September 2009 Archives

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today is "Book Bomb" Day for my new book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". My goal for the Book Bomb is a surge of orders is that will drive the book's Amazon sales rank into the top 50, overall. (When I last checked, it was at #160.) Many thanks for waiting to order until today!!


My scheduled guest appearance on the Laura Ingraham talk radio show has been postponed to Monday, October 5th. Sorry about the late notice.


Today we present the final entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail your entry for Round 25. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The C&R FFL, Milsurp Firearms, and Your Survival Battery, by The Alchemist

The survival battery is a key issue for any prepper, as one of the biggest short-term concerns in a SHTF scenario is security. Stored supplies and learned skills are all for naught if you can't protect the supplies from theft or survive to put those skills to use. While I would love for everyone to have a chance for a top of the line Main Battle Rifle (MBR), they do not run cheap, nor is the ammunition cheap these days. While modern rifles have undoubted advantages, there are also a large number of older weapons that remain capable, and which most citizens can buy online with a little paperwork.

To trade firearms in interstate commerce, one must have a Federal Firearms License - an FFL. Once upon a time one could acquire a Type 01 FFL (also known as a dealer FFL) as a "home FFL" at a reasonable price and without too much trouble, but since about the Clinton administration they've become much tighter - looking to allow only those selling firearms for a profit. One option still remaining to us mere citizens is the Curios and Relics (C&R) FFL or 03 FFL) is a "collectors" license which allows you to purchase firearms on the C&R list in interstate commerce. This means that you can buy C&R handguns out of state, or can buy online and have them shipped directly to you through a "common carrier". A purchase at a gun show or dealer on a C&R FFL can legally dispense with all the paperwork and checks normally required - a signed copy of your C&R and payment is all that is needed. The C&R list is comprised of all firearms over 50 years old as well as firearms determined by BATF to be of special collector value. Some short-barreled firearms and large caliber "destructive devices" have been released from NFA status on the C&R list. Others (including all machineguns to my knowledge) remain NFA items despite their C&R status.

Why would a survival prepper want C&R firearms? Despite their age, there are some very capable firearms on the C&R list. If you're looking for a nice bolt-action rifle there are plenty of WWII era rifles that are both affordable and extremely accurate, such as the Mosin-Nagant (Russian WWI and Soviet/Finnish WWII), the Mauser (German WWII and Czech post-WWII), and the [Schmidt-Rubin] K31 (Swiss). If you're looking for an MBR on a budget you can look for an SKS (7.62x39), an FN-49 (multiple calibers including 8mm Mauser, .308, 7mm Mauser, and 30-06), or an M1 Garand (30-06), all of which are reasonably capable weapons even today. In many cases these are almost new (or totally new) rifles placed in storage before being replaced with newer models. For a reasonable price (and a little cosmoline cleanup) you can have a durable, high-quality rifle.

For pistols, I like the the TTC/TT33 in 7.62x25 Tokarev as a rugged "beater" pistol for cheap target practice (how can one beat 11 cents per round these days?), and at 1,400-to-1,600 fps, full metal jacket 7.62x25 can often penetrate NIJ Level II body armor. For a nice little plinking pistol I like the CZ-82 in 9x18 Makarov - a nice $200 pistol in a reasonably capable cartridge. While I wouldn't recommend it as a primary sidearm, its capable enough to stash one with 1,000 rounds or so in a burial tube or a pre-positioned store, or simply to get some target practice with more recoil than a .22 in a low-cost package. You can find .45 pistols (including WWII era M1911s) and 9x19s as well, though demand has often pushed the price up near the new cost (or above for true collectors' items).

With a military surplus ("milsurp") C&R gun of the right caliber you should be able to take advantage of available surplus ammunition to reduce training costs. For the price of 400 rounds of .30-06 I can buy a Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle with 1,200 rounds of 7.62x54R ammunition (or 400 rounds and four Mosin-Nagant rifles). Once I have the cash I can add a "Dragunov" type (usually a Romanian PSL) as a longer-range MBR in the same caliber to round out the armory. And since this isn't a "pistol" caliber, you can purchase all the Armor Piercing (AP) or Armor Piercing -Incendiary (API) ammo you want. Sure, it isn't quite as sexy as a more modern solution (FAL/HK/M1A + .308 bolt action), but it'll save you $400 or more on the rifles alone. And don't discount the lower ammo costs - ammo turns money into skill. There's little point worrying about 2.5 MOA vs 1 MOA accuracy if your training limits you to 4 MOA.

The availability of modestly priced weapons also gives added flexibility when considering how to arm "guests" or how to have firearms available for trade in a SHTF scenario. A few bolt action rifles, battle carbines, or surplus pistols held in reserve can allow you to make guests useful in security or hunting without degrading the armories of the principal preppers. The more paranoid may also make sure that any new arrivals are using only "obscure" or "oddball" calibers (that you've stocked in some quantity) to encourage their loyalty - if you're the only source of ammunition for a particular rifle it remains most valuable when you're working in line with the goals of the primary preppers. It would certainly be preferable to only work with trusted individuals, but we do not control every situation we find ourselves in - only our reactions. One can have an option and not use it, but you can't use an option that you haven't given yourself.

Don't want a Federal FFL on your record? You can do almost as well by making friends with a C&R holder. A C&R is not a dealer license - you are not permitted to run a business on it, although incidental profits on sales are acceptable. A C&R holder may however purchase multiple firearms of the same type looking for a particularly high quality specimen - and as a friend you could offer to buy an uglier gun that's merely a "good shooter" from them. You both win in such a case - you get a nice firearm with little paper trail at a good price, and the C&R holder gets a better quality rifle for their collection. It should also be noted that as a C&R holder you do not need to go through an NICS check nor file form 4473, since the transfer is between FFL holders. Additionally, unlike a dealer FFL your bound book is your own, and does not need to be surrendered if the FFL expires. The ATF can request an inspection once per year while you hold the FFL, but cannot drop in randomly and must allow for off-site inspection of the firearms in the bound book and the bound book itself.

I would highly recommend that preppers consider a C&R license and firearms, particularly the military surplus weaponry, as a valuable resource. Cheap and rugged weapons together with lower-cost surplus ammunition make an attractive package - even if they're not your primary tactical weapon, they're perfectly functional as a secondary arm for hunting, scouting, or other such tasks. They're also very attractive for an emergency cache or a pre-positioned store, as the lower cost enables you to purchase more weaponry for your investment. This is one of the few crumbs the Feds have seen fit to leave us mere mortals - we may as well take advantage of it while we can!

Mr. Rawles,

Thank you for including the recent article on amateur radio in SurvivalBlog. I have been an amateur radio operator for about 35 years and have been playing with radios for over 40 years.

I am amazed with the depth of knowledge of the readers on your blog. In many of the topics covered, I know very little. I have one criticism of amateur radio operators concerning "emcon" or emergency communications. Many hams like to participate in the organized drills with their local Emergency Government officials. This is a big mistake in a SHTF scenario. Think of yourselves, your family, and those closest to you first.

While it may be advantageous to be on good terms with law enforcement, they really don't care about us. Public safety agencies pay millions of dollars on high tech, complicated communications systems. If they still fail in a TEOTWAWKI situation, any civilian communications gear can be seized, upon gunpoint, in an emergency. They may also be seized to prevent any civilian communications.

Most police lack user discipline on radios. They really don't understand radios. I consider a good working knowledge of communications as complicated as a working knowledge of firearms. We would use our firearms to protect ourselves and our loved ones first. Think of communications gear the same way. Forget about all of this nonsense about amateur radio as a "public service". Think of radios in terms of communications only. The license is not going to matter in a SHTF situation. Only your knowledge of radios and communications in general will make the difference. Best Regards, - Randall S.

Reader GG spotted this sobering piece: Corpse of a Thousand Houses. More foreclosures will soon be flooding the market, further depressing the housing market. This is the negative feedback loop (aka "death spiral") that I've been warning about since late 2006.

From El Jefe Jeff E.: US large-loan bank losses triple to $53 billion; Regulators say US lenders expected to lose $53 billion in 2009 on loans larger than $20M. Jeff's comment: "53 Billion is a lot to lose, and they were 'surprised' by the losses....I wonder what else is lurking that will cause these banks more surprises."

Also from Jeff E.: Economists React: “A Surprising Decline” in Orders

Reader Mike W. sent this advice from The Motley Fool on the US Dollar: Get Out Now!

Items from The Economatrix:

What's The Real Reason Banks Aren't Foreclosing?

Yen Hits 8-Month High on "Baffling" Fujii

Iceland One Year Later: Little Island, Big Trouble

Savers Losing Faith in Banks

Greenspan: The Fed is Above the Law And Answers to No One

No G-20 Reform, Just Cosmetic Patches

Money Figures Show There's Trouble Ahead

FDIC Bank Failures to Cost Around $100 Billion

Oil Prices Dip With Consumers Leery Over Economy

M. found a TED Talk about a very low tech wind generator built by a farmer in Malawi.

   o o o

The Other Jim R. mentioned this item in a Memphis newspaper: ATF tells Tennessee that a federal gun law trumps the state’s. JWR's comment: The new laws in Tennessee and Montana are bound to see court challenges. In my estimation, the Feds are in for a first class spanking when this eventually hits the appeals court level. There is no way that the ATF's bureaucratic proclamation will pass muster, in light of the Lopez decision. The language of the 10th Amendment is clear, and the interstate commerce clause cannot be stretched to include purely intrastate transactions. No Federal nexus means no Federal jurisdiction!

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Ready Made Resources has announced that they will have a free prize drawing, in the month October. The prize is a Columbia River M21-14SF M21 Special Forces- Combo Edge Knife, a $129 value.

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Jim M. alerted us to a New York Times article: Solar Power, Without All Those Panels

"If you are serious about preparedness, then it is time to get out of your armchair and start training and preparing. It will take time. It will take some sweat. It will take money. But once you’ve prepared, you can sleep well, knowing that you’ve done your best to protect and provide for your family, regardless of what the future brings. Don’t get stuck in the rut of simply studying preparedness. Unless the shelves in your pantry and garage are filling with supplies, and unless you are growing muscles and calluses, you are not preparing." - James Wesley, Rawles,
"How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tomorrow is "Book Bomb" Day! For maximum effect, please place your Amazon book order on Wednesday, September 30th. Many thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your article for Round 25. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This two part series of articles is meant to address a basic physiological need that may be severely threatened both in a TEOTWAWKI situation and any time a lesser emergency takes us out of our bubble of comfort and preparedness. That issue is warmth: specifically how you stay warm and avoid hypothermia when your car slides off the road in a snow storm or you don’t get out of dodge fast enough and find yourself hoofing it overland with only what you can carry, through rain and wind. Part two deals with the possibility you or a loved one or team mate is succumbing to the cold, how you can best treat your patient to stabilize and revive them most effectively. Throughout this article I will not only lay out some basic concepts, examples, and treatments, but just as importantly I will debunk some of the myths about cold weather survival. My qualifications come from numerous years leading wilderness trips in the mountains, alpine search and rescue operations, and teaching wilderness medicine at the university level to doctors, nurses, EMTs and paramedics, and laymen alike.

To begin with, it is easier to stay warm than to get warm. The classic newbie mistake when traveling outdoors in cold weather is invariably some variation of the following: you get up in the morning, and it is cold. You layer up, putting on your puffy down jacket and hat and gloves, eat a bite, strike camp, and make ready to move. You are cold and not real excited about taking off your many warm layers to start hiking, so you hoist your pack and set out. 15 minutes later you are warm, 30 minutes later you are hot, and 60 minutes later you stop to take off your warm layers, drink some water, adjust your boots and consult the map. Now soaked in sweat you cool rapidly, and before you finish your snack break you are chilly, so you toss your coat on. When it is time to get moving again, you do so with your coat still on. Every subsequent break follows the same pattern, so start moving warm, get hot, stop, get cold, put jacket on again and get hot again. This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Instead follow the habits of every mountaineer: start cool, almost cold in the morning. When you stop to rest, even before you get cold, throw on a warm layer. When you are ready to move again, drop the layer. You will avoid sweating and avoid wasting valuable calories to thermo-regulate. Stay warm, don’t get warm.

Notice in that piece I kept referring to layers. This is how you need to dress outdoors. A t-shirt and parka doesn’t cut it. You want a base layer (think polypropylene or wool or silk long underwear) amid layer (fleece pull over, wool sweater) and a shell layer (windproof/waterproof) at a minimum, with an option for a puffy layer like a down jacket or vest. How heavy and warm these layers are depends largely on the environment you anticipate, colder equals heavier. But the concept of layering stays the same. Notice what I did not include here: cotton. The oft repeated adage of wilderness medicine is: cotton kills. The cell structure of the cotton fabric collapses when wet, destroying its ability to insulate (keep you warm). Wet cotton in a cold environment is worse than nothing. Excellent in a desert for its breathability and also the same habit of retaining moisture and evaporating to keep you cool, in a cold environment is an invitation to disaster. Fabrics should be wool, silk, or synthetic. Wool and synthetic do not collapse when wet and will keep you warm even soaking wet (albeit not quite as warm, but better than nothing and much better than cotton). So the white cotton long johns you find at Wal-Mart are out. Invest in polypro or wool for you layers (don’t forget socks).

Why do I keep hammering away at sweat and cotton? Because moisture is the enemy when it comes to keeping you warm. Water conducts heat away from the body 15 times faster than air. You can survive a lot longer in 32 degree air than 32 degree water, whether you are immersed in it or because your clothes are wet.

So how to stay warm in the field? First, fuel the machine. We are talking food, calories, fats and carbs. No time for a diet, eating foods with a high fat content will keep you warm longer. I have been on winter expeditions where before going to bed each night my hot drink consists of hot cocoa powder, milk powder, peanut butter, a handful of chocolate chips, and a spoonful of butter or margarine, with brown sugar and topped off with hot water. Sounds terrible in August in the flat lands, but on a winter’s night the body craves it when the temperatures drop. While we are on the topic, let’s talk about sleeping warm. Aside from fueling the machine, you need to think of your sleeping bag as a thermos: keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. So don’t go to bed cold. Do jumping jacks, walk around, get in and do push-ups and rub your feet to get the blood flowing and get them warm. Start out warm in your bag and you will stay warm. A mat or pad is essential to getting you off the cold hard ground, not because it is hard, but because it is cold! Conduction will draw heat out of you all night long. I like a closed cell foam pad from my shoulders to knees because it is cheap, light, and nearly indestructible. Thermarest air pads are great and comfy but have the potential to leak air with extreme use. Pine boughs, pine needles, coiled rope, empty backpacks, clothes you aren’t wearing; all help keep you off the ground and warm. Speaking of clothes, there is the old saw about sleeping naked in your bag. This is really only applicable if the clothes you would be wearing are either: 1) cotton 2) wet or 3) constricting blood flow. And I usually overlook #2 if they are only damp. Otherwise wear you layers to bed and you’ll be warmer than if you had slept naked. Other tips: empty your bladder. Yes, I know it is cold out there and warm in your bag, but do you know how many kCal it takes to keep that ½-1 liter of urine in your bladder at 98.6 degrees? Lots! And that is energy that could be keeping you warm, so empty your bladder, feel better, be warmer. If it is a snow camping situation, do as most mountaineers do and use a pee bottle (be sure it has a different tactile feel in the dark than your regular water bottle). Yes, there are female adapters out there. Speaking of bottles, taking a hot water bottle to bed with you insulted in a wool sock and stashed in your sleeping bag at the foot to keep your toes warm or on your chest to keep your core warm. Done properly it will still be warm in the morning. If I’m not in bear country I keep a high energy snack close at hand for a midnight warmer; peanut butter, cheese, or chocolate all work well. Wearing a wool or synthetic hat to bed, which covers the ears, and scarf around the neck if your upper layers don’t zip up that high are also big time heat retainers. Avoiding the temptation to roll over and cover your face with your sleeping bag will keep your breath from condensing into water, possibly freezing, and then melting and wetting your sleeping bag when you pack up in the morning. A final consideration for sleeping warm addresses this issue of a potentially wet sleeping bag: down is warmer on a per/weight basis than any other insulation but clumps and fails entirely when wet. Synthetic is almost as light and warm as down, but will still insulate when wet. Cotton or square shaped Coleman brand type bags should be used as dog house liners or for indoor kid’s sleep-overs.

Take home points for staying warm and preventing hypothermia:

1) Fuel the machine

2) Stay dry

3) Sleep warm

4) These concepts are not for winter snow expeditions alone; most hypothermia happens in the fall and spring in what are normally considered “moderate” temps because people aren’t prepared or don’t consider the possibility of rain, wind, or nighttime.

Next time I will address signs and symptoms of hypothermia and how to treat it effectively in the field. - Lumberjack

Something I've often wondered about prepping, but have never seen addressed is the use of Crystal Radio sets for after TEOTWAWKI. Small, portable, and they don't require any electric source. There are some high performance sets out there that get not only AM [broadcast band 560-1700 KHz], but also shortwave.

I'd love to have some input from a knowledgeable individual as to the "best" unit from a prepping standpoint. The variety and cost spans the spectrum from under $10 at Radio Shack, to antique reproductions for over $500. Confusing to a novice, to say the least. But the technology seems to offer some terrific advantages. Here is a crystal set that seems to focus on purchasing performance, rather than nostalgia, or a beginners set (which seems to be most common).

It is ideal to input into "best" headsets and used the "best" antennas--possibly "best" complete package? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

I know there are receivers out there like the Freeplay that use dynamo / spring power. But the crystal radio is completely passive. There is no way for it to break it , with regular use. - Jack J.

JWR Replies: That is a good suggestion. Not only will this provide an EMP-proof back up radio, but it is a great way to teach youngsters the basics of electronics, detector designs, and radio wave propagation. The crucial spares to lay in, in depth, are headphones of the properly-matched impedance. Headphones are by far the most fragile part of the receiver. Also, be advised that in the long term, germanium crystals will eventually develop "dead spots" after contact with a cat's whisker, so it is a good idea to buy some extra crystals or germanium diodes. These are also good "second order" barter items, for those dreaded multi-generational scenarios.

El Nino Shift Could Boost Hurricanes and Intensify Droughts

   o o o

EMB mentioned a useful solar energy calculator.

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FG mentioned: Sweden selling 27 year old canned rations to the public

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Garnet sent an interesting article on where Americans are, and are not moving: Americans Tame Their Wanderlust

"There is no substitute for mass. Mass stops bullets. Mass stops gamma radiation. Mass stops (or at least slows down) bad guys from entering a home and depriving its residents of life and property. Sandbags are cheap, so buy plenty of them. When planning your retreat house, think: medieval castle." - James Wesley, Rawles,
"How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just two days to "Book Bomb" day for my new book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". My goal for the day is to create a surge of orders to drive the book's Amazon sales rank into the Top 100, overall. So please wait until September 30th to order. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th. Get busy writing an article for Round 25. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I was speaking with a friend recently who mentioned he still has a generator in the box taking up space in his garage.  It has been there for ten years.  He did not know what to do during the Y2K panic so he spent money to make himself feel better.  I am not knocking the value of a good generator.  I have used mine for almost twenty years.  However, purchasing a generator he did not know how to use without at least buying some gasoline to go with it was a waste of money.  It has been said the humans are the only creature that move faster once they realize they are lost.  I am sharing my experiences for the benefit of those who do not have a lot of training or experience in preparedness that they may go just slow enough to make good decisions while moving fast enough to be effective.

I was first referred to as “a survivalist” twenty-five years ago by local authorities during a routine traffic stop.  Still a teenager, I had saved my Christmas money to purchase my first rifle, an AR-7 survival rifle.  I had to explain to the nice officers why it was broken down in the back seat of my father's car.  I dressed like the cover of a survival magazine during my high school and early college years and my appearance had brought me the attention I thought I wanted.  This teenage self-expression included camouflage pants and a black T-shirt accented by a defused hand grenade hanging from a chain around my neck.  I quickly learned the attention this drew was not in my best interest.  Today I look like every other clueless rat in the race.

It is not just the blatant activity described above that draws unwanted attention.  Someone asked recently how to keep their nosey neighbors from watching them bring in supplies.  I advised her to buy several identical plastic tubs.  Each time she goes out, an empty tub will go with her and return full.  The world sees just one tub going back and forth and incorrectly assumes it is the same one each time.  Absent evidence to the contrary, people tend to see what they expect.

Lesson One: Lay low and don't make the big mistake.  Appear to be someone not worth noticing.

Throughout the years I grew in my training and expertise.  I became a firefighter and HazMat technician, shooting sports and wilderness survival instructor.  The same skills for which I was previously viewed as a threat now brought me acceptance and admiration.  After 911 they honored me at events and put me in parades.  My key to success was preparation in both skills and provision.  The most expensive piece of equipment in the hands of someone who does not know how to use it is worthless.   The converse is also true.  The more skilled one becomes, the less likely they are to think they need the latest gadget.  Over the years the tools in my fire gear and my survival kit became more refined allowing me to do more with less.

For example, knowing several ways to purify water without spending several hundred dollars on a filter system allowed me to allocate first funds to food storage and firearms.  If tribulation should come before I am fully prepared (if that is possible), I can provide food, water, and protection for my family.  I would love to have a bigger filter system, but because of my knowledge level, I am able to better prioritize.

Lesson Two: Knowledge makes a little provision go a long way. 

The other day I went to visit a friend from high school that I had not seen in years.  He proudly showed me not only his gun collection but those of a mutual acquaintance who keeps his at his home.  Some were sitting in a wooden gun cabinet with a glass front.  Most were lying in gun racks mounted to walls in the spare bedroom.

In my home you will not see one gun or a large cabinet that would be a bullseye for any thief who might kick in the door.  Those are kept safely in a secure and innocent-looking location that would not get a second look.  An inexpensive assemble-it-yourself bookcase with a few inches cut off the back of most shelves makes an excellent cache.  Trim the back panel to fit within the frame of the bookcase and use a hook and eye lock to secure the top of the bookcase to the wall.  This hidden cache holds several guns locked to the unit and the wall with a cable lock through the trigger guards. 

Lesson Three: The best defense is to not become a target in the first place.

Many of my friends are buying and storing a year's supply of freeze dried food as they did for Y2K.  I am not doing so now nor did I in the Fall of 1999.  I personally do not enjoy eating freeze dried food.  Perhaps it is because I was raised in Amish country, but I have always stored and rotated my food.  This is not to say that I never buy food for long-term storage, but that I am selective in buying those things which I can get locally, inexpensively, and actually want to eat.  The rest I rotate through my pantry. 

The other day a friend of mine sent me a link to a web site where I could purchase fifty pound bags of grain for three times what it sells for locally.  It has not been specially prepared for long-term storage nor is it significantly different in quality.  In the Bible, Joseph stored grain for seven years without packing it in nitrogen.  This grain is marketed as a preparedness product at a price that covers shipping and a higher profit margin.  To most efficiently allocate my funds, I segment provisions into three categories:

  1. Bulk items I can buy locally and inexpensively that can be stored for the long term
  2. Items I usually eat that can be stored in a pantry and rotated through over several months
  3. Things that must be purchased from preparedness providers because they are the only source

Using this method, I can provide variety and nutrition for my family for less than the average family spends going on one vacation. 

Lesson Four: We don't have to spend thousands of dollars on food we don't really want to eat.

Rule number one of wilderness survival is Don't Panic! This warning is equally relevant in any survival situation.  While time is of the essence, I would not recommend anyone without experience  quit their job in the city and move directly to a secluded retreat.  I have talked to several people who just this year planted their first garden.  The quantity of errors and problems they experienced are too many to include here.  Although I am from the country, I married a city girl and currently live on a postage stamp in a small city.  This permits us to continue to earn money and improve our country retreat until the last possible minute while visiting on the weekend.   

I have found the best way to buy and own retreat property is through a housing cooperative or land trust.  Although seldom used for rural land, cooperatives have successfully owned and occupied housing in New York City since the 1800s.  Instead of an individual purchasing a few acres at a premium price because each parcel must be surveyed, title examined, deeded, etc, a cooperative is a group of people who together purchase a large tract of land by forming a nonprofit corporation.  The property is deeded to the corporation with the rights to occupy individual parcels guaranteed through an occupancy agreement.  Advantages of a housing coop include lower price per acre, anonymity of ownership, and protection for creditors. 

Lesson Five: Don't Panic – One small preparation every day will produce the best long-term results.  

Whether surviving a wilderness emergency or social unrest, our attitude and ability have a lot more to do with our success than the products we purchase.  We do not have to drastically change our way of life until circumstances change it for us.  These small things done over time will produce great results.  While there are necessities to secure, the most valuable asset we have is ourselves.  An investment in us pays the highest return.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have a few suggestions to add to the recent article about survival and preparedness for diabetics, particularly type 1 diabetics. I've had type 1 diabetes for 13 years and one of the few things I learned pretty quickly is that the power will go out and even if the bottle of insulin is unopened, temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a long period of time will degrade the activity of the insulin. This will require a much higher dose than what would otherwise be necessary if the insulin is stored properly, if the insulin works at all. Some of the newer insulins will not survive more than a month at room temperature, and less if they're opened.

A few other suggestions on diabetes survival:
1. Be familiar with how to use all types of insulin, because there would not be any guarantee of a specific insulin type being available for use in an emergency situation. Nor would there likely be doctors and nurses familiar with anything other than humulin Regular and NPH (which are considered to be "old" insulins and are more familiar to those who went to medical school twenty years ago.) Be prepared to revert back to "feeding the insulin", meaning taking a rigid schedule of two or three injections daily and eating evenly spaced meals of specific amounts of carbohydrate, instead of eating various amounts at different times of day and using several injections of the newer, fast insulins to cover. Those insulins may not be available, and so a "normal" diet would be out of the question.
2. Know how much insulin you need, and how to measure this amount in any type of syringe. Like before, insulin syringes with .5 unit/1unit/2 unit measure may not be widely available.
3. If you do not immediately have insulin available, try to keep in mind what was done prior to its invention in the 1920s, starvation. They knew that carbohydrate seemed to make diabetes worse, and eating large amounts of carbohydrate increased the amount of sugar in the urine. So to prevent this, carbohydrates were restricted. It's much like a very strict form of the Atkins diet, but even protein is reduced to small amounts, because protein is eventually converted to glucose. There are books from the 1900s on recipes and menus to use to starve diabetic patients, as well as some of the "old-fashioned" methods of screening for glucose in the urine and blood, one good book is freely available on the gutenberg online library web site called The Starvation Treatment of Diabetes. Starvation would not be a viable long-term option because of the obvious end result, but would serve some for a short period of time until insulin becomes available to them. It would kill a diabetic faster, however, to continue to eat normally without insulin.

I have a 6 month stockpile of diabetes supplies, as well as translations of my current insulin regimen using different types of insulins and a plan on how to follow a starvation diet. For 1 month on a standard two injections per day of Regular and NPH insulin, testing urine glucose twice or three times per day and assuming blood glucose meters are unavailable, one would need:
2 bottles of Keto-Diastix strips (measures glucose and ketones in the urine; once opened, a bottle will last 3 months)
1 box of U100 insulin syringes (100 syringes - 60 syringes used in one month = 40 syringe surplus)
1 box of 100 alcohol swabs
1 or 2 bottles of Regular insulin
1 or 2 bottles of NPH insulin
4 bottles of 50ct glucose tablets (which would likely not be completely used)
2 16 oz bottles of light corn syrup (a very efficient method for reversing hypoglycemia/low blood sugar)

Diabetes has really only become complicated to manage in the years since the invention of blood glucose meters and excess information. Those of us with type 1 diabetes have been convinced that in order to "survive" we need so many little pieces of expensive technology, super fast "boutique" insulins and constant monitoring of our glucose levels, so that we are utterly lost if these things aren't available to us. There are type 1 diabetics alive today who "survived" very well on one or two injections of beef or pork insulin a day, testing their urine for glucose using Benedict's solution, and avoiding "sugary" foods. If they can do it and live to be 60, we all can. Thank you, -- Amber C.

That was good info from Mr Fenwick. A great attitude for everyone to emulate.

As a type 2 diabetic I wonder if part of the Diabetics problem might be solved naturally in the worst case of TEOTWAWKI.

I lost 25 lbs and lowered my blood sugar by 50 to 75 points. The weight came from a period of inactivity after multiple surgeries. I rarely need insulin except when I fall off my diet. Oral meds take care of it normally and I am now able to exercise some. More weight loss is in my near future. My M.D. says Diet & exercise will take care of it when the weight stabilizes at my proper weight.

Considering my experience and from all I read, I'd guess many Diabetics will be helped by lowered food consumption and exercise brought on by TEOTWAWKI. Possibly to the point of needing no meds. I am hoping for that result. - E.H.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to: Dollar under scrutiny at G20 summit

Lost Vegas: Living Underground in Flood Tunnels. In Las Vegas, 1 in every 33 homes is in foreclosure. Where did all the people go? The answer might surprise some. There are an estimated 700 troglodytes live beneath Las Vegas.. Do they realize the mortal danger in the uncommon event of a flood? (A tip of the hat to David R. for the link.)

From Jim D.: Social Security strained by early retirements. An ever bigger budget deficit!

Items from The Economatrix:

FDIC is Broke, Taxpayers at Risk

Mission Accomplished: Part 1, Wrecking of the World's Greatest Economy

Sweet Spots (The Mogambo Guru)

UK: Investors "Panic Buy" Other Currencies as Sterling Slides

When Housing is Priced in Gold

Retirements in Peril: US System Full of Holes

Ambrose: Germany Declares Economic War

Japan Abandons America

House Passes Bill To Prevent Government Shutdown

Bailout Money for Smaller Banks Being Weighed

G-20 Leaders Declare Summit a Success

Damon (one of our most regular link contributors) referred us to some useful "how to" pieces on Do-it-Yourself butchering at Backwoods Home, and on You Tube.

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Kevin A. suggest ed this useful post: Checklist for Hard Times

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KAF sent this: Debate Rages Over Federal Control of the Web in a Crisis

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Safecastle has announced their final Mountain House sale for 2009, that runs from September 28 to October 11th. They are offering 25% off on All Mountain House canned long-term storage foods.

"The foundational morality of the civilized world is best summarized in the Ten Commandments. Moral relativism and secular humanism are slippery slopes. The terminal moraine at the base of these slopes is a rubble pile consisting of either despotism and pillage, or anarchy and the depths of depravity. I believe that it takes both faith and friends to survive perilous times." - James Wesley, Rawles,
"How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Please wait until "Book Bomb" Day-- September 30th -- to place your order for my new book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". They won't be able to ship until then, anyway. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

In the modern world, there are few things as critical as the propagation of information. Anytime, day or night, we have access to news, weather, and interpersonal communications. When that information is
unavailable whether due to a misplaced cell phone, internet disruption, or other factor, we begin to panic, feeling cut off and isolated.

When disaster strikes, up to date information could be as vital to your survival as food, shelter, or a means to defend yourself.

We can all make plans for our retreat and relocation, but without a means of contacting one another when the time comes, all we can do is wait and hope that everyone is on their way.

What is amateur radio?
Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a service designed for the purpose of intercommunication between individuals whether for casual chatting, emergency preparation, or in the event of an actual emergency. The FCC permits citizens that have proven proficiency in FCC rule and of reasonable technical ability to use this service. To do so, one must pass a written exam and register their information with the FCC to obtain a license. Transmitting on amateur radio bands without a license could subject a person to fines or even imprisonment. However, there is one caveat to this rule. During an emergency, when lives are at risk, anything goes.
The phrase “anything goes” rarely has as much significance as it does in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Now, I am certainly not condoning the unlicensed use of amateur radio. But there may come a time that the only thing between you and rescue is a ham transceiver.
As quoted in the FCC amateur radio rule book:

§97.405 Station in distress.
(a) No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station in distress of any means at its disposal to attract attention, make known its condition and location, and obtain assistance.
(b) No provision of these rules prevents the use by a station, in the exceptional circumstances described in paragraph (a), of any means of radio communications at its disposal to assist a station in distress.

Note: With that said, I would still encourage anyone making any effort in preparation to seriously consider following the licensing procedure.

Amateur radio signals are capable of traveling thousands of miles, or as short as tens of miles.
There are many factors that will affect the distance your signal will travel.
Some of them include:

  • Transmit Frequency

Just like with an AM/FM radio, there is a wide spread of radio frequencies that signals can be received on. Common allocations for amateur radio can be found anywhere from 3M MegaHertz (MHz) to well over 440MHz.

Typically the lower frequencies, from 3-30MHz (High Frequency or HF) provide the greatest distance with the least amount of power. This is accomplished by natural phenomena called ‘propagation’, which will be explained later.

VHF 30-300MHz (Very High Frequency) and UHF 300-3000MHz (Ultra High Frequency) offer a very high quality signal for ‘line of site’ distances up to about 50 miles. Police, fire, and private services rely on these frequencies due to the clarity and reliability of communications. FRS/GMRS (Family Radio Service) radios use 460MHz (UHF).

  • Antenna

In amateur radio, the most important factor is the antenna. An antenna can be as simple as a long piece of wire strung through a tree, or as large as an array of directional antennas hundreds of feet in the air. Just because it’s simple though, doesn’t mean it won’t work. I have talked to a ham in Portugal from my living room in Illinois using nothing more than a piece of wire looped around my ceiling fan.
‘Any’ antenna will work better than ‘no antenna’.

  • Transmit Power

Transmit power is measured in watts. While amateur radio has a limit of 1,500 Watts, most transceivers will only put out about 50-100 watts. Ideally, the more watts put out, the farther the signal will travel. You must also remember though, the more watts transmitted, the more power the radio consumes. This is something to keep in mind when battery power is in precious demand.
It is generally a good practice to keep output power low when possible, and make up the difference with improvements in your antenna. I have talked to Japan on 5 watts from Illinois. Power isn’t everything.

  • Propagation

During the day, solar rays charge different layers of the atmosphere which create a reflective barrier for radio waves. As the sun fades for the day, so does our propagation.
Higher frequencies require a higher amount of charged particles. Radio waves that do not bounce are simply absorbed or pass right through. During times of good propagation, it is possible to send very weak signals across the globe.
We can, to an extent, control how far our signal will go by utilizing the three main types of propagation.

    1. Skywave (long skip)

By utilizing an antenna that has a low take off angle, like a vertical antenna or high dipole (like your FM stereo comes with), our signals are directed at the horizon which will hit the atmosphere and bounce back to earth. (The earth is round, remember?)

    1. NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave)

With a lower dipole antenna or tilted vertical antenna, we increase the angle of the radio waves. Therefore, the waves go up sharply and bounce down much closer.

    1. Groundwave (line of sight)

Line of sight communications solely rely on the receiving station being within a straight line of the sending station. A walkie-talkie is a good example of this. Repeaters, which I will cover below, are often used to increase range of line of site radio equipment. Output power and antenna height greatly improve line-of-sight (LOS) communication.

Setting up a station

When determining what radio equipment will suit your needs, you must first decide on a few things.

  • How far do I need to communicate?
  • How portable will I need it to be?
  • How much can I spend?

If you answered the first question with “less than 50 miles”, then you can easily set yourself up with a useable system for under $200. VHF and UHF transceivers are often called 2 meter and 70 centimeter radios, respectively. 2M and 70CM refer to the length of the actual radio wave. 2M operates around 145MHz and 70CM operates around 440MHz.

A handheld unit has the advantage of small size, internal battery pack, and built in antenna. On the other hand, the small size, internal battery pack, and built in antenna is a serious compromise regarding transmit and receive distance. Typical handhelds maximum power output is about 5 watts and the internal battery won’t last long at that power level. The functionality of a handheld unit relies on repeaters. Without a repeater, a handheld would be limited to about 10 miles or less.

