April 2008 Archives

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I was recently interviewed by Sarah Hodd of ABC (the American one, this time), as background for a piece that "Nightline" plans to soon produce about survivalism. She asked me to post the following:

Do you store large quantities of of food or gas? Do you have a safe room or NBC shelter in your dwelling? Have you taken steps to prepare against a long term power outage, or an oil shortage? Do you live off grid? ABC News is looking for current members of the Survivalist movement to discuss the dropping value of the dollar, rising food shortages, and Peak Oil theories. Participants must be willing to go on camera to discuss their participation in the modern Survivalist movement. If you are interested, please send an e-mail with a brief description of your survivalist preparations to: Sarah.J.Hodd@abc.com.

Mr. Rawles:

I see that [in your Recommended Retreat Areas page] you only list information for retreat selection in 19 western states. Do you not think other states are worthy of retreat locations?

We live on 300 acres in southwestern Missouri (Polks County). Not totally ideal I am sure, but it is home, children and grandchildren are here and more over we feel placed here by our Lord over 35 years ago.

I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts pro/con on the state of Missouri so that we might be better prepared. -- Paulette

JWR Replies: I consider Missouri marginal as a retreat locale, primarily because of it population density. The state of Missouri is on the safer (lower population density) side of the Mississippi River but it is still far from ideal, since the state is bisected by the Missouri River and the dramatic drop in US population density is west of the Missouri. (As I will discuss later in this reply.)

My choice of reviewing retreat locales in just 19 western states has been discussed a few times before in SurvivalBlog, but for the benefit of the many newcomers, I will reiterate:

After much consideration, all of the eastern states were intentionally excluded for my recommendations because they are all either downwind of nuclear targets and/or are in areas with excessive population density. This wasn't just the result of subjective bias. I try to use the dispassionate mindset of an actuarial accountant.

Take a look at The Lights of the U.S. photo maps. These montages of satellite photos make it clear that most of America's population is east of the Missouri River and is highly urbanized.The population density of the U.S. is dramatically lower in the west. In troubled times fewer people means fewer problems. In the event of a social upheaval, being west of the Missouri River will mean a statistically much lower chance of coming face to face with lawless rioters or looters When The Schumer Hits The Fan (WTSHTF).

The other startling thing you will notice when looking at the Lights photo montage is that even in the western states, Americans live in a highly urbanized society. Roughly 90% of the population is crammed into 5% of the land area, mostly within 50 miles of the coast. But there are large patches of the west where there are virtually no lights at all--particularly in the Great Basin region that extends from the back side of the Sierra Nevada mountains to Utah and Eastern Oregon. The average population density in this region is less than two people per square mile.

As an example of the low population density in the west, I often like to cite Idaho County, Idaho: This one county measures 8,485 square miles--bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. But it has a population of just 15,400. And of those residents, roughly 3,300 people live in Grangeville, the county seat. Who lives in the rest of the County? Nary a soul. There are far more deer and elk than there are people. The population density of the county is 1.8 people per square mile. The county has more than three million acres of U.S. Forest Service land, BLM land, and designated Federal wilderness areas. Now that is elbow room!

The northeastern states depend on nuclear power plants for 47% of their electricity. South Carolina is similarly dependent. This is an unacceptable level of high technology systems dependence, particularly in light of the emerging terrorist threat. You must also consider that virtually all of the eastern states are downwind of major nuclear targets. In a full scale exchange, the eastern US would be a bad place to be. See the target lists, fallout projections, and other data at Richard Fleetwood's excellent SurvivalRing web site. Not only are there lots of nuclear targets in the east, but easterners will also get considerable additional fallout carried on the winds from strikes farther west--including SAC bomber bases, the strategic missile fields (in Montana, the Dakotas, and northern Colorado), Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado), Offutt AFB (Nebraska), and others. The majority of the military targets are expected to be hit with ground bursts, which are the type that produce fallout. Because of the Coriolis Effect, the prevailing winds in most of the United States are from west to east, so the farther east you live, the greater the accumulated fallout that you are likely to receive. Sorry!

My general advice for easterners: If for one reason or another you are stuck in the northeast, then consider New Hampshire or Vermont. They are both gun friendly and have more self-sufficient lifestyle. But unless you have some compelling reason to stay in the East, I most strongly encourage you to Go West!

With all that said, there are some areas in the eastern US that will be safer than others (like parts of Tennessee and Maine), and there are ways to mitigate the risks that I mentioned.:

Risk Mitigation

The risk posed by the higher population density of the eastern states can be mitigated by both carefully choosing your retreat property (look for bypassed areas that are far from "channelized areas" and lines of drift") and by having heavily-manned 24/7/360 armed and vigilant security at your retreat. (See my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" for a detailed description of what might be needed to mount such a guard.) This will of course mean extra mouths to feed--which in turn dictates the expense of extra storage food, extra gardening space, extra housing, and extra stored fuel. But this could be viable, especially if you are wealthy.

The other obvious risk mitigation is to construct a blast/fallout shelter with a forced-air HEPA filter. If your house already has a basement, and you are willing to do some of the work yourself, a retrofit can be done for under $5,000. Constructing a new, dedicated shelter can be a $15,000 to $70,000 proposition, depending how large and elaborate you want to make it. The folks at Safecastle have extensive experience in building such shelters, tailored for all budgets. They specialize in combination storm/nuke/gun vault shelters. I highly recommend them.

After reading some information in SurvivalBlog about roasting green coffee beans I thought I could offer some useful info on the subject, since I’ve been a coffee supplier and roaster for about 10 years.

Let’s assume the grid is down---how does one roast coffee? You can do it over an open flame such as a propane burner, or campfire. In the days of cattle drives the cook would roast in a cast iron pot just stirring the beans constantly. If you do that then a peaberry type coffee bean works best because they are more round, and my research tells me that that’s what many of the old cooks packed. Regular beans have a flat side and have a tendency to burn some of the beans on that side regardless of how much you stir.

But here is the method I’ve tried and it worked reasonably well. Use a good heavy duty wok pan. (Avoid a Teflon-coated wok pan at all costs). Place 6-to-8 ounces of green beans in it, and over the hot fire flick it forward like a chef does, doing so constantly. In a few minutes the beans heat up and you can hear the first crack of the beans, it’s not very loud so listen carefully. Keep flicking —chaff comes off, and when the first crack has stopped you can stop the roast. For future roast adjust from the stop of first crack---you can go on into a less audible second crack in a minute or so for darker roast. Going to the end of second crack will give you a French roast that some like. Understand that this will give you a decent roast, not perfect as some beans will roast up unevenly, but you will definitely like it better than canned coffee, I guarantee it, because it’s fresh roasted.

Now here’s a vital point to your roasting: when you have it just where you want it---end of first crack, or into second crack, whatever, the beans have to be cooled as quickly as possible. The most practical way I found was dumping them back and forth in two colanders, 3 or 4 minutes at least. If possible, allow the beans to degas for at least a day, but don’t roast up more than you’ll need for a few days. Store in Ziploc type bags in a dark place, but leave a small opening in the zipper to release the built up CO2 or the bag could burst. After that keep it sealed between uses. Have a hand grinder, or as the cowboy cook did, mash between two hard objects. If you’re just throwing your grounds into hot water use a course grind, and don’t boil the coffee, let it steep for about four minutes.

I am not trying to present myself as an expert coffee survivalist, but with some practice you can make excellent coffee truly from scratch. But why wait til for a collapse? Practice doing it now. Charlie at Cme Brew Coffee.

I saw the article that mentioned Reloading for autoloading rifles, and some comments that seemed to not completely answer questions people may have.

It is important to note that reloading any caliber is a delicate undertaking for any gun you are about to trust your life with. The use of case gauges is an important one, but for the part-time reloader they are an expensive investment (~$30-50 each!). A much easier method is to test the cartridge in the firearm, to accomplish this, if you are working on either a progressive or single stage press, reload a few rounds as dummies. This means no powder, no primer, just case and bullet, and test them in the gun for fit and feed. Do not test fit live ammunition unless you are in a place where a discharge is allowed. (For most of us [that live inside city limits] this means a firing range). Numerous negligent discharges have resulted from people not following proper safety precautions, and even if you do this is never a guarantee that a mechanical problem won't develop causing an accidental discharge.

If you have issues with reloading bottle-neck rifle cartridges, a likely fix is to use small base dies, these will size the brass down to a smaller size, and will size more of the case than a standard full-length sizer. However, the added working of the brass will result in earlier failure of the brass.

When it comes to [reloading] dies, I recommend against buying those made by Lee Precision, I have had far too many cases that were mangled, scratched, or had other defects resulting from the poor quality of Lee [brand] dies. One thing to be especially careful of when using Lee dies is the decapping pin will sometimes stick in the flash-hole, if you are working on automated loading equipment this will likely detonate the [fresh] primer when you go to seat it. (Most other manufacturers have switched to a headed [de-capping] pin, making this an extremely rare problem.). RCBS, Redding, and Lyman all make very good and sturdy dies from hardened tool steel, Dillon offers tungsten-carbide sizing dies for bottle neck rifle cartridges, if you have money to spend, the Dillon dies
will likely outlast your grandchildren, provided they have an adequate supply of decapping pins (RCBS, Lyman, and a few others offer free replacement parts, Dillon believes these to be a consumable item, and charges for them).

Regarding the differences between Military and Commercial cartridge specifications

You are absolutely correct, 5.56 and .223 have the same external case dimensions, but for the most part the similarities stop there. 5.56 has a SAAMI maximum working-pressure of 55,000 PSI, where as the .223 [Remington] maxes out at 50,000. If a 5.56 round is fired in a .223 firearm, then pressures are likely to be extreme, another key difference is the 5.56 chamber and throat dimensions are different, the engraving force will be reduced, and there is the potential for some gas leakage to the rear, a cumulative effect of this will be lower over-all pressures.

However, with .308 [Winchester] and 7.62mm NATO [the specification difference] is slightly the other way, but for different reasons. The .308 and 7.62mm NATO rounds are functionally identical, while there was some disagreement about the chamber pressures generated by some commercial ammo (SAAMI maximum some say is 62,000 PSI) and some military ammo (maximum pressure at 50,000), there seems to be a larger issue with the military chamber being longer, and thus being harder on the brass. If you are reloading, you can account for these differences with your selection of load and powder. That is one of the true advantages of reloading your own ammunition.

In all likelihood, anyone using a good quality military semi-auto in 7.62mm NATO isn't going to notice any difficulty using commercial .308 ammo. But keep it in mind if you ever do encounter problems.

I hope all is well Jim, glad to see you are getting some more public exposure. It seems that the population at large is waking up, I had a co-worker hand me your book "Patriots" the other day. I giggled a bit to myself and told him I already had the book. Even my mom started asking me questions about the SurvivalBlog site, after hearing about it on the news. Lets hope all the people who are waking up to the unpleasantness we are all facing are able to head it off and clean up this mess before a lot of people have to get hurt. Sincerely, - Drew

JWR Adds: Part of the problem in discussions regarding commercial versus military cartridge specifications is that some of the specs are written in terms of pounds per square inch (PSI), while others are written using Copper Units of Pressure (C.U.P.) They are not the same scales!

Lisa C. suggested this article: One Guy Who Has Seen It All Doesn't Like What He Sees Now about an elderly financial that fears the effects of the current credit collapse, but suggests buying stocks. I concur with the former, but not the latter. In my opinion the US stock market is heading for a fall. The recent Dow Jones rallies have been nothing but sucker rallies. And if you look at the volume of stock that insiders are selling, it is clear that a lot of the "smart money" is abandoning ship. (See, for example, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's regular dumping of his own shares.) I predict that there may soon be a stock market collapse, most likely immediately after the Federal Reserve stops easing interest rates, and starts raising them. That will be the turning point. That will also likely be the day that those of you that took my advice and invested in gold and silver will become very happy campers. And also, BTW, the recent pull-back in the spot gold and silver prices are a great buying opportunity. I recently wrote that a gold price south of $875 would be a bargain, an I stand by that.

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Eric sent us this piece on Peak Oil : Good-Bye, Cheap Oil. So Long, Suburbia? But, meanwhile, we read: Oil discovery rocks Brazil. I have my doubts about Peak Oil theory, but I recommend hedging your bets by buying photovoltaics, horses and tack.

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Merry found us this: Buffett says recession may be worse than feared. Warren's wisdom: "This will not be short and shallow."

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FerFAL (our correspondent in Argentina), has some suggestions on making a living during a "slow slide" economic situation, based on his experiences in Argentina. Check out the post at his blog titled "Making Money During the Crisis."

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." - Douglas Graham

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reader Jeff T. kindly did some digging and found the text link to my recent ABC (Australia) interview: Global food crisis sparks US survivalist resurgence. And here is the audio link.


You mentioned that spare parts for Springfield Armory XD pistols have been hard to find. That was the case, up until recently. But now spare XD parts are starting to show up at PistolGear.com. Hover you cursor arrow over "Springfield XD" at the bottom of the window that pops up . There should be a line that reads "XD Factory Parts". I just got a whole stack of [factory spare XD parts] in the mail last week. There are still some critical parts that are missing, such as the extractor. I have done a lot of business with them and talked to the owner Tom a good deal, good fast service and sounds like a pretty good guy.

My first XD has over 40,000 rounds through it without cleaning and it functions perfectly
. They are just as tough as a Glock, just as easy to field strip, but a bit more difficult to detail strip. Overall, it is a great pistol. - Regards, - Bert M.

JWR Replies: That is great news! Consider the proviso that I mentioned yesterday, withdrawn. I can now without reservation endorse the XD pistol as a primary pistol for the long term survival firearms batteries of SurvivalBlog readers.

At this point, I am sorely tempted to sell off my stainless steel Colt M1911s and replace them all with XD-45 pistols. I now recognize that I could get better reliability and nearly twice as many guns for the money that I'd net from selling my used Colts! (A stainless steel Colt Gold Cup .45 now sells for around $1,200. Yikes!) The only remaining issue is that I have 35 years of training invested in the M1911 platform. I will do some extensive testing of an XD-45 and let you know what I decide. Oh boy, am I tempted!

I must reiterate that Front Sight's "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer is available only for a limited time. I most strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers take Naish Piazza up on his offer before he cuts off further enrollments. (They only have a limited quantity of guns and gear available for this "package" deal. This is a tremendously generous offer. As near as I can figure, Naish is offering the package at near his cost, as an inducement to get shooters to come and take their first course at Front Sight. Once someone takes a course there, they are "hooked" and keep coming back for more--the the training there is that good. The Memsahib and I can vouch for that personally. We were astounded at the quality of the training. I learned more in four days at Front Sight than I had in the 35 years of my previous pistol shooting experience. I'm not kidding.

OBTW, I note that in addition to Springfield Armory factory spare parts, PistolGear.com also sells a wide range of aftermarket parts and accessories for XDs. And anyone that needs more details on XD pistol should check out the XD Talk Forums.

Greetings All,
SurvivalBlog has, and is, providing great practical information as well a thoughts on just about every aspect overcoming adversity and disastrous conditions. This brain trust provides information on retaining as much privacy as possible in this era of electronic monitoring of everything we purchase, and how to camouflage just about every type of inanimate object. I have noticed one issue that hasn't been addressed. (Don't faint!).

During a long term situation in particular this one issue can impact any family or group's safety. So here is the question. How can we best 'camouflage' or limit the smell of food cooking? In a short term situation, as after hurricane, this would be a less dangerous situation provided relief was available and the aftermath limited in locale. During a hurricane most of us in our neighborhood had huge cookouts to use up frozen foods before they spoiled, or shared prepared food. We knew the limits of the damage and even with a week or more without power, while 'bothersome', wasn't creating any real dangerous situation. Our family gathered a large percentage of our frozen food as well as some of our neighbor's food and took our freezer and it's contents to a relative within traveling distance who had power. And through that week we made trips to pick up food for that day and put it into ice chests.

If anyone has been down wind of a neighbor grilling out during the Spring, Summer or even Fall; you know how that affects you. When I was growing up and spending Summers on her farm, or visiting every week or so, I remember the aroma of my Grandmother's cooking whenever I was outside and down wind of the farm house. During a long term situation, where people are desperate or crime more widespread, as the example Argentina provides us, that one element has the potential negate all the 'movement, light and sound discipline' one may initiate in order to maintain a low profile of having a stock of foodstuffs. It could even attract unwanted attention from any government agencies who are 'here to help us'. How can this danger be mitigated?
Keep your powder dry, - The Rabid One

JWR Replies: You've raised a valid observation that should be included on retreat planning OPSEC "signatures" planning. Aside from minimizing the use of cooking herbs and spices, and minimizing outdoor venting, there is not a lot that can be done to reduce cooking smells. Obviously, in a famine situation, preserving meat by salting or brine jerking would be far superior to using a meat smoker!

For some background on various habitation "signatures", see my December, 2007 discussion of being holed up in an apartment. In such demanding circumstances--with neighbors in close proximity---it would be advisable to cook only the most bland foods and to primarily use the Thermos bottle cooking method--like the one described by SurvivalBlog reader KBF.

Cooking odor signature is yet another reason to buy a house on acreage. The farther that your house is away from public thoroughfares, the better. The inverse square law (which you'll recall I've mentioned regarding topics like sound attenuation and even Golden Horde attenuation) applies to the olfactory sense, too. (Your local wind speed and direction may vary.)

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers have some other suggestions on minimizing the "signature" of cooking aromas. OBTW, another odor that needs to be controlled is the smell of burning tobacco, which can carry a surprising distance. (I've heard this mentioned by several infantry combat veterans.)

Greetings Jim,
I have found the folks at the bakery counter at [supermarkets such as] Safeway are willing to give me food grade buckets for free or maybe $1 each. They get frosting five gallons at a time. Once you read the label on that stuff you may never eat store bought cake again! - DAP in Missouri


I wanted to share the best priced source I have found for Food Grade Buckets.
Other than getting them free from food vendors, I haven't found a price better than $3.99 for five gallon food grade buckets. Lids are $1.09. People might not see the terms "Food Grade", but seeing NSF, FDA, or USDA approved means essentially the same thing. - Joe A.


A couple of days ago you wrote about storing grains in [HDPE] plastic buckets. Since then people have had questions regarding what constitutes a "food grade" bucket. Questions that you have answered fully.

However, in that original post you mentioned putting the grain in plastic bags inside the bucket. My question is what [plastic composition] bags should I use? The first thing that came to mind was a trash bag -- Convenient as they are readily available and they are large. But, I recall reading somewhere that [some] commercially produced trash bags are treated with pesticides which one would not want their food stored in. If that is so, then what type of bags would you recommend? - Mark

JWR Replies: Clear vinyl bags (often marked "V" or with recycle code "3") are almost always food grade. Low density polyethylene (LDPE or recycle code "4") in film form--typically used in grocery bags and trash bags--is usually food grade, but some varieties have some strange additives or coatings. To be sure, see the manufacturer's packaging for details. If the package is marked "FDA Approved", "USDA Approved", or "food safe" then they are food grade. Most mylar is food grade, but again beware of odd coatings. Most mylar bucket liners--such as those sold by Nitro-Pak -- are food grade. The latter, BTW, is my top choice for extending the longevity of stored grains and legumes.


The batteries are why the phone still works when the power goes out. That is if you still have an old style (hard wire) phone and not all cordless phones. The cordless phones need 120 VAC power to run the base station. You should maintain at least one all wire somewhere in your house.
I believe the [common design for COs is that the] whole building is built in such a way that it is a big Faraday Cage. It would take a pretty close proximity EMP to take one out. The EMP
danger is in the above ground wiring [and antennas].

Most of this kind of engineering is done for lighting protection, but it is something of an EMP protection as well. That is [on reason why they are continuing to switch to underground wiring, even on expensive long[er] distance routes. The switch to fiber optics helps here also, even though the main rationale for its adoption was capacity and cost.

The phone companies are some of the most engineering conservative utilities in this country. When I worked with them, everything was "double built". 100 percent redundancy.
And they are learning a lot fast about “hardening” their properties. Some of the upgrades I have seen done inside those little brick buildings spread around the country make them into pillboxes. - Keith S.


Hi Jim,

I saw the stuff about phone Central Offices (COs) and thought I would contribute a bit as well since this is a part of my area of specialty. Many times people have these nearby and are unaware of them. They look like a generic office building - most have few or no windows and are most often brick, concrete or concrete block. They are generally unobtrusive and sometimes do not even have the company logo on them. They are made this way because they house what is considered critical communications infrastructure and because they are supposed to be semi-secure and protected against all but the very worst mother nature can dish out. They are also a desirable target for terrorists, etc. As far as I know it is a Federal felony to disrupt the operations of one of these buildings so batteries, generators, and so forth would be strictly off limits in all but a true TEOTWAWKI situation.

This link has pictures of COs. If you look at the Kansas page you can see the COs that might exist in a small town - where they may serve at most a few hundred customers. The one's listed under California (619) might serve a few thousand customers. These buildings will generally not be more than about 3 to 5 miles apart in suburban areas and even closer in urban areas so they are quite common, but most people do not have a clue where or what they are.

They do have large battery back-ups and larger one's have generators. The larger one's will also have fuel reservoirs of either diesel, propane or gasoline depending on the location, company policy, etc. These are required to keep the system up if the grid goes down - however they are only meant for a few days operation at best on generators. They do change the batteries our regularly because they have to keep the grid operational. [Their surplus battery sales are] a decent way to get good, used deep cycle batteries. The best money can buy. Regards, - Tim P.

Paul D sent us this article about the Ug99 wheat fungus: Stem Rust Never Sleeps

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Analysts Predict: Gasoline May Soon Cost $10 Per Gallon in US

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A traveling video-journalist meets Vern Switzer. There are some self-sufficiency lessons in this piece.

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China steps up monitoring of deadly virus outbreak. (A hat tip to frequent contributor RBS.)

"...you keep your gun handy. Our country is still full of thieving, murdering 'patriots'." - Dr. Powell Strong, Panic in Year Zero

Monday, April 28, 2008

A couple of readers have told me that they heard my recent interview on Australian ABC Radio about the global grain shortage. The reporter described me as "a secretive survivalist, speaking from an undisclosed location." OBTW, I was also interviewed last week by the BBC, but I don't know if that one has aired yet.

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $230. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr. Rawles,
I recently purchased some five gallon buckets at Wal-Mart that I thought would be considered food-grade. I'm afraid these are probably the paint buckets you recently warned against, but I read elsewhere on the web that if there was a "2" inside of the recycle-symbol on the bottom of the bucket, the bucket would be considered food-grade. If these are unsuitable, do you mind going into a little more detail as to why? Thanks, - Ben J.

JWR Replies: The number 2 (with the number inside the "chasing arrows" symbol) refers to HDPE, but not all "2" marked plastics are food grade. Let me explain: The "food grade" designation is determined by plastic purity by and what mold release compound is used--not by the plastic itself, since all virgin HDPE material is safe for food. For paint buckets, manufacturers sometimes use a less expensive (and toxic) mold release compound. For food grade they must use a more expensive formulation that is non-toxic. Unless the buckets that you bought are are marked "food grade", (or, marked NSF, FDA, or USDA approved), then you will have to check with the manufacturer's web site to see if they make all food grade buckets. For more details, see the information at this barbecue and brining web site.

Hi Jim,
I just came back from a tour of one of our local phone company’s central office (CO) and this is what I learned: Besides finding out how our phone lines work, I found out that the hardware there runs on 48 volt DC power. There is a large battery bank in the basement and the batteries are charged by the grid. It is made up of large clear cylinders and you can see the acid level and the plates inside. In the case of the grid going down it has a generator back up. Many of these offices are unmanned. I also found out that there are many small remote units around that run on a couple of deep cycle batteries for back up power around town. In the case of a prolonged power outage the technicians will cycle through the remote units with generators to charge up the batteries.

I was also surprised at all the circuit boards. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would easily take out [these microcircuit boards, and hence wipe out] all the phone circuits.

I know that society would have to totally break down in order to make use of these resources but I bet not too many people know about the battery banks. Just something to keep in the back of your mind because every town will have something like this. - Adam in Ohio


Living in North Dakota, I am always amazed at the number of 300 gallon fuel tanks that are for sale at farm and ranch auctions , usually with the angle iron stands . Hard to disguise but effective on retreats if they can be secured. [Used] underground tanks are a lot tougher to find. [They should be carefully examined before purchase, to be sure that] they don't rust out and leak fuel into the ground.

I found your site from a link on on Michael Bane's Down Range TV web site. - G.L. in North Dakota

I visited COSTCO store in Woodinville, Washington Saturday morning, right at the store's opening time. I had my doubts about the reality of the shortages, and needed to shop, anyway, so I thought I'd check it out for myself. They had eight big warehouse guys escorting two pallets of rice out to the showroom floor just about the time I arrived. Six of the eight then stayed with the rice, handing it out to customers as needed. Both pallets were completely sold out by the time I left the store about 45 minutes later.

I talked with two of the warehouse guys independent of each other, playing dumb and asking what was going on. Both said they were receiving normal shipments, just as they always had, but that customers were spooked and buying a lot more than normal. Both told me they expected their next rice shipment on Tuesday. One of them also told me (then showed me) that they were completely out of "general purpose" flour, and only had specialized bread-making flour in stock. Both swore up and down (and I have no reason to think they were being less than honest) that there were no shortages, just a run on things that they blamed on the media. There was enough cooking oil to fill a swimming pool, no shortages there. - Jeff F.


You might want to mention that reloading for semi-auto rifles requires an extra measure of care. After sizing, cases should be checked with a Wilson or Dillon case gauge to make sure they are
are sized correctly. Maximum overall case and cartridge lengths have to be adhered to

[Clint McKee,] the owner of Fulton Armory is very "down" on reloading for semi-auto battle rifles, and I believe most of the [bolt out of fully-locked position] Kabooms with AR-15 type rifles have occurred with reloaded ammo. While one should be very careful when reloading ammunition of any type, one must be very, very careful when reloading ammo for semi-auto rifles.
Thx, - "Walter Mitty"

Reader C.T.H. wrote to ask me if I thought that the Springfield Armory XD pistol offered in Front Sight's Front Sight's "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer was worth adding to a family gun collection. The answer is an enthusiastic yes, and I'm not the only one that is enthusiastic about these pistols. But I must add one proviso: Spare parts are currently hard to come by. Ironically, this is because of Springfield Armory's exceptional lifetime warranty program. (Because of the lifetime repair warranty, there is little impetus for gunsmiths in the US to do XD repairs.) So, yes, the pistols are excellent and very reliable, but they won't be the ideal choice for your primary defensive pistol until spare parts start to become more readily available. (I've heard that some parts will soon be imported from Croatia--which is where the pistols are made.) My recommendation: Go ahead and take the course using Front Sight's very generous package deal. Unless you are exceptionally recoil adverse, then specify getting the hard-hitting .45 ACP XD45 model.

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Greg Grillot, writing in the Whiskey and Gunpowder e-newsletter (a free and recommended newsletter, BTW) notes that the aggregate consumer credit debt in t he US is now $2.48 trillion dollars, and of that credit card debt alone is at a record $915 billion. Grillot writes: "In just the last five years, household debt is up 24%. Nearly half of all American households spend more than they make each year. And 60% don't even have more than three months of savings stored up." I expect consumer credit defaults to rapidly escalate, as the nascent recession develops. Widespread corporate layoffs will mean that additional millions of Americans will not be able to make their mortgage payments, car payments, and even the minimum payments on their credit card bills. Any alternatives to delinquencies, defaults, and bankruptcy filings? Not many, because sharply lower house prices home equity lines of credit are becoming a thing of the past. The average American consumer is tapped out.

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Reader Michael H. recommended this set of two CD-ROMs, containing more than 1,600 military, civil defense, and firearms manuals.

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Kevin A. sent us a link to a Sharon Astyk article posted at the Silver Bear Cafe that discusses the world's accelerating food crisis. We Regret to Inform You...

"One day you will need people like him, and you will forget that you once thought he was worse than a criminal." - Rabbi Irving Chinn, explaining to some of his congregation why he gave his blessing to as student who chose to pursue a career in gunsmithing rather than rabbinic ordination. (As quoted at Musings of a Geek with a .45, originally posted at The High Road)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yesterday I went to COSTCO to check out the rice situation (and grab a cheap lunch). Today, a friend said he wanted to go, so being that he doesn't have a [membership] card I went with him. Not only was all the rice gone except for a few very small bags of some long grain nasty stuff, but where there had been pallets of rice 24 hours earlier, now there was other items (macaroni and cheese and something else). I overheard about a dozen people complaining about the rice situation, and all of them just wanted "a few bags for themselves, but everyone was hoarding thanks to the news". Still plenty of flour and tons of oil and such, but unless you want minute rice, you were out of luck. - Jeff S.

Mr Rawles,

I was looking thru my welcome page news reports some more before moving on to some of the other things that I do before I log off for the day and found this one next. Sam's Club, Costco Limit Rice Sales. It hit home so to speak, because I was at the local COSTCO a few days ago with my cousin, and we picked up two 50# bags of rice for him and his family. While we were there, I also noticed a posted limit sign on the rack, that stated a limit of 10 per customer. I won't mention the price per bag, but it was a $6.00 savings per 50 pound sack versus the local Sam's Club,where he is a member. I plan on going this weekend to get a bag or two to add to my family's pantry as well. BTW do you or any of your readers know how long flour will keep in a sealed container, and can you keep it put up like beans and rice in sealed mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, or vacuum sealed bags ? And if so, how long of a shelf life would it have ? Any help on this question would be greatly appreciated - Dim Tim

JWR Replies: I describe the storage life of various foods, and the effects of different packaging in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Here are two brief excerpts from the narrative of our COSTCO walk-through:

Now we’re standing in front of pallet racks of bulk rice, in bags. You’ll notice they’re packed here in three different ways. Of the three, I prefer this style here, which is a woven plastic material. It looks like tarp material that has a little grid mesh to it. It stores a little better in these types of bags, but even in these the shelf life is limited.
In the paper bags or in the traditional burlap sacks, the shelf life is very limited. The old burlap sacks look cool, but have the following problems:
a) They’re an invitation for rodents to get in to the rice, and
b) Oxygen is in constant contact with the product and as a result, the shelf life is very short, indeed.

Q: I thought rice lasted forever?
A: No, and here are a couple of things to keep in mind. If the rice is in a non-airtight package like the sacks we’re looking at right now in front of us, the rice will actually draw moisture and start to lose nutritive value within 6 to 8 months.

With things like rice, wheat and beans, I recommend storing an amount equal to the full shelf life for each, because all the extra you have on hand, assuming you have the storage space for it, is fantastic for barter and for charity.

So, for example, say you have rice that you’re packaging in a method that will store it for 10 years. Go ahead and store a 10 year supply for your family. Use it up systematically and 5 years down the road you’re probably going to end up buying another big batch and rotating it on through.


In general, from a nutritional and flavor standpoint I prefer brown rice. The bad news is that brown rice has less than a quarter of the shelf life of white rice. If it’s in a sealed, airtight container, you can store white rice for 10 years and have 80% of your food value. It will store in normal store packaging for 6 to 8 months before it starts to lose some nutrient value. Brown rice packed in an oxygen-free environment will last 1 to 2 years. But it will only last about 6 months stored normally.

Brown pearl rice (the short-grain type that sushi rice is milled from) is great nutritionally.

Unfortunately, when white rice is milled, what they’re doing is stripping off that brown shell. That brown shell is the short storage life component of the rice. What you’re left with is white rice, which is, at best, pretty poor nutritionally. It’s okay if you’re going to have a good food supplement and good vitamins on hand. I prefer the taste, texture, and nutritive value of brown rice. Unfortunately, it only stores for a year or two, even if you pack it just right.

Q: But we can at least meet my goal of having a year’s supply, right?

A: Absolutely. Store a two year’s supply of brown rice and consume half of it every year.


Elsewhere in the preparedness course, I describe my preferred storage method--using food grade buckets--and various methods for insuring that larval bugs won't hatch and destroy the grain or legumes. Here is an excerpt:

To save money you will probably want to buy rice, wheat, and beans in bulk. This usually means 50 pound sacks. Sacks are problematic, since what you really want is a vermin-proof, moisture proof container that is also air tight and preferably evacuated of oxygen. Those are the keys to true long term shelf life, and none of them are provided by a cloth, paper, or woven plastic sack. The solution is to re-pack your bulk food in food grade plastic buckets. Here is how:

Food grade five or six gallon bucket with o-ring seals are available through a variety of Internet vendors. Be sure to specify food grade when you buy. Other buckets intended for products like paint are not safe for use in food storage, even if bought brand new. Although these usually have the same white plastic formulation, they are typically manufactured using a different mold release agent, which is toxic. So don't buy paint buckets!

Used food grade buckets are often available for free or perhaps a dollar apiece if you ask around at local delicatessens and bakeries. Flour buckets are usually best, since buckets that were used for pickles or peppers might leave you with food that has undesired flavors!

The method that I use is as follows: Line a bucket with a large plastic bag and pour in the wheat, rice, or beans, shaking the bucket and tapping it on the floor several times to get the bag completely full. You don't want any air gaps. Fill the bag so that the bucket is filled to within one inch of the top. Then toss two oxygen-absorbing packets (available from Nitro-Pak) into the bag.

If you don't have access to O2 absorbing packets, place a small chunk of dry ice on top of the grain, inside the liner bag. I usually use a piece that is about as big as my thumb. As the dry ice "melts" (sublimates) it will fill the bucket with CO2, displacing the oxygen.

Keep a watchful eye on the dry ice. Once it has sublimated to the diameter of a nickel (and not any thicker than a coin) seal the bag with a wire twist tie. On top of the sealed bag, place a 2 ounce bag of silica gel desiccant. (Also available from NitroPak.) Then immediately seal the bucket, securing the lid with firm strikes from a rubber mallet. This will seat the lid and compress the o-ring.

WARNING: If you don't wait until the dry ice has nearly completely sublimated before you seal the bucket, then dangerous pressure could develop. (A "dry ice bomb.") Again, you must wait until the dry ice chunk has sublimated to the diameter of a nickel, and not any thicker than a coin.

The end result: Very dry food in a sealed, oxygen-free environment, safe from mice. This method will triple or quadruple the shelf like of rice and beans, and make whole grain wheat last literally for decades.

Our family has always maintained a substantial pantry in addition to our "deep storage" items. One way we keep our pantry stocked is by taking advantage of grocery store sales and using coupons. This does take a bit of time on my part, but definitely pays off in the long run.

I utilize www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, www.couponbug.com (these sites allow you to print each coupon two times. We have two computers so that = 4 times each) as my mainstays. But recently I have become a reader of MoneySavingMom.com. She posts deals that I would have normally not found on my own.

One of my most recent "stock ups" have been on Muir Glen organic [canned] tomatoes. They offer $1 off coupons. You have to register. Once you register, click on the Muir Glen link. You are taken to a .pdf coupon for $1 off Muir Glen products along with $1 off Cascadian Farms products. There is no limit to the number of coupons you can print. I use these coupons to stock up on tomatoes and frozen vegetables. At my local Wal Mart the tomatoes cost 16 cents after the coupon and the vegetables cost 40 cents per one-pound bag after the coupon. I usually pick up a case or two on each shopping trip. If I used all 100+ coupons I have, I would probably be limited. I don't want to bring attention to myself.

These make great fillers along with our storage items. Hope this helps you and your readers. - MPS in Nevada

Several readers sent me this: Unpaid utility bills soar as economy sags

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Reader Al C. sent this: Economist: Housing slump may exceed [The Great] Depression

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Inyokern found this article: The Peak Oil Crisis: The Case for 2008

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Reader "Redclay" forwarded us an excerpt from the latest bulletin from the US CMP (formerly--and more familiarly to some of us dinosaurs--called the DCM Program), which included this: "During the past 60 days we have experienced a ten-fold increase in orders for [Greek military surplus] HXP .30-06 ammunition. This activity has significantly reduced our inventory. To ensure that the current inventory last another few years, effective immediately we are establishing an individual maximum purchase limit of ten cases of .30-06 HXP." It sounds like folks are doing some serious stocking up. Note that there are eligibility requirements to buy guns, gun parts, and ammunition from the CMP, but they are not difficult--at least for preppers that don't mind having a slightly elevated public profile.

"Being prepared is sometimes inconvenient, but not being prepared is always inconvenient." - Fred Choate

Saturday, April 26, 2008

FOX News has now posted the video clip of the rollicking tag team interview that they did with me and Brett Arends, yesterday. Look for the video titled: "Load Up the Pantry?"

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Ammunition storage is one of the survival planning trinity: ("Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids"). But what happens when you run out? You can’t plant a garden for 7.62mm NATO or cut up old sheets to make .45 ACP. In this case you need to at least consider the practice (some would say art) of ammunition reloading. Speaking from a perspective of more than 10 years experience, I can honestly say that reloading is no more difficult than repairing a leaking faucet and baking a loaf of bread. It is very similar to making up a recipe with a few mechanical interventions. It is also relatively safe, so long as you don’t try to smoke while measuring powder or try to seat a primer with a hammer. I will limit this discussion to center fire metallic handgun and rifle cartridges, but similar considerations would apply to shotshell reloading.

First, let me present an introduction on ammunition components. There are four basic ingredients to loaded ammunition: Primer, powder, brass case, and projectile. We will handle each in order. We need to be precise in our use of language (Thank you Jeff Cooper!) A cartridge or round is one unit of loaded ammunition. A bullet is the projectile of a cartridge (in the same sense that a clip is different from a magazine). Let me stress at this point that if you already have all the components, it is far better to put it together now rather than later. Reloading takes time, something that may be in extremely short supply in a TEOTWAWKI situation. If your ammunition inventory is adequate, you should consider keeping some components for barter or future use, but the majority of your powder should be in loaded ammunition!

Primers and powder are the two things which cannot be reused and require an industrial capacity to produce. Making primers out of matchstick heads or smokeless powder out of nitric acid and cotton should be regarded a fantasy for individuals wanting to survive. While black powder can be made relatively safely, it will not function well in modern firearms. There is a reason the old-time black powder cartridges were as big as cigars, smokeless powder is far more efficient and safer to handle as well. In other words, if you are considering reloading sometime in the future, you should store some primers and powder now while they are available. (A political aside: In addition to banning guns and ammunition, there have been legislative attempts to ban reloading components.)
Primers come in two sizes each for both pistol and rifle for a total of four sizes: Small pistol, large pistol, small rifle and large rifle (Pistol in this sense includes revolver cartridges). The small version of each type is designed for smaller cartridges and vice versa. While small pistol and small rifle are essentially the same size (likewise for large pistol and large rifle), they are designed to ignite vastly different powder charges. Mixing them up can lead to disaster. An example of a small pistol primer cartridge would be the 9mm NATO (also known as 9x19, 9mm Parabellum and 9mm Luger). The .45 ACP uses a large pistol primer. The 5.56mm NATO (aka .223 Remington and 5.56x45) uses the small rifle primer, and the 7.62mm NATO (aka .308 Winchester and 7.62x51) uses the large rifle primer. Due to the difference in size between small and large, confusion would be difficult and impossible to use incorrectly, but do not confuse pistol and rifle primers of the same size.

