to your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and church brethren. Adding a SurvivalBlog graphic links to your web pages and e-mail footers really helps. Many Thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles -
I need some advice on storing fats and oils. I have read that the shelf life these essentials can be extended by keeping them in an air tight container, and avoiding exposure to heat and light, but even then the shelf life of these products is no more than a year or so. Shortening, which used to have a shelf life of up to ten years, is no longer sold in metal cans, giving it a much shorter shelf life. How are others dealing with this problem?

Also, I have thought about other sources of oils that one could use once the stockpile has been used up. I found this link on making your own seed press out of a metal frame and a three ton jack. It also gives instructions on how to dehull the sunflower seeds with a grain mill, as well as winnowing them with a vacuum cleaner.
I hope your readers find this information helpful. - Tim R.


One of the TEOTWAWKI issues we must contend with is where to get our oils and fats. Historically, sources of sustainable fats and oils included dairy, animal fat, nuts, vegetables (olives), seeds and certain legumes (peanuts). Let us examine these in turn. Dairy requires the animals, the skills to manage them and the ability to feed them. If you do not have all of these requirements these then dairy is off the list. Animal fats require either animal husbandry, hunting, trapping and/or fishing. Animal husbandry gives us the same challenges as dairy. Hunting, trapping and fishing require locations where it is possible to do so. Nuts come from trees so if you don't already have them now, don't expect anything from them for a long time [given the many years it takes to grow a nut tree to productive maturity]. This leaves plants like peanuts and seeds such as sunflower. I humbly request that those more knowledgeable in agriculture chime in and let us know which (if any) other legumes and seeds they would recommend for edible oil in terms of ease of production and harvesting as well and yield. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Both of these letters raise an issue that is often overlooked in long term survival/preparedness planning. I believe that fats and oils are consciously ignored by food storage vendors, because they love to market their "complete" three year and five year food storage packages. The problem is that those food assortments do not include the requisite multiple-year supply essential fats and oils! And I believe that they do this because they have nothing in their bag of tricks to provide suitable sources of fats and oils that store well for five years. They are doing their customers a huge disservice by this omission. Granted, most of them mention in their catalogs that cooking oil and shortening must be added to their storage program, but they hardly trumpet that fact. Unfortunately, most of the typical "buy and forget" customers--those that don't practice using their storage foods--overlook this! And it isn't just a matter of having shortening available as an ingredient to bake with the grain that you grow or store. Fats and oils are a nutritional necessity--some fat is needed for health and nutrition.

Raising livestock is a great way to provide fats for your diet. A few home-raised pigs will provide your family with both meat and a source of fat. (So much that you'll have extra available for charity or barter.) For those readers that avoid pork, I'd recommend raising sheep or emus. Emu oil is amazing stuff. Anyone that has ever butchered an emu (as I have) can tell you that there is a tremendous amount of oil stored in an adult emu. Fish raised in ponds are another possibility. Anyone considering taking up aquaculture should consider raising at least one particularly oily species, such as shad, just as a source of fish oil.

If you have the room to keep one or more cow, you will have a huge source of butterfat. (Again, so much that you'll have extra available for charity or barter.) If cattle are too large for you to handle, or if you live in an area with CC&Rs that restrict them, then you might be able to raise dairy goats. They are quite easy to handle (but sometimes a challenge to fence), and they do a great job of clearing brush. It is difficult to make butter from most goat milk. American Nubians have some of the highest butterfat milk of all the goat breeds. Even still, it must be run through a separator before you can make butter.

Egg yolks are another important source of fat. This is yet another reason to keep a laying flock. (That is, until a new strain of H5 Asian Avian Flu comes along. Then be ready to butcher all your chickens and emus in a hurry.) Growing peanuts and sunflower is an option in much of North America, and olive trees is viable for folks that live in mild climate zones. Do you have an oil press? If not, then you can buy one from Lehman's.

Hunting isn't much of an option unless you live in bear, beaver, wild pig, or emu country. (On the latter: It is notable that SurvivalBlog has a lot of readers in Australia.) Most other wild game lacks sufficient fat. Rabbit meat is particularly low in fat. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, a diet consisting of mostly rabbit meat will lead to slow starvation. Venison by itself is quite low in fat. Just ask your neighborhood butcher how he makes venison sausage. He will probably tell you that his recipe includes adding plenty of pork fat.

A diet that has too much lean meat can lead to both severe digestive problems and even malnutrition. If you plan to depend heavily on wild game or livestock that you raise, then be sure to provide for some bulk fiber in your diet. To provide this fiber, you must ether sprout it, grow it in your garden, or store it. Don't overlook this aspect of preparing your survival larder!

Survivalists need to seriously re-think the way that they process the wild game that they harvest. Odds are that you currently throw away fat, kidneys, tongues, and intestines. Some hunters even discard hearts and livers. Wasting valuable sources of fat would be foolish in a survival situation. Take a few minutes to read this article: Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans. American Indians were famous for hoarding fat. Bear grease and fat from beaver tails were both particularly sought after. (And BTW, they have multiple uses including lubrication, medicinal uses, and even as a source of fuel for lighting.) One of my favorite books is The Last of the Mountain Men, a biography of Sylvan Hart (a.k.a. "Buckskin Bill"). Hart was an Idaho solitary that lived in the remote River of No Return wilderness (southeast of Grangeville and northwest of Salmon, Idaho.) In the book, Hart makes several mentions of bear grease and its importance for self-sufficient living.

One important proviso about bears for anyone living up in polar bear country: Avoid eating more than a quarter ounce of polar bear liver per month. Because of the polar bear's diet out on the ocean pack ice, like many other polar region predators their livers contains so much concentrated Vitamins A and D that is cause vitamin poisoning when eaten. (A quarter-pound of polar bear liver contains about 2,250,000 units of vitamin A. That is roughly 450 times the recommended daily dose for an adult weighing 175 pounds.) From what I have read, this is thankfully not an issue with bears in lower latitudes.

For urbanite or suburbanite preppers that don't hunt, don't fish, don't have the room to raise livestock, and don't have the room to grow peanuts, olives, or sunflowers on a large scale, there are precious few options for long-term sources of fats and oils. The first option is expensive but viable: Once every 18 months completely rotate your supply:. Donate the unused portion of your stored stock of cooking oil and shortening/lard to your local food bank--or if it has gone rancid, set it aside for making biodiesel, candles or soap. (Speaking of soap making, be sure to stock up on plenty of lye (sodium hydroxide). Until about three years ago, lye was sold in the US as drain cleaner, under several brand names including Red Devil. Sadly, lye is no longer widely available in the US, but there are still some Internet lye vendors. One of them is a SurvivalBlog affiliate advertiser: Lehman's. And of course acquire all of the requisite safety equipment including goggle and gloves. Lye is highly caustic.)

The other thing that you can do is buy a case or two of canned butter, once every three years. Canned butter is available from Best Prices Storable Foods and from Ready Made Resources. (Both of these firms are reputable and both are long-time SurvivalBlog advertisers.)

As I've mentioned in the blog before, be very selective about the fats and oils that you store. Some that you buy in your local supermarket are borderline rancid and unhealthy even when "freshly made." I prefer olive oil over corn oil. I also prefer storing canned butter over Crisco-type shortening or canned lard. For those that do prefer shortening, its shelf life can be extended by re-packing it in Mason-type canning jars. Some brands of lard are still packed in all-metal cans, which provides a longer shelf life. Look in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store for cans marked"Manteca", which is Spanish for lard.