A repeater is a transceiver with a very high antenna that receives a signal on one frequency, and retransmits on another, usually at a much higher power. Through the use of repeaters, it is possible to work stations >100 miles away with a walkie-talkie. This may sound like fine business, but repeaters are privately owned and would likely be locked down by the owners, without power, or seized by the government, should society crumble.

Mobile units are designed to be mounted in a vehicle and are powered by 12 volts. Although an external antenna is required, this gives the user the flexibility to decide which antenna works best for them. Most mobile units can produce at least 50 watts and can be reduced to lower power as needed. A base or even portable station can be easily setup using a mobile radio, rechargeable 12 VDC battery, and an antenna placed as high as possible. With careful planning and experimenting, this system can be optimized to reach distances of 50 miles or more, creating an efficient point-to-point communication link.

For nationwide communication, HF is going to be the winner hands down. HF radios are typically capable of more than 100 watts and under good conditions can talk coast to coast and across the ocean. The greater distance is attributed to propagation, as described earlier.
The biggest stumbling block with HF radios is the cost. With a starting price of around $700, most folks will find it very hard to make room in their budget for this.
Another consideration is the antenna. To work efficiently, an antenna should be at least ¼ wavelength long. Depending on the frequency, this could be anywhere between 10’ to well over 60’. But as stated before, any antenna is better than no antenna.

Undoubtedly, whether your plans are staying or relocating, reliable communications will be a must for you and your group. This article is written as a primer into amateur radio and to simplify what can seem to be an overwhelming step of preparedness. There are hundreds of volumes written on the subject, and I would encourage anyone serious about prepping to research further. 

I really can’t stress enough that you should take the time now to get licensed and work out any problems before they occur.

Links: Find testing locations and just about anything else ham-related. Take online practice tests for amateur radio exams

Karen H. recommended a piece over at the Utah Preppers site on how to dehydrate peppers.

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Damon mentioned a collection of interactive, online ballistics calculators, The Ballistician's Corner, hosted by Beartooth Bullets. It includes: Exterior Ballistics, Recoil Calculator, Wound Channel
Calculator, Stopping Power Calculators (multiple), Round Ball Weight Calculator, and Powder Calculators.

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Reader FG flagged this: Korea to Sell Old US Rifles Back. These are M1 Garands and M1 Carbines. The latest word is that these will not be sold by the CMP. Instead, they'll be sold by commercial importers. Do you remember the "Blue Sky" stamped M1s of the early 1990s? Blue Skies in the forecast!

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Ya gotta love the Palmetto State: South Carolina political candidate raffles away an AK-47. (Also courtesy of FG)

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes." - Psalm 118:8-9 (KJV)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

Allow me to begin with a request. Close your eyes and conjure up an image of a small dog into your mind. Is it snarling viciously? Straining at it's owner's leash pointlessly while they offer empty apologies for its behavior? Perhaps it's groomed in a ridiculous fashion, poking its timid head out from a large handbag in an L.A. Salon.

All of these things are, of course, absurd applications of an otherwise useful creature. Small dogs were bred for very specific working purposes long before they were adapted as fashion accessories, becoming the misfits of the canine world. Please keep in mind that they are every bit as trainable as their larger counterparts. The sad fact is that large dogs are generally trained due to the potentially dire consequences if they are not trained. On the other hand, the vices of small dogs are rated by their owners as easier to live with than the alternative (i.e.: training them).

As prevalent as this condition is today, it is a fault of the modern owner, and not the dog. Remember that the small dogs were hunting rats, rabbits, and other vermin on the farms of your ancestors long before Paris Hilton ever stuffed one into her over sized Gucci purse.

With that rant having been voiced, I'll start with a summary of the reasons you'd want a dog in the first place The greatest of them is companionship.

Try to reconcile with the fact that when the SHTF your friends (presumably unprepared) will be far away (assume by foot) and unreachable (assume by mobile). Would they follow you out of the city anyway? Probably not. So when you're 20 miles past town limits, alone and exhausted, you will be running out of something you can't pack into a go-bag.

Morale is the canine's best asset. Dogs do not mourn for the loss of a home, car, job or wide screen television. On the contrary, they will be overjoyed that you now have all the time in the world to spend with them. Their perspective is always “glass half full”, and it will carry you a long way. Even during hard times, my dogs have lifted my spirits immeasurably. In a SHTF situation i would consider their company invaluable for this reason alone.

Regardless, that's really the tip of the iceberg. Here are the more obvious reasons that dog has been man's best friend for millennia.

They are a great early warning system, not only against human intruders, but wild (or formerly domesticated) animals. Think about it. Are feral dogs a threat? Sure. But that raccoon that steals your food in the middle of the night may prove just as deadly in the long run.

They can smell opportunity as well as danger. Keep them hungry (not starving) and they will find food sure enough. After all, dogs are natural scavengers, and so might you be if worst comes to worst.

They are also natural hunters. Sure, some breeds excel at it by birthright, but for other breeds it's just a matter of training. The capabilities of an intelligent dog are capped only by the limits of the owner's imagination.

They are loyal. Often to the death. How many of your friends can you say that about? Keep them from starving and they'll stick to you like glue.

Finally, I'll add that they are excellent guardians when push comes to shove, though this can also be a drawback for reasons I'll discuss later.

The question is, why a small dog rather than a large one?

As an early warning system the two are more or less deadlocked. Breed by breed you might find one better than the next, but my Maltese Cross is every bit as aware as my Retriever, and less lazy about voicing his concerns (for better or worse).

For purposes of scavenging they are deadlocked again. A small dog can find anything a large dog can. If anything, a small dog can go through an abandoned car with far more ease, and will eat far less of what's found.

Hunting? You could go either way, but assuming you're on the move there's no point in bagging a deer when a rabbit will suffice. The question once again is “how much of the kill is going to Fido?” Besides, small dogs often have the edge against small game, as they can more easily stalk their prey and can also shift their momentum swiftly if a chase ensues. I can attest that my Maltese cross is a terror to the local rodent population. My Retriever is not. (On this note, never assume you will not be lowered to eating vermin. It's called Survivalism. Not Thrivalism.)

Regarding loyalty, a dog is a dog. I'd have trouble naming a breed that will abandon a loving owner in their time of need.

In terms of defending yourself, the big dog has the edge. But! If you're approaching a group of strangers or a checkpoint, your growling Rottweiler may get you both shot. A small furry head poking out from the top of your shirt will only endear you to strangers in an instant.

Yet I hear you say “I'm manly and tough. I think I'll stick with the big dog thanks.”

Well consider the following.

1. The small dog (with regular walks) can live happily enough in an apartment. He'll provide a vocal deterrent to intruders, which is often encouragement enough to find a different target. Conversely, large dogs and apartments do not mix well...
2. Small dogs are easier to train than you think. The key to all canine interaction is establishing dominance. The smaller the dog, the easier this is.
3. The small dog will eat and drink next to nothing. This is clearly a massive pro if you're hitting the road after all hell breaks loose.
4. The small dog can be carried easily. In your backpack no less. Imagine your 60+ pound Doberman has gone lame after walking 20 miles on asphalt. Enough said...
5. In a world of guns and gangs it's foolish to think that an attack breed dog will even the odds. On the contrary, that scary dog is more likely to spark the firefight that will end your life.

Picking a breed of dog is an important decision, but remember to research these key points.

1. Energy levels. Some dogs need 10 miles a day underfoot or they'll turn your furniture into scrap. Others will groan at having to spend five minutes on a treadmill.
2. Intelligence. The smarter the dog, the more you will have to exercise it's mind. Training them is best, but games will suffice.

If/when the SHTF you'll want a short-haired dog. Keeping it warm is easy enough, and doing so is a welcome alternative to pulling burrs from the fur of long haired breeds (not to mention locating ticks).

Also, avoid breeds that do not have a working history. They're usually bred for their visual “assets” and will not serve as well as time honored breeds do.

If I had to recommend one, it would be the Jack Russell Terrier (check it on Wikipedia if you care to). They're a working breed, highly intelligent, and extremely durable. I've personally seen one fall (not jump deliberately) fifteen feet onto concrete, get up with a huff, and walk away fine. That said, this is a very challenging dog to own and train. It is not for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is survival after the collapse...

I wont go into details about training dogs. I would wear out my keyboard in the process. If i give just one piece of advice in the matter, it's this;

Dogs are a pack animal and should defer to you as the pack leader in all things. They do not walk in front of you. They do not eat or drink before you eat or drink. Even the simple act of sitting on your lap gives the dog the idea that “it owns you” (it can stay there as long as you rest a hand on top of it).

Attain dominance and everything else will fall into place.

A recommendation. If you choose to buy a dog, get a copy of the Dog Whisperer DVDs with Cesar Millan. It's gold for a dog owner. Especially someone adopting a mature dog rather than a puppy.

My experience is that responsible dog owners never regret the journey they embark on when they acquire their first canine companion. After all. Who else in the world values table scraps more than gold and silver :) - B.C.

"While the people have property, arms in their hands, and only a spark of noble spirit, the most corrupt Congress must be mad to form any project of tyranny."- Rev. Nicholas Collin (1745-1831) Fayetteville Gazette (N.C.), October 12, 1789

Friday, September 25, 2009

Please wait until "Book Bomb" Day-- Wednesday, September 30th -- to place your order for my new book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". They won't be able to ship until then, anyway. Thanks!

I ran across an article on survival and diabetics written by a nurse. It was what we call a basic brush and floss kind of article that quoted from some well-known medical books. I call it a brush and floss article because it contained mostly information which a diabetic already knows, much like the way a dentist tells you what your mom has told you a bazillion times about brushing your teeth.

However at the end of the article the nurse pretty much consigned type 1 diabetics to doom and even referenced Darwin and the "survival of the fittest". I know in the novel One Second After, the diabetic daughter died because of lack of insulin, but the part in the book about it going bad because of temperature variations is not accurate.

Here’s some information which will be of help to those who use insulin, specifically Humulin. We've been helping with diabetic preparedness for several years and there are some important things which are not common knowledge. Humulin--unopened--has a shelf-life of at least one year at room temperature. And Humulin can be frozen without ill effects to the user. Lilly won't tell you this, but I know of a type 1 diabetic who froze a year's supply for Y2K.

Her name is Madeline and in 1999 she called me to ask if I knew if insulin could be safely frozen. I told her that I didn’t know, but I would find out. Several of us in the Medical Corps organization started making calls and found out it could. I relayed the good news to Madeline. I suggested that if she were going to freeze it that she keep a log of her blood sugar test values with un-frozen insulin and then with the frozen insulin. She did and her blood sugar did not vary. In fact, Madeline still practices that type of preparedness with her disease.

As for the Darwin and the natural selection mindset, EMP or not, this country is not the Titanic. There are lifeboats for everyone. As medical people, and for non medical as well, our job is not to pick who gets to live or die simply because we may not know the answer to the problem. Our job is to solve the problem and not bow down to Darwin or "selection" or ignorance. Diabetics, preemies, old people, retarded children and the like are not mass causalities and a matter of triage. They are just a people problem which can be solved. I do not have the moral right to pronounce doom on the sick or injured. I do have a moral obligation to at least try to solve a problem.

To say that a Type 1 diabetic wouldn’t have a tough time of it if the system collapsed would be untrue, but problems can be solved. People who are insulin dependent or dependent on any medications need to put away extra supplies for treatment and support of their condition. I would not solely count on electronic devices either. Telemetry has a bad habit of failing, so old fashioned ways of checking blood sugar might not be that old fashioned if we lose telemetry because of an EMP. Keep in mind that there are several other diabetic problems and that there are medications to treat them. Therefore, it is not just insulin which will be in short supply if the system fails.

These supplies will only be a cushion though if a disaster of the magnitude presented in, One Second After, happens. That cushion will give us some time to work on finding answers for a myriad of problems which would surface.

As for diabetics we will have to find a way to duplicate the work of Banting and Best and other researchers of the early 1920s. This isn’t a survival-of-the-fittest type of thing. It is a problem to be solved. Just recently some Canadian researchers injected capsaicin into the excess pain receptors of the pancreas of diabetic mice. Then a neuropeptide was used to soothe the inflammation. The pancreas immediately started producing insulin and 4 months later the previously diabetic mice were still “cured”.

Is the diabetic survival problem complex? Of course it is. All TEOTWAWKI problems tend to be complex. But they are still just problems to be solved. Keep in mind that if an EMP wiped out all type one diabetics, it would not be an end to type 1 diabetes. If it could be ended by some sort of natural selection then where did it come from in the first place?


1) Humulin can be frozen without damaging the contents, bottle or seals and then used without ill effect to the patient.

2) Unopened Humulin has at least a one year shelf-life at room temperature (70 degrees F.)

3) Darwin wasn’t a diabetic or a survivalist so who cares what he said.

- Chuck Fenwick, Medical Corps

It troubled me to read news reports about the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, S.773. If enacted, the US President could declare a "cybersecurity emergency" and then would have the power to shut down the Internet in the U.S. and the Secretary of Commerce would have access to data, regardless of privacy. Soon after, I read this headline: Obama Plans Internet Grab: FCC to Embrace 'Net Neutrality'. Needless to say, this could have some "negative implications."

As some one who values redundancy in contingency planning, I believe that the time has come for me to set up one or two mirror sites for SurvivalBlog, just in case my blog somehow gets "disappeared." Ideally, a mirror site would be housed on a server in a Second World country with few ties (economic or political) to the United States. I'd like to set up one or two full mirrors, each with unique domain names. This would be automagically backed up daily. We are currently housed using Apache on Linux, with a dedicated server. Once a mirror is established, I'd ask all SurvivalBlog readers to bookmark it, but not regularly use the mirror site, in order to limit the bandwidth, and to retain ease of click-through tracking for our advertisers . (They need to know that they are getting their money's worth, for their advertising dollars.) Does anyone have suggestions for a reliable high bandwidth offshore web host? (Our current bandwidth is over 1terabyte per month, and likely to double in the next year.) Or do you have any recommendations on automatic mirroring software? Thanks.

I enjoy your blog. I'm praying the Lord's peace during your mourning. I greatly enjoyed the recent letter on Lessons-Learned from Alaska.

I'd like to add:
One way to deal with condensation on a rifle, or other piece of equipment, in cold climates is to bag it in plastic [such as a trash bag) outside, before entering a warm area. Once inside, the condensation will build up on the exterior of the bag. Once the rifle, or other equipment, comes up to the indoor temperature it may be removed from the plastic cover [and checked for condensation].

Lord Bless and Keep and Shine. - Cloudwarmer

FG and Adam W. both flagged this: Homeowners who 'strategically default' on loans a growing problem. The article begins: "Who is more likely to walk away from a house and a mortgage -- a person with super-prime credit scores or someone with lower scores? Research using a massive sample of 24 million individual credit files has found that homeowners with high scores when they apply for a loan are 50% more likely to "strategically default" -- abruptly and intentionally pull the plug and abandon the mortgage -- compared with lower-scoring borrowers."

El Jefe Jeff E. recommended this piece by famed economist Arthur Laffer, in The Wall Street Journal: Taxes, Depression, and Our Current Troubles. Jeff's comment: "Arthur Laffer makes interesting comparisons of today's monetary policy with that of the Great Depression. The Fed has increased money supply 100% in recent months. A tax increase may be the tipping point."

GG recommended this piece by a Cato Institute fellow: The growing debt bomb

Items from The Economatrix:

Oil Prices Dip Below $69, Supplies Jump

Fallen Money-Market Fund Makes $1 Billion Distribution

IMF: No Full Recovery Until 2015

UK: Jobless Claims Show Demise of Slump May Be Exaggerated

Treasuries Fall After 5-Year-Notes Auction

UK: HSBC Staff Carrying Personal Alarms in Case of Customer Rage

Devaluation Remains Bank's Secret Weapon

Britain About to Lose AAA Credit Rating

Home Prices Rise 0.3%, Sign of Halting "Recovery"

Regular content contributor FG was first of a dozen readers to send us this news article link: America armed, but guns not necessarily loaded. JWR's comment: The US ammo shortage is likely to abate early next year, as demand is satiated, and supplies increase.

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Reader John G. mentioned that James Talmage Stevens has just released the 11th edition of his heretofore hard-to-find book Making the Best of Basics - Family Preparedness Handbook. In the new updated and expanded edition, the page count has nearly doubled. I consider this book a "must have" for every well-prepared family's bookshelf.

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Cheryl was the first of several readers to mention this: How a Family Shed $106,000 in Debt in One Year

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R.O. recommended this article: Curfew-trapped Hondurans seek food amid crisis

"The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as "free education" is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education - just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office - and cannot possibly be separated from political control." – Frank Chodorov (1887-1966), Why Free Schools Are Not Free

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I was recently quoted briefly in a Dallas newspaper article about Radius Engineering: Explosive ingenuity; Walton McCarthy designs modern-day underground shelters to protect clients from long-term effects of disasters.

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

Many of you could be faced with the unique challenge of crossing a river during any number of “The End Of The World As We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI) scenarios. I have pre-positioned a respectable stock of supplies at my primary “Get Out Of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) retreat site, however have multiple caches at various locations to ensure my family has a fighting chance at survival.  While I hope and pray to be able to evacuate my family safely via vehicle just prior to any TEOTWAWKI scenario.  Murphy’s Law reminds us that, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.”  Hence any prudent planner should be prepared to evacuate on foot.  In this article I will discuss how to successfully cross both open and ice-covered rivers without the use of traditional modern means such as the utilization of bridges and/or boats.  I will not be distinguishing between day or night crossings.  That choice is left to you after reviewing your specific situation and circumstances.

Before I begin I want to emphasize the importance of not limiting yourself to only the use of main transportation routes that force you to place you and your loved ones at a tactical disadvantage. 

Recommended Equipment:
Many of the items listed are multifunctional and most of them should already be found in any well-designed Preparedness Kit and/or Bug Out Bag:

  • Convenient Carry Case
  • Multiple Inflatable Inner Tubes
  • Rubber Tire Patch Kit
  • 55-Gallon Barrel Liner Bags and/or Heavy Duty Trash Bags
  • Compact Manual Bicycle Pump
  • 550 Parachute Cord
  • Duct Tape
  • Knife
  • Topographical Maps
  • Camper's Towel
  • Binoculars or Monocular

Recommend Prior Knowledge:
Prior to any crossing, preparations must be taken.  It is highly encouraged that all adults and children of appropriate age learn the basics of open water swimming.  This should include at a minimum: Treading Water, Front-Crawl, and the Side-Stroke.  (Note:  Swimming is a life-long skill set and while this method of crossing does not require you to be a strong swimmer, some level of capability and confidence is desired.)

It is also encouraged to clearly know the warning signs, symptoms, and treatment for hypothermia.  No matter the weather conditions, hypothermia is of major concern and should always be watched for post any crossing attempt.  I can not stress how important this is.  Immersion hypothermia is much more rapidly onset and cools the core 25 times faster due to waters excellent conduction factor.  Also, most non-mentally and/or physically prepared individuals can swim approximately a half mile in 50° F water.  Water colder than 45° F can bring on hypothermia in less than an hour.  Wearing clothes will help insulate you when in the water, however will contribute to hypothermia once you emerge from the water.  You must have a plan to deal with this. I make my own recommendation (see below). However you need to evaluate your own circumstance and exercise good tactical judgment.

Lastly, you should know the rough guidelines for new clear ice minimum safe thickness.  To obtain this information, check with your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  According to the Minnesota DNR, you need approximately 4 inches of ice for safe individual on-foot travel and anything under 2 inches is considered highly unsafe.


For what ever the reason may be “we” are unable to G.O.O.D. to “our” retreat and are now forced to evacuate “ourselves”  and possibly “our family” on foot.  By choosing to do so, many of “us” are forced to navigate multiple river crossings.  “We‘ve” chosen to avoid bridges, knowing that there often immediately overwhelmed and/or under a controlling force due to there natural design and choking nature.

Non-Fordable Deep Open Water River Crossing

Step 1.
Assemble the following into a convenient carry case:  (Multiple Inflatable Inner Tubes, Patch Kit, 55-Gallon Barrel Liner Bags or Heavy Duty Trash Bags, and Compact Manual Bicycle Pump.)  The following should be readily available:  (550 Parachute Cord, Duct Tape, Knife, Topographical Maps, Camper's Towel, and Binoculars or Monocular.)

Step 2.
Designate and review a primary and secondary G.O.O.D. evacuation route using a topographic map.  If available to you, consult overhead photos via open sources such as “Google Earth,” etc.  For an open water river crossing, determine a suitable launching and landing site(s).  Be sure to take into consideration both man-made and natural hazards.  This includes but is not limited to:  (Underwater Debris, Downed Trees, Damns, Docks, Boats, Wildlife, Rocks, and Chemicals.)  Be sure to take into consideration the ease and difficulties of getting in and out of the water.  An ideal landing site is preferred over a less than ideal launch site.  When choosing a landing site, begin your search by taking the width of the river and multiplying that distance by two or three lengths.  With that estimation, look that distance down river for suitable landing sites.  This approximate area should be at a forty-five / sixty degree angle down river from the launch site.  [This depends on the river's current speed and the river's width.] After determining your primary landing site, determine a secondary landing site approximately twenty-five feet further down river in the event of an emergency.  If multiple crossings will be needed to ferry equipment and/or persons across, ensure you have a landing site pre-determined on the same side of the river as your primary launch site following the above guidelines.  (Note: Review your topographic maps when determining your launching and landing sites, and take view of the areas with your binoculars and/or a monocular.)

Step 3.
Now that a launching and landing site have been determined; look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied that the area is relatively free of danger, begin to assemble your Flotation Aid.  The Flotation Aid consist of a inflatable inner tube with an attached makeshift cargo net made from either duct tape and/or 550 parachute cord.  Remember that noise travels farther over water than on land.

Begin by inflating an inflatable inner tube with the compact manual bicycle pump.  Once inflated, use either duct tape and/or 550 parachute cord to form a makeshift cargo net along the inside of the now inflated inner tube.  Once completed you will have successfully made your Floatation Aid.

Step 4.
Place all equipment you wish to keep dry into a 55-gallon barrel liner bag and/or heavy duty trash bag.  Next, strip down to the bare minimum amount of clothing and place into bag, along with foot wear.  Less is more!  You’ll be wet and cold!  Once across, you can dry off and get dressed in warm, dry clothes vs. having to wear cold wet clothes for an extended amount of time, and exposing yourself to a higher risk of hypothermia.  Then, attach a sheathed knife to your person to be used in the event of becoming entangled in any underwater debris, etc.  After placing all items into the bag, seal it.  Once completed, proceed to place the bag onto your Flotation Aid resting within the center area.  Ensure the bag is well balanced and not easily tipped.

Step 5.
Look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied that the area is relatively free of danger; carefully enter the water at your launch site along with your Flotation Aid.  Double check your Flotation Aid for any deficiencies.  Once satisfied, hold the Flotation Aid with one hand to assist in personal flotation and guidance.  Begin to swim down river with the current to your predetermined landing site.  In the event that you miss your original landing site proceed to your alternate and above all remain calm, control your breathing, and focus on getting to shore. 

Step 6.
Upon arrival to your predetermined landing site, beach your Flotation Aid on shore along with yourself.  Do not proceed immediately out of the water!  Look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied that the area is relatively free of danger, slowly exit the water with your Flotation Aid and move to an area of good cover.  Once ashore, remove any wet clothing your wearing and retrieve your campers towel from your equipment.  Dry yourself and proceed to dress in dry clothes.  Once dressed, again look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied, assess your condition and look for any warning signs or symptoms of hypothermia.  If need be, treat.  (NOTE:  A good quick way of raising your core temperature is by doing a few mini-jumping jacks, or by huddling over a survival candle under a poncho.)  If you chose to wear clothes during your crossing, change into dry clothes As Soon As Possible (ASAP)!  During this time, remember to have a tactical mindset in all you do.

Step 7.
Disassemble your Floatation Aid and repack.

Ice-Covered River Crossing

For ice covered river crossings extreme caution is advised!  This should be done only after much consideration; your specific climate and location will dictate these circumstances.  A key principle to remember when crossing any frozen waterway is “distribution of weight.”  When determining a crossing site, look for an area of the river that is straight and/or an area that precedes a bend.  Remember, the water is still flowing under the ice and your goal is to cross at a location where the current is slower and consistent.  However, this does not guarantee any safer ice conditions.

Step 1.
Assemble the following into a convenient carry case:  (Multiple Inflatable Inner Tubes, Patch Kit, 55-Gallon Barrel Liner Bags or Heavy Duty Trash Bags, and Compact Manual Bicycle Pump.)  The following should be readily available:  (550 Parachute Cord, Duct Tape, Knife, Topographical Maps, Campers Towel, and Binoculars or Monocular.)

Step 2.
Designate and review a primary and secondary (GOOD) evacuation route using a Topographic Map.  If available to you, consult overhead photos via open sources such as “Google Earth,” etc…  Unlike an open water crossing as described above; you’ll be choosing a suitable launching and landing site parallel to one another.  This is due to limiting your total time exposed to the dangers of the ice, along with limiting your time creating a silhouette of yourself when out in the open.

Step 3.
After entry and exits sites have been determined; look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied that the area is relatively free of danger, begin to assemble your Flotation Aid(s).  The Flotation Aid under these conditions is similar to the open water method, however you will need to inflate a second inner tube without a makeshift cargo net attached to it.

Step 4.
Place all equipment you wish to keep dry into a 55-gallon barrel liner bag and/or heavy duty trash bag.  Next, remain dressed and attach a sheathed knife to your arm and/or plan to carry it open bladed in hand to act as an ice pick during the crossing.  After placing all items into the bag, seal it.  Once completed, proceed to place the bag onto your Flotation Aid with the makeshift cargo net; resting within the center area.  Ensure the bag is well balanced and not easily tipped.  Then, secure a length of 550 parachute cord to the Flotation Aid to act as a dragline.  When completed, physically step-into the second Flotation Aid without the makeshift cargo net bringing it up to your waist.  This will catch you in the event the ice gives way and limit your exposure.  You can also crawl on your stomach with the Flotation Aid directly under you if desired or feel it necessary to redistribute your weight over a larger surface area, based upon the ice conditions.

Step 5.
Look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied that the area is relatively free of danger; double check your Flotation Aids for any deficiencies.  Once satisfied, begin your crossing.  Your pace should be slow and steady, do not stop once started unless you have no other option.  Be sure to drag the Flotation Aid with your equipment behind you at a safe distance.  In the very unfortunate event you go through the ice…  Remain calm, breath and use your knife to stab and pull yourself back up onto the ice while using your legs to kick, and continue forward to shore.

Step 6.
Once safely across; look and listen for any suspicious indicators.  If satisfied that the area is relatively free of danger, slowly move to an area of good cover.  Dry and change clothes if needed, take mental stock of your condition and check for any warning signs or symptoms of hypothermia.  If need be, treat.  During this time, remember to have a tactical mindset in all you do.

Step 7.
Disassemble your Floatation Aid and repack.

If you’re unable to patch and repair your inflatable inner tubes with your patch kit, do not simply discard them.  The inner tube itself can still be used for a variety of things.  In the past, I’ve cut mine into small rubber strips and used them as tie-down strips or lashings.  The point is to be resourceful with what you have.  Just because an item no longer serves it’s original purpose doesn’t mean it can’t continue to be of significant use.

Hopefully you found this helpful, and at a very minimum, it stimulated your mind to think and be resourceful when approaching your environment.  I truly hope that TEOTWAWKI never comes, but I’m reassured due to my all hazard planning, preparedness, and tactical mindset that my family and I stand a greater chance of survival compared to the “Joneses” down the street. Take Care and God Bless!

James Wesley,|
My hubby and I attended an Appleseed Project shoot last weekend at a local range. Our reward for all our planning to finally make one. Wow! What an openly honest and insightful man Fred is about his Appleseed project mission. I chatted with him throughout the weekend. He is truly a passionate visionary and an active proponent of legislative action. He can readily account accurate attestation on any Revolutionary War topic concerning the acts of examples of Freedom and LIberty and the Preservation of Civilian Rights to bear Arms, by our Forefathers. With that vision and mission, he demands proficiency in participants in rifle knowledge, personal responsibility, safety on his ranges, and a basic but thorough and accurate account and understanding of the rewards and consequences of actions carried out by the History of our Revolutionary Forefathers who were so God Blessed in Wisdom and foresight.

Hubby and I are sore in places we didn't know could get sore. Between the two of us, we put near 1,000 rounds of ammo into the Army Qualification Target (AQT) targets and Redcoats down that firing line.

I'm quoting this from Fred from his posting on his Appleseed forum site. It is his observations made on the post-Ramseur shoot forum.
I was one of those "girls" he mentioned. (In fact I was the one who nailed the Redcoat center target at 400 yards!)
BTW, I had never shot the rifle I was using for this shoot, before that morning. This was my first target shots of the shoot and for that new Ruger 10/.22 rifle.

Here is a quote from Fred:

"There was a slight embarrassment on the first Redcoat target of the day.

Asked "who has three shots on the 400 yard target?" only one person raised her hand.

Asked "who has three hits on the 300 yard target?", three more hands went up - all girls!

Man, it was tough to be an hombre that morning... Grin."

Hubby also proudly qualified for his Rifleman patch on the day's last AQT firing round that evening. I missed it by 20 points, mostly due to time lost on bolt release malfunctions on the newly-manufactured Ruger 10/.22 custom he presented me with the night before this shoot.

I figure with a month of serious daily practice using all the new learned knowledge and skills, which were extended so generously to all of us, by every single one of those All-Volunteer instructors, I intend to go back on that line and do my duty of Survival Preparedness for my country, and for my family, and so that Future Progeny will be enabled to continue telling this story for future generations of riflemen.
Let us Never Forget! The lives of many Freemen paved the way for us today, to enjoy the lasting Liberty and Freedom of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and To be able to Protect this great country from tyranny. Never Forget them and our American Freedom Story! - KAF

Marko liked this piece on Mexican desert living that he found on Treehugger: Young Couple Says NO to a Mortgaged Life

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From my old Defense Electronics magazine compadre Ken Timmerman: U.S. May Face 9/11-Scale Threat from Venezuela

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Slack: the unused portion of economy's productive capacity, U.S. economy is swimming in spare capacity

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I heard that to pay off some large legal bills stemming from BATFE harassment (no Federal charges were ever filed), KT Ordnance is running a half-price special on all of their 80% complete receivers (except the P-50), They offer 80% complete receivers for 1911s, AR-15s AR-10s and Mark Is. Use promotional code "Molon Labe" to receive your 50% discount.

“The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world. The first step – in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come – is to teach men to shoot!” - Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My #1 Son has created a static memorial page for my late wife, Linda ("The Memsahib"). This new page includes a link to the newly-established Linda Rawles Memorial Fund for her favorite charity, Anchor of Hope Charities. They are the main sponsor of the Anchor Institute, a Christian school and orphanage in rural Zambia. It is a very deserving charity, with hardly any overhead expenses. You can make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal or by check. My thanks to the more than 100 SurvivalBlog readers that have already sent contributions totaling nearly $4,825 to this worthy charity! May God Bless You.

We preppers get labeled all sorts of things from mildly eccentric to paranoid, and so I ask, is it so imbalanced to want insurance?
Clearly most people have health insurance (if they can afford it) car insurance (mandatory), home insurance and life insurance so why stop there? When friends ask about my lifestyle, this is my argument.

1) Why do you have firearms?

Police insurance. If the police can't come in time, (can they ever?) or are overwhelmed (Los Angeles riots anyone?) or just go home (Hurricane Katrina?) then you may need need firearms.

2) Why do you have stored food?

Eating insurance. Just in time (JIT) delivery systems, monocrop susceptibility to plant diseases, lack of any food stored at the national level.

3) Why do you have stored gasoline/diesel?

Transportation insurance. If you live in the country or suburbs walking everywhere is probably not realistic, or want to bug out of a city.

4) Why do you have a ham radio and portable transceivers?

Communications insurance. Storms, blackouts etc. No monthly charges like cell phones and easier than smoke signals.

5) Why do you have generators and stored fuel for them?

Electrical insurance. This way the frozen food I have stays cool for a few days etc.

6) Why do you have stored water?

Cooking, drinking and washing insurance.

7) Why do you have precious metals?

Fiat Currency insurance. In case some bureaucrat decides to print up so much money that we go into hyperinflation.

Even the adage, "one is none and two are one" is not ignored by the masses. Ask someone who relies on their eyeglasses to see if they only have one pair. How many people have two cars when they could really get by with one.

It is only the wandering barefoot ascetic with a loincloth and begging bowl as his only possessions who makes no preparations. It is human nature to prep, the only question is to what degree. - SF in Hawaii

As people are typically trying to find advice on tritium sights and what brand to get, I figure I'd share my bad experience with one supplier so as to keep others from repeating my mistake.

A few years back I had my Springfield Trophy Match sights fitted with tritium inserts by PT Night Sights (a part of MMC Night Sights). At first I was disappointed. I had them install the 3-bar system on the rear sight, which I generally like. The front sight however was noticeably dimmer than the rear though, which is not how it's supposed to be. While they have a lifetime warranty, you still end up paying to ship the slide back (unless you want to remove the sights, which is not a good idea for someone without the tools and experience to do so with a M1911's staked front post.) Also, one of the three rear bars (the right hand one) was also noticeably dimmer than the others. So I sent it back to them to correct this quality control "oversight" and when I got it back, a month later, the sights were then good. The three rear bars were the same brightness, and the front dot was brighter. Good. That is, until the front dot fell out somewhere in the desert. So I sent it back, again, and another month later it came back, again appearing to be good. That front dot went black one day, just overnight. Don't know what happened other than it must have cracked. Hadn't been shooting that day either. So I sent it back again. One month later it comes back, this time with a very dim front sight. By this time I'm so irritated I decided to just keep it as I was sick and tired of them having my slide longer than me. But then, while I was cleaning my gun, and while trying to get a piece of crud that was sitting by the tritium insert, it cracked. What was I using to clean it? A wooden toothpick. That's all. Now I'm furious. I call them up and they pay for the shipping both ways. This time it takes six weeks to get it back. The dot appeared the same brightness as the rears. It also has "bubbles" in it so that it really isn't a dot. It looked more like a blob. I took it out to the range yesterday and fired 100 rounds. Today the front sight is noticeably dimmer. I expect it will be black in a few days. (I did clean it to make sure it wasn't
just dirty - it wasn't.)

I am now looking for a different solution that I can do myself. I am not planning on sending it back to them. I've had enough.

If you care to, please pass my bad experience with PT/MMC Night Sights on. I wish I had never bought from this company. - Jeff in Virginia

JWR Replies: Yes, it sounds like a poor choice of brand of night sights. Here at the ranch, we have three Colt stainless M1911s that still have their original sets of Trijicon brand three dot tritium sights that I had installed by Tooltech in 1995. They now have a combined round count of close to 15,000 between them, with no problems whatsoever. They seemed too bright at first, but they have now mellowed nicely. The half-life of tritium (a radioactive hydrogen isotope) is 11.2 years, meaning that they are half as bright that "new" after 11.2 years, and one-fourth as bright than "new" after 22.4 years. Even at one-quarter brightness, they should be useful. I'm planning on having new tritium vials installed at 22 year intervals.

After reading you letter, I must also mention one safety proviso: If you ever accidentally shatter a tritium gas vial indoors, then be sure to immediately air out your house, for at least 12 hours. Open all your windows and set up a box fan in the window of the room where the tritium leak took place. Breathing even tiny amounts of tritium gas is carcinogenic.

I am not surprised that ordinary people in Dallas, Texas (or anywhere else in the US) are not aware that pre-1965 US quarters and dimes are 90% silver. After 40 years of continual dumbing down the average high school graduate today probably couldn't tell you what the word "sterling" means either.

