March 2009 Archives

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today we present the final entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 22. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

With a cynical eye on the rapid downward spiral of events, it seems prudent to plan for a very long time of sustainable living. In this case survival depends not only on your stockpiled preps, but also in your ability to sustain food production past the end of your stored supply.

Let’s assume, to begin with, that you have reasonably stocked retreat. I’m not talking a stock to the level described in “Patriots”, but rather one that includes a year (or more) of food, basic ammo, firearms, reliable water, heat and power source … the basics.

Now it’s time to look past the first year or so and decide how you will continue to produce food and supplies for your family. Hunting is often an option, but it can’t be considered a long-term complete food source, as it is not nutritionally complete.

Much has been said about keeping heirloom (open pollinated) seeds, and this cannot be stressed enough. But you have to plant and harvest a crop each year to continue to re-supply your seeds. Most retreats seem to be in colder climates as they tend to have a lighter year-round population load. If you’re up in the mountains, altitude will play a significant factor in what you can hope to grow. Staples such as corn require heat days in order to properly pollinate and “set”. You generally want to lay in a supply of varieties that have the shortest maturity date. That means from the time you plant that seed to the time you harvest the crop is the shortest possible number of days.

Using “short season” varieties gives you two advantages. First, if you have a crop failure for some reason, you can often have time to replant. Secondly, if you’ve harvested your first crop, you have time to put another crop in the same space.

As summer approaches, consider a great time to practice crop production, if you haven’t already. It is not as simple a poking a seed into some dirt. Get a couple of good gardening books, or better yet, books on basic farming. Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living and the Reader's Digest Back to Basics are both excellent reference books that cover everything from farming to livestock to making basic necessities.

Having a huge variety of seeds is not as important as having plenty to the right seeds for your needs. If you just can’t live without brussel sprouts, by all means, lay in some seeds. But stick mostly to the basics: wheat, corn, squash/pumpkin, beans, peas, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, peppers, and your basic herbs. If you haven’t planted fruit trees, now is the time to get started on that. It takes several years for trees to be come productive. Also give consideration to other perennials such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and grapes. Again, it take a few years for these (except for strawberries) to get into full production.

Besides your garden, fields and orchards, you’ll need to take a serious look at what sort of livestock will fit in to your situation. Eventually, you will probably need some sort of animal power for transportation and heavy work.

The most efficient feed-to-food converter is a chicken. One hen will lay approximately one egg every other day. Peak production (during the summer) generally is an egg a day. Winter drops to an egg every third day or so without significant extra light in the chicken coop. You can expect to raise two or three sets of chicks each summer. Hens will get “broody” and sit on eggs to hatch them once the weather is warm. In order for the eggs to be fertile, you of course must have a rooster. The best ratio is one rooster to every ten hens. A family of four would do well with 25 laying hens and three roosters. The extra eggs produced during the warm months can be frozen or used for feed for other animals. You can even feed the [well-pulverized and unrecognizable] eggshells back to your chickens to give them adequate calcium. During the spring, summer and early fall, you don’t even have to provide chickens with any feed. They are excellent consumers of all sorts of insects and bugs. “Free range” chickens pretty much feed themselves during the warm months. If predators are an issue though, you’ll want to keep them in a moveable cage (called a “chicken tractor”) so they don’t become a snack for some varmint. Raccoons are especially fond of chickens, as are weasels.

If you know that the stuff is hitting the fan, try to order 50 chicks or so [and buy a 50 pound sack of chick starter feed at your local feed store]. Chicks arrive in the mail. Ideal Poultry and Murray McMurray are two excellent sources. If you order “straight run” chicks, you’ll get a mix (about 50/50) of hens to roosters. The best all-round chicken in my opinion is the Astralorp. They start to lay early (at about five months of age) and consistently, they are good mothers and are big enough to still be a reasonable source of meat. The roosters tend to stay calm and usually are not aggressive. Chicks will cost you around $1.50 each. The price varies with the breed, the supplier and the time of year. Ideal tends to have good sales, which you can keep up with by signing up for email alerts.

Another excellent feed-to-food converter is the basic goat. I’ll say right off that they are tough to keep fenced in. Goats are terrifically intelligent and are phenomenal escape artists. If you keep goats, make absolutely certain that your gardens, crop grounds and trees are well fenced off and well protected. Goats can decimate fruit trees in minutes. Goats produce milk, meat and leather. A doe can kid as early as eight months old, but it’s best to wait until they are yearlings. Goats’ gestation is about five months and they tend to only breed in months that have “R” in the name (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr). There are some aseasonal breeders, but don’t count on it. If your does are bred in early September, you might be about to get them bred back again in April, two months after kidding. Goats usually have twins and triplets. Bucks can be smelly and can be aggressive during rut.

The breed of goat really is an individual preference. Goat enthusiasts will extol the virtues of their particular breed, but mostly it comes down to basics: good dairy does will give about a gallon of milk a day. Goat milk, properly processed, is indistinguishable from fresh cow’s milk. If you have never consumed fresh milk, you ought to give it a try. It is completely different from what you purchase in the store. It makes store-bought taste like water. Goat milk is white, it does not separate as easily as cow’s milk (it takes longer to skim enough cream for butter), and it is often well-tolerated by people with lactose issues. During grazing months, a goat will produce milk just with pasture (grasses, clovers, and browse). A small amount of grain is nice at milking time so the does will be excited to come in to the milking area. It beats chasing them all over Creation. IN the winter, they will require hay and a little grain if you intend to keep milking. Some people “dry off” their does in the winter in preparation for kidding. You have to allow about two months of no milking before the doe kids so that her body has time to produce the colostrum the kids need in order to survive.

Goats are capable of pulling small, fairly light carts and helping with basic garden work (muzzled, of course). They can work individually or as a team of no more than two. They are also good packers capable of carrying about 30 pounds (for a full grown adult goat). For a family of four, two or three does and one buck is plenty. And yes, you can keep doe kids and still breed them back to their sire (or their brothers). Line breeding is not recommended over the long-haul, but it’s perfectly fine until things stabilize and you can trade genetics with a neighbor.

Sheep are extremely important, in my opinion, but are rarely discussed. They don’t have a terrific feed-to-food ratio, as they require a bit more protein. But for what they give you in return, they are an excellent survival animal. Besides meat and terrific hides, sheep produce wool. Wool is one of the very best natural fibers. It is somewhat flame retardant, retains its warmth even soaking wet, and is incredibly versatile. It can be spun into yarn, felted, woven, and even worked with “raw”. Lanolin is the “grease” on the wool. Once cleaned, it is an excellent, lasting softener for badly chapped/burned skin.
Sheep are not very smart, and so they really require looking after. If you have a predation problem, you’ll want to keep sheep close-in, or have some sort of guardian (human or animal) with them at all times. Sheep are similar to goats in breeding and birthing habits. In fact, you can keep sheep and goats together without any problems. They do not interbreed (although you may see the males trying it anyway).
Merino sheep are the best for fine wool production: the kind of wool you can wear next to your skin and not feel “itchy”. They are hard to find in the United States. Virtually any sheep, except “hair sheep”, will work for survival purposes. Larger breeds such as Columbia, Suffolk, and Corriedale will have more coarse wool, but they will produce bigger (meatier) lambs on less feed.

Like goats, you’d want two or three ewes and one ram. Rams can be dangerous. Repeat: rams can be dangerous. There is a product available called a “ram shield”. It is a leather piece that fit over the ram’s face so that he can’t see straight ahead to charge. However, his vision is fine for eating and wooing the ewes. (By the way, it works on goat bucks, too). After one Suffolk ram kept charging me, it is standard on our rams except for the Merinos. I’ve never had an aggressive Merino ram. Not to say it couldn’t happen; it just hasn’t happened yet. Merinos are smaller and when the rams fight during rut, the Merinos can take quite a beating. With the other rams wearing shields, it helps keep the Merinos from getting clobbered. It’s best to have a separate ram area away from the ewes once the girls are bred. It’s just safer for the shepherd/ess during feeding and lambing time.

Hogs are not for everyone, but they are one of my favorites. They produce a lot of meat, they are smart and easy to manage if you treat them decently, and they can grow fat on table scraps, roots, and forage. One sow can produce 20 or more piglets in a year. That a lot of meat and useful fat (soap-making). My experience is that colored pigs do better on pasture and forage than white pigs. I have no idea why this is true, but it seems to be. I don’t think the breed makes much difference, as long as the pigs aren’t white. Contrary to the stories, pigs do not like to be dirty. However, they cannot sweat to lower their body heat, and they must be provided with a place to cool off. A shallow concrete “pool”, access to a creek or pond, or even occasional hosing off will work. If pigs cannot get cooled off any other way, then they will wallow in a mud source.

Pigs “root” (dig) almost from the minute they are born. This is a terrific help in the fall when you want to get your garden turned over. They are omnivores and will graze, browse, and yet still consume table scraps and meat. Pigs are a good way to dispose of any accidental animal carcasses that you can’t eat yourself. Pigs are extremely smart (some say smarter than dogs). Boars can be dangerous, just like any other male, especially when he’s chasing a female. If you see the boar slobbering (white foam), stay out of the pen. He’s wooing a lady. We tame our pigs by hand-feeding eggs to them. After a few days, the pigs will come when you call. I have never even been charged by a pig, and I feel comfortable around ours. However, I never forget that they have razor-sharp teeth and that they weigh about 600 pounds when full grown! I never let the kids go into the hog pens unless I am standing right there. We’ve never had a problem, but I don’t believe in being foolish either.

Sows’ gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Sows will have between 8 and 15 piglets per litter. Many times, sows will have fewer “faucets” than piglets and you’ll have to make sure every gets their fair share of food in the beginning. Within a week, the piglets will be running everywhere and helping themselves to whatever Mom is eating. Piglets can be weaned at one month, but we generally leave them on until the sow weans them herself. The nutrition they receive from the sow doesn’t cost me anything and it helps the piglets get an excellent start.
Pigs can be butchered at about 160 pounds, which will give you about 80 pounds of meat and 20 pounds of lard. Pigs raised on pasture have much less lard and more lean meat. A little corn each day will help them gain weight faster, but much of that weight gain is fat and is probably a waste of valuable resources.
One sow and one boar will keep your family fed and provide lots of meat for trade.

As for larger stock, cattle and horses are generally what most people think of. They have great benefits but also great draw-backs.
Cattle produce milk, meat and hides. They also have a poor feed-to-food ratio compared to smaller stock. However, cattle can provide muscle as oxen for pulling, farming, and carting things around. Oxen can be male or female, so even your milk cow can be your ox in a pinch. Cows eat a lot. Figure on a milk cow eating 30 to 50 pounds of hay a day in the winter time. That’s a lot of hay if you’re putting it up by hand. Bulls are dangerous, but necessary to keep your cow bred (unless you can trade for the service a neighbor's bull). It takes about a year or so to get a calf to butcher size, which means you’re going to be feeding that calf over the winter (more hay). However, your cow will produce five to eight gallons of milk a day (on average). That’s a lot of milk for your household, for trade, or for feeding chickens and hogs. Cow milk separates easily.

A cow’s gestation is about nine months and they will breed any month of the year. You can continue to milk the cow up until about two months before she calves. Cows usually have just one calf. Dairy cows produce far more milk than beef cows, but they have less meat. A good solution is to have a dairy cow and a beef bull. The resulting calf will have more meat at butcher time. However, if you’re trying to raise a replacement milk cow, this won’t work in the long run.

There are many breeds of dairy cows. Dexters are excellent dual purpose (milk/meat) for a small group. They are little cows, about the size of a pony. They consume half the feed of a full size cow, produce two to three gallons of milk daily and have a beefier carcass. They dress out at about 65%. The down side is that they are still relatively expensive ($1000 for a cow/$800 for a bull). If you look carefully, especially in this down economy, you can probably find them quite a bit cheaper. Dexters are docile and make excellent oxen.

Jerseys are another “homestead” favorite due to their smaller size and high percentage of butterfat in the milk. Jerseys are 800-1,000 pounds full grown and produce 5-to-8 gallons of milk daily. The milk is rich in butterfat and slightly sweet. I think it’s the best milk. We have a Jersey cross milk cow for our family’s use.

Horses are a huge help, but not necessary to survival. They consume a lot of feed without producing any food in return. Most of the work horses do can also be done by oxen. However, I’d rather ride a horse than an ox any day. If you have plenty of pasture, plenty of feed and plenty of shelter during storms, then by all means keep a couple of horses. Again, a mare or two and a stallion keeps things sustainable.

It’s unlikely that most people would be able to keep each of these animals, or even that they would want to. The idea is to carefully consider what you need to supply for your family over a period of years. What livestock can you add to your retreat planning to help insure a sustainable food supply? Other possibilities include rabbits (meat/hides), geese (down/eggs), ducks (higher protein eggs) or domestic turkeys. Both of the books mentioned above for farming practices have a wealth of information for small-scale livestock production.

The other thing to consider is mobility. If you’re already living at your retreat, adding large stock is relatively simple. If you’re going to have to bug out, you’ll have to consider what you can take. I know that I can put three goats, three sheep, six piglets, and 30 chickens in and on the back of my Suburban. I know because I tried it. It took me 30 minutes to get all of them safely loaded and/or crated. [JWR Adds: My #1 Son mentioned that you should have videotaped this exercise--it would be very popular on YouTube!] I’d have to leave my cattle and horses if I had to bug out, but I could take enough livestock to keep us going for the foreseeable future.

So give consideration to what you will do when your stash runs out. How will you feed your family, your neighbors, your group if hunting is difficult or impossible? What can you do that is sustainable and practical? Think about what works for you in your situation. It’s easy to butcher poultry. It’s a bit more complicated for sheep or goats, and it takes some serious planning for a 600 pound pig!
Think ahead and be prepared.

Dear James,
Do you still recommend saving nickels [as you suggested in SurvivalBlog, in 2007]? Thanks for all you do. I'm planning on ordering the new edition of your novel on April 8th, and I'm currently re-reading the original [edition]. May God continue to bless you and your family. Sincerely, - Steve B.

JWR Replies: Yes, nickels (American five cent pieces) are still "the pauper's silver". Since base metals prices pulled back in advance of current the recession and have remained low, it looks like we may have another one or two years available to amass nickels. (For now, they are still being minted, with their long-standing metal content--75% copper, and 25% nickel.) But once double digit (or higher) inflation kicks in, nickels will likely be the first US coins to be dropped from circulation. Zinc pennies will follow soon after. In a major inflation cycle, eventually all coins--except perhaps for ersatz coin plastic or aluminum tokens--will be dropped, since their base metal content will begin to grossly exceed their face value.

Our Editor at Large, Michael Z. Williamson, sent us a news story of Nanny State Britannia Run Amok. I was dumbfounded by the descriptions of police holding back neighbors that wanted to bring ladders to rescue the family. This is the same country where homeowners have been charged with felonies for defending their own homes from armed intruders. The whole "only trained professionals" mindset infuriates me. It diverges 180 degrees from the Rawlesian Survivalist view. I believe that all adult citizens should be prepared, trained, willing, and able, to act promptly and decisively in emergencies. Seeing this article reminded me to repeat my advice to SurvivalBlog readers in the UK: Take the Gap! Emigrate to the United States or New Zealand, as soon as possible. Living in England is for all intents and purposes a lost cause for preparedness-minded families. In a societal collapse, only criminals and a much smaller number of police will be armed. The majority of the citizenry will be grossly under-armed and hence at the mercy of the thugs. It will be a very dangerous place to live!

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BeverlyHillbilly was browsing around a earthbag building web site and its blogs, and was captivated. "They claim is that earthbag structures are bullet resistant, highly insulated and very adaptable. This should be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers."

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"Tanker" notes that it is interesting to see practical articles like this one on freezers showing up on the front page of Marketwatch.

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Reader F.J. recommended the book The Scavengers' Manifesto

Lazar: Halt, who goes there?
Zus Bielski: We go here, Lazar. You only say 'halt, who goes there?' when you don't know who goes there. We go there.
Lazar: Oh. Sorry, Zus. - Defiance (2008) Screenplay by Clayton Frohman and Edward Zwick, based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 22. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most people I know prepare for medical emergencies by buying a first-aid kit, maybe taking a class, maybe buying some additional supplies, and calling it good. In an urban setting we typically expect to have professional assistance in less than an hour, but natural or man-made disasters could change this to days, weeks, months – or longer. I often work and play outside – skiing and motorcycles, construction and heavy-equipment, and off-grid living. I’ve fallen from horses, bicycles, and a roof. I live in earthquake and volcano country, and I’ve helped raise three sons.

I’ve been motivated for more than 40 years to be ready for whatever comes my way – “expect the unexpected”. And part of my prep has led me to study “improvisational backcountry medicine”.
In an emergency, providing medical care requires knowledge, practice, equipment and supplies, and the right mind-set. Emergencies are charged with emotion and unpredictability. In this brief commentary I’m advocating two things: investing (time/money) in a comprehensive training program that provides hands-on, real-world scenarios, and then, putting together a full kit that will meet the needs of your current or probable family/community, and allow you to fully utilize your skills.

As a teen--in the 1960s--I took Red Cross courses (First Aid, Lifesaving, and Water Safety Instructor). Then the Army sent me to Vietnam for a couple of years where I had the “opportunity” to get some up-close and personal trauma-care experience. A decade later I went to back to school and earned a nursing degree. And just recently I took a Wilderness First Responder (WFR or “woofer”) class, eighty hours of realistic instruction and practice with dozens of what-if scenarios (medical and trauma). Without question the WFR is the best program I know for a 360-degree approach to survival medicine.

Wilderness First Responder – The Training

A Wilderness First Responder is an individual who has completed a structured, accredited training program and passed both a written and practical exam. Most of the people I trained with had a professional motivation – they work for an organization that made the WFR credentials a requirement of employment. Our group included river-rafters, mountain climbing guides, “executive training retreat” leaders, a couple of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)s, and Search & Rescue (SAR) volunteers. The program is designed to help you deliver individual medical-delivery skills, but just as importantly to be an effective team-member or even the medical leader (“chief medical officer”).

My class was hosted by The Mountaineers in Seattle, and conducted by Remote Medical International (RMI). There are other good providers, all over the country (and the world). The orientation of my program was wilderness recreation, but my interest is living and working off-the-grid and the training was perfect for that, also.
In class we defined “remote medicine” to mean that you have limited equipment and supplies, you’re an hour or more from additional help, and you may be the only one providing care – or your helpers may know little or nothing, and may even impede you. You are the one in charge, the one responsible. Think about the implications if the individual needing help is you, or someone you love. And then make the time to get ready. Prepare to be a survivor.

A cardinal rule of medicine is “do thy patient no harm”. If someone is down, do you stay? Do you go for help? Should you leave him on his back, on his side, or as he fell?
We used makeup and prosthetic “broken bones”, “internal organs” and protruding “broken bones” to make it all seem more real. The responders were not told in advance what to expect when they came on the scene. We had outdoor night-practice sessions. No matter their background or experience, everyone learned something new.

Quoting from the curriculum documents, here is an overview of what we covered:
Day One: Course Overview & Patient Assessment
Introductions & Course Overview
What is Remote Medicine?
Role of the Medical Officer
Medical-legal Considerations
Primary Survey
Physical Exam
Vital Signs
Patient History

Day Two: CPR
CPR for the Healthcare Provider
Considerations for Remote Environments
Oxygen Administration

Day Three: Trauma Management
Orthopedic Injuries
Neurological Trauma & Injury

Day Four: Trauma Management
Wound Management & Infection
Chest Injuries
Dental Emergencies
Lifting & Moving Patients
Patient Packaging & Transportation

Day Five: Medical Emergencies
Cardio-respiratory Emergencies
Acute Abdominal Pain
Metabolic Illness & Allergic Reactions
Medication Administration Lab

Day Six: Medical Continued/Environmental
Genitourinary Medicine
Neurological Illness
Altitude Related Illnesses
Psychological Emergencies & Rescuer Stress
Mass Casualty

Day Seven: Environmental
Frostbite & Non-Freezing Cold Injuries
Heat Illness
Immersion & Near-Drowning
Health & Hygiene
Search and Rescue & Group Management
Austere Patient Care and Survival

Day Eight: Environmental/Logistics
Dive Emergencies
Plant & Chemical Poisoning
Animal Attacks & Envenomation
Pre-Expedition Health Screening & Planning
Remote Medical Kit & Supplies

Day Nine: Testing
Practical Exam
Written Exam
Debrief & Evaluations

The Skills
And here are some of the skills we learned (and practiced, and demonstrated to each other and to our instructors!)
* demonstrate comprehension of the legal concepts related to medical care, and relate their interpretation to patient care.
* demonstrate a working professional vocabulary for communicating their patient assessment and care with other responders.
* demonstrate skill at gloving and de-gloving, and describe the techniques of body substance isolation.
* demonstrate rudimentary execution of a Scene size-up, Primary Survey, and Secondary Survey, assessing and managing the scene for safety; demonstrate rapid, effective moves out of harm's way, application and management of the tourniquet, verbalize a General Impression, assess the ABC's, and effect interventions, obtain multiple sets of vitals signs, a patient history and a thorough head-to-toe physical exam.
* demonstrate a basic skill in making SOAP notes. [Subjective (Location, age, sex, MOI/history of events, Symptoms), Objective (LOC, RR, HR, SCTM, ROM [repeat at 15 min.]), Assessment (Fracture/Hyothermis/ ...), PLAN (clean, bandage, splint, ...)]
* be able to describe the introduction of pathogens into the body, and the body's inflammation responses.
* be able to accurately assess and manage oxygen delivery, airway interventions and management, and use of the bag-valve mask (BVM).
* recognize the potential danger of thunderstorms, respond appropriately to an approaching storm, assess and manage related injuries.
* describe the management of submersion incident (drowning) casualties.
* describe and demonstrate the assessment and management of shock.
* assess and manage chest pain, satisfactorily and appropriately perform CPR, and know the backcountry protocols for initiating and stopping CPR.
* demonstrate competence in carefully approaching the study and use of medications.
* communicate the responsibility of the WFR in public health matters (water, food handling, and hygiene).
* understand North American bites and stings; recognize and manage intoxication, envenomations, and allergic reactions, provide wound care. Students can assess, measure, and administer 0.3ml volume intramuscularly.
* demonstrate command of assessing and managing the three levels of injuries to the head and provide long-term care.
* demonstrate command of spinal cord/spinal column assessment criteria, conduct a thorough physical exam for cord injury ("clear" the spine), improvise a C-collar, and demonstrate correct rolls, moves, and lifts with spinal precautions.
* demonstrate recall of prevention, assessment, and management of hypothermia, frostbite, non-freezing cold injuries.
* be able to prevent, recognize, and manage dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps, and sunburn.
* be able to prevent, recognize, and manage high altitude problems (AMS/HAPE/HACE).
* demonstrate competence at safely conducting carries (pacstrap, split-coil, piggyback, backpack, and fireman's)
* fabricate a manageable, comfortable, and protective hypowrap.
* demonstrate correct packaging, organization, communication, and carrying skills with a spine-board and the Stokes litter.
* demonstrate competence with the fundamental principles and operations of a technical rescue, can safely tie-in, and demonstrate rudimentary team skills with communicating, anchoring, belaying, lowering and raising a low-angle-configured rescue litter.
* demonstrate familiarity with "essential" items, search-victim care items, and radio conduct.
* demonstrate knowledge of the purpose, principles, and parameters for trek planning.
* relate the principles and conduct of SAR operations, the considerations for evacuation options, and conduct around helicopters.
* demonstrate proper management of open wounds, describe infection assessment and care.
* relate the dynamics of missile wounds, the assessment criteria for evacuation, and expedient field treatment for missile, and arrow / spear injuries.
* describe evaluation and management techniques of burn injuries.
* describe the steps and technique for assessing and managing the sprained ankle, and demonstrate effective taping of the ankle.
* be able to demonstrate assessment and management of fractures; apply commercial and improvised stabilizing and traction splints.
* demonstrate ability to assess and manage dislocations, and demonstrate skills to relocate the shoulder, patella, and digits, and forearm.
* demonstrate effective teamwork in managing patients with insults to multiple primary systems.
* demonstrate organizing and managing a response to a multiple casualty scene, rapidly sorting, prioritizing, and managing patients for critical care and evacuation.
* describe the assessment and management of common EENT problems.
* demonstrate thorough, courteous technique in assessing the "medical" patient.
* assess and manage abdominal problems, demonstrate improving skills in getting a medical history, and demonstrate knowing when to evacuate the patient.
* describe assessing for, and managing diabetic emergencies.
* relate the assessment and management of common genitourinary (GU) illnesses, and instruct others in hygiene and prevention in the backcountry.

Reading about this stuff is not enough. There is no substitute for hands-on experience and developing muscle-memory. And by the way, certified WFRs are required to take a refresher every couple of years so they don’t get rusty.

Disclaimer: I mention Remote Medical International (RMI) in this article – they were great, and they provide medical training, equipment, and supplies. I have no financial stake in the firm. There are other great companies out there – search for “WFR” and you’ll turn up a handful.

About the Author:
Richard B. has worked as a general contractor, business consultant, US Army combat photographer, Registered Nurse, railroad carpenter and brakeman, and as a forest fire-fighter.


SF in Hawaii seems to have written in haste. His assertion is based on merely seeing the introductory courses at Front Sight. Just read this course description of Front Sight's Advanced Integrated Handgun course. This course offers exactly what he's complains is lacking at shooting schools. - Tantalum Tom

Mr. Rawles,
In response to SF in Hawaii's comment,. I returned this past week from a four-day defensive handgun course with the one day 30-state CCW [permit qualifying] class at the end. SF is incorrect in several areas, but I will mention two specifically. First, while we may have been stationary during the initial shoot, we were quickly moving after the actual shots were taken - this movement was called "after action" movement. In fact, at one point, I had an instructor standing next to me reminding me to "move, move, move ....don't stand still."

During our one day CCW class, our instructor gave us an idea about what the "Tactical Handgun" class consisted of - We were literally running along side several targets and shooting from the running position with the instructor attached to us ensuring that we did not stand still - reminding us the entire time that we must continue to move. Secondly, we were taught how to shoot one handed - and at close range without using the front sight.

We learned so much in five days that will be valuable should the skills ever be needed in a real life scenario. I was so impressed with the level of skill and professionalism of the Front Sight instructors. I was also amazed at the number of military and law enforcement officers attending the class right beside me, some for the second or even third time in an effort to earn their "graduate" or "distinguished graduate" certificate. I also learned from our instructor that they have trained some of our military special forces. If that is not an impressive endorsement, I can't imagine what would be.

The four-day defensive handgun class may be Front Sight's entry level course, but with that training, I am able to share information and skills with my husband who has been in law enforcement for 30 years, defend myself and my family should that need arise and will look forward to a second chance at earning my "graduate" certificate. - TC in Washington


[My advice to SF is that] if you want to practice moving while shooting try IDPA or IPSC. They are both games and have varying amounts of "reality", but both allow even require moving while shooting. In fact, IPSC is called the "run and gun" sport and IDPA's standard classifier requires moving while shooting and moving between positions between engaging targets. The first time out you will be surprised at how hard it is to hit a target while moving, but you will get better with practice. Both sports also require reloads while on the clock, another skill that isn't practiced enough.

Mostly one can use their day to day carry rig. Pocket holsters are generally out. Having said that one of my local clubs did have a "back up gun" side match every month which allowed all sorts of holsters. My
local club let me use my Wilderness Tactical holster that I use while biking and hiking, which was great. If you use your carry hardware you get to shake out any problems you might have and learn exactly what you can and can not do with your pistol. Most people will be surprised. But with a bit of practice, great improvements will be made.

Learning pistol skills are why I started going, but the people were the reason that I started to spend every weekend at one of these events. They are like minded (at least on the firearm side of ideas), friendly, safe, and very helpful with new shooters.- Tacmars



All the high speed, low drag tactics in the world don’t mean a thing unless you hit with your first shot. Until you know how to shoot consistently and accurately under time pressure, and develop the discipline to stay on the front sight in a fight, which the range training engrains in you, force on force training is a complete waste of time and a gimmick for those trainers who can’t put hundreds of students into their courses week after week. Most gun owners are not ready for force on force training because they can’t shoot accurately enough under pressure to benefit from force on force training. Front Sight offers force on force training for those students who are ready for it in our advanced tactical scenarios courses.
- Dr. Ignatius Piazza, Founder and Director of Front Sight

I got another one of those "when are stock and real estate prices going to bottom?" question e-mails, this time from reader G.R.P.. He was anxious that both the value of his house (in coastal southern California!) and his 401(k) have both already lost about half their value. The plain truth is that we are nowhere near the bottom. The economy won't turn around until a lot of malinvestment and toxic debt gets worked out of the system. And markets won't re-liquidify until after asset values get close to a bottom. For now, prices are still marked to mystery rather than marked to market. I've twice posted the link to a chart from the Calculated Risk blog, but perhaps its full import was missed by G.R.P. and a few other readers. This chart clearly shows that residential real estate has a lot farther to fall, especially in the bubble regions where NINJA ("Liar Loan") financing was use extensively. Many of those hundreds of thousands of mortgages were rolled up into Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs)--now next to worthless--and much of that that paper was insured with umpteen billions of dollars in Credit Default Swap (CDS) derivatives. Many of those CDSes no have counterparties twisting in the breeze. The CDOs won't reach bottom until the waves of subprime, Alt-A and "Interest-only" borrowers' defaults subside. Then, and only then, can realistic valuations be established for the ocean of toxic debt that is in circulation from here to Reykjavik. We can expect at least another three years of declining house prices. And, as I've mentioned before, P/E ratios are still out of whack, so equities have a lot father to fall, too. Tighten your seatbelts. The roller coaster ride is far from over.

D.S. sent this: Wall Street Looks Ahead: Inflation vs. Deflation. A key quote."We believe it's quite possible to have commodity-price inflation at the same time you have broad-based deflation," says Jason Trennert, chief investment strategist and managing partner at Strategas Research Partners. This is accord with my assertions in a February, 2008 SurvivalBlog article.

Items from The Economatrix:

European Protesters March in G20 Rallies

G20 Activists: Why We are Protesting

Fears Police Tactics at G20 Protests Will Lead to Violence

G20 Protesters Expect Agents Provocateurs

Seven Hours to Save the World

Merkel Warns on Further Stimulus

Ron Paul: is There Any Gold Inside Fort Knox?

The Race to Financial Safety is On

Down the Memory Hole, Alan Greenspan Style

Ninth Georgia Bank Collapses (Omni National Bank, Atlanta) FDIC expects failure to cost $290 Million, one of the most costly to date

Stocks Slide as Investors Cash in on March Rally

Soros: Britain May Have to Seek IMF Rescue

Economy Blamed For Jump in Arson Cases

Only United Front at G20 Can Save World

The Dollar's Days Numbered?

Seven States See Double Digit Jobless Rates Wyoming continues to have the lowest: 3.9%

Semper Cynicus sent us this gem: Chechen soldiers' Flinstonian phone charger. My father's often quoted the old "Dollars to Sweat Ratio". Assuming that hand tools were used, this is obviously a prime example of the "high sweat" end of the scale!

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I just heard that Ready Made Resources. now has just nine of the Warrior Aid and Litter Kits left on hand. If you need one of these very comprehensive medic kits for your retreat, order it soon!

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From FloridaGuy: Urban coyote attacks on the rise, alarming residents

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Thanks to DD for this news article link: Mount Redoubt eruption provides lessons in survival

"Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others." - Ayn Rand, (author of Atlas Shrugged )

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $960. This auction ends on April 15th. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A Warrior Aid and Litter Kit, donated by Ready Made Resources. This is an advanced medic kit package that includes a Talon II 90C folding handle collapsible litter, which normally retails for $560, just by itself. This truly a "full up" tactical trauma kit! This sophisticated medic kit normally retails for $1,500.

2.) A "be ready to barter" box of 26 full-capacity firearms magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Brand new "smoke gray" polymer original Bulgarian 40 rd. AK-47 magazines, 10 - brand new AR-15/M16 USGI black Teflon coated alloy 30 round magazines with stainless steel springs and the latest gray anti-tilt followers, 6 - new condition original USGI M14/M1A 20 round parkerized steel magazines, from CMI (the current military prime contractor) 6 - new condition original Glock Model 20 (10mm) 15 round pistol magazines--the latest production type with "SF" front magazine catch notch . All of these magazines are of recent manufacture (and hence are NOT legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $750, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

3.) A large Bury 'Em Tube (# 6L, 43" x 6" with a 5.1 gallon capacity), donated by Safecastle. (a $199.95 retail value)

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) An OPTIMUS Terra Cookset for backpacking, tent camping or even WTSHTF, donated by Safecastle. It includes the ultra-compact Crux stove, plus a special small cookset--all very portable and lightweight. (Fuel canister not included.) (a $95 retail value)

6.) A fresh, sealed case of full mil-spec MRE rations with ration heaters, courtesy of (a $94.95 value)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $2,800. This auction ends on April 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

I understand when you say that hyperinflation will make the price of things go up and up, like a ten dollar or hundred dollar loaf of bread. But what happens to a financed item, specifically the home [that is] mortgaged? Can the lender change the interest rate or the length of loan? What about other financed items like a car loan? If nothing changes then a person would be paying back the loan with inflated dollars, which might be a good thing? Please explain. Thank You, - RenoFlyBoy

JWR Replies: To begin: You had asked: " Can the lender change the interest rate or the length of loan? What about other financed items like a car loan?" The short answer is no. But don't underestimate the ability of politicians to monkey with market fundamentals. In the event of hyperinflation, there could conceivably be some sort of tiered inflation indexing of existing debts. This is very unlikely, but given the entrenched army of banking industry lobbyists in Washington, DC, it is not impossible.

You may have missed these five posts in SurvivalBlog from the past three years:

Letter Re: Is it Deflation or Inflation Ahead? Should I Pay Down My Debts? (2009)

Letter Re: Does Future Inflation Justify a Higher Level of Indebtedness? (2008)

Are Simultaneous Inflation and Deflation Possible? (2008)

Letter Re: With Inflation Ahead, Why Be Debt Free? (2007)

Letter Re: Fiscal Fitness (2007)

Take the time to read all five of those posts.

Given the multi-trillion dollar overspending that is in now progress, I still believe that mass inflation of the US Dollar is inevitable. But we are in uncharted waters, at present. (We have just seen an unprecedented asset and debt bubble go "pop".) Thus, nobody is sure how long it will take to put the economy back on track, and likewise nobody know how long deflation will persist To be safe, avoid debt for the next couple of years. Also, as I've mentioned before, it is not morally conscionable to take out a loan that you do not intend to pay back.


Regarding post on junk: Right on! When I recommend the OAR system for preparedness the O stands for organization. It does no good to have supplies you can't find or access. I see an awful lot of farmers with yards that look like the municipal landfill. It isn't safe or healthy. True preparedness requires doing the work of tracking supplies and useage so you don't find yourself short or waste hours looking for the tool that you know is here...someplace. One of the best features of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is the organized inventory lists. For a beginner, this course is a must-have.- Kathy Harrison, author of Just In Case: How to be self sufficient when the unexpected happens


I agree wholeheartedly with Jim Fry. Farms that are eyesores are a blight on the land and on the farmer who created the eyesore.

When I was in the Army I used to drive for over an hour to spend weekends on a friends parents' farm in Kansas. The farmer I "worked" for was nicknamed "Tidy" because right from childhood, he had always been fastidious in his habits. Tidy was a Marine and a veteran of almost the entire Guadalcanal campaign. You know what they say - once a Marine, always a Marine! His self-discipline, professionalism and pride showed in everything he did - just as his inner strength showed through his quiet and self-effacing demeanor. His farmstead was always standing tall, as was his equipment and shop. He had one of each piece of equipment that he used on the farm - and they were all in a fine state of repair, with spares on hand for the parts that were critical and/or most likely to break. Going down to work on the farm for Tidy was always a joy, because I knew that whatever jobs he had for me to do, the equipment would be right where he'd shown me it would be, and it would be ready to go. Everything got done in plenty of time for me to get cleaned up and dressed for dinner (Yes, Tidy insisted that everyone be changed out of their work clothes for dinner - never had to tell me that one, it was just obvious that it was expected - just like at home.) with plenty of daylight left to go down to the pond for a little fishing after dinner in the summertime. Keeping your place clean and organized goes a long way toward efficiency and a good outlook on life.

One thing that Jim forgot to mention is the defensive liability created by having piles of junk scattered around the farmyard and the farm in general. Those piles of junk interrupt your fields of vision - and fire - providing concealment for approaching bad actors, and cover for them once they decide it's time to strike. If the Golden Horde comes pouring through your gate or woodline, the last thing you want to have done is create pre-positioned fighting positions for them. If you truly think you will need something "someday" maintain it and store it under cover, so it will be of use when you need it -- not "someday" after the need occurs. In most areas, you can find a place to cut poles for structural members, and you can usually take down old unused buildings for siding boards and 2x4s -- so your total outlay will be for metal roofing. You will take your farmstead's defensive layout into account when planning for the placement of new equipment storage sheds, right?

If you don't need it - and don't have a plan to use it in planned-for contingencies, then get rid of it! Don't be a slave to your stuff!

Just my de-valued two-bits worth. - Countrytek

When looking for places to store sensitive electronics, consider the old-fashioned galvanized steel garbage can. For about a buck a gallon, you can store just about any and all electronics a household might have, safety protected against EPM and other damaging fields. - Jake Stafford, publisher of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and loyal SurvivalBlog reader


Here is another perspective on the problems associated with a Carrington event [, from the Mostly Cajun blog]. Sol assaults Mother Gaia - for real? Regards, - Hunter in Alaska

John C. set this this from Yahoo's Green Home page: Twelve amazing shipping container houses

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Reader Rick D.sent this about detergent smugglers Spokane residents smuggle suds over green brands

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From FloridaGuy: More and more city folk are raising chickens

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Also from FloridaGuy: Toy-gun sales ban advances to Arkansas House. FloridaGuy's comment: "'Your sons will play with dolls.' This is just more nanny-state foolishness."

"If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." - 2 Thessalonians 3:10(b)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $760. This auction ends on April 15th. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A Warrior Aid and Litter Kit, donated by Ready Made Resources. This is an advanced medic kit package that includes a Talon II 90C folding handle collapsible litter, which normally retails for $560, just by itself. This truly a "full up" tactical trauma kit! This sophisticated medic kit normally retails for $1,500.

2.) A "be ready to barter" box of 26 full-capacity firearms magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Brand new "smoke gray" polymer original Bulgarian 40 rd. AK-47 magazines, 10 - brand new AR-15/M16 USGI black Teflon coated alloy 30 round magazines with stainless steel springs and the latest gray anti-tilt followers, 6 - new condition original USGI M14/M1A 20 round parkerized steel magazines, from CMI (the current military prime contractor) 6 - new condition original Glock Model 20 (10mm) 15 round pistol magazines--the latest production type with "SF" front magazine catch notch . All of these magazines are of recent manufacture (and hence are NOT legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $750, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

3.) A large Bury 'Em Tube (# 6L, 43" x 6" with a 5.1 gallon capacity), donated by Safecastle. (a $199.95 retail value)

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) An OPTIMUS Terra Cookset for backpacking, tent camping or even WTSHTF, donated by Safecastle. It includes the ultra-compact Crux stove, plus a special small cookset--all very portable and lightweight. (Fuel canister not included.) (a $95 retail value)

6.) A fresh, sealed case of full mil-spec MRE rations with ration heaters, courtesy of (a $94.95 value)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $2,800. This auction ends on April 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

I agree with a recent post, Front Sight offers excellent training, and will get the beginning shooter to feel comfortable with their weapon and build in quick and automatic malfunction clearances, but it has shortcomings that all range based training classes share. By default, range based handgun training teaches us:
1) Stand still while you shoot
2) Use two hands when you shoot
3) Focus on the front sight

This type of shooting is a very specialized form of shooting. It is perfect when you are:
1) Target/competition shooting
2) Shooting at the edge of your accuracy range from cover

It is terrible when you are:
1) Dealing with someone shooting back
2) Dealing with potential multiple aggressors
3) Dealing with close range shooters

Why is this? Force on force teaches us that we need to move when we shoot. If you stand and take a traditional weaver stance, you will get a great shot off... and so will your opponent. Of course, neither Front Sight nor any other traditional range will allow you to shoot while you are running, but this is exactly what you need to be able to do.

Force on force teaches us that when we explosively move off the X, we will typically have only one hand on the gun. Why? It's easier to run that way. It's instinctual. In a class with Gabe Suarez, after a group Airsoft scenario, he asked the students, "who took a traditional stance?" This was a seasoned class and we all looked around sheepishly. None of us had done it.

I had this assumption that since I had trigger control and sight picture and training, I would be able to outshoot any gang member with his one-handed running shooting. Yes, this is true for distances past 15 yards. Within that distance, (the distance most gunfights take place in) the street style was better. At distances of three yards, a sight picture will just slow you down. Even an untrained gangster at 10 feet shooting as fast as he can pull the trigger will likely put hits on you at the distance despite his lack of professional training and sight picture.

Finally, the traditional sight picture of looking hard at the front sight creates tunnel vision. This is perfect for a sniper shot and stupid for a close range gunfight. You have just traded your peripheral vision for tunnel vision. In one scenario, I was able to put six rounds into my opponent: four body shots and two head shots in under two seconds before he got a shot off at me. Unfortunately, I didn't even see the second bad guy at my 3 o'clock only 5 feet away as he shot me two times in the side of my torso. Tunnel vision does that. Game over.

You should seriously consider taking a force on force training, not just to learn the skill set, but also to unlearn some range-based behavior that will get you shot in an gunfight. If you can't get to a class, then buy some Airsoft pistols, [wrap-around] eye protection and a DVD from Suarez International on the subject. - SF in Hawaii

Several months ago, I received a sample product that languished on the back off my desk, just for the lack of time available to test it. This is a novel sharpening stone design, dubbed the the AmericaStone. It was not until this weekend that I finally had the chance to try it out. And now I'm glad that I finally did. In the modern parlance, it is "way cool".

Let me start by saying that the AmericaStone is the best compact knife sharpener that I've ever used. For my test, I used my current primary everyday carry pocketknife, a tanto point CRKT Carson M16-02Z. I must admit that this knife gets more than its share of hard used around the ranch, some of which borders on abuse. My only excuse is that this knife is often the only tool available, particularly on the days that I don't carry my Leatherman Wave. In the past year, this knife has cut umpteen pieces of bailing twine, been used as an impromptu horse hoof pick, a utility scraper, letter opener, and even tasks far beyond its intended design as a wire stripper and as a screw driver. (Yes, I'm guilty of almost habitual expediency!) Its original factory edge was gone, and in fact the knife was downright dreadfully dull. Before my sharpening stone test, this knife was good for little more than a letter opener. But just ten minutes later, it had an edge that was good, if not better than the edge that came from the factory.

The AmericaStone design is unique. It has a patented double beveled edge on one side. I don't know why someone didn't think this up years ago. It really works. Take a look at the video at the AmericaStone web site. This is an excellent product. They are quite compact, and they come with a useful belt pouch. The only suggestion that I can make is that for use when at home, it would be useful to have a detachable handle, perhaps with a thumbscrew clamp. But even without that, this is a product that is well worth buying!

In general, [the recent medical articles are] great stuff to have on your web site. However, it is really best for trained and knowledgeable medical and paramedical people to get involved in medical and surgical issues rather than looking at these as Do-It-Yourself projects! With all due respect to your many readers with far greater mechanical intelligence than I have, the Almighty engineered the body and sustains it in a more complicated manner (beyond human comprehension) than the best human conceived and built retreat plan!

As soon as you finish a course of antibiotics, drink yogurt, (fermented) buttermilk, or kefir a few times a day for a few days to replenish good bacteria in your guts and prevent the likelihood of getting an antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Please make sure a patient is not allergic to the antibiotic being considered or a related antibiotic (any Penicillin allergic patients is allergic to all the similar drugs (e.g, Augmentin, amoxicillin, ampicillin, dicloxacillin, etc). About 10% of patients with a real drug allergy to a penicillin will be cross allergic to any cephalsporin class antibiotic such as Keflex (cephalexin), cephadroxil, cefdinir, Cefzil (cefprozil), etc. I highly recommend people with serious allergies to any of these drugs print out from a Google search (or copy from a medical text) all the drugs in the class every couple of years because new ones are constantly being introduced into medicine.

Without getting too technical the penicillin and cephalosprin class drugs all share a chemical structure called a beta lactam ring. If you are allergic to any of these antibiotics, ask your doctor if you should be considered allergic to other and even all beta lactams. The beta lactam-containing antibiotics are even more broad than just penicillin-type antibiotics and cephalasporins and also include very potent and broad-spectrum activity non penicillin and non cephalosporin antibiotics such as Primaxin (imipenem) other "penems" and aztreonam (all are injection only drugs at this time).

Also use of Cleocin (clindamycin) is very significantly associated with a diarrhea that may prove fatal if the specific toxin that causes this "pseudomembranous colitis diarrhea" is not quickly neutralized with either oral vancomycin or Flagyl (metronidazole), very different types of antibiotics that kill the Clostridium difficile bacterial overgrowth germ that produces the toxin. In fact, use of any antibiotic or anticancer drug may result in this type of serious diarrhea that needs this specific treatment. But this complication is particularly associated with use of clindamycin (even short exposures) and more than 10 day courses of all other antibiotics.

It is best to treat cellulitis and indeed any minor skin infection, with warm soaks several times a day, before resorting to use of antibiotics and surgical incision to drain pus and look for a foreign body. Packing material, if needed, can also be made of any wick shaped piece of clean latex to temporarily drain pus and other fluids. As long as there is no latex (rubber) allergy, one may improvise to use a clean and rinsed of powder residue strip from a latex glove, unlubricated condom, or even a balloon. Change the packing material daily. When drainage of fluid from the wound slows, usually only takes 1-3 days, let the wound close on its own after irrigating it with warm sterile (requires vigorous boil for 10 min) water or packaged sterile saline solution.

Pharmacists are also great resources for their knowledge of drug side effects and allergy-related issues. Diabetics or people taking steroids (such as for asthma, bronchitis, lupus and other rheumatologic diseases, etc), should expect their blood sugars to go very high when they experience infections and understand that their bodies are less capable of fighting infections.

Bottom line: people with medical skills and knowledge and those with mechanical and gardening knowledge, etc. need to band together and help each other out when the situation calls for more than a few band aids, an epoxy repair, and growing a few veggies for supplemental fresh produce in the summer. - Yorrie in Pennsylvania (a retired physician)

In the "Why am I Not Surprised?" Department: Clinton targets assault weapons. "US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she'll be arguing for tougher gun controls as part of efforts to help Mexico fight violent drugs cartels." Okay, so let me get this straight: Hitlery says that we should give up our Second Amendment rights in order to stop drug gangs from misusing guns in Mexico. What is next? Giving up our First Amendment rights, in order to stop libel and slander in Canada? (They might use American-made typewriters and bullhorns, dontcha-know...) OBTW, here is the none-too-subtle spin on this invented topic, from CBS. (BTW, I used to call CBS the "Rather Biased network." Dan Rather is gone, but the bias is obviously still there.)