Besides the four basic sizes, there is a myriad of subtypes, including standard, magnum, match and military grade. Magnum primers are a niche market and not used in common caliber ammunition (Note .357 Remington Magnum does not use a magnum primer), so you can safely ignore them. Match grade primers are supposedly made with tighter specifications and better quality control. Military primers typically have a “harder” cup and require a strong firing pin impact to ignite, but are less likely to be punctured by a misshaped or pointed firing pin or suffer a slam fire in semi-autos with floating firing pins. The differences in my experience are minimal to nonexistent and you can safely ignore them and go with standard primers. Typical military style weapons (in good working condition) such as AR-15s FN/FALs and M1As work fine with standard primers. Likewise, the difference between the manufactures such as Federal, Winchester, Remington and CCI are also minimal.

Reloading powder (also called canister grade propellant) is available in a confusing array of types from multiple manufacturers. The most distinguishing characteristic is know as burning rate, with a huge spectrum between the slow and fast burning (arbitrary unit designation). The burning rate is controlled by several manufacturing techniques. First is composition. Powders can be either single or double base, with the double base including a proportion of nitroglycerin in addition to the nitrocellulose. The size and shape (spherical or rod shaped) of the powder granules also dramatically alters the burning rate as does various coatings applied in manufacture. The burning rate is tailored to the pressure limits of individual cartridges as well as the projectile weight and barrel length. The general rule is faster powders are used in handguns and slower powders in rifle ammunition. Smokeless powder is listed by weight (typically in grains, one pound is 7000 grains) for a given charge, but is usually measured volumetrically to obtain the desired weight. This is one reason I prefer spherical (also called ball) propellants. The spheres measure much more uniformly when metered by volume.

Just as we simplified the primer issue down to four basic types, the more than 100 different powders available can be vastly simplified for personal reloading. For example, I typically store only four different powders and could go with two in a pinch, one moderately fast for handguns and one moderately slow for rifles. Now, let me discuss safety. While smokeless powder is very stable, it is flammable. Unless contained in a closed space (such as a cartridge) it will only burn, albeit vigorously. It will not explode if dropped or otherwise mistreated. Primers on the other hand are designed to explode if crushed. Treat them as you would treat loaded ammunition. Both components prefer a stable room temperature without excessive humidity and will survive almost indefinitely in such an environment. One thousand primers takes up about as much space as two decks of cards and an eight pound jug of powder is about the size of a gallon of milk.

Our next component is the brass cartridge case, hereafter simple called brass or case. Apart from factory new brass, most reloading is done with used cases. These can come from collecting your own to scavenging the local shooting range. I prefer to reuse my own brass since I know its’ history, but “when times get tough….” When scavenging brass, one needs to be extremely careful. Modern factory ammunition is made with several different metals besides brass. Steel and aluminum are the most common and are definitely not reloadable in a safe way. They need to be crushed and disposed of. In addition, some foreign ammunition is Berdan primed (discussion beyond the scope of this article) and also is not easily or safely reloaded. The problem is that externally, it is near impossible to tell the difference. For safety’s sake, discard everything which doesn’t have a recognizable domestic US factory stamp on the case head (Winchester, Federal, Remington, etc.). Another problem arises with surplus military brass. These frequently have crimped primer pockets, and while reloadable, require special care which will be discussed later. All collected brass should be cleaned and sorted by caliber. Be careful here since some shooting range ammunition (not necessarily “common caliber”) can be very similar. For example, a 9x21 is only slightly longer than the much more common 9mm NATO, but would be catastrophic if it functions at all in a common 9mm. Another common “competition cartridge” (not “common caliber”) is the.38 Super, which is also very similar to the 9mm NATO. Again, the safest bet is to discard (or otherwise sequester) any brass without a legible case stamp indicating caliber.

When scavenging brass, it is also important to discard those with cracks in the case mouth. This is typically due to the “work hardening” of the brass during repeated resizing operations. Cases with small dents induced during ejection in a semi-auto can usually be reused in my experience for routine plinking ammunition, but shouldn’t be used for loads pushing the pressure limit. In fact, I wouldn’t use scavenged brass for any “top end” load since internal volume can vary significantly.

The business end of loaded ammunition, the projectile (aka bullet), also comes in a withering array of sizes and weights. For simplicities’ sake, there are two main types, either lead or jacketed. Both types can come in several styles such as full metal jacket (FMJ), hollow-point, spitzer, round nose, truncated cone, semi-wadcutter, etc. The only safety caveat here is that “pointed” bullets, such as spitzers, must not be used in tubular magazine rifles (such as lever action .30-30’s) since the cartridges are “nose to tail” and recoil could fire the stacked cartridges. In this case the bullet point is acting like a firing pin to the cartridge in front of it.

Factory bullets are sold in a specific bore size, commonly measured in thousandths of an inch, and weight, commonly measured in grains. This is where a lot of confusion is introduced because of the “naming nomenclature” of our ammunition. For example, .38 caliber is actually 0.357” and is one reason why .38 Special can be safely fired in a .357 Magnum. To add to the confusion, our naming nomenclature is used for a marketing perspective, rather than precise use of language. For example, both .38 Super and .357 SIG use 9mm bullets (0.355”) instead of the logical .38 caliber (0.357”) bullets their names would indicate. Here is a table of common caliber ammunition bullet sizes and range of bullet weights:

Cartridge Nominal Diameter (inches) Nominal Weight Range (grains)

5.56mm NATO

.223 Remington

.224 40-70 (55-62 most common)

7.62mm NATO
.308 Winchester

.308 110-180 (150-165 most common)
9mm NATO
.38 Super
.357 SIG
.355 115-147 (124 most common)
.357 Magnum .357 110-180 (158 most common)

.40 S&W


.400 135-200 (175 most common)
.45 ACP .451 160-300 (230 most common)

While it is possible, making jacketed bullets from scratch is difficult. Cast bullets, on the other hand, are relatively easy to make with appropriate tools and supplies. Safety note: Molten lead burns skin like almost nothing else, and lead fumes are dangerous, so adequate ventilation is absolutely critical. Tools needed include a melting pot with spout or ladle, bullet mold and water bath/bucket. Lead can be obtained from wheel weights (make sure they are lead, other metals are used) or by “mining” the berm at the shooting range. This “dirty” lead will need to be washed, melted, all non-lead metal (steel weight clips, bullet jacket material, etc.) removed and flux added to remove dirt. I prefer to obtain cleaned and fluxed lead from other sources (eBay, etc.) but it is more expensive and as always.

The keys to making good cast bullets are a properly heated and smoked mold. Nonetheless, the first few casts will likely be misshapen, and need to be thrown back into the melting pot. I prefer the micro banded or “tumble lube” bullet molds by Lee Precision since they typically don’t require resizing and are easily lubed with their Liquid Alox bullet lube.

There are several caveats with regard to using cast bullets. First is that lead bullets leave a residue in the barrel (commonly called leading), particularly when fired at higher velocities (greater than 1200-feet per second) and become significantly worse the higher you go. Second, barrels designed to “swage” the bullet (most typically Glock with their hexagonal rifling) will cause excessive pressure when fired with lead bullets. A simple solution is a drop in replacement barrel with conventional rifling like the Lone Wolf brand.

The velocity limitation imposed with using cast bullets can effectively preclude their use in semi-auto rifles since effective operation is severely limited at the lower velocities. Thus, if you are planning to reload rifle ammunition, I would suggest a supply of jacketed bullets of appropriate size and weight for your particular firearm.

So, now you have your supply of primers and powder, bullets (either cast or store bought jacketed) and a fresh supply of brass from the recent firefight with the Mutant Zombie Hordes, where do you star?. Reloading consists of eight steps: Cleaning the brass case, decapping the spent primer, resizing the brass case, re-priming the brass case, belling the case mouth to accept the bullet, charging the case with powder, seating the new bullet and reshaping or crimping the case mouth. Several of these steps can be accomplished at the same time, such as decapping/resizing the brass case, case mouth belling/powder charging and bullet seating/crimping but I will discuss each separately.

Cleaning is usually done with a vibratory cleaner with a mild abrasive such as ground corn cob. I prefer the Dillon products, but others are equally useful. Depending on the state of your brass, all that may be needed is a quick wipe with a paper towel. It is critical to handle each case to examine for damage and discard suspect ones.

Decapping the brass case consists of running a punch down the case mouth to push out the old primer. This is where care must be exercised in cases with crimped-in primers. After decapping crimped-in primers, the primer pocket must be reformed to accept a new primer. This can be accomplished by reaming the pocket with a primer pocket reaming tool or re-swaging the pocket.

Resizing the brass case is mechanically complex, but is easily accomplished with an appropriate resizing die and reloading press. It is necessary at this point to bring up the concept of headspace. Headspace is simply the distance from the bolt face of the firearm to the point where further advancement of the cartridge into the chamber is stopped. Rimmed cartridges headspace on the rim, since that is what prevents the cartridge from going further into the chamber. Rimless cartridges either headspace on a belt (in “belted” magnum cartridges, serves same function as a rim but leads to easier feeding), on the shoulder of bottleneck cartridges or the case mouth in straight-walled ammunition. This is an important concept since if the cartridge is too long for the chamber; the bolt will not close correctly. If it is too short, the firing pin may not strike the primer, or worse, it may push the cartridge further into the chamber before ignition, where pressure locks the case in position and pushes back on an unsupported case head. Brass is weak compared to steel and the pressure pushing the case head back to the bolt face may stretch the brass to where it separates from the body of the cartridge. This is known as case head separation, and puts extremely hot gas under tremendous pressure venting right next to your face. Beside the risk of injury or damage to the firearm, you now have the task of removing a now headless cartridge out of the chamber before the firearm can be reused.

Resizing the brass case consists of squeezing down the now slightly expanded fired case back to nominal size. Because of the stresses imparted, lubrication is usually necessary (except in straight-walled ammunition using carbide dies) and is easily accomplished with a simple spray of case lube prior to resizing. This reforming of the brass makes the metal hard and brittle and limits the number of times it can be done without cracking (most commonly seen as cracks in the case mouth which undergoes the most change in size). The only dimension which is not squeezed back to nominal size is the overall length (OAL) and each subsequent resizing operation tends to lengthen the case neck. After resizing a couple of times, the neck may need to be trimmed in order to get the OAL back into specification. I usually discard such brass, since it is removing brass which has come from somewhere else in the case, thus weakening it to some extent. This is not so much a concern for low pressure cartridges such as .45 ACP but can be significant in higher pressure cartridges. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, re-annealing the brass (heating up and quenching) and case trimming may be necessary to get the most life out of a given case.

Re-priming is simply the act of inserting a new appropriate size primer into the brass case. This can be done either on the press, or with a handheld re-priming tool. If I am using a single stage press (where each step is done on a batch of brass before moving on to the next step), I prefer to use the handheld tool. If I am using the progressive press, I leave it up to the press in its sequence of events.

Case mouth belling is the process of slightly enlarging the case mouth to provide ease of bullet insertion. This step is typically not necessary with boat-tailed jacketed bullets, but is critical with cast lead bullets to prevent shaving of the soft lead.

Powder charging is another critical step, similar to resizing. First, you need a recipe. Good sources for a recipe are the powder manufacturers’ and bullet manufacturers’ loading data books. The powder charge must be matched to the cartridge, the weapon and the particular bullet. Load data will typically list a starting load and a maximum load. You need to stay within these limits. Variations within these limits looking for optimum accuracy is know as “working up a load”, and is the source of a lot of enjoyment in these times prior to TEOTWAWKI. Powder dispensing is usually done by adjusting the volume of powder to give a specific weight charge. The ultimate in precision is accomplished by hand weighing each charge, but volume dispensers are much more convenient for routine reloading. Periodic checking of the weight of a “thrown” charge is warranted to make sure your settings haven’t changed.

Bullet seating is simply the process of seating the bullet on the case mouth and pushing it down into the neck (or the body in straight-walled ammunition) so the cartridge OAL is within specification. Once the die is adjusted for the correct depth, subsequent members of the batch will have the same length.

Following bullet seating, reforming the case mouth or crimping the bullet to prevent movement under recoil may be necessary. There are two types of crimps. Taper crimping simply smoothes out any belling and snug’s up the case mouth like a turtle neck sweater. This is used in straight-walled ammunition like pistol cartridges where you need the “step off” from brass to bullet in order to headspace correctly. Roll crimping actually cinches up the case mouth, much like a clothes belt, to provide purchase and prevent movement. Bottleneck cartridges and rimmed revolver cartridges are usually roll crimped.

So what kind of supplies do I need to “roll my own” now or when times get bad? Basic equipment would consist of:

Reloading manual.
Single stage press (Lee makes a nice, inexpensive one).
Die set for your caliber (available from several manufactures).
Powder/bullet weight scale.
Dial caliper/micrometer.
Hand priming tool.
Powder funnel

For the consumable supplies, I consider the amount needed for 1,000 rounds of loaded ammunition. I choose this not only because it is a nice round (and comforting) number, but because our weights are measured in grains and there are 7000 grains in a pound. If you know the charge (or lead bullet) weight, you simply divide the number by 7 to tell you how many pounds are needed to make 1,000 rounds of ammunition. For example, if the charge weight of powder is 35 grains, 35 divided by 7 equals 5, so I will need 5 pounds of powder to make 1,000 rounds with that powder. If my bullet mold makes 230 grain bullets, 230 divided by 7 is slightly less than 33, so I will need 33 pounds of lead to make 1,000 bullets.

For my logistics, I limit myself to “common caliber” ammunition. For handguns, this means 9mm NATO and .45 ACP. For rifles, this means 5.56mm NATO and 7.62mm NATO. For handgun reloading, I mostly use two moderately fast powders both of which work fine for 9mm NATO and .45 ACP. These are Hodgdon HP38 and Accurate #5 powders. These have similar burning rates, but the HP38 uses a significantly lighter charge which makes it more economical.

For rifle reloading, I choose two moderately slow powders both of which work fine for 5.56mm NATO and 7.62mm NATO. These are Hodgdon H335 and Accurate 2230. Likewise, the burning rates are close and charge weights nearly identical. Since cast lead bullets are not appropriate for these rounds, you will obviously need 1,000 jacketed bullets for either.

Supplies Needed for 1,000 Rounds by Caliber:

Component .45 ACP 9mm NATO 7.62mm NATO 5.56mm NATO
Casting Lead or Jacketed Bullets 230 grains = 33 Pounds of Lead 124 grains = 18 Pounds of Lead Need 1,000 FMJ Bullets Need 1,000 FMJ Bullets
Primers 1,000 Large Pistol 1,000 Small Pistol 1,000 Large Rifle 1,000 Small Rifle
Hodgdon Powder 5.3 grains = 0.76 Pounds of HP38 4.4 grains = 0.63 Pounds of HP38 44 grains = 6.3 Pounds of H335 25 grains = 3.6 Pounds of H335
Accurate Powder 8.5 grains = 1.22 Pounds of AA #5 6.2 grains = 0.89 Pounds of AA #5 44 grains = 6.3 Pounds of AA 2230 25 grains = 3.6 Pounds of AA 2230

Like baking bread, reloading can be enjoyable and a real valuable skill in bad times. The costs associated need not be excessive. - NC Bluedog

JWR Adds: While 5..56mm NATO and .223 Remington have quite similar case dimensions and loading specifications, they are not completely interchangeable. For example, it is not considered safe to shoot commercial soft nose .223 loads in a semi--auto rifle chambered for 5.56mm NATO. The same warning applies to 7.62mm NATO and.308 Winchester. Use caution and use the appropriate safety equipment when storing powder and primers, when reloading ammunition, and when melting lead/bullet casting. Study the standard safety warnings before you begin!

Two readers e-mailed me to ask me if the recent drops in the prices of gold and silver were "disconcerting" or if I planned to change my predictions on the metals market. My answer: NO, I consider the recent price drops as evidence of market manipulation in what is otherwise a long term bull market for the metals. Look at this drop as a buying opportunity. I have warned SurvivalBlog readers numerous times that there would be some scary pullbacks in the market. Market manipulation by The Power That Be works in the short term, but it cannot change the fundamental fact the precious metals are sound money, whereas the fiat paper currencies are doomed to inflation. The metals will triumph in the long run, and inevitably the un-backed paper currencies will find their rightful place in the dustbin of history.

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I spotted this linked at Drudge: Climate change 'may put world at war' The article begins: "Climate change could cause global conflicts as large as the two world wars but lasting for centuries unless the problem is controlled, a leading defence think tank has warned."

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New home sales plunge to lowest level in 16-1/2 years, prices drop by largest amount in 38 years

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Martin in England sent this, confirming a letter recently posted in SurvivalBlog: Rationing of rice hits Britain’s Chinese and curry restaurants

"When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic." - Dresden James

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'll be interviewed tonight on Fox News (their "Business Happy Hour") at 5:15 PM eastern time, along with Brett Arends of The Wall Street Journal. Brent wrote the Load Up the Pantry piece that I recently mentioned in the blog.) The subject will be: food shortages and stocking up.

Hi Jim,
Something that has come to mind as someone with a bug out location and bug out vehicle is that specter of fuel rationing. Now, my Bug Out Vehicle has a ~60 gallon diesel capacity which gives me approximately a 1,000 mile cruising capacity - depending on load. I keep my tanks full at all times and stabilized.

As someone with a remote "country home"--that requires fuel to get to--I'm very concerned about having enough fuel to make it to my location. Fuel rationing is a new "breakpoint" that I'm adding to my bug out SOPs, as a trigger point. Reason? Because once they start rationing fuels there may be no way to replace the fuel in the vehicles that would be required to get to my safe haven. Time to think about storing and stabilizing fuels, if you have a Bug Out Location. I'm contacting local suppliers about having a couple of 55 gallon drums of diesel dropped in my garage. These are scary times indeed. - Mr. Teo

JWR Replies: For ease of handling, I don't recommend storing anything larger than 20 gallon drums. Moving drums that are any larger requires special equipment and they are very difficult to quickly load in the back of pickup truck. (A 20 gallon drum is fairly easy for two men to handle, with the proper orchestration. ) The bulk of your diesel should be stored in an underground tank, preferably with its filler head and pump handle camouflaged.

The usual provisos: Consult your local fire code for storage limits and beware of fire safety when storing fuel cans or drums. Storing them in an attached garage is a bad idea.

Dear Sir
The two articles linked below detail issues surrounding world food shortages (and possible solutions) from a UK perspective. I thought that they might be of interest to you. Certainly there is increasing concern here about rising food and drink prices and its increasingly becoming part of the national conversation. It seems there are now almost daily broadsheet newspaper articles on the subject and I can categorically state that the UK is now experiencing similar trends to the US, as identified by your readers. Although rationing has not made the news yet, my father - who is a restaurateur - has discovered that our five large local wholesalers who sell exclusively to the catering industry have run out of rice, cooking oil and other essential foodstuffs.

Families' annual grocery bill rises by £800


Food shortages: how will we feed the world?

Also, thank you for your wonderful web site. To be honest, I had not even thought about survivalism when I first saw SurvivalBlog - I was just looking for outdoor survival techniques for a bushcraft weekend. The more I have read the more convinced I am of the need for preparedness. I cannot afford a retreat but your site has opened my eyes to the numerous other ways I can keep my family safe during any periods of potential unrest. It also gives me great pleasure to read about these issues from a Christian point of view. Although there are many British Christians, it is sometimes difficult for us to be open about our faith. Our society is extremely tolerant of any and all faiths (as it should be of course) but unfortunately our media and politicians frequently marginalise the very people that make this country democratic and free. God bless you and thank you once again, - Paolo

I just finished a two day AK Rifle Gunfighting class with Suarez International, using my AK that I got from Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems. I fired over 700 rounds in a two day period, and had no hiccups or issues. Mark is a first class gunsmith, and was great to work with. For a quality AK build at a very reasonable price, call Mark. For the best training on how to fight with the AK rifle, not just shoot it, call Gabe Suarez at Suarez International. Regards, - SJC

JWR Replies: Gabe Suarez has a fine reputation as a trainer. His classes are reportedly quite intense. I have been a fan of Mark Graham's gunsmithing work since the early 1990s. He did fantastic rebuilds on two pre-ban SAR-48 FAL clone rifles for me, converting their receivers to accept inch magazines and folding charging handles. (He did the "builds"using British L1A1 parts kits that I had supplied.). Mark is also known for his Glock grip reductions and his custom gun refinishing, using a system called MetaCol. It is a very durable and corrosion-resistant finish. OBTW, another gunsmith that I recommend for both FAL and AK work is Rich Saunders at CGW.


After watching the humorous 'safety' video posted on Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest, I was reminded of my most recent training with Gabe Suarez, Team Tactics. We were shooting rifles in groups and I noticed that unlike shooting handguns, tunnel vision with a rifle, especially a scoped one, is a real issue. Shooting handguns still gives you peripheral vision so if someone on your team starts walking into your line of fire, you can see it more easily. With a rifle, looking thru the scope, you lose all your peripheral vision. There are two fixes for this:
1) Keep your shooters in a line. [("Team on line.")]
2) Remind your leader that his or her job is [being] more of a manager than a shooter.

When I was in a leadership role [("fire team leader" or "squad leader")], the only time I actually fired my rifle was when a certain percentage of my shooters all had to reload or had gun malfunctions at the same time. When the cadence of cover fire dropped I began to shoot and I stopped as soon as I could, so I could [resume the role needed to] be the peripheral vision for my team. Don't be shy if you have to grab someone and fling them to the side if they are about to walk into friendly fire. Adrenaline and tunnel vision are a deadly combo. - SF in Hawaii

Shopping for Retreat Property in Rural Western Maine - From Richard Frost in Maine

I'm a survivalist Realtor in Western Maine. I will work with buyers on the many retreat-type properties in the foothills of the northern Appalachians generally within 100 miles or so of the 100 year old agency I'm associated with.

However, there are many, many properties that I have access to which are further away from me - at least 3/4 of the state has retreat-type properties - so can travel further, or refer buyers to another broker. Maine is loaded with reasonably priced (and going lower !) large lots with, or without buildings. Lots of grown up old farmland from 5 - 500 acres - one remarkable 2 0,000 + acre parcel nearby that I'm very familiar with !! Only about 1.3 million folks in this whole isolated state, mostly large forested tracts owned by corporations far away, and we have an excellent long seacoast for trading when perhaps it will be an autonomous state. (or partnered w/free-state New Hampshire !?) Plenty of game from Moose & Deer to Turkeys, Waterfowl, Fish, and tasty Partridge. One hour from our office to the closest stop-light!

Maine has low property taxes for these types of places and relaxed gun laws, in fact it's a good place to buy guns without registration, as there's a statewide weekly publication where people sell things, including lots of guns, directly, not to mention livestock, feed, building supplies, etc., etc..

Zoning generally isn't a problem as far as efforts at farming go.
There are a few small cities - Portland is the largest with only about 100,000 people, so someone could possibly continue to work, and be 1 1/2 hrs. from their retreat, and there's not enough people to clog the roadways.

The area by our agency, [the vicinity of the town of] Rangeley, is a mountain and lake resort-type area, so properties are a bit higher, and if anyone were to look at our web site, I wouldn't want them to be turned away by prices. However, prices that seem high to me are considered cheap to people from other areas. Having said that, I would also say that the few large properties yet undeveloped nearby (say 40 acres for $175,000, or 23 acres for $150,000) are just gorgeous, and in a very beautiful area that will provide lots of fun recreational things to do while waiting to see what happens with the economy . There are plenty of affordable retreat properties in back of the more expensive coastal areas - you can choose to be closer to a little civilization, or to be at the end of a dirt road in an unorganized township, and the taxes on those can be really cheap, like $130 per year for 150 acres! Wooded lots a little further out (that may have some fields remaining) in what were farming areas can be had for as little as well under $100,000 for 100 acres, and plenty of 5 to 40 acre parcels for $12,000-to-$39,000. Generally water is easily accessible in the state, and dug wells are still very common. If you look at a map of Maine, you'll see that it's absolutely covered with ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. It is very possible to harvest ice [from ponds] for refrigeration. I've done it myself more than once, it works well, and isn't too hard to do.

Homes sell for a good bit below the national average statewide, but in the outlying areas they are much cheaper.
As a native, it's been my experience that locals will be very friendly if you are outgoing with them, or if you like, they will leave you alone. Generally speaking, Mainers are self-sufficient, helpful, fairly educated, and all in all, good folks.

We are quite far from any possible [military or terrorist] targets. New York City is about nine hours [drive] away. Where I live is 185 miles from Quebec City, 215 mi. from Montreal, 230 miles from Boston, and 120 miles from Portland [Maine], while being very close to New Hampshire and Canada if someone wanted to skip over the border for whatever reason. New Hampshire, for instance, doesn't have an income tax, but they hit you hard on real estate tax .

I am happy to chat, or e-mail with any curious or interested preparedness folks. Every cent I make goes into my own preparations and I'm very interested in meeting like-minded people to possibly with whom to partner-up. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst – I feel there's no better example of "erring on the side of excess" !
Richard Frost, Realtor. E-mail: richard@morton-furbish.com. Cellular phone: 207-491-8970 or, ask for me at Morton & Furbish Agency Phone: 207-864-5777

"So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave." - Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The mass media is currently in a frenzy about spot shortages of rice, flour, and cooking oil at COSTCO stores. I've fielded seven radio interviews in the last couple of days. The only good news is that we set an all-time record yesterday, with 22,217 unique site visits to SurvivalBlog in one day! The rationing situation is getting worse. Several SurvivalBlog readers sent me this: Wal-Mart's Sam's Club limits rice purchases. Meanwhile, we read in The Washington Times: Americans hoard food as industry seeks regulations.

Josh Gerstein, the reporter that interviewed me for the recent New York Sun piece, just got his two minutes of fame on FOX News: Food Shortage Coming? No Rice For You (It used to be called "five minutes of fame", but apparently time is being rationed, too.)

Things can get a lot worse, and they probably will, since the recent shortages and jumps in food prices are global, and were driven by increased fuel costs, the looming Ug99 wheat rust menace, and a pitiful wheat harvest in Australia. (Australia has had drought in three of the last six years, and this year they reported their smallest wheat harvest in 12 years.) A tremendous amount of US wheat and rice has been exported to east Asia in the past six months, leaving short supplies here. It was inevitable that this would eventually show up at the consumer level. Part of the current problem at the COSTCOs and Sam's Clubs is that commercial bakeries and restaurants have resorted to buying more rice and flour at the Big Box stores. It is not clear whether this is because of shortages at their normal suppliers, or because the COSTCOs weren't keeping up with price increases (making them cheaper than buying wholesale), some stockpiling in anticipation of future price increases, or a combination of these factors. What is clear is that American consumers have finally caught on, and are now likely to stock up. Yesterday, even the stodgy The Wall Street Journal jumped on the preparedness bandwagon, when they printed this editorial: Load Up the Pantry. I predict that if there is media attention that is any more vocal than this, it could induce a buying panic like the Johnny Carson toilet paper incident.

An underlying factor that is being under-reported by the mainstream media is that the modern-day Just in Time (JIT) inventory control is a part of the current problem. As I wrote in SurvivalBlog back in February of 2007, by enthusiastically adopting the Japanese kanban system, America retailers have left themselves quite vulnerable to both wholesale shortages and consumer demand spikes. Inventories are intentionally kept lean, for efficiency. This is great for cutting costs in normal times, but it is dangerously fragile whenever a disruption occurs. With JIT, every purchase is logged at the checkout counter terminal, and once a predetermined shelf threshold is reached, an automatic restocking order gets forwarded through the system. Typically, these re-supply shipments take around 24 hours. But a big spike in sales can totally overwhelm the system, leaving empty shelves.

I'm glad that most SurvivalBlog readers stocked up well in advance. By doing so, you are now part of the solution in a food crisis, rather than part of the problem. Because you stocked up many months ago, each one of you represents one less buyer rushing to the store at the 11th hour. And, by having extra on hand, you can dispense charity to your less prudent neighbors.

If the current rice shortage gets any worse, you need to be prepared to dispense charity. I assume that the average SurvivalBlog reader has about 200 pounds of rice on hand. I recommend that you identify friends, neighbors, co-workers and church brethren that are gluten intolerant. For most of us, a shortage of rice, by itself, is not much of an issue. We can simply shift to eating more wheat. But this is not an option for folks that are gluten intolerant (also known as celiac disease, or celiac sprue.) If any of your acquaintances are in this category and they report that they are running out of rice, then quietly offer to give them some. For the sake of OPSEC, just let them know that you have "a little extra" that you can share. Never hand out any of your rice stockpile in more than five pound increments, or you might start some unfriendly rumors.

Hopefully, this will be a short term phenomenon. I anticipate that the Bush administration will soon sharply curtail exports of rice and wheat. Once the current shortage is alleviated, we should both thank God for his Providence, and take this as a reminder to stock up even more, to be prepared for future shortages. Remember our motto:" Two is one, and one is none."/p>

Two months ago you could purchase Almond Nut Butter for around $7.50 per 16 ounce jar. Today the Almond butter is selling for $17.00 per jar. Today Cashew Nut Butter sells for around $11.50 and two months ago it sold for around $6.00 per 16 ounce jar. A clerk at Walmart commented that prices are rising fast.

Rosauers Grocery Store in Kalispell, Montana had raised its prices more than 11 percent in February and has raised them again in April, some up to 17%. They blame rising fuel costs. What you purchase today will not cost the same next week because oil and food commodities future prices are soaring.

A local feed store that also sells food grains had one of its largest selling days ever Monday when the east and west coast food shortages hit the major media. I saw one fellow purchase a 3/4 ton pick up truck full of sacked food grains and beans. Money is coming out of the local mattresses to stock up before panic shopping starts.

It is possible that those food shortage news stories set into motion a hoarding collapse of our eight day national supply of grain before the stories were spiked. We will know by the end of the coming week the effects of Monday's strategic nationwide shopping. The e-mail re these news stories is still being sent around the Internet. Each time a new food shortage occurs somewhere in the nation expect to see more strategic buying. After we reach the end of our just in time national grain supply we will see food riots and I expect the government will formally declare martial law and impose food rationing. The media will step in blaming hoarders for the food shortages.

Yesterday COSTCO showed my wife what we purchased in 2008 on the hand held checkout wand and that we had already exceeded our 2007 purchases in the first quarter of 2008. Needless to say this tells us all of our shopping habits are being carefully tracked. I believe that people are being profiled as resistors or hoarders. [Some deleted, for brevity] - Rosie the Bull, in Montana

I’m finding SurvivalBlog very interesting in these troubling times. I came across it in the bibliography of a good novel, "Last Light", by Alex Scarrow, which took me to Peak Oil, and then to your blog.

I live in a small city in the most unknown part of Italy , a southern region called Basilicata . It’s always been a region bypassed by history and its inhabitants have known a modicum of well being only in the past 20 years. You might have heard of a book called "Christ Stopped at Eboli" by Carlo Levi. Well, that’s here. Though of course right now, it’s a charming place to live, with a lively music scene, great art and new restaurants opening up every day, people still remember vividly a subsistence existence.

I think having been very poor could actually be a huge advantage if and when it is The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI). There’s still a huge huge amount of knowledge in their DNA about how to make do under harsh conditions of extreme scarcity. I can’t imagine them panicking if horrible things happen because every home has a grandmother or grandfather or an uncle that tills a small field, that can make sausage and is really good at canning. They have literally thousands of years of experience in banding together in harsh conditions. My sisters in law know everything there is about storing food, canning, etc.

In many ways, the millennial poverty (now greatly alleviated) will probably prepare them well if things collapse. And maybe areas of the world that are used to living in scarcity will do better than rich urban areas. They might not collapse, just revert to a previous culture. Also, this area is very rich in water and they’ve just discovered the largest methane fields in Europe .

Anyway congratulations on your fascinating blog. Right now, there’s no food scarcity because Italians don’t have a long food chain. They are very careful to eat locally and by law food’s origins must be labelled and Italians prefer national food to imported food, because they are snobbish about the taste of imported food. Also, Italy grows most of its own rice. Best, - E.J.

JWR Replies: I wholeheartedly agree that in the event of a societal collapse, those that live close to the land will fare better than most others. It may go down in history as a Great Inversion--something analogous to France, during the Revolution, when wealthy people in desperation traded rings set with precious stones, gold necklaces, and fancy furniture for loaves of bread. Perhaps in the next collapse they'll be trading Jet Skis and big screen plasma televisions. This sort of inversion was aptly described by Pat Frank, in his early-1960s post-nuke novel "Alas, Babylon." The novel is set in rural Florida. The story describes how the erstwhile poor black residents coped much better than rich whites, simply because they were already accustomed to making do. When dollars became worthless, suddenly it was practical skills that trumped all else. Before the Schumer hit the fan, the "Po Folks" already raised gardens, kept small livestock, and were experienced subsistence fishermen. Their white neighbors had a lot of catching up to do, to reach the same level of self-sufficiency.

Could life imitate at? I think so. The most likely to prosper in a collapse will me middle class farmers and ranchers that are well-removed from urban areas . They can capitalize on their food production kills and infrastructure, yet will be isolated from most of the peril that will grip the cities and suburbs. A farmer with a pair of well-trained draft horses and old-fashioned (horse-drawn) machinery will do the best of all. These farmers with new-found wealth will of course have to quickly hire some mercenaries to protect what they have. Speaking of Italy, the days ahead may get downright Machiavellian.

Reader Jeff B. flagged this in The Wall Street Journal: Green Acres II: When Neighbors Become Farmers. Jeff's comment: "I like how this guy took the idea of leased farm or grazing land and applied it to his neighborhood yards! The best part is that his neighbors are much more accepting of it then the trend toward 50-page home owner covenants would leave one to imagine"

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Eric Roseman of The Sovereign Society uses the term "inverse stagflation" for the current market that simultaneously has both inflation and deflation. (A term coined by Renee Haugerud, back in 2003.) He says that it is in some ways, the economy is similar to the 1970s, with galloping inflation in commodities prices, but with but with some sectors exhibiting distinct deflation such as the declining housing market, 12+ months of a declining equities markets, and a painfully tight credit market. (Tight credit is deflationary, since the money multiplier effect also works in reverse.) He sees a big margin squeeze coming, and plenty of pain created by markets slamming pillar to post between inflation and deflation.

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Hawaiian K. found this for us: Veteran survivalist/economist Howard J. Ruff cites Shadowstats data that points to an upcoming hyperinflationary depression.

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I heard that Affordable Shortwaves is offering a free earbud/mic with each MURS Alert handheld sold ($74 each) and that they have the MURS Alert motion alert transmitter priced at just $99 each. This is a considerable savings from ordering them from the manufacturer, and you can also avoid the data mining that Dakota Alert does with each Internet order.

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." - Daniel Webster

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I just got off the phone with Charles Feldman, a reporter with radio station KNX in Los Angeles. At the end of my interview, he asked me to poll the SurvivalBlog readership: If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, and have experienced any food rationing or empty shelves at a "big box" store or at a supermarket in the past few weeks, please give him a call. (He is trying to gauge how widespread the rationing is.) You can phone him at (323) 900-2070. If you call on Wednesday, please call between 9 am and 5 pm, PST. Please start your call by mentioning that it is regarding rationing. If you leave a message, please mention the city where the store is located. Thanks!

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $230. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog.", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

There has been a great push in this country by child rearing experts and the medical profession that children must be "socialized". It has been a pivotal buzzword for educators and parents alike. It is a main reason for the negative swell toward homeschooling. Yet, it is my contention that what we need to foster, from birth, is natural instinct. Natural instinct is what we understand as the survival instinct. It is an innate instinct of distrust. It is the instinct that alerts us as we start down a dark alleyway on our way home from work. It is the instinct that forces us to take a step back from a new person that we meet that sets off alarm bells in our brain. It is this instinct that must be fostered in our children and future generations.

From the moment our children are born, they are whisked away from the mother in the arms of another. As parents, we hand our babies off to Aunt Betty and Uncle Ernie, the day care worker, people we meet, and those we don't even know, the girls at the office, and those child care workers at church and the gym. It is expected. Those that don't hand their children over are scolded, scorned or scoffed at. Negative comments about the welfare of the baby are passed around behind the back of the cautious parent.

All of this passing around from person to person and situation to situation kills the child's very first survival instinct- distrust. A baby who is bonded closely with his primary caregiver will not take kindly to being passed from person to person. They will scream until they are returned to that person whom they trust above all else. A child who has been passed around and has never bonded closely with one primary caregiver will not display any sense of distrust with strangers or strange situations at all.

This initial distrust can be observed in the animal kingdom. From cow calves to elephant calves, the animal that is left with its primary caregiver, usually its mother, will not allow human contact. It will not stand to be touched or petted. It will scurry behind the knees of its mother and peer out at the unfamiliar person.

On the farm, we observe this all the time. Our beef cows calve in the field and are raised by their mothers. Our dairy cows, on the other hand, are separated at birth and raised on a bottle. They bond with the people who feed them. What about the beef calves? Any cowboy can tell you how tough it is to separate the momma's and babies. On the other hand, the dairy calves will follow even the farm dog around with no sense of danger or distrust.

How does one begin to foster a sense of distrust in children? Can it be learned in fifth grade when the local policeman comes and tells the school kids not to talk to strangers? Studies have shown over and over again that children will go to strangers, leave with them and trust them. Is this the result of our "socialized" society? How does this translate to these people as adults? Are these people more apt to find themselves in difficult situations, unable to distinguish a potential threat to themselves and their loved ones?

Allowing a baby to bond closely with one or two people is critical in fostering the survival instinct. It is natural. In fact, it is the most natural thing in the world. How does one start? Start by breastfeeding. Feeding time is bonding time. In a survival situation, powdered baby formula might not be available. Breastfeeding not only encourages a close bond, but it is also very convenient. A family on the move may forget a bottle, but I can guarantee that they won't forget Mom.

Wear your baby. During the daylight hours, wear your baby. Native cultures have always used various slings or wraps to keep their baby close while working. Only in modern times have we developed all sorts of contraptions to keep baby happy and away from us so that we can go on about our lives as usual. A sling or Maya wrap allows you to keep your baby content all day and close for feedings. In a survival situation, it keeps the baby quiet, warm and content.

Wearing your baby also offers the benefit of not having to share your baby with strangers. A baby in a stroller invites a host of onlookers and well wishers, exposing your baby to a host of strangers and their germs. A baby in a sling is almost always content and is but another step in the bonding process.

Sleep with your baby. Many people will surely sneer at this one, but sleep, like feeding, is a time of trust and deep bonding. Learning to sleep is important for an infant. Putting your child in another room, closing the door so you can't hear them screaming is certainly not natural. The cry of a child is supposed to drive us to action, it is part of our survival instinct. Sleeping with your baby is natural, all species of animals sleep with their offspring. In any survival situation, it may be necessary to share close quarters with your family members, it should be the norm, not the exception.

As baby's become toddlers, don't push them into the unfamiliar. I see this all the time at family gatherings, a parent forcing a child to sit on Grandpa's knee. Respect your toddler's sense of distrust; someday his life may depend on it. We must stop pushing our children to be "social". If a young child refuses to go to someone or resists a situation, clearly, there is no reason to force it on him. That child will never learn to trust his instincts, because we, as parents, don't trust his instincts'. Let the child lead. We are always bothered by our children's reluctance to accept new situations and people not because we want what is best for that child, but because we are afraid of what other people will think about us and our style of parenting.

By not respecting the reluctance of our children toward people or situations, we teach them to ignore their own internal warning signs. Only humans are unique in this, any other species would certainly perish.