I just checked Dex Online for coin dealers in Dallas, Texas. Dex brought up 18 coin dealers. Dex also brought up 18 antiques and collectibles dealers (who always know the value of old coins.) I don't think there would be a problem converting pre-1965 "junk" silver coins into whatever new currency replaces the US dollar after the collapse.

Nearly every town in the US with a population of 10,000 or more has at least one coin dealer. Every coin dealer knows the value of pre-1965 "junk" silver coins. So does every jeweler and every pawn shop (not recommended.)

In my estimation it will take perhaps one week after the final collapse of the US dollar before people will be pawning their wedding bands and emptying out their kids' coin collections. It won't take long before everybody knows what still has value. Gold and silver have always kept their value since long before the Roman Empire.

If anybody still thinks that pre-1965 90% silver coins will be difficult to use after the collapse of the US dollar, then I recommend buying a copy of A Guide Book of United States Coins 2009 by R. S. Yeoman. (It is often just referred to by its nickname, "The Red Book.") Every Barnes & Noble store sells these.

In the mean time it would be a good idea to begin to equate the values of common good to an ounce of silver today. At $17/oz. one ounce of silver buys six gallons of gasoline in most parts of the US, for example. Figure this out for every necessity. Write it down on a legal pad for reference. Begin to educate your family and friends.

Post-US dollar collapse their will be a mass re-education in the values of gold and silver - out of sheer necessity.

As in all civilizations, there will be traders that buy/sell/trade stuff professionally. These are the market-makers. Their expertise is knowing what things are worth to other people. Most trading will not be with your local neighbors, but with market-makers (think swap meets, traveling traders, etc). Average people will learn what items have value from the market-makers. They will learn quickly that a few silver coins is a lot more convenient than a 45 pound bucket of wheat to take to the swap meet.

Obviously, the more stuff you have to trade, the better, but silver should be among your stockpiles. - Brett

Dear CPT Rawles,
Some time ago, I wrote you concerning the Hyper-Inflation I witnessed in Romania following the collapse of Communism in the 1990s. You published my observations in the blog.

What I did not tell you at that time, was that the Romanians were widely using old silver coinage, much from the old Austro-Hungarian Empire days, as a regular means of paying for such things as food.

Even though the Romanian Lei, nearly died out as a currency, in favor of the Deutsche Mark, US Dollar and British Pound, old silver coins were widely used! It didn't take long for folks to accept old Austro-Hungarian silver coins as a viable means of barter etc. While this was illegal, I never heard of any enforcement efforts being made by either the regular police, or the Romanian Securatate.

Your assessment that pre-1965 90% silver coins will be widely used following the collapse of the fiat currencies is a sound prediction of what may yet come to pass. Initially, some may refuse to accept a silver quarter dollar as anything more than 25 worthless cents. But, it won't be long until everyone will gladly accept a real dollar (in silver coins) as the "real deal."
Americans are not stupid. Sometimes we are deceived by government and politicians, but not for long. Regards, - Michael B

Damon mentioned a web site that describes the construction of inexpensive sand water filters.

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Directive 21 (one of advertisers) just added the Go Berkey Kit to heir product line. It is a smaller (one quart) Berkey system. It definitely fills a preparedness niche.

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Just as he predicted in an e-mail to me, my friend Jeff's edits to the Wikipedia page on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.were repeatedly ripped out by an anti-gun cabal. I am amazed at how Wikipedia has become so politicized and manipulated by the Politically Correct. Oh well, Jeff tells me that if you want to see "the rest of the story" about Mayor Bloomberg's coalition, then take a look at the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Conservapedia page. Wow! Lots of indictments and felony convictions for members of a "crime fighting" organization!

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McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure' in Afghanistan


"This first stage of the inflationary process may last for many years. While it lasts, the prices of many goods and services are not yet adjusted to the altered money relation. There are still people in the country who have not yet become aware of the fact that they are confronted with a price revolution which will finally result in a considerable rise of all prices, although the extent of this rise will not be the same in the various commodities and services. These people still believe that prices one day will drop. Waiting for this day, they restrict their purchases and concomitantly increase their cash holdings. As long as such ideas are still held by public opinion, it is not yet too late for the government to abandon its inflationary policy.

But then, finally, the masses wake up. They become suddenly aware of the fact that inflation is a deliberate policy and will go on endlessly. A breakdown occurs. The crack-up boom appears. Everybody is anxious to swap his money against 'real' goods, no matter whether he needs them or not, no matter how much money he has to pay for them. Within a very short time, within a few weeks or even days, the things which were used as money are no longer used as media of exchange. They become scrap paper. Nobody wants to give away anything against them.

It was this that happened with the Continental currency in America in 1781, with the French mandats territoriaux in 1796, and with the German mark in 1923. It will happen again whenever the same conditions appear. If a thing has to be used as a medium of exchange, public opinion must not believe that the quantity of this thing will increase beyond all bounds. Inflation is a policy that cannot last." - Ludwig von Mises

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My forthcoming nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" includes several pages of material that is redundant to my currently published book "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog". So I 've decided to discontinue self-publishing the latter. If you'd like your own copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog" then be sure to order one before September 30th, when it will be dropped from the Clearwater Press products page.

Going through some old gear last month, I found my food supply lists and notes from 1976-79. I thought the old list might be of interest and the lessons I learned during the first three years in the remote Alaska bush may be helpful to a few of your readers. I do not recommend Alaska for a TEOTWAWKI retreat but the lessons I learned the hard way may be helpful to any one in a cold climate.

I grew up in California listing to stories from my grandfather about Alaska and the Yukon. When I graduated from high school my grandfather gave me his remote trapping cabin in Alaska. At 18 I had a lot to learn and discovered many things the hard way. I was lucky to survive the first year.

When I got to Alaska I met my Grandfather’s old trapping partner. He told me that the cabin was fully stocked with everything including food. Enough food and supplies for at least one winter. When I started asking him questions on how to trap he told me “sonny I have not got the time to teach you and since you don’t have to build the cabin you will have time to figure it out. He added half under his breath” providing you do not fall through the ice or freeze to death. He also said something to the effect that if he had not owed my grandfather a favor he would never give his ½ of the cabin to a long haired hippy kid from California. I had to promise the old Sourdough that I would have all of his traps flown back to town at the end of the trapping season or buy the traps from him.

My first winter was a disaster.

Before this the longest I had been in the wilderness was a 23 day Outward Bound survival class that I attended the year before and I had never spent a winter in a cold environment.

To get to the trapping cabin it was at least a two week walk from the end of closest dirt road or a 1:20 hour flight in a bush plane. The cheapest way to fly to the cabin was in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub on tundra tires. The pilot told me he could carry 1 passenger and 200 lbs of supplies or a total of 400 pounds of supplies and no passenger.

When the pilot dropped me off he told me “If I am in the area I will check on you” He did not have any charters that way so he did not check on me that winter.

I got out of the plane with a full back pack of gear, a duffel bag of supplies and a 30-06 rifle. I had to walk a few miles to the cabin. I left the duffel bag in a tree to retrieve later. With a full back pack and my rifle I walked as fast as I could to the cabin. I was excited to see “My cabin” at last. What a shock I had when I saw the cabin! The old Trapper had lived many winters in the cabin and told me it was built strong. What I found was a small log shack with a dirt floor and sod roof. In the cabin a wood stove, a hand built bed frame and table. A old bed mattress suspended by wire from the rafters. There were traps, snow shoes, ax, bow saw, one man cross cut saw, files, a lantern and the other basics that are needed to survive the Alaska winter as a trapper. The trapper had not been to the cabin for four years. At least 60% of the food supply that I was counting on had been eaten by rodents or had spoiled.

First lesson learned! If you count on food to be there when you need it, You better have had your food stored in a very secure way or you may go hungry. Theft is also something to be considered in today’s society and in TEOTWAWKI losing your food cache would be disastrous

Most people think it must have been boring spending 4 ½ months alone in a cabin. The reality is I was too busy just trying to cut enough wood to stay warm and skin the marten, fox or wolf that I trapped or shot. I was cold, hungry and exhausted most of the time. I never had the time to get board. Being a green horn at trapping I only averaged 1 animal a week and it was usually shot instead of trapped.

The first winter at the cabin.

As soon as I walked into the cabin I I knew I was in trouble. I did not have the 4-to-5 month supply of food I needed. I had a topo map of the trapping area only but did not have the maps to get me back to the road or town, Second lesson! Make your Egress plans ahead of time and have at least 2 good contingency plans.

Thankfully in the cabin there were two steel drums with snap ring lids that were full of dry goods and on the shelves were some cans of dried goods that were also still good. The following list is what was still edible in the cabin as best as I can remember

  • 50 lbs Bisquick
  • 50 lbs Beans
  • 25 lbs Rice
  • 10 Lbs Lentils
  • 20 lbs Oatmeal
  • 10 lbs Coffee
  • 2 lbs black pepper
  • 10 lbs Crisco
  • 4 lbs Honey
  • 25 lbs salt

The supplies along with a young moose I shot did keep me alive but it was no fun. I had youth and enthusiasm on my side and knew the situation was temporary. I decided to just make it a challenge and kind of live some of my grandfather's stories first hand for myself. I had in my pack 1 roll of toilet paper but there was none at the cabin

Third Lesson! Birch bark, snow or small pine cones work but make a very poor substitute for toilet paper. I also learned later that winter that at -40 your butt will freeze to a wood toilet seat in the outhouse. Make a toilet seat for the outhouse out of hard blue Styrofoam for winter will make using the outhouse less of a pain in the butt.

As fall quickly turned to winter the lake next to the cabin froze and the temp continued to drop. The high quality mountaineering boots I had used in the high Sierra mountains of California and Nevada were not anywhere near warm enough and did not have removable liners so the boots were hard to dry.

Forth lesson Pac boots with 2 sets of liners or bunny boots are must have items for cold environments.

Many times during the winter I could have shot Grouse or Ptarmigan If I had a 22 pistol. That would have added much wanted variety to the menu. The other problem I learned is if you get a wolf or wolverine in one of your traps a 30-06 blows too big a hole in the hide and destroys most of the value of the fur.

Fifth Lesson! a .22 rifle or pistol is a must have item.

After 2 months my clothes were in bad shape. Most Light weight high tech clothing used for backpacking or mountaineering is not designed for day to day hard use and does not hold up to rigors outdoor work for the long haul. High quality wool clothing does a lot better over the long haul and is not susceptible to melting next to a fire like nylon is. Yes wool is heavy and takes longer to dry but in my opinion for working in the woods wool is the way to go.

Sixth lesson ! clothing made for loggers, Surveyors and commercial fisherman may be heavy but it last a lot better than sporting gear. Filson is the best.

My diet was boring and I was always hungry after two months. I started getting sick and my teeth seemed to be getting loose. It finally dawned on me that I had no intake of Vitamin C. I may have had Scurvy. Remembering something I learned from my grandfather I started eating rose hips that were dried and still hanging on a few bushes near the cabin. Thankfully we did not have deep snows that year so I could find a few rose hips. I was lucky! Seventh Lesson! make sure you have a source of Vitamin C.

Every time I took my rifle inside the warm cabin it would condensate and the rifle would get wet.

Eighth Lesson If you bring a rifle into a warm cabin from a below freezing environment it will condensate, this promotes corrosion in addition the moisture in the bolt may be frozen the next time you are outside in the cold. If you do bring a weapon in from the cold strip it down, dry it and clean it. I left my rifle outside next to the door for most of the winter and only brought it in to clean. This would not work in a TEOTWAWKI so other tactics will have to be developed.

One morning there was a small earth quake that got me to thinking of my family and the outside world. Started felling very alone. Starting thinking what if the Russians had dropped “the bomb” I would not know it.

Lesson #9! Being able to at least hear what is going on in the outside world helps your mental attitude a lot. A radio to listen to the news was smoothing I longed for.

Snow shoes are easy to use and most anyone will figure them out quickly. When you are working on snow shoes you will fall now and then. Lesson # 10 tape the muzzle of your rifle to keep snow out of the barrel when you take the invariable header into the snow. I use electrical tape or put a condom over the muzzle of all my rifles in the field to keep everything out of the barrel. It will not affect accuracy unless you are shooting over 300 yards.

The winter was full of hardship and big education. I did enjoy it but given a choice I would not want to repeat that Winter. In the spring I sold my furs in Anchorage. The fur buyer could tell I had never trapped before as the way I had prepared the pelts was poor at best. I got .20 cents on the dollar for my pelts and I think that was generous on the part of the fur buyer. 4-½ months of hard work and after paying the bush pilot along with the money I still owed the trapper I would have less than $100. The trapper met me at the fur buyer after paying him for his traps he was now very friendly and asked me many questions. He encouraged me to go back for at least one more winter. He told me to go get a bath and haircut and meet him at the White Spot cafe down the street in downtown Anchorage and he would buy me a good meal. While eating he handed me a the following list

  • 90 lbs bisquick
  • 50 lbs Beans
  • 50 lbs Rice
  • 25 lbs Salt
  • 25 lbs Lentils
  • 20 lbs oatmeal
  • 10 lbs Sugar
  • 10 lbs lard
  • 10 lbs powdered milk
  • 10 lbs split peas
  • 10 lbs Tang [freeze-dried orange juice powder]
  • 10 lbs coffee
  • 10 lbs noodles
  • 1 case tomato paste
  • 5 lbs strawberry Jam
  • 4 lbs honey
  • 2 lbs pepper
  • 5 gal White gasoline
  • 4 large boxes wood matches
  • 24 large Plumber's Candles
  • 8 rolls toilet paper
  • 6 lantern mantels
  • 7 Lbs Trapping wire
  • Gun oil
  • Trapping lures and scents

This was the list of supplies that the trapper had the pilot bring to the cabin each spring when the plane came to pick him up. This filled what would have otherwise been an empty plane. In early April the lake next to the cabin was still frozen so the plane would land on skis and taxi next to the cabin. The pilot and trapper would put the supplies into the cabin then the pilot flew the trapper back to town.

The Trapper then informed me that he had purchased the supplies for me and was having them flown to the cabin along with 2 more steel drums to safely store the supplies in.

The "Rifle and a Backpack" Myth

I often get a chuckle from people that think they can fill a back pack and head into the woods and survive long term with what is in a back pack. Until recently I spent most of my life guiding in Alaska and in Africa. I spent an average 110 days a year living out of a back pack under a tarp or in a pup tent, and another 180 days each year living in a remote cabins without electricity or running water.

In an uninhabited game rich environment with a rifle and only a back pack of gear I could survive for a period of time. How long could I survive? I do not know as there are too many variables.

What I do know is in the case of TEOTWAWKI where many people would be fleeing the cities and overcrowding the wild places looking for food I could not survive trying to live off the land with only a back pack full of gear. There will simply not be the recourses available. If a skilled person had no ethics they could take to stealing, looting, probably murder/cannibalism they might make it long term starting with only a back pack full of gear. For me and my family I believe in preparing now and stocking up while food and supplies are available and reasonably priced.

In the early 1980s I bought a lot of my supplies from a sporting goods/gun store in Anchorage. The store maintained an excellent inventory for hunters, trappers or survivalists. The store manager could talk the talk on both survival and hunting. One fall he hired me to take him on a 14-day bow hunting trip into the Alaska bush and film the adventure. He also hired a young guy that had just moved to Alaska from Georgia to help carry camera gear. I was concerned regarding the greenhorn from Georgia and even more concerned when I saw his marginal gear. The Georgia greenhorn however did fine and was a huge help on the trip. The trip however was a complete failure. The store manager had every neat gadget I had ever seen and many that I had never heard of. His pack was too full to carry any of the food or camera gear. He was out of shape and his pack was also too heavy for him to comfortably carry. After the float plane dropped us off on a high mountain lake we planned to walk for a week to my cabin hunting Dall Sheep on the way. Then at the Cabin we planned to hunt Moose and Grizzly. During the first 2 days the store manager left a lot of gadgets and some much needed gear on the trail to lighten his pack. I was stunned as I thought this guy knew his stuff but he was totally bewildered on how to apply his knowledge or gear in the field. One of the things I still clearly remember is he actually dumped all of his extra socks and his rain gear at the first nights camp. Leaving that gear behind cost him dearly. The Greenhorn from Georgia was a farm kid and was able to adapt to the Alaska bush even with his marginal gear and lack of knowledge of the Alaska bush. The store manager never made a single stalk on any animal as it became a challenge to just get the store manager to the cabin. By the time we got him to the cabin his feet were so badly blistered he could hardly walk and could not even carry his own pack or bow. This rambling story actually has a point. I had heard the store manager tell many people before our trip that with his properly equipped backpack he could easily survive in the bush indefinitely. My grandfather use to say: "Ignorance is bliss but it will not put food on the table."

My Second Winter

I still had a lot to learn but this winter was a lot better. First thing when I arrived at the cabin was to see that the supplies were all there and in fine shape. I also had topo maps and now knew 3 different routes to get back to civilization. It was at least a 2 week walk but I at least knew the routes to get there.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation if you are at your retreat in the winter you will probably also get into a routine. That could be both good and bad. Think security and mix the times up so ambush is harder for the goons to set up.

Winter set in, an in my second winter in the cabin, it did not take long to get into my routine. Every day starts the same. At approximately 6:00 A.M. The alarm clock goes off. What I mean the stove has only a few coals left and the cabin is freezing so I have to get up and stoke the fire. Then step outside into the extreme cold. Cut a log into rounds and this is done in the dark. Then go down to the lake still in the dark (batteries for the flashlight are too precious to waste and so is gas for the lantern) carefully chip the ice around each of five fishing lines with a hatchet. Pull up the hook hoping for a burbut (fresh water ling cod) reset the bait, haul water back to the cabin. If I had not caught a fish for breakfast then on the meat pole next to the cabin I used the saw and cut off a frozen chunk of caribou. Still dark and I am cold, step into the cabin warm up my frozen hands, dry my gloves and cook breakfast on the wood stove. Then put the dutch oven with beans, lentils or rice on the wood stove to rehydrate while I am gone for the day. Pack my lunch: two pancakes with a slab of cooked caribou meat in the middle, also put one tablespoon of tang into my insulated water bottle then fill it with hot water from the pot on the stove. Warm tang makes a nice mid morning warm up on the trail and is a source of Vitamin C.

As it is just starting to get light strap on the snow shoes and head out pulling the sled. If it has not snowed I can walk on top of the packed trail with the snow shoes on the sled.

The day is spent dragging the sled checking and resetting traps while constantly looking for a wolf, fox or wolverine to shoot. During each day I must also find a dry standing dead spruce tree to cut down and limb with the ax then using the sled haul it back to the cabin. Must always be on my main trail with everything tied onto the sled before it is completely dark. Days are short: the mid-winter sun is only up for 4 ½ hrs. I used my flashlight is only for emergencies.

Following a packed trail is easy in the dark just remember to get behind the sled on any downhill or the sled will hit you in the back of your legs and could break a snowshoe or your leg. Usually get back to the cabin long after dark.

Lesson # 11 Cross country skis are no substitute for snow shoes.

The snow shoes at the cabin were old and on the last legs of useful life. Instead of bringing a new set of snow shoes I had purchased a new set of back country cross country skis to the cabin. I thought I would use the snow shoes as a backup. Learned that skis are not as good to work on as snow shoes for doing chores or trapping. Skis have a place and can save time but are not a replacement for snow shoes. In snow country snow shoes are essential and skis are a nice luxury.

Each night when I finally arrive at the cabin I am tired and hungry. First thing is to start the fire then fix dinner. After dinner if I was lucky that day I can light the lantern and skin whatever I had trapped or shot after it has thawed. 9:15 PM is the highlight of the day! I get to listen to the AM radio for 45 minutes.

Lesson #8 and had brought a radio this time. Always hoping Caribou Clatters has a message for me from my family. Allow myself 45 minutes to read by lantern or candle light. 11:00 PM re-stoke the fire and collapse on the bed. The radio, dinner and sleep are the reward of a day’s hard work. Around 2:30 AM the fire has burned to just a few coals and I get cold, get up put more wood on and go back to sleep. The next thing I know it is 6:00 AM the fire has burned to just a few coals and it is freezing in the cabin and the day starts all over again.

Lesson #12 In a cold winter climate Use no oil in the bolt or trigger assembly of your rifle as it may freeze. I tried to shoot at a wolf (a wolf hide was then worth $450) when I pulled the trigger on my rifle it only went click. The firing pin would not strike the primer with enough force to set off the primer. After the second try and another click the wolf ran off and out of range. That was only an expensive lesson. In a TEOTWAWKI it could have been some one shooting at me and I would have had a useless rifle.

On my daily trips to check the fishing lines and get water I knew the ice was 28” thick and still getting thicker each week. A December day the temp was -27 F and I was crossing the outlet end of a small lake to check out some tracks. Not worrying as I thought the ice was 28” thick everywhere I fell through the ice and found myself waist deep in water. This was two miles from my cabin It was all I could do to make it to the cabin.

Lesson #13 any out let or inlet of a frozen lake may have thin ice also a warm spring or other things can cause thin ice. The fire was out in my stove and no coals were left. I had a very hard time getting a fire started and as a last resort used white gas and almost burned down the cabin.

Lesson #14 have the kindling and all the fixings of a fire ready any time you leave your cabin. You never know when someone may be at the end of their strength and need to get a fire going.

One evening in early January I returned to the cabin to find a note and care package on the table from the bush pilot. The pilot had brought me a bag of oranges, a fruit cake and a newspaper. He also left three letters from my family. It was if I had won the lottery

As the snow got deeper during the winter I started finding that many animals liked to use my packed trail. I learned never underestimate the danger of a moose particularly in the winter if they are on a packed trail they may charge you instead of going into deep snow. I had a cow moose chase me up a tree then stomp my on sled and break one of my snow shoes.

Lesson #15 Moose are dangerous, especially late winter

In early February I came across Grizzly tracks in the snow. I was shocked as I thought that bears would be in the den all winter. I followed the tracks and found the bear had made a moose kill.

Lesson # 16 Grizzly bears and black bears do not truly hibernate and may be out of the den during any month of the year. Over the years I learned if a bear is away from his den in the winter it will be hungry and grumpy.

As a kid I loved watching western movies. It seemed to me cowboys wore their handgun in a low slung fast draw holster and I thought that was cool. The western style fast draw holsters I tried in the bush were useless. I now see that some law enforcement and military teams are using a thigh mounted holster. I am not disputing the tactical points of that method but if you are working in the woods you will occasionally fall into snow or mud. That is when you want your hand gun in a full flap holster or in a normal holster worn under the last layer of clothing. Getting your hand gun into your hand fast is of no use if it will not fire when you need it.

Lesson #18 Select holsters that will allow you to comfortably carry your hand gun with you at all times and will protect the weapon from the elements. I have tried over 40 different holsters and method of carrying my handgun. I strongly suggest you experiment now on how to carry your own handgun. Find something that works for you. I presently use three different holsters:

  • A holster that I use to carry concealed when I am in a city environment.
  • A holster when I am working in the bush.
  • A holster when I am flying float planes.

In March, the bush pilot landed on the frozen lake with 400 lbs of supplies. He helped me put the food into the steel drums for the next trapping season then flew me back to town.

I had spent 160 days alone in the bush trapping. I sold my furs to the fur buyer in Anchorage. After paying the bush pilot for the supplies and flights to the cabin and back I had cleared $2,700.

I learned a lot that winter and over the years refined the old trappers list to keep me well fed and a lot happier.

A More Complete Supply List

After my experiences the first two winters, I composed the following list. This is for one man for five to six months. It was refined for my personal taste and needs in the Alaska bush. The old trapper that I got my first list from made do with a lot less than what I took. This list is tried and true and not a just theory that someone made up. I had around 200 traps and ran the line on snowshoes, foot and skis. Cut my firewood by hand (no chain saw) and hauled my water from the lake in buckets. It was hard work 12-15 hours a day 7 days a week and I burned a lot of calories. Using the following list I ate well and always had plenty of supplies left in the spring:

  • 50 lbs Flour
  • 50 lbs Bisquick
  • 25 lbs Pancake mix
  • 35 lbs Sugar
  • 50 lbs Pinto Beans
  • 25 lbs Rice
  • 40 lbs Salt pork
  • 25 lbs Salt
  • 10 lbs Dried prunes
  • 10 lbs Raisons
  • 10 lbs Dried apricots
  • 10 lbs Dried apples
  • 10 lbs Dried peaches
  • 25 lbs Oatmeal
  • 10 lbs Honey
  • 2 cases Tomato paste
  • 25 lbs powdered milk
  • 15 lbs [canned] Butter
  • 25 lbs Corn meal
  • 25 lbs [canned] Cheese
  • 20 lbs Spaghetti Noodles
  • 10 lbs Crisco
  • 15 lbs Hot cocoa mix
  • 10 lbs Dried eggs
  • 5 lbs Strawberry Jam
  • 3 lbs Apricot Jam
  • 2 boxes Pilot bread
  • 1 gal Maple Syrup
  • 180 Multi vitamins
  • 180 Vitamin C
  • 1 lb [powdered dry] Yeast
  • 180 Tea bags
  • 1 lbs Pepper
  • 1 lbs
  • Baking soda
  • 8 lbs
  • Dried onions
  • 1 lb Baking powder
  • 1 lb. Corn starch
  • 24 oz Garlic powder
  • 12 oz Vanilla
  • 2 rolls aluminum foil
  • 1/2 gal Dish soap
  • 5 bars non-scented soap
  • 36 Canning lids (to can meat if we had a winter thaw or for leftover in the spring)
  • 8 oz Hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 oz Iodine
  • 12 rolls Toilet paper
  • 2 Small sponges
  • 2 Scrub pads
  • 1 roll Duct Tape
  • 4 boxes of wooden Matches
  • 24 Plumber's candles
  • 500 rounds .22 long rifle hollow point ammo
  • 100 .308 ammo 125 grain hollow point varmint ammo
  • 20 rounds .308 ammo 180 grain (for Moose or Caribou )
  • Trapping license and regulations
  • Hunting license, moose tags and caribou tags
  • New snowshoe bindings
  • 1 truck inner tube
  • 3 New hacksaw blades
  • 2 New Ax handles
  • 8 Bow saw blades
  • 36 oz Lanolin
  • 6 Disposable lighters
  • 12 gal White gas [aka Coleman Fuel]
  • 12 Lantern mantels
  • 6 oz. Gun oil
  • Trapping Lures, urine and musk
  • 10 lbs Trap wax
  • 2 rolls Survey ["flagging"] tape
  • 1 pair Heavy Neoprene trapping gloves
  • 7 lbs Trapping wire( 50% 12 ga and 50% 14 ga)
  • 50 ft Trap Chain #2 and #3
  • 24 Links
  • 24 Swivels
  • AM Radio with 8 extra 9 volt batteries
  • 8’ New stove pipe for cabin stove
  • 4 Leather awl needles and 50’ waxed thread
  • Extra shoulder straps for pack frame
  • Extra hip belt for pack
  • New lid for fry pan 14”
  • 100’ - 3/8 nylon rope
  • 12x18” glass to replace cracked window
  • Personal items
  • 1 Wool Jacket
  • 2 Wool pants
  • 2 Work pants
  • 1 Pair insulated Carhartt coveralls
  • 4 Pair work gloves
  • 2 Pair heavy winter over mittens.
  • Winter trappers hat
  • 1 pair
  • Pack boots with 2 sets liners
  • 1 pair Bunny Boots
  • 1 Wool sweater
  • 4 pair long sleeved wool shirts
  • 3 pair Wool long john pants
  • 3 pair Wool long john shirts
  • 8 pair Wool socks
  • 8 pair Cotton socks
  • 6 pair Underpants
  • 1 Bible
  • 2 flying ground school books
  • 6 Short sleeve Cotton shirts
  • Tooth brush
  • Tooth powder
  • 2 rolls dental floss
  • Carried or in an external frame pack:
  • 1 .308 rifle
  • 1 22 pistol (Colt Woodsman)
  • Rain coat
  • Rain pants
  • Insolite sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag
  • 10x12’ and 4x8’ light nylon tarps
  • Flashlight
  • Flashlight batteries
  • Binoculars, 10x40
  • Green River skinning knife, caping knife, boning knife.
  • Small stone, small file and small diamond steel
  • Compass
  • Topo maps 1:250,000 scale
  • 2 Candles
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Lighter
  • Small cook pot with lid
  • Water bottle
  • 100’ Parachute cord
  • Small First aid kit with Large suture needles and suture, in sealed pack
  • Mini channel locks (Snap-on) used for sutures and other things
  • Pack repair kit
  • ¾-length Hand ax. (Estwing)
  • Small shovel
  • Bow saw with extra blade
  • 1 pair wool socks
  • Wire snares
  • Fish hooks and line
  • 25’ .042” stainless wire
  • 1 lb Dried soup mix

Inyokern spotted a web page on a 1 oz. beverage can stove which burns denatured alcohol. Inyokern notes: "This is a great bug-out bag item that is popular with Blue Ridge ultralight backpackers. This, plus fishing line, a folding knife, hooks, and a pan or pot with a lid would make a lightweight emergency kit."

   o o ox

F.G. sent this: South Carolina mayor prohibits cops from chasing suspects either by car, or on foot!

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J.B. found a piece that describes urban camouflage: the 'Special Operations Tactical Suit' (SOTACS)

   o o o

Reader A.V. was the first of several to mention a recent Dilbert comic strip.

"Better prepare for confrontation than hope that the enemy will not come;
Better ensure one’s defense is impenetrable than hope that the enemy will not attack." - Sun-Tzu The Art of War, 6th Century, B.C.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and I have a different outlook that I would like for you to comment on if you would be so kind. I have seen multiple references to pre-1965 coins being good for barter in a post-SHTF environment, but I do not follow this reasoning. I live in Dallas Texas, and frequently converse with other like minded people about survival preparation and the world climate and, until I told them about the high melt value of pre-1965 coins, they had no idea it was greater than the face value. It should not have struck me as odd as I myself had no idea of this before I began reading your blog. These are well informed people, so it made me wonder how common this knowledge was. I began asking various people about this, and not one person had any idea that these coins had a higher silver value than their face value. Here is my perspective on this subject.

In a post SHTF environment some people will have prepared and some won't. However, regardless of this, when it comes time to trade with others the universal doctrines will apply. 1. You will have to have something that I want for me to trade you what you want. 2. A think worth what someone is willing to pay for it, not it's asking price. Now, if the vast majority of people have no idea that pre-1965 coins are almost the same as silver, most of them will likely have no desire for them at all, or worse, think that you are trying to scam them by pushing a trade with a currency which is likely defunct. Further, due to the probable lack of access to information, it is unlikely that people would be able to research the claim that these coins are worth more than their face value. Thereby keeping the populace at large ignorant of their true commodity value, and keeping the coins out of the trading markets.

I believe that the only scenario in which pre-1965 coins could come to be regarded as a barter good would be if people that already knew of their value agreed to take them in as trade for something that the ignorant populace already believed had value, such as ammunition or food. Again, however, there is a very small percentage of the populace that has knowledge of the melt value of pre-1965 coins, much less has a stockpile of them to use after the SHTF. Therefore, I believe it to be unlikely that there would be enough people, in enough varied locations, willing to make a sufficient number of trades of their items for coins for the trend of pre-1965 coinage as a barter good to become ubiquitous in the "villages" or "trading posts". Due to these perspectives, I find it to be unlike that the new "villages" or "trading posts", that spring up out of the ashes of our previous society, will use pre-1965 coins as even an uncommon trading good.

Most of the idea behind amassing coins for preparedness I believe to be tied to the value of silver, and the above illustrations assume that silver will be valued after the crash. However, after the crash I do not find it likely that silver will have any value at all for the the majority of the people. Very few people will be so well -prepared that they will have enough that they can concern themselves with amassing hard wealth for when society returns. I am certain that the majority will be trying to just survive as best they can. While there will be a Rolex or a diamond ring traded for a few tins of tuna, this will likely be an uncommon occurrence as society continues to devolve. Few people will have so much that they can trade away usable resources for hard value items in mass. While people may have the memory that silver used to be valuable, after having spent some time circling the drain with the rest of society, it is unlikely that they will have found a use for it since it can neither be used to defend nor feed one's self. It is more likely that a wealthy man will be one that has enough food, warmth, defense, and shelter to survive indefinitely. That only leave silver coins as an easily identifiable currency.

So, let us suppose that there are places that have almost gotten back to some sense of civilizations, such as the "villages" or "trading posts". As such they will likely want to use some form of currency. However, as we look to the past to inform the future, it is more likely that each community, or group of communities, will develop their own individual currencies in an effort to avoid counterfeiting and theft. Historically, in the absence of a centralized government, individual communities do what they feel they must to survive and to insure that they function as smoothly as possible. This is likely to focus more on food and defence, items that provide life stability, than it is on amassing hard value items.

In order for silver coins to have a value a person needs to want them from you more than they want to keep what you want from them. I can not see any functionally use for silver after the crash. I know that there are a great many very intelligent people that firmly believe that these coins will have a high value post SHTF, so I feel like I must be missing something. I would be most appreciative if you would share your views on the reasoning that I have outlined. I am very hesitant to invest in pre-1965 coins as a future barter good until I am convinced that it is a better investment than just using the same money to buy more food, guns, or ammunition. The ideal of having a compact, universal, and non-degrading barter good available when the time comes is very appealing, I'm just not sure that it is silver coins. - Russell from Dallas

JWR Replies: I stand by my prediction that in the event of a currency collapse, pre-1965 junk silver will very quickly become adopted as a de facto barter currency. Many people may not presently be familiar with these coins, but once the US Dollar's value disintegrates, people will wise up to what constitutes real money, very rapidly. Adaptability is in the nature of free markets. It won't take more than a couple of months for prices to stabilize in the new reality of silver coins, packs of cigarettes, boxes of .22 cartridges, and gallons of gasoline--in barter. I predict that within a month, the sound of ringing silver coins will become familiar--starting first at "mom and pop" stores and at farmer's markets. These coins will be eagerly sought in barter, because they encapsulate all of the key attributes of a genuine tangible currency: recognizability, scarcity, durability, portability, fungibility, and divisibility. Being 90% silver, they also have useful industrial value. No barter currency is perfect, but pre-1965 coins come very close, at least for use here in the United States.

Hello James;
I was just today shopping at the good ol value village and saw this book called Cooking With Stored Foods by Carlene Tejada and Carroll Latham. It contains great tips on storing foods and cooking stored foods. It lists also the shelf life of stored foods and there are diagrams for gravity fed can storage systems. I got it for ninety nine cents but your readers can find it on for as little as $0.67 [plus postage]. God bless and many prayers for the loss of your Memsahib - Eric L

JWR Replies: Thanks for that recommendation. Another book on using storage foods that I consider a must is Making the Best of Basics - Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens. I heard that the 11th edition is about to be released.

Mr. Rawles,
I have read your blog for awhile, I would like to know if you about the following: I was diagnosed with Graves Disease over two years ago. They cured the Graves Disease and the way that was done was to completely remove my thyroid gland, If the main concern with radiation is thyroid cancer, without a thyroid what would radiation do are what organ would it damage the most. I would like to also know if there would be any need for myself to take Potassium Iodide (KI).

JWR Replies: There would be no need for you to take KI, since it only serves to "load" a thyroid gland with iodine and hence prevent the accumulation of radioactive isotopes that would otherwise accumulate there. Beyond that, in terms of "internal emitters", all that you should remember is to avoid fresh dairy products (since isotopes like Strontium-90 tend to accumulate in milk), and to drink a regular quantity of fluids, to keep your kidneys flushed.

Since you are post-operative, you can jokingly refer to yourself as partially "radiation proof." (At least you don't have to worry as much as the rest of us about radioactive iodine isotopes.)