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And speaking of Mexico: Glenn Beck says Mexico may trigger an American collapse (Hat tip to E.L.)

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The New California Gold Rush: Modern-day gold diggers party like it's 1849

"The closest I ever got to the outdoors was the Ralph Lauren section at Neiman Marcus." - Alicia Coppola as Mimi Clark, Jericho

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Scientist magazine article recently published an important article titled "Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe." The article outlines possible scenarios for the risk of solar storms that could severely damage national grids and vital electrical and electronic systems. The effects would be catastrophic and devolve societies into a desperate survival situation for individuals.

One quote from the article:
"Over the last few decades, western civilisations have busily sown the seeds of their own destruction. Our modern way of life, with its reliance on technology, has unwittingly exposed us to an extraordinary danger: plasma balls spewed from the surface of the sun could wipe out our power grids, with catastrophic consequences."

Could off-grid standby equipment such as power generators or solar cells also be damaged? See the National Academy of Sciences report. (After registering, you can download a free PDF file of the report): Best Regards, - Gregg T

JWR Replies: I've received more than 20 letters in the past 48 hours from readers concerned about this article. In my opinion, this natural "EMP-like" effect is just another reason to get prepared. The probability in any given lifetime is quite low, but the impact if it were to happen would be devastating.

Most home non-grid-tied photovoltaic, micro-hydro, and wind power systems will probably be safe from a Carrington Event. (The field strength and coupling effects will be roughly analogous to that of nuclear EMP.) If you have a microprocessor-controlled battery charge controller, then one fairly inexpensive measure is to buy a spare. But for most of us, buying a spare large inverter is cost-prohibitive. In the event that your large (whole-house) inverter get fried, then perhaps your could plan to revert to DC-only system, and store a couple of spare small inverters for crucial AC loads.

As with any other "EMP redundant" radios and other electronics, you should store your spares in ammo cans, all-metal cookie tins, or similarFaraday cage structures.

Much has been written in all the various books, discussion groups and forums about acquiring the best G.O.O.D. bag, BOVs and medical kits. Much has been said about what garden seeds to get and the best lead delivery systems to have. There's been endless discussions about setting up the most survivable retreat and packing the maps to help get you there. ...But I recall very little talk about what you don't need.

I've lived on the family farm all my life. I've also spent a great deal of time delivering survival supplies to Indian Reservation all over the US. I'm currently managing a Farm Museum. And I spend a good deal of time visiting several Amish communities nearby. In all these endeavors, I've had occasion to visit people living on the land. I look closely at how various folks and cultures manage how they live.

On many of the Reservations, there's trash along the roads and cars up on blocks in many fields. It's common for someone to take a tire off a vehicle because they just need it until they get a new tire for a different car. Then they "borrow" the battery, then maybe a headlight/radio/other tire/gas tank etc. Next thing you know, there's a permanent memorial to G.M. sitting in the drive. It all contributes to an environment of futility and hopelessness.

In Amish country, some farms are neat as a pin, and others are just falling apart. I stopped by one yesterday that was just depressing. Not a blade of grass, not a flower bed, dirt and chicken manure everywhere. The signs advertising maple syrup for sale, were hanging akimbo. I stepped in the house to talk to the family, and the clutter was an accident waiting to happen. The man of the farm was as messy as his farm. I doubt he gets up in the morning thinking how much he is looking forward to going out to the beauty of his place.

On the many "English", (Amish term term meaning anybody not Amish), farms I visit while collecting for the museum, it's much the same. A friend of mine lives on a diary farm not far from here. There's several falling down buildings full of grand dad's rusty stuff, none of it useful any more. There's discarded and rotting feed sacks inches deep in the milk house. And lots of unused and unusable equipment scattered across the yard. He farms, he makes a profit. He has pretty good hay for sale. But his working environment,...ughh ! Where he works and how he works holds him back. He can't get as much done for all the junk in his way. Other farms are models of efficiency.

What I've learned over many years of "farming", is that farming gets harder or easier depending on how organized you are. If all your tools are well kept and organized in one place, every repair job is much easier, ..there's no need to spend half your time searching for a misplaced wrench. If what you look at, as you walk to the barn, is neat and cared for, it tends to help you feel more like doing the next job. If your place is a mess, with lots of undone chores to do, it can get so overwhelming that you to just want to say the heck with it, there's too much to do.

Right now our society is still functioning fairly well. Most places, the government does its second most important job fairly well. Once a week the trash gets picked up. After the SHTF, getting rid of junk will be much more difficult. When you are getting your retreat ready for what seems more likely every day, consider this. If the economy collapses, what you have is what you will have. The more helpful stuff, the better. The less trash, the better. I suggest you be rigorous, right now, about getting rid of the things that won't help you survive in tough times. Right now, it's fairly easy to do.

If a dead washing machine is sitting out back, cut out the metal side panels for use on some other project and maybe save the motor if it's working. But get rid of the rest of it either thru a scrap yard or trash pick-up. If you don't, it's just going to rot away and cause you trouble later on. If the power goes off and there's no more gas, consider using the last half pint you have to move your BOV to some out of the way place. Once it's parked, it's going to be there a very long time. You'll be tempted to keep many things, thinking that someday you'll need/fix them. But if you can't get them running now, it's less likely you will when the electricity goes off. You might think of it like inner city graffiti. The first day you see it, it might have some "artist value". But as it deteriorates, it just drags the whole neighborhood down.

The environment you live in really does effect the way you feel and work. Right now, get rid of what you don't need. Arrange your retreat as neat and clean as you can. It will make all the thousand other jobs of self-sufficiency easier. Give it a thought, what you don't clean up now, may be a real hindrance later on. The neater you are now, the more efficient and happy you will be now, and...later. - - Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment, Ohio

There was a bit of a ‘covert’ Survivalblog gathering at Front Sight recently. Along with Tim R & Tantalum Tom I was also in attendance earlier in March. I have two grown sons, both of which had expressed a desire to have a handgun for home defense. As a law enforcement officer and former SWAT team member I am familiar with the operation of and responsibility with owning a gun. I am confident in my training and ability to defend my home and family through that training. My two sons, however, had barely even held a gun, let alone fired it. This spurred me to obtain the proper training as any responsible gun owner should do, and when I heard about the "get a Gun " promotion for the four day Defensive Handgun course that Dr. Piazza was offering, I jumped on board for all three of us.

Both of my sons were shocked when I made the presentation to them last year. Before doing so, they knew something was coming, but had no idea as to exactly what it was. When I gave them the course, including transportation and lodging, they were both flabbergasted and ecstatic. Imagine how amazed they were to find they would also be using a brand new gun of their choosing which would belong to them upon completion of the course, with Front Sight sending it back to our local FFL dealer. I gave them this present last July, and thanks to Front Sight’s generous scheduling policy, I had the luxury of planning the trip at my convenience, choosing dates in mid March.

The trip to Vegas was go od, where we rented a car and drove out to Pahrump, about 50 miles to the west. We even had enough time that first day to go back to Vegas where we feasted on the sights and sounds of ‘The Strip’ and one of the many great buffets, catching a show afterwards. On Friday we drove up to the front gate at Front Sight where we were welcomed and directed to the check in location. Often times any of us are nervous when doing something for the first time, especially in unfamiliar territory far from home. But here we were greeted with a smile by a well organized and helpful staff. Nerves disappeared almost immediately, replaced by the excitement of what was to come.

The five days there were phenomenal, especially as I had the honor of sharing that voyage of discovery with my two sons. You’ve undoubtedly read the commentaries from other attendees, so I will spare you from repetition other than to say the education I received was excellent. I put some 800 rounds through my [Springfield Armory] .45 XD and by the end of my time there it felt so natural in my hand to be almost a part of me.

I was most taken back by the staff who make it truly phenomenal. I will refer to my range-master as the ‘Stair’-Master who took us, step by step, through their procedures in such a natural way. He was informative, professional, friendly, o pen and knew what he was teaching inside out and back to front. But to be perfectly honest, you could say the same for all of them. There were times when we had seven or eight instructors on the line with us. Talk about individual coaching and instruction! Unheard of! This by far is the best firearm instruction I have ever received, and would recommend it to anyone, both novice and expert alike.

In addition to receiving great instruction on the range, we were also afforded some informative and well thought out lectures introducing the concept of owning, using, choosing and carrying a gun. The presenters make it interesting and use their experience and real life situations to better relate to the student body. I even found myself enacting one scenario out with them in a realistic, unscripted way that I have to say, would be very realistic given the situation they presented.

I would also recommend the lunches available through pre-order from ‘Beach Café’, linked through the Front Sight web site. They deliver lunches daily and I found them more than sufficient to get me through the day. As others have said, make sure you hydrate, dress appropriately (layers) and expect to spend long days there which whiz by with all that you do. The coffee is plentiful and the friends you will make from those around you will make it even more special. Come the last day I ‘slowly, carefully, reluctantly’ placed my gun back in its holster and shook the hands of the new friends I had made, determined to return and further my education on a later date. Cruise eBay for some first time student gray course certificates and you too can attend some of their courses at a great rate where you will then discover the awesome deals available to return students. Folks, you will not be disappointed, and you will feel so much better prepared in your ability to protect yourself, your home, and most importantly, your loved ones. - DeFuz

HPD sent this: Geithner plan will rob American taxpayers: Stiglitz

Kevin A. recommended a piece by Bill Fleckenstein over at The Silver Bear Café: Got gold? You're right on the money. Here is a quote: "We are attempting to print our way to prosperity. That can't be done, any more than we could speculate our way to prosperity during the stock bubble or borrow our way to prosperity in the real-estate/credit bubble."

Jeff K. suggested: Bernanke Inserts Gun in Mouth. Jeff's comment: "We disagree on inflation versus deflation [in the next few years], but one must take notice when a mainstream blogger like Denninger advises preparing for WTSHTF. (See the last paragraphs [of the Market Ticker article].)"

Items from The Economatrix:

Financial Overhaul Plan Draws GOP Opposition

Roubini: Stocks Will Drop, Banks Will Go Belly Up

Geithner Wants Power Over Hedge Funds, Derivatives

Geithner Power Grab Worries Editors

Dollar Dips on Geithner's Loose Talk

Ford to Dump Volvo at Huge Loss

US Backing for World Currency Stuns Markets

IMF Rescues Romania and Serbia

One Small Problem with Geithner's Plan: it Will Bankrupt the Banks

Total Fraud (The Mogambo Guru)

Gold Spikes After Geithner Speaks on Dollar

Cheryl noticed this over at Steve Quayle's site: Growing Food in Times of Scarcity

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Thanks to regular content contributor HPD for sending this: America's Abandoned Cities

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Vasiilly e-mailed me to mention the Still Tasty web site, where there is lots of data on the shelf lives of various foods.

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Currie sent a link to an interesting PDF at a web site in Canada that describes how to used cooking oil for fuel.

"The net effect of the failures in banking is that a lot of people have less money than they expected they would have a year ago. This is bad enough, given our habits and practices of modern life. But what happens when farming collapses? The prospect for that is closer than most of us might realize. The way we produce our food has been organized at a scale that has ruinous consequences, not least its addiction to capital. Now that banking is in collapse, capital will be extremely scarce. Nobody in the cities reads farm news, or listens to farm reports on the radio. Guess what, though: we are entering the planting season. It will be interesting to learn how many farmers “out there” in the Cheez Doodle belt are not able to secure loans for this year’s crop." - James H. Kunstler Peak Oil: What's Next?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The author is SurvivalBlog reader Dr. K , an active duty American military physician. (Part I--on treating ingrown toenails--was posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2009.)

The skin has three layers.
1. The epidermis is the outermost layer. It protects our bodies from the environment and has pigment cells.
2. The dermis is the middle layer, and it contains hair follicles, sweat glands, oil glands, and capillaries.
3. The hypodermis (or subcutaneous layer) is the inner layer, and it contains layers of fat that provides cushion and insulation for our body… some more than others.
Any of these layers can become infected, in whole or in part. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, that minor scratch could lead to a painful death. Knowledge is vitally important. Understanding how to prevent and treat a skin infection is relatively straightforward, and it could be a matter of life and death when TSHTF.
Signs of a skin infection are pain, redness, swelling, warmth and/or drainage of pus.

Cellulitis: a diffuse infection of the dermis and subcutaneous tissues. Signs of cellulitis are red, warm, swollen, and tender skin.
Erysipelas: similar to cellulitis, but this infection is more superficial and has very clear borders.
Skin abscess: a collection of pus that is in the dermis and subcutaneous tissues. An abscess presents as a tender mass just under the skin. It is pink to red and may be warm to the touch.
Furunlce (or “boil”): an infection of the hair follicle that causes an abscess.
Carbuncle: a collection of several boils that grow together. This looks like a very large abscess.

These skin infections can develop in any individual and most are caused by bacteria. Having minor scrapes and cuts, insect bites, rashes, burns, swelling, or being around another person with a skin infection can increase your risk. Having diabetes, being immunosuppressed (HIV, on chemotherapy medicines, autoimmune disease, etc.), or having a history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections also increases your risk.
If an infection is left untreated, it can keep spreading into the surrounding tissues and into the bloodstream. This may lead to local tissue damage, a body-wide infection, and even death in a worst case scenario.
All skin wounds, no matter how minor, should be cleaned and dressed immediately. Changing the dressing when it becomes wet or dirty will aid in prevention. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, you cannot afford to brush aside that thorn scratch or knife nick. Take the time to clean it right away. Skin infections don’t care how tough you think you are.

Cellulitis and erysipelas are sometimes watched and not treated with antibiotics right away. However, if these infections become severe (which can happen quickly), IV antibiotics are the best choice. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, IV antibiotics will be much harder to store and/or obtain. Because of this, I recommend using oral antibiotics with cellulitis and erysipelas immediately.
Antibiotics are typically not needed with a draining abscess or after an incision and drainage (I&D). Once the pus pocket is ruptured, your immune system usually takes care of things rather well. However, I would start antibiotics if a growing redness and warmth develops after the wound has been drained.
Also, I would start antibiotics right away if the patient has multiple skin infections, the patient is immunosuppressed, the patient has previous MRSA infections, or if the patient has signs of body-wide infection (feeling ill, fever, nausea and/or vomiting, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, etc.).
Any of the following oral antibiotics (unless there is an allergy) should be used for 10 days minimum, but can be used longer as long as the infection is improving (search past Survivalblog posts for medication procurement):
Cleocin (clindamycin) 300 mg every 6 hours (currently treats most MRSA)
Dicloxacillin 500 mg every 6 hours
Keflex (cephalexin) 500 mg every 6 hours
Cleocin (clindamycin) 30-40 mg/kg per day divided in 3-4 doses (treats most MRSA)
Dicloxacillin 25-50 mg/kg per day divided in 4 doses
Keflex (cephalexin) 25-50 mg/kg per day divided in 3-4 doses

Non-Surgical Treatment
Small boils and small abscesses may respond very well to non-surgical treatments:
* Keep the infected area elevated.
* Warm compresses (a clean wash cloth soaked in hot water and wrung out) and warm water soaks will help promote drainage.
* If it comes to a head, continue with warm compresses until it ruptures.
* Wash with antibacterial soap.
* Continue to use warm compresses until the pus stops flowing.
* Apply antibacterial ointment (such as Neosporin) over the wound.
* Keep a clean and dry dressing in place over the wound.
* Wash the wound and change the dressing 2-3 times a day.
* There should be improvement in about a week.
* If there is a growing area of redness and warmth, consider antibiotic treatment.

Surgical Treatments:

Incision and Drainage
Larger boils, larger abscesses, and carbuncles require incision and drainage (I&D) to heal.
Note: A surgical option, regardless of the problem, is always best treated by someone who has been trained to perform the procedure. You don’t want to be patient number one in a survival situation. Finally, while I am explaining how to do this procedure, I only recommend that you attempt this in a post-TEOTWAWKI scenario where there are no other healthcare options. Proceed at your own risk.
Light (a bright headlamp works well. Consider working outside in the bright sunlight.)
Non-sterile gloves
Sterile gloves
Alcohol or povidone-iodine solution (sold as Betadine)
Gauze pads
10-mL syringe
25- to 30-gauge needle
12- to 18-gauge needle if desired
Lidocaine 1% or 2%
No. 11 or 15 blade scalpel or sterile razor blade
Curved hemostats (small device that resembles scissors but has curved clamps instead of blades) a pair of needle nosed pliers (sterilized) can be used in a pinch
Packing material (such as iodoform gauze which are thin medicated gauze strips)

Dressing Materials:
Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
Gauze for wrapping the wound
Roll of 1-inch tape

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Have the patient get into a comfortable position. Have them lie down if possible just in case they pass out - it can happen to anyone! [JWR Adds: Vasovegal and other fainting responses are highly unpredictable. Just the sight of spurting blood can induce a faint in even someone that big and macho. In two separate incidents, I've personally witnessed two "manly men" who claimed "no problem, it won't bother me" pass out, unconscious, within moments of seeing their own blood.]

2. Clean the wound. Put on non-sterile gloves and clean the entire wound and surrounding tissue with povidine-iodine or alcohol.
3. Numb the wound with medicine: The easiest method is a field block. Inject the lidocaine around the base of the wound on all sides. If the wound is not on a small body part, you can use lidocaine with epinephrine.
Note: Make sure the lidocaine does not have epinephrine in it if the wound is on a small body part. Epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it clamps down blood vessels. This can prevent circulation. If you stop circulation with medicine, you have no idea how long it will last, and you could kill tissue. Your patient won’t feel the procedure, but they may lose a body part! Bottom line: Never use epinephrine on the fingers, toes, ears, penis, or nose.
Note: Please read how to load lidocaine and inject it in Part I: Ingrown Toenails. [JWR Adds: Of course check for contraindications and potential drug interactions before using any "-caine" drugs!]
Note: Please read how to dull the pain without medicine in Part I: Ingrown Toenails

4. Make an incision. Using the scalpel blade or sterile razor blade make a straight cut the entire length of the abscess (the deepest red central portion of the abscess). The cut should be deep enough to go to the subcutaneous tissues. Try to follow the natural skin folds for a more cosmetic healing (do an online image search for “cleavage skin lines” to see an illustration). For small infections, you may be able to drain the abscess by perforating it with the large bore (a 12-18 gauge) needle.
5. Probe the incision if large enough. If there are no pain meds, this will be painful. Insert the curved hemostats to slowly spread out the tissues under the cut. This will break up some of the connective tissues that may be holding pockets of pus. You also may find a foreign body (thorn, glass, etc.) that was actually causing the infection.
6. Express the wound. Provide gentle pressure to the sides of the wound to squeeze out any extra pus and blood. Do not be aggressive here.
7. Pack the wound. If the wound is big enough to leave a pocket, then filling the wound with a medicated packing material (iodoform gauze) will aid in healing. Using the hemostats, stuff the material into the wound until full. Leave about a half inch hanging out of the wound. This tail aids in drainage. Trim to size with a pair of scissors.
If the wound is not very large, you do not need to pack it.
8. Dress the wound. Apply antibiotic ointment over wound. Apply a bulky gauze wrap, but do not wrap it too tight. It will throb as sensation returns. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
9. Check the wound after 24 hours. If there continues to be more pus draining, remove the packing material, repack the wound, and change the dressing. Keep checking every 24 hours. When the drainage stops, perform warm water soaks 3-5 times daily, change the dressing, and apply topical antibiotic ointment. Healing should occur in 7 to 10 days.

Surgical Complications
Infection: The wound will have some initial throbbing, but should start to improve dramatically in a few days. If your patient is having an increase in pain, swelling, redness, warmth, or drainage, there is likely a continuing or secondary infection. If this occurs, start antibiotics as described above. Consider probing the abscess a second time to make sure no pockets of pus are hiding.

Things to consider
If the wound involves the hand or the abscess is very large, it will be very difficult to treat without IV antibiotics and potentially major surgery. This would be a case where attempting to find a physician may outweigh the risks of leaving your retreat. In rare cases a skin infection can spread to the facial tissue (this is called necrotizing fasciitis or “flesh eating disease”). Signs of this infection are intense pain out of proportion to the wound, fast swelling, spreading redness, fever, and vomiting. This would be a case where lack of immediate surgery by highly trained physicians will mean death.

It will be difficult to acquire hands on training for this procedure unless you work in the medical field. However, this is a fairly straightforward procedure. If you see it once, most people should be able to repeat it. One way to see how it is done is to go to the doctor with a friend or family member who has an abscess or boil. Another option is to do an online video search for “I&D”. There are currently a few videos up that give a nice demonstration.

In Part I of his article, Dr. K. mentioned some options on do-it-yourself cautery. My suggestion is to consider buying new tips [not contaminated by solder metals and rosin] and a butane soldering torch for times when no electricity is available. For example, see:

Tectra Tools

Regards, - Craig W.

From Joan M.: Sen. Gregg Criticizes 'Banana Republic' Budget Proposal A quote: “The ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee warned on Monday that President Obama's budget proposal will lead to unsustainable debt levels and send the country on a fiscal path resembling that of a 'banana republic….called the deficit estimates attached to the budget plan "staggering," and he warned that such deficits would trigger a national debt that amounts to "running your country into the ground.'"

MVR sent this interesting perspective on the US Dollar and debt from Thailand: The real US financial crisis has yet to begin

G.G. sent this: U.K. Gilts Slump After First ‘Failed’ Bond Auction Since 1995

Steve W. liked this one: Daniel Hannan MEP: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

Items from The Economatrix:

Economy Brings Out Entrepreneurial Spirit

EU Presidency: US and UK Economic Recovery Plans are "A Way To Hell"

Obama Declares "Signs of Progress" for US Economy. (Shhhh! Don't tell him about the Alt-A and Option-ARM rate resets peaking in 2010 and 2011. We mustn't discourage him)

Goldman Sachs to Return $10 Billion Bailout

Vandals Target Sir Fred Goodwin's (Former RBS Boss) House and Car

Japanese Exports Plunge 50%

Czech Government Collapses Over Economic Crisis. (I told you so: "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." (SurvivalBlog: September 25, 2006.)

Freeze the $1.5 Quadrillion Derivatives as First Step to Recovery

Peter Schiff: Stimulus Bill Will Lead to "Unmitigated Disaster"

Ron Paul on Obama's Stimulus

Why the End of America is Closer than You Think

Obama to Meet With Top Bank CEOs on Friday

Airlines Group Predict Huge Industry Losses

BofA Shareholder Looks to Oust CEO from Board

Just when you thought that you had all the eventualities covered: Komodo dragons kill Indonesian fisherman. (A hat tip to Tamara's View From The Porch blog, for the link.)

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I was recently contacted by a producer with GRB Entertainment. She wrote: "We are currently looking for a travel expert/adventurer/survivalist who might be interested in hosting a television series. We need someone who is very outgoing and social while also having knowledge in survivalist skills. They can have a military background or just knowledge in the field and we're preferably looking for a male around the age of 35. They mist be very charismatic with the ability to travel and "survive" or show survival skills in remote locations throughout the world. Camera friendly but knowledgeable in the field." Contact: Anna Stopper. E-mail JWR Adds: I'm sure that someone that reads SurvivalBlog will be a perfect match. Serious enquiries only, please. OBTW, I'll provide the hat.

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FFF sent this: Thrifty shoppers ‘Sold!’ on grocery auctions

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By popular demand, the folks at Everlasting Seeds (one of our advertisers) have introduced a new Medicinal Herb Garden in a Can product. It is offered either with or without a length of Goldenseal rhizome.

"These derivatives are the root of the credit crunch. Why? Unlike all other property paper, derivatives are not required by law to be recorded, continually tracked and tied to the assets they represent.
Nobody knows precisely how many there are, where they are, and who is finally accountable for them. Thus, there is widespread fear that potential borrowers and recipients of capital with too many
nonperforming derivatives will be unable to repay their loans. As trust in property paper breaks down it sets off a chain reaction, paralyzing credit and investment, which shrinks transactions and leads to a
catastrophic drop in employment and in the value of everyone's property." - Hernando de Soto

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

About 250 people were there the recent week that I took the four day Defensive Handgun course at Front Sight. I was the only bozo who slept in their car outside their gates the whole four days. I couldn't afford a hotel. That budget item was a "make or break" issue for my trip. I learned that a zero degree rated sleeping bag might be an overly optimistic rating. But, there is basically unlimited unimproved camping space there on BLM land. Bring your RV, or a much better sleeping bag for winter camping there. There is even a dirt airstrip on the charts a couple of miles away if you're a pilot.

I'm not a professional pedagogist, but I can recognize extremely high quality teaching methods. This place has it. Technical vocabulary was not used unless defined and explained earlier. One step built on the preceding. Two steps forward, half step back to review, continue, unrelenting and informative. I believe I was mostly in the category of unintentionally incompetent. I knew a thing or two, but came to realize, there is more to learn than I realistically can foresee myself learning. I'll try though. I believe they left out many basic firearms details for sake of time. (e.g., “This is a cartridge, primer, gun, etc...)
Two guns used by classmates broke while I was there. Both were M1911 style. For one, they gracefully loaned him a gun to continue, as he had no backup. One other gun (Glock .45) was malfunctioning often. I blame that squarely on the user though, as he was the only one who had mistakes during dry practice. Bang when there should be click.

The lectures were eye-opening, lively and fun! The lecturers have definitely “been there done that.” Imminently knowledgeable in all matters of handheld weaponry. Cops, Sheriff's Deputies, EMTs, Paramedics, etc. One rangemaster there had 30 years in Army special forces training. Not a single Mall Ninja.

I have never had a gun on my person for any extended length of time. I learned a great lesson, It feels great to be armed.

There were more women there than I'd ever seen at any weapons venue! (I haven't been to many though.) My guess (not an estimate) about 30-to-40.

I met R. from Utah. I recognized the story they shared in a lecture to one that I'd read here at SurvivalBlog! Their story will now be incorporated into the Front Sight lectures!

While there, malfunction drills are taught. Live rounds are discarded on the firing line during this procedure. Our range master said it was undesirable to re-use those rounds, but he wasn't going to stop us from retrieving them. He called them “range carp” Good to fish for, but not to eat. [After the range closed, with permission] I was able to secure several hundred 9mm rounds, about one hundred .45s and about thirty.40 S&Ws, and I could have left with many many more had I been even a bit more aggressive in their collection and also scrounged at the other firing ranges. Great barter item, Great price.

Their claim to teach people how to shoot better than 95% of the people who carry guns may be outdated. The FBI special agent in my class mentioned that the things they were teaching at Front Sight are now taught in many police academies. He could be wrong, I don't know. [JWR Adds: Imitation has always been a high form of flattery. In fact, many of the techniques taught at Front Sight are derivations of what was taught by the late Col. Jeff Cooper, back in the days of Orange Gunsite. Front Sight has refined and updated them, and has had the opportunity to teach them to a much larger audience, ]

Everyone in my class improved. The “ragged hole drill” with five rounds live fire, five clicks dry then five rounds live fire again really worked, for everyone. Dry practice is the way to go!

Count one through five, prrress!

As they said, paraphrased and modified, “90% of shooting is getting the gun out and pointing in”

I graduated! After not visiting a shooting range in more than 1-1/2 years, I think that's a decent achievement.

I have just purchased a Glock 22 in .40 S&W. This is due to the fact that I rented their gun, a Glock 17. These guns are almost identical, except their chambering. I now have muscle memory for that frame, and I don't want to re-train! Also, because I just shot 600 rounds though a Glock with no malfunctions whatsoever. The Glock 22 .40 comes standard with a bigger boom than the Glock 17 9mm. Sadly, however, I still live in California, so I am limited to and 10 round magazines. [JWR Adds: I recommend that California residents go a step further and buy a Glock or XD pistol chambered in .45 ACP. As long as you are limited to 10 rounds, then you might as well have a more potent caliber. There is something just wrong about having a gun originally designed to hold 15 to 19 cartridges neutered into a 10-rounder, by legislative edict!]

I plan on prepping my resume to see if I'm up to the greater challenge to take their instructor development course. - Tantalum Tom

Hello Mr. Rawles;
I'm a long time reader of your blog. I would like to recommend a new novel called, "One Second After" by William R. Forstchen. It deals with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event which occurs in the United States. The author apparently consulted with military experts, and it has an afterword by Captain Bill Sanders, U.S.N., and the Foreword is by Newt Gingrich.

Though the book is lacking in survival details, it does realistically convey the frightening impact on American civilization. The need for obtaining food is prevalent, and it does show the benefits of having a good food storage system. There are some weaknesses, for instance, I've wondered how they seemed to have an endless supply of gasoline, and how the military ultimately brings back civilization, much like "Alas Babylon". The author does a good job with characterization, and the plot moves along quickly. I would say it would be a good addition to a "survivalist" home library.

I'm looking forward to the next release of "Patriots" , it'll go on my shelf with my other two copies [of the earlier edition]. (I always keep a loaner copy). - Harry in the Adirondack Mountains

I’m writing you today after our rural home/retreat was broken into while we were at work. I thought it would never happen to me, Oh, was I so very wrong. First things first, thank you for convincing me to purchase a safe and after reading the suggestion many times in you blog I eventually bolted it down. This is the only thing that saved me from losing the safe and all of its contents. The Sheriff told me of another burglary where the didn’t have his very large ("they can’t move it--its too heavy") safe bolted down and they took the whole thing. After much thinking, online research and discussions with the local locksmith/safe dealer with 40 years of experience, I have some suggestions that may be of use to my fellow SurvivalBlog readers:

ANCHOR YOUR SAFE!!! I cannot stress this enough. I had a fairly low end safe and they were not able to get into it (they almost did) nor were they able get it out of the house. The Sheriff's deputy estimated they worked on it for two to three hours to no avail. These thieves tore a wall out to try to gain more access to it.

I have decided that a safe is my final line of defense from a burglar.

First thing, put gates at the entrance to your retreat and lock them as I now have. Put all tools out of sight as the thieves used my hammers, pry bars to work on the safe. Reinforce the door jambs in your home. I have added 3-inch screws to the door hinges and a steel plate behind the striker plates with 3 inch screws. If your budget permits add an alarm with an outside strobe light. This may or may not help depending on where your home is located. We are on a paved county road with our retired neighbor who has a line of sight to our home a quarter mile away. If it would happen again our neighbor would be there in short order. As for dogs, I don’t know, I have three and they did not stop them. From what I have gathered unless you have a trained security dog they don’t help much, they just kick them out the door and go about their business. Don’t leave keys/combinations in your home while away. They opened every cabinet door, drawer, trunk, dresser, night stand, picture frames and closet in the house and emptied them. There was only one cabinet door they didn’t open which was the one with my truck keys in it which was in the driveway.

Don’t put anything in or under the beds, ours were all flipped upside down. Don’t leave any firearms out and loaded while away, you don’t want to come home and be confronted by your own weapon in the hands of a criminal. Do what you can now before a burglary to make your home less inviting to a thief. If they want in they will get in given enough time. I feel bad saying this but if your neighbors’ home is less secure than yours they will go visit your neighbor. My worry now is they have been in my home, will they be back since they know I may have something worth getting.

After a lengthy discussion with the locksmith/safe technician. The strongest way to secure to concrete is the Powers/Rawl brand wedge bolt +. Don’t use the lead "bullets" or drive in anchors. He told me a story of removing 16 safes for a chain of stores that were bolted down with these style anchors. If you can get a pry bar started under one corner you can pull them right out. The wedge bolts cut threads in the concrete with no inserts. He stated you will pull the floor out of the safe before the anchors pull out. If you’re anchoring to a wood floor and you have an unfinished basement you should use a steel plate. Use 1/8” or 3/16” [thick] flat steel plate large enough to catch at least three floor joists. Screw the plate to the bottom of the floor joist. Use an extra-long drill bit to drill down from the safe thru the steel plate. Get hardened bolts long enough to be installed from the bottom, cut a piece of pipe slightly larger than the bolt but shorter than the floor joist is tall and slide it over the bolt as you are installing it. This will make it very difficult to cut the bolts as the pipe will spin freely on the bolt. Be sure to "double nut" them inside the safe. The last step is to weld the bolt heads to the steel plate.

Thanks for all the good information on your blog. I hope maybe someone reading your blog my find some of this info useful and maybe prevent someone from entering their home. I didn’t sleep well for a week, the wife and I are still a little on edge and everyone who drives by is suspect! This makes you feel very insecure knowing someone has been in your home and went thru all your things. I wish I would have made our place more secure before and maybe this would never have happened! The Sheriff told me this is getting much more frequent and I agree it will get worse. God Bless, - Jason in Missouri.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that letter, Jason! Hopefully it will motivate folks to up their level of home security and vigilance. I agree that the home gun safe should be the last line of defense. One intermediate line of defense is concealment. Burglars cannot attack a safe if they don't know it exists. See the SurvivalBlog archives for a variety of articles and letters that discuss hidden rooms, such as this one, or this one, both from 2007.

Lisa forwarded us the link to the PDF of a new think tank report: Manning the barricades: Who's at risk as deepening economic distress foments social unrest

SurvivalMama sent a great Schumeresque snippet from Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality With Both Hands blog:

Q: What if markets never recover, the assets are not fundamentally undervalued, and even when held to maturity the government doesn't make back its money?
A: Then we have worse things to worry about than government losses on TARP-program money--for we are then in a world in which the only things that have value are bottled water, sewing needles, and ammunition."

Reader D.D. suggested this from Jim Jubak: Fluke? Credit crisis was a heist

Also from D.D.: The five biggest lies on Wall Street

Items from The Economatrix:

Geithner Seeks Sweeping New Powers Over Financial (Non-Bank) Companies

IMF: Economic Slump to Engulf the World

Fears of Record Hedge Fund Withdrawals (I warned you about this, back in October, 2007!)

Savers Withdraw Money as Returns Deteriorate

Nine AIG Top Bonus Earners Agree to Repay in Full

China to Keep Buying Treasuries

Geithner's Plan "Extremely Dangerous" Says Economist

Falling Dollar Prompts BRIC Dollar Reserve Rethink

Job-saving Nonsense (The Mogambo Guru)

Peter Schiff: All Bubbles Burst

Administration Seeks to Free Frozen Credit Market

Another Saab (Sob) Story: Sweden Says No to Saving Saab

Millions Take to Streets in Economic Protests

Thanks to Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) for sending this: How To Grow Strawberries At Home To Start Your Victory Garden

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The current huge popularity of gardening books (like the Square Foot Gardening book--presently #23 on, is obviously much more than just a seasonal blip. People are clearly getting quite concerned about the economy. So it is just a display of good old-fashioned common sense for folks to revert to self-sufficiency mode. I'm glad to see this happen. Two other popular books that are riding this wave of popularity are: Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon, and The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

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KT sent this: You and I Can't Buy the Guns Mexican Cartels Own: The Administration is Not Dealing Straight With Us on Mexico's Gun Problem

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Also courtesy of Cheryl: How to Find Free Stuff

"Know how to use them so well, that you are able defend yourself at two a.m. as you are at two p.m."- Octavia E. Butler Parable of the Sower

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The author is Dr. K., an active duty American military physician. I plan to post Part 2 on Thursday.


Onychocryptosis (ON-ee-ko-krip-TOE-sis), an ingrown toenail, is a very common problem that usually affects the big toe. This occurs when the corner of the toenail grows into the soft tissue on the side of the toe. This can cause pain, redness, inflammation, and even an infection. Signs of an infection are warmth and drainage of pus. Prevention and treatment of an ingrown toenail is relatively basic, and it is a valuable skill to have at TEOTWAWKI.

An ingrown toenail is caused when the nail curves down and grows into the skin at the nail border. The most common causes of an ingrown toenail are improperly trimmed toenails and poorly fitting footwear. Other causes include unusually curved toenails, excessive sweating, trauma, fungal infections which cause the nail to grow abnormally, cancers, and even obesity.

If an infection is left untreated, it can spread into the toe bones. This may lead to amputations, and even death, in rare, worst case scenarios.

If you are working outside a lot, which would be most of us in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, then study boots are recommended; consider steel-toed boots if you don’t already have them. Regardless of the footwear you use, make sure that they fit properly! There should not be too much pressure on the top of your toes, and shoes should not pinch your toes together.

Toenails should be kept at a length even with, or just barely shorter than, the tips of your toes. Too long and toenails can break easily or get jammed into the toenail base. Too short and the toenails can be pushed down by your shoes and grow into the soft tissue of the toe. Trim your toenails straight across or with a slight curve. Do not curve your nails to match your toes, and do not trim the outer angles of your toenails. Finally, do not pick, tear, (or bite!) your toenails; only use a toenail clipper and file.

Non-Surgical Treatments – this treats 70%+ of ingrown toenails
* Wear very comfortable shoes; consider wearing sandals until the ingrown nail resolves.
* Soak the foot in warm water 3-5 times a day for 15-20 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per pint of water.
* Gently push the tissue away from the nail and gently lift the nail up after each soaking.
* Place small, clean tufts of cotton under the edge of the ingrown nail. This relieves some pressure and helps the nail grow above the skin edge.
* Rub a topical antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin) over the ingrown nail.
* Place a soft bandage over the ingrown nail.
* Keep the foot dry.
* Take some acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc.) as directed on the bottle for pain relief.
* If there is no improvement in 2-3 days, then consider the surgical option.

Surgical Treatments: Toenail Removal
Note: If you have had ingrown toenails in the past, there is a good chance you will have ingrown toenails again. If you have had repeated ingrown toenails, consider having your nails surgically treated before TSHTF. A surgical option, regardless of the problem, is always best treated by someone who has been trained to perform the procedure. You don’t want to be patient number one in a survival situation. Finally, while I am explaining how to do this procedure, I only recommend that you attempt this in a post-TEOTWAWKI scenario where there are no other healthcare options. Proceed at your own risk.

The most effective way to treat an ingrown toenail that has not responded to non-surgical treatment is lateral nail avulsion with matricectomy. What does that mean? Let’s break it down. Lateral nail avulsion is digging out and removing one side of the toenail all the way down to the base. Imagine the nail is roughly a square. The ingrown part is on the left side for example. About 1/5 of the nail, the left 1/5, is removed from top to bottom. The remaining 4/5 is left completely intact. Macticectomy is the process of destroying the matrix, or root, of the nail. By removing one side of the nail, the pressure is removed because there is no nail pressing on the tissue any more. This also allows the infection to drain. By destroying the root on that side there is a very slim chance of the toenail growing back in that area. Over time the skin will heal and you will be left with a skinnier toenail that is unlikely to become ingrown again. Now how do you do this?

Light (a bright headlamp works well. Consider working outside in the bright sunlight.)
Non-sterile gloves
Sterile gloves
10-mL syringe
27 to 30-gauge needle
Lidocaine 1% or 2%
Povidone-iodine solution (sold as Betadine at most drug stores)
Gauze pads
Drape (sterile sheet)
Iris scissors (small, 3-4 inch long scissors with fine, sharp points)
Bandage scissors if desired (scissors with one side’s outer edge flattened for protection)
Nail splitter if desired (heavy duty scissors with very short, thick blades)
Hemostats (small device that resembles scissors but has clamps instead of blades) a pair of needle nosed pliers (sterilized) can be used in a pinch
Sterile rubber band if desired
Cautery device – read the step-by-step instructions for details
Dressing Materials:
Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
Gauze for wrapping the toe
Roll of 1-inch tape

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Have the patient lie down on a table with their knees bent. Their feet will be flat on the table. Pull up a chair and put on non-sterile gloves.

2. Clean the entire toe with povidine-iodine.

3. Numb the toe with medicine: If you have lidocaine (1% or 2%) without epinephrine, keep reading to learn how to perform a digital block, i.e. numbing, of the big toe.
Note: Make sure the lidocaine does not have epinephrine in it. Epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it clamps down blood vessels. This can prevent circulation to the toes. If you stop circulation with medicine, you have no idea how long it will last, and you could kill the tissues in the toe. Your patient won’t feel you remove their toenail, but in a few weeks their toe may fall off! Bottom line: Never use epinephrine on the fingers, toes, ears, penis, or nose.

3A.) Load the lidocaine into the syringe. I have no idea what kind of container of lidocaine you will have, but the standard container is a small jar with an injectable, rubber stopper. Remove the cap and clean the stopper with alcohol. Draw back the syringe to draw in about 8-10 mL (or cc’s) of air. Then push the needle into the rubber cover. Inject the air into the jar of lidocaine; this prevents a vacuum from forming after repetitive uses. (If the jar is full, you may have fill the syringe a bit at a time so the rubber cover doesn’t pop off when you inject a full syringe of air – I learned this the hard way!) Invert the jar so the needle tip is completely covered with lidocaine. Draw back the syringe to the 8-10 mL mark. Remove the needle from the jar. Point the needle up. Tap the syringe to get the majority of the air bubbles to the top. Slowly depress the syringe to express the air bubbles from the syringe. Usually a little of the lidocaine will shoot out. It is not vital to remove all the air, just as much as you can.

3B.) Find the MTP joint (metatarsophalangeal joint). The first joint next to the big toenail is the PIP joint (proximal interphalangeal). The second joint, and usually larger of the two, is the MTP – it connects the toe to the rest of the foot.

3C.) Find the injection sites. They are about one-eighth inch above the MTP joint (that is one-quarter inch down the toe, closer to the nail). There are three injection sites: one directly on top of the toe, one exactly on the right side, and one exactly on the left side.

3D.) Inject the lidocaine. Always inject a needle perpendicular to the skin. Puncture the skin with the needle and insert to a depth of about 2 mm (skin is about 1.5 mm thick). Pull back on the syringe to make sure you are not in a blood vessel; if you are, you will see a bunch of bright red blood fill the syringe (if this happens, withdraw the needle and try again a little to the side). You will want to inject about 2 mL of lidocaine at each site. This will sting and burn and then go numb.

3E.) Wait. Wait 5-10 minutes for the block to become effective. If need be, you can give another 1-2 mLs if your patient is still feeling pain. When the toe is numb, proceed.

4. Dull the pain with no medicine: If you do not have lidocaine, things are going to be painful. There are topical numbing medicines available, but these are not nearly as effective as an injection. Most of them are in the same family as lidocaine and are mixed with a cream to make application easier. Another option is to try a topical dental pain reliever such as Orajel or Anbesol (these are topical benzocaine), but again this will only take the edge off. A final option, if you have access to it, is ice; cold temperatures can numb a toe pretty well. An ice water (or snow water) bath is likely the safest way to numb a toe; but be mindful that a cold, numb toe is also a sign of frostbite. It’s a careful balance, and I would always err on the side of too much pain. Pain will go away eventually, but a frostbitten toe may never heal. Keep in mind, depending on the person and their pain tolerance, your patient may be able to just grin and bear it.

5. Re-wash the toe with povidine-iodine. Put on sterile gloves. Place a sterile drape over the foot. A small hole in the drape to pull the toe through will keep your surgical field clean.

6. Insert the tip of your closed iris scissors under the corner of the nail on the side it is ingrown. Work the tip down the entire side freeing it from the tissue of the toe. If there are no pain medications, this will be very painful. You should now have the entire side unattached.

7. Split the nail into two pieces. Using a nail splitter, bandage scissors, or iris scissors cut the nail from the free end straight back to the base. You should now have split the nail into 2 pieces (1/5 is the side with the ingrown nail; 4/5 is the healthy side). These pieces are still connected at the root.

8. Apply tourniquet. Some physicians use a sterilized rubber band to wrap around the toe a few times. This acts as a small tourniquet to reduce blood loss which makes it easier to see what you are doing. Having done both, I personally like having a tourniquet in place. Remember to use the tourniquet for the shortest amount of time possible to avoid permanent damage (less than 10 minutes).

9. Remove the toenail. Grab the ingrown toenail with a hemostat. Attempt to grab as much as possible with one bite. Pull straight out toward the end of the toe and to the side at the same time (do not pull up or down or twist). If the nail breaks, just re-grab the remaining nail and pull in the same motion as before. No piece of nail should remain. Some other tissues can look like a nail deeper at the root, but the nail to be removed is hard to the touch of your hemostat.

10. Destroy the matrix. There are a few ways to do this. The most effective and the easiest to perform at home is cautery. Cauterize (i.e. burn) the nail forming matrix (root) in only the area where the nail root was removed. This is probably the most delicate part of the whole procedure. The idea is to burn just the root and not the surrounding tissue – think of the old game Operation. Cauterize the entire area twice to make sure you didn’t miss a spot. Since most people will not have an electrocautery machine, a small soldering iron [with a fresh tip] will work in a pinch (haven’t you read "Patriots" ?). If you have no electricity, you can consider heating up a thin piece of bare wire in a flame to keep it very hot and use small needle nose pliers to hold it. Another method is to apply a Q-tip soaked in phenol solution to the root. This chemically cauterizes the matrix. This is not as effective and you have to buy and store the solution, but it is another option. Again only apply it to the root; it will kill any tissue it touches.

11. Apply antibiotic ointment over the raw tissue. Apply a bulky gauze wrap, but do not wrap it too tight. It will throb as sensation returns.

12. Change the dressing, clean with warm water, and apply topical antibiotic ointment daily. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Avoid strenuous exercise for at least a week.
13. The empty nail bed will fill in with normal tissue in the next few weeks. Your patient will be left with a healthy, but skinnier, toenail.

Surgical Complications
1. Not all the nail was removed or not all of the root was destroyed: This may happen, even to the best of us. The best course of action is to just wait and see if the nail that grows behaves or not. If it does not, just repeat the procedure.

2. Infection: The toe will have some initial throbbing, but should start to improve dramatically in a few days. If your patient is having an increase in pain, swelling, redness, warmth, or drainage, there is likely an infection. If this occurs in the first few days, it is likely a bacterial infection from Staphylococcus aureus. Oral antibiotics are your best choice and are usually very effective.

Any of the following oral antibiotics (unless there is an allergy) should be used for 10 days (search past Survivalblog posts for medication procurement):
Cleocin (clindamycin) 300 mg three times a day
Augmentin (amoxicillin with clavulanate) 875 mg / 125 mg twice a day
Dicloxacillin 500 mg every 6 hours
Keflex (cephalexin) 500 mg every 6 hours
Cleocin (clindamycin) 30-40 mg/kg per day divided in 3-4 doses
Dicloxacillin 25-50 mg/kg per day divided in 4 doses
Keflex (cephalexin) 25-50 mg/kg per day divided in 3-4 doses
If the infection occurs after a week, there is an increased chance it is a fungal infection. Fungal infections can usually be treated by stopping the antibiotic ointment and applying a topical anti-fungal cream such as Lotrimin (Clotrimazole), Nizoral (Ketaconazole), or Naftin (Naftidine hydrochloride).

3. The toe is taking a long time to heal and is dusky in color. Some parts are turning black. What happened? The tourniquet was kept on too long, the toe was kept in/on ice for too long, or the cautery was too deep. Don’t let this happen to you! Don’t keep the tourniquet on for too long. 5-10 minutes should be plenty of time to remove the nail and cauterize – use a stop watch. Remember to err on the side of too little numbing with ice. Be gentle with the cautery – this is a shallow procedure. This is not common, but if this does happen consider oral antibiotics and consider attempting to remove the blackened tissue. This would be a case where attempting to find a physician may outweigh the risks of leaving your retreat.