Toddlers will always test and push their limits, but a toddler who trusts his caregiver and has bonded closely will be alert to that person's subtle nuances and body signals. In an unfamiliar situation, a toddler will stay close to the one he has bonded with. Often, without words, that person can convey a sense of unease or distrust of an individual or situation thereby keeping the toddler safe from possible danger without being so obvious. The child who has not shared this close bond, will often wander off, oblivious to dangers until an adult chastises him for his misdeed.

Indeed, it has been my experience that the caregiver with whom the toddler has bonded becomes the nucleus around which the toddler experiences the world. Initially, the toddler will always stay close, venturing off only in safe, familiar surroundings, staying close, often within touching distance, in unfamiliar territory or around new people. The toddler will engage in an activity, always keeping the caregiver within eyeshot, traveling back and forth between the activity and the caregiver. Thus the toddler learns to trust the world under the watchful eye of his primary caregiver, the one that he trusts above all else.

It is critical at this stage that the caregiver does not take advantage of the trust that has been built up to this point. If the toddler is not aware of some danger, a sharp, warning tone of voice will stop the toddler in mid action. All parents' possess this "emergency" tone. Unfortunately, this sharp, warning tone of voice is also often used in non-emergency situations, i.e. "Stop kicking your feet at the dinner table!" All effectiveness is soon lost and the toddler will learn to ignore the "emergency" tone of voice. Abusing the power of the "emergency" tone also erodes trust. The sky can only fall so many times.
In conclusion, if we truly wish to give our children an advantage in life, we should begin at birth. Our comfortable lifestyles have made us complacent. Civility towards others at all costs has caused us to abandon and ignore our own instinct of distrust. In the great name of socialization, we continue to place our youngest and most defenseless citizens in possible peril by ignoring their protests. If we, as a species, are to survive in the uncertain future, we must take our cue from the natural world and once again learn to foster the survival instinct in our babies and young children.

The Memsahib Adds: Andrea makes makes excellent points in her article. In our extended family we have noticed the same phenomenon that Andrea describes. In our extended family, the children who were bottle fed and put in day care are continually is hazardous situations because they have no caution. They wander away from the family at the zoo, at restaurants, and at parks. Furthermore they are easily led astray by their peers because they are not bonded to their parents.

Parents who choose a "close parenting" style will need to steel themselves against the pressure they will receive from relatives and neighbor that will chide them for not properly "socializing" their kids. Well meaning church members will repeatedly urge you to leave your children in the church nursery. Friends will chide you to leave your children with a sitter for the sake of your marriage. Ignore them! We used hear this from our family. But, we have seen the result: our kids are confident, competent, and safe. They can be trusted when using an axe or a gun. They are not shy, and in fact are quite good public speakers, (Although we purposely sought out public speaking training for our children, initially in a 4H club.) My advice is to raise your children solidly, dispense fair and impartial discipline, and minimize their exposure to television. You won't be sorry.

I've read the recent article in the New York Sun (Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World) regarding the [informal] food rationing that has now begun. Everything is starting to unfold quicker than expected, but it is not a huge surprise. I personally own a small and private operation (cash only) which sells large amounts of bulk food storage for those who have their eyes open and are awake to what's going on which is not many. We generally move large quantities of bagged and cleaned Wheat, lentils, soup peas, flax seed and all other manner of legumes( beans) and oats in in large quantities. [Some details deleted, for OPSEC.]

Anyway, the reason I'm contacting you is to let you know that we are now seeing massive shortages and in many cases completely empty warehouses here in western Canada. We work with the very largest suppliers in Western Canada right down to the the small growers. All of the large suppliers supplies are drying up as everything is being shipped out of country and overseas. Growers are hanging on to what little they have for the most part and are not selling out in most cases. Historically this has never happened [in Canada]. We've all taken for granted the availability of our food stuffs and now its crunch time. The global famine has now begun and once the panic of empty store shelves hits the local supermarket. All that I can say is that you had better be ready for a nationwide situation of hysteria and panic. Get what you can now, folks, because it will not be available soon! - LNL

JWR Replies: Thanks for those observations, which confirm what I've been hearing in the United States. It is noteworthy that there are ongoing food price and shortage protests in 33 countries--mostly in the Third World. (Including out-and-out riots, in a few.) One recent bit of news: Japan's hunger becomes a dire warning for other nations.

Greetings Rawles family!
I am a member of a forum online that I think has a real gem for your readers. Gary, the administrator over at Post Apocalyptic Media (which focuses on post-apocalyptic science fiction, but has some preppers as well) has put together a great project. He edited [US military field manuals] (FMs), and other non-copyrighted books taking out information that would not be useful to non-Army personnel (nothing
tactical or important, strictly Army procedural things). He then put them together in books with titles like "Survival", "Survival: Health" which includes FM 4-25.11 First Aid, Emergency War Surgery, FM 8-284 Treatment of Biological Warfare Agent Casualties, "Survival: Arms", "Survival: Rebuilding", as well as titles like [the 19th Century formulary] "The Household Cyclopedia" (also titled "MacKenzie's 10,000 Recipes") and others to come. All are available to download for free, and are also available [in hard copy] at no cost beyond [the actual cost of] supplies. [They are being sold at zero profit.] The printed ones come with useful and sharp looking camouflage covers that Gary designed. Here are the links [to the forum threads which in turn have links to the PDFs and the Lulu.com ordering pages]:

Military Manuals

19th Century Texts

Regards, - Rightcoast

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. Be advised that registration is required to access the Post Apocalyptic Media forum, but to register, all that they ask for is a name and e-mail address.

Bank of America Net Income Falls 77% on Writedowns. Something tells me that their acquisition of the mortgage lender Countrywide will not do good things for their balance sheet in the coming year.

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UN chief warns world must urgently increase food production

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Just as I predicted, lots of fallowed land in the CRP is again being tilled: Land Once Preserved Now Being Farmed

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Don't miss reading this one, from The Market Oracle: Commercial Banks Heading for Huge Derivatives Losses- Credit Crisis Turning into Credit Armageddon

"Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?" - Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A link to an article in the New York Sun is getting forwarded like wildfire on preparedness web sites and blogs, and was both linked at The Drudge Report and mentioned by talk radio host Glenn Beck: Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World. It is notable that the article specifically talks about shortages at the "big box" warehouse stores like COSTCO and Sam's Club. Those are where I recommended stocking up, in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Even with these current shortages, the course explains how a family can economically stock up 90% of what they need for a year of food storage in just a couple of trips to a warehouse store.

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $210. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog.", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Links in your e-mail footer and/or at your web page or blog page would be greatly appreciated!

Thankfully, the Federal ban on 11+ round firearms magazines "sunsetted" in September of 2004. But sadly some bans are still in effect at the state and local level. Most notably, these laws are still on the books:

No pistol or SMG magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds in Hawaii. (High capacity magazines that only fit rifles are allowed. (For example, since there are AR-15 pistols, AR-15 magazines are banned.)
No magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds in California, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New York. (See State Penal Code 265.23 for details. To the best of my knowledge, 11+ round magazines that were made before 9/94 can be legally purchased by residents of New York.)
No magazines with a capacity over 12 rounds in Chicago, Illinois
No magazines with a capacity over 15 rounds in New Jersey; South Bend, Indiana, or Aurora; Illinois
No magazines with a capacity over 20 rounds in Maryland, Wichita, Kansas, or the City & County of Denver Colorado

In recent months, I've noticed several ads on the Internet for full capacity (11+ round) magazines with the statement "Available in Kit Form for residents of New York and California." One of these advertisements was for Polymer AR-15 PMAGs, which didn't go into production for the civilian market until late 2004! Obviously, customers risk getting into trouble if they buy complete parts sets for magazines that were not made before September of 1994.

Private possession of "high capacity" magazines made after September of 1994 is a felony in New York. Similarly, in California, possession of "high capacity" magazines that were not owned by an individual on or before December 31, 1999 is a felony. (And, since the now-defunct Federal ban of 1994 to 2004 was in effect at the time that this law was enacted, that would also effectively mean that Californians would own only pre-9/1994 magazines.) So what these sellers are offering buyers in those states is the chance to get a felony conviction which would mean losing their right to vote and their right to own a gun for the rest of their lives. I strongly recommend that readers that live in states or cities with restrictions resist the temptation to skirt the law by buying magazine parts "kits". A felony conviction is always a life-changing event.

In such cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecuting attorney, and there is of course a presumption of innocence. Unless there is a post-1994 sales "paper trail", or unless they have post-9/1994 date markings, any magazines of the types made before 9/94 will surely be presumed to be pre-ban. But it would be very easy for a prosecution team to prove that PMAGs didn't start to be available on the civilian market until late 2004.

OBTW, I should mention that similar laws are in effect in other countries. For example:

In Canada: No semi-automatic rifle magazines (except rimfire) with a capacity over 5 rounds, and no pistol magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds. (There are exemptions for members of competitive shooting teams.)
In New Zealand: No centerfire magazines with a capacity over 7 rounds, and no rimfire magazines with a capacity over 15 rounds. (There are exemptions for some licensed "certificate" holders.)

Disclaimer: The aforementioned laws are not all-inclusive lists. Nothing in this post or any of my other posts represent legal advice. Research your state and local laws, and consult a qualified attorney that lives in your jurisdiction.

One closing thought for SurvivalBlog readers that live where these idiotic laws exist: Vote with your feet!

I have very carefully concealed my gun safe but in order to fool potential crooks, but I also have an old one that is very poorly hidden. It has stickers on it from my favorite firearms manufacturers. Once the [burglars] get it back to their den and peel it open, they will find themselves the proud owners of five large sandbags full of gravel. - Andy B.


My wife and I were recently discussing hiding places - what about inside a bucket of paint? Securely wrapping "the valuables" up in appropriate containers (likely several layers of Ziploc sandwich bags) and just dropping it in. If the valuables aren't heavy enough to sink, a rock or piece of metal should be added to keep them at the bottom. Hey, you could even write "Treasure" on the bucket of paint and people would just think it's the name of the paint color, but it would help you remember which one has the stash.


Take a look at Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore directory. ReStore only accepts new paint or stain donations, so you don’t have to worry about buying some toxic brew some schmuck dumped off. I buy from here because the only thing I care about is that it is water based latex paint, and that it is in five gallon buckets. I don’t care about the brand, or color, and it’s inexpensive and the money goes to what I happen to believe is a laudable effort. Never mind Jimmy Carter.

I then go to another hardware store and buy new, metal one gallon paint cans and lids. The ones that have the lids that fit into the center of the can, and have to be hammered down, and then pried up with a screwdriver. The plastic ones don’t work that well, so don’t bother with them.

A suitable amount of paint is removed from the five gallon can.

I place my gold, and silver into the one gallon cans along with a desiccant, hammer the lid on, and then submerge them into the five gallon can. Each five gallon container will hold two one gallon containers without any problem. More than that, they get a little heavy, and the paint doesn’t always conceal what is inside the can if the lid should be opened.

I only use this technique for things I will not need to get at readily. It might be good for long term hiding of small handguns, and ammunition as well.

Your site is a welcome find. Have fun! Sincerely, - JTH

JWR Replies: It is interesting that two readers both mentioned the same idea. Because steel paint cans might rust when submerged in water-based paint, I'd recommend using only plastic containers.

One of my favorite "in plain sight" caches that can be used outdoors is a length of 4" diameter PVC pipe, with a glued-on cap on one end, and a threaded cap on the other end. The pipe is buried vertically, with the threaded end cap left protruding from the ground, looking just like a typical septic clean-out cap. Unless you hire someone to pump your septic system or to "snake" your drain pipes, it is highly unlikely that anyone would ever disturb one of these caches.

It's important to maintain a variety of root and grain crops for use as survival crops. Potatoes are easy to grow, easy to store and are nutritious enough to keep you healthy as a sole food (if you eat 2/3 of them raw). It is true potatoes have to be grown every year and that they are vulnerable to soil pathogens, but they can be grown under relatively low light, cool conditions, so why not take a small part of the harvest and raise them in a greenhouse through the winter with supplemental light. A half 55-gal. drum filled with leaves would permit new potatoes to be harvested occasionally without killing the plant. This is a way to always have some actively growing and experiment with low light conditions. If volcanoes start going off we could have several years of deep gloom. Corn and wheat need lots of light, but potatoes need much less. A traditional storage of potatoes is in buckets buried on their sides. This avoids consuming basement space and also comprises a hidden food supply. You can dig up one bucket at a time to bring into the basement.

In any case, we don't want to trust just one crop. Grains have the advantage of storing longer, especially wheat. Old varieties of corn, wheat, etc. are good, but I worry about GMO contamination. How about some unusual crops: quinoa, amaranth, wild rice, millet, and so forth? Some other root crops: sweet potatoes (see: Sand Hill Preservation Center) and Jerusalem Artichokes (see: Ronninger Potato Farm). Does anyone know of a blog devoted to growing, storing, processing a wide variety of crops from a self-sufficiency standpoint? This can be fun, but there is much to learn. Trading ideas and stock would be helpful. - MSB

JWR Replies: I strongly agree that there is inherent safety in planting a wide variety of crops. In addition to the sources that you mentioned, Seed for Security provides heirloom variety (open pollinated/non-hybrid) gardening seeds for beans, corn, pumpkins, and squash.

Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies. This is an inevitable result of the liquidity crisis, just as I had warned.

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Attacks in Middle East, Nigeria send oil to record $117.40

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Check out the inventory at CampingSurvival.com: camping gear, first aid supplies, tools, optics, knives, storage food, boots, colloidal silver, NBC protection, you name it. A couple of my favorite items are their emergency dental kit and their magnesium fire starter.

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RBS flagged this blog piece: Foreclosures now outnumber home sales in California

"Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils." - General John Stark, 1809

Monday, April 21, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $160. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog.", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mister Rawles,

Household burglaries are all too common, especially where I live. (In a Cleveland, Ohio suburb. The crooks actually commute out to the suburbs to burglarize!) From news stories, I have observed that : 1.) They aren't too smart. If they were, they'd have a "real" job!), and 2.) They are usually in a hurry. You've mentioned building hidden caches in your blog several times, but have you given any thought to hiding things in plain sight?

For example you could empty out cans of unappealing food items (like dog food, or olives), and using that space for valuables. - Thanks, - Terrence

JWR Replies: Making your own "hide in plain sight" containers is a bit time consuming, but it is a fun exercise for a weekend afternoon. If you carefully remove the label from a steel can, you can saw the can in half. Then empty it out and wash it. After drying it thoroughly, you can stuff it full of valuables and tape it shut. Glue the label back on, and voila! A can that is almost indistinguishable from any others. Some detailed instructions on another method are shown at Instructables.com.

One reputable mail order vendor that sells some very clever mass-produced "diversion" safes is Personal Security Online. Another vendor is PestControls.us. They sell diversion safes that look like books, beer or soda cans, and even rocks. And an even bigger assortment of diversion safe containers is available from eFindOutTheTrurth.com.

Perhaps some readers would care to e-mail me some of their favorite do-it yourself ideas for hiding things in plain sight.

What is your opinion on owning the AK variant rifle as a survival weapon? Though medium powered and limited in range to 300 yards, I feel that the simplicity of this weapon is a big plus (as well as magazine capacity, ammo prices/availability. Thanks, Jason, North Idaho

JWR Replies: I do like the AK action. They are very robust and designed to take a tremendous amount of abuse, as this YouTube video graphically illustrates.) The AKs chambered in the intermediate 7.62x39 cartridge are indeed are far less expensive than a FAL, M1A or HK91. But ballistically, this cartridge is insufficient for shooting beyond about 250 yards.The good news: You can have the best of both worlds by buying a Russian American Armory Saiga .308, for around $450. It has the robust AK action, yet it has the full power of 308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO. Magazines for the Saiga used to be a problem, since the largest that came from the factory were 10 rounds. But good quality 25 round magazines are now available, but at $35 each, still fairly expensive. (With the looming threat of another Federal "high capacity" magazine ban if the Democrats take the White House, you should buy at least 10 spare 25 round Saiga magazines! Folding stocks and many other accessories are also available. Saiga .308s have been on the market long enough that used ones are now available for under $400 each, on the private party market. (Available without a paper trail, if bought at a gun show, in most states.)

In today's market, I consider the Saiga .308 the best choice of a battle rifle for someone with a moderate budget. Functionally, it is like owning a Valmet .308. (The Cadillac of Kalashnikovs), yet they are available at a "Chevy" price.

To recapitulate and to add a bit to what I've written in previous posts...

Here are my recommendations for battle rifle purchasing, depending on your budget:

Tight budget (students, pensioners, etc.): A .303, .or 8mm Mauser military surplus bolt action, such as an Enfield or Mauser M1893/M1898. These can often be found at gun shows, for under $200. BTW, the earlier-production Mausers are also classed as Federally exempt "antiques", which can be bought across state lines with no FFL paperwork, is a nice plus.

Young wage earners: SKS carbine.

Older wage earners: Saiga .308 rifle.

Higher income, with some accrued savings: HK91 clone such as the Vector V-51 or JLD PTR-91.

Salaried professionals: L1A1/ FN-FAL clone, M1A, or a HK91 (factory original)

Top tax bracket professionals: Factory original pre-ban (Belgian) FN-FAL, Lithgow L1A1, Valmet M76 .308, Galil .308, a match grade M1A, or a HK91. If you can afford to, get the best optics available, including Trijicon ACOG scopes, and/or Gen. 3 Starlight scopes.

Regardless of your rifle choice, be sure to get the best training that you can afford! If someone is a newbie with just $1,000, I would recommend spending $500 on a rifle, and $500 on training--rather than buying a $1,000 rifle. For those readers on a budget, take advantage of the low cost Appleseed and WRSA training events. If you have more money, then go to one of the best schools such as Front Sight, Gunsite, or Thunder Ranch.

When budgeting for a firearm, remember that you are buying a long term bullet launching capability--not just the bullet launcher itself. That means buying: the rifle, plus magazines, plus ammunition, plus web gear, plus cleaning equipment, plus training, plus a few spare parts, plus perhaps some optics. Hence, a bargain-priced $800 used M1A .308 that you find at a gun show might eventually cost you $3,000 or more, once it is fully outfitted. If you can't afford to buy the whole package, then be rational and buy a less expensive rifle!

Mr. Rawles:
The problem with potatoes as a survival crop, is that they are susceptible to soil-borne diseases. Before toxic sprays, seed potatoes were grown at elevations above 800 feet, which does help. They also require a very good root cellar, in order to keep all the way through the winter, until the next planting season. Seed potatoes cannot be stored for years like grains. One [year of] crop failure, and you are done. It helps to swap all your potatoes saved for seed with another gardener, some distance from you. Look for someone with a different type of soil, and you may be able to get by for a number of years. Relying on potatoes as a long term survival crop is risky. Just look at Irish history. - FARMERIK

The mainstream media is finally catching on to the surging interest in the Survivalist movement. See, for example, a recent CNN Europe article, in which I'm dubbed " unofficial spokesman" for the survivalist movement: Survivalists get ready for meltdown. OBTW, I was also quoted (albeit indirectly) in a breezy Fortune magazine article: The appeal of gold--Survivalists and speculators see it as the ultimate safe haven, but buying too much can also be a trap

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The folks at HAZARiD (one of our advertisers) recently revamped their web site and put up a video clip. Their fogging applicator can quickly apply the special HAZARiD disinfectant to virtually any surface. Unlike chlorine solutions, the HazardID solution is not corrosive.

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This is probably old news to most SurvivalBlog readers, but in case you missed it: Nalgene to phase out hard-plastic bottles--Containers made with bisphenol A chemical linked to health risks

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Rate of home foreclosures expected to get worse

"Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood : it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of float happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances - what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits. After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting : such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till [this] nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We are happy to welcome our newest advertiser, Seed for Security. They provide heirloom variety (open pollinated/non-hybrid) gardening seeds.

I am amazed at how political Wikipedia has become. I heard from a reader that the recent attempted deletion of the James Wesley Rawles article at Wikipedia was stopped, by consensus. But now, the neutrality of the article has been called into question. If you are an experienced Wikipedia editor, then please post your opinion about the article's neutrality, one way or the other. Thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have read and been positively influenced by your novel ["Patriots"]. I am now making provisions for difficult times. Can you recommend any links towards obtaining dentistry kit and basic dental instruction? Mainly interested in being able to perform extraction safely. With Thanks and Sincerity, - Dan-O

JWR Replies: This topic has been covered briefly in the blog, but is important enough that it deserves additional discussion. The most important resource is the book "Where There is No Dentist", available for free download from the Hesperian Foundation (But I recommend getting a bound hardcopy. Ditto for their book "Where There is No Doctor". Used copies can often be found on Amazon.com for little more than the cost of postage.) Back in July of 2007, I posted letters from Tip in Las Vegas and from "J" the Dentist, that describe low cost sources for dental instruments. It would also be wise to stock up on other dentistry supplies such as gauze, oil of cloves, and so forth. Unless you are stranded in the back country, I do not recommend that you put in temporary fillings under present day circumstances. If a filling leaks, it could cause an infection. However, in a genuine TEOTWAWKI situation, temporary fillings may be your only alternative to suffice for weeks or even months until you can get to a qualified dentist. For this reason, you should stock up on temporary filling material such as Cimpat, Tempanol, or Cavit. There are also temporary filling materials packaged for the consumer market that contain very small quantities (under brand names such as Dentek and Temparin), but the per-unit cost is relatively high. With those, you are mostly paying for the packaging. Nor do I recommend "do it yourself" extraction, except again in extremis. Without the support of a crown or bridge, the gap left by an extraction can cause a chain reaction, as other teeth shift, to compensate. This can lead to a series of complications.

Morning, Jim!
Just a quick addition for your readers to your recent note about potatoes gaining in popularity: most of their useful nutritional value is in their skin and outermost fractions of inches. I believe this is true of most root vegetables. Peeling these vegetables just renders them as a wad of starch or carbohydrate - much less useful for your body than the good Lord intended them to be. All they really need (especially if grown in a home garden where you know what went into the soil) is a quick rinse and a light scrub.

Ideally your order of produce procurement would be as follows:
- home garden or friends' gardens
- public market/farmer market
- grocery store (produce sits for days before it gets displayed!)
- big box store with produce department (yuck)
So, no, peeled, frozen, fried and salted french fries do not really count as your healthy serving of "vegetable." And if you really have some ingrained loathing of potato skins and must peel them, at least put the peels in a compost bin! - Carl H.


I enjoyed your novel ["Patriots"] immensely. The tenets of your philosophy of survivalism are well thought out and codified.

I believe we are missing the boat when we don't consider the better alternative of planting and/or storing potatoes as a survival basic food source, rather than wheat, or other grains. Potatoes grow easily virtually anywhere, produce abundantly, the plants are unobtrusive, and are not foraged by deer, among other things. After TEOTWAWKI, it would be a lot easier to plant and subsist on them rather than large gardens.- Jim F. in Oregon

There is a fairly heated discussion going on at the FALFiles Forums about how useful a shotgun is in a Schumer Hits The Fan (SHTF) situation. I was curious, what exactly is your take on the issue?

Personally, I do not feel a shotgun can effectively replace a rifle, however, it still proves an effective tool when the extreme-close situation arises.
I suppose one can distill this argument down to only "defensive purpose" shotguns such as those built for tactical situations (3" chambers and open/cylinder choke), those you aptly refer to as "riotguns". While the effectiveness of a shotgun for hunting small game is readily apparent, where exactly would a defensive shotgun come into play using either various types of buckshot or slugs?
In what circumstances would a shotgun be a superior choice to a battle or assault rifle? Examples?

I, as well as many, value your opinion on the matter. Best Regards, -- Kyrottimus

JWR Replies: While semi-auto battle rifles are more practical for most defensive shooting (most notably because of their capability at both short and long range), riot shotguns can definitely be effective at short range. In the dense North Woods, there is seldom any shooting beyond 50 yards, so they are adequate there. (Riotguns can be effective to 40 yards with buckshot and 90+ yards with slugs.) I also generally recommend riotguns for urbanites that live in cities or states with harsh restrictions on semi-auto rifles. In a city (again, range limited, by terrain) a repeating riotgun is generally more useful than a bolt action rifle, so if those are your only options, then go for a shotgun. But with all that said, assuming that you don't live in a liberal fantasyland like New Jersey, if you only have the money to buy one rifle (and the requisite training)., or one shotgun (and the requisite training), then buy a semi-auto battle rifle!

With the addition of a spare "bird" barrel, shotguns can also be useful for foraging, since they are the only effective means of wingshooting. (And the only legal method, in many countries.)

Also, police have found that shotguns firing slugs can be more effective and safer than a rifle, in the specialized task of removing a door from its hinges. Speaking of which, building "entry" is incredibly dangerous, and frankly I can't foresee the need of the average prepper to ever do so. But you never know. There was that one chapter of "Patriots"...

A couple of provisos:

Despite popular misconceptions popularized by Hollywood, shotguns must be aimed, much like a rifle. The bead sights that are installed on most shotgun barrels are insufficient. I recommend either buying a replacement barrel with rifle sights, or having these sights retrofitted.

Be sure to do some pattern tests at various distances with your shotgun, using full-power buckshot loads. (I generally prefer #4 buckshot--not to be confused with the much smaller and and much more common #4 birdshot, which is a standard load for duck hunting.) Even if you have a shotgun with a wide open "Cylinder bore" (no choke), you may be surprised how tightly it shoots, especially inside of 10 yards. Again, you can't just vaguely point, you have to aim. If you plan to shoot slugs, again do some tests and zero your gun's iron sights.

OBTW, I highly recommend the Four Day Tactical Shotgun course taught by Front Sight. This course builds skills, builds confidence, and dispels a lot of myths.

Lehman's just announced that they are having a special "Lost and Found" warehouse clearance sale, with prices reduced as much as 60% on a few items. Please click on the banner link for Lehman's at the top of our Affiliates Page, so that SurvivalBlog will get our little piece of the action. Thanks!


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From reader RBS: Expensive metals draw criminals to exhaust systems

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Some commentary from Adrian Ash: 40 Years Of Inflation, 80 Years Of Dow/Gold

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From The Daily Mail (by way of The Mental Militia Forums): The real Good Life: An entire village turns against supermarkets and grows its own food

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” - Commonplace Book by Thomas Jefferson borrowing from Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 Dei delitti e delle pene ("On Crimes and Punishments")

Saturday, April 19, 2008

In honor of Patriots Day (April 19th), I'm kicking in something extra to Front Sight's "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer: Anyone that enrolls between now and Sunday evening will also receive their choice of autographed copies of any of my three books: "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog." or my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". Just forward me your Front Sight order confirmation, along with your snail mail address, and I'll send you a complimentary autographed book.

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

In most industrialized countries, including the United States, rabbits are not commonly considered a meat animal. However, before a TEOTWAWKI situation arises, small retreats may seriously want to consider raising rabbits as a reliable source of meat to feed their family, to use as barter or charity.

Rabbits are fairly easy to raise which makes them especially adaptive for small retreats (to include urban areas) where limited space for other livestock - cows, hogs, goats, chickens, etc., are just not practical. In addition, many localities may not consider rabbits as live stock since they are often pets. Thus they may be permitted where other animals would not be. If you keep the area clean and the smell down, neighbors might not even know that you have them.

Picking your breed:
Before you purchase your rabbits (or any animal), learn as much as you can about keeping and raising them. Books, breeder magazines, and the internet have a wealth of information on every topic imaginable. So before you jump in, do your homework.

Once you decide to raise rabbits for meat, your most essential requirement is that you get good quality breeding stock, from a reputable breeder and not your local pet store. Purchase the best animals that you can afford, since the quality of future litters will depend upon the parents. I recommend either the Californian or the New Zealand White. Both types are by far the most popular meat rabbits, of a medium-weight (8-11 pounds), have high milk production, frequently procreate and have large litters.

Since rabbits are more suited for temperate or cool climates better than hot ones, those living in warmer climates will need to purchase stock already accustomed to such weather. Also, make sure that your stock rabbits you receive are clean, alert, bright-eyed, with dry ears and nose, and no sores on the feet.

How many to start with?
As with many things, when we get started, we often make mistakes. For those new to rabbits, the most common mistake is starting off with too many at once. A good rule of thumb might be one buck (male) and three does (females). Usually does are larger and can be distinguished by the presence of a dewlap, which is flap of fur below the chin that she pulls to cover her nest during pregnancy.
Rabbit prices can vary considerably depending on quality. A young rabbit could go for next to nothing (family just trying to get rid of a litter) to a few hundred dollars (high quality show rabbit) – do not worry because you want meat rabbits. Most of the time however, you will not find breeding age rabbits, especially for meat. It just does not pay for a breeder to feed a young rabbit to breeding age if he does not plan to use the rabbit for himself. If you do find breeding age meat rabbits, they may be inferior or too old for breeding. It is always best to start with newly weaned rabbits (eight weeks) and care for them for the four months or so, so that they can become acclimated to their new environment prior to breeding age (of six months). You should be able to find decent quality newly weaned rabbits for as little as $15.00 each.

As you become comfortable and more accustomed to the work/time required and what you just got into; should you then increase the size of your herd. Maybe another buck (or two as insurance if something should happen to one of them) and three more does, but no more than a one-to-five ratio.

Rabbits are very hardy and have few diseases. However, since most rabbit diseases cannot be cured, it is recommended that the diseased animal be disposed. Removal of one sick animal can also save your entire stock, since disease can spread quickly between the herd. Most rabbit diseases cannot be transmitted to humans. Remember, cleanliness is the single biggest contributor to your stocks health. Clean living space, quality feed and fresh water at all times go a long way.

Space & Housing:
Rabbits are also fairly easy to care for once you have established suitable housing. It can be something very basic (wire-mesh hutch), since cold is no real problem for rabbits. The hutch should however, provide protection from drafts, rain and intense heat. Each rabbit should also have its own hutch (or cage). This way if disease should hit an individual rabbit, it will not easily spread and potentially wipe out your entire herd. Individual cages can be placed in a garage, an empty shed or outdoors (these should be well protected from the weather). Space is often not a problem because cages can be stacked on one another. When comparing rabbits to larger meat animals (cattle, hogs, etc.,) rabbits are much more efficient users of space.

Hutches should be approximately two feet by three feet and at least 18 - 24 inches in height with one inch mesh for the sides (allowing for adequate ventilation) and half-inch mesh for the floors (so that droppings can fall through to the cleaning tray) without catching the rabbits’ feet. Mount cages at a convenient height that will make feeding, cleaning and maintenance easier for you. Clean and disinfect the trays on a regular basis; scrubbing and disinfecting the cages/trays between each litter.

If the hutches are outside, they should be placed in a partially shaded area. The rabbits should always be given their choice between shade and sunshine. If cages do not have shade, they will need to have a double roof in order to help keep the rabbits cool. In addition, canvas or plastic flaps can be added (to be unrolled) to cover the mesh when it rains. The does’ cage should also have space for a nesting box – one foot high by one foot deep and approximately twenty inches wide with a six inch high front panel to help keep newborns inside. The males’ cage should be located between the does’ cages. The Memsahib Adds: I encourage rabbit owners to build (or buy) all metal cages. Wood frames get urine-soaked and eventually become a health hazard. The only wood included should be a resting board (to prevent the rabbits from getting sore legs and feet, and those boards should be changed regularly. Also the Memsahib strongly disagrees with the statement that the rabbits should be in a partially shaded area. Rabbits are much more sensitive to heat than cold. We have always located our pens on the north side of the house in full shade. We have never lost a rabbit to cold, but people who have purchased our rabbits have lost rabbits to heat stroke mid-summer when they have not followed our advice. When the temperature climbs above 90 degrees, we wet down the entire rabbit area to provide cooling through evaporation. Some rabbit fanciers put a block of ice in each pen. Others have fans to cool down the hutches. But these last two methods will be useless, post-TEOTWAWKI.

Food & Water:
Specially prepared rabbit pellets provide the best diet for a breeding herd. Pellets are nutritious, inexpensive (our local feed store sells 50 pound bags for less then $12.50 each), store well and are easy to feed. Of the many different types of pellets, you should get those that are small in size, placing them in a hopper so as to avoid waste. Pellets can be supplemented with tender hay, fresh grass clippings, vegetable greens / roots, apples, apple branches, and weeds such as dandelions, which may be easily available. Just like us, rabbits also require salt. Therefore, you may want to provide your herd salt licks.

To supplement the rabbit’s diet while giving them a bit more exercise (to help maintain a healthy herd), place several rabbits in a movable wire pen (approximately four or five feet square) and placing the pen throughout your yard. As the rabbits eat the fresh grass and weeds to a comfortable height; move the cage to another location. The yard is quietly cut and the rabbits are fed with little effort at all.
As with any animal, clean fresh water is essential. Water bottles may be used when temperatures are above freezing (otherwise metal pans or crockery bowls may be used). Change the water on a daily basis. A doe and her litter may drink as much as one gallon of water per day.

[In the Memsahib's experience mature does are too territorial to be placed in such a confined area. This would work with littermates of the same sex before they reached sexual maturity. The rabbits should all be put in the pen at the same time.]

Mating & Birth:
Medium-weight rabbits such as the New Zealand White are ready to breed at about six months. Signs to look for in females are restlessness, attempts to join other rabbits, or a tendency to rub her head against the cage. Once a doe reaches maturity, it is fertile almost continuously. Place the female in the male’s cage; where mating should take place almost immediately. If it does not, bring the female back to her own cage and try again within a few days. Never bring the male to the female’s cage. She may see him as an intruder and attack him out of fear.
Approximately twelve days after mating, check for pregnancy by feeling the abdomen area just above the pelvis, trying to locate the small marble-shaped embryos. Make sure that you handle the doe gently and use only light pressure. If you feel nothing, check again in about a week; re-breed if necessary.

[Memsahib I think there is too much chance of injury palpitating the embryos. Though does can mate at any time, conception is improved by mating them when the does' vulva is swollen and dark. Careful observation will show this happens on a three day cycle. If the doe is not receptive to the buck, she likely will be the following day or the day after. Mating can take place in as little as 15 seconds. But usually the buck and doe will chase each other around the pen for a few minutes. If the doe grunts and stomps her hind feet place her back in her own pen immediately. Be careful that she does not bite. If the doe is receptive she will stop and slightly raise her haunches. If the buck is successful he will suddenly fall off the doe like he has been shot. Watch for this! It can happen very quickly. Return the doe to her own pen. Mating will stimulate ovulation so be certain to bring the doe back to the buck's pen for a repeat mating eight hours later. In this way you will maximize the size of the litter. Using this method I have never failed to get a doe bred.]

Birth ["kindling"] occurs within 30 days after conception, providing an average number of seven young (called “kits”) per litter, but can range from two to twelve. Since a doe can become pregnant, given the right conditions, by the simple act of mating; she can get pregnant soon after birth. For the animals safety however, it is recommended that each doe have no more then three or four litters per year. Make sure that you place the nesting box (with fresh hay to insure warmth) at least five days before the young are due. The doe will begin pulling fur from her dewlap to line and soften the nest as well.

Most likely, the litter will be born at night. Complications are rare when the doe is in good condition and not over feed. Make sure not to disturbed the new family for a day or two, so that the doe can calm. Then distract the doe with some tempting food so that you can look inside the box; removing any dead or deformed young. Be assured, the doe can take care of her young herself. Therefore, no hand-raising or special equipment, such as incubators or brooders will ever be needed.

Kits are born hairless with their eyes closed. Their fur will begin to grow in by day five or six, after ten to twelve days the kits' eyes will open. At the age of three weeks their mother will begin to wean them off milk (but will continue to nurse them until they are eight weeks), during this time, the kits will begin to eat hay and pellets becoming accustomed to the feed. Anytime thereafter, from eight to twelve weeks old, they will be ready for butchering, dressing out four to five pounds of meat each.

You may however also decide to keep a few of the new rabbits for more productivity or to replace a buck or doe that you might have lost. Although rabbits can live anywhere from seven to twelve years, having a few extra never hurts.

Slaughtering, skinning and butchering:
These are the tasks that no one really likes, but remember these animals are providing food for your family. Again, there are many resources describing the different methods employed and you are encouraged to read up on each. Each task however, is fairly simple and straight forward. A skilled person can take a rabbit from cage to fryer in under 30 minutes or less. Note: To facilitate butchering, do not feed the rabbit for at least twenty-four hours prior to slaughter. This will help to clear out the animal’s digestive system.

I will discuss one interesting method that was first given to me as instruction of survival during my training at the U.S. Army Ranger School. It will cause the animal the least amount of stress, it is considered quick, painless, and humane.
Begin by holding the rabbit in your arms, petting it to make sure that it is calm. After a few minutes, hold the animal by the hind legs with one hand, placing your thumb of the other hand on the neck just behind the ears and your fingers under the chin. Stretch the animal by pushing down with your thumb; then raise the animal’s head with a quick movement to dislocate the neck.

The next stage may sound strange but will assist you in skinning the carcass. The objective here is to quickly remove the animal’s pelt cleanly, neatly and with minimum damage to either the hide. Since skinning is a skill that requires experience; I will explain what I call the “pen method.” For this, make sure that you have your black US Government Skillcraft pen disassembled and on hand, as you will need it.

With your skinning knife, make your first incision small on one of the back legs just below the hock (insert the blade under the skin so that only the hide gets cut). Now take the pen placing the silver tip in the incision, between the hide and flesh. With the half-pen sticking out, blow hard into the opening. The forced in air will go between the hide and flesh separating the two, making the rabbit the size of a basketball. (This same method can also be used on chickens, producing a skinless bird, no plucking required).

Use your knife a second time to increase the first incision by cutting around the rest of the leg. Do the same thing on the other leg. A cut is then made along the inside of the back legs from one foot to the base of the tail; continue the incision to the other leg. The hide can now be easily removed by pulling it off like a sweater. There should be little resistance, however if there is any, use the knife to free the hide. The last step is to free the pelt by incising a circle around the neck. The pelt can also be saved to make clothes, used for barter or even charity.

Once the skinning is complete, remove the head so that the carcass can bleed out. Next remove the entrails. To do this, split the body open down the medium line of the belly near the anus to the sternum. Special care should be taken not to nick the gall bladder as this will taint the meat. The entrails are then removed; the kidney and liver can be saved. The sternum is then cut and the lungs, heart and trachea are removed (save the heart as well). Lastly, cut the pubic bone and remove the rectum.

Wash the carcass with cold water, giving it a thorough rinsing to remove stray fur and blood. Drop the carcass in a bucket of cold (ice) water for five minutes. Repeat with a second bucket; helping to further cool the meat. This will complete the bleeding process and making it easier to cut into pieces. Note: Do not leave the carcass in the bucket for more than fifteen minutes since it will absorb water.

Lastly, use your knife to divide the rabbit into serving pieces (usually seven to nine cuts – high in protein/ low in fat). Never use a cleaver so as to avoid leaving bone splinters. You can now bake, boil, fry, roast, salt or smoke your rabbit as you wish. Review your survival cooking library for delicious recipes, and enjoy.

Since rabbits are fairly inexpensive, have few diseases, multiply quickly and are easy to care for, it is recommended that small retreats with limited space consider raising them as a reliable source of meat. Not only will you be able to feed you family, but help others in need. Remember, as with any new skill, do not wait until a TEOTWAWKI situation arises as the time to learn something new. Good-luck and God Bless!

American Federation of New Zealand Rabbit Breeders
American Rabbit Breeders Association
Professional Rabbit Meat Association
Angier, Bradford. "One Acre and Security". Willow Creek Press, 2000

Dear Jim:
A suggestion for storing preparedness supplies while in college: Get a small self storage unit at a local self-store. I had one all through college, which made it much easier to move from apartment to apartment, as college students often do. It was very reasonably priced.