Study up on fats and oils. This article by Carl L. Alsberg and Alonzo E. Taylor is a good general overview. Think through how you would provide for your family in a long-term societal collapse. Odds are that you will conclude that you must either; a.) relocate to an area with abundant wild game, or b.) buy more acreage so that you can grow sunflowers and raise swine or cattle. To be the best prepared, you should pursue both.


[Regarding your reply to the recent letter about military surplus ammunition prices,] cheap ammunition is indeed a thing of the past. The reasons for this are several;

1) Under new UN small arms treaties, many states are now committed to destroy small arms ammunition rather than allow it to fall into the hands of "Unapproved Users" (which does not include psycho dictators, just civilians).

2) US small arms ammunition is now going "Green" with lead replaced with Tungsten-Tin, Tungsten-Polymer and other non-toxic materials, which means they cannot be sold to civilians as they fall under "Armor piercing handgun ammunition" category { "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium,"}. And yes Virginia, 5.56 and 7.62 NATO are "Pistol" ammunition to the BATFE.
[P.S. It might interest everyone to know that the Tungsten comes from China, wonder what would happen if China stopped being so friendly]

3) The Clintonistas passed a regulation that made "Military Propellants" a controlled item (not for sale to the unwashed), so the ammunition must have the powder replaced with commercial powder before it could be sold as surplus. The increased costs involved made it cheaper to destroy the ammo than to sell it, especially since the cost goes on the budget right away, while the profit goes on the next fiscal year. Combined with No 2 above, this is why the government has burned billions (yes B, BILLIONS) of rounds of 7.62 NATO over the last 12 years or so. [JWR Adds: The "popped" ammunition components that come out of the incinerators is then sold as scrap metal. Very sad.]

4) Increased costs of materials (copper, nickel, lead, etc.) as well as higher transportation costs, higher import fees, and compliance costs for various regulations, will keep the price of new ammo high, even after the huge drain on production involved with the "War on Terror" slows.

The bottom line is stock up! Don't expect prices to go down or supplies to go up, because barring some serious changes in the situation, they won't.

Don't miss out on the special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. The sale ends on August 8th, so place your order soon!

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Ben L. sent us this: Water Tables Falling and Rivers Running Dry

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I just heard that the prices of most of the SurvivalBlog t-shirts will be increasing soon. (The maker had previously been charging the same for shirts printed only on the front and those printed both front and back. They will soon assess a $3 surcharge for all shirts that have both front and back printing. Most of our shirts have Heinlein's "Specialization is for insects" quote printed on the back.) Sorry, but this pricing change is beyond my control. So if you want a shirt at the current price, get your order in right away.

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Commentary from Susan C. Walker: Subprime Storm Mimics Katrina

"For man also does not know his time:

Like a fish taken in a cruel net,

Like birds caught in a snare,

So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,

when it falls suddenly upon them. - Ecclesiastes 9:12 (NKJV)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The high bid is now at $330 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources. They are one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends on August 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

I am working on two generator set-ups and would like some feedback. I am working on a Mercedes OM636 and a 3 cylinder, 1 liter [displacement] Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro/Suzuki motor. In this letter I'll describe the 3 cylinder and why I think it will work at a retreat [to power a generator]. The 3 cylinder goes back to 1982 with GM’s Project Saturn in 1982. It achieved better than 100 miles per gallon (mpg). On a trip from Warren, Michigan to New York it averaged 105 mpg on the highway and 75 mpg in the city. It was dropped because of safety requirements and creature comforts that would require extra horsepower. (Hot Rod magazine, November 2006, page 30)

The GM Sprint 1985-1988 was the precursor to the Geo Metro. It had a carburetor intake and got around 60 mpg.

1989-1994 Geo Metro was fuel injected and got less mpg--around 45-to-50 mpg. Engine is rated around 50 horsepower (hp). They had another model called the XFi that pushed the car to 60mpg. The XFi has about 10 HP less but much lower RPM torque. Check out With fuel injection came a better cooling in the head. The 1989-1991 engines can be run without the car’s computer. I contacted, a company that uses the geo metro motor in ultra light aircraft. I saw they had magnetos for the engine (aircraft) and contacted them about one for my generator. They responded “Just use the early model (Vacuum advance distributor) '89’ -'91 which has is own igniter module and needs only a coil and 12 volts DC to run the ignition." This advice came from Jeron Smith, phone: (505) 737-9656. I have found many Geos with over 150,000 miles, some close to 200,000. These engines did have a problem with the number two cylinder burning valves. The cause of this was the EGR valve going bad. I plan on removing the EGR valve.

The engine is aluminum block with steel sleeves with an aluminum over head cam head. The engine is just over one hundred pounds which means it can be moved from the retreat easier than my diesel if the need arises. I plan on using the 1989-1991 head for better cooling and the distributor. I have an XFi cam.

Right now I can hear the moans [from SurvivalBlog readers] that it is a gas motor. I plan on running it on propane. I will use an earlier carburetor intake for mounting a propane carburetor for a 1 liter motor. The motor has a compression ratio of around 8 to 1. Propane is more efficient around 14 to 1. I hope to machine the heads to 12 to 1. Propane also allows me to move the fuel with the engine if I have to run. I will have the block squared and the crank bore-aligned. This little 3 cylinder it has 4 main bearings so it should handle the compression increase. I plan on using synthetic oil after the break in.

I can use the AC compressor that comes with the engine for refrigeration, the air pump for an air tank, will pull the heat off the cooling and the exhaust for heating water and the building. (My OM636 has an exhaust manifold that is used on inboard boats that allows me to capture the heat off the exhaust). I will be able to produce 12 VDC, and 110/220 and three phase off a 10 KVA continuous duty cycle military generator. I thought of buying a bigger unit but I am not sure if I need one. Using this engine allows me to change the RPM if the need arises for belt run machines. I plan on running the engine at 2,400 rpm.

Not sure if this will work, but with an easy supply of parts, one could rebuild/maintain it easily. Figure at 100,000 miles on a engine at an average 40 mph, it gets 2,500 hours of use. So you could run it for 500 days, for five hours per day. Figuring [the equivalent of] 60 mpg [at 2,400 rpm] you would need around 1,650 gallons.of propane. I think I will get better than that in fuel economy. Thanks,- Farmer John

Wow, good thing our cousins across the pond had firearms to defend themselves from the looters...
I was in Jersey City [, New Jersey, USA] about two weeks ago when a 46 inch[-diameter] water main broke and there was no water pressure for 48 hours. My friend that I was staying with had no water at all except half a case of 1/2 liter drinking water bottles. We were able to get to the supermarket where they were rationing the stock to four gallons per person. So we bought the maximum and [did the same] again the next morning. his girlfriend and my wife were disgusted at the thought of "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down", as we had to refill the toilet tanks in his 38th-floor apartment a couple of times. It was relatively local, affecting several thousand people. But even that small of an area affected the mindset as it was very hot and humid and nobody could shower and it was stressful. I don't think anybody in Jersey City or Hoboken [, New Jersey] owns a Berkey filter or even a Katadyn hiking filter. My friend told me that after they got water on it was murky for a few days until it filtered through the system. Thanks, Tim L.

Dear JWR:
I have read your novel "Patriots" twice now, and have begun preparations to build a retreat. I am in agreement with the initial premise of "Patriots", that financial collapse is likely going to trigger massive problems in this country.