Things to consider
If an ingrown toenail is really severe, has a severe infection, and is affecting both sides of the nail, it is better to remove the entire nail and not do cauterization. Remove the nail. Let things drain. Let things grow back. If things are heading in the same direction, then you can treat it surgically as described above. It is much safer to operate on a toe that is not infected.

It will be difficult to acquire hands on training for this procedure unless you work in the medical field. One way to see how it is done is to go with a friend or family member who is having this procedure. Let them know that you are interested in health care (that you love the Discovery Health Channel or something like that) and you would be honored to help them through this event. Another option is to do an online video search for “toenail removal surgery”. Keep in mind that every practitioner does things a little different. For example, some use cautery (this has been proven to be the most effective), but some still use the chemical phenol. Some use the tools listed above, and others have their own favorites. There are many ways to skin a cat and to remove a toenail.

Mr. Rawles,
I found this article informative. A quote: "Cheap, plentiful fossil fuels discovered in the last hundred years (or so) spurred a food bubble, which led to a population bubble. Cheap oil, in other words, created the temporary conditions necessary to support a runaway population explosion that is, without question, unsustainable without cheap energy." Here is another quote: "complex civilizations are quite fragile, and short-terming thinking can easily doom a society or civilization to irreversible collapse."

The author believes that world population will be reduced to 1/7th of its current size in a post-oil economy. BTW, there are lots of other links on that web site that are worth exploring. I enjoy reading your blog. Regards, - I.L.

Do you remember how back in 2007 I described commercial real estate as "the other shoe to drop.."? Matt B. sent this article on how it is indeed collapsing.

"Elfin" spotted this: Fed Planning Inflationary Dollar Destroying 15-Fold Increase in US Monetary Base - and then things really go bad!

G.G. alerted us to the new video and and audio clips of Peter Schiff speaking at the 2009 Austrian Scholar's Conference: "Why the Meltdown Should Have Surprised No One". G.G. notes: "This is very entertaining. Listen closely to last 15 or so minutes for Schiff's description of what he sees coming." JWR Adds: I found Schiff's speech to be both very funny and some good confirmation from my own published conclusions about the unfolding economic collapse.

From Shrike: Chinese Central Banker Sketches Plan For New Reserve Currency

Items from The Economatrix:

Fed Running Out of Ammo

Dow Up Nearly 500 on Bank Plan, Rise in Home Sales. (Reader K.A.F. notes: "Looks like we're going to have nationalized banking, owned in majority interest by Uncle Sugar and controlled by the Fed Reserve."

Sen. Judd Gregg: This Country Will Go Bankrupt

Let it Die: Rushkoff on the Economy

Americans Enraged by Fresh AIG Bonus Revelations

Geithner's Bank "Rescue" Not Enough

London Braces for Mass G20 Protests

Hope Fading for Salvation at G20 Summit

G20 Warned Unrest Will Sweep Globe

Paul Craig Roberts: Launching Lifeboats Before the Ship Sinks

The Collapse of Manufacturing

Half of Us Have One Month of Cash Cushion if Laid Off

Safe? But of Course!!! (The Mogambo Guru)

Shades of The Magnificent Seven : Rural Mexican villages dig moats to repel gangsters

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JRH Enterprises is running another great sale on brand new AN/PVS-14 (Generation 3) night vision goggles. These are the genuine article!

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Alaskan volcano Mount Redoubt erupts. To my readers in Alaska and northern Canada: Got plenty of spare air filters for your vehicles? You may need them! ("Panic now, and beat the rush.")

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The recent tragic death of several Oakland, California police officers illustrates that criminals don't obey gun laws. (The shooter, Lovelle Mixon, was a paroled felon.)

"It is the conservative laissez- fairist, the man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then says, 'Limit yourself'; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian." - Murray Rothbard

Monday, March 23, 2009

I heard that the official release date for the new edition of my novel "Patriots" . has been moved up to March 25th. In fact, now claims to already have it in stock, and is selling it for just $10.17 per copy. But I'd like to reiterate a special request of SurvivalBlog readers: If you plan to buy any copies, please wait until the "Patriots" Book Bomb day - April 8th. By forestalling orders and having hundreds of them all placed on the same day, we hope to drive the novels's sales rank into the Top Ten. Please mark your calendar for April 8th. Many thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles:
As I write this, I am returning from the four day Defensive Handgun course at Front Sight. I would like to share my thoughts on the whole thing with you and your readers, plus maybe share some advice that others may find of value.

First off, if any of your readers are on the fence about signing up for the class, I strongly urge them to do so. When Front Sight says they will get you to a point where you can deliver two shots to the thoracic cavity from a concealed holster in 1.4 seconds, they aren't kidding. You will see a marked improvement in your shooting skills in a remarkably short amount of time. Bad habits you may have developed over the years will start to fall away, and you'll find yourself adapting to the "Front Sight way of shooting" relatively quickly. While I didn't graduate with distinction (May I never see another Type III malfunction ever again!), I did finish the shooting portion of the exam just 11 down, and finished up second in the class shooting tournament. And no, I still can't believe I shot the hostage in the finals.

If you do decide to sign up for the class, here's some good advice for you to follow.

1. It's okay to be overwhelmed at the end of the first day. They are going to throw a ton of new information at you on that first day. Everything from your stance to the way you do a chamber check will be under intense scrutiny, not to mention the fact that you're fighting years of muscle memory that fly into the contrary of how they are trying to teach you. Don't worry about it though, it will get easier. Just do your dry fire practice, do it correctly, and you will be good to go on the second day.

2. The Nevada desert is a harsh, inhospitable climate, even in March. It doesn't matter if it is hot or cold, the desert will dehydrate you if you're not careful. Believe me, I learned this the hard way and almost ended up in a hospital emergency room because of it. I didn't take care of myself as I should have, and it ended up being a pretty painful four days as a result. Even now I wouldn't say I am still not at 100%. Learn from my mistake and make sure you drink lots of water and Gatorade.

3. Do not expect to do much of anything but go the academy, shoot, clean your weapon, and sleep. You are going to be at the academy for anywhere from ten to twelve hours a day, a good chunk of it on the firing line. You will learn a lot, but it will be a very intense experience. I suggest you have all your logistics in place before the training starts so you don't have to worry about it. Get your food, laundry, water, and everything else you may need taken care of before the training starts so you won't be wasting valuable rest and relaxation time later. Also, if you can help it at all, buy your ammo, holsters, and anything else you may need before getting there. The pro shop is well stocked, but it is not cheap. Save yourself a lot of money and come fully prepared.

Remember, none of this is meant to scare anyone off. Believe me, even after my battles with dehydration and the like, I would take this course again in a heartbeat. It's probably the best instruction you'll ever get in the art of pistol shooting. I can't recommend it enough! Sincerely, - Tim R.

Mr. Rawles,
At the risk of turning on my local competition to the positive aspects of the free section of Craig's List, I thought I would mention a few of the things I've picked up in the past couple of weeks. These include:

A new round oak dining table and four oak chairs
Three boxes of canning jars with lids
A commercial fishing net (40' x 60'), to be used for keeping birds and other critters out of the garden
36 Concrete cinder blocks (approximate value $130)
Remington electric chain saw (yes, it works!)
30+ wooden pallets (can be used for the usual "pallet" stuff, or for use as firewood/kindling)
Commercial nursery went out of business; so I got more than 1,000 plastic seed starting pots in 3 or 4 sizes (filled my pick-up to the brim).
5 Commercial toilets (out of a church - they were remodeling; two for my current residence, and two for our retreat, plus one spare, for parts)
4 Large two-drawer cabinets
A 25 foot fifth-wheel insulated trailer for moving gear and supplies up to "der bunker", and subsequent use for weather tight storage. (Try to get insulated containers versus single wall, as there is almost no "sweating" inside)
The list goes on. . . .

As this current economic crisis gets worse, more and more folks are going to be displaced, and not having the money to move their possessions they either just abandon them, or place free ads on Craig's list or elsewhere.
In addition, Craig's List is a good source for many other items at very reasonable prices.

Keep your eyes open. On the more valuable items you have to be quick, sometimes responding within minutes. On many items we realize as survival oriented, most folks don't have a clue, so you might have more time.

One thought I had on the pallets for firewood/kindling is that while they are readily available now, in the future they may be less easily found. Now they can be cut into smaller pieces with a skill saw and/or electric chain saw, stored in fifty-gallon plastic trash cans for next winter, or whenever you might need them. Once TEOTWAWKI happens, going outside to hunt firewood may not be such a good idea.
So, if you have Craig's List in your area, keep checking the free section every now and then. There is no telling what you might find. - Chet

JWR Replies: I'm also a big believer in Craig's List. One important note: In the long run, Craig's List only works if folks "return the favor." Be charitable whenever you have things in profusion--even when it is just zucchini squash.

I spotted this linked at Drudge: White House Agenda on Track Despite Worsening Deficits. ($9.3 trillion in deficits projected!) Just as I warned, the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) is becoming uncontrollably self-perpetuating. ("If Industry X is deemed worthy, then why not Industries Y and Z?" Down and down we'll go--down the road to ruin.)

From reader HPD: GM, Chrysler May Need Additional Aid, Rattner Says

MVR flagged this commentary from the National Post's Terence Corcoran: Is this the end of America?

"N" mention a piece by Simit Patel, over at the Seeking Alpha blog: Fed Intervention, Market Response Confirm: We're on the Path to Hyperinflation

Items from The Economatrix:

More details on the most recent bank failures.

E.L. mentioned a Marc Faber interview with the McAlvanys.

US Seizes Top Credit Union Clearinghouse "Regulators seized the top clearinghouse for U.S. credit unions, citing a critical deterioration in the finances of the provider of services to thousands of retail credit unions....It also seized Western Corporate (WesCorp) Federal Credit Union of San Dimas, California, another corporate credit union with $23 billion in assets."
The Big Takeover (Warning: Some foul language!) "The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution."

Obama Price Controls Coming? Brush up on what wage and price controls were like under President Richard Millhous Nixon, in the early 1970s. An excellent book on the subject is: "Government By Emergency ", by Dr. Gary North.

Dollar Declines Most Since 1985

Hungary's Prime Minister Quits Amid Worsening Crisis

Fears Grow as Taxpayers Just a Paycheck or Two Away from Ruin

US Banks Lost $32 Billion in Fourth Quarter

Collapsing Markets Expose Ponzi Scam Artists

AIG Warns Staff To Travel in Pairs After Death Threats

California Unemployment 10.9%

Reader Kevin A. notes that the recent "Do it to save Mexico" spin on civilian disarmament proposals is still being touted: California Senator Diane Feinstein Urges Tougher Gun Laws to Prevent Mexico Violence

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An old friend of mine sent this: EBay's Omidyar: Obama-backing Hamas-talking billionaire in Hawaii, expecting disaster

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Reader Greg I. mentioned that he just got one of these fashion statements. (See today's Quote of the Day.)

"It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." - President Barack Hussein Obama, describing conservative rural residents, in a presidential campaign fundraising speech in Pennsylvania, April 6, 2008

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

If you value your existence and your life, then walk! I am an Air Force brat who did nine years active duty in the Navy. In other words I moved a lot. Eleven states in the first 33 years of my life. I traveled to all fifty states and a few countries. Every one is different, and areas within each are completely different from the part that you live in. Most people that lived in places I have been do not walk any further than a few hundred yards a day. A mile is a "long walk" for most folks. A good portion of the rest walk or run several miles as a work out, but that is with 6 ounce sneakers, shorts and an iPod as their only loadout.

Post SHTF or even during a week without power, you will be subjected to environmental conditions that your body cannot adapt to unless you have experienced it before. The environment that you find yourself in can affect your decision making. Cold, hot, humid or other; these conditions will prevent you from living. You will have to carry a lot of things a long way to make do, even if vehicles are working. You must condition yourself to this level of exertion.

So, go for a walk. Please use common sense and know your limitations. For those with physical limitations, you will have to toughen your mind more than those of us without. The demands on the body are going to be extreme for some even when all parts of it work correctly. I would like to challenge all of you to "honestly" walk 10 miles carrying a light bag. By "honestly" I mean in the clothes that you will be wearing post-SHTF. This will probably be some form of boots, belted pants, long sleeve shirt and jacket. If you can't do this right off, then work up to it but nearly everyone will be able to do it. Ten miles should take 3-5 hours at the most depending your individual condition. Then do this again next month, in a different locale [, over different terrain]. I recommend a 5-7 minute break every 45 minutes as the optimum. [Depending on the weather and personal preference,] breaks of 10 minutes/hour or 5 minutes/30 minutes might work better.

For example, walk 10 miles around your city this month. Next month go to a trail in the woods. Walk. Anyone that has been in the Army or Marines will laugh at this distance. Many people in the Third World walk this far every day just to go to work or school. Then they turn around and walk that far back home. A pace of up to 12 minutes per mile is a good goal if you are in good shape. When backpacking I shoot for 15-20 minutes per mile including time spent for breaks. That works out to a little less than three hours for 10 miles. That is a very comfortable pace I can keep up for days.

The point of this exercise is to learn the techniques that you will need to walk. Everyone can walk, right? Nope, they can't. Most people don't understand about layered multiple pairs of socks, proper lacing of boots, proper waist belt adjustment on a pack and the other items that you only learn by walking (proper is different for each person and can change between the start of the hike to the end of the hike). For the average person with 10 pounds of belly fat, I would start with a 20 pound pack. That is only one gallon of water, a change of clothes, a lunch and a few emergency items plus the weight of the pack itself. You can start lighter or heavier, this is your challenge. Bring extra socks, moleskin, an ace ankle wrap and Band-Aids the first few times [or whenever you switch to a new set of footwear]. You might need them before you make it back.

Please only walk one day a week, to begin your training regimen. You will get serious blisters if you are not used to it and try to walk 3 or 4 days in a row. Just in that first walk you will learn what you like and don't like about your shoes. For instance, you may find that you need to wear different underwear, an undershirt, and perhaps a different hat. You will realize that it isn't that hard and it will encourage you to go further. Once you build up calluses [, stamina] and find your individual pace, then you can go all day. Now you can get through the long walks that are inevitable when SHTF and your body will remember. This conditioning will free up your brain to focus on decision making-- unimpared decision making. Weather extremes can still get you but you have a baseline experience level. I recommend that you walk year round to learn how the weather affects you (But I realize this is unlikely, especially in extreme cold and heat for many people.)

General guidance for a maximum backpack weight is 1/3 of your body weight for medium distance hikes. 1/4 of your weight (1/4 of 200 pounds is 50 pounds, in my case) is far more comfortable. This may seem like a lot but with the right boots/socks and pack it actually is easy. And since you are already walking 10 miles straight now, you will quickly find out what qualities to look for in your gear. Some things can be fixed for free. For example, I don't lace the top holes in my boots. This lets my feet breathe a bit more. I have learned how to load"my pack for maximum comfort.

Okay, now for the good news. Once you can do this for a few days straight with about 20-30 pounds on your back, you don't have to do it all the time to maintain the conditioning. I find that a 5-6 mile walk once every week or two with a 15 pound pack and "first line gear" maintains my long distance conditioning for months.

Long distance walking does not replace aerobic conditioning, it simply allow yours feet to get used to the abuse. You still need to aerobically condition your body for maximum cardiovascular health. In parting, I was amazed at the amount of heat produced by my feet the first time I walked ten miles on a hot day in boots.

Hi Jim,
A man with the Customer Service department at Midway explained that backorders are expected to continue and there appears to be no reduction in demand. Browsing their web site, I see 'expected' delivery dates pushing further into the future, and up to six weeks delay for the less expensive and common caliber hunting bullet, mostly .30 caliber bullets. Many premium bullets are also on 'back order' since my last visit. And now, even less common caliber bullets are backordered as well as other reloading components and reloading tools. The shortage at Cabela's also continues. The Civilian Marksman Program (CMP), advises that delivery could take 100 days for their still inexpensive M2 ball (.30-06) for the M1 Garand [and many other] rifles.

I believe that you've mentioned the possibility that "Ballistic Wampum" could be more useful than silver for the purposes of barter. The ammunition and component shortage is making a me believer. If events unfold as they might, the shortage could become increasingly severe and chronic. It may actually now be easier to obtain silver than bullets or certain and popular loaded ammunition. Over the last two years, I've done better with ammunition than silver, and have decided to trade in silver if necessary, for bullets. In memory of the Lone Ranger, silver would be a poor substitute for lead as the sectional density of a sliver bullet would be significantly less and therefore less effective. As I am no Lone Ranger, I would need all the advantages possible, and rather have the good stuff.

More folks are waking up everyday, and I suspect most of them will feel the need to protect and feed themselves. Many of those folks will be without the means to do as they discover that they cannot afford buy a good supply or any supply, and if able, may find that shipment could be months into the future. The Fed's recent action makes continued and escalating hyper inflation a given. If delivery in months away, prices might change, or delivery might become impossible at some point. I'd error on the side of caution. - E.L.

Reader Mike S. sent this: Gun sales going ballistic: Fears of regulation, crime spur sales of firearms and ammo. Here is an important paragraph was buried near the end of the article: "One northern Warren County resident found out recently the government is paying attention to such ammunition sales. West said a customer of his recently stocked up on .223-caliber rounds, a caliber often used in assault-style weapons. The customer bought 1,000 rounds a few months ago through a mail order company. Shortly after the purchase, he received a visit from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, whose interest was apparently piqued by a large-scale purchase of that caliber." Think OPSEC, folks, especially if you live in one of the more populous gun-grabbing Nanny States!

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French-speaking SurvivalBlog readers may be interested in this blog: Réseau de préparation et prévention du Québec.

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Brett noticed this article: Texas county plans to deal with unthinkable

And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day [that] the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:

And he said, The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: [he is] my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

I will call on the LORD, [who is] worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. - 2 Samuel 22:2-4 (KJV)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As determined men and women of yesteryear made their way west to make for a better life, pioneer women often kept journals of their life on the great prairies or sent letters home to their sisters back East. In those letters they described the silence as the most unwelcome guest. These brave women wrote about being left for weeks on end alone, lost in an endless sea of grass with only the wind for company while the men hunted or went for supplies. In some cases the quiet was so severe that it became unbearable and the women developed mental problems. One young mother in 1853 wrote, “Silence is an evil creature, it stalks you by day, watching, waiting, ever vigilant. By the dark of the moon it strangles your thoughts and slips away with your sanity.”

Imagine now, that we are about six weeks into a societal collapse. You are sure you have prepared yourself fairly well. You’ve made all the plans and stocked all that needs to be stocked and you feel pretty confident that you and yours can weather whatever comes, right? After all, you have given lots of time and energy to making sure that you have everything that you need. You have provided for your physical well being, but have you taken the time to consider what happens to the family’s emotional stability when life as we know it suddenly takes a turn south?

In all the preparedness information out there, there seems to be an expectation that ones emotional response to real world stressors are somehow less important than the physical. Or maybe people are not wanting to deal with that which is yet unknown and frankly, just too scary for most of us to comprehend. What happens to the emotional intellect when forced to shoot another human being for the first time or watch helplessly while a loved one dies of an illness or a massive wound. How about dealing with feral pigs, dogs and any other typically domesticated animals? Can you let your children out of your sight to play in the yard or do you live with constant fear they may become a meal for a once beloved family pet or the zoo animal that hasn’t eaten in a week? These are real life situations that need to be discussed along with beans, bullets and band aids. Even Tom Brown, “The Tracker“, writes of feral dogs of his youth while living in New Jersey.

Now that the stores are not being stocked you have used up all that was in the cupboard and freezer and have broken into your stored rice and beans. Everyone in your household has been about four weeks without McDonald’s, potato chips, Spaghetti-Os, wine, beer and cigarettes. The family complains of being gassy and bloated and by now the cravings are so bad that even the neighbors lawn ornament is beginning to look good. Tempers are just one spark away from ignition within the family unit. Depression sets in as Sissy hysterically cries, “I’m never ever going to use a flush toilet ever again!” It becomes apparent that holding this unit together is going to be a real challenge. Isn’t it is amazing how a change in diet can trash the family dynamics?

My field of study for the past 25 years has been in Holistic Nutritional Sciences. This field is centered around the whole body and everything that goes into it, air, water, plants, the soil plants are grown in and the health of animals that are used for food. Current research indicates there are definite changes in body chemistry when one gets off the processed and junk food hamster wheel. As chemicals, heavy metals and other toxic particles leave the body there is what has been described as a healing crisis and it can be all too real for the ones that suffer through it. Think for a moment, you have suddenly been forced to do without coffee or cigarettes, a real nightmare for some. What will you feel like in a few days? Your children have been forced to do without their favorite French fries or soft drinks. What will be their mood in a week or so? If you have ever been witness to a loved ones kicking of the habit you will appreciate that it is not always a pleasant happening. These are a few of the more obvious, lets take a look at some lesser known problems with our modern situation.

Currently there are about 3,000 substances added to food that are on the FDA’s generally regarded as safe (GRAS) list but the GRAS can not guarantee that an additive is 100% safe for every human because not every human has the same biochemistry. Food colors seem to be most problematic for young children in that they can be toxic to the nervous system, kidneys or liver. And don’t get me started on genetically modified foodstuffs, it makes me screaming mad. I can’t say anything good about altering the perfection of the natural world. The fact that this brand new life form was not studied long term and released into the unsuspecting publics food supply makes me nuts. Were humans really meant to eat a corn plant with say, a petunia's DNA? Of course, that’s a much simplified version but I believe there are some things that we just weren’t meant to ingest. Genetically modified ingredients in infant formula being number one on my list to scream about. My list to scream about on the subject of GMOs just scratches the surface here ,but that rant is for another day. ( hint: get as many open pollinated seeds as you can ASAP. That means yesterday. If you don’t have a garden get open pollinated vegetable seeds anyway, they will make great barter in the near future. Most seeds are viable between 2 and 5 years.)

An application of malefic hydrazide is routinely sprayed on potatoes and onions to keep them from sprouting but did you know that this potentially toxic chemical is sprayed on tobacco products in the U.S., and some chemicals such as propylene glycol, glycerin, or sorbitol are not always listed on a label. Aspartame as in Nutrasweet and Equal has been shown to be a precursor to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. What happens to the body when it doesn’t get it’s daily dose of acrylamide (a carcinogenic chemical created when potatoes and corn chips are baked or fried at high temperatures) or when the body is deprived of high fructose corn syrup from soft drinks? For some people they can have the same painful withdrawal symptoms as from coffee, cigarettes or drugs. I have seen people become depressed, angry, foggy in the head, sluggish and almost manic when taken off processed foods. Raw foods do an excellent job of cleaning out lots of toxins that accumulate in our fat. (See Power Foods by Stephanie Beling, M.D. and Rawsome by Brigitte Mars)

More and more young people are becoming diabetic, something very rare at the turn of the century. My neighbors eight year old child has to be monitored for high cholesterol, it’s just shocking! Students are under much more stress these days than ever before which can result in emotional eating and behavioral problems. More cravings with less food available could be overwhelming to children who aren‘t understanding why they can‘t have a second helping. Even my own grandchildren are such fussy eaters, what happens when they no longer have access to their junk foods and are forced to eat “real food”? And by the way, their idea of what real food ( pull it out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave) is and my knowledge of whole real food doesn’t line up. Where as there lies the problem. When at Grams house you need to adapt or go without. (wink, wink, I have been know to bend just a little, sometimes.) Also, eating a constant diet of freeze dried storable foods and garden produce can have an undesirable set of problems all it’s own. Much more water needs to be taken in or the system seems to get painfully backed up.

What about those pioneer women? They didn’t have GMOs or cell phones. They certainly didn’t need a good detox diet but many did keep journals to help insure some sanity. Writing stuff down is almost like talking to a friend. If our world does the "Patriots" thing, we all will be pioneers in our own right. Picture a world of teens without their cell phones, blackberries, computers, music or anything else that makes them tick. The withdrawal symptoms from the “NEED” to communicate alone surely should scare even the hardiest amongst us. Taking care of the emotional person is very personal and challenging. Learn what you can about the food you have been eating and the world around your retreat and take charge now. The mental health you save may be your own!

A note to Grandparents: You are hereby requested to help keep our history alive. Talk to your Grandchildren about your history, our country’s history and how we got to this point in the world. Write it down if needed. Teach them all the skills that they will need in their future. Plant the seed early, grandchildren seen to respond to grandparents easily. Their world will be inherently different than the one we lived in. Teaching them how to garden, fix a roof, sew a shirt, harvest and save seeds, cook a stew, etc., everything that you know. What you don’t already know how it do, learn it together. They are going to need all the advantages that we can give them.

Favorites from my library:

Cookin' with Home Storage by Vicki Tate (Excellent) [JWR Adds: Tate's book is also one of our favorites.]

Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, M.D. There is a section in this book about detoxification and fasting. (Excellent) This one is my all time favorite, it is so worn. 1,141 pages

Never Be Sick Again by Raymond Francis, M.Sc. He tells why disease happens and how to avoid it.

Nutrition and Mental Illness by Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D. Written in layman language, very interesting, surprising causes of some symptoms.

The Ultimate Nutrition Guide for Women by Leslie Beck, R.D. (Very Good) She tells women why they have health problems and how to deal with them.

Superpigs and Wondercorn by Dr. Michael W. Fox (About GMOs.)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was in Kingwood Texas, a suburb of Houston, and as keeping an eye on the Hurricane Rita projected tracks. When the "yellow cone of death" was centered squarely on Houston, I started to seriously access my situation. That Tuesday evening, everything still seemed sort of normal. The wife came home from work about 5 p.m. and we took the dog for a walk around 6 p.m. When we passed the local gas station that normally has 0-1 cars in it and there was a line 10 cars deep, I knew it was "time." I told the wife we were now implementing our "vacation" plans for Tennessee, and would be leaving as soon as I had the trailer re-packed. I brought the essentials and things I couldn't live without if there was no Houston to come back too. For example, I brought the computers but left the monitors. (Monitors are replaceable, the hard drives and info on them, were not.)

We were wheels rolling by 9 p.m. Tuesday night, straight up Highway 59, with hardly another vehicle in sight. Just us and about 200-400 deer through the night, all headed in the same direction, that was weird... By Wednesday morning we were eating a lovely and peaceful Cracker Barrel breakfast about 20 miles East of Nashville and the waitress told us that Houston was basically having a riot on the freeways. Timing is EVERYTHING! We were 12 hours ahead of four million people leaving on the same roads, headed in the same direction.
I learned that deciding to bug out is like deciding to take in a reef in your sails when sailing that is: if you're seriously considering it, then you should actually be doing it.
All the best and God Bless, - Edward T.

Morning Sir.
I just wanted to add a quick note to the letter about peanut butter. As people purchase peanut butter, they should make sure it's the "nothing but peanuts" variety. Most store brands and name brands are full of
sugar and miscellaneous garbage. A good natural peanut butter will have a layer of oil on top. I've always found it quite useful to pour off the oil and save much of a premium people pay for peanut oil all on its own! The rest of the jar of peanut butter doesn't suffer for the lack of the oil. - Carl H.

Several readers sent us this:White House to break ground on 'kitchen garden' SurvivalBlog reader Don W. quipped: "Hey, they already have the guns and the gold. And that Marine [One] helicopter makes one heck of a Get Out of Dodge vehicle."

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From Markku: FCC raids gang-sponsored pirate radio station in Florida

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So much for CCW in National Parks: (Thanks to Bill N. for the link.)

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From reader FloridaGuy: San Diego [California] Police Fear Growing Number of Activists Carrying Guns Openly. California's quirky open carry law dates back to the late 1960s when the Black Panthers marched armed through the California Capitol building. The legislature acted quickly, banning open carry within incorporated areas. Enforcement of the law has been un-even, with some law enforcement officers misinterpreting and over-applying the law, especially in the more populous counties.

"Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about right results" - James Allen

Friday, March 20, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $550. This auction ends on April 15th. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A Warrior Aid and Litter Kit, donated by Ready Made Resources. This is an advanced medic kit package that includes a Talon II 90C folding handle collapsible litter, which normally retails for $560, just by itself. This truly a "full up" tactical trauma kit! This sophisticated medic kit normally retails for $1,500.

2.) A "be ready to barter" box of 26 full-capacity firearms magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Brand new "smoke gray" polymer original Bulgarian 40 rd. AK-47 magazines, 10 - brand new AR-15/M16 USGI black Teflon coated alloy 30 round magazines with stainless steel springs and the latest orange anti-tilt followers, 6 - new condition original USGI M14/M1A 20 round parkerized steel magazines, from CMI (the current military prime contractor) 6 - new condition original Glock Model 20 (10mm) 15 round pistol magazines--the latest production type with "SF" front magazine catch notch . All of these magazines are of recent manufacture (and hence are NOT legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $750, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

3.) A large Bury 'Em Tube (# 6L, 43" x 6" with a 5.1 gallon capacity), donated by Safecastle. (a $199.95 retail value)

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) An OPTIMUS Terra Cookset for backpacking, tent camping or even WTSHTF, donated by Safecastle. It includes the ultra-compact Crux stove, plus a special small cookset--all very portable and lightweight. (Fuel canister not included.) (a $95 retail value)

6.) A fresh, sealed case of full mil-spec MRE rations with ration heaters, courtesy of (a $94.95 value)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $2,800. This auction ends on April 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Thanks for the extensive resource that is your web site. I am fairly new to prepping but was raised in the deep south so I have a lot of related experience. One thing I've noticed in most lists regarding food storage, is the bulk of the food is grains, rice and beans. I completely understand the importance of these 3, but also think another option is often overlooked - Peanut Butter.
First of all, I'm biased, since I love the stuff (Store what you eat!). We eat the reduced fat variety, and in a 40 ounce jar (typical large jar in a grocery store) there is 6,100 Calories. Of course full fat varieties would have more (about 7,000 Calories). Beans, in the same container, would contain 1,200 - 2,000 Calories, depending on the variety. That makes peanut butter a very calorie dense food. (Of course we already knew that because of the fat content and no air voids). It doesn't require hours and hours of prep time as beans do, and a jar can easily be thrown in your BOB (Don't forget a long handled spoon in that bag!). The reduced fat variety that I buy has a stamped shelf life of a little over two years. I would not recommend storing 120 jars of peanut butter for your year's food supply, but it is definitely a supplement to the tired old beans and rice.- H. Hunter

JWR Replies: First, as I'm sure the subject is likely to arise, I should mention that the recent scare in the US about contaminated peanut butter was an isolated incident. But it is frightening to think how many products that peanut paste ended up in, so quickly. We truly do live in an age of advanced transportation and very long chains of supply!

Peanut butter is indeed a good item to keep on hand as a storage food (except of course for any one with a peanut allergy). As with any other storage food, it is important to consistently employ FIFO stocking, to rotate your supply . Mark the purchase date with a Sharpie pen on the lid of each jar when purchased, and store it in the proverbial "cool, dark place."

One other important proviso involves digestion. A diet that is heavy on peanut butter or meat is likely to induce constipation. So you'll of course need to store other foods to maintain bowel regularity. Storing a bulk laxative (such as Metamucil) in case your system gets out of balance would be wise. And this, by the way, is yet another reason that every family should get experience with sprouting, and stock up on sprouting seed.

There are few sources of protein that are more compact for use a G.O.O.D. bag than peanut butter. Another--like the aforementioned sprouting seed--that I recommend is blue-green algae tablets. If you could get your digestive system accustomed to a modified diet, it is conceivable that someone could carry a one month emergency supply of food in a 40 pound backpack, if they concentrated on those three foods.

Hello Mr. Rawles;
First and foremost, thanks for the site, the info is invaluable and a must read every morning

I am writing to add a few simple thoughts (perhaps state the obvious) on the subject of survival vehicle - really just some comments on G.O.O.D. I recently sold my house and am in the process of trying to get into a better situation, and during the move decided to attempt a "live" exercise. I took the opportunity to see how quickly I could load up my truck and bug out.

I wanted to time the load of my truck with all the gear and supplies I have been stockpiling for the past year, and guess what? Yep, I could not get it all in. Never mind my better half and three kids! Many readers may find this amusing (I did as it was not real), but if it was a real situation I would have been in a real bad way. So I suppose this is just a simple reminder to not only plan and prepare, but use the gear you have on a regular basis if possible, and practice often.

I made some necessary simple adjustments (cap and hitch rack), and feel foolish in hindsight. But you don't know until you try it for yourself.
Thanks again and all the best.- Editor of

JWR Replies: Your experience is not unique! I've heard similar reports from other readers, and BTW, I emphasized this shortcoming my novel "Patriots" . This predicament underscores the great importance of pre-positioning the vast majority of your logistics at your intended retreat. Don't just guess about fitting "all the rest" in your vehicle. Instead, try doing an actual "test load" to check for volume and compatible box dimensions. And allow room for each family member bringing a lot of clothes. Oh yes, don't forget the pet paraphernalia. OBTW, you can use empty boxes or tote bins of the same dimensions as your full ones for your test load, to save on back strain.

Dear JWR:
In the 19 March Odds 'n Sods you noted that:

Ready Made Resources just got in another small batch of 1000-foot long rolls of WF-16/U (2-pair) commo wire.This type of wire is fairly scarce on the surplus market. It can be used with TA-1s, TA-312s, and the newer TA-1042 (DNVT) digital field telephones.

Just so, and WF-16/U works as well with the older and long-standard pre-WWII through Vietnam era EE-8 "bag phones".which my maternal grandparent helped develop while a Signal Corps officer at Ft. Monmouth.The old double-E-Eight is also compatible with the TA-1 and TA-312, though I've never tried one with DNVT equipment. They will however also function with the surplus early German field telephone equipment also in use from WWII to the 1980s [we had one in our bunker on the West German side of the five-kilometer militarized zone on the Iron Curtain in 1982, and very much still in use in the Balkans and elsewhere. The German units are available from Cheaper Than Dirt as their item # KEY123 for around $60 a pair.

TA-312 Field Phones are available from Fair Radio [ ]as their item # 3856 for $110 each, and they have in the past had parts and WD1-TT wire for the EE-8s as well. My own pair of EE-8s came from the Dayton, Ohio Hamfest, probably originally from Fair Radio.
Cheers! - Archy

A recent headline grabbed my attention. It mention the "bottoming" or real estate price. That made me chuckle, because we are nowhere near the bottom yet. I did some searching, and I found a chart posted last year at the Calculated Risk blog. If you thought the subprime mortgages caused a lot of foreclosures, just wait until the Option-ARM resets peak in 2011. Methinks that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Reader HPD mentioned this at Forbes that quotes Peter Schiff: CPI Rises Despite U.S. Recession

GG sent this: Merkel adviser warns US on inflation spiral

Items from The Economatrix:

House Approves Bill to Slap 90% Punishing Taxes on AIG Bonuses

France Braced for Huge Street Protests Over Economic Crisis

The Federal Reserve is Now Playing a High-Risk Game with Inflation

AIG Will Not Exist in Four Years, Says Chairman

Gold Futures Rise to 4% on Fed Announcement

Fed Launches $1.2 Trillion Effort to Revive Economy

Consumer Prices Rise 0.4% In February

Rogers: US Bailouts Add Risk to Depression

Dollar Crisis in the Making (Pt 3): China Inoculates Itself Against Dollar Collapse

Value Cross-over (The Mogambo Guru)

Hawaiian K. and Chris were the first of several readers to mention an article about statist politics: Who owns Colorado's rainwater? (In Hawaii, where rainwater catchment is the norm, a law like that would probably trigger a revolt.)

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HPD spotted this: Catastrophic Fall in 2009 Global Food Production

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Perhaps there are few survival nuggets in a news article on the life of Popcorn Sutton, a moonshiner from Maggie Valley, North Carolina.(A tip of the hat to Matt H., for the link.) Judging from his picture, who would have ever guessed that he was secretly a moonshiner?

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Markku sent the link to this photo essay: Scenes from the recession. (Don't miss photo #31, "The Gold Party")

"I got things under control, that's why people call me an extremist. I'm autonomous. I understand that I declare my independence every day." - Ted Nugent

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

By now most SurvivalBlog readers have gone about your preparations for your ideal home or retreat cabin, all storage food and tools acquired, fuel stored, generators ready, PV panels carefully concealed and hooked up to the battery bank. You and your family or group are ready to handle the coming collapse, but are you really? Are you ready to do without? Without that generator when the fuel runs out, or a critical piece is worn out and a new one cannot be had? At some point your supplies will be used up, storage fuel consumed and there may not be any to refill your tanks or more realistically you may be priced out, or it will be too dangerous to “run-the-gauntlet” and get more. Can you manage in your place without electricity? Can you cook with wood? Do you have space enough to process the abundant food you grow and must preserve either by canning or other means? Can you move throughout your buildings without being seen from the outside?
My point, is your place set up to function as a 19th century homestead?

My wife and I bought an old New England farmhouse many years ago, it is nothing fancy and looks like so many others in our area, it is a traditional connected farmhouse meaning that the buildings are all linked-up, yet they have different roof lines and are of different sizes. It is best summed up as a “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn” and this is the title of a wonderful book written by Thomas C. Hubka which details the reasons for the ways structures developed. (If you want a leisurely read on the history of these buildings, I highly recommend this book.) Anyway, we bought this type of farm house and have been in the process of renovating it over many years, although the renovation could more reasonably described as going back to the future. One of the many wonderful things about an old house, and when I say old I mean over 150 years old, is the ability to reuse much of the lumber in the walls, floors, and ceilings or the masonry whether it is brick or stone, Ours is a timber frame with some masonry on the exterior and is incredibly well built and has a brilliant house plan. I realize that many people are not up to the task of going through this sort of process, but you could build your current retreat or home to some of these specs. Our home for example was built just after the War of 1812 it was fully functional for a family of eight with room for boarders/labors and or relatives. The kitchen is large while many of the adjacent rooms are small (less space to heat) all the rooms are situated around two large central fireplaces and have thimbles to allow for a small wood stove in each, the rooms can be closed off when not in use, thus not taking valuable heat from other areas. In the basement there is a large hole in the floor; it was a cistern, but was allowed to fill in with junk, perhaps it was considered a “sump hole” by later inhabitants since there was evidence of long overworked pumps in under the silt and gravel. I have cleaned this up and now have a source of water right in the house, (this water will still need to be treated since it is technically surface water being only ten feet below grade), but it still offers water for cleaning or for our animals.

There is a large “root” cellar to store food stuffs and canned goods. (It could double as safe room or vault if needed and may well have been at one point since the opening is nondescript and hidden from plain sight). Also there is a summer kitchen, at first I wondered why this was necessary, it appeared to be redundant, but further study enlightened me to the fact that this area was a vital part the home complex. First it served to allow a large un-insulated cook area that was necessary during the harvest time to allow heat to escape from the constant fire in the cook stove during the canning, it was also a place that field labors had their meals prepared and ate without having to clean themselves up much and not dirty up the regular kitchen. The buildings between the summer kitchen and barn (sometimes it is one long building divided only internally or there are up to three distinct roof lines and end walls that divide them) any how these areas were used in a variety of ways to allow a small cottage industry to occur, in-fact these were simply work areas that were sheltered from the often harsh and wild weather we experience. One could be for wood storage, for tools (a sort of machine shop), or areas for processing wool from sheep. The point is not to recreate that lifestyle but to utilize that mindset and build similar multi-purpose structures.

Our Home:
We have “renovated” our home to fully function without electricity. Now, we have multiple generators, a significant storage of fuels and food. I and am currently finishing up with the PV panels and battery bank/inverter set-up, going through all the motions to secure some sense of normalcy; but in-fact we do not “need” those items to exist here, they are an extra. We can heat with wood and with a solar hot water system connected to baseboard radiators as well as a copper coil running through the wood fired furnace [for when there is not solar gain or during a heavy snowfall]. (The hot water moves via thermo-siphon no electricity needed only check-valves to keep the hot water moving in one direction). Our kitchen is “modern” but if the power is out we can cook on our wood fired cook-stove, it is about 120 years old and with a little “TLC” is now fully functional not to mention beautiful to look at. We can also bake in a bee hive oven built into the massive central chimney which I rebuilt and lined with modern flues. I left one of the original fireplaces, installed airtight doors and an exterior air vent, while on the other side made the other fireplace into a large wood storage container.

Overall, your retreat needs to be functional without electricity, things will eventually break, or you simply run out. Focus upon knowing how to live your life with little to no electricity or “conveniences”. The primary goals must be on heating your home and preparing food without petrochemical fuels, most modern homes are particularly horrible in this area. Change your mindset; you cannot store enough for the really long haul.

Mr. JWR,
I'm surprised this hasn't been addressed more thoroughly, but the first point of consideration should be whether the vehicle will be diesel or gasoline (since most vehicle models don't have a diesel equivalent). I know this topic has been done before here, and even led me to investing in a diesel, but apparently it's worth rehashing.

The disadvantages of gasoline are substantial. Gasoline is difficult to store safely (as it is so combustible). Its useful life generally expires in about 12 months (so should you not have access to your stabilized cache, you can expect your vehicle to become useless before a year is out). It is more common, which means it is more likely to be stolen. Gasoline generally gives fewer miles per gallon. Gasoline engines usually wear faster than diesel engines, and require more servicing (oil changes at 3,000 miles rather than 6,000, with expected engine lives also greatly reduced). The only advantages I can see to gasoline is that you're more likely to find spare parts and mechanics who can work with them, and that it's less temperature-sensitive. [JWR Adds: Diesels are also very unforgiving if you ever run one completely out of fuel. Re-priming can be tricky.]

Meanwhile, the advantages of diesel are substantial, for our purposes. Diesel is not nearly as combustible, and so safer to store, and will last longer. It's less likely to be raided (and someone who does steal your diesel supply won't be getting far if they're foolish enough to use it straight away). The engines are generally simpler than gasoline engines and more tolerant to abuse. Most important is the availability of fuel. Sure I can't siphon out of my neighbor's car (not that I would anyway), but when the gas stations are out, truck and train depots are more likely to have left over fuel. And when the diesel is out, I can still run on jet fuel, kerosene, biodiesel (which I can make at home), waste vegetable oil, waste engine oil, even coal dust.

Assuming even the least crises we might face, such as a localized natural disaster, the gasoline infrastructure is very fragile, and very quickly that will run out, with gasoline theft very common. When the gas pump goes dry, however, I'll still be brewing my own biodiesel out of vegetable oil I can pick up at the store or even make myself. (And I'm not aware of any [fire] code concerns regarding storing vegetable oil in the home). Diesel is renewable, gasoline is not (even ethanol production is a losing proposition).

The caveat to this is to buy older. Newer vehicles are getting increasingly temperamental, especially the newest models. Apparently the 2007s and later fall under new EPA standards, and in many cases the standards are so stringent that the vehicle will even bleed fuel into its own oil supply rather than release oxides into the atmosphere. That means biodiesel will literally eat the inside out of the vehicle. 2006 and earlier on most models should be fully biodiesel compatible, with older models working better (although generally less efficient).

Thank you for your fantastic blog. Keep up the good work! - Dieselman


Those were some really good ideas. I've done some of those modifications. I would add to the list three items:

1. I have three historic vehicles and one ironic thing about old school technology is that the PSI ratings for various applications on older machinery is not what it is on modern vehicles. For example, I once lost a tiny plug (off of a '58 International Tractor) that would be impossible to find (or worth it for that matter) so I crammed a piece of cork into it and its been there for years still doing a great job. So, I save all cork from my household for emergency leak stoppers. BTW: cork when burned makes good instant facial camouflage so that's another reason I keep it stockpiled.

2. I read / subscribe to antique tractor, car, and motorcycle magazines to pick up DIY information. A tip I picked up but haven't used was from another old car nut. Keep a tampon handy for radiator leaks. It'll provide a good temporary fix that will get you home.

3. Road flares. Besides the intended purpose, they also do a great job at starting fires if the wood you are trying to light isn't exactly seasoned and dry. I also used them as a law enforcement officer to chase away the bad guy's dog so I didn't have to shoot the dog. (I have five rescued dogs and numerous other rescued animals so I try to avoid any unnecessary force against animals.) [JWR Adds: In my experience, nothing beats a lit 15-minute road flare for crowd control. Nobody wants to mess with them.]
Good luck, - FLHSPete


Hi Jim,
I wanted to add my two cents to the Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) thread going on. I’m sure my thoughts on the subject will appear weak and lazy, but give it a look see anyway. This comes from the perspective of those that want to continue much as they do now, and who possess the ability to do many of the repairs that would be necessary for any truck, no matter how well “prepped” theirs might be via the aid of auto-mall-ninja pimping.

Plenty of people will chose to keep existing trucks, or SUVs as their BOVs. The reasons are many, but usually include the lack of funds to keep an extra vehicle around, and personal preferences. Most will not use a specialized vehicle as their full time rig, but they might consider modifying them for BOV off-road, or inclement situation usage. For those that can’t, or won’t buy /build /modify their way into a full-blown Mad Max vehicle, there remain options for existing trucks and SUVs.

My personal rig is an F-250, 7.3 turbo diesel, early 2000s vintage. It is a crew cab, (4 full doors, independently operable, unlike extend cab units which require the front doors to be open before the rear can), with an insulated shell, and factory step bars to aid getting in and out of the cab. (We also have an older 90s stretch minivan with seven passenger seating and storage, and a pair of five-passenger SUVs).

I’m not overly concerned with EMP, so computer damage from that doesn’t rank high on my list. While having spare components is part of my plan, the fact that they cover EMP possibilities is purely coincidental. Spare computer and sensor parts for the 7.3 International engine run the list of the usual suspects as they pertain to common repair activities. CPS, ICP, IPR,... etc. The acronyms are part of the learning curve for do-it-yourself repairs. Whatever breed of horse is in your stable, you better learn his particulars. For Ford truck owners, an excellent source for tech, tips, real world repair stories and cures, go to the Ford Truck Enthusiasts (FTE) web site. They have a world of excellent information, and them boys and gals help members immediately, when there is an issue. All the special parts names (IPR = Injection Pressure Regulator etc.) are in there, and descriptions of what they do. All of these components are available now, from multiple sources, and will fit in a .30 caliber-size ammo can (which will fit behind the rear seat no problem).

I would encourage people to not be intimidated by the newer setups. Start with a good, solid rig, such as the 7.3L. Buy the spares, and read up on how to change them out. It’s not that hard. You’ll be doing monkey work anyway no matter what the truck, if the poop smacks the blades, so what’s the difference? These days, there are a whole lot more of the newer Ford trucks out there. Parts galore! The parts houses have them in stock. If it gets really bad, and a little creative acquisition is in order…. well, use your imagination.

The 7.3 [liter] diesel is built by International, and has a minimum expected life usage of 350,000 miles. A couple of guys on the forum report that some trucks have gone 600,000+ miles before needing any real work. This engine simply keeps going, and the chassis is very tough to beat.

Diesel fuel is everywhere. It’s in: big rigs, delivery - FedEx and UPS trucks, rental trucks, farm tractors – trucks – agricultural water pumps – and fuel tanks, some busses, most service stations, railroad engines, earth movers and other construction equipment, military bases (who knows, they might go deserted…), emergency back up generators for some buildings…. It lasts a heck of a lot longer than petrol. Doesn’t matter how much gasoline is around for you, it will all be junk without proper treatment within a short period of time. [JWR Adds: Don't overlook Home Heating Oil tanks as another potential source of fuel that can be burned in diesels in emergencies. (Although it would be a violation of road tax laws to do so on public roads.) IMHO, every retreat should have at least one diesel vehicle!]