I made sure it was in a storage facility that actually locks and closes at night. The unit was on the north side of the building, so it did not get as hot as other units. Nowadays, many cities have indoor, climate controlled facilities that are even more secure.

The advantages are that your gear is all in one place, ready to go. I consider the facilities more secure than dwellings. They are certainly more anonymous than dwellings, as no one except who you tell will know anything about your personal business, and what is stored there. And as stated before, it makes moving much easier. - Mark R. in New Mexico



My comment on the college student who advises petroleum geologist as a post-TEOTWAWKI career and advises against anything to do with electricity. My advice would be the opposite. Anything to do with oil requires a huge infrastructure of refineries, financial institutions et cetera, while small hydro, wind and solar will still be going and still viable. The current production output dictates that there will be electric heaters, motors, computers etc available and anyone who can make or keep them operational will be in demand. I live in an area where almost all of the current production is hydro and because the plants are so old (50-90 years) they would still operating, especially small ones in out of the way places that are either not on the grid now or can be configured to run off the grid. - Karen L.


Hi -
Regarding Sam's recent comments to avoid any career involving a computer, I believe that to be unwise advice. As with any career choice, there are sub-specialties within a given field that can be very lucrative. I've been an I.T. security professional for over 15 years, and I can say firsthand that choosing anything to do with networks or better yet information assurance and security would be a very, very wise choice.

Demand for skilled, intelligent computer and network security professionals is at an all-time high, and is increasing steadily. Further, the quality of the people graduating and the quality of those who have been in I.T. for 3 years or more is steadily decreasing. This is creating a "perfect storm" of high demand and low supply which translates directly into increased income, basically allowing a skilled I.T. security pro to name their price. On my team alone we have had two openings that we cannot fill and we've been interviewing so-called candidates (I use the term loosely since these folks barely qualified at any level) for months.

Information security is an even better choice if, like Sam and many others, you subscribe to the long, slow decline theory rather than the cataclysmic event theory of preparedness. As society slowly disintegrates, the demand for information security pros by large corporations, governments and even well-to-do individuals will only increase. People and companies will always want to make money...think of the TV series "Jericho" to see what I mean.

The trick is to keep your skills and training up to date, and to keep yourself from getting locked into any one position or company (or even geographical location) for any length of time. Stay mobile...a "hired gun" or troubleshooter, for example. A solid information security pro can easily command a salary in the $100,000-$200,000 range even in the Midwest. With the right combination of certifications, experience, and skills, a good pro can make even more working for a large company or law firm on the coasts, in the South, or even overseas.

A frugal prepper working as an infosys security pro for 3-5 years or so could sock away a serious amount of money, more than enough to buy a sizable chunk of productive land outright and stock it with everything needed to go off the grid. The point is not to over-react to what you think will happen...leverage your skills to make as much income as possible while you can, live well below your means, and use the difference to launch and establish the lifestyle you really want.

Another group in the I.T. industry that is in high demand are the business continuity and disaster recovery specialists, as well as facilities management professionals. Again, as things get worse in our society, the demand for people who can help ensure business continuity (and business security) for a large corporation can make a very respectable salary. In my experience, companies like GE, Proctor&Gamble, Wal-Mart, pharmaceutical companies, et cetera will do everything they can to keep making money no matter what, even if it looks like the world is ending, and they will pay handsomely for people who can help them do it. - JT

"I, John Robbins, being of lawful Age, do Testifye and say, that on the Nineteenth Instant, the Company under the Command of Captain John Parker, being drawn up (sometime before sun Rise) on the Green or Common, and I being in the front Rank, there suddenly appear’d a Number of the Kings Troops, about a Thousand, as I thought, at the distance of about 60 or 70 yards from us Huzzaing, and on a quick pace towards us, with three Officers in their front on Horse Back, and on full Gallop towards us, the foremost of which cryed, throw down your Arms ye Villains, ye Rebels! upon which said Company Dispersing, the foremost of the three Officers order’d their Men, saying, fire, by God, fire! at which Moment we received a very heavy and close fire from them, at which Instant, being wounded, I fell, and several of our men were shot Dead by one volley. Captain Parker’s men, I believe, had not then fired a Gun." - Militiaman John Robbins’ sworn statement, 24 April 1775, regarding the events of April 19, 1775, in Lexington, Massachusetts

Friday, April 18, 2008

The following was forwarded by SurvivalBlog reader:

"I pledge, in honor of the late Charlton Heston, that if I receive any funds from the US Government's economic stimulus rebate program that I will spend the money on guns and ammo." (Pass it on.) The only thing that I'd add to that is firearms training.

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I am presently a sophomore at a small, private, liberal arts college, in the northeastern United States. First, I will start with the important criteria [for survivalists] in choosing a college (after the decision of a major and program you want to be in), which I followed in High School three years ago:
1. Do not choose a school in a heavily urbanized/suburbanized area.
2. Choose a school in a small city or town, ideally with less than 50,000 people and ample farming in the region. (places like Ithaca New York, Burlington Vermont, Amherst Massachusetts, and other small-city sized college towns, their population increases significantly when school is in session and should be avoided.)
3. Look over the area around the school. If it looks bad, it probably is.
4. Look at the local crime rate, economy, etc.
5. After the admissions tour, walk around the campus on your own with whoever you are touring with (Parent, Friend, etc.) and talk to students. The admissions department is excellent at making a college appear better than it actually is.
6. Drive around the city/town where the college is located and see how it feels.
7. If you are in a state like Utah, see what the school's policy is on weapons, do this by reviewing the handbook. Even if there is a weapons ban on campus, there are ways around this.
8. The school handbook, should also have information about crimes committed on campus. This is legally required under the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990. If the information is not found, it can be located online.
9. If the school is a public school, you probably have the same rights about searches by police and school officials as a regular citizen. [JWR Adds: Check the local and state laws,as well as the school's policies.] At many private schools your room can be fully searched at any time for any reason. In fact, I signed an agreement of full understanding and giving the school greater rights to search because I live on an "alcohol and tobacco free" floor.

Once one is at school, there are some things that can be done for the sake of preparedness. Sterilite or Rubbermaid plastic storage containers that are opaque and have lockable handles (such as these) can be used to store food, bug-out gear, etc. They blend in perfectly with college settings and do not stand out, I have one large container with my BOB, winter weight sleeping bag, hunting gear, food, and weather specific clothing. If I had to, I could carry it down seven fights of stairs to my SUV and be out of the city with 10 minutes warning. There are a few places that it can be stored. I keep the main storage bin in open sight, two other bins are on top of it and I use them as a table for my shower stuff. If I didn't have my bed bunked, I would have my bed up on cinder blocks and store them under the bed. No one will second guess storage containers in a college setting.

Weapons are banned from almost every college campus. A weapon is generally defined as anything that can be dangerous to another person or look dangerous. My school has banned: airsoft guns, BB guns, air rifles, paintball guns, all knives of any type, bows, crossbows, machetes, swords, guns, disassembled guns, guns that are incapable of firing ammunition, all replicas of any weapons. One way around this is fairly simple if you've got a car, just park your car on public property, such as street curbside. I have had friends that hunt leave their hunting rifles/shotguns, bows, etc. in their truck/car. In some states this is illegal, and even if not illegal, is very risky because a car cannot be secured. Disclaimer: This is extremely risky. Even if the gun is a locked in a bolted-down container, since the entire vehicle could be stolen. It might also be illegal in some states or localities. It would be better to live in an apartment off campus to circumvent any laws or policy restrictions about guns on campus entirely. However, some schools require that all students live on campus. Living on campus for a certain time period (freshman year) is required on many campuses.

One important thing is that one must have a plan to get home or to a more permanent location. College campuses will be less-self sufficient than even someone living in a condo in New York City. Dormitory dining halls bring in workers from the surrounding area to make the food for the college. If the Schumer Hits the Fan, these people will not come to work, and if they do it will be most likely to take food for themselves. Forget about growing food on the grounds of campus. It is naive to think that some else wouldn't steal it. It is prudent to live within half a tank of gas driving distance to home or a retreat location and have alternative routes. I live several hundred miles from home and must cross the Hudson River, Connecticut River, and many other choke points that will be filled with the Golden Horde and/or are in urban areas because of the interstate highway system. I have planned accordingly, and have extended family members who own a farm that live within 50 miles. I can walk there if I must, but there are numerous alternate routes that I have scouted.

Having a car at college is very important if one's finances allow for it. I am fortunate enough to have a father who provides a car and fully maintains it. I'm not going to go into much depth about a car, because that is a subject in itself for another article. Basically, an SUV is preferable because it allows for being comfortable when driving places with friends, carrying more stuff for moving into and out of school every year, and it is generally a good BOV compared to passenger cars. They also blend in with other vehicles in most parts of the country. If you've got control over the type (all this is from my experience), try to avoid any luxury brand SUV, it rubs people the wrong way to see a late teen/early 20something driving a car that was clearly expensive, agitates the population around the school, gives people the wrong judgment of you as a person, stands out to people that you want to ignore you, and will stand out like a sore thumb when moving to the retreat location.

Socially at college, avoid drinking alcohol. Many drink in their freshman year, but over time those who continue drinking will prove them to be morally bankrupt individuals, and just because "everyone does it", it does not make it right. It is a colossal waste of money, and time. It is not Christian (if that is how you are inclined), and can lead to leaks of information. Alcohol just leads to terrible decisions, such as compromising OPSEC, and should be avoided. I no longer drink at all, mainly for religious reasons, but also common sense reasons. It is unhealthy and a waste of time.

Keeping religion in the picture at college is also important. I go to a secular school, but continue to maintain Christian lifestyle, more so now than any time before in my life, being exposed to social liberalism and people who lack morals tends to make one realize how lucky they are and to offer prayer for those who have not come to Christ. Religiously affiliated colleges in the northeast tend to be just as socially liberal as secular schools. In my experience, being at school has made me more religious.

Additionally, in regards to friends at college, it is important, at least in my experience, to be living in a [dormitory] building that has a reputation of being academic in nature. I made most of my friends this way, getting along with your roommate is very important. Going to school at a small campus is very cliquish, so one may find it to be easier to find quieter/like minded students on a small campus. One mention about cliques is that drama will probably develop. Ignore it. I am the middleman in half a dozen instances of drama between my various groups of friends. It is petty. Just try to make people understand that there are more important things in life.

If your school offers Army ROTC courses, enroll in the courses for the minimum of two years that do not require a commitment. Sophomores are now being taught the combat life saver course and given other types of training. A career in the military is a viable alternative, they will pay for tuition, and give out monthly stipends, and issue participants gear on loan. I was enrolled in ROTC for one year, and highly recommend it. am planning on joining Army or Air Force ROTC wherever I go to graduate school and serving in the reserves. [JWR Adds: In my experience, the ROTC Basic Camp, which is available without any contractual obligation, is much more valuable for learning "hands-on" survival skills than the ROTC classroom instruction, which emphasizes theory and military history.]

Try to spend as little money off of your meal card as possible. At the end of every semester spend the surplus down on items the school sells at the store. I have been able to buy about a week's worth of food this way each semester. It just keeps piling up at home, obviously, buy food that is energy dense and that has a long shelf life.

Work hard, academically. I slacked during my freshman year and could have really boosted my grade point average. The early classes are always easier than the upper level classes and now I am finding myself working twice as hard to make up for the mistake. For the record, I am writing this while I am on break, otherwise I would not have had enough time.

Choosing a major [course of study] is important depending on one's planned [scenario for] survival. I'm more of a slow-decline Peak Oil, dollar collapse (leading to a further collapse) and general preparedness believer, so I decided on a major accordingly. It is possible to have a major that will give one a career, post-TEOTWAWKI. To name a new professions that will still be around (depending on the severity of the crash) are doctors, writers, dentists, some engineers, merchants, and store owners. Being a petroleum geologist could be very lucrative in a slow-decline peak oil situation. The more specialized a major is, the less career opportunities will be available. Don't major in anything requiring a computer or electricity, such as electrical engineering, Management Information Systems (MIS), [or fields such as] biology, foreign relations, marketing, history, English, et cetera.

JWR Adds: I guess that things have changed since I was in college in the early 1980s. There was a "no guns on campus" policy, but it was largely ignored. My dorm room often resembled a Peshawar workshop. It was where my shooting buddies would congregate for gun cleaning and for gun assembly. I lost count of the number of M1911s and AR-15s that we parted together in that room. We even had a miniature Unimat lathe in the dorm room for one semester. (It was a Unimat DB200, if I remember correctly.)

JWR's Introductory Note: FerFAL is SurvivalBlog's volunteer correspondent in Argentina. If you haven't done so already, be sure to read his Profile. Readers might also be interested in FerFAL's blog: Surviving in Argentina.

I just got off the phone, after talking with a college friend of mine. We talked about the current situation our country is going through, the food shortages and empty shelves, and how long things will hold on until people get desperate.
As an afterthought she mentioned that some robbers attacked her father and his girlfriend (divorced) while they watched over her recently married sister’s home, while she was on her honeymoon.
I always try to learn as much detail as I can from these situations.
As is currently typical, three armed men intercepted the couple when they arrived to the sister’s house, when they were getting out of the car.
Then, three more guys showed up, each driving a car!
They tied them up, loaded the cars full of the newly-wedded couple’s gifts, everything they had was soon fitted into the cars.
After that, one of the bad guys cut the cable off an appliance, stripped the end of the cable, and threatened to torture them with electric shocks.
There was also some money in the house--about $1,000--and fortunately they didn’t fulfill the threat.

A few thoughts that come to mind:
1) Criminals always seem to attack when entering or exiting your house. Those are the moments when you should be extra careful.
2) Be discreet about what you have. Three cars? They knew about the wedding, the gifts, the new house, etc.
3) Once you are tied up in a chair, there’s no use in wishing you had done something before. If they end up raping or killing your entire family, you can't go back in time, buy a gun, learn how to use it, and defend yourself and your loved ones. It’s too late.
4) Some people just don’t get it, even when the truth is smeared all over their faces.
Right after telling me this, my friend told me that the best thing to do is surrender, cooperate with the criminals and hope for the best.
She told me that she was worried about me because she knew that I was armed and had the will to shoot if necessary.
I expressed my concerns about the opposite being true regarding her.
5) Three armed guys and three more nearby? Do I really want a six-shot revolver, or even worse, a five-shot one?

The reality around you dictates the kind of weapon you need, and even then... guns are meant to be comforting, not comfortable. That’s one of the few gun maxims I like. - FerFAL

I would first like to wish the Jewish readers of SurvivalBlog a happy and kosher passover. And after that I also want to remind everyone that Saturday night is the start of Passover. Why is this
important? It means that even in many small towns big packages of matzoh will be available often at a closeout price after the seder night. Matzoh (an unleavened flour cracker) is a good ready to eat food that lasts for several years in the sealed box. If you wonder what good wheat flour crackers are just look online for the recipes we have come up with over the millennia. Next year in Jerusalem! - David in Israel

Regarding a recent item in your blog about robotic parking facilities: These modern "conveniences" can be shut down by more than just a power outage. Here's a link to a news storey about a robotic parking facility in Hoboken, New Jersey which was effectively shut down for about a week during a contract dispute between the city and the software company. To make a long story short: The city owned the facility, while the company owned the rights to the software which ran it. When the city opted not to renew their contract with the company, the parking robot suddenly stopped functioning. Cheers, - B-Boy


Your warning comes a little too late. According to an AutoBlog article, they're in place in many of our big cities, including San Francisco, Seattle et cetera. - Eric S.

Subprime defaults put the FHA in the poorhouse. Look for further growth in the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB).

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Risk of Nuclear Attack on U.S. Rises

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Mike in Illinois suggested these two articles from New Scientist: Why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable and Will a pandemic bring down civilisation?

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The WRSA has a Basic Rifle Marksmanship Course scheduled for April 26-27 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. OBTW, the WRSA is kindly donating paid admissions to any WRSA shooting event for just the first two people that respond and pledge to become SurvivalBlog 10 Cent Challenge subscribers, or that pledge to renew their existing subscription for another year. These "SurvivalBlog scholarships" are valued at $150 each, or it can be used to drop the price of a group admission per the WRSA's "25% off your total, buddy system" pricing. Example: 1 SurvivalBlog scholarship + $75 more gets two people admitted, or 1 SurvivalBlog scholarship + $187.50 gets three admitted. E-mail the WRSA for details.

“Freedom is not a gift from heaven. It has to be fought for every day.” - Simon Wiesenthal

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

You may remember B.H. as one of the first winners of the SurvivalBlog writing contest, in late 2005.

Safe food handling is critical for a healthy life in both good and bad times. As a former restaurant manager, I can tell you food safety or customer safety was priority number one. It’s hard to make money when you’ve killed your customers, which is the alternative to safe food handling. Death or severe illness is the unforgiving consequence to food borne illness. Food borne illnesses doesn’t just happen in restaurants it happens everywhere food is handled and prepared whether it’s during decadent affluence or full scale TEOTWAWKI.

Please don’t confuse food poisoning with food borne illnesses. Chemicals, bacteria, or certain foods like wild poisonous mushrooms and berries cause food poisoning. Germs that grow in food or in our bodies cause food borne infections. Symptoms of food borne infections include headache, fever, stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can start showing in just a few hours or take several weeks to appear. The CDC estimates that every year 76 million Americans get sick and nearly 5,000 die each year from food borne illnesses.
Some groups of people are more susceptible to food borne illness. Health professionals recognize the following groups:

Younger than 5 years old
Older than 65 years old
Immune-compromised (due to AIDS, cancer, diabetes, certain medications, or other conditions) These "at risk: groups are described with the acronym YOPI.

These groups are highly susceptible and usually get sick more often or have more severe symptoms. Also some foods are more likely to cause food borne illness in YOPI. These foods include the following:
Unpasteurized milk or juices
Raw sprouts
Undercooked eggs
Raw oysters
Undercooked meats

Facilities that cater to YOPI such as nursing homes, hospitals, child-care centers, and adult care homes have additional food safety requirements. If you are thinking of producing foods products for sale or take care of others during hard times, then additional research in warranted for consumer safety. Right now it is illegal to sell unpasteurized dairy products but I’ve heard of some families buying fresh milk as “pig feed” for consumption. Another case of ingenuity over the nanny state.

Hazards In Food
The obvious goal of food safety is to prevent the hazards that cause food borne illness or injury. Most of the hazards in foods are things you cannot taste, see or even smell. Injury or illness can be caused by three types of food borne hazards in food and drink. They are:
Physical Hard or soft objects like glass or fingernails
Chemical Naturally occurring or added substances like cleaning agents
Biological Germs like parasites, viruses and bacteria
Physical hazards occur because of unsafe food handling practices or contamination. Physical contamination can be prevented by:

Looking closely at the foods you prepare
Washing fruits and vegetables carefully
Keeping your food prep area clear of things that can fall into the food

Chemical hazards like soaps, cleaners, sanitizers and pesticides must be stored away from food, food prep areas and utensils. If you must store chemicals in the kitchen area put them on the lowest shelf below food or food contact surfaces so nothing can drip onto food. All chemical containers should be marked and labeled.
Never use a container as a food or beverage storage container if it previously was used to store chemicals. Sometimes it helps to say the obvious.

How to avoid chemical contamination:
Store all chemicals below food and prep areas
Label all chemical containers
Use only food grade approved containers to store food
Don’t use galvanized containers, since zinc coatings can be harmful.
Make sure all your food is covered and protected when cleaning

Biological contamination is the world of germs like bacteria, parasites and viruses.
Parasites Tiny worms that live in Pork, Fish and meats that can be killed if frozen or cooked to the right temperatures. Parasites are also found I contaminated water.
Safety measures for parasites:
Cook all meat, pork and fish to proper temps
Filter or treat water before consuming or cooking
Eat sushi at your own risk
Viruses Viruses are very common-like the common cold, chicken pox or influenza and freezing don’t destroy them. The disgusting thing is that these viruses are usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route when a food handler doesn’t wash their hands correctly or at all. Hepatitis A and the Novovirus are two common viruses transmitted in this fashion.

Safety measures for viruses:
Don’t handle or prep when you have diarrhea, fever or have been vomiting
Wash your hands twice after using the toilet. Once I the bathroom and again in the food prep area. Hand washing should be hot water, soap and long enough to sing “Happy Birthday”
Use disposable gloves or utensils whenever possible-especially ready-to-eat foods

The ever present big-bad bacteria. This is the most predominant of food borne illnesses. Unlike viruses, bacteria can actually grow in foods and cause food to spoil or cause food borne illness. It is critical to focus on time, temperature and cleanliness when preparing food. Even though bacteria are everywhere they tend to prosper in certain foods. These foods are called Potentially Hazardous Foods.

Potentially Hazardous Foods
Animal Products
Meat, fish, poultry, seafood and eggs
Dairy products
Cooked Starches
Cooked Rice, beans, pasta and potatoes
Fruits and Vegetables
Cooked Vegetables
Cut melons
Sprouts (bean and alfalfa sprouts)
Garlic and Herbs bottled in oil

Safety measures for protection from bacteria:
Keep potentially hazardous foods out of the danger zone (41-140 degrees F)
Don’t work with food when you are ill (diarrhea, vomiting or fever)
Wash hands twice after using the restroom
Wash, rinse and sanitize all utensils used for food prep
Use gloves and utensils when working with ready-to-eat foods

Food Safety Rules
Rule 1: Food handlers must have good personal hygiene
Rule 2: Food must be cooked and held at correct temperatures
Rule 3: Prevent cross-contamination when preparing and storing food

Rule 1: Food handlers must have good personal hygiene from hand washing to keeping fingernails trimmed for cleanliness. The most likely time for contamination is the following:
After using the restroom
After handling garbage or dirty dishes
After handling raw meat, fish or poultry
After eating or smoking
After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
After handling animals or using chemicals
Note: Using hand sanitizer is not an acceptable substitute for hand washing.

Rule 2: Food must be cooked and held at correct temperatures that avoid the danger zone of 40-140 degrees F. Every kitchen should have two or more metal stem thermometers and you should know how to use it and calibrate it. Food that sits in the danger zone quickly produces harmful levels of bacteria and toxins that can make you sick.
Potentially hazardous food may be at room temperature for up to 2 Hours while you are preparing it. The basic procedure is to keep cold food cold and hot food hot while in the preparation stage.
Note: If food has been left out at room temp or you don’t know long it’s been in the danger zone—Throw it out!! When it doubt—Throw it out!!
Thermometers are an essential tool for every kitchen just like a stove or oven. There are two types of thermometers:
Metal Stem Thermometer Metal stem with dial face-can be calibrated and must stay in food for 20 seconds to get accurate reading.
Digital Thermometer Very accurate especially for thin meats like hamburger patties. Downside:: it is an electronic device.

Using a thermometer:
Calibrate by setting into glass of water with crushed ice-should read 32 degrees. If it doesn’t, then adjust nut underneath until needle hits 32
Make sure the stem is clean and sanitized before and after each use
Always take reading at the thickest part of the food which is usually in the center
Hold stem for several seconds until reading holds steady

The best way to kill germs is to cook food to the right temperature in the right amount of time. Cooking temps depend on the type of food, prep procedures and cooking time.
Cooking with a microwave deserves a special warning. Microwaves cook food unevenly so if you cook raw animal products you must cook to 165 degrees, keep it most and covered and stir it at least once to make sure all of it hits 165 degrees. This applies to re-heating food also.

Hot Holding food (140 degrees F or hotter) is the holding hot food at service temperature for extended periods of time. Cooking doesn’t kill all bacteria so cooked potentially hazardous food must be kept hot until served. If the temp falls into the danger zone bacteria can begin to multiply, thus quickly contaminating the food. Anything used to hold food at 140 degrees or higher must be warmed up to temp prior to putting food into it.

Tips for keeping hot food hot:
Never mix cold foods with cooked foods
Cover pans
Stir food often to distribute the heat
Reheating food that is cooked and properly cooled can be re-heated to any temp if served and eating immediately. Cold food that will be hot held needs to be reheated to 165 degrees in under two hours or more quickly.

Cooking Temperatures
Foods that need to be cooked to 165 degrees F (for 15 seconds):
Poultry-Chicken, Turkey, Waterfowl, all game birds
Stuffed foods and stuffing
All raw animal products cooked in a microwave
All reheated potentially hazardous foods
Foods that need to be cooked to 155 degrees F (for 15 seconds):
All ground meats
Foods that need to be cooked to 145 degrees F (for 15 seconds):
Foods that need to be cooked to 140 degrees F (for 15 seconds):
Packaged ready-to-eat foods (canned chili/hot dogs) heated for hot holding
Vegetables that will be hot held
Beef and Pork roasts require additional cooking requirements-specifically making sure internal temp of pork reaches 150 degrees F. Cooling Foods

Keeping cold foods cold is the key to food safety at the lower end of the temp spectrum. Again the danger zone is 40 degrees to 140 degrees F. Cold food must be kept at 41 degrees F or colder. If using ice make sure the ice surrounds the food to the top level of the food. Cold salads made from food at room temp must be lowered to 41 degrees F or lower within 4 hours. Try pre-chilling all ingredients before making cold salads to expedite the process.

Thawing foods need special care to prevent bacteria from growing on the outside of food while the inside remains frozen. Here are three methods for thawing:
Submerge food under cold running water-70 degrees or colder until thawed
Put frozen foods into the refrigerator for the safest method---bottom shelf
Thaw during cooking process or in the microwave—small portions only

Cooling foods is the riskiest step in food preparation because bacteria grows very quickly in cooling food. The goal is to get the food cooled through the danger zone as quickly as possible. It’s also important to take cooling seriously since certain bacteria produce poisons that won’t be destroyed during reheating.

The following three cooling methods are approved in Washington State and are very similar to requirements in corporate restaurant chains nationwide. (My experience was with Brinker International-Chili’s Grill & Bar in Washington & Alabama--great standards!)

Three Methods for cooling:
1. Shallow Pan Method (food no deeper than 2 inches)
2. Size reduction (cutting solid foods into smaller pieces)
3. Time and Temperature monitored (forcing food to cool in short amount of time)

Cooling Method 1: Shallow Pan is basically taking large quantities of food and dividing it into several smaller and shallow pans for cooling. Works best for chili, rice, refried beans, potatoes, casseroles, ground meat and meatloaf.
Steps for shallow pan method:
1. Put hot food into shallow pans no more than 2 inches deep
2. Put pans onto top shelf of refrigerator to cool and keep food from dripping into it
3. Make sure air can move around pans so don’t stack or cover
4. Only cover food when temp reaches 41 degrees F or less

Cooling Method 2: Size reduction is simply cutting large pieces into smaller pieces for
Cooling. This method works best for large whole food like roasts, turkey or ham. Not recommended for ground meats.
Steps for size reduction method:
1. Cut large meat into chunks no larger than 4 inches
2. Put onto tray for cooling. No pieces should be touching
3. Put pans onto top shelf of refrigerator to cool and keep food from dripping into it
4. Make sure air can move around pans so don’t stack or cover
5. Only cover food when temp reaches 41 degrees F or less

Cooling Method 3: Time and Temperature Monitored is a 2 step process that must be closely watched or not used.
Step 1: Food must cool down from 140 degrees F to 70 degrees F in 2 hours.
Step 2: Food must finish cooling to 41 degrees F or less within 6 hours.
For example: The ice bath method is very suitable for sauces, gravy and soups. Just drop hot pot of food into ice water bath right below the edge of the pot. Stir often to facilitate the cooling throughout the food. You will need to keep adding ice as it cools and melts ice in the water. Make sure it cools down to 70 degrees F in 2 hours and under 41 degrees F within 6 hours. Cover and put in the fridge once it cools.

Preventing Cross Contamination
Cross Contamination is the spread of bacteria from raw meat onto other foods. The main source of cross contamination is when blood or juice from raw meat gets onto the surfaces of utensils, cutting boards, countertop and hands and then gets onto ready to eat foods.
The obvious: Keep raw meat away from other food.

Tips to avoid cross contamination:
Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils that contact raw meat
Wash hands after touching raw meat
Prep raw meat away from other foods
Designate a separate cutting board just for raw meat
Store raw meat below all other foods in fridge and freezer
Store meats with higher cooking temp below meats with lower cooking temp
(Raw chicken juice on fish doesn’t get killed at 145 degrees F)

Wash Cycle is a four-step process to practice when cleaning and sanitizing. The 4 steps are as follows:
1. Wash Hot Water and soap to remove food particles.
2. Rinse Clean and hot
3. Sanitize soak dishes in warm water with measured amount of sanitizer
4. Air Dry Dishcloths can contaminate clean dishes.
Some folks refer to this as the 3-sink system with dish rack as step four.
Sanitizer: 1 teaspoon unscented chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of cool water
This concludes the formal food borne illness information that you can basically receive from any County Health Department. Health departments hold two-hour classes for less than $20 to review and test over this information. Those who pass receive a food handler’s permit and you receive all this info in a handy booklet, which you should keep with your cookbooks. I think the class is worth every penny just on the cool horror stories they tell from doing restaurant inspections. It will raise the hair on your neck. Yuck!

Application in Preparedness
Home is where the application of this information is vital. Putting these standards into practice is very easy. Even if you have a single sink in the kitchen you can meet these standards. My brother and I insist on a three-sink system when at hunting camp after everyone got the runs from soap residue on the utensils.
An easy three-sink bug out system looks like this:

Three plastic dish tubs from Wal-Mart ($3)
Folding camp dish rack ($3)
Small Bottle of bleach and dish soap ($3)
Scrub sponge, wash cloth and dish towel ($3)

Put all items into the first tub and stack onto other two tubs. Everything should sit inside tubs and then inside plastic bag for easy grab and carry.
I’ve taken it a step further and I have a Rubbermaid bin with all kitchen items for camp kitchen. Tubs with all items above inside and next to them are several small Rubbermaid bins. One with silverware, one with spices, one with knives, one with serving and cooking utensils and even one with small cookbooks inside. Underneath all that is flat pan, frying pan and Dutch oven. I have to keep a separate large bin for rest of Dutch oven cookware for weight distribution and 2nd priority pile for rapid relocate.

In a less than decadent world we will be preparing a lot more of our food and game. Game processing should be staged for safety also. Gut and field dress away from anything else, making sure not to perforate intestines and soil meat. Keep a bucket of sanitizer when butchering and stage process to separate cutting from rinsing and wrapping.

I try to thaw meat while it’s in a pan marinating—"two birds with one stone". Saltiness of the marinade with cold temps almost assures of zero bacterial growth while thawing.
Hunting camp can be a perilous place when guys who never do more than fire up the grill start preparing meals for several days. I’ve learned to avoid the perils of “Montezuma’s Revenge” by preparing all the meals at home first. Pre-cooking and storing in Ziploc bags makes camp cooking easy. Pasta cooked and bagged, chili opened and bagged, all veggies and fruit diced, cut and bagged. To heat up food just heat up water. For example:

Take steaks or meat out of package and put into large Ziploc with marinade for one day then freeze flat. Replaces same amount of ice and is ready to cook on day 3 or 4 when thawed.
Freeze cooked pasta with marinara and meatballs. Day 2 meal just drop bag into boiling water and dinner is ready.
Cooking in Ziploc bags means no dishes to clean except utensils and hot water is already to go. Assuming your using mostly paper plates.
Pre-cutting and bagging vegetables means less time cooking and more time with Cousin George Dickel and family hunting lies around the fire. Dump cut veggies, venison, 2 cups wine, 2 cups water and 2 packs of stew seasoning into Dutch oven and three hours later dinner is done.

All of these ideas save time, energy and avoid food borne illness. You should plan on cooking your food to well done to avoid possible danger during a true survival situation. Diarrhea in the field can be as deadly as "Mutant Zombies" or a well-intentioned bureaucrat.

In closing, I highly recommend sitting through a county health department class on food borne illness. Two hours on a weeknight could save your life or someone else’s. I hope this helps keep you and your families safer. I’ll get back to you when I figure out how to make nachos over the campfire. Straight Ahead! - B.H. in Western Washington (soon to be in north Idaho)

Mr. Editor,

First, [E.I.D. presented] lots of good hints. I like the idea of getting good trail bikes and using them regularly to keep them and your self in shape. But I have long though the best comprise for distance, energy cost, and speed is a four cycle “road/trail” motor cycle. I emphasize four cycle so you don’t have to go looking for two cycle oil. Most get well over 200 MPG and have 2 gallon or larger tanks. That is a long ways. Most of the moped type things he suggests are two cycle engines. Not a good thing. I like the Honda 250 [cc] to 350 [cc]bikes because of reliability and high sales volume means easy parts availability, new or wrecks. Fill the tires with “Slime” for flat protection. If you have family members that have trouble with getting started with a clutch type vehicle, change the rear sprocket for a lower gear. It will limit top speed, but we are after distance not running races. You should rarely go over 30 MPH. [JWR Adds: Another important tradeoff is engine noise. The larger the displacement, the more noise. Some might prefer a smaller, quieter two cycle engine.]

The suggestion about the little 12 volt [vibro] tire compressors is useless in this day of tubeless tires. Once the bead seal is broken, they will not inflate a tire unless you were a forward thinker and put tubes in your tires. ( Assuming you can even find tubes these days.)

For a gas siphon hose, go to your local sports store and get a 5/8ths-inch outboard motor hose. The one that goes from a 6 gallon carry on tank and the motor. It will come with a “primer bulb” that has the one way valve in it to make starting the siphon easy. This will keep the gas out of your mouth, and that is a good thing!

Magnetic key holders are largely a thing of the past in this day of plastic cars. There is no easily reached ferrous metal to stick them to, even assuming you could find one in a store to buy. Plastic wire ties work better and give you more flexibility as to hiding places. (Don’t use the trailer hitch [channel] on the back of your SUV or inside the gas filler door. Those are the first two places anybody will look.)

Be very careful [about transmitting] on CB or any other kind of unsecured radio. The bad guys have them too. - Keith S.


Just a few notes in regards to E.I.D.’s article on bug out transportation, particularly the section about using bicycles. I totally agree that an automobile is preferable. But if a bike is used as a backup or your only means of transport, then I have some advice from my bicycle commuting and touring days.

Riding efficiency is not the top priority. You want reliability and resistance to failure. Road tires and tubes are thin to reduce weight and increase speed for the given effort. Just commuting to work on paved roads I found I was getting flats every week from broken glass, metal debris, and even a carpet of acorn shells in the autumn. I switched my road bike tires to slightly wider and thicker semi-knobby tread, and used a thorn resistant inner tube. No flats since then. A mountain bike is even better and will have even thicker and wider tires to carry heavier loads and absorb shocks of uneven ground. Potholes and sewer grates can bend or break a tire rim in an instant of inattention, but the bigger mountain tires are much more resistant to those dangers. Even with mountain bike tires you still want the extra thick thorn, or puncture, resistant tubes.

The tube patch kit should be one you have used successfully before. Some are easier than others and seal better than others. Better yet is a spare inner tube. I used to carry just a patch kit, but after trying to patch tubes in the pouring rain or snowy slush, or even 98F burning sun, I decided it was worth the weight and bulk to carry a spare tube as well. You may want the thinner regular tube as a compact spare since the puncture resistant tubes are fairly bulky.

As far as a toolkit you don’t want anything bulky or excessive in weight, but you want enough to handle tire changes, loose nuts, and brake adjustments. Most bike shops will sell a variety of bicycle multi-tools with screw driver heads, hex wrenches, etc. In addition you want an adjustable wrench (“Crescent” or similar) for all the little nuts and bolts. I like a 6” as a minimum but usually carry and 8” wrench. You also want to carry a couple of the special thin open end wrenches specific to bicycles that fit on the hub adjusting nuts, these are usually about 14mm - 16mm. You need two, one for each side of a hub. You may want a small needle nose or electrical pliers for cutting and pulling or holding onto brake and shifter cables. A regular pliers/multi-tool is fine if you have one. You also want two of the small tire irons for lifting the tire bead off the rim to change the tire without poking holes in the inner tube. Lastly, you need to have a small spoke wrench. Then you probably want some plastic electrical tape and plastic zip ties, too. A small bicycle repair manual would be good for long distance trekking.

When I was in high school many years ago I road my bicycle across the state of Washington for the DOT one summer. I rode many east-west and north-south highway routes. The major equipment failure I had was that at every mountain pass was breaking a few spokes. Long uphill climbs of 20 – 25 miles puts enormous strain on the bike hubs and spokes. They never broke going uphill for 12 hours. But it was just after cresting the pass and starting downhill my spokes would start to go sproing! You are dead in the water with a just few broken spokes. I would carry a half dozen or so, as they are so light weight. [JWR Adds: I've found that taping 4 to 6 spare spokes directly bike frame is a good way to keep spares handy, and protecting them from getting bent, as they often do if stored in panniers.] For a long trip you might want an extra set of brake pads, an extra brake and derailer cable, and maybe even extra hub bearings, chain oil and hub grease.

When preparing for your planned bug out trip on bicycle, imagine the worst possible conditions. You could be traveling in pouring rain, some snow, or searing sun. Will you be traversing mostly level or rolling hill terrain? Or over a mountain pass? Forest Service roads can be very dusty and the gravel can be near impossible for road tires. Even paved roads may have a lot of debris or require cross country detours in an emergency situation. Plus, you are very likely to take at least one or more nasty spills trying to avoid a vehicle or while encountering treacherous terrain.

Do you have a wrench to be able to re-adjust the handle bars? Do your hubs have quick-release handles on them for easy removal? Do you have any sort of pedal clamps or other means to secure your shoes and feet to the pedal? You probably don’t want specialized biking shoes and pedals that interlock, but I found the U-shaped metal shoe clamp with leather straps allows me to have them loose enough to easily slip my shoe in and out of them for maneuvering, but still hold my shoe securely enough to get good pull as well as push effort, so that both legs work together on each half of the pedal revolution.

I wouldn’t want to have to use a bicycle to bug out since you are open to attack, your hands are kept occupied, you go relatively slow and cannot carry much weight. But if you end up needing to use a bike then a few simple tools and choice spare parts can make the difference between being stranded halfway or only having a short delay. You need those tools for ongoing maintenance anyway, so you might as well have the small essential tools with you at all times. I fit my entire tool and parts kit into one of those small under-the-seat-pouches you can get at bike shops. - JB in Oregon

SJC flagged this article: Wholesale prices soared in March. On a related note: I'm sure that you've noticed the recent spike in oil to an all-time high. The current retail food prices are based on roughly $80 per barrel oil. Part of food prices includes tractor time, fertilizer (which are primarily petrochemical, these days) and shipping costs. When you factor in $114 oil, further jumps in food prices seem inevitable. I hope that you've already stocked up. Ditto for filling your fuel storage tanks.

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James mention that this Wall Street Journal editorial is worth reading: Dollar Alarm

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"Carson" suggested this article from Slate: Here Comes the Next Mortgage Crisis

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Honey Bee Collapse Now Worse on West Coast

"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?" - William J. Bennett, lecture to the United States Naval Academy, November 24, 1997

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Congrats to Mark T., the high bidder in the auction that ended yesterday. Today we are starting a new auction. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, an autographed copy of "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog.", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

In the past week I've had three newcomers to SurvivalBlog.com write and ask me to summarize my world view. One of them asked: "I could spend days looking through [the] archives of your [many months of] blog posts. But there are hundreds of them. Can you tell me where you stand, in just a page? What distinguishes the "Rawlesian" philosophy from other [schools of] survivalist thought?"