From a preparedness standpoint, you should look into stocking up on your regular hypothyroid (glandular replacement) prescription, (assuming that you have one). Do so as much as possible, up to the maximum shelf life. And of course you should consistently rotate this supply, using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method.

From Heather H.: Hand Washing No Defense Against Swine Flu

FDA Approves Vaccines for Swine Flu (But there are lots of doubts about the safety of the vaccine. Do some research before taking the jab!)

H1N1 Brings Early Flu Season to Colleges, Public Schools

Canada anger at 'flu body bags' Canada's health minister orders an inquiry after body bags are sent to aboriginal communities as part of swine flu preparations.

"Freedoms assumed become freedoms forgotten, freedoms forgotten will become freedoms lost." – Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Theological Seminary

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In answer to those of you that have asked: Please wait until "Book Bomb" Day -- September 30th -- to place your order for my forthcoming nonfiction book, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". Dealers won't be able to ship it until then, anyway. With the Book Bomb event, I hope to drive the book's sales rank into Amazon's Top 100, overall. Because of the strength of the pre-orders (even though I've asked people to delay ordering!) Penguin Books has increased the size of the first press run order to 20,000 copies. Even the though the book is still more than a week from release, its Amazon Sales Rank is already below #400, overall, out of four million cataloged titles.


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

Yes, I actually said relaxation. Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with chores, or frazzled and just flat out fatigued trying to accomplish everything you must do in a workday on the homestead?

I have recently lost my right arm support on my homestead. As all of you know who are practicing “prepper’s” of self-sufficiency, the Fall season, which by the way is my favorite, is almost equal to that of Spring in the number and intensity of the tasks and chores that must be performed in order to keep your slice of heaven on earth in sequence of the time cycle of Mother Nature. It’s time to close the garden and fields, and plant green fertilizer legumes or over-seed  it with clover for the spring, overwinter and greenhouse enclose any vegetation you intend to keep through the next planting season, fertilize the fruit bearing trees in your orchard and prune back vines, the fruit bearing bramble bushes and your blueberries. Then there is the winter prep for animal housing, feed, mineral and fodder storage for wintering, getting that hay put up into the hay loft from the field, cut and stack cords of firewood, and attend to the fuel stores required that will be used over the long colder days which are approaching in short chronological ordering.

By that loss of support, I mean that my best half of my marriage partnership has unexpectedly been called to work performing medical duty on a base which is unreasonably too far to commute home daily.  Thus, I am winging and carrying out the normal daily chores and tasks which had previously utilized 75% of my available waking hours already in performing productive homestead work. With his absence, I am now electing to pick up the difference of all the seasonal chores as well.  At first, I admit with no shame, I was panicked and overwhelmed at just the thought of undertaking all our homestead chores alone. I prayed as I worked.  Allot. I asked the Lord our God for strength, for physical durability and mental application of my wisdom and knowledge, and for fortitude. I set out on this journey to come up with a written task sheet showing myself exactly what must be done, when, and set realistic expected dates of target completion. What I have learned, and am still learning, with every step and breath I take, is that there are many useless, inefficient steps that we take every single day. We do them over and over because that’s the way we’ve always done them. Or, that’s the way a husband did them who could lift twice what I can, did them. Here are some examples of time and work saving issues I have addressed and corrected so far in this learning and revision process. This has really been a experience of self observation and revision of old work habits. Now I can say, “Yes, it can and will be done.” I have been sole paddling this canoe over and through the rough waters for 4 months now. It was not possible without reworking some old work habits and practices.

The initial first days and weeks I noticed just how many actual footsteps and trips I made going back and forth to the feed containers. It was numerous, a wasteful expenditure of my body energy and time consumptive. I never noticed it before, because there were two of us splitting that energy by half.  I was also doing it in a leisurely manner. I immediately set out to rework the setup of my animal chores from what I observed and learned. The first revision made was physically moving those numerous 32 gallon galvanized containers of different feeds from one central feeding location,  to the external walls next to each of the separate animal housing areas of our dairy goats,  both nanny and bucks, which are separated by paddocks across a large field, and also for our guard dogs pen. This also included the poultry, duck, geese, and guinea fowl pens. We have separate securely penned housing for all the poultry, a “nursery” and their mama’s, due to the annual history of high fowl losses by predation of red foxes, and coons in the Fall.  So, they all get penned up in the late summer and for overwintering. This one revision action has saved me 10 trips back and forth to one central feed location.  I also used individual scoopfuls before for serving up each of corn, scratch grains, and sunflower seeds. I observed the pen floor. All those grains ended up mixed and thrown together by the poultry anyway.  Why was I still scooping grain individually? Revision two, the grain, and seeds, and pellets, all go into one large 5 gallon bucket. One trip.  Completed. Now my extra time is spent in observing the animals and pens for actual or potential problems that I need to address for them.

The poultry watering is obtained by a central well head pump and hose which is 30 feet from the pens in any direction.  Each time I had to untangle a central hose and drag it around the yard to get to the pens. A 100 ft. run of Rubber hose is heavy! I installed a 5 head, split manifold on the spigot with a master shutoff. This now allows me to have numerous shorter hoses, (I cut the 100 footer into three shorter hoses using mending kits) at each pen location.  No more carting 7 gallon waterier containers across the yard. [JWR Adds: For providing livestock water, getting an inexpensive automatic float valve for each livestock tank is a tremendous labor saver. In warm climates these can be used year-round, but in cold climates, you'll have to remove them for the coldest months to prevent cracking in sub-zero weather.] Next, I installed an overhang shelter to protect each of the feeding stations. It keeps the rain, and snow which sometimes comes in winter off of me, and also shields the open feed containers from the weather while I’m scooping into the buckets. It also has given me an area to hang the tools that I use for each set of animals and I can keep a reserve bale of hay there as well. This saves me numerous trips and energy going back and forth to the barn. I installed a T-post pole mounted liquid soap dispenser at each of our watering locations. They used to be attached on the outbuildings. I attached a short hose extension to one of the vacant manifold outlets with a shutoff switch. This is used only for hand washing.

I observed and made instant mental note, as to how many footsteps I was taking to avoid or sidestep an object, large rock, or bush in the field or paddocks, or how many times I tripped over that same old stump sitting out the ground. Or, how many times I needed to open and close a gate latch. All of these can be revised or removed. I had the stumps ground. I moved field hay feeders closer to the fence, same with mineral blocks. I took out bushes.

The examples of revisions I have made toward a more efficient workplace are numerous and too many to list here. I hope you get the gist of this message in this process, so you can observe and create your own revisions of inefficient work habits or routines.  It is truly an ongoing process and perpetual and continually refined and never static, toward an end goal target of your homestead efficiency success. Keenly observe what you do with your energy and time. Make each and every step you take count toward productivity and efficiency of both your physical energy and time expenditure, and you will find that you will get everything you must get done completed. After four months of reworking some old habits, practices, and farmstead layouts, we now have quality time left for us.  When hubby does get to come home for a long 3 or 4 day stretch off in his schedule, we do some quality enjoyment functions and enjoy some relaxation together, or we tackle a planned project that absolutely requires two efficiently operating people to get it done.

Remember, and honor what the Lord God said, Genesis 2:2, "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made".

Rest and Relaxation is the reward for all your hard earned work. Make plans for that rest as well as your work. May you all have a God Blessed and Happy Fall season!

"Option" mortgages to explode, officials warn. (This is not a news flash for SurvivalBlog readers--I first warned you about this in March of '07, and several times since.) A picture is worth a thousand words. BTW, I have found that this chart link is very useful to send to any deluded relatives who have bought into the lie that the real estate market has "bottomed" and that are planning to buy back into the market. US residential real estate is presently a playground for idiotic contrapreneurs. The very earliest that real estate could turn around in the US is 2013, and I actually expect it to be much later than that!

GG alerted us to Mish Shedlock's highlighting 'Black Swan' Taleb's frank comments on Bernanke and Summers

Garnet and Cheryl both mentioned the story of how one family got out of debt.

Items from The Economatrix:

Stalled Economy Will Take Years to Regain Speed

We Still Have the Same Disease

More Taxes -- Of Course! (The Mogambo Guru)

Where We Are on the Laffer Curve

Greenspan Sees Threat US Congress Will Hamper Fed

UN Calls For Replacement of US Dollar

Is Your Bank "Underwater"? Check its Debt Level

UCLA Report Sees Little or No Growth in California

Buffett Says US Economy Has Not Turned Up Yet (but last year's terror is gone)

Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large, sent a link to a fascinating web page about vehicular Cuban boat people. Talk about improvisation and ingenuity!

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FG sent a sixteen-second long YouTube video that shows the level of firearms competence that a 13 year-old girl is capable of. (The pinging noises are hits.) Are your teenagers her equal? If not, then get them to the range more often, and schedule some training!

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Frequent content contributor FG sent this news of "Clunkers" program that I agree with: Purchase a new SIG-Sauer P220, P226, P229, 1911, SIG556 pistol, or SIG556 rifle from your dealer’s inventory before November 30th, 2009, and SIG-Sauer will give you $200 for your old "Klunker" pistol or revolver.

"Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow." - Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today's entry is brief, as we prepare for a small family memorial gathering to honor the life of my late wife Linda ("The Memsahib") who passed away last weekend. My sincere thanks to the 40+ readers that have made Linda Rawles Memorial Fund contributions to benefit the Anchor Orphanage and School in Zambia. (Linda's favorite charity.) God bless you!

More trade war rumblings: China Condemns U.S. Tariffs on Tires as 'Protectionism'. (Our thanks to KAF for the link.)

Reader Laura H. mentioned: In 2009, US public debt will be approximately 90% of GDP "In 2009, US public debt will be approximately 90% of GDP. It will quickly approach and surpass 100% of GDP in the near future."

Items from The Economatrix:

Getting Better Bargains Easier in this Economy

Government Home Loan Agency Faces Cash Squeeze
. "The Federal Housing Administration said Friday that its financial cushion will sink below mandatory levels for the first time in its history, but officials insisted the agency won't need to be rescued."

42 States Lose Jobs in August, Up from 29 in July

FDIC Chief Considers Tapping Treasury for Funds "The chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says she is "considering all options, including borrowing from Treasury," to replenish the dwindling fund that insures bank deposits. ... Bair's remarks go beyond what she said just three weeks ago when asked about tapping the Treasury after the fund that insures regular deposit accounts up to $250,000 hit its lowest point since 1992, at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis. "Not at this point in time," she said on Aug. 27.... The FDIC's fund has slipped to 0.22 percent of insured deposits, below a congressionally mandated minimum of 1.15 percent." [And she didn't know this on August 27th?]

Stocks Advance as Investors Look to Resume Rally

Oil Down to $72 on Concerns Demand Recovery Slow

Gold Industry Faces Reserve Crisis

Celente: Revolution Next for US

Volcker Launches Bombshell on Wall Street and D.C.

An average of once per day, I get forwarded "warning" e-mails about two essentially mythical legislative threats: SB-2099 and HR-45. Let me clear up some misunderstandings: SB 2099 is dead in committee, and is a piece of Illinois state legislation (not Federal), with no co-sponsors. HR-45 (a.k.a. The Blair Holt bill) is an actual bill before the US House of Representatives but it is similarly dead in committee, with no co-sponsors. (See the last two paragraphs of its Snopes article. BTW, I consider it horribly disingenuous of the leftist Snopes editors to bury this information at the bottom of the article.) Please stop forwarding this nonsense, and instead concentrate your efforts on real legislative threats.

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Cheryl sent this: Poll: 45% of Doctors Would Consider Quitting if Health Care Overhaul is Passed. Contradicts what the White House and AMA are saying

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UK Think Tank Says US Power is Fading

"Human freedom is not a gift of man. It is an achievement by man; and as it was gained by vigilance and struggle so it may be lost in indifference and supineness." - Harry F. Byrd

Friday, September 18, 2009

Before her recent death, my wife Linda ("The Memsahib") asked that any memorial donations be made to her favorite charity, Anchor of Hope Charities, the main sponsor of the Anchor Institute, a Christian school and orphanage in rural Zambia. It is a very deserving charity, with hardly any overhead expenses. You can make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal, credit card, or by check. See the via PayPal/credit card page, or the mailing address for checks at the Anchor of Hope Charities Donation Page. Thanks for supporting this worthy charity! May God Bless You.

Pete A. spotted this one: Map: Household incomes by state. Look for some coming shifts in this map as the recession cum depression deepens. I think that the steepest declines in come will be on the coasts and in The Rust Belt. But a lot of my Recommended Retreat Areas may do better.

From Krys W.: US credit shrinks at Great Depression rate prompting fears of double-dip recession

Items from The Economatrix:

Money Market Funds No Longer Guaranteed. "... the US Government will no longer guarantee Money Market Funds. The key points are that the smart money is getting out of Money Market funds. Assets in these funds have declined by 15% in the last month. There is still $2 trillion in non-Treasury Money Market funds. Are you sure your Money Market fund is safe? The second and more important point is that the Treasury is trying to force this money into the biggest banks. Let's not let that happen. If you withdraw your money, put it in a local credit union or small bank in your community. But of course be sure to first check that institution's safety rating.

Peter Schiff Says Deflation Will Be BIG...when you measure it in gold

Foreign Demand For Long-Term US Securities Fall

Unemployment in Industrial World to Hit New High

Mortgage Problems are Walloping Americans' Credit Scores

Could China Propel Gold to $2,000?

"It Is Dangerous to Think the Financial Crisis is Already Behind Us"

Garfield Gets It
(The Mogambo Guru)

US Credit Card Defaults Up, Signals Consumer Stress

Which Crisis?

A reader mentioned a new web site that is worth a look: The Biblical View of Self-Defense

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Andrew D. suggested this from Popular Mechanics: Off-the-Grid Living – Self Reliance Through Home Solar and Wind Power and Farming

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FG flagged this: Sheriff's Department Responds to Sonic Device Outrage. Another article notes " The device was stationed by San Diego County Sheriff deputies at a recent town hall forum hosted by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) in Spring Valley and at a subsequent town hall with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego)." [JWR's comment: I guess that tasering folks one at a time was deemed inefficient. There is nothing quite like watching an entire crowd in symphonious agony. Joe Stalin would be proud.]

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Paul G. suggested this Treehugger article: Travel By Rail In Style on a RailRider. (Please take a few minutes to review the extant SurvivalBlog articles and letters on this topic, such as this one from 2007, especially the safety warnings.

“Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” - George Washington, Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior #56

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thanks for all of your prayers, in our family's time of profound grief. I'm presently doing my best to cope, but I'm still in the "bouts of sobbing" stage. If it were not for the certain knowledge that Linda (my late wife) is in heaven, and awaits reunion with all of Christ's elect, then I'd be totally distraught.

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. It was written by a US Border Patrol agent.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

I'd like to shed some light on what it might be like to move across an unfamiliar area without money or adequate supplies. This might come in handy when you have to bug out following a natural disaster or other societal disruption. It might provide tips on how to avoid apprehension or detection while traveling. In addition, it might help you in determining a place for your retreat and anticipating refugees. Finally it might prepare you for some of the emotional and physical stresses you will face if you find yourself bugging out.

I live on the US Mexico border and there is a constant flow of illegal aliens and drug smugglers passing through and around my city. I live in the busiest area for smuggling drugs and people in the United States. Being a Border Patrol agent I also have up to date information on the trends and tactics illegal aliens and drug smugglers use to avoid detection and move to the interior of the United States. I have also tracked and apprehended countless groups of illegal aliens and drug smugglers. I will try to pass on some of my knowledge of how these people move from Mexico to the United States.

Most illegal aliens are extremely poor and are willing to walk through the desert for days or weeks, sometimes with small children. There are exceptions to this; most of these are drug smugglers. They have plenty of money, support vehicles, scouts and communication equipment. My focus in this article will be aliens that jump the fence and walk across the desert.

They mostly move at night without flashlights. During the day they sleep in clumps of trees or rocks or in caves. They seldom travel alone. Most are in groups of two to twenty. The guides have developed networks of trails and hiding spots to move through the desert. Some larger groups have several guides with one or more on a high ridge top to provide information about the movements of the Border Patrol or other people that will inform law enforcement of their location. The guides use cell phones or two way radios to communicate. They guide their groups to water in cattle tanks or streams. The groups can go for days without eating. When we apprehend a group in is common for them to tell us about dead bodies they passed on their way. They also tell us of injured or sick aliens that were left behind. Most of the apprehended aliens ask for food and water right away. When we give them food they eat ravenously.

In most cases the guides follow natural and manmade landmarks. The most obvious are game trails and dirt roads. They also follow canyons, natural gas lines, electrical power lines, railroad tracks, rivers and fence lines. For example a group will travel 50 yards off to the side of railroad tracks in thick brush. (This might be a factor to consider when choosing a retreat location. You don’t want groups of refugees traveling near your retreat because they are following railroad tracks or electrical power lines.) They seldom travel on high ridges because our cameras and radar will pick up their movements. They usually walk down trails with thick trees and bushes providing cover. They like to move through deep canyons with sandy washes at the bottom. Many trails military crest ridges where our cameras cannot see. When they must travel through flat open areas they might wait for hours until all the Border Patrol vehicles clear from the area before they continue.

During the summer they travel at night because it is cooler. If they have enough water they will continue during the day and only stop when they absolutely have to sleep or if they get heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion affects your judgment and can lead to heat stroke and death very quickly. The best way to prevent this is to get out of the heat, drink plenty of water and reduce your physical activity. For some reason people with heat exhaustion remove their shoes. It does not occur to them to drink the rest of their water. I once found an alien under a tree nearly dead with a full bottle of water. When EMS arrived they had to give him four IV bags before he finally had to pee. It just shows how heat exhaustion can affect your judgment. Another time we found an alien sitting up with his legs crossed in the middle of a paved road with his shoes removed. He died sitting there waiting for a car to come rescue him. He probably did not realize that the blacktop in the sun is one of the hottest places for him to stop.

During the winter they walk at night because it is too cold to sit still. When there is no cloud cover the temperature can drop well below freezing. We use long range FLIR cameras and thermal imaging to locate groups. These cameras show small changes in temperature and you can actually see the cold air collected in valleys on still nights. A cow or rabbit shows up as a bright white spot on the screen because it is so warm compared to the surroundings. When groups stop on cold nights they usually stop at the military crest of a hill because the air is warmer at the top of a hill. During the day they sleep in areas hidden by trees and bushes. They huddle together to keep warm and many of the women get raped or assaulted. We find the "lay-ups" littered with empty food containers, water bottles, clothing and backpacks. There are some lay-ups that are so filled with junk it looks like you stumbled onto a landfill. This is also a common area to find dead bodies.

Part of my job is to search apprehended aliens for weapons or drugs. I have noticed they all carry the same items with very little variance. They are all wearing two or more pairs of pants and several shirts. I assume this is to avoid stickers and thorns and to keep warm. In the winter they have three or more pairs of pants and long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts and beanie caps. Their clothing is almost always dark colored. Most of the clothing is cotton and is very worn out. I have never caught an alien wearing Gore-tex or down. I can count on one hand the number of aliens I have caught wearing gloves.

Some of them have backpacks with meager supplies of food and water. The food is usually tortillas, bread and sometimes canned food. I have also seen quite a few aliens with Pedialyte. Other items include a cigarette lighter, plastic bag with raw garlic, identification cards, money and toilet paper. I am not sure what the garlic if for, maybe to keep mosquitoes away. When I ask them they usually just shrug and say they eat it. Some carry religious articles like rosary necklaces or virgin Guadalupe candles. This always amazes me they would carry a 2-pound candle for miles when they could have packed more food or water. Other items I find but not as often include cell phones, kitchen knives, medicine and pictures of family members. I have never found a flashlight, multi-tool, compass, GPS, duct tape or other items usually associated with a bug out bag. Most of the backpacks are very poor quality with one or more zippers broken. You would be amazed at how they patch, wire and tie backpacks closed when the zippers break.

The water containers you could find at a gas station, anywhere from quart to gallon size. If the aliens do not have a backpack they carry the bottles in their hands. Sometimes they tie two of them together and sling them over their shoulder. Some of the water bottles are painted flat black so they cannot be seen at a distance. If I catch the group far enough north where they have refilled their bottles from tanks or streams the water is very dirty. I don’t think they have the time or perhaps even the knowledge to filter it through a shirt. I have actually seen tadpoles and small water creatures swimming in water bottles of apprehended aliens.

One thing I will never get used to is the smell of twenty people that have traveled a week through the desert without a shower. I have located and apprehended a group at night using only my sense of smell. I am not joking. When we pile them in our transport vans the smell is overwhelming.

Most of them are dehydrated and most have cuts and scratches. By the time we catch them the cuts are infected. I once chased a group through a field of jumping cholla [cactus] at night. When I caught them they were covered in cactus spines. They had no tools to remove the spines so they were using fingers and teeth to try to remove them. Twisted and broken ankles are also common. Many of the women are pregnant. If they can get into the United States to have their children then those kids will be United States citizens.

It is amazing how many husbands leave their wives and children behind when their group gets chased by Border Patrol. The hardest thing to see is finding small children that were left behind. One day we found a six year old boy wandering through the desert because he became separated from his mom the night before. If was cannot find the parents the children are returned to Mexico and will end up in an orphanage. This kind of thing happens almost every day.

Another time we found a guy wandering around and he was almost delirious. He could barley talk and looked dazed. When we finally got him back to our station he did not want to eat or drink. He just sat on a bench and stared at the ground. He later told us that a week earlier he paid a guide to get him and his wife and three year old daughter into the United States. Once he crossed the border the guide hit him on the head and disappeared with his wife and daughter. He had spent the following week wandering around looking for his wife and daughter. I think that under such circumstances I would be a wreck too.

Some of the lessons I have learned from them: You can do much more than you think you can with much less. Using guides in unfamiliar areas is very valuable to avoid detection but don’t trust them. Also carry basic medical supplies and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Finally don’t waste your money and time on useless items. If you have never hiked a trail at night without a flashlight you need to try it. It is amazing how much you can see and hear when hiking at night. Stop frequently and listen for 30 seconds at a time. One night I heard a noise that was over 30 yards away from me. I judged by the amount of noise it was a group of people. I went over to investigate and was surprised to find a slow moving tortoise walking over dry leaves. It is amazing how much sound a person walking makes.

I also have learned by experience that certain pieces of gear are essential for my job. Some of these I would discard if I was traveling cross country in a bug out scenario. I think weight would be the primary factor. When I go out in the field I always wear gloves to avoid scratches and cuts on my hands. I also wear eye protection, even at night. I once saw an alien that had his eye jabbed by a branch at night. It was horrible. I almost always have scratches on my face from walking down trails with thorns and branches coming across the path. I never use a flashlight unless I am tracking, and then it is only briefly. I carry small electrolyte packets with me and plenty of water. I wear long sleeve shirts. I also carry a GPS receiver, electrical tape, pocket knife and plenty of extra ammunition.

Tamara (of the always entertaining View From The Porch blog), linked to this: The Plow, The Surplus, and The Idiot. Don't you know how cruel honey is, people? [Sarcasm Mode On: "Oh, those poor imprisoned bees! And wool? Totally cruel, like, all those poor cuddly sheeps and sheeplings, all senselessly slaughtered just for their wool coats. You know, we should just think of them as taller baby fur seals. The barbarity of wool harvesting must be stopped. The world would be a better place., Oh, and Naugahyde, too. All those little Naugas, butchered for their hides, by greedy, cruel capitalists!" And please don't tell this woman that tofu actually comes from Ostrich eggs, or she'll starve to death. Sarcasm Mode Off.]

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FG sent this: British Special Forces training Libyan troops. (FG's comment on the politicians that orchestrated this travesty: "Galactic Level Stupidity"). JWR's comment: First we hear that the Lockerbie bombing's mastermind was set free from prison and returned to Libya to a hero's welcome. And now this. Clearly, there must have been some backroom deals made with The Coiffured Colonel that have not yet been made public.

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Reader J.K. asks: Can it work here in the US? Home power plants project unveiled in Germany.

"Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival." - W. Edwards Deming

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Most of today's blog content again comes courtesy of Cheryl. Thanks, Cheryl!


Don't miss my note about Michael Yon's blog, down in the Odds 'n Sods section.

Wow! Take a look at the latest market tickers for spot silver and spot gold. We might soon witness some profit-taking that could temporarily drive silver back to the $12 per ounce range. But consider that a buying opportunity. The next leg up will probably be in November, when The Chartist Gnome predicts silver over $18 per ounce and gold over $1,070. For those that already have bought metals: Do not attempt to "time" such a volatile market. Just hang on, and as the Gnome says, "Be ready for a roller coaster."

Items from The Economatrix:

The Ghost Fleet of the Recession (Also suggested by several other SurvivalBlog readers.)

Airline Trade Group Predicts 2009 Loss of $11 Billion

Gold Falls as Speculative Holdings Reach Record, Dollar Climbs

Gold Investors Warned to Liquidate After Buying Frenzy

Moodys: UK Banks to Post $215 Billion in New Losses

Darryl Schoon: Greenback Gases, Gold and the Coming Shift

Marko like this Instructables piece: How to Build Your Own BBQ Barrel. OBTW, all the usual warnings about toxic chemicals and paint apply! It is best to start with a "virgin" barrel.

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Inyokern suggested a 18 minute mini-documentary on solar flares from the Discovery Channel, on Hulu. Attack of the Sun

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Reader FG sent an article from The Guardian for those who might mistakenly consider the bayonet a useless anachronism. (Although a bayonet on an Enfield SA-80 bullpup rifle must be far from ergonomic.) Speaking of the British school of soldiering, FG also sent the link to a long, photo intensive piece by our friend Michael Yon. Take special note of the photo of "Snowy" cleaning his weapon, including each individual rifle cartridge. Since my blog is a bit short today, take a few minutes to read Michael Yon's. Any correspondent that files reports from a two-way rifle range gets high marks, in my book. He also deserves a little clinkage in his tip jar.

“Every disaster response is local. It’s up to us to take care of our people.” - Mike Manning, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Many thanks for your prayers in this difficult time for our family. I'm still in shock and getting my bearings. Special thanks to Cheryl (aka "The Economatrix") who is taking up the slack on most of the editing while our family is mourning the loss of The Memsahib.

Monty recommended this piece over at Seeking Alpha by J.S. Kim: The Coming Consequences of Banking Fraud

More about insider selling, courtesy of Pete S.: Insiders sell like there's no tomorrow; Corporate officers and directors were buying stock when the market hit bottom. What does it say that they're selling now?

GG sent this: U.S. Foreclosure Filings Top 300,000 for Sixth Straight Month

Items from The Economatrix:

Analyst: It's Too Late to Save Sears

The Ripple Effect: What One Layoff Means for a Whole Town

Wholesale Inventories Drop in July; Sales Grow

UK: Higher Oil Prices Feed Inflation Fear

Cash Down the Drain (The Mogambo Guru)

The 800,000 Pound Deflationary Gorilla

Chapman: Derivatives Collapse and the New China Gold and Silver Markets

Courtesy of reader Trent H. comes the link to this Draft Horse Journal article: A Horse-Powered Produce Farm

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Sean M. suggested a PDF on small hydroelectric plants.

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Will M. flagged this piece by Grandpappy: Five Different Shelf Life Studies: Two on Canned Food and Three on Dry Food

"Why did she have to go
So young I just don't know why
Things happen half the time
Without reason without rhyme

Lovely, sweet young woman
Daughter, wife and mother
Makes no sense to me
I just have to believe

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me." - Alan Jackson, from Sissy's Song

Monday, September 14, 2009

My apologies if my blog postings the next few weeks are irregular and not up to snuff during our time of grief. It will be some time before my life, and the lives of my children get back to some semblance of normalcy. During this lull, I encourage you to delve into the nearly 7,500 searchable archived SurvivalBlog posts. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

After more than a year of struggle, my wife Linda (aka The Memsahib) has passed away.

My heart is utterly broken, but I take solace knowing that she had a firm and saving faith in God, through his Grace to His Elect, and by the merit of Christ's shed blood. We'll meet again, in heaven.

And Can it Be that I Should Gain?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’ Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’ Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’ Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’ Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’ Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Words by Charles Wesley, 1738. Music by Thomas Campbell, 1825.


We are not planning a public memorial service. Please do not send cards or e-mails of condolence. Linda told me that she would much prefer that that you spend that time and effort in sharing the Gospel of Christ with those that are unsaved.

If you feel convicted to do anything in memory of Linda, then please support our favorite charity, the Anchor orphanage and school in Zambia. They are setting up a Linda Rawles Memorial Fund. I will post details on donations, in the next few days. Thanks for your prayers.

With sincerity, - James Wesley, Rawles

The posts below the following divider were posted before Linda's death.

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

Throughout the history of warfare there has always been an elite class of warriors that had superior skills, tactics, and mindset. Today is no different with each branch of our military having its own elite class of warriors.
When you think of a Navy SEAL, Delta, Pararescue, Green Beret (Special Forces or "SF") , or Force Recon, what phrases run through your head? “Intense”, “Highly disciplined”, “Extremely fit”, “Tough”, “Well rounded”, “Deadly”. These are well-deserved phrases that can be applied to any of the special forces operators and the foundation that built these men is their mindset and training.
I think all of us would love to have a team of loyal operators when the SHTF , but unless you are lucky enough to have them in your group, you’ll have to settle for the next best thing… Yourself.
“Imitation is the highest form of flattery”
If we are preparing ourselves for some level of combat, whether it is in defense of our family, our community, our freedom, or ourselves why not follow the path of the elite? If your training takes you to the highest levels, then you’ll be ready for the high demand events, and have the ability to breeze through less demanding situations. However, with so many other preparations and demands on life, your training schedule needs to be able to fit your lifestyle. Like most of you, I work 40+ hours a week, have a family, and we are trying to prepare our own five-acre homestead. What follows is my training regimen that takes into account limited training time, resources, and funds.
Step 1: Think like a Ranger
Tenacity is like a muscle, with exercise it can be built, but it will take desire and hard work. Every day you are faced with decisions and situations where you can take the easy path or “tough it out”, choose the latter. Discipline can conquer laziness, so set attainable goals, stay focused, and take it one step at a time when it gets tough. Steps 2 & 3 will really help you forge this trait.
Time: 0    
Cost: Some discomfort
Step 2: Work out like a Navy SEAL
Like the spec ops community, pursuit of fitness should be at the top of your training priorities. It takes hard work to get in shape and little time to lose the gains, so a majority of your training time should be allotted to this category. There is an efficient, high yield program being used by the spec ops community and fortunately it is available to everyone. The name is CrossFit.
CrossFit is an online fitness community where a different workout is posted on the web site on a daily basis. In their own words:

“CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.”

Focusing on functional fitness, CrossFit will develop the ten general physical skills of cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. By the nature of the varying workouts, you will be forced to work on your
To say that CrossFit workouts are challenging, would be an understatement. I have seen the WODs (Workout Of the Day) punish military, police, and college athletes alike, so start out slow and build consistency before intensity. The mental and physical demands of the workouts will also put you on the fast track to developing a tenacious mindset.
Other side benefits of superior fitness include the ability to handle stress better, resistance to disease, and increased work capacity, all will be needed during TEOTWAWKI along with the ability to sprint, lift heavy objects, and scale obstacles.
CrossFit’s web site is very user friendly, has a FAQ section, free journal articles, and exercise demo videos. For friendly support or competition, you can post your WOD results in the “comments” section and compare them to CrossFitters around the world.
If you are not ready for the Main Page WODs, there are modified (scaled) workouts for different fitness levels. This has allowed my 65-year-old mother and 11-year-old niece to complete the same workout as me, albeit on a different level with exercise substitutions, less weight, and/or shorter duration. Follow the “Start here” links on the Main Page.
Time: 3 hours per week (6 days / 30 min. workout) Although some WODs can be done in less than 5 minutes, take the extra time to work on your Olympic lifts, flexibility, or the gymnastic moves.
Cost: $0 (other than weights). The WODs are posted on the CrossFit site for free. Subscription to the online journal will cost you $25 per year and is well worth it. If you don’t have pull-up/dip bar or a weight set, you’ll need to buy them. Check Craigslist for good deals on used equipment. If you are unable to acquire weights, bodyweight only WOD’s can be found in this PDF: CrossFit Bodyweight Workouts.

Step 3: Fight like Recon
Find a good MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) gym and train at least twice a week. MMA gives you the most “bang for your buck”, making you competent in the areas of standup, clinch, and ground fighting. While traditional martial arts have benefits of fitness, flexibility, and discipline, I have seen the practitioners get taken apart in the gym, in bars while working as a bouncer, and in the field of law enforcement. When it comes to fighting, MMA should be your foundation. Not every altercation will require the use of deadly force and most criminals might use a ruse or ambush to get close enough to negate your weapons. MMA will give you the variability to handle the lesser event or the fighting platform to allow you to bridge to weapons for lethal force situations.
The current trend is Marines training MCMAP, Rangers training with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), and SF units training with a South African MMA coach.The reason that military combatives are shifting toward MMA as their base is because it works!
Once you find a good school and learn the basics, focus on developing a “Sprawl and Brawl” game, instead of a “Ground and Pound” or “Submission’ game. This will keep you on your feet and help you deal with multiple opponents, defend against weapons, or access your own weapons in a much better capacity. Even if you get caught on the ground, you’ll be comfortable there and have the skills to prevail.
If you are unable to find a MMA gym in your area, look for a good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Judo school, a boxing/kickboxing gym, or a wrestling club. All these styles are components of MMA and will pit you against a fully resisting opponent, which is the key to development and success.
While there is no substitute for a good gym, if your retreat is really isolated and there is no training available, then find a training partner, order some videos/books, and/or attend some seminars. I have hundreds of training DVDs and my top picks for home MMA study are:
StandupCrazy Monkey (CM) series

ClinchCouture’s series

Ground - Matt Thornton's Functional JKD Series Two – Discs 1, 2, & 3
Bas Rutten’s MMA workout is also a great option for solo home workouts and only requires a CD player and a heavy bag. It is currently being used at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Facility for their officers in training. I use it on the heavy bag for my warm-ups and days when I can’t make it to the gym. The set consists of an instructional DVD and four workout CD’s, boxing, kickboxing, MMA, and an all around workout.