As for transmissions, a manual is a good idea, but if you have an automatic, don’t despair. I’ve yet to see a 8,000+ pound truck be push-started without first parking on a hill. With your automatic, you need to be sure it has a fluid cooler installed. Change the fluid regularly and according to common sense. In a TEOTWAWKI world, requisition [purchase]s are off the cuff, and there are plenty of the common transmissions currently in service, and readily available.

Air bags used for load leveling really are a blessing. Take this setup, for instance. A 3⁄4-ton truck that occasionally pulls a heavy load may use “load levelers” commonly installed for use with travel trailers. These transfer a good portion of the load to the truck’s front tires, but not all of it. Air bag load assist units can take up the rest of the extra weight, and convert your 3⁄4 ton setup into something much more capable. They don’t get in the way, and are absolutely no liability. These accessories can level a burdened truck just fine, which is a dead necessity if you want a truck that will steer and brake predictably. A truck that sagging in the rear can be deadly in an emergency stop, especially on grades. The use of air bags allows you to keep a good ride when they are idling along. The best of both world there. At the most, if they fail, you are left with the factory load capability intact.

My truck [body] is two inches higher than stock. I like the increased visibility. I like the added travel in the suspension for towing off road. I like how it, just today, went over debris on the road that might have caused damage. The guy in front of me didn’t see it, and bang. I didn’t have enough warning time so I went over it [, without contacting it]. The guy behind me sensed something was up, but he couldn't decide what to do, so his vehicle went bang, too. Does two inches help? It can. Today it did. It also makes servicing the truck in bad terrain easier. With a truck that has a little more uppity to it, you can get under it without the use of jacks, which are unsafe on sloped ground. I wouldn’t lower a truck for any reason.

For anti theft, one easy to install device is a common switch, rated for the current in the fuel pump circuit. I use switches to disable the fuel pumps. They are hidden, and out of the way. Not too many thieves will spend the time trying to figure out why the engine won’t start… something about panic and going to jail or getting shot.

In keeping with the current mission of trucks, we like our power windows and door locks. The window motors might become disabled at some point, but that’s not a problem, really. If we need them open right now, that’s possible with the glass breaking tools we carry anyway. In non emergencies, we can fix such things. Power door locks have never trapped anyone I know inside, since they all have manual overrides. They are a non-issue, too.

Back to our 'lil F-250 for a moment. They are copious hand bars in it. Four on each side. Just inside the central pillars, are two very large such bars. We’ve found that these are just wonderful anchor points for harness attachments, which allow for someone to firmly anchor themselves if they need to be sitting on the window sill, hanging out the window for some reason. (Another opportunity to use your imagination.) These internal attachment points almost seem made for special occasions. - Anonymous from Californicatia

John in Ohio forwarded this: At G20, Kremlin to Pitch New Currency. JWR's Comment: Gee, so they propose replacing numerous un-backed fiat currencies (with free-floating values) with a single un-backed fiat currency of a "fixed" (constantly inflating) value. Cui bono? As I've written before: inflation is a hidden form of taxation. How do I vote for a genuine specie-backed currency? Only with a trip to my local coin shop or arms bazaar. Vote with your wallet. For our own protection, get out of paper currencies and into tangibles!

From The Appenzell Daily Bell: Banks pop on talk of [FASB] accounting rule relief. (I've mentioned delays in implementing the FASB 157 "Mark-to-market" rule, before. Given the severity of the current financial crisis, we can expect to see convenient delays and changes (convenient to the bankers, that is), for the foreseeable future.

Reader Brian F. sent this: Consumer prices rise by largest amount in seven months. Rather than typical inflation, this may be evidence of fixed overhead costs being distributed into a dwindling sales base. To explain: In a retail operation, the building lease or mortgage must still be paid, utilities must be paid, and sales clerks must be paid, regardless of sales volume. When sales volume drops, it is inevitable that some of the fixed costs must be passed along to customers. This does not bode well for traditional "bricks and mortar" retailers--especially the large department stores. In the long run, low overhead home-based Internet sellers may get a larger share of the market, as consumers search for bargain prices and are willing to wait a few days to have items mailed or shipped.

G.G. found this one: Fed to buy up to $300 Billion in long-term Treasury bonds, Fed will buy up to $300 billion of long-term government bonds; buy more mortgage securities. Back in the Stone Age, when I studied economics in college they called this monetization, and I distinctly recall my professor explaining that this practice was peculiar to South American Banana Republics. ¿Se habla Español, Señor Obama?

From reader HPD comes a link to some commentary by Mish Shedlock: Yet Another Incompetent Treasury Appointment

Some good news! The US military's "fired brass destruction" policy change turned out to be very short-lived. It has just been reversed. To begin with, the policy change was intended only for military brass that is OCONUS, not in CONUS. (If you have a fast Internet connection, then see this PDF., but was apparently over-applied ) I also got some information from Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association (by way of a SurvivalBlog reader up in Montana): "I just received a phone call from the office of U.S. Senator Tester of Montana to inform me that at 5:15 (EST) today [Tuesday, March 17th] a letter cosigned by Senator Tester (D-MT) and Senator Baucus (D-MT) was faxed to the Department of Defense asking DoD to reverse its new policy requiring destruction of fired military cartridge brass. At 5:30, I am told, Tester's office received a fax back from DoD saying that the brass destruction policy IS reversed. Others report to me that they are already seeing evidence of this on the Websites of entities that liquidate surplus DoD commodities. Our thanks go out to Senator Tester and Senator Baucus, and their staff, for getting on this problem promptly and making the reversal happen."

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Ready Made Resources just got in another small batch of 1000-foot long rolls of WF-16/U (2-pair) commo wire.This type of wire is fairly scarce on the surplus market. It can be used with TA-1s, TA-312s, and the newer TA-1042 (DNVT) digital field telephones.

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The UK television series Survivors is moving filming location to Birmingham for Season 2. (What is unspoken in the cheery article is that Birmingham is an industrial city with portions in advanced decay, making a good post-apocalyptic backdrop.)

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"D" found a web site on non-electric cooling and refrigeration. The site also has some solid information on drip irrigation. D.'s comment: "I find it ironic that we teach people in Africa these technologies and yet there is such a paucity of these skills here at home."

"How come when I put my AmEx bill on my VISA, it's stupid, but when the government does it, it's stimulus?" - Tamara K., View From The Porch Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The good folks at Ready Made Resources have very generously added a Warrior Aid and Litter Kit (with a retail value of $1,500) to the SurvivalBlog benefit auction that started on Monday. This brings the combined value of the auction lot to $2,800! The benefit auction lot now includes:

1.) A Warrior Aid and Litter Kit, donated by Ready Made Resources. This is an advanced medic kit package that includes a Talon II 90C folding handle collapsible litter, which normally retails for $560, just by itself. This truly a "full up" tactical trauma kit! This sophisticated medic kit normally retails for $1,500.

2.) A "be ready to barter" box of 26 full-capacity firearms magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Brand new "smoke gray" polymer original Bulgarian 40 rd. AK-47 magazines, 10 - brand new AR-15/M16 USGI black Teflon coated alloy 30 round magazines with stainless steel springs and the latest orange anti-tilt followers, 6 - new condition original USGI M14/M1A 20 round parkerized steel magazines, from CMI (the current military prime contractor) 6 - new condition original Glock Model 20 (10mm) 15 round pistol magazines--the latest production type with "SF" front magazine catch notch . All of these magazines are of recent manufacture (and hence are NOT legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $750, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

3.) A large Bury 'Em Tube (# 6L, 43" x 6" with a 5.1 gallon capacity), donated by Safecastle. (a $199.95 retail value)

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) An OPTIMUS Terra Cookset for backpacking, tent camping or even WTSHTF, donated by Safecastle. It includes the ultra-compact Crux stove, plus a special small cookset--all very portable and lightweight. (Fuel canister not included.) (a $95 retail value)

6.) A fresh, sealed case of full mil-spec MRE rations with ration heaters, courtesy of (a $94.95 value)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $2,800. This auction ends on April 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

We may soon depend on all of what we have learned over the years. Putting all of the threads of knowledge together into a tapestry of self-sufficiency, and survival capabilities, is part of the lifelong quest for our family’s security. We learn from many sources and experiences such as: family, church, friends, teachers, teammates, co-workers, reading books and SurvivalBlog, and hopefully from our mistakes.

Preparedness Skills from our Grandmas and Grandpas

The foundation for preparedness begins with my childhood in Michigan. We lived in Lansing where my great-grandmother was next door and my grandmother lived next door to her. My father was born in great-grandma’s house after the family moved to the city during the early 1900s. My sisters and I spent weekends and summers alternately at my mom’s family dairy farm, which was just outside of the city, and at my dad’s family cabin “up north”. These were the richest times of my life. We knew all of our grandparents and some of our great-grandparents very well. My great-great-grandfather still lived in the old log cabin when I was born in 1956. We have been fortunate to have had five generations alive consistently from then until now. The wealth of love and knowledge you gain from your extended family is irreplaceable.

The “old timers” told stories of hardship during the great depression and the dust bowl era (we live an area that was the largest prairie east of the Mississippi.) Memories of crop failures with tales of early and late frosts were passed down. There were also hunting and fishing stories passed down as we learned to hunt and fish with older family members. There were bigger than life lumberjack stories and stories from Prohibition and the World Wars. I learned to safely handle and accurately shoot a .22 rifle with peep sights when I was six or seven years old. I walked the roads with my grandpa squirrel hunting. We ice fished on local lakes and went to Tip-Up Town USA every year. All of this adds to ones persona and the early experience helps awaken the necessary “survivalist” traits.

On a working dairy farm you rapidly learn about life (and death). Animal husbandry and caring for the land lead to sustainability. Animals do become food and harvesting the crops sometimes seems little reward for the hard work. The milking must be done every day and chores do not wait. As a kid I learned to drive tractors and pick-ups to and from the fields. We mowed, bailed and then stacked the hay in the mow. Alfalfa, oats and corn were the field crops. Pigs, chickens, and sheep were raised along with the dairy cows and we cleaned the barns and spread manure.

Knowledge is passed down from generation to generation such as when to plant, where to plant, when to harvest, and how to raise the animals. There were many topics of conversations at the Sunday breakfast table. Many things are debated and discussed after chores and before Church. Most times the conversations continued outside the Church after the sermon. It was the only time you saw the other farmers. When you are a little guy you tended to be quiet, pay attention and learn.

Grandpa was a farmer and Grandma was a one room school teacher. Grandma also taught vacation bible school during the summer break. Us kids learned how to tend good gardens and helped preserve the food we raised. We took care of the barn animals while the uncles milked. We hauled water to the bull pen and helped milk as we got older. Survival skill sets from the farm come from being part of a close knit community with a solid work ethic. There are strong religious underpinnings with good people engaged in caring for one another as well as the animals and the land.

Preparedness from "Roughing It”

The log cabin “up north” had a well-house for getting water and an outhouse for getting rid of water. There was a wood fired cook stove for heat and kerosene lamps to play cards under. There was a red checkered oilcloth on the table with cane chairs around it. The place was originally homesteaded by my great-great-grandfather in the late 1800s (a few electric lights were added at some point.) We used to go up on Friday night after Dad or Grandpa got out of work. The next morning started with an awakening trip to the outhouse and then fetching a bucket of water from the well house and kindling for the wood stove. On a cold morning you stepped lively until the fire was going.

Once the stove was hot, Grandma would cook buttermilk pancakes on a griddle that my great-grandmother had used in the lumber camp. Eggs and bacon sizzled in a cast iron skillet. Clothes were washed on a washboard in a wash tub and then hung out to dry. You took a bath in the river. During the summer we would fish morning and evening and water ski on the nice days. The family summer vacation was spent camping in a tent along the river or at a state park. The old cabin was also used for small game hunting in the early fall and deer camp in the late fall / winter. We would take walks in the woods and look for morels and other edible things like may apples, hickory nuts or raspberries and huckleberries. Animal tracks were learned and followed with hopes of a glimpse. Life was considered sacred unless needed for food and being a part of nature became obvious. A leave no trace and waste nothing ethic was being born.

Opportunities for further wilderness and pioneering skill development were provided by Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. My mom and dad were actively involved in Scouting when I was growing up. Teamwork and sharing responsibilities for the group were learned. Outdoor cooking and keeping things sanitary were heavily emphasized. Food poisoning is no joke – we had one patrol that damn near killed us with their meal. We learned to wash our hands and boil the crap out of everything. Hiking and backpacking skills were beginning to be developed in the Scouts. We day hiked a 20 miler once a year on the Johnny Appleseed Trail - the Scouts version of the death march. You had to carry a full pack if you wanted the patch. We also hiked the Pokagon Trail in northern Indiana and learned to camp in the winter.

While living in Pennsylvania (later in life) I started winter backpacking with a few of my buddies. We went in the winter both for the solitude it offered, and to learn the special skill sets required for survival in the cold. There are beautiful views from Seven Springs and other spots along the Laurel Highlands Trail during the winter. This experience then led to the development of technical mountaineering skills. The books Basic Rockcraft, Advanced Rockcraft and Knots for Climbers were memorized along with study of the book Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. Skills were practiced and ingrained.

My first solo backpacking / climbing trip came in the summer of 1980 in the Organ Mountains of southern New Mexico. I later solo climbed most of the 4,000 and 5,000 footers in New England (many in winter). I met a like minded climber on one of those hikes and we made a summit bid on Mt. Rainier in June of 1998. I also began the solo circumnavigation on the Wonderland Trail that year. I set the first tracks both that year and when I completed the circuit in June of 2001. Map and compass skills were required. Primitive camping while carrying everything you need to survive for two weeks is a tough proposition. It was tough in my 30s and 40s. It’s even harder now that I am in my 50s. G.O.O.D. to the deep woods is doable but it would be a hard life.

Responsibility and Teamwork

We learned to be responsible and self-sufficient during our childhood. We learned to play without other kids around and had chores to do for our allowance. I learned to gather the wood and light a fire as soon as I was old enough. You pumped the water and filled the reservoir if you wanted warm water for washing up. You learned to use guns and knives as tools while you learned hunting techniques and cleaned the game for the table. Being a responsible hunter meant taking ethical shots and using what you kill. Catching and cleaning fish, then cooking or smoking them were all part of being a good fisherman. To go along with these survival skills you also need the ability to share knowledge and work as a team.

Most of the skills you learn will help you to fend for yourself one way or another. The only problem is summed up with the statement “no man is an island”. You will need others sooner or later. My sisters and I developed basic teamwork skills while setting up camp. The girls helped mom and I helped dad. We had a “system”. This was carried further in Scouting. Some Patrols set up tents while another set up the kitchen. These valuable lessons were used later in life as I went through boot camp and during service in the military. I served on small boats as part of a search and rescue team in the USCG.
Teamwork helps to overcome the steep learning curve and high risk of being a self-sufficient survivalist. You can do things as a team exponentially quicker and safer than you can by yourself. Your bunkmate becomes your partner in boot camp and later becomes your shipmate. You learn “one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat”. As a team you can survive what would kill you alone. In a bad storm someone has to steer while someone bails out the boat. One person couldn’t do it. Avalanche in the back country is another perfect example - by yourself you are probably dead. Doing things alone is great - but it may cost you your life. Skill and knowledge can’t cover your a** like a buddy. It’s nice to have someone else on the rope with you; they are your only hope.

Teaching everyone at least something you know and learning from everyone something you don’t know can only make the group stronger. If someone gets sick or is tired someone else can step up. CPR is a good example here. In the back country one person can’t help himself. One person helping may bring back the life but it better happen quickly. Two people allow you to send someone for help while rendering aid until you are too tired to continue. Three people allow almost indefinite support. Two can alternate CPR while waiting for the one who left for help to return with the defibrillator. If help is real far away, then it’s done. There is a point of no return. Remote locations usually cross that point which is a distinct disadvantage (unless the SHTF).

Without teamwork you will usually die if something bad happens. Everyone has to be a good shot. Everyone needs to be able to render first aid. The group is only as strong as the weakest link and precious resources are spent covering someone’s a** that’s not up to speed. Teach and learn and cross train. Remember what you did as a kid and don’t sell the kid’s of today short. Teach them the skills they need and allow them to grow into the responsibility. Being part of a team or extended family that functions like a team is fun. The action of being responsible for one another is at the root of any team.

The Prepared Family

The family is the primary source of knowledge. Some survival skills to learn right along with reading, writing and arithmetic are: swimming, knot tying, fire building under all conditions, where to get water and how to make it safe to drink, safe gun handling and accurate shooting, hunting in fields and the woods, fishing in rivers and on lakes, first aid, camping, boating, gardening, making things “homemade”. You can’t start learning or teaching these things too soon.

10 years ago we moved back home to Michigan after living all over the USA. I had come home for my Grandpa’s funeral and was returning to New England. Something was wrong and I couldn’t put my finger on it. That’s when the light came on and as I drove it became apparent that I was going the wrong way – both figuratively and literally. We were chasing the so called “American Dream”. Losing my grandfather and returning to the north woods had shown me where home really is. It is with family and God and where your roots are. I had drifted away from the true values I had learned early in life.
I resigned my position, cashed out the 401(k), and bought the homestead from grandma. We planted 24 fruit trees and installed irrigation systems for the gardens. We pruned the grape vines back and tended to the asparagus beds. My wife renewed the old flower beds and I have replaced the split rail fence. We re-roofed everything. The folks put down another well up the field and had another septic system installed for their travel trailer. We had a 100 amp power drop installed and we also buried a power cable from the field to the trailer for a 12 volt system (small scale solar and wind).
I once again could use guns after living in the tyranny of Massachusetts. (I refused to get an Firearms ID card so my guns never left the house in 16 years.) I taught a niece and nephew to shoot with the same .22 that grandpa used to teach me with almost 50 years ago. My nephew, now an 8th grader, got his first deer this past year. No one believed him when he came home and told them. He did it on his own.

Things have now come full circle in our life. My grandma lives with us in her old house through the summer. My sisters are both Grandmas themselves now and they are taking care of our mom and dad. The kids have great-grandparents and a great-great grandmother. My understanding wife of thirty years and I live here on the homestead as stewards of the family heritage. The whole family gets together up here once or twice a year. We know how to provide for and take care of each other. If the SHTF my sisters and the rest of the family will head up here to the homestead and once again adopt the ways of our Great-Great Grandpa and Grandma. Everything we have learned through our lives will serve us well. Skill sets from the north woods and from the farm are derived from living simple, living manual and living with nature as part of nature.

We used to fall to sleep on a feather tick mattress while listening to rain tapping over our heads in the loft of the old log cabin. Bedtime stories were told as we drifted to sleep and the whippoorwills sang into the night. We didn’t think that the day would come that just about all of what we learned from our family and from our life would come into play. Thank God for our tight family and all of the distilled knowledge passed down to us. I now live in a home built over the site of the original log cabin and now we have 7 generations since my great-great grandparents first cleared this piece of land. It looks like we will be talking of another “Great Depression” soon and the complete cycle renews. Do we learn from our mistakes?

Preparedness Skills and Materials

We’re preparing for the future and I hope to teach what I can to as many people as I can before it’s over. We can survive well if we draw on one another’s strengths and knowledge. It starts with the family and moves out to the extended family then to the neighbors and on to town folk and into the blogosphere. Many people have grown up in similar circumstances and have similar experiences. We must practice our learned skills and trades all of the time to stay fresh and perpetuate our way of life. We must keep acquiring new skills and more materials for survival. Preparedness is a constant quest.

Survival trades that I've learned:

ASE Certified Master Auto Technician
Journeyman Machinist and Apprentice Welder.
Experience with all aspects of house construction from framing to finish work, including house wiring and plumbing for water, gas and DWV systems.
Professional ditch digger and home brewer of beer.

Survival tools, equipment, and material acquired over the years:

Comprehensive set of Snap-On hand tools, diagnostic equipment and garage.
Several redundant computers and complete wi-fi coverage with satellite internet.
All of the carpentry, plumbing and electrical tools needed to build a house.
All of the tools required to garden both manually and with gas engines.
Fence building tools and supplies.
5,500 watt gas generator.
Wood stove and saws, axes, mauls, wedges.
Stores of food, bits of gold and silver, books and manuals, and lots of lead.

Survival firearms battery:

Auto-Ordinance Model 1911A1 .45 ACP (I qualified Marksman in USCG)
Stag Arms AR-15 with 20” Bull barrel, 5.56 (I qualified Expert in USCG)
Marlin .22 WMR (squirrel / varmint gun)
Mossberg .22 LR (shot this since 1962)
Ruger M77 Mk II .270 Win. (my deer rifle)
Winchester Model 94 .32 Win. Special (got my first deer with Grandpa’s gun)
Mossberg 12 ga. 3 -1/2” Ulti-Mag in Camo (turkey / duck / goose gun)
Winchester Model 1897 12 ga. 2-3/4” (I've shot this gun since 1969)
Reloading equipment and supplies (loads for Barnes Bullets)

Survival Quest 2009 (the final pieces I'll need for grid down and "zombies"):

Ruger M77 Mk II .300 Win Mag with optics
A manual water pump (the old pump is gone)
Wind turbine and photovoltaic panels for water pumping and power generation.
Battery bank and inverter
More kerosene lamps
Night Vision for the AR-15

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read Brad S.'s letter with interest today. About ten years ago I was working in property management for an apartment community in Lakewood, Washington. Not exactly a low-crime area, to say the least.

One of our selling points was the gates at each entrance of the community. My manager and I took over the property not knowing the sort of people the previous management team had rented to. Over the course of four months, we evicted dozens of tenants for being months behind on rent, among other things. When this process began, we noticed that we received daily complaints about our gates being "busted".

Turned out disgruntled ne'er do wells whose pass codes had been deleted and locks changed were using their vehicle [bumper]s to push the gates open to get into the community. Because the gates open in the direction the vehicle is going (i.e. in for incoming vehicles and out for outgoing), these was extremely easy for them to do. One (non-criminal) resident actually got brave enough to slip outside one night and get video footage of a vehicle so that we could help the police try to track them down.

We went through thousands and thousands of dollars by the time we just gave up and stopped fixing them. It became a game for the nasties in the area and just wasn't worth it any more. The police had a heck of a time getting anyone involved in the Neighborhood Watch in the area, but when they finally got mad enough about their rent money not keeping up "security", people started cracking down on their former neighbors and current neighbors. Yes - current - even some of the punks who didn't get evicted were still doing it just to infuriate my boss.

Additionally, most of the apartments set up like this will purposely lock the gates open during heavy commute hours (say, 0700-0900 and 1600-1800) just to save on the electric bill and keep lines from forming at the gate. This means that anyone and everyone who happens to notice this on a property can just time their visits appropriately and have full access to your community.

Unless you are the only family on your place with much better gates and a better system, such gates are nothing but a mental barrier to keep honest people honest, as they say, and to instill a sense of security and class in the residents. This doesn't apply to heavy duty gates, especially those that slide from side to side on a track, vs the kind that open on a hinge with a small motor, of course. But in general, as somebody who got to write up about a hundred repair requests - skip 'em. They aren't worth it if they are the generic "make you feel special and make your place look fancy" type of gates.

Thanks for all your hard work. - M.K.

I too purchased a PTR-91 [HK91 clone] rifle and ordered 50 magazines from PTR 91 Inc. The shipping was reasonable and when I received them, there were [actually some free "bonus", for a total of] 55 magazines. They ranged from good to like new condition and had dates all the way from 1963 thru early 1990s. For $107 delivered, I got 55 magazines and a very big smile on my face. - M.E.K .

 Last year, I featured a link to the captivating website of a retiree that had custom-built a horse-drawn "RV". I just heard that he had an unfortunate accident. Prayers, please.

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From Cheryl: Many People are Raising Their Own Food to Save

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Our friend Bob in Tennessee mentioned a piece at the WRSA site, titled: Peggy Noonan Goes Doomer. The article references this article in The Wall Street Journal: There's No Pill for This Kind of Depression

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Skip flagged this: Gun Advocates Ready for Battle on Federal Assault Weapons Ban

"Morals—all correct moral rules—derive from the instinct to survive; moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.... Man is what he is, a wild animal with the will to survive, and (so far) the ability, against all competition. Unless one accepts that, anything one says about morals, war, politics—you name it—is nonsense. Correct morals arise from knowing what Man is—not what do-gooders and well-meaning old Aunt Nellies would like him to be." - Robert A Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

In January, 2008, the outlook for people in the United States appeared bleak. I told my wife that we needed to stock-up on food because I felt that the supply lines were thin and vulnerable. I began my preparations by Internet search. I found JWR's SurvivalBlog and I bought a copy of his novel. In the meantime, I started buying cases of canned goods. I bought food that we generally ate. I looked at the expiration dates of every purchase. I tried to buy what would last through 2011. Not much would, so I bought with the idea of buying more later, looking for one year at a time.

The pantry was full. I had read Jim's book, and had found many links on the SurvivalBlog that helped me know how much of what to buy to be balanced. I bought a freezer at Sam’s Club and filled that also. I noticed that food prices were increasing at an alarming rate in August. They were up 18% on same item purchases, on average. Later that figure would reach 35%. I only talked about this to a trusted few. My wife was starting to wonder about me.

Soon thereafter, a Harbor Freight store opened in Jonesboro, Arkansas, my home base. There, I purchased several more items I saw as essential. I got a two burner propane stove with a center grill feature. I bought some LED flashlights, ropes, staple guns, and other miscellaneous items. Being a hunter and former U.S. Army officer, I had a lot of camping (survival equipment) on hand. Sleeping bags were there, polypropylene long johns, butane lighters, three 20 gallon and one 100 gallon propane tanks were filled. I use them for my barbeque grill. I told my wife that we should buy a generator. She said that if I thought we should buy it, that I should. I didn’t.

I found some water barrels at a local food processing plant. I now have eight 55 gallon drums. I found 4 red 35 gallon chemical barrels that were set aside for gasoline. I had about six 5 gallon gas cans to operate my 4 wheeler, fishing boat, and sundry other small engines like lawn equipment and field water pumps.

Day to day, I am an NRA certified training counselor/instructor. Starting in November 2008, my business started to boom. I had a 300% increase in Arkansas concealed carry classes. That hasn’t stopped to this day. I have a 35 acre facility that is a former bean field, surrounded by thousands of farmland acres and two liquor stores. I have a 1,200 square foot building for classroom and office space, a 52 foot trailer for storage. My plan for survival guns was simple. All guns were to be military calibers. Handguns would be .45 and .38 calibers. Rifles would be .22 rimfire, 7.62x39, .308 and .30-06 calibers. Shotguns would be 12 gauge. Stocks of ammunition were increased starting early in 2008.

Shelter, food, security. What is left? Communications. I bought a set of 25 mile range pair of Motorola hand held communicators with recharger on sale for $38. Stores of batteries were laid in. Cell phones. Transportation was what we already had. 2001 Dodge Durango 4x4 and a 2005 Chevrolet 4x4 extended cab pick-up.

The Storm

January 28, 2009. KAIT –TV weather in Jonesboro, Arkansas is forecasting a wet winter storm cold front with frigid weather following out of the Northwest. When it began, the outside temperature was about 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing rain collected on everything in near biblical quantity.

I was awakened in the early morning of January 29th and you could hear branches starting to snap with a sound like gunshots. Outside, you could see flashes of light as one by one, the transformers on the light poles blew out. The power was off. It was time to go to work. First, open the flue and light the gas logs in the fireplace. Inside the house, the temperature had quickly fallen to about 40 degrees. I thought to crack a window for ventilation draft to reduce the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. Then I set up a propane heater and went about blocking off all rooms except the den and kitchen, which were adjoining. I used 4 mil plastic to cover two entrances to the den. The temperature quickly found about 62 degrees. We placed a carbon monoxide detector in the room to keep us from being statistics. The propane stove was set up over the electric range for cooking and a 20 pound bottle of propane was connected to it. I started thinking about how I should have bought a generator.

By morning, we felt isolated in our home. Very few vehicles were moving. The world outside looked like a war zone with ice-laden limbs and the things they crushed. With no electricity, the phones didn’t work. We ate breakfast normally. The whole world became our refrigerator. No cable TV so we cranked up the radio and began to listen to the results. Reports of some break-ins started coming in as people abandoned all electric homes for the designated shelters in town. Outlying areas quickly ran out of gasoline and propane. Stores emptied out their goods and shelves became bare. Generators and flashlights were nonexistent. Batteries and power supplies followed suit. Many businesses were unable to sell anything as their computers were down and lights and heat were out. Sadly, no one has a backup plan for how to sell anything without electricity. Gas cans were a faint memory. I checked on our neighbors to make sure they were coping, and to exchange cell phone numbers. The telephone system actually works without outside electricity if the type of phone you use doesn’t need 110 volts from the grid. We had one emergency phone for that reason, and it was operational. I wondered how many people knew about that?

The day passed relatively uneventfully. We had everything we needed to exist in a minor disaster. Some people didn’t. A few died for their lack of preparedness.
After the passing of the first day of “survival,” tree limb removal became the priority, while everyone fought what southerners call severe cold. It was the 30th of January. The temperature was unrelenting with nighttime lows of 9 degrees and daytime highs of 20. I was able to venture out for things that would be nice to have, like a generator. You see, with a generator, our gas furnace would work. All you need it for is the electric blower. It was the only hole in the preparations. I went in to the local Lowe’s, after checking a couple of other stores. In the back of the store there was a line of about 13 people. I asked why they were there. There was a truck inbound with 75 generators. I got in line. Twenty minutes later I was in the electric department buying the necessary wire nuts and power cords needed to hook my [newly-purchased] generator to the power panel in my house.

When I got home, the first thing I did was to disconnect the house from the grid by turning off the main breaker, outside the house. You must do this before attempting to connect a generator to your power panel. Failure to do so could kill workmen repairing downed power lines and connecting transformers. To get things operational quickly, I used the cord provided with the generator, which used four grounded plug outlets. To operate the [selected] areas to connect, I bought 10 gauge wire. We turned off all appliances and I pulled out the circuit breaker for the selected rooms. I disconnected the wire from the circuit breaker and wired it directly to each wire with a male plug on the other end to mate with the wire from the generator. I did this for the heater circuit, the den wall circuit, the kitchen wall circuit, and the master bedroom wall circuit. The heater kicked on.

I offer one final note about using a generator. The operation book has a chart in it showing the watts used by each type of appliance. You must calculate the [load] amount used by your appliances. It has to add up to less than your generators running wattage rating.

We were on a main highway in town, and we had our electricity hooked to the grid after spending only a few nights without. Many in town were without electricity for three weeks. In outlying areas, some are still not connected. The line crews working to restore power were fantastic. Limbs still line the highways and yards a month after the event began.

Lessons Learned
It was nice to be confident in the preparations that we had made. It was also easy to see the holes in the plan. I now have the generator that I knew I would need when the grid goes down. After the fact, I also bought the connections necessary to hook up the generator just by turning off the main breaker, plugging the generator to an installed wall socket, and cranking it up. Cell phones go down after only a few days without a charge. I bought a portable power battery for that purpose. If we had been out of power long term, the generator would have had to have been used on a part time basis, at night. That means that daytime operations would have been using only one or two rooms, again. When power goes down, the best fallback is natural gas, if you have it. I am in the process of planning where to install additional natural gas stubs for appliances that can be added. The natural gas hot water heater was a blessing. It was on from the start. The warmest place in the house was the utility room where the water heater is located. Remember to have books and games for those evening hours when you would have been watching television. Make sure all of your gasoline cans stay filled and stabilized. Make sure all of your propane bottles stay charged. Make sure you have plenty of batteries for radios and flashlights. Make sure you have enough essential medicines. Roger’s Rangers rules #1 rule is "Don’t fergit nuthin!"

I may have missed a few issues, but I want to talk about future plans. I am going to install photovoltaic panels to run an emergency LED lighting system. This would be a small solar panel, probably 45-60 watts [and a deep cycle battery], as a precursor to getting a more comprehensive system. LED lights use very little electricity and they are very long lasting. More technology will be added as it becomes available. Reducing reliance on the grid is the ultimate goal.

Final Words
You can war game and "what if" emergency situations as much as you like. It is good to exercise your plan. The problem is that real situations have a way of waking you up to the holes in your plans. Do not wait to begin planning for the next disaster. People in tornado and earthquake zones know about being ready for these things, but Mother Nature will have a surprise for you no matter where you are. Prepare for the worst and pray to God that it doesn’t happen.

Hi Jim,
Due to the real estate slump and the poor economy, my wife and I are trying to unravel our mess of real estate investments. One thing we did, was to abandoned our McMansion in a rural area near Seattle, Washington. It was a new four thousand square foot custom home in a gated community. All the other houses were as large and some significantly larger. We had abandoned the house about a year ago after failing to sell it for what we owed, and have not made any house payments since then. We also chose not to pay the home owners association dues which is there to maintain the landscaping and the automatic gates.

Last week we received a letter from the gate maintenance company. they repair and service the gates. They sent a contract to each of the houses behind our particular gate requesting us to pay them month service fees in order to have the gates that were owned by the neighborhood to be operational.

Apparently, the association had several people not pay the yearly fees and they have decided to keep the landscaping maintained, but not the gates.

My point is that these are a very false sense of security. I know for fact that if power is lost, the gates automatically open. and the power can be turned off usually by an unlocked power panel behind some bush nearby the gate. I thought this was interesting and wondered if any other people had this same experience. - Brad S.

Greetings -
Just wanted to say "thank you" for suggesting the PTR-91 as a battle rifle option. I will freely admit to getting caught up in the AR-15 hysteria but I have come to my senses and saved money thanks to SurvivalBlog.

German surplus G3 alloy military surplus magazines in good to excellent condition are easily available in quantity for $3-to-$4 each. Contrast that with AR-15 mags at $15+ each, and that's a 5:1 ratio. Or, for the same $90 folks are paying for a single AR-10 mag, they can get more than 25 surplus G3 mags, shipped! In addition, while AR-15s are nearly impossible to find at $1,000 or less, I am finding PTR-91s on the shelf for $1,100 just waiting to be bought. Yes, 7.62mm NATO is more expensive than 5.56 NATO, and the G3 mags are only 20-rounders, but all in all I can't think of a better, low total ownership cost battle rifle than the PTR-91. - JT in Michigan

Shrike sent this: The Size of Derivatives Bubble = $190,000 Per Person on Planet. Shrike's comments: "Jim, you were uncomfortably prophetic in your September, 2006 article, predicting that derivatives would be a major problem. Until your article, I'd never even heard of the term, at least in terms of financing and markets. Not surprisingly, we still hear very little from mainstream media about them."

Reader "Parsley" mentioned an London Telegraph article that does not bode well: IMF poised to print billions of dollars in 'global quantitative easing'. Consumer price inflation on a grand scale is a likely result Get out of paper currencies, and into practical tangibles, soon!

Items from The Economatrix:

Wall Street Moves Higher, Building on Four-Day Rally

Oil Drops 5% after OPEC Votes to Maintain Levels

Turmoil Pierces Heart of Global Economy

UK: Air Passenger Numbers Drop for First Time in 17 Years

Switzerland's Biggest Bank, UBS, Cutting 5,000 Management Jobs

Staggering Deficits in an Inflationary Economy

Ukraine and Latvia Warn of Disaster if Not Helped

Jim Cramer's Full Explanation of Stock Market Manipulation

US Faces New Depression Misery as Financial Crisis Worsens

Extraordinary Stress in the Silver Market

27 Visualizations and Infographics to Understand The Financial Crisis

Bar-Mat Horrors (The Mogambo Guru)

BofE Warns Banking Tensions at Fever Pitch "Tensions in the financial system are approaching the fever pitch they reached before the collapse of Lehman Brothers last October, the Bank of England has warned."

Britain Showing Signs of Heading Toward 1930s-Style Depression

I had this piece from Cheryl slated for the Economics section, but I decided to move it down to Odds 'n Sods since it is related to practical preparedness: Dollars From Dirt: Economy Spurs Home Garden Boom

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From Paul in Kentucky: World Demand for Safe Drinking Water is Rising, U.N. Warns

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The Los Angeles Times profiles Neil Strauss, the author of a new book on preparedness: What's new now: He's ready for emergencies.

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Several readers forwarded me the link to this article on the erosion of free speech

"Pangloss is admired, and Cassandra is despised and ignored. But as the Trojans were to learn to their sorrow, Cassandra was right, and had she been heeded, the toil of appropriate preparation for the coming adversity would have been insignificant measured against the devastation that followed a brief season of blissful and ignorant optimism." - Ernest Partridge: Perilous Optimism

Monday, March 16, 2009

In addition to books and DVDs, we now sell a wide variety of preparedness gear through But please patronize our paying advertisers first. If they don't have what you are looking for, you can order using the links at our Amazon Preparedness Gear Page. By using the provided links, you'll help support SurvivalBlog, with sales commissions. Thanks!


Congrats to K.B., the high bidder in our most recent benefit auction.

Today we are beginning a new auction. This one is for another large mixed lot that includes

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 26 full-capacity firearms magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Brand new "smoke gray" polymer original Bulgarian 40 rd. AK-47 magazines, 10 - brand new AR-15/M16 USGI black Teflon coated alloy 30 round magazines with stainless steel springs and the latest orange anti-tilt followers, 6 - new condition original USGI M14/M1A 20 round parkerized steel magazines, from CMI (the current military prime contractor) 6 - new condition original Glock Model 20 (10mm) 15 round pistol magazines--the latest production type with "SF" front magazine catch notch . All of these magazines are of recent manufacture (and hence are NOT legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $750, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2.) A large Bury 'Em Tube (# 6L, 43" x 6" with a 5.1 gallon capacity), donated by Safecastle. (a $199.95 retail value)

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) An OPTIMUS Terra Cookset for backpacking, tent camping or even WTSHTF, donated by Safecastle. It includes the ultra-compact Crux stove, plus a special small cookset--all very portable and lightweight. (Fuel canister not included.) (a $95 retail value)

6.) A fresh, sealed case of full mil-spec MRE rations with ration heaters, courtesy of (a $94.95 value)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,300. This auction ends on April 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

I followed the link in Thursday's blog to this I followed this news story: 45 percent of world's wealth destroyed: Blackstone CEO. It stated: "Between 40 and 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half." I don't see how Schwarzman can be right about that. The factories are still there. the farms are still there. The houses are still there. And there are still warehouses full of everything from Machinery and bar stock to Sponge Bob Squarepants toys.So what has been destroyed are just "on paper" profits, not any real wealth. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but what is to stop us from just revaluating things, and getting along with life? Thanks, - F.T.G

JWR Replies: You are mostly right, but partly wrong. You are correct that there has been very little real tangible wealth that has been destroyed, other than inventory that might be discarded for lack of a market, some half-finished commercial and residential building projects that will eventually get bulldozed, and some perishables that have been delayed in transit and that went to waste. You are also correct that most of what still exists tangibly has genuine value. But consider that an under-utilized factory produces fewer goods than a fully-utilized factory. (OBTW, on that note, we can thank President Obama for at least keeping America's gun, ammunition, and magazine factories working at a fever pitch.)

So let's step back and look at the big picture...

What has been destroyed:

1.) Asset Values:

This goes without saying. Reader FTG is correct that facilities and capital equipment are physically intact, but their values have been greatly reduced. I expect to see this process continue for several more years.

2.) Wages and Buying Power:
By cutting out overtime, reducing shifts, idling assembly lines, canceling re-stocking orders, reducing pensions, scaling-back benefits, and laying off employees, there has been a great contraction in wage-earning income and hence buying power--even to the point where people are having trouble making their mortgage payments. This leads to a chain collision of missed house payments, foreclosures, and evictions. Worse yet, it means even more houses will be dumped onto a market that is already flooded with "excess inventory."

3.) Credit, and the Perception of Credit-Worthiness:
As I've described before, the economy is presently in a phase characterized by revaluation--as the various market sectors probe for new market prices.(Economists call this "Price Discovery.") Simultaneously, lenders are are positively petrified to lend to their heretofore "credit worthy" clients. There has been so much debt re-packaging that has gone on, that it is now very difficult to reliably assess any accurate values of assets and to evaluate loan risk

4.) Consumer Confidence
Much of the consumerism that built up in the US for the past 30 years was a Spendthrift mentality, created by the bygone oceans of "Easy Credit". Both that credit and the resultant spending are now gone. And I do mean gone. In previous recessions, there had been brief declines in consumerism, but I can foresee that this one one will be different. This will be more like the 1930s, where the nation developed an entire generation of penny-pinchers. Don't get me wrong--I consider this a good thing! Saving is admirable. Overspending is foolish. But from the standpoint of economic recovery, this could delay recovery by several year, since a large portion of the economy had built up around the concept of women with 25 pairs of shoes, and men with three sets of golf clubs

5.) For Many, the Hope of Retirement at Age 65:
Millions of American that were nearing retirement have lost any hope of retiring. Aside for the holdings of a few crazy "gold bugs" (like SurvivalBlog readers), their IRAs and 401(k)s have been devastated. There are also some company pension plans that have gone "poof" or that will surely be scaled back considerably. I don't want to gloat, but those of you that took my advice three years ago and sold their dollar-denominated investments and invested in tangibles have come through the credit market collapse virtually unscathed. Some of you even came out ahead. Meanwhile, those that left their money in stock-heavy 401(k) accounts have been devastated. Losses of 30% to 50% have been the norm. Ouch!

6.) Carefree Mobility:
Before the housing bubble burst, people could easily change jobs, sell their houses (at a profit!) and move from coast to coast without much inconvenience. But to do so now constitutes major trial and tribulation. Up to 40% of people with mortgaged homes now have negative equity--meaning that the remaining principal of their mortgage now exceeds the market value of their house. (This is commonly called being "upside down" in a mortgage.) So now, even for someone that can make their mortgage payments, changing jobs to a new locale beyond commute distance means losing their house and starting over. And if they go with the "jingle mail" method, it means starting over with a ruined credit rating.

7.) The Last Shreds of Job Security:
Following the trend set by Silicon Valley, when the "Dot.Com" bubble burst in 2000, many industries are now getting positively ruthless about cost-cutting. There is now a constant barrage of news of layoffs, reduced benefits, and cutting our perks. Don't expect "normality" to resume to the corporate workplace in our generation. Any vestiges of "job security" have become a thing of the past.

What Will Likely Continue to Be Destroyed:

1.) Further erosion of asset values.
The price of real estate (both residential and commercial) will likely continue to decline until either A.) The economy starts to recover, or B.) Inflation kicks in. If it is the latter, (which is what I suspect, sooner or later), property prices will start to rise only because general price inflation has grown. But this will be a false recovery in real estate. Real property values will continue to decline, while the currency unit itself is being destroyed. Yes, your house may be worth a several million dollars, but what will a million dollars buy you in such times? The same may happen with stocks. In the presence of inflation, news of a "stock market rally" will be nothing but fiction if the currency. Amidst the "Happy Days are here again" hoopla, real values will still be in the dumpster.

2.) More job losses and further-reduced wage-earning hours

3.) More failed pension programs

4.) The dollar itself as a currency unit. This recent news article was a subtle warning: The Swiss central bank has already fired the first shot in the global currency war. I expect large devaluations--both formal and informal--by many nations in the near future. The bottom line is that the US Dollar is doomed.

What will Remain and Gain:

Tangibles, Tangibles, Tangibles! I've been harping on that theme in SurvivalBlog for three years. Again, those of you that took my advice are mostly sitting pretty. Silver and gold have doubled, as have ammunition and many full capacity magazines. Productive farm and ranch land has held most of its value, while at the same time suburban real estate has plummeted. If you have not yet transitioned out of dollar-denominated investments, then do so immediately. (The current stock rally is nothing but a sucker rally in the larger context of secular bear stock market So this is a good opportunity to bail out.)

The present-day wave of deflation will likely be followed by a period of sharp inflation. At some point, all those trillions of "magically created out of thin air" dollars that will needed for the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) will inevitably catch up with the Dollar. My closing warning: Be ready for some serious consumer price inflation, most likely starting in 2010.

Mr. Rawles,
On foot crossing a barbed wire livestock fence that is stretched tight can be a problem. Stretching the fence with the hands makes a small space. Hanging gear and loose clothing seem to always find a barb to catch. The trick is to make a pair of fence stretcher/stabilizers. Any material can work but light weight metal is the best. The stretching sticks or bars only need to be strong enough to not bend in the middle while under tension. I recommend using two pieces of lightweight metal bar stock about 14 to 16 inches long. Notch each end. Place them between the wires to be opened. One in front of you and one in back [,about five feet apart.] You have a nice wide opening for you and anyone with you to navigate safely and quickly.
After crossing you remove them and place on or in a pack for re-use. No one can tell if you have crossed at that place.

If stealth is needed you can do the same on ground level by placing one end on the ground and the other on the lower wire.
You can then slide under the bottom wire and pull any gear through, remaining in the prone position.

Positioning of these is best accomplished wearing a pair of heavy leather gloves.

A stretcher bar is necessary on a six wire fence because the distance between the wires is considerably less than on a five wire fence.

Cordially, - JWC in Oklahoma

Hi Jim,
Here are a few links for Beeswax survival "cooking" candles. They burn cleaner and longer than paraffin and are also considered safer. (Though they may not be the best choice for burning outdoors in bear country!)

Pheylonian Survival Candles
Pheylonian eShop
Zen Stoves

- All Grace, No Slack, Really-Reformed Kris

Inyokern sent this "must read" piece that compares the current collapse with 1929: Surviving the Great Collapse

Mike K. spotted this telling news article: A Trashed Economy Foretold, Intake at Landfills Has Been Falling

From Joan M.: Canada's dirty subprime secret

Laura H. sent this: Banks scramble to return bailout funds

From Ben in Nevada: Dollar Crisis in the Making - Before the stampede

Germ Warfare Guru Goes Free, Why did Malaysia release Al Qaeda's bioweapons expert? (Thanks to DD for the link)

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The folks at SafeCastle have added four sizes of the eminently practical Bury 'Em Tubes to their product line. Safecastle Royal club members get 20% off, as usual--and shipping is free.

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N. in Michigan sent this: Gold For Bread - Zimbabwe

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And to close with a bit of humor, Shopping in Texas?

"Money is a mirror of civilization. Throughout history, whenever we find good, reliable noninflated money, we almost always find a strong, healthy civilization. Whenever we find unreliable, inflated money, we almost always find a civilization in decay." - Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury, Karl Hess, Kathryn Daniels, and Jane A. Williams

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today is the last day to bid! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,485. This auction ends at midnight (Eastern time), tonight, March 15th. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $700, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

3.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I was working in a pawnshop in Aransass Pass Texas, about 20 miles North of Corpus Christi, Texas. Two days earlier my wife and I watched the destruction of New Orleans on National Television, the news coverage was continuing around the clock as the drama unfolded.