I'll likely add a few items to this list as time goes on, but here is a general summary of my precepts:

Modern Society is Increasingly Complex, Interdependent, and Fragile. With each passing year, technology progresses and chains of interdependency lengthen. In the past 30 years, chains of retail supply have grown longer and longer. The food on your supermarket shelf does not come from local farmers. It often comes from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This has created an alarming vulnerability to disruption. Simultaneously, global population is still increasing in a near geometrical progression. At some point that must end, most likely with a sudden and sharp drop in population. The lynchpin is the grid. Without functioning power grids, modern industrial societies will collapse within weeks.

Civilization is Just a Thin Veneer. In the absence of law an order, men quickly revert to savagery. As was illustrated by the rioting and looting that accompanied disasters in the past three decades, the transition from tranquility to absolute barbarism can occur overnight. People expect tomorrow to be just like today, and they act accordingly. But then comes a unpredictable disaster that catches the vast majority unprepared. The average American family has four days worth of food on hand. When that food is gone, we'll soon see the thin veneer stripped away.

People Run in Herds and Packs, but Both Follow Natural Lines of Drift. Most people are sheep ("sheeple"). A few are wolves that prey on others. But just a few of us are more like sheepdogs--we think independently, and instead of predation, we are geared toward protecting and helping others. People naturally follow natural lines of drift--the path of least resistance. When the Schumer hits the fan, 99% of urbanites will try to leave the cities on freeways. The highways and freeways will soon resemble parking lots. This means that you need to be prepared to both get out of town ahead of the rush and to use lightly-traveled back roads. Plan, study and practice.

Lightly Populated Areas are Safer than High Density Areas. With a few exceptions, less population means fewer problems. WTSHTF, there will be a mass exodus from the cities. Think of it as an army that is spreading out across a battlefield: The wider that they are spread, the less effective that they are. The inverse square law hasn't been repealed.

Show Restraint, But Always Have Recourse to Lethal Force. My father often told me, "It is better to have a gun and not need it, than need a gun, and not have it." I urge readers to use less than lethal means when safe and practicable, but at times there is not a satisfactory substitute for well-aimed lead going down range at high velocity.

There is Strength in Numbers. Rugged individualism is all well and good, but it takes ore than one man to defend a retreat. Effective retreat defense necessitates having at least two families to provide 24/7 perimeter security. But of course every individual added means having another mouth to feed. Absent having an unlimited budget and an infinite larder, this necessitates striking a balance when deciding the size of a retreat group.

There are Moral Absolutes. The foundational morality of the civilized world is best summarized in the Ten Commandments. Moral relativism and secular humanism are slippery slopes. The terminal moraine at the base of these slopes is a rubble pile consisting of either despotism and pillage, or anarchy and the depths of depravity. I believe that it takes both faith and friends to survive perilous times. For more background on that, see my Prayer page.

Racism Ignores Reason. People should be judged as individuals. Anyone that make blanket statements about other races is ignorant that there are both good and bad individuals in all groups. I have accepted The Great Commission with sincerity."Go forth into all nations" means exactly that: all nations. OBTW, I feel grateful that SurvivalBlog is now read in more than 100 countries. I have been given a bully pulpit, and I intend to use it for good and edifying purposes.

Skills Beat Gadgets and Practicality Beats Style. The modern world is full of pundits, poseurs, and Mall Ninjas. Preparedness is not just about accumulating a pile of stuff. You need practical skills, and those only come with study, training, and practice. Any armchair survivalist can buy a set of stylish camouflage fatigues and an M4gery Carbine encrusted with umpteen accessories. Style points should not be mistaken for genuine skills and practicality.

Plentiful Water and Good Soil are Crucial. Modern mechanized farming, electrically pumped irrigation, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides can make deserts bloom. But when the grid goes down, deserts and marginal farmland will revert to their natural states. In my estimation, the most viable places to survive in the midst of a long term societal collapse will be those with reliable summer rains and rich topsoil.

Tangibles Trump Conceptuals. Modern fiat currencies are generally accepted, but have essentially no backing. Because they are largely a byproduct of interest bearing debt, modern currencies are destined to inflation. In the long run, inflation dooms fiat currencies to collapse. The majority of your assets should be invested in productive farm land and other tangibles such as useful hand tools. Only after you have your key logistics squared away, anything extra should be invested in silver and gold.

Governments Tend to Expand their Power to the Point that They Do Harm. In SurvivalBlog, I often warn of the insidious tyranny of the Nanny State. If the state where you live becomes oppressive, then don't hesitate to relocate. Vote with your feet!

There is Value in Redundancy. A common saying of my readers is: "Two is one, and one is none." You must be prepared to provide for your family in a protracted period of societal disruption. That means storing up all of the essential "beans, bullets, and Band-Aids" in quantity. If commerce is disrupted by a disaster, at least in the short term you will only have your own logistics to fall back on. The more that you have stored, the more that you will have available for barter and charity.

A Deep Larder is Essential. Food storage is one of the key preparations that I recommend. Even if you have a fantastic self-sufficient garden and pasture ground, you must always have food storage that you can fall back on in the event that your crops fail due to drought, disease, or infestation.

Tools Without Training Are Almost Useless. Owning a gun doesn't make someone a "shooter" any more than owning a surfboard makes someone a surfer. With proper training and practice, you will be miles ahead of the average citizen. Get advanced medical training. Get the best firearms training that you can afford. Learn about amateur radio from your local affiliated ARRL club. Practice raising a vegetable garden each summer. Some skills are only perfected over a period of years.

Old Technologies are Appropriate Technologies. In the event of a societal collapse, 19th Century (or earlier) technologies such as a the blacksmith's forge, the treadle sewing machine, and the horse-drawn plow will be far easier to re-construct than modern technologies.

Charity is a Moral Imperative. As a Christian, I feel morally obligated to assist others that are less fortunate. Following the Old Testament laws of Tzedakah (charity and tithing), I believe that my responsibility begins with my immediate family and expands in successive rings to supporting my immediate neighborhood and church, to my community, and beyond, as resources allow. In short, my philosophy is to "give until it hurts" in times of disaster.

Buy Life Assurance, not Life Insurance. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance are many-faceted. You need to systematically provide for Water, Food, Shelter, Fuel, First Aid, Commo, and, if need be, the tools to enforce Rule 308.

Live at Your Retreat Year-Round. If your financial and family circumstances allow it, I strongly recommend that you relocate to a safe area and live there year-round. This has several advantages, most notably that will prevent burglary of your retreat logistics and allow you to regularly tend to gardens, orchards, and livestock. It will also remove the stress of timing a "Get Out of Dodge" trip at the11th hour. If circumstances dictate that you can't live at your retreat year round, then at least have a caretaker and stock the vast majority of your logistics in advance, since you may only have one trip there before roads are impassable.

Exploit Force Multipliers. Night vision gear, intrusion detection sensors, and radio communications equipment are key force multipliers. Because these use high technology they cannot be depended upon in a long term collapse, but in the short term, they can provide a big advantage. Some low technologies like barbed wire and defensive road cables also provide advantages and can last for several decades.

Invest Your Sweat Equity. Even if some of you have a millionaire's budget, you need to learn how to do things for yourself, and be willing to get your hands dirty. In a societal collapse, the division of labor will be reduced tremendously. Odds are that the only "skilled craftsmen" available to build a shed, mend a fence, shuck corn, repair an engine, or pitch manure will be you.and your family. A byproduct of sweat equity is muscle tone and proper body weight. Hiring someone to deliver three cords of firewood is a far cry from felling, cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking it yourself.

Choose Your Friends Wisely. Associate yourself with skilled doers, not "talkers." Seek out people that share your outlook and morality. Living in close confines with other families is sure to cause friction but that will be minimized if you share a common religion and norms of behavior.You can't learn every skill yourself. Assemble a team that includes members with medical knowledge, tactical skills, electronics experience, and traditional practical skills.

There is No Substitute for Mass. Mass stops bullets. Mass stops gamma radiation. Mass stops (or at least slows down ) bad guys from entering a home and depriving its residents of life and property. Sandbags are cheap, so buy plenty of them. When planning your retreat house, think: medieval castle. (See the SurvivalBlog Archives for the many articles and letters on Retreat Architecture.)

Always Have a Plan B and a Plan C. Regardless of your pet scenario and your personal grand plan of survival, you need to be flexible and adaptable. Situations and circumstances change. Always keep a G.O.O.D. kit handy, even if you are fortunate enough to live at your retreat year-round.

Be Frugal. I grew up in a family that still remembered both our pioneer history and the more recent lessons of the Great Depression. One of our family mottos is: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without."

Some Things are Worth Fighting For. I encourage my readers to avoid trouble, most importantly via relocation to safe areas where trouble is unlikely to come to visit. But there may come an unavoidable day that you have to make a stand to defend your own family or your neighbors. Further, if you value your liberty, then be prepared to fight for it, both for yourself and for the sake of your progeny.

Mr. Rawles,

The BBC and several other news outlets are reporting Food Riots in Haiti, where food scarcity and price increases have resulted in violence. Reports say mobs are looting shops, burning cars, blocking roads, and shooting at UN Peacekeepers. It is also reported one man was shot to death by UN Peacekeepers. The rioters are responding to food prices increasing some 50% over the past year. Apparently the United States and France will be sending more money to assist in subsidizing food prices. There's plenty of information about this showing online. Here are a couple of links, one from the British Broadcasting Corporation, and one from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. - KMA

Dear Mr. Rawles;
I love the SurvivalBlog. It is fun and interesting, yet it is even more, it is educational! I believe that a lot of people are over looking the biggest part of the equation when it comes to survival. It is mindset. When going thru [US Army] Ranger school I knew from the start there was no way I was going to quit. I had the mindset they could “DQ” [(disqualify)] me and send me packing but I was not quitting. In a true survival setting one has to know in his heart and mind he is going try to make it at all cost.

I am a Christian, a true believer of God’s saving grace, yet when the Schumer hits the fan I am going to survive or die trying. I think a lot of people need to re-evaluate their thinking about a time of total collapse. At that point, you will have to become good spirited yet know and believe that you will do what it takes to survive. There are going to be cold nights, days of being in the rain watching your home, and sweating because there is no air conditioning. You can provide charity and help to people you truly trust. I know that sounds selfish but it isn’t. If you start to give food and other goods away [to strangers] you become a target and the thieves will come! If you decide to take them to a church then someone at that church is going to know you had it and again you will become a target. When people become desperate they will do anything. I hope folks realize that when these times come, a trip to town will be a heart attack event, because driving or walking down a road and not having proper recon is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Another issue I would like to make is bugging out. If you think you are going to bug out after the Schumer hits the fan, then you are full of Schumer! When it hits, there is going to be widespread panic and martial law will follow. Therefore moving is going to be a major problem. I think if you are concerned enough now to have a retreat, then move to it now. I live in semi-rural North Carolina and I would love to be in Montana but it ain’t happening! Therefore my family has decided to square ourselves away and hunker down in place. People need to realize that they don’t want to be a refugee! That can not be stated loud and hard enough. Most people would take two or three days to really be ready to leave home, if they could do it that quickly. In two or three days a lot can happen! The roads would be clogged, fuel inventories depleted, grocery stores barren, and then the nightmare of trying to avoid the military and police enforcing the martial law rules. You would be either stuck at home or out in the open with no where to go. I am totally serious, either go now or prepare to stay in place.

Be physically and mentally tough. The hard times will be like nothing you can imagine unless you have been to a warring third world country. In those times everything will matter, you will see the strong survive and the rest dwindle away. With My Best Regards, - A.F. in North Carolina

Eric sent us this: The new underground currency

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Time magazine reports: How Hunger Could Topple Regimes

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Where are the contrapreneurs that "invested" in McMansions, using NINJA (No Income, No Job or Assets) loans? Some of them have gone through foreclosure and are now moving back home to live with their parents.

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As other staples soar, potatoes break new ground

“As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.” - Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight. The high bid for the lot is now at $300. This auction is for four items: a MURS Alert Base station, a MURS Alert Hand-held transceiver, an earbud, and a Kaito KA-1102 AM/FM/Shortwave. These radios were kindly donated by the owner of Affordable Shortwaves and MURS Radios. If you aren't familiar with the Dakota Alert infrared perimeter security system, take a few minute to look at the Dakota Alert web site. These alarms are very reliable and versatile. I often recommend them to my consulting clients--especially those that plan to have lightly-manned retreats. You can easily set up multiple detector/transmitter sensors to provide 360 degree perimeter security for a large area. Instead of just a generic alarm, they will let you know which sensor was tripped, via a computer-generated voice message to a radio that you can carry on your belt. (Such as "Alert, Zone Two.") The same radio can be used for point-to-point voice communications, on the little-used MURS band. The three radios have a retail value of $210, plus shipping. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

You’ve got your Bug Out Bags (BOBs) all packed. You’ve prepped your house for whatever reason you’re leaving. You’ve made contact with what family you could, and you trust the rest to meet you at your designated meeting place, whether it’s your retreat or just a spot along the way where your two paths converge. Everything is set. Or is it? Points A and B are ready, but how do you plan to make the trek between them?
Walking is always an option, but probably a last resort. Most people aren’t in good enough shape to walk ten miles, let alone 100 and over the course of a few days. Cramps and blisters become unbearable, and joints seize up. Adverse weather, whether hot or cold, can become lethal. Other humans (travelers, police, military) can be dangers, and so can feral and wild animals. Not to mention, you can only bring what you can carry. Walk if you must, but don’t let it be plan A. In fact, keep it at plan D or further.

A bike is a good option, but again, requires some level of fitness. Bikes can be fitted with cargo containers on the front and back (as well as new packs that strap to the frame), and thus allow you to carry more than you could on foot. However, a bike presents a new group of possible problems that must be addressed, and therefore you should always attach the following to your bike frame or in an attached pack or basket: a tire pump (foot pumps are best as they are smaller), a tire patch-kit, a small can of leak-stop, and tools to reset the chain should it pop loose. Reflectors and a headlight for your bike is a must for night-riding, and some are available that are powered by your pedaling, much like a hand-cranked flashlight. Otherwise, pack extra batteries. There are solid foam rubber inner tubes that will eliminate your need for a patch kit, but there are many mixed reviews on these tubes, because they tend to also decrease energy efficiency. A mountain bike will allow you to ride off-road should the need arise, but again, you lose energy efficiency over a road bike. If you’re in excellent shape, efficiency might not be as big an issue for you – likewise if you’re not too far from your retreat. Take all this into consideration. A bike with multiple gears is better for energy efficiency, but it also presents more moving parts which can break along the way. To maximize your chances of making it on a bike, fitting your bike with a small gasoline powered engine is best.

These small gasoline engines turn your bike into a virtual moped. You get up to speed by pedaling and then engage the engine. These engines can get up to 250 miles per gallon going 25 mph on flat road. Unfortunately, they may only hold a gallon of gas. However, you can easily fit a 2 gallon jerry can (or jug, if you’re in a hurry) of gasoline in the back basket of your bike, and refill along the way, if your destination is further than 250 miles. You might say “motorcycles get good miles per gallon too” and you would be right, but they also require a lot more investment and maintenance than a bike, and aren’t as easily strapped to the back of a larger vehicle. If you’re considering buying one, ask yourself “Do I want a motorcycle because it’s a practical form of transportation, or because I think its cool?” I would ask you to reconsider and look into a newer-model moped. They can go fast enough for practical purposes, get great miles per gallon, and if they break down, they simply turn into a bicycle! I call that insurance. Unlike a motorcycle, you can carry a moped across otherwise impassable obstacles (such as streams or deep mud), and if you crash, you don’t have to worry about it crushing you. Mopeds get 100-150 miles per gallon, and most only hold a gallon of gas. Is your bug-out site 100 to 150 miles away? If not, can you easily and safely carry enough gas to make up the difference? If not, how far will you be pedaling the moped after it runs out, and on what kind of terrain? You can always pedal in the straight-aways and down-hills, saving your gas for the difficult stretches, but this is still not your best option, obviously. Ideally, you want an automobile.

An automobile is something you don’t want to be without in a bug-out scenario, if you can help it. Most of us have vehicles, but not every vehicle is created equal. However, I’m not going to discuss what vehicles are the best, because not many of you are going to go out and buy a new vehicle to prepare for an arguably improbable contingency, and anyway, plenty of good articles already exist on the subject of bug-out vehicles. Any vehicle is better than no vehicle, but there are things you can do to your existing vehicle to make it not only better prepared for bugging out, but also better prepared for everyday life.

First, how many miles per gallon does your car/truck get? What size is the fuel tank? Multiply your MPG by the size of your tank, and that’s how far you’re going to get before your car becomes nothing more than a metal tent. For example, my car gets 24 MPG on average, and I have a 15 gallon tank. That means I can probably drive about 360 miles, but that’s going to vary depending on weather, wind, temperature, terrain and even how much I’ve packed. I recently spent a minor amount of money on a tune-up, lube, tire-rotation, and a few small items that improve my vehicle’s MPG. These included a fuel magnetizer, a performance chip, and an air-intake insert. Each item is supposed to improve MPG by about 2, but in reality, they might raise my MPG to 25 or 26. Still that would extend my viable mileage to roughly 390 miles. That’s an extra 30 miles on the same tank of gas, and that’s nothing to scoff at! Don’t you think that’s worth it? [JWR Adds: Magnetic "fuel economy" devices have been tested extensively by Popular Science magazine (and others), and have been proven to have no effectiveness. Don't bother.] In the meantime, with rising fuel prices, you’ll be saving gas and money… so why wouldn’t you invest in these things? There is more I can do, as well, including getting a better air filter, keeping my tires at the correct pressure, using a fuel-additive, keeping my tires aligned, and practicing my “light-foot” driving, meaning attempting to keep my RPMs at a low constant while driving. There are probably body modifications that will improve airflow, and replacement parts that will perform more efficiently than the stock parts currently under my hood. All of these are sound investments during the current fuel crisis, even if you never have to bug out. Perhaps a more automotively informed reader can compile a list of these parts and modifications – I, on the other hand, will merely encourage you to seek them out and invest in them.

However, we are assuming that gas stations will either sell-out, close, or be so inundated with customers after a crisis that you’ll have to rely on a single tank of gas. If you don’t think this is realistic, just look back at what happened on 9-11. People sprinted to the pumps so fast that many stations ran out, had lines around the block, or, in the case of a certain establishment in my home town, raised prices 300% and illegally reaped the benefits of the panic. If that happens, and you’ve only got a quarter tank, it doesn’t matter what your MPG is, as you’re only going to be able to go 1/2 of your total distance. You can avoid this by filling up your tank more often. You’ll pay the same amount, but in smaller portions and more often. Try filling up every time you get to half a tank, and then eventually every time you get down to 3/4 of a tank. You may find that you prefer it, as it doesn’t feel like you’re just dropping fifty bucks into your fuel-tank. You’ll also rest easy knowing you can easily drive nearly your vehicle's full range at a moment’s notice.

If you have a gas can at home for fueling the mower, keep it full as well. Fill it every time you see gas prices drop, and tell yourself you’re just saving money by stocking up while the prices are low. If you suddenly have to leave, you can use rope or bungee cables to strap the gas can to the luggage rack atop your car, or throw it in the bed of your truck. Try to avoid putting it inside the car with you, as this is very dangerous on many levels, but if you have to, you can put it in the trunk as a last resort. Be sure to open the trunk every so often to allow any possible fumes to dissipate (or open the windows if you keep it inside the cab), and pour it into the main tank as soon as the tank will take it, rather than waiting until you run out.

What about the other problems that are possible with an automobile? In order to build a list of priorities, first ask yourself “What could happen to my car that would make it impossible for me to drive it?” Then, go down the list and say “Which of these things has ever happened to me? Which have happened to people I know? Which are probable? Which can I possibly prepare for and fix on the road?” For example, you simply can’t prepare for total engine failure, brake failure, transmission failure, a broken axel, etc… unless you perceive these as likely problems with your specific automobile, in which case you should get them fixed before an emergency occurs, because problems like this are next to impossible to fix in the field (for an average Joe like me, anyway).

What common problems can you prepare for? Easy ones include: flat tires, blown fuses, low fluids, dead battery, burned out lights, leaky hoses and low fuel (which we’ve already discussed).
Preparing for these problems will allow you to save yourself from the hassle and cost of towing your vehicle, and possibly even the cost of taking it to a mechanic, depending on the severity of the problem and the quality of your repair. Obviously, some problems will have to be addressed by a mechanic, but a quick fix on your part can get you out of a sticky situation. For example, if you break down on a small highway outside a small town and there aren’t any mechanics open on Sunday, then you’re faced with either paying a huge towing fee, or spending the night in said small town until the next day, at which time the mechanic will surely overcharge you because you’re a know-nothing townie who’ll never be back that way again. It’s not like you’ll have many options at that point.

To begin, ascertain the current qualities of your car regarding its current equipment and space for additional storage of emergency supplies. Does your car have a spare tire? Is it a full size tire or a donut? If at all possible, you should have a full size spare. Next time you get your tires replaced, have the one in best condition placed in your trunk as your spare, or purchase a cheap refurbished tire for the same purpose. Give the donut to the mechanic for a discount. A full sized spare will allow you to carry on as before after changing a flat, unlike a donut which will require you to drive slowly and avoid adverse terrain. If you can’t fit a full sized spare in your car, then consider repairing the flat with a patch kit. A patch/plug kit is cheap, easy to use, but will also require the purchase of a tire pump. Small electric pumps can be purchased that will plug into your cigarette lighter and take up very little space. If you don’t like to rely on your car battery, you can get chargeable emergency-starter/air-compressor combo units that work great, or you can simply pack a bicycle foot pump (yes, it will take a while to fill a car tire with it, but that’s what they did in the old days, and you’ll do what you have to do when the need arises). “Where should I keep all this stuff!?” you ask.

Does your car have extra cargo storage in the spare tire compartment, in or around the spare? Are there other side compartments in the trunk? Drivers of trucks won’t need to worry about this, and should merely get a metal truck-toolbox, plastic toolbox, or cargo box to store their supplies in. If you don’t have storage space, a smaller cargo box can also be purchased (or built) to fit in your trunk. I would suggest including the following in that box:
1. Non-electronic tire gauge
2. Extra fuses
3. Roll of duct tape for securing a cracked window or fixing a leaky hose (or a million other things)
4. Hand crank LED flashlight (or standard bright light and extra lithium batteries)
5. Jumper cables
6. Tire plug/patch kit
7. Small electric air compressor, or a foot-pump, if you’re a hoss
8. A couple extra head/tail light bulbs
9. Small bottles of replacement fluids (oil, coolant, power-steering fluid with leak-stop, transmission fluid)
10. A couple of rags
11. Lock de-icer (which does you no good if you leave it in the car during a freeze. If you suspect cold weather and a possible freeze, keep it outside the car.
12. Some strong rope. How much? Enough to tie your trunk down, tie something to the luggage rack, or tie to the car to pull and dislodge it if stuck.
13. A fuel siphon hose and pump (inertial pumps are cheap and work well)
14. Bungee cords

If there’s room, you could also put your car-BOB in this box. You should also keep the following in the glove box: an electronic tire gauge, a small flashlight, an ice scraper, and a solid multi-tool with a knife blade. The pliers-style multi-tools are best, as they can be used to break out the car windows in an emergency. Just grip the pliers’ handles together, holding them upside down, and smash the nose end of the pliers against the window with a hammer-fist motion. The localized force should make short work of the window, though repeated blows in the same spot might be necessary.
Everyone should also keep wet-naps and napkins in their glove-box, as they’re not only useful for everyday cleaning, but also for limited first aid applications: clean the wound with a wet-nap, cover it with a few tightly folded napkins, and hold this down with some duct tape from the trunk. I also suggest that everyone put a magnetic key-box under their car with a spare key in it, because your fancy keyless entry is worthless when its attached to your keychain…and you lose your keys or lock them in your car. Don’t put the magnetic key-box in an easily visible and accessible spot where any Joe can look under your car and see it, but in a safe, inconspicuous spot such as on the top surface of an exposed portion of the frame or any metal component, between the gas tank and gas tank shield (if your car has one), or under/behind a bumper. If Joe is looking for a key-stash, he’s likely moving quickly. He’s going to look under many cars, quickly, until he finds an easy target, or a car with an easily seen and easily accessible key-box.

There are a few optional tools you might consider to further your preparedness, the most logical and pragmatic of which is the battery jump-starter. They aren’t cheap, but they aren’t expensive either, and depending on the environment and circumstances in which your battery dies, you may either not see another passerby or you may not want to see another passerby. A dead battery is one of those problems that require a second, working battery in order to give it life. In place of a second, running vehicle driven by a stranger, you can purchase a battery jump-starter. Most will simply plug into your cigarette lighter or home wall socket until charged, and in the event of a dead battery, will jumpstart the car. Most also have sockets to run electrical appliances for a short time, such as your electric tire compressor, if your car’s electrical systems fail. In older cars, this is no big deal, as the car will still run with a dead battery or bad wiring (as long as you can jump-start it). I once had a car in which the electrical systems fried while I was driving. Everything electrical shut off, and smoke poured out of the dash and from under the hood. However, the car was already running, and I easily drove it across town to the mechanic (with the windows down). In newer cars, where the engine and electrical systems are interdependent, an electrical failure could mean that your car isn’t going anywhere. Many of the higher-end battery jump-starters actually have air-compressors, lanterns, and even radios built right in. That way, you can save money and cargo space by consolidating.

Another practical device to have on hand is a handheld CB radio. I have one that fits into a box about the size of a bible and plugs into the cigarette lighter. There’s a magnetic antenna that you put up on the roof, and then you’ve got instant communication. This is a good option for maintaining communication while traveling with other cars in case your cell phone either loses service or runs out of power. I’ve personally used it during a traffic jam to listen in on the truckers as they informed one another on the situation. It can also be used to ask other unknown drivers for directions, stop suggestions, and even to call for help in the event of an emergency. It’s also good, in addition to the poncho and cold weather gear undoubtedly already in your BOB, to keep a good pair of athletic shoes in the car. If you are forced out on your bike or on foot, you don’t want to be stuck wearing the dress shoes you had on at work when you were forced to flee.

So, what’s the best practical option for bugging out? Max out your vehicle’s MPG, equip it with a BOB and an emergency box, buy a bike rack for the back of your vehicle, buy a good bike and equip it with cargo baskets, an emergency repair pack and a small gasoline moped-motor, buy a large gas can and a small gas can and keep them full in your tool shed. Ride the bike when running short errands to stay in shape. Use the moped motor on your bike to run medium range errands, pedal when you can to stay in shape, and bring the groceries home in the cargo baskets. Drive your car on long errands and save money because you maxed out the MPG. Put your bike on your vehicle’s bike rack and take it with you on long trips; ride your bike around the downtown area of wherever you’re going, or perhaps just from the hotel to the nearby restaurant. Save Gas. Stay in shape. Have fun. Can you argue with any of that? Can you!?

Boom. The Schumer hits the fan. You’ve got to get outta town. No problem, your gas tank is 1/2 full. You top it off with your large gas can, and put the remainder in your bike’s moped-motor. You attach the bike to the bike-rack and bungee the small gas can into its cargo basket. You load up and you’re on your way. You have a flat outside of town. No problem, you change the tire and you’re on your way… or you would be, but the car won’t start. No problem, you use your battery jump-starter and you’re on your way. You have another flat. Son of a… no problem, you patch the hole with your patch kit, air up the tire with your small electric compressor, and you’re on your way. The car starts to overheat. No problem, you refill the coolant, turn on the heater, open the windows and you’re on your way. You stop make a quick stop the urinate by the roadside…oh wait, you locked your keys in your car. No problem, you’ve got a spare hidden under the back bumper, and you’re on your way. You’re getting pretty low on gas, so you go ahead and pour your small gas can into the car’s tank. A while later, you’re getting low again, but before you can do anything about it, you look up from the gas gauge in time to see a sedan stalled in the middle of the road. Too late.

You smash into it, totaling your car. You have a gash on your left arm from the window, but otherwise, you’re okay. The seatbelt won’t unbuckle, so you get your multi-tool from the glove box and cut it. You also bandage the gash on your arm with napkins and duct tape. You can do a better job later with the med-kit in your BOB. The car’s power is still on, so you plug in your CB and check all channels. Nothing. No problem, you top off the charge of your battery jump-starter using the car’s battery, and load it and your CB into the cargo basket of your bike. You use your hose and pump to siphon the fuel from your car into the small gas can. You try to do the same to the sedan, but it’s got a valve in the fuel intake preventing you from doing so. No problem, you check to make sure the sedan’s engine is cool, and then use your knife and cut the fuel line. Being careful to avoid the initial spray, you drain what you can into the small gas can, and bungee it into your bike’s other cargo basket. You plug your CB into the jump-starter and set it on scan. You strap your BOB onto your back [or mo-ped cargo rack] and your athletic shoes on your feet, and start pedaling down the road, saving the motor for when you get tired.

Eventually, you do get tired, and you ride a few hours on the motor. A day or so later, and you’re out of gas. Luckily, you can still siphon fuel from any abandoned vehicles you find, or walk the bike up the hills and then jump on and coast down the other side. Eventually, you make it to your destination.

No, obviously not all of these problems would occur in such rapid succession. Maybe none of them would, or perhaps one or two… or maybe more. This story illustrates, however, how a little planning can prepare you for any combination of likely problems that stand between you and your destination. You never know when a problem will occur or and what problem it will be, and spending a little money now on things that will benefit you regardless in the meantime will save you from uttering the following words in a real emergency: “Aw crud… if only I had…”

For several months I've been pointing to the Federal Reserve's data on bank reserves. The latest numbers are downright frightening. In particular, see the bottom of the "Non-borrowed Reserves" column. (Thanks to "Tanker" for alerting me to the latest update to the Fed data.) OBTW, don't miss this article: US banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch reveal fresh $15bn loss

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The latest addition to my blog roll is Target Rich Environment. I found this blog both humorous and insightful.

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I noticed that the folks at Green Mountain Gear have expanded their product line to include more types of Katadyn water filters. Check them out.

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From the International Herald Tribune: U.S. housing collapse spreads overseas

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 14, 2008

A SurvivalBlog reader in Iraq e-mailed me to mention that the Wikipedia page "James Wesley Rawles" has been proposed for deletion. If you have experience with Wikipedia and have an opinion one way or the other, then please post your comments. (Needless to say, I can't comment there personally, or it would be a conflict of interest.) If you do post, please be civil!

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction (which tomorrow night) is now at $260. This auction is for four items: a MURS Alert Base station, a MURS Alert Hand-held transceiver, an earbud, and a Kaito KA-1102 AM/FM/Shortwave. These radios were kindly donated by the owner of Affordable Shortwaves and MURS Radios. If you aren't familiar with the Dakota Alert infrared perimeter security system, take a few minute to look at the Dakota Alert web site. These alarms are very reliable and versatile. I often recommend them to my consulting clients--especially those that plan to have lightly-manned retreats. You can easily set up multiple detector/transmitter sensors to provide 360 degree perimeter security for a large area. Instead of just a generic alarm, they will let you know which sensor was tripped, via a computer-generated voice message to a radio that you can carry on your belt. (Such as "Alert, Zone Two.") The same radio can be used for point-to-point voice communications, on the little-used MURS band. The three radios have a retail value of $210, plus shipping. The auction ends at midnight tomorrow (April 15th). Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

For those readers that have livestock they need to prepare for the day when hydrocarbon fuel may not be available for tractors. I would suggest a buck rake and a pull-behind sickle mower that a horse could pull. It beats cutting hay by hand. These items can often be picked up at farm and ranch auctions. Enough hay can be put up for a few cows, horses and sheep for the winter months when snow may cover grazing ground.

I would recommend a treadle sewing machine. Clothes will need to be mended and taken care of until society gets back on its feet and power is restored. Make sure you have extra needles, bobbins, thread and a couple of belts. In an ideal situation a family should also have an extra treadle machine that is capable of doing leather work for shoes and horse tack.

I would recommend a selection of sharpening stones and at least one black oil stone for straight razors. A selection of saw sets for properly setting teethe of regular hand saws and two man cross cut saws. A good felling saw should be picked up also.

If thing stay bad long enough, traditional hand tools will be a must. A good crosscut saw is nearly as quick as a chain saw. Axes with good steel are capable of [being sharpened for] shaving. These are just some thoughts that I have not noticed on your site. - Clyde

I just realized that if the Schumer impacts the oscillator that we won't have a clue about upcoming weather without the National Weather Service. Being able to predict future weather will be very important for gardening, hay cutting, and on and on. What do you recommend? A barometer? Thx, - Barry

JWR Replies: A barometer is indeed the most important forecasting tool. Luckily, they are fairly easy to find in second hand stores. Make sure that you get one with a finely-gradated scale and with a proper elevation offset adjustment in the back. (If you live at high elevation--such as Colorado--be advised that not all barometers have adjustments that go that high!) If you want a new barometer, there are several models available from Wind & Weather (one of our affiliate advertisers). From now until the end of May, they have a special SurvivalBlog $15 discount on any purchase over $100. Use coupon code "WSAS".

OBTW, be sure refer to the recent discussion in SurvivalBlog about do-it-yourself forecasting, including sky-reading.

Congratulations on the continuing success of your blog site.

I think your readers would like some information regarding physical delivery of silver from futures contracts. I've never done this, or even known anyone who has, but it seems rational nowadays. One question I have is what type of mark or assay comes with, say, a 1,000 ounce delivery.

I also think many readers are interested in questions of how to plan "getting tangible" with their retirement accounts, by which I mean no paper. I know I have to think about this quite seriously. Felicitations, - Patrick (an American Ex-Pat in Asia)

JWR Replies: There are of course humorous apocryphal stories about a futures trader finding 100 "live lean hogs" left on his doorstep. But be advised that most futures and options markets are entirely "cash settled", so you can't take physical delivery even if you want to. Ask your broker if your particular market allows the alternative of physical delivery. Odds are that it doesn't.

As for "getting physical" with retirement accounts, if you don't want to take the tax and withdrawal penalty of cashing out, I strongly recommend rolling over IRA and 401(k) accounts into Gold American Eagle vault storage IRA accounts available through Swiss America Trading Corp. I have had one of these accounts since the early 1990s, starting when I first worked in the corporate world. At the time, my co-workers thought that I was crazy. But I had the last laugh, in the long run. In the Spring of 2000, when I worked as a technical writer for Oracle Corporation, I was buying one ounce Gold Eagles for my Gold IRA at around $290 per ounce. Meanwhile, many of my co-workers were enthusiastically buying Oracle stock at around $40 per share (split adjusted) through the employee stock purchase plan (ESPP). Oracle now sells for around $19.50 per share. But their loss is even worse when you consider inflation.

To answer Steve W.'s question: "How much dry chlorine would be needed to make a one gallon batch of standard 5.25% chlorine bleach?":

In the conversion of dry hypochlorite to liquid (bleach), since all the percentages are by weight, it is easy to calculate the amount needed to reconstitute 5.25% hypochlorite bleach. Since dry is about 55% active, it should be diluted roughly 10-fold by weight (one pound to 10 pounds water). So, you would need 8/10 pound or about 12 ounces per gallon of reconstituted liquid bleach. Then the standard formulas could be applied for the final mixing with water for sanitizing.

Safety Warning: Be very careful when mixing dry hypochlorite with water, add it slowly and watch for overheating and beware of splashing. Wearing goggles for eye protection is mandatory! Cheers. - JB in Nashville

Frank in Arizona wrote to ask me how much longer Front Sight's "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer will still be available. From what I've heard, it won't be very long, since Front Sight is running this promotion at near their cost. Don't dawdle on this and miss out, folks! I can't think of a better purpose for your upcoming Federal tax "economic stimulus" check. Those checks (for up to $1,200 per married couple) will be mailed out starting in May, so you might want to employ your credit card, in advance! If Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer only knew what you were planning to do with that check!

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Neil G. found this: Food Crisis Looms in Bangladesh.

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Reader David A. mentioned a new personal digital radiation monitor. It is the Ludlum's Model 25. David notes: "The range for the Model 25 is .01mR/hr to 1999 R/hr, it is the size of a cell phone, making it perfect for anyone who wants to know when to evacuate or head to a shelter. There is a maximum allowed dose timer to 50R. The unit costs $495."

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G-7 Signals Concern on Dollar's Slide, Weaker Growth (Speaking of which, watch the US Dollar Index closely in coming weeks. As I've mentioned before, analysts note that 72 is currently the magic number. If the USD Index cannot hold 72, then we can expect more market turmoil, and substantially higher precious metals prices.)

"I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money." - Arthur Godfrey

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Today, after church, I plan to do some target shooting with my kids. I guess I'm just a conservative dinosaur, "clinging to guns and religion."

Be sure to take a look at the many new listings at SurvivalRealty.com, particularly in Idaho and North Carolina.

Yesterday, as I sat up in the warm spring sunshine in one of our hilltop pastures watching a newborn Scottish Highland calf interact with its mother, my thoughts drifted back to all the reasons behind our initial decision to choose this breed ten years ago. Given our experience since then, I have to conclude that it was an excellent decision, and one which I think would benefit your readers.
We raise registered Scottish Highland cattle because we like the qualities of this breed over all others. Esthetically, they are impressive, with long, shaggy hair and sweeping horns. While those horns can be intimidating, as a breed they are gentle and intelligent (well, for cows…). For quality of beef we find them to be unmatched: Excellent flavor, very little fat, tender, and juicy. Highlands have demonstrably low levels of cholesterol, for those of us who need to be careful. Highlands are an old breed, the oldest registered breed, and have had their genetics left largely unchanged for the past several thousand years

While the aesthetics and taste are important, more desirable as a long-term source of food are the breed’s bovine characteristics. Most significant, in my mind, is how little care they require. These beasts are built for self reliance and independence. They are extremely resistant to diseases. Their thick coat and thick hide protect them from weather, insects, and injury. The long hair over their eyes provides a very welcome relief from flies in the summer. And those thick, lush, hairy hides make incredible rugs and bed-covers on cold winter nights. We do a lot of winter camping and stay toasty warm under one, with no sleeping bags needed.

Their calves are born small, so they rarely need assistance in birthing and they rarely lose a calf. To date we’ve never had to pull a calf, and our herd has numbered as many as 45.
Equally important is the breed’s ability to forage. Like any cow, they prefer lush grass in the summer, and hay in the winter. But in times of drought or blizzards, they will eat just about anything. In fact, some Highland owners rent out their cattle to folks who want to clear the briars and brush from their woods. These are tough, resilient animals. Another plus is that they don’t require great fencing (we don’t use any electric fence). They show little interest in getting out of their pasture. They will if the fence is down (e.g., when a tree has fallen over it), but they typically wander back in on their own.
A bonus for folks who live in or near wilderness areas are the horns. Though they never use the horns in their own dominance struggles (they merely push heads), the horns are formidable weapons against predators. When coyotes enter our pasture, the alarm is sounded, and the mommas form a circle, facing out, with their babies safely in the middle (like musk oxen). The coyotes steer a wide course around them. It’s an impressive sight.