As side benefits, you’ll also be working on Steps 1 and 2 during your MMA training. Fighting and getting punched in the face on a weekly basis is a great character builder and the cardio demands of fighting are some of the highest.
Time: 3 hours per week. MMA has a steep learning curve, so you’ll want to train at least twice a week. Classes usually run about 1-½ hours.
Cost: From gym to gym the price will vary. Gyms with competitive teams can cost over $100 per month, but good “hobby” gyms can be found for $50 per month. I have even trained at a local church that had great training and tough opponents for no charge.
Step 4: Shoot like Delta
Superior weapons proficiency and handling ability is another trait of highly skilled operators, and while we’ll never have a multi-million dollar ammo budget and 8 hour range days, there are alternatives for us.
First and foremost, seek out a good school and take tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun classes. Look for classes that are designed to help you win a gunfight. Once you take the classes, then you will have the skill set that you can take home to practice. Tactical Response offers great classes in all the disciplines. While it is no substitute for professional instruction, if you cannot afford classes, here my top picks for DVD instructional videos:
Handgun: Jim Grover’s Defensive Shooting Series

Carbine: The Art of the Tactical Carbine  

Shotgun: Tom Givens Defensive Shotgun

Second, develop a dry fire routine based upon the core skills you learned from your class or DVDs. Focus on key skills like drawing from concealment, weapon transitions, malfunction clearing, magazine changes, and positional shooting. If you can afford it, buy Airsoft replicas of your guns so you can work on shooting and moving, multiple targets, and force-on-force drills.
The final, most important step is to shoot competitively. Monthly competitions will build your gun handling skills and accuracy under the stress of time and the competitive nature of the event. Tactical pistol matches are a good start, but I prefer Three-gun matches where you get to shoot rifle, pistol, and/or shotgun in the same stage. This way I get to do live fire once a month with all three guns in stages and scenarios that someone else creates. Shooting and moving, weapon transitions, shooting from cover, shooting in and around vehicles are some of the benefits along with mastering the basic core skills. Don’t get caught up in “gaming” the match, instead focus on using the tactics you learned in your gun fighting courses. Use cover, draw from concealment, and throw some dummy rounds in some mags. It will slow your times down, but will pay off by ingraining good habits.
During and after the match, identify weak skills to work on during the daily dry fire sessions until the next match. If you don’t have local matches, you can usually find the stages online, and set up your own match on your farm/range or even in your backyard for an Airsoft match.
Time: 1 hour per week (10 min. per day of dry fire/Airsoft) Our local three gun match usually last about 3 hours, but since it is on a monthly basis and is so much fun, I don’t factor that as training time.
Cost: $0 for dry fire. $15 dollar entry fee for our three gun match,  plus your ammo costs. Our local matches usually require less than 50 rounds of pistol and rifle, and less than 25 of shotgun (birdshot). We also have a .22 division where cheapskates, like myself, shoot conversion kits to save on ammo costs.
Step 5: Cross-train like a Green Beret
Aim to make yourself as well rounded as possible. Maybe you are in great shape, are a good fighter, and shoot in the top ten at your matches. Excellent! Keep working those foundational skills because they require the most time investment due to a steeper learning curve or degradation over time, but now is the time to look outside your Spartan routine for weak links in your overall skill set.
Sit down and make a list of skills you want or might need in the uncertain future and rank yourself on your competency. Focus training on the categories with the lowest rating. Training can be accomplished through research, classes, or knowledgeable friends.
Emergency medical skills, wilderness survival, hunting/trapping, mantracking, mechanical repair, patrolling, tactics, edged weapons, orienteering, home security, high performance driving, gardening, beekeeping, homesteading, sniping, escape and evasion…. If you are like me, you’ll have a four page list in no time.
Time: 1 hour per week. Try to spend an hour a week working on your weakest skill. Once your weaknesses catch up, only then should you focus on training that you are naturally drawn towards and enjoy more.
Cost: You can spend as much or as little as you like. Your training priorities and interests will guide you. I work on trucks at my friend’s garage, I order gardening books, my beekeepers meetings are $20 per year, and my next tracking class is $385. The goal here is to learn and develop new practical skills.
Step 6: Evaluate yourself
Be honest and routinely critique your progress. What are your strengths, weaknesses, and how can you work on them? Ask yourself if you could out fight, out shoot, or out run/lift the “old you” from three months ago? Also seek out standards of fitness and shooting, available on the web, to see how you compare. Keep a training log so you can watch your progress.
Example for today 9/9/09:
Mental: Only 5 hours of sleep last night. Still sore from the last cycle. Hate lunges and box jumps. Have lots to do before work. Suck it up and get it done.
Three rounds on heavy bag of Bas Rutten’s MMA workout (boxing CD) – 10 minutes
CrosFit WOD:
Four rounds for time of:
100 ft Walking lunge, carrying 30 pound dumbbells (no 30’s so subbed 25 pounders.)
24 inch Box Jump, 30 reps
30 pound Weighted pull-ups, 20 reps
Time: 19:44 (M/33/6’1”/205)
Dry fire:
10 minutes of tactical reloads with M4
Total time: 40 minutes. Hit all three primary areas. Will stretch for 10 minutes tonight and read a chapter of the dentistry manual I am reading.
There may be some people that are reading this that cannot do a pull-up, let alone weighted ones. That is okay, just start out on the scaled version and you’ll be cranking them out soon enough. Example of the lowest scaling of today’s WOD from BrandX:

3 rounds
100 ft Walking lunge
12-15 inch Box Jump, 20 reps
20 Beginner or Assisted pull-ups
In reality, some of us may have had years of bad habits, health, injuries, etc. that may prevent us from reaching the levels I have outlined, but any gain is still a gain. Because of the variety of functional movements, CrossFit at half intensity is still better than more traditional programs. Really light MMA sparring and rolling is still better than the [no contact/tap contact] McDojo stuff taught at the strip malls. I have seen a 50-year-old man at our gym getting thrashed by the more experienced, younger players, only to school a 20-year old “newbie” a month later.
You may never make it into the top ten of the three gun match or be posting record times on CrossFit’s board, but you are also unlikely to be facing a superior opponent in the real world if you work hard, as the majority of the population is in poor shape, cannot fight or shoot very well, nor will they be training as hard as you.
While I have been fortunate enough to workout with, fight with, and shoot with top level civilians that could out-compete the average Spec Ops member in their chosen sport or field, none of them could approach the overall well-roundedness of our country’s finest that I have known. Emulating these fine warriors within our group or family is a critical preparation step for TEOTWAWKI.
You may have years of stored food, a self-sufficient homestead, and an impressive battery, but liabilities in fitness, fighting, and shooting skills may negate your hard work and preparations. I look at training like saving for retirement, start early, save every day, and the benefits will add up.
So set aside eight hours this week and follow the training outline, this small investment of hard work and training might save your life, your family’s, your community, or your freedom.

JWR Adds: Unless you are already in a regular workout program, I recommend that you start any new program immediately after you've had a physical checkup. Don't totally exhaust yourself the first day. Work up your distances, weight and repetitions gradually!

Dear Mr. Rawles
I read with interest the letter you posted this morning (September 10, 2009) from Bear in California with regard to the skills and services that will probably be required in a post-SHTF scenario. It was all good stuff, and it caused my eyes to drift towards a set of books that have been on my bookshelf for over 30 years. Although, somewhat dog-eared since they only came out in soft cover, they are still highly valuable to me. I am referring, of course, to the Foxfire series that came out in 1969.

While you are probably aware of this series, many of your blog readers may not be. The Foxfire Book series ([edited] by Brooks Eliot Wiggenton, 1969, Southern Highlands Literary Fund, Inc.) represents, in essence, "the body of knowledge" of the "people of the mountains". (Specifically, The Appalachians). They are the result of a student project at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia to capture and publish the "almost tribal" knowledge held by the "people of the mountains". There are several volumes to the series (I have five, but there may be more), and a small sampling of the topics covered include:

hog dressing
log cabin building
mountain crafts and foods
planting by the signs
snake lore
hunting tales
faith healing
home remedies
moonshining and still making
making a foot powered lathe
bee keeping
building a lumber kiln
water systems
building a smokehouse
spring wild plant foods
preserving fruits and vegetables
soap making
weather reading
cheese making
spinning and weaving
burial customs
making tar
corn shuckin's
wagon making
bird traps, deadfalls, and rabbitboxes
animal care
banjos and dulcimers
hide tanning
summer and fall wild plant foods
butter churns
fiddle making
horse trading
sassafras tea
berry buckets
iron making
gun making (flintlock rifles and much more)
bear hunting
....."other affairs of plain living".

Many topics are covered in quite a bit of detail with instructions and drawings/schematics included. It is clear to me that these people have forgotten more than we city folks ever knew about living off of (and, to some extent, in harmony with the land). These books are very much a part of my family's survival kit. I hope that this information is useful to your other readers. Thanks! - Surefooted in Colorado

This is not overtly related to survival and preparedness, but I found a page of photos linked over at Tamara's blog simply fascinating: Abandoned Soviet Fortifications and Cities of the Kola Peninsula.

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Heather H. liked this piece: Quick Preserves an Alternative to Canning

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Cheryl flagged this: CSIS Report: US Preparing for North Korea Collapse Scenario. (Thankfully, the Dear Leader has decreed that a societal collapse will not be tolerated.)

"Never forget, even for an instant, that the one and only reason anybody has for taking your gun away is to make you weaker than he is, so he can do something to you that you wouldn't let him do if you were equipped to prevent it. This goes for burglars, muggers, and rapists, and even more so for policemen, bureaucrats, and politicians." - from the novel Hope by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Your prayers for The Memsahib would be greatly appreciated. Her remaining life in this mortal world will probably be just a few days. She is secure in her faith in Christ Jesus. I pray that you share our steadfast faith.


I heard that our friend Jeff created a real tempest in a teapot, with his edits to the Wikipedia page on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition. Be sure to copy and paste it before the Politically Correct crowd eviscerates it.


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

“I’m going to garden if the Spinach hits the Fan…I’ve got my seeds in long term storage,” my prepper friend sighed with an attitude of  that’s taken care of now, thank goodness!  I asked if he had a garden.  “No, but I’m ready to start one if I have to.” As a homestead gardener of over 30 years from a long line of homestead gardeners, here is some practical advice culled from my years of experience growing food. 

There is no instant garden by digging up the back yard.  I wish it were so!  Lawn grass is one of the most time-consuming weeds you’ll ever meet, and you’ll have to eradicate it if you plan to plant. 

Now, what’s under that grass?  Most of us have heard of ‘crop rotation’, where the same plants are not grown in the same place every year because they strip the soil of certain nutrients and encourage insects and diseases specific to those plants.  Think of grass as a crop that hasn’t been rotated for…how long?  The soil’s pretty depleted.  Although you’ve maybe been fertilizing it, you have a root mat that encouraged just top growth because lawn fertilizers are high nitrogen for fast greening.  Hopefully you’ve not been putting on serious pesticides in order to have the perfect lawn – or the previous owner didn’t!

If you have a season to spare, put a big sheet of black plastic well weighted down over the future garden, effectively cooking the grass.  You may have to hire a commercial tilling outfit to do the first run through, or plan to spend lots of time with the shovel developing those arms and shoulders.  The reason?  Rocks.  They get stuck in tiller tines or break the shear-pin, over and over (have extras) unless you live in a location (like Dallas) where they actually truck in rocks for lawn ornaments (then you’ll be amending the heavy, clay soil to make it lighter).  Grass should be raked out.  ‘Dead grass’ is an oxymoron – I’ve never seen such a persistent plant.  It grows under the snow and will come back from the root with a little water, even lying, dried, on top of Agri plastic. 

Let’s say my prepper friend goes as far as to ‘cook’ his grass and get the spot tilled and raked.  The ‘old farmer’ (me) strolls up and takes a handful of soil.  Unless his yard was a very fruitful garden not very long ago, the soil will dry quickly and when I squeeze it, the ball will fall into dust.  There isn’t a worm in sight.  I prescribe compost – mountains of it. 

At this point most people think:  Compose pile!  But you have to have one, more than a little spot where you put the coffee grounds, potato peels and old bananas and let the critters dig through it.  The best compost is from animal manure and it takes time to be useable in the garden.  Only rabbit manure can be put directly into the soil by the plants (called ‘side dressing’).  In the short term, you should have a bag of 10-10-10 and one of  5-10-5, the first for foliage crops and the second for root crops while you work in every scrap of leaves on your land (chopped by the mower while you have one and the gas to run it) and grass clippings that do not have seed heads in them.  (By ‘work in’ I mean till or dig in a thin layer of these things.  A thick layer of leaves laid down in the Fall will still be a thick, soggy layer in the spring.) 

In the long term, start a pile and plan to manage it.  Although compost rots quietly on its own, it has certain requirements, like the amount of ‘greens’ and ‘dry’s, and it has to be turned.  If you continually add new items, especially thick stalks, etc., you’ll never get finished compost, so that means one pile at a time or several working piles. 

You may think of getting some compost brought in, so you should know that not all compost is equal.  The guy with horses who is just looking for a way to get rid of the poop has compost of a very different nutritive value than the compost I get from a local homestead when mine runs out, made properly from animal and dry ingredients and covered when there’s too much rain.  His compost may have a lot of hayseeds in it, too, which means weeds to you.  Heed this warning!  Find out if he’s using hay or straw for bedding.  However, before you get out the truck, stroll your own property.  Neglected piles of leaves (rotting down in the same place for 5 plus years) can yield some real gold if you are knowledgeable about fixing the Ph deficiencies.    Years ago we bought a home with a sloping backyard where the previous owners had raked the leaves downhill for who knows how long and the result was incredible soil under the trees, several inches deep.  I moved it into the garden, of course, gloating over every chocolaty shovel full!  

Some people think having topsoil trucked in will do the trick.  It may be decent soil, but it will not have the amount of organic matter incorporated that helps to hold water and provide nutrients plants will access over time.  Topsoil here in the Northeast comes from building sites where they scraped off the top few inches on a potential building lot; in other words, just what you already have at this point and must amend, so I’m hoping this writing will keep you from making that mistake.  My formula is half a barrow of soil and half of compost, with lime or whatever other minerals you might need sprinkled on top, then mixed in the barrow and dumped in where you plant to plant.  You don’t need to amend every inch of the fledgling garden – concentrate on the places you’re going to plant and mark them, so you’ll know where you put them. 

Good plants cannot grow without a full day of sun.  A future garden may mean you’ll have to take down trees.  It would be better to do this before you need your garden (and definitely before you put up a fence!).  Trees may also have long roots that forage in the areas you plan to grow in.  I don’t know the exact number of feet from the trunk, but I’d say 20 to 30 feet from the drip line would be safe.  In dry years trees will suck up all the water and nutrition you put on your plants if they’re too close.  .

Timing for planting is critical.  A good gardening guide will tell when the best window of opportunity is for planting each variety in your area.  If you plant too soon the seeds may rot and you’ll use up more than you expected.   The length of your growing season matters:  you may be able to get successive sowings, or you may have to plant special short season varieties.  I laugh when I hear the ad that claims you can grow 5 acres of ‘emergency garden’ with their seeds.  Do they allow for washouts, mistakes, unexpected cold snaps, thinning, losses to late frost, damp-off in the flats?  Never plant all your seeds at one time! 

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and some other long-season plants must be started indoors in most places.   You need to be prepared with the proper, sterile starting mix, correct light and temps.  Now is the time to make the mistakes, lose a whole batch to damp off as I’ve done and be able to get more at Wal-Mart.  Plants also have to be prepared for the new environment by ‘hardening off’.  Good gardening books will tell you how and most I’d recommend are already listed on this site.

Peering into the can I see there’s no fences in there.  Too many nice gardens wind up being forage for the deer or other animals.  A fence of the proper type will keep out rabbits and small animals that don’t dig well – (nothing keeps out groundhogs, so I hope you also have a .22 varmint gun).  Milorganite, a fertilizer from the sewers of Milwaukee, repels deer, but don’t use it on the garden.  Instead make bags from old nylon stockings, pouring in about ¼ Cup of the Milorganite then knotting them off into bags – you’ll get about three from a single knee high – and tie or wire them at 4 – 5’ intervals on your fence and on fruit trees at about nose height, or on stakes near plants you want to protect.  This works.  You’ll have to renew the bags each year. 

Why not have a ‘fence that keeps the deer out’?  Deer consider a fence under 8 feet a suggestion, and I’ve heard of taller fences not doing the job.  Fencing is sold by the foot and gets pricey over 5’.  So make your Milorganite bags.  Save the scraps you don’t use from the nylons to tie up plants – they stretch as the plant grows and decompose in the compost pile eventually, too.  Human hair and other ‘deterrents’ don’t work as well as this does, and a bag of Milorganite keeps forever and goes a long way, since you’re not using it for anything but deterrent.

Fencing is an investment.  Garden wire (with ‘varmint netting’ at bottom) is the cheapest and might last you 4 or 5 years, going up to chain link as the sturdiest and longest lived.  For years I ‘made do’ with scrounged fencing and metal stakes, a Rube Goldberg construct that needed constant vigilance.  As soon as I could I paid a fence guy to put in something reliable and solid.  If you’re looking for an investment in your property, a well-built garden fence will pay you many times over.  Don’t forget gates at both sides or you’ll do a lot of extra walking even though they cost extra.  And the fence can provide places for some vining plants to grow.  In the event you have garden thieves as the economy worsens, a strong fence can have barbed wire added in tiers and can be locked.

You may also need netting and mirror strings to discourage birds, and traps for small rodents, like chipmunks, that can devastate a berry patch .  A mirror string is two small mirrors (get from craft shops or online) sandwiched with epoxy every  4“ or so on center on a piece of heavy fishing line.  A loop at each end allows the string to drape between branches or stakes.  The mirrors create a flash of light when half hidden in the foliage of raspberries, tomatoes, etc., and look like predator eyes.  This works on most birds and is easy to do – ahead of time.  Forget the fake owls and high tech deterrents.  If you have to trap critters, do it under the net or put the trap, baited with a ripe strawberry or whatever they’re going for, in a can or barrel half buried.  I’ll never forget the only bird I caught in a rat trap set for voles – watched it light and couldn’t get there fast enough.  Speaking of birds – a wren house will pay back your effort in building it tenfold.  They are voracious bug eaters as well as vivacious songsters and often return year after year.

Pests – if you can’t identify them and don’t know what to do when they arrive, you’ll lose valuable food.  Rodale puts out an excellent pictorial guide, and I’m sure there are others.  It makes great winter bathroom reading!  By spring you’ll be an expert.  Don’t neglect the small bugs, like aphids, lurking under the leaves.  Turn leaves over and you’ll find your enemies, a mosaic of aphids sucking the life out of your plants and spreading disease, or squash bug eggs laid out like a Chinese checkerboard.  If you can’t stand bugs, use gloves.  After a year of you-eat-or-I eat, you’ll hate them enough to use your bare hands.

Weeds:  You wouldn’t think you’d need to know your weeds. But some are a real menace and must be eradicated by destroying the whole plant.  Some can’t be hoed because the pieces will make new weeds.  Mulching is your best weed control, and it’s cheap if you don’t mind hard work:  The simplest type I know is newspapers covered with mulch, grass clippings or leaves, and it rots down…to Agri plastic held down with rocks or bricks that you can take up year after year and store is nice to have.  If you decide to get Agri plastic, invest in the thicker mils.  The stuff that’s like black plastic bags is a joke, and the other ‘weed barrier’ that looks like fabric only works if it is mulched on top.  Plants need light to grow and weeds won’t get it if you smother them and their seeds.  

Gardening doesn’t require many tools, but you’ll need a hoe (I have two, one with a small head for working near plants and a larger, heavier one for bigger weeds), a shovel, an iron rake, a trowel and some hand cultivators.  These tools should be sharpened, so you’ll need a file.  Buy the best tools you can afford.  I also invested in a ‘wheel hoe’ last year and I’d do it again.  For scalping off weeds before planting, weeding between the rows or laying good furrows for planting, it’s a time saver.  Mine’s Amish made and has several attachments.  Hoes, shovels and hand cultivators should be sharpened like any other tool, so you’ll need a file.

There will be hand weeding in the rows. though  – sorry.  Don’t invest in a toy tiller that claims it will make your garden weedless – besides the rocks I mentioned before, which may make it completely useless where you live, if you till too close to the plants you’ll cut their roots.  Tomato plants put out roots for a couple of feet.  Weeds grow faster than food plants, have vast root systems for their size, and suck up nutrients.  If allowed to go to seed (or if you foolishly till weeds with seed heads in or blow grass into the garden with a mower) they’ll be back for a second crop very soon.  Pull them out and pile them in a separate place away from the garden. 

Water:  Peering into the can, I don’t see a water source, but you can’t have a garden without it.  I have a 250 gallon oil tank that was properly cleaned out and sits under the downspout from the roof, and another that fills from the curtain drain.  An adapter made it possible for me to retrofit the spigot at the bottom for a garden hose – go to the local plumbing supply in the off hours and explain your dilemma to get the parts.  Plan your garden downhill from water sources if you possibly can:  siphoning is a wonderful thing and works with only a small height difference between the water source and the garden, although the more height difference, the better flow you will have.  If you have a stream you might be able to take advantage of a ram pump (see Lehman’s catalogue for details).  A lot of people have never heard of these, but if you meet the requirements, they’re great. 

Absent the big tank, 55 gal plastic drums or even heavy duty trash cans may be arranged so that when one is full the run-off goes into a second, and third container.  Siphon off from the top, or if you have ones that open, you can install a spigot at the bottom with a hose adapter.  Use that wonderful thing, Plumber’s Goop, to ensure a watertight seal.  Take precautions to keep mosquitoes out and you’ll even have a bit of water pressure when the barrels are full, depending on how far uphill you are. 

We’ve had good luck with soaker hoses attached to the siphon system – they don’t need high pressure and it saves an enormous amount of time watering.  Don’t forget to drain everything before the first freeze and stuff as much as you can in storage:  hoses, tomato trees, Agri plastic, etc.  Nets and plastic can overwinter in trash cans.  They will last a lot longer than if you leave them out in the weather . 

Crop failures:  Expect some.  It’s my experience over the years that if you plant a lot of different things some will do well no matter what the conditions, and that’s what you’ll be eating.  The weather is in God’s hands, but He mercifully made plants that do well in all kinds.  While I don’t recommend planting things your family doesn’t like, if all they like is tomatoes and you have a bad year…you get the idea.  Also, some things preserve well (tomatoes) and some don’t (squash, Brussels sprouts), some varieties will root cellar well (butternut squash) and some don’t (acorn squash). 

Varieties to grow:  a lot has been written about this and you should take it seriously.  The current debate is about ‘heirloom’ or open-pollinated varieties vs. hybrids that don’t breed true in the second generation.   While having plants you can save seeds from is good, some vegetables may have no variety that is sufficiently disease resistant in your area for the plant to get to the seed-making stage of life.  These you should stockpile from seed companies.  Obviously the plants that live to harvest are the ones you want, the biggest and the best, and save the biggest and best seeds.  Not all hybrid seeds will fully revert, and some heirlooms will gradually change into your own special variety as you plant them year after year – that’s where these things came from in the first place.  Years ago my mother and a few other gardeners planted a tomato that was a local version of the old oxheart tomato.  Over the years it picked up some disease resistance, but not enough for me to stop planting Park’s Whopper and other reliable varieties.  Remember, also, that some plants, like carrots, cabbages, parsley and Brussels sprouts, are biennials and will not bloom until the follow year, so they have to be over-wintered for you to get a crop of seed.  Again, never plant all of your seeds.

Frost and extending the season:  Beware of the first still, cold evening in the Fall when the sky is clear, especially if there has been rain but now there is a pale, apple-green tinge in the West at sunset where the sky is clearing at the front line.  This is nature’s Frost Warning!  I could go on a long time about knowing the weather, but this is sheer experience.  Nothing will survive a hard freeze, and some crops (like basil) won’t even take a light frost, but many crops, if covered with old sheets, etc., will live for several more weeks before the final freeze.  There are lots of ways to extend the season – the only one I’ve used is a cold frame.  Like everything else, these take care and maintenance.  You’ll have to lift the glass daily on the warmer spring days as the sun gets hotter or you’ll cook your plants.  Research, build and use it now if you have a mind to.  

I strongly recommend linking up to someone who already gardens.  Some folks who have large gardens will trade knowledge for work.  Over the years I’ve had an amazing array of helpers and all of them had to be trained, even the Vo-Ag student.  The only thing that builds practical knowledge is doing

When times get tough people will be less likely to let you on their land, so identify and start getting to know someone who has the knowledge you need ASAP.  Look for gray hair, stained fingers and the tell-tale ‘gardener’s tan’ that stops at the short sleeved T-shirt.  If you’re invited into the garden, do not arrive in shorts and sandals!  Wear long pants tucked into your socks and sturdy shoes or boots, close all gates behind you, watch where you put your feet, stuff a small notepad and stub of pencil into your pocket, and at the first opportunity, offer to tail on to a hoe or shovel.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t mention that you hope to get your next garden out of a can!

I’m looking at various load bearing equipment (LBE), spurred by today’s writing contest entry and several pro-gun friends who have been harping on my lack of LBE. They make the same point as you do – if you can’t carry it, why have it?

I see a lot of very nice, military or military-looking LBE equipment. Like a tactical vest with magazine pouches and hydration bladders and so forth. And I can get nice military or military-looking clothes (in [digital camouflage] ACU [pattern], for example). I drool over the cool looking gear.

However, other than the magazine pouches, most of the same equipment (hydration, backpack, medical kit, et cetera) can be bought from outdoor equipment stores. In non-military-looking forms. Think REI vs. ACU. [JWR Adds: For our foreign readers: REI is a major chain of outdoor gear stores that caters to the Sierra Club backpacking crowd, that sells lots of backpacks and parkas in colors like red and royal blue.]

So here’s my question: In a TEOTWAWKI situation, where you are moving to a safe(er) place because you had to leave your refuge or you are out gathering supplies/trading/patrolling, do you really want to look like a well-put together military man in matching ACU clothes and gear? All nicely kitted out in black, olive drab, or ACU ninja wear™… Or do you want to look like somebody in a civilian outdoor camping/survival clothes that just happen to conceal a LBE with mags etc.? Same even goes for your rifle – the all black ninja AR-15 is a nice useful gun (I love mine!), but can you dress one up to look more like a bolt-action hunting rifle?

It just struck me that perhaps being all Rambo looking has its downsides. Upside is you might scare bad guys off, downside is if I was observing from concealment, nervously, Commando-man vs. REI-man I might just rather shoot Commando man in the head from as far away as I can and I might just want to observe/talk to REI man first, all other things being equal. Not 100% rational, but certainly real… Less extreme, looking more ad-hoc put together in your equipment and dress certainly helps not imply you have plenty of food, ammunition, and other supplies hidden away somewhere. (That is, you look like less of a target…)

Doubly so if it’s not all the way to post-apocalypse TEOTWAWKI and I’m a law enforcement officer. - Hugh

JWR Replies: When buying CamelBaks, rucksacks and various pouches, flat earth-tone colors are almost as effective as a printed camouflage pattern. I agree these solid color items are less likely to attract attention when walking down the street in "normal " times. If need be, you could always spray paint a few blotches and streaks of contrasting color, after the balloon goes up. OBTW, I avoid buying black nylon gear just as much as a I do red or blue, since solid black is not a color that is often found in nature. Remember to stock up on some cans of truly flat (no gloss) brown and green spray paint!

Earlier this year, SurvivalBlog reader David Wendell launched a video blog on bushcraft skills call Bushcraft On Fire. He has already posted more than 80 practical "how-to" video segments, and has gathered more than 1,100 subscribers. I recommend subscribing. Good stuff!

   o o o

Reader Jeremy N. mentioned that there are some great storm surge survival tips in Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog: Tropical Storm Fred is born; storm surge survival misconceptions

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Sept. 11th Coast Guard Training Exercises Spark Confusion in D.C.

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Thanks to Craig W, for this PDF: M4/M4A1 Carbine Reliability Issues: Why They Occur, and Why They’re Our Fault!

"But what do you mean by the American Revolution?
Do we mean the American war?
The revolution was effected before the war commenced.
The revolution was in the minds and heart of the people." - John Adams

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is the day we remember the 2,975 Americans that died as a result of the September 11, 2001 Islamist terrorist attacks (2,751 of them at the World Trade Center). We must remain vigilant and well-prepared, both individually, and as a nation. If you don't yet have your logistics together, and haven't yet got the requisite training, then you're way behind he power curve.


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

I wanted to write something for the contest for other ladies with children were in the same situation with wanting to be more prepared but not having the means to do so like the books recommend. I've had my frustrations but I've learned and bought gradually and wanted to share. :) It always upsets me when I hear in the media or from people their point of view that people are helpless due to their income level. This is what I've learned so far, how to cook with wheat, stockpiling shampoo for very little and ways to acquire some supplies for a 72-hour-kit inexpensively.

1. Educate yourself! I was able to get every preparedness book I requested from inter-library loan. Now I have high speed Internet and there are so many videos on YouTube. I was interested in learning how to use wheat so this is my experience. :) There are so many other preparedness topics and skills on youtube and in books.

Long Term Preparedness - Using Whole Grains

2. Learn about whole grains and different ways they are processed. Learn about red wheat, white wheat, oat groats, buckwheat groats, rye, and barely. Learn about the benefits of milling flour at home. There are so many different types of beans to learn about too!

3. Find where you can make a small purchase of whole grains. You can buy a #10 (large) can of whole wheat and cracked wheat from online retailers. If you use an EBT (Food Stamp) card, try a health food store's bulk section. The point here is not to use a lot of money until this is an item you and your kids consume. You can learn with a small amount. :)

Try to eventually purchase wheat in different forms like whole wheat berries, cracked wheat , bulgar, whole wheat flour, and whole wheat pastry flour. Purchase items found at regular the grocery store too like oats, beans and rice.

4. Learn how to use your grains. Cooking with whole grains is a skill but it's not complicated. A simple crock-pot makes it easy to cook wheat and other grains. One of the best cookbooks that helped me a lot is "Cookin With Wheat" by Pam Crockett. You can use wheat in other ways besides it's flour form and baking bread. She has a lot of recipes that use wheat cooked in the crockpot in there. As far as using whole wheat flour, I found baking bread to be very time consuming but I always put whole wheat flour into prepackaged mixes like brownies and muffins. Make oatmeal cookies! Serve oatmeal for breakfast and try it with different fruits and nuts. Learn how to cook and season beans. Something simple like a ham bone gives them a lot of flavor. I use for new ideas. I like that site because I can convert recipes for two people.

5. Once you are using whole grains, consider purchasing grain processing equipment. This step was a long one for me. It was four years from the time when I learned about using whole grain and wanting a grain mill until I was able to purchase one. The IRS made a mistake on a previous tax year and sent me a check with interest so that allowed me to purchase an electric mill. I have the Marcato Atlas Grain Mill/oat roller (it manually flakes grain) and the Wonder Mill (electric grain mill to make flour from the whole wheat). Both have pretty good resale value compared to the initial cost [if purchased used] on eBay if you ended up needing to sell it quick to pay a bill. I use the grain flaker to crack wheat and turn oat groats into oats. I use the Wonder Mill to make whole wheat flour.

6. Buy wheat in a larger quantities like 25 lbs or 50 lbs. At this point you will already be using it in your meals. You can do this from the same place you bought it in a small quantity before. Do this even if you don't have grain processing equipment but are cooking it on your crock pot. Look into buying other grains in the large quantities too like beans, rice and oats. Sam's club has the best price on Bastmati rice. Learn how to store food in 6 gallon buckets with a mylar bag and oxygen absorber. The same place that sells you wheat should sell 6 gallon buckets except for a health food store. I have not tried to pack my food like this yet but it's next on my list. :) There are some great videos on YouTube that demonstrate this. You can buy grains already packed like this. For some things like rice, I plan to pack myself with the O2 absorbers and mylar bags myself since it's more economical. (And sugar, too, minus the O2 absorbers.)

Long Term Storage - Healthy and Beauty Products

7. Combine coupons with loss leaders/sales to build a supply of health and beauty products like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel every six months. I utilize the site (HCW). They have previews of ads for major drug stores. I don't get a paper or clip coupons. I order them from a clipping service on eBay. Ads of chain drug stores are posted in advanced on HCW so you can order your coupons in time. If you get too much you or realize stuff will expire soon before using it, you can always post it on Freecycle. I guess donating it to a food bank or shelter is ideal but they never have donation hours when I can get there. With Freecycle (search it on yahoo groups with your city name) someone will pick it right up. :)

Short Term Preparedness.
Inexpensive ways to get started on a 72-hour kit. There are some great PDFs on the Internet and checklists about 72-hour kits. These is a just a few low cost things to get you started.

8. Bags. If you don't have bags around your home to designate for this, buy some from the thrift store. There are a lot of varieties of backpacks and travel bags there. Be sure to check things like zippers and if there is any foul scent before you buy. I've had good success with bags there. You also want to buy a box of larger zip lock bags for hygiene items. Save some of your plastic bags from the grocery store too.

9. Documents & Notebook. Most banks offer free photocopying. Grocery stores have it for around 15 cents per page. Copy your ID, birth certificate, social security cards, bank account statement. If you don't have things things start to acquire them. There are many lists on the internet on what to copy for an emergency financial folder. Make a list of important phone numbers, addresses and account numbers. I keep a notebook with page protectors for all of my important documents. My experience with hurricanes is the phone was turned on before power. I was able to get many things done over the phone. Keep some pens and sharpies in there. You may need to write ID on yourself and your children. US Mail may come back before power and phones. You may be able to send a letter before you have phone access so keep some stamps too and a few envelopes.

10. Medication. Ask your pharmacist for an extra labeled bottle and stick a few pills in there to put in your bag. If you use a local pharmacy you may want to transfer a few days worth to a chain pharmacy like Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart or Sam's in case you had to leave the area.

11. Food. Stick food in there that does not need preparation. Make sure to eat this food every so often. See what your kids eat and what didn't store so well. My son loves pop-tarts but they crumble pretty badly. I prefer canned food with a pop top lid. We like those small 1 - 2 oz cereal bowls too to snack on. Granola bars with chocolate melt and are messy. See what makes you feel full or not too. One day decide to only eat what is in there. Divide it up into 3 and see if that third gets you and your kids past 2 pm or not. :)

12. Drink. If you have a small child, use some type of drink that they can open without assistance. If they can't twist off a bottle cap use a juice box they can puncture. You could also keep a water bottle that has been opened. Practice with them. I recommended stocking some Kool-Aid singles. In a situation where the National Guard arrives they give out a lot of water bottles.

13. Whistle and Poncho and [Mylar] Emergency Blanket. These are less than $2 each. Make sure your kids know how to blow a whistle. :)

14. Discounted entertainment. When school supplies go on sale pick up some for your children for your bags. I cut inexpensive notebook paper into origami size paper. You can get pens, paper, markers, crayons inexpensively before school starts. Keep the crayons in a ziplock because they can melt. Around Christmas time the dollar store has $1 chess boards, checkers, word searches, suduko, card games and coloring books. This cost more than a $1 but Rainbow Resource Center has some inexpensive instructional books by Dover about origami, drawing, and paper airplanes. I don't have a daughter to use them but I've seen paper doll books too. I buy magazines for 25 centers each from the thrift store for my bag. I rotate these every few months.

15. Bug spray and sunscreen. You want to store this separate from your food. I find this highly discounted at the end of summer. I live in Florida so this is necessary here. You may need blankets from the thrift store or inexpensive warmers instead. :)

16. Discarded CDs. You can use these to reflect light. [JWR Adds: Save those ubiquitous AOL CDs for use in various projects including mirrors for home security, and to glue together front-to-front, and -hang up on monofilament fishing line, to scare marauding birds from your garden.]

17. Chewing Gum and Hard Candy.

Some Lessons Learned

It now seems so easy but at first I had no idea about purchasing small quantities of wheat. I called some of the vendors and had no idea about small cans, had no idea the health food store sold wheat, etc. It really took me years from the time of learning about it to purchasing it because I didn't have the money for 50# and had no idea I could buy it in a #10 can or locally one pound at a time at the health food store. It would have saved me a lot of time had I known those things. I learned about 72-hour kits and low cost things from dealing with the hurricanes.

Here are three web sites that I found useful:

The Prudent Homemaker. I know Brandy from the internet and she eats from her food storage. The nice thing about her blog is she posts recipes that she actually makes from her food storage and garden. She is really talented in making the food look really nice too.

Filling Your Ark. I know Erika from the Internet too and she is just brilliant with food storage and everything else! The PDFs there are great too.

Crockett's Corner
sells the Cookin' With Wheat cookbook and DVD. They are both so helpful to someone new to long term food storage like wheat. It's not just bake bread, bread, bread. LOL.

In Closing
My final thoughts are first don't be discouraged if you have to "use" your preparations too outside of a disaster like you need the food or hygiene items in your 72-hour kit or items in your pantry you bought extra of, for a short-term emergency. I've had to use ours so much and hindsight it's a blessing because I am more educated about what we will use or need. One time was this past January, I remember being so happy about all the canned goods I bought at a Sam's Club [warehouse store]. I was finally prepared again for a short-term power outage. Not long after that I was unable to work due to a short-term illness. So soon we had very little canned food left. I was so discouraged but now looking back I see what was left (that we didn't eat for some reason or didn't eat as much I thought we would when purchasing) and what to buy double or triple of when I could.