Gasoline had shot up from $1.56 to $2.99 a gallon overnight and of course I had to fill up that morning to get to my menial low paying job. Late that afternoon a rich looking couple driving a huge brand new pickup truck, came into the pawnshop. They spoke very loudly about how their family members in New Orleans did not have electricity and were relying on them for help. How they communicated [with those in New Orleans], I did not know. The pawn shop owner had two used generators and this couple was desperate to buy them, even hundreds of miles away from Louisiana, generators had become scarce. The couple bought both of them, at an extra high price, and the owner asked how they were going to get them to New Orleans for their family members to use. “Well” said the man, “we can’t drive up there because the roads are closed, so we are going to take these to the UPS office and have them shipped to New Orleans, no matter what it costs.” No one revealed to this man the flaw in his thinking. My Wife and I had a good laugh about that when I got home that day.

September 20, 2005.
We were very concerned about Rita’s progress that night, after Katrina everyone was in near panic.

September 21, 2005
They called the evacuation that morning, we had no money and our car was hardly running, there was no way it would make it inland several hundred miles, even if we had money for gas. The storm looked like it was going to make a direct hit where we lived in Rockport, Texas 30 miles North of Corpus, and right on the coast. Our financial situation was dire, my Wife had lost her job, and after an altercation with my manager at the pawnshop, I had quit mine. We were awaiting an inheritance to come through, but it had not happened yet. The job prospects in the small tourist town, in the off season, were grim. I thought about just sitting tight, but the lives of my Wife and kids prompted me into action. With reluctance and a feeling of failure as a man, I called my Father for help.
Jobs, money and status were the code that my father lived by, even though he had never held a low wage job in his life. He agreed to help, and reservations at a hotel in Wimberly Texas were made, before the golden horde set out from Houston. We would leave in the morning in my father’s truck, heading roughly two hundred miles inland. Wimberly is located between Austin and San Antonio Texas. I spent the afternoon of that day boarding up my Father’s house in the nearly 115 degree heat and humidity. After that was accomplished my Wife and I needed to pick up a few things in town including a prescription. It was completely surreal in Rockport late that afternoon. The streets were all but abandoned, trash fluttered in the wind on the empty sidewalks, most business were already closed. The schools had closed at noon that day, and the children sent home. Even the sky had a peculiar orange brown cloud cover that was unnerving. A hand painted cardboard sign adorned the windows at Super Wal-Mart stating that the store would be closing at 6pm, less than an hour away. The parking lot contained a handful of RVs and pick-ups with travel trailers, all of them were loading up canned goods, bottled water, propane, charcoal, flashlights, batteries and ammunition. We had about $6 at the local bank, but we also had a $300 overdraft privilege, the decision was made to exercise it. The ATM machines had been limited to dispensing only $80 at a time for only 3 transactions, to keep the machines from running out of cash. The ATM’s were also adorned with crudely made cardboard signs. We took our $80 out 3 times, with a $25 overdraft charge each time, that we would owe the bank at a later date. Inside Wal-mart it looked as if the hurricane had already struck, the store was a mess, and the employees had a haggard appearance. We picked up the prescription, there were no more batteries to be had, but I needed a box of .45 ACPs.

People had paid attention to the mayhem that followed hurricane Katrina, this was evident at the ammunition counter. They were out of shotgun shells, all common rifle rounds were gone, the same held true for common pistol rounds. All they had were oddball cartridges, .357 SIG, .45 G.A.P. .17 Remington, .300 Weatherby Magnum, et cetera. Even the .22 LR were gone. There would be no .45 ACPs for me, so we headed home. We passed several gas stations, again with crude signs, stating they had only premium fuel. We got home to get ourselves and our kids ready to evacuate in the morning. The television news reported that the hurricane was gaining strength, they still had no idea where it would make landfall, and residents of Houston were “urged” to evacuate now in a few hours it would be “mandatory”. I felt it was imperative for the members of my family to be equipped with proper footwear, in case there was trouble and we wound up walking. My 11 year old fashion aware daughter proved to be a problem, all she had was girly shoes that were otherwise useless. We scrambled to find her some walking shoes, deep in the closet we found a pair. Also in the closet we located a forgotten partial box of .45ACPs, at least my magazines would all be loaded. I vowed to never be caught without essentials like walking shoes and ammo again.

We packed light, I backed up my family photos and writings onto a CD-ROM and packed it, we included socks and a change of clothes for everyone, all of our important paperwork and identification and full canteens. Into my backpack went half of our cash, one 1911 Colt .45 Automatic with five magazines on a gun belt, one large Ontario Razor sharp hunting knife, one Swiss Champ, my medications including a good supply of aspirin, salt tablets and Dramamine. One compass, a military poncho, foot powder, boonie hats and a copy of “Conan the Adventurer” By Robert E. Howard. Everyone also had high energy snacks and a poncho. As we went to bed that night the TV reported more bad news.

September, 22 2005
This would be the day that I would learn how truly fragile our complex modern society is, I would also learn that by avoiding groupthink and with a little forward planning most hazards could be easily bypassed.

After disconnecting the water, electricity and gas to our house my Dad arrived and we loaded up by 9 a.m. . As I got into the truck my Father handed me a Texas Roads map book and said, “I have picked out our own evacuation route.” he had traveled the roads of Texas his entire life and knew every back road there was. The penciled in evacuation route would prove to be our saving grace. Many lives were lost that day because people and bureaucrats could not or would not read a simple road map; instead they relied on digital gimmickry and an unswerving belief that the interstate highway system was the only roadway available to them.

Urgency bordering on panic was wafting on the air, you could feel the tension, and see the worry on other motorists faces. We headed out on the first of many Farm to Market (FM) roads crisscrossing the state. Traffic on these back roads was still heavier than I had ever seen it. Towns we went through appeared deserted until you reached gas stations that were near riot conditions many were out of gas. Luckily my father had filled up the previous night, if he hadn’t we may have very well been stranded in the choking gasping heat that day. We switched back and forth onto differing FM roads to avoid more and more traffic, every town was congested, we had long waits at every stop light and four way crossing. A three hour trip had turned to six hours and counting, we stopped at small hamburger joint for lunch, it was jam packed, as we ordered we overheard other folks talking. Rumors were flying about accidents, fires, turmoil and gridlock on Interstate 10, they still had no idea where Rita was headed. We got our order and headed back out eating in the truck, the little town was swamped with cars and people, one person was driving on the sidewalk, there were no police in sight.
Between towns on the FM roads it was easy going, but as you neared any community there was chaos, as the afternoon progressed, many a crude sign could be seen proclaiming “No more gas”, No more food”, this was repeated again and again. We were coming up on Seguin Texas when traffic came to a halt, we were about to cross over I-10 the main evacuation route out of Houston. Out of the truck window along the horizon I could make out several columns of black smoke. It took over an hour to travel the two miles to the overpass and then I saw I-10. All the lanes had been re-routed to head west only, It was like a scene from a movie, as far as I could see there were lines of cars, both to the east and the west pointed in a single direction. There was no end, none of them was moving, more columns of smoke could be seen in the distance what caused them I did not know.

Heat rippled off the metal and in automobile exhaust, the evacuees could not turn off their engines, if they did there would be no air conditioning and heat prostration would quickly find them, especially the old and the very young. Along the roads sides people could be seen walking, I guess they had abandoned their vehicles in search of a respite from the heat. A fuel truck was also traveling on the road side, it was not stopping for anyone, and a few police cruisers traveled the road sides as well, the only vehicles in motion along that nightmarish interstate.

Late in the afternoon we arrived in Wimberly and checked into the Motel, which was completely booked and we were the last people with a reservation to arrive. My father was staying with a friend in Wimberly and he left us his truck. We headed to the grocery store to lay in our supplies it was crowded but not overrun yet. We bought three days of food for a family of four and headed back to the hotel. The storms heading was still uncertain, but at last we enjoyed some peace and laughter. Later that night we decided to run back into town and get some ice cream, there was chaos in Wimberly this time. The grocery store we had been at just hours earlier was stripped bare. They had cleaning supplies and some make-up but that was about it, there was no more food of any kind to be had, no drinks, no water and no toilet paper. The streets were packed stalled cars littered the roadways and every gas station was out of fuel. We went back to the hotel, grateful that we had bought supplies earlier. We watched the TV and heard horror stories of what was going on, events that we had witnessed throughout the day. The night passed without incident.

September, 23 2005
We spent the day relaxing at the hotel late in the afternoon Hurricane Rita made her turn to the North making the previous two days an exercise in futility. She struck in the early morning hours on September, 24 between the Texas/Louisiana border, while we were safely asleep at the hotel. We went home as the storm moved inland.

Lessons Learned:
I believe that after Katrina officials overreacted to Rita in ordering the evacuation of Houston, Many died needlessly. This is a danger we still face today, not just the storms but the hysteria surrounding them.

After our experience we gave up on the coast and moved to Oklahoma, we live a hundred miles from any major city and we keep stores of food, ammo, water and medical supplies on hand in case we need them in a hurry. Never again will we be caught unprepared!


A note regarding my own experience with remote property ownership ...I owned a wonderfully ideal 40-acre bug-out property in northern Minnesota for many years. It was very remote. Some of the closest neighbors did not even know there was a cabin back in those deep woods. It was backed up to a large, forested DNR property that was itself bounded by swamp. My other bordering neighbors were full-time residents who were kind of ornery (very protective of their property and thus unintentionally served as guardians of my property) and so that was a plus. We were a half-hour from the nearest towns. Several dirt roads eventually took us to our driveway which crossed over the land of a curmudgeonly Vietnam vet. The driveway was a mile long through his property and then on through the DNR land where in parts it traversed swamp. We had two locked gates on that drive, near and far.

I won't go on reminiscing about the cabin, the off-grid electrical system, and all the rest of it here. (BTW, I bought this property shortly after first reading "Patriots" , so you certainly had a role in my thinking.) What I thought I could add to the current discussion is this:

1. If you are not a full-time resident of a property, even remote property--you will have uninvited visitors, "legitimate" and otherwise. We had several occasions of snowmobilers, ATV riders, and even a couple of burglary attempts. We were well fortified, so they were only attempted. (However, if they had been serious about getting some very valuable stuff on the premises, they could have done so with the proper preparation. We also discovered that we had a couple of visits while we were not there by the county tax assessor who hiked the one mile in when he could not get past the first gate with his vehicle.

2. Owning and maintaining a second comprehensive property, if you are not living there all the time, is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. In fact, it requires a demanding lifestyle commitment that, if you have other things going in your life, can get quite burdensome. Eventually, I made the decision to put all my time and preparedness money into my primary homestead (and in my preparedness business). I sold the property and all that went with it to a very lucky and appreciative buyer and used the proceeds to install an NBC shelter under a new addition on our home. We're on the outskirts of suburbia and come hell or high water, we'll make our stand here. It was really quite a relief to go this route, as I always worried about how and when we would be able to make the decision to head for the hills and whether it would be when everyone else was doing the same thing--making ourselves very vulnerable on the roads until we got to the property.
Furthermore, I had to admit that I'm not the young lion I once was, which had allowed me to think about dragging my family anywhere in a chaotic environment, unless there is simply NO option to stay put.

Bottom line--when someone asks me about bugging out vs. hunkering down--I advise that if at all possible, you live where your refuge is. There is an awful lot you can do to make your home your castle--wherever it is located. And you can do that for less money than buying, equipping, and stocking a second property. It also eliminates having to put you and yours at risk on the road between Points A and B (assuming you do have a secure Point B) at a time when there are going to be a lot of panicked and desperate people out there.
Blessings, - Vic at Safecastle

From Eric in Tennessee: China 'worried' about US Treasury holdings. Reader Kyle D. sent the same link. Kyle quipped: "At least they didn't say the dreaded 'D' word: Default."

The Other Chris sent this: Homeowners See U.S. Taxes Rise as Property Values Sink Amid Deficits. "Gee, Wally, if property values are declining, shouldn't our taxes be going down?"

Courtesy of Jay, comes: Glenn Beck's The Inconvenient Debt. Jay's comment: "[In this video segment,] there is great chart presented by Glenn Beck on the US money supply since 1929. It is shocking."

DD forwarded this from MSNBC: Investors and homeowners woes continue

From Alan: Insurance “Guarantee Funds,” Another Mirage?

This was linked at The Drudge Report: In recession economy, students look to funeral careers

Items from The Economatrix:

Will The Stock Market Rally Stick, or Vanish?

Chrysler Faces July Cash Crunch Even with More Aid

G-20 Pledge Sustained Action on Financial Crisis

Fear Still in Focus After Strong Rally

Tight-Lipped US Firms Pay for Their Silence: Study

China Stimulus Hopes Push Up of World Markets

Bailout Money is Flowing Abroad

China's Warning to the US: Honor Your Commitments

Obama: Crisis Not as Bad as We Think

Foreclosures Just Keep on Rising

Given the current ammunition and reloading components shortage in the US, this news couldn't have come at a worse time: "Effective immediately DOD Surplus, LLC, will be implementing new requirements for mutilation of fired shell casings. The new DRMS requirement calls for DOD Surplus personnel to witness the mutilation of the property and sign the Certificate of Destruction. Mutilation of the property can be done at the DRMO, if permitted by the Government, or it may be mutilated at a site chosen by the buyer. Mutilation means that the property will be destroyed to the extent prevents its reuse or reconstruction. DOD Surplus personnel will determine when property has been sufficiently mutilated to meet the requirements of the Government." This means that commercial reloaders will no longer have access to reloadable military surplus brass!

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I warned you, folks! AR-10 magazines are now pushing $90 each.

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Reader A.W. sent us two links on nut huskers/shellers: Where to buy one, factory made, and how to make your own (from Instructables)

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KAF sent this from the Protein Wisdom blog: You'll get my heirloom tomatoes when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say on the Lord." - Psalm 27:14

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hi Jim,
I heard that Washington state joined the 10th Amendment movement. Funny, but we moved out of that state in February because it was seemingly so socialistic. Since then we've been actively looking for a small farm in Idaho but when I heard that news I wanted to see if you think it advisable to look into eastern Washington too. I'm amazed at all the properties for sale there. You can get so much more for your money there. But I wanted to check with you first. Thanks, - Evan S.

JWR Replies: Keep in mind that just a few legislators in Washington have joined the movement. The resolution is far from a "done deal"! The long-term trends for both Washington and Oregon are for continued Californication. It is hard to buck a major demographic change, so I expect the tax and gun laws in Washington to get worse in the years to come. Just moving east of the Cascades won't help. It is the population weight of liberal western Washington that calls the shots. They look with disdain at eastern Washington as a "hick" minority.

Although land prices are generally lower in Washington, the property tax rates are much higher. I'd rather pay more at the outset, than be bled dry through the rest of my lifetime by high property taxes. My advice: Stick with Idaho!


To follow-up on your recent article, a very big “Pro” to buying off-grid land that was not mentioned is that you will not have strangers having access to your property. I am specifically referring to the Meter Reader for the utility company. I have “country” property on the Grid and have to furnish the Meter Reader a key to access the property to read the electric meter. The Meter Reader comes once a month to read the meter. I have not figured a way to deny them access. (Maybe you have a suggestion on how to prevent the meter reader from accessing the property) This stranger therefore has access to the property and also has a key to the gate and obviously has some knowledge of what is physically located on the property since he traverses the property to get to the meter. Being off grid puts you in a position to be able to keep everyone off of the property which to me carries a lot of value. - Carl D.

JWR Replies: Don't forget the propane delivery truck. But at least that can be scheduled for once every couple of years, at your convenience, and you don't need to give them a gate key.

Hi James,
Regarding the article "Some Thoughts on the Survival Vehicle" - I couldn't agree more with the choice of an older Ford truck. I love mine. The only part I take exception to is converting permanently from electronic ignition to a mechanical point type distributor. I understand the EMP and other concerns, but there is a caveat readers need to be informed of.

Some/most Fords with 302 or 5.0 liter engines in the mid- to late-1980s and on were equipped from the factory with a hydraulic roller lifter camshaft. The roller cams are made of very hard steel, harder than older hydraulic "flat tappet" camshafts. On these "Roller Cam" engines the roller camshafts must be mated to a special hardened distributor drive gear (a hardened gear is on the factory electronic distributor) or the roller camshaft drive gear will destroy the softer standard (ductile iron IIRC) point type distributor drive gear in short order. I found out the hard (expensive)way!

I know that there are some aftermarket hardened distributor gears that might be retrofitted to a point type distributor. Some racers use bronze distributor gears with roller camshafts, but these softer bronze gears are only intended for racing and would have a limited life when used on the street.

One might be able to retrofit a standard "non-roller" camshaft to a new engine, but that’s likely beyond the skill sets of the average Joe.

There is another distributor related issue to consider - assuming you already have or will have a points type distributor. There is an aftermarket electronic ignition kit made by a company called Pertronix. The Pertronix Ignitor made for Ford V8 point type distributors installs in place of the original points. (Pertronix make models for many types of vehicles, not just Fords). All the Pertronix components install under the distributor cap. I've equipped 10 vehicles with these ignitions over the years with no ignition failures of any kind. My truck has had a Pertronix Ignitor since 1999 making it almost maintenance free for day-to-day operation, as opposed to points. If, God forbid, an EMP or other factor rendered the Pertronix inoperable I keep a set of points/condenser in the vehicle to reinstall in the original point type distributor. I also keep a spare Ignitor in a sealed metal cookie can (EMP proof). Assuming you know how to change a set of Ford ignition points, reinstalling the points will take about 20 minutes or less. (Maybe longer if the engine is hot ;) ). I don’t work for Pertronix, I’m just a very satisfied customer. Food for thought.

Kind regards, - M. Artixerxes (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)


Some of the March 12 comments in SurvivalBlog discussed belts, hoses and tires. Here is an additional consideration, and has served me well for 30+ years. I buy spare belts, hoses, vacuum lines and tires - before I use any of them, I coat the outside of each of them thoroughly and liberally with mink oil, all over the outsides and let "set up" for a few days before installing, or for longer term storage.

These items deteriorate from dry rot over time when exposed to harsh temperatures, and extremely small "cracking" appears, from which failure is born . Even yet-to-be-used spares deteriorate when stored in most instances. Mink oil coated/treated rubber extends the useful service life of these items far beyond expected shelf ( or use ) life, in my experience. I even work it down inside the treads on tires.For true spare use, I then wrap tires in plastic trash bags, or sealed bags for smaller items such as belt and hoses and assorted lines.

FWIW, the same idea applies to storing leather coats and boots. - KT in Texas

Matt in Texas sent this "must read" link: Martin Armstrong: Is It Time To Turn Out The Lights? Here is a key quote: "We are standing on the edge of a cliff in the middle of nowhere. ... We must ask our politicians a very important question: Where are you going? To date, the answers have been more of a riddle... In other words, we get a paradoxical explanation that is of something that is the opposite of what it suggests. ... This Economic Depression is unstoppable, regardless what Government says. ... Unless we start to get sane people with real live experience outside of the governmental bubbles, we may see the total meltdown of western civilization. Everyone will then blame the next guy which will lead to war." Matt commented: "The 'waterfall' effect should send shivers when understood. No sector of any market will be unaffected by this engineered collapse. The scariest aspect is the pace or rate that it is taking
place. Rate is a big factor in momentum and the current momentum of this monster is building steam and strength."

Micah and Jasper both mentioned: S.C. governor evokes Zimbabwe in arguments against stimulus

GG sent us this: Swiss central bank fires the first shot in the global currency war.

Items from The Economatrix:

Freddie Mac Asks Treasury for $30.8 Billion

Millions Are No Longer Millionaires

Fed Documents Provide Insights Into Bailout

Cost To Buy Protection Against US Default Surges

Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades from Economists

Futures Market Betting on Geithner's Future
(Currently, 22% of people trading think he'll be out by end of year)

Small Manufacturers Cry Uncle

Citigroup CEO Tells Employees "We Are Profitable"
Analyst:says it's a P.R. gimmick

Can Two People Eat on $67 a Week?

Summers: "Excess of Fear" Must Be Broken

Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart Tangle on "Daily Show"

The Next Big Bailout Decision: Insurers

Central Banks Were January Net Buyers Of Gold

Sales of Guns, Ammo Still High

Wall Street Rises, Stocks Scoring Best Week Since Nov. What a classic Sucker Rally... Sell into this rally, folks. This may be your last chance before the next big leg down.

Kurt sent this: What sells in a recession. Kurt's comment: "Hmmm, canning and freezing supplies up 11.5%. Maybe some of the sheeple are waking up."

   o o o

Simon in England suggested this: "Jericho" gets second life -- as comic book. Meanwhile, there is still talk of a Jericho feature film. (You can read the latest gossip at this fan site.)

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Responding to my recent mention of creative "bumper attachments" that fit is standard receiver hitch channels, Johnny Utah mentioned this none-too-subtle novelty accessory.

   o o o

For a limited time, MURS Radios is offering the new Dakota Alert MAPS units at a significant discount (27% off), for SurvivalBlog readers only. The MAPS units have a magnetic probe that can be buried underground to detect vehicular traffic and send a voice alert message to either the Dakota Alert base or hand-held units. A 50 foot direct burial cable is included to aid in placement and provide for a covert installation. These can be mixed and matched with other MURS devices to create a flexible detection and two-way communications system.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” - Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, Stockdale's Paradox

Friday, March 13, 2009

Just two days left! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,435. This auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) on March 15th. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $700, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

3.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

It's nice to know how many guns you have to share amongst those mags, or better yet how many magazines do you have to share amongst multiple like model rifles or pistols for that matter. That's how I count them to see if I feel like I have enough or not. Plus, I like to count in the possibility of adding another gun or two into that particular category at a later date since buying extra mags is always cheaper than adding a new gun. If nothing else, extra mags are a great investment for later sale or barter especially if the current snake oil salesman in charge signs a new assault weapons ban into law.

As an example, I got caught with just a couple of AK and AR mags when the Assault weapons Ban (AWB) took effect in 1994. This was before the "preparedness mindset" for me which came later in 1996 when I found JWR's novel draft "The Gray Nineties" [--an early draft edition of "Patriots" ]. I was not nearly so gun market savvy as I am today. I was the typical gun owner/collector with one each of several guns without any thought to caliber consolidation or commonality of magazines for logistics purposes. In the same vein I may have had a couple 20 round boxes of 223 or 762x39 ammo laying around with really no thought of having anymore than what I needed to go to the range one time for about an hour's worth of shooting. In hindsight it was absolutely shameful--like 99% of the sleeping gun owning public.

Then the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was signed into law and there was a run on certain guns, ammunition, and magazines--much like we are seeing now--that swept the country overnight. Back then, I was way behind the curve on that and I got caught off guard. At the time $6 for a nice but used USGI M16 magazine was common and a new mag might set you back $10. Overnight if you could even find some for sale you had to pay double or triple that. Same with Glock magazines as another example. They went from +/- $15 for a new one to $40-$45. [JWR Adds: In 1999, I saw gun show dealers asking and getting $75 each for 13 round Glock 21 magazines, and $150 each for 33 round Glock 17/18/19 magazines!] This market environment went on for the 10 year life span of the AWB until it "sunsetted" in 2004. Prices went down and availability went back to normal until just before the 2008 election. Since 2004 I have been eagerly buying all the magazines I needed, or thought I might ever need in a lifetime. I learned my lesson. In anticipation of the election I was counting on the ignorance and gullibility of the general populace so I made a last bulk purchase of magazines. Good thing too! Just this past summer (2008), I bought a little over $1,000 worth of various magazines, and in particular Glock 17 magazines from my favorite place. At that time they were $16.99 all day long. The election came and now they are $24.99 from the same place, and even so they are still the cheapest I can find among my many regular sources. More recently, SIG magazines for have gone up at most places for instance. Pre-election they usually went for right at $30. One of my regular places has gone up a little bit to $33, but I've seen that most other places have jacked them up to $40. It was and is the old "short supply and high demand" syndrome, due in part to all the panic buying that could have been avoided if done a little bit at a time like I've done over the past five years.

As bad as the prices got then, what's going on now is far worse in terms of availability. Having lived and financially suffered through the '94 AWB, I still can say I've never seen anything like this before. This is easily twice as bad as the '94 AWB, and no legislation is even close to being signed into law yet. I lived and paid dearly through the '94 AWB and I feel like I can speak on the topic of what's happening in the gun market right now with some authority. In other words if you find a deal where they haven't gouged the prices, then I recommend buying extra beyond your immediate needs. Knowing what you know about your arsenal of freedom, I'd say stop buying guns and concentrate on ammunition and a few more magazines as a priority. You can't drive a Corvette if you can't afford the gas, so to speak. The mistake they made in 1994 was not going after the ammunition and they realize that now. If the majority of gun owning America is still anything like I was back in 1994, any possible self defense in a civil unrest situation would be short lived without adequate ammunition supplies already in place. And who's got time to reload the one or two magazines they got with the rifle in the middle of a fire fight? When it comes to magazines, more is better. I suspect this mood has improved among gun owners in general and that the lesson of the '94 AWB still smells fresh to some. As evidenced by my coworkers who come to me for 'gun advise", I still believe the majority are gun rich, but magazine and ammunition poor so to speak.

Now that I've gone on entirely too long you should have noticed the theme: Buy more magazines where you need them and even if you don't as long as the prices aren't gouge level. Buy more ammunition for your major battle rifle caliber at every opportunity because it certainly isn't getting any cheaper and availability is scarce. Look at and They are just plain out of all the common caliber ammunition. That is very telling, but it also concerns me the most. In case you feel overwhelmed at the very expense of it all, I give the example of a co-worker who recently got on the same page via my Christmas gift of JWR's novel "Patriots" .. On pay day this coworker without fail goes to the local Horse Tack & Gun Shop and buys two or three twenty round boxes of commercial .223. Whatever he can afford that pay day. Although he was quite behind the 8 Ball in the beginning, he has over 500 rounds now and he just picked up three extra M16 magazines. His little bit at a time strategy is working nicely, and I have seen his overall mood improve as his supply grows along with his confidence. He has also has been using the "copy can" method at the grocery store and his progression in that department has really improved his state as well.

As a general recommendation I advise the following with the caveat that you add the same minimum amount of used generic (cheaper) magazines for range use. I know it's extra money but you can't go wrong by then adding a second batch of new factory magazines as you can locate and afford them until you've doubled that original minimum. I can assure you they will make a nice investment later down the road. Keep those brand new magazines back in the "break glass in case of emergency" box. That will be your long term storage box that you don't touch until TSHTF. Buy .50 caliber ammo cans for a safe place to store magazines, with a bag of desiccant thrown in for good measure. I've actually vacuum packed mine for long term rust free storage. Keep the used but reliable generic mags about for immediate availability and for range use. [Some snipped, for brevity.]

As a absolute minimum I recommend the following. Hopefully you are in or can get into a position to consolidate caliber and like model firearms if for nothing other than a logistics standpoint. Having to find, purchase, and store several different calibers, and multiple types of magazines can make an already expensive proposition downright discouraging.

(10) Ten brand new magazines per main battle rifle (This under most circumstances should equate to basic load + spares)
(7) Seven brand new magazines per pistol (This also under most circumstances should equate to basic load + spares)


(1) Main Battle Rifle per adult or responsible teenager
(1) Main Sidearm per adult or responsible teenager

And of course, in my opinion one of the most often neglected items: professional training, and appropriate web gear to carry those magazines and your sidearm.

Hi -
I just read your comments regarding not holding jewelry for precious metals holdings. As one who makes his living (and has done so for decades) in jewelry, coins and guns, I fully agree with your comments. I have had many customers in over the years that had decided that jewelry was a good place to invest in precious metals, and after I went over it with them, they have all switched to good products.
There are some very good fake jewelry out there these days that will fool many, even with the use of a stone and acid. I learned the old fashioned way, using straight nitric acid rather that the acid mixes used today, which are much more fool-able and can tell much closer the karat and whether or not an items is solid, filled or totally phony. I also learned diamonds using just a loupe rather than with an electronic probe. And I agree with your comments about gemstones as well - they look great in the bottom of an aquarium but unless I know I can sell it to someone, I would never put my own money out for them.
You might go over (or you may have already in the archives) some of the other good silver and gold products to buy and hold, or I would be happy to write something up for you. I give this advice out daily in my shop, where I do guns and coins. Many of my customers are buying both, and food storage is increasingly a topic of discussion as well. I do a lot of digging and searching for ammo, so I am one of the very few places in town with ammo on the shelf and guns on the rack. - G. in Las Vegas


Dear Mr Rawles,
I just read the letter about using jewelry for barter on your web site and think your answer is right on. I am a jeweler in the Midwest and would like to add to your comments.
If someone wanted to sell jewelry now and buy items that would be easier to barter with during a post-dollar society here are some tips and insights.

1. Never send your jewelry away to a company advertising cash for gold on television. These people are crooks and you will get next to nothing for your gold.

2. The next worse place to take your jewelry for sale would be a pawn shop.

3. A jeweler or coin dealer is a better bet and will generally give you more money for what you have. Go to an independent jeweler, not a nationwide chain. Check with a couple of jewelers if you don’t have one you trust.

4. To get top dollar for your jewelry try selling it yourself. This has some drawbacks, it will take time and is a serious breech of OPSEC. Some jewelers may be willing to sell nicer pieces on consignment, this eliminates most of the OPSEC issues.

I can tell people how much they should get from a jeweler and why. Expect to get 50-65% of the actual market value of gold for your jewelry. Why so low you ask? There are a couple of reasons.
First the jeweler isn’t buying your gold, he’s buying your gold’s future. He doesn’t send the gold in to the refiner the day you sell it, he sends it in when he has several ounces to send at once. If the market falls between the time you get your money and when the gold is sent in the jeweler could loose money.
Refining gold isn’t free. First the package must be insured and shipped to the refiner. The refiner charges a fee to assay the gold, to determine its precious metal content. Then the refiner takes a cut off the top. The price varies from refiner to refiner but they generally get between 7-10%.
And finally the jeweler has to make a profit to keep his doors open.
A better bet for old, unused jewelry might be to have it melted down and made into something you will use.
Some things that will come in handy if you want to take in jewelry as payment in a post-collapse setting. Get an acid test kit and learn how to use it. These kits will give an approximate karat quality for 10-14-18k gold. Below is a list of how much gold is in each quality of gold.

10k = 41.66% gold (sometimes stamped 416)
14k = 58.5% gold (sometimes stamped 585)
18k = 75% gold (sometimes stamped 750)

It is illegal to put a quality mark on anything less than 10K gold in the USA. If you run across anything stamped 8K or 9K it probably came from Mexico and should be considered suspect. Always file the piece to be tested in an inconspicuous place, removing just a bit of metal, and put the acid on that spot. This will cut through any possible plating and give a test on the metal underneath. Get a scale, I’m sure most of you have a grain scale for measuring out powder charges, this works fine for weighing gold, just convert to ounces and remember that precious metals are weighed in Troy ounces not Avoirdupois ounces. [14 versus 16 ounces per pound.] A gram or pennyweight scale isn’t expensive and every house should have one. After weighing its just a matter of figuring out how much gold is really worth. Also get a good, strong magnet and check everything with it. There are lots of frauds out there, anything that sticks to a magnet is gold plated and should be considered junk.

A word of caution about gemstones, don’t give any money for gems unless you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and never trust an appraisal. Tell the seller that you aren’t interested in the stones and they can remove them from the setting if they want them. Don’t remove them yourself. Also don’t expect to get much for stones in jewelry you are selling unless they are exceptionally rare and valuable. Jewelers usually have many carats of diamonds on hand, they don’t need yours, and if they do buy them the stones will sit in inventory for months before being used.

Be careful dealing with jewelry after TEOTWAWKI. I know what I’m doing around jewelry and I’d much rather deal in coins or other forms of wealth. Its easier and faster and I could use the coins to trade with almost anyone. Remember, just because you are willing to trade for jewelry doesn’t mean that someone will [later] want to take it from you in trade. Take note of what my old boss used to say, “Gold is a wonderful thing, but you can’t eat it and it doesn’t keep you warm at night.
Keep your powder dry, - Kestrel


Hi Jim,
I have recently started a business buying and selling unused/unwanted jewelry, coins and PMs (precious metals). One thing that I have learned through the start-up process, is that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, being able to identify PM coins or jewelry's value will be a skill that could really come in handy. Having scales, acid testing kits, and electronic testing equipment such as the ones I bought from, could really give you an edge when the balloon goes up. I bought the GLR-24 tester that can determining the karat content of a piece from 6-24 karat gold, and can also detect the presence of platinum and silver. My acid kit (which only runs about $20), can identify gold as well, but the process is bit more time-consuming, however the advantage is that I will not be entirely reliant on a battery-operated electronic device when/if it breaks later on down the road. Using an acid testing kit takes practice, and you would be wise to learn how to do it now, and not try to figure it out under more stressful times that are sure to come.

I also acquired a gem tester in the kit (that detects diamonds, moissants, and zirconium gems), although the value of these items would be suspect at best, as not many would trust their authenticity, and thus, they would be hard to utilize as a form of currency (but having the ability to test them can't hurt either as an opportunity could present itself I suppose). In the kit I also received an electronic scale that weighs in ounces, grams, and grains and a lighted loop for reading the stampings.

Keep in mind that people can stamp whatever they want on metals or jewelry, but that does not make it authentic! Coins are even forged a lot (read: China) in today's world. The only way to truly determine something's worth is to have the means to test it!!! I would also recommend that all survivalbloggers have a print-out of weight and measure conversion charts, and that you become familiar with the process of calculating the worth of 10K, 14K, 18K and 24K gold. It is also important to know how to calculate the value of coinage and know their purity content for their respective years they were minted. Remember, fiat currency will probably become a thing of the past, and bartering skills as well as the ability to identify what the other guys stuff is worth will be key to fair trade. - Jeff in Michigan

JWR Replies: Thanks for that info. Here is some additional data from one of my early FAQs that folks should keep on hand both in electronic form, and in hard copy. Pack those pages with your touchstone, scale, Fisch calipers,and acid test kit:

Silver dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 765 ounces of silver
Thus, if the "spot" price is $5.20/oz., a $1,000 bag would be worth $3,978, wholesale. (Or think of it as 3.97 times the face value of any single coin.) Small quantity purchases (less than $10 face value) get the buyer the worst rate (currently roughly 5.5 times face value.) Large purchases (multiple $1,000 bags) allow the best rate--roughly only 4 or 5% over the melt value

90% .50/.25/.10 bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 715 ounces of silver

40% half dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 296 ounces of silver

Conversion Formulas:
Grams to pennyweights, multiply grams by .643
Pennyweights to grams, multiply pennyweights by 1.555
Grams to troy ounces, multiply grams by 0.32
Troy ounces to grams, multiply troy ounces by 31.103
Pennyweights to troy ounces, divide pennyweights by 20
Troy ounces to pennyweights, multiply troy ounces by 20
Grains to grams, multiply grains by .0648
Grams to grains, multiply grams by 15.432
Pennyweights to grains, multiply pennyweights by 24
Avoirdupois ounces to troy ounces, multiply avoirdupois ounces by .912
Troy ounces to avoirdupois ounces, multiply troy ounces by 1.097
Avoirdupois ounces to grams, multiply avoirdupois ounces by 28.35
Grams to Avoirdupois ounces, multiply grams by .035

Gold Purity Standards (by Karat):
24 K = 99.9% fine Pure Gold. Too weak for jewelry, but ideal for industrial use
23.5K = 97.92% fine
23 K = 95.83% fine
22.5K = 93.75% fine
22 K = 92.67% fine Some coin gold, though not that of the U.S., is 22K
21.6K = 90.00% fine The approximate purity of U.S. gold coins
21.5K = 89.58% fine
21 K = 87.50% fine
20.5K = 85.42% fine
20 K = 83.33% fine
19.5K = 81.25% fine
19 K = 79.17% fine
18.5K = 77.08% fine
18 K = 75.00% fine The highest grade of gold normally used in jewelry.
17.5K = 72.92% fine
17 K = 70.83% fine
16.5K = 68.75% fine
16 K = 66.67% fine 1/3 copper. This grade is commonly used in dental work.
15.5K = 64.58% fine
15 K = 62.50% fine
14.5K = 60.42% fine
14 K = 58.33% fine
13.5K = 56.25% fine
13 K = 54.17% fine
12.5K = 52.08% fine
12 K = 50.00% fine Half gold, half copper. Used extensively in low priced jewelry. (Will show brownish tinge in reaction to Nitric Acid.)
11.5K = 47.92% fine The percentage of copper now exceeds that of gold.
11 K = 45.83% fine
10.5K = 43.75% fine
10 K = 41.67% fine Used in some low-grade jewelry such as class rings. Shows a marked reaction to Nitric Acid.
9.5 K = 39.58% fine
9 K = 37.50% fine Not much more than one-third gold.

Silver Purity Standards:
.9999 fine "Pure Silver"
.9584 fine "Britannia Silver" Often used in manufacturing.
.9250 fine "Sterling Silver" Normally stamped "Sterling" or ".925"
.9000 fine "Coin Silver" Some antique items are marked "Dollar" or " D" or ".900" or "Coin Silver" to indicate they were made from melted coins.
" German Silver" is +/- 97% base metal and only +/- 3% silver, and thus has no bullion value.

Exactly what silver or gold coins will bring you in barter will depend on the times. Immediately after a collapse, coins may not be worth much. As law and order is gradually restored, they will probably be worth more and more. The bottom line is the old legal maxim: "The value of a thing is what that thing will bring."

Rob C. sent us a bit of good news: Vehicular open-carry expanded in Utah.

   o o o

HPD forwarded this item from Police State Britannia: Revealed: police databank on thousands of protesters

   o o o

Appleseed shoots are ramping up! There are a huge number of "shoots" scheduled all around the nation, with many on our around Patriot's Day weekend (the weekend of April 19th). For example, Southern Arizona will be hosting its first ever Appleseed Shoot and Rifle Clinic.on April 25th and 26th, in Sierra Vista. The cost is $70 (pre-registered) for a two day rifle clinic and free for all children under 21, women, and active duty military.

   o o o

Two recent news stories: Multiple deaths reported in Alabama shooting spree and After attacks, Europe hurries to tighten gun laws. Hmmm... why is it that when there is a "lone gunman on anti-depressants, run amok", the shooter so often ends up conveniently dead? Cui bono? Any bets on whether or not these events will be used will be used as a pretext to renew the 1994-to-2004 Federal "Assault" weapons and magazine ban?

"It is good to keep in mind that the screw that tightens the mechanism is also the one that loosens it." - From a Japanese air rifle manual, circa 1971

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The new Ulysses Press edition of my novel "Patriots" .will be released in early April. Amazon will be selling it for just $10.14. I'd like to make a special request of SurvivalBlog readers: If you plan to buy any copies, please wait until our planned "Patriots Book Bomb" day - April 8th. By forestalling orders and having hundreds of them all placed on the same day, we hope to drive the novels's sales rank into the Top Ten. Please mark your calendar for April 8th. Many thanks!

I recently had a consulting client that hired me to do a search on his behalf for a rural retreat property in southwestern Oregon. In the early stages of the search, he asked about the pros and cons of buying undeveloped "off grid" properties that do not have utility power poles nearby. This summarizes my reply:

From the standpoint of setting up a rural, self-sufficient retreat, an off-grid parcel is actually advantageous, for two reasons:

1.) They are generally more remote and away from natural "lines of drift" and hence are far less likely to be in the path of the Golden Horde.

2.) Off-grid properties sell at up to a 30% discount versus comparable properties that have grid power. On a large acreage, this savings is often enough to pay for installing a photovoltaic power system

The downsides:

1.) Off-grid properties tend to be at higher elevation, since it is just the "way out in the hills" properties that don't have power poles nearby. Most of the low river valleys have long hence had grid power. There are a few exception that I've encountered

2.) The property is unlikely to have line of sight to neighboring residences. That can raise the risk of burglary if your retreat house is left unoccupied for extended periods of time.

3.) There is remote (30+ minute drive to the nearest town), and then there is very remote--a one hour+ drive to the nearest town, part of which might be on either US Forest Service road or a road that you have to maintain yourself. This could isolate you from commerce and social interaction especially in an era of fuel scarcity.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
It might prove worthwhile to put a copy of your latest property tax bill receipt as (proof of ownership of your retreat property) in your "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) ready kit. For example the county in which your retreat property is located might form road blocks to keep out the Golden Horde. If you are late getting out of town how is someone manning a rural roadblock, such as a deputy, to know that you are a tax paying member of the community and not just part of the Golden Horde? For that matter how are they to know that your cousin really does have permission to retreat with you? You can bet when TSHTF that few will take your word for it. Would you?

Many counties provide the tax information on-line, so even if you don’t have last year’s you can get it. All of the tax rural tax receipts I have only list the tax-key not an address which is why I favor them as a means to proving ownership. if you have the address on yours you may want to white it out and then recopy it for OPSEC. Between the tax receipt and you driver's license you should be able to distinguish yourself from a member of the Golden Horde.

Even if all the members of your retreat party have the same last name you will want to have separate “Retreat Permission Affidavits” especially if you are not all getting out of Dodge together. The basic idea is to have a notarized document which states that the author is the owner of the property (tax receipt attached), and that such and such person has permission from the owner of the property to reside at the property, you might want to include a description of the person who has permission (think: no computerized identification checks), and would the reader of the "Retreat Permission Affidavit" kindly assist the bearer in continuing on their way. At a minimum one set of permissions would be necessary for every vehicle in your convoy, whether or not the property owner is in your convoy.

There is nothing that says you have to have a legal-looking notarized document, but there would be no “rule of law” at TEOTWAWKI, so if you are going to have a prop, it should be the most convincing prop you can get. I know that some states allow excessive charges for notary services, in Wisconsin, for example, the limit per notorial act is fifty cents. At that rate there is no reason not to have a professional attest that the author of the Retreat Permission Affidavit is indeed the owner of the retreat. If the fee is an issue in your area, you might consider asking an attorney to notarize the documents when you are having one do other work for you such as drafting a will. If you are an existing, active client many attorneys will not charge for notary services.

JWR Replies: One step better is to have your G.O.O.D. vehicle registered (or dual-registered) in the county where you have your retreat. Especially in states that have county tag number prefixes or the county names imprinted on their license plates, it will make it very simple for folks manning checkpoints to sort the "sheep from the goats", and send you safely on your way.

Jim –
Read the article [by OddShot] about the BOV and wanted to add a ranching note. Some of us ranchers have pickups with a trailer hitch mounted in the front as well as the back. This makes pulling trailers out of awkward situations easier without having to turn the truck around. Added to a substantial front bumper, it makes front ramming an interesting proposition, as that hitch – with a draw-bar but no ball – would do some serious damage. Kind of like the bronze prow on a Greek warship. Just an idea. - Geoff in ND

JWR Replies: While I'm not an advocate of playing "Road Warrior"--(I'm more of a "hunker down" in place kinda guy)--in my dealings with consulting clients I've witnessed quite a few "specialized" custom-fabricated bumper accessories. Most of these were variations of crash bars. (My old friend "Jeff Trasel", for example, many years ago owned a camouflage-painted Volkswagen festooned with various Marine Corps bumper stickers and equipped with a very stout crash bar.) I've also seen all manner of nefarious devices designed to fit into standard 2-inch square receiver hitch channels. The biggest advantage of these is that they can be quick-detachable, allowing them to be kept out of sight in normal (pre-Schumeresque) times. One of these was a clever pair of "radiator killer" spikes. The 1-1/2" diameter spikes on this were both nearly three feet long. and tapered for just their last eight inches. The bottom one projected directly out from the receiver, at just below "trailer ball" height. The other half of the forked pair was parallel to the first, but about 15 inches higher. If ramming another vehicle, at least one of these two spikes would likely puncture the radiators of 90% of the cars and trucks that anyone might encounter on the highways and byways. When installed in a rear hitch mount, the barbs are a primarily defensive weapon. But when installed in a pickup's front receiver, they can act as a fearsome offensive anti-radiator weapon.

Hello Jim,
I would like to add one thing to the article by Oddshot. Fix-A-Flat type [aerosol tire sealant] products can freeze and not flow in cold weather, rendering it useless. I learned this the hard way during a recent cold snap here in Ohio. Although I disagree with his comments on diesels it was an informative article. Thanks, - Jeff in Ohio.

Mr. Rawles,
I rarely contribute an opinion here because my expertise pales in comparison to many who are listed in here. The gentleman who recommended the Ford F150 as a base unit for a survival vehicle is spot on. I would go one stop further and recommend a early to mid eighties F150 or F250 with a 300 straight six engine coupled with Fords famous "three speed with granny low" standard transmission. Used to sell trucks to horse and other farmers in the early nineties at a very large new Ford lot. The young guys (me included) bought the big diesels for their stock trailers and the old guys would buy the straight six. Guess who never needed to come into the shop. You got it, the old guys. That straight six will pull almost as good as the diesel including up and down hills with the only sacrifice being a little lower top speed. It is a very simple engine to work on (if you ever have to-very reliable). I still own and use my 1991 Ford diesel but in retrospect would have spent much less and gotten the 300 straight six if I had it to do over again.

From a construction stand point the Fords of that era were built and designed much better than it's competition. The beds were bolted on instead of welded etc. Their only weakness is a tendency to rust out over the wheel wells.

I am a MOPAR guy who comes from a MOPAR family. But when you take emotion, and prejudice out of the equation, the light Ford pickup of the eighties was indeed the best of its contemporaries for durability and simplicity for your dollar. - GSJ

Sir James,
Tires rot. There is a five year expected useful safe design life. The valving on shock absorbers wear, and their chrome shafts also rust. Replace tires when truck is purchased and once every five years even if tread depth measures (US penny Lincoln's head = 1/16" tread depth remains).

I have been driving 1 ton pickups ever since I was 16 years old (in 1964). Over the [intervening 45] years, I have used bias tube type, tubeless, with and without tubes, and radials. While aluminum lug holes can wear and rims can break, their beads don't rust air leaks as steel rims eventually do [in regions where road salt is used].

My '72 3/4 ton , owned since new, "3 door" Suburban project now has 17"x7" as backspacing on more common 16"s mismatched with OEM 16.5" steel rims. They rusted leaks after 25+ years. The 17" wheels allow for larger front disk brake upgrades. I use 265-70Rx17" LR E = 235-85Rx16" LR E tire diameter nominal 32" tall, the latter being the most common skinny tire on 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks.

I advise replacing all moving/flexing rubber, such as belts, every three years and rubber hoses every five years. Yes, I have had family members get 20 plus years, but that takes pure Grace to miss anything in between inconvenient to catastrophic failure.

Replace the mindsets of "can you get by until the lease has run out" or "trade as soon as you're no longer upside down". These paid-for bug-out buggies are your best means of not carrying your kit on your back for a decade or more, if you can keep it fed.

My plan is to have a 110 mph-capable, 400 horsepower and 400 pound ft. + 5 speed with overdrive and a gear splitting overdrive (unit gearing) truck capable of towing and stopping five ton trailer loads, firewood, and the like

This truck shall never again be a painted lady or look as fast as it truly is. - Tom K.