Our cattle are raised as naturally as possible. They have free-range access to lush pastures and clear creek and spring water. They do not require and are given no commercial feed supplements of any kind (i.e., no need to worry about contamination from feed containing animal byproducts or unknown chemicals). They are not given growth hormones, or antibiotics as a feed supplement. They are completely grass fed except for small amounts of rolled corn used for training. Routine feeding of grain to cattle is a waste of money; it merely produces fat. And, research suggests that exclusively grass-fed beef contains elevated levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a natural anticarcinogen, and markedly lower saturated fat levels. Feedlot beef (which is what one gets in a supermarket) is not grass fed, and those cattle are given large quantities of grains and chemical feed supplements.

With advantages come disadvantages: Highlands are a slow-growing breed. While most commercial breeds go to market in a year and a half, Highlands take an extra year. The same is true of breeding age—Highlands are bred at age 2-1/2, while other breeds are done at age 1-1/2. This is why you don’t see huge herds of Highlands in the beef growing states. But countering this slower growth is the fact that Highlands will continue breeding well into their teens. An acquaintance of ours recently had a calf born to a 19-year-old cow.

In sum, I don’t believe there is a better choice of breed for folks who want to have some beef cattle around. We had Angus prior to the Highlands. There’s no comparison. These cattle are ideal for rugged wilderness areas with mountainous climates prone to severe storms. But they also do well in warmer climates, with breeders throughout the American South. Where to find them? There are breeders in nearly every state. Go online to the American Highland Cattle Association. When shopping, deal with folks who raise and sell beef cattle, as opposed to those interested in show animals. The latter will cost 2-4 times as much as the former. And they taste the same. - Jack A.

Hi Jim,
I'm a long time reader. I wanted to relate to you a recent experience I had, which may be of value to SurvivalBlog readers. I live in a state that is prone to tornados and severe weather. We recently had
a storm tear through our area, causing several million dollars in damage across much of the state, my neighborhood notwithstanding. My wife and I went to bed Wednesday evening, expecting only scattered thunderstorms. What we awoke to at 3:30am was much, much more than a thunderstorm. As I looked out our bedroom's open window, I saw and heard wind and rain, the likes of which I've never witnessed in all my 45 years. I nudged my wife and simply said "closet". Now, she knows her husband as the guy who, instead of going for shelter, he usually goes outside to observe and satisfy his unbridled curiosty. When she heard me say "closet", she knew it was serious.

Within four minutes, we were hunkered down in the closet, with everything we needed, including our surplus Kevlar helmets (the wife no longer thinks I'm nuts for making that purchase). I thought we were going to lose the house.

We lost only trees and fences, but we learned a very valuable lesson. We were very ill prepared for that experience. Now, I pride myself on being one of the better prepared families in my neighborhood, if not the best prepared, but four minutes is unacceptable. We now have in place a setup that puts us in the closet with everything we need in under thirty seconds (assuming the cat can be efficiently herded).

This got me to thinking; What if we had to actually bug out and leave our home? Are we prepared? I know that I'm still extremely unprepared for such an event, so that plan is now underway.

My point is this. Never, ever, under any circumstances, should we underestimate the need to be prepared for an emergency. My experience that night could have been much worse (60 hours later we got our electric power back, but we were very well prepared to go very long lengths of time without power), so I was lucky this time. You've devoted your life to hammering this home for your readers, so I thank you, once again, for the wisdom you provide. Now, it has become very real for me to actually heed that wisdom and put it into practice. A year's supply of food means nothing to me, if its scattered over a square mile of my neighborhood. Thanks, Jim, and thank you once again for SurvivalBlog.com. God Bless, - HHH

JWR Replies: Thanks for relating that experience. Anyone living in Hurricane or Tornado country should invest in a reinforced shelter, if it is financially feasible. Ideally, it should be designed to also serve as a security vault ("gun vault") and as a fallout shelter. One of our advertisers, Safecastle, has extensive experience in building such shelters. These are usually-equipped with gun-vault type doors, that open inward. If you live in an area with a high water table, they can be constructed aboveground. If you can afford to build an entire house that is highly storm resistant, then you might consider building a monolithic dome home. One monolithic dome home contractor in the Midwest that I recommend is Bill Fraley of Global Dome Builders. Phone: (715) 926-3668.

Dear Editor:

We are fed up with the public schools. At the end of the current school year, we plan to pull our children out of public school and homeschool them. What curriculum do you recommend? Thanks, - W.J.


The Memsahib Replies: It is difficult to recommend just one brand or type of curriculum. There are many different learning styles as well different teaching styles. We really like using materials that have a Christian perspective such as . We use the Alpha Omega course books as our core curriculum. But, I also enjoy pulling in other resources to reinforce concepts, or for enrichment. We suggest that you join your local homeschooling group as soon as possible. Often homeschooling groups have used curriculum sales in May. You will have the chance to talk with the other parents and see first hand some of the materials that are out there. We can't overemphasize the importance of getting plugged-in with other homeschoolers in your area as soon as possible. These groups will be an important resource for learning all the local opportunities for co-op classes, field trips, and social activities. They'll also know the local school district and state requirements for homeschooling. They can be a real source of encouragement for new homeschoolers. (OBTW, for those of you who are using like us, please consider purchasing the curriculum using the link in our scrolling ad bar to support SurvivalBlog. Thanks!)

More fallout from the global liquidity crisis: GE Plunges as Profit Misses Estimates, Forecast Cut, and Airlines Face New Cash Challenge, and G7 Economic Powers Endorse Plan to Try to Avert Financial Crises. There will be far, far more fallout in the months to come, as the numerous industries and even national governments are starved for cash.

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Rick M. suggested an excellent article by attorney Ellen Brown: Credit Default Swaps: Derivative Disaster Du Jour. Her article keys in nicely with the background piece that I wrote more than two years ago: Derivatives--The Mystery Man Who'll Break the Global Bank at Monte Carlo. I stand by what I wrote back then. Here is a snippet from my article: "The risks, in absolute terms, are incalculable. Don't forget that directly or indirectly, central ("state") banks and national governments themselves are now inextricably tied to the derivatives trading universe. They are not just "dabbling in derivatives". Rather, they are in derivatives up to their necks. If and when the global derivatives bubble ever pops, it may topple not just trading companies like Goldman Sachs, or corporations like GM, Daimler-Chrysler, or RCA, but entire nations. I'm not kidding."

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From The Jerusalem Post: UK Paper: Iran Building 6,000 Kilometer Range Missile.

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A reader sent me some photos of an automated parking garage used by a car factory in Germany. I was curious about the photos, so I confirmed their authenticity at Snopes. I just hope that this design never gets used for public parking garages. They'd strand a lot of motorists in the event of a power failure.

"To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury. " - Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book

Saturday, April 12, 2008

We are pleased to welcome APack--our newest advertiser. They make excellent MRE-equivalent civilian storage foods.

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I have seen some (sort of) like minded people who are actually driving around in brand new vehicles. This would not be so bad if they were even in the least bit mechanically inclined, but they’re not. So on top of, they can’t fix it themselves, they haven’t even begun to buy the extras they will need when the SHTF. I honestly think that if you can’t lift the hood of your car and name at least ten components, you are in over your head.

The first thing I learned was get a Chilton's Manual for your year, make and model vehicle. Open it and look at it, take the time to actually read it. If your vehicle requires you to disconnect the transmission or pull the motor to give it a tune up, then you need to get a lot more than basic tools and spend at least three times the amount for parts that you would have to on an older vehicle.
On newer cars if you don’t maintain them, they will run badly or not at all (newer cars sensors or a clogged catalytic converter). Carburetors are easier to rebuild and repair then fuel injection units, shocks and struts are much easier in older cars and trucks, there is no fuel relay in older vehicles Those built before the mid-1970s have no computer on board and have little or no emissions control equipment, the list goes on.

I had brought up in an earlier submission the fact most people can barely check their oil in their cars and I think that this topic needs more. Your car isn’t going to run forever, it will not even make it a few months after TEOTWAWKI if it’s a newer vehicle and you have no clue. Minor problems turn into major repairs when people don’t know enough to even notice early warnings.

I drive nothing new, I prefer 1970s models (or older) to anything else on the road. Why you ask? Well first off, get into an accident in an older vehicle you see less damage to an older one than in a newer one. Newer cars and trucks are made differently. Some [have body panels that] are made of a plastic that will pop back out after an accident. Not bad right? Well not bad if the frame isn’t damaged, if it is then oh well, it gets repaired and the frame is usually weakened at that spot. With some cars and trucks the motor will drop and go under the car in a collision, then you need a new one and the body (they are made that way so you don’t end up with the motor in your lap) is still damaged. Older cars handle the abuse better and are more tolerant of missed oil changes and tune ups.

To set things up for your newer vehicle, just go to the dealer or a parts place and ask them for prices on: oil filters, O2 and other sensors, fuel filters (and how many your car has), starter, alternator, belts, hoses, distributor cap, wires, plugs, rotor and tranny filter, for starters. Then go ask your mechanic how many billable hours each of those items takes to replace (some will take about 1/3 of the time, others will take every minute of it). Then look at your Chilton’s Manual and see just what a pain it’s going to be and what specialty tools you need to buy. If your car needs the transmission unhooked while you work on some of this, then you need a tranny jack. Instead of a lift you may be able to use ramps, but be prepared it could even call for the use of a hoist.

Unless you have a fully stocked and capable garage at your retreat and you’re a mechanic, you need to buy an older vehicle. An older usable vehicle can cost as little as $500 and as much as $15,000. It really depends on what will suit your needs. A $500 dollar vehicle is going to need some work and the $15,000 one is asking people to look closer at you. Nondescript is what you need, something that will cause no one to notice you at all, not now or later.

Is there a certain type of vehicle in your area that seems more available? If there is then I would look at that one, because you will have the chance to buy parts and whole vehicles cheap. One of the vehicles I had as a kid I wish there was more of them still around, the Subaru Brat, cheap, easy, go anywhere and hard to kill, they are hard to find cheap now. Look at the local junk yards and see is they have parts for older vehicles (some only carry newer parts), that may be the biggest problem for some vehicles is the lack of good used parts. Call your local car and truck clubs there is no better way to get good deals on parts than from a member. Look in back yards as you go driving, you never know what you’ll see.

Once you decide on your retreat vehicle you should try to acquire: a parts car/truck, motor and tranny, rear and front ends, gears for them, heads and head gaskets, radiators, carbs, starters, alternators, rebuild kits, tune up parts, wheel bearings, calipers, brake lines, tire repair kit, extra rims and tires, valve stems, distributor shaft and bearings, soldering iron, solder, good hand tools, block and tackle or hoist, ramps, floor jack, line bender, breaker bar, air compressor or hand pump, multi meter and a few larger than normal sockets. Also if you need specialty tools get them now and learn how to use them. [JWR Adds: Most newer vehicles have electronic ignitions, but some of them can be retrofitted to a traditional coil and rotor. Ask your mechanic.]

Get your whole group out there and teach them the basics. If the person who does the major repairs is the only one that knows anything about the vehicles, what happens if they are not right there? As a woman, if I break down on the side of some road and can’t fix my vehicle quickly and on my own the next person who stops could be the wrong one and most states will not allow the police to help in any way except to call a tow truck. I have had to change tires, fix my headlights, run a rope from my throttle arm in through my window, drive on a rim, push my car after the drive shaft let go and sit on the radiator support to try to adjust the distributor after the bearings went bad, hold the shifter together after the bolt snapped (standard) and I can usually find a way to get me car home.

Even now I see people drive around unprepared for even the smallest emergency. Make sure that your car has: a medical bag, road flares, small [explosion proof] gas can, spare tire, jack and four-way lug wrench, flashlight, utility knife, chain, jumper cables, non-perishable snacks, water and some sort of weapon. Most states will not allow you to carry a loaded gun, so get a huge Maglite that can double as a weapon or keep a tire iron handy. The way things are today it is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.

Mr. Rawles,
I need to snag bikes for my wife and myself. We are both young and relatively fit, but we live in [Washington,] DC and take [the] metro [subway system] everywhere. We [presently] don't have bikes, and I have no knowledge about them. The [SurvivalBlog] section on guns was helpful, I was wondering if y'all had something on the most versatile bikes, by price point. Thanks. - Jordan H.

JWR Replies: These days, I generally recommend folding bicycles. Prices have come down substantially, so they are not much more expensive than standard bicycles.They are also just a s robust as most mountain bikes. The latest generation of folding bikes are quit versatile. When folded, they can fit in an apartment closet, or in the trunk of a car.And, depending on your local laws, when folded they can also be carried onboard most trains and busses. (Using an opaque carrying case seems to remove most objections.) The Montague Paratrooper bike is an excellent choice.

For Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) purposes, you might want to get panniers and perhaps cargo trailers for both bikes. Detachable pannier bags can be kept pre-packed as G.O.O.D. kits, and clipped on very quickly.

I recently got an e-mail from reader Terrence G., who claimed that the national debt figure was "meaningless" because the Federal Government could merely "create" money, at will. But I have a dose of reality: That debt is real, it is increasingly held by foreigners, and debts must be repaid. Worst of all, it is growing at an alarming rate (See: The National Debt Clock.) OBTW, after you are done reading the rest of today's blog, hit "reload" at that same site, and see how much debt our nation has accumulated in just those few minutes. Someday, our grandchildren will surely want to throttle us!

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You will recall that I predicted sharply higher municipal bond rates in 2008. Here is a news story from Alabama about the first of what I predict will be a wave of muni bond crises across the US. (A hat tip to DV for sending us the link.) OBTW, just wait until foreign holders of US Treasuries smell blood in the water and demand similarly high rates.

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Michael W. sent this article link: Survivalism Goes Mainstream As Middle Class And Wealthy Fear Breakdown Of Society

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The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) grows larger: Senate passes housing relief bill

"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome." - Isaac Asimov

Friday, April 11, 2008

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The ABCs of When the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF.) aren’t what you have prepared, acquired or stowed but even more basic in the preparation processes that we sometimes take for granted.
The A is the ability to learn, to adapt and to try. No matter how many classes we take or how much we have stored away there is the potential that we might have missed something or prepared for one scenario and ended up with another. We may be in the middle of TEOTWAWKI and not be fully ready but guess what, we aren’t scheduling it. Ability is not only applying something that we’ve learned but troubleshooting or working through something that we don’t have a clue about. We may not get it right the first time that we try something new but we have the ability to learn from our mistakes and go back to try again. We have the ability to learn from others mistakes and we have the ability to make changes or corrections that work for our scenario.

The B is the brains that we have to reason with to store our morals our life lessons and the memories that make us who we are. The best tool that we have at our disposal is our brain. So many people in day to day life just go on auto pilot and don’t think about what they can do to improve how they do something. In my line of work I hear that “I’ve done it that way for 20 years”. My response is that you’ve been doing it wrong for 20 years. We just get in the habit of doing things a certain way. We eat our meals at the same time even if we aren’t hungry just because it is the time we are conditioned to eat. We go to bed at a certain time and we get up at a certain time. As a culture we have stopped utilizing what we were born with. In my opinion that is a large part of why we are where we are today. The sheep just keep waiting for someone to lead them or fall prey to the ones that use their brains without the use of morals. If we just think about what we are about to do instead of just doing it we can prevent personal injury or emotional pain. A simple example would be when a loved one has done something that upset you and you just respond without thinking of how it would affect them or why they did it the way they did. The words are already spoken; you can’t take them back, or you’re cutting something with a knife and slice your finger or hand because you didn’t think about what you were doing. We should try to learn and practice as much as possible so it will at least be familiar if not second nature but if we haven’t seen or done it before it is still doable because we can reason and solve problems. The human race has faced challenges for thousands of years and we have always improved because we have the ability to think.

The C stands for two things, first is choice. Most of the dialog that I’ve seen on SurvivalBlog shows that we have made a choice to not be led into a place where we no longer have a choice. We all are at different stages in the process but our choice is to survive whatever we are dealt. The choice is yours for all situations, you may not be able to control the overall aspect but you make the choice of how you let it affect you. Have you ever been driving and had someone cut you off? You don’t have control over the other driver but you do have the ability to make the choice of letting the incident infuriate you or brushing the whole situation off. We all make choices of whom if anyone will be invited into our confidence or where our retreat will be. We make the choice of what type of armament we will utilize or the type of food we will store or grow. Some things are dependent on location or availability but it is still a choice. Our choices are a large part of what makes us who we are. The choice to have faith, the choice to be ready, and the choice to have morals are some choices that most of us here have made. Remember that no matter what the influences are the final choice is the one that you make. Right, wrong or indifferent it’s the choice that you will have to live with.

The second C is composure, always maintain your composure. If you keep your wits about you then you stand a better chance of surviving the situation. When you lose your composure you lose your ability to reason and react rationally. In an emergency situation time is critical and if you remain calm you will have a higher probability of doing it right the first time. In an emergency situation maintaining your composure could mean the difference between life and death. I don’t mean you have to become cold or callous but you can deal with your emotions after the situation subsides. If you don’t maintain your composure you might not get that chance.
I would like to thank my brothers in arms from all the services; they have helped me learn these lessons and have given me the opportunity to use what I was born with and strived to refine it and help it grow.

Remember that we started out without clothes and shelter. We started out without the ability to communicate over great distances without traveling them. We can now travel and communicate in space or around the planet all because we use our ability, our brains and by the choices that we make.

In my opinion we should absolutely continue to learn, store and prepare. We should choose who we will coexist with before, during and after the coming collapse, we should do that even if the collapse doesn’t come during our lifetime. We should continue to grow as an individual and as a group. We should not over analyze the solution to whatever problem we face. We should not assume failure if we missed something or we didn’t get the opportunity to get everything that we wanted. We should be thankful for what we have. We should remember how far we have come. We should use our brain to think the solution through. We should use our ability to reason and we should stay calm to prevail.
I have learned a great deal since I started reading SurvivalBlog and utilizing the links and resources available here. It has provoked the thought process of things that I hadn’t thought of or had a different approach about something.

There are many things that the survivalist practices that have become a lost art so to speak such as canning and the ability to survive without modern conveniences. We are in a society that does not know how to function without cell phones and computers but I can remember when we didn’t have them. We communicated either by land line telephone or my goodness how archaic, snail mail. Farther back in our history there was the Pony Express and even couriers.

[The author of the] Heartbreak Ridge [screenplay (James Carabatsos)] stated it best:" Improvise, adapt and overcome."

Dear Jim:

As you know, ordinary chlorine bleach is an item with a multitude of potential uses in survival situations. In addition to its common use in the laundry to brighten our whites, it can also purify drinking water and serve as a general disinfectant to sanitize food preparation areas and control the spread of disease causing bacteria.

Liquid chlorine bleach, however, is inconvenient to store. Only about 5.25% - 7.5% of each eight pound gallon is active sodium (or calcium) hypochlorite; the rest is just water. Yet because of the potency of its active ingredient, and the flimsiness of typical plastic bleach bottles, it poses a constant risk to everything stored near it.

One potential solution is to store concentrated dry chlorine granules; commonly available as swimming pool shock treatment. Available in a wide variety of sizes, swimming pool shock treatment typically contains from 50% - 60% active calcium hypochlorite, making it much lighter in weight and 10 times as concentrated as liquid bleach, but not susceptible to spilling and leaking risks. Theoretically, it should be possible to make your own chlorine bleach by simply combining the proper amount of water and dry granules.

I quickly discovered, however, that storing dry chlorine poses hazards of its own. Initially, I purchased two 1 pound plastic bags of swimming pool shock treatment and stored them in a small closet along with a variety of other preparedness items. The granules generated a strong chlorine smell in the closet, but when access was needed, opening the door for a minute or two would reduce the small to a tolerable level.

About a year later, however, I went to reorganize the closet, and was startled to find many things badly corroded by fumes from the granules. Several storage tins were badly rusted, some 200-hour emergency candles in tins were nearly rusted clear through, and the steel ends of some batteries were also corroded.

Surprisingly, even some lightweight cardboard boxes were so badly degraded that they virtually disintegrated when handled, and a 10-page document (about emergency water) which had been printed on our computer's inkjet printer was virtually erased!

To combat these problems, I bought a fresh supply of (HTH brand $3.35/lb. at Wal-Mart) chlorine granules and stored them in an all-glass canister with a glass top, rubber ring, and spring wire snap latch ($4.44 at Wal-Mart) . That has solved my storage problem.

In an article on emergency water purification, in addition to the old 10 drops of bleach per gallon of clear water or 20 drops per gallon of cloudy formula; I found this recipe for using granular pool chlorine:
For use in purifying drinking water, first prepare a stock solution of one heaping teaspoon of granules dissolved in two gallons of water. This may then be mixed at the rate of 1 part
stock solution to 100 parts water for disinfection purposes. That would equal: 1 quart for 25 gallons, 6 1/2 ounces for five gallons, or 2 Tbsp. per gallon.

Jim, I wish you could help me find out: How much dry chlorine would be needed to make a one gallon batch of standard 5.25% chlorine bleach? I haven't been able to find that information anywhere! These HTH granules are 54% calcium hypochlorite. Perhaps you or one of your chemistry-savvy readers could figure-out the correct formula. Sincerely, - Steve W

JWR Replies:

It is best to keep your sodium hypochlorate in powdered form until just before it is used. Once it is put in solution, it weakens over time. This can create confusion about its remaining concentration when it is eventually used to treat water. Back in June of 2007, SurvivalBlog reader Terry M. kindly provided some useful details on treating water with both commonly available forms of hypochlorate powder. Perhaps some readers would care to chime in about the dry measure required for making each gallon of liquid bleach. (I'm not a chemist!)

I was glad to see that gold touched $940 per ounce yesterday morning. The fact that it did so, just one day after announcement of a 403 ton IMF gold sale was quite encouraging. At this point, I don't think the central banks will be able to stop the precious metals bull market without doing something drastic. The banksters will start to get nervous once gold passes $1,200 USD per ounce. And at $1,580 (which roughly equals €1,000 Euros per ounce), they will get truly desperate. At that point, both the Dollar and the Euro will be recognized as the toilet paper that they truly are. If gold gets that high, look for some desperate measures. These could include: more gold sales and leasing (the central banks hold nearly 40,000 tons!), increases in margin requirements on the COMEX, restrictions on taking physical delivery of futures contracts by all but industrial users, changes in tax laws that would tax gold while it is held (rather than just when it is sold), and perhaps even FDR-style restrictions on private ownership of gold bullion. There could be some sharp declines, but look at those dips as buying opportunities, since we are still in a primary bull market cycle, and it will likely continue for at least five more years.

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RBS found us this: California real estate--nowhere near the bottom yet.

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Celebrate April 19th with Appleseed! The Appleseed Project is celebrating the 233rd anniversary of “the shot heard round the world” by sponsoring 14 weekend marksmanship classes simultaneously, all across this great nation, from Florida to California

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Despite their massive vote-rigging, Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF won only 97 seats in the House of Assembly, versus 110 for the opposition. "Former Communist" dictator Robert Mugabe is dragging his feet about leaving power. Hopefully the hyperinflation-ravaged country will be spared an inter-tribal civil war. (Mugabe and his supporters are from the majority Mashona tribe, while the opposition was organized by the minority Ndebele tribe, with a stronghold in Matabeleland.) The economy is a total shambles. Clearly, Comrade Mugabe and his henchmen are doomed to lose power. It is not "if", but "when."

"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't stupidity get us out? - Will Rogers

Thursday, April 10, 2008

After more than two years without a change, we recently increased our advertising rates by an average of 20%. The good news is that our readership has more than quadrupled in the past two years, so our advertisers are still gettng a real bargain. (Especially when you consider that some other blogs with readership of the same scale charge up to $1,500 for banner ad!)

When shopping for preparedness gear, please patronize our paid advertisers first. If they don't have what you need, then check out our Affiliate advertisers, such as Nitro-Pak, Lehman's, and Northern Tool . With any of our advertisers, please mention where you saw their ad. Thanks!

If you are a regular SurvivalBlog reader, the odds are that you already have the majority of your key logistics squared away, like food storage, tools, guns, communications gear. So now it is time to stock up on "soft" and perishable items. These include over the counter medications, vitamins, chemical light sticks, matches, paper products, cleansers, spices, liquid fuels, and so forth.

You need to exercise caution when stockpiling soft items, for several reasons:

1.) Shelf Life and Deterioration. Some items like pharmaceuticals, batteries, and chemical light sticks are best stored in a refrigerator. Keep in mind that items like matches are vulnerable to humidity. (BTW, do not store matches in Mason type glass jars! Resist the urge, or else you'll inadvertently make a glass shrapnel bomb! Instead, use a vacuum sealer, such as the Tilia FoodSaver sealers sold by Ready Made Resources. This is also a great way to keep rubber bands (including elastrator bands) from deteriorating. Exposure to sunlight, or heat, or moisture can all be deleterious to soft goods.

2.) Bulkiness. Paper products like paper towels, toilet paper, and paper napkins are extremely bulky, per dollar value. If you have limited storage space then you will need to budget that space carefully.

3.) Flammability. You should think of your stored paper products as house fire tinder, and your stored liquid fuels as potential fire accelerants and explosives. One mistake that that I've heard mentioned is storing numerous gasoline cans at home, in an attached garage. Most garages have a hot water heater, often fired by natural gas or propane. Uh oh! Store gas cans, oil-based paint cans, and bulk lubricants only in a well-ventilated outbuilding that is well-removed from your residence. Be sure to check your state and local fire code for permissible limits.

4.) OPSEC risk. The aforementioned bulk of stored paper products also makes them obtrusive to casual observers. This present s an OPSEC risk. If you have 500 rolls of toilet paper and paper towels in your garage, someone is likely to notice. OBTW, one item that I've stored as a potential barter item is sheet plywood. Those extra plywood sheets, if properly positioned can keep prying eyes away from your stockpiles.

5.) Abundance-Inspired Waste. Human nature dictates that when something is scarce, it is used frugally, but when it is abundant, it tends to get used more wastefully. I've seen this happen with my children, in target practice with .22 rimfire ammunition. If they know that they have just 50 rounds apiece available for a shooting session, they make every shot count. But if there is a full "brick" of ammo sitting there, it soon starts to sound like a day at Knob Creek.

In his book The Alpha Strategy, John Pugsley mentioned some friends that "invested" in stocking their own home wine cellar. They determined that it would be less expensive to buy wine by the case. But they soon had so much wine that they got in the habit of having a bottle with dinner almost every evening. So even though the per-bottle cost decreased, their monthly expense on wine actually doubled! OBTW Pugsley's The Alpha Strategy is highly recommended. It is available for free download, but I recommend also picking up a used copy, for reference. They are often available through Amazon.com for less than $5.

Mr. Rawles and Fellow SurvivalBlog Readers-
I am recovering today from having oral surgery yesterday. It was not a tooth that was in pain but one that could give me trouble at any inopportune time. As a family we have been getting all our dental, vision including extra glasses and contacts, and other various health concerns taken care of now. After everything hits the fan or even during this coming economic crisis, getting good medical care may be a challenge. I wouldn't want to imagine having the dental work I had done yesterday performed as a "do it yourself" job. Don't procrastinate getting even a chronic ingrown toenail fixed! Things will be hard enough without extra health concerns. - Mt. Momma

Dear JWR,
The prices for wheat and soy and orchard grass crop seed have risen 40% in our region this spring. And that is the farm supply co-op pricing. The N and Phos. fertilizer is pretty well matching this increase. Lime is only 20% higher than last fall. Most of the larger crop farmers (200 acres or more) in our eastern central area (which 5 years ago used to be primarily tobacco fields) are now counting on a moderate to large profit in return because these edible cash crops are being currently negotiated and purchased in bulk to be shipped to China (soy) and Egypt (wheat). The corn crops grown locally are being sold for US bio-fuel production.

Heads up! If you have large farm animals and poultry, put up a one year reserve of feed grains and feed hay or fodder now, if you can find it for a reasonable bulk purchase price and get busy breaking ground on that fallow pasture land and start planting your own rotational plots of grasses for hay, forage and feed grains! I am perplexed to how many people are selling off completely or drastically reducing the numbers of their large farm animals now at a time that they should bare caution in their reflexive reactions. Consider that this may not be the best resolution as a result of the price increases of the grains.

This is the time to ride the grain increase out until they can become self sufficient in their own home grown supply and to stock up on seed. The prices will only get much higher in a year. If they can just hold out until their own grains come on line, the inflationary prices to come will make the value of those animals worth triple or quadruple their price in the short coming years. Trying to buy new livestock is not going to get cheaper either. Now is not the time to be selling off your extra edible or working farm animals. This is a time to hold and make yourselves busy as self sufficient farmers. We're now in this for the long haul! Think for the long term future, not just for today. - KAF

RBS flagged this: Food Prices Soar as Farmers Bail on Corn.

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Horton suggested some good commentary by Aubie Baltin, posted over at Gold-Eagle: A Time for Reflection

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Ready Made Resources now sellsan inexpensive and lightweight solar oven that works quite well. The stove with shipping (in the US) is just $44.95

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Bill from Ohio kindly sent us a plethora of recent news article links related to the world's now scant food supplies:

Food riots in Haiti: BBC article and YouTube video.

Rising prices around the world

Rice price hits Philippines poor

Asians hit by rice pinch

World food shortages to stay: riots at risk

India and Africa urge a re-think of biofuels

New Zealand food prices demand food strategy

"We maintain [privately-owned] arms largely because we seek to prevent violence. Those that wish to disarm us do so that they may perpetrate it with impunity." - R. Murray

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Naish Piazza very graciously just sent me a double-helping of Front Sight course certificates. So the writer of the best non-fiction article for SurvivalBlog's non-fiction writing contest will now win two of the valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (So this top prize is now worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Here is the latest writing contest entry:

I have adopted many animals over the years and come to realize that sometimes you do get great things for free, other times you get hurt. How do you pick the right animals for you and your family? Do you get an animal just to suit one purpose or do you get a mutt that will hopefully fit the bill? How do you choose the right one?

For dogs, first talk to someone who has the breed of dog you are most interested in and find out about inherent defects and temperament problems. If you have kids or grandkids make sure the dogs are safe to have around them. Unless you get your dog trained, try not to get a very dominant breed, they will sometimes fight the alpha for the position and it can really damage both you and the dog. Remember the police departments stay away from females for patrol dog work for a reason--they do have a tendency to be flighty when in season. Decide early if you are going to alter or not, as when the grid goes down, you may lose the option.

A good dog, there are many, but not enough people that know how to pick the one that suits. I have seen many animals go to the shelter because they got too big, didn’t house break well, were hard to train, stubborn or was brought in and treated like a child, then along came a child and the dog got jealous. Many a hunting dog has been turned out due to being gun shy or lost due to poor training. Down here, some people have no clue where their coon hound is for days or weeks.

Remember that a pet is a pet and a working dog needs to be a working dog. No coddling, no sneaking treats. The family or group needs to be on board totally. It doesn’t take long to undo any training. Most states do have laws that might hinder your keeping your dog outside at all times, only suggestion is to build a really nice dog house that is insulated or move to a less oppressive state.
I have also learned that there is no replacing good training for any dog. Considering the link from S. Africa that was mentioned on the blog, it would be a good idea to train your dog not to take food from anyone but you. Not barking to reveal location, staying down until attacking, and hold and release are important now and later. If you want your guard dog to not get you sued now, you need to do bite work with an experienced trainer. You need them perimeter trained so they will not leave your property for anything unless you ask it. Protect your investment.

If you do not live full time at your retreat, make your animals bug out bags and make at least one trial run before the big day. Stock your retreat with dog food (watch the expiration dates, when dog food goes bad your dog will get sick and have the runs for days). You must also consider extra water for the animals, write down how much each animal drinks per day and that will give an idea of what to prepare. If you have three weeks of water for you, you need it for them too. If your dog stresses out, make sure you have a caloric supplement on hand. If they get car sick, give them motion sickness pills (made for humans, works on animals, too). Buy a muzzle, if the dog gets hurt you’ll be thankful you have one.

Your dog's essentials: at least two leashes, crate, muzzle, nail clippers, food for the move, water for the move, collapsible bowls for food and water, first aid kit and medicines. Put index cards in your dog's bug out bag, so that if it’s something less than TEOTWAWKI you can write down info on your dog and yourself, so if you get sent someplace other than your retreat, you will be able to get your dog back. This was a nightmare after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and now we have serious problems with feral animals and the population in general, because owners failed to identify their dogs or themselves. We won’t even mention the ones left with little or no food and water because no one in Louisiana or Mississippi believed that it could happen (even though it had happened before, in 1918).

Now for horses, if you think you’re going to need one in the future, the time to learn about them is now. The day in the life of a horse owner: 6 am and time to feed (2 sections of hay if no grass is available and grain if you need it), water and turn out (unless you have just pasture, in that case you need to check your horse over well to make sure he didn’t run himself through in the night), muck stalls. Been 8 weeks the horse needs a trim (unless you have a farrier close by, this means you do it), depending on where you live he may need new shoes. So you pick out all 4 hooves and get out the frog trimmer and the [hoof] rasp (a big file) and don’t trim too far or you’ll be walking for the next four or more weeks. Brushing your horse may seem like fun for him (it is) but it also gives you time to look him over for injuries or disease. If he has no cover he can get rain rot (fungus) and cause you to have to bathe him. Smell the hoof as you clean, if it smells funky it is hoof rot (thrush) and needs to be tended to (bleach mixture or Thrush X).

If you have never broken a horse to ride, don’t start when you’re 40, buy a well broken horse so you can learn more and not get killed in the process. Riding a green horse is more about the work you do on the ground, before you ever get on the horse. Breaking to ride isn’t just getting on and praying. It’s about trust and having the horse know you aren’t going to hurt him. Unless you’re huge you can’t bully a horse and not get hurt. One simple rule for horses is – once you have control of the head the body follows. John Lyons does a wonderful training seminar and it is available on DVDs, if you’re bent on going start to finish do it that way.

Make sure your horse ground ties (stops when the reins are dropped and stays), work him over plastic, use him to haul deer out of the woods and work him so that you can fire a gun near him. Do that by starting with a cap gun in the same pen as the horse after he sees it. Then work your way up. Do it until he acts as if it’s nothing with the cap gun, then move to a .22.

The horse should reside full time at your retreat or at a full care facility near it. The horse will probably weigh in at 1,000 pounds plus and not something you want to stress yourself or him over trying to move a huge distance when there is a problem. There are going to be a lot of people trying to get out or get in and to wait last minute with a large animal, is just asking for trouble.

A horse bug out bag is a tough one, hay for the ride and water, first aid kit with an extra halter and a few leads. Wrap his legs before you leave, so he won’t damage them in the trailer. Bring a good hunk of cloth because if it gets bad, cover the horses’ eyes and he will calm down. Make sure your retreat is stocked with hay and grain, medicines you may need and buckets. - TD

Mr, Rawles,
Greeting from Kentucky. I read your page very often, and have been doing so even more so lately. I read the articles, and your concerns of what is going on, and what you think will happen in the future of this great country. I try to look around and see my daily routine with family, church, work and normal everyday activities and say "no, no this can't be happening." Just look around! Everybody is so oblivious, everything continues as it always has, I don't see the worry on anybody's faces, much less in their actions. So I keep trying to tell myself, it "won't happen to me!" But deep in my heart, and with all the articles I have read here, and now these things/stories are starting to end up in the mainstream news if you watch for them, I can not fool myself any longer. I agree it is just around the corner.

I read your advice about getting into tangibles. I have tried very hard to save, and save, and be a investor for "the long haul". I want to take out and invest in that piece of land somewhere, but how do I get my hard earned years of Army Flight Officer pay that I dutifully put away, and all the 401(k) items, and other investment tools liquidated to be able to invest in a retreat property without getting whacked by the tax man?

I no longer store away as much as I use to, but spend that available cash on other tangibles you have so often mentioned. Gold, silver, ammo, and other supplies that will be hard to get when it all goes. But my biggest purchase evades me because of the taxman shadow looming over me. I have three growing teenage kids, and a strong 20+ year marriage, I can't just pack up and head for the hills. But I want to be prepared to do it. Any hint of some advice? Thanks, - Zed

JWR Replies: Life is full of compromises. If you plan on staying in Kentucky after your ETS (I assume that you are at Fort Campbell), then you might look for retreat-worthy properties in Montgomery County with shallow wells or better yet with gravity-fed spring water--but still in reasonable commute distance to your duty station.

In today's dead real estate market, sellers are desperate, so you might get a seller to agree to sell you a purchase option on a house on acreage with a monthly lease. This agreement would credit the lease payments to the purchase price. This protects you three ways: 1.) If the dollar starts to inflate, you will have a locked-in purchase price, and 2.) If you move (PCS, or decide to settle elsewhere after ETS), all you are out is the cost of the option, and what you paid on the lease.3.) If house and land prices collapse, you can simply not exercise the option, and buy another property elsewhere.

Regardless, you should roll your 401(k) into a Gold IRA. (Talk to Swiss America.) There is no tax hit for a simple rollover.

If gold zooms up past $2,500 per ounce, and the economy simultaneously flashes the master warning light and starts to autorotate, you then pay the penalties and cash out part or all of the gold IRA and exercise your land purchase option with gold or cash.

This is not a perfect solution, but it is something that will provide you a safe haven, yet you won't have to take a tax hit. YMMV.

Naish Piazza, the director of Front Sight sent me some of the frequently asked questions about the "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer that I mentioned in SurvivalBlog last week.

1.) What kind of Springfield Armory XD Pistol is given away in this offer?
A Standard Model 4" Barrel XD in your choice of 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP. The perfect balance for good gun handling, power, speed and concealability.

2.) Is it 4 days or 5 days of training at Front Sight?
You attend Front Sight's flagship Four Day Defensive Handgun Course, the course everyone raves about and then stay one extra day for Front Sight 30 State Concealed Weapon Permit Course so you can get more advanced concealed carry training and walk away with everything you need, certificates, fingerprints, and photos to secure CCWs in Florida, Nevada, and Utah. With reciprocity laws, these three permits allow you to carry concealed in over 30 states!

3.) When do I have to attend the course?
The certificate you received from Front Sight has no expiration date so you can use it at any time in the future. Even when Front Sight's courses increase in price, your certificate is inflation proof and will allow you to attend at no extra charge.

4.) How often does Front Sight offer this course?
Front Sight offers their Four Day defensive Handgun course and 30 State Concealed Weapon Permit Course at least twice per month, every month except July and August.

5.) What days of the week are the courses held? If taking the full five days, the courses start on Friday and ends on Tuesday, so you don't have to miss an entire week of work, just a couple of days.

6.) Can I purchase the ammunition I need at Front Sight?
Yes. You can either bring factory new ammunition with you or purchase it from Front Sight's pro shop.

7.) How far away is lodging?
Most students stay at one of three hotels within a 20 minute drive from Front Sight's world-class 550 acre training facility. Hotel rates range from $40 per night to $75 per night.

8.) How do I get to Front Sight?
It is easy and inexpensive. Simply fly to Las Vegas, Nevada, rent a car, and drive to Pahrump. Front Sight is a 45 minutes drive from Las Vegas or 20 minute drive from Pahrump. Las Vegas is one of the least expensive cities in the world to fly into from just about anywhere in the US.

9.) How long do I have to take advantage of Front Sight's offer?
Not long. The US Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) members have already surpassed the original number of guns and courses Dr. Piazza set aside for them. I was able to get him to extend the offer but he only did so with the understanding that he could stop it at any time with 48 hours notice, so take advantage of it immediately.

10.) Where can I get more information about Front Sight and their courses?
Go to Front Sight's web site and click on the link, Front Sight Experience A-Z for answers to most if not all of your questions.