Secondly ,prepare to the best of your ability. It's now September and I still haven't been able to replenish even an extra one week canned food supply. Keep learning and educating your kids about self sufficiency regardless of what you can buy or not and you will make better decisions when you do have the means to make purchases.

Dear Editor
I would suggest The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith and The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control edited by Barbara W. Ellis and Fern Marshall Bradley. These books both recommend Neem Seed Oil for insect control. [After looking locally.] I found that one must order it online. Regards, - Glennis

Mr Rawles,
In my humble opinion, many blog readers haven't got a clue about gardening/farming without artificial/soil depleting chemicals. The reason "commercial" farmers must use these items is due to their monoculture crops grown in the same thousand + acre plots year after year. When the soil is robbed of it's water holding ability, when the basic elements for plant growth must be replenished artificially year after year, the end result is soil that is, for all practical purposes, useless.

I have been gardening on our 2+ acres since 1999 using organic methods. The biggest factor in my yearly plantings has been the use of my homegrown vermicompost (worm castings). It is far and away the best soil amendment for adding living microriza, fungi and bacteria that aid plant roots in taking up nutrients that are immediately available as opposed to compost which requires further decomposition from finished pile to field application. Further, vermicompost is hydroscopic. It holds moisture in the soil, thus enabling plants to withstand fluctuations in watering.

Crop rotation is vitally important as well as soil amending. Together with adequate watering, these two gardening techniques will just about guarantee the absence of any and all plant pests and diseases and give you the most productive plants and the healthiest produce. I have never experienced thrips, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, cutworms or a myriad of other nasties and I give all the credit to worm castings that have gone into my clay soil over the last decade.

I don't believe for a moment that it is necessary to rely on man-made fertilizers and pesticides for the home gardener/farmer. After all, the reason we choose to raise our own food is based on health concerns. Let it be known that I am not a whacked environmentalist, but neither do I see any reason for being ambidextrous in both organic and commercial methods of food production when "doing it naturally" is far superior.

With that said, it would behoove survivalblog readers to incorporate a vermicomposting setup to their gardening plans. Start-up costs are minimal, but the results are priceless. - Carolyn on The Divide

Since most folks seem bent on using non-hybrid seeds to their SHTF gardens, I think eschewing the use of pesticides and commercial fertilizer is fraught with peril. Most hybrid vegetable varieties have been bred for pest and disease resistance in addition to better yields. Heirloom varieties will likely be much more susceptible to ailments that chemicals can prevent or cure.

There is nothing at all wrong with organic gardening, and certainly nothing wrong with growing non-hybrid food, but I sure wouldn't bet my life on it - especially until things are more established and alternate food sources become more available. SHTF is not the time to be a tree-hugger - survival comes first.

I think the most practical approach is to have both heirloom and hybrid seeds and also have plenty of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides available - just in case. If you don't need any of the above they will be valuable barter items.- Matt R.

Mister Rawles,
The debate on organic gardening could go on endlessly like Ford versus Chevy and wheelgun versus automatic. I've got to agree with your suggestion: be ready and able to do both kinds of gardening--both organic and with chemicals.. To lock one's self into just one mode or the other could detract from your chances of survival. Be prepared for all scenarios! - Gil H.

This piece, sent to us by Damon S., should come as no surprise to SurvivalBlog readers: The Dollar Collapses; Commodities, stocks and foreign currencies all rise as investors sell dollars. As I've stated before, the magic number to watch for on the US Dollar Index (USDI) is 72. The territory south of 72 is terra incognita. "There Be Dragons."

Phil G. sent this: Swiss topple U.S. as most competitive economy

U.S. ‘unlikely’ to recoup auto outlay, panel finds

Lack health coverage? You may pay; "Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as President Barack Obama met Democratic leaders to search for ways to salvage his health care overhaul."

From Damon: China Moves to Internationalize Currency

Items from The Economatrix:

Rising Commodities Push Industrial Stocks Higher

Oil Pushes Higher on Weakening Dollar

McDonald's Sales Growth Slows in August

A Year After the Financial Crisis, the Consumer Economy is Dead

Economic 9-1-1: Did Lehman Bros. Fall or Was it Pushed?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: China, Bernanke, and the Price of Gold

Wall Street to Cash in on Death

I just heard that my writings were mentioned on page 60 of the latest issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. It had been 10 years since they last mentioned me. To get more PM ink, I suppose that I need to write more about gadgety stuff in SurvivalBlog.

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Flesh-eating Superbug Killed Dad in Just Four Hours

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Huge Solar Storm Could Hit Earth Again

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Super-soldier exoskeletons ready for troop tests in 2010. (Thanks to FG for the link.)

"It will not be quick and it will not be easy. Our adversaries are not one or two terrorist leaders, or even a single terrorist organization or network. It's a broad network of individuals and organizations that are determined to terrorize and, in so doing, to deny us the very essence of what we are: free people. They don't live in Antarctica. They work, they train and they plan in countries. They're benefiting from the support of governments. They're benefiting from the support of non-governmental organizations that are either actively supporting them with money, intelligence and weapons or allowing them to function on their territory and tolerating if not encouraging their activities. In either case, it has to stop.

We'll have to deal with the [terror] networks. One of the ways to do that is to drain the swamp they live in. And that means dealing not only with the terrorists, but those who harbor terrorists. This will take a long, sustained effort. It will require the support of the American people as well as our friends and allies around the world." - Donald Rumsfeld, press briefing on September 18, 2001

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I think there is a blind spot in a lot of preparedness/survivalist writing that I would like to address. There are a number of sites which do a good to excellent job of getting the word out about the nuts-and-bolts of getting prepared to allow a family to get through a short term emergency, and there are sites which encourages us to get a retreat in farm country.

However, I have not seen anyone talk about how we will boot strap ourselves to back towards some sort of village life and civil society[, in the event of TEOTWAWKI].

In your novel "Patriots" , you touch on this with the Troy Barter Faire, and then fast forward at the end of the book to this being an accomplished fact. In the novel "One Second After", the author makes the point that an EMP event could have pushed people back to a 19th century lifestyle, but things were more medieval because no one had the knowledge of how
to live in the 19th century, or readily had the tools.

In a post-SHTF scenario, there won't be much call for fibre-channel administrators, but there will be a demand for bakers and candle makers. What I suggest is that while people are assembling their preps, they also look at the skills and services that they will need afterwards, and see if they can't learn to do these things themselves. After all, if they need them,
so will other people, and some folks will be willing to trade for them. Free trade will be the boot-strap which brings about village life again.

Here's a quick list of skills/trades that I think would be useful in a post-SHTF world.

Canning fruits, vegetables and meats
Cheese making
Smoking meats
Sausage making
Truck patch gardening
Yogurt making

Dry goods, sundries:
Soap maker
Candle maker
Paper making

Leather worker (shoes, belts, coats)

Leather tanning
Wool shearing
Wool carding
Wool spinning
Lumbering (the hard way!)
Foundry for smelting recyclable metals

Tin smith
Wheel wright
Cooper (barrel maker)
Leather worker (tack for animal drawn equipment)
Glass blowing (jars, bottles and apparatus)

Many of these skills and trades can be started as a hobby. I suggest that people think about these now, and find what they have a knack for and consider it "job security" for the future. - Bear in California

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was reading the post on Survivalblog regarding "A Practical Use for Post-1982 U.S. Zinc Pennies." You may want to remind your readers that in December 2006, the U.S. Mint announced a regulation making it illegal to melt cents and nickels. While this regulation was obviously aimed at large-scale melters and not us "little guys," the fact remains that the Mint considers the melting of these small-denomination coins illegal, and punishable by up to a $10,000 fine or up to five years in prison.

Of course, the feds won't necessarily know if you or I are melting down coins in our backyard foundries, but it probably isn't advisable to advocate such a practice on your web site. [JWR Adds: For the record, I advocate stockpiling pennies and nickels, in anticipation of a a future change in the anti-melting law.] And how they could possibly enforce this, well it would be nearly impossible. Speaking for myself, and off the record, if I want to melt a penny, the feds can go jump in a lake. It is my money after all. - Mr. Coin

Mr. Editor,:
If one was truly going to "Prepare to Garden Like Your Life Depends on It" I would never rely 100% on organic farming unless it was as a last resort Personally I wouldn't rely on it anymore then compost and manure, if it was free and available (Do you deliver?)

I work in agriculture and during growing season, I see organic crop failures, and these are professional farmers. Could you afford to loose 25-80% of your crop, or how about 100 percent?
Organic growers are operating at a huge disadvantage using "organic pesticides" with many that just don't work. Sure, some will knock the problem down for a short while, then you will be back where you started, as all the eggs hatch out again.

If you have ever had problems with: Whitefly, Thrips, or Spidermites just too name a few, then you will know exactly what I mean. Commercial growers feed the world, and turn out crop after crop with reliable results using the correct amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, shouldn't you be doing the same? After all, your life might depend on it right?

Ok back to work, Now lets see... Who was it that had fertilizer and Malathion on sale? And I need... - Barry

JWR Replies: In my estimation, the best course is lies in the middle ground: Get experience with both gardening techniques. If we ever have a dreaded multi-generational TEOTWAWKI, then experience with organic gardening will be invaluable. In the short term, it also has some health benefits, and amending the soil naturally is a good thing, even if you decide to use pesticides. I agree that after the Schumer hits the fan, crop yield will trump all other considerations, since there will suddenly be a lot of hungry folks to feed, without any conveniently-stocked supermarket shelves. Even devoted organic gardeners should store some pesticides! But don't overlook the possibility of a worst-case situation that could go on, and on, and on, and we find that all available pesticides and chemical fertilizers are expended and irreplaceable. Again: Get experience with both techniques.

This article from Virginia was picked up by our local newspaper: Fed-up Smokers Grow Own Tobacco

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Yet another use for baling twine: The Baling Twine Knife

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Reader "Yankee Doodle" sent this: The vegetable gardeners of Havana.

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If you've ever wondered how you can archive the educational videos you find online: How to Download and Save YouTube Videos to Your Computer

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Wired magazine: ‘E-Bomb’ Doomsday Conference. (A tip of the hat to Tom R. for the link.)

"When a man spends his own money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about how much he spends and how he spends it.
When a man spends his own money to buy something for someone else, he is still very careful about how much he spends, but somewhat less what he spends it on.
When a man spends someone else's money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about what he buys, but doesn't care at all how much he spends.
And when a man spends someone else's money on someone else, he doesn't care how much he spends or what he spends it on. And that's government for you." -Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

So you plan on growing your own food in times of need. Here are some facts to bear in mind: 1) your garden is not just what you have in your tilled yard, greenhouse and cold frame; 2) prepare yourself
physically for this way of life and diet; 3) organic gardening/farming will be the only kind of farming in the future; and 4) go native.

Local food gathering and native plants are an essential aspect of a long-term, sustainable food supply. What grows in your area that can be eaten or used as a medicine? The most common edible plants are dandelion, chicory, cattails, amaranth, lamb's quarters, and milkweed. If you garden, you probably pull [and composting] many of these from your "garden" now as weeds (they grow well in temperate zones of America). Time may come when we will have to adjust out thinking to recognize free food. If it grows in your area and you don't have to work at it, you benefit by saving time and money.

First, get a good book on the topic for your area, such as: Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places or A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plant (Peterson Field Guide Series). With book in hand, take a walk around the backyard and surrounding areas and look for the edible wild plants in your area. Odds are you'll have no trouble finding half a dozen or so. Consider pulling these weeds now and eating them (instead of composting them if they grow in your yard and garden). Can you find or create a recipe for the plant? Do you (and your loved ones) like the taste? If so, then hooray! You just cut back on your grocery bills. Also, some weeds can be made into teas (medicinal or tasty). Don't overlook the joy of a tasty drink in the summer or importance of hot flavored drinks during cool months to lift the spirits.

Importance of stored foodstuffs in February and March. There is a good reason the full moon in February is called the Hunger moon [in the Northern hemisphere] and why many religions have fasting periods in early Spring. Before civilization, food was hard to come by during these months (hunting is often poor and very little is edible). To get the most out of your stores, you should plan to tap into your stored food stuff only when can’t get by on what you grow, hunt, gather (due to illness/injury/weather).

Read what you can about extending your growing season. Some very simple changes to your garden, techniques, and seed stores can extend the growing season by weeks if not months in most areas. Here in Maine, my cold frame will grow food I can harvest until early December and start again in late February to harvest in early April. You can learn more about these techniques here or from the master (Eliot Coleman): Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.

Perennials rather than annuals are the best choice for survival gardens (you don't need seeds and most of these plants are more resistant to pests and drought than annuals). Think about dual use
ornamental plants. Think blueberries or cranberries rather than burning bushes. Can the trees you plant for shade or cover should be fruit bearing trees? Finally, start that rhubarb and asparagus bed
now. Asparagus beds take a few years to bear, but your children will harvest from it in 20 years. And it is one of the first food plants to emerge in the spring (remember the Hunger moon?). What about growing hops vines as screening/cover. Hops makes boiled water taste better, has medicinal uses, and it has other purposes, too (*wink*). Any perennial food plants you put in now will save you many hours of labor when the Schumer hits the oscillator.

Realize that growing, hunting and gathering were full time jobs for early Americans and still are for primitive cultures. Do you have the knowledge and skills to make these yours? Strive to acclimate yourself to the challenges of this diet (challenges both physical and psychological).Going cold-turkey from fast food to a home-based diet can be bad for your morale (if not yours then any family members under 18!). Start eating local from your garden and native foods now so these are not foreign when they are the only option. For some this will also mean weaning yourself off coffee and chocolate. These are [imported] luxuries that need not be a daily necessity. Withdrawal from these is not easy or fun, but better now than in time of crisis.

The one thing most US climates cannot grow is sugar. Historically people used honey or maple syrup. The reality is that wild honey is hard to come by, bee stings are not fun, and beekeeping is not easy.
As for maple syrup/maple sugar, collecting sap to make syrup is a lot of effort and boiling it down takes a lot of time and heat. Early American settlers and had apple trees and used apples as a sweet
treat. Perhaps you can survive on MREs three times a day, but children will be much happier if they have an apple or warm cider on a cold winter day. Cut back on refined sweets now and natural sugar will start to look a lot sweeter.

Farming in the future will not be driving a $250,000 International Harvester fully air-conditioned combination CD-player and tractor back and forth on the land and following Big Ag spray and pray methods. It will be work by animal or hand. For this, you should take a close look at your gardening/farming tools. A wooden handled shovel, rake, and standard hoe will lead to misery and disappointment. I’d suggest a real shovel. The Fiskars shovel is a good one. That, and a scuffle or colinear hoe , an Ames multipurpose trowel will be your mainstays. While I’m at it, I may as well include a wide-brimmed hat. Straw hats are great and have been worn for centuries for a reason. They provide good shade and move perspiration from your head to keep you cool. Like your defense arsenal, your garden tools need not be fancy, but must be reliable and easily maintained. You should (through hours of practice) know how to use them properly and effectively without causing harm to yourself (blisters, strains, or worse) or damaging the tool or your crops.

Your future garden will be organic. Over time, gardening will deplete the soil of macro and micro nutrients. There will be no “Weed be gone” or “Miracle Gro”. If you depend on those to grow your food, when the balloon goes up you are in trouble. For a peek at what to expect you can read a book on what happened to Cuba’s agriculture after the US embargo: Greening of the Revolution: Cuba's Experiment with Organic Agriculture. These can be replaced through natural (some would say organic) additions to the soil. Animal manure or humanure or good compost The Complete Book of Composting or you can buy the new version: The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener will do it. If you start this now, you will save money to be spent on
other preparedness items and learn how to do it properly. [JWR Adds: See my previously-posted emphatic warnings about any use of "humanure".]

On a related note, stop using any chemicals on your yard. Period. All non-wooded areas are potential gardens or pasture. The sooner you stop putting chemicals on your yard, the sooner you can use it to grow food. Encourage your neighbors to do the same (if necessary, under the OPSEC guise of being environmentally-minded). Your yard and theirs may become your garden or pasture. You don't want 3-tetra-methyl-weeddeath in your red wheat flour before grinding it to make biscuits for supper.

Research how people lived in your [geographic/climate] area and you will learn a lot about how to prepare. What did native people do in your area for food and shelter. You can learn a lot about what it takes to survive in your area by reading history books about natives or early settlers. Where did they live, what did they eat, what did they trade with/for.
Answers to these questions can help you identify needs or resources you may otherwise overlook. If no native people lived in the area you are considering to be your retreat, then you should probably not try to make a go of it there.

Remember: The Lord does not give us more than we can handle. Pray for the best and prepare for the worst - Prepared in Maine

James Wesley,
I just read an ad on Craigslist explaining some sad stories for individuals on “Bank walk aways” . See for more. It appears that [some] banks are intentionally not auctioning off properties foreclosed on and leaving the titles (… legal responsibility, liabilities, etc.) in the original record holder’s name. Down the road these vacant properties are vandalized, looted, burned etc., then the city comes a callin’ for the “homeowner” to fund the repairs / demolition. This is outrageous if this is true!

Thanks are hardly enough for the wake up call you’ve given me through your book and web site, but Thank You all the same. This is my first email to your in an attempt to contribute to your great knowledge resource looking out for people. On one hand I hope this is not happening, but if it is I hope you post the wake up call. All the best. - Hal H.

U.S. Government to Loan Brazil's Petrobras $10 Billion. This supercedes the old offer of $2 billion. Oh, but wait a minute! So if the BHO administration favors offshore drilling in US coastal waters, then why is this money going to Petrobras-Brazil instead of to US companies?

Sue C. spotted this one: Dollar Falls to Lowest Versus Euro in 2009 as Stocks Rally

And from A.C.: Schiff: Rising Gold Signals Inflation

Items from The Economatrix:

Gary North: Deflation, Inflation, Stagflation, Mass Inflation, Hyperinflation: Which One Will Get Us First?

Obama Says US Still Faces Complex Economic Crisis

Federal Reserve Saved Us From Another Depression?
Methinks it is a bit early for self-congratulation...

International Regulators Agree on New Bank Rules

A Year After Meltdown: Tough Questions, Choices

Sears Hits Back at "Inaccurate" Report

Obama Accused of Making "Depression" Mistakes

G-20 May Curb Banker Pay, Profit at Pittsburgh Summit

Obama Offers Steps to Make Retirement Savings Easier
The recession wiped out $2 Trillion in retirement savings. Now they want us to buy US Savings Bonds (with long maturities), just before mass inflation sets in. What sort of fools do they think we are?

BoE May Introduce Negative Interest Rates for First Time in History
. (Japan tried "Super zero" rates. It didn't work for them, and I'm fairly confident that it won't for the Brits, either.)

French Economy Seen as Stabilizing

Russia's Credit Rating at Risk as Era of Deficits Loom

Ruble to Fall 10% by March on Deficit

Fed Imposes Restrictions on Two Midwest Banks

ECB's Trichet Says World Economy Shows Signs of Stabilizing

Bob Chapman: Financial Crisis, US Market Trends

Increased Liquidity Boosts Economic Recovery Hopes

UK Was Hours from Bank Shutdown

"By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.... The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose." - John Maynard Keynes

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.)A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.


Imagine this situation: All of the media outlets have gone to commercial-free coverage. They are reporting that the Dow has dropped 2,000 points and trading has been suspended on Wall Street. The Chinese, along with other countries have transferred their reserves from the US Dollar. Oil futures climb $50 a barrel in hours. A national bank holiday shuts down the financial system on Main Street. Within 24 hours the grocery stores are cleared out of all food stocks. The gas pumps dry up in 12 hours. Trucks delivering goods are stuck at truck stops waiting on fuel that may not be available in days; 18-wheelers that have enough fuel to get back home are doing so, with the trailer left on the side of the road. Inner city areas are turning into war zones with looting and random acts of violence occurring between rival gangs. The Interstate System becomes a parking lot with the suburbanites trying to “get out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.). With no more fuel supplies people become stranded and forced to flee on foot, with panicked people who are usually rational and moral, now acting immorally and irrationally; doing what it takes to get their family to perceived safety.

Moral of the story is simple – given an emergency where you will be cut off from the comfort of the complex supply chain, utility grid, and police protection, could you take care of you and your family? Could you do it for a week, for a month, or even a year?

I know this has more than likely unnerved you. Do not panic! Simple planning can help you get where you can take care of yourself and your family. We are going to try to guide you step-by-step in your path to peace of mind. Look at this plan as purchasing an insurance plan. You pay hundreds per month to insure yourself and your belongings, and investing in preparations may be the best policy you ever purchase. This will be covered in several areas:

  • Money
  • Food Storage
  • Security
  • Self-Sustaining Lifestyle

It may be advised to keep your preparations confidential. Use discretion as much as possible when you make your acquisitions. Also note that there will be some sacrifice in making your targets. The items we are suggesting to buy in this document are costly, but remember what we said earlier about this being an insurance policy for the safety and security of your household. Try to think of others that may join you if they are displaced by a disaster. We will cover this in detail throughout this work.


Most of the families in this country are trying to figure out how to make ends meet in these troubled times. The first thing you need to do is do a household budget with your family. You should put a total of what is coming in and the fixed bills that have to be paid out monthly. Write out your variable expenses for six months and see what you can cut to contribute to your monthly “insurance” expenses. There are many plans out there to help you with this. There are many ways to cut corners; you just have to be creative. 25-50% of the “insurance” fund should be used to pay down debt, with the remainder directed at your preparations. Use one month’s “insurance” allotment to purchase 90% pre-65 silver coins, which have intrinsic value with the silver content in them, or 1 oz. silver rounds from a recognized mint.


Water is crucial for healthy living and survival. 80+% of the human body is water and must be replenished regularly. I human being can go on weeks without food, but without water, a person will perish in days. Each person will need three gallons of water per day to stay cleaned, fed, and hydrated. Invest in a high-quality gravity water filter. The British Berkefeld or Berkey Light (starting around $200) is recommended for its timeless design and filtration level. Rain collection and other sources of water must also be considered.


In today’s just-in-time society, our logistics system is so finely tuned that the slightest hiccup in the system could cause massive trauma to the supply system. 3 days of delivery delays could interrupt the system for a month. How much food should be stored in reserve? Well, as much as space in your house and your pocket book will allow. 60 days will be your starting point. Remember to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Allocate an extra $30 per week to your grocery budget. Sit down with your family and make a list of what foods they enjoy to eat. Make a menu and look at the ingredients needed to make the dishes. Create a special storage area in a closet or basement for food storage. When you go to the grocery store by double the ingredients and put the excess in your storage closet. Keep an inventory and check off items when you meet your goal level for that particular ingredient. A starter list is included in this work.

If you have the funds, try to stock your shelf with freeze-dried foods designed for long-term storage. These are items are pricey, but worth it on that rainy day. If you have a Mormon contact, you can go to the Provident Living centers to can food at a reduced cost compared to other commercial sources.

Two Month Supply for Two People of Shelf Stable Grocery Store-Purchased Foods:

Starches (daily: 6 servings, 2 people/60 days: 720 servings)
12 boxes (10 packets ea.) instant oatmeal (120 servings)
6 lbs. rice (120 servings)
8 lbs. pasta (120 servings)
3 boxes instant potatoes (60 servings)
60 cans starchy vegetables (beets, carrots, corn, lima beans, sweet peas) (180 servings)
15 lbs flour (for baking bread) (120 servings)
Vegetables (daily: 4 servings, 2 people/60 days: 480 servings)
160 cans non-starchy vegetables (or 120 cans veggies & 20 jars spaghetti sauce)
(artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, yellow beans, wax beans, mushrooms, okra, spinach, tomatoes)

Fruit (daily: 3 servings, 2 people/60 days: 360 servings)         
120 cans fruit (no sugar added)

Meats/Legumes (daily: 4 servings, 2 people/60 days: 480 servings)
30 (6 oz) cans tuna (90 servings)
12 (15 oz) cans salmon (90 servings)
15 (12 oz) cans chicken (90 servings)
15 (12 oz) cans turkey (90 servings)
15 (5 oz) cans ham (30 servings)
30 cans (or 7 lbs. dry) beans (90 servings) (kidney, navy, great northern)
Dairy (daily: 3 servings, 2 people/60 days: 360 servings)         
6 (25 oz) boxes non-fat dry milk (enough to make 12 gallons)
or 16 (12.6 oz) cans NIDO brand dry whole milk (can be found in ethnic foods section)
6 lbs. Velveeta cheese
12 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk

10 lbs. sugar
20 packages active dry yeast
4 (26 oz) containers salt
2 lbs. popcorn
4 jars peanut butter (40oz)
4 (32 oz) bottles vegetable oil
dried onions, garlic & other spices
large bottle of Multi-vitamins


This is where people tend to get a little uneasy. Except for the sociopath and serial killer, humans instinctively do not want to harm their fellow man. However, in times where there are challenges, people will be likely divided into two categories:

  1. Good guys that work with their neighbors and others survive
  2. Bad guys that will do anything it takes to survive.

You must be prepared to handle the second group, either though evasion, repulsion, or attack. The only way to do this effectively meet this task is to arm yourself with knowledge and of course – the hardware needed for the job.


First and foremost, firearms need to be looked at as tools. They can hurt you if you are not safe! Just as a chainsaw, ladder, or tractor, like all dangerous tools, firearms must be handled with respect, with all the safety guidelines followed. Firearm selection can be complicated, so here are some easy guidelines in selecting a firearm.


Caliber refers to what round the firearm is chambered to shoot. It is recommended that you purchase firearms listed in the primary category:

  • Rifle – .223; .308
  • Handgun – 9mm; 45ACP
  • Shotgun/Survival – 12 gauge;.22L

Secondary Calibers:

  • Rifle – .30-06; 7.62x39mm
  • Handgun – .40S&W; .357 Magnum(also shoots .38 Special)
  • Shotgun/Survival – 20 gauge;.17 HMR

A lot of people who are new to firearms, or who have never thought of needing defensive firearms can get confused with all of the choices out there in the gun market. We will use the primary caliber list above as a starting point. If you own firearms, make a list of the caliber and type you have. Then inventory the ammo you have on hand for each firearm. Sell excess firearms that are not in the primary caliber list to create some extra funds to get what you really need in your defensive toolbox. Keep firearms chambered in Secondary Calibers as barter items or handouts to extra “help.”s

For those on a budget and new to firearms, purchase a used 12 gauge pump shotgun and a used .357 Magnum revolver from an individual if possible. Guns have service lives measured in tens of thousands of rounds, so it makes sense to buy used guns, to save money. Also, by buying used guns from private parties, in most states you can avoid creating a "paper trail".) Find a friend or coworker that is knowledgeable in firearms, do your homework, and get these guns first. The 12 gauge has quite a recoil (“kicks”) with heavy loads, but can be used on any critter with wings or legs (2 or 4); make sure to get a model of shotgun that can have an extended magazine tube installed on it. As for handguns, the .357 revolver is a formidable self-defense pistol and can also shoot the [less powerful and slightly less expensive] .38 Special cartridge. Make sure you also have a holster and some speed loaders. Along with 100 rounds each of Buckshot and .357 hollow points, purchase low-cost clay load 12 gauge shells for the shotgun and bulk packs of .38 and to inexpensively learn how to use your firearms. Practice safe use and handling of all firearms, and make sure all chambers are clear or cylinders empty while stored in a secured safe or metal gun cabinet. Always make sure a firearm is clear before handling, and not in the physical grasp of untrained/young children.

After you have your “starter” guns, make sure you have plenty of food for a couple months and water filtration, then start adding to your defensive tool box. Acquire firearms that are more suited for defending your perimeter and neighborhood. This can be pricey, but remember, you do not want to skimp on an item that might save your hide!

  • Rifle – a rifle should be a magazine fed, self-loading weapon that can be easily handled and maintained by the individual.
    • AR-15 Lightweight Carbine with M4 or Magpul stock
      • 10-to-20 magazines per weapon
      • Minimum 1,500 rounds of M193 ball per weapon
    • Springfield M1A
      • magazines per weapon
      • Minimum 1,000 rounds of ball
  • Handgun – Remember that a handgun is just to get you back to your rifle and to defend yourself in situations where a rifle is not appropriate.
    • “Safe-acton" style in 9mm or .45ACP
      • Glock
      • Springfield XD
      • Smith and Wesson M&P
    • 1911 Variant in .45ACP
      • Kimber
      • Springfield Armory
    • 50 magazine loads worth of ammo and 6-8 extra magazines per weapon
  • Specialty – If you have the skills and the funds, it is wise to have a Varmint rifle handy for long range targets. There are many excellent choices out there, and is this is a custom weapon to the person; however, the author recommends .308 (7.62mm NATO) or .300 Winchester Magnum for the caliber


You must have adequate gear to carry your extra magazines and survival gear. A plastic grocery bag just won't fit the bill. This is called load-bearing equipment (LBE). Purchase gear that fits you and your environment. Some manufacturers of high-quality gear include: Tactical Tailor, Spec-Ops Brand, and Maxpedition

24 Hour Kit – this is the equipment that is your base equipment you will wear while doing security patrols. It should sustain you for up to 24 hours in the field.

  • Load Bearing Vest with appropriate pouches for your gear
    • Rifle and 6-12 magazines
    • Sidearms and 2-3 magazines
    • Camelback hydration carrier – 2 liter
    • FRS/GMRS Radio
    • Survival Gear Pouch
      • Gloves – Cold Weather and Heavy-Duty Leather
      • Small Bible
      • 24-hour food supply
      • Water purification tablets/Water filter
      • Mosquito net
      • Poncho
      • Gun cleaning kit (Otis Universal Recommended)
      • 2 pairs of socks
      • Camouflage bandanna
      • Signal mirror
      • Emergency blanket
      • Small fishing kit
      • Sewing kit
      • Batteries
      • Fire Starting Kit
        • Matches in waterproof case
        • Magnesium starter
        • Starting Tender (dryer lint or cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly)
      • Camouflage face paint kit
      • Knife Sharpener
  • Quality surplus USGI pistol belt (usually attached to vest)
    • Tactical Pistol Holster (optional)
    • USGI Canteen (empty), with cover and cup
    • Quality Fighting/Utility knife
    • Quality LED flashlight with colored filters
    • First Aid Kit
72 Hour Kit (Also known as the Bug Out Bag) – This is in addition to your 24 hour kit. As with the vest, his should be ready to go at all times. Rotate times that need to be rotated and do a gear check on a monthly basis.
  • Small or Medium Daypack or Rucksack
    • 3 MREs or similar trail-type food
    • Spare ammo
    • 1 – Set of clothes (camouflage for your area)
    • 2 – Black, Drab Green, or Brown T-shirts
    • 6 – Pairs of Socks
    • Toiletries
    • Mess Kit
    • Sleeping bag – Winter
    • Poncho liner – Summer
    • Entrenching Tool
    • Plastic Bags
  • Scenario Specific Equipment
      • Advanced Medical Supplies
      • Bolt Cutters
      • Long Distance Two-way Radios
      • Entry Tools
      • Heavy Wire Ties
      • Large Wire Cutters
      • Rappelling Line and accessories
      • Barter/Charity Goods
      • Hatchet/Machete of some type

Make sure first off the pack you select fits you well, is durable (no Chi-com knockoffs), Drab in color (florescent colors and reflective stripes are a no-no). Make sure the straps are of modern ergonomic design and you have a chest and belly band the fits you will over clothing. The better the fit of the bag, the less fatigue you will endure.

Put your gear on and make sure it fits well. Go to a private location and test your gear out. Try to simulate being in the field. 99% of your activity in a disaster is gathering food and keeping yourself going, however you will need to periodically do a scouting patrol around your property to see what is happening, check on distant neighbors, etc. You need to make sure you can haul on your person every item you need to operate in the field for 72 hours.

Wearing this kind of gear around is very fatiguing. If you are not in shape now, you will get in shape when the time comes. Make sure you can eliminate weight at every opportunity. Examples include carrying hotel size soap bars or slices of soap instead of a whole bar; a lightweight one-man tent instead of a three-man tent; sawing a toothbrush in half; etc. Anything to lighten the load, do it.

Self-Sustaining Lifestyle

If you made it through this work so far without throwing it in the trash or deleting it from your computers, thank you. I bet the wheels are turning in your head. Do not panic or get overwhelmed. The point of this work from the first letter is to give a broad overview of what steps you need to take to become a more self-sufficient American. I know that the cost of items freak you out. Think about it as spending your money while it is worth something. A simple breakdown in the monetary system could invalidate years of savings. Make it where you are comfortable in the future and do not become a casualty. The biggest issue faced in a disaster situation is comfort. However, if you have a comfortable place to sleep, food to eat, and water to drink you will thrive in hard times.


A survivalist thinks they will hit the woods and live off the land. A good majority of these people will not make it due to exposure and lack of clean food and water. A thrivalist makes plan A to go to the well-stocked retreat (which may be home) and ride out the storm. The thrivalist can also live in the woods, but it is strictly plan B. The best place to remain is in what you know intimately – your home and surrounding area.

Bug Out or Stay In?

This will be a difficult choice for you to make. This is strictly the opinion of the author, but you should plan to avoid major cities during this time of crisis. In other words, if you live in an urban/suburban area become good friends with someone like mind and a tank of gas away or if you live in the country, plan to stay in and make room to have extra permanent guests if a catastrophic event happens to our nation. Whatever choice you make, you will need more people than just yourself. You will need a team of folks to sustain your Area of Operation (AO). This is where the purpose of this document ends. You have to use the gifts God gave us – intuition, critical thinking, gut feeling, etc. – to plan out exactly what you are going to do.

Some suggested helpful links:

Hello Mr Rawles,
In response to Jane L.'s letter on shedding bad habits posted on September 3rd, it is admirable she has identified things in her life she can move away from for a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

I would like to caution her, as well as others, that preparedness and survivalism is not an activity one does for a few weeks, and "is ready". It is a lifestyle changing activity that probably reaches every facet of life, changing many things all at once.

Don't burn out on it.

Things like the glass of wine, some breath mints or chewing gum are all small things that add up. Remember, you should be in this for the long haul, and a perpetual cycle of denial of these little things can add up, building a resentment to the lifestyle you're trying to adjust to. I know when I'm going backpacking for a long time, I miss my bed. If I was suddenly out of the house and this was my only means of warmth at night, I would begin to resent requiring the tent and backpack, and long for the days of my warm house and bed. Finally, when I get my nice warm bed back, I'm likely to never want to camp or backpack again.If you deny yourself a lot of creature comforts all at once, then start "caving" on a few of them, you may find yourself in a backwards slide where you resent the whole preparedness mindset.

Even if that sacrifice of these little treats is acceptable to you, what of those in your family, who may not feel the sense of importance about what you're doing? Suddenly being denied soda pop and television may cause an instant animosity to the lifestyle you're hoping they embrace. Even a gradual denial of these things may cause it, albeit less severely all at once.

If candies or wine are important to you, find ways to store or re-supply what you have. Preparedness should be about sustainability, not denying ones self of what they feel is important.

As for television, it is a tool. You can cut it out altogether, or look at it as another medium of information. Yes, you can turn off Spongebob, but maybe you should be watching shows about deer hunting or food prep? Even the occasional movie is important, as your family all watches it with you. Some households, this is the only "together time" there is, sadly. Look at what that television means to your family. If gathering to watch a movie every other night is some family quality time, then don't deny that. These are the people you care most about in the world, and the ones that will have your back in the situations you're prepping for.Just having that quality time to reinforce family relations is important. - DA in Michigan

Courtesy of The Other Jim R.: Dollar Will Weaken, Currency Crash Possible, Roubini Says

From FG: More US wealthy opt to surrender their citizenship

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard asks: Does the world have the courage to deal with its debts? "There are three ways out of our mess. We can pursue 1930s liquidation that purges debt through mass default. Such Calvinist destruction cannot be imposed on a modern democracy. We can devalue debt by deliberate inflation. This will backfire as bond vigilantes boycott government debt - unless rigged by capital controls or "administrative measures". You see where this leads. Or we can try to right the ship by paying down our debts, very slowly, by sweat and toil, navigating a treacherous course between the Scylla and Charybdis of the twin-flations, for as long as it takes. This is the only responsible course left we as we face the devastating consequences of our own credit delusions. Are we up it?"