Mr. Editor;
See the Expeditions West web site and the vehicles they are testing and past vehicles they recommend for the purpose of traversing cross country in all terrain. These folks could be consider 'experts' on the subject. Choosing a vehicle should be like choosing a firearm, where personal experience with the equipment and the users physical attributes can be major considerations in the choice. As apart of an intended hobby, I had hoped to build a vehicle for the purpose and get involved with the sport. As an example I'll discuss my primary vehicle for the purpose. Because of my extensive experience and knowledge of the vehicle, not so much cost considerations, I chose a 1985 Toyota 4WD fuel injected pickup and spent a fair amount to thoroughly restore it. It is #4 on Expedition West's most recommended list along with more modern vehicles. They state the major reasons for the choice. Fortunately there are other and more modern vehicles on their list, so there's something there for everyone.

A quick and incomplete mention of the Pro's and Con's of some my vehicle's attributes. The drive train is essentially a scaled down and lighter version of the Toyota FJ40, and like the FJ40, exceptionally tough. Chevy trucks have been known to bend frames on trails these Toyota's climb like goats. Albeit a light truck, it can can handle a useful and relatively heavy payload for it's size, passenger capacity and fuel economy. It offers one of the highest payload to fuel economy ratio found in any gasoline powered 4WD truck.

The 1985 [model year] is the only Toyota pickup with the durable straight front axle and more powerful and modern, yet simple fuel injected motor. A separate computer is not needed to help with diagnostics. Any reasonable mechanic or intelligent young person can handle the job. A small trailer can be towed and navigate tight Forest Service roads, and a larger trailer with electric brakes can safely handle fair amount weight. The truck's towing capacity is a reasonable 3,500 pounds, exceptionally high for it's class. In light of a possible EMP attack, it's major weakness is the computer controlled fuel injection and ignition. The upside to a modern EFI motor is the availability of emission control devices which may need replacement and these parts can be had at lower cost than the latest models. Out here in boonies, we're lucky that Emission Certification is not required. With some modification, this 1985 model can use the injection system from a 1995 models. Fortunately I happen to have several spare and complete sets of replacement parts for the fuel and secondary ignition systems for 1985 to 1990 models. I also have plenty of spare parts for the rest of vehicle stored in boxes and extra and operational vehicles that can be used as parts cars. The vehicle is common in this sparsely populated neck of the woods and spare parts are plentiful, but not as plentiful as the old Chevys. The key to utilizing the parts of different years and related models vehicles is to have intimate knowledge of the subtle changes made from year to year. A mechanic with such knowledge could be invaluable. I'm not a mechanic by trade, but a passion for these trucks during my youth led me to research and discover the vast technical support and knowledge available on the internet from other enthusiasts of this once very popular truck. To be sure, my parts pile is considerable and includes spare gear sets, transmissions, suspension, and axles, to the now difficult to obtain distributors, cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds and so forth. A complete and spare, yet still running 4WD Toyota truck can be stripped of it's carburetor and accessories if needed or simply driven as is. This un-restored "spare" 4WD truck is still serviceable and equipped with a flat bed, a good wood getter that can squeeze and navigate though narrow openings and roads. Because of it's high mileage and other attributes, I do not consider it a primary vehicle. Another complete low mileage and running 2wd of the same year could donate it it's EFI. It is essentially a copy of my primary vehicle without the 4WD.

Spare and complete sets of stock and oversized tires on rims allow these vehicles to operate on any terrain or road conditions from sand dunes to deeper mud and snow. With only stock sized tires, which are adequate for most trails and roads, these trucks do surprisingly well. Letting the air out of the tires to no less than 15 psi greatly improves there performance in sand. Tall and narrow tires are recommended over tall and wide usually seen as the foot print is actually greater 'aired down'. The rolling resistance is less on the highway and it 'bites' into dirt and snow far better. It is a well balanced choice in off road tires. This is a topic of it's own and I'll leave it with a recommendation that 23575R16 tires are the best all around for many 4WD vehicles, including Toyota trucks. No suspension modification is required for most.

Regardless of your choice, a good 'yard car' or well used and still running spare vehicle, is wonderful source of parts. Rust buckets are cheap.
New and used carburetors for many full sized and light foreign and domestic trucks are becoming difficult to find.

Rebuild kits for carburetors are a good idea. Although the older Toyota's are my personal favorite, we also have fleet of Chevy's, model years from 1964 into the 1980s: a 1 ton, flatbed, dump bed, standard and 4WD Suburbans. Not only do these all run, but: "Hey, parts is parts!" We also have a "Toyolet", a Toyota FJ40 [that has been retrofitted] with a powerful V8 Chevy motor and heavy duty Turbo 400 transmission, with air lockers and other serious off road features. Even with all it's fancy stuff, my 1985 Toyota does well off road in comparison while getting 24 mpg on the highway. Although not a practical daily driver, it would fun in the sun and useful in a high speed Mad Max world, yet one would need plenty of stored fuel.

Well, it looks like I've ramble on anyway, so it time to quit. Hopefully some of areas covered provide helpful tips and considerations. With all the factors one may consider, a big clue on what to buy could found while driving around the neighborhood. Consider using the tool the natives have found to be the most useful. If old Chevy's are plentiful, get a Chevy. Then again perhaps it is Ford or Toyota as the popular choice. The local junkyard is likely loaded with parts. Even if an older Toyota is your 'thing', be sure to have a full sized carbureted Pickup on hand, preferable a 3/4 ton, and make sure one of those truck is 4WD, preferably the Toyota, especially if you intend to live in a heavily forested area. It may mean taking two trips to get the wood, yet it can go where the wood is and usually a pickup is driven mostly empty. As bug out vehicle or wood getter, no full sized can follow it down those very narrow jeep trails or traverse soft deep sand. A Toyota could get between 19 and 24 mpg loaded/unloaded, and a full-sized would get between 8 and 12 mpg whether or not, it is loaded. A full size 3/4 ton should be used and is needed to handle the very heavy work. As always, use the right tool for the job. A 2WD full sized pickup can often be found in better condition and at a cheaper price. A 3/4 ton 4WD Chevy Suburban can be a very inexpensive all around family and farm rig. A late model and nearly new high tech Chevy or Ford might be the worst choice, but always have a low tech truck on hand if one needs or already has such a vehicle. As a retired fleet manager, I suggest keeping it simple. - E.L

Upon reading the recommendations about a "survival vehicle" by OddShot, I see you posted about turning off airbags. I believe that the author was speaking about supplemental airbags for the rear suspension in pickup trucks, not the vehicle passenger protection-type airbags.

He had mostly sound advice, but I'm not sure an automatic is really a liability, a properly maintained automatic is trouble free and will last a long, long time. With an automatic you're pretty much guaranteed that someone can hop in your rig and drive it effectively. In contrast, with a manual transmission (especially truck transmissions), a person has to have manual transmission experience in order to use it. Things like this most likely would never come into play, but an automatic is a lot easier for an injured or inexperienced person to use. - A. Friendly


Jon sent this sobering news story: 45 percent of world's wealth destroyed: Blackstone CEO. "Between 40 and 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half," Schwarzman told an audience at the Japan Society. 'This is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime'"

J.W.P. mentioned this video interview of Dimitri Orlov. J.W.P.'s comment: "I continue to be amazed at how people actually believe that the current U.S. government will “find a way to get us out of this mess.” It can’t, and it won’t. We’ve seen how recent and current this administrations have attempted to spend their way out of this crisis. It’s like trying to dig oneself out of a pit. The pit just keeps getting deeper and wider. It just doesn’t work!" JWR Adds: Don't miss Orlov's advice on getting the tools together to start a small home-based business.

Kevin A. sent this: Get Long Torches & Pitchforks: Bailouts "Absolutely Asinine," Ritholtz Says

Reader D.B. says: "The MOAB is going global!", in response to this piece in Forbes: A Developing World Bailout? Here are a few snippets:

"Clearly, fiscal resources do have to be injected in rich countries that are at the epicenter of the crisis," said World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin in a message to summit attendees.

"Channeling infrastructure investment to the developing world where it can release bottlenecks to growth and quickly restore demand can have an even bigger bang for the buck and should be a key element to recovery."
"In response, the World Bank proposes a Vulnerability Fund. They're asking developed countries to contribute .7% of their economic stimulus spending to the fund. (So for the United States' $787 billion bailout that'd be $5.5 billion.) The fund would focus on infrastructure projects, safety net programs to keep children in schools with adequate nutrition and health care, and financing for small businesses."

From FloridaGuy: Pontiac, Michigan lays off all 622 employees

Items from The Economatrix:

Outstanding Derivatives: 1.28 Quadrillion--95% On Margin " ...the actual totals are even bigger because this number does not include derivatives related to the commodity markets (which the BIS says it can’t track because values aren’t available)."

Four States See Double Digit Joblessness

Into The Financial Abyss

Do I Have Enough Gold?

Number One Reason to Own Gold

Gold is Ready to Go Very High Very Fast

Western Military Forces Turning Inward in Anticipation of Domestic Unrest
" ...the CIA has added an economic situation report to its threat assessment for the White House."

Wall Street Struggles to Extend Big Rally

Rasmussen Reports: 53% Think We are Headed for a 1930s Depression

Companies Cut Pricey Older Workers

Extreme Cheapskates: Tightwads Revel in Frugality

Union Workers OK Cuts to Help Ford Survive

The Economy Prompting a New Modesty

Hard Times Net More Citations for Illegal Fishing

Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming top 'happiness' poll (a hat tip to Michael H. for the link.)

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The folks that operate CampingSurvival,com also host an amazing collection of first-hand survival narratives. I found that the one from Hurricane Rita provided a useful glimpse into human nature, en extremis.

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OSOM mentioned a very good podcast on home defense at

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Thanks to GG for sending this: Seed companies have a bumper crop of customers

"No one was psychologically prepared for hard times when they hit, because, according to the tenets of positive thinking, even to think of trouble is to bring it on. Americans did not start out as deluded optimists. The original ethos, at least of white Protestant settlers and their descendants, was a grim Calvinism that offered wealth only through hard work and savings, and even then made no promises at all. You might work hard and still fail; you certainly wouldn’t get anywhere by adjusting your attitude or dreamily 'visualizing' success." - Barbara Ehrenreich

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I've just completely revamped The SurvivalBlog Bookshelf page. By shopping using the provided links, with any title that is sold by you'll help support SurvivalBlog, with sales commissions. OBTW, please do not order the new edition of my novel "Patriots" until April 8th--the planned "Book Bomb" day. This event is designed to boost the book's Amazon sales rank. Thanks!

I recently had the opportunity to read JWR's novel "Patriots" . As a former professional automobile mechanic with 25+ years of experience and having a similar history building, restoring and racing British sports cars (MGBs), I became intrigued with a certain aspect of his book: the preparation of a “survival vehicle." This is intended to be a vehicle rugged enough, durable enough, and simple enough to be an important part of anyone’s survival program.

My first consideration was to define this vehicle. Next, I set out to list a number of modifications to this vehicle that would increase it’s simplicity, strength, and usefulness of this vehicle as a survival tool. The following that I listed a number of tools and spares important to the operation of this vehicle.

Survival Vehicle Selection and Modification
For reasons of strength, durability and utility the vehicle needs to be a truck. For load carrying considerations I would recommend a Pickup Truck over a SUV type, such as a Blazer or Bronco.
I think the truck should be of American manufacture. Although some foreign makes might be suitable in terms of ruggedness and durability, the parts availability---both used and new--for American made trucks makes them the winner, hands-down. Also parts for “high-survivability” modifications are plentiful and cheap for American vehicles.

There is a reason that America’s largest selling vehicle for the last 50+ years has been the Ford F150 pickup truck. They may be low on creature comforts and fuel economy, but they more then make up for those sacrifices with ruggedness, dependability, ease of repair, and parts availability. Chevy and Dodge make great trucks, but there are millions more Ford Pick-up trucks out there. Parts are still available and junkyards and rural back yards are filled with them.

Older vehicles (1970 or 1980s vintage cars and trucks) with older technology are better in the survival situations than newer, lighter, hi-tech vehicles. Carburetors, distributors with breaker points, and generator charging systems may not be the most fuel efficient…but they are simple, rugged and reliable. They can be rebuilt and maintained very easily. Fuel Injection and High Energy Ignitions systems have very limited life spans, are difficult to diagnose and dead without spare parts.

One drawback is that NOS parts for really old vehicles (1960-1975 +/-) are getting somewhat harder to find, even finding used stuff is getting tough. You don’t need much…but if you can’t get it now…you won’t be able to get it later. If you can stick with an 1980s vintage +/- American pickup. As I said before, parts are still available and junkyards and rural back yards are filled with them.
Choose one with a 302 V8 (minimum), with a [traditional] carburetor! Backdate the engine by installing a distributor with ignition breaker points and condenser. No electronic ignition. The electronic ignition is a [reliability] weak link of all Ford V8s. Just look in the glove box or under the seat of most of them and you’ll find a spare “spark box” or Ignition module. Ford used points and condensers on their V8s through 1974. A little digging through Craig's List or most junk yards should yield a good useable distributor. New ones are available at most speed shops.

Make sure you get a truck with a manual transmission, and try to get four wheel drive. Avoid automatic transmissions. If for no other reason:cars with automatic transmissions can not be push-started. Also, with a manual transmission …if you can get two gears to mesh…you can keep rolling. Once an automatic transmission starts to slip, the party is over.

With a manual transmission you can adjust a clutch unless you’ve burned it up. In the middle of nowhere you can replace a burned clutch (and even reline the disc if you really had to), but the rebuild of an automatic transmission requires an expert with lots of spares and spotlessly clean working conditions. Also, with a manual transmission, were the clutch linkage give up, there are techniques you can learn to take off and shift without using the clutch pedal.

Because this vehicle should be multi-terrain and multi-use Do not put great big tires or lift kits on it. I would beef up the rear springs to carry more weight but would not raise the height of the rear. Don’t use air shocks or air bags either. These are just something else that will break and “let you down”. [JWR Adds: As is taught at executive protection driving schools, airbags should be disabled if anticipating inimical situations where you might have to play "bumper cars".]

I’m thinking of lowering my Ford a couple of inches to make it easier and faster to get into and out of. Lowering the truck will also make it handle better on asphalt…and maybe even make it a bit more aerodynamic for some fuel savings. The extra road clearance is nice but how many times are you going to use that advantage? Not as often as you might need to get in and get going as fast as possible.
You’ll want the ruggedness of 6 ply truck tires. Choose ones that have a “mildly aggressive” tread pattern allowing a good mix of on-road and off-road use. Unless you are considering moving way out in the woods then avoid strictly off-road tires. They will not give you the wear and handling needed for use on asphalt [and they are quite noisy at highway speeds].

Up grade the charging system to a 65 Amp. alternator, minimum. You’ll want the amps to power other electrical devices. Install two batteries wired in parallel (for 12 VDC, many amp. output). One battery should be a “Deep Cycle” type. This battery can power 12 VDC lights, radios, tools etc. Also, if the alternator dies while on a long drive, this battery set up can power a V8 ignition system for a long time. The batteries should have their ground wires connected with “marine” type terminals. Simply disconnecting (unscrewing the wing nut on the Marine Terminal) the ground side of the batteries [or installing a battery disconnect switch from JC Whitney] can prevent them being discharged by shorts or [unexpected] draws. It can also somewhat reduce the risk of vehicle theft.

Consider removing the ignition/steering column lock switch. If you don’t…you could loose your keys…and “hot wire” the ignition/starter circuits and get the truck running….but imagine your chagrin when you realize that the steering is locked! A heavy duty DC toggle switch will take care of the ignition and a [momentary] pushbutton [DC switch] will handle the starter. Mount them in a hidden, out of the way place.
Remove the very complicated emission control carburetor and replace it with the simplest Holley 2 or 4 barrel that you can find.

I prefer gasoline engines. Diesels are okay, but I don’t think there will be a lot of diesel fuel around. You may not always be able to get diesel or even cooking oil. Consider converting your truck to a multiple fuel vehicle using both gasoline and propane. LPG is still very easy to get and easy to store at home. A conversion to propane is very doable …and not real expensive, especially on an engine equipped with a carburetor. There are number of sites on the web that discuss this.

A good number of pickup trucks have two fuel tanks…if yours doesn’t, consider installing another tank. There is a lot of room under most trucks. Build in onboard storage for 20 gallons minimum…or and extra 250 mile range.

Remove all emissions control equipment, at least the catalytic converter. [Of course, first consult your state laws before doing so.] Remove the metal cooling fan and install electric fan for engine cooling. If you take a hard front hit, then those metal bladed fans will destroy a radiator. You can do this with a junk yard fan unit…or find something in the JC Whitney catalog, or any auto parts store. As a side benefit, you may see some improvement in fuel economy, due to the reduction of parasitic drag. Wire this electric fan with sensor and a manual override switch on dash.

Consider installing an oversized radiator and coolant overflow tank. Trucks that came with air conditioning generally have the biggest radiator. The more coolant you have in the cooling system is the further you can go if the radiator gets a hole in it and you just can’t stop to fix it right away.

Install a Class 3 towing hitch. Its good for both towing and for ramming [-- with the ball removed from the hitch extension plate, to back up and pierce another vehicle's radiator]. Make sure you carry both popular sized hitch balls. Remove the chrome piece of garbage that passes for a front bumper and install a heavy duty store bought or home built. Again, the front bumper should be sufficient for towing or ramming. Install hooks for towing on both the front and rear bumpers.

A cap or bed cover should be in place over the truck’s bed to allow space for sleeping, shelter and dry, secure storage. This can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like but due to rearward visibility concerns, make sure that its not higher or wider than the roof of the cab. Due to weight and height considerations [adversely affecting center of gravity] I would avoid campers that install in the bed of a pickup.
You might consider finding a used tool box like the ones you see on the back of pickups used by plumbers and electricians…this would be the ones that replace the entire pickup bed and have 5 or 6 compartments on each side. The Reading brand tool bodies are well-made. These have tremendous utility, secure and dry storage and are all very strongly built. With a little ingenuity you could configure a knock down tent over the top of one of these giving you dry off-the –ground shelter. Again, the deep cycle battery can provide 12 VDC for lights and heat in this area.

Install commo [and communications scanning] gear as appropriate to your mission. At least be sure to have a good, strong basic AM & FM radio. [JWR Adds: At wrecking yards, you can sometimes find a Becker or Blaupunkt brand "Europa", "Mexico" or similar model AM/FM/Shortwave radio pulled from a European car such as a Mercedes Benz, for under $50. These are not only very reliable radios, but will also give you the opportunity to get WWV time signals and some international broadcasts.]

Install quartz halogen headlights in the front. I wouldn’t bother with driving lights but I would install fog lights…mounted in a way as to light to the immediate front and to the sides for cornering. In the rear, I would mount driving lamps or fog lamps as back up lights, work lamps or rearward spot lights. Wire all auxiliary lighting with switches on dash.

Remove all electrical systems not necessary to mission. No power windows or door locks. Remove the air conditioning system. Electric windows, door locks, fancy [add-on] heating systems and other fancy electric doo-dads are to be avoided at all costs. As I said before, automatic transmissions should be considered a liability.

Put in Bucket seats, especially in a pickup. They are easier/faster to get into and out of…and will create more storage space in the cab. Gun racks? If desired, make them solidly mounted and as far out of sight as possible.

Onboard tools will be important to keep your survival vehicle operational. All should be secure and hard-mounted.

Carry an appropriate workshop manual with wiring diagrams. Study it carefully and know how to reference its various sections.

Complete Automotive hand tool kit.
Heavy duty jack, jack stands and wheel chocks.
An onboard portable compressor, even a small 12 VDC model has a lot of usefulness. If you can afford a larger one, then you can run pneumatic tools with it.
Portable generator. As much and as good as you can afford. Its just plain worth it.
Tow Chain, shackles and tow hooks, various rope and line.
1-1⁄2 ton power winch or chain hoist or block and fall. I would consider something that is not hard mounted so you can use it from the front or rear of the vehicle…or not even need the vehicle at all.
Propane torches and solder/rosin for soldering wires and radiator repair. Learn how to solder!
Electric wiring, electrical crimp connectors, electrical tape, spare switches, heat shrink tubing, nylon wire (cable) ties.
Onboard Axe, shovel, pry bar.
12 VDC mechanic's drop lamp.
Additional fuel, lubricants, brake fluid, silicon sealant, adhesives (especially, JB-Weld and Goop), duct tape, grease gun, thread tape, emery paper (2) spare tires, potable water, fan belts, Radiator hoses, heater hoses, hose clamps and tune up parts

One properly inflated spare in good condition is good, but having two spares is even better.

Keep tire repair equipment! Six cans of Fix-a-Flat, a radial tire plug kit and about 50 plugs. Find or make tools for breaking down and mounting tires.
Fuel transfer pump for getting fuel [from one vehicle to another or from] out of in-ground tanks. A hand-operated barrel pump with extensions for both the suction side and the discharge side.
Spot light (hand held)
A volt/ohm meter and mechanics test light.

Very Important: Drive your survival vehicle regularly. Use it. Go get plywood and shrubs and groceries in it. Work it. Houses and vehicles need people using them. When either is not used they deteriorate very quickly. Hard use will keep you thinking about repairs or modifications you might want to make. By date and mileage keep good repair and maintenance records.
A rugged dependable vehicle should be part of your survival gear. As long as you can get fuel there is freedom in mobility. The above is not a definitive list or the “end all to be all” one size fits all solution.

Consider this article a starting point and add your own ideas. - The OddShot

Hello Jim,
Been learning a lot from Survival Blog, thanks for the great work. I'm just wondering if sterling silver and 14 karat [gold] jewelry (plain [rings or chains], or gemstones would make good bartering items? Have been thinking of selling them and using the money for preparedness, etc but wondered about this.

Thanks very much for all the useful information. - Mrs. H.

JWR Replies: Although at first blush keeping jewelry on hand might seem practical, in actuality its drawbacks outweigh its benefits. Perhaps metals, but gemstones are a definite no. Gemstones--either diamonds or colored stones--will not be trusted by 99% of your potential bartering partners. Gold or silver chains might be trusted by some trading partners, but only if they were clearly marked for their purity, and if you were to carry a compact pennyweight scale, to establish the weight of the chain (or a chiseled-off length of chain).

Parenthetically, I should mention that as first popularized by the "Flying Tigers" (AVG) in China, early in World War II, some military aviators, Special Forces soldiers, and mercenaries have habitually worn heavy gold bracelets. They have worn these with the intention of being able to trade links from these chains for assistance from villagers, if they should become stranded in Third World countries. This is a sort of a "Get Me Home" insurance policy. These chains are often flaunted at VFW halls and have been touted by a few armchair survival writers, but I have my doubts about them working well in post-TEOTWAWKI First World countries. Ironically, your average First World urbanite or suburbanite is actually far more ignorant about precious metals and testing their purity than the average "ignorant" Third World peasant. (Many peasants know how to use a touchstone and even and more sophisticated merchants would know how to do an acid test, while the average American would be clueless about any of that!)

In my estimation the "precious metals chains" approach to barter will have very limited utility in most anticipated post-collapse situations, The biggest problem will be convincing your bartering partner that the gold or silver that you are offer is genuine, confirming its purity to the nearest half-karat value, and establishing its weight and hence its value. It is far far easier to have a pocketful of widely recognizable pre-1965 mint date circulated "junk" 90% silver US dimes, quarters and half dollars. And of course there is always "Ballistic Wampum." Someday soon, common caliber ammunition may become the coin of the realm.

My advice to anyone that has set aside any "extra" (non-heirloom) jewelry, earmarked for barter: Sell it, and use the funds generated to buy pre-1965 90% silver US dimes, quarters and half dollars,.

Jasper found this item from the McClatchy News Service for us: Regulatory reports show 5 biggest banks face huge losses. Here is a key quote: Citibank, Bank of America, HSBC Bank USA, Wells Fargo Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase reported that their "current" net loss risks from derivatives — insurance-like bets tied to a loan or other underlying asset — surged to $587 billion as of Dec. 31. Buried in end-of-the-year regulatory reports that McClatchy has reviewed, the figures reflect a jump of 49 percent in just 90 days. Hmmmm... "Derivatives." Where have I heard that word before?

DD sent is this: Buffett: The economy has ‘fallen off a cliff’, Investor tells CNBC unemployment level could climb a lot higher

Susan Z. forwarded this: Michael Kosares: Gold coin shortage likely to become chronic

Items from The Economatrix:

The $700 Trillion Elephant in the Room

Wholesale Inventories Fall Again in January

Bank of America Cancels Visa-Holders' Job Offers

Baby Boomers Going Bust

Chinese Looking for House Bargains in US

Celente: Expect Hunger Riots All Over

Meredith Whitney Says Credit Cards are the Next Credit Crunch

The Next Hit: Quick Defaults

Job Losses Could Drown Stimulus

Arlen Specter: Nation on Brink of Depression "[He] said the nation's economic situation is more dire than the public has been told, but did not elaborate."

Roubini: Recession Will Probably Last 36 Months JWR's Comment: I'll go out on a limb here, and characterize Roubini's prediction as wildly optimistic

Surviving The Great Depression

On the Lighter Side of Insanity: Cow Flatulence to be Taxed

I just noticed that Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand has jumped to #62 in the Amazon sales rankings. (Out of four million+ titles.) Not bad for a 52-year-old novel! Meanwhile, Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon has advanced to #316. Those statistics tell me a lot more than anything we are hearing from the cheering section at CNBC.

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Garret D. flagged this piece from Time: Another By-Product of the Recession: Ex-Convicts

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The folks from (one of our loyal advertisers) just launched a completely re-vamped web site. It is very easy to navigate. They have a very broad product line. Check it out!

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Shawn tagged this: Robber shot and killed with his own gun in Sanpete County

"A government by representatives, elected by the people at short periods, was our object; and our maxim at that day was, 'Where annual election ends, tyranny begins.'" - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Adams, February 26, 1800

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

James Wesley;
Cruising World magazine’s January 2009 Issue has a valuable article on food storage without refrigeration. It includes downloadable charts in PDF format. I would recommend that anyone not certain of the long-term power grid operation might want to take a look at these charts which list the specific food (everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to canned goods), the best way to store without refrigeration, the expected shelf life of the food, and informative notes. The article, by Beth A. Leonard, is titled: "Cruising without the Fridge: Stowage charts for provisions to help you have fresh food for your passages". It was originally from "Hands-On Sailor" Dec 15, 2008. Regards, - CJA

Hi there
Great site you have - very informative. As a South African, now resident in the USA - I just want to point folks' attention to a very simple method of meat preservation, which I've done regularly while here in the US. All it requires is: vinegar, salt, pepper, and coriander (for the bare basic version). This creates a South African delicacy called biltong - which has been used since the 1600s by farmers, as a way of preserving and storing meat.

Here's a link to a series of entries, along with pictures, on Chowhound
, showing the very simple process of making biltong. Cheers, -

We finally caught up on magazine sales in late February, filling our last outstanding back orders, and I actually have a limited number of C Products AR-15 magazines in stock and some Magpul PMags (which I really like). The manufacturers tend to send out a half of an order and then a few weeks later, the balance of it. They are clearly allocating inventory across their customer base and I would estimate that they are running two to three months behind. The delivery situation is getting worse, and my guess is that new orders placed today would likely arrive in June or July.

Almost anything related to AR-15s/M4s is backordered. Spring sets, repair kits, accessories, bolts and bolt carriers, etc. Even magazine repair kits have dried up. I probably have close to $4,000 worth of merchandise on back order from Brownell's for our web-based store. Prices are rising as well. Wholesale cost on Glock magazines have jumped to what used to be our retail sales price. We've seen a 60% jump in the
wholesale price since the election.

The ability of these producers to ramp up production is limited. Many are running extra shifts or hours on existing machines, but none of them want to add new equipment because the capital expense will take so long to recoup. If the law changes and their products are suddenly banned, their income will drop off a cliff and the new debt burden could just force them into bankruptcy that much sooner. So the pipeline is constrained due to the uncertain future. This is another lesson in why it is better to prepare sooner than later.

My advice for anyone who wants to buy ammunition by the case lot and black rifles is to try I do not sell there, but I have been doing some personal buying there. Sellers have items in stock, but prices are not low as the auction format tends to float prices up when demand is high. Still, you can buy ammo by the case, complete guns, complete lower [receiver]s and stripped lowers as well as magazines and accessories.

I wish you continued success, safety and security, - Dave of (Captain Dave's)

JWR Replies: That matches what I have been seeing. As recently as September, an AR-15 "Lower Parts Kit" (the hammer, trigger, sear, pistol grip, trigger guard and assorted pins, springs and detents needed to complete building a stripped AR-15 receiver) was selling for as little as $49. Today, they are very scarce, and selling on for as much as $125 each! There are so many folks frantically parting-up ARs that there is a genuine shortage of not just the receivers themselves, but also the little "fiddly bits" piece parts!

I attended a gun show in a Southern state this weekend and wanted to share my observations. I got there very early and was among the first ten in line. By the time we were allowed to enter, the line was out the door of the building and around the corner. I'd estimate around three hundred people in line. I left the show a mere hour later and the room probably had in excess of eight-hundred people and the line was still quite long.

Ammo, of course, went fast. I was able to acquire all the ammo I desired, in all my favorite calibers, with no problem, from my regular favorite vendor. His prices were the same as four weeks earlier, which both surprised and pleased me. Other ammo vendors were doing brisk business, as well, but some of their prices were dramatically higher. By Sunday afternoon, my vendor had extinguished their bulk ammo supply in .223.

My attendance was centered on finding a good deal on an AR-15 full upper, at a decent price (a relative term, of course). Most AR-15 full uppers were going for between $700-$1100, depending on manufacturer and features. The vendor from whom I'd planned on buying was, surprisingly, not there. The very last table I came to, however, had five AR-15 carbine A3 uppers, made by Model 1 Sales, the vendor from whom I'd hoped to buy. Mine came out to $611 with bolt carrier assembly and charging handle, which was easily the best deal at the show, since I'd seen the same basic configurations for $100-$500 more. Most astonishing was the deal I found on Sunday when a vendor was laying out a used DPMS AR-15A2 in excellent condition for a scant $799. She wouldn't hold it for me and by the time I returned with the necessary funding five minutes later, it had been sold. Most fully assembled ARs, used or otherwise, were going for $1,100-$2,500.

Magazines are definitely going up in price, dramatically. The [formerly inexpensive fairly plentiful US government] contract O'Kay Industries AR-15 mags are now $12-20 in used condition, and new ones are $15-25. P-MAGs at the show were $28-35 and obviously becoming scarce. Springfield XD9 factory mags were going for $28-40, way up from the $21 each that I had paid just two months ago.

One last note. I picked up an ARMS rear sight #40 for $110 and even managed to run across a brand new Vortex flash hider for $60 (I've been searching for one for several months now). Average prices there, I guess, maybe a little high.

I've also noticed more and more private sales by people buying and selling person to person, increasing one's odds of finding a good deal. Just the sort of activity that makes Charles Schumer's hoplophobic blood curdle. I spent $1,500 at this show and got probably half of what I could have bought a year ago for the same money. I suspect this time next year will find me saying the same thing again. inordinate prices.

May God bless your continued endeavors, - Shrike

This morning I read the recent SurvivalBlog letter asking about buckshot, bird shot, and slugs for shotguns. Since this was a question of home-defense and you had mentioned The Box O' Truth web site, I wanted to direct you to this article.

Apart from my feeling that a rifle is a better tool for home-defense, what I really wanted to point out was the collection of links from The Box O' Truth, especially their articles #20 and #42.

If you are going to use a shotgun, it's not enough to say "Okay, I've got such-and-such Buck in there, I'm good." Make sure that you know your weapon. Take it to the range and use your preferred load (and take the time to research various loads from various manufacturers to find the one that works best for you and your shotgun [and your home and/or retreat defense situation]). Make sure you know how that shotgun and load patterns at 3 yards, 5 yards, 7 yards, 10, 15, 25, or whatever the longest distance is in your home (if not sure, then measure!). Make sure you know how it will behave so you can know what shots you can safely take and what shots you cannot safely take [given the available backstops. I don't believe the original poster's Mossberg Mariner has a changeable choke, but if other readers do then they should bring their choke tubes to the range and try them out as well to see if a different choke will work better for their needs. Yes, this costs time and money, but if you're intent is to defend your life, then I'd like to think the time and money is well-invested.

#4 buck? 00 buck? Either way it's going to be a bad day for the recipient of the pellets, but do mind how that number of pellets ends up patterning, and be sure you can account for every pellet. The last thing I'd want is for most of the pellets to end up in the bad guy and some of the pellets to keep flying [through interior sheet rock house partitions] and hit an innocent. Again, it's not necessarily one pellet size or
the other, but knowing how that load will behave and how you have to work with it.

Finally, if you do choose to work with a shotgun, check out Box O' Truth #83 for some good tips on fighting with one. This article has some tips and links as well. The bottom line: Know your tools, get training, and practice practice practice. Thank you. - J.C.D.

More evidence that survivalism is going mainstream: Can you survive economic crisis?, Booming preparedness industry says Americans are stockpiling. (A tip of the hat to J.W.P. in California, who was the first of several readers to send that link.)

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KAF sent the link to a captivating article at the Global Guerillas blog on the concept of Fictive Tribes. On an intellectual and philosophical level, Rawlesian survivalists are already a tribe. Sometimes it is something as subtle as a "thumbs up" sign when someone spots your SurvivalBlog hat or T-shirt at a gun show. But often it is something much more. Clearly, we share a transcendent and kindred bond.

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Our Editor at Large, Mike Williamson, sent this: "I can't help but notice.that the "Homeless" people pictured in this article are particularly well fed. Only in America."

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Jen dropped us a line: "On my homeschool list, discussion came up as to how much to plant in a garden to supply a family. Someone posted this chart, which I think is useful. It helps to think about growing things this way, and not as 'how many 6packs should I buy from the garden store'."

"We may be tossed upon an ocean where we can see no land nor, perhaps, the sun and stars. But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey. The chart is the Constitution." - Daniel Webster

Monday, March 9, 2009

Just six days left! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,110. This auction ends on March 15th. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $700, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

3.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Back during the first Gulf War we used excess shipping containers for underground storage and protection. Out first few attempts to make use of these containers met with disaster. Although they will support a huge amount of weight, in the range of 400,000 pounds directly on top, It must be place directly over the load-bearing corners. The sides and top are vulnerable to flexing, if they flex they can and will collapse. With all of this in mind let’s go through how to bury one the right way, so that it will be ready and usable when the time comes.

First let us start with container preparation. Most of these containers have spent years at sea covered with salt water. This means rust. Very simply the rust needs to be removed as best as possible. A drill with a wire brush does this well.

This is a time consuming job but it will add years of life to your container. Grind off all of the rust and then paint everything [with specially-formulated rust-resistant paint], and I mean everything. Don’t forget underneath. For safety, I have rolled these containers over on their sides to do this step, it would creep me out to jack it up and crawl underneath one. A little grinding and paint will help protect your investment. Once the container is ready be sure to let the paint dry for a couple of days before burial.

The hole needs to be 16 feet wide 55 feet long and 8 feet deep.
Think about this if you dig a hole it will eventually fill up with water.
So we either need to build a sump in the bottom or trench it out to day light. I prefer the latter, since it requires no electricity or manual labor to pump it dry.
Let’s presume we have trenched it to daylight and go from there.
Line the bottom of the hole with foundation plastic, heavy duty black plastic. At least two feet up the sides. Place French drain pipe with silt shield in bottom of hole and out to daylight. Stake it in place where it will not be directly under the edges or corners of the container. Drive a t-post every 8 feet around the edge of the hole through the plastics within 6 inches of the sides. Place 6 inches of gravel in bottom of hole.

Now comes the hard part, getting the container in the hole. .
You want the container centered to the back of the hole within 42 inches of the back wall. A big track hoe can move these containers but make sure with the owner when renting one that it can pick up at least 8,000 pounds if not you may need a small crane. I could go into many different ways to get it into the hole but the key is to get it onto the gravel with out it digging in, where it needs to be and level.

Next, we will discuss Gabions or HESCO baskets. This is basically a wire basket with a liner to hold rocks and sand that will bear the load for the sides of the container. This wire basket wall will be built completely around the containers to support the sides from both lateral pressure and water. To save time and explanation, see the Wikipedia pages on gabions and HESCO bastions.

Here is a shopping list for "do it yourself" basket materials. Please realize that this is that this is the Army way which means expensive. I will go over alternatives later.

24 - Hog panels. These are welded wire 34 inches tall by 16 feet long.
34 - Cattle panels these are welded wire 52 inches tall by 16 feet long
20 - 8 foot long T-posts which are used in the bottom of the hole
Hog ring pliers and a large sack of heavy gauge hog rings (these are to hold the baskets together).
2,240 square feet of chicken wire with 1/2" size mesh
56 - 3 ft. pieces of 3/8 rebar, with one inch bent down on each end.
28 - 3 ft. pieces of 3/8 rebar, with one end bent into hooks

The hog panels are the bottom middle and top support for the baskets the cattle panels. Place hog panels over t-post and let them to ground where panel is flat on the ground. Line them up end to end with one across the back of the hole.

Place the cattle panels in between the T-post and the wall of the hole. Use the hog rings to tie the bottom together at least one every 6 inches. Take the hooked rebar and drive into the ground every four foot between t post. Now place a cattle panel on the other side of the hog panel and tie them together along the bottom.

Do this all the way around the container. Here is where a little experience is helpful. Build the one in the back first. Put the bottom and the sides and cut a hog panel to the right length for the ends of the basket. Nest do the long side this will be 48 feet long. Now do the other side but we will do it a little different. Once you are four feet past the end of the container cut off the cattle panels and hog panels and build end for the basket. Then build another small basket that goes at a 90 degree angle to the middle of the hole forming an "L" for the doorway.

Now you have the baskets. Cover the outside cattle panel with landscape fabric to keep silt from filling between the rocks then line the entire inside of the basket with chicken wire--use the 1/2" inch mesh variety. Make sure the basket walls are straight up and down. Use the rebar with the bent ends to tie the sides together. Now fill the baskets with rocks any rocks will do as long as they are packed in and do not leave a bunch of gaps I like rocks about the size of a baseball, the key is that they have to be big enough to not go though the wire mesh. Now put the top on the basket which will be the bottom of the next row. And then build the next layer of baskets. Once the wall of baskets is built then use what ever you have to reach from one wall of baskets to the other. In Saudi we use these wood floor pieces that they made for our tents which were a sheet of 1/2 inch plywood on a 2x4 frame it took two of them to get across but once we put them in place and covered them with plastic we would pile a layer of sand bags on top of them at least three sand bags deep. Then cover the whole thing with another sheet of plastic and top it off with a layer of sand.

On the end where the door is I had you build an L shape this is a basic entrance for any bunker over this end you need to use heavy timbers to support the sand bag covering we used old cross ties from one basket to the other not sure if this is a good idea considering the creosote on the ties.

Now this would take a squad about two days to build but once completed right they will last for decades. Before rotating out of the country, we had a bull dozer drive across one, just to see what would happen. Other than crushing the wooden panels supporting the sand bags there was no damage to the container. Now, to do this the way a civilian could do it...

For the Gabion/HESCO baskets there are many alternatives, such as:

  • 55 gallon drums filled with sand and anchored together with metal strips.
  • Old tires stacked and filled with sand but keep these at least 8 inches away from the side of the container.
  • Sandbags

Sandbags are very labor intensive and again need to make sure there is a gap between them and the container they have a "slide" effect that is hard to overcome without experience. You can even just use packed sand in the basket if you line it completely with landscape material or fabric that will keep the sand in the basket.

Another point of experience: I have had people ask why not use bailing wire or concrete ties to hold the baskets together the simple answer is that rust will eventually destroy this light-gauge wire. You can use this but I would advise that paint the wire after it was twisted it together and don’t expect it to last as long as the hog rings.

Also remember that many things can happen when you are underground, so always keep equipment in the container that can be used to break your way out. Ax, saws, a pick ax, and a hydraulic jack.

To sum it all up you just have to remember three key things. Rust removal and prevention, keep it dry, and alleviate any lateral pressure.

While we prepare to break ground for this years garden I'm still preparing my financial stores long before my harvest comes in. There is still one question I can't find an answer for that satisfies me. Are U.S. Savings Bonds safe? We have allot of EEs that can be cashed in but if they are safe as Bonds why not leave them. But if every thing is headed down the tubes how likely is the U.S. Government to default on this paper just like it would on another paper currency? Southern-Survivor in North Alabama

JWR Replies: As I've written many times, you should get out of any dollar-denominated assets. Savings Bonds are safe, but very poor performers compared to the gains in precious metals since early 2001. (FWIW, I fairly accurately called the bottom of the silver market in February, 2001. My proclamation was premature by just a few months, after what had been a 20 year bear market.)

I recommend that you cash in any Savings Bonds that have matured, immediately. Do the same for any savings bonds that will not mature for another two or more years. But you might have a few that are nearing maturity. Hang on to just those and watch the news closely. Once inflation kicks in, be ready to sell all off your remaining bonds as soon as possible, and put those funds into practical tangibles, such as:common caliber guns, common caliber ammunition, full capacity magazines, high quality tools, productive farm land, and precious metals.

It is important to buy a good balance of practical tangibles. I've seen far too many of my consulting clients invest too heavily in one area--usually precious metals. There is an old saying: "You can't eat gold."

Hi Jim,
I just got the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course the other day and love it. I also just finished the audio CD [that came with the course binder] and that was a great addition to the book.

My husband has said 'you can just boil water' to make it available for drinking water, and I don't think this is so. [In the course binder] you only speak of having water filters of various kinds.
Can you tell me if water is retrieved from a pond how to treat it?

Also, can you go into detail as far as explaining treating water with Clorox [liquid bleach]?
I just have no idea, say if I put tap water in a water safe container, how long will that last?
Thanks so much in advance. - Kathleen W.

JWR Replies: Creek or pond water should be run through two thicknesses of tightly woven cotton bath towels, (using plastic buckets), as a "pre-filter". It can then either be treated with plain chlorine bleach, or run through a good quality ceramic filter such as a Big Berky.
See this SurvivalBlog article on spring and well water basics, and these two letters on water filtration and treatment, and this letter on using chlorine bleach to treat water from questionable sources. (
BTW, I found all of those with just a one minute search with the SurvivalBlog Search box.)

The general rule is: If in doubt filter it, and if you don't have a proper filter available, then use hypochlorite bleach to treat the water.

If you live in an area with chlorinated tap water (from a municipal water supply), you can store it "as is" for just a few weeks in a container that is kept in a cool dark place. Well or spring water that is not chlorinated should not be stored this way, since it might have a marginal bacteria count, starting from day one.

To extend its shelf life of stored bottled to several years, you can add recently purchased plain Clorox (hypochlorite) liquid bleach at the ratio of one quarter teaspoon for each two liters. Do not use bleach with any added scents,"whiteners", or other additives. Just use plain bleach! And again, I stress using freshly-purchased bleach, since it actually loses strength over time, even if kept tightly sealed.

Bill N. sent this very observant piece: Gold, Spam, and Ruger vs the S&P 500.Bill notes "This is an interesting article, it even has a graph at the end comparing the S&P 500, gold, Hormel (makers of Spam), and Ruger Firearms for the last year."

Insurance giant AIG (now 80% US government owned, thanks to a $125 billion bailout with taxpayer funds) is not out of the woods yet. Asset values are continuing to decline, creating more credit default swap (CDS) derivatives counterparty risk. $300 billion in assets have already been affected. For some details, see this Wall Street Journal article Top U.S., European Banks Got $50 Billion in AIG Aid

Robert B. mentioned this piece by Richard Daughty (aka The Mogambo Guru): Golden Butter on Inflation Toasted Dollars. Robert notes: "Recent comments in the media note that the current DJIA is at its lowest since 1997. But it's worse than that. Mogambo Guru quotes Bob Chapman: ... “since 1997, real inflation, as opposed to ridiculously understated official inflation, has raged at a minimum of 8% annually, and has soared as high as 14-16%. This means that you have lost a minimum of two thirds of your 1997 purchasing power”,.... It seems to me then, that the current DJIA is actually only one-third the level of 1997. In a word, "Yikes!"

DS spotted this: Gandhara is Latest [Hedge] Fund to Die. Since October of 1997, I've been predicting that there will be successive quarterly waves of hedge fund failures and redemption suspensions. I stand by that prediction. There are many more to come!

Items from The Economatrix:

Hedge Fund Hotel Yields Up Secrets

Corporate America Giants Crumbling

Worst is Yet to Come in Job Market

The Truth Behind the Headline Unemployment Numbers

The Bottom for Stocks is a Long Way Off

The Markets Go Cliff Diving Again

Financial and Economic Crisis Entering Panic Phase

Martin Weiss: Beginning Now--The Panic Phase of the Economic Collapse

When the Economy Bottoms Out, How Will We Know?

Tent City Has Returned to Haunt America

Recession Crime Wave Hits Britain, US Next

"Run On UK" Show Foreign Investors Pull $1 Trillion Out

IMF: 20% of UK GDP Spent on Bailouts

Argentina: This is What a Collapse Looks Like

G7 Outlook Worsens

FloridaGuy sent this data point: Church pastor killed during service

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Rex mentioned the pending "Food Modernization Act" which makes it a crime to refuse entry to government inspectors if you own "any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation." Rex's comment: I especially like the wording that allows them to conduct monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate.' I had first assumed this was some sort of nutty Nanny-State bill that would die a quick death, but it has 39 co-sponsors!"

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Referring to the "official " climate data, Katie in Wyoming wrote to mention: "I talked to my grandmother about our local growing season. We are tucked up right next to the mountains in Buffalo, Wyoming. When I mentioned the number 147 days, she smiled and said, "Plan on 92 and if we get 147 thank God for His grace."

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Amanda sent us this troubling newspaper article from Canada: Baxter: Product contained live bird flu virus. (This "product" is used to make human vaccines!)

"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and all that is necessary to close the circle of our felicities." - Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 Inaugural Address

Sunday, March 8, 2009

There have been several new listings added at our spin-off site, including this fascinating one in Panama. New listings from all over the world are welcomed. The ads still cost just $30 per month!

Hello Jim:
After doing Industrial Security in some of the roughest English Industrial Towns, we found that "moating" vulnerable doors and walls against heavy equipment traffic was a great help in preventing the equipment from prizing open doors, or more simply being run backwards through the doors and walls. The floors at the man doors and protected vehicle doors had a two foot deep by three-to-four foot wide ditch dug and a light weight (two inch in many cases) concrete topping poured over an infill of mostly styrofoam bead.

When we needed to bridge in with heavy gear we used overlaying steel [trenching] plates to spread the load, but if a forklift ventured on the spot-loading would break through and the lift would go down.

Our inspiration was a rural 19th century US Postal Service post office construction technique of having a small concrete island under the floor safe, surrounded by flooring & joists purposely sized too lightly for the safe to be dragged away - the safe would fall 10 feet into the cellar if rolled off of the concrete island. 73s, - Steve W


Mr. Rawles;
I enjoyed reading tonight about the prospect of "hunkering down in a commercial building". We have two warehouses and actually live in one of them! No one has any idea, either! You cannot tell from looking at them. They are located on a short dead end street, so there is no traffic to speak of. There is land between the two buildings that I will begin to garden this spring. I would love to be on 20 acres somewhere way out of town, but this is where we are now. It is convenient and close to everything that we do. We also have a location out of town on several acres to go to when the Schumer Hits the Fan. Sincerely, - Mrs. Downtown


Mr. Rawles,
Just wanted to point out that if you follow this gentleman's advice in regards to this line: "If outdoor growth is not a viable option, try indoor crop growth with lamps, skylights, or mirrors. As growing things indoors can be difficult at first, it may be good to practice this well in advance of the need to do it for your life."