I have enclosed a link to an 11 minute speech [a video in Windows Media Viewer (.wmv) format] by David Walker, the US Comptroller General - the top accountant of the Federal government. He warns of the kind of national bankruptcy you did in "Patriots". Though he cannot directly point the finger at his Congressional masters, he makes it extremely clear that the country will not be able to meet its obligations in the near future. Though he lists many solutions to the problem, they are all politically impossible; and knowing that, one can see the imminent specter of national bankruptcy or full monetization (printing of money) to "solve" the problem.

I cannot find a clearer demonstration of impending disaster than this video. Sincerely, - M. Richards in New Mexico

The following video clip link was recommend by Richard at KT Ordnance. That manic CNBC TV market analyst Jim Cramer says "Just Walk Away" from upside down home loan situations. He also accurately describes the incipient "2 and 28" ARM home loan rate reset disaster. I have said before in SurvivalBlog: If people get sufficiently upside down in their mortgages in the midst of a recession, they will indeed pack up and abandon their houses, leaving their bankers to clean up the mess. Feel free to quote me on this prediction.

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Don't miss out on the special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. The sale ends on August 8th, so place your order soon!

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In one of his recent e-newsletters, economist Dr. Gary North mentioned the Mortgage Lending Implode-O-Meter web site, which tracks the number of banks that have gone under in the current liquidity crisis. Be sure to check out their news article links.

"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words 'no' and 'not' employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights." - Rev. Edmund A. Opitz (1914-2006)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sorry that today's blog posts are going up later than usual. Our family berry-picking trip took longer than expected. Yum!

There are still a few free advertising spots available for our new Survival Realty web site. (A spin-off from SurvivalBlog.) The new site will be launched on or about August 15th. We are accepting both agent ads and "for sale by owner" ads.

Don't miss out on the special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. The sale ends on August 8th, so place your order soon!

Today we present another article for Round 12 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 11 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I am writing this essay with a bit of trepidation. I do not want to make you think I am an expert on anything, but I do think a lot and have spent a lot of time studying the economy. Mr. Rawles can verify that my education and training are as follows — I am in the medical profession and also an attorney. I am also in the Air National Guard, after spending many years in the Army Reserve. I was deployed in 2003-04, primarily to Kuwait, but also made trips to Iraq, Qatar, and Djibouti. I also spent most of 1997 in Bosnia.
My concern is that most of the friends and relatives that I have, think preparing for hard times is like taking a weekend camping trip. I am working diligently to get peoples’ attention, as this is so far from what I see coming. Due to my work as an attorney, I have spent considerable time helping clients invest money in non-traditional arenas. Because of this, I have been exposed to two or three people who have studied this extensively. One of them calls the coming trouble “The Big Rollover.”
Ray’s essay a few days ago was very good — the decision-making process is important and most of us never stop to consider it at all. The same is true about the Big Rollover - how many of us stop to really think about what is coming? Oh, I know, you read "Patriots", but in the back of your mind you think that that could not really happen. I am here to tell you that you might be right, but you might also be way off! Well, maybe not, but what will you do if the bank you go to locks up your account? I have clients that are dealing with this right now! Have any ideas what you can do when the grocery store is out of food? What about fresh bread and milk? How often do you go to Wally World? They use the Just In Time (JIT) delivery system, too, and will have empty shelves just as quickly as local stores.
What will you do when you are notified that your pension fund is bankrupt, gone forever? It happened to thousands of people in my area due to the Enron scandal a few years ago. How long will social insecurity last? Your guess is probably better than mine.
I am just like all the rest of you — I hope and pray that this does not come as quickly or as severely as some people are saying. But, what can you do? I will give you some ideas, take them or leave them:
1. Become fanatical about saving money and stocking up on anything that will store for a long time. Get it organized, and labeled, and learn to manage it well.
2. Be quiet about this and find a way to do this without calling attention to yourself.
3. Think about the failure of the power grid and what you will do if you are out of electricity for a long time — maybe months or years. Gensets, fuel, wind generators, solar collectors are all great, but think about what you will do to keep your windows blacked out if you are the only one with electricity. Talk about a lure for looters. Watch out!
4. Learn to speed read - I have way too much to read, but try to spend one to two hours everyday reading and learning all I can.
5. Make sure you have some extra beds - even if you have to put them in the garage or barn. We already have an adult child and her husband living with us due to a bad landlord, and it does change the dynamics of your household.
6. Learn to garden — find someone who has some dirt and learn to grow vegetables and fruit (BTW, my dearly beloved tomatoes are fruit). Go to and — both good sites and there are other sites out there, too. Eat what you grow and learn how to store it - can, freeze, dry, vacuum pack it or whatever else you can figure out how to do. Also, learn to save seeds. This may actually save your life during the coming trouble.
7. Become an active member of a relatively small local church. If you do not understand this, you are in serious trouble.
8. If you cannot control your addiction to television, throw it out or give it away. I am not kidding.
9. Learn to fix everything you can. If you do not have a knack for fixing things, get to work and learn all you can. This is not an option. When doing this, stock up on parts and supplies for everything you own or want to own.
10. Buy things that will last a long time. I am driving a 20-year old Mercedes Benz now that is in great shape. How many other cars last this long? I can keep it for at least ten more years, but may buy a newer one to last for the next 15 to 20 years of bad times.
11. Make things last longer. I just received back my first knife that a man in Omaha froze to near absolute zero. A friend has been using a disposable razor to shave her legs for a year now with the same treatment. Others surely know about this type of process, but it seems to be truly amazing. And, I am quite a fan of German engineering.
12. Everything I own has synthetic or semi-synthetic oil in it, and has for the past 20 years. I am also putting Cermax® in everything that burns oil products - it somehow embeds a two micron layer of ceramic into the metal. And, Cermax® is cheap - I think the price is $29.95 or soon will be $39.95 for each treatment of two ounces. Go to and look around -- you may have to register (free, no obligation) and if you do, my ID is 10075, which they ask for to create an account. I love Amsoil® products, but they are very expensive. I am growing very fond of Schaeffer® oil products - is their site.
13. Decide what to do about medical issues and medications. Learn to live without doctors and drugs. I know this will irritate some people on this site, but these people are the ones who have issues. The medical care system is just about ready to implode, in my opinion, so avoid it as much as you can and when you cannot, develop relationships to help you. Think outside the box - I am very biased, but I have found that some of the best medical thinkers are veterinarians, dentists, and nurses.
14. In spite of my passionate dislike for television, we are stocking up on clothes, books (, movies, toys for our grandchildren, board games, outdoor games, and more.
15. Learn not to be too imperialistic. I am the head of my household, but I am not a dictator. I am a fairly high ranking officer in the guard, and have to be careful when I come home from duty times, not to bark too many orders! But, in the changing dynamics of our economy and our families, someone has to be in charge in every situation and to be a good leader, you also need to know how to take orders yourself, at times.
16. Be careful about what you eat. The big food companies do not actually put the true ingredients on many labels and we now consume so much processed food it is frightening. Try to not go to the store more than once a week, then once a month. What will you do if this is the actual scenario that comes in a couple of years? How long will you survive if you cannot get to the store? I have heard it said that you can live three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food.
17. One of the large, untapped markets in America, in my opinion, is growing and selling organic fruits and vegetables. Go to the above link, and see how you can spend a few hundred dollars and get one, two, or three of Len Pense’s raised beds operational (cost $417.00 each plus the cement blocks, plus shipping or transportation) and grow lots of crops you can sell. Then, in the coming years it costs about $50.00 per raised bed per year to maintain them. Also, I am working on a patent for a plant breeder, who has a couple of special tomatoes that sell in his area (Washington state) for $3.95 to as high as $6.95 a pound. In my area, if I can get $2.00 to $3.00 a pound, I would do well. You may not become a trillionaire, but you can make some decent money and won’t starve in the process. Mr. Pense does not use any soil, so his crops are 100% organic and free of weeds and bacteria (e.g. E. Coli H0157). I can put you in touch with the tomato breeder and you can grow these plants directly from the seeds. I am a privacy freak, but you can email and I will contact you.
18. Another great way to make some money is by growing dirt-raised chickens. See this site - - the information about Polyface Farm Intensive Farming methods are very intriguing. I receive $90.00 per acre per year from the chemical farmer who farms the dirt here in the midwest. If I can turn one acre into $1,500 per year of profit, even with a bit of work, that is very tempting. The big key looks to me like it is marketing the product, but this may not be as hard as one thinks initially.
In the summer of 1929, in northwest Kansas, where I was born, my maternal grandfather (who passed away three months before I was born) bought a farm on a handshake. A few weeks later he told my grandmother, whom I knew well and did not pass away until I was 30 years old, that he thought he should go pay for this farm. He made a trip to a bank in a nearby Nebraska town, just a few miles north of their farm. He got the money out of this bank, which nearly depleted his account, and paid for the farm and recorded the deed in the courthouse. A few weeks later, along came October 29, 1929, and you know what happened.
Well, my grandmother told me several times how much they benefited because during the Great Depression they had this farm bought and paid for, but the bank where the money was eventually closed, and their account would have been totally lost. This farm is still owned by one of my cousins, and every time I drive by it I think about this lesson.
I think you should have some cold, hard greenbacks stored up, just for emergencies. And, have some gold and silver, because we may need them for barter before you know it. Pay off your debts as fast as you can. And, if you cannot, rotate your debts to protect yourself as much as possible.
One advisor says “you cannot be too wealthy going into the Big Rollover, ” and he is probably right. I am not sure where it is safe to store money now - I think JWR is probably right, it is better to buy stuff, than have money in a bank. But, now this takes some big changes in our thinking. My clients, for the most part, have a comfort level with money and this comfort level is almost always related to their bank account balance.
A good web site to go belongs to Harry Dent, who has written several good books about the coming trouble and he is using demographics to map out what he sees coming. He says that the downturn will start in 2009 or 2010. At Dent's site there is a 15 page report dated October 31, 2006, that is pretty good reading.
Acres USA is a very good magazine for organic farming and gardening.
An adviser whom I trust a lot, says that late 2008 to early 2009, will start the trouble. He describes 16 major forces converging in this time frame that all affect our economy. He says, correctly, that it is not possible to accurately predict the timing nor the severity, that you need to be prepared as much as you can.
I have six rules for clients who invest money and these are not optional:
1. Diversify
2. Diversify
3. Diversify
4. Make Your Money Work For You
5. Spend Less Than You Earn & Earn More Than You Spend
6. The Most Important Things In Life Cannot Be Bought Nor Sold With Money
So, in conclusion, wake up and smell the coffee - trouble is brewing, and I do not have all the answers, but I do know that we need to be prepared for years of living without many or even most of the conveniences we have all become accustomed to having without even thinking about how it happens!
My list of ideas is not complete nor exhaustive. Actually, I am of the opinion that preparation is a work in progress and for many it is a complete lifestyle change.
I am an optimist - my parents were both born during the Great Depression and their families survived, but since then, in America, we have become fat, lazy and stupid. We will survive this one, too!
Keep thinking!