Well, I hope this answers most of your questions about this offer. Don't forget, Dr. Piazza can end this promotion with very little warning. If you're thinking of taking advantage of this great deal, then now is the time to take action.


My name is Ed and I am a paramedic in central Mississippi. Last month a private ambulance service shut down with only eight hours notice that they would stop operations, leaving 26 counties without 911 Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Other local providers and services were able to help provide coverage. But this is difficult with increasing fuel cost, the ongoing War on Terror and overseas deployments, shortages of personnel and lack of payments from medicare and medicaid and people without any coverage. These are all are driving the remaining ambulance providers out of business. Be safe out there! - Ed

The magic credit tap is turned off: Citigroup, Wells Fargo May Loan Less After Downgrades Meanwhile, we read: Fed members worried about deep recession

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A reader mentioned that Cme Brew is offering a special "stock up" price of $168 (plus shipping) for 50 pounds of current crop, gourmet Arabica coffee beans for home roasting. These beans will store for up to three years. They also have bulk teas in 1 kilo (2.2 lbs.) glass lined, heat sealed bags. Chun Mee, and Special Gunpowder "Temple of Heaven" green teas are $22 per kilo, plus shipping. Each kilo will make about 400-to-500 six ounce servings. Larger orders can qualify for deeper discounts. Tell Charlie at Cme Brew that you heard about it at SurvivalBlog. Phone: 1-800-567-6238

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Bill N. found a forum discussion string that has given him yet another reason to buy older vehicles.

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The folks at ARF-com are all abuzz about possible US production of Steyr AUG-A3s in the near future. If I had to carry a .233, then the AUG would be my choice, mit Trijicon ACOG. (But of course, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool .308 fan. We mainly have L1A1s here at the Rawles Ranch.)

"A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen." - Winston Churchill

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I dislike the way that the New York Times often posts articles as a teaser for only the first 24 hours of publication, and then requires a registered "free" subscription. (Grumble, grumble.) If the NYT site link stops working, then here is a site that has re-posted Sunday's "Duck and Cover: It’s the New Survivalism" article, although it is sans the original links.

I wanted your opinion on something. I raise Quarter horses, mostly show prospects and have done this for a lifetime. I own the stallion, I do the breeding of my own mares and ship [straws of frozen] semen all over the country for others. I also train outside horses for a living. As you well know the horse economy like everything else is going down the tubes. I have been down sizing for the past three years as the Holy Spirit has prompted [my string] going [down] from 60 to 30. I did not breed any of my mares back this year and my focus is continuing to downsize. I know the job these horses were bred for is no longer going to be available. They will be needing a new job. My question to you is, do you think there would be a market through SurvivalBlog for any of my stock? I breed for good minds, great bones and of course movement (which I understand would not matter to a survivalist) disposition and beauty. These are hearty horses, I believe they could make great work horses, pack horses or just about anything you asked them to be. I think the catch for the horses I would have available would be the fact that some are untrained 2 and 3 year olds. I'm madly working on breaking this last big group, but I can only ride so many a day.
It is just a passing idea. This is my web site if you want to take a peek at what I have. Thanks for your time and honesty. God Bless, - Merry

JWR Replies: In the short term, it might be a good idea to reduce your breeding stock, but in the long term, your brood mares may make you wealthy. I'm sure that some SurvivalBlog readers will be contacting you, particularly looking for mares.

One of the biggest concerns for horse owners, at present, is the high price of feed. The global grain shortage has pushed up feed prices tremendously. Because grain prices will remain high, I expect hay prices to stay high, in sympathy. (Markets are all about supply and demand.) It didn't help that last spring and summer were dry in the western US, and most hay growers only got one marketable cutting. This pushed hay prices up to insane prices. This prompted many cattlemen and horse breeders to thin their herds.

In the long term, however, high fuel prices and spot shortages will likely cause a resurgent interest in working horses. This is most likely in regions with lush pasture and plentiful hay. In the arid west, where hay is a product of circular irrigation, working horses probably won't make quite so strong a comeback.

In a post-Peak Oil collapse, horse breeding stock--for both draft horses and saddle horses--would be like gold.

My advice: If you don't have extensive pastures and own your own hay ground and hence buy a lot of hay each year, then thin your string of brood mares down to just your very best couple of dozen, for the next few years. However, maintain your ranch infrastructure, so that you can "ramp up" to larger production, if need be. Do not sell off any pasture ground, hay ground, stock panels, or haying equipment! Also, hang on to every saddle and piece of tack that you own. In fact, if you have the chance to buy more tack (as the horse market continues to crash), and you have a secure storage space that will keep it safe from mold and mice, then invest in more tack. Doing so will take advantage of the fire sale prices on tack that we will no doubt see for the next few years. To amplify on our previous exchange of e-mail: You can breed horses, but you can't breed tack. In a few years, all those new horse buyers will be screaming for saddles and tack! Buy low and sell high.

One ironic situation we may see in the next decade: All over rural America, there are antique horse-drawn hay mowers that are now rusting away as yard ornaments. I predict that many of them will be oiled up and pressed into service. Hopefully, they won't be too far gone.

This is in response to TDs’ article on Retreat Livestock Guardians. My wife and I left the computer industry about 10 years ago and established our little retreat in N.E. Texas. We have 60 acres with a stream, couple of livestock ponds, well, and a cistern. We presently have as livestock: Boer goats, horses, donkeys – (both standard and what is called Giant), pigs, ducks, and chickens. And of course several cats. Cats keep the snakes, tarantulas, rodents, and other small nuisances away from the house and barns.

Why I am writing is because when we moved out here from Dallas, all the local livestock producers were just going on and on about the Great Pyrenees as guardian animals. So, when we purchased our first set of goats, (20 females and 1 male), we built two pens for them. One for birthing, and one for the male to reside with the females until time for birthing.

What I found out about the Pyrenees [breed] was absolutely true. The one we acquired from another established breeder became part of the herd, and was every bit as described by TD in his article, except for one thing. These animals bark at anything and everything. Especially at night. When our first one was a puppy, I was really impressed with her, because she bonded with the animal and family right off. Was very quiet, and was very little maintenance. Until she turned about a year old. Then the barking started. And never stopped. If a leaf was blown across the pasture at night, that animal went off like an air raid siren. Wife thought if we got her a mate, that that might reduce the barking. So, we acquired a male from another breeder, this one the same age as our female. Well, then we had two alarms going off every night at anything. Armadillos, possums, skunks, squirrels, deer, and I mean anything that moves at night, these two sounded off. And they are quite large, male approximately – 90 pounds, female approximately – 75 pounds, and quite loud.

Even though we enjoyed the personalities and the great job these two did with the herds, when trying to have a retreat where the main entrance and most of the acreage is concealed and not very recognizable from the road, the noise these two made could be heard literally for about a mile. So even though they performed to expectations, for the purpose of our retreat, they were a liability. I also checked with other livestock producers in the area that had these animals, and found out that this is the norm and not the exception. All of these livestock guardian dogs have a tendency to be excessively loud at night. And that is just unacceptable for the operation and purpose of this retreat. So now the donkeys are fulfilling that obligation. The two standard donkeys are in with the horses. And the two giants are in with the goats.

I have got to say, I am very, very satisfied with the results. I have watched the two standard donkeys go after a couple of coyotes with absolutely not fear at all. Ears laid back and not a sound. Just full speed ahead, then both in a coordinated attack run off any and all predators. The two giants, since they are in the pens with the goats, have not yet had to demonstrate their abilities, because watching through night vision goggles, I have just watched the predators emerge from the tree lines, take one look at the donkeys, and fade back into the woods. Guess they already had altercations with their kind before.

One thing that I was worried about, was what I had heard about donkey braying at all hours. Both daytime and nighttime. I have not found that to be the case. So far, the only time these animals bray, is at feeding time. And then, only somewhat quietly. Really no louder than the ducks. On a side note: You want a good nighttime early warning system- Ducks. Normal varmints, coons, skunks, possums, whatever can wander all around and the ducks will not emit any noise unless they try to get into the pen that the ducks are locked up in every night. But let anything larger, or not normally supposed to be around that time of night show up…. And those ducks are alerting everyone and everything. Wife and I are really attuned to sleeping peacefully throughout the night, subconsciously filtering out all the normal nocturnal noises until the ducks go off. Then I up and out the door in a flash, armed and looking for the cause of the alarm.

This is not to say we are not looking for some sort of canine. I do believe that one is a necessity, but we just have to find the right breed. One thing we have been talking about, to suite the needs out here is a type of dog I had before joining the Marine Corps. It was called a Basenji. This breed is a descendent of African wild dog that does not have the capability of barking. The one I had was always silent unless growling or a kind of whimper when feeding time was at hand. The dog actually prevented a burglary of my apartment one night. I was asleep in the back bedroom, and the dog must have heard the perp quietly knock out a pane of glass next to the front door. You know how apartments are not really made for security. Anyway I was woke up by a loud yell of someone in pain. I dressed and turned on the lights in the living room, and sitting by the window was that little Basenji with quite a bit of blood around his mouth and on the surrounding windowsills. Apparently, as the perp reached through to try to unlock the door, the little do just waited until the perfect opportunity, and latched on. Let me tell you, for a relatively little animal, about 45 pounds, the dog has quite a set of jaws on him. These dogs are known for clamping down on an extremity and not letting go. Not just a bite and release. Now as far as little children, these little dogs just love them. They will endure just about anything from children. Very loyal animals and very quick learners. Obedient and smart. Now, how they will do out here [at our ranch] I don’t know yet. But it looks like we are going to give one a try and see how it works.
Anyway, just wanted to put in my two cents worth in about the dogs in a retreat environment. The livestock guard dogs, in a non-SHTF environment, like the Pyrenees are absolutely wonderful, and exactly as described by TD. But – When you do not want your location to be compromised by unnecessary and excessive barking, maybe an alternative is needed. Respectfully, - B.W.

Remember how I predicted that the global credit crisis would spawn a wave of forced buy-outs, mergers, acquisitions, and liquidations? Here is news of another one: Washington Mutual close to $5 billion deal with TPG, others. Be prepared for more mergers, many of which will be cases of "strange bedfellows" involving credit unions, pension funds, and perhaps even cities (municipal bonds). Derivatives contract defaults will indeed force some very odd partnerships and salvage operations. If managers' only options are bankruptcy or buying out the counterparty to a derivative, then guess which they will choose?

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Frequent contributor KAF found this story abut a high speed successor to the Internet: 'The Grid' Could Soon Make the Internet Obsolete. FWIW, I think that "The Grid" was a poor choice of names, since it will cause confusion vis-a-vis the power grid. I think that "The Matrix" would be a better moniker.

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Craig suggested an article posted at The Folsom Telegraph: The Banking 'Crisis' ...It's a Big Club and You Ain't In It

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Spot gold and silver seem to be resuming their bull charge, as expected. There will undoubtedly be a few more scary dips, but consider those buying opportunities in what is otherwise a secular bull market. Meanwhile, we read: Gasoline Prices Add to Record Gains. and Experts Predict Imminent Oil Squeeze. There are two was of looking at these events: A bull market in commodities, or a bear market in the US Dollar. But either way, the place you need to be is out of dollars! Speaking of silver, see: Fuel for thought: Quarter-a-gallon gas special makes cents

"Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders." - President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Monday, April 7, 2008

Thanks for all the many positive comments about the New York Times article (Sunday, April 6, 2008), titled "Duck and Cover: It's the New Survivalism", where I was quoted. The article has helped generate lots of extra first-time visits to SurvivalBlog. (An amazing 12,003 unique visits on Sunday, which is usually our slowest day of the week!) To all you newbies that want a quick start: Read the "About" page, and then read my first few weeks of posts from 2005, starting at the bottom of the page and working your way up.

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction lot is now at $230. This auction is for four items: a MURS Alert Base station, a MURS Alert Hand-held transceiver, an earbud, and a Kaito KA-1102 AM/FM/Shortwave. These radios were kindly donated by the owner of Affordable Shortwaves and MURS Radios. If you aren't familiar with the Dakota Alert infrared perimeter security system, take a few minute to look at the Dakota Alert web site. These alarms are very reliable and versatile. I often recommend them to my consulting clients--especially those that plan to have lightly-manned retreats. You can easily set up multiple detector/transmitter sensors to provide 360 degree perimeter security for a large area. Instead of just a generic alarm, they will let you know which sensor was tripped, via a computer-generated voice message to a radio that you can carry on your belt. (Such as "Alert, Zone Two.") The same radio can be used for point-to-point voice communications, on the little-used MURS band. The three radios have a retail value of $210, plus shipping. The auction ends on April 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr. Editor:
This spring is turning into a "yard and garden" wake up call. This winter is the first one I can remember in 29 years of owning this property where there was so much snow that the ground has been completely covered since the beginning of December until now [(early April)]. I still have shady spots with 18 to 24" today. It is melting but it going to take a while. The piles by my driveway will be there until June. But [as the snow has receded] the thing we are finding is that the rabbits, mice and other rodents have trashed our yard and gardens like never before.

The rabbits--[the ones] that the dog did not catch--ate darn near anything above the snow. They have made a mess of my raspberries, blueberries and grapes to the point where I don't know if the plants will survive or will have to be replaced. Thank goodness I have 48" fencing around my cherry and apple trees. Oh, and as far as the dog is concerned, we have a Bernese Mountain Dog. The snow was too deep for her to run and to catch many rabbits anyway.

The mice had an "under the snow tunnel system " made and they ate all my wife's tulip bulbs, and all her other ornamental bulbs. They are my chives, parsley, basil, sage etc.They have holes all over the yard. They even ate the phlox. We didn't see the damage until now, and the hawks didn't see the mice, because they were under the snow.

My point here is that as our climate changes, we need to be expecting nature to adjust and not always for human benefit. If the Schumer Hits the Fan (SHTF) perhaps some of our best laid plans will be destroyed by the other living things on the planet that need to eat in the winter. - Carl R.


[Regarding the letter from DS in Wisconsin:] Maybe and I mean maybe there would be someone to care for a injured or sick member of your retreat group or a doctor or nurse to look at them, probably not. If you have the gas to get them there. If you can leave enough security at the retreat and enough security to take with you. Remember, this is The End of the World as we Know It (TEOTWAWKI). There are several books that should be in a medical library you might already have them: Where There is No Doctor, Where There is No Dentist, and Emergency War Surgery. There are more, but to me these are the first books that I would choose. Your training would be one of the best barter jobs I can think of. You can't call it practicing medicine without a license. You would be a Healer or Doctor for your area. Remember this is not the world as it was. I don’t think enough people put enough emphasis on medical [training and supplies] for there preparations. I truly don’t mean the foregoing to sound mean. - Lee (Once a Marine, always a Marine)

Dear JWR:
I felt (along with protracted pushing from my wife) that a response to the honest and logical questions raised by DS in Wisconsin was warranted. This is coming from a long term preparer who is a practicing anesthesiologist with internal medicine training and the husband of a “retired” ER/ICU RN. If we are talking about a scenario where transportation is problematic, one needs to look in the mirror and determine if you are able and willing to do what needs to be done. While training and experience are crucial, the idea of limiting one’s actions based on whether or not it is within an individual’s “licensed” scope of practice is problematic. In a survival situation, one should do what he/she is capable of doing and let the legal dust settle out later (i.e. Good Samaritan Laws, etc.). I can honestly say that in the absence of a fully stocked and staffed Operating Room (OR), anybody with a little training, and preferably a little experience, could perform 90+% of the “medical” interventions I could perform.

During the American Civil War, a good example of an era prior to “modern” medicine with large displaced populations, the vast majority of deaths (including military units) was from infections and communicable diseases. Actual combat deaths were a significant minority. Above all else, sanitation alone, has contributed the most to increasing the life expectancy of humans. This is where I have a major problem with the idea promoted in the article by Keith in Minnesota (The Home Chicken Flock for Self-Reliance) where he suggests building immunity by constant exposure to pathogens. You do not need an MD or RN license to practice good sanitation or isolation from communicable diseases.

In the same vein as sanitation, preventive medicine is a strong contributor to life expectancy, and is more crucial now before TEOTWAWKI. If you have a gallbladder which is acting up or a problematic tooth, you should get those things addressed now while “licensed” professionals have fully stocked offices and ORs. Given the upcoming elections (and global conditions such as food shortages), your time frame for addressing these issues should likely be within 9-to-12 months.

Finally, let me address the core issue raised by DS in Wisconsin, namely the occurrence of major injury or illness in bad times. This is where a crucial paradigm shift in thought has to occur in people with medical/nursing training and/or experience. Most people in the health care community see a major injury and immediately think “ship it” to somebody or someplace else to deal with the problem. In the OR (frequently the “final common pathway” for these problems), for better or worse, we have a very fatalistic viewpoint imposed on us. Some injuries and illnesses are simply not survivable and we have accepted the fact that there will be some losses. This is a very hard thing to come to grips with while maintaining stable mental health. In my own personal case, I find comfort in the fact that I can (usually) say that I did everything I was capable of doing in the situation. Hindsight and after-action evaluation may find some deficiency, but this process should be viewed as a learning tool rather than finger pointing. Pathologic depression and protracted feelings of guilt take a major toll on healthcare providers in “critical care” areas such as ER, ICU and OR. It is difficult to explain, but there is a particular serenity in being able to accept that despite the fact that mistakes were made, one did the best he could in the heat of battle. This paradigm shift will be very difficult for many in the healthcare field. I think it would be difficult to accept that my efforts were not optimal because of some self imposed limitation such as “scope of practice”, but others may find comfort in this view. I would simply implore you to try and do everything you are capable of doing.

In the case of major injury or illness, the largest improvement in survivability will come from stopping bleeding and replacing lost intravascular volume. If major organ damage is done (such as liver, heart or brain), one has to accept that death is a likely outcome, even in the best of times (with fully stocked and staffed ORs). The problem is that there is nobody to “ship it” to, and the implications that has on the mental health of the person providing care. Apart from this, it is the rare injury, where bleeding has been stopped and intravascular fluids replaced, where immediate survival is not possible. In the case of a self limited illness like Salmonella poisoning, continued supportive care with fluid replacement will likely be all that is possible, and probably all that is necessary. For wounds and other injuries, limiting infection and supportive care will again likely be all that is possible (and likely all that is necessary). Keeping a wound clean and removing devitalized tissue is something any person (healthcare provider or not) should be capable of doing with training. One does not need to go digging for the bullet (as in Hollywood lore). In the OR, bullet removal is usually incidental to following the tract of the bullet to repair damage, not specifically to find it.

As far as material preparation, as a healthcare provider, I would suggest a stock of items which will help with these two critical areas, namely stopping bleeding and replacing lost intravascular fluid. Clean bandage material with or without a pro-coagulant (such as Quick Clot) applied with pressure will likely be all that is necessary (or possible) to stop most bleeding. An ability to provide intravascular fluid resuscitation such as an IV catheter and tubing with IV fluid (either prepackaged or home made) would put you in the top tier of being able to provide emergency medical care in a crisis. A simple battlefield surgical kit (although common household items such as scissors and tweezers will suffice) will provide the ability to keep a wound clean. If your neighbor knows that you have an RN or MD after your name, I promise you that people will come seeking help in bad times. It will be up to you to decide if you can provide it or turn them away. For your own mental health, I suggest you think about this prior to a time of crisis. - NC Bluedog


Dear JWR,
If I am interpreting D. in Wisconsin's questions correctly, then they need to be addressed separately:
The first question is being posed as a licensed healthcare provider. Are you exempt from legal liability in TEOTWAWKI situations for intervening in a person’s emergent situation to render healthcare or aid and/or transporting them to a facility as the books that are referenced suggest to do? The current Good Samaritan laws, (see definition), and their facts lie in which state of the US or Canadian province you are practicing in. Notice that I said practicing in. If you are visiting or vacationing another state or country, you had best look up this law’s application for where you’re going. In October/2000, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA) was added to the Federal Good Samaritan Law. It requires an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to be located in all Federal buildings. There is no comprehensive US Federal Good Samaritan Law as of yet which details a reciprocity for your healthcare actions or coverage in your rendering licensed assistance to a victim of injury or accident. See this site for a detailed list of the US States and their individual Good Samaritan Law. Study it carefully. Each different state has its own standards, limitations and exceptions. One consistent issue however, that is often confusing in it’s liability of risk, is whether or not you have been a previous or ongoing provider of this person’s healthcare. Meaning, if you are their routine Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner or MD, that perhaps you best consider the diagnosis of why you are intervening on an emergent basis and expecting the Good Samaritan Law to provide you with protection? Is it for a different diagnosis? Like an electrocution or lake drowning or cardiac arrest or gunshot wound? Hopefully, however, even if it is for the recurrent diagnoses but with a new emergent reason, like a diabetic crisis, or a difficult child birthing, that you’ve treated before in the past that you will still make the decision to intervene and treat them for the condition, based on your scope of experience and practice skills. Don’t rely on the Good Samaritan Law to be your decision basis to help. Only you as an individual can make that difficult decision for yourself. In the TEOTWAWKI scenarios in some very rural areas or seasons, if you are the accessible to transport to “medical person”, then you are it!

The second question that is asked is specifically about transport issues. This has been a test case scenario for lawyers of Hurricane Katrina victims requiring emergency intervention in Louisiana and Mississippi . Since that lesson, there is still no proposed Federal intervention of the Good Samaritan Law. I say that we do not need to federalize good moral practice. If more people will just do what must be done in obvious emergencies or accidents and stop looking for the government or the lawyers to decide for them what is best, then we’ll be able to truly practice what is best for them and for our medical professions. Look up the bible’s definition of what it means of being a Good Samaritan. Ask yourself, Why would you in a TEOTWAWKI situation, transport that emergent someone who needs assistance immediately, and is the intervention needed either not possible to do, or not wise to do, because it’s over your head and experience and skill level. However, even after you consider all of these answers, if you are the best or only one that is available, then it’s you! You’re it. Do your honest best and pray and be willing to accept some losses and your own human weaknesses.

In summary, get your medical certifications up to date, if you’re retired, consider reallocating your license to volunteer practice status. You should already know current CPR practices, which according to the AMA have recently been revised to advocate no more mouth to mouth required for arrest cases and know how to use an AED. But, the true moral to this whole story is, “Nosce te ipsum!” Know Thyself! Know your limitations. Now, not later is the time to acquire the skills and supplies and medications you will need to be the best you can be to offer medical assistance in a TEOTWAWKI situation for your family, friends, community, or if you chose to hang that shingle out of your retreat as the “Doctor is In”. And if you chose to assist as a licensed medical person, it is your personal responsibility to have the qualifications to back your actions! I hope this information helps us all when the time arises, and it will. - KBF

Our friend Michael Bane, a gun writer and video producer (of Down Range TV and "Shooting Gallery" on The Outdoor Channel) now has short review segments on Ruger's new polymer frame SR9 and LCP .380 pistols. The latter, weighing only 9.4 ounces looks like a cross between a Seecamp and a Kel-Tec. I'm not a fan of the pipsqueak .380 ACP (9mm Kurz) cartridge, but a gun that is close at hand at all times is vastly superior to grasping at air when trouble arrives. Concealed carry is, after all, a compromise. If I was expecting trouble, I'd be carrying a .308 battle rifle--not any any sort of handgun. Be sure to check out Michael's many blog articles and videos.

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Frequent content contributor RBS found this archive of useful solar cooking articles.

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Reader MGB suggested the "Trapped in Your Home" calculator page. After having read about modern tanning and leather preservative chemicals, I cannot concur with their mention of leather clothing and furniture as emergency food sources.

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Some commentary from Jim Jubak: Market 'reforms' a gift to Wall Street. His mention of the lack of regulation on derivatives contracts is right on target.

"So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobedience of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country." - The Late Charlton Heston, from a speech to the Harvard Law School Forum, February 16, 1999

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm quoted in today's issue of the New York Times (Sunday, April 6, 2008), in an article titled "Duck and Cover: It's the New Survivalism". The article is buried back in the Fashion and Style section. My quotes are on the second page of the online edition. The article itself is well-balanced, but readers just glancing at the title and accompanying photos will no doubt subconciously marginalize survivalists as some sort of paranoid whackos.

Today we present another article for Round 16 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. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

When the grid goes down and predation goes up, from animals (wild and feral/formally domesticated) and other people will be a very large problem. The television show Jericho showed some of the problems with diminished game and a lack of dogs and cats.

Right now a lot of city dwellers complain about the population of deer, raccoon, opossum, coyote and others. In the city they are a problem right now. If something drastic were to happen it would decimate those populations, removing most outside food sources for cities. Most people, who do not hunt for food, hunt for trophies and they do take a lot of natural predators. What happens when this stops?

Out in the country you will see an increase in natural and formally domestic [feral] predators, therefore depleting the amount of game that can be found. In the city it will be far worse, dogs when they go feral run in packs and will eat almost anything, they will attack humans. Even now in the country feral dogs prey on livestock, taking calves, colts and lambs, larger packs will start taking larger (full grown) animals as they need. How can this be stopped or slowed?

Then the biggest worry, other people. There are people now who, though it isn’t for food, do steal livestock. Horse meat when at prime prices drives the theft of horses to unimaginable extents, not tomorrow, but now. There is a lot of that still happening and with tattoos or micro chipping the slaughter houses don’t have the resources to check as thoroughly as they could. Is there a deterrent? What happens when the grid goes down and people are stealing to eat or for their own gains?

If you have the land you need to raise your own stock and you need to be able to protect it now and in the future. Do you have the resources to defend it? If not what are your alternatives? Have you thought about livestock guardians? What ones would best suit you?

Donkeys are a very good choice for a herd guardian against predators, not so much against people. Sometimes you need to remove them during birthing then re-introduce after the babies are a few days old. You can pack with them and ride them and they will do damage to wolves, coyotes, bobcats, lynx and even mountain lions. They can live to be in their thirties and do require the same care as do horses (to a lesser extent). They are easy to handle if trained well and early.

Llamas are another good guardian, although they are not very good with dogs (I have seen them chase and kill domestic pets). They can be used lightly and they can spit very badly. They do need more grooming and can be aggressive at times (depends on the sex and time of year).

The livestock guardian dog (LGD) is by far the best choice. These dogs are large, wary of strangers, protective and will kill predators. Most of these dogs stand over 25 inches at the shoulder and for females no less than 75 pounds and males no less than 90 pounds, there are a few that top 120 pounds for females and 180 pounds for males. You do need to find the dog that will suit you and your climate and make your choices accordingly.

With herding dogs (except for collies) they work on a stalker prey drive that can cost you livestock. You can see it in the working dogs eyes. With LGDs they are part of the herd, they think that the animals and people are their siblings and alpha dog (pack leader).

The dogs I have researched may cost more than your typical dogs, but they serve a dual purpose and will not harm your livestock. Most of these dogs are low energy and don’t eat much more than a German Shepherd after the age of 1 year. Some do take longer to mature and some take more time to train, but when you are done you have a dog that will take care of you and your other animals. With the shear size of some of these dogs most people think twice before even getting close to them.

The Komondor is an excellent example of LGD - This is an ancient Hungarian sheepdog of Asiatic origin. In guarding herds of cattle and sheep, or house and property, he displays dauntless courage. He attacks boldly and silently. He regards the area he watches as his property, and will not tolerate strangers. He is distrustful by nature. They need good training and you need to get to know them, I suggest talking with breeders and trainers.

The Great Pyrenees is very popular throughout some of the small farming communities in Tennessee - Character and temperament are of utmost importance. In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle, and affectionate. While territorial and protective of his flock or family when necessary, his general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and tolerant. He is strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless and loyal to his charges both human and animal.

The CAO (Central Asian Ovcharka or Shepherd)--a relatively new breed to the U.S.--does deserve mention. They can handle all climates and they are used to working with little or no supervision. For centuries, the Central Asian Shepherd Dog worked alone or together with several other dogs, without much intervention from the herdsmen, relying on its own intelligence and instincts to do its job. While these dogs are very devoted to their family members, they expect to be treated with respect. They are inclined to be suspicious of strange people or dogs. Central Asians are steady, even-tempered dogs who adjust well to change in their environment. When threatened, they react quickly and with complete seriousness. Central Asians are slow to mature and require extensive socialization and patient training techniques. This breed is hardy and able to adapt to a wide range of climates. Serious faults: Irritable, nervous or fearful dogs are to be severely penalized.

Anatolian Shepherd is a large not quite as massive guardian, they are agile and when they have the right temperament you can’t find a better dog. They are being used a lot now for police work and the aggressiveness that is seen is not the norm for these dogs.

Those are the breeds I have actually researched, looking for the dogs I will be adding to our retreat. I will not just add 1 as when you breed responsibly you can sell the puppies for the grid goes down or after they can be bartered. There are numerous other breeds I am still gathering information on. There is a lot of reference material available on training and picking a puppy. Refer to Livestock Protection Dogs by Orysia Dowydiak and David Sims.It seems to be a favorite online and one featured by the USDA at one of their web pages.

Here is a partial list of other LGDs that might be suitable:
The Akbash, Maremma, Tibetan Mastiff, Aidi (Atlas Sheepdog), Castro Laboreiro, Estrela Mountain Dog, Kangal, Kuvasz, Perro de Pastor Mallorquin, Polish Tatra, Pyrenean Mastiff, Sarplaninac, South Russina Ovcharka, Spanish Mastiff, Tibetan Kyi Apso, and the Tornjak.

A few years ago I was interested in methanol since it worked well in fuel cells to generate electricity without combustion. Alas, I found that methanol ["wood alcohol"] is very toxic. Anyone in a burning methanol [extensively in a confined space] would shortly after feel "drunk" then [might eventually] die from methanol poisoning. Additionally, methanol you spill on your hands enters your bloodstream and damages your liver (permanently), any you inhale does likewise, and any that hits the ground will poison the soil and groundwater. Its bad stuff, not something you want to have around unless you really have to. - Inyokern

JWR Replies: Thanks for adding those safety warnings. I was aware of the dangers of ingesting methanol, but I was not aware that the fumes and skin contact were so insidious. I will append my reply to LeAnne's instructional post. Based on your warnings, I can now only recommend grain alcohol (ethanol) for use in tin can stoves.

Mark from Michigan sent us this: Homeland Security Blinks on Real ID Plan.

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Fellow blogger Mickey Creekmore describes how he escaped from the rat race (warning--a bit of foul language): Breaking the Chains, Part 1, and Part 2. Mickey recently moved out to his own two acre mini-homestead and set up a used travel trailer with photovoltaics and LP, all for under $8,000.

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Rice Jumps to Record on Speculation Demand Will Outpace Supply.

“There has been a decline in ethics and we've got to turn it around.” - Eliot Spitzer, quoted in 2007. (Spitzer was recently forced to resign his post as as New York Governor, after revelations about hiring prostitutes)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Today we present another article for Round 16 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. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

In the times that may soon be upon us, we may need to live in a way we are not accustomed to or prepared for. I suggest camping as a method of acclimatization to those circumstances. My brother and I are avid campers. Usually getting up to higher elevations, at least 25 times a year. These are often not just overnighters but from two days to up to a week. My personal best year was 32 camping trips from mid February to as late as November, including a full week as a vacation. I have gotten too much sun on Saturday and snowed on, on Sunday of the same weekend. I have seen weekends when it rained the entire time, which limited some activities, to temps that were higher than average or expected. We reside in a desert valley, so I am conditioned to it.

On each of these occasions, I have been prepared with what I brought along. On several occasions we have invited friends, stating beforehand that they need to be prepared and put some thought into what they might need. It never fails that someone doesn't bring something that they needed. This was the case one very rainy weekend, when my brother and I fashioned ponchos out of large trash bags that I always have in my pack and in my truck. They can be used for a multitude of purposes, including (among others) caching water, distilling, as slings, for shelter and the aforementioned ponchos. Live and learn. I hope it was a learning experience for my friends. Although neither has asked to come along again.

We do what I call vehicle camping, meaning we carry and have everything we need in our vehicles.
My vehicle is a 1981 Bronco, and my brother's vehicle is a 1989 Bronco II . Both have V-6 engines and have manual transmissions. The vehicles are used as the base for our camp, sleeping, hygiene, cooking and entertainment centers. The only thing we don't use our vehicles for is sanitation. We set this up away from camp and always dispose of waste properly.

I have everything [needed for camping] in my vehicle at all times and is not excessive. It includes tools, camp equipment, some recovery equipment that doubles as camp tools and some spare parts. The spar parts includes a spare battery that also provides the juice for watching television on Saturday night. (Hey, you have to have something to do when the sun goes down.) With practice and trial and error you will decide what you need, what you don’t and what is excess weight. It is all packed and squared away safely and is easy to get out and repack. I try to always have the gas tank and propane as full as possible, and my vehicle stocked with food and water, and for the most part is ready to go at all times.

We use the excuse to camp to actually practice living in situations when you may not have all the conveniences of home. We especially use the chance to practice our skills. You would be surprised how difficult it can be to start and maintain a fire in inclement weather. Not to mention that you have to find wood , drag it back to camp and chop it. I don’t mean with a chainsaw, I mean chop it into reasonable size logs for the fire, with an axe. Enough to maintain a fire for your stay (fire cautions notwithstanding) , may it be week or a month or longer. Whether it is for ambience, cooking or to heat water for those dirty dishes and for washing oneself. You also get to appreciate how they used to do it. Too big a fire and you consume too much wood, not stoked enough and it goes out, requiring extra effort to restart it. As an aside, I have completely covered my fire with dirt and returned five days later and used the coals underneath to restart my fire.

As well as having fun, we incorporate some skill building into our outings. My brother and I will pick features from the map and navigate to and from them using the map and compass. In the beginning , I will admit having to break out the GPS to return to camp. But it was a learning experience, and has not been used since. During these day hikes, we take our day packs with water and the other 10 essentials, as well as other items that might be needed just in case. And of course a weapon.

During these hikes , you will find out about your physical condition, if your boots will hold up and how important the right pair of socks can be. In hiking in the snow, you can see if your boots are really water resistant or waterproof and how important keeping your feet warm and dry is. Also you will find out how difficult it is to hike in snow at altitude. How to dress in layers and learn to pace yourself to prevent perspiring, which can have detrimental effects if allowed to cool and you are not at your destination.

On other occasions we have practiced camouflage and concealment, and built lean tos, using the features found around us, rocks branches, crevices and ravines, depending on weather outlook.
While on hikes we observe and take note of natural features, wildlife, practice tracking, finding small game, finding water sources and identifying plants. On other occasions have hunted small game, which is in season. On a couple of occasions , we have even played an “adult “version of hide and seek Something , a couple of friends didn’t entirely understand. The purpose was to learn to track and locate and observe others, while avoiding detection. It might come in handy.

If the hunting of small game was successful, we have cleaned and prepared the animal for consumption, when returning to camp.
Rabbits, squirrels and birds all require different preparation, with some similarities. Knowing how to dress and prepare game is a very useful skill. It is something I have done frequently. In all of these outings, we have never gotten ill or sick from these activities. Camp sanitation is a mandatory practice.

During your outings, you will get to know your equipment , how to keep the knives and axes and hatchets sharp, how lanterns and stoves work and light, which is why I now use propane . Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work with an uncooperative kerosene stove or lantern, which has led to a new game, “the camp equipment toss” which is an accumulation of points for height and distance. All in fun, we retrieve the discarded item and dispose of it properly. But the underlying theme is to know that your equipment works, and what can go wrong. Just have a backup plan, remember the fire?

In all of our outings we have practiced maintaining a sanitary camp, such as digging a waste pit, washing up after “going for a walk” after breakfast. Washing dishes in hot water. Using caution when preparing small game or cooking, to prevent cross contamination. Discarding of trash in bags brought with us, I don’t like burning trash, but in an extended stay or emergency , I would . We have never gotten ill or spread anything despite of our primitive conditions.

We also practice safety, being careful while using and sharpening knives, axes and even can openers, a cut can easily get infected in primitive conditions. Other things such as keeping the camp uncluttered, not consuming to much alcohol and watching where you step at night, past the illumination of the camp lantern.

For the most part , we sleep in our vehicles, even having the comfort of an air mattress and a 0 degree [Fahrenheit] sleeping bag. It cuts down on having to carry around the weight of a tent.

I have a system of tarps and bungees which I fasten over my truck for sealing up at night. One for closing up the rear of the vehicle and one for making a canopy with a couple of discarded three-section poles from another canopy, and rope & stakes. This keeps me and the kitchen area out of the elements, and has been tested in the wind and rain with success.

I have camped at 9,000 feet and as low as 4,000 feet elevation. I am prepared for and have dealt with many weather conditions. We mostly stay at higher elevations in the summer and lower elevations in the winter depending on road closures and access.

It is always an enjoyable experience and makes us really appreciate the amenities of running water, electricity, and of course flushing toilets. For the most part , these trips are for pleasure, but have also been preparation and training courses. Each time , we learn something new or brush up on existing knowledge and skills.

There was also an occasion recently when a transformer in a local substation let go and placed the neighborhood in darkness. You could see the occasional flashlight bouncing around as neighbors checked to see what happened, but I went to my truck and broke out the camping lantern and lit up the whole back yard and patio. It was a pleasant evening and I was on the patio anyway.

I am sure I did not touch on some activities that others would deem necessary, just what I have done on past outings. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy the outdoors and use it as preparation and familiarization with conditions you will encounter in most places outside the city lights, and possibly conditions likely to happen if TSHTF.

First, this interesting bit from an article from the Chicago Tribune: Food Price Inflation Changes How We Shop.
Here are some quotes from the article: "Steadily rising food costs aren't just causing grocery shoppers to do a double-take at the checkout line -- they're also changing the very ways we feed our families.
The worst case of food inflation in nearly 20 years has more Americans giving up restaurant meals to eat at home. We're buying fewer luxury food items, eating more leftovers and buying more store brands instead of name-brand items..."
"Record-high energy, corn and wheat prices in the past year have led to sticker shock in the grocery aisles. At $1.32, the average price of a loaf of bread has increased 32 percent since January 2005. In the last year alone, the average price of carton of eggs has increased almost 50 percent."
Now a quick trip to Coinflation.com where we see that at the current price of silver ($17.38 per ounce, as of today) a pre-1965 [mint date] 90% silver dime has a melt value of $1.26.
So it looks like silver is holding it's own against inflation. The price of a loaf of bread is still close to 10¢, if you're using "real" money, that is...

I hope this is of interest, Jim. By the way, I received your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" for my birthday last month. It was great. Thanks, - Jonas

Mr. Rawles,
I have been a reader of SurvivalBlog for at least a year now, and I feel it's time to get involved. During this time I have been adding to my preps, building a library, and re-certifying my medical credentials. I have also done a lot of reading, getting many opinions concerning the future. I found one thing that I am at a loss for, and that is the subject of this letter.

In all my medical re-certification courses and also in the medical library that I have put together, I have these questions: If society does go down the dumper and all social services and amenities cease, along with gasoline and diesel fuel for transport, how to we get injured or seriously ill individuals to proper medical facilities? Who would be there to receive them, and what kind of treatment could we except once this patient arrives? None of my training programs nor the books that I have in my library address these questions. They all state: "Transport the patient to the nearest medical facility for treatment." So, what do we do?