That, I am fairly certain that if you have a moderately clandestine location with a large indoor growing operation you are at way more risk for a [police] SWAT raid than of TEOTWAWKI in the (very) near future. If the feds find a bunch of grow lights etc. (and especially if they are associated with stockpiles of food, weapons, and preparedness supplies) there is no way they wouldn't prosecute for a drug crime, confiscate all money and goods (they don't even need to prosecute to keep it -- you have to prove it wasn't drug money). Even if no illegal drugs are found the lights and equipment are considered "drug paraphernalia" for the purposes of prosecution. That could be tough to explain. - Bill B.

Mr. Rawles,

In addition to seeds for a garden, anyone can produce fresh healthy and extremely nutritious sprouts on a kitchen counter with nothing more than a couple of plastic ice-cream containers. They can provide a real respite from canned veggies while you're waiting for the crops to mature and year-round fresh greens. I sprout the common mung beans (think Chinese cooking) but I also do lentils, various peas and beans and (if I could get it) I would do alfalfa and clover. You can also make a respectable salad in your kitchen with a tray of mesclun seeds, grown to a few inches high. Peas, any variety, will produce a delicious green in a few days in a sprout tray. You can get a lot of information and supplies from Sprout People or you can just buy regular seeds and beans from the supermarket or seed supply store. I did 'em years before I even considered how they might supplement a 'survival kitchen' for the fun and goodness of it! - Lisa in Panama.

JWR Replies: Sprouting is indeed a great way to provide essential vitamins. Ounce for ounce, sprouting seeds are the most nutritious and space and weight efficient form of storage food! Sprouting seeds and sprouting kits (with trays) are available from a variety of Internet vendors, including some SurvivalBlog advertisers such as Ready Made Resources, Nitro-Pak, and Lehman's. Also, don't miss this letter on sprouting wheat grass, in the SurvivalBlog archives.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to an interactive unemployment map. OBTW, speaking of Mike, I just heard that his recent sci-fi novel "Better to Beg Forgiveness..." is now out in paperback! (Be forewarned that this is not a children's book!)

D.S. flagged this from US News & World Reports: How to Handle Your Job and Finances If There's a (Yikes!) Depression

Signs of the times, courtesy of FloridaGuy: Stark, Ohio's hottest job: Janitor - Over 700 applications for one slot. Holding a layoff-proof, low-paying civil servant job may become the source of envy, as the first decade of the Greatest Depression continues.

Ben in Nevada spotted this: Cash In A Mattress? No, Gold In The Closet, With prices setting new records, the worried wealthy are piling up ingots in home safes. Newsweek goes shopping for precious metal.

Items from The Economatrix:

Peter Schiff on the US Dollar Bubble

Wal-Mart Trading Surge Keeps US Retail Afloat

China Crisis as Economy Crumbles

Asian Shares Fall on Bank Concerns

Adam W. suggested this bit of preparedness humor from Germany: Urban Camouflage

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Dale B. found this: How safe is your safe deposit box? And speaking of bank boxes, Dale also found in the UK's Sun newspaper: £2.5bn safety deposit box raid

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Ben in Nevada spotted a good deal on Blackheart AR-15 magazines.

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Edward K. mentioned a piece over at the Alpha Rubicon site on how to make cloth maps for G.O.O.D. purposes.

"By this we have come to know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives in behalf of our brothers. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother having need, and shuts off his compassion towards him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." - 1 John 3:16-18

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

"Health care" in America - while having "evolved" - leaves much to be desired i.e. cost, effectiveness, government restrictions of natural medicines, deaths caused form "modern" medicine, control and pharmaceutical greed to name just a few. in the blaring light of reality of today's coming collapse even simple health care will be challenging to say the lease.
While I am not formally trained in herbal medicine, I do have some medical background and twenty plus years of growing and using herbs and more recently delving into wild herbs. TEOTWAWKI will change the availability of "home health care" from government regulated pharmaceutical based approached to real home health care where individuals - especially those in remote areas - will need to rely on what is at hand.

I hesitate to even approach this subject, as it is vast, involved, time consuming and can be very overwhelming. On the other hand, knowledge of hers is powerful and very useful in survival situations.
History show that American Indians were knowledgeable in plant medicines, including a spiritual link. That, backed up by the medicine woman or man with extensive training passed on from one generation to the next.

The colonists - especially housewives - were responsible for their family's health and well being. Many medicines were grown in the kitchen gardens. The medicines that couldn't be grown were purchased at apothecaries that carried items imported by ship. This entailed a dangerous and lengthy trip to the nearest outpost. When doctors made house calls he expected basic herbs to be on hand provided by the household.

When the SHTF many will be on their own. Medication supplies - any and all - will most likely be disrupted along with everything else. While I have a small supply of basic meds (over-the-counter pain/.fever medication, cold, and diarrhea etc) I've chosen to focus on what I can use from nature in my local area: wild herbs, plants, trees as well as growing my own. As mentioned above limited supply and what I have on hand will eventually expire or will run out. Also important besides growing my own medicine is the knowledge of what grows wild in my zone will allow me to wild harvest a variety of medicinal plants in the event of evacuating my home. I consider it my mental G.O.O.D. kit. Knowledge literally weighs nothing on my back but can mean everything in survival situations.

So, having said all that, What to do? Medicinal plant knowledge IS overwhelming! But don't let fear take up valuable energy. Start with the basics. There are a number of excellent resource books out there (a list will follow). Build a library of your own. Create your own resource book: three ring binder or notebook. If (as is the case with most of us) money is tight, go to the library and take out books on home remedies, wild herbs in your areas as well as medicinal plants (trees, shrubs, berries etc.) and take lots and lots of notes. Search the internet for free articles, videos, and any other information to be found on medicinal plants. There is a wealth of information out there. Talk to those knowledgeable in herbs - most local fairs have booths of homemade herbal products - talk with these people - have specific questions to ask as usually they are very busy with ten more people waiting to do the same thing. Do you know family,friends, relatives, neighbors who grow and/or use their own herbs? Visit nurseries that sell herbs and speak with staff there, this is what they do for a living.

Join together with friends who share this interest and take turns attending different workshops. Share the information. This works well in regards to books, CDs,and so on to keep the cost down. Take a botany class, join the Audubon or Sierra Clubs, subscribe to herbal magazines, check out your local extension office - there is a vast amount of resources for little or no cost, look for fliers ( I am notorious for picking up these at fairs, farmers markets, nurseries, health food stores, agricultural shows and on and on). Newspaper articles, magazines, television shows, and documentaries are also information sources. The point is there is information everywhere if you pay attention!

Start your own herb garden. I've grown/started many over the years due to multiple moves. Last year after unearthing an incredibly beautiful rock pile I transformed it into an herb center. It is relatively small but individual "pockets" allowed me to plant all kinds of different herbs! (Side note: many herbs are invasive so be mindful where and how these are planted - know growing information for each plant you want to grow). Some herbs can take years to become established and usable for medicine, so start now.

Nature walks. Begin now educating yourself on what grows in your area; learn the habitat and growing cycle. Throughout the year I'm constantly looking at plants that grow in my area - what it looks like in the spring all the way to maturity and harvesting. Even in the winter as some plants are still visible above the snow and I take note of its location so that I can return during the growing season. Understand how these plants grow and spread, so as not to annihilate its growth cycle when harvesting. Many wild plants are extinct or on the verge due to over harvesting. Take note of the location of the plants you find and its abundance. One of the biggest challenges is plant identification! Be absolutely certain you know the plant before harvesting!

All inclusive books with good pictures, drawings, uses, preparation etc. is hard to come by. That is not to say there aren't good ones out there you just may need more than one reference guide. Again talk with knowledgeable people. I personally learn better from being shown than reading. When I discover or am shown a new plant I do extensive research to make sure it is exactly what I think it is. The Google image search is great in this area because numerous pictures are available all in one place.

Once you are confident of what a plant looks like, where it grows, how it grows (wild/cultivated/both), its uses, administration (teas, tinctures, poultices etc), side effects, interactions with other herbs and/or pharmaceutical medications and any allergies associated with the plant move on to the next one. (You do not have memorize this information but have it available for reference either in your resource book or library.) For example, one of my favorite herbs is Echinacea (boost your immune system). I have used it for years but last year was the first time I've tried growing it. Another favorite is chamomile (helps with digestion and sleep) - easy to grow and use.

This past summer I studied my lawn! There are many "weeds" that grow naturally and have multiple uses. For example common plantain: rub the leaf on bug bites to relieve the itch, apply to burns and can be used a a diuretic just to name a few of its uses. If you are looking for a specific remedy, see if the plant(s) grow in your area and start looking! Last year my son got into poison ivy which resulted in quite a rash. A local man was selling an once of sweet fern for $12.00! It grows naturally in my area. Being a tightwad I researched what it looked like and its habitat and set out hunting for it. I finally located it, harvested some, prepared it and it worked wonderfully with no side effects.[JWR Adds: It goes without saying, but for liability reasons, I must remind readers that using your lawn as a source for medicinal herbs or salad greens is an option only if you use no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or weed killers.]

This can and is time intensive but well worth the effort. The best way to approach it that I have found is to incorporate it into my daily life. No matter where I was or what I was doing outside I constantly scoped0ed out the surrounding plants. At night I would search the internet and/or my books to identify the plants. The sweet fern for example, and wild blueberries, both of which grow in the wild locally. Knowing what sweet fern looks like and the type of area where it grows allowed me to locate it easily which happened to be in the same vicinity as the blueberries! Can you say multitasking? I also discovered this winter while reading a "weed" book that one of the "weeds" that all but consumed my garden, one that we tirelessly ripped up, is a wild edible plant! Another popular "wee" of our garden turned out to have medicinal properties.

I by no means have extensive leisure time to devote to medicinal plants. Last year we had a huge garden with over twenty-five different varieties growing which I canned, froze, ate and gave away, picked wild and cultivated blueberries, strawberries, apples, (making jellies, applesauce, and freezing) and what my garden didn't produce, I purchased form local farmers markets. My significant other built a sizable three room addition that was completed in about tow and half months. We picked, cleaned, froze and pickled fiddleheads. I mention this only to help others be aware of what can be accomplished when you set your mind to it. As survival focused individuals, we are all busy! Things are going to be busier as the economic crisis gathers speed and we tirelessly work to prepare. I did sit down and endlessly study I plug away at it whenever time allows - even during the winter months. It does not matter how much you know or don't know. Start where you are at, keep it simple, be consistent (even if it means consistently inconsistent!). If you learn only one plant a month that is twelve in a year's time and that is significant! BTW, if you have specific health issues tailor your research to plants that address them. Often insurance companies do not allow you to refill prescriptions before your supply is down to less than a one week supply. So get going, good luck, and God bless!

PS: If you have insurance, now is the time to take care of your ignored health issues, as it will be much more difficult and expensive after the SHTF.

Starter list of books: (These are just a few suggestions to start with. You can design your library to fit your needs)

A Field Guide To Medicinal Plants and Herbs - (for your region) from the Peterson Field Guide Series
Tom Brown's Field Guide - Wilderness Survival by Tom Brown
Back To Eden by Jethro Kloss
The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila
The Herb Book by John B. Lust
A field guide to weeds in your area. [Ask your USDA Agricultural Extension Office Agent. They often have free reprints and fact sheets on weeds available]

Herbs you can start with: (The information that follows the herbs is very brief and general. Be sure to do your own detailed research)
Aloe: Vera -- Easy to grow/maintain houseplant; a must for every household - burns
Cayenne: powder -- Gel cap or spice bottle; bleeding (internally and externally), shock
Comfrey -- plant/salve for wounds, cuts, scrapes
Goldenseal -- Supplement/salve, fighting infection
Echinacea purpea (Purple Cone Flower) -- Boosts immune system
Peppermint -- Stomach ailments
White Willow Bark -- Same active ingredient as aspirin

We live at our retreat full time in a very rural county in Virginia. Without going into detail, I've had conversations with the locals and my sense is that the road signs will disappear if things where to go south. The locals don't need them and don't really care to have folks around that would need them.

So if your plan is to go somewhere then you had better drive it before hand, in fact you should have several different ways. Make a notebook of your turns by intersection count and visible landmarks (that can not be moved). Or you may find yourself on the "white edge of the map" -- that is an old aviator's term. - RH in Virginia


I saw someone mentioned Delorme's Topo Map product in Thursday's blog, and I wanted to let you in on a great (and free-to-use) program called USA PhotoMaps. The program is donation-ware, unlimited except for one nag screen which is removed if you donate. It allows you to download Topo Maps and Aerial Photos for any location in the continental US -- all free from Microsoft's Terraserver. I use the program extensively for planning hikes and plotting trails. The program can be used with a GPS to track your location real-time, and it's got a lot of other bells and whistles. One nice feature is the ability to load in freely available Tiger Street overlay data so that roads on the Aerial Photos or topo maps can be quickly identified. The software won't automatically calculate routes for you like the Delorme program will, and it is written by one guy so support is limited, but you can't beat the price. I've found it to be a very valuable addition to my laptop. The program can be downloaded from the author's web site.

While I'm on the subject of software, I should mention one other niche program that's very useful for keeping a database of locations. The program is called the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (GSAK). It was designed for geocachers to keep track of coordinates for their geocaches, but it can be used with any coordinate-based location data. I use it to mark the locations of caves, gun clubs, hiking trails, and any other special places I might want to go. GSAK is designed to load and retrieve waypoints from any GPS than can be connected to a computer. All waypoints can be plotted on maps, viewed in Google Earth, or viewed in USA Photomaps. A little setup/tweaking is necessary to make full use of the program, but it's loaded with features including an extremely powerful macro language. With GSAK I can load my GPS full of locations I need to navigate to in just a minute or so. Anyone who needs a location based database with full GPS integration should check out GSAK. It's available from and is shareware with a lengthy demo period and $25 registration fee.

And for those who aren't familiar with the GPS navigation-based hobby known as geocaching, they can learn more about it at The skills learned through geocaching like navigating via GPS, reading topo maps and aerial photos may one day prove useful for much more than just fun and games. Thanks for your blog sir, I enjoy reading it. - Doug in Pennsylvania

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning those sites. Along the same lines as geocaching, I highly recommend the sport of orienteering--organized by the US Orienteering Federation. (There is a similar organizsation in the UK.) This is more intellectually challenging than most GPS-based sports, since you will use traditional map and compass for land navigation. You'll learn how to do calculate magnetic declination offsets, intersection, resection, and so forth, all under time pressure. And, like the more extreme forms of GPS sports, it is essentially a race, so you need to move with a purpose. This makes it great exercise, too.

Do you recall the warnings that I've made, starting in 2006, about derivatives counterparty risk? Well, CDS paper is just one aspect: Pressure to reveal major AIG counterparties grows.Stay tuned, as the economic depression unfolds, and we see hundreds of counterparties cease to exist. Who will get caught holding the bag?

I spotted this linked at Drudge: 12 percent are behind on mortgage or in foreclosure. "A stunning 48 percent of the nation's homeowners who have a subprime, adjustable-rate mortgage are behind on their payments or in foreclosure..."

From reader Mike K.: We Are Facing an 'Inflation Holocaust': Jim Rogers. "We had the worst excesses we had in credit markets in world history. We're going to have to take some pain,"

Luddite Jean sent us this Daily Mail article: Bank of England prints £75 Billion and slashes interest rates to 0.5%

From DCB: Stimulus cash may spur massive inflation & jump in commodities.

Items from The Economatrix:

Unemployment Rate Bolts to 8.1%, 651,000 Jobs Lost in February

Stocks Turn Lower After February Jobs Data

BofE Starts Printing Presses

Morgan Stanley Predicts Downturn Will be Worse than the 1930s Depression

GM Says it Will Go Bust in Days Without Bailout

US Stocks Down

Food Stamp Enrollment Jumps to 31.8 Million People

Paralyzed Markets Plunge to New Depths

Talks Underway to Sell Off The Hartford's Life Insurance and Annuities Operations

Luddite Jean, reporting from Nanny State Britannia, tells us that eBay.UK and eBay Ireland are banning most knife sales, starting March 10th. The only exception will be some kitchen cutlery. (But not any sharp, pointy knives, those might be dangerous!) The logic of this move escapes me. Ostensibly, this is being done " help further protect our members..." So henceforth, law-abiding Englishmen will have to rely on just ASBOs and harsh language to fend off the yobs.

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J. in Northern California sent us this link to articles on some huge prisoner releases caused by the state budget crisis: from a Sacramento television news station, and from a newspaper in San Francisco.

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Are you a doctor? Then this might be of interest: Towers Productions is currently looking for a doctor (a licensed M.D.) to host a new show that is in development. "Ideally, I am looking for a M.D. who enjoys traveling, has survival skills and a charismatic personality. The show will discuss basic health issues in different climates, so a well rounded knowledge of medicine and weather is great. No TV experience is necessary. The show is in development so nothing is set in stone" Contact: Becky Cattie, Casting Director Towers Productions. Phone: 312-993-1550 x 203. E-mail:

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Don W. mentioned this piece that might seem humorous to some SurvivalBlog readers: Urban "Homesteading" in Pasedena

"A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool:--an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." - Alan Ladd as Shane - Shane, 1953. (Screenplay by A.B. Guthie, Jr. and Jack Sher)

Friday, March 6, 2009

I was just quoted again in The New York Times, by Adam Cohen: Out of Work? Read a Recession Blog. Or, Better Yet, Write One.


The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,110. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) Another "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $700, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

3.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Don't forget to write your entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: Two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I recently got a Mossberg "Mariner" [12 gauge pump action] shotgun as my main home defense type gun. What size shot should I use for home defense? (The owner of my nearby gun shop said to use #8 bird shot, since buckshot or rifle[d] slugs 'will go though two houses." Is that true?) Thx, - Perry Noid in St. Paul, Minnesota

JWR Replies: I'm afraid that your local gun shop owner was spouting some oft-quoted urban folklore. For some genuine, Grade-A, tested truth on this subject, see this Box 'OTruth article.

For what it's worth, I am still a big believer in using #4 Buckshot for home defense. To my mind, it strikes the ideal balance between penetration and likelihood of a high number of vital organ pellet hits. The standard factory 12 gauge 2-3/4" load of #4 buckshot contains 27 pellets of .24" diameter. That is definitely a home-invasion countermeasure!

Mr. Rawles,
We live in mostly rural northeastern Oklahoma. Our local newspaper just printed an informative editorial about FDIC changes which result in huge fee increases for member bank. Here is an excerpt from the editorial Oklahoma banks paying price for bailouts:

"Imagine paying $500 per year for your car insurance and then being told it had gone up to $4,000 even though you have been a perfect driver with no accidents, no moving violations. That’s the magnitude of premium increases local bankers are facing. The local banks I spoke to had no part in the sub-prime loan implosion and did not receive one cent from the bail out. However, they were not expecting large “assessments” in addition to huge premium increases. The first assessment, due September 30th, will likely be 4 times larger than all of the premiums each bank paid in 2008. Another assessment, half that size is anticipated before the end of 2009. To put this in perspective, a bank that paid, for example $250,000 in total for 2008 would pay nearly $500,000 per quarter this year, have an additional $1 million assessment in September, and another half million later in the year for a total of $3.5 million for 2009. So, if your bank fails, the Government takes your bank, if you operate a fiscally responsible bank, the FDIC will now take a big chunk of your bank’s money." [signed] Bailey Dabney, Publisher, Claremore Daily Progress

- Kevin A.

JWR Replies: A recent news story makes it clear why the FDIC was forced to increases their rates: FDIC’s Bair Says Insurance Fund Could Be Insolvent This Year. (A hat tip to SurvivalBlog reader "Hin" for the link.) After the much-publicized Northern Rock bank run in England, the FDIC felt obliged to double the insurance coverage for depositors. Without that grandstanding move to set people at ease, bank runs might have started in the US. But despite increased insurance and greater scrutiny of member banks, the fundamental flaw of fractional reserve banking remains: Only a small portion of your deposits is available for withdrawal at any given time. If public confidence collapses, there will be large scale withdrawals, precipitating full-scale bank runs. Be ready, folks. If bank failures spiral out of control--and there is now a substantial risk of just that---things could get very nasty, very quickly. The "final guarantor" for the FDIC is of course the American taxpayer. Promises will be kept, even if there are huge bank runs. Helicopter Ben has plenty of paper and ink. It just may take a long time to print that many greenbacks and set things back in order. But in the short term, if there is a banking panic, depositors may have to wait six months or longer, to be reimbursed.

Keep a cash reserve at home. Maintaining up to two month's wages, mostly in $20 bills, would be prudent--if you can afford it! But don't just sit on a pile of greenbacks, diversify. You should also keep some liquid tangibles on hand. By tangibles, I mean pre-1965 mint date circulated "junk" 90% silver US dimes, quarters and half dollars, and perhaps a few fractional gold coins. (Buy gold coins only after you have $1,000 face vale in silver for each family member. The silver can act as your barter reserve.) Store your coins in hidden wall and door caches. You might also consider leaving a small "sacrificial" portion of your coins in your home gun vault--just in case you are forced to open your vault at gunpoint, in the unlikely event that you are caught off guard in a home invasion robbery.

DO NOT store your precious metals in a bank safe deposit box! In the event of "bank holiday", you will not have access to your coins. I wouldn't be surprised to see all safe deposit boxes sealed, in the event that BHO channels FDR and there is another 1933-style gold confiscation. (Presumably, the box holder's first access following a banking holiday would only be allowed under the watchful eyes of authorities.) There are just a few private safe deposit companies that are not bank-owned, like this one in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those might be immune from the depredations of grabby politicians, but don't count on it.


When I read that academic study of economic freedom in the various states, and saw the summary map, it was a strong piece of "ah-ha" confirmation for me. It immediately struck me that what a close correlation there is to what you had posted two years ago in your State Rankings on places to move with the best retreat potential. [in 19 western states.] Independently, you nailed those recommendations squarely, sir. Bonus Brownie points for you! Wishing You The Lord's Blessings, - Ted J.

I read through the PDF that you mention in your "Voting with your feet" post . Today's prisoners could be tomorrow's Golden Hordes. I recently saw this in the Wall Street Journal. Prison Population of a few states. The report also noted huge discrepancies among the states in regard to the total corrections population -- one of every 13 adults in Georgia and one of every 18 in Idaho at one end of the scale, one of every 88 in New Hampshire at the other extreme." - Jonathan

HPD flagged a sobering article from The Market Ticker: What's Dead (Short Answer: All Of It) It is amazing seeing something like this coming from a relatively mainstream blogger like Karl Denninger: "Civil unrest will break out before the end of the year. The [active component] Military and [National] Guard will be called up to try to stop it. They won't be able to. Big cities are at risk of becoming a free-fire death zone. If you live in one, figure out how you can get out and live somewhere else if you detect signs that yours is starting to go "feral"; witness New Orleans after Katrina for how fast, and how bad, it can get." (It sounds like Karl must have read my novel.)

Hawaiian K. flagged this piece of possibly good news: What Stimulated the Gun and Ammo Market? Prices will fall, if supply catches up to demand. The $64 Dollar question is: Will that happen before a new ban is enacted? That is anybody's guess...

Mojopie recommended a Wired article by Felix Salmon: Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street. Mojopie's comment: "This articulates very well how and why CDOs and CDS derivatives caused this mess our economy is in."

Thanks to Steven L. for spotting this: Second Liens Forgiven: Are You Kidding Me? "But I can’t tell you how many homeowners I’ve interviewed who took out home equity lines to put in a pool or buy a fancy car or put an addition on the house that includes a fancy new kitchen with a Viking six-burner. And I’m supposed to pay for all that?"

Items from The Economatrix:

Roubini: US Financial System Effectively Insolvent

Citigroup Shares Tumble Below $1

GM Auditors Raise the Specter of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Dow Drops Another 200 on Worries Over Banks, GM

Europe's Banks Face $2 Trillion Shortage

US Private Sector Cuts 697,000 Jobs in February

JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, BofA Face Ratings Cut

Now as the "Much Greater Depression" Progresses

Bank Woes Drain FDIC Fund

8.3 Million US Mortgages Upside Down

GM Europe: 300,000 Jobs at Risk

More US Consumers, Businesses File for Bankruptcy

As Projects Grind to a Halt, Homesites Turn to Wasteland

Critics See Understaffed, Overwhelmed Treasury

Taxpayers Have Lost Billions on Citigroup Bailout

Top Obama Officials Defend Tax Hikes as Necessary

Gold Halts its Losing Streak

William B. alerted us to an economy story from South Korea that is actually a preparedness story if you read between the lines: Empty Containers Clog South Korea’s Busan Port as Trade Slumps. We can safely conclude that it is just a matter of time before the price of used CONEX containers plummets. As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, CONEXes have potential for aboveground storage, and even conversion into housing. (On the latter, just ask any returning Iraq vet about "CHU" billets.) OBTW, the ones to look for are they type made with Corten (aka "Weathering") steel. Just don't make the mistake of burying a CONEX without first doing some serious engineering for load bearing and lateral stresses. They are not designed to withstand the weight of soil on their sides or roofs. (Most of their strength is in their corners, for stacking.).

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The latest essay from Bill Buppert: The Evil That Men Do: Willful Submission To Illegitimate Authority

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Ben M. found this on: 'No proof' of bee killer theory.

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Readers have been asking me for more light-hearted news, to counter all the economic gloomage. Well, here you go: The McNugget Emergency

"You and I as individuals can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but only for a limited period of time. Why should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?" - President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Notes from JWR:

Since SurvivalBlog's readership is growing so quickly, I've been overwhelmed with questions from newbies. To help folks get up to speed quickly, I just created a new static page: SurvivalBlog's Quick-Start Guide for Preparedness Newbies. It can also be accessed by clicking the "Getting Started" button in our top bar.


A brief reminder that Safecastle's "Ratcheting Rewards" 25% off sale on 30-year shelf life Mountain House canned foods is expiring at midnight (Eastern time) on Friday, March 6th. Get your order in soon!

Mr. Rawles,
I appreciate everything you do to keep everyone working toward preparing. To that end I would like to supplement your notes with a product I have been using for a few weeks now that have greatly improved my Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) plans.

Along with US Geological maps I have used the excellent Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer to plan my back road escape routes. Recently I found that they now offer ($29.95 plus the cost of the software) an "all you can use" annual subscription to their entire map collection in digital format.

Unfortunately you do need software (Topo USA or XMap) to utilize this product but many hikers use this software so it is not a "one trick" software product. With the software you can trace routes and save them for printing and uploading to the Delorme GPSes. Software is pretty complicated so I recommend setting aside some time to learn it to get the most utilization.

These innovations have significantly improved my escape plans with alternate and fall back routes. Aside from the GPS routes I have printed out high resolution color maps using iGage water proof laser paper.

Once you have timed the routes in various traffic conditions. Put a detailed map copy in each BOV and another in the family BOB. These give us options, as well as providing the all-important putting a plan in writing step.

One Tip: The departure rush from major sporting events [at large sports venues] are not bad for simulating the traffic snarls in an emergency. you can improve your options to lock down agreed upon routes.

Regards, - JNC

Hi Jim -
I am a beekeeper and would recommend your readers look into the option of keeping bees. Honey bees produce food that stores without excessive processing (it has two things to fight spoilage, a natural antibiotic and the sugar concentration is so high it won't support bacterial growth). I use the conventional Langstroth bee boxes but a person desiring to use the bees for home or farm could benefit by using the inexpensive top bar hive method. The top bar hive produces comb honey and the wax makes great candles. Top bar hives are not migratory in nature so they are best suited for permanent installation. Bees have predators and skunks won't bother your bees if you get the bee box off the ground and up on a stand. The stand will allow you to work the bees without bending over. When working the bees you must smoke them a little to calm them down and choose a mild day. There is not enough room or time here to get into the details of the hobby of bee keeping but with the Internet and perhaps a local beekeeper for a mentor, you too can enjoy the science and art of beekeeping. Regards, - Uniform Delta

Mr. Rawles,
I read your book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", which is a very good resource. In it, you didn't mention one area that interested me a little bit, and that was the area around the Lincoln National Forest, near Cloudcroft, New Mexico. I've driven through there a few times, and it might do well in a depression. Of course, it's too close to the Mexican border, which might lead to a problem, though I'm not sure which direction the refugees will be heading. You probably heard that the mayor of Juarez has sent his family to El Paso to live. Here in Florida, it seems that many of the immigrants are heading home.

There's game and some water in these parts, but water is still an issue when the rain is insufficient. The towns of Weed and Mayhill are worth considering. The mountains offer the usual advantages in keeping strangers out or unaware. By the way, I know of people making a living in nearby Orogrande from the gold, as well as the great rock hounding. There's a moderately large Indian reservation north of this area, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as it's largely empty. Of course, Alamagordo, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas are too close, but, in a meltdown scenario, the roads could be blocked fairly easily. - Paul in Florida

I agree with you on the machine tool issue. You end up with a lot of tooling and accessories by buying a shop. Things like rotary tables, angle plates and clamping stuff make this approach a bargain. A few grand goes a long way if you dig into [the replacement costs]. Like you say, [in the depth of the recession] there will be a lot of stuff out there. I have a good set of machinist tools but no machines and have been thinking the same thing.

I have millwrighted machines for people from closed machine shops. I used a Ryder rental with a lift gate and rolled the machines on bars (a Johnson Bar is very helpful.) The Egyptian method works! I had to remove the table from the Bridgeport to get it through a doorway. The lathe was easier (longer base, lower center of gravity). Buy capable machines and beware of buying equipment with three phase motors.
Thanks again, Jim. Best Regards, - Mike from Michigan


An incredible place to get used industrial tools and equipment is H.G.R. Industrial Surplus, in Cleveland, Ohio. They have 12 acres of equipment under roof. The quantity and quality and very low cost is remarkable. Just check their web site for a complete list of what they have. It changes daily. I've found that it is very well worth a drive through states to go there. - Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment, Ohio


I bought one of these milling machines sold by Lathemaster.
This is one of those Rong-Fu 45 clones, what they call a bed mill; the table stays at the same height and the head goes up and down. It's a good machine for the money, but not in the same league as big knee mill. Of course, it doesn't cost $5,000, either.

Like any other low-cost bed mill, it isn't rigid enough to take really heavy cuts. If you try, it flexes, and the cut goes sideways a little. But if you work your way up to the intended line taking shallow cuts, it's fine. I've made quite a few things with mine, mostly out of aluminum and titanium.
I'm very happy with it. That said, when I get the space, I'll get a true CNC machine, probably the Tormach PCNC.

In anticipation of this upgrade, I got Tormach tooling for my Lathemaster mill, which turns out to be a pretty nice thing anyway.
Thanks, - PNG

Three follow-up observations:

First, Do not mill in a drill chuck. as one letter said to do. It will cause the drill chuck to fall off of the taper it is attached to, and can also break the jaws.

Second, [If taking the 3-1n-1 approach,] is at the top of everyone's list.

Third, Take a technological step back 100 years, and everyone should try and find a shaper! See this Wikipedia page. After all, a mill is only good until the cutters run out! - Tantalum Tom

Christian homeschooling advocates step up their campaign, in a video appeal to have parents take their kids out of public schools: The Call to Dunkirk

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Reader Jeff B. asked: "Have you addressed ATVs or especially side by side ATVs or even the more recent electric 'Buggys' and their pros/cons?" The Bad Boy Buggy is definitely a viable option for short distance hauling at a retreat with a large photovoltaic, wind, or micro-hydro alternative energy system. And an off-road suspension conversions to a used electric golf cart is a good low-cost alternative. Also, don't miss this article in the SurvivalBlog archives. In that piece, I stressed the need for fuel source versatility. Speaking of which, there are now some Utility ATVs made that burn diesel fuel!

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Sean M. mentioned a do-it-yourself innovation from a gent in Norway: a rechargeable battery in a photovoltaic cell wrapper . Of course over-charging a battery is a concern, but this is clever.

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From Cheryl: Obama Lied to Gun Owners

"The difference in energy between a .22 Long Rifle cartridge and a .223 Remington is like the difference between a viola and and a bass fiddle. By the way, a viola is a bass fiddle, after taxes." - James Wesley, Rawles

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There have been several new listings added at in the past few weeks, in Illinois, Nevada, Texas, and even one in Australia. It is rapidly becoming the go-to place for finding survival retreat properties. Some of the property listings make fascinating reading, like the one up in northwestern Montana, near Glacier National Park.

Here is something that heretofore I have only shared with a few of my consulting clients: an approach at rural retreat construction that can make a rural retreat of 10 acres or more essentially "disappear".

If there is a thick screen of trees or tall brush between the public road and potential building sites at your undeveloped country retreat parcel, then your property might be a good candidate for a "hidden retreat house". This is accomplished by making as few changes as possible when the parcel is viewed from the county road. No fancy entry gate, no mailbox, basically nothing new that is visible except a small diameter drainage culvert by the side of the county road and a narrow semi-improved road that will just look like a disused farm machinery access lane. It should be just lightly road-rocked for the first 100 feet, to encourage grass to actually grow up in it. Design the roadway leading in to the back end of the property narrow and in a serpentine path, so that additional trees can be planted to block any view down the lane. You will of course need to brief and oversee the road contractors, so that they don't do the usual "wide road with lots of rock."

Either have grid power run in underground, or skip it altogether and put in a photovoltaic (PV) power system. Thus, there are no power poles and visible lines to give away the location.
I recommend building a masonry house with small windows and with either a rock or an earth-tone brick facade. The roof should be green metal, all the better to blend in. Do not clear trees to "open up a view", since that would likely provide line of sight from the county road, revealing the house.

The aforementioned measures might all seem a bit "Bat Cave", but I have seen this approach used at a retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii. The owner--who has had the place for 10 years--mentioned that a few of his neighbor's houses have been burglarized, but his never has been. His house is invisible from the road and from all of the neighboring houses, so opportunistic burglars "just passing through" don't even know that there is a house there. His lane just looks like something used by farm tractors, not by a homeowner.

Granted, this approach will not protect your retreat from being known by your neighbors. Twelve-year-old boys tend to hike around just about everywhere, and pay little attention to "No Trespassing" signs. Ditto for a lot of hunters and fishermen. But statistically, a hidden retreat will be much safer, both before the Schumer hits the fan, and after.

An even more elaborate disappearing act is an underground house with an entrance hidden in what appears to just be a utility building. But that gets much more expensive. I'll have more on that in an upcoming post.

Mr. Rawles,
As always I enjoy the site and the support you provide. I would like to mention a few items that have come up lately here in South Florida with regards to survival in an urban area. This may be of particular concern to any of your readers that live in urban areas or for those that are not yet at a point in their preparations, or lives, to be able to move to a better, less populous location.
First, as has been mentioned on this web site, in your novel "Patriots", and by every credible “prepper” in the world, a person retreating to a safer location must have a primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency plan. The method of getting out of urban areas during an emergency is problematic, particularly if you did not leave when you could (i.e. Hurricane Katrina). This can lead to your routes being miles long roadblocks. However, if you live near a coast, inlet, canal, interior waterway, river, creek, or major city (above ground) drainage system, you may be able to use them in a boat, canoe, kayak, zodiac, dingy, on foot, or with duck-waders to find better routes. Obviously in the case of inclement weather these may not be options on the worst days, but may be excellent routes during the ‘lemming run’ to get out of the area. Many concerned people in my area include these routes of escaping the city and urban sprawl in their plans.

Second, the wide availability of commercial property for use (particularly in the current economy) is staggering. A simple examination of the properties available for use by your close friends and family may surprise you. Over several planning sessions and field trips we found many urban cache locations, significant shelter options, and overwhelming amounts of storage space in places that were rented, leased, and sometimes owned by members of our group. With these locations it is always good to fully understand the government restrictions on use, function, zoning, storage, and occupation of commercial property. That being said, some commercial sites offer significant security advantages over homes in neighborhoods (not to mention apartments!), can easily be ‘hardened’ without letting the nosey neighbors knowing, and are often full of useful storage space, accesses, exits, entries, storage space, subterranean layers, and did I mention storage space? One of our associates has a commercial building with a separate ‘hidden’ space inside in which a fully stocked “bug out vehicle” waits for action in a regularly maintained state. This vehicle has its own locked bay which can only be opened from the inside after a trip into the basement or via a large air duct to gain access to the room. His regular business operates on the other end of the building so none of his road-crew employees spend enough time to even know the building has a bay on the other side. The other end of the building faces a small maintenance path for the phone company box and is fenced in and has plenty of “junk” camouflaging its true purpose. Other examples of commercial property use is in the planning of cache locations and in situations where you may need to bunker down with your family or “prepper” network during trying times. Warehouse districts that are not contiguous to shopping, tourist, entertainment, or government buildings offer potential safety during riots, looting, government action, or general unrest. These warehouse districts often see little or no activity during even the most destructive of riots. If one has access to these types of areas, it is a relatively simple operation to put up an innocuous name on the fence and receive deliveries (or just bring stuff yourself) and have no one bat an eye. The districts may even have enough 24-hour traffic to mask late night movement if you are only using the warehouse space as a pre-positioning and construction site for your burial cache boxes, tubes, and such, since the neighbors may get a bit nosey with you burning the midnight oil in your workshop/garage with your ‘survivalist nonsense.'

Third, unless you are have never heard of OPSEC, commercial properties can allow you to hide in plain sight. If someone has a TEOTWAWKI need or economic-depression reason to operate in an urban location, you can easily blend in with local traffic and business populations if they exist. If you are in a manufacturing or construction area wear some roughed up ‘Dickies’ work clothes and have a dirty pickup truck. In an office complex, have some light business attire with a jacket/blazer so as not to stick out. If you happen to be in a meat packing district or medical complex, have some ‘scrubs’/lab coat or coveralls available. As long as no one is looking for you, visit the local ‘roach coach’, ration station, trading post, or gas station so you can keep aware of local government, gang, crime, or quisling activities and be able to be ‘seen’ as a local (if being seen is an option or necessity). You should be able to move any vehicle inside buildings to hide them or work on them and to keep them out of view from outside observers. You may be able to set up extensive security systems, passive/active surveillance, power devices, and even communication systems. Some locations even offer the ability to tap into sewage, storm drain, and other access points.

Fourth, if you have some property available you may be grow food (this must be carefully done if industrial chemicals are in the area). If outdoor growth is not a viable option, try indoor crop growth with lamps, skylights, or mirrors. As growing things indoors can be difficult at first, it may be good to practice this well in advance of the need to do it for your life.

Finally, let me say that none of the aforementioned tips can replace a move to less populous, rural locations, far from those who will become mindless mobs in an emergency. These ideas/tips are only presented as limited alternatives for those, like me, who are months or years away from realistic retreats to safer environs and for those unlucky few who may get caught up behind the wrong side of a line during hard times. Regards, - I.S.

JWR Replies: That is an interesting approach. I might add just one proviso: If you plan to hide supplies (or even yourself) behind a "blank" roll-up door in a chaotic situation, then do not leave the ignition key in the company forklift, or leave a pallet jack outside of your storage space. Either of those could be used by goblins to quickly use leverage to their advantage in prying-up the door!

Mr. Rawles,
A study was conducted by William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University on a ranking of states basis on personal and economic freedoms. It is titled:
Freedom in the 50 States: Index of Personal and Economic Freedom. It encompasses items such as income tax, gun laws and homeschooling (among many other areas).

My state unfortunately ranks in the bottom thirteen. As my family and I search for another income means it may behoove us to "vote with our feet", as you say.
Here is an abstract of the study:

This paper presents the first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. We develop and justify our ratings and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on other individuals’ ability to do the same.
This study improves on prior attempts to score economic freedom for American states in three primary ways: 1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, own and carry firearms, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure; 2) it includes far more variables, even on economic policies alone, than prior studies, and there are no missing data on any variable; 3) we adopt new, more accurate measurements of key variables, particularly state fiscal policies.
We find that the freest states in the country are New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place. All three states feature low taxes and government spending and middling levels of regulation and paternalism. New York is the least free by a considerable margin, followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Maryland. On personal freedom alone, Alaska is the clear winner, while Maryland brings up the rear. As for freedom in the different regions of the country, the Mountain and West North Central regions are the freest overall while the Middle Atlantic lags far behind on both economic and personal freedom. Regression analysis demonstrates that states enjoying more economic and personal freedom tend to attract substantially higher rates of internal net migration.
The data used to create the rankings are publicly available online at, and we invite others to adopt their own weights to see how the overall state freedom rankings change.

God Bless and thank you for all you do, - John in Ohio

A gent in the Peak Oil camp recently posted a very interesting round-up review that compares James Howard Kunstler’s novel World Made by Hand to several other post-collapse novels, namely: Parable of the Sower, Lucifer’s Hammer, The Road, Wolf and Iron, The Long Emergency (also by Kunstler, non-fiction), and my novel Patriots . I think he went way too far when he referred to me as "the patron saint of survivalism." I believe that the moniker "obscure, backwoods enthusiast" would have been much more accurate.

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Upcoming hearings: A new NAIS legislative battle. Please contact your congresscritters if you are opposed to the NAIS universal livestock registration scheme!

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SurvivalBlog readers in Scandinavia should have an interest in this regional blog: Att Leva Efter 2012 (in Swedish.) It may also be of interest to Swedish ex-pats.

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Reader D.V. mentioned this from commentator Charles Hugh Smith: Hanging On, or How to Get Through a Depression and Enjoy Life

"Until they realize that their agenda is destroying the life savings of millions of Americans, then all I can give you is caution... I'm not saying Mr. President go stare at the Bloomberg quote machine and come to your senses. I just want some sign that Obama realizes the market is totally falling apart and that his agenda has a big hand in that happening. I don't know about you but I felt it everywhere I went this weekend... A young kid took me aside. He said I was right when I said we've elected a Leninist... I felt the total lack of control we all feel right now, the, "It's out of my hands but where's the authority?" The, "Hey it's amateur hour at our darkest moment." - Jim Kramer, CNBC's host of the Mad Money show

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Last week [in a STRATFOR briefing] we discussed the impact that crime, and specifically kidnapping, has been having on Mexican citizens and foreigners visiting or living in Mexico. We pointed out that there is almost no area of Mexico immune from the crime and violence. As if on cue, on the night of Feb. 21 a group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people. Zihuatanejo is a normally quiet beach resort just north of Acapulco; the attack has caused the town's entire police force to go on strike. (Police strikes, or threats of strikes, are not uncommon in Mexico.)

Mexican police have regularly been targeted by drug cartels, with police officials even having been forced to seek safety in the United States, but such incidents have occurred most frequently in areas of high cartel activity like Veracruz state or Palomas. The Zihuatanejo incident is proof of the pervasiveness of violence in Mexico, and demonstrates the impact that such violence quickly can have on an area generally considered safe.

Significantly, the impact of violent Mexican criminals stretches far beyond Mexico itself. In recent weeks, Mexican criminals have been involved in killings in Argentina, Peru and Guatemala, and Mexican criminals have been arrested as far away as Italy and Spain. Their impact -- and the extreme violence they embrace -- is therefore not limited to Mexico or even just to Latin America. For some years now, STRATFOR has discussed the threat that Mexican cartel violence could spread to the United States, and we have chronicled the spread of such violence to the U.S.-Mexican border and beyond.

Traditionally, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations had focused largely on the transfer of narcotics through Mexico. Once the South American cartels encountered serious problems bringing narcotics directly into the United States, they began to focus more on transporting the narcotics to Mexico. From that point, the Mexican cartels transported them north and then handed them off to U.S. street gangs and other organizations, which handled much of the narcotics distribution inside the United States. In recent years, however, these Mexican groups have grown in power and have begun to take greater control of the entire narcotics-trafficking supply chain.

With greater control comes greater profitability as the percentages demanded by middlemen are cut out. The Mexican cartels have worked to have a greater presence in Central and South America, and now import from South America into Mexico an increasing percentage of the products they sell. They are also diversifying their routes and have gone global; they now even traffic their wares to Europe. At the same time, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations also have increased their distribution operations inside the United States to expand their profits even further. As these Mexican organizations continue to spread beyond the border areas, their profits and power will extend even further -- and they will bring their culture of violence to new areas.

Burned in Phoenix

The spillover of violence from Mexico began some time ago in border towns like Laredo and El Paso in Texas, where merchants and wealthy families face extortion and kidnapping threats from Mexican gangs, and where drug dealers who refuse to pay "taxes" to Mexican cartel bosses are gunned down. But now, the threat posed by Mexican criminals is beginning to spread north from the U.S.-Mexican border. One location that has felt this expanding threat most acutely is Phoenix, some 185 miles north of the border. Some sensational cases have highlighted the increased threat in Phoenix, such as a June 2008 armed assault in which a group of heavily armed cartel gunmen dressed like a Phoenix Police Department tactical team fired more than 100 rounds into a residence during the targeted killing of a Jamaican drug dealer who had double-crossed a Mexican cartel. We have also observed cartel-related violence in places like Dallas and Austin, Texas. But Phoenix has been the hardest hit.

Narcotics smuggling and drug-related assassinations are not the only thing the Mexican criminals have brought to Phoenix. Other criminal gangs have been heavily involved in human smuggling, arms smuggling, money laundering and other crimes. Due to the confluence of these Mexican criminal gangs, Phoenix has now become the kidnapping-for-ransom capital of the United States. According to a Phoenix Police Department source, the department received 368 kidnapping reports last year. As we discussed last week, kidnapping is a highly underreported crime in places such as Mexico, making it very difficult to measure accurately. Based upon experience with kidnapping statistics in other parts of the world -- specifically Latin America -- it would not be unreasonable to assume that there were at least as many unreported kidnappings in Phoenix as there are reported kidnappings.

At present, the kidnapping environment in the United States is very different from that of Mexico, Guatemala or Colombia. In those countries, kidnapping runs rampant and has become a well-developed industry with a substantial established infrastructure. Police corruption and incompetence ensures that kidnappers are rarely caught or successfully prosecuted.

A variety of motives can lie behind kidnappings. In the United States, crime statistics demonstrate that motives such as sexual exploitation, custody disputes and short-term kidnapping for robbery have far surpassed the number of reported kidnappings conducted for ransom. In places like Mexico, kidnapping for ransom is much more common.
The FBI handles kidnapping investigations in the United States. It has developed highly sophisticated teams of agents and resources to devote to investigating this type of crime. Local police departments are also far more proficient and professional in the United States than in Mexico. Because of the advanced capabilities of law enforcement in the United States, the overwhelming majority of criminals involved in kidnapping-for-ransom cases reported to police -- between 95 percent and 98 percent -- are caught and convicted. There are also stiff federal penalties for kidnapping. Because of this, kidnapping for ransom has become a relatively rare crime in the United States.