I followed the link today about ammo production declines. Do you have any idea how this may effect pricing to the public? I hear from some folks that they expect ammo prices to drop as more of the stockpile hits the market after the (hopeful) end of hostilities in Iraq, et cetera. I wondered if you had an opinion of how things may evolve. Thanks, - Jason in Idaho

JWR Replies: I expect ammo prices to remain high, and in fact continue to climb as long as global commodities prices--especially copper and lead--remain high. The world's credit markets are clearly starting to tighten, which will eventually slide the global economy into recession, or perhaps even depression. It will not be until after the wheels of industry slow considerably that commodities prices will weaken. Then, and only then, will ammo prices start to level off, and perhaps come down a bit.

You must consider that all of the world's paper currencies are continuing to inflate on average at around 4% annually, as a baseline. That means that there is no longer such thing as reversion to "the old prices." Unless governments choose the painful path and opt for deflation, prices will never go down. Far more likely they will opt for the painless (in their perspective) path, and inflate their way out of their economic problems. Inflation is an insidious hidden form of taxation that gradually robs the citizenry of their buying power, and makes their savings worth less and less. Governments can inject massive liquidity, at will, by adjusting central bank interest rates. This creates billions of electronic Dollars, Yen, and Euros. They can also print as much paper currency as they'd like. Our current Federal Reserve Chairman has publicly said that he'd drop money from helicopters, if need be, to stop deflation. (Which earned him the derisive nickname "Helicopter Ben.")

It is noteworthy that the article mentioned the government's average cost for a round of rifle ammunition was around 35 cents--and that is with the "economies of scale" of producing 2+ million rounds per day! With the current high cost of commodities, commercial ammo makers would be hard pressed to match that. To put things in perspective, 35 cents per round equates to $7 per box of 20 cartridges. (The "cost per 20" is the measure by which most Americans gauge ammo prices.) Again, $7 is the government's cost. In the civilian world, there are both wholesale and retail markups before most products make their way into the hands of the buying public. With those markups in mind, and continuing currency inflation in mind, I don't expect the retail price of any newly produced .308 ball to ever drop below 50 cents a round again. The recent large "dumps" of Australian and South African military surplus ammo were made at scrap metal prices--based on the commodities prices of three to five years ago. Those days are gone. In the current context, those surplus sales were essentially aberrations, made because those nations no longer fielded significant numbers of 7.62 mm NATO (.308) rifles. I don't think that we'll see that sort of largesse very often again in the future.Yes, perhaps after the multinational deployment in Iraq winds down, there might be some batches of surplus ammo from foreign governments that hit the market. But keep in mind that the US government only releases surplus ammo through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and through the DoD's Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The CMP prices are tightly controlled, so as not to cause market volatility, and ostensibly to protect the taxpayers' original investment. (Read: They rarely release surplus ammo at bargain prices.)

The bottom line: Whenever you find inexpensive, high quality, common caliber ammunition available at a gun show or at a gun shop, jump on it! Some dealers have been slow at re-pricing their inventories to reflect their increased replacement cost, so take advantage of this. It is better than money in the bank. In this age of pernicious inflation, investing in tangibles makes sense. And, as previously noted in SurvivalBlog, common caliber ammunition will make a great barter item in the event of a currency collapse. Just be sure to store your "ballistic wampum" in good quality metal ammo cans with no interior rust and nice soft seals. Oh yes, and be sure to toss a small packet of silica gel in each can to absorb the ambient air moisture. Stored that way, modern ammunition will still be "sure fire" for 70+ years. A decade from now, you'll be very glad that you had the foresight to stock up. Parenthetically, I'm already thankful for the thousands of rounds of ammo that I bought back in the late 1980s and early 1990s--back when both .223 and .308 ball could be had for as little as $3.50 per box. (And some of that .308 was the outstanding West German ball. I just wish that I had bought 10 cases!) All those ammo cans are still stacked up on the shelves down in the JASBORR. I consider it all money in the bank and potentially meat on the table.

Perhaps three or four decades from now, your grandchildren will be considered "wealthy" because of your modest investment.

Matt B. sent us this bit of news that didn't come as much of a surprise: Bear Stearns Declares Bankruptcy

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GDS flagged this: Climate Change Linked to Doubling of Atlantic Hurricanes

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Alfie Omega forwarded us this: $10 Million Fire at Spokane Fuel Depot a likely act of Muslim terrorists in U.S.