Reader Randy F. flagged this: China alarmed by US money printing; The US Federal Reserve's policy of printing money to buy Treasury debt threatens to set off a serious decline of the dollar and compel China to redesign its foreign reserve policy, according to a top member of the Communist hierarchy.

Items from The Economatrix:

Food Stamp List Soars to New Record Past 35 Million

Biden: Stimulus Working Better than Expected

[Memory] Chips and Beer May Herald Return of Pricing Power

Florida Exodus: Rising Taxes Drive Residents Out

Old Chrysler Defaults on $3 Billion Bankruptcy Loan from Government

US Doles Out Grants for Energy Projects
Projects are in US, but profits flowing to European companies and developers

1.3 Million Americans to Lose Jobless Benefits by Year's End

Mortgage Defaults Shifting to Prime Borrowers

The Government's Cooked Books

FG spotted this: Ammo demand remains Sky High. Here is a quote: "On delivery days at the Bass Pro Shop in the Silverton, 20 to 30 customers will line up for the store to open, said Keith Rainey, an assistant manager in the hunting department. 'They call us up every day to find out when the next load is coming in,' Rainey said. 'If you don't get there early, you don't get any bullets.'
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Mark D . sent this: Veggie Vandals: community gardens deal with theft

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As they say in Southern China: "Ni hao, Y' all": Reader Tim T, just discovered that there is a Chinese translation of SurvivalBlog available. We don't have many hits there, but at least we don't seem to be blocked by The Great Firewall of China. (Which is surprising, since I am such an unrepentantly disharmonious reactionary Capitalist Rotor.)

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From Nanny State Britannia: U.K. Boy Scouts banned from using penknives on camping trips. (Thanks to FG for the link.)

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." - Patrick Henry

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dear Jim,
I want to forward a story from my local electronics surplus dealer concerning his son and wife who live in a new upper-middle class subdivision just outside of Portland, Oregon.

Last Friday, William (not his real name) went off to work as normal. Kids went off to school. Wife was home. She left the house at 11:15 for a quick errand. She got back about noon. Only 45 minutes.

On her return, she noticed the front door unlocked. She did the correct thing and did not enter the house. She called the local police from inside her car parked across the street. They cleared the house and noted that it looked like a quick search had occurred. Drawers were piled by desk, freezer contents were thawing on the floor. As soon as the safe was found by the bad guys, the hasty search stopped to concentrate on it. [JWR Adds: Perhaps it is worthwhile to leave a small "bait" vault that is bolted down in the master bedroom closet, while your main gun vault is hidden behind a false wall.]

Unfortunately, it was only a "fire safe"--mostly plastic, bolted to the floor) which can be popped open with a pry bar. Bad guys opened it quickly, took $16,000 in paper money, jewelry, etc. and were gone in a few minutes. In contrast, a $1,000 gun safe or a small floor safe set in concrete would have frustrated average thieves for at least an hour, if not completely.

The cash will not be covered by insurance (excluded in the policy), and the house policy will only cover about $4,000 of the documented jewelry. No one expects recovery or conviction, nor any significant investigation since "only property" was lost.

Details that I didn't have were about household help (carpet cleaner, maid, yard service, plumber, etc.) who might have tipped off an unsavory buddy about the number of people in the house, entries/gates/dogs/alarm systems, vehicle details, coming and going timing and regularity, observed portable wealth, etc.

Lesson: A small "fire safe" for papers should be secured in a "real" safe or vault that household help do not have access to or knowledge of. Expect casing of better neighborhoods that are nearly empty during the work-week. Short shopping trips are plenty of time for Breaking & Entering, but the bad guys know that the clock is ticking from their first knock on the front door. Delay (a well-concealed stout safe) is a homeowner's best asset, followed by professional armed response. A well-concealed video camera feeding to a hidden recorder would greatly encourage the local police to pursue prosecution, or help your investigator. [JWR Adds: Concealed web cams feeding motion-capture images to an off-site server are now quite affordable.] Concealed carry for the lady of the house may have made her feel more self-assured during her retreat back to the car.

Best wishes for your family. Sincerely, - Karl K. in Oregon

First, as promised earlier I wanted to follow up and describe the kit I take with me on my trips. As I have mentioned in the past my job takes me overseas all the time, so for the past decade I have spent 80-90% of my time in third and second world countries. As a result the type of kit I take with me becomes important – it has to be packable and lightweight (especially now that the airlines are limiting you to 50 lbs. per bag versus the old 75 lbs. per bag). I have built up a kit that fits inside a one quart water bottle that goes in my suitcase whenever I travel. In the kit I have:

1. A folding knife (not a one hand opening one … just a plain old Buck style knife). When asked (four or five times in a decade now) I explain that this is for cutting my food.

2. A pocket knife (Swiss Army knife) [JWR Adds: Per FAA regulations, edged weapons may only be carried in checked baggage--not in carry-on bags,.]

3. A fork and spoon (titanium)

4. A small (AAA battery size) LED flashlight

5. Several packets of sugar free hydration mix

6. Water purification tablets and a water purification straw

7. A compass (Marble's Brand Pin On)

8. A waterproof container with matches in them (while technically not allowed I have packed them for years with no problems)

9. A length of 550 cord

10. A map of the region that has been waterproofed after various routes out of the area have been marked on it.

11. A waterproofed copy of my passport front page, driver’s license, and birth certificate, and contact number.

12. A couple of Krugerrands

I also have in the suitcase:

1. A small SW receiver (Grundig)

2. A first aid kit

3. A medical kit with various antibiotics, cold medicines, etc. in it.

4. A sewing kit (scissors come in handy and the thread and safety pins can be used for fishing)

I also use a backpack to carry my laptop and business stuff in. I have in the past pulled the hard-drive from the laptop and left it sitting there when I have had to evacuate. The survival kit goes into the backpack in this case. Just because the backpack is a 5.11 RUSH24, it has not raised any eyebrows by customs officials. In addition to this I have always carried a packable raincoat or poncho and a cold weather jacket in my suitcase along with a good pair of hiking boots and a couple of pairs of wool hiking socks.

Notice that other than the items in the water bottle, they are all items that one would use on a long business trip anyway.

I make it a habit to never pack and carry anything with me that I would not be willing to dump if the need arose.

I am sure this list will cause all sorts of heartache and discussion but I have used this kit or something very similar since I was a teenager (my father was posted all over the world) and unless we are talking about a complete breakdown of order it has enough in it that I can make it out of an area if need be.

Second, we are using this weekend as a chance to go enjoy the great outdoors and practice our load out at the same time. As mentioned in the past we plan on using a camping trailer to get out of our area if we are forced to. So this weekend (as we have in the past) we are practicing our load out and go skills. The kids look at it as a game, and now while the world is not as bad as it could be, we can survive if we forget something basic – and have time to add it to the trailer.

Third, when it comes to a bug-out many of us are tied to our computers and would want to take them with us. While I plan on taking one laptop with me if we ever have to leave our house (plus the K-12 educational CDs that we have for it) along with vital records, there is another way to keep your records with you. I have started to use products from a couple of different sites for many reasons – portability and security are chief among them. allows you to load a basic set of applications onto a USB [memory] stick and use it in “stealth” mode on any computer with a USB port. This allows you to keep your records and a basic set of applications with you at all times (things like money management software and email are critical). I also frequent and have a USB stick set up with a virtual linux image that allows me to do the same basic things as with the windows portable applications. I would urge you to set up several USB sticks like this so that you can get by with a single laptop/PC per family versus multiple ones. I also have the same sort of setup (using the windows briefcase function) for my critical business documents – while pulling the hard-drive does work this is a much cleaner solution.

In this way if I need to walk out of an area, a small USB memory stick is a whole lot easier to carry than a laptop. Plus with the large number of companies that are placing tracking software on your laptops these days, being able to keep certain things private has a great deal of appeal. - Hugh D.

Sluggish growth in france leading to big trouble. (Thanks to DD for the link.)

Larry T. sent this: Why Default on U.S. Treasuries is Likely, by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. "Buried within the October 3, 2008 bailout bill was a provision permitting the Fed to pay interest on bank reserves. Within days, the Fed implemented this new power, essentially converting bank reserves into more government debt. Now, any seigniorage that government gains from creating bank reserves will completely vanish or be greatly reduced."

Items from The Economatrix:

Five Weeks on the Brink: Reliving the '08 Meltdown

Brown to G-20: Economy at Critical Juncture

Recession Hits Nest Eggs; US Promotes Ways to Save

List of US Banks Closed by Feds Jumps to 89 (MO, IL, IA, & AZ)

Moody's Ruling is "Landmark Decision" Einhorn Says

US Recovery Leaving Workers Jobless May Spur Company Profits Recovery indicators not boosting paychecks; 9.1 million stuck in part-time jobs

New Jobless Claims Dip Less than Expected Data indicates job market's recovery long, bumpy

Jobless "Traumatized" by Tough Economy

Cheryl mentioned: 13 Tips On Cutting The Family Budget

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I made the mistake of spending more than a half hour on the phone with this journalist who promised me that he was sympathetic to the preparedness movement, and would write a favorable article. Either he was disingenuous, or his editor thoroughly re-wrote the piece: The new survivalists: Oregon 'preppers' stockpile guns and food in fear of calamity. Oh well, at least they spelled my name correctly. Oh, and don't miss the lengthy comments section. It shows how ultra-liberal Portland has become.

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Reader DD suggested these pesky critter tips

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North Korea "Weaponizing" Plutonium, Offers Talks

"When in doubt, overbuild." - Eric Flint, 1635: The Cannon Law

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Do you thrill to read pulse-quickening stories of survival where individuals triumph over extreme odds? How about a survival situation that didn't occur over a period of minutes, such as a tornado....or a survival situation that didn't occur over a period of hours, such as a hurricane ....or a survival situation that didn't occur over a period of days, such as a flood. What about a horrifying survival story that dragged on year after year with no help, no rescue, no hope, no end in sight?

Fearful survival stories of the last Great Depression abound, but we are losing those that lived during that experience through old age. Their stories of triumph and hope need to be heard and remembered.
Do you know personal stories of privations and suffering that are told and retold, first-hand from family members?

In recent days we've read on SurvivalBlog about the poorly coping, unemployed Indiana family living on the edge -- yet still buying Pepsi, cigarettes, beer, Subway sandwiches, and car washes -- and then about other individuals faring better by taking jobs that they never could have imagined working at, such as the poultry farm worker.

All my life I was taught lessons of the Great Depression that had affected my parents' lives. Yes, my mother had stories to tell, but my father was the real survivor in spite of his sad growing up years. As Ann Landers once said, "The fire that melts butter also forges steel."

Two experiences defined my parents' lives: The Great Depression and World War II.
The Great Depression was such a dreadful event to survive that they could never let it go. I would give anything for my parents to still be alive so I could probe their memories and learn more from them. On the other hand, I'm very happy they are not here to see that history is repeating and the uphill struggle they overcame during their lifetimes may be coming around again. My observation of that Greatest Generation is that surviving the Great Depression left people with one of two approaches to money. Either they became tight-fisted to the point of miserliness or money had no meaning, that is, money was for the good it could accomplish and human relationships were tantamount.

My sweet, precious father was the latter type. He should have grown into a bitter, greedy, driven man, but he was the kindest, sweetest person I ever knew. His life was defined by generosity and a gentle, loving, giving spirit.

I feel like people today have no idea where we have come from and where we could be headed again. The depths of a Great Depression are not in the realm of reality or feasibility today to many people.

Here is my Daddy's story:

Daddy was born in 1920 into a working class family in a small, dusty Texas town that sits near the Red River and Oklahoma border. His parents were loving parents although a bit bigoted. His father served as a city councilmen, volunteer fireman, church deacon, and proudly was active in his Masonic Lodge. The family owned their own little wooden house on a dirt street and had many friends through church and civic activities. My father was the eldest child. Grandmother had gone to junior college for one year and had grown up on a farm and had the usual farm skill set. She knew all about food preservation, small livestock, and all the handiwork imaginable such as sewing, tatting, quilting, crochet, and knitting. The family was well-respected in the community.

My father's world turned upside in 1931. Daddy's father worked as a railroad engineer, work that seems to have been some type of job transferring trains onto different tracks at the train depot. His work did not involve any travel and he was home in the evenings for supper. Until he died, my daddy hated the lush plant called "cannas" that he knew as "depot plants" because of the sad association in his mind with trains. My popular grandfather was so liked in the town that he had made an enemy, a mean, hateful, spiteful one. His immediate boss was jealous of my grandfather's standing and fired him without cause or reason according to family oral tradition. In 1931, the Great Depression had been going on for two years with years still left until recovery. There was no work to be found anywhere and no social safety net. My grandfather was not afraid of hard work or any type of job, there just weren't any jobs available. By this time, the family had now grown to 2 children in the family and my grandmother was pregnant with the third.

Out of desperation to feed his family, my grandfather visited a man in town who had some connections and business around Texas to ask for, even beg, for a job, any job. This man said that the only work he had available that he could give my grandfather was a job in another town many hours away working on unloading trains. While it meant leaving the family, it would provide some income for the family. Unfortunately, my grandfather was a tall, big-boned man and somewhat overweight. He moved out of town to work in the 100+ degree humid east Texas summer. The work was so strenuous that one day in the high temperatures, he collapsed from a heat stroke...not heat exhaustion...heat stroke. They took my grandfather to lie down in a bed out of the sun, to try to cool down. Of course, air conditioning and Emergency Department Trauma Centers were only pleasant future dreams. Then they called my grandmother and a friend of hers had a car and money for gasoline, so together they drove many hours to east Texas t o retrieve my grandfather. They loaded him up and drove back to their hometown. Grandfather rested at home for a few days then went back to work in east Texas out of desperation because without him working, there was no money. He was dead within a few days from a relapse heat stroke. I can't begin to imagine the depths of despair my young widowed grandmother felt when facing the future with three small children. She was on her own to survive.

At the age of 11, my father, just a child, became "the man of the family," as his mother told him. Until his own personal health collapse at age 13, Daddy brought home the only cash the family lived on. Grandmother took the three children back to the family farm (her parent's farm) each summer for a couple of weeks to can and bring home some food to live on for the next few months. The family kept a few chickens in the backyard in town and my Daddy wrung chickens' necks when they decided to splurge and eat one. Breakfast was often apple pie. An ugly, old biddy hired my Daddy to deliver the local newspaper twice a day in town. While Daddy had a bike, out of spitefulness, this woman insisted "her" paperboys deliver on foot. My father grew six inches in two years, while attending school and delivering newspapers. And then his health crashed. Daddy was dying of starvation here in the USA, the son of a family with standing and respect in the community during the early desperate days of the Great Depression.

While there was a family doctor in their small town, my grandmother took my father across the river to Oklahoma to visit a different doctor who had been recommended by a friend. Years later, our surmise is that the starvation was so embarrassing that grandmother wanted to see a doctor who didn't know the family. The Oklahoma doctor declared that my father had tuberculosis (TB), a diagnosis that saved Daddy's life. Perhaps this was act of kindness by the doctor. Who knows?

At any rate, when 13 years old, Daddy was sent to a sanitarium in west Texas, situated in a dry, sunny locale. Daddy was fed three nourishing meals a day with forced, silent bed rest for hours each afternoon. His mother never came for a visit. In fact, there were no visitors. Travel was out of the question, just too expensive. A family friend gave him the beautiful gift of a newspaper subscription. A radio on the ward provided entertainment and during afternoon rest, the children communicated by spelling words via sign language. While friends at the sanitarium died, after six months Daddy recovered enough to finally go home.

Even though Daddy was pronounced non-contagious, in fact cured, his mother wouldn't allow him in the house. He slept in a shed in the backyard all by himself, while still just a child. To understand how primitive the shed was, the main house didn't have running water and toilet facilities until many years later. Grandmother sold angel food cakes made with the chicken eggs and got hired to work in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Sewing Room teaching women how to sew. Daddy never again was the main breadwinner for the little family. The rest of his life, all x-rays showed no scarring from TB, his skin tests always turned up negative results, and he was able to play the trumpet. Daddy never had TB, he had survived starvation.

My father possessed a quick, brilliant, complicated mind. He excelled in high school academics and eventually graduated. Until his death, he had many life-long friends from his little hometown. Grandmother was determined that all her children would get an education and have inside jobs. Daddy's uncle was an old maid who worked in the oil fields. He generously sent my father $25 a month to go to college, which was all the cash Daddy had to live on. Daddy graduated from the college that eventually became the University of North Texas in Denton. Through all four years of college Daddy lived in a boarding house and ate only one meal a day. That's all he could afford. He died in 2008, a few days shy of 88 years old. Throughout my entire life, I never saw Daddy leave any food on his plate or anyone else's at the table for that matter. Some habits are hard to break.

My daddy's life story is one of love and triumph. But, his story also full sadness and of people who did not rise to be the best they could in a terrible time. They let their baser motives guide their actions. Daddy's family survived because of church and faith, family, community, the little backyard garden and chickens, and everyone in the family working together for each other to stay alive, including an 11 year old child . That Indiana family has no interest in survival, no instinct for survival. Where is their garden? Where is their sense of urgency to pull together and everyone contribute to the family's survival? They are whining and waiting to be saved, and it's not going to happen. They must depend on themselves.

It's so hard to believe that conditions could ever get this bad again, but as my parents always said, "Life turns on a dime." I fervently hope we never see a return to the dark days of a Great Depression.

Thanks, Jim, for all you do and best wishes to the family. - Elizabeth B.

Mr. Editor,
In his article "Surviving an Expedient Ambush Roadblock While Traveling by Vehicle", M.W. was incorrect when he wrote, "The lead vehicle should place their vehicle at a 45-degree angle to the direction of travel and the weapon system should then be employed across the hood so that the engine block provides a [limited] ballistic shield for those person(s) providing cover[ing fire]."

Do not stand leaning over a vehicle[, thinking that it will provide ballistic protection.]. At 200 yards .30-06 FMJ will penetrate 20 inches solid white pine. It will just as easily penetrate the sheet metal of a vehicle and you. See Hatcher's Notebook.

Have one or more shooters take cover in defilade in a ditch. If terrain permits, then have one or two take cover on a hillside so as to shoot down on the bad guys.


A.) You cannot see through [most] concealment.
B.) You cannot shoot through cover.

BTW I saw a episode of [the television series] Jericho that showed the defenders leaning across cars. I wonder which idiot they chose for technical advisor. - Vlad

JWR Replies: I concur! To amplify on your advice: If you are ever in the unenviable position of being caught in the open, with only a car or truck to provide marginal cover, then make the best of it. Getting down prone will reduce your target signature by 80%. And if you have no available intervening terrain that will provide cover (i.e. you are an open, forward slope), then get as low as possible, positioning yourself so that both a vehicle wheel and the engine block between yourself and los hombres malos. Tires and tire rims are actually fairly difficult for bullets to penetrate intact with any regularity, so they too afford marginal protection. If you are returning fire from a prone position behind a car, keep in mind that it might suddenly take a 7 inch drop, when a tire is punctured, so do not put any part of your body under a vehicle while in the midst of a firefight.

"Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday." - Psalm 37:3-6

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $345 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

You saw the warning signs years ago and decided to be the ant, not the grasshopper. You found and purchased the home on land that is now your residence as well as your retreat.  You’ve gathered the materials to survive, perhaps even thrive, during the coming storms of political upheaval, food shortages, social disorder and economic distress.  You took courses on weapons use and feel confident in your ability to defend home and kin with any of the weapons in your personal armory.  You assembled canning materials and learned how to use them.  You consume, replenish and rotate those foods regularly, not just watch them age on the basement shelves.  You have the house wired for 12 VDC as well as standard 120 VAC.  Your solar panels, batteries and backup generator are all positioned and tested.  The neat stacks of silver rounds lie nestled in protective containers, waiting to be used for purchases when the dollar is finally recognized for the worthless paper it has become.  Medical supplies are all labeled and stored in easy to reach locations in the house, barn and bunker.  Manuals on survival techniques, emergency first aid, growing and preserving your own food, and a host of other critical topics are carefully filed away for future reference in an Internet-limited world.  Stabilized gasoline and treated diesel sit quietly in sturdy underground drums.  Your communications gear includes CB, ham and FRS radios, and you rigged up wired field sets between the main house and outbuildings.

You even took some steps not normally included in the various “Preparation for Apocalypse” articles that flooded the media and which were read by millions.  You measured the firing distance to each property landmark visible from your home and wrote up landmark-specific bullet drop tables for the calibers of rifles you will use in defense.  You got part of a fresh animal carcass from the local country butcher and practiced your wound suturing skills on real flesh.  You picked up and squirreled away various strengths of reading glasses that you don’t need now but may need in years to come.  You gathered moderate quantities of several multi-use chemicals and a book that shows how to make simple mixtures such as match head material, flash powder, and smoke grenade filler.  When buying and storing your paper goods, you didn’t just lay up three years worth of toilet paper, you also remembered that "If The Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy" and, setting aside your embarrassment, you bought and carefully stored away a generous stash of feminine sanitary products.  You knew that having beans and rice for months at a time potentially could be considered a fate worse than starvation, so you added hard candy, plenty of dried fruit and other treats to the pantry.

You feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence as you fine-tune your checklists and provisions.  You can’t plan for absolutely everything, but you feel you’ve done all you can to get ready for the majority of scenarios that might come about. You are prepared.  Or are you?

A vital component that many people forget is preparation as a community. Self-sufficiency tends to lead to some amount of isolation. My own little slice of heaven in North Idaho is a prime example.  Almost every resident of my small rural town is independent, largely self-reliant, skilled, practiced and ready for everything from extreme weather to MZB attacks.  Each of us knows the neighbors who are in our immediate vicinity, and within that small area we all share goods as needed and assist when the situation calls for it.  But until very recently, no one but the Postmaster could say he actually knew the majority of people in our community beyond a wave and a hello as they drove past.

Each micro-community, composed of anywhere from three to a dozen families, had social interaction at backyard barbecues, fireworks displays and 4H meetings, and teamwork interaction at such events as road clearing sessions after a big windstorm or snowstorm.  But these individual micro-communities did not interact regularly, did not know what skills or provisions each could contribute in times of widespread emergency, and most importantly did not know whom to call to rapidly disseminate important, time critical information about events that could impact the entire region.  We had no phone tree, no list of skill sets available within the town, and no plans for assistance beyond what each micro-community did as a matter of practice, informally developed over the years.  We were not truly prepared, even though most of us thought we were.

While it is still an ongoing process of refinement, as all preparations tend to be, we took an approach that may well serve your own community.  First, we advertised a community preparedness meeting, with enough advance notice that people could get it on their calendar if interested, but not so far in advance that it was forgotten by the time it arrived.  The invitation, via signs at the Post Office and Fire Station, and distributed via flyers, had three key elements:

It was to be an informal meeting with no governmental spin or involvement; it was to get folks talking about community preparations for a variety of situations where we could help each other out effectively, while maintaining our privacy and independence, and finally it would include some refreshments. You’d be surprised how many people are drawn by the prospect of home made brownies, fresh coffee and Huckleberry lemonade.

The meeting itself stressed that the purpose was to:

  • Help local citizens to get to know a few more of their neighbors, and
  • Expand preparedness thinking from just individual parcels or immediate neighbors to the entire community.

Also mentioned up front was that the meeting was not called in order to:
- Pry into anyone’s issues with their neighbors
- Get into political debate
- Gather information about peoples’ pantry, gun safe contents, or underground bunker…
- Violate privacy – personal or property
- Pressure anyone to participate
- Fill peoples’ calendars with meetings/activities

We reminded attendees that planning was important now:

- So that preparations can be done when we have time, resources, good weather, low stress levels
- So that friends and neighbors know how the community as a whole will respond, before any action is needed
- So that critical preparations are not overlooked
- So that shortfalls can be corrected before an event makes them a critical issue
- Because some preparations may take a long time
- To avoid excessive duplication of efforts

We talked about the various scenarios that might require the community to band together instead of trying to deal with the issue on our own, including wildfire, extreme weather, a major transportation interruption, a large scale natural (or man-made) disaster, economic meltdown or further acts of governmental tyranny.

We discussed the focal areas that might be established to get people with specific knowledge or skills involved on teams of resource planners/coordinators to allow the best response to the situation:

  • Communications
  • Emergency Resource planning/coordination

- - Food/water/fuels (consumables)
- - Personnel/Equipment/shelter (hard resources)
- Defensive systems
- Medical
- Fire
- - Advanced Preparedness
- - First response
- Unusual hazards and situations

We asked attendees to sign up, voluntarily, for areas where they felt they could add benefit by thinking and researching, providing leadership or just helping out on a time available basis.

We established a web site where residents can find out – at their convenience – about meetings of possible interest; tips from others on various topics such as food preservation, animal husbandry, and ammo reloading; updates to community contact lists; and other information that may be of value but does not warrant continual phone calls or E-mail messages.

We created a phone tree that allows any person to make as few as three calls and be confident that within 5-10 minutes the vast majority of residents had either been personally contacted or had a message left on their phone machine.  The mechanism is simple:
A small handful of people’s names and numbers are at the top of the tree.
The citizen who sees or hears about an imminent danger calls each of these top-tier persons or – if they do not answer – one of the people on the next tier down.
Each of those called passes the message along – briefly but specifically – to each of the names just below their own, on the tree.
Those people do the same until the bottom of each branch is reached, then those at the bottom make a “close the loop” call to each of the original top-tier residents.
[Note: elderly or invalid residents on the phone tree should be physically visited if they don’t answer the phone and the issue is potentially life threatening]

The close the loop step ensures that the community phone tree has been activated, at least partially, from top to bottom and allows cross-trunk communication if the line is severed unintentionally by personal or electronic difficulties.  A community of >1000 people can be reached in just five vertical steps if each person makes just four phone calls without duplication; six steps if only 3 calls per person are made. For events requiring continued updates, such as wildfire location or direction of approaching zombies, the web site can then be used to stay up to date without tying up the phone lines again and again.  To ensure that the phone system itself does not cause a breakdown in communications, the community should have backup schemes as many layers deep as necessary, including CBs or other pre-established radio lines, “pony express” mechanisms using car, ATV, snowmobile, horse, dogsled or whatever makes sense in your region.  This one step alone can dramatically improve your overall preparedness as you will have hundreds of trusted eyes and ears scanning for dangers, hundreds of hands and minds that may be applied to a situation that would overwhelm your own family’s abilities, and a means to call on resources beyond your own wealth – as long as the spirit of give and take is kept balanced and not abused.

Beyond these steps, you might also consider establishing an appropriate number of recurring activities or meetings, whether they are weekly or quarterly as prescribed by the level of availability and interest; fleshing out or refining your community preparedness plans based on detailed threat scenarios that seem likely for your area; establishing response plans, including identification of leaders and supporters; and holding community response drills to see what holes you’ve missed so they can be corrected before a real crisis comes along.  As a final thought for consideration, a hand-cranked 110 dB siren suitable for notifying all locals within a considerable distance that they need to get on “the community net” can be had very affordably on your favorite auction site…

Now you can go clean your M1A again while gazing fondly at your stuffed pantry shelves, secure in the knowledge that you probably are about as ready as you’ll ever be.

Marko liked this Lifehacker article: Build a BBQ Smoker for Under $50.

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JRH Enterprises (one of our most loyal advertisers) is running a Labor Day special on new 3rd Generation PVS-14s for only $2,995. This is a great price, so I'm buying one! The sale ends on September 8th.

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Ticketing tiff ends with courtroom gunfire.

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Two radio towers in Washington state toppled. Possibly the work of eco-terrorists. (Thanks to FG for the link.)

"A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality." - Winston Churchill

Friday, September 4, 2009

James Wesley,
I just had lunch today with a senior bank executive in Chicago. He confirmed much of what I have been seeing in the economy. After picking his brains, I have put together a few economic indicators to watch:

- Christmas will be a financial disaster - people are reluctant to spend their cash. Weak sales will be a tipping point for many retailers

- Commercial real estate is the next “shoe-to-drop”

- Small businesses continue to struggle – their problems will broaden and deepen as credit is strangled – SBA loans are off-the-street, defaults may be as high as 50% and growing, banks are not lending (see – banks holding record cash reserves from Fred Reserve)

- Consumer Credit Cards – the second next-shoe-to-drop – Piled high and deep – longer unemployment means people can’t keep up payments

-Bankruptcies increase – especially in construction industry and real estate-related industries

- Joblessness – watch the U-6 column (the BLS report on a more “real” unemployment number.) Unemployment, according to Dept of Labor is over 16.5%

The big imminent threat? Inflation – “too much money chasing too few goods” as Milton Friedman warned. The government printing money, and inventories are falling –[ a classic inflation precursor].

Economic recovery? At least 18-24 months from now. Media reports about "recession end in sight" are nonsense.

Federal leadership is a “nightmare” – making all the wrong moves. Look for higher taxes, inflation, increased joblessness (as small businesses fail).

Outlook? Grim.

Best Advice – Avoid bonds (higher yields which are needed encourage buyers of US Treasurys = lower bond prices)

Avoid stocks – look for a "W" market move – stocks to go lower ([Dow] 3,800, H.S. Dent says) Why? Corporate earnings are very weak.

What to buy? Farmland and ammunition

And remember, I am an optimist.

Blessings, - Jeff E.

J.W.G. has a great idea with the zinc pennies. When I need to fabricate a part I usually look under the hood of a junked car for something to melt, many easily-cast metals are under the hood requiring only a blown charcoal forge and covered dry steel pot. The Multimachine web site pointed me to a great source of high very quality casting aluminum: the overhead cam cylinder head from a motor that does not use separate cam bushings. Just ask a mechanic that you trust. Here in Israel there are also easily found junked brass plumbing fittings often found around, or for small jobs the coinage here is mostly hard brass too. A good eye and a few junk piles make great seed stock for easily cast metal projects. Anyone interested in going it alone even if they only needs a sub-scale machine should browse the multimachine archives for many tricks on precision improvised machine shop work, low temperature forging, and tools. - David in Israel, SurvivalBlog's Israel Correspondent

Remind your readers to become informed with the danger of melting Zinc. The fumes given off are very poisonous. - Wayne R.

JWR Replies: Actually, low temperature casting of zinc and zinc-copper alloys does not release zinc-oxide fumes. (Unlike welding zinc-galvanized steel, which uses very high temperatures--above the boiling point of molten zinc.) See this article from The Periodic Table web site, for details. This is not to say that you shouldn't use all the normal casting safety measures. For example, casting should be done only outdoors or in a well-ventilated open-sided shop. Don't over-heat zinc alloys unnecessarily, and watch for any telltale white zinc oxide smoke. Always keep in mind that heavy metal poisoning is cumulative, insidious, and essentially irreversible! Avoid repeated exposure to any alloys that include lead. If in doubt, don't melt it!

FWIW, I have been an ammunition hand loader since I was 15 years old, but I have never castany bullets. This was a conscious decision, after doing some research on lead toxicity and accumulation in the human body. In my estimation the risk of exposure to lead far outweighs the benefits derived from lower projectile costs

America's Breadbasket Drying Up (What the article doesn't explain is that half of this drought is political--since California Aqueduct water has been diverted from many farmers. California's water politics are Machiavellian.)

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When is a nickel not just five cents? By chance, I got a fine condition 1944-P War Nickel in change at the local US post office today. (These are 35% silver, with a current melt value of about 90.1 cents per coin, their numismatic value is a bit higher.)

"...if the debt should once more be swelled to a formidable size... we shall be committed to the English career of debt, corruption and rottenness, closing with revolution." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 3, 2009

After the large response to SurvivalBlog's July survey on non-fiction books, I'm starting a new one: What are Your Favorite Survivalist Fiction Books? Please e-mail us a list of your top 5-to-10 favorites, with the e-mail title "Books Survey Input". If you'd like. you can also include another list of your favorite Survivalist Fiction Books for children and young adults. I'll post the results in about three weeks. Thanks!

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I was thinking today about a section I read either on the blog or in the book about getting rid of any habits you may have. I instantly thought, "thank God I quit smoking" and left it at that. Until yesterday. I thought of all the things I do that are my habits that would not be there in a melt down. I found some that I just had not even thought about as being a bad habit that needed to be curbed. I am keeping a written diary of my habits to see where I need to improve or eliminate.

Here is what my list consists of so far:
1. Gum chewing. This is what I replaced my smoking habit with. But in a melt down, where will I get gum to chew? Not to mention it's not something you want in a compost pile!
2. Soda/Pop. I have quit drinking this and have replaced this with water as I am trying to get back into shape. But soda will be gone in the melt down unless you can make root beer.
3. Snacking. I have been known to eat snacks through out the day, hence why I am getting back into shape. My snacks are healthy as I eat fruit but thinking on this, we will need to control the amount of food we eat daily to preserve the stock. So I am eliminating snacking from my diet. My whole family is doing the same thing. We will have a better control on our food supply this way.
4. My glass of wine. I would drink this or cook with it. But in a melt down, it would not be practical. So we are using what we have and not buying anymore.
5. Mints. Just about everyone I know has some brand of mints in their pockets. This is another thing to eliminate. What are in your pockets?
6. Cooking from boxed "dinners". We took a look at the box and decided we can make our own boxed goods with dehydrated goods just like the box does. This is cheaper and will last us longer as the packaging isn't the greatest. We have a huge dehydrator and have made individual meals of spaghetti and meat with sauce. You simply put in one serving of noodles, a dehydrated meat patty, and some spaghetti sauce in the dry package that only needs water. Then you seal it with the kitchen saver and you have a meal on the go with protein that will last a while. (You can do this for most dishes you make).
7. Waste. We decided to look at the fridge and find out what we waste the most of. Waste is costly. We now reuse everything, even if it just to the compost pile. This way we have our habits of our retreat already started and will not be in such a shock when looking at the trash pile.
8. Television time. We have cancelled our cable and have not turned on the television in over 6 months. We don't miss it and it gives us time to learn new skills and to be active and moving while accomplishing things on our list. I did not realize how much television time we used. I like you watch the colony via my computer. Actually you can watch anything via your computer, you just need a program installed. I wont as I just don't want to replace this habit.
9. Watching my change. I have started my nickel pile and have gotten everyone I know in the habit of saving the nickels. My saying is it's for my coin collection. I give no more details to that outside of my family at home. When buying anything with cash, I always ask for nickels instead of any other coin. I also keep pennies in my purse handy to ensure I can get a nickel back.
10. Dog walking. We have started our training of our team walking when we take the dog for his nightly walk. We space each other out and we carry sticks (must have them here with the wild animals attacking our dog). But it gives us the opportunity to fix what we didn't do right while we have the ability to do it under less stress.

My point is we are starting to think about all of our habits. Taking a really hard look at what you do daily will help you determine what habits are they good or bad and do you want to improve them or get rid of them? Will they hurt you or help you? We are creatures of habit. Will yours benefit your or not?

Thank you for all that you do! May God continue to Bless you and your family. Your family is my prayers. - Jane L.

First our prayers are with your family in these dire times.

The first thing about surviving in Cuba was that we did not see it as "surviving", it was more like living, we did not know anything else, as the media in Cuba is tightly controlled.