Most kidnapping for ransom that does happen in the United States occurs within immigrant communities. In these cases, the perpetrators and victims belong to the same immigrant group (e.g., Chinese Triad gangs kidnapping the families of Chinese businesspeople, or Haitian criminals kidnapping Haitian immigrants) -- which is what is happening in Phoenix. The vast majority of the 368 known kidnapping victims in Phoenix are Mexican and Central American immigrants who are being victimized by Mexican or Mexican-American criminals.

The problem in Phoenix involves two main types of kidnapping. One is the abduction of drug dealers or their children, the other is the abduction of illegal aliens.
Drug-related kidnappings often are not strict kidnappings for ransom per se. Instead, they are intended to force the drug dealer to repay a debt to the drug trafficking organization that ordered the kidnapping.

Non-drug-related kidnappings are very different from traditional kidnappings in Mexico or the United States, in which a high-value target is abducted and held for a large ransom. Instead, some of the gangs operating in Phoenix are basing their business model on volume, and are willing to hold a large number of victims for a much smaller individual pay out. Reports have emerged of kidnapping gangs in Phoenix carjacking entire vans full of illegal immigrants away from the coyote smuggling them into the United States. The kidnappers then transport the illegal immigrants to a safe house, where they are held captive in squalid conditions -- and often tortured or sexually assaulted with a family member listening in on the phone -- to coerce the victims' family members in the United States or Mexico to pay the ransom for their release. There are also reports of the gangs picking up vehicles full of victims at day labor sites and then transporting them to the kidnapping safe house rather than to the purported work site.

Drug-related kidnappings are less frequent than the nondrug-related abduction of illegal immigrants, but in both types of abductions, the victims are not likely to seek police assistance due to their immigration status or their involvement in illegal activity. This strongly suggests the kidnapping problem greatly exceeds the number of cases reported to police.

Implications for the United States
The kidnapping gangs in Phoenix that target illegal immigrants have found their chosen crime to be lucrative and relatively risk-free. If the flow of illegal immigrants had continued at high levels, there is very little doubt the kidnappers' operations would have continued as they have for the past few years. The current economic downturn, however, means the flow of illegal immigrants has begun to slow -- and by some accounts has even begun to reverse. (Reports suggest many Mexicans are returning home after being unable to find jobs in the United States.)

This reduction in the pool of targets means that we might be fast approaching a point where these groups, which have become accustomed to kidnapping as a source of easy money -- and their primary source of income -- might be forced to change their method of operating to make a living. While some might pursue other types of criminal activity, some might well decide to diversify their pool of victims. Watching for this shift in targeting is of critical importance. Were some of these gangs to begin targeting U.S. citizens rather than just criminals or illegal immigrants, a tremendous panic would ensue, along with demands to catch the perpetrators.

Such a shift would bring a huge amount of law enforcement pressure onto the kidnapping gangs, to include the FBI. While the FBI is fairly hard-pressed for resources given its heavy counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence and white-collar crime caseload, it almost certainly would be able to reassign the resources needed to respond to such kidnappings in the face of publicity and a public outcry. Such a law enforcement effort could neutralize these gangs fairly quickly, but probably not quickly enough to prevent any victims from being abducted or harmed.

Since criminal groups are not comprised of fools alone, at least some of these groups will realize that targeting soccer moms will bring an avalanche of law enforcement attention upon them. Therefore, it is very likely that if kidnapping targets become harder to find in Phoenix -- or if the law enforcement environment becomes too hostile due to the growing realization of this problem -- then the groups may shift geography rather than targeting criteria. In such a scenario, professional kidnapping gangs from Phoenix might migrate to other locations with large communities of Latin American illegal immigrants to victimize. Some of these locations could be relatively close to the Mexican border like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego or Los Angeles, though they could also include locations farther inland like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, or even the communities around meat and poultry packing plants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. Such a migration of ethnic criminals would not be unprecedented: Chinese Triad groups from New York for some time have traveled elsewhere on the East Coast, like Atlanta, to engage in extortion and kidnapping against Chinese businessmen there.

The issue of Mexican drug-traffic organizations kidnapping in the United States merits careful attention, especially since criminal gangs in other areas of the country could start imitating the tactics of the Phoenix gangs.

(This article re-posted to SurvivalBlog with the permission of


One of your readers asked: "I want to buy a 3 in 1 machine. Does anyone have any experience with them? Perhaps a brand to recommend or stay away from?"

Having considered that choice extensively myself, my home shop amateur opinion is to recommend separate machines. Now that I see what a real mill table looks like, I realize there isn't enough table space on the 3-in-1 to set up anything. Instead, get the cheapest lathe you can stand, and the best mill you can afford. If you still want a combo for space reasons, get one of the lathes with the vertical mill attached at the back center of the bed, like the Grizzly G0516.

As one example of a machine combination, I would propose the 250 pound Harbor Freight 8x12 (8x14+, actually) lathe, and the 700 pound Enco Rong-Fu 45 clone (square column, geared head). I've found real-world machine capacities are better described by weight than work envelope.

Budget spending twice as much on tooling as you do on the lathe and mill. If you can only afford one, get the lathe. People did clever work with a lathe for hundreds of years before the vertical mill was made practical by cheap end mill cutters. Machine tools are only as clever as the user, but others' cleverness is recorded and available inexpensively in books from Lindsay Books.
Of course all this equipment is made in China. The EPA, OSHA, and the unions have made it impossible for industry to be competitive in the US. Thanks to what remains of free trade, you are better off being able to get Chinese iron than to get nothing at all. The purpose of autarky is to be able to starve a population into submission; see also
Curtain, Iron. Buy soon while you can still buy at all.

Chinese machine tools tend to be a fix-up project from the start. There are lots of little details which will want to correct, which you wouldn't be willing to pay the manufacturer to have done right.
Popular machines have deep user communities on the Internet.
Here are some suggested vendors and places to get ideas: [JWR Adds: Beware! Nearly all Harbor Freight products are made in Mainland China, and mostly junk with scant spares or warranties!]
Lindsay Books

Regards, - B.B.


Hi James,
I have had a Shoptask 3 in 1 for 6 yr's now. As far as I can tell, the Harbor Freight designs are [clones of the] older designs of the Shoptask machines. Grizzly also makes a similar machine,which in my opinion looks better, but I have no firsthand knowledge of that. My experience with any of these machine's is that out of the box, they are junk. These do not have high quality metal, hardened surface's and such. The belt drive's are poorly designed, extremely noisy, and prone to breakdown. The best thing to do with one should you purchase it,it to tear it apart, clean and adjust everything! Mine came with casting sand all over, and inside! Everything was sloppy or loose. If you have any mechanical background,these can be made into a decent machine ,but with lot's of sweat and time. These are great for making odds and end',or quick repairs,but not heavy duty stuff. They are not,and will never be, intended for 8 hour a day use. For a home hobby machine,they can be handy, but not for true business use. The switches are junk, the motors are junk, the bearings are junk, the belts are made of old rubber bands or somesuch! The milling portion of it is nothing more than a drill press, and just as inaccurate.

If your an experienced machinist, I have 30 year's worth,they can be a handy machine, given time and effort. I personally have three other older machines, two CNCs and a chucker, each one cost about the same as a new Shoptask. If room is an issue, I'd prefer to get a Harbor Freight machine, as it need's the same amount of work to be decent,and cheaper. My experience with Shoptask was less than stellar,as it took 8 months to arrive, a really slow boat from China! If shop floor space isn't an issue, I'd prefer--and wish I had bought--an older full size machine. Even an older "worn out" production type machine would have been less effort than this was! - Dean



In response to your letter regarding 3-in-ones:
The ones you see for sale are a combination machine tool that combines a metal lathe, drill press and vertical milling machine. They are used a lot by hobbyists here, and I have heard that in Vietnam and similar locales, they are the #1 machine for small motorcycle rebuilding shops.

I have been using a Smithy 1220 for about 5 years, and here are some observations:
Most of these machines are built on a pretty heavy lathe bed that uses a small milling table as the platform for bolting the lathe tooling to. As a lathe, they are pretty stout. Most of them lack a back gear for slow turning operations (such as threading) and you'll want to check on whether they have a split nut, power feeds and a thread dial. The basic 1220 I have does not have a thread dial or a slow speed, which basically means threading is done [by 'hand-spindling"] with the lathe powered off. The upgraded Smithy models have more of these features.
In general, these machines do a good job as a lathe. Be sure to get a 4-jaw chuck with the package, as you will need this for gunsmithing or any precision work. The import 3-jaw chuck you will get with most is not anything I would use on work that needs to be repeatable.

In drill-press mode, they will all work fine. They are really overbuilt compared to even a good drill press, so you will have no problems locating and drilling precision holes, countersinking, etc. I recommend tossing the import drill chuck that comes with these and purchasing a proper American-made Jacobs, as they are much better.
The main weakness in all of these machines is the milling aspect. The table is usually fairly small, most do not have a knee for raising/lowering the table, and they are not that rigid. Your work envelope will be quite a bit smaller than a full-size Bridgeport or even a tabletop mill. Get rid of the vise that comes with these and pick up a Kurt or a good import knockoff of this design.
Also, build a heavy-duty table to bolt the unit to, and it will run with much less chatter. I made a stand for mine out of 2x2" steel tubing filled with concrete. I can mill steel if I use good US cutters (pick these up on eBay) and modest feed speeds.

From my experience, I would say that the Harbor Freight model is probably the least desirable, in terms of initial quality and aftermarket support. The Grizzly is better, and they generally stand behind their products and offer replacement parts for sale. My Smithy has been okay in terms of quality, and I would say that their support is excellent (reasonable prices on parts/accessories and excellent US phone support). I do not have any experience with the Shoptask, but I hear good things about the machine and its capability.
If you want more first-person accounts, sign up for the Yahoo 3-IN-ONE discussion group. Cheers, - JN


In response to the questions about 3 in 1 machines. The two most common brands are Shoptask and Smithy. Both are imported, quality is pretty similar from what I can tell. I have owned and used a Shoptask for more than a decade.

Both machines have real limitations. For a neophyte or hobbyist who wants to make the odd part for a motorcycle restoration or old gun, they're fine. If you're trying to scratch out a subsistence living with a part time job as a machinist, you'll never make it. The mill/drill function of the machine is extremely limited in the "Z-axis", which is the "up and down" motion. There are other limitations as well.

I bought one because I knew I would be moving 5-10 times in a decade, and would have to put it in a basement or utility room. They are somewhat "portable" and take up less room than three proper machines. You can do decent work on them, but it's slow and tedious and takes more skill. But to do really good work, and do it efficiently enough to make a living on, you just have to have a real lathe, a real milling machine, and a real drill press.

If you shop around, you can get both a used lathe and a used milling machine, probably with some tooling, for around $5,000, give or take. Occasionally there are terrific deals around and you might get the job done for half that amount. A real lathe and a real milling machine could produce parts at about 10 times the rate of any combo machine.

Don't forget that it is entirely possible to spend as much on tooling as you do on the basic machine, so the initial lower price of the 3 in 1 machine isn't as great a deal as you might first assume, compared to a used machine with goodies included. Sure, there are worn out junk machines on the used market, so you have to know what to look for there. It's not an automatic slam dunk that all used machines are better than all new 3 in 1 machines.

If you bought new Grizzly equipment, you could get a small mill/drill machine and a modest size lathe for $5,000 including shipping. If you decide you really have to have one, stick with either the smithy or the Shoptask. Many of the off brands are junk. Some of them can't even cut threads, which is a key function of a lathe. HTH, - Troy


Dear Editor,

Personally, it has been my experience that no one, unless you are a "hobbyist", should use one of these machines. They are fine for very small parts only, and parts made of either plastics, brass, or aluminum. Why? They cut really fast, easily, and require no specialized tooling. No extreme pressures, but the speeds are up there, about 1,200-1,800 rpm.
It all comes down to one word: Rigidity! If it isn't solid, you have wasted time, money and energy. You cannot get gold, from junk.

1) A lathe was made to turn 'rounds', period.
You can dress them up with a number of additions, to make a lot of items not easily made by the lathe itself. (everything you do, costs more money!)

2) Mills are what they are, and anyone that has ever operated one, knows what's their most important feature/factor.
Not just weight, but the rigidity of the entire unit, from the "quill" to the bed, to the knee, (if it's that type of mill).
You cannot do much with a small lightweight machine, it's like trying to mill on a drill press! (It just Won't work!)

Like I said, those smaller combination units may work ok, but not for any serious metal turning or milling, especially of steels. It is comparable to soldering-versus-MIG or TIG welding!
You have to have the right machine for the correct operation.

I own a "very well used" circa 1939 metal lathe, belt driven, 9-12" swing, and 32" length material capacity. Geared head and has a range of 12 speeds.
It still, holds within .002"-.005" accuracy, and I've never "adjusted" it so far.
It weighs in at 400+ lbs. With the small 3/4 horse 115 volt ac motor, it can make anything I want it to. It only cost me $800!
(With that being said, 1 collet chuck cost me $600, alone! Then there were the collet sets and such, as well as the replacement 3 and 4 jaw chucks that ran around $280 each) Not cheap to get into, and not for just anyone! If you don't know what you are doing, in this area, then get some knowledgeable help!
BTW: they can, and they do, tear people up, if you make "1" single mistake!
Stay away from a lot of imported stuff, unless you know it's a real "brand name" that you can easily get parts and tooling for .

A machinist friend of mine bought a "Jet" lathe a few years back, then discovered it was smaller than what he thought...It had a swing of only 3 1/2 " and a material capacity of 11-3/4 ".
He paid over $600 for it, and it only weighed about 45-47 lbs! It was great , if you were making model aircraft or train components... He has it sitting on his desk, as it's only 18" long, and makes an interesting paperweight!

Look for the stability, and "serviceability" of the tools you select for the "proper" job.
In other words don't use a chisel in place of a screwdriver, and vice-versa!
There are quite a few older models out there today, and...not all Chinese made tools are that bad either.
For example, a mill I used a lot in aerospace manufacturing , was an old "MaxMill", a big old "boat-anchor", that wouldn't quit. The writing on it's electric motor was in Chinese, and I never did know much about it! We also had an "X-Cello". (I have no clue [about its origins],) but it was a good solid machine!

For "our" lathes, nearly all were made in China, as the really older ones made in Japan were deceased by then. My personal favorite was the "WEBB" or "Takisawa" (same same), the guys in the shop called it the "widow maker"...It had a broken detent, that allowed it to drop into crossfeed mode at it's own whim. Once it was repaired, I'd have paid $5,000 for that old junker! (Cost to replace the detent: $0.10).

Note: Most of the older DOD contract requirements mandated that any part made for them or by use in any military equipment, had to be made on a machine based in the United States only!
That meant out of our shop's six mills, we could only use three of them (the Bridgeport's) and of our lathes we could only use one, the "Hardinge". (A nice toy if you have the money.).
That included all manual mills lathes and all CNC machines. We had machines from Germany, Holland, China,and Japan.

Today, thousands of these older 'dinosaurs', are on the market... You can get an older "Southbend Lathe", for a song and a dance, and with all the tooling! You'll need a lot of guys and maybe a forklift to move it though! Bridegports are the same way!

Stay away from all of the CNC machines, unless you know programming! In the machining business, you have to figure it this way: "Weight is equal to quality and accuracy"! - Bill in Phoenix


Go to They are the best American-made machines (for lower cost) available. Their only limitation is [their small] size, which is true of any machine. - Mr. XYZ Axes


Mr. Rawles,
Any multi-task machine is a trade off. They do nothing well,but do save space. When ShopSmith brought out theirs in the early 1970s, I saw many demos and was about to buy one. I am glad I didn't.Wood or metal working is the same basic concept.

I would recommend that a person buy the tool they need most and add "toys" later. If you need a mill, buy a mill. But if you only do a little mill work but do a lot of drilling, get the best drill press available. You can put an end mill in a drill press chuck and do light milling. See my point. As for things made in China, almost all tools that have a high cast content like vices, anvils, clamps, drill presses, and such have been made in China or India for over twenty years. One good place to find tools and machinery is school district auctions. They upgrade the shops from time to time. Also, government auctions are worth looking into. I know the depot in Columbus, Ohio has had some good deals recently.

It's a sad state of affairs that our government lets this happen since China will not let an item be sold there that's not made there. Then they scream protectionism if we add a tariff or restriction.
Thank you for your blog, it is very good. - BKM


James: industrial has good quality stuff from taiwan, including mill/lathes 3 in 1s has been around a long while. (only 3 in1s) (made in China) is from USA but they are specialized for tiny things. has Chinese stuff, but is better than nothing, they have good customer service.

STAY AWAY FROM HARBOR FREIGHT! Most everything they sell is shifty shady and breaks fast. (it is soooo tempting though) I haven't used their machine tools, but to their credit, I have seen their smallest mill in three separate catalogs. Harbor Freight micrometers have some merit. My machine shop teacher had a few sets, but when things really needed to be precise he whipped out his Etalon micrometers.
I have been disappointed by every purchase from Harbor Freight I've made. I stopped buying from them awhile ago.

If two is one and one is none, [when buying from] Harbor Freight [, the ratio] is 10 is one and 9 is none.
Real machine shops give a wiiiide berth to the multifunction machines. It's like the AR-15 with every attachment you can think of . They get in each others way. But they're much better than nothing.

Mainland China and Taiwan are the most common machine tool builders. Korea and Japan make better ones--and of those, Japan the best. Germany makes them too (real good). Italy a few.
Basic machine tools from the USA no longer exist. Only the super precision, extremely large, specialized, and a few CNC.

Again, Moore, Hardinge, HAAS Sandvik. Moore machines can cost millions, Hardinge/Bridgeport cost tens of thousands (not pure USA either) and HAAS is only CNC, (great machines though--when they break, their software tells you what to fix!) Sandvik is super specialized.

Get used to working High Speed Steel. (HSS) It is more robust and cheaper than carbide, it does fine. It just likes slower speeds.
Dig through this Thomas link, and you'll find next to nothing in USA-built machines.

Kannon is a good middle of the road (hard to find)
Fowler is hit and miss (mostly hit), but reasonably priced
Mitutoyo (expensive), Starrett, Brown and Sharpe, and Etalon (expensive). You get what you pay for with these.
Stay away from any plastic/fiberglass/resin measuring devices. they loose accuracy fast when temperature changes. - Tantalum Tom


To the reader in Hawaii looking for a 3 in 1 machines, he might check out They have four different machines listed in their 2008 catalog. I bought a Shoptask 3 in 1 machines about 12 years ago. The he lathe part of it is fine, but the mill leaves a lot to be desired and I have had to repair the multi position switches several times. I am not a machinist, but a master machinist has thought me the basics and beyond over the years. I still use the Shoptask, but I also needed larger machines. Bridegport machines were out of the question as simply too expensive for just hobby work. In my search several years ago I found Grizzly.

The main reason I went with Grizzly is that they make large machines in 220 V single phase. Most other companies that sold similar machines of those larger sizes were all 3 phase motors and I didn't have 3 phase and I didn't want to buy a phase-o-matic system to convert from 3 phase to single phase. I have a 14" x 40" lathe and a 2 h.p. horizontal/vertical mill with a 9-1/2" x 39-3/8" table. Both machines are outstanding. I also liked Grizzly because it is a large company, with help line, and replacement parts are no problem. I am not affiliated with Grizzly. I just like their products. I have also bought a large wood planer and a large joiner from Grizzly. Again, they have outstanding pieces of machinery, but it is made in China. -Regards, - John in Montana



As a non-professional amateur hobby pseudo-machinist that likes to play with machinery. My suggestion is don't buy a 3-in 1 unless you have very little space or will do very little machining. I know there are many that won't agree with me. The problem is you will have a project set up and then want to work on something else. then you will loose the first set-up to make another set-up. I started with a 6" Atlas lathe 30 years ago and used a hand held drill. later was added a new bench top drill press (Taiwan built) then 4 years later I found a 16" Jet mill/drill that came from a burned-down fabricating shop. I've since added a 13" Enco lathe (Taiwan built) and many Taiwan and Chinese made add-ons. They are not the highest quality tools but they are what I can afford. I did add a strong magnet to the lathe gear box to catch chip. Without imports, I and a lot of others could not afford this type of machine. I have had to redesign some things on the machines but the machines allow me to do it.

Don't get me wrong, I would have a Bridgeport and an American made lathe and drill press if I could afford it.

Keep in mind, a lathe is the only machine capable of reproducing itself. It can drill, mill, bore and turn metals and wood. The skill and imagination of the operator is what determines what it can do.

Used machines do sometimes become available, both import and domestic. A lot have been abused, some well cared for. If space is not a concern then consider separate machines, and take care of them. - Frank from Indiana

JWR Replies: The current economic downturn will mean that hundreds of small prototype and production machine shops will go out of business in the next two to five years, particularly in and around Detroit, Michigan. There will be some genuine bargains found at auction. Watch your local sale papers closely. Some high quality US and German machine tools, bits, dies, jigs, brakes and so forth may sell for pennies on the dollar!

Tony W. sent this: Even 'Dr. Doom' Is Scared: Economy Much Worse Than Roubini Predicted

Bill from Ohio spotted this: 5000 Dow? 500 S&P?

From Kevin A. come this sign of the times: Manhattan Apartment Buyers Abandoning Six-Figure Deposits Rather than Closing on Deals.

Reader Kris N. mentioned in a recent e-mail: Over the last few weeks I have heard several politicians say that credit markets need to be opened up so Americans can start spending more to improve the economy. Is this not like Marie Antoinette proposing the solution to the peasant’s bread shortage is to have them switch to cake?"

Juni zeroed in on this article: AIG failure would be disastrous for global markets

From Aaron N.: The Most Important Messages From the 4Q GDP Report

Items from The Economatrix:

Dow Falls Below 7,000; Lowest Since '97

AIG Posts $61.7B 4Q Loss, Bailout is Restructured [JWR Notes: The American taxpayers will be the "insurer of last resort", for CDS derivatives and other exotic instruments for many years to come. This debacle is far from over, and the MOAB's proportions are sure to expand. further.]

HSBC to Scale Back US Lending

140,000 British Manufacturing Jobs to be Lost This Year

FTSE 100 Falls to Six-Year Low

HSBC Shares Dive 19%

BofE to Pump Major Cash Into the Economy

Financial Crisis Hits World Markets

We Need Shock And Awe Policies to Halt Depression

Is Ireland Fated to Be Another Iceland?

JP Morgan/Chase Forecloses Despite Promised Freeze

CNBC Analyst: Global Bank, Global Currency Within 15 Years

The US Economy: Designed to Fail

Worst Job Losses in 60 Years Expected

Global "New Deal" to Lift World Out Of Slump [JWR Notes: Re-inflation of the credit bubble might forestall some outward manifestations for a while, but then the eventual economic collapse will be even more traumatic! Traditional liquidation must be allowed to happen, to work malinvestment out of the marketplace.]

Hungary Warns of "Economic Iron Curtain"

Rourke sent us this: An Asteroid Near Miss

   o o o

OSOM recommended this review of Joseph Tainter's book The Collapse of Complex Societies. This squares nicely with my views on the complexity and fragility of our modern, highly technological society with long and vulnerable chains of supply.

   o o o

Cheryl sent us this: Food for Guns in Dallas [JWR notes: Perhaps it would be better titled: "Trading Pottage for a Texas Birthright"]

   o o o

Cheryl also flagged this: Nationwide Ammo Shortage Hits US

"For what, after all, is the stimulus package attempting to stimulate? A restrained life of living within our means? No. It's stimulating consumption. All the big talk of get the credit markets moving again, banks healthy again, balance sheets strong again comes down to this: we need little Susie [Homemaker] to get a loan for a really cool new car she can live without, drive it to a shopping mall to buy cr*p she doesn't need with a credit card she shouldn't have, and return to a home mortgaged at a price higher than she can afford. That way, when she can't keep up with all of it, she'll have to fall back on other credit cards, and bank balance sheets will be strong again. Great!" - Jason Kelly

Monday, March 2, 2009

Review copies of the new edition of my novel "Patriots" available sometime in March. If you publish book reviews, or know of someone that has a large readership/audience and that is likely to write a favorable review, please e-mail me their current snail mail addresses.

Be advised that there will probably be only about 120 review copies available, so I will have to be very selective about who they go to. My publicist will of course be sending copies to the New York Times Book Review and the other major reviewers. But the list that I am developing is for conservative niche publications, bloggers, and broadcasters. Please don't take it personally if you don't get a copy. The priority will be dispassionately based on the greatest potential media exposure. My list of the highest priority reviewers for publicity at first glance are:

(Note: I already have addresses for any listings marked in bold. I need snail mail addresses for the rest. Thanks!

Jerry Ahern Sean Hannity Bill O'Reilly Charles Hugh Smith
Dale Amon Danny Hansen (SWAT Mag.) Michael Panzner Joe Soyer (Alphecca)
Massad Ayoob Hugh Hewitt Dr. Ignatius Piazza Ryan
Michael Bane Joe Huffman Jerry Pournelle S.M. Stirling
Glenn Beck Dean Ing John Pugsley John Stossel

Barton Biggs

Laura Ingraham Steve Quayle Les Stroud
Jim Bohannon Jeff Jarvis Michael Reagan Gabe Suarez
Bill Bonner David Kopel Dr. Arthur B. Robinson Mark Steyn
Neal Boortz Larry Kudlow John Ross Andrew Sullivan
Dr. Bruce Clayton Rush Limbaugh Kenneth Royce George Ure
Ann Coulter G. Gordon Liddy Glenn Reynolds Oleg Volk
Clayton Cramer James Lileks Howard J. Ruff Eugene Volokh
James Dakin Christian Lowe (DefenseTech) Richard Russell (Dow Theory Ltr.) Michael Z. Williamson
Dave (of Captain Dave's) Michelle Malkin Matt Savinar Claire Wolfe
David at Random Nuclear Strikes Chris Matthews Kurt Saxon Xavier (of Xavier's Thoughts)
Vox Day Richard Maybury Peter Schiff
Lou Dobbs Don McAlvany Tim Schmidt (USCCA) Commander Zero
Larry Elder Declan McCullagh Walter Shapiro Tamara _ _ _ _ (of the BBB Blog)
Joseph Farah Michael Medved Mish Shedlock  
Frugal Squirrel's Melanie Morgan Laurence Simon  
Seth Godin Dr. Gary North Joel Skousen  
Jeff Goldstein Ted Nugent Mark Skousen  

Have I overlooked anyone that is likely to provide significant publicity for the new book? If so, please let me know their e-mail and snail mail addresses, via e-mail. Many thanks!

The publicist from Ulysses Press will mail out the complimentary review copies as soon as they are available.

Be advised that the "Patriots" cover illustrations here are available under license for publication or posting with book reviews, Wiki pages, or in book catalogs,

The tentative release date is April 8, 2009, which will also be our Book Bomb Day. Many thanks for your help on making the new edition. God willing, it will wake up some sheeple, and encourage some substantive preparedness!

Mr. Rawles

I've worn contact lenses for all of my adult life. On your published advice, I've also bought two pair of inexpensive glasses, from LBEeyeware--a company mentioned in SurvivalBlog That was great advice. ($23 per pair, complete? You can't beat that!) The glasses are the correct prescription, but after so many years of wearing contacts, glasses feel downright "clunky" to me. I worry about breaking them, much more than I ever worried about losing or tearing a contact. My question is: What should I do about spare contact lenses and solutions? Should I skip them--and just plan to wear glasses when the "Schumer Hits the Fan"--or, should I stock up? Thanks for your amazing web site and great books. I'm taking the 10 Cent Challenge! you can expect my payment in silver dimes, ASAP! - Pat in Georgia

JWR Replies: Thanks for bringing up a topic that I've meant to address for quite some time. If you feel more comfortable wearing contacts, then I see no reason why you shouldn't stock up on spare disposable soft contacts and extra bottles of saline and cleaning solutions. Just one proviso: Do not try to "stretch" your supply by going longer between discarding sets of contacts. Getting an eye infection would be tragic, especially in the midst of a disaster. Once you've used up your contact lens supplies, just switch to wearing your eyeglasses.

One excellent source for very inexpensive contact lenses and supplies is Since they are a SurvivalBlog affiliate advertiser, we get a little piece of the action when you place an order, if you use our link to their site. So this is a good way to both get prepared, and to help support SurvivalBlog. Thanks!


The need for usable skills in tough times, goes without need for embellishment. The grand question is: which skills are the most valuable? In any situation the basic needs are obvious – food, shelter, and clothing. Choosing what I would concentrate on learning, became predicated on what I could do, and what the community could provide in stressful times.

I moved some time ago from the gulf coast to Tennessee to retire and begin preparing for the coming events. I moved into a community which is pretty much self sufficient, mostly by religious choice. Livestock husbandry ranges from cattle (mostly for milk), goats to chickens, hogs and horses.

I began to raise goats several years ago, starting with Boer cross. After several discussions I have crossed them with a strain of milk goat to reduce the size (and therefore the quantity of meat to be preserved) and gain the benefit of milk products. I researched the process of cheese making and using products initially supplied from New England Cheese Makers, learned the processes. It was very interesting to discover that the rennin (for assisting in cheese making) actually comes from the stomach of ruminators, another by product of the goats.

Preserving meats became my next concern. When talking to many folks, they believe that they will just run out and kill fresh meat when needed. Not only will the game be decimated in no time, but without a method of preservation it is wasteful. Preferred methods around here are smoking, honey and salt boxes for curing and preserving. The use of honey as a preservative turns out to be one of the very best. Honey has a natural bacteria inhibitor, and curing smoked meats in honey just makes life better. This in turn has determined the need for bees – My neighbor already has a couple of hives which produces enough for now. The use of honey reduces the dependence on obtaining sources of salt. In addition they are many maple trees in the area which folks tap during the winter and early spring. Many families have ponds a raise fish, which are canned by cold packing or salting and drying.

Having fresh water is a paramount concern. Even with a spring the water quality can change with the amount of rain causing algae blooms. These can range for digestive distress to just foul taste. The stream water cannot be used without treatment, as we have otters, beavers, coyote, foxes, and a whole range of other critters, so amoeba type problems are probable. Boiling water is the surest, but is often not the most practical. Any numbers of excellent water filters are available, but the Big Berky is the most popular here. In any case the water has to be pre-filtered to remove organic matter. This can be done by straining through a clean cloth, then passing through/over a disinfecting agent such as a silver compound, or the addition of non-detergent bleach. The next best is a cistern collecting rain fall, but even this can have issues as it tends to clean smoke dust and pollen from the air on its way down.

As for the vegetable gardens the goats do help with the fertilizer which is composted and added to the garden. The area I live in is pretty much a “rock farm” so there is a constant need to remove the rocks from the garden areas and add in soil from the hills behind us. This soil is usually pretty acidic with all of the hardwood trees. Most folks use lime from the feed stores – haven’t found a good substitute yet.

Clothing is one of the details that I have struggled with. The ability to produce cloth is beyond most of us. Wool makes for great outer wear, but lousy underwear. Goat hair can be made into quite durable garments, somewhat at the expense of comfort. We have chose to use GI surplus wool socks, sweaters, BDUs (because they are very durable) and purchase and store long and regular underwear. We do have a real cobbler in the community that does make very nice shoes/boots, but I still have a back up pair. Many women here weave or quilt (using discarded clothing as well as new cloth). I do keep some “unisex” clothing on hand for whomever – mostly in the form of overalls. They are fairly cheap and commonly worn in the area, and during the cold weather are an additional layer. We have had most days at or below freezing and night down to zero. I have looked into tanning leather – it is a noxious process and can be done. I am choosing to have the hides tanned while I still can and store them against the future need as clothing.

Our cabin is solid cedar timbers, and smells great! The downside is that there is a constant need to stay on top of the chinking and calking, to reduce drafts – I’ve used 22 tubes already this winter. We thought that pellet stove would be a great idea – wrong. First it requires electricity. With the power out you have to fire up the generator which is noisy and uses expensive fuel. Second the stove can burn corn or compressed hardwood pellets. Corn is food or the animals and us, and tough enough to grow enough as is. Besides using the corn leaves the odor of burned popcorn as exhaust. Compressed wood pellets are used on an average of 80# per day at a cost of ~$9.00 / day. Pulling the stove this spring and going to a straight quality wood burning stove that can be used to cook on. To back up a wood burning stove an axe, buck saw, splitting wedges or a maul, and or chain saw are required based on how much free time you can devote to it. Setting aside wood requires a year round effort to keep from killing yourself. Although we have electricity I do have a pitcher pump ready to install in the event it is needed. And have simple kerosene lanterns for light. I prefer the straight wick models, as the mantels have become very had to come by recently.

Health concerns in rural living also means, that you have to have a working knowledge of first aid and basic medicine. The Red Cross has good courses on first aid and the older Boy Scout manuals give an acceptable knowledge as well. Around here there is a good deal of herbal medicine practiced. This is good for preventive and minor issues. I have chosen to invest in some older college texts on anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology, and a physician’s desk reference. These books help in diagnosing, but will be of minimal help if/when the main line drugs are not available. They are great for showing how to stitch and bandage wounds more severe than the first aid books cover. We keep a well stocked medicine chest with off the shelf medicines, and rotate them as needed. As we find local remedies that are effective, we also include them (i.e. willow bark tea as a substitute for aspirin).

I have learned rudimentary blacksmith skills, and collected some of the tools as well as books on the subject. I can fashion horseshoes, wheel rims, forge weld, make cut nails and a few other tasks as required. There are many better skilled in this community and it will be more time efficient to trade/buy their services.

I have a full time gunsmithing business which has been sorely needed in this area – seems like everyone has one that they need fixed. So much for a retirement business….

The acquisition of books, and how to reading material can spell the difference between existence and some degree of comfort. In addition it is my considered opinion the education of young people is severely unbalanced. The possession of text books, classics, and recreational reading allows one to educate children when contact is limited. The community has a long history of home schooling. These kids routinely pass the high school exit exams (same tests as the state requires for graduation) with higher scores, and at an earlier age. Most parents seek out folks whom are well versed to teach the children. Oh yea, one by product is that the kids are very respectful, and thoughtful.

In conclusion I thought that preparation for tougher times meant more beans, bullets, and bullion. As it turns out, the retraining of my mind and attitudes has presented the larger challenge. Understanding how you store food, is nearly as important as what you store. What you can make is as important as what you can do without (toilet paper?) Knowing that one person cannot do all that is required, only means that you learn the skills to assist your community which will supplement everyone’s survival/ quality of life. I thought that being retired would allow me to kick back and enjoy some good libations. It has turned out to be the greatest learning curve of my life – and I love it. Jim’s preparedness course is a great place to start. But the real preparedness is in the doing! - Dennis S.

Greetings -
Regarding non-resident concealed weapon permits [recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog], folks should be very careful. Anyone thinking of doing this should consult a lawyer or carefully read their home state's firearms laws. In many states, another state's concealed firearm permit is invalid if you are a resident of the state [in which you do not have a CCW permit.] In other words, if you live in Georgia, Georgia may have a law that says your Florida non-resident permit is invalid for concealed carry in Georgia, because as a Georgia resident, you must have a permit issued by Georgia. Consult your state's laws before relying on Florida non-resident permit reciprocity to keep you legal.

Also, be advised that some states are starting to modify their reciprocity agreements. Wyoming just did this...their Attorney General has issued an opinion that reciprocity only works if the disqualification and other permit criteria matches between states. For example, if Wyoming has more strict disqualification criteria for a permit than some other state, that state's permits are will not be honored even though they might have been honored in the past. regards, - JT in Michigan

JWR's Introductory Comment: Gee, in light of all the following very bad economic news, can someone please send me something cheery to post? Perhaps some more articles about gun makers making record profits and building huge order backlogs?

Frequent contributor HPD sent this: Brown told us not to question banks on risky practices, says City watchdog

Reader "Bigbird" mentioned a piece in The Australian by Niall Ferguson with some biting criticism of Keynesian economics: The Great Repression

CJB flagged this news story on the Chinese economy: China warns of unemployment risk

GG sent us this one from Smart Money: Nothing Shines Like Gold. "Amazingly, just a month ago, gold and the S&P 500 were trading at about the same price — gold at $854, the S&P 500 at 840. From there, stocks have fallen 10% to near their bear-market lows of last November, while gold has risen as much as 16%."

GG also sent this piece by Michael Klare at Salon: We're on the brink of disaster: Violent protests and riots are breaking out everywhere as economies collapse and governments fail. War is bound to follow. It sounds a lot like the next stage of my warnings penned in September of 2006: is coming to pass. I wrote: "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."

JHB sent us the link to this history lesson: How Americans Lost Their Right to Own Gold

KT and Charley S. both spotted this piece from a Le Monde: editor, commenting on the most recent LEAP analysis: After the Financial Crisis, Civil War? Get Ready to "Leave Your Region ..." (BTW, I used to consider the LEAP papers quite sensationalistic and OTT (in part because of some atrocious French-to-English translation work), but they have been largely accurate in the past 18 months.)

KT also forwarded an article link on counterfeiting of gold bullion and numismatic coins. JWR's Advice: If you plan to buy or someday barter for any gold coins, protect yourself with a set of Fisch coin-checking gauges.

Jon Christian Ryter asks: What happens when the whole economy sinks underwater?

HD liked this article from The International Herald Tribune: EU chiefs attempt to cool bloc's crisis

Tom W. thought this news story from England was worthy reading: MI5 On Alert for Bank Riots

KAF forwarded this: Depression Cooking Teaches You to Cook Really, Really Cheaply

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Ben B. sent this: Jim Rogers sees civil unrest in the US

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A bit of food storage humor, courtesy of reader Larry T.: The "Worst Food Product Ever" May Have Been Found. Is it cheaper in case lots? ;-)

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Fitzy in Pennsylvania flagged this Lou Dobbs Journal piece on CNN: 2nd Amendment Under Attack

"When watching men of power in action it must be always kept in mind that, whether they know it or not, their main purpose is the elimination or neutralization of the independent individual -- the independent voter, consumer, worker, owner, thinker -- and that every device they employ aims at turning man into a manipulatable "animated instrument," which is Aristotle's definition of a slave." - Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal of Change (1963)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I just heard that Paul Harvey passed away. He was a fine, patriotic American. Appropriately, two of today's blog posts deal with "The Rest of the Story." Someday, we'll meet Paul in heaven. And also Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus.


The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $935. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) Another "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $700, in today's market. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

3.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

When Christians talk of self-defense and their reaction to violence in general, they frequently speak of turning the other cheek. While I would not attempt to dissuade someone from that point of view I have always been against that type of pacifism in the face of violence – particularly in the case of deadly violence. In the extreme example of self-defense against someone who wants to kill you – people who advocate turning the other cheek advocate throwing away God’s gift of life or worse yet not defending those you love when their lives are threatened. That I could not do, after all Christ Himself said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:14

Also, according to the Old Testament people are allowed to defend against thieves.

“If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed” Exodus 22:2

Trying to steal the rest of your life – or the lives of your loved ones – is certainly stealing from my point of view.

For those of you who will say we should turn the other cheek and depend upon the police or government, to defend us from deadly threats or criminal activity – would you bet your life on it? Is paying someone else to defend you and yours somehow more honorable and Christian? Even if the police just happen to be in the area at the critical moment, the courts have determined that government has no duty to defend any particular citizen. Please read that sentence again! This may seem hard to believe, but it is from an appellate court decision in the case of Warren v. District of Columbia circa 1981. A group of women were attacked in their home and called the police for help. The police failed to respond and for the next 14 hours these women were under the direct control of the brutal intruders. The women later sued, but the court found in favor of the government under the fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen. Most people have no idea that this is the case. You cannot depend upon the government to protect you. If you don’t believe me look up the case for yourself.

Why, you may ask, would I want to write about this? It may seem far removed from our church today. However, there have been a number of cases lately where churches have been the target of violent and deadly attacks. In just about all of them the people there were probably under the assumption that they were immune from these attacks. A few recent examples of these attacks are the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee where two congregants were killed in July of 2008, The New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado where another two were killed in December of 2007 (this church had armed guards so they were prepared for something to happen), thus only two members were killed. The First Congregational Church in Neosho, Missouri where three were killed in August of 2007, the shooting at The Ministry of Jesus Christ Church in North Baton Rouge, Louisiana in May of 2006 where fie were killed, and the shooting at the Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wisconsin where seven were killed in March of 2005. I could go on but I think my point has been made.

Whatever the reason for the attacks our course is clear: we, as Christians, must defend ourselves and our church against such attacks by whatever means available. This has been how some of these shootings were stopped. In one case the shooter was subdued by members of the congregation, in another the shooter was killed by a member of the congregation who was serving as a guard. In the others the shooter killed himself or just left the church when he was “done” with the shooting. Which outcome would you prefer to see? The shooter subdued or killed by the congregation or to be allowed to shoot until he is “done?” I prefer one of the first two options.

Am I advocating armed guards at our church? I am not, I just want people to know that it can happen and we can and should be prepared to defend ourselves – to throw the good book at our attacker! After all, when protecting one's family or neighbors, a Christian is unselfishly risking his or her life for the sake of others. How can that be a bad thing?

Let us look at turning the other cheek, as Jesus says: “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:39

Yet even Jesus did not do this in the literal sense! When he was struck in the face by one of the officials while being questioned by the high priest he does not turn the other cheek. Instead he says:

“If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” John 18:23

We can see too from his actions that Jesus himself was not completely non-violent. After all, he did go after the moneychangers in the temple with a whip!

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” John 2:14-15

If someone came after you with a whip and overturned your tables and generally made a wreck of the area, would you say that was non-violence? No you’d probably call the police and want him taken away! Was Jesus turning the other cheek in this case? I think not. He saw a wrong and righted it through violent means. Also, prior to his crucifixion, Jesus revealed to his disciples the hostility they faced in the future and gave them the following advice:

“But now, whoever has a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet. Whoever has none, let him sell his cloak, and buy a sword.” “The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That is enough,’ he replied.” Luke 22:36 & 38

He asked if they had weapons. When they said they did he did not rebuke them, but instead said they had enough. To me this is proof that they were allowed to defend themselves if needed.

Later, when Jesus is betrayed by Judas at the Garden, Peter draws his sword and asks,

“Lord, should we strike with our swords?” Luke 22:49

He apparently does not wait for an answer and strikes Malchus, the servant of the high priest and cuts off his ear. This does not make Jesus happy and he says:

"Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" John 18:11

And [a parallel verse] from Mathew:

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Mathew 26:52-54

Note that Jesus does not rebuke Peter for trying to defend Him. He rebukes him for trying to change what must happen, the pre-ordained future that God has laid out for Jesus. Despite the appearance of their being outnumbered by the others, Jesus says He could call in more than 12 legions (a legion is 1,000) of angels. This would easily overpower the group of people there to assist in and/or view the arrest of Jesus. In Mathew’s version He does say that those who draw the sword will die by the sword, but is that an admonition against all use of weapons to defend oneself? The people coming to arrest Jesus were not threatening His life at that point, so Peter really had no justification for violence against them.

This being said, it is clear to me that defending Christianity using violence is not allowed. If your religion is being attacked or you are being attacked for your religion, you are not allowed to use force. In fact, I believe that this is the true meaning of turning the other cheek. True Christians do not attack people who attack their faith. They turn the other cheek – they take the abuse of their faith. For example, Stephen does not fight back or even try to escape when he was stoned for his testimony about Jesus.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed,

"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Acts 7:59-60

And Jesus says that Christians will be persecuted to the end.

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mathew 10:22

Of course it is a personal decision to defend yourself or others. However, in a fallen world like ours, we all need to think about these things ahead of time so that we have an idea what course we may take if we are ever put into the position of having to choose. It’s too late to do much thinking at that point, that is the time for action. - Tim P.

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you I enjoy your blog daily and have read it almost from the start. I am currently in Iraq a little North of Joint Base Balad. On the local economy the Iraqi Dinar is 1000 dinars to 1 American dollar. However, the past few months if you want to pay with American dollars in the local economy, they are discounting it by 66%. What 1000 dinars buys, 1 dollar used to buy. Now it cost 3 dollars. At the local Iraqi police academy there is a stall that sells a type of coconut candy bar that I enjoy. They are now sold "three for 1000 Dinars" or one for one American dollar. It is amazing watching dirt poor Iraqis look at the dollar with disdain.

Keep up the good fight! - Clement in Iraq

Mr. Rawles:
I, as well as possibly tens of thousands of my fellow Americans, are extremely fearful that the United States Government is slowly becoming like the former Soviet Union and that the day will come when the citizenry is in serious trouble. I continue to prepare as best I can for my family in the event it all comes crashing down but I cannot see where I will prevail long against American soldiers, police, and gangs that might try to harm me and my family. I am further afraid because I do not know Jesus Christ as my Savior and it seems that I cannot find a way in which to communicate with Him. Just know that there are those of us who look up to you for advice and comfort and please keep up the fine work that you do on our behalf. Respectfully, - John B. in Colorado

JWR Replies: The wonderful thing about Christ's love is that there is no intermediary required. He knows all of his elect by name. Salvation is yours, if you merely ask for it. Just open you heart in prayer. Ask first for His forgiveness, recognize Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection. That is salvation in a nutshell. Once saved, ask for guidance, providence, and protection.

Please don't look to me as an authority for any advice on truly big survival issues. I just know a few little nuts and bolts on preparedness. The big, substantive issues are all matters for prayer. Trust in God to put you in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. To start, I can offer a couple of pieces of encouragement, found in scripture: In the New Testament, see Philippians 4:13, and in the Old Testament, see: Psalm 91. My recommended initial reading for anyone not familiar with the Bible is the book of John. All things are possible, through Christ, who gives us strength!

Reader Bill N. asks: "Did you ever wonder what those markings spray-painted on doors by FEMA in New Orleans meant?" This PDF shows the codes.

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BRB and Jim E. both mentioned a design for a ram (water-powered) water pump, over at the Instructables site.

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Reader FS had this comment on the Obama administration's call to renew the 1994 gun and magazine ban: "So let's see if I understand this. Because Mexico can't keep it together, American's must disarm. If anything, having a violent and unstable neighbor is reason for our citizens to have more weapons, not less. Did you notice the association being made between grenades, machineguns and our semi-auto rifles? Their propaganda is getting rather transparent."

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One bit of good news is that the Democrat leadership in both the Senate and House don't yet sound ready to reinstate the 1994 Federal Ban. My gut tells me that they will just wait until the next time some kid on Ritalin "goes postal." .God willing, gun and magazine makers a few more months of production to catch up on their order backlogs. Speaking of which: Sturm Ruger reports that they have built a $48 million order backlog. Some other backlog updates, at last report (some of these figures may be OBE): Rock River Arms: 12+ weeks on lower receivers and "much longer" for complete rifles, CMMG: 15+ weeks. Stag Arms: 20-to-25 weeks. Bushmaster: 16 weeks "and growing". The lists goes on and on. The key question: Can you find what you need to round-out your firearms battery before a new ban is enacted? My advice: Be willing to drive to long distances and dedicate some weekend to attend gun shows in your state. Bring plenty of greenbacks. (Buy "private party", if possible in your state!) Oh yes, and be sure to get plenty of spare top-quality magazines. If there is a ban, 11+ round magazines will become scarce and very expensive in the US.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

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