"Can the real Constitution be restored? Probably not. Too many Americans depend on government money under programs the Constitution doesn't authorize, and money talks with an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy. Ignorant people don't understand The Federalist Papers, but they understand government checks with their names on them." - Joseph Sobran

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Don't miss out on the special $99.95 sale for my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This is the first time that it has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. The sale ends on August 8th, so place your order soon!

A few days back a contributor asked about hardening up her mobile home. That reminded me of a plan I have been considering over the last couple of years. This might work for those who can't relocate now to their retreat.
I was motivated to write because I just saw a news report of a family offering a considerable reward for the recovery of their ATVs which had been stolen from their vacation cabin.[My idea is to] develop a retreat location with:
1. A water supply and septic tank and [leach] field (all disguised, to discourage squatters.)
2. Underground filled and disguised propane and/or diesel and/or gasoline tanks
3. A triple-wide garage that will house an Recreational Vehicle (RV). The garage can be built to withstand armed attack as you laid out for the mobile home. And of course it should be constructed as to be invulnerable to squatters (no windows or doors, but framed for easy cutout after you arrive). It should be plumbed and wired for easy hookup.
4. You can store durable supplies and equipment, and basic but otherwise bulky furniture in the garage.
You can build chiffarobe-type cabinets and fit them with industry-size lockable casters. A few of these can be used to define living spaces in the garage. But the garage should be sealed--except for ventilation, of course, until you get there for the last time [to activate your retreat.]
This way, since you have to travel to your retreat anyway, you can get there in your RV, open your garage and drive in bringing with you the appliances, sleeping quarters etc. ready-to-go in your RV. Then you can use the rest of the garage as living quarters.
Of course, you can also vacation in your RV at your site, not only to make unobtrusive improvements but to check on conditions-- Again, without opening the garage, unless you are staying permanently.
Bob B.

JWR Replies: That approach has its merits, particularly for folks that are retired, and presently traveling with a Fifth Wheel or RV in "snow bird" mode. The drawbacks are numerous, but not insurmountable. First and foremost among the drawbacks is that unless you are willing to leave unattended supplies vulnerable to burglary in your absence, you would be painfully short of logistics if all that you had was what you could cache there at the property and what was on-board your fifth wheel or RV. One way around that is with either extensive underground caching, or better yet an under-slab shelter with a concealed entrance. (Naturally, this only an option areas that do no have a high water table.) A less expensive alternative would be to rent a "mini-storage" unit in the nearest town. The other major drawback is common to all retreats that you don't occupy year-round: In the event if a sudden onset disaster, you might be stranded and hence be unable to reach your retreat. This risk is compounded when operating a bulky, unmaneuverable fifth wheel or RV. (Smaller, off-road capable 4WD vehicles are more apropos for "Get out of Dodge" situations." So if planning to use a big RV you will have to depend on good fortune and passable roads. (You might consider carrying bicycles, folding mo-peds (available from Safecastle) or off-road motorcycles on board, just in case you have to abandon your RV, en route.) Do you feel lucky? One option to obviate part of this risk, albeit expensive, is to have two such retreats--almost identically equipped--in separate regions--so that you would have a fallback plan/fallback location. If I were wealthy and a "snowbirder" (although I'm neither!), then this is exactly what I would do.

You might have seen the news reports about the flooding in Central England last week. We’re in amongst it, but fortunately (and thanks to forward planning) high enough to have remained dry.
The primary cause of the floods was a prolonged period of exceptionally heavy rain, up to 131mm (c.5-1/2 inches) in one day. This followed hot on the heels of a very wet summer which left the ground sodden an unable to absorb the downpour, which caused flash-flooding as it ran off.
Areas not normally flood-prone have been inundated. Rivers broke their banks and filled their flood-plains.
Now this part of the country is used to flooding, although not in the summer months, as it has two of the UK’s most unstable rivers, the Severn and the Avon, passing through it. This episode, however, has been notable for the sheer amounts and force of the of water and depths of flooding. See this link and this link for some of the BBC's coverage…

The mayhem and disruption caused has been bad enough, but it has been compounded by the behaviour of some which can only be described as moronic. Conversely, the bravery of many, both in the response services and the public, has been humbling to see.
The floods caused chaos with the transport links, with railway lines and roads under several feet of water, even the M5 and M50 motorways (our equivalent to freeways) were closed after they disappeared under anything up to a foot of floodwater. This caused huge tailbacks with several thousand people stranded for up to twenty hours in their vehicles. One woman went into labour whilst in the jam on the M5 and the emergency services were unable to reach her either by ambulance or helicopter because of the conditions. Fortunately a truck-driver stuck near to her car realised the situation and used his vehicle to force a way through the water and the traffic to tow the woman’s car to the ambulance. He then apparently had to tow the ambulance as it too had become overwhelmed by the water. They managed to get the woman to hospital in time for the child to be born in the dry.
Towns and villages have been cut off for several days with residents needing rescue by boat or helicopter as the waters rose so quickly. As is always the case, some residents opt to stay with their property and many of these had to be rescued later as levels continued to rise.
The situation has been made worse by the failure of mains services; electricity and water plant were flooded, even though they were sited above normal flood levels. A water treatment plant was overwhelmed and engineers are having to wait till flood levels drop sufficiently for them to get in and assess the damage. It is estimated that mains water will be off for at least two weeks. This has resulted in the water company having to import bottled water into the area for drinking purposes and, when the floodwaters dropped sufficiently, the placing of water bowsers to enable people to obtain clean water for sanitation. Sadly, although not surprisingly, there have been cases of people vandalising the bowsers, by breaking open the taps and even by polluting the contents. There is one confirmed case of someone urinating into a life saving tank. Looting has become a problem in areas that have been evacuated, forcing police to be diverted from rescue to deal with the crimes. There was an attempt to steal a length of temporary flood barrier, supposedly for its high scrap value. It is perhaps a pity that the thieves were thwarted in their attempt as on the other side of the barrier was several feet of floodwater.
Shops outside the affected zone have seen their entire supplies of water, milk and bread bought out by ‘enterprising’ individuals who later tried to sell them at highly inflated prices to the stranded people. Fortunately the police dealt with this unsavoury bunch and the practice has all but ceased.It is now just a week since the worst downpour, although the unseasonal rains continue to add to the misery. It took considerably less than a week, however, for the infrastructure to break down. With no water or electricity, empty shops and no means of re-supply, many people were in dire straits within a couple of days. The elderly, infirm and those with young families were, and in many cases still are, in deep trouble.
For families who could remain in their homes, or who have since returned, to areas which are still without power and mains water, basic sanitation is an increasing problem. Toilet flushing has to be rationed, clothes washing is virtually impossible and personal hygiene requires a level of thought and discipline that few are used to. One woman in her forties was seen on the television stating that she thought it appalling that the authorities had not been round to each home to ‘tell us what to do’. Personal responsibility and the thought that maybe the ‘authorities’ had other things on their mind at the time did not seem to enter her thinking.As the swollen rivers send the excess waters downstream the floods, power outages and disruption travel along with them.