I remember as a child we did not have glue so we made glue out of Styrofoam and gasoline, just mix them up in a glass container that you could close to preserve and that's it (if you go a little crazy on the gas it would be too liquid and take forever to dry). Canning was done basically with pressure cookers because there was nothing else, so all the knowledge of our grandparents was very handy and since you can't buy a new house we all live together, so it was very common to live in the same house with your parents and grandparents and sometimes your uncles and your cousins. You learn not
to throw away anything useful, screws, bolts, nuts, washers, you never know when you will need them and there is no hardware store available. Food scraps went either to the pigs or chickens or if you did not have any, you give to someone that has, that becomes a bartering tool you can say you will take care of the food and get some part in the profits when they are killed.

I know that a lot of people are amazed at how we kept old cars running, but trust me, it wasn't that big of a deal, a little bit of ingenuity goes a long way. I'll go later into more detail.

We were born with the system, so there was no getting ready like we are doing now, and believe me, no matter how ready you can get, if the S*** really hits the fan and it's TEOTWAWKI, you will run out of things, and even if it doesn't and we are stuck in the middle, then you need people because there is no way you can learn everything.

Your best bartering tool is your knowledge, if you have a trade, mechanic, electrician, construction, carpenter,... that is a life saver, the people that had a harder time were teachers, musicians, economists, etc.

They could not trade their work for nothing. For instance if you are good working with metals you will find someone to get the metals and that person will join with you and you can make parts for cars, if you are a welder you can also join in, remember that old cars were very simple, no hydraulic steering, no power nothing. It was basic carburetor, spark plugs, distribution and engine. An alternator is not that hard to fix, it basically a motor, the parts that wear down can be made again, maybe not the same quality as the originals but they will do. You can also adapt an alternator from another car (we had Russian cars coming in, including some WWII jeep-style Russian vehicles), they are mostly 12 VDC (some trucks are 24 VDC).

A good mechanic will make an adapter so you can use the transmission from a Russian built jeep and make it work with an old American car.

My trade was electronics (we use to call electronics to anything below that 24 volt and electrical anything above) so I will get in when they needed the electrical system of the car fixed, again it is very simple; remember no computers or anything like that in those cars. Here is a link of how a car alternator and a bicycle dynamo were used in the mountains to produce electricity, no means to store it so it was to use immediately, but when there is no power even a radio is an amazing thing. (See this YouTube segment: La Cuchufleta - Alternative Power Generating in Cuba.)

I also fixed radios and television, I used to buy old radios and television and use the parts to fix the other ones.

Later on when computer UPS [devices] became available, by available a mean people started to steal them from the government and sell them in the black market, then we can hook up a battery and get electricity when the power went off, which was very common. No deep cycle batteries, just whatever battery you could get.

Other people were real artisans; they would make shoes with leather and old tires, and let me tell you, they were super nice and expensive.

The hardest thing of all was to get food, because you need food to survive, you can live barefoot but not on an empty stomach, at least not for a long time.

When you were able to buy rice (the amount they give in rations, every family had a ration book, was minimal, so again black market) you would buy a good amount as much as you could afford because maybe next month the guy was in jail or it was impossible to get.

The rice you got was not stored properly so you always had to first put it on a table and go slowly through all the rice to search for small stones and foreign objects, then you put the rice in water and keep moving the rice with your hand and look for bugs, worms, they float and would come to the surface. I still remember as a child that grandma would call the children to "escoger el arroz" (that is what the cleaning process was called).

Milk was always boiled first, that way you could use the top which has more fat to make butter (you saved it till you had enough). If for some reason milk was spoiled and not drinkable you would make a dessert with it, I have to get you the recipe if you are interested.

After you ate the inside of oranges and grapefruits, you would use the rind and cook it in water with sugar and it was an excellent dessert.

To have some variety, you will get spaghetti, crush them and leave them in water, next day it was kind of a soft mix in the bottom, get rid of the excess water, add sugar and an egg and you could make pancakes.

Alcohol is consumed in Cuba in enormous quantities, I have no statistics, but it was relatively easy to make with a small homemade distillery (again quality is not a great concern), and I guess it's a good way to forget the problems, although it brings another problems.

People would fight for the simplest of reasons, and there is no 911, and you better not be the weakest link because your family is in for a rough time because no one will respect you. Criminals would typically give you respect if they know you and you respect them and they knew it was not going to be easy to take on you or your family. If not you would be the target of thieves all the time.

Those are my experiences living in a country in permanent crisis, you would have times when power was on for whole days, and times when power was on for only 8 hours a day, times when it was relatively easy to get meat, or bread and times when it was almost impossible. There is no planning, everyday will bring a new challenge and you have to adapt, and only your knowledge, wits and Faith are going to help you through.

Unless we go down into total collapse - War, in which case all bets are off and nothing will ever prepare us for that because it would be the law of the jungle, whoever is stronger will survive and then you better have a strong group of family/friends or you will have to join a group, because alone you are pretty much gone.

Read the accounts of Somalia and Serbia so you have an idea. I know more of Somalia because my father served for two years (in the 1970s) in the wars between Ethiopia and Somalia, Cuba sent troops there to fight on the Ethiopian side.

I'd also like to respond to a misinformed comment in the article "Developing Our Family's Survival Strategy, by FBP". Cubans cannot grow 70% of their own food as a country, let alone in the cities. Cubans eat a lot of rice, beans and potatoes, there is no place in a city to grow enough of that to supply a family, much less a whole city.

The population density in Havana City, Cuba is 7,908.5/sq mi,

By comparison:
Detroit, Michigan - 6378.1/sq mi
Los Angeles, California - 7876.8/sq mi

So can those cities provide more than 70% of their own food? - ILR

SEC’s Schapiro Calls Derivatives Data ‘Critical’ for Probe

Jeff C. spotted this: IndyMac's mortgage struggle. How does modifying a "liar loan" somehow magically make a semi-employed borrower credit worthy?

From John in Ohio: Is America still depression-proof?

Reader MSB mentioned: The Shell Game - How the Federal Reserve is Monetizing Debt

Oldest Swiss Bank Tells Clients to Sell U.S. Assets or Leave (Thanks to DD for the link.)

Exit strategy? Fed's Plosser: U.S. rate increases could be rapid. (A tip of the hat to Brenda C. for the link.) JWR's comment: This is starting to remind me of the policies that created stagflation in the 1970s.

Karen H. sent us these three items:

Bond Market Eyeing 10% Jobless Rate Rejects Recovery

Oil drops nearly 4 percent on China Economy fears

Shanghai Index May Drop 25% on Economy, Xie says

Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large, sent this interesting article from The Atlantic: In Case of Emergency. The new FEMA Director wants American citizens to take charge when disaster strikes. Here is a key quote: "'We need to change behavior in this country,' he told about 400 emergency-management instructors at a conference in June, lambasting the 'government-centric' approach to disasters."

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There is a great thread of discussion is in progress, over at TMM Forums: Use of antique or classic tractors for gulching

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A remake of Red Dawn? Reader B.H. sent us this: Cult classic remake set in Spokane, but not shot here.

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For anyone that doubts my assessment of Alaska as a retreat locale, please read this blog piece, suggested by Nancy Z.: Shopping day in Nunam Iqua. Also see this follow-up post: Life without running water in Nunam Iqua. The cost of living is quite high in Alaska, as necessities are often shipped in via air. If that flow of goods is ever interrupted, even if you are well-prepared, you'll have a lot very hungry, desperate neighbors.

"If you're not shootin', you should be loadin'. If you're not loadin', you should be movin', if you're not movin', someone's gonna cut your head off and put it on a stick." - Clint Smith, Director of Thunder Ranch

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There is some very significant news in today's Economics and Investing section, so don't overlook it.


Today we present guest article, some sage advice from veteran global affairs analyst by Don McAlvany, the editor of the highly-recommended McAlvany Intelligence Advisor. You'll see that it synchs nicely with my own preparedness Precepts.

1. Change the way you look at everything. Rethink your entire lifestyle.
2. Develop discernment about people.
3. When you invest, invest first in the right people.
4. Honesty, look at yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses.
5. Seek the counsel of others you trust.
6. Find like-minded people who can be part of a mutual support group and who you can cooperate with.
7. Find alternate methods for doing everything.
8. Develop an instinct for what doesn't feel right. No matter how good something looks or sounds on the surface, go with your gut feeling, with your instinct, with your intuition.
9. Eliminate non-essentials from your life. Eliminate all time wasters and money wasters, and things you don't need - i.e. clothes, furniture, junk, etc. Eliminate television from your life.
10. Simplify your lifestyle - learn to say 'no' to things or activities which do not make you self-sufficient. Learn to place
God and yourself, and not other people.
11. Develop physical, mental and spiritual disciplines.
12. Learn to treat everything as if it were irreplaceable.
13. Buy things that will last, even if they cost more.
14. Acquire tools that do not depend upon electric power.
15. Learn to spend time alone with yourself in total silence - think, reflect, reminisce, and plan [or strategize] in silence.
16. Learn to spend time alone with yourself and your family, apart from superficial entertainment and distractions.
17. Learn something from every situation you are in everything you hear, see, touch, or feel has a lesson in it. Learn a principle from every mistake you make, from everyday life situations.
18. Make sure your trust is in the Lord and not your own preparedness. Pattern your preparedness according to the guidance of the Lord. Listen to what the Lord puts in your heart - don't use only your
reasoning power.
19. Learn to enjoy simple pleasures from the smallest things - have measure of joy and happiness that doesn't come from creature comforts or entertainment.
20. Store up memories for times of isolation or separation from your loved ones.
21. Establish priorities for all of life [i.e. relationship, needs, present needs, future needs.] Set goals for areas you'll be proficient or self-sufficient in. Set a schedule or time line based on money and time you can invest in self-sufficiency.
22. Examine the concept of civil disobedience [from the Bible and history.] At what point should the people of Egypt have said 'no' to killing the male babies in Moses' day? At what point should the
people of colonial America have said 'no' to King George? At what point should the people of Germany have said 'no' to Hitler? At what point do we say 'no' to despots in our day - when they take
over money, our property, our guns, our children, our freedom? Decide what is your choke point - when do you move to civil disobedience? [For many throughout history - it was when evil
leaders handed down edicts that were directly contrary o God's Word or commands.] Don't set your choke point too early or too quickly, nor too late, nor never. Think through or calculate a
strategy - then never look back.
23. Learn to ask the right questions in every situation. [In 'Operation Waco,' nobody asked the right questions.]
24. Bring orderliness into your life. If you live in disorder it will pull you down, it will break your focus. Think focus versus distraction. Eliminate the distractions from your life.
25. Self-sufficiency [or survival] principles are learned on a day-to-day basis and must be practical.
26. Always have more than one way to escape, more than one way to do something. Have a plan B and a plan C.
27. Everyday life [and especially crisis] requires 'up-front systems' and 'back-up systems' if the first line of defense or 'up-front systems fails.
28. Real education [or learning] only takes place when change occurs in our attitudes, actions, and way of life.
29. Wisdom is making practical applications of what you know. It is not enough to know everything you need to know. It will only serve you and others if practical application is made of that knowledge.
30. Fix in your own mind the truth about your capabilities. In a crisis situation this principle will keep you from cockiness [or overconfidence] and will provide you with confidence.
31. Decide ahead of time before a crisis arrives, how you will react in a given situation so that you are not swayed by the circumstances, the situation, or your emotions.
32. Beware of being spread too thin in your life. Decide on the few things in life that you must do and do them well. Think focus versus distraction. Make sure that unimportant, non-essential distractions don't keep you from achieving your important objectives.
33. Learn to quit wasting things. Be a good steward of all that God provides.
34. Buy an extra one of everything you use regularly and set the extra one aside for the time when such items may be difficult or impossible to obtain.
35. In every situation, train yourself to look for what doesn't fit, for what's out of place, for what doesn't look right.
36. Teach your children [and yourself] that they are not obligated to give information to a stranger. You don't have to answer questions [not even to a government official] that are none of their business.
37. Sell or give away things you do not use or need. Consider giving away or selling 50% of your 'stuff,' [i.e. the non-essentials.] Simplify and streamline your life, lifestyle and possessions.
38. Find someone who lived through the Great Depression and learn from them how they were self-sufficient, how they made do with little, and how they found joy and contentment in the midst of hard times. An excellent book on this subject is We Had Everything But Money: Priceless Memories of the Great Depression.

- Don McAlvany, Editor, The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor

I just discovered your site this afternoon and look forward to perusing it in depth. I noted your response to the question about hoarding dimes and your reference to the metal content dollar value. Let me pass on a tip: hoard up a several pounds of pennies. Here’s why.

As you know, pennies are roughly 97% zinc and 3% copper. To that mixture, one may add a few aluminum cans and minor amount of copper wire to bring the mix to 93% zinc, 3% copper, and 4% aluminum. This alloy melts at relatively low temperatures and is called “Zamak”. Zamak is a light, strong, easily castable alloy that because of its “campfire” range melting temperature is just the ticket for replacing small metal parts in a pinch.

I keep a bucket of pennies next to the lathe just for this purpose. Although from a “coin melt” perspective this [stockpiling of recently-minted pennies] may look like a loser, it’s a huge bargain when you consider the cost of having the [UPS] boys-in-brown deliver you copper, zinc, and aluminum ingots. - J.W.G.

JWR Replies: I had never fully considered the casting possibilities of zinc pennies with a home sand-casting foundry. I'm a tinkerer art heart, so henceforth, I'm going to save all of the pennies that I get in pocket change. I'll simply leave them all unsorted for now. I suppose that I'll eventually have my kids build us an inexpensive low-volume penny sorting machine, to divide the sheep from the goats. That is, sorting the early 95% copper pennies from the newer (and now more-common) copper-flashed 97.5% zinc pennies.) Thanks for that suggestion, and welcome aboard!

The arrival of my Cabela's catalog today reminded me of how useful a layout blind might be for observation post (OP) duty. Your advice? Regards, ,- K. in Texas

JWR Replies: Semi-permanent OPs should be custom-built, to as closely match the local vegetation, as possible. Any store-bought camouflage is a compromise, at best. Ideally, you should grow local vegetation over the top of an excavated position, for the ultimate in undetectable camouflage. Nothing mimics nature like nature itself. (Anything else that you use won't look quite right, and of course it won't gradually change colors to match, seasonally.) See "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse", for details on LP/OP construction.

For truly temporary OPs 48 hours or less), I prefer using an oversized poncho of very rough-textured ghillie-type camo materials. Again, try to get materials that match the local vegetation colors as closely as possible.

This may be one of the most important pieces of economic news in many months, yet is did not receive much mainstream news coverage when the wire story was circulated yesterday: Beijing's derivative default stance rattles market. This implications of state-owned Chinese industries being given carte blanche to nullify derivatives contracts are enormous. You'll probably recall that I have been warning about derivatives counterparty risk for almost three years. And it was there that I specifically warned about the risk of "disappearing counterparties". This new turn of events will likely shake the very foundations of the global derivatives markets. If the derivative contract holders fail to call the bluff of the Chinese (or if their respective national governments don't back then up), then the entire derivatives market may disintegrate into chaos-or perhaps fracture into regional subsets. But if they do call their bluff, and the Chinese then decide to play hard ball (read: non-participation in US Treasury Note auctions, for starters), then it is impossible to predict how this might spin out of control. Entire currencies and even governments may topple. Expect to see some votes of no confidence in some of the parliamentarian states, and perhaps even rumors of war. Do you remember my analogy of "kingdom towing" that I posited back in 2007? Such events are starting to look even more likely.

And, speaking of derivatives... Wall Street Stealth Lobby Defends $35 Billion Derivatives Haul

I found this linked over at (one of my favorite news aggregation sites): Lefrak: Commercial Real Estate Will Kill 500 Small Banks

This Reuters article was linked over at Total Investor: Cerberus clients overwhelmingly want out: report. The troubled times for hedge funds that I predicted back in Aught Seven are far from over. As long as the global credit markets remain in turmoil, anyone that borrows short and lends long will will continue to be in deep trouble.

Bradley recommended a "must see" videotaped interview posted over at the Lew Rockwell site: Faber: Central Banks Blowing New Bubble. JWR's comment: Faber's predictions are quite possibly right, although he is a bit fuzzy on timeframes. He said: "One stimulus package will lead to the next one, and more money printing, and so in five to ten years time the real crisis will break out, when the whole system collapses -- that will be the end." Faber reiterated his earlier advice to the same Aussie journalist, that goes beyond economics and gets down to quasi-Rawlesian survivalism: "Buy a farm and a gun..."

Odds 'n Sods:

Several readers sent this: The Farmer's Almanac's Frigid 2010 Forecast. Have you cut and stacked plenty of firewood?

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LJ in England sent this: Blackout Britain warning as Government predicts severe power shortages within a year

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Steve S. recommended these two Lifehacker articles: Boost Your Map Skills for when GPS Fails You and, Get to Know Your Edible Berries with a Simple Mnemonic

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Tom B. mentioned this: 'Preppers' get ready for the worst; Movement to stockpile for emergency at all-time high

"A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious.But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears no traitor; he speaks in the accents familiar to his victim, and he wears their face and their garments and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation; he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. The traitor is the plague." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Courtesy of SurvivalBlog reader M.E., I have posted a new downloadable Excel spreadsheet: Silver World Coin Melt Value Calculator. You might find this a helpful shortcut, especially since circulating coin weights are expressed in grams, while silver is typically sold (and quoted daily) by the troy ounce. In assembling the table, M.E. used the oft-quoted coin weight data available in books like the Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000, and in the Charlton's Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins. This spreadsheet will be kept available at my Investing static page, indefinitely. Thanks, M.E., I owe you a favor! Thanks also to reader Eric C. who kindly expanded the spreadsheet to include US Mint silver coins.


Today we present another entry for Round 24 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) and C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $345 value.)

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 24 ends on September 30th, 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.

We started prepping about 18 months ago. I have felt like a chicken with its head cut off, going wildly in all directions. I’ve learned a lot about a lot, some by research, but have learned most from doing. Being prior military (I served six years in the Army Captain, and as a civilian, I was a financial planner), I started identifying mission statements and initiating plans, backwards (aka backwards planning) in order to get them accomplished on time.

The first mission: “How do we survive hyperinflation?” My readings led me to believe that the best protection is to plan on not needing to spend money on stuff and save money for taxes. The question is how to accomplish that! I concluded that becoming as self-sufficient as possible and inter-dependent and mutually supportive with other like-minded persons.

Another mission: “How to survive societal meltdown with options and strategies.” We determined that we needed to prepare in-place in our current home while we simultaneously worked to identify a homestead, but one that also optimized our security needs under a societal meltdown scenario. We had to define those security needs and defensive goals. We also decided to initiate some basic security in-place.

What kind of retreat? What does one need for a retreat and where? Our pursuits included looking at everything from two perspectives, the retreat and the in-place strategy. We have decided that if we haven’t relocated, that bugging out would entail leaving the majority our resources and is not a viable option. We will defend in place if we don’t get relocated before TEOTWAWKI.

My research indicated that to be fully self-sufficient where we not only grow our own food, but also that of our livestock, that we would need around 15 acres. Notably, a 5 acre homestead would do a lot! In researching homesteading and agriculture in-place alternatives I found out that Cubans grow 70% of their own food in the cities! I found that there are several cases of very small acreage homesteaders of an acre or less growing nearly all their needs! I recently discovered that I wouldn’t need to preserve so much if, instead of a huge garden once a year, I maintained a year-round greenhouse and grew what we needed on a staggered rotation basis inside the greenhouse with fresh food all the time! This year a summer thunderstorm hail storm wrecked a good portion of my garden and reminded me of the need for having a storage pantry! I will be doing a bit of both, for safety.

Other factors which have bearing on the retreat are:
1. Water. We wanted a creek, and especially if it had hydroelectric possibilities year-round; plus sub-irrigated property, and possibly a spring. Meanwhile, we have purchased a number of water barrels, filled them, and discovered some alternatives to ‘keep’ the water: bleach every 6 months, or other additives which could keep it up to 5 years, or boil it before use, and /or filter it. We bought a water filter system. Wells are acceptable for domestic use, but we still want a dependable surface water source in case the well ran dry. We found information available on property wells on the Internet under ‘well logs’ and the respective state.

[JWR Adds: Finding a property with sub-irrigated pasture is great, as is finding a property with micro-hydro development potential. But finding a parcel with both is a genuine rarity, because land that is sub-irrigated is almost always dead-level, near a stream or river. But for good micro-hydro power, you need a fast-flowing creek or river, with plenty of "fall" that you can exploit. For that, you need hilly property, not "bottom land." So those two goals are almost mutually exclusive, unless you buy a huge parcel that has both features.]

2. Sun. We looked at properties, and in particular, the garden and agricultural spots for solar exposure. This is affected by location such as northern or southern latitude, proximity to trees and hills, sun-angles including winter sun. We also looked into Solar for Solar Power. We found hydro-electric power to be less expensive and more available than solar so we have decided to make hydro a priority on our retreat search.

3. Soils. Self-sufficiency is agricultural based so having access to good soils for crops and livestock is paramount. Soil also needs to drain well for crops and septic systems as well. Meanwhile, our home garden soils have been amended (enriched) with compost and chicken manure and the garden looks like Hawaii, lush, green and prolific! The county ‘extension office’ was able to provide a lot of information about the agriculture in the local area of interest.

4. Elevation. The higher the elevation of the property, the shorter the growing season is. We determined that we preferred properties below 2,400 feet elevation, and although we love Montana, we found that virtually the entire state is above 3,000 feet, and Wyoming is largely over 4,000 feet, Northern Arizona is high elevation too! So, for agriculture, we like parts of Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

5. Population. After fairly extensive scouting of the territory, we found that a lot of the country is fairly densely populated, especially the good agricultural areas! It takes a lot of research, to locate remote properties. We found a useful tool for this research is the Internet, and specifically, (which also has aerial views) and Google Maps (which has terrain view) and (aerial view). We found that the listing office web site often had additional information and pictures available. The SurvivalBlog provided a link to a great city population comparison tool at

6. Security. There are numerous factors to consider when contemplating retreat security, including in-place home security: the Lay of the land, Visibility, Obstacles, Community, Alert systems, Accessibility, Cache, Population, and Ammunition. Regarding Ammunition, if we need to defend in place in our current home, it would be appropriate to have more shotguns and handguns for the home. Rifle fire in a residential neighborhood is not a good choice. We don’t want bullets flying out through the neighbor’s property. Looking at fields of fire and early warning systems has become a high priority. We remember that it was during the Los Angeles riots that the armed Korean businesses were left alone, passed on by and onto easier targets. Being armed is important!

How does one survive hyperinflation? Research includes Harry Figgie's book Bankruptcy 1995, in which Chapter 8 spells out the history of hyperinflation. I figure that the US didn't go Bankrupt in 1995 because it has been spending Social Security funds for operating capital. Can you spell Ponzi scheme? Other research included the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic 1923, Argentina 2001, and Zimbabwe today. I have obtained an actual 100 Trillion Zimbabwe dollar note, worthless and no longer a currency, as a reminder of where we are headed. The Zimbabwean people have to pan for gold to buy bread. With worthless currency, the population (will that be us?) cannot get paid enough to keep up with the ever increasing costs of things and cannot afford heat, or food.

It is my belief that hyperinflation can be survived primarily through Homesteading and Self-sufficiency and/or inter-dependence in a tight-knit group. Essential Elements for self-sufficiency and which I/we have done include:
1. Canning. With the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, which is about $6 at Wal-Mart, you can ‘can’ almost everything you may want to put up including meat, vegetables, and even condiments and meals! I also discovered Lehman's catalog is indispensable for homesteading tools!
2. Gardening, Green House gardening, Container Gardening, and growing Herbs. This year I have learned about non-hybrid seeds, to grow crops that I can and did save the seeds to grow the same crop next year without having to buy seeds. I also saved seeds from fruits and vegetables eaten and successfully grew and harvested crops this year from them!
3. Dehydrating (vacuum sealing jars and crock-pot meals) These 9 incredible videos are on dehydrating foods and preparing meals, really quickly too.
4. Making bread (wonderful resources are at and and many more.)
5. Making cheese (with friends)
6. Spinning wool (with friends)
7. Food storage long-term, Poly buckets, Mylar bags
8. Inventory management (FIFO) Pantry rotation
9. Cooking out of the pantry ( "Store what you eat and eat what you store!"
10. How to make stuff from scratch (baking powder, toothpaste, shampoo, dinner Not in a Box, beer, soda, root beer, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, butter, soaps, sew, automotive repair/rebuild, and much much more…)
11. Water. Water barrels and RV water system. Roof is ample for rain collection and plan on the above ground swimming pool for a holding tank.
12. Power. Our new China Diesel generator from India is nearly finished (teardown/rebuilt). It should run for 30 years. Long term fuel supplies will be a ongoing need.
13. Refuse/Garbage/Recycle … by canning and making from scratch, we have virtually eliminated ‘trash’. Leftovers get reused and consumed in casseroles, stews or other dishes and / or fed to the dog. Vegetable remnants go to the compost. Yard and trees waste get run through our shredder and put into the compost pile for our garden. We run two compost piles year-round.
13. Livestock. Currently in town, we are planning on chickens, rabbits, plus bees. We are fortunate enough to have an acre. If we are to make it on only an acre, we may have to barter for livestock feed because we may not have enough land to grow it. We can at a minimum raise rabbits for meat. We have city friends which have raised chickens, rabbits, bees, and sheep successfully for years. We look forward to a remote retreat where we will have more options for livestock.

How do we survive a melt-down crisis?
We decided that we wanted to provide for at least a year of reserves. We came to that conclusion calculating that our food supplies would need to carry us until we got the garden harvested in the year following the collapse; and, time to acquire and raise livestock (hopefully we would have chickens, rabbits and goats at a minimum before meltdown; but, if not, we have alternative foods stored for a minimum of a year!) We determined that there are several ways to achieve this goal depending upon timeframe, time you have to do it yourself, and money. First you have to determine what you need and how much. This can be quite involved depending upon your approach. Then your options are: Meals-Ready-to Eat (MREs), packaged foods such as Mountain House or Alpine Air which are either freeze-dried or dehydrated and you just add water, or you do it yourself, which gives you some flexibility and more important ‘repeatability’, but is very time consuming, and that is important if you think there is not much time left. You may want to ‘acquire’ a year’s supply of food package, and then learn ‘how to’ as you go. We found poly-buckets free at Costco Bakery, and for a nominal cost at Nalley's. Yes, they smelled of icing or pickles, but washed up fine and are food grade. With Mylar bags and CO2 from the local welding shop, we put up food stores readily.

In addition to food, we wanted a year’s store of normal shopping of household supplies: toilet paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, (handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex tissues), (towels instead of paper towels), laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo (sure we could make it, but we’d need “fat” and “hardwood ashes” to make it ourselves), medical supplies for general medicinal and also for emergencies: bleeding, dental, disease / quarantine supplies (masks, gloves, antiseptics), etc. We also anticipate that the banking system will not be available, i.e. there will be no operational ATMs, no open Teller Windows, and credit cards will be declined/inoperable. We set aside an amount of “cash”, today’s currency, for our crisis operating capital, and some in silver. We liquidated some IRAs to obtain the assets now. To us, these assets are better now to get prepared and are better than having more, but worthless currency in the future. The saying, a bird in hand is better than two in the bush, comes to mind. We have researched the metals markets and deemed them manipulated but with lots of upside (see Ted Butler's commentaries). We feel that one of the best investments is agricultural real estate.

We are debt free and hope to stay that way. We own our own home free and clear. This is not to brag or make someone feel bad, but rather to motivate you to wonder how. It is by not being a ‘consumer’, but by being balanced and frugal, buying what we needed, foregoing vacations, doing without ‘designer labeled jeans’, without landscaping, however we did invest in having a dump truck load of dirt dropped in the backyard for the garden since all we had was rocks for soil. We have several original household appliances and fixed them when they broke instead of getting new ones. We buy good used cars, maintain them well and keep them for years as long as they meet our needs.

I believe that there is a game of keep-away when it comes to how to get and stay ahead financially. The banks and others profit more by people remaining ‘consumers’ and participating as a throw-away society. Massive disinformation exists to misdirect and profit from the populace efforts. A lot of wealth for others is made and maintained by keeping the populace misinformed about financial tools, how they work and what they are used for correctly. However, ‘financial tools’ (CDs, Stocks, Insurance, Loans) are exactly that, “tools”! Tools can be an incredible resource and can help us build monuments, or can be deadly weapons that can destroy us.

Financial success starts with you. Identify your ‘needs’. Spend to meet your needs, not to ‘save’ on an on-sale item that you truly didn’t ‘need’. Shop wisely. Will second-hand merchandise meet your needs; can the item be repaired, etc.? Take care of your things and you don’t have to replace them so often.

You need to shop and learn about financial tools to meet your goals. The first is the placement of your savings (short-term, mid-term, long-term). There are numerous options with a few listed below.

Banks ‘are not your friends’! They are a ‘Tool’! They are a place to situate your short-term cash--your working capital that is used to pay bills.

Loanership dollars where you loan your money for a rate of return to you (interest): Banks (CDs), Money Markets, Insurance Companies (annuities), Corporate (Bonds), Municipal (Bonds), and Government (Bonds).

Ownership dollars where you invest your money and accept ownership risks (of loss or gain):
Stocks (owning a fractional interest in a company), real estate (your home, other real estate), Partnerships (business enterprise, etc.), and Precious Metals.

Insurance is a “Tool”! You need insurance to cover the calamity expense/risk(s) which you cannot afford, only! Often, you are not informed that your premium would be much lower if you accepted a higher deductible. It might be inconvenient to have to pay $1,000 if your car was wrecked or your home damaged, or a major medical claim, but the insurance would cover a catastrophic loss!

A home loan is a tool too. The structure of a loan is important, fixed or variable. Variable contains a ‘gamble’ element. Unless it is stipulated otherwise, most home loans can be prepaid, or accelerated. You have the ability to pay an extra amount above the mortgage payment. This extra amount can be applied towards principal, which you need to specifically specify ‘apply to principal’! Pre-paying a mortgage, especially in the early years of a loan is one of the greatest savings rates a person can achieve!

We actually paid our 30 year mortgage off in about 12 years. Admittedly, our friends drove newer cars, went on vacations, have better furniture, prettier lawns, fancier clothes, and went out to dinner and the movies more than we did. However, we are debt free. Yes, we are still worried about tight finances and the world situation, but our current position is a lot less stressful than being loaded with lots of debt. It can be done, with sacrifices!

It is an imperative for Americans to educate themselves, to not trust the system. Find out about things. Get inquisitive and broaden your horizons. This year I have eaten cooked nettles. Yes, it was very good. It was similar to spinach and no nettle burn! I had Yak meat at a local restaurant and now want to pursue having Yaks for livestock. Learn new things and hard skills. Become creative and inventive; how else can it be done? Become flexible, find alternative ways of getting things done, adapt!

We have a small group of friends with whom we meet regularly, try new projects and explore ideas. Our daily ‘walks’ have helped us meet our neighbors. Our friends suggested that we hold a ‘Meltdown Neighborhood Tea Party’ Potluck get-together. That sounds like a good idea to meet our kind of people. I believe we can do anything we put our minds to, especially if we work together.

Mr. Rawles,
I loved seeing the recent mention of the older Boy Scout Handbook on your site. I know I have been writing you back and forth for ten years or so now and I can’ t ever remember mentioning my Boy Scout history and the materials I have collected from the various Boy Scout books over the years.

First off I am an Eagle as are both my brothers, as is my father and all of his brothers, and as was my grandfather and all of his brothers who were young enough to participate in scouting (his older brothers were 18 before scouting came to the U.S.) My oldest is about to become an Eagle Scout and my second son is well on his way (one merit badge and a project to go …)

I have on my bookshelf and ready to toss into my kit when/if we have to leave the house a 34th printing of the “Handbook for Boys” printed circa 1940 which was my father’s book, a reprint of the 1911 printing of the same (the one my grandfather would have used), a 1981 version (mine), and 1998 version (my sons version which I used when I was Scoutmaster). I also have the matching Fieldbooks for the same years. And a very large collection of the various merit badge books. Most of these you can pick up for next to nothing at a garage sale these days but they are packed with vital information that really is not covered in other places – the only primitive survival book that I have found that comes close to the Boy Scout materials (especially the older ones) is the Larry Dean Olsen book.

For example in the older Boy Scout manuals there are instructions (which I have both practiced and taught) for: making tents from canvas tarps, rations prior to widespread adoption of freeze dried/canned foods, recipes and cooking methods for the same over an open fire, tracking, signaling, and on and on and on. I have enjoyed teaching the boys over the years about things such as sloosh and mountain man bread, how to cook meat directly ON a fire, etc. Probably the best time we have had was canteen cup weekend – you got a canteen, a canteen cup, a spork, and had to pack your own rations to last the weekend and be cooked and eaten in the canteen cup. (The canteen cup can be easily substituted by a tin can or similar scrounged container.)

For those of you who don’t know slosh is a cornbread made of corn meal, egg, lard (or leftover bacon drippings), and just a wee bit of water and cooked either on a stick or if you are lucky in a fry pan. Mountain man bread is similar but you use wheat flour. Or if you are cheating (or showing boys how to do it for the first time) you use canned biscuit dough . . . Both sloosh and mountain man bread can be made with ingredients that store for a long time when you are on the trail without any special preparations. Flour, real bacon (smoked and dried not the stuff sold in the stores as “bacon” today), and lard last a long time. As a side note the pioneers would pack eggs in lard or grease (not Vaseline) to store them for a trip. My family tells tales of a large water barrel that was filled with eggs and had cooling bacon grease and lard poured over them lasting from when the wagons left Independence until they got into Utah.

Needless to say my scouts quickly learned how to quickly boil water in a canteen cup with a small fire, and eat dried oatmeal for breakfast, trail foods like gorp and jerky and pemmican for lunch, and then to use bits of jerky or pemmican to flavor stews and soups for dinner. We used the edible plants guide to forage for wild plants during the day as we walked and then added those to the stews/soups for dinner. The boys who packed lots of food quickly would fall behind and would quickly get tired of the bland sameness of top ramen noodles.

And between the bacon grease/lard mixture and bee’s wax you have a good way to keep leather conditioned and waterproof on the trail. In fact I just picked up a child’s saddle for my daughter for $20 and reworked the leather using bee’s wax – and now she has a beautiful saddle in nice cordovan color that will last her for years and years. The parts that needed to stay flexible such as the skirts were worked with lard/bacon grease at first (leave the leather in a warm place so they can slowly melt into the leather) and then a top layer of bee’s wax.

Probably my favorite example of the importance of the basic skills that the scout books contain though deals with my uncle. He had just finished up medical school and residency and had come home to Idaho when he witnessed a car accident. Without thinking he ran over and performed life saving first aid on the woman who was injured. And then afterwards realized that what he had done was not learned in medical school or his residency but rather was the end result of his Boy Scout first aid training many years before.

Norman in England recommended this article about a solo documentary filmmaker's experiment in the Yukon: Fifty days and nights in the wilderness. Note that even in warm weather he reached the psychological breaking point in just seven weeks. This adds credence to my assertion that going solo, playing "Batman in the Boondocks" wouldn't work for 99.9% of the population. Please make realistic plans, and establish a well-stocked and fairly self-sufficient retreat. It takes faith and friends to survive!

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From DD: Continued l.os Angeles fires double in size. And, speaking of the fires, here is a YouTube link from KAF: Fires Over Los Angeles - Time Lapse

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GG sent us this from The Wall Street Journal: Home Barbering Grows in Recession, With Hairy Results

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Home Birth with Midwife as Safe as Hospital Birth: Study. (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

"They didn't have rounds for the Buhnder, but we're ammoed up pretty good. Got a discount too, on account of my intimidating manner." - Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb, Firefly Episode 12, "The Message". Screenplay by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear

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