I have given much thought to this, and finally after reading material about the situation in Africa and other countries, I started an Internet search for answers. What I found was that several legitimate world-wide organizations may have solutions to these questions. First, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published numerous books on medical care and treatment in Third World and remote areas. I found them to be free of cost and can be downloaded. Second, The Hesperian Foundation has a very good series of books concerning the same subject. They can also be downloaded free on the Internet. I've managed to download quite a bit of information concerning advanced medical care from these two sources. I also have a found a copy of the book "Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction." The 213 page book is in PDF format and is available for free download. These books are a welcomed addition to my library. Now comes the job of reading and taking them to heart. I recommend that all readers check out these sites.

I know this may rankle the professional some MDs out there, but it needs to be addressed. You cannot be everywhere at once, or all things to all people. I would appreciate hearing your comments and concerns in a constructive manner on this Blog so that a proper understanding and direction for training can be achieved. I also want you to understand that as a retired ER/ICU Nurse, I know the legal side of things and I will not practice medicine without a license.

As I said above, I am a retired Critical Care RN, a retired EMT and First Responder, and a retired U.S. Army Reserve Combat Medic. I have over 30 years experience in the field, and I know my limitations. I ask that all who comment on this letter do so in an intelligent manner so the information derived can be used for the benefit of all of us. Sincerely and Honestly, - DS in Wisconsin

RBS recommended this article from Fortune: The great inflation cover-up

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SurvivalBlog reader "CC" in Centennial, Colorado, asked for my recommendations for local preparedness gear dealers, since he doesn't like the "paper trail" created by mail orders. (This, I have noticed, is a common concern among SurvivalBlog readers, and I don't blame them.) One store that I can recommend for anyone in the greater Denver metropolitan area is The Ready Room, in Littleton, Colorado. Phone: is (303) 298-9911. Another "cash and carry" buying opportunity is the Tanner Gun Show, in Denver.

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I've been warning you for months about a "blow up" in credit default derivatives. Well, here it comes! MBIA Loses AAA Insurer Rating From Fitch Over Capital

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I was doing some web surfing and found a great collection of video clips on the demise of the US dollar.that highlights the observations of Congressman Ron Paul.

I sincerely believe... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale." - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 4, 2008

My sincere thanks to Mike in Michigan, who sent an unprecedented $150 contribution for our 10 Cent Challenge subscription program. That was very generous of you! My thanks to all of our subscribers. I greatly appreciate your support, folks. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

I've had several consulting clients contact me in recent weeks, all with notes of fear in their voices. They realize that something is horribly wrong with the economy, but they cannot properly isolate and articulate the problem. I haven't been able to calm them, however, because to an extent I share their anxiety. In my estimation, the "something wrong" that we sense is nothing short of a monumental shift in the economic climate.

America is clearly headed for a recession. Most economic recessions are simply a product of the business cycle. These recessions are relatively mild and they often last just 12 to 24 months. The economic engine just readjusts and everything soon gets back to normal. But this nascent recession in 2008 is something radically different, and it won't be short-lived. The current slow down was triggered by a collapse in the global credit market. For decades, the global credit market grew and grew, in an enormous debt spiral. Our neighbors to the south saw trouble coming decades ago, because their economies were at the time more debt-dependent than our own. As far back as the mid-1980s, their newspapers featured political cartoons that portrayed an enormous, insatiable monster that was invariably captioned "La Dueda"--"The Debt". Our cousins in Latin America saw it coming first, but the dark side of the debt nemesis will soon be clear to everyone.

Because modern banking in the western world is based on interest charges that create continuously compounding debt, credit cannot continue to grow indefinitely. At some point the excesses of malinvestment become so great that the entire system collapses. This is what we are now witnessing: a banking panic that is spreading uncontrollably as wave after wave of ugly debt gets destroyed by margin calls and subsequent business failures.

Some economists are fixated on reading charted histories--and unrealistically expect that by doing so that the can reliably predict future market moves. (They can't do that any more than I could predict the bends in the road ahead by keeping a chart of the preceding left and right turns of my car's steering wheel. My apologies for any offense to my friend The Chartist Gnome, but you are fooling yourself.) Although they are working from a flawed premise at the micro level, the chartists do have some things right on the macro level: There are major economic "seasons" and even climate changes. The most vocal chartists like Robert Prechter hold to what is called the Elliot Wave Theory. And the big bad nasty in this school of thought is a Kondratieff Winter. This "K-Winter" is an economic depression phase that the world has not fully experienced since the 1930s. An economic winter does not end until after the foundations of industry and consumer demand are rebuilt. This can be a painful process, often culminating with war on a grand scale. (It was no coincidence that the Second World of the early 1940s was an outgrowth of the Great Depression of the 1930s.)

The US Federal Reserve and the other central banks are furiously pumping liquidity to the best of their ability, but in the long run they will not be successful. At best, dumping billions in cash on the economy will delay a depression by perhaps a year or two. But inevitably, a K-Winter depression will come. And the longer that it is delayed, then the worse the depression will be. Further inflating the debt bubble will only make matters worse. I think that veteran market analyst Jim Rogers had it right, in a recent interview. Take a few minutes to watch that video. Jim Rogers sees the big picture. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he has gone off somewhere to hunker in a bunker.

"Big Picture" Implications

As I've mentioned before, hedge funds are presently most at risk in the unfolding liquidity crisis, because they use lots of leverage in lending funds that they themselves have borrowed. They borrow short and lend lon, effectively use debt compounded upon debt. Many, many hedge funds will be bankrupted before the end of 2008.

Even more alarming is the scale of global derivatives trading, particularly for credit default swaps (CDS). Derivatives are a relatively new phenomenon, so derivatives contract holders have not yet experienced a major recession or a depression. Thus, it is difficult to predict what will happen in a genuine K-Winter phase. In a perfect world, derivatives are a nicely balanced mechanism, where there are parties and counterparties, and every derivatives contract equation balances out to have a neat "zero" at its conclusion. But we don't live in a perfect world: Companies go bankrupt. Contracts get breached. Counterparties disappear and disappoint. We have not ever experienced a derivatives full scale "blow up", but I predict that when it happens, it will be spectacular.

The scale of derivatives trading is monumental, and the vast majority of the population is blissfully ignorant of both its scale and the implications of a derivatives crisis. There are presently about $500 trillion of derivatives contracts in play. That is many times the size of the gross product of the global economy, but the average man on he street has no idea what is going on. It won't be until after the giant derivatives casino implodes that the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) awakens and asks, "What the heck happened?" Since the credit market began to collapse last summer, the number of new derivatives contracts has dropped precipitously. But whether the aggregate derivative market is $400 trillion versus $500 trillion, when a crisis occurs there will undoubtedly be some very deep drama.

The next decade will likely be characterized by successive waves of inflation and deflation, and perhaps some of both simultaneously, at different levels. Countless corporations, and perhaps a few currencies or even whole governments will go under as this tumult plays out. The current low interest rates will soon be replaced by double-digit rates, much like we saw in the late1970s. The dollar will lose value in foreign exchange, and may collapse completely. The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) will result in mass inflation. The bull markets in silver and gold will surge ahead, propelled by economic and currency instability. (Investors will be desperate to find a safe haven, when currencies and equities are falling apart.)

Risk Mitigation

Be ready to "winter over" the coming K Winter depression. That will require: 1.) Prayer. 2.) Friends that you can count on (a "retreat group"). 3.) A deep larder, and 4.) An effective means of self defense with proper training. (For each of those four factors, see the hundreds of archived articles and letters at SurvivalBlog.com for details.)

Since large-scale layoffs seem likely, it would also be wise to have a second income from a recession-proof home-based business.

In the event of a "worst case" (grid down) economic collapse, it would be prudent to have a self-sufficient retreat in a rural area that is well-removed from major population centers. Get the majority of your funds out of anything that is dollar-denominated, and into tangibles, as soon as possible. The very best tangible that you can buy is a stout house on a piece of productive farm land. It will not only preserve your wealth, but living there may very well save your life.

We are presently heading into the spring selling market that should yield some of the best prices seen in years in rural America, especially in the Pacific Northwest region, in particular. At this point, especially in small towns in the region most folks have realized that their golden egg is about to hatch a goose and that they should have sold their property two years ago while there was still a chance to sell at reasonable prices. A lot of folks waited and kept their property prices too high and listened to others who spoke of the market "coming back soon" and "don't worry." Well, now they are scared. I moonlight as a gunsmith at a local gun shop and during the two weeks preceding Christmas last year we sold absolutely no firearms at all. What we did do and continue to do each week is pawn and redeem items for folks just to make it to their next paycheck.

Heading into the spring time here the tide has turned from pawns to folks selling what they can to buy battle rifles, a heavy weight of reality is starting to hang in the air in rural America, even people that are not true preppers like you and I just know something isn't right. Recently, locals that would have never thought about owning battle rifles have been trading in their deer rifles for black rifles. We cannot keep .308 caliber semi-autos on the shelf, period. We have tons of AR-15's but if an HK or FAL shows up it goes within a day or so. Farmers might be slow movers but they're not dumb, they see what's coming. All the .308 and related components are going as well. We went to order a few of Rock River Arms new LARs in .308 (the same as the Bushmaster BAR-10, they bought the rights from them last year), a great big brother of the AR-15 chambered in .308 and they said they had a two year backorder list! The point of my sidetrack here is that small towns are already getting hit hard economically just by what has happened in the past five months or so. They realize that they had better sell what they're going to sell or they'll need to wait along time to get a better price, if ever. This applies directly to real estate as well. Bargains abound, especially parcels that were split up over the last year or so that have not sold, like one I have reviewed and JWR has approved on SurvivalRealty.com, called the Ridgetop Retreat. It is part of a larger 104-acre parcel that as far as I know no parcels have sold so someone could buy the entire 104 acres in the range of $570,000 and then sell the divided parcels to fellow like minded individuals.

Now is the time to swoop in and for someone that can pay cash or make easy financing terms, the real estate inventory is huge, and there are now some real bargains. There are many sellers that are on the brink of foreclosure and just want to get out with a few bucks and deals can be had. High end builders are sitting on finished product and have to refinance the homes out of the construction loans with cash out just to make the payments, and the banks are dong it, knowing that they are simply loaning them the money to do so, but what choice do they have? The high priced homes and land are simply overvalued and sinking everyday. Several parcels on SurvivalRealty.com have been dropped several hundred thousand dollars from last years listing prices with some more room to maneuver.

I'm working on several plans for groups in survival real estate. My preliminary thoughts are that it would require folks who have been humbled enough to be thankful just to have 'something' to go to in a time of peril and folks that have a sum of cash they need or want to invest in such a venture, but not enough to buy or build their retreat. I'm looking for ten investors that can put in $100,000 to $150,000 each to pool together $1 million to $1.5 million USD. This would be enough to purchase an amount of acreage and build one large building with ten separate living quarters with a large common area(s), something like a survival condo(s) complex, but complete with a communal basement bio-bunker, food storage, indoor range, indoor greenhouse, individual walk in safes in each unit and many other features. I have preliminary plans of the complex and should this move farther forward such plans will be available to those interested parties after consultation.

During good times the condo units could be used whenever the separate deeded owners wanted for vacations, family outings and holidays, et cetera. During times of peril the owners simply show up and start living, cooperating on security and other daily activities. To some this may seem absurd, but if this peaks your interest please contact me and we can discuss further. The location of such a property would in all likelihood be in the Palouse hills region of north central Idaho, due to the price per acre of land and more favorable weather and growing seasons. Remember, time is short and the buying power of your USD is falling. Every day you delay doing something towards getting to your retreat!

For further information, see my private Idaho pages on SurvivalRealty.com or contact me directly via e-mail. Remember, Idaho is what America was…Free!

Food Stamp Users to Reach All Time High

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Some commentary from Peter Schiff posted over at Gold-Eagle: Let the Housing Chips Fall

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Given the source, this is not to be taken too seriously: Ted Turner predicts 'mass cannibalism' by 2040

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Some old news from NASA Possible asteroid impact in 2029? For some background, here is a primer on the Torino Scale.

"If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst." - Thomas Hardy

Thursday, April 3, 2008

You might have noticed that we've added a second advertisement for Front Sight in our scrolling ads. This ad is for their new "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. See details on this incredibly generous offer, below.

Just as I warned the readers of SurvivalBlog many months ago, hedge funds are vulnerable to rapid swings in interest rates. (My first warning was even before the pair of Bear Stearns hedge funds collapsed in the summer of 2007.) As the global liquidity crisis has expanded, other hedge funds have started to collapse en masse.

Here is an article is from England that is indicative of what is happening globally. (This is a global collapse, because again, as I warned, the current liquidity crisis is global in scale.) Hedge fund legends hit by financial crisis.

And here is an article from the American perspective: Debt Reckoning: U.S. Receives a Margin Call

With leverage ratios that average 26-to-1, hedge funds are very vulnerable to margin calls.

Check out this video clip on the hit to the finance houses, and this one on the plight of the hedge funds.

The Insider told me he expects that the majority of publicly-traded US hedge funds may be out of business by the end of 2008. Seventy down, 6,850 to go.

Front Sight has been a SurvivalBlog advertiser for nearly as long as I have been writing the blog. The Memsahib and I have both attended four-day courses at Front Sight, and we can attest that the training there is absolutely top notch. We were both very impressed with the world class quality of the instruction and the quiet professionalism of the instructors. The Front Sight experience is hard to put into words. You really need to experience it for yourself.

To be prepared for the potentially dark days ahead, I highly recommend that at least one member of your family attend Front Sight, and then come home and cross-train the rest of the family. Owning a gun doesn't make you "shooter" any more than owning a surf board makes your a "surfer". Training is crucial. When the Schumer hits the fan, you need to be confident and competent with firearms. That only comes with proper training and regular practice. The bottom line: Get the best training available. And that is exactly what you will receive at Front Sight.

You might have noticed that there are now two ads for Front Sight in our scrolling ads. The new ad is for their very generous "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. This is their biggest promotion ever, and it includes so much free gear that you would be crazy to to not take advantage of it. This offer includes all of the following:

Four Day Defensive Handgun Course ($2,000 Value),
30 State (One Day) CCW course ($500 Value),
Seven Dry Practice Manuals ($280 Value),
Limited Edition Stainless Steel Folding Knife with Front Sight Logo ($300 Value),
Front Sight Armorer's Bench Mat ($40 Value),
Front Sight "Any Gun Will Do-- If You Will Do!" Shirt ($30 Value),
Front Sight logo hat ($20 Value),
Front Sight Instructor Belt, Holster, Mag Pouch, Flashlight Pouch and Flashlight ($230 Value),

and, your choice of a brand new in-the-box, Springfield Armory XD Pistol in 9mm, or .40 S&W or .45 ACP (a $600 value.) Needless to say, I suggest getting the .45 ACP variant.

I highly recommend Front Sight's training. Again, it is truly world class. Their new "Get a Gun" offer is an amazing 4-to-1 "exchange in abundance." If up 'til now you've been hesitating about taking a course at Front Sight, then by all means quit hesitating, and take advantage of this offer. It is a genuine bargain!

OBTW, if you have any questions about this offer, feel free to e-mail me. If I can't answer one of your questions, then I will get a answer from Front Sight.

Mr. Rawles,
The recent article on alcohol stoves made me think of these ultra-lightweight, portable alcohol stoves made out of soda cans, See this Wikipedia article.

I have successfully built the original Pepsi-can version using epoxy glue, as well as the Heineken-can "penny" version. I have not tested them "in the field" but both work very well indoors, and they have impressive performance, boiling 2 cups of water in 5 minutes using only 2 tablespoons of alcohol. Those who have actually used them outdoors say they outperform other small stoves even in the most extreme of conditions. Even for indoor use, they are a compact, easily stored backup for cooking.

The stoves are easy to build, but expect to build a few to get the hang of it and make a well-burning version. Many web sites are available that cover different versions of the stove and various accessories to go along with it.

For fuel, you should only use methyl or ethyl alcohol. Don't use isopropyl alcohol in these stoves, as it will cover the bottom of your pots and pans with soot. Methyl alcohol burns hot and clean, but it is poisonous. It is available, among other places, as HEET brand engine fuel line de-icer in auto parts stores in the red bottles. (Don't get ISO-HEET, since that is isopropyl alcohol). Denatured ethyl alcohol is cheapest, and of course Everclear 190 proof grain alcohol works as well, but it is quite expensive. Sincerely, - Chris S.

JWR Adds: Denatured ethyl alcohol ("grain alcohol") is much less expensive if bought in quarts or gallons. It is available at paint stores. Don't buy methyl alcohol (Methanol or "wood" alcohol"), because of its toxicity. Long term exposure to the fumes or just brief contact with the skin can be toxic and can cause irreversible liver damage.

LeAnne's article today has some bad advice and some misstatements in it - potentially dangerous.
First of all, alcohol will produce Carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (not carbon MONoxide, CO) only in a perfect (ideal) combustion, with exactly the correct proportion of oxygen - called the stoichiometric ratio. Any deviation from that will produce imperfect combustion and CO. Even a perfect combustion will result in CO2 being produced, the carbon atoms in the alcohol have to go somewhere. And perfect combustion only happens on chemistry examinations. A buildup of CO2 can be just as deadly as CO.

Secondly, 70% alcohol is 30% water....and before you get any heat out of burning the alcohol you need to heat up and boil off the water. Half of the energy of the alcohol (by volume) is wasted getting rid of the water The water vapor added to a shelter could be significant. A better choice would be 91% alcohol, if you had to use isopropyl alcohol. A better choice IMO would be alcohol available from paint stores, boating shops, etc.

For people travelling (backpacking, etc) a higher energy density fuel (gasoline versus alcohol, with roughly twice as much BTU value per pound of fuel carried) makes more sense. Alcohol stoves have their niche but LeAnne's reliance on them can lead one to dangerous reliance on them in inappropriate conditions. - Flighter

Dear Jim,
Regarding East Tennessee Hillbilly's otherwise excellent summary of reloading: In the back of the Arsenal of Democracy I keep a case of each caliber I shoot. The 7.5 Swiss cartridge has a wider case, thicker base and thicker rim than .308. I don't believe it's possible to fabricate 7.5 Swiss cartridges from .308. - Michael Z. Williamson

JWR Replies: I have read that .284 Winchester brass can be re-formed to 7.5 Swiss without much difficultly. The same thread mentions that Graf & Sons sells virgin Boxer-primed 7.5 Swiss brass that they had made up with their own head stamp.

Hawaiian K mentioned a Gizmodo blog piece that has some interesting metrics on oil versus biofuel production.

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Bill S. flagged this: A Grim Tradition, and a Long Struggle to End It. Bills' comment: "Another excellent reason to avoid border areas when selecting retreat locations."

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Reader KAF found this piece that shows that the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) will undoubtedly grow, and grow, and grow: Senate Leaders Unveil Bipartisan Plan to Slow Home Foreclosures

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Perennial Odds 'n Sods contributor RBS forwarded this: Some homes worth less than their pipes--Thieves now stealing valuable metals from foreclosed homes

"Procrastination is our favorite form of self-sabotage." - Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby, American author

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today we present the first article for Round 16 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. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

In any situation, small electricity outage, or large-scale grid-down disaster, a simple homemade alcohol stove and a Wonder Box slow cooker can simplify your life and add the comfort of cooking and warmth.

Why alcohol?
Alcohol is the one fuel that can be burned indoors without any chimney or any objectionable fumes. The only byproduct is water. [JWR Adds: Keep in mind that for safety, even with an alcohol stove, some ventilation is needed, sine the combustion will consume available oxygen.]

Isopropyl alcohol (70%) is cheap. A couple of quarts can be purchased for about $3.00 at Costco or Sam’s Club.
The small alcohol stove burns about a pint of alcohol in eight hours. It can be used to cook food. It can also bring the temperature of a small room up to reasonable levels without any fumes. In a larger room, you might want to use three of them.

How to make one?
You need a larger can, such as a clean empty steel one gallon paint can; and a smaller can, such as a clean empty quart paint can. These can be purchased clean and unused from a paint store, or a store like Home Depot, for $1.00 to $4.00 each. You also need a roll of cheap (not quality) toilet tissue and your alcohol. The reason you don’t want quality toilet tissue is that it won’t fit into the can. However, you can overcome that problem by just removing some of the tissue.
First, you remove the cardboard tube from the inside of the tissue with a knife. Then scrunch up the roll of tissue and stuff it into the smaller can. Then take the larger can and punch holes all over the side of the can, so that air can flow through it. You can do this with a hammer and nails. You can draw designs on the can with a dry-erase marker and pound holes along the lines, if you wish. If you fill it with water and freeze it before punching the holes in it, you won’t smash it while you are making the holes. If you need it “right now,” you can fill it with ice pieces and snow, tamped down, before pounding, or just find a way to make holes without smashing it.
Fill the smaller can with 1-1/2 cups of alcohol, so that you can see the alcohol at the top of the tissue. Put this can into the larger one, and light the alcohol. You can put a pan on the top of it to cook your food. I would be careful to put it somewhere where nobody will knock it over accidentally while it is cooking.
One pint of alcohol will burn about eight hours. However, if you extinguish the flame, before you can light it again, you have to pour in more alcohol to bring the level up to the top of the toilet tissue again before you light it.
You should not plan to store the alcohol stove with the alcohol in the can, since it could rust.
It isn’t an extremely hot flame. It may take a bit longer to cook your food. We took quite a while one day to cook pancakes for four hungry people using alcohol. But it is easy, cheap and safe. And it requires materials that you probably have on hand.

* * * *

The Wonder Box

Ideally, if you have an alcohol stove, you have a Wonder Box insulated slow cooker to go with it.
If you bring your stew to a boil over your alcohol stove and then put it into a Wonder Box and cover it carefully with its lid--six hours later, it will still be so hot that you will have to use hot pads to take it out. It has been cooking all of that time, and saving you fuel.
If the food has been hot and cooking all of that time, it did not need to be refrigerated. So you could cook your stew and eat it hot for lunch, then put it boiling hot, nestled down into the Wonder Box, and take it out still hot for dinner. No refrigerator needed.
The fabric must be 100% cotton to prevent it from melting from the heat of the pan. The pan must be one that has small handles on each side and it must have a lid. A pan with one long handle extending out from under the Wonder Box lid, will lose too much heat through the handle, and it will not work as well.
The Wonder Box is much like two small bean bag chairs, one being the lid for the other. You can get the pattern in a fabric store. The larger one is 24” in diameter and the smaller one about 16”. You make it in sections, like orange sections, just the peeling part, made out of 100% cotton. Denim is a good fabric. Even old jeans stitched together would work. You stitch it together, leaving an 8” hole for turning. Turn it right side out and fill with seven gallons of Styrofoam beads. Make the lid in the same way, using four gallons of beads. Don’t let the static electricity of the beads bother you. Pin your seam, then try nestling a pan down inside to see if you have enough or too many beads. Sew up the seams, and you have a Wonder Box.

The Styrofoam beads can be purchased at stores such as Smith’s grocery stores. They come in a four-foot long tube that holds enough for two Wonder Boxes, for about $15.00.
Nestle a covered pot of boiling food down into the Wonder Box bottom, and carefully cover with the insulating Wonder Box top. It is a good idea to put a layer of aluminum foil between the pan and the Wonder Box just to keep the Wonder Box clean. Let it sit for up to seven hours, and it will cook with no additional heat.
Whatever method you use to bring your food to a rolling boil before you put it into the Wonder Box, it can save valuable fuel in a time of no electricity or other services. * * * *

Variations on The Alcohol Stove:

What if you need an alcohol stove “right now,” and you don’t have clean empty paint cans?
Some people have used #10 cans like the ones that food storage wheat or rice or beans, etc. come in. They have also used a “church key” type can opener to make the holes in these cans, since they are lighter. I would prefer the gallon paint can if possible, because it is heavier and therefore more stable with a pot of boiling food on top of it. Also, it has a lid and a handle for carrying.
You can also use the #1 cans that come with the larger size canned peaches and hold about a quart, for the inside of the stove. The problem with these is that it is harder to extinguish the flame down inside the can, because you don’t have a lid to put on it. This can be overcome, of course. Just don’t singe your arm while doing it.

You could also use something like the “Pirouettes” cookie cans. The problem with these is that you have an extra inch of can. Not a terrible problem.
If you need more room heat, you could use three #303 cans like you get with canned vegetables, and put all three down inside one of those large $5.00 popcorn cans that you get at Christmas. Don’t forget to put the holes in the sides of the can. You would have to take off more toilet tissue from the roll, and you would have to use a sharp knife to slice off about 1/2 inch of the end of the roll of tissue, so that it would not extend past the top of the smaller can. But it can be done. You then have a nice little warming “furnace” with a lid on the top.

When terrible things happen, people need something simple, dependable and comforting. They need something easy to use and fast. After they have had time to adjust, they can get on with more complex tools and equipment. But for that first little while, an alcohol stove is easy, simple, lightweight and comforting, as well as safe, and it won’t make any harmful fumes.

Mr. Rawles,

A good set of links on finding a homestead that may be useful to your readers can be found at The Mother Earth News web site.

I also agree with Jason in North Idaho's comments. Relocating to the developing world for the purpose of long term survival is not something I would recommend. I am presently living in the developing world because I work here--at least for the time being. I probably have this in common with many of your readers who work as security contractors. My long term goal is to return to return to my home country and relocate to a small town.

Don't relocate to run away. Relocate to achieve a goal. Think about the kind of lifestyle you want to live, and work towards that.

I am willing to accept more risk than most people. I also was trained by the military to function in unstable environments and consequently I get paid a lot more to do the same job because of that. But this is a short term temporary strategy to enable me to get some cash to buy some land. Everyone must make their own risk assessments and plan accordingly.

In the meantime my focus is planning for and taking precautions against political instability, crime and pandemic flu. Long term I am very concerned about Peak Oil. The developing world will stop developing when foreign aid is cut off and that there will be a serious population crash in an energy descent scenario. Regards, - Felix D.

Reader "Suz" recommended United States Plastic Corp., in Lima, Ohio as a supplier for food grade HDPE storage buckets. Although they are a large-scale manufacturer, they are willing to take fairly small orders directly from the public. Suz said that it was a pleasure doing business with this "God-owned" company.

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KAF mentioned this piece on rethinking and revisions in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

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Mark C. flagged this: UBS Gives Haircuts on Auction Rate Securities

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Thanks to Hawaiian K. for finding this: Analyst Predicts Corn Rationing in 2008

"The primary fear we entertain today is that our "slaves" (machines) may be about to run out of "food" (oil) and our intricate civilization will come sputtering to a stop. There are lots of arguments
about this, with wide differences of opinion about when the oil will run out, how fast we are using it up, and how much unknown oil remains hidden in the Earth's crust. It really doesn't matter. No one argues that the oil will not, in fact, run out sooner or later. It will. Certainly no one disputes that the Arabs, who have the largest reserves left in the world, are capable of rationing our supply or cutting it off if they like. They already have. And as for the United States' policy of developing the north slope of Alaska as quickly as possible in order to become energy "self sufficient,"that's like noticing that the gas tank is nearly empty and flooring the accelerator so you can get to a service station before you run out. It's not very smart." - Dr. Bruce Clayton, "Life After Doomsday" (1979)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I've never been much of a trickster, so please don't analyze today's posts, looking for April Fools Day tricks. There are none.

We have finished the judging... The winner of Round 15 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. is Paul C., for his article "My Seven Favorite North American Edible Wild Plants". 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 take advantage of their great training opportunities. My advice is to sign up for courses that start before May 15th, to beat the summer heat!

Second prize goes to Nina for her article: "Sanitation During a Grid Down Collapse". Her 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 two honorable mention prizes to W. in Washington for his article "Characteristics of a General Purpose Survival Flashlight", and to Brandon in Utah for his article "AA Cells and Mobile Power". Both of them will get their choice of autographed copies of my books: "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", or "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog."

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 ladies gents, and congratulations!
Today we start Round 16 of the contest. Send your non-fiction articles via e-mail for a chance to win some great prizes! The first prize will again be a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate!

One skill that will be in great demand by almost everyone in a post-TEOTWAWKI environment will be a skilled and resourceful ammunition reloader. Equipment is relatively inexpensive and downright cheap if you know where to look. Pawn shops almost never buy reloading equipment because it is slow and, or difficult to move. I have made arrangements with a few pawn shop owners and when a batch of reloading stuff comes available from estates they just give them my number. No matter how much gear there is, a pawn shop will only offer, if they even make an offer about a hundred bucks. I usually try to offer the widows a fair price but in the end you are still buying for pennies on the dollar. Often reloading gear will be given to you if you show an interest and a little respect.

It is an opportunity to acquire odd caliber dies, bullets, brass and often large stores of powder. The old reloading books are great references for older powders that will still be usable if stored properly. Always store your powder in a cool, dry and dark place. I am using some 30 year old powder that was stored this way and it works just fine. One can never have too much powder, [too many primers,] or too many reloading manuals.

Any gun shop that sells reloading equipment has free loading data provided my the powder and bullet manufactures and these small books can be acquired by writing, calling or going to the powder and bullet companies web sites. These are invaluable resources as they try to show case how versatile their products can be and the large reloading manuals will leave out some less than ideal powder, bullet, caliber combinations that we may be forced to try some day simply because of space limitations and the large manuals are somewhat expensive although necessary. Remember that we are trying to make safe reliable ammo that will suffice for the purpose at hand and we are not trying to come up with the perfect powder, bullet combo that will better factory ballistics.

JWR is right when he suggests that you stock only common caliber ammo in large quantities for yourself. However, there are still going to be quite a few .32 Winchester Special, 38-55 and especially 30-30 Winchesters around that will need ammunition and all three of those caliber cases can be made from fired .30-30 cases. A host of calibers can have their brass cases formed from the very common .30-06 such as .270 Winchester and .25-06 just by sizing the necks down. The.308 Winchester (7.62x51mm) is the parent case for .243 Win,..260 Rem, and 7mm-08. Simple neck resizing is all that is necessary and all it takes is a little knowledge and the correct dies.

Much more elaborate cartridge conversions can be done by annealing the cartridge brass (necks only--never the bases) simply by standing the cases in an inch of water, heating them until red with a torch and then knocking them over to cool in the water. This softens the brass and makes splitting case necks less likely. Brass work hardens as it is reloaded and this process is a useful skill to prolong case life even for common calibers. Calibers like the 7.5x55mm Schmidt Rubin in the well made Swiss [K31] rifles that have flooded the market the past few years are easy to fabricate from the very common .308 Win cases if you know where to look for specs and the place to look is "The Handloaders Manual of Cartridge Conversions" by Donnelly & Towsley from Stoeger Publishing. It is a great resource and it covers more than 1,000 cartridges in detail with accurate drawings, capacities and dimensions. With this book a set of good calipers, micrometer and reloading data there are very few calibers that one can not reloaded.

Anytime someone asks you if you want a small lot of odd caliber of brass take it and clean, sort and store it. It doesn't matter if you don't have a gun in that caliber, someone, somewhere will or it might be used to create cases for another caliber There are only four sizes of boxer primers so stock up on those. Large rifle, small rifle, large pistol and small pistol and don't worry about magnum primers just use one of the hotter standard primers such as Winchester 's Stainless. The only caveat here is gas auto loading rifles should only use CCI #34 or #41 hard military primers to prevent slam fires.

There are some powders that are very versatile and can be used for many calibers, for example Unique handgun powder can be used for just about every pistol caliber. It might not be the perfect choice for certain cartridges but it would certainly serve the purpose.

Reloading skills can be bartered for other things because a firearm without ammunition doesn't even make a good club. As charity you might be the only person that can give a family a means of self defense by reloading ammo for them that is impossible to obtain any other way.

Since you can't reload .22 rimfire ammo, buy a couple of the 550 round boxes every time that you are at Wal-Mart, or mail order 5,000 round. cases. This is something that almost everyone can afford. While you are making connections at the pawn shops pick up some used .22 rifles, I often can buy Glenfield and Marlin autos for less than 50 bucks apiece if I shop in the spring and avoid the 1st and 15th of the month and go on the first of the week. Pawn shop owners are more likely to cut you a deal at these times because of cash flow. What a great trade item or gift to some deserving but unprepared family

Bullet casting equipment is often included with reloading equipment and this simple skill is another arrow in your quiver. The Cast Bullet Association has a free forum that has a wealth of knowledge and any question that you have will be answered by the top experts in this field in an informative and entertaining way. Cast bullets were used for all hunting and war purposes for centuries before jacketed bullets came along in the late 1800s. You will notice that some of the cast bullet rifle shooters are getting 10 shot groups around an inch at 200 yards! I assure you that my efforts have never been that amazing but then I'm not a top competitor.

Making bullets and reloading ammo could make your talents very sought after over a fairly large geographic area so be prudent about your security measures. Word of your skills might bring about many barter opportunities that otherwise might be impossible. As charity, you might save an entire family's lives for very little investment of resources and we all want to help the good guys out if we can. Folks will want to insure your safety if you have built up a relationship with them and provide a necessary service.

I have an extensive list of reloading equipment but have invested less than the cost of a FAL or M1A. I've been at this for almost 40 years now and have taught Boy Scouts, housewives, service veterans, preachers or anyone that asked the necessary skills to produce quality ammunition. Several times I have been given firearms simply because ammo was unavailable and I haven't failed to produce good safe ammo for any gun yet. Get your beans, bullets and band-aids in order first, and then get started looking for the tools and acquire the skills to become the community Ammo Cobbler. - East Tennessee Hillbilly

In the past you have recommended that SurvivalBlog readers in the UK to get a samurai sword. Well, they are banning them now.

As of the 6th April 2008 it will become illegal to manufacture, import or sell (but not own) all swords with a curved, single edged blade over 50 cm in the U.K.

Although they can still supply such weapons for "permitted activities". These activities include; Historical re-enactments and Sporting Activities.

The legislation does not mention samurai swords. It only mentions single-edged curved swords with a blade length of 50cm or over. As per the document, it appears that all swords with those characteristics will be banned. Including Chinese Dao, American & European Sabres, Filipino Swords etc.

They have not had a vote with the members of parliament on this. They are just banning them [by decree].

If you want one before that, I would say the best makers seem to be Cold Steel (but they cost a lot more and I don't think you will find one in time), or Hanwai / Paul Chan. (For he latter, contact the UK dealer--you may be just in time.) It looks like I got my samurai [sword] just in time.

You can always get a non-curved blade like a Shinodi (Ninja sword), a broad sword or a Side sword (I want the Hanwei one) these last two are also double-edge. Cold Steel makes a [straight] double-edge samurai sword so that for now will be okay for now but I bet soon they will ban anything double-edge or with a blade over 50cm. - Simon in England

JWR Replies: The UK government is clearly doing its best to put its citizenry at the mercy of criminals. Soon enough, your ever-tightening Country Code will have your self defense options reduced to just butter knives, ASBOs, cricket bats, and harsh language. It is now abundantly clear that violent crime is already at unacceptable levels in urban areas of the UK. In the event of an economic collapse, things could resemble the recently-released Doomsday movie. Under those circumstances the majority will fall prey to a minority that is younger, stronger, and uninhibited by moral compunctions.

I must reassert that it is clearly time to take the gap. The US and New Zealand still have immigration programs that are advantageous. Get out of England soon, while these programs are still available.

Many SurvivalBlog readers have expressed an interest in obtaining antibiotics for emergency use, for example t be prepared for another 9/11-style anthrax attack (for which ciprofloxacin has been recommended in the past by the FDA and Centers for Disease Control) or a flu epidemic. The gentleman who owns a discount pharmacy has agreed to a solution. From now until April 30, 2008, The Medical Center Pharmacy, located in the lobby of The Hillman Medical Center at 2116 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, will offer for sale sealed stock bottles of 100 Ciprofloxacin 500 mg tablets in their original packaging "to SurvivalBlog readers who mention discount code SB1" for only $33. (If your prescription is for less than 51 tablets of ciprofloxacin, the price will be $25. [The cost per unit is higher because] if the quantity is less than 100 tablets the stock bottle will be opened by the pharmacist and pills counted.) In addition, 10 capsules of Tamiflu 75 mg in their sealed original packaging for treatment and prevention of flu will be available for $93. Any other prescription medicine available in the USA will also be offered at a discount price if "discount code SB-1" is mentioned. This pharmacy has been owned by the same pharmacist for the past 15 years. Both of these medicines are recently manufactured and have distant expiration dates. The pharmacy's toll free phone number is 888-653-9404 or if busy, call 215-568-3858. FAX: 215.564.6065.

There are four straightforward conditions. Firstly, since these are prescription products, you must have a health care provider phone, fax, or mail in a prescription. The pharmacy is only able to honor the "SB-1 discount" from 8:30 AM to 5 PM Monday-Friday EST. Second condition is that there will be no acceptance of any prescriptions for any "controlled substances" (such as narcotics, amphetamines, etc.) unless the original prescription is handed to the pharmacist by the customer at the pharmacy's physical location [and provide proof of identity](provided above). However, the good news is that any customer presenting a physical prescription or picking up prescription medication at the pharmacy will receive an additional $5 off per prescription because the pharmacy is spared additional shipping, handling and related costs. Third condition is that there is an additional charge for mailing of $3 for the first prescription and $2 each for all other prescriptions mailed out in the same package to the lower 48 states. This includes a charge for delivery confirmation. The final condition is that the only acceptable methods of payment are either major credit card, US postal money order (made out to "Medical Center Pharmacy"), or cash. No insurance accepted.

I researched prescription prices and urge your readers to do so. The Medical Center Pharmacy is offering really great prices for genuine products. For the price of roughly a half tank of gas or two AR or AK mags, you can choose to have enough ciprofloxacin for anthrax exposure and not lose life-threatening time if your doctor agrees that you need to start a medication immediately.

Based on the response, there may be other group-buy style discounts and programs for other survival prescription medications available in the future. Why not compare the prices of all your current prescriptions with those offered under the "Discount Code SB-1". Given the rural isolation of many SurvivalBlog readers and high gas prices, you have little to lose by prudent preparing, asking question, and price checks. The Medical Center Pharmacy reserves the right to increase the prices stated above after April 30, 2008. - Yorie in PA (a retired physician)

Our recent mention of Backwoods Home magazine' prompted reader RJV to note: "Don't miss some of the gems from their [extensive] archives, such as this piece on do-it-yourself steam power."

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Eric found this: Diesel thefts on the rise; demand increases for locking caps. Eric's Comment: "As someone with a rebuilt diesel BOV that includes 70+ gallons of on-board diesel fuel I too am thinking about putting locking fuel filler caps on my truck. I also came across an interesting installable anti-siphon device that might be of interest to some." JWR Adds: I generally discourage installing an anti-siphoning device, because you never know when you might need to siphon your our tank, post-SHTF. Also, locking fuel caps should only be installed on caps that are deep-set. If a thief can get a large pipe wrench on the cap, he most likely will, and thereby destroy the filler neck while prying off the locking cap.

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Reader Chris P. mentioned that readers might be interested in a deal that Sportsman"s Guide has going on for brand new 400 meter coils of military surplus field telephone wire for $30.

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Some folks in the mainstream media are finally seeing the big picture. From Fortune: Chaos on Wall Street--The big banks' fear of big losses is threatening to bring down the entire system, with dire consequences for all of us. (A hat tip to Jim H. for the link.) Meanwhile, we read at Bloomberg: Brace for $1 Trillion Writedown of `Yertle the Turtle' Debt. (Thanks to AB in Ohio, for finding that one.)

California court to reconsider home-school ruling

Sow seed-but let no tyrant reap;
Find wealth-let no impostor heap;
Weave robes-let not the idle wear;
Forge arms-in your defense to bear.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Song to the Men of England, 1819

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