There has been some respite from the rains which has allowed the levels upstream to drop, and flooding to recede, but at the time of writing (Friday 27th July) more heavy rains are forecast for Saturday night and key personnel have been placed on stand-by within the response services. Further flooding is predicted as the ground is still sodden and unable to absorb any more water. Whilst writing this first report, the post has got through and I’ve received my copy of "Patriots" from the lovely people at Amazon. The opening quotation from Gene Roddenberry makes a far better ending than any I could come up with: ‘Nuclear war is not necessary to cause a breakdown of our society……their water supply comes from hundreds of miles away and any interruption of that, or food, or power for any period of time you’re going to have riots in the streets. Our society is so fragile, so dependent on (the) interworking of things…"

This has been the largest real-time test of our prepping to date. We live in a fairly isolated spot and power outages are common, but this time we have been cut-off by the floodwaters and have been thrown, albeit for a short time, upon our own resources.
Our decision was to bug-in as we believed we would fare best here; the location was chosen carefully although with some compromise due to the need to be near places of employment.
That said, it seems everyone, us included, were surprised by the sheer amounts of rain – the most in living memory in the region – and just how quickly transport and communications failed. Had we bugged out in the midst of it, we would very likely been refugees ourselves. When the recovery phase is fully underway, we will re-appraise our planning and handling of the event. Remember, no plan survives first contact..Keep safe. - Michael in England

JWR Adds: I find it amazing that in the midst of this crisis, so many people are letting the copious rainwater from their roof downspouts go to waste. They just don't have the survival mindset. At the very least, they could be using rainwater for clothes washing, bathing, and toilet flushing. With a water filter, they could also use rainwater for drinking and cooking. Take a minute to read his piece, by way of SHTF Daily: Living life without any tap water Take special note of the final quote in the article: "We also have to use bottled water to flush down the toilet, which is a waste, but we don't have any choice." Common sense, it seems, is all too uncommon.

The liberal do-gooders at eBay have turned the screws even tighter on gun owners. First they banned the sale of guns, receivers, and ammunition. Then they banned the sale of 11+ round magazines, barrels, and gun parts kits. They've also banned any auction for knives with "fighting" or "throwing" in the title or description. (But they still allow box cutter knives. Hmmmm...) Now they've announced that they are banning auction listings for all gun clips/magazines and most gun parts. They are now using the standard of "any part required for firing of a gun" for their new restriction. So I presume that all they will now allow is merely gun slings, holsters, grips, and stocks. I'm not sure how they'll treat bayonets. They'll probably ban those too. (That might help reduce the recent wave of drive-by bayonetings.)

This sort of pansy liberal feel-goodism typifies both politics and the way they do business in the Nanny States. It is no wonder that eBay is headquartered in California. (where the majority elected Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.) EBay of course is a private firm and has the right to run their business as they see fit. But SurvivalBlog is a private business, too. So I've decided drop eBay (including eBay France, eBay Australia, and as SurvivalBlog affiliate advertisers. I'm also encouraging SurvivalBlog readers to boycott them. My recommendations: When you want to buy a book or DVD, buy it from Amazon. When you want sporting goods, buy them at fixed price from US Cavalry Store or at auction from or I hardly expect these actions to bankrupt eBay. Its the principle of the matter.

Since eBay owns PayPal, you can expect to soon see PayPal adopt an almost identical restrictive policy. When you transfer funds, try to avoid using PayPal. Instead, please use AlertPay or GearPay -- because they don't share PayPal's anti-gun political agenda.

Ken McC. sent us this: German bank becomes first EU victim of U.S. subprime mortgage woes. Ken's comment: "The economic problems are demonstrating a world wide effect." Meanwhile, Thanks to SHTF Daily we read: Bear Stearns halts redemptions in third hedge fund

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Reader David P. recommended this data on diesel generators.

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The high bid is still at $300 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources. They are one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends on August 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

"Many of the best things in life are unappreciated until you begin to lose them. Consider good health, good brakes - and political liberty." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We've finished the judging. The winner of Round 11 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is John O. MD for his article "Survival Labor and Delivery". He gets the top prize--a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. These certificates are worth up to $2,000! Our thanks to Front Sight's director, Naish Piazza, for generously donating the course certificate. Check out the Front Sight web site and their great training opportunities.

Second prize goes to Vlad for his article "Older Chevy 4X4s: The Ideal EMP-Proof Survival Vehicles." His prize is is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing.

I'm also sending out three honorable mention awards to: Countrytek for his article "Reducing Your Sound 'Footprint'", to Steve in Iraq for his article "Guns for the Small Statured Shooter", and to Gage for his article "Cutlery Considerations for TEOTWAWKI". Each of them will be sent an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Note to all the prize winners: Send me an e-mail to let me know your snail mail addresses, and your prizes will be mailed to you shortly. Thanks gents, and congratulations!

Today we start Round 12 of the contest. Here is the first entry:

For many people preparing to survive has become an obsession; a pursuit placed above all else in their lives. Others feel as if survival prep should be more of a priority if they could only afford to do more. Still others feel as if they may have already gone overboard in their preparations. Preparing for survival after TEOTWAWKI can make you feel overwhelmed, under-supplied, overspent, under-funded, over-your-head, or under-the-gun (no pun intended).
There are those who have the ability to purchase a retreat, stock it with supplies and equipment for a year or more, and have enough to share with those in need at will. They expect to support parents, siblings and spouses, nieces and nephews, grandkids, and several families of friends, and have already stocked their retreat with all the food, water, and supplies for all of them to start completely over. Most of us, however, fall far short of that ability, and hope that we can simply prepare for ourselves and our immediate family.
Please understand, I am not criticizing those who are able to prepare in this way. That’s what this country is all about – the chance to make and keep your fortunes. As Christians we don’t believe in luck, but we do believe in hard work and good fortune. We can only hope that most, many, or all of these fortunate people have the Christian outlook of sharing with those in need.
Whether you are a preparedness guru (PG) or a “newbie” (NP – for New Preparer), getting prepared to survive after any disaster, or even a total collapse, seems like a daunting task. PGs know just how expensive and time consuming preparing can be, and many NP’s have become discouraged as they begin to realize what they are facing. It is for that reason that mental preparedness (MP) is so important.
Mental Preparedness involves many aspects and the first and foremost of these is an individual’s Spiritual preparation. Are you a Christian? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Are you ready to die if that’s what God’s will for you is? Christianity – that is, evangelical Christianity (Christians who believe that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again as a living Savior sitting at the right hand of God) offers living hope for our future. We worship a living Savior, one Who has gone before us to prepare a place for us in heaven.
If you have not already done so, accept Jesus into your life as Lord and Savior. It’s so easy to do. Any good Christian can help you or go to and click on the small green link at the top of the page “I want to know Jesus.” Until you make Christ real in your life the rest of the preparations are just going through the motions.
Once you are Spiritually prepared, the next step is prayer. Ask God to guide you in your preparation, to give you insight into the survival mindset, to lead you to the resources you need to get your mind ready for the preparation task, and to guide and help you in the decisions that must be made to prepare yourself and your family for survival. Ask Him how you can become a better Christian and person through this process – He will show you if you are open to receiving the answers. Finally, ask the Lord help you communicate the urgency and necessity to others to prepare to survive.
Is there Biblical mandate for survival? For preparation? Yes, God has given us instructions in His Word for survival and preparation. Following is a list of Scriptures for you to look up for yourself rather than quoting them here for brevity, but please take the time to look up each one and understand what God is trying to tell us, tell you, about being prepared and surviving.
Proverbs 6:6–11 – tells us that we are responsible to do the work of preparation while we are able.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 – basically says that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Of course that does not include the sick or the aged; those should be taken care of by family or Christian charity. It plainly teaches that indolence or laziness should not be rewarded. In other words, if we could have prepared for the crisis but we didn't, we can’t expect anyone else to take care of us. It is a principle that applies in every-day-life or in crisis situations.
1 John 3:17 – 18 – exhorts us to help others in need. Yet, you can not help someone who is in need if you haven’t prepared for or can't help yourself. If we are to obey this verse then some sort of preparation is not only called for, but required.
Some great thoughts from another (unknown) Christian author:
“ With regard to fleeing from life-threatening situations - what one brother sarcastically refers to as ‘hidey hole’ theology - Both Peter and Paul escaped from life-threatening situations. Peter fled from Jerusalem after his miraculous deliverance from prison by the angel. Paul was let down over the walls of Damascus when a plot against his life was uncovered. Both of these were escapes from the physical persecution that arose against them because of their testimony and preaching of the Gospel. Are we supposed to believe that God is only interested in preserving His people if they are in danger as a result of their following Jesus? That if the shortsightedness or greed of the world, places Christians in danger, that somehow that is not sufficient reason to escape in order to continue to serve, worship and love God and those around us? I can't speak for others, but I know my purpose in preparing for eventualities. It is not merely to save my hide; it's not worth that much anyway; but to do what Christians have done throughout the centuries, namely to maintain a living witness to the redemptive love of God in Christ, and to continue nurturing the Church which God has called me.
Some Christians believe that it is wrong to leave your urban or suburban home to find a rural setting where survival would be more likely. Again, this is called, ‘hidey hole’ theology. Yet, after the stoning of Stephen much of the Church in Jerusalem dispersed precisely to preserve their lives, to continue to care for each other and spread the Gospel in the new surroundings. God called Stephen to martyrdom, but not the whole Church. The Church in Rome met in the catacombs. Some lived in the catacombs. Was that ‘hidey-hole’ theology? When Jesus began his ministry He read from Isaiah in the synagogue, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me....This day the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ They wanted to kill Him, but He ‘passed through them.’ He escaped. Was that ‘hidey-hole’ theology?
In 1 Kings 17:8 - 16, Elijah instructed the widow of Zarephath to give him her last cup of flour and last bit of oil. He told her don't be afraid, God will provide. God caused there to be a daily miracle provision of flour and oil for her survival. But another widow and her son in 2 Kings 4: 1 - 7, were instructed by Elisha to gather many containers, for God was about to provide for her needs. There was an immediate miracle of multiplication of the oil, part of which she was told to pay off her debts with, but the remainder she was to store. Thus, there was preparation, provision, and then storage in order for this woman and her son to survive. Sure, the provision was miraculous; but her use of God's provision was quite normal and mundane. Nor did Elisha criticize her for storing her oil for her family’s future needs. [This author adds: it could be that your provisions may be provided in an equally miraculous fashion.]
Am I stupid, sinful and unbiblical because I want to see that my family survives? Am I supposed to believe that God doesn't want me to do anything about the survival of those whom I love, whom He has given to me? Have I no responsibility? Do I just stand with my eyes scrunched closed and say, ‘OK God, you take care of me and mine?’ Survival is not the ultimate value or goal for me or my family. It never was or will be. ‘Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever’ is. If God wants me and mine dead, so be it, and may He be praised forever. But I don't see that glorifying God and staying alive are mutually exclusive, especially when He seems to be graciously giving us advanced warning precisely so that we may continue to survive, so that we may serve Him and others.
And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns surround you and you live among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks. Ezekiel 2:6
The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. - Proverbs 22:3.
A closing thought (on Spiritual Preparedness): "When Noah built the ark, it wasn't raining.”
Get your life right with God and prepare for tomorrow.

Many other aspects of survival require mental preparation as well. Too many people believe that because they witnessed some depravity that man had wrought on an individual, or on others, that they are now prepared to go through the hard times a severe crisis or even TEOTWAWKI can bring. Witnessing a tragic car accident, a shooting or murder, a knife fight in a bar, a shootout with the police, or even trying to help a rape victim can not begin to prepare you for the mental anguish of long-term crises. For the few who have had to kill in self-defense or seen the starvation and disease in some Third World country first hand as a missionary, these only begin to understand. If you served in combat – Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, or WWII – and you had to kill or be killed, you had to care for a wounded and dying fellow soldier, or you had to survive as a prisoner of war, you understand some of what will be faced in an end of the world situation. Many of you may have loved ones or know someone who suffered with or still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and can understand the mental stressors the individual endures. Unless you have been through it too you can’t really comprehend all that this individual, these individuals, is/are going through.
So how do we prepare ourselves for what is to come? Everything starts with planning! And, it all hinges on organization. If you’re a NP, start a list of preparations that need to be made. Do research on the Internet to find lists of the things you will need to do and what you will need to have on hand. Don’t be overwhelmed by the lists of supplies – all of these things can be obtained one item at a time. Remember, if you start today you’re still ahead of the majority of people. Continue to remind yourself that whatever you do today to prepare, won’t be a need tomorrow.
Prepare your mind through the research you do. Read everything you can get your hands on about preparedness and survival, but read with a “grain of salt” so that you can discern good advice from bad. Read books and articles that are recommended by friends or reliable sources. Even other people who are preparedness minded can get and give bad advice – proceed with caution, but proceed.
One reliable and trusted Internet resource is, written and maintained by Jim Rawles. He is also the author of one of the best survival preparedness books on the market called Patriots – Surviving the Coming Collapse. While the book is a novel, there are many, many good references and teachings throughout. He has numerous other resources of his own and others on the web site.
To continue mental preparations for survival the NP must understand that they are basically on their own. Of course, they may have a supportive spouse, other family members, or a friend or two who understands survival prep, but beyond that you won’t find individuals who are willing to open up their homes or retreats and say, “come see how I’ve done it.” Because of the secretive nature of our preparations for ourselves and our families, and because we want to protect those preps from those that would steal them or want to show up at our front gate when TSHTF, we just don’t let others know what we’ve got. Thus, we are on our own. It is a very difficult position to be in when a best friend refuses to recognize the importance and urgency or preparation. PGs understand this and have developed techniques and questions to discern how a person feels about preparedness and survival without really asking. Only time, practice, and mental preparedness can help in this area.
Preparing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that outline what every family member will do in a crisis will ease your mental state as your preps continue. SOPs are nothing more than written directions to cover every contingency for every person. Make sure you have instructions written for all members who will be with you in a disaster situation. Different situations call for different SOPs – try to cover all the bases for at least 72 hours. This is not something you will accomplish overnight or even in the first few weeks. As you study and prepare you will continue to rewrite and edit your SOPs. Some may take years to finish while others may never be done.
Once your lists are in order you should begin putting together a BoB (Bug-out-Bag). This is a bag – a backpack, a duffel bag, a pillow case (although I think you will discover that a pillow case just isn’t big enough) with everything in it you’ll need to survive for three days to one week (or more). Every family member should have his/her own BoB, even children (as long as they are big enough to carry it). Weight for each BoB is obviously determined by each individual’s size and ability. When you know everyone has the things they need to survive for several days, your mind is much more at ease.
The BoBs are like everything else involved with prep and survival – they will evolve through shrinking and growing for months before you are satisfied with all the preps for them. Only you can determine what is best for you to carry in the end, but there are literally 100’s of list suggestions for BoBs on the Internet. Again, be prepared to sift through and decide what is best for you.
By prioritizing your purchases you can buy a little at a time – in fact, you can buy one item at a time if that is all your budget (or your wife [I’ll address this issue further down] will allow). For instance, water must be a top priority for everyone in preparing for disaster. You can go for days without food but only hours (in comparison) without water. If you have a free-flowing spring in your yard then you are obviously covered, but for most of us water is something we must prepare for. Do we try to store enough bottled water for our family? Do we depend on our neighbors? (I think we know the answer to that one – remember, we depend on no one but ourselves) Storing bottled water is impractical for long-term preparedness. Water is needed at the rate of at least one gallon per person per day. In hot or humid conditions or if you are working outside strenuously, you will need more – maybe even twice that amount. So, a water filter, with extra filters, is an obvious priority. You may have to save for a couple of weeks or more to buy one, but since it is an important item it will clearly be worth it.
Food is a relatively easy category to begin to fill out your supply of. If you will make a list of items that you and your family regularly eat (in dry or canned items) and then begin to buy one or two extra items each time you go to the grocery store, you will find that your food supply will grow quickly. Don’t forget things like toilet paper, tissues, baby items, feminine products, and the like; if you will buy these two at a time when you need them – one goes on the shelf to be used and the other goes in the prep closet or tub. These type products will also add to your stash quickly. P. S. You can never have enough toilet paper if TSHTF (no pun intended).
Continue to move down your Priority List is similar fashion and you will suddenly find yourself short of space to store things and your mental attitude eased by the fact that you are becoming prepared much quicker than you ever thought possible. Remember, organization is the key. Once you begin to buy items for prep or survival you must be organized. Lists are required, and keeping up with them is paramount for making sure you get what is necessary. It is very easy to buy things twice (or even more) if you are trying to keep up with your purchases by memory, or to think you bought something and miss the chance to buy it. Use lists!
Lists and organization are important to your MP in other ways as well. If you have your mind cluttered with mental lists, past or future purchases, and trying to keep up with all of your preps, family, work, etc., your going to be stressed beyond belief. Good MP calls for good organization.
I mentioned above that I would address the problem of a spouse who is a non-believer in preparedness or survival. When you want to talk about prep or survival all they do is change the subject or patronize you quickly and then dismiss it as unnecessary. They don’t want to waste money on it.
Many spouses believe there’s plenty of time to get what’s needed if an emergency comes up later. Some will say that God will provide for us, so we don’t have to do that. And, the excuses and objections goes on . . .
My own wife is one of those, or was one of those types. I went ahead with some small purchases a few years ago and she would question them, but I never hid my purchases from her, lied to her about them, or dismissed her inquisitions. I simply explained that I had bought the item so we would be prepared in case of an emergency and what it was for. I would try to talk to her about it each time SHE brought something up, but she always changed the subject or said we’d talk about it another time. I never forced the issue. Whenever she would hear a news story about some crisis situation (hurricane, tornado, lost hiker, violent robbery or home invasion) I would take the opportunity to point out the lack of preparation on the part of the individuals involved or what they needed instead of what they had, and I would say, “You know, I think I’ll get one of those (whatever was mentioned that someone else needed) for us next time I get a chance so we won’t be caught unprepared.” She would usually agree we needed it, and the next day (or even that very day) I would buy whatever it was and add it to my supplies. She never questioned those purchases and eventually became (a little) more interested in our preps. I’m now trying to get her interested in a piece of retreat property by explaining the exact things I’m looking for (wooded acreage with room for house, barn & garden, a spring or free-flowing creek, isolated, defensible, etc.) and why. It has caused a few arguments (of course, the making up is fun), and she still won’t read "Patriots" or any of the other books I’ve bought on the subject, but our (my) prep supplies are steadily growing and she’s beginning to understand slowly. I’m still open to new suggestions in this area if anyone has any, but I know this has worked for me so far.
Mental preparedness for survival is very important if you are to ever feel like you’re well on the way to being prepared. I’m one of those who believes that you can never be 100 percent prepared, but you can be well prepared. You can get to a point of calling yourself prepared and feeling good about your preps as long as you continue to monitor expiration dates, rotate fuel supplies, grow and can your own crops, and have all the things needed for starting over after TEOTWAWKI. A survival mindset is the first step. Making lists, prioritizing those lists for purchase or acquisition, and organizing the lists and acquisitions will help to keep you mentally prepared for survival.


[My advice to David J. is:] Keep your retirement! I think you should keep your retirement account and find another job. By cashing out now you only receive your contributions plus interest and not one cent of your employers contributions if your state is anything like California. You are only getting about two years of a pension that you could possibly end up collecting for 30 years or more. Not counting any cost of living increases you would receive $756,000 over a 30 year period of retirement, the $50,000 looks kind of weak.
Get a jump on things and start checking around right now for possible job opportunities . Also check out getting educated in fields you may like to work in before you do get laid off. Be sure to ask suppliers or contractors you have contact with in your job for possible employment for you. Your employer's financial condition may improve and your laid off status will get you priority when they hire again and you won't lose your seniority.
If you do get rehired in the future or work at another state or public sector job your plan will continue and your years of service won't be wasted. In my 30 years at my job I have seen many people who cashed out and were rehired or found other public pension jobs. They were very sorry they cashed out for a couple years worth of retirement money at one time. Your state pension will also have a yearly cost of living adjustments when you do retire. The nine years until you can draw a pension is a very short time.
Even if by some great stroke of bad luck you aren't rehired or get other public sector employment you will have that pension money to help you in retirement.
The only way I could see any reason to cash out is if you are very sure you could start a good business that you are confident you could have success. I know of a couple people that took chunk of early buyout money and bought a back hoe and were kept very busy.
Since you are smart enough to read SurvivalBlog I think you are way ahead of the majority and will be able to get new employment and keep your retirement backup intact. Good Luck to you! - Gil

We just got a batch of 50 of your preparedness courses from the printer, and they screwed up the shrink-wrapping on many of them. Instead of fighting it out with the printer, we will knock 1/3rd off the regular price for your SurvivalBlog readers. But we're gonna offer that discount for only a week, because we don't want to fuss with double inventory. Please note that our main web site will still stay the same, showing the normal price, even on the order page. But when your readers check out, the discounted price [of $99.95 plus normal shipping and handling] will show up. And if anyone wants guaranteed perfect shrink wrap they should wait until after the sale ends, when the price will return to normal. But you can tell folks to not worry, because every other aspect of the course is in perfect condition. But when they sell out --around August 8th--we will raise the prices back to normal without notice, so anyone who has been sitting on the fence should act fast if they want to save some bucks.
Hope you're having a great summer in the hinterboonies! Cheers, - Jake

JWR Adds: This is the first time that the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. course with accompanying audio CD has ever been sold for 1/3 off the regular price. The sale ends on Wednesday, August 8th, so place your order soon!

From SHTF Daily: Four ways to prepare for a global financial crisis

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This Gun Free Zone video (recommended by Richard C.) provides a bit of comic relief.

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RMV forwarded us this: The Numbers Don't Add Up for Baby Boomer Retirees. Here is a quote from the article: "Consider the outlook. From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double to 71 million; its share of the population will rise to 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that serve older people—already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office. The result: a political impasse. The 2030 projections are daunting. To keep federal spending stable as a share of the economy would mean eliminating all defense spending and most other domestic programs (for research, homeland security, the environment, etc.). To balance the budget with existing programs at their present economic shares would require, depending on assumptions, tax increases of 30 percent to 50 percent—or budget deficits could quadruple. A final possibility: cut retirement benefits by increasing eligibility ages, being less generous to wealthier retirees or trimming all payments."

"The Bill of Rights is a born rebel. It reeks with sedition. In every clause it shakes its fist in the face of constituted authority...
It is the one guarantee of human freedom to the American people." - Frank I. Cobb (1869-1923), LaFollette’s Magazine, January 1